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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Ustrzycki

4 Corners of a Balanced Lifestyle

1. Fat Loss

Most people end up looking for a ‘quick fix’ to reshape their bodies forever without going on a ‘diet’ that just takes all of their favorite foods away, makes their lives more complicated and – worst of all – doesn’t offer sustainable results. They want to lose fat for good – not just for next month, or next year, but for life. First things first, there are a few basics you need to understand that a lot of other folks may have mislead you on or flat out ignored.

  • You can’t diet all the time. Spending too much time dieting will ruin your relationship with food and make it impossible for you to keep off the fat you lose. There has to be a maintenance strategy. Flexible dieting really isn’t even ‘dieting’ at all. Through this formula, we can safely and in the healthiest way possible, adjust your body to let go of stubborn fat and keep it off for good.

  • We must take a gradual approach and be conservative. To lose fat we need to create a calorie deficit but going to extremes is never the answer. We start off with a smaller reduction in calories and experiment with cycling calories over the course of days and weeks. Weight loss (if that’s your goal) is never linear. Actually, no process is ever really linear. You will have up days and down days; weeks where you plateau and that’s when we do our adjustments.

  • Exercise to get better, not to burn calories. Performance has to be a driver. While increasing your activity levels will burn more energy, using exercise as a way to burn calories is kind of missing the point. You should exercise to improve your athleticism and health, not for the calorie burn.

2. Exercise/Training

Most people aren’t contemplating become athletes when they start getting into fitness – they’re trying to improve their health and look better – but many of us become addicted to the progress and wind up quite intensely devoted to our new lifestyle! As we develop into athletes and make performance a priority, ‘working out’ becomes training and things get pretty complicated. There are skills to develop, energy systems to train, and personal bests to conquer. There’s so much to learn, and it’s easy to fall into a rut but I’ve been there and I’ve worked with a wide array of talented people who know a thing or two about organizing training, improving technique, and getting the most out of a dedication to getting leaner, stronger, and faster. A few key points to remember:

  • Work within your abilities and focus on incremental improvements. If you cannot do something to its full requirements, do your best and reach me if you need help. I’m your support system from here on in!

  • We will expand your training. We will change up the routines and you may be uncomfortable with movements; but it’s all about learning and growing. No one ever did anything epic by remaining in their comfort zone!

  • We need to ensure rest is a priority! Taking mandatory rest days are all part of the program, and without them, the lean muscle that we are trying to build will not last.

3. Basic Nutrition

My learning and knowledge of nutrition is ever expanding and I’m always sharing links to articles and topics that come up in almost 100% of my conversations with new clients. Along the way, these are a few of the key points we want to drive home:

  • Nutrition requirements are largely individual. We each live different lives, different activity levels, different goals, different preferences in food, and some of us simply cannot eat certain foods because we’re allergic to them. How could there possibly be a single best diet or plan? Truthfully, while there are some basic tenets that you want to abide by, there’s a tremendous amount of trial and error involved when coming up with an approach and that’s OK. It’s all part of the journey.

  • Moderation is key – don’t go to extremes. Part of figuring out what works best for you means starting from a baseline and making modifications. We don’t need to drop all your carbs, we don’t need to start avoiding all the food you’ve been eating your entire life. Most of the time you’ll find that the middle path is the most manageable, and thus the most successful way to go. Ah, the joys of flexible dieting! Small modifications to your diet can make huge differences in the long run – huge modifications can put you in a hole and set you back.

  • There are no big mistakes. Eating healthy, losing fat, improving your performance; these are not goals you accomplish in a week. The sum is more important than the parts. In other words, that cookie you want to eat that isn’t part of your ‘regular’ diet is fine to have as long as you don’t go overboard. Just be sure to keep track of it! In fact, denying yourself foods you want to eat puts you in a predicament where you’re probably going to eat that particular food anyway, feel guilty, and give up on your goal. Or worse, binge! Don’t do that to yourself – eat food, don’t let food eat you!

  • Supplements are OK! That is, IF you use them correctly. Obviously you should get most of your nutrition from foods, and the same rules that apply to food, food choices apply to supplements. If you don’t like it, if it makes you sick, or it doesn’t fit into your goals, then it’s not for you. Most people find that a multivitamin, a protein powder and some fish oil, along with creatine monohydrate, are all they need. Food takes care of the rest. That being said, please go back and review the list of recommendations for supplements if you are a certain type of athlete or have specific demands that your body needs.

4. Mindset

The psychological aspect of becoming the best version of you is oftentimes ignored, but having the right mindset is vital to achieving success.

  • Embrace the journey. The cold hard truth is that in the beginning, progress happens literally overnight but as you get deeper into the fitness lifestyle, that progress slows down considerably. This is where the folks who are just interested fall off the wagon. You have to commit to continual, gradual progress even when it seems like things have come to a standstill.

  • Setting realistic goals. We’ve all seen the unbelievable ads that say you can lose 30 lbs. of fat in 10 days. Most of us know that the reason this stuff is unbelievable is because it’s not true, but it still messes with our heads. When it comes to losing fat and building lean mass, things happen slowly. Although you should set your standards high, you should be realistic – if weight loss is the goal for you, then losing 1 lb. a week is healthy. This isn’t always the case, so again, trust the process.

  • Take the good with the bad. Don’t let minor setbacks like plateaus and nagging injuries distract you from your accomplishments. Progress is progress; be proud of what you accomplish and speak positively about yourself, your gains, and the goals that you’ve achieved.

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