We've seen all of those phrases hashtagged all over social media, and it's easy to get caught up in the hype of going all out every workout to chase the results that we want. It proves how much we really want it, right? It's the best and fastest way to get where we're going, right?
Ehhhhh, not quite.
Maybe if you don't mind getting injured, slowing down your metabolism, and getting burned out. But if you're like most people with a busy life full of responsibilities, obligations, jobs, families, friends, and hobbies, then you can't afford to suffer from any of those things.
The goal with anything in health and fitness (and especially fat loss) is not to do as much as possible. It’s to do the minimum necessary to see results, otherwise known as the Minimum Effective Dose.
You wouldn't take more medicine than your doctor prescribed, right? It wouldn't necessarily improve your condition more, and taking more than prescribed could lead to some serious side effects or consequences. Same thing with fat loss.
Exercise is a stressor on the body. In the proper dosage, it's a good one that triggers muscle adaptation and body recomposition. But it can also go bad. The devil is in the dose. There can be a fine line between optimal and too little or too much. And if you add strenuous exercise to an already stressful lifestyle, it can all go sour real quick.
I know women who will throw themselves full-on balls-to-the-wall into their fitness routines and restrictive diets and end up stressed out of their minds, injured, exhausted, and burned out. And no leaner than before. To them, a leisure walk is not a real workout, even though that’s exactly what their overstressed, overworked bodies need. It’s not a real workout unless they're lying in a puddle of sweat at the end and wracked with soreness every day. I know this because I used to be that girl. I loved those bragging rights (even if it was only in my head!).
I know how tempting it is to want to throw everything in the mix to get the fastest results possible. That's the kind of thing we see over and over on TV. Thing is, we need to keep some tools in our fat loss toolbox for when we hit a plateau. If we slash calories and carbs and do a ton of cardio right from the get-go, we have nowhere to go. We can only go so far before our bodies revolt and we suffer some significant consequences — hormonal disruption, slowed metabolism, and more.
At that point, nothing else we do will work. And we’ll spend weeks and months trying to fix the damage (if we get a clue to pull back the reins), or we'll continue to do more and more and eat less and less and do further damage and gain more weight. We’ll get stuck in an endless cycle that leaves us frustrated, angry, disgusted, and defeated.
There’s a reason why the vast majority (some would estimate 90%+) of the contestants on The Biggest Loser gain most (sometimes all and then some) of the weight back. When you start out with 6+ hours of exercise a day and eat only 1200-1500 calories, your body is gonna hate you. Sure, you're gonna lose weight, but sooner or later your body will fight back to prevent what it perceives as starvation. It will be more likely to store fat rather than burn it.
No one can keep up that kind of regiment. And no one could reasonably do more exercise and eat less food than that. And TBL show hides a lot of the injuries that the contestants suffer. When you go from 0 to 60 that quickly your body breaks down. It’s just a fact. It takes quite a bit of time for our bones and soft tissues to grow stronger in comparison to our muscles. And if we don’t give our bodies adequate recovery time, they don’t even get a chance to get stronger. And that leaves us at a huge risk of injury.
You guessed it, the Minimum Effective Dose.
Sustainable = lasting results.
The workout program and diet that got you those results is the one that will keep them. If you go back to doing less and eating more, your results will chip away little by little. That's why sustainability and enjoyment is so important when diving into a routine and diet. Ask yourself, “Can I see myself doing still this in 5 years?” and "Do I truly enjoy this?"
When you choose wisely and take things slow, you not only get results, but you maintain them for the long haul. And that's the point, right? No one wants to work their ass off and be 20 lbs. lighter for just a few weeks. We want to keep that body as long as we can and be as healthy as possible in the process. Slow and steady not only wins this race, it keeps winning races. It's the mutha-effin' champion. #boom