All you have to do is moderate your food a bit and do some 20 minute exercises a few times a week and you’ll look like a fitness model, right?
Well, that’s what the fitness and weight loss machine would have you believe. And it’s so tempting to believe it, because wouldn’t that be nice? And convenient?
For starters, fitness models don’t even look like fitness models. And you can read about why not here.
And while the approach to fitness and diet of ‘just watching what you eat’ and ‘keeping active’ may work for the genetically blessed who then sell that approach to everyone else – for most of us it just doesn’t work that way.
Maybe it worked that way for me when I was in my twenties. In my twenties all I had to do was vaguely look at a treadmill and I lost weight. Although in fairness, I often also subsisted on a regime of diet coke and cigarettes, so I was hardly a paragon of health. But man, I could lose kilos fast. As it turns out that was a function of my twenties and not my genetics. Pity. So now any kind of body transformation I want to do has to be a whole lot of hard work.
And truthfully, as I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten harder. I recently got to a point where I was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable in my clothes. So I made quite a few changes, quite a lot of sacrifices in the coffee and bread department and I’ve been making (slow) progress.
Not exactly the sexy fitness story that you are used to hearing. But the problem with that lie about how easy it is, and the fact that we all want to believe it – is that we get discouraged and we internalise our results or lack of results as a personal shortcoming rather than accepting that the whole thing is a manufactured lie. Even if it is a really seductive lie.
So I won’t be talking up any rapid/amazing changes where all I did was watch my portions and do some squats while the kids were playing outside.
Only three entire years between these photos.
What I have learned along the way (that is helping me along my progress now is):
Calories aren’t equal. Quality matters. I can’t just stay under a certain level I need to make sure that I’m eating nutrient dense food. Which means lots of vegetables, lots of fruits, lots of protein and minimising food without identifiable nutritional value. Except for Friday. Friday is my cheat day and I eat dumplings and raspberry balsamic white chocolate on Friday.
If I expect to make progress, I have to lift weights. Whether I go low weight, high repetition or high weight, low repetition it doesn’t matter as long as I am lifting to the point of muscle fatigue.
Sleep matters. A recent study found that for people on a training program where they had two groups (one getting decent sleep, and the other getting around 5 hours sleep a night), the well rested people had a result of about 2kg of fat loss, where the sleep deprived people had a result of about 1.2kg of muscle loss, and 0.8kg of fat loss.
There’s no point reaching a goal, if I’m miserable on the way. Yes, I want to feel comfortable in my clothes and I dont’ want to feel sluggish on my runs or in the gym, but I have to be able to make choices were I can enjoy my life too. So my progress is slower than it might be, but it’s more sustainable. And I’m less likely to lose my mind and go on bingefest 2017.
But you know, when you step away from the pretty lies? The real story can be pretty awesome too.