Taking An Extreme Approach With Diet & Exercise To Lose Fat Is A Recipe For Disaster. Instead, Use This 10-Step Guide To Moderation And Become The Master Of Your Fat Loss Destiny
Before you start reading this article, be forewarned:
If you are looking for the "Miracle Fat Loss Solution" or new "Scientific Weight Loss Breakthrough," then you won't find it here.
(And trust me, you won't find it anywhere else either...)
Instead, you'll learn why you should be avoiding extreme diet and exercise protocols and how taking a moderate approach to fitness is the optimal way to guarantee short and long-term fat loss success.
How do I know?
I know because I have personally struggled with weight my entire life while attempting to follow extreme weight loss diets...
It wasn't until I took a step back, educated myself on the truth about losing fat and building lean muscle, and became a moderate-minded dieter that I finally achieved my goal:
When I was the guy on the left...I thought that losing fat required hardcore dieting, suffering, and total restriction of what I thought were "unhealthy" foods.
This approach would help me to lose a quick 10-15 pounds in the short-term, but it was ultimately unsustainable, and I'd end up gaining even more weight back...
The guy on the right (me now) approached things differently... I finally recognized that extreme dieting would never be the answer to my long-term struggle with weight.
What's more, I found that the process of losing fat can actually be an enjoyable and rewarding experience if a moderate approach is used.
In this article, you'll learn:
- The Problem With "Diet Extremism" & Unrealistic Expectations
- My Struggle with Diet Extremism and How It Led Me to a Moderate-Minded Fitness Lifestyle
- The Fat Loss Power of Moderation
- 10-Step Guide For Becoming a Successful Moderate-Minded Dieter
The Problem With "Diet Extremism" & Unrealistic Expectations
Let's play a game...
I am going to list three imaginary brands of water, and I want you to tell me which one sounds the most appealing:
- Premium Bottled Tap Water
- Crystalized Rain Water
- Fresh Northern Mountain Springs Purified & Crystallized Rain Water
The reality the is that all three options come from the same rusty water hose in the back of some dude's trailer in the "Northern Mountain Springs" camping grounds.
But without that piece of information and deciding based on the brand name, most people would certainly say that water #3 sounds the most refreshing.
While they are all technically the same water, what makes them different is how they are each marketed.
Every company's advertisement you see – whether it be for food, beauty, decorating, tech, etc. - markets their product as the "greatest and best" of all the rest.
The mainstream Health & Fitness industry works the same way...
There always seems to be a new breakthrough FAD diet positioned as the solution to all of our weight loss woes.
These weight loss "breakthroughs" often call for extreme changes such as eliminating all but 3-4 "fat burning foods," going on magic 7-day kale fasts, or eating sub-1200 calories while using shake weights and an Ab Sculptor to "tone" your arm and belly fat...
They'll make outlandish claims too, such as "Lose 20 Pounds in 14 Days!" or "Get a Slim and Lean Belly with this 7-Day Detox Fast!"
It's hard to ignore something that says it can solve your weight loss problems in the matter of 7-14 days, and so many people fall for these claims even though deep down they know they are too good to be true...
The truth is FAD diets rarely work
And if they do, the results only last a couple of weeks or a month at most.
(It depends on how strong willed you are to stick to the rigid, impractical, and unsustainable protocols that FAD diets require)
This is the core problem with extreme dieting - it provides quick but unstable results.
What's worse is that the quick results from extreme dieting create unsustainable ideas of what weight loss progress should look like.
If someone isn't losing 3-4 pounds a week, ever week, then they assume they must be doing something wrong...
I'm not trying to place myself above those who fall for the silly claims made in the Health & Fitness industry either. For most of my dieting life, I was the poster child of taking extreme and unsustainable measures to lose weight...
My Struggle with Diet Extremism and How It Led Me to a Moderate-Minded Fitness Lifestyle
My first diet started when I was 10 years old. I was in my first year of pee-wee (youth) football with the dream of playing tailback...
The league I was in had a rule where to play tailback, you had to weight no more than 100 lbs.
About two weeks before the official weigh-ins, I was sitting at a husky 110 lbs...
I was determined to play my favorite position, so to lose the weight needed to hit that magic 100 on the scale, I started doing everything I could think of to drop weight as quickly as possible...
I ate Egg Beaters (glorified egg whites) every morning, skipped lunch, barely ate dinner, avoided all junk food, and doubled up on my grandma's Billy Blanks Tae Bo cardio workouts.
(by the way, this dude is still going strong with these workout videos!)
Was my extreme approach sustainable? Of course not...
But I was determined enough to stick with it, and when the fateful weigh-in day arrived two weeks later, I came in at an even "100.00 lbs".
(Though, I did have to strip down to my tighty-whiteys in front of half the team...)
After that, I was so tired of restrictive dieting and ready to go back to my old ways of eating that I ended up developing a host of unhealthy eating habits, and the scale started climbing...
My weight would fluctuate 10-15 lbs depending on my activity level with sports, but it continued trending upward throughout my youth and teenage years until the age of 17 when I topped the scales at 305 lbs (as shown in the photo from the introduction of this article)...
Like most people looking to lose weight, I tried to diet following the standard FAD diet approaches, but I would end up failing 2-3 weeks in...
I assumed I just wasn't trying hard enough, so I kept starting and failing extreme diets while continuing to having little to no success - I'd just hover between 280 and 300 pounds.
But I never gave up, and the more I educated myself about the science behind losing fat and keeping it off, I started to see the word "moderation" pop up more and more...
At the time, I had no idea that I had found the "golden ticket" for losing fat, building lean muscle, and staying lean for the rest of my life!
The Fat Loss Power of Moderation
Many dieters think that the only way to lose weight is by suffering through unpleasant diet protocols and exhausting cardio workouts.
What's worse is that unrealistic marketing claims in the Health & Fitness industry have conditioned them to think that losing less than 2-4 pounds per week means they aren't getting results fast enough and that they're doing something wrong...
Unfortunately, few people last long on extreme diets, and even those who do have some success with losing 10-15 pounds end up burning out and often gain more weight back than what they started with.
Just like I did for years...
But when you use moderation while dieting, this same relapse doesn't happen.
You see, one of the major downsides of extreme dieting is that it overly restricts calories and food choices. So along with feeling stressed out from eating low calories, you're also told to avoid the foods that most of us crave such as cookies, chips, pizza, and ice cream.
When you restrict these foods, you end up wanting them more and more, and unless you're a dieting robot, it's only a matter of time until you reach for the donut or cookie calling your name from the junk food drawer...
Then when you do give in, you assume your diet is ruined. So instead of stopping at one cookie, you end up eating the entire container of Oreo's.
In reality, if you would have practiced moderation and allowed for a few cookies, you wouldn't have done much, if any harm...
You could have satisfied your craving and then jumped back on your regular diet plan to continued making fat loss progress.
This is why moderation is so powerful while dieting
When you allow for moderation in your diet, you can enjoy foods regularly labeled as "evil" without feeling guilty that you'll be ruining your diet.
It works for exercise, too.
Most people don't have the energy, time, or desire to workout 2+ hours a day, seven days a week. But with a bit of planning and strategy, you can maximize your exercise routine with just 3-4 hours of effort per week!
In the remainder of this article, I'm going to show you how you can become a moderate-minded dieter.
That way you can socialize with friends, attend birthday parties, and go on Tinder dates without the fear of gaining weight and undoing weeks and months of hard work.
10-Step Guide For Becoming a Successful Moderate-Minded Dieter
My transition from extreme & restrictive dieting to dieting with moderation wasn't without effort...
I had to spend time developing new moderate eating, exercise, and mindset strategies that eventually lead me to achieve my weight loss success.
So to help you speed up this process and get results as quickly as possible, I grouped up 10 of the most effective steps I took to become a moderate-minded dieter.
All 10 steps are centered around what I like to call the Three Indisputable Truths of Fat Loss, which are:
- Structuring Your Diet to Create a Calorie Deficit
- Using Exercise Strategically to build muscle and lose more fat
- Doing both of these things with consistency
1. Learn How To Track Calories and Macronutrients
Some people look at tracking their food intake as the complete opposite of flexibility and moderation...
I can see where they are coming from, too.
Tracking every last calories and gram of food that goes into your mouth can seem rather "extreme."
But learning how to track your calories and macronutrients is an essential skill to develop if you want to become a successful moderate-minded dieter.
It's like using a GPS...
Say you got a new job located in a place you've never been.
Could you get there without using a GPS?
Probably - but it's going to take a lot longer, and you'll likely end up making multiple wrong turns along the way.
But if you use a GPS, you'll be able to get there on your first try because you can trust the GPS will get you there. Over time, you'll be more familiar with the route, and you won't need to rely as much on using the GPS.
The same is true for tracking your food and calorie intake.
At first, you'll need to dedicate time and effort to be accurate and ensure you're eating the right amount of calories to lose weight consistently.
That'll require keeping a food journal, using a food scale, and being as accurate as possible.
But after you do this for a while (3-6 months), you'll start to learn how many calories are in certain foods and their proper corresponding portion size.
Once you have this experience under your belt, you'll be better able to estimating your calorie intake so that you can enjoy eating out and socializing without sacrificing your fat loss goals.
Here's what to do:
Take time and learn how to properly and accurately track your calories and macronutrients. After doing this for a few months, you'll have developed skills for more accurately estimating portion sizes and managing your total calorie intake.
Want to learn how to set up and accurately track your calories and macronutrients?
2. Eliminate the "Halo Effect" With Food
This is often called a "Food Halo," and it refers to having a belief that a particular food is magically healthier than other foods. (These foods frequently come with labels such as Organic, Natural, Purified, etc.)
Obviously, some foods are more "healthy" than others...
Most of us would agree that an apple is "healthier" than starburst candy. (except maybe the "Berries & Cream" guy)
But the problem with thinking that a particular food is inherently special is that it often results in an overconsumption of that food.
For example, one food that's been marketed as a "magical health food" recently is coconut oil.
There's no dispute that coconut oil is a better choice than something like hydrogenated vegetable oil, but if you're sticking 3 tablespoons worth in your morning coffee, or using buckets of it to cook your food, then you'll end up taking in a ton of extra calories.
As you know, take in too many calories and your weight loss will suffer.
Here's what to do:
Stop labeling foods as good or bad.
Instead, realize that the only thing that distinguishes one food from another is the macronutrient ratio, amount of micronutrients per serving, and caloric density of each food.
3. Follow the Rule of 80/20
When you're dieting, the majority of your food choices should come from whole foods that are high in micronutrients and low in total calories (i.e. fruits, vegetables, lean meat, whole wheat grains, tubers, lentils, rice, etc. )
While eating these foods won't magically lead to weight loss (see previous step), they CAN make dieting easier by providing:
- Micronutrients - which are the vitamins and minerals necessary for proper health, sleep, hormone regulation, and cognition
- Fiber - which aids in proper digestion and "evacuation" (you know, poopy time 😀 )
- Water - Whole foods contain a lot of water, which helps to keep you hydrated.
- Satiety - All three of the above characteristics (micros, fiber, water) helps your body regulate hunger so that you don't feel overly deprived while dieting.
It's clear that the majority of your foods should come from whole food sources, but that doesn't mean eating "non-healthy" foods – such as Twinkies and cookies – is a bad thing.
They just shouldn't make up as large a percentage of your diet.
Here's what to do:
Make at least 80% of your food choices come from nutrient dense whole foods.
That will ensure that you get an adequate amount of micronutrients and fiber to maximize your physical and mental performance as well as keep your belly full.
As long as you are getting enough healthy foods in your diet to get the benefits mentioned above, you can allow for ~20% of your food to come from "fun" foods such as cookies, ice cream, cake, etc.
Note: it's okay to follow this rule on a weekly basis instead of a daily basis. For example, you may have a day where 40-50% of your food choices come from "unhealthy" food and then have days where you eat 100% whole foods.
What matters is hitting that 80/20 rule over the course of the week.
4. Have a Drink
When consumed in moderation, it's entirely possible to drink alcohol and still lose fat. It also makes socializing more fun and reduces stress - both of which can improve your fat loss results.
Here's what to do:
Check out this articleI wrote that outlines exactly how you can drink alcohol and still lose fat.
5. Flex Your Restraint Muscles From Time to Time
This one can be tough, especially if you're an "all or nothing" kind of person like I am...
But delaying gratification through choosing the less tasty but healthier option will keep your restraint muscle strong and will serve as a reminder that you're in control of your food choices.
Here's what to do:
Most of the time you'll want to be eating healthy foods that give your micronutrients, fiber, and help keep you full. (remember, 80%)
As a result, there will be times when you'll have to skip the fried cheese appetizer for a salad or opt for the apple instead of the Oreo.
Moderation comes down to being a "restraint" dieter, not a "restrict" dieter...
6. Use Restraint, Not Restriction
The big difference between restraining and restricting food is how you mentally approach the situation.
People with a restrictive mindset use phrases like "I can't" or "I'm not allowed" when talking about eating a particular food. This is the type of dieting mindset used with approaches such as The Atkins Diet (no carbs allowed) or any elimination diet that completely excludes a particular food choice or category.
This can work in the beginning stages of a diet, but constant restriction often leads to increased cravings for the restricted food.
What's worse is when you give in, you may feel as if you've ruined your diet and end up binging or going overboard...
People with a restraint mindset end up using phrases like "I can, but I don't want to" or "I choose not to" when talking about their food choices.
This second approach creates a much healthier relationship with food because it doesn't create boundaries. Rather, it furthers the idea that you're in complete and total control over what you choose to eat.
Here's what to do:
Instead of approaching your food choices with a restriction, take a "restraint" mindset.
With this mindset, you can eat whatever you want, but you're choosing to eat or not eat foods based on your preferences and goals.
7. Follow the Three "E's" of Exercise
The three E's are:
- E - Effective
- E - Efficient
- E - Enjoyable
Here's what to do:
Your approach to exercise should be effective for your goal (lose fat, build muscle, improve athleticism, etc.), efficient with the time you have, and enjoyable so that you'll stay consistent in the long run.
If you want to maximize your fat loss potential, then I believe the most effective and efficient approach to exercise is resistance train using strength training 3-4 times per week.
Strength training will help you build lean muscle and lose more fat for just 3-4 hours of weekly commitment.
Lifting weights may not be the most enjoyable approach for you, but I've found that people who do it for a couple of weeks end up finding strength training more fun and rewarding that traditional cardio exercise.
Want to Learn the 6 undervalued benefits of lifting weights on a diet?
8. Disassociate With Daily Scale Weight
The body scale is an excellent way to track your progress over the course of a week or month but not as much when measuring daily progress.
Because of things like water retention, muscle gain, stress and hormones, your daily weight on the scale can fluctuate +/- 3 lbs.
For a lot of people, these daily fluctuations can be demoralizing, especially when they're putting so much effort into their diet and exercise plan.
Here's what to do:
Instead of looking at your scale weight progress on a daily basis, disassociate with your daily weigh-ins and instead take a weekly or bi-weekly average.
9. Don't let Mistakes Keep You Down
Here's some tough realities for you...
There are going to be times you end up eating more than you planned for or get in an exercise funk and skip a few workouts...
Eventually, you WILL make mistakes.
What matters is not letting your mistakes perpetuate and effect your long-term progress.
Here's what to do:
Embrace the fact that you will make mistakes from time to time, and instead of letting them negatively effect you, put them behind you and get back to work.
You don't have to be perfect... You just have to be good most of the time.
10. Make Fitness a Lifestyle
"Rome wasn't built in a day..."
"Weight loss isn't a sprint; it's a marathon..."
Although clique, those quotes contain a ton of wisdom.
If you approach losing weight as a temporary discomfort, then you're setting yourself up for years of gaining and losing weight on a vicious dieting cycle.
Here's what to do:
Make fitness a lifestyle.
It may seem like an arduous task, but once you make healthy eating and exercise a daily habit, you'll find that it's a highly rewarding and enjoyable way to live your life!
Become a Moderate-Minded Dieter and Get Lean For Life
I created my free course – Fat Loss Forever – with a moderate-minded dieter approach at the center.
If you've been looking for a way to lose fat, build lean muscle, and most importantly, maintain a lean and fit body for the rest of your life, then this course is exactly what you've been looking for.
To enroll for free, click the button below.
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