The reason most people are unable to lose weight and keep it off i.e., they get stuck in an endless loop of losing and gaining back the same weight over and over for their entire life, is because they never put the effort in the first place to learn the skills for maintaining their weight loss long-term.
It’s always a 3-months program or a 6-months program which they hop on hoping to lose some weight. Then after that program is over, they gain all the weight back.
The cause for this usually is that these programs don’t have a feedback component to them. And even if there is a feedback component, the instances when they provide feedback are spaced so far apart that it becomes pointless.
You can’t improve without feedback.
Anything that involves learning requires feedback.
This is the case for everything learning-related involving humans as well as machines. Let me give you an example.
When you started to learn to walk. You learnt it through feedback loops. When you would fall down, you’d hurt your knee. You’d connect the pain to the fall which was caused by moving your limbs a certain way. So that was something that you would consciously strive to avoid henceforth.
And when you learnt that moving your limbs in a certain way allowed you to move ahead without falling down. It provided the feedback for the correct way to walk. This is what you’d try to replicate going forward.
This is how you also learnt almost every other motor skill from cycling to writing to playing a sport.
Similarly exams in school also act as a feedback mechanism.
When you’re trying to learn something new, just receiving the information from a teacher is not going to work. Exams facilitate a permanent learning experience because it puts you in situations where you have to apply the information to solve problems in real-time. And then get scored based on whether your solutions were correct.
For software applications, there’s this concept called machine learning. Machines learn by understanding what the user actually wants. When streaming services serve you different video and movie recommendations they rely on your feedback for future recommendations.
If you don’t like the videos being shown to you; if you rate some videos poorly, the software learns from this feedback. Going forward it’ll show you less of such content.
And the videos that you give high ratings to, it’ll show you more of those kinds of videos. Because your ‘likes’ suggest your preferences. They signal to the software: “I’d like to see more content like this.”
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Without feedback, software applications can’t learn. Without feedback, you cannot learn.
If there is no feedback system when you’re trying to learn to lose weight, there is no real learning. Without learning, you’d never build the requisite skills to maintain weight loss results long-term.
You may accidentally lose weight once or twice, here and there. But you won’t be able to maintain that long-term. This is what happens when people win the lottery. People who win the lottery don’t maintain that wealth for long; at least not most of them. Because they had never built the skills for sustaining long-term wealth. It is a chance event.
As quickly as the money comes, as quickly it disappears.
It’s the same thing that happens to people who try to lose weight without feedback mechanisms; without learning the skills.
Weight loss becomes a chance event for them. And as quickly as they lose the weight, as quickly they put it back on.
Instantaneous feedback is superior to delayed feedback.
Most weight loss programs don’t work because the feedback systems are designed in an ineffective manner; meaning instances of feedback (if any) are spaced so far apart (once a week, or worse, once a month) that there is no real learning being done.
The highest quality feedback is always instantaneous.
Imagine this. When you touch something which is at a very high temperature, your brain instantly receives feedback that this is painful and you should remove your hand.
That protects you from getting injured. Now, imagine if this signal took 10 minutes to reach your brain. You’d have already caused damage to your skin.
If you’re cooking a dish and there is someone watching over you who knows how to cook it right. If they correct you while you are making a mistake, there won’t be any damage done. As soon as they corrected you, you would have learnt what needed to be done and the end product would still be good.
Imagine if you had got feedback only after having cooked the entire dish.
After you had cooked the entire dish, they pinpoint the steps where you made mistakes and advise you not to repeat it the next time. The next time you cooked the same dish two weeks later, say you did not make that mistake. But you made some other mistake instead. And they again corrected you after the entire thing was done.
You can see how the longer the feedback takes, the longer the learning takes.
A recipe that could have taken you just one or two days to learn with instant feedback would now take you probably weeks or months because the feedback is so spaced apart.
When you are trying to optimise something for learning in the most effective manner. You want feedback to be instantaneous, like it is in the case of our biology.
When you hit yourself with a hammer, you know instantly that this is something painful. And that you should not repeat this action. The pain is instantaneous. The learning is instantaneous.
For most things in the real world, instantaneous feedback is not really possible. But we can strive to get as close to instantaneous as possible so that learning becomes more efficient.
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When it comes to weight loss, frequent feedback makes it easy to process new information as well.
It causes less overwhelm. It causes you to feel like you are learning things in small chunks instead of learning everything all at once.
If I were to tell you everything about diet, nutrition and exercise that I have learnt over a decade, within the span of 1-2 days, you would not be able to process all of that. You would not be able to connect what you were learning to things you were experiencing in the real world.
Here’s an analogy so you can understand this better.
Imagine you were learning how to drive.
Would it be easy if your driving instructor was teaching you to brake as you were approaching a speed-breaker?
So you’re approaching the speed-breaker and he/she is instructing you that— this is when you should brake; you should push the brake slowly so that you slow down as you approach the speed-breaker.
And if you’re not able to brake on time, you’d feel the rough bump from going over the speed-breaker at high speed.
There would be instant feedback. And you would not repeat the mistake for the next speed-breaker.
Similarly, if the instructor taught you how to reverse as you were moving out of the parking lot, will that create a better learning experience for you compared to if the instructor just taught you about braking, reversing, acceleration and gear-shifting— all of this in one 30 minute session while you were seated inside a room?
In the latter instance, you won’t be able to connect that to a real life scenario. When you are driving; as you are coming across these different hurdles, the instructor gives you feedback regarding what you should be doing and what you should not be doing; what you’re probably doing wrong.
And you are able to correct on the go. This accelerates (no pun intended) the learning process.
Tired of losing and regaining the same weight over and over?
Similarly when it comes to losing weight, there are different situations that can come up during your journey.
You could be dealing with stress which causes you to snack on food. You could have to go out for an event. How do you handle that? You could have cravings, you could have to travel. How do you handle your workouts and nutrition then? You could have busy and stressful weeks.
You could have other specific issues that come up. Like not being able to hit your protein targets or not being able to get your steps in. Maybe your workouts are taking too long and you would still like to see results, but cannot spend all day at the gym.
You can see there are so many situations that could come up and it is impossible to address all of these at once; especially if these things are not relevant for you.
For example, you may not have a lot of travel related issues because you’re always based out of one place. But for someone else, they could be traveling all the time. The problems they face would be different from the ones you face despite having similar goals.
If everything were to be bundled together and be served to you as a one-size-fits-all package, you would not learn anything because you would not be able to connect the learnings to any kind of real world problem that you’re facing at the moment.
There could be problems that you’re not facing at the moment, but which you could face 2-3 months down the line. There is no point talking about those right now, because you won’t be able to relate that to anything you’re experiencing.
It would be like teaching you about parallel parking, reversing, braking when you have not even encountered any of the situations in the real world while in a car. The information would seem nice to know when you are hearing it, but you wouldn’t be able to digest and internalise it.
Because there is no reference point in the real-world for you to process that information.
For most people, they are not even aware that when they’re looking to lose weight, these are the kind of solutions they should be looking for. They’re always hunting for the next magic diet, meal plan or workout routine.
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That exercise program or diet plan that you get from someone is like a driver’s manual or a car manual.
It does nothing to solve problems that you encounter on a day-to-day basis.
It doesn’t provide you feedback when you’re encountering different situations in your daily life. What do you do when you’re not able to adhere to a certain part of the program? Do you have a feedback loop at that moment which tells you what you’re doing wrong or what you could be doing instead?
Because if you don’t have that in place, you’d never learn the skills for losing weight and keeping it off successfully.
That’s why even though you manage to lose some weight following some kind of diet or exercise routine. As soon as you hit a real-world roadblock, you’re not able to figure out a solution to that.
For example, I have had clients who have no trouble getting 10,000-15,000 steps done in a day.
It’s effortless for them because their job keeps them so active. At the same time, I have had clients who struggle to get even 500-1,000 steps done in a day because their job doesn’t require them to move at all.
So there are different problems faced by different people. And it is only when the problems arise that you can form strategies through feedback in order to understand how you can deal with them.
Otherwise weight loss is really as simple as eating less and moving more.
Getting rich is as simple as saving and investing more; spending less. But why are people not able to do that?
When you give someone a lumpsum amount of money through the lottery, why are they not able to build long-term wealth?
Because the problems are different. There are mindset blocks. There are problems with chronic habits that are not conducive to achieving those goals.
In order to fix this, you need feedback that is regular in nature. You need feedback that is as close to instantaneous as possible. And you need feedback from someone who knows what they’re doing.
Feedback from all kinds of sources is not good feedback.
If someone with polar opposite taste used your Netflix and YouTube accounts to rate and like different videos, what do you think would happen to your recommendations?
They’d be all messed up. Because the feedback is not from you. The feedback is from some other person. So the software has learned things that it should not have been learning.
Similarly, if there is someone who does not know what they’re doing and they’re giving you feedback. You are learning the wrong things and you will not be able to achieve the results you want.
So look for people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to getting you the results you want. And make sure that whenever you follow any kind of program, diet or regime that promises to get you to a weight loss goal, it has some kind of feedback mechanism in place.
Because like I said in the beginning. You can’t improve without feedback.
Improve the quality and effectiveness of your feedback loops. And you will achieve permanent results.
If you have been trying to reach your weight loss goals for a while now, but are struggling a bit in the process.
It’s probably because of a lack of consistency, a lack of guidance or a lack of support.
If you’d like a 24×7 support system to hold your hand and guide you through the process till you get to your goals, you should consider 1-on-1 coaching with Workday Physique.