Fat loss is always a hot topic, but now that’s it’s spring time here in the USA, everyone is preparing for the upcoming swimsuit season. And that means a lot of people are trying to lose body fat.
Unfortunately, many people will attempt to lose fat rapidly and in an unsustainable way. They’ll revolve their life around a diet and rigorous gym schedule, no doubt.
But today I’d like to propose a much better approach to fat loss. When done this way, you can lose fat without even trying. That’s because even though your goal is to lose fat, you’re not going to try to lose fat.
Confused yet? Don’t be.
It all begins with an intense focus on your actions.
Focusing on actions (e.g., strength training three times per week) instead of outcomes (e.g., lose 15 pounds of fat) is a not only more effective, but it can also be enjoyable.
What? Have fun while losing body fat?
No, I’m not going crazy, and I’m not pulling your leg.
You’ve been led to believe that losing fat is a grueling, miserable process that leaves you exhausted and hungry. (Or “hangry” as some people say: hungry + angry.) It’s why people unenthusiactically utter, “Ugh, I have to go on a diet” instead of screaming with the utmost joy and excitement, “I get to go on a diet!”
But it’s just not true. You don’t have to succumb to dietary misery or work out for hours and hours every week to achieve your fat loss goals.
All you need to do is follow seven simple steps:
1) Stop focusing on fat loss
It sounds counter-intuitive, but this is important. Stop thinking about losing body fat. Focus on your performance instead.
When you’re in the gym your main concern should not be burning fat and calories. Your sole focus should be improving your performance. Getting stronger. Doing just a little better than last time.
Not only is this more positive (focusing on getting stronger instead of thinking “I need to look better”) and enjoyable, but it’ll also allow you to reap the physique changes you desire along the way.
Focus on goals like deadlifting one a half times, or double, your bodyweight, performing several chin-ups, pressing and pulling progressively heavier dumbbells, running more hill sprints, etc.
Put the focus on what your body can do, and strive to get stronger, gradually.
Do this and fat loss becomes a side effect.
2) Get off the scale and track what really matters
Don’t rely on the number on the bathroom scale, or other numbers, to indicate your success.
Instead, pay attention to the actions that will lead you closer to your goals.
Some examples include:
- Performing three strength training workouts per week
- Going for a 15-45 minute walk on non-lifting days
- Eating whole food, filling, delicious meals
- Eating enough protein (which we’ll cover in a moment)
- Savoring your food (as opposed to just shoveling it in your mouth while watching TV)
If you focus on those things — the actions — and keep track of your progress, then you’ll know if you’re moving in the right direction.
A great way to ensure you track your actions is to keep a notebook or record these things in a calendar. For example, you can write down the three days each week you’ll strength train and go for a walk, so you can check them off as you go.
Another great article to read is this one: Why You Should NOT Have Fat Loss Goals.
3) Eat your protein
When fat loss is the goal, the one macronutrient I like to be aware of is protein. Aim for 0.6 – 0.7 grams of protein per pound* of bodyweight as a daily average. If you’re obese, then eat approximately 0.6-0.7 grams per pound of your general-target bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 210 pounds and know 160 pounds is a healthy body weight for you, then eat 0.7 grams per pound of that 160 pound target (in this example that would be about 96-112 grams of protein).
This level of protein has been shown to increase satiety and aide in fat loss while preserving muscle mass. The crew at Examine.com put together some great research regarding protein intake if you want more information.
This may mean you need to track your protein at first, but after a week or two you should have a good idea of how much you need to eat to hit this recommendation.
As a general guideline and to make this even easier, be sure to include a good protein source in every meal and snack you eat. When you do this, hitting the 0.6 – 0.7 grams per pound of bodyweight target is usually easy.
*Unless you have pre-existing kidney issues or your doctor tells you not to eat this much protein.
4) Follow a workout program that fits your schedule
This is very important.
You shouldn’t revolve your life around a workout program. It needs to fit into your life if you want to achieve results, and maintain them long-term.
You can check out these program design options to get you going with some sample workout programs. One of my preferred programs for fat loss is to perform three total body strength training workouts per week. Focus 100% on those workouts and make it your sole priority to improve your performance when possible.
And then supplement that routine with some extra physical activity such as going for a brisk walk on non-lifting days, engage in a fun, physical activity, or if you prefer, sprinkle in some higher intensity work like hill sprints.
Even though fat loss is your goal, how you eat and work out should enhance your life; not dominate it.
5) Enjoy the journey
Don’t obsess over the goal of losing body fat and looking better.
Enjoy the journey and make the most of it. Have fun with your workouts and be proud of what you accomplish in the gym. Relish your strength gains. Eat delicious, satisfying meals, and enjoy them.
Be proud of what you’re doing and choose to love yourself and your body right now — don’t wait until you reach your goals.
Life is too short, and too unpredictable, to wait to be happy or to be miserable. Enjoy the journey. Choose to be happy now.
6) Focus on the few things that truly matter
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the tiny details of a health and fitness regimen. In fact, this is where people most often experience stress and frustration.
They simply focus on too many things at once.
If you want to lose fat (and keep it off!) do yourself a huge favor and focus on the few things that will provide the majority of the results. This is the powerful 80-20 rule at work: 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your actions and efforts.
Begin by applying the steps in this article and you’ll do incredibly well. If you need some more information, check out these sane and simple rules.
Keep it simple, stick to the basics, and…
7) Be consistent
Apply the previous steps consistently and you’ll get results. And this shouldn’t be difficult because you’re going to follow guidelines that are tailored to your lifestyle and preferences, as explained above.
Are these seven steps different from most everything you’ve ever learned about fat loss?
But I think that’s a very good thing. Chances are you’ve tried other diets and workout routines that either didn’t work or they were so grueling that you quickly abandoned them (and I don’t blame you!).
It’s time to do something different. It’s time to take the simple, sustainable approach.
Remember, focus on the actions you can control and track such as:
- The workouts you perform
- Going for a walk on non-lifting days
- Eating delicious, satisfying meals
The outcomes will happen, but they shouldn’t be your focus; they’re just going to be amazing side-effects.
I hope you see now just how simple fat loss can truly be, and that dieting and working out non-stop is not mandatory. Apply the seven steps above, and you can achieve fat loss, simply, and maintain it long-term. And let’s face it — that’s something crash diets and crazy workout routines can’t do.
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