Follow these simple rules and you'll stay on track to a slimmer, fitter you... even if you never seem to have the time
Remember the structured days and times you ran and went to the gym in preparation for the mini-marathon? Maintaining fitness and a toned, lean body that is firm is a result of maintenance of habits over time, both training and nutrition. So I want to give you some key habits that will help you be fit for life when you are time poor and facing a stressful lifestyle.
1 Know Your Why?
Everyone I consult with wants to tone up, lose weight and get fitter. But why? Clarify the benefits of how achieving the above goals of hitting your target weight or body shape will benefit the different areas of your life.
Think of the benefits in terms of your children, relationships, social and entertainment life, career and finances.
You will be a better role model, feel more self-confident with higher self-esteem with your partner and you will get to wear the clothes from your 'skinny wardrobe' without having to buy clothes that you don't even like in a bigger size.
The more reasons you can find, the easier it will be for you to move from needing to be motivated to train to feeling inspired to train, make better food selections and to lead a healthier life.
2 Put on your own oxygen mask first
Each time you step on an airplane, the air steward reminds you that in the case of an emergency, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first, before you tend to your children.
The same is true with fitness. Never skip breakfast. Get out of bed 15 minutes earlier to eat your own breakfast before you feed your children.
It's less stressful to you and your digestive system when the alternative is either skipping breakfast or eating a nutrient-poor breakfast bar and a cup of coffee in the car as you drop the kids off at school or summer camp.
3 Your schedule never lies
If your health is important to you, structure in your training on set days and set times. Never sacrifice your time for yourself.
You send your children to school on set days and times. Why? Because it gives them structure and discipline and it ensures the job gets done. It should be the same with your health.
4 Stay focused
You will get better results by keeping your workouts structured in time, higher in intensity and shorter in duration.
We get the maximum release from our hormones that help build muscle after about 20-40 minutes.
Muscle increases our resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the number of calories we burn without moving and that is our goal every time we train.
Cortisol is the name of the stress hormone that is the Grinch of building a better body. It robs your body of your fat-burning muscle.
5 Start weight training
When you lift weights, you help increase or maintain your bone density. Perform repetitions of between 10-15, with short rest intervals, to create a burning sensation in the muscle that makes you feel you can't go on.
The time under tension, or length of time your muscle is working on each set, should be at least 40-75 seconds.
By doing this we create lactate, which changes the PH of the blood to release growth hormone from the pituitary gland.
Growth hormone helps us burn sugar and amino acids as energy, but helps you build your fat-burning muscle, which will ultimately help you melt fat.
6 Lift heavier weights for lower repetitions
Once you have been doing strength training for a while, you will need to reduce the number of repetitions and give yourself longer rests of two to three minutes between sets.This way, you can change the hormonal response from the exercise you perform and you can create more muscle.
Women are misled by too much false information being circulated. Your body has many different muscle-fibre types.
Some are responsible for strength and some for much-needed endurance
Why just train some of the muscles? Testosterone, which is crucial for muscle building, is in short supply in women. In fact, they produce nearly 10 times less testosterone than men.
7 Perform High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Start doing an interval-training programme that is anaerobic, which means your body operates without the presence of oxygen.
HIIT is one form of this. It helps build muscle and it also raises Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), the number of calories your body uses after training.
By combining strength training and HIIT, you can elevate your EPOC for up to 38 hours after training, which means that your body will become hungry for more nutrients to replenish it.
8 Look at your nutrition
Stress causes the release of the hormone cortisol, which changes the way we feel about ourselves. We place stress on our body by skipping meals, going to bed late and by dehydrating ourselves.
High stress levels or low blood sugar levels often cause us to reach for foods that make us feel better temporarily, but which in turn transform to sugar and subsequently take up residence on our hips and bellies.
9 Make your bedroom a Bat Cave
It's important for rest and regeneration and use dark blinds that help make your bedroom pitch black at nighttime.
Use a battery-operated alarm clock, not your phone. Mobile phones increase stress levels by keeping your mind engaged when you should be resting.
10 Make friends with magnesium
Improve your sleep quality and insulin sensitivity by supplementing your diet with magnesium.
Most people are deficient in this mineral, even more so during spells of hot weather when we sweat it out through our pores.
Damien Maher is the owner of Be Fit For Life Transformation Centre in South Dublin. He has utilised his knowledge to develop the Be Fit For Life Fat Loss System. For more information, log on to www.befitforlife.ie