It never ceases to amaze me how much thought, effort and sometimes expense people will put into aspects of trying to get fit or lose weight which only make tiny degrees of difference. Exercising in the freezing cold to burn off a few extra calories, incinerating their taste buds with heaps of extra spice because they’ve read it speeds up the metabolism slightly, meticulously timing their meals hoping to enhance their muscle gains, all the various diet pills and supplements, the list is epic.
It wouldn’t be half as bad if they weren’t simultaneously neglecting factors which would make a far, far greater difference to their fat loss results and/or fitness gains.
I always have and always will take an evidence-based approach to fitness and fat loss, but recently the word ‘Science’ has become one of the industry’s key marketing terms, with products and plans based on the most spurious of evidence promoted as being “backed by science”. Unfortunately, a lot of consumers – and magazine editors – are lapping them up.
The reality is, although some “body hacks” might possibly make a difference of a percentage or two in helping you get fit or lose weight, seriously, you shouldn’t be spending a second worrying about any of that until you’ve got the basics nailed.Seriously, you shouldn’t be spending a second on so-called body hacks until you’ve got the basics nailed. Click To Tweet
Basics like a good solid exercise regime, which gets you moving regularly in a way that will trigger the changes you want in your body, a diet where you eat mostly unprocessed foods and adequate nutrition, and getting enough sleep.
These things are not as tantilisng as the latest “lab developed innovation”, I know, and lets face it, it takes more effort than following the latest plan, but it’s what works.
Of course when you see a promo for a magic-effort-free fast-results formula, it’s tempting, but if you really want to see some changes in the condition, shape or size of your body, you’ve got to get on with making some self-care basics part of your life.If you really want to see changes in the condition, shape or size of your body, you’ve got to get on with making some self-care basics part of your life. Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, the basics I’m talking about don’t make sexy click-bait for journalists to write about, social media influencers don’t get paid or win followers by promoting them, and brands can’t charge for them. So hardly anyone talks about them – but I’ve got you.
As ever, I’m not going to patronise you with unnecessary scientific jargon to try to convince you how smart I am, I don’t need that and you don’t need that.
This stuff doesn’t need to pretend to be new-from-the-lab, it just plain makes sense and you already know it. But, just to remind you…
When you’re keen to get fit or get fitter sometimes it’s easier to keep smashing out intense workouts than it is take rest.
But for optimal results, it’s not always about training more or harder, it’s about training smart. Your body needs downtime to adapt to the challenges you’re placing on it – this is when those changes happen.
If you just keep pushing and pushing without building enough recovery time into your schedule your muscles won’t grow as well, body fat won’t shift as quickly and you’re hugely increasing your risk of getting an illness and injury which could take you out of training altogether.
As for how much rest to take, everyone’s different and some people find they do better with more rest days than others, plus of course it’ll depend how much and how intensely you’re exercising. But I always recommend a minimum of one day per week resting from training and if you find you’re getting overly tired add more.
Regular massage, including self-massage with tools like foam rollers can help with the recovery process and get you moving better. So if you get really fidgety on rest days, get busy with that.
Something else you really need to recover enough to be on your A-game is Zzz’s.
Is sleep really that important for fat loss or helping me get fit? Yes.
Like really, really important. It’s giant.
On the physical side, many of the body’s essential recovery and rebuild processes happen while we’re in a deep sleep. Hormones are released which maximise muscle growth and put the body in a state where it’s more likely to release fat stores. Plus it makes us less vulnerable to illness and promotes general good health.
On the psychological side, getting the right amount of sleep is massively beneficial to mental health, it helps us think clearly and leaves us far more motivated to exercise and make healthy choices compared to when we’re sleep-deprived. I’m stating the obvious here, but we just plain happier when we have enough sleep.
It’s a plain fact that we all know, yet people still don’t take getting enough sleep seriously.I simply cannot overstate how important sleep is for your health and well-being. Click To Tweet
If you’re missing sleep because you’re staying up late watching TV, or you’re struggling to drop off at night after drinking caffeine in the afternoon, or sacrificing sleep for social media time – well, that’s up to you, but don’t be surprised when you feel like crap and “stubborn fat” won’t shift.
Also, if there’s one item of furniture that’s worst investing in it’s your bed, especially your mattress. Think of it as an investment in your wellness and wellbeing.
It’s much easier to get a good night’s sleep when you have the right mattress, plus it can help promote good posture and reduce aches and pains. Take a look at the Tempur website, which has handy tools to help you find the perfect mattress for you.
Don’t go thinking stress and anxiety only affect your mental state. When we’re stressed our bodies release the hormone cortisol which, if we get too much of it our system, can seriously inhibit our fitness gains and fat loss progress.
This is one of the reason my latest coached programme, Unity features meditation and mindfulness.
Staying hydrated is so important that I wrote a whole a post on it a while ago. Drinking enough water keeps you generally healthy, keeps your energy levels up, helps regulate your appetite, promotes healthy glowing skin, aids flexibility, helps weight loss, reduces inflammation and water retention, improves muscle function and more!
The importance of a wholesome diet is something I’m always talking about, of course. But again, let’s just remember – healthy eating is not complicated. If you’re overcomplicating it in your mind or getting distracted by the latest diet fads and theories simply bring yourself back to this:
If you eat a diet consisting mainly of a good variety whole foods – fresh veggies, fruits and proteins like fish, meat and eggs – cooked simply, in as close to their natural state as possible, do you really think you’re going to be very far off course?
If that’s not what your diet looks like, you need to get that in check way before you start worrying about nutrient timing, supplements, or other distractions.
If you’re craving your “latest science” fix I’ll indulge you – a recent study found a strong link between lack of sunlight and obesity and scientists are even speculating that sunlight may shrink fat cells https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180110113007.htm
I’d take that with a pinch of salt for now, there’s not enough evidence to prove it yet, but it’s interesting.
However, we don’t really need any new reasons to get out in natural light. Sunlight is already proven to help us feel energised, aid sleep, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and we need it for synthesis of vitamin D which is essential for healthy muscles and bones.
Of course, it’s vital that you don’t expose yourself to damaging levels of UV rays, so do be sun smart, but the fact is that many of us with modern western lifestyles are more at risk of the effects of getting insufficient sunlight.Natural light is free, literally on your doorstep, and will do much more for your health than adding some rip-off magic berries to your morning muesli. 😉 Click To Tweet
Now read about how fat loss actually happens
Ad disclosure: This post has sponsored link to Tempur