Many of us are or have been in the past, unhappy with the way our bodies look. Or maybe we aren’t exactly unhappy but we think our bodies could look even better.
I know I have definitely been in this position before.
Fortunately, there are ways to get our bodies looking the way we want them to and keep them that way. This post is here to help you!
Steps to getting there
There are some steps that you need to take in order to get where you want to be in terms of the way your body looks.
Step 1- Be realistic
You need to start by taking a good look at yourself. Look at your bone structure, your overall shape, where your problem areas tend to be etc.
You are completely and uniquely you!
You may look at pictures of other people on Instagram, blogs, YouTube or even Pinterest and want to look just like them. You can’t.
You need to be realistic about things. Yes, you can look better if you want to but you will still look like you. This will be different than the other people you may be looking at.
You also might not have success with other people’s diets and exercise plans. You might have to go lower or higher on the calories to get where you want to be. Or you might have to work even harder than someone else to gain muscle.
Again, everyone is different. You are not a failure if someone else’s exact plan doesn’t work as well for you.
Even if you do get your body looking the way you want it to, you might still have days where you feel like you don’t look good. Maybe you are a little bloated or just simply having one of those low-confidence days. Whatever you do, try not to look at those pictures of other people on social media/various websites and stew about it. The feeling will pass.
Knowing what to expect out of your journey and getting into a healthy mindset beforehand, will make you way more successful in the long run.
Step 2- Figure out what you want to change
Once you have a good mindset going, it is time to figure out what exactly you want to change about your body. Are you trying to lose or gain weight? Do you want to add more muscle to your frame, get sculpted/leaner or get your butt bigger/perkier?
This is all something to think about in order to move forward on your body journey. If you don’t know what you want changed, then you can’t really start to make a plan for yourself.
Specific changes take specific measures.
Step 3- Figure out your diet plan
No matter what specific change you want to make in your body, diet will play a huge role in that change happening. You are most likely going to have to tweak something about your regular daily food intake.
Here is a list of some changes people may want to make in regards to their bodies and how their diets may need to be
- Lose fat and build muscle: Lowered calories (not too low) with an emphasis on the quality of food and nutrient count (carbs, proteins and fat).
- Lose fat: Lowered calories (lower than if you wanted to burn fat and gain muscle) with an emphasis on the quality of food and nutrient count (carbs, protein and fat)
- Lose weight: Lowered calories.
- Gain weight: Increase calories.
- Gain weight and build muscle: Increased calories with an emphasis on the quality of food and nutrient count (carbs, protein and fat).
- Lose stubborn fat around belly: Lowered calories with an emphasis on nutrient content and possibly timed eating.
There are many different types of diets/ways of eating that you can choose from to help reach your goals. The best one is the one that you can stick to for a long time. It should also provide the nutrients your body needs.
Instead of just jumping onto a specific diet bandwagon, research should be done and the following questions should be asked:
- Would this be sustainable for me?
- Do I like any of the meals and snacks that I would get to have?
- Would I be able to make it fit my budget?
- Do I think I could reach my goals on it?
The keto diet gets talked about a ton but it isn’t the end-all-be-all. While many people have said to have lost weight on it and have been able to maintain the diets for years, it doesn’t work for everyone due to various reasons. Here is a list of some other popular diet plans that are always ranked high by medical experts:
- Mediterranean diet- Includes lots of whole foods and healthy fats. Consistently ranks in the top five best diets lists.
- The Mayo Clinic diet- Includes lots of whole foods and puts an emphasis on sustainability.
- DASH diet- This focuses on eating meals and snacks that will ultimately help keeps blood pressure at a healthy reading. One way it does this is by the watching of salt intake.
- Flexitarian diet- Includes eating mostly plant based but allowing for the occasional meat and fish to be consumed.
- WW (Weight Watchers)- This is a well-known diet program that will help you lose weight based on a points system.
It is important to note that none of these diet plans need to be followed in order to be successful in reaching your body goals. You can do a combination of the diet plans, only focus on lowering the calories you eat, cut out sugars along with lowering calories, only focus on increasing the calories you eat, keep carbohydrates under a certain amount etc.
Another diet-related thing you could do is intermittent fasting. This may aid in weight and fat loss if that is your goal. A common time to fast for is 16 hours with an eight hour eating window.
No matter what food you include in your daily diet and when you eat, you will most likely have to make adjustments to your calorie intake in order to make some body changes. To figure out the amount of calories necessary to make these changes, a calorie calculator will come in handy.
There a few good calorie calculators you can find online. They all have you put in your age, weight, height, gender and activity level. With this information, they are able to give you the specific calorie amounts needed. The numbers may vary a bit between calculators.
My personal favorite calorie calculator is the one from Calculator.net. This particular one will give you the calories you need to maintain, lose weight at a slow speed, lose weight at a regular speed, lose weight at a fast speed and the calories you need to gain weight. It also gives you a zig-zag dieting plan to follow based on your results.
So basically, for your diet plan you need to:
- Figure out the way you want to eat
- Calculate the calories necessary for you goal(s).
Step 4: Figure out your fitness plan
Diet is the biggest part of making body changes but fitness should also be part of it, too. It can help burn extra calories, assist in the body composition change, increase the health of your cardiovascular system and get you stronger.
Just like figuring out your diet, you need to figure out workouts that you can stick with consistently. There are many different ones out there so you are sure to find something you will like (or at least tolerate!).
If you already have a consistent workout routine…great! Maybe you can take a look at it and see if you need to tweak it a bit or change it up completely.
Here are some workout related ideas for you to consider:
- Just beginning with cardio? Start out with taking regular walks. After a while, increase the distance and speed.
- Just beginning with strength training? Start out lifting some light weights and/or resistance bands.
- Do bodyweight workouts if you have no access to weights and other equipment.
- Have the space and budget for a workout room/area? Get some weights, resistance bands, a workout bench, pull up bar, treadmill etc. Remember, you don’t need something really expensive (like the mirror workout product) to get in great shape.
- Start weightlifting four days a week.
- Start lifting heavier weights to build muscle.
- Add in HIIT training to your workout routine.
- Try a new physical activity once in a while such as hiking
- Start adding in Yoga poses to your workout routine for a good stretch, flexibility practice and stress relief.
In summary, develop a fitness plan that will help you reach your specific goals and be consistent with. Type up this plan so you can have it to look back on as a reference. It will help to refresh your memory on what is in your plan for each particular day.
Site for great at-home workouts: http://www.fitnessblender.com
Site for great exercise information: http://www.exrx.net
Site for lots of great workout routines: http://www.muscleandstrength.com
Site for calories burned during exercise: https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/healthtool-exercise-calculator
Step 5: Write your S.M.A.R.T. goal
S.M.A.R.T. goals take things a bit farther than just the regular way of making goals. They involve you thinking deeper about what you want to have happen, how you are going to get there and when you want to get there. Doing this may make you more successful on your journey.
Lets get into what the letters stand for in S.M.A.R.T. so that you can get started developing this type of goal for yourself!
S-This stands for “specific” which requires you to state specifically what you want to have happen. Examples of this are as follows:
- “I want to look good in my form fitting university hoodies.”
- “I want my arms to look better in t-shirts and tank tops.”
- “I want to look better in the expensive suit I bought.”
- “I want to obtain a bikini body.”
- “I want to gain mass on my back and arms.”
M- This stands for “measurable” which requires you to figure out how you are going to measure the progress you are making towards your goal. To do this, you must come up with mini goals or milestones along the way. This will prove that your plan is work. Examples of this are as follows:
- “I will lose 3.5 pounds in the first three weeks of the journey.”
- “My hockey team sweatshirt will fit looser in four months.”
- “My arms will develop some definition in three months.”
- I will gain .5 inches on my arms in two months.”
If you are not meeting these milestones you set, make sure to reassess your plan so that you start to. Also, think about rewarding yourself with things when you do meet the milestones (i.e. buy yourself a new shirt when you lose eight pounds.).
A- This stands for “achievable” or “attainable”. This part of the goal plan has you consider if your goal is attainable and if so, how you will reach it. An example of this is as follows:
- Leah has a goal of losing 20 pounds. She will do this by using her home gym and eating a healthier diet.
R- This stands for “relevant.” When planning your goal you have to think about how it relates to an even larger goal you have for your life. For example, Leah’s larger goal may be to feel more confident about the way she looks and have an overall healthier body.
T- This stands for “time-bound.” You are to decide on when you want to meet your goal. For example, Leah may say she wants to lose the 20 pounds in four months.
Writing out your S.M.A.R.T. goal is a good idea as you can have it to look back on and see how you are doing with your goal.
For more on developing this type of goal for yourself, check out this site: https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/essential-guide-writing-smart-goals
Step 6: Go!
You got your goal figured out, diet plan and workout routine. Now it is time to get started on the journey! There are times where it will be hard but with some effort and perseverance you put in to plan everything out, you are sure to see some success.
Throughout the goal journey, it is important to do what I call, “life check-ins.” This involves sitting yourself down and thinking about how things are going for you in all aspects of your life. Seeing where you are at with everything (not just your physical body) and making the necessary changes can further aid in the success of your goal.
Steps to maintaining it
You reached your goal! Yay! Now, lets get you to keep that body.
These are some steps for body maintenance after all your hard work:
Step 1: Assess your yourself
Once you get to the end of your goal journey, it is important to take another good look at yourself just as you did in the beginning. These are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Am I happy with the way I look now?
- Am I fitting in clothes the way I want to be?
- Have I been consistent enough with workouts?
- Am I eating a decent diet?
- Am I developing any bad eating habits?
- Am I becoming too obsessed with exercising and my weight?
If you feel like your body isn’t exactly where you want it to be (i.e. bulking and cutting cycle), go and make some changes with your diet and/or exercise. You now have the tools to be able to do so.
If you feel like you are slipping into disordered eating and/or exercise behaviors, try to get help. Reach out to your support system and/or look into counseling to get you back on a healthy track (it may take time).
If you are feeling happy with yourself, than read on for the next steps!
Step 2: Figure out maintenance diet
If you have been eating to gain weight or lose weight, you are going to have to change your calories to keep the look of your body. This is what is called, maintenance calories.
If you have been trying to lose weight, your maintenance calories will be higher so you do not keep losing. If you want to maintain your weight gain, your maintenance calories should be a little less so that you don’t gain any more weight but not too much less that you lose weight.
Fortunately, some calorie calculators (like the one I have linked in this post) include the calories you need to be at to maintain your weight. Remember that sometimes the calculators aren’t always 100% accurate so you may have to do a different amount of calories than what they suggest.
Step 3- Change up your workouts
Our bodies get used to the same workouts after a while so it is best to change things up. This can involve finding new ones to do and making current ones more intense.
Keep that body guessing!
Keeping a journal to help reach your goal
Not everyone likes to write in journals, but they can really help in tracking food intake and exercise done. There are phone apps for inputting the food you eat but sometimes it is quicker to just write down what you ate instead of searching for the food on the app.
A simple food journal with space to also write down your fitness activities would suffice. You can also just use a regular notebook!
Getting the body I wanted
Over a year ago, I decided that I wanted to get leaner and more sculpted. I came up with a detailed plan for myself which included all of the steps I have listed in this post. I also used my handy-dandy Women’s Health: Daily Journal and Planner to further help me reach my goal.
I am proud to say that I have maintained this body for almost a year now!
I do not look perfect by any means, but I am happy with where I am at. If I want to make any changes in the future, I will be going back through the process to be successful again.
Wonderful changes can be made!
You can change your body for the better just like I did. The steps I have detailed in this post will help you to do so.
The road to changing your body may be tough at times, but you can and will get there in the end.
Are you happy with your body right now or are there changes you want to make? I would love to hear about it!
Thanks for reading!
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