The weight scale is perhaps one of the most common tools which people use to monitor & judge their fitness progress. However, more often than not, it is something that will leave you frustrated and unmotivated. For some the scale is in fact the single most powerful mood-shifter!
Certainly your weight is an important variables to track. However, whether you are losing or gaining weight, the scale falls short when we want to get a complete picture of what our health looks like. This is exactly why it should not be the only merit of your progress, whatever your goal is.
In this article, we are going to explain the other, important metrics you should keep track of and how to actually use the scale so you can make it a functional part of your plan.
Now let’s get to it!
Does Your Weight Matter?
Now, surely, the scale has its applications on your way to a healthier body, which is why we are not telling you to completely give up on using it. This is especially true in respect to certain important variable when it comes to calculating your daily calories, macronutrient needs, or intake of certain supplements, which are based on the individual’s weight. But despite those points let’s say this one more time - The number on the scale MUST NOT be your ONLY merit of progress. There are many other things that you should watch, in addition to the scale and it is therefore important to be committed to not allowing the scale to kill your mood.
The Scale and What It Does NOT Show
Okay, think about it - Can one single number really show you everything there is to know about your fitness? Is this number everything you really need to determine whether or not you are fit enough?
For the general population, weight should only represent a small percentage of the things we judge progress on.
It is a fact that the scale cannot show you things such as:
All of the above are far more important metrics of progress and if you only rely on the number that the scale shows, you are in for some massive disappointments.
HOWEVER, if you weigh yourself correctly and relate the change in weight to other parameters, such as the ones from above, you will have a much more realistic idea of your progress.
How To Use The Scale (The Right Way)
If you want to make your weight scale a viable tool on your fitness journey, rather than something that will shake your beliefs and motivation, PLEASE use these tips below:
Whenever you get a weight in, make sure it is IN THE MORNING, before eating, after going to the bathroom and undressed.
THIS is your true weight!
If you weigh yourself on the same day, at the same time, before eating anything and after going to the bathroom, you will get the most accurate reading possible.
Otherwise, you risk weighing the food you took in, the water you drank, the fluids you retained, etc.
For the goal of sustainable weight loss and maintenance of lean body mass (lbm), you should strive to lose between ½ a lb to 2 lbs a week.
If your true reading shows a loss greater than 2 lbs for the week, don’t be afraid to bump up the calories slightly.
If on the other hand, the reading shows an insignificant loss of weight, decrease calories slightly.
Oppositely, if you are trying to gain weight, aim for no more than 0.5-1 lbs a week.
This will allow you to avoid any unnecessary fat gains and thus, take less time to shred down afterward.
If you narrow everything down to the number on the scale… You’re in for disappointments.
Whenever you get a reading on the scale, whatever it is, set goals for your strength, endurance, visual look, mood, energy, etc.
This will help keep you motivated and will give you a different perspective on the bigger picture.
Though your weight is an important variable when determining progress, setting up & adjusting a diet, it is NOT the only thing you should narrow your progress down to.
The scale does not show more important things like body composition, strength levels, mood, or how you actually look.
Ultimately, your best bet is to monitor your progress on all variables possible, to ultimately determine whether your work is paying off well or your plan needs adjustments.
In the previous part of this article series, we gave you actionable tips on how to integrate training into a busy schedule. Keep in mind that setting up your training regimen is just half the battle and if it is not supported by a proper nutrition plan, then all your hard work will be in vain.
Which is why in this article, we’re going to tell you exactly how you can create sustainable nutrition habits.
What is Meal Prep & Why and How You Should Do It
Meal prepping is without a doubt one of the most efficient ways to ensure you’ll get all your nutrients in. This method will save you time and money and will also give your body everything needed to sustain healthy functioning, as well as any daily physical and mental activities. At its very core, meal prepping implies cooking for a couple of days ahead, all at once. This is a very flexible approach, as it allows you to prepare certain foods in bulk, which you can then use to create a variety of recipes.
Step #1 - Choose your Protein & Fat sources
As you should know by now, protein & fats are essential to the body, as they regulate a variety of vital processes, including but not limited to recovery, healthy functioning of all bodily systems and tissues, regulating hormonal function, etc. If any of the 2 is in a deficit, you may experience unpleasant side effects, such as premature exhaustion, constant tiredness, brain fogs and disrupted sleep cycles.
Essential aminos acids are called essential because they are nutrients the body needs for optimal health but that it does not create on its own. Good sources of essential amino acids can be found in foods such as chicken, beef, eggs, fish, prawns, cheese, and other dairy products.
If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you are best off combining different grains, beans, and other legumes, to get the full essential amino acid profile.
Step #2 - Choose Your Carbohydrate Sources
The best sources of carbohydrates which you have probably heard time and time again are all those whole grains, beans, legumes, and fruits (not fruit juices). These are the foods that keep a steady level of blood glucose (sugar) without severe spikes delivering a consistent flow of energy to the body which is ideal for physical and mental activities. Example of these foods are: wild and brown rice, oats, whole grain breads, starchy vegetables berries, melons, bananas, and others.
Step #3 - What about micronutrients
Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are considered macronutrients because we need to consume them in large quantities. However, we also needs many trace elements in order to function properly. We call those micronutrients. If you rely on diverse nutrition and include plenty of different whole foods in your menu, you don’t really need to pay specific attention to micronutrients.
That is unless of course, you have certain micronutrient deficiencies, in which case your best bet is to consult with your physician.
Step #4 - Cook in bulk!
Once you’ve picked out your favorite protein, fat and carbohydrate sources, it is time to cook!
For the meats, you can use basic marinade - Soy sauce, salt & pepper.
Once that’s done, you’ll have ~2-3 lbs of meat all cooked and ready.
For your grains and root crops, you can use basic seasoning and preparation.
Once that’s done, you’ll have a solid amount of carbohydrates ready on demand.
Since these are prepared in a very basic way, you can use them as a BASE to add upon.
For example, you can take some of the pre-cooked meat and toss it in a pre-heated pan with some vegetables, glazes & other spices.
The same goes for your carb sources, meaning that you can craft a variety of recipes and bring diversity to your nutrition, even though you cook the same foods every time.
Again, these are just your bases for meals and you can always add more vegetables such as , dried tomatoes, olives, capers and any other side products you may like.
Step #5 - Enjoy your food & time
Most people think that cooking your own food requires a lot of time and energy. However home prepped food is almost ALWAYS cheaper and takes less total time because its more efficient to execute a plan than it is to fly by the seat of your pants.
So, what do you have to lose?
When it comes to training and eating well for the goal of enhancing the quality of life, “I don’t have time” is the most common excuse people tell themselves.
Even if you suggest convincingly illustrate the how the benefits of an optimized training and nutrition plan outweigh the time invested, people will likely hold onto the belief and defend how busy they are.
In this article, we are going to give you actionable tips on how you can integrate a healthy lifestyle into a busy schedule.
Why Should You Do This?
Well, quite frankly your success in every aspect of life is primarily based on your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
In the modern-day lifestyle where even at work people typically sit for long periods of time you get robbed of quality movement while simultaneously having access to a load of junk food.
In a sense, being fit and even muscular is something completely natural. Nowadays however the industrial society has imposed upon us unnatural living patterns, thus making fitness & wellbeing “someday goals” for most people. However, they can not be someday goals. Your body is a community of cells that you govern and nurture through what you eat, and what you do. Your body doesn't know your busy, it simply responds to what you do and what you eat.
Now let’s talk about training and possible ways to integrate a healthier lifestyle into a busy schedule (yes, even if you work 12 hr shifts.)
How To Train Efficiently
For most people, it feels like forever to get to the gym, warm-up, do the workout, get back home, shower & eat.
And the truth is, all of this can be quite time consuming so your best bet is to optimize the whole process.
Here are some tips which you can use today:
One question still stands though - What is the best time to workout? Lets take a look at each time of time.
Training in the morning
Upon waking up, your body is fasted, meaning that your glycogen (usable energy stored in the muscle) levels are lower than usual and therefore, your strength performance may be suboptimal. However unless your a professional athlete or bodybuilder it won't matter. The most suboptimal workout is the one never done. Additionally, training in the morning is a good way to kickstart your day, as it will give you tons of energy and boost your mood (especially after your breakfast afterwards).
Training in the afternoon
As you wake up and get into your day, more and more sunlight passes through your eyes. That sunlight signals the pineal gland to secrete serotonin, which is a daytime neurotransmitter which makes you feel more awake, alert & gives you the energy and mood for your daily activities.
So, you see, your body is fine-tuned to the sun and the earth’s cycle and this is the period when your cardiovascular efficiency, muscular strength and nervous system are the most active. This is generally between 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Not only will you be in sync with the highest biological activity time window of the body, but you’ll also have food in your system and thus, more energy.
Training in the evening
Just like the previous two, training in the evening has its advantages and disadvantages.
For instance, workouts after an entire workday can be a massive stress reliever! On top of that, night time is the recovery time for the body, so with an intense workout, you are priming all the recovery mechanisms of your body and it becomes easier to fall asleep.
However, if you do your workout too soon before bed, you might disrupt your sleep cycle. So it is recommended to perform training no less than 3-4 hours before bedtime.
Training and eating well should not be someday goals but more so tools that you use to optimize your performance in all aspects of life, as well as your overall living quality.
As your health should be your number 1 priority, it is important to consider how you can optimize your training process, so that the benefits would outweigh the time invested.
Some best practices are: find a local gym or train at home, do shorter workouts but workout more frequently and be aware of time gaps or down time used on things like tv, social media etc,
In part two of this article series, we are going to tell you more about nutrition on a busy schedule and how you can actually spend less time & money to eat healthier and better.
See you there!