How I lost my last 2 pounds of fat over Christmas.
Many nutrition and diet influencers would like you to believe, that some magical macro split would make a HUGE difference in the results you see in the mirror. To be fair, most of them truly believe, THAT is what makes a difference.
I used to believe that.
Many people in fitness industry want you to believe many things: that a certain workout will help you to lose fat faster and stay fit for life, or that, there’s some magical fat-burning workout. To be fair, they truly believe that. To be fair, there are more and less effective ways to get to the goal you have in mind.
But if you look below the surface of counting macros and calories — what keeps people healthy and fit for life are not macros or certain workouts, not certain foods, at least not directly — it’s the routine, figuring out how to make meaningful changes, that YOU can maintain for life. That can come in many different forms, from eliminating certain foods to constricting your eating window, to certain workouts, that you enjoy doing consistently.
What do I mean by that exactly?
For a while I couldn’t figure out, with all the decades of studies and nutrition coaching experience, why I can’t lose these last couple of pounds of fat, that I wanted to lose — I knew what to do, I knew how to do it, but I just couldn’t! In my case, I simply ate too much for my energy expenditure. All whole foods and healthy and all, but just too damn much of nuts, seeds and avocados, too much olive oil in my salads.
And then I did it. I did it in 3 weeks over Christmas and New Year holiday. The most challenging time for dieting — I did it.
I even enjoyed New Year’s family feast with a good chunk of holiday Red Velvet cake made by my talented cousin.
So, how did I do it? How did I lose my last couple of fat pounds?
I figured out that:
1. I have pretty great control over eating any whole foods except for nuts. So I decided to stop nuts for the time being. Somehow seeds don’t have that “overeating” effect on me. (We call these “overeating” foods “trigger foods” in nutrition coaching world. And contrary to popular belief, those foods don’t have to be processed or high in sugars. A stumbling “ball” on your weight loss journey might very well be an orange. Not that an orange alone will make you fat — but it can trigger overeating of other foods).
2. When I stop eating at 3 PM — it is easier for me to eat less, even though the duration of the eating window might be the same. Compare eating 12PM to 6PM and eating 9AM to 3PM. It is easier for me to stick with my food plan, when eating early, which resulted in losing the last couple of pounds, which were the hardest ones.
I did both of these and it clicked. The rest of the pieces fell into place flawlessly and in 3 weeks I was 2 pounds lighter, having eaten the cake along with all the family celebrations. I felt pretty great about hitting my goal in what might seem to be the most challenging diet time of the year!
I was also able to follow the plan of finishing my eating window with a walk every day, which resulted in my improved sleep, my increased energy levels and overall feeling better.
It was like a cascade of chemical reactions. I figured out, what was the root cause. I addressed it. The rest resolved itself without me doing much.
And that’s how most diet or fitness programs actually work.
And that’s why some diets and fitness programs work better for some people and worse for other people.
To make a permanent change in life — better health, better fitness, better-looking body — we need to make a permanent change to what we do daily. To make a permanent change we need to find, to create, to design a set of routines, that seamlessly fit into our life, helping us to exert our willpower less, automatically doing what supports our goals.
That’s why we start a diet, any diet — we need some rules, that work, helping us to get what we want consistently. Clearly defined rules: like 50g of carbs per day, not eating after 3PM, not eating sugar, not eating grains, eating only once a day (aka OMAD) — clearly defined rules work better than some blurry lines like “eat better” and “move more”.
How exactly do you do that?!
Too many decisions. Too many blurry lines.
How to diet better? With a higher success rate? With more permanent changes?
Clear rules and boundaries!
In the world of unlimited food choices — this IS the only way for most people.
I have rules for most days, and for the days, when I eat cakes.
I eat cakes and sugar in any form only 2 times per year — my birthday and Christmas/New Year week.
I eat only one piece of a chosen dessert and I don’t go for seconds.
The rules have to work for YOU. They have to prevent the things, that make you fail.
For me, eating while watching Netflix doesn’t go well. I overeat every single time. And that’s why I don’t watch Netflix while eating.
Lifting too heavy in the gym makes my appetite go crazy, and so I don’t lift too heavy, because I don’t have a goal of becoming the strongest woman.
Traveling for the whole day, possibly getting cold and fasting at the same time makes me overeat once I get to food, so I don’t fast while traveling the whole day anymore.
These are some of my patterns. I observe them. I fail. I learn. I adjust my behavior to make me fail less.
What are your patterns? If it happened 3 and more times — it’s no coincidence and it’ll happen again, unless you do something to prevent it.
And that’s how you diet better — you figure out what triggers you to fail. You create a rule, that prevents the first event in the chain from happening. It might not be keto, but it might work for your life. Like eating berries every day might not be all that low carb, and some people say fructose is poison, but I’m feeling and looking pretty damn good, and I’m happy — it makes me stick with the rest of the program with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.
What are your patterns? What rules can you make, that will make YOU succeed? That will make you succeed for life?