CHANGE IS A PROCESS
The first step in making any kind of change is to define your goal. How should you best direct your actions and efforts to get you there? Most goals start out like this:
'I want to get my Master's Degree'
'I want to run a marathon'
'I want to be a smaller dress size'
What is important to remember is that these outcomes do not happen overnight. Every outcome we seek is the product of a number of decisions, choices, habits, and behaviors performed consistently over time. In order to get a Master's Degree, someone must enroll in class, go to orientation, study for the test, show up to class and pass the exam. There are many steps in the process.
The same is true of fat loss and fitness. People ask the question: 'How'd you get so thin!?' as if there was only one thing that was responsible for the desired outcome. The real answer is: 'Well, I've been watching what I eat, exercising, and making more decisions prioritizing my health for the last several months.' This answer is rarely articulated, but it is the reality of body transformation - doing a lot of good things consistently for a long time.
The really good news here is that it's okay to mess up. Our bodies, as they are today, are the results of many thousands of decisions and behaviors, any one of which is less important when taken in total. We don't need to behave flawlessly. What is important is to make positive choices consistently.
A fact of nutrition and body composition is this:
We look like the things we do most of the time.
If 345 nights of the year you're choosing lean protein and veggies for dinner, it's likely that you have achieved and are maintaining a seriously lean physique. Consistency beats compensation. It is far better to be pretty good most of the time, than to fall off the wagon and make up for it later.