Last week we started talking about some of the things that not only keeps people from losing weight, but also stops them from keeping that weight off. This week we’ll dive into one solution that helps people lose weight and keep it off afterwards as well. This is not a magic pill or a secret formula, it is just an approach that is often over looked because it seems so simple. Not only does it seem simple, it can also be frustrating at times when your progress doesn’t show as quickly as you’d like. This approach is what we like to call ”sustainable weight loss”.
Sustainable weight loss, the first word says it all, the approach and results are sustainable. In comparison to the route a lot of people choose to take, the faster but less sustainable route.
Let’s talk about that alternate route first, the fast but un-sustainable route. This route is a great way to lose fat if you’re in a hurry. If you have a wedding, school reunion or weight class specific event coming up, and you need to lose weight fast. I will never knock anyone down for trying to lose weight/fat but we have to be realistic and understand that this route doesn’t produce long-term results.
Why? Because the caloric deficit you need to be in while losing all of that weight is too big for the body to adjust to. Let’s say you’re used to eating 3000 calories a day to sustain a weight of 80 kilos or 176 pounds, that is your baseline. From there you cut 30-40% for the next 2 weeks (800 to 1200 calories), let’s say that brings you a weight loss of 8 kilos. That gap is too big to sustain over time because the number you dropped down to isn’t linked to the number of calories you were eating to get there. You were eating 1800 calories (60% of your actual needs) to get down to 74 kilos, but in order to sustain that weight you have to adjust your calories again because 1800 wouldn’t be enough. And what does your body do with all of those calories you start adding back in? It doesn’t burn them since it isn’t used to that anymore. It will simply be there (possibly stored as bodyfat), that is how the weight is gained back, that is why it is not sustainable.
Sustainable weight loss
Now that we have talked about why the ”fast track” isn’t sustainable, let’s talk about why the slower track is.
Slower but sustainable weight loss ensures long-term results because your body has time to adjust itself to the changes that are happening inside your body. Let’s take our example of 80 kilos again, but this time you’re cutting your calories by 15% (450 calories). You’re going to eat around 2550 calories for the next couple weeks and slowly see progress starting to take shape. Eventually this slow progress will turn it solid results and your weight loss is truly showing. You want to keep following this same process until your body becomes fully adapted to the calories you’re getting in; this is the time where progress becomes non-existent and you ”plateau”. That is the moment you want to cut the calories you have been eating up to that point by another 5-15% (like you did to get to this point). You basically keep following this trend until your reach the weight you want to get to. When you finally get to this stage it is important to remember the number of calories you were eating during your final weeks of losing weight, that is the number of calories your body.
See this process as a 100-mile run. Nobody runs 100 miles without food, drink or other aid stops. You run to a designated point along the course, break, re-assess, adjust when necessary and keep on going. You go through mental ups-and-downs all along the course. This happens multiple times throughout the course of that race. At the start of this race, you will feel like you’re not going anywhere, because 100 miles seems so far away. But as you’re chipping away at those miles that distance will start to decrease bit by bit, by the end you will be so glad you started. Along the way you’re going to struggle, your mind will tell you to stop but you have to tell yourself that at the end of your race (journey) all of it will be worth it. It’s the exact same thing when it comes to sustainable weight loss. You cut calories down (preparation), chip away at your weight bit by bit(your run), then plateau (your designated point along the course), re-assess and adjust, until you finally get down to your finish line (your target weight).
In comparison, the ”fast track” is a 1-mile run. If you have ever run a mile at your max pace, you know it is incredibly hard! Cutting that number of calories is going to be the same, hard, but you will be done fast.
Remember, the longer it takes to get somewhere, the longer it takes to dissapear.
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