Whether you are brand new to nutrition and fitness, or you’ve simply fallen out of shape recently, here is the my beginner’s guide to get you back on track quickly. I could write a short novel on this subject but I wan’t to keep this concise so here are four specific action items for you to follow to cut down on wasted time and energy and start seeing results!
Start with Motivation: You need a why. Why do you want to get fit again? What is pushing you to do this? There must be a reason that you desire to change your body at this time in your life. Think about it until you have a very clear, very specific reason.
There is no wrong answer here. Don’t feel selfish or vain. We all have our own personal motivators for wanting to achieve our best selves. What’s ultimately important is that your reason is specific and powerful to you. You need a why to push you through the challenge and the obstacles. People without whys have a less likely chance of being successful.Once you’ve determined what your motivation is, write it down where you can see it every day. Think about it. Focus on it. See yourself achieving it. Do this every single day.
Track Everything You Eat: I’d even say everything you put in your mouth! Here’s a fact – the average American OVER estimates how much they do in terms of activity (expenditure) and UNDER estimates how much they eat daily (intake) resulting in weight gain or being unsuccessful with weight loss. I make every nutrition client I have log their intake. It serves two purposes:
- Helps you to create awareness with your nutrition. You learn where your calories are coming from. Most people think they are eating really healthy, until they begin to log. It can be very eye opening for most. You totally forgot about those 5 mini kit-kat bars you eat throughout the day until you use My Fitness Pal for a week, right? Knowledge is power! I’ve never been able to help someone reach their fitness goals without having them track their intake in some form.
- It gives you tangible targets to work towards. Nutrition is a quantifiable science. Yes, I start a lot of people off with lifestyle and behavioral changes (see point 3), but make no mistake that if you want to get that six-pack you’ve been dying for you need to quantify your intake. You don’t need to worry about specifics to get started. Just log everything. If you want to get more detailed pay attention to your macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) and even your fiber intake. Are you eating protein at every meal? Are you getting 28-35g of fiber a day? The perfect macro ratio is variable and independent to the client, but I would say a good starting point is 40/30/30 Protein/Carbohydrates/Fat. Meaning 40% of your total calories from protein, 30% from carbs and fat.
Start Small: Your ready to start a new fitness and lifestyle journey so you need to cut out all the junk food and booze and hit the gym every single day the next few weeks to build momentum. I mean, go hard or go home right? Wrong. You want to know what I’ve learned from coaching hundreds of clients?
The consistent ones are the ones who win.
Small changes that produce large outcomes are your best options for long term compliance. Not everyone walks in my door and are ready to start tracking macros and weighing their food every day. So I customize to their starting point and I progress my clients with small changes initially to build momentum and confidence in their journey. For example, if someone never eats until noon most days, I’d start them with a simple goal of having a protein packed smoothie every morning for a week. This will get them to feel better, have better energy at work, increase their protein intake daily, and build the much needed momentum essential for behavioral changes.
If you never go to the gym, start with once or twice a week. Hell, even start with going for a walk on your lunch break at work, and after dinner at night for a solid week. Build momentum with small victories.Then you can progress to going to the gym once or twice a week in combination to your walks.
If you are ready to go to the gym you don’t need excessive work outs. Focus on compound exercises that will give you the most bang for your buck. Have a plan, get it in under an hour, then get out. If you try to go militaristic on your diet/exercise program and make too many drastic changes you will feel overwhelmed, you won’t be able to keep it up, and then you will quit. Trust me, I’ve seen it countless times.
Eat More Protein: Quite simply, most people just don’t get enough protein for their weight loss and fitness goals. The Standard American Diet is very carb heavy and will not produce the weight loss results people are seeking. Protein has a higher thermic effect of food or TEF compared to carbs or fats, which pretty much means you burn more calories eating protein compared to the other macronutrients. Protein is very satiating which is perfect for someone trying to lose weight. If your full throughout the day you are more likely to stick to your game plan than if you were starving, right?
How much protein do you need? Well, its variable from person to person but start with my reccomendation of 40% of your daily intake from protein. Or, for women try having anywhere from 4-6 oz of lean protein at every meal, and for men have 6-8oz. Try to go organic when possible for your protein. Did I always buy organic? Nope. In college I hit up the Walmart economy packs of beef and chicken. Fitness is an investment of your time, energy, and finances. Unfortunately, it is much cheaper to eat poor quality foods. I do think going organic with proteins and produce is worth the investment if you can, but not a deal breaker if you can’t.
Excellent protein sources are the following:
- Grass fed lean beef, bison, or buffalo 90/10 or better
- Free range chicken or turkey breast and tenders
- Wild caught marine sources like tilapia, salmon, halibut
- Cage free eggs – Eat the yolks!
- Dairy like greek yogurt and cottage cheese – Get plain and add your own berries!
- Whey Protein – GMP approved and grass fed if possible! I use the LifeTime Grass Fed Chocolate Whey.
Don’t let your goals seem overwhelming and paralyze you into not taking action. Use these tips to get started. Remember progression not perfection. Start slow and build up. Post questions below or email me with any questions!