Fat loss habits to achieve a healthier you in the new year (and why you keep doing it wrong)!
I’ve written this post to help you to change your life, or to help you pass it to someone close to help them change theirs. It’s a little longer than usual, but stick with it. These habits will make this year a success …
New Year, New You, AGAIN. This was the heading on a flyer we put out a couple of years ago. It’s become almost an accepted joke with those taking up their new year’s resolutions. “This year will be different because…”, Then 3-6 weeks in, it’s all out the window- and occasionally another 12 month rolls by, with no real progress made. Here comes the “next year I will……” followed by the standard jokes from others telling you it won’t happen. But don’t blame them… you’re probably telling yourself the same.
I want this year to be different for you. I genuinely want you to make progress, and hopefully this article will help you to make the big changes. Chances are, they’re really simple changes for you (which I outline in a second), that will have the biggest impact. The thing is, what if you can’t afford not to make these changes? What if, the new year, new you joke you’ve had for the past 10 years has left you with health getting a little worse every year?
Using this article as your first step to making a change that will help you to improve your health this year, regardless of how busy you get. Or, if you’re reading this, and someone else springs to mind, do me a favour. Send it over to them. Because all the little things that get in the way of improving your health are super important. Until they aren’t.
So, here’s what I think would be a great place for EVERYONE to start their health and fitness journey into the new year, and it comes down to some simple habits. By the end of the article, you should have at least 5 new habits that are easy for you to implement every day, which will help you get off to the perfect start. Write them down, as this will help you to make the change.
#1 Make exercise a habit!
The right type of exercise is underrated. Honestly, it is. Here’s the problem, people start working out (often in a manner that’s not ideal for them), and realise after working their arse off for a few weeks, they’re not losing weight fast enough. It’s not worth it, and they’re picking up little injuries/ issues, etc. Enter the “I can’t exercise because….”. Boom. Training plan over. Better luck next time.
Here’s the thing, you’re probably a little over enthusiastic about the exercise you choose. The benefits of exercise are huge. And I’m talking about exercise here as a whole- suitable cardio workouts AND workouts designed for strength/ muscle mass. Here’s just a few reasons why “exercise” needs to be a key focus for your change in the new year (and for the rest of your life):
- Helps you to achieve/ maintain a healthy weight
- Will help you to “feel better”, supporting your mental health and overall wellness
- Protects against pain and injury
- Reduces the likelihood of cardiovascular disease
- Helps with relaxation and to control stress levels
- Improves control of blood sugar and reduce diabetes risk
- Develops greater strength and function
- MUCH MORE
You see, exercise is kind of a choice, but in the same way wearing shoes is kind of a choice. You could cope without it for a while, but with all the obvious benefits, why would you? The only real choice is “what type of shoes are appropriate right now”.
Get an exercise plan, and add it to the list of daily habits. Do it often, and do it consistently. All of these benefits for you to be happier and healthier, and yet people choose to put it to the back of the pile. Right now, I want you to change your opinion on exercise. See it as one of the most important parts of your week. Your body and mind will thank you.
#2 Eat more veg, and less “occasional” foods!
Here we go, the vegan revolution is upon us because he saw that Netflix documentary. Not quite, if you want to eat meat, then go “HAM”. HA. Nope, I’m absolutely a meat eater myself, and I can say all of this WITHOUT being hypocritical, because although with every passing year it seems less appropriate, well we can still “kind of agree” with something, without jumping into that “camp”. In this case, you can still eat meat AND benefit from increasing your veg intake. But enough about politics and snowflakes, lets get down to helping you to make a change.
For most people, a solid first step to fat loss is to fully reflect on their diet. I suggest tracking, but if not, here’s a few key points that you could ask yourself:
- Do I have less than half of a plate of veg with most meals?
- Do I struggle to hit my 5 a day when it comes to veg?
- Do I fill more than a cupped hands worth of “carbs” with meals?
- Do my carb portions account for more than ¼ of my plate?
- Do I regularly eat take out foods?
- Do I regularly snack between meals on fatty of sugary foods?
There’s more we could ask, but for now, we can leave it there. If you’re struggling to lose weight, and answer these questions yes, that could be your starting point.
Veg is great, it’s nutrient dense, and high volumes are still low calories. Having veg with lean meats as the main part of your meals will help you to keep calories low, and have adequate nutrition from those meals. Or if you’re cutting down on meat, great, BUT be aware that you need to consider your meals to ensure protein levels and total calories are adequate. Make it a part of your daily habits to have at least your 5 a day, which may include a little more planning initially.
The problem we see is that most people make up the vast majority of their calories through, well, shit food. Foods that are great, occasionally- take outs, chocolates, or creamy pastas, savory pastries, etc. And not only that, but because of a low veg intake, this makes up the majority of the food volume as well! End result, too many calories, not enough nutrients, and a whole lot of difficulty for your body. Keep these foods as occasional, and make up the majority of your diet (from a food volume perspective*) from veg.
*with veg, because of the low calorie density, this won’t make up the majority of calories in your diet, nor does it need to. But you should be able to look at the foods you eat on a weight loss plan, and see visually that there is more veg than anything else.
#3 Use habits to help you move more out of the gym!
How much do you move in a day? Over the full day? In point 1 I mentioned that we start adding exercise and can STILL struggle to see fat loss. Well, that’s because it’s only a part of the equation of energy output. And the fact is, in general, you’re probably not moving enough in everything else.
A huge part of the energy we use comes from NEAT- non exercise activity thermogenesis. The amount of activity we do in a day without considering it “exercise”. And here’s the funny bit, you’re body will turn this down when you start training, as like most of us, it’s a little apprehensive of change.
Luckily, this is an easy one. Move more. In addition to your exercise plan. “I don’t have time”…
That excuse simply doesn’t work in this situation. Clean the house. Play with the kids. Walk the dog. Which of these options can be planned in? Can they become daily habits to keep your energy output more consistent? Anything that gets you up and moving will help. You’ll also find that adding this in a morning with a short walk outside will help you to wake up and feel more productive. The same goes for around lunchtime before you get that early afternoon dip. Get up, move around, get more done, improve health, and lose weight. Winning.
#4 Push up your protein intake!
“I already eat lots of protein”….
Standard response to telling someone to up their protein intake for fat loss. We’re taught generally about what amount of protein we need to avoid muscle wastage of a high rate with ample calories, in people who don’t do much exercise.
Obviously that’s less than what you need if you’re looking to exercise and be in a calorie deficit, so let’s just cut the s***. You’re 1 chicken breast a day isn’t enough. Nor are the lentils you added to BOOST your protein. This is blunt, but it’s coming from a place of genuinely trying to help you to progress. For most people, a solid serving of protein, 30-40g should be part of every meal. If not, you can look to supplement it. Just like veg intake, aim to increase your protein intake. Add it to the list of daily habits.
Yes, of course you can lose weight with less, but the same argument goes for just don’t eat for a while.. you’ll quickly lose weight. We’re looking at making the process healthy and sustainable, so include a good amount of protein to allow your body to do it’s jobs of repairing your muscles, building enzymes, and all of the other weird and wonderful things it does. It doesn’t really matter whether your protein is meat based or not, what matters is that you get enough of it.
#5 Manage stress and recovery for long term success!
I couldn’t ignore this one. Simply because it’s more often neglected than any of the other points, and it’s impact is more subtle, but devastating. Your health and fitness programme needs to manage stress and recovery for long term fat loss.
If you’re living a high stress life, a huge part of your health is to take control of this. People talk about overtraining, but honestly, what they’re often talking about is an inability to cope with the additional demands of training.
From a health perspective, being in a constant state of stress can impact your body’s ability to recovery and adapt. Our stress response can easily get ramped up in today’s world, and it’s not really designed for the types of stress we encounter. Running for your life is a little different to running late, but to your stress response, it can be the same. Elevated HR, high blood pressure, poor digestion, poor blood sugar regulation, poor decision making, and much more.
Take time to relax, switch off, meditate, read, sleep, eat well, move more, and take a step back to see the bigger picture. Add some of these practices into your daily habits, and you’re helping to take control of your stress. Stress isn’t a bad thing, but an inability to switch off is.
Below is a link to our fat loss challenge eBook, and crucially our offer for a FREE trial of the members site.
Sign up here, and you’ll get the eBook and free site access for 7 days. We have a video in our fat loss essentials course in there on stress and recovery, which is crucial. In fact, if you’re looking for a healthier start to the new year, that entire course will be a great place to start!
(By the way, point 6 is drink more water, you’ve spent long enough reading by now, but pick up your water intake. Drink water before your coffee in a morning, and keep hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Yep, add it to the list of habits).
Moving Forward with these habits.
Every one of these points will help you to move forward into the new year. Write down the things you thought was a reasonable change for you to make, and try to stick to it! Take them on board, as it may be the solution you’ve been looking for.
This year CAN be different. You CAN make the change. It starts with good habits.
Obviously, this solution is generic, but if you would like to see how we can help you to move forward with RESULTS GUARANTEED then simply complete the contact form below.Contact us!
I wish you every success for the new year!
PS. We’ve recently updated our homepage, with some great offers- take a look here!
Josh Kennedy, MSc, ASCC, CSCS