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« Blog Posting by Email | Main | The Conditional Perfect »

Dieting: Introducing the Ratchet Effect

Now that I’ve started back on my diet I must confess that I am getting rather bored with it. Specifically it’s the rate of loss of 1 lb per week that’s boring me. It’s too unvarying. It also isn’t sensitive to what is going on in my body at any specific time. So for instance when I first started the diet back at the beginning of December 1lb per week was too slow. I was losing weight faster than that with hardly any effort and had to hold myself back. But a couple of months later it was too fast. To keep up I had to cut back on eating to a greater extent than I was prepared to put up with.

So I’m going to experiment with a different way of adjusting the daily target weight. To do this I am not going to have a pre-determined rate of loss, but instead will let my body arrive at it’s own rate of loss. I will employ the “ratchet effect” - movement is only allowed in one direction.

The method of dieting remains exactly the same, except that my aim each day is to stay at the current target weight. However whenever I go below the target weight, that weight becomes the new target weight.

Let’s see how that would work out. If I weight myself in at 200 lbs to commence with, 200 lbs becomes my target weight and my aim each day is to maintain myself at that target weight. Every day that my actual weight is above 200 lbs I add a rule. If my weight is exactly 200 lbs I keep the rules that I have (if any). Everything so far is exactly the same as before.

Here’s the difference. If my weight one day falls to 198 lbs, then I can take one rule off and the new target weight becomes 198 lbs. So each day the target weight can remain the same or decrease. What it can never do is increase.

I won’t really know how this will work out until I have tried it for a while. It seems to me that it will be more interesting than a regular decrease in target weight. Interest is one of the main motivating factors in keeping to a diet. Of course it is theoretically possible that I might remain at the same target weight for evermore, but I don’t think that is very likely. It may well result in a much slower rate of weight loss - but that’s better than giving up the diet because one’s body can’t keep up.

(Full details of the diet I am following can be found here.)

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  • Response
    Mark Foster has suggested an approach to losing weight that works like a ratchet... This approach appeals to me... I think the daily weighing will provide me with a focal point that I’ve been lacking... I can use this method to introduce small step changes in my health regime

Reader Comments (3)

I like the concept - "the Ratchet Effect". I might have to try that myself. Best of luck to you!
March 10, 2007 at 17:50 | Unregistered CommenterCI Scott
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April 15, 2009 at 0:18 | Unregistered CommenterFrewmomeork
I don't think this approach will work. I don't think your weight will fall randomly - and if it goes up you are going to get so fed up you may just throw in the towel. Read about the real diet ratchet here:
May 18, 2010 at 16:27 | Unregistered Commenterjudy corstjens

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