With Summer almost over, the holidays are just around the corner!
With the thought of how near the New Year is, you might be tempted to hold off on your body composition goals until January when you can get a fresh start and shake off the holiday weight!
But really, why wait for January? You can start making small changes to your routine TODAY that will really help toward achieving your goals, reducing your body fat percentage, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The earlier you tackle your body composition goals and start working on your workouts and diet, the sooner you can make it a part of your life and do it habitually – so you do not have to think about it at all!
The first step to setting goals is to have a clear picture of where you are right now, where you want to be, and how to get there. Once you’ve considered the bigger picture, you can narrow it down to what habits need to be built, and what habits need to be let go!
Today, we’ll take a look at the essential things you need to keep in mind when you’re trying to build a lifestyle that will get you to your goal – and keep you there.
1. Creating a balanced diet
A good foundation for your nutrition plan is figuring out how many calories you need to be taking in. This is based on what you put in your body and how much you exercise (or how much you move daily).
In order to achieve your goal, you need to establish a healthy and achievable level of protein, carbs, and fats, and stick to it! Your body needs all these things in order to function properly – especially if working out is part of your lifestyle!
There are thousands of calculators online that will help you figure out what your calorie intake should be. Once you know how much you should be taking in, you can easily adjust your diet in order to match your level of exercise.
That way you can create a trackable, sustainable system for you to follow that will get you to where you want to be in no time!
The next step is understanding your metabolism.
You know these people who can eat everything they want – and stay skinny?!
You might even be one of them, and let me tell you, it’s HARD for them to gain weight (and some of them really want to).
Think of your metabolism like a fire. When you put quality fuel in there, like a log (i.e. wholesome foods like high-quality protein, slow carbohydrates, and healthy fats), the fire burns for a longer period of time. When you don’t fuel the fire enough, or you fuel it with paper or twigs (like refined carbohydrates and sugary foods), it dies down.
Understanding your metabolism is super important when trying to reach your body composition goals – but it’s not as easy as it seems.
Sometimes it can be obvious what you need to do, and sometimes you might need some help from an expert.
Speaking to a doctor or registered dietitian can help you tailor your balanced diet to your personal health and medical history. They may be able to provide you with additional guidance or recommendations to improve or maintain your current health. Your doctor is most likely aware of your health and medical conditions and may be able to give you general recommendations for certain foods or a diet pattern that can help you achieve not only a balanced diet, but one that may improve your overall health. They may also be able to refer you to a local dietitian for additional help.
After you have checked in with your doctor and you have a nutrition plan going, it’s time to go shopping! A well-stocked pantry can be a great tool for maintaining a balanced diet.
Stock up on shelf-stable foods for quick and easy balanced meals: canned beans, no-salt-added canned vegetables, canned tuna or chicken, 100% whole grains (like quinoa, 100% whole wheat pasta or brown rice) and nut butter, frozen items like frozen vegetables (without sauces or seasonings), frozen fruit, frozen pre-cooked grains (like brown rice or quinoa), low-calorie frozen dinners (for busy nights) and frozen proteins (fish or chicken).
And always keep a supply of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy (like low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese and lean proteins (chicken, fish, pork or lean beef).
Now, here is where we have to briefly mention supplements.
If you’re always busy with work, juggling 10 things at once and you don’t always have the time to cook a delicious meal – that’s where supplements come in!
They’re one of the best ways to make your diet sustainable and easy to follow on a busy schedule. But I don’t believe everyone needs them. A lot of people (especially men) rely on them in order to see results! I suggest using them only after you’ve been following a solid workout and diet plan for a while.
Only the people who are serious about their goals but can’t manage a balanced diet should be the ones using supplements.
So now that we know the elements of a balanced diet, let’s talk about how we can turn it to habit – and that habit into a lifestyle!
2. Turning your diet into a part of your lifestyle!
Here’s something my first coach ever told me – if you want to change your life, start with your environment.
If you want to make this sustainable, you can’t do it without a little change.
Let’s start with your refrigerator. You have to throw away all the sugary stuff from in it – chocolates, fruit juice, barbeque sauce, ketchup, etc.
The best way to avoid binging unhealthy foods is simply by surrounding yourself with MORE delicious and healthy options!
If you ever feel that you want to eat something sweet – go for an apple. It will suppress the cravings and it’s always on point with your diet.
Also, keep the 80/20 rule in your mind.
It simply states that if you follow your diet for 80% of the time, you’re good!
Remember, this is about building a lifestyle and making it sustainable.
I believe a lot of people end their fitness journey because they try to force themselves to do something they don’t want to do.
In order to make your goal long-term, get to it, and stay on it after you’ve achieved it, you have to reason with yourself. You can’t just tell yourself what to eat and what not to, and expect your body to follow.
Your body will want everything you try to suppress.
And suppressing it for long will just lower your energy and get you on a downward spiral of being unmotivated and unhappy.
That’s not what I want for you!
I want you to have a balanced, flexible diet.
Flexible dieting is the best way to keep yourself motivated and still push forward toward your goal!
Many alternative diets (keto, low-fat, vegetarian) are very prescriptive, with very rigid rules and little compatibility with people’s tastes and preferences.
There are some rules of course, but as the name suggests, flexible dieting is nowhere near as stern as other diets tend to be. A flexible diet opens up people’s choices as there is little emphasis on making people only eat certain types of food (although eating a variety of foods and vegetables is encouraged).
The diet is essentially based on establishing a daily calorie target (the most important factor in weight control) and slightly looser target ranges for Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats – allowing you to treat yourself and enjoy the foods you love!
Everything we’ve discussed so far will help you set your body composition goals.
Remember, no one knows you better than you!
You can always benefit from working with a fitness and nutrition coach, but you are the best person to set goals for yourself.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to what you’re willing to do (and let go of), what improvements you’d like to see, and how far you’re willing to go with it.
But the first step to doing this… is actually pretty simple and easy to take.
You need to know where you’re currently at and what you’re going to do – and that means getting your body composition tested and deciding that you’re going to create a nutrition plan that you will follow until you get to your destination.
That way you can set goals for yourself that will make your entire fitness and nutrition journey motivating, successful, and most importantly, enjoyable!