There are so many ways to shed fat. I know this, you know this, we all know this.
You can starve yourself thin – but for about a thousand different reasons, that’s not the best idea.
You can put yourself on a strict competition prep diet.
You can go on two dozen different types of the next fad diet – whatever is the latest craze – and yes, you’ll likely see some pretty good results right away.
The idea of a dramatic 12-week fat loss transformation is appealing because we think to ourselves that if we can just tough it out for three months, our lives will change for the better. We’ll finally feel fabulous and beautiful and sexy, and we will be better off for it.
You’ve been working your booty off for the past six months, and you’re on the verge of throwing in the towel because so far, you’ve got nothing—nothing!—to show for your efforts. No progress. None—at least that you can see.
You’re convinced you’ve tried everything under the sun, and you’re about to resign yourself to the idea that your body just isn’t destined to be in shape. You’re genetically cursed to wear a spare tire around your waist forever. And so on.
This much I know is true: I’ve been strength training for six years now. I can rock out chin-ups, pull heavy weight off the floor, and squat more than some guys I know. I drink protein shakes almost daily and sometimes take creatine as well.
This much is also true: I’m still small. I’m still petite. Still lean. My muscles aren’t big and, when fully dressed, no one has ever asked me, “How much do you bench?” And I’ve never been called “too bulky” in my life.
She’s the epitome of health.
She exercises religiously five days a week – consisting of four days of heavy strength training coupled with two to three short, intense sprint sessions – and never, ever misses a workout. She preps all her food in bulk at the beginning of every week and is never seen without her cooler full of ready-made, home-cooked meals. She drinks a gallon of water a day and pops her fish oil on the regular.
She politely declines when offered a donut at work and walks swiftly by the corner bakery without a second glance. She sips on sparkling water at the bar when she goes out with her friends and can still throw her head back in laughter and have a ball of a night. She has never, never been seen eating anything considered remotely unhealthy – no sugar, no grease, no unrefined grains. When approached about the best way to lose that muffin top or her preferred method of cardio, she’s more than happy to chitchat and offer her two cents.
Girlfriends admire her dedication. Men can’t tear their eyes away from her sculpted glutes when she struts by. Her waist is tiny. Her abs are chiseled. Her smile is radiant
She’s the epitome of health.
Except that she’s not.
Dieting is never thought of as an easy process. Granted, for most of us, it’s not. The journey is undeniably simple — stick to this food list, consume this many calories, and so on and so forth. Yet execution isn’t always a success. All of a sudden, everything that’s temporarily forbidden takes on a new luster, and what was previously just another snack in your cabinet has now become that one thing you can’t have that you suddenly really want.
We somehow convince ourselves that are we going to die — immediately — if we do not cram that cookie into our mouths right this instant. As a rational adult, you know this is absurd thinking, of course. But at that moment, we are not rational adults. We have rapidly regressed to cranky toddlers on the verge of throwing a tantrum if we do not get what we want within the next 10 seconds. It’s become a matter of life or death.
No more all-or-nothing; moderation wins!
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Sohee Lee, NSCA-CSCS is a personal trainer, online coach and writer. After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in human biology from Stanford University, she interned at Cressey Performance before her current position at Peak Performance as a performance coach. She specializes in women’s fat loss and the fitness mindset.
“Oh dear God, no, this is terrible,” the professor quips. “You’ll never be an architect.”
That’s Professor Vinick speaking to Ted*, an eager college student aspiring to be an architect. He’s just sat through a lecture of his favorite and most intellectual architecture instructors, and has just had one of his sketches spat on.
Ted is crushed. He’d been hopeful, expecting words of wisdom or even the slightest nod of approval, and has instead been rejected outright by one of his idols.
“I hate her,” you mumble under your breath. “She’s just so fit and perky all the time. How is that even possible?”
Oh girl, let me tell you.
You think that being both lean and happy is a myth, that you can either be lean and miserable or overweight and jolly. And the chiseled chicks walking around smiling all the time must absolutely be lying through their teeth. I mean, obviously if you want to be beach-ready, you have to be munching on carrot sticks all the time and blacking out every fortnight from lack of carbs – and hell, you’re an angry b!tch because of it. And on the other hand, if you want to have energy, then you must be fueling yourself with donuts and sporting a comfy winter coat of insulation to so much as feel functional.