Ask five people what the perfect weight loss plan is, and you’ll likely get 5 different answers.
But each person will be adamant that theirs is correct. Even “experts” are continually debating the most beneficial modes of exercise, the most successful exercise programming, or the healthiest eating plan. Scanning the internet, you can come to the unyielding conclusion that Cardio is King (or a slow killer), grains are the cause of all diseases (or the only way to escape a heart attack), eating 12 times a day is the key to fat loss (or destroys your natural hormone patterns), and CrossFit is the answer to obesity (or the single worst decision you could ever make). To make things worse, everyone has research, sources, and studies they can cite—and do frequently.
In a world saturated with opinions presented as facts, it can be mentally overwhelming to try and wade through the plethora of advice.
Lucky for you, I’m here to straighten things out and give you the world’s best weight loss plan. And even better, it can be summed up in one line: Do whatever you enjoy. Or, for those with a more mordant mindset: Do whatever doesn’t make you miserable.
For those of us who desire to lose weight and keep it off, weight loss/maintenance needs to become a lifelong effort.
But many times, we view it as a short-term push to shed the weight so we can go back to eating and living “normally.” This intense, short-term plan is often characterized by extreme behaviors, deprivation, and “white-knuckling.” We concoct the perfect plan; we meal prep and strength train, avoid all sugar and run daily. Then we track every morsel we put in our mouths. We take the back roads to work so we don’t have to see the Dunkin’ Donuts sign on our way in. We push through because we give ourselves a deadline—whether it’s an event, goal weight, or a random date in time.
Once we reach that point however, we are so exhausted that we throw ourselves back into our old habits looking for pure relief.
And those old habits eventually lead us back to our old bodies. Shift your mindset to finding a lifestyle that works for you, for choices that you can stick with. Here’s a not-so-secret about human beings: if something makes us miserable, we won’t continue for very long.
Enjoyment is important because it leads to the Holy Grail of healthy living: Consistency.
Find a person you know who seems like they have the healthy-living-thing down pat, and ask them “what’s your secret?” My bet is they won’t tell you about the perfectly balanced salad they ate last week, the month-long cleanse they went on last year, or even the 5K race they trained for and completed.
More than likely, they’ll talk about the day-after-day, month-after-month, and even year-after-year decisions.
The choices may seem inconsequential and boring to an observer, but are ones that gradually build upon each other until a life of health is created. It’s choosing an apple over a Snickers bar, going for a walk after dinner instead of immediately crashing in front of the television, or packing lunch instead of relying on fast food.
The good choices you make are only powerful when they are made consistently.
But consistency is often killed by our quest for perfection. You declare to yourself that you will never eat sugar again, to make it to the gym every day, or to subsist on eating chicken and broccoli. And when you “slip up” by eating a piece of candy from our co-workers desk, or take a nap one day instead of going to the gym you berate yourself. You feel defeated and weak-willed and say “what’s the point?” That piece of candy turns into 10, and the one day of rest turns into a week of no exercise. Consistency goes out the door, all because perfection wasn’t attained.
The “All or Nothing” mindset almost always leads to binges, giving up, and feelings of failure.
Sacrifice a little bit of perfection, and perhaps you can increase your consistency. Build a lifestyle around healthy habits that you actually don’t mind doing, instead of basing it on everything you should be doing. In doing so, you will find that you will make those good decisions more often than not.
Even if the “perfect” exercise or nutrition plan was created for you, if you don’t follow it, it’s ineffective.
So find something you can follow. Don’t like running? Don’t run. Love to play soccer? Find an adult futsol league. Hate kale? Don’t eat it. And for goodness sake, if you think all vegetables are gross, stop steaming or boiling them. Try roasting them in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper (I swear that rocks would taste delicious prepared that way).
Aristotle stated “we are what we repeatedly do. Therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
Achieving health is just the accumulation of healthy habits. And who wants to create a lifetime of habits that you don’t enjoy? So instead of driving yourself mad trying to find the “ideal plan,” spend your time finding the ideal plan for you.
Be willing to trade perfection for consistency, and create a lifestyle that is both nourishing to your body and your soul.