If you’ve read my previous articles or follow my posts on social media you probably know that I’m all about maintaining long-term results in a sustainable, low-stress way. That is; you aren’t stopping life to eat every three hours, you aren’t avoiding social events to stick to a restrictive plan, and you aren’t feeling like death just to look a certain way.
The thing is though, results need to be achieved in the process before maintenance can be considered. Sustainability is the ability to continue a defined behaviour indefinitely. It might be tracking your nutritional intake. It might be completing five training sessions per week. It might be prioritizing life balance to ensure you don’t burn out.
However, this “sustainable behaviour” needs to be effective to yield a positive result. The finer detail of your nutritional intake needs to be considered. The specifics of your training program need to be progressive and sometimes, the comfort of sustainability needs to take a back seat to increase effectiveness.
If you’re in a position where you aren’t happy with your current level of body fat it is going to require you to make some changes. A typical approach would be to say “I’m cutting out all carbs” or these days, “I’m going to buy that new quick fix diet plan on Instagram”. Doing either of these is what I would consider going to extremes and setting yourself up for long-term failure with no consideration of the bigger picture.
So when I talk about sustainable results what I’m suggesting is creating structure that you feel you could stick to with little resistance. The ability to utilise specific principles for six months and beyond rather than six weeks, and still make small progressive improvements in the process.
Now if you’re considering quick fixes or are frustrated with getting no where after months or years of trying everything, creating structure that is effective is the biggest priority. Sustainability is still an important factor and should be considered however more of an emphasis on this can come later.
When it comes to fat loss we know that results aren’t linear. You can’t expect to see continued results on a daily or weekly basis without having to make some adjustments to your nutrition or training in the process.
So if you’ve tried everything it might be time to realise that an effort to retain comfort could be holding you back. Dieting for fat loss is never an easy task and there is almost always a time where you have to put the cute sustainable lifestyle on hold and do the hard yards to see improvements.
Creating a large caloric deficit, utilising short rapid fat loss phases, or protocols like modified alternate day fasting are not designed to be sustainable by any means, but you can bet your life they work and can be utilised in an effort to make obvious progress with the end goal of leaning more towards sustainable methods to maintain the results later.
If you are still striving for the results you’ve never achieved you may need to find balance between being comfortable and being aggressive, with an effort of making effective progress a priority at times, and the clarity that sustainable and maintainable results are the end-goal.
Sustainable doesn’t always mean effective and effective doesn’t always mean sustainable. Keep the goal the goal and be honest with where you are now and where you’d ultimately like to be.
Diet smart, be informed, and be willing to get uncomfortable in the process.