As I was looking back at a recent success case that resulted in a HUGE transformation for my client, I found 4 fundamental principles that were crucial to his success. My client Patrick (pictured below) lost 20 pounds and dropped 11% body fat in about 4 months. It was an amazing transformation that you can read all about here.
Today’s post will take a look behind the scenes to show you exactly how we were able to make this dramatic change. It wasn’t sexy and it certainly didn’t happen quickly. And it sure didn’t include any special diet or magic pill.
It was about making good choices, as often as possible. Being a little more aware of your surroundings and making a little change and nailing that small change every single time. And most importantly, it was all about the journey, the process and falling in love with that slow and steady progress, every day, every week and every year.
Here are the 4 main principles that we used to produce such amazing results. The best part is that you can apply these 4 principles to your life right now. Let’s go:
1) The Power Of A Food Journal
Why? Because it brings awareness which is step #1 in the change process.
As Bruce Lee simply says, “To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.”
A food journal does just that.
You might be thinking to yourself, oh yeah, I eat pretty healthy. Ok, I say. Sounds great. Now show me with your food journal. All of sudden things get a little interesting.
As I mentioned in a recent post here about Patrick and his transformation of losing 11% body fat, before working together, Patrick was completely unaware about what he was eating and drinking on a daily and weekly basis. Once we were able to see what was going on, we had a much clearer picture on how to move forward.
Food journals are a great tool for many reasons, but the most important reason is that it brings awareness to what we are putting in our body.
Try it out for yourself. Grab a piece of paper and write down everything that you eat and drink for 3 days straight. When filling out your 3-day food journal, there is no such thing as a “bad” food or “good” food for right now. The journal is simply a tool to assess where you are right now. That’s it. Before you can make any intelligent change, you have to know where are you right now. That is the power of the food journal. And if you’re having serious resistance to even the thought of writing down your food for 3 days, don’t worry, that’s totally natural. It’s a lot less painful than you think, especially when you strip any of the judgements from it. It’s nothing more than an objective picture of what is – that’s it. You got this.
2) Lifting Heavy Weights With Proper Form
Lifting weights combined with a good nutrition plan is the #1 way to shed fat, look great, and have lots of energy. Can you drop some weight by doing cardio? Of course you can. There are hundreds of various ways to burn calories and lose weight. Most of them will work in the short-term. But relying solely on cardio and diet will not produce the body composition changes that most people are after.
The most efficient tool in shedding fat and keeping muscle tissue is strength training with moderate to heavy weights. Not only do you get a caloric boost after you train with moderate to heavy weight (up to 48 hours of after burn effect), but more importantly, you release various hormones that help retain muscle mass and signal fat burning.
Over the long-run, building and maintaining your muscle will give you a distinct metabolic advantage over someone who is the same bodyweight but with less muscle. You’ll burn more calories at rest (because muscle tissue is more active than fat) and therefore be able to stay lean without trying too hard. You’ll also be stronger so that the daily activities of life become easier. And with some muscle and a lower body fat, you’ll achieve a “toned” look that everyone desires.
Patrick was doing a lot of cardio before we met, around 5 times per week. We kept 1 to 2 cardio sessions, but we switched out the other cardio workouts with strength training in the gym. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, and pull ups were the foundation of our training plan. Patrick’s body responded very well to these exercises, and he was able to put about 10 lbs. of muscle in a few months.
3) Slow Eating
If you’ve ever been so hungry you just chow food over your kitchen counter, you certainly know about fast eating. You look at the clock and less than 1 minute has gone by. Holy smokes that was fast. I know, we all get to that point sometimes, it happens.
But if you were to really try and focus on slow eating, it will completely change your eating habits. Not only does healthy food taste better when you slow down to savor each bite, you’ll notice that you’ll eat considerably less food when you eat slower. By eating slowly, you’re allowing your gut ample time to signal to the brain that you’re full. This normally takes about 10-20 minutes for all the satiety signals to make it to the brain. With slow eating, a plate of food becomes wonderfully satisfying. You are completely satiated and cravings seem to vanish.
But the best part about eating slowly is that is has NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT YOU EAT. It could be a plate of veggies with grilled fish or a gigantic plate of nachos – It doesn’t matter. Eating slowly ONLY REFERS TO HOW YOU EAT.
Because of this, it’s one of the simplest tools I use. A few strategies to make the execution of slow eating easier:
- Never eat alone. Try to eat with company and tell at least 1 story during the meal.
- Here’s a fun one – replace your fork with a set of chopsticks.
- Make a game out of it. Set a timer. Place a bet with your partner. Whatever it is, make it fun.
With Patrick, he had a few bad habits around eating meals in front of the TV or at his desk at work. As we mentioned, eating while distracted is a one sure-fire way to overeat. When we timed each meal, Patrick was taking only about 5 minutes to eat each meal. We started with a small increase of 2 minutes, up to 7 minutes per meal. Once we hit that goal, we upped it 10 minutes. The goal was to get to 15 minutes which we were able to get to after a few months.
4) Focusing On One Meal At A Time
If you’ve ever tried to change your diet or add healthier options, you might have noticed how challenging it is. Most of us KNOW what to eat; it’s the EXECUTION that’s the challenging part.
Life gets in the way. I know.
Our solution with Patrick was to focus on one meal at a time. We started with the easiest one – breakfast. I didn’t even talk about lunch, dinner or even snacks. Not only did we just focus on breakfast, we broke it down into an even smaller task – to change 1 aspect of his breakfast. That is it. One change. We focused on something so simple that his chances of success were almost 100%.
Patrick was eating granola with fruit, juice, and coffee with milk and sugar – a pretty typical “healthy breakfast”.
All we did was take out the granola and replaced it with 2-3 eggs. Simple. Once Patrick felt 100% comfortable getting breakfast right every single day, then we moved on to something else.
Remember, habits take time to set in. The biggest problem I see people make is that they try and do too much at once. It goes well for a short period of time, but because there is so much change, there’s no time to ingrain the good habit. Motivation wanes, willpower runs out and they most likely fall back into their old habits.
This habit change is the foundation of how our coaching works. It’s so vital. I hope you got some good information out of this post. These are 4 foundations of fat loss that work with everyone I’ve ever had the change to help.
If you want more fat loss tools, daily coaching from us, and become part of an awesome community of peeps making the same changes you are, check out our Stronger and Leaner In 30 Days Program that’s starting on January 16, 2017.