Spring is here and quite a few people will be wanting to shed some winter pounds. There are lots of reasons why people pack on a winter layer of fat. The festive season, less opportunity for outdoor activity, in rainy climates the grey gets people down are all reasons you may have fallen off your fitness routine. No matter what the reason you are not happy with your current body composition or conditioning, getting started right away is the first step.
As a personal trainer in Vancouver, B.C. Canada, the spring is our second busiest time of year. We are inundated with people looking to lose fat, get back on shape and hit summer looking and feeling great. Here are some tips we share with our Vancouver fat loss and personal training clients.
Knowing where to start is tough. Do I start eating better? Should I start exercising daily? Where do I get the most reward for my efforts? Choosing the right starting point is definitely important. Seeing results quickly will motivate and encourage you to keep going. So here is what I would do. Assuming you have some exercise background and find yourself recently out of shape (vs being a long term sedentary person- you may need a more gradual approach to the exercise portion but the nutrition recommendations will be the same).
- Make on dietary change per week and stick to it. Start with the most important items. Make a permanent change and get used to it for the week. I will list them out. Trying to do all of these at once may lead to paralysis by analysis. Make one change see how you feel and keep adding a change a week until you hit your goal. See below for some dietary recommendations.
- After one week of one dietary change start exercising. My heartfelt recommendation is do something daily ,aim for 6 days a week. Start with 10 minutes. A quick run or run & walk of the block will get your blood moving. Alternately, a body weight based program that you can do at home will get you feeling better. Even a brief 10 minute session will get those endorphins flowing and have you feeling better. Why daily? because you need to get in the habit of exercise. If one hour a couple times a week does not fit your schedule then you need to find ways to get exercise in your day regularly. You eventually want to progress to interval cardio training (alternating hard and easy) and full body circuit training. I find it the easiest to alternate each daily.
- After one week of doing ten minutes a day increase it to 15 minutes.
- Continue on this program until your daily exercise routine is 30 minutes and you have made at least 5 dietary changes that are permanent.
Ok there you have it a quick guide to getting started. Here is a list of dietary changes to make. I have put them in the order I would do, but the key is doing something and making it stick:
- Eliminate Alcohol- I would eliminate completely to start for 21 days. After this have drinks only one night per week. Alcohol is converted into a waste product called acetate. Acetate takes priority over burning off fat. Long and short if you drink the night before you train, you do not get as good of a rest and you will not be burning fat the next day during or after your session. Once you are at your goal weight you can most likely have alcohol 2 x per week and not see any ill affects (but it will limit your progress)
- Go Gluten Free- Gluten is found in grain and added to most processed foods. It causes bloating, water retention and digestive stress. Most people find they have more energy to train when they elimiate grain form their diet and replace it with fruits and vegetable.
- Cut out Caffeine- Caffeine stays in your system a long time. It has a 1/2 life of 4 hours. This means if you have a cup of coffee with 100mg caffeine, 4 hrs later you have 50 mg, 4 hrs later 25mg, 4 hrs later 12.5 mg. This affects your sleep and you do not fall into as deep of a sleep. You awake tiered and need caffeine to keep you going. You need deep REM sleep for natural testosterone production. This will allow you to repair from your training and make sure you have the energy to get to your workout.
- Cut out carbs after noon- Breakfast and lunch should be you biggest meals. By dinner you should be winding down. Have some protein (fish is great) with a salad for dinner. This will also make sure you are not digesting a heavy meal which can affect your sleep.
- No processed food- If it is in a package or was not hear 100 years ago, it's most likely doing more harm than good.
There you have it. Make some of these changes and you will be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Craig Boyd is one of Vancouver’s top personal trainers, CrossFit coaches and boot camp instructors. He enjoys helping clients of all abilities meet their fitness and weight loss goals. His websites are http://www.precisionathletics.ca/