3 Hard Truths About Sustainable Weight Loss

Ep 218 - WordPress

Losing weight and keeping it off for good is hard. 

But it becomes significantly easier when you understand these three truths…

In today’s episode, I’ll detail not only what a reality check on the true length of time it will take you to achieve a sustainable weight loss goal of 20+ pounds, but two more vital truths you need to come to accept if you want to make your sustainable weight-loss journey far easier!

P.S. The 5% Way Podcast is returning to its roots beginning in January 2023 – Screw the Scale Radio will be the new name of the show and we’ll be back better than ever with a new format, new guests, and even better energy!
If you want LIFETIME access to The 5% Community (seriously) and the exact blueprint, resources, coaching, Community, and accountability you need to feel and look your best, click here to schedule a call with me to learn more.

Episode Key Highlights:

  • Learn Paul’s recommended timeline to be spent dieting and not dieting to accomplish your sustainable weight-loss goal (which may take more than one diet to achieve).
  • Learn the number one challenge you’ll encounter when trying to maintain weight loss after a diet and what you can do to conquer it.
  • Discover how focusing LESS ON THE SCALE NUMBER is one of the key recommendations Paul has to help you lose more weight…

How I Can Help You:

  1. Hire me to build you an Individualized Nutrition Blueprint (Plan) – Learn More.
  2. Discover how high-achieving women in their 30s and 40s (and 50s) are developing massive amounts of confidence, self-love, and self-worth…  while simultaneously losing 20+ pounds and keeping it off FOR GOOD with my 5% Inside-Out Formula for Sustainable Weight Loss – Learn More.
  3. Hire A Registered Dietitian and Results-Driven Coach to Help You Develop Massive Amounts of Self-Confidence and Self-Love While Dropping 20+ Pounds for Good so That You Can Feel, Look, and Be the Best You – Learn More.
  4. Find Food Freedom Forever: Free yourself from BS food rules and the accompanying guilt, anxiety, and regret that comes with them so that you can feel excited, calm, and in control of food again – Learn More.
  5. Connect with Paul on Instagram – Say hi!


Paul Salter:

Losing weight and keeping it off for good is incredibly hard, but it becomes significantly easier when you accept these three truths: it will take you longer than you expect and hope, it will be significantly harder than you can ever imagine, and it will be far less about the number on the scale.

If you feel like you know exactly what to do to lose the weight and keep it off, but are struggling to do so, you are in the right place. Welcome to The 5% Way Podcast where myself, registered dietician Paul Salter, and my co-host, sustainable weight loss specialist Micheala Barsotti, have an impactful conversation focused on helping you uncover the root cause of the self-sabotaging behaviors holding you back from achieving sustainable weight loss. Your transformation begins from the inside out, and our purpose is to accelerate that progress by sharing practical strategies and need-to-know information to help you reclaim your confidence, control, and inner calm so that you can feel, look, and be your best.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to another episode of The 5% Way Podcast. My name is Paul Salter. I’m a registered dietician, host of the show, and so incredibly grateful that you are here tuning in. I’ve got big news for you if you have not already seen me begin to hint at it on Instagram, but as you likely know at this point, Micheala is no longer with me as a co-host. She is off doing her own wonderful thing. We wish her nothing but the best, and to be honest, encourage her to start her own podcast, so Micheala, if you’re listening, nudge, nudge, you should absolutely do that.

But beginning January 2023, we are bringing it back, returning to the Screw the Scale Podcast. Actually, more specifically, Screw the Scale Radio, where this show without a doubt will be back better than ever. I’ll be bringing on at least two different guests every single month. A big shout-out to my dear friend and team member, fellow 5% community member Nicole, who has already been kicking ass and lining up a handful of really incredible guests to begin the year. I think as of recording this episode, she’s already got five lined up, and it’s only late November, so we’re really going to hit the ground sprinting come the turn of the new year.

But what does that mean for today and through the new year? Well, we’ve still got fantastic episodes. You’re already going to start to notice a little bit of a shift in the structure and my ability to speak, my ability to story tell, and really clarify key points and action steps. You’re going to experience that right now and then we’ll come back live with the brand new refresh, show name, cover art, new show introduction, music, guests, and all of that great stuff at the turn of the new year.

But today, we’ve got an important topic to discuss. I’ve been fortunate enough the past 10 years or so to personally work with more than 1500 men and women and helped them to collectively lose tens of thousands of pounds of body fat, but most importantly, keep that weight off for good. I want to dive into three very challenging-to-accept truths that when acknowledged, embraced, and accepted, make this significant sustainable weight loss journey, which is incredibly difficult, far easier to achieve.

As I mentioned at the very beginning of this episode, those three truths that you absolutely need to accept right now to make the difficult task of achieving significant sustainable weight loss, far easier are as follows: number one, it is going to be significantly harder to lose the weight and keep it off for good than you can imagine, or likely expect. Number two, it is going to take you far longer than you hope, but also expect. Number three, as you continue putting one foot in front of the other throughout this journey, it needs to become significantly less focused on the scale.

Let’s spend the next couple of minutes really unpacking each of these invaluable truths that make achieving significant sustainable weight loss far easier to accomplish. I will admit, I got a little carried away and excited, mix-matched the order, so I actually want to kick off by addressing what I believe is most important to bring to the forefront is that the timeline to achieve sustainable weight loss won’t be a timeline you wish. It’s not going to happen overnight, in 30 days, let alone 90 days, or likely even six months. It’s going to take you far longer than you hope. When you can accept that, the journey will be far easier, far more enjoyable, yep, I seriously said it, I used the word “enjoyable,” and ultimately help you experience a myriad of different positives, and results in areas of your life you never knew existed, and that becomes incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.

But let’s break it down from a nutritional Xs and Os perspective. I can tell you that the ideal timeline to diet is absolutely different for every single person, but for most of those one-on-one clients of mine and members of the 5% community, we begin with a tentative timeline of six to eight weeks, and rarely do we push a diet phase past the 10-week mark. What I’m going to do now is walk you through a sample timeline over a 12-month period of time of what it may look like for somebody who has a goal of losing at least 20 pounds.

If you, yes, you, dear listener, who I greatly appreciate, were to come to me, and you share it with me that you want to lose at least 20 pounds, and we get all of our Xs and Os taken care of, we get our i’s dotted, our t’s crossed with the nutrition questionnaire, and I present to you your individualized nutrition plan and we outline what the next six to 12-month timeline will look like, here’s a very typical timeline for you just to help really illustrate how much of a journey a marathon, not a sprint, if you will, sustainable weight loss is.

We may spend anywhere from four to 12 weeks in what I love to call the “pre-diet maintenance phase.” It’s during this time we are not in a calorie deficit, we are not prioritizing weight loss. We are instead rebuilding our foundational nutrition habits, rebuilding our relationship with food, and most importantly, rebuilding our relationship with ourself. We’re able to accomplish a lot of progress in this area when we are explicitly not in a calorie deficit, we get to remove that stress from the equation, and use all of that freed-up emotional and mental bandwidth to apply towards working on ourselves, looking within to uncover, unlearn, and begin to transform those previous self-sabotaging behaviors that existed.

If we spend a month, maybe two, even three months here, at some point, we will reach a point of readiness to transition to a diet phase. For simplicity purposes, let’s say we spend two months in the pre-diet maintenance phase, and then we diet for an additional two months. Well, that’s already four months, and maybe of those 20 pounds you hope to lose, you lose 14 of them already. Absolutely incredible. 14 pounds in eight weeks is a heck of an accomplishment, something to absolutely celebrate, and be proud of. But where most people get overly anxious and excited is they want to push their diet longer, or they want to spend too little time in what I like to call the “post-diet maintenance phase” before diving back into another diet to really cross that 20-pound weight loss goal threshold that they had previously set for themselves.

This is a gigantic mistake. I can’t stress this enough. You need to spend adequate time away from dieting, particularly when you want to complete back-to-back diet phases. What I recommend is that you spend anywhere from 0.9 to 1.5 times the duration of your diet in the post-diet maintenance phase, where you’re gradually increasing your calories, your macros, your portions, whatever it is you are measuring and monitoring, while simply also learning how to re-acclimate to everyday life and make sure all of the changes you’ve been working on since day one continue to be individualized, simple, and flexible, and ultimately sustainable.

If we use that timeline, we dieted for eight weeks, we’re going to spend anywhere from seven to 12 weeks in the post-diet maintenance phase. To keep our numbers simplistic, let’s say we spend 12 weeks, so we went two months pre-diet, two months diet, three months post-diet. We’re already at seven months before we’re going to enter into, again, for simplicity purposes, another two-month diet. That already brings us to nine months, and maybe it is during this second diet we lose an additional 10 pounds, putting us down a total of 24. That’s assuming spot-on maintenance or weight maintenance during your first post-diet maintenance phase, which isn’t the expectation nor the case because in reality, you’re probably going to gain anywhere from one to 3% of the weight you lost back during that post-diet maintenance phase, so you can see it’s going to take you nine, maybe 10 months to finally hit a sustainable weight loss amount of 20 pounds.

Let me be clear, this is an overly simplified and generalized example, but hopefully it illustrates the point that your 20-pound weight loss goal, I mean, I could take 20 pounds off of you in a week, no problem, and you could do what’s called fad diet A, B, C, or D, or any other mode of starvation, but if you truly want to keep the weight off for good, it has to be a patient, diligent, methodical approach. That’s incredibly frustrating, and actually, it’s incredibly boring. It’s monotonous, it’s not sexy like rapid weight loss, but you’ve got to choose the monotonous route, fall in love with the process to truly keep the weight off for good. Therefore, the difficulty really lies in the fact that achieving sustainable weight loss will take you longer than you hope for, desire, and expect.

Let’s transition to truth number two. Achieving sustainable weight loss is going to be far harder than you would like and even at times harder than you imagine. I imagine, as a dear listener to this show, you’re probably pretty good at losing weight. One might say you have a blue belt, maybe even a brown belt in weight loss. But when it comes to keeping that weight loss off for good, well, that’s a far different story.

There are several reasons that weight maintenance is so damned difficult. The two prominent ones are as follows: first and foremost, at the end of a dieting phase, your body is literally primed for rapid weight regain. I mean, think about it, as you continue reducing your calorie intake during a dieting phase, your body is fighting back incredibly hard to stop the calorie deficit, get you back into at least a new calorie maintenance phase, and it does so by reducing the number of calories you burn per day, altering your appetite management hormones so you are hungrier more often, you experience more cravings, and it just constantly works to become more efficient, and to conserve as many calories as possible.

But the moment that you end your diet, your appetite management hormones are out of whack, your body is incredibly efficient at spending far fewer calories than it was when you started your diet, and you begin to eat more food, and if you don’t do so in a diligent patient way especially, your body wants to just hoard all of those excess calories you begin consuming. What does it want to store them as? No, unfortunately not muscle mass, but body fat in an effort to protect itself against future stress, in this case, the stress equating to a future diet phase, so if you don’t approach the post-diet maintenance phase with a patient and methodical plan, you absolutely run the risk of regaining that weight incredibly quickly. That is one uphill battle that you must climb.

But number two, at the end of the day, look, let’s be really clear and honest here. You know how to eat well, you know healthy choices, you know appropriate portion control, you know what to do to lose weight. You and you alone are your biggest enemy when it comes to keeping the weight off for good. There are a handful of different forms of self-sabotaging behaviors that ultimately get in the way and undo all of your hard work, ultimately leading to you regressing back to the set of behaviors, thoughts, beliefs, self-talk, and stories you told yourself in which ultimately led to you being unhappy, overweight, and frustrated in the first place.

But one of the biggest challenges that I have observed in so many people I’ve worked with over the years is this weird dichotomy of a fear of failure and a fear of success. We put this unnecessary external pressure on ourselves to maintain our weight loss, “Oh, no, we have to be a role model for so-and-so. We have to play the part for person A, B, and C,” or, “Oh, my gosh, if I do lose the weight, I’m a failure,” so this leads to us bouncing between this all or nothing mindset, getting caught in this incredibly difficult, mental, fucked position in which we begin to self-sabotage in terms of telling ourselves, “We’re not worthy, we don’t deserve to maintain this level of success,” or we develop this sense of, “I earned it,” or the case of, “I deserve it. Hey, I dieted for eight weeks, I’m down 20 pounds. I can have this cake, I can go do this, I can have a couple of drinks,” and that one particular occasion, slowly but surely, snowballs into a weekly occasion, twice-a-week occasion, and so forth.

Between the end of the diet and three, maybe four weeks later, all of a sudden, the scale is 10 pounds higher than it was at the end of the diet, and the “Oh, fuck” feeling hits, and that causes us to want to reduce our calories yet again. But as we just mentioned, we didn’t spend enough time not dieting, and we get stuck in this terrible cycle of binging and restricting, binging and restricting, all the while our weight is actually steadily creeping upward. Not a fun position to be in.

The third truth that you need to accept if you want to make sustainable weight loss easier is that it’s not about the number on the scale. It’s not about the number on the scale at all. That number is really just a mirage or a Band-Aid behind what it is you truly desire. All of us as human beings desire to really experience, or achieve a feeling, or a collection of feelings.

If you think about it, one of the questions I ask everyone who applies to join the 5% community is, what was the weight you were most happy at that you remember? People will give me these answers, “Oh, when I was 22, I weighed this much, and I was happy is because of X, Y, and Z,” or, “Oh, when I was 25, I weighed this much.” Your level of happiness had nothing to do with the number on the scale, it had to do with the feelings of confidence, control, calm, strength that you felt on a daily basis, and perhaps equally, if not more important, it had to do with you making a handful of promises to yourself, and actually following through on them.

If you can get incredibly clear on how you want to feel, not overly focused on the number of the scale, what we can do with that clarity is begin to reverse-engineer and appropriately align the most effective action steps to begin cultivating feelings of confidence, self-love, strength, energy, health, vitality, aliveness, and energy now. We can cultivate those feelings now, not after you lose the weight, look a certain way, or wear clothing size X, Y, or Z. When we consciously choose every single day to feel those feelings on a regular basis, our subconscious begins to scan our environment for opportunities to reinforce those wonderful feelings, which guess what? Eating healthy, exercising often are two fantastic activities or action steps that help to support all of those feel-good emotions I described. Therefore, eating well, moving often become easier and easier, more second nature, and your weight loss journey becomes easier. Therefore, your weight maintenance journey becomes that much easier.

If you truly want to achieve sustainable weight loss, which only 5% of dieters are actually able to achieve because of how hard it is, let me make your life and your journey far easier. Accept the fact that, number one, it’s going to take you longer than you desire and expect. Number two, it’s going to be far more challenging than you can imagine. Number three, it is about a lot less than the number on the scale, and so much more about feelings that you deserve and desire to experience. If you can accept those three truths, it’ll make your sustainable weight loss journey so much easier.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you found it helpful, found any value whatsoever, you can help me out by sharing with a friend, leaving a genuine rating and review on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you’re listening to the show, and I’ll challenge you one more. Hey, come say hi to me on Instagram. I’d love to know that you’re a show listener, love to hear your biggest takeaway from today’s episode, and just would love to have the chance to meet you and say hi. Well, thank you so much for listening. Have a wonderful rest of your day. Screw the scale. See you in next episode.

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Paul Salter

Paul Salter is a Registered Dietitian and Founder of The 5% Way. Since 2013, Paul has worked one-on-one with nearly 1,500 men and women, helping them to collectively lose tens of thousands of pounds of body fat and keep it off for good. He’s also published nearly 1,000 articles, two books, and 175 podcast episodes (and counting) on all things related to our five core elements of sustainable weight loss.



Micheala is a Transformation and Community Success Coach. She specializes in bringing out the absolute best in you and helping you see that you already have everything you need to achieve the transformational results you desire. Micheala will be an incredible asset for you on your journey since she went through the process herself and has seen long lasting results.

The Maintain My Weight Loss After A Diet Blueprint

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