3 Ways to Survive After Fat Loss
Fat loss is hard. Surviving fat loss is even harder.
The statistics are grim. Most folks that lose weight gain it all back, and then some. Even if you find the willpower and drive to see a diet through when the fat loss is done all hell breaks loose.
Related - What is the Best Workout for Weight Loss?
Let's take a look at some of the statistics that truly prove dieting is an exercise in futility. 
- At any given time, at least 54% of adults will tell you they are currently on a diet. This statistic was from 2010. The number is likely higher as we approach 2020.
- The most popular dieting tactic? Swapping out regular, sugar-filled soft drinks with diet drinks.
- One Australian study revealed that women engaging in extreme diets are 18x more likely to develop eating disorders within the upcoming six months.
- Fad diets are far more likely to be effective if combined with at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise.
- 95% of those that lose weight have relapsed and gained the weight back, or more, within five years.
- 25% of us temporarily give up on our weight loss goals every two weeks.
The issue with a diet is that, well, it's a diet. You really don't need a diet. What you need is a lifestyle change.
Think of all the bad habits you have now. Bringing junk food into the house is a huge source of temptation. Binge eating. Choosing fast food for lunch and dinner several times per week.
Your current lifestyle is to blame for your weight gain. To reverse the weight gain process you need to assess your bad habits and be willing to replace them with better habits.
There is no other way. NO. OTHER. WAY.
No matter how hard you try, you will never sustain long-term progress without setting aside your bad habits.
So with that established, let's fast forward a little bit. You've lost weight, feel better, look better, and are now wondering how to move forward.
What follows is not a comprehensive guide to surviving weight loss, but these three tips will go a long way in preventing the return of weight gain.
How to Survive After Losing Weight
Tip #1 - Keep Your Week Tight
Want to gain fat at a rapid rate? Have no structure and plan to survive the week.
This tip is so incredibly important. If you want to maintain weight once you've dropped the fat you must detail your plan of attack each week.
Know what you're going to eat, and when you're going to eat. Leave no room open for fast food lunches and vending machine raids. Plan, plan, and plan some more.
One "small little excursion" for Chinese food on Monday might not seem like a big deal, but it's not the same as eating your 400-calorie meal-prepped lunch. When you plan you have control. When you fail to plan, you are planning for failure.
We almost always eat too much or stray too far when there is no structure.
A little bit of this here, a little bit of that there. No big deal, right?
I know from experience that it is a very big deal.
With a structure and a plan, you retain control. You know exactly how many calories you are eating for lunch.
Let's say you determine that 500 calories are perfect for your mid-day meal. If you plan, prep, and stick to the structure you'll be fine. But when you fail to plan, you are forcing yourself to find a way to limit lunchtime calories to 500.
Honestly, how many times will you be able to nail this number? Maybe 60% of the time? Maybe 80%? Soon, I suspect, zero percent of the time.
In a matter of weeks, you'll soon forget about your calorie goal. Your only focus will be on filling your stomach and surviving the day. Before you know it you're gaining about two pounds per month but from a little "diet looseness."
Not a big deal, right? After all, it's only two pounds.
Wrong. Two pounds a month equates to nearly 25 pounds per year, or about 100 pounds every four years.
A weekly structure should not be an option.
But what about dinner, you say? You can't possibly eat the same thing for dinner day in, day out. I don't. You don't have to either.
Because I know what I am eating each day, I also have an awareness of "about" how many calories I can have for dinner each night. In case you're wondering, I leave room for about 1,000 nightly calories.
During the week I have three or four go-to options for dinner. You can have 10 or 20 options if you'd like. Whatever makes sense for you and your relationships or family.
Just make sure you plan dinners and know how many calories are in each serving. This process is not exactly rocket science and requires about 10 minutes, so set aside your excuses and know what's about to go into your mouth.
Here's an action plan:
- Step 1 - Plan your daily calorie goal.
- Step 2 - Determine how many calories you will eat for dinner each evening.
- Step 3 - Plan your daily snacks and meals.
- Step 4 - Purchase groceries, prepare your food, and stick to the plan.
- Step 5 - Enjoy not gaining back weight.
Tip #2 - Restrict Abuse
The funny thing about abuse is that over time it stops feeling like abuse; it starts feeling like normal life.
Eating a slice of cheesecake isn't abuse. Eating most of the cheesecake is. Eating a handful of tortilla chips isn't abuse. Eating the entire bag is.
Having a few adult drinks isn't abuse. Drinking to the point where you feel rotten the next day is.
Eating until you are full isn't abuse. Continuing to eat when you are stuffed is.
Remember your old self? I'm sure you do. It was the person that would purchase the largest size of everything. Your old self would also open the largest size and continue to eat until it was gone.
Your old self would almost always go back for seconds. And thirds. Maybe even dessert.
Your old self didn't have a limiting mechanism. Your old self had an unhealthy and abusive relationship with food.
But wait. What exactly does the word abusive really mean?
"the improper use of something."
What is the proper use of food? To provide sustenance; to improve our health, vitality, and energy. When food intake does the opposite our use is abusive.
When food intake slowly destroys your health, leaves you sluggish, and perpetually fatigued its abuse. When food intake drives your weight up, sex drive down, kills your hormones, leaves you with so much visceral fat that you are unable to properly have sex without needing an intermission, or makes your joints feel achy, it's abuse.
Should I continue?
Now that you've lost fat you must avoid all forms of abuse; at least 99% of the time. Hey, every now and then it's OK to live a little. Thanksgiving. Your birthday. When Tess Holliday blocks you for proclaiming that obesity is inherently unhealthy.
Wait, that's probably not a good excuse to abuse yourself with food. Carrying on...
Eat in moderation. Never walk away from a meal feeling so bloated and comatose that the rest of your day is wasted.
When you indulge in something "bad" make sure to use moderation. If you are already full, yet want a bite of dessert, for the love of all things holy just have a single bite.
Just because one spoonful enters your mouth doesn't mean all of them have to. Just because one tortilla chip enters your mouth doesn't mean they all have to.
Just because you see something you want to taste doesn't mean you should eat everything in sight.
Remain reasonable. Practice self-assessment. Understand the difference between rational, reasonable intake and abusive behavior.
Here's an action plan:
- Several "abusive" days per year are fairly normal. An abusive day each week isn't.
- Stop eating when you are full.
- Don't automatically order the largest size of a menu item. Go small and reasonable. Do you really need to supersize everything?
- Just because you want to try the appetizer doesn't mean you should eat the entire appetizer. And the bread. And the salad with croutons, cheese, and dressing. And have four drinks with dinner. And finish your plate.
- You probably don't need seconds. Wait an hour and relax. If you're still hungry have a light snack before bed.
Tip #3 - Move More Than You Want To
Look, lifting is great. It builds those beautiful bicepticons and titanic tricepticons. Resistance training forges mountain-peak traps and boulder shoulders. Or, if you're a woman and simply after "toning," barbells and dumbbells will create that fit and fantastic body you desperately desire.
But resistance training serves only a few purposes, really. It helps build a better-looking body. Lifting helps with health markers and with functional strength, or a better quality of life.
All this is great, but pushing for strength progress isn't really the best way to burn a lot of calories.
You need more movement. In fact, you probably need to move a lot more than you want to. Not only does a substantial amount of endurance training allow you to eat more, minimizing the likelihood that you'll gain weight, but it's also good for longevity. 
Don't set your standards for movement (exercise) too low. Get your heart rate elevated multiple times each week and keep it there. Don't just grind out 20-minute boring cardio sessions, challenge yourself.
Do more. Expect more. Test yourself.
Cardio is boring, for the sane among us, that is. Do more than cardio. In fact, don't think of exercise as cardio. Get off the treadmill and go live.
Hike. Run. Kayak. Rock climb. Bike. Get your butt in the sun. Smell the air and trees.
I understand that you don't have much time. I also understand you're generally lying to yourself. Most of us have the time but exercise is simply not a priority.
The average U.S. consumer watches nearly four hours of TV per day.  You have time, you just don't want to make time.
Imagine being super-fit. Imagine burning so many calories each week that it allows you to scarf down more food and makes it very difficult to gain weight.
Sounds impossible, I know. It's not.
My wife and I spend 10 hours each week trail running. I burn on average over 1,000 extra calories per day. Certainly, you don't have to be crazy like me, but you can do more.
Moving more is motivating. It has a tendency to keep you focused on healthier eating and smarter food choices. Eating becomes more than just about taste; you may find you also focus on "food as fuel."
Here's an action plan:
- Cut down your TV time. You won't die, trust me.
- Get outside and move.
- When you can't get outside, elevate... Walk or run on a slightly-inclined treadmill. Use the Stairmaster. Do something that requires upward movement. You'll burn more calories.
- Move more. Be exceptional, not mediocre.
1) "23 Exceptional Fad Diet Statistics." HRF, 9 Oct. 2014, healthresearchfunding.org/23-exceptional-fad-diet-statistics/.
2) "Longevity & Telomere Length - Endurance Training More Important Than Weights?" Tiger Fitness, 30 Apr. 2019, www.tigerfitness.com/blogs/health/want-to-live-longer-exercise-more.
3) "Television Consumption." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 2 Feb. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_consumption. Accessed 15 May 2019.
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