The “What the Hell” Effect of Weight Loss

Someone needs to stop this roller coaster I find myself on …

No … strike that …

This is not a roller coaster, because a roller coaster goes down as well as up, and though I find that I do go down on occasion, the majority of my life is spent on the uphill side.

But then again, I suppose it is like a roller coaster, because as much up and down as you experience, no matter what the ride is, or where it is located, or who is on it, you always end up right where you started.

I simply am not losing weight any more.

When I started this journey, back in 2010, I weighed 303 pounds (May 17th to be exact). At one point in 2012 I was at 236, and stayed in the 240’s for all of 2013. I know 240 is still heavy, but for someone who was over 3 bills I was feeling really good. My paces and times were getting faster, I felt good, I was sleeping better, my headaches went away. Everything was going good.

And then, in 2014, I started gaining weight again.

I am one of those people who weigh myself every day. The initial creep up was slow, a tenth of a pound gain, 2 tenths lost, 3 tenths gain, but the trend line was moving up.

I am currently 273 pounds.

I have not changed how I eat. The only change has been a reduction in long runs due to injury, and the onset of the psoriatic arthritis.

I know, I can hear you, that must be it right? But there are others out there with PsA that are not having the same issues.

I cannot figure this out. My friends cannot figure this out. My coaches cannot figure this out. The worse thing is that I feel (and this is in my own head I am sure) that people outside my zone are saying to themselves the same things doctors told me for years;

“He must be lying. There is no way if he is eating clean and training like he does he should be gaining weight!”

I hear you out there, but all I can say is … I am pretty up front and honest, so when I say this is what is happening it is the truth. There is no gain in altering the facts.

This is my last 180 days of weight tracking:


As you can see, it is a steady incline.

So, back to square one, once again I suppose.

When I started this I read everything, anything, I could get my hands on that related to my conditions (Mary Shomon, Tim Noakes, Vinnie Tortorich, Gary Taubes, etc.). I looked for research papers related to thyroid and weight loss. I ditched what didn’t make sense to me, or that I knew didn’t work for me (i.e. calorie in-calories out doesn’t work). I embraced what seemed to make sense (lower carb, higher fat) and got rid of sugar and refined carbs. The only thing I can pinpoint over the past two years that may be sending me back up the scale is (1) I added back in potatoes and rice, and (2) decreased my running.

Could it be as simple as that?

I also found a study that seemed to point right at an issue I have when I fall off the wagon. In this study participants were served a same-sized slice of pizza. For one-third of participants, their slice appeared larger than the slice being served to another ostensible participant, another third perceived their slice as smaller, and the final third did not see a second slice. All participants then proceeded to “taste and rate” cookies in an ad lib eating opportunity. A significant interaction reflected the fact that when the pizza slice was perceived as large, restrained eaters tended to eat more cookies whereas unrestrained eaters tended to eat less cookies. Emotion data suggests that the differential responses of restrained and unrestrained eaters to the belief that they have over eaten relative to another eater influenced their subsequent dissimilar ad lib eating behavior. (Appetite, 2010).

In other words, if you assumed you had fallen off the wagon, even if you really didn’t, you say “what the Hell” and really fall off the wagon.

I do this when I make a misstep.

If the calling of the Oreo is too great to ignore and I grab one, soon there after I say “what the Hell, I already screwed up so may as well have 82 more”.

This is something I had curtailed pre-2014 and something that has come back with a vengeance.

Another issue that has resurface is my willingness to forego training at the slightest provocation.

“Looks like it might rain, so guess I’ll just go home”

“I feel a headache coming on, better skip the ride today”

“Too many people at the pool, so I’ll just do it tomorrow”

The excuses come fast and furious, and the weight creeps back up.

So, that in a nutshell describes the most frustrating part of all this. I have no one to blame but myself. I know, deep inside, why this is happening, yet I let it happen. I let outside forces control what my goals are, where I want to be, who I want to be. So I need to get a hold of it once more.

There is a standard set of guidelines when trying to get on the right path, to reset the clock in order to move forward.

The first part is getting right in your head … removing the doubt, the walls, the fences, and yes the people, who are steering you down the wrong path. Regardless of your personal strength, most of us are a reflection of who we spend our time with and who are the important people in our lives. The effect they have on our psyche’s cannot be measured. Spend time with doubters, with unhealthy people, and you will reflect that as well.

Start simple, slow, and steady. I cannot train like a 130 pound rubber person. Even if I was 150 pounds I cannot train like someone in their 20’3 or 30’s. I have to train like a man in his 50’s. I have to accept the fact that my body is limited, and even my time is limited, so to set a goal of running a 7:00/minute mile pace is not a reasonable goal. All it will do is add to my frustration. This is where a good coach comes to play. Find one that understands your issues, takes the time to know who you are as an individual, and adapts your training to meet your abilities as they are and at the same time challenging you at reasonable increments. It will do me no good to have on my plan to run 12 miles in two hours.

Finally, what I think is the most important aspect, is don’t do it alone. I know some out there revel in training by themselves. I am not one of them. I need a group, or at least one other person, that trains with me, at my level, and that needs me to be there to train with also. This is motivational for me. Left to my own devices I will plop my fat ass in front of the TV on Sunday and watch football from 9 AM to midnight. I know this because I did it yesterday (though I did run 2 miles prior). I thought I was past this, and it scares the holy hell out of me to see how easily I fell right back into it. The only difference between yesterday and 2010 was that I did eat chips and drink soda all day. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with catching the game, because let’s be honest, I am going to watch the Dolphins game if it is on (even though they annoy me to the point of putting my foot through the screen), but sitting on my ass for 15 hours is ridiculous.

What else should you do?

I read recently that people who plan meals are 1.5 times more likely to maintain weight loss. (“National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)”). The NCWR also shows that limiting variety leads to sustained weight loss. This is an issue in my house that I hope to fix shortly, if God is willing and the creek don’t rise.

I am going to put below a list of articles and studies I have read recently trying to regain control. I welcome your feedback and input, as long as it’s constructive and not the “dude, it’s all about CICO” regurgitation I get from some.


  • Scientific American Mind. “Don’t Diet” by Charlotte N. Markey.  September/October 2015. pp 46-53
  • Frontiers in Psychology. 2013. “Dieting and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain”. Michael Lowe, Sapna Doshi, Shawn Katterman, Emily Fieg. Vol. 4, Article No. 577 (September 2, 2013)
  • “Smart People Don’t Diet: How the Latest Science Can Help You Lose Weight Permanently”. Charlotte N. Markey. Da Capo/Lifelong Books. 2014
  • International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. “Dietary and Physical Activity behaviors among Adults Successful at Weight Loss Maintenance”. Judy Kruger, Heidi Blanck, Cathleen Gillespie. Vol. 3, Article 17 (July 19, 2006).
  • “Getting a bigger slice of the pie. Effects on eating and emotion in restrained and unrestrained eaters”. Appetite. Janet Polivy, C. Peter Herman, Rajbir Deo. Volume 55, Issue 3, December 2010, Pages 426–430
  • “Everyday Eating Experiences of Chocolate and Non-Chocolate Snacks Impact Postprandial Anxiety, Energy and Emotional States”. Nutrients 2012, 4, 554-567. François-Pierre J. Martin, Nicolas Antille, Serge Rezzi and Sunil Kochhar

2 thoughts on “The “What the Hell” Effect of Weight Loss

  • September 28, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Aside from the psychological and motivation issues. If weight is seen as a symptom, then it might be worth knowing more about hormones and other markers over time. As you are seeing a trend with weight, you might be able to see a trend with key biometrics. These “wagons” are complex!

  • September 21, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Absolutely this! In the past when I severely regimented my workouts and my eating, I was able to lose weight. People told me to “give myself a break” because I was starting to burn our, and it’s been bad ever since. Weight is up. I’m eating more carbs than I should, not working out as much, all of it. So I totally get what you are saying. I have to find my happy medium again, which may be going back to a very restrictive lifestyle. Good luck!

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