I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday season and was able to enjoy some good food and loved ones.
With the start of 2017 here it can only mean one thing...A steady diet of new years resolutions, and way too many motivational quotes on instagram and facebook pages.
Don’t worry though that will all be over in February, that is unless your friends read today’s blog.
Many people will tell themselves that 2017 is the year it’s all going to be different, but 99% of these people will eventually burn themselves out, and go back to their old ways.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and you don’t need to be another new year resolutioner!
To help battle all the unsustainable juice fasts and detoxes out there I’m going to give you the top 3 easy steps you can use to make 2017 your leanest and healthiest year ever.
Tip # 1: Hit 10,000 Steps a Day
Contrary to what you may have heard your daily non gym activity is going to be far more important to your fat loss goals than the number of hours you spend in the actual gym.
By getting at least 10,000 steps per day you ensure an easy and stress free way to burn extra calories that add up significantly.
Office workers can burn an average of 500+ calories doing their day to day activities while a waiter/waitress can burn upwards of 900-1,000 calories per day.
This low level activity is known as non exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT, and is a parts of your metabolism. NEAT includes all the activity you do throughout the day that isn’t formal exercise.
Can You Burn An Extra 1,000 Calories Without Exercise ?
James Levine, MD wrote a book called “Move A Little Lose A Lot” in the book he discussed a study where they overfed the participants by 1,000 calories per day and discouraged any kind of formal exercise.
The results at the end of the study were that some people gained upwards of 15+ pounds, while others didn’t gain any weight at all.
Yes you read that right. 1,000 extra calories daily some people didn’t gain any weight, don’t worry researchers were stumped too!
The researchers couldn’t figure out how these participants weren’t gaining weight until they made all the subjects wear suits that tracked their daily movement.
The researchers noticed the people who didn’t gain any weight during the study up regulated their NEAT activity to a degree that they burned off 1,000 calories!
This NEAT activity includes things such as walking, yard work, shopping, taking the dog for a walk or chasing after your kids.
One of the biggest benefits of NEAT is it burns a significant amount of calories throughout the day without you even thinking about it.
It also doesn’t require any recovery and can be done for hours on end by almost anyone.
An interesting fact is that when people diet, and decrease their food intake significantly the body will decrease NEAT movement as a way to conserve precious calories.
A great way to ensure your 10,000 step goal is to get a group of friends and all buy fitbits or some kind of pedometer and compete to see who can get the most steps each month.
Maybe the loser has to buy the first round of drinks when you go out, next time!
Tip # 2: Create a Calorie Deficit, but Not Too Big!
Any diet that helps to elicit fat loss does so by creating a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is when you consume fewer calories than your body burns. Over a long enough period of time this results in fat loss.
There are a ton of dietary approaches that work: low carb, paleo, vegan, low fat, ketogenic, Intermittent fasting.
While all these dietary approaches are different, the principle that allows people to have success with them is the same: They create a calorie deficit.
When someone changes the majority of the food they eat to whole foods such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, dairy and starches these foods are naturally low in calories, and higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals leaving you feeling fuller for longer.
Another point to consider is just because a food is on the healthier side doesn’t mean that you can’t over consume it.
Almond butter for example is a pretty healthy food. However it does contain a lot of calories. Because almond butter is a “clean” food doesn’t mean that these are calories don’t count, no matter what any guru tells you.
I’ve seen nuts and nut butters stall more peoples fat loss than any other food because they are considered healthy, but are very easy to over consume and contain a lot of calories.
How Long Will You Do Something You Hate ?
Far too often people go on diets that they hate in the pursuit of fat loss without recognizing the fact that doing something you hate three times a day is not a recipe for long term success.
The dietary approach that you choose for fat loss should be one that you actually enjoy and can stick with long term.
Aside from picking a dietary approach they don’t enjoy people regularly jump to the conclusion that more is always better, especially with calorie deficits.
By dropping calories too low too quickly you’ll be able to get some short term fat loss, but it comes at the expense of better long term fat loss results.
First you’ll cause you NEAT levels to drop much quicker meaning that you’ll burn fewer calories throughout the day by unconsciously moving less. I noticed this to a significant degree during my recent crash diet experiment.
Check out my blog on the 15 Things I learned while on a crash diet HERE.
Secondly by dropping calories too low too quickly you’ll have fewer calories to make adjustments to when fat loss stalls, which happens to everyone.
If you drop your calories to 1,100 right out of the gate you will lose weight quickly in the short term, but long term your options for further fat loss will be limited by this choice.
Under eating for too long or cutting too many calories too soon can lead to poor energy and performance in the gym, disrupted sleep and libido, muscle loss, and increased hunger.
Remember to be patient, you want to be able to eat as much as possible while steadily dropping body fat.
You didn’t gain fat overnight, and the expectation to lose fat overnight will only lead to desperation and difficulty sticking to the game plan.
Tip # 3: Look At Your Trends, Not Snapshots
Far too often when I’m talking with a friend or a client they can tell me the exact moment they decided to abandon their current health or fat loss goal.
It always comes down to a single event they let throw them off track. It could be something as small as a poor decision to eat an indulgent food, a couple days with a higher scale weight or a few missed workouts.
These folks neglect to see that these instances were completely insignificant in the scheme of their long term fat loss journey until they decided to let it turn into a landslide.
Many people’s mindset is that they are “on” or “off” with their healthy lifestyle, but for it to become something you can maintain there needs to be flexibility between these two extremes.
We can all acknowledge and understand that one healthy meal isn’t going to make you leaner or more muscular. At the same time people assume that one unhealthy meal will make them fat and ruin their progress.
These are two sides of the EXACT same coin, but we allow or brains to choose to believe one but not the other, even though they’re the exact same.
Can we all stop and think about that for a second…. Ok moving on.
One of the most touchy subjects for people with a fat loss goal can be scale weight. I think the scale alone doesn’t tell the whole story and I like to see people utilize measurements and before/after pictures to have more data.
I have seen these $15 instruments that measure your gravity cause so much grief with clients that I need to address the subject of weight scale fluctuations.
Fat loss is not linear which means your weight won’t always be lower than it was yesterday, and some days it will be higher.
This doesn’t mean that you’re not losing fat though, it just means that you weigh more on this day.
This could be due to eating more carbs, salt, drinking more water or for women it can due to the phase of the menstrual cycle you’re in.
What I’m trying to get across here is that whether it be an unhealthy meal, your scale weight or workouts what you do most of the time matters a lot more than than the occasional missed workout, unhealthy meal or higher scale weight.
If you let the single events, meals or scale weight screw with your mindset thinking that your progress is ruined by this single event you’ll end up sabotaging yourself and going back to your old ways.
If your scale weight is consistently higher for weeks on end, and you’re going off plan 3-4 times a week with your nutrition that is definitely a sign you need to get things back on track.
Shoot for 10,000 steps a day as this ends up burning a lot more calories than you would think and makes creating a calorie deficit much easier without putting extra stress on the body from intense exercise.
Pick a dietary approach that you actually enjoy and can stick with for longer period of time. Any dietary approach built on deprivation is going to eventually fail.
Both food quantity and quality matter when it comes to health and being able to stay fuller for when eating less for fat loss. Most of your foods should be centered around meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, starches, dairy and healthy fats.
Make sure you’re creating a calorie deficit, but don’t go overboard and try to starve yourself, that will only backfire in the long run.
If you enjoy metrics and tracking use an app like myfitnesspal to track your food intake and weight for 5-7 days.
Based on what happens with your weight during this time it will give you a good idea of whether you’re overeating or eating at maintenance level.
Lastly realize that fat loss journeys have ups and downs, but what matters at the end of the week, month and year is what you do most of the time.
One poor quality meal won’t make you fat, but a full week or two of poor quality meals can. One higher day of scale weight doesn’t mean you’re not losing fat, it means you weigh more on that day. But if your weight stays the same or goes up for weeks you’ll need to make some changes.
As always I appreciate you taking the time to read this week’s blog and fill out the form below if you have any questions or need guidance.