The Realities of Fat Loss
Do you want to lose body fat? Great! That’s the first step necessary for people who want to improve their health and reach a specific goal. Losing body fat is something people tend to go into super disciplined and motivated as it’s exciting to know you are going to be making changes and taking positive action to improvement. Sadly, its not always sunshine and rainbows and it’s definitely not always easy or a motivating situation to be in! It often can feel like you are not getting anywhere.
We often see transformation photos from a person at Week 1 and then Week 8 or 12, for example. You would have seen myself put out these images because they make me proud of my clients showcasing their results! They look incredible and I want to show it off just as much as them. These photos also motivate thousands of people to join my programs – it’s a source of marketing.
But with these photos, it’s important to understand that amazing before and after result were not super easy to achieve. Yes, there will always be people who find it easier than others but nobody will actually ever enjoy it, or I’m yet to meet someone who finds dieting enjoyable!
Why do I say this? Because it is important to understand at times it’s going to be really hard and you’re going to probably doubt yourself. It is too often that people will doubt themselves and think they are broken or an outlier who can’t achieve the results they want – this is not true! Temptations will be there but we need strong willpower to stay on track.
Let me cover some of the realities of a fat loss phase:
Momentum comes in cycles. Often, we tend to start a fat loss phase really well as small changes can quickly lead to a sense of validation as the scale will drop quickly.
It is a sense of reward when you quickly notice the habits you are beginning do lead to progress. Likewise, momentum will often come quickly and then often slow down just as quick. This is normal! Momentum will often come and go over the weeks and months you diet. Momentum can feel like you can do no wrong. Then, when it leaves, you doubt yourself. Don’t stress, it will come back!
Plateaus are normal, very normal! Fat loss is not linear and we will have weeks of great scale drops and others with zero progress. However, it averages out over the dieting phase. Let’s use a standard weight loss target of 0.5 kilogram a week or roughly 1 pound a week.
Over 12 weeks this would be 6kg/12lbs.
Over the 12 weeks, upon reflection, if you were to write down your weight loss week to week it would almost never be a perfect 0.5kg or 1lb drop each week.
It is not a perfect linear event.
Fat loss is often undulating on the scales were week 1 may be a lot more weight lost than week 2 as it will slow down. But then it will pick up again and slow, just like a cycle.
In the end, the goal is to go from point A to point B but this almost never is going to be a perfectly linear drop. Don’t stress!
The Bad Days
Some days you are going to overeat. Some days you will be lazy on your tracking or go out and drink more than you wanted to. Some days you are going to miss a session. The list is endless.
It happens. In an ideal world it would be rarely but it will still happen. It does not mean you do not care, it just means you had a bad day. Too often, people beat themselves up terribly after a bad day of food. What do they do next? Self sabotage. They feel it’s a waste of time and all is lost.
One bad day does not mean you’re a failure.
The only time a bad day can truly derail your progress is when you turn a bad day into multiple bad days which turn into a bad week and so on.
The best thing you can ever do after a bad day is to get on track the next day. Don’t dwell on yesterday!
Take action. Start with your first meal, then your workout and before you know it you have had a great day of doing the little things well again, momentum building once more.
Bad days are inevitable at times. Keep them rare but don’t let them grow. Take quick action and don’t feel guilty. Feel motivated to get the next day back to being a good one!
I am a big believer that no matter who you are or how clean you like to eat, inevitably, we all have something we crave which may not exactly be in your plan of best choices of foods. This is also normal. I am often surprised when clients tell me they feel like they are bad or they feel like something is wrong if cravings for foods they used to have come back. Well, of course they do. Once again, you are human. The joys of a calorie deficit is, you often crave foods you have not eaten in years.
The foods I crave in a cut is vastly different generally than when I am not dieting.
Now, its important also to understand that cravings come and go. You will find there may be small windows of 15-20 minute periods where you cannot for the life of you stop thinking about a food. This will pass! Try and get through it! As quickly as cravings tend to come on, they also will go.
This is why it’s often a smart thing to go grocery shopping when you have eaten a meal. Do it on a full stomach not an empty stomach to make smarter and more logical decisions.
“Mark! My energy is low and I don’t know why?”. Says the person 10 weeks into a calorie deficit and having lost 10 kilograms.
Energy will get low at times.. simple reason!
When you create a calorie deficit you are creating an energy deficit. A calorie is a measurement and are energy. When you’re in a deficit, you are creating a negative energy balance.
Over time, consuming less calories than you expend will often catch up with you. The fun part of being in an energy deficit is the fat loss. The not so glamorous side is through the low energy being consumed to generate the fat loss response. Your actual energy to perform everyday tasks and get through the day will often suffer at times.
Again, this is normal.
For the most part sure, we don’t want to be feeling horrendous by any means and you shouldn’t, but it is very much going to be common to at least experience some periods of feeling flat. Not always, but just like the cravings, it tends to come at times and also leave quickly.
Try and note when you tend to feel more flat and look to keep training sessions away from these times. Another option is to play with your meal timing and try to aim to push calories towards these periods if you have a big need to have energy high for that specific time. This is why meal timing can often be more important than people realise in a deficit. Not because it means faster fat loss exactly. But rather, often it can mean superior performance if cals are timed correctly in your day.
Mood and Motivation
Starting a new journey is always exciting! New and shiny is something we are all attracted to. Inevitably, the excitement lowers and lower and the new becomes the standard. You see this when people buy cars all the time. Funny thing is, it also happens with dieting.
Initially, knowing you are making a big positive step in the right direction for your goals is something you want to jump out of bed for. But, as the weeks pass your energy lowers, hunger increases, and that motivation begins to lesson.
Like everything I’ve said before, your motivation is going to come in waves of highs and lows. Some days you will be desperate to get into the gym and others you will sit in the car in the parking lot and question your existence… I know this feeling!
This is all just the reality of dieting but also training for any goal in general in life. Some days, weeks are going to feel like you can do no wrong and be the best sessions ever. Then other days and weeks, the thought of performing a squat or deadlift will feel like the biggest task in the world.
Want to know the secret to achieving amazing results? Training when you don’t feel like it. Making it a habit, riding out the bad days!
More Progress than you Realise
My final point I want to cover is a big one! Something which I think holds people back often from getting to that next level with their physique and that is not realising the progress you have made.
We are fantastic at noticing what progress we have not yet made. However, we are also often terrible at accepting we are actually doing quite well. There may be 5 things we have progressed on tremendously. Your face has leaned up, your glutes have become more round, the waist has come in, but all you focus on it the legs are still not where you want them.
You think its a waste of time and a calorie deficit won’t work for you. All while ignoring the clear progression you have shown in other areas.
Fat loss is not linear and where we lose fat mass is not always going to feel equally balanced over the body.
Often, the area you most want to lose from tends to be the area you have the most fat mass and therefore means you probably have a good amount of fat to lose there. We can’t choose where we lose fat from, sadly!
You just need to look for the progress instead of looking for the lack of perfection.
The more you can look for small wins, the more you will want to push ahead as you can see that there is momentum. Don’t always be in a hurry to find what isn’t perfect because the chances are you never will. But there is a very strong chance if you really look for it you will realise you are doing much better than you give yourself credit for.
In summary, fat loss is simple but does not mean its always easy.
There will be hard patches.
There will be negative associations.
You will be hungry at times.
It can be a struggle.
This is normal.
But remember, anything worth working hard for is always going to test you. Any goal you have will never be smooth sailing, it will push you and challenge you to fight through.
The main key is to be aware that all these fat loss realties are normal. You are not broken and this is an experience that everyone has. That should motivate you to know that if others can navigate the not so fun sides of a deficit. Then you can also push through and reach the fun end of all the hard work.
Coach Mark Carroll