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.
That doesn’t define a truly successful transformation, however. Fat loss extends beyond the confines of a 12-week period. What happens in the week after the diet is over? Where are you sitting three months later? Six months? A year?
Most diets will land you right back at square one as soon as you’re finished.
How many times have you binged your way to worse shape than when you started? All because the diet you were on was too strict and demanded far too much of you.
What defines true fat loss success, then?
You’ve maintained, or increased, your strength in the gym. This one is a bit more technical in nature, but it’s worth bringing up. If you’re a beginner, it’s not uncommon to experience what’s known as recomposition – that’s simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain. Maintaining strength is a good indicator that your muscle mass has remained relatively intact. This is the ideal situation to be in because it means that the weight that you’re losing is all bodyfat. This means that instead of merely becoming a smaller, yet still flabby, version of your former self, you’re now looking lean and athletic with curves in all the right places.
You’re not killing yourself with workouts. You shouldn’t have to be logging hours upon hours at the gym every week just to see incremental movement in scale weight. If your training session is routinely lasting over an hour and you’re doing steady-state cardio on the regular, it might be a good idea to re-assess your plan. Because I can guarantee you that at some point, you’re going to get sick and tired of it, and you’ll grow to despise the gym.
Your quality of life has not decreased. You know what’s scary? The fact that many people expect the rest of their lives to go in the crapper for the sake of whittling their middles. This should not be the norm – yet somehow, we’ve been brainwashed to believe that this is the only way we can get respectable results. You should not have to turn down social events or neglect your relationships all for the sake of looking a little better. Remember why you decided to embark on a fat loss journey in the first place. You wanted to improve your life, didn’t you? So don’t let the opposite happen.
You’re enjoying the ride. Newsflash: dieting doesn’t have to suck. In fact, the less you think of it as an actual diet and more of a lifestyle change, the more successful you’ll be. Do you feel like death? Then you’re doing it wrong, my friend. Are you a freakin’ zombie all day? Have you turned into Queen B? Hi, yes. Nice to meet you. Now please go away.
You don’t feel deprived. Is cheesecake on your mind 24/7? Maybe it’s because your diet doesn’t allow you to have any. Ever. Not today, not tomorrow, not even next month. Yet every time you walk by that corner neighborhood bakery, you can’t help but deeply inhale the decadent scent of the fat-filled dessert delight. And with each step you take, a little piece of you dies inside. Life is just not the same.
You can keep this up over the long-term. Every step of the way, you think to yourself, “I can see myself still doing this a year from now.” Does that mean egg whites and tilapia six meals a day? Does that mean saying no to starchy carbs forever and ever Amen? Can you maintain your ten-hours-a-week workout schedule? These are questions you’re going to have to be brutally honest with yourself about.
Are you ready for the stupefying truth?
Fat loss doesn’t have to hurt.
Did I just blow your mind, or did I just blow your mind?
[Tweet “I’d even go so far as to argue that fat loss can be painless – effortless, even.”]
And the way to get there is to practice flexible dieting.
To sum it up in a concise paragraph:
Flexible dieting is a sustainable way of eating that allows you to simultaneously enjoy your everyday treats while getting you to your fitness goal. It’s a long-term strategy that allows for balance in all aspects of your life. It eliminates the concept of good vs. bad food and encourages you to eat mindfully and with gusto.
If you’re still not sure whether your fat loss journey is headed down the right road, ask yourself the following questions:
• Do I frequently find myself craving, and denying myself, certain foods?
• Am I dreading my workouts?
• Have I missed out on more than a handful of social occasions out of guilt?
• Do I feel anxious when I find myself around desserts?
• Am I counting down the days until my “diet” is over?
If you’ve answered yes to all of the above, I’d take a good hard look at your fat loss strategy. There is a better way to do things – and I’m here to help you with that.
Remember: fat loss doesn’t have to hurt.