5 Key Steps to Fat Loss
The holidays are right around the corner and as always, we all indulge a little too much! then when the New Year rolls around, we are all ready for a new healthier life for the New Year. BUT why wait till January 1st? Why wait till next week, or Monday or after so-and-so’s birthday party? Why not start now? Try starting with one new healthy habit now and then next week add another and so on and so forth. Eventually it will become a healthy lifestyle, not a diet that your start and finish on this day or that. To feel your best, you must do your best; the effort you put in, you get out.
I titled this with the words “Fat Loss’ because fat loss is technically different from weight loss. Weight loss refers to a decrease in your overall body weight from water weight, fat and muscle. Fat loss refers to weight loss from just body fat, and it’s a more specific and healthier goal from weight loss. Who wants to lose muscle tone, strength and functionality? No one that I know of…
As you age you naturally lose muscle, which is called sarcopenia. After age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade. So, it is very important not to lose more muscle in addition to that because you need your muscles for everyday functions. That is why I am focusing on fat loss which is the most common goal for anyone trying to get healthier!
Now, I have never been overweight but still like most people I have an ideal goal/dream body in mind. For example, do you have an outfit in your closet you’ve never worn because it didn’t fit right or you didn’t feel comfortable enough to wear it? Me too! Or you think something looks good on you then you go somewhere and someone takes your picture, and then you see it and think to yourself OMG is that what I look like? Me too! We are our own worst critics and chances are that the shirt looked good on you in everyone else’s eyes, but you always see something to nitpick about yourself. That’s why it’s called a fitness journey; it’s never ending! You get to one goal and you make a new one! Whether it’s to lose 50 pounds or 5 pounds or gain some muscle or just fit into your favorite jeans again; everyone has to start somewhere!
I’m here to tell you 5 key steps to help you reach your goals and get started now!
1. Calorie Intake
Counting calories has been around for decades and I am not a calorie counter nor ever have been. I will explain more on that later in another detailed post. BUT it is very important to know what you are putting into your body and how much you are burning!
Example; Let’s say you run on the treadmill for 30 minutes then you lift some weights for 30 minutes. Then you go home and naturally you’re hungry. You are in a hurry to get to work so you grab a granola bar on the way out the door. Do you think that bar is going to fuel your body’s needs after all that hard work you just did at the gym? Then later you’re starving so you stop at the gas station and grab a snack. Chances are it’s loaded with calories and junk. But you don’t care and develop the mindset of, “I worked out today so I’m going to eat whatever I want!”
Now let’s think about our bank account; you probably have a weekly or monthly budget for bills, food, and extras. Let’s say you pay all the bills, go buy groceries and assume you have money left in the account, but you don’t really check it. Then you end up stopping at Walmart for something and see a TV that is on sale, so you think “oh I’ve been wanting one and I have been working so hard; I deserve to treat myself by buying this new TV! Well it turns out the next day you look at your bank account and see that one of your bills that is on auto pay (which you forgot about) has been deducted from your account, putting your account in the negative because you bought the TV!
If you had checked your bank account thoroughly, then you would have had a different outcome. The same goes for calories. You can’t assume that you are burning enough calories to make up for eating that cupcake and then expect to see results or positive changes in your body. (Is 1 cupcake going to sabotage all your hard work – no. But, if you are overeating day after day then yes)! The same concept goes for the opposite; a lot of people are on the go and never sit down to take the time to eat a full meal, so they aren’t eating enough calories or nutrients for their body to refuel itself and function optimally.
If you eat too much you gain fat, if you eat too little your body holds onto its fat. Like everything else you need to find that happy medium! To learn more about calorie intake and how to calculate what the right amount for your body is click here.
2. Protein Intake
This is probably the hardest part out of the 5 steps which is why so many people don’t do it and fail. How many times have you started a diet and it was great for a week or two but then you have a cheat meal(s) or your tired or bored with food or even starving? That’s because it is not meant for long term; you need to focus on realistic goals and a sustainable meal plan! Do we eat perfect at my house; no, we love cake! But we know what to prioritize and that is PROTEIN!
When I first started tracking what I was eating, I found out I was only eating about HALF the amount of protein that I should have been! The more real whole foods you eat the better off you are because they are filled with what our body needs. Sometimes there are gaps in our diets that need filled in with some supplements. That is where protein powder comes in as a great option; on average 1 scoop of protein powder has 20 grams of protein. Trying to get in 20-30 grams per meal is ideal!
To learn more about why protein is so important for a healthier life, achieving your fitness goals and how much you need (everyone is different) click here.
3. Water Intake
Water is the key to life and makes up a large portion of our bodies. It turns out it’s also one of the easiest ways to help boost your metabolism. Drinking water increases your metabolism by up to 25% for nearly an hour after drinking it. That means if you drink a few cups of water every hour, you’ll keep your metabolism at peak performance all day.
Getting enough water every day is so important for your health. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, mood changes, cause your body to overheat, and lead to constipation and kidney stones. It also Regulates body temperature, moistens tissues in the eyes, nose and mouth. Water also protects body organs and tissues by carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells. Also, water flushes bacteria from your bladder which aides digestion, preventing constipation and normalizing blood pressure. Water helps in the digestion of food and consequently, helps burn more calories. Science also suggests that water can help with weight loss because it may suppress your appetite.
Side note, if you are regularly drinking pop, juice or sugary energy drinks, you are obviously consuming more calories. If you replace those with water, you are reducing sugar and calorie intake which will be a game changer for fat loss and better for your overall health too!
A great goal is to consume a minimum of 100 oz. of water daily, an even better goal is to try to drink 1 gallon! That might sound like a lot if you aren’t a regular water drinker. These water jugs are an easy way to track how much water you are having a day and help motivate you to keep drinking more. There are a lot different color options here on Amazon.
4. Daily movement
I would hope by now you know that exercise is very important to getting becoming healthier, maintaining your current weight or losing fat. Last week I wrote about the benefits of walking 10,000 steps daily here. Walking is the easiest way to get in daily movement especially if this is your first step in daily movement.
According to the current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, we need 150 minutes each week of moderate intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity. I know 150 minutes of physical activity each week might seem like a lot, but you don’t have to do it all at once. A general goal to aim for is at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or have specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Reducing sitting time is also very important, too.
Everyone has a different daily routine. Some people sit at a desk all day, some people walk up and down the ladder carrying tools, some people walk around from different areas of the store pushing a cart. One thing that is true for everyone is getting in extra movement besides just your daily routine. This is necessary for loosing body fat. If you have a desk job, you need to prioritize that time for exercise. Getting your heart rate up with running or a HIIT workout will burn more calories but so will weight training/resistance training (a lot of people don’t realize that).
Fitness and a healthier lifestyle are not just about your physical appearance of being fat or skinny, normal or shredded. Fitness and a healthier lifestyle is about actually being healthier and feeling your best! Regular exercise will help with your cardiovascular health and endurance but don’t forget all the health issues you can easily encounter if you aren’t staying fit and active. Some include:
- All-causes of death (mortality).
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (dyslipidemia).
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Coronary heart disease.
- Gallbladder disease.
Weight training is actually much better than any HIIT cardio for weight loss or any fitness goals! Click here to find out why!
It is highly recommended that if you want to lose weight or reduce inflammation and stress; you should make sure that you are getting a sufficient amount of sleep in addition to following a healthy diet and exercise program. For most of us, that means, you’ll need 7 hours or more a night.
When we sleep, our body restores itself back up even stronger. This is because as you sleep, the pituitary gland releases a growth hormone that rebuilds and repairs muscle cells. I bring that up because in the beginning of this article I talked about the importance of losing body fat as opposed to body weight (we don’t want to lose muscle). Extra sleep is key to feeling your best the next day and to be ready to get in that exercise and support your overall health!
The more sleep/rest your body gets each night, then the next day the more energy you will have and be more motivated to stay active. More activity = more movement = burn more calories = fat loss.
This is the hardest one for me! I have no problem falling asleep but I don’t stay asleep. I’m working on it by following this nighttime routine:
- Decide on a set bedtime.
- Put electronics down minimum 1 hour before bedtime and/or use blue light glasses.
- Have a light snack or bedtime tea; Chamomile tea is great for relaxing and sleep.
- Take a warm bath or shower.
- Listen to soothing music.
- Stretch, breathe, and relax. (I love to stretch before bed, helps your muscles loosen and recover)
- Practice Meditation.
- Make a list for tomorrows plan or ‘to do’s’ so your mind can settle down.
- Read a good book.
- Turn off the TV.
Wait what do I have to do?
Hit your calorie AND protein goals. If you need help ask me!
Make sure you are drinking more water and less of everything else. 100 oz of water to start.
Walk, run, lift weights; do something for 30 minutes a day!
Set a bedtime routine and get plenty of rest!
As always feel free to leave comment or questions!