Best-selling author, TV presenter, and fitness coach Joe Wicks shot to fitness fame thanks to his simple, no-fuss approach to improving public health. The “Body Coach” works with people at all stages of their fitness journey and understands that for some, summing up their daily intake can be off-putting as they try to prioritize family and work commitments before calculating their calories. On top of this, cutting calories for a sustained period is far more difficult than it seems.
Luckily, all of this is heard loud and clear by Wicks, who recently shared his “quick wins” for keeping our wellness in check while navigating busy lives.
The British “national treasure,” who also holds an MBE for his important work in helping to keep children active and mentally fit, believes that reducing excessive calories is about more than just the numbers. Indeed, people struggle every day with managing appropriate levels of calorie consumption for a variety of reasons; from the hidden dangers of eating out, to psychological factors that aim to derail our decision-making.
CALORIE REQUIREMENTS ARE AN INDIVIDUAL THING
It might seem all too easy to look at the body shape of the person across the road and think that replicating their meal choices would put you at a similar level of body weight, but this just isn’t the case. Not only are there complicated individual factors at play such as your hormone levels and metabolic rate, but for those who don’t want to get into the numbers just yet, you just need to understand that we all have varying calorific requirements.
“You can’t just say you’re on 2,000 calories and you’re on 1,800 calories. There’s more to it,” says Wicks. “There are daily activity energy levels that you are using through work, there’s age. I don’t necessarily promote counting calories because, I’ve always said, it makes things more confusing, more complicated, and it’s a pressure that you don’t necessarily need. A lot of people count everything and track it all, but for the general population, the biggest challenge is to think differently about food.
EAT OUT LESS
“When you are very overweight, or very unfit, the idea of losing all that weight is so overwhelming,” says the 36-year-old coach from Epsom in Surrey. “It’s breaking that down into small daily chunks. Sometimes it’s the smallest of things, like, ‘Can I avoid one meal out today’, or a sandwich and a ready-meal on the go, and Can I just make a recipe at home?’ That’s a small win, and these entire little things compound over a week and a month.”
When you consider the hidden oil, fat, and salt that many restaurants put into their meals, you cut an enormous number of calories by simply cooking a meal at home, where there is greater consciousness of what is going into each dish.
DON’T LET NEGATIVE EMOTIONS DERAIL YOUR JUDGMENT
Fact: Bad days happen to us all and there will be occasions when we reach for the fridge without the level of self-control that we would like. It is important to understand that this is normal, so go ahead and cheat; you probably deserve it, but don’t let a cheat meal become a cheat day, or completely derail your improving nutritional habits.
“We all do it, we all have days where we emotionally eat,” reassures Wicks. “We miss exercise, and we get stressed, and we would rather sit and watch TV because you can block it all out.” But the Body Coach knows that these types of days quickly lead to poor calorie intakes over a longer period if we don’t put the work into breaking the cycle.
EXERCISE TO CUT CALORIES
You’ve heard it before, and it’s true: you can’t outwork a bad diet. Still, you can mitigate at least some of the damage made by overcoming calories, by expending some of that energy. When you exercise, you burn off some excess calories you may have picked up during the day.
“You can do one little thing for yourself, and say ‘You know what?’ I might have eaten sh*t food all day, but I’ve done a 10-minute workout, or a 15-minute walk around the block, and I’ve done something for myself,” encourages Wicks. “That’s a positive message, especially for those that are demotivated, I think.”