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:
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.
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.
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.
3. Know where you currently stand
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
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).
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
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
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.
7. Express gratitude every day
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