We get asked this a lot, so we compiled the Top 10 things you can do today to start burning fat and to lose weight:

#1 – Set SMART Goals

S – Specific

The worst-case scenario is that you have no goal whatsoever, how can you get where your going if you don’t know your destination? The next worst-case scenario is your goal is too vague.  Instead of you goal being to lose weight, a better goal would be I want to lose 10-lbs of body fat over the next 5 weeks while preserving my lean body mass as much as possible.  The more specific the goal the better.

M – Measurable

It is important to chose a goal that is measurable, weight, body fat mass, body fat percentage are all great subjective goals that can be easily measured.  The end goal for most people is to look good, feel good, and be healthy, but those are more objective measures that are more difficult to measure accurately and consistently.

A – Attainable

You can shoot for the stars and land on the moon, or you can shoot for the moon and once you get there re-evaluate and get a plan for how you can get to the stars.  It is likely that you may have to use different methods or technology to get you to the stars, then what you used to get to the moon. Once you achieve an attainable goal, you can set a new one and use the experience and momentum from the success of the previous achievement.

R – Realistic

Too often people set goals that are unrealistic and they are truly setting themselves up for failure.  Working with a health professional can be a great way to make sure that the goals you are setting are realistic and attainable

T – Timely

Putting a date on a goal gives it a back stop, without a specific date that you want to achieve your goal, it is easy to procrastinate and create excuses to not start exercising and eating healthy.  Each day becomes an opportunity to make progress towards your goal.

#2 – Have a sound plan to achieve your goal

If you goal is to lose 10-lbs of fat over the next 5 weeks while preserving lean body mass, and your plan involves a low protein diet and lots of cardio with no strength training this is recipe for failure.  You may very well lose weight but much of that weight will likely be muscle.  Muscle being the greatest contributor to metabolism, it is easy to see how losing muscle puts you in a position to gain all the weight back with your newly slowed metabolism as a result of mismatch between goals and an appropriate plan to action.

A more fundamentally sound plan would include some strength training and enough protein to preserve muscle mass and metabolism.  Your metabolism in base off of your hormone levels, activity levels and how active and healthy your muscle, brain, and liver are.  About 50% of the calories you burn come from skeletal muscle, about 30% comes from brain activity and about 20% comes from liver.  For fast burning metabolism, have lots of muscle, use your brain a lot and don’t over drink.

#3 – Adhere to your specific diet and exercise plan

This is where many people go wrong, they have a great goal and sound plan to get there, yet they fail to adhere to their program.  The key to adhering to a program is making sure that it is sustainable and realistic for your lifestyle. What is the best diet? The one that you will follow. What is the best exercise program? The one that you will do.  Too many people dive into a program hard at the beginning and slowly stray from it as time goes on. A better strategy would be to start slow and make gradual changes overtime.

This approach will be less of a shock and stress to your system and will be easier to adhere to a program that gradually changes overtime rather than drastic calorie and exercise fluctuations that send your bodies stress hormones like cortisol into a frenzy.

#4 – Stop making excuses

It is easy to blame genetics, thyroid, or a slow metabolism on why you are not where you want to be physically.  It’s not your Doctor, significant other, or parents fault that you are overweight.  You put that “food” in your mouth and sat on that couch every night for years when you could have made better food choices and simply make walking a part of your daily routine.

#5 – Take responsibility for your health and your current situation

Do some research or seek out a health and wellness professional that can educate you and help you strategize and keep you on track making continual progress.

If you simply get a plan that is realistic to follow, take it one meal at a time, one exercise session at a time and do the simple things consistently your will begin to see steady progress.  Only you can decide to make a change and have the self-control and discipline to stick to a program. Don’t over complicate things, simply execute the plan and the results will provide you with motivation to keep going.  Making progress is the best way to stay motivated.

#6 – Get a workout partner

Accountability is the key here.  If you know your friend is going to be waiting for you at the gym it makes it easier to get there since you don’t want to let them down and you know they might give you a hard time if you bail out. It also makes exercise safer because your workout partner can spot you on exercises and challenge you to push harder than if you were by yourself.

You don’t need a gym to lose weight and to get healthy, but it makes things a whole lot easier.  It is possible to do body weight exercises with minimal equipment and there are plenty of different forms of cardio that can be done without a gym membership, but what about on those rainy days that you don’t feel like getting soaked, or those cold mornings that make it hard to get out of bed.  Imagine if you know you have a nice hot sauna or hot tub waiting for you at the end of your workout.

Seeing other people exercise may be motivating and encourage you to keep going, for example you may see someone one the treadmill next to you really going hard and sweating and you realize your moseying along, this may be enough for you to push up on that up arrow on the treadmill and challenge yourself a little more.

Be careful not to compare yourself negatively to others at the gym, focus on improving yourself and use others to inspire and motivate you, rather and compare yourself to the fit people in the gym and feel bad about yourself. It’s about creating the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.

#7 – Drink less alcohol

When you are drunk your body is no longer burning fat for fuel, your liver puts processing the alcohol as the number one priority and fat loss takes the back burner.  A few drinks here and there for celebrations and special occasions can be healthy and not deter you from your goals, however moderation is the key here.

#8 – Visualize your success

Visualizing yourself at your goal weight can be one of the most powerful things you can do to get inspired and motivated to achieve your goals. Close your eyes picture yourself 30 lbs. lighter, looking great in a swimming suit on the beach.  Now picture yourself as you are now in that same suit.  Does that motivate you to want to eat better and exercise more?

Be conscious of your self-talk, some of the best athletes I have ever worked with were self-talking positivity machines. While I was a strength coach for the women’s gymnastics team in college I noticed that the top performing athletes on the team were constantly talking themselves through things.  “Ok, here we go, you’ve got this, focus…” these are the affirmations I heard these top-level athletes reciting over and over.  We can learn from these athletes and be mindful of the self-talk that we use.  Now you may be saying, “I can’t seem to lose this weight”, or “I’ve lost over 100 lbs. the same 10lbs over and over again”.

A better way to condition your mind to achieve success would be to say, “I have struggled to lose weight in the past, but I’ve learned a lot since then and I’m confident that if I apply what I have learned that the weight will begin to come off”.  You don’t need to say “I’m skinny, I’m skinny, I’m skinny” and you open your eyes and the fat is gone, however you need to have belief in what you are doing if you want to see results.

#9 – 10-minute walks

Controlling blood sugar is critical controlling weight as well as for reducing risk of heart disease and other complications related to diabetes.  Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand studied adults with diabetes, one group walked for 30 minutes each day in one single bout, and the other group took three 10-minute walks within five minutes of finishing their meals.  Participants who too short bursts of exercise after eating demonstrated blood sugar levels 12% lower than those who walked 30 minutes at one time. The 10-minute walk in the evening had the most profound improvements in blood sugar dropping 22% lower than the group who did 30 minutes at one time.  We don’t all have time to drive to the gym, do 30 minutes on the elliptical, shower and drive back home, before you know it an hour of your day is gone.

But we can all set a timer on our phone, walk 5 minutes after lunch and turn around and head back when the timer goes off.  Do you feel as if you don’t have 10 minutes to spare. What if your life depended on it? What if simply walking 10 minutes three times per day could help you live a longer healthier life, and you may even grow old enough to walk you daughter walk down the isle at her wedding or see you grandchildren grow up.

Get off you butt, and make this part of your daily routine, you won’t regret it. “I really regret going for that 10-minute walk after dinner tonight” said, NO ONE EVER.

This good habit will be hard to break once you feel how much energy you have throughout your day as a result of more stable blood sugar levels.

#10 – Reduce your Carbohydrates

When you reduce your carbohydrates, you are depleting your muscle and liver glycogen stores.  This is where your body stores its primary fuel source (carbohydrates).  Think of your body as a car with a reserve tank, your glycogen stores are your gas tank and your body fat is your reserve tank. You need to empty the gas tank/glycogen stores in order to tap into the fat stores/reserve tank.  The best way to deplete your muscle glycogen is to reduce carbohydrate consumption combined with exercise.

Another reason reducing carbohydrates helps you burn more fat and lose more weight is because our bodies are so amazing that we all can literally produce glucose from protein molecules via gluconeogenesis, a process which occurs in your liver.  This process is quite inefficient, which works in favor of someone trying to lose weight since this process burns and extra ~500kcal per day/3,500kcal per week = 1 lb. of extra fat loss each week.

When you reduce carbohydrates it’s important to get enough protein, you have to get your calories from somewhere.  Protein has the highest satiety rating, aka makes you feel more full than carbs or fat.  When you are more full, you are less likely to overeat or make poor food choices.

Thermic effect of food is the increase in the body’s metabolic rate that is produced by the consumption, digestion, metabolism, and storage of food.  Protein has the highest thermic effect of food, this causes us to burn more calories each day and lose more weight at fat.

It’s important to control calories, but weight loss is also a hormonal game.  When we reduce carbohydrate consumption, we are controlling our blood sugar and insulin levels.  Insulin is the storage hormone so the more we can keep it under control the less fat we will store as a result.  When we eat protein and fat, this will also cause our pancreas to release small amounts of insulin, it is just to a lesser degree than when we consume carbohydrates.

At the end of the day if we set great health related goals, have a good plan to achieve those goals, adhere to the plan, take responsibility for our health, get a workout partner, drink less alcohol, visualize your future success, walk more and be mindful of our carbohydrate consumption we will be on the right path in discovering the healthier and happier version of ourselves.

By putting your health first, it will put you in a position to be able to help others as well.  It can be hard to help others if you mind and body aren’t operating efficiently and effectively.  Take control of your own health and make these small changes today and start feeling better immediately.

At Better U Today, we can help with food, coaching and guidance to help you reach your ideal weight. Get in touch today!

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