In a lot of ways, starting a new “lifestyle change” can be intimidating.

You’re not where you want to be right now, so “the quicker I can get there, the easier it will be to adhere” (because you’re seeing results).  So you dramatically cut calories, start going to the gym for cardio, cut out sweets, cut out alcohol, track your calories: the complete-lifestyle-change package.

It’s hard, but in two weeks you see results.  Then, suddenly: the massive loss you saw at first slows down or stops completely and you’re baffled.

You haven’t increased calories, you haven’t stopped exercising, but you feel hungry constantly and you’re losing barely anything each week.

Before you know it, the sluggish pace yet stressful implementation of your “lifestyle change” weighs (get it?) on you.  After a long stressful day: you crack and eat comfort food.  You then resolve “ok, I cracked, but starting next week I’m going to pick up at full speed.”  Before you know it months have passed and you’re still not happy with the scale.

Sound familiar?

People I’ve counseled on weight loss have expressed this quandary to me, and I’ve experienced it in my own body-recomposition.  It’s as ubiquitous as puberty.

It’s ok, because believe it or not: changing how you have lived your life for years is hard as hell.  

The trick is to pick one healthy change and stick to it until you either enjoy it, or have adjusted to it.

Why, though?  Well:

“You need diet and exercise (cardio) to lose weight” this is a commonly accepted mantra because EVERYONE KNOWS “abs are made in the kitchen” and EVERYONE KNOWS “cardio burns the most calories.”

Does everyone also know that cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is released by:

  1. Dieting
  2. Excessive Cardio
  3. Stress over diet

Cortisol has cross-reactivity with aldosterone which controls water retention.  The higher your cortisol levels the more water you retain, the more water you retain the less weight you’ll lose and in some cases: more weight gain that you’ll see.  Even in deficit.

This doesn’t mean dieting and cardio are incompatible, only that if you’re causing yourself stress by doing them you should dial it back.  As I mentioned in “Big Rocks of Weight Loss“: you can achieve weight loss without exercise.  Although exercise is excellent, and you SHOULD eventually implement it: one thing at a time.

Pick your goal and adjust to just that at first.

If weight loss is your primary drive: getting used to eating less calories, more protein, and more water is enough to start with.  It isn’t easy, at first, to do these three things:

  1. Stay under a specific kcal.
  2. Make sure you get X-grams of protein.  Especially when “X-grams” is more than you’ve ever tried to get before.
  3. Drink at least 3L of water a day.

If better fitness is your goal: focus on just getting to the gym 3-days/week.  Eat hearty, because your body will be demanding more fuel with greater energy expenditure.

Either way, remember: “lifestyle change” takes time, and doesn’t have to happen at once.  Especially if your goal doesn’t need it to.

Thank you for reading.  If you enjoyed this post, I’d appreciate it if you’d like/follow and share.