Let’s be honest, losing weight can seem overwhelmingly difficult. In fact, most of us must reach a point of total exasperation before we even attempt it. By the time that we are motivated to really do “whatever it takes,” the last thing we want to hear about is moderation.
We want the fat gone. We want the fat gone now! And we are fully prepared to medicate, starve, or sweat off every single calorie. At least until hunger really steps in, and we (once again) give in to our physiology.
In this article, I am going to share some effective practices for steadily losing weight while choosing moderation over extremes. This is to say that you will be able to:
- Feel good from day one
- Eat food that you enjoy
- See consistent results
- Remain motivated
- Regain health and vigor
First let us examine why extreme diets and workout plans fail.
Why Extreme Weight Loss Methods Fail
If you believe that deep space or the untold depths of the oceans are interesting, I invite you to further explore the body that you walk around with each day. The more that I learn about the human body, the more in awe of it I am. The cells, tissues, organs, and systems housed within it are self-preserving, intricate, instantly responsive, and held within a delicate balance.
Extreme methods do not result in lasting weight loss because they work against the integrity of the systems in your body.
Successful manipulation of our body composition demands a subtle, balanced approach. The good news is that such an approach, which is so kind to your body, will also help you to feel better mentally and emotionally, and immediately in many cases.
“But, I can’t stand it anymore!” you say. “I need the weight gone now!” There is a good reason why we feel so desperate when we begin a weight loss journey. Too often, motivation comes on suddenly, and if we do not manage to accomplish significant physical change, or the stars are otherwise not aligned, our motivation will fizzle out fast and our unhealthy habits will jump right back into the driver’s seat.
These four practices will enable you to successfully lose weight through moderation.
1: Track All Progress
What if I told you that every Saturday for the next several months you were going to get on the scale and see that you have gained one or two pounds?
Pretty dang scary, isn’t it? Imagine how out of control that would feel. Every single week … another pound. How quickly would those jeans you’re wearing no longer fit? How devastated would you be? But, it is just one pound, right?
When faced with the journey to weight loss, so many people balk at such a meager amount of weight loss per week. Yet, the illustration above should put into perspective how much one “little” pound can weigh emotionally. And, how quickly the weeks fly by and the results add up. An easy to adhere to moderate diet will enable a person to lose between one and two pounds per week.
When you make the decision to move forward, I advise tracking EVERYTHING that you can.
Take three photos on day one: front, side, and back view. Wear something revealing. You may not want to see yourself in a Speedo from behind right now. However, next month you might feel differently. Honestly, the worse you look now, the better you’ll feel later. Snap away.
It will be a little while before you can see a significant change in your photos. Doesn’t matter! Snap away. Snap away every single week, preferably at the same time of day, and wearing the same clothes.
Record Your Measurements
You’ll need measuring tape for this one. You will take and record your measurements at several locations on your body. Wear as little clothing as you can and try not to wear anything that causes your flesh to bulge as this will throw off your measurements. Pay close attention to where and how you are placing the tape as consistency over the coming weeks is key. Also, avoid “sucking in” your stomach.
Record your weight
The scale is not an accurate measure of fat loss … at all. However, it can be a great way to track progress if integrated with other metrics, such as measurements and photos. Each week, on the same day, at the same time, preferably wearing the same thing, get on those scales. Then, record your weight along with your measurements in a journal of some kind.
2: Move Your Body
Some folks love to walk, run, bike, lift weights, pole dance … whatever. Other people hate “exercise.” If you are one who hates exertion, let’s address that. Your body, just by virtue of its innate design, is the body of an athlete. Your body was created to move efficiently and powerfully. I don’t care how much you weigh or how little you have worked out in the past. Make no mistake about it, you ARE an athlete.
Does that mean that you have to start taking Zumba, lifting free weights, or running? No. Just start moving your body. Whether that means taking a stroll outside or a dance class is up to you. The fact is that you were made to move, and you are going to feel much better if you do. This isn’t about pushing yourself (although if you feel the urge go right ahead); this is about simply enjoying your body and giving it the stimulation that it craves.
3: Celebrate the Now
When we first begin our weight loss journey, we typically do not feel good about ourselves. We usually don’t like the way that we look or the way that we feel. We are often just looking forward to what we hope to look like in the future. There is nothing wrong with planning for and expecting results in the future. However, as the saying goes, you only ever have today. Believe me that when the day comes that you have lost 20 pounds of fat, you will no longer be quite so concerned about it. You will be on to wanting to lose the next 20 pounds, or to perfecting your squat technique, or to running a 10-minute mile, or to paint a perfect lily. We always have goals ahead of us. We are not meant to be satisfied with a certain amount of progress in our life.
Therefore, unless we consciously begin to embrace our imperfect self today, we will NEVER be happy. And unhappy people love chocolate cake and really just want to sit down and binge-watch another series on Netflix.
Find something to truly celebrate in the now, and you will have more to celebrate in the future!
4: Moderation Means Eating Foods You Love
In a recent NASM Podcast, Avatar Nutrition Co-Founder Katie Coles boasts that she now maintains a lower percentage of body fat than she did off-season when she was a fitness competitor. Her secret? She is less rigid with her diet and so doesn’t go “off the rails” as she did when her competition was over.
My advice is to choose foods that you absolutely love to eat, and permit yourself a portion of them regularly.
Why These Moderation Practices Work
The systems of our body exist in a delicate balance. When they are thrown off by extreme circumstances, the body fights to reestablish them. This is just one way that the human body is amazing and has enabled human beings to persevere through countless calamities.
We must work with our body and mind to implement lasting change, not against it. This relationship can culminate in massive weight loss without deprivation and even a possible reinvention of the person. However, any change will always begin in the present and with the person in the mirror. If that journey begins with acceptance of where we are and a clear vision of the future, then we can feel better immediately and will enjoy the journey to our goal.
By focusing on feeling good in the present moment, moving our bodies, enjoying our food, and monitoring our progress, we will be able to sustain long term, lasting weight loss through moderation.