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Beginner's Guide to Getting in the Best Shape of Your Life

Beginner's Guide to Getting in the Best Shape of Your Life

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best shape of your life

Do you suffer from analysis paralysis? Do you change your diet and exercise with every new bit of information you find out? Is the only consistency in your diet the fact that you're inconsistent? If so, this article is for you. The only way to make gains both in muscle growth and fat loss is to establish consistency and then tweak things little by little until you learn your body and how it responds. Here is how to do that.

If you're constantly changing your diet and exercise program then you're never allowing yourself to learn what really works for you (see: Do You Have Weight Loss Memory Loss?).

The body takes time to adjust to anything you do to it, and settle in to the new 'routine'. If one week you're taking in 1,700 calories a day and the next, 2,200 calories a day, and add to that cheat meals or cheat days, you will never reach your goals, guaranteed.

The #1 most important and effective way to achieve your goal is to establish a plan and stick with it for some time before changing ANYTHING.

The #2 most important and effective way to achieve your goal is to track it. Every morsel, every workout, and how you feel, needs to be logged on a daily basis.

And the #3 most important and effective way to achieve your goal is to NEVER EVER CHEAT (see: No More Cheat Meals). If you consume foods off your plan, you have no idea how effective your plan really is.

This last point can't be emphasized enough. Even a bite of a chocolate bar adds unwanted and ineffective calories. It solicits a response from your body that throws it off its game. Your best bet is to just not do it.

So this is where I know you're probably thinking, “Seriously? Not even one bite?”. That's right, not even one bite, not if you're serious about this and really want to achieve your goals. If you're not serious, then go ahead. But you wouldn't be reading this if you didn't want to move forward in a serious way.

The best way to not get off track is ask yourself each time you have a craving, whether or not it's worth the few seconds of taste bud pleasure and the slippery slope it creates. Because likely you know you won't stop there. Most of us don't. The landslide of crap we'll feed ourselves after that one bite is never worth it. So just don't do it. It's really that simple.

So – where to start...

A few basics and logic behind the plan you're about to embark on:

Nutrients – You need protein, carbohydrates, and fats to have an ideally functioning body that builds muscle and burns fat. That has been proven time and time again.

Metabolism – You need several meals spaced pretty evenly throughout your waking hours to keep your metabolism running full speed and not store energy in the form of fat. This is also tried and true. While you'll get your rare competitor that can eat three square meals a day and look like a goddess on stage, they are literally one in a thousand.

Food timing – Carbohydrates can be stored as fat pretty easily, so they are best just before and after your workouts, where you need them the most, for energy to blast through your workout and for quick muscle repair afterwards (see: Are Carbs Bad?).

Macros – You hear about macros all the time. 40/40/20, 50/30/20, 30/40/30, 20/40/40, etc. These are referring to the percentage of calories consumed for proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Everyone has a different opinion on what's best. Bottom line is, you'll be starting with a pretty balanced plan to establish your baseline and then tweak it ever so slightly as time goes on to find out what works best for you.

Calories – Excess calories will be stored as fat. There are no exceptions to this rule unless you are some sort of freak of nature. Excess calories are the calories consumed in excess of what your body needs to function with all you're demanding of it. There are calories needed just to keep your body operating even if you are completely sedentary, and calories needed to give you the energy to perform the tasks you are demanding of it.

Now that you have the basic terminology, on to the guts of the plan.


STEP 1 – ESTABLISH YOUR DAILY CALORIC NEED

There are a number of websites that help you to establish your caloric need based on your age, gender, weight, and activity level. If you are more than 5 pounds over your goal weight, put in your goal weight rather than your current weight.

These are the calories you will be eating every day for many weeks. No cycling of calories or modifying day by day. You need to keep them consistent to understand what your body is going to do with it.


STEP 2 – ESTABLISH YOUR MEAL TIMING

Structure your meals to ensure you're eating at least every 3 hours.

You want a good percentage of your daily calories and carbs to be timed just before and just after your workout. If you work out in the morning, your first 2 meals should be calorie and carb heavy. If you work out in the evening, you need to have the last 2 meals of the day calorie heavy.

Every meal should contain proteins and carbs. For the meals not around your workout, this is where you can go heavier with healthy fats.


STEP 3 – ESTABLISH MEALS WITH MACROS

Start with 40/40/20. 40% calories from protein, 40% calories from carbs, and 20% from fats. You need to get comfortable using a spreadsheet and a food scale. This is extremely important as you'll likely find you've been either grossly underestimating or overestimating how many calories you've been eating or your macros. This is hugely common until you start weighing your foods and tracking what you're eating – every morsel.


STEP 4 – CRYSTAL CLEAN FOODS ONLY

No processed NOTHIN'. No flour, no frozen meals, no fast food, no, no, no. (see: I Hate Food) Clean, whole foods only. Fibrous vegetables, lean protein sources, and healthy fats. For liquids, water, tea, coffee and diet sodas only. No sugary drinks. No dairy products.

This is true for even the pros, but if you're trying to lose fat it's critically true. Your fat cells are just waiting to soak up any crap you put in your body. Many individuals are shocked at how quickly the gains they made disappear when they go only one day off their plan. Don't do this – it's just not worth it.


STEP 5 – ESTABLISH YOUR WORKOUTS

Schedule your weight training workouts and cardio sessions for each day of the week and make sure it's a plan you can stick with.


STEP 6 – START YOUR LOG

You need to track your diet and exercise, and how you feel, every day. Track if you were hungry. Track how strong you felt. Track your energy levels throughout the day.


STEP 7 – WEIGH YOURSELF ONLY ONCE A WEEK

Especially when you're first starting out it can be tempting to weigh yourself every day. I highly recommend you don't do this because your body needs time to adjust to the new routine.


STEP 8 – GO 6 WEEKS, NO MODIFICATIONS

This is critical. Absolutely positively no changes for 6 weeks, no matter what is happening to your body. You need to give your body time to adjust and settle in. It needs to figure out you're serious about this and relent. Stick with it no matter what. It will be well worth it, I guarantee.


Once you've gone for 6 weeks like this, only then can you start to make minor tweeks to your plan to see how your body responds. And when I say minor tweeks, I mean minor. If you increase your cardio, don't decrease your calories or carbs at the same time. Then wait a couple of weeks with that minor change to see what happens. If you try to do a couple of changes at a time you won't know what effect any one change had.

So there you have it! Your guide to get started. Consistency and patience are your allies. Do this and it WILL pay off.

If you want a super easy way to calculate how much you should eat of your favorite clean foods check out FAB University's Sexy Body Plan containing my Meal Planning Tool.

Author: Kristin Shaffer
kristin@figureandbikini.org

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