With the most dramatic shift of the decade, we finally step into 2021. While it's true that the majority of the past year can be summed up in a single word - negative, there are still some bright takeaways that helped us cling on to sanity, in 2020. The drastic shift in the world's perspective towards the significance of health and fitness, I believe, was the most rewarding outcome and something that we all should be grateful for.
Throughout the year of lockdown, we saw multiple dialogues being initiated about different aspects of health and fitness - trends, challenges, influencers, etc playing a major role in spreading awareness. Individuals, while in lockdown, engaged in fitness activities and some even transformed it into their passion, however, the ones who struggled to keep up with their fitness goals were the beginners.
While social media stayed high on workout and nutrition related content, most of it was generic in nature and proved ineffective for beginners. As the concerns regarding proper fitness guidance remain the same, it is crucial for individuals to develop an awareness of their body-type and plan accordingly. And proper planning is significant - if we fail to plan, we plan to fail. So, let’s understand how one can strategize their fitness regime, starting with the understanding of the basics
1. Start tracking food/calorie intake
Studies suggest that most people underestimate their caloric intake. You can start by using tracking apps and a kitchen scale to get a fair idea of how much you are eating and make sure that you do not ignore small snacks and weekend calories. At least, track your calorie intake for initial 3-4 weeks until you do not develop an understanding of macros and calorie functionality.
2. Set target calories
Energy balance is the most fundamental principle to maintain the right trail for your goals. BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) refers to the survival calories and TDEE is the number of total calories an individual burns in a day. If your goal is to lose weight, consume 300-500 lesser calories than your TDEE to stay in a calorie deficit. Similarly, if you want to gain weight or muscles, consume 200-300 more calories than the TDEE. You can easily calculate your BMR and TDEE through multiple calculators available on the internet.
3. Set your macronutrient target
To balance your macros right, plan your consumption according to the following -
Protein - 1.2-1.8 gm of your body weight.
Fat - 25-30% of your total calories.
Carbohydrates - the remaining calories to reach the target.
Try to compose your diet mostly with whole foods - minimize packaged foods.
4. Exercise according to your goal
If you are a beginner then just focus on being active - start with 30 mins of walking every day and gradually, move towards specific workouts. If your goal is fat loss, weight training is the most effective and beneficial way; if you are training for a marathon then focus on running, and if your goal is flexibility and balance then include yoga in your regime.
5. More is not always better
It's typical that people start trying too hard in the beginning - either they start eating too less or workout for hours to accelerate their results. We suggest, "Don’t do that, it’s counterproductive." There is always a sweet spot, let’s adhere to that for pleasing and long-lasting results. Eat as per your target calories - not more, not less.
6. Sleep is vital
As millennials, we are a sleep-deprived generation. It would not be wrong to blame social media that has made us compromise our sleep and we need to acknowledge this, in order to get better. Quality sleep is like a reset button for our body - our body repairs when we are asleep. Moreover, studies show that sleep deprivation causes an increase in the cravings for calorie-dense foods and negatively affects our insulin sensitivity and thyroid. Avoid phone and caffeine as much as you can, before bedtime.
7. Stress can sabotage progress
Chronic stress is another byproduct of our generation's lifestyle. When we fail to manage our stress, it certainly affects our food choices; we tend to skip our workouts or lack performance, and reduce our sleep quality - before you realize, it becomes a vicious circle. To reduce stress, engage in meditation, reading, journaling, and leisure walking.
Rome wasn’t built in a day; we did not add that extra weight in a week or two - it takes months and years for changes to appear - positive or negative. Every worthwhile thing needs time but it's unfortunate that most people have false expectations about the progress and hence they give up too soon, or keep jumping from one diet to another and never progress.
9. Be accountable
Last but not least - set some serious goals and share them with your spouse/friend/kids or someone whom you love and trust. You can even become a part of a community of like-minded people to seek constant inspiration or hire a coach who will plan out everything for you and keep you accountable. Accountability improves your adherence and magic starts to happen when we are at least 80% adherent to our plans.
The author is the Founder & CEO of MyHealthBuddy