I was reviewing the past year and the progress of my clients, both long term and short term. I can see three things affecting their success. Those who work on all three are doing the best. Those with two of the three are split: some progressing, some at a stand still. Those hitting just one area are struggling. Here are the areas to consider as you enter this new year, resolve to improve your fitness, and prepare for summer beach wear.
- If you’re fat and want to lose it, you have to change your lifestyle.
- If you’re weak and want to be strong, you have to change your lifestyle.
- If you’re tired and want to have energy, you have to change your lifestyle.
- The choices are yours. The consequences are yours.
You must sleep well
The first effect of partial sleep loss is an increase in the early evening levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevations of evening cortisol levels in chronic sleep loss are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, which makes us store more fat in our cells and is a risk factor for obesity and diabetes.
Also, ghrelin and leptin regulate our hunger and their production gets disrupted without sleep, leading to leptin resistance—meaning, we don’t get the message that we’re full because our cells learn to ignore the presence of the hormone (like with insulin resistance). Not getting enough sleep reduces fat cells’ ability to respond properly to the hormone insulin, which is crucial for regulating energy storage and use. And it’s a cycle. Insulin promotes the release of leptin, so if your fat cells are less insulin-sensitive, you will make less leptin. There are other hormones now coming to light involved in appetite regulation that sleep deprivation may affect and they promote hedonic eating.
You must eat enough nutrient-rich foods
Calorie restriction loses muscle mass (not your fat mass), causes sleep deprivation, and decreases your desire and ability to be active. Fat is easy to lose but muscle is hard to gain. You must increase your work (exercise) capacity. The better your work capacity, the better your fitness and the more lean you will be.
Those promoting weight loss often state that eating 3,500 fewer calories or burning them off exercising will result in a pound of weight loss. No. A growing body of evidence shows that the body’s metabolism can change when you lose weight and alter your exercise habits.
Cutting calories rarely works because that leads to fighting hunger. If you have to feel hungry to stay lean, you’re going to fail. The only way to lose and maintain weight loss is to eat enough that you’re full without eating foods that fatten. SIMPLE. Cut out sugar and as much grain as possible. Eat fat in the form of natural fats (meat, and vegetable fats not added oils). Sugar and grain are EMPTY and FATTENING calories and NEVER fill you up. Eat plenty of protein (preferably meat and fish and eggs) and lots of vegetables. Eat as much of these as you want. Watch out for hidden grains and fats in the form of added seed oils (corn, vegetable, soybean, safflower, canola, etc.) and sugar (corn syrup, sugar, honey, agave, etc) through breading, frying, and sauces. Natural oils and sugars (in meats and produce, for example) are fine.
You must lift heavy things frequently
Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which both increases your metabolism and decreases fat.
Acute and chronic research shows that HIGH VOLUME (higher weight and sets/reps) resistance programs gain the greatest hormonal responses. Resistance exercise has been shown to dramatically affect hormonal responses in the body after training. These responses play a huge role not only in immediate tissue remodeling and growth, but as well as to long term strength. Resistance exercise protocols that stress large muscle mass (multi-joint exercises), are high in volume, and moderate to high intensity, give you the greatest hormonal elevations for optimal muscular fitness benefits because they function as both strength and cardio exercise. Weekly hours of cardio are unnecessary and even INHIBITS muscle gain and leads to weight gain or “skinny fat”.
Independent of weight loss (if, say, you’re working out regularly but not seeing the pounds drop), exercise lowers risk of diabetes and heart disease because it directly affects visceral fat Strength training will help you lose visceral fat and reshape your body even if you never lose a pound.