How many times have you been on a diet? Have you wondered what it actually takes to live like a fitness model? Every where we turn these days – TV, online,in magazines – we see a secret tip that will make the fat melt away. Promises of the body of your dreams in just 5 easy steps! Sixpack abs in just minutes a day! With such an overload of over marketed information it is nearly impossible to make sense of it all or to figure out what is best for you and your body.
On a diet is a ludicrous phrase that refers to a finite amount of time. Something that will end and you will get to go back to your old habits that put you where you are in the first place. While on your diet, you make yourself miserable in order to lose weight at all costs – too little calories, too little real food and too much cardio. Those things may initially get you a few sizes smaller, they may even get you into the bikini of your dreams, but if you have not incorporated principles into your life that can take you through every day clean eating and healthy living, then you are bound to gain back everything you have lost and then some. Sound familiar? Unfortunately it happens all too often.
In this article I’m going to provide you with a starter kit to your new fit body. It’s more than just a new diet or workout plan. There are 5 pillars to my fitness lifestyle plan that encompass all parts of your physical well – being. Leave any one of these elements out and you will be off balance and your results will suffer. It is going to take persistence. You are going to have to change those habits that have been holding you back from being your best YOU.
Let’s start with cardio. Before exploring formal cardio activities, make a commitment to MOVE MORE! Consciously do things like parking a little farther away from the store so that you have to walk a little more during your daily activities. Start your formal cardio program slowly. Find an activity you enjoy. Don’t try to find the hardest one, choose an activity that you will be able to stick with. Walking is a good place to start for anyone. Depending on your experience and access to equipment and facilities you might enjoy running, biking, a specific cardio machine or a fitness class. Start with fifteen minutes, 2 or 3 days a week. Consistency is key. Add a little each week with the goal of reaching 30 minutes, three days a week by the end of the first month. Thirty minutes of cardio, 3 times a week is perfect for the fitness lifestyle.
Next, you’ll perform the following muscle conditioning workout three times per week for the next six weeks. Start with midsection exercises as a warm–up. You’ll do 1 – 2 sets of crunches and leg raises for 10 – 20 repetitions each.
The remaining exercises are presented in pairs (supersets) or in the case of legs, 3 exercises that are done together:
Do one set of each exercise in the superset, stretch for 10 – 30 seconds, and then perform another set of each.
Weeks 1 and 2 perform 2 sets of each exercise for 12 reps per set (hold each stretch for 10 seconds).
For weeks 3 and 4 perform 3 sets of 10 reps per set (hold stretches for 15 seconds).
During weeks 5 and 6 perform 4 sets of each exercise for 12, 10, 10, and 8 reps (hold each stretch for 20 – 30 seconds).
Perform your reps in a controlled manner concentrating on achieving perfect form. Add weight on any exercise where you could easily do 2 extra reps on your last set.
Stretch your muscles only to the point where you feel minor discomfort, then hold for the prescribed time. Don’t overdo it.
2nd Pillar: Nutrition and Supplementation
A well–rounded nutrition plan that includes tons of high nutrient foods is absolutely key. You should not feel like you are on a diet, but rather that you are working with your body and supplying it essential fuel for your active life. FOOD IS GOOD. When you are eating high quality food, you get to eat a lot of it! You want to stick with wholesome foods that replenish and strengthen you.
Small changes can make a big difference! Here are some tips to get you moving in the right direction...
If you are only eating 2–3 times per day, the most important thing you can do is add at least one additional meal or snack each day. Your goal is to nourish your body 4–5 times each day by the end of one month.
Cut down on and eventually cut out junk foods.
Try to include a protein source from the list below in each of your meals.
Combine your protein with one from the complex carbohydrate list in 1 or 2 of your meals.
Combine your protein with one of the healthy fats (but no complex carbohydrates in another 1 or 2 meals. A protein shake and handful of nuts makes an excellent snack.
Love your veggies! Vegetables that are steamed, grilled or raw will be completely unlimited; you should eat them as often as possible (with any or all of your meals). You may also include fruit 1–2 times per day as well!
Here’s a good list of food to choose from:
Lean Proteins (with every meal or snack): whole eggs, egg whites, chicken breast, turkey breast, seafood, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, lean beef, Ultimate Muscle Protein, Muscle Provider, etc.
Complex Carbohydrates (1 or 2 meals per day): oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, edamame, high fiber wraps, English muffins, etc.
I believe including the right supplements to support your body and your active lifestyle is vital to your success. Start with these 3 supplement basics.
A high quality multi–vitamin is a must. I prefer Beverly International FitTabs. Take 1 or 2 tablets with your first meal in the morning and again with your evening meal.
Lean Out helps your body transport stored fat to be used for energy. It is also great for appetite control. I recommend 2 capsules, twice a day.
Use Ultimate Muscle Proteinas a meal replacement or healthy between meal snack. It’s delicious, easy to prepare, and sure to become a cornerstone of your fitness lifestyle program.
In a hurry or on the road? Have a quick meal ready at all times by tossing 2 scoops of Ultimate Muscle Protein in a Ziploc bag, bringing a shaker bottle and a bottle of water with you.
Looking for a healthy, high protein cure for your sweet tooth? Try my UMP Cookie recipe!
Just to reinforce how important the right supplements are to your success, check out the supplements I personally use everyday to support my FITBODY lifestyle at the end of this article.
3rd Pillar: Stretching and/or Yoga
Flexibility is an important component of overall fitness. It decreases muscle soreness, increases range of motion, and helps relieve post–workout aches and pains while preparing your body for the stress of exercise. The stretches that we are doing between supersets of our conditioning workouts are a great start. Even better... include 1–2 yoga classes of your choice per week. I love the deep stretching and mind–body connection you get from yoga. Here are a few things to know before beginning a yoga class:
Take it at your own pace. Starting out, yoga poses can be very challenging, especially if your flexibility is limited. Know that it is fine to modify or take the poses slowly in the beginning. Many yoga instructors will provide modifications to poses to match the ability level of their class. It’s a good idea to show up a few minutes early and let the instructor know you are new.
Be prepared to slow down. One of the biggest benefits of yoga can also be one of the most difficult parts for Type A personalities. Yoga forces you to breathe evenly, go slowly through movements and occasionally do nothing but lay completely still. This pace allows you to develop a deeper mind/body connection and forces you to really focus on what you are feeling in each pose.
Use the tools. As you begin, a yoga block and strap can be your best friends. These tools will allow you to safely attempt poses that you may not yet be flexible enough to do without them. Those extra few inches a block or strap provides can make a big difference!
4th Pillar: Hydration
Of all the beverage choices you have each day, what is calorie-free, virtually cost free and essential to keeping you alive? Plain old water! Water drives basic body performance and is essential for all the systems of your body to properly function. Start by adding at least 2 – 16oz bottles of water per day to the amount of liquid you are already drinking. With time, you’ll want to work up to drinking at least ½ gallon of water per day. I personally drink a gallon or more each day. A great way to sneak in extra water is to have a large glass of water along with every meal you eat.
5th Pillar: Rest
Stick to a schedule. Going to bed at about the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning creates a consistent pattern that reinforces your body’s sleep–wake cycle.
Avoid stimulants and caffeine after lunch.
If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid electronic devices and TV time in the hour or so before bed as the particular type of light emanating from them stimulates the brain and makes it difficult to relax. Try reading or taking a hot bath instead.
A word of warning. No one said this will take no effort on your part or that you’ll get results overnight. You are going to have to work to change those habits that have been holding you back from being the best YOU that you and I both know you can be. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. You won’t just be training your body; you’ll be training to be good at life. Looking good on the outside and feeling great on the inside. Your self–confidence will soar.Your metabolism will be boosted. Your body will get tighter and more defined week after week. You will enjoy life and the new body you have created through your hard work and dedication.
Ready to go further on the fitness lifestyle highway? Julie Lohre offers an 8 week step by step guide designed to take you through exactly what you need to do both in the gym and in the kitchen. Designed specifically for a woman’s body, Julie’s FITBODY Lifestyle plan is available online here at FITBODY.com