In the next few blog posts we’re going to be talking about how to create changes in body composition. For most of you this will be defined as losing body fat and building muscle. An important point is that “building muscle” does not mean getting bigger. While muscle size may moderately increase, what we’re talking about it more along the lines of increasing density which improves the ability to burn fat. Most people are not going to see significant increases in muscles size (getting bulky) unless they are specifically training for that. Being someone who was the classic skinny guy most of my life let me assure you, no one is getting big by accident unless they have very specific genetics for it.
As I mentioned, we’ll be getting into much more detail on different pieces of the body composition puzzle, but for now I want to give you three things to meditate on.
1. The 30 day challenge myth: Achieving your body composition goals is not something that will be completed in 30 days. True sustainable changes in body composition take time, consistency and effort. Can you get lean in 30 days? Absolutely. Will you stay that way? Probably not. Remember when you didn’t study for that big test in college, then stayed up all night trying to learn everything and aced the test? That’s right, me neither. Most people who have participated in 30 day crash diets or fitness challenges have most likely done this several times. Wouldn’t you rather do it right just once?
2. Food tracking: You have to do it. Yes, you can definitely find someone who will tell you this isn’t true, but statistically it just is. You don’t have to be fanatical about it, but you need to at least know that your macros and calories are stable, and importantly be able to reference that data in the future if things start going in the wrong direction. That way you can go back in your logs to a time when everything was going the right way and analyze that data to get going in the right direction again.
3. Alcohol is not your friend: Full stop. You’ll find a lot of cool looking photos on the interwebs showing people lifting weights while drinking, but that is a photo opportunity and not reality. So if part of your routine is finishing the day with a glass or two of wine, you will have a very hard time getting lean. This is one of those points where it becomes a matter of what’s most important to you. It may be that having that glass of wine to de-stress at the end of the day is important to you, and that just means right now isn’t the time to expect an optimal result from your training. I’m not saying you should stop eating right and exercising, but you need to be realistic about your expectations.
As I roll into my 40’s (Okay, I’ve already been there a while) I have a renewed interest in this subject. When I was younger this was never a problem, and I would routinely hang out around 12% body fat without making any effort whatsoever. Now things have changed, and I have to refocus my efforts to stay fit and healthy. It’s important to understand that just because you are getting older, does not mean you just suddenly start deteriorating. You can still do all of the things you used to, you just have to be a little more focused, and in some cases get expert guidance on the subject.