“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.”
– John C. Maxwell
The solution to fat loss is NOT any sort of short-term diet or exercise program. It is found in your daily habits!
For many of you, this is likely a major shift in your frame of reference away from the mentality of “how can I do __________ 30-day diet and exercise program to drop the fat FAST?” to “how can I systematically incorporate better permanent habits into my life that will reliably lead to fat loss, without suffering.”
Again, sustainability is not just a simple matter of how difficult you consciously feel the strategy to be. This is a matter of biology. To the extent that you’ve adopted strategies for weight loss that lead to compensatory metabolic adaptations–decreased thyroid hormone, slowed metabolic rate, decreased NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, increased hunger, fatigue, etc–these things will slowly alter the calories in, calories out equation in such a way that over time, despite your best efforts to continue restricting your diet and working out, fat loss will come to a screeching halt and you will slowly regain all the fat you lost.
The vast majority of research shows that leanness and good health can be achieved on a huge range of different diets and macronutrient compositions (i.e. high protein or low protein, low fat or high fat, low carb or high carb) as long as one is eating whole foods (real food), has an overall low reward value, and is rich in plant foods. Given that simple fact that no one diet is the absolute best diet in existence, the best diet is the one people can stick to.
Having said that compliance is the key, I want to present a useful way of thinking about the concept of compliance:
On one end of the compliance spectrum, we can see that the easiest diet to maintain is the standard American diet full of processed junk food. On the other end of the spectrum, the diets with the poorest compliance are the ones that ask for the most extreme deviation from that norm–very low fat diets, vegan diets, diets that require avoidance of long lists of forbidden foods, and very low carb (ketogenic) diets. The more extreme, the lower the compliance. This makes the vast majority of diets out there a suboptimal choice for most.
Right now, this is the predicament we find ourselves in:
- We can do what most people in our society do and eat tons of processed food–which is the easiest thing to do and requires the least effort to maintain–but if we do that, we will end up fat and sick as a result.
- Or we can choose to adopt one of the countless extreme fad diets that have been presented as a “solution” to all our problems, and perhaps end up with leanness temporarily, but likely fail to maintain those habits and eventually regain all the fat (as over 95% of people do). While some people do maintain such low-fat, low-carb, or vegan diets for life, most eventually revert back (to either a small or large extent) to their old habits. Again, the more extreme the diet, the lower the compliance.
So what we first need to do is rid ourselves of the idea to any of these extreme fad diets out there (low-fat, low carb, ketogenic) and their long lists of forbidden foods is the “real” path to fat loss and health. Then, in place of these (false) solutions to health and fat loss, we replace those extreme diets with the real science-backed strategies to reliably lead to health and fat loss without adopting an approach that relies on strategies that are fundamentally unsustainable (forced calorie restriction and suffering through hunger pangs, or the removal of major macronutrients and food groups).
What you want to achieve is to be implementing fat loss strategies to the point where first of all, you are actually achieving fat loss, but also simultaneously not feeling like your suffering–you are not constantly battling hunger pangs, cravings, fatigue, etc.
What are those habits? Well, they’re the habits outlined in Factor #3 and Factor #5 of the ebook “Unstuck” which you should’ve already read. (If not, go here to download it: http://www.ariwhitten.com/how-to-get-unstuck/)
Ideally, you want to be doing those habits with as much ease and as little effort and struggle as it takes you to maintain your current habits.
You want to find the optimal balance of establishing new habits that actually do work for fat loss but without the food extremism, carbophobia, fat-o-phobia, animal food phobia, starvation, suffering, deprivation, and struggle.
Every person will fall in a different place on this spectrum in terms of what feel reasonable or possible to them, with some effortlessly following these habits and others thinking that it is just utterly “impossible” to break free of their current obesogenic habits. But ideally, you want to be in that magical zone where you have some degree of habits that are producing fat loss, while doing so without deprivation and in a way that is fully sustainable.
To illustrate what I mean, have a look at this:
This shows you four different quadrants of where you can be in terms of your habits and how much ease (or suffering) you have in maintaining those habits.
To fill this in, it looks like this:
- Upper left quadrant – Most overweight people are in a state of having obesogenic habits, and continuing those habits effortlessly.
- Lower left quadrant – There are also some overweight people who are actively trying to lose weight, but are using misguided or ineffective stragtegies, and thus are needlessly suffering while not getting results. For example, there are some notable low-carb gurus who are still extremely overweight after years of extreme and highly restrictive low carb diets. And when they fail to get results, instead of realizing that the approach is flawed, they often restrict carbohydrates even more. This is because they have fundamentally misunderstood that their body composition is a function of overall caloric balance, not the effects of carbohydrates or insulin. Or perhaps people who buy the “healthy options” at McDonald’s thinking they are doing something healthy and failing to realize that what they are doing is still far from ideal.
- Lower right quadrant – Most people who want to lose fat adopt completely unsustainable practices like low calorie diets, juice fasts, crash diets, fad diets, crazy intense exercise regimens, extremely restrictive vegan, low-fat, vegan diets, calorie counting, other forms of intense restriction and depriving exercise and diet regimens. These require constant fighting against hunger pangs and cravings, overcoming fatigue, dealing with the effects of slowed metabolic rate, and in general, constant willpower to continue to forcibly deprive yourself. This is why 95% of people fail to achieve lasting fat loss–they approach fat loss with a short-term, quick-fix mentality and adopt totally unsustainable practices. This is NOT where you want to be.
- Upper right quadrant – Instead, you want to be in the upper right quadrant with a set of habits that promote fat loss (think the previous 6 factors I have mentioned in this section) and to be able to do those habits with as much effortlessness and ease as you do your current set of habits.
What we DON’T want is a set of habits that either:
- Is so hard for you to actually do that it’s just a matter of time before you give up because of how psychologically arduous it is to maintain that routine.
- Creates so much negative metabolic adaptation (metabolism slowdown, decreased NEAT, muscle destruction, fatigue/lethargy, and hunger pangs) that it biologically impossible for you to maintain that routine.
So we need to achieve this balance of doing enough of the right habits to actually create some fat loss, while not doing things so dramatically different from our current routine that we feel totally deprived, our willpower is constantly strained to the limit, and we eventually give up.
Importantly, this is completely individual-specific. Meaning, every person has a very different threshold of what they feel comfortable or uncomfortable. A set of habits that one person finds to be the easiest thing in the world to maintain, another person may find that the same exact habits require immense willpower and lots of suffering.
So there is no one-size-fits-all routine that everyone can immediately jump into and that they will all perceive it to be the same.
The key is that YOU have to find the place you currently are on that spectrum, and then make progressive, systematic, and 100% baby steps in the right direction.
This is the real secret of lasting weight loss. The magic isn’t found in the magical macronutrient ratio of carbs to fat, or avoidance of one food group, or constant calorie restriction and forced deprivation. The magic is modifying your lifestyle habits to create fat loss with a set of behaviors that are as effortless as your current set of habits–and we do this through modifying the nutritional, movement, and circadian rhythm habits in this program. Slowly building these habits, one baby step at a time, making them automatic and then building on top of that.
Consider it like this:
Each level of habits has a very predictable body composition associated with it. If you have the right habits, you WILL have a lean body.
But if you currently have poor habits, and you try to do too much too fast, it will be unsustainable, and you will eventually revert back to your old habits, and as a result, your old body.
The real secret here is that you need to implement SMALL changes and then make AUTOMATIC through repetition–automaticity research that it takes on average 65 days to make a behavior automatic. (At that point, it actually requires LESS energy/effort to maintain the new habit than to do the old one!). Then once you have that new habit and it becomes effortless and automatic, you built on it.
In this way, you can escape the vicious cycle of Yo-Yo-ing in weight, and very systematically move towards your dream body–and you can do so relatively EFFORTLESSLY.
This isn’t a gimmick or some magic pill, or more promises of some magic “lose a pound a day” weight loss diet that will ultimately leave you FATTER six months after you do it.
I’m talking about the real science of achieving LASTING and PERMANENT fat loss–the RIGHT WAY!
I have created a blueprint for this–exactly how to implement simple and effortless habit shifts that are 100% sustainable–that put you on the path to real lasting fat loss in my program The Forever Fat Loss Formula: 10 New Habits and 21 Days to Permanent Body Transformation.
So if you want the EXACT habits spoon fed to you step-by-step so you know EXACTLY what to do to achieve the body you want and MAINTAIN it, go HERE and grab that program.
Above all else, remember these words of wisdom from obesity research Yoni Freedhoff, M.D.:
“My weight management philosophy has always been rather straightforward – whatever you choose to do to lose your weight, you need to keep doing to keep it off, and therefore choosing a weight loss modality you don’t enjoy is just a recipe for regain. … There is one essential commonality for those who succeed where others fail – if you’re going to keep it off you’ve got to like how you’ve lost it enough to keep doing it.”