The end of December for many indicates it is time to start planning those new years resolutions again and I was no different! This year I vowed to myself that I would into the shape of my life! With good intentions I joined the local gym but inevitably, as with many new years resolutions my determination began to escape me! Just as I was accepting that it may just be another year of falling short I was contacted with an opportunity to take part in the Maximuscle Protein Project! The plan will see me follow a 12 week nutrition and training plan with the aim of shedding a few pounds and toning up!
I caught up with personal trainer Simon James, founder of Lightning Fitness UK for some all important motivation and last minute advice before I began my grueling journey! He began by identifying a common mistake that people make with regards to diet. ”When it comes to nutrition variation is the key. Try drinking a pint of ice water each morning as it will kick start your metabolism.” He then went on to stress that being on a nutrition plan does not necessarily mean missing out on your favourite foods! ”Spices can speed up your metabolism so a simple home-made curry can be one of the healthiest balanced meals you can eat for muscle gain, again keep it varied”
For anyone considering a similar sort of programme its worth checking out the following top ten tips to shedding fat and toning up:
#1. Don’t put so much emphasis on the date that you begin. The idea is to start…it doesn’t need to be in the beginning of the week, although for scheduling purposes, I think it may be easier to start this way. If you can’t begin on Monday for some reason, it’s completely fine to start on Tuesday, Wednesday…or any day for that matter. The important thing is to start, don’t procrastinate and avoid putting too much emphasis on numbers and dates.
#2. Give yourself realistic goals and break it up into long term and short term goals. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds, make sure that you break it down into small increments. It’s much easier to achieve a larger goal when you can reach smaller goals on the way. Try setting daily, weekly and monthly goals. And don’t set your self up for failure by giving yourself unrealistic goals like losing 30 pounds in a month. Remember a healthy and realistic weight loss is about 2 – 3 pounds a week so give yourself realistic timelines to reach your goals.
#3. Don’t start out too aggressive and burn out. Start out at a pace that feels right for you. It’s easy to start out going too hard and end up getting too sore or too tired or even worse injured, especially if you’re not used to working out. Your body needs time to adapt to this new fitness regimen, so give it a chance. You’ll experience soreness at first for sure, but if you start out at a manageable pace you won’t experience the kind of pain that makes it difficult to get out bed the next day.
#4. Fix your diet! You can’t out exercise a bad diet. Period. You need to make sure that you’re eating the right healthy foods that’s going to maximize your fat loss while providing you with the proper nutrients to enhance lean muscle development and optimize your health. Eating the right way will greatly accelerate your fat burning process!
#5. Recovery is just as important as exercising. It’s easy to get caught up in the mode…more is better…especially when your eager to get in shape fast. This “gung ho” attitude can get you in trouble quickly though. It’s best to harness all that energy and enthusiasm and spread it over a longer period of time. Doing too much and not getting enough rest will undoubtedly lead to burn out and put an early end to your health and fitness journey. Now, don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean you can take it easy…if you want to burn fat and get lean, you need to give your best effort every time you workout. But afterwards make sure that you get enough rest and recovery to ensure that you can give it your all the next day. The most important part of recovery is sleep, optimum number of hours of sleep per night is 8 and keep in mind that if you’re performing the right workouts with the right amount of effort, majority of the benefits from the workout comes during the recovery phase. So don’t cinch out on your sleep!
#6. Avoid stress. The most underrated factor that halts your fitness endeavours is “stress”. Stress can ramp up your cortisol levels and undo everything you’re trying to do by exercising and eating right. Although there are mental and physical stresses, it’s the mental stress that I feel can really do damage. Stress is something that can’t be avoided, but it can be managed. There are many ways to deal with mental stress like meditation, breathing techniques, visualization and even talking to therapists. Just because your health and fitness goals are physical in nature, it doesn’t mean you should ignore the mental aspect of the process. Managing your mental stress is just as important in helping enhance your physical transformation.
#7. Fitness is intensity dependent not time dependent. Just because you go to a gym and spend an hour or more doing haphazard exercises and ineffective cardio machines doesn’t mean you’re going to see results. Believe it or not doing the right exercises with proper intensity will get you exponentially better results than spending hours using ineffective methods. Don’t equate time spent with results, make sure that you know how to workout effectively, so you can squeeze the most out of each workout and get the best results without wasting any time.
#8. You don’t need any potions. If you’re looking for a quick fix by taking some fat burner pills, metabolic boosters or muscle building supplement, you’re not only setting yourself up for failure but also possible “serious” future health problems as well. The only thing you need to eat is real whole foods and the right protein supplements. That’s it. You don’t need anything else. Some vitamins, essential fatty acids are fine to take, but it’s not necessary. And the truth is the way we absorb food nutrients is different from the way we absorb isolated nutrients like vitamins. The bottom line…stick to eating real whole foods for optimum nutrition and weight loss.
#9. Cardio is not your best fat burner. One of the biggest misconception about fat burning is that you need to do cardio. Everyday I go outside I see people running and every time I go to the gym the one section guaranteed to be packed is the cardio section…and ironically the one area that’s always free is the squat racks. Cardio has it’s place and when done properly it can be a very effective fat burner, but it’s not the way 99% of the people do it. Don’t base your workouts on long arduous repetitive cardio. You’re going to end up with sore achy feet, ankle, knees and hips with not much else to show for it. Instead base your workouts around effective full body exercises that utilizes your entire body like squats, push ups, pull ups, and lunges. And when you do cardio make sure that it’s based on short but intense interval cardio that really boosts your fat burning instead.
#10. Isolated ab exercises will not get you defined abs. Six pack abs don’t come from doing crunches, sit ups or any fancy ab machines. Even though I see commercials for ab gadgets being sold everyday on TV, it still amazes me that people buy these products. (…I know it’s their fault though…) The only way to get lean defined abs is by burning off all of the fat around your stomach, so you can visibly see your stomach muscles. And the best way to do so is through proper diet and effective fat burning exercises.