The Case for Slow Fat Loss

Articles

The Case for Slow Fat Loss

August 20, 2014

If you ask me if I can get you competition ready in 8 weeks using whatever means possible, the answer is no.

If you ask me if I can help you drop 20lbs before you hit the beach in a few weeks, the answer is no.

If you complain that your progress is too slow, that dropping a pound of fat a week is not fast enough for you, settle down.

Let me give you a little dose of reality.

I understand the desire to achieve chiseled abs as fast as possible. I get it.

If you want something, you want it now. And for the most part, we do get what we want – with overnight delivery, with movies on demand, with the live feed on social media.

So naturally, we expect the same when it comes to fat loss, and we find ourselves frustrated if we don’t drop upwards of 5lbs a week.

Honestly, I’ll take slow progress over fast progress any day.

Why?

Because I value my quality of life.
Because I want to enjoy the journey.
Because my happiness is too important to me.

With myself as well as all of my clients that I work with, I drill in patience and consistency. These two tools are incredibly underrated yet so, so critical to success.

I’m all about sustainability.

As in:

In order to get sustainable results, you have to utilize sustainable methods to get there.

And ultimately, that’s the goal, isn’t it? To get lean and, more importantly, stay lean over the long-term.

I encourage you to stop thinking about just the next two weeks or three months and instead focus on how you want the next five years to play out.

Would you rather look good for one month and then pile back on all the weight you lost?
Or would you prefer to slowly chip away at your fat while maintaining your happiness and social life and look like a whole new person a year from now?

The answer, to me, is obvious.

Because the truth is, the more extreme measures you resort to, the faster and harder the rebound. If you’re cranking out 3 hours of cardio a day and eating nothing but fish and asparagus, I promise you that that’s going to come back and bite you in the ass sooner or later. And it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Left: August 2012, 27in waist. Right: August 2014, 24.5in waist.

Left: August 2012, 27in waist. Right: August 2014, 24.5in waist.

Here’s a before/current photo of mine. The first was taken in August 2012 at a bodyweight of 124lbs and waist of 27 inches. On the right, taken in August 2014 – two years later – I’m at 111lbs with a 24.5 inch waist.

Here’s the funny thing: in the photo on the left, I was training incredibly hard five days a week and probably doing three or four days of conditioning as well. At 22 years old, I had just graduated college and was dealing with the stress of learning about money in the real world, looking for my first job, and generally navigating the waters of adult life. I was out in the Boston area for the summer, as I was interning at Cressey Performance, so I was in a completely new area as well.

With my plate so full, I definitely should not have been trying to diet. But that’s what I was trying to do. Why? Because I wasn’t crazy about the way I looked.

So I would try to restrict my calories – way more than I should have – and stick strictly to whole foods. Even though I knew better at the time, I stayed away from my favorite treats because I had somehow come to believe that by doing so, I would get leaner faster.

That backfired, of course.

I ended up spinning my wheels for that entire summer and for a long time thereafter. I would adhere to my self-prescribed program for a good two or so days before I would find myself staring at the bottom of a bag of brown sugar pita chips (those babies are dangerous). And then, to compensate for my slip-up, I would further tighten the reins on my diet and try again.

And again.
And again.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

We all know that.

Yet here I was, just starting out my budding fitness career and struggling – badly – to get my mind right.

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 3.37.41 PM

This is another recent picture of me, taken just two days ago. Same day, same outfit, different pose.

I’m a good bit leaner than I was two years ago, sure. But that’s not the point.

The point is that once I accepted the fact that fat loss was not going to happen overnight, that I couldn’t throw myself at the wall and force results to come, that I absolutely had to find a moderate approach in order to see lasting results – only then did the fat start melting off.

That’s not to say that it’s going to take you two years to learn how to get and stay lean.

My hope is that you can learn from my mistakes to figure things out much faster than I did.

Because here’s the thing that I overlooked back then that I wish we would all remember:

The things you do everyday are much more important than the things you do every once in a while.

Meaning, if I can’t execute these fat loss behaviors on a consistent basis, then I’m not going anywhere.

This is what my fitness looks like now:

  • I workout four, maybe five days a week. No matter what, I always take two full days off.
  • I never spend more than an hour and a half in the gym at a time, and never do I do more than one session per day.
  • I don’t do any steady-state cardio whatsoever. Instead, I go out for walks. Lots of walks.
  • I keep my conditioning sessions short and sweet – between 10 to 20 minutes tops.
  • I eat all the foods that my heart desires and nothing is off-limits. At the same time, I exercise portion control.
  • I drink wine on a weekly basis.
  • I make sure that I never miss out on the fun moments in life.

Once I started prioritizing my quality of life – once I realized that this journey wouldn’t be worth it unless I somehow found a way to enjoy the ride – I was able to accept slower progress. In fact, I embraced it.

9-month fat loss progress

9-month fat loss progress

This is Julie-Anne, an online client of mine who has been with me for a while.

Her transformation looks pretty good, no?

You’ll notice that from left to right, it took her 9 months to lose 17lbs. That averages out to a loss of 2lbs/month, or 0.5lb/week.

Slower than average? Maybe. But here’s what the pictures don’t show:

  • We kept her macros as high as possible at all times and only dropped them bit by bit when her progress stalled.
  • We did absolutely no steady-state cardio.
  • She was able to go out on dates, enjoy wine, and otherwise have a thriving social life.
  • She spent no more than 6 hours in the gym per week.
  • She made cheesecake (of the protein variety) a staple in her diet, and she restricted no foods whatsoever.
  • Her dietary adherence was by no means perfect; rather, it was good enough to see results. On top of that, she kept up the good enough on a consistent basis.
  • Most importantly, she had a really, really fun time.

Do you see a theme here?

Stop expecting perfection; let good enough be good enough.
Realize that your quality of life is far, far more important than your bodyfat percentage.
Until you get your mindset right, all your fat loss efforts will be for naught.

I promise you, a year from now, you’ll be glad that you took it slow and steady. You’ll be happy that you chose to be consistent rather than extreme.

And at the end of the day, remember that slow is progress is still progress.

 

 

 

 

Tweetables:

[Tweet “In order to get sustainable results, you have to utilize sustainable methods to get there.”]

[Tweet “The things you do everyday matter more than what you do every once in a while.”]

6 Comments
  1. amy 5 years ago

    Thanks so much for this! I’m in the same boat, maybe losing 1kg (2 pounds) a month and I was getting a bit frustrated but then after reading this, I feel like it’s so much more sustainable. And I can continue to go out for dinner and enjoy life on the weekends. Thanks again 🙂

    • Sohee Lee 4 years ago

      Exactly. Nothing wrong with slow progress!

  2. Ming 5 years ago

    I loveeeee this post

  3. Melissa Leon 4 years ago

    “The things you do every day are much more important than the things you do every once in a while.” Amen to that. I can’t love this post enough. I am really looking forward to embracing SLOW progress, because I want progress that lasts and not perfection. I’ve been in that miserable boat (read: too much cardio, not enough food, “clean” foods only). It wreaked havok on me mentally, socially and even my marriage at times. Quality of life has truly become a priority. I’m a firm believer in enjoying the journey, and not just doing “whatever is necessary” to get to the destination.

    • Sohee Lee 4 years ago

      Hey Melissa, just seeing this now. HI YOU! Funny to see this now, two months later, and compare that to where you are NOW in your current journey. You are embracing the #eatliftthrive life!

      • Melissa Leon 4 years ago

        Right?! I’m so glad you pointed that out. I’ve been reflecting on happiness a lot lately, and I am so grateful to be in a better place now and truly enjoying life. There is no better way. No “leanness,” scale weight or dress size is worth the misery that comes with fast results.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

PREVIOUS POST
«
NEXT POST
»

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending
©2019 Soheefit. All Rights ReservedPrivacy Policy & Terms of Service