I was recently asked for one specific thing that was a game changer for my health transformation. After taking a moment, I came up with healthy smoothies as my answer, but it really got me thinking about the other changes that have made the biggest impact on my level of health and fitness. It was impossible to keep it to just one, but I did limit it to a short list of absolute game changers that helped me lose 90lbs, achieve optimum health, and build a lean, muscular physique.
1) Changing Mindset from Weight Loss to Muscle Gain
Most people are focused solely on weight loss, just as I was, and it’s easy to fall into the outlook of eat less, exercise more. But actually, the reverse of this philosophy is true. Proper fueling and energy expenditure are what you should be focused on. How many calories do you need in a day to maintain your weight? How many do you need to gain muscle? Lose body fat? You can get estimates of these numbers using a calorie/macro nutrient calculator. If you haven’t done this, chances are you’re not eating enough calories, which can wreck your metabolism and promote the retention of body fat. Or, you’re eating too many calories, which will cause unnecessary weight gain. Find out your daily needs, figure out where you’re at, and you may be surprised at what you find. Instead of weight loss, focus on getting stronger so that your body becomes efficient at burning body fat. In order to achieve this, I recommend adopting a strength building routine involving lifting weights. Resistance training is far more effective at changing body composition than cardio. Instead of wasting away for hours on a treadmill, do some weight training with compound exercises like the squat, dead lift, bench press, and overhead press. You’ll be getting lean and strong in no time.
2) Making Smoothies
From day one, smoothies were a major aspect of my weight loss journey. Today, they’re simply a way of life. You can literally drink your way to better health. I will have generally 1-2 per day, but sometimes as many as four. I initially started with a $30 blender from Wal-Mart. Today, I use Blend-Tec, which ranges from $200-$300, but is worth every penny. Smoothies are a quick, easy, and delicious way to get vital nutrients into your diet. Here is a list of the smoothie ingredients we use frequently:
- Purified Water, Ice
- Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Coconut Water, Kefir
- Berries (Raspberry, Blueberry, etc), Banana, Apples (Fresh or Frozen)
- Spinach, Kale
- Cucumber, Beets, Carrots
- Oat Bran
- Grass Fed Whey Isolate (Hormone/Antibiotic-Free, Naturally Sweetened)
- Creatine (Weight Training Supplement)
- Casein Protein
- Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder
- Coconut Oil, MCT Oil
- Flax Seed, Hemp Seed, Chia Seed
- Avocado, Almonds, Cashews, Coconut
- Spirulina Tablets
- Green Superfood Powder Blend (Chlorella, Wheat Grass, Etc.)
- Carob Powder, Camu Powder, Maca Powder, Moringa
- Stevia, Xylitol (Natural Sweeteners)
Mix and match based on this list of ingredients or come up with your own. A great place to start is the Wes Sider Smoothie for optimization or the Fully Charged Chocolate Smoothie for dessert. When it comes to produce, we generally buy organic. It’s usually cheaper to buy frozen over fresh, but we mix and match depending on what’s on sale or in season. I always switch up ingredients, but the smoothie recipes I have listed on Wise-Eats.com are a great place to start.
What are you putting in YOUR smoothies? Shoot us an e-mail or leave a comment down below.
3) Hydrating Properly
Adequate hydration increases energy, reduces appetite, promotes weight loss, and increases muscle strength, among countless other benefits. The first thing I do every day is drink a tall glass of high quality water and stay fully hydrated the entire day. Generally, 1-2 gallons per day total. If I’m running to the bathroom every hour to pee, I’m winning. Once you eliminate pop, milk, energy drinks, and other junk fluids, drinking water becomes natural, and your body instinctively craves it above all else.
It’s not only the amount of water you drink, but the quality of your water. Tap water and even some bottled waters expose you to the hazards of added chemicals and pollutants. Purchase a filter or buy water directly from a facility that does purification. In the past, I have used a Pur filter, but these commercial filters usually only mask the taste of poor quality water and do nothing to remove contaminants. After ditching the Pur, I began buying water from a reverse osmosis facility. Today, we use a Berkey filtration system in our home. For a more in-depth look at exactly how I drink water, check out the Wise Eats “Always Workin’” Water recipe video.
4) Being Able to Work Out Anywhere
Building a home gym made getting fit much more convenient and helped me stay consistent with my routine. You don’t have to waste gas, time, and precious motivation driving to the gym in order to execute a quality workout. Initially, I started with a few sets of dumbbells and P90X or UFC Fit. Now, I’ve built an entire home gym that I’m constantly adding to. Here is a list of items I have:
- Pull-Up Bar
- Adjustable Barbell Rack ($100 on Amazon)
- Barbell & Weight Plates
- EZ Curl Bar
- Jump Rope
- Workout Mat
- Foam Roller
That is more than enough to get a complete workout and jumpstart the recovery process.
What’s in YOUR home gym? Comment below!
If you do prefer to work out at a gym, look for one that is close to home or work. Prepare meals and shaker bottles with protein and supplements in advance so you’re well fueled and not tempted to buy junk convenience foods. Pack a bag with everything you need in advance so you have no excuses not to show up.
Outside home and the gym, build movement into your routine no matter where you are. Go outside and get some sun. Go for a walk, ride a bike, or stop reading this article right now and do some push-ups or bodyweight squats. I am not afraid to do bodyweight squats right in the bathroom wherever I’m at if I need an energy boost or want to burn some calories. Bring some weights and a mat to work so you can exercise on your lunch break. Any time you’re feeling stressed, find a place to do some quick push-ups or pull-ups. You’ll work that anxiety out and be feeling like a new person in no time! Just because you don’t have 30-60 minutes to dedicate to a workout, doesn’t mean you have to do nothing. 1 minute of effort is all you need to get started. Make progress from there.
5) Listening to Podcasts and Audiobooks
I credit much of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to podcasting, which has changed my life for the better. Through this medium I’ve found many mentors including Mike Dolce, Shawn Stevenson, John Lee Dumas, Mike Matthews, Joe Rogan, Ben Greenfield, Brock Armstrong, Monica Reinagel, and many more. The subject matter is not limited to exercise and nutrition. You can find podcasts on news, business, sports, entertainment, virtually any subject you’re interested in. You can listen right off of your phone while driving, working around the house, or completing some otherwise mindless activity. Podcasting has been a true game changer for my life as a whole as well as helping me get fit. I’ll actually be launching the Wise Eats podcast later this year, so stay tuned for that!
6) Finding a Coach
I’ve never used a personal trainer or nutrition coach, so my coach was Google. Through trial and error, I learned a ton about proper diet, exercise, recovery, and thriving lifestyle habits. If you have the means, seek a reputable coach who can help you assess your current physical condition, set some goals, and help you get started. If I had a one-on-one coach years ago, I could have achieved my physical transformation much more quickly. Having someone with knowledge and experience that you look up to for motivation is critical. If you don’t have that person yet, find them.
7) Using Intermittent Fasting & Fasted Cardio
Intermittent fasting is a fat loss tactic I’ve adopted recently to help aid in calorie restriction. There is research supporting the idea that restricting your hours of eating can have some great health benefits resulting in fat loss and increased energy. In the first few hours of the morning, I feel more alert and focused when I don’t eat right away. Fasting for a little while at the beginning of the day helps keep my thoughts clear and burn stored fat. While I enjoy walking any time of the day, I especially love going for a brisk walk in a fasted state first thing in the morning. It’s highly effective for fat loss and one of my favorite forms of low-intensity cardio.
8) Focusing on Sleep
Some say physical fitness is 80% exercise and 20% diet. Others say it’s 20% diet and 80% exercise. I say it’s equal parts diet, exercise, and rest. Once I finally made sleep a priority in my life, my fitness results and overall health improved dramatically. The higher your quality and duration of sleep, the more mental, physical, and emotional energy you’ll have to perform at your best. At a bare minimum, I shoot for 6 hours a night, but operate best at 7-9 hours. Here are a few of the strategies I implement to improve sleep quality. There’s good science behind many of them, although I won’t bore you with the details. Inspiration for this section, in part, came from Shawn Stevenson’s book “Sleep Smarter”:
- Exercise earlier in the day – Too close to bedtime can inhibit sleep
- No caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime
- Sleep in a very dark room (We use blackout curtains)
- Rise and fall with the sun to take advantage of your natural circadian rhythms
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid junk food
- Get as much natural sunlight exposure as you can
- Supplement with magnesium and vitamin D (or multivitamin)
- Drink hot tea (Helps with food cravings, too)
- Go to bed around the same time every night – Even on weekends
- No large meals just before bed – Light, nutritious snacking only
- Foam rolling or massage just before bed
- Remove all electronics from the bedroom, including TVs and cell phones
- Avoid using blue light emitting devices (TV, cell phone, etc.) at least an hour before bed
- Read a book until your eyes won’t stay open anymore
- Physical touch with another human being before sleep
- Meditation or deep breathing just before sleep and/or just after waking
These are most of the strategies I use to get the deepest, longest sleep possible. The more you sleep, the faster you recover, the more you can work out, the better you will feel and perform, the more you’ll be able to work out and feel great and look great. You get the idea.
Are there any techniques YOU utilize to improve the quality of your sleep? We’d love to read them! Post in the comments below.
These factors have been absolute game changers in helping me lose 90lbs, build muscle, and improve quality of life overall. I hope you’re already incorporating one or more of them into your own life. If you’re not, it’s time to wise up!!! Thanks for reading.
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