How To Become Your Own Fat Loss Coach

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To a horse owner, a barn fire is arguably their biggest nightmare. In a blink of an eye, the heat, smoke and fury can blaze up and consume thousands of dollars in resources including things like hay, grain, equipment, saddles and bridles.

The tragic thought of losing their horse(s), is often too painful to imagine. However, a horse owner must contain the horse from the fire, or else it might just run into the flames.

Why?

Horses are fed in the barn and they soon identify the barn with being a safe place. It’s their home. When a barn fire breaks out, the chaos injects massive amounts of panic and anxiety in the horses.

Related: Top 9 Reasons You’re Not Losing Fat

In a state of manic, the horses brain overrides logical thinking and seeks safety. They are out of their comfort zone, and thus, frantically look to get back to “home.” Unless they are contained, they will run back into the burning barn.

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The burning barn – the thing that once kept them safe – is also the thing that can kill them within minutes. The question is, “What is your burning barn?” when it comes to your health and fitness.

  • Do you keep going back to the late night drive-through after work?
  • Do you find yourself constantly dieting?
  • Do you continually revert to fast food options because of convenience?
  • Do you have a habit of disempowering yourself by stocking your home with foods that make it impossible to eat well?
  • Do you choose to be around a group of people that don’t support your desire to change?

What is your burning barn? What is your comfort zone that has gong up in flames but you keep returning to with hopes to find “safety?”

Being in the fitness industry, I come across a lot of advice, books, podcasts and resources on how to change your body and health. That’s also part of the problem. There’s so much fact vomiting and not enough equipping.

If you notice, diet plans and training programs are abundant on the web. A lot of them are also free. So why are there so many people who struggle with health and fitness while there is so much information available at the click of a link?

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It’s because information doesn’t equal transformation.

To be sure, there are outliers. Some people can turn the switch on and go beast mode without any additional tactics or strategies on behavior change or habit building.

But for most people, information alone comes up short in their attempt to change their bodies and health. When armed with facts only, people muster up the courage to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone.

They’ll make new meals.

They’ll try working out.

They’ll pack lunches.

But when life throws a right hook and knocks them to the ground, they don’t know what to do. Similar to the horse in a state of panic, they run back into their burning barn seeking safety – and the bad habits ensue.

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They return to square one.

If you’ve struggled to sustain momentum and progress with your healthy lifestyle, you’ve come to the right place.

I don’t write this from a lofty perch in an ivory tower, but as a regular dude who struggles just like you. I’ve been in the trenches – and I’m in the battle daily.

The truth is, whether you’re a stallion in your mid-twenties, a house mom or a CEO, everyone must have a back pocket of strategies and tactics that prevent them running into their own burning barns.

And this includes myself.

Here are five strategies you and I can use to become our own fat loss coaches.

How to Burn Fat – 5 Strategies

1. Build your willpower muscle

Your willpower (or also known as self-control) capacity is like a gas tank.

In the morning, you wake up with a full tank. As you charge through the day, each decision withdrawals from your willpower tank. Small decisions like what to wear and big decisions like signing the lease o the apartment both deplete your willpower tank.

So, at the end of the day, when you’ve wrestled through many decisions, your willpower is running on low – or sometimes even on fumes. This is when the deep dish pizza wins.

There’s good news though. Just like a muscle, your willpower capacity has the potential to grow stronger. With regular exercise your willpower gets stronger, thus, allowing you to make better decisions consistently over the long haul.

Before you take on a big goal (quitting smoking or losing 40 pounds) which require a ton of willpower, start with regular, but less extreme willpower exercises. Going to the gym once a week to start for 20 minutes instead penciling in 6 training sessions a week for 90 minutes.

Have a green protein smoothie for breakfast for the next 30 days instead of changing your diet overnight.

Rather than trying to get an additional 2 hours of sleep per night, improve your nightly routine and enhance the amount of sleep you’re currently getting.

By starting with small, but regular willpower exercises you’ll build your self-control muscle over time.

2. Establish foundation habits

By establishing some foundational habits, it frees up the mental bandwidth for you to do other things with your decision making capacity. Meaning, it’s vital that you create a few key habits that are automatic – where you don’t have to invest mental and emotional energy in doing them.

B.J Fogg, a professor at Stanford who focuses on habits has created the Formula for Behavioral Change:

You need a reward The reward needs to be conducive to your goal. Rewarding yourself a six-pack of Coors Light and a large pepperoni and pineapple pizza after your workout probably isn’t the best look. Experiences usually work well for rewards. Things like a massages, watching the game uninterrupted, or blocking off some time read your novel are some examples.

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You need a process What are the daily routines that need to be in place to make the habit a reality? This will be different from person to person, but when it comes to health and fitness, meal prep and scheduling workout times are always in the picture. Given your lifestyle, create a practical process on what you’ll eat daily and when you’ll workout.

You need a trigger A best friend who texts you at 5 A.M. A personal trainer you check in with. Your alarm clock to go to bed (to make sure you get enough sleep). To establish healthy habits, set up triggers that remind you that the behavior needs to be executed. This relieves the fact that you will have to remember to engage the habit – instead the trigger is automated.

3. Design your environment

The harsh reality with trying to change your body and health by willpower alone is that you have to be on your best behavior at all times. You’re constantly relying on something that is fixed in capacity – and when it runs out you’re doomed.

Instead of fighting that exhaustive battle over and over again, consider designing your environment in way where you don’t have to lean into your decision making ability as much. In other words, design your home in a way where temptation to over-indulge is out of the question. After all, you are the one in control of what foods enter your home, right?

Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Lab Brand at Cornell University says this:

You’re three times more likely to eat the first food you see in the cupboard than than the fifth one.

In other words, if the Cheetos and Chocolate covered pretzels are easily visible and accessible, you’re probably going to eat those instead of the hummus and vegetable platter tucked away on the bottom shelf of your fridge.

If you have a ravenous craving for calorie dense foods and snacks, leave them out of the home. You can always indulge by going to a restaurant to have that fudge brownie sundae or monster bacon burger. Even then, when you splurge at a restaurant, it’s hard to let the wheels fall since you have to order multiple times in order to do so.

But if they aren’t in your home, you can’t eat them. Also, this forces you to stock your environment with healthy food. And when healthy food is all that is available, guess what? You eat healthy food.
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4. Get accountable to someone

Accountability is when people check up on each other to make sure they’ve taken the necessary actions they promised to take. But let me ask you this: Have you ever taken on a goal without telling anyone only to end up not making the goal a reality?

If so, I get it. I’ve done that too. It’s easy to skimp when nobody knows what you’re doing right?

But on the other side of this equation lies another question: Have you ever taken on a goal with strong accountability that produced a good result?

If so, I get it. I’ve done that too.

It’s painfully obvious that when we are accountable to someone, that we are more apt to carry out the necessary actions we vowed to take.

When someone is depending on you to follow through, expecting you to fulfill the commitment you’ve made and give your best effort, you’re far more likely to follow through on the behaviors you know you need to do.

When you’re alone, it’s easy to dig into the pint of ice cream and binge on The Office. Find a coach, mentor, or community that will keep you accountable.

5. Follow the 90/10 rule

You don’t need to eat boiled chicken and steamed broccoli every day. Unless of course, you want to.

But for most people, they crave what they can’t have. After a while of deprivation, cravings accumulate and the result is a lost of control.

Instead of restricting, think complying. Instead of setting certain foods off limits (these are often the ones you enjoy the most), vow to adhere to a certain compliance rate.

Meaning, you’ll adhere to following a healthy diet 90 percent of the time, leaving 10 percent for flexibility. By leaving some room for the occasional indulgence, the social events you attend and for the mental breathing room, you’ll equip yourself to sustain long-term success with your diet – instead of yo-yoing through crash diet after crash diet.

For example, if you prefer to eat three times a day, that’s 21 meals a week. Following the 90/10 rule you’ll adhere to eat 18 healthy meals a week, leaving some flexibility with the remaining meals of the week.

This is a realistic and practical way to quantify how well you’re eating every week.

Wrapping Up

Put these strategies into play and guard yourself against staring over and over again. Becoming your own fat loss coach certainly requires a pragmatic approach to calorie restriction and exercising. But you already know that. The margin for improvements can be found in the strategies you just learned. Don’t wait to employ them – your results are depending on them.

References

1) Schiller, Ben. “Your Willpower Won’t Help You Lose Weight, You Need To Change Your Environment.” Co.Exist | Ideas + Impact. Co.Exist, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.
2) Wansink, Brian. Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. N.p., 2014. Print.

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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.