If you’ve completed phase one and phase two of this program, hopefully your body is beginning to thrive and crave real food and smart exercise. There aren’t any huge changes in phase three. Instead, we will add in some fine-tuning and self-observation to ensure your results are built to last.
Remember why you started on this journey. Be patient and gentle with yourself and you will find success.
Stay Focused in the Gym
Keep up with the exercise habits you developed in phase two. Those include:
- Weight lifting 3-4 days per week
- Walking as much as you can
- HIIT/sprint intervals at least 2 days per week
Take one or two rest or active rest days to move or just be. On these days, you don’t need to have an official agenda for the gym. Give yourself permission to not push your limits and cause more stress than you need.
Dial in Your Approach
This point in your process is a great time to consider what a more individualized approach could look like. Every body is different, and each “next-level” prescription requires a more individualized and detailed approach. Now is the time to tune in to your own specific needs and tendencies.
An individualized approach means implementing the positive tips and tricks that work for you and your lifestyle, while disregarding the ones that don’t fit. You may find that partnering with a coach, personal trainer, nutritionist, therapist, or other health professional can be helpful. This individual will be your biggest fan and a guide for helping you dig deeper to reach your fullest potential.
Now that you have the major stressors of your former lifestyle out of the picture (such as processed foods, extreme dieting, sugar, alcohol, beating yourself up in the gym, not working out at all, overtraining, and not sleeping enough), you will be free to find your sticking points in your health and continued ability to lose body fat.
Unlike other body fat loss, weight loss, nutrition, or fitness programs you’ve tried before, just because you hit the “end” of the original structured program guide does not mean it’s time to go back to “real life.” Often times, 30-, 60-, and 90-day programs equip you to experience success while on the program, only to leave you hanging come day 31, 61, or 91. My template is not a diet, but instead intended to set you up for a lifestyle of sustainable health, fitness, and nutrition.
Most diet and fitness plans fail because they lead us down a never-satisfied rabbit hole. They keep a militant focus on cutting more, exercising more, and shedding more. They falsely promise you can always be leaner and lose more, and you’re left chasing a dangling carrot.
Body fat loss is only a secondary gain as you continue to make daily choices to eat real food, incorporate smart exercise, de-stress, sleep, and find life outside the obsession around diet and fitness. In other words, your body will attain its leanest, meanest, and healthiest composition as you focus on other factors of self-care.
The final phase is all about jolting your body into a place of health, longevity, and sustainability. Appropriate leanness and body fat loss will naturally follow.
You are a force to be reckoned with. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Reflect on Your Journey
In order to maintain your newfound healthier lifestyle and continue to progress, you have to continue to set goals. Chances are, when you embarked upon this journey, you had a handful of goals you wanted to achieve.
As you start the last phase of the program, reflect on how you have met your goals in the first eight weeks, and ask yourself what you want for the next four weeks. Habit change and achieving our goals can be daunting, especially when it seems like some of them are slow-going. That’s why I like to call this type of goal setting “passion planning” instead – there are no negative connotations.
After working toward body fat loss and ‘gains’ the past eight weeks, it might be easy to get down on yourself if you haven’t reached all your goals. Here are some concrete actions you can take to enforce positive thinking habits in your daily life:
- Feed Your Mind With Positivity. Invigorate your mindset by feeding it with positive messages and affirmations on a daily basis. Consider Amazon Audible or library audio membership for listening to positive books on your daily commute (Recommended: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey). Podcasts are great, too.
- Make Your Goals Visible. Write out a mantra or your current goals on a notecard and stick it in places you can see it.
- Choose Your Company. Intentionally schedule time to spend with people who lift you up.
- Stop Comparing. You are a force to be reckoned with. So why do you keep looking to others as your baseline measure? Learning to accept yourself requires that you shift your mindset from constantly reaching for something more to acknowledging how far you’ve come and where you are today – not anyone else.
Balance Your Hormones
On the physical front, if you find you have hit a wall with your body fat loss, even though you could realistically lose a little more, you may need to address your hormones and adrenals. Adrenals are your little internal stress regulators for your body. When your body continues to heal from a lifetime of stressful habits, cortisol (a stress hormone) can continue to remain elevated for some time. So even though you may be eating real foods, sleeping more, and not taxing yourself too hard in the gym, your adrenals can still be working against you, causing your body to continue to hold on to some body fat for reserves.
By working with a skilled and knowledgeable healthcare professional, such as a nutritional therapist or functional medicine practitioner, you can learn more about how to support your own adrenals appropriately. The professional may conduct salivary hormone panels or other clinical tests to assess what may be going on with your hormones. He or she also would be the right person to guide you in any further dietary changes or protocols such as a guided cleanse for eliminating stressful toxins from your body, or appropriate balance of carbs, fats, and proteins for your body.
Aside from seeing a practitioner, continued work towards improving your digestion can dramatically impact your internal stress levels and reduce any inflammation.
Peace, Health, and Happiness
Keep the end in mind, but don’t forget to celebrate how far you’ve already come. Remember, what matters most is living for today. That is how the little things add up to big things over time.
More Nutrition Advice from Lauryn:
- A 12-Week Fat Loss Plan: Phase One
- A 12-Week Fat Loss Plan: Phase Two
- Quit Your Diet: A Sustainable Approach to Lasting Results
- New on Breaking Muscle Right Now
Photo courtesy of CrossFit Impulse.