In general, the media portrays improvement as a total re-vamp process. Celebrity detox, extreme home make over, The Atkins Diet, cabbage soup diets – all suggest that a complete overhaul is needed if you’re to make a significant chance.
In fact, what they’re promoting is quick or short-term improvements. When it comes to improving your body composition and physique, we should not overlook the improvement of general wellbeing. Being completely restrictive with your diet is not a way to live, nor is it necessary.
Below is a list of simple additions that you can add to your life in order to make you a better person. They may not be the missing link, nor the entire solution, but done consistently they will warrant significant results and improvements.
DRINK A PINT OF WATER FIRST THING IN THE MORNING AND BEFORE EACH MEAL
Probably the easiest addition to your diet would be to drink a pint of water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Studies have found this to improve your metabolism by up to 30% for the following hour. If you can manage this before every meal then you will not only boost your metabolic rate but you’re also much less likely to eat as much. Often your body struggles to differentiate between being hungry and thirsty. Drink a large glass of water before eating and you’ll only eat what you need.
WALK AT LUNCH TIME
It can be easy to become inactive at work. Take your full lunch hour and improve your vitamin D intake, lead a more active life and boost your metabolism before eating your lunch. A simple 45 minutes of fasted, steady-state cardio can make a real difference to your body composition, mood, productivity and general wellbeing.
If you’re on a mission to reduce body fat then skipping meals is not (always) the answer. However, if you know your rough food intake of food that you’ve scheduled for the day but you find that you’re hungry ahead of schedule then chewing gum can really help. Often you may fool your hunger by satisfying your need for chewing. A simple trick that you can use, not for skipping meals, but simply for ignoring your hunger when it shows up a little early in your day.
JOIN A GROUP
Group exercise, sports teams, running clubs, group personal training and anything else where others rely on your attendance is a great way to build a strong exercise habit. If you tend to be inconsistent with making exercise plans then this can be a great way of committing yourself to a healthier, more active week.
COOK WITH COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil has been found to be a very simple and easy addition to your diet which can help to both lower your cholesterol and reduce your body fat; there’s even some evidence that coconut oil can help with maintaining energy levels and cognitive function. Why not replace your standard cooking oil with coconut oil?
SCRAP JUICES AND FIZZY DRINKS
If you’re looking to cut calories and more importantly, cut sugars, an easy place to start is your drinks. Most fizzy drinks will contain a large dosage of sugar, perfect for encouraging spikes in insulin and encouraging fat retention. Even the “diet” drinks have been found to increase your desire for sugary food and drink after drinking them. Easiest rule of thumb? Avoid them all whenever possible (which is most of the time). After understanding the benefits of increased water intake you’d be hard pushed to warrant fizzy drinks on a regular basis. If you “need” flavour, drop some fresh fruit like slices of lemon or lime into your water – surprisingly tasty and refreshing.
EAT PROTEIN AT EVERY MEAL
Proteins are a great source of energy. Protein will not only offer you sustained energy and avoid energy crashes, but it will also keep you feeling fuller for longer. Protein also helps to build and maintain lean muscle which is key in optimising your metabolic rate. If you eat protein as part of your breakfast then you’re much more likely to crave protein based foods throughout the day. Start the day off right – salmon and eggs is a personal favourite. Aim for at least 1g of protein for every Kg of bodyweight each day.
MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
What happens if you veer off the healthy path? Not much? Why not make yourself accountable? Do something simple: sign up for personal training, join a group, tell your friends and family what you’re doing, make a bet with friends, set goals with your gym buddies. Whatever you do, don’t strive for improvement alone.
BUY A KETTLEBELL AND LEARN HOW TO USE IT CORRECTLY
Equipping a home gym can be an expensive and laborious task; not to mention you’ll need a space large enough to house all of your fancy gym equipment. Kettlebells however aren’t space consuming and, although they’re not cheap, they won’t break the bank; especially when you consider that they will last you a lifetime. These can be used for pretty much any exercise that you can perform with a dumbbell as well as an abundance of kettlebell exercises – ideal for improving body composition through a mixture of resistance work and cardio vascular conditioning. NB: Seek guidance from day 1 and learn how to use them properly – don’t “just figure it out” or try to teach yourself via Youtube. Poor technique and potential injuries will inevitably appear.
STICK WITH IT
The reason that many people don’t get the results they hoped for is because whatever they started, they never finish. Whatever you choose to do, do it regularly and do it relentlessly. Consistency and persistency need to be added to any worthwhile training structure if you want results. Ignore quick fixes and the likes of “6 week plans” – don’t be lazy, don’t try to cut corners and don’t leave it until the last minute. Start now and KEEP GOING! Don’t stop because it’s hard, don’t stop because it’s slow, stop because you’re done.
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