Food Deprivation - A Losing Proposition

The process of losing weight carries different ideas for each person.  I think of vegetables, deadlifts, pullups and kettlebell snatches.  You can thank the upcoming Tactical Strength Challenge for that.

But many people think of depriving themselves, as if that's a necessity to lose weight.  I don't mean deprivation as in actively thinking we need to starve ourselves - many of us are too smart for that.

I mean deprivation in less obvious forms.  For example:

  • Holding yourself to strict daily caloric limits.
  • Needing to run or exercise in order to justify a meal.
  • Thinking we can't indulge in a meal and need to be 100% perfect.
  • Giving up stress relieving rituals such as a cup of coffee or a nightly glass of wine.
  • Demonizing specific foods (fruit, grains, dairy) even if we like them.

In some way each scenario deprives us of happiness and a healthy relationship with food.  When what we eat becomes a source of stress rather than a source of pleasure, frustration mounts.

As we get frustrated it's tempting to think there's a magic bullet or that we need big sweeping changes to our lifestyles.  But I'm a staunch advocate against both.  Instead, we need to think of small changes - performed consistently - that are going to have a big effect.

It comes as no shock that I'm a big believer in the Pareto principle - 20% of our efforts are responsible for 80% of our results.  For many people, the critical 20% is as follows:

  • Is there a particular time of day or meal when you struggle?  How can you solve it?
  • How much water are you drinking?
  • Are you sleeping 7-8 hours each night?  If not, how can you improve it?
  • How many fruits and vegetables are you eating each day? 
  • How many pullups can you do and how's your deadlift? If you're asking how that's related, let's look here.

After someone has solid answers to all those questions their 20% might be different.  But from working with all sorts of people over the last few years, at least one of those five can probably be improved.

Complete overhauls rarely work and there's a reason we've developed the habits we have. After all, nutrition is either incredibly simple or incredibly complex. The choice is yours.