I had a captive audience at a law firm in the Western Chicago suburbs last week. Over 20 sets of eyes were glued to me for an hour, because I was explaining how they could be successful at changing their health habits. They learned the 10 best habits to get lean, and the 10 best habits for optimal nutrition.
There are many helpful habits you can learn to reach your health goals or body composition goals. Here are 10 of the best habits that will help you to be a WINNER:
Planning is essential. It is critical. If you plan your meals and workouts (and you follow through), you WIN. You may know everything you need to know, including every single food that is good for you, and every single food you should avoid. Guess what? It does not matter if you do not plan.
Plan grocery shopping. Plan meal preparation. Plan meal time. Plan to be mindful. Plan to get enough protein, veggies and healthy fats. Plan to hydrate. Plan to get enough sleep. Plan to be consistent. Plan to check in with a friend daily or weekly. Plan, plan, plan.
Put these plans on your calendar and treat them like a priority, because YOU are a priority.
Being well hydrated is a game-changer. It improves mood, attention, energy, focus, and workout performance (amongst other things). I begin every single day with at least 16 ounces of water. I have a glass on my bathroom sink. The first thing I do when I wake up is fill it up and start drinking. I don’t eat anything or drink anything else until I’ve had at least two cups of water.
Get the sleep that YOU need. Our needs vary. Your needs may vary between seven and nine hours. Nearly every sleep-deprived person can increase the amount of sleep they get. You can get anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 more hours of sleep if you evaluate what you are doing with the 1440 minutes you get during the day. If you can’t get more sleep, get better sleep. Here are some tips.
Sleep-deprived people strongly tend to be overweight or obese. There is pretty convincing evidence that shows when you are sleepy, you will eat more calories, and eat more junk calories. Two of the major appetite-controlling hormones (leptin and ghrelin) need you to get enough sleep so they can accurately tell you how hungry you are.
■ Be a little bit hungry, and a little bit full
On a scale of 1 to 10, always stay between a 3 and 7. Rating yourself as a 1 means you are starving, light-headed or unreasonably angry, and 10 is post-Thanksgiving stuffed. Stop eating when you are at a 7, because that 7 will turn into a 9 soon after. If you are at a 3, stop what you’re doing and get a healthy snack.
If you are below a 3, you will make a poor choice and eat way too much of it. Think vending machine, fast food, candy and flavored coffee drinks. If you eat until you are at an 8, 9, or 10, you have likely overeaten. Use this scale as a great way to make sure you don’t overeat.
■ Do resistance training
Use your muscles. Build lean mass to burn fat. Benefit from the afterburn. You burn extra calories for 24-36 hours post-strength workout, whereas the afterburn for traditional cardio lasts only about 12 hours.
The “resistance” in resistance exercise can come from dumbbells, weight machines, bands, and your body weight (amongst other things). There is something for everyone to enjoy safely! This is the most effective type of exercise to burn fat. Traditional cardio is not a priority; save your time.
■ Get enough high-quality protein
To lose fat, you need to create a deficit. You create a caloric deficit by burning more calories than you eat. When you do this, it is very important to get enough protein or you will lose lean mass. Losing lean mass is a bad thing for many reasons. Your resting metabolism will decrease and you’ll probably hit a plateau.
Consistently eat enough high-quality protein to prevent loss of lean mass. If you are strength training approximately three times a week, aim for 0.8 – 1.0 grams of protein times your body weight in pounds. You may need more if your volume and intensity is high.
■ Load up on veggies
You need veggies to supply you with vitamins, minerals and fiber. No other food group or supplement can replace what real vegetables can give you. Have as much as you’d like!
■ Eat healthy fats at every meal
Organic dairy fat. Nuts. Seeds. Grass-fed beef. Wild salmon. Avocados! Organic, virgin coconut oil. Extra-virgin olive oil. These are some great sources of healthy fats.
You need fat to stay satiated. If you find yourself hungry one hour after a meal of protein and produce, you likely forgot to incorporate your healthy fats. Eating enough healthy fats also keeps you from craving carbs.
■ Be consistent
Consistency is super important. Put it up there with planning. If you don’t plan, and if you’re not consistent, you will be disappointed because of your lack of results. This is a heartbreaking feeling, especially when it occurs over and over. You deserve to get results! You deserve to be lean and strong! Be consistent and you will be pleased with the results.
How consistent do you need to be?
Aim for 90%. The majority of peoples’ attempts to slim down fail because it is only a 75% effort. Sure, 75% is good. It may be an improvement compared to what you were doing, but most often 75% is not consistent enough to get the results you expect. 75% consistency yields sllllloooooooooooooow results. 90% consistency yields delightful results. Get yourself some delightfulness.
■ Have someone check in with you
Tell a friend. Tell your sister. Tell your co-worker. Tell your partner. Tell SOMEBODY who cares; somebody who realizes how important your goal is; somebody who will check in with you; somebody you feel accountable to; someone who will not provide excuses or rationalizations; and somebody that is also trying really hard to get healthier and happier. It’s not easy on your own. That’s what friends are for.