Have you ever wanted a body like the ones we see on TV shows like Baywatch or American Ninja Warrior? Those bodies seem unattainable for so many of us. Most of us will never know those bodies when we look in the mirror but does that mean we should give up and just get used to having love handles, extended bellies and mysterious fat that collects on the backs of our arms? No we should not give up, not even for a minute. We have spent our adult lives working long hours at our jobs and for our families but so often we have forgotten to take care of ourselves along the way. This leads to weight gain that starts with just a few pounds a year and results in us being 30 to 100 pounds overweight by the time we reach our mid-40s. When we finally realize what we have done to our health, our body and our looks, it can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You may not be destined to look like the 18-year-old on Baywatch, but you can get back into better shape than you were at age 25. How would that make you feel?
I remember well being obese and out of shape. I wanted to give up and pretend there wasn’t anything I could do. I vividly remember watching episodes of The Biggest Loser during the initial season with a big bowl of ice cream or popcorn in my lap. Can you imagine? I was watching a show about working out and losing weight while eating my favorite domino foods. Over the years, I have spoken to many other people that have watched that show eating their own comfort foods so I guess I’m not that crazy.
Finally, I found a different way and have been able to coach over 300 people to better health. I’d like to give you six tips that will help you get started returning your body to it’s younger healthier self.
- Remove domino foods from your home
What is a domino food? These are foods like ice cream, cookies, warm french bread, donuts, chips and chocolate. A domino food is any food that once you start eating it you can’t eat just a small amount. I’ve had many clients that end up eating entire sleeves of girl scout cookies after only intending to eat a couple as a snack.
We so often think we can count on our discipline to keep us from overeating. This works great until it doesn’t. Then bam, half a tub of ice cream disappears after dinner. So the only way to ensure you aren’t eating these domino foods at home is to keep them from coming into the home in the first place. Grab a trash bag and throw away all your domino foods right now.
- Identify situations that cause self-destructive eating / drinking behavior
Record everything you eat or drink for the next couple of weeks. When are you overeating? Was it a phone call? Were you at happy hour? Did your boss just chew you out? Write it all down and look for patterns of destructive eating behavior. Now that you know a few of your triggers, spend some time coming up with alternative responses to these triggers. Here is an example: if you find yourself unable to focus in the mid-afternoon without a sugary snack, try taking a 10 min walk for a few days and see if you find this improves your concentration.
- Strength training 2 to 3 days a week to rebuild lost muscle and develop a toned body
Most people make the mistake of not including strength training in their workout approach as they try to lose weight. Yes, we have all met people that have lost weight doing a lot of cardio, but if you want to transform your body into a leaner, toned and sculpted body, you must do strength training. Muscle is what gives your body that toned and shapely look.
- Interval cardio training 1 to 2 days a week to effectively shed excess weight
Long boring cardio sessions on the treadmill may help you initially lose weight and get smaller, but if you want to rapidly tone up your stomach, hips and thighs while keeping the muscle you have worked so hard to build, you will need to include a couple of intense cardio training sessions per week. Instead of focusing on how far you can run or how long you can walk, these sessions will rapidly get your heart rate up to near maximum levels for short periods of time followed by short rest periods that allow your heart rate to slow down. Great examples of interval training are sprints, burpees, shadow boxing and jump rope work.
- Seek a proven structured path to total body transformation
Another major mistake most people make when trying to lose weight and get back into shape is to focus on only one aspect of getting healthier. They may think they just have to start running again to lose weight or just find time to go to the gym. Many different approaches can be helpful, but a proven structured approach to body transformation guides you in the areas of strength training, cardio endurance, eating habits and then holds you accountable. A 4-week program may be enough for you, but we have found over time that most people are more successful working through 12-week and longer programs.
- Find an accountability partner
I failed and failed to transform my own body until I found a good accountability partner. Your partner needs to be available to you a few times per week. You need to discuss your diet and exercise results with your partner. But how do you find a good person to be your accountability partner? Your partner might be a friend you go on morning walks with or could be as experienced as your local fitness coach.