By Elite Performance Coach and Sports Nutritionist – Sean O’Shea (The Guy Who’s Been Yelling “One More Rep” for Nearly 20 Years)
I’ve been coaching for close to two decades now (shit… feeling old yet, Sean?). Diving into the world of fat loss is like trying to decipher a foreign language while juggling flaming torches. It’s baffling and challenging, and there’s always someone telling you you’re doing it wrong. After a ‘few’ years in fitness, and a decade helming PPT, I’ve gleaned a fair share of insights and, yes, faced a few facepalms. Today, I’m here to share some hard-hitting truths about fat loss. From those gunning for washboard abs to folks just aiming to shed that stubborn 5kg, here’s the real deal, no sugar-coating (because, you know, calories).
- The Foundations of Nutrition & Lifestyle: (No, we’re not talking about your Mum’s green juice cleanse)
Caloric Deficit: The cornerstone of fat loss. It’s simple maths: burn more calories than you consume. No magic pill can replace this fundamental.
Protein Intake: It’s more than muscle food. A solid protein intake keeps hunger pangs away and helps repair those hard-worked muscles. Hitting a simple 3-5 serves per day (or about 1.6g/kg of your body weight for those who like to be more precise) will do it
Whole Foods: Aim for your plate to resemble a garden 80% of the time. Fresh, unprocessed, and colourful – it’s the kind of diet nature intended.
Healthy Fats: They lubricate the system, keep the brain sharp, and energy levels stable. A balanced blend of plant-based with some animal fats is the trick.
Hydrate: If you lose 20% of your body’s fluid, you’ll die so it’s probably a good idea to stay far away from that.
2. Calorie Deficits: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint.
Cutting calories? Sure, it’s essential for fat loss, but go easy on the throttle. Diving too deep into a calorie deficit isn’t just a rough ride, it’s borderline dangerous. Remember, our bodies aren’t focused on how ripped we look in swimwear – they’re designed for survival. Pushing the deficit too hard can lead to adverse effects, like muscle loss and compromised bone health. Not to mention, your hormonal health can take a hit, affecting everything from mood to metabolism. Aim for a steady, moderate deficit that’s sustainable. It’s not about going hard; it’s about going smart. After all, what’s the point of looking good if feel like shit wrecking your health in the process?
- Strength Training: It’s Not Just About Gains
When on a fat loss journey, lifting isn’t just about getting bigger biceps. It’s about preserving that hard-earned muscle tissue. Weight loss without strength training will lead to a loss of muscle mass, leaving you looking, well, a bit deflated (like a sad, shapeless bag of milk). Incorporating strength training ensures you maintain that muscle, giving you the toned look you’re after. Remember, it’s not about building a mountain of muscles, it’s about preserving the hard-earned muscle you’ve gained along the way.
- Cardio: Not Just for Weight Loss, But for Heart Boss Status
Cardio’s been pigeonholed as the “weight loss workout” for ages. Here’s the deal though: while it’s not the only way to shed those kilos, it does offer a boost (hello, calorie deficit!). More importantly, those cardio sessions are like sending your cardiovascular system to the dumbbell rack. They strengthen the heart, improve lung function, and boost overall endurance. So, sure, you can shed weight without ever stepping on a treadmill, but why would you want to? Do cardio not just for the potential weight loss help, but for the health of your heart and lungs (no point looking good if you’re dead).
- Supplements: A Wallet’s Worst Nightmare and Often Overhyped
Navigating the supplement aisle can feel like walking through a minefield of bold claims and flashy labels (and why do they all have names like drugs now?)
Let’s cut the shit. Many of these so-called ‘miracle’ supplements will indeed help you shed… cash, that is.
Most of them don’t deliver on their lofty promises, and if they do offer benefits, it’s often marginal at best.
Now, let’s talk about the ones that might seem too effective. If you’re suddenly shredding weight at an unprecedented rate, there’s a good chance that supplement might be crossing into the sketchy territory of the illegal or harmful.
Always remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Instead of reaching for the latest and greatest pill or powder, prioritize a balanced diet, proper exercise, and a sustainable caloric deficit. Your wallet and your body will thank you.
- Dig Deep into the WHY
We all start with a goal in mind: “I want to lose 10kg” or “I want to fit into those jeans from three years ago.”
But beneath that surface-level objective lies the real driving force, your ‘WHY’.
Want to set a better example for the kids?
Achieve a goal that you never thought possible?
Feeling like your health isn’t representative of the person you are on the inside?
It’s the emotional and deeply personal reason that fuels every step of your journey.
Knowing your ‘WHY’ gives resilience during challenging moments, reignites motivation when it wanes, and provides clarity when the path seems muddled.
The number on the scale or the size tag on your clothes might provide momentary satisfaction, but it’s your ‘WHY’ that sustains commitment, passion, and dedication over the long haul. So, when the journey gets tough, or when that one tim-tams looks like it’s going to be a whole packet, remind yourself of your ‘WHY’.
- Short-Term Fads = Long-Term Fails:
It’s human nature to be drawn to the promise of instant results.
Enter fad diets and ‘miracle’ routines that swear you’ll drop a massive amount of weight in record time.
But here’s the unfiltered truth: these fast tracks are often fraught with setbacks. Rapid weight loss might give you a momentary high, but it can compromise vital things like muscle and bone health. Plus, that weight you lost? It’s coming back at you with a vengeance!
If a strategy promises the moon and the stars without the sweat and discipline, it’s probably bullshit. Sustainable change takes time; there’s no magic bullet.
8. Life’s Pleasures: Total deprivation is not sustainable.
Restriction and deprivation are words that shouldn’t define your journey.
Adopt one of my favourite sayings: “Don’t be a slob, but don’t be a snob.” It’s not about erasing all life’s pleasures but enjoying them in moderation. If you’re aiming for lasting change, it’s crucial to integrate your favourite treats into your routine strategically.
After all, a life without some indulgence is going to the movies and not getting any popcorn.
- Steady Wins the Race: Consistency is gold.
Once upon a time, I’d tell clients, “If you can’t see yourself doing this forever, rethink your approach.” I’ve had some time to chew on that and changed my tune a little.
While the idea of ‘forever’ sounds idealistic, fat loss is an ever-evolving journey. It isn’t about finding a strategy you’ll stick to for a lifetime, but rather one you can maintain consistently over extended periods until your goals are achieved.
If an approach feels like a mountainous struggle every day, week, or month, it might be time to pivot.
It might sound cliché, but it’s the truth. You don’t need to stick to a routine “forever”, but you must be consistent for a significant stretch. Find what works and stick to it.
- Procrastination: The “I’ll Start Tomorrow” Syndrome
Waiting for the perfect moment? Spoiler: It doesn’t exist!
How many times have you said, “I’ll start when the kids go back to school,” or “I’ll dive in after my job changes,” or even the classic “I’ll wait till after the holidays”?
These delays, while seemingly valid, are pitfalls on the road to progress. The reality is, that there will always be another event, another change, another season that can serve as a reason to delay.
Excuses are like a$$holes. Everyone has one! Perfect moments are as rare as unicorns (and I’ve never seen a unicorn)
Even if the stars aren’t perfectly aligned, initiating small steps now is far better than waiting for an elusive ‘perfect’ start. Embrace the mantra: The best time to begin was yesterday; the next best is now. LFG!
- Bonus Point (Because It’s Too Crucial to Skip): The Unforeseen Challenge – Friends, Family and Workmates
Embarking on a fat loss journey is challenging enough with the dietary changes, workout schedules, and occasional muscle soreness. What many don’t anticipate is the resistance or lack of support from the very people you’d expect to have your back: friends and family.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but not everyone in your circle will champion your progress.
Whether it’s on purpose and they’re just a dick, or it’s subconscious and they just wish they could do it too, don’t always expect people who love and care about you to support your fat loss goals.
They might not understand and are worried you’re doing the wrong thing. They could be uneducated about your approach and think it’s dangerous. They could just be C*&TS.
This is where the power of community comes into play. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals or joining groups where members are on similar journeys can be a game-changer. These new connections can offer advice, share their experiences, and most importantly, understand the ups and downs you’re going through.
To wrap it up: Your journey is personal, and while it’s wonderful to have cheerleaders, the most important supporter you have is the person staring back at you in the mirror. So, celebrate every milestone, learn from every stumble, and keep pushing forward with or without the world’s applause.