The actor’s six-part YouTube series, “Best Shape of My Life,” which debuted in early November, documents his goal to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks. (At the time, Smith was also completing his memoir, Will, which is now a New York Times bestseller. )
Smith’s clean diet and rigorous exercise challenges seen on the show — including climbing 2,909 stairs of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world — prompted many viewers to take on their own health and fitness challenges.
But for some, the journey began in May 2021, when Smith took to Instagram to share his quarantine weight gain and his plans to cut extra pounds. In the post, he used the hashtag #bigwilliechallenge, which quickly went viral.
Sashea Lawson, a fitness blogger and mother of two young girls, has lost more than 35 pounds since taking on the #bigwilliechallenge, by cutting back on chocolate and easing her way back into consistent exercise.
She also revitalized her deep passion for running.
But Smith’s series also shows that optimal health takes a lot more than painstaking exercise and excellent discipline in food choices.
” Physical actions are very easy,” Smith’s personal trainer Aaron Ferguson tells WebMD. “It’s not easy, but it’s simple.”
Rather, says Ferguson, “it’s more the mental and emotional stuff that we have tied up around it.”
Dig Deeper Than Ever
Ferguson says that the “Best Shape of My Life” journey is more than just a mindset.
“You have to dedicate the time and the energy to ask yourself questions and see what the blocks are that have existed previously, so you can really start to transcend who you have been previously.”
” Most people aren’t ready to go there,” Ferguson states.
“The ones that are prepared to go there aren’t then prepared to have a look at, ‘What has made me feel emotional in that moment, that I want to shift my energy by eating food?’” he says.
These are different levels of consciousness Ferguson states.
“Unless we start to understand ourselves to a greater degree and really allow ourselves to go to those deeper vulnerable spaces, that’s when we can create a shift.”
Practicing moderation, while staying consistent, is also prioritized.
“Even time off, maintenance, that’s really important, too,” Ferguson says.
Know Your Limits
While Smith may have taken on two huge challenges — that is, writing a memoir and shedding pounds in a fairly short period of time — that doesn’t mean we should all do something similar.
“Somebody such as Will — who has been so successful in his work — he is a beast, and he can take these things of enormous magnitudes,” Ferguson said.
“You try to maintain it 100% every day, it can be challenging, especially if you have a full-time job, if you’ve got kids, whatever your life circumstances are.”
The main thing is to not go past your edge, and that edge will depend on the person.
“I’m always encouraging of people going 10% past where they’re at, but there are a lot of times when I’ve gone more than 10%, and I’ve suffered the consequences of that, too,” Ferguson says.
Anyone who has ever tried to get into a routine of exercise knows that cheat days can be tempting.
“It’s a tricky situation because there’s cheat days and then there’s people’s interpretation of a cheat day,” says Ferguson. It keeps them accountable for longer periods of time if [people] can be allowed to roam freely within a restricted area. But if they go ballistic, they can undo all the work of a whole week, then it defeats the purpose.”
“Here’s one thing I would say: it’s never a cheat day, it’s only ever a cheat meal,” he says. “Cheat meals should be sufficient, and I’m all for that; but again, it has to be within moderation.”
When it comes to diets, Ferguson says he doesn’t recommend a particular one.
I think it is up to each individual to decide what they want. The greater they stick to it, the greater the result that they’re going to get,” he explains, noting that for himself, he prefers a “balanced amount of macronutrients: carbs (40% to 50%), proteins (30%), and fats (20% to 30%).”
That said, “if you’re looking for body manipulation, it’s more about energy management, so that means consuming energy, expending energy.”
“If we’re looking at optimum performance, then it’s going to be a little tougher to go out of macronutrient balance, there are certain diets that I wouldn’t recommend in that situation,” he says.
New Year’s Weight Loss Resolutions
Did you resolve to lose weight this year? Ferguson thinks everyone should have this resolution:
“It’s super important to make sure your health is top of mind starting any new year. He says that we should all look at ways to improve upon the foundation we have built.” “The important questions are: What’s the next level? Where am I happy right now? What are my areas of greatest improvement? What is the first step that I can take today?”
But the biggest question of all, according to Ferguson, is to ask yourself: What’s gotten in the way of previous weight loss and health journeys?
” And, finally: Do I have a plan in place to ensure that similar situations don’t happen? What strategy do I have in place for dealing with challenges? Is there a plan to get back on track in the event of unforeseen circumstances? Do I have the commitment to follow through for a longer period ?”
Ferguson suggests practical ways to keep your weight loss goals in mind.
” While I would love to give people a clear answer about what they should do, it is not possible.” he said. “I think the most important thing everyone can do is include a weekly review of how things have been going. What was working? What can be improved? What actions can I implement now that will make an impact?”
Ferguson recommends anyone starting a weight loss journey to “have a plan,” suggesting it’s best to write it down. He suggests that you “implement that plan, then review it at the end of each week” and “revise that plan” if necessary.
” These 5 minutes are the most important thing you can do to improve your health and help you lose weight,” he said.
Health and Fitness ‘Hacks’?
“It’s important because the data that you collect doesn’t allow you to be manipulated, both by other people and by yourself, in terms of weight loss and fluid loss and all the different things that can occur in your system,” he says.
For instance, “a good solid amount of water, a minimum of 2.5 liters — and that’s from all sources — will satiate [people] in a way that they probably didn’t realize. A lot of the times, [people] are gravitating towards food is because their body is needing fluid.”
Sleep is incredibly important, too, says Ferguson.
“I think sleep has got to be your ultimate hack. In this day and age, we all tend to have that ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ attitude.”
But, reminds Ferguson, “you get your greatest adaptations when you’re asleep. Stopping that system will make you a liability .”
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