This was the last time I was lean, lean. Not competition lean, but too lean for me to be able to sustain it long term, at that time in my life. This was for a weeks holiday in August that I started probably around 16 weeks before we went.
My mindset at the time was fat loss, it was more like an approach a competitor would take to step on stage, even though that wasn't my goal and never has been.
It consumed my life.
Every minute of every day,
For 16 weeks.
All I thought about was calories, food, food choices, when then next time I was eating, what foods I was craving and what I was training each day.
I sacrificed a lot of my time and energy, it affected the people around me and my social life whilst I was 'cutting'.
My balance was out,.
My recovery was poor, my energy through the floor and sleep wasn’t the greatest. My training suffered as a result of this approach, I felt weak in the gym, sessions often left me whacked and I was constantly sore off my workouts.
Yes, I was in good shape, but look at the face and you can tell I was wrecked.
Looking back, this was too much to trade off to get to where I wanted to be. There are positives to take from this journey though. It’s a short term approach with an end goal of a holiday, or a photo shoot. This isn’t real life, it’s unsustainable, it’s very hard to fit this into everyday life and I wouldn’t take this approach with the majority of my clients. But because I went through that, I can draw from that experience to then be able to pass that on to my clients.
Given that there are some pretty nifty tools to implement when needed, maybe if you want to get really lean, but are they really necessary for the everyday person?
Carb cycling, carb backloading, intermittent fasting, refeed days and the likes, are all cool and useful tools. However, strategies like these can only be implemented when the basics have been nailed consistently, and, if it fits that persons lifestyle at that given time.
These approaches also tend to be used by competitors, serious trainers and coaches/ PT's. They then get piked up by the general population who see this on social media, and start trying it. I'm all for trying things out, but nailing the basics first is an absolute must, there also has to be methodology behind it, too.
It's like putting the fancy taps and decor in a new house, without laying the foundations first.
Fat loss requires an energy deficit, along with that, a lower carb intake in the onset, will elicit results. The body requires the absence of glycogen (sugar) in the body, to be able to utilise fat (and protein) more efficiently as a source of energy. Fat loss will occur however, when in a caloric deficit. Energy balance and overall caloric intake are the foundations to building a new house, so to speak.
Meaning you don't absolutely need to drop carbs to burn fat.
A shift of focus from fat loss, to being healthy, whilst in a slight caloric deficit, is in my opinion, a much more ‘real life’ approach to take.
Energy, recovery, concentration, sleep and social life will be in a lot better place, doing this. Given, there are many ways to skin a cat, but ensuring you’re healthy, eating good nutritious food that will enhance activity and training output, will elicit far more sustainable results. As boring as this sounds, a change in mindset to health and a lifestyle change will yield far greater results than a 6, or 12 week fat loss phase for a 1-2 week holiday.
Personally, I’d much rather keep my calories reasonably high, train and be active outside the gym, doing things I enjoy. Eating more means I fuel workouts, recover better, I get to eat foods I enjoy everyday without restriction, without cravings, and it means I can go out on social events too.
In addition to this, I’ve got more energy throughout the day, which is a big contributor to energy used outside of the gym and total daily energy expenditure. Lower calories over a prolonged period of time forces the body to adapt, I found myself wanting to slow down, move less and sit more when I had the chance.
I literally couldn’t be arsed to do anything.
This kind of approach, does however, require a conscious effort to improve eating habits and factoring in time to be active inside and outside the gym. In my opinion, it has to be a priority in your weekly schedule. Don’t get me wrong, it will take longer and you may feel at times you’re going backwards. Gradually though, you’ll get to where you want to be.
I truly believe being healthy and active, then transfers in to all aspects of life, for the better.
Shifting your mindset to being more healthy, active, not eating like a 6 year old school girl, or someone who’s in an eating competition, will bring you a lifetime of contempt. Your relationship with your body and food will improve greatly and once that happens, it really is a great feeling. Its a long journey that continuously goes on but one that has the power to change your life, infinitely.
Not just a 6 or 12 week, restricted, short term thing, all for a 2 week holiday to only undue your hard work and sacrifice a few days into your holiday. This only leaves you demotivated, frustrated and it can have a negative impact on your holiday., leaving you with a f*ck it attitude.
You owe it to you, your happiness and the people around you to be as healthy and active as you can be!
Don’t wait for someone to give you permission, take action and change your own life. We really don't have much time as life is short, so why live it being unhappy with ourselves, when we have the power to change it. But action is required!
Drop me a message or email if you have any questions.
Peace, love and health!