My 2 Simple Rules on Staying Fit in 2021

Calorie Deficit and Increased Exercise

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Photo by Josh Gordon on Unsplash

Please don’t take any of this for the god’s truth. I’ve been exercising for a while but I have no professional qualifications in nutrition or fitness. Yes I’ve played sport fairly competitively and have spoken to dieticians/nutritionists/physiotherapists extensively, but that’s all personal. The below advice works for me really well, but it may not work for you. In any case, speak to a professional.

I’ve been working from home since March 13 2020.

Yes, that’s been over 10 months.

On the whole it’s been OK but it’s been challenging for sure. Finding motivation to get out of bed before lunch, motivation to dress appropriately, to eat well and to actually move is easier said than done.

That being said, the english winter isn’t fun either. From October onwards, petulant rain surrounds you in a confidence-destroying manner. The grey dismal sky leaves me questioning ‘why am I here’ most days when I could be working remotely from other sunnier parts of the world.

On the whole: fitness is a state of mind game. I’m going to repeat that: fitness is all about your state of mind.

A negative mental state can go far beyond just giving you a little bit of a belly so it’s important to nurture it, or at the very least, having a way to win.

What works for me may not work for you: it’s important to find your own rhythm and find what you feel comfortable doing. I’m not the most consistent but I can recognise when my state of mind, or my physical health begin to flag — and most importantly, I react. I’ll mix my diet up, I’ll make time to exercise more and also, I really believe that small exercise actions add up.

Some people are OK crash dieting; others are comfortable becoming gym rats. However everyone accepts that you need a bit of both to truly develop your physique and state of mind.

Step 0: Make a Target

As of the start of 2021, I want to lose one stone of weight (1 stone = 7kg = 14 lbs). Since last summer, I’ve just been working from home and the absence of walking to work (about 6,000 steps) has left me a bit heavier (nothing wrong with being heavier, I just don’t want to be it).

In reality, I want achieve my goal in 2 months, so I need to lose about 0.8kg a week.

To lose 0.8kg a week, I need to reduce the internal amount left over at the end of the week. As all un-used calories are generally stored in the form of fat, if 1 kg of body fat is 7,700 calories worth, then my target of 0.8kg is 6160 calories, which works out to 880 calories per day.

Now you can achieve this by reducing your intake, or, increasing the amount of exercise. Increasing the amount you exercise is definitely the better way to go about it (in my opinion) but, reducing your intake (or at least guiding it) can help.

Note: If your body fat is low, then this won’t work: you’ll only make it more difficult for yourself. If you exercise daily: this again may not work as your body needs the new energy so you may burn yourself out.

Step 1: Reduce Intake

Call it a calorie deficit, call it going keto, call it eating less: the main story here is to simply eat less.

If you take less in — you keep less on. It’s as simple as that.

When I look to lose weight, I look to hit around 1,600 calories a day. Why? That’s because as an adult, my target calorie intake is 2,500 calories but as I’ve been sat at home, my real requirement is probably somewhere in the 2000 range.

Remember I’m also not walking to work anymore, nor am I seeing friends after work. That difference works out to about 7000 steps a day. 7000 steps is about 317 calories a day.

If you eat the same as you always do, 1600 calories is not enough. You need to change the way you eat. My diet is something as follows now:

  1. Breakfast: porridge (~250 calories)
  2. Lunch: Sandwich (~400 calories)
  3. Dinner: Chicken and Veg (~600 calories)

That still leaves 350 calories for the following snacks during the day:

  • One small yoghurt pot (41 calories)
  • Small pack of popcorn (40 calories)
  • I love me some ice cream (120 calories)
  • 250ml fruit shake (150 calories)

In reality, I sometimes combine my lunch with my fruit shake to make some form of a mega shake but either way you get the idea.

Porridge can be boring, so can chicken and veg. But you need to be mentally ready to make a change.

Step 2: Run

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Photo by Jeremy Lapak on Unsplash

Run 5km 3 times a week

I’ve tried HIIT. I’ve tried lifting weights. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but the thing that’s always worked for me is running.

Note: I’m not trying to gain muscle mass here. I’m literally just trying to shed a bit of excess fat (and lower my body fat %). If you want to gain muscle mass, this is not for you.

It’s not just me though, so many people run. Why? Honestly, it just works. I’ve made the excuses before (it’s tiring, I don’t like it, I can do something else which works better for me) but it’s nonsense.

Running on concrete isn’t ideal (I prefer running on the grass in a park) but it’s not the worst either. Get yourself a good pair of running trainers and get out there.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes either. It doesn’t matter how slow you go. Even if you run at the pace that you walk, keep running. Over time you’ll get better and it won’t be today or tomorrow, but eventually you will.

Running is pretty soul destroying at the best of times but you need to trust society in that with enough perseverance, you begin to find a bit of solace in it. The quietness is what I really like.

For those reading this and thinking “this guy is an idiot” — I probably am. I’ve not mentioned anything ‘radically different’ or radically unique, but this type of an weight loss regime just works very well for me, and is something I’d recommend to others.

For those of you thinking about giving the diet a go; reengineering your diet to require a lesser number of calories is an easy start. Try to lower your calorie intake without making yourself feel hungry. That in itself is a huge step.

For those of you thinking about running — I really encourage it. Note that I much prefer lifting weights in the gym but as gyms are closed (and I’m not fortunate to have a home gym), running it is.

Let me know what you think — and remember to take care during this endurance of a lockdown.


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