Tuesday, June 11, 2013

You want me to eat HOW MANY CALORIES????

Quite a few conversations around here lately are starting with that question. "You want me to eat HOW MANY CALORIES???" Followed by, "You do realize that I'm trying to LOSE weight, not GAIN weight, RIGHT???" The answers are YES, and YES.        

And no, RockStar... I am not singling you out ;-) I'm hearing this from several folks - including my dear husband. He and I have had multiple conversations this weekend about what it's going to take for him to get to his goals... and he's fighting me on the calories I say he needs. FIGHTING.  I explain the science, I explain metabolism, I explain efficient fat burning... I explain until I'm blue in the face and still he says, "It's counter-intuitive. It doesn't seem right. I should eat less, and do more cardio."   ARGHHHHH.  Now, I'm about to throw my hubby under the proverbial bus... but it's ok - he said I could ;-)

Conversation 1:  I want to lose weight.
Chelle: Ok, we're increasing your calories.
Conversation 2: Shouldn't I be doing tons of cardio to lose this weight?
Chelle: No. You need more strength training instead.

Conversation 3: I've plateaued.
Chelle: Ok, we're increasing your calories, and changing your macros, and increasing your carbs.

Conversation All as a result of the above: Are you punishing me???
Chelle: NO. I am giving your body what it needs so that it will do what you want it to do.

Here's the deal... most folks are not consuming enough calories, and certainly not the right kind of calories. They're also not consuming the right breakdowns - macros - the % of daily calories that come from each macro: protein, carbs and fat. And here's another little factoid... there is NO one-size-fits-all for calories, or macros, or anything else.

You are unique. Your energy needs are unique. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. Not your situation, not your progress, not anything. You are the only one on YOUR journey with YOUR body. And your body needs fuel. Period. Sure, you can starve yourself, eliminate carbs, and become a cardio bunny. You can probably drop a few pounds and hit your goal. What happens when you start eating again? Or when you stop doing all that mindless cardio? Oh. Yeah. You gain it all back, and usually a little more. And FYI - all that cardio chewed up your lean muscle, meaning that you won't burn fat efficiently, and you risk becoming 'skinny fat', along with a host of health issues to face.

What's the solution? 
Excessive cardio eats up your lean muscle.

1. Eat Clean. Dump processed foods and chemi-drinks. Eat whole fresh food and drink more water.
2. Eat Enough Food. How many calories do you need to reach your goals? Use my free calculator to find out.
3. Eat the right type of food for your lifestyle. Bodybuilders need more protein than the average person, while runners need more carbohydrates.
4. Train more with weights. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns - even at rest.
5. Do smart cardio. You do not need to spend an hour (or more) on the cardio equipment every single day. Smart cardio is HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training. Get your heartrate going and work harder - not longer. 20 to 30 minutes is all you need. How many cardio sessions per week depend on your goals and your other activity. Typically 3x/week is a good standard.

So... last night the hubby and I hit the gym together. We warmed up on the elliptical and he went off to do back and biceps while I torched my legs. Afterwards, I hit up the elliptical again for some HIIT. At 54 minutes, we headed back out the door (ok, I wobbled out the door, lol) and compared heart rate monitors. His read a calorie burn of over 1,000 calories. Mine? 469. Darn those men! However... while I was bitching about how unfair it was, his mind was blown. He couldn't believe it! As we walked to the car, he had his "uber-deep-thoughts" look going on. We got in and he turned to me and said, "I get it. I totally get it. I see now why I need to eat more. Now it makes sense why my body would hold onto body fat if I increase my exercise and decrease my calories below what I really need. You're right."

Who are you and what have you done with my husband?  ;-) Wait... say that last line again first.  :-)

While I love to be told I'm right (haha), the greater victory was that the light bulb went off for him. He's now on track embracing the process, rather than fighting it. My home life just got calmer, lol. The best part is that by accepting the process, he's reduced his stress in it - and you know what stress does, right? (among other things) it increases cortisol production. What does stress-induced cortisol do? (among other things) it increases belly fat. By letting go of his fear of eating more, not doing enough cardio, and so forth, he's just given himself a big boost toward successfully reaching his goals.

Stress is one of the greatest forms of self-sabotage we can employ. While there are many things we can't control, and many types of stressors we face, the stress of "dieting" is big - bigger when we don't trust the process. You can be doing all the right things, but if you're letting stress (aka fear) rule your mind, your body will respond accordingly - by hoarding body fat instead of burning it, by holding water, by increasing fat stores, triggering depression and even chronic fatigue syndrome.

I know it's not easy. I've been there. I've traveled the path myself and I know that it can really suck. I also know that fighting the process will only slow down progress - if not halt it altogether. Over and over again my trainer would say to me, "Trust me, trust the process." It was so hard! But, let me tell you - when I did, my progress showed it!

So what about you? Are you fighting your body instead of working with it? Are you struggling because of fear? What will it take for you to buck the bad information and traditional fat loss plans and embrace the healing of your body and your metabolism? You CAN lose the weight, you CAN make a lasting lifestyle transformation, you CAN reach your goals. Trust me, trust the process.

As always, I'm here - if you have questions or thoughts, drop me a line.

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