If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time you should know by now that I’m an avid reader. Reading is something that’s incredibly important to me, and I actively make time each and every day to get my reading done.
Part of this is because I view myself first and foremost as a writer. Any good writer has to in turn be a great reader. That’s one of those universal laws that you can’t argue. The other part is that I just enjoy reading. I always have.
As such, I’ve become more and more obsessed with the work and lives of some of the greatest writers known to man, true masters of the written word. People like Hemingway, Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, Chuck Palahniuk and others.
Reading great writing can be intoxicating. You get lost in the pages, and you recognize just how insanely good these people are at their craft. It’s both inspiring, and disheartening.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve read a satirical line from Vonnegut that made me want to give up on trying to be funny. Or read a story from Hemingway that made me realize I’ll never be able to tell a story like that.
But no matter how discouraged I may get from reading the outstanding work of these literary titans, there’s always something I go back to; a mantra of sorts.
Everything in life is a skill.
We don’t often think of writing as a skill. We just see the timeless works that Hemingway released and think that was it. Except the final product is only a tip of the iceberg.
For example: Hemingway rewrote the ending to A Farewell To Arms a reported 39 times before he had it just right. If you’ve ever read the book, you know about this ending. If you haven’t, go watch Silver Linings Playbook. Bradley Martin’s character adequately demonstrates how the ending to that book makes you feel.
That sort of repetition and devotion to the craft of writing is a perfect example of Hemingway honing his skills as a writer. There’s little doubt that the first ending was probably fantastic, but Hemingway knew it could be better. So he continued working, until he had it exactly the way he wanted.
And that devotion to skill carries over to every aspect of life. Including fitness.
It’s tough to think of fitness and it’s various components like fat loss as a skill, but that’s exactly what they are. Everything we do in this life is a skill, fitness and fat loss included. The more we practice, the better we’re going to get at it.
To steal a couple of quotes and blend them together, repetition is the mother of skill and the father of learning. Be it writing or deadlifts. The more you practice something, the better you’re going to be at it. Which is exactly why it’s so important for you to view fitness and fat loss as a skill.
The more you can start framing fitness and fat loss through the lense of them as skill based behaviors, the faster you’re going to realize that they’re not only things you can do, but things that you can get better at.
People who have experience dropping fat are always going to be better at fat loss later on. This is typically because they’ve just got more practice with the process that goes into fat loss. They’re more skilled when it comes to fat loss. That doesn’t make them better, that just makes them more skilled.
The good news is you can develop those skills.
So, without further ado, here are the top 3 fat loss skills you should develop.
Track and log your food intake.
Finding out how much you’re eating is the most important factor above all else when it comes to dropping fat. There are numerous ways to keep track of how much you’re eating. It doesn’t matter what you use, just log.
Why? Because logging your food helps foster a sense of mindfulness when it comes to eating. There’s a certain reframing process that happens when you’re searching through MyFitnessPal to log in 3 slices of Dominos chicken bacon ranch pizza and 5 wings.
Those may be filling, but when you actually see that there is well over 1,000 calories worth of food on your plate, it changes things. It puts into perspective just how easy it is to overeat when eating out.
To that point, logging food also teaches you about the caloric value of foods inside your own home. It’s incredibly common for most of us to mindlessly sprinkle some cheese, sour cream, butter, or anything else onto something we’ve cooked in order to enhance the flavor.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
However, learning just how small a serving of cheese of cheese or peanut butter actually is can be a total game changer. Measuring and logging sheds light on where hidden calories are often hiding, which explains why those last few pounds can’t come off.
It takes some time to get good at measuring and logging food intake, but that’s solely because this is a new skill. Most of us aren’t used to actually paying that much attention to what we’re putting in our mouths, unless it belongs to someone else, which is a sad fact of life.
Learn to cook.
Seriously, learn to fucking cook. Don’t just learn how to throw some stuff in the skillet and get it hot. That’s not cooking, that’s using a low-tech microwave.
Learn to cook a few whole food based, nutrient dense meals. Get really good at them. So good that you want to show them off and eat them all the time. This will do wonders for your health and fat loss efforts.
Cooking is the easiest way to guarantee you know exactly how much food you’ll be eating. You know the ingredients, the flavor certain ingredients add, and how much of each is enough.
Notice how that also plays into point #1? You’ll become far better at measuring and tracking food intake by learning to cook. These two skills play off of one another.
Cooking also gives a sense of ownership over a meal. You can look at your meal and know that you’re responsible for that delicious plate of awesome. There’s pride associated with that, and you don’t understand it until you experience it.
Does this mean you stop eating out? Hell no. I thoroughly enjoy trying new restaurants. I could go as far as to call it a hobby.
I enjoy cooking my own meals more, though. Eating at restaurants is great, but I personally believe that eating out should be saved for a special experience like trying a new restaurant, eating at your favorite place, going out with friends. Not eating at Chick-Fil-A 3x a week because it’s convenient.
As Axl Rose once crooned, after what is arguably the greatest whistle solo in music history, all we need is just a little patience.
Patience is by far and away the most important factor when it comes to fat loss. Above all else, the ability to stay patient, stay the course, and keep working trumps tracking food or cooking.
Why? Because fat loss doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye.
I’m not going to argue that going as slow as possible is the best choice. For most of my clients I actually try to set them up in a pretty aggressive calorie deficit.
No matter how aggressive, or how motivated we might be, it’s extremely hard for us to wrap our head around the fact that what we’ve gained is a product of years worth of over consumption.
Fat gain is a steady process, and so is fat loss. We are a product today of what we did yesterday, and the many yesterdays before that. This is true in business, life, and with our waistline.
If we’ve spent a whole bunch of yesterdays overeating pizza, beer, wings, and doughnuts then we need to spend a whole bunch of todays eating salads, fish, and protein shakes.
Due to the fact that time is something we have a terrible notion of, this doesn’t exactly make sense though. The past seems like it’s been condensed, while the future looks like it can go on forever.
Because of this, we’re often fooled into believing that we should be able to lose the weight quickly. We get immediacy in almost every other aspect of our life, so we expect that to be the case with fat loss.
And this is part of the reason why so many people fail at their diets. They get frustrated at the lack of progress after a certain point, and believe that they need to switch it up. In reality, they probably just needed to diet for longer and have some patience.
There’s a strong chance I’m never going to spin a story that would’ve made Hemingway proud. At least not yet. I recognize that. Writing, like fitness, is a skill. It’s something I work on diligently, and a year from now I’ll be far better than I am today.
The same can be said for your fitness. Start working on these skills, and chances are in a year you’re going to find yourself having a much easier time hitting your fat loss goals, because you’ve developed the necessary skills to make them happen.