The challenge of losing weight can be formidable. Many of us are overwhelmed by our countless attempts to lose weight without success. Our perceived inability to lose weight puts us on an emotional rollercoaster ride. In addition, we are flooded with conflicting information on the best way to approach weight loss. We often feel like we are spinning our wheels, and find ourselves in the same exact body weeks, months, and even years later.
Before any effort to lose weight is made, it is important to first identify why you want to lose weight. The why will often have influence over your commitment. If your why is strong, then likely you will be very motivated to attack your goal with a “whatever-it-takes” approach. You may hit the ground running with no intention to stop. But, if you run and possibly sprint too long, then you are at risk of burning out and abandoning your efforts.
Here is a typical scenario. Susan is a 39-year-old woman who wants to lose 20 pounds. She has had 3 pregnancies and, after each one, she has retained 6 pounds. For the past 5 years, Susan has tried many different approaches and has lost 15 pounds only to regain all her weight. She feels she couldn’t maintain the lifestyle changes that were required to keep the 15 pounds off without regaining any of it. Susan feels her attempts at weight loss became a full-time job. Susan is now unhappy because she has a strong desire to lose 20 pounds but is intimidated by the idea of starting the weight loss process all over again. Susan has tried a “gradual” weight loss method but this never seemed to work for her.
For some people, gradual weight loss is simple. They do not overthink the process. They are able to tap into their hunger signals and eat mindfully. They are never over-hungry and they are never over-full. They are able to enjoy birthday parties and other social events without worrying about “going off plan.” They are patient and, eventually, they have achieved their weight loss goal with ease - or so it seems.
For others, gradual weight loss feels emotionally exhausting. They want their results as quick as possible. They tend to adopt an “all or none” approach. They feel as though they are working very hard to lose the weight but, when the scale doesn’t budge, they are disappointed. So, they push even harder. If what they are doing now doesn’t seem to be working, they feel more exercise and less food is the answer. When the scale still doesn’t move, they feel even more disappointed and consider abandoning their attempts at weight loss. This is where the sprint-walk approach to weight loss may be effective for some.
There are times in our life when the landscape is perfect. Work feels less stressful, we don’t have any vacations or holidays coming up, and we are motivated to lose weight. It is during these times, we can sprint toward our goal. Sprinting is different for everyone. As an example, sprinting may include working out 5 days a week, tracking macronutrients, and cutting out alcohol, flour, and sugar. This is a lot of work but it can be done when perfect circumstances exist.
Now, enter walking. When our life is crazy and we have 3 weddings to attend, a month vacation to Italy planned, and a few holidays thrown in the mix, walking should be emphasized in the weight loss adventure. Walking is equal to maintaining. When we walk, we don’t gain weight but we don’t put drastic effort into losing weight either. Walking is also different for everyone. Walking is what most people would associate with moderation. Walking can rest your mind and body so you are able to sprint when you are ready.
The sprint-walk weight loss analogy is simply a motivational model to remind us sprinting alone will lead to exhaustion and burnout. Walking is a counter-strategy that can make our sprinting more effective and desirable. If you find your self simply maintaining with your current walking and sprinting plan, then to lose, you have two options. You can sprint longer distances and walk shorter, or you can sprint more often and walk less. The formula is up to you. Above all, we are all in this together. See you at the track.