Disclaimer: Get ready for some tough love.
There's one question that I get asked more frequently than any other:
How can I get the body I've always wanted?
Usually, my answers contain one or more of the following tips:
- Work out hard for at least 30 minutes four times a week.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid processed foods and fill up on whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Don't eat past 7PM.
These are my tried and true tips for looking (and feeling) better, and I am certainly not keeping them a secret.
So, I wonder, why are these people not seeing any changes?
The past few days have been eye-opening for me, and now I think I know why some people are having trouble with these simple tips...
...it's those garbage excuses.
So here are my new and improved tips. Read closely.
TIPS FOR GETTING THE BODY YOU WANT
1. Wake up early.
I know it's hard. I know you're tired. When my alarm goes off at 5AM, I'm tired, too. So what do I do?
I grab my phone as soon as I shut off my alarm and start reading my notifications. I open e-mails, check Facebook and Instagram, read news articles... anything to get my eyes opened and my brain functioning. I give myself fifteen minutes with my phone to wake up and get my eyes adjusted to the light, and then, at 5:15 AM sharp, I get up and get dressed, far less groggy than I was fifteen minutes earlier.
"But I'm too tired!"
Were you tired when your alarm went off at 5AM because you had a vacation flight leaving? Probably! But you managed to get it done because there was something good on the other side of tired.
What if you had to get to work early for a major project? Would you let yourself fall back asleep? Probably not.
It has to be a priority. You have to figure out what works for you and get the hell out of bed.
Go to sleep earlier. Put your alarm on the other side of your room. Do whatever you have to do.
2. Drink water (and only water.)
This is something I struggle with, too, but it has to be done.
Soda, diet soda, tea, juice, wine, beer, and yes, even coffee: it has to go.
When you're thirsty, drink water. Period.
Coffee? Lattes? Frappuchinos? Say goodbye. They're full of sugar, fat and excess calories that you just don't need.
"But I need caffeine!"
I drink on cup of tea in the morning with a teaspoon of maple syrup and a splash of almond milk for caffeine.
The people who tricked you into believing that you need a 24 ounce cup of sugar, fat and garbage to wake you up in the morning are lying to you. Even the at-home coffee creamers are outrageously fattening. What you're drinking is a milkshake, and it's not the answer.
3. Stop eating crap.
Legitimate question: do you think that I am immune to the temptations of cookies, cakes, ice cream, muffins, wine, beer, cocktails, frappuchinos, cereal, candy, chocolate and bagels? Do you think I walk past a bakery and think "ew, everything in there looks disgusting" as I munch on broccoli?
I've got news for you: I like those things just as much as you do.
When I go to parties and everyone is drinking wine and eating desserts, I am equally as desperate to dive into the Chardonnay and those chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, but guess what? Nine times out of ten, I don't.
I am not some magical unicorn with the willpower of a God... I just respect the time and effort I've put into my body and am not going to ruin it for the few seconds of pleasure I'd get from food.
"But I lose control and eat junk when I'm stressed!"
Do you know what has never made any stressful situation better? Low self-esteem.
When I have a mile-long list of things to stress about, the last thing I want to add is "I've gained 5 pounds."
If you need to take a break from eating healthy every time there's something stressful happening in your life, guess what? You're never going to like the way you look, because there will ALWAYS be something stressful happening in your life. Get a hold of yourself and deal with your stress in a healthy way.
4. Go the f*@# to sleep.
In college, I could work until 11PM, party till 4AM, grab something to eat at the diner and be back to work at 6AM, still a little tipsy.
But guess what? I'm not in college anymore.
If you are staying up all night, you will never have the body that you want. Our bodies need sleep to reset and recover, and if you're depriving yourself of that, your body is going to crave sugar and carbs for energy and you'll never be able to pull yourself away from the donuts in the break room.
If you're staying up late and sleeping till noon, you're probably finding it hard to dedicate time to working out. I wonder why.
The solution is simple: go to sleep. You'll be prettier, happier, more energized and less stressed out.
5. Stop pretending that you're working out.
Life can be a non-stop production, and I'm not taking that away from you, but let's make one thing clear: vacuuming is not a workout.
Walking around the grocery store is not a workout.
These activities of daily living do not make you fit, because they're not new stresses placed upon the body. They're things you do regularly, and your body is used to them.
A workout is sweaty, uncomfortable, challenging and tiring.
That's not to say that the only worthwhile workouts are those of olympians - for you, 10 jumping jacks might be sweaty, uncomfortable, challenging and tiring... but that's why you're not doing them.
"But I do at-home DVD workouts every day!"
Those DVDs that you have might contain really great workouts, but when you're alone in your living room, are you actually doing them? Are you working with the appropriate weights for the entire duration of the exercise, or are you using the 5 pound weights you found in your basement and stopping halfway through the circuit when it starts to get tiring?
Working out at an appropriate level is challenging even for trainers (I often ask a friend to accompany me during my own workouts so I won't half-ass it once I get tired), but if you're not doing it, you're never going to see changes.
If it were easy, everyone with a DVD player would have a bangin' bod.
Get yourself some accountability (or an awesome trainer) and sweat.
6. Stop eating at night.
Nothing good happens in the kitchen after 7PM. Once dinner time is over, the kitchen needs to be closed. I know you want something sweet to snack on, but you can't give in to every little craving and have the body that you want, so sip on some herbal tea and entertain yourself some other way.
"But I'm hungry after dinner!"
Breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day, followed by a medium-sized lunch and a small but satisfying dinner. It's okay to be hungry right before bed - that means that you'll wake up on an empty stomach that's ready for the fuel of breakfast.
If you're truly hungry after dinner, you need to add more calories to the front end of your day, not the back end. Nighttime hunger is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.
Nighttime eating leads to heartburn, indigestion, poor sleep and morning fullness which leads to that all-too familiar pre-lunch starvation, during which you grab whatever junk food is closest to you.
Stop adding excess calories to your day with desserts and nighttime snacks. Eat dinner to satisfy yourself and then walk away.
7. Quit listening to people who don't know what they're talking about.
You've got to be selective about who you take fitness and nutrition advice from. I know there are a lot of workout and diet fads out there, but just because someone you know is drinking bulletproof coffee and eating pounds of bacon does not mean you have to join them.
These fads are designed to make it seem super easy and comfortable to get the body of your dreams:
"Eat all the butter and cream you want!"
"Never get your heart rate up!"
"Drink this protein shake and the weight will fall off!"
"10 minutes a day will get you six-pack abs!"
There's no way that you actually think butter, cream, some kind of shake, a low heart rate and/or 10 minutes will get you a good body, right?
So why do we fall for these things?
Because they're convenient and make us believe that it will be easy, and as a society, we love easy.
Stop listening to this garbage. You know what it's going to take - healthy eating and exercise. The next time you're at the store, pick up a copy of your favorite fitness magazine and let me know on what page the cover girl discusses her bacon diet and 10-minute workouts.
"But my great-aunt says..."
They all have something to say.
"You shouldn't eat potatoes and corn in the same day."
"You shouldn't do cardio if you're trying to build muscle."
"You need to drink a protein shake within 30 minutes of working out or else you'll lose muscle mass."
"Fruit will make you fat because it breaks down into sugar."
"A high protein diet is the only way to lose weight."
...if someone believes it, I've heard it.
But here's what I need you to ask yourself - do you want your great-aunt's body? Is she someone you should be taking advice from?
If so, go to town! I hope it works for you.
But in my experience, the people who tell you to skip the fruit and eat chicken wings are not people I would want to look like.
8. Toss the excuses.
I can't live without my coffee creamer.
I need junk food when I'm stressed.
I can't wake up early.
I need something sweet at night.
I don't have time to work out.
I am on my feet all day so I don't need to work out.
My mom/aunt/cousin/grandpa/neighbor/friend/coworker/dog-walker says I should ________.
I'm not motivated.
I'm a creature of habit.
Enough is enough. If you find yourself repeating any of the above when someone offers you a solution to your problem of hating the way you look and feel, it's time for a wake up call. Break up with your excuses.