“I was really scared!
“I thought you had to be on a restrictive diet all the time if you want to reach your goals and stay there. That’s what I’ve always believed.”
A client said this to me recently when I asked her how things were going with her nutrition following the conclusion of her 204 Lifestyle program. We had worked together for three months to change body composition, and she crushed it by consistently hitting targets that were set to support training but not body fat.
When she hit her body-composition goals, I knew it was time change her targets and increase her caloric intake because her body was adapting to the reduced calories. If I had kept her targets there, she would have been walking around underfed without making any more progress. Many, many people get stuck here.
I gave my client new targets and asked her if she was enjoying all the food she was able to eat.
“I love it! I feel amazing.”
As a nutrition coach, I’m often challenged to convince my clients that they need to eat. I’m not just referring to high-power athletes. I mean everyone—moms, dads, grandmas, teens, etc. The food and diet industry has convinced people that the only time they’re making progress is when they’re hungry. It’s also sexy to cut weight because doing so is very measurable and allows you to track progress and cross goal numbers off.
But you can’t be in a very restricted state all the time. It’s simply unsustainable, and your body stops responding. Science has shown us that our bodies will adapt to being underfed over time, and that starvation diet will stop working. Then sadness and frustration set in, often accompanied by low energy levels and hormonal issues. Progress stalls, and many people ditch new healthy habits for old patterns. They move backward until they start the next quick-fix diet. It’s an endless cycle of yo-yoing that doesn’t result in a healthy, happy lifestyle.
To prevent all this, we cycle clients between reduction and expansion, creating long-term, sustainable progress toward goals. We do this to help the body change physically, and we also take into account the mental stress of changes. We can’t always reach the top of the mountain without stopping for more supplies and a little rest along the way.
So what do you do when you’re not cutting weight and dieting down? What happens when you reach your goal? Or maybe you didn’t reach it but your coach says “that’s enough for now”. What happens then?
We eat! But we eat sensible amounts of great food that will keep us on track even when we aren’t in a restricted state.
So many good things happen when we’re eating good, nutritious whole foods. We thrive in every way. We feel better physically and emotionally, we perform better, we sleep better, and we think better and we’re happier. We share time with friends and family at special events and we create memories. We do all of this while enjoying calculated amounts of healthy food that will keep us moving toward our goals.
If losing weight is a goal—and it is for almost everyone I work with—you have to accept the fact that you’ll eating more a some stages than at others. That’s part of the plan.
Consider a person who is overweight due to a very poor diet full of fast food. If we make some caloric and macronutrient adjustments, that person will lose weight. Eventually, it will be time to move out of restriction. What if that person isn’t in a deficit but now eats appropriate amounts of healthy food? The results will be dramatic. The best part: bad food is packed with calories, but healthy food is not, so you can eat larger amounts of healthy food. We teach people how to make satisfying, wholesome meals that help them accomplish goals without sacrificing enjoyment of food.
It’s all part of the plan.
If you’re miserable on a restricted diet or haven’t ever had success with a diet, try a new approach. We’d be happy to talk to you about a long-term, sustainable plan for success. Contact us here.