Over the years, I have seen a lot of people lose weight and attempt to lose weight. The key reason why they fail is down to the on diet/off diet mentality. What they should be doing is focusing on changing their lifestyle, rather than “losing weight” or “getting fitter”. When you focus on changing your lifestyle, you begin to change how you live and incorporate healthier choices into your life – they become a habit and therefore part of you rather than something you do for a couple of weeks.
Something that’s been on my mind for quite some time is the notion of maintaining an active lifestyle even if circumstances change and the pressures of work and everyday living make it difficult for an individual to maintain a good level of fitness and body weight, to make the right food choices even if circumstances change, to stay lean for good (unless you choose to bulk up) and to do the right exercises that burn excess calories.
I think it’s a combination of:
- adding a little exercise every day (eg use the stairs not the lift, getting off one stop earlier); the likes of P90X and Insanity are great but do you really have an hour a day for the rest of your life?
- cutting down on the high calorie bad food but not cutting out (because that leads to feeling like you’re missing out and for many it results in a massive binge)
- doing exercise that is fun – playing a sport you enjoy will burn fat without you realising; pounding a treadmill will have you watching the timer for every one of those 60 minutes
- avoiding excess mental stress (which leads to raised cortisol levels – elevated cortisol levels are responsible for fat storage)
- avoiding excess physical stress (which leads to raised cortisol levels) – excess physical stress is when you do too much exercise, particularly low intensity steady state cardio (for instance, jogging). Now if you enjoy running or cycling irrespective of your weight that’s fine and, yes, proper marathon runners are scarily lean but they run in excess of what the average person can afford to do in terms of time (from speaking to people who train regularly, they tend to do in excess of 50 miles a week)
- developing lean body mass (muscles) which helps to burn cals
- Intermittent Fasting which can help to rein in the calorie intake plus other positive impacts on your health
Personally, I count calories but it can be tricky if you have your food prepared for you hence the second and the last point will help you to reduce your overall intake.
This was a bit more of a rambling post than my usual, I feel, but as I wrote, it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while because not everyone has the inclination or time to dedicate as much time as I do to my health and fitness (for me, it’s my work and something I find academically interesting).