Losing unwanted body fat is something many of us struggle with at some point.
When unhappy with how we look, it is tempting to want to shed kilos as quickly as possible. However, losing more than 1% of your body weight per week can be unhealthy and even dangerous (Davis, 2021). Healthy weight loss takes time, consistency and adherence to new habits – all of which are largely dependent on individual behaviour.
If you are on a fat loss journey, it is important to get the support you need to accelerate the process in a safe and healthy manner, so to get you started here are some potential issues that might be hindering your weight loss goals and some great strategies to deal with them.
1. You’re social… and popular
Company lunches. Catch-up dinners with ex-colleagues. After-work drinks with friends. Sunday brunch with your partner. Then there are birthdays, weddings and festive periods. While these are wonderful occasions to bond with loved ones, they provide tempting opportunities to overindulge or to eat the wrong things.
We know how difficult it gets when there is a cheerful flow of conversation, food and drinks, and perhaps generous, diet-dismissing relatives on a mission to feed you.
How then can we enjoy the company of family and friends and still honour our goals?
- Decide which events are really worth your time and energy. You don’t have to say yes to everything.
- Choose a venue that supports you. If you are going to be eating with friends or family, suggest a new place that has healthier food options so you can eat well and still enjoy the company.
- Be prepared. Sometimes, you will have no control over the venue and food options. In these instances, your winning strategy is to know how to confidently make the best food choices for yourself. Working with a FENIX Coach can help you understand the main macronutrients in foods and how to budget enough calories for a meal out so you still stay within your daily caloric limit.
2. You love food
Kaya toast for breakfast. Laksa for lunch. Korean BBQ for dinner. Giving in to your cravings too often can be the largest obstacle to fat loss. In order to lose body fat healthily, you need to be at a reasonable calorie deficit, meaning that the amount of calories you consume over the course of a day or week needs to be less than the amount of calories your body uses for exercise and daily activity in that period (Hurford & Marie, 2023).
The key to tackling this obstacle is accepting that something about the way you have been eating needs to change. Most people mistakenly believe that exercising a few times a week is a passport to eat what they like and get away with it. However, this is not true. You can’t out-run your dinner plate.
While resistance training two to three times a week and increasing your daily step count are great habits to build, if you are regularly consuming food and alcohol without control and your weight is not going down, then you are consuming more calories than your body is burning.
- Identify the ‘Why’. Why are you motivated to lose body fat? Is it for health reasons? Do you want to be fit and active when your children grow up? Or perhaps you want to be strong and able-bodied to enjoy travelling and exploring the world when you are older? Once you know your ‘Why’, use that as an anchor in almost any situation where it is challenging to act in support of your goals.
- Educate yourself. Know what your food is made of. How much carbohydrate, fat and protein does it contain? Once you have good advice on how much of each food type your body needs in a day, you can find better substitutes for fat supporting foods you commonly eat.
- Plan your meals and shop for groceries wisely. Have lower-calorie snack options available at home, such as low-fat high-protein yoghurt, cottage cheese, jerky, rice crackers and fruit for when you need a snack. Too busy or just don’t enjoy preparing meals? Subscribe to a meal service so you know you are staying within your caloric window for the day.
- Adopt the 80-20 approach. Aim for consistency 80% of the time and give yourself room to enjoy the foods you love in moderation for the other 20%. Trying to be perfectly on track every day can add excessive pressure and make you less likely to stick to your newly-forming food habits. Many people associate ‘diet’ with suffering and restriction. This is the all or nothing approach. The good news is that there is a middle ground of balance and moderation. At FENIX, our Coaches guide you to make better food choices so that you can eat within your caloric window in a sustainable way, yet still enjoy yourself.
3. Food makes you feel better
Does stress trigger you to overeat? Do you start snacking when you are bored or sitting for too long at your desk?
Food is closely tied to our emotions (Mantell, 2013) and it lights up the reward centre in our brains. This causes the chemical dopamine to be released, bringing feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. However, this happy feeling is short-lived and may be followed by feelings of guilt or frustration about overeating. This may even develop into an eating disorder and if it does, it is important to seek professional help.
- If you find yourself overeating to feel better, take note of when this happens and the kinds of foods you gravitate towards. Are they usually chips, chocolates, cake or fried food? Look for lower calorie substitutes for your favourite treats. For example, instead of ice cream, opt for low-fat frozen yoghurt.
- Use portion control. If you feel like having a cookie, split it with someone else. Or take one or two and put the rest away. If you savour a cookie mindfully, you may find it gives you enough satisfaction, instead of distractedly polishing off the whole box.
- Pause to ask yourself: “Am I really hungry?” Perhaps you are dehydrated and all you need is a glass of water, as thirst is often mistaken for hunger (Cohen, 2022).
- Explore alternative options that don’t involve food. Stretch and take a short walk, listen to some music you enjoy, or meet a friend. Be patient as you explore other activities that can make you feel happy. You are forming new habits and positive coping mechanisms to apply when those food-seeking feelings arise.
4. You are not getting enough sleep
Generally, it’s safe to assume that you are getting enough sleep if you wake up feeling well rested and perform well during the day (Chaput et al., 2018). Although it is often recommended that adults get an average of 7 to 9 hours per night, it really depends on individual needs.
We all know that sleep is important, but not many people realise how important it is for promoting weight loss (Flor, 2022). Regularly getting too little sleep affects your body in several ways, such as:
- A lower immune response. This means getting sick more often, which affects your ability to work out and stay active.
- Food cravings, which make it more difficult to make good food choices when you are short of sleep.
- Increased inflammation levels. This affects how quickly you can recover from workouts and can leave you feeling tired and sore for longer.
- Difficulty in focusing and getting things done, which makes you less inclined to go to the gym or to schedule healthy activities outside of work.
- Have a bedtime routine. Allow at least 30 minutes of winding down before you get into bed.
- Do your best to avoid exposure to blue lights from your phone, laptop or TV as these stimulate you and inhibit your melatonin release, making it harder to fall asleep. Many of us have a habit of being on Instagram or YouTube at night. While this can be a relaxing way to unwind after a long day, remind yourself of the importance of a good night’s sleep and take note of how good you feel when you do get one.
- Manage your caffeine intake. If you love your coffee, set a cut off time for when you have it (e.g. no coffee after noon). Taking caffeine later in the day can keep you up at night or adversely affect your sleep quality (Pacheco, 2023).
- For more information, read our latest sleep science article here.
5. You don’t have the support of your friends and family
How many times have you thought that you ought to make healthier choices for lunch but then ended up eating with colleagues at their favourite spots out of convenience? Or perhaps you have thought about switching to low-fat options at home but your partner or the kids prefer full-fat, and it’s just easier to go with the flow?
It becomes more challenging when the people around you are not looking to make the same changes as you. In such cases, it takes a lot of discipline and commitment to adopt new behaviours. And even if you do, they may come at the expense of unsupportive remarks or concern that you are upsetting the status quo.
If you are ready to do things differently and start honouring your health and body goals, there are ways to work around this situation.
- Inspire a friend to start a fitness journey together. Chances are one or more of the people around you are wanting to make better choices for themselves. Find ways to support each other. It could be going for walks together, signing up for a class or personal training sessions together, or challenging each other to hit more steps in the day with your Apple Watch, FitBit or platforms like LumiHealth that offer fun ways to collect points and redeem incentives.
Did you know that when you refer a friend to start working out at FENIX, they get 20% off as many 10-session packages as they want and you get 20% off a 10-session package too? We know the value and power of support and we want to offer that to you.
- Take the lead. Suggest a new place for lunch with healthier options. It may even start a new trend at the office. Or perhaps make the next team activity something active like dragon-boating or a hike. Working out or doing an outdoor activity in a group is a great way to destress and get to know the fun side of your colleagues.
- If it is too tricky to get your partner or family members to adopt similar habits, then be the change. Instead of feeling upset or discouraged, use this as an opportunity for self-care and valuable time to yourself. Whether it’s a gym session at lunchtime, a short walk once the kids are in bed, or an extra hour in bed when you need it, know that this time you are investing in yourself and your health will help you show up better for those around you.
Working with a FENIX Coach can help you to define healthy nutrition goals and guide you to form new habits that will help you to honour and achieve your fat-loss goals. If you’re interested in getting results that last book your free consultation and Fit3D scan with one of our team today.
This article was contributed by our very talented Coach Madhu.
Cohen, L. (2022). Are you hungry or thirsty? the link between hydration and appetite. healthylife.com.au. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.healthylife.com.au/learn/hungry-or-thirsty
Davis, M. (2021). STOP RUSHING YOUR WEIGHT LOSS! . Renaissance Periodization. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://rpstrength.com/expert-advice/slow-losses
Flor, P. (2022, February 13). 10 ways to get better sleep, today. Revive Stronger. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://revivestronger.com/10-ways-get-better-sleep-today/
Hurford, M., & Marie, E. (2023). What Does it Mean to be in a Calorie Deficit? Health Digest. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.healthdigest.com/316915/what-does-it-mean-to-bhttps://www.healthdigest.com/316915/what-does-it-mean-to-be-in-a-calorie-deficit/e-in-a-calorie-deficit/
Mantell, M. (2013). Are you an emotional eater? ACE. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/3508/are-you-an-emotional-eater/
Pacheco, D. (2023, February 7). Caffeine’s connection to sleep problems. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/caffeine-and-sleep
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