If you are trying to lose fat, you might have noticed that, to your disgust, fat loss can be challenging and frustrating if you are not strategic about your plan. Are you one of those people that feel like you are you doing everything “right” (at least most of the time) and still not seeing the results you want? I hear this all the time from women – they can’t figure out why their bodies just don’t respond. A few years ago my sister was telling me how frustrated she was that she had gained a little weight. She was consistently working out 4-5 days per week, but wasn’t losing any body fat and instead gaining weight. She couldn’t figure out how this was happening since she felt like she ate “pretty healthy”. As we dove in, it became apparent that her idea of “pretty healthy” needed some tweaking. As she held most of her fat in her tummy, she had no idea how her morning bagels and lunchtime sandwiches were affecting her body type. Just switching out those processed carbohydrates for protein, healthy fats and “any-time” carbs like veggies and fruit, made a world of difference for her! In fact, over several months it made a 22-pound difference! So, what could be getting in YOUR way? Here are five essential strategies to STOP your potential fat loss saboteurs: Get enough SLEEP. Leptin is a hormone that is produced in your fat cells. Leptin is directly involved in the regulation of appetite, metabolism and calorie burning. Essentially, leptin tells your brain when you’re full. Leptin levels increase when we sleep and tell our brain that our body has enough fuel. When we don’t get enough sleep, the body produces less leptin and basically triggers the brain in thinking we are hungry. Ghrelin is the other hormone related to sleep and weight. Ghrelin does the exact opposite. This hormone tells the brain when you need to eat, when energy should be stored as fat, and when the body should stop burning calories. So, when we don’t get enough sleep, we produce too much ghrelin. This makes our body think that it’s hungry and needs more calories, consequently thinking there is a shortage of calories and stops burning them. Eat FAT. That’s right; you need to eat fat to burn fat. I'm talking avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, etc. According to David Ludwig, MD, PhD, leading obesity researcher and professor of nutrition at Harvard University, “The fastest way to lower insulin levels is to substitute fat for processed carbohydrates,” says Ludwig.“ Foods rich in fat will help you feel satiated, and they won’t trigger the insulin high and crash that most processed carbs do. Without insulin highs and lows, your blood sugar will be more stable and your body can access the fuel it’s storing in your fat cells.” Take control of PORTION DISTORTION. It’s no secret that eating out can quickly wreak havoc on our weight loss goals. Most likely, the calorie intake in one restaurant serving, in addition to the appetizer, salad and perhaps dessert – can easily surpass the entire day’s recommended values. Be mindful of eating only until your 80% full. If you are out, box half of your meal to go. Use your hand for an easy-to-remember portion size guide per serving: Palm = protein; Fist = veggies; Cupped hand = carbs; Thumb = healthy fat. Watching your portions is a sure-fire way to stay on track. DON’T DRINK your calories. What do you drink on a daily basis? Do you have a daily latte’ or soda? Be aware that just one these types of beverages can have over your daily max recommendation of added sugar (25 grams). And if you’re drinking diet soda, those artificial sweeteners are making you crave more sweets throughout the day. Best to stick to water, sparkling water, teas and coffee. If you need a little sweetener in your tea, try a natural option like Stevia in the Raw. If you need creamer in your coffee, try a natural almond milk option. LOSE THE ALL-OR-NOTHING mentality. Most people start out with an enthusiastic attitude when changing their lifestyle. All too often when I first work with clients, they admit in past efforts having an all-or-nothing mentality – that is... having some initial success trying to overhaul their life, but ultimately ending up gaining back the weight when it wasn’t fitting into their lifestyle. I want you to know, it is possible to lose weight, lose fat, achieve your goals without thinking it’s all or nothing. Don’t stand in your own way. Let’s get Fired UPP! Nat P.S. Do you or someone you know need help implementing these strategies or just need a guide of knowing where to begin to live a healthy lifestyle? The Fit, Fueled and Fired Upp Healthy Lifestyle Blueprint program is a great starting point to get you on the right track. Over 14 weeks you’ll discover how to implement healthy nutrition, mindset, exercise, sleep and stress-management habits in a way that can easily fit into any busy life and improve your health and fitness!