A gym is an amazing place. You lift some weights, break some personal bests, get a sweat on, and feel great. High-intensity-interval-training is even better. It puts you with like-minded individuals who are all pushing their bodies to reach new goals. The camaraderie felt and competitive spirit in those gyms can be amazing motivation to keep turning up and change your lifestyle. Yet the sad reality is that just keeping active is not enough to change your body shape, lose that gut, or become a healthy person. This is all decided in the kitchen.
Someone once told me that abs are 90% made in the kitchen. If you want to look fit and healthy you need to do your work in the gym but the work you do in the kitchen is far more important. I know from experience that when I do a tough workout I allow myself to eat a big burger or a large slice of cake because I have earned it. In reality, I am just undoing all the good work that I have done.
If you are going to the gym three to five times a week, that is fantastic. If you are following a program or have a personal trainer that is helping you to reach your goals, even better. However, if you are doing all of this without a structured approach to your diet then it is a waste. You need to think about diet to achieve anything. I know some people are reading this right now and say “I go to the gym to allow myself to eat the delicious treats I like” and that is perfectly ok. If that is as far as you want to take your goals then I understand. However, if you either want to look good or do better in the gym, the diet will be a key determinant.
You can start with small steps. Ensure you are fuelling your body for the gym so that you are maximizing the sessions. This means a light snack (banana is a great one) before the gym, plenty of water during, and possibly a snack or protein shake after.
When I grew up I was obsessed with eating large meals, it was as if I could never get full. I took pride in being able to eat three burgers in one sitting. Now I know that this means I never feel full even when I have had enough food. The key to the kitchen is having small or standard portion meals throughout the day. While it is possible to do well with three meals a day it is much easier with five smaller sized meals. Counting your calories is a great way to ensure success.
A good rule to follow is the 80% 20% rule. As long as you are eating 80% healthy, then 20% unhealthy won’t do any damage. This could mean one cheat day a week where you eat healthy lean foods for six days and then for one day you allow yourself to get that treat at the bakery or eat that pizza. However, don’t go overboard with the cheat day either. While The Rock loves to post insane pictures of his cheat meals, you do not need as many calories in your diet as The Rock so still behave with a little bit of moderation.
Discipline is the key to success in both the kitchen and the gym. The best way to train discipline is to set goals and stick to them. Once you have a goal and know how to achieve it you will be unstoppable. Enjoy your journey to a better you.