Yesterday I gave you a general guideline for how to tackle your transformation and a sneak peak into how I plan to tackle mine. Today let’s take a look at specifics.
As you probably noticed, the biggest and most important part of the equation is diet. You cannot work off a bad diet! Now, I don’t believe in counting calories or eating “diet” foods. Instead, I believe in eating a “clean” and balanced diet full of wholesome foods. (Note: if you have medical/health concerns you should consult your doctor before changing your diet. I am NOT a doctor or a nutritionist and can only share what has worked for me and people I know)
What Is A “Clean” Diet?
- Eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. No processed junk
- Eating small, frequent meals to speed up metabolism and keep you satisfied! DO NOT skip meals! (Read about Karina Baymiller’s transformation here and how eating more helped her lose weight)
- Meals should include protein, complex carbohydrates, fibrous carbohydrates (veggies), healthy fats and a small amount of fruits. A couple hours before bed, cut out the complex carbs (for me this is the last two meals of the day)
- Protein sources: chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, whey protein powder, beans
- Complex (Good) Carbs: Ezekiel bread, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, quinoa (also high in protein)
- Fibrous Carbs: veggies, the greener the better!
- Healthy (Good) Fats: avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, nut butters
- Stay away from sugars, white carbs and fried foods but don’t deprive yourself completely. Schedule cheat meals once or twice a week if you need to. Doing this has really helped me in the past! Read more about cheat days here.
- Drink lots of water! I aim for a gallon a day. Don’t drink your calories (i.e. nix the soda and fruit drinks)
- If you are hungry, EAT!!! Do NOT starve yourself! Keep nuts, protein powder, apples, and other quick foods handy for when hunger strikes to hold you over until the next scheduled meal time.
Where to Start in the Weight Room
The second most important part of the equation is weightlifting. There is a huge misconception amongst people, especially women and beginners at the gym about weightlifting. YES you should be lifting heavy to challenge your muscles and No, you will NOT get bulky! Cardio is not the key! Weightlifting will help you develop muscle tone and a figure! It will also help you burn more calories, even when you are NOT working out. That’s probably my favorite part. For those of you new to weights here is a little guide to get you started!
- Workouts should be broken down by the following body parts: biceps, triceps, chest, back, shoulders, abdominals, legs, glutes (Note: there are other methods to approaching weightlifting but this is the one I use and will discuss on here)
- To find different exercises I recommend visiting bodybuilding.com’s exercise database where you can search by body part. These are all good exercises and require equipment found in most gyms.
- Choose 1-2 muscle groups per workout
- Perform 3-4 exercised per muscle group
- Each exercise should consist of 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps
- Sets are the # of times you perform a group of reps
- Reps are the # of times you perform the movement/exercise
- For example, let’s say you do 3 sets of 12 reps of push-ups. This means you do 12 push-ups without stopping, rest, and repeat 2 more times
- Never train the same muscle group more than once in a 48 hour period
How Much Weight? How Many Reps?
- The weight you choose should be light enough that you can perform the exercise without strain and without compromising form but heavy enough that the last few reps burn – in a good way!
- If you can do more than 15 reps easily, you should increase the weight
- If you cannot complete at least 8 reps without struggling, decrease the weight.
- Always start light and work your way up to avoid injury
- Once you find a weight that works, pay attention during future workouts. When that weight starts getting too easy, increase the weight and decrease your reps
What about Cardio?
The third part of the equation is cardio. You will notice in my pyramid I have 5 scheduled cardio sessions per week, 3 HIIT and 2 steady. If you are just starting out you will probably want to scale that back, a lot
- HIIT stands for high intensity interval training and is short, intense bursts of cardio followed by short rest periods. This type of cardio is great for fat burning. If you are a beginner, however, you may want to steer clear or limit the amount of HIIT. Why? You do not want to counteract your hard work in the weight room. HIIT is intense and can keep your muscles from repairing properly. This could lead to injury and halt your progress.
- Steady cardio is just that — cardio at a steady, mild pace. This could be walking outside, walking inside on the treadmill either uphill or flat surface, or hitting the elliptical. This may not feel as productive as a HIIT session but its actually much more!
- My general advice is this, if you are just getting started aim for 3-4 cardio sessions a week consisting of 20-40 minutes of steady cardio.
Now that you have my general guide for diet, weights and cardio you are ready to get started! Here’s what you should do next
- WRITE your goals down somewhere. You are more likely to complete something if you write it down.
- Take a before picture. You will wish you had when you start seeing progress!
- PLAN!! Take a look at your schedule, decide when you need to eat and what meals you will need to make ahead of time and/or pack. And of course, schedule time at the gym. Don’t wing it. Set a date and make it!
Tip of the day: carry a one liter water bottle with you throughout the day and use rubber bands to keep track of how much you are drinking. At the beginning of the day wrap four rubber bands around the bottle and every time you fill up, transfer one to your wrist. This way you always know how much you’ve drank (# of rubber bands on your wrist) and how much you have to go (# of rubber bands on your bottle) You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget!