One thing’s for certain, it’s been a strange few months for all of us. Stress, uncertainty and heartbreak have made a more regular appearance in our lives than perhaps ever before. Plans have been ruined, holidays postponed, exams cancelled and loved ones falling sick.
But dare I say it, things seem to be getting back to some kind of normality. I suspect the ‘normal’ we are used to is some way off but with the kids going back to school, people returning to work (albeit largely from home) and local businesses back up and running, hopefully we can now take some positive steps forward to getting our lives back on track.
This should leave us with a less tumultuous schedule and more of a regular routine. As such, now is the perfect time to carve out some ‘me’ time into your schedule to look after yourself.
If any good can come out of this whole situation it’s that we all have a new-found respect for the importance of our health and fitness. I’ve said it many times over the past few months, that the most important thing you can do to protect yourself against the severe symptoms of COVID-19 is to lose body fat and improve your fitness.
We know this now for a fact with many recent studies suggesting that the biggest risk factor (second only to age) is being overweight.
That being said, most of us are heading into September with a few extra pounds of body fat than we had at the end of March, so what’s the best way to get started?
We all know we should exercise, now more than ever, but unfortunately it feels like there are 101 other things that take priority. If you are really serious about improving your body composition and getting in shape COMMIT to doing something every day to move you towards your goals.
This doesn’t have to mean getting a personal trainer and signing up for a full body transformation (although I can definitely recommend a good one). It could be as simple as carving out 30 minutes a day for ‘You’ time, when you focus solely on your health and fitness.
Before you start, I would highly recommend seeking advice from a professional to help you structure a nutrition and exercise plan to get you on the right path. Pay us a visit at the Better Body Group and we will do just that.
2. Create a daily calorie deficit.
As I mention in pretty much every single article I have ever written about fat loss (and will do until the end of time); No one has ever lost any body fat (ever in the history of the world) unless they are achieving a consistent calorie deficit, i.e. burning off more calories than they consume.
The easiest way to do this? Track your Kcal intake using a simple calorie tracking device (like MyFitnessPal) and focus on eating nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, wild fish, and some complex carbohydrates. Lowering your calorie intake is far easier than trying to out train a bad diet.
3. Walk more
One of the most underrated fat loss tools ever is walking, fidgeting, taking the stairs, standing at your desk. Anything that keeps you moving will contribute towards the daily calorie deficit mentioned above. What’s more, none of these things will exhaust you, injure you or stress your central nervous system so they can (and should) be carved into your routine daily.
I’ve seen lots of people blame their genetics, hormones and age for the fact they can’t lose fat when more often than not they are just not moving enough each day. Aim for at least 10-12,000 steps a day.
4. Do some kind of resistance training.
Let’s clear something up. Losing ‘weight’ does not always mean losing ‘fat’. We want to keep (and build) as much lean tissue as possible. More muscle equals more calories burnt at rest.
We don’t all need to be walking around looking like bodybuilders (which is far far harder than most people imagine) but we certainly don’t want to fall into the trap of reducing our daily calorie intake and not lifting weights. This is the perfect recipe for weight loss rebound.
If you drastically reduce Kcal intake, you will lose lots of weight (some of it muscle) but as a result your resting metabolic rate will drop, and with that the number of kcals you burn each day. The result; you will gain weight fast as soon as you start eating normally again as your routine starts creating a calorie surplus.
The solution? Create a realistic and sustainable calorie target and add a strength training program to your routine. Not sure where to start? Either begin with a simple home workout routine (check out our previous articles for lots of examples) or visit a gym/PT for a structured weight training programme.
5. Sleep more
With lots of us now gaining at least a small amount of time by not travelling as much, and working from home, I would strongly suggest using this to sleep more. In the UK we are chronically sleep deprived, and as a result tend to eat more than we should. Let me explain why; A lack of sleep negatively effects the levels of two hormones (ghrelin and leptin) responsible for regulating our appetite. Put simply, if you are tired, you are hungry!
Sleep is also crucial in recovery, repairing damaged tissue and increasing our energy levels and mood. Aim for 7.5/8.5 hours of sleep a night. It’s too important to be tired.
I know this all sounds a lot like hard work but trust me when I say; looking after yourself is not a luxury reserved for those with time, money and age on their side. Now more than ever it’s a necessity to everyone that wants to live a long, successful and happy life. And I mean everyone.
Take back some time for yourself, start slowly, and I guarantee you will reap the rewards in no time!
• If you need any advice or help on getting started feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.