At the time of writing this it’s late March, which means the majority of people who made a health-related New Year’s Resolution have fallen off the wagon. One of our Core Values is honesty. As a coaching staff, we’ve taken a hard stance against the misinformation in the fitness industry. There is no “perfect workout”, supplement, ab routine, diet plan, or superfood that will unlock the secret to weight loss. I’ve opted for “losing 20 pounds” as our case study because it is the most often-cited exercise goal I’ve heard from people first starting an exercise routine. So, let’s examine what that will actually take. Honestly.
Simply put, you can lose 20 pounds in several months by eating fewer calories than you do now and exercising vigorously for three to five hours per week using resistance training, interval training, and cardio training. Simple enough, right? So why, then, does everyone who sets out to lose 20 pounds not succeed? Because the truth in weight loss – and pretty much anything you wish to achieve – is that the process is incredibly simple (eat less, move more), but undoubtedly difficult.
This is your litmus test – if your weight loss solution involves a complex “system” or “plan” with anything short of complete sacrifice and lifestyle modification on your part – it probably won’t work. Let’s examine what it actually takes to lose 20 pounds.
Eating less seems simple enough. But, truth is, a healthy diet permeates more of your daily habits than you might think. Here are a few examples:
- Buy, prepare, pack, and eat raw vegetables at every meal
- Eat food that you prepared for each meal
- Spend time every week doing meal preparation
- Men – drink 5 or less alcoholic drinks per week. Women – 3 or less
- Minimize or eliminate sweets – especially around the office or when you’ve had a “hard day”
Move 3-5 hours a week. Simple enough. Why is it so rare that people actually stick to it? There are plenty of factors that contribute to non-exercise – schedule, not knowing what to do, difficulty forming a habit, losing interest, and budget. Here are some examples of what it actually will take to stick to an exercise routine:
- Chances are, you’ll need to hire a coach or trainer. Most access (“globo-gym”) facilities are set up to where less than 5% of people paying a membership actually go. Read: You probably won’t either.
- You’ll need to wake up early. Meaning, the first number on your alarm clock will probably be a 5.
- You’ll need to pack a gym bag everyday. If you go home before the gym, you probably won’t make it to the gym.
- Childcare – you’ll need to make arrangements.
- Be proactive – block out your workout time in your schedule. Leaving it up to chance means it won’t happen.
Underpinning every truth in weight loss is consistency. Using our 20 pound example, you can expect to lose this weight in five months. Four if you’re incredibly diligent. Two if you plan to gain 30 pounds back (read: crash diet and over-exercising). When was the last time you stuck to something for five months? Truth is, most folks can maintain for 3 weeks.
There will be sacrifice. You will need to plan. You will need to adjust pretty much every part of your day. Your likelihood of success goes up with someone in your corner. Find a trainer, a coach, friend, or significant other. Behavior change happens in the context of relationship. Losing weight is behavior change FIRST, diet and exercise second.