Losing body fat and becoming lean is something many people want to achieve when they start their fitness journey. However, once they achieve this goal, staying there can be even more challenging.
What many people forget is that you need the same level of consistency when you are trying to stay in shape as you do when trying to get in shape. It does not mean that you stop training and go off track with your diet, even if you are consuming more calories to maintain your current weight.
But what areas must you prioritise? What are the key habits that you need to instil to maintain low levels of body fat?
One of the most important things you can do to stay in shape during the Christmas period is to keep training. Your sessions are vital for maintaining muscle that you worked hard to gain, and they also add structure and productivity to your day. When training discipline decreases, other bad habits can creep in, such as overeating and a more sedentary lifestyle. This will lead to potential muscle loss (dependent on how long you are away for), and an increase in body fat, as your output will be lower. Make sure your sessions are effective, challenging and enjoyable.
Arguably the most important point when it comes to staying lean is having a diet that you can enjoy and stick to. Most weight loss diets fail because they are too restrictive and don’t allow people to include foods that they like. Of course, you must still be in control of your calorie intake each week, but if you don’t enjoy sticking to your nutrition then you are most likely going to fall off track. So, find a plan that works for you, be smart with how you use your calories, and you will be more consistent, which then means you can stay leaner all year round.
Good Lifestyle Habits
Training is very important but another factor that must not be overlooked is your activity outside of the gym. Believe it or not, when it comes to burning calories, gym sessions may not be enough to stay in shape if you want to enjoy your food. An hour of walking can burn up to 300 calories and can make the difference between you gaining unnecessary body fat if you are planning to eat at around maintenance calories. Therefore, it is important to combine your training sessions with activities such as walking and swimming (if you can) so that you are active and burn a sufficient number of calories during the day.
Ability To Manage Social Events
It is important that we enjoy ourselves on the weekend and your routine does not have to be ultra-strict, but at the same time you should be responsible with your nutrition, which means not drastically exceeding your calorie intake. This can quite easily happen if you over-indulge on calorie-dense foods in restaurants, takeaway shops, or even when getting snacks for the evening.
If you are going out for a few drinks or a meal, enjoy yourself but don’t go crazy. If you want to have a couple of beers and socialise, then you can do so and not harm your progress, likewise if you go out for a meal or get a takeaway in the evening. However, you should be mindful of what foods to be careful with and even avoid.
Always Aim For Progression
When you are in a maintenance phase (staying at the same weight), it can be difficult to stay motivated and consistent with your training and nutrition throughout the year. However, this does not mean that you can’t still make progress, particularly in the gym. You can focus on areas such as strength, mobility, intensity and execution of each exercise so that you properly hit the muscles you are trying to target. Progress does not just come to come in your body shape, there are several other ways of measuring it, too. Once you are clear on these, you can then keep moving forward.
So, if you want to be lean all year round, there are certain areas you must get right. These include training consistency, nutritional sustainability, good lifestyle habits, the ability to manage your way through social events, and continuing with a form of progress. These habits will ensure that you live a flexible, enjoyable life whilst staying lean at the same time. It may take time to find this balance but once you do, it will be life-changing.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements