If I have learned anything when it comes to fat loss, it is that everyone responds differently to various nutrition and training protocols. There are no black-and-white answers. However, there are definitely some concrete guidelines you should follow no matter the situation in order to see success. I hate speaking in absolutes, but I have found the guidelines below to be pretty finite. Whether you are jumping on stage or simply want to drop some fat mass for health purposes, the guidelines below must be followed.

1. You have to make it a priority, or even sometimes THE priority.

At the end of the day, it does not matter how gifted genetically you are; you must make fat loss a priority in order to be successful. And let’s face it, a lot of us underestimate how much of a priority it needs to be in order to see any changes.

 RECENT: Sodium Intake: Why Be So Salty About It?

So if you are someone who feels like you have to be 100% on point with everything in order to lose body fat, congratulations! You are just like the vast majority of people on this earth, especially if you are female. Losing body fat takes—you guessed it—a lot of effort! But let’s be more specific here. What does making your fat loss goal a priority look like for most of us? It looks a lot like this:

  • Prepping your meals ahead of time so you can stay on track even with a busy schedule
  • Scheduling your workouts and grocery store trips into your week consistently
  • Saying no to friends and family who offer you shitty food off plan
  • Saying no again when they look at you like you’re crazy or tease you
  • Being wise and making good choices when you are out of your routine (vacation, trips, etc.)
  • Having intentional conversations with loved ones about your goals so they can act as a support system for you rather than a hindrance
  • Thinking of yourself and what you need to accomplish first sometimes
  • Making sacrifices
  • Getting really uncomfortable sometimes

The list can go on. Personally, I see priority issues much more often with my female clients than with my male clients, hands down. Many women (granted this is a huge generalization, but definitely something I have observed over the years) tend to put everyone and everything before themselves and their own well-being. (I can speak to this from a personal lens, as I tend to do this as well in my own life.) They tend to their kids, then make the family dinner. They take care of the house, and many women I work with are the breadwinners on top of all that. They literally do it all! Women tend to put everyone’s needs before their own, but at some point you have to put yourself at the top of the list if you want to accomplish a personal goal. And you have to get your loved ones on the same page. If fat loss is your goal, it simply has to be a top priority.

Cooking chicken in the oven at home.

Image credit:  Andrey Armyagov  ©

2. You cannot eat like an asshole on the weekends.

I am not sure when this trend started. Maybe it was when carb backloading was a hit or something, but it hasn’t seemed to die off. If you don’t think eating whatever you want on the weekends can throw you out of a deficit, you are hugely mistaken. I have had many clients and friends—hell, even myself—fall into this rut. We remain perfectly on plan Monday through Thursday, but once Friday hits the social events pop up, we are out of our routine, a friend comes into town, and we relax and fall off plan. Not only is this going to hinder you from fat loss over time, but it can actually wreak havoc on your metabolism. Eating super low calorie (or even low carb) during the week, then slamming whatever you want the next two to three days, is not a “metabolic boost” or “refeed” method. It is throwing your body up and down a blood sugar and insulin rollercoaster on a weekly basis. If the “eat whatever you want on the weekends” strategy works for someone, it is either that their body is extremely adaptable or they are a genetic outlier. I see this happen a lot with folks who just got out of a competition and are already at a super low body fat. Sure, your body is going to suck up the extra carbs and may actually make you leaner or look better initially, but it does have a diminishing return effect with time.

The vast majority of people cannot get away with this for the long term. Eventually it will catch up to you. So my suggestion is to give yourself a free meal here and there, absolutely. But if you think you can just wing 40% of your week on a consistent basis and continue to see progress, you are sadly mistaken.

3. You must pick up the dollars before you pick up the pennies.

Insert “quick fix” or “magic workout supplement” here. So many people are searching for a fast and easy answer when it comes to fat loss, and that just is not the reality. When it comes to fat loss, you have to have a solid foundation and the basics down pat before you move on to the nitty-gritty details. So what do I mean when I say you must pick up the dollars before you pick up the pennies? It is exactly what it sounds like. If you ever saw a bunch of dollars and pennies on the ground, which would be the most advantageous to pick up first? The dollars! Duh, you would grab more money more quickly (i.e. each your goal in a more efficient and timely manner.) Then after you picked up the dollars, if you still had time, you would go for the pennies. That makes sense, right? The same thought process applies to fat loss.

In terms of fat loss, what are the dollars?

  • Training consistently
  • Eating well consistently
  • Sleeping consistently

What are the pennies?

  • Supplements (i.e. fat burners, GDAs, workout supplements)
  • Nutrient timing
  • Nutrition preferences (keto, carb cycling, refeeds, etc.)

If you want to see long-term fat loss progress, focus on picking up the dollars before you pick up the pennies. Don’t let quick fixes and marketing schemes fool you. The realistic way might not be as sexy as taking an expensive supplement, but it’s the only way that works.

Blonde and brunette in bikini standing sideways on the stage

Image credit:  spotpoint74 ©

4. You must be compliant, for a long-ass time.

This may come across as a shocker, but in order to see results, you must be compliant to your fat loss protocol. It baffles me how people fail to follow a regimen consistently yet complain that they aren’t seeing results. Of course you’re not! That is like complaining to your financial advisor that you have don’t have $20,000 saved up for a house payment when you never started saving in the first place! Well, no shit, you kind of have to follow a plan and stick to it. Will you get uncomfortable? Yes. Will you have to make sacrifices? Yes. Will you have a desire to quit? Most likely. But when it comes to fat loss, if you don’t have patience and a long-term vision you are screwed from the get-go. You have to be realistic with you goals, understand plateaus happen and are completely normal though frustrating, and accept that it is not going to be quick or easy. You are going to have to remain compliant for a long-ass time in most cases.

5. You have to prioritize recovery and stress control.

Sometimes the most forgotten piece in fat loss is managing recovery and stress. When we live in a world where most believe “more is better,” we have to remember that this is not always the case, especially in terms of fat loss. We have to ensure adequate sleep, recovery, and down time just as much as we need to prep our meals and hit it hard at the gym. Being in a constant high stress state will largely affect fat loss over time. And this is not just physical stress we are talking about here. Mental and emotional stress both play roles as well, and take huge tolls on our central nervous system. When we are chronically stressed, our body simply gets burnt out, which can cause inflammation and even insulin resistance. This in turn creates a recipe for increased fat storage and water retention. You have to make recovery and stress control priorities. I am honestly really bad at this, and it is something I have to remind myself about all the time. I work a ton and am super hard on myself, so managing stress better has definitely been a goal of mine this year. Especially if I want to get on stage, I have to take time to chill. And so do you!

If your goal is to lose some body fat and you focus on these five guidelines first and foremost, I feel pretty confident in saying you will see success. It is not sexy, or easy, or fun at times, but if you lay your foundation appropriately and get your head out of your ass, it will go a long way!

Dos and Don’ts of Dieting While Traveling or on Vacation