What’s the best way to burn fat? How
do I lose the fat from my belly and
under my arms? What’s the best
type of exercise to lose weight and
tone up? These are the most common
sorts of questions I’ve had day after day, week
after week and year after year of working as a health
and fitness professional. But the answers to these
questions are far from straightforward. As humans
we are all unique and complex individuals and what
works for one person will not necessarily work for another.
Yes, there are some simple guidelines that you
can follow in order to burn body fat but there are also
additional considerations to take into account.
One consideration encompasses the notion that
you are a unique and complex individual. I could
prescribe the same weight-training program for two
young men and one might put on weight, and the
other might lose weight. It’s also the same for nutrition—
two people consuming the same diet can
achieve two very different outcomes.
Another example of our uniqueness is fat and
muscle distribution. I can eat all I like and will put on
very little fat around my hips and thighs—it’ll all goes
on my arms, chest and stomach. The majority of women
are different however, with the hips and thighs being
predominant areas for fat storage. Again, some
people (most commonly men!) seem to be able to
eat all they like and not put on an ounce of fat. Men
and women store fat differently and women are more
likely to store fat after menopause.
How could that be you ask? Again, we are all
unique. We have different genetic makeups, e.g.,
predisposition for fat storage; different levels of hormones
being distributed throughout our bodies,
e.g., men and women store fat differently due to the
sex hormones; different food intolerances, different
stresses and strains being placed on our bodies—we
have not yet been designed as clones to produce a
uniform external response to the things we are putting
into our bodies.
Does this make it sound like it’s too difficult to
burn body fat? It’s not. It just takes a little bit of trial
and error on your part. If something isn’t working then
change what you’re doing. There’s a great quote that
says, ‘stupidity is repeating the same thing every day
but expecting a different outcome.’ But before you
jump up and cry in exasperation, ‘none of this is working!’
first give it a good fair chance to start working.
Often this requires three to four weeks of doing
something consistently and then you will only usually
see and feel very small changes starting to happen.
Frustrating? Yes. But in reality this is how sustainable
fat burning happens—slowly but surely.
Seriously though, before we go any further, let’s just clarify your expectations based on the previous
point. How many years have you been gradually gaining
weight for? Five? Ten? Twenty or more? If you
have been gaining weight over these sorts of time
periods then you absolutely cannot expect your body
will respond to your demands to strip fat right away.
If your body has been working on fat storage over the
years, then this is what it knows how to do. There
will be a huge array of functions in the body that are
working at a less than optimal level, so there’s a lot
for the body to learn, in order for changes to happen.
I have seen too many people over the years with the
goal of burning fat that really do give up before they
give their body a chance to adapt to a new way of
living. It seems absurd to me that there has been no
major drive to change over the previous years and
then suddenly it’s a case of, “This must happen now!”
I know there is always something that has tipped the
scales and driven the powerful desire for change (this
is a subject for another day), but please do be realistic
with your expectations and respect that the road
to success is always under construction—it’s going
to be a bumpy ride.
If you don’t have the patience for this then jump
back on board with diet X, Y or Z, because after all,
they’ve worked for you in the past right? Wrong! If
they worked for you in the past you wouldn’t be here
reading this article, because you would have continued
to be an efficient fat burning machine and you
wouldn’t need my help. The reality is that diet X, Y
or Z wasn’t sustainable in the long term. It put your
body in a position where it was missing out on something
it needed. It thought there was a bit of a famine
going on so it held on to some extra fat cells just in
case the next meal was a long way away.
And with these increased fat cells, your ability to
burn fat decreased and your cravings for the wrong
types of foods – the foods you ‘couldn’t have’ – increased.
So you tried another diet and that one didn’t
work either because when you stopped it, your fat
cells invited more of their friends to come and join
them, just in case this famine thing was going to
The more times that you have repeated this cycle;
the harder it becomes to burn fat. Your body just
doesn’t trust you anymore! If this is what you’ve been
doing to yourself then don’t be surprised if your body
takes a while to respond to your demands for it to
strip fat. After all, it’s mighty suspicious of what’s
next on your agenda and survival is most important
on its list.
Optimal nutrition is a huge part of burning body
fat. I’m sure you’re aware that exercise also plays a
major role. But do you know how stress, sleep, your
thoughts and relationships all make up a significant
part in this equation?
My holistic fat burning book ‘Burning Fat for
Good’ encompasses all of these areas. It’s suitable
for those of you who have exhausted your dieting options
and are ready for a new approach—one that
treats the body with respect and recognizes that you
are an individual.
Let’s have one final reality check. Place your right
hand on your right hipbone. Place your left hand on
your left hipbone. Now place your right hand on the
bone at the corner of your right shoulder. Place your
left hand on the bone at the corner of your left shoulder.
This is called your bone structure. No amount of
nutrition, exercise, stress, sleep, thoughts or relationship
focus is going to change this. So learn to love
your bone structure as it is, and instead focus on the
things you can in fact have an effect on.
Enjoy the journey; master one new habit at a time,
and your body will love you for it.