I can very clearly think back to the days when I really decided I was going to get serious about exercise and my health. Before then, I had only made vague attempts at staying in shape and eating healthy. These bouts would generally last for a few weeks and promptly fall apart as I had no real structure, no real end goals to keep me motivated and to follow through. When I really started to buckle down it was only because I had a vision of myself. This vision was quite unlike the overweight and out of shape version of myself I saw when I looked into the mirror.
User:Extremepullup performing a standard dead-hang pull up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In order to stay on track I sat down and put some serious thought into how I would achieve my goals. Not a half hour browsing over some random health forum but some serious time and thought. I wrote down my weight and diet goals and then came up with actual ways to carry these out other than just, “well, I’ll go to the gym more and just see what happens.” In short, my plan worked. Were there hiccups along the way? Of course, but I stuck to it and having a schedule and an end goal played an integral role in allowing that to happen. Below are some of the things that worked for me Meal Planning The most common misconception about weight loss and gaining lean muscle mass is that more time spent in the gym equals more gains and better results. While a healthy workout regimen is an absolute must for getting and maintaining a fit lifestyle, the majority of this happens in the kitchen. Getting in shape is usually equated to about 30% exercise and 70% diet. We aren’t all mathematicians but I think the numbers here speak for themselves. Creating a mealtime that is both enjoyable and nutritious is perhaps the single most important thing you can do when looking to revolutionize your health and body. In the beginning, this can be a bit of a daunting task as you will probably be operating in foreign territory populated by exotic names like quinoa, almond butter and flax seed but soon, it will all fall into place. With the abundance of technology that is at our disposal, creating a great meal plan is so much easier than it used to be. There are a variety of apps and free software downloads that are at your disposal via the internet. Play around with one that you like. If the internet is not something you are keen on using, explore the health section of a local bookstore. Take notes and see what stand outs to you. From there, develop a meal plan and account for everything, from the breakfast you eat in the morning to the snack you have at three o’ clock, leave nothing unaccounted for. I usually map out my meal plan on a Sunday evening. I used to do this on a piece of paper but now my preferred method is on a computer as I can easily email myself a shopping list to look at when I am at the store. Certain parts of my weekly meals can be created ahead of time (I’m a big fan of oatmeal/chia seed smoothies and I make a big batch of them ahead of time, storing them in mason jars for use later in the week, there is a great recipe here). When you spend the time to create a diet rubric like this, you have a higher chance of actually sticking to it. Calorie Counter App Supplementing your meal plan with a great calorie counter is a really great way to stay on top of your fitness goals. Back when I was working on shedding those extra pounds, calorie counting was a tedious chore done via a logbook and a spare couple of hours a week spent adding numbers against one another. Now, with web and mobile apps this is accomplished in a fraction of the time. For clients that I train, I recommend, “Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker” by MyFitnessPal which is available on the Android and Apple store. The app is free and boasts a robust database of foods that can be easily added to your days intake. The app even lets you incorporate your exercise to see how that offsets your current day’s total. Workout Schedule Now that we have discussed the food portion of the change its time to focus on the exercise portion. Having a solid workout schedule is another important part of seeing changes in your body. When I first started weightlifting I had no idea what I was doing. I knew a few exercises from watching other people do them and I tended to stick with them each time I went into the gym. In order to see the results that you want it’s important to have a set day for each muscle group, ensuring that your whole body is getting the workout it needs. If you are just starting out, take a look at Weight Loss and Training. There are countless workout plans, exercises and videos to give you a great idea of what to do and in what form you should be doing it. If you need to, write down what exercises you will be doing and on what day, that way when you walk into the gym you’ll never forget what’s on the roster. If you have access to a smartphone, bring this in with you too. I always encourage all of my clients to never guess on an exercise’s form. Taking out your phone and Googling a specific video or using an app you have installed to get a better idea of what you should be doing is always a good idea. Have Your Vice Diving face first into your new fit lifestyle can be an exciting time, but remember radical changes don’t happen overnight. In the same sense, completely eradicating foods from your old lifestyle will almost always lead to failure. Be smart about your diet. It’s okay to enjoy some of the same foods and treats you previously indulged in. I usually let myself have a cheat day once every week or so. Can’t give up that Frappacino? That’s okay, just limit how many times you get it and try to drink it in the morning time, giving your body plenty of time to burn of those excess calories. About the author: Sam Omidi is a health coach, educator, and blogs about the weight loss and training ecosphere. He is the founder of WeightLossandTraining.com, a health blog that specializes in just about everything in the fitness world, including carb cycling meal plans. Sam works to help people take control of their fitness destiny through a comprehensive and holistic approach, tailor-fitted to their goals.