Most people would agree that our body would rebel if we asked it to go from an 8 minute mile run one day to a 6 minute mile run the next, yet in our fervor to diet down to the perfect weight we ask our brains to do the same thing by drastically changing our lifestyle habits in one day. Consider that our brains, like our bodies, will break down under similar demands.
Consider for a moment the above statement. Now consider for a moment why most attempts at dieting fail. A main reason diets fail is that our minds weaken before our bodies weaken in an attempt to diet down to the perfect weight in a small span of time. Ironically, we consider ourselves undisciplined and weak minded if we cannot adhere to a specific diet, but yet we would never expect ourselves to make such leaps in physical ability unless we were trained appropriately.
Top Trainers use what is called the overload principle. The overload principle is a method of training physically that asks our muscles to go slightly above and beyond what they are used to. For example, you may be able to comfortably do 20 squats, but 25 squats is a challenge. By asking our muscles to get out of their comfort zone incrementally, we have applied the principle of overload and thereby encouraged the strength and growth of those muscle fibers.
If you would, go back for one moment and focus on this key word incrementally. As you will see in the next few paragraphs, incremental changes, when applied to muscle strength is a key factor in gaining consistent strength without risking muscle injury. More importantly, however, in terms of weight loss, let's look at how this incremental progressive overload principle can be applied to consistent and optimal weight loss.
1. Focus first on the behaviors that can cause weight loss. Such examples might include eating fish two times per week rather than the usual one time per week, eating four desserts a week rather than the usual five, exercising 30 minutes three days a week instead of the usual two days per week. All of these changes you can see are focused on the behaviors that cause weight loss.
2. Think like an athlete. Tennis players and golfers are told to focus on the ball. What does this have to do with dieting? Absolutely everything. You see, their coaches know that the person who wins is the one who focuses on the behaviors that produce the results. If these athletes focused on the desired outcome only, in this case winning, they would lose the focus of the behavior that creates the results. In other words, you can think about winning but unless you construct the behaviors that produce the results, you will not win. Have patience like a good athlete.
3. When your behavioral changes have become easy, go ahead and make another behavior change or increase the difficulty of the current one. For example, if you choose to eat four vegetables per day and after three weeks it is now an easy task for you to implement, then either create another behavior change that will ultimately result in weight loss or increase your current vegetable intake to five vegetables per day. Keep in mind that at first most behavior changes are difficult, but like the weight trainer that increases his reps or his weight amount when things get easy, you must also do the same for continual weight loss progress. Know that it is through this incremental adaption technique that the habits you obtain become easier. And just as a side note, I ask you to think about the significance of lifestyle habits becoming easier and how it can impact not only weight loss but weight maintenance.
4. Have a mindset that using your brainpower to lose weight is a more intelligent way of obtaining an optimal weight that makes you feel and function at your best even while you are in the process of change. Unlike many quick fix diets that tend to erode a person's sense of self discipline, this overload principle of the mind with it's emphasis on incremental behavior adaptions is what all the traditional diet advertisers do not want you to know.
In the end, as others may go back and forth through various available diets, your consistency, creativity and ability to adapt yourself through incremental behavior changes is ultimately a more sophisticated and long lasting way to achieve optimal weight loss.
It is my hope that you can begin to see the significance of mindful incremental behavior strategies as the most viable way of achieving optimal weight loss. In upcoming articles look for how you can use this approach not just for obtaining a desired weight, but for obtaining a desired healthy best life.