We talked about the pursuit of losing fat, and keeping it off. I shared my story about Sam, which is in this post.
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Sam wants to reduce her body fat, and keep it off
Here’s Sam again. With many members of her family being overweight or obese, Sam doesn’t want to contribute to the statistics.
She’s on a mission to figure out how to stay lean.
Is it the right goal?
Sam speaks to many fitness instructors, who all have the same story, they were overweight once. They’ve lost the weight, and now they help others do the same.
Sam noticed something though. Those who lost a large amount of weight recently, had a lot to say about it, and could be highly empathetic. However, those who lost it many years ago, felt it was second nature to not be overweight, and most of their concentration was on other things.
Those with the most experience with helping others, had one thing in common, that was different to the overweight or recently overweight.
Aim for the stars
Sam asked the experienced people one simple question. “if you could travel back in time to your overweight self, what advice would you give yourself?”
They all said something to the effect of “hey don’t focus on the weight loss, that’s just the beginning”.
Given the choice, would you rather think “I need to lose weight”, or would you think more about “all the amazing things I am going to do when I am lean?”
The really successful focused on the latter.
Build up to intensity
Another trend Sam noticed was that most fitness instructors made comments about how they wasted their time with exercise that didn’t challenge them. For example jogging, or cycling. These are forms of exercise that our bodies adapt to very quickly.
Sam learned that to really lose body fat we need intense activities. The types that really make us sweat and pant.
Eat like your life depends on it
Sam asked fitness instructors what they eat, and noticed another pattern. Whereas most of her family and friends ate pretty much what they ate from birth, and learnt from their families, with a few tweaks, fitness instructors thought differently.
Many of them eat with a focus on the food being for their health and performance. After all, they have a job to do, to teach other people to be healthier, so they aren’t going to want to take shortcuts or skip corners. They didn’t just eat to stay trim. They ate in a healthy way because their very livelihoods depended on it.
Many of them didn’t give into the idea that you can “eat everything in moderation” which is the falsehood that floats around.
Instead they planned, monitored and reflected on their food regularly. Although a couple of newbies were a little obsessive, most just thoughts about their carbohydrates, protein, fats and others in a manner that was second nature to them.
But there’s so much confusion
Sam realised that no two instructors could give one piece of coherent advice, especially when it came to “carbs”. Also people would make confusing comments like “you have to eat for your body type” or “do what works for you”.
Sam thought, “if I knew what worked for me, I wouldn’t be asking all these questions”. Surely there are some guiding principles, some fundamental rules for how to eat?
Sam is ecologically aware
Many of the fitness instructors told Sam, “get your protein and essential fats from eating animals”. Already a vegetarian, Sam really wanted to become a vegan.
She watched a few videos, read a few books, and came to the opinion that most of these people advising to eat animals were parrot-fashion repeating what others had told them, without considering the consequences to the animals and the planet.
Increasingly, Sam discovered that people were waking up to the idea that eating food isn’t just about getting nutrients into your body, at any cost to the ecosystem.
Sam decided to focus her findings on people that were performing exceptionally entirely on plants, not animals, knowing that she couldn’t sleep at night to do otherwise.
Sam’s five principles
After all her time researching, and experimenting, Sam has thought about five key principles for reducing body fat, and keeping it off.
First, connect with non-judgmental people who have the same mindset to stay lean. Remember, even people that say “you’re fine, you don’t need to lose weight”, are being judgemental too.
Second, remember that if it is not measured, it is not done. Sam measures her weight at reasonable intervals, and monitors her activity. Setting goals and reflecting on her successes or failures.
Third, develop the processes to ensure good food is always available to her. So that she doesn’t end up craving junk. And she remembers that “junk-food” is a contraction, there is no such thing as junk-food.
Fourth, remember that the job of understanding how to reduce fat is ongoing. It’s a journey, not a destination.
Fifth, find a an activity pursuit that subjects her to regular intense intervals.
I hope you found my perspective interesting and useful enough to trigger some new actions.