Want to keep shredded throughout the year with the least effort? Read on and follow these simple tips!
Eat 6 meals a day which are all between 200 and 350 calories each.
Only sip your water when drinking, no gulping.
Only eat your meals when the sun is officially out, so no midnight snacks!
Only perform barbell lifts in the gym, so no dumbbells or bodyweight exercises.
Take whey protein shake before, during and after your workout.
Okay - if you’ve made it this far without closing the window, you would have realised this is complete nonsense!
The problem is, there are hundreds of lists like this which are genuinely trying to give you the perfect remedy for the ‘perfect’ body. Unfortunately, the truth is, if you want to get in shape and then maintain it, you have to put in a lot more effort than that. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or even difficult, for that matter. There are many factors you have to consider and you cannot just follow a guide that sounds too good to be true.
I have my own 5 ‘tips’ that can help you on the way. As you will see, there is no magic pill being promoted here. Only simple things that people can build on in their own way.
1. Lifestyle change
A very big challenge people have is when they want to get into shape is which ‘diet’ to follow. Essentially any radical diet can help you lose weight in the short term, but they are generally hard to maintain and can have other negative effects on your health.
Thinking long-term, you shouldn’t ever need to be ‘on a diet’, but you should increase your understanding of the things you eat, improve your relationship with food and make necessary lifestyle changes which you will maintain in the long term.
This means there is no quick fix, but slow but gradual improvements in your nutrition that may not only help you lose weight and get you in shape, but also improve your overall health. Eating well and enjoying the things you cook are fundamental for many aspects of your health, so this tip is for everyone and anyone. Don’t ever be on a diet, make the lifestyle changes which you will stick to.
2. Strength training
When we think of weight loss or trying to get into shape, most people think they need to go out for a run everywhere and make sure they walk most places instead of taking the car. And yes, they’re great things to do. However, for long term if you’re focused on losing weight and keeping in shape, you need to make sure to focus on strength and condition. Also, weight-bearing resistance training is key to bone health, so this is important for everyone.
Muscles are also very active and consume a lot of energy, so if those muscles are bigger and stronger, they would use up more calories at rest and even more when training. Keeping our muscles strong also helps protect our joints and is absolutely necessary when our joints undergo natural age-related changes. High-intensity interval training is also a great way to get that heart rate up and get the muscles working and can be incorporated into your training week.
3. Rest, recovery and relaxation
My fundamental 3 Rs! Some people say rest, recovery and regeneration, but I don’t understand how you can leave out relaxation. To maintain a great shape all year round I don’t think you can ever ignore these factors. By doing high-intensity and high-effort training, the muscles need time to repair and overloading them with insufficient recovery can lead to decreased effort, joint pain and injury.
The idea is to have a plan throughout the week, so you understand what areas you’re working and possibly overworking. A massive part of recovery is nutrition, as the components needed to repair and grow muscles are coming from the things we put into our bodies, so eating rubbish is not helpful.
We live in a time where most people are chronically sleep-deprived and we are sleeping much less than we did in the past. That can have a significant impact on our muscle repair, growth, mood, general health, digestive system and long-term training capacity. High levels of unnecessary stress can also have a negative effect on our health and it’s important that we find ways to try and reduce these levels. Exercise itself can help with that, as well as meditation, yoga, stretching, being outdoors and breathing exercises. But you need to identify the stressors in your life and find ways to combat those that you can influence.
I’m not going to bother explaining that we need water to live, that’s quite obvious. We generally don’t drink enough water throughout the day and that can cause a few problems. Coupled with consuming sufficient high-fibre foods, plenty of water can help you feel fuller for longer so you don’t turn to snacks as much, helping to keep your digestive system healthy and helps soften stool which can help with constipation. Sometimes throughout the day when we feel hungry, it may be that we’re just thirsty, so if we have water to hand, we can make sure we’re not snacking unnecessarily.
There are certain times of the year where we have a sudden increase in our exercise levels and good eating habits. For example, January after making a new year’s resolution, 2 months leading to your summer holiday, after you’ve looked at the scales or following a visit to the doctor.
However, your weight and fitness levels will yo-yo and you’ll find it difficult each time. Consistency is key here, and you have to make the necessary changes to ensure this is a positive change in your lifestyle and not a quick fix. Losing weight and maintaining that level throughout the year requires discipline and you have to change your core values. That can be through education and understanding of what and why you’re doing.
As you will have noticed, all the points here link in with each other in some way and no single point will be as helpful without doing them all. Follow my 5 points and be shredded in a month? Unfortunately, no. We are all individual and some may need a lot more input than others. Genetics, occupation, geography and socioeconomics all have some impact on our outcomes so you can never have a blanket approach that works for all. However, generally the 5 things I’ve listed are relatively simple to follow and I think build the foundation for anyone who wants to get into shape and maintain it year-round.
___ Do you have any fitness or health goals for the year?
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