Even with the best of intentions people struggle to reach their health and fitness goals. With fat loss being the number one goal for personal training clients I’m in the business of knowing what to do and how to do it. Let me be your guide to success. I am going to keep things as straight forward and simple as possible.
A great way to make sure you fail is to focus on multiple goals.
Most people stumble when it comes to focus. Setting multiple goals at once may seem like a great idea at the time, but so did investing in Enron in 1991. Having more than one goal spreads people too thin. Fully focus on one goal at a time. Burning fat is a singular goal that is optimized with nutrition and supported with strength training, stress reduction and adequate sleep.
Fat loss begins in the kitchen.
There is nothing that anyone can do in the gym that will offset or undo a poor diet. Healthy eating habits paired with a caloric deficit is paramount for fat loss optimization. There is absolutely no getting around this precept. Fat loss starts and ends with nutrition. Slowly eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats only until you are satiated will lead to weight loss. Drink low or no calorie beverages. Eat without distractions. Honor your hunger and control your appetite.
Lift weights to increase the amount of calories burned at rest.
Exercise is a must in order to maximize and optimize fat loss. Start with activities that raise metabolism, burn fat and build muscle simultaneously. Most of the calories burned in a given day are determined by our resting metabolic rate (the number of calories needed for your body to perform most basic functions like cell production, blood circulation, breathing). Your resting metabolic rate is hugely dependent on how much muscle you have on your body and how hard you make your body work. Adding activities that increase or maintain muscle mass will elevate the metabolic rate. The strategy of building muscle to passively and more easily burn fat is far more effective than other types of exercise.
Make your body work hard a few times a week.
There are tiers of exercise which vary in fat burning effectiveness. Metabolic resistance training is king for fat loss as it will raise metabolism, burn fat and build muscle. Activities that burn calories and elevate metabolism like high intensity anaerobic interval training are the next level for fat loss programming, followed by high intensity aerobic interval training. Steady state high intensity aerobic training will burn calories but won’t necessary maintain muscle or elevate metabolism. The least effective form of activity for fat burning is steady state low intensity activity. Walking doesn’t result in much more fat loss but it adds up. Keep in mind that these types of activity work together fantastically in an optimized fat loss program.
Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Even with minimal time dedicated to your goals, fat can be burned and muscle maintained or gained in as little as three hours per week. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Always consult with your doctor before starting any training program and nutritional change. Work with a registered dietitian for specific nutritional plans and diagnosed medical conditions.
Nutrition is key to weight loss.
You have 21 opportunities a week to make healthy decisions with your food. Working out 6 days a week isn't going to offset a terrible diet. So focus on what you put into your body.
The last place the body takes fat from is subcutaneous fat and first takes fat from organs.
The weight training "after burn" is vastly overstated.
Starvation will impede weight loss. Do not skip breakfast. Do not restrict your calories to some ridiculously low number. Your metabolism will drop caloric requirement by up to 20% if you starve yourself.
"Respect hunger, control appetite".
Fasted cardio has nothing to do with muscle glycogen.
Cortisol will cause you to burn fat. However, you want to keep cortisol levels as low as possible in day-to-day life, with moments of spiked cortisol levels (like from exercise). A consistently elevated cortisol levels leads to adrenal fatigue and inhibits the release of growth hormone. For tips on how to live a low cortisol life please check out Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky.
Fat cannot be metabolized without carbs being eaten. The outcome would be keytone bodies (sweet smell on breath), possible protein breakdown (ammonia smell on breath), and lower exercise intensity. Keytones are made when we can't fully break down fat, making the blood more acidic and causing your workouts to suffer. A light breakfast fixes this problem (like a banana and some protein)
Three versus five meals a day: no difference in metabolism but five meals a day had better blood sugar and moods. Consumption of added sugars spikes blood sugar which causes insulin to be pumped into the blood stream to regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin promotes lipid storage. By limiting your added sugar intake, you can help prevent added fat storage.
Getting 2000 calories burned a week from exercise is a good goal for weight loss. If we're looking to burn 10% of our weekly food intake why not look at N.E.A.T. or eating a bit less.
I thought I'd share with you one of my first articles now that the new year is coming up fast. This article teaches you how to set goals that are right for you.
Setting SMART Goals - A Guide for Success
This is the time of year when droves of people reignite the desire to lead healthy and active lifestyles. Tomorrow. Or next week. Or after the holidays. Definitely not today though. The act of not achieving small, attainable daily goals is a habit every single person on the planet has unwittingly honed to the point of becoming a true master of the breakdown of volitional action, commonly known as procrastination. Let me help you create that real, permanent change you want for yourself.
I'M GONNA CHANGE MY LIFE! TOMORROW.
According to Dr. Tim Pychyl of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University, procrastination is defined as delaying an intended course of action despite the expectation of being worse off for that delay. People are more likely to procrastinate an unpleasant task or when the task reward is farther away in time. Focusing on their ‘present self’ instead of their ‘future self’ sabotages their long-term emotional and physical well-being. Generally speaking, people give in to feel good. This kind of self-regulation failure happens because people don’t like to feel bad! Frankly speaking, people are more likely to procrastinate by doing other less important tasks as a deadline approaches to minimize feeling bad, which ultimately only makes their future self feel worse. Now that we’ve shed some light on why many people struggle to start eating healthy and exercising, what can we do to change this habit of procrastination? One of Dr. Pychyl’s tips is to focus on commitment and action. Watch one of his lectures here.
FOCUSING ON PRESENT SELF MAKES FUTURE SELF HATE PAST SELF.
Charles Duhigg, author of New York Times bestseller The Power of Habit, famously wrote, “Change might not be fast and it isn't always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” There are three key components to making permanent behavior change. There’s the cue, the reward, and the routine. Let’s say there is a behavior you want to change and you want to replace your habit with eating healthy and exercising. We need to find your cue, the thing that gives you the urge to do that habit that doesn’t align with your life goal of leading a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s the time of day, where you are, who you are around, a task you just completed, or even how you’re feeling, one of these things is the cue. Look for the one cue that stays the same every time you feel the urge. After you’ve discovered your cue, figure out the reward you’re giving yourself or craving you’re satisfying. Is it so that you can relax by putting on sweatpants and binge-watch The Great British Baking Show? It’s okay if you do. That program is fantastic, no judgement here. But test your theory. Replace putting on sweatpants and watching television with cooking a healthy dinner. Did that work? If yes, keep it up! If no, replace it with exercise. It doesn’t matter if it’s exercising at home, going on a walk, or going to a gym. Just move your body! Now that you’ve identified the cue and the reward, it’s time to insert a new routine. Choose an activity that is triggered by the old cue and delivers the old reward, perform that activity and reap the reward! One of Charles Duhigg’s tips is to write down your plan for a new routine.
Acknowledging and recognizing a behavior you want to change is one thing. Mapping out how you will make your change is another. Finding the reason why you want this change is the most powerful part. Doing it for your family, friends, coworkers, or kids can work for the short term. But it doesn’t last. You have to want it for yourself. You can’t take care of everyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. And you’re going to need help along the way. Struggling with change is a fact of life.
REACH OUT TO YOUR COMMUNITY.
The wonderful thing about this time of year is that there are so many people in your community coming together that want the same thing you do. A positive and supportive network of like-minded individuals is a very powerful tool to help you stick to your behavior change. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Plan for today and act upon it without delay. Your future self with thank you for it.
For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jameson Skillings.
I'm a personal trainer and fitness instructor for Midcoast Fitness.
I have been a part of what is now Midcoast Fitness Challenge for a four years now and I'd like to share with all of you a little bit about how I look at fitness and how that relates to New Year's resolutions.
Every January for the past seven years this challenge has helped people jump-start their health and wellness habits.
By offering so many great fitness classes at multiple locations, providing healthy nutrition and fitness tips, or by keeping people motivated, helping people lose weight safely and appropriately, the challenge has been a huge success each year.
If there is one thing I have noticed, it's this: the most successful people in the challenge keep coming back.
Even if they've missed a week or more of classes, they come back as soon as they can.
Whether it's an illness, a family emergency, work obligations, or just needing to take a day to run errands, people are bound to miss a class here and there. Please don't let feeling bad about missing classes keep you from coming back. You will be welcomed back with a smile!
Just keep coming.
If you continue to come you will meet new people, happy people, determined people, people who are having fun, and people who are reaching their goals.
You will also most certainly meet people who are struggling, people who feel lost, people who feel scared and vulnerable, people who need our help and support. After all, we're all in this together.
The most important part of this program is YOU. Come to class early, chat with your instructor, introduce yourself to people in your class. You already have something in common with them: you want to be healthier and do things you know are good for you.
T.S. Eliot once wrote, "to make an end is to make a beginning."
January 1st for a lot of people represents a beginning for new, healthy habits but it also represents an end to old, unhealthy habits.
Through this ending, we are making a promise to ourselves to make better choices.
Whether that means getting more sleep, eating more vegetables, getting more movement in each day, or surrounding yourself with like-minded people who want the best for you and your health with the Midcoast Fitness Challenge, you have a chance every single day to make a new beginning for yourself.
If you would like to try out my fitness class, I am teaching Full Body Fitness Saturdays at Maine Pines at 9:15 AM. The class is appropriate for all fitness levels.
Remember: just keep coming.
Give this work out a try this week. Do your best for each exercise. Do as many reps as you can in the given time, rest when you need to.
Warm up for at least ten minutes before getting started.
Finish with ten minutes of stretching.
Focus on going through a full pain-free range of motion for each exercise.
If you need a modifier, go with a lighter KB or use tubing.
Losing weight is hard.
People think counting their calories, carbs, proteins, and fats and sticking to their plan is all it takes to lose weight.
Getting their whole grains in, limiting their fat intake, and doing what they thought were the right things to achieve their goal of losing fat. What people are neglecting to address is the hormone leptin.
This hormone, which is produced in fat cells, is responsible for telling your brain (hypothalamus) that you are feeling full, needing food, and have adequate fat storage.
Leptin evolved from when it was imperative to know when we were starving or overeating. For many of us, that is a short drive to the grocer now.
Leptin has gotten very good at telling the brain we need to eat, but prevention of overeating is lagging behind.
It works like this: leptin is produced in fat cells. The more fat you have, the more leptin you make.
Leptin is delivered through the bloodstream to the hypothalamus, telling the brain how much body fat they carry.
Reduced leptin levels tell the brain that fat stores are low and we're at risk for starvation while high levels tell the brain we have plenty of fat stored.
Generally speaking, eating causes body fat to increase, leptin increase, we eat less and burn more calories. Not eating causes body fat to decrease, leptin decreases, and we eat more and burn less.
This would make you think that eating more frequently would lead to better success. That is, if leptin is working the way it is supposed to...
If a person has a lot of body fat producing a lot of leptin their brains should know they're storing a lot of extra energy.
If the leptin signal isn't working then you're looking at a bunch of leptin just sitting around doing nothing. This is called leptin resistance and is main a biological abnormality responsible for an inability to burn fat in obese populations.
When the brain doesn't receive the signal from leptin, it assumes it needs to store more fat.
The brain will make changes to our behavior and physiology in order to regain the fat the brain thinks it's missing by causing you to eat more or conserve energy.
Eating more and exercising less isn't the cause of weight gain, but the natural consequence of leptin resistance.
Using willpower to defeat leptin resistance is not going to work.
Leptin resistance is the result of inflammation, free fatty acids in the bloodstream, and having high leptin levels.
One of the key ways in preventing and reversing leptin resistance is by reducing inflammation caused by your diet.
You can avoid processed food, get good sleep, lower your triglycerides, exercise, and eat soluble fiber and protein. The best way of doing all this is by eating real food, exercising, and having a consistent sleep schedule.
The opportunities allotted each day to improve your health are innumerable. Getting the right amount of sleep, eating a healthy breakfast, eating appropriate portions, and taking more steps are just a few of the choices we can make every single day.
As with any behavior, people tend to establish a pattern or habit. It is often a difficult, layered and emotional process when it comes to food. If an adolescent grows up in a household where they do not feel safe or control in their life, they sometimes use food as a way to exert control. Biological, environmental, and psychological factors play key roles in the development of life threatening relationships with food. Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and compulsive overeating disorder are extremely serious and must be dealt with compassionately and with empathy. Everyone has their histories, stories, and personal relationships with food and everyone has struggled with it to some degree in their lifetime.
Part of the problem is an overwhelming percentage of Americans are unaware of the value quality food in appropriate quantities has on their preventative health. Choosing the right kinds of food in the right quantities at appropriate times has a massive influence on your body composition and how you feel day to day. Documentaries like Super Size Me and Food, Inc. have helped shine a light on the food choices we face on a daily basis.
This, however, has led to a very predictable overcompensation to the extreme in American culture. Anti-gluten, anti-GMO, and elimination diets are everywhere. It is highly unlikely to be successful with a diet if it is not a sustainable and healthy way of living. Sure, you can drop 20 pounds in 14 days (mostly water weight and muscle loss) with the latest crash diet. But can you thrive on it? A healthy diet is something you can consume without feeling deprived, you have the energy and vigor to live your life, and your body compensation and well-being are positively supported. Everybody is different, and every body is different. Whatever macronutrient ratios work for you may not work for your neighbor. Endomorphs operate better with more fat consumption than ectomorphs, while ectomorphs operate better with more carbohydrates than endomorphs.
I work with older clients every day that deal with unique and specific ailments that often come from living a long and full life. Aches, pains, creaks, hips, knees, hands, feet, necks, backs, shoulders, arthritis, cancer, and crepitus.
Everything hurts, everything is sore, and nothing works like it used to.
This is where I come in. It's my job to find out where you are coming from and to help you get to where you want to be.
By starting with the smallest change that yields the biggest result, we work on building skills and abilities over time. And trust me, it does take work.
There's no magic pill for health and wellness. What I can do is teach you what to focus on, how to make real permanent changes, and how to reach your goals. A friend once told me we can only achieve what we put our mind to through constant daily action. Let me show you how.