I just finished up the first 2 weeks of an 2 month transformation challenge I’m participating in with my gym. It’s a partner challenge and I’m teaming up with my husband to see what we can accomplish during the 2 month commitment. The winner of the challenge will be taking home $10,000…so it’s quite the incentive to go for it! To determine the winner, each team will be judged on body transformation (either fat loss or muscle gain), before and after photos and the reaction to your results on social media at the end.
Consistency For the Win
For my husband and I, this will not be a big lifestyle change. We already eat healthy and are very active. For us, consistency will be the name of the game. That means, day in, day out, getting in our training sessions and nailing nutrition.
For me, I struggle with consistency in my diet so that’s what I’ll be focusing on. My husband, on the other hand, is really good at that but can work on being more consistent with his workouts. With us both on board and 100% committed to reaching our goals, it’s been a great motivator so far. We just have to continue to hold each other accountable as the weather gets nicer and all we want to do is hit up our favourite patios!
My Goal for the Challenge
My goal for the challenge is to reduce body fat while maintaining or even improving strength. I’ll be doing this by tracking macros to ensure I’m eating enough to fuel training while creating a calorie deficit to allow for fat loss. Sounds simple, right? Well, to be honest, it actually is pretty simple. Move a lot, eat less than I burn, eat well to support energy levels, manage stress and try to enjoy the process.
I’ve struggled with consistency over the last few months and this was just the motivation I needed to dial in my nutrition. Aside from the task of eating in a calorie deficit, today I’m sharing some simple tips for fat loss you can implement into your life at any time.
I don’t believe in taking extreme or unsustainable measures when it comes to weight loss. Even though I only have 2 months to work with, slow, steady, consistent progress is my goal. These tips for fat loss are more of healthy lifestyle strategies you can use at any time you’re looking to make a change.
Healthy Tips for Fat Loss
1. Discipline and Consistency over Motivation.
The initial motivation and excitement surrounding change can and will fade. Motivation doesn’t last, it’s human nature. This is why creating self-discipline, good habits and consistency is so important. You can use techniques to help keep your motivation up but while doing so, use this time to build good habits you can fall back on when motivation fades. Motivation is like a muscle, it can be strengthened with a regular routine, however habit is much more powerful.
2. Add More NEAT.
NEAT, or non-exercises activity thermogenesis, are the calories that you burn by playing with the dog, cleaning, cooking dinner and all the other general life activities you do throughout the day. NEAT can really add up and help burn a ton of calories without having a negative effect on training. If anything, NEAT is a great way to stay mobile and even improve recovery. The more you move, the better. Take the stairs, walk instead of drive, whatever it is, keep moving! All that extra movement can really add up.
3. Measure and Track Everything.
If I want to see a significant change in 2 short months, I’ll have to be 100%, or at least very close to 100% consistent with my nutrition plan. Things aren’t going to happen by magic, you have to put in the work every single day. This is when it’s important to eat mindfully and be fully conscious of your food choices.
This means everything gets tracked before I eat it. To do this, I use a food scale and My Fitness Pal. I usually plan what I’ll eating the night before so I know exactly what I’m eating the following day, working backwards from dinner to breakfast to I make sure I fit in enough quality food for the whole day. If there’s something I really want to eat, I’ll put that in first so I can adjust the rest of my day as needed to fit it in.
Check out my post on How to Get Started with Flexible Dieting for information on getting started with macros.
4. Drink Tons of Water.
More water, all the time, every day. Just drink more water. I aim for at least 3 litres of water on top of the water I drink during workouts and other liquids. You’ll feel better, recover better, train better and have more energy.
5. Be Kind to Yourself.
There’s no point in beating yourself if you get off track. Fat loss isn’t an overnight process. If you have one mishap, forgive yourself right away and just move on. The most important thing is not giving up. One small mishap or missed workout isn’t going to make or break your results. The goal is consistency, not perfection.
Although I’m aiming to be near perfect for the challenge because it’s such a short period of time, for the long run perfection is not only unattainable, it’s completely unrealistic. My goals are important to me but so is my happiness and overall wellness.
6. Redefine Wins.
When it comes to making big changes, it can help to redefine your definition of winning. In Live The Best Story of Your Life, Litwin writes that by redefining the win so we see small wins even in what would typically be considered a loss, we begin to win more. When we being to see wins in everything, we start winning more and more, and on a larger scale.
See effort as a win, see baby steps as a win, see the process as win and acknowledge all the hard work you’ve been putting in. Take every single small win you can get and let those wins build confidence.
7. Manage Stress.
Did you know that stress plays a huge role in weight loss? Chronic stress can lead to overeating, elevation of cortisol and insulin and suppression of anabolic hormones that lead to abdominal fat and increased inflammation. Stress can cause us to crave sweet, salty and high-fat foods that stimulate pleasure chemicals, releasing tension. This can become addicting, making us reach for less than healthy options when we feel the need to de-stress.
There’s nothing wrong with some stress in our lives, it can be a great motivator and catalyst for growth but it’s how we manage that stress by finding ways to bring stress levels down so we can recharge.
8. Every single choice matters.
8 weeks is both long and short. It’s long enough that you can create a real change and definitely see a transformation however it’s short enough that every single choice is very important. It’s only 56 days so remember that little things are big things and watch those little things add up to create noticeable change. Remember that every single choice you make is either moving you close to or farther away from your goals. These small choices will start to compound.
9. Eat a filling, balanced breakfast.
This might be before or after a morning training session but either way it’s important to start the day with good fuel and ideally a balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. This not only helps us refuel after sleeping all night and energizes us for the day ahead but also sets us up mentally to stay on track for the day.
Remember that breakfast doesn’t always have to be breakfast food either, try including a salad at breakfast time to help fill you up and get those veggies in!
10. Cut back on starchy carbs.
You don’t need to eliminate them completely, starchy carbs are a great source of energy however, try moderating them and consuming them around your workouts to make the most use of the immediate energy they provide, instead of having them stored as fat.
11. Focus on your why.
Why are you doing this? How do you feel now? Why do you want to change? Are you just doing it for fun or and a personal challenge or are you 100% committed to making a change?
It helps to write the answers to these questions down and refer back to them often. We talked about how motivation can fade and by keeping your “why” front of mind it can help bring the focus back when you’d rather order pizza than cook a healthy meal.
If you’re not 100% committed to changing, then don’t beat yourself up or get in the habit of negative self-talk if you get off track. You have to decide what’s important to you. Fat loss takes long term, dedicated, mindful consistency, if you’re not ready for that, then decide that you’re okay with slower results.
12. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep.
Unless you use a healthy meal delivery service, meal prep will be one of the biggest determining factors when it comes to reaching your fat loss goals. If you’re at home every day and have time to prepare each meal, then go for it but most of us have long, busy days and meal prep is essential to ensuring we stay on track when things get hectic and we get hungry!
Check out these posts for tips on how to get started with meal prep:
- Vegan Meal Prep Ideas | week 1
- Vegan Food Prep Tips for Healthy Meals All Week
- Meal Planning Tips for a Healthy Vegan Diet
13. Eat more vegetables.
A high volume diet with tons of vegetables will help you stay full, provide tons of micronutrients that assist in recovery and contribute to overall health. Regardless of if you have fat loss goals or not, you can still benefit from eating more vegetables. If you’re not a big salad person, try adding vegetables to your smoothies, experimenting with vegetable noodles or even sneaking some veggies into your morning oatmeal.
I try to eat one large salad everyday, focusing on leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables such as peppers, celery, carrots and broccoli. You can create calorie-free dressings from ingredients like dijon mustard, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, herbs, spices, garlic, stevia and hot sauce. Raw vegetables also make an excellent choice for low sugar snacking.
14. Get quality sleep.
Just like stress, sleep plays a big role in fat loss. When we lack sleep, hormones get out of whack, which can cause us to overeat and reach for foods that may not help us reach our goals. If you’re serious about reaching your health and fitness goals, make quality sleep a priority and see how much better you feel when you’re well rested.
This means no TV or screens right before bed time, taking some time to wind down at the end of the night and prepare for sleep, getting to bed earlier, having a dark, cool sleep environment and if needed, trying some natural sleep aids such as magnesium or valerian tea to help you doze off quickly.
15. Work your mental game.
Use this time to work your mental health by setting some personal development goals along with your body transformation ones. This could be journalling, meditating, reading more or tackling a new project. This will not only help manage stress but it will keep your mind busy when you might feel like indulging in something you don’t need.
16. Have strategies in place.
Habit is a hard thing to break but it can be done. The hardest time for me when it comes to sticking to my nutrition plan is in the evenings after dinner. Whether I’m hungry or not, I have a habit of snacking after dinner. I’ll go through periods where I kick this habit and periods where I eat dessert or a snack every night, whether I need it or not.
Because I know myself, I have strategies in place to help with my evening snacking habit. I’ll have fizzy water or tea instead, read a book, stretch or go for a walk, head to the park and kick a soccer ball around, walk the dogs or I’ll sit down and start working on something to keep my mind off snacks. If I’m busy and preoccupied, I have no problem but if I’m laying around watching TV, the kitchen calls and I’m determined to stay strong!
I’m also practicing being more mindful of how I’m feeling when I craving something I don’t need. Instead of giving into that craving, I’m working on noticing it and simply letting it come and go. It feels good to strengthen those willpower muscles and know that I am in control and not my cravings and habits. If you’re intersted in mindful eating, I’d recommend reading Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life.
17. Keep building muscle.
Cardio can go along way when it comes to fat loss but don’t forget to keep your weight lifting up! The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn all day long. Plus lifting weights can rev up the metabolism long after you’ve left the gym.
18. Get that EPOC.
EPOC, or excess post-exercise consumption is the boost in metabolism we experience after a training session is over. This is where short, high-intensity training has an advantage over long slow cardio when it comes to burning fat. With high-intensity training, you’ll burn more in the 24 hour period after leaving the gym than you would after say a long, slow jog or walk.
19. Vary your training.
Our bodies are really smart and love to be efficient, so it can help to keep your training program varied and include different strategies to maximize results. Think about including traditional strength training, bodybuilding, metabolic conditioning and medium intensity workouts to keep your body guessing.
Try to include plenty of tough, compound exercises that challenge big muscle groups too. Regardless of your fitness goals, these ones are always beneficial when it comes to building strength and overall fitness. Including a variety of training methods in your routine can also help bust through plateaus, prevent boredom and allow for recovery.
20. Take a holistic approach.
Yes, to win a challenge you’ll ned to create a visible change in body composition. That being said, I think it’s healthier to take a holistic approach to the change rather than doing whatever it takes to lose weight. This means prioritizing recovery, stress management, sleep, mobility, nutrition and self-care. It means cutting back on alcohol and sugar, eating well over “fat-free” and choosing whole foods over processed, convenience foods.
Spending 30 minutes stretching may not burn the calories you need to support fat loss but it will help keep you healthy, reduce stress and prevent injury. I think taking a holistic or total wellness perspective to losing fat is important in making these lifestyle changes sustainable. Think about it as a challenge to see just how amazing you can feel, inside and out!
21. Forget the results, nail the process.
This might seem counterintuitive but it’s important to not become too emotionally attached to any particular outcome. It’s good to have a goal, hopefully a big one that kinda scares you but at the same time, try to focus on daily process. The work is much more important than the outcome.
It’s important to keep that goal in mind but instead of focusing on it and letting it determine how you feel about yourself, let it go and instead focus on doing the best you can on a daily basis. If you’re consistent, you focus on the process and you put in the work, the results will come anyways.
By focusing on the process it helps us stay present and not constantly looking towards the future or some end date to healthy living. The work you’re putting in every day is your life, it’s happening right now so don’t be so focused on the end result that you miss out on the journey. Remember, the time will pass anyways, so keep putting in that effort every day.
Don’t let a lack of results derail your efforts either. Your weight will fluctuate but if you stick to the process, eventually you’ll see the downward trend you’re looking for. These things take time so put your head down, stay focused and with patience you will get there. Guaranteed.
So, How’s It Going? 2 Week Challenge Update
It’s only been 2 weeks so it’s been smooth sailing so far. The only really challenge has been the gorgeous weather that’s calling for appies and patio drinks on the weekend, take-out picnics in the park and snacks on the beach. Instead of that, it’s been early morning tennis, long walks with the dogs, calorie-free iced coffees and food prep. Sounds like fun, eh!
My nutrition plan is simply track everything and stick to it. Everything I eat gets tracked, no matter what. The good thing about macronutrient goals is that if I really want a treat or something outside of my normal eating habits, I can make it work. So far, I haven’t had any indulgences and haven’t felt the need to. We’ll see how that goes after 4 weeks, 5 weeks…7 weeks! This is why it’s so important to build discipline and consistency because motivation will fall off. Any shiny new program gets dull after a while so it’s important to lay a foundation of self-discipline and good habits before that ever happens.
I haven’t seen much of a drop in the scale yet but I definitely see a change in body composition. I know that will be reflected in the scale soon. I will share my final results at the end of the challenge but for now you’ll just have to take my word for it! Regardless of the scale, I’m feeling really great and can’t believe how much better I feel than just 2 weeks ago. It feels good to be focusing on food as fuel for optimal performance again and eating as well as I can.
Workouts are going well. I’m training as normal but making sure I don’t skip any conditioning workouts or my 2 weekly runs. I’ve also been getting in a lot of extra activity outside of the gym: walking, hiking, biking, soccer and tennis. Like I said, training is the easy part for me because I love it. I work hard in the gym and am very active regardless, my focus is being consistent with my nutrition and so far it’s paying off! I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens in another 4 weeks.
What’s The Point?
I love a personal challenge and to be honest, I’ve really struggled with my weight the past year. It’s been up and down and I basically fell into a pattern of yo-yo “dieting,” alternating periods of 100% consistency to all over the place, eating anything and everything and even struggling with binge eating, which goes against everything I stand for at Running on Real Food ie. life in healthy balance. I’ve had a hard time finding balance lately, especially after coming back from a month long vacation and gaining about 7 or 8 lbs I couldn’t seem to lose.
A group challenge was exactly what I needed to find some focus again and although I know it will get tougher towards the end, I plan to see it through and see what I can accomplish. This time, I’m 100% committed to maintaining my results once it’s over and finding my way back to balanced, intuitive eating, all the while working on loving my body exactly the way it is. I’ll check in again at 4 weeks, stay tuned!