Just about everyone wants to get in shape, which is why a huge number of all the New Year’s resolutions that get made annually involve things like starting a regular workout regimen, going to the gym a set number of days a week, and so on.
One of the issues, however, is that it’s possible to “get in shape” without necessarily “staying in shape.” Crash dieting and intense bursts of exercise for a couple of months at a time can have a significant impact, but all those results will tend to reverse if you’re not consistent over time.
This, for example, is one reason why there’s a market for non surgical fat removal and other interventions to help people who are at their wits end due to things like constant cycles of yo-yo dieting.
Here are a handful of tips for getting in shape sustainably, instead.
Start by transforming your approach to how you cook and eat
There’s a very common and accurate saying in the health and fitness world, which goes: “it’s impossible to out-train a bad diet,” or “it’s impossible to out-run a bad diet.”
The simple truth is that, when it comes to your weight in particular, everything is really down to your diet and nutrition first and foremost.
It is simply a fact that you can eat a huge amount of food in a day, but even the most intense, gruelling, and never-ending workout can only burn a limited number of calories.
But crash dieting isn’t the answer either. If you’re feeling starving all the time, and are limiting yourself to only snacking on celery, you may be able to stick with it for a week or two, and you’ll likely lose a good amount of weight. But try to stick with out of the long-term and you will inevitably wreck your health and end up binge eating with a vengeance.
You need to transform your approach to cooking and eating food, in a way that’s sustainable.
Michael Pollan’s timeless advice of “eat (real, non-processed) food, not too much, mostly plants,” is probably a great place to start. Focusing on foods that are high in fibre and nutrients and lower in calories, is also likely to be a good approach.
Take up physically active pastimes that you enjoy for their own sake
Exercise is best, and is most sustainable, when it’s obtained via physically active pastimes that you enjoy for their own sake.
Instead of thinking about “working out,” maybe you should think instead about the kinds of physically active hobbies you might enjoy.
Whether that’s rucking, martial arts, or Badminton, focus on the activity itself and let the “workout” be incidental.
Emphasize the health of your gut microbiome, and get enough sleep
There’s plenty of research indicating that the health and number of the beneficial microbes in your gut has a lot to do with everything ranging from your health and immune function, to how easy you find it to maintain a healthy weight.
The same is true for sleep. People who get plenty of high quality sleep regularly maintain healthier weights than those who don’t, while also being less impulsive with their eating during the day.
Eat probiotic foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir, and prebiotic foods high in gut-healthy fiber, like lentils and beans.
And get your much-needed sleep, too.