Just the two words “body” and “fat” are enough to cause many people to agonize, despair, become frustrated, become stressed, and become anxious. (In fact, as I write this I’m working remotely in Puerto Vallarta and have so far resisted every temptation to eat out – except for some street tacos on occasion!) More than likely, if you’re noticing your own stash of body fat, you’re probably at the point of wanting to do something about it.
Gurrlll… you’re not alone! Each year, for better or for worse, many, MANY others seek to do the same. Some succeed, others give up, and still others outright fail.
But why does this happen?
Why is it so difficult for people to rid themselves of body fat? Well, let’s think about this just a little bit before we go any further. When it comes to reducing body fat (or when pursuing ANY goal for that matter – whether it’s fitness-related: flexibility, strength, cardio, balance, or something life-related) the first thing we’ve got to do is to be crystal clear as to the WHY.
This is no different than pursuing any other major life goal and your thought processes behind it. I’m talking:
- your bachelor’s degree
- your masters degree
- your PhD (?)
- your career
- your vacation
- your promotion
- your marriage
- your kids
- your car
- your house
- your retirement
- other major things in your life!
If you’re pursuing a reduction due to health concerns or because you know you’re at an unhealthy level, great. However, if you’re trying to reduce or eliminate body fat due to social pressure from others (real or perceived) or because of prior (or current) emotional or psychological trauma, you may want to visit with a counselor first. Either way, you should know (and be okay with) your reasons WHY.
This is BEFORE thinking about your exercise routine, BEFORE finding an eating plan, BEFORE making any changes to your diet, BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, you must be clear on your WHY.
Sadly, while this may be the information age, the amount of available information is rivaled by the sheer number of trolls, general interwebs noise, and MISinformation. All of these things easily cause distraction and angst. Carrying around some body fat is perfectly fine! So as a personal trainer, I do have a moral obligation to ask my clients to explain their reasoning when it comes to their goals. Once I’m certain THEY’RE certain, then we can get down to business.
So, are YOU clear on your reasoning? Then let’s move on…
Layers and Layers of… LIFE
You thought I was gonna say the “fat” word, didn’t you? Honey, you’re gonna have to first believe that the glorious (small, medium, large, or extra large) mid-section you proudly carry around with you has been YEARS in the making. So whether you like it or not, it will also take YEARS to get rid of! Let me say it a little louder for the people in the back… it will take YEARS to get rid of it! It IS possible to trim months from that timeline, but there is no shortcut!
Why does it have to be this way though?!
Short of you going under the knife for some drastic surgical procedure, that extra adipose tissue (fat) you’ve got is the result of LIFE, layers and layers of LIFE. I’m talking about:
- those extra glasses of wine (or beers) during your breakup with that now forgotten college “bro” (or girl) way-back-when
- the extra shots of tequila you downed while vacationing with the girls (or bros) in Cancun, Cabo, or Rosarito
- the wine tasting tours
- the pub crawls
- the club crawls
- the after parties
- the festivals
- the NEXT festival
- the circuit parties
- the Sunday fun day brunches
- the birthday dinners
- the engagement parties
- the bridal showers
- the bachelor parties
- the baby showers
- the office parties
- the office life
- the dinners out on the town
- and and and and… just LIFE!
These are all decisions we made (and continue to make), which resulted in actions we took (and continue to take), which then ultimately resulted in (and continues to result in) the extra and excess addition of stuff we no longer want.
The solution to burning off your unwanted fat begins inside your brain; not with what you eat nor with what exercises you should do. Your brain. To acquire all of those layers you no longer want, you had to live (and maybe are still living?) a certain lifestyle and honey, you know what? You’re gonna need to have to change that lifestyle to reverse it. We’re talking about behavior modification and once we acknowledge and accept that, then we can move on to the next thing…
OMG – the noise though! (audible and otherwise)
Things you see, things you hear, things you read, things people talk about, things people say, the “influencers,” the tea, the drama, and it just goes on and on and on, right?! Honey, I know… it’s even worse in the gay world. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter how good a grasp you’ve got on who you are and what your purpose is on this big ball of dirt and water; sometimes it’s just difficult to stay focused on health and fitness!
Over the last 10 years I’ve been training, the biggest challenge my clients typically face is how to deal with noise. They see things on CNN. They read things on NPR. They follow certain Instagram accounts. They do a lot of Google research. They watch YouTube videos. They do EVERYTHING except what they SHOULD be doing: focusing on their goal.
This is why I encourage everyone to be sure to clarify their goals! These days, it is SOOO damned easy to get distracted by the next shiny object that has to do with body fat (diets, pills, workouts, etc.). Don’t do it. Pro tip: If you’re clear about your goals, it’s much, much easier to stay focused on them!
Que plan? O, cual es el plan? (Translation: what’s the plan?)
In order to block out all of the external noise, the next step is to create a master plan; a master plan that includes:
- a mini-plan for your exercise
- a mini-plan for your eating
- a mini-plan for the workweek
- a mini-plan for the weekend
- and etc. etc. etc.
But don’t panic! It isn’t necessary to write ALL of this down. Odds are, you’ll have a handle on certain “layers” of your life. What we’re attempting to do is to make changes to layers which have caused you to add extra body fat (i.e.: too much alcohol and/or food, not enough exercise). Make sense?
Recipes for Life
The clearer you are with your goals and the more planning you do to run after those goals, the greater the odds of your success. Why? Because you’re basically following a recipe.
The PAST life recipe you followed called for more shots, cervezas, chardonnay, and birthday cake than was probably necessary. On top of that, exercise was probably lower on the list than it should have been, would you agree? In your NEW life recipe, we’re reducing the amounts of some of those ingredients while increasing others. You’ll still most definitely get to enjoy yourself from time to time, but we’re going to cut down on the frequency and/or quantity of the less healthy stuff while increasing the frequency and/or quantity of the healthy stuff. Make sense?
If you’re closely following the recipe, you’ll ex out that little pop-up for the next “great diet,” you’ll skim past that banner ad with the new fat loss supplement, you’ll see and move past that social media influencer with the six pack, and you’ll laugh, cry, cringe, or blink at the spilled tea in front of you and then you’ll get back to your recipe.
I know, I know… there’s a few (okay, a LOT) of you saying, “Biiiiitch… what about the parties, celebrations, and holidays?” To that, my response is, “Biiiiitch, it’s only a recipe, ain’t nobody holding a gun to your head!”
Recipes are a good framework!
But they aren’t the end all, be all.
Just with any other recipe, sometimes you HAVE to increase the amounts of some ingredients, add some of your own, or experiment with substitutes. It needs to include some of the things you like and enjoy so that it’s your recipe and you’ll want to own it!
Case and point – THE best (full fat) chocolate chip cookie recipe I ever found (hands down, fight with me), 1) didn’t have enough vanilla extract in it, 2) didn’t have any cinnamon in it, and 3) didn’t allow for a long enough baking time. So, do you think I just stuck with the recipe as it was?! Oh, gurl, HELLLLL no!
I changed it, but only by a little! Experienced cooks and bakers know that if you overdo anything, the flavor profile will change drastically, possibly alongside the consistency and texture. This alters your final result! We want the same result, if not better! But remember, you also want some spice, some character, and a little flavor in your recipe so that some of your personality (your life) is in it.
In other words, stick to the plan when it comes to the routine, day-to-day kinds of things. When the holidays and celebrations and wine tasting tours and other life things come around (and they always do), you’ll have the wiggle room to enjoy yourself without completely throwing you off because you planned for them! So think of your plan, but don’t be afraid to add a few extra dashes of adult beverages and/or bar food into that plan so you can enjoy your life the way it was meant to be enjoyed!
When it comes to burning off unwanted body fat, you’ll need to start upstairs with your mindset. Your brain tells your body what to do:
- be clear about your goal
- be clear about the reasons behind it
- solidify it
- ask questions (not Dr. Google)
- get help, talk to a certified personal trainer
- create a plan
- write down what needs to be written down to reinforce it
Remember to include a good amount of accountability into your plan (your new life recipe); you want gentle reminders to stick to your goal.
Moral of the story? You’re in control! You very likely have an idea of what you need to do to get to get rid of body fat. Your body will do what your brain tells it to do, just trust and listen to yourself a little more. 😉