How to measure success is often somewhat subjective. Without trying to get too philosophical here, for me, success is about achieving your goals without needing to sacrifice those things which are most important to you.
Over the years I have managed to stay healthy and keep my physique at its best. I assume this to be true as I am consistently asked my friends and family how it is done. Honestly, if I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me what is the secret, I would be a rich man. The answer I always give should come as no surprise – “Diet and Exercise” – obvious really, yet people still ask! It is a case of simple physics – if you expend more energy than you consume you will lose weight; vice-versa and you will get fat.
Losing and keeping off those excess pounds is for most a lifetime goal. Yet to do this effectively requires not just exercise or dieting alone but together in equal measure.
For long term benefits this must be a lifestyle change not a seasonal thing. For most people, the biggest hurdle is consistency – whether it be motivation or time management – both of which can be overcome if you have a realistic approach to your new lifestyle.
Here are some ideas I have found to work for me:
Optimising your workouts
- Your energy and concentration levels are generally higher during the earliest part of the day
- You are not exercising on a full stomach, which can be off-putting and otherwise may cause discomfort
- Daily commitments have less opportunity to persuade you to re-prioritize
Once you are at the gym, try each time to give it the same respect you would give any other important daily event; such as a work meeting. By this I mean: take it seriously, focus on the task at hand and don’t be tempted to daydream or start chatting with a friend or training partner. Thus, by managing your workouts to be a higher intensity with shorter rest periods you will ultimately get better results, and thus they will have less impact on your valuable time.
Much resent research has shown that short high-intensity exercise is significantly more effective at fat-burning than traditional steady cardio exercise due to the ‘after-burn effect’ – a state where the metabolism remains elevated for many hours afterwards. For more details on high-intensity training (such as HIIT) please see later articles.
Personally, I am not a fan of low-calorie diets as they can often be counterproductive – see article ‘Where Cheating Does Prosper’. Instead I prefer to use ‘Smart Eating’.
Smart Eating is a term I give to a sensible, long-term maintainable diet which can be followed without too much hassle and without feeling hungry all the time.
When it comes to dieting, the biggest obstacles for most people are the psychological aspect and the stabilising of blood sugar levels; there is however a strong link between each of these. A large contributor to weight gain, fatigue and mood swings is ‘sugar addiction’. Here in the western world we have become conditioned to a refined-carbohydrate diet; whether it be the high-sugar snacks, high starch cereals at breakfast, or simply the humble sandwich at lunchtime all conspire to keep us hooked on sugar. Indeed, in many low-fat ‘diet’ alternative foods, they often increase the sugar content (in some form) to improve flavour; which ironically is more detrimental.
Smart eating is primarily about stabilising your blood sugar levels and breaking the sugar addiction through eating protein and complex carbohydrate diets; two very good sources of energy. By following a low sugar, low starch diet such as GI (Glycaemic Index) or GL (Glycaemic Load) respectively, you can stabilise your insulin levels. This will give you more energy and thus you tend to feel more inclined to exercise.
Basically, if you want to get healthier, feel more energetic and generally look better, you need a lifestyle change not a fad diet. To do this, you must be realistic about what you can do on a day-to-day basis and stick to it.