This essay is about losing weight but it also doubles as a guide on how to live a healthy lifestyle. Overall, you will lead a better life if you make your lifestyle look something like 1 through 20.
1. Eat a Grain-Free Paleo/Primal diet
Health and longevity are centered around eating a Paleo or Primal diet (meat, leaves, berries). If you can’t go 100% grain-free Paleo (you can, BTW), you should, at the very least, be focusing on eating only unprocessed whole foods from nature. Eat real food in its real state.
Food is fuel. Only ingest the highest quality fuel you can find. Weight loss becomes effortless when you are eating real food.
2. Get lots of Sleep
I have clients that look at me sideways when I tell them they need to sleep 8+ hours a night. If you are one of these sleep-deprived zombies, I challenge you to try it for a week. You will be amazed by how you feel and where your body composition goes with this little experiment. You may realize that you have been in a chronic state of sleep deprivation your entire life.
3. Practice Intermittent Fasting (IF): Eat Less Often
I follow the leangains approach: a daily 8-hour feeding window followed by a 16-hour fast. Check it out: Leangains.com. Whether you follow a strict fasting protocol or not, you can definitely benefit by skipping meals on a regular basis. Contrary to popular belief, skipping meals can help you you build muscle (it also provides a ton of other health-related benefit).
4. Eat Slow and Chew Your Food Thoroughly
This has done WONDERS for me. I used to inhale food like a whale gobbling up plankton. I would just swim right through the food until it was gone in a matter of minutes. Eating slow enables some important triggers for weight loss:
1. You reduce the insulin spike by slowing the release of glucose into your blood stream. This prevents insulin, a storage hormone, from storing calories in your fat cells--more insulin = more fat storage.
2. You eat less. Eating slow lets you feel full faster while also reducing how many calories you eat. We all hate that full, bloated feeling. That is the result of eating too fast and not allowing the full trigger enough time to tell your brain to PUT DOWN THE DAMN FORK.
5. Cook Your Food at Home
Restaurant food is just bad. Restaurants use cheap salt, sugar, sauces, thickeners, stabilizers and all kinds of other unnatural crap to reduce costs, stay profitable, and keep the food addictive.
The average restaurant margin is well under 5%. You better believe they do everything they can to cut corners and save on food costs. When this happens, the customer is the one that gets stuck with the health bill.
6. Don't Drink Calories
When clients cut out soda/juices/beer they usually see 5+ pound weight-loss results within the first week. Drinking calories elicits a similar negative response on insulin levels that eating your food too fast does. The calories enter your blood stream too quickly and cause an overload of insulin. We are made to chew our food. Avoid drinking calories in any form.
7. Go Completely Gluten-Free
This can be life changing. Clean out your pantry and be super picky when eating out (say no to the free bread). This could be the missing link to that lean body you've been trying to achieve.
8. Don't Snack. Snacking is The Bane of Weight Loss
One of the reasons Intermittent fasting is so effective is because it regulates your hormone levels through balancing your body between the fasted and fed states. Your body is made to burn fat when in the ‘fasted’ state and made to store calories when in the ‘fed’ state. Every time you put calories in your mouth you are entering the ‘fed’ state and thus shutting off your bodies ability to burn fat by introducing insulin into your blood stream.
Next time you grab that bag of almonds thinking it’s a healthy snack, you should think again; you are actually doing your body a disservice. Eat only during your meal times.
9. Take High Quality Fish Oil With Every Meal And/Or Eat Sardines
Fish oil contains omega-3’s that help to balance out the omega-6’s that are prevalent throughout our modern diets (especially processed foods). Correcting this balance provides a major benefit to the body, especially weight loss.
10. Take Vitamin D or Get Sunlight Every day
This could be the missing link in your weight loss efforts. Vitamin D is a hormone that is integral to many processes in your body. Take a vitamin D soft-gel or get 20 minutes of sunlight every day.
11. Reduce Stress at All Costs
Do everything you can to reduce and avoid stress. Every time you get angry, stressed, or freak-out about something it is like taking a bite out of a candy bar. Stress releases cortisol and insulin into your blood stream just like taking a bite of your favorite candy bar.
As we discussed earlier, the extra release of insulin halts fat-loss and promotes fat-gain (cortisol also messes shit up). That’s a bad combination don’t you think? Take a chill pill and BREATHE.
12. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the act of focusing on a single object or task and turning off the rest of the noise (thoughts, worry, stress) going through your head. This helps with number 11 in lowering and preventing chronically raised cortisol and insulin levels. Our hormones get all out of whack as a result of our mind tormenting us with worry, stress, anger, resentment, jealously, and all kinds of other shit we shouldn’t be worrying about.
Techniques for being mindful: Counting your breath (breath meditation), sitting in a quiet place and emptying the mind (meditation), going outdoors and focusing on the sights and sounds (a form of meditation). I’m not a pro here, just a student, so I suggest you do some more research on your own. A little practice goes a long way.
Recommended book: The Power of Now
13. Eliminate Sugar
It’s the absolute worst thing you can eat. Remember, fat doesn't make you fat; sugar, seed oils, and processed grains are what make you fat.
14. Eat lots of High-Quality Fat
Fatty fish, grass-fed beef, lamb, bison, coconut oil, olive oil (I prefer it unheated), Kerrygold butter, avocado oil, macadamia oil, ghee, lard (make your own), tallow (make your own).
Fat is the most neglected nutrient for most people because of all the misinformation and anti-fat dogma that started in the 60's. As a result, the majority of people still don’t understand how important fat is to the human body (especially for women and their wacky hormones).
Let me tell you something that is going to blow your mind: YOU SHOULD BE GETTING MOST OF YOUR CALORIES FROM FAT. Yes, this means 40%, 50%, and up to 60% of your total calories should come from quality fat sources.
Next time you sit down to eat, look at your plate. Are half or more of the total calories from fat? If not, go in the kitchen and grab more.
15. Eat lots of High-quality Animal Products
Keywords include: grass-fed, free range, pastured, organic, all-natural, hormone-free, humanely raised, family farms, local.
Your diet should look something like this:
Protein 30-35% of calories or more
Fat 35-60% of calories or more
Carbs in the form of starches/veggies = ~25% or less
Remember, these are just averages. Everyone is different and some will prefer lower carbs while others will do well on higher carbs. Tweak and experiment to find what works for you.
16. Perform Resistance Training ~3 times a week
You probably already know why this is beneficial. Just do it.
17. Perform High-Intensity Conditioning ~3x Week
Think intervals; short, fast, and hard. Avoid long distance and moderately paced exercise as the bulk of your training.
18. Walk Everywhere
Take the stairs, park at the end of the parking lot, walk the long way. We are made to move at a slow pace often. Get up and get moving.
19. Play Sports
Great for overall health, mental relief, muscle building, mobility, social development, etc. We have been playing games since the dawn of man.
20. Get Outdoors as Much as Possible
Check out the book based off of this article with more tips and expanded explanations of protocols![/caption]
The first 20 are the fundamentals to living a healthy life. As you adopt more and more of this list, you will notice that you become a fat-burning machine, and you’ll soon realize how easy it is to tweak your weight based on what you do or don’t do. I recommend you incorporate these habits a little at a time until they become routine. Don’t try to adopt them all at once or you will probably get frustrated and fail.
More Tips For Weight Loss:
21. Drink a full glass of water before each meal
You will feel full faster and eat less as a result.
22. Eat your protein before your carbs and fat
Protein is very satiating and will fill you up fast.
23. Eat a bit of healthy fat 15 minutes before each meal
Fat triggers the release of hormones that signal your brain that you are full. You can kickstart these hormones by nibbling on some nuts or dark chocolate before your meals.
24. Eat hot and hearty soups and stews
Soups and stews are filling. Eat them HOT and slow (prevents overeating).
Fast, intense, full-body exercise like sprinting has insane thermogenic and EPOC effects on the body. Basically, it turns your body into a calorie-burning furnace. Sprinting also builds massive muscle (compare a pic of a sprinter to a marathon runner...scary).
26. Make things difficult for yourself (on purpose)
Why would you ever do this? So you can move more, DUH!
The more movement you perform, the more calories you burn. Instead of always taking the easiest route, try this: grit your pussy willow lip and get moving.
27. Buy some Chuck Taylors or olympic lifting shoesundefined
The more weight you move, the more calories you burn and more muscle you build.
28. Drink green tea
Green tea is full of antioxidants and a bit of caffeine--both good for fat burning.
29. Chew More
Chewing has been linked to improvement in digestion and breakdown of food through the release of the saliva enzymes amylase (starch breakdown) and lipase (fat breakdown).
30. Drink black coffee (in moderation)
Coffee offers many benefits to the body, one of which is fat burning, but there are some caveats. You should drink black and organic if possible. Only buy the best Coffee beans as they are one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. Get Wild Coffee.
31. Take a digestive enzyme, probiotic, and/or eat fermented food regularly
These products improve gut health and digestion. The better you digest your food, the better it is utilized in the body and the less likely it is to be converted into adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is FAT ladies and gentlemen, the jiggly, cellulitely, unpleasant kind of fat.
32. Perform heavy, complex, functional movements
Anything that trains the body as a whole is going to eat up calories for fuel. If you are stuck in isolation-land, I implore you to start picking up, carrying, and moving heavy shit on a regular basis. Go big and compound, or go home.
33. Avoid liquid food
And yes, that includes protein shakes. You should avoid liquid calories in any form if you are trying to lose weight. We know that drinking calories produce a large insulin spike and we also know that insulin is a storage hormone that signals our body to store calories. Well, do you know where those calories get stored? Yup, as fat.
Disclaimer: If you drink a shake in lieu of eating a meal, then I say it’s not that bad as long as you keep it simple and low-carb. Avoid those 500-calorie oat, peanut butter, and fruit smoothie concoctions (those are for weight gain). If it keeps you from eating shit and you want to drink a shake, then stick with water and whey and drink it slow.
34. Skip the condiments
How did I lose 10 pounds and finally carve out my abs after many years of frustration? Dropping ketchup. I used to drown my chicken breasts in ketchup; they were swimming. Eliminating this single product allowed me to bust through a stubborn plateau.
Store bought condiments are filled with sugar and other processed crap. There is no reason to include them in your diet, especially considering how easy it is to substitute them with a homemade or organic option. These seemingly small tweaks are what separate those that have abs from those that don’t.
Stick with organic mustard or homemade ketchup.
35. Drink lots of water
You don’t need to drink as much water as the pundits would have you believe, but for reducing cravings and making you feel full more often, water is useful. Listen to your thirst; it’s there for a reason.
36. Think hard - Use your brain
Your brain's primary fuel source is glucose, so obviously it is beneficial to use up as much of it as possible so there isn't any leftover to be stored as fat.
37. Perform Tabata intervals
A Tabata interval is 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Pick a movement—Air squat for example—and start a timer. Perform as many air squats in 20 seconds as possible, and then rest. Go after 10 seconds of rest. Repeat until 4 minutes is up and 8 rounds have been completed. The Tabata Interval is a brutal, effective, and simple exercise protocol that you can do with any exercise or movement.
38. Replace soda, juice, sweet tea with a soda water and lime (sparkling and seltzer also work)
This is how my sister and I weaned off soda (a long time ago). It allowed us to satisfy our craving for carbonation without the calories or sugar. You can even fake it at the club with a soda water and lime—you will still look super-cool and no one will know you are just sipping bubbly water.
39. Do NOTHING
Relieve stress by turning off your brain and laying around like a fat-lazy Jabba the Hutt. This is something some of us do well (or too much) and others do terribly (never relax).
Examples of doing nothing include: watching mindless TV, movies, people watching, lying on the beach, napping.
40. Take naps
Sleep is one of the top 5 techniques for living a healthy life. Naps consist of sleep. Thus naps do a body good (milk does not).
41. Get social
Humans are social animals that have survived for thousands of by staying together. The benefits of enjoying time with friends and family are enormous. Anything that improves happiness and makes us feel good will help us lose weight by reducing stress.
42. Fast before you train and/or after you train
The longer you go without food in your body the more you will burn stored fat. Training increases your body’s need for fuel. Your body will utilize fat stores for fuel if there is a lack of glucose in your blood stream. Fasting helps keep glucose out of your bloodstream so your body can burn off fat instead.
43. Watch your carb intake
This includes sugar, rice, potatoes, fruit, and grains (hopefully no grains). Even good carbs can become bad if you eat too much of them.
44. Take ZMA before bed (Zinc, Magnesium & Vitamin B-6)
ZMA is hands down my favorite supplement. Not only does magnesium aid in weight loss and a host of other bodily functions, it improves sleep as well. You will sleep deeper, fuller, and longer. This should be a standard supplement in everyone’s program.
45. Do HIIT Training
Seriously, everyone can and should do some form of high-intensity interval training. You can do more WODs, Less WODs, strength-bias, endurance-bias, gymnastics-bias, powerlifting-bias, etc. It is great for GPP (general Physical Preparedness) and it results in a sexy bod.
46. Utilize active-rest days
Those days where you can barely walk and your back feels like a giant bruise (I heart that feeling) are days that you should avoid training. This is the perfect time for an active-rest day.
An active rest day looks like this: Work mobility, do some light rowing or jogging, work on Oly technique with an empty barbell, foam roll, stretch, etc.
Go at a slow and easy, yet deliberate, pace. This will improve recovery, reduce stress on your body, help recover your CNS, and get your body moving. This also improves fat burning and muscle building.
47. Opt for gluten-free hard cider over gluten-filled beer, and opt for liquor+soda water over sugar-filled mix drinks
Beer and mixed drinks are the Antichrist to your abs. A long island ice tea has 780 calories and about 40 grams of sugar. I used to drink those [Smacks forehead]. Try this drink recipe by Robb Wolf.
48. Avoid artificial sweeteners
This includes Splenda, aspartame, and other 'naturally flavored' sweeteners. Sweeteners spike your insulin levels because your brain can't tell the difference between them and sugar. Thus the body response ends up being the same. They also might cause cancer. It just makes sense to avoid them. *Stevia is ok but I would still go light with it.
49. Don't overtrain
Avoid overtraining at all costs. It saps weight-loss efforts and promotes fat-gain via the huge amount of cortisol release you release into your body.
50. Plan ahead/pack a lunch
The best way to avoid falling off the wagon and eating junk is to be prepared. Always have something healthy with you. One-pot meals, the crockpot, and large roasts are great for making meals ahead of time.
How to Implement
Step 1: Be patient
Your new habits will take time to implement, and to show results. The people who get shit done in life are the one’s who stay the course. Stay the damn course.
Step 2: Test, Tweak, Test, Tweak
You must test and tweak regularly to find what works for you. All of these techniques will work for everyone to varying degrees if implemented in their purest forms, however, the dose and result can be vary wildly from person to person.
No matter what, we will always be learning, growing, and improving if we put in the effort.