Most of us have had success with diet and exercise programs where we lose body fat in a short space if time. We then get hit with a major plateau and the body fat moves slower and slower. This is a very common complaint from a lot of my clients who are trying to lean up. It can be reasonably easy to lose a few kilos by cutting the obvious bad bits from your diet and becoming more active, but losing the fat that you have spent years putting on will require a little more strategy. Since diet makes up such a large contribution to your body composition it’s now time to be a bit more structured with your diet, and step beyond simply cutting out all Big Macs and fries!
The first thing to do is to reconnect with your goal. You need to be reminded every day of what you’re trying to achieve, so that you’ll find it easier to choose something good to eat whenever you’re faced with a decision. Things like putting an old picture of yourself, or a pair of your favourite jeans that you wore 10 years ago on your door are a couple of ideas.
It is then time to implement changes in your diet. The first step is eating smaller portions. If the food you eat doesn’t contain much protein and quality fresh fruit/vegetables then you will struggle to feel full or satisfied. The poorer the quality of food means the more you need to feel satisfied. So increase the quality of your meals and reduce the size!
Next is to implement one of the following rules into your day or a single meal with the mantra ‘food is my fuel and nourishment, it is not my entertainment’.
Rules of healthy eating for optimum health and body composition:
- If it has sugar added don’t eat/drink it
- If your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise the ‘food’ you’re eating then avoid it
- Don’t get sucked in by ‘low fat’ foods. Fat is not the enemy, processed carbs are. eg bread, pasta, cereals.
- Drink at least 2-3 litres of water every day
- Eat fresh fruit/vegetables and protein with every meal
- Alcohol can sabotage all your good efforts
- Snack on real food. Eat walnuts, carrots, apples, bananas, rockmelon, fresh young coconut (water and flesh), tuna/salmon/sardines in a can, mixed bean mix with chopped onion, pesto, etc.
Choosing one rule at a time will make the process of solidifying a habit much easier than trying to do everything at once. Once you have one of the rules ingrained as habit for one meal or the whole day (water, no alcohol, good snacks), then try 2 meals or apply 2 rules to one meal. For example to start out drinking 2-3 litres of water every day, once that feels easy to do try not eating anything with added sugar in your breakfasts, then if you want to really step it up make your dinner so that it only contains protein and vegetables. The key is doing things in small steps by adding just one rule at a time. Remember if done slowly these eating habits will be with you for the rest of your life, so there’s no rush to do them all at once
If you’re stuck getting started then just remember what Aristotle said. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” Which rule would you like to make a habit first?
Why we measure our clients:
Anyone that has read my blog over the past 12 months knows I am a big advocate of taking girths to measure progress rather than using the scales. I found this great image that really reinforced my beliefs:
You see our body changes with weight training and the weight may not decrease because of the increase in lean muscle mass. However, you will lose centre metres from all around the body.