If you’ve tried to lose weight (specifically, body fat) and haven’t succeeded, you’re not alone! It can be incredibly frustrating to feel like all you’re doing is eating salads and doing cardio without the desired results, but is that really the best way to get the results that you want? In today’s post, I’ll give you 8 tips to help you lose fat, for good!
The truth is, we don’t have control over how our bodies respond to our efforts to lose weight. We can’t eat a salad, run 3 miles, and tell the fat cells on our stomachs to transfer to our boobs as a result of our efforts (if only, amiright?!). Instead of constantly stressing out about the number on the scale, I challenge you to focus on what you do have control over: your habits and behaviors. When you stop chasing numbers on the scale and start focusing on adopting behaviors that will help you live a healthier lifestyle, the results will follow. I know, I know, easier said than done, but if you can shift your focus from the number on the scale to the following 8 tips, you will begin to see a change.
Achieve a caloric deficit– Simple and necessary for fat loss. To lose weight we must expend more energy than we consume. Counting calories works for some (hello, MyFitnessPal app!). For others, they prefer not to count calories, but to focus on appropriate portion sizes for foods while getting in regular exercise. Find the method that works the best for you that you can stick with.
Eat nutritious foods– Focus on filling at least half of your plate with vegetables, ¼ of your plate with lean protein (or about the size and thickness of your palm for a personalized portion), ¼ of your plate with a whole, non-processed carbohydrate (1/2 cup wild rice, ½ medium baked sweet potato, ½ cup of quinoa), and a small amount of healthy fat (1/4 of an avocado, or about a teaspoon of olive oil), you will be on track. There are, of course, individual variances, but this is a great place to start!
Get sufficient sleep– Shoot for 7-8 hours every night. Try to avoid electronics within an hour of bedtime, and keep your bedroom cool and dark.
Drink Plenty of Water– At least 64 ounces of water, or close to half of your bodyweight in ounces. Vegetables, soups, and beverages count toward your hydration, but you probably shouldn’t count coffee and wine as a hydrating liquid (sorry, ladies!!).
Manage your stress levels– Constant stress can lead to elevated cortisol in the body which contributes to belly fat. Find ways to manage your stress through breathing techniques, going on walks, hitting the gym, or talking it out with your friends. Whatever you do, don’t just hold it in until you explode!
Lift weights– It is now understood in the fitness world that lifting weights trumps chronic cardio when it comes to fat loss. Why? When you lift weights and increase the amount of lean muscle mass that you have, you are also raising the amount of calories that you burn when at rest (your BMR, or RMR). You’ll also burn more calories while doing activity, which helps greatly in your caloric deficit equation mentioned in number 1.
Move throughout the day– Have you ever heard of NEAT? Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or the calories you burn during everyday activities, can really add up. You don’t have to commit to a 60-minute workout to make a dent in your calorie expenditure for the day. In fact, all you have to do is move for 3 minutes after each 30-minute bout of sitting time. This will keep your muscles happy, and keep you metabolically active throughout the day! Set a timer at work, park farther away from your destination, take stairs, and carry grocery bags in one by one. It all adds up and can make a difference of 10 pounds of weight loss at the end of the year (based on the average American woman, a 180 pound woman who sits 13 hours a day).
Consistency-When trying a new approach to any of the tips mentioned above, give your body at least 4 weeks of consistent effort to adapt before determining that it isn’t working for you. Remember, if the goal is fat loss for good, you’ve got to take small steps and keep the long game in mind. Could you do a crash diet and lose 20 pounds in 10 days? Maybe, but guaranteed you’d gain it all back plus at least 10 percent when it’s all said and done. Been there, done that. Let’s try something new!
Final thoughts: What works for your best friend may not work for you, so don’t be afraid to try different techniques until you find the one that works for you the best. Find what works for you right now and stick with it until it doesn’t (assuming you’ve given it at least 4 weeks). Lasting fat loss takes some experimentation and adjusting as our bodies and hormones change over time. Your health is worth the effort. YOU are worth the effort. What do you have to lose?
It’s your turn: Apply what you’ve learned!
Take a look at the list of 8 factors for successful fat loss and give yourself a grade (A-F) for each one. Circle any that you’ve graded yourself a C or lower and start there. Choose one of your lowest scoring areas to work on this week. If you’ve graded yourself higher than a C on all of the categories, that’s great! Simply circle your lowest 3 scores and choose one to work on this week. Here’s an example of an action plan:
Example: Lowest score-Sufficient Sleep, Grade: D (5 hours every night). Examine your sleep schedule to figure out where it’s going wrong. Are you going to bed too late? Using electronics late into the night? Pick one thing to work on this week and commit to tracking it for 7 days. Once you’ve finished the 7 days, notice any improvements that you’ve experienced and decide whether you’d like to commit to another 7 days of the same challenge (like omitting electronics in the last hour before you go to sleep, or slowly getting into bed earlier each night), or if you’re ready to tackle another area. No one’s perfect, but the more you continue to work on these behaviors, the more likely you are to reap the health benefits associated, AND see the results that you’re after.