We all have heard the whole, “Exercise less, eat less” mantra for fat loss. And while it may be true for some people, it’s not the subject of this article.
Also, quick disclaimer: this is not actually a “Secret Diet Plan,” “21-day recipe for skinny” article etc. It’s an article about perspective.
It’s about taking on a relaxed mindset when it comes to losing fat.
It’s about how being honest with yourself and embracing laziness can help you lose more weight, over time.
Let me tell you a story:
When I begin working with a new client I give them a short assignment before day one of their program.
After I set their guidelines and explain how the program works, I ask them to come up with a “rough draft” of how they plan to hit the numbers in the guidelines created for their first week.
I ask them to map out their meals and snacks as they feel will best fit into their daily routine.
The rules for the rough draft are very simple:
- make sure includes foods you like
- use the foods you normally seek out
- try your best to include veggies
- make sure it fits the calorie and protein guidelines
What’s funny (and also an awesome testimony to beginners’ motivation) is that I often get these very detailed, perfectly planned out sheets revealing plans of, “a little kale here, 1/2 of an egg there, 12 celery stalks, 10 raisins and some steamed swiss chard” all perfectly planned.
But let’s get real here, how many of us actually cook and eat like Martha Stewart every day?
Is it realistic to live in such a way that requires eating five different types of vegetables, complex recipes and no flavor?
What happens when you get invited to a dinner? What happens when life gets #turnt?
Another quick disclaimer: I am not harping on being specific and precise with measuring because for my short, smaller framed clients especially, being very, very precise can make or break you– check out this article .
Eating like Martha Stewart can be semi-feasible if you frequent Whole Foods often; but it is not easy on the wallet.
For most of us, the only chance you’ll catch us eating swiss chard or other types of exciting veggies, (purple cauliflower anyone?) is if they happened to be in the salad bar at our office building.
I always make sure to ask my clients, “Is that how you would normally eat?”
It is as if some of them assume because they are now on a “nutrition plan” or have a coach they must eat like the magazines say, try a bunch of new recipes and eat flawless meals for fat loss.
This is simply not true.
Just because you want to lose weight doesn’t always mean you need an entire overhaul; chances are you need a better understanding of how much to eat and how to manage strategically eating less than usual.
And, I would argue there are several negatives to trying extra hard with recipes and “over planning” if you will:
- The more ingredients included at each meal the more likely some people are to over eat.
- The more complex the preparation is the less likely you are to stay consistent with it.
- The more “outside your comfort zone it is” the more difficult it wile to ingrain it as a hard habit.
So what is the “perfect plan?”
Do you remember a time when all you ate was broccoli and chicken?
Hands up if you have ever believed that you *had* to eat spinach, tuna salad, peanut butter and rice cakes for success…. and only maintained that routine for like two weeks.
The perfect plan is the one that fits your guidelines AND is one you can do day-in and day-out.
I call it the Lazy Man’s [fat Loss] Plan.
This “Lazy Man’s Plan” is the idea that you can do less work and accomplish more because consistency is locked in– you never miss a day of staying in your guidelines because you have fat loss systems that allow you to hit your numbers no matter what.
Yup! Be lazy, lose weight.
The Lazy Man’s [fat loss] Plan is pretty simple and quite stress free.
It does take time, trial and error to come up with the perfect fat loss systems for you and the systems might also switch over time.
For instance, I used to at a “Carb Master” yogurt with 1.5 tablespoons of peanut butter every morning. That was my go-to for about two years in college. I now have a different go-to breakfast but I keep things consistent for several months at a time until I feel ready to try something else.
Here are the three steps with excellent examples of the Lazy Man’s [Fat Loss] Plan:
1. Know yourself.
Lazy people usually own up to their laziness. They accept the fact that they’d rather stay on the couch all day Saturday than do anything else and they friggin’ own it!
Be yourself when you plan for fat loss.
Look at your past, evaluate your present and think hopefully into the future…
How do you want to live five years from now?
Is tilapia and oatmeal the way to go, forever?
(No offense to tilpia, seriously, read this).
[Aside from those of you who have short timelines for your goals], think long term.
Think numbers. Think about what you really like.
I have a client who loves vanilla ice cream so much that he includes it in every high calorie day no matter what.
And, there’s another thing about sustainability and fat loss: What if the “healthy” broccoli and kale and carrot juice regimen you think you have to follow to get results is actually hurting you progress?
Let me explain: if you rely on drinking two juices a day, but feel like you go “off plan” on the weekends it might be because you aren’t getting enough during the week. I can’t tell you how many clients come to me and tell me they barely eat 1,200 calories through the work week but on the weekends they feel like they overeat… maybe the juices you are drinking just aren’t enough? Maybe you are creating a larger deficit than is manageable and then on the weekend you feel ravenous?
In the past what have you done to try and lose weight that has worked?
What hasn’t worked?
If there is something you plan to eat to lose weight and after two days you can’t even fathom the thought of how it smells, chances are you need a new go-to breakfast or snack.
I have a client who successfully lost about sixty pounds at one point in her life on her own. She had lot of great things locked in, due to incredibly high motivation. However after a few years the weight started to creep back on slowly but surely. Instead of going back to her old systems she chased the quick juice cleanses, 21 day-fixes and more in order to get back into shape fast.
Remember, just like relationships, we live and we learn. There are always positives to be drawn from experiences we have of which to carry with us forever.
If you have lost weight before, think back to when you were in the thick of it… what did you like about it?
Was there anything you think you did that really helped you stay on track?
Go back to things that have once worked but make them better.
Presently if you only eat well when you workout consistently, maybe you should keep the exercise going, but be realistic with that. Can you exercise everyday for two hours forever?
What if you get injured? Try and tone it down to three to four days a week and prioritize lower calorie days on your rest days.
I know that I am far more likely to succeed when I am not trying to eat like Martha Stewart. I am best when I keep things simple:
- protein shake with veggies and fruit once per day
- egg beaters and oats once per day
- Quest bar a few times a week
- egg white salad with chicken or turkey at lunch almost every day
- Tripact protein in a container (coupon code: “daretomove” if you want to try it for 20% off)
- a nice dinner + cocktail usually once a week.
Doing all of the aforementioned things make me happy. I will literally do all of those things every week unless something gets in the way.
I microwave my eggs and oats.
I could make my shake in my sleep.
Is there a lot of sodium in my egg white salad? Yes. Is it affecting me negatively? No.
All of these things are a part of my lifestyle because they are sustainable for me.
I feel full, energized happy and they fit in my calorie guidelines. Hell, I probably also have one sweet treat a week too! Whether it’s arctic zero, a Reeses, a donut or an extra quest bar, I find a way to fit something sweet in my diet.
Takeaway: Do what you feel comfortable and that keeps your calories in a slight deficit over time. To find a slight deficit, multiply your bodyweigth by 12 if you are active or 11 is you are not very active.
Example: 150 pound woman could find a slight deficit of eating (150×12=1800) 1,800 calories per day.
2. Make your fat loss steps convenient
Back to the guy on the couch example… if all he had near him was a pantry with chips, he would eat those. If the pantry had quest bars he would eat those. He would not think much about it.
Don’t overthink your fat loss plan. Don’t make it hard on yourself.
If you are relying on one specific snack or food that is only sold at a certain grocery store one hour away from your home you are young to be SOL when it runs out.
Let’s say you make this delicious quiche recipe that is so complex it needs 32 ingredients.
Unless you set aside ample preparation time on Sundays, it probably isn’t something on which to rely.
If you haven’t read my article 5 Nutrition Hacks for Busy People with Little Time, check it out, it may give you some ideas to help with convenience.
Don’t be so tough on yourself. Be realistic. If you like having toast in the morning, have toast, track it and move on.
If you like cereal try adding a side of protein with it, but keep it in your diet if it’s a natural part of your lifestyle.
I am a huge fan of cereal and I love adding it into my day a few times a week. I fit it in by making sure to supplement it with extra protein, just like Bret Contreras spells out at the end of this article.
So what can you rely on? Well, things that are packable, things that you LOVE to eat, and things you can make in your sleep.
Literally. I know I can whip up some eggs and oats in no time and I always have both of those ingredients around the house. I keep a huge bag of gluten free oats in the cabinet and it takes me a few months to finish!
Also, back to the whole “knowing yourself” thing… are you a morning person, or a night owl?
I know that I am up and at it each day and so I don’t typically prep too much the night before.
However, I do know on mornings I am tired I will want reach for a quest bar if it is in plain sight. So I make sure to put them in an odd cabinet and put my oats on the counter so I reach for them first thing in the morning.
Set up your own defenses.
Just like we all set five alarms in case we ignore the first one, or we set our workout clothes out the night before, plan some convenient, quick and easy meals like microwaved eggs, packed foods etc.
If I don’t have a general plan, I just kind of float.
I like having a plan.
I love knowing that I have actionable steps to follow to stay on track every day. This is why I coach people this way, I want them to find a plan they think is do-able before Day 1 so they don’t feel like they are winging it each day.
Do you ever feel like that?
Try mapping out a plan the night before you go to bed that involves little steps. Remember just like calories-in for the week as a whole is all that matters, same with nutritents.
If you don’t get every single vegetable or fat into your diet every day, you will be OK.
You can eat more vitamin D the next day, get more vitamin K with a kale shake the following day. Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Fat loss happens through a caloric deficit so the easiest way you can achieve a deficit the better.
Takeaway: Do things that are convenient! Don’t overthink it.
Example: If you buy one pound of meat, instead of worrying about weighing/measuring it each time, if you live alone, just cook the entire pound and make sure you break it up into four portions.
Then, for the week as a whole you can count on the fact that you had 16 ounces of meat and you can track 4 ounces each time you eat, and don’t worry about weighing each perfect portion, just eye ball it and make sure you divide it into four servings.
3. Do not Stress
In the same vein as the one pound meat example, do not stress too too much about being “perfect.”
If you miss a workout, it’s fine! Chances are you got extra sleep, delayed your breakfast and not have less awake hours to be eating anyway!
Know that so long as you are tracking what you are eating to the best of your ability and you are staying within calorie numbers that create a deficit, whether it is a donut that takes up 150 of your calories for the day or a scrumtrulescent stew with ALL THE VITAMINS… calories-in is what matters.
So long as you control that, you are going to make progress.
And, I am not that lazy but I can be lazy, and so can my clients. (Lazy is a relative term any way). My point in all of this, is that losing weight is a numbers game over time.
You gotta have patience and a plan that WORKS.
When I say plan that WORKS… the only way to say a plan “works” or is successful is if it can be followed day in and day out.
For those of you who think eating five to six meals a day every day WORKS, then you’re right, because it works for you.
If five meals doesn’t work for you, no sweat! Eat three because thats what YOU prefer and what keeps YOU from overeating.
For those of you who say eating veggies every meal WORKS for fat loss, it does, for you. Maybe having greens at every meal improves you digestion and feeling good motivates you to stay on track.
For those of you who rely on packaged protein snacks and the Whole Foods salad bar, HOLLA! Just kidding, but seriously, whatever strategies that you come up with to fit YOUR lifestyle WILL WORK if they fit well enough that you can do them day in and day out without much thinking, too much time prepping or stress.
Finding ways to be lazy and ways hit your numbers takes time and practice.
I used to make these really yummy overnight oats with like seven ingredients.
They were SO good.
However, I not only realized I always wanted MORE of them and had trouble with portion control and I also didn’t have patience to make them each morning.
I switched my “system” to something simpler. No, it does’t have the cinnamon, the dash of vanilla, the 1/2 teaspoon of PB but it has carbs and protein. It fills me up. It tastes good.
I switched to the much much simpler egg beaters and oats. All I have to do is literally pour the egg beaters and oats together in a container and put them in the microwave with a little salt and sugar-free syrup and I am good-to-go!
Don’t push yourself to uncomfortable limits with your nutrition.
Stay true to your person and your own natural inclinations to food. From there find modifications if needed to include more protein (think .7 to 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight). The 150 pound woman could have 150 grams of protein, for example.
Try some of these hacks for more ideas on how to fuel yourself, hit your numbers and see progress.
Channel your inner-lazy dog! You will be more consistent when less effort is needed to stay within your calories! The more often you achieve the caloric deficit, the more weight you will lose over time. You will take less steps backward.
If you are unsure of what numbers to set for yourself to create a caloric deficit, or how exactly to mange a deficit feel free to email me, or insert your email address in the box below– your will receive my free ebook that explains how to roughly find those guidelines in Chapter 8!