I’m often asked what the best ways to lose weight are. Everyone knows the over-simplified responses “Eat less and exercise more” and “Stay away from sweets and fatty foods”. They’re both true statements if those happen to be areas of opportunity for you, personally.
But, generally speaking, a more useful response addresses potential areas for improvement for each individual. If you’re a 20+ mile/week runner, chances are you don’t need more aerobic exercise (although there may be more efficient and effective ways to lose fat). And if your diet consists of mostly produce, whole grains and lean protein, it’s unlikely you need to be more mindful of your food choices.
So, below, assuming you are already doing pretty well in both areas of accumulating a decent amount of exercise each week and eating mostly nutrient-dense, rather than calorie-dense food, is a list of hot spots you may be overlooking that should melt off the excess baggage you’re carrying around:
- Back-loading intake - eating the highest volume and calorie concentration late in the day when you’re burning the lowest amount of energy
- Forgetting to push yourself during workouts to 80% or more in intensity to raise your fitness level
- Not drinking enough water - critical to optimal fat burning
- Neglecting to recruit the full body for as many of your fitness activities as possible which raises calorie use
- Making vegetables less than 25% of your food intake
- Not taking small bites and chewing them thoroughly, which aids digestion and slows intake at meals and snacks
- Including unequal portions of cardio, strength and core work - missing the reward of balance and time-efficient workouts
- Eating for reasons other than strictly because your body actually needs the food you're consuming
The last one is the hardest to be honest with yourself about, and the most important.
A popular and effective healing practice encourages one to do a fearless and exhaustive moral inventory to uncover habits that are self-destructive and block healthy growth. You might consider the above list the fat loss equivalent.
But if you have the drive and conviction, clearing these obstacles will flatten your belly and improve your mastery of your body.
Dan is a nationally certified personal fitness trainer and former continuing education faculty member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He is the owner and head trainer at Tri Valley Trainer, which provides personal and small group fitness training and nutrition guidance. He can be reached at Dan@TriValleyTrainer.com.