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Few thoughts

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1. Muscle is the best fat burner.

So if you want to burn fat, you need to do everything you can to maintain the muscle mass you have, and possibly even increase it. This means not changing your training during a diet to “etch in the cuts” or “bring out the separation”.

Continue training for strength, with progressive resistance in mind (more weight and/ or more reps). Anything less tells your body it doesn’t need to maintain the muscle it has.

Also, don’t worry about counting “calories”. Calories certainly play a role in fat loss, but not as big as you might think. Pay more attention to macronutrient needs (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and how they each impact your metabolism and hormonal status.

Leave the calorie-counting for the Weight Watchers folks who madly want to see the scale drop, even if its precious muscle they’re losing.

2. You can’t serve two masters (AND you need to be patient).

I often get clients who come to me and say “I’m 180 pounds at 20% body fat – I want to be 210 pounds at 10% body fat – we’ve got 12 weeks – LET’S DO THIS!”.

Ok back up for a minute. First of all, that type of transformation is HUGE and entails the loss of a very significant amount of fat as well as a very significant muscle gain. Such a task is going to take even the most genetically gifted individual at least a couple years to accomplish (not to mention that genetically gifted are never 180 pounds and 20% body fat to begin with). Be realistic in your time frame and realize that changes of this nature don’t happen overnight, or even by the next school term. They take years to manifest, and that’s assuming you’re doing EVERYTHING correctly (diet, training, cardio, supplementation, etc.).

Second, it is much more efficient to focus on ONE goal at a time, i.e. fat loss or muscle gain. If you’re not very lean, focus first on losing the fat first, THEN devoting a period of time to putting on muscle while staying relatively lean. Trying to do both at once is a great way to accomplish neither. This is not to say that I don’t have clients who gain strength and even muscle while dieting, but the goal is always on fat loss (with muscle preservation) and gains are a nice “bonus”.

3. Learn to love the process.

Make healthy eating and training a lifestyle, not just a means to an end. To do otherwise is a recipe for disaster and a pretty solid guarantee that any progress you make will be short-lived.

Learn to love the work, and it won’t be work anymore.

Make the realization that you’re making conscious choices and actions that lead to a better you.

And a cool quote I read today:

You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.

-Joan Baez

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