4 Rules for Fitness: Simple steps to get you looking and feeling incredible
- Carbohydrates belong between 10am-3pm
- Those carbs should be only dug up, harvested, or collected. (no there is no such thing as a pasta tree)
- Get enough sleep
- Move your ass every day.
Rule One: Intermittent fasting-ish…
I am drawing this rule from a little bit of hype, and a lot of personal testing by both myself and my clients at the gym. Intermittent fasting is some thing that has gained a lot of traction in the media recently and has become popularized in Hollywood as a great diet for shedding fat and getting into incredible shape.
Long story short… it works.
But you don’t need to starve.
Science aside, the main gist of intermittent fasting involves limiting your intake of foods to certain times of the day in ‘eating windows’. This is hugely effective for a few reasons (some at the biological, hormonal and cellular level), but one of the crucial effects is that it limits your total calorie intake. To dive a bit deeper; protocols range from limiting the ‘eating window’ anywhere from 2-16 hours, and restrictions of food outside these times from air tight to ‘a few bits here and there’. I want to go right in the middle.
A majority of my clients are currently eating all foods within an 11 hour window (call it 7am – 6pm) with one minor tweak – all carbs are to be consumed in a much smaller 4 hour window (11am-3pm or morning tea to afternoon tea).
The reports have been incredible. No hunger, no massive sugar binges and the following crash (then usual re-binge). AND some of the best shape I (and my clients) have been in for a long time. The best part is its easy and your current meal plan probably doesn’t have to be modified that much to make it happen.
Step 1: Fat and protein breakfast – think quiche, bacon and eggs (hold the toast) or as simple as a protein shake with a teaspoon of peanut butter blended in to make it taste incredible)
Step 2: Add some fruit and maybe a yoghurt for morning tea (first carbs of the day) 11:00ish
Step 3: Enjoy your lunch but don’t go crazy – Green Thai curry with a portion of jasmine rice is FINE, brown rice is better. This is going to become your main meal for the day but still be mindful of portions and total calorie intake. (more on the types of carbohydrates I recommend in rule 2)
Step 4: Keep afternoon tea to fruit and nuts (not the Cadbury kind). One piece of fruit and 10 almonds or so as a guide.
Step 5: Carb free dinner – meat and veg, fish and salad, vegetarian yellow curry with cauliflower rice (deliscious)
Rule Two: Carbs should be found, foraged or forget it (kinda)
I know this is sounding a little crazy paleo, but trust me I’m not. I drink beer, eat pasta AND destroy a hamburger or 2 on most Friday nights. But… we are trying to lose body fat here. As you are already on the road to great health, why not improve the quality of your foods at the same time as improving the ratios of which you eat them?
What I am suggesting is that you opt for carb sources like, sweet potato, quinoa or hell even just the good old fashioned white and brown rice over pastas, breads and highly refined foods. Again, I don’t need you perfect, but let’s make sure at least 5 days out of the week you do away with the tacos, chips and maccaroni.
***A side note on macronutrient ratios (carbs, protein and fat)
Yes, you can absolutely lose weight on a moderately carbohydrate heavy, classically recommended diet (think 60/30/10 for percentage split of carbs, protein and fat) – BUT the research consistently finds faster results with a ratio closer to (40/40/20).
Rule Three: Get enough sleep
This one is a biggie. In a world where we are tethered to our phones (almost) 24/7, sleep has taken a huge hit and the ramifications are clear everywhere you look. Tired eyes, sugar cravings (and the resulting caramello koala) at 3pm, and a lack-lustred approach to anything that involves expending the precious energy you have left – just to name a few. Sleep is important and its not just for your mental health but your weight loss as well.
To save discussion hormone regulation, testosterone levels and growth hormone for another time… just know – you need to go to bed. A myriad of the bodies functions (including those that assist in you losing body fat) can be helped or hindered by how much sleep you are getting. Too much, no good, too little, disastrous. Start by shooting for a MINIMUM of 7 hours every night and work from there. That means setting a bed time, shutting down the TV and being disciplined. I find the bedtime app on the iPhone to be incredible for this.
As a PT, my phone is always on. Always.
I receive messages at any hour that one of my clients is awake. This can vary wildly, but I usually have a safe zone between ~11:00pm and 4:00am. 5 hours un-interrupted is not enough. One of the strategies I use is to use the do not disturb or aeroplane modes on my phone after 8:00pm and don’t switch it back ‘on’ until after my morning rush of clients. I especially like the aeroplane mode option for a few reasons:
- No one can reach me
- You have ZERO access to the internet, social media or YouTube
- It encourages me to read – reading is one of the most effective ways to get yourself to wind down and nail down some form of a circadian rhythm. Having a light fall on your book while the room is dark works better than most sleeping pills! (p.s make sure that the reading material is not too stimulating. Eg I cannot read a business book before bed as my head ends up spinning with new ideas for continent, marketing and patnerships. Pick something interesting but slow)
Please take it from me , you need your sleep and you need to make it easy to achieve. Get your phone off early and I promise you will feel better (and leaner) in a week.
Rule Four: move your ass every day
Its not what you think.
I am DEFINITELY not recommending that you (especially if you are currently untrained or coming back to training after a long layover) dive head first into a 7 day / week intense training program. You will hate it, then probably me – but that is not what I want you to do.
Building exercise or movement into every single day of your life is the simplest way to make sure that you keep on top of your calorie intake. This is for a few reasons that you may not have thought of.
The obvious one – you are burning calories when you workout. ANYTHING you do is using up calories as fuel for that activity. Eating, breathing, hell even sex counts towards your total calories burned for the day and our goal of ending up in a deficit (more out than you put in).
Other benefits of moving every day are less obvious, like – how easy it is to follow rules 1-3 ( and even 4):
- Eating healthily is easy to do when you workout. I can almost say with 100% certainty that you have never left the gym and had a beer in your hand immediately. Or driven through the hungry jacks drive through? Ok, I know there will be exceptions out there – but the likelihood of you making a food or drink decision that negatively effects what you are trying to achieve is WAY lower on a day that you have worked out. I use this in my own life and make sure that I book in a training session with a friend (or just myself) for Friday afternoons. I can easily fall into the trap of a lazy movie-afternoon with a beer or two after a massive week of PT and a 4:30am start on my Fridays.
- Exercise is going to set you up for some fatigue towards the end of the day, eye lids get heavy and boom you’re into bed a full hour earlier than you would normally be. Creating a habit of this creates a sleep cycle that is going to benefit you incredibly moving forward.
- Routine. We are innately habitual creatures. If you set your alarm for 4:30am every single day between now and the end of the month and promise me a minimum (don’t get me wrong you can do more) of a 30 min walk / ride / weights / yoga session, you WILL become a morning exercising person.
And that’s it, 4 rules to change your life and get you in the best, long lasting shape you have ever been in. Use these rules as a filter for your day, as a set of boxes to be ticked and you will make it.