Want to lose weight, yesterday? Here’s why you should take it slow.

Personal Training in Ultimo - Enliven Fitness

Know the story of the tortoise and the hare? ‘Course you do. It’s the tale parents tell impatient kids to illustrate the virtues of perseverance and putting one foot in front of the other.

The same lesson applies to weight loss; the slower and more consistent you are, the better your results. Unfortunately, it’s not a story many of us like to hear.

The modern approach to weight loss is WAY TOO FAST

You see, we all want to have a bangin’ bod… yesterday. There’s not a minute to lose in the weight loss stakes, and the constant barrage of skinny imagery, beauty ideals and advertising keeps us aspiring to a smaller, leaner self.

But at Enliven, we want to make the case for slowing down. For not bounding after every quick fix and bootcamp. For being the weight loss tortoise. (Because you know, under that chunky old shell, the tortoise has the best bod of anyone).

The truth is, it can take months, or even years, to craft the body you desire - and even then, the ‘look’ you’re going for may be a reflection of unrealistic beauty standards and fads than a reflection of actual wellbeing; your best self.

Don’t worry - there is a way you can have your cake and lose weight too (figuratively speaking), but be prepared to let go of instant-gratification, superficial goals and quick-fix-belly-flab-blasting miracle technologies, and embrace slow, steady, sustainable lifestyle changes that you love.

It’s the only way to do it, and you’ll soon learn why.

Weight loss: your body’s perspective

The thing is, your body doesn’t give up its protective safety-net of fat without a fight, and has many sophisticated mechanisms to thwart your attempts at weight-loss. This is why we see so many people stuck in yo-yo land; bigger, smaller, bigger, smaller, even-bigger, slightly-smaller, and so on.

When you go hard and fast - like in extreme diets and high-intensity bootcamps - weight loss can happen rapidly at the start, giving you a false sense of security and faith that ‘you’re on the right track’.

Be warned: it's an illusion.

But, but… the diet/bootcamp worked!

Writing a post dissing diets and fitness fads is risky, because for many people they work… at first.

Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself: that feeling of dropping a relatively large amount of weight in a short space of time when following such-and-such protocol. Hurrah! Finally, the secret to six-pack success.

But how long does it last? If you’re reading this, obviously not forever.

Yep. Honeymoon weight loss is a thing, and happens for the following reasons:

1. You’re losing water

2. You’re losing muscle

When you clean up your diet, ditching excessive sugar and going easy on the processed food, your body can drop weight rapidly. Water weight. That’s because every molecule of carbs/sugar (otherwise known as ‘glycogen’ in storage form) requires four molecules of water to go with it - so, when you suddenly stop eating so much sweet stuff, you also lose stored water.

As well as that, when you participate in excessive HIIT-style workouts or endurance training, your body releases cortisol - a stress hormone. Even though you feel ‘peppy’ and invigorated, it’s actually a stressful event for your body, and that 'high' you’re feeling is due to the activation of the fight/flight response.

Cortisol breaks down muscle as part of its ‘save your ass’ protocol, which is the exact opposite of what you need to do for long-term leanness and metabolically active tissue in the form of muscle.

Eventually, the buzz of daily bootcamp workouts gives way to flatlining energy and fatigue, as your adrenals burn out.

So, that’s why radical diets and exercise programs often appear to get you, like, super hot - for the first three months.

Phase two: the weight won’t budge

Long-term dieters and fitness junkies will agree - it’s hard to lose weight and keep it off. If you’ve ever felt ridiculously frustrated by the fact that you just can’t seem to sustain a low body fat or stick with your fitness program for more than a few months, there are some good reasons why.

You have a weight ‘setpoint’ your body actively defends

It’s proven that we all have a ‘weight setpoint’ - a weight that your brain prefers… and defends. If your body fat percentage changes drastically in a short space of time, a number of physiological processes kick in to restore the status quo.

Leptin and ghrelin levels drop and increase your perception of hunger, your metabolic rate slows to conserve energy and store body fat, and you find yourself eating your way back or above your usual weight seemingly unconsciously. It’s a remarkable system… that spells epic hair-tearing for dieters.

When you lose weight, your resting metabolism goes down.

It’s a hard truth to swallow. The smaller you get, the less fuel your body burns. That’s because a 60kg person requires a lot less calories to run her bodily functions than a 100kg person - which, in turn, means the more weight you lose, the fewer calories you need to eat each day. What used to ‘work’ for weight loss suddenly stalls. It’s the law of diminishing returns. Ouch.

You can’t out-train a bad diet.

If you simply try to exercise your way thin, study after study shows that it won’t work. There are a few reasons for this, but one of them is: exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you think it does. In fact, running a couple of kms uses a measly 150 calories. Considering that each kilo of body represents around 7700 calories, you can see why exercise alone isn’t a very efficient way to outrun what you eat, so to speak.

As well as that, relying on exercise alone often creates ‘treat entitlement’. That is, you justify eating more because you’ve worked out. We’ve all been there.

Lose fat; gain an unhealthy mindset

Then there’s the most damaging crash-diet effect of all: an unhealthy mindset. Losing weight rapidly requires a hefty dose of self-control/restriction, the belief that you’re not good enough the way you are, and adherence to (often) damaging fitness and eating protocols - less about wellbeing and more about aesthetics.

There’s enough hardship, struggle and sadness in the world without giving yourself a complex about food and fitness. And yet, quick-fix programs suggest that you’re so broken and ‘bad’ that immediate change is the only option. Not cool.

The real outcome of fast fat loss

When you get down to the nitty gritty, unless you’re facing a dire diagnosis or serious health condition, there aren’t many reasons you need to lose weight immediately.

In fact, the faster you try to lose weight/fat, the more likely your body is to push back against the process - not to mention, your psychological wellbeing will suffer.

If it’s health you’re after, how you move, think, breathe, hydrate, rest and nourish yourself are far, far more important than a number on the scale. Yet, the dieting/fad fitness industry would have us all believe that unless we’re whittling our waistline, we’re practically worthless.

So, how is anyone supposed to lose weight?!

Here’s where we get a little more optimistic. Of course it’s possible to create a body you love, in a way that adds to, rather than subtracts from, your health and happiness.

Aside from unrealistic body ideals as perpetuated by the “predatory” fitness industry (permission to slay those unhelpful images) you can work towards a physique that is fit, feelgood and lean, within a range that’s natural for you.

The trick is to play the long game.

You see, for all the physiological pushbacks and setpoints we described above, there are ways of naturally addressing and gradually overcoming them.

Start by eating a deeply nourishing diet you RELISH

Want to know an elite-level secret? You can ‘accidentally’ reduce calories and feel full and satisfied by eating the right foods. Human foods. Foods you don’t need to obsess over, weigh or measure. Foods the body knows.

When you slowly shift to a seasonal, whole-foods diet rich in fiber, nutrients and psychological satisfaction - you’re doing hugely positive things like:

- Feeling fuller for longer by eating lower-calorie, higher-satiety items like veggies, protein and (organic, pastured, QUALITY) sources of fat. For example, three heads of broccoli have the same calories as a small chocolate bar - and we’d like to see anyone polish off the broccoli and ask for more.

- Similarly to the above, nutrient-dense whole foods have a completely different effect on the body than their processed, nutritionally-devoid counterparts. By eating a wholefood, evolution-appropriate array of delicious foods rich in protein, fat and slow-release carbs, your blood sugar levels and hunger/satiety hormones stay in check - meaning you won’t have HANGRY moments that cause you to hunt for ice cream at midnight on a Monday.

- When you let your tastebuds and cravings guide you on a wholly healthy, veggie-rich and seasonal diet… suddenly, you’re no longer on a diet. This frees up SO MUCH mental bandwidth and angst - the very same feelings that can fuel binge eating and rebound weight gain on crash diets. Don’t go there. Let yourself revel in a naturally delicious diet instead, and refuse to feel deprived.

Now, the caveat is… you’ve got to make these changes S L O W L Y. Add one whole, healthy food per week. Focus on the positive; foods you love, that you can imagine eating for the rest of your life. Because the reality is, you’ll have to.

Don’t be disheartened if you’re not Jessica Alba tomorrow. That’s a good thing - ‘get shredded’ too fast, and you’ll end up right back where you started.

Give yourself permission to get your thoughts/mind/head sorted, explore and delight in new and healthy recipes, nourish yourself deeply, and think about weight loss as a happy side-benefit.

When you do lose weight, it’ll be natural and long-lasting - not an emergency situation for your body to rectify.

Have patience. Be the tortoise. Trust your body.

Strength train

Another almost-magic way of convincing your body to lose fat (without pulling out all stops to prevent it) is to strength train.

As you can imagine, this one is close to our heart.

There’s no shortage of studies that show the benefits of strength training for improved body composition - in conjunction with a healthy diet, of course.

In a nutshell, when you lift heavy (with correct technique and guidance), the calories you eat are more likely to go towards rebuilding muscle than be stored as fat - and for keeping a trim figure, this is a very, very good thing indeed.

Not only that, but the effects of strength training persist even after you’ve finished working out, ‘revving up’ your metabolism and expending even more energy to rebuild muscle. This is known as the afterburn effect.

So, instead of thinking of exercise as a purely ‘calorie burning’ activity, smart strength training is greater than the sum of its… ah, reps.

Make movement something you crave - not dread

Here’s another vote for S L O W.

Taking the time to find ways of moving that you truly, madly, deeply love is critical for sustainable weight loss.

Why?

Most people find it hard to do things they don’t really like. Eventually, you’ll give up. Sure, a few stoic individuals seem to doggedly pound the treadmill for years, but our guess is that they enjoy it. Revel in it. Derive satisfaction from being #hamsterfit. Each to their own.

If you want a fit and healthy physique for life, you absolutely must identify activities that light you up, otherwise... you’ll ditch ‘em. Game over.

The gym isn’t a place to beat yourself up or ‘repent’ for what you’ve eaten or how much tv you’ve watched. Rather, it should be a place to learn about and care for your body.

At Enliven, we’re big fans of community spirit and fun, knowing that the journey (each and every training session) is just as important as the destination (the physical results). Our intellectually and scientifically-designed workouts that have practical applications in the real world, teaching your body to move the right way in everyday situations. Rather than random programming, we translate the ‘geeky’ stuff into engaging, challenging and satisfying workouts, high in fun and play.

You must - repeat - must treat movement as a key foundation of your life; not something to begrudgingly do while trying to lose weight. When you enjoy how you move, you’ll never hesitate to lace up your shoes again.

Final words

Still reading? Good. You’re already proving yourself a master of patience, perseverance and plodding along while others burn out. Bravo!

We’re on a mission to reassure people that it’s OK to take it slow, to prioritise your health over your image, to consider yourself a perfect work in progress.

In fact, it’s not just OK… it’s the only way to go for lasting results and a body you love, for life.

So, next time you catch yourself pining for rapid weight loss, remember that you’re better off focusing on what makes you feel good - and working from there.

You’ll never beat your body into submission and skinny-ness with torturous tactics, so start working with it… and slowly, surely, watch it work for you.

 


 

Loved this article? Keen to learn more about the Enliven approach?

Reach out to us for a free 20 minute fitness strategy session. It’s an easy (and enlightening) way to get clear on your goals, hear our health and fitness recommendations and see if we’re a fit.

Feeling tech savvy? Book your free consult in seconds by clicking here.

To your health,

Michael Wilson

Director

Senior Exercise Practitioner

Holistic Health & Nutritional Coach

Manual Therapist

Functional Movement Specialist

Rehab Trainer

Posture Trainer

Personal Trainer




Join Us In Ultimo For The Best Fitness Training Around!

Request information

Request Information Now!