You look great! How did you do it? I wish I could do that.
I’ve tried diets and they just don’t work. I’m going to go on the (insert yoyo diet here) next month. I’m tired of hearing it. I’ve got the answer and no one, not one of them wants to listen. There is no special food, no special diet, not magic number; it’s plain and simple. Eat less and exercise more. Now how antiquated of an idea could someone profess? Not only does that sound too good to be true, but it also sounds boring and hard to know where to start. You see, most people can’t stick to a diet because it’s too restrictive. You can’t eat this or that, and most times, “this and that” are your favorite foods. Forget it. It’s just lining you up for a binge that will toss your whole plan in the trash.
Some people will say that they will ride their bike 10 miles a day, everyday. Another terrible claim setting you up for failure. Two reasons here: after a pretty sedentary lifestyle that’s just an overload, and really biking every single day? Your body needs to rest and it needs variance just as much as your mind does. Now once you find what exercises are right for you, you will have no problem implementing 30 minutes a day or more to lead yourself to a healthier and happier lifestyle. The goal here is fitness physically and happiness mentally. A consequence will be a more fit and toned body.
Most importantly is the positive effect you can have on your body AND your mind. You’d be surprised. I’m no fitness expert, or doctor. I’m just one guy who decided I’d rather be 160 than 240. I’d rather run with my child, and live a longer healthier life with them then a coach potato teaching them the same habits. I’d rather have a clearer and more positive outlook on life and a happier feeling inside than a depressed and angry one that lived in my former body. Take my hand, we can do this.
Everything starts with a promise of action: make a commitment. You are an adult, you can stand by your words. Write down your goal. Paste your head on someone else’s body. See it and believe it. This is your first exercise and its a mental one. i actually copy and pasted my face on Steve Reeves (look him up if you don’t know) body. Although it was quite the stretch, I liked imagining myself as a super hero. It might seem stupid, but if it works, it works. You can’t feel motivated imagining yourself wearing a stained shirt, and your beer gut lapped over your sweatpants. Envision yourself already as your goal. You will perceive it, believe it and achieve it. There is no room for doubt here. This is the hard part. The first few days will be excruciating without this promise to yourself. If this is the hardest part, it’s gonna be a (excuse the term) piece of cake from here.
Science claims it takes about three weeks for form a habit. Can you dedicate yourself to three weeks? How about two sets of three weeks? 3 months? That’s nothing compared to the results you can see in that amount of time, and nothing compared to what you can see in a 6 months, or a year.
So you’ve got your promise, and write it positively: ex “I will be healthier for myself and my family. I will tone up, lose ten pounds and be able to run one mile in 10 minutes.” Start small, start big, just start. Pick a day, and promise to start that day.
As a disclaimer always consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise plan.
If I wanted to make sure I didn’t burn out of an exercise plan, I’d make sure I didn’t pile too much on top of myself. Diet AND exercise? Coming from a lifestyle that started with coffee and donuts, then 8 hours sitting in a chair with fast food for lunch and take out for dinner, I’d give up right here. Hand me the chips and turn of the TV.
So I’m going to cut the fat, so to speak at first. Lets commit to not changing our food habits just yet, but lets start that three-week habit here. I like to round things up to increments of a month; so here we go. If you really want to commit here, trust me and take the long way here. As a consumerist society, we want results immediately. This is going to make the process a little slower but if you aren’t one to really exercise, its necessary to get your mind right in the game to create a lifestyle for yourself that you’ve never know. If you are physically active already; combine the diet and exercise right away, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. It takes time for the type of result that last a lifetime. The last thing you want is to put a few months into this and balloon right back to where you were before after a pint of ice cream, a bag of chips and a 6 pack of beer.
Commit to exercising 3 days a week the first week. Just for 30 minutes a day. The second week 4 days a week. The third and fourth week, 5 days a week. Any days you chose and keep a regular rest day. And I’m not even real big on how many calories you burn in this time. It’s going to help you learn to love exercise.
There was once a time where it was hard for me to believe that people could actually like exercising. It looked hard, ugly, sweaty and gross. It seemed painful an uncomfortable. Look: sometimes it’s all of those things, but a lot of time it’s cathartic, relaxing, enjoyable and fun.
Some of the things you already do are exercise. Do you like bike rides, swimming or pushing your kid in a stroller? Do you like yoga, roller skating or dancing? Do you not have a lot of time but do a lot of housework? Mowing the lawn, raking leaves or stacking boxes all are exercises that can count towards your goal. Just DO them for a month, and we can work on counting the calorie deficiency later.
A note about exercise; Cardio combined with weight training.
I don’t know anything too much about fitness, as far as a personal trainer would go. I’ve learned as I go and I’ve learned what has worked for me and countless others who have researched my simple advice. I’ve seen respected doctors mimic these words in one way or another and have read countless books and articles that agree with my thought process. Lets get it snappin’ here, and let me break this down for you in laments terms. Cardio ( biking, running, dancing, etc) is gonna help you lose weight. Thats what I’m talking about here. Weight work, however, (lifting weights, push-ups, sit-ups, etc) is going to help tone up your new, skinnier body and make it stronger. That’s something for you to eventually gravitate towards if you feel like you need it. And no, lifting weights isn’t going to make you look “too big” those people that look “too big” are on steroids, plain and simple. Lets end that excuse right there. Flabby turkey arm, and loose belly skin is still gonna look pretty good under your clothes, but as a side bar of being healthy, I wanted to look good naked too. Think about it, yes, you do too. So don’t count out lifting a little weight 2-3 times a week before or after some cardio, or combined with your workout plan. Unless you are trying to be a body builder, 2-3 times a week is more than enough to spend getting to know your weights. Start small, aim for being able to use them for 8-12 reps on each exercise. More than 12, get a bigger weight, less than 8 it’s too heavy.
Your “diet” and being on “a diet” are two different things. I try and eat a healthy diet and scoff at crash diets and fad foods. I don’t agree with fad diets or weird supplements. I think they are restrictive, make your body miss out of necessary things, and sound stupid when you tell someone you can’t eat bread. Seriously? Get outta here with some “I can’t eat bread”.
Dr Andrew Weil, who believes in following your cravings said ” I think you should pay attention to your body. The point is everybody is different. You have to figure out what works for you.” Should you adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet? Should you cut down your carbohydrate consumption? Should you cut out red meat? You’ll never know until you try. Your body will tell you based on how you feel. Each of the food groups help perform functions in your body and keep it working optimally, so I’d shy away from any diet that omits things with a healthy benefit (i.e. carbs, your brain food) but, follow your cravings, instincts and listen to your body. I don’t prescribe to any particular diet, but I do try and eat fruits, vegetables and some type of protein daily. That’s what works for me. Although its just as important what you’re eating as how much you are eating, lets make this focus on the calories. When you start counting you might consider making healthy choices based on your limitations. If I can eat two bananas versus one cookie, I know what would fill me up better.
Diet, Exercise and Calorie Counters.
This is either your month two, or you are going to combine this section with the exercising. Whatever the case, you are exercising 5 days a week, or if you are feeling over zealous you can go for the recommended 30 minutes a day. Some days I take a two hour long bike ride, other days it’s all I can do to walk a half hour around the block. I like to give myself weekends off. Saturday and Sunday is for hanging with the family. We usually end up doing some exercise anyway, but don’t burn yourself out. That is the single most important thing. Don’t over do it and give up. You’ve gone this far, read this much and I think you are pretty dedicated. I’m proud of you and I’m sure you are seeing the starts of some small successes already. Keep moving!
Now, continue with your five days a week but start paying attention to your diet. The average calories a person needs a day is somewhere around 2000 calories. You will have to create a deficiency to lose some weight. This will automatically help you make better choices when you see how many calories are in foods you might have even thought were healthy! I don’t know any easier way than using a calorie counter. They have them available online, but even easier are ones that are on your phone. This can be a headache but re-read your commitment note! You can do it! If you want to rewrite and reevaluate your reasons, go ahead! Commit to one more month of your exercise but now start logging your food. Apps and websites like loseit.com (I’ve used with great success) help you to monitor your progress, calories and can even help you connect with friends. I’d suggest setting your target weight now with only a small deficiency in calories, again to stave off the dreaded burnout. This month go for losing a half a pound or a pound a week. You can input both your exercise and your daily foods towards your allowance. It works, it’s simple and you can do this! I you don’t have access to a computer or smart phone (how are you reading this article?) or want to share this info with someone that doesn’t, there are tables available to find your appropriate weight, and calorie deficiency and with a little math you can find what you do and don’t need to eat. Use a little independent research to find a diet plant that works for you. I take a multivitamin to fill the gaps, but try and eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, fish and cake. Yes I said cake. Losing weight doesn’t have to be no fun, does it?
If you’ve followed this plan you’ve seen results. Good for you. How do you feel? It’s empowering to know you can change, inspiring to be a driving force in your own fitness and you look great. Look, if a former couch potato who loved nothing more than beer, fast food and sweets can do it, I know you can.
Share any tips you have, success stories or anything else you’d like to add. I’m no expert and I’m always learning.
This conversation is sponsored by Alomune. All opinions expressed are strictly my own.