Diet Fatigue… and a Maintenance Experiment

Diet Fatigue. Its not something I’ve seen defined anywhere. But I bet all of you who have ever been on a diet know what I am talking about. Sometimes it wears on you, all this thinking and restricting and counting and denying…whatever your particular form of dieting happens to be at this particular time.

I’ve been doing this for 10 years now. That is, I started this last weight loss adventure over 10 years ago. I have been “maintaining,” more or less, for over 8 years. I guess I won’t talk about anybody else’s experience, but for me, maintaining has been an ongoing tension between a diet mindset and trying to “normalize” my relationship with food. One thing that’s been consistent about my maintenance: I have consistently gained and lost between 10 and 20 pounds over the years.

So right now, I’m tired. I’m really really tired. Bah to diets. A couple of weeks ago, on my way home from church, I bought a particular junk food baked item that I love. I’ve probably had 3 of them in the past 10 years. And I ate it on the way home. 430 delicious calories. And then I proceeded to feel “bad” about that choice for the rest of the way home. And it made me mad, that I couldn’t even enjoy a treat without angst. And I remembered for the first time in a long time why I had said “I will never diet again,” and I “maintained” a weight of 257.5 (haha, I have to laugh that the .5 was so consistent when I used to weigh back then) for over 20 years. My mind flashed on all the candy bars I ate every day (that I never eat now) and I wanted to eat all of them, right now! Fortunately, I mostly got over that feeling by the time I got home. And, BTW, its only a 20 minute drive from the grocery store to my house 🙂

So I decided to try an experiment. You know how some folks say you are sabotaging yourself by restricting your calories? So I decided to try eating more. Mind you, I’ve tried this many times over the years, and sadly, it never works for me. The rules are different for the formerly severely overweight person. ANYWAY, the experiment. I decided to log my food into LoseIt. Bu I would not worry if I went a little over their calorie allotment for me. After all, that calorie allotment was supposed to be for weight loss, and that was not my goal for this experiment. My goal was to not GAIN any weight, which is a constant worry for me. And I would log ALL my exercise, and eat all those “exercise calories” if I wanted to. I would only weigh once a week to make sure this crazy plan was not leading to weight gain.

I know for most of you, this will just be another form of dieting. But for me it was reassuring to have the parameters of logging food and exercise and weighing once a week while I experimented with eating more than normal.

I’m pretty sure I ate more than I usually do, and I did eat without guilt or angst. I’m pretty sure I exercised a little more. I think LoseIt was pretty generous with their exercise calories, but I just went with it. And the result of the experiment? For five weeks I maintained the same weight. One week it would be two pounds up, and another it would be two pounds down. But for five weeks, my weight was very consistent.

Diet fatigue doesn’t last forever. And this experiment will not last forever. According to most experts, change in your diet and exercise is actually a good thing for long term weight loss. So if you’re feeling tired, don’t throw in the towel. Give yourself a little grace, and try something new or different.

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6 thoughts on “Diet Fatigue… and a Maintenance Experiment

  1. Interesting experiment and results! It’s weird, I was really cutting back my lunches for a while, and then of course I was starving for dinner. I started eating more (and even things like buttered toast, oooh!) for lunch and guess what? I wasn’t super hungry for dinner, and I ended up eating less overall. I do think diet fatigue is a real thing, and the constant THINKING about food gets old.

  2. Diet fatigue is a very real thing. I’m thinking maybe you’ve just come up with a name for it. As you know I’ve been very stubborn about not tracking/counting/etc for a while. I actually felt exhausted by it all and the 12 week experiment with the nutritionist trying to see if we could “reset” my thyroid did not help. I agree with Shelley in that I have recently started allowing myself some formerly forbidden things and I honestly believe I’m eating less because I’m so much more satisfied. I’ve got a blog post cooking talking about some of this.

  3. Diet fatigue is real. There comes that point where you just want to eat. Just eat without thinking about it, counting it, planning it.
    I don’t really ban a lot of foods and never feel guilty for my cupcakes or foods I eat while riding. I do find myself getting annoyed when I reach for extra chips or cereal when I am snacky.

    Diet fatigue is one of the reasons I did NS years ago because I didn’t want to plan another single thing about food. I just wanted to pull my foods out of the cupboard and eat what someone told me.

  4. I know all about Diet Fatigue. I’m just coming off my latest bout with it (actually I think I’m still there). I quit restricting my food and for awhile I went nuts, but I’m starting to even out now – I’m able to just throw something away if it doesn’t taste good enough (that’s a huge deal for me!). I’m glad you are able to maintain by eating a little more. More satisfaction = more happiness in my opinion. 🙂

  5. Wow, it’s like we are separated at birth twins or something. I’ve been blogging about that very same thing the last 2 days. I’m going from abstinence of trigger foods and very low carb….to NOT. Hope your plan works well for you!

  6. Great to hear the experiment worked for you!

    Even though I know it’s hard but I personally believe a person should not be on a diet his/her entire life. It’s better to find a way to live a healthy lifestyle and indulging something that is not so healthy is a part of that. But I know it’s difficult because somehow it’s in our nature to want more after we got something that tasted so good.

    At the moment I don’t weigh myself that often but I maintain the same too and I don’t ban any foods. I have noticed I eat less because I know I can have it and when I know that I often don’t want it.

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