QuickStart guide to Getting Fit

Yup if you’re like most people, you want to get results from your health kick now rather than later.

It’s ok , I get it!

You’re not just wanting to feel better physically but mentally as well. Nothing makes you feel better than looking in the mirror and being happy about your own reflection. There’s something quite powerful about that.

I don’t know why but it does (for me, anyway).

Here’s the thing, don’t be a follower. Most people start training reduce their food intake but nothing sticks. Their results plateau and they’re left feeling tired all the time. And suddenly they’re having a pity party for themselves eating ice cream with all the toppings!

Then they quit.

Don’t be like most people because if you followed them you too would miss out on the hard earned results you’ve worked hard for.

Ok, with the scare tactic out of the way let’s get on with it!

Step 1 – Commit to sticking with it. This is the hardest and most simplest step out of the whole process. Hard because let’s face it, life happens and if you’re not feeling like you’re making progress, you’re going to convince yourself to give up.

But don’t! Believe me when I tell you that giving up after trying for weeks is nothing compared to a life time of misery staring at your reflection and literally bursting into tears.

Dramatic? Not really, I’ve trained clients that have come to me and told me that very exact story. They came to me because they didn’t want to feel like that anymore.

Isn’t that interesting? I mean they came to a personal trainer to ‘solve’ an emotional problem. Obviously I didn’t work with them on their emotional issues, that’s outside my scope. What I did do is enable them to stay consistent AND persistent enough with their  actions/habits to actually start seeing results.

You’re probably thinking, ‘well how long do I have to wait?!?’

That’s a fair question.

To answer you honestly I need you to answer another question,’how long have you been looking and feeling bad about yourself when you look in the mirror?’

Because if you’ve already suffered for that long, you owe it to yourself to at least give that much time to ‘claw’ yourself out of the physical and emotional hole you’ve fallen into. Your results are coming, just not as quick as you’d like. It’s not surprising that progress is slow, it’s normal . Everyone (including me) likes to get things sooner rather than later.

Step One – Measure yourself

This can be as simple as jumping on a scale or measuring your waist with a tape measure.

Step Two – Pick three exercises you can do well

Aim for a leg exercise, an arm exercise & a core exercise.  Remember, this is about hitting the ground running so don’t get to bogged down with the latest and greatest exercise or equipment.  In fact, the less equipment the better!  I often find equipment (or lack thereof) to be a distraction and a hindrance by creating the illusion you can’t workout without it.

Still can’t think of three?

Squat, push up & plank.   You’re welcome ;P

Step Three –

 

 

Making choices in the face of adversity

I really want to keep this blog fitness related so I’ve been umming and arring if I should write this post.

Without going into details, I’ve had a few experiences over the course of the last week and bleeding in to this week that have mentally, emotionally and physically drained me. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and my ability to overcome adversity.

Suffice it to say I’ve made it through.

It made me reevaluate everything I’ve been doing over the last couple of years. And I’ve realised that I’ve unknowingly engineered my own unhappiness of late. I decided to write about it because I know there’s a lot of you who also struggle on the daily and just can’t seem to break out of that funk.

See when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? But what if you don’t have a glass?

This is where most people are when it comes to making choices. They quickly look for a problem thus preventing them from actually making a decision.  I know that there are some problems where there is no straightforward choice and compromise is required.  That’s why it’s important to be mindful of these things when faced with a choice.

Because that’s what life is sometimes, a series of choices.

Let’s start making better choices, shall we?

Step 1 – Do we need to make a choice in the first place?

When faced with a situation where a choice seems inevitable, it’s quite normal to have an either/or mentality.  Most neglect to opt or recognise option 3, no action/choice.  Using exercise as an example, often the choice is, ‘should I or shouldn’t I go to the gym today’?

In this scenario, the ‘good’ choice would be to go to the gym, right?  And the ‘bad’ choice would be to not go to the gym.  However, there’s no harm if you were to skip the gym for one day (and if you exercise elsewhere then that would be in place of the gym in this scenario).

The only harm would be if you were to stop going all together.

Step 2 – Does choosing to do/act improve your life?

I’m making an assumption here that most people reading are pro ‘better life’.  So if this isn’t you, keep reading but you might just disagree with everything you read.

When we act we generally do something that benefits us in some way.  It benefits our family, our health, our sense of moral goodness or even just addresses anyone of our needs/wants.  However, when wants and needs are at opposing ends of the spectrum our minds are at odds with itself.

Quickstart Guide to Eating Better

So you want to eat better. No? Maybe you got told you’re on your way to a heart attack or you’re a future contestant on the biggest loser. No matter how you got to this point, you’ve decided that you want to eat better.  You’ve been motivated to seek out how to do it.

High five! (Yup, I’m THAT guy!)

Now what?  Well the fact that you’re reading this suggests that you’re already on your way to eating better. You’re scouring the internet for information on how to do just that.  So without further adieu, here it is:

First, ignore everything you’ve heard and read before. No, not because I know all, keep reading.

The reason for this is simple.  There’s so much information out there. Too much that it can literally paralyse you into inaction.  There’s so many diets, nutrition advice and conflicting arguments for and against all things nutrition that even I get confused.

Let’s really break it down.  You already know WHAT to do MOST of the time.  And this is because of said information.  The real issue for most people is actually taking all that information and applying it into practice.  Yes I am making this assumption however I’ve found this to be true for most people and if you’re one of the lucky or unlucky (depending on your POV) that don’t fit into this category, I apologise.  But keep reading anyway!

Ok so let’s define what ‘eating better’ means.  To me eating better means eating the kind of foods that promote good health.  Good health is the ability of your mind and body to perform it’s tasks and functions optimally.

So whilst the post title states eating better, I also mean what we drink as it relates to promoting good health (and no you don’t have to give up alcohol).

Let’s dive in!

Step 1 – Determine what you’re prepared to do to actually ‘eat better’.

That means really looking at yourself and really be honest with yourself about how committed you are about this goal.

Are you already in the, ‘I can throw everything out and start from scratch’ or ‘I guess I can eat a piece of fruit once a week, maybe’ level of determination?  Note that it doesn’t matter where in the spectrum you are as long as you’re honest about where you are and not where you think you SHOULD be.

Step 2 – Once you’ve determined step 1, do a stocktake of your food supply.

This should include your fridge, freezer, pantry and workstation.  If you’re in the,’guns blazing’ end of the spectrum, throwout or have a ‘throwaway party’ for yourself or with others that are wanting to do the same as you.  Then write a list of foods that you think are healthy that you don’t already have.  I have purposely not included any actual food here because I’m making the assumption that most of you KNOW what’s generally considered ‘good food’.  This isn’t the place to get cute and write ‘chips’ because chips are made from potatoes and potatoes are a vegetable and vegetables are supposed to be good.  This post is for people who actually want to eat better. Ok, now that that’s cleared up, let’s keep going.

However, if you’re like most people you’re probably closer to the ‘I’ll try something (as long as it’s easy)’ end of the spectrum. Now write a list of foods that you ‘think’ are healthy that you don’t already have.  This can be a short list or extensive one.  It doesn’t matter.  Just make sure you write one.

Step 3 – Do you have any of the following:

  • set of kitchen knives;
  • big pot 30cm diameter;
  • nonstick frypan;
  • blender or food processor;
  • oven tray/pan;
  • At least 3x Tupperware containers;
  • 5x sandwich sized ziplock bags

If yes, good!  If not, add them to the list.  Yup, I just got you to make a shopping list 😉

Now that you have a list of foods, do you know what to cook? are you handy in the kitchen or are you on first name basis with all your local takeaway delivery people?  If you know how/what to cook, pick two or three meals you can cook in batches.  If you’re a takeaway connosieur then grab all the menus of your favourite takeaway restaurants and pick one or two dishes from each place that you believe is healthy.  Make these dishes the only options available to you when you order next.

Step 4 – Go grocery shopping!

Make sure you bring a snack, don’t go shopping on an empty stomach.  No not because you’ll buy more crap, because I don’t want you be hungry while you shop.  If you have any kitchen items on your list, get them too!  Most items you can find in the supermarket except maybe the blender/food processor. I read somewhere to stick to the outside perimeter of the grocery aisles to avoid going in and accessing processed, prepackaged foods.  Well it really depends on how your store is set up but if this applies for your particular store, then go for it.  Otherwise, stick to your list!

Animal based proteins:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Duck
  • Seafood

Plant based proteins:

  • Soy
  • Legumes
  • Chickpeas
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Quinoa
  • Broccoli
  • Kale

Carbs

  • Rice
  • Pastas
  • Grains
  • Potatoes

Fats

  • Oils
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Now you have your shopping list, go forth and shop! 😉

Step 5 – Prep your meals & snacks.

Ok obviously I’m not going to give you recipes here. It’s not that kind of post. But what I will do is give options. Options on cooking methods and serving sizes.

DISCLAIMER: there’s no calorie counting involved so adjust servings based on your personal results.

Losing too little/much weight? Add/subtract about 1/2 a serving size per meal the next week and review. Also pay attention to how you’re feeling, are you feeling upbeat & alert, full of energy and able to concentrate on tasks? Don’t change a thing!

Feeling opposite? Adjust as per above.

NOTE that you should be dropping 1/2kg to 1kg per week. However this will be after a few weeks on this ‘diet’ and requires perseverance and consistency. No shortcuts!

My thoughts on diets

Ok, this should be fun …

There’s hundreds if not thousands of diets, diet books, diet fads out there in cyberspace with adherents ready to defend their ‘way’.  I guess if it worked for you then I can understand why you would become a fierce advocate for it.

But first, a story.

It was around 2003 that I received some disturbing news.  Apparently I was prediabetic, my liver wasn’t working properly and I was told it would only get worse.  I wouldn’t say the news came as a shock.  I mean, I was going out a lot, eating junk and drinking silly most thursdays nights and weekends till early sunday mornings.  So I kinda knew my body was out of whack.  And I’d keep buying new clothes every few months because the old ones wouldn’t fit anymore.  To be honest, It really didn’t bother me.  I still went out, still drank, smoked and didn’t look after myself and didn’t change anything about my lifestyle.

So what actually made me change?

Vanity.

Not my health issues, not lack of attention from my partner nor being broke from going out all the time and replacing my ‘shrinking’ wardrobe.

One day I came out the shower and caught my reflection in my wardrobe mirror.  I had really let myself go.  My love handles had their own handles and my face was bloated and I genuinely couldn’t recognise myself in the mirror.  For a long time I’d been ignoring the signs and just bought clothes to cover and basically just stuck my head in the sand for as long as I could.

Being a typical guy I didn’t ask for help.  I suffered alone but I started hurting.  Hurting from the jokes, the pity looks and lack of intimacy from my partner.  I don’t know if women know this but I reckon most men feel like this once we start letting ourselves go and as much as you think you’re being caring by not mentioning anything, believe me, I would’ve rathered her to have told me something waaay sooner than when it actually came up.

Ok enough with the sob story.  What did I do to actually shed the weight?

I went online.

Yup,  good ol’ Doctor Google.  I looked to the ‘interweb’ (you’ll catch on to my quirky humour soon enough) for answers.  Around that time Atkins and Paleo were the big boys around town and this thing called, ‘the ketogenic diet’ (keto diet) was also around.  Apparently they’ve been using it on clinically obese patients as a part of a monitored medical weightloss treatment plan (those adherents can chime in here and correct me on this if you so wish).

Anyways, I wasn’t obese but I was definitely overweight.  To me the keto diet was a version of low carb, high protein and fats diet.  Funnily, I was already doing some form of the latter (hmmm, similarities). Cycling through low and high carb days/cycles.

First the pros (for me), I noticed results within a few weeks, I adapted to eating this way fairly quick and I enjoyed eating a lot (like a truckload!) of protein in all it’s yummy forms (sorry vegan friends! but back then that’s how I felt).

Now the cons (for me), I got irritable.

A lot! All the time (some would say moody). AndI got sick frequently (although my training regime may have also contributed) Lastly, I allowed myself to eat everything in sight provided it wasn’t carbs.

Now I’m not endorsing keto over low carb, paleo or any other diet out there.  Only that this is what I loosely followed (note how I didn’t feel the need to weigh, measure and count calories). And when I look back, it was almost an amalgamation of paleo, low carb, keto and high protein diets (hmmm, similarities again).

Nowadays Vegan and plant based diets are in.

So where do I stand on that? Simple, I believe if it works for you, do it. if it doesn’t then why are you still doing it? Seems silly to me. Followers of those diets can chime in here and add to this, I recall that it’s low on B12 and calcium so you need to be mindful of that.

The pros of a vegan/vegetarian diet (for me) is increased variety of fruits and vegetables, lots of recipes to try out and losing instead of storing fat just from not overeating (the meals make me fuller, longer. Does that make sense ). I ‘feel ‘ healthier and I’m cooking more (although some might see this as a con instead of a pro).

Cons (for me) are that it’s still difficult to find variety of vegan and vegetarian options when going out, reliance on grains and seeds for calories because you can’t be bothered to prep vegetables, the silent judgement from your barista for ordering nondairy milk, other people who will judge you for not caring about animals when you unknowingly eat something with dairy, honey or egg (yes I’m talking to all you judgemental vegans out there . Where’s the love for the homo sapien species? We’re animals too).

All kidding aside provided you eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains & seeds it can be a good way to go.

But having done various diets in the interest of health, experience and experimentation I found that the ones that had the following traits provided the best results for general weightloss and fitness:

  • High in unprocessed foods and low in trans fats. Think fresh fruit and vegetables
  • High in fibre. Think grains and starchy vegetables
  • High in nutrients and minerals. Think variety of all the above
  • High in quality fats.  Think nuts & seeds and omega 3’s
  • Low in processed and carbonated drinks.  Think water
  • Even spread of macronutrients.  Think equal serving sizes of proteins and carbs with a quarter the serving size for quality fats.

To me it doesn’t matter which diet dogma you subscribe to as long as it covers your daily nutrient and caloric needs.  At the end of the day there’s a reason why we’re drawn towards certain foods.

For me that reason is evolutionary, being that we’ve evolved to crave the things our bodies need and that we need to store energy for survival.  Our bodies don’t know that there’s a grocery and convenience store around almost every corner or that we don’t have to hunt and gather our foods nowadays.  We don’t even have to walk to get to places because of public transport or our own vehicles.  Yet we still store fat for ‘survival’ in case there’s a famine.  I’m not going to go into the different functions of the nutrients we need or the foods that contain them here (I’ll leave that for another post).

Suffice it to say that for all our differences externally, our bodies in general have similar needs and function. So provided that your diet is giving you all the nutrients your body needs and the energy to function and perform its daily tasks it really doesn’t matter if you’re following paleo, keto, vegan/vegetarian or any hybrid of the above.

Yours in health,

Leo Roldan

 

About Me

Based in Sydney, Australia, I’ve been a personal trainer since 2006.

That’s me. Circa 2003

In that time I’ve lost over 20kgs, done a handful of sprint distance triathlons, a few fun runs, a half marathon and a handful of kickboxing and Thai boxing fights.  I’ve been married, got out of marriage all before the age of forty and everything in between.

20x30-SYHL3911
2012 Sydney Half Marathon

So you could say that I’ve had my fair share of reasons to fall off the wagon and there’ve been times and weeks when it’s been a struggle.

So why should you listen to me and what can I offer that isn’t already out there?  I’m not your typical online trainer with an Instagram ready physique and a massive social media following.

That question has paralyzed me from getting this project off the ground time and time again.  To be honest, there’s a lot of great trainers out there that are doing the same if not similar thing to what I’m doing. And I know that I’m not going to be able to help everyone.

So the reason for starting this project is simple, I wanted to expand my scope of influence.  I want my message to reach people in other parts of the world so I can enable those people to help themselves lose weight and feel better about how they look and feel.

Girl kicking
Teaching a kickboxing class

Simple.  How will I accomplish that all the way in Sydney, Australia?

Through the power of the internet!

I’ll be posting on this site about workouts, diets, recipes, exercises and mindset.  This will be a mixture of blog posts, fitness articles, exercise videos, workout videos as well as my personal thoughts on how to maintain your results once you achieve them.  This is going to be a place where i’ll be sharing what I’ve learnt over the past ten years and what I’m learning through my personal experience with clients and professional development courses and other general ‘nuggets of wisdom’.

I hope you’ll join me!

Yours in Health,

 

Coach Leo