Often you hear of someone embarking on a new weight loss challenge going “hard out”. They start their new journey, they cut out all the processed foods, remove sugar, reduce carbs, minimise fruit in fear of fructose and they begin an intense training program. They mean right, but boy are they wrong
You see, weight loss as a concept is a very simple thing.
You eat less than your body needs to maintain its current state and your body is forced to break down stored energy (carbs and fats) for it to maintain the same energy demands you put on it (through daily activity etc).
Let's say you are 100kg, you walk 8000 steps each day, don’t do any training and you are an office worker eating 3300kcal per day.
When we look at your stats, we realise that the maths on this equation pretty much adds up and your expected calories required to maintain that weight is in fact around 3000-3300kcal per day.
But you’re unhappy with how you look and feel so you make some changes overnight:
- You cut out the junk food
- You stop snacking in between meals
- You increase your vegetable intake
- You swap 1-2 meals for a protein shake
And you start a training program with your PT at your local gym doing 3 weight sessions per week.
By default, you have cut calorie intake down purely by focusing on better food choices and you have double-downed on the fat loss equation by both reducing your input (food) and increasing your output through training. You are destined to lose body fat.
But here is the reality: If you can’t see yourself doing what you are doing today, 12 months from now, you won't win the long race. Instead, you will sprint to a goal like so many do on their pathway to weight loss only to hit reverse and end up back where you started.
You WENT TOO HARD TOO EARLY!
Thrusting yourself into extreme change, albeit admirable, is not always the answer to long-term success. It’s a recipe for disaster. You start with cutting out some foods, and then you end up omitting more and more as time goes on, dwindling your list of 'approved foods' to just 5 or 6 things. You begin to walk during breaks while at work to get your steps up and before you know it you are then doing bodyweight squats in the toilets to burn more calories.
You lose 1kg in week 1 but then only 500g in week 2 and your answer to this perceived problem is to do more exercise in week 3.
In a nutshell, you chase a never-ending goal of fast weight loss through extreme undereating, coupled with intense overtraining. You mean well and you will probably get results in the short term, but fast forward to 3 months later and you are burned out, tired, irritable, and no longer going to social gatherings that involve food.
This does not sound like success to me. Then BAM! You crash, you begin to overeat, you exercise less because you're overtired, and the weight comes piling back on.
Do less to lose more. Start with a small change in dietary behaviour, add in some daily activity goals that are both enjoyable and achievable.
Then, as time passes, and your behaviour change begins to feel like your new ‘norm’ add in a little more exercise or control your diet a little more rigidly.
Focus on finding a dietary and exercise protocol that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life.
Because remember, if you can't see yourself doing what you are doing today, 12 months from now, then your approach needs to change.
It is not about doing more, to lose more. Sometimes you need to do less and just let time take its course.