Many friends often ask me for tips and tricks on how to lose weight, get a beach body or simply adopt a healthy lifestyle. Not that I pretend to have a beach body, but I believe I am a pretty healthy person... especially when I compare my lifestyle to some people from the same age group. I basically summarized the 7 commandments I follow as part of my healthy lifestyle. It worked for me, so I sure hope it works for you too. There is no downside to it, so you might as well give it a shot!
I: Work out regularly
You have probably heard the motto "No pain, no gain". Of course, if you want to lose weight, you need to have a workout that will make you sweat. No sweating, no melting! However, keep in mind that this will come with time and don't let yourself being discouraged by a steep slope ahead of you. Go slow, get acquainted with your new environment (e.g. staff members; locker room; machines; etc.). The more you go - even for a short period of time - the more comfortable you will get. Soon enough, you will also become a gym monkey and be there several times per week. You will see, endorphins is an addictive substance!
Although it is very important to workout regularly, remember that two-thirds of the your workout results will come from nutrition. This does not mean that you should only focus on nutrition, and forget about working out. Au contraire! It means that a good workout and a good nutrition are complementary. they will optimize your efforts and help you reach your objectives more quickly.
II: Control your portions
Gluttony is a bitch. It is one of the main reasons responsible for gaining weight. Your body only requires a certain amount of energy, based on many factors (e.g. age, height, weight, amount of exercise on a given day). Anything absorbed after exceeding the cap of energy required by your body will be converted into fat.
If you love to eat and feel full after a meal, you will probably appreciate this tip: supersize your plate by adding low calory food. Do not supersize your protein or carbs! Keep the measured portions of protein and carbs, and simply add more veggies such as steamed broccoli or brussels sprouts. That way, you will have enough food to feel full after your meal without exceeding your energy cap.
III: Drink water
Not only drinking water is important for keeping a healthy level of hydration, it also cleanses your body. Moreover, it fills your stomach so that you don't feel so hungry all the time. A normal sized man should drink 4 liters per day, and a woman, 3 liters per day in order to lose weight. Like any objective, it is easier to achieve it whilst slicing them into smaller sub-objectives.
I started by providing myself with a 750ml CamelBak water bottle normally used for cycling. It happens that I am also an adept of road cycling. Therefore, it was no extra cost for me since I am using this bottle on and off my rides. Although, such an equipment is not very expansive as it is valued roughly around 15.00 CAD. This water bottle not only can contain a fair amount of water, but is also easily squeezable to extract its liquid. It might sound stupid, but having a large water bottle that is easy to manipulate will ease the hydration process, and prevent you from losing time filling the bottle every minute.
By dividing 4 liters into 750ml, we get to a little more that 5 bottles. That is:
(1) one in the morning as soon as you wake up;
(2) one in the AM while sitting at your desk;
(3) one with your meal during lunchtime;
(4) one late in the afternoon; and,
(5) one when you get home after work.
An easy indicator of your body being well hydrated is the color of your urine that should be water-like. Of course, if you go to the gym, you should drink at least one more bottle during your training. In addition, a wise man once told me not to drink water right before going to bed. I listened to him and slept in dry bed sheets ever after.
IV: Eat at specific times
Your body has a memory. It remembers exactly when was the last time you ate. Therefore, it is important to keep it satisfied. When you feel hungry, it is not necessarily that your body needs food. It simply means that your body remembers that it has been longer that the usual since the last time it was fed.
Have you ever noticed that the richest people often don't know how to manage their money. Why would they bother if they know that the next paycheck will be even bigger than the one that was just banked. It is rather the poor that spends every dime earned by the sweat of their brow like it was their last paycheck. Your body reacts pretty much the same way. It only saves up in times of austerity. If you have a steady job with income being cashed in regularly, you won't feel the need of saving up because you are anticipating the next coming paycheck. On the other hand, if you are not working, you will treat each paycheck like it's the Golden Fleece.
Therefore, the idea is to provide your body with small portions of healthy food on a regular basis. My schedule is as follows:
09:00: Coffee and snack
21:00: Late Snack
As you can see, I manage to eat every 3 hours. Such a schedule regularizes my body and lets it understand that there is no need for it to keep reserves (a.k.a. transforming extra food into fat). Therefore, it burns all the previously absorbed energy during your exercise sessions at the gym. In addition, eating small portions regularly will prevent your body from feeling hungry and to feel so full and sleepy after a meal (as mentioned in the "control your portions" section above).
V: Know what you eat
Your body is a temple. Everything that goes in it should be as pure as possible. The best way to achieve this one is to avoid - as much as you can - eating at the restaurant. The reason is simple: you don't know what they feed you! Besides the obvious visible and commonly known strategies used to make sure customers feel satisfied and got their bang for the buck (e.g. feeding them with overweening portions of carbohydrates including rice; potatoes; pasta; bread), restaurants use all sorts of ingredients that are naked to the eye and yet, very damageable to the human body. I'm talking about High Fructore Corn Syrup; Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT); Monosodium Glutamate (MSG); food colorant; soybean oil; Propylene glycol alginate (E405); Polysorbate 60; enriched flour; textured soy protein concentrate; carrageenan; maltodextrin; disodium inosinate; disodium guanylate; modified cornstarch; etc. Some above listed ingredients are scaring me just by the name of them. But, it's even scarier when the name of the damageable ingredient actually sounds healthy (e.g. soybean oil). Bottom line is: if you don't know what it is, maybe it's better if you keep it out of your body.
Back in 2010, i was on a trip with my ex where we spend some time at her grandparents house in Brittany. I will always remember the wisdom words of his grandfather. We were sitting at the dinning table as we were ready to break bread. I kindly asked him if I may serve him rice. Question to which he wisely answered: "Rice does not harvest in my garden." Those simple words might sound arrogant, but they are actually full of sense. You can only trust the quality of an ingredient if you know where it's coming from. The only way to know precisiely where it's coming from is if you have watched it from planting its seed all the way up to harvesting it.
It is a common belief that eating biological food is expansive. However, many tricks can help you eat healthy without leaving it your shirt. You definitely have better chances of eating fresh non generically modified fruits and vegetables if you buy them in season at a local farmers' market. There is no such thing as a biological tomatoe in the winter season. Some might tell you that they are imported from southern countries. This might be true, but how do you think they manage to have them resist to the extreme cold from the refrigerated trucks? Look at a bushel of tomatoes. If they all look exactly the same - in a perfect way - something is definitely wrong with them. Imperfection is beautiful.
VI: Say no to alcohol
This one is a tricky one. Keeping alcohol outside of your life when you are a young and trendy professional is not an easy task. Especially in the summer season, invitations to consomate the forbidden elixir keep piling up. Therefore, it is very difficult to comply to this commandment. However, just tell yourself that the every glass of alcohol is filled with a substantial amount of empty calories. In completion to the second commandment, do you really want to spend these calories on something as insignificant as alcohol? If you really want to treat yourself, you might as well do it right and treat yourself with a real cheat meal (see section on the 7th commandment).
Moreover, remember that getting drunk lowers inhibitions. This is also true with food. That fat and greasy piece of meat you won't normally even look at suddenly appears to be the most attractive food you can possibly find at such late hours. Only this time, you did not have your conscience to stop you from doing something you would normally regret. Blame it on the alcohol! I dare you to chase alcohol out of your lifestyle for 90 days and see how this shift - combine with the other commandments - will enhance your stamina.
VII: Reward yourself
This one is - to my eyes - the most important of all 7 commandments. Too many times I have seen people shifting from a perfectly healthy lifestyle to a complete state of debauchery. This is why it is important to reward yourself (with moderation) for good behavior from time to time in order to keep the focus on your ultimate objective. The main takeaway here is to schedule those rewards and maintain them within their boundaries. A controlled reward will prevent you from falling overboard and will actually give you a reason to keep the focus on your healthy lifestyle. Personally, I allow myself two poutines per year, each of them consummated six months apart. Of course, a poutine is probably the greasiest dish you could possibly find in the province of Quebec. But, I work really hard for it every single day and truly earn this privilege. Therefore, when the time comes for me to treat myself with this salty bowl of pure carbs and fat, I dig in with no regrets whatsoever. I have set the rules, played the game and won the reward. And the following day, I hit the reset button and work hard on those results until the next treat comes. No matter what your reward is, the important thing is to set the rules and comply to them in order to avoid excess.
To sum up, if you wish to get fast results and optimize your training, consider the above described seven steps to lose weight:
I. Workout regularly
II. Control your portions
III. Drink water
IV. Eat at specific times
V. Know what you eat
VI. Say no to alcohol
VII. Reward youself
Comply to these 7 commandments and I promise you will see and feel the results within a month.
Enjoy your new lifestyle!