I know that when jumping into a new routine + striving for fitness, a lot of us go full force. We’re all in + we want results – fast. I’m guilty of it too. ++ While there’s something to be said of our passion + determination, the reality is that our bodies will only adapt to a certain point before they begin to fight back. This is just as much a lesson on overtraining as it is on determining healthy weight loss goals.
I’ll be blunt – fast weight loss isn’t sustainable weight loss. It just isn’t. The only way to lose weight + keep it off [without being hangry for the rest of your life] is to take it slow.
There is a reason that the recommendation for healthy weight loss is 1-2 lbs per week, the main one being that the process of weight loss goes hand in hand with building a healthier lifestyle — they both take time. Just like it takes time to change your eating habits + workout routine, it takes time for your body to go through all of the metabolic shifts + changes that happen when you’re getting in shape.
Let’s think about what a typical person does to lose weight — lower calories, increase activity [usually cardio]. + I’ll admit, it works – for a while. But what’s really happening, under the surface? You’re body is not only getting less calories than usual, but probably less calories than it needs to perform basic functions [like breathing]. So you’re body says, *okay – I have to make some changes here to use less energy, since we’re apparently starving…* Your body slows its metabolism down and begins to do whatever it can to save the fat you’ve got. It burns muscle + any available sugar in the blood instead. At this point, there’s not enough sugar to keep your brain running smoothly. You’re tired, you can’t think as clearly + your body is exhausted. But you’re losing weight — so it’s all good right?
Fast forward a couple months. You’re tired ALL THE TIME. You haven’t lost any more weight in weeks + can’t even think about eating less food. You’re weak during your workouts + just about every other moment of the day you’re craving hard. At some point you snap. Pizza, ice cream, chocolate — ALL the chocolate — this feels great right? Welp, there goes the diet. A few weeks later + you’re right back where you started. It’s okay — you’ll start again Monday right?
This is the terrible cycle we have all gone through. We push our body to its limits only to have it bounce back at us. Let me throw some science at you — it has now been published that the age old *3500 calorie* theory isn’t as valid as we once thought. This is the theory that burning 3500 calories per week on top of your daily caloric burn will help you to lose 1 lb per week. We’ve come to find out that as people lose weight, their metabolism shifts + changes + this calorie amount doesn’t exactly apply. HOWEVER — the recommendation of a few pounds per week still stands. Why? WELL — let’s go back to that theory. 3500 calories per week would be the equivalent of cutting out 500 calories per day — and that’s only to lose ONE POUND per week. Cutting down 500 calories a day or more, especially for us girls who already have a pretty good grasp on healthy eating is a lot. Like A LOT. To lose 2 lbs by this logic — 1000 calories. To lose any more than this we would have to burn an EXTRA 1500+ calories PER DAY.
Most people will create this caloric defecit by working out more than they ever have + eating less than they ever have [or ever will again]. So again, you will lose weight, but once you return to your normal lifestyle [because no one can stay in this pattern forever] the weight will slowly creep back because at this point, the body has been underfed.
The same goes for when we over-train. We may see results at first from those two-a-days, but the reality is that for most of us, our goals don’t actually NEED us in the gym for multiple hours a day + in the end, we’re only going to get injured or exhaust our bodies to the point of shutting down.
SO — regardless of your goals, remember that it is a process. It takes time + patience. And any immediate results you see from pushing your body past its limits probably won’t last. In the end — if we treat our bodies with respect and understanding for its boundaries, we will build a body that is stronger and more beautiful than we ever imagined.
+ Alexa, RD [@lexx_inchaarg], VirtCHAARG from Cincy