The Weight Loss Paradox: The Never Ending Diet Disaster
If you’ve ever battled some insomnia you’ll probably agree to the uselessness of the advice:
‘Just try to go to sleep.’
When you can’t sleep, one of the worst things you can do is try to go to sleep more.
Your mind ends up racing faster and getting some shut eye moves further into the future.
You can want to go to sleep as bad as anything (and someone who hasn’t gotten much lately probably does) but it only makes it worse
It’s a funny example of what’s referred to as ‘hyper-intention’.
When you want something so bad that the intention of wanting stops you from getting it.
Then ironically, when you stop pursuing it so hard, you’re able to get it.
Another great example: going out to meet/ do potentially naughty things with another human of the sex you’re attracted to.
When someone wants to meet said other person so badly, they come across needy.
Quickest way to repel someone, be needy.
However, go out with no intention to meet someone.
And it’s funny how attractive that can be.
So, your body and losing weight.
This is for the person that feels they are ‘forever dieting’.
Or even just ‘forever trying to lose weight’.
But not actually getting there.
Seemingly stuck in a loop.
Similar to the above examples, the fact that someone is constantly trying to lose weight is exactly what stops that happening.
Let me explain.
When you are dieting in an attempt to lose weight.
And by the way, all I mean by dieting is any form of eating less.
I’m sure someone will rebut with:
‘I don’t diet or eat less, I just eat healthier’
Well guess what happens when you eat ‘healthier’?
You eat fewer calories and voila, you lose weight.
There are many different ways to achieve that, some diets even try tell you they AREN’T doing that, but they all do it.
When you diet, your body goes through a bunch of adaptations to essentially try make it more difficult to lose weight.
It doesn’t actually like losing weight (especially if you have been the weight you are now for a while).
These adaptations hit some people harder than others.
Which is often why some have a much more difficult time losing weight than others.
When you are forever attempting to diet, to maybe lose those pesky last 5kg’s or stomach fat, you are making these worse.
These lovely adaptations include:
Slowing down your metabolism.
Moving less each day unconsciously.
Increase in cravings.
Increased temptation to binge eat.
Increased ability to regain weight.
You can see how the above are a potent cocktail for yo-yoing with your weight.
So the perpetual dieter fights hard trying to stick to their dieting plans.
Only to be getting diminishing returns due to said adaptations.
Then the cravings and binge eating urges eventually win when life gets a bit crazy and knocks out the will-power.
Once that happens weight regain is awfully quick.
And it can be hard to get back on the bandwagon.
So a few cravings become a few bad days of eating.
But here’s one of the most important points to understand…
Those cravings will never disappear if you are constantly trying to lose weight
They are your bodies way of fighting back against it.
You’ll also constantly find yourself gaining this unfair amount of weight from these moments of indulgence.
Once again, because you’re dieting so non-stop.
So this inevitable cycle runs it’s course:
Keep trying to diet > unable to resist the food urges > gain more weight than you should > feel the need to diet more > start it all again
Not a cycle often mentioned when people get told ‘you just need to eat less to lose weight’
Where does the person who really wants to lose weight go when faced with this grim scenario?
Well, most people don’t like hearing it…
You need to allow yourself to go through a period where you don’t want to lose weight.
Or at bare minimum, don’t try to lose weight (maybe on some level you want to, but you resist dieting and eating less)
This is not easy for a lot of people.
In fact, I have battled with this personally.
I had an eating disorder when I was 18.
After losing a bunch of weight I got obsessed by it.
I had to get leaner and leaner.
I got to a point of some serious medical issues from my under eating.
Testosterone replacement therapy at 18 isn’t much fun.
But I felt like a couldn’t stop.
When you don’t like the way you look AND your self-esteem is tied to it
Stopping isn’t actually an option.
I physically couldn’t.
So when we discuss not trying to lose weight this needs to be addressed.
Remove your self-esteem from your body.
If your heart skips a beat when you think about not losing weight, then this is SUPER relevant.
You are enough the way you are.
I know, cheesy.
But following on from the point I’ve been making:
Paradoxically, until you are willing to accept how you look and where you are at now, you will never actually get to where you want to be.
Read that again if you need to.
It’s about saying ‘I’m willing to stay where I am now to allow myself to progress in the future’
Which begins from accepting you are enough right now.
Because a ‘scarce’ or ‘never good enough’ mindset can be fucking devastating (exhibit A, me)
Want a better way to do it?
Put your self-esteem around your actions towards a goal.
The fact that you are moving in the right direction becomes enough.
It’s also something you can control.
An internal focus that doesn’t get affected by someones ridiculously good looking body on Instagram.
This may not happen overnight, but it’s a necessary step in this process.
It’s deep work, but it’s powerful work.
Once you can accept a period of not trying to lose weight, we can begin making progress (and progress here isn’t weight going down).
And this might also help you with this new paradigm shift.
The leanest people on the planet e.g. bodybuilders, fitness models, those regularly get down to very little clothing.
Actually don’t spend that much time in their life dieting.
It’s easy on the surface to assume they must constantly be eating super strict to keep their body fat levels down, but this isn’t the case.
They know to take dieting very cautiously and only use when they have to.
They do it properly, get the result, then return to a maintenance or muscle gaining phase.
The serious fitness community knows the dangers of prolonged dieting and understand this paradox.
Now, back to your plan of not actively trying to lose weight.
This just means trying to eat an amount of food that you are maintaining your weight consistently on.
Which will begin reversing the physiological and psychological adaptations from perpetual dieting.
I’d actually recommend even in this phase of not trying to lose weight one monitors their food and bodyweight.
Because going to the other extreme of ‘Oh well I’m not trying to lose weight now, I’ve always wondered if I can eat a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s...’ to then blowout is equally frustrating.
You’ll also gain weight from that, and then guess what?
You feel like you have to diet again.
Ruining this whole process.
So the truth here is that even maintenance takes work.
In fact, often just as much work in the short-term as dieting.
It still takes discipline.
Especially if you haven’t tried to maintain for a long-time, because overdoing it will be the natural outcome.
But reality check: achieving results with your body is almost always hard.
Especially if you have been battling with it for years.
Sorry, it would be nice if it was easy.
If you find it easy, you probably wouldn’t have read this far.
But we can’t deal with life the way we wish it were.
Being a victim of unique circumstance and complaining we have to work harder.
That achieves fuck all other than making you feel temporarily better.
We must deal with it the way it is.
If that means you have to put in more work than your genetically gifted friend, then so be it.
Back to the strategy.
Let’s assume you work hard and consciously maintain for a period of a few months.
What will happen?
A better relationship with food.
All of which will give you the opportunity down the line to finally lose the weight you want to.
Where you need to gradually move back into the dieting mindset and eating behaviours.
How long will this take?
Completely individual, so I couldn’t say.
But a general rule:
The longer you have been dieting the longer you need to not be dieting for.
This is of course where having a trainer/coach comes in.
But these are the general principles anyone can start following.
And it won’t happen overnight, but you can escape the black hole of the never ending diet.
Because if it was working, you wouldn’t need to be dieting anymore.
The Body Shapers