I recently posted on social media that I had lost 30 lbs. of fat The question I subsequently got asked by people was, "how did you do it?" The short answer: there was no magic. It was simply eating less, eating healthier and exercising more. But, there were some specific things I did to help me along the way. Read on if you are interested in learning the gory details of my fitness journey.
I think you can break down a great fitness lifestyle into three categories (in order of importance):
State of Mind
While I can't say that I am in excellent physical shape, I am in a much better shape than I was just a year ago. Last summer, I left a grueling Silicon Valley job that had a very negative impact on my health. I went to sunny San Diego to live a more balanced life. In hindsight, it was the best decision I have ever made. The first step in any weight loss program is to make a lifestyle change. We spend a majority of our days and weeks at work. Your lifestyle change must begin at work. If your job is wreaking havoc on your health, then it's time for a job change. This can be a tough thing to do for many people. Some are lucky to even have a job. Others choose to live miserably and make lots of money over lowering their income to improve their heath. To help make your decision, you should ask yourself:
Making a job change isn't just about reducing your hours to spend exercising, it's about spending more time with family and friends, to dedicate to a hobby and to simply relax. Stress is a major factor in developing an unhealthy weight. Cut the stress and you can help cut your weight.
So, you've decided to make a job change, maybe even a location change to help reduce your stress and dedicate time to exercise. Great! You are well on your way to a healthier you. What's next? Let's start with the exercise routine. Simply put, you will need to move more. Don't start by immediately doing a half ironman. That's stupid. If you're in bad shape like I was, you're going to want to just go for a walk or a light workout on an elliptical machine... thirty minutes or so will do. You will need to do the three "R's" as I like to call it. Namely, you will need to:
Once your past this stage, you will need to kick it up a notch. You now have a baseline fitness level and some confidence to move onto the next level. I highly suggest group fitness. There is a lot of motivation in a class that you just can't get anywhere else. The instructor and the other students in class provide an amazing vibe. I chose to do Spinning. It's easy on the joints, can be very rigorous and a lot of fun. I signed up for SparkCycle in La Jolla and it was incredible. I instantly became addicted and haven't looked back since. I took a few classes a week and it was the perfect way to form great habits with great people. I did this for several months as well as running. I also began signing up for running races like 5Ks and half marathons in order to give myself a visible goal and stay motivated.
After a few months of this routine, I began to incorporate strength training and stretching. I did this by taking a specialized form of Pilates called Lagree Pilates as well as Yoga. I continued this routine for a few additional months. Afterwards, I decided to change things up dramatically.
For the last few months, I've been doing heavy weight lifting 3-4 times a week. I now only spin once a week and do Yoga and/or Pilates once a week. This has been affording me great results. I will probably maintain this routine for the next several months before settling into a Crossfit routine.
To help me eat better and form good dietary habits, I signed up for the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. The diet challenge and extreme supplement intake accelerated my weightloss. I paired up with an experienced fitness coach, Jenna Smith as well. She was able to provide me with a lot of great advice and was an excellent resource when I was starting off.
If you're looking for a diet to subscribe for life, I highly suggest Paleo. You can Google a lot of great info on Paleo and it's benefits. I also recommend this book by Loren Cordain. It contains a lot of good information on the diet as well as sample recipes. I also suggest supplementing your diet with a daily one-a-day, omega-3's and protein drinks. Protein is very important, especially if you are lifting weight and gaining muscle mass. Protein (especially BCAAs) is the raw material your body uses to build muscle. If you don't supply your body with enough protein, it will not have the material it needs to build new tissue. Increasing your muscle mass is important because it accelerates your weight loss by increasing your BMR, the rate at which you burn calories. You can Google products to find what works for you, but I recommend:
But, even the best multivitamins don't provide enough Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium. In order to get these important nutrients, you will need to obtain a separate supplement. Sadly, there are no good supplements that will provide you with all the CMPs you need. You will need to get it through real foods or in powder form (to be mixed into a shake).
You can also look into taking a fat loss pill, but I would be very careful and do your research. Most diet pills being sold are a fraud. I'm not saying none of them work. I'm just saying DO YOUR RESEARCH. I'm not going to get into recommending any products here because it's controversial, but feel free to contact me directly if you want some pointers.
Finally, I highly recommend Intermittent Fasting (IF). This might sound like utter madness to you, but it REALLY works. I can definitely vouch for it. But, I would again DO RESEARCH before starting this routine as it can be dangerous if practiced improperly. An excellent guide can be found here. Another article I recently came across describes the many benefits and even includes sample meal plans. Read these guides thoroughly and understand them before proceeding.
If you're looking into getting into great shape, focus on these three things (in order of importance):
Don't forget to measure your progress over time. If you're lifting weights it's important to know how you're progressing over time. You should be increasing weight, increasing reps, or increasing something. Take measurements of your body and remeasure periodically. You NEED to see the progress. It keeps you accountable and it's motivating to see the results! If you're not making progress, it's a signal that you need to change something up. Perhaps, you could be pushing yourself harder in some way. Or perhaps you should just change up your entire routine.
Finally, remember to also have fun! Exercise and proper eating will cause your body to maintain the right mixture of serotonin, dopamine, endorphin and oxytocin. These are all hormones that contribute to emotional well-being. You will almost instantly feel happier once you've completed a workout and maintaining that feeling will become addictive. If you've been good and consistent for a couple of weeks, reward yourself. But, don't binge eat on bad stuff! Instead, treat yourself to a cool concert, or a sports game. Do something fun and responsible. There are plenty of options to choose from.
I'm certain that once you begin this lifestyle, you'll feel hard-pressed to let it go. So, go ahead, make a plan for success and stick to it! In my next post, I'll try to offer some concrete diet and workout regimens that you can start using right away. See you next time!
© 2016 Vimal Gopal. All rights Reserved. San Diego, CA