The Simplest Plan for Successful Weight Loss

by Coach Stevo
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The Simplest Plan for Successful Weight Loss

If there is one fact that everyone knows in theory but not in practice, it’s this: You’re not perfect.

You’re going to struggle. You’re going to have bad days. You’re going to eat more than you planned on eating, and you’re going to feel like doing nothing sometimes. It’s not a matter of “if.” It’s “when.” And, after helping more than 1,000 people lose weight, I can tell you more than likely that “when” is Friday.

Friday is the most common day I see people get a case of the “screw its.” When perfect is no longer an option, they just throw the playbook completely out the window. But these swings in consistency are death to long-term weight loss because they rob us of momentum.

So I started trying to come up with a better plan, and, luckily for all my clients, I’m a huge history nerd. In battle, great generals do not just tell their troops “charge” and, if things go badly, yell, “Run away!” Before troops ever go into battle, they pick a spot on the map to retreat to in case things go badly. This is their “Fallback Plan.” After reading a bunch of books about the history of tactics in land battles, I developed “Fallback Plan Friday.”

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Your fallback plan is your line in the sand. Something you are 100% confident you can do, no matter what. It can be a nutrition habit like eating protein at every meal or an easy 15–20 minute workout that moves you toward your goal but requires as much thought as brushing your teeth.

A good fallback plan needs to be simple and easy, and it has to be bang for your buck. Start by writing down your favorite way to train or eat. Do you like barbell complexes? Salads? Kettlebell swings and goblet squats? Tae Bo? Anything is fine. Let me repeat that: Any exercise or nutrition habit you love is fine.

Now write down the bare minimum that you can do of that exercise or nutrition habit and still feel like you’re making progress. Is it one salad at lunch? Is it drinking one less (sugary or alcoholic) drink? Doing 20 push-ups? And yes, I want you to underestimate here. I mean, really lowball it. The whole goal is to do something that’s possible and enjoyable, so you feel more ready to get back at it tomorrow. Don’t think, “I’ve done 1,200 swings in a workout before” and then think you can do 1,000 every day. Ask yourself, “When the sun comes up on Saturday morning, and I’ve got a slight hangover from too much red wine the night before, what’s the workout that’s going to make me feel better?” That’s your fallback plan.

Some examples:

  • 100 kettlebell swings
  • Eating a vegetable at every meal
  • A 20-minute jog or bike ride
  • Replacing one caloric drink with water
  • A long walk
  • Splitting your dinner into two meals
  • 3–5 Turkish get-ups per side
  • 3–5 sun salutations
  • Or even just the warm-up from your regular workout

The key to this fallback plan is that you aren’t retreating. You are still in enemy territory, regrouping for your next attack. If you feel like you can do more, do a little more. If you feel like you can do a lot more, do a lot more! But if, after going hard for a few workouts earlier in the week, you get to the weekend and don’t feel like you can do anything, remember: You can still do something. Be a great general, and make your fallback plan.


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  • LearningToBeMyself

    Love this.

  • jersey

    Fantastic! How low is a lowball? Is this purely for a psychological stand point? What if I can only complete my lowball 50% of the time? Will it still have the same effect? Or does it have to be something I can complete 100%?

  • Peter Hafekost

    Very useful thanks

  • David

    How about simply logging everything on MFP – that could be your good habit for the day.

    On “Fuck it Fridays” I think most people stop bothering to log everything, so ensuring that they do gives them something to look back on so they can clearly see where and when they have stumbled, and keeps their head in the game.

  • Renee

    From what I’ve heard and have tried a few times. Splitting the meal (at a restaurant) is to have some now and the rest the next day. When I receive the meal, I ask for a to-go box and split it.

    • Carly

      I do that because I think the portion sizes are just too big anyway.

  • bill

    Start with the notion that our idea of a portion is way more than we actually need. Next step is eat SLOWLY…mindfully. Take very small bites…chew them thoroughly. Put your fork down in between bites, and take a sip of water. When you eat fast, you’re not giving your body enough time to realize it has all the food it needs so it can tell you it’s not hungry anymore. You’ll be amazed at how effective this is. Think in terms that it’s not how MUCH of the delicious food you eat, it’s how much TIME you spend eating it. A tiny bite tastes just as good as a whopping one.

  • Jagan Kumaravelu

    I have been thinking about it. Maybe you should try it and see how it goes! Dinner is the meal that decides how your day goes. I have been at this for years now with absolutely no control. If your mind is idle, your dinner is big, really big. Its easy to say “always keep your mind busy”. That’s nonsense! I dont want to overwork my mind and I want rest for my mind too. When do I do it? The entire day I am at work, evening is the only time when I can sit and relax.

    There must surely be that secret code that unlocks the mystery of “controlling your dinner”. Eating heavily for breakfast and lunch so that dinner is light, is BS. The food doesn’t go in easily during breakfast or lunch, but no matter how much you eat, it doesn’t feel enough during dinner? WHY? JUST WHY?

  • CrazyOldBat

    This made me think about the bad choice I was going to make on a Friday night no less. Thanks for s rewind my head on straight!