As you embark on your fitness journey, you will find that people have different goals, paths and results. But most people’s journey begins with the basic need to drop body fat/body weight and thus become healthier.
Often the first step is to cut out the obvious foods that are not good for you, for example fried food, fast foods and excess sugars, and to begin a basic exercise plan. During the first few weeks this is usually very successful. If you are one of the lucky ones, it is all that is required to attain your goals. For others, this fitness plan will cease to work after a few weeks and further stimulation is required to continue the weight loss process. This is where the next level of nutrition and exercise is required to continue to keep losing body fat.
Don’t just decrease caloric intake. Some people choose to just keep dropping their overall calorie intake and add extra cardiovascular activity. This can result in losing weight without toning or gaining muscle. Ultimately, the person may reach their goal to fit in the desired dress/pant size, but in swimwear will look untoned and possibly have visible fat pockets. Plus, they are left feeling tired and hungry.
Build muscle for an improved metabolism. We find more success by adding resistance training, along with an increase in low fat protein sources, which will increase lean body mass (muscle) and ultimately change the overall shape of your body to attain a look that more people desire. This will also increase your metabolism, as toned muscle is a living thing that burns calories.
Find your inspiration. As inspiration to get into shape, many people follow others on social media and on online groups. They see what works for others, sometimes working together to compare and improve their own bodies through similar journeys. If you are following physique athletes on social media, you may even find the urge to step on stage and compete in a bodybuilding and physique show.
Physique shows in 2019 have come a long way. There are many classes or divisions, which allow for a variety of different looks. Men can compete in muscle model, physique, bodybuilding, and classic bodybuilding.
Women have a lot of choices, as well. For example, women have the option of a bikini division, which is an entry level class that looks for toned muscle and lean body fat. Other women’s divisions progress in muscular development and lower levels of body fat, all the way up to a trained figure or women’s physique division, which is a more muscular, leaner look.
So, what is the difference between dieting to lose weight only and leading a true fitness lifestyle?
A true, fit lifestyle means incorporating resistance training and eating sufficiently. To correctly recover from workouts and make progress in muscle tone and development, you must eat small meals of protein often. It takes approximately three hours for your body to dissimilate an average sized meal. This way your body can absorb the maximum amount of protein possible per meal. And if you eat every three hours, the body will keep a positive nitrogen balance, which is the most efficient for recovery and fat loss.
This type of meal plan will increase your metabolic rate, compounded with the fact that the increase muscle mass will help burn calories constantly along with the extra calories being burned during exercise. Compare this to the option of less food, low calories, and lots of cardio. The result with that path is little to no muscle tone, fat deposits that refuse to disappear, no energy, and constant hunger.
Ultimately, once you commit to this way of living, it is easy to see how some end up striving to get on stage, sharing their journey and becoming the much-needed inspiration for others to live a healthier, fitter lifestyle.
Ian Harrison guides the overall operations of PCA USA, a bodybuilding and physique association within the United States that puts athletes first. Ian is also an online coach, offering clients customized workouts and nutrition plans. Prior to the PCA USA, Ian “British Storm” Harrison was a former professional bodybuilder, wrestler and held the title of Mr. Universe.