The Not-So-Obvious “X Factor” In Dieting Progress – Your Dieting History

August 20th, 2012 by

I think one of the biggest variables in a person’s progress that most ‘dieters’ are not aware of … is your dieting history. Yes of course a good plan, effort, compliance and consistency are all obvious and important variables, but what you’ve put your body through in PAST dieting efforts is the X factor in my opinion. And I’m talking even past dieting efforts that appear to have been ‘successful’ in terms of outcome/end result. The fact is that some studies have shown that full recovery from weight loss can take months or years.

For example, life-long, serial/yo-yo dieters. The people who have been wrestling with weight for the longest time, who are always dieting, or trying to, those who’ve gained and lost the same 20 lbs over and over again; it’s this group that tends to struggle with long-term sustainable progress.

Why? Well, weight cycling (yo-yo dieting) is the largest predictor of future weight gain. Yo-yo dieting does a number, and not a good one, on the regulatory hormones of the body (with subsequent effects on thyroid, leptin, fat metabolism, overall metabolism, negative effects on metabolic set point – ie, it goes up, and etc.)

If you’ve put your body through the ‘dieting ringer’, then even doing everything ‘right’ this time can still not lead you to what you deem as an optimal rate of progress, or even much progress at all for that matter. And honestly, it is what it is unfortunately. These can be the frustrating consequences of ill-advised past dieting efforts.

For former competitors for example, how lean can you get and how lean you can stay is relative to what you’ve done to your body and metabolic set point FROM dieting and competing. It has nothing to do with what you looked like on stage or how lean you got. In fact, that extreme achievement may just be one of the big reasons WHY you can’t maintain a lean (not contest lean of course) physique year round.

So, this is more a post for awareness, understanding and education, and yes, I understand it’s not good news. But understanding what’s going on and why something isn’t happening for you can hopefully help with at least some of the frustration that comes from this. This is part of why I wrote the article Metabolic MindGames (// on the main LBC site, because it IS a major mind game to get through this.

It’s like those who are experiencing metabolic damage issues. I’ll get emails from people all the time that say that they’re rebounding, nothing is working that used to work (red flag there), they feel they have metabolic damage … and the request is, help me lose fat and get back in shape; or i want to compete again. Really?

This is representative of a lack of understanding. You can’t diet your way out of something you dieted your way into. Fat loss and any MD repair attempts don’t go hand-in-hand since what promotes the former – fat loss – does NOT promote the latter – metabolic repair. The former requires a caloric deficit (which in cases like this is already not even working) and the latter requires you NOT be in a caloric deficit – you need to be doing essentially the opposite; eating more, training less, etc. So clearly we have two mutually exclusive dietary positions here.

So, understand all this. Your past dieting efforts, how long you’ve been punishing your body in the name of being lean, or how deprived your body has been, the length, degree, severity, etc., all affect the outcome of what you’re doing now. You can be doing everything ‘theoretically’ right, but the effects of your past dieting efforts really holds the trump card.

This of course isn’t to say that it’s just over for you as there are many, many LBCers who can attest to the fact that they’ve come back and are better and healthier than ever, but there are those out there who haven’t, or who have but not to the degree they’d have hoped and this could be due to continuing the assault on their bodies for too long, making it worse (ie. well this used to work, so it should work again), not being willing to shelf their fat-loss goals for metabolic health goals (which can honestly result in some weight GAIN, but really, what’s your alternative? More of the same).

When it’s just not working, understand it’s going to need a different approach. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and adopt a big picture, long-term way of thinking.

And here’s one BIG tip for metabolic health. YOU CAN’T ALWAYS BE DIETING! You NEED to have extended periods of time, and I mean extended, throughout the year where you’re NOT dieting, NOT eating in a caloric deficit; phases where you relax, eat more, eat well yes, but more.

I’ve received a number of emails commenting on my 29-day progress pictures remarking how fast I’m changing and losing fat. True enough, it’s pretty quick. But I’m convinced a large reason for that is not just the fact that I am very, very compliant to my plan right now, BUT that I am obviously very metabolically healthy and thus my body is very responsive to a caloric deficit, which ideally, we all should be. Why? Because I am not always dieting. I have blocks of time where I relax (clearly – lol – have you see my Day 1 picture?) and eat more. My body is not always under the stress of dieting, tons of exercise, etc. It gets to rest, have some balance, etc.

Don’t overlook that important point as it’s the key to long-term sustainable progress.

Perhaps this is what you need to do – STOP DIETING for a while; maybe take a training break.