New Year. New Body.

When it comes to altering our body composition it tends to bring out our inquisitorial nature as we search for the ‘Holy Grail’ of diets. Keto, carb cycling, the Atkins diet, paleo etc. In it’s most basic form, fat loss is a matter of energy balance. Calories in vs calories out. To lose body fat you must be in a calorie deficit.

Everyone wants to feel & look better. But what does it take to get into shape & sustain it through developing new habits & behaviours? Below are a number of tips, considerations & practical advice that you can immediately action.

Considerations

To create sustainable habits you need;

  • Knowledge
  • Skills (to apply & tailor the knowledge practically)
  • Desire to change

Why?

Purpose makes you strong. Identify why you are committed to change. It will act as the wind in your sales when motivation is fleeting. Note it. Save it as your phone or desktop background. Keep it at the forefront of your mind.

Set Goals

Write your goals down & break them into;

  • Process goals (short-term daily/weekly targets)
  • Performance goals
  • Outcome goal (the endpoint)

The most common mistake people make is to focus their attention on the outcome goal. Research shows that individuals who set process & performance goals, along with an outcome goal, experienced less anxiety, had greater confidence, improved concentration, improved overall satisfaction & enhanced performance. Stamatogiannakisa et al. (2018) found that setting harder goals lead to more satisfaction.

You should monitor & re-evaluate your goals periodically based upon your current performance & the original goals you set at baseline.

I recommend you read Dr Philip Clarke’s article on effective goal setting

Daily Rituals

There is a growing body of evidence that the world’s elite performers from Olympic athletes to FTSE 100 CEOs utilise daily rituals to create a sense of order & control in fast-paced, highly stressful environments. This ranges from certain workflows, to how they build exercise into their schedule, nutritional habits & stress management skills.

Create a daily routine that promotes productivity, growth, health & wellbeing.

My routine;

5am — wake up

5.15am - walk

6.15am — home & shower

6.30am — read HBR or a book

7.30am — emails

8.00am — start work

7.30pm — gym

9.30pm — meditation

10pm — bed

Repeat.

Understanding Energy

According to the 1st law of Thermodynamics energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it simply changes form. If we overeat energy is stored as body fat. If we utilise more energy than we consume, we draw energy from adipose tissue (body fat).

Most people live sedentary lives. The lower your weekly activity levels (NEAT), the larger the deficit you will need to create through;

  • Manipulating your weekly energy intake (nutrition/fluids)
  • Manipulating your weekly exercise expenditure

Hence why I add a walk into my morning routine. It makes it significantly easier to create a calorie deficit, lose body fat, stay in shape & has no negative impact upon my training session performance (whether that is running, rowing, weights etc).

Personally, I aim for between 10–14K steps per day. If you can’t add activity to your daily schedule, you have two options;

  • Removing calories
  • Increasing the volume/duration of training sessions

Learn

Morning walks are also an opportunity for me to listen to a podcast or an audio book (something that I sometimes struggle to commit to later in the evening).

Over the last number of months I have listened to;

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

The Art of Happiness

If you are interested in other book recommendations you can check out my Goodreads

Exercise

There is no one size fits all approach. Do what you enjoy & be consistent.

Fast Feed Philosophy

Assuming you don’t want to follow a set dietary regimen & opt for a more ‘freestyle’ approach…

The Fast, Feed philosophy is a sustainable lifestyle that theoretically can be made/implemented instantly & supports optimal performance, body composition & health. The morning is primarily built around low calorie, nutrient dense, high protein meals, it is essentially a protein sparing modified fast, it likely optimises neurotransmitter synthesis & favors focus & alertness. The protein content will support body composition alterations, while the fruit & vegetables offer health benefits. The combination of protein & fibre will slowly titrate energy to maintain stable blood glucose concentrations. In the evening larger meals, with an increased carbohydrate content are allowed. The consumption of a high glycemic carbohydrate-rich (>80 g) meal 1–4-hours prior to sleep may reduce sleep onset latency & may improve sleep quality through insulin-mediated alterations to the tryptophan to large neutral amino acid concentrations & its concomitant impact upon serotonin synthesis. Such an eating pattern also allows for social eating, potentially with friends at restaurants & occasional alcohol consumption. If the Fast, Feed philosophy is something you would like further information on, get in touch.

Stress Management

Life is tough. Negative behaviours such as over eating, drinking alcohol, smoking etc. are often developed as coping mechanisms to deal with the daily stressors of life. The problem being most people don’t have an alternative…

Growing up I was far too emotional. I was reactive & lashed out in situations which never resulted in anything positive. I didn’t deal well with stress at all. Thankfully within the last 2 years I have discovered meditation & mindfulness. I’ve been practising meditation under the teachings of Dr William Van Gordon. What a difference it has made.

If you are struggling to manage stress or find peace I highly recommend looking into his material. A great place to start for beginners is reading 10 Meditation Mistakes

Sleep & Recovery

The foundation of recovery & a topic that requires an entire blog post to do it justice.

Let’s Wrap This Up

In my opinion, for daily rituals to be sustainable they must be;

  • Enjoyable (if you don’t enjoy it, you aren’t going to stick to it)
  • Realistic (the balancing act of life)
  • Accountable (to a coach/or a supportive friendship network)
  • Family inclusive (alienating your family is not sustainable, it may work in the short term but not over extended periods of time)