By Fatima Lee Garsi
Happy New Year (sort of, January was a write off!)
It could be time to make another “resolution!”
As a Coach and Personal Trainer, I come across many people who would like to lose some excess fat for a variety of reasons. There are some people who would love to gain a few pounds – if you’re one of those people, stay tuned for a future blog about how to gain weight with attentiveness and knowledge!
Listen, before you call me fatphobic let me say that FAT is the first three letters of my name ;). If you are someone who wants to take up more space with your body I absolutely do not value you any more or less than a smaller body. I wanted to write this blog for people who have a specific goal in mind – I want to provide you with information without judgement and without any expectations of how you should think about your body.
Personally, I wanted to lose excess fat to change my physique and to build a consistent habitual practice that would help me reach my goals. I tend to wait for something specific – a competition, for example – to motivate me to take action to make the changes I want. Recently, I’ve wanted to incorporate more consistency into my habits to guide me towards my goal.
Why is it so hard?
Fat loss is a simple thing…so why TF is it so hard? I mean “all” you need to do is burn more energy than you consume, right?
People make this really difficult because when they think of burning energy – they think of hard, vigorous exercise. It’s really much simpler than that, but simple doesn’t mean easy.
This blog isn’t meant to be about the “burn.” It’s really meant to be about the small things we do each day that have an impact on our goals. I’m going to give you five small areas of big impact to help you achieve your goal of fat loss.
Here are five small areas of big impact!
1. Walking. Walking is a powerful exercise. You burn calories easily, you get vitamin D (on a sunny day), and you get to clear your mind, release stress, and improve your mood. You might even get to see a happy, fluffy white dog with its tongue out!
Lately, I have seen many dogs, especially in my current Leaside neighborhood; it seems like every white family has a dog. I also see at least 20 black squirrels every time I go walking in a park. They love the mild weather. Next time you go walking, let your mind wander and see what you notice!
Although this activity is easy and provides a lot of health benefits, making it a routine comes with a lot of resistance.
For health benefits and for fat loss, you have to be consistent with your walking…even if you don’t “feel like it,” set your mind in automatic mode and do it anyway! Keep your goal easy and doable – 30 minutes a day is a good start! Keep doing it…every day! Push through that moment of resistance and go.
Isn’t that easier than showing up at Goodlife, jumping from machine to machine, and wondering WTF to do?
2. Healthy Oils. Healthy oils are a delicious part of everyday cooking. But, like anything, too much of a good thing can take a toll!
Let’s take ME for example. I LOVE the taste of olive oil. Olive oil is promoted as a healthy food that all beautiful Mediterranean people put on everything.
One tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories! I only write this with an exclamation because of how much I love it, and how many extra tablespoons I tend to use when I’m cooking for TASTE and not really thinking of a fat loss goal.
I could easily cook a simple dish with half a cup of olive oil because culturally, that’s what I’m used to. That’s 955 calories! I would justify this by cooking “healthy” ingredients like chicken, green beans, and mixed vegetables for example. And then, why not have some rice on the side? Of course we love to cook 2 cups of rice with another ¼ cup or ½ cup oil….it’s healthy right?
Coconut oil is known for its health benefits as well, especially for cooking on higher temperatures…but that doesn’t negate its equally high caloric consequence.
If you want to easily lose extra body fat, consider the amount of oil you’re cooking with – even if it’s healthy.
I also want to keep it real. If fat loss is your goal, don’t let the term “healthy” fool you; eating all the “healthy” foods you want without attentiveness will make it difficult to trim down.
3. Condiments. The extra sauces and condiments we love add essential flavour, but just like when we add healthy oils, they can thwart your fat loss goals if you’re not attentive. A big, healthy, refreshing salad with a ½ cup of cream based dressing might give you the vitamins and the fibre your body is asking for, but it may not help with fat loss. Adjusting your dressing to include lemon juice, a measured portion of olive oil, and himalayan pink salt may help you attune your habits with your goals.
4. Nuts! This one may make your eyes widen. Hey, I am nuts for nuts…but guess what? A “healthy” bowl of late night nuts (1 cup) is over 800 calories!
My mom bought many jars of cashews because “they were on sale” and she was eating them every night and wondering why she had gained weight – I mean, nuts are “healthy” aren’t they?
They are. But they also pack a lot of caloric power into a very small nut. A few nuts each day can be helpful and nourishing, but having a bowl every night may intercede with your fat loss goals.
5. Food scales and fitness apps. I could provide so many more examples of calorie bombs but what I really recommend for people who are serious about fat loss is to get a food scale. If you have a specific fat loss goal like I do, a food scale can help you gain knowledge about food portions by taking the guesswork out of how much you want and need to eat to achieve your goal. You may find that you’re both over and underestimating your portions.
While food logs may not be for everyone, I’ve personally found them to be helpful in providing me with a better understanding of my habits. Write down everything you eat for a week, measure the quantities, and many things may become more clear. I discovered that I would eat mindlessly at night to soothe heightened stress. I kept track a bit more easily with the MyFitnessPal app. It’s not the BEST or most accurate tool in the world – but it’s way better than just trying to remember what you ate today and reflecting on whether it was healthy or not. You might find that some foods you’ve been villainizing are actually helpful, or that you need to increase your protein intake, or decrease bowlfuls of nuts at night.
My final tips!
If you’re serious about your fat-loss goals and have been struggling to find a way forward, think of your caloric intake as a weekly measure rather than a daily one. This way, you’ll be able to indulge yourself with some higher calorie days (usually on the weekends) and lower calorie days during the week. Remember to keep your protein intake HIGH – most women I talk to barely get 60 grams of protein per day…aim for 100 for now, and see what that does to your appetite.