You popped out of bed, eager to start 2013 by dropping a few pounds, hitting the gym and the trail more often, eating healthier and making this year the YEAR OF YOU!
It’s now 38 days later and many of those things in the front of your mind are now at the back of your mind and no longer action items. You are a little frustrated. “My resolve was so strong just over a month ago” you tell yourself. “What happened and how do I get back on track?” You ask yourself.
GM: According to a study by the University of Bristol, 88 percent of New Year Resolutions fail when it comes to losing weight, getting in better health, stopping smoking, etc. What makes people fail and what can people do to ensure they are in the 22 percent that succeed?
ST: You have to really want to change and I think that there are way too many people that know a change needs to be made but really don’t have the deep-down desire to do so. I also think the fact that most people don’t enjoy exercise or working out has a ton to do with the failure rate. Instead of making a resolution they should first find an activity they like and use it to help them reach their desired weight or resolution goals. When this is accomplished, it’s a double-win situation.
GM: We often hear experts say you have to start eating more fruits, vegetables and lean meats, almost making anything that isn’t healthy for you taboo. Is this an unrealistic expectation? What advice do you have for people trying to change their lifestyle?
ST: I always encourage people to find a balance in life and that extends to what is on your plate, I feel the best way to adopt a healthier lifestyle is to ease into it. Start by cutting back and slowly eliminating whatever it is that is preventing them from reaching their goals or limiting their results. You don’t have to be perfect but a conscious effort does need to be made, you have to be accountable and honest to yourself about your downfalls before progress can be made. It always helps to have a partner(s) when adopting a new eating plan for support and encouragement.
GM: It seems that people are quick to make excuses such as “if I cannot go to the gym at least 3 times per week, there is no sense in going” or “I just don’t have time in my life to do any kind of exercise”. Is there a minimum amount of time that has to be spent at the gym? What about people that cannot go to the gym because of time or financial contraints?
ST: This is one of the things that irritates me the most… No, there isn’t a minimum amount of time that needs to be spent to make it worth it. You don’t need a gym, money is not an excuse. You don’t have a 30 minute block of time? Take 10 minutes before work, 10 at lunch and 10 after work to walk or jog. No money for a gym membership? Find some Wi-Fi or go to the library and research “at home workouts” or something to that extent – much can be accomplished at or around your house with bodyweight exercises.
GM: The internet allows not only for peer groups to keep you on track, but also allows for professional guidance in a way never before available. How important are these for people breaking old habits and adopting a new lifestyle?
ST: I think that this is huge, from calorie calculators to support groups or online trainers, to the vast amount of information on the web for any given subject. The internet is a valuable tool for beginners who are just starting out. I am a huge advocate of my clients using the sites that help you track your food, it’s a great tool and when the input from the person is accurate and honest they give you a concrete view of your food day with nutrient breakdowns and often recommendations based on the goals and personal information the individual has provided to the system.
GM: There are countless diet plans out there such as Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and Nutri-system that tend to be expensive and require a lot of management overhead to accomplish. What is your advice to people considering these diet plans?
ST: The above mentioned “diets” all have pros and cons. If money spent on food and your health is not an issue, programs like Nutri-system are awesome and take out the guess work to get you started on the road to success. If you can afford to eat specific to these diets and stay true to them they will work but they each have pluses and minuses. If money is an issue there are often ways to modify a popular diet plan but creativity will need to come into play food wise to get the same results.
The problem is the word “diet.” For most, a “diet” has a starting and ending date, when the ending date has come usually the “diet” does as well. A change in your lifestyle and eating habits will lead to long term success when doing the following
- Identify your goals and be specific
- Be realistic about your commitment level
- Take into account your activity and training goals, while again being realistic about the time you can and will commit to this area
- Plan a food budget (you can’t go high protein/low carb if you can’t afford to purchase large amounts of lean protein sources)
- Put together or hire someone to build a daily meal plan around your life (work, kids, etc..)
- Don’t try to be perfect
- Allow for “fun” or “cheat” meals or days where you vary from the daily plan to satisfy cravings… your mind and body will thank you and get you refocused on your goals
- Don’t beat yourself up if you get off track or have a bad day, and don’t wait until Monday to get back on track… do it the next day
- Finally, surround yourself with people who have similar goals and eating habits (it’s much harder to succeed if your roommate or spouse wants to go eat fast food all the time or hit the bars for beers nonstop.)
GM: Along this same topic, people often hear “caloric deficit” and don’t research any further. Simply thinking they can simply consume less calories than they burn and they will lose weight. Unfortunately, this all-to-often results in people dipping to a very low caloric intake each day, thinking the more they starve themselves, the faster they will lose weight. What is your advice in this arena?
ST: A very low calorie diet will work for a short time and the immediate weight loss will be mostly made up of toxins and excess fluids that the body will release when there is a shortage of calories…which also means a shortage of the normal amounts of sugars and sodium said person has eliminated. This is unhealthy because it takes approximately 10 calories per pound of Lean Body Mass to fuel a persons brain and organs properly. The body is a very smart machine and when starvation is used as a tool to loose weight it will sense that and in return hold onto excess weight to counter the starvation method.. it goes back to the feast or famine times when cavemen ate in abundance and also later on ran out of food sources and lived off the excess weight they had put on during the feast times.
It is important to find the appropriate amount of calories for multiple reasons, but mainly to keep normal body functions going. Keep the metabolism burning calories for energy and for overall health (skin, hair, nails, etc..). The best way to find this out is to analyze your body type (ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph) and for women (apple, pear, hourglass, tube), from there add in your height and optimal weight along with activity level and then find a daily calorie range using one of the numerous calorie calculators available on the internet.
An online calorie calculator isn’t going to be perfect but it will give you a starting point, and from there you can add or decrease calories based on what is happening with your weight, energy levels, strength in the gym, and overall sense of how you are feeling. Again, your body is a smart machine, listen to what it is telling you.
GM: Any final pieces of advice you would give to people embarking on a healthier lifestyle change for 2013?
ST: Commit, Commit, Commit. Don’t make excuses along the way, stick to the plan and you will surprise yourself and others with your results. Take pictures of yourself at the beginning, they don’t lie like the mirror and use it as a tool for personal motivation. Don’t rely on a scale; your clothes are a much better gauge of success. If you don’t have supportive families (with your exercise and eating goals) find a friend or support group that will help you and just do it.
What are YOUR tips for staying the course? Comment below and let us know.
Have additional questions for Steve? You can ask them below or follow him on facebook at Vital – Personal Performance Center and engage with him directly.
The founder of Vital Performance Center and FliBye racing, Steven Thompson is an avid outdoor adventurer and competitive mountain biker with nearly 15 years experience as an expert in health and fitness. He calls Colorado Springs, CO home and can usually be found in the mountains across the front range.