Back to Basics

Gather round everyone, I'm going to tell you a bunch of stuff you already know! Or at least you should know.

I'm going to go ahead and assume that like most people, if you're reading this you're trying to get in shape. Now I want you to try something for me: take a step back and make sure you have your basics covered. You know, those things that are incredibly simple, but that most people jump right past to try more exciting things they have no business messing around with.

So before you try any cleanses, fasts, fat burners, tapeworms or mystery pills made in some guy from your gym's basement, make sure you have these five things (in no particular order) under control.

1) Be Consistent
This is my number one, unavoidable, unbreakable, non-negotiable (just like Robocop) rule. If you can't be consistently consistent, you are doomed to fail. Seriously, the outlook is Lord of the Rings-esque grim. Tough love time: if you can't consistently put the effort in, it's not happening for you.

Does that mean you have to put in the same 4 days a week for the rest of (your) time? No. But you absolutely cannot expect significant progress if you workout 4 times one week and once for the next two. If you are seriously trying to make a change in your body, you have to workout at least 3 - 4 times a week - minimum.

This doesn't mean 4 times in the gym or gruelling workouts, but it has to be 3 - 4 sessions of something. Minimum.

I know things get busy and things happen and life gets in the way sometimes, but if you were to look at the trend of your activity of the entire year, more often than not, you have to hit those four times a week.

40 minutes of (hard for you) weights, at least 45 minutes of a decent paced walk or run and some sort of heart-rate-increasing recreational activity on another day combined with sensible eating habits are enough for most people to stay in reasonable shape. Not ripped six pack abs shape, but reasonable.

This is not an unreasonable number - it's roughly 3 hours out of a possible 168 in a week. If you can't make that sacrifice then there's a very good chance you won't reach your goals. Simple as that.

2) Have a clear idea of what you're eating every day

If I had a dime for every time someone told me they eat "healthy" or "clean" I would have... many dimes. Here's the thing (with no offence intended): for 98.2% of those people their idea of "clean eating" is.... not good.

I'm just giving it to you straight here: when losing weight, caloric expenditure is king. There are other factors for sure, but eating fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight is the main big piece. Quick side note, this doesn't mean significantly less than you need - a 200 to 500 calorie deficit every day is more than enough for you to see change. (Add an example? Beer/fancy coffee/late afternoon granola bar? Couple of cookies at the staff meeting)

There are exactly 1 billion and 1 different diets and quite frankly, once we omit the stupid ones (grapefruit diet, eating 30 bananas etc.), they're all pretty much the same. I do flexible dieting (counting macros) personally and I love it but I can see how it wouldn't be for everyone.

Regardless of what you choose, if you are sticking to lean meats for protein, carb sources like potatoes, yams, squash and rice and consuming copious amounts of green vegetables at most meals, it's pretty darn hard to over-eat.

Do the above and eat something you really want to (ie cookies, ice cream, pizza or French fries) once or twice a week just to keep the ol' sanity and you'll be golden for a while. When you do have that "cheat" meal (I'm not overly fond of the term) remember that food is not "good" or "bad", it doesn't have any moral implications, just energy. A slice of my favourite pizza has 40g of fat alone. It's not a "bad" food, just calorically (and deliciously) dense. Fantastic for gaining weight but not such a great choice when actively trying to lose some.

 
Cheat meal

 

Delicious, but not overly helpful

Don't over complicate this. Track your food. Get one of those free apps, use it for a week and be honest. Think of it like you would your budget - you'll at least see what you're really doing and it can be quite enlightening.

3) Drink your Water

Super simple, super important, and for the most part, totally free (ish) but I've seen countless people completely biff this one. I won't go into the why's, I'm sure all of you took 6th grade science: water = good.

As far as amounts go, a good place to start is by taking your bodyweight in pounds and drinking half of that in ounces. If you're dehydrated, your performance can be cut by as much as 20%, not to mention an increased injury risk. Less performance, more injuries = less progress. Makes sense to me. Maybe I should've been a professor?

 
water_copy

 

4) Get Your Sleep

How many of you spend time on your phones or watch tv until 1 in the morning, then wake up at 6 am? Judging from the people I frequently talk to, it's more than you might think. Sleep is when all your good body fixing stuff happens.

If sleep is lacking your hormones will be off, you'll obviously lack energy, and it brings progress to a screeching halt. Try to go to sleep before 11 and aim for 7-9 hours. You can mess around on your phone tomorrow.

 
5) Keep Your Goals in Mind

First of all, have a real goal. "Getting in shape" is very vague and could mean a lot of different things. Whether it's being the same weight you were ten years ago, fitting into a certain piece of clothing or a strength goal, the the goals most likely to be achieved are specific, measurable and have a timeline attached to them.

When you find yourself drifting or losing your motivation, remember why you're doing it in the first place. Working out is hard, it takes time, it's uncomfortable and when you're not seeing results at rapid rate you need to have some sort of emotional anchor to keep you going.

Take the time and set out a clear goal, make a time frame and a plan. Or hire some trainer to do it for you. I know a guy.

So before you tinker with anything else, pick a program, follow it and do these 5 things for 12 weeks. In a row. If you don't see at least SOME results, then I don't want to call you liar but I'm going to channel my inner Scully at least a little.

Til next time my friends.

Karl Gellert, Personal Trainer at Infinite Fitness

Interested in meeting with Karl to discuss your health and fitness goals? Call us at 780-435-7111 to set up a consultation or Introductory PT Package.

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