Dieting: Yo-Yo-Ing Makes You Miserable


Below is the link to a review of an old dieting show called “The Biggest Loser”, whereby enormously fat Americans would compete against each other to see who could lose the most weight.

“All but one (16 of 17 dieters) had regained the majority of their weight.” 

This should come as no surprise to you, if you’ve read any of my stuff before.

The problem with most diets is that they chase short term gratification. There is nothing wrong with this alone, however, what normally follows this is rapid weight regain, and depression. So of course this means we need something more sustainable and long term.

You need to change your entire psychology. Obviously it’s not easy, but I will help you. The same stuff applies to bodybuilders/physique competitors, so listen up if you’re planning on competing in the future.

To be fair, the people in this programme were an awful lot fatter than this guy!

By all means, you will still need to be goal oriented when chasing fat loss goals, but they are slightly different to work projects. Work projects that involve writing for example, can be done within a short period of time if you are really, really focused. Dieting is different in the sense that you can’t force fat loss through sheer willpower. Well, you can, but this video shows what eventually happens when you do.

You need to set fat loss goals with realistic expectations and timeframes. If you have over 50 pounds to lose, then this is going to be a loooooong project for you. In order for this to be sustainable, you’re probably going to make this one of your main two goals and take about six months to a year to achieve it.

If you have other goals to achieve in this time, a great idea is to take diet breaks every few months. Here, you can focus on maintenance, and allocate more of your energy into progressing towards goals in other life areas.

Personally, I have gradually lowered my body fat set point on an annual basis:

Year 1: 17%

Year 2: 13-14%

Year 3: 11-12%

This year: 9%

These are annual average estimations. Of course they fluctuated throughout the year, but you get the idea. It’s taken me a long time to gradually lower the body fat that my body and mind are happy maintaining.

The Biggest Loser

Now, onto the actual show itself:

“Scientists uncover that for dieters, weight loss is almost impossible to maintain.” “Most dieters will regain it all back within 3-5 years.”

The system most people use to diet, which focuses on short term gratification, does tend to do this, yes.

“The rapidity of his 17 stone weight loss, made him America’s weight loss hero.”

The scientists are spelling it out for us here: Don’t try to lose weight rapidly, even if you have hefty amounts to lose.

“She lost 15 stone in 15 months, with slimming world.”

That’s 14 pounds per month, or 2.5 pounds per week. Too much to be long term sustainable.

“I wanted to do it as quickly as possible.”

Yeah you’re an idiot.

“He shed 20 stone in 7 months. He did it by consuming LighterLife meal replacement products.”

See this is another thing the industry has indoctrinated everyone with – meal replacements. You’re completely replacing your current eating habits, which is a mental shift that throws you totally off-balance, and that little force called homeostasis will not like one bit.

Not only are you slashing your calories, but you’re also completely changing the macro & micro composition of the food, the texture, taste and form it takes. Such a radical shift is asking for disaster.

“I was on 500 calories per day, rigid.” 

As I’ve said before, low calorie diets screw you over. 

However this guy is full of shit, as you will find out in a second, so take that last quote with a pinch of salt. There’s no way he was actually on 500 calories every day.

“When you’re 8% body fat, you look stupid with sagging man-boobs”

You’re not 8% my friend, I can tell by your face. Also he goes on to say:

“I would rather choose to be fat than have drooping boobs.”

Here he is justifying the enormous weight rebound.

No you just love food and dieted too quickly, admit it. Don’t justify your actions and lack of willpower through backwards rationalisation. Take responsibility. This is a massive problem with society these days, very few people accept that beyond age 18, about 90% of their life circumstances are due to their own personal actions.

Another guy says “I eat exactly what my friends do, and I still gain weight”.

False. Classic ignorance and refusal to take responsibility. Just because your friend once ate a cheeseburger with you, doesn’t mean that your weekly consumption was identical. That cheeseburger likely accounted for about 1.5% of your weekly intake. Therefore you’re comparing 1.5% of your diet. Doesn’t really give you an accurate, big-picture comparison now does it? Do you follow him round all week to track what he’s eating? Of course you don’t.

Guys, if you’re serious about losing weight, you need to track your food. It doesn’t necessarily have to be exact calories on MyFitnessPal. It could just be a rough diary that you make sure you scribble in every time you eat. Carry it around with you outside, so you have no excuses to “forget” to write your food down.

“The Biggest Loser was a race. You were competing against 16 other people to win the show.”

Yep, losing weight should never be a race. Asking for trouble.

“I’ve never seen people so obese training like that – several hours per day, seven days per week.”

Ah, now this can also apply to you non-obese volume junkies. It isn’t sustainable. Be wary of a lot of YouTubers, some of them are buggers for recommending stupid amounts of volume, and the proof is in the pudding when they wind up injured every year. If you choose to follow them, you will either:

A) Get bored of your routine and start program hopping. Program hopping directly undermines the #1 foundation of successful training – consistent progressive overload over time.

B) Adapt to the new levels of volume, forcing you to go even higher on volume and spend even more time in the gym, which of course detracts from your other goals.

C) Get injured.

D) Get bored of training altogether.

All of the above are bad news.

A scientist claims “There’s loads of different kinds of diets out there. Low calorie, low carb, low sugar, paleo etc, and they do seem to work in the short run. But inevitably they all fail in the long run.”

Doctor, you nailed it.

“The main reason people fail on diets is biological – they are more likely to feel hungry.”

Yes it’s mainly cravings and dwindling willpower, not genuine hunger. Don’t push it too far and allow your willpower to disappear in the first place. 10% changes at a time to both calories and training volume guys, no more.

“The successful slimmers have one thing in common – they make it the most important thing in their life.”

I don’t necessarily agree with this, but I think that during the initial transition period between fat loss and maintenance, this will definitely have to be the case. Read this and this for more information.

This transition/habit setting period will probably need to be doubled to six weeks for those who have lost a huge amount of weight. This period will provide the foundation for the rest of the dieter’s life. The less slip ups the better. It will indeed need to be the primary goal in their life during the transition phase.

Apart from my upcoming eBook, the closest thing you will find to a solution to all this is my article on maintaining motivation.

There has to be a genuine desire to lose weight in the first place, but just as important as this in the long run, is that you have to make the transition period your number one goal. Focus on nothing else during this period, your life may depend on it.

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4 thoughts on “Dieting: Yo-Yo-Ing Makes You Miserable”

  1. Found this very entertaining! You talk a lot about preventing willpower/motivation from falling (within the best of your abilities), but how do you raise your willpower to the highest level possible:

    1) Before the diet
    2) During the diet

    I’m assuming reviewing images of your goals will be the most important thing?

    1. Images, videos, music – whatever gets you going. The images you use may or may not need to change over time, not only as your goals change but also as you adapt to seeing the same images.

      Comparing yourself to guys on a similar level to your will also give you a competitive edge. Comparing yourself to the elite is pointless, but where you actually have a chance of winning can be very motivational.

  2. But what about people who get fat due to medical conditions? They can’t lose weight even if they go slowly like you say. I personally know a few people like this where no matter what they try they cant lose weight!

    1. Everyone loses weight in a deficit, just like everyone is pulled to the ground by gravity when they jump off a building. Medical conditions simply make it more difficult to maintain a deficit.

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