Welcome to the new year (I obviously hope it was a happy one). Also a big welcome to our new gym website/ blog. We painstakingly rebuilt this whole caboodle before Christmas and while we may not be challenging Facebook or Wikipedia for content I hope that this provides an insight in to what we do at Results FAST. In turn the other website I run www.ianmellis.com I am going to use for more technical articles on programme design/ personal training stuff. This site is more a reflection therefore of the questions I get asked daily (sometimes repeatedly) at the gym and also will include a lot more current affairs articles.
So this week (if you look at the papers and TV schedule) there is a proliferation of diets on display. Some old, some new…. what remains consistent is the deluge of diets happens every year at the same time. If I see the slogan “new year/new you” I generally consider that the PR/ marketing team finished work in November. Anyway what was wrong with the old you in November? Did Christmas and the change of the year create an immeasurable shift in your self that you need to consider reinventing yourself as an Elle McPherson/ Gerard Butler body model? “Old you” didn’t like green juices and quinoa and also January is too cold for salad but it’s not going to stop you.
With the rise of social media and the dropping of attention levels (apparently 4 lines of text or 4 seconds of video before you click something else online) to the information provided short term solutions get a lot of attention. One such thing I saw the other day was apple cider vinegar mixed with grapefruit and himalayan sea salt. You’d be lucky to survive the first mouthful…. It may remove stubborn body fat…. but only because you can’t face eating anything after that concoction. The celebrity expert dominates the media this time of year. Celebrities are not training experts. Indeed they may work hard but they definitely shouldn’t be your first source for fitness and training information. What has happened in effect is the removal of the expert. Experts are boring because they know stuff and say ambiguous statements like “it depends.” We want answers goddamit and if it means I can juice it then great. Even better put it in an Instagram post because I couldn’t possibly handle words- I mean reading is so 1985.
If you are still reading this (thank you!) you are probably at the point of saying what’s my point here. Well to cut through the misinformation out there and give you an operating system of how to diet (if you need to). It’s not really Instagrammable and it’ll take more than 140 characters so Twitter is out the window. As for Facebook unless they pay for advertising you may not even see a post from a page you like- instead you will see Kurt*from Florida and his instaflex* system which all can be yours for £9.99 (and 15 subsequent payments of £2000).
*Kurt and instaflex are both made up- just like the results they promise.
Yes- I am going to explain the celebrity personal trainer secrets that only supermodels and bodybuilders know.
This statements generally run true for losing weight in the New Year. Just consider these points in relation to what you may be trying to achieve. Christmas often encompasses over eating and weight gain leading people to feel anxious and desperate. These are ideal people to sell things too as they “need” a solution.
Most solutions that work in the “long term” have the following in common.
- You have to eat less than you need to lose weight.
- The “best” diet is the one you stick to.
- Whatever you do consistency and sustainability count.
- Your friends do it? It doesn’t matter it may not be right for you.
- Long term goals are not achieved with short term strategies (perhaps my favorite quote about nutrition and fitness (and possibly life)).
- Don’t just remove negative behaviours, add positive behaviours. This creates a sense of achievement rather than than just removing a habitual behaviour.
- There are no magic foods that are “super”, they will not make you lose weight.
- There is no magic structure to how you eat.
- There are no magic macronutrient (protein, carbs and fat) ratios that work for everyone.
So how do you set yourself up for success. Tips vary and not all will be relevant to you but consider the following:
- Understanding what’s in food can help you make better decisions.
- Rough portion control is as effective as measuring everything you eat.
- Plan your meals and create structure that you can adhere to.
- Build activity to become a habitual behaviour.
- If you need help consult a qualified professional.
At no point here have I mentioned superfoods, carbohydrate removal, low fat dieting, carbohydrate cycling or anything overtly technical. Why? If your goal is to lose weight you will need to eat less. As a general rule if you are overweight it probably isn’t because you have a week metabolism (it can be but it’s unlikely). The likelihood is that you have eaten more than you need to maintain your former weight.
While not being revolutionary the framework of what actually underpins success for a lot of the people who work with us. Often with diet the process works like this.
Person: I want to lose weight.
Trainer: Here have this list of foods to eat and eat only this.
Providing an eating list of meal plan does not set you up for success. It may provide help but it’s not the full picture. The process around habit development and long term success is fairly nuanced- there are a lot of different things going on from person to person which one diet system does not guarantee success on. Most of the shelf diets focus solely on the what you do rather than allowing you to develop your own framework. Why? This is the hardest part surrounding a diet as habit formation is hard. Especially when it involves change.
Where to start then? Well I always suggest think of one goal- not necessarily the overall goal of lose weight but one with more of a time driven emphasis e.g. lose weight by a holiday, lose weight so I can wear his dress/ pair of trousers. Once you have set this goal think about your current habits. What do you do regularly? What behaviours do you perceive as negative? What are you doing well? Where do you need help? From here find solutions- counter negative behaviours by adding a positive behaviour e.g. eat more green vegetables, regularly have a healthy breakfast etc. Add behaviours- don’t just punish yourself, this is what parents do to a naughty child and you are not a naughty child. You are an adult who knows better- create behaviours and structure that empower you, make the decisions around what you are going to do- after all these decisions are all positive as they result in an overall improvement in your health (which you may miss when it’s gone by the way).
Health changes by the way are a poor motivator for change when it comes to exercise and diet. Recently in a survey about undertaking a gym membership “changing room cleanliness” came a strong second “improve health” came seventh. What does this mean? People care about fluffy towels but not fluffy arteries? I’m not sure but getting switched on to health improvements will improve all aspects of your life. This is where I’ll rap this article up as it sort of brings things full circle. If your lifestyle is set up to improve your health rather than dieting to lose weight the overall message of positive behaviour change is stronger as you are looking to change things by doing things that are good for you. Diet has an implication of removal of the things you enjoy and has a negative undertone that you have been doing everything wrong. Perhaps make your new year goals around health improvements, tidy up your food intake by learning a bit more about food, up your activity level (I got a fitbit for Christmas and I enjoy playing around with it). Most of all pick some things to do, create structure and do your best to commit to them the best you can.