This could easily be made into an article about being more disciplined. If you just stop being lazy you will lose more weight. However, that’s not where I want to go with this because I don’t actually think it is that easy. Losing weight for one person might be equivalent to making a million dollars for another. The truth is that some just possess more luck. Genes, environment, hormones, and personality all add to the concoction of why it might be easier for some to lose weight compared to others. An entire book can be written on this, but it is not exactly what I want to discuss. I want to give some simple and practical advice as to why I think people are struggling to lose weight and what they can change to do it better. My hope is that my words can be helpful to just about anyone struggling to lose weight.
Much of why I see people struggling to lose weight is because people want to try and change too much. They sort of want a complete lifestyle change. While a complete lifestyle change might be the right thing to do it has to be made in small steps. The human brain really enjoys consistency. If you try to disrupt too much of that consistency it’s going to be very hard to manage all of the variables, and it will be very easy to go right back to what you were doing. You might then take the attitude of “well, I tried but it was just too hard so I might as well go back to what I was doing.” I understand this attitude, but it makes no practical sense at all. This is why when making a new goal to lose weight, it is important to start with one small behavior change at a time. This is something that your brain can manage and doesn’t cause too much chaos in your life where it might be likely that you will resort back to your old ways. Habits that have been formed for years won’t be broken in just a few weeks. Stick to managing one thing at a time. If you’re a huge drinker of pop cutting down to one a day might be the best step forward you can take to losing weight.
Americans don’t have problems losing weight, but a problem of keeping the weight off. I think this is because most undergo a complete lifestyle change and see progress but have not made it manageable in the form of creating good habits and behaviors that are sustainable.
Focus on the 20%
Another reason I see people failing to lose weight is because they are putting their focus on the wrong things. A lot of people want to focus on the diet, or focus on the workout plan, or what everyone else is doing to lose weight. These may seem like good things to focus on, but they are really next steps and not a good starting point. The 80/20 rule (80% of your success or your output comes from 20% of your inputs) would suggest that you need to focus on a few things that will create most of your success. What might that 20% look like when trying to lose weight? Let’s start with getting 7-8 hours of sleep, surrounding yourself with a supportive group of people, hire a mentor/coach, add vegetables to every meal. This isn’t a super flashy lifestyle, but I am willing to bet if every person trying to lose weight did those things, they would see tremendous progress right away. Rather than getting bogged down on which diet (keto, intermittent fasting, Paleo, etc), or training modality (HIIT, weight training, Orange Theory, Crossfit, etc) you want to choose, starting by mastering the basics. Dial-in your 20% and you will be happy to see what your 80% looks like.
Well I might sound like a hypocrite for previously just saying you shouldn’t worry about what type of training modality you choose; you should definitely be lifting weights. Like…. really be lifting weights. One of the best things you can do to improve your body composition is to lift weights. I heard Dr. Layne Norton on a podcast appearance with Joe Rogan saying “if you are arguing about diets but not lifting weights, you are missing the point.” (By the way, that was a really good podcast on all things nutrition and body composition. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u93oh9kC-rU). The reason for him saying this is because a lot of health benefits one seeks can be associated with increasing lean body mass, and lifting weights is the surest way one can increase lean body mass. Increasing lean body mass will help someone improve their body composition just by increasing the ratio of lean muscle mass to fat. If you’re fat stays the same, but you add muscle you have reshaped your body in a way that looks leaner because you have added more muscle. (side note: most of my time working with people who just start weight training I rarely see muscle mass go up and body fat NOT drop). Increasing muscle mass will also make someone burn more calories simply not doing anything. Muscle is very thermogenic, which means it takes more energy from your body to conserve than any other tissue. The more muscle mass that one has the more energy that will be burned at rest. A lot of health issues that people worry about can be associated with being overweight and carrying too much fat. It’s easy to hop on the fear mongering internet train and think you need to cut out all toxins from your environment, but the reality is that’s attributing to about 1% of your overall health problems. Remember our 80/20 rule from above.
I want to address one last point about people, women mostly, thinking they will get too bulky if they start to lift weights. I can understand the worry, but this is fairly far from the truth. The truth is, yes you can get bulky from lifting weights. However, the amount of years of SERIOUS weight training you have to go through to get to that point is very overwhelming. And, you might even have to add a little illegal substance to your diet as well. Unless you start training like a crazy person and eating protein like a crazy person you will probably not have to worry about getting too bulky.
I hope this information was practical enough to help some people out there. If you want to chat more about how I can help my email is Justin@liftlabco.com and I will be happy to help assist you with your goals!