Faster Fat Loss: Conquering the Messy Middle

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Okay. If you stumbled on this article it tells me one thing:

You want change.

Where you are right now and where you envision yourself to be presents a gap. I like to call this space the messy middle.

It’s the area where the novelty something of new has rusted away and the finish line isn’t in sight. It’s lonely.

The messy middle is the hardest part of fat loss. It feels like you’re to far in to give up, but the fruit of your efforts are so far away that it leaves you confused as what to do.

Related: 9 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Fat

My point is this: Fat loss on it’s own is already difficult. But what fascinates me as a fitness coach is that many people make it even more difficult by neglecting the importance of their daily habits and environment design.

I had to make a trip to Los Angeles yesterday. I timed the travel perfectly in the morning – I got to my destination in just under an hour.

The trip back was different.

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I attempted to leave the concrete jungle around 7 P.M., thinking I could sneak by the rush-our. with my handy app that detours me around traffic. Turns out, this was a hail-mary attempt at beating L.A traffic.

It took me three and a half hours to get home.

But there was a point on the highway that I’ll never forget. The podcast I was listening to took the edge of battling with thousand of other cars as we crawled along, but it sitting in traffic still sucks. And when you have to sit in for several hours, it can drive you mad.

However, for whatever, reason, the traffic broke – I went from a snails pace to 75 miles per hour in an instant. It felt like a breakthrough. I was finally free.

When it comes to fat loss, if you neglect your daily habits and environment design, it’s like you voluntarily jump into the traffic jam.

Your progress is mind-numbingly slow. It dreadful. It feels like a 24/7 battle with food. Your fat loss journey is something like driving with one foot on the gas and one foot on the break at the same time.

But this article is your breakthrough. Like moment I broke free from the traffic on the highway – this article too, will set you free and allow you to start moving at a pace you’re happy with.

Lets set you up for success. What follows are three ways you make fat loss move at a rate you’re happy with.

Fast Fat Loss: 3 Ways to Keep Your Weight Loss Moving

1. Change what you focus on

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If I told you to not think about a purple polar bear, the tendency is that you think about a purple polar bear.

When it comes to fat loss, what you focus on is crucial.

Normally, when you want to change your body, you focus on what you don’t want or have failed to do well – how much fat your carrying around, the workouts you’ve missed and all the times you threw three too many pastries down your gullet at the office.

If you’re focus is locked onto the negative at all times, your identity molds to the person you don’t want to be. All of your energy goes towards noticing what you don’t do well. This causes hopelessness and doesn’t move the needle any closer to what you want – a changed body.

Instead, you need to channel that focus into the person you want to become. You do this in two ways:

  1. Decide on what kind of person you want to become
  2. Back that decision up with small daily habits

Here is an example:

The Decision: I want to lose 25 pounds of fat and feel confident in my body again.

Daily habits:

  • I will wake up at 6.A.M and do a 12 minute circuit workout in my garage before work Monday through Thursday.
  • I will have a vegetable omelet for breakfast instead of orange juice and a bagel.
  • I will put a mini-cooler of water next to my desk at work and drink half of my bodyweight in ounces of water each day.
  • I will check in with my personal trainer via text message on my level of effort on my health and fitness habits each day.
  • Ask yourself, “What would a healthy, lean and fit person do?”And then, you shift your focus on becoming that person by adopting the habits they have already proven to be highly effective.

Once you do this, you crowd out the possibility of sulking in your short comings. You no longer have the energy to think about missed workouts because you’re spending that mental energy on becoming a fit person.

Decide what kind of person you want to become. Then, prove it to yourself that you have the chops to be that person with small, daily habits.

2. Make your expectations realistic so you can stay consistent

If you train like an animal and meal prep like a ninja for 14 days, only to flame out for the next three months, frustration awaits. It’s like shoveling snow in a blizzard.

Consistency wins with fat loss.

But the 800 pound gorilla that many people marvelously overlook is the fact that fat loss takes time – more time then you want it to. Have you fallen victim to becoming impatient with your fat loss?

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Churning your wheels harder to make fat loss faster at some point has a ceiling. You’ve got to be content with the rate of fat loss – especially when you’re doing everything right. It’s sort of a trap that you can fall for and throw in the towel too early.

The problem is false expectations.

When you expect jaw-dropping results in an unrealistic time frame, the sophomore motivation will keep you lit for a while. You’ll do everything right. But when your expectations don’t match reality, your enthusiasm deflates.

This is usually the beginning of the end.

You take your foot off the gas and one missed workout turns into a week off and meal prepping takes a back seat to the pastrami sandwich that the deli across your office serves.

The solution is to get a grip on aggressive, but realistic fat loss progress:

  • Excellent Progress – Losing 1% bodyfat every 2 to 4 weeks
  • Average Progress – Losing 0.5% bodyfat every 4 weeks
  • Slow Progress – Losing less than 0.5% bodyfat in 4+ weeks

When you have an objective marker to base your progress on, it keeps your head on straight. The chances of aborting your fat loss mission are less likely when you can see how you’re progressing – instead of guessing in the dark about how well you’re doing.

Ironically, having a progress chart is beneficial for the people who are doing everything right. Since shedding fat takes a lot of work, knowing that you’re effort is paying off gives you the resolve to keep going.

When your expectations are challenging but realistic, your hard-earned progress feels worthy. This motivates you to stay consistent.

And like I said earlier, consistency wins every time when it comes to fat loss.

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3. Use the “First Bite Rule”

The first bite rule puts a simple parameter around your meal times. Whenever you sit down to eat, whatever you eat first is what you’ll eat most of.

This sounds phony, right? But consider the research behind this method before you write it off as bogus.

College students who first chomped on low-nutrient, high carb foods (bread or French fries) ate almost 50% more of those calories than from nutrient dense foods. Other students in the same study started their meals off with protein and veggies and the same results occurred – the ate more of what they ate first.

Why is this significant?

For starters, it’s not that carbohydrates are inherently bad. But when it comes to fat loss, you need to manage them properly. If you’ve got more bodyfat then you need or want, then scarfing down 100g of carbs from French fries before lunch each workday isn’t going to help the cause. By making a simple switch of what you put in your mouth first, you conquer the urge to overeat low nutrient, high carb foods.

Secondly, by switching your first bite to high-quality protein and veggies you do a few things that benefit your fat loss progress. You’ll decrease the production of your hunger hormone ghrelin and increase your satiety hormone peptide YY. In other words, you feel less hungry and more satisfied. A combo that is important when it comes to fat loss.

You’ll also automatically bump up your fiber intake from the veggies. But another major benefit of including more veggies into your intake is the fact you’ll be fighting the inflammation that occurs with strength training. The muscle soreness you feel after a lifting session is caused by micro tears in the muscle which result in inflammation.

Now, the whole goal is to recover faster from this state so you can come back for the next session to train hard. If your diet lacks any alkalizing foods (like veggies) the recovery process can take a lot longer.

This results in a slow recovery and lack-luster workouts. Using the first bite rule to eat more veggies each day helps manage inflammation more effectively and assist in a healthy pH level in your body.

All you really need to know is that the pH scale runs from 0-14. Neutral pH is 7.0. The higher the pH (greater than 7) the more alkaline, while a pH lower than 7 is acidic. For good health our bodies need to be slightly alkaline, just above 7. Eating more veggies helps you do this.

The first bite rule incredibly simple fat loss hack. Take advantage of it.

Wrapping Up

Exercise and diet. Those two things you already know are imperative to fat loss.

But maybe you’ve internalized those truths and your reality doesn’t match. You’re in the messy middle. On the verge of calling the match, but somewhere inside of you there’s a flame still flickering. Lets take that and lit it on fire. Lets get you moving again.

Lets get you back on track and generate some momentum your happy with. The first step is change what you focus on – become the person you say you want to be with small daily habits. Second, set realistic progression for your fat loss. This will help you stay consistent. And lastly, use the first bite rule as a simple and easy way to support your fat loss goals.

You got what it takes. Don’t give up.

References

1) “Critical Role for Peptide YY in Protein-mediated Satiation and Body-weight Regulation: Cell Metabolism.” Home: Cell Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.
2) “Effect of a High-protein Breakfast on the Postprandial Ghrelin Response. – PubMed – NCBI.”National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.
3) “First Foods Most: After 18-Hour Fast, People Reach To Starches First and Vegetables Last | Food and Brand Lab.” Home | Food and Brand Lab. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.

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Name: Brian McFadden

Bio: Brian teaches motivated but overwhelmed active individuals the importance of adopting an integrative approach to their health and fitness, so they can finally make the gains they want in the gym, but also live a healthy life outside of it.