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You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Whether it's for a contest, a sport, or a love interest, many people attempt to build and maintain a lean physique throughout their lives However, with rigorous schedules, myriad extracurricular activities, and the resulting stress and fatigue, many people find it almost impossible to adhere to a diet and exercise regimen that keeps body fat low.
With lines like "I just don't have the time to exercise and eat right" or "I've got other things to do," many people spiral into an unhealthy cycle that can quickly add unwanted pounds and body fat. Following are some tips, covering everything from training to nutrition to lifestyle. There are no excuses, as most are given the physique they deserve due to the choices they make each and every day.
One common mistake many busy individuals make is telling themselves that they will train "when there's free time today." For those who are lucky enough to have light schedules with a few obligations sprinkled here and there, this may be an acceptable strategy. However, for most people"free time" doesn't really exist. It’s an illusion. Everyone has their 24 hours of the day filled with things to do. Sleeping, eating, scrolling social media, working etc. One has to consciously swap bad habits for good ones. So, one either needs to get up earlier and train first thing in the morning or remove a not so healthy habit. Stop scrolling and hit the rower.
There is always work to be done, meetings to attend, or errands to run. Therefore, one must designate a specific time each day when training can be the number one priority... and stick to this commitment. This is why first thing in the morning on a fasted stomach is the best bet for most people. Not only is it a great way to energize oneself and start the day, but there is no excuse to skip training. Rise and grind.
Just Do It
After designating a specific time to train, many people still manage to play mind games with themselves and wiggle out of their exercise regimen. It has happened to the best of us; we know that we have the next hour or so dedicated to training, but we "just don't feel like it." This is a weak mindset and should not be ones default setting. Rather, ones default setting should be “I feel like training and if I don’t I will feel miserable”. It’s all about mindset.
We can't pinpoint the cause of this feeling, but it just hovers around. In order to overcome this, stop thinking all together and just do it. Just get dressed, grab a bottle of water, and make go to the gym. Once at the gym, there is really no other choice but to train. Train hard and then go about the day. It’s simple.
Make Workouts Efficient
The number one reason why people do not train as often as they would like is lack of time. Those same people would be surprised to learn that a solid workout can take as little as thirty minutes.
In order to cut a thorough workout down to thirty minutes, however, training must be efficient. This starts with eliminating those 5-minute chats, social media scrolls, or procrastinating by finding a good playlist. Just train.
Once distractions are eliminated from training, concentration can then be shifted to minimizing rest between sets. By cutting rest time down to less than one minute and effectively utilizing supersets and compound exercises, one can usually keep the training sessions to about thirty minutes of hard work.
One can follow an easy template for exercise: active warmup, weight training, and cold down. An active warmup involves stretching the muscles in an active way, think about leg swings arm flapping high needs etc. Weight training will vary from day to day whether it be a bodybuilding split, lower/upper, or full body. And ones cool down should include static stretching.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking. ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Even if the training advice listed above is followed with maximum effort and focus, there will be no substantial gains in muscle or losses in body fat if sugary/processed foods and alcohol are consumed in excess. The first and easiest way to modify body composition is to eliminate soft drinks, high-fructose juice drinks, and general "junk food" from a diet. If one has to pause and think if something is healthy before consuming it, it probably isn’t. When in doubt grab a cup of black coffee or simple FAST.
Simply cut out the mid-afternoon trips to the vending machine and late-night pantry raids, and drastic changes will be seen within a few weeks, regardless of exercise. After this is accomplished, the more sensitive issues of parties, dinner meetings, and eating out need to be addressed.
This is because parties and dinner meetings are synonymous with consumption of wine and mixed drinks late at night, which is worst possible time for empty calories. Order one drink and then sip a sparkling water to round out the night. Self control needs to be maintained at all times.
If cutting body fat and getting lean are serious priorities, excess calories from parties , dinner meetings etc need to be restricted to ensure results are not encumbered by poor decision making.
Shedding body fat is simply a matter of burning more calories than one consumes (there is more to it, but this is a simple rule of thumb for most people), and the body burns calories not only during exercise, but throughout the day. An easy thing to do too increase metabolism and aid in digestion is to take a 10-15 minute walk after each meal. One can eat fairly often if one is choosing the rights foods to consume and staying active to counterbalance any excesses.
Once the diet has been "cleaned up" in terms of food quality and meal frequency, a finishing touch is to increase protein intake. As stated above, the body burns calories all throughout the day, not just during vigorous exercise.
In addition, a body with more lean muscle mass burns calories much more effectively while at rest. Therefore, by coupling increased protein intake with consistent training, the body will not only burn more calories while working, but also during inactivity. It is strongly advised that at least one gram of protein be consumed per pound of lean bodyweight, so if one weighs 150 lbs, eat a minimum of 150 grams of protein, with about 175-200 grams being ideal. Again, this is a simple rule of thumb that may need adjusting based on individual body composition and ability to digest protein.
"How do I get that much protein?" is often the next question. Beef, sardines, oysters, eggs, salmon, and protein supplements are solid foundational foods high in protein.
With the hectic schedules that most people have, planning ahead is essential to a healthy, lean physique. While the haphazard attitude of "I'll train when I'm free" or "I'm sure there's something healthy to eat around there" may work during the first few weeks when things aren't so hectic, failure to plan will inevitably ruin a diet and exercise regimen as work and obligations pile on.
Planning ahead involves every facet from training to nutrition to rest to recovery. One of the most effective ways to adhere to a diet and exercise regimen is to use a planner or agenda to document obligations. Every night before bed, take five or ten minutes to review the next day's schedule and assess when training can take place and when meals can be consumed.
Also, be sure to have backup days/times for training, as something always seems to come up at the last minute. As for dieting, planning ahead often involves preparing meals for a day the night before. A simple sandwich or salad only takes ten or fifteen minutes to prepare but will keep one from making poor food choices on the run.
Stop Wasting Time
It has been stated many times that the main obstacle and excuse for not eating well and training is lack of time. A simple solution is to stop wasting so much time. Keeping in mind that an effective workout can be completed in as little as thirty minutes, one can fit in up to two workouts per day if mindless, unproductive activity is minimized. This includes television, surfing the web, social media, messaging on the phone, and socializing/fooling around when you should be doing work.
While these unproductive activities cannot and should not be completely eliminated, they can be cut down through preparation. By allotting oneself a certain amount of time to sleep, train, relax, etc. and sticking to that schedule, you will find that there are more hours left in the day to focus. Small adjustments in lifestyle go a long way.
Rest And Listen To Your Body
Three things that will completely derail a diet and training regimen and destroy hard-earned gains are fatigue, injury, and "burnout" or loss of motivation. In order to prevent these three evils, adequate rest and relaxation are essential. Every individual is different and can handle different degrees of exercise and intensity, so there isn't a specific training split or recovery schedule that everyone should follow.
Instead, get enough rest so that ones muscles can effectively recover and so that getting out of bed every morning isn't a struggle. In addition, take days off (on top of planned recovery) when one is aching and on the brink of injury.
Finally, take an extra day off every few weeks just to remove oneself from the grind and regain mental focus. One day of total rest will not do any harm, but weeks or even months off due to fatigue, injury, or burnout will take one right back to square one.
With life in full swing, I hope this quick note helps one get on the road to a leaner, healthier body. But remember, it's easier said than done. Reading this piece is the easy part, but if one can tweak these tips to ones lifestyle and apply them consistently, one will notice many positive changes. After building a solid foundation of eating and exercise one can take on more challenges in life successfully. Health is wealth.