As much as fat loss is a numbers game, your psychology plays a crucial role too.
You might be more concerned about calories than cranial workings, and macronutrients than your mental state, but have you ever really stopped and thought about how your brain impacts your weight loss.
The phrase “diets don’t work” is completely, one hundred percent false.
Diets DO work.
At least, calorie controlled diets, that also monitor macronutrients, and put you into a calorie deficit will make you drop body fat. The trouble is, that many diets are difficult to stick to, and this is why people don’t get results.
Let’s take a typical example – a low-carb diet.
When you start off, you’re motivated to stick to it.
You cut out your bread, pasta, potatoes, sweets, sugars, and even some more natural foods such as fruits. While this may be tough to do, it’s not that difficult, as you’re in the zone, and can’t wait to start dropping pounds.
Additionally, the quick weight loss you get makes you feel even better.
The diet’s not got too treacherous yet, and the weight’s falling off – what’s not to love!?
When Your Brain Lets You Down
As soon as your low-carb diet starts to get tough – it might be at work, when the cakes are getting passed around the office, on a night out when the booze is flowing, or at a family member’s house, when you’re pressured into eating their oh-so-delicious, but oh-so high-carb treats – that you hit a mental brick wall.
Torn between two choices, you fight an internal battle.
What’s the right way to go?
Do you stick to your diet, face feelings of hunger and deprivation, but grind it out, or give in and eat what you really want, only to feel like a complete and utter failure as soon as the sweet sweet taste of that high-carb delight has passed?
When Progress Slows
Aside from day to day challenges like this, you also have mental struggles when you hit a plateau in terms of progress.
This is commonplace with low-carb eating.
You lose weight very quickly in the beginning, which feels great, and, in turn, motivates you to keep on track with your eating.
The trouble, however , is that a lot of this initial weight with low-carb eating is due to a few transient factors.
When you cut carbs, the volume of food you’re eating decreases, meaning there’s less food in your stomach, so less scale weight.
Additionally, your body can store up to around half a kilo of glycogen (the stored form of carbs) at any one time, and each gram of carbohydrate carries with it three grams of water. So up to two kilos of your initial weight loss could be purely glycogen depletion.
In fact, any diet that you follow will probably result in rapid initial weight loss.
This is awesome, but it can become problematic.
The Curse of Quick Weight Loss
When you lose weight quickly in the beginning, consciously or subconsciously, you expect this to become the norm.
Lose three, four or five pounds in week one? You hope for the same in week two, week three, and every week going forward.
The trouble is, it just doesn’t happen like that, which is why setting realistic expectations is so important.
Setting Realistic Expectations
Doing this is the first thing you must do when planning out how you’re going to change your body and transform your life.
It is crucial to look at the long-term gain.
The idea of losing a pound a week, or even half a pound, is often looked down on as being unambitious, but look at it this way –
If you lost 0.5kg every week for the next year, you’d be 26 kilos lighter in 365 days time.
Even half a pound would give you a 26 pound loss.
Chances are, you don’t even need or want to lose that much.
If you still don’t think that sounds like much for the time involved, just have a ponder on how quickly time goes – think back to your holidays last year, birthdays, family outings and so on. They feel like just yesterday, but they were probably quite a while ago. And, in the grand scheme of things, one year out of your life to dedicate to steady, sustainable weight loss really isn’t too much.
You MAY get quicker results that this in the beginning, but if you target that half to one pound per week loss, you’ve got realistic expectations that you can stick to.
How awesome would it be to be able to stick to a “diet” for a whole year?!
I bet you’ve never done that before.
These quick fix diets that last for 2 weeks, 30 days, or even 3 months – the results just don’t last. You’re setting yourself up for failure.
But realistic expectations set you up for success.
It’s Not Linear!
So many people become disheartened, discouraged and depressed when the scale weight jumps up one week.
This inevitably leads to a cheat meal, some comfort food, a binge, or even completely jacking in your diet.
But there are two important things to realise here –
- Scale weight isn’t the most important factor (more on that in a second.)
- Weight loss is not linear.
Due to several factors – water retention, glycogen levels, time of the month for women, training, muscle gain – your scale weight will jump around on a daily basis.
Therefore, being a little heavier one week from the last does absolutely not mean you’ve gone backwards.
A better option than once a week weigh-ins can be to weigh yourself each day, and take an average at the end of the week, then compare this average to last week’s average.
Weight Isn’t Everything
Tracking your bodyweight is good, but it’s not the be all and end all.
At the end of the day, you’re dieting to look better, right?
Does anyone really care about scale weight?
Along with bodyweight checks, you should be taking measurements (of your waist, hips, thighs, and arms) and taking regular progress shots to gauge how you’re getting on.
If these are all improving, it’s happy days.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
The final, and most crucial point for getting in the fat loss mind-set is to chill out.
You can control as much of your diet and lifestyle as you want to, and the degree to which you adhere to your diet depends on how much you want it.
Want to look like a pro bodybuilder? Then you’ll HAVE to be strict with your diet and keep close tabs on everything.
Just dieting to look good for the beach or in your little black dress?
Then there’s no need to go super hardcore.
Stick to your macros and hit your calories 90% of the time, then be “good” the other 10%. In that 10% if you want some alcohol, a free meal, some junk food – whatever you want. It won’t affect your progress at all, and will ultimately help you chill out and stick to your diet better for longer.
The Wrap Up
To put everything together –
- Think big picture, not short-term results
- Don’t stress too much over bodyweight
- Be happy with steady progress
- Enjoy your diet
- Make it a lifestyle change, not a quick fix
Result Based Training
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