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We All Want it
Fat-loss. Needed & wanted nowadays more than ever. Resultantly, we see a ton of shady marketing efforts by individuals and companies. “Fat-loss” or “fat-burning” exercise methodologies and products. Even if these weren't plain & obvious efforts at simply making some quick and easy money, their narrow, short-sighted approach to fat-loss limits them to ever being truly successful.
We're provided with all of the wrong information regarding health from multiple avenues, whilst simultaneously being ushered towards ineffective approach after ineffective approach.
However, as guilty as these ploys may be, the blame can't be said to reside entirely outside of the individual. After all, it's the individual who is responsible for their own decisions; including when it comes to their health. Choosing to consistently consume foods highly conducive to disease whilst living a highly sedentary lifestyle. Yes, misinformation & disreputable marketing tactics are at play, but ill decision-making, a lack of discipline and a lifetime of bad habits are at the very core of this problem.
So, within this piece I will be outlining what I believe to be the 3 key mistakes currently being made that are preventing individuals from improving their body composition through fat-loss.
Dietary Approach & Decision-Making
Firstly, people are making poor dietary choices. Not only are we seeing the a continued rise of people opting for nutritional approaches marketed at them by companies solely focused on driving revenue), but they also simply maintain a diet that is conducive to disease whilst lacking nutritional discipline. They eat the wrong stuff and too much of it.
The vast majority of typical fat-loss dietary approaches we see marketed nowadays are highly unsustainable for several reasons. Often times they restrict calories, meaning that you’ll not only experience increased hunger, but you’ll find yourself very low on energy. Additionally, these approaches are often harmful from a health perspective. They frequently involve the drastic reduction in consumption of certain macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats). By doing this we are restricting the body of important nutritional content necessary for proper functioning.
And then, the problems at the individual level. Many people would like to make a dramatic shift in body composition - that's obvious by the success of some of the aforementioned company types. However, these same individuals often have one of two problems - they don't know how to structure a well-balanced diet. Or, they simply aren’t willing to make the necessary changes in consumption to do so. These also often go hand-in-hand.
By continuing to eat in excess of our calorific demands, over-consumption of refined carbohydrates/foods of little nutritional value, and under-consumption of foods of high nutritional value, we lurch deeper and deeper to a life of disease.
How we fuel our body has significant impact on our overall health & well-being. The adage 'you are what you eat' does hold true. To achieve fat-loss and improve health, dietary adaptation is essential and non-negotiable - and not just for a few weeks.
Sound's crazy right. But trust me, there’s a couple mistakes being made when it comes to this.
Obviously, first of all, people simply aren’t exercising/active enough. That's nothing new, to rant on that wouldn't be bringing anything new to the table.
Secondly, the majority of people aren’t doing exercise conducive to fat loss - resistance training. I could tackle the propensity of people to gear towards HIIT training or other forms of cardio as their primary means of exercise. More niche, but still it's been around for a while.
So, to the point I'll be discussing. Many hold the view that by increasing exercise levels they will see significant change in body composition. Bad news on that.
Exercise should not be the first thing you turn to when it comes to fat-loss. Obviously, that’s not to suggest that exercise isn’t incredibly necessary and something we shouldn’t all be doing. But, it’s not the primary driver of change.
In pre-industrial times being active was a standard part of every day life.
The nature of our contemporary working lives has meant we’ve completely fallen out of touch with that. Only in the modern era has daily exercise/activity become perceived as optional or an added extra to our lives. Something that you do if you're that 'type of person'. Consequently, many now begin viewing it as the way to incur fat loss, as opposed to a customary part of daily existence.
Of course, exercise will contribute to weight-management to a degree. You will burn calories doing the activity itself. Through progressive resistance training you will build muscle, therefore raising your BMR allowing you to burn further calories. But, think about it. The one hour of exercise you do each day is simply a fraction (1/24) of your entire day.
How you’re managing your health in those other 23 hours is of greater significance.
It’s time we stopped viewing exercise as the sole-driver behind fat-loss and changes in body composition. Yes, you ought to be active daily - ideally including resistance training to increase muscle mass. But, it’s your lifestyle and the other aspects of health that will ultimately determine your success when it comes to fat loss. This leads on nicely to the final mistake being made.
Neglecting Other Key Factors
Health and fat-loss are multi-faceted. Yet, the majority seem to get caught-up on just one or two aspects; exercise and/or diet. Perhaps it's because these two have the greatest marketability. Whatever the cause, it’s important to recognise that by doing this, the bigger picture is being neglected and improvements in health are limited.
You may know or know of people who constantly jump from diet to diet, or who exercise consistently - yet seem to make little to no progress when it comes to their body weight. Perhaps this even holds true to your own reality. It leads to confusion - "why aren’t I seeing the progress I’d anticipated/ been told to expect?"
Well, here’s why. If you’re only focusing on diet and/or exercise, whilst giving zero attention to sleep & stress, you’re essentially treading water. The hormonal effects that stress and sleep have on our bodies are so large, that if neglected, all else becomes irrelevant; what your diet consists of or how much exercise you’re doing hardly matters.
I’ve gone into detail on the hormones at play in previous blogs, Sleep & Weight Loss and How Stress is Ruining your Health, so I won’t bore you with the details once again. All you need to know is that hormones dictate almost everything when it comes to our metabolism - the process by which we convert the food we take-in into energy. If you’re not getting sufficient quality or quantity of sleep, and/or are in a state of chronic stress, the chances are your hormones simply won’t allow you to lose fat - in fact, they’ll do the opposite.
The lack of attention that is given to these two critical aspects of health is a key reason why a significant population experience limited success at altering their body composition.
Again, there's no suggestion being made here to ignore diet and exercise. Both are key pieces to the puzzle of fat loss. However, if sleep & stress - the foundations - are being overlooked, your chances of success are severely limited.
So, How DO I Lose Fat?
Throughout this article I've outlined some of the key lifestyle adaptations that are necessary for fat-loss. That's the key - lifestyle adaptation. If you want to lose fat you have to be willing to make changes to your lifestyle and mindset for the long term. Stop looking for short-term fixes to your problems - there's no shortcuts when it comes to health.
Additionally, you need to begin approaching your health from a holistic perspective. Start taking measures to optimise your sleep, stress, and overall well-being. For as long as these aspects of health are overlooked, your fat-loss journey will be an uphill struggle.
If you want to learn more about how to improve your lifestyle and live a healthier and happier life, first of all be sure to download my e-book on weight loss. It's full of highly useful information as well as ways of practically applying it and building positive lifestyle habits.
If the direction that the e-book provides you isn't enough, then I'm happy to have a free consultation with you to discuss your current situation, where you'd like to be & what's holding you back from getting there. Simply reach out to me across any social platform or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian Lawal Personal Training.
Personal training in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge & Sevenoaks.