I don’t know about you, but I plan on wearing offensively short shorts this summer.
I also plan on spending plenty of time with friends and family⏤vacations, dinners out, brunch, and, just occasionally, a smidge too much alcohol.
With COVID restrictions lifting in most places, I don’t think I’m the only one ready for a good time. It’s long overdue.
That said, I’d be lying if I wasn’t feeling a touch insecure about my winter + COVID body I’ve accumulated over the last year. My skin is luminescent from lockdown and I might’ve increased my waistline from one too many “nightcap” cocktails.
And, look, I know appearance isn’t everything, blah, blah. But in a season where I’ll be showing more skin AND more prone to eating delicious meals with way too expensive wine, I want to make sure I keep myself in check.
So, here’s what I’m doing. Join me if you’d like.
How I’m Staying In (Pretty Good) Shape This Summer Without Much Effort Or Restriction
Walking 30 minutes every morning while fasted.
Along with sleeping more, walking more is the most boring, but effective, way to speed up fat loss and be a healthier person. It’s literally as straightforward as that.
So, I’m including this morning ritual to 1) get my steps up, 2) give me more energy as I start my day, and 3) allow me to walk and read at the same time.
Some type of movement every day (preferably outside).
I’m counting “movement” as walking/jogging, playing basketball, swimming, golfing, or lifting. While this will definitely aid with some extra calorie burn, this is probably just a good idea for my overall health.
To me, feeling good on a daily basis is even more important than losing fat, so I know this will help cultivate that.
Lifting at least 4 days per week.
I’ll be following a fairly standard lifting regimen four times per week for around 60 minutes each session. Nothing crazy, just a focus on the basics of strength training and building muscle. But since specifics are fun, here’s what I’m thinking.
Each session must have:
- A main compound lift in the 6 to 8 rep range.
- A single-leg or single-arm exercise (for balance, stability, athleticism)
- A pump exercise (because, obviously)
- A “finisher” to sweat more (will explain next)
I’ll likely do a push, pull, legs, arms/shoulders/core workout split. There’s nothing special about 4 days/week, it just works for me and my schedule.
Including “Finishers” at the end of my workouts.
A “finisher” would simply be one exercise (or circuit of exercises) added at the end of my workout to ramp up my heart rate, make me sweat, and burn more calories. Ideally, this would only take 5-10 minutes, but brutal nonetheless.
Examples of finishers:
- Jump Rope
- Bike Intervals
- Bodyweight Circuits
- Barbell Complexes
- Hill Sprints
- Kettlebell Swings
For specifics on all of these, make sure you check out the end of this post.
I’m using “Common Sense Dieting.”
I’m sure someone else has used the phrase “Common Sense Dieting”, but I’m claiming it for now.
To me, this means:
– Drinking more water
– Adding more meat/protein to each meat
– Eating more salads, vegetables, and fruits
– Eating fewer desserts
– Avoiding getting too hungry or too full
– Not purposefully trying to finish everything on my plate
– Cook more often, eat out less
– Alcohol on weekends
Most days: two shakes + two meals per day.
While meal timing doesn’t matter as much for fat loss as how many calories you eat or what those calories are made of, I’ve found it to serve as the “glue” of my eating schedule. I.e., I’m more consistent with the things that matter most when I eat at (roughly) the same times each day. It’s just one less decision to make.
So, for me, this looks like:
10:00 am: Shake + Fruit
1:00 pm: Meal
6:30 pm: Meal
11:00 pm: Shake + Greek Yogurt + Fruit
Using supplements as “motivation catalysts.”
This tip uses the same logic as above. Sure, supplements are the least important for progress, but they can cause a chain reaction of good decisions due to how easy it is to take a supplement.
If buying a new pre-workout gets me excited to workout consistently, is it still the least important? What about if buying an omega-3 supplement causes me to make better food choices?
The point I’m making is that when I take supplements, it gives me a mental win. It builds momentum. It serves as a catalyst to sticking to my goals consistently. And it’s as easy as popping a few pills or a scoop of powder.
I needed to make a whole section for the weekends during summer because I have a lot of advice here. I refuse to skip BBQs, brunches, dinners out, pool parties, golfing, camping, and other fun things just for the sake of “hitting my macros.” That said, I also don’t want to disregard my fitness goals and overall health.
So, here’s how I balance them.
4 Simple Ways I’m Handling My Summer Weekends
1. “Frontload” my day with high protein and highly nutritious meals.
Most events, brunches, dinners, etc., during the summer will be later in the day. I take advantage of that by getting a head start on what’s most important to keep driving progress forward: keeping total daily calories in-check, hitting a protein minimum, and eating a couple servings of fruits/vegetables.
For me, a breakfast example would be: One whole egg, lots of egg whites, scrambled with spinach, a packet or two of low sugar Quaker oatmeal, and lots of mixed fruit. I would likely eat this and try to wait it out until my “big meal” for the day. If I get hungry, I would use a “hunger buffer” like Greek yogurt and a protein shake.
2. Account for my “big meal” before I eat anything else for the day (Future Me thanks me for this).
Let’s say I have ~2,000 calories for the day, but I have a BBQ planned. Burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, chips, beer, the works⏤gonna be a great day. Well, it may be helpful to “pre-plan” my calorie allotment for the BBQ.
Let’s estimate I’ll eat ~1,000 calories. So, before my first meal of the day, I could set aside ~1,000 cals for the BBQ. Then, I just plan the rest of my day’s meals with the remaining ~1000 cals (500 cals for breakfast and 500 cals for dinner, for example). When using a food tracking app like My Fitness Pal, I just make a custom meal for 1,000 cals and plug it in asap. And if I don’t feel like tracking, I’m simply more mindful of balancing my meals for the day. I.e., if I’m gonna have a big dinner, I have a smaller breakfast and lunch with higher protein and fiber.
3. I aim for “good enough” and just move on, dude.
Understand this: the sooner I realized one decision doesn’t make a big difference, the sooner I dropped the pressure I put on myself to make the “best” choice. After my clients work with me for some time, they realize they’ve been stressing way too much over shit that doesn’t matter. And the clients who see the most progress are the ones who get back on track the fastest after “screwing up.” How you eat most of the time is what will make or break your progress this summer, not some of the time.
When in doubt, here’s what “good enough” looks like:
- Lots of meat/protein, ideally leaner cuts (e.g., pulled pork isn’t perfect, but it’s going to be lower calorie/fat than a burger or a hot dog). Lots of vegetables. Half my plate = vegetables. The rest would be mostly meat/protein.
- Minimize liquid calories and fatty sauces/oils. I know, I know ⏤ boring. I’ll touch on alcohol in a second, but ideally I’d choose a lower fat sauce like ketchup, mustard, low-fat ranch, and even BBQ sauce isn’t too crazy high in calories compared to the fatty sauces like chipotle sauce, ranch, mayo, sour cream, or my beloved Chick-Fil-A Sauce.
- Alcohol: The body sees alcohol as a toxin and tries to get rid of it immediately, so it will try to metabolize it first before any other macronutrients. Meaning, it’s typically the foods you eat AFTER you drink (e.g., 2am pizza) that contribute most of your fat gain, especially because that food is mostly “sitting around” waiting for the alcohol to be metabolized first. “Healthy” alcohol would be just straight liquors because you’re maximizing drunkenness on fewest amount of calories (this is the hard truth for my beer drinkers or White Claw enthusiasts). For me during the summer, this would be like a diet lemonade, a splash of La Croix for carbonation, and Grey Goose vodka. Avoid sugary mixers. This website is pretty neat for exploring “healthier” options: http://www.getdrunknotfat.com.
- I try to get in a hard workout before (or after) my big meal. To keep things simple, my body is extra “sensitive” after working out and is ready to favorably partition nutrients towards muscle growth and away from fat gain. Of course, total daily calories still matter most, but this helps.
4A. I decide my priorities on a moment-by-moment basis.
This is the most important one. Because there’s nothing wrong with having a burger and fries, unless I promised myself I’d get the salad. And, vice versa: there’s nothing wrong with choosing the grilled chicken salad for dinner, unless I was too busy focusing on my calories for the meal instead of being present with company (like I intended).
Meaning, there’s a direct positive correlation between promises kept to myself and self-satisfaction. So I give myself permission to commit to one, either a “lifestyle” meal or a “fat loss/health meal”, but neither are “right” or “wrong.” The whole point is to make sure it’s a conscious choice in the moment, not an impulsive one. Keeping my word builds self-trust and confidence in my ability to make the right choice again in the future.
4B. When deciding my priority for that meal, I consider my recent progress.
This one may sting a bit, but this is the tough love necessary from a coach’s standpoint. Building off #1, I ask myself how closely I’ve adhered to my nutrition and exercise previous to this meal. I’m not saying I need to “earn” any type of food, but I find it smart to include this in my decision-making process. If I’ve been killing it and progress is going well, I might decide to let loose. If I’ve felt stagnant and haven’t been on point, it’s probably going to make me feel worse to have the wine and dessert (usually…). So, when deciding my priorities in the moment, I have to consider my priorities long-term as well.
“But Matt, what if you have lots of fat to lose and don’t want to maintain? Would you still follow this advice?”
Surprisingly, I would not. Well, at least, not all of it.
As I mentioned in the point above, “When deciding my priority for that meal, I consider my recent progress.”
This same logic applies not only to that one meal, but to my overall approach to fat loss. If I haven’t been losing fat recently, it’s likely because I’m TOO much in the “middle ground/balanced” approach.
Because here’s the problem: being “kinda” dedicated to my fat loss goals isn’t good enough if I want to make as much progress as possible, and fast.
I don’t know about you, but I want my fat loss and dieting phase to be over as quickly as possible. I have other fun shit I want to do!
And if you agree with that, it only makes sense to go all fucking in on your fat loss goals for a short, laser-focused period of time, and then… move on with your life, maintain your leanness, and enjoy your summer.
I’ve been doing this stuff long enough to know that being one foot in and one foot out with your efforts is the quickest way to spinning your wheels, making minimal (if any) progress, and being unhappy.
But… it’s crucial you do this the right way. Losing fat fast can have plenty of downsides if you follow some random “crash diet” or “cleanse” from some dude on Instagram. How you do it needs to be proven, science-based, and be practical enough for “real life” situations.
So, because of the shitty fat loss diets out there and because of my own impatience with the “slow and steady” dieting approach, I created a solution.
It’s called: The Fat Loss Accelerator. It’s all of my knowledge from college, getting my Registered Dietitian credential, and my experience coaching hundreds of fat loss clients⏤packaged into a 6-week course lead by yours truly.
And the 2nd cohort is just about to kick off in less than in a week.
Last time I launched the Fat Loss Accelerator [v1.0], I had 47 people sign up.
47 “Accelerators” who were ready to…
+ Accelerate fat loss in the healthiest, easiest, and most effective way possible.
+ Exit homeostasis, compete against themselves, and test their limits.
+ Commit to a goal and follow-through with 100% effort.
+ Learn the cutting-edge science of fat loss, then apply it.
A few results from the first cohort of the FLA [v1.0]:
The Fat Loss Accelerator [v2.0] is currently closed. Join the waitlist below.
If you’ve liked what I included in this article, you’ll love the FLA. Beyond the “Accelerator Diet” and the “Accelerator Workouts” I provide in the course, I also provide fun things like:
- How to “peak” for an event like a pool party or a vacation
- A full set of “Accelerator Finishers” to ramp up fat burning
- A complete list of evidence-based fat loss supplements & advanced nutrition protocols
- Tons of adherence strategies to make hitting your goals as effortless as possible
- A community of other “Accelerators” just like you, all chasing the same goal in 6 weeks
- Memes and gifs in the activity feed of the course (like a Facebook feed, except without all insane people and ads)
- And much, much more.
To learn more details about the course and to ensure you don’t miss out on the early-bird discounts, make sure you sign up below for pre-registration (don’t worry, it’s free).