There was a recent article in the New York Times that shed light on explaining why so many people fail to keep the weight off that they lose after a diet. They followed contestants of The Biggest Loser after they had competed in the show and most of them had gained almost all their weight back.
We hear more and more not to lose weight too quickly and how diets don’t work in the long run. This study now explains why. Extreme diets and workouts put a tremendous amount of stress on the body. It actually slows down the metabolism in the long run. This explains weight loss plateaus and the struggle to keep the weight off. You can read more about the actual study here.
The damage goes beyond our metabolism. It messes with our psyche and belief system affirming that we are unable to control and trust ourselves. That we have to suffer and break our backs to feel good in our own skin. Our bodies weren’t designed to function optimally under stress (like this) for prolonged periods of time. It’s exhausting and eventually it shuts down.
As an Eating Psychology Coach, I now understand how crucial it is to have positive mind/body synergy when we’re training our body for fat loss and natural weight management.
Participating in Fitness Competitions felt harmless at the time. My motivation? To challenge myself to get in the best shape I possibly could. What really happened? A wake up call.
I realized I used my body as an object and measurement of my value. I was willing to go through extreme lengths to feel confident in my own skin. I made assumptions like, “If I look like these fitness models, my career will take off” or “If I could fit a size 4 then I’d definitely get hitched up.” I measured myself up against other women I saw in the fitness industry and on social media.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of Joy.” Tell me about it. Those days were no fun.
Although my initial intention was to compete so that I could look MY personal best, I found myself comparing my body to all the other female competitors. This caused more stress and anxiety. In my mind, I wasn’t losing weight fast enough. I was fit but not thin enough.
“I should have worked harder.” “ I’m still fat.” “I blew it.”
When friends asked me how I did, I was embarrassed that I didn’t place. It didn’t feel good. Although, I did look the best I ever had, it wasn’t enough.
“I’m going to do it again and work even harder.”
As a Zumba instructor, I was already teaching 2 hours a day. It was at the beginning of my career and so I was hustling. On top of that I trained an extra 2 hours of weight training and cardio. Four to five hours of exercise. It was extreme and still not enough.
There were different coaches I worked with and each of them had a different philosophy on dieting. Regardless, when it came down to the final 3-4 weeks it was always tilapia and asparagus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was extreme and still not enough.
Measurements were the driving force of my sanity. All my food was weighed out and I weighed myself everyday. If any of it was off, I was thrown off! It was extreme and still not enough.
My results were never good enough. I remember in all my exhaustion, crying and feeling frustrated, “How on earth am I going to work any harder?!”
“No pain, no gain Deirdra.”
I’ve been able to maintain a healthy body composition without dieting. I’ve sustained my results longer than anytime I was doing a 12 week training for a fitness competition. I’ve discovered a fun, liberating, and empowering way to manage my weight and feel confident about my body.
I wish I could tell you the one golden nugget that made the shift for me, but it’s not that simple. It’s work and practice. However, it’s unlike the work from my extreme days of competition training. I’m actually enjoying the process of learning how to listen and trust my body. When cravings come, I remind myself that I have enough of everything I need.
What I can offer is my story in the hopes that it may inspire you to go deeper. To explore within and uncover what balance looks like for you. To expand beyond limiting restrictive programs and step into your own truth.
Long term weight management happens when we’re relaxed and enjoying our relationship with our body……our lifelong partner.
So. Explore and embody more of what you love!
What foods do you love?
I found a new love for vegetables. Even though I love nachos, burgers, ribs, and pizza, I don’t eat them everyday. I still find myself choosing healthier foods…..because I genuinely like to eat healthy.
How do you love to move your body?
I obviously love to dance, but I knew I needed to incorporate strength training and stretching. I gave yoga a shot and fell in love with it. I’m now training to become a Yoga Teacher. I believe Yoga has been a part of my body transformation for more reasons than just physical. Because I love dance and yoga, I do it everyday in some shape or form.
Guidelines (rather than diets) are helpful because it gives us a foundation to work from. There are a few programs I like because they actually teach you how to eat more balanced rather than extreme. They raise awareness and encourage small changes that reap large benefits. I run 21 Day Challenge groups that encourages participants to enjoy the process of healthy balanced living.
Our next program starts May 30th. Email Deirdra.firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.