Here are my top 10 guidelines for getting in shape… this does not necessarily mean losing weight, but improving your body composition and your overall health. I write these with women in mind who usually want to lose weight, be thinner and look toned. However I want to emphasize that getting fit has to start with a healthy mentality. I have seen and heard from so many women who use negative self talk to beat themselves into losing weight… and this usually works… for a little while. The problem is that when you use negative motivation the following things happen:
- You feel bad about the way you look right now
- You create a habit of looking at the things you think are negative about your image
- You feel deprived and like the diet or exercise regimen is a task in order to stop these thoughts and emotions
- Once you have lost the weight or achieved your goal the motivations is gone and you will quickly fall into your old patterns
So that brings me to my tips and tricks
- Positive motivation. By this I mean that you should start by thinking about what you want, set some goals, but also visualize the way you want your body to look. Make these goals reasonable and think about the body type that you have. If you are naturally muscular then don’t try to look like a stick thin model: if you are naturally tall and lanky you won’t develop huge muscles overnight and that probably isn’t your goal. Then think about how awesome you will feel when you have reached that goal. Break that goal up into little pieces and take credit for your little achievements. Be happy about seeing that much more definition in your arms, or having your jeans fit a little looser and feel good about each day that you are working towards your goal.
- Let yourself off the hook.
Everyone has slip ups. Like I said above you need to feel happy about each day that you are successful in working toward your goal, but if you have a meal or a day where you fell off the wagon do not berate yourself for it. More importantly do not try to counteract the bad effects… sure you should get right back on track and maybe put in a few more minutes of cardio but don’t freak out. Also, please PLEASE do not react by starving yourself. Starving yourself makes your body freak out because you are a product of evolution and it thinks there is a famine coming, so it will hold on to every calorie you do give it and store it as fat. I know it’s a natural reaction to try to balance out what you have done, but just go back to what you were doing.
- Eat more. You read that right, well kind of. Most people eat the wrong things and this leaves them feeling hungry all the time. Most people who are in the fitness culture follow a program of eating 6 small meals a day. I do not necessarily think that that is the best way to go for everyone, but if you haven’t tried this approach before I highly recommend it. This does not mean you can eat the same size meals as you normally would. Instead eat smaller portions of good, clean, nutritious food 5-6 times a day. After a few days your body will get used to eating this way and after 2 hours you’ll start to get hungry for your next meal.
- Eat clean. This might be a new concept to you. Eating clean has a tonne of different definitions but what I take away from all of them is to eat whole foods that are close to their natural form and that have a high nutritional value. This would consist of lean meats, eggs, protein powder, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. When you feed your body the right foods and give it proper nutrition you will feel amazing inside and out and you will immediately lose a lot of water weight by changing the food you eat.
- Drink a lot of water. Firstly drinking more water will help make you feel fuller. Secondly water is incredibly important in regulating your system. The more water you drink the less you will retain, this will reduce bloating and puffiness. This is especially important when you are working out because you lose a lot of water through sweating.
- Find what makes you full.
Everyone is different. I am a volume eater which means I have to eat a lot of food in order to feel full. If you are like me you need to find low calorie high volume food. Vegetables are the best for this type; you can almost eat unlimited vegetables without adding a lot of calories. Other people may find they only feel full if they have eaten a good amount of protein or fats. It is all about finding what keeps you feeling satisfied so you aren’t feeling hungry or deprived.
- Lift weights. You may have heard that getting the body you want is 80% nutrition and 20% working out. That is why most of this list is about nutrition, but do not underestimate how vital working out is. Weight lifting builds muscle mass and muscle burns more calories than fat. Muscle also looks a lot nicer in a bikini than bones. Women do not have the testosterone in their bodies required to get big and bulky like men do, so don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights, you’ll rev up your metabolism and it will make you look tight and toned when you peel off the fat and reveal those muscles.
- Use cardio to compliment your diet. You cannot out run a bad diet is a popular saying among fitness enthusiasts and it’s true. Your diet is responsible for most of your weight loss but you can increase the amount of calories burned in a day and therefore the weight lost. It is also important to do regular cardio to maintain good cardiovascular health.
- Stretch! When you train with weights your muscles will shorten and the only way to counteract that is to stretch. Long muscles look much better than shorter muscles; flexible muscles are less prone to injury than tight and stiff muscles; and stretching helps eliminate lactic acid build up which will help you recover faster after a workout.
- Use Supplements the way they are intended… to SUPPLEMENT a good diet. Your nutrition should come first and foremost from a good and balanced diet. However, exercise puts a lot of strain on your body so giving it some extra help in the form of a multivitamin and a protein shake when you don’t have time to cook is very beneficial. I recommend a good multivitamin, a calcium supplement, fish oil (or an omega 3 supplement) and a good quality, low carb protein powder.