The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight by Tom Venuto is like the regular person’s Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, an extremely popular fat loss and bodybuilding book. The approach in this book is to get 80% of the BFFM benefits (about 1% weekly weight loss) for 20% the work (clearly an approach I like very much). Venuto found “the only thing necessary for most people to succeed is a handful of daily behaviour changes and a shift in mind-set.” He spends a good amount of time addressing root causes of overeating and inactivity from physical, mental, emotional, and social angles. In addition to the “softer” ideas like affirmations, I find this book realistic, particularly focusing on caloric deficit and admitting willpower will be necessary at first to get healthy habits set up, but those will build a natural long-term lifestyle. It’s about putting priorities in order and adjusting your environment to support them. “Work develops your character, strengthens your discipline, and boosts your self-esteem.”
Create priority lists not to do lists.
Beliefs are only interpretations, generalizations, and evaluations we’ve learned. Yet we act as if they’re facts. Beliefs about identity and values are particularly resistant to change. “Behaviour is the true expression of what people believe on the unconscious level.” Accumulate small victories to reinforce more accurate empowering beliefs like “Everything I value depends on good health.”
If I eat healthy, natural foods at least 90% of the time, I know I will get good results.
There are appropriate conscious social and enjoyment reasons for emotional eating like birthday cake, but emotional hunger can never be satisfied with food. Food is for fuel, nutrition, health, and construction material for the body. In a caloric deficit to get leaner, you are probably going to be slightly hungry sometimes. You will survive. It’s not about losing freedom to eat what you want; it’s about not being a slave to food. Be AWARE:
Awareness of your eating behaviours comes first.
Watch out for emotional eating triggers.
Arrest the behaviour patterns when they happen.
Replace the old behaviour with more constructive alternatives.
Establish new beliefs about food and the right reasons for eat.
Oftentimes it’s not food you’re craving, it’s relaxation. Continuous stress is the signal to rest and recover. Trying to de-stress by eating only compounds the problem with guilt, sluggishness, and bloat.
Just as the athlete imagines herself flawlessly performing sports skills, you can imagine yourself taking the daily action steps necessary for reaching your perfect weight goal.
Motivating goals have emotional reasons and are achievable without limits. Daily goals are the steps you need to repeat to achieve mid- and long-term outcome goals. Affirmations are “the way your unconscious mind takes instructions best.”
The only thing you have to give up is eating more calories than you need.
- Focus on the calorie deficit first and budget calories wisely.
- Start building every meal with lean protein. 30-40% of calories is ideal for exercising and optimizing fat-burning on a calorie-restricted program.
- Eat vegetables with every meal or at least 5-6 servings per day.
- Eat omega-3 and 2-3 servings of other healthy fats every day.
- Eat at least 2 fruits every day. You can have more if highly active and it fits in the budget.
- Eat natural starches and grains, particularly for breakfast and after workouts.
- Eat mostly foods that pass the “natural test.”
- Eat 5-6 times or about every 3 hours.
- Limit liquid calories.
- Follow the 90/10 compliance rule. What you eat 10% of the time doesn’t matter much but it will release you from the guilt of occasional indulgences and take the pressure of perfection off your shoulders.
- Keep restaurant dining to once or twice per week.
- Start with 30-60 minutes of low intensity at least 3 times per week for the first month. Increase to 30-45 minutes at moderate intensity. Limit intense cardio to 3 times weekly.
- Strength train 3 days per week, ideally semi full-body split training of supersets.
People who give up habitually have an explanatory style of permanence. “Results-based thinking is the key to continuous progress and the solution to every body fat problem.” If your weight loss stalls, you were in a calorie deficit but now you’re not because of metabolism, not adjusting calories eaten or burned to a smaller body size, unintentional cheating, or just inconsistency. Raise accountability, adjust strategy, or take a week-long diet break if you’ve been in a caloric deficit for at least 3-4 months.
For long-term maintenance, take at least a week to transition to maintenance calories. Keep physically active, decrease sedentary activities, continue to self-monitor, and respond quickly if you gain 5 or more pounds. Replace fat loss goals with vision.