How do you know when you should bulk vs. when you should cut?
Are you a healthy body weight? What are your long term goals? Are you training for an event, or gene...
| November 2, 2021
Read time: 5 min.
Do you ever get a sudden swing of motivation, start to hit the gym 3-5x a week and go on a strict diet, all to crash and burn within a couple weeks, if not days? Girl, same. This is a common cycle seen especially in women, so I dedicate this list especially for you. Break out of the cycle and create real change, without psychologically destroying yourself in the process.
If you’re not accustomed to working out, do not start with the goal of hitting the gym 5x a week. That’s a lot of training frequency, even for someone who’s advanced. Start with 2-3 times max, and enlist a workout buddy to join you, preferably someone who’s generally reliable. You’re much less likely to skip out on a friend than yourself, helping you stay accountable. In addition, pick a style of working out that you actually enjoy. You will not keep up with a workout program that you absolutely hate long term.
Read More: How To Overcome Fear Of The Gym
Even if your ultimate goal is to lose weight, do not focus on weight loss alone. If you focus on nailing healthy habits, the weight loss will come, and you’ll enjoy the process a lot more. Nail your sleep, get 20-30g of fibre daily, workout 2-3x a week, go for walks daily, drink 33ml/kg of bodyweight daily, etc! Get excited about making changes, working on one step at a time. Real change takes time, so show yourself some grace if the habits take longer than you’d like them to. Move on to the next habit once one has become second nature for you.
Research shows blood sugar disruptions after even 1 night of poor sleep, making you crave sweets and fast acting carbs. While having sweets isn’t ‘bad,’ it’s tough to create a caloric deficit when you’re hungry for sweets all the time. Appetite regulation is important for long term weight control, so make sure you’re prioritizing your sleep!
Have 1-2 ‘fists’ of vegetables with every major meal. This will help you reach your fibre quota, keeping you fuller, longer. Even when you’re on a diet, you should feel slightly ‘hungry,’ but not starving. Feeling hungry all the time will inevitably cause you to reach for quicker, usually higher calorie foods. Pick vegetables you actually enjoy, and make it a habit to eat them daily. Salads, potatoes, oatmeal, roasted vegetables and clear broth vegetable soups can help keep you full, so you don’t feel restricted.
Getting 7-10k steps daily goes a long way to maintain weight loss. Did you know the average American gets around 3k steps daily? The bulk of our calories burned daily are from accomplishing your day to day tasks, not working out in the gym. Finding small ways to increase your daily step count can really make a difference. Parking further away from the store, walking your dog, going for short walks on your lunch hour are all useful ways to increase your step count.
This is more of a mindset check. You WILL fall off track some times! It happens to absolutely everyone. Do not let this get to you! Vacations, grief, loss of jobs happen, and you might find yourself up extra weight around this time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Get back on track when it makes the most sense for you.
This one is a big one, because there’s a lot of people out there who don’t enjoy drinking water. If this is you there’s a lot of ways you can make it more enjoyable for yourself. Infuse water with citrus, mint, herbal teas, fresh fruit, mio sweetener, etc! Make the water taste desirable, and you’ll find yourself reaching for it more often throughout the day. Aim for 33ml/kg of bodyweight to start. If your urine is still turning out dark yellow, you’ll need to bump up your water intake more.
Set yourself some performance based goals so you don’t get too hung up on what you’re looking like. We’re constantly bombarded with images of very lean women, making it tough to look at yourself objectively. When you’re focused on getting your first push up, or getting your first barbell squat, it helps detach from what you look like, and get excited about what your body can do instead.
If you mind or your mental health is suffering from being on social media, either take a break from it altogether or change who you follow. Remember, you decide who shows up on your feed. If it’s not a pleasant experience for you, change it! Follow people who inspire you, teach you, or make you feel good.
Once you reach a behaviour based goal, celebrate yourself! Life whizzes by so quickly, we often forget to reflect how far we’ve come. Set aside small ways to celebrate yourself once you reach a goal. Buy those shoes, go out for dinner, bake yourself a cake, get a manicure, it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is you’re taking time to celebrate YOU.
Losing weight and keeping it off is entirely possible. Avoid looking at it as some short term date you’ll reach a particular weight by, and get excited about making permanent lifestyle changes. Once these habits become deeply rooted they do not feel like a drag, they just become the way you live. Not only that, but you’ll begin to experience more energy, better sleep, better sex, mood regulation and so much more. Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t a drag, it’s enjoyable. When you’re in the process of change, however, it will challenge you. You initially won’t want to do it, which is why it’s so important to take things slowly, and focus on one thing at a time. I promise you can do it, albeit might not be on your desired timeline.
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