Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How Are Physical Therapy and Diet Related?

This is a continuation of "Are You Broken?'....

In physical therapy, you would never instruct somebody with a fresh rotator cuff injury to bust out some push-ups on their first day (in fact, they may never be able to safely do push-ups again.) This is common knowledge... Wait for the tissues to repair, heal, and recover before subjecting it to any more stress. Your metabolism could be viewed similiarily; if the system is broken, stressed, or inflammed, why would you further subject it to MORE stress via dieting, restriction, or excessive exercise? And further more, how could you ever expect to get any better when operating in this manner?!

Just like with a broken bone or torn ligament, you should always consult a healthcare professional to learn specific protocols or interventions before jumping in or experimenting. I think the same should be applied for somebody that has damaged their metabolism through chronic dieting, diabetes, or even chronic, generalized stress. Here are some other tips if you are considering any type of restrictive diet and/or exercise program:

1. Check your body temperature every morning.
A healthy, fast metabolism should yield a 98.4-98.6+ oral temperature, or a 97.8 axillary temperature first thing in the morning. For a more precise measurement, try getting a second and third reading at about noon and 3pm before eating, drinking or exercising. Body temperatures that are consistently low or fluctuate a lot may indicate a hormonal disruption, and dieting will only exhaserbate the problem. Be aware if your extremities are frequently cold, especially when dieting, as this is could indicate low thyroid hormones.

2. Get a blood and/or saliva test.
Find a doctor you respect and get some lab work done. Some important items you may have to request are a FULL thyroid panel (not just TSH), vitamin D, iron levels, FULL hormonal panel (estrogen, testosterone, etc.), and possibly an adrenal saliva test to check cortisol levels throughout the day. Thyroid low? Adrenals shot? You should probably post-pone on the intermittent fasting.

3. Make sure you are eating enough.
Conventional wisdom suggests that females should never eat less than 1,200 calories, and males less than 1,800 calories a day. However, other agencies consider anything under 1,800 calories a day for females to be too low, and anything less than 2,200 calories for males is too low. If you're not eating enough on your diet, weight loss can plateau (or you may even gain weight,) your body temperatures will drop, and you'll generally feel run-down or cranky. Try increasing your food intake by 100-200 calorie increments throughout the month until you are consuming at least your BWx14.

4. Make sure you focus on food quality as much as food quantity.
I think it's well-known at this point that 100 calories from a dinky cookie snack-pack compared to 100 calories from a can of tuna fish is not the same. Food quality matters, regardless of quantity! Your body not only needs to be satisfied with a sufficient amount of calories, but it also needs to be satiated with a sufficient amount of nutrients. Eating foods devoid of nutrients (refined, processed, crappy garbage food,) will not only inflame your system (horrible for fat loss,) but you'll also be compromising your results by not providing yourself with the necessary vitamins and micronutrients to get lean and healthy. This isn't to say you won't make progress unless you eat ten cups of vegetables a day (although you're more than welcome to,) but I guarantee you will fare MUCH better at least consuming a wide variety of fresh meats, nuts, seeds, and animal fats that are full of anti-inflammatory components (seriously, did you know REAL butter is full of antioxidants?) You deserve good food. Treat yourself!

5. Listen to your body.
This is a biggie, but it either falls on deaf ears or it's nearly impossible to commit to for some individuals. After forcing your body to do things it doesn't want to do for years in order to lose weight, it's hard to just "let go" and LISTEN. Eat good foods when you're hungry, stop when you're satisfied. Sit down with your meal without distractions. Never eat when you're stressed (or at least try really, REALLY hard.) If you can't commit to your diet plan one day, it's OKAY. It's important to know that when you're stressed (not enough sleep, too much exercise, emotional burdens, etc.) your body eats up nutrients like nobody's business. It's scavenging for any and all nutrients to nurture your system during a state of turmoil, so it makes sense that you are more hungry during stressful periods. This isn't a green light to eat everything and anything in sight, but perhaps a higher-calorie day (of good, whole foods!) will be exactly what your system is begging for.

Be smart, be kind, and most importantly, be PATIENT!

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