When you want to lose weight, it can be hard to not fall into a yoyo pattern. From strong periods of success to complete losses of motivation, your mental health plays a crucial part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
That’s something Chris Cannon knows only too much.
The now-founder of gym and fitness movement Life Hub, Cannon couldn’t have had a harder road to where he is today: from the traumatic news of his sister in-law taking her own life to a decade-long struggle with his weight.
“I wasn’t always a runner, a fitness enthusiast, or even healthy for that matter; actually, I would avoid activity and devour a large pizza at every opportunity instead. The struggle was real and it was getting the better of me,” Christ told GQ.
Yet with the determination to change his mindset and take on the health and fitness industry whole-heartedly, Cannon has completely turned his lifestyle upside down and is now an an ambassador for this year’s Run Melbourne presented by lululemon.
“Being overweight had become a prison of my own making. But one day I decided that was it. The burden weighed me down so much so that not becoming active or eating better had no longer been an option,” explains Chris. “There was more pain in staying the same than in taking action. I knew that whipping my body and mind into shape would bring me the happiness I longed for.”
We sat down with Chris to find out more about how he did it.
“There are many training crazes, fads and distractions today that don’t offer hope for long-term success. I’ve seen low fat, high fat, low carb, keto, and intermittent fasting among other restrictive dietary guidelines that come and go,” says Chris. “I don’t believe in only weights, HIIT or trudging countless kilometres on a treadmill that sends you practically and metaphorically nowhere. I’m not saying that these don’t have benefits for some, but I like to take a balanced approach that is maintainable and, most importantly, enjoyable.”
In order to achieve balance and sustainability in his new lifestyle, Cannon focus on optimal living: a focus on the positive feelings that come along with a lean, strong and sexy functional body.
“I’m driven by a synergistic approach and believe our greatest success lies in the intersection of physique (body composition), physiology (health and movement) and performance (mental and physical). True and sustainable progress is made when all 3 factors are universally optimised to ensure we live a life without sacrifice.”
“The first thing to note is that weight loss really is about a calorie deficit, this means we need to burn more calories than we digest.
Calories Burned > Calories Digested = Weight Loss
“Many have taken this simple science too far with overly restrictive diets that lead to binging, weight gain and frustration. So many people have started diets that they aren’t able to maintain only to find themselves down a block of chocolate in seconds.
“The body is an amazing ecosystem that will always seek homeostasis (balance). If you restrict calories, overdo food groups or deprive the body of nutrients, the body will feel threatened or unbalanced leading to lowered willpower and energy that leaves you making poor decisions or decreasing performance.
“That said, when it comes to ongoing sustainable weight loss, I often suggest a 20% reduction in calories. Keep in mind that no diet lasts forever, I generally recommend a 6 to 1 ratio, this means either 6 days to 1 day or 6 weeks to 1 week where you’ll spend time with a calorie reduction (6) but allowing a small period of time (1) to mitigate the down regulation of metabolic rate, thyroid and will power.”
When it comes to nutrition Cannon focuses on a balanced diet, one with an almost equal distribution of protein, carbs and fats.
“Protein is essential to build and maintain lean muscle as well as enzymes, hormones and other chemicals in the body while having the added benefit of keeping you fuller for longer.
“Healthy fats provide energy and support cell growth while allowing optimal absorption of vital nutrients. Carbohydrates improve performance not just physically but mentally as well, they are the body’s preferred energy source and provide us fuel for our sweaty endeavours.”
Daily Food Sample
Breakfast – Scrambled Eggs
3 Whole Free Range Eggs
100g Low Fat Cottage Cheese
Chopped Capsicum, Zucchini, Red Onion, Mushrooms (75-100g each)
Cooked in 2ml of Olive Oil
240g Roast Pumpkin (raw weight)
Mid Morning Snack – Yogurt and Berries
200g Chobani 0.5% Fat Free Unflavoured Yogurt
150g Mixed Berries (either frozen or fresh)
10g Granulated Peanuts
Some cinnamon sprinkled on top
Lunch – Lean Meat, Rice and Vegetables
180g Lean Meat 120g Brown Rice (cooked weight)
As much vegetables as I feel like
Mid Afternoon Smoothie
35g Protein Powder
1 Medium-Large banana
10g Chia Seeds 200ml
Almond/Coconut milk (unsweetened)
10g Raw Cacao
180g Lean Meat (raw weight)
140g Sweet Potato (raw weight)
Once again, as much vegetables as I feel like
Top Weight Loss Tips
1. Avoid fats from meats and dairy.
“Often the qualities of the produce we purchase from local supermarkets don’t have the nutrients in the fats that once existed, and without the nutrients I don’t believe the calories are really worth it. Instead, I choose to add healthy fat sources from quality oils, nuts, seeds, cacao, fatty fish or avocados.”
2. Eat an abundance of non-starchy vegetables.
“When you are looking for non-starchy vegetables, consider vegetables that you could eat raw. You don’t have to eat them raw but I don’t think many would eat a pumpkin or potato raw – these contain starch and starchy vegetables generally need to be heated to be eaten.”
3. Don’t fear carbohydrates.
“Carbohydrates may have a bad reputation but it’s about an energy balance overall. If you overeat any food group, whether it be protein, fats or carbs, you will gain weight. It’s all about moderation and sustainability.”
When it comes to training, Cannon also focuses on a balanced approach.
“In today’s society we see burnout happen all too often, so many join a HIIT program or 45 minute circuit and do it most days. At first they are feeling invincible, but soon enough the stress of continual high intensity workouts leaves them feeling wired and tired.
“I use a combination of weight training to build lean muscle and increase strength, metabolic conditioning (HIIT) to increase power, torch fat and increase anaerobic capacity, and 8-15km runs for aerobic capacity, calorie burn but most importantly the runners high.”
Weight Training: Break it up with Upper Body, Lower Body and Full Body days.
“Full Body workouts allow you really fire up the metabolism and get the most done in the least time. Within the workout I like to move from upper to lower body through the workout allowing optimal blood flow while mitigating fatigue so you can accomplish more within the session.
“Lower and Upper Body workouts help build more strength in more specific areas, this allows more targeted progressive overload to the muscle groups forcing them to adapt and become stronger.”
Full Body Example
Barbell Deadlift: 3 Sets of 6-8 Reps with 3 “Warm Up” Sets
Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Barbell Bent Over Row: 4 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Dumbbell Forward Lunge: 3 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Dumbbell Overhead Press: 3 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Bicycle Abs: 3 Sets of 20-24 Reps (alternating sides)
Lower Body Example
Barbell Squat: 4 Sets of 6-8 Reps with 2 “Warm Up” Sets
Barbell Good Morning: 3-4 Sets of 10 Reps
Kettlebell Sumo Goblet Squat: 3 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Barbell Reverse Lunge: 3 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Kettlebell Cossack Squat: 3 Sets of 20-24 Reps (alternating sides)
Upper Body Example Barbell
Incline Press: 3 Sets of 6-8 Reps with 2 “Warm Up” Sets
Bodyweight Pull Up: 4 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Bodyweight Dip: 3 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise: 3 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Pulley Rope Triceps Extension: 3 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Dumbbell Supinating Bicep Curl: 3 Sets of 20-24 Reps (alternating sides)
When it comes to Metabolic Conditioning, Cannon uses group training classes to push the limits with the support of other people.
“A great circuit will include around 4-8 full body exercises sequenced at a maximum effort with a short recovery time. It is high intensity, burns fat and sends the metabolism into overdrive long after the workout is done. We are already over-stimulated by the amount of notifications, emails and stresses of daily life, and Metabolic Conditioning can further exacerbate this problem. I suggest completing no more than 4 of this style of training per week, but ideally 3.”
6 Exercises for maximum effort for 30 seconds with 15 seconds recovery as you move through exercises in a circuit.
Complete 5 times with approx. 60-90 seconds rest at the end of each complete circuit.
Battlerope Double Whips
TRX Squat Jumps
Chest To Floor Burpees
Cannon was taken aback when he was asked to become a Run Melbourne ambassador, knowing the fact that he certainly isn’t class himself as a ‘runner.’
“I started with the challenge of running 5km and built on that each week. Now I run around 8km most Wednesdays with The Run Tribe around The Tan and around 14-15km on Sunday down the beach in beautiful Bayside. “At first it was a little tough, but I found it got better with each run. Now I look forward to it, there is something liberating about running. It’s so accessible and, when you live in Australia where we have so much amazing scenery to explore, it’s an absolute pleasure.”
Cannon suggests signing up to a running event, like Run Melbourne, to increase motivation. That way you can set a target you want to work towards.
“Start with the goal of reaching 5km jogging without stopping and continue to add 500m-1km each 1-2 weeks until you build to around 8-10km. Once you can continually run a distance you are happy with, you can start to build the pace. Strava is a great app that you can download on your phone to track your distance and let you know each 500m distances that you’ve covered.”
A focus on increasing mental fitness as much as physical fitness is one of the most important life lessons that Cannon stands by. Here, he shares three tips that will have you moving in the right direction.
Tip 1. Set Goals
“Most people say they are going to start a training program or a diet, but these are activities. Instead, set goals that are compelling. For those who don’t exercise, how many would get super excited to hit the gym 5 times a week? For those who love fried chicken, how many are salivating when thinking of switching to grilled chicken breast and vegetables? Starting a new program is an activity. Instead, create a clear goal and let the activities be part of the plan. “
Tip 2. Know Why
“Once we’ve established a goal, what’s even more important is to know is why we want to achieve it – why it’s important to us. Want to lose weight? Well you’re actually saying what you don’t want; this creates negative emotion around the goal. We really want the goal to be compelling or inspiring enough to create action. It’s most important to know the intent; it will allow you to create enough feeling or emotion that will see you take action.”
Tip 3. Stop waiting for motivation
“Sigmund Freud, the creator of Psychoanalysis, coined the psychoanalytical term called the “Pleasure Principle.” It’s the concept that in life we instinctively seek pleasure or avoid pain in order to satisfy biological and physiological needs. Understanding that through the journey there will be times you will need to encounter short-term pain in order for you to achieve long-term pleasure.
“There will be days you have to say “no” to certain foods or skip the snooze button to get to a workout. It’s important to know that the pain of delaying short-term gratification of those hot chips or that cozy bed will have positive flow-on effects in the long-term.”
Chris Cannon is an ambassador for Run Melbourne presented by lululemon, taking place on Sunday 29 July. The event includes a Runners World Half-Marathon, a Bulk Nutrients 10km run and a 5km run. To register or for more information on the event, visit www.runmelbourne.com.au
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