In this article I aim to share with you 10 tips that can help you shed those unwanted pounds. Before we proceed to delve into the fat fighting tips, I feel it necessary to impart a word of advice on how best to approach the strategies and methods to follow.
It would be unwise to attempt to adopt more than two tips at any one time. For example, if you were overcome with enthusiasm and tried to radically overhaul your lifestyle by implementing multiple tips, you are highly likely to suffer a catastrophic relapse which would result in the renunciation of your vows (to lose weight and become healthier).
Statistically speaking, smokers who try and quit without first weaning themselves off of their cancer sticks and/or making use of interventions (patches, support groups, etc.), are far more likely to start smoking again.
Thus, if you are serious about shedding those unwanted pounds, accept that the journey on which you are about to embark is long (Tip #3: Remember: there’s no quick fixes!) and that success awaits the traveller who is slow and steady in their approach.
Well, if you’re ready, let’s get going . . .
Tip #1: Daily Diet
It’s not enough to eat healthily occasionally or impose a strict dietary regime one week out of every four. We must observe proper dietary practices every day, week, month and year. And not just because it will contribute to fat loss. But because ‘diet is the number-one cause of premature death and the number one cause of disability,’ (Greger 2017 – pp1).
So, by eating clean, by transitioning to a plant based whole foods diet, you’ll lose weight and (hopefully) increase longevity whilst decreasing risk of disease and disability. It’s amazing to think just how much is at stake. But what constitutes as clean eating?
In short: adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet and cutting out refined carbohydrates and anything processed. In the short space I’ve allotted for each tip I can’t give this topic the breadth of discussion it deserves, so I’ve popped a link below which will lead you to an excellent overview of healthy eating and its associated benefits.
The plant-based diet (https://youtu.be/k8hgfXmZSHE)
Tip #2: Daily Exercise
The link between a sedentary lifestyle and excess body fat is adamantine. That is, there’s no breaking it: if you sit on your derriere too often you’ll get fat. Though this, of course, doesn’t mean that by default active people will be thin. There’s much more to it than that.
However, as fat loss methods go, exercise has stood the test of time and has proved itself to be a highly potent weapon against the tub. Thus no weight loss campaign is complete without it.
If you do decide to invite exercise into your life, or increase the amount you’re currently doing, you stand to gain much more than just fat loss. In his excellent book The Food Revolution John Robbins shines light on research which showed that ‘60 to 70 percent of cancers can be prevented by staying physically active,’ (Robbins 2001 – pp38). Hard to imagine though it is but exercise can confer many more health benefits besides. (To learn more about these benefits follow the link.)
To get our hands on these benefits and boil the blob how often do we have to get sweaty?
The winds have somewhat changed on the consensus of how much exercise we ought to be engaging in on a weekly basis. The government has for a long time now been encouraging people to participate in light to moderate exercise for around 30 minutes 3/4 times per week. But what do they know?
However, health professionals, Dr Greger being the most notable, argue that we should really be exercising every day. The sweataphobe’s heart may be palpitating at the thought of participating in daily exercise. But you’ll perhaps be somewhat relieved to know this doesn’t mean that you have to go out for long runs and engage in high-intense, CrossFit-style training sessions.
‘From a health perspective, further good news indicates that just moderate exercise (e.g,. gardening or walking >60 min per wk) performed regularly reduces the risk of a first heart attack to the same extent as high-intensity workouts,’ (McArdle et al – Exercise Physiology – 483).
A light jog, cycle, swim or circuit will more than qualify. Regardless of how much you do and how often, to remain healthy and keep the fat at bay daily exercise must be on the menu.
Tip #3: Remember: there’s no quick fixes!
Before embarking on the journey of fat loss and health acknowledge that the road is long and the travelling hard going . . . and that there are no shortcuts or quick fixes.
I reminded of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Poor old Christian, the somewhat gullible yet loveable protagonist, sets off in search of salvation. But he quickly finds out, after foundering in the dreaded Slough of Despond, that the going is far tougher than he at first envisaged.
Christian’s journey is treacherous and fraught with danger and temptation. And though many times he contemplates capitulation he stays the course and perseveres until he finally achieves his objective.
What, I’m sure the dear reader is wondering, what are you trying to say here?
I’m trying to say that losing fat and improving health, just like salvation, are two destinations that are eminently difficult to reach. Just look around at all those people who have either failed or can’t even be bothered to make the effort.
Also, the path along which you must walk is peppered with temptation: never, throughout all human history, have calories been so cheap and easily accessible. Food that makes us fat and unhealthy is quite literally everywhere.
But if you prepare yourself psychologically, if you recognise that getting rid of the blob is going to be an arduous slog, you will improve your chances of success. And if you persevere when the going gets tough, which it inevitably will, you are almost certain to arrive at your destination.
Tip #4: Don’t Snack!
Snacking is the fat fighter’s arch nemesis. It’s like an evil villain that Discipline, the super hero in this strange metaphor, must always do battle with. But why, you ask, is snacking so pernicious?
Uncontrolled snacking can significantly increase the number of calories that a person consumes throughout the day. Females are advised to consume between 1500 and 2000 calories a day, males 2000 to 2500 (ref). These calories can easily be got from three healthy daily squares (Tip #1: Daily Diet). But throw a few snacks into the mix and those figures could balloon 50% or more
(Tip #5: Cut Down on Portion Sizes).
Moreover, snacking is the Scarlet Pimpernel of food. Most people know in their heart of hearts that they snack but they can never quite remember when and where they committed the sin. Having worked for many years in the health and fitness industry, both as a personal trainer and health and lifestyle coach, I’ve found snacking to be one of the hardest lifestyle habits to combat. It’s as though snacking induces a sort of amnesia. Here’s what I mean:
I’ll be interviewing a client who perhaps wants to lose weight. I’ll ask them about their diet, what foods they eat, what times during the day they eat those foods. Quite often they’ll paint a rosy picture and tell me that their diet, though by no means perfect, is certainly not bad – ‘I eat my five a day!’ they nearly always proclaim, in a futile attempt to exonerate dietary wrong doing.
After packing away my polite smile I’ll tentatively broach the subject of snacking. ‘Do you snack between these ‘relatively’ healthy meals,’ I put to them. And the response is always the same. They’ll vigorously shake their head and deny that they ever eat between meals.
But I know by looking at them that something doesn’t add up. For it is not possible to pack on so many superfluous pounds when you live off three small healthy(ish) meals a day. I don’t care what anyone says: It’s not possible!
This is my solution to the problem. Because, though it’s obvious that they are concealing information from me, I can’t water board it out of them. So what I do, in an attempt to bring about awareness of what I suspect to be a snacking issue, is ask them to take a quick pic of everything they eat over the following week.
At the end of the week I’ll upload all those images and create a collage. By doing this they can see the extent of their eating habits (if they’ve not been fudging the accounting of course – but for the purpose of this tip we’ll assume that they haven’t). Once their weekly dietary consumption is displayed in HD I’ll make a rough estimate of the total calories captured in that image. Though not before writing down how many calories someone of their gender, size and activity output should be consuming.
Of course, when they see that smorgasbord of dietary misdemeanours, and clap eyes on that crude calculation that shows extreme calorie consumption imbalances, they inevitably wake up from their delirium. Snacking is all of sudden seen for what it is: a fast track to being fat.
Tip #5: Cut down the portion sizes
The human organism is a fabulously energy efficient machine (metaphorically speaking). Here’s what I mean: you could, if you were stupid enough, pop down to McDonalds and order a Big Mac meal. In the 5-odd minutes it’d take to consume that disgusting salty, chemically, saturated fat-laden toxic ‘food’ you’d ingest about 1500 to 2000 calories.
To expend the same number of calories – if you’re stupid enough to believe in the calorie in calorie-out theory of fat loss – to burn those 1500-plus calories you’d have to run a marathon; which takes the average (trained) runner around 4.5hrs.
The truth of the matter is, we really don’t need to eat as much as we do. As a population (I’m talking statistically here, I just want you do bear that in mind) . . . as a population we’re collectively consuming far too many calories. Some nutritional scientists suggest that the average person in the West could well be consuming as many as 500 calories a day more than they should.
Calculated over a week this would equate to 3500 superfluous calories! Which is roughly 1.5 additional days of unnecessary eating every week, 6 days every month and a staggering 72 days every year! Is it any wonder that obesity is at epidemic proportions?
But the great thing with this tip is that it’s super easy to rectify. By cutting down our portion sizes we will inevitably cut down the number of calories we are consuming. The simplest method of achieving this is to serve meals prior to placing them on the table. No buffet-style help-your-self set-ups. Also, consider reducing the size of you plates – a psychological trick: well-stocked small plates present the appearance of a big meal.
Tip #6: Stick to it!
The number one reason why the majority of people fail to lose weight is because they give up. I’ll be honest with you: the pursuit of health (and/or trying to maintain it) is a continuous battle. Truly, the person who wishes to lose weight must be prepared to wage war on a daily basis.
Wage war against what?
Everything! Our inherent laziness. The propensity to favour the couch over exercise. Culinary temptations. Cake! Croissants (my personal predilection)! The vending machine. Etc., etc. ad infinitum.
Thus if you set your sights on losing weight know that it will not happen overnight (Tip #3: Remember: there’s not quick fixes!) and you will frequently have to engage in fisticuffs with that most belligerent of foes who goes by the name of Temptation.
But if you stick to it! If you stick to it and pursue your goal with dedication and determination you will emerge victorious.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. (Edison)
Tip #7: Fat people skip breakfast! (So the saying goes.)
The title of this tip is not strictly true. My mum never eats breakfast – unless you class a coffee and cigarette as breakfast of course – and her body fat percentage is on par with that of a cold chip. However, one could well argue that she is a Gladwellian statistical outlier.
But though there is perhaps scant (if any) empirical evidence to support that statement – fat people skip breakfast – you really don’t have to use the full force of ratiocination to support a convincing argument in its favour.
The theory behind that old saying goes something like this: by skipping breakfast – aka the most important meal of the day – you are, in a bid t