Whenever I ask clients or Fitter Foodies about their top goals, you can guarantee fat loss figures somewhere in the list. For many people it’s their No.1 goal, whilst others might speak of health priorities like “fix my bloating” or “improve energy levels” but there is always an added “oh and lose a few pounds” somewhere in the conversation too. The problem with these fat loss goals is you’re almost doomed to fail from the start! Here’s why!
Firstly, because this goal has so many negative connotations, it’s founded on a dislike of your body which can have a profound effect on your state of mind and emotional wellbeing. Furthermore, in all of the years I’ve been a personal trainer and nutritional therapist I’ve observed those who base their health goals on fat loss rarely experience success, ironically, this isn’t because they don’t lose weight, but more so because once they shed a few pounds they move the goal posts and decide they need to lose even more.
A fat loss goal often becomes riddled with body dysmorphia, orthorexia and a skewed perception of what is important in life. In fact life itself may even go on hold as you’re far too busy smashing intervals, counting calories, measuring macros, trying not to eat too many nuts and clocking up steps on your Fitbit.
Enjoyment, laughter and awesome experiences can go on hold until you’ve hit the golden number on the scales again. As many people never reach their fat loss goals (because it keeps moving!) this simply means you lead a miserable, exhausting existence plagued with guilt, failure and an eternal quest to discover “what the feck am I doing wrong!!!”
I’m not saying that your body composition isn’t significant, it’s a mechanism of feedback about hormonal imbalances and unhealthy lifestyle habits, but too many people are placing their entire focus on fat loss and its relevance has escalated out of control.
A healthier way to achieve fat loss is to not think about it, to focus your energy and intentions else where. Reflecting upon why you gained weight in the first place is a helpful place to start because you can use this information to put together some key changes and from there establish some healthier health goals.
Address The Cause Of Weight Gain
Asking yourself some key questions can really help you on your health journey. If you are genuinely overweight it helps NOT to keep observing and stressing about this fact, but more so to think about the reasons you might have put on weight in the first place.
We discuss this a lot in previous blogs and some obvious reasons are not exercising enough, overeating, too many processed foods, too much alcohol, excessive stress and a lack of sleep. What’s even more helpful once you have considered this is to go back another step and think about why:
- Why aren’t you exercising enough?
- Why are you overeating?
- Why are you choosing processed, refined foods?
- Why are you drinking so much?
- Why are you stressed?
- Why are you not sleeping soundly for 8-9 hours a night?
When you contemplate these questions you’ll come to understand the answers will provide you with solutions. Take exercise for example:
Why aren’t you exercising enough?
You don’t enjoy exercise – Think outside the box a little; hobbies, sports, dance are all movement and for many people much more fun and sociable than a gym session.
You don’t have time – You do if you prioritise movement as a key component of your health. You can wake up half an hour earlier and go for a walk, cut back on working hours and fit in more exercise (before you become stressed out, run down and no good to any employer anyway). Spread a 100 rep challenge across your day. We’re doing these in our Fitter 365 Membership site and you’ll be surprise how many squats you can do on every toilet break across the day.
You’re injured – There are lots of injuries you can train around but if you genuinely can’t do much, focus on walking, mobility, stretches, deep breathing and use your time off from the gym to sleep more, educate yourself about nutrition and training and switch your focus to improving your mindset with mindfulness and meditation courses.
You’re too tired – Just walk outside each day for 30minutes and ensure 80-90% of your meals are sourced from nutrient dense foods. Sleep more, relax more and get organised.
Now repeat the steps above for the reasons you believe you gained weight. Write down the reason and some potential solutions to stop the behaviours and habits reoccurring and acting as a barrier to optimal health.
Set Yourself Some Healthy Health Goals
Once you have some key strategies in place to make some progress it helps to set yourself some positive goals to give you direction and motivation. FAT LOSS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. Here are some example you can consider:
1) LOVE Your Body
Treat your body like your best friend, with our pals we only ever see the best in them, we compliment them, drop anything when they’re in trouble and tend to their needs. Do the same with your body, it’s really important to move away from the deprivation, criticism and destruction that comes from eating less, training harder and feeling miserable about what you see in the mirror. This just leaves your feeling so anxious and wound up that you need to console yourself with food and alcohol blowouts. You need to flip this situation and focus on nourishing your body 7 days a week.
If you observe feedback from your body like fatigue, skin issues or bloating it could be time for some rest and relaxation. Skip the HIIT session for a walk, an epsom salts bath, a mug of bone broth and an early night.
In terms of nutrition stop flapping about carbs, look at your plate and ask yourself what it offers your body beyond calories; vitamins? minerals? antioxidants? healthy fats? Ensure you’re investing in nutrients and fuelling your body. If your body is a little lack lustre give it some TLC, just as you would take a pal off to a spa for a day, treat your body to a stretch, a sauna, some hot yoga or a massage. When you find the negative habits creeping back remember….. “My bod is my best bud!” and say it out loud.
2) LOVE Your Life
Write down ten things that make you happy in life. Ice cream can be on there but try and make the experiences varied, for example, dancing, having a bath, singing, travelling, going to the theatre …etc etc.
Now write down when was the last time you did each of them. Chances are you haven’t done most of them for a while because you’re too busy focusing on the wrong things and not really enjoying your life. Life is a journey not a destination and it’s hugely important to love your home life, career, friendships, relationships, weekends and your days are filled with wonderful experiences. Run a little happiness audit and if there’s a deficit here be sure to pencil in some things that make you happy across the week. Make happiness a priority!
Ideally you should wake up and look forward to your day, the company you keep, the things you need ‘to do’ and it shouldn’t matter whether there’s bread, chocolate or coffee involved.
3) Improve Nutrition and Health Knowledge
I think this is a wise goal for most people to have, education is empowering and if you can understand the importance of a strong nutritional foundation and healthy lifestyle habits you can adapt your lifestyle to nourish your body and mind. It’s important not to overwhelm yourself so even just reading a book each month, attending a course or lecture that increases your understanding will allow you to move away from the scales, calories and tracking devices as a monitor of health and instead assess your mood, energy, skin, hair, libido and other important indicators.
We have new webinars each month in our Fitter 365 and we’re running a Fitter Food Academy in November with some of our favourite podcast experts including the gut health geek; Emma Mihill, the awesome Primal doctor; Tommy Wood, the super strong; Joslyn Thompson Rule and life coach and body confidence expert Sarah Doyle. You can find more details HERE.
4) Find A Purpose For You
So many people switch their focus to something negative like body image and fat loss when they lack a real sense of purpose in life. We all get lost from time to time but it’s important to catch yourself before you drive your energy towards unhealthy goals.
It can help to have some career coaching or mentoring to help you discover what it is you really wish to do in life and the things you want to achieve. It’s rarely a six pack unless you’re purpose in life is to sell protein shakes. Think of a something that allows you to influence, lead change, make people happy, make the world a better place. It could be writing a blog or book, launching your own company, running an event, the world is your oyster.
5) Do Things That Scare You
So this is me and Matt about to jump out of a plane, I’m not suggesting you do this everyday of course but it is important to step out of your comfort zone. When you’re doing this you rarely have time to think about your waistline. Life is dynamic, fun, spontaneous and exciting. Many of us pile on the pounds when we’re bored and miserable and need sugar, caffeine and alcohol to relieve us from the monotony of life.
Think about it if you’ve ever had a day with lots of awesome things plans you barely think about food or crave anything to make you feel better, you already feel so good. If you can switch the balance of your lifestyle so that these occasions happen more frequently your highs will come from life and not from a slice of chocolate cake 🙂
So take some time today to put together some healthy health goals and encourage friends and family to do the same. We’d love to hear what you decide so feel free to let us know on Facebook.