Our world is obsessed with slimming down, toning up, and the next magic pill that will help you "lose 30 pounds in 30 days!". The truth is though, there's no magic pill for fat loss, and improving your health and physique for the long term requires lifestyle changes. This doesn't have to be a daunting task though! Even the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. Most importantly, when it comes to changing the shape of your body, improving your body composition (fat to muscle ratio) is far more important than simply losing weight. That being said, before starting any fat loss journey, figure out WHY you want to make the change.
Review your goals and your reasons and make sure that your mental health comes first. I'm not going to tell you that it's an easy process, but make sure you're embarking on the right journey for the right reasons. Next, take a minute, close your eyes and say, "I'm an amazing and strong person who can accomplish anything".
The word "dieting" has such a negative connotation, and usually involves eating less. In order to lose body fat, focus on changing the type of calories you're eating, not the amount. Slowly start pushing out the bad with the good. When you get those sweet tooth cravings, instead of reaching for that salty bag of chips or office snacks, start filling up on natural snacks like fruits, nuts, oatmeal or a protein shake. Find balance with your cravings, there are plenty of delicious, fulfilling snacks that are health. Try this Protein Cheesecake Recipe... you won't regret it. Remember, protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and keeps you feeling full longer. Need help finding the perfect protein powder for shakes healthy recipes? Try PrettyFit, our monthly package of fitness goodies.
When starting, keep track of what you eat throughout the day. After a week or so of tracking the different foods you eat, you will start to see patterns where you can make adjustments. Often times, extra calories sneaking in right after lunch when you get those snack cravings. Start bring a banana and apple to work and plan for it! After a few weeks of tracking you'll start to see where you can make small changes. I recommend you stop tracking after that. It's unhealthy to obsess over every calorie that you eat. Find balance and know that the physical changes take time.
While some TV Health "Experts" will lead you to believe that fats are the bikini body's worst enemy, some fats are actually great for helping you slim down. Your body needs fats to operate efficiently and trying to cut fats completely from your diet is both unhealthy and unrealistic. Cut out the refined and packaged fats (chips, junk food) and opt for food items like avocados, coconut oils, walnuts as sources of healthy fats.
Restaurants are not always great at disclosing their ingredients or how they prepare their food. The best alternative is to cook your own meals. Try packing your lunch a few days a week and make a goal to learn one new dinner recipe a week. Learning to cook is fun, and your wallet and waistline will thank you.
Stress causes your body to store fat, it's science. High cortisol levels, aka the stress hormone, play a large role in your body's metabolism and fat storing rates. Therefore, lowering your stress levels allows your body to burn fat more efficiently. Stressed at work? Try taking a mid day walk around the block, five minutes of meditation, or simply removing yourself from your phone and computer for 10 minutes during the middle of the work day.
Jumping on the treadmill or the elliptical for 40 minutes to an hour is a great way to relieve stress and zone out at the end of the day. However, it's not the best way to get you that bikini body or burn fat. Training with high intensity intervals instead is the fasted way to burn fat, and it takes less time! After warming up, try 10-15 minutes of 30 second sprints and 30 seconds rest. This can be done on a treadmill, spin bike, running outside… or anywhere!
This one can be a little scary. Remember though, having a little more muscle boosts your metabolism and allows your body to burn fat more efficiently. You're not going to "get bulky", you're going to get more defined (aka "toned", but that's an awful word). Getting "bulky" from weightlifting is much harder than you think and lifting moderate to heavy weights a few days a week will help tighten you up. Read this awesome article: "Why Weightlifting Is More Important For Fat Loss Than Cardio"
While you sleep your body is in fat-burning maintenance mode. When you wake, it craves carbohydrates. By eating a lot of protein in the morning, which take longer to digest than carbs, you stay full for a longer period of time and reduce cravings before lunch time. We recommend a balanced breakfast of both complex carbs and protein. For example, scrambled eggs with spinach and half an avocado.