Rapid vs. Sustainable Weight Loss: Sometimes the Tortoise should Learn from the Hare

I’ve often said that weight loss is more of a marathon than a sprint. It’s all about the long haul. Treating weight loss like a sprint is an error I see all too often. These folks end up exhausted and burnt out before they are even remotely close to the finish line. When the road is long, some pacing is required. That said, just like in a marathon, there is a strategic time and place to pick up the pace.

In this post I will discuss when to add some intensity to your sustainable dieting efforts as well as how to do so effectively.

In the past I have talked at length about how to lose weight sustainably, so I won’t beat a dead horse, or a live one for that matter–what kind of sicko do you think I am?!. You can learn all about that here https://jmortontraining.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/weight-loss-should-be-easy-how-to-make-healthy-eating-a-reflex/ and here https://jmortontraining.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/a-simple-strategy-for-beginning-your-weight-loss-journey/.


The strategic sprint works best when a client has a solid foundation of healthy habits that are in no danger of going away under any circumstance. The main argument against always sprinting is that it’s not sustainable and can cause yo yo dieting. However, we aren’t doing an all out sprint from a dead stop here, we are just building on our momentum and temporarily speeding up a bit. If a client has established a good foundation then there isn’t a risk of dietary backtracking from a diet that is too restrictive.

Another time for this tactic is in the midst of a deadline, a time sensitive  event that the client wants to look amazing for. Examples include: vacations, high school reunions, weddings etc. You can also use this tactic to capitalize on a burst in motivation. Motivation is always temporary so we can’t rely on this to get the job done all of the time. However, we can take advantage of it when it appears to speed up our gainz, at least for a little bit.


If we are following a habit based approach(hint:we are), then this is done by feeding off the momentum of the progress that has already been made. You want to continue in whatever direction you have been heading; the idea is not to switch things up, but to be a little stricter and use some more advanced tactics that fall in line with your strategy. To clarify, I’ll provide some examples.

So let’s say your strategy revolves around developing the skill of meal planning. Up to this point you have been steadily building up the number of meals that you plan per week. It started with just planning one meal a week then each week you planned an additional meal. Currently you plan out half of your meals. During our “sprint” phase we might pick that up to planning 90% of your meals, with the rest being free meals. So rather than continue to add one planned meal each week, we are jumping ahead for a month or two. Now, if the jump isn’t too big, we will still end up ahead of where you were before the sprint. So after the sprint is over, maybe you are now easily able to plan 70% of your meals as opposed to 50%. This is still a huge jump given the timeframe, even if it isn’t 90%. This just means you are that much closer to being at 90% during a non-sprint phase. Usually after demonstrating your ability to sprint, confidence remains high and 70% seems pretty easy in comparison to 90%.Doing the same amount of work with less effort is progress. Yeah buddy!

Note that this plan merely intensified the steps we were already taking, it did not change direction by adding calorie counting, portion control, or any other number of different strategies. The goal here isn’t to do everything at once, as that will just result in burnout and possible backtracking. Furthermore, the jump should still be reasonable and not overly restrictive.

After a month or two, we simply decelerate a touch and go back to building habits in a slower more sustainable fashion.


I’m currently accepting online coaching clients and I would love to help you lose weight and feel better. Online coaching offers the same results as in person coaching, but for a lot less ca$h and with a lot more flexibility.

Curious about how it works? Fill out a super brief form here: http://mortontrainingsystems.com/online-coaching.php and let’s set something up!


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