An abundance of caring (for yourself, and in turn those close to you)
This post started as a few simple sentences for my brother; tips on how to lose fat and manage blood sugar better. I decided to write them down as a reminder to myself, or anyone, especially those in middle age, as I’m starting the year with a health drive.
The golden triad is simple: optimise your sleep, diet and activeness.
Consider this as 10 years of research simplified into a blog post. If knowledge was the answer we’d all be millionaires with six pack abs – lifestyle change is the only way.
Setting up for success: I recommend a few links throughout this, before reading I’d start with: Behaviour/Environment Design
“Your diet is not only what you eat.
It is what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang around.
Be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually and physically.”
This one is fairly obvious, simply put, sleep restores body and mind, so try to improve your quality of sleep.
Also, sometimes we think we’re hungry when were really tired.
The book: Why We Sleep by Mathew Walker
The hack: Try and sleep 8 hours every night, ideally at the same time, even on weekends. Don’t drink caffeine after midday. Avoid alcohol? Five tips
I’ve always had success shedding a few pounds following the Slow Carb Diet; evolved or created by Tim Ferriss in The Four Hour Body. This is my go-to approach, as a bonus I also truly feel it’s anti-inflammatory effects.
I like it because at it’s core it’s about simplicity, no white food (bread/rice/pasta), no processed food (i.e. no sugar), so it really encourages you to eat home cooked whole foods.
There is a tonne of information online about what is involved:
A detailed real-user intro or a cheat sheet or an infograhic.
I also believe in the health benefits of Time Restricted Feeding; due to a book called The Circadian Code, here’s an excellent intro/overview by the author: Dr. Satchin Panda - Daily Rythms
“Lifestyle is what, WHEN and how much we Eat, Sleep, and Move on a daily basis.”
My preference is to exercise/workout, or go for a walk, in the morning, before eating. I will drink water or black coffee, then tend to start eating around midday, I try not to eat at night (after 9:30). Meaning a 9-10 hour feeding window, giving my digestion a break. If an option, I would also swim and sauna in the evening.
I think calorie density/food satiety (feeling full) can play there parts (for example, eating enough so as not to snack, or starting meals with soups or veggies/salads): Calorie Density: How To Eat More, Weigh Less and Live Longer
- whenever you break fast, start with a slow carb/high protein meal.
- Hydrate (2 litres water per day), don’t drink calories and have a day off (cheat day).
- Take pictures on your phone of everything you put in your mouth (for a week).
- Or log everything in myfitnesspal. (what gets measured gets managed).
A complex and debatable topic, as there are many variables; types of exercise, what we can sustain/enjoy, our age, our ability to recover, etc.
For this goal, the idea is simple, do activities that keep our metabolism in fat burning mode.
I believe we’re burning fat when in a calorie deficit (consuming less calories than we use). Muscle is denser/heavier than fat, building muscle means we use more calories to move, which means burning fat (our goal). Also, as we age we suffer from muscle atrophy (loss), so if we don’t build new muscle, we’re getting slowly weaker. “Use it or lose it, baby!”
As the saying goes, you can’t outrun a bad diet. Whilst running/swimming/cycling/yoga/pilates are great exercise for our health/heart/cardio, it isn’t the optimum way to burn fat, as they don’t build as much muscle.
Lifting weights, which also stimulates the heart and builds muscle, includes lifting our own bodyweight, so we can start with simple push-up/pull-ups, air squats, then perhaps progress to kettlebells/dumbbells. High Intensity Interval Training is an excellent way to kickstart the metabolism and continue fat burning for a few hours (some call it the afterburn effect), but this is probably true of many exercises.
Here is an example of a quick/light HIIT circuit/session using weights (time-lapse, 45 sec each exercise, 15 sec rest, x3 rounds): HIIT session
Also, walking is an excellent recovery tool, great to keep the fire going and burn calories…
Ideally, in time, we would combine compound strength training (e.g. squats/deadlifts, to stop muscle atrophy) with some weighted HIIT classes (2-3 x per week), then some other general recovery exercises throughout the week (like walking/swimming).
N.B. An important point to remember is to fuel our body correctly, to optimise the benefits of whatever type of training protocol we follow. I try to balance this a slow carb (25%), medium fat(40%), high protein(35%), if possible.
- do as many wall push-ups, pull-ups (start on a chair), air squats, just before and 90 mins after meals, as you can (consider progressions)
- Replace car journeys with walking or cycling (great for the bank balance too)
Putting on fat doesn’t happen overnight, neither does fat loss, or composition changes. Consistency over the long term is the key. If you crack and have a tasty treat, or a day off exercise, make sure to enjoy it and start over the next day. James Clear has an excellent mindset/approach “I try to never miss two in a row”.
It’s not all about what you put in your mouth, keep active, and sleep well. Remember, losing anything from 1-2 pounds of fat per week really is winning.
The book(s): The Slight Edge/Atomic Habits
The hack: Simple, small and satisfying daily positive choices that move you in the right direction. Picture yourself winning, try to track how often you are choosing to take that action/behaviour, and enjoy all the small wins.
Albert Einstein is reputed to have said:
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.”
And I’m still a fat b*st*rd…