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7 (Surprising) Actions to Take For Guaranteed Fat Loss

7 (Surprising) Actions to Take For Guaranteed Fat Loss

When I started on my path to building a body I could be proud of, I tried any and every strategy I could find. I took shots of olive oil; I meticulously measured my portion of almonds and organized them in Ziploc bags; I precisely combined scoops of protein powder with milk into my shaker cup, and temporarily gave up my social life.

As expected, this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable and led to my fitness routine being turned upside down.

Before all of those unnecessary actions, I forget to do one important thing that would’ve fail-proofed my fat loss journeu. This step is all about the preliminary work (or, front-loading the work, as some call it).

I prefer to call it establishing an identity to prevent fitness disasters. Through conducting the necessary preliminary work, before setting foot in a gym or buying your first pack of chicken breasts, the chances of you actually achieving your fat loss goals increases astronomically.

Many people fail and give up on their fat loss goals, not because of lack of desire, nor information, nor will, but because of their inability to display patience and do the necessary initial work.

NFL football games aren’t just won on Sundays: it’s the preparation completed and strategies formed on the other six days that leads to victories.

Victorious armies throughout history didn’t blindly and foolishly charge the hills and attack enemies: they were patient and precise in mapping out their plan of action.

Before pummeling your body into submission with the latest bootcamp workouts or making extreme changes to your diet, take a timeout and set yourself up for guaranteed fat loss by covering these seven initial steps:

1. Belief

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    It doesn’t matter how great your training and dieting strategy is on paper, if you don’t believe that fat loss is attainable for you, you are going to struggle to reach your goal.

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    Our thoughts inform our feelings, which then inform our actions. If you’re constantly feeding yourself negative thoughts, then the impact on your feelings is going to translate into how you treat your external self- thus, leading to actions not likely to benefit your fitness.

    Your perception becomes your reality.

    The story that already exists in your head about your weight can be very convincing. It can encourage you to search for information and feedback that will continue to fuel your negative thoughts and fears. Hence, step 1 in guaranteeing fat loss is re-framing your thoughts.

    2. Vision

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      You need to be 100% crystal clear on what, how, and why you want to achieve your fat loss goals.

      Your vision needs to be specific and full of actionable steps that guide you to the finish line. Vision is a crucial step; without a pathway to follow, there are too many chances of going astray and veering off the proven path to success.

      “I want to lose some fat”; “I want to start strength training”; “I’m going to eat healthy”. These are decent declarations, but they aren’t good enough if you’re serious about achieving greatness and building a remarkable body.

      Instead, try this…

      “I will lose 15lbs in a sustainable and healthy manner while staying sane and living a enjoyable life”, or, “I will start strength training 3x a week”, or, “I’m going to eat a diet full of nutrient-dense foods that provide a balance of all my macronutrients, while also consuming minimal processed foods.”

      Now you’re fail-proofing the process.

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      3. Know where you currently stand

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        Before you start a workout regimen or implement a nutritional program, you need to know where you presently stand.

        How’s your conditioning? What’s your training experience? How are your eating habits? How are your sleep habits? What do your daily sources of stress look like (for example: work, family, spouse, school)?

        These are some areas of your life that you need to consider before making a fat loss game plan.

        Once you know where you currently stand, you can implement a realistic regimen that meshes well with your personal life; in doing so, you avoid turning your life upside down by forcing too many initial changes (which are unlikely to stick in the long run).

        Once you answer these questions, you might find that you’ve identified a weakness. Now you can target that weakness for the next couple of weeks. Maybe you’ve identified eating as a weakness. Then start with eating one quality meal a day (breakfast) and build up from that initial habit.

        4. Get some accountability

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          Everyone has those doom and gloom days where nothing is going right. Work sucks, emails are flooding your inbox, and you’re operating on little sleep—the last thing on your mind is working out.

          It’s this very reason that finding support is crucial to winning the game of fat loss. Neither motivation nor willpower is reliable enough by itself.

          Whether it’s your best friend, significant other, online community, a personal trainer, a stranger turned cool friend: you must seek out some form of accountability in your life (no ifs and buts).

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          Accountability ensures you’ll show up at the gym when Netflix is whispering sweet nothings in your ear and takeout is seducing you with its promises of comfort.

          5. Embrace the process

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            When beginning a fat loss journey, it’s common for someone to place unrealistic expectations on themselves. This isn’t their fault. With shady before and after pictures spamming our newsfeeds and stories of ‘Joe and Jane’ losing weight in record time— it’s tempting to think ‘why not me too?’.

            Danger arises with this mindset because once you don’t hit your goal in the expected time, you’ll start to doubt yourself.

            But, instead of obsessing over the end result and a self-imposed deadline— only worry about the process.

            You have control of the process, due to it consisting of daily actions (which you can control). But, being able to meet a specific deadline comes down to many variables, such as metabolism, hormones, and lifestyle factors, to name a few, (all of which you can’t completely control).

            6. Become a lifelong student

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              From improving form on the squat rack; improving our speaking skills; improving our interpersonal communication skills; learning how to salsa dance, and learning healthy eating habits—the learning and refinement of our skills never stops.

              Expecting mastery on day one is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for disappointment. Losing fat takes time and comes with a learning curve. Mistakes and falling off the dietary wagon will happen, but that isn’t a signal that you’re a failure or fitness isn’t for you. It’s a signal that you’re human and aren’t perfect.

              Never lose the mentality of learning and treating each day as a chance to improve by 1%. Small changes accumulate and lead you towards substantial results.

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              7. Express gratitude every day

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                It’s easy to fall into the trap of delaying happiness and failing to acknowledge our other needs until our ultimate goal is met.

                However, this turns into a negative cycle of never considering yourself as being good enough. After accomplishing the goal you claimed to have wanted, the goal turns into something else.

                Maybe it’s been six weeks and you’ve only lost three pounds (and your goal is 15)— cool. Progress is progress. You’re closer to your goal than before.

                It’s one thing to improve your fitness and appearance out of a desire for self-improvement; it’s another thing to seek improvement due to hating yourself, needing to prove something to someone, or trying to fit in with a particular group.

                The hate will never escape you and the comparisons won’t slow down— they’ll keep showing up in different facets of your life unless your start to show appreciation for what you currently have.

                Be grateful for who you are now and be unapologetically excited for the 2.0 version that is on the way.

                Now here’s a question for you:

                Which one of these points do you need to focus on? And, what do you plan to do to solve problems that have held you back so far?

                photo credit: Pinterest

                Featured photo credit: Terry George via flickr.com

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                Julian Hayes II

                Author, Health & Fitness Coach for Entrepreneurs, & Speaker

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                Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                Feeling tired all the time?

                Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

                I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

                Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
                • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
                • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
                • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
                • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

                Unfortunately, yes!

                Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

                Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

                Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

                Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

                Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

                1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
                2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

                It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

                If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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                Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

                Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

                But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

                Symptoms of fatigue include:

                • Difficulty concentrating
                • Low stamina
                • Difficulty sleeping
                • Anxiety
                • Low motivation

                These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

                The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

                If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

                And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

                4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                2. Exercising regularly
                3. Using stressbusters
                4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

                After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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                I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
                • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
                • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

                And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

                But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

                L — Living Healthy

                Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

                So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

                In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

                As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                1. Unplug

                Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

                So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                2. Unwind

                Do something to relax.

                Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

                3. Get Comfortable

                Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

                Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

                If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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                Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

                This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                E — Exercise

                Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                That’s what happened in my case.

                But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

                As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

                My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

                That made sense to me.

                So, I decided to swim.

                I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

                Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

                Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

                So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

                If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                A — Attitude

                Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

                Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

                Breathing.

                But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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                Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

                1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
                2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
                3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
                4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
                5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
                6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

                This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

                Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

                N — Nutrition

                Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

                Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

                For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

                Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
                3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
                4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
                5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
                7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
                8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
                9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

                Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

                The Bottom Line

                If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

                If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

                If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

                • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
                • Regular Exercise You Love
                • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
                • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

                Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                More Tips to Help You Rest Better

                Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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