We’re almost at the mid-point of December and January 1st will be here before we know it. In this industry that means a lot of people are going to be taking another shot at getting in shape. There’s nothing wrong with making a new year’s resolution to change your life and lose weight but there are right and wrong ways to go about doing that. So in hopes of shedding light on some misconceptions and pitfalls, I’m going to cover them here. And hopefully this new year’s will be the last time you have to make a resolution to get in shape.
You might be very motivated to get your weight loss going but don’t make the mistake of trying to commit to 5+ days a week in the gym. You can get there eventually but it’s not needed right away and can actually end up being counterproductive. For people who are not in the habit of managing their time to make it to the gym consistently it’s too much too soon. The biggest thing here is the mental aspect of success vs failure. You want to build from a place of successes rather than constantly feeling like you’re falling short. That feeling of not living up to initial commitments and expectations has killed far more fitness goals than it has accomplished.
I recommend starting at 3 days per week. This is something that’s more than manageable for most and is plenty of exercise to see a lot of progress. You don’t have to be in the gym 5 days per week to reach your weight loss goals so don’t make the mistake of putting that pressure on yourself. I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes per session and a maximum of 1 hour. If you are going to start off only doing cardio, then all you will do is 30 minutes. If you plan to start off with some lifting and cardio, then you have 30 minutes for lifting followed by 30 minutes of cardio. Both are more than sufficient to get you going and seeing progress from week 1.
To put it simply, the major goal here is to build the habit of exercising in a way that you’re accomplishing what you have committed to. Once you’re in the habit of making your 3 sessions a week you can then add a 4th if you want. The feeling of achieving what you set for yourself each week, rather than constantly falling short of it, sets the pace and motivation to continue. You can always increase as you go but don’t try to go from 0-100 right out of the gate.
This is actually the area that’s going to derail most of the new year’s resolutions. Don’t pick a fad type diet (pretty much any diet that has a name). Don’t cut out carbs. Don’t start doing cleanses. Don’t under eat.
Your goal is to break bad habits and replace them with good ones. Spending 100’s of dollars on some supplement program or cutting out entire food groups is absolutely not what you want to do. The people who go this route are also the people who gain all the weight back once they stop the plan. You need to learn how to eat so you can stay in shape long term and not struggle with it.
If you aren’t going to be on a structured meal plan that’s fine. There are just a few simple rules to get you going on the right path.
1: Meal frequency
Eat your first meal before you leave for work in the morning. Lean protein and a good carb source. It could be egg whites, turkey, and an apple for example. Your last meal of the day, contrary to popular belief, can be eaten close to bed time. Those 2 are easy because you’ll normally be home for them so no prep has to be done ahead of time. 2-3 meals for during the day which will make a total of 4 or 5 meals total. You don’t have to eat exactly every 3 hours. The goal is to not go 5 and 6 hours without eating. Eat when you can, just eat the meals. Simple.
2: Lean protein, good carbs
The plan is centered around protein and it’s the foundation of the diet plan. This means at each meal there’s going to be a solid protein source. Stick mostly to leaner sources like chicken breast, lean pork, lean fish, nonfat greek yogurt, egg whites, turkey breast, a protein shake etc. The fattier sources such as red meats (leaner cuts like sirloin, 93% or better ground), salmon, whole eggs etc. are ok also but you want to limit these sources to no more than once a day for most people.
You are also going to have a moderate amount of good carbs with most meals as well. A piece of fruit, berries, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, black beans, potatoes, pretty much anything that isn’t processed is fair game. Don’t be afraid of carbs.
What you will limit will be fat intake. Oils, nut butters, nuts, fatty meats, whole eggs, should be kept to a minimum. And yes healthy fats can be problematic for weight loss.
3: Don’t under eat
This is a major problem with most people new to this journey. If you’re hungry all day, hungry after your meals, tired and sluggish, mentally foggy, etc. there’s a problem with your food intake. You don’t need extreme caloric deficits to lose weight. You should feel satisfied and have plenty of energy during the day if you’re eating right, all while losing weight. Being aware of portions and intake is good, eating like a 65lb 10 year old is not.
4: Leave most of the supplements alone
Don’t go and drop money on fat burners and whatever else seems like it’s going to help. If you don’t have points 1,2, and 3 right, supplements are going to be a waste of money and you don’t need them anyway. Supplements can be helpful but focus on the majors first because that’s going to be responsible for 98% of all progress made. Some of the supplements can also be counter productive if not used correctly so it’s better to just stick to the basics. A good multivitamin and a high quality protein powder are all you need to get started right.
5: Water intake
No you don’t need to drink a ton of water. This is also something that can be counterproductive. You want to drink enough water to make sure you’re hydrated but you don’t have to continuously be drinking. A good indicator that your water intake is on point is needing to use the bathroom roughly every 2 hours. Any more frequent than that, drink less.
I coach athletes, competitors, and beginners. All different types of people have to be approached differently. I come from a competitive background, so I’m not opposed to serious hard work and discipline. It’s all I knew for 15 years. My point in saying that is this. What I’ve laid out here isn’t to make things easy by taking things slower. It’s actually the best way to get a beginner into a plan that they can stick with, improve with, and make consistent progress long term. Do things the right way from the beginning and set yourself on a foundation that can last a life time. Do it the wrong way and you may be making the same resolution again for 2019.
No matter what, just don’t give up. If you have some slips just get back to the plan. This is a process and perfection isn’t going to happen overnight. Just keep making the effort, keep moving forward, and the goal will happen. If you don’t quit, you don’t fail.
As always, I’m available to talk and answer any questions you have. No charge. Just get in touch with me by email at Savage_athletics@hotmail.com or by phone/text at (631) 747-7577. I hope everyone reaches their goals in 2018. It’s worth it.