4 Steps To Restart Weight Loss After Stopping

restarting weight loss: it's not linear.

Restarting weight loss can be tough. Something can come up, we stop our weight loss journey, waiting for a better time. If it happens regularly, it can become discouraging, making us feel like we’re a failure.

The truth is that getting off track is part of the journey. It happens to everyone. And believe it or not, getting off track can be a good thing. It can mark milestones that are remembered as the best parts of our story. Often, challenges are how we get eureka moments that trigger big insights that allow us to repair our feedback loop.

The key to restarting is by understanding why we got off track and discovering the underlying reasons. We can then set up an achievable plan on how to restart. This post shares some steps on how to do this.

Step 1: Understand Why You Paused Our Journey

The first step in solving any problem is to understand why the problem occurred in the first place.

Unfortunately, sometimes we feel that the reason is that we’re a failure or that we don’t have it in us. This is a lie, and the fact that you’re reading this looking for a solution is proof. As long as you’re still looking for a solution you haven’t failed. You don’t fail, you succeed or you learn.

Why we pause a journey is related to the three factors of the Weight Control Spectrum. These are environmental reasons, physiological reasons, and mental reasons.

Environmental Reasons

Has something changed in your environment that may have caused you to gain weight? A shift in responsibilities that has forced you to adjust your routines, or new external temptations? It doesn’t even have to be a huge environmental change. Years ago, a pizza chain started this deal where you could get a $5 medium pizza, hot and ready. It was such a great deal and I loved deals. I would regularly go there for lunch, sometimes even eating the whole pizza which was probably 1500+ calories. Good deal for my wallet but a terrible deal for my health. This link is an example of a similar story.

Physiological Reasons

A change in our physiology can be a reason why we stop trying to lose weight. Back pain, a broken bone, a long-term illness, or even a short-term illness can be a reason why we stop. Sometimes, even after we recover, bad habits we built while we were out of commission may stick. I remember getting into an exercise routine but then herniating a disc in my back so badly that I couldn’t go to work for a week. It took months of recovery and then months beyond that to eventually get back into an exercise routine.

Mental Reasons

Mental reasons can be one of the biggest reasons why we stop a weight loss journey. There are many examples of this:

  • The scale isn’t budging, whether it’s because it lies or because we actually aren’t losing weight. We stop because we aren’t making progress or no longer believe.
  • Increased stress can make us eat self-medicate by eating more, and we may not even realize it.
  • Something else in our life takes up a bunch of our mental energy. We then reduce the amount of mental energy we may need to support our weight loss journey.
  • Something in our lives causes us to get sad or depressed. This can dramatically adjust the hormones in our body which in turn impacts our weight.

Basically, every reason why we stop losing weight is due to these factors, or a mixture of all three. Here’s an example: because of the pandemic, people have gained an immense amount of weight. Part of it is due to the fact that many have had to change their environment to work from home, to take care of their children, to take care of their loved ones or even themselves, and also have to deal with the stress and mental load of such a dramatic change.

If you’ve stopped your weight loss journey lately, ask yourself, what is the main reason why? That will help you with the next step.

Step 2: Reflect on the Reasons

restarting weight loss: reflection is important.

Now that you have a reason for why you’ve stopped, it’s time to reflect. The reason can be simple and temporary and if so, that’s great. The reason can be deep and permanent, and that’s okay too because an understanding of this at least gives you a starting point on what needs to be addressed. Here are some key questions for reflection:

  • Is the reason you stopped due to a temporary environmental, physiological, or mental change, or will it be long-term?
  • Have you stopped because of something new that has happened in your life, or is it something that happens to you regularly and repeatedly regardless of the changes that pop up in your life?
  • Were there any specific events, actions, or feelings that may have triggered the stop?
    • Note that this question, much like all reflective questions, needs to be done in a way that is balanced with accountability but also forgiveness. It doesn’t matter if these events, actions, or feelings were “your” fault. What matters is what is done to move forward. Paradoxically, sometimes it’s BETTER if it’s your fault because changing yourself can often be easier than changing externalities. Remember that the point of this reflection is to discover actions to move forward, not to judge ourselves or others.

These reflections can often be hard to do, but when done well, can be immensely powerful for the repair of the feedback loop. If you are struggling with this, ask yourself how you usually solve problems. I often solve problems by writing, so often my reflection is done through writing. If you’re someone who is better at solving problems by talking to people, it may be worth doing these reflections with a friend, partner, or another third party.

Step 3: Use Your Reflections to Answer Two Key Questions

Now that you have more insight into why you’ve stopped, it’s now time to address the why and find a solution. Depending on how deep the problem is, it may be as simple as a micro-change, or take more time. Even if it takes time, small micro-steps can be the pathway to an eventual solution. There are two key answers that should be answered:

  1. What will I do to get back on track?
  2. What will I do if the same issue that caused me to stop comes back in my life?

The more detail and confidence you have in your answers, the better. That being said, getting clear answers to these questions can be incredibly challenging, and can take time. This is where step 4 can come in.

Step 4: Determine the Minimum Effort Action

Reflecting on the way and answering the questions above are extremely valuable. However, one additional step that is critical is to convert these thoughts into action. Unfortunately, especially if the reasons for pausing are temporary, the reflections above can provide us with an excuse to stick with status quo. The actions may also feel so big that they cause us to hold off on acting.

The truth is that the only thing that can stop a stop is going. In my experience, the best way to get started too is to make it as simple as possible to restart. Thinking about the minimum effort action that you can make right now can often be the thing that removes any friction from getting started, allowing you to restart. Ask yourself this question:

What is the minimum low-effort action that I can take RIGHT NOW to get back on the journey, or at least, prevent myself from going backward?

Even if the action is so small that it only takes 2 minutes, 2 minutes is better than nothing. By committing to a minimum effort action that gives you no excuses, you can break through inaction and create momentum.

Two Examples: Temporary Tammy and Deeper Debbie

Here are a couple of scenarios that may help you understand how this process can be used for your own unique situation.

Temporary Tammy and the Broken Leg

Tammy was off to a great start, using Luuze to lose 5 pounds in January. This success put her ahead of schedule for her goal of losing 50 pounds this year. Unfortunately, an unforeseen accident caused her to break her leg. Not only was she unable to do any serious physical activity, but she was also unable to weigh herself to track her progress. The situation caused her to not only regain the 5 pounds she lost, but she also regained another 5. Although her cast is due to come off in a couple of weeks, Tammy is pretty dejected. It’s now April and the odds of her achieving the goals she set out at the beginning of the year are unlikely to come true. This reality makes her not want to get back on the journey. Tammy reflects on her experience.

  1. Understanding why she paused:
    • The main reason was physiological because she broke her leg. This also impacted her ability to go out and exercise (an environmental shift). The fact that she’s now feeling bad because she’s behind on her goal is also a mental shift.
  2. Reflecting on the reasons:
    • The leg break was temporary and will heal, allowing Tammy to get back to the January state where she was succeeding. She just has to be patient. The trigger for this leg break was a bit of a freak accident, so there’s no reason to dwell on that, but the fact that the accident prevented her from weighing herself was likely a cause of weight gain for her. As she reflected on how falling behind on her goal made her feel, she realized that due to the accident, the goal turned from a motivator into a demotivator.
  3. Answering the two key questions:
    1. What will I do to get back on track?
      • Recognizing that the leg break is temporary, Tammy makes a commitment that she will get right back on track when her cast is off. Because she now has 55 pounds to lose, she shifts her weight loss date target to June of next year instead of forcing herself to try to make up for lost time. This allows her goal to become a motivator again.
    2. What will I do if the same issue comes back?
      • She recognizes that being active and keeping track of her weight were important factors to her weight loss success in January. She makes a commitment and mental note to herself that if she ever encounters a future situation where she is forced to limit her physical activity or will be unable to weigh herself, she will find alternatives.
  4. Determining the Minimum Effort Action:
    • Although her cast is still on now and she’s still not really in the mood to exercise or calorie count just yet, the minimum effort action she takes is to start writing about how she will get back on track. Over the next two weeks, she ends up writing a list of physical activities to do when she is out of her cast, details out her defining motivation, and now has a plan to get right back on track when her cast is off.

Deeper Debbie and her Challenges with Perfection

Debbie has been struggling with yo-yo dieting her entire life. At one point she lost over 80 pounds, but regained it all back and then some. She restarted the journey again, losing 20 pounds. She then had a Thanksgiving dinner where a toxic family members made a mean comment about her weight, triggering her to overeat. The weigh-in the next day showed her the evidence that she over-ate, and this made her feel terrible, making her binge. Terrified of what the scale will now say, she’s stopped her journey. Debbie reflects on her experience.

  1. Understanding why she paused:
    • The reasons were partially environmental and partially mental. A toxic family member was one of the triggers. The fear of the scale and what it might say after a binge was another one.
  2. Reflecting on the reasons:
    • Debbie realizes that this particular family member has always been toxic, and she always feels terrible after interacting with them. Reflecting on what happens when she feels terrible, she realizes she stress eats and binges, which causes more stress, creating a vicious cycle. She realizes this has happened regularly and repeatedly in the past. She realizes that the challenges around the interactions with this family member are not temporary and may recur on every family event moving forward.
  3. Answering the two key questions:
    1. What will I do to get back on track?
      • Debbie reflects on her prior successes and failures around weight loss and realizes that she often succeeds when she is in a positive mindset, but turns to binge eating to cope with her stress when she is in a negative mindset. She realizes that in order to achieve her weight loss goals, the issues around binge eating need to be addressed first.
    2. What will I do if the same issue comes back?
      • Realizing that her toxic family member may retrigger her at the next family event, she adds a reminder in her phone before the next event to schedule a phone call with her best friend the day before after the event to have a vent session that will allow her to get the support she needs to deal with the issue and remain in a positive mindset. She also reflects on if there is an opportunity to address the issue of the toxic family member directly.
  4. Determining the Minimum Effort Action:
    • Although it may take time for her deeper issues around perfectionism, binge eating, and toxic family members to be fully resolved, Debbie realizes that the first step to address these issues is to understand them. She starts reading articles around perfectionism and binge eating and commits to reading 15 minutes a day about the topic.

Through this process (and maybe with the support of third-parties if needed), she can eventually shift her mindset which will lead her to permanent success in the future.

Stopping is Okay! Restart Weight Loss and Make Progress Again.

restarting weight loss: you get to choose the future.
Image from the amazing Wait But Why site by Tim Urban

Sometimes when we “fail” and stop our journey, it may seem that we can’t do it. That we don’t have it in us or that our weight is our fate. This is simply not true.

Don’t quit! The truth is that we can get back on track. We can learn from our mistakes and choose a path that leads us to success. However, unless we want to just depend on luck or fate, it is important to understand why we got off track, reflect, and create a plan to make progress again.

This process of continuous tracking, reflection, and adjustment is how I lost 100 pounds and how Luuze helps you repair your feedback loop so you can lose weight permanently.

Luuze Success Story: Marianna’s Journey from Stress to Success

Marianna is a regular poster on the Reddit r/luuzers community, and one of the first people to use Luuze. When I saw her post on the success she had using Luuze for 100 days, I asked her to share her experience. Before Luuze, she was frustrated with calorie counting, but Luuze’s alternative approach has helped her find a sustainable method for weight management.

Through her first 100 days, she was able to lose 12 pounds and 4 inches off her waist. Even more importantly, she transformed the way she thinks about the weight management process. That’s really what Luuze is all about – this transformation is what helps us repair our feedback loops to support permanent weight loss.

Her insights from using Luuze for 100 days and a bit of my commentary are below.

Do you have a success story or experiences that might help others? Let me know at andrew@luuze.com.

Marianna’s Experience

no more calorie counting - Marianna, transforming her lifestyle
Marianna, at the beginning and now during her journey.

The Initial Struggle With Calorie Counting

I’ve tried various methods of calorie counting in the past and, while I’ve had initial success, I have not been able to stick with it for longer than a few months. I never learned anything that “stuck” with calorie counting and I always felt sort of embarrassed that I had to do it. 

I initially found Luuze through an ad on Reddit and noticed a bunch of comments about how it was a rare “good ad.” I read Andrew’s story and felt like the method made sense.  As someone who has always been interested in data, I instantly realized the power of daily data and focusing on the trend. I also just liked Andrew’s philosophy. I was on a different weight management program and was hating every second of it, so I decided to try Luuze for a few weeks just to see how it felt. 

Learning with Luuze

Luuze helped me think more about the specific factors that influence my weight. So instead of just following someone else’s formula by calorie counting, I had to figure out how to get it right myself. I felt more able to eat things I enjoy and just figure out how to balance them out. Luuze also helped me get over the fear of weighing myself. I used to avoid weekly weigh-ins because I didn’t want to see the number. Now that I do it every day it feels much less scary. 

I have had my share of gains and plateaus since starting Luuze. When those happen, I try to reflect on what I’ve done differently and see if I can pinpoint one or two key differences. Then I try to take action on those items the next day. I snapped out of a plateau by reminding myself what worked for me during my first month. It’s common sense but I just went back to doing that and got back on track. It’s easy to drift away from the goal since I don’t count calories but the daily weigh-ins really keep me honest. 

Progress

no more calorie counting - Marianna's weight chart
Marianna’s chart for the first 100 days of using Luuze.

I’m eating more intuitively and I’m just so much less stressed about food. That has given me the energy to encourage others, enjoy time with my family, and exercise.

Another source of my success is being organized about meals. So while I’m not counting calories, I am being intentional about meal planning. I try to prepare as many lunches and dinners over the weekend as possible. This leaves me time and energy during the week to just live. It allows me to make plans when I’m in the right head space and benefit from those plans when things get busy or stressful. 

In 100 days with Luuze I’ve lost about 12 lbs and 4 inches around my waist. I’ve also increased my daily exercise from about 25 minutes per day to 65 minutes per day. I truly believe this is partly due to not spending so much mental energy on calorie counting. 

Beyond the accountability of daily weigh-ins, I have also built other accountability strategies into my daily life. I know from previous attempts at weight loss that increasing exercise helps me do a better job making good food choices. Before I started Luuze, I started using StepBet to give myself accountability for walking a certain number of steps per day. After a month of using it privately, I decided to sign up with a friend for a virtual 17.75k race. Preparing for that has kept me motivated to walk every day and I’ll be finishing that in a few weeks.

One month after starting Luuze, I decided to add strength training to my routine. I chose kettlebells because it’s something I can do at home while my toddler naps and I don’t need much equipment. I added accountability to the equation by finding a personal trainer. I’m working with him now once a week. 

Andrew’s Thoughts

Even though Marianna is still progressing in her journey, Here are some of my thoughts from Marianna’s story:

A weight management program you hate is one you may give up on.

Don’t get me wrong: weight management can feel like a slog, and I’m not necessarily asking you to love the process of losing weight. Every weight loss journey has its frustrations and negative points, especially when a plateau occurs.

But if there’s one thing that I see on the regular, it’s how people torture themselves unnecessarily to lose weight. If the process feels like something that you could do your entire life, the odds of its success are a lot higher. It’s why I aim to make Luuze as simple as possible for you to use, without calorie counting and all that stuff.

It’s your journey and your formula.

Marianna had to figure out a process that worked for her and her lifestyle. For her, one of the things that really helped her was planning meals for the week. Much like Veronica did, she aligned her process with her strengths.

This can be hard, but this is what the feedback loop is all about. If there was one best way of losing weight, we’d all be doing it! Instead, there are multiple methods and multiple ways to succeed, so find the way that works best for you. If it doesn’t work, reflect on why and then make adjustments. Sometimes micro-adjustments may be all that is needed, as well!

Weighing yourself daily doesn’t have to be scary.

The scale lies. Because of this, not only can weighing yourself daily be scary, but it can be extremely demotivating. This is why trend weight is a key feature of Luuze, to help turn the scale from a person’s biggest enemy to their greatest ally.

You can learn more about the benefits of daily weighing by reading this article.

Struggles can be a good thing.

Marianna mentioned that she had her shares of gains and plateaus. However, those struggles helped her build the skill of weight loss. Due to her mindfulness and reflection, she started to learn why she was gaining weight, why she was in a plateau, and over time, figured it out. Amazing!

There’s a paradox about mental energy when it comes to weight loss.

This may be the most important insight in Marianna’s story. After stopping calorie counting, she actually reduced her stress about food, which then gave her the ability to make better decisions around food. There is a real truth to this, and this is why Luuze regularly focuses on the positive. If we invest negative mental effort into our weight loss, it may impact our ability to stick with the program. If we invest positive mental effort, however, our odds of success go up. I talk about this more in my article, three ways to control your weight.

Every Journey Has Great Lessons to be Learned

Marianna’s journey, although still in progress, already has some amazing insights. Discovering these insights is actually what Luuze is all about, because this journey of self-discovery helps us repair our damaged feedback loop and keep the weight off. I’m super excited to see how Marianna progresses on her journey!

If you have any lessons to share, please do! Send me an email at andrew@luuze.com, or post on the Reddit r/luuzers subreddit and share your experience!

Fight the Lies We’re Told About Weight Loss

weight loss lies versus the truth image

Lies are pervasive in the weight loss industry. We’ve all seen the ads for 6-pack abs with no need to do any work. The special pill that will solve all of our problems.

These outright lies aren’t the most dangerous lies, however. The most dangerous lies have some truth to them but don’t tell the whole story. The lies that are true in certain situations and therefore evidence of their “truth” can be created. This evidence is then projected to all situations, making us believe the lie is universally true, even though it’s only true sometimes.

Lies like “we all have a natural weight” or “if you lose weight you’ll just gain it back” or “diets don’t work” all have some truth to them. If we take these statements at face value, why even bother trying to get healthier? It’s just not possible, right?

Well, the truth is that there’s more to the story. Weight loss is absolutely possible. If we can understand where people fail with weight loss, hopefully, we can then better understand how we can succeed. I eventually figured out how, after breaking through a number of these lies, cutting out any excuses I had, so I could finally then succeed and transform my life.

In this post, I’ll be discussing some of the lies that I’ve heard in the weight loss industry. I’ll explain the truth within the lie that makes the lie so believable. I’ll also then explain the REAL, NUANCED truth.

Weight Loss Lie #1: We All Have a “Natural Weight.”

Truth within the lie: Our genetics and physiology has a large influence on how much we weigh.

False conclusion: “Because my body is supposed to weigh X, there’s no point to try to weigh a different number.”

Truth beyond the lie: Our weight is influenced not just by our genetics and physiology, but our environment and our mentality. We can also shift our physiology, to an extent.

Yes, some people are naturally thinner than others. Others have immense struggles in losing weight. Others just need a few micro-changes to lose weight.

Just because we have a natural state does not mean we are therefore destined to be a certain weight our entire lives.

As I mentioned in another blog post, the weight control spectrum, our weight is controlled not just by our genetics, but by a number of factors. Here’s the formula:

Our “Natural” Weight = Physiological Factors + Environmental Factors + Mental Factors

The point I’m trying to make is that although genetics matter, it’s not just genetics that matter. In fact, for MANY of us, the environmental factors matter even more than anything.

Imagine going from a job with a lot of physical activity to one where you are always sitting on a desk. What do you think would happen with your weight? Would it just stay constant? No. You can see this in many professional athletes who retire. They’re no longer the same physique they were when they were playing their sport at a high level. Their new lifestyle has created a new set-point.

With the 2020 pandemic, numerous people have gained weight, yet some have also LOST weight. Their environment was drastically changed and therefore their weight “set-point” changed as well.

Yes, our genetics matter. But other factors matter too, and many of those factors we can actually control. If we start taking control of those factors, we can start taking control of our weight as well.

Weight Loss Lie #2: If You Lose Weight You’ll Just Gain It Back

Truth within the lie: If you lose weight and then go to your old lifestyle and habits, odds are that you will gain it back.

False conclusion: “I’ll just regain the weight anyways, so there’s no point.”

Truth beyond the lie: If you can change your habits, lifestyle, and rewire your brain during the process of weight loss, you can maintain a new weight.

Someone who just started her journey with Luuze inspired this post. She mentioned to me she succeeded with programs in the past. She tried food tracking and it worked for her, but once she stopped, she regained the weight.

In fact, she had a doctor tell her that if she wasn’t willing to track food for the rest of her life, she shouldn’t bother trying to lose weight because she wouldn’t keep it off and then just gain more! Talk about demotivating, especially coming from a source of authority.

There is some truth to this, unfortunately. If you do not repair your broken feedback loop, then odds are that you will regain the weight.

If you fix your broken feedback loop, however, then you will be able to maintain your weight. This is what Luuze is designed to help with.

Weight Loss Is Like Riding a Bike

Weight loss is a bit like riding a bike. LEARNING how to lose weight is like LEARNING how to ride a bike.

If you take on a weight loss program that does the pedaling for you or gives you a tricycle instead of a bike, you can go some distance (lose weight). But once someone stops pedaling for you or the training wheels come off, unless you’ve actually deeply integrated HOW to ride that bike through your journey, you’re going to fall and trip. You won’t be able to do it again, even if you understand the theory behind how you can ride the bike.

You actually have to learn how to ride the bike. Learning how to ride a bike and actually riding a bike are related but are two different things. Learning how to lose weight and actually losing weight are two different things. If you lose weight but you haven’t actually learned how to do it, then yes, you can gain the weight back.

Weight loss often fails if we don’t learn the skill of weight loss.

Food tracking and calorie counting can work for weight loss. Personally, I feel like it’s too much of a hassle for me, but for those that successfully use it to lose weight, all the power to them. Furthermore, like training wheels on a bike, it can be a crutch to preventing a person from truly learning how to lose weight such that they can permanently repair their feedback loop.

I am biased, but I prefer Luuze’s philosophy, where the focus is put on behaviour change to repair that feedback loop. The hope is that people transform their lives permanently not only because they’ve lost weight, but because they’ve learned how to lose weight permanently. That’s why there is such a large focus on self-reflection, questioning yourself, and making small tweaks that stick. Weight loss is a skill that can actually be developed.

Weight Loss Lie #3: Diets Don’t Work

Truth within the lie: Diets don’t work when they are unsustainable or do not become part of a permanent lifestyle.

False conclusion: “Diets are fake and people who promote diets are fake and weight loss is just a scam.”

Truth beyond the lie: If you can make a diet a permanent lifestyle, or adjust your diet to improve your eating habits, a dietary change can dramatically impact how much you weigh.

This lie is connected to the above two lies. Diets often cause temporary weight loss! If you go back to your normal eating habits, odds are that you will regain the weight that you lost. Change creates change… but change back also creates change back.

However, diets such as intermittent fasting and keto and other diets absolutely do work, if you stick with them. The transformations cannot be denied. There are countless examples of how people have successfully used these diets to lose weight. The difference between the people who regain the weight and those that don’t are the ones that have embraced the diet are people who have now made that diet their permanent lifestyle.

I am not a big fan of restrictive diets, personally: I love food and love it all. But the truth is that there are many methods that can be used for weight loss. You can read this article to learn more about all of the weight loss methods (at a high level).

Weight Loss Lie #4: Don’t Weigh Yourself Daily

Truth within the lie: Weighing yourself can be immensely demotivating because the scale lies, not providing you an accurate measure of your actual progress.

False conclusion: “Weighing yourself daily is bad for your health.”

Truth beyond the lie: If you can use trend weight to recognize your progress, weighing yourself daily can be a powerful tool to keep you accountable, motivated, and honest with yourself.

It’s interesting how many people have told me that they have always been told not to weigh themselves daily. I can understand because the bathroom scale can be totally demotivating.

After using Luuze, however, because Luuze calculates trend weight, they’ve often told me that daily weighing has been such a useful thing to do for weight loss. It’s one of the main reasons why I was able to succeed with weight loss, for sure.

Read more about how daily weigh-ins provide value, here.

Understand the Nuance Behind Weight Loss Lies

Weight loss is a multi-faceted topic, with a million variables. Because of this, different conclusions can be made from all the observations and experiences that people have on their weight loss journey. Many of these observations and experiences can be put in a negative light. Lies like weight loss is impossible and that we are destined to weigh what we weigh no matter how much we try.

I’m more optimistic. The fact that weight loss is a multi-faceted issue actually means that there are a million different ways to succeed. If we can find a way that succeeds for us, that we can succeed in self-transformation. Often, these lies are so pervasive because they give us a reason to not believe and to justify our current state. It was only until I started to believe when I was finally able to succeed in losing 100 pounds, and part of what helped me believe was cutting out the lies about weight loss that were ingrained in me since childhood.

Are there any other weight loss lies that you’d like me to discuss? Don’t hesitate to let me know! I’ll add more lies to this post as I get them.

Gaining Weight When Starting Exercise? It’s Totally Normal

picture of woman exercising

Did you know that many people GAIN weight when they first start exercising, even if they eat at a caloric deficit? It’s due to glycogen. Glycogen is a molecule that provides your muscles with energy. With every gram of glycogen, 3-4 grams of water are also stored alongside. 

When we exercise, especially if we haven’t been active for a while, our muscles get activated. The muscles tell the body it needs to store more glycogen. If you start a strength training program, water is also retained as the muscles are slightly inflamed due to the process of muscle repair and growth. Boom – suddenly our weight goes up. 

glycogen.
Picture of Glycogen. Source: Häggström, Mikael (2014). “Medical gallery of Mikael Häggström 2014

This weight can be upwards of 3-4 pounds, and much of it can stick around for 3-4 weeks while your body gets used to the new workout routine! Here are some references (1, 2, 3).

This is GOOD weight though. It’s not fat. It’s weight that helps our muscles work more efficiently. 

I’ve seen it enough times now in my own body, through my research, and now with people sharing their experiences with me that there is a big misunderstanding when it comes to this weight gain. This misunderstanding causes people to give up on weight loss. After all, people are putting MORE effort into losing weight and yet gaining weight!

A Simplified Explanation of Why It’s Okay

Our bodies consist of a bunch of stuff. “Good” weight is lean body weight, such as muscle and bones. Our body also retains an immense amount of water. Fat is generally the “bad” weight that we are looking to get rid of.

Because there’s not yet a super-accurate way to measure the amount of fat we have on our bodies, we depend on the scale to help us get a measure of if we are progressing with losing fat. Unfortunately, the scale measures the good stuff, the water, and the bad stuff, and doesn’t differentiate between any of them.

If you are on a reasonable weight loss plan that enables you to lose a pound a week, the scale would only go down 0.14 pounds a day if you were on track. This is less weight than a small glass of water. Just comparing your weight from the day before doesn’t really tell you anything about how much fat you’ve lost! This is why Luuze uses trend weight: it’s a way to filter out the lies of the scale. Luuze gives you a more accurate measure of whether or not you are achieving your weight loss goals.

When we start an exercise routine, due to the glycogen and the water retention that comes with it, the scale may go up, but that doesn’t tell us anything about fat. In fact, as we build muscle, this new muscle will help us burn fat faster in the future!

Here’s a real-life example of how the glycogen boost bumped my weight up when I recently started a new workout program in December 2020.

weight gain after increase - 2020 example
You can see the scale went up a few pounds, and it took some time before the weight came back down.

Why It Might Not Be Okay

Although exercise is awesome for the body and is highly recommended, it can be an excuse to over-eat. My personal experience is that I eat a LOT more when I have a regular exercise routine in my life. Part of it may be mental because I might feel like I “deserve” to eat more. Part of it may be physiological because my body is demanding additional nutrition. I have discovered that for myself, I can easily gain weight if I don’t keep an eye on my weight when I begin a new exercise routine.

It may sound obvious, but if you eat more than you burn, you will build up fat stores. If you start eating more because you exercise, you may gain weight, and not just the good kind.

Here’s an example of my weight gain when I started an exercise routine in 2018. I used exercise as an excuse to just over-eat. I used the excuse that I was building muscle when in reality only part of my weight gain was due to muscle. A lot of it was just fat being stored due to me being less mindful and over-eating.

weight gain after exercise - 2018 example
I kept on gaining weight as I continued my exercise routine in 2018, largely because I changed my eating habits.

For some people, exercise can jump-start a person’s weight loss. Their eating habits don’t change much, and they can lose weight relatively quickly with the additional calorie burn boost that exercise provides them. For others, exercise increases hunger, and it can feel like you’re eating the same amount even though you’re really not, therefore exercise won’t help with weight loss at all. That’s why it’s so important to reflect and learn how your body reacts to certain things!

What to Do About Exercise Weight Gain

It’s important to recognize that exercise can lead to water retention, but this is good water retention. It supports glycogen storage, which is a good thing for our body, allowing us to be stronger. I recommend that if you are beginning an exercise routine and you start seeing that this water retention, to just shift your goal, to compensate for the additional water weight.

Don’t worry too much about a weight plateau for the next month, but if you see your weight creeping up, be sure to check your eating habits and ensure you don’t do what I did in 2018 where I kept on gaining weight due to my increased hunger. If you are looking to break a plateau, however, check out this link for ideas.

Definitely don’t give up because you see the weight increase! Weight gain when you start an exercise routine is not a sign that you are failing or doing anything wrong. It is just a natural physiological process.

Deeper Issues: Perfectionism

sign: nobody is perfect

Weight loss is complicated, yet also simple. It can be easy, but also very difficult. I know, because I’ve experienced complexity, simplicity, easy times, and hard times during my journey.

For many of us, a few micro-adjustments are all that is needed to get success on our weight loss journey. It can be that simple once we figure out what works for us.

But figuring out what works for us can be incredibly hard. Furthermore, some people have a lot more to figure out than others.

I am a huge believer in the feedback loop philosophy, where you reflect on your daily habits and make micro-adjustments to eventually change your lifestyle and lose weight permanently.

Unfortunately, for others, it may take some time for results to show. The reality is that we all start on different spots on the weight control spectrum. Weight loss is truly harder for some than for others.

Luuze can work for many people to help them repair their feedback loops, but I’ll be the first to say that it doesn’t work for everyone. I’m not a doctor or medical professional, nor do I claim to be one. I may not be able to help, but others might. There’s no shame in seeking professional help for these deeper issues. Taking back control of our health is incredibly important!

The Negative Side of Perfectionism

Perfection is often seen as a positive trait. Having high standards for oneself and putting in one’s best effort to achieve those standards can often lead to success.

Unfortunately, high standards are sometimes unreasonable, or even impossible to achieve. Social media makes everyone’s lives look perfect even when they are having a terrible time. If we start believing that our best is simply not good enough, mental health can get impacted.

Mental effort is one of the three critical factors that influence where we are on the weight control spectrum. Poor mental health can totally derail our weight loss journey. Even if we are making incredible progress, it may not feel fast enough or good enough, so we give up.

It can also prevent a person from even getting started on their weight loss journey due to fear of failure or shame.

So if we have perfectionistic tendencies, how can we deal with this?

Andrew’s Experiences with Perfectionism

As I’ve mentioned, I am not a doctor, but as someone who has perfectionistic tendencies, I can relate to how perfectionism can impact a person’s ability to succeed. I often get discouraged or start procrastinating if I focus too much on the 5% that went wrong instead of the 95% that went right.

Flipping the perspective so I am reminded of the 95% that went right helps me get back on track.

I share my thoughts with a support network.

When Luuze first launched, it received 28 5-star reviews in a row. The 29th review was a 1-star review, and I got discouraged. A friend gave me a phone call a few hours later, and I shared my frustrations about the 1-star review. He reminded me that even the greatest apps that have completely transformed how the world works, like Google Maps, get 1-star reviews regularly. My friend provided me with a completely true and rational statement that helped me recognize that it is impossible to make everybody happy. In fact, 28 5-star reviews was a massive accomplishment.

Sometimes it takes an external source to help you see the positives. Finding these sources of support can be very powerful to keep you sane on your weight loss journey. Luuze aims to do that with its virtual coaching.

I continually remind myself about my past wins.

During my weight loss journey, I encountered days where I gained weight many, many times. I even had months where I had long plateaus, not losing weight for two months. Two months can feel like forever when you’re in the middle of it!

Andrew's weight chart from 2016 showing a 2 month plateau.
One of my two-month long plateaus.
Andrew's 100 pound weight loss journey
The plateau is barely visible in the big picture.

Luckily, I knew I had it in me to lose weight. Looking back at my weight loss history, it showed significant progress over the years. Reminders of the fact that we have made significant progress over time can help us through though the times where we don’t see perfect progress. Many people benefit from regularly zooming out on the Luuze chart, seeing that they’ve made progress over the past few months, even though progress may be stalling a bit at the present time.

I consciously practice gratitude on a daily basis.

One of the best things I’ve done for my mental health is write a gratitude diary. There are numerous sources that show doing this supports health.

If you’re actively grateful for the 95% that is good, the 5% bad that makes things imperfect will feel less frustrating. I believe that it has to be a habit that gets developed, however, and a gratitude diary where you make it a habit to fill in 3 simple things you are grateful for that day, slowly rewires your brain towards having that reservoir of gratitude that can be grabbed on to when needed.

Getting External Help

As mentioned above, although I believe that Luuze’s feedback loop philosophy can help people lose weight, it may not be for everyone. Even with Luuze’s trend weight calculations, an increase in trend weight can still not feel good, especially for someone with perfectionist tendencies. Deeper support may be necessary, which is totally okay!

A psychologist or doctor may be able to support you with issues of perfectionism. This could allow you to break through the mental barriers that prevent you from losing weight.

Researching this topic, I discovered three articles that dug deeper into how perfectionism can impact our lives. If you believe perfectionistic tendencies may be holding you back, these articles may support you:

Psychology Today: Perfectionism and Self-Criticism: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/food-junkie/202004/perfectionism-and-self-criticism

There are some terrible weight loss books out there, but Dr. Kushner‘s book 6 Factors to Fit is one that is quite aligned to my philosophy on weight loss. He speaks of two types of people that relate to perfectionistic tendencies: the All-or-Nothing Doer and the Self-Critic. This link discusses his research and provides some insight on how to address these issues.

Medical News Today: How Perfectionism Affects Your Mental Health: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323323

This article was a good executive summary of what perfectionism is. It discusses how perfectionism affects one’s mental health, and provides some practical suggestions to manage perfectionism.

Good Therapy: Perfectionism: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/perfectionism

This site was a great detailed summary of what perfectionism is. It provides signs, examples, and types of perfectionism. It also provides some additional tips on how to overcome perfectionism.

Summary

sign: wisdom, not perfectionism

Perfectionism is actually one of the major reasons people fail on their weight loss journey. The world has provided unreasonable expectations on weight loss. Instead of being okay with going slow, people often feel like they need to lose weight fast. Furthermore, photoshopped photos and curated social media profiles can make people feel like whatever they are doing is never good enough. When the inevitable plateau comes, and it almost always comes, this bump in the road can make a person give up, even though they’re making incredible progress.

Especially if perfectionistic tendencies have been built up for a long time, it can be difficult to deal with. Sometimes the best solution can be getting external help, such as a doctor or therapist. Once these perfectionistic tendencies get addressed, the odds of success with weight loss and getting back control of one’s health can increase.