The entire internet is filled with different fat loss tips, trends and topics. This can make it tough knowing either where to begin with a new health and fitness program, or if what you’re currently doing is good and/or working for your body.
As a fitness professional, I sometimes laugh at what is out there on social media and other times I get really frustrated at advice that is not sound information. It seems all of this healthy talk does one thing very well: over complicates things.
In one corner we’ve got pictures of people with super lean bodies who tell you that you too can look like this, you just have to workout 2-3 hours a day and count every single macronutrient you put into your body. And in the other corner we’ve got those who insist that going for a walk in the park and meditating will entirely change your world for the better. While the above opinions are not incorrect, it doesn’t mean they are the right fit for you.
So, what is?
The following six guidelines are simple, straight forward and proven to work. You don’t have to implement all six at once either. Begin with one until it becomes consistent and a habit, then add in another.
Six Health + Fitness Guidelines:
Strength train 2-5 days/week: Put simply, lift heavy weights often. This doesn’t mean go over to the rack of dumbbells and pick up the largest one you see. But when choosing your exercise routine, incorporate loads that will challenge you. I’m a big fan of short yet challenging workouts and am often out of the gym within 30 minutes. These workouts consist of big compound movements (squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups etc.) that get the entire body moving and working hard.
Choose foods that are in their natural, whole state as often as possible: You know the drill here, keep processed foods to a minimum. Eat foods that will nourish you and leave you feeling energized rather than bogged down and bloated. This may mean you do a little bit more cooking but there are SO many recipes out there that are delish and don’t take very long to make. Trust me, I am not a fan of being in the kitchen so meals that are easy to prep and cook are key and totally possible.
Have protein with every meal: This is one of my favorites. A lot of us underestimate the power of protein and how much we are actually eating. This is usually the first habit I will introduce a client to because increasing your protein intake has so many benefits:
- Increase energy
- Keeps you full for longer, decreasing hunger cravings later on
- Increases metabolic rate
- Maintain lean muscle mass when trying to lose body fat
Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep (or sleep quality) disrupts proper hormone function in the body which leads to: increased hunger (and therefore fat gain), increased stress, increased fatigue, decreased cognitive function and much more. Read more about the importance of sleep here. Also note that our bodies recover while we sleep. So for someone who is exercising it is especially important to get sufficient quality sleep. Tips for better sleep:
- Get in bed a half hour earlier than usual
- No electronics a half hour before lights out
- Keep your bedroom very dark
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
- If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, see a doctor to have blood work done to see if there is an underlying cause that could be creating this symptom.
Drink enough water: Mild dehydration can cause daytime fatigue, loss in energy and concentration, can decrease strength, cause cramping and many other issues. The concerning thing here is that majority of us are a little dehydrated. It is recommended that we drink a minimum of 8 cups of water per day. This of course is dependent on the individual, someone who exercises daily should consume more than this. I normally recommend clients have .6 ounces per pound of body weight each day. However, as many of us don’t drink enough water to begin with this can seem like a lot. So start by simply adding in one extra cup (8 ounces) of water into your day. A few benefits of proper hydration:
- Healthier joints and tissue (fascia)
- Increased brain function
- Helps the body process and transfer nutrients
- Reduces fatigue
- Suppresses appetite (increases fat loss)
I challenge you right now to figure out how much water you’re consuming each day. Is it enough?
Don’t stress, brush it off: Here’s the thing with health and fitness: it’s a part of life. Which means there will be days that just aren’t totally on point. Whether it be a crappy or missed workout, too many cocktails, a day where you ate literally everything in sight. Shit happens and we can’t always feel guilty or stressed about our actions. Being able learn from this but then move on and improve is where the true magic happens.