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28 Oct

Fat Loss Rant – Part 1

Two things that drive me nuts:

1. Doing something because of ritual or “this is how it’s always been done” without thought or examination.
2. Having a goal but actions that don’t align with it.

Ok now I’m going to try and relate a bunch of random fat loss stuff to those points. Sorry.

Disclaimer: As a trainer I can give nutritional recommendations, but the below is not meant to represent any treatment for disease. Consult your doc, yo. Also remember that much of this is my opinion from my own experience and experience with clients. Other paths may lead to the same destination. This is a “rant” type post so please don’t be offended by its directness.

1. You need to have a “why.” Not a weak-ass one either. I think a lot of people want to lose weight because they feel like they should. But they don’t really want to. That’s okay. Without a clear motivation it’s doubtful it will happen. It’s not easy so you have to want it. But saying you want it and not acting like it is not wanting it. You can’t have it all and no amount of #fitpso is going to help. If boozing it up and eating delicious food outside of your limits is more important to you than losing fat, that’s cool. Admit it and own it though.

2. Umm…you need to burn more calories than consumed in order to lose fat. Number one priority here. 

3. You can’t just wake up and decide to do #2 (double meaning?) and expect everything to be ok. You need to learn the necessary skills to support the process. Oh and this is also why you have access to trainers at Cypress. I (and the other trainers) love to talk shop. Don’t waste this resource. Just remember I’m the bad cop. Seriously though education is paramount and we will make ourselves available to you.

4. Your body doesn’t want you to lose fat. It wants homeostasis. It takes effort to cause change. I think one problem with instinctive eating or eating when you’re hungry is that you’ll always end up at the same place. You’re going to be hungry. Before anyone freaks out, I didn’t say starve yourself. But you have to deal with hunger. Coffee and tea help because caffeine will suppress appetite. Also focusing on protein and veggies will help the most with satiety.

5. Speaking of hunger how many meals have you missed since birth? Skip one (ya know, if you want to). It’s a good way to learn to deal with hunger. It will also teach you quite a bit about your psychological state while hungry. In other words, hangry. Don’t be hangry to others.

6. I think there is value in intermittent fasting but I also don’t think it’s for everyone. If you’re eating whole, nutrient-dense foods it will be hard to fit the same number of calories in fewer meals. Other reasons too but that is one.

7. If you have to ask if you should worry about gluten then you probably don’t need to worry about it.

8. Yes, genetics matter but they’re not everything.

9. I think the current ideal of the human body is mostly ridiculous. Yes, from an evolutionary perspective there are certain attributes that are attractive. But most worry far too much about aesthetics that are socially driven. In ancient Japan they would mash up caterpillars and smear them over their teeth to make their teeth black. This is because they thought that white teeth made people resemble skeletons. Wow I remembered something from undergrad.

10. Our culture places a lot of importance on being lean. While that’s fine in some cases, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be healthier or happier if you become leaner.

11. Don’t worry about the minutia. For fat loss focus on the primary principles and don’t get caught up with specific magical foods or supplements. Yes there may be some things out there that help. But you’re building a house. A house of fat loss. You need a foundation first. You can’t hang the chandelier without a roof.

12. This is training related but you don’t need to jump rope or run in place at the gym between exercises or between sections of the workout. It’s better to rest and get a solid effort in during the remainder of the workout. What would be cooler is if you would jump rope/run in place during the downtime of your non-active activities. Like on a conference call. They can’t see you anyway. But seriously, I’m not saying that movement doesn’t count. However you can easily incorporate light movement while doing something such as watching TV. In the gym make sure your level of fatigue is still allowing you to get the most bang for your buck out of the workout.

13. You can eat out at restaurants and lose fat but that will make it much more difficult. A restaurant’s job is to make the food taste good, not to feed you an appropriate number of calories. Cook your own food as much as possible. Don’t like to cook? Neither do I. I just do what I call lazy cooking. I’ll get to some of that in Part 2 of this post. Oh and I’m not saying don’t go to restaurants or don’t be social. Just plan for it and adjust accordingly.

14. An option between cooking for yourself and going out to eat is having someone else do your food prep for you. There are a number of companies in NOLA that offer this service. We have flyers for a few of them at the gym (and no it isn’t an affiliate thing).

15. Don’t let the situation dictate your food choices. You don’t HAVE to eat anything just because someone else is or because it is a certain event, occasion, etc. Remember that your goal is more important. Actions must align with goals.

16. No one cares how much you weigh and you shouldn’t either. The scale is a tool. Do your clothes fit better? Do you look leaner? Do you feel better? If you want a number look at body fat percentage. Sometimes looking at total weight can be deceiving because of muscle, water, etc. This isn’t to say that your weight and the scale is not important in the context of your goals. Obviously, it can tell you a lot. What I’m saying is that it usually isn’t helpful to pick a body weight as a goal without knowing how it fits into the big picture.

17. If you eat for reasons other than to fuel your body you may have a hard time losing fat until you deal with those reasons. I don’t mean to poke fun (just really wanted to fit in the below meme somehow). These things can be serious and you should speak with a medical professional if you feel you have an unhealthy relationship with food.

18. No, you can’t willpower your way through fat loss.

19. Fat loss is a phase, a cycle. You should go into it, give it everything you got, and then get out of it. Too many are in this mindset of “always” trying to lose fat. But in reality they are breaking even every week because they over eat for this reason or that and it becomes a wash. If you are really trying to lose weight then you are in a consistent caloric deficit until you end the phase or reach your goal (though sometimes breaks are necessary). Always thinking your goal is to lose fat is psychologically damaging. This doesn’t mean you binge and gain it all back at other times. It means you are eating at maintenance at those times. Remember that dieting is a stress on the body so you don’t want too much of it. You’ll need a break.

20. How do you know if you’re in a deficit? You’ll have to track your calories for a bit or use portion strategies at meals. But the real answer is that you should feel like you’re in one. Not miserable, but not comfy. If you’re all like “man this fat loss thing is easy I feel normal like I always do” then you probs aren’t in a deficit. However if you are skillful you can minimize discomfort and hunger. 

21. Don’t get caught up in “clean” eating. There is no such thing as a clean food. There are foods that have more nutrition or less nutrition, or that will take you further or closer to your goals. It’s all about context. Don’t create a monster in your mind that scares you into a bad relationship with food.

22. Yes, most of your food should be from whole, nutritious foods. But some processed or junk food won’t kill you. You just have to realize that from a fat loss perspective these foods are more calorie dense and won’t keep you feeling as full.

23. Get people on board your fat loss train. Going at it alone is tough. Your body fat is the average body fat of the five people you hang around the most. I’m kidding I just made that up. But finding like-minded people with like-minded goals will help.

24. At the very least you need to be accountable to someone. Hell, put money on the line or hire a coach (shameless plug).

25. One thing at a time. You’ll see more progress from mastering and being consistent with one thing as opposed to implementing this entire list at once and self-destructing in two weeks.

26. Be patient. Like really patient. Good, lasting results don’t come quick. Think about how long it took you to gain the body fat you’re trying to lose. It’s not reasonable to expect it to be gone in a month or two.

27. I’m all for counting calories for educational purposes (and beyond, to be honest). However there have been multiple studies that have shown people massively under report what they are eating. Everything with a calorie counts, so don’t leave anything out unless you are planning to consistently do so and account for it. The little things add up, and healthy foods have calories too. Buy a food scale. Doesn’t have to be an expensive one. This will keep you honest. I think eyeballing portions is effective, especially since we are all busy bees. But for one or two weeks counting calories and using a food scale will give you important insight into your current eating. I also don’t think the tedium or time required to enter your food into an app is a valid excuse for not doing it. I mean, if you check Facebook 100 times a day there is time to spend in MyFitnessPal.

28. You need to devote time. If you don’t have time then maybe it’s not the right time for you to be serious about change.

29. Don’t make changes that you can’t live with for the long-term. Being super strict and dropping your calories absurdly low may get you somewhere for a brief period but odds are it will all come back.

30. I make an effort to not eat desserts, drink excessively, etc. at home. This way when I’m out for a social event or special occasion I can indulge without it throwing off my plan. Pick your battles. When I say “indulge” I don’t mean gorge.

31. Food should be enjoyable but it is also fuel. Find a balance that will allow you to reach your goals while still enjoying food.

32. Too often we make drastic changes to our food choices when we decide to diet. You increase your chance of success if you continue to eat foods you enjoy (within reason, of course). So if you absolutely love cheeseburgers (like I do) then maybe cut your habit to once per week, or eat them at home but modify it to be a bison burger with fat free cheese and a lettuce bun. A lot can be said for taking your current diet and modifying a few of the food choices so you’re still having similar foods, and then simply scaling/moderating other things.

I know this post is all “do this, don’t do that, blah blah blah.” Probably better that I throw down some tips that will help build fat loss skill. Sorry but I’m going to keep you hanging and do this in Part 2 of the post since this is getting quite long.

I want to end this post with a caption from a recent Gym Jones post. I think it has a good carryover to fat loss because of the long-term approach it implies. We’re conditioned to think that the process of fat loss is sexy, but I’d say it’s more about being boring and consistent.

“Desire is important but caring is the key to success. If you don’t care you can’t change your habits, your behavior, or your future. To change and grow takes an inner fire. That fire burns hardwood or coal, it burns long but not brightly. Persistence changes you. It’s not sexy. But it works better than the flash of gasoline or the hurried bang of black powder. That flash may be bright but darkness quickly follows. So light a small fire and tend to the coals.”