FOUR BARREL FITNESS OWNER CASE BELCHER OFFERS UP A FEW TIPS TO HELP YOU LOOK AND FEEL YOUR BEST ON YOUR BIG DAY – AND BEYOND
BY LISA HORNUNG
Everyone wants to look perfect for their wedding, and when you want to lose weight to do your best, you need to find the right diet and exercise program to make that happen.
CASE BELCHER, owner of Four Barrel Fitness, said he sees a lot of brides who come in and want to drop pounds before their big day. While he’ll help them reach their goals, he also wants them to continue their progress after the wedding.
“Say you want to lose 20 pounds before your wedding, but then later you put on 25 pounds,” said Belcher, who is a Crossfit Level 3 coach and a USA Weightlifting Level 1 coach. “We get them through the door with the stuff they’re interested in. Then we say, “Let’s search for that more sustainable path now.”
Belcher advocates a three-tier system of fitness: nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. Nutrition is all about eating healthy food and fueling your training and life. Exercise includes cardio and strength training, with a buddy or coach. Lifestyle changes include getting enough sleep and drinking enough water.
Fad diets and cleanses are a no-no, Belcher said. “Studies, in fact, show that you tend to put on more weight than what you took off. You can lose weight quickly, but it probably needs to be monitored by a nutritionist or dietitian.”
Belcher recommends the “hand system” to measure food portions. Four meals a day should have meat or protein (beef, chicken, fish) the size of your palm; a carbohydrate (such as potatoes, rice or carrots) that can fit in a cupped hand; vegetables (such as a salad, asparagus or broccoli) should be the size of your fist; and fats (oils) should be the size of your thumb. “That way no matter where you’re at, you don’t have to have a food scale,” Belcher said. “You can just eye that stuff up.”
The “go-to thing that people have been told in terms of dieting is you’ve just got tp eat like hardly anything, but that’s totally not true because you don’t have the nutrients you need for training. You’re going to run into a wall, you’re not going to be motivated, you’re not going to have the energy you need to stay consistent. A lot of times when people start eating (utilizing the ‘hand system’), it feels like a lot of food to them. But they’re eating balanced now, they’re getting more fiber because they’re eating vegetables and things like that. They start to lose the fat and lose the pounds.”
For exercise, Belcher said a key component is accountability. Find a gym or place to exercise that’s convenient and where you’ll be able to stay consistent. He recommends either taking a buddy – a bridesmaid or groomsman, perhaps – who will plan to be there with you, holding you accountable. Hiring a coach is another way. You can make appointments, and you’ll be expected to be there.
Conditioning with cardio along with lifting weights at least three times a week is the best plan, he said. Compound moves, such as pushups, squats, deadlifts and pull-ups or ring rows work more than one muscle at a time.
“People who are looking for fat loss, strength training and putting on some lean tissue is going to help them keep that fat off, and essentially, it’s giving them a bigger engine to burn fat,” Belcher said. “More muscle burns fat, and it makes you a more functional human being. We want you to get those immediate results, but then also we want to set you up for what’s going to keep you healthiest for the long term. Putting on that muscular base is what keeps you strong later in life.”
Stress and lack of sleep make losing weight more difficult. “Sleep is when your body does most of its recovery,” Belcher said. “It also controls a lot of your hormonal processes. If you’re low on sleep, your body is going to have a lot higher cortisol. When stress levels are higher, you tend to hold more fat because your body is kind of in that flight mode.” Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates your metabolic and immune systems.
Drinking more water is another way to keep your body functioning properly, he said. “Most people are low-level dehydrated on a daily basis, and your body systems just don’t function as well if you’re not well-hydrated.”
Belcher recommends drinking 100 ounces per day.
Adhering to these three components will ensure weight will come off, and Belcher likes to see people start their training about six months before the big event to give enough time to make changes and see results.
“Do your research and find a professional,” Belcher said. “I’ve found that speed and degree of results are directly related to the skill of the coach I’m working with. Use your wedding as momentum to start healthy behaviors that could last a lifetime.”