Changing your body physically is more of a mental process than you would expect. I can’t tell you the amount of people that have walked through my door that believe they are the failures. I have seen one too many breakdowns in my career at this point. These people believe they are an anomaly because they struggle to lose weight and keep it from coming back. Fat loss, body recomposition, and lifestyle modification all fall into the category of “tremendously challenging to achieve”. Yet, these days I see at least 10 ads a day telling me this new supplement line will make my fat disappear. Immediately people gravitate towards these flashy ads because after all it’s their favorite magazine that has helped them in so many areas. Why would fat loss advice be any different. These articles quote so called “scientists” paid off by some big whig with an agenda touting a myriad of benefits that only exist using their products. You would think that such swindling would have been died out along with bomber jackets in the 90’s. But, here we are in 2020 being fed lies day after day that we have come to accept as the truth.
The ACTUAL truth is if you have tried and failed at losing weight you are far from the minority. In fact, according to statistical data 95% of people that attempt to lose weight fail to do so in the long run. This process of ongoing yo-yo dieting is not only harmful to the body, but it is also detrimental to the mind. I’m not a decorated scientist and I don’t carry any fancy titles in front of my name. But, I do have tons of experience. Over the last 5 years my life has been completely focused around helping others achieve their goals in a gym setting. I’ve had many failures. I’ve given a lot of misinformation that at the time I thought was good advice. And honestly I am sick and tired of being lied to. And I’m sick of the world being lied to just so that companies can line their pockets. Initial weight loss is not a hard process. In fact, most fad diets and supplement lines can give you amazing results in a very short period of time. But, how long do these results actually last? Generally speaking most people that lose weight will gain some, all, or more of it back within a 5 year period. Imagine if you bought a product and the manufacturer said “In 5 years everything that this product has done for you will be worthless, in fact it will probably make your life worse.” Odds are you would put that item back on the shelf in a heartbeat.
The fact is any method of dieting can get you the results you seek in the short term. But, this is the danger that comes with an approach that cuts corners. Most of these types of diets are unsustainable long term. In many cases even a well thought out meal plan won’t get people the results they hope for. This is something I had to learn the hard way. In my early years as a trainer I had a client that worked with me for about a year and lost 20lbs of scale weight. After her first year she upped her sessions and I told her I would help her with a meal plan. We worked together and I provided what I thought was an iron clad method for her to lose weight. Did it work? You bet your ass it worked. She lost 50lbs over the next 6 months. She felt great. Fast forward, said client ends up getting pregnant. Cravings set in, etc, etc. Months pass. Post pregnancy we found that she had gained an extra 30lbs of body fat over her pregnancy. This was a wake up call for me. Here’s why, I realized that the meal plan didn’t teach her anything. It gave her a simple template that worked under ideal conditions. When conditions got rough it turned into a no holds barred food fest. This is not an uncommon experience. Countless clients have come to me and recounted similar experiences in their past. Even my best friend came to me recently for a session and recounted his experience of following a meal plan in the past. He said “It just got to the point where I didn’t want to eat certain things on the plan so I stopped following it”. And these were specifically designed meal plans that were poised to work. But, we are human and when things aren’t perfect we fall out of our routines. Especially it isn’t a routine we built ourselves.
I can recount another story from someone else close to me. My sister struggled with weight gain over most of her adult life. It had come to a point where she was hovering close tom 300lbs. She hopped on a nutritional plan that was filled with supplements that included “carbohydrate blockers” along with many other things. This diet was also extremely low in calories (500 per day). The calories were so low that people were advised to not work out while on the diet. Fast forward. My sister ends up losing close to 100lbs over the course of about 6-12 months. Sounds great right? WRONG. Over the next year or so she ended up gaining about 60-70 of it back. We have had several conversations since she started working with me about this experience. She always says “but if I had followed the plan afterwards it would have worked better.” The problem was not her, it was the plan. The statistical research will back me up on that one. And these are just a few of the many stories I have in my line of work.
The point that I am trying to get at here is: this process of up and down, diet after diet, is exhausting. In fact, it’s down right unhealthy physically and mentally. And, the thing is it isn’t your fault. It’s part of the lie you have been told. What I want you to think about is how these people felt. Or how you have felt on your own journey. Losing weight in the moment is so exhilarating. You are doing something that is challenging but makes you feel good. However, once the dust clears and the weight has been lost, the actual uphill battle begins. Unless the method of weight loss chosen was sustainable long term most people will fall off. Life gets busy. We have obligations. And health tends to fall low on the list of priorities when stress is at a maximum. And when the weight starts to creep back in all the sense of self worth that was gained with the changing body withers away. Something else sneaks in to take its place. A sense of failure. That the plan taught you everything and you f***ed up. That all your hard work was for nothing. And it only creates an unhealthier cycle of self hatred.
So, this is my advice for those wishing to change their bodies. This process is forever. Unhealthy eating habits will always be waiting around the corner. If the method of weight loss that you chose doesn’t educate you to be the boss of your own nutrition then you are wasting your time. No one can tell you exactly how to eat. It has to be something you work on little by little and decide for yourself. The more you chip away at it the easier it will become. It goes from something that is a chore to something that becomes a habit. Allow your plan to be flexible. Remember that life is a stressful place and hard times will arise. Always remember that progress will never be linear. And if you think you’re going too slow, remember the turtle won the race.
My name is Patriel Dunford and as the owner of Infinite Fitness my main goal in life is to spread good advice in the health industry and help people live healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives.