Fat Loss – Sometimes the Fastest Way to Achieve Something, Is to Stop Chasing It

Sometimes the Fastest Way to Achieve Something Is to STOP Chasing It. (photo credit Vicki and Chuck Rogers)

 

Hey mate,

 

I hope this finds you better than ever.

 

As a long time student of the art and science of exercise, I love (I repeat LOVE) reading stories like the one posted on Timothy Ferriss’s blog about an old dude lifting up heavy stuff.

 

In case you missed it, Russian born strength coach extraordinaire Pavel Tsastouline posted a guest article on the need to set unrealistic goals, detailing the story of his father, who recently deadlifted 385lbs at a bodyweight of 185lbs. Age….um… 71.

 

(Way to go Pappy Tsatsouline, Kiwi two thumbs up. One day I will post the entire routine I used to help my mother – at the time aged 57 – to go from deadlifting the bar to DOUBLE bodyweight in just on 12 weeks. I love and am VERY proud of my Mumma).

 

Very cool stuff. Too many people I know go to the gym with no other goal in mind other than to “workout” or “get in shape” (most frequently, this is because they want to lose unwanted body fat).

 

As you are by now well, aware, I think the goals of being leaner, being healthier and being happier are great.

 

When you first start training, rocking up to your exercise sessions with the goal of “I want to lose 20lbs of FAT” (by the way, always, always, insert the words “of fat” not WEIGHT), or “I want to see my abs” is pretty cool.

 

The problem is, as goals go, after a period of time, the goal and modality of “losing fat” can get pretty old, and with it progress, motivation, and happiness with exercise can stall big time.

 

Frustration (and bad habits), often set in.

 

I see it ALL the time, especially in women, but also in “Los Dudes”

 

Please answer the following questions:

 

If you are chasing fat loss as your primary goal, how long have you been chasing it for?

 

How long have you been chasing it for continuously?

 

How often do you completely change your entire exercise routine and focus?

 

AND …….. How is all that working out for you?

 

Allllllll righty then.

 

A very close friend of mine could hold the record for this, as she chased fat loss as her sole exercise goal, with no exception for nearly TWELVE years straight.

 

Misery.

 

Misery for her due to frustration, a lack of progress (and boredom, hello?), and misery for everyone near her who had to listen to her go on about “I’m still a bit fat, I just can’t get these last pounds off.”

 

Oh she never got or looked truly “fat” (or anywhere near it), but the whole time she was chasing fat loss she never closed out that last little bit and got the “ripped” look either (which is what she was after).

 

Strangely enough, in 12 years, there were two exceptions.

 

1. When she started training with another girl and that girl’s trainer, who entered them into a little gym clean and jerk competition. The result was that without knowing it she focused on a new program that had the primary goal of getting stronger for 4 weeks (as opposed to fat loss).

 

Voila, a much happier, more content, way more energetic, and less stressed lady, and, strangely enough….abs.

 

2. When she took 2 months off her “same old” training format of metabolic conditioning workouts and stressing about fat loss, to focus 100% on a paleo ketogenic diet, and adjusted her training completely to reduce stress and cortisol levels.

 

Her goal: better sleep, less stress and cortisol, and ending a 15 year spell of monthly migraines.

 

It worked, no more monthly migraines.

 

As a happy side effect, after 4 weeks, doing less than HALF the exercise volume she had been previously, she was a MUCH happier lady, and had, you guessed it….. abs.

 

How can this be?

 

Mental issues such as stressing about the fat loss goal, boredom, and frustration aside (none of which help) – most fat loss programs emphasize metabolic conditioning (frequently referred to as “met con”) over anything else.

 

You know, lots of work, little rest.

 

This is great, it works absolute wonders to reverse various forms of metabolic disorder, and can definitely set you up on a path for fat loss.

 

For a time.

 

Then it stops. Many people then try to ADD more to the metcon workout volume to change this up (you can’t keep adding more forever, trust me. Or better yet, trust super coach Eric Cressey).

 

Or worse, you are in the “cardo for fat loss” camp, and you think that sitting on that eliptical for 40 minutes or going for a 6 mile run is the key to losing fat.

 

Errrr, you are dreaming mate. Or if you want me to be a polite Kiwi…

 

There is a better way.

 

Our bodies adapt to everything we throw at them. We require variety to continue adaptation. The longer and longer you throw the same type of programming at your body, the less and less your body will adapt as time goes on. You will get more and more efficient at doing that particular type of exercise, and fewer body changes will result. (If you are training in a format that tends to push the limits continuously, without allowing for intelligent back off periods and progression, then you will likely burn out, get injured, or have excessive cortisol issues).

 

The result, progress stalls, burn out is common, results and mental happiness suffer.

 

If you have bad habits or are ignoring some area of your physical development injuries and physical problems can frequently result…..Woe woe.

 

Hardly the happiness goal you are looking for.

 

For plenty of people doing intense met con sessions all the time, a form of overtraining frequently kicks in, resulting in excessive cortisol production, messed up hormone profiles and… anger baby…. All of which just makes life worse, and with the cortisol, leads to INCREASED body fat, especially around your mid-section.

 

This sucks. I have been there. Your fat loss efforts stall, you get puffy, sleep doesn’t come easily and overall, you feel beat up and not very good.

 

Whether you are in that overly “met conned” state, or if you are even remotely in the “I’ve been chasing xyz for 3 months” camp….. then lets change that shall we.

 

Whatever you have been doing up until now in terms of exercise, I want you to stop and look at the last three months very carefully.

 

When was the last time you changed, completely, the focus and type of your exercise/training?

 

Are you training just to “lose fat”?

 

How have your workouts varied?

 

Are you training to put on muscle? Again, how have your workouts varied?

 

Are you trying to get better at a sport, more powerful, more explosive, or just look and feel more dynamic when you are walking around?

 

My point: when was the last time you changed your program?

 

Do you periodize ANY of your training?

 

When was the last time you entered into a brand new, high motor skill activity or sport?

 

Darn it, when was the last time you did something NEW?

 

If you are CHASING FAT LOSS through metabolic conditioning especially, read this:

 

In my experience, 8 weeks is the magic maximum number when beginners begin training with met con. 12 weeks at the absolute most. (Less if you are more experienced). Even inside the met con phase, change your exercise routine every 3 to 4 weeks at a minimum.

 

At the end of the 8 to 12 weeks, STOP metabolic conditioning as your focus/mode of training and play with something completely different.

 

Your body, AND your fat loss will thank me for it.

 

Some ideas:

 

Pick up a new sport or activity, and change and limit your in gym time and focus to augment that activity.

 

Choose a competition (in anything) or even a race and go for it. Your exercise is now about performance.

 

Try focusing on STRENGTH at the gym, enter into some block periodization with strength as the goal. Yes ladies, that includes you too.

 

Consider leaving the gym completely for a month, and focusing on something outdoors or social based.

 

(If you don’t currently go to a gym, well, time to sign up with a good trainer and get in there and get strong. Smart resistance training crushes all comers for dramatic body changes).

 

If you currently do nothing but met con in the gym, and love the gym, try changing your focus to strength for a while. You will thank me for it.

 

If you are looking to add muscle at the gym all the time, try changing your focus to pure strength as well, when you go back to your muscle building workouts, your new strength will GREATLY assist you.

 

If you are currently a strength athlete, and have been training for strength for a while, consider changing your entire focus for a period to mobility, balance, acceleration, speed, and explosive changes of direction. It is a lot of fun, and you can learn to use that strength to become a walking, running, dynamic bad-a*s, with genuine real world capabilities.

 

Want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp? Well, train for it and then do it.

 

The list is endless.

 

All that matters is that you have a new focus, new motivation, new neural and metabolic stimulus, and an understanding that you can’t chase the same thing for a long period of time in your exercise without changing things up a little.

 

At the very least, make your next three weeks in the gym/exercise look completely different to everything you have done in the last few months.

 

Trainers call this periodization, and it works.

 

So please, stop CHASING Fat Loss, and try something new.

 

I call it chasing happiness, and it works too.

 

Two closing thoughts:

 

1) if you are not currently doing any exercise, get off your arse and go do something. Right now. You have a birthright to be a lean, dynamic, energetic and healthy animal. Stop offending your genetics and go do something.

 

Happiness will result, I promise you.

 

2) and far more relevant to most of us: FEAR.

 

Many people experience a lot of FEAR in choosing a new activity/sport/goal.

 

Regardless of what fears you may have that are holding you back from going out there and DOING it, I challenge you to step up and just give it a go.

 

You can do it. The human animal is an amazing creature.

 

Just start, it is all you have to do…… just start.

 

I think you will surprise yourself.

 

If you want some motivation, consider this, one of my three favorite quotes of all time:

 

“But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money–booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

 

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

 

 

(This is from William Hutchinson Murray (1913-1996), from his 1951 book entitled The Scottish Himalayan Expedition, the final couplet attributed to Goethe is in fact, from a man called John Anster).

 

 

Give something new a go. It is likely to result in improved body composition. And if it results in some personal growth and happiness too, more the better.

 

“100% Focus on Happiness”

 

That is my mantra, and it starts with phenomenal health.

 

 

Best,

 

 

Chris “The Kiwi” Ashenden

 

 

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About the author
Chris 'The Kiwi'
So named because he comes from a little country in the Pacific called New Zealand where a small, fat, quasi-blind, and largely defenseless bird by the name of “Kiwi” is the national animal, and what we are called when we land in other countries. He is focused on using what he can remember from his studies for a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science and his cumulative years as a nutritionist and strength coach to help other people enjoy amazing levels of health and energy. He enjoys ticking through his list of life goals and meeting new people.
  • #1yankee fan

    really like your tips.

  • Lady di

    So many points are spot on! Machine exercise failed, diet techniques failed, misery and guilt. Then came decision to join local gym that offered Crossfit. Truly fought myself to get thru introduction classes. Definitely fought myself getting into vehicle for workout days – stuck it out and getting results at last. Falling in love with strength training, seeing my body transform to be more healthy; blood work test results show Paleo working too. I’m 56yrs and getting healthy,youthful feeling back. DEF interested in your Mom’s workout too! Thanks Chris for encouragement and products. Life changing in more ways that can be said:)

    • Anonymous

      That is awesome Lady Di!

      Way to go for you to get after it so well and keep after it.

      Thank you for your very kind words.

      Best,

      C

      Chris Ashenden

  • Djkristenc

    Thank you so much for the free green Package. That was great to open and be surprised . Your running your company really great combo of Hands on access to you Chris , great customer service , and very informative no bs ways to point me in the right direction with using the greens in better ways . Def a company I am looking forward to watching grow. Best of luck and thanks again for you helpful articles and responses to users questions. Just great business

    • Anonymous

      Hey mate,

      Thank you so much for posting this here. Your feedback means a huge amount to me, reading this makes me very happy. I really appreciate your loyalty and I hope you continue to hold me and our entire organization to a very high standard.

      Best,

      Chris

  • Joyce

    I’ve been taking the Athletic Greens for a while now (love them) but am just getting started on the fat loss life. I had hip surgery 6 weeks ago – replaced a bad hip device that has poisoned me with metal) and am also starting chelation therapy. So – my question is – how much of the Greens should I take (I also am doing cracked cell chlorella and cilantro), I didn’t see if breakfast was to be within an hour of rising – if so – does that first hit of Athletic Greens, although not a meal, accomplish that? And, I just threw a piece of chicken on the scale – it weighted 93 grams raw. If this is the case, if I were 200 pounds, would that mean I would just have to eat approximately a little over 2 pieces of chicken to get the total protein count for the day? That seemed awfully easy so I think I am missing something. And, last question, since I am just doing physical therapy type exercises at this point, does that reduce the amount of anything that I am eating and taking? Thanks for any answers – this is a great blog and product!

    • Anonymous

      Joyce,

      If you go through the questions and comments on each of the food for fat loss series emails (there are five of them), I cover each of these in a lot of detail. If you go to christhekiwi.com/start-here/ and read in order I think you will do great.

      In terms of Athletic Greens, no, I would not treat as a meal replacement. However, during your chelation, I would take 1 full serving of Athletic Greens every 2-4 hours, (1 heaped tablespoon) since your body is not going to enjoy the chelation, at all. Some people advise you not to eat mineral containing foods during chelation but that is crock to me, since pretty much everything you eat will have minerals in it, and the health risks can be pretty high with chelation, so I say stack the deck in your favor.

      After you have finished the chelation, I would keep the dose high for a week or so, then drop back to just one tablespoon a day on waking.

      In terms of appetite, that is covered in the blog post series.

      Hope that helps!

      Chris

  • Rthornton1282

    Thanks Chris, this is just what I needed to hear today!! Another good quote”change is the only thing that remains the same” Have a great day. and thanks again

    • Anonymous

      thanks mate!

  • Wwhite56

    Thanks Kiwi, this is just what I needed. As a 56 year old woman, I’m also interested in your mum’s program. I’m getting great results from Athletic Greens, Omega 3 and not eating fruit, it’s just very slow great results. Your post is spot on, I’m looking to sign up with a new trainer and try something NEW! thanks kiwi, you’re a peach!

    • Anonymous

      Good stuff mate. Hope you go after it. Are you following the guidelines here christhekiwi.com/139/ for eating for fat loss?

      • Wwhite56

        I’m pretty darn close to exact on the guidelines. Grass fed beef, wild oily fish and shell fish, range chicken, organic lamb and pork (not much of these), lots of organic vegies, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, I feel better than I ever have in my life. No fruit until I’m ripped. I liked what you said about handfuls of nuts, you can’t have just one, so I’m limiting those and seeds. I’m doing Athletic Greens, about 6 caps of your omega 3 fish oils, as well as magnesium for sleep, NOW super enzymes for digestion, black cohosh and evening primrose oil for menopause symptoms. I could up the fish oil for thirty days and see what happens. My theory is that I’m older, have had a couple of kids and the women in my family tend to have a pot belly. It’s going to take a little longer for me to firm this area up than if I were 20 years younger. I’ve been carrying it around a long time! Vitamin D has been hard to come by here in the winter of Utah, but that will be fixed soon. I appreciate your willingness to help those of us who are starting out on this path. I don’t necessarily want to live a really long time, but if I am going to live a long time, I want to be healthy. I like to play. thanks Kiwi!

  • Polina

    Thank you, this just made my day :)

    • Anonymous

      Actually mate, you have just made mine! Thank you

  • Veronica

    LOVE THIS!!!: “if you are not currently doing any exercise, get off your arse and go do something. Right now. You have a birthright to be a lean, dynamic, energetic and healthy animal. Stop offending your genetics and go do something.”

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Veronica. All true :)

  • JoannF54

    Yes, can you please post the program you used with your mom,I am also 57years old and in the worst shape of my life, I’m so unhappy I also have a few health issues which are vascular disease and a thyroid disease I just started eating healthy it’s only a week but I’m happy I finally made the decision to start to eat healthy,it’s not easy but I want to be healthy, can you give me any advice?? Joann

  • Wendy

    I love this, I have plateaued. It is not my trainer, but me! I need more changes in my life. This has given me a new outlook. My trainer changes my workout all of the time… Don’t like when I don’t know what to expect but I respect his approach and know it’s best for me. I need to change my food more often, change the days I am responsible to myself. I like the new goal theory…I have a long, long bucket list. Time to make it happen. Several are physical challenges…and yea, that 20 lb comment strikes home. I have around 20ish lbs to lose, after a nearly 63 lb weight loss. I will never quit, I will keep trying different strategies! Thanks!!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Wendy. Your feedback means a lot. I am proud of you for attacking it. If you want my take on eating for Fat Loss (and you missed it) then check out my Food for Fat Loss post here: christhekiwi.com/139/

  • Melissa

    Oh, PLEASE post the program you used with your mother. I’d love to see it!

    • Anonymous

      Okie dokie. In the pipeline. I can remember the bulk of it, will have to see if I can pull it up.

  • Cbrooks105

    Would P90X fit into this plan?

    • Tey

      As long as it’s not the same type of workouts you were doing before hand why not. Just dont do it for the same goals as whatever you were doing prior to the p90 session.

      • Anonymous

        Hey mate. Pretty much what Tey said. If you have been doing P90X for more than a couple of months I would consider changing it right up. If not, and you like them (and do them) then go after it!

        Thanks Tey :)

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