Are you in that constant cycle of always trying to lose weight?
You see 10-15 pounds come off and before you know it you are wanting to lose another 10 pounds.
So you continue to do what you have been because it’s working, I mean that’s just common sense.
The next few times you weigh in you notice the scale starting to creep back up.
You are thinking about food more, you are giving in to temptations more often.
You’re getting more tired throughout the day, irritable, your workouts are getting tougher to complete, and to be honest they just suck.
Your weight is still not going down and you’re working your ass off.
The next thing you know, it’s back to where it was originally. Maybe even a few pounds heavier.
How the hell did this happen?
Chances are you did not give yourself a break from trying to lose weight.
Why You Should Give Yourself a Break
Think of dieting like work. We need breaks every week (the weekend) to help us recover from the previous week and to get ready for the week ahead.
If you just worked every single day and never took a break, eventually you will run yourself into the ground.
This is what happens when we try to constantly lose weight.
In order to lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit. Which means you need to eat less than you burn each day.
In order to get into a calorie deficit, you are going to have to watch what you eat, at least most of the time and you are going to have to be a little hungry, sometimes more than just a little hungry.
The hungrier you are, the tougher it is to say no to tasty foods. If you remember from my previous article, hunger is the biggest culprit of diet failure.
Not to mention the more weight you lose, the more likely you will have to eat even less to keep losing more weight. This is because the further you push away from where your body is used to the more you have dig deep.
So as you can see you have a lot of things building up and pulling you away from sticking to your diet.
To bring up the work analogy again, imagine you don’t take a day off for 2 months. The first few weeks might be fine, but eventually, you start to dread going into work, its tougher to stay focused, your work performance is decreasing.
So when you are constantly trying to push things and never allow yourself to get away from trying to lose weight, yes you will see great results right away but eventually, you dread eating boring foods, you’re sick of being hungry and restricting, you to start to crave tasty foods more, which makes it’s tougher to say no to little treats here and there, and then you have low energy so your workouts start to suffer.
The end result?
Slowly gaining the weight back because your body wants to be comfortable. And this happens rather discreetly.
How do we fix this?
Take a break from trying to lose weight every 8-12 weeks or so.
Look at taking off at least 4 weeks.
Your next question is probably: What does taking a diet break look like? Let’s look into it.
Your Diet During the Break
So now you know you need to take a break every so often so you can finally see the progress you want.
But what exactly does taking a break look like?
Well one thing it is not, is a free for all.
This doesn’t mean you should just stuff your face with an entire pizza followed by a large cake every day.
To use this picture as an example, when we are on a fat loss diet we want to be closer to the left side, just not all the way to left. Then while we are taking a diet break we can be closer to the middle and maybe slightly to the right.
You want to eat more food and add in some more tasty foods to the diet during this time, but we want to avoid the eat whatever mindset because then any weight you lost will come right back.
When clients are working through this phase we usually talk about sticking to the basics while allowing more tasty foods in. It’s also a good time to fine-tune some basic nutrition habits like:
- Lean protein 2-3 times per day
- Veggies at least 1 time per day
- Slow down when eating/eat at the dinner table
So when you are trying to diet for weight loss, you may be tracking everything you eat or tracking macros, weighing everything etc.
But when we are taking a break you would stop tracking and just focus on the habits above.
You would also use this time to stop focusing on seeing the scale go down. There is something mentally draining about trying to get that thing lower and lower.
Realize you are doing this for your long term progress and be ok with it staying the same or slightly going up.
A diet break could see your weight do this:
You go from 185lbs to 170lbs in 10 weeks during your fat loss phase.
Week 1 after your fat loss: 171lbs
Week 2: 171.9
Week 3: 172.4
Week 4: 172.1
Yeah, you gained a few pounds but you are now ready for another 8-12 weeks of fat loss potentially, without all of the cravings, hunger, and low energy that comes with dieting after 10-12 plus weeks.
If you keep pushing without taking a break yeah you might lose a few more pounds but you will no doubt be hungrier, higher cravings, lower energy. Making it tougher to keep losing and keeping it off.
Not to mention your workout performance skyrockets, which will help with strength and muscle.
Here is an example of how you could set up your fat loss phase:
You can run 8-12 weeks of fat loss where the goal is .5-1% of body weight per week.
Then you would run a maintenance/diet break, once that is done then you can aim for another 8-12 weeks of fat loss or continue to maintain for as long as you want.
We just want to make sure we have that maintenance phase in there at some point.
If you are finding yourself in that cycle of losing weight in the beginning then eventually gaining it all back plus more over and over. Then it’s probably time to start adding in more structure and breaks into your diet, rather than always having that vague goal of losing weight.
Have a plan. Will the plan guarantee results? No. But if there is no plan then you can all but guarantee you won’t get the results you want.
If you want more expert nutritional/training guidance, daily accountability, and a strategy fit to your specific needs and lifestyle, click here to apply for Online Coaching.