3 steps to help you achieve your body composition goals
by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA
If weight loss or weight maintenance is one of your goals this year, understanding how to keep a good energy balance, how to burn calories with exercise and how to maintain lean muscle mass during the process may help you to finally achieve your body composition goal.
Many people I meet want to lose body fat, gain lean muscle mass and eventually maintain a healthy body weight. In my opinion, the only way to achieve this is to start with understanding your body and striving to find the best balance for you. We are all individuals with likes and dislikes, so finding your individual balance is the key to long- term success.
I feel that finding balance is not finding a set formula that you will stick to forever. Instead, it’s about making a commitment to adjusting to your body’s ever changing needs.
Today I want to give you some tips to help you make positive choices that will help to keep your body progressing toward your ultimate desired body composition. Here are my three tips that can help anyone—regardless of their current activity level.
Find balance with your nutrition plan
Controlling your nutrition with calorie intake and the types of foods you eat should be the primary focus of any healthy active lifestyle plan. In addition, exercise should always be part of your long-term body composition strategy because the health benefits associated with exercise are vast and definitely worth the time commitment.
Many people believe that if you’re exercising, you can eat what ever you want. The truth is that it’s very difficult to burn the number of calories found in just one large glass of soda. It’s true that exercise burns calories, but not enough to allow you to eat poorly. My favorite quote is “you can’t out train a bad diet.”
Burning calories with exercise is a pretty simple concept to understand. Calories are in essence your body’s fuel source. The more you move and the harder you work, the more overall fuel you will burn. The number of calories each individual burns varies from person to person and all exercises are not created equal when it comes to calorie burning. Thirty minutes of high intensity exercise will burn more overall calories than 30 minutes of low impact exercise. The mode of exercise you choose and the amount of time you commit to exercise can make a difference in your overall results.
Improving your body composition is not just a numbers game. You can’t just think about calories consumed vs. calories burned because the quality and source of the calories plays an important role. For example, 200 calories consumed by eating sugary fast food has a very different effect on your body than consuming 200 calories from fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why I always say that finding your balance through both diet and exercise is important to long-term body composition success.
Perform a balanced and well-rounded exercise routine
Exercise is essential for long-term weight management and achieving great body composition results. Performing a balanced routine that challenges you enough to improve, but doesn’t challenge your body to the point of injury is essential. A balanced routine should include stretching, an element of resistance training, and a focus on cardiovascular activities including an activity that helps you to improve your endurance level. You don’t have to combine all of these elements into one fitness session, but each week try to ensure you’ve checked each box. A great starting commitment is 30 minutes of exercise on five days of the week.
Make a mental commitment to becoming the best you can be
I often talk about finding your athlete mentality and believing in your body’s ability to achieve greatness. The majority of our physical actions start out as a thought, so if you keep your thoughts positive, your actions will tend to be positive too!
I understand that changing your thought process into a more positive mindset can be a challenge for many people, especially if they’ve struggled to achieve their ultimate body composition goals in the past. I believe that a change in attitude is a gradual process that involves making small changes that help boost your overall confidence. As your confidence level soars, positivity seems to follow naturally. Set yourself up for success by understanding it takes a nutritional, physical and mental commitment to achieve your goals. Start today and create positive healthy habits both physically and mentally. It makes long-term success more achievable.
I read a quote recently that said “The body achieves what the mind believes.” It made me get focused on my goals, and I hope reading this today will help you to do the same!
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.
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