When we look to change our bodies, we often want to do so in the fastest amount of time possible. In a society dominated by instant gratification, it is natural to expect results NOW. But the reality is, when it comes to fat loss or muscle building, achieving long-term and sustainable results takes time.
Yes, we could all lose 5kg in a week on a crazy juice cleanse, but we would gain it back even faster. The challenge is finding a nutrition plan and exercise regime that will produce long-term results without causing lasting damage to your body.
I understand the appeal of quick-fix schemes, and even I recently fell victim to the idea of rapid weight loss. As you may remember, due to the weight classes of my upcoming competitions, I have to lose 2.5kg by September 20 and 7.5kg by November 22. One of my fellow UK-based strongwoman competitors lost 9kg in five weeks to compete in a lower weight class this past weekend. I knew how she would have done it, yet I still asked anyway – hoping to find some miracle answer.
The truth is that I absolutely hate dieting and would do anything to speed the process up. I’m not looking for lasting fat loss here – I just need to reach a certain weight for a single day. I hate not being able to eat burgers to my heart’s content, and I hate the fact that my mood is tied to the number on the scale.
The recipe for long-lasting fat loss is so simple that most people assume it can’t be right: exercise more and eat less.
There is no special diet pill that one must take, superfood that one must eat, or exercise routine that one must embark on.
The “magic secret” to weight loss can generally be summed up as follows:
- Participate in resistance training (either by lifting weights or using your own bodyweight) two to four days per week
- Engage in some form of intense cardio-based activity once or twice a week (sprints or circuits with light weights)
- Consume less calories than you expend
- Ensure you are getting adequate sleep and rest
Many people know the above to be true, yet why is it so difficult to follow this advice sometimes? It is because gradual weight loss is not sexy. Losing one pound a week, if that, seems far too slow within a fitness industry that promises 10 pounds of weight loss a week.
Most people struggle with the idea that “less is more”. They think they need to lift weights and perform cardio every day, sometimes twice a day, to encourage maximal calorie burn.
They mistakenly assume that if eating 1800 calories a day will result in a one pound weight loss per week then eating 1300 calories per day must result in a two pound loss per week. This is simply not true. If you drop your calories too low (anything below 1500), your body will not be able to burn fat efficiently.
If you are doing it properly, fat loss should be a long-term goal. As unsexy as it is, you are far better off working with a 200-300 calorie deficit for three months than dramatically slashing your calories for six weeks.
I often encourage my clients to think as far as a year in advance. Yes, it is important to set mini goals along the way to keep motivation levels high, but the big picture should be very long term.
If you ever turn your nose up at the thought of losing weight so slowly, just remember that the time is going to pass anyway. It’s up to you to make sure you are using that time wisely.
As my strongwoman friend told me, she would never recommend losing weight as quickly as she did as it significantly affected her performance on competition day. She, like me, just got a bit lazy about her weight loss and before she knew it, she was panicking a few weeks out. I definitely don’t want to put myself in the same situation, so this post should help to keep me accountable!
What is the best tip you have for long-term fat loss?