While we often start thinking about our body fat levels in spring and before the summer because we want to look our best on the beach and in tiny skimpy summer clothes, often it is too late for many… To decrease your body fat and look fit and trim takes time. The heavier you are, the more patient you need to be.
Actually, the best time to think abut the next summer season is now—during the dark cold days and the holiday season. If you start now, you will have enough time to prepare and get super fit in spring 2016.
Your goal is to not just lose weight, you want to lose the excess fat, and keep as much muscle tissue as possible. Actually, preferably you want to increase your muscle tissue. Don’t rush your weight loss. If it i happening too fast—and even if feeling lighter feels great—you are most probably losing both fat and muscles, and that will be detrimental in long term. Be patient and follow the following tips:
If you want to know whether you are improving and how much, you need to weight yourself and preferably measure your body fat levels. That allows you to know if what you are doing is working and you should keep doing it, or if you have to change something—your training, your nutrition, or both.
Count Your Calories
Just like with knowing how your weight is changing, you have to know how many calories you eat and how many you spend through exercise. Because if you don’t know, how do you want to figure out what is working and what not and why? Knowing is important. If you are serious about losing body fat, you have to be willing to do this little “inconvenience” and track your calories. I’ve been tracking mine for years (at least 20) and I’ve been doing it to this day. Even though I don’t need to lose much more fat, I always work on improving myself and in this case I also need to know what I am doing and how it is working for me. I tend to eat too much if I don’t know my numbers. There are many online trackers and calorie count apps. My favorite is MyFitnessPal.
Don’t Starve Yourself
Eat regularly. If you think you will lose fat by not eating, this will backfire on you. Eventually you get too hungry and your will to resist temptations will be gone and you succumb to foods that you should not even thing about… and of more so, you shouldn’t ea. Always carry healthy snacks with you so you don’t get too hungry. Easy to carry and store fruit such as apples, persimmons, bananas, grapes, or a few nuts are great.
Hydrate Yourself Regularly
Drink plain water. First thing in the morning upon awakening, drink at least 16 oz (half liter) of plain water. You may add some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Keep drinking plain water during the day. Dehydration causes the performance go down, and also creates false sense of hunger.
Eat Your Breakfast
After drinking your morning water, nourish your body with a healthy breakfast. If you like to juice, this is great time do make some delicious carrot-apple-ginger juice and green juice from leafy vegetables. You will nourish your body with a bomb of nutrients and that will give you good energy through the day. When the body is nourished and satisfied, you won’t have cravings for bad foods and processed sweets. Juicing takes a little more time than making a smoothie, so if you don’t have much time, make a simple smoothie from a few pieces of fruits and some green leafy vegetables. If you prefer to chew, have oatmeal with a few nuts and some fruit on a top.
Even if you choose a healthy restaurant, you never know what is really on your plate. They often add extra salt, sugar and fat because people’s tastebuds are used to it and without it this extra flavor, the food would taste bland to many. When you create your own meal, you know precisely what is in it and it is easy to log in your calories.
The Greener The Better
Eat a lot of green vegetables. You cannot overdose on them. They have many nutrients beneficial for your health. When your body is nourished, it will respond better to your fat loss pursuits. You can make delicious green smoothies or salads. Find many interesting recipes in my book “The Athlete’s Simple Guide to a Plant-Based Lifestyle: How to easily improve your health, performance, and longevity“. The recipes are so simple that I call them non-recipes. You can improvise with what you find in your fridge.
Maybe you think that alcohol relaxes you and makes you feel better. For a moment, maybe. But it’s been shown that the sleep is not as deep and restful when drinking alcohol. Alcohol contains useless calories and also prevents fat burning process. If you need to relax, do a nice 20-minute meditation or have a power nap in the sun. It will behoove you much better.
Get a Good Night Sleep
Try to go to bed early and wake up early. In sleep, your body rejuvenates, repairs, and the hormones balance themselves. If you don’t sleep enough, you will have harder time to burn fat due to higher cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Don’t eat late in the evening. Having an empty stomach and digestive track will make you sleep better. One hour before sleep, turn off your electronics and read a good motivating book instead. Or write a gratitude journal.
Have an Ally
Sometimes it is hard to stay focused under the pressures of daily life. If you have a friend, partner or a fat loss ally, you can support each other in the moments of difficulties. Call or text each other and keep each other accountable. You can also have a journal as your ally. It works tremendously well, on many levels.
High Intensity Weight Resistance Exercise
Whether you play a lot of tennis or not, or do other aerobic exercises, you have to do weight training. You need to build your muscle tissue, which will increase your resting (and active) metabolic rate and you will burn more calories. When you do your weight training, make it intense. Instead of resting between sets, do another muscle groups such as abdominals, lower back, calves… Keep moving, and you will do a lot of work in a short time.
Manage Your Sweet Tooth
Don’t give in eating donuts or cookies or other processed sweet stuff. Often a nice piece of sweet fruit gives you the satisfaction. You may not know it while you are craving, but before you put something bad in your mouth, try the fruit. You may be pleasantly surprised that you are actually satisfied. The healthier you eat and the more nourished you become, the fewer cravings you will have.
Keep Going, Never Stop
Take it day by day, but do not stop. There are no shortcuts and quick ways to success. Every day, commit to your goal and do your best to achieve it. The small daily actions add on and through the compound effect create great results over time. Just keep going and stay patient. One day next spring you will look back and realize how far you’ve got. That feels extremely empowering and satisfying. Have that picture in your mind.
Visualize What You Cannot See
Or even better, visualize now what you want to see in the future. What is in your mind now, will become your future eventually. Be careful what thoughts you think and what words you speak. Make them positive and supporting your goals. If you encounter an obstacle (and they will happen), see them as an opportunity to become better and stronger.
We always set new goals and work hard on achieving them. This is great, but sometimes we forget to cherish and celebrate our accomplishments. Set small milestone goals on your long journey and make sure you celebrate each one that you reach successfully. You deserve to be rewarded for your hard work. Every day when you wake up, think about all the great things you have in your life and be grateful for them. When you are grateful for what you have already, you will accomplished, empowered and you will open new possibilities for yourself.
You can only fail if you stop. Keep going, and you cannot fail.