A martial artist always strives to be in the best shape possible. Sometimes that means losing weight, either because we are overweight or because we need to make weight for an event or a fight. Whatever the reason, these tips are designed to get you started on the road to permanent weight loss.
Make A Real Commitment
Understand that weight loss will not happen, or will not be permanent or healthy if you do not commit to an overall healthy lifestyle. There is no magic diet or pill. You can’t starve yourself, or do drastic amounts of exercise all of a sudden. Permanent weight loss means making a choice to eat right from now on. It means making good choices, not punishing yourself. It means exercising consistently, not exercising so hard that you are too sore or discouraged to stick to your regimen. Be smart, be real and be determined, and you will reach your goals.
Find Out Where You Are Starting From
Take detailed measurements. If all you have is a scale, then write down your weight and the date. Always weigh yourself with as little clothing as possible, preferably before you eat breakfast in the morning. If you have access to any method of body fat calculation, write that number down as well. Weigh yourself and do body fat calculations every two weeks.
Pay attention to how your clothes fit. Martial arts training can be very muscular in nature, and you may put on muscle mass that can be misleading on a scale. The way your clothes fit, and how your body looks is much more important than what your scale says. Remember, the goal is a healthier body with less fat and more lean muscle, not a certain weight on the scale.
Calories Really Do Count
There is one simple rule to adhere to when you are trying to lose weight. You need to burn more calories than you take in. That doesn’t mean that you should starve yourself. You need calories for fuel, especially to make it through strenuous martial arts training. This tool can help calculate the amount of calories you should take in for weight loss.
Keep a notebook or diary of everything you eat for a couple of weeks. Don’t skip anything. If you eat it or drink it, write it down, and include the amount as well. You can go to www.calorie-count.com and find the calorie values of your food.
Go grocery shopping with a list in hand. One bit of advice often given to those shopping while trying to lose weight is to avoid the inner aisles of the grocery store. The inner aisles are full of processed foods that are full of sugars, bleached flours, syrups, preservatives and all of the other empty, harmful things you do not want on a diet. Stay on the outside of your local grocery store and stock up on fresh foods that you have to cook or can eat raw. No ready-made, processed foods!
Also, never go grocery shopping hungry! You will want to buy every tasty thing that you see, even though you know better. Stores are geared towards impulse buying. Resist the urge. You will be proud that you stuck to your diet plan.
Eat Food as Fuel
What foods should you be buying? Whole foods - veggies, grains, fruits, fresh meats and poultry. These are the foods that give you fuel to train hard and recover fast.
Fruits and Vegetables
Kiwifruit, cherries, blueberries, bananas (while calorie dense, they are also good sources of vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, which helps to prevent muscle cramps), and dark green veggies.
Think brown. Brown rice and whole grain breads. No white bread or rice, and it goes without saying no sweets like cookies or cakes. Save those for rare treats or rewards.
Lean beef, white meat chicken, salmon and cold water fish. Tuna in a can is a great food on the go. Always eat plenty of lean protein!
Drink plenty of water! Stay away from soda, juices and other sugary beverages. You should be drinking a bare minimum of 8 glasses, or 64 ounces, of water per day. If you are training hard, like you should be, you should try to drink even more.
Drinking plenty of water will aid in your weight loss. Staying hydrated will allow your body to stop holding onto water weight. Your skin, hair, digestion and muscle recovery will also improve when properly hydrated.
Push Yourself In Training
In the dojo, the gym or at home, it is up to you to push yourself to your limits. Get the most out of your training time. Throw each technique like it is real. Push yourself to run faster, stretch longer and hit with more intensity. Train like a warrior and you will soon look like one.
Remember that consistency is key! It doesn’t matter if you work hard one day if you are going to cheat at your workouts the rest of the time. It’s your body and your life. Only your sheer force of will is going to push you to the next level of martial arts and physical fitness.
Variety is The Spice of Life
Try to add variety to your workout routine to avoid plateaus. You should mix up your training routines to optimize weight loss, fat loss, muscle growth and recovery. Remember, there is more to training than what you do in the dojo or gym.
Example Workout Routines
It is also a great idea to do some exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to optimize fat loss.
Schedule Your Recovery Time
The body needs time to rest and repair from hard training. Sleep and rest are just as important to losing weight as the training! If your body is in stress, it will hold onto those body fat stores for dear life! Make sure you get enough sleep and have at least one day a week where you do no strenuous physical activity. Schedule your rest time and stick to it, the same as how you would schedule a training session. You will see results faster and feel much better in the process.
Supplements Can Help, But They Aren’t Magic
Supplements can help with fat burning, can speed recovery time and can give you a boost in performance as well. It is important to remember several things about supplements though. First, some people think they are not safe. Read all the labels, research online and make an informed decision. The vast majority of supplements available over the counter are relatively safe, provided you don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes. At the very least, I would recommend taking a joint support compound and a multivitamin for good health and recovery.