by Tom Venuto Iron Magazine
If you lose weight quickly in the first week or two of your fat loss program, you’re more likely to gain it back later, right? That’s a common belief, and in some cases, it’s true. But what if you could burn fat fast in the first week, achieve a large fat loss in the 3 or 4 weeks, and that actually HELPED you keep the fat off over the long term? Guess what? You can… and it does! It’s all about knowing the difference between quick start and quick fix and knowing about the mistakes you must avoid if you want to start strong – safely and sustainably.
Scientists have studied not only potential and realistic rates of weight loss, but also the relationship between the rate of initial weight loss and long term maintenance.
One study published in the journal Obesity Reviews suggested that greater initial weight loss in the first 2 to 4 weeks is associated with BETTER long term maintenance.
That may be a shocker to someone who subscribes to the philosophy, “slow and steady always wins the race.”
But if you think about the benefits of starting strong from the psychological and behavioral perspective, it shouldn’t be.
Initial success breeds enthusiasm and motivation, which breeds more motivation and more success, which eventually creates a positive, self-reinforcing cycle.
It would be great if everyone were more persevering when results were not forthcoming, but the way most people’s brains are wired, it’s a rare individual who doesn’t get discouraged by a slow start, distraught with a slow week and completely unhinged when they hit a plateau.
Any of the above can cause the average person to drop out early or relapse later. Getting off to a quick start is important for your morale.
But didn’t the “slow and steady” tortoise beat the hare?
Yes, sometimes the tortoise does win. For example, when the hare sprints too hard out of the gate and either gasses out or rests on his complacent laurels later, while the tortoise keeps chugging along. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t such a thing as going TOO slow. What slow and steady really means is be consistent and persistent over time. It doesn’t mean be timid or tentative out of the starting gate or go so slow that you lose all your motivation.
One common diet and fitness philosophy says that you shouldn’t start out full blast or play all your cards in the first round. You should always leave an “ace in the hole” so you have some way to break a plateau later on if it occurs. Differently stated, you should leave room for progression. No doubt, this is a smart strategy, but it’s not mutually exclusive with starting strong. It simply means don’t go to extremes that could lead to burnout or dropout.
Long term fat loss research shows that if you get off to a quick start and you do it the right way, you are more likely to maintain your results. If you do it the wrong way – by resorting to quick fixes – you may get results, but you’re less likely to maintain them. Swallow the “quick fix pill” and you might win the battle, but you won’t win the war.
What’s a quick fix?
According to weight loss researchers, a quick fix could be anything that doesn’t include an educational element or carry-over effect that gives you a benefit over the long term.
It’s anything that doesn’t encourage physical activity into the maintenance phase, as a lifestyle.
It’s anything that doesn’t include support and positive reinforcement.
It’s anything that doesn’t allow for continuous re-adjustment of changing calorie needs.
It’s anything that doesn’t address behavior change strategies.
And of course, it’s anything with extreme restriction of calories.
Drugs, diet pills, surgery, liquid diets, and all kinds of extreme low calorie or starvation diets. They may all produce short term results, but they’re all quick fixes.
How to get a quick start without a quick fix
I’ve given the subject of starting strong a lot of thought since I’ve been sponsoring body transformation contests that last only 49 days. The results of our transformation challenges so far prove that with the right program and the right motivation, you can make dramatic changes to your body quickly, but there’s no time to waste with a 7 week deadline. I can tell you without a doubt that getting off to a strong start is one of the keys to a great body transformation.
To start strong, there are certain things you should do, and certain things you shouldn’t do. Below, I share with you 5 things you should avoid if you want to start strong.
At the end of this post, I’m going to open it up and invite you to share your thoughts on what you think are the best things you SHOULD do to get off to a quick start without a quick fix. By leaving a comment, you’ll be automatically entered in our Burn the Fat Challenge free prize giveaway! (details below).
To Start Strong, Avoid These 5 Mistakes
1. Avoid all or none thinking. At the beginning, all or none thinking manifests itself in thoughts such as “If I can’t follow the program 100%, I might as well not even start… I should wait until I can “Do it right’” Once you’ve started, all or none thinking manifests itself as such erroneous thoughts as, “I messed up this meal, so my whole day is ruined” (or worse yet, “my whole week, or “the entire program”). All or nothing thinking, in all its forms, is the great saboteur of diet and exercise programs.
2. Procrastination. You might think the time is not right. After all it’s the holidays. You’re busy. You have parties to attend, food to eat, places to go, and you want to enjoy yourself. You think the conditions will be better in January. That’s the season for resolutions anyway, right? Wrong. The best time to start pursuing anything you want is now. The worst part of procrastination is that it can become a habit, just like any other behavior. It takes about 3 weeks to begin forming a habit, so if you wait until January, by then you’ll have developed a stronger procrastination habit and it will be harder to start, not easier. Develop the start NOW habit. Be a do it NOW person.
3. Perfectionism. Perfectionism is a specific and insidious type of all or nothing thinking. It’s understandable that you want to do everything right. But when you consider the power of the 80-20 rule, you know that just getting the few important fundamentals (the 20%) in place is enough to get the majority of your results. The rest is details and you can fine tune them later. You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it started..
4. Over-planning. Minutes spent in planning can save you hours in execution. Planning is crucial. However knowing the importance of planning, you may start reading, studying, collecting information and organizing the data into a comprehensive plan. The common problem is when you get stuck in this phase. Planning is a virtue. Over planning is a vice. And if you really think about it, it’s merely another form of procrastination or perfectionism in disguise.
5. Unrealistic deadlines. Scientists have confirmed that what works for one person may not work for the next. The ideal calorie deficit may vary. The ideal speed of weight loss may vary. What IS important for everyone is to set goals, to assign a deadline to each goal and to break them down into smaller, more easily achievable (bite-sized) chunks. Know thyself. These little goals and deadlines must be easily attainable FOR YOU. Once you have them, always keep your goals and deadlines in front of you.