If the most asked question I get by people who have just joining a gym about whether they should do fat burn or fitness training is. Which diet should I go on. Low Fat? Low Carbs?
My answer is – just don’t.
If you are embarking on a course of exercise after a period of inactivity, making big life changes that stick is going to be tough. Biting off more than you can chew(perhaps a bad analogy because if you are reading this, you probably historically have a habit of biting of more than you should chew, but not more than you can chew(lol)) or more change than you can manage all in one go can be counterproductive as it all could become too hard, too oppressive and you say “Stuff it, I’m going back to the couch with my comfort food “.
Look, diet is important, but reprogramming you mind is more important and gradual reprogramming lasts longer than overnight changes that you can keep up for some time, but which you build in resentment to you psyche from the get go.
I have a client right now who joined a gym 3 years ago, paid for a 12 month membership but dropped out after 6 weeks. I questioned her on why this happened, and it all came down to the strictness of the regime the instructors gave her, and the conflicting instructions regarding her food.
The instructors wanted her to train 4 times a week, do at least an hour a session of cardio. OK, fair call for someone who really loves to train, or someone who is really motivated… but sometimes these instructors forget that people who are overweight often struggle with motivation to exercise. But ok, let move on to the food instructions.
a. No food before training. Then your body would be forced to call on your fat stores to fuel the exercise.
b. Two hour work out.
c. No food for two hours after training, then your body is forced to call on your fat stores, to replenish the sugar you have used in your muscles whilst exercising.
d. Almost no carbs, ever, no dairy, no fat, pretty much protein and green vegetables.
So with travel time and exercising, that meant a 7 hour period of no food, coupled with a pretty intensive workout, for someone whose more recent exercise regime was limited to the walk from the couch to the fridge and back again. I can’t imagine anyone but the most driven of crazy weight loss obsessed people being able to stick to such a plan.
The poor woman must have been constantly starving, thus programming her brain that exercise… well that is sucked. She would have had low blood sugar and been a right off in terms of higher brain functioning (learn more about sugar balance at txhealthpool.org). I would have hated to be a fellow driver on the road when she drove home and I sure wouldn’t have wanted her doing my taxes.
Most gyms won’t put you on an eating(non eating?) plan quite this oppressive, but it does demonstrate my point. You want starting off at the gym to be a pleasurable experience, not a painful one. If you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle and all of a sudden you start working out 3-4 times a week… you are going to see results with your body and weight anyway in the first 6 weeks even without dieting.
THEN! You will be in the swing of it. you’ll have seen some results, that weren’t too painful to achieve. You’ll be in the right frame of mind to say to yourself “Ok… I’m doing great… but what if I was to drop the chocolate chip ice-cream out of the equation, do some steamed chicken, rice(small portion) and green vegetables in place of creamy pasta… what’s THAT going to do for me?”
You’ll be much better able to make this jump to healthy eating in a way that becomes a permanent lifestyle choice, not an all or nothing, succeed or fail plan from day one… that will invariably fail.So if you are thinking about going back to the gym but a dreading the boring food – don’t worry about your food. Get the exercise going first, worry about the food later.
Article by Michael Doglasse
Michael is a personal trainer, a former fattie, and rebel against the established fitness indutry. He gets results be keeping his clients happy with training methods they can stick to.