There are so many different approaches to nutrition and training these days and it can get a little overwhelming when it comes to figuring out what is right for you and your body. We see people talking about what they eat, what the right amount cardio is, what type of weight training to do and in my opinion there is no one right way to train or diet its about trial and error to see what works for you and your lifestyle.
Im am not an expert on this topic when its comes to other peoples results but I get so many messages on a regular basis asking me what you should do to achieve the results you desire. There are so many factors that contribute to each indivual person's results so I can give you my best advice that may help you on your journey. So I thought I would share with you my experience to give you some insight into the approaches I have tried and why I am doing what I do now.
Recently you may have noticed that I have drastically changed the way I am training and how I am eating. I have been training and eating “clean” (my definition of clean is trying to eat more unprocessed foods in ratio to processed foods) for the past few years now and in that time my approach has definitely changed along the way. I was always very scared of eating too many carbohydrates and large amounts of food until I started my first ever competition prep and I jumped up to eating 6 meals a day with more food than I had ever had before and where my training had increased to weights 6 days a week and cardio 5-6 days per week and even cardio twice a day on top of that for a short period of time leading up to the show. Now I just want to reiterate that that amount of cardio is only done if necessary to the lead up to a show its not something I did all the time. Over the next couple of years I changed my approaches where I had a nutrition and training plan which included cardio most days and weights as well as a very strict eating plan which would include one cheat meal per week. I still maintained a similar structure in my off season with just more food and a little less cardio.
Now in regards to that part of my journey it was very regimented and its something that definitely worked for me at the time. You may be the type of person that needs structure to start, which is great. I experimented with different training styles and always kept things quite intense as that what i enjoyed doing at the time. But over time what I found that this approach was no longer working for me.
I have such a busy lifestyle with my job so doing cardio every morning and prepping every single meal was just not realistic for me anymore. I had also discovered I had been dealing with chronic tendonitis and bursitis in my hip so I was always in immense amount of pain with high volume training approach that I was doing. This meant I could not put 100% into my training, so not only did my results start to really plateau or even diminish, but I was not enjoying my plan anymore it was turning into a chore. So if something is not working for you or your lifestyle its time to change it right?
After taking time off to get treatment and rehab on my hip there was no way I could go back to training like I did before as my body would not be able to handle it. So I have tried focusing on lower volume training with heavy weights (yes heavy!) and this has been working wonders I am finally pain free and seeing some great changes. After 2 years of following a strict regimented nutrition plan I also felt as though I needed a new approach. I thankfully discovered flexible dieting and I don't think I will ever look back. Instead of following a set plan I now hit target marcos (macronutrients = protein, carbs and fats) and I have the flexibility of choosing which foods I want. Now this doesn't mean I reach for the icecream tub and fast food, I still predominantly eat wholefoods. However if I want to have something and it fits my targets then yes I can have it. Now this approach does not work for everyone as it does take quite a bit more planning and discipline I find to make sure you are hitting the correct macronutrients (its very easy to stray and go crazy) so some people work better with a set plan.
So how do you know where to start?
The answer here is not always so easy but I think the important thing is to do is make a plan and just start somewhere. If you have no experience in training then hire a good personal trainer for a few months (make sure you do your homework before you invest in a trainer to make sure they experienced and right for you) they can help you learn about training ad nutrition and set a structure for you until you are confident to do it yourself. If you have had experience and the approach is not working for you then something needs to change. You may need to give your body more variety in the food your eat or change up your training program with more weights and less cardio or for some vice versa depending on your goals (I am a big believer in weights are more important than cardio but a combination of both is optimal). There is no one size fits all what works for one person may not work for you so mix things up and keep challenging yourself.
The main point is, stop focusing on what everyone else around you is doing. You are an individual and your body is very different to anyone else's. Its about trial and error and it has taken me 3 years to really find and approach that works for me. Work hard every day and commit to any approach you try. If it works for you great, if it doesn't then find something that does. If you want to see results you need to make changes to get them. But above all find something that you can work with, that keep you healthy and happy!