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  • Bryan Bacaoat

Consistency is King!

What is the number one most important factor when it comes to starting your health and fitness journey? Almost everyone will mention either training or nutrition in part that is true. You need to change your nutrition and workout habits to lose body fat and get healthier. However, an often-overlooked key to the puzzle is consistency; being able to do the right thing, in regards to your working out and nutrition habit, day in and day out, 80-90% of the time. Do you see how I did not write 100%? That is because, in our modern lifestyle, it is impossible to be strict with your nutrition and training regime all day every day. Other things are going on in everyone's lives, and sometimes health will be placed on the back burner due to higher priorities. With that, we Segway into the first point- setting someone a plan that is tailored to them and their circumstances, that they can do consistently.

Consistent plan

The keyword here is consistency. It doesn't matter if it's the best workout to lose fat and get fit. If it is a plan that does not suit the individual's lifestyle, they won't stick with it, and they won't get the results they want. The best plan just failed. That is why when you are creating your programming or finding a program to do; you need to make a program that fits with your current lifestyle and circumstances, not the other way around. We'll break considerations into nutrition and training. First up, training!

Training

The key considerations when creating a consistent training plan include the following (they are not shown in any order. They are all important):

- Does it fit with your current lifestyle? This question is simple. Do you need to move many things around in your current schedule to fit in training?

- How many times a week can you train?

- How long can you train for each session?

- Do you enjoy the exercises in the program? No point running if you hate running. The same goes for any movement. If you don’t like doing it, you won’t do it.

- Can you do the exercises in the program? You need to consider your current physical shape and current physical activity levels. Someone who is 50kg overweight doing plenty of high impact movement (*box jump... cough cough*) is a recipe for disaster.

Nutrition

Some of these points are similar to the workout points. That means they are essential because they’re repeated twice.

- Is it an eating routine that you can see yourself doing for six months? 12 months? The rest of your life? I believe this is an important question to ask. Like the title of the article says, consistency is king! It is crucial to think long term when thinking about improving your current eating habits. Everyone is different. Some will be able to get away with being less restrictive than others, again like we have unique fingerprints, nutrition for everyone is unique!

A little tangent-the above statement means you should not base your eating routine on a “fitness guru” you follow on social media or you find on the internet. The reason for this is because they don’t know you. They don’t know your likes/dislikes, allergies and intolerances (if applicable), and so on. The point I am making is do not blindly follow anyone’s advice just because they have millions of followers or because they “look good.” Remember, find a plan that suits your current lifestyle; don’t make the plan fit your lifestyle. Either see a dietician, nutritionist, or a nutrition coach or trainer who knows their shit when it comes to nutrition. With that tangent/rant over, let’s move on!

- Does it fit your lifestyle? Surprise, surprise. This question comes up again because it is crucial! For example, I am of Asian descent (Filipino). We Filipino’s love our rice, like all other Asian people. Cutting out rice completely, for me anyway, is out of the question. Even when I diet down, I still have some rice. Not a lot, but I don’t completely cut it out. This moves us to our next point.

- Do not go completely cold turkey if it is something you “can’t live without.” It’s in quotation marks because you can most likely live without it; it’s just that you choose not to. Again, no judgement. Like my example above, you don’t need to go cold turkey, just reduce it or eat it on certain days of the week.

As you can see, I have more anecdotes and more to say when it comes to nutrition. Through scientific research and my experience training many people, nutrition is where everyone needs plenty of work.

Performing the plan

This one seems like a no brainer. You have to do it to get the results you want. That is why, in the point above, I mentioned taking your working out and nutrition needs into substantial consideration when planning. It’s simple; you like it, you do it, you don’t like it, you won’t do it or at least do it consistently enough for you to see results.

I’m a fan of James Clears’ book, Atomic Habits. In the book, Mr. Clear highlights a useful tool anyone can use to change their habits and get massive results. The tool goes as follows: change the smallest habit first. Do it consistently, and once you have “mastered” that habit, add another small habit on top. This is known as habit stacking. You pretty much repeat the process till you get to where you want to be.

So, let’s take the process, and I’ll give training and nutrition advice on how to utilise habit stacking effectively. But first, a tangent. Joe Blow is overweight, works behind the desk from 9 to 5, eats highly processed foods throughout the day. The only exercise he gets is the walk from his workplace to the train station. One day, Joe Blow is told by his doctors that he needs to lose 20kg if he wants to live long and prosper. So, Joe Blow joins a gym, starts working out five days a week doing a combination of high-intensity classes and weights, spending 1 to 1.5 hours at the gym per session. When it comes to his nutrition, he decides to go on the keto diet and gets rid of every food that does not adhere to the keto protocol. He goes hard from the start. Joe Blow losses some weight. Initially. After a few weeks’ life gets busy due to work and family commitments. Joe stops exercising, starts eating carbs again, and he is back to the start. Joe failed to create long-lasting eating and nutrition habits by changing too much too soon. Habits take a while to build. According to James Clear, anywhere from 12 to 122 days, depending on the complexity of the new habit. My point is, for the majority of people, going slow and steady is the best option.

The scenario, albeit unique to everyone, has a similar narrative to many people who try and improve their health. They go too hard too fast. It is natural because I believe one reason is when motivation is high; we want to do it. However, motivation is like petrol; it eventually runs out, but unlike petrol, you can’t replenish quickly. That is why it is important to make your working out, and nutrition changes a habit so you will automatically do it. How do you make it a habit? By starting with the smallest, easiest thing, you can think of doing.

Let’s take Joe Blow again and use the scenario above to highlight a more effective way of doing things. For training, Joe decides that the easiest thing he can do to get healthy is by adding a 10mins of extra walking per day, on top of his 20 minutes communal walk. Joe does this for two weeks. He then realises that he can walk more. So, Joe adds another 10 minutes. 40 minutes in total. Joe does this for a few weeks and repeats the process until he gets to 60 minutes of walking per day. This might take Joe a few weeks to implement, but remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your current, unhealthy state didn’t happen overnight. So, don’t expect to get fit and lose body fat in a few weeks.

In regards to his nutrition, I would ask Joe to consider thinking about the following statement; What is the easiest thing I can do when it comes to my nutrition that, by doing so, will allow me to be healthier? This is different for everyone. Some frequent small changes that anyone can implement is drinking more water. How do you do that? Have a water bottle and set a goal of how many water bottles full you are going to drink for the day. Done. Again, you do that for a few weeks till it becomes second nature, then add another nutrition habit asking yourself the same question; What is the easiest thing I can do when it comes to my nutrition that by doing so will allow me to be healthier?

So far, we have set a consistent plan and doing the plan. The examples I have used in this article are just that, examples. They work, but do they work for you? Again, my biggest issue with health and fitness these days is that generic templates run rampant—coaches and trainers, giving everyone the same plan so they can sell more of their products and services. As a health professional, you are doing a disservice to the people you are serving by doing this. There are certain things everyone should be doing, but that is a discussion for another article.

In conclusion, set a consistent plan that you can perform by considering the questions above and stick with that plan by implementing habits to do so. Again, this tip is not for everyone. Some people can get away going cold turkey off the bat. Others have to make weight for their sport. As they say, there are many ways to skin a cat. You just need to find the way that works best for you!

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