Weight loss for dummies: How long it really takes to lose weight

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One thing we get asked a lot is “How long will it take to lose weight?”

You see, a lot of people come to us after having tried countless diets that promised them great weight loss in minimal time. Of course, none of them worked, and only left our clients in worse shape than they were when they started them. So, they’re keen to know how long it will take for them to get a result on our DATSTM Program.

Unfortunately, the short answer is that it depends on your personal situation.

The long answer is one we’re going to answer by using an analogy.

The time it takes to lose weight depends on many factors

Imagine driving from Melbourne to Sydney. For some perspective, the distance is 878 kilometres (546 miles). Assuming you stick to the speed limit of 100km (62.137 miles)/hour and allow time for breaks, the drive should take an average of 10 hours. However, not everyone does it in 10 hours. Some take more time while a few may take less. Either way, the time it takes to get to Sydney depends upon many factors — just like weight loss.

So buckle up (pun intended) and get ready to learn about the factors that influence how long it will take you to lose weight.

Do you have a road map?

(Do you have a personalised action plan?)

If you want to get from Melbourne to Sydney, you’re going to need a road map or GPS, right? No one gets into their car and simply guesses which way to go. Yet this is what often happens with weight loss. Too many people follow fad diets and quick fixes that don’t work, or mix and match bits from one diet with bits from another, or even guess what might work for them, based on what has worked for someone else.

If you want to get weight loss results, you need an action plan that is designed just for you. This plan takes into account what you’ve done before, what your goals are, what you struggle with, whether you have injuries or illnesses, what you currently eat, and what you’re currently doing. At Imani Tribe, every client has a personalised action plan with the precise actions steps they need to take to progress with their weight loss. You can read more about the importance of a plan in our blog Why a weight loss goal is bullshit without a weight loss system.

Do you follow the road map?

(Do you have structure and accountability?)

It’s one thing to have a road map but do you follow it, or do you drive wherever you feel like driving? Even if you have a personalised weight loss program, if you don’t have structure and accountability as part of your plan, you’ll end up doing what you want to do, instead of doing what you need to do to lose weight which means weight loss will take longer. Structure and accountability help ensure consistency in your actions and with consistency, you’ll increase your awareness about the habits and mindset that are causing you to self-sabotage your weight loss. Unless you’re aware of why you continue to self-sabotage, you’ll never have the power to change them. We explain this in our blog Nothing changes if nothing changes: How to lose weight for good.

Do you continue to check the road map?

(Do you track what you’re doing?)

On your way to Sydney, are you ticking off the milestones along your route to make sure you’re still going in the right direction, or do you wait until you are completely lost to assess where you are? Unless you’re checking off your milestones and keeping an eye on what you’re doing, there’s every chance you’ll end up taking a wrong turn and going in the wrong direction. Weight loss is just the same. For you to know what is and isn’t working, you need to track what you’re doing. We call this collecting data and you can read more about this in our blog Lose weight fast: The secret code to weight loss

Lack of data is why so many people struggle to lose weight. Without data, you’ll never know what works for you and how to progress to the next level. This explains why some people get results and then plateau or go backwards. When you don’t have data, you don’t know where you’ve gone wrong and therefore don’t have the power to change things. When you get things right, you don’t know what they are so you don’t know what to keep doing.

How old is your car?

(How old are you?)

Chances are it’s going to take you longer to get to Sydney if you’re driving a car that’s 30 years old, compared to driving one that is 2 years old. The same goes for weight loss. The older you are, the slower your metabolism is likely to be because our metabolism naturally slows as we age. This explains why teenagers can seem to get away with eating junk food all the time, while adults can’t. There are ways that you can increase your metabolism and you can read about them in our blog What is metabolism and how can you increase it. However, if you have a sluggish metabolism weight loss is likely to be harder and slower, until you improve it.

What condition is your car in?

(What is your overall health like?)

Are you driving a bomb to Sydney or a well-oiled, high-performing machine? It’s safe to say that if your car isn’t in great condition and has problems with the engine or you’re driving on tyres that are less than ideal, it’s probably going to take you longer than 10 hours to reach Sydney. The same situation applies to weight loss. If you have injuries, mobility problems, ongoing pain or chronic illnesses, you probably won’t be able to train like someone who doesn’t have these issues. Your initial goals may be to learn to move better, or be in less pain or even sleep better for you to get the most out of your training. If your training or even ability to go for regular walks is compromised, this can impact how long it will take to lose weight.

What kind of fuel are you using?

(What do you eat?)

Are you using high-performance fuel or the cheapest you can get away with? Using the wrong fuel in your car can affect how well your vehicle performs. The same goes for your body. For your body to function at optimal levels, you need to eat food that nourishes your body, helps boost your metabolism, helps burn fat, strengthens your immune system, and keeps your body functioning properly. Eating well also helps you recover from your training sessions effectively, so you can be consistent with your training.

Unfortunately, most people who are trying to lose weight don’t eat enough food. They focus on creating a calorie deficit in the hope that this will help them lose weight. Not only does this compromise your energy levels and how well your body functions, but it is a fast-track to weight gain as it leads to binge eating and emotional eating. You can read more about that in our blog Why calorie deficit leads to weight gain.

The best weight loss results come when you eat a wide range of foods, allow yourself to eat your favourite foods and learn to build a good relationship with food. You can read more about this in our blogs What are good foods for weight loss and what are bad foods? and How to build a good relationship with food.

Are you towing anything?

(How do your habits hold you back?) 

Anyone who has ever towed a trailer or a caravan knows that driving is a bit slower than usual, and the heavier the load, the slower you’ll travel. The same applies to weight loss. Unfortunately, what weighs people down more than their physical weight is their emotional weight or habits as we like to call them. We explain this in detail in our blog Struggling to lose weight? The real weight you need to lose to change your body shape.

The truth is that people don’t have a weight problem. They have personal problems (habits, mindset, beliefs and fears) that reflect in their weight. Diets don’t solve these problems which is why people who lose weight on these programs always gain it back with interest. When you solve your personal problems, weight loss will take care of itself. However, the more habits you have that are holding you back, the longer it will take to address them and therefore the longer it will take to lose weight. You can read more about this in our blogs Why nutrition and fitness are the last things you should focus on to lose weight and 7 habits for effective weight loss.

Are you trying to get there quicker?

(Have you put a timeline on your weight loss?)

One of the biggest mistakes people make whether it’s driving somewhere or trying to lose weight is that they try to rush the process because they have put a timeline on things. For example, if you try to get from Melbourne to Sydney in 6 hours instead of 10, you may speed or try to take a more direct route that is off the main highway. However, this will only end up causing problems (e.g. a road accident or damage to your car) which will delay your trip or prevent you from getting there at all. 

When it comes to weight loss, setting a timeline to achieve your results also causes more problems that will cause you to take longer to reach your goal. When you try to rush the process you’ll end up doing things that will sabotage your weight loss journey instead of helping it, which will mean it will take you even longer to lose weight. We explain this fully in our blog Is your weight loss timeline sabotaging your success?

Are you a confident driver?

(Are you willing to confront your fears?)

Imagine you’re driving to Sydney and you get stuck behind a large truck or a road train. Do you overtake them when it’s safe, or are you too afraid and choose to sit behind them the whole way? For some people overtaking the truck may be scary as it involves driving on the wrong side of the road for a while to get in front of it. However, if you don’t confront that fear, you’ll be sitting behind the truck driving at a much slower speed until the truck turns off the highway. 

Weight loss is the same. To be successful in losing weight, you need to confront your fears and address the habits that have been preventing you from losing weight. Some of the most common fears that slow people’s weight loss down include:

Unless you confront these fears head-on, you’ll never succeed in losing weight. You can read more in our blog Why fear is preventing your weight loss.

Are you taking enough breaks?

(Are you getting enough sleep and rest?)

In an effort to get from Melbourne to Sydney in record time, some people avoid taking breaks or getting enough rest and try to drive straight through (or with minimal stops). But this is a recipe for disaster as a drowsy driver is a dangerous driver. Just as you need to factor in rest and sleep to rejuvenate you to ensure you get to your destination safely, you need to factor in rest and sleep with your weight loss journey. If you don’t, you’ll end up burning out and giving up.

A lot of people believe that resting is lazy, but resting aids your weight loss. It helps you recover physically from your training sessions so you can be more consistent and build muscle, which is a key factor in improving your metabolism. Resting also reduces stress which is a major metabolic blocker that hinders weight loss. Impaired sleep and lack of rest are two of the main reasons why people struggle to lose weight, so if you’re skimping on these, expect that your weight loss will take longer. 

At Imani Tribe, we help our clients improve their habits around sleep so they can lose weight. We also have structured rest periods in our training blocks to allow our clients time to recover from their training and prepare them for the next block. Despite what many believe, smashing yourself by doing excessive exercise doesn’t get you fast results. Giving yourself plenty of sleep and rest in between sessions is what makes the difference. You can read more in our blogs Sleep and weight loss: the unexpected connection and The power of rest: Why resting isn’t being lazy.

How many stops do you make?

(Are you being consistent with your efforts)

While it’s important to take regular rest breaks on your road trip, if you’re stopping more than you’re driving, it’s going to take you a long time to reach Sydney. The same applies to weight loss, but this is what happens to a lot of people. They continually stop and start. The best results aren’t gained by going hard for 6 or 12 weeks. They’re gained by being consistent, even if those weeks are imperfect. We explain this in our blog Why 52 imperfect weeks is better than 6 perfect ones when it comes to weight loss.

Stopping and starting with weight loss derails you more than you realise. If you want to lose weight, you need to be consistent, not perfect, because consistency trumps perfection every time. You can read more in our blog How to be consistent with your weight loss.

Do you stick to the highway or get sidetracked?

(Are you focused or listening to all the noise?)

If you don’t want your drive from Melbourne to Sydney to take longer than necessary, you need to stay focused on your route and stick to it, rather than getting sidetracked by all the things you see on the way. Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, a lot of people get distracted on their journey — whether they are looking for the next best diet, comparing their results with other people, watching what other people are doing, or following a plethora of podcasts, health gurus or fitness influencers on social media

We call this noise. Noise is all the unnecessary things you focus on to distract yourself from doing the things necessary to achieve your goals. Sometimes noise can be the right thing for someone else but will end up side-tracking you. This is why it’s important to focus on your plan and your journey. You can read more in our blog Block the noise to lose weight.

Do you come across any roadblocks?

(How do you deal with life’s curveballs?)

What happens if you come across a roadblock and need to take a detour? No doubt that will add some time to your journey to Sydney. Life is full of curveballs and detours so to expect your weight loss journey will be linear and straightforward is naïve. There will be something that will appear as a roadblock to your success. Your job is to find the detour, rather than sit there stuck on the road, or to turn back and give up on your journey. Roadblocks and curveballs can be good because they teach us valuable lessons we need to learn along the way. Understanding that roadblocks are part of the process is important as this will help you find that detour as quickly as possible. You can read more about this in our blogs The Stages of a Body Transformation and The Seasons of Body Transformation.

Do you have to slow down for any reason?

(Do less to achieve more)

On your journey to Sydney, you may be stuck behind a slow car or truck, or there could be roadworks which means you have to reduce your speed. Your weight loss journey will also be like that. You’re not a robot and life will have its ebbs and flows. For example, you may get sick and have to miss your training sessions for a week. You may sustain an injury that means you have to change the way you train. Or maybe you go on holiday and eat and drink more than usual.

All of these things are part of the process and part of life, so be prepared for them. Nothing ever goes to plan 100% of the time so if you can accept that, you’ll be less stressed and you’ll continue to make progress. You can read more about this concept in our blog How to build your resilience so that you can lose weight for good.

Let go of control, keep progressing and you will get there

To summarise, the drive from Melbourne to Sydney takes around 10 hours. However, when people try to rush the process and get there quicker, a lot can go wrong. Weight loss is exactly the same. When people try to rush the process and force their results to happen quickly, (by focusing on diet and exercise) they end up self-sabotaging themselves and creating even more problems, which ultimately set them back.

If you’re committed to addressing your habits to ensure long-term weight loss, instead of focusing on food and exercise (which will only lead to long-term weight gain), then weight loss is likely to take longer than you want or expect.

Just as you’d eventually reach Sydney if you kept on going despite your setbacks, you will eventually reach your weight loss goals if you show up every day and simply do the work. To do this you need to let go of trying to control your results and focus on what you can do in the present moment. You need to surrender to your current situation and have faith that as long as you keep moving forward you will eventually get to where you want to be. Our blog How to feel in control when everything is out of control will show you how to do this.

Remember, your weight loss journey is likely to take you longer than you expect, so the sooner you start, the better. Don’t wait for a special occasion like your 40th or 50th birthday, take hold of the wheel now and get on the road to success.

We’re ready to help. 

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Want to finally lose the weight for good, and get the body, confidence and lifestyle you desire?

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