Jump Start Weight Loss for Long Term Success

You’ve heard it before — slow and steady weight loss sets you up for long-term success. Try a quick fix, and it’s bound to fail.

There may be some truth to this for some people, but I don’t believe it is a hard and fast rule.

Superfast weight loss is, no doubt, a huge motivator for continued success. After all, any behaviors that deliver instant gratification are those that we will associate with progress. In fact, some research suggests that working within a tight deadline can increase motivation over the long term.

That said, extreme, unsustainable behaviors are not the best approach, because they need to be changed up later for maintenance. This conundrum is the basis of classic yo-yo dieting. Sure, you can eat nothing but raw vegetables and run 10 miles for 5 days, melting off 5 pounds in the process, but if you have 20 pounds more to shed, you’re not going to be psyched about 3+months of nothing but salad and sprints. You’re gonna need to change your game plan after those 5 pounds – but to what? This is what often becomes the ultimate recipe for frustration… and ultimately failure.

How about figuring out what you CAN live with forever, and design a quick fix plan around that?

I am a believer in scalability — keep the same basic set of behaviors, and scale up and down as needed. As a specific example, say you recently put on 10 pounds and want to shed the first five quickly and allow the other half to melt off more slowly. Your own successful weight maintenance strategies include working out 4 days a week; small frequent meals; eating a vegetable soup meal every day; drinking a quart of water; and allowing 300 discretionary calories* per day.

But, to burn off those pounds ASAP, you might replace another meal with soup, double your water intake, cut out 200 of those discretionary calories, and knock out another 10 minutes of HIIT at the gym. You stepped up your healthy plan, not created something completely unsustainable.

Obviously, you don’t want to do this extreme version for too long, or starve yourself — your metabolism is your friend, and you don’t want to insult it by giving it nothing to burn! Plus, hunger promotes binging and that’s the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to burn fat.

Go ahead, as long as you’re healthy and being safe, be super strict for a few days and reap the benefits. There’s nothing like the feeling of suddenly looser jeans to keep your weight loss tenacity going. But be smart over the long term, because the ultimate success is lifelong optimal health.

 

* Discretionary calories are the “splurge” calories many choose to indulge in once meeting their diet goals with healthy foods. Discretionary calorie foods are typically refined flour foods, sugary foods, desserts, snack foods, fatty condiments, soda, and alcohol.

by Dina Aronson, MS, RDN

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