Good morning all!
I hope your week is going absolutely amazing! For many of us we are starting to feel the warmth of spring moving in! For some of us not so much, if you’re in the North East I’m sending you lots of love and warmth as you push through the snow storm! ❤
So this week I want to talk a little about healing your metabolism. Last week I wrote about fitness struggles and I will continue sharing what others have shared with me this week. So stay tuned! Also, this is a great opportunity for you to ask any questions you would like answered if you have any! Today however, I really want to focus on a topic I think MANY women struggle with, healing your slow metabolism.
In my experience, I have seen a lot of women struggling with eating a very low amount of calories (1500 or lower per day) and STILL struggling to lose weight. Why is this?! If you are essentially not eating much food at all why is it so difficult to lose weight?
In this post I will first discuss how eating a calorie restricted diet not only leads to binges but damage to your metabolism. Next, I will discuss a method I personally use when coming out of a competition prep diet to boost your metabolism, limit weight gain, and eventually begin working on losing weight.
First things first:
Why am I not losing weight?!
The Binge/Deprivation Cycle
If you have read any of my previous posts, you may be familiar with the thing I like to call the “Binge/Deprivation” cycle. What I mean by this term is the cycle many people get into when trying to diet. The thought “this week I’m not going to any sugar” or “I overate last night, today I only need to eat 800 calories or only smoothies for 3 day”, Sound familiar? What happens next? After depriving ourselves of food we love or food in general! It almost always leads to a binge!
In my own life, when prepping for a fitness competition there is always some degree of calorie restriction or elimination of certain foods. I consider myself to be pretty strong willed, which gets even stronger when I know I’m going to be up on a stage in a tiny bikini! During prep, I am human and I still have cravings but, I have found some really successful ways to combat these. I would be lying however, if I told you I don’t look forward to the night after the show when I can have my beer and pizza!
This lifestyle of competing in shows is tough and it takes a ton of self-discipline not only leading up to the show but after! The reality of rebound after competition is very likely and even for some of the most disciplined of athletes, it is a struggle. So if you are stuck in this cycle don’t feel like you’re the only one on this planet that has ever suffered from it. You are not alone and you can break the cycle and return to healthy eating habits. We must start by eliminating the deprivation step and slowly begin controlling our binging tendencies.
You Are Killing Your Metabolism
The second downfall of a calorie restricted diet is the damage it does to your metabolism. As you begin to limit the amount of food you take in on a daily basis you may not see the effects right away, you may even lose a little weight. Fast forward a few years down the road when you have been counting every calorie that enters your body to hit the 1400 mark and you’re still struggling to lose the weight you have so desperately wanted to for years! What’s the deal?
Humans are made to survive and the human body is such an amazing, complex, miraculous thing that was created with such precision. There are processes that happen every second inside our bodies that are so complex and choreographed perfectly. Consider the miracle of something as simple as respiration, the transportation of oxygen into our bodies via the lungs that is then transported into the smallest of cells simply because there is a difference in concentration is phenomenal! We don’t even have to think about this and it happens!
Our bodies were made to survive. When it gets cold our bodies create heat by shivering and raising the hairs on our skin to limit heat loss. When we are hot our pores open and we begin to sweat in an attempt to cool the body. When we are thirsty our bodies begin to limit the loss of water through perspiration and elimination. When we are hungry our metabolism slows to preserve resources.
After sticking to a calorie restricted diet for years your metabolism has slowed as a basic defense to keep you alive! This is not a bad thing, we should appreciate that our bodies are functioning and surviving the way they should! However, if you are trying to lose weight this basic survival mechanism is not helping you out. So, what do you do now in order to lose the weight you have been holding on to?
In order to lose weight after abusing your metabolism for years you must begin the process of healing your body, mind and metabolism.
The first, and most important, step in the process starts in the mind. You MUST stop beating yourself up and hating your body TODAY! There is no room for that here. You must remember that you are a beautiful, creative, amazing being created with a purpose and passion that MUST NOT be kept within you simply because you are unhappy with your body. Whether or not you are happy with your body you need to stop hiding yourself from the world! Your spirit is literally crying out asking to be expressed and shared and your journey will only become more beautiful if you let it shine! Let it shine today because you are BEAUTIFUL! ❤
Next, we begin healing our body.
After my first fitness competition I did not anticipate the weight gain that would follow if I returned to my normal eating habits. I know, this is a pretty basic thing but somehow I thought I was the exception. In turn, my metabolism was still slow but my appetite was not and I not only gained weight but, I felt heavy and tired all the time. I just wasn’t digesting all the food I was putting in. It did not occur to me until a few weeks later that I should have approached my diet coming out of the competition the same way I approached it going into the competition. Just as I slowly decreased calories and specific foods going into prep I needed to increase these things in the same manner. Hence, the term: Reverse Dieting.
How exactly does one reverse diet?
As I mentioned before, for my first fitness competition I did not practice reverse dieting and thus experiencing the effects. After starting my reverse diet a few weeks post competition I began to see my weight gain slow and eventually halt. In the end it was my delayed reverse diet that kept me from gaining a ton of rebound weight and overall struggling in my journey. This time around I have started my reverse diet 2 days after the competition and overall things are going really well. (If you are interested in seeing the progress of my reverse diet I will be sharing frequently via Instagram and Facebook)
Here is what my reverse diet looks like: for the next few months I have been adding 50 extra calories to my diet each week. Every week on Sunday I add another 50 calories to my previous set point and see how my body reacts. (I personally do not utilize a low carb diet so messing with my macros is not a huge factor but for those who are currently limiting carbs try adding 20-30g of carbs each week until you are consuming about 50-60% of your calories from carbs.) Second, the food I consume is important! I cannot expect to come from a very clean diet to eating junk and not see ill effects. Right now I am choosing 2 desired foods to have each week. This week I have had one dessert (Lenny and Larry’s Complete Cookie) and will have 2 beers (Fresh microbrew to be enjoyed on St. Patty’s!).
Each week as I add these calories I will check in with my body and see how things are working out. A small amount of weight gain is normal as a ‘show leanness’ is not maintainable for most people. But, overall you do not want excess weight gain.
During this time it is also important to return to your normal fitness routine! You cannot expect your metabolism to work for you if you’re not working with it and staying active.
Here is how you apply this to your life!
- Take a look at your set points right now. Maybe you’re aiming for 1500 calories a day and only 30% carbs. If you’re using My Fitness Pal great! If not, start. My fitness pal will show you how many grams of carbs you are aiming for at 30%.
- This week at 50 calories to your diet. You are now aiming for 1550 calories.
- Next, add 20-30 grams of carbs to your diet. (Let’s say you’re at about 113g bump it up to 143g)
- If you have a set fitness routine stick to it. If you don’t have one start one maybe aim for 3 days a week this week then add another in 2-3 weeks. You can stay at 4 days a week or even better hit a 5 day a week routine in another 2-3 weeks. Consistency is best do aim for something that is doable for you!
- See how you feel the next week after manipulating your diet. If you’re interested in checking your weight check it after 2 weeks and no sooner, this allows your body to adjust. If you feel bloated after week one maybe subtract 10g of carbs and only add another 20g the following week.
- Don’t freak out if you gain weight at first, this is normal. Just stick with it. This is a process, especially if you have been depriving yourself for years!
- Continue this process until your calorie intake is between 1700-2000 depending on activity level and your body. Some people may even have a higher set point over 2000.
- Keep up the great work and celebrate doing something good for yourself and your body!!<3
**REMEMBER: You are ALWAYS working on improving the quality of foods you are putting in your body. If you are eating 1500 or 2000 calories of junk, IT’S STILL JUNK and this will not help your journey to success. Aim for whole, unprocessed foods and see how cleanly your body runs and feels.
Alrighty, well that is all I have for you today! Please share your experience, struggles, questions etc. I want to hear it all! As always, I hope you have a beautiful day and a restful weekend!
Lots of love,
Andrea B Fit