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Why 99% NEVER Reach Their Fat Loss Goals

Jun 17, 2024

You have big fat loss goals and you start to get close.

But then something happens that starts to get in your way.

Maybe you get injured or sick or you just get very busy with work. Or maybe there's a bunch of social events and all of a sudden delicious food is everywhere.

You're going to find out why most people are never going to reach their goals and what you can do to be the 1% that does.

The Best Place To Start

Nutrition is going to be the biggest part of your fat loss result and it's the one that most people struggle with. It's theoretically possible but extremely hard to out exercise your diet, especially if you're a normal person with a busy life.

For me, the biggest mistake is choosing a diet that's overly restrictive and not sustainable for you then it really just comes down to willpower and most of us are really limited in the amount we have.

Consistency is going to matter the most. Let's say your maintenance calories are 2100 per day and you're targeting a calorie deficit of 1,800 calories. If you eat 2600 calories on Saturday and 2600 calories on Sunday, you're going to undo all the work that you've done during the week. You're going to end up in maintenance.

Because your body doesn't care on a day-to-day basis that you did really well. It just cares that on Saturday and Sunday your calories went way up and over the course of the week everything levels off.

Too Cardio-Focused?

Focusing on just cardio is another big mistake that I see.

If you've got 40 lbs to lose then you don't really have to worry so much about the loss of muscle mass that's going to occur. But if you're down to the last 10 or 20 pounds you really want to focus on maintaining as much muscle mass as you possibly can. Because long periods of caloric restriction do put you at risk of losing muscle mass.

And I'm going to talk about how you can avoid that.

What Is Body Fat Percentage?

Your body fat percentage is the ratio of the fat to the lean tissue which is the muscle and organs and bones and of course there's not much you can do about your organs and bones, so you want to focus on getting your muscle percentage up as high as possible.

Because if you keep dropping fat, but you haven't really worked on that muscle then there's only so far that you can go.

When people lose weight through just caloric restriction for instance without doing any exercise they'll often end up with a skinny fat type of look. They don't really look big but they're not really that low in body fat percentage. You won't see muscle definition and that kind of leanness that a lot of people aspire to.

Particularly in the belly fat area that may just hang around as well. And most people do want to get rid of the belly fat.

The Principle Of Progressive Overload

You want to make sure that you're supporting muscle retention and growth with at least two weight training sessions a week.

And this needs to be consistent. So one session the first week then three sessions then two sessions then one session again then taking a week off and then four sessions is not really going to get you consistent muscle growth.

Realistically, once you're past that beginner phase you'll need more than two sessions at least three to start to get muscle growth. This weight training should be based on progressive overload and there are a lot of ways of manipulating your workout program so that you can keep pushing the muscles to grow. It's not just a matter of lifting heavier necessarily because once you're fairly experienced (You've got 5 or 10 years of weight training behind you), It's not like your weight is going to go up every week. It's going to go up only in very small increments if you work very hard at it.

You can manipulate other things like the number of sets that you're doing the rep range that you're using because you can get muscle growth through different rep ranges. You can get muscle growth if you're just doing sets of five or muscle growth if you are doing sets of 20.

Most people focus on the classic hypertrophy range that 6 to 12 or 8 to 12 but recent research shows that you can get muscle growth at different rep ranges. So you don't have to worry so much about that.

It's actually a good way of overloading your muscles.

If you've constantly been working in that 8 to 12 range try a lot heavier and go down to five reps. Or go even lighter or maybe even try to maintain and just push the reps up a little bit higher towards 15 or even 20.

That's not my particular favourite style of training. I do like to lift a bit heavier and I find the higher reps kind of tedious after a while. But some people prefer that and can still get muscle growth from that as well.

The Role Of Cardio In Fat Loss

Consistent cardio does contribute to your energy expenditure and to your health so I definitely recommend that you have that as part of your program.

My suggestion is to pick something that you really enjoy and just do more of it. Or increase the intensity that you're working with.

I really enjoy mountain biking in the summer and I have my martial arts training that I do throughout the year. And I try to just choose things that I really enjoy and then get the cardio benefits from that. I think it's actually fun to explore different activities that you might like.

I saw someone doing a Zumba video at the gym the other day and that's a great way of exercising if you enjoy it as well. Ialso like playing tennis with my family or with a friend that doesn't feel like a working out as such. It feels like fun.

And that's the way ideally you'll be thinking about exercise. Because in order for it to be sustainable you need to enjoy it at least to some extent. There's going to be hard days for sure but pick the things that you really enjoy. Don't make yourself suffer by being on the treadmill for hours on end. You don't need it to lose fat.

Keep Moving!

Neglecting movement throughout the day can keep you from reaching your fat loss goals. All the movement that you're doing counts. It all adds up to energy expenditure and most of us are not active enough. Even if you're in the gym for an hour every day that's only 1 hour of your 24 hours I suppose you have to be sleeping for part of that during your waking hours you want to be a bit more active than most people are so add in walking whenever you can.

I find that this is something that I have to focus on as well I tried tracking my steps for a little while and without pushing myself to do it like walking on the treadmill or forcing myself to walk outside for a certain period of time I was reaching maybe 5,000 or 6,000 steps. So in order to get kind of in that higher range for both health and calorie expenditure you need to push it around that 7,000 or 8,000. 10,000 sounds like a nice round number but there's nothing magical about it. If you're in around that 8 to 10,000 range then you're probably going to be able to sustain a decent level of activity to aid your fat loss.

Just going to the gym for an hour a day doesn't really make you active. You need to get more movement throughout your day. Disadvantages of working from home I guess. I have to really force myself to move and get out there.

How You Have Unrealistic Expectations?

Another reason people don't reach their fat loss goals is because they have unrealistic expectations.

This is sometimes the hardest part and most people don't want to face it.

Your expectations might not be in line with your commitment level. Many people want to be as lean as a fitness model and have those six-pack abs, but they also also want to go out to dinner and have dessert and drink three times a week. And only work out at the gym for two or three times a week.

You're not going to get that result with that low level of commitment. And it's perfectly fine if you don't need that six-pack and your fat loss goals are lower than that. Just to have that normal physique that feels lean and you don't have that belly bulge sticking out.

I personally am comfortable with where I am right now now, but I have been leaner in the past and I know that if I want to be leaner again I have to change my habits a bit. I can't have a little treat every day a little bit of chocolate here and there consistently. I would still have it though because no matter how far I go in a fat loss plan I always try to keep just a little bit of a reward in there, so that it's easier to maintain the commitment. Because you know that nothing is forbidden. But you have a smaller amount and only at certain times.

I'm going to go into this a little bit more later the leaner you are the harder it gets to get even leaner. So your rate of weight loss at the beginning if you're 20 lbs from your goal is going to be quite fast relative to the last 5 lbs. That's when you'll see only very small changes. Maybe half a pound maximum of a pound per week as you're losing the body fat.

How To Build Muscle

If you want to build decent muscle in the first place, it likely is going to require more than 3 days a week, beyond your newbie stage. So if you've been training for five or six years and you want to put on some more muscle, you'll probably need 4 days a week.

Keep in mind that a physique competitor for instance is training with weights 5 to six days a week. Generally a fairly lengthy session. And in terms of nutrition it's very specific. There needs to be some food prep in advance, so that you have the things that you need the lean proteins, the vegetables, the amount of starchy carbs that you having to fuel your training.

Everything is quite precise.

You can do things relatively relaxed. Just base your meals around protein and vegetables and small servings of starch over time. Then include some treats here and there and still be pretty lean. But once you want to be let's say sub 10% for a male or sub 15% for a female you need to watch much more carefully. And a little treat here, 200 calories, another treat here, 150 calories, is going to make a difference.

When you get that lean so make sure that you're able to put in the commitment to meet the expectations that you have about the results that you're going to get. If not you need to readjust your expectations. 

A lot of people just don't have patience for the fat loss process. It can be very slow. I've already mentioned muscle building. That's even slower. It is more along the lines of months. So you need like at least two months, 3 months, four months, five months and then you're looking at perhaps a year.

If you've been training for a long time you're only going to see incremental changes in muscle mass over time. Whereas perhaps in the first year you were impressed with how much growth you got.

Has Your Metabolism Slowed Down?

As I already mentioned fat loss does get harder as you get leaner. Partly because you're a smaller person.

I think there's this myth that obese people have slow metabolisms but they actually don't.

A larger body needs more calories to sustain itself. This is one of the reasons why it's difficult for people who are small naturally, a woman who's like 5 foot one, to maintain leanness. Because her body doesn't need a lot of calories to sustain itself.

Fat loss is way slower than most people would like. I know people panic.

"Oh I didn't lose a pound this week!"

If you are 5 lbs from your goal that process is way slower. It is not a pound a week.

The smaller you are the fewer calories your body needs to sustain itself.

Pushing Through To Reach Fat Loss

And if you get to that point and you get frustrated and you start to revert back to your old habits, start eating a bit more here and there, skipping workouts, then you're going to be sliding back to where you were again.

You have to really dig in at that point be persistent and keep the process going even if the changes that you see are very small.

That is really hard like I acknowledge that obviously if you only see small differences it's really hard to just keep going and stay motivated because you feel like it's not working it really is more about talking yourself through it.

Say: "No, I'm going to keep doing this!"

If after a month or so you don't see any changes at all in terms of your leanness then you'll have to make modifications to your program. Either your nutrition or your weight training or your cardio or your additional daily activity.

But if you are seeing small changes keep it going just keep working through it.

Why Most People Fail With Fat Loss

Most people are not willing to do that and it is very hard.

If you give up out of frustration like most people do then you'll never see those fat loss results you want.

This is what happens to 99% of people.

Most people don't have the mental resilience to continue past those challenges. Which is why I normally recommend that you have some sort of support, whether it's coaching or a community that you can rely on to push you through those tough spots.

That's one of the reasons I created my online program, The Lean & Strong Academy, where we have a community there of people to support you as you go through those sticking points.

When it gets hard. Or when there are challenges along the way.

Why Good Is The Enemy Of Great

I found working with clients for over 20 years now, that good can be the enemy of great.

People are in pretty good shape and they're starting to see a little bit of those abs along the top but they don't continue because they get to that point and realize that it's harder to get what they really want.

Which is maybe that full six-pack.

But the effort that's required just doesn't feel like it's worth it. Because they're already in good shape.

What's Your REASON?

At the end of the day it comes down to why does it matter to you?

Do you really need that six-pack.

It's not really good for anything. 

That's one of the reasons that people do things like fitness competitions, like I've done many in the past, or photo shoots.

Just so that they have a goal and a reason to get to that extra level of fat loss.

That level that is not sustainable for most people year round. But just being able to achieve it even that one time can show you exactly what it takes.

Most people will never choose to do that.

They'll keep waffling.

"Oh, I'm kind of in good shape."

Just because that's okay for their day-to-day lives.

It's always up to you how much fat loss you want. How lean you want to be.

Do you want to get ripped? Just to see what that experience is like?

It's going to take you some time and effort even to temporarily get those kinds of results .

The Right Support For Your Fat Loss Journey

Getting the right support is something that most people miss out on.

It's usually quite key because most people in your daily life probably are not super lean.

They have certain eating habits that are not going to be conducive to getting lean or staying lean.

They're not necessarily going to be supportive of your efforts. Because they might think it's really silly.

Most people will probably say, "Oh, you don't need a six-pack. Have some more fries, have this cake."

They're not really going to understand why you want to do this.

So it's important to have at least some people that you can turn to who are going to support you who kind of get what you're trying to do. Or are at least respectful of it.

Sometimes that's not within the closest people in your life.

Your family might have a completely different idea of what's a good idea and what's not.

It takes a certain kind of person to say, "I don't care what others think."

"I don't care what people think about how I eat or how I work out."

I'm pretty much there at this point in my life but to be honest you're looking at a person who brought a chicken breast to a vegan restaurant when I was having dinner with a friend.

Just because I really want to make sure I got my protein. Not everybody is like me and other people will be more influenced by others' desires to get them to eat certain foods.

At the end of the day what you eat is your choice. So take responsibility for those decisions that you make and decide which ones make sense for you.

To learn more about how fat loss works so you can get yourself on track to your goals watch THIS VIDEO HERE.

Ivana Chapman