We all know that person that seems to always be on a diet, or you may be that person. Trying to lose “the last 5-10 lbs” but never seem to get there. The constant battle with food choices, exercise and your mindset. This continued pressure will eventually cause you to become unmotivated and your goals will fall down the pecking order of life priorities. That ‘diet’ mentality can be exhausting!
Short term goals or phases
If you were looking at running a marathon, the chances are you aren’t going to turn up on the day and wing it. You will build up the distance, slowly making progress, until you were ready for the final push on the day. Fat loss works in the same principle. If you want to lose 20-30 pounds, I wouldn’t recommend going all in with hardcore diet restrictions and working out 7 times a week. This will end in the same way as turning up to marathon on the day without training.
Breaking your long term goal down into small achievable chunks can be a great way to reach the target. Giving yourself small little breaks in between the mini goals will also help focus the mind and relight the metaphorical fire in the belly. A short burst towards an small target is always within touching distance, in contrast to a huge target that appears so far away it starts to become unachievable.
There seems to be an ego fuelled attitude towards making progress in the world of fitness. The idea of losing body fat easily and happily isn’t promoted. You have to be #gohardorgohome or going to gym in #beastmode (whatever that is?!). It gives the impression that losing body fat is a gruelling tough process that can only be carried out by those hashtag happy individuals. If you are trying to get down to single digit bodyfat percentages, times will be pretty miserable. If you are trying to lose 10lbs for holiday or wedding, life can still be pretty rosy.
Instead of going in with all guns blazing and try to hit the jackpot, try a slower methodical approach with small targets and work your way up to the golden prize. Build in periods of rest and recovery and also periods of #beastmode, if you so wish. Structure the process around the end result, not the other way around.
Your body doesn’t like losing
Humans are designed to remain the same and fight change, this process is called homeostasis. Our bodies will carry out certain functions to keep within pre-set boundaries. When we are going through a period of fat loss the chances are you will be reducing food and increasing exercise. Eventually, our bodies will try and counteract this by reducing our basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories our body burns at rest) and decreasing the amount we move (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) and fat loss will stall or slow down. There are several strategies we can use at this point. One of them is to take ‘break’ from losing body fat, slowly increase calories and try and maintain your new lower bodyweight.
The set point theory
These small planned breaks in dieting can be beneficial for your mental state and also your bodies biological state. It is thought that our bodies maintain our weight between and upper and lower limit (even if that level is overweight) and this is called our set point. This works in a similar way to your cruise control in your car. Your speed is maintained at a pre set target and keeps you roughly at that speed. There is good news though. This set point can be changed and lowered if required. The bad news is that it takes time for your body to ‘accept’ its new lower set point. During these maintenance phases you will be adjusting to your new set point and hopefully avoiding the Chinese buffet binge that comes with long term restrictions.
Blast and cruise
Planning maintenance periods into your long term plan can be a tough mental battle. Just as you start making progress, the last thing you want is to take a break. Instead of putting a strict timescale on things, I like to work within loose guidelines and fit it in within your schedule.
If you know you have a busy time just around the corner the chances are you aren’t wanting to put a big restriction on yourselves. If it’s big Dave’s wedding, your wife’s birthday and Easter Sunday all in the same month we all know that we aren’t going to be eating a salad, T total in the corner.
This is reason I like the blast and cruise mentality. When the social calendar is looking a bit light, it’s time to push hard in the gym and stick religiously to your diet guidelines. Work hard when you have the time to work hard and make the most progress during this time. When life gets a bit busier it is time to put in a planned maintenance phase. Instead of fighting against the family and friends social events, accept that you will be eating a little more and try and maintain your new lowered bodyweight. This process of blasting and cruising can repeated until your fat loss goal has been reached.
Losing weight should not be a permanent lifestyle choice. It should a temporary phase within your life to reach your goal. I know that planning maintenance phases can be a tough mental battle, especially on your own. If you want to take the guess work out of the equation, then get in touch and I can help coach you through this process and push you towards your goals.