Fat loss is a daunting task. One riddled with myriad opinions, theories, and the latest and greatest programs, plans, and magic bullets. I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and believe that most people know what to do. Deep down you know how to go about losing body fat—it may be simple, but it’s not easy.
Increase exercise, decrease food intake by eliminating sugars and other unwanted calories, nix the fast food, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, focus on protein, and don’t forget about healthy fats. Oh, and drink plenty of water. You’ve seen this advice countless times and it all makes logical sense, but like I said—it is not easy. Sometimes the simplest advice is the toughest, and that’s where motivation, discipline, and self-belief come in.
Below are a few key ingredients to make sure you’re adding into your fat loss mindset. It’s easy to have all of the tools in place, but effective, optimal execution is really the key to long-term success. Read the checklist and make fat loss a reality.
1. Have a Vision
To get the absolute best results you must have a vision. Not only that, but a vision that is detailed, definable, and attainable. It’s not enough to simply have the desire to lose fat. How much do you want to lose overall? How long will you give yourself to accomplish this? What are the first few steps?
You’ll also want to be realistic. Losing 20 pounds in one month isn’t exactly the best goal to set. Instead, break it down into smaller, attainable goals like losing one pound per week or five pounds per month. This way you’ll quietly start adding up these smaller victories into bigger ones and be closer to your ultimate, long-term goal.
2. Don’t Put Training on the Backburner
So many focus solely on diet when it comes to fat loss. They believe that food is the only factor to consider and training is a distant second. This is just downright wrong. Yes, your eating habits are important, but training is like the performance of your engine that burns the fuel. Without optimal performance you’ll be shortchanging your rate of success.
Leave no stone unturned regarding your training. Are you utilizing your gym time the best way possible? Are you training with correct form, technique, and function? Are you even performing the right type of workouts that are pointed directly at your goal? Make training your ally in the fight against fat.
3. Practice Awareness
Your eating habits are definitely a huge part of the fat loss equation. You most likely have a plan that you follow, and try your best to follow it to a T. But so many will blindly attempt to follow a plan without any real know-how or knowledge of its inner workings.
Practice awareness of your habits. Be present, open your eyes to what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Be aware of meal timing, what you’re snacking on between meals, and how much is on your plate. Just going through the motions with any plan will have you subconsciously taking the easy road and quickly getting derailed.
4. Adopt the New Lifestyle
Another common mindset is that this while diet/fat loss thing is only temporary. Maybe it’s for a wedding, swimsuit season, or a New Year’s resolution until spring break. Whatever the reasoning, many individuals see it as a means to an end with no follow-up plan after the big event.
The best approach is to follow a sensible eating and training plan that you can live with. Think of it as adopting a new, healthier lifestyle. Now, when I say sensible plan I mean something that isn’t too extreme. Extreme plans are unrealistic in the long term. Eliminating certain healthy foods, crazy fasting, or eating only a select few types of foods isn’t the balanced approach.
5. Use a Paradigm Shift for Food
On the coattails of the above point, you’ll also need a shift your mindset about how to view food in the first place. If your plan has you eating on a schedule, and mostly healthy during the week, you may have a chance to have a cheat meal or two during the weekend. In that respect, think of your healthy meals as fuel for training and any other activity you partake. If you view food as pleasure, you’ll quickly end up eating more foods you can indulge in and sabotage your efforts as a result.
Look to that cheat day as a time to indulge and enjoy some “bad food.” This will not only keep you on track, but will also make you look more forward to those “bad foods” and enjoy them that much more. In other words, if you were to have those cheat meals all the time, they wouldn’t be so special to begin with.
6. Keep Records
What did you eat last week? What about yesterday? And this morning? It’s tough to keep track of everything in your head if you’re just winging it. A house needs a plan when it’s being built, so why not you, too?
Keep a journal detailing your eating as well as your training habits. Actually seeing your plan in motion will not only give you immense motivation, but it will also enable you to look back, adjust where necessary, and then move forward with an improved plan. But don’t let that journal be the end of you. If you stagnate for a week or two, or feel like you’re moving one step back, don’t fret. Simply stick with the plan, look to see for any trends, and be patient before changing too much.
7. By All Means, Cheat
As stated before, you can’t go through this without cheating. No, I don’t mean that in a bad way. You see, if you find yourself on a strict diet plan which possibly eliminates some of your favorite foods, you will be hard pressed to stay on that plan indefinitely. You need small, scheduled breaks.
Once or twice per week for a meal or two have whatever you want. No, don’t go on a weekend binge and slay every buffet in town, simply schedule a day where you have a big breakfast of choice and/or a decadent dinner. This will help you stay sane and give you something to look forward to every seven days or so.
8. Get Up More than You Fall Down
An old Japanese proverb I like to keep in mind is: Fall down seven times, get up eight. It embodies a sense of personal will and discipline. The fact is that you’re not a machine. You can’t stay on a plan and reap significant rewards each and every week. At times you will fail, you will get off track, and you will want to quit.
Falling off the proverbial wagon shouldn’t make you want to throw in the towel and call it a day, nor should it make you want to keep restarting the whole process every week. If you eat poorly one day or miss a workout or two, simply pick up where you left off and get back at it.
9. Reach Out
Going it alone is noble and all, but humans work best in community settings. Think of the last time you performed some sort of labor-intensive task. Was it more fun with a group of your buddies? Did it feel a little less like work and more like an experience? Now think of the same task when it’s done alone. Feels more like work, right?
Cultivating a community is universal. You should create some bonds with others while training, dieting, and in life in general. Others will help you up when you’re down, provide great feedback, and will be there when things get a bit crazy. Have a community, no matter how small, and be that much more successful in the process.
10. Get Through the Wall
Finally, have some faith—faith in that your plan will work. You will face obstacles, setbacks, and discover new hills to climb, but always believe in what you’re doing. Believe that it will work and that you will arrive at your destination.
Your journey will actually get easier. You will eventually smash through that wall and build momentum which will make everything just click. The trick is to wait it out and move forward no matter what. Then you’ll see that you’ve adopted this new lifestyle little by little.
Fat Loss Is a Marathon
Following a fat loss plan may be simple, but it isn’t easy. I hope you take a few of the above tips to heart and believe that you’ll succeed. You already know what to do; you may just need a helping hand to get there. Remember, this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon so be in it for the long haul and enjoy the ride.