We generally have too broad of a focus when it comes to fat loss.
A great analogy is the ‘shotgun’ approach. Point in the general direction, pull the trigger, and hope we hit (part of) the target.
This is usually vastly ineffective as we tend to focus on too many items at once and we lose the forest for the trees, ultimately spreading ourselves too thin and creating self-sabotage. In other words…
We fail, hard.
Another way to put it is encapsulated perfectly in a wonderful metaphor I heard recently (although I admit I can’t quite recall where from, so I apologize if I am stealing this from someone):
“When you chase two rabbits, you will end up with none.”
Narrow your focus to that of a laser and pick one unfortunate bunny to tackle instead of frantically chasing both.
In keeping with the theme of this article, the goal here is to give you the most straight-forward and practical guide to losing the unwanted fat, that you can find available to you on the interwebz (internet) by keeping the focus small and precise.
Therefore, I will not give explanations as to the ‘why’ of how this stuff works.
That will be for another article and another time.
For now, my only concern is to provide you with a practical resource that promotes fat loss and optimal health over the long term through habit change.
In other words, if you are looking for a quick fix or want to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks, stop reading now. This is not for you and will only frustrate you as you question my credibility.
Save yourself the trouble and stop while you are ahead.
Quick fixes are not my priority here.
This is also not for the super data-oriented types that are obsessive about measuring everything. Again, that is another article for another time.
Instead, this is a guide that will focus on slowly and methodically incorporating habits that are present in healthy individuals in order to become one of those healthy peeps.
The best part?
It is extremely simple.
No fluff. No headaches.
Just straightforward steps to help you lose fat and get in shape.
So let’s get into the heart of it, shall we?
*NOTE: If you are like me and get distracted easily or just don’t really like to read, I have only the ‘Need-to-know’ in bullet format at the bottom of the page. For the rest of you that enjoy a more detailed explanation, read on.
- First: An introduction into what really matters
When it comes to fat loss, there is one thing that will account for arguably 80-90% of your final results.
And that one thing is (drumroll please)…
Now I know a lot of you have already turned up your lip in disgust as this is not the most sexy or glamorous way of getting swim-suit ready.
In fact, Im willing to bet that the thing that gets you pumped up and ready to shed the extra fat is the idea of becoming the gym warrior.
You are motivated to get up early, drive to the gym and pound out a fat-burning, sweat-session that will have you lookin’ good and feelin’ good in no time right?
However, your nutrition, or how you eat, is the most efficient and effective way to torch the fat, and therefore, it will be the focus.
In fact, Tom Venuto wrote a great piece called the hierarchy of fat loss that goes into better detail about the various pieces of nutrition and how they work to promote fat loss.
He actually doesn’t even touch exercise in this article. Check it out for yourself.
Now don’t get me wrong, exercise is critical to overall health and I highly encourage it, but again, that is not the focus of this article.
This is purely meant to establish those nutritional habits that will get you on track to optimizing health and burning excess fat.
A nice side effect is that this will certainly compliment any good exercise routine once you decide to take that plunge.
But, again, one rabbit for now.
Ill address the exercise bunny soon enough.
- Second, the process
So we have established that focusing on nutrition is our primary goal.
Now, how do we go about approaching this?
By making it as simple as we possibly can.
Research has shown that willpower is a limited resource, and that it can be used up by the various stressors that we experience daily.
Kids, your boss, house chores, family issues, health issues, dog peed the bed, ran over a squirrel, or whatever. The list goes on infinitely.
So as you go about your business throughout the day, there are various sources that drain you of your willpower reserves, so that when you try to simultaneously incorporate multiple new routines and habits all at once, you are already so drained by your daily activities that you eventually give up on your new endeavors.
This, I believe, is the reason why so many people fail at implementing a new fitness routine.
Working out on a daily basis, adding new foods into your diet, eliminating others and, ultimately, overhauling a large part of your daily routine, takes a lot of willpower.
Like, A LOT…
And adding this on top of our, already stressful lives, sets us up perfectly for failure.
So how is one to succeed?
Easy. We save as much willpower as we possibly can in reserve by only changing/incorporating ONE new thing at a time.
And it has to be easy.
The easier it is, the less willpower necessary to implement the habit and the more likely it is that it will become a habit.
Once we internalize a habit as part of our daily routine, it will take almost zero willpower.
At that time, we add another habit.
And then another. And then another.
We continue doing this until, one day, we look in the mirror and wonder where all the pounds went.
I thought so. Let’s move on, shall we?
Below are the habits that we will be incorporating.
Keep in mind you will only be working on one at a time, so pick the ONE that you believe will be almost too easy and crush it.
This will build up momentum and set you up for success from the get-go:
Write down what you eat each day in a journal.
You can either do this with pen and paper (old school), or you can use one of the various food tracking apps that are available nowadays.
Note: Keep in mind that if you use the apps, you will most likely be prompted to input the quantity of what you are eating. For some, this can be overwhelming, and for others it will be rewarding.
The trick here is to know yourself and pick the one that you will get the most benefit from and the least stress.
-Protein at every meal
Ladies – 1 serving = the width and area of the palm of your hand (not including the fingers
Gents – 1 serving = 2 palms (width + area)
Note: These are rough measurements. Many people, females especially, tend to over-estimate the amount of protein they are getting and, because of that, actually do not get enough.
If you do track your food on the app, aim for about 0.75 grams per pound of body weight a day (keep in mind this is very general, however most people will see success at this level).
*Other opinions may say otherwise, however this has worked for me and my clients consistently. Again, keep in mind that this is a very general recommendation. For my clients, my decision on how much protein they will need is going to vary based on a lot of factors. HOWEVER, my current recommended amount of 0.75g will work for these purposes.
If you have trouble getting enough protein throughout the day, or just want some ideas on how to get, check out this article by Mike Vacanti. He gets a little more detailed than I would like to go in this article but the content of what he presents is nothing short of great information.
He even gives the protein sources a grade based on factors such as cost, taste, convenience and a couple other markers. Great resource.
-Plan your meals for the week
Write it out and stick it to the fridge. Don’t get fancy; it should take no more than 15-20 minutes.
The reason I say this is, again, because I want this to be overly easy so as not to interrupt your daily routine.
If you find yourself stressing, you are probably making it too complicated.
Another indication that you are getting too fancy is if the recipe you are trying to make is more than 5-7 total ingredients.
Follow the KISS rule… Keep it simple, stupid.
Obviously it will take time shopping for and preparing your meals, which is why I suggest batching them together.
Seriously, give it a try. It will save you so much time and stress throughout the week.
Just pick a day that you have relatively free (or maybe a night when the kids are down for you parents out there) schedule and have at it.
This one is a game-changer.
-Write down and visualize your goals daily
Yes. Write it down daily.
Who do you think hits their goal? The guy who writes his goal down once on New Year’s like everyone else, or the guy who writes down his goal every day when he gets out of bed?
-Eliminate processed food from Breakfast
Noting with ingredients you can’t pronounce.
That means no pop-tarts, toaster strudels or any boxed cereal. I don’t care if it is ‘gluten free’ or ‘organic.’
DON’T DO IT.
-Eliminate processed food from lunch
-Eliminate processed food from Dinner
(See above. Again)
–1 serving of green/leafy veggies with breakfast
1 serving = area of hand stretched flat (fingers included)
-1 serving of green/leafy veggies with lunch
-1 serving of green/leafy veggies with dinner
-Pack a healthy snack for when you get hungry
A small serving of mixed nuts and/or a protein source will fit well here.
These include foods such as regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.
1 serving = 1 cupped hand. Limit to 1 serving per meal
*Preferably no more than 2 servings a day
1 serving = approximately 1 thumb’s worth; from tip of the nail to the start of the palm.
These can add up quick in calories. That is not to say to avoid fats.
In fact, the whole ‘fats are bad’ mentality should have died in the 90’s. You need fats to survive and there are many studies that actually link high fat diets to leaner individuals.
The goal here is simply keep it under control.
-Take 8-10 grams of fish oil
There are so many benefits here. Just trust me.
It’s Good stuff.
-Carry a 16-24 oz H20 Bottle Daily
Continually sip from it and refill it throughout the day.
We are over 70% water. In order for our body to function optimally we need plenty of water.
Think of this as oil for a car. It lubricates all of the moving joints and pieces so that the car can function without a hitch.
Water works in a similar fashion for your body, ensuring that all of the normal processes, including your metabolism (which drives fat loss), run smoothly.
‘nuff said here.
And there you have it.
Pick one of these habits at a time and work on it until it is internalized.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
I usually like to spend 1-2 weeks on one habit. Any shorter than 1 week usually does not create a lasting habit, and any longer than 2 usually gets boring.
That being said, boring can be effective. I have had people that I have worked with spend an entire month on one habit.
Keep in mind that if you keep that pace up, by the end of the year that is still 12 new habits that will do nothing but awesome things for your waistline.
The key is consistency.
Just keep the big picture in mind and your hard work will reward you greatly.
I’ll leave you with these parting words:
Willpower is a finite resource. If you believe that you will just force yourself into change by doing too much at once, it will only be a matter of time before you burn out.
Harness your motivation and focus it on a singular task at a time. Build routines and habits that set you up for success, as it is our routines, not our willpower, that ultimately determine whether we succeed or fail.
Ensure your routines are setting you up for success by eliminating the willpower factor from the equation and instilling good, productive, fat burning habits into your lifestyle.
Good Luck and Live Optimally!
P.S. Accountability is a game changer. So what I would like for you to do now, is to comment below (or email me) telling what your first habit will be and share this with someone that would benefit from this program. For easy share-ability, there are some pretty sweet buttons on the left side of your screen. Go ahead and click away.
The Need to Know
-Understand that 80-90% of your results come from your nutrition habits, so put your focus into refining this area of your life.
-Narrow your focus to a singular goal or habit that is painfully easy to accomplish. For ones to pick from, choose from the list I have included (or email me for suggestions).
-Spend 1-2 weeks, maybe even a month, to internalize ONE habit at a time (see the above list). Attack it with fervor until you have mastered it. Once you have accomplished that, only then, move on to another.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
-Simplify, simplify, simplify. If the habit you are working on feels too easy you are on the right track. If it is too hard, maybe you might want to rethink your decision and start again with a different habit. Trial and error is part of the learning process. Take a page from Thomas Edison here and find the one that works instead of focusing on the 10,000 reasons why it did not. Remember, the goal is permanent habit change, one at a time.