It's the old saying being regurgitated by every fit pro out there.
"consistency is the best way to lose fat"
...but how helpful is saying that on it's own?
We need to do better than that. There's a lot more to it then just 'be consistent'.
So, just to quickly clear up, I am one of the fit pros who say that, because it's true! Being consistent in your fat loss efforts day after day, month after month, will get results.
But how does one 'be consistent'? Are there some things you should know?
1. Consistency is build on imperfection.
I'm going to let you on in a little secret...nobody is perfect. You don't have to be 100% strict on your training, diet, sleep, rest and everything in between to lose fat.
There is plenty of reason to follow the 80/20 rule. A version of good old Pareto's principle; if you're sticking to the fat loss plan 80% of the time then you can chill a bit 20% of the time.
Meaning roughly 1 in 5 meals can be a little off target, you can enjoy a night out every so often and you don't always have to follow the plan.
Attempting to follow the perfect diet and training program almost always leads to burnout and failure. You need a little leeway to enjoy life!
Of course you still need to be on top of things. Don't expect to get anywhere by getting trashed every 5th day or making that 1 in 5 meal a McDonald's family box.
Just know that perfection isn't the goal.
It's all in the name of consistency. How long could you handle a strict diet of chicken and vegetables? 1 or 2 weeks max? How about if every so often you could treat yourself to some ice cream/chocolate/whatever your heart desires? I'd bet a whole lot longer...
2. Do not under eat or diet endlessly.
This may be a bigger topic than I'll go into here but it's a common problem, especially amongst women.
Constantly eating in a calorie deficit may be doing more harm than good!
Your body is very good at adapting to the circumstances you put it in. In general, eating fewer calories then usual will cause your body to get the extra energy needed for living from somewhere else - most of the time fat stores.
But always eating in this calorie deficit will encourage your body to expend less energy (lower your metabolic rate) and the fat loss that occurred from eating less will stop.
This relates to the above as consistency does not mean 100% all the time.
There's a complex way to do this including refeeds, cheat meals, carb cycling and all that jazz. But simply taking a day off from the diet here and there will be good enough to ramp up your body to go again.
3. Don't give up.
You will often not see results in a week, sometimes it may take a few, but just remember that results take time.
If you have put on weight over the last 3 years what makes you think that you can lose it in 2 weeks?
See your fat loss goal as a journey and live in the process. Don't think too much about the end goal, just take it day after day.
It can be easy to have a big night out, eat a whole pizza and the next day dive into a KFC bucket to cure the hangover. Then what? Your reaction to something like this is what will define your consistency. Do you say 'stuff it losing weight is too hard' and grab a tub of ice cream? Or do you decide you are responsible for what you so and put down the spoon, chalk it up as a loss, get over it and get back on track as soon as possible?
Making life changes can be pretty uncomfortable and scary.
But, know what's even scarier?
4. Create habits and systems.
Habits are the thing that makes being consistent easy. Habits make it feel like your not even trying. Habits are great!
When you create a healthy habit you don't even think about doing it, because it's just what you do. Like checking your wrist for the time even if you don't have a watch on.
Some great habits to get into include:
- Drink a big glass of water upon waking
- Eat protein and vegetables with every meal
- Eat a good breakfast every morning
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Track your daily calories and macros
- If eating a treat eat it super slow and savour it
- Always take the stairs
But how do you make a habit?
There's actually a fair bit of research looking into habit formation; doing something every day until it sticks.
It shows that on average it takes a person 66 days of continuously doing something to make it automatic.
That's just over 2 months.
So don't try and start 10 habits at the same time or you just won't do it. Choose 1 or 2 that will have the biggest impact and stick with them.
And what are systems?
It is the underlying structure of your fat loss efforts. Things you can do to make everything else easier.
Systems are things like making Sunday's the day where you cook a whole bunch of healthy meals for the week and fridge/freeze them or making meal guidelines where each meal contains a palm of protein, a thumb of fat, a cupped hand of complex carbs and a fist of vegetables.
If you want more info on habits and systems check out precisionnutrition.com
5. Find support.
You are not the only person in the world trying to lose fat. There are thousands, if not millions, of people in the same boat as you. So why not let them help you?
Of course there are personal trainers, nutrition coaches and the like but what about what's right in front of you..
Just a quick search on Facebook came up with a tonne of weight loss support groups which are free to join.
Most of them have great, supportive communities run by intelligent people who want to help you as best they can.
Also this will end up providing a much more encouraging Facebook feed, full of people like you sharing their recipes, wins, workouts and stories, rather than a whole bunch of skinny celebs and instagram models flaunting it.
Knowing you are not alone can make all the difference.
Click here to see my page where, I like to think, it will make any Facebook feed more positive :)