Just in the last few weeks I’ve had 3 women laugh at me when I told them to eat more to lose weight. I am certain I know why they think it’s funny, but I’m not quite sure why they don’t believe me. Let me first be clear by saying I’m not an expert, this is just purely through experience, research and learned behavior, plus a little experiment of my own over the years.
Metabolism. Your inner fire. And probably the reason you won’t lose weight. Ladies, the equation for weight loss is not as simple as “calories in versus calories out.” For some, yes this is a great way to start…but it’s not the long-term answer. Why won’t you lose weight? Because you aren’t eating enough. You have successfully turned your metabolism into the left-over embers of the day after a beautiful bon fire… Those glowing little chunks of used-to- be-wood underneath the ashes. You are putting your fire out.
I found myself in metabolic damage. It sucked. Sure, I was eating tons of good food, but my actual calorie intake was so low, and my workouts/calorie output was so high that my metabolism began to turn into those little glowing embers instead of the wonderful roaring flame it used to be. The worst part? Once I figured it out, it took 7 MONTHS to fix! Because when you do things the right way, there’s no easy button.
How do you rehab a metabolism? Well, that’s not a simple question and there’s not a simple answer. I had to understand that calories in versus calories out was not the answer. The quality of your calories, both going in (food aka FUEL!) and going out (exercise!) was the answer. I started with a baseline set of macros, slowly added good quality carbohydrates, fat, and protein, and I switched up my workouts to better intensity. Better quality. At the time, I was only focusing on cardio: you know, an hour on those machines at the gym with the TVs attached to them… I’m not knocking it, because I am a self-professed cardio-queen, but I was not putting enough emphasis on strength training and it wasn’t challenging me. And you know what they say – if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
Steady state or low intensity cardio workouts have a place, but they don’t always have a purpose. Carbs are not the devil. Neither is sugar. *GASP!!!* What did I just say??? No. Sugar is not the devil. Most food is not the devil! Have you ever seen me around a bag of Cheetos?? Amazing. I know this is not the first time you have heard this, but moderation is key. Moderation will spare your sanity because we all need to be able to eat what we want. I refuse to deprive myself the amazing creations of such cheesecakes, s’mores while I’m camping, or sneaking Halloween candy out of my son’s stash, as long as it doesn’t get out of control. You know, check yourself before you wreck yourself.
I know for a fact that if I tried to eat 1400 calories a day now like I was eating (on a good day) when I was in metabolic damage, hangry wouldn’t even come close to describing me! If you’re an active woman, and you’re trying to lose weight on 1400 calories a day or less, you are fighting the wrong battle my dear. I don’t think a day goes by where I eat less than 2400 calories, but that didn’t happen overnight. There was a lot of work, slow and patient work that went into that but ohhhhh man was it worth it!
Track it. If you’re not sure what you’re eating, or if the intensity of your workout is adequate, write it down or find an app (I use MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness in conjunction with a Garmin fitness watch to measure intensity). Know your basal metabolic rate (BRM), know your target heart rates, and know what you eat (carbs, fats and proteins specifically).
Change the language. I really encourage EVERYONE to make fitness-related or health-related goals instead of weight-loss goals. Change the language away from weight (see the next section) and focus on some really neat ways to improve different health and fitness aspects of your life.
Some examples? Maybe you have run a 5k once or twice… Make it your goal to beat your time! When you do, then try to beat that time or find a 5-miler or 10k to push yourself. Maybe you notice you are tight and sore all over… Make it your goal to incorporate regular stretching a few times a week, or try yoga. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga!
Maybe you deep-down know you don’t lift/strength train/cross train enough… Find a way to make that your goal! This is my goal! Strength train/cross train 2 times a week (thank you, Power Train!!!). On that note…STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF. There’s more to life than that number. I used to have my trainers track three measurements for their clients: weight, body measurements, and a fitness test. WHY? Because there are going to be times where you don’t lose weight, but maybe you can pump out a mile faster than 5 weeks ago… Maybe you gained 0.25 inches in your legs but you can do 6 more box-jumps in a minute than when you started…Maybe, just maybe, when you die, your weight will not be published in your obituary so why does it hold so much power over your life?? Yes, the one you are living right now! Yes, it’s good to know about what you weigh, but stop making that the end-all- be-all of your goals. It is purely a number… so start looking at it as data. I’m serious!
All in all, health matters more than a number on the scale. Find a balance between things that challenge you, motivate you, with people who inspire you and try new things. This is one of my biggest draws to Power Train Boot Camps… I never know what my workout is going to be, who I will be sweating with, and I always know I’m going to get a good mix of strength training and cardio for a total-body burn in 45 minutes. And honestly, I keep coming back because of the comradery in those four walls. I love that my trainers are the first people to encourage me to push a little harder, or respect me when I have to back off. They care and ask about my goals so they can help get me there.