I want to put a scenario out there, and you tell me if this has ever been you!!! You do a weight loss program or challenge, you eat really well for 8-12 weeks and lose a stack of weight, and then the program finishes and you feel amazing! But a few weeks afterwards the weight creeps back on because you have started eating with your family again, grabbing little extras here and there and enjoying life. And then this spirals until you hit a higher scale number, start to feel bad about yourself and go on another weight loss program.
A continuous cycle of yo-yo dieting and never really feeling in control!
Or, the other situation that we find ourselves in that sucks, is the one where you are always stressing about your weight and are consistently on a diet, looking at foods as good and bad, saying no to yummy things and feeling deprived all the time. You are consistently watching what you eat and you feel like you never get a break from dieting but you also never really see the results that you want to see! Does this sound like you?
Well - I’m here to give you a different perspective on your weight loss efforts.
Now I have done this chat before - way back at the start of the year. But I think this is a very timely reminder - especially for those of you who have just come off the Winter Challenge, too.
Something I want you to note is that weight loss is not linear. It doesn’t generally happen in a straight line. It can, but it doesn’t as a general rule. Hands up if you have ever felt disappointed with the weight on the scale because it went up one week, or did not move one week, when you thought you should be losing every single week? You expect that if you eat well and move more, your weight will consistently decrease, and when it does go up you start asking yourself what you did wrong! You analyse everything you ate or did that week to justify it.
STOP THAT RIGHT NOW. The scale does not give you the full picture so stop doing that.
Weight loss is not linear (as in… consistently heading in the same direction) because of the following reasons:
Scale weight is different to body fat weight. The scales will show water weight (thanks to hormone changes, carb loading and sometimes absolute randomness) whereas you are still likely to be losing body fat even when the scale goes up one week.
Your body begins to adapt to your new normal, and eventually makes it harder to lose weight if you consistently do the same thing. It gets used to whatever you throw at it so you have to change it up every now and then.
Your progress can be linear and heading down towards your goal, but the weight on the scale might not be showing that.
Linear results are not sustainable forever. You can't live in a calorie deficit for your entire life. Listen to that again. You can’t live in a calorie deficit for your entire life!
I want you to start to think of your weight loss in terms of cycles. You are either in a SHRED cycle (losing body fat) or a MAINTENANCE cycle (maintaining your weight). If you are keen on bodybuilding and building muscle - we have a third cycle to do that - but I won't talk about that tonight. If you are keen to know more about the bodybuilding side of things - jump over and check out our GO! Summer Body program and join that group - we talk lots about how to build muscle in the BUILD phase.
During the SHRED cycle is when you go hard. You work really hard for a short period of time 8-10 weeks MAXIMUM. You increase movement/steps, you increase QUALITY food and you decrease calories. It IS that simple. You do not want to go more than 10 weeks, ideally, because your body starts to recognise your new pattern and it adjusts. In my experience both personally and as a coach - 12 or more weeks is too long - even 10 weeks can be too long for some people to go hard. It becomes mentally draining - you feel like you're missing out on social events, food, wine - whatever it is. 8 weeks is a perfect amount of time to go hard, see good results and stay motivated. If you want to go down to 6 weeks you can - but I would then ask - how badly do you really want results?
But in that SHRED phase you give it your all. You go hard and lose as much body fat as you can. Ideally - if you have it to lose - you would aim for 4-6KGS of weight loss in an 8 week program - IF YOU HAVE GOT IT TO LOSE!
BUT - while you are in the shred phase you also need to understand healthy habits, WHY you are losing weight - and not just because you move more and eat less. Simply doing this will get you results in the shred but it will NOT maintain your results afterwards.
Are you still with me?
When you are not in shred mode, you are in the maintenance phase. Maintenance is exactly as it sounds - maintaining your weight. Maintaining your NEW weight (as much as possible). During this phase you will eat more calories than you did in the shred, but not enough to put body fat back on and undo your good work. You want to eat at your maintenance level of calories - the number of calories your body needs to stay the same (not grow, not lose).
This phase is also the time you can let loose a little bit, enjoy wine, chocolate and not say no to yummy foods all the time, while still maintaining a good balance of regular exercise. BUT where this goes wrong for so many people is that they simply splurge on foods they had restricted during the SHRED phase. Or they still have the mentality that they can only lose weight while eating strictly healthy foods and nothing yummy. That's not the case.