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Sustainable Fat Loss and Fitness in the New Year

[Cue Rant]: I’m tired of over-hearing people droning on about super diet X or super diet Y that is 100% going to work for them this year! Yea I think, it may work for the briefest moment of your life but you’ll be back to square one before you know it and scrambling around for the next fad diet! – Get some real healthy habits and live with them!! [End of Rant]

Apologies for the agitation there but I’ve been overweight and although I was still growing up, it wasn’t height that made the fat spread out, it was miles of running and implementing permanent changes to my diet that did it! I do sympathise with those who get excited about these diets that promise the world and deliver nothing. In this post, I want to emphasise habitual fitness and give you enough ideas that you won’t need to be a yo-yo dieter. Instead you will make permanent changes.

“Diets Do Not Work”

Say that to yourself time and time again until you believe it. That way, you wont be at risk of the unrealistic claims beneath the shiny book covers and adverts with that perfect 14 day diet and cover model who did not do the 14 day diet. The list of ‘Fad Diets’ is endless: Acai Berry Diet, Low Fat Diet, Low Carb Diet, South Beach Diet,
Zone Diet, Apple Cider Vinegar Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet…

Studies typically find that only 5% of dieters maintain their new lower weight after finishing a diet. That is a pretty poor return on their investment I’d say. In fact, a UCLA research study has concluded that one thirds to two thirds of dieters regain more weight than what they lost on their diet in the first place! It isn’t really surprising when you think about it in terms of time. Getting overweight takes some time (more than 14 days anyway!) and most diet cycles are typically complete in between 3 days to1 month. It takes a heck of a lot more effort to burn off excess fat than put it on, so why would anyone think that they can get thinner quicker than they can get fatter and if they can do that they its highly likely it isn’t through a sustainable option. It seems that the diet industry will grow as people look for shortcuts but I assure you there are none when it comes to fat loss. So the ‘Rule Free’ bottom line is ban diets!

3 Permanent Healthy Habits To Sustainable Fat Loss


It still amazes me that people still take on so many liquid calories. If you make a glass of water your standard everyday drink then those fruit juices and fizzy drinks should become an exception. I’ve read various articles questioning How much water per day? What type of water? When to drink water? I have come to the conclusion that water is over-complicated too much. The best approach may be to just accept it is essential to life and get it down you. Our bodies are pretty well attuned machines and the symptoms of lack of water show pretty quickly. I know if I get that dry mouth, I have let it go on too long – ideally you don’t even want to reach that stage! I always have water on me. I firmly believe that it is vital to sustainable fat loss and all-round health. The key pointers are:

• Take note of your urine colour – pale straw colour is the benchmark, any darker and you need to drink water usually.

• Drink half a pint of water ten minutes before consuming any large meal to combat over-eating.

• Drink cold water when working out and in general. Ultimately your body burns more calories in warming up the water. This can add up to an extra 70 calories per day (not bad!) Cold drinks help to keep your body temperature down when exercising too.

• If water really does bore you, select from some of the low/zero calorie sports hydration drinks once in a while (e.g. Lucozade Lite)

There is some great advice about drinking water sustainably here (think aluminium bottles!).

Mind Set

Not all of us are born athletes. If I was, then I certainly didn’t know it for the first 14 years of my life! For me, fat loss is more or less dependant on mind set. Our minds are so powerful in dictating our actions that fat loss always starts in the mind -Visualise your new body – This sounds cliched I know but visualisation really can help you reach your goals, not just in fat loss but in all aspects of life. Add memories to visualisation and you get confidence. So for example, if you succeeded in turning down the staff room donuts last week after your workout, after the initial mental struggle usually comes the waves of success. If you take that positive feeling and store it in your memory then come your next hurdle (i.e. junk food temptation or negative thought), you could remind yourself of that positive memory from your memory bank and take the confidence to build your visualisation of your goal.

Eating Realistically

This is the defining point of a ‘fad diet’. It isn’t realistic in terms of what, when, or how much you will eat. I certainly couldn’t sustain cabbage soup for more than…1 day! I can honestly say that my nutrition is ‘Rule Free’.

The bottom line is that I do not eat so well all of the time, just 80% of the time. I’ve written about the importance of the 80/20 balance before and I have not been overweight for over 10 years now. So allow yourself to eat according to your feelings – it is ok to eat processed food now and again just not as a staple food. It is worse to punish yourself or feel guilty everytime you have a chocolate bar. The key thing is to stay within your healthy weight limits. These are different for everybody. I usually go by body fat percentage and like to stay between 8-12% body fat. That is on the low side but I do enjoy endurance sports. Here are a few practical eating habits I use regularly:

• Fill that plate with vegetables. Leafy greens are amazing and can be just as filling as grains!

• Eat when you are hungry. This is an old favourite but again our bodies are well tuned and the best judge of when we need to eat. It is best to wait 10-20 minutes before tucking in for second helpings from the buffet!

• Variety can keep you thin. Food has to excite me and that means change. Healthy nutrition is not boring – it just takes a bit of time to be creative. Some people like breakfast, some people do not – there is no right and wrong for me. If I want to workout on an empty stomach then I will. I eat breakfast (porridge) most days but like to be flexible around my workouts.

Lastly remember…

These are just some suggestions and highlights from my Rule Free approach but I think they are quite fundamental to succeeding in long term, sustainable fat loss and health. It’s fine to identify ‘healthy habits’ but the crucial step is making them stick. Once the excess weight is off, it has to STAY OFF! To do that there has to be no going back to any former bad habits. So the new healthy habits must become entrenched into your everyday life and that takes time. We all fall off the healthy bandwagon now and again – just put it behind you , remember those positive memories and get back on!

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