When it comes to weight loss not everything makes sense. There are times when you’ll eat perfectly and not lose a single pound. There are times when you’ll eat perfectly and you’ll actually gain weight.
It can be difficult to navigate those times, as our thoughts tend to get the best of us. I’ve found that 90% of the time the best course of action is to do nothing, and below I’m going to share a case study with you of a client of mine that did just that and succeeded.
This is part 2 of a 3-part case study series that coincides with the opening of the 1-on-1 coaching program. If you missed Monday’s case study where I show you how raising your calories can actually lead to weight loss, you can read that here.
Do Nothing = Patience
Do nothing is just another way of saying be patient. When the scale doesn’t move we feel obligated to do something – anything but nothing, to get things moving.
The pressure to take action is strong, but more times than not we make changes to our program that are completely unnecessary. And in some cases this fiddling with your program can actually backfire on you.
For example, take a look at one of my client’s progress sheet. You’ll notice something very strange that happens to a lot of people – she had sudden unexpected weight gain even though she stuck to her program perfectly.
Here’s what happened:
Being Rational vs Being Emotional
Coaching people makes things easier for me to assess a situation. I get to make decisions based on a rational viewpoint of what’s happening. Contrast that to my client who is very emotionally involved with her journey (not necessarily a bad thing).
When something isn’t adding up I can more easily advise them to do nothing so that we can wait and see what happens after we collect a little more data.
You can see from her spreadsheet that she had lost over 10lbs eating at or above 1600 calories. So for there to be a sudden jump in her weight eating at that same intake is a clear sign that something isn’t right.
An emotional person would make a sudden decision to cut calories in an effort to regain control of the situation. In their mind it seems like the logical thing to do. But these are just emotions talking, and emotions rule rational thinking.
The data shows that she was losing weight eating 1600 calories, so for her to actually gain weight eating that same amount means she’s holding more water than usual. You don’t just gain 2lbs of fat in two weeks doing the exact same things you did to lose 10lbs.
Water Fluctuations Create Emotional Disturbance
Water weight can fluctuate a lot. It’s the reason we work with weekly averages. It smooths out these fluctuations so that we can see the weight loss trend over time. The weights you see in the spreadsheet are actually 7 day averages.
When Cheryl had that sudden jump in weight it was a clear sign she was holding water. This can happen for a lot of different reasons – less sleep, more sodium, more glycogen storage, more stress, a change in medication, drinking less water, etc. But the point to remember is that this is water – not fat.
For her to have gained 2lbs of fat in 2 weeks means she would have had to eat 500 calories over maintenance every single day for 14 days. Obviously, she didn’t do that.
When In Doubt Do Nothing
When something isn’t making sense the best course of action is to just wait it out for another week or two to see what the data brings in. More times than not that weight gain anomaly will correct itself naturally and you will have saved yourself from getting caught up in the calorie cut negative feedback loop.
This feedback loop happens when you cut calories unnecessarily, which results in your body fighting back. When it fights back you end up cutting again and it just fights back more. Eventually you’re eating very low calories and your weight hasn’t changed.
Cheryl was a perfect example of the right way of doing things. She held steady for 3 weeks while her weight continued to rise. This was not an easy thing for her to do but her patience was rewarded.
Instead of fighting her unexpected weight gain with three weekly unnecessary calorie cuts, something an emotionally invested person might do, she’s now sitting at a lower weight at that same 1600 calories, and has plenty of room to cut calories when weight loss slows.
So when something doesn’t add up, take your emotions out of the decision and wait another week to collect more data. More times than not you’ll find success waiting for you on the other side.
On Friday I’m going to share the third and final case study with you. It’s going to show you the biggest trap people fall into when cutting their calories and how to do it right so that you can set yourself up for long-term weight loss.
If you need more personalized help and have yet to check out the 1-on-1 coaching packages I offer, you can do that right here. I’ve opened it up the program for enrollment this week for new clients.