Are you sabotaging your results?
Quite often I hear people talk to me about their desire and goals for body fat loss. The one theme that comes out in many of these conversations is that their specific result in mind is tied to an event. One example is that they look forward to beach weather and wearing shorts, swimming trunks or bikinis. It could also be a tropical vacation planned or a once-in-a-lifetime event such as a wedding, and they want to make sure they fit into that special tux or dress. They get super motivated and immerse themselves in the plethora of online information about diets and get in quick shape schemes out there. By the way, get in shape quickly does not exist; there are no shortcuts. Their willpower is high because their reason for getting in shape is big at that moment. The truth is that many people achieve results, but they can be short-lived. Why? Because our brain has a body-fat set point and is tied to our self-image. Results are usually achieved by dieting and willpower, and they get to their end destination or event in good shape and then begin to relax and slip back into their comfort zone. This is usually an automatic cycle because that is how the brain works. It keeps us safe, conserves energy, avoids pain and seeks pleasure. Once you stop your diet and slow down on your exercise regimen, the caloric intake typically rises back to pre-diet levels. The metabolism reregulates, and you put back on all the weight you lost. If you experienced this cycle I encourage you to check out my friend’s Winning the Game of Weight loss program.
Set healthy habits and stick to them
The best approach to releasing body fat is to set healthy habits and stick to them until they become automatic. Changes and adjustments in eating, exercise and sleep can be set as good habits. It is best to do your research and select a nutritionist to develop a proper food plan and someone who can guide you through a fitness plan and keep you accountable until your new habits become automatic. Keep in mind it generally takes at least nine weeks to set the foundation for a habit. Determine your appropriate caloric intake for your desired weight and the best exercise plan for you. I recommend exercises at a minimum of four to five times per week. I also recommend high-intensity interval training if the goal is body fat release. You can always start with small steps to get into action and pick up some momentum as you get comfortable. In fact, many people start off this way if they are beginners.
Mental health benefits
We know that regular exercise will reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. In addition, I would like to point out one common condition that you will benefit from in the short term: exercise counters depression and anxiety. But, unfortunately, the reverse is true as well in that the lack of physical activity increases the risk factor for developing it. Clinical psychologist at Duke University, James Blumenthal, says “The majority of evidence suggests that a certain subset of patients can benefit just as much with exercise, if not more, than with medication.”
Today’s generation of younger adults spends more of their day in a sedentary position and in front of computer screens and devices, scrolling through tons of content. These folks are more susceptible to experiencing depressive symptoms.
A healthy feel-good habit for life
Trust me on this one, when you get into a workout routine, you will eventually become motivated by the feel-good chemicals produced in your brain for a couple of hours after each high-intensity workout. This is the release of endorphins from the brain into your system. Exercise also stimulates dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. In my view, I can describe these feelings as a light ‘high’ and empowered state of mind. Exercise energizes you with a sense of achievement and elevates your self-esteem and mood. It regulates your appetite and sleep cycles and distracts you from automatic negative thoughts. I can appreciate that beginning an exercise program is not that simple, given very low motivation levels at first. It certainly takes time to adjust, and that is why I recommend taking small steps initially. It can change the way you play the game of life once you begin gaining traction. A person I consider to be my mentor once reminded me that trying to push a parked car and get it into motion is obviously very difficult at first. However, pushing a car that is already in slight motion is much easier. The same goes for any habit we are trying to create, especially with exercise. If you don’t feel like it, take the first few steps and do a little bit anyway. Make it fun and choose an exercise program that you enjoy doing. Put on your favourite music that jazzes you up! I have some excellent training routines up my sleeve that I am happy to share with people at all levels.
Support your fitness efforts with a sound nutrition plan
Make sure to set a fine balance between protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. I recommend a caloric balance of 50% complex carbs made up primarily of green veggies, 25% lean protein, and 25% healthy fat intake. You can reduce cravings for processed foods and sugar when you have this proper consumption balance in place. It will lead to stable blood sugar and a healthy gut and mind. Refer to my previous post here on healthy food choices.
To get started on your health journey, you can download the free guide – 3 Pillars to upgrade your health, where you’ll gather some great information on living your life in a balanced and healthy way. Live well!