If your goal is to be Lean & Fit you probably already know that this requires a commitment to both your workouts and your diet. Below I have listed 10 Techniques to improve your ability to achieve your fitness goals.
Each of these techniques are worthy of their own blog post, but I hope you find this summary helpful to helping you achieve your goals!
10 Tricks to Creating a Workout Program & Diet to Achieve Your Fitness Goals
1. Be Consistent: This is the number one factor that will help you achieve your goals. This applies to exercise and diet.
A large part of consistency is creating a sustainable program. You want to create a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain. How much time do you have to exercise, cook, meal prep? That varies from one person to the next. Figuring out what is right (and realistic!) for you is a huge part of achieving your goals.
Once you figure out how much time you have to workout and meal prep, create your workout schedule.
2. Create a Tracking System: Record your workouts and meals. You can write your workouts down on a calendar, or use photos to track your workouts and progress.
I prefer writing my workouts down on a desk calendar. It gives me a quick visual, and if I miss several days in a row, that’s a big motivator to get moving! Research has shown that tracking your fitness and meals improves your results. There are plenty of meal tracking apps: MyFitnessPal is a popular tool/ap that I have used.
Tracking your food can also improve your awareness of what you are eating, foods that trigger over-eating, and any food intolerances you might have.
3. Figure Out How Much You Should Be Eating: Calories are not your enemy. Calories are fuel. You don’t want to starve, but you don’t want to overeat either.
Think of it this way: You don’t drive a car around on empty and expect it to perform well. You also don’t fill up your gas tank and continue to pour gasoline all over your car and onto your seats. Both techniques are asking for trouble.
Under-eating and Over-eating will sabotage your results. So how the heck do you know how much to eat? Unfortunately, this varies by individual. I wish there was a quick and definite answer I could give you, but it requires some experimentation on your part.
For people who have been on a low-calorie diet for an extended period of time I recommend increasing your caloric intake. Basically, when you restrict your calories for an extended period of time your body responds by decreasing hormones related to weight loss (T3, Leptin and others). As a result, your metabolism slows down and you plateau. You want to slowly increase your calories back to a maintenance level (the amount of calories you can consume without gaining weight). This has to be completed slowly to determine what your personal level is. Try adding only 50-calories per day (about 1/2 an apple or Banana). Maintain this for a week. Each week you can either increase your daily intake by 50-additional calories or hold at your current level. As long as you aren’t gaining a significant amount of weight you can keep adding calories.
If you are Over-Eating (or maintaining, but want to lose weight) you want to start decreasing calories slowly, and figure out how much you can eat while losing weight. Remember, if you are creating a healthy lifestyle you want to figure out a caloric deficit that you can maintain throughout your weight loss. Extreme cuts in calories are not sustainable. As soon as you go back to eating normally you will re-gain weight. By slowly cutting your calories you can achieve weight loss, while maintaining satisfaction in your diet. It will also be easier to maintain your metabolism, and figure out your maintenance point when you have achieved your goal weight.
Whether you are dieting or want to maintain your weight, you want to be able to do that on the highest amount of calories your body can handle without gaining weight. This allows you to have fuel for energy, workouts, and maintaining your hormone levels & metabolism.
4. Workout 3-6X Per Week: Exercise at least 3X per week for 30-60 Minutes. You want to workout hard enough to sweat. The benefits of exercise extend beyond your weight, and influence your current and future health. If you want to be Lean & Fit you must combine a healthy diet and a consistent and challenging workout program.
Your workout program should incorporate Cardio and Strength Training. I prefer high intensity workouts so I can maximize my workout in a short period of time. If you like to follow a plan, but don’t know where to start pick one of the programs below:
When you are creating or following a workout program you want to ensure that you are creating muscular balance. How do you know if your program is doing that? The exercises that you are using should work your body and muscles in every direction. For example: to work your core you should exercise the front, sides and back. The same goes for legs and arms. You want to work the joint in each plane of movement. The different planes of motion recruit different muscles.
5. Hydrate: The human body is more than 60% water. Your Brain and Muscles are 75% water, blood 92%, and bones 22%. The human body has trouble differentiating between hunger and thirst. Staying hydrated is a simple way to reduce excess calorie consumption. Water improves your metabolism and feelings of satiety (fullness).
Water helps your blood transport oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This allows you to workout more efficiently. It will also lubricate your joints and decrease your risk of muscle cramping.
Caution: It is possible (and dangerous!) to over-hydrate. There are two ways to over-hydrate: Drinking so much water that your kidney’s can’t keep up, or if your body suffers from a condition where you retain water.
6. Incorporate High Intensity Exercises: High intensity interval training is a fantastic technique to utilize for maximizing fat burning, while maintaining lean muscle mass. There are many techniques you can use to incorporate High Intensity training into your workout program.
HIIT can be completed with running/sprinting intervals, cycling, or exercise programs. HIIT alternates low to moderate intensity intervals with high intensity intervals. This workout technique burns a lot of calories during the workout, and continues to burn calories for up to 24 hours post workout.
7. Use Weights: Weight training can help you achieve faster gains in strength and aesthetics. Muscle mass is much denser than fat. Building muscle is an automatic boost to your metabolism. One pound of muscle burns an extra 50 calories per day at rest. That means if you are able to add 10 lbs of muscle to your frame, your body burns an extra 500 calories per day at rest. That added muscle also has a higher calorie burn during every workout you do. Did you ever wonder why men have an easier time losing weight? Typically their higher percentage of muscle has a lot to do with this!
If you are a female, don’t worry that adding muscle to your body will make you bulky! It won’t! Getting bulky takes a lot of work and effort for a female. It’s not something that just happens. Muscle is what gives your body shape. Round butt, sculpted arms, and tighter midsections all get their shape from muscles.
8. Plan Your Meals: Planning sets you up for dietary success. It limits mindless snacking, and allows you to prep food ahead of time. When you have healthy options on hand and ready to go you are less likely to go outside of your diet plan.
The easier you make your diet to stick to the more successful you will be with it! Consider planning 1-2 days per week where you cook some food in bulk. Separate it into easy to grab containers, and store in the fridge for easy meals or meal additions.
Check out: Abs Are Made in the Kitchen: Meal Prep
9. Get Enough Sleep: Lack of sleep decreases your energy, motivation, and performance during workouts. Getting less than 6-hours of sleep per night is linked to increased weight gain. It is much more difficult to find motivation to get in a hard workout when your body is fatigued. Research has also shown that human beings have difficulty recognizing fatigue and sleep impairment, although fatigue impacts the body similarly to being over the legal alcohol limit for driving.
10. Know What You Are Eating: This one sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Have you ever looked at an ingredient list on some pre-packaged foods, and thought “What the heck is that?” When you create your meals at home you can ensure that you are getting a well balance diet with plenty of nutrients.
Incorporate vegetables, lean protein sources, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. When you plan a meal, aim for half of your plate to be vegetables. Even if your workouts are on track, if you aren’t pairing it with a healthy diet you aren’t maximizing your results. Check out: How to Eat Clean: 5 Tips for Success.
This doesn’t mean you can’t eat your favorite foods! Remember, the number 1 item on this list is consistency. To be consistent, you have to create a lifestyle that you can maintain. That means incorporating your favorites into your healthy lifestyle. Completely cutting out your favorite food can increase your chances of binging/over-eating.
Foods are not inherently Good or Evil. They have higher nutritional value, or lower nutritional value. Try to make 80-90% of your food choices have a higher nutritional value, and that gives you some wiggle room to incorporate other food items of choice.
If you have suggestions or techniques you have found successful post them in the comments section below.