You want to lose the spare tire around your stomach and you want to lose the bat wings you’ve suddenly developed on the back of your arms. You know…that extra stuff that hangs over your jeans and that jiggle that keeps waving long after you’ve stopped? I feel you. The stomach and upper arms are just two of the spots where women are blessed to store some extra fat (along with the thighs and the lovely “bra bulge” on our upper backs.
Follow the guidelines below, Mama, and you’ll be saying goodbye to those trouble spots!
What it really comes down to when we want to shrink our trouble zones is fat loss. While exercise is great for building muscle and certainly plays a part in the fat loss process, we have to first look at our eating habits because what matters the most is what goes into our body.
What is all comes down to when we want to lose fat is a caloric deficit. In other words, we need to burn more calories than we take in. BUT! Before you go running for the cardio, keep reading because my tips are far more effective than a shit ton of boring cardio 🙂
Here’s what I want you to do:
First, keep a 3-5 day food journal and write down everything you eat. Yes, that handful of chips needs to be written down. After 3-5 days take a good look at what you’re eating then see how you match up with the following guidelines. Look at where you can cut back or increase and change up certain food choices.
Below is a super simple layout of each food group, portion sizes and examples of what types we should eat when we’re wanting to lose fat.
As I mentioned before, a caloric deficit is the only absolute requirement for fat loss, however protein is a key player. Eating enough protein helps maintain muscle mass while losing fat which is the goal here. Protein will control hunger and keep us full and satisfied. Protein also keeps us feeling fuller for longer because it takes more time to break down and digest than carbs and fat.
How much and what kind?
Portion: 4-6oz or roughly the size of your palm
Serving: 4-6 servings per day
Foods: chicken breast, eggs or egg whites, lean ground turkey/chicken/beef, Greek yogurt, low fat cottage cheese and white fish.
Carbs are essential for providing and replenishing energy, especially before and after exercise. They’re also the main source of energy our brains use to function properly. Remember though, not all carbs are created equal. Eating a diet that is high sugar, pastries, cereals, bread, and pasta is a perfect storm for fat gain. Focus on more natural sources and center your carb intake around your workouts then eat them more sparingly throughout the day.
How much and what kind?
Servings: 3 to 4 servings on days where you exercise; 2-3 servings on rest days
Portion: Serving: 1/2c or 1 piece of fruit
Foods: potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes, corn, peas, brown rice, quinoa, fruit
Fat gets a really bad rap, however eating the right amount and types of fat will not make you fat- in fact, it will do the opposite. Adding healthy fats into your diet can help you stay fuller for longer, help with vitamin absorption, and can help raise good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering bad cholesterol (LDL). Fat can also improve our hair, skin and nails (think shiny, clear & strong) and let’s face it…it’s delicious.
Although fat has so many awesome qualities, we still want to somewhat monitor our intake during fat loss because it’s pretty high in calories.
How much and what kind?
Portion: 1 tablespoon of a nut butter/oil/butter, a palm full of nuts/seeds, ¼ of an avocado
Serving: Eat a 2-3 servings of fat per day
Foods: Choose fats like egg yolks, real butter, nuts, nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil, any nut oil and avocado.
Water helps us stay hydrated (duh), keeps our hunger at bay, helps our muscles grow and function and helps keep digestion going strong.
How much and what kind?
Aim for 2-3 liters per day. Start first thing in the morning with 1-2 glasses upon waking then just keep going.
Seltzer water is good if you like the bubbles, plain water with fruit or mint is great and decaf tea counts, too!
In short? Fast & heavy.
Now let me explain.
Fast = HIT workouts = post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC
High Intensity Training (HIT) workouts trigger something known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. After a short, intense workout, your body will continue to burn calories long after you have completed your workout. Whereas with steady state cardio, your body will stop burning calories once you’re done exercising.
Heavy = Lifting heavy = Building lean muscle mass
When you include HIT training into your exercise programming you’ll more than likely start to see your body become tighter and get that toned look that we all want so badly- quick. When we combine a tailored diet, HIT-style workouts and heavy lifting, we create a perfect scenario for fat loss because you’re now also building muscle and burning calories instead of just the latter. The more muscle you have on your body the more calories your body will burn at rest and throughout the day because your body has to work harder to maintain that muscle, which is ideal for fat loss!
Remember that ‘heavy’ is a relative term. If you’re just starting out, you might want to start with body weight exercises and work your way up. If you’re more experienced, you can start loading up the bar with some plates. In my experience, we’re always much stronger than we believe we are but just be cautious you’re using good form. You’ll know you’re lifting heavy enough if the last couple reps of your set are a bit of a struggle but still doable.
This is the most often overlooked aspect of fat loss. I mean we’re barely conscious when we’re sleeping…how can it effect out fat loss goals whatsoever? It can, and it does, big time. To start, our bodies repair, grow and recover when we sleep. When we’re overtired, we’re more likely to make less than ideal nutritional choices, we’re more tempted to skip the gym, and our hormones go nuts. Our stress and hunger hormones increase and our body is always looking for a quick boost. Enter sugar/soda/carby snacks. See how this can be a perfect storm for fat gain?
In an ideal world we’d get anywhere from 6-8 hours of sound sleep. Might sounds like a pipe dream for those with kids and work and dogs, etc, but if fat loss is your goal, you’ve gotta do the best you can. Sleep has to be a priority. If you can’t get a full nights sleep, prioritize some quiet time or a quick nap throughout the day, meditate, chill the F out.
But what about the bat wings and spare tire?!
Specific to our “trouble zones” as females we should focus on exercises like different variations of deadlifts, different variations of squats, pushups, pullups, kettlebell swings and sprints. I know…I didn’t list any kind of crunch or “ab exercise” and I didn’t list triceps extensions or kickbacks. It’s not that I don’t like those exercises, they certainly have their time and place, but we can’t spot reduce our trouble zones. I wish we could triceps dip our way to lean, tight, toned arms and plank our way to flat abs but it’s just not the way it is. The best way to get there is to clean up your diet, lift heavy using the movements I’ve listed above, sprint your ass off and for the love of God get some sleep.