When it comes to being healthy, losing weight and slimming down. where should your focus be? Exercise or diet?
Both. Weight loss is achieved by burning more calories than you take in or consuming fewer than you burn.
Permanent weight loss and high energy levels are, for the most part, the result of a healthy balanced diet, and proper, challenging exercise. However, although exercise offers a wealth of health benefits, you cannot rely on it alone to control your weight loss. It is only half the equation and works hand in hand in partnership with your diet. They are a powerful pair.
Key behaviour for consistent, permanent weight loss
Engage in regular, challenging physical activity/exercise. Best to include both strengthening and cardio activities. Be of the mindset that you will enjoy your exercise session so you're not up against a fight with your mind every time you head to the gym.
Reduce calories slightly – and enjoy nutrient-rich meals and snacks. Avoid reaching for processed, fancy-packaged, sugar-laden foods. Try and get some quality protein at each meal or snack. You could work out every day and have off-the-chart motivation levels but if you are providing your body with poor nutrition, you will continue to suffer from low energy levels and likely gain weight – the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Don't adopt an unrealistic diet approach. It's best to make lifestyle changes and adopt new, achievable habits that are permanent rather than to try and lose weight with drastic, crash diets. If you cannot keep up your new diet habits after you've reached your ideal weight, you'll end up gaining all that weight back.
Ask yourself "can I live like this forever?" "Is this reasonable and sustainable? Short-term diets that you go on and off are not the answer to health and long-term weight loss either.
Enjoy regular meals – especially breakfast. It is the meal of champions. Give your brain and body the nutrient boost they need for the day and they will reward you with wise decisions, high energy and successful outcomes.
Keep a food diary if you need to lose fat – spending a few minutes daily registering your daily food intake has proven to have tremendous effects on successful outcomes.
Awareness. Monitor your progress. Research shows that those who keep track of their progress are much more likely to take weight off and keep it off. Set realistic goals that are achievable otherwise you've set yourself up for defeat.
Don't get derailed. The day you break your diet, or miss your first workout, don't compound the matter by getting negative. Stay real and realise small slip-ups will happen. Give yourself space to be human.
Exercise alone is inefficient and can even be counterproductive to weight loss (imagine eating a huge, fat-filled meal after working out) if you are not engaged in nutrient-dense, healthy eating. So, once you've got your ideal workout plan in place, it's time to focus on what and how often you're eating.
Unfortunately, many people underestimate their caloric intake while overestimating caloric expenditure. They'll take time to up their daily activity, hit the gym for 30 minutes or more (likely they enjoy that endorphin rush that the gym provides) but find it difficult to find time to prep healthy ingredients for their daily meals (no endorphin rush when chopping vegetables) or to set aside time to pack a healthy lunch for work. This in turn has them reaching for vending machine or fast-food unhealthy snacks and meals throughout the day that do nothing but destroy their dieting and workout efforts.
When it comes to dieting remember: calories count, portions count and nutrition counts. The key is to strive to develop good, healthy, achievable eating habits that last a lifetime.
The reality is, no matter your workout efforts, if your food choices are poor, your end results will be poor and you will never make any permanent progress with your fat/weight loss efforts. What you will achieve is a great deal of frustration – detrimental to your motivational levels. Your choice of diet is that important.
Remember, even a small amount of weight loss can result in huge differences in health benefits. Don't ditch the kitchen for the gym. Join their efforts. Health is gained in the gym while weight is lost in the kitchen. Your body needs both.