The only thing more silly than reading advice about health and fitness from someone like me may be reading similar advice from a celebrity. But, I was a personal trainer for 10-ish years and I am reasonably fit myself...so, here are some guidelines taken from my experience as a trainer and what has worked for me. Come on...you know that many of you think about it this time of year.
- Sitting on your behind for hours and hours doesn't do wonders for your, well, behind...you gotta move. Even low intensity activity has signficant health benefits, but to improve your physique, you will need to actually break a sweat.
- However, hours of cardio doesn't necessarily result in a great body composition. There is such a thing as being "skinny fat".
- And, closely related, women in particular don't do enough strength training. I'm not talking about 20 bicep curls with 3-pound pink, neoprene dumbbells. I'm talking real strength training that results in actual changes to body composition, i.e. can make you leaner.
- Emotional eating, compulsive eating, neurotic eating. Whatever you call it, it represents a signficiant root cause for weight management problems. Again, I see this most often among women, but men are absolutely not immune to this problem. While I can't vouch for it personally, I have heard and read great things about the book Intuitive Eating. At a minimum, the website offers some basic principles that are useful.
- Most people drastically under estimate how much or how "clean" they are eating. Even modest caloric decreases (as little as 250-500 calories) per day can have a profound impact in the long-term. Have no idea how to calculate your caloric requirements? Here is a general starting guide, though there can be signficiant variability based on lifestyle, activity and body composition.
- How's this for boring, boring advice? You can eat well and not be hungry by focusing 80% of your diet on veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. Not sure what those things are? Here is a great article about clean eating and other good tips.
- The overwhelming majority of restaurant and fast-food portions are criminal. Seriously.