Summer fat-loss challenge
The weather has been so glorious last week, that I simply must fulfil my overriding duty of tackling the hot topic of getting our bodies beach-ready.
Sunbathers and swimmers have been out in their droves basking under a sweltering sun, paving the way after a shocking winter for the long-awaited summer.
Will this be the summer you conquer your insecurities and strut onto our fashionable local beaches proud and triumphant?
Will you be picking out swim-wear over the coming month that glorifies or disguises your body? If you don’t feel quite ready for the beach season just yet, don’t worry because you’re not alone and more importantly, you’re still in time to do something about it.
This year I personally find myself ready for another fat loss challenge too, so why not join me? If you would like to take on the ultimate fat fight for 2012, read on, because today I will share my plan.
Originally tipping the scales at just under 100 kilos, after last year’s one-month weight loss challenge published in a local magazine, I managed to drop to 88 kilos while two clients who joined me reported even greater losses.
While I maintained that weight until November, I subsequently piled on the kilograms once more due to the demands of my chosen sport to compete in a heavier weight category. Having once again grown tired of the humpty-dumpty look however, it’s high time I practise what I preach and get lean again.
In honour of The Sunday Times 2012 fat-loss challenge therefore, I hereby present my three-stage plan.
The first two weeks shall be phase one, the second two weeks shall be phase two, while the remaining four weeks will be the final straight towards the finish line; phase three. That’s a total of eight weeks to take us well into the heart of summer. Let’s begin.
During phase one, we shall lay the foundations and prepare ourselves physically and psychologically for the journey to come. Nutritionally, all we need to do over the first fortnight is simply clean up our current diets. I will be cutting out all sweets, junk food, and sugary drinks (including artificial fruit juices).
My main meals will no longer consist of sugary breakfast cereals or fast food dinners, but will include more wholesome selections like high fibre breakfast cereals, whole wheat bread, and high protein dinners which include hard boiled eggs and meat replacement products. If you are not already lifting weights, start now.
The quickest way to get lean is to muscle up. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn on a constant basis. Of course, the added bonus of resistance training is that it strategically shapes and sculpts your body far more effectively than endurance-based training does.
Be sure to include big compound movements in your training such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and upper body rows. Any resistance training programme will serve you well at this stage, as long as it involves at least 45 minutes of effort, three to four times per week.
During phase two we will further streamline our nutrition and training programmes. Reduce the size of your three main meals, and slot in two snacks, one between breakfast and lunch, and the other between lunch and dinner. You are thus consuming roughly the same amount of calories but spreading them more evenly throughout your day.
For me this means a piece of fruit between breakfast and lunch, and a protein shake between lunch and dinner. In the gym, shorten the rest periods between sets without becoming a slave to the clock.
Try the simple breathing method I will be using instead; as soon as you finish a set, start taking big deliberate breaths. Completely fill your lungs with each slow inhalation, all the time resisting the temptation to huff and puff. Expel the air back out also slowly and deliberately.
Repeat 10 times, and proceed immediately to your next set. Ten deep breaths should take about 40 seconds to complete, or 30 if you are really winded. Slow controlled breathing won’t just help you suck more badly-needed oxygen into your system, but is also a great relaxation technique that helps maintain mental focus. Avoid distractions in the gym and stay absorbed and on-task. You can try this outside the gym too; when-ever you feel stressed, just breathe, consciously.
And finally, full speed ahead for phase three. Modify your eating plan so that you consume the majority of your carbohydrate dominant foods during the first half of your day, and protein dominant foods in the second. When your activity levels slow down towards the end of your day, so too should your intake of foods like pasta, bread, and potatoes.
For your training regimen, it’s time to throw out your standard resistance training programme and go all out on circuit training. Pick four large compound exercises per workout targeting different parts of the body.
Perform a heavy set of 10 repetitions of your first exercise, followed by five deep breaths; that’s about 20 seconds rest. Move on to the second exercise in the same fashion, and work through the entire sequence of four with your 20 second breathing breaks in between. That’s one round.
Regain your composure, take a couple of minutes rest, and repeat for a total of six rounds. Keep the weights challenging for optimum results; just because it’s circuit training doesn’t mean you have to lift puny weights.
I will be sharing my results on this very page, will you?