For the last year or so, I have been hovering comfortably at about 132 pounds and 22% body fat. And that has been just fine for me. I felt great in my bikini, I had loads of energy to surf and play tennis, and although I was eating clean 85% of the time, I was not depriving myself of foods that I wanted such as (dark chocolate, wine, occasional dessert) or restricting my calories. My fitness and nutrition routine was essentially in autopilot. Totally do-able. Totally sustainable.
Four months ago I came across this awesome info graphic by Precision Nutrition named The Cost of Getting Lean that TOTALLY inspired me. This info graphic details exactly what you have to do and give up (tradeoffs) to get lean and also how it becomes progressively harder to lose body fat as you become leaner and leaner. You should check it out – it’s super cool!
I decided right then and there that I would challenge myself to see if I could up level my own personal game. Could I get leaner? Could I find a way to continue to enjoy eating without deprivation or restriction and still lose body fat? This became my charge.
So I set off on my journey almost immediately. After I read the article, I immediately grabbed my running shoes and headed out for a 3-mile beach run. One thing this article talks about is what you need to do more of to achieve certain results. I quickly realized I needed to challenge my fitness regimen in a new and different way.
Adding a beach run, if that isn’t something you typically do (which was the case for me) can be an intense challenge. First off, I was running under the sun that was radiating heat, a lot of it – like at 90 degrees. Running on sand versus solid ground challenges your legs and conditioning in a different way too. I almost couldn’t complete the run my first time. I seriously had to push myself. Anyway this was step 1, day 1 in my quest to up level my fitness and nutrition regimen.
Fast forward 3.5 months later and my results are unbelievable… at least to me:). I would have never predicted the success I had and how getting there would feel and look so much different than I imagined.
Here are my results. Body Fat: 17.4% Weight: 126 Total inches lost: 8
Looking back at how I was able to pull this off and stay at it for 3.5 months (and still going), I realize it wouldn’t have been possible without these 4 essential ingredients. I want to share these with you in hopes it will inspire you to go after your fitness goals and give you a framework to use to guarantee your success.
1) Get inspired
This is where it all began for me. Without genuinely being inspired, I am not sure I would have been moved to action. Like I said, I was content with where I was. But reading that article really struck a chord with me and gave me the spark to create a new goal and go after it. Find your own inspiration and let it propel you into action.
2) Chart your Course by TRACKING
Logging numbers has never been my strong suit. I found it tedious, boring, and didn’t get the point. Now I do!
I TRACKED my progress in 2 ways.
- Weekly measurements – arm, waist, hip, chest, calf, thigh, weight, body fat%
- Daily Tracking of my food through Lose It.
I started off by taking all my measurements so I had a clear picture of where I was at. It’s important to measure a few body parts so you can get an accurate picture of where you are starting from.
It’s also nice to monitor a few body parts over time, because some body parts will lose inches more easily than others depending on your genetics. For example, the last place I lose body fat from is my stomach, my body really holds on to it there. If I had only monitored my waistline after 1 month I would have shown no progress as my waistline didn’t change.
However with all these measurements I could see that I lost 1.2% body fat and 3.25 inches other places in my body. What I was doing was working, I was shedding fat but just not yet in my waistline. To me this is an extremely powerful benefit of tracking. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen the progress elsewhere, I probably would have determined what I was doing wasn’t working and given up.
Daily Food Log
This is so eye opening. Take it from me, what you think you are eating and what you are actually eating is not always the same. The only real way to tell is by logging what you eat. Every. Single. Thing. That includes things we can easily forget about like the oil food was cooked in, butter added, salad dressing, sauces, condiments and even fruit. This stuff all seems harmless but it adds up.
I used a website called Lose It that I highly recommend. You can input what you eat and it will give you the nutritional content breakdown (fat, carb, protein) and calories instantly. It’s a great tool to use to monitor what you eat and also see what a plate of food becomes when it is inside your body. Totally cool, and it’s free. Check it out here. (There are other services out there too that you can use, which is fine, this is just my favorite). It takes 5 minutes or less for me to log a meal, so no excuses about time:).
Like I mentioned before, my eating was already pretty healthy. (Or at least I thought so). I was eating loads of veggies, plenty of protein, and rarely eating breads or flour-based products. But once I started tracking my daily food intake I was in for an awakening.
I was eating too many calories. Healthy foods add up too, and can put on weight or in my case keep you in a plateau.
So I reduced my total intake of calories. Now at first I thought I might be super hungry, but what I ended up realizing was that I was eating WAY too fast. Once I slowed down and took 15-20 minutes to eat my plate of food I was full before finishing. I swear this has been the biggest change to how I eat. I can NOT underestimate the value of forming this habit. (I’ll also be writing a post on eating slow so be on the lookout.)
The other thing I didn’t do was restrict certain food. While I definitely monitored my overall calorie intake and the quality of those calories, I didn’t deprive myself of any certain food. If I wanted a glass of wine, I planned for it or if I wanted to have a few tortilla chips with guacamole I ate them paying attention to my satisfaction and portion size. Feeling like I wasn’t restricting myself from my favorite foods made it easy to stay the course.
3) Changing It Up
If you already workout and have a routine you follow, that’s great. But you have to change it up. Our bodies are efficient machines that are able to adjust when necessary. In order to break through a plateau or get results you’ve got to do something different. You can either add more activity or increase the level of difficulty to your training routine.
In my case I choose to both.
I was already super active – surfing, playing tennis, and weight lifting numerous times a week. But my body got used to this, and while I was not gaining weight, I certainly wasn’t losing any either.
So I added a daily 3-mile beach run which challenged my body and increased my overall activity level. I also integrated pull up training into my weight training routine to increase the level of difficulty. I had never trained my upper body in this way and this added stimulus was just what I needed to break through this plateau. Before this pull up training I could never do a hanging pull up on my own — now I can do 4!
4) Get Support
Everyone needs a coach. Serena Williams the #1 ranked tennis player in the world has a coach. I guarantee you her coach isn’t better at playing tennis or know more about the game then her. But what her coach can do is keep her focused, help her adjust things she may not realize she is doing, and give her an objective opinion. These are all critical components of improving and getting better.
Nick was my coach – supporting me, guiding me, and encouraging me to keep going. If Nick wasn’t there along the way, I am positive I would have lost focus after Month 1 when my waist hadn’t changed. But seeing the other results and his support kept me moving forward. I also felt accountable to him – which is another powerful motivator.
He also encouraged me to track everything in Lose It (especially at the beginning when I experienced some resistance) and he took my measurements with me each week, which was key. Some weeks I felt like I had made no progress at all. But the numbers always reflected some progress, had I not been tracking I would have not known. This is why tracking and having a coach are total game changers!
So to recap:
You have a certain health, fitness, or physique goal?
Here’s what to do.
Step 1: Get inspired! While you are inspired, take action immediately. Do something in that moment that will bring you one step closer to your goal. (For me, in that moment, I put on my running shoes and headed out for a beach run)
Step 2: Chart you course. Log your starting point, measure along the way, and track your food. This is how you take control of your destiny and understand what is going on with your body.
Step 3: Change it up. You’ve got to increase your overall activity or level of difficulty to get results.
Step 4: Get Support. Everyone needs help when they set out on a journey. Get a coach, a friend, someone to help you stay accountable to yourself and cheer you on along the way. And besides it’s way more FUN!
Again, the point of this post is NOT to impress you, but further impress upon you this simple truth: If I can do it so can you!
Ignore the little voices in your head telling you:
- You’re not good enough
- You’re not fit enough
- You’re not disciplined enough
- You’re not motivated
- You don’t have enough time
- You can’t afford it
- You can’t…(fill in the blank)
And go after your goals anyway. Be strong!
True strength comes from having the courage to go after what you want despite the voices in your head telling you No.
If you have a friend or family member who can benefit from this story, I encourage you to share it with them on facebook or by email. Sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration to take the first step. A simple YES!
P.S. If you’re ready to get the results you’re after, we’re opening slots to our 30-Day Fat Loss Program on January 20th, where we focus on helping you get fit and shed fat. If you want more details and to qualify for first access and exclusive discounts put your name on the list here.