In high school and college, I would get SO frustrated when stuck on a physics or chemistry problem.
I went to class, read the books, and took GREAT notes, so how is it possible that I could not crack the code to these problems?
After I got over my extreme frustration, I did what every professor or teacher recommends – ask them, a tutor, or a classmate for help. The problem was solved, I built momentum (physics pun intended), and moved on to the new code that needed cracking.
Physics and chemistry aren’t the only things that I struggled to decode.
Last week I had a conversation with someone who was in pure disbelief when I shared that diet and weight have always been an issue for me.
I never felt confident where I was at, and I never enjoyed a cheat meal without guilt.
For a long time, I felt that the code for a healthy lifestyle was uncrackable, and that frustrated me more than any chemistry or physics problem.
Then when I was stuck on my latest diet and I desperately wanted MORE, I did what I did in school – asked for help. I set myself up with a coach, one of the best in the business, and started to learn how I could get MORE from my diet, my training, and my life overall.
I’ve learned more than I could write about in a blog, but here are 7 things that I want to share so that YOU can get more out of your diet:
Whether in your 9 to 5 desk job or 24/7-chauffer services in the mom-van, you’re sitting. A LOT.
You may shred some serious calories during your morning run or after work fitness
class, but the reality is if you’re sitting the rest of the day, your metabolism won’t be receiving the stimulation it needs the remainder of the day.
How do you add more movement?
- Commit to hourly movement – take 5 minutes every hour to move your body in stretches, a brief walk, or some exercises.
- Active Lunch Break – consider packing a lunch to eat at your desk so you can use your true lunch break as an opportunity for 20 to 40 minutes of activity.
- Add a Training Day – I would typically recommend a resistance training day because there’s a wider variety of exercises you can perform so you can truly allow muscles to recover, whereas running or biking requires use of the same muscles and can diminish recovery.
- Add Finishers to your workout – these are a great jolt to your metabolism and can leave you with a big caloric burn for the next few hours. The great part about finishers is that while they are called finishers, they could also be done later in the day or if you just don’t have time for a full workout, it can be a great 5 to 10 minutes of physical activity! If you want help building a finisher to up your movement, click HERE to learn how to build one yourself!)
One caution is that movement can increase only so much without adding additional harm. If you’re adding too much training while also dieting, your putting yourself at risk for some serious physical and mental fatigue.
Therefore, if you’re looking to increase activity, I recommend no more than 6 training sessions per week.
Excuse me, what? I’m trying to lose weight by dieting and you want me to eat MORE.
You read that right!
You see, if you’re plateaued and you keep dieting harder and harder, you’re REALLY going to piss off your body.
There’s a minimum amount of calories the body needs for functioning. Too often, when you’re plateaued, you just assume your body has adjusted to this deficit so it’s time to create a bigger one.
As the deficit grows, the body gets hungrier and hungrier, until it decides it is in full on starvation mode. Once there, you’re going to be stuck in that plateau until you add more calories or do some serious damage to your metabolism.
How do you eat more?
- Determine your maintenance level calories by using the Harris Benedict Equation, or clicking HERE and I’ll help you determine that TODAY.
- Track your intake to determine where you are currently at and if it might be too low (more on that if you keep reading).
- Add 100 to 200 calories each week to bring yourself out of the major deficit. Now the make up of those 100 to 200 calories is VERY individualized, but if you’re no where near the protein recommendations (0.7 to 1.2 g per pound body weight), then I would start there.
How will you know if you’re not eating enough unless you’re tracking?
What about eating too much?
What about eating too much sugar or sodium?
If you really want to break your plateau, then tracking needs to be a part of your routine.
Yes, it takes time.
Yes, it takes thought.
But if you’re not willing to do that, aren’t you just wasting time and frustrating thoughts trying so hard to diet but being stuck at the same weight?
Tracking can reveal SO MUCH about what is actually going into your system.
Too often, eating becomes too much of an automatic. We add a little here and there or skip a few meals or snacks, both because we’re too busy to actually give time and attention to the eating process.
Let’s look at two examples.
Ice cream is my vice. I could pound out one pint of Halo Top Birthday Cake Ice Cream before your grill is even warmed up to cook your chicken.
I tell myself it’s not big deal because I easily burned 280 calories in activity today, so it’s just a wash.
Then I do it again the next day, and the next, and then I’m doing it every night of the week because I love it.
What does the math look like for that?
280 Calories x 7 Days = 1,960 Calories
That’s almost an entire day’s worth of calories for me, and if I’m shooting for fat loss that is a lot of additional calories!
My coach tells me we’re really going to dial it in for this cut, so we’re going to drop down near 1,800 calories.
In my head I tell myself that we could really get some awesome results for this cut if I drop my afternoon snack without checking with him.
At maintenance, I sit around 2,500 calories per day, so when I drop that afternoon snack, I’m dropping another 200 to 300 calories from an already large deficit!
Without that afternoon snack, I’m dropping down around 1,500 to 1,600 calories per day; therefore, I’m cutting nearly 1,000 calories off of my MAINTENANCE level calories!
With my active job, workouts, and coaching, that would be a SERIOUS deficit!
Tracking can help us to see just how much we’re adding or taking out because too often we don’t truly realize how many calories are in the foods we eat!
Increase Food Quality
Tracking is great for telling us how much we’re actually eating, but it is also a great tool for identifying the quality of our food!
On paper or in a tracking app, you could be hitting your macros darn near perfect to the point where quantity isn’t a consumption but you’re still not losing, so what gives?
Most automatically assume entering into a larger deficit is the answer, but as a coach, I preach fat loss through consumption of as many calories as possible. This is the safest, most effective, and longest lasting way to develop a lifestyle and maintain your hormonal health.
This means together we have to dive a little bit deeper into WHAT you’re eating.
A look into food quality could reveal any of the following things:
- Too short on a particular vitamin or mineral (from lack of fruits and veggies)
- Too much highly processed snack foods or supplements.
- A shortage of “good” fats (omega-3’s and healthy saturated fats) and a surplus of “bad” fats (trans fats).
Once you’ve evaluated your food quality, you are able to diversify your intake by allowing your calories to be made up of primarily whole, nutrient dense foods.
A deeper look at your foods can keep you on the same training schedule with the same nutritional prescription with BETTER results – who doesn’t want that?
A great way to improve your food quality is by improving your food variety.
You could stick to chicken, spinach, and rice (all high quality foods) for the rest of your life and see some pretty killer results for a long time, but your tummy (and likely brain) will NOT like you after a while.
Eating a variety of high quality foods is a simple, but incredibly beneficial tool for gut health.
The gut microbiome is filled with bacteria (don’t panic, it’s normal!). In order to have a healthy gut microbiome, it is important that new bacteria forms and replaces the old.
This process can only be done by periodically adding different foods, nutrients, and fibers.
Now you don’t need to run to the grocery store in fear of the current bacteria ruining your microbiome.
It’s a simple fix.
Go for a different fruit, vegetable, or starch every time you go to the grocery store. Build a rotation based on your preferences, the season, or whatever you’re craving for meal prep!
How much and what you eat IS important for fat loss, that’s why 4 of the first 5 related to food!
It can’t all be about food because there is a LOT of things that factor into fat loss.
Sleep is definitely one of them!
If you REALLY want to crack the code for fat loss, then you sleep has to be a priority.
One study found an additional 90 minutes of sleep per night for individuals with previously poor lifestyle habits to show greater fat loss, changes in body composition, and dietary changes without any direct recommendations for change aside from sleep!
Sleep deprivation has always been linked to poor overall lifestyle habits, but this study confirms the true impact of sleep.
Now, I would love to tell each of you to sleep 90 additional minutes and you would just do it, but I recognize that’s not always possible.
If adding 90 minutes right off the bat doesn’t work, then start by adding 15 minutes.
Once that becomes consistent, add another 15 minutes. Continue to add 15 minutes until you’ve added 90 minutes per night.
It’s easy to sacrifice sleep for additional activities, but I encourage you to start tracking the quantity and quality of your sleep as well as your cravings. If you don’t feel you can hold yourself accountable, then find a friend or coach who will hold you accountable to better sleep and lifestyle habits.
Sometimes a plateau has NOTHING to do with your intake, your physical activity, or your sleep…
Sometimes you just need to give yourself a little break.
There was a point where I was about 7 pounds away from my goal weight and the scale would NOT budge.
WHAT THE HECK!
I’m eating the right amount, making that up with great foods, working out, and getting adequate sleep so what gives!
Then I started to stress because I swore NOTHING was working.
Then I started REALLY stressing – like full blown, screw this, I’m doing whatever I want mentality.
I looked back at my biofeedback journal and realized that I had only been hovering around this weight for about 9 days.
Those 9 days felt like an eternity, but those 9 days are perfectly normal to stay at the same weight.
Weight fluctuates, hormones fluctuate, and LIFE fluctuates.
I was just at a point where my body said it needed to stay at this weight a bit longer.
It wasn’t an abnormal amount of time, but I was putting so much pressure on myself to
lose that I over stressed the situation.
I forgot that my body just needed time to be and to adapt.
I forgot to give myself some grace.
And truthfully, I probably stressed myself out about it SO much that my body felt it was facing too much stress to lose right now.
I’ve done it myself and I have too many clients overly stress themselves about their rate of weight loss.
It’s practically normal.
You can manipulate what, when, and how you eat, but the truth is that if you try to force yourself to lose, it’s not happening….
But if you are really serious about fat loss, then it’s important you offer yourself some grace and allow your body to lose at it’s own pace.
Plateaus are a part of the process, it’s one of the joys of having an ever-adapting body; however, it doesn’t have to be a long-standing event. If you are ready to move past this plateau and to truly crack the code on your fat loss, then click HERE to get set up for a call to do just that!