This post is inspired by a client this week!
She felt like her motivation for her current fat loss phase was waning. The longer that you’re in one, the more you look forward to it ending. That’s totally normal! You might be fighting hunger, fatigue and generally not firing on all cylinders like you are when you eat up to your body’s needs.
That’s why a fat loss phase is temporary and voluntary.
set an end date
Always establish an end date for a fat loss phase to better keep you on a path towards where you are going. This could be anywhere between 12-20 weeks from now. In general, the more body fat you have, the longer your deficit could be; the less body fat you have, the shorter it should be.
Setting an end date implies consent for your calorie deficit. In other words, you’re committing to that deficit for a set period of time, not until you reach a certain goal weight, size or look.
remember that fat loss is not an emergency
A calorie deficit phase is always voluntary. There will likely be better times in your year to drop calories into a deficit and times when it’s more or less convenient. Remember, during a deficit, you’re signing up to be a little more diligent and accurate with your tracking. This means busy seasons at work, or months when you have vacations or a lot travel planned might not ideal times to choose to be in a deficit. Instead, choose a period of time where you know you can be more in control of your food and you have the bandwidth to support tracking with more effort.
remove expectations for your fat loss phase
During a calorie deficit is the best time to lead with curiosity about what you can accomplish. Rather than set an expectation that you’ll lose XX pounds, get to XX size or XX percent body fat, consider setting a process goal instead. Process goals sound like,”I commit to deficit calories for 12 weeks and will hit my targets at least 80% of the time” while the alternative, outcome goals sounds like, “I will lose 30 pounds by my son’s wedding.” You are committing to the process of doing something, and remain curious about what the outcome might be. You have control over a process but you don’t have control over an outcome making it much easier to give up or fail your goal.
embrace maitenance phases
One of the best ways to have passion and drive for the entirety of a fat loss phase is to embrace the periods of time where you’re NOT dieting. Eating enough to support your active lifestyle is almost always easier – allows for more flexibility and freedom than a deficit period. And, eating at maintenance supports your hormones and metabolism better so that when you do head into a fat loss phase, things go more smoothly and you’re more likely to achieve the outcome you are expecting.
embrace periods of not tracking
I always say that my goal in teaching clients a macro tracking approach is never for them to be life-long trackers. Instead, I want them to understand how much food is appropriate for them. With this knowledge comes more confidence to eat similar than when you are not tracking. When you are more aware of how much food is right for you, you can more easily eat to your needs when you’re choosing not to track because you have learned some basic nutrition education and have practiced. Taking time off from tracking also helps increase your motivation to be diligent in your tracking when you set out on a calorie deficit.
do it for you, for the right reasons
This should go without saying, but before you sign up for a challenging phase such as a calorie deficit, get really clear that you’re doing it for for reasons you actually care about. It’s not for someone else, or because you think you “have to”.
Diet culture tells us that you should want to pursue weight loss at all costs. It tells us that you shouldn’t stop dieting until you’ve reached your ideal leanness. No other goal is important if you have body fat to lose. This is not true. If you think this way, even subconsciously, and you do eventually achieve our goal weight or size, it’s likely that you still will not be satisfied with the outcome.