The one thing that you should do instead of calorie counting

This trainer wants you give up restrictive diets and focus on this method, which is far more beneficial for your health. 

Photos: Instagram @pip_edwards1, @georgialove

If you’re adopting a calorie deficit approach to health, it’s very possible that you will be compromising your social and potentially your mental wellbeing, plus it’s not a very positive way to live, especially in the long term.

When you cut calories, you’re likely depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to function effectively, and at its best potential. Instead, you should make your goal to be fit – this will increase your health, your physical strength and can boost your all-round wellbeing. Here’s why…

It gives your purpose

It’s good to remember that aesthetics tend to come as a result of getting fit for performance. If you’re aiming to be fit, you would arguably have a goal in mind, whether it be to compete in the City2Surf, do 10 chin ups, be able to do 20 burpees in 60 seconds, whatever it may be.

When you have a goal you have a purpose to your session whereas if you’re under eating and going to training with the mindset that you’re unhappy with your body, you’re less likely to enjoy it and training (and eating well!) is more likely to be sporadic than become a lifestyle that you can maintain and enjoy.

It’s good for your mind

More businesses and high performing individuals are taking an interest in being fit, not only for themselves but also for their team as many find that it’s good for their mindset and productivity levels.

While an entrepreneur may have dozens of staff relying on them for a paycheck each week – not to mention, clients calling at all hours – many have found that staying on top of their health is a top priority because at the end of the day, if the exercise stops, their health can go downhill and with the loss of physical activity, many experience a lack of productivity, too.

Thanks to certain movies that need not be named (yes, we’re talking about Legally Blonde) most of us know that exercise produces endorphins. When you stop moving your body and exercising, it impacts far more than your flexibility levels.

So, if exercise gives you endorphins and is therefore supposed to make you happy, then why should you go into the gym with the mindset that you’re unhappy with your body, you’re only training because you have things you want to change and you are also living on a calorie deficit diet?! It’s counterintuitive, when you think about it. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have something to train for and therefore you can get inspired about your progress?

How can you expect your body to perform when it’s low on calories?

Think of your body like an engine. You put fuel in the tank so your car will drive, then the fuel burns and you need to refuel.

That’s the same with your body and especially if you exercise, fuel and hydration is important.

Don't expect your body (and your mind) to perform if you are not filling it with enough of the right stuff. Make sure you have a good balance of protein, carbs, fats and antioxidants… and stay hydrated!

It’s only going to be stressful for you if you are counting every thing that you eat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good think to have a healthy diet, but create one that suits you, is easy to maintain and is enjoyable.

To me, having a general level fitness and health would mean that my eating, training and recovery habits would increase my quality of life. They would allow me to:

  • Make my day-to-day duties, chores and routines easier. For instance I should be strong enough to carry the shopping from the back of my car into my house without too much effort and I should be able to run around with my kids as long as they want me to.
  • Your healthy lifestyle should also assist in the management of your stress levels. Studies have indicated that we are working longer hours and are more stressed than we were a decade ago. In fact according to the, Australians are reporting lower levels of wellbeing and higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety symptoms than they were even 5 years ago. Exercising and eating well is something that you can control to help manage your stress levels. Exercise can be meditative and improves your mood and self confidence, while putting bad foods into your body and increase inflammation and in some cases, anxiety especially if you are already stressed.
  • Being energised to spend quality time with my family while I'm not at work. Coming home after work, slumping onto your couch and not having the energy to spend quality time with your spouse or play with your kids is detrimental to your entire family’s happiness. This is something you may not have if you are unfit and not eating enough food.

Remember, there is more to life than constantly being on a diet. I would aim to develop a healthy lifestyle that works for you, strive towards being fit and leading a healthy, happy and balanced life.

How fit are you?

Chris Feather, one of Sydney’s most respected trainers, founded the infamous '98 Riley Street’ Gym, and has just released his own training program.

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fitness | body+soul