Mistake #6 – I followed the wrong rules

I think we’ve all heard that portion control is key to weight loss, because even too much ‘healthy’ food can still lead to eating too many calories.

This is true but the mistake here is that we’re so tuned out to our body’s messages, we can’t hear what it’s trying to tell us.

Our bodies have amazing internal energy regulation systems that let us know what types of foods we need at different times of the day, month, and year.

There’s a concept of ‘bio-individuality’ which states that we’re all unique and have different needs, preferences, and that no one way of eating works for everyone. Some people need higher carbs, some need higher protein.

Listening to your body and doing what works best for you is the best ‘diet’ that you can possibly follow. But we’ve been ignoring our hunger and fullness cues for so long, we can’t hear the messages our body is trying to send us.

We eat by the clock and we determine we’re full when our plate is empty. We don’t pay attention while we’re eating and we tune out to the experience of eating.

This is why it’s critical to develop and maintain a strong mind-body connection.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian. The information presented is purely to share my experience and for entertainment purposes. As always, check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site. 

Mistake #4 – I followed a super restrictive diet

The first diet I tried was the one I remembered giving me the fastest results – and that was a low-carb diet. Then I tried Weight Watchers. I tried meal replacement shakes. I cut my calories way down. I even tried tracking my macros.

They all gave me a quick initial loss, but then the weight would come right back!

I lost and gained the same 10 pounds for three months. The harder I tried to lose the weight, the faster it came back!

I was stuck in a loop of more and more restriction. My self-esteem was destroyed by the fact that I could not lose this weight.

Here’s why restrictive diets are a problem – the restriction actually made me think about food more. Psychologically, we’re more inclined to want what we know we can’t have. When I finally gave in and ate some of those foods that were considered off-limits, I went way overboard and then felt total guilt for being so weak.

I’d swear that tomorrow, I’d start over. DAY 1 (for the 50th time!). With a clean slate I’d be stronger, more determined to stick to the diet… but it happened over and over.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Restrictive diets only made me hungrier and more obsessed with the foods I couldn’t have.

Here’s another problem – restrictive dieting can really mess with your metabolism. Your metabolism is the number of calories your body needs to burn just to keep you alive. If you’ve got a lot of muscle, your metabolism is probably pretty high, and your body burns a lot of calories during the day.

If you cut your calories by too much, your body starts breaking down your muscle to feed itself. Without that metabolically active tissue to maintain, your body now burns fewer calories during the day.

When that diet ends and you go back to eating ‘normally’ you end up eating MORE calories during the day than you did on your diet. Now you’re in a caloric surplus and you’ve got a lot of extra energy.

You’re more likely to store those extra calories as fat. What’s even worse is that it’s likely to be stored as belly fat, which puts you at a higher risk for several health conditions, including heart disease, the leading cause of death of women worldwide. YIKES!

Because I was tired of living with a list of foods I couldn’t have, I tried an ‘everything in moderation’ approach. Meaning, nothing was off limits, I’d just make sure I stuck to a total daily calorie limit, and that would work. This was my next mistake.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian. The information presented is purely to share my experience and for entertainment purposes. As always, check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site. 

Mistake #3 – I did the wrong type of exercise

This was a mistake because, I would go to the gym, park myself on a treadmill or elliptical machine, pop in my headphones and tune out for 30-45 minutes….or until the machine showed me the magic number.

If you’ve ever used a cardio machine at the gym you know what I’m talking about. That magic Calories Burned number was what I depended on to let me know I’d reached my goal and I could finally go home.

Unfortunately, that number is not very accurate, as it overestimates how many calories you’ve burned (unless it’s attached to a heart rate monitor).

This mistake is so common, I think mostly because working out is an action that people can take that they believe will help them lose weight. Dieting is more about NOT doing something (not eating!) and exercising is something people can do and feel good about checking an item off their weight loss to-do list.

My workouts were not enjoyable and I did everything I could to disconnect from the experience.

Exercise is critical for your health, but did you know it actually has very little impact on your weight loss? I’m talking about steady state exercise, the type most people engage in as part of a weight loss program.

Even though exercise may have less to do with actual weight loss than your diet, it does have everything to do with how you look once the weight comes off!

Weight loss through dieting alone can lead to the body burning muscle for the energy it needs to keep your body running. Muscle loss results in a slower metabolism. But strength training (using weights, bands, and bodyweight exercises) can preserve and build muscle, give you definition, and help you avoid the saggy skin that weight loss can cause by filling it in with muscle.

Unfortunately, in order to burn the amount of calories I’d need to cut through exercise alone to lose weight would take me at least an hour every day. I didn’t have this kind of extra time and I was really anxious to lose this weight.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian. The information presented is purely to share my experience and for entertainment purposes. As always, check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site. 

What is Metabolism?

You hear this word thrown around a lot these days.

You might blame a slow one for how much easier it is for you to gain weight than it was a few years ago!  If you’re like me, you remember the days where you could eat whatever you wanted and you didn’t think twice. But as you got older you found you needed to pay careful attention to what you eat!

So what is it? Technically, metabolism is the word used to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.

It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do. Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and stay alive. Without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (your physical activity.)

  • Allow activities you can’t control (your heart beat, healing, processing of nutrients, etc.)

  • Allow storage of excess energy for later use

When you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can vary in speed – they can be fast, slow, or just right.

Which brings us to your metabolic rate, which is how fast your metabolism works and it’s measured in calories.

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (exercise and other activity).

  • Heat (from all those biochemical reactions).

  • Storage (extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine, the more calories you burn as work or creating heat, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure your metabolic rate:

  • RMR – This stands for resting metabolic rate, which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.

  • TDEE – This stands for total daily energy expenditure which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot! The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.

But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

Another factor is your size – Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial! As you can imagine, muscles that are worked need more energy than body fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be, even when you’re not working out.

HELLO, GAMECHANGER!

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

The thing is, when you lose weight without exercising, you tend to lose muscle. That loss of muscle causes a decline in your metabolic rate.

Once the diet is over (let’s face it, none of them last forever!) and you resume your regular diet, your body now needs fewer calories to exist than it did before, which is why you often gain weight back after dieting, plus a few extra pounds!

So you definitely want to offset that by having more lean muscle mass.

Another factor is your activity level – Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing work.

How Your Diet Affects Your Metabolism

Did you know that the type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate! Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of the fat or carbs in your diet for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate. Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

Let’s not forget the mind-body connection…There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

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Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian. The information presented is purely to share my experience and for entertainment purposes. As always, check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.