With a sudden surge in popularity, weight-loss shakes have become rather infamous in the fight against obesity . Then there are the magic diet pills which claim to transform the ‘Fatty’ into some sort of ‘Adonis’. These claims are not gender specific, and usually promise results within weeks. Sustainable business is sought after by bombarding the general public with expensive marketing campaigns, subtly surfacing in the form of happy and satisfied customers.
While the intention of this blog post is not to debunk the folklore that surrounds these methods of weight loss, it is also imperative to understand that there are no easy ways out. Just as it took years to reach the point of being a ‘chubby-bunny’, so too will it take a considerable amount of time for transformation. Your mental state will be tested and the power of your will, challenged- in a mental showdown that will ultimately determine whether or not, you are to be successful.
While an article like this would ideally take up a significant amount of space, I will try my best in outlining only the important points. As with all aspects in life certain underlying rules exist, that if adhered to, will result in a positive change irrespective of the training regime or diet chosen. Stick to these points and success is guaranteed.
How the body works
For the interest of simplicity one need only understand two states that govern the body’s processes: the anabolic and catabolic states.
When the body is in an anabolic state, muscle growth is promoted, ultimately resulting in ‘fat-burning’.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, a catabolic state results in the body using muscle to fuel its processes thus promoting fat storage.
Keeping in mind the goal of fat loss, it would then be obvious to keep the body in an anabolic state. For the ladies that believe that this state will promote muscle growth to the extent of robbing their femininity, I assure you that you need not worry. On the contrary! Only at a pro-level of body building will this occur, and all that you may expect is a mental and physical transformation into a more confident and toned you.
Many pro body builders and fitness junkies will tell you that a person’s diet constitutes 80% of maintaining a healthy physique. Each meal should consist of the following:
- Protien (2 portions for man, 1 for women)
- Complex Carbohydrates ( 1 portion)
- Vegetables (as much as you’d like)
Estimate portions using the size of your hand as a source of measurement. An open palm is indicative of the size of a portion of protein that you should be consuming, while a clenched fist is indicative of the size of a portion of carbohydrates.
Use olive oil for cooking and use sparingly. Eat clean to be lean!
Alcohol, soft drinks and juices are an absolute no, no. Water is by far the best alternative to any drink. The high sugar and fructose content in most drinks defeats the purpose of fat loss and will be sure to hamper progress. Alcohol is rich in empty calories and a night of binge drinking can slow down progress by a week. Water on the other hand not only aids in digestion, but also rehydrates the body after rigorous workouts. It also curbs the ‘false’ pangs of hunger which is sure to set in between meals.
If your goal is to lose fat, you will have to force your metabolic rate into over-drive. This is done by reducing the size of meals but eating more frequently. Contrary to popular belief, a long period without meals slows down the metabolic rate resulting in fat storage. Allowing 2-3 hour breaks between meals results in an average of 6-7 meals a day- one of the most important factors to adhere to for maintaining an anabolic state. Never skip a meal.
Gym and fitness training
Following a strict fitness training routine is essential for the transformation process. The human body had not been designed to be inactive for long periods of time. At the beginning of time man would explore the world on foot, which contributed to his daily intake of physical activity. Coupled with need to hunt and build, the requirements of a well sculptured physique were met. With the advent of technological processes inactivity has become the new norm, and to combat an unhealthy lifestyle gyms and fitness training facilities were born.
As with diet, a person’s ultimate goal determines the type of training routine to adopt. For the purposes of losing fat, a training routine should be split into 2 parts namely:
- Weight training sessions
- Cardiovascular sessions
These sessions should be alternated on a daily basis, with a 1 day’s rest between cycles. If you are a fairly newcomer to the world of fitness training, it is better to start off with a 4 day week and gradually work yourself up to 6 days. Throwing yourself into the deep end increases the risk of injury and a sprained tendon is sure to decommission your efforts for at least 6 weeks after.
Furthermore, if you are one of those that opt for cardio sessions instead of weights, you will certainly find yourself with those that train without a purpose. Weight training expands more calories than cardiovascular training, and has its place firmly rooted in fat loss. With that in mind, never skip a weight day!
For cardiovascular activities, keep sessions to a maximum of 20 minutes each with 2 – 3 sessions per week. Stick to H.I.I.T- that is High Intensity Interval Training. The way it works is – if running is the choice of activity – run for 1 minute, and walk for 1 minute. As you progress, decrease the time to 30 seconds, and so forth. Begin with a walk/jog combination and gradually work yourself up to a jog/run combination. When this becomes easy, move onto a sprint/run combination.
H.I.I.T. is more effective for fat loss than performing cardio activities at a constant pace. The body being an adaptable organism, adapts to a constant speed; in turn requiring less calories to maintain performance. Do not fall into this trap. Mix it up. H.I.I.T. confuses the body as it breaks down expectations. The result is a more effective utilization of calories as the body enters ‘start’ and ‘stop’ modes. Even more fascinating- H.I.I.T. causes the body to continue burning calories for at least 8 hours after a session!
If you are to succeed in this mammoth of a task, know what to expect – mentally. A lack of information causes many people to fail, as they enter a fitness program without adequate knowledge. The slightest feelings of depression triggers old habits, and in no time the program is abandoned. Know from the onset what is expected of you and be mentally prepared for triggers. Over time your body has adapted to a diet staple of processed foods. This diet staple has in turn changed the brain chemistry by promoting the release of certain mood enhancing enzymes. By removing these unhealthy processed foods from your diet staple, the brain chemistry is forced to normalize in its functions. If you havn’t guessed it as yet, the result of this are MOOD SWINGS! Whatever your mood, it is of utmost importance to keep up with the program. As any state is not constant, so too will your mood change. Physical activity leads to an increase in endorphins which promotes a natural high. When depressed, a short burst of exercise will release endorphins which will combat negative mood swings. Over the period of your program you will notice a reduction in mood swings, and an increase in a happier mental state.
A basic need for survival, sleep deprivation has disastrous consequences. Not only from a psychological point of view, but from a physiological as well. Skimping on sleep sets your brain up to make bad decisions. Skipping exercise because you are too tired to work out is a prime example. Then there’s cortisol; the stress hormone that signals the body to conserve energy to fuel the waking hours. Cortisol is released when sleep is less. Getting an average of 8-10 hours of sleep per night is an important requirement for your body to shed its load.
Sometimes a personal trainer does not quite cut it for us. Do your own research. The web is a global library packed with information. There is a plethora of articles online which offer a full 12 week body transformation. Choose a plan that keeps things simple. Any plan that advocates the same guidelines as detailed in this article is worth following.
GH TIP: Do not use a scale to measure your progress. Muscle weighs more than fat, and as you begin to tone out, your weight will either remain the same or even increase. This tends to happen at the beginning of a fitness routine and is demotivating to many. Always use the mirror to compare progress. Taking progress photos is invaluable.