If you have ever tried to lose weight by subsisting on lettuce and air, you know the pain and suffering and "hangry-iness that it brings on. Its uncomfortable and infuriating and even more important than this, it doesn't work! Time and time again, I see my clients restricting their calories (even when their activity levels are extremely high) and they watch as the scale stay the same and sometimes even goes up. To say this is frustrating to them is an understatement!
I myself have experienced this frustration when even as a Personal Trainer, I was under eating while trying to lose weight. Several years ago, when my husband and I bought our first home we scrimped and saved everything that we had. This meant that our grocery budget was cut and we were surviving on a few low quality foods. Add the stress of a big life change and there you have it...10lbs onto my 5'3 frame.
In an effort to lose this weight I reduced my caloric intake to 1800 calories a day. I was training 3-4 times a week for a half marathon and was teaching 4-5 fitness classes a week at the time. Needless to say, my activity level was high. Based on everything I had read, this was the magic number for an active girl like me to make all my unwanted body fat disappear. Only it didn't. The scale didn't move and I became increasingly uncomfortable with my body.
I decided to hire a Sports Nutritionist to help me out. At the time, fitness was my strong suit not nutrition so I thought I could use the professional help. I handed her my exercise and food journal like a proud school girl thinking I was sure to get a clean report. Instead, she noted how little fat I ate and how it wasn't nearly enough food for someone of my activity level. Her recommendations of increasing my fat intake and increasing my caloric intake to 2300/day (what????) nearly caused an anxiety attack. How could I possibly eat that much and not gain weight???
But here's the thing. What I was doing wasn't working. I had two choices. I could continue on my path to no results OR give this a go. She was after all, an expert. So I gave her 2 weeks to change my mind. I upped my caloric intake and added some olive oil to my eggs and in two weeks I had dropped 5lbs. I continued to lose the rest of this weight over the course of 4-5 weeks by continuing her eating plan and my existing fitness schedule.
Here is why her plan worked and mine didn't:
My poor little body required way more energy (food) than I was giving it. It decided to go on strike and hold on to every ounce of extra me that it could. My body didn't trust me. It didn't know when it was going to get fed again so it stored my extra body fat for emergency. Once I started cooperating with my body again (by fuelling it), it trusted me and let go of the extra pounds I had been carrying. #magical!
I tell you this story not because I want you to eat 2300 calories a day. This is my personal story at a time in my life when I was MUCH more active than I am now. There is no such thing as a one size fits all eating plan so mine may not work for you. I do however want you to know that if you are struggling to lose weight, you may want to consider the possibility that you may be under eating.
Here are a few tips on how to nourish YOUR body and get the scale to move again:
1) Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and 2 snacks every day. Look at your schedule and plan your meals in so that it is easy to work with.
2) Eat every 3-4 hours keeps your blood sugar levels steady, and decreases your urge to binge on less healthy snacks.
3) Always aim for protein, carbohydrates and a small amount of fat at each meal or snack. You will find this easier if you start with your protein and build your meal around that. Fill half your plate with veggies
4) Drink at least 8 glasses of water throughout the day and minimize alcohol, caffeine, pop and fruit juices.
5) Eat real food whenever possible since your body knows what to do with it. Avoid processed or fake foods as much as possible.
6) Eat when you are hungry. Never ever ignore your body or it will get pretty ticked at you.
There is a better way to lose weight. You don't have to starve and suffer. Don't feel bad if you didn't know this. It's not your fault that no one has told you. I didn't even know in my early days as a Trainer. But now that you know, take this little nugget of info and apply it to your own life. You may be a bit skeptical. I certainly was. But if what you're doing right now isn't working, then you've got nothing to lose. Try these tips for 2 weeks and see what happens. Your body is waiting to be treated right!
I'd love to hear how this goes for you. Feel free to hit reply on this and let me know if I can help you more. My door is always open.
P.S: If you'd like to receive more tips and tricks on how to stay fit AND keep it real, click here to join my newsletter.