make your goals stick
We have all heard of crash diets and most of us have given them a go too. In the last few years there has been a new trend of crash exercising too. Just put into google 30 day challenge and you will get thousands of hits on abs training, building your arms or sliming for the summer!
I am not going to tell you they don’t work – if you eat only cabbage soup for the next 4 weeks I am pretty sure you will lose weight… notice I said weight not body fat. Some of the weight will be body fat, but not all of it. You will also lose water, nutrients and minerals, muscle mass and almost certainly the will to live.
The same can be said for crash exercise. Yes, doing intense short bursts of training on a specific area of your body every day for 30 days will build some muscle in that area. However, building a limited amount of muscle in a specific area, which is still hidden behind a layer of fat is not the results many of us want.
It is an inconvenient biological truth that your body has a healthy weight zone in which it would like you to stay. Whether the ideal muscle/fat ratio fits with your desired ‘summer look’, if you restrict your food intake significantly your endocrine system will send out a hormonal cry for help! Your appetite-reducing hormones decrease and your appetite-enhancing hormones increase. Your body now thinks it has to stop you from starving and the only way it knows how is to store fat – mission failed!!!
Going harder, faster, stronger is not always the best way to make healthy sustainable changes to your body. Resistance training such as weight-lifting, TRX and certain CrossFit workouts create micro-tears in your muscles that can take up to 72 hours to repair. These tears are the key to building strength, BUT only if you allow your body to recover after. Go back to training the same muscle group the next day not only will it be painful, but you will also slow down the recovery process. This is not sustainable and puts you at risk of injury.
Your endocrine system is just as opposed to over-training as it is to crash dieting. Train intensely for over an hour and your body releases increased levels of cortisol, which works to provide your system with glucose energy it needs to help you fight or flee. If your cortisol levels remain high your body continues to produce glucose so your blood sugar levels remain high. Worse still, sustained cortisol release suppresses insulin, so your body thinks it is hungry can send calls for fuel.
My body for life tips…..
1. Don’t set your goals around aesthetics. It is hard to monitor progress if you are focused solely on how you look or what you weight. Instead, work towards happiness. Only a you that is truly happy will maintain progress and move away from the weight loss weight gain cycle. Use exercise as part of a wider lifestyle change, with everything in your life working towards the goal of happiness you will find it easier to maintain your progress.
2. Practice at home. I have met loads of people who fear embarrassing themselves so much that they don’t get to the gym door. Practice the move you want to do at home in front of the mirror where you can monitor your form. You don’t need to have a kettle bell to practice the technique and form. Most personal trainers will work from your home if you require. Confidence comes with practice.
3. Ask for help. Of course, I am going to suggest one-to-one with a PT, again this will improve your technique and build your confidence. Alternatively, join a class, speak to people on the gym floor. The more you know about training, the more you will enjoy it. You will stick to what you enjoy.
4. DON’T bin any food groups. The only exception to this is refined sugar. Everything else, yes including carbs serves a purpose and has a place. Don’t Ditch them, you will get know where, building strength and being health requires the right balance of carbs, fat, protein. It goes without saying we need our RDA of vits and minerals too. Get in contact for more help with nutrition.
5. Have fun. Seriously have fun. Anything that is boring or a chore is easier to quite or avoid. I would never advocate quitting because something is hard, but if there is an exercise you really do not like avoid it and replace it with something you do like. If you liked sports at school join a team, hate running – start swimming. Enjoy what you do and you will continue to do it.
6. Buddy up. There are so many benefits. Not only can they be a motivator and check through your technique, it is significantly harder to bail on a work out if it also means letting a friend down.
Exercise regularly with sufficient rests to allow your body to recover and alternate what you train and how. Eat a balanced diet, work out what your daily calorie intake should be and then make that up with a balanced diet and what you like to eat.
Everything in moderation …. Food and exercise are not a punishment, both should be enjoyed.