When you set off on a journey to lose fat and change your body shape, it is very common to become overwhelmed and confused by the tasks required to achieve your goal.
Without structure and clarity, it is very difficult to succeed. Not only do you have muddled thinking, but you also start to second guess yourself and lose patience when you don’t see progress.
So, how can you simplify the process? What are the five pillars that you should prioritise working on during the course of your journey so that you get the best results possible?
The first pillar is your resistance training. This is going to be the foundation to your muscle growth and should be your main form of exercise if you want to change your body shape. How many sessions you do will depend on your availability, but it is recommended that you train two to four times per week.
During your sessions, aim for simple workouts that hit several different muscle groups and revolve around improving strength and muscle mass in key areas of your body. You can then look to advance your training and add variety further down the line.
The second fundamental pillar is your diet. To lose body fat, you must be in a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you’re consuming) consistently on a daily basis. However, if you are starting from a low base, sampling making some basic nutritional changes can also increase fat loss.
These changes include reducing processed foods, adding more protein and vegetables into your meals, increasing hydration and having a simple meal structure throughout the day. This will lower inflammation levels in the body, therefore reducing water weight and retention, leading reduced fat.
Another key area for fat loss comes with your daily activity levels. This is how much you move outside of your training sessions, otherwise known as Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). This is recommended because it increases the number of calories you burn in a day, increasing the chances of consistent fat loss.
Increasing your activity levels could simply come from going for a regular walk or doing more chores around the house, such as cleaning, cooking, or gardening. You can also do a form of cardio on your non-training days, such as HIIT or steady state cardio, which would include running, a session on the exercise bike or the rowing machine.
A perhaps underrated pillar for fat loss is your recovery. Many people make the mistake of thinking they have to train every day to make progress. Yet the reality is that, while training is crucial, adequate recovery is also vital.
Two to four sessions per week gives you room for rest and recovery days, which therefore keeps the quality of your sessions high, allows your muscles to repair and keeps your energy levels high, which is important for long term consistency. Sleep is also vital, and you should aim to get in six to eight hours per night.
Finally, you must address any psychological challenges that you face during your fat loss journey. It is said that 90% of weight loss or fat loss problems are to do with mindset and psychology, so if this is not worked on at some point, your journey will be challenging, inconsistent and frustrating.
Your mind makes many decisions; to show up to training consistently, to stick to your nutrition, to stay in control, and to make the necessary changes. It will force you to do these, even on off days when you are tired, and a strong mindset is often what carries you through tough periods. So, be clear on your goals, find your deep, emotional ‘why’, and work towards having ruthless mental discipline towards your goals.
In summary, there are five main pillars for fat loss success – training, nutrition, activity levels, recovery, and mindset. If you are confused or overwhelmed at any point, break things down into these five areas and look at what is going well and what could be improved.
Once you do, you will have the perfect framework for building the body shape you aimed for at the start of your fat loss journey.
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