Most of today’s recruits need to drop a few pounds before entering boot camp. Although recruiting offices offer fitness programs for recruits trying to get into shape for their fitness test, these programs are often not enough for those who need to lose a significant amount of weight. Whether you’re trying to lose weight for boot camp or want to shed a few pounds before your next sports season, check out these three simple lifestyle changes. They will make a big difference.
1. Fix Your Sleep
Fixing your sleep cycle is the first, and often the most overlooked, key to reducing body fat. Fatigue from lack of sleep slows down your metabolism and limits your ability to recover from exercise. Proper sleep is essential for the normal function of the brain, thyroid, adrenal glands and the gastrointestinal system.
To maximize the benefits of your physical fitness program, you need eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, even on weekends. Get into the habit of setting a bedtime by deciding on a wake time, counting backward eight hours, then giving yourself an extra half hour to fall asleep. For example, if you have to get up at 6 a.m., you should be in bed by 9:30 p.m. and asleep by 10.
Creating an environment that promotes sleep helps tremendously. Sleep experts advocate a dark, quiet environment with no TV, cell phone or other electronics. Turn everything off an hour before your bedtime to let your brain calm down. Some experts advocate supplementing with melatonin (sold at health food stores) to make the transition easier to your new sleep cycle.
Once you’ve fixed your sleep cycle, you’ll find yourself recovering from exercise better, thinking more clearly and feeling healthier than you did before. Learn more about how to get a good night’s sleep.
Most Americans are actually dehydrated. The average person needs to drink a minimum of half of their body weight in ounces of water every day, just for normal function. That means a 200-pound person needs a minimum of 100 ounces of water every day for optimal health. This does not include water lost during exercise, which should be replaced at a rate of two cups (16 ounces) per pound of bodyweight lost.
When you don’t drink enough water, your entire body runs at a lower level. All of the organs that suffer from lack of sleep also suffer from lack of hydration. Also, most people who suffer from dehydration end up overeating, because they mistake their thirst for hunger. Finally, you’ll never properly recover from all those Push-Ups and runs you will do with the recruiter if you aren’t fully hydrated.
Start getting more water by following these tips for staying hydrated.
3. Simplify Your Carb Sources
Nutrition is a complicated subject, and you can do a number of different things to reduce body fat. However, if I had to recommend only one thing, it would be to decrease your carbohydrate intake by simplifying your sources. Try to get all your carbs from vegetables, and start cutting sugars, grains and dairy from your diet.
Sugar plays havoc with insulin levels, causing the body to store more fat. Grain creates an inflammatory response, which most people can tolerate; but eliminating it will help maximize your fat loss. Dairy often does both. Vegetables, however, do not cause problems with insulin, do not promote inflammation, and provide important vitamins and minerals necessary for exercise recovery.
For even better results, follow these tips for eating to lose weight.
Following these three simple tips will help maximize the results of your physical fitness program. Make these lifestyle changes to get over the hump and start losing weight for boot camp or your sport.
Chris DuBois, CSCS, is currently the head performance trainer for Courthouse Performance Training in Salem, Ore. For several years, he has worked as a strength and conditioning coach in collegiate and private settings. He spent nine years in the United States Marine Corps, where he successfully trained recruits for boot camp and officer candidates for OCS. DuBois was one of the strength coaches who helped develop and implement the strength and conditioning program currently used by Marine Corps Special Operations (MARSOC). He has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science.