Getting lean and in shape can be difficult for many of us. Today I'm going to talk about 5 simple things you can focus on to help meet your fitness goals:
This is the number one most important thing to think about if you want to get lean.
Many people think about calories like a ledger, with food calories in being balanced by calories out in the form of exercise. They think of food as a reward for working hard. But this is not a good attitude to have with food.
Instead, try to find exercise you enjoy doing for its own sake, and concentrate on having a healthy diet. Unhealthy food is still unhealthy, regardless of how much exercise you have done that day. Focus on getting your energy intake and diet right, enjoying unhealthy snacks in moderation.
If you are limiting your calorie intake, but you don't enjoy your diet, rethink your diet. There is a world of healthy low calorie foods out there, many of them incredibly tasty and filling. Spend some time finding low calorie foods you enjoy and you'll find it easier to maintain your diet for years to come.
Although calories are king, the balance of macronutrients (or macros) in your diet is also important to get right.
The main macros are carbohydrates, fat and protein. They all serve a purpose in your body:
- Carbohydrates are the most effective fuel for your body and keep you going when you're out and about.
- Fats perform a number of essential functions in your body, such as helping you absorb vitamins, and can help boost your immune system.
- Proteins are made of amino acids, which are required by your body to keep itself running smoothly.
The right balance of macros depends on you, your goals and your lifestyle. If you're looking to build or maintain muscle, you need to make sure you're getting plenty of protein, or else your body will break down your muscles instead of growing them. If you want to lose fat, focus on reducing carb intake, especially sugars, as these are often very calorific and not very filling.
If you want to bulk up, you absolutely have to be resistance training. Your muscles will not get bigger unless they have a reason to do so. By working your muscles, you give your body an incentive to get stronger.
But resistance training is not just for those wanting to bulk. If you're hoping to get lean, resistance training is still absolutely key. If you are on a calorie deficit and do not exercise your muscles, your body will break down your muscles for fuel. This means you may well get lighter, but you will lose body definition.
By providing your body with an incentive to retain muscle through training, you can lose fat but keep your muscle, improving your physique much more effectively than with just a calorie controlled diet.
Have you successfully dieted or worked out in the past, only to give up on the diet and revert back to your former shape? If you haven't, I'm sure you know someone who has.
As with so many things in life, consistency is key. It is more important to maintain a fitness regime than it is to make rapid body composition changes through extreme dieting or excessive exercise, only to give up after a short amount of time.
Find a fitness regime which is sustainable and which you enjoy. You don't need to be making massive changes in a short space of time and you shouldn't try to. Sudden body changes can be harmful to your metabolism, your overall health and your mental state. Slow, steady changes add up and are much easier to maintain once you've hit your goals.
I'm not talking about honesty with others, I'm talking about honesty with yourself.
When making a plan:
- Be honest with yourself about what foods you can limit or cut out. It's better to include unhealthy snacks in your plan if you know you can't help yourself, rather than breaking your plan by eating them.
- Be honest with yourself about how much exercise you can fit in to your lifestyle and keep fitting in.
- Be honest with yourself about what is a realistic goal. Don't set yourself up to fail, but set yourself steady goals you realistically can achieve.
When sticking to the plan:
- Be honest when calculating calories; don't ignore those lattés and little biscuits.
- Be honest about how much exercise you've done and how hard you worked out.
If you can get these things right, you're well on your way to a fitter, leaner you.