So you want to get in shape? There are so many diet fads, fitness plans, and nutrition counters out there that it’s often overwhelming to try to figure out which one will work for you. Plus, they often cost way more money than anyone should be willing to spend to lose weight.
With that in mind, we went to work to create a simple plan that would work for most everyone and require very little money to get started. This is not some fancy plan that is endorsed by a celebrity or a doctor, this is just a plan that worked for us that we want to pass along to you.
There are a few things you’ll need for this program:
- A calorie counter app for your phone (we prefer MyFitnessPal)
- The ability to open Excel files
- Protein powder (we prefer GNC)
- Creatine (optional)
Now that might seem like a pretty random mix, but let’s break them down individually.
A calorie counter app. This is an important part of your new fitness plan. The best fitness programs always start in the kitchen, and this is a great way to keep track of what you’re putting into your body as well as your strength and cardiovascular workouts. We prefer MyFitnessPal since it has a huge database of foods, can sync with workout trackers like the Fitbit, and is easy to use. If you use the Fitbit integration, the app will automatically adjust your daily net calorie goal and import the fitness data measured by your tracker. Plus, MyFitnessPal is free and you can enter your information through the website or via their free apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Nice.
Key to Success: Don’t skip putting anything into your tracker! Nothing should be skipped no matter how small it may seem. Whether it’s 3 M&M’s from your grandmother’s candy jar or a half a glass of milk that you have before bed. There are two reasons for this, the first is accountability. Entering everything makes you think twice about eating something since you’ll have to do the work to enter it. The second is that it gives you an accurate view of your eating habits and your nutrients. Not getting enough calcium? The app will tell you.
The ability to open an Excel spreadsheet (Subtitle: Push-ups). There are many different strength training activities that you can do, but one of the best and easiest to track are pushups. Push-ups build a strong core (abs), and increase strength in your chest, arms, and forearms. Push-ups are considered the ultimate body-weight exercise because there are different push-ups you can do depending on your strength, stamina, and workout goals. Plus, push-ups don’t require any fancy exercise equipment so that saves you money. Why the Excel spreadsheet though? Because we created a tracker (that you can download here) for you to record your workouts, with room to track ten sets a day. The tracker will let you gradually increase your total every time you work out, and will keep track of your total push-ups over time.
Key to Success: Start out by doing 10 sets with a low number of reps in each one. You may only be able to do a little bit now, but do a full 10 sets and increase the sets each time you work out with a new total that is comfortable for you but is still pushing you to increase strength. We included a sample row on the tracker for you.
Protein powder (we prefer GNC). Protein is an important part of your workout program, and you should try to keep your levels high from the food you eat (remember the app). Sometimes, you might need a little extra kick though and that’s where protein powder comes into play. The basics of protein is that it’s one of the three main macro-nutrients you’ll consume (along with fat and carbohydrates). Protein is essential in your diet for the growth and repair of your muscle tissue. If you are doing strength training, your need for protein is higher than someone who is not active. Plus, many people who are not active still do not ingest enough quality protein. The protein you buy at GNC or other nutrition stores is not different than protein from natural sources, it's just more convenient.
Key to Success: Keep track of your daily protein intake on your app, and if you’re running low you can take a scoop of protein powder. If you’re going to be working out that day make sure to take the protein after your workout to help rebuild your muscles. You can check out what we’ve been using here at Amazon.
Creatine (optional). Creatine is a substance that increases the body's ability to produce energy. It’s pretty simple; with more energy, you can train more. And with more training, you will gain more muscle. The basics of how it works is that creatine increases the availability of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) in the body. Think of ATP as fuel for your muscles. Creatine also helps to increase your muscle size by pulling fluid into the muscle cells which makes your muscles appear bigger. That benefit is mostly cosmetic, but the energy benefit does help create bigger muscles.The good thing about creatine is that it’s one of the most studied supplements around, and so far everything points to it being safe to take.
Key to Success: Don’t waste your money on creatine shakes, mixes, or fruit drinks. Just buy the pure powdered version and cycle on and off which means using it for two or three months, and then taking a month to six weeks off of it. This helps prevent forming a dependency on it. Again, we use the GNC brand because it’s inexpensive and we can count on the quality. You can check out our favorite here.
Diligence. This is the most important part. If you don’t stay diligent in your routine, you won’t see results. Sometimes it may seem like a hassle, but in reality you’re not adding much to your daily routine and the results are worth it. I’ve been testing this program out for three months now, and I’ve lost 28 pounds of fat and have gained some real strength from it. Plus, I look better in a t-shirt now which was my main reason for starting the process of getting back in shape. Bonus.
Key to Success: Be diligent! We can’t stress that enough.
Good luck to you in your fitness program! If you have feedback for us feel free to leave it in the comments below, or you can contact us here.