So you want to lose weight (fat). Sticking to a calorie controlled diet for 4, 8 or 12 weeks and ramping up the exercise takes a lot of commitment but is perfectly doable. The reward is seeing a smaller number each week and finding your clothes are too big.
But what do you do at the end of the process? When you are quite tired actually thanks for asking, and have vivid dreams of calorie laden treats on a regular basis?
The amount of will power and determination it takes to continue controlling your calories and working like a fiend in the gym when you have the body you want is huge. Although we all like to think that we are motivated by our image of a thinner self, mostly we are motivated by disliking the rolls of fat we see in the mirror. Suddenly the fat is gone and eating all that salad doesn't give you any immediate pay off.
Sure we feel better ... but better than cheesecake ... just a small piece ... with some cream ...?
It appears to me (just to me, mind you) that there aren't many people who have dieted hard and trained hard for a long period of time who haven't had some rebound issues. And as a former figure competitor I have had my share of feeling completely out of control.
It is now five months later and I am just getting back on an even keel. I have regained all the weight I lost (and a bit more) during my contest preparation. But even now, the very thought of going back to 1500 calories a day sends me head first into the nearest fridge.
So what to do?
1. Decide what your calorie deficit is to lose weight - I figure 1500 is probably about a 500 calorie deficit because I lost an average of 0.5kg (1 pound) a week when I stuck to it.
2. Then in the spirit of ridiculously easy goals (see' just showing up' below) halve that amount. So now my calorie target is 1750.
3. Figure out a way to eat within this calorie limit that is sustainable for EVER. So that means working treats and alcohol into your plan. Don't stress too much about protein, fat and carbs, meal timing or eating clean. Just find something you can live with.
4. Get some exercise almost every day. Lift weights, walk, run occasionally, do yoga. Again exercise in a way that is sustainable for EVER.
5. Weigh yourself everyday and average the numbers over a week. Once a week weighing can give you a false reading and daily variations do not mean you did something right/wrong the day before.
6. If exercising at high intensity (RPM/interval type training) makes you hungry then eat. Don't be afraid to eat back your exercise calories sometimes.
7. Relax about it all.
When your weight starts creeping down, you know you are on the right track. If it creeps up, don't change anything for at least 2 weeks - give it a chance. When you eventually make it to your goal weight, keep eating and exercising exactly the same amount but throw in an un-logged treat meal now and again.
Voila! you've created a lifestyle. You have sustainable eating and exercise habits that keep you lean, fit and healthy all the time.
That's my heartfelt earnest hope for the future at any rate ... I'm giving it a shot.