A client traveled to a beautiful European location over the holidays. She drank wine, ate the carbs, didn't exercise and yet she came back having lost 5 lbs.
Sarah was a mother of two and had been on every single diet in the book. She had done Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, downloaded Kayla Itsines one-size-fits-all workouts; she had even done fasting for days at a time. Nothing gave her the weight loss she wanted. When we started working with each other she was spending an hour in the gym every day doing intense cardio (how she did that as a mother of two is still beyond me...). She was also counting carbs and keeping them to less than 100 grams a day. She slept barely 5 hours a night and worked 6 days a week. Needless to say, she was operating at a stress level that was quite intense.
Despite all her hard workouts and low-carb dieting, she found she was gaining weight, especially around her hips, butt and thighs. She had recently also noticed 'weird' weight gain on the back of her arms and upper back she had never had before. Her face was puffy and she woke up with achy joints in the morning. She often lay awake around 1-3 am with a racing mind. She was always ravenous for food, but always restricting herself. She would go on binges on the weekends because she just couldn't keep up the intense restriction and it was her way of 'rewarding' herself for being so 'good' all week long.
She was struggling and very unhappy in her skin. She was ready to quit and just eat the whole fridge because nothing was working anyways. When we started working with each other, I changed her workouts from cardio sessions into shorter, intense lifting workouts that created an indirect cardio effect. I also had her stop counting carbs and instead focus on whether she achieved control of her appetite, cravings and energy with every meal. Needless to say, I suggested she put the time saved from exercise into sleeping more and taking her kids out for walks. I also instructed her to take a few supplements to help her body handle stress better and restore some deficiencies she had created as a result of the intense stress.
The changes started setting in quite quickly. First, she noticed that her appetite normalized and she no longer felt like she was at the mercy of her carb cravings. Her binges subsided. In fact, she realized she was eating MORE quality food AND was losing fat. Her entire body started changing in ways that got her very excited because the "back fat", as she called it, was finally coming off and she was even able to see her abs after the bloat disappeared.
The most dramatic change happened after her trip to Croatia with her family. While there, she slept 7 hours every night and didn't do any conventional exercise at all. Instead, she walked on the beach, hiked and biked, swam, laughed and let go of her stress from home. She returned having lost 2% body fat and 5lbs, even though she simply enjoyed her meals while on vacation. She indulged in the nightly glass of wine, had cheese and an occasional sweet treat and yet she returned feeling like a different person.
How Is This Possible?
If you look at it from the conventional perspective of "you have to eat less and exercise more to see changes', it makes no sense at all. But, if you look at it from a metabolism perspective, it makes complete sense.
Sarah was in a state of physiological stress, which stops all fat burning. She didn't sleep much, didn't rest much, overdid the cardio, restricted her food intake and worried about her weight all the time. Her metabolism had been stressed from so many years of dieting and over-exercising. Funny enough, these are all things her previous trainer and nutritionist had suggested to lose weight. They told her to do cardio to burn calories and eat less to lose weight. However, these suggestions backfired into fat storage and metabolic damage because it created physiological stress in her body. When that happens, the hormones adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol skyrocket. When they are elevated for long periods, they trigger a fat storage response in the body. After all, the female body is designed be fertile and when that's at stake, the body puts actions into place that preserve fertility and body fat. These stress hormones act on your brain to trigger intense appetite (especially for sugar and starches) and cravings and lower your energy (to preserve your resources), which leaves you fatter, more tired and always hungry with a few extra pounds as reserve. When I hear clients tell me about their insane workout schedules, they typically struggle with appetite control and the desire to binge-eat sweets and starches. If that's you, consider it a normal response to stress. If the stress remains high for extended periods, the body may break down in various other areas: thyroid function, digestion, brain health (anxiety, depression), hormones (fertility) and immune system dysfunction. In Sarah's case, she was finally able to see dramatic changes once she changed her workouts. She was doing a lot less, but more effective routines that saved her hours a week. Her workout time was reduced from 7 hours to 2 per week. She was able to get an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep every day. She was able to calm her appetite, so she would only get hungry at the normal intervals every 3-5 hours. The best thing of all for her was that she was finally able to enjoy family time again in a relaxed and engaging way. No more running off to the gym every morning in a frenzy to burn x number of calories. She was able to stick to her program because it was sustainable, got her results and allowed her to have a life. She was able to reset her metabolism and destress her body, which was ultimately the missing link.
If you're stuck in the exercise madness and not seeing results:
#1. Replace your intense cardio (spinning, HIIT, long-distance running) with strength training sessions 3x a week and follow them with at least 20 minutes of relaxed walking afterwards.
#2. Choose fibrous carbohydrates over sugary and starchy carbs (broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, mixed greens over rice, bread, potatoes, pasta). #3. Fill up on lean protein as it is the single most filling nutrient there is. It also preserves your muscle mass, which is what gives you that lean, strong and defined look. #4. Rest is absolutely crucial. If you rest your muscles for 36 hours after your workout, you will see greater gains, feel better, prevent the stress bloat and come back to a better workout. #5. Sleep is essential if you want to be lean. Lack of sleep raises stress hormones, skyrockets your appetite and makes you go for sugar. Plus, lack of sleep can create brain fog and make caffeine essential - more stress...
If this is all new information for you, you may want to
Join my Slim & Strong Program
I promise you, this program is life-changing!
WHO IS IT FOR?
anyone who is tired of overexercising, dieting, restricting, feeling like a hamster on a wheel and not getting anywhere with diet and exercise.
new moms short on time who want to take care of you while you take care of your baby.
It's ideal for the exercise obsessed who are ready and willing to explore effective ways to change their body.
It's ideal if you're struggling with menopause and feel like you're in an alien body.
if you're losing weight in the upper body, but your butt, thighs and hips are unchanged and want to get rid of the classic pear shape.
It's for you if you're willing to put in the work to read daily emails with education about your metabolism and put into action the most effective ways to get you to your goal.
It's ideal if you've done Weight Watchers and other one-size-fits-all approaches and not seen lasting changes.