On paper, it’s about as simple as it gets: ‘eat clean, nutritious foods, keep the starch and junk at bay and you’ll be sure to lose weight and improve your overall health and nutrition.”
Simple formula, right?
Yet why is this something a lot of us tend to struggle with the most? It all comes down to two things, really- priority and consistency. Nutrition is 80% of the journey towards better physical health. We can’t expect to get through a WOD or just our daily activities in general if our bodies aren’t properly fueled before and after. Most people who decide to take charge of their nutrition begin doing so by often making drastic changes; changes that tend to be unsafe and unhealthy in hopes of speeding up the process. As human beings, we typically aren’t big fans of the waiting game. We want instant gratification. We want to see results NOW. We want visible proof that everything we’re changing and improving is paying off. This is a process that takes time if it’s to be done the healthy way. It’s the quintessential marathon. Just because we may not see any results at first, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t already taking place. You begin to FEEL long before you begin to SEE.
“Crash’ and “Fad” diet may yield quicker results, but those results simply aren’t sustainable. As a result, those who engage in that type of dieting put the majority of the weight and body fat back on a few months after disengaging from it. Let’s examine why this is:
1: It most likely wasn’t a healthy approach in the first place. Our bodies are smart and highly intuitive. It knows what it needs and what it doesn’t. We try to outsmart it but spoiler alert, it ALWAYS wins. It also knows that if it’s not getting enough of what it needs, it’ll adapt to survive the demands being put on it. What does this look like? Slower metabolism. The body begins to rely more on the energy stores in the cells to pull out the amount of energy to keep it functioning. Our body needs its macros for a reason. When we cut out one completely and/or consume extremely low amounts of one, we begin treading on some dangerous ground. Everything becomes unbalanced. Examples such as keto and intermittent fasting (IF) have the potential for positive results but only if they are done correctly and if you stick with it in the long run. For that, they receive the incorrect vernacular attached to them. They are LIFESTYLES, not “diets.” Keto is a low-carb lifestyle and the problem with this is that due to restriction of the carbs, the fat increases significantly. More than likely, the majority of the fats consumed are not the good, heart-healthy fats that we need. They’re more saturated. This is a huge problem when you restrict a macro. You practically do away with one and exceed to dangerous levels with another. Yes, too much of anything can be bad, even if it’s good for you. With IF, when people enter their eating window, they don’t use that opportunity to eat clean and sensibly. They tend to have the wrong outlook of it which is eating ‘get out jail free card.’ They don’t eat for 8 hours and the reward is to eat anything and everything in sight and expect to lose weight, lower blood pressure and blood sugar. That’s not how IF works. Those lifestyles should only be implemented if it’s deemed necessary by your doctor or registered dietician.
2: The initial weight loss is mistaken for body fat mass. When you adhere to a diet that keeps you at a certain caloric deficit, carbohydrates are often the macro that’s cut back the most. Carbs need water to help process and break down. When our body is not accustomed to eating less carbs than it has in the past, it will dispose of any excess water it would need to help break them down through our urine. So the weight we begin to lose is essentially excess water, not necessarily fat mass. When our body adapts to this first big change, then that loss will slow as it begins to balance back out. Because this happens, some of us tend to become discouraged after a month when the rapidness of that loss begins to slow down significantly. However, as we continue on and learn to eat cleaner and more nutrient-dense foods, in conjunction with making time to exercise, the overall fat composition of the body will begin to change. THAT’s when the real weight loss and results occur. But as I said before, and will say again and again, it’s all about keeping with it and keeping it consistent.
There’s an art to maintaining a healthy eating habit. It takes hard work and finesse. It’s a continuous game of ‘tweaking’ and ‘retweaking,’ but it can be done if we just choose to prioritize that aspect of our journey. If we can commit to making it in to do a WOD 3-4 times a week, then we are more than capable of committing to the rest of the battle which is ironically, the majority of the whole thing.
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