Friday, June 11, 2010

Body Fat Frustrations


The other day my friend emailed me because he was frustrated about his lack of progress in his quest for lower body fat. I thought I would share some of my advice with you as I think the same frustrations he has been going through plague so many of us.

It is important to remember that our bodies are as individual as our personalities, so there is no one "cookie cutter" diet, method, routine, or formula that will work for everyone, you need to find what works for you. The same goes for your training, your body is different so some people are better at squats, some are better at deadlifts (I am built for deadlifting).

I happen to consider myself quite an expert on my own body and my ability to lose bodyfat, I can drop it fast and drop it all to the point that it is rather frightening how I can control it. The part I have not yet quite mastered, is how to time it exactly where I need it, how to "peak" as they say at the right time, I tend to get on a roll and keep losing. This is actually a very difficult art and many have worked for years to arrive at that perfect state, for one fleeting day.

Don’t be impatient. It took you years to gain that fat, don't expect it to go away overnight :)

Don’t follow a new “diet" for only one week and expect changes, you have to give your body time to make adjustments.

Don’t cut calories way back, 1700 calories isn't even enough to sustain a woman, do you want to lose it the healthy way or a crash diet and then gain it all back?

Carbs are your friend, crap is your foe! Many people immediately jump to the conclusion that they are eating too many carbs and that is why they are not losing bodyfat. What kind of carbs are you eating hmmm??? Seriously you should eat carbs (or actually starchy carbs) at every meal except your last meal before bed, and if you are not seriously weight training, or engaging in some strenuous form of exercise daily, you may not be one of those people (like me) who really should eat immediately before bed...

With that said, be careful how you reduce your starches. You can cut your rice at every meal back to 1/2 a cup (that's what I eat) and if you are a man, you will lose, you will lose lean body mass very, very quickly. You will be skinnier and have little muscle, not a very good look. Most men need more calories than women.

If you are convinced it is your carb intake that is the culprit, don't guess, calculate your carb grams a day to get a better idea, it may not be the rice that's causing you the problem, it could be carbs somewhere else that you do not realize. It could be sugars that are your problem. If you have two cocktails you have already messed it up...make sure you lay off alcohol for at least a month to get an idea and if you want to be serious, lay off the booze altogether, at least make a drink an occasion and not a daily habit.

It could be the timing of your foods. So calculate everything you are eating for a week and the time of day or night you are eating it. Protein, carbs, fats, sugars. Write it down, write down the times, note when you get hungry and it's not time to eat yet. I would be happy to look at it and offer advice.

Have a re-feed day once a week where you eat more than you normally would such as a big burger (LEAN meat) with a real bun, a few fries, no mayo (or use low fat) to kick start your metabolism. You also may need this mental and emotional boost, and if you are not actually competing in something anyway, it’s not going to hurt you. You cannot deprive yourself for long unless you have a specific goal and date, or you are setting yourself up to fail.

Vary your foods; try to incorporate as many different things as possible. Some bodies need the variety; some can hum along without it. I make sure I eat three different types of starches a day, oats, rice, sweet potatoes. Eat lots of vegetables, eat more of those than anything, they fill you up, provide nutrients and little calories.

Change your workout, don't keep doing the same thing everyday, months on end. Your body adapts very quickly. That machine telling you that you are burning 300 calories is probably only 50% accurate. If you can read while you are exercising, you are not exercising! Try interval training, you can do this on an elliptical, treadmill, at a track.

Don't weigh yourself everyday, try weekly at most.

How do your clothes fit? Better? The same? If they are fitting better screw the scale, just go by how you look and how the clothes fit.

Be patient, it takes a long time, that's why most people fail; they do not give it enough time. If you have messed up your system with loads of alcohol and fatty food for ages, you need to give it time to recover and start being efficient.

I am not trying to be brutal, but it's not easy, it's freaking hard and harder to maintain, I feel like giving up quite frequently. That is why you do not see people walking around looking like a Greek god everyday.

Find someone you can share it all with, a training partner, someone at work, a friend, online social sites if that works for you. Read my blog and ask for help!

It takes a great deal of time, dedication, experimentation, disappointment, research, frustration and an extremely motivated personality. Figure out what is driving you to make these changes, if your reasons are important enough to you, you will do what it takes.