Most people want to lose fat. Few, however actually succeed in doing it. Countless people go to the gym and watch what they eat yet fail to get rid of unwanted fat. If you are struggling to lose fat, here are 8 things that might be stopping you.
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1. You are trying to be normal
Being lean is not normal. In the United States, almost 70% of the population is overweight or obese. In my country – the great white North of Canada almost 62% of guys and 46% of ladies are overweight or obese. The typical North American lifestyle will make you fat. If you eat and live like a normal North American, you will gain weight. If you want to be lean, you can’t be normal.
Now, please understand that there are many people who take this concept way too far. I’m not advocating obsessive, compulsive exercise. I would also encourage everyone with today’s restrictive nutrition fads to guard against orthorexia – an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. It is okay to have the occasional treat (not the daily indulgence). All I’m saying is that if you want to be lean, you will have to do things differently than the overweight norm. Effective fat loss habits need to be your new normal.
2. You are doing the wrong type of exercise
Most people trying to lose fat make the mistake of just doing endurance training. They reason that since endurance athletes are lean, endurance training will make them lean. They forget that endurance athletes are lean because you need to have a lean body type to be a great endurance athlete. Now, endurance training is way better than sitting on the couch. However, if all you do is endurance training, you will stop losing fat. Too much endurance training wastes away fat-burning muscle. It also teaches you to be fuel-efficient. This is great if you want to run a marathon, but it sucks if you want to lose fat. Make sure you have add some strength, speed & power training in your program.
3. You’re not training enough
It is very hard to get lean training 2-3 days a week. Dr. John Berardi and the folks at Precision Nutrition recommend 4-5 hours of intense exercise a week to get lean. Based on my personal and professional experience, I would agree. I understand for some people, this is not possible. Do the best you can to carve out as much time as you reasonably can. Then, see the next point.
4. You are picking the wrong exercises
We are all busy and finding time to training is a challenge. However, regardless of the time you can train, most people can get way better results than they currently do by simply training more efficiently. One of the biggest secrets to effective, efficient training is pick amazing exercises. Every time I’m in a fitness facility I see well-meaning people working really hard on really easy exercises. Embrace the big, hard, uncomfortable exercises and watch the fat melt off your body!
5. You are sedentary outside of your training
Most people are sedentary. Even most fitness people are almost completely sedentary outside of the gym. Don’t make this mistake. Look for active things to do for fun and leisure.
6. You are missing the big nutritional picture
Fat loss boils down to this: you have to be burning more calories than you intake. With countless fat loss diets out there (that are all trying to be different than the others) people can easily lose focus on this big picture. It doesn’t matter if you eat all, clean, organic, gluten-free, low glycemic, low carb, low fat, fasting intermittently, vegan or paleo. Until you are consuming less calories than you burn, you will not lose fat.
Every successful diet does 2 things – eat less junk (which brings your calorie total down) and eat more vegetables. Most also include a good amount of lean protein. That folks is the big nutrition picture for fat loss!
7. You have wrecked your metabolism
Your body is built for survival. If you starve your body, it will learn to do with less. If you have done a lot of extreme dieting, you may find yourself with an extremely low metabolism. This makes getting into a caloric deficit, very difficult. If this is you, put your fat loss goals on hold and work to build your metabolism back up. To do this, do some intense weight training and try to build some lean muscle. Then, very, very gradually, increase your calorie intake. Once you have your metabolism revved up you can slip into a caloric deficit and shed some more fat.
8. You are looking for an easy way out
If getting lean was easy, everyone would be lean. While it may be easy for certain folks, most of us will have to work hard to get and stay lean. Many people waste their valuable time, energy and money falling for quick-fix gimmicks that over-promise (i.e. flat out lie) and under-deliver (i.e. fail miserably).
Instead of falling for yet another gimmick, roll up your sleeves and embrace the challenge of getting lean. In doing so, you will get far more than just a lean, healthy body. You will become stronger as a person and enjoy the deep-down satisfaction that comes from reaching a very challenging goal.
If you want a complete guide to sculpting a lean, athletic body, check out my book Athletic Training for Fat Loss.
How about you? What have you found effective or ineffective for fat loss? I invite you to share you comments and questions in the comments section below or on my Facebook Page.