Think of a young toddler learning the basics of movement.
The fight against gravity is a real thing. She tosses and turns. She wriggles around. And she struggles to keep her head up.
But eventually, upon shaky legs, the toddler stands upright.
Standing upright is the first step to being free. Standing gives her a new view on life. She can see things she couldn't see before and reach things she probably shouldn't be reaching for.
Soon, standing is no problem. Mastering how to walk comes next.
Again, with quivering legs, the toddler takes one shuffled step. Then another. And another.
Before long, walking isn't a problem.
The same goes for running. Once walking is easy, running is the next logical step. It's easy when standing and walking is mastered. And when she can run, the sky is the limit.
There's an inherent order in which things must follow.
1. Learn to stand.
2. Learn to walk.
3. Learn to run.
The toddler can't walk without standing first or run without walking.
That's where a lot of people go wrong when it comes to weight loss.
They attempt to skip the steps and run straight out of the blocks. This hardly ever works. Without setting the foundation first, you're bound to fall flat on your face.
You must learn to stand first.
When it comes to pure weight loss, standing is the equivalent to understanding calories.
Calories, and calories alone, will determine whether you gain or lose weight. Being in a calorie deficit builds out the foundation of your weight loss efforts. If you try to walk or run before setting up your diet into a calorie deficit, the scale won't budge.
A calorie deficit means that you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning each day. This is the fundamental aspect of weight loss.
I've previously explained in depth the importance of calories here, here and here.
For this piece, just know, this is how you stand on two feet.
Next, you can learn how to walk.
So, you can stand and you are maintaining a calorie deficit. Great work. Let's take the next few steps.
Walking involves the next most important foundations to your weight loss. These are the three M's: macronutrients, micronutrients and movement.
Macronutrients are the things which make up calories. They are protein, carbs and fat.
We can optimise these to maximise weight loss. Mostly, focusing on having a high protein intake. Protein is massively correlated with increased fat-loss in hundreds (possibly thousands) of studies. As for fats and carbs, they become important as you begin to run.
Protein is your first step to learn how to walk.
Your second shuffling step is micronutrients.
Simply, these are vitamins, minerals, fibre and all of the healthy stuff in food. Micronutrients are mostly found in vegetables. By beginning to prioritise these in the foods you eat, weight loss starts to pick up. Your confidence in your ability to walk increases.
Take another step and eat a lot of vegetables.
To solidify your ability to walk, we finish this stage off with movement.
It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you move every day.
Some people enjoy jogging, some prefer to walk the dog. Some like going to boxing classes and others enjoy playing with their kids.
The worst thing you can do is get up, drive to work, sit at a desk all day, drive home, and watch TV all night. Find a way which you enjoy being active. Anything that will get you off the couch.
Building a habit of moving every day is the final step.
Finally, you can break into a run.
You're still being consistent with your calorie deficit, you're getting enough protein and veggies and you're moving every day. The hard work is done.
These things themselves can get you from A to B. You can walk to the shops, no sweat, but if you want to get there faster you can choose to run.
Running involves maximising efforts to maximise results.
Instead of simply moving every day, you now have a set resistance training program at the gym which you complete at the gym 3-4x a week. This is supplemented by some cardio and interval training on the other days.
Instead of simply eating lots of protein and vegetables, you consider the effects of carbs and fat. You begin to eat more calories around your workouts to improve recovery between sessions. You eat bigger breakfasts and smaller dinners for improved fat loss.
As you can tell, it's not necessary to run. It will get you results faster but will also make things more complicated.
Unfortunately, many people trying to lose weight start at this step.
They worry about carbs. They spend hours search for the perfect exercise program. And they type into Google "is interval training or slow cardio better for fat loss".
(only 909,000 results...)
They miss the whole two foundational steps which come beforehand.
And 99% of the time they end up flat on their face.
The toddler can also teach us one more piece of incredible wisdom.
Never give up.
Have you ever seen a toddler fall over and not try to stand up again? It's against their nature. They suffer countless setbacks and end up bruised and battered. A tear may be shed here and there, but in the end, they get back on the horse and try again.
You must take this toddler wisdom to heart. You will fail at times. Everyone does. You will face obstacles and hard circumstances.
In these times, channel your inner toddler and push up off the ground, dust yourself off and stand tall.
Once a toddler knows how to run, she is pretty much independent.
She can do what she wants, when she wants and no one can tell her otherwise.
The best thing is, once she knows how to run, she will always have that ability. She will stumble and fall. And she will stand up again, take a few hesitant steps and then break into a run.
Standing, walking and running is a skillset. Start at the beginning and work your way up. Because, when you nail the foundations, weight loss will never be a problem.
If you need a hand developing this skillset, I'm here to lend you one.
Click here to learn how to stand, walk and run... and never give up