So, You’re Doing A Weight Loss Challenge?

Weight Loss Mitcham

It’s never a good time to do a weight loss challenge, but now is just about the worst time you could pick to start one. 

We have been through a lot in the past 18 months, us Melbournians. 

The most recent lockdown here in Melbourne has been extraordinarily tough, for some – it was their breaking point. 

Everyone has gone through their own very individual struggles, from working mums trying desperately to juggle their job, home-schooling the kids and day to day family duties, to business owners (like myself) sitting idly by watching their pride and joy; their baby, slowly but surely crumble as the lockdowns went on and on.

It takes a toll.

And, if you’re like the vast majority; let’s throw unwanted weight gain into that mix of struggles, too. 

Remember the beginning of all this shit? When the ‘home workouts’ were a fun novelty, and Strava was getting blown up with everyone either walking or running their way through lockdown/s.

Yeah, well, I think we can all safely say the novelty has well and truly worn off.

The last lockdown was, for many, the final straw for their fitness endeavours. 

Motivation went out the window.

Eating habits went out the window.

Desire to do anything remotely positive in regards to health and fitness went out the window.

I think I can speak for almost every Melbournian when I say that we all had a collective ‘oh fuck this’ moment.

And do you know what, you cannot be blamed for that AT ALL.

Even on a personal note, as someone who’s whole livelihood revolves around a) remaining motivated to train and eat well and b) motivating others to train and eat well; I had a ‘fuck this’ moment, too.

I had a lot of them actually.

My motivation went to the lowest it’s ever been – for everything.

Training, eating, keeping engaged with my business – I had days where I had approximately 0 care for any of it. 

I get it, I really do.

Snake Oil Salesmen

I think it’s important to, first and foremost, let yourself off the hook if you have let your fitness fall by the wayside. 

What’s done is done, you can’t be blamed for it at all – so don’t dwell on if you’ve added a few extra ‘covid kilos’, you can’t go back and change it.

What you can change, is how you now respond to it – which is what I wanted to talk about in this blog.

Already, all over social media, the weight loss challenge brigade have begun their relentless marketing; like circling sharks sensing blood in the water.

They know people are unmotivated, have put on weight, and desperately want to get rid of it. 

That’s like music to the ears of these snake oil salesmen.

No matter how it’s dressed up, whether it be a ‘30 day kickstarter’, a ‘45 day challenge’ or a ‘12 week reset’ – you are being sold a weight loss challenge. You are being sold something that categorically and scientifically does not work.

As I have always said, I can actually 100% see the appeal of these – I just want to make that clear. 

To have your training taken care of, your nutrition taken care of, and guaranteed weight loss in only 30 days – it genuinely sounds good.

The trouble is though, things that sound too good to be true usually are. 

You’re Not Special

Now, I have been in this industry long enough, and spoken to enough people to know that for the majority, you will be reading this, understanding it… but still not believing it. 

Why?

Because humans are hard-wired for instant gratification, it’s built into our DNA. It’s also gotten exponentially stronger the last decade with the rise of smartphones and social media.

We are so hard wired for quick results, we are willing to blatantly ignore the rational part of our brain that can look at the facts and go; “Hang on a minute, this doesn’t add up…why are we doing this?”

We are also unwilling to acknowledge the almost certainty that we will not be the exception to the well researched and studied rule.

“I’m special so I won’t end up like those people that put all the weight back on”

These are the words used when our brain is refusing to believe that when we finish a weight loss challenge – the science, people’s testimonials, behavioural psychology studies are all pointing to the overwhelming conclusion being: you WILL put all the weight back on.

“I’m special so that won’t happen to me”

I’m sorry to tell you – and this is part of being a good coach, telling people the uncomfortable truths when it’s in their best interests – you are not that special, and it will happen to you.

The Science

Let’s look at some research by Traci Mann, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota. Her and her graduate students in Psychology of Eating did a painstaking review of every single randomized controlled trial they could find (this is one of the most reputable forms of research available).

The results were clear. Although dieters in the studies had lost weight in the first nine to 12 months, over the next two to five years, they had gained back all but an average of 2.1 of those pounds. Participants in the non-dieting waitlist control groups gained weight during those same years, but an average of just 1.2 pounds. The dieters had little benefit to show for their efforts, and the non-dieters did not seem harmed by their lack of effort. In sum, it appears that weight regain is the typical long-term response to dieting, rather than the exception

https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2018/05/calorie-deprivation

So, why subject yourself to the misery of ultra restrictive eating, a wildly excessive training regime and an absolute psychological see-saw, when statistically within 2-5 years you will be no better off than someone who has done absolutely none of those things?

When “weight regain is the typical long-term response to dieting, rather than the exception”.

Especially now, when you have been through so much in the last 18 months – why subject yourself to more mental turmoil, in the form of a weight loss challenge?

More Science

Traci Mann’s review findings also touched on combining exercise with dieting (as all of these challenges do):

Human studies generally find that exercise alone leads to less weight loss than diets alone, and that adding exercise to diets leads to slightly more weight loss initially, but does no better in preventing weight regain over time (reviewed in Washburn et al., 2014). This is likely due to low levels of adherence to the assigned physical activity over the long term (MacLean et al., 2015)”

Why do people have low levels of adherence to the assigned physical activity?

Almost every time, it’s because they have not found a training routine that is sustainable. 

By that I mean they haven’t found a place that they love, surrounded by people all on the same journey as them, and a training routine/frequency that is conducive to their lifestyle.

A busy working mum training 6 days a week for 45-60 min at a time, completely destroying herself every session? Not sustainable.

Without exception, these weight loss challenges will throw you into an excessive amount of sessions per week than what your body can handle; and while you might be able to keep this up with sheer willpower for the 30 days – it is completely unsustainable, hence the adherence to exercise dropping away as seen in the review data.

This is especially problematic right now, when the high likelihood is that you are going to be extremely deconditioned. 

Unless you’ve been fortunate enough to have a home gym set up in your garage, the chances are that you haven’t done much physical activity over the last lockdown.

And now you’re considering jumping straight back into 3,4,5 days of high intensity, full on workouts?

That Is Not A Smart Move

The odds are that you will be at best, extremely sore and unable to train for days. At worst, you’ll sustain a serious injury that will sideline you for weeks/months. 

You can be forgiven for wanting to bounce out of lockdown and lose the weight you’ve put on, I’m not for one second saying that’s a bad goal.

I just beg you to please, please consider the way in which you go about doing it.

You’ve been through so much the last 18 months, you don’t need to add the mental strain of smashing yourself for 30, 45, 60 days to lose some weight, only for it to then come back and in no time at all – you’re back exactly where you started, except with a huge amount of guilt attached to yourself now for being a ‘failure’.

It doesn’t have to be like that, though.

Find a small, personalised training studio that has a philosophy of empowering people to make long term, sustainable changes to their health. 

(And no, it doesn’t have to be us – any that share this philosophy will be just fine)

Start by making small steps toward regaining your routine.

Focus on one thing, that might simply be getting back to exercising twice a week.

Don’t even worry about the nutrition aspect just yet – habits work best when they are tackled one at a time.

Ingrain your training routine, then you can start to address your nutrition with the help of a suitably qualified expert (no – your PT is not qualified to give out specific nutrition advice. It’s actually illegal to do so). I would recommend a nutritionist or a dietitian. 

Once you have started making small changes over the next few weeks and months, all that needs to happen now is for you to remain consistent. 

A Final Word

Consistency is what’s going to get you to your weight loss goal, it is the common link between literally every one we see here at Kinetic achieve their goals. 

Seek support from the experts, develop a sustainable training routine, and be prepared to put in the work over a long period of time.

It’s the last bit where most people trip up; the concept of hard work over a long period of time is not appealing, but it’s the only thing that is going to get you to your goal.

Unless your goal is to lose weight quickly, be miserable in the process of doing it, then add guilt to the misery when the weight returns and you are in a worse place than when you started. If this is the case, do a weight loss challenge.

You’ve been through enough in the last 18 months, do you really need more mental anguish?

If you would like help to reach your goal in a safe, sustainable way and get results that last a lifetime – please hit the button below to learn more about our ‘Anti-Challenge System’.

Our Anti-Challenge System

If you choose to ignore everything you have just read and do a weight loss challenge anyway, well, I’m sorry but you aren’t the people we want here at Kinetic.

All the best. 

Sean

Sean Stokes