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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

How to turn weight gain into weight loss, and a slight change to The Diet

March 31, 2009

The entire purpose of The Diet is to help myself, and everyone else on the diet, stay motivated to get to a healthy weight and stay there. Usually this goal is somewhat shrouded under the veil of a competition. But for good reason: competition usually motivates people.

But that isn’t the case with everyone. Some people thrive on competition, being told that they can’t do it, being challenged by their peers. Some don’t. Personally, I thrive on the energy created around a competition. The desire to win isn’t what motivates me, its the desire to participate in a competition with others. Again, this probably isn’t the case with everyone.

This week Pat Dryburgh, the guy I’m in direct competition with on this round of The Diet, posted that he gained one pound. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal to me and I’d just keep moving forward with my diet, try to give Pat some tips via IM or something, and see how he progresses next week. But it was the language that Pat used in his weigh-in that really struck me and has made me think that we need to make a change in how we’re approaching The Diet this time.

“I don’t have to tell you that this is disappointing. I really thought I had been doing well. I know I shouldn’t be giving up, but it this has been a long, hard struggle over the last year, and I really just want it to be over with. I’m tired of it all.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt this way. And, since I do a relatively good job of keeping tabs on everyone else that has done The Diet over the years, almost everyone experiences these feelings at one time or another.

If Pat wanted to give up because of a one pound weight gain, normally I’d just give him a punch on the shoulder, telling him that his expectations are set far too high and that sometimes your body simply doesn’t react as well as you’d like it to. But this isn’t about one pound for Pat. This is about the entire process. About finishing what he started. About winning the battle, not with me but, with his weight.

Then he said this.

“So, not only have I gained a pound, but Colin has now lost 4 pounds. I feel more discouraged than ever. He has 16 pounds to go, and I now have 21.”

“I feel more discouraged than ever.” This is the direct opposite effect that The Diet has set out to create. If he had said “Now I’m more motivated than ever to get to the gym, do some running, and stay strict on my diet.” that’d have made me smile. But discouragement is not what anyone on the diet, including me, wants to see anyone go through.

So as of today the challenge between Pat and I is off. I forfeit. I will gladly find something under 20 dollars and send it to you Pat. Your encouragement, motivation, and health are worth far more to me and to you than 20 dollars.

So what is the new challenge? Of course we’re all still going to do The Diet in hopes of losing as much weight as we all set out to lose from the beginning. I think the new goal should now be to help motivate those who need it the most. If you are on The Diet your goals should be to help find more people to join us, to motivate those who have bad weeks, and to use the group as your primary means to stay motivated to accomplish your goals. The Diet is no longer a weight loss competition, it is a challenge to all that are on it to get healthy and help as many people as you can along the way.

How to turn weight gain into weight loss

I’m not a trainer, dietitian, or any other type of health expert so I can only go on my own experiences over the years with losing weight and trying to stay motivated. In week two of the first round of The Diet I gained 3 pounds.

I said “This week, I’m unhappy to report that I gained three pounds. I am now back up to 221.8lbs. However, this makes me more determined to stay on my diet, and get more exercise to make up for the set back.”

The weight gain motivated me to hop right back on and try to lose weight the next week. Why? Why did I get motivated and Pat got discouraged? It is all about identifying what went wrong the week before and not blaming yourself.

I have never gone to the gym with Pat so I have no idea about the intensity or process of Pat’s workout but to me going to the gym 4 times in a week is a great, great accomplishment. So what did Pat do wrong this week? Pat mentioned that he went over his calories by 1,000 calories on one of the days. He also weighed in while he was at the gym in the evening while his initial weigh in was earlier in the day. I believe these are factors in Pat’s weight gain this week and not Pat himself.

Our weight fluctuates during the day. A lot. If I weigh in when I wake up at 7:00am I will be at least 3-5lbs. lighter than when I went to sleep. If Pat weighs 5 pounds more at night than he does in the morning, he would have weighed in with a 4 pound weight loss instead of a 1 pound weight gain! It is that simple.

Eating properly should be the number one goal when someone is trying to lose the last few pounds (or even 20 or 30) on a diet. I believe the saying goes; abs aren’t made in the gym, abs are made in the kitchen. Something like that. Chris Fehnel and Mike Stickel do a workout called P90X. It is a rigorous daily workout that lasts a little over an hour a day for 90 days. That is a lot more than I work out. Still, they’d both agree that they key to making P90X work is to stay on the diet plan that they give you. A certain number of proteins, carbs, etc. are scheduled out per day. If you don’t follow the diet plan you will, no doubt, lose weight. But you will not see the results you would have otherwise.

Pat, you need to get your eating in check. Eat more often and hit your daily allotted calories before 7pm at night. Turn your body into a calorie burning machine by feeding it regularly. Weigh yourself at the exact same time of day each week, instead of at different times. If you are going to go over your calories for the day try to work in a short run to keep your body burning fat. Do not give up. Ever. This battle is far to worth the win to give up because of one pound. Especially when there are clear reasons why you weighed in one pound heavier. We’re all with you and we’re all here to help. I bet you will lose weight this week.

I hope everyone on The Diet stays motivated, keeps tabs on the others that are dieting and motivates them when they need it, and even tells new people that could really use the encouragement to get on The Diet and get healthy. We’re in this together and we’re all going to accomplish our goals if we help each other.