Ignore Sunk Costs to Lose Fat

Download my bodyweight training program for skinny-fat guys (63-page PDF)

Recently I’ve been attending a course called Decision Making and Risk Management at business school, and it’s one of the only useful courses I’ve had so far in 2 years.

The most important thing I’ve learned in this course is that many of the bad decisions you make are based on emotion rather than logic. Emotional decisions can be good in some cases since they are quicker to apply.

However, if fat loss is an important priority for you, use your logic.

Don’t let your emotions control the way you eat if you want to lose fat. 

Ignore the past, make good decisions now

When you want to make a rational decision your focus should only be on the future, because that’s what is important.

If your decisions are affected by investments that have occured in the past, you are a victim to the sunk costs fallacy. This is a concept that is often used in business school, and it’s a concept that I apply when I make small decisions on a daily basis.

Consider the following example of the sunk costs fallacy:

  • You are the owner of a company that produces software. At the moment your company has spent $1 million on research and it needs to spend an additional $200,000 to complete the research necesary to produce the software. The problem is that the software is expected to sell for no more than $100,000. If you continue the research, you will have to spend $200,000 and you will gain no more than $100,000 which would result in a loss.

A lot of people would continue with the research, simply because they think about the costs that have already occured (in this case the $1 million). However, this is wrong. You can’t control the past, but you can control the future. The $1 million is a sunk cost which should be ignored. Instead, consider whether the investment will be profitable for your future. In this case you are expected to lose $100,000 so stop investing.

To apply the sunk costs fallacy to your fat loss goals, take a look at the 3 cases below:

  1. Are you ordering huge meals at restaurants and finishing them just because you paid for them?
  2. Are you always finishing what you have on your plate just because you don’t want to throw it out?
  3. Do you lose motivation to eat healthy and train hard just because you didn’t lose inches around your waist and hips during the last 2-3 weeks despite putting a lot of effort into training and eating healthy?

I know that the 3 scenarios above sound like small and irrelevant things, but it’s the small changes that decide whether you lose fat or not.

  • In case 1 you are a victim to the sunk costs fallacy, since you continued eating because you paid for the meal.
  • In case 2 you are a victim to the sunk costs fallacy, since you continued eating because you put the food on your plate.
  • In case 3 you are a victim to the sunk costs fallacy, since you lose motivation because you invested a lot of effort in your fat loss.

In all 3 cases you let emotions dictate your decisions rather than logic; you are basing your current decisions on past actions (paid, put and invested) rather than what’s best for you right now. Stop doing that.

Getting below 200 lbs for the first time in my life

I used to be stuck at 200 lbs for a long time and I couldn’t figure out the perfect diet or workout plan to get below 200 lbs. It wasn’t a change in diet or workout programs that got me below 200 lbs. It was a change in my mindset.

I stopped thinking about my past decisions and made the best decision in the present.
In other words, I stopped letting emotions affect the way I ate.

If I went to a restaurant or cooked a meal at home I would eat until I’m satiated and then stop.

If I didn’t lose fat for several weeks I would make small changes in my daily routine. For example, at times I’m not hungry when I wake up so I would eat my first meal later in the day instead of making breakfast. At other times I would be really hungry in the morning so I would eat a big breakfast and eat less in the evening.

In the end, those small changes added up and I managed to get below 200 lbs for the first time in my life. This didn’t happen as a result of working out more or eating a special diet – it happened because I made the right decisions in the present and ignored the bad decisions I made in the past.

Skipping a few meals a week and eating until you’re satiated can make a huge difference in the long run.

Start making good decisions today.

Download my bodyweight training program for skinny-fat guys (63-page PDF)

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  1. Wow, how do you write your article Oskar? Do you have some tips?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I write a first draft in 3-4 hours, then rewrite the whole thing 3-5 times, then cut out all unnecessary sentences and make it look nice. It takes a lot of time.

  2. Great article. I see where I can use it to improve my decisions on fitneses and business!

    Thanks Oscar!

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      That’s what I like about this decision making course; the stuff we learn can be applied to all areas of life.

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