Patience: A Key Tool for Diet Success

Sands through the hour glass exploring patience

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 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.

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About the Author

Andy Morgan

I am the founder of, this is my sincere effort to build the best nutrition and training guides on the internet. Some readers hire me to coach them, which I've been doing online, via email, for the last six years. If you're interested in individualized, one-on-one nutrition and training coaching to help you crush your physique goals, let's start the conversation.

89 Wordpress Comments

  1. Brandon says:

    Thanks Andy! This is very timely, and I appreciate you sharing it. I’ve been making decent progress on my own, but it’s been hard lately, and I’ve fantasized about doing some stupid stuff. This is JUST what I needed. And I would LOVE to read more on some of the stupid stuff we do, and why it can backfire. Keep up the good work!

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      Glad it’s helpful Brandon.

  2. Patryk says:

    that stagnation points… driving me mad, but if he was there for 6 weeks.. what about 24h fasts, sometimes i cannot help it and i dont eat for more than 18-20h, just because of unviersity stuff etc, i cannot eat earlier, lost almost 17kg, but still needs to lose some weight, hope that moment will come

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      The next post will cover this. Unofficial title: “Doing stupid shit.”

      1. Patryk says:

        I’m not doing 24h+ fasts, its like sometimes i just cant stay strict to 16/8 and it changes to 18/20h, if i wanted to keep that 16/8 window, i would have to cook at home day before, well, maybe i should

        1. Andy Morgan says:

          If you can’t keep to it then it’s not worth stressing it. Overall macro intake is the main thing.

        2. Ben says:

          Consistency, along with preparation, are important. Alot of what Andy says is about remaining objective, so that you can access objectively what’s working. If your eating window changes randomly, that won’t allow you to do that as easily.

          In my exam periods while following IF, i used to make my meals for the day and put them in the fridge, ready to eat. When the time came along, there was no reason NOT to eat. This goes alot back to something called ‘Clearing for Neutral’. Get in the habit of making things easier for your future self (NoCite: studies have shown that the future self is actually concieved as a different person by the present self).

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