I’ve been in a fat loss phase since the beginning of the year. There have been periods of maintenance in there, but for the better part of the last 7 months, I’ve been cutting calories.
After the holidays I wanted to lose some of the extra body fat I had accumulated. Plus I knew summer would be here soon ;).
While it wasn’t easy, I did manage to drop over 25lbs since the start of the year.
This post isn’t to show off my progress or to get pats on the back but rather a chance for me to help you with your own fat loss journey.
I’d like to highlight some of the most important things I learned along the way to help you lose fat, gain strength, and get one step closer to the body you want.
Understand Why You Want to Get Leaner
First things first. You need to acknowledge why you want to get lean in the first place. Too many people kid themselves with why losing body fat is important to them.
My reasons might differ slightly than yours, but probably not.
Let’s face it: we all want to get leaner to look good.
The truth is, getting leaner will do more than just make you look good. It’ll improve your health, energy, motivation, self-confidence and desire to dominate life.
So in a way, improving the way you look and feel is a huge benefit to other aspects as well.
So be up front with yourself and your real reasons for wanting to get leaner. If you know from the beginning you want to look better for the beach, or because losing weight will give you more self-confidence then go for it 100%.
#1 It Takes Work…Like A Lot of Work
Social media and multi-level-marketing schemes have led many people to believe a 6-pack is only a few weeks away.
Well, it’s BS.
They’ll lead you to believe a couple minutes a day of working out and taking their special weight loss formula will get you results in no time.
Unfortunately, it’s not realistic or the truth.
Getting substantial results will take time. A lot of time.
Don’t be discouraged, though. The sooner you realize your goals will take lots of hard work, patience, and time, the better off you’ll be.
Don’t give yourself a false sense of what it will actually take to lose those 15lbs.
Set goals for 3 months, 6 months, 1 year. Depending on your goals, it may take a full year to accomplish them.
I’ll let you in on a little secret…most people will need longer than 3 months to achieve what they want. That’s just the truth of the matter.
Hard work isn’t an option if you are serious about getting results. You simply have to put in the time and effort.
#2 Progress Isn’t Always Linear
Losing 1lb/week every single week of a diet would be perfect. Except this never happens.
Some weeks might be closer to 2lbs, while others may show no change in weight.
Quite similar to strength gains, losing weight is not a linear process. There are peaks and valleys. Highs and lows.
Here’s a snapshot of my weigh-ins since the beginning of the year when I did my first cut:
As you can see, it’s not a perfectly smooth line. There are ups and downs sprinkled throughout.
This is 100% normal.
Once I learned to embrace this over the course of my diet, I stressed less about my weigh-ins and focused more on the trends from week to week rather than worrying too much about one single weigh-in.
Most recently, I did a 12-week cut as shown below.
The trend is down. But what about the outliers and spikes in weight?
Well, no diet is perfect. And it doesn’t have to be. I understood there would be fluctuations.
Even if I stuck to my diet 100% my weight could still be higher than I expected at times.
So my advice to you?
Track your weigh-ins over a period of time. Don’t freak out if your weight spikes one day because it’s more than likely an outlier. If you’re trending down over weeks and months then you’re doing something right.
#3 Your Secret Weapon is Consistency
If I could give you one and only one tip that would benefit you the most it would be this: you’ve got to be consistent over the entire duration of your diet.
Your results don’t come from one workout or one healthy meal.
The progress will come when you do the right things consistently over and over again.
A lot of people really overlook the value of consistency but it really is super important. I wouldn’t have achieved sub 10% body fat and gotten the leanest I’ve ever been had it not been for my consistency.
The results will happen. I can guarantee it. But you have to be willing to put in the work time and time again. Not just when you feel like it. You can’t train every now and then and expect drastic changes. You can’t eat a good diet 2-3 days a week and forget the other 4-5 days.
Your efforts need to be consistent. Think of it like this: each time you hit your workout when you’re supposed to, or eat a quality meal that fits your nutrition requirements you get to put a penny in the piggy bank.
At first, you’ll only have a few pennies in the piggy bank.
But by the end of your diet, the piggy bank will (should) be overflowing from consistent penny deposits.
#4 You Don’t Have to Become a Hermit
No diet is perfect. And 100% strict compliance every second of the day isn’t required to get great results.
I’ll be honest, I used to stress a little if I had plans during the weekend because I thought I’d fall off my diet a little bit.
I worried about going out to eat.
Or screwing up my diet by drinking alcohol.
(Both of which I did throughout my cut.)
And that’s no fun at all. I’m not saying losing body fat should be tons of fun and super easy because it’s not.
I’m saying you can still get incredible results while enjoying the occasional off meal or night out.
This is the really cool part: you are in control of what you eat and drink.
If you have super lofty goals and want to get to 5% bodyfat then you probably don’t have the wiggle room to be partying and going to country concerts (they’re so fun, though).
However, if your goal is to enjoy yourself, do fun stuff and get leaner in the process then you can still fit social activities into the overall plan.
The magnitude of your goals should dictate your actions. There will always be tradeoffs in which you must decide if what you’re doing is worth it. Whether it’s going out to crush pizza, drinking with buddies, or making dinner at home.
It’s up to you to decide.
#5 Create Better Habits
I thought my nutritional habits were pretty good before I dieted.
While they were, I definitely learned to appreciate how powerful developing good habits could positively impact my progress.
I weighed my food, portioned out what I needed, and made consistent progress.
I also became more disciplined, accountable, and aware.
If you think about it, it’s pretty cool to make a goal and follow it to the end. I was chatting with a buddy last weekend and we were talking about my recent progress. I told him I had set a goal to get to 175lbs by the end of the diet.
My lowest weigh-in was 174.2lbs. The feeling of reaching my goal proved to be worth it in the end.
When you go through a fat loss phase you learn how to eat on the go. You learn how to be flexible with your nutrition to allow for a treat every now and then.
You learn which aspects you should worry about more than others (calories, protein).
And most importantly you develop an appreciation for what it really takes to get the results you want. The neat thing is, once you’ve gotten leaner, you can maintain your new bodyweight for a long time because you’ve developed great habits to help sustain your progress.
#6 More Than Just Appearance
Here’s my progress since the beginning of the year. The top left I was weighing in right at 200lbs. Bottom left was the end of my most recent diet where I got down to 174 and change. The photo on the right is the same weight, flexed obviously 😉
While I feel great about the progress I’ve made physique wise, appearance wasn’t my only motivation.
I feel more confident, have more energy, and feel motivated to go for other goals now. I’m excited to gain strength at this lower body weight to be more competitive when I compete in powerlifting again.
Best of all I have personal experience I can use to relate to my online coaching clients to better help them towards their own fat loss goals.
Feeling better about how you look is important but it’s not the only positive that comes from getting leaner.
#7 Do the Basics Really, Really Well
You can set goals.
You can talk all you want about what you want.
And you can tell everyone about what you’re going to do.
But none of it matters until you go and do it.
“Talk is cheap and actions speak.” My dad used to tell me this all the time. I don’t remember where he got it but it’s true.
I learned more than ever if I wanted to slash my body fat I was going to have to put my money where my mouth was.
A lot more doing and a lot less talking.
For me, this meant doing the basics really well.
Training consistently. Putting in the work in the gym.
Eating right consistently. Not being perfect with the diet but as a whole doing things right.
Getting quality sleep.
Making my goal the priority.
My goal was to focus on fat loss. So that’s what I did.
I didn’t worry about trying to add 50lbs to my bench press. Or whether I could hit all time PRs in the gym.
Because it wasn’t the goal at the time.
Instead, I focused on training and eating for my goals and doing those things as well as I possibly could.
If you want to maximize your fat loss progress, take action and put all of your attention on doing the basics really, really well.
At the end of the day, it always comes back to the basics. Keep training hard, eating right, and doing the basics really well and in 12 weeks time, you’ll be much closer towards your ultimate goals.
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