When a long-lasting fat loss struggle has been synonymous with your life it might be tempting to jump into a short, extremely restricted diet that promises the loss of 10kg in 10 weeks. It is tempting because these programs are marketed as those shiny, silver bullets that I, so greatly, despise. I mean that’s what you see in the Biggest Loser and other shows so it must the way to go. Well, no.
It’s also tempting to hire a trainer, show up four days a week to do a lot of gasping and panting. Earn that food, burn those calories. We’d love for this to work since it’s simple. It’s black and white, and goddammit, we like black and white rules! “Do this and get this”. But without tackling your overall lifestyle, this training on it’s own won’t get you far. Yeah, you’ll probably get fitter and stronger but the scale is not going to move, the fat is not going to shift. You are turning the wheels, yet going nowhere.
You have go deeper than just eating and moving. And it can be painful to do so. And if you have been struggling with your weight for a longtime, you might have to get help beyond of what you can get from a trainer. All of this can lie deeper than that what we provide.
The messed up truth is that to be able to achieve long-lasting changes, you have to take a deep look at the several different aspects of what’s going on in your life. Not only now, but in the past too. You might have to face some uncomfortable skeletons in the closet. This is why some people fail with their fat loss efforts, they are not willing to face their past that drives their current, self-sabotaging behaviors.
Suddenly things are not so black and white. No, it’s like a rainbow of different shades of colors, most of which I can’t even pronounce.
I know you don’t want to do this. You want to rush forward and just train more and count calories. But I encourage you to pull the handbrake on those things and dig deeper. By all means, still train but don’t think if you have been struggling with fat loss for a long time, that training itself will fix it all. If it hasn’t worked so far, it won’t work now. Besides, this is not so much about fixing as it is about changing and facing what’s holding you back.
“So Joonas, what are the aspects that need to be looked at in a successful fat loss plan?” Glad, you asked since I’ve written about them below. Provided that all the medical issues that could possibly hinder fat loss are cleared, here’s what needs to be dealt with.
Are you always busy? Do you run around putting off fires in every corner of your life? Are all your weekend booked with dinners, birthdays and functions involving anything from ship christenings to bar mitzvahs? This all screams that you don’t control your time but other people and their agendas do.
We live in a world where being busy is glorified, in a world where the number of hours you work each week is a badge of honor. When in fact it should be a badge of incompetence.
How often, when you ask someone “how are you?”, you’ll get, “OMG I am sooooooo busy with this this and this. I worked like 32 hours yesterday!” In my humble opinion it comes down to us not feeling good enough about ourselves. We have to prove ourselves to others by accolades and accomplishments. Busy equals how important we are.
Hey, I’ve been there. And I still struggle with it sometimes. But I am more aware of it than in the past.
Yes, be ambitious. Strive to make a difference. But you’ll make a bigger difference by looking after yourself first. Your fat loss is not going happen (or last) if you are miserable. And you’re not going to do anything important when tired.
Fat loss takes self searching and learning about yourself. You will need to dig deep to discover things about you. You can’t discover jack-shit if you don’t have time for the digging in the first place. You learn about yourself by allocating time for it.
Bottom line: fat loss won't work if you are always tired.
The time management issue bridges nicely to stress control. You are making fat loss so much harder (even impossible) if you have no ways to manage your stress. Not only physiologically (hormones and stuff like that) as well as psychologically. Big ball of stress equals a big ball of struggle. Find ways to get on top of your stress. I can’t emphasize this enough.
RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
If you’ve tried to lose weight for a long time you probably have the “eat less to lose weight” – motto inked in your brain. And this is going to be hard to change because less food equals less weight, right? Not so fast.
Amazing things happen when you give yourself the permission to eat three or four full, healthy meals a day. Your body gets the nutrients it needs and metabolism kicks into a high gear instead of being suppressed to the brink of a death.
So it’s not about how little you eat but how well you eat. Don’t skip meals. Aim for at least one healthy and complete meal each day. Ideally three or four. This means protein, vegetables, carbs and healthy fat with each meal. How much off all of it you need depends on your activity levels and body type, just to name few. But you won’t know if you don’t start somewhere.
Your eating doesn’t have to be perfect. Even the so called unhealthy foods are part of good eating habits. Long-term success cannot be build on relying on willpower and restrictions. We like to count calories and set strict restrictions because it gives us the sense of being in control. When in fact quantification is only an illusion of control. So, think of 80/20 rule, forget perfection, don’t ban any food items.
Most of all, be kind to yourself and don’t judge your eating.
SHIFT IN MINDSET
Shifting away from “harder is better” and to “being content is better”. Not focusing on fat loss but to the overall lifestyle change. The happier and calmer you are, more likely it is that everything else is going to fall into place. Get your big rocks sorted to form a foundation.
No one has the perfect template for you to follow for the “ultimate results”. Despite what the Internet gurus say. You have to find what is right for you. You will feel like you are sometimes failing since progression is not always linear. But the further you go the more you know about yourself. And the more you know, the easier it is to navigate and ignore all the useless diet information there is.
I see this struggle with fat loss happening often, and it bothers me since I can’t provide all the help that these more difficult situations need. I can nudge people into the right direction so they can seek help but there’s only so much I can do. I can’t force a person to take action, no matter how helpful, if they are not willing to do so. When facing these situations, all I can do for the person is to be honest on what I think they need and explaining that there’s a good chance that my services on their own won’t necessarily be enough in their quest for fat loss.
A lot of blocks go into a successful fat loss and lifestyle change. Training and habit changes are a big part of it. But I’d be lying and shooting my professional integrity out of a cannon if I would tell everyone that all they need for fat loss is to train more and eat certain types of foods. This is not all about facts and figures. It’s not always about knowing what to do as much as how to do it.