Did you know that 99.9% of all new years resolutions fail within the first 9 days?
OK, so I made that up.
I don’t know the exact statistic, and I really couldn’t be bothered trawling through the ABS website trying to find it, but I don’t doubt that this number is too far from the truth.
An incredible number of people make new years resolutions come the turn of January, every single year.
They swear they will finally start eating better, finally lose those 10kgs, and finally get ready to run that marathon – and they start like a bull out of a gate.
Until it simply just peters out.
They run out of steam.
Their five runs a week quickly turn into three, and then one, and then they just stop completely.
All that healthy meal prep becomes too much of a hassle, and boy oh boy does that Zambrero’s look damngood right now.
But there is always next year, right?
Cant wait to fail all over again…
Why your resolutions fail?
So, why do most new years resolutions fail?
In my humble opinion, those people who fail simply bite off more than they can chew.
They essentially try and turn their entire life around the space of a few days.
Really, is it any wonder that it all falls apart?
Building healthy habits take a unique combination of time and willpower – both of which are, in my personal opinion, finite resources.
As soon as you exhaust your supply of either one, well, you can say adios to your resolution.
What can you do about it?
The key to making your new years resolution actually stick comes down to making simple lifestyle changes that are not only easy to implement (and therefore require minimal willpower), but also offer a whole lot of bang for your buck.
Target the low hanging fruit, if you will.
For example, if your goal does happen to be something weight loss related, then its probably not in your best interest to try and completely overhaul your entire diet.
Because, ultimately, you will fail.
A much better approach would be to focus on those areas where you constantly fall down, and then aim to correct them.
If you often snack on sweets after dinner, throw out your sweets (willpower is no longer an issue).
If you struggle eat enough protein, have a protein shake before dinner (easy and effective).
And if you find yourself without the time required to prepare your food during the week? Prepare your meals in advance (zero effort during the week).
Each of these with have a very large impact on your diet, and honestly do not require all that much effort or willpower.
From an exercise perspective, what if you find that you want to actually start an exercise program and work towards a training goal? Then make sure to start small.
Don’t try and go for a run every day, because again, you will fail.
Try commencing you new routine with one session per week. Adhere to this for a month, and then slowly add in a second.
Make it habitual, and make it easy.
One run per week for an entire year is going to have much more impact than getting in five runs in a single week once per year.
Makes sense, right?
Of course, if you are after any help (or even some simple ideas) drop us a comment and we will endeavor to get back to you as quickly as possible so that we can give you hand.
With Christmas around the corner, we are entering a period of overwhelming enjoyment.
Days off work, weekends that are filled with staff shows and family functions, and of course lunches and dinners with friends.
How good is it?
But, as always, there is a small negative associated.
Namely the fact that we have a tendency to go absolutely crazy across the entire Christmas period, throwing caution to the wind, and eating our weight in goodies.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer that a bad meal isn’t going to derail your progress.
A single piece of fruit isn’t going to make you skinny, and a single donut isn’t going to make you fat. As we all know, it is the accumulation of good habits that keeps us healthy, while alternatively, its the accumulation of not so good habits that makes us unhealthy.
However, despite knowing this full well, we as humans seem to love a good blowout.
I’ll use myself as an example.
The Cadbury Effect
I am a sucker for chocolate.
I have a ridiculous sweet tooth, and to be completely honest, chocolate is my proverbial kryptonite.
Interestingly, my wife and I could have an unopened block of chocolate in the fridge for the better part of a year, and I wont touch the thing. However, if we were to open it, I can guarantee that it will be gone within the hour.
Now, I realize that this doesn’t really make sense, but the reason I do this is to get rid of it.
Somewhere in the depth of my subconscious, I think to myself: ‘stuff it, I’ve already blown it, I might as well eat the whole thing‘.
We know it doesn’t make sense, but we still do it every damn time.
Not just for chocolate either (which is still not great) – we as humans have a tendency to do it for absolutely everything.
Even things that last for days or weeks at a time…
The Christmas Blowout
When it comes to Christmas, things can go downhill pretty fast.
A bad afternoon can easily turn into a very bad weekend. And that weekend can very easily roll into an extremely bad week.
All of which comes down to that same mindset.
“Welp, Ive blown it – ill get back on track after new years…”
Extremely common, and extremely stupid.
All in all I completely understand where we are coming from, but that doesn’t make this mindset any less flawed.
We know that one single afternoon of eating and drinking isn’t going to derail a years worth of progress.
Hell, outside of a little bit of bloating and a potential stomach ache, the likelihood of this single night doing any lasting damage is pretty slim.
But two weeks of eating, drinking, and being merry?
That’s when the damage starts to accumulate.
Diet Damage Control
So in my mind, diet damage control over Christmas comes down to mindset.
Take a step back and realize that a single meal isn’t going to derail all of your hard work and progress.
Enjoy that meal as much as humanly possible. Be social, drink, and be happy.
But don’t let it become a two week binge.
Keep physically active (as normal) over the Christmas period.
Eat as you normally would outside of those key social situations.
Its a bit of an interesting question, and one I have found myself thinking about quite a lot of late. Which funnily enough, all started with a podcast.
I was always somewhat resistant to the rising popularity of podcasts. But over time I have found them to be pretty interesting. A good way to find out about topics that I wouldn’t normally explore without the input of someone else.
A good way to learn about different ways of thinking, and different areas of health.
Ultimately a different way to learn, I guess.
Anyway, to get back on track, I was listening to a podcast that featured a health professional by the name of Paul Chek.
While a number of Paul Chek’s methods are somewhat controversial, during this podcast he made a statement that really resonated with me.
“At some point in your life, your health will become your highest priority – its just a matter of when”
Its Just A Matter of When
I realized that this was entirely true.
There will undoubtedly reach a time in your life when your own health will rise to the top of your list of priorities.
No questions asked.
For me, it was when I decided I no longer wanted to be a skinny teenager. I wanted to build muscle, and to put it somewhat bluntly, look good naked.
A little bit vain? Maybe? But that was what prompted me to pay attention to what I put in my mouth and to start exercising regularly.
Its really what led me to where I am today.
I know many other people who have had a similar singular moment, albeit under slightly different circumstances.
I know people who have suddenly found themselves 10kgs heavier than they were on their wedding day. They might have realized that they have let themselves go. That they need to make a change before things get ‘too bad’ (so to speak).
I know people who have repeatedly gotten injured throughout their sporting careers.
They never managed to string more than a few games together before being forced into another extended layoff. These people started to take the health of their body seriously to ensure that they could keep playing sport pain free for as long as they could.
And I also know people who waited until it was almost too late.
People who got some nasty news from the doctor. They might have found out that they have been diagnosed with diabetes, or maybe cardiovascular disease. Maye they tried to get out of bed one morning and realized that they literally cannot stand up unassisted. Or that they can no longer climb the stairs without hanging off the hand rail.
Or maybe they just had their first grandchild?
And they have come to the stark realization that they want to be there for them for as a long as they can…
Somewhat depressing to think about, I agree.
But it does happen, and all too often at that.
Become Health Focused
Something that really stands out to me in regards to the above scenarios is that the earlier you decide to become health focused, the greater the impact it will have on your life.
If you start eating well and strength training as a skinny teen, you will build healthy habits that will last you a lifetime. You will maintain function indefinitely. Your risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes will be significantly reduced.
Obesity? Not a problem.
In short, you will live a long and happy life.
But what if you start much, much, later in life? If you are already riddled with disease.
The realization that if you don’t do something soon things will go downhill fast, has already hit home?
While I would be the first to say that it is undoubtedly better to start late than never, I would also be inclined to suggest that the benefits you see will be markedly less the later you start.
Most of your time will be spent reversing the damage that a life of sedentary activity has done to your body. The damage that a life of poor eating, weight gain, and lack of use, has done to your body.
Rather than improving function and maximizing health.
Again, this doesn’t mean that it is by any means a waste of time.
Hell, it will probably get you as few extra years on this amazing planet we call home.
But when I think about how I want to end my life on this planet, I certainly don’t want to be bedridden and incapacitated. I don’t want to be struggling to keep going on a daily basis. I want to be walking, running, and lifting, every single day. I want to end it on my terms, with thousands of independent and activity filled days behind me.
And I honestly believe I will, because I have made my health a priority before it was too late.
I can certainly appreciate that the words ‘train smarter not harder’ do indeed come across a little gimmicky – but that certainly doesn’t make them any less appropriate.
For those of you who are aware of the iNform way, you would understand the premium we place on quality movement.
Our process always starts with the identification of movement dysfunction and muscular imbalances. We can then prioritize your training to improve upon these identified issues, therefore causing lasting improvements in how well you move. This process essentially acts as the foundation from which you can commence your performance journey – ultimately setting you up for future training success, exponentially increasing your physical capabilities, all while simultaneously reducing your risk of injury.
Pretty cool, right?
There is (or as of now, was) however, a little bit of kicker.
While each and every one of us here are iNform have always had a firm belief that this process worked, and worked well (and had the anecdotal evidence to prove it), we didn’t really have a method of quantifying it.
Well, until now, that is.
Train Smarter Not Harder
So, for those of you in the know, I am currently undertaking a PhD at the University of South Australia, where I am looking at the associations between movement quality and physical performance.
In short, I am testing out the effectiveness of the iNform methodology.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am well aware that this could have been disastrous. Imagine spending three years of my life trying to prove something that iNform have been building for the better part of two decades, and then seeing it fail.
And it all comes crashing down.
Like I said, disastrous.
However, as you might have guessed (given the title of this post and all), this wasn’t the case.
In fact, the key training study that I am going to be talking about genuinely smashed all expectations out of the park.
While I wont give you all the boring details (especially since the study is yet to be published), I will give you a bit of a rundown of what we did, and what the results were – and I can only assume that you will be as impressed as I was…
A Big Tick For Movement Quality
Pretty simply, we recruited a bunch of people into the study who had a fair amount of gym experience (about 6 years on average). We then took them through a battery of tests. These included iNforms MovementSCREEN assessment of movement quality, the FMS (another assessment of movement quality), and a number of strength and power measures.
To be honest, it was pretty comprehensive (and fairly time consuming…).
We then split the participants into two evenly matched groups.
One group underwent a training program built around the results of their individual movement assessment. This training was designed to improve upon any pre-identified movement dysfunctions and muscle imbalances (we can call these guys the iNform group). The second group underwent a training program built around the recommend guidelines for resistance training. This was done with intent to improve strength and physical capabilities (we will cause these guys the strength group).
Both groups underwent two (both 60 minutes long) training sessions per week for a total duration of 8 weeks. They were also fully supervised, with their training regime provided by a trainer in a one-on-one setting. At the end of each training session we also took a measure to determine how challenging the participants perceived the training.
Now it is important to note that the strength group weren’t simply performing some trashy cookie cutter program – it was still tailored to their individual capabilities, and it was built around training guidelines set by The American College of Sports Medicine.
It pretty much perfectly replicated what you would normally see in a normal personal training setting.
Which is why the results were so damn exciting (or at least, we think they are).
After the 8 weeks of training, we took all the participants through the same baseline testing battery. This allowed us to compare any differences between the two groups, and establish what method of training caused greater improvement in movement quality and performance.
Now to be completely honest, I did have a couple of expectations coming into this.
I really thought that the iNform group would see larger improvements in movement quality, while the strength group would see greater improvements in physical performance. Which in my mind, would make sense.
But that isn’t quite what happened.
The strength group saw large improvements in both their MovementSCREEN score of movement quality and their physical performance measures. With this, their FMS score of movement quality remained for the most part the same.
Interestingly, the iNform group saw the same degree of improvement in their strength and power measures. In conjunction with this, they saw greater improvements in their measures of movement quality.
Which in itself is pretty damn cool.
However, things start to get even more interesting when we start to look at how challenging the participants viewed their training…
You see, the iNform group found their training program significantly less difficult than the strength group. In fact, they rated every single session easier than the strength training group did.
Which suggests that they got better movement quality improvements and comparable performance improvements for less effort.
To be completely honest, these results took us somewhat by surprise. Not that we didn’t have faith in our processes, but the degree in which the iNform group improved their performance was pretty high – comparable to what most would consider the gold standard method of training.
Moreover, considering that this came with much less perceived effort, well its pretty outrageous really.
While we cant be sure why this happened, we suspect that it was because the iNform method of training is more ‘targeted’. It revolves around identifying the weakest link in the chain (or in this case, the body), and then training to improve that weakest link.
So although the method of training may be less intense than traditional strength training methods, it really works on what needs to be worked on.
Which obviously leads to improvements in performance and movement quality.
Take Home Message
I guess what we are trying to say is that the iNform way works. We now have evidence to support it, which we will be sharing in its entirety as soon as its published.
But what does this mean for you?
Well in my mind it clearly shows that training with iNform can improve how well you move, while simultaneously increasing your strength and power. Moreover, you will find this method of training less challenging than ‘traditional, training methods.
Each and every week there seems to be a shiny new health and fitness trend. You know what I’m talking about? That brand new exercise, amazing new way of eating, or incredible new superfood? Yep, the one that is going to boost health and “help you drop 10 kilos in as little as two week!”
Just to be clear – I am being a little bit sarcastic here.
Or very sarcastic here.
Anyhow – while most of us are going to be highly skeptical of these claims (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), it can make it a challenge to sort through all the misinformation and find something that actually works.
Like Intermittent Fasting for example.
As you are most likely aware, intermittent fasting is a way of eating that has gained a lot of attention over the last couples of years. It has been described as an ‘incredible way’ to both promote fat loss and improve health.
But is this really the case?
While these claims may seem rather lofty (I can hear your bullshit sensor going off from here…), there is evidence to suggest that it may assist in achieving both of these goals quickly and efficiently. When it’s implemented correctly, that is.
Now before we dive right into the rest of the article, I want to add a bit of a disclaimer. Intermittent fasting is not the be-all end-all of dietary interventions. It’s not going to do all the work for you – and it’s certainly not going to get you ‘shredded in weeks, brah’.
But it does offer a tool that can be used to help you boost health and promote weight loss.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
So, to put it pretty simply, intermittent fasting describes small periods of eating that are broken up by longer periods of not eating (or fasting).
While at first glance this may seem like a stupid concept, it is important to note that we all undertake a period of fasting during the night while we sleep. Overnight we obviously (and unavoidably) abstain from eating, and then break our fast with whatever we chose to eat upon waking.
Simple stuff really.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that the term ‘intermittent fasting’ actually covers a broad range of eating patterns. As a result, there are a number of different approaches to intermittent fasting that can be used.
Some intermittent fasting protocols recommend that you extend your overnight fasting period by a few hours, while others suggest that you should fast for days at a time. No matter what you choose to do, you are essentially trying to cause the same key outcomes.
Namely capitalizing on the hormonal changes that occur when the body is in a fasted state.
What are the ‘Real’ Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
As I have mentioned briefly, intermittent fasting has been said to both boost health and enhance weight loss – but like most things of this nature, some of its claims have been somewhat blown out of proportion.
With this in mind, I have compiled some of the research around intermittent fasting and its impact on the human body
So first and foremost, after a period of fasting, we see some key hormonal changes in the body:
Insulin is often considered the ‘energy storage hormone’, as it causes the uptake of proteins, glucose, and fatty acids into the body’s cells. To describe it rather simplistically, when insulin levels are high, the body is in a state of storage.
Alternatively, when insulin levels are low, the body is suggested to have easier access to fatty acids for energy, which has been said to have some positive (albeit small) implications for fat loss.
Interestingly, a reduction in insulin secretion has also shown to reduce your risk of developing metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease, and even age related cognitive decline.
Now this is important, because human growth hormone plays key role in the breakdown of fat for energy and the development of new muscle tissue. As a result, prolonging its natural secretion can have some positive implications for your body composition.
Namely, more muscle mass and less fat mass – although again, the impact here is relatively small.
Through the interactions of each of these factors, intermittent fasting has also been shown to cause small, yet measurable, increases in resting metabolic rate. This meas that you will be burning more energy at rest than you would be normally.
So, in short – Intermittent fasting can put your body in a state that makes it easier to lose weight and has potential metabolic health benefits.
Are There Any Other Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Now, while the hormonal impact of intermittent fasting is undoubtedly positive – particularly in regards to improving metabolic health – it certainly isn’t its biggest bonus in terms of weight loss.
In fact, I would argue that there is one very good reason as to why intermittent fasting can help you lose weight.
And it comes down to the fact that it makes you eat less.
I know – pretty damn clever, right?
By restricting the amount of food you eat during the day, you will eat less on a weekly basis (duh…).
This makes it much easier to maintain a weekly energy deficit, which will obviously lead to weight loss and some associated improvements in health.
What’s the Best Way to Do Intermittent Fasting?
As I have already mentioned briefly, there are a number of unique intermittent fasting protocols that you can use, however, I like to opt for a rather simple approach. This makes it not only easy to implement, but also much easier to stick to.
Regimented Intermittent Fasting
You see, some people recommend regimented and timed fasting protocols. With these, you can only eat between certain times during the day – for example, only eating between 1pm and 8pm every single day.
This is done to provide an eating regime, ensuring that you avoid food outside of these times and guaranteeing that a prolonged period of fasting is maintained.
However, while this does seem like a fairly logical approach, I believe that it does have some associated downfalls.
Firstly, this particular method is very restrictive. It offers absolutely zero flexibility on a day-by-day basis. This is important because in my mind, those diets (or in this case, eating patterns) that are most successful are those that are the easiest to stick to.
No flexibility = hard to stick to.
Secondly, these arbitrary and regimented eating windows don’t factor in the time you wake up, or the time that you go to bed. As a result, they are not really applicable to everyone at an individual level.
Easy Intermittent Fasting
So with all this in mind, it’s pretty obvious that the benefits of intermittent fasting come from spending time in a fasted state. This means a fast lasting anywhere between 12 and 18 hours will have the positive effects previously mentioned – no matter what time we start to fast each day.
As a result, if someone is interested in trying intermittent fasting, I recommend that they simply fast for around 5 or 6 hours after waking each day. This will work irrespective of whether they wake up at 5am, 8am, or even 10am.
This still provides more than enough time to get the positive effects of intermittent fasting (often still using around a 16 hour fast), without having to deal with the regimented time periods associated with our more traditional methods of fasting.
Simple and effective!
Intermittent Fasting Frequently Asked Questions
So you might find that while this seems well and good in theory, there are a few practicalities that need ironing out. Taking that into consideration, I have tried to answer some of the more common questions that people ask me when it comes to intermittent fasting.
What Can I Eat While I am Fasting?
So fasting essentially means abstaining from food in its entirety. As a result, during your fasting period, it is pretty much integral that you do not consume any calories.
This is because as soon as energy enters the body, we see hormonal changes that ultimately eliminate the positive effects that are associated with intermittent fasting.
But, it’s important to note that you don’t have to abstain from absolutely anything.
Zero calorie beverages, such as black coffee and green tea are fantastic options. While I must admit that they are not all that filling, they do actually have the ability to blunt hunger. This can make managing your fasting period much easier.
Can I Drink Liquids during the Fast?
Building on the above point, you can certainly consume liquids, but again, they have to be non-caloric. So again, black and green tea, black coffee, and water are all fine.
Although it might be worth avoiding the addition of sugar and milk to these…
Isn’t it unhealthy to skip breakfast?
This is a question that comes up pretty often, and I believe it’s based off of the age old suggestion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – to which I would argue that it probably isn’t.
You see, while there is some research to suggest that people who skip breakfast tend to be less healthy than their breakfast eating counterparts, this isn’t the whole story. It is more likely that most stereotypical breakfast skippers also have unhealthy lifestyles. So rather than them skipping breakfast causing their poor health, its the fact that their lifestyle cause poor health..
So in short, as long as you eat healthy meals the rest of the day, you will be fine!
When is it best to workout with intermittent fasting?
In an ideal world, you would exercise in between your first and second meal – so either early afternoon or evening. This would ensure that you have adequate energy available to support your training session. Additionally, it will also provide you with all the necessary nutrients you need to recover after that training session.
However, I realize that we can’t always do this (you know, because of life…) – which lends itself to our next question quite nicely.
Can I work out while fasted?
First and foremost, I should note that your body isn’t as fragile as some people suggest. With this, it’s certainly not going to spontaneously combust if you decide to exercise without eating anything beforehand.
Your body swill still be full to the brim with all the energy you consumed yesterday. So in the grand scheme of things, neither your performance nor your recovery will be limited.
I should note that while training fasted for 30-60 minutes will be fine, running an ultramarathon fasted is probably not the best idea…
Isn’t fasting bad for my metabolism?
The short answer to this one is no.
The suggestion that not eating will cause your metabolism to slow down is based on evidence showing a small increase in energy usage eating. This acute increase in energy expenditure is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF ultimately refers to the energy required to break down and digest the food that you have just consumed.
The assumption is that if you eat more often, you will cause acute increases in your metabolism more frequently, and burn more energy as a result.
But TEF doesn’t work like that.
TEF is determined by your total daily energy intake (and often sits between 10-20% of the food you eat). So it doesn’t matter whether you eat 6 small meals totaling 2000 calories, or one large meal totaling 2000 calories. As long as the macronutrient profile of that food remains the same, so will your TEF.
So no, fasting isn’t bad or your metabolism in any way, shape, or form.
Can I Eat Anything I Want During My Eating Window?
A common misconception that sits around fasting relates to the suggestion that you can eat anything you want. Which i can assure you is not true,
Even despite the benefits associated with intermittent fasting, you can still overeat during your fasting window. This can essentially render any of those possible benefits completely useless, leading to weight gain and declines in health.
So with all this in mind, it is in your best interest to eat a normal healthy diet during your eating period. This means that you will still get in all your essential vitamins and minerals, but with less energy on a daily basis,
Does it get easier?
And finally, one question that comes up quite a bit is ‘how do I deal with my hunger pains?’ And to be completely honest, it does get easier after a week or so. In fact, it probably gets easier after only a few days.
Often we eat out of routine – not out of necessity.
With that in mind, the hunger signals you receive in the morning are only there because you haven’t eaten at a time when you normally would. After an hour or so they will dissipate completely, and you can carry on with your day as normal.
So yes – it should get much easier.
Take Home Message
Intermittent fasting isn’t going to save the worlds obesity crisis, cure diabetes, or eliminate cancer. But it does offer a useful tool that can be implemented to help facilitate weight loss and improve metabolic health.
It also doesn’t have to be complex.
The intermittent fasting protocol outlined in this article offers a simple and effective way to fit this unique way of eating around your own individual schedule, This makes it less restrictive and more effective as a result.
If you have any questions, drop a comment down below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!