Friday, July 3, 2015

Opening the mailbag, for yet another fat-loss question

I get this one fairly often, always from a woman -- not because guys don't have the same issue, just because... oh hell, I don't know. Guys just generally don't ask each other these things.

I'll paraphrase:

"Hi Steve, so I'm eating (mostly) paleo, pretty low-carb. I'm doing CrossFit metcons three or four times a week and lifting heavy those same days. My sleep's pretty good, at least seven hours a night, often more. I'll cut to the chase: WHY CAN'T I LOSE BODY FAT?!?!? I'm stronger than I have ever been. I'm also leaner than I was when I started to change my food and exercise habits, but I'm nowhere near where I want to be in terms of body comp. What the hell? Suggestions?"

Just about a year ago, I did a blog post called "How can I lose body fat?"

The answer is definitely in there, but I'm going to give a hint at an even simpler solution. Because here's the thing.... our protagonist isn't starting from Step One. She's been at this thing for a while. She's not eating food from packages. She's all about prepping her meals and eating real food. She's picking up heavy shit and putting it down on a regular basis. And still she has hit a plateau. Her body fat isn't budging.

For the next month, my friend, don't change anything except for two things:
(1) stop drinking alcohol and (2) take a walk for at least an hour every day at the fastest pace you can walk.

At the end of that month, you'll know whether you are making progress. And you will be, because you are already eating pretty well, sleeping well and lifting heavy. Then, once progress is made, you can decide how, or if, you need to modify this, or any other, aspect of your routine.

I've said it a bunch before, and I will say it a lot more in the future: alcohol -- I love it. But it screeches fat loss to an awful, untimely halt. If you are fatter than you want to be and you are still drinking alcohol, stop. Just stop. Like a wise man once sang, "Not forever. Just for now." But, really.... STOP until you get to where you want to be body-comp-wise. Then play around with it. But, until then, you are, metaphorically speaking, trying to sprint with your shoelaces tied together. Fat loss in any significant amount is unlikely to happen while you keep drinking. It's fine to drink a little if mere maintenance is your goal, but fat loss? Nope.

And daily walking? It's the missing low-stress/low-cortisol component in almost everyone's fat-loss protocol. Let me guess.... you think walking is boring. I have no answer for that, except this: if you walk at a brisk pace for at least an hour a day, it works wonders for fat loss. It's also -- perhaps because it is so free of thrill-a-minute excitement -- a pretty decent sub for daily meditation. You know... it focuses you on the here and now. (And if I had to add one additional cortisol/stress-lowering activity to your fat-loss protocol, it would be meditation). So think of walking as the way to kill two birds with one stone. If you leave the headphones at home and just walk for walking's sake, you'll simultaneously be stoking your body's engine and metabolism for fat loss and you'll be clearing your head of the unwanted muck of the modern world.

And seriously, if , like most of us, you are a resident of the northern hemisphere of our big blue orb, when is there a better time to start a walking routine than summer? That'd be right now. Hell, there's daylight out the wazoo. Take advantage of it. 

Then you'll even sleep better than you are now, which, un-coincidentally, helps fat loss too.

Everything affects everything, folks. And if you are stuck in the fat-loss department despite eating only real food and having a solid heavy-lifting routine, put the drink(s) down and take a walk. Every day. For a month. You'll like the results. Then, like the grown-ass woman (or man) that you are, you can decide where to take things from there.


  1. I find walking in the morning, before getting ready for work, when things are quiet and my mind is fresh, gets the best results for overall feeling of well being as well as getting sleep-wake cycles in sync.

  2. Great post. Taking walks is definitely underrated (for a number of reasons). We wrote about that here:

  3. Great points. No wine for me tonight and a good long brisk walk.