finding a successful method

You tried to lose weight (or put on muscle) and you successfully did it. It required you to show up at the gym regularly, create time out of your day and stick to a restrictive method of eating. But you did it. You were driven by your goal and you knew THIS TIME, you were going to win.

And you did. You successfully lost a bunch of weight that you wanted to. You made it until the end.

But when you try it out again, it does not go so well.

how it came about

When we hit rock bottom, a switch flips in our heads. Maybe it is suddenly looking at ourselves in the mirror and not recognising that person. Or looking at old photographs. Or trying out our pants that we've not worn in a few years.

Ocean Floor
Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos / Unsplash

The spurt of motivation and intent that comes from within - it is unstoppable. And we ride on that, as we should.

This is not a time to research and find the best method out there. This is a time for you to do whatever catches your fancy - whether it is a sensible training plan or a random one. Do. It is okay, you can figure it out later. Because anything works for 6 weeks.

life gets in the way

Sooner or later though, we go back to our old routine. Because our previous one was not sustainable. It infringes too much on our life. Maybe work got busy suddenly and you don't have an hour every day. Or you head out with your spouse/friends a few times a week and eating that strict diet is just not possible when you are out at a restaurant.

One or many of these reasons generally crop up and over the next few months, we steadily undo our progress. It happens.

So, you need to do this slog again. But this time, when you do it, maybe things do not go as well as they did the first time around. Does our body adapt and give us diminishing returns? Or is it something else?

  1. You know too much. The first time around, you stuck to the rules. You did everything by the book. You did things as well as you could. You didn't try to find any loopholes.
  2. You think you are doing it the same way. But you are not. You've made your own adaptations to the system, as you feel you know it well enough. Which you do.
  3. You know how hard it is. And that feels a bit restrictive going in. The first time around, you knew it was hard but you had no idea how hard it was gonna be. And once you were caught up in it, you just kept going. This time around, you let it keep going on and on in your head. Sometimes you just snap and give in. And make small palatable changes.
  4. You start tweaking it. This is an extension of knowing too much. You start making your own customisations.
  5. Things just sneak in. Either because of our prior knowledge or because we are not as strict as we are first time around, small things sneak in. For example, in the Daily9 system, from "no sugar", I move on to "a square of dark chocolate every night" to "once a week I will have 2 scoops of ice-cream".
  6. You are bored. You want a change. You know it works. But how can we do the same thing again?

Where does "eat your favourite foods" stop?

Where does one draw the line in the sand?

The issue is there's no right or wrong here. Being extremely restrictive is not a good way to go forward. Because the second you are not allowed something, it becomes larger than it is. At the same time, finding balance is the trickiest thing out there. If we could navigate it, then we would not be here in the first place, right?

an approach for second/third time around

So, how do we go about things second or third time around? It should be easier, right, as we are experienced about things? How do we build on our success and not allow it to hinder us?

scrabble, scrabble pieces, lettering, letters, white background, wood, scrabble tiles, wood, words, lift, lower, repeat, weight training, pumping iron, fitness training, fitness, weights, barbell, dumbell, persistence, repetition, reps,
Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash

Here are some thoughts.

  1. Follow the plan. Don't meddle with it. Just do it.
  2. If you want to tweak the plan, do so. Make it part of the "new" plan. Try it out for 2 weeks. Don't mess with it daily. Take stock in 2 weeks. Happy with progress - continue. No - go to step #1
  3. Behave like a beginner. If you had to write a detailed food journal and you don't do it because "I ate about the same daily", shut up. Maintain that journal.
  4. Don't skip steps. An extension of the previous point. Just don't do it.
  5. Stay patient. Give it time. See it through until the end.
  6. This time will be different. It is how it is.
  7. Start with a clean slate. No baggage.
  8. Build on your lessons you learned. For example, I don't stock any of my favourite foods when I am on the Daily9. Why? I know I need to create a bit more of a barrier between me and them.

As long as you have the intent, you can make it work. It might take longer. It might be harder.

Second time around is harder. Second time around is easier.