As the title of this article implies, there is a big difference between losing body fat and losing body fat for good. Many people manage to lose some body fat here and there with their efforts, but a great many of them quickly gain it back. You see, the long term success of your fat loss efforts will be determined by your ability to not just choose an intelligent diet and exercise plan, but to make permanent lifestyle changes that support staying fit and lean.
Where most people go wrong is in starting a weight loss program with the idea that they just have to tough it out for 12 weeks to reach their goal weight, and they’ll never be overweight again. Many folks have learned the hard way that without lasting changes dietary and exercise habits, any lost weight will find its way back usually in a very short time.
So why do people choose to go on diets rather than change their habits for good? Well, frankly because it seems easier to suffer through a finite period of dieting than it does to commit to being healthy and fit for the long run. For most people, the thought of dieting makes them cringe. They think of the boring food choices they’ll have to make, and of all of the tasty goodies that will no longer be on the menu. Forgoing such foods for more than a few weeks seems like far too horrible a sacrifice, regardless of how desperate they are to get (and stay) in shape.
There is a way to adopt healthy new lifestyle habits without being crushed by the oppressive weight of a permanent diet. There are two basic tenets to the philosophy, the first being a gradual shift toward a healthier way of eating, and the second being the planned cheat meal.
Think of the shift as going from crawling, to standing, to taking a few steps, to walking on your own, and eventually to running. Going from a crawl to a sprint in one step would be disastrous, but progressing gradually, allowing yourself to slowly get used to healthier foods, makes the transition quite a bit less painful. Every couple weeks you could add in new healthy foods, replacing the less healthy options one by one. While this will still take commitment and will power, it won’t be nearly as daunting as going from glutton to health nut overnight.
The Cheat Meal
The cheat meal is what allows healthy people to stay sane, and allows them to still indulge in their favorite junk foods now and then. For my wife and I, Saturday night is our weekly cheat meal. We usually go out for Mexican food, burgers, or whatever else we’re craving. We enjoy a tasty meal of not-so-healthy foods, and then enjoy some frozen yogurt and trail mix for dessert. The meal is thoroughly satisfying, and makes it much easier to deal with food cravings during the week, as we’ll be able to indulge them in just a few days time.
Eating this way is the ideal long term solution to losing weight, keeping it off, and still enjoying your favorite unhealthy foods from time to time.