Like stepping through a threshold into a House of Mirrors at a carnival, a weight loss program can be intimidating to anyone. With no real sense of direction and the constant presence of your reflection all around you it is no wonder why so many people avoid them at all costs.
At best - you come out the other side feeling accomplished and successful.
At worst – you go back the way you came; kicking and screaming the entire time.
Luckily, there are tricks to the trade in a mirrored house (look at the floor and find the direction that doesn’t have a “seam” where the mirror meets the floor) as well as in health and fitness. Below you’ll see three strategies that are tried and proven to help you make permanent progress in your weight loss!
Shrink the Eating Window
On the outside, this tip may sound a lot like intermittent fasting (IF). IF is the practice of intentionally fasting for fourteen to fifteen hours and getting all of your calories in during a roughly eight hour window. For many of fitness professionals and athletes this is a tremendous way to elicit radical results in a shorter time frame.
However, for most it is too complex of a plan, and often does more harm than good in the hands of someone who hasn’t established other basic rules of nutrition. Furthermore, some studies have shown that it is a bit less effective with the female population.
This is all beside the point, since what we are discussing here is not intermittent fasting.
Shrinking the eating window, rather, is the practice of limiting the amount of time that we feed ourselves throughout the day. This practice has been shown to decrease cortisol response in the body (our stress hormone) and increase our growth hormone production. Furthermore, it allows us to cue into our natural hunger and satiety signals that have gone to the wayside with the development of our psychological appetite.
In science shorthand – it does really good things to your body to not eat from the moment you rise to the moment you lay down for bed.
In practice, it would involve choosing whether or not you’d like to delay your first meal in the day, or eat an earlier dinner. It is often best to base this upon your sleep schedule and how closely it relates to the day-night cycle. If you are an early riser (5am or so) you can likely afford to wait until eight or so for your first calories of the day. If, however, you find yourself waking up later in the morning you may want to eat early and cut yourself off earlier to allow for adequate digestion prior to sleep.
Simply put, you will benefit by spending some time awake without the digestion of food taking place. It will allow your body ample time to digest and absorb previously eaten food and boost the body’s desire to utilize body fat stores as an energy source.
Start slow and only cut back an hour or so from your daily window until you can achieve a “fast” of three waking hours that stack with the time you’ve spent asleep.
Exercise When Possible – Move Everyday
One of the biggest factors in America’s expanding waistline is the rapid decrease in overall activity. Once a country founded on the backs of farmers, lumberjacks, hunters, and homebuilders – we now sit computers.
What is worse is that’ll we’ll park closest to the store, take an Uber instead of walking, and send an email to the person downstairs instead of just picking up and swinging through in person.
These habits lower our metabolic rate over time, weaken our posture, and make our bodies hurt. An aching body that doesn’t move well doesn’t tend to love rigorous exercise. Thus, once we do get going in our favorite fitness facility – we find ourselves stiff, tight, and fearful of injury. This limits our adventurous side and often leads to a stagnation in our results.
It all links together.
Having a gym membership is great. Using it three to four times a week is even better. One should be in the gym lifting weights, taking classes, doing yoga, and getting their sweat on as often as their body and schedule allows.
Yet, the three to four hours we spend in the gym per week pales in comparison to the other one hundred and sixty-plus that exist beyond. Moving whenever possible during these other hours will ensure that you keep your metabolic rate higher, burn more calories, and lead to an overall increase in physical fitness.
Don’t think about weight loss simply in terms of exercise. Think about moving. Wake up every day with the intention to move. Simple things such as household chores and gardening can burn additional calories that add up over time.
Most importantly, like Newton’s second law of motion states: an object in motion stays in motion. So too can you!
Like Grandma Said: Eat your Protein, Veggies and Fruits
Maybe everyone’s grandmother is different, but I sure know that both of mine wouldn’t let me get up without finishing off my plate at the table. Especially if that plate was full of the vegetables!
When building your diet, it is important to focus on consuming vegetables and proteins at every meal. It can even be wise to pick your vegetables first and choose the protein source that goes well with them. This is counter to the common practice of picking your protein and then the sides. By flipping this practice, it becomes much easier to ensure that you are getting the correct amount of vegetables in your diet.
Aiming for eight to ten servings of vegetables throughout the course of your day – spaced between three to four meals – can guarantee that you are taking in the required vitamins and minerals for success.
Then, selecting healthy proteins such as chicken, fish, lean beef, beans, quinoa, and lentils becomes priority. Eating enough protein throughout the day is critical for your body to function optimally. You need amino acids for everything from muscle repair to your vision, so it is critical to receive a diverse amount of proteins in your diet.
Lastly, there is fruit. Don’t be overwhelmed with the common thought that fruit is high in sugar. Truthfully, it is; however, this sugar is easily digestible and readily used as energy in the body. Furthermore, like vegetables, fruits provide valuable vitamins and minerals that you will not get from other sources of simple carbohydrates, which include bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes.
Building your diet around the same building blocks that your grandmother put you on is just as beneficial as she thought it was. Maximizing your nutrient intake will keep your body moving optimally, which will only help you exercise more often.
Eight to ten vegetables, four to six servings of protein, and two to three servings of fruit can be an absolute game changer. There won’t be much desire left for junk foods, wasted calories, and those cravings that keep you from your goals!
Weight loss doesn’t have to be scary. You can come out the other side of the mirrored house feeling like a champion. The key is to stay calm and follow the pathways that are there for you. By limiting how long you are eating and focusing on the basics in nutrition, you’ll find yourself feeling more energetic and powerful. This will help you exercise more and move constantly!
You are in control of your journey. Make it yours and be proud of the reflection staring back at you!
Kevin Mullins can be found at the Equinox Sports Club DC where he is a Tier 3+ coach and group exercise instructor of his own class - Superhuman. He is a two time Men's Health Next Top trainer Finalist, one of Women's Health Magazines 10 sexiest trainers in America, and has been featured by the Washington Post and WUSA9 in the local market. You can read more about him and his methods on his website - KevinMullinsFitness.com