When I got down to my goal weight in 2010 from doing P90X I was counting every calorie I ate…
And every calorie I burned. Back then, I didn’t have the cool technology of the Fitbit so I tracked what I did every minute of every day and then logged it all on The Daily Plate. Since then, they’ve removed the feature of tracking activities such as sleeping, reading, talking, and other things that are not exercise. They probably removed it because of me, since I was crazily logging every minute of my day. If I went to the bathroom in the night, I logged that. If I sat down for two minutes at the library, I logged that. I wanted to know exactly how much of a deficit I was creating with my 1000 calorie-a-day diet.
At some point — specifically in late June after hitting my goal weight in May — doing Insanity, P90X, and running every day on 1000 calories was no longer sustainable and I began binge eating. I couldn’t control myself, I was famished. I wasn’t taking care of my body. Sure, I looked great, but I was anti-social and pretty miserable, since I was hungry all the time. Spending a minimum of three hours a day on exercise plus a full-time job doesn’t leave much social time, and I made it a habit of going to bed around 8 PM so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat late.
Besides wanting you to understand that there are happy ways to lose weight and miserable ways to lose weight, I do have a point for Thursday Thoughts: Exercise won’t make you skinny. Ever heard the old phrase You can’t outexercise a bad diet?
You can’t. Here are the obvious steps to getting your dream body. Obvious? Yes. Easy to follow? Not always. If it was so easy to do, we would all have our perfect bodies by now, right?
- Eat fewer calories than you burn. Counting calories is annoying, sure. It can be obsessive, I know. But in order to be sure you are going to drop weight, you must be certain you are eating fewer calories than you’re burning. How do you know what’s the right number to be eating? Livestrong.com will estimate it for you, as will many other websites. If you’re responsible enough to portion out reasonable amounts of food and not eat past your satisfaction point (not FULLNESS, just satisfaction), then good for you! Go for it. You’re a better person than I am. I have to hold myself accountable for every bite or the bites will become more and more frequent as time goes on. Some people can simply cue into their internal hunger signals. However, those people tend to be thin already.
- Eat RIGHT. What that means for you depends on what makes you feel your best. Only you know what makes your body feel healthiest. What it means for me is a vegan diet that is as close to all-natural as possible and includes solid meals of clean, high-quality food that will keep me nourished and energized all day long. For me, eating this way means weight melts off much faster. When I lost my weight in 2010, it took me 69 days to lose 25 lbs. So far, my weight has dropped much more rapidly this time around and I am eating more calories. But they’re good calories that my body can recognize and process. All calories are not created equal. The other day I had Nutella on my banana for dessert, rather than my usual peanut butter. Later I looked at the ingredients and realized Nutella has milk in it! Who knew?!?
So that went straight in the trash! The following morning, although I had stuck to my calories diligently, I had lost hardly any weight. I usually drop a pound minimum on a day that I eat clean and adhere to my calories. So I knew something was out of whack, and I am sure it was the Nutella. A vegan all-natural diet fuels my body in a way that I never experienced before making the switch. Eating a low-calorie diet void of nutrients will make you void of energy, miserable, and not losing weight as quickly as you could be.
- Work Out. Wait, am I contradicting myself now? The title is Why Exercise Won’t Make You Skinny. I’m not going back on my claim, I promise. If you want your BEST body you are going to want to exercise to complement your portion controlled clean eating, so when you reach your goal weight you’re not just skinny but also lean and toned. Exercise will make you fit. It will release endorphins and you will get hooked on doing it. But it will not make you skinny, not unless you’re starving yourself. Otherwise, burning more calories and creating a larger deficit is simply going to make you more hungry. You can’t go to spin class then run six miles a day and expect that your body won’t need more fuel. This type of diet will not last. If you do get your results, they will be fleeting, just like mine were.
So there you have it! Tony Horton, creator of P90X, says
“Take care of your body and it will take care of you”. I am finally learning what that means. It does not mean punish your body with hours of excessive exercise. It does not mean take classes at the gym that you hate because you’ve been told “no pain no gain”. It does not mean starving because your body is bad and won’t lose weight if you don’t force it into submission. On the flip side, it does not mean eating a whole pizza because you need a break or skipping the gym all week because exercise won’t make you skinny. It means: eating correct portions, eating right, exercising. Loving your body and treating it the way it deserves.
So, why is this so hard to do? I’m not a nutritionist or a personal trainer, I’m just a girl who wants to be in my best shape, like so many other girls. So here is my take on it:
Old habits die hard. Gosh, I am full of cheesy lines today. Like any daily habit, making a change will take major focus and effort at the beginning. People talk about eating healthy and feeling great and all you feel is tired, cranky, and hungry. I’ve been there. Junk food can be like a drug, truly. And withdrawal is hard. But once you get a few weeks in, you begin to love your new lifestyle and you don’t even have to think about eating right or working out daily: it just comes naturally. For me it generally takes three weeks of eating right every day to get into a routine. If I get off track one day, I really have to start all over. I get a taste for those junk foods and my cravings are back to square one. But, if I persist day after day, I come out on the other side of those 21 days feeling healthier, more confident, and ready to take on new challenges.
Speaking of challenges, here’s one for you (and me!):
21 Days. Count Your Calories. Eat Right. Exercise 4-6 Days Each Week.
Who’s with me? In three short weeks we will be better in so many ways for having committed ourselves. Comment on this post if you’ll take on this challenge, and come back tomorrow to see what I ate today on Food Journal Friday.