Tis a common lament amongst folks, even though who exercise regularly. You hit the gym regularly, you go for long walks, you do endless amounts of pushups and sit-ups - - but somehow, just SOMEHOW, that stubborn flab doesn't disappear as fast as it should.
You see some results in the mirror - but you aren't entirely satisfied with what you say - and for those of you that are overweight, the flab doesn't seem to go away "permanently".
Now, you might think that the obvious answer to this is the wrong form of exercise - and you'd be perfectly justified in thinking so. In fact, I've said many times before that exercising the wrong way can actually end up being detrimental to your overall health, fitness and motivation levels - not good if that's the case.
But what if your exercising the way you should, and still aren't quite "getting there" in terms of fat loss/overall fitness goals?
Well, the next obvious answer after exercise would be the big D i.e. diet.
That's right - the dreaded word that a LOT of us don't like to hear - including yours truly at times.
Now, when most people think of diet, they're thinking "oh, I gotta subsist on salads, and raw vegetables. Small portions, NO junk food, NO cheat meals, yadda, yadda". And so forth. And while you might be hitting the nail on the head in terms of staying away from junk food and eating more vegetables, the fact of the matter is that DIET for most people equals PORTIONS.
And this, my friend is the wrong way to think about it.
Smaller portions might leave you feeling hungry and irritated all day long - or perhaps you may feel like you've "accomplished" something mentally in terms of "sticking to a diet". But this ploy won't get you long lasting results - and when you do finally give in and have that large cheat meal, the weight will yo-yo right back on.
Not good, my friend. Not good at all.
I could go on and on about what sorts of food to eat, what to eat, when to eat, but I think the best way to go about this would be to give you a personal example - MINE.
Those of you that have been following this blog know that I moved to China last year. You also know that I've been "reunited" with my all time favorite fat buster and "get your rumpus in shape FAST" tool, that being a long, steep hill about 10 minutes walk from my house.
But what you might now know is that I had to leave China for a while in February (mostly personal reasons) - and what started out as a two week odessey turned out into a near 4 week trip, with VERY little, if any exercise thrown in. Oh, and that explains the long break in posts as well. . .
Now, that's not to say I turned into a tub of lard during that period - far from it. In fact people were commenting on how much better I looked since I'd been to China WHILE I was wondering if I was putting on weight, so that should tell you something.
Anyway, I finally got back in March, but I was still busier than a bee for the most part. Sure, I got my exercise in daily here - but my busy and erratic schedules often meant I was eating late, eating all the wrong things at the wrong times - in short - my diet was pretty bad at the time.
And after a week or two of arriving back, I actually noticed that I was putting ON weight in certain areas.
It was a VERY tiny amount of weight to be sure, but it was flab alright - and that's how it starts. Tiny turns into BIG before you know it, and this was when I was exercising hard on a daily basis - hiking up hills in the heat ain't no joke even in the best of weather, and I was doing my other bodyweight stuff as well.
I knew what the problem was, though.
Too many "burgers" (I use that term loosely) gobbled down late at night after I got a respite from my schedule. Virtually no vegetables in my diet, and no real "meat" either for the most part. Well, not unless you count the meat on pizzas to be real meat. . .
And so forth. Now, I got away with this sort of eating pattern for a while when I was younger, but that was for a few months - it eventually catches up with ya.
Anyway, something had to be done.
This won't work, I thought. Here I am, taking time out of my busy schedule to work out daily - and I'm actually LOSING instead of GAINING??
And so, here are a few rules I made for myself around the 14th or so (I think it was that date - I haven't recorded it): -
NO more fast food unless I really, really had no other option.
NO more fried dumplings, or friend anything.
NO more French bread for breakfast (even though I love the taste)
NO pizza, except maybe on Sat nights
Make it a point to eat meat, and lots of it on a daily basis - and make it a point to eat VEGETABLES on a daily basis. And drink lots and lots of green tea/water (this part was easy - I was already doing it).
And - here's the kicker - NO alcohol of any sort, which for me means no beer, or very little of it. (Guys, you're going to hate me for saying this, but beer can really, really screw with an otherwise great diet).
As you can tell, these are pretty simple rules to follow. No fancy calorie counters, no cholesterol blasters, no repeated bloodwork etc etc. Just a few simple rules that I thought I could abide by.
The first week went by smoothly. The second was tougher, and I "cheated" a couple of times, but I made it through. No noticeable results as yet, but I did notice I was generally feeling and looking better.
I had much more energy and more spring in my step - even though it wasn't showing in terms of absolute and rapid fat loss.
Come the third week (around the start of April), and I noticed I no longer even wanted the stuff I ate before. In fact, put a Micky D's supersize meal in front of me, and I'd be asking myself where the greens were - - and thats not because I was feeling "guilty" - - it was because my body just didn't want the stuff any more, period.
Interesting observation, eh?
But what's more interesting is that it was around THIS week that I really started to notice dramatic changes in my stamina and fat levels - not to mention overall appearance.
My hill climb times started to abruptly drop from around 25-28 minutes per climb to between 15-17 - - and given how steep this hill is, that ain't no easy task, let me tell you. (more on this tomorrow - - be looking for my post "The old man I met in China")
The tiny little bit of unsightly fat around my chest that had built up out of "nowhere" started to melt away WITHOUT any direct chest work.
Ditto for that troublesome area around the lower back.
And my pants started to literally fall off me - - even after tightening my belt as far as it could go.
Now, after that third week, I cheated a bit again the fourth week, and then the fifth. But it was only once or twice a week - I ate healthy most of the time otherwise - and kept my exercise routine exactly the same i.e. a hill climb followed by bodyweight stuff.
And I even allowed myself a beer or two on the week occasionally.
And guess what - the results just keep coming. I got in a 17 minute climb on a REAL tough route on the hill today - something which took me around 23 minutes a few months ago (still a good time for that route, but 17 minutes is REALLY good).
So, that was the result of my little experiment - need I say more? I'm not even going to get into how I could and do "cheat" a bit more occasionally than when I first started - - or about how I cannot even stomach the unhealthy stuff any more - - perhaps I'll address those points in future posts.
Folks, diet DOES, and WILL play a huge part when it comes to getting the results you want in terms of fitness. If your not getting the results that you want, then take a long hard look at your diet - it might just be whats drawing you back.
To put it another way - - exercise is king - - and nutrition is queen - - but a cranky queen makes for a tough life if you're the king!
And now, to end this, I'll throw in the final wrench by stating what my diet normally looks like these days: -
Rice at most meals, along with grilled beef, pork, or lamb. In other words, I usually eat meat and rice (two huge no-no's for most dieters) at EVERY meal, except perhaps breakfast. Lamb comes in first on my list, followed closely by beef - with pork running a close third.
(I should also mention I try and stay away from chicken, turkey and other supposedly "lean" meats - they don't do much for me at all.)
I eat steamed leafy green vegetables at EVERY meal - preferably a good bit.
I eat eggs when I want to, and snack on salted cashewnuts and almonds if I get hungry during the day (or evening, for that matter).
I don't eat a lot of fruit - none at all, actually these days - but I don't mind the occasional apple or orange. But, I don't drink any commercially processed OJ or other drinks - NO sugar whatsoever in my diet in any way, shape or form.
I skip breakfast at times if I have to (or lunch sometimes) - but I NEVER control portions when I do eat. In other words, if I want a few more chunks of beef, I'll go right ahead and eat them without feeling guilty.
(Side note: this doesn't mean I eat like a hog - far from it - but I certainly don't limit my portions either)
I drink plenty of green tea and water during the day. I do have the occasional beer, perhaps once or twice a week, but no more than that, and I don't go overboard with it.
And that, my friend, is the diet that's been giving me excellent results - - perhaps not what "the doctor ordered" in terms of a traditional diet, but it works for me.
And it'll work for YOU too, my friend.
Remember, diet is important - but the RIGHT form of diet is of paramount importance. A diet ideally shouldn't even feel like a diet - - if it does, it ain't the right one for you.
And I'll end on that note. If you work out today, make it an excellent one - and write back and tell me how it went!!
P.S.: - Forget watching calories, limiting your portions and all that other jazz the "pundits" yell about. A simple and no-nonsense diet that you can actually FOLLOW - and that won't leave you cranky all day long is laid out right HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/84-the-simple-and-effective-diet