Diet and workout fads come and go. When a workout or diet plan becomes popular, it's natural to feel like it's the thing to do.
Popular marketing has taught for years, that if you introduce a product enough times (usually around seven), you move to the top of a persons' mind, and they'll actually begin to consider something that they may have once dismissed. Savvy parents often use this same tactic with their little ones — casually introducing veggies at every meal, but not forcing them, in hopes that the child will eventually try them on their own. Diet and exercise is no different.
While you may easily look past a certain style of eating/exercising at first glance, after another dozen or so “introductions” (via mags/commercials/social media) you may actually find yourself wondering if you should drop your current routine to instead do this “new” one. Although the most successful diets tend to hold to no-nonsense approach (adhering to best practices in nutrition, exercise, and a heavy dose of patience), every once in a while something comes along that promises faster results, and all-out war on those “stubborn-fat” areas.
Whether it's slashing your calories, taking special supplements, doing excessive cardio, intermittent fasting, working out twice a day or cutting a food completely out of your diet, certain approaches tend to gain traction as a surefire way to give you the edge. Understanding the meaning of “edge” is key to understanding if/when you need to employ such an approach. Even though many of the strategies have roots based in science, the media (and admittedly, the fitness industry) does a great job of over-emphasizing marginal gains. The average Jane is often misled by the hype, not understanding, that marginal gain tactics are only beneficial in certain circumstances — such as when you're looking at reaching the finish line and are fast approaching a date/vacation/competition or are an elite exerciser/professional athlete (and only when all other bases are covered).
It's important to understand the timing to employ certain tactics at the right time (for you). Let's take a look at four critical things you MUST understand before diving into the next great diet/exercise hope:
The Tactic Will Fail if Applied too Soon
Certain tricks of the trade are meant to help really attack stubborn-fat areas. But the problem lies in the fact that many of us have a fuzzy vision of what stubborn fat means in the industry.
Isn't all fat stubborn? LOL. Not quite.
Plateau busting, stubborn-fat-loss strategies are typically aimed toward those who are at the vanity weight stage – not someone who is still in the middle of their journey. Vanity weight loss applies to those that are looking to loose the last five pounds, step on a competition stage, do a fitness DVD/photoshoot, etc.. In other words, you have a four pack…but are looking to uncover the last two.
If you employ a workout or diet tactic too soon (before it's the right time for you), it will ultimately fail. The end result won't be what “everyone else's” end result is/was. The tactic may work temporarily, but you will eventually hit a plateau — with no room for making more tweaks. When that happens, the small dent that you may have quickly made in your progress, likely won't be worth how much harder you'll have made your journey.
Because many of these are meant to be temporary, finish line tactics…being no where near the finish line when you apply them simply means you have no other tricks up your sleeve.
The Tactic Is Meant to Give You the Edge After All Avenues are Exhausted
Once all avenues are exhausted, certain tactics can be beneficial, but only after you've put in work. People often lean on stubborn-fat-loss workout/diet plans because they want to go from A-Z without doing all the steps in between. The steps are where the magic happens. Skipping (or rushing) steps because you want results faster, almost always hurts you more than it helps. We often seek the stubborn fat loss tactics in frustration of having “tried everything,” but we must make sure that we are not just tossing those words around lightly. If you've tried everything – for a couple of weeks at a time – then you haven't really tried anything.
True transformation takes time. Attempts to speed through that typically involves lots of wheel spinning and/or speeding up only to land back at square one (or worse!). Make sure that you are giving proven, long-term, sustainable tactics enough time to work before launching into marginal gains territory.
If you haven't conquered the basics, it's not the right time. And don't just try the basics before moving on…nail them.
The Tactic May Be Viewed as a Quick Fix
When considering switching things up, always ask yourself “why?” Sounds simple, but sometimes we must check our mentality to know if we're on the right track. If you find yourself looking for an out or wanting a quick fix, then you're taking the wrong approach. If this isn't your first rodeo, then you already know that it's never been about losing the weight. Keeping the weight off has always been the hardest part. So if you're looking for a way around building the habits that will actually aid in keeping the weight off, check yourself ;)
There are certain habits, and several mental transformations that must occur in order to have sustainable success on this journey. If you're evading them by going after a quick fix instead, reevaluate your why. Are you avoiding dealing with who you are, thinking that losing weight will solve all your problems? (Spoiler alert: it won't)
Try as we might, we'll never be able to separate physiology (or biology) from psychology. Your mind will (and must) make the transition with you – especially if you plan on not only surviving this journey, but actually thriving in LIFE. Ditch the quick fix mentality, and be all in.
The Tactics Avoid The Basics
Eating enough veggies/food/protein/fiber, drinking enough water, lifting weights etc. are all diet and workout basics. When starting a routine, people often want to avoid the beginning, most important parts/steps because they're boring, not fun, or just plain hard. We often associate fat loss with torture, and because of that want to spend the least amount of time to achieve results.
The ability to say no to certain foods or the feeling of hunger makes many people feel like they have control. Unfortunately, this can lead to eating disorders or disordered eating– we categorize foods into things we can and can't have. But when you practice a cutthroat or hardcore tactic for too long, you can eventually create health problems, such as adrenal fatigue. There's always a better way to get where you want to go and get the results and progress you are hoping for.
Consistency in the basics (fundamentals) must come first. If a program/diet/teaching that you're hearing is “new and improved” and promotes a particular pill, shot, or type of workout, with complete disregard to the fundamentals – you're looking at a quick fix. Diet with the end and mind, and leave all the quick fixes, and stubborn fat loss tactics for those that actually need (and get paid for doing) them.