I have been an athlete my whole life, mostly by way of soccer growing up, and in my adult life as a runner and occasional triathlete.
Growing up, I never thought about weight, and I was always athletic and average when it came to weight.
Once college hit, I tore my ACL my first year playing collegiate soccer and never made it back to the competitive field. The weight began piling on and I didn’t even know it. That’s how unaware I was.
One day I got on the scale, 40 lbs heavier than I had ever remembered being…yikes!
2 years of calorie counting later, I had finally lost the weight.
I held steady until I was pregnant with my first child. After she was born, once everything leveled off, I had about 20 pounds left to lose. It took roughly 6 months.
I held steady for a few months before getting pregnant with child #2. Once everything leveled off, I had about 40 pounds left to lose. I have lost 30 of it.
Across those 3 times, and collectively several years of trying to lose weight, I have developed some strong opinions on what works and what doesn’t.
I will always hold strongly to the belief that DIET is the most important factor in weight loss. I have tried calorie counting, paleo, cutting out added sugar, and I’ll say this. I really appreciate the way I learned how to eat when following a paleo mindset or cutting out processed sugared foods, but calorie counting reigns supreme for me. If I follow a strict eating plan, I careen way off track and the loss of momentum takes me a few weeks to get over before re-committing. Calorie counting just gives me a bit more flexibility to live the life I want to live. I love chips and guacamole, I love cheez-its, I love baking cookies and salted chocolate chip is my specialty. Calorie counting gives me room for that.
Another opinion I’ve developed is regarding the role of exercise.
I encourage ALL of my weight loss clients to separate their fitness goals and what happens in the gym from their weight loss goals. I do this for two reasons…
1. The connection, even from a calorie burning perspective, between working out and weight loss is fuzzy and unreliable.
2. It reinforces the thought that there is an “end” to your time where you work on your fitness.
Addressing number one…When you work out more, you have more of an appetite, which sets you up for eating more or feeling starved and unmotivated to continue your diet. In addition, if you are just cranking the cardio, you are burning muscle mass in the process which can cripple your metabolic ability to keep the weight off, as well as your ability to lose in the future should you happen to regain any.
And, if you are doing resistance training or strength training, you are building muscle mass which can look like the opposite of what you’re going for on the scale. This discourages strength training which kills me…because it is the essence of what we are all really going for…looking better!
Addressing number two, just because you hit a number on the scale doesn’t mean you can stop going to the gym! Weight training, running or whatever you’re doing for fitness is a huge part of how you feel and look! If you stop your fitness, you stop looking and feeling like you do! I prefer fitness goals for the gym. Achieving those should open the door to pushing yourself to be a little bit better, faster, or stronger.
For a little practical application on how these tie together…
I am currently 10 pounds heavier then I was before I had children…yet I am the same size I was before I had them, AND i’m so much stronger. Would I like to see that number on the scale again…Absolutely…
Would I trade the strength I have which enables me to live my life and maintain bone density for that number? Absolutely not.