Having a good read around the internet and it seems that we're very much…
The nineties marked the beginning of the culture obsessed with diets and dieting, with more and more diets coming out every single year. Yet, the Western World (and Men Over 40) continue to progressively gain weight. Hmmmm. I wonder what’s going on here? I’ve written before about the reasons as to why we’re gaining weight as a whole (bar the few niche exceptions) here and here.
But why specifically do none of these diets work?
As I talked about in the above articles, the mindset of the majority of the populations across Europe and the US is one of laziness and entitlement. No diet will cure this. In fact, I would argue that diets actually add to this. Why?
The concept of a diet is one that entails the following:
“I will act and behave properly and maturely in regards to training and diet until I start getting compliments. Then once I feel better, I will return to what I’m currently doing now, after all, my diet will be over”
A few problems with the concept of diets.
Firstly, there are no rational, objective goals that you know you need to hit in order to sort yourself out. Instead, it’s seeking validation from the external (which never makes people happy in the long-run). So there is no real driving force to keep you going.
Secondly, and possibly even more importantly, is that diets are seen as a temporarily switch to proper, healthy behaviour. Then once the healthy “torture” is over, you can simply return to immature, emotional eating and surprise surprise, regain all the weight.
I have spoken to a few guys recently who already know this stuff but I get the impression that they’re in the minority.
I’ve written before that maintenance is a different ballgame to progression, and it is. That is an absolute fact. It is very, very easy for me to maintain my current level of muscle mass. I would have to mess up BIG TIME to actually lose muscle. Whereas gaining muscle is long, tedious and hard work. I love it really, but you get the point.
Although maintenance is easier than progression, it still requires work.
It still requires work in order to maintain your new level of fitness.
It’s like a business owner. He isn’t going to increase his income working 15 hours per week. Not. Gonna. Happen. But if he’s smart, once he’s earning a good income, he can back off on the hours worked. If he outsources a lot of crap, he can maintain his income on maybe 15-25 hours, instead of 50+.
The point is, it’s the same principle with dieting. It’s a grueling process once you’ve been losing weight for a long time – it gets tough as hell. But once you’ve hit your goal, you can ease off the thrust somewhat. This doesn’t mean that you throw in the towel completely and binge on pizza every day and stop exercising. No YOU TOOL!!
Maintenance requires that you:
- Eat more calories than you were during the diet, but still a sensible amount.
- Continue to eat fairly clean. 80/20 rule fellas.
- Do a little less cardio than previously, but only a little.
The only possible cause of people somehow thinking that they can go back to their previous ways of living without doing ANY WORK for maintenance, as far as I’m aware, is a mindset of entitlement. Just act properly for a couple of weeks or months or whatever and their life will be sorted forever. It will magically land on a plate for them. No, no, no, no, no.
Not Enough Structure OR Freedom
I wrote an article on my thoughts on one of Paul Revelia’s videos here, talking about structure AND freedom within a diet. Most people screw both up. Structure requires that:
- You’re eating fairly consistent calorie deficits – ideally modest deficits (unless you’re doing a mid-bulk mini-cut)
- You’ve got fairly consistent eating times
Failing to do the above will make life difficult as you’ll be at the mercy of the world’s demands. Unless you have the perfect lifestyle or you are very much independent from the demands of other people, you need some structure. This becomes more important the more responsibilities you have, and the better your time management skills need to be.
You then have a group of people who have decent structure, but mess up with freedom – you need both. In terms of freedom, this is required to keep you happy and stop you going insane from too many restrictions and too many cravings. It keeps the diet sustainable.
The group of people that mess up in terms of structure will never lose much weight in the first place. If they’re only in a calorie deficit 5 days of the week and then completely binge on the weekends (which is a VERY common problem) then they’re going nowehere.
The group that has structure but no freedom may lose weight for a while, but they’ll gain it all back again, just like the entitled people who have no idea what consistent hard work is. Fitness always requires a struggle, accept it.
Don’t think of diets as temporary things, they’re not. Think of them as goals for life quality improvement. The word life should mean until the day you die, not the next 3 weeks.
- Maintenance does require work.
- You need dietary discipline (structure).
- You need some dietary freedom (and therefore fun).