Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29: Evolution

Charles Darwin said,
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Nowhere is that more true and less believed than in the world of weight loss.

Most people find a plan that works for them and that they are able to stick to.  Then, they grimly stick to it, through ups and downs, ins and outs, and plateaus that seem everlasting.  If they stick to the plan and work the program, they hope through sheer force of will, they will get to their goal.

That's not always true. Just as different journeys may require different modes of travel, weight loss is also a journey in which you need to be flexible.

So far, I've followed three plans.

1.) Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Diet - this was good for the first 20 pounds.
2.) Basic calorie counting at a reasonable deficit - this dropped another 5 pounds.
3.) Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss Plan - this has taken off 11 pounds.

Different things have worked at different times.  Let's go a little deeper into this.

I began my weight loss journey following the Eat-Clean Diet.  At the time, it was exactly what I needed.  I learned a lot about basic nutrition, the additives in food, and the overall ick factor in processed foods that had made up almost the entirety of my diet previously.  Because it was such a drastic change from my original eating habits, I lost weight very quickly and was extremely motivated.  After about a month and a half, though, my weight loss slowed almost to a halt.  I slogged through another two weeks and then began to research other plans.

I found some excellent websites after my weight loss on Eat Clean subsided.  I've recommended many of them before, but here are the two where I got the most information.  The first is Oxygen Forum.  Many of the participants here are extremely knowledgeable.  It can be a little intimidating, because it's not really a lovey-huggy kind of place in the training and nutrition sections.  People will tell you like it is, and, honestly, we all know, like it or not, that's what we need.  The other is Lyle McDonald's website, Body Recomposition.  This is another place you won't be coddled.  But deal with it, because you won't get better information anywhere.

At this point I switched over to counting calories.  I kept a fairly high deficit, but wasn't really losing much.  Then I began weighing my food on my handy-dandy food scale, which helped a little.  But still, I was on a plateau that just wouldn't quit.  Finally, people much wiser than I convinced me to go on a full diet break, which is technique described by Lyle McDonald on his website.  I will say right now, those two weeks were the hardest weeks of this entire journey.  Letting go of the control I had worked so hard to gain was mentally painful.

The full diet break is designed to bring your body's hormone levels back in line after a certain length of time dieting.  The plan is to eat at or close to maintenance calorie intake for two weeks.  I only hit maintenance a couple of times, and I only stayed on the break for 12 days - it was honestly all I could handle.

After the full diet break, I was astonished to see that I had actually lost a pound over those two weeks. I was now ready to move on to something different.  I was completely determined to break out of this plateau.

And this brings us to my current plan, which I've been blogging about over the past couple of weeks, Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss plan.  So far this plan is working amazingly well.  The past few days, the scale has been unfortunately still, but I have faith that it will start moving again.  I intend to stay on this plan another 3 and a half weeks.  At that point it will be time for another full diet break. (Eek!)

This may sound like a lot of disjointed rambling, but there really is a point.  You have to be willing to experiment.  Every diet will not work for every person.  That doesn't mean that you can't lose weight.  It means that you've chose a plan that's inappropriate for you at that given time.  Find another sensible plan and keep plugging away. 

Moreover, the thing that works for you at first may not work for the entire time you are dieting, especially if you have a lot to lose.  As your body changes, your needs change, your metabolism changes, and your mindset changes.  Sometimes you have to evolve to continue to be successful.

I'll leave you with a quote from a man much smarter than I, that I know I've posted here before .

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