Looking To Get In Shape: The Word is Thrive, NOT Deprive!

Ladies (and gents), if you’re looking to get into shape but feel somewhat confused about how to go about this, then I am here to help! There’s a plethora of (often misleading) information out there, so it can be difficult to judge whether or not you’re on the right track. Therefore, I am going to present to you a three-part series of advice that’s based on up-to-date research, coupled with long-standing nutritional science. Ultimately, this is designed to help you achieve your goals without feeling hungry, whilst maintaining a sense of wellbeing.

This week, we’re going to be looking at getting the basics right; laying the foundations from which your new, wonderfully svelte and vibrant self will develop. I sincerely promise that this will NOT be an exhaustive inventory of ‘banned’ foods, followed by a list of ‘permitted’ foods that is depressingly minuscule in comparison – which you must read after completing a five mile run and performing 100 crunches. No, no. Instead, this series will hopefully, whet your appetite (excuse the pun) and give you back a sense of empowerment. You absolutely can achieve the body of your dreams and enjoy the process. Honestly. The most important thing to remember is that you are in the driving seat – and no one else.

‘Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail’

So without further ado, let’s begin with week one, which is all about preparation. Whilst you may be raring to get started, proper planning will stand you in good stead to ensuring success, so it’s not something you should skip. Below, I have outlined what I consider to be the three, golden rules to acquiring your desired figure. Once you’ve digested (sorry!) these, you’ll be ready to implement a strategy, which will be discussed in week two.

1) Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

I am going to be frank with you: there are no quick fixes. Repeat this. Repeat it again, and then again some, until it sinks in. Remember the old adage, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day?’ Well in this instance, Rome is your physique. You really should be looking at dedicating twelve weeks to a nutrition and exercise programme, in order to witness notable changes. It is also important to place emphasis on adopting sustainable lifestyle habits; the twelve week period is not a prison sentence, with you chalking off each day that passes. That is a ‘deprivation’ mentality which we are actively trying to avoid. You are aiming to gain control of the food choices you make – food should not control you.

2) Follow the Formula

Nutrition + Exercise = Results

You will never find a pill, powder or ‘miracle’ plan that can deliver the same results as the above, combined. You cannot out-train a bad diet; likewise, relying solely on changing what you eat in order to reach your goals will prove to be a fruitless endeavour. I’ll outline what constitutes an effective nutrition and exercise plan in due course, but in the meantime, please bear in mind that you don’t have to join a gym to get fit – there are less conventional ways to exercise that can actually be deemed as fun.

3) Fat, Not Weight

Your objective is not to ‘lose weight.’ In fact, you don’t really want to ‘lose’ anything, as this would imply you wish to find it again. Presumably, what you’re truly aspiring to do is reduce body fat. When people experience significant weight loss on faddy, low calorie diets, this is actually a combination of water, body fat and valuable muscle mass. The latter is a metabolically active tissue which can be increased through a consistent training regime. This actually helps your body to burn calories more efficiently, resulting in fat loss which consequently, is a fairly gradual process; thus, echoing the first two rules.

Dear Diary...

Along with considering the above points, I highly recommend that in the coming week, you track your eating habits by keeping a food diary. For now, continue to eat ‘normally,’ but make a conscious decision to record every morsel of food and drink that passes your lips. Though it may seem tedious, if used correctly, it is actually an invaluable tool. I can affirm that no one is going to see what you write – you are not going to be chastised for that packet of Skittles you had at 4:00pm so you’ll know never to eat them again. That’s not the idea behind this. A food diary is to help you and you alone, so that you are able to identify your weaker areas, as well as your stronger ones. For example, maybe you are always hungry at 4:00pm because you need to eat a more balanced lunch. You can’t fix something when you don’t know what’s broken; going into this blindly will feel forced, and will not instil the sense of confidence we’re striving for.

I want you to also have a clearly defined marker of your success in mind. ‘I want to lose a few pounds,’ or ‘I want to tone-up,’ are too vague, and unclear objectives are often met with lukewarm efforts. What you need is an incentive, such as, ‘I’m getting married next year and want to fit into my dress and look and feel the best I ever have.’

That concludes part one which I am sure you’ll agree, was relatively painless. I hope you found it insightful and that you’ll join me here again for part two, having put the above into practice. Thank you for reading; feel free to submit questions and comments below.

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About the Author

Zoë is a qualified nutritionist; she holds a BSc in Human Nutrition (Hons), and is currently working towards her certification in sports nutrition, awarded by the ISSN. What you eat can greatly impact your health, well-being and exercise performance. Therefore, Zoë is here to support you in reaching your goals by helping you to make informed dietary and supplement choices.


  • 'Frustrated Dieter'
    May 24, 2016 'Frustrated Dieter'

    At last, someone who is knowledgeable and understands the frustrations of continual dieting, with few results. Thank you Zoe. Can't wait for the next installment!

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