5 Definitive Steps to Achieving Sustainable Body Change
Here’s the question I’ve been getting lately. How did I get from the first pic to the second pic?
It’s a great question, and since I’ve been getting so much interest, I decided to elaborate and give you the details. There’s a lot of information here, and if you want to skip to the cliff notes, I created a Fat Loss Toolkit which includes 5 ACTIONABLE tools and strategies to help you get your get started today. You can grab your copy of the Fat Loss Toolkit here.
First of all, let me give you some background information. I spent years of my life yo-yo dieting. It actually goes all the way back to high school. I started struggling with my weight when I was around 16 years old. I believe it a combination of bad eating habits, family issues resulting from my parents divorcing, and a lack of physical activity.
I remember it was my senior year of high school, and I was 17 years old. I was fed up with my weight gain and decided it was time for a change. I knew a friend of my mom’s who had recently lost a lot of weight, and she achieved her weight loss on the Adkins Diet. So for me, this was the logical choice mainly because I was 17 and had no other ideas. So here was my plan of action; I went on an extremely low carb diet and did hours of cardio. I lost 30 pounds pretty quickly. I was stoked!
Fast forward a few months, and it was my freshman year of college. I moved into the dorms, went back to eating cafeteria food and quickly regained the weight plus some!
And this was the start of my years of yo-yo dieting. I really don’t even remember how many times I lost and regained the same 20 to 30 pounds. Not only was it taxing on my body and metabolism, but each time it left me feeling like a complete and utter failure. I had almost given up because I felt like I would never be able to achieve the results I wanted and keep them.
I was so physically and emotionally drained from putting my effort and energy into losing weight only to gain it all back.
I was at my wit’s end.
It wasn’t until my mid 20s that I finally got off the yo-yo dieting roller coaster and finally managed to achieve fat loss in an achievable and sustainable manner. After a probably a year or two of not putting any effort into fitness or fat loss, I felt ready to give it another try. This time I hired a trainer and decided to try to actually educate myself on how to achieve sustainable results.
Since then, I have been able to achieve realistic and sustainable results, develop my strength to a level I never thought possible, and develop a new appreciation for my body. Most importantly, I learned to love my body through every part of the journey instead of just relegating to love myself when I was finally “skinny.”
This was so important for me because believe it or not, reaching your desired weight, won’t suddenly made you a better, funnier, smarter, prettier, or happier person. You will be the same person, just a thinner version so learning to love and appreciate ourselves no matter what size we are is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.
Before I jump into the 5 steps, the one thing I have to I need you to understand is that creating sustainable results requires time and patience. There is no magic bullet to instantly achieve the results you want, and you likely won’t be able to achieve the “body of your dreams” in 30 days. It’s just not possible. I know this concept is super unsexy, but chasing sexy, quick fix programs don’t help us achieve the lasting results which we are really after.
The key to obtaining lasting results is Smart Choices + Consistency + Time= Radical Results.
But here’s the good news. The 5 steps aren’t difficult. They are actually really easy to start implementing. So easy you can start today 🙂
Ok so let’s get into the nitty gritty.
I don’t encourage any of my clients to go on “diets.” Instead I urge people to create a way of eating that is both fat loss and weight management friendly, and something they can stick to for the long haul.
The problem with “diets” is that people look at them as something you do for 60 days to lose weight and then you can go back to your “normal” way of eating. This is one of the reasons why yo-yo diets are so common.
The key to long term success with nutrition is to create a way of eating that you enjoy and that you don’t feel like you need to take a break from.
The best advice I can give you when it comes to nutrition is to urge you not to create a list of foods that are “off limits” or “restricted.” The minute we start to list foods as “do not eat” suddenly those are the only foods we want to eat. Focus on eating whole, nutrient dense foods 80% of the time, and incorporate treats that you enjoy such as wine, chocolate, sweets etc. in moderation.
But there’s no doubt about it, when it comes to fat loss or body change, nutrition is the most important factor. I will be the first to admit that there is so much conflicting information on the internet that searching out your fat loss protocol can be extremely confusing and frustrating.
But here’s the truth, there’s no right or wrong way of eating. No matter what anyone tells you, there is no perfect solution to your nutrition. Each of us are highly individualistic and the best things we can do for ourselves is to take the time to figure out what works for us. This takes some time and some effort and a little trial and error, but eventually you settle into what you find to be the most sustainable approach for you. And really, that’s the most important part. Finding something that is sustainable. Something you can commit to for the long haul.
But there are a few things that I think are important for everyone if you have fat loss goals:
Incorporate some protein at each meal (chicken, fish, lean turkey, lean beef, protein powder, eggs, egg whites, and greek yogurt to name a few).
Incorporate lots of leafy greens and vegetables (spinach, broccoli, asparagus, kale, squash, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, peppers, cherry tomatoes, etc).
Incorporate of high-fiber fruits (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples).
Incorporate healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, bacon, and butter).
Incorporate starchy carbs more sparingly (potatoes, rice, pasta, breads, and pastries).
Last nutrition tip for you before we move on is to drink water like a fish. Water is so important for our bodies, and believe it or not, dehydration is often confused by people as hunger. I recommend starting every morning with a 16 ounce glass of water before you eat or drink anything else, and carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and make a conscious effort to drink a ton of water each day.
For more specific nutrition guidance, download the Fat Loss Toolkit.
Here’s the truth, strength training is one of the best ways to achieve fat loss when it’s coupled with proper nutrition. I literally cannot stress this enough.
Back when I was on the yo-yo diet roller coaster, I spent all my time at the gym doing cardio; hours of it.
Here’s the thing. I lost weight but it wasn’t just fat. It was combination of fat and muscle. I always ended up as a smaller version of the shape I already was. After hours of cardio and dieting, I had lost weight. I was smaller, but I didn’t have the toned physique that I was after because I hadn’t worked to develop any muscle. I naturally had a pear shape so I just ended up with a smaller pear shape. I was still soft and my body was undefined. This was not what I was after at all. I really wanted a more athletic and toned physique.
If you want to a change the shape of your body, add some curves, lose some fat, and look like you work out, then you have to pick up some weight and prioritize strength training over cardio.
And contrary to popular belief, you won’t wake up looking like the Incredible Hulk after lifting weights. You will, however, end up changing the shape of your body and creating an incredible physique, but ending up looking “manly” should not be one of your concerns.
If the concept of strength training is new to you, and you have no idea where you should start, download the Fat Loss Toolkit here. You can be on your way to developing a strength routine for yourself in no time.
To keep it super simple, when we are sleep deprived, our cortisol levels increase and as a result, so do our cravings for sweet, sugary, and fatty foods. Have you ever noticed when you wake up really tired, sugar-laden carbohydrates like pastries and doughnuts sound a lot better than power breakfast like a veggie-filled omelet? It’s not a coincidence.
Increases in our cravings are the exact opposite of what you want if you have fat loss goals.
In addition to increases in cravings, sleep deprivation also causes lack of motivation to get our workouts in. If we are constantly tired and sluggish, it’s much easier to opt out working out because we don’t just have the energy. Lastly, lack of sleep also causes changes in our moods and hormones, increases our chances of injuries, and decreases our recovery from training.
If you have fat loss goals, the minimum amount of sleep you should get it 6 hours per night. To be completely honest, if you want to maximize your results, you should really be aiming for 7 to 8 hours per night.
I know this is easier said than done, but striving to prioritize sleep can make all the difference in reaching your goals and optimizing your health.
- Daily Movement
Here’s the deal. I used to be the person who took the elevator instead of the stair because I worked out most of the days of the week. Clearly this meant that I didn’t need to take the stairs, right? WRONG.
Even if you are consistently working out, the majority of us spend 8 or more hours a day sitting down. That means we need as much daily movement as we can fit.
Some easy ways to incorporate more daily movement into our lives is taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking during lunch breaks, making it a point to get up at least once an hour to walk around and/or stretch, or getting a stand-up cube. If you want to read more on the topic of daily movement and how you can incorporate it, you can check it out here.
- Stress Management
Being chronically stressed, just like being sleep deprived, can also wreak havoc on our hormones and play a number on our hunger and cravings.
Short term stress (like exercise) is actually good for us and helps us adapt better, but long term stress can be extremely problematic, particularly if you have fat loss goals.
So what do I recommend? Spend some time doing an stress-reducing activity each day if possible. Some suggestions include leisure walking, reading, meditation, light yoga, spending some time with friends, or taking a relaxing bubble bath.
Make a list of the activities that you find most relaxing and develop a practice around incorporating them each day. You don’t have to carve out a huge amount of time. Even 15 minutes will be beneficial.
While all of these steps are important pieces to the puzzle, please don’t stress about trying to make all of these changes in one day. Start with picking one of these today and start improving in that area. Be patient with yourself and resist the urge to overhaul your entire life in one day or even one month.
Remember what I said earlier: Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time= Radical Results.
Even though you may feel like you’re only taking some small, daily actions, trust me all of those things add up. I didn’t go from the first picture to the second picture overnight or even within a couple of months. It took time, patience, and consistency.
Don’t stress about the scale or if you are following each step in perfect form; enjoy life, laugh, eat the cake at your grandma’s 90th birthday party, don’t stress when you mess up, and remember that your body fat percentage has no bearings on your value as a person. Stay patient. Stay consistent. You will reach your goals.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure you grab your copy of the Fat Loss Toolkit here.
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