It would be so convenient to shave off fat from our bums like a ham on a deli slicer, or at least evenly distribute it like a rolling pin spreads dough. However, removing fat from our bodies can feel more like squeezing water out of a potato – a lot of hard work with little reward.
Fat is so annoying because it takes a lot of energy to get rid of it, but hardly any energy to create it. That is why physical activity is so important – to make sure your body does not store too much fat.
You need some fat in your body to make sure your brain can function and your cells can communicate effectively. You also need some fat as an energy reserve. However, you definitely do not need that oversized donut hanging out around your mid-section.
Harsh reality #1: If you eat food and are not active, fat will accumulate somewhere on your body.
Therefore, no matter what your eating habits are right now, you must exercise regularly to help prevent fat accumulation. Regular exercise does not necessarily guarantee fat loss, but it allows your body use your immediate energy sources that would otherwise nestle lazily on your bum.
Exercise for the rest of your life
If you do not like exercising intentionally, then be active most days. Ride a bike to work or to run errands. Take the stairs instead of elevators. Walk to a restaurant with your spouse. Play baseball with your kids. Hike in the woods. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera… Eventually, however, “being active” is not going to be enough.
Harsh reality #2: You will reach a point in your life when your body naturally stores more fat than it burns.
Do not wait for this to occur. Instead, start walking, jogging, or biking intentionally a couple times each week. Do not worry about your time or speed, just get out there and do some intentional exercise so that your body gets a chance to use some stored energy (i.e., fat).
If you are more serious about removing fat and want to do so within a timeframe, prioritize intentional exercise and create a realistic strategy. Determine which activities you want to do, then enter them into your calendar. Do not worry about your weight or how jiggly your body is, just do the activities in your calendar and have patience.
You probably read that cardio is best for burning fat in the short-term and that strengthening muscle prevents fat accumulation in the long-term. Depending on your goals and how determined you are, consider incorporating both cardio activities (e.g., running and swimming) and muscle-strengthening exercises (e.g., squats and push-ups). Follow your strategy and have patience.
Eat smart most of the time
I know I mentioned that any diet with zero physical activity can result in fat accumulation; but, that does not imply that you can eat anything you want as long as you are active or intentionally exercise.
Harsh reality #3: No matter how much physical activity you do, you still need to consider what you eat.
This is a very simple concept: If you eat food, your body will either use it immediately or deposit it in its just-in-case-accounts (i.e., your belly, bum, thighs, underarms…anywhere it can). Therefore, if you do not use all the food energy when it is available, your body will store it. When you exercise, if your body only uses energy immediately available, but not stored energy, you will not get rid of fat on your body. The only way to get rid of fat is to be active and exercise enough to use up that stored energy.
No-fat and no-carb diets are not good. Low-fat and low-carb diets are not good. You need a smart-fat and smart-carb diet in order to balance the amount of energy you put into your body, the amount of energy used immediately, and the amount of energy that is stored.
Smart-fat diets consists of:
- Zero trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils)
- Zero saturated fat from packaged foods
- Very low saturated fat from meat, fish, dairy, and eggs
- Moderate saturated fat from naturally grown foods (fruits, veggies, grains)
- Low unsaturated fat from packaged foods
- Moderate unsaturated fat from meat, fish, dairy, eggs, oils, and naturally grown foods (fruits, veggies, grains)
Smart-carb diets consist of:
- Zero added sugar (from sweeteners)
- Low naturally occurring sugar
- Moderate fiber
- High whole-grain content
Take a good hard look at your eating habits. Pick out a couple items to work on and create a strategy. Only purchase foods that match your strategy. Learn how to cook a veggie-heavy dinner. Find ways to substitute foods that contain trans fat or high saturated fat. Open your mind to a new way of thinking about food and have patience.
Think happy thoughts
It sounds weird, but being active and eating well are a heck-of-a-lot easier when you are happy. Therefore, check your attitude. Stop the negative self-talk (it is totally unproductive). Stop being dramatic about how tired you are and how hard exercising is. Do not think of what you give up when you exercise and eat well; instead, focus on how you feel after working out and making a smart food choice.
Do not baby yourself, but definitely cut yourself some slack when you need it. Do not scold yourself when you “mess up”, but figure out why you strayed from your strategy and simply pick up where you left off.
Above all, think of the quality of life you want to have for the rest of your life. Think of your family and future family. Taking good care of yourself not only provides you with a better life, it provides your loved ones with better lives, too.