The biggest mistake I see those that are extremely motivated to shift some kilos/lbs which is usually following an overindulgent period like Christmas or a vacation, is they give it all they’ve got, all at the same time.

All at once, they reduce their food intake, they do as much exercise as they can physically fit into their schedule, and they completely stop eating foods or drink they usually enjoy.

My idea of hell basically.

Not only is this something that is completely unsustainable over a longer period of time, but it’s not the most intelligent way to lose weight, if you want your weight loss to be permanent.

And who wants their unwanted weight to return anyway?

So whilst it’s likely you want your dream body to occur in the next few weeks, think back to how long it took for your body to get here in the first place. 

You didn’t gain your weight in two to twelve weeks, so be reasonable with yourself and reset your thinking.

If you want your weight loss to be permanent, you need to focus first on reseting your lifestyle for the long term, not the cycle of jumping on the wagon until you reach your goal then reverting back to old, unhelpful habits.

Also, when you try to make too many changes to the way you currently operate, human beings are designed to resist change. So the more changes you try to make especially all at once, the more resistant you’ll be to making all these shifts.

You may not be resistant at first, but at the first sign of fatigue, or a friends social event, or extreme hunger, your willpower will be tested and you’ll be falling off your self imposed wagon of hell, only to feel the guilts and self loathing for not having stuck to it.

So how do we make changes that stick?

First of all we aim to make change gradual, not adding in new habits, until we’ve mastered the previous, which can take some time.

So in real life that might look like, this week I’ll reduce my weekday wine intake and only imbibe on the weekend.

Then once you’ve make that a new habit, then the next habit change might be looking to increase your activity levels. You might  aim to start taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and park further away from the shops so you can walk more. 

Once you start doing these things on auto pilot, then you can start to add in more like, meal planning at the beginning of the week and bulk prepping as much as you can, to eliminate the chances of ordering take out on busy nights. Meal prepping and bulk planning can take some extra effort to do, so setting aside this time each week, regularly so that you will soon do it automatically will really help you to achieve your weight loss goals.

When you aim for perfection and fall short, which ultimately you will do because no-one can reach perfection, then the negative self talk will set in and you’ll fall further from your ideal outcome.

Another important reason for not throwing everything you’ve got at your weight loss strategy is you leave yourself nowhere to go when your weight loss stalls.

When my father visited from Australia at Christmas time, I did a few bootcamps with him while he was here. He’s a very experienced personal and group trainer and runs his own business back home. While he was here in Bahrain, he offered to run a couple of sessions for me and my friends, which was fab.

What he noticed however was that my cardio fitness wasn’t that fantastic.

At that stage in my training, the only cardio training (if you can call it that) that I was doing, prior to his bootcamps, was my daily walking of which I aim to get anywhere from ten thousand steps to twelve thousand and fifty. Mind you during this time and just before Christmas I had hit my leanest in a long time and I was in peak shape. 

I was talking to my dad about how my goals at that point in time didn’t include doing any intense cardio, because I was still in fat loss mode. Meaning every week I was still losing the appropriate amount of my weight, through eating a calorie deficit, walking and lifting weights three to four times a week.

However once my weight loss stalled then I would revisit my strategy. I would either reduce my calories slightly for a week or two, or add in extra cardio. I wouldn’t do both. Usually I’ll reduce my food before I’ll add in cardio. 

He disagreed with me and told me he felt cardio fitness was important to a healthy lifestyle of which I completely agree, however, being overweight is also not conducive to a healthy lifestyle and for me, to reduce my weight to the healthy weight range is my first priority and when the time is right I will add more cardio intense exercise into my programming.

When you throw all your tools at your goal, then it can be frustrating to know how to attack your weight loss plan if you’ve plateaued. When you can’t physically add any more fitness to your schedule and you’re already eating so little food. Where do you go from here?

Another reason not to throw everything you’ve got at your weight loss strategy is you must start as you mean to go on. 

If you start off by doing a gym class 7 x a week and by shunning all social occasions, and eating very little (so much so that you start snapping at everyone around you) and you do hit your goal weight, do you think you’ll be able to sustain that level of committment going forward?

I always say, whatever it took you to get to your goal, you’ll need to continue moving forward.

So for me, I can safely say that my typical baseline eating habits and my workouts which are usually three days a week of lifting/resistance training and regular walking are rituals that I know I  follow forever, even when on vacation.

I can also say that I rarely come back from holidays with more than a couple of extra kilos if that, whereas I know many of my friends and clients go into complete damage control after an enjoyable and indulgent holiday.

When my life day to day isn’t restrictive then there is less for my body to be shocked from when I go on holidays. Also, while on holiday, there is less desire for me to eat all the foods that I potentially would have been denying myself in the lead up to the holiday if I was doing it all the wrong way of throwing all I’ve got on my weight loss strategy.

In closing I want to say that our bodies are so responsive and adaptable to how we treat them when it comes to food and exercise. If you lose weight and reach your goal weight by throwing all you’ve got at your weight loss strategy, then consider what your strategy will be once you’ve hit your goal and then need to maintain. If you reached your weight loss goal by consuming really low calories, working out every day intensely and not going to any social events, then what will your plan be to maintain your losses? 

Now that your body is adapted to eating lower calories and exercising all the time, you’ll need to keep it up if you wish to keep the weight off. Or else be extremely strategic with slowly adding more food and slowly reducing your activity levels, which in reality isn’t what most if not all people do post dieting. Just look at competitive fitness models after their stage shows. They’ve been eating so little and exercising so much right up until show day, then after competition, they blow out. 

Only the smart ones, will work on slowly reversing their calorie intake up and modifying their exercise, to reduce any major weight changes. But this takes knowledge and expertise to truly do properly.

I know taking a slow and methodical approach to long-lasting weight loss isn’t sexy when you want to see the results of your work straight away, but remember this. Do you plant a seed expecting it to flower the following day? A year from now, the work you put in consistently will show up, so start now, but be smart and strategic.