Impatience may be the number one killer of efforts to lose weight.
Anyone who is overweight wants to be in shape yesterday. They’ve got a high school reunion coming up. Beach season is here. They’re taking a cruise to Topless Model Island…
If you’re overweight, you didn’t get that way in just a few weeks, and you won’t undo it quickly. Yes, this is another one of my spirit-crushing articles about what it really takes to get in shape, lose fat, and keep it off.
Guess what happens when I Google “lose weight fast”? I get almost 10 million results and a crapload of advertisements that include words like “magic” and “miraculous” and “Dr. Oz.” Now guess what the results are for “lose weight slow”? There are only 13,000 pages and (and no ads), and most pages talk about things like “How to lose weight with a slow metabolism.” Or “To lose weight, slow your eating.” Not the same thing.
Now guess which approach actually works. This is a race that the tortoise wins and the hare doesn’t even finish.
You can’t smear on a cream to melt fat. You can’t “Law of Attraction” the flab away. You can’t lose five pounds a week doing yoga, and thosefitness models in the Bowflex commercials didn’t actually get those bodies using a Bowflex.
I’ve seen 12-week plans, 8-week plans, 30-day plans, and even two-week plans for dropping ridiculously unrealistic amounts of fat. Some say it’s effortless, or that it only takes 8 minutes in the morning. There is no such thing as a “four-hour body.”
These are all examples of telling you what you want to hear because that’s what sells. You don’t want to hear that sustained weight loss equals tremendous effort, restraint, and caloric restriction, and weight loss marketers know this.
Screw those guys. If you’re overweight, sedentary and have a bad diet, then you need to accept the reality that there is no quick or easy solution. Getting in shape may be one of the most difficult things you ever do. BUT, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In fact, accepting this harsh reality is an important first step in ensuring you are actually successful.
First off, I want you to forget about losing weight. For now, at least. When you focus solely on the numbers on the scale then, you’re setting yourself up for failure because it removes your concentration from what is most important to success: Permanent lifestyle change.
Did you catch that? I’ll repeat it because it’s damn important: Permanent lifestyle change is your number one goal. Achieve that and the body fat will come off and the muscle will come on. Eventually.
When you think about quick weight loss and it doesn’t actually happen quickly then you get frustrated and quit. However, when you focus on readily achievable goals that you have control over, you can get the positive reinforcement necessary to succeed in the long term.
Losing 30 pounds is a fine goal, but it’s a longer term one that shouldn’t be at the forefront in your mind. Here are some examples of what you should really be thinking about:
- I will put together a strategic plan for how to fit exercise into my life
- I will find activities that I enjoy doing and learn how to do them well
- I will start exercising slow and gradually increase the amount of time, effort and frequency
- I will learn how to focus on healthy, calorie-restricted eating
- I will not starve myself, but gradually start integrating modest caloric deficits that lead to weight loss over an extended period of time
The fact is that people hate change. Let’s take the example of a 12-week “get in shape fast” approach. If you go hard, then you can accomplish some pretty amazing things with your body composition in 12 weeks, but understand what it actually takes to do that.
Using the example of an out-of-shape couch potato, it means transforming, in one day, from an inactive junk food scarfer to a person that eats almost nothing but healthy food, and less of it, plus works out intensely for at least an hour or more a day, six days a week.
Good luck with that.
The instant lifestyle transformation is so soul-crushingly difficult that the vast majority of people simply can’t do it unless they believe God threatened to shove a lightning bolt up their ass if they didn’t start a fitness program. So, don’t go for the overnight It’s-New-Year’s-Day-and-I’m-hungover-and-ready-to-get-in-shape approach.
Baby steps. Baby steps are what will get you there.
The good news is that this all gets easier over time, until it becomes second nature. Do a little. Do a little and get used to it. Then do a little more and get used to that. Repeat until you achieve your ultimate goals. Then keep it up until you die.
You must wrap your brain around this. This is not about weight loss. This is not about “getting in shape.” This is about lifestyle overhaul. This is about changing who you are.
Fitness is not a list of actions. It is someone you become. Work on becoming a fitness-focused person, and reap the benefits.