There are a lot of misconceptions and ill-advised recommendations surrounding weight loss.
Juice cleanses, crash diets, and overly ambitious training programs claim to help you “Lose 30lbs In 30 Days!”. Other than setting unrealistic expectations, all of these methods share one thing in common: they’re unsustainable.
Unsustainable methods breed unsustainable results.
And if your goal is to lose weight, I’m willing to bet you’d like to keep it off. Otherwise, what’s the point?
So, instead of continuing the endless cycle of losing weight and putting it back on, let’s go over how you can lose weight and keep it off. Forever.
1. STOP QUITTING
You know who and what I’m talking about. Every January, gyms are flooded with new members who are nowhere to be seen come February.
The idea that health is seasonal is ridiculous. While the majority will prioritize their fitness for 2-3 months out of the year, the optimal approach is to make it a year-round commitment.
Your muscles don’t understand seasons, they understand consistency.
2-4 workouts per week for 12 months is always going to be better than trying to work out every day and quitting your second week in.
2. STOP DOING ONLY CARDIO
While cardio is an effective way to burn calories during your workouts, it doesn’t do much for your metabolism (your body’s energy levels).
Start lifting weights. Heavy ones. And use cardio as an aid to your strength training and general health (cause you know, your heart is kinda important).
Strength training doesn’t just help you build muscle (although it’s very effective at doing that), it helps you keep weight off due to the positive effects it has on your metabolism.
The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be. This means you’ll be burning more calories throughout the day (not just during your workouts).
Strength training doesn’t just build muscle, it creates a machine (aka your body) that is efficient at expending energy and keeping fat off.
3. STOP DOING HIIT EVERY DAY
Chances are if you think you’re doing HIIT every day, you’re not. Here’s why.
HIIT is high intensity interval training…emphasis on high intensity.
High intensity doesn’t mean doing jumping jacks or burpees for half an hour while you chat it up with your buddies. High intensity is when you’re working so fucking hard for 10-12 seconds, you don’t even know what your name is.
In order to do HIIT effectively and see the benefits of it, your body needs time to recover.
Doing “HIIT” every day and going balls to the wall every time you’re in the gym is a better way to fuck yourself up than lose weight in a sustainable way.
If you enjoy doing HIIT and want to use it as a tool to drive weight loss, two HIIT workouts per week is usually a safe bet.
4. STOP DOING ONLY ISOLATION EXERCISES
You know what I’m talking about. Curls, triceps extensions, those weird side leg raise things girls do for their butt.
Isolation exercises are great for adding tension to a specific muscle group in order to grow, and I use them in my own training and my clients’ programs.
But instead of doing a laundry list of different isolation exercises (all of which work 1-2 muscles at a time), emphasize compound movements in your workouts. Sprinkle in isolation exercises here and there to compliment the compound lifts, not replace them.
Compound lifts are movements like squats, deadlifts, rows, presses, lunges…exercises that use multiple muscles and joints at a time.
Pick 2-3 compound movements per workout and do them at high intensity (lift heavy). You will get way more benefit from doing this, rather than pumping out a shit ton of isolation exercises.
5. STOP ONLY USING MACHINES
This piggybacks off the last point. As with isolation movements, machine exercises have their time and place. But if you want to get stronger and keep weight off, you should be emphasizing free weight and body-weight resistance training.
Machines set you on a predetermined path, meaning they guide you through the exercise. This takes some of the stress out of your muscles since they don’t have to work as hard to perform the movement.
Working out is called working out for a reason…it’s hard fucking work. So challenge your body to move and adapt freely, with general emphasis on compound movements. And use machines as a way to compliment the bigger exercises.
6. STOP CRASH DIETING
Yes, you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat, but that doesn’t mean you need to completely deprive yourself of food. This is a shortsighted way of thinking that always ends in failure.
Remember, if the methods are unsustainable, the results will be unsustainable.
7. STOP DOING JUICE CLEANSES
You may have been recommended to do a juice cleanse by a “fitness guru” on Instagram because they claim all of their clients saw tremendous results in just two weeks.
Well, I’m sure they did lose a lot of weight. Who wouldn’t if they were sucking through a straw for 14 days?
“Juicing” (no, not that kind) usually results in weight loss due to the overall reduction of calories. If you cut out food and only drink juices, yeah, you’re not going to be consuming as much calories.
It’s not that the juices have magical powers and are the secret to weight loss. It’s the fact that you’ve reduced your calorie intake by eliminating foods from your diet (foods that were most likely high in calories).
And to play that broken record one more time, juicing probably isn’t the most sustainable approach.
Long term consistency beats short term intensity 100 % of the time.
If you have a goal. whether it’s weight loss or whatever, you need to make it a part of your lifestyle. That’s it.