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Two things I have learned after 24 years of training people to lose weight and offering fat loss tips:
1) there is more than one way to skin a cat
2) one size does not fit all
I used to read blogs and articles written by other trainers on a weekly basis, and many of them have such a strong belief in one particular nutritional strategy that they declare any other methods as being hopeless and a big waste of time and effort. As tempting as it is to rant about the negative effects of some nutritional strategies, I’m not going to. I would like to keep things positive and focus on what we should be doing and not what we shouldn’t be doing, and there are success stories for every diet out there, so writing them off completely is not entirely fair. Of course, we can argue that some methods are far healthier than others, but the simple fact is that if somebody reduces their body fat down to a healthy range, they will have significantly reduced their risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis, depression…….. the list goes on.
Forget about vanity for a moment. Trying to control our body weight (body fat) is important if we want to live long, healthy lives and set good examples for our children. There are lots of very specific pieces of healthy eating advice that I could write that has worked for my clients in the past, but they are specific to those clients. Remember, one size does not fit all. For example, some trainers state you must have five meals a day to keep your metabolism elevated, and yes, there is some research that supports this, and I have advised some of my clients in the past to do this, but again, that’s not for everyone. If that does not fit your lifestyle, don’t stress about it. Just have three meals if that suits you. The important thing is to find an eating pattern that you honestly believe you can sustain at least 80% of the time, that promotes a balance of protein, carbs and fats, vitamins and minerals and is very limited in processed food.
Here are my top fat loss tips that I have chosen carefully so that they can hopefully fit in with your own nutritional preferences, whatever they are.
Regular assessment is essential to measure progress. Good coaches and trainers regularly take their client’s physical measurements, such as body fat percentage or waist and hip circumference. The assessment method you choose must obviously be relevant to your goal. If your trying to gain muscle and drop body fat, then the scales alone won’t give you enough information but combined with a waist measurement, they will indicate whether you’re making good progress or not. You could even take before and after pictures to make comparisons. The results of these assessments will determine what happens next and will strengthen your motivation if the result is good. If you’re not making good progress, then you will have to re-evaluate what you are eating and make some tweaks.
Decide what you want to achieve and write it down. Even better, use the SMART acronym. It takes some practice, but it will help make you more successful. Structure your goals, so they are:
For example, a SMART goal for someone might be to lose two stone of body fat in six months. You should then break that goal down into how much you will lose in a month and down even further into how much you will lose in a week. So, in this case, that would be 1-2lbs a week, which is far less intimating than thinking about two stone. Plus, you will have success every single week if you lose the 1-2lbs. If not, you can address the reasons why you have not been successful there and then rather than waiting six months to find out you have made no progress.
Whatever diet you’re following: slimming world, weight watchers, or zone diet etc., the one thing they all have in common is that they aim to create a calorie deficit. Have that in mind when you carry out your assessments. If you have managed to reduce your body fat, then you know that over that week, you have managed to create a calorie deficit (burnt off more calories than you have consumed). If you have not reduced body fat that week and your weight is the same, then you have balanced your calorie intake with your calorie expenditure. I don’t recommend you always count calories, but if you have a week where you have stayed the same or even gained some body fat, then just think about the previous week and try to work out where you could have cut back a little more and taken action the following week.
Remember, any processed food is going to be calorie dense, so you might want to avoid those foods as much as you can until you have reached your goal!
This is a method that has worked well for me in the past if I have ever fallen off the wagon and binged on chocolate! If you ever do something similar, just add up the calories you consumed, then add an additional workout to your normal weekly regime making sure you burn off those additional calories.
For example, there are 280 calories in a Mars bar. If I ‘accidentally’ ate one today and it wasn’t planned, instead of stressing about it, I could just go for an easy 30-minute jog, and the Mars bar would be burnt off! In an ideal world, I wouldn’t eat the Mars bar in the first place, but it’s not an ideal world, and sometimes they force their way in!!
Behaviour change is bloody hard, whether it’s giving up smoking, becoming more active or eating a healthier diet. So when you manage to make a positive change or resist a temptation to give in, give yourself a pat on the back. Brag about it on your socials if it makes you feel better. Yes, it’s attention seeking, but so what, if it helps you stay motivated, then do it. As the old saying goes, though, ‘Don’t reward yourself with food. You’re not a dog’. If you drop a dress size and you can afford to, go and buy yourself a new wardrobe addition to celebrate the occasion. Or for you gentleman with new smaller waistbands, you might like to buy yourself a new pair of jeans.
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