3 ESSENTIALS FOR FAT LOSS
At Moxie Fitness & Nutrition, we focus on what we like to call “High-Impact Fundamentals” (a.k.a. our "Greatest Hits") These are everyday skills that, if learned and practiced consistently, will make a significant difference to nearly all clients’ results.
Whenever you set out to improve your skills, change your behavior, or better your life, beginning in small, manageable steps gives you a greater chance of long-term success. Remember, you do not have to make big changes all at once.
A tiny change adhered to consistently will be just as effective, if not more so, than a large one only practiced half-heartedly.
Doing too much too fast not only overwhelms you, but it can also doom the effort to failure – thereby reinforcing the belief that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to succeed. When you start with small, achievable steps you can easily master, it reinforces your belief that you can easily improve.
Until you realize that inactivity and inconsistency are your biggest hurdles to change you cannot move on. Behavior is an action. In other words, it's something we do.
This may seem self-evident, but it's important to clarify. In reality, many people mix up what they know, feel, think, or want, and what they do - especially what they do consistently.
For instance, someone who knows a lot about nutrition may say they "eat healthy". They believe this is true because of what they know. Yet if we actually tracked what they eat over the course of a month, we might find plenty of "unhealthy" food options.
One of the main lessons is this: Exercising and eating better isn't about what you know. And it's not about what you do occasionally. So, we focus primarily on helping people take meaningful action, repeatedly, in their daily lives. In other words, adjusting their behavior. Real results come when you find strategies for making great eating decisions and taking action consistently.
1) EAT THE RIGHT FOODS IN THE RIGHT AMOUNTS...
While our fitness programs will provide guidance on enhancing overall health while focusing on movement quality, joint and core stabilization, muscular strength, injury avoidance, aesthetics, and body composition, the most significant changes in body composition (losing fat and gaining muscle) will happen with proper nutrition. Diet / nutrition accounts for at least 70 percent of the health-and-weight loss equation. Movement and regular exercise are important for many reasons, but they don't mean much if the foundation of your nutrition is full of holes. (In other words, you cannot "out-exercise" a poor diet).(In other words, you cannot "out-exercise" a poor diet).
At Moxie, we believe that all good nutrition programs should do four things simultaneously:
Improve your body composition
Improve your health
Improve your performance (inside and outside the gym)
Be sustainable year-round
(For more information on our Nutrition Philosophy, check out my blog post: What Is Good Nutrition?)
STEP ONE: CHOOSE HIGHER-QUALITY FOODS MORE OFTEN
Establish daily habits and practices that focus on the QUALITY of what you are eating (i.e., establishing a criteria for "better", eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods, etc.)
On our Moxie Members Only site, you will find exclusive access to content on:
How to Eat Enough Nutrients
How to Choose Better Foods (More Often)
How to Eat Well Consistently
How to Eat Well Intuitively
The "hard" part about eating healthy is not so much the eating itself, it's the preparation that goes into it. With your Moxie Fitness Onlne subscription, you'll gain exclusive access to content on:
Planning, Prioritizaion & Preparation
Meal Planning & Prep
Lifestyle Strategies (Smart Strategies for Busy Lives)
Grocery Shopping Lists
Eating Well On-the-Go
Looking for personal coaching? Check out our 1-on-1 Nutrition Coaching (online).
STEP TWO: MONITOR AND ADJUST ENERGY BALANCE (A.K.A. CALORIES IN / CALORIES OUT) AS NEEDED
Establish daily habits and practices that focus on the QUANTITY of what you are eating and drinking (i.e., eating enough protein, veggies, and fruit, and hydrating properly, etc.). Your daily calories should also fit into a specific amount of protein, carbs, and fats.
Energy balance is a fundamental law of thermodynamics.
If we take in more energy (calories) than we use or excrete, we gain weight
If we take in less energy (calories) than we use or excrete, we lose weight
If we take in the same amount of energy (calories) than we use or excrete, our weight stays the same
This is true regardless of the macronutrient composition of our diets, our specific food choices, what time of day we eat, or any other details of our nutritional plan.
While you shouldn’t eat more calories than your body needs (You absolutely must create a calorie deficit if you want to burn body fat.), you also need to make sure you are eating enough (Eating too few calories could slow down your metabolism.).
How much you should eat depends on many factors. To come up with your personalized needs, the following factors are taken into consideration:
Your personal details (height, age, weight, sex)
Physical activity levels (both daily movement and purposeful exercise)
The date you want to reach your goal by (within reason!)
The changing and adaptive nature of human metabolism (a major benefit)
Many people need more calories than they might think they “should” be eating. You'd be surprised how many calories you actually need to function, especially with added weight training. Please don't guess. The easiest way to do this consistently is to follow your Moxie Custom Nutrition Template.
2) MOVE WELL & MOVE OFTEN...
Establish daily and weekly habits and practices that focus on more external regulation factors of maintaining a consistent movement routine: i.e., systems, scheduling, and structure (i.e., creating and maintaining minimums, supporting your movement routine, increasing overall time spent moving in daily life, etc.)
HOW MUCH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IS ENOUGH?
WEEKLY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY REQUIREMENTS FOR FITNESS:
RESISTANCE TRAINING - The weekly recommendation for resistance training is at least 2 or more days per week with exercises for all the major muscle groups (minimum of 1 set of 8-12 repetitions for each muscle group).
CARDIO - Guidelines also recommend at least 150 minutes (30 min per day, 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity, or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercise per week.
FLEXIBILITY, ETC. - Flexibility and neuromotor (balance, agility, coordination) are also recommended at least twice per week.
The key phrase to note is "at least" with more benefits being realized with more activity.
STEP ONE: GET ACTIVE OUTSIDE THE GYM
In industrialized countries, we're doing less daily-life movement. Most of us no longer run, throw, haul, carry, climb, dance, dig, or do other complex full-body movements as part of our daily routine. As a resuLt we've lost not only the energy expenditure and health benefits of regular activity but also the skill of quality movement itself.
As humans, we need to move. We evolved to move – as often as possible, in as many ways as possible. When we stop moving, we stop living, repairing, healing, and functioning well. Recent research in neuroscience shows that we think and feel through movement, and vice versa.
Activity changes the way our body processes nutrients. Movement prepares our body to handle incoming food properly – for instance, directing nutrients to be stored as lean mass (muscle) instead of fat.
After your workout at the gym, you probably feel like your activity is done for the day. In reality, what you do outside of the gym also has a big impact on your fat-loss success. Physical activity (versus structured exercise) refers to movement that expends energy, such as walking, yardwork, recrational sports, or playtime.
Physical activity can be categorized as continuous or intermittent and can be performed across a wide range of intensity levels, from walking a dog to vigorously shoveling snow after a storm. Physical activity is not typically structured or planned, rather it represents natural movement throughout a person's day.
One way to increase your daily activity is by walking at least 10,000 steps a day. This little addition will rapidly boost the total amount of calories burned throughout the day. Other ways to increase daily activity outside the gym include gardening, doing chores, and playing with your kids.
STEP TWO: WEIGHT TRAIN AT LEAST 3 DAYS A WEEK
During your gym time, you should focus on strength training. (If you are a 1-on-1 personal training client, this is what we will be doing together during your sessions). While cardio can help you burn calories and put you in an overall calorie deficit, strength training and lifting weights will help you lose fat long-term because strength training helps you build muscle, and more muscle mass means your body burns more calories at rest.
It's important to first build a solid foundation that includes appropriate levels of aerobic and muscular endurance, joint mobility and stability, and core strength. This is best accomplished by using a systematic and progressive approach to program design. If an exercise program is progressive and systematic, using a progressive overload approach, the body sufficiently adapts to the new demands placed on it and consequently becomes stronger and more resilient. Conversely, skipping steps may do more harm than good.
This is where good programming comes into play. Progressively and systematically manipulating acute variables (i.e., repetititions, sets, training intensity, repetition tempo, rest intervals, training volume, training frequency, training duration, exercise selection, and exercise order) will help elicit optimal performance while reducing the risk of injury. I highly suggest doing research or talking to a coach!
The weekly recommendation for weight / resistance training is at least 2 or more days per week with exercises for all the major muscle groups: back, chest, and legs (minimum of 1 set of 8-12 repetitions for each muscle group). If you are training less than three times per week at Moxie, you'll want to supplement your training sessions with our Moxie Fitness Online "DIY" Home Workouts (Interval Training). Things like yoga, pilates, etc. would be considered "active recovery" and can be done on your rest days / between training sessions.
STEP THREE: ADD HIIT TO YOUR FAT-LOSS PROGRAM
While cardio training should be a supplementary factor in your routine, you should raise the proverbial bar higher as you age, opting for more functional HIIT (high-intensity interval training) instead of spending hours walking on the treadmill every day.
HIIT increases cardiovascular endurance and enhances stamina through short bursts of intense exertion. Not only is HIIT more time-efficient than traditional steady-state cardio, but it also helps speed up your resting metabolic rate for 24-36 hours after finishing your workout. You can do HIIT with bodyweight exercises, weights, or cardio. For fat loss, add HIIT to your program one or two times a week. Check out Moxie Fitness Online "DIY" Home Workouts (Interval Training, Bodyweight Workouts, Cardio Endurance Workouts)
Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes (30 min per day, 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity, or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercise per week. Walking would be considered "daily activity". While it can help to boost the total amount of calories burned throughout the day, for most people, it would not be intense enough to be considered "cardio".
On our Members Only site, you'll find information and tips on how to Move Often / Move Well.
3) REFUEL AND RECOVER....
“Recovery” is a broad concept. In general, it refers to being able to:
Bounce back from stressful and traumatic events (whether large or small)
Effectively and repeatedly meet physiological and psychological demands; and
Repair and rebuild after damage to be more robust and resilient than before.
As a coach, of course I want my clients to rebound physically, mentally, and emotionally from whatever life throws at them… and get even stronger afterwards.
You may have been able to get away with eating a lot of sugary junk when you were in your teens and 20s, but after that, seemingly every guilty pleasure heads directly to your stomach and respective derriere. Why is that? Well, as we grow older, our metabolism slows down quite a bit. To make matters worse, the body loses its capacity to oxidize ("burn") fat for energy.
Intuitively, that means your nutrition and sleep cycles need to be dialed in for optimal recovery and muscle gain. Older adults typically require a little extra protein, so taking whey protein powder after training is wise if your goal is to build muscle mass.
Sleep is a master regulator, not only of recovery, but of metabolism in general, which includes hormones, immunity, and energy balance (including appetite and hunger cues). A lack of sleep could increase the production of stress hormones that cause your body to store fat, and can also cause increased food cravings, mental fog, and lower energy. All of these will impact your effectiveness in the gym and impair your ability to stick to your eating plan.
Many clients may be struggling with physiological factors that actively hinder their rest and recovery, such as:
sleep apnea or other breathing difficulties (which increase as body fat and weight increase);
perimenopause, menopause, and andropause (male menopause);
pain or discomfort from chronic illness and / or injuries;
medication use (including stimulants such as caffeine);
insomnia related to anxiety or other mental health issues; and / or
poor immune function and / or inflammation.
Recovery and its components, like good sleep, are outcomes. You can't control outcomes. But you can control behaviors.
Establish daily habits that focus on improving sleep quality and / or amount of sleep (i.e., improving your sleep environment, creating and using a sleep ritual, setting sleep targets and planning bedtimes, etc.)
On our Members Only site, you'll find information and tips on how to improve Sleep / Recovery / Stress Management.