Raise your hand if you grew up "chunky" or the "fat kid" in the group. Well that was me when I was growing up, specially during the worst time a kid can go through, middle school years. ugh. Those were the worst. On top of that, I had that chunky look...the one your mom thinks you are the cutest thing in the world. Which doesn't translate well in high school. (These are old pictures of me taken in Cuba)
It wasn't until later, that I learned a few things along the way and that included how I ate, how I exercised and how I would take this seriously to see real results. I decided to share my story but also how I did it. I am not saying this will work for everyone but it worked for me, and I am still learning.
The first picture was taken June 2012 the second one on August 2012
1. decide to change your lifestyle and mind
This is serious, and that pretty much means you need to understand: your body isn't going to change and stay the way you want it, unless you change your mindset and when you change your mindset your lifestyle will change. What I mean by this is, that to stay living a healthy life you have to make smart healthy choices about what you eat, how you exercise and everything else. Its the same way we tell patients when they want to quit smoking. You have to pick a date and say, I am going to start on this day! Once you have already done all your research and how you want to go about making this change (done your plan). Then pick your start date. Also know that from that date on, you cannot go back on your health choices, otherwise you won't see real change.
2. document everything you eat (at first)
I remember a trainer telling me this once, and I laughed and thought; I am never going to document everything I eat thats insane and time consuming. Well, if you want real change, you have to follow every step. I have Myfitness Pal, a FREE app that everybody needs to have. I always tell people to try this out for 2 weeks before the start date, no diet no changes, just document what you are eating right now.
My hidden little monster, eating away all my hard work at the gym was hidden sugars. I found this out because I documented what I was eating with this app. I had great macro distribution (the percentages of carbs, proteins and fats) but I had a ton of excess sugar that I just was oblivious about.
The minute I saw this and changed my daily sugar intake, my body transformed in 1 month. If you are consuming more than 30g of sugar a day, thats not going to help you see real results...mind you a regular soda is 36g in 1 can. Everything has sugar, even if you don't add it. For some reason, we think that if we don't eat sugar, then its ok. For example, a healthy fruit like a medium banana already has 14g of sugar, we have to be careful how much fruit we take in, and I mean fruits with unwanted sugars.
3. lifting smart
I know we always see these huge guys and sometimes girls in the gym and we think, wow! That's how you lift weights! Lift as heavy as I can, even if I struggle. Well, most of them already have been doing those exercises for years and their body is used to that amount of weight. You have to start slow and steady and with PROPER FORM!
This is something I used to do: lift as heavy as I can until my muscle pretty much dies. Well that's not going to change your body, at first. You have to start with light weight and lots of repetitions with proper form. If you do the exercises and teach your body to learn the movement you will put on healthy foundation to later tackle the heavy stuff. (More on this later)
4. cardiovascular fitness aka "cardio"
When it comes to cardio, this is something that everybody has to do. I used to think that because I was lifting, that was enough. But honestly if I wanted to see real results, I had to do some cardio. The main goal of cardiovascular fitness is to increase your heart rate to a level where you can burn fat without necessarily burning muscle mass. Also pick a form of cardio that you like, I had done swimming for 8 years so it was pretty easy for me to do that one.
We all have a certain range where we need to have our heart rate in order to burn fat and that mostly depends on your age. In order to calculate your "maximum heart rate" you should subtract your age from the number 220. So basically if you are 33 years old; you subtract 33, from 220 which is 187. This means, you should stay above this number during exercise. This type of exercise requires you to increase your intensity based on this number...meaning for moderate exercise intensity, you should be between 50 to 70% of this maximum heart rate and vigorous exercise intensity you should be between 70 to 85% of this maximum heart rate (Click here for a chart). Now before you go on to do any cardiovascular exercise please consult with your physician to make sure that you are physically capable of getting to this level of intensity.
Another thing that most people do and think (I was one of those), is that we have to be doing cardiovascular exercise for 45 minutes to an hour and this is incorrect. Sometimes all you need it's 30 minutes or even 20 minutes...its all about the intensity of the exercise that can get your heart rate up and stronger heart as well.
5. Make sure you rest well
Also, one very important thing to do (which I was also not doing), was sleeping well. Now, what does that really mean, it means that you have to get a full 7 to 8 hours of rest every night. The great thing about exercise is the minute you have a true regimen in place you will easily fall asleep and have a great night sleep. Your body has to rest, and so does your mind. I actually wrote about this in another post go check it out! I was only getting about 5 to 6 hours of sleep every night and I thought to myself...I am so great, look at me, I am so productive I spend most of my day work work work. In reality I wasn't being as efficient as I thought I was, it wasn't until I learn to get a good nights sleep and exercise daily that I truly became productive, and efficient which are actually two different things.