Article last updated: May 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
I had love handles, chubby cheeks, manboobs and hips that were almost as wide as my shoulders.
Many times I tried to lose weight, but failed to do so.
But, this didn’t stop me.
From February 2011 to November 2012 I lost 60 lbs of fat, and 2 years later I’m still lean.
And most importantly, I stay lean with little effort:
- I don’t follow a diet.
- I don’t rely on cardio to stay lean.
So, why didn’t I see weight loss in the years prior to that? Because, I made a bunch of weight loss mistakes which sabotaged my progress.
In this article, I will list the 5 most important weight loss lessons that I learned through years of trial and error.
1) Focus on total calorie intake instead of the small details
When I started my second weight loss attempt in early 2010, I was obsessed with small details such as:
- Am I getting in enough protein to maintain muscle mass?
- Am I getting enough fiber in my diet?
- Am I eating often enough to “keep my metabolism high”?
- Should I add more fish to my diet?
- How about fruits? Should I eat a few more bananas to get my recommended daily fruit intake?
You see the pattern here?
I was fixated on getting enough food to feel great and be healthy, rather than finding ways to eat less!
This is what happens when you spend all day reading about fitness.
Every magazine will tell you the new wonder food which you need to eat for increased metabolism and improved brain function.
One day you need to buy their protein supplement to get your daily recommended protein intake.
Another day you need to eat more grains to get in enough fiber.
Unfortunately, weight loss doesn’t happen when you add more food to your diet. It happens when you eat less.
Instead of obsessing so much about getting enough nutrients in your diet, you want to focus on eating less overall calories.
2) Stop chasing muscle gains while doing weight loss
Another big problem is that people want everything at the same time.
This person wants to achieve two conflicting goals: weight loss and muscle gains.
When you want weight loss, you need to eat a caloric deficit.
When you want to gain muscle, you need to eat a caloric surplus.
I used to be in the same boat too. I tried to achieve weight loss while chasing muscle gains, and this resulted in me achieving none of them.
If I had focused on one goal, I would at least see progress in one area, instead of having no progress at all.
Therefore, pick ONE goal at a time, and focus on that. Keep it simple.
3) Cardio cannot make up for a high calorie diet
Have you seen that guy or girl at the gym who is ALWAYS doing cardio, yet looks the same month after month?
I’ve been that guy.
I ‘ve previously done cardio 3 times a week for 45 minutes, without experiencing noticeable weight loss.
The reason is that I believed that doing cardio allowed me to eat more.
So, after each cardio session I would go home and eat a bunch of food.
However, this is a huge mistake, because it’s limited how many calories you can burn in 45 minutes of cardio.
To give you an example, most people can burn about 450-700 calories in 45 minutes of cardio depending on the intensity.
450-700 calories is less than what I eat in each meal! In other words, I could just skip a meal on the days I did cardio, instead of doing the cardio.
Now, I’m not saying that cardio is useless. It’s great for your health and can be beneficial for weight loss, but I want you to know that diet is much more important.
My advice is that you focus all your effort on diet first, and lose as much fat as possible through diet alone.
4) Short-cuts get you nowhere
“I want 6 pack abs in 8 weeks.”
“I want a defined chest in 4 weeks.”
I want to look like a fitness model too, preferably today, but that doesn’t mean I will get to look like a fitness model today.
If you look for short-cuts, you will never succeed in fitness and now I’ll tell you why.
If short-cuts actually worked, there wouldn’t be so many people on the internet who struggled with weight loss.
It’s human nature to look for the easiest way out, but you have to fight that nature and do the hard work.
I’ve been training for close to 5 years and helped a lot of people with their weight loss.
All the people who succeeded had one thing in common: they put in the TIME.
They exercised several times a week for years. They ate good, quality foods most of the time.
They didn’t look for a secret diet that doesn’t exist.
5) Sustainable weight loss is better than rapid weight loss
75-90% of people who lose weight, regain all of it within 2 years. (Source: ISSA personal training course book).
I believe the main reason is RAPID WEIGHT LOSS.
There are people out there who have tremendous will power and discipline to achieve weight loss..
They will do cardio everyday for 1 hour, and starve themselves because they think that more is better.
In just a few months, they lose a huge amount weight, yet they don’t set themselves up for success and now I’ll explain why:
- When you lose weight quickly, some of that weight is muscle, some of it is water from the reduced carb intake and some of it is actual fat.
- When you lose weight quickly, your skin may not have time to adjust, so you end up with a lot of loose skin hanging around your waist and possibly chest.
- To lose weight quickly, you have to starve yourself a lot of the time and possibly do a lot of cardio.
In other words, once you’ve lost that weight, you will look under muscled and be soft all over. You’ll just be a smaller version of their former self, but not necessarily a better looking one.
Furthermore, you will have huge cravings for food from the excess dieting and cardio, so you will end up regaining all the weight in no time by eating like you used to when you were fat.
The biggest lesson here is that you want to do sustainable weight loss instead of rapid weight loss.
To make weight loss sustainable, you want to implement habits that you can keep forever once you’ve lost that weight.
When I lost 60 lbs, I lost about 4 lbs a month!
4 lbs may not be a lot, but in the long term it adds up. And most importantly, I currently have no trouble maintaining a lean body after losing that weight.
The reason is that to lose 4 lbs a month I didn’t need to implement any extreme habits, because I was in no hurry to lose weight.
By taking it slow, I was able to transform my lifestyle in a sustainable way, and thereby lose my weight once, and never regain it again!
That’s all I had for now. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and sign up for the free newsletter to stay updated.
Be proud but stay hungry,
– Oskar Faarkrog
Other Articles You May Like:
- Optimal Protein Intake: You’re Probably Eating More Than You Need
- The Price You Pay To Get A 6-Pack If You’re Skinny-Fat
- Defining Aesthetics: What Exactly Is The Perfect Physique?
- 7 Fat Loss Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- 50 Years Of Pull Ups: A Story About Mike Joplin
(For online personal training including coaching, customized training routines and diet plans go to my personal website OskarFaarkrog.com)