In the end, our health is usually one thing we CAN have control over and if you are someone at the start of your journey, remember that Rome has not been built in one day and our attempt to improve our physique and health should pretty much be approached with bearing the same in mind…
We need a plan, patience & vision.
Those with vision move even in darkness.
Our vision for ourselves is best when not focused on the outside appearance alone as our health and beauty are a lot more than just skin deep.
Our vision needs to be strong and inspire action every day, which will make us more patient and committed to a long term goals.
Then we need a plan that is simple, even fun and that nourishes us on our path to becoming the best version of ourselves.
One of the biggest mistakes we all make is waiting for the “perfect storm”, that perfect moment to start something new… to start a new diet, to stop smoking, to look for a better job, start that project, make an important phone call, study for the exam…
The only perfect moment is RIGHT NOW.
Delaying action whilst waiting for that perfect opportunity is simply procrastination and the more we do it, the more we develop a habit of it that can be very costly.
Procrastination is an issue of self-regulation and, when it comes to health, it can cost us our health because we delay doing the right thing for our health and well-being over a period of time that can even go for decades. The result is a poor health, until it sometimes can be too late.
Procrastinators can change their behavior and it is said that highly structured cognitive behavioral therapy can work really well. If you have an issue with starting things – work on your psychology first.
Books are sometimes a great place to start and so are videos and podcasts to help with awareness and insights into what is stopping you and how to take an inspired action and stop procrastinating.
And remember, the path to the best version of yourself starts today and here are some basics to help you get started…
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
First thing is to re-visit how much water you drink daily.
Coffees, teas, fizzy and other sugary drinks simply do not count and all represent problem on multitude of levels including cellular damage, dehydration, low energy, weight gain.
Our bodies function best when body is well hydrated with at least 8 glasses of water a day, which is minimum 2 litres for most adults. More water is recommended for those of a bigger frame, especially men and when exercising as body loses water rapidly through sweat.
Water is sometimes the only catalyst that makes things work. As kidneys are responsible for detox, which can not happen without water, and whilst liver is responsible for breaking/ metabolising fat – when water is scarce, liver tends to help the kidneys and breaking the fat becomes secondary; as a result fat loss will be compromised.
If you are to start with one habit, start with water.
Apart from flushing toxins, water helps digest food & circulate blood. Food contains only 20% of fluid intake, so, hydration through healthy beverages is necessary.
A couple of glasses upon waking up with some lemon and then hydrate with one glass on the hour every hour. Set your phone reminders. Use fruit as water infusion. Green tea is fantastic alternative to regular tea and coffee.
Our Thermojetics Herbal Beverage is great for every day hydration as well as part of the weight management plan. I love adding some lemon to it too for added nutritional benefit.
It is a combination of green tea and other botanical ingredients. It has not been treated with alcohol unlike most teas from the high street stores; process of extraction and purification happens with water and charcoal, leaving the finished product with high antioxidant/ phytonutrient value, similar to the plant when it is picked up; it is highly refreshing and catechins compounds cause thermojetics effect that help boost metabolism and energy levels as well as help burn fat.
Alcohol is a bad news for not only fat loss but for our general health. It is a stress to the body that body treats as a poison.
If you would like to take your body composition to the next level, the best advice I could give you is to not only limit, but completely cut out alcohol.
Not many are able to do that and I approach it with care with clients as it is one thing that causes so much resistance. I do believe in taking small steps and limiting alcohol consumption to less to what is a norm to start with, then seeing the results we get and finally decreasing it further.
One can still have results if weekly units are minimal, up to 1-2 glasses of wine, as an example, but anything more will generally hinder the results greatly.
Cutting on calories in food to accommodate alcohol is highly undesirable and results will be limited, if any. Cortisol is a fat storing hormone in our body that alcohol (together with lack of sleep, too much cardio activity and stress) seem to elevate and, as a result, body is in a state of fat storing rather than fat burning.
So, think about your alcohol consumption and how much you really want to improve your health and body composition. Every success requires some form of sacrifice.
Think Protein to avoid Hunger & Slower Metabolism
Most people need to eat more protein. Or reduce protein coming from animal sources.
Protein is a very important factor for your immunity as body needs protein so that the white blood cells can produce antibodies that seek out and destroy invading viruses and bacteria.
It helps stabilise blood sugar levels and, therefore prevents hunger and fat storing. Apart from multitude of other uses, protein is incredibly important for the prevention of muscle loss over lifetime, especially when you are on a weight management plan.
Dieting is very much linked to a muscle wastage when dieting is not done right, which is the major cause of yo-yo syndrome – losing weight, then putting it back on again.
With loss of muscle, your metabolism is slower and so is body’s ability to burn calories. You may find yourself gaining all the weight (and more) back on that you lost, although you may be consuming calories that used to maintain your weight in the past. Your body has less lean muscle to burn them off and therefore, fat gain is inevitable.
High protein foods such as fish, soya products and low-fat dairy products can help to boost your immunity as well as increase your metabolism and support your lean muscle on your weight management plan.
Protein for Vegetarians & Vegans
Whilst I am not vegetarian myself, I support vegetarianism greatly, even veganism. The only issue I find with clients who are vegetarian or vegan is that they still suffer from an inadequate amount of lean muscle due to lack of protein in their diet, sometimes low energy levels and excess body fat that they simply are unable to shift.
All of these issues are sorted with our personalised nutrition plan that targets what they might lack in their diet – protein, plant protein in particular, and micro nutrient intake.
Whilst eating wholefoods can have remarkable good effects on the body, it is a well-known fact that, according to World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UK Ministry of Agriculture and Royal Society of Chemistry – vitamin and mineral depletion of our soil is a global problem with up to 72% depletion of nutrients in fruit and vegetables in Europe alone over the past 60 years.
Supplementation with pharmaceutical graded supplements can make a massive difference in energy levels of anyone, even those who already follow a healthy diet, Vegetarians & Vegans included who would greatly benefit from more macro nutrient balance in their diet.
Protein for Meat Eaters
Whilst protein is an important macro nutrient – meat eaters should take this information with caution.
Meat and dairy can cause high acidity in the body, that leaches nutrients from your muscle and bones and therefore deplete your energy levels and immunity, therefore meat protein must be well-balanced with plant protein.
Whilst getting THAT beach body will require eating personalised amount of protein each day (around 1 gram of protein for each pound of lean muscle – more if exercising and/or building muscle) in the right balance and frequency – you will do more damage on a cellular level if trying to get it all from animal sources.
My goal with clients who are meat eaters is to increase their protein intake whilst balancing plant with animal sources as well as increase their micro nutrient intake.
Generally, once there is a better balance of proteins v carbs & macro nutrients v micro nutrients (Vitamins and Minerals) established, in the right frequency, blood sugar levels are stable, cravings diminish, energy levels increase and we are more likely to have a sustainable fat loss.
Good Carbs v Bad Carbs
We need to stop thinking that carbs are our enemy. Body relies on carbohydrates for fuel, however, they are not all equal. The least processed carbs such as fruit and vegetables are extremely beneficial as they deliver all important nutrients, vitamins & minerals, to the body, together with powerful antioxidants and fibre.
To get that beach body, if that is what you desire, now that we drink more water and include protein in each meal whilst balancing plant with animal protein – we need to combine some Good Carbohydrates with that protein.
That means having a colourful diet of fruits, vegetables, legumes each and every day.
Bad Carbohydrates will go against our efforts to slim down, feel and look healthy and reduce our body fat. Bad carbohydrates are those highly processed and refined foods such as sugars, pastries, cakes, sweets, cereals, white pasta, white bread, sugary drinks, just to name the few.
They do not boost, but rather bust your metabolism, leaving you craving for more, whilst storing excess calories as fat, depleting your energy levels as they are usually void of nutrition.
They may also compromise your digestion and therefore, absorption of nutrients which has an effect not only on energy levels and immunity, but will be a contributing factor to weight gain too.
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate and one of THE most important dietary factors for helping support healthy digestion. Fibre is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and plays a big part in keeping our bodies healthy.
Adults are recommended minimum 25 grams of fibre each day for healthy digestion, so including high-fibre foods and fibre supplements in your diet can greatly help improve your digestion.
Fibre rich foods are slow sugar releasing and, when combined with protein, they keep your blood sugar levels stable and fuller for longer.
Most of the clients I see struggle to get adequate amount of fibre in their diet. If not sure, MyFitnessPal is a great tool to check if you do. I use it to check my own fibre, protein, Calcium and fat levels occasionally.
I teach clients to use it, if they wish, in addition to my support which we use as part of the education process so they see how getting perfect balance of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein and 30% fat intake within personalised calorie intake gets them results.
The moment they step out of the equation and there is less protein and more carbohydrates, the results are less visible at their weekly body composition check, or there are no results at all. Penny drops every time as they learn more how food balance and frequency affects us.
Should we count calories?
Calories are not all created equal. 100 calories of vegetables is not the same on a cellular level and on the level how body processes it and it’s affect on the body when compared to 100 calories worth of chocolate Maltesers (which, by the way, are NOT lighter than air).
I use client’s Resting Metabolic Rate to calculate the calorie ceiling they need to be under in order to lose weight, using a simple formula, however, because my personalised weight management solutions are already calorie controlled, my clients do not need to necessarily count calories.
They would just need to follow the prescribed meal plan that includes some great recipes, use their hand to determine portion sizes of macros and, sometimes, write a food diary as a great way to gauge daily food intake and those that do – have a better result.
They also learn how what they consume in any given week relates to changes in their body composition. All part of the education process and raising the awareness on how certain foods effect us. The moment they skip snacks or meals or eat unbalanced meals and snacks – they see decline in muscle, just as one of the examples.
Calories are important or rather learning about them, to help us become more conscientious about our food choices, but, balance in macro nutrients is even more important because not all calories are created equal.
Skipping dinner because we blew our calorie ceiling during the day (or any other meal or snack for whatever reason) is surely not the path to health OR healthy weight loss (or rather, fat loss) and improved body composition.
Get more active
Now that we drink more water, focus on lean and/ or plant protein and good carbohydrates with plenty of fibre, whilst banning all refined sugary carbohydrates – it is time we need to get more active if we want to see some great results! Remember, results come best from 80% nutrition and 20% exercise plan.
Believe it or not, we all have the six-pack muscles, but most people have it all hidden under the layer of abdominal fat. It is time to unwrap it! If you are not used to exercise, start with walking more and then find the local class that you enjoy, perhaps build it to a couple of classes a week.
The science shows that the best form of fitness that help you get into shape in less time is any form of High Intensity Interval Resistance Training. It is a combination of a little bit of cardio with resistance and weight training, all in one single workout. It not only burns a lot of calories during exercise, but it has the highest after-burn with up to 1000 calories burnt in 38 hour window post-exercise.
Try to find your own HIIRT or HIIT class near you or create a program that you can do at home.
Now that we have most of it covered and you are more aware what is needed to get you started on the journey of becoming the best version of yourself, I would like to remind you of the first point I made – start today!
Get the picture of yourself when you were at your best and get emotionally connected to that vision of yourself. Let it be your guide, your North Star.
If not sure how to start or if anything inspired you in this article, do get in touch, drop me a line. I would love to help. Free Evaluation offer stands, it can be slightly daunting starting on your own and you, whilst will need to do it by yourself, you do not need to be alone in the process. As many as 75% have better success when having the right support.
Until then, life is colourful, make your diet colourful too and feel the difference! Afterall, life is much more fun lived in colour!