Is it time to start from scratch with your weight loss program or should you just tweak your program to make it better?
The answer is ALWAYS tweak, never “Start Over”!
To start over is to throw away a lot of your most valuable learning and to set your lifestyle back weeks, months, and even years! To fully grasp and internalize this truth you must accept the belief that failures are lessons in the form of frustration and pain. In fact, failures may be the most valuable lessons that you ever learn, some might say they may be the only lessons worth truly internalizing because they are 100% applicable to you and your life.
When we start over and throw out the failures, we throw out the BEST learning known to man and woman. There is literally no situation where I can say just starting over with an entirely different weight loss program is the right answer.
The more cynical among us may be asking, "What about someone who is just eating junk food and sitting on a couch all day?" Shouldn't they start over?
Even they have likely tried and failed many times before. The problem is they view their failures as evidence that life will not change rather than evidence of progress.
We believe that no "weight problem" is unsolvable...NONE. Difficult? Yes. Impossible to solve? Never.
This is science, people, it's either the science of biochemistry, neurochemistry, or psychology, but it's science, which is ruled by laws of nature. When we come at it like that, then there is no problem that is unsolvable as long as we don't attempt to violate the rules of the game.
Now, let's talk rules...
Rule #1: Always take our obstacles with us to the next tweak that we make to our lifestyle because our greatest opportunities can be found there in what derailed us in the past.
Why didn't it work? Why didn't I lose weight this week? Why did I promise myself I would eat lettuce and chicken breast this week and find myself face down in an empty pizza box this morning? Hmmm, that's curious. Is it because I attempted to lose weight by promising to eat lettuce and chicken breast for the rest of my life?
Look, if we fail to achieve our weight loss goals, either our choices did not fit the biochemistry of our body, throwing our body further into imbalance, or the choice we made wasn't a perfect fit for the culture of our lives.
If a lifestyle choice doesn't fit our biochemistry, it means that even if we managed to consistently maintain a particular behavior indefinitely, we wouldn't lose weight...
A good example is when I meet someone who decides to go vegetarian in an attempt to lose weight. So they cut out meat and start eating tons of pasta, bread, quinoa, and come back 10 pounds heavier.
Even if they could maintain this carbotarian lifestyle for the rest of their lives, they wouldn't achieve their weight loss goals because being a carbotarian doesn't fit their biochemistry even if they love the carbotarian lifestyle and know that they could continue it for life.
Now, if someone else follows the same low-fat, carbotarian lifestyle and loses a ton of weight but can't live without butter and cheese resulting in an inability to consistently change their behavior, then we'd say that the carbotarian lifestyle is a biochemical fit but not a cultural fit.
It's one or the other, and the only way we can get to a place where we find a biochemical and cultural fit that will lead to weight loss behaviors that we can maintain forever is to live, fail, learn, and tweak until we reach a point where we lose weight and can maintain those new behaviors for life.
Starting over every time is the lifestyle equivalent of playing the lottery, could you win? Yes. Will you win? Highly, highly, highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely.
1% better is the way we win the game. Make our lifestyle one-percent better each day by committing to a lifestyle program, assessing our result, tweaking it, and assessing again (CATAA).
Ok, so we try and fail. What do we do?
The majority of our battle will come from the cultural side of the equation. By culture, I mean environment, social, and psychology. Biochemistry is easy to figure out.
- When I eat carbs and no fat, I am hungry all the time. Isn't that interesting.
- When I eat fat and no carbs, I want to rip everyone's head off. Isn't that interesting.
- When I eat a lot of fat and carbs, I blow up like a water balloon. Isn't that interesting?
Clearly, I must find a balance between fat and carbs so that I lose weight and am not hangry all the time. To get to that space where you can know that you are not one of those people who can avoid fat without hunger and cravings, you need to try it and see.
Ok, so we've established that you never start over with lifestyle shift, you always tweak the program and aim to get 1% better each day. To make this work you need to know something very, very important...
Not everything you change will meaningfully impact your weight. That does NOT mean that you should cancel out everything that does not result in weight loss.
For example, if you start drinking 60+ ounces of water, like we recommend, but don't see a change on the scale, does that mean you should go back to drinking diet soda all day? Of course not, it simply means that you haven't yet flipped all of the switches in your metabolism to get the weight to respond.
In this example, you keep drinking the water and stack a new habit, like walking for 30 minutes a day, on top of the water drinking habit.
The rule is, if it feels good, if it feels right, keep doing it regardless of whether or not the scale moves. If something makes you healthier, keep on doing it even if it doesn't cause you to start burning fat immediately.
Now, let's talk about what to do if you're rolling right along, exercising daily, eating pristinely, losing weight and you wake up one morning, unconscious, face down in an empty pizza box...
Use the “If-Then” Technique.
- If [insert past obstacle] then, next time, I will [insert new behavior]
Just run an experiment to see if you can do it better next time. For example, "If I have a major urge to eat pizza, next time I will buy a low-carb flatbread, some pizza sauce, and mozzerella cheese and make a much healthier pizza at home.
Then, just watch and see how it works. Did it satisfy your craving despite being 1,000 fewer calories than the large pizza you ate last night. Did it suck and you ended up eating the large pizza anyway? Did it feel good to make an awesome lateral shift? Did it impact your weight? Did it impact your energy? etc.
The If-Then technique works best when you fabricate your If-Then algorythms ahead of time. They don't work so well in the moment. When you're salivating over a large, 10,000 calorie pizza is not the time to manufacture an If-Then algorhythm. The BEST time is after a failure, or when you set the goal of burning fat, eating well, etc.
Let's move on to the question, "what should I do when I don’t know what to do next?"
Perhaps you've failed so many times that you don't know how to tweak your program for better results. The answer is to go back to the foundation behaviours, go back to the basics...
- Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night?
- Are you drinking 60 oz of water per day
- Are you going for a walk each day?
- Are you lifting some weights and getting stronger each week?
- Are you eating lots of vegetables and fruits?
- Are you getting a healthy dose of protein at meals?
- Are you taking some time to relax and get your sanity back during the day?
...ALWAYS fall back to the basics!
We can dress things up and make them as complicated as we want but in the end, losing weight is about what you eat, how and how much you move, how well you rest and recover, and how you deal with stress.
Focus on changing behavior not on losing weight
1% improvement Is The Key
Improving by 1% every day would result in you being 365% better on this day next year. That doesn’t even take into account compound interest on your investment of time and effort.