When it comes to losing body fat, restricting calories is often the first thing that pops into your head, or maybe even running 5+ miles every day. We feel that in order to just lose those last ten pounds, that we need to live on a diet of chicken and asparagus. Or, we feel we can reward ourselves with a chocolate cupcake every night because “I ran 5 miles, and I deserve it”.
Other times, we tend to go to crazy lengths or go by the latest fad to lose weight. Master cleanse:”Lemon-cayenne pepper” diets, feeding tube diets (yikes, scary!), tapeworm diet, baby food diet, cotton ball diet….. there are so many out there, it’s just hard to name them all! Now I don’t know about you but that does NOT sound appetizing to me one bit, it’s actually kind of scary! In all honesty, it does way more damage then good. We don’t need to be on a miserable, boring, and damaging diet in order to make those strides towards fat loss.
The smallest changes we can make will end up giving us the biggest results!
So I’m going to lay out the 5 principles that I find to be the most helpful to lose body fat.
It’s very true that you can not outtrain a bad diet. However, by not prioritizing your nutrition first when it comes to reaching your fat loss goal, getting to that goal may take a lot longer then usual. As cliche as it sounds “abs are made in the kitchen” stems from a very true standpoint. What may work for others, may not necessarily work for you. What is important is to experiment. If one way isn’t working for you, then make a tweak to it! There is no one way fits all approach. All of our bodies are different, and they all react differently to the foods we eat.
If you feel like you are at a standstill with your fat loss intentions, take a look at your diet. Maybe take a week to completely prioritize it. Pick 1 or 2 small things in your diet that you feel are not necessarily aiding in your fat loss and work on switching things up. Don’t try to overwhelm yourself with every possible way to lose fat. One way to start is by adding protein and veggies for every meal. See how you feel once you have done that for a week.
2- Strength Training or Moving our bodies!
This one is going to go hand in hand with #1. They are essentially co-captains on a sports team. If they tend to disagree with one another, or one overpowers the other, then the team is going to fall apart. I remember a couple of years ago when I would be logging 5+ miles a day and going home to eat all of the food in the kitchen, why I wasn’t losing body fat? I just thought well, I’m putting in the work in the gym so that certainly gives me the RIGHT to eat what I want afterwards? Ugh, no Jess, just no.
I was causing a lot of stress on my body with all of the running I was doing and then just allowing myself to overeat afterwards. Essentially I thought I was rewarding myself for my good behavior (ie running), but in the end I was doing quite the opposite. Adding a lot of stress to my body (overproduction of cortisol- leading to more abdominal fat) and then eating too much to compensate what I had done earlier that day. I basically had that mindset of “Hey, I ran 5 miles today, so I deserve it”.
What is important is to get some sort of movement in each day. I remember watching the news one day about how this one woman lost 200 lbs by walking around the airport that she worked at 5 times a week. Now she also helped her fat loss by joining weight watchers, but by just walking each day she was starting to shed some of the pounds as well. That is why I want to emphasize that it doesn’t JUST take lifting weights to lose the lbs. I know, I know, you are probably thinking well Jess you are always promoting heavy strength training, I know yes, but that’s because it is a passion of mine and I find to be extremely helpful in losing body fat and burning more calories then steady state cardio. BUT once again everyone is different. A lot of people don’t like to strength train (we all have preferences), so if we can find an enjoyable way to move and if it works for us, then I am ALL for it. Especially when it is an exercise that is not adding too much stress to our body and we find that it is really helping us to reach our goal.
3- Undue Stress
This is one that can be really hard to combat. I almost think it needs to be rated #1 with nutrition. We can be stuck in so many stressful situations that they tend to have a domino effect on the two principles listed above. Case in point. You are in a very stressful work situation that is causing you to work late hours and/or work under a boss that drives you absolutely insane. What do you do to cope? Well, you treat yourself to the candy bar that is staring at you in the vending machine, and/ or you come home from work to a glass of wine that ends up turning into the whole bottle and decide to forego the workout class you were going to attend. Now, I am not saying this is necessarily BAD as I have definitely had my fair share of wine after work, or skipped a workout class just to relax, BUT when it ends up becoming a month long routine, that fat loss goal of yours tends to get put on the back burner. We live in a society that is so fast paced, if you can try and control your mind to just.slow.down. It may be all you need.
Here are a couple of ways to combat that stress.
1-DEEP BREATHING- Find yourself getting fired up at work? Take a second to yourself in your chair or maybe go outside, close your eyes and focus on slowly breathing in for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds, and then exhale for 5 seconds.
2-ESSENTIAL OILS, MEDITATION STICKS, or AROMATHERAPY BATH-I love to light an incense stick before I go to bed in order to calm myself. I also am a big fan of baths with aromatherapy bath salts and some bubbles. I sometimes bring a book with me, othertimes I do not. Usually my cat keeps me company and that’s all I need.
3-GO FOR A WALK OR EXPERIENCE NATURE- Sometimes it takes a 5 minute walk to clear your head or stepping out into some fresh air to really help empty those negative thoughts out of our head.
4-YOGA-Start implementing yoga into your weekly routine and see how you body and mind feels afterward! Sometimes all we need are a few stretches for that mind and body connection in order to rid our bodies of toxic stress.
Sleep is such a big component for fat loss. Recently, I have found that I am having a hard time functioning on 6 hours of sleep. In order for my tomorrow to be productive, a solid night of sleep is a priority for me these days. According to bodybuilding.com, “one of the first major problems that is associated with a lack of sleep is an increased daytime cortisol level”. Cortisol is a hormone that wants to break down body tissue. Thus, with lack of sleep, cortisol levels will rise, leading to body tissue breaking down.
Another problem with sleep deprivation is increased hunger and appetite the following day. Ever notice when you haven’t had enough sleep, but crave carbs the next day? According to health.com, “Two hormones in your body play an important role in controlling appetite and satiety. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, causing you to eat; leptin suppresses appetite—so you’ll stop eating—and stimulates energy expenditure. In a properly functioning brain, the two hormones are released on and off to regulate normal feelings of hunger. But research has shown that sleep deprivation can alter ghrelin and leptin levels. “When sleep is restricted to four hours a night, ghrelin levels go up and leptin levels go down,” says National Sleep Foundation spokesperson William Orr, PhD, president and CEO of the Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City. So you have a greater amount of appetite and a greater amount of intake.”
So, if you can, try to get to bed around the same time each night and work on averaging 7-8 hours in order to have a more productive tomorrow.
5-Overconsumption of Alcohol and/or Soda
Unlike macronutrients like proteins, carbs or fats, alcohol supplies empty calories. According to bodybuilding.com, “Here’s the problem with all alcoholic beverages, and the reason I recommend refraining from alcohol consumption on the diet. Alcohol, whenever taken in, is the first fuel to burn. While that’s going on, your body will not burn fat. This does not stop the weight loss, it simply postpones it, since the alcohol does not store as glycogen, and you immediately go back into ketosis/lipolysis after the alcohol is used up”. Another thing to remember is that alcohol loosens the inhibitions. Thus when we have taken back one too many, we may tend to eat whatever we are craving that night! Here are some general guidelines from bodybuilding.com.
- Drink alcohol with a lower caloric value, and a higher alcohol percentage (like wine for example). Less will be consumed, meaning lower overall calorie consumption.
- Avoid high-calorie liqueurs. These are extremely deceptive (they taste so good) and will add enormously to overall caloric content.
- Keep healthy food on hand when drinking. As mentioned, drinking will relax the inhibitions and cause one to compromise their nutritional habits.
- If drinking beer, try a lower calorie alternative. Also, drink diet sodas with various spirits to significantly lower the calorie content of these drinks.
- Drink water between alcoholic drinks. This will increase feelings of fullness and may help to prevent over consumption of alcohol.
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drobson194.htm (5 Ways Alcohol Hinders Fat Loss!)
With that being said, we are all human and like to imbibe from time to time. If fat loss is a goal of yours and you find that alcohol and/or soda has been getting in the way of reaching your goals, then try and stick with the lower calorie types. Also try to drink 1-2 x/s a week and/ or in social situations only (granted your social situations aren’t every night 😉 )
Here is a great FAT LOSS workout for you to try out!
Make sure to get a dynamic warmup in, then complete AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible) in 20-25 min. Set your timer and get sweaty! Rest when needed or at the end of each round.
- Single Leg Deadlift (go heavy) x 5-8 reps each leg
- Neutral grip chinups or Inverted Rows: x 5-7 reps for the chinups or x 8-10 reps for the rows
- Single leg Squat with TRX x 5 reps each leg
- Incline pushups, weight plate pushups, or explosive pushups: x 5-8 reps
- Battle rope x 30 sec, or Jump rope x 30 sec, or jump squat x 30 sec