How many times have you tried losing weight? How many dubious diet programs and supplement scams have you fallen prey to over the years? No need to feel ashamed. We’ve all made those mistakes at some point. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Getting in shape can and should be a deeply rewarding experience. A personal metamorphosis (I like to use big words), that brings out the best in you.
Read on to discover the most common errors on the road to hard abs and a sculpted body, and find out why your current weight-loss routine is setting you up for failure.
1. Eliminating foods
“In order to lose weight you have to cut out wheat, dairy, sugar and Cap’n Crunch cereal.”
Weight-loss is strictly a matter of taking in less energy than your body expends, not restricting particular foods or macronutrients.
If cutting out bread or sugar helps you stay on your diet, good. Eliminate it. Whatever aids you in your quest for leanness. But don’t think it’s the particular food that got you here looking for weight-loss solutions in the first place.
It’s the amount of food you must control, not specific foods or macronutrients.
In order to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit (= eat less and/or exercise more). Everything else is secondary. Stick with nutrient-dense foods and minimize the consumption of processed options while avoiding overly restrictive diets. Think long-term and stop being a food extremist.
2. Unsustainable practices
The decision has been made. The extra weight must go. Now the question remains, how do you get the fastest results? (I mean who has the time to eat real food and exercise 3x/week, right?)
Will a juice cleanse get you bikini ready? What shakes or supplements do you need to lose weight? What about calories? Do they matter or do you just have to eat clean?
Juice cleanses, weight-loss shakes, raw food diets, eating every other day and other radical approaches are not sustainable and will make you prone to a lifetime of weight fluctuations.
Stop looking for shortcuts. There are no diets, super-foods, pills, or secrets that will get you your dream body in 14 days.
Adopt a more moderate weight-loss routine instead. Allow yourself to eat a variety of foods while tracking and controlling your calorie intake. Increase the amount of daily activity, and if you really want to take this to the next level, start strength training.
3. Eating too little
You’ve been there.
In an attempt to diet the extra weight off you committed to a 500 calorie/day diet, eating nothing but steamed veggies and drinking “detox” shakes. While you initially lost some weight, most of it magically reappeared on your hips, once you stopped eating like a hamster.
“Very low calorie diets will ruin your metabolism.”
Unlikely. But they will condition your body to function with fewer calories. Guess what happens when you start eating “normal” again? You gain the weight back and then some.
You’ve made your body more efficient at storing calories for periods of low food availability.
You must provide your body with enough energy (calories) to sustain peak output. If you’re running on fumes due to your overly restrictive protocol, you’re pushing it too hard and you will fail. Guaranteed.
4. Trying to work the weight off
If you’ve ever trained at a gym, you’ve seen them. The guys and gals who seemingly live on the treadmill and take daily gym classes (“Abs of Steel”) in an attempt to train the weight off and finally get abs. Yet they remain soft, flabby or downright fat despite putting in hours upon hours in the gym.
And no, they’re not genetically cursed. But they’re missing the boat completely.
Training doesn’t get you lean. If you don’t control your diet, no training routine in the world will get you in shape. Your heart-health might improve from those treadmill sessions, but your fat cells won’t even flinch.
The energy deficit created by your diet is the foundation of your weight-loss. Cardiovascular exercise merely helps speed up the process and, if done in excess, will have you moving backwards (skinny-fat syndrome).
You must train to build muscle, not to burn fat. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the human body. It requires more energy and thus upregulates your metabolic rate.
And that’s what you always wanted, right? A fast metabolism. Start building some muscle then.
5. Believing the hype
Glance over the magazine section at your local gas station and you’ll see ludicrous claims and miracle cures left and right. The “Lose 14 pounds in 14 days”, “Melt the fat away with this new tropical super-fruit”, “Get abs without dieting”… type of stuff you read on every health magazine cover.
The TV experts, nutrition gurus and supplement companies have misled you so many times over the years. And yet, you still fall for their bogus claims and empty promises again and again.
The problem is you desperately want to believe them.
Eating a nutritious, calorie-controlled diet to lose the belly fat? Sweating in the gym to get abs? That sounds like work. And you’re not willing to put in the work (there’s got to be another way, right? I mean it’s 2016. Haven’t they come up with something?).
You think of dieting and training as a means to an end (i.e. project: beach ready). But fitness is not a means to an end. It is the ultimate goal.
Accept this as your new lifestyle and dismiss the idea that you have to be miserable chasing your dream body. That’s simply not the case. If you do it right, you’ll feel better with every passing day. That’s how this thing works. This is how life should be.
6. Expecting instant results
And lastly (and maybe most importantly), be patient.
Give yourself the time to adapt to the new routine and don’t panic if you didn’t lose “14 pounds in 14 days”. It takes time. 2, 4 or 8 weeks will never be enough to offset the years you spent mistreating your body.
It’s not fast and it’s not easy. Nothing worth having comes easy.
Know that you are doing the right thing. It might not feel like the right thing from the get-go (the first few weeks will be a test of character), but see it through to the end, without looking for the easy way out. You owe it to yourself.
How to lose weight and keep it off
- Stop dieting: Embrace this new lifestyle
- Eat real food (no diet shakes, light/ fat-free products)
- Train to build muscle not to burn calories
- Do the exact opposite of what magazines tell you
- Give it some time
Thank you for reading