Releasing your diet pressure valves for success

Last week I briefly mentioned to my newsletter (sign-up at the bottom of this page if you aren't on it!) the idea of diet pressure valves.

Or really more like human pressure valves. Pressure being the literal pressure we put on ourselves to do or achieve something.

The name diet pressure valve just sort of popped into my head on the topic of binge eating because of Jordan Syatt's suggestion to stop weighing yourself if you are someone who is prone to binge. I've been implementing that suggestion for a couple weeks now, along with only mentally estimating calories rather than tracking them in MyFitnessPal.

I've been tracking my food so much now that I know the calorie amounts, so cutting out the manual act of typing the calories into my phone after every meal and only weighing myself once or twice a week rather than every day is acting as a sort of pressure release valve for me.

The thought is that, for me, putting so much focus (and pressure, really) on my weight and appearance and eating, is building up mental pressure too quickly, which is what is causing the frequent binge eating episodes that are preventing me from my final goal weight.

Low pressure and high pressure people

Now, rather than making the mistake of offering a one-size-fits-all solution, I'd like to suggest a more customized way of applying this advice.

Humans of course come in all shapes and sizes. Slow metabolism, fast metabolism, type A achievers, hippies, cone-heads, the Slytherin-accepted, and the list goes on.

In my quarter life, I've come across a spectrum of personalities related to how much pressure they put on themselves.

Low Pressure Folks

Low pressure people tend to be more "chill". They prefer to let things come to them. They might bask in clich├ęs like "everything happens for a reason" and "if it's supposed to happen, the universe will make it happen".

For these types of people, although it may come at much initial struggle, they can greatly benefit from applying more pressure on themselves. More structure, more rigidity. They tend not to see any results at all, and if they do, they don't exactly know why it happened, and feel at the mercy of "the universe." They would benefit greatly from some intentional structure and self-measurement so they can see that they actually do have control over some things they might want for themselves.

Personally, I don't like leaving my success up to mere chance, so I lean closer to the high pressure pole.

High Pressure Folks

This type of person is already quite organized. They may track a few things here and there, or go all out and track caffeine intake by the gram.

Nothing goes unmeasured!

These folks tend to be very goal-oriented, and will often achieve everything they go after, but will turn up empty in other areas of life that they would only find by relaxing and being more vulnerable and open (yes Joe, you're talking about yourself...).

A balancing act

I think what is best is to _find where you are on the scale so you can know whether to apply more or less pressure.

More or less rigidity (tracking, measuring, tweaking).

Find the "minimum effective dose" - a term I first while listening to the Tim Ferriss Show podcast. Find the least amount of pressure to apply to yourself to reach your goal so that it is sustainable. If the pressure builds too quickly, you'll have a bust and a set back.

If you're in the high pressure category AND you have the misfortune of using food as a pressure release, you might find yourself in a situation like mine.

Boom and bust cycles

For me, I'm finding that intense diet rigidness initially works quite well, but eventually a seal breaks and I set myself back. I've been "stuck" at about 180 pounds for over 6 months now. I'll get down to ~177-178 for a day or two and then crumble, back up to 180-185 and it's always related to a binge.

The only thing separating myself from 165 pounds (my estimated 10% body fat and a visible 6-pack) is consistency.

I don't have to change anything. (This is probably true for a lot of you.)

I just have to keep going without binging and setting myself back.

This final 15 pounds is like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill and it rolling back down at about 1/3rd of the way to the top.

Fortunately, self-experimentation is my wheelhouse. And that's really all there is to it.

Self-Experimentation is key

Experiment with different amounts of rigidity, tracking, exercise quantity. Different dieting techniques - intermittent fasting, paleo, high fat, low carb, high protein, carb cycling, calorie cycling, different calorie deficits (tiny, large, average).

Don't let the pressure build too quickly

If you start binging (or whatever other pattern you keep doing that sets you back), then dial it back. Track a little bit less (while still keeping a deficit.) Stop weighing yourself, have a smaller calorie deficit, be okay with slower progress, take a diet break altogether.

Relieve the pressure and make an adjustment so the pressure doesn't build up so quickly next time around.