After I had recovered from back surgery, I knew there was some extra insulation that needed to come off. It took one picture and one person's comments to help me reflect and realize that it was time to put the work in to get the nutrition dialed in. My training intensity had increased, and I was doing more and more movements that I previously couldn't do during the injury. That was a positive. I finally had to shut out the doubt, and get to work.
I felt comfortable with my basic knowledge of nutrition and health, but my attempts at getting all on track, weren't working! I knew I needed a new set of eyes and a better plan. A professional to guide me along the way.
For several months after the picture and a friend's comments, I tried to be more aware of my daily food choices, and tried to just cut my food intake and calories to help me drop some extra weight. It helped a smidge, but there wasn't a lot of progress. I would even say there were some phases of gaining more fluff and insulation. I continued to train and tried increasing my training frequency with the combination of trying to decrease caloric intake. Calories in vs calories out, right? (Sort of, but we'll get to that in another post.)
I'm a pretty determined individual so the drive was there to do the work. The more I tried cutting out the amount of food, the less the scale was budging. Ugh!! So frustrating! I love food and know the importance of fueling yourself, so cutting what I thought was too much, was not going to be an option. If you've ever seen HANGRY before, then you know what I mean!
I obviously was cutting too much, because my family saw HANGRY often, and with that comes a very irritable, grumpy, not-fun person to be around. I finally threw my hands up and truly asked, WHY am I doing this? After some heartfelt reflection, I realized that I am doing this so I can do His good works. I want to be the best person that I can be, so therefore I can give more to others. I can be a better wife. I can be a better mom. I found clarity in my WHY! I wanted to find the best way and healthiest way for me to get my nutrition on track.
With clarity in my WHY and a nutrition coach to guide me with a new plan, I quickly found out how cutting too many calories can be severely detrimental. I wasn't eating enough for my activity level and my body was rebelling.
Low calorie diets create a large energy gap and therefore activate your body's self defense system. You're not meant to be in this place for extended periods. Your body learns to adapt as it wants homeostasis. It turns off hormones and causes your metabolic rate to drop. With decreased metabolic rate, it means your total energy expenditure decreases, your resting expenditure decreases, your exercise energy expenditure decreases, your non-exercise or at-rest energy expenditure decreases, and the thermo effect of digesting food decreases. A whole lot against you when you're trying to lose some L-Bs. And let me be clear, you don't have to be in what seems like 'severe' caloric restriction, to decrease that metabolic rate. Based on your type of training activity and training intensity, I would bet many of you are under eating what is necessary for your body to be fueled properly.
The KEY to long term, maintainable fat loss and improved body composition, is keeping a healthy metabolic rate. This means that many of us need to eat MORE. I know this is counterintuitive for what we see or hear in society right now. After 14 months on my current nutrition plan, I am eating more than ever and my metabolism is working better than ever.
In order maintain weight loss or the body composition you are working towards, you need to make sure there are small adaptations and changes to your nutritional intake that allow for change to occur while keeping that metabolism as high as possible. There's no quick fix, no 30-day challenge, no pill. Patience, hard work, and a willingness to trust the process!! Don't fight your body. Love it for what it can do!
Your first step to evaluating where you sit right now for change, is tracking your food. Use an app like My Fitness Pal or Fat Secret and start tracking all of your food intake. Be real about what and how much you are consuming. You need true perspective of what your intake consists of.
Part 2 of this series. OK I get it. What now? You've started tracking your food, so now what do you do with that information? Click here.