Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No Cookie Cutters

Before I started educating myself on fitness and nutrition, I thought if I just sweat enough... If I just restrict my calories and deprive myself of sweets, fried foods, and chips, the weight will just come off, right?

Sort of. If you eat less and move more, the weight will start to come off. But that is painting health and fitness with a rather huge brush stroke. There is a chance that you may not eat enough, or you may move too much, leading to over-training and injury. Listening to your body is a far better indicator than any specific calorie deficit or number of miles run.

The "common knowledge" in the fitness community is that if someone wants to lose 2 pounds a week, they have to have a calorie deficit of 1000 calories per day. This means that someone consumes 1000 calories less than they burn off in any 24 hour period. This makes sense, right? But for my body, not so much. When I hit my 1000 calorie deficits, my body thinks it's starving. I not only don't lose weight, but my body starts storing everything that enters my mouth. I have gained wait more times than lost it on days like that.

Also, most people believe if they spend hours on a treadmill or elliptical sweating, the pounds will melt off, yea? That is what we, as people trying to lose weight, are led to believe. But it's not true for me. I have been down that road and it didn't work. However, the day I started lifting weights and strength training, my body let go. The more muscle I packed on, the faster the fat disappeared.

When I work out, I am hungry. I can't be the stereotypical "fat girl trying to lose weight", sitting at the table eating nothing but salads and bland grilled chicken or fish. I need food, folks. My typical day is about 2000-2500 calories. My stomach is constantly growling even with that intake. For such a long time I was restricting myself to 1400-1600 and nothing happened. I lost not a pound. But as soon as I upped my calories, the pounds started to shed.

Am I saying that a thousand calories deficit won't work for you? No. Am I saying that pounding out hours on cardio machines won't produce results? Nope. Am I saying that you should eat a high calorie diet to lose weight? Not in the least. What I am saying, however, is that just because something that is considered a "norm" or an "industry standard" works for some people, it isn't going to work for all.

Listen to your body. It is your greatest ally in this struggle towards overall health and wellness. The closer you listen, the more you will learn about what it needs and what it doesn't. Feed it. Work it. Respect it. Listen and follow the signs it gives you. It will serve you well.

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