One of my family’s favorite things to do at the end of each summer is to look back over pictures from our summer vacation. A few years ago, my family was looking through some images from our vacation at the beach. The images of me actually surprised me. When I was young, I never struggled with my fitness. But somehow unexpectedly my “dad bod” had reached epic proportions. As I processed what I saw, I came face to face with the reality that I was fat, inflexible, and often felt sluggish.
Many of us feel this. But, the thought of adding exercise to our already crammed schedules seems impossible and overwhelming. I felt that way too. But I wanted to be at my best for God, my family, and my calling. So I committed to fix what busyness, nearly 15 years of sedintarity, and a lifetime of horrible eating habits had caused. It took time and a lot of trial and error. It worked. I lost 30 lbs and felt better than I had in years. What I discovered along the way was, getting in shape doesn’t require me to eat like a bird and exercise for hours on end. I learned that these 4 things can help normal people like me and you move the dial when it comes to our physical fitness:
1) Hit the Weights
Resistance training is a great way to not only build muscle, but also burn fat. Training to build muscle actually burns more fat than training to burn fat alone. There’s science to prove it. But that’s for another article on another day. By doing proper within-reason resistance training, over time, you can turn your body into a fat-burning machine. You don’t have to train like a professional athlete to reach your goals. 30 minutes of resistance training 2-3 times per week is sufficient. There are plenty of great plans out there. It just takes a quick google search. I started with P90X from BeachBody. Note: If you don’t want to pay the money for a gym membership or expensive equipment, pick yourself up a set of resistance bands like these.
2) HIIT The Cardio
Yes, I misspelled “hit” on purpose. You’ll see why soon enough.
I hate cardio. I get bored with it. The thought of running on a treadmill for 45 minutes is disgusting to me. As it turns out, it wasn’t even the most effective form of cardio for reaching my goals. Shorter periods of HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) are more effective at burning fat and increasing heart rate and metabolism throughout the day. It definitely worked for me. HIIT training consists of bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest. It could be something like sprinting for 30 seconds followed by one minute of light jogging or brisk walking. You could do the same thing with an elliptical or exercise bike. Maybe even try playing a quick-twitch sport like basketball or racquetball. All you need is 20 minutes per day 1-2 times per week.
3) Get Your Nutrition on Point
It has been said, abs are made in the kitchen. It’s true. If you’re going to get in shape, it’s critical to eat clean. Each meal should consist of about a fist size of lean protein, a fist size of a slow digesting carbs, and a fist size of something green (and not mint chocolate chip ice cream).
When trying to lose weight, people often “diet” which means you starve yourself eating as little as possible. That’s miserable and actually is a deterrent to your goals. Not only does it leave you lacking the energy you need to exercise properly, it also shuts down your metabolism. Eat 5-6 times per day (3 meals and 2-3 snacks). Just eat the right things. Here’s a sample of what I eat almost every day:
Breakfast: 4 egg whites & 1 whole egg scrambled + 1 cup of oats with 10 grapes mixed in.
Morning Snack: Protein bar (These are my favorite.)
Lunch: 5oz chicken grilled + 3/4 cup brown rice + 1 cup steamed broccoli
Afternoon Snack: Protein shake (This is my favorite.) + 1 apple
Dinner: 4oz grilled sirloin + baked sweet potato + 1.5 cups salad greens (with light vinaigrette) or steamed veggies
One quick note here. I grew up in Alabama. I can’t resist the occasional fried chicken, biscuits & gravy, or peach cobbler. If I’m at a family gathering or a party with friends, I’ll enjoy those things. But, my rule of thumb is– 1 cheat meal every 3 days. Eating poorly more often than that causes me to take a step backward.
4) Be Patient
Your physical fitness is better made in a crockpot than a microwave. It will feel awkward. You’ll be sore. You’ll progress and then regress. You’ll fall off the wagon with your nutrition. You’ll get on the scale and see no change. Whatever you, Don’t. Give. Up! It takes time. My encouragement is to avoid getting on the scale every day. Weigh yourself when you first wake up once per week. After a couple of weeks of doing 1-3 above, your metabolism will get rolling, and you should lose 1-3 lbs per week. If you’re as out of shape as I was, it will take you a while to get where you want to be. Be patient. Don’t quit. And do your best!
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Have you transformed your fitness? I’d love to hear your story. How’d you do it? Comment below