Yes, I am somewhat proud of the fact that if you do a Google search (at the main google.com site), an article of mine still comes up number 1 for the term fat burning. It’s an article I wrote for About.com Weight Training over 12 months ago. I am surprised at this because Google records about 3.1 million records for the search term ‘fat burning’. And when you see all the goony, loony web sites and weight loss schemes and supplements and silly diets and downright ripoffs that plague the internet, it does seem unlikely that a truthful and accurate article still has a chance of getting to the top. Three cheers for Google.
In any case, for Christmas I’ll do the KISS thing and “keep it simple, stupid” by summarising the no-fail approach to weight loss that emphasizes fat loss and muscle maintenance. If it fails for you, then you are either eating too much, moving too little or have a genuine pathology or genetic disorder — and mostly this is rare as a cause of obesity.
7 Rules to Rule Them All
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. The number 1 rule is not to get hung up on the trivia. This is the 90/10 rule or whatever you want to call it. The idea is that you must concentrate on putting most effort into doing the things that bring you most return and success. It’s okay to follow up on the small stuff after you get the big picture correct. Don’t get distracted by “insider secrets” or any of that web marketing hype. There are no insider secrets to achieving and maintaining normal weight. But that doesn’t mean there are not serious challenges.
- It’s the calories stupid! Even though I saw Tom Venuto use this phrase recently, I first used it in 2001 in a book I wrote called The Organic Factor. Even so, I’m sure quite a few people have come up with this independently, it’s so very obvious. This is one of the pieces of “big stuff” that I refer to in the rule above. You need to get into negative energy balance territory (but not too negative) to lose weight and that means eating less and exercising more. And the best way to cut calories? Limit animal fats, added fats, added sugars, alcohol, and reduce excessive portion sizes.
- Adopt a lifestyle. Most diets will work for a short while — low-carb, low-fat, meal replacement shakes, you name it. If you take in less than you expend in energy, you will lose weight. However, you need to find an eating and exercise pattern that suits you, that works, and that you can adopt more or less every day of your life.
- Do regular aerobic Exercise. Aerobic exercise is walking, running, treadmill, cycling, swimming, class aerobics and rowing. You need to put some effort in so that you puff and sweat to some extent. Do this at least 5 times a week, for at least 30-40 minutes, even if it’s walking fast around the block.
- Do regular weight training. Get to a gym or buy some dumbbells and a bench for home and do at least 2 sessions of weight training each week. It helps maintain muscle and bone while you lose fat and builds strength, flexibility and mobility for the future.
- Move more at home and work. Under-rated and misunderstood, this is the science of NEAT or “non-exercise activity thermogenesis.” Moving more at home or work builds a feedback system that upregulates your metabolism. Get a pedometer and try to rack up 5,000 steps each day. It can be gardening, housework, playing with kids, lunchtime walks at work, stair walking, anything in addition to programmed exercise. Upper-body movement counts as well.
- Get a brain plan. Tackle weight loss as a personal project. Keep a diary, set goals, review your progress each week, do lots of internal head talk, adjust your approach when necessary, be patient, stick to a lifestyle you can tolerate, and get encouragement from friends or a group.
That’s the nub of it. No secrets, no surprises. Good luck.