There really aren’t that many “rules” when it comes to fat loss, building muscle, and living a fit and happy lifestyle. It’s basic math and common sense.
You don’t need to go low-carb, gluten-free, eat two cups of kale and acai berries every day or increase your heart rate to its max rate during every hour-long workout seven days a week. You don’t need to own a wearable heart rate monitor. You don’t EVER need to starve yourself, and you don’t even need to drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day.
So what do you need?
You need to move. Move well, and move often. To burn calories without increasing your appetite, walk. To burn calories at rest, after your workout, strength train three times a week, and do one or two high-intensity workouts a week—15-20 minutes will do.Use your own body’s weight for resistance. Use external weights. Learn the correct form for moving these loads so you don’t get injured and quit before you’ve even begun. Keep your core braced and your spine tall in most cases. Pay attention to your movements and your muscles during your workouts.
For fat loss, restrict your calories, but only as little as necessary. 1200 calories a day is not a goal for most people. If you start there and hit a plateau, there’s nothing left to cut without losing your period and growing fur. Eat as many calories as you can but still lose weight. The easiest, simplest equation is to multiply your weight by 12. If you have more than 15 pounds to lose, multiply your GOAL weight by 12. That’s the amount of calories to strive for daily, provided that you are training 3-5 times a week.
The easiest way to stick to a calorie-restricted regimen is to prioritize protein. We’ve covered this before. Don’t eat more than 200 grams though.
Eat the foods you enjoy. There is no need to cut out grains, gluten, dairy, etc. UNLESS you have a medical condition or you have learned that such foods cause pain. Eat mostly nutrient-dense whole, unprocessed foods. Don’t eat a lot of crap. This is common sense. If you pig out on pizza and beer one night, go for the kale smoothie the next day. You CAN make up for a binge as long as the binge doesn’t occur more than once a week. Some people call these cheat meals. They ONLY work if the rest of your week is restricted and on point. The week’s tally should be your guide. This gives you room to socialize with a little less stress that you’re going to blow it.
Be patient and don’t quit. Changing your body composition takes time, the same way your current body composition did not happen overnight. The first week or two of your program will not result in much of a change but after a month, if you’re adhering to all of the above 80-90% of the time, you WILL see results. Find exercises you enjoy and/or a group of like-minded people you can train with. Find a place to exercise that’s close to home. Minimize opportunities to make excuses. Buy some cute workout clothes. You definitely need to do that.
I hope this helps you simplify your regimen and take some of the questions and complications away, to leave you more time to train hard, eat well and achieve all your goals. If all goes well, this new lifestyle can be permanent. In fact, PERM is a great acronym for the above: Patience, Enjoyment, Restrict calories, Move.