A fellow blogger/triathlete just made an intriguing post about weight loss and it got me thinking. One of his theories is that he may (at times) need to eat more calories to lose weight because of the amount of training he does. I think he’s right on the money.
There are so many weight loss theories out there, but like everything else, nothing good comes easily. If you’re restricting your calories while doing heavy training, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The body needs fuel, and if it’s not there, it will start chewing away at your soul.
I honestly think there are three keys to genuine and lasting weight loss:
1. Exercise often
2. Slowly change your diet
3. Get enough sleep
If you think about it, exercise is an ongoing series of pushing your body harder than normal, followed by recovering. The workout will burn calories, then you need to refuel by putting them back. I am not a nutritionist by any stretch, but I feel like I am very in tune with my body, and when I listen, it tells me what I need.
Last January I weight about 200 pounds. Today I’m at 175. Rarely, if ever, did I “force” myself to change what I eat. My body told me what it wanted and I ate it. This wasn’t always good stuff, but I think drastic changes in nutrition are just as bad as dramatic changes in workouts. They may seem like a good plan, but eventually your body gets confused and starts fighting back.
Learning happens in small steps, but it’s really hard to be patient these days. If you want to teach your body to be a good swimmer, cyclist, or runner, go slow when raising your levels of intensity. The same goes with food.
If you’re eating junk and fast food all the time, that’s what your body knows. Pouring tons of broccoli and fruit into your system is like walking into a Mormon church and screaming “Islam is the only way!” It won’t work.
I work in a fast food neighborhood and used to inhale combos 4 or 5 times a week. I still eat that crap, but only about once a week and I NEVER feel guilty. It’s only been a year and my body still remembers the greasy days, so occasionally we reminisce.
The final key is sleep. If you’re not getting good rest and restoring broken down muscles, your body starts storing fat as energy. It’s really simple. We need good rest. I’ve even had a friend tell me he thinks consistent meditation helped him lose a ton of weight, and I have no reason to doubt that. Meditation helps you slow down the body and mind, which is essentially letting it recover from what it perceives as more demands.
Most of us who need to lose weight dug our own holes. We can’t expect years of unhealthy “teaching” to go away in a few days. It takes consistency and conditioning for your body to learn (or re-learn) healthy living.
My feeling is, if you crave a greasy cheeseburger and fries, do it, but then listen to your body. Pay attention and learn from how it feels. Are you bloated? Sluggish? Consciously put that into your brain. Over time, you’ll naturally start rejecting things that don’t work. You’ll hit more and more tipping points only to find better fuel more enjoyable. Like most things in life, it’s better to pace yourself.