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Even though I’m no longer living in Los Angeles, I still help out some friends in the entertainment industry when they have questions about health and wellness.
An actor friend called earlier this week and was excited that he’s going back to work — his new TV show is starting production again. So, facing life in front of the camera in 10 days, he wanted to know the best way to lose five pounds, and get leaner fast!
This question applies to all of us — while you may not be about to film a TV show, you might be prepping to go on vacation, go to a wedding, or have a family photo shoot!
Caveat: If you’ve been reading this “Ask Andy” column the past couple of months, then you have heard me say this basic tenet before, but it bears repeating here: There are no “magic pills,” and I don’t believe in temporary diets to get leaner. Instead, we must create good habits that can become our lifestyle over time, NOT a quick fix that is so unrealistic that we will inevitably give up and go back to our old ways, or worse.
That said, there are some basic truths that will kickstart your metabolism and move your body into the state of fat-burning (where it wants to be in the first place). Here are the main ideas of the direction I gave him.
When it comes to intake (anything you eat/drink), I advised him of two major rules:
No ABC’S Allowed
No Alcohol, no Bread, no Cheese, and no Sugar. I’m sure you may want to debate the merits of any/all of these much-loved items, but I have learned the simple truth that our bodies look/feel/perform better without these four. Sounds cruel and unusual, right? Well, remember, my friend was in a hurry, and he was really motivated to get leaner quickly. Maybe it’s a bit extreme to imagine yourself avoiding all four of these forever … BUT, if you remember the 80/20 rule we’ve discussed before, you can apply that rule here. Simply remove these as options during 80% of your week, and then you can enjoy any of them as treats 20% of the time.
Chicken, broccoli, brown rice, and repeat
Unless you have dietary restrictions/allergies/vegan, etc., that is the template for what your meals should look like — you can substitute lean proteins for the chicken, plenty of green veggies for the broccoli, and sweet potatoes or quinoa for the brown rice.
When it comes to portion size; think 25% protein, 25% carbs, 50% vegetables (you literally can’t eat too many veggies). Again, for the short-term nature of this column, then be relentlessly self-disciplined with your intake for the duration of your challenge. But, for long-term sustainability, the 80/20 rule applies here as well.
Establish these good habits to the point where your meals are pre-planned and predictable — you’re eating 80% of your meals as fuel, and you look forward to the 20% of meals and all its deliciousness.
Fit in two workouts each day
First thing in the morning, my friend agreed to do fasted cardio. Some caffeine in the form of coffee, tea or other natural/non-sugared beverage is fine beforehand as well. This cardio session should be between 30 minutes to an hour, and it can be anything that gets his heart rate up and makes him sweat. A brisk walk, jog, bike ride, elliptical, swim, whatever. It need not be a sprint or anything too stressful, you’re just trying to fire up the metabolic bonfire.
Then, at a convenient point later in the day, he will conduct a short and sharp resistance training circuit of 30 minutes, including warmup/movement prep. This can be a bodyweight circuit session, HIIT interval session, targeted muscle group session- anything that involves taxing some big muscle groups in both the upper and lower body, core work, and little to no rest between rounds. As discussed in earlier articles, we are not aiming for completing the world’s greatest workout- rather, we are going for consistently good, total-body training that will induce the EPOC “state” where your body will continue burning calories at an advanced rate for longer into the rest of the day.
You’re probably thinking, That’s it? No fat-burners or drinking distilled water to intentionally dehydrate his body, or slathering Preparation H over his abs to thin out his skin to look more shredded on camera? NO! Not only are those crazy ideas unsafe, but they are also a waste of time and money.
The basic truths of exercising smartly and consistently, combined with a clean intake, are ALWAYS EFFECTIVE. Yes, it is simple. No, it is not easy. But trust me, it is worth it… I still adhere to these basic truths myself, because they are lessons that have been proven consistently with my clients and in my own training over the last 30-plus years of working out every day. Just this weekend I had a fitness photo shoot to prepare for, and so I dialed in a bit extra to be camera-ready myself.
Want to look, feel, and perform the best you ever have — read this answer again, and make the commitment to yourself.