I have a secret that probably 99% of this audience will relate to: I used to be a coach potato. A very proud couch potato that shrugged off summer. Who needs to look good? That's for the young boys. I'm older now, with a family and a lot of things to do …right? Abs are for the young crowd…right?
I realized that health, more than anything else, is worth fighting for. It's not that anything major happened to me — I just got tired of walking past the mirror and feeling like there was a second blob attached to me for life.
You've been there, I'm sure, so you know what I mean. Well, I like to get scientific. You know that annoying guy that's always telling you facts, figures, and alternate viewpoints? That's me.
I have a feeling that there are actually a lot of people that are in my shoes. They're dreaming about a better body, but they might not be sure how to go about it. SO I decided to create a kick start program, broken down into zones, that really focuses on giving you the type of lifestyle where fat burning is just part of the program.
A Few Differences
This isn't about a crash diet. I don't believe in those. I yo-yo dieted for years and gained so much belly fat I feel like my belly has its own zip code. But this isn't about me; it's about you. So let's go!
Zone One: Lifestyle
If you don't have a good lifestyle, the rest of the plan is just going to fall apart. I'm not trying to be too terribly blunt, but it's definitely true.
If you are smoking, drinking heavily, and not getting enough sleep every night you’re basically sabotaging yourself before you’ve really had a chance to heal and be stronger than where you were yesterday.
I'm not trying to be some sort of evil Puritan type telling you that you shouldn't have a cocktail now and then, but the reality is that everything you do can affect your training for the better or for worse. It just depends on what you are trying to aim for.
Let's talk about that sleep thing. This is where I see a lot of people messing up, because sleep is truly one of the most important parts of the program.
Why? That's easy. According to a study done by Dr. Timothy Roehrs of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, sleep takes a toll on effective decision making.
When you're trying to train hard, you need to think carefully about what you're doing. You can't do that when you're sleepy.
How much sleep do you need? That depends. The need for sleep doesn't diminish, but your sleeping patterns may change with age. Some people find that they need six hours of sleep, while others might need about eight or nine hours. It's important to listen to your body as much as possible.
Hormone health is a good thing, and it's not a bad idea to try to see where you are. There are over 20+ hormones of the human body, and they're all very important. For example, you will need to pay attention to your adrenals as well as your thyroid.
A sluggish thyroid might make fat loss very difficult. Getting your levels checked by a lab is definitely an investment in your health, but this is optional. Now that I've lectured a little about lifestyle, let's go into the next "zone".
Zone Two: Diet
Diet is something that definitely makes a difference. Forget what's said on the late night infomercials. Diet matters a lot more than you would like to admit that diet matters. But it's the right type of diet.
Enter the Elimination Diet
An elimination diet is a great way to really make sure that you are finding the diet that's going to be right for you. I hate other fitness guides that tend to lock me into a rigid style of eating. Everyone has different food sensitivities, and these play a role in how only how we look, but how our hormones are able to regulate our bodies. If you're drinking milk and using dairy products when you're lactose intolerant, you're not going to get good results from your workout.
On the other hand, if you were to eliminate dairy, you would see your body respond better because you’re not causing inflammation that gets in the way of your weight loss. Elimination diets can also help you take care of other problems, like ADHD and even migraines as some studies have found.
You may want to strip your diet down to just whole foods — fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, and some starches. Good fats like coconut oil have antiviral, antifungal, and metabolism boosting properties that you don't want to miss out on!
Every meal should be planned out in advance once you find out what you can eat without adding inflammation. Quick fixes can be done, but you may want to get a slow cooker. I find that starting it before work means that I really have something delicious to look forward to when I get off work.
Another important point is that you want to track what you're actually eating. Without measurements, we tend to overestimate or even underestimate what nutrients and calories we're actually getting. You cannot leave your fat stripping program to chance.
Naturally, you also want to take some time to figuring out how many calories you need a day. I like to go with enough calories to make me feel full, but I also like to go with more of a moderate carbohydrate approach.
This means that I cut out refined sugars, flours, and breads, but I do leave in potatoes of all types as well as yams and other big starchy roots and tubers. Bring on the onions! Let's move on to the final zone.
Zone Three: Exercise!
This is my favorite section, for many reasons. I love working out, but I didn't always feel that way. At first, getting off the couch made me think of some intense style bootcamp workout, and I wasn’t trying to do that. I have other things to do than exercise.
I also knew my body was out of shape. We downplay conditioning when it comes to getting in shape. But there are ways to make sure that you get the exercise you need. One, you want to ensure that you’re stretching before as well as after. The body needs to get warmed up before you dive into any exercise program.
I really like high intensity interval training. Men, there's some big benefits here waiting for you. There was a study done by the Exercise and Health Sciences department in the School of Sport at Loughborough University in the UK that determined that even two weeks of high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more than enough to bring benefits in changing fat composition as well as improving heart health in overweight and obese males.
That's good enough for me.
So let's go into some bodyweight HIIT you can do right now. I like bodyweight because it means that I'm more likely to do it since I don't have to stop and find weights. It's also a budget friendly way of getting your exercise in.
My favorite bodyweight exercises are the squat (your choice of squat), lunges, burpees (yes, they are evil but you will love them as your body changes), the box jump, the push up, pull up, and even using a jump rope. You can find jump ropes pretty cheaply, but you don't have to add it if you don't want.
HIIT is all about doing your max intensity for a set amount of time, resting shortly, and then doing it again. These are called rounds every time you do it. So you might do 30 seconds of activity, followed by 10 seconds of rest.
That's something that might not sound like much, but after a few rounds you'll definitely want to rest for a long time. This is especially true if you’re pushing for your max with each time.
Don't be afraid to track your results on this. It's never a bad idea of know where you are and where you're headed at any time.
Summing It Up
This is definitely a subject that I could fill pages and pages and pages up with, but we'll stop here. You have a lot to think about now. Moving through the zones might seem impossible, but this is the stuff that lifestyles are made of.
By choosing to make it a lifestyle rather than a crash course, you're really giving yourself the foundation to be beach ready not only this summer, but every summer thereafter. Why not start today? You only have results to think about!