I know the deal. . .
You want to get lean. You want “six pack abs” and all of the false glory they promise. Or maybe not. . .
Maybe you’d just be happy to fit into an airplane seat without encroaching on your neighbor’s space. Or to be able to shop someplace other than the “big and tall” store. Or to have your child give you a hug and have their arms fit all the way around you.
I hear where you’re coming from. I’ve helped a few people lose 50, 60, and even over 100 pounds through my work online and I know not everyone is striving for a body fat percentage below 10 percent. Many people just want to see their toes instead of their belly when they look towards the floor.
So let’s couch this article in terms of “beginners”. This is not for people who are already fit and just trying to lose those final 10 pounds for a beach vacation – this article is for beginners. This is for the people who have no idea where to start on losing fat and getting their health and fitness back on track.
Accept That DNA Is Not Destiny
I am 5 feet 8 inches tall. I have brown hair and brown eyes. I have what I think most would consider an “average” propensity to gain body fat. That’s the genetic hand I was dealt. Your DNA deck of cards is different. And we all have to play whatever hand we are dealt.
You cannot use your genetics as an excuse. Admittedly, your genetic make-up might make you more (or less) likely to gain fat. But regardless of your genetic predisposition, you will only gain fat if you eat too damned much. Now what exactly constitutes “too damned much” is what you have to figure out. But I have a few guidelines to get you started. . .
Start With One Change
You know there is that one item in your diet that calls to you like a siren beckoning a ship to sink. It might be that 4 times per day soda habit. It might be that daily morning doughnut binge. What ever it is, start there. And start small.
If you are a frequent daily soda offender, select ONE time of the day that you absolutely will not drink soda. And then stick to it like your life depends on it (because, well, maybe it actually does). Build that habit. And when it is a habit, select another time of day when you absolutely will not drink soda. Repeat until there is no more soda in your life. And then start focusing on real food…
Focus On Real Food
If the main components of your daily food intake come from a cardboard box, even a box with the words “healthy” or “lean” or some other phrase that a crafty marketer uses to sell their food-stuffs, you are not eating real food. Think broccoli. Think apples. Think sirloin steak. There are no brightly colored cardboard boxes required for any of those foods.
I like to think of real food as what you can eat raw or what you could eat if you cooked with no more than a pointy stick and an open flame. That leaves us with vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, fruit, nuts, and seeds (yes, that is what is commonly considered the Paleo Diet).
Are there reasonable exceptions to this base level of “real food”? Of course there are. But I think this is a good starting point for most people. Or at least as good as any other. For a sample menu and grocery list, check out my 7 day healthy meal plan.
Forget The Workout Savior
Your workout will not erase the effects of a crappy diet. We all wish that 30 minutes of effort could erase 23 and a half hours of indulgence, but it just doesn’t work that way. Exercise is important, but not nearly as important as diet. You must forget the notion of the workout savior and accept that diet is the key to fat loss.
Exercise In A Manner Appropriate For Your Fitness Capacity
I’m often asked, “What are the best exercises for fat loss?”. And although I have my favorites and believe that some exercises can be more effective for fat loss than others, the reality is that the best exercise for fat loss is the one you will actually do.
If you are a fitness beginner, you probably do not want to start with my beloved burpee. Instead, you should use exercises that work with your current fitness capacity. Maybe that means simply walking around the block at first. Or doing just a single set of body weight squats. The important thing is to always strive for gradual and continual improvement. If you can do 10 push ups today, try to do 11 in your next training session.
I’m fond of saying that fat loss is simple. And by simple I mean there are no complicated formulas or bevy of moving parts. When starting your fat loss quest keep the above simple principles in mind: accept that your genetics are not destiny, start with a single new healthy habit, focus on real food, understand that diet is more important than exercise, and train in a manner that works with your current fitness capacity while striving for continual improvement.
What other tips and guidelines do you have for someone new to fat loss? What strategies and tactics have you used? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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