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My Fat Loss Principles

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Fat loss is one of those things that’s relatively simple…it’s just not easy to do.

If you do the right amount and type of regular exercise and eat the right quantity and quality of food, you’ll lose fat.

No problem, right?

But how does it actually work in practice?

You may have a perfectly good plan and it gets messed up because you’re really busy at work and can’t get to the gym.

Maybe you end up eating on-the-go more than you expected and you don’t know how to make the right choices.

Life doesn’t go according to plan and your fat loss might not happen as quickly as you want it to.

After years of yo-yo dieting, I’ve finally gotten to the point when I’m lean year-round, without depriving myself or feeling like it’s all “soooo hard”.

I eat what I choose to eat.

I exercise when I choose to exercise.

After a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to a comfortable place where I manage my leanness without too much effort.

How do I do that?

My fat loss principles aren’t complicated, and they’re the guidelines I try to get my Online Coaching clients to understand first.

I made a fun little infographic to break them down for you:

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Let’s look at my fat loss principles one at a time:

1) Eat Protein With Each Meal

Protein makes it easier to manage your appetite, provides support for muscle repair and growth, and helps make important enzymes and hormones in your body. If you eat protein with each meal, it’s easier to meet your protein goal for the day. I normally recommend 0.8-1.0g of protein per lb of body weight per day (slight modifications should be made for those people who are very overweight or obese).

If you’re a 170 pound person, that means 136-170 grams of protein per day.

If you’re eating four times a day, that’s about 35 grams of protein per meal/snack.

If you eat five times a day, you would be about 28 grams of protein each time you have a meal/snack.

2) Train For Muscle And Strength

Build muscle and you’ll be more likely to have the shape you want. Muscle is slightly more metabolically-active than fat, so you’ll burn more calories.

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As you get stronger, you’ll also build bone density for a healthy, mobile, active long life.

Building and maintaining muscle is especially important for those of us over 35, when you won’t be able to hold onto it quite so easily.

3) Be Active

Walk a lot.

Run around and play tag with your kids.

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Cycle instead of drive when the weather’s nice.

I’m also a fan of roller blading and I often replace my gym sessions with a blading session.

Keeping yourself active means that you’re burning more calories throughout the day, you’re less likely to have aches and pains from sitting around, and you’ll keep your energy up.

And now for the 3 things you should avoid:

1) Don’t Ban Your Favourite Foods

I have frequently banned chocolate from my diet for weeks, even though I LOVE it.

It doesn’t last, and saying, “I’ll never had that again!” to a food you love isn’t realistic.

If you can’t sustain it, it’s not an ideal way to eat long-term.

Keep your favourite foods in your nutrition plan…just adjust the quantity and frequency to fall in line with your goals.

2) Don’t Fall For Fitness Trends.

Trends for fitness and nutrition come and go.

Crossfit.

Intermittent Fasting.

The Keto Diet.

Spinning…then Soul Cycle.

Paleo.

Veganism.

Some of those trends might have some validity for some people at some time, but they’re not the long-term solution for everyone.

The most successful nutrition plan is the one you can stick to.

Ditto for exercise.

Weight training will give you ongoing benefits and it works progressively, so you get stronger and more coordinated and can move up to more challenging exercises.

Whatever other exercise you do, make sure that strength training forms the backbone of your fitness routine.

3) Don’t Be A Slave To Cardio.

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I was recently quoted in a Sparkpeople article about why running isn’t the best choice for weight loss.

And I stay lean year-round with no running and almost no traditional “cardio”.

That means you won’t see me logging hours on the treadmill or stairmaster or elliptical.

It’s not necessary or productive to spend tons of time on cardio machines in the gym, especially if you hate it.

After a while, your body adapts to the activity and you won’t be burning as many calories as you were before.

And the repetitive and joint-pounding movement of running can cause injuries and imbalances that keep you from training consistently.

Full disclosure: I walk as much as I can, run around with my 4-year-old son (sometimes playing tag with him and his friends), and cycle and rollerblade in the summer.

Physical activity is important and you want to move as much as you can.

Keeping the focus on weight training when you’re in the gym is much more likely to get you the results you want.

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Those fat loss principles are a good start, but there are a couple of other things I think make a big difference to fat loss success: sleep and stress management.

As all parents of young children know, sleep can impact every aspect of your life.

Your mood sucks, you don’t feel like eating well or exercising.

You don’t care (at least in that moment) that you finished an entire bag of chips or a tub of ice cream.

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The situation is similar with stress.

It kills your motivation to eat well and can lead to food binges (I’ve been there more times than I care to count!).

Let’s also not forget that sleep and stress impact each other.

When you’re stressed you don’t sleep well, which leads to more stress.

So get more sleep and find ways of coping with stress (exercise is a great start!).

With those fat loss principles in place you’ll be heading in the right direction to your goals.

Ivana Chapman

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How Much Fat Can You Lose In A Month?

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When people start a fat loss journey, they often want to know how the process is going to progress.

Makes sense, right?

If you’re driving across the country you want to know about how long it’s going to take.

You need to set your expectations correctly and plan for what’s about to happen.

Like a cross-country journey, you need to expect some bumps and detours along the way.

The trip isn’t going to be the same for everyone.

You may experience traffic, severe weather conditions, or just get tired and need to stay at a hotel for a night or two.

Fat loss can be just as unpredictable a journey.

Still, most of us fitness and nutrition specialists tend to go with the 1-2 pound per week weight loss guideline.

This is not necessarily fat, but at the beginning it gives you a good estimate.

If you drop your carbs significantly, you’re likely to lose some water, which will affect your weight.

But 1-2 pounds per week of fat loss is certainly possible.

That gets you to about 4-8 pounds of fat loss per month.

If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, it may happen faster than that (or it may not).

Other factors impact your fat loss as well.

The closer you get to your ideal weight, the harder it is to lose more fat.

Your body will try to hold on to a certain amount of “essential” fat and the closer you get to that level the harder getting further fat loss will be.

Because they have much higher amounts of testosterone, a muscle-building and fat burning hormone, men tend to lose fat faster than women.

And being older (let’s say over 35) can sometimes impact your fat loss.

Much of that difference in us over-35s is because of the loss of muscle mass through decreased activity and hormonal changes.

If you push yourself to build muscle with weight training and adequate protein/calories, you’re less likely to experience age-related fat gain.

Most of all, if you’re willing to make more drastic changes then you’ll see faster results.

The more effort you put it, the more fat loss you’re likely to see.

What’s also important is not just how fast you can lose it, but whether you’re able to maintain it at the one-month mark.

If you’ve made huge, unsustainable changes then your progress will stall when you’re not able to follow the plan.

That’s why ongoing fat loss is about using an approach that you can live with for a long period of time.

That’s not to say that they’re aren’t reasons to follow a strict plan for short periods (weddings, physique competitions, reunions), but that you need to transition yourself into a realistic plan that works for you.

Because DIETARY ADHERENCE  is crucial for your success.

If you can’t stick to your plan, you won’t continue to get results.

If you can follow a sensible routine with both your nutrition and your workouts, you can expect a few pounds a month.

You may also put on muscle (yay!), which weighs more but makes you look awesome…so don’t worry if the numbers aren’t exactly on target.

Rough guidelines can be useful, but I don’t want to discourage you if things aren’t happening as fast as you would like.

Be consistent and keep things moving in the right direction.

The results will come.

Ivana Chapman

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A Realistic Way To Get Consistent Fat Loss

Physical activity is a big part of our family’s life.

Yesterday was my son’s 4th birthday and I started thinking (as you do!) about all the things that happened in those four years.

Obviously these early years with my son have been precious and as I look through photos (as you do!) I realize how much our family has experienced in those years.

There have certainly been ups and downs.

Periods of very little sleep and constantly interrupted sleep.

Times when I modified my nutrition plan to step on stage in a physique competition (the first was 9 months post-baby and the most recent was last year) or pose for a fitness photo shoot.

There were moments when I felt totally on top of things in my life and other times when I felt down about not being able to do enough.

At some points, I exercised hard and heavy with weights 5 or 6 days a week and other times I suffered through digestive issues (from acid reflux and IBS) and did walking and more gentle exercise.

Although my weight has varied a bit during that time as I struggled to regain my muscle after pregnancy, I’ve always been in a comfortable range for me.

And I’ve never really felt completely “off track” like I used to feel in my 20s and early 30s when I didn’t have a good plan in place.

What’s the secret?

CONSISTENCY.

The Rock has a nice quote about CONSISTENCY:

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Even when I couldn’t get enough sleep (young kids will do that to you!), I stayed active and exercised to keep my energy up. It was hard (so hard!) sometimes, but it made me feel better as I rode the waves of being a parent to a newborn, infant, toddler, and now preschooler.

I also make a point to get my protein and vegetables/fruit in on a daily basis.

Protein helps your body repair itself and builds muscle, which means you feel stronger.

Those two “non-negotiables” have served me during the early years of my son’s life, as well as a few years before.

Last week, two of my Online Coaching clients mentioned CONSISTENCY as their “Strategy For Success” for the week.

Being consistent is both a challenge and a necessity when striving for fat loss. Sure, you could diet yourself down by starving for a couple of months or overdoing the cardio, but it won’t be sustainable for you…and you’ll feel awful.

My approach is lifestyle-based and that means that it includes solutions to all the day-to-day trials and tribulations of your career, family, and social life.

Your fitness and nutrition plan needs to take into account your unique challenges or it won’t work.

I know it’s hard to be consistent. You get all gung ho about planning your nutrition and exercising one moment and then another project drops into your lap at work or you need to travel more frequently.

If you don’t keep the basic habits intact as you face your day-to-day challenges, you won’t be keep moving in the right direction.

And you won’t see long-lasting results.

My focus has always been on making being lean sustainable. My Online Coaching Program is about learning what it takes (nutrition, exercise, and psychology and lifestyle) to get lean and then stay that way 365 days of the year.

If You Want Consistent Fat Loss, You Need To Focus On Three Areas:

1) Nutrition

Arguably the most important part…and the one that most people get wrong.

They don’t eat enough protein.

They aren’t aware of how many calories they’re actually eating, especially those times they go “off the rails”.

The cycle of severely limiting calories and then binging on treat foods is a big hinderance to fat loss.

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2) Exercise

Regular physical activity is important, for sure. Walk as much as you can. Do outdoor activities with your family and get up regularly from your desk during the day. Choosing weight training when you head to the gym, rather than cardio machines, is an important way to maximize fat loss and build the body you want.

You’ll be stronger. Your body will be more metabolically-active (albeit only a bit!) so you’ll burn more calories all the time. You’ll build the shape you want.

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3) Your Habits

Getting lean is a combination of two things:

Building good habits and changing bad habits.

Going to the gym regularly. Good!

Eating half a pizza every time you watch a hockey game. Bad!

This:

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Not great!

You need to look at your strengths and weaknesses and decide which bad habits to tackle and which good habits you most need to build.

Will you be able to do everything I mentioned perfectly at the start?

Of course not!

It’s a process.

Make progress and you’ll move in the right direction.

Although there are ways to speed up fat loss and short term tricks, if you want realistic and consistent fat loss you need to get your basics in place.

A little bit at a time.

Ivana Chapman

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7 Simple Strategies To Accelerate Your Fat Loss

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7 Simple Strategies To Accelerate Your Fat Loss

Want to accelerate your fat loss in a healthy, sensible way? If you’ve got the motivation and want fat loss to speed along as quickly as possible, then check out these seven simple steps. There’s nothing complicated and all of the strategies are evidence-based…because science matters.

When you want to lose fat, you want to do it FAST.

Many people try any shortcut they can find to speed up their fat loss, including starving themselves with juice detoxes, fasting and overexercising with hours of cardio.

Not necessary or recommended!

There are much more effective ways to accelerate your fat loss and I’ve got seven to get you torching fat in no time.

Follow this combination of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle tips to get you on your way:

1) Reduce Your Calories

Weight loss really comes down to Calories In and Calories Out. You can indeed lose weight with completely garbage food, as long as you’re eating fewer calories. That’s why Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, was able to lose 27 pounds on a diet of Twinkies, Doritos, cereals, and Oreos. Personally, I feel a bit sick just thinking about all that junk, but consuming less total calories really does make sense.

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Most diets that you hear about, whether it’s Paleo, Keto, Veganism, The Zone, Juicing, Weight Watchers, Atkins, and The Dukan Diet do their work by restricting the foods you eat and making it easier to reduce your calories. At least Weight Watchers is honest about why it works! Many of the other diets claim that it’s some sort of insulin-balancing, detoxifying, energy-multiplying voodoo that’s making the magic happen.

These diets make it easier to keep your calories down by either managing your appetite/cravings or making it so hard to find foods that fit into the plan that you end up eating a lot less (I’m looking at you, Keto and Veganism!).

In my online coaching program, I teach my clients how to look at their nutrition plans (we don’t use the word “diet”!) from both a quantitative (calories) and qualitative (what kind of food you’re eating) perspective…because both of those elements matter.

If you’re looking to speed up your fat loss then determining how many calories you’re currently eating and doing an initial reduction of about 250-300 calories per day can be a good way to start. Start tracking your calories easily with an app like myfitnesspal.

2) Get Your Protein Intake Up

When it comes to fat loss, it’s not just calories that are important though. The macronutrient breakdown (protein, fat, carb) matters too. I’ll go into protein benefits in the next section, but it’s the most vital macro for fat loss.

The benefits of diets with higher protein levels are plentiful.

Protein keeps you feeling full so that you’re less likely to overeat. It can also help you recover from your workouts better. Better repair means more progress with your muscle building and the ability to put in more effort into subsequent workouts (which means that things keep getting better!)

Protein preserves your lean muscle mass, especially when you’re in a calorie deficit, which is what you already know you have to do.

Higher protein diets are more likely to keep your mood elevated. Ever felt cranky when trying to lose weight? No doubt. Some research has shown high protein diets reduced stress, mood disturbance, fatigue, and diet-related dissatisfaction than moderate protein diets. More diet satisfaction means more dietary adherence. And we know that being able to stick to a diet is the main criteria for whether it will be successful or not.

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Is Eating High Protein SAFE?

Nervous about protein intake and your kidneys? Don’t be.

High protein intakes have not been shown to to be harmful to the kidneys, but anyone with kidney disease should keep their protein intake low. For the record, about 14% of people in the US suffer from kidney disease. For the other 86% of the population, there’s no evidence that higher protein intakes harm the kidneys.

Heard the one about protein being dangerous because it leaches calcium from your bones? Actually, high-protein diets have been shown to prevent osteoporosis.

3) Lift Heavy Weights And Use Compound Exercises

Gaining muscle is the key to building a low-fat physique. The more muscle you’re carrying, the more metabolically active your body is.

The primary mechanism of muscle hypertrophy (growth) is mechanical tension. This refers to how heavy a weight you’re lifting. That’s why progressive resistance training, which my Lean 365 program is based on, is the most effective way to build muscle and lose fat fast. As you get stronger, you increase the weight you’re lifting and increase your muscle mass.

So weight training, 3-5 days a week for about an hour is going to help your fat loss along. When you design your training plan, you want to make it as efficient as possible and do the most valuable exercises. You don’t want to waste all your precious time in the gym, do you?

Weight training exercises are generally divided into compound and isolation movements.

Compound exercises involve multiple joints and muscle groups. 

Examples include: Squats, lunges, deadlifts, shoulder presses, rows, chin-ups, dips.

Isolation exercises involve just one joint and one major muscle group.

Isolation exercises include: Leg extensions on a machine, hamstring curls, biceps curls, tricep kickbacks, front shoulder raises, calf raises.

As much as possible, stick to compound lifts rather than isolation moves.

Why?

Compound exercises allow you to work more muscle groups at the same time, in a functional way. Hitting more muscle groups means that you’re building more muscle and getting stronger efficiently.

Compound exercises have also been shown to increase testosterone and growth hormone response. Both of these hormones support muscle-building and fat loss, so it pays to optimize them. The training effect on these hormones probably isn’t as dramatic as we’d like, but when you’re looking to lose fat fast you want any advantage you can find.

4) Use Caffeine, Particularly Before Workouts

Who doesn’t love their daily cup(s) of coffee or tea? It turns out that having a bit of caffeine on the menu can help speed up your fat loss.

Caffeine is often used as a supplement by athletes to enhance performance. Moderate-to-high doses have consistently been shown to improve performance in endurance exercise when consumed prior to exercise.

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People who consume caffeine were found in a study to be more likely to maintain weight loss. More research is needed, but there could be a few different reasons why this happens:

Caffeine gives you more energy – When you have more energy you’re more likely to move around more frequently and burn more calories throughout the day. Putting more effort into your workouts means burning more calories through a more challenging workout or being able to lift more weight (which means you build more metabolically active muscle).

Caffeine blunts your appetite – When you’re less hungry, you eat less food (duh!). Fewer calories means that you’re likely to stimulate fat loss.

Caffeine may actually increase your metabolic rate, albeit marginally.

For performance-related benefits for athletes, the dosage that’s considered moderate-high (but still safe for most healthy people) is 5-13mg/kg of body mass. Lower doses of about 3mg/kg will still provide benefits like increased alertness and are associated with few, if any side effects.

A person who weighs 80kgs (177 pounds) could have 240mg of caffeine for low-dose caffeine benefits. An average coffee has about 100mg of caffeine, while black tea has around 40mg, and green tea has about 25mg. Caffeine can vary depending on the type of coffee/tea and how long it’s brewed, so be careful to add all your caffeine sources as accurately as you can.

The maximum concentration of caffeine in the blood is achieved 30-60 minutes after consumption, so have your coffee or tea from 30 minutes to right before your workout to get the most training benefit during your exercise sessions.

Just try to cut out caffeine later in the day, so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. Caffeine has a half-life in the human body of 2-12 hours, depending on your individual metabolism, so it’s possible that half of the dose you took (5omg of a 100mg coffee) can still be in your body up to 12 hours later!

If you’re a shift worker, or parent to young children, don’t waste a minute feeling guilty using caffeine to get you through the day. Sometimes we just have to push through tougher times in our lives with less sleep. Do what you can. If you’re concerned about how healthy coffee is for you, rest assured that there are also plenty of health benefits.

5) Do HIIT Sessions A Couple Of Times A Week

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a conditioning exercise (cardio!) that involves periods of high intensity effort interspersed with periods of active rest. There are many different variations (ratios between work and rest) of HIIT, but the research definition says that your high intensity efforts should achieve at least 80%, and preferably 85-95% of your maximal heart rate. That means you need to work HARD for a short period of time, from 10-30 seconds, and then do something of lighter intensity for 1.5-3 minutes (depending on your fitness level).

It only takes 6-8 of these high intensity bursts per session to qualify as a full HIIT workout and you can do it with just about any exercise.

Here are a few examples of HIIT Workouts:

Start with 5-10 minutes of warm-up, gently and gradually increasing the intensity of the activity you’re going to do.

Skipping Rope – Do 20 seconds of skipping very fast, then jog very slowly on the spot for 2 minutes.

Repeat 6-8 times (a total of 20-30mins on the gym floor, including your warm-up!).

Stationary Cycling -Do 30 seconds of rapid peddling on a stationary bike (increase the resistance so you don’t spin too fast) at about 100-110 RPM, followed by 90 seconds of slower peddling at an RPM of 70-80.

Repeat 6-8 times.

Elliptical Machine – Push yourself for as hard as you can (at a tension level that makes sense for your fitness level) for 15 secs. Ease back into a recovery pace that would allow you to have a conversation for 90 secs.

Repeat 6-8 times.

Calisthenics – You can use just about any exercise for HIIT, as long as it allows you to get your heart rate up and then have a recovery period before repeating again.

You can do 20 jumping jacks and then jog on the spot for a minute.

I’ve often used my favourite martial arts moves, like a steady succession of kicks or punches, to do HIIT sessions. I just do 20 rapid kicks, maybe recover with some light shadow boxing, and then do 20 fast kicks in a row again.

The important thing about HIIT is that you get your heart rate up to about 80-90% of your maximum heart rate (MHR, estimated at 220 minus your age) for 20-30 seconds and then recover for about 90-120 seconds.

So for a 40-year-old, your MHR is 180.

180 X 0.8=144

180 X 0.9= 162

Your target heart rate during the high-intensity part of HIIT would be 144-162 beats per minute…which is pretty high. You can wear a heart rate monitor to check it accurately or you can estimate based on perceived exertion. On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is lying down and 10 is as hard as you can possibly go without dropping dead, you should be at a 8 or 9 for the high intensity part. Remember that it’s only 20-30 seconds though!

HIIT has been shown to burn a greater amount of fat than traditional steady-state cardio and it’s also been shown to increase muscle power and free testosterone (a helpful hormone for fat loss!) in male masters athletes (60+). HIIT workouts are also very efficient, and allow you to achieve a lot of physiological benefit in a short period of time.

Ideal for you because you’re busy, right?

6) Drink Plenty Of Water

Most athletic people already drink a lot of water, particularly during workouts, but if you know you’re not one of those (yet!) then make an effort to add more water to your routine.

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In your body, water is involved in digestion, management of body temperature, circulation, creation of saliva, and transport of nutrients.

Dehydration is responsible for a host of side effects including fatigue, constipation, headaches, etc. It can also stall your fat loss efforts if you mistake thirst for hunger. It’s a good idea to drink a glass of water first when you feel hungry. When you replace calorie-packed beverages with water, you’re more likely to reduce your overall calorie intake…which you already know can help drive fat loss.

How Much Water Should You Drink?

Although eight glasses a day still gets thrown around, there doesn’t appear to be scientific evidence for 8×8. It also seems implausible that a 220 pound athlete who sweats profusely and is living in a hot climate would need the same amount of water as a 110 pound sedentary office worker who never sweats and lives in a cold climate.

Remember that you get some water from foods that you eat as well, particularly fruits and vegetables. So if you’re eating a lot of veggies (particularly raw) and some fruit with a lot of water then you won’t need to drink as much.

I tend to advise my clients to go with the urine test. If your pee is very dark (unless it’s orange after taking multis or B vitamins) then you’re not drinking enough. If your pee is running clear and you can’t get through an hour without using the washroom then you’re probably overdoing it. Light yellow is what you’re aiming for.

7) Sleep More!

I know, I know, you’ve probably heard it about a thousand times before…and I’m afraid I’m going to have to make it a thousand and one. Sleep is really, really important for your health. The National Sleep Foundation has published recommendations that advise between7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for adults.

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How does sleep affect fat loss?

You’re less likely to make good food choices if you’re tired. Ever worked a couple of late nights and then found yourself too exhausted to cook and reaching for high-calorie convenience food? Not getting enough sleep seems to suck all the motivation out of you.

Short sleepers also have more hours in the day to eat, and they’ve been shown to consume more calories.

When you don’t sleep enough, your hormones are affected as well. In particular, the hormone leptin (which reduces appetite) and the hormone ghrelin (which increases appetite). A small study in young men showed that only a couple of nights of sleep reduction decreased leptin and increased ghrelin, which resulted in more hunger. Not really surprising if you’ve ever had an exhausting week and consumed half the contents of your fridge and kitchen cupboards!

Not sleeping enough also decreases insulin sensitivity, so you won’t process carbs as well, and increases evening levels of the hormone cortisol. Higher nighttime levels of cortisol can interfere with sleep…so it sets up a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break.

Of course, there are certain situations where you don’t have complete control over how much you sleep, like if you have young children or do shift work. If that’s the case for you, remember Tip 4! Do the best you can to grab some shuteye whenever possible, even if it’s a short nap during the day.

Maximizing your fat loss efforts means getting the amount of sleep you need. If you’re not getting enough, you’ll have a harder time reaching your fat loss goal (although it’s still possible!).

Setting A Realistic Goal

You might be able to lose a significant amount of weight by doing some sort of crazy starvation diet of 600-800 calories a day. Some people do even worse and try juice “fasting” (it’s exactly fasting if you’re consuming calories) where they might be eating even LESS than that.

Starvation dieting is a bad idea, for a few reasons. If you drop your calories too low then you’re in danger of losing muscle mass. In fact, even with a reasonable calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time (say, 3-4 months), maintaining muscle mass is still going to be a challenge. In that instance, keeping your protein higher than usual and doing regular weight training will reduce muscle mass loss.

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Many deceitful fitness people on the Internet will try to convince you that you can loss tons of weight in a couple of weeks. You can, but you’ll be dropping water weight, excess fecal matter, and losing muscle mass, rather than losing much fat.

Keep it sensible and reasonable at about 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week.

This generally applies for people who are closer to their target weight. If you’ve got 40 or 50 pounds to lose, you might find that you can lose weight faster than that, but as you get within spitting distance of your goal you’ll find it harder to keep up the same rate of loss. The more lean you are, the harder it is for you to get leaner…so if you’re getting close to where you want to be you need to dig deep to keep up the effort.

Are You Ready?

If accelerating your fat loss is your goal, follow the seven tips above and you’ll be on your way. Over time, they’ll become habits that make up your lean, healthy, strong lifestyle.

Ivana Chapman

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What Really Triggers Fat Loss?

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People talk a lot about fat loss when it comes to exercise.

There are plenty of exercise types that have a reputation of being good at burning fat, like HIIT, sprinting, spinning classes, skipping rope, etc.

And while high intensity exercise is generally more efficient at burning fat and calories than steady state exercise like walking, jogging, or using the elliptical machine, the truth is that it matters a lot less than you think.

I plan efficient, individualized weight training workouts for my Online Coaching clients, based on their goals and lifestyles and I give them advice on what type of additional cardio (in some cases, NONE!) that they should do.

So while certainly advocate exercise, most days of the week in some form (with 3-4 sessions of focused weight training workouts being the priority), when it comes to fat loss it’s relatively unimportant.

“What?!”, you’re probably thinking.

Yup, the fat/calories you burn at the gym are a relatively small part of your overall fat loss.

What matters the most?

What you eat on a daily basis.

For most of my Online Coaching clients, eating the right foods in the right amounts (for them!) is what we talk about A LOT.

Because what you eat (or don’t eat) is the most important trigger for fat loss.

This should be good news to anyone who sometimes finds it hard to squeeze in a workout or anyone who gets ill/injured and has to take time off.

Don’t panic!

Be especially vigilant about what you’re eating and missing a few workouts won’t massively impact your fat loss.

That’s not to say that exercise is a waste of time.

Regular exercise gives you energy and makes you feel strong and mobile.

Weight-bearing exercise strengthens your bones and getting your heart rate up regularly (either with traditional cardio, circuit training, or just weight training with short rest periods) makes your ticker function better.

When you’re working out 4-6 days a week for an hour or so, there is definitely some caloric output required.

Exercising often gives you the motivation (and enthusiasm!) to eat better anyway because you don’t want to spoil your efforts at the gym.

In your mind, you may also become “that person who exercises and eats well” and that’s a powerful mental support for a sensible nutrition plan.

So yes, that old cliche is true.

“You can’t out-train a bad diet”.

Unless you’re an athlete working out strenuously for two or three hours a day or go from sitting on the couch to training several days a week, you won’t see a massive increase in fat burning occasional workouts.

But again, remember that there are other benefits to exercise when it comes to your health and quality of life.

So exercise, PLEASE, but also pay attention to what you’re eating.

Because that’s where most of your fat loss is really going to come from.

Ivana Chapman

The Fat Loss Secret Nobody Wants To Tell You

If fat loss is your goal, there’s a little secret that most people are trying to hide.

Despite all the ads that claim to make it all sooooo easy, fat loss can be challenging.

It’s simple, but it isn’t easy for most people to attain or sustain.

Accept that it won’t be easy.

Anything worth having comes with effort and some sacrifice.

Decide what you want to achieve and follow the steps you need to get there.

Are you ready to work?

If your nutrition plan is too challenging and outside your norm, and feels like the diet equivalent of holding your breath under water…you’re going to come up for air eventually.

I know a lot of people are trying to get leaner in 2018.

Perhaps the plan is to finally have a 6-pack for the summer, or you just want to see a bit more muscle definition in your arms.

Maybe you want to keep up with your kids in a way that makes you feel charged with youthful energy…and not exhausted.

Feeling leaner, stronger, and fitter is something worthwhile to aim for.

Everything in your life gets better when your body is active and full of energy, trust me!

There’s just one thing about getting leaner that most people selling you overly-restrictive diets, unnecessary supplements, and crazy workouts don’t want to tell you.

Getting lean is HARD WORK.

If anyone tells you it’s easy, they’re LYING.

Yes, as you change your lifestyle over time things get easier.

After years of practice, and developing strong positive habits, I no longer find it hard to maintain a lean physique year-round (yes, even right after the Christmas holidays!).

I use strategies that work, and I share them with my clients in my Online Coaching program.

(And, yeah, I’ve shamelessly hyperlinked my two services in case you want to know how I can help you.)

I’m never going to tell you that it’s doesn’t take some work.

It can feel effortless after months or years of using the right strategy and getting habits into place, but there are some challenges to overcome.

That’s not to say that the process is unpleasant.

It just means that there will be some sacrifice required.

If you only want to make minor changes to your physique, then you only need to make little tweaks to your nutrition and workout plan.

If you want to make a big change in your body, you need to make a larger change in your lifestyle.

Is this going to be the year that people to notice a significant change in your physique?

Remember that it’s going to take some work.

Being prepared for some struggle is important, because research tells us that people who expect a challenging path to their goals are more successful at achieving them.

So get ready for things to be hard.

And you’ll be well on your way to achieving the body you want in 2018.

Ivana Chapman

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5 Fat-Loss Mistakes You Could Be Making


Get leaner by following the right workout and nutrition strategy.

Many people think that they’re doing the right things when it comes to losing fat. Then they’re surprised when they don’t see the results that they’re looking for. I get it.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there and it’s easy to get led astray with exercise and nutrition info. And each of your friends, relatives, and work colleagues has a different theory about what diet or workout regime is going to work for you:

“Try Intermittent Fasting, dude, you’ll get lean SOOOOO fast!”

“Come to my Crossfit class…it’s so intense!”

“Wanna try SoulCycle? I hear it burns tons of calories.”

There’s no magical diet or trendy workout that’s the ONLY way to get lean.

Most things will work, if you stick to the plan, make some sacrifices, and push yourself a little (with both workouts and your nutrition). Still, if you’re on the road to lasting leanness, there are definitely some ideas that can hold you back.

Are you making any of these five fat-loss mistakes?

1) You Do Too Much Cardio 

Yes, some cardio, about 20-30 minutes 2-3 times per week can be helpful for getting and staying lean.

And you should definitely be as active as possible throughout the day (even if it means just getting up from your desk every 30 minutes or so). But there’s a limit to the benefits that cardio can give you with fat loss.

Focus on building muscle with weight training to make your body a fat-burning machine all day long.
You’ll get stronger, develop a great shape, and feel more athletic too.

2) You Ignore Calories And Macros For The Latest Fad Diet 

It may be tempting to go Paleo or Vegan, or do the Dukan Diet, 5:2, or the Alkaline Diet for a while, but unless you’re willing to devote yourself forever to the rigid rules of each of these diets then you probably won’t sustain your results.

I prefer a more lifestyle-oriented approach that helps you get your calories and macros in line, without too much effort. In fact, many of the above diets work because they restrict the foods you eat and you end up adjusting your calories and macros in a desirable way. Calories aren’t the whole story, but they do matter.

Finding an effective way of adjusting your calories (sometimes it’s not about reducing them further!) and modifying your macros to get adequate protein is the key to fat loss in the long term.

3) You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

It’s easy to ignore in today’s fast-paced high-tech world, but sleep is important for everything that your body does. Growth hormone is produced during sleep and can help you lose fat.

Not sleeping enough can affect ALL your hormones, which means that your body may resist fat loss.

And let’s not forget that being tired means you put in less effort into your workouts (if you fit them in at all!), and you’ll find it harder to make the right food choices.

So look at sleep as an important pillar for fat loss.

4) You’re Not Eating Enough

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you’re aiming to improve your body composition (get leaner) you need to make sure you eat enough. If you eat too few calories for several weeks or months, your body will adapt to the lower calories. That results in a slower metabolism, which is the last thing that you want.

Keep your calories high enough to meet your needs (but not higher!) and make sure that you’re having good quality food with a variety of micro (vitamins & minerals) and macro (protein/fat/carbs/some minerals) nutrients. A balanced nutrition plan makes you feel better on a daily basis and gives you the strength to do the workouts you need and keep active throughout the day.

5) You Expect Too Much Too Soon

It’s reasonable to expect to lose about 1-2 pounds of weight each week. Let’s say that with excellent adherence to a well-designed exercise and nutrition plan you can expect to lose about 0.5 to 1% of body fat per week. And that’s if you’re doing well!

So don’t panic and change course too fast if you haven’t got the results you want yet. It takes time to get lean…it doesn’t mean that the plan isn’t working.

Don’t despair…the results are coming!

The main point here is that fat loss is a process that has many elements. 

Making one little change will only make a small difference. Put your fat-loss plans together and you’ll be on your way to lasting leanness. By avoiding the common fat-loss mistakes you’ll finally be able to achieve that lean, athletic body you’ve been aiming for.

Ivana Chapman

P.S. Want help changing your relationship with food and getting a sensible nutrition plan together? My Lean365 Online Membership Program can help! Check out the details HERE.

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The Scary Link Between Belly Fat And Your Health

Reducing your belly size can make big improvements to your health (who knew?!)

Most of us are generally happy with the state of our bodies, particularly when they’re hidden under clothes. Our arms aren’t bad (although maybe seeing a bit more muscle definition wouldn’t hurt) and our legs look reasonable good. The one area that somehow seems like the last to respond to all our exercising and nutrition changes is the belly. It’s usually the first place that we notice getting a little “chunkier” when we go a bit off the rails. It’s also the area that even very fit and lean people often struggle with.

Why?

Well, it’s often hormonal.

Men can suffer more with belly fat than women. Male hormones like testosterone tend to store excess fat in the stomach area while female hormones like estrogen and progesterone store excess fat in the hips and thighs. That’s not to say that men have it much harder when it comes to fat loss. Since most men have higher levels of muscle and overall body size they’re able to stay leaner with less effort. And don’t forget that testosterone is a muscle-building and fat-burning hormone.

But there’s another hormone that’s most relevant to belly fat and that’s CORTISOL.

Cortisol is commonly called the “stress hormone”, but as with most things it’s not all bad.

Like all hormones, the key element is BALANCE. If cortisol gets too low, you’ll be lethargic all the time. You want your cortisol levels to be high in the morning and when you’re exercising because it gives you energy. If cortisol is chronically high, you can end up anxious and “stressed out”. Chronically high cortisol levels will eventually lead to fatigue as they interfere with sleep and recovery.

That’s the state that many of us are in. We’re overworked, with not enough quality relaxation time where we’re just living in the moment and enjoying ourselves without being “plugged in” to our electronic devices. And these high levels of stress that your body faces keep your cortisol levels elevated, which causes your body to store more fat in the abdominal area.

“Ok great, Ivana, I’ll just give up my job to meditate in a monastery for a few months and then I’ll reduce my belly fat.”

Stress isn’t an easy problem to fix, I’ll admit.

And to be clear, belly fat doesn’t always mean that your levels of cortisol are chronically high.

You may just be eating too much (and the wrong type of food) and not exercising enough, or the right way.

But if you’re lean all over and can’t shrink that stubborn belly fat, then stress is an area to look at.

We all have some stress, but the key is finding a way to manage it.

Getting more sleep is the best place to start.

Meditating regularly (even if it’s just 10 minutes a day) can be really helpful if you give it an honest effort (a few weeks). Mostly it’s about getting the balance right in your life, between nutrition, exercise, and relaxation.

If you’re carrying a bit too much fat around your belly, there’s something in your life that needs to be addressed. So work to get yourself back on an even keel.

If you’re not motivated enough by the physical appearance benefits of having a flat stomach, consider that belly fat is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Abdominal obesity, which is a combination of subcutaneous (under the skin) and visceral (around the organs) fat, can significantly increase your risk of heart disease, diabetic symptoms, and perhaps even some forms of cancer.

So get working on trimming that stomach, with the right nutrition plan, exercise program, and stress management techniques.

Because even if you don’t care about having sexy six-pack abs, I’m fairly sure you want to live a long and healthy life.

Ivana Chapman

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Get Lean By Changing Your Relationship With Food

Don’t feel guilty…it’s OK to eat treats once in a while.

There’s a theme that comes up with nearly every client I’ve ever had over the course of my 17-year fitness coaching career. Many people like exercising, or at least don’t mind it, and have developed a fondness for getting stronger with weight training over time. And then we get to the nutrition side and there’s a groan, followed by statements like:

“Food is my weakness.”

“I love food too much.”

“I can be good with my diet for a while, but then I crave chocolate/fries/chips/burgers, etc.”

And if you’re looking for why most people aren’t able to stay lean consistently, nutrition is almost always the answer.

Exercise is important, for sure, and it helps you develop the muscle shape you want while increasing important physiological factors like insulin sensitivity.

But you won’t find your long-term solution to leanness until you fix your nutrition game.

I know this personally since I’ve exercised consistently pretty much my whole life (primarily martial arts and weight training) and my level of leanness has varied considerably over that time. In my adult years, I’ve varied from about 130lbs (right before a fitness competition) to a high of over 165lbs. My normal weight these days hovers at 134-138lbs (at 5’10). And believe it or not, that highest weight WAS NOT during my pregnancy.

It was in my early 20s when I was struggling with an unidentified digestive disorder (later labelled IBS and GERD), periods of mild depression, and binge eating.

It wasn’t until my 30s, when I discovered a higher-protein and lower-carb lifestyle that I finally developed a healthy relationship with food. Gone was the “all-or-nothing” mentality, the overly-restrictive diets, and the use of food as therapy for everything that hurt me emotionally.

Food is fuel. Food is for enjoyment, including to enhance social experiences.The right quantity and quality of food helps you feel good, stay lean, and adds to your enjoyment of life.

When your eating balance gets tipped in either direction, either too careless or too restrictive, negative things happen.

I got thinking about this after a visit to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition), a massive two-week celebration in Toronto that has a midway, exhibits, shopping, and a lot of (often completely outrageous) food. Think Fried Mac and Curd Chimichangas, massive heavily-loaded burgers, deep-fried spaghetti balls, and cheesesteaks that use donuts instead of a bun and topped with whipped cream.

I actually feel kind of nauseous thinking about it!

People rush to the CNE to get their crazy-food fix and many people leave having consumed several thousand more calories than they should in a day…and with very upset stomachs.

And that’s not the end of the world, as long as they don’t do it every day.

Sometimes eating too much (like on special occasions) and eating food that doesn’t make us feel that well is a good reminder of why it’s better to eat well most of the time.

I love food.

But food isn’t the only thing that brings me enjoyment in life, and I don’t use it to try to soothe any of the pain or hurt that I may endure anymore.

Your relationship with food is what makes or breaks your success in staying lean long-term.

As long as you keep thinking of yourself as “being good” when you’re eating a certain way and “being bad” when you eat in another manner, you’ll never really have a healthy relationship with food.

That roller coaster ride of restrictive dieting followed by binge eating is what keeps most people from long term success with fat loss…and makes them unhappier each time it happens.

So do what you can to break the cycle.

I wish there was a magical solution to change your psychological food associations, but there isn’t. I’d love to be able to recommend a specific diet that will stop your desire to eat crappy food when you’re feeling down. There’s no quick-fix for a lifetime of bad food habits and you’ll have setbacks as you try to heal your negative relationship with food.

Here are the important points:

  1. Never feel guilty about the food you eat.
  2. Move on quickly after you’ve had too much food, or if you’ve had a period where it was hard to keep your nutrition plan on track.
  3. Practice mindfulness when you’re eating, and do a daily short 5-10 minute meditation (HERE is a simple way to get started) to help you reduce the stress that can lead to making bad choices with food.
  4. If you suffer from frequent binge eating episodes, think obsessively about food, or feel that you have a chronic lack of control around food, seek out professional help in the form of a psychologist that specializes in eating disorders.

You can move forward into a healthier, happier mindset by taking your lifestyle changes one step at a time, and by not making yourself feel bad because you don’t have superhuman discipline.

This isn’t about discipline at all; it’s about the impact of your emotional state on your eating habits.

You can hop from diet to diet, but if you don’t find a way to manage the emotional side of your eating you’ll never make a permanent change in your life.

When you learn to appreciate and accept food for what it is, and for what it’s not, you’re on your way to a lifetime of leanness, and a more positive outlook.

Ivana Chapman

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Building Lean Muscle Without Adding Bulk

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Are you aiming for a lean, athletic look like this one?

The whole idea of “lean muscle” is really a bit silly, when you think about it.

Muscle is either there or it’s not there, in its various sizes.

When people say they want to build lean muscle (and I hear this ALL THE TIME, from both men and women), they mean that they want to build muscle and reduce their overall fat levels.

Body composition, my friends, is what it’s all about.

And I totally get what people mean.

They want muscle.

They want to see it, without a layer of body fat on top  of it.

The traditional bodybuilder in the off-season is probably the source of this desire/fear:

IFBB Pro Gunter Schlierkamp with his “off-season” lookbodybuilder-lean-muscle

Yup, this guy has lots of muscle, but it’s obscured by a layer of fat and his ab development isn’t visible (although they’re definitely there underneath).

There are a couple things that you need to be aware of.

A professional bodybuilder is the extreme of the muscle spectrum.

They maximize their muscle mass for the purpose of competition and take around 3-6 months to gradually drop the fat so that they have impressive levels of both muscle and extremely low body fat as well.

Performance-enhancing drugs, including testosterone and growth hormone are involved, to get that large amount of muscle and then reduce body fat.

What does that mean for YOU?

Let’s say you’re looking to put on some muscle naturally and get lean.

Don’t fear putting on too much muscle “bulk” by pushing your muscles with adequate intensity (that’s the weight you’re lifting) and volume (how many sets and reps you do over the course of a workout and over the week).

Most people won’t build muscle easily and it will take time to see progress.

You’re not just going to blow up like a big muscular balloon after a few training sessions!

Sometimes when I hear the “lean muscle” argument from the skinny guy at the gym I just want to groan.

skinny-guy-lean-muscle

Trust me dude, you’re not going to bulk up like a bodybuilder with all those lame body weight exercises and 8 pound bicep curls you’re doing.

Bodybuilders push to extremes for months and years at a time with calculated focus and intensity to get the levels of muscle they achieve.

If you’re training 4, 5 or 6 days a week for an hour you probably won’t be getting “bulky” anytime soon.

Still overdoing it with food when you’re trying to build muscle can have undesirable effects.

In the past, many bodybuilders (and others looking to getting more muscular) ate outrageous amounts of food to maximize their gains, without considering how much additional fat they were adding.

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They didn’t care.

They just wanted to get MASSIVE.

And for those hard-gainers among you, who struggle to put on size, they may be an effective way to add muscle.

You need to force yourself to eat more than you ever have before.

But if you’re the person (male or female) who wants to have a bit more muscle and get leaner in the process then you can train heavy and hard without fear of adding added fat as long as you keep your eating in check.

The key to maintaining leanness as you put on muscle is to carefully monitor what you’re eating.

Add regular weight training and keep eating the same thing and you’ll get more muscular and leaner as your body uses those calories to help the muscle recover and build.

Adjust your nutrition plan so you’re eating a better balance of macros and micronutrients and you’ll speed up both the process of muscle gain and fat loss.

And then you’ll end up with that lean muscle that you’re looking for, without any added bulk.

That lean, athletic look will be yours if you follow the right strategy.

You’ll add plenty of muscle, without that bulky look you’re trying to avoid.

Ivana Chapman

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The Best Workout For A Lean, Athletic Body

Yesterday I got randomly asked by someone at the gym about what the best workout is.

You might as well ask, “How long is a piece of string?”

It all depends on who the person is, what genetics they have, what their exercise history is, and what their goals are.

There’s not really one specific workout that will help everyone achieve what they want with their body.

I guess many people are thinking of pre-packaged workout programs like practically every unqualified Instagram fitness “star” offers for about $10 these days.

And I can’t say that those programs are completely useless.

In fairness, I don’t even know much about them.

And when the alternative is sitting on the couch with a pack of Doritos then just about any workout program will do – at first.

And there, you’ll soon see, is the big problem.

While nearly every workout will initially get you a bit leaner and maybe even build some muscle, it’s not long before the benefits diminish and eventually disappear.

There’s also the risk of injury with doing a workout program that isn’t at the appropriate level for you.


Whoa, bud! Are you really ready for that plyo push-up? (Actually HE probably is…)

Doing 20 burpees every other day might work for some highly-trained individuals, but the average person buying into a pre-packaged program will eventually get injured doing excessive amounts of high impact activities that their muscles, joints, and tendons aren’t conditioned for.

This is one of the criticisms of Crossfit workouts.

They may very well be good for people who are already relatively fit, but people are often pushed to do exercises that their bodies aren’t ready for.

That whole, “your grandma can do this” business isn’t reality.

Sure, maybe your grandma is a former professional athlete who’s still working out with vigor in her 70s.

But she’s probably not.

And even most people half her age aren’t prepared for the high-impact challenges that many packaged workout programs advise.

So what’s the one workout that really works for everybody?

Progressive resistance training!

So training with weights, or perhaps even starting with your bodyweight with many exercises, before moving on to heavier weights.

That’s what makes a workout progressive.

And that’s what you want, isn’t it?

PROGRESS.

A complete newbie to exercise will get a benefit from nearly any physical activity.

Hey, if you haven’t exercised for months or years, even yoga or Zumba classes 3 times a week will have you feeling more “toned” and will even get you leaner (more calories out, y’all!).

But after a few months to a year, you’ll find that your progress stops.

What are you going to do then?

More Zumba classes?

I guess that’s an option, but definitely not the right one if your goal is a lean, athletic physique.

I realize that not everyone can afford personal training or an online fitness coach to design a workout program specifically for their strengths, abilities, and goals.

But even a pre-packaged workout program (yes, I do them too!) has to have some allowances for people of varying levels of ability.

Progressive weight training programs offer that benefit because they automatically adjust to the person’s current level of strength and fitness.

One person might do the program with bodyweight squats and the other person might squat 400 pounds.

Squats are on the menu for everyone…at whatever level they’re currently at.

And if someone goes from bodyweight to squatting 400 pounds, that’s an amazing achievement.

Through that process their body changes, adapts, and gets stronger and looks better.

It’s gradual and incremental, but it’s the best method for never-ending improvement.

And taking it one step at a time means that your risk of injury is lower than just bouncing around maniacally from random program to random program.

Progressive weight training offers continuous results.

Who doesn’t want that?

Ivana Chapman

P.S. Yup, I’ve got a workout program that gives you all the weight training guidance (and personal support from me!) you need. Check out the details for Lean365, my online membership program, HERE!

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The Truth About Fat-Burning Foods

Want to burn fat with the food you eat? Find out the truth.

We’re always looking for shortcuts when it comes to food and nutrition, aren’t we? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could pop a magical fat-burning pill a couple of times a day and we’d stay lean without having to watch what we eat? There are plenty of products out there that seem to claim to do just that. Most fat loss supplements don’t have much convincing evidence that they do much of anything at all, much less burn fat, and many have health risks.

So let’s say we want to stick to foods to burn fat, rather than supplements. Google “fat burning foods” and you’ll get over 3 million results. But what’s the truth about these fat-burning foods? Not one of them is going to do the job on their own.

Your overall intake of calories each day, and the macro composition of those calories, makes the biggest difference to how much fat you’ll be able to burn.

Not very sexy, I’ll admit, but it’s true.

Your daily lifestyle, including what you eat and drink, how much you workout and how much daily activity you do, how much stress you’re under, your individual hormonal balance, and how much sleep you get, are all important to your body’s fat-burning capabilities.

So trying to get lean without looking at all of those areas won’t be as effective as it could be.

What Foods Might Help?

There are certainly foods that can help reduce your appetite or potentially increase your fat burn to a certain extent.

Protein, for example, is more thermogenic (fat-burning) than carbs or fat. That means that a nutrition plan that’s  made up of regular feedings of protein and a decent total amount of protein (I generally recommend 1g per pound of bodyweight) will help you burn more calories than a plan that’s low in protein. So lean sources of protein like chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, eggs, and some dairy should be a staple of your nutrition to burn fat.

A high protein nutrition plan improves your blood sugar regulation so that you experience fewer cravings and have more steady energy levels throughout the day.

Nuts can be a great way of controlling your appetite, if you’re able to keep your servings reasonable (about 1/4 cup, once or twice a day for most people).

Cayenne pepper is often touted as having some fat-burning properties, so it can’t hurt to add it to your food, but keep in mind that the effect is minimal overall.

The same thing applies for green tea, which also gets a lot of buzz for it’s ability to burn fat. The chemical compound Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that’s found in green tea has been shown to increase thermogenesis (fat burn).

Caffeine, in general, can help increase fat-burning too. But it’s probably best to drink the green tea and coffee (plain) so that you get the appetite-reducing and hydrating benefits. Being well-hydrated will keep your appetite under control and make sure that your digestion is functioning more smoothly. In that way, even water can also help your body to burn more fat.

The truth is that there’s not magical food that increases fat burn. The fat-burning results you get will be most determined by the quantity and quality of food you take in on a day-to-day basis, as well as the physical activity you do. Not very exciting, I’ll admit, but it’s better to accept reality than waste your time looking for a magical panacea.

Sometimes you just have to put in the time and the work.

Ivana Chapman

P.S. Want help putting together a nutrition and workout plan to get you lean – and keep you lean – 365 days of the year? My Lean365 Online Membership Program can help! $47 a month gets you all the nutrition, exercise, and psychology & lifestyle guidance you need to get the body you want. Check out the details HERE.

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5 Unhealthy Habits To Stop Doing Now

This one’s a bit obvious, but there are probably some other unhealthy habits you haven’t thought of.

Just coming off a weekend, you can probably think of a few habits you have that aren’t all that healthy. I mean, yeah, it’s not a great idea to drink a bit too much wine or beer, devour a lot of deep fried and/or BBQ’d food, or lie around all day on the couch watching sports. But all those habits are a bit obvious and I barely think they’re worth mentioning.

You know what to do when it comes to the basic things. Drink more water, eat more vegetables, drink alcohol only in moderation (if at all), and workout regularly.

Not very enlightening, right?

So what habits should you give up that will make an impact on your health?

Here are 5 unhealthy habits that can be especially damaging:

1) Feeling guilty about what you’re eating – Whether it’s eating gluten or dairy when it doesn’t agree with you or just succumbing to your favourite treat that doesn’t align with your goals (whether that’s chocolate cake, donuts, french fries, pork pie, or chicken wings), adding guilt to the mix doesn’t do you any favours.

In fact, many people are likely to go on a food “bender” when they feel guilty about their eating.
So skip the guilt and just move on when you haven’t been eating exactly the way you’d like.

2) Not sleeping enough – It almost seems like a badge of honour to say that you only slept 5 or 6 hours…or that’s all you need. People love to bring up examples of successful people who sleep very little and talk about hustling to get what you want. I get it. Sometimes it feels like you’re slacking if you actually get the 7 or 8 hours you need (I personally think 8 and 1/4 would be my ideal).

Sleep, or lack thereof, affects every system in your body. You’ll perform worse at everything you do if you don’t have enough sleep, and you’ll also increase your chances of getting sick and having to take time off.

And not getting enough sleep can significantly increase your appetite and your motivation to eat well.

Prioritize sleep and other things will fall into place easier.

3) Not dealing with stress – Yes, we all face stress. Usually daily. But walking around thinking about how busy are and how much pressure you’re under while saying “everything’s fine” doesn’t help you. Take the time you need to take care of yourself, whether that’s exercise, meditation, or just taking 20 minutes to read a book.

If you don’t deal with stress, your body will fight back, perhaps by making you sick or bringing you chronic anxiety or depression. And chronically high levels of cortisol brought about by stress can actually increase your fat levels, especially belly fat…if you need another reason to motivate yourself to deal with stress.

4) Using food as a reward – You’ve had a tough day at work so it’s time to reward yourself with a giant burger and fries in front of the TV. You just completed a major project so you want to go out and celebrate at your favourite dessert place. Or the worst one, in that it really leads to a longtime battle with fat and a bad relationship with both food and exercise, is rewarding yourself with a massive meal because you hit the gym.

As I raise a 3-year-old, I’m becoming more aware of how early the use of food as a reward begins.

“If you’re good, you’ll get ice cream!”

“If you eat all your dinner, you can have dessert!”

Many of us have internalized those types of comments from our childhoods and turned them into the reason we just can’t seem to stay lean.

Being aware of it is the first step. The next thing you want to do is find other rewards that you can give yourself when you achieve something. Maybe it’s 20 minutes curled up with a book you’ve been dying to read, a new pair of gym shorts, or tickets to a concert (depending on the size of the goal).

5) Not making physical activity part of your day – You make time for an hour at the gym a few times a week so you’re all good, right? Unfortunately not.

Sitting all day at a desk, which the majority of us do, can raise your risk of cardiovascular issues and makes it harder to get lean. If you can, try to walk at least part of the way to work. Get up and take breaks from the computer as much as possible. Take a real lunch break and go outside for a walk.

On the weekends, try to find fun activities to do that don’t involve sitting around. Explore your city, investigate a local market or festival, or go for a hike with your family. Get moving as much as you can.

So as you begin your week, think about the habits that you want to acquire and the ones you want to eliminate.

Keep in mind that it’s all a process.

Take your time and be patient with yourself, but keep working towards the healthy life you want to have.

There’s no better time than now.

Ivana Chapman

P.S. If you want to get lean (and stay lean!) for a lifetime, my Lean365 Online Membership Program can help! $47 a month gets you all the nutrition, exercise, and psychology & lifestyle guidance you need to get the body you want. Check out the details HERE.

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How To Stop Easter From Screwing Up Your Nutrition Plan

Uh oh. It looks like the poor chocolate bunny was too tempting to skip!

It’s fairly safe to say that most people’s weakness when it comes to getting and maintaining a lean physique is food. Many people are willing to put in the time at the gym, but they feel weak when it comes to food.

The old cliché, “You can’t out-train a bad diet”, is absolutely right.

Exercise burns relatively low amounts of calories when you’re doing it, although weight training and HIIT increase the rate of excess-post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and have more significant fat loss implications.

Still, the muscle building and hormonal implications of weight training are more important with than the calorie burn.

Especially since it takes nearly an hour of walking for most people to burn off a single donut!

So keeping your nutrition plan on track is essential if you want to get lean, and stay lean.

And most of the time you’re ok, right?

You plan your meals, make sure you get in your protein, and find ways of adding more filling vegetables to your meals.

And then a special occasion comes along, let’s say Easter, and all of a sudden there are all sorts of foods hanging around that you really LOVE and really want to stuff in your face immediately.

I feel your pain.

Tomorrow I’m heading to my mom’s to celebrate Easter with the family and there will definitely be chocolate.

I LOVE CHOCOLATE.

My mom also said she was baking her famous raspberry cheesecake.

I LOVE CHEESECAKE.

And my husband requested that she make extra servings of stuffing.

STUFFING IS YUMMY.

Given that I’m 3 weeks out from competing at the Natural Nationals for the CBBF (Canadian Bodybuilding Federation), I’m just going to steel myself, be very disciplined, and sit around drooling while everybody eats, right?

No.

I realize that what I do isn’t common for most physique competitors, many of whom will indeed be packing their chicken breasts and broccoli for Easter festivities.

Well, a lot of stuff that I do isn’t common for the fitness industry…but it works.

So what’s my plan for tomorrow?

I’ll have a very lean breakfast of mostly protein (maybe some eggs/egg whites or some wild haddock), some vegetables, and maybe a little bit of fruit.

This leaves more room for the extra carbs and fat from the chocolate (I’ll have about 100g or so), stuffing (about a cup), and cheesecake (1 slice).

In the days when I used to deprive myself of certain foods that I love, I would end up eating all the chocolate I could find in my mom’s house and nearly always had 2 or 3 very large slices of cheesecake.

Now I stay lean and enjoy the foods I love.

It’s a revelation.

Because your nutrition plan should be about balance.

The right amount of protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and carbs for your activity level and your goals need to be there.

There’s room in your nutrition plan for all foods (except perhaps those that you have an allergy or intolerance to).

I’m not fond of the term moderation, mainly because too many people whose diets are terrible constantly use it whenever someone questions their food choices (No, it’s not moderation, your whole diet sucks!).

Design a nutrition plan that includes treat foods that you love, which may mean sacrifice in other areas.

The quantity of treat foods matters.

Four tiny chocolate Easter eggs are pretty easy to fit into your nutrition plan.

A dozen Easter eggs, a chocolate bunny, and two slices of cheesecake?

Probably not.

So, for this long weekend, devise your plan of attack.

Be realistic, but don’t leave it all to chance.

And no matter what happens, don’t feel guilty.

Plan ahead and make the necessary adjustments.

Because life’s to short not to have a chocolate egg or two once a year.

Ivana Chapman

P.S. Want help putting together a nutrition and workout plan to get you lean – and keep you lean – 365 days of the year? My Lean365 Online Membership Program can help! $47 a month gets you all the nutrition, exercise, and psychology & lifestyle guidance you need to get the body you want. Check out the details HERE.

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7 Secrets of Fat Loss Winners

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Seems like these two people know something about losing fat.

Do you ever wonder what it really takes to get a lean, athletic body? Is there something special that people who’ve lost fat and kept it off for years know that you don’t?

Not really. There are a few key ingredients that make someone successful in their fat loss efforts for the long haul. When you really want to be that person who’s lean, year-round, for a lifetime, there are certain things that are likely to bring you success.

Every time I take on a new Online Coaching client I look for indicators about whether that person is likely to be successful with their fat loss efforts.

After over 16 years as a fitness and nutrition coach, and with some study of psychology, I’ve become pretty good at picking who’s going to succeed at losing fat long-term.

Everyone has a different way of looking at this workout and nutrition thing and how you feel about it has a lot to do with your success. The signs that someone will be get the body they want tend to be there at the beginning and unless someone makes an active effort to change their behaviour they won’t achieve what they want.

Here Are Seven Things That Indicate That Someone Will Be A Winner At Fat Loss:

1) They focus on the process, rather than the result.

Relying on your weight on the scale can be very misleading. While people who are very overweight know that they’ll need to lose a decent amount of poundage, someone who’s close to their ideal body (who just wants to build a little muscle and get a bit leaner) probably won’t have an accurate idea of where their weight should be. Many people like that won’t change weight at all, and may even gain weight, but they’ll get leaner and – most importantly – look better.

Focus on following your nutrition plan and doing your workouts. What the scale shows may not be a good indicator for you.

2) They take responsibility for their own behaviour.

Many people play the “blame game” and believe that other things (your work, your kids, your spouse, the way you’ve been raised, your genes) are in control of your fat loss. In truth, getting leaner is possible for everyone. While I don’t deny that some people have advantages in many areas, I could also give you examples of people who face significant challenges and still succeed at getting lean and staying that way long-term. Sometimes it’s about setting different priorities and other times it’s just realizing that you have more control over your life than you think you do.

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Nobody actually forced you to eat that chocolate cake.

You’re an adult now and you can tell your aunt that you don’t want her freshly-baked cupcakes.

People who realize that the decisions they make are their own (and stop blaming others!) are more likely to stay lean.

That’s not to say that it isn’t challenging sometimes.

We’re conditioned from an early age to associate food with various things, like love, acceptance, happiness….a lot of things besides nourishing our bodies to make them strong and lean.

It’s not an excuse, but it’s something to be aware of and to deal with.

3) They’re proactive and don’t rely on others.

People hire me to give them advice on their workouts and nutrition.

I expect them to do that. I have nearly two decades of experience coaching people with exercise and nutrition and I want to give people that guidance. Still, I can’t do all the work. I can’t physically lift the weights for them and I can’t prepare the nutritious food and push it into their mouths, airplane-style, like I sometimes do with my toddler.

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When a client says to me during an Online Coaching session that they’ve been “bad” and treat me like a teacher who’s going to scold them, I know I need to change their thinking.

Sure, I want all my clients to succeed, but I know that it’s ultimately down to them.

Personal responsibility is something that’s often missing in today’s society:

“All those TV ads make me crave junk food.”

“My sedentary job is making me fat.”

“My parents were cruel to me when I was young and now I use food to soothe myself.”

Those are all genuine influences on your behaviour, but they don’t have to control you.

You can take responsibility for your behaviour and find alternative solutions.

You need to figure out ways of getting around potential obstacles on your own. Believe me, for every excuse you have there’s someone out there overcoming it and achieving success.

You need to put in the effort and find solutions for yourself.

4) They’re flexible.

Someone added a teaspoon of olive oil to their salad and they don’t worry about it (but make adjustments later on). The macro breakdowns are a bit different for the same food on myfitnesspal…and they don’t freak out. They’re forced to skip working out their legs because of an ankle injury, but they still hit the gym 5 times a week and train their upper body.

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Expecting everything to be perfect is a great way to feel like a failure all the time.

I’ve seen many people throw in the towel on their fat loss plans after getting sick and having to take a week off. Some people just can’t get it together after they’ve gone on a holiday and their workout and nutrition plan veered off course.

The all-or-nothing mentality was what did them in.

They thought because they didn’t do what they were “supposed to do” for a week or two it wasn’t worth following through at all.

Big mistake!

Being flexible means that you’re less likely to give up when things get a bit complicated. And life is full of complications.

They will come, no matter how hard you hope for everything to work out perfectly.

You’ll get sick.

Maybe you’ll get injured.

Things will get busy at work.

You’ll have to travel.

Your motivation will probably wane (many times!) over the course of your fitness journey.

Accepting those inevitable imperfections, and not letting them make you give up, is the key to long-term success.

5) They focus on building their physique, rather than “burning off calories” through exercise.

The amount of calories that you burn during exercise is relatively small compared to what your body burns just going through its normal metabolic processes. When you focus on building muscle, you’re building a more active, shapely machine that burns more calories all the time. And you’ll having fewer fat cells sending out messages to your other cells to stay fat.fat-loss-winners

If you’re constantly thinking, “Oh, I had that chocolate cake so now I need to jog it off” then you’re not only going to be making the wrong choice for type of exercise (cardio vs. weights), but you’ll be developing a negative relationship with both food AND exercise at the same time. If you focus on getting stronger, lifting heavier weights, and pushing your muscles to the limit with weight training, you’ll be more likely to feel good about exercise. Food will be the fuel that propels your muscle gains and improves your next performance. That sort of attitude makes you more likely to go to the gym, work hard, and then give your body what it needs afterwards.

6) They recognize that they have to make changes and some sacrifices.

Yes, you can eat any food you want and still be lean and look great. You just can’t eat everything you want, in unlimited quantities, every day.

Some sacrifices do have to be made to make improvements and get results.

If you do what you’ve always done (ie. eating & exercise), you’ll get whatever you’ve always had (ie. your body will look the same).

Some changes to your nutrition, workouts, and lifestyle need to be made if you want to see changes in your body.

I’ve had potential Online Coaching clients come to me, thinking they were going to see massive changes to their bodies with only one or two weight training sessions a week.

It doesn’t work that way.

The changes you see will be proportional to the changes you’re able to make with the food you eat (mainly) and the exercise you do.

Change a little and you’ll see little in the way of results.

Change a lot and you’re more likely to see the significant improvements you want.

People who are successful at fat loss realize that they need to change what they’re currently doing to build a leaner body. They may need to give up some TV or Internet time to hit the gym. Recognizing that there’s work involved in the process of rebuilding your body makes you more likely to succeed.

7) They don’t worry what other people think.

We’re living in a sick, sedentary society where around 66% of people are overweight and obese. If you let yourself be part of that crowd, rather than being an inspiration to them, you won’t achieve a lean, athletic body.

You might feel ok about yourself, because you’re no worse off than the others, but you’ll never really achieve any serious physique goals.

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It’s even become a thing on social media to “fit shame” people who are muscular and lean, as if they’re doing something wrong.

That’s a bit scary, if you ask me.

When did it become ok to look down on people who are trying to be healthy, get strong, and have great bodies?

Most people are unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to have a lean body so they want to make people who are committed to the process feel like they’re doing something wrong.

Maybe you’ve heard something along the lines of these statements before:

“Oh, come on, have another drink…you’re being boring!”

“Why are you eating that chicken and grilled vegetable medley? Come with us to get some pizza!”

“He’s at the gym AGAIN this week. What a fitness freak!”

In order to get lean, you’ll probably have to do a lot of things that average people consider “weird”. Don’t worry about what people think and you’ll be more likely to be successful with your efforts.

The Final Word

Yes, I want all of my Online Coaching clients to be successful at getting lean.

But I’m never 100% in control of whether they do or not.

A coaching relationship is a partnership.

I provide the knowledge and tools to help make the fat loss journey successful. The client actually has to follow through and do what I recommend.

Over the years, I’ve provided nutrition and workout advice to hundreds of people. It’s hard to say exactly how many of those people followed the majority of the guidelines that I gave them.

I do know that the ones that followed my recommendations did better. Those people who were able to apply the tools I’ve outlined above were able to succeed in the long run.

If you haven’t been using the tools of the “winners” up until now, don’t lose heart.

You can change your thought process and adjust your behaviour over time.

Focus on the process of getting lean.

Follow your plan, but be flexible and make adjustments as needed. You’ll need to make some sacrifices if you really want to make a long-lasting changes to your body. Try not to get caught up in what people think about what you’re doing.

This is your fat loss journey and it needs to work for you over the long term.

Follow the seven secrets of fat loss winners and you’ll be on your way.

Ivana Chapman

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How To Get Ripped Naturally

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Pretty sure this guy counts as ripped.

Before we get started, check out my FREE e-Book on “How to get lean after 35” and BONUS 6 Week Workout Program. My program lays out the exact steps and strategy to build muscle and get lean – fast!

Getting ripped is something that only a few people aspire to. An even smaller group of people is actually able to achieve a physique that most people would consider ripped. There’s no consensus, but for our purposes let’s define “ripped” as having some decent muscle mass and having a low body fat percentage. For women, that percentage might be below 14% and for men it likely starts around 10% and goes into the single digits. The important distinction will also be visible abs that have definition.

This guy is ripped:

ripped lean man naked upper body

This guy is NOT ripped (even though he’s skinny and may have a low body fat percentage):

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You CAN do it Naturally

It’s possible and it’s sustainable to be ripped naturally. It’s easier if you’re using chemical enhancement, of course, but I’m a lifelong natural athlete and bodybuilder and I’m only going to address the natural methods I know. There are plenty of bros out there that can help you if you want to get ripped with drugs. Getting ripped naturally is a challenge and it takes hard work to get there. If you’re into chicken wings and plenty of beer every weekend then getting ripped probably isn’t an appropriate goal for you. Aim to get lean instead.

Still want to get ripped?

Here’s how to do it:

1) Train Heavy with Weights

In order to get ripped, building as much muscle as possible while retaining as much muscle as possible as you get leaner should be your primary goal. You’re probably already doing weight training (if not, you need to start NOW), but are you doing enough to get ripped? Although 3-4 days a week is ok if you’re trying to get lean, you’ll probably need 5-6 days a week, about an hour each, of training to get ripped.

Muscle growth is what you’re after, and you’ll develop that best by arranging your workouts like this:

  • Number of reps – Focus on the 6-12 rep range, which is where maximum hypertrophy occurs.
  • Number of sets per exercise – More muscle growth normally requires at least 4 sets of the same exercise in experienced trainees. Five or six sets might be needed to get extra hypertrophy.
  • Volume – This is a way of describing the work done for a particular exercise or body part in each workout or each week. The amount of volume that an individual can tolerate varies widely, but if you’re looking for more muscle you probably need more volume. If you’re already working in the higher rep range of 8-12 and doing 4 or 5 sets then you’ll have a fairly high volume of 40 or 50 reps for each exercise, which is ideal.
  • Rest Period – To achieve maximum muscle, the 60-90 second range normally works best.
  • Time under Tension (TUT) – TUT refers to the amount of time that your muscle is working for one set of an exercise. Optimal muscle growth seems to happen when TUT is about 40-70 secs. Do your reps slowly and with good control and you’ll increase your TUT and reduce your risk of injury from flailing the weights around.

2) Start Your Day with Protein and Fat

You’ve probably been sold on the idea that you need carbs in the morning to have energy. For most people, that’s NOT true. We’ve got plenty of energy stored in the fat in our bodies…and you want to burn that off. Keeping your carbs to a minimum in the morning can help train your body to use fat for fuel. Reducing your carb intake in general forces your body to rely on fat stores more frequently.

Treat breakfast like any other meal and don’t just rely on traditional breakfast foods (pancakes, oatmeal, waffles, toast, muffins), most of which are high in carbs. Eggs can be great, for a while, but if you’re getting bored then try a turkey burger (minus the bun), a chicken breast or two, a salmon filet, or a lean cut of sirloin steak. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of nuts, like almonds, pistachios, macadamias, walnuts, or cashews, and/or an avocado, and you’re set. You’ll probably find that you’ll stay full for longer and be less likely to “crash” in the afternoon if you start your day off with a breakfast of protein and fat.

3) Skip the Medium-Intensity Cardio and Just Walk

Spending hours jogging or cycling mindlessly on the stationary bike isn’t likely to get you ripped. Doing too much long-duration, moderate intensity cardio can actually reduce your ability to get leaner. This may be because too much cardio may reduce your muscle mass (we know we don’t want that!). The other reason may be that your thyroid hormone production is reduced when the stress of too much cardiovascular training is inflicted upon it. You should be active, for sure, for the sake of your health. Stick to walking regularly and you’ll get some fat loss and minimize muscle breakdown.

4) Change your Carb Strategy

If you’ve gotten lean, you probably initially did it by reducing your carb intake. That’s fine, and is normally a good way to start. As you get leaner, your insulin sensitivity and your tolerance for carbs is likely to increase. Which means…more carbs!

Rather than having carbs in the morning for “energy”, use carbs to help you recover from your intense workouts. Carbs help to replenish your glycogen stores, which become depleted after challenging workouts of higher volumes. Introduce your post-workout carbs in 50 gram increments, and see whether you start to get leaner. Keep adding more post-workout carbs until you stop losing body fat.

5) Up Your Protein Intake

Protein is needed to build and repair muscle, and if you’re training hard regularly then you’ll need more than most people. I generally recommend 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (i.e. If you’re 180lbs you take in 180 grams of protein) per day. When you start to reduce your calories to get leaner, it’s important to maintain a higher protein intake because this helps preserve your muscle mass.

6) Address Lifestyle Factors

If you want the optimum muscle growth and recovery that’s needed to get ripped, you need to sleep 7-9 hours a night consistently.

Take a close look at your stress levels too, because chronic stress can increase your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is catabolic, and breaking down muscle isn’t what you want if you’re trying to get ripped.

The Hard Truth

Getting ripped naturally isn’t an easy task and it requires consistent effort and plenty of sacrifices. It CAN be done, but prepare yourself for a challenging journey with a few frustrations along the way. If you’re committed and you follow the guidelines above then you’ll soon be on your way to a ripped physique that you love showing off.

Ivana Chapman

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Change Your Workout for Fat-Loss and Muscle Building

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If your workout progress has stalled, it’s time to make a change.

You’ve been doing the same workout for months and while you saw changes at first, you’ve stalled and can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong.  That great routine you pulled out of Men’s Health magazine worked for the first couple of months, but now your weights have stopped increasing and you haven’t seen changes in body composition for weeks. Why did this workout that worked so well stop working?

ADAPTATION

The body is an amazing machine and eventually adapts to stresses placed upon it. When you introduce a new workout routine you’ll initially notice muscle soreness and (providing your nutrition strategies are satisfactory) changes in muscle size or body composition. After repeating the same workout for a period of time the body eventually adapts and doesn’t respond with changes in strength and body composition.

WHEN TO CHANGE

How long is this “period of time”? The right time to change depends on the individual, but there are general guidelines to work with. A weight-training beginner may continue to see improvements for up to 8 weeks doing approximately the same routine. The more advanced an individual becomes, the more frequently the program needs to be changed.

Strength coach Charles Poliquin suggests that highly advanced athletes and those with an older weight-training age (5 years +) may need a program change approximately every 6 workouts.  Most of us will fall somewhere in the middle, as long as you’ve been weight training consistently for at least 2 years under qualified instruction.

Changing your program every 4 to 6 weeks is appropriate for most gym goers.  

There are psychological factors to consider as well. Some people cope better with more frequent changes to their routine while others feel better from maintaining the same program for longer periods. Don’t overlook the importance of psychology. If you’re the type of person who fears leaving your comfort zone, you may find frequent changes to your program overly taxing.

REPEATED EXPOSURES

I once had a member at a gym I worked at tell me, “I used to have the most amazing trainer – we never did the same workout twice!”. I didn’t bother to get into a heated discussion with her about how she actually had a pretty useless trainer who didn’t have a clue what they were doing and just picked exercises at random for each session.

So why not just do a completely different workout every time you go to the gym? It’s well accepted that it takes multiple exposures to a stimulus for muscles to adapt. Each phase of a program should have a particular goal, whether it’s building particular muscle groups, improving posture, improving strength or power, etc. If you just randomly give the body exercises to do, it really doesn’t know how to adapt and won’t make appropriate changes.

WHAT TO CHANGE 

When most people think of changing a program, they think of picking new exercises. Of course, exercises need to be changed regularly to get past plateaus and avoid injury. Deadlifts are a great exercise, but there are other great leg exercises that can be used: squats, lunges, split squats, box squats, prone leg curls, glute-ham raises, plyometric exercises, etc.

It’s difficult to incorporate all the exercises into one routine (you probably shouldn’t try!) so you need to cycle important exercises in and out of your routine. Exercise variables such as reps, sets, loads, tempo, volume and rest periods need to be changed within your program to provide variety and provide a stimulus for adaptation. The more experienced you are with weight training, the more important it is to have variation.

MAKE A CHANGE – NOW!

If you’ve been doing the same exercises, with the same sets and rep ranges, for several months, it’s time to change your routine to bust through that plateau. If you change your workout at the right time, you’ll get optimal muscle-building and fat-loss results.

Ivana Chapman