I agree with you on most of what you've said...but, to go as far as to say things aren't paying out? I believe that to be 1. wrong and 2. pretty dick to say, lol.
It depends on goals and how you measure success in your endeavors. For me, I've never attained any legitimate level of leanness until I became a "crazy person" and obsessed over the details, counted calories, counted macros every day etc. Am I big? No...But, I have been over 180lbs..unfortunately, I was also around or over 16% bodyfat. Why is it that people on this site seem to appreciate when a guy bulks to the point of abandoning counting calories and loses all definition...but, on the other side of the spectrum, there is zero appreciation for the effort put into being lean at the expense of some bodyweight.
In other words...if I came on this forum and talked about how I just eat everything and lift and weighed 30lbs more with no ab visibility..you wouldn't give me any shit at all. I know this because when I DID do that, noone gave me shit on here.