A body has to feel safe to get lean and stay lean. Just your regularly scheduled reminder that just because you think you *want* to diet doesn’t mean you’re necessarily in a place to do so.
You have to earn the right to diet and cut your calories. I know that the basics will never be sexy to people or sell super well, but it’s important to understand that we can’t just chronically diet and that we likely have no business worrying about cutting our calories if we currently feel like total garbage and aren’t already crushing basic foundational habits like sleeping at night, getting enough protein, getting in enough steps every day, regularly exercising each week, etc etc.
It’s also important to note that the body comp you desire may weigh more than you currently do right now. It’s common to see people hyper focus on the scale, but it’s super important to understand that rather than concentrating efforts on being a certain number between your toes, that ultimately the scale number is just that: a number. It doesn’t tell the whole story, it doesn’t relay how much muscle or fat tissue you have on your body nor does it indicate your body composition. It’s just a piece of data.
A good rule of thumb might be that we shouldn’t diet more than 1-2 times a year and when we diet, it might be best to keep those dieting instances to ~12-16 weeks. We should also have regularly scheduled stretches of caloric surplus each year (~2-4 months at minimum) throughout the year where we lift heavy and crush all the food to intentionally try and gain muscle. Keep in mind that it’s very difficult to gain muscle and lose body fat at the same time. Gaining muscle typically requires eating at maintenance or in a caloric surplus beyond maintenance calorie needs. Reversely, losing body fat typically requires being in a caloric deficit aka eating below caloric maintenance needs.
We should also likely be eating at maintenance calorie needs more than we do anything else. For many active menstruating individuals, this is can be well beyond ~1700-2000+ calories. The more muscle we have and the more active we are, the more food we can likely consume each day. If I used myself as an example, I’m 5’3, average 7-8k steps a day, workout for 60-90 minutes 4x/week via @paragontrainingmethods, and my maintenance calorie needs are typically around ~2300-2400 calories per day. I can typically complete a successful cut on something like 2000-2200 calories per day.
If you just had a baby, if your hair is currently falling out by the handfuls, if thyroid levels aren’t good, if your menstrual cycle is absent or super irregular, if you wake up multiple times a night, if you’re deal with constant food cravings, if feel like hot garbage inside and outside the gym, and/or have been eating consistently less than 1700-2,000 calories the past few months… you might not be in a position to worry about dieting right now.