I have always believed that weight loss is fundamentally not that difficult. The bottom line is that you have to adjust your food intake (or activity levels) so that you’re burning more calories than you take in. Over time, this causes you to lose weight. That’s really all there is to it. The greater issue is how to maintain the weight loss, but that’s a topic for another day.
Fat loss programs and experts are many, but few give you the knowledge to make educated decisions on your own. This is key or you can expect to join the overweight majority, caught up in a hopeless merry-go-round of disappointing short term and quick- fix solutions; perhaps you are already one of them.
To help you out I’ve put together the only 4 dieting principles that you need to be successful in obtaining the leanest, and healthiest body possible.
1. Lose the “canned” diet programs
You know the ones I mean. The ones in the ads with bold promises like “Lose weight without diet or exercise!”,“Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!”, “Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!” and the list goes on.
Understand that these programs are set up for bulk sale. Once they are written by some guru, endorsed by another guru and promoted, they tend to take on a life of their own. Everyone is scrambling to pick up a copy of the new miracle program (we’ll call it the Best Diet Program Ever”). As soon as they realize it didn’t work very well, the expert introduces the “Best Diet Program Ever 2.0”. If the first version was so great, why the need for a second? These programs are usually set up to work for about 4 weeks (until you’re sold on the greatness of it) and then things come to a screeching halt. Now you need version 2.0 and all of its bonus programs to get you through the next few weeks
What? Still no results? That’s ok because now these experts have come up with a whole new system, it’s called the “Greatest Fat Loss Program in History”.
Things have stalled again? No problem, they’ll have a “Greatest Fat Loss Program in History Extreme“ out next month and that will change everything right?
Can you see the system here? Don’t follow the pack. Learn how to exercise and eat properly. Your salvation isn’t in a book or on a piece of paper; it’s within you. Keep reading to find out how.
2. Focus on the long term
By ignoring diets promising quick, easy weight loss, about the best you can usually do with true fat loss is somewhere between 1.5-3 lbs./week (fatter individuals can sometimes lose more). Sure you can drop a lot more total weight if you factor in water weight and other contributors, but true fat loss typically peaks at about that rate (some lighter women may have trouble even losing one pound of fat per week). For someone with a large amount of fat to lose, 50 or 100 pounds, this may mean one-half to a full year of dieting. You’ll need a plan that you can live with for that amount of time.
And what happens when you lose the weight? A lot of dieters seem to think that once they have lost the weight with one diet or another, they can revert to their old habits and keep the weight off. So they change their eating habits drastically, drop the weight and then go right back to the way of eating that made them fat. And, to their apparent surprise, they get fat again.
Here’s the painful reality that all dieters must come to terms with: the only way to both lose fat AND maintain that loss in the long-term is to maintain MOST of the diet and exercise habits you’ve changed.
3. Be Flexible
It’s rare to see perfectly linear fat loss without stalls or plateaus. Consider the reality of that, if you have 50-100 pounds to lose you may have to alter eating and exercise habits for nearly a year just to reach your goal. Do you really expect to be hungry and deprived for that entire period? I thought not.
Consider that you have vacations, parties and trips that will make sticking to a rigid diet unbearable if not impossible. Scheduling a break from the diet to coincide with the long term plan has many merits. Psychologically, feeling like the break is now under your control, or that it’s part of your overall plan, makes it far easier to not feel like the diet is completely blown and get back on the diet when things settle down.
Rigid diets will eventually give in to craving and you will begin binging on everything in sight, only to feel worse than ever and higher numbers on the scale to boot. You need to schedule periods (during the full diet) where you go off the diet and return to normal eating. The same holds true for each week, when you go out for dinner with friends or if you just have to have that double chocolate brownie you’ve been craving.
I’ve always believed that if the changes you’ve made to your diet and exercise program stay solid for 80% of the time, the other 20% is no big deal.
4. Exercise application
Forget about fat loss training zones because we are not interested in burning fat. Why? Because burning fat as fuel requires an exertion level far too low to burn enough calories to make a difference in your weight. The focus is on progression and proper application of weight training and cardiovascular activity.
Weight training helps your weight loss efforts in two ways: it adds calorie-consuming muscle to your body and keeps metabolic drive high (which lowers with prolonged dieting). Weight training is not mandatory if you want to lose weight, but unless you want to look and feel like a raison when it’s over, I’d get myself some weights. You want to track strength progress as this can be a sign that you are eating too little. Regular weekly progressions should be obtained or you may be dieting too strictly.
Cardiovascular exercise increases your body’s operating efficiency (which slows with prolonged dieting) and, of course, burns up a lot of extra calories. It too is not compulsory, but makes thing go smoother and faster. You also need to track progress with your cardio. You may be burning 500 calories today but by the end of the month it may only be 300 calories as your body adapts and becomes more efficient at the task. By creating a regular overload (more difficulty) each week you can ensure that you’re getting the most out of your efforts.
Hope these tips help keep you in the real world when it comes to developing a weight loss program.
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