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April 2, 2013

The Now Approach & Why Overhauls Always Fail

“There is no one giant step that does it, it’s a lot of little steps.” –Peter A. Cohen

Last night, I was catching up with my sister-in-law and JillFit Coach Jillian Teta since we hadn’t seen each other in over a month with travel and crazy schedules. You all know Jillian, and you know that she has her pro figure card with the IFPA and she is also a fitness model (not to mention a naturopathic physician). She’s traveled much the same path as I have in the fitness world, and last night we both agreed–prepping for a contest (or a photo shoot) or doing any sort of super-strict dieting is essentially a full-time job. It’s a complete nutrition overhaul. It is–as it should be–your first priority if you want to do well on stage.

It is a conscious choice you make to get as lean as possible. And the rewards associated with that are obvious: an amazing physique with an incredible physical and mental journey attached. A great story, some awesome photos and the beautiful satisfaction of knowing you’ve accomplished something not many other people could.

But, also inherent in that conscious choice is that your mental energy and effort goes to that place–and so it needs to be taken from other places. For example, I remember during my competing days, it was literally all I could do to train clients at work. Nothing else–no regular blogging, no building my business, very little social time, who’s Jade?, etc. Not that one choice is better than the other, but the reality is that our mental effort and energy is finite.

And when we put all our mental effort into dieting super strictly and training super intensely, inevitably energy for other areas of our lives will be less.

This is often why super-strict dieting and complete overhauls don’t work long-term. They eat up our mental energy reserves, leaving little for well, living. Maybe some people can do it all, and I would wager that the ones who can don’t have some magic power, they are simply more practiced in harnessing willpower (which takes TIME–can you see a theme here? :))

And yet, as a dieting culture, WE LOVE OVERHAULS, don’t we? Many of us embark on them each New Year’s, or we start a new one every single Monday after binging all weekend or we search for that magic formula that will finally make losing weight effortless.

And yet over two-thirds of people who embark on these diets will end up FATTER 2 years later. Why? Because the model of all-or-nothing diet overhauls does. not. work. Why? Because of the above. It requires us harness so much willpower and mental energy all at once that we simply cannot sustain it.

Willpower is finite. It runs out. We can’t (and don’t have to) be Superwoman. The good news is that willpower is not set. It’s like a muscle that we can strengthen over time. We can practice it and build ours up, but that building of willpower does not happen overnight and no magic meal plan will make it easier if we are not giving ourselves the chance to get better over time. Patience. Consistency. Making the best choices we can at the meal right in front of us.

I think we often fail in dieting because we think too far ahead and want ALL THE RESULTS RIGHT NOW. So we stress and worry and try to be perfect and think about the future and worry if we aren’t losing fast enough or if we slip up, we might as well give up. But that’s not how lasting fat loss works.

Lasting fat loss happens one meal at a time, over time.

Which bring me to The Now Approach. This approach is simple (and yet many of us don’t think this at all, even though it works). The premise is that all we can control is what we are doing right now.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”95%”]The Now Approach requires that we make the best choice available to us at the very next meal (what we are eating right NOW) or what workout we will do today (i.e. now, not tomorrow or next week or a year from now). [/pullquote]


That’s it. It’s simple and it works. Why? Because fat loss happens one meal at a time, one workout at a time, and all those small good choices add up to several large accomplishments. I love this because I don’t have to stress about how I need to look next year or what about next month or how will I be tomorrow. No.

When I stress about the future, I compromise my ability to make the best choice right now.

Your future physique is being created at your very next meal, so why waste effort and energy stressing about being perfect tomorrow when you have the opportunity to make the best decision possible right now? Worry about tomorrow tomorrow! Use The Now Approach to conserve willpower and focus your effort on the next thing–your next meal, today’s workout. Great choices right now show up on you’re physique tomorrow. You can’t control outcomes, but you can always control what you put in your mouth today :)

Related: Why Simply Having the Information is Not Enough


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