HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!
I hope you had an amazing festive period, spent time relaxing with loved ones, opening presents, drinking mulled wine……and maybe a little over-indulgence with the food – but not too much though!
There really could only be one topic for my first blog post after the New Year, and it’s related to the topic I discuss far more than any other at this time of the year – New Year Weight Loss!
Now, there are literally a million different ways I could structure this post, but I’m going to do my best to be as concise as possible, as well as giving you MY personal views on this subject (by the way, being more concise and sharing my personal views / thoughts are two of my targets for 2016, so hopefully I achieve them both in this post?!)
My first thought when approaching this topic is usually the same; unless you are somebody who is at immediate health risk due to severe obesity then you should not be looking at losing weight as a primary goal! I know the tendency is to look solely at this area straight after Christmas and New year, as you’ve potentially over-indulged in both food and booze, but the truth is that any weight gain over that time is more than likely to have arisen due to water retention, rather than specific fat gain. It’s actually far easier to retain water over a short period of time than it is to add real adipose tissue (fat), and this is likely to be playing that key role in the increase of those numbers on your scales – so stop worrying!
I talk very openly with my clients about the difference between body fat and weight, and where the health priorities should lie. We all probably know that muscle weighs three times more than fat, so we should all be able to work out that just because you are lighter on the scales, it doesn’t mean you are in a better place from a body composition standpoint. With this in mind, start looking at the process of increasing your muscle mass, and decreasing your fat mass (these two very often can work simultaneously) rather than just standing on the scales – I actually recommend throwing our your scales to be quite frank!
As much as the above point is hugely important, and an area I am vehemently passionate about educating people on, I now actually want to share with you my 8 top tips for increasing your muscle mass and decreasing your fat mass, and how simple it can be to get started:
1) SET AN ACHIEVABLE GOAL! This should not be that you want to lose 20 lbs within the next month, as you know that if you did do that, you would have to be totally extreme and it would also mean that you’d more than likely pile all that weight back on, as soon as you stopped being extreme! Think of a really positive, healthy goal that makes you excited about starting this process.
2) MOVE MORE! In whatever capacity that is, just increase the volume of movement you are completing each day. Walk to work from the previous tube stop to your current one; go and play a sport that you loved back in school; learn how to do your favourite dance (mine is the Argentine Tango by the way, but I don’t think I would excel in that area?!); follow a workout DVD or just invite a friend out for a walk in the fresh air…..and reconnect at the same time! Whatever it is, just start moving more – you may even find that you acquire an additional skill or hobby in the process!
3) EAT REAL FOOD! Put the processed meals away and start building a base of simple dishes that you make from scratch, with fresh ingredients. This is where I see so many people fall down, as they are not prepared to commit to this facet of their health & fitness goal. Yes it takes a little preparation, research and organisation, but the results are SO worth it! Add as many seasonal vegetables and colour to each plate of food you consume, take in adequate sources of the vital macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and don’t eat for the sake of eating, your body will tell you when it is hungry and when it isn’t!
4) GET MORE REST! We live very unhealthy lifestyles nowadays, period. I empathise that most people have to work, but going to bed after midnight every evening and getting up at 6am (or before for some!) means that you are not putting your body in the optimal state for physical & mental improvement. Our muscles recover as we sleep, so you should be looking at getting 7 hours a night minimum, preferably eight! There are no end prizes for the person who says they work more than everybody else, just an unhealthy lifestyle and excessive stress in my experience.
5) DRINK MORE WATER! Very simple, but often overlooked by many. Just a moderate level of dehydration can cause sluggishness, fatigue, a reduction in strength and also dizziness, so it is hugely important that you get at least 2 litres of water in per day, potentially more if you are exercising. I get clients to analyse the frequency with which they pass urine, and also the colour of their urine, if I am worried about potential dehydration, as I know this will have an impact on them achieving their goals. If you are going to the bathroom less than 3 times per day, and your urine is anything other than clear, your body is dehydrated and will therefore not be performing at optimal level.
6) HAVE FUN! Set yourself a target of doing something fun at least once a week, and then follow Tip #8! Cortisol is a stress hormone that fights against all the positive things you do for your body, so it is hugely important to try and limit this where possible. Having fun and doing things purely for the enjoyment factor really can have an affect on overall cortisol levels, so find something you enjoy doing away from your current routine, and have a blast doing it!
7) BE HAPPY! The output of Tip #6, and any other area of your life that you are currently positive about. Try taking some time every week to either write down all the things you are currently happy about, or better still say them to yourself in the mirror with a big smile on your face! Yes, it may seem dorky at first, but we so easily lose touch with our own happiness, that this may be the best task you implement in 2016 – believe me it works!
8) BE CONSISTENT! This for me is the most important rule of all. If you are unable to be consistent with any area of your overall health & fitness, then change it today because it is purely a waste of time! I tell all my clients that they are not to implement any lifestyle changes they don’t feel they can be consistent with, as the subsequent feeling of failing at that change down the line will cause a negative response, and potentially de-rail them from their goals.
I hope you find these 8 top tips useful, and as always please feel free to let me know if you have any questions, queries or topics you would like my support on – you know where to find me!
I look forward to seeing you all again in my next blog!