Since January first is only weeks away, I know many of you are already making New Year’s resolutions to better yourself either professionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually. The top New Year’s resolution among Americans every year is to lose weight and get fit, with quitting smoking coming in a close second and eating healthier coming in third. Unfortunately, most do not stick with it for longer than 2 months.
As a personal trainer in San Diego I have discovered that most people quit because they do not see great enough results from what they are doing. Most people assume that if they just exercise 2-3 times a week, cut back on some fast food, and alcohol that they are going to see the weight just fall off. Now do not get me wrong small changes are a good thing, and they will help you get somewhere, however, they are only going to make small changes with your body. If you really want to see some remarkable changes in a quicker time frame you are going to have to be willing to make bigger sacrifices. The harder you are willing to work the greater the rewards. Think about it, if losing weight and keeping it off were easy, everyone would be fit. And with over 70% of the population being overweight, we know that it’s just not that easy.
What I thought would be helpful is to list what you would need to do in order to look like the cover models of fitness magazines, and then work our way backwards. From there you can determine what you are willing and not willing to do to be lean.
In order to have lean muscle mass, look toned and have a noticeable sick pack (men: 6-9% body fat and women: 16-19% body fat) you would have to:
Include 1-2 palms of protein dense foods in each meal.
Include 1-2 fists of fibrous vegetables in each meal.
Include 1-2 thumbs of healthy fats in each meal.
Exercise 60-75 minutes daily, with 2-4 strength training sessions and 2-4 cardio exercise sessions breaking a sweat.
Sleep at least 8 hours per night. Ideally 10pm – 6am
Limit carbs to post-workout or designated higher carb days.
Eat desserts / processed foods once every 1-2 weeks, within reason.
Drink a caloric beverage once every 1-2 weeks.
Limit dining out to once every 1-2 weeks
Avoiding caloric beverages including artificial sweeteners
The last time you tried to lose weight, can you say you did all of this? If you are like most Americans it’s most likely not the case. So you have to ask yourself, everything that you are doing now, what are you willing to change or sacrifice in order to get fit? Understand that the closer you are to this the more likely you will lose weight and the further you are from this, the slower the process will be. It is important to have realistic expectations about what it really takes to look and feel fit.
When I begin working with a San Diego personal training client I look for their top 3 worst habits and help them fix those first. From there we slowly go through and make changes every few weeks until we come to a place where we can find a balance of food intake, exercise, and lifestyle habits that they can stick to. For everyone that is different, and that will determine how lean they become. It is up to them to decide what they are willing to do.
I will use myself as an example. During the winter I typically walk around at about 18% body fat. Since I am not going to be hanging out at a beach, I can get away with being a little heavier, and because of that, I allow myself to be a little more flexible with my food intake and exercise regimen. However, when it comes spring time and I want to get down to let’s say 16% body fat; I know I need to be a little more strict.
I’ll make the following adjustments for 2-3 months:
Instead of eating out 1-2 times a week, I’ll cut back to just once.
Instead of drinking 1-3 alcoholic drinks a week, I will drink one every other week
Instead of having one dessert every 1-2 weeks, I’ll go every 3-4 weeks.
Instead of lifting weights 4 times a week and doing sprints once, I will add another sprint day, and another day of 30 minutes of aerobic activity.
If necessary, I will do carb cycling.
I hope this helps you develop better expectations for the results you can get through your efforts. I challenge you to ask yourself before you make your weight loss resolutions, what are you willing to sacrifice? And understand that the results you attain are a direct result of the work you put in. Good luck!