Three things need to happen to make a lifestyle change. You need to eat real stuff 80% of the time, don’t eat in excess, and do intentional activity almost every day.
The last one tends to scare people when I first tell them they need to do something almost active every day. Then I explain it and it doesn’t seem like such a feat.
The 3 key words in my statement are intentional, activity, and almost.
Intentional – I want you to mean to do this activity. Walking your dog around the block doesn’t count if you already do it. Walking your dog an extra loop now counts as your intentional activity. Elevator broken at work and forces you to use the stairs? Doesn’t count. Choosing to walk up the stairs does however.
Activity – this can be almost anything. I want you to do something that makes you move, burn some calories, and gets you closer to your goals. Activities can range from a CrossFit class to recreational soccer game to yoga. This activity doesn’t even have to be a class. It can be a short workout at home that only lasts 10 minutes. Or could even be a long walk around the neighborhood with your family. It doesn’t need to be a massive calorie burning ordeal. It just needs to be something.
Almost – what happens when your schedule just doesn’t allow for any kind of workout? Or you just really want to sleep in on a Sunday instead of getting up for a run? That’s okay! You’ve done something every other day of the week so you are good! Sometimes life gets in the way or our bodies just really need a rest. Take the day off because you are good, you’ve done plenty the last week already.
Don’t overthink this rule. Just do some sort of intentional activity everyday and you will be on the road to health, fitness, living longer, and living better.
I am a huge advocate of logging your food. It takes so much of the guessing game out of eating and allows you to hit proper calories and macros accurately. I recommend everyone walking through the doors of our facility or during our first consultation phone call to log at least 3 days of food.
These first three days I want them to eat normal. If we can’t see what hasn’t been working for you, it could be harder to determine what is best for you. After these first few days, we will then set you up with calories per day and macro nutrient distributions based on your current weight, activity levels, and goals. Then, I will have you log 3 more days for us.
For some, that’s all they need. From those three days, they can essentially eat the same stuff and be on the way to their goals. Could they lose quicker? Maybe. Could they perform their workouts better? Likely. But, it is working for them and I am fine with that. Progress and sustainability are at the top of my priority list, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is also the perfect strategy for body maintenance. If someone stops logging, I encourage them to log a day or two every couple of months to ensure things are still going in the right direction.
For the rest of us, logging long term may be necessary. This is often the case for fat loss clients and muscle gain clients. These goals require pretty specific calorie and macro goals, in which your body may not be regulating properly when it tells you it’s hungry or full. Sometimes you need more, sometimes you need less, and especially in the beginning of any dietary change, our bodies are not necessarily in line with our satiety levels. I still prescribe individuals to log normal food intake for a few days. Then, we will give them their calories and macros and constantly check up on them to measure progress and reanalyze intake levels.
Does logging every day seem too much? No worries, because I actually recommend skipping a day each week. This will allow for them to have freedom with their food and not deprive themselves of what they really want. Issues come with deprivation. Don't go overboard on this day every week. Trying to keep in mind moderation with all things is key. But, this day off from logging will lead to a better, long term, lifestyle change.
With so many food options, diets, and trends out there, it is often overwhelming. Eating real food, in correct quantities is always going to be the best approach. Logging your food to ensure your calories and macros are where they need to be takes away a lot of the guessing. Remember, this isn't a diet for the short term, it's a solution for life. If you need help, let us know, we are there for you in this process of making a lifestyle change.
Sean Spire is the Head Coach of ASL. He was a competitive swimmer who discovered CrossFit and Ironman Triathlons. He has his BS in Exercise Science from Florida State University.