First, a brief lesson: When you want to lose body fat, you need to regularly eat less calories than your body uses. Put another way, your body needs to burn more calories than you eat. This is called a calorie deficit.
To make this process less stressful on your body and your mind AND
To keep that calorie deficit long enough to see fat loss AND
To maintain that fat loss over time,
The approach needs to be as painless as possible.
I know you’ve heard it before- small changes lead to sustainable results. And it’s true.
Why does this approach get rejected?
It is not fast. It is not sexy. You cannot sell it.
Consider alternative methods that encourage drastic changes and promise fast results.
You may lose weight quickly at first, and that is exciting and motivating.
But you may be eating foods that you don’t normally eat or enjoy; feel deprived and constantly fight cravings; are incredibly irritable and miserable; turn down social invitations; and hate everyone you see who is eating nachos and drinking margaritas. And now you know I’m speaking from experience. ;)
You know what happens next, right? There is no way we can continue living that way. We eventually give in and give up. We feel disappointed, defeated and hopeless. And likely continue in our old ways until the next shiny promise catches our eye.
You probably know or have experienced that already and you just want to know what TO DO then. You’ve likely heard this too. But now it's time to take action!
10 Steps Towards Fat Loss
1. Eat what you like, but eat less. Every day. (or, more often than not.)
2. When you need a break, eat a little more. Focus on maintenance. Then back to #1.
3. Track your consistency. This is the most underrated piece of advice. We all THINK that we are doing the right thing most of the time, but when you start tracking you'll quickly see that you are not being as consistent as you thought.
We will not make progress if we are not consistent over a long period of time.
4. Track your progress. You can use the scale. But consider body measurements and pictures, they can often be much more objective and less emotionally taxing.
5. Keep your expectations in check. Accept that sustainable fat loss is a slow process. It sucks, I know. But when you adopt that mindset shift, you will be in much less agony waiting for results.
And if you’re not in it for the long haul, then what’s the point?
6. Feeling a little hungry or “empty” is normal. If you are ravenous by the end of the evening, you are not eating enough. Try incorporating more lower calorie, but nutritious foods throughout the day. Like lean protein, fruits and veggies. Get creative, especially if you are a more picky eater.
7. Do not avoid fats and carbs. They give us energy, regulate hormones and are probably the most satisfying and enjoyable foods we eat!
Strive to eat a balanced diet > ALL the food groups. You will optimize the way your entire body functions!
8. Evaluate your method every month or so. If you’ve truly been consistent, and you aren’t seeing progress, you probably need to tweak something.
9. Train your muscles! When you cut calories, you will lose fat AND muscle. Not good. Strength training will sustain your muscle and give shape and definition to your body. Which is probably what we ultimately want, right? Try to get in 2 days a week. But 1 is better than none.
10. What about cardio? Use cardio exercise to improve your heart muscle, not for burning calories. Excessive or high intensity cardio will put extra stress on your body and demand more calories to keep up with your expended energy (aka increased hunger). There is a place for that type of training. But for now, stick to walking or power walking when you can get it in.
This approach is simple. Simple does not mean easy. Even small changes can feel hard, especially until you build new habits.
But it is possible. And you can do it.
You can and will ebb and flow through this process. Just don't give up.
You will need to say no sometimes.
You will need to take responsibility for your choices.
You also need to enjoy your life.
Choose your priorities and create a lifestyle that feels right for you and one that you can be proud of.