Contrary to what your friends might tell you, weight loss is pretty simple. To lose weight (burn fat), we create a caloric deficit daily, maintaining that deficit until we reach our goal. Eat less, exercise more, and you can create that deficit. Simple.
Why, then, is it so damn hard to actually lose weight?
As it turns out, the mechanics of weight loss and its reality don’t mesh too easily. It’s often not enough to just eat less and exercise more; we need a vehicle to get us there. Humans respond well to systems: repeating the same steps laid out for us until we complete the task. It carries us through our education system. Systems move any of us through our jobs and careers, following the prescribed orders to reach our destination (paycheck, promotion, retirement, etc.). Hell, I follow a system for writing my blog every time!
Weight loss works best when there’s some system attached to it. We like when someone can say, “Here’s the path to follow” or “Here’s the weight loss vehicle that will get you there.” What makes our weight loss stall is the abundance of choices in vehicles. Walk into any bookstore or google “weight loss” plans to get blasted with 100’s of options to choose from. Picture the biggest multiple choice question you’ve ever seen, then realize that there’s no right answer. If that’s the case, then, how can you pick the right weight loss plan? Here’s how:
1) Pick a vehicle that fits you.
The simple answer: pick the weight loss vehicle that’s shown results and resonates with you. Tweak it, if necessary. I created Baby Steps on the foundation of the Body by Vi 90 Day Challenge from ViSalus, my old MLM company. I picked the Challenge because I liked goal setting and tweaking my lifestyle over time. I wanted to move towards a short-term (90 day) goal instead of focusing solely on the big picture of losing 100 lbs. Short-term goals felt more manageable than doing something indefinitely. I built Baby Steps on the foundation of this early weight loss experience because it resonated with me.
You’ll also want to follow a plan that’s proven itself with others. In scientific experiments, results are considered reliable when others repeat the experiment and get similar results. Did other people have results on this plan? Are those results similar to what you want for yourself? If so, then give the program a shot.
There’s a caveat, though. Just as results should be reliable, they should also be verifiable. This is where you have to do your homework and look beyond the hype. Does this program provide examples of others who’ve followed it: Before/After comparisons, progress pics, written testimonials, etc.? Marketing is great, but trust your gut before you buy. I’ve seen a fellow weight loss coach have her own Before/After pictures stolen by multiple weight loss companies before, just so they can make their product look credible. If you’re considering an individual to guide your weight loss–myself, for example–ask them for proof from their past and current clients. It’s not just a good idea to ask for proof in your weight loss plans: it’s good business, too.
2) Give the weight loss vehicle time to work.
Once you’ve picked your weight loss vehicle, it’s time to start that journey, right? Of course, but there’s more to it than that.
Here’s where a lot of people run into frustration with their weight loss. We’re so used to instant gratification in our daily lives that we forget to give our bodies time to adapt to the weight loss process. Like George Michael says, “You gotta have faith, faith, faith-uh” in the vehicle you chose. Give that fat burning engine time to get going!
My general rule of thumb: give a new weight loss program 90 days to work.This gives you enough time to answer the big question of lifestyle change: “Can I stick with this?” After all, just completing a 90 day commitment to a process proves the answer; this explains why my Baby Steps approach is structured around 90 day goals.This also gives your body plenty of time to adapt to a new lifestyle; contrary to what we want, our bodies won’t transition into a new program as fast as our brains do (Related: I Tried Intermittent Fasting).
Now there’s an exception to this 90 day rule. If your new lifestyle plan leaves you feeling *worse* than you did before it started, go ahead and replace it after 14 days. Weight loss should focus on healthy lifestyle changes, not self-induced torture. That’s why I dropped intermittent fasting after two weeks–I felt chronically hangry! Suffering your way towards a healthier weight isn’t healthy, effective, or realistic. If your weight loss plan makes you feel crappy, then feel free to explore new methods to get where you want to go.
3) The right program looks different for each of us.
This next line is tough for me to write, but it needs to be said:
My own weight loss program is not right for everyone.
I know what you’re thinking: “Brett, how can you talk about how great your Baby Steps program is if you don’t think it’s the best?” That’s not what I’m talking about. I believe that Baby Steps is the best damn thing I’ve ever created, aside from my own health transformation. I also know that what’s best for me isn’t best for everyone.
My partner works on her own weight loss goals. She’s tried my Baby Steps approach before and found that another program serves her more effectively than my own. Her best results come from this app called Noom, and she’s been using it for about a month now. She’s got an accountability coach, calorie tracker, and everything she needs to succeed in her unique way. I think that’s awesome! I cheer her progress every week.
There’s other women I’ve worked with who found their best results with Baby Steps. One client tells me that Baby Steps saved her life by giving her the small steps needed to build healthier habits towards weight loss. Another woman used Baby Steps to lose 14” in 3 months as she began weightlifting in her 50’s. These two found the best vehicle for their weight loss journey, just like my partner did.
In The Big Lebowski, one of my top 3 movies of all time, the Dude makes a comment about keeping his mind limber. That’s exactly what I’m recommending that you do here. Keep your own mind limber when seeking the best weight loss vehicle for your journey. Look for results. Be willing to evaluate your chosen plan on whether it fits your needs, not just the needs of your friends or someone online. Be open to trying new weight loss vehicles until you find the one that works for you. When you land on that program that’s just right for you, whether Baby Steps or otherwise, ride that sucker until the wheels (and the pounds) fall right off.
For more tips on transforming your body one “baby step” at a time, be sure to Follow me on Facebook or Twitter, check out my blog archive, or send me a message to hire me as your trainer.