Is fat loss a priority for you...or, a self-defeating mechanism used to beat yourself down?
Almost everyone will want to lose body fat at some point in life. And, the majority of those people will complain about their lack of results...how no matter how much they desire to be thinner, they can't seem to lose the extra fat. It’s almost as if they believe just "thinking" about losing fat were enough to make it happen: If I make myself feel bad enough about my body; if I berate myself about how fat I am; if I compare myself to all the skinny models and long to be like them; if I make myself so frustrated and depressed every time I look in the mirror…maybe the fat will melt off me. They are plagued by the constant agony of wanting something without taking the actual steps to make it happen. And so, they are left in inescapable misery and self-hatred. Let’s put an end to this torture, shall we?
What most people don't realize is the level of commitment required to make physical changes to the body. Whether it involves putting on muscle or losing fat, it's not enough just to want to make the change. You have to make it a priority. And, it has to be enough of a priority to take action. Sculpting your body takes a ton of focus, a ton of time, and a ton of effort. For some people, fat loss is just not ever going to trump other priorities like family, work, or friends. And, that's perfectly okay. But, stop torturing yourself thinking that if you "want" it bad enough, it will happen. “Wanting” to lose fat has nothing to do with actually losing fat (other than providing the initial motivation). You have to put in the actual work to get there, consistently, day after day, whether you want to or not:
Research what works scientifically
Experiment with what your body can tolerate
Plan your meals
Prep your meals
Track your food intake
Manipulate your water consumption
Set aside more time for sleep
Work out consistently (but not too much)
Manage your stress
The point is that it takes a TON of physical and mental focus to make changes to your body. It's real work. And, it requires a huge chunk of life to dedicate to the task and most often a lot of sacrifice. Don’t make light of it; it's really a draining and exhausting process. But, it can also be quite empowering if you have the right tools. The danger zone lies in being obsessed with fat loss without being willing to take the actual steps to make it happen. That’s when you end up in Nowhere Land with your mental demons constantly torturing you.
When I cut for photo shoots, it usually takes 2-3 weeks of hardcore focus (in addition to my year-round strategic eating plan, of course). I spend a ton of time prepping meals, planning where to get my food, when to get my workouts in, squeezing in extra sleep, tracking water intake, etc. I have to turn down meeting friends for happy hour. I have to give up my play time on Sundays to cook meals for the week. I have to sacrifice time spent relaxing at night in front of the TV so that I can get extra sleep. I have to plan out where, when, and what I'm going to eat every day. I basically become a boring, straight-edge, narrow minded person for those 2-3 weeks. Not fun. Do I want to be like this all the time? Hell no. I'm way too much of a pleasure-seeker for that. In fact, you'd probably be surprised at how indulgent I can be for the majority of my life. But, when I need to bump up my fat loss, I know how to make it a priority...and it's worth it for a little while to get to my goals.
There's a reason I'm not at my leanest weight 365 days a year - because it's freaking HARD to stay there. I'd rather have more fun in life than be so narrowly focused on my fat loss requirements. But, there's something comforting about having the tools to cut when I need to. And, perhaps even more important, I’ve made peace with myself knowing that sometimes I’m going to eat the cookie…and sometimes I’m going to turn it down. Neither choice is wrong, but both are going to be instrumental in giving me the experience I want out of life...and shaping my body. The power is completely in my hands, though. It just depends where my priorities lie.
Just to clear things up, it’s totally fine to want to lose body fat. But, you have to be willing to take the actions necessary to make it happen. Otherwise, you do so much harm to yourself mentally by keeping yourself in this powerless state where you feel ineffectual and hopeless. You have the ability to lose fat if you make it a priority. The real question is, do you want to make it a priority?
Own your choices…and own your consequences. There’s great power in that.
Photo credit (top): Rachel Neville Photography
Photo credit (middle): Steve Vaccariello