Big goals to meet in a small amount of time. That is basically the situation I find myself in as I am getting reading to complete the London Marathon in about 6 weeks—April 22. My training has been challenging for a few reasons which are all mostly related to balancing practice runs with work commitments and carrying about 4% more body fat than normal. The latter is really my bigger problem as race day creeps up on me, so in this post I’m sharing what it really takes to attack body fat in a small amount of time.
Losing weight comes down to math and science. Ironically, these were never my favorite subjects in school; however, fortunately for this purpose just one main and basic principle needs to be understood—burn more than you consume. While this really is a simple concept, when you have a small amount of time to make real progress, the quality and timing of your food and exercise really matters. In other words, that one teaspoon of sugar, small bite of cake, dipping sauce, salad dressing etc. can add up to big set backs. That one hour cardio session really needs to be one hour, and not 55 minutes. So this is the one time when my own advice that it is ok to enjoy a little bit of everything or cut yourself some slack sometimes, does not apply.
The process can get very technical and overwhelming so it is a great idea if you can get help from a professional nutritionist and/or trainer who understands you and your goals in order to make this process easier for you. Basically, this is not a one-size-fits-all process. In fact, even I still get this type of professional help after having gone through this “crunch time” process a few times over the past 4 years. So let me proceed with what is involved.
1.Body weight and body fat. You should be able to get this done at most gyms. In order to develop an effective nutrition and training plan that works for you it is essential to know your body fat percentage. Do not be discouraged by the numbers. I know how much they can make you feel like you will never reach your goal, but remember, it is math, science, and discipline. You will get there if you apply everything else I outline below.
2.Be realistic. This is not magic. It is also not a “crash diet” or a “quick fix”. Before I understood nutrition I did those 5-10 pounds per week types of diets a few times and they are unhealthy, unrealistic and unsustainable. A clean diet that incorporates about 5 days of exercise per week should result in dropping just about 2 pounds per week.
3. Be honest with yourself. Before you complain that you tried and it is not working, do a candid self-evaluation. Did you really exercise 5 days per week, or only 3? Did you fry your protein instead of having it grilled or steamed? Did you indulge in a little dessert at that event? Remember, everything counts when you are not working with a lot of time.
4.Be prepared. This involves getting to the grocery store on Sunday with a list of only those things that your nutrition plan requires, and preparing as much of it as possible a head of time for the week. You will be glad you did in the mornings when you are rushing through the door and everything is already nicely portioned out, packaged and ready to go. It also involves looking ahead on your calendar and strategizing when the best times are to get the workouts on your training plan done. For example, if you are going to work late one day, do the exercise in the morning before work instead of in the evening when you’re exhausted and probably frustrated with issues that might’ve come up during the workday.
- Expect the tough days. There might be some days when you forgot a meal, or just couldn’t mentally get yourself up and out to go exercise. This is where working with a professional can really help because they can both motivate you and adjust your nutrition and exercise plan accordingly. Above all though, remember your “why”. Remember what’s motivating you whether it is trying to trim down for health reasons, a birthday or some other big life event, or maybe you’re just training for a race like me.