Losing body fat and getting more toned is a process. It won’t happen over night. But with the right framework, you can achieve your body composition goals and make the journey more efficient.
Imagine hopping in your car in Austin, TX for a road trip to Los Angeles. There’s a gap between where you are right now and where you want to go. This "gap" represents your weight loss transformation.
If you plan on actually making it to L.A., your car must have 4 working tires. Each tire doesn't need to be perfect, but if one is flat, you’re not going anywhere until it’s fixed.
Now imagine each of the 4 tires on your vehicle represents a crucial pillar in your journey to tone up, add more definition, and improve your overall health.
You must maintain proper pressure in all 4 if you want a smooth ride to your destination. You don't have to get each one to the perfect, but we do want to pump a little air each of them and check them regularly.
The last thing you want is a flat on the highway. Eventually, you’ll have to pull over to the side of the road. Progress will come to a screeching halt.
Learn what each of the 4 pillars of weight loss represents for your body transformation journey, their order of importance, and how you can accelerate your results.
Pillar 1: Food
Health starts with food. It’s the lead domino when it comes to shedding pounds and positively impacting health and body composition.
This pillar represents eating whole, real and unprocessed foods about 80% of the time. These clean choices give our bodies the micronutrients in needs for a fast and efficient metabolism.
Focusing on balanced meals composed of real food regulates satiety, provides the building blocks for lean muscle, and provides the foundation for improved performance in any fitness endeavor.
Beyond fat loss, eating better also has the biggest impact on our health both mentally and physically.
- When the body is properly fueled, exercise performance improves. We start to notice progress in our workouts, and this motivates us to continue the journey.
- Good, clean food keeps our immune system strong so we can stay in the gym and do the things we love.
- Eat well for better brain function. Food has a major impact on our neurochemistry for improved mental well being, more emotional control, and better performance during cognitively demanding tasks.
- Clean food will maintain a healthy gut and make us more resilient to stress.
- Natural energy levels remain high, productive outputs at work increase, and confidence grows.
- Whole, real, food provides a strong foundation for healthy hormone levels. The body does as designed and works to maintain a healthy weight.
Pillar 2: Exercise
This pillar includes any and all types of movement: yoga, running, weight training, spartan races, powerlifting, crossfit, gymnastics or martial arts.
It doesn’t have to be painful or run you into the ground to be effective. It just needs to get the body moving, sweating and burning some calories.
Consistent movement matters more than how you move. If you pair regular workouts with healthy foods, you’ll get to your destination.
- Exercise is a form of stress management. It releases endorphins that make us feel good, making it an effective tool for pillar #4.
- Resistance training helps boost hormones like testosterone to build muscle and burn fat.
- Lifting weights strengthens bones, and improves blood sugar levels to help our bodies handle carbohydrates more efficiently. It also builds muscle, your most metabolically active tissue, to strengthen metabolic rate and promote healthy aging.
- A movement practice will dramatically increase your mobility, especially yoga, gymnastics, and martial arts.
- Sweating, moving fast and pushing your limits feels good!
Pillar 3: Sleep
For this pillar, quality is more important than quantity. If you get at least 7 hrs per night, you’ve got this one covered.
Even if you hate exercise, quality food paired with great sleep can get you excellent weight loss results.
You’ll just reach your goal faster when exercise is included. Think of exercise as a gas pedal you can press on to speed things up.
Plus, you’ll love how you look at your target weight with the added muscle tone and definition. Even better, you'll love the way you fit into your clothes.
- Better sleep improves mood. You’ll literally be less cranky, and more likely to make better food choices.
- Sleep deprivation for more than 3 days in a row will sink all the hormones that help you lose the weight fast. If better body composition is your goal, it’s going to require sleep.
- Less than 6 hours of sleep tanks our ability to regulate blood sugar levels, negatively effecting how well our bodies handle carbohydrates. Even good carbohydrates like fruit or potatoes become more problematic to health, and are more likely stored as fat, during chronic periods of sleep deprivation. (Maybe you don’t need keto….you might just need sleep?)
- Improve your sleep, get better recovery from your workout sessions. Plain and simple.
- Cravings typically decrease as sleep improves. Next time you’re craving junk, PAUSE. In that brief moment, decide “am I truly hungry?," if not, you might just need a nap. (try this and let me know what you experience in the comments below.)
Pillar 4: Stress management
The 4th pillar is stress management. Unfortunately, this one is often overlooked or thrown under the rug. Giving some attention to this pillar will make your weight loss, health, and muscle building transformation much smoother.
Examples include gratitude, meditation, walks in nature, family time, foam rolling, hobbies, reading a book, or box breathing.
Although it’s the last of the 4 pillars, it’s certainly not the least.
- Too much stress degrades the lining of your gut, leading to poor nutrient absorption from food. Nutrients drive health, a fast metabolism, and natural energy daily.
- An overload of stress kills the positive hormone balance within the body. Stress hormones spike cortisol, which tells us to store calories in problem areas around the hips and midsection.
- Heightened stress leads to impulse eating, cravings for junk or emotional instability that is often satisfied with food. Remember, we may not be able to control what’s causing the stress, but we can control how we react to it.
- Effective stress management makes you a more pleasant person in the company of others. Have more friends, make better connections, be present in life’s special moments and keep blood pressure healthy.
- Stress pumps out cortisol and adrenaline to run from a tiger. Staying in a state of constant fight or flight mode crushes your bodies natural mechanisms that tell it to burn fat.
So I have a challenge for you...
Instead of switching from diet to diet, searching for a secret, perfect eating plan, look to these 4 pillars and see where you're spinning your wheels.
This guide is an operating framework to feel your best and lose more weight. Except, you'll do it fast and keep it off.
The added benefits are better overall health and improved mental well being.
The most important thing to remember on your transformation journey is that it’s not about perfection - it’s about progress.
All 4 tires don’t need the perfect pressure. In fact, you can probably get exactly where you're going with about 60% air in each one.
Once you identify the areas in which you need improvement, start to build small daily behaviors that strengthen each pillar.
Next, reinforce these habits with a strong “WHY” for sticking to your plan. If you do this, you're unstoppable.
Get after it! Take back your health and go get your body of your dreams!
Photo by Sherise VD on Unsplash
Written by Brett - Nutrition & Health Coach / Co-Founder of Moontower Matcha
Brett has worked for the last 10 years with thousands of individuals one-on-one to achieve their own health and fitness goals.
His mission is to share healthy habits, real-world solutions, and comprehensive strategies around nutrition, movement, sleep, and stress management to help guide individuals to the results they desire most.