Strong beginnings – success through synergy

So where to begin? Since two thirds of the population is overweight let’s address the foundations and keys to fat loss.

Now before I get into the nuts and bolts of nutrition and training principles it is essential we discuss the mental approach.

I am continually in contact with people who self-sabotage themselves. They just don’t believe deep down it’s possible to change. The ‘hope’ that brings them to the point of “maybe I could achieve this goal?” is very fragile.

And unless an absolute belief and vision is there combined with an early feeling of achievement and progress, the dream can and generally will quickly fade and the desire to make those better choices becomes progressively harder.

Brian Tracy, one of the most highly regarded motivators, says in his book ‘Maximum Achievement’ that he has found the common link between high achievers. All have taken the time to sit down and create a clear blueprint for themselves and their future.

This advice is hardly new and should seem like common sense, but it’s rarely done. There is incredible power to goal setting and strategic planning.

Tracy goes on to say that happiness is the “progressive achievement of a worthy ideal or goal”.

At the end of this article I have included an exercise that I thoroughly recommend you try and invest in to help clarify your goals and create the desire necessary to achieve them.

So let’s now focus on some basic principles to get you on the right track quickly. As I know once you start getting results staying on that path is easier.

Success comes from a synergy: the need for muscle, cardio in moderation and good nutrition and lifestyle.

Let me elaborate, starting with the need for muscle. Muscle is an active tissue and needs fuel. It’s your friend if you want to loose body fat by increasing your metabolism (the rate your body burns fuel).

So here comes our first road block – mostly from girls – “but I don’t want to be big and muscle bound” you say.

1. It’s very difficult for most women to bulk up as testosterone is a big helper.
2. If you are in the minority and prone to quick muscle gain then there are various strategies to combat this (e.g. cardio after the resistence session as recommend below or circuit training).
3. After the age of approx. 30 muscles begin to atrophy (diminish) so weight training is essential to maintain metabolism levels.
The second key is moderate amounts of cardio. Overdoing it can lead to a decrease in fat burning potential.

A survey conducted several years ago revealed that aerobic instructors are on average 20 % body fat, while body pump (using resistence weights) instructors were below 15 %. Why? It goes back to the need for muscle.

Overdoing cardio may result in your body using the muscles as a fuel source if there are inadequate reserves. Decreasing your lean muscle tissue then leads to a decrease in fat burners. Cardio is important as it allows nutrients to be transported to the cells via the bloodstream. When fat is released from storage centres (adipose cells) it travels through the bloodstream to be burned.

That is why I recommend cardio after the resistance workout. Don’t make sessions longer than an hour so you decrease the risk of using the muscles as fuel.

Here’s an example plan – 5 min warm-up, 40 min resistance workout, 10 min cardio (65-85% intensity), then 5 min cool down and stretch.

The third part is nutrition and life style. Often the most misunderstood and neglected. Here are some basic initial steps:

1. Eat every 3 to 4 hours. This will increase your metabolism and keep your blood sugar levels steady. If you eat regularly your body thinks “hey, I don’t need to store as much of this food as body fat, because I am getting this regularly”.
2. Eat a source of protein at every meal. Our body requires all three macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats) to function.
3. Reduce processed food, particularly the three evil whites: white flour, white sugar and white salt.
4. Rotate your foods. Eat from a variety of foods to get maximum nutrients and reduce toxicity levels – particularly with meat.
5. Try to get to bed before 10.30pm as lack of sleep and rest will place a stress on the body and when the body is stress it protects itself and one way is to release hormones to store fat.
6. Drink plenty of good quality water, at least 2 litres per day. Fruit juice doesn’t count as it’s full of sugar.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article I have included an exercise to help create your goals and give you a roadmap.
Please try the following:
Find a quiet place to close your eyes and think about your current health now, think about how it feels waking up in the morning, think about what you see in the mirror, about how you would feel after you went for a jog around the park for 5 minutes, now project that over a year, then 5 years, then 20. What do you see, hear and feel at each stage and what are you able to do. What is your quality of life?

Now take another look at some of the strategies towards health and fitness outlined, the ‘how’ we can do this. These initial steps are powerful stepping stones. Again close your eyes and think what would you like to see in that mirror, how would it feel to wake up energised in the morning, and what would it feel to have a lasting energy throughout the day – what could you achieve?

Now put pen to paper and write down your ultimate health and fitness goals. Stick them somewhere where you can see them everyday, and now let’s begin the journey towards health, vitality and the body of your dreams together. Once you have written your goals down, it is much harder to sabotage yourself!

The aim of this month is to create simple and achievable habits.

The final point is I challenge you to being bold and begin now, not tomorrow, after the holiday, or when you feel ready.

The journey of 1000 miles begins with 1 step.

Your 3d Coach
Craig Burton

1. Chek, P., How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy, 2004, C.H.E.K. Institute
2. Tracey, B., Maximum Achievement, Simon & Schuster
3. Kaplan, P., Fitness Truth, online at