Today we dive deeper into the daily practices that lead to fat loss. As we said in part one, there is no magic bullet to fat loss. The extreme fat loss approaches may work for a short period of time, but will not last and can seriously harm your health in the process. The magic is in doing little healthy behaviors a little better every day.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness sounds very touchy-feely and unrelated to fat loss. However, it is one of the most important steps to meeting your fat loss goals.
a. On a practical level, when you are in the present moment it becomes easier to make good decisions. We have all had the experience when we sit down in front of the TV with a new bag of chips only to look down shortly after and realize we have eaten the entire bag. This can certainly halt your fat loss progress, and the worst part is you didn't even enjoy the chips because you weren't paying attention when you were eating them.
One of the signals that tells our brain we are full is the pleasure sensation from eating food that tastes good. If we aren't taking the time to actually ENJOY the food we are eating, it is much easier to overeat because our brain never gets that pleasure signal it's looking for. For this reason, try not to multitask when you're eating. It's not always possible, but when you can avoid eating in the car, doing work while you're eating, or watching tv while you're eating. Sit and appreciate each bite.
b. Try to avoid feeling guilty for what you're eating. When you approach your food choices from a mindful perspective, your more likely to think through whether the food you are about to put in your mouth will support your goals or detract from your goals. With this train of thought you are more likely to make better choices. And if you do choose something that's more of a "cheat", at least you're doing so mindfully. I would rather you choose to eat your favorite birthday cake than the stale donuts that are at work. You won't indulge in the birthday cake as frequently and you'll get more enjoyment out of it when you do. So when you CONSCIOUSLY make the choice to indulge in a treat that might not be in line with your goals, don't judge yourself. Accept the choice, enjoy the taste, and get back on track with the next meal.
c. On a physiological level, mindfulness also has a very beneficial impact on your stress levels. We are very overstimulated as a society and have a million things biding for our attention. This has left us busier than ever and more stressed out than ever. When stress levels are high, a hormone called cortisol is also high. Chronically elevated cortisol puts the body in a state where it wants to store fat and lose muscle. As we said in Part 1, if your body is in a state that it's actively trying to store fat it doesn't matter how hard you workout or how well you eat. You're fighting an uphill battle and will get much quicker results from decreasing your stress levels and getting your body in a state that it WANTS to burn fat. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, have been proven to DECREASE stress levels and ACCELERATE fat loss. We recommend meditating every day. This doesn't have to mean sitting in lotus position on a mountaintop. You can just sit for a few minutes in a quiet place and focus on your diaphragm breathing. Whenever you feel your mind start to wander, just acknowledge it and re-center your focus on your breathing. The magic of meditation is in consistency. You don't have to be "good" at meditation and it doesn't have to be hours long. The most important thing is that you are meditating on a regular basis. Mindfulness is a skill. Meditation is a way to PRACTICE mindfulness so you're ready for whatever life throws at you.
5. Walk As Much As You Can and Exercise Intensely 2-4 Times A Week
Most people take the "all or nothing" approach to exercise. They're either going to workout as hard as they can 7 days a week or they're not going to do anything. This is the typical New Years resolution approach that people abandon after 2 weeks. The problem is working out super intensely 7 days a week isn't sustainable. And even if it was, it's not a good approach to fat loss. Remember the number one key to fat loss is keeping your hormones in balance, especially your stress hormones. Intense exercise is actually a stress on the body. Exercise itself breaks down the muscles. The magic of exercise happens during the RECOVERY time when the muscles repair and grow back stronger and more resilient to the challenges they might face in the future. If you never allow your body to have days off to recover, your stress hormones will continue to rise. And as we established above, when stress hormones like cortisol are elevated your body is trying to store fat and your hard work in the gym could actually be working against your goals. We recommend working SMARTER instead of HARDER. This looks like 2-4 days of hard workouts that include weight training and interval training. Just make sure this type of training isn't causing pain or exacerbating an injury.
Just because we don't recommend intense workouts 7 days a week doesn't mean we recommend 8 hour Netflix binges on your off days. For best results, MOVE EVERY DAY! The difference is your off days shouldn't be intense movement. These days should include restorative movements that help to accelerate the recovery process. This can be mobility work, gentle yoga, reset exercises, or CARs. And to really accelerate fat loss, WALK AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! Our problem as a society is we are way too sedentary. If your think about movement from an evolutionary perspective, our hunter and gatherer ancestors would have walked about 11 miles a day, picked up heavy things to carry them somewhere else, played with their relatives, and occasionally sprinted to catch food or to escape being food. This is how our bodies are designed to function optimally, so our exercise should resemble this.
6. Choose Carbs OR Fats Each Meal
There are some specific protocols we can help guide you through if you want go through our nutrition consultation, but as a general rule try not to mix high fat and high carbs in the same meal. Neither fat or carbs are the enemy, but when they are together in large amounts they can cause some issues. There is no naturally occurring food you would find in nature that is high in both carbs and fats. Most foods that contain high amounts of both are man-made, processed foods, which we recommend you keep to a minimum anyway. If you stay away from overly processed and choose to eat more REAL food that came from the ground or came from and animal, you are already on the right track. An example of a high fat and low carb meal would be a steak with avocado and roasted cauliflower. And example of a high carb low fat meal would be a chicken breast with a sweet potato and a side salad.
In this third and final part of the blog, we will address some of psychological barriers to losing weight. No one wants to talk about the psychology around weight loss. It sounds woo woo and unrelated. But I can't stress its importance enough. You can have all of the best laid plans, but if your mind isn't in the right place it won't matter. There are different ways to approach fat loss. What works for one person might not work for another person. Even what works for one person at one time might not work for that SAME person at a different time. These factors can make fat loss more complicated, but they are definitely worth considering.