As the saying goes: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” While this is not the true definition, it does imply that a person who believes this, or acts in this way, is definitely not thinking clearly. Let’s apply this to weight loss from a fitness and nutrition perspective.
For years you’ve been a runner, or some other type of chronic cardio junky. Or perhaps you’ve been a regular at your gym’s fitness class 6 days a week for the past few years. Initially you started the program because you wanted to lose some extra fat. But also because it was time spent alone, or with a girlfriend, you found it relaxing, energizing, it made you feel like you were doing the right thing. But over time you can’t help but notice the weight is not coming off, in fact some of you may have noticed an increase in weight! Your knees ache occasionally, your back is sore. A part of you is now dreading the workout, but you do it anyway. Over and over and over again. Because running is good for you, your watch says you ran 5 Km and burned 500 calories. Or maybe it’s because they know you at the gym, they’re like family, and you don’t want to disappoint them. It’s so rewarding! But…you’re still not at your goal weight, your body composition is not what you would have hoped for with all the sweat you’ve produced over the years, and you feel drained all the time. Yet, you continue because it’s simply all you know. You’re afraid that if you stop you’ll really pack on the pounds!
Then there’s the nutrition plan. Maybe you’ve religiously counted calories for years, tracking every morsel that goes into your body. Maybe you jump from diet to diet, sometimes getting results, but most of the time just getting frustrated. Or perhaps you’re still stuck in the low fat era, measuring your only allowable teaspoon of oil on your salad. Whatever your food plan is, if weight loss is your goal and you’ve been gaining and losing and gaining continuously over the years, there’s something that needs to change.
So what is it? If all that exercise isn’t helping, and the calorie restriction or the food choices aren’t helping, WHAT the heck is the answer??
The answer is to stop doing what you are doing. Clearly if years or even just a few months go by and you aren’t seeing results, then you’re on the wrong path! Just stop. Stop running everyday, stop working out hard 6 days a week, stop the dieting rollercoaster, stop restricting calories, stop sacrificing sleep to make it to your Mon-Fri 6am fitness class, stop the negative self talk. STOP.
Ok, so now what?
If you’re brave enough to actually listen to me, take a deep breath, and open your mind up to the possibility of change, then read on. If not, then please come back to this article when you’re ready 🙂
My first piece of advice would be to exercise less, yes that’s right! And choose the right kind of exercise. Strength training with a full body routine 2 days a week is absolutely fundamental. And please, ladies, lift something HEAVY! I’m not talking 10lb dumbbells for 20+ reps. Then dedicate atleast one day to targeted mobility and flexibility improvement, and add in LOTS of low effort movements such as walking, casual biking, and playing with your kids. Remember, I’m talking to the average woman who is just looking for a sustainable exercise program that will maximize fat loss and not leave her feeling burnt out and unsuccessful. If you have time, and you’re not suffering from adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, or other major stresses, you can throw in 1-2 high intensity interval sessions per week as well. This type of program will result in better fat loss, better long term health, and significantly less inflammation then your steady state cardio routine. Plus, it’s way more fun!
My second piece of advice is to look at your diet. Immediately start adding in whole foods and displacing all of the anti-nutrient processed foods. Then consider shifting towards a food plan that limits or eliminates common allergenic and inflammatory foods such as gluten, soy, and potentially dairy. Focus your diet on a rainbow of vegetables and fruits. Choose healthy sources of protein such as wild salmon, grass fed beef, free range chicken, and eggs. And don’t forget the fat! Nuts and seeds, avocado, butter, coconut products, and olive oil are all great choices. And ladies, forget the 1200-1500 calorie range, that is not enough to sustain your badass self! How do you expect to kick some butt in the gym and in life if you’re walking around all day feeling hangry?! Get over it! I’m telling you, the average female should be eating 1800 – 2500 calories per day depending on different factors. But most importantly, don’t even count them! Just focus on balanced whole foods and the body will figure it out. Don’t deprive yourself, you should never feel unsatisfied. When the body receives the proper nutrients it needs from whole foods, you lose many of the cravings that may have plagued you. Trust your body and listen to what it needs.
If this has you feeling overwhelmed and confused, just give it some time. Reread the article and give it some thought. And if you need more guidance, contact a nutritionist and trainer, who can help you get on track.
Take care, thanks for reading, and remember…let go of the insanity! 😊