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Patience: A Key Tool for Diet Success

Patience. When to wait and when to make a change? As a coach, this is the hardest part of the job. Everyone wants results now. There’s pressure to make the change, but you can’t bow to it. You have to stay objective. Have to choose the right moment. – That’s what the client pays for.

Lack of patience leads to rushed decisions. Left to their own devices many do stupid things. Throw in a couple of 24-hour fasts, add in some “metabolic conditioning” work, throw in some more lifting days, go “all Paleo” for carbs. The list goes on.

  • Patience, unless on a strict competition deadline, is your friend.
  • Rushed decisions can cost you hard earned strength and muscle mass, at the minimum.

I can’t give you definitive rules on when to make a change. Regarding the value of patience, all I have for you is a client story of mine and a quote from a coach with way more knowledge and experience:

Martin Berkhan, on patience:

“Getting that lean was the easiest diet I ever experienced. It was only testing in terms of patience; but even though the diet was easy, I longed for it to be over so I could try something, anything, else. It was a waiting game, but not a fight against hunger. Many clients have told me the same. If they don’t tell it to me straight, I notice it when discussing what to do after the diet.

“Sure, I got the usual neurotic thoughts once in a while. More frequently towards the end. Most do. “Am I really losing now or have I stalled?”, etc. Water retention tends to screw with your head and you’ll sometimes see that your weight isn’t moving for 10-14 days. That’s when people are very likely to do something stupid. That’s when it becomes very hard to resist cutting calories and adding extra cardio. So most people, including coaches, do that and it backfires.

“They lose strength or just get ravenous, whatever, something happens and they break their diet, binge for a day or two, attempt to get back to where they were by doing another stupid thing once again, and then they are stuck doing that. Or they just give up. It’s like domino bricks falling one after another after a tiny little wind dust moved the first piece. It gets a lot easier when you have someone else, a coach, giving you orders, of course.” (From this post)

Client Andrew’s Story

When the consultation period was over and when discussing what to do next the topic of patience came up and we had an interesting exchange. Andrew’s words really struck me and I asked him if he’d share his e-mail. Noting how the comments of others had helped himself so much, he kindly agreed. The bolding is mine.

Weight: 170.4lbs -> 166.3lbs, Body-fat: 12.7 -> 7.9% – (via DEXA scan)

Note: You are an individual, your results will vary depending on genetics, adherence, and effort.

I wanted to send you a quick note of appreciation and let you know how you’ve helped me. I considered myself a fairly rational, methodical person. I had read all the Leangains and Bodyrecomposition.com articles – that’s sort of how I found your site. I put all of that information to use for most of 2011 and I did see some results, but around August of last year, I completely cratered strength-wise. I was yo-yoing way too much on the rest vs. lift days and generally just applied all the rules with no sense, because I didn’t have any experience. Also, I was not tracking the numbers regarding lift stats or weekly body measurements.

Taking measurements just once a week has been one of the biggest mindset changes for me. I’m finally able to relax and just let things happen and more importantly, I got to learn your system for making objective decisions about my own progress and the counting rules helped me to relax the OCD. I’ve splurged almost every weekend, drinking and/or the occasional crap food and I’ve still lost on the plan and that’s been an eye-opener. But beyond splurging, I feel much more comfortable just eyeing food and knowing roughly what I’m eating – no more fears about vacations!

From the DEXA scans I’ve had done, I’ve dropped from 12.7% BF to 7.9% between July 18th to October 26th. At the same time, I’ve gained 1.95 kg lean mass (4.3 pounds). I’d echo some of the other people who’ve written you back – people just need to relax and let it happen. People, especially us modern folk, are incredibly impatient – I was and still fight it, but if they just stick to the plan, as everyone says, they will get there. I spent nearly 6 weeks at a stagnant point, then one weekend, boom, 5 pounds dropped and I was just cut all of a sudden – it was crazy!

Keep on spreading the truth!”                                                

Add to your knowledge toolbox

It can be tricky to know when to make a change, for sure. Is the stall one that’s natural or is there a need to adjust things to keep things moving? There are many variables that don’t fit nice and neatly into a blog post. For the coach, it comes down to being able to look at the whole picture and make a decision, for people to trust in your ability to spot the patterns. For you, the individual making your own decisions, all I can say is that just because your tracking method isn’t showing progress, doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.

As I gain experience I hope to share those lessons learned in a meaningful and useful way with you. For today, let’s add “Patience” into your diet toolbox.

Other items in your toolbox:

89
Comments

Please keep questions on topic, write clearly, concisely, and don't post diet calculations.

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Nick
Nick

Andy hi,
I’ve been cutting based on the calculation I’ve made from your site for almost a month now. Progress is good and I plan on doing this for 12 weeks before I have a diet break. Do I need to recalculate my macros based on my new measurements (weight & BF) sometime during that 12 weeks period or complete it with macros as calculated in the beginning and recalculate them after the diet break ? Thanks a lot for your great advice and info they are really great.

Ark
Ark

Hi Andy,

Not sure where to ask this and I have decided to try it here. Would you recommend short cut cycles 2-3 weeks?
My current life doesn’t let me commit to the long cut regimen? Will appreciate your advise!

Thanks,
Ark

Ark
Ark

Thanks! Makes sense!

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Se não está quebrado...Dieta & Malhação

[…] da sua frustração com a sua própria falta de resultados e entendimento nutricional? Ter paciência obviamente não é tão legal quanto ficar bolando planos […]

Matt
Matt

Hi Andy,
Found a typo for you: “add in come “metabolic conditioning”” (some?)
Thanks,
Matt.

Chris Seah
Chris Seah

Hi Andy, I have been following your plan for awhile but due to the late arrival or the measuring tape, I have to push the update back by 3 weeks? Nevertheless it seems that my waist measurement have not dropped since my first measurement and has actually increased between the week I got my proper measuring tape! I know I might sound abit impatient but it is worrying me that I am doing something wrong

Chris Seah
Chris Seah

Right Andy, I panicked for abit there. All good now, thanks!

Chris Seah
Chris Seah

Hi Andy, just wanted to apologise for coming off a little doubtful or anxious. Thanks for taking the time to calm me down 🙂

Joe G
Joe G

Hi Andy,

Great site very good information and well presented. This may be a separate but related question on sudden weight loss from likely water retention. What is your opinion on daily water consumption? 1 Gal/ day? Does this help for initiating those sudden losses? I’m chilling at about 10-15 lbs above my ‘ideal’ weight for around a week now and I honestly feel thirsty all the time.. Roughly 11.4% bf. lost 11 lbs since I started 1 month ago. Thanks

Sean
Sean

Hi Andy.

This post has proven valuable not just for diet and training, but life in general. I have been prone to being impatient with many things in the past (physique, martial arts, being a musician). This post has helped me cut down on doing stupid shit and staying consistent in the pursuit of all my goals. Oh, and my diet has improved substantially 🙂

Just wanted to share my appreciation. Thanks for your site, keep up the fine work.

Sean
Sean

Cheers Andy. Will do.

Mike DD
Mike DD

Hey Andy.

Hope everything is well on your end.

Just wanted to send a quick update. As you suggested, I’ve been incrementally increasing macros every two weeks. When we last spoke, I was at: Training: 200g pro, 280g carb, 40g fat Non training: 200g pro, 0 carb, 60g fat.

I’m now at: 200g pro, 400g carb, 40 fat and non training: 200g pro, 30g carb, 105g fat.

I have started gaining a little weight (3-4pounds) so everything’s going well.

Problem is I injured my back doing deads on sunday. I’m off for 3 – 5 weeks. Would you keep macros the same as we’re rebuilding metabolism or should I do something different?

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How To Track Your Progress When Dieting | RippedBody.jp

[…] Patience: A key tool for diet success […]

Jason
Jason

Hey Andy,

I have a question about the diet break and wasn’t sure where to address it on your website.

So I’ve now done my second diet break. I experienced roughly a 10lb gain in weight like your guide below said but my waist measurement went up 2″ as well (basically all the stomach/hip measurements are up while legs and arms stayed the same). I had the exact same thing happen on my last diet break. Is gaining 2″ on the waist normal for a diet break or did I blow it?

The first diet break I went crazy with the food but this time around I was more careful with my eating and still ended up with the same results? It took seven weeks last time to get those 2″ off. I’ve only been back on the diet for almost a week now and lost 5lbs of the weight gain but only 1/4″ off my waist.

Is it likely that I just ate too much on the diet break or is there something else wrong? I’m beginning to think that my body over reacts to carbs. Perhaps I should cut future diet breaks back to 10 days.

Any insight you can give would be much appreciated!

Thanks Andy

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

If you think about it Jason, the 10lbs of water has to go somewhere right?
It could be that you ate too much, or it could be water. The next couple of weeks you’ll know as you resume your diet and you’ll see if the weight comes off again.
Don’t cut back to 10 days for the reasons Lyle said. You may consider cutting back the carb intake, but you’ll want to keep to Lyle’s 100-150g guideline.

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Why You Need To Make Adjustments as You Diet | RippedBody.jp

[…] Patience: A key tool for diet success […]

Leo
Leo

Hey Andy. Have been on your cutting program for about a month now and I have lost around ten pounds. But recently I have noticed a halt in my weight loss and I have even been gaining a pound or two. My lifts have been around the same and there is not much change in my physique according to my progress pictures. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Did you read the post on tracking?

audun
audun

Hi have tryed -10 on work days -30% on rest days been doing it for 3 weeks. With shifting hig low fat/carb. Havent had any waight loss or cm loss. Should i keep on or is it normal to start slow to? Im 180 cm 90 kg bmr 1900.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Give it another week, then consider adjusting downwards.

Taylor
Taylor

In dropping weight and increasing muscle, does it make sense to change macros for the new weight and BF %? I have dropped 4-5 pounds over the course of 3 months, and I feel like my BF % is stalling out right now (cosmetically). A change may come soon, but would a macro recalculation help?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

BMR is dependent on lean body mass. Thus, you don’t really need to adjust because of this. Refer to the Katch-McArdle equation for determining BMR.

Note: Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is affected to an extent by fat mass, but will not have changed to any significant degree by a 5lb drop, presuming you dropped fat and not muscle. (You can get a good idea of that by whether your lifts were maintained or progressed.)

Stefan
Stefan

Hey Andy. A buddy of mine is probably in the 20-25% BF bracket. His real goal is just to get leaner, not necessarily to get stronger, though he’s not against it. He hates cardio and likes the idea that he can diet and use strength training to reach his goal.

What’s your thoughts on reducing recovery based carbohydrates on a cut? I can’t find heavy scientific supporting documentation, my thoughts are that since he has a fairly high body fat% that his body will prioritize a higher fat burn compared to a lean person who would see a large catabolic reaction. As he gets sub 20% bring the carbs up to a more typical “cut” macro.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

You’re focusing on the wrong thing here. Just get him to start lifting and calculate his macro needs. Tell him to give himself a little more fats relative to carbs as he’s more likely to have insulin sensitivity issues, for now. This will get better as he gets leaner.

BKLYNate
BKLYNate

Okay, I count Sundays as the start of my week cause I train on a Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday schedule. I started the week of 1/27/13. It’s now the week of 2/17/13 – I’m looking at my numbers and honestly they look rather random, yet very similar week to week if that makes sense….

As of 1/27/13, I weighed in at 192lbs. By 2/3/13 I was @185.3lb – As of 2/17/13 I’m @190lbs – Now, here is where it gets weird My measurements since the big drop that occured 2/3/13, have been more or less the same week to week except for this week my belly to hips area are all clocking in a about -.1 less.

My Chest has been the only area of my body to increase since that rapid decline the second the week and that increased by an inch & some change.

Squats have gone up 40LBs from 155×5 -> 195×5
DeadLifts have gone from 285×6 -> 295×5
Bench remains at 165×4

I have kept my macros rather consistent and only cheated this prior weekend which just amounted out to just a few extra oranges/Cashews/Nuttella Sandwich lol. I am just not sure what to make of these numbers. Even my thighs remain the same oddly enough even though I’ve added 40lbs in a months time via squat – I thought the jump back to 190 may have been attributed to squats/muscle memory.

192. 1/27/13
185.3 2/3/13
189.4 2/10/13
190.0 2/17/13

Its my first assessment coming up this Monday(2/25/13), but in the mean Andy I’d gladly appreciate some feedback adding perspective to these results.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

I cannot do the analysis you are asking in the comments like this.

enat3
enat3

Well im not looking for a full blown analysis

But if not an analysis you’d probably say either read through comments, patience, maybe a change to my macros but that would be assessed at the assessment….and i’d guess its too early to do a diet break. Im just trying to get a grasp at what the numbers are saying

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What is the Value of an Online Diet Coach? | RippedBody.jp

[…] It allows me the opportunity to work with far more people, which gives me a broader experience base from which to draw when setting things up for the client, making suggestions on the path to take, and when proposing changes when things don’t go to plan. This experience gives me the ability to recognize common mistakes, spot patterns, and though it almost sounds silly, sometimes know by intuition rather than formalized rules what to do to spur progress. It isn’t as simple as the one-stop online diet calculators suggest, a point I’ve touched on in various articles, and recently in those on tracking and patience. […]

Jake
Jake

Great article andy 🙂

Ron
Ron

Hey, Andy:

I started up Leangains again back in mid-August and was having great success, losing about a pound per week for five weeks straight. That took me from 195lbs to 190lbs with all of my lifts going up and my body starting to show small changes in my definition. All was well. Then I hit the wall–the wall that has been referred to numerous times with clients of your’s like Kennith N. and Andrew P. in terms of the stagnant weight and measurements for weeks. I was stagnant around 190lbs for about six weeks until I decided to cut back my macros. Two weeks after I did that you came out with this article, which then lead me to Martin’s article that you referenced. After reading those two articles, and realizing that I was doing exactly what Martin said one would–and shouldn’t–do when this situation arose, I went back to my original macros.

It’s been about another six weeks since then and I’ve still been stagnant, and even having my weight slowly start to creep back up even though my macros are the same.

My questions are:

1) Is it normal for weight to creep back up before a woosh? (I’m almost back at my starting weight)

2) When waiting for the woosh to happen, how long is too long? How long do you think one should wait before they honestly say that it’s time to switch it up?

If you could just shed some light on those two questions for me, I’d appreciate it as they were the only two things I couldn’t find addressed in either article.

Thanks

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Ron.
1. Not really, though I can’t speak for everyone.
2. Good question. There isn’t an exact point. It could be you need a diet break or it could be that you need an adjustment to the macros. Don’t just go by scale weight though. See the tracking post.

Matt Graham
Matt Graham

Hey Andy,

Sorry to bug you with what may be an “if you have to ask, you already know” question, but I want to make sure I am doing things right. I am going later this week to have all four of my wisdom teeth out. I’ll have my last workout the day before (squat day, baby!) and my last day to eat fully. My question is, since I am on a cut currently, for the following several days afterward – since I will be unable to workout – where should I keep my food intake at? I know protein will be key. But should I eat at the normal rest day amount (eg -30/-35% of maint.) or lower (or higher)? I figure as soon as the dentist says go, I’ll be on track for a deadlift day. Also, would you recommend eating extra the day before the dentist? Thank you for your time and help.

-Matt

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Get you protein and fats, eat your carbs to make up the required deficit.
No.

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