For the past few months, I admittedly have put personal training on the back burner in consideration of my new physical therapist assistant position. I've been working at a privately-owned out-patient clinic here in Denver, and have been fortunate enough to end up with a great boss, great team, and great patients (who love to spoil us with enormous amounts of gourmet chocolate, but I digress...) I also lucked out since my boss wants to offer personal training at his two clinics, so I happily get to dive back into my passion of fitness. Speaking of which, I have finally decided to nix my 24-hr Fitness membership and go back to a "real" gym, owned by a National Powerlifting Coach. Here's to some new PRs!
Anyway, I was speaking with my boss the other day and he mentioned he was on a "diet" (my co-worker said he has been on a "diet" for the past three years.) He ate salad leaves for lunch that day with about a teaspoon of dressing. For the rest of the day, he commented he felt very "alert and focused" (due to the semi-fasted state he put himself in, causing a surge in stress hormones to keep him going,) but also very irritable (due to lack of proper fueling for a busy, on-your-feet Monday afternoon.) Since I've been really into Matt Stone's work and the concept of becoming metabolically unhealthy due to chronic dieting or restriction, I mentioned to him about the idea of "RRARF". For those who are not familiar with it, "RRARF" stands for Rehabilitative Rest & Aggressive Re-Feeding. In an extremely simplified explanation, RRARF essentially means eating as much as you want (and then some) and resting (no exercise!) until your body naturally tells you "no more" and you feel the desire to exercise again. Although, what some people don't seem to get is that your re-feed should NOT consist of Little Debbie snacks, fastfood, booze, or other psuedo-foods. The point is to eat nourishing, whole foods in their most natural form... Even including potatoes, corn, and rice, to get your metabolism going and your body in a happy, fed state for once. Now, I wasn't suggesting he partake in "RRARF" since I don't know his history, but I wanted to emphasis the fact that self-inflicted dieting (sounds scary, huh?) is a pretty miserable and sometimes dangerous practice that may ultimately end up in re-bound weight gain, thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue, sleep disturbances, reduced testosterone levels (yes ladies, you want testosterone, too!), and other hormonal issues. Still want that dry bed of leaves for lunch...?
Americans seem to be OBSESSED with losing weight. Yet, we're all still fat, miserable, and sick. We unsuccessfully try to override our innate signaling that tell us to eat and rest when we need it, thinking that we can finally be skinny by forcing ourselves to eat less and move more. While playing bad cop with our body may work for awhile (sometimes even years!), eventually we piss our body off and it begins rebelling. We get fat eating 1,200 calories a day and running 10-20 miles a week. How is this possible? Are we not trying hard enough? No, we're trying too much. I like this quote from Matt Stone that summarizes it pretty well: "Losing weight is like holding your breath. You will soon be gasping for air".
While I think SHORT-TERM dieting can be a very effective tool (especially when it comes to shedding the last few pounds,) most people are absolutely clueless how to "diet" healthfully without tanking their metabolism. Even worse, most people who finally decide to stop "dieting" for their entire life realize they don't even know how to eat a normal, healthy amount of food anymore. So what happens next?
I think seeking out professional help from a credible nutritional specialist should be the first step. I don't think a good practioner should give you ANOTHER diet, but rather, work closely with you to find a style of eating that works for you in a sustainable and nourishing manner. Losing and maintaining a healthy, attractive weight should not be a constant battle of mind over body... And if it is, you either haven't recovered or you're forcing yourself into a size that you won't function optimally at.
So are you finally sick of diets and deprivation? Try nourishing yourself with as much wholesome food as you want and sleeping as much as you want. Let me know how that works for you. ;-)