Jade recently asked me to contribute to ME’s newest online program, The Metabolic Rehab, by providing my personal story and those of my clients in terms of the mindset behind the metabolic damage process. I will leave the heavy science to Mr. Teta as my expertise is more aptly used in the mindset realm.
It’s important to realize that metabolic damage and fat loss resistance do not happen overnight. In fact, the process is the result of many behaviors done over time via yo-yo dieting and/or competition practices. However, the MINDSET that proceed these behaviors that can do a lot of damage also.
Below are 3 common mindset issues that many use to justify actions that can lead to metabolic disruption. I know, because I have extensive experience with each, and have coached hundreds of women with the same mentality. There’s no judgment here at all—this stuff is normal in the weight loss and physique world. It’s just that sometimes, our “good” behaviors can turn on us, at the physiological level, leading to futile results despite agonizing efforts. The bottom line is to learn how to work smarter, not harder or longer, and this can be a big shift for many of us driven, fit women.
1) We think we just need to do more: more workouts every week; more consistency with dieting; more minutes on cardio; more calorie cutting, etc. However, this way of thinking can get us in trouble when more and more effort reaches the point of diminishing returns. But psychologically, we believe we are not seeing results because we are not training enough, cutting calories enough or trying hard enough. For those dealing with metabolic resistance, the idea that simply doing more of the same stuff that created the problem only exacerbates it. The answer is to do things differently—not simply more of the same old behaviors.
2) We employ a black-and-white “dieting” mindset. This is typical of yo-yo dieters and especially competitors, who are either “in season” or “off season.” Simply using those terms does us a disservice. Does an off-season allow us the luxury of eating everything we want and skipping workouts? Does an on-season mean we need to do everything humanly possible to rid ourselves of any extra body fat, regardless of method employed? It’s the definition of extreme measures. But, as a society, we want extreme. We seek it out. We love the idea of losing weight fast. Or doing 2-a-day workouts to get results even faster. These sort of short-term solutions do us a disservice in the end because they are just that—short-term. They are behaviors based on willpower alone. And research shows that willpower is exhaustible, and of course we have all experienced that—extreme measures always peter out. By definition, habits take a longer time to form. If you are trying to form a habit in mere weeks, it’s not a habit; it’s a desperate measure. And desperate measures are scary for 2 reasons:
- They don’t last, so we always gain the weight back and usually even more.
- Not only do we gain more weight back, but this back-and-forth puts our metabolism in jeopardy. It’s not a benign process. The metabolism is like a tire getting worn down with more and more mileage. It doesn’t perform the same way forever. It takes a hit.
Now imagine yo-yoing up and down in weight several times, over years. No wonder our bodies start to protest—by not responding and/or forcing us to do more and more exercise and take in less and less calories to respond the same way it did last time we came down. Many competitors get into this vicious cycle that I call “cardio resistance” when doing more simply does not work, and in fact wears down a delicate metabolism even more. The farther you go down that hole, the longer it takes to dig yourself back out. Hence, the Metabolic Rehab program.
3) We tend to associate our physique with our self-worth. As a competitor and fitness model, I did this for years. I was a slave to my physique because I simply thought it was all I could offer. Others affirmed me when I was in killer shape on the cover of a magazine. It was hard to get that same affirmation for my intellect or for being a good friend I saw my physique as my meal ticket.
Though that’s an extreme example, I think it speaks to what many women feel in terms of their self-worth. We can have everything we want—great family, good friends, fulfilling career, but if our jeans become too tight, none of that matters. I think we do ourselves a disservice when we rely exclusively on the number on the scale to determine our worthiness. It is most likely unconscious, but ask yourself, could you be happy if you never lost another pound? Because the goal is not 0% body fat, right? The goal is to like the way you look. The goal is contentment. So why not skip the middleman and just be happy and grateful for your awesomeness in this moment. Just because we accept where we are doesn’t mean we stop striving. In fact, when we decide we are worthy right now, it frees us up to do the work necessary to take it to the next level.
When you get down on yourself about your body, remind yourself of all the other amazing things you have to offer: your intellect, your business prowess, your amazing friendship, your loving partnership, your sense of humor, your ability to be a great parent, etc. There’s so much more to be grateful for, apart from the number on the scale—sometimes it just takes a little introspection and gratitude to change the way you see things. You’ll be happier for it!