Perhaps I’m bass-ackwards…

But when I want to quickly improve my own body composition, I don’t kick things off with a laundry list of Fat Loss To-Dos.

Instead, I always strike a balance of Ying and Yang, good cop bad cop, strikes and gutters. In other words, I establish a few key positive, actionable tasks that will help me lose fat. And balance it with things I need to STOP doing. A Not To Do or Don’t Do list.

For example, here are a few key fat loss To-Dos:

  • Eat whole foods
  • Track portions as accurately as possible to match the calorie goal
  • Eat lean protein at each meal
  • Eat 3-5 servings of veggies and fruit a day
  • Weight train 3-5 days a week and/or perform cardio
  • Get 8 hours of sleep a night

Six super simple things. That’s it. Of course there are MANY other things you can, could, and even should do, but these are the Big Rocks. The things that HAVE to be in place to really get the process rolling.

And the good news is they’re simple. So simple that most anyone with even a modicum of interest in the subject knows them too.

Which leads to the 800-pound gorilla in the room:

If it’s so simple, then why do so many people fail to reach their physique goals?

Because knowing your To-Dos isn’t enough.

You also have to execute them, consistently. Anyone can stay “on task” for a day or two or even a week. But week after week, weekend after weekend? That’s tough.

And this crucial execution step is where things get dicey. It’s a lot more nuanced and contextual, even stressful.

Consistent execution requires considerable focus to sustain. Which is tough when we’re constantly bombarded by a torrent of flashy “alternative To-Dos” — most of which are useless, outdated, hyper-contextual, inconsequential, irrelevant, or just dumber than screen doors on a submarine.

But even obvious nonsense is still a bad actor. Because it can make what’s really important seem boring or amateurish or simply “not enough.”

So while to-do lists are critical, it’s more effective to pick just one or two of those things, and balance them with one or two Not To Dos or Don’t Dos.

Now the Don’t Dos aren’t nearly as “one size fits all” as the To-Dos. They’re much more individual, even personal. It’s confusing. Adding to the confusion, what might be a positive action for one person (eat small meals more often) can be disastrous for another (eat Happy Meals more often). One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

To illustrate, here are my big Don’t Do’s, my personal Kryptonite Achilles Heels:

  • DON’T bring junk food into the house
  • DON’T keep peanut butter in the house
  • DON’T eat in front of the TV
  • DON’T graze while cooking
  • DON’T drink my calories (especially alcohol)
  • DON’T keep peanut butter in the house
  • DON’T drink my calories (especially alcohol) in the shower (Did I mention this was personal?)
  • DON’T train like a distracted douchenozzle.
  • DON’T try to eyeball fats (dressings, nuts, cooking oils. Did I mention peanut butter?)

But what does that mean for you?

Try this:

Establish one or two fat loss To-Dos. (HINT: The ones provided are a great start)

For every positive To-Do you add to your life, add at least one Don’t Do. Start with the obvious stuff, the things that really hold you back. If you’re not sure ask your spouse or a friend. Or even ask me. God knows, I’ll tell you straight.

If you go a full week hitting both your To-Dos and Don’t Dos, congratulations. Add one more of each next week

But if you relapse here and there, don’t sweat it. That’s all part of the maturation process. Especially with the Don’t list. Fact is, if you don’t suffer the occasional relapse I would question whether the behavior was even worthy of being on your Don’t Do list to begin with. And if it was, then learn from it. Start thinking of a better way to combat it next time.

Maybe the Fat Loss To-Dos are just old hat to me (or maybe I’m just a naturally negative person) but I make far faster progress when I spend as much effort cutting away “bad” as I do adding in “good.”

And combining the two? That’s where the real magic happens.