Exhaustion, Soreness, Anxiety, and the Worship of Punishment for “Health”

Jun 06, 2018

There are two things that are completely ineffective, that the fitness industry nearly worships: Brutally hard workouts and extreme dieting.

Now, if you’re looking to do some legit bodybuilding, you may have to do some really, really hard workouts. That kind of volume of work and metabolic stress can make a huge difference if you want to gain 20 pounds of muscle.

On the other hand — if you have a weight loss goal — it’s hard to put into words how much punishing workouts don’t help. Harder workouts are literally the last thing that would matter. And, most readers have probably tried, multiple times, and found that doing brutally hard workouts made no difference in their weight loss. So, you can stop that.

Extreme diets at least make sense in theory. Look, eliminating food groups (or worse, entire macronutrients) usually results in reducing calories. And reducing calories is the only thing that matters in weight loss. So, it works, in theory.
In practice, we find that extreme diets and rigid diet rules are the number one psychological predictor of weight loss failure.

Rigid diet rules lead to reduced well being, worse body image, and increased binge eating. Even if the “math” works, humans aren’t robots. Because we aren’t robots, humans don’t follow rules perfectly, so rigid diet rules are a path to repeated failure.

The Diet Cycle of Failure:

  1. Rigid diet rules
  2. Weight loss
  3. Something happens (obstacle, mistake, or stress level increase)
  4. Fall off of rigid diet rules
  5. Quit

Let’s contrast that with:

The Upward Spiral of Food Skill Mastery:

  1. Learn and practice food skills
  2. Weight loss
  3. Something happens (obstacle, mistake, or stress level increase)
  4. Learn and practice food skills
  5. Weight loss

An approach that’s based on practicing skills has room for your humanity. You are allowed to have obstacles and mistakes. In fact, from a skill practice perspective, overcoming obstacles is a normal part of the mastery process.

And skill mastery is fun! Humans are wired to enjoy getting better at skills. Skill practice and measurable skill increase (besides being the only driver of weight loss success) increases well-being and self-concept.

What are the most effective weight loss skill to practice? I’m glad you asked!

The One by One Nutrition Core 5 Food Skills:

  1. Waiting until hungry to eat
  2. Playing appropriate and balanced portions
  3. Eating 3 meals (usually not snacking between meals)
  4. Eating mostly whole foods
  5. Eating just enough

This is a process of learning to pay attention to, and trust, your own body.
Most people have been deliberately ignoring their bodies for years:

  • All of the punishing diets are practicing ignoring hunger
  • All of the “free-day free-for-alls” or “diet failure free-for-alls” have been practicing ignoring fullness
  • After a free-for-all (ignoring fullness) people then punish themselves with another restrictive diet (ignoring hunger)

That’s the day to day practice of ignoring your body. That’s the cause of the Diet Cycle of Failure.

When people learn to pay attention (don’t get me wrong, the learning part can take a year), then they get to stop starving themselves. They also get to stop over-eating and feeling gross.

They lose weight by doing what’s best for them.

Similarly, when people can lose weight by paying attention to hunger and fullness, they don’t have to crush themselves in the gym.

The most effective route to weight loss is actually learning to listen to your body (through the Core 5 Food Skills above) and then taking care of your body (through the Core 5 Food Skills above).

Stop punishing yourself. Get off the Diet Cycle of Failure.

Start taking care of yourself, and actually lose weight for a change.

Quit your diet job by learning weightloss skills!

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