By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Sexy is a pair of Apple AirPods or a Series 4 Apple Watch. Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beater to send the Philadelphia 76ers home in Game 7. Cardi B rising from the slums of the Bronx to the top of the Billboard charts. A Lamborghini pushing top speed with the top down. You get the point. Now, are you ready to gain some healthy habits?
When it comes to fat loss training, sexy is: fast results, new workouts, quick fixes, and fad diets. Within our instant gratification-powered society and the multi-billion dollar machine that is the fitness industry, sexy sells.
While the change may come rapidly (if it comes at all), people struggle to obtain sustainable results through these methods and most times end up right back where they started. Whether we like to hear it or not, sometimes we are better off leaving “sexy” alone.
Want to know the true key to jumping off the proverbial wellness hamster wheel (or treadmill) and getting into the best shape of your life?
Changing your habits.
At times, building habits can be about as exciting as watching paint dry, but you are what you do consistently.
Each day, you make choices that either bring you closer to your goals or lead you further away from them. It’s your decision whether you craft habits that help you or hinder your progress.
The following 5 habits may be “unsexy,” but when paired with a progressive strength training program, body fat doesn’t stand a chance.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard my mom say the old adage “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” I’d probably be on a yacht being fed grapes at this very moment. When it comes to strength training/fat loss, this statement is key.
Life can be a rollercoaster filled with twists and turns. One minute you’re crushing goals and taking names; the next minute you are in an Uber to urgent care because you tripped over your cat and stubbed your toe. Things happen. The fewer decisions you have to make amongst the unpredictability of your week, the easier it will be to obtain results.
If we broke down our day into 4 meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack), the total equates to 28 meals in a 7-day period. You could adjust this number based on your particular goals, eating preferences, etc., but let’s keep it at 28 in this example for the purpose of simplicity.
The number will vary on a case by case basis, but in general, the more meals you can lockdown, the better. On the flip side, some flex room or “free meals” are also important, because all broccoli and no ice cream makes Jack an upset dude!
When people hear about discipline, they get nervous. They equate discipline with restriction. In reality, discipline leads to freedom. The less choices you have to make, the more energy you have to worry about the things that really matter to you.
You can plan all you want, but if you don’t have any of the materials to produce these meals, then you are out of luck.
Make food shopping a priority during your week, so that you are never caught with your fridge empty. I wasn’t a huge fan of math in school, but if there’s an equation on this planet that I want you to master it is this one:
Hungry person + Hectic week + No food on deck = McDonald’s McFlurries for breakfast!
I’m not asking you to be Rachael Ray or Bobby Flay here. I’m far from an expert myself, but through experimentation, I have learned that you don’t need to be in the top 1% of cooks in the world to whip up a quick, nutritious, and delicious meal.
When it comes to cooking, not only do you save money but you also completely control what goes onto your plate. This is both an empowering feeling and essential when it comes to body composition change. In the world of fat loss, nutrition accounts for upwards of 70% of the workload when it comes to seeing results.
Focus on finding quick and simple recipes at first that could last you for a couple of meals. This sets the bar low early and allows you to get acclimated to the #CookingLife. Need some recipe ideas? I love Kevin Curry from Fit Men Cook. e’s always dropping some delicious food inspiration and you can get a ton of his recipes packed into one place with his book “Fit Men Cook: 100+ Meal Prep Recipes for Men and Women – Always #HealthyAF, Never Boring”. Pick up a copy here.
You manage what you monitor.
The human mind has a funny way of erasing our undocumented moments or recalling situations in ways that tend to be more favorable to our image.
That Talenti ice cream that I crushed after dinner last night? Never wrote it down, so it never happened, bruh.
That game-winner I hit in pick up basketball last weekend? Good thing I was able to jump from half-court a la Space Jam and dunk the ball before time expired. Too bad no one was there to record it. I wish you guys could have seen it!
Do you see what I mean?
Go out and get a fitness journal. When you write down the food you eat, you will be able to identify patterns, concoct strategies, and track your progress over time. You will be able to observe your current nutritional profile and make the necessary adjustments to get you moving closer to your goals.
Journaling for your mental health is a great habit to get into. When laid out in front of you, it becomes much easier to identify areas of weakness or obstacles that have been holding you back that maybe you weren’t able to identify before. Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself to start identifying some patterns:
There are tons of electronic apps out that work wonders (Myfitnesspal, Lifesum), or you can whip out a composition notebook and just do it old school. It’s totally up to you. Do what you can stick with.
Maintain proper nutrition as an important, healthy habit. Protein is a pretty big deal. It has many benefits, but when it comes to fat loss, it is especially important. First off, protein consumption helps to reduce hunger by providing a sense of satiety. When it comes to muscle growth and repair, we draw from amino acids (which are the basic building blocks of proteins). More lean muscle on our frame leads to a higher metabolism. This turns our body into a fat-burning machine.
Sounds amazing right!? But you’re probably asking yourself: “How much protein should I be consuming?”
While the amount will vary based on your specific goals, lifestyle/activity level, etc., a safe place to start is .75–1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
Step your protein game up. Your future body thanks you!
Are you ready to take on these five habits? If so, then let’s get to work!