Things you’ll learn in this blog
Are you ready to burn some fat?
Hopefully, by now you are raring to go. Maybe you’ve even started already.
But if you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to put together everything that we’ve explored so far, then that time is now!
You’ve got your plan, now it’s time to take action and kickstart your weight-loss journey.
Over the last few articles we’ve covered:
- Your body type: You should now know if you’re an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph – you might even be a combination of two.
- How to calculate calories: You’ve worked out your TDEE and how many calories you should be consuming each day to reach your goals.
- Macro ratios: You’ve determined how to split your macros up across your meals – based on your body type and what you’re aiming to achieve.
- Meal planning: You’ve explored lots of healthy, nutritious foods to incorporate into your diet to help you lose weight. (How is your plan looking so far? Do your meals fit into your calorie and macro counts? What supplements have you tried?)
- Exercises: You’ve seen that you don’t have to spend an hour each day on a treadmill – unless you want to, that is. (Have you found your ideal forms of exercise yet? What is your ideal way to get moving and burn some calories?)
All of this knowledge that you’ve acquired should have you fired up and ready to shed some pounds.
But we have one more component for you to add to your fat-burning arsenal: a motivational mindset.
Because even though you’re eager to kick on and make the changes, there will be times when your excitement wanes. It happens to everybody at some point; the key is to carry on regardless.
This may sound easier said than done, so here are some final tips and strategies that you can use to power yourself through any tough times that might get in your way in the future.
How to actually start your fat-burning plan
If you’ve been stalling so far, the best way to put your plan into action is simply this: START!
That’s it. It doesn’t have to be flawless. The more time you wait, the longer it’ll be before you see results.
There are no perfect conditions to wait for. There is no magic or idealized date that you have to reach first.
A new you is waiting; the best time to begin is now. OK, that all sounds incredibly cliche, but it’s also true.
Yes, you might encounter stumbling blocks along the way, and you might make a few errors – but you’ll rise above them and learn from any mistakes. That’s how progress is made.
It’s obviously far easier to sit around doing nothing – you won’t hit any obstacles or make any blunders, but you won’t lose weight this way, either.
Nobody else can do the work for you – it’s up to you to ensure it happens.
This is a positive thing, though! You don’t have to rely on anybody else or trust any external factors falling into place. You’re accountable to you and you alone.
It’s not luck. It’s not down to chance. It’s your own effort and determination that will get you to where you want to be.
Burning fat doesn’t have to be difficult, but it isn’t necessarily easy either. If it was a matter of just wishing it away, then everybody would be in incredible shape already.
Even just putting yourself out there and researching how to lose weight has put you leagues ahead of the majority of people.
You’re in a fantastic position to now take what we’ve learned together and change your life.
So let’s see how you can make sure you stay on track on the days you aren’t quite so enthusiastic about sticking to the plan.
Setting SMART goals
You’ll no doubt have your goals in mind.
But what are they?
Are they vague and hard to quantify?
How will you know that you’re on course to reach your goals?
Or when you’re actually there?
It’s important that you fully understand your goals so that you aren’t stumbling around in the dark, unsure of which direction you’re heading.
That’s why you should be setting SMART goals.
SMART is an acronym that breaks down your goals into five key metrics. Doing this can bring clarity not only to what you’re aiming to achieve but also how to go about it.
Any time you set a goal, separate it into the following components:
- Specific: “Lose weight” is a bit too broad as a goal. How much weight? Five pounds? Twenty? You technically lose “weight” when you have a haircut, so we need to be more specific.
To narrow things down, ask yourself the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. Something like “I want to lose X pounds of body fat in the next X weeks” is much clearer and can be used as the basis for the following aspects of SMART goal setting.
- Measurable: If you don’t know where you started from, then how can you tell if you’re on track to hit your target? If you don’t measure your progress, you won’t know how far you’ve come or if you’re heading in the right direction. Get mathematical about things. You aren’t going to “exercise more”; you’re going to “complete four 30-minute exercise sessions this week”. Does it look like you’ve burned fat from your waistline? Grab your tape measure and find out.
- Achievable: Your goals should not only be realistic, but they need to be attainable too. If you set yourself a target that’s too far out of reach, then you can become disillusioned, and it’ll be less likely to happen. Goals like “lose 10kg in a week” are not even possible, let alone reasonable. “Lose 5kg of body weight in the next two months” is far more sensible as it is actually doable. In a similar vein, don’t set your sights too high regarding how you’ll approach your goals. Running 25 miles every day of the week isn’t a good tactic; five 40-minute workouts a week is.
- Relevant: Consider the bigger picture when you set your goals. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is actually going to help you achieve what you want. Dropping a dress size for your friend’s wedding in the summer will require a completely different approach to diet and exercise than training for an ultra-marathon would. Your strategy should reflect your goal. Take into account not only what is best for your body type and for your own safety but also what the scientific evidence recommends.
- Time-bound: Similarly to the M component of SMART goals, you should be able to give yourself clear time-based checkpoints to measure your progress against. You may have a specific deadline (e.g. a vacation coming up), or maybe you’re just looking for a general improvement in your health and fitness. Whatever the case may be, checking in with where you’re at from time to time will show you if you need to tweak your strategy or if you’re right on track. If you haven’t lost as many pounds as you expected or anticipated in six weeks, for example, then you will then be able to reassess and plan your next move.
Once you’ve worked towards your SMART goal for a little while, you can take it a couple of steps further by making it SMARTER – by Evaluating and Reviewing your progress.
Assess what you’ve done up to this point (Evaluate), then gauge how effective your work has been (Review). You’ll then be able to set another SMART goal or tweak your approach to your current one if you find you aren’t quite on target.
Setting SMART goals instead of just having a vague notion of what you want to happen will bring some clarity to your approach – you’ll have a clear view of what your game plan should be and will therefore be more likely to achieve what you set out to do.
When setting your goals, you might find that it makes more sense to break down your main objective into chunks. One big goal can feel overwhelming or out of reach at first, so separating it out into smaller targets may be preferable – you’ll also be more likely to stay focused and motivated if you keep hitting these mini checkpoints.
One final point on goal setting: don’t get discouraged if you don’t instantly see the results you’re aiming for. Losing weight can take time – it’s not a sprint to the finish; healthy weight loss is steady and consistent.
If it is taking longer than you expected, breaking your goal down can ease the pressure on yourself and help you resist the temptation to look too far ahead.
Making time to reach your goals
When you set SMART goals, it becomes far easier to put your plan into action as you’ll have a timeframe to work with and something definitive to aspire towards.
But how do you actually make the time to enforce your plan?
Time is something that we all struggle to manage now and then, so fitting your new diet and exercise routines into what is already a busy schedule can be challenging.
But the beauty of your new health and fitness plan is that you can fit it into your life.
Telling you to hit the gym for an hour at 6 a.m. every day just isn’t something that is likely to work for most people – and would ultimately lead to a lack of enthusiasm and a complete halt to the plan.
Your job, family, kids, friends, and hobbies are all important aspects of your life that keep you happy and thriving – so we’d never suggest you drop one of these at the expense of a new fitness routine.
But your health is important too – and there will be ways for you to accommodate your plan into your days somehow. You just have to determine what works best for you.
It may even be the case that being so busy is the reason that your fitness levels dropped in the first place, and a healthy approach to eating has fallen by the wayside. Acknowledging this is the first step to making a change though, so you can already give yourself a pat on the back for putting yourself out there and finding a way to embrace change.
The next step is to commit to the process. Promise yourself right here, right now, that you’ll make your health a priority again.
It’s your body and your life, so why wouldn’t you want to find some time each day to take it seriously?
When should you exercise?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to getting your workouts done, so let’s run through the benefits of exercising at different times during the day, along with some tips for how to make the most effective use of your sessions.
Exercising in the morning:
- Boosts mental alertness – Starting the day with an energizing workout sets you up for the hours ahead, so you’ll be ready and raring to go.
- It definitely gets done – getting your exercise session out of the way early on will mean there’ll be no chance of skipping a planned workout if you’ve had a long day of other activities.
- More free time in the evenings – knowing that your hard work is done for the day means you can relax, socialize, or commit to other plans guilt-free.
- You’ll start as you mean to go on – beginning the morning on the right foot makes it more likely that you’ll make healthy choices throughout the rest of the day, as you’ll already be in the right frame of mind.
- You’ll get into the habit and learn self-control and discipline – even if you find it difficult at first, choosing to get up early to improve your health will soon become the norm as you’ll rewire your brain to expect healthy behaviors.
Exercising in the evening:
- No rush, no fuss – mornings can be hectic at the best of times, so adding an extra task to an already stressful situation is not always ideal. Don’t create more trouble for yourself by being late for work or other appointments if you can exercise later in the day instead.
- You can fully focus on your workouts – as you won’t be rushing around trying to fit in a workout before you tackle your other plans, you’ll be able to fully concentrate and get a full workout in when all your daily tasks are done and dusted. You can go at your own pace, as well as ensure you warm up and cool down properly.
- Relax and wind down – any problems from the day can be put behind you by putting all your pent-up energy into your workout. You can calm your mind and sweat away any anger or stress that you might be feeling.
- Wear yourself out – Exercising late in the day can be great prep for getting a night of quality, uninterrupted sleep. However, this can also have the opposite effect if you work out too late in the evening, as you’ll be full of energy and adrenaline.
- Boosted performance – having been up and full of energy for several hours already, as well as being nicely fuelled up from your healthy meals, you may well find that your performance is stronger later in the day. This can improve your overall progress as you’re able to work harder during your workouts.
Whilst these are all worth keeping in mind, the most important thing is that your workout gets done. It doesn’t matter what time of day, as long as it happens – that’s the key.
Whatever time you decide to exercise on any given day (it may even change on a daily basis), here are some quick tips that you can use to make the most out of your workouts.
- Work smarter, not longer – 30 minutes of all-out effort is far better than a half-hearted 90 minutes in the gym. Work harder in the time you have.
- Strive for balance – eating well and exercising properly are important aspects to achieving a healthy body and mind, but don’t let it ruin other plans or rule your life.
- Make it easier to form good habits – do whatever you can to make things straightforward for yourself. When something becomes a natural part of your routine, you’ll find it far simpler to keep it up consistently than if you have to drag yourself to the gym or force yourself to exercise.
- Plan and prepare – mold your environment to reflect your goals. Commit to healthy eating by throwing out all of your junk food (then don’t allow yourself to buy any more)… Get your gym clothes out ready the night before (prime yourself to take action early on)... Remove any unhealthy or unhelpful triggers from your space… Make it hard for yourself to make excuses.
- Batch cook your meals – prepping your food for the week in one go is a massive time saver. All it takes is an hour or so on a weekend and you’ll be set up for the whole week ahead. You’ll also be far more likely to stick to your plan when your healthy meals are already made.
Developing the right mindset for weight loss
Despite your body doing the majority of the work when it comes to fat burning, the real battle is in your mind.
You might know what you need to do and how you should go about it, but there will be times when you just don’t feel motivated or have the inclination to actually do it.
This is why having a strong mindset is so important – to get you started and push yourself through those tough days.
Getting into that mental space where you’re eager and ready to work can be easier said than done though. So one of the first things to do when you’re lacking the willpower to workout or tempted to cave into junk food cravings is to remind yourself why you wanted to lose weight to begin with. Then, use this as fuel to fire yourself up mentally.
Maybe you have a wedding or a vacation coming up. Perhaps you’re working towards a sporting event or athletic performance. You could just be looking to get fitter and healthier for the sake of yourself and your family.
Whatever the underlying reasons for wanting to drop the pounds, use them to provide a mental boost and to spur you on when needed.
One of the reasons that we find it so difficult to alter our routines is that the brain is resistant to change. It has managed to help you survive thus far, so it wants to avoid anything that could threaten the status quo. It also likes to conserve energy by performing tasks it knows well already – that’s why getting over the initial resistance and forming healthier habits is so powerful.
Despite this, your brain has almost a limitless ability for self-improvement. By seeking to conserve energy, your brain will happily accept any new changes once it realizes they are helpful and they become part of your regular routine.
How to change your mindset
Here are a few ways to help utilize your brain’s incredible potential and get it working with you instead of against you.
- Set up to win – We touched on this above, but putting yourself in positions where your brain can automate procedures and take mental shortcuts is the easiest way to build positive habits. Make sure your surroundings are equipped to aid your goals and remove any obstacles – make it so minimal effort is required on your part.
- Don’t be afraid of failure – you only fail when you give up. As long as you don’t quit, you haven’t failed. Not losing weight as fast as anticipated isn’t failing, neither is missing a workout or caving into a food craving. If you trip at one hurdle, you aren’t out of the race – just pick yourself, keep going, and you’ll get there eventually.
- Stop comparing yourself to others – you are the only person you should compare yourself with. Is the current you doing better than the past you? That’s all that matters. People lose weight and achieve results at different rates, so you should never be disheartened if somebody else appears to be advancing quicker than you are.
- Realize that the small changes add up – it’s the little differences that snowball into success. Have patience, and don’t look for instant gratification. Just like weight gain doesn’t happen overnight, neither does weight loss. Keep improving slightly and steadily over time – you’ll soon be able to look back at this point in time and see how far you’ve come.
- Stay positive – keep your chin up and maintain a confident attitude. A negative outlook will only take you in one direction.
- Reward yourself when you win – have you hit your target weight for the month? Book yourself a massage. Met your latest SMART goal? Treat yourself to some new workout clothing. It doesn’t have to be much, but make sure you do something to appreciate and acknowledge all of the hard work you’ve been putting in. Motivate yourself with future rewards as well – give yourself another target to aim for.
- Never punish yourself – we’re all human, and slip-ups happen. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you celebrate your birthday with a few glasses of wine and a slice of cake or meet friends for a meal out on the weekend. As long as it’s not a regular occurrence, it won’t derail your hard work in one fell swoop. Put it behind you and return to your plan the following day.
- Try meditation – you don’t have to move to the mountains and throw away all of your electronic devices. Just start with five minutes a day of mindfulness or breathing exercises. It can reduce stress levels, lessen anxiety, improve sleep, and lower blood pressure. Consider what you are thankful or grateful for in your life when meditating to elevate your mood and boost your mental health.
- Find a mantra – have a motivational word or phrase handy so that you can call upon it whenever you need a quick boost of motivation or you’re lacking focus. You don’t need to share your mantra with anybody else; it doesn’t need to be complex – it just needs to inspire you to take action. It can even be something to use as a focal point when practicing meditation or mindfulness.
- Forget the scale – while weekly or monthly weigh-ins can show you if you’re on track or not, checking in too often can be a burden. You’re unlikely to see changes day by day – particularly if you’re weighing yourself at sporadic times. Just commit to stepping onto the scales once a week at most – then remember to measure your dimensions, take photos, and consider how you feel in general. All of these together will provide a more accurate picture of your progress.
- Find your supporters – as well as being accountable to yourself, sharing your progress with other people can also help you get results. Have a friend or gym partner to spur you on when you need a pep talk or some motivational support. Ask your family members to remind you of your goals or give you an extra push from time to time.
Let’s burn that body fat!
Are you feeling hyped up and ready to take on the world?
Hopefully, you’ve taken all of the information from the last few days on board and are now eager to implement your plan and get fit and healthy.
Your macros are calculated. Your meals are prepped, and your supplements are planned. Your workouts are set. Your mind is focused.
The only thing left to do now is get yourself out there and burn that fat.
So, let’s go!