Few things will try your patience like working hard in the gym and the kitchen for a week or two with nothing to show for it.
Optimizing fat loss is somewhat complex. In it’s most basic form, however, the formula for fat loss isn’t that complicated.
Burn more calories than you consume on a consistent basis and you’re going to lose body fat. It’s a simple formula, but following it consistently can be a challenge.
If we’re not careful, there are several things that can easily sabotage our fat loss efforts by killing our ability to consistently maintain a negative energy balance.
This becomes the case even more so when our bodies are fairly lean and we’re working on shedding those last few percentage points of body fat.
There are literally dozens of fat loss inhibiting culprits I could list. So, I’m going to focus on five of the most common culprits and then give you the opportunity to add some of your own to the list when I’m done.
Inability to Control Hunger
There’s an inevitable result that occurs when we’re expending more calories than we’re ingesting on a daily basis. That result is hunger.
Sure, there are things we can do to mitigate our hunger, like eating more green foods and vegetables that are high on substance and low on calories. Eventually, though, the process of maintaining a caloric deficit is going to catch up to us and we’re going to feel hungry.
How one deals with their hunger is often a make or break proposition. Resisting the temptation to gorge on food will teach us that hunger is only temporary, can be resisted, and isn’t going to kill us.
Giving in to hunger, however, can be a crushing defeat because it teaches us that our hunger has control over our actions and that our goals are no match for our carnal desires.
This is, of course, a bunch of nonsense. But until we’ve defeated a few bouts of hunger, and emerged victorious on the other side, this is the message we’re subconsciously feeding our psyche. And it will wreak havoc on our progress if we let it.
Not Measuring Progress
No matter what the goal may be, measuring progress along the way is an indispensable component in the blueprint for success (don’t use flawed BMI calculations, by the way).
We can’t possibly know if what we’re doing is having the desired effect if we don’t have a reliable means of measuring our progress.
The simplest way for anyone to measure their fat loss results is by using nothing more than a scale and a tape measure. Track your body weight and stomach circumference on a weekly basis.
Many people are amazed at the impact regularly measuring results has on their fat loss results simply because it holds them accountable.
Another reason regularly measuring progress is so powerful is that it allows us the opportunity to change things up when needed. Whenever your fat loss plateaus and your measurements stagnate, it isn’t an occasion for panic. It’s simply an indication that a change is needed to get back to maintaining a negative energy balance.
As I explain in my book, Ripped Out, you can do this by reducing your calories, increasing your caloric expenditure through exercise, or both.
Still, without measuring progress, this rather simple strategy for identifying and overcoming plateaus or slowdowns in fat loss just isn’t possible.
Failing To Track Calories
As annoying and inconvenient as it may be, you need to know how many calories you’re consuming each day. Otherwise, you’ll have no way of knowing how to adjust your diet when your fat loss measurements indicate the need for a change.
With all the apps and online food databases at our fingertips it’s never been easier to monitor what we’re eating.
Simply put, knowing what we’re putting into our bodies empowers us to make decisions that will progress us toward our goals instead of blindly drifting away from them without even knowing it.
For more on tracking your food intake, read my posting: Why You Should Spend Some Time Tracking Your Food.
Being Unable To Say No
It’s hard enough to discipline ourselves when we only have to answer to ourselves. But we also have to deal with those who mean the most to us in this world exerting their pressure and influence to divert us away from behaving in ways that are consistent with our goals.
We can give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they mean well. They likely just don’t understand that joining them for a lunch buffet or appetizers after work isn’t the fun-filled proposition for us that it might be for them.
They don’t get that because it’s a setback from what’s important to us, we can’t oblige their invitation in good conscience.
Because they don’t get it, they’ll sometimes take offense when we decline their invitations. You may even get a few haters who will criticize or ridicule, but who cares? Why let the insecurities of others bring you down and keep you from the goals that are important to you?
There have been many victims brought down by the negative influences of those around them. Learn to say no and ignore the haters or you’ll soon be the next.
Feeling like a failure will thwart your motivation faster than Kanye West whining about losing a Grammy to Taylor Swift.
No matter what your goals or expectations are, nothing positive can come from allowing self-pity and feelings of failure to defeat you (reminder: all goals plunge to their deaths without this…).
We’re all human and disappointment is a normal first reaction when things don’t work out the way we had hoped or expected. But, we can take great strides to save ourselves from having to endure the pain of disappointment by having realistic expectations.
Set realistic goals, track your calories (or macros), measure your progress, celebrate small accomplishments along the way, adjust the action plan when needed, say no to distractions, ignore the haters, and don’t let your hunger control you.
As I mentioned earlier, this list could have been much longer. I’d love to hear what you’d add to this list in the comments section below.
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