My views on weight loss and “transformation” have greatly changed over the past few years. I had thought that I had mastered the transformation process after putting myself through competitive-style diet and fitness regimes, but what I ended up discovering was that:
[bctt tweet=”To find true transformation, you must first focus on restoration.”]
As someone who had constantly dieted my whole life – not because I was obsessed with health & fitness, but because I had no understanding about how my body worked – I always figured that my problem was me and all I needed to do was basically figure out how to starve myself into a smaller size. But because “starving” did not appeal to me, I always ended up in a resulting binge cycle.
And I know that this is where many, many other women are stuck.
What I did not realize back then, was:
[bctt tweet=”Diet & exercise aren’t always a simple fix- they are part of the puzzle.”]
And even then, not in the way most people regard them to be (but that’s a whole other discussion). Have you ever felt discouraged because you are “sticking to your diet” so well, and working out, but you can’t figure out why you aren’t losing weight? Well, there is probably a lot more going on than you are giving your body credit for.
What I see as a fat loss coach and personal trainer, is many people who have created some degree of significant dysfunction in their bodies. They want to lose weight, but usually come to me discouraged, because they try to eat so little and get more exercise but nothing changes – and they feel terrible, which is not good motivation to keep “trying”. They also tend to sum up the lack of “transformation” as something they have done wrong – not enough willpower, haven’t been able to move very well in their workouts (or their body pain has prevented them from exercising), or that the “diet plan” or habits they were following haven’t worked.
This is where it is vitally important to take a step back from simply viewing our bodies as fat loss machines, whose main concern is to be ready for beach season or make us happy with the “right” number on the scale – we are not designed to plug in a code that will take fat off our bodies because we would rather be smaller and look better in jeans.
[bctt tweet=”Our bodies want to keep us alive + functioning. Retail sizes are irrelevant.”]
What I didn’t realize back then in the midst of my own struggles, is that my body was dysfunctional – not because I was necessarily just eating too much or not exercising enough – but because I was not focused on doing the things that would ACTUALLY make it healthy. In fact, some of the things that I was doing were chronically making my health and function worse….although at the time I didn’t care because, hey I was down 10 pounds and got to buy smaller jeans! The thing is, that never lasted. Again, not an issue of willpower or the “plan” stopped working – my body was just not healthy and so it really did not even want me to lose weight. It actually was trying to keep me fatter! This, the fight….the yo-yo dieting….the misery.
So, what was the real problem then??
I believe that over the course of 20 years, I had thrown myself into a chronic state of stress. Stress – any kind of stress (emotional, physical – too much exercise / not enough exercise, injury or illness, environmental – toxins, pollution, beauty products, dietary – too much food / not enough food / sensitivities) — will cause inflammation to body tissues (even the brain!) and this is a significant marker of dysfunctional health. And, this inflammation is so significant to our body’s function, that it will also cause the body to not want to (or be able to) burn fat.
So, think about this….are you, or have you been, fighting against yourself?
The sources of my stress (chronically, over many years) were likely due to:
– low-nutrition diet (poor quality foods, non-organics)
– chronic high sugar and processed food consumption
– very low intake of healthy fats
– periodic binge eating
– periodic very low calorie dieting
– emotional trauma at a young age
– food sensitivities (corn, gluten, dairy) that had been manifested in symptoms of eczema and depression – although I did not understand these connections until recent years
– periods of exhaustive exercise
– general lack of movement and exercise as a young person
– genetic pre-disposition to autoimmune disease
– chronic lack of sleep
– periods of very poor quality sleep
– irregular periods and bouts of amenhorrea when I was extremely active (daily workouts) and lower body fat
– ineffective emotional stress management
This is a crazy list. It’s hard to believe that at one time I figured that my only option to permanently lose weight was to eat as little as possible and push my body harder and harder. Given all that my body was coping with, what I should have been doing was simply focusing on healing all those things, not trying to see a different number on the scale as the measure of my health.
Obviously, each person’s list will look unique. We all have different experiences and influences on our health (or lack thereof). You may be someone who doesn’t “appear” to struggle with weight, yet the struggle has been very prevalent for you – or you may be at a major turning point in needing to make changes. Nonetheless – health is health, whether it is being achieved in a smaller package or a larger one.
The point that many people miss (or don’t get the opportunity to understand) is that they need to look at the bigger picture in how to create their best body – it’s not about losing an average of 2 pounds a week (“that’s normal, right?” – gahhhh) or having a specific goal. Really, you must work on correcting and healing and creating that solid foundation for your health FIRST. Amazingly, this is how the body will naturally work with you to find the healthiest weight for YOU. Going at it from the other way around is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
I’ve been there. I’ve tried. It just doesn’t work. I have been working on my better (best!) health for about 2 years now – since my last figure competition, when I had thought I had finally had gotten into the best shape of my life. Little did I know I had so much more to learn…..
Here’s a brief summary of what I changed my focus to:
I stopped caring about how my pants fit (ok, I am still working on not letting that bother me so much – but I am MUCH better!). I have dedicated myself to RESTORATION instead of transformation. The amazing thing is that for 2 years now, my body has stayed the same at a healthy-for-me size. My husband remarked to a few weeks ago when I was feeling a bit frustrated, how great it is that my body has been consistently the exact same for a couple years now – and that is actually PROGRESS for me because my experience over 25 years had been CONSTANT fluctuations in my weight – always up and down. We have been together for 19 out of those 25 years, so he has seen it ALL. This…..this is a major accomplishment for me.
Ironically, because I have been “restoring” – not “transforming” – I have been eating more food than I have in a LONG time. I have also not been exercising very much, and my goal has been to get to bed on time, relax as much as possible, and simply LIKE myself, exactly where I am, everyday. All that and I did not blow up into double my size. I stayed the same – strong, healthy body composition, and my clothes are actually starting to fit better these days. Of course, I have other health markers that have been improving (and some that I realized really needed a lot more attention), but I won’t get into those details for now.
So, this is what I want you to know:
If your weight is a struggle for you, and especially if you find that you end up in the same struggle over and over again…then commit yourself to take the time to RESTORE instead of just trying to transform.
[bctt tweet=”Your health is more important than the misery of fighting with yourself everyday.”]
If you have questions about this process or would like more information, I would love to hear from you. Be sure to join my Community Facebook Coaching Group or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂