When it comes to fat loss the first place most people naturally head to is the gym or the fruit and veg aisle of the supermarket. This is a great shout of course, however, there’s an essential, often overlooked step that you MUST implement daily to succeed with your healthy changes.
So what is it?
Put simply.. it’s basically a significant reduction in the number of decisions you need to make in a single day.
You might be sighing right now if you were hoping for a supplement, superfood or fat burning exercise, but just hear me out.
At several points in your day you’re tempted. True?
The trigger might be stress, fatigue, the fact that everyone else is indulging or just because something tasty falls into your line of vision. Coffee shops, business meetings and supermarket checkouts all have a lot to answer for here.
You have a tool known as will power that reminds you to have eggs for breakfast not a croissant, especially if you really meant what you said yesterday 🙂 Whilst it’s effect is strong first thing in the morning, as the day goes on your brain becomes fatigued having exercised relentlessly from the moment you woke up, it begins to crave more energy and so do you.
Your brain runs on glucose so it gently reminds you that stamina lies within reach, usually in the form of something sugary and energy dense, but caffeine comes a close second if that’s available too.
So now you’re literally working against yourself. You have great intentions to eat the greens, hit your protein goal and head to the gym after work but your body and brain just want you to chomp on cake, chase it down with a triple shot latte and head home to watch Netflix.
Cake, coffee and the remote control aren’t going anywhere BUT you can empower yourself to strike a better balance with them.
One of the essential ingredients is to lessen the need to make so many decisions across your day. Take the thinking out of the equation, literally give your brain a break and simplify life a little more. You will be absolutely amazed how much easier the process of healthy change can be when you’re one step ahead of your brain and keep it sufficiently fuelled for more sensible decisions.
Simple Steps to the Right Decisions
So let’s consider how you can reduce the number of decisions you make across your day by planning ahead whilst you have your sensible head on:
1) Plan Your Breakfasts for the Next 5 Days
Rather than have any mini debate with yourself first thing in the morning about the best macro split, whether you fast or not and whether you have time to make anything, instead plan them all in advance and do some food prep which commits you. I tend to rotate the following:
- Boiled eggs and fruit
- Turkey and avocado salad
- Salmon and avocado salad
- Porridge with protein powder
- A collagen smoothie
- Chicken and kale cups with a green drink of celery, watercress and ginger
Each week I boil a dozen eggs, buy in fruit, avocados, veggies for a smoothie, oats, almond milk, smoked salmon and have some quality protein powders or collagen in stock. I vaguely know what I’ll have each day, I don’t overthink the macronutrient element but if I’ve been for a long run with Hamish it’s often banana and eggs or porridge.
2) Batch Cook Your Side Dishes
Why side dishes? Well because “the side maketh the meal” as we say in the Fitter Food household. Batch cooking sessions are just as important as your gym workouts, 8 hours sleep and stress management, because it keeps you accountable to eating a nutritious meal and again removes that “should I get a takeaway tonight? debate from your mind.
Ideally try to commit to 1-2 batch cooking sessions a week so you’re sorted for most meals. For us planning side dishes takes priority because they’re so versatile and then it only takes a few minutes minutes to pan fry eggs, fish, seafood, steak or place an avocado on top et voila ….you have an epic meal.
We often make a large batch of 1-2 of the following –
- Tray bake of root vegetables and sweet potatoes in garlic and mixed herbs
- Homemade Greek salad
- Homemade coleslaw
- Homemade ratatouille
- Quinoa or rice salad
- Baked squash wedges
We also make a fruitbowl-sized salad first thing in the morning and dive into that across the day as a starter, side or snack.
Another cool thing about sides is something we implement in Fitter 16, you can tailor them towards your preferred macronutrient ratio depending on your fat loss goal. Rather than cook different dishes for partners, kids or friends you simply adapt the sides, for example, serve up peri peri chicken with ratatouille and salad, those who want carbs can add a baked sweet potato or rice salad.
Here’s a sneak peek at how we explain this in our Fitter 16 plan.
3) Commit to 3 Intentional Exercise Sessions
It’s so easy to overthink the role of exercise in health and fat loss these days (decreasing will power at the same time) and the truth is as long as you’re doing something you enjoy and have your other ducks in a row (nutrition, sleep and stress management) you will get results.
When I say intentional I’m referring to you actively setting aside time away from work or home life to do some movement you enjoy, as this is imperative for mental health as much as physical. It could be a long walk, zumba class or gym session. Commit to three early in the week and decide on what you think would support your goals right now so you can then STOP thinking about exercise.
Three sessions is highly realistic to achieve, if possible book classes or sessions to keep you accountable, arrange childcare, tell your boss, put plans in place to stick to your commitment BUT if life gets in the way don’t sweat it, just crack on eating your healthy breakfast and epic side dishes.
4) Have a Power Snack to Hand
So hopefully you’re doing all the above but there just might be an occasion you need fuel and your brain just chants “cookie cookie cookie” over and over, or is that just me? Rather than kick off the ever exhausting “should I….just one won’t hurt” debate with yourself make sure you have a power snack to hand.
It’s called a ‘power’ snack not because of some super hero ingredient but because you can chose this option to regain control, boost stamina and keep winning. The key to your power snack is something that is portable so you have it at the right time, nutritious i.e. packed with micronuteints (vitamins and minerals) not just macronutrients and isn’t too delicious or hyper-palitable so you end up nailing more than you need (insert nut butter confessions here) or you implement portion control in advance.
Here’s some of our favourite options
- Boiled eggs topped with tamari sauce and sesame seeds
- Crackin balls
- Homemade burgers
- Thai omega balls
- Oatcakes topped with humous and chicken
- Lettuce wraps – bacon, rocket and avocado is immense!
- Cottage cheese with blueberries and almonds
- Smoked salmon on rye bread
- Berries with yogurt and cinnamon
Savoury options always tend to have a better impact in terms of squashing cravings and supporting satiety signals.
5) Keep Simplifying
You don’t need to stop here you can apply this to so many aspects of your life and routine. Stop the daily dilemma’s, de-clutter a la Marie Kondo (Author of the Life Changing Magic of Tidying), strip back your wardrobe (I’m a big fan of Mark Zuckerberg’s simple approach to choosing what to wear), for me it’s just different combo’s of black leggings, jeggings, jumpers and hoodies all set out the night before. Outsource the complicated and confusing stuff to the professionals, if it’s anything health related we packed our Fitter 16 plan with everything you ever need to know to succeed and sustain your fat loss and health goals. All the essentials are covered in a step by step phases including nutrition, training, macro’s, mindset, sleep, gut health and nutritional supplements.