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7 Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success, Part 2

by Jeremy Likness - Natural Physiques
from Tom Venuto's Fitness Renaissance


Part 1 of Jeremy's 7 Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success is found here.

Key #4: Make it a lifestyle

You’ve heard this one so much you probably don’t even pay attention to it anymore. The idea of a lifestyle change has become a cliché. Sure, we all want to avoid the yo-yo diet plan and make something permanent, but few people really take the effort to learn how.

Are you one of those people dead-set in making a difference, so you strap on your shoes, load your refrigerator with nothing but chicken and broccoli, then put on your blinders and focus 110% for twelve weeks until you reach your goal?

What happens after that?

Most people celebrate. They eat a lot. They take a break from training.

A few weeks later, they are back to square one. Instead of feeling great, they talk about how great it felt. Instead of looking terrific, they tell old stories like grandfathers in rocking chairs, “I remember when I could see my shoes and not my belly when I’d look down at my feet.”

It’s great to have focus and to take on the challenge and really pursue it. But have you stopped to think about what happens after?

Are you training and dieting for a few weeks, or for life?

Let me ask you this … if it’s for life, can you imagine yourself eating the way you are eating from now until you are six feet under with a bouquet of flowers above your head? If not, it’s time to change.

You see, living healthy doesn’t have to be about diets and horrendous workouts. It can be about fun. I still recall the first time I set down the barbell and put on a pair of running shoes. Several people wrote me, horrified at the thought of how my muscles would wilt and wither from the rigors of training for a half marathon. How could I give up the admirable iron game for some lousy 13-mile run through the woods? What was I thinking?

The truth is, I’m beyond the need to compare my self-worth to the depth of my abdominal cuts or the girth of my biceps. I’m in this for life, and that means having fun. While I enjoy grabbing rusty dumbbells and slinging them around as I grunt, groan, and sweat like I’m taking an indoor shower, there’s more to life than weight-lifting. That’s why I like to ski, jog, and do other activities as well. I make it fun. And you know what? I can do fun. I don’t have to always have a workout sheet and a pen to stay in shape. Sometimes all I need is a good pair of shoes, two hours of free time, and the good green earth to make my rounds.

The same is true for nutrition. Live a little. Experiment with healthy recipes. Understand what “better bad choices” and “portion control” means. If I want some cheesecake, I might order a slice and split it with my wife and daughter. You’ll catch me eating a slice of pizza on occasion, and even sipping on a glass of red wine. The key is moderation. I don’t have to count the days until my diet is over because I’m focused on the process, not the end result. Learn to get out of the finish line and into the race. You’ll enjoy it more.

Key #5: Listen to your body

“Jeremy, I can’t finish my cardio workouts because I get dizzy and nauseous when I do them first thing in the morning, but I can’t eat food because they said I have to have an empty stomach to burn fat.”

“Jeremy, I know I need a ton of protein, but I just can’t seem to get it down. I get ill eating so much protein. How will I ever build muscle?”

These questions are common, because instead of listening to their body, many people are giving up their power by following the current trend or diet program. Your body has built-in mechanisms that can teach you a lot about what you are doing and if it is working. A healthy person knows when it is time to eat, because they get hungry. A healthy person also knows whether or not they require protein. These instincts are built in, but the S.A.D. diet (Standard American Diet) is so loaded with processed food that has no counterpart in nature, it’s no wonder the signal is getting lost.

What happens when you are next to a busy intersection with a constant buzz of cars going by? Eventually, you will tune out the noise. It becomes part of the background. If you are standing next to a deserted road, however, the occasional car whizzing by will attract your attention. You’ll be “in tune.”

The typical diet is so loaded with salt that it completely nullifies your sense of taste. When you try to eat something that is low salt or salt-free, it tastes bland and disgusting. You reach immediately for the salt shaker or at least grab a bottle of Mrs. Dash and cover it with herbs and spices.

Try going without added salt for just four weeks. This is an experiment I experienced first hand, as did my wife, and so do many of my clients. The first few weeks are not fun, because everything is so dull. Then, just like a smoker who has stopped sucking on smoke for a few weeks, something amazing happens. Slowly but surely, your taste will return. Suddenly, you become aware of the subtle flavors in vegetables, fruits, grains, meats, and other foods that just tasted like salt and seasoning before. It’s an amazing experience, if you let it happen.

By removing the additives, preservatives, refined sugars, processed grains, and other artificial components of your diet, you can start to sense your needs for protein and carbohydrates as well. I don’t follow the traditional “slab of meat at every meal” bodybuilder diet. I know it’s popular, but I choose to listen to my body.

I’ve force fed pounds of protein and the end result might be a little more muscle mass, but it also leaves me staring at a block of steak wishing I was somewhere else and hoping I never have to taste a bite of meat ever again. That’s not living … it’s dieting, and I’d rather live healthy than diet miserably. So, I stay in tune. If I crave protein, I eat it. If not, I might just have a vegetarian dish. I listen to my body.

If you have the most energy on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, go for it. If you’re one of those who feels dizzy and weak, then listen to your body. Stop worrying about what “they” say about an empty stomach. Instead, get some food, let it digest, and then get to work. Whatever fat-burning benefit you might have from training on empty will be negated by your lack of energy. Add some fuel and then push down on the accelerator and go full throttle. In the end, it’s calories that are king, not whether or not you time the meal before or after your workout.

If you thrive on high protein and lower carbohydrates, that’s great. Personally, I get extremely irritable when I reduce my carbohydrates and get sick of eating protein when I raise my protein intake. So instead of giving up my power to the almighty diet, I listen to my body. I figure it knows what it wants. Of course, the trend is that you have to cut carbohydrates to lean down, so I made certain I lost 35 pounds and cut down to 7% body fat while eating 300 grams of carbohydrates and 90 grams of protein per day to prove that, first, you can lose fat even with carbohydrates in your system, and second, it doesn’t take pounds of meat and tubs of protein powder to maintain a muscular physique. The proof is in the pudding!

Bottom line, get comfortable with you. Stop ignoring your body. Listen to it. If you find that your “splurge meals” are making you sick, think about the message your body is giving you and decide if you are going to continue it week after week, or if it’s time to take off the training wheels and grow up. You don’t have to have pizza every week to enjoy life.

Key #6: Control your rewards

You’ve heard it before.

“Have a free day. Eat cheat meals.”

It sounds exciting, doesn’t it? For several days, you focus on ultimate discipline. You eat perfectly “clean” and don’t deviate from your diet … not even a little bit. But that’s because you have a great motivator … the promise of a day or meal where you can literally go “no-holds barred” and eat anything and everything in sight!

If you start to feel a twinge of guilt about your plans to assault the nearest buffet, you can simply flip to the pages of your favorite book and reassure yourself with the claim that this meal is necessary because it will boost your metabolism. It’s okay. Have it all. Chow away. Stuff yourself. You earned it, and it won’t make a difference, right?

Well … maybe, and then again, maybe not.

Cheat meals, free meals, reward meals, or whatever names you choose serve their purpose. I know that I would not have jumped headfirst into my first physique transformation if I did not know I could dive back into my binge habits once a week. And it worked … for awhile. I stuck to the program and was losing weight.

As time progressed, however, I noticed a few disturbing trends.

Monday to me was simply a countdown to the day I could eat anything I wanted. I was obsessed with it. Sure, I was eating clean throughout the week, but I could barely focus on anything else other than the idea that one day I would be going crazy. When that day came, I would actually plot out a course through the city so I could hit as many fast-food and donut joints as possible. We went to buffets and then hit the store and bought pounds of junk food to bring home and consume before midnight.

I realized that this wasn’t control. It wasn’t even reward. It was addiction. I thought back to when I quit cigarettes. How did I do it? Did I stop smoking six days out of the week, and then have a day where I smoked as much as I possibly could?

My body was giving me a few clues as well. I would feel bloated, disgusting, nauseous, and would often get sick after a free day with a cold or sinus infection. I felt like I spent the first half of the week recovering from the last day and the next half barely holding on to make it to the next splurge festival.

That’s when I decided it was time for things to change. I did not want to remain a slave to food. I could not imagine going on like that for the rest of my life, but this was supposed to be a permanent change, right? So I put my foot down.

I started with only allowing myself one or two reward meals per week. I called them reward meals because cheating is not what I was doing … I planned them, and deserved them. After several weeks of this, I noticed a significant change: I was no longer desperate for those meals, I was enjoying my healthy meals more, and when it was time to have a reward meal, I didn’t “waste” it on junk food or fast food … I’d go to a nice restaurant, sit down, and truly savor it.

Then I began to focus on my portion control. I was still over-eating that one meal, and I would feel like I had a hangover for the rest of the evening. So I made a pact with myself that I would never eat so much that I couldn’t have my other meals that day … in other words, even with a reward meal, I’d control my portion sizes so that I was still ready to eat again after a few hours.

This is when I suddenly found myself in the driver’s seat. The food was no longer in control, I was. I still enjoy pizza, ice cream, and many other treats. But now I control my rewards. I don’t have to go overboard. I don’t have to use one meal as an excuse to jump into a pattern of binge eating for the rest of the weekend. I can decide, ahead of time, what and when I will enjoy my reward, and then eat just enough to satisfy my psychological craving without going overboard. I switched from a free day festival (like smoking a carton of cigarettes) to controlled indulgence (like enjoying a nice cigar).

Here’s some final points to consider …

1. People are 250% more likely to suffer a heart attack after overeating
2. Most of the people I know who successfully lose weight and keep it off control their rewards and do not have a splurge meal
3. Your metabolism takes more than a day of splurging to kick into high gear … you are better off having a planned week of eating more calories, but from healthy foods

Key #7: Consistently refocus goals

This last key is perhaps the most important.

When I was digging through some old documents, I came across my original goals list. This was in 1999 when I began my fitness journey.

My main goal was to reach 40” and I made a little side note, “if possible?”

Imagine that. A 44” in waist and I wasn’t even confident that I could lose four little inches.

After my first 12 weeks, I did not have a 40” waist. I had a 38” waist. I blew past my goal. So my new goal became a 36” waist, which I new was my limit because I was “big-boned.” 36” gave way to 32” and at 6% body fat I was able to slip on a pair of 30” jeans … over a foot (30 centimeters) had been trimmed from my waistline.

Goals can change, and that’s okay. Constantly refocus your goals. You may be capable of more than you imagine or currently allow yourself to be. Some of my goals that I created after learning the power to transform include running a half marathon and starting my own business, both of which I have accomplished and neither of which I would have thought possible in 1999.

To refocus your goals is to learn who you are. Maybe you thought you could lose 40 pounds of fat in three months, only to discover you lost 20. That’s fine. Set a new goal to lose 20 more over the next three months. Maybe you thought you would never bench press more than 100 pounds, but just did 110 last week. Great! Set a new goal to bench press 150 pounds. As you learn your limits (or rather, how to move past them) don’t be afraid to set your goals higher.

Don’t make the mistake, however, of falling into the trap of not having goals. This is what many people do … “When I reach 150 pounds, I’m going into maintenance.” That is an excuse to settle, and settling means going backwards and ultimately falling back into your old patterns. By consistently raising the bar, you are able to remain fit. Fitness is about action and movement, not about complacency and “settling.”

If you want to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, you must realize you are not on a journey to trim fat or increase your running speed. Ultimately, you are in pursuit of greatness.

Conclusion

These points that were created by people just like you have illustrated that permanent weight loss success is a process, not an event. It relates to the people you interact with, the mindset you adopt, and your core beliefs – even how willing you are to transform them. Studying these points is not enough. You must internalize them and take action. Only then can you become the journey to become your best.

About the author:

Jeremy Likness is an internationally-selling author, motivational speaker, and health coach. His unique coaching services have assisted people around the world with losing hundreds of pounds of weight. Jeremy is the author of "Lose Fat, Not Faith: A Transformation Guide" To learn more about Jeremy and his unique form of coaching from the heart, visit: www.naturalphysiques.com/hire or call Jeremy direct at 1-888-472-2829 (770-456-5580).

Author Tom Venuto - Fitness Renaissance

Tom Venuto is a bodybuilder, gym owner, freelance writer, success coach and author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 150 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise. Tom's inspiring and informative articles on bodybuilding, weight loss and motivation are featured regularly on dozens of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" e-book, click here.

The mission of Team Beachbody is to motivate you and to educate you about health, fitness and nutrition and the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
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