Escaping the ‘Dieting Mentality’
The blog is about trying to escape the 'Dieting Mentality' and to find out what works for you that will work for you throughout your life, including through your peri-menopausal and menopausal years.
Having been a Health & Fitness Professional for many years, I'm always being asked about the best ways to lose weight, the best ways to get slim, the best methods to drop a dress size or more, the best exercise to do and foods to eat to enable all of these things to happen. I have also asked myself these questions as well because I too have struggled with my weight, my fitness, my well-being, how I look. Being in the Industry does not make you immune to this, in fact I would even go so far as it makes you even more so because people look to you as a role model, as someone who must have all the answers and who must look like and be like someone who is perfect in all things body and mind related. The pressure is on people in this profession to look the part, to be the part (whatever the 'part' is!) but this often leads to stress and imbalance which leads to suffering in our lives whilst trying to help other people overcome these things in theirs. What people must remember is that we are human beings too and on our own life journey to find out what works best for us as well as for other people.
I digress! Coming back to the questions I am asked, I have noticed that I am very rarely asked about how to keep off the weight in the long term and what to do to keep at a size and shape that means you are healthy, happy, fit and able to do everything that you want to do? It seems to be that all people want is one quick fix after another without any real thought as to how to make it something that is sustainable.
Effect of Dieting on Obesity
But did you know that one of the major causes of obesity is dieting? By constantly being on/off diets and jumping on the latest quick fix you are actually slowing your metabolism down and it can take years, yes years, to recover - that's why you see people who lose a lot of weight tending to put it back on plus more – the more that you are on/off a diet the slower your metabolism will be, the longer it will take to reset and the more weight you will gain back each time.
“It has been shown that between 80 and 95% of dieters regain their lost weight. It has also been shown that two thirds of these ‘weight regainers’ actually end up fatter after the diet than before they started” (Metabolic Effect Blog 'How to Maintain Weight Loss)
Fat and weight loss are not just about calories in and out and the amount of exercise you do, it’s not about eat less, exercise more and exercise hard! It's about the type and duration of exercise, the type of foods and drinks you're consuming, when and how much, and it's also about sleep, about movement, about mind-set, about hormones, about rest and relaxation, about what you like to do, and the effect that all of this is having on your metabolism.
The Long Term Approach
What is best is a long term approach otherwise this constant yoyo approach to nutrition and fitness, and ignoring of other contributing factors, will continue causing excessive gains and associated health problems. Of course there are always exceptions to every rule and for some people this might not be a problem but for the majority of people it is.
I see it time and time again (and I have been guilty of it as well) – we all want that quick fix, to be able to not have to work too hard for too long to achieve what we perceive to be our desired result. We try something for a short period of time, it gives us results initially but then we start to gain back so we try something else in the hope that this will be the messiah sent to save us and that this time it will work. But of course for the majority of us, it won’t work so we look around for something else or we jump on the latest quick fix programme guaranteed to give us long lasting results, it won’t and before long you’ll be, yet again, jumping on another programme, or one that you’ve done before because hey it ‘worked’ the first time – no, it didn’t, if it worked it would have been sustainable and it would have been a process that you could have continued with throughout your life.
These quick fixes/traditional diets prey on our insecurities, our vulnerability, our desire to have the perfect body/shape/life. What they don’t do is address the actual issues that led to the weight gain, the unhappiness and such like in the first place. Most people don’t like to take time to get results but it is this that you need to do to achieve long lasting results. When you use drastic measures they are just not sustainable and just don’t work past the short-term.
That is the key; it needs to be a ‘process’ that works with you not against you throughout your life. There is no cut-off date, there is no start date, it has to be a continual process that can be adjusted and adapted and that works for you forever not just for a short period of time. Remember the quicker and easier that it comes off the quicker and easier it goes back on again.
I mentioned before that it isn’t just about calories in and out and it’s not just about the exercise either. There are other factors involved – you also need to be asking yourself what are these desired results that you want to see and why do you want them? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it weight you want to lose or body fat and/or inches? Do you think that this is the key to your happiness? Our mind-set is just as important as our biological processes and we need to acknowledge that if something is harder and takes longer to come by then we tend to value it more and we are more likely to stick to it and maintain it. If it was easy then our mind-set will be ‘oh if I put it on again I can just lose it by doing a quick detox/cleanse’. The thing is each time we do one of these the harder it gets each time and the more that will be put back on each time.
So … why is this happening?
Why can’t we just jump on a quick fix, lose what we need to lose and manage to keep it off? Why is there not a perfect diet that enables us all to achieve what we want to achieve? And why can it be so damn hard to actually achieve and maintain weight, fat, inch loss and body shape change?!
Every ‘body’ is different, everyone is an individual with individual needs, desires and metabolisms and it is this uniqueness that has to be your top priority when it comes to all things life related including fat loss, weight loss, inch loss and changing your body shape. As with all things in life, ‘Your metabolism changes and adapts. It is not static and predictable. This simple understanding can free you from the trap of dieting’ (Jade Teta, Metabolic Effect). Life is continually changing and it is a major function of our metabolism to be able to help us adapt to these changes and to be able to react accordingly. And one of the main reasons why it is not possible to succeed with these quick fixes is the ‘Law of Metabolic Compensation’.
‘This law dictates that your metabolism is not like a calculator at all but more like a thermostat or see-saw. You eat less and exercise more to burn calories, and your body compensates by making you more hungry while at the same time decreasing the amount of calories you burn at rest’. (Metabolic Effect Blog - How to Maintain Weight Loss)
Your metabolism also suffers agitation when you are stressed, when you are tired, when you are sleep deprived, when you overload with toxins.
If you reduce the amount of calories that you eat every day then your body will be compensating by effectively slowing down the metabolism so that you do not ‘burn’ what you were previously burning whilst at rest. Your body has what is known as a basal metabolic rate (BMR), the amount of energy/calories that it requires to just keep functioning – for you to keep breathing, digesting, sleeping and so on and again this is different for everyone but … if you are eating less and exercising more, if you’re constantly on and off a diet, then the body’s BMR will slow down and this effect can last for a long time, even after you have come ‘off’ a diet, and it can cause long lasting damage to the metabolism as a result of the compensatory effects from dieting.
This slowing down of the metabolism has a number of possible reasons for its occurrence – the loss of lean muscle mass, metabolically active tissue which reduces whilst on a ‘traditional’ diet; changes in levels of hormones, in particular insulin, cortisol, leptin and ghrelin which affect your thyroid and your adrenal glands, both of which are largely responsible for the efficiency of your metabolism; the ever increasing presence of POPs (‘man- made chemicals that you eat, put on your skin, drink in your water, and inhale through the air’) in your fat cells – which, when released, affect the functioning of the thyroid and reduce metabolic function.
Frustration at lack of Results
This is what you see in people who are doing everything they believe to be right but just can’t seem to get the results … because they do not understand the Law of Metabolic Compensation and continue to jump on and off quick fixes/diets ultimately making the situation worse. Unfortunately it is made worse by the industry and by the myriad of confusing information that is out there and by people not paying attention to the individual needs of their clients. In fact a lot of professionals working with clients are actually causing metabolic agitation in the form of extreme exercise and rigid diets.
Something else I see is people thinking that if they just upped the exercise then they would lose the pounds and inches - maybe initially but not long term, our bodies just do not work this way, again due to the Law of Metabolic Compensation. You are also putting stress on the body every time that you exercise which affects your hormones which affects your ability to lose and gain fat and inches.
So ….what can be done?
#1: Identify what it is that you want to achieve – do you want to be lean, do you want to lose weight, lose fat, lose inches, be healthier, be happier, move more freely, gain muscle, sleep better and so on – identify the reasons why and be specific, wishy washy won’t do if you want to succeed, and write down what it is you want to achieve.
#2: Take the long term approach, ditch the ‘dieting, stop jumping on the quick fixes – a quick fix will, more than likely, work short term, it can even be used as a start to get you to think about your nutrition and your fitness but it will not work long-term for the majority of people. If you’re going to use something like this do so as an initial step into a more committed approach but do not expect it to last or for it to be sustainable. A lot of the quick fixes focus more on weight loss rather than inch and fat loss, that’s great if that’s what you’re after but you’re likely to be losing water and lean muscle tissue as well as maybe some fat which, again, long term will not be sustainable and, if it’s body shape change you’re after then it’s not the right approach to take.
#3: Get your H.E.C in check! This is a form of bio feedback devised, and used, by the Metabolic Effect and one that I use myself personally and with my clients. H.E.C. stands for Hunger, Energy and Cravings and, if you have all of these in place, you’re achieving the results that you want, you’re sleeping well, you’re medically healthy then all is good. It is when these are out of balance that you then need to look more carefully at all aspects of your life and do some fine-tuning in the areas that need it in order to get your H.E.C. back in check. And … remember this will change continually through your life, nothing stays the same – you have to learn to listen to your body and the feedback that it is giving you so that you know what it needs and when.
#4: Focus on Four Key areas – the Four Ms (Jade Teta) – your Meals (take a cyclical approach to your nutrition), your Movement (move as much as possible), your Metabolics (exercise schedule – you want to be losing the fat whilst maintaining/building your lean muscle tissue), your mindfulness (take time for you). You want to build a rest based lifestyle so that you have some stress in your life but not so much that you can’t manage it well but, enough to challenge your mind and body to enable the metabolism to be as balanced as possible for as long as possible and to enable a quick return to balance once it has become out of sync. It typically takes a few weeks/months to make and sustain a change so be prepared to be in it for the long haul.
#5: Check out your gut health – so many people seem to suffer from digestive complaints that often have been misdiagnosed or, are as a result of diet and /or exercise and that, with some changes can be alleviated or disappear. Many of these complaints have to do with the food and drink being consumed, the way in which the food is eaten and the ability to digest food (Dr Jillian Teta) in addition to the health of the microbiome (gut bacteria), the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and the balance of the enteric nervous system – seemingly all technical jargon but all that is needed is an understanding so that appropriate changes can be made.
#6: Sleep, sleep and sleep – your body needs to time to rest and recuperate otherwise it will not be functioning optimally and you will be adding stress back into the equation, again affecting your body’s ability to burn, store and gain fat and subsequent inches and weight.
#7: Rest and relaxation – make time for you, your body, your mind to rest, to relax, to recuperate – if you don’t do this then your body is again being put under stress with the associated negative consequences.
#8: Do what you enjoy – if you are not enjoying what you are doing then you will not stick with it. Yes there may be some things that you may think that you enjoy but could be having a detrimental effect so it could be that you just reduce these or add in more of what is enjoyable and beneficial for you as well.
DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU TO KEEP YOUR H.E.C. & YOUR SLEEP IN CHECK, ACHIEVE THE RESULTS THAT YOU WANT AND TO KEEP MEDICALLY HEALTHY
AIM FOR SUSTAINABILITY & A LONG-TERM APPROACH
If you would like help with doing this then please do connect with me through one of my 1:1 Coaching Programmes.
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