The topic that I have fielded the most questions and conversations about over the past few weeks has been regarding weight loss. Maybe because I’m skinny (I like to call it lean). Maybe because I used to be the fat kid (or ‘husky’ as I was told when I was younger). I heard the word husky so much I thought it was a brand of clothing. When we would go school shopping, we would always look for the ‘husky’ jeans. When school would start up and everyone was checking out each other’s school digs, I would brag that I wore ‘huskies.’ In my mind it was as popular as Bugle Boy, Vuarnet France, and Jams.
Just like the brands of the 80s are out of business, so is the 80’s ideal weight equation of calories in + calories out = ability to wear acid washed tight-rolled jeans.
Calorie expenditure minus calorie intake is good in theory for weight loss but in today’s world of massive toxicities, inflammatory lifestyles, and emotional roller coasters, it just doesn’t work anymore. Maybe it never did. The past 40 years, the nation has gone low fat, no fat, light calorie, and no calorie and for the first time in history of the US, the number of obese people outnumber the overweight.
Let’s get past the dumbed down, calorie counting, weight loss formula and take a look at some areas of your weight loss journey that aren’t addressed.
You Are Exercising Too Much
Minus the elite level athletes, have you ever noticed the abundance of endurance athletes that have a flabby belly, man boobs, or a muffin top? If the calorie in/calorie out formula created fit looking athletes, then you would think the ones doing races like the Pikes Peak Ascent or an Iron Man race would all be ripped with 6 packs.
I recently took a hike up the Manitou Incline and was amazed at the number of people hauling at a good clip but carrying an extra 20 -30 lbs. These people can move and go the distance but are their long distance journeys causing them too pack on the pounds? The flabbiness is both a diet and exercise factor but not a calorie in/calorie out one.
The longer we are in exercise mode, the more our adrenals are fired to keep up with the demands. The adrenals release a hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol has a role in dumping sugar into the blood stream to make sure you have enough energy demands. This is a good thing. If you need to escape a bear, you can. Cortisol gets unfairly villainized. Without it, you will never survive what life throws at you.
Where do we get this stored energy from? The first places are the liver and muscles.
Let’s back track a bit. Let’s say you never exercised and ate a daily breakfast of Capn’ Crunch, a Frappuccino, and a banana (gotta have some fruit). This would be extreme sugar overload and in the efforts to save your life, your body will release insulin to suck up the excess energy and store it for later. The first place it gets stored is your liver but the liver cuts off excess storage after about a day’s worth of energy. The next area is your muscles but again, will only take about a day’s worth of stored energy.
The least resistant area to store energy are the areas between your knees and rib cage.
Instead of your sugar loaded breakfast, you exercise for 60 minutes each day. There’s no need to consume sugar, your body is liberating it from your stores. Instead of the stores from the spare tire around your tummy, you use up the stores from your liver and muscles. Unless you’re exercising for 24 hours, it will be hard to touch the storage around your thighs.
A bigger issue why you exercise like a fiend and can’t lose weight is that you carb load before, during and after your workout. You eat some carbs before to give you energy, drink some during your workout, and ‘recover’ with another sugar loaded beverage. All those stores you burned from the liver and muscles get replenished, ready for tomorrow’s energy expenditure instead of taking it from the desired areas. And you wonder why you can’t lose weight in your waist despite your level of fitness.
But maybe you’re smarter than the endurance athletes. You know endurance is doing you no good in your weight loss journey and read in the latest fitness magazine that high intensity workouts will get you better results faster. The part you skipped is that high intensity should be coupled with short duration. You ditch your 60 minute treadmill workouts for a 45 minute high intensity one.
Your exertion level isn’t just firing the adrenals, it’s now burning them out and you feel even more exhausted. Remember how Cortisol gets villainized? Just ask anyone with adrenal fatigue how they feel. Most feel like they are dying. They would kill for some Cortisol. To curb that wish for death, you crave and consume more sugar loaded goodies, even gluten free ones.
Short duration means short duration. Short like 4 – 20 minutes (max). Stop going all out every day on every workout. Ever wonder why athletes don’t have long careers and are burned out at age 29 despite an off season?
Will I do longer workouts? Yes but it’s 1, maybe 2x/week. My workout on Monday lasted 10 minutes. Tuesday was 45 minutes. Wednesday was 13 minutes. Today was sets of 3 reps of weight lifting. Those sets probably took all of 15 seconds to complete with a minute or 2 of rest in between.
If you don’t exercise, take solice is the fact that you don’t have to hit it hard for 60 minutes. Start small with one round of a TABATA. A TABATA is a 4 minute cycle of all out intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Do this for 8 rounds. That’s it.
You Are Not Fat Enough
Your quest to burn and lose fat has caused you to ignore and shun fat. Fat consumption doesn’t make you fat in appearance. Avoiding fat to make you skinny is as effective as building wealth by taking out loans.
Fat is storage. It’s like a bank account. If your bank account doesn’t see much money coming in, you probably won’t spend much of that bank account. If your body has a lot of storage energy (fat), it won’t spend any fat unless there is an intake to replace it.
The most successful people I know are the most generous with their resources. The more they give, the more blessings they receive. The more fat you consume, the more your body will donate. Eating fat turns into burning fat.
When did our nation’s obesity and heart disease problem really sky rocket? When everything went to low fat. It’s not a coincidence. As I write this, I will consume over 1500 calories of fat through almonds and cashews. I do this every few weeks. I never count calories, I just added up the calories to give you an idea of what fat consumption looks like.
If fat made you fat, than I would still be wearing husky jeans, preferably Jordache.
Breakfast also contained some fat with eggs. I supplement fat with omegas. And my traditional dinner also has a fat component. Even if we have a salad for dinner as our main dish, we are adding fat with it like avocados, maybe bacon, and maybe some hard boiled eggs.
Not The Whole Story
There may be more to your weight loss journey. You and I have different life experiences. Other factors will influence your ability to lose weight like hormone imbalances, inflammation, certain medications, physical limitations, etc. If you’re stuck and have gone the traditional routes of dietician and personal trainer and still can’t make progress, give us a shout. Take advantage of a free 15 minute phone consult and see if we are a good match to work together.