The True Path of Weight Loss

Is not linear. The true path to weight loss is a little more complicated.

You do not step on a weight scale on day one and go down 4-8 lbs over the next month.

You do not get your body composition done every month and watch it go down 1-2% every single time.

You do not continue to lose 4-8 lbs every month for the duration of your efforts.

You could be absolutely perfect with your routine. Yet still not hit your expectations.

Your true path needs to be a more realistic expectation — not being perfect — for an extended duration of time.

Even if you were perfect or very close to perfect, you will not see a linear form of weight loss.

How the True Path Happens

There is actually a lot going on in your body, during the process of weight loss. The true path isn’t as simple as fat cells appearing and disappearing, or swelling and shrinking.

Losing weight is a non-linear process, most of the time it looks more logarithmic or exponential.

Even then you will take two steps forward and one step back. Maybe five steps forward and three steps back. Depends on the week. I’m sorry that’s just how it works sometimes.

You absolutely need to give yourself a minimum 6 months with this process to really see the effects of your efforts over a long-term. I think a full 12 month commitment is an even better time frame to work with.

You may lose nothing for 3 months and then suddenly drop 10 lbs in that fourth month.

In fact…

It’s been my experience that this is more likely to happen.

It takes a while for your body to catch up with skill acquisition. For you to reach intensites/weights that make a big difference or for your eating skills to create meaningful deficits.

Don’t drop off before you see results, even if it’s hard to stay motivated without seeing a little bit of progress. Find the bright spots and use those to remain motivated.

Generally speaking, if you’re completely new to training, the first thing that is going to happen are simple neurological and physiological changes.

You’ll build some muscle and lose some fat at first but it won’t seem earth-shattering at first. You may even find yourself gaining some weight at first.

*It’s water weight, exercise leads to acute inflammation at first, which causes your body to retain additional water. This may also make you feel puffy or bloated and want to give up. Don’t. It will pass in the first 28 days.

These changes occur over the first 4-8 weeks and set you up for later success. Real weight loss (AKA true fat loss) progress, and not water weight.

I’m not saying I have a perfect outline for you to view though. The true path is a little different for everyone.

You could lose 8 lbs the first month, gain 2 lbs the second month and lose 6 lbs the third month. I’ve seen all kinds of random changes like this happen.

This is perfectly normal.

Also your body will retain water more on certain days or weeks. This is especially true for women who should measure at the same intervals within their menstruation cycle. Yes, I know I just talked about menstruation, but for my female readers it’s an important consideration.

You may even put on a little muscle one month. Your sleep patterns can affect weight. Even the time of day yields changes. Nutrition that day or the day before can affect weight (i.e. carbs get stored with more water).

All sorts of little things affect your weight from day to day. This is why I recommend weighing yourself only every two weeks. Always try to do it at the same time of day too.

There are just too many variables to keep an eye on to get a really good sense of where you are at, at all times. Your true path may vary.

Expectations vs Reality

This is what everyone expects:

True Path Fantasy Linear Fat Loss Graph
We think it should or will happen like this, but it won’t.

This is what everyone witnesses:

True Path Realistic Fat Loss Graph
It may not look exactly like this, but it will resemble something more like this.

What you want to look for are overall trends. It would be easy to see your lack of progress in week and then give up.

Had you only measured every other week, maybe you wouldn’t even have noticed that little lull. Not that this is my reasoning beyond only tracking weight/girth every two weeks.

You’d miss that 4 lbs loss in week 3. You may be discouraged by week 4, a gain, but then you’d have missed out on the whoosh of 6-7 lbs in the following week.

Yes, your last week may finish up, but look at the trend. From your starting point, in five weeks, you’ve still accumulated a total of 6-7 lbs of weight loss.

This is right in line with what we’d expect over the long-term — 1-2 lbs (0.5-1 kg) per week.

Think of it like you might if you would if you were investing in the stock market.

You’re not going to sell a stock just because it had one bad day or one bad week, would you? You won’t like your returns if that’s how you play the market.

It’s better to ride out short-term changes, so long as the long-term changes are moving in the right direction.

You want to take a bird’s eye, macro-view-point. Not a short-term knee-jerk reaction.

If you are following a trend towards your goal over a period of many weeks or months, then you are doing something right.

The data you record over the long-term is what is important. Not the data from week to week, or day to day. You have to do your best to try and ignore that data too frequently. Especially if you have neurotic-like tendencies.

If the needle is moving the right direction, keep doing that.

When you flat line for an extended period of time, now it’s time to consider changing something.

Only after you’ve given a program or your nutritional programming the time to take effect. It needs time to work.

Watch the overall trend and you will be successful. Look for good patterns, don’t sweat the small stuff when you don’t lose the same or more weight week to week.

It’s about tweaking slowly over time and gradually moving in the right direction. Not starting from scratch every week.


Also published on Medium.