When it comes to fat loss, most people fall into the trap of desperation and wanting a quick fix. They jump from one “miracle weight loss method” to the next or go on and off fad diets indefinitely. As a result, their monthly weight bounces up and down – which is not healthy! Even worse, their average weight climbs steadily up each year. However, while this is the norm, you can be the exception to the norm. There is a much better, long-lasting and healthier path to getting and staying at your ideal body composition.
The Most Important Habit
1. Forget about short-term drastic changes and start thinking about gradual, but permanent changes. To do this, pick one habit, stay with it until it is normal, and then move onto the next one. Overtime you will be effortlessly living a lean, healthy lifestyle.
When it comes to your body composition, nutrition has by far the biggest impact (as a trainer, I hate to admit it, but it’s true). Don’t seek a training solution to a nutrition problem.
3. Eat to feel good after your meal
4. Don’t let yourself get too hungry
5. Learn to question your hunger – it can be physiological or psychological. Click HERE to learn more.
6. Address emotional eating. (To find out how you can conquer emotional eating, click HERE)
7. Eat slowly
8. When you eat, actually focus on tasting, chewing and enjoying your food
9. Avoid meal distractions (e.g. TV)
10. Stop when you are satisfied, not stuffed
11. When you have an occasional treat, make it a good one worthy of the calories. Enjoy slowly and mindfully. Savor each bite without guilt.
12. Have some quality protein with most meals
13. Emphasize foods high in fiber (e.g. vegetables, beans, whole grains, some fruits such as apples and berries) as tolerated
14. Avoid foods/meals that leave you starving shortly after eating
15. Choose healthy fats, but eat sparingly – the calories still add up
16. Cook your own food – you need to be in control
17. Set aside time in your week for: buying healthy food, washing & chopping vegetables, cooking, meal prep and of course washing dishes – make it part of your new, healthy lifestyle
Once you have adopted some high-impact nutrition habits (you don’t have to wait until you all of the above are habits – just get a few big ones), you can start making training changes. Effective training habits can help increase your metabolism, increase strength, build lean muscle all of which makes getting and staying at your ideal weight much easier – if you are will to work hard when hit the gym.
19. Do strength training 2-4 times per week (3 is usually better than 2 and 4 better than 3 but consistency is key so don't try to commit to too much too soon)
20. Embrace the big, hard exercises
21. Progressively add weight to your lifts so you get progressively stronger
22. Do a short (e.g. 10-15 minute) intense interval training 2-3 times per week. Hill sprints is one great option.
23. Use a good program to maximize your efforts. Here are 6 Program Design Tips for Faster Fat Loss and here are 6 More Program Design Tips for Faster Fat Loss. For complete, done-for-you, effective fat loss programs, check out my book Athletic Training for Fat Loss.
24. Prioritize sleep – get as much sleep as you reasonably can – it works for athletes and movie stars and it will work for you
25. Use effect sleep aids to improve sleep quality
26. Practice a stress-reducing technique at least once per day. Lying on a foam roller is one great technique. For more stress reduction ideas, click HERE.
27. Gradually reduce non-essentials to make time for what is really important in life (this includes taking care of yourself). For more info, check out Greg McKeown’s book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
28. If you have a desk job, get a standing desk to minimize sitting
29. Go for a walk most days per week – especially days you don’t train
30. If you have a desk job, choose an active leisure pursuit (e.g. recreation activities, fun sports, playing outside with your kids, dancing, etc.)
What if I don’t get to my ideal weight?
One thing you have to realize is that your body’s ideal weight may be different than your mind’s idea of your ideal weight. Your true, ideal weight is likely not the same as when you were in middle school, not the same as that anorexic model or the starving movie star with skinny genes. While some people are obese because of their poor eating and lifestyle habits, others have a higher than average body composition than most people despite having excellent nutrition, training and lifestyle habits. Focus on the habits and let your body find what is right for you. Resist the urge to take desperate measures. Extreme weight loss measures such as drugs, surgery, crash diets and cleanses can cause health problems, healthy habits will help not only your waistline, but also more importantly – your health and quality of life.