We are bombarded daily in this information age with new diets, new exercise routines and new ways to tackle excess body fat. But as the saying goes:
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
What creates the biggest bang for the buck has and always will be foundational principles. These foundational principles get 90% of the job done. So what I am going to discuss in todays’ blog are the key foundational principles that you need to apply to get to a healthy level of leanness. These foundational principles supersede the minutiae bullshit that we are pedalled daily like glycaemic index, alkaline foods and not eating anything that casts a shadow……
1: Eat right
One is not going to arrive at a desired level of leanness without appropriate attention to nutrition. Many people confuse healthy eating with getting lean. In all of my years interviewing overweight clients over 90% of them claim that they eat healthy. The notion of “Healthy eating” is total bullshit on so many levels. How many versions of “Healthy Eating” are there in the world at large? Every nutritional guru out there believes that their version of eating is healthy.
The “fact” that something is healthy is nothing but a judgement and a belief.
On the other hand there will be an eating style for you that either moves you towards your goals or moves you away from them. Certain principles like hitting a daily protein target apply to all persons if fat loss is a goal. Whether you get your energy requirements mostly from fats or carbs or a combination thereof is dependent on how lean or fat you currently are, what type of training you are doing, how well you are sleeping and any medical condition you may be suffering from. You also need to look at the quantity you are eating. Most people underestimate how much they are eating.
Some people do better on high fat diets, others on lower fat and others still on a more balanced approach of fats and carbs. This is unique to each individual. How do you know what’s right for you? If you work with a good coach they will usually give you a starting point and train you in the art of biofeedback. Looking at things like your energy, mood, training capacity, sleep quality and results in the changes in your physique let you ( and your coach) know if you are moving in the right direction. The nutrition program that got you started may be the very one that stalls your progress down the line.
2. Train right
They say success leaves clues so if we wish to find a training modality that optimises leanness and maintains or ideally increases muscle mass we need to turn to the people who have had best success in this arena. The people who are the experts at this are bodybuilders and physique athletes. They get leaner than everybody else and demonstrate high levels of muscularity. All of these guys and gals lift weights. Increasing your lean body mass by increasing muscle mass improves your metabolic rate so you burn more calories even at rest. The only lasting fat loss comes with an increase in metabolic rate. Now there is a caveat here. In order to build muscle and for your resistance training to illicit the desired effect, you need to hit a minimum threshold of intensity. This minimum training intensity is about 60-70% , with beginners making gains at 60% intensity and more seasoned trainees needing to hit at least 70% intensity. The 60-70% I am speaking of here relates to your 1 rep max. So if we were looking at your bench press and the most you could lift was 40kg for one rep then you need to lift at least 60% of this ( that’s 24kg) for say 8-12 reps in order to get a training effect.
I was looking at a video of a “resistance” training protocol for a national physique transformation contest last week just for fun as one of my friends has entered it. The coach in this case had candidates perform exercises with 2 x 500ml water bottles. Each water bottle weighs about 0.5kg ! I am not kidding!
(View it here)
All of the exercises, including a bastardised version of a Romanian deadlift were performed with this weight. This is what I would call a “farting against a hurricane” level of resistance. It will not come even remotely close to 60% of a 1 RM for 99.9% of the candidates in this contest. Maybe it would work for a little baby field mouse at his first training camp!
3. Sleep Right
It’s now a well documented fact that the quality and quantity of your sleep has vast implications for your body composition goals. Many studies have shown that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep per night or have disrupted sleep patterns are almost invariably obese or diabetic. You see sleep is the master reset and a lot of hormone balancing and detoxification processes occur during sleep. Even our sleep quality affects psychogenic repair so it affects our mental and emotional wellness. So if you wish to support your fat loss efforts quality sleep at the appropriate quantity ( for most its about 7-8 hours) consistently creates a bed rock of health which supports all your fat loss efforts.
4. Stress Management
The number 1 reason that drives obesity in the western world in my experience is STRESS. Now that stress comes through a wide range of sources from mental worry , to toxicity to relationship issues. I talked in detail about this topic in my blog What is Stress?
Anybody wishing to embark on a fat loss plan needs to have a stress reduction program in place because the thing that got you fat in the first place was mis-management of stress. For an array of stress reduction tools see Cracking the Mind/Body Code (now also available in paperback).
5. Think Right
Your thoughts have two possible outcomes , they either lead you down a fear based path that locks you up and prevents you from creating the changes you say you desire in your life, or those thoughts can be expansive and empowering propelling you forward on the path that leads to your desired outcome. You are not your thoughts. Most of the thoughts you perceive ar’nt even yours! You see we all live in a holographic universe. Everybody is tapped into a unified field of consciousness. Physicists call this the quantum field. Just because we are all plugged into the Matrix does not mean that we have to be the effect of it. Our trump card is always CHOICE. You can watch those thoughts like a silent witness choosing only to act on the ones that lighten up your universe.
6. Develop Emotional Intelligence
Just like we can choose not to be a victim of the millions of thoughts that enter our field of awareness on a daily basis we can also choose not to be a victim of the sensory awareness we receive through our feelings. Emotions and feelings are just energy and they cant kill you, however trying to avoid them, numb them out or supress them can create havoc in your life. Many people end up with chronic addictions as a result. That could be an addiction to the gym, an addiction to being in control or an addiction to drugs, alcohol, shopping or perfectionism to mention but a few. Feelings like thoughts can be observed as the silent witness. Just observe them. Don’t try to make them right or wrong , good or bad. You then become like a rock in the middle of the stream, the water (emotions) just flows around you. You are no longer a victim of your feelings.
“Feelings are like children. Its probably not a good idea to let them drive the car, its also not a good idea to lock them in the trunk! “
From the movie: Thanks for sharing
7: Develop a System of Accountability
Developing a system of accountability is probably one of the hallmarks of people who stay lean for life. It could be as simple as reassessing your behaviours and recommitting to your training and nutrition when those skinny jeans start to feel tight or working with a trusted coach who measures your body composition regularly.
Having an outsider like a coach keep tabs on your progress can really up the stakes and help you be more honest with yourself. Make sure your way of measuring progress is objective. The weighing scales can be pretty useless in this regard at it tells you nothing about your body composition.
Useful things to keep tabs on are:
1: Body composition
2: Increases in strength and work capacity.
3. Frequency of training.
4: Nutritional markers like a protein goal or how many servings of vegetables you eat daily.
5: How many stress reduction sessions you did each weak.
6: How often you did your stretching.
These are just a few examples, however if you focus on consistently applying desired behaviours in many cases your goals will be an inevitable outcome rather than something you are struggling to achieve.
For more information on training and nutrition programs click here.