By Justin Gibson, BS, CPT, CSCS
So you’ve tried everything to lose weight, and nothing has worked.
It’s been weeks, months, or even years, and you have no real progress to show for it. You’ve tried every diet on the shelf, you’ve learned all the weird tricks, and you’ve been through too many cleanses to count, but the scale just refuses to acknowledge your efforts.
You’re not alone. It’s estimated that American’s will have spent $60 billion on weight loss this year. It’s an industry that thrives on you quitting one thing and trying something else.
Well, if you can stomach it, I’d like to give you one more piece of advice to help you on your way. One more secret that I’m willing to share…. for a limited time only.
Are you ready? Here it is:
Pick something, anything, and stick with it to the letter for 6 entire weeks.
If you’ve tried everything, you might not have stuck with anything. It’s human nature to expect results immediately after making a change. Unfortunately, sometimes this means declaring a new diet a failure when it falls short of lofty expectations, then moving on to something completely different.
Diets -like workout programs, which often suffer the same problem- need time to work.
A sensible change in your eating habits geared towards losing weight will put you in a slight caloric deficit over a long period of time.
That previous sentence doesn’t look very appealing and probably won’t make the ad copy for the Lipo-Blaster System 2015, but it’s true and it’s the foundation of every successful long term weight loss program. Any method that promises double digit results over the weekend is a crash diet, and crash diets are as fleeting as they are dangerous. Most good weight loss programs have you starting slow, with small changes to your eating habits, then gradually add in new strategies to reduce calories as you progress.
A sensible caloric deficit can come from countless different methods; we wouldn’t have ten new diets coming out every day if at least a few of them didn’t work for somebody. But all of them have rules, and all of those rules were probably written under the assumption that you were only doing that specific diet. Too often, an over-eager dieter will try to combine two or more diets that they heard worked, along with eating a super-food their favorite talk show host recommended, but trying to cut all of the foods this one article said would make them gain weight, and doing this weird tip with salted ice cubes their grandma told them to try…. and, predictably, their diet becomes a mess that no human being could understand, let alone stick with.
The solution is just to pick one diet or tip and follow it -and only it- for a pre-determined amount of time; six weeks is about right to find out if it worked or not.
Are you going to try Atkins? Great! Do everything the Atkins book tells you to do, and change nothing unless you have an allergy or a doctor tells you to. If you’ve lost weight after six weeks, it worked! Keep doing it! If you haven’t lost anything, or you have but you feel terrible, then it didn’t work, and you’re free to move on knowing you have it an honest try.
Are you going to replace lunch every day with a protein shake? Great! Every day, every lunch, do that. If a friend invites you out to lunch, bring your shake and don’t order anything. If you get sick of your shake, try another flavor. Make the change and see it through for six weeks.
Whatever method you chose, chose only one.
Every diet needs time and commitment if it’s going to work. If you can see something through for six weeks, without giving up or taking a day off or making “substitutions”, you’re laying the groundwork to get you through the next six weeks and beyond.
Justin is a personal trainer at Body Structure Medical Fitness in Lexington, Kentucky