I know that it is somewhat cliche, but it is by far THE most important part of obtaining and maintaining the body that you want, even before diet and exercise. You are unique and so is your body, and whilst it is fine to look to others for inspiration, you have to realise that your body is your own and you should never attempt to measure up to anyone else. Recognise the parts of your body that you love (including your smile) and wear them like a trophy. After all confidence is the most sexy attribute that a person can have!
Like I mentioned above, your body is unique and therefore you shouldn’t expect it to look like anyone else’s but your own… Work with it and not against it, this will only cause distress and promote negative self image. Once you’ve learnt to love your body and work with it you might find that you progress much quicker and maintain the motivation to keep going.
Once you’ve learnt to love yourself and work with your body and not against it, you have already started treating it with respect. Why not continue this by “treating it like a temple”?: cut out the junk food and rely more on whole foods: grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy and lean meat. When you rely on good foods and eat correctly you will feel better, which may lead to changes, just by cutting out the junk! You will have more energy, you will crave less junk food, and you will probably want to keep feeling this way.
The trick is to get that metabolism working to its best ability: by eating regularly (including breakfast) it means that your body has to continue to work to break down and process food, this will help to ensure that your metabolism keeps ticking over. However, ensure that you are mindful of portion sizes, five to six large meals will probably equate to too many calories, so keep the meals small- moderate in size, and nutrient dense (not calorie dense).
Ensure that you are eating an inclusive diet providing the body with all of the nutrients that it needs in order to work efficiently and effectively. The nutrients that we consume through food all have varying roles, such as iron for carrying oxygen around the body (including to working muscles when exercising), B vitamins to assist in converting food to energy, calcium for muscle contraction and so on… Provide it will ALL of the tools it needs through consuming a varied diet.
This is a big no no as it can actually lead to a slowing of the metabolism. It can also lead to binge eating and an overconsumption of calories as our bodies search for energy dense foods. It is quite interesting to know that a lot of overweight and obesity stems from restrictive eating, and I have certainly seen first hand occasions where individuals are simply not eating enough, and it isn’t until they consume adequate calories that they start to lose weight.
I think exercise is so important, not just because it is difficult to see significant changes within the body just through diet alone, but it also aids in motivation. Through combining diet and exercise you can see amazing results, and this is for any goal from hypertrophy (building muscles) to weight loss. Whilst cardio is great for expending energy whilst exercising, weight training is great for expending energy when at rest.
Dairy is a fantastic source of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Not only is it essential for bone health (calcium is quite difficult to obtain through plant sources alone), it can also help with satiety, that is, keep you full for longer. Try having it with breakfast, for snacks and at bed-time to help assist with muscle repair, satiation, bone strength and even aid sleep.
Poor little carbohydrates tend to have a bad wrap these days, especially thanks to the refined type, which are low in fibre, often consumed in large amounts and therefore contribute a substantial amount to energy intake. However, good whole grain carbohydrates can assist in weight loss, maintaining blood sugars and energy levels, controlling cravings, provide energy for a good exercise session (which will in turn assist in meeting your goals) as well as help to protect against bowel cancer (a pretty good selling point if you ask me). The fibre in wholegrain carbohydrates can also aid in satiety and assist in meeting your recommended daily intake (25-30 grams per day). The trick here is to be sensible (i.e. don’t run off and eat a huge bowl of pasta as it probably won’t do much for the waistline).
I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet here (or that of other Dietitians), but if you are finding that what you are doing isn’t working then perhaps it might be advisable to get some help. Not only do Dietitians have the training behind them (based on factual science) to work with you as an individual (instead of palming off some generic “one-size fits all” meal plan), they can also be a great source of motivation. Personal trainers are also good for this point, that is motivation, whether it be through attending a boot camp, or obtaining personal training.