Weight loss is an interesting thing. It seems like it would be as simple as calories in versus calories out: Eat too many calories and gain weight. Eat fewer calories and lose weight. It's a simple mathematical equation ... except that it's not.
Four years ago, I ate whatever I wanted and exercised moderately. I wasn't in my best shape, but my body fat percentage was average, about 21%. Then, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I gained 50 pounds and upon giving birth, had an urgency to lose the weight and get back into my fitness spandex.
I saw a hormone specialist who recommended eating a diet of zero starches, zero fat, zero sugar (including fruit) and approximately 1,000 calories per day. I was eating lean protein such as egg whites or chicken paired with vegetables, and I was also doing high-intensity workouts nearly every day. I was back to my pre-baby weight in about nine months, but I was essentially on a bikini competitor's diet and exercise program the entire time, while actual bikini competitors typically do this for three to six weeks before a competition.
Well, then I got pregnant with baby #2 and gained 60 pounds. The day my son was born, I was back on my doctor-prescribed diet.
It sort-of worked, but it took longer and I had to eat even fewer calories than before to see results. I experimented with many food/exercise/calorie combinations and found that the only way for me to lose weight was to be eat less than 1,000 calories per day! All I could think of is that before I got pregnant, I could basically eat whatever I wanted and maintain a decent and healthy physique. Something was wrong.
Ten months later, I still had not achieved my pre-baby body and I was very cranky from always being hungry!
So I started taking notes. I noticed that if I overate one day, I would gain a few pounds immediately. If I overate for two or three days in a row, I would slowly lose those three pounds I'd gained. It didn't make sense, so I started researching bikini competitors and their diets, and found that many of them suffer from serious metabolism issues after competitions.
I found that they experienced many of the same issues I had: fast weight gain when consuming a normal amount of calories, stomach bloat, digestion issues, etc. What I discovered was that I needed to rebuild my metabolism.
It's been a slow and agonizing process, but I'm finally getting my metabolism back to normal. After all of my nutrition training, exercise knowledge, experience working in fitness and my many, many certifications, I had never come across anything like this. It's embarrassing to admit, but I went against everything I knew about health and wellness to achieve fast weight loss.
So, how do you know if you've damaged your metabolism?
- You're constantly on a calorie-restrictive diet.
- You've completely eliminated a specific macronutrient group from your diet, such as carbs or fat.
- You can't eat at your full calorie capacity without gaining weight.
If any of these apply to you, it's time to start rebuilding and repairing your metabolism. The first step is to find your calorie capacity: To maintain your current weight, you should be able to consume your body weight in calories multiplied by 15. So if you weigh 130 pounds, multiply that by 15 and your ideal daily calorie intake is 1,950.
Remember that it's important to consume a balanced diet of all three macronutrients: carbs, fats and protein. Our bodies need all of these macronutrients to function. Eliminating one causes not only hormonal imbalances, but also the inability to lose weight
To keep your metabolism firing all day long, eat healthful and well-balanced meals, never eliminate a food group and eat at consistent times throughout the day. Cutting calories won't work for long-term weight loss or overall health, and it could actually prevent you from losing weight in the long term.
I hope this saves you years of agony as I wish someone would have told me about this sooner!
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