Hey - it's James here.Founder of Route 1 health and fitness and today I have an important question I'd like to ask you.
Are you actually contributing to your own setbacks?
It's no secret that many of us are in a continual battle with the potential pitfalls that are regularly knocking, hounding us and trying to trip us up, and it's vital that the actions we make aren't adding to this list.
How many of you due to your past experiences with failure, would rather not try, because potentially stumbling again (even if it is a tiny remote chance) is too psychologically painful. .
One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving success is to address misinformation ( everyone has an opinion, but do you know what is actually accurate or who is just after your money?),
Another is to understand or recognise what are your usual pitfalls, and steer yourself toward habits/behaviours that contribute to weight loss (and keeping it off long-term) and any other health and fitness goal you may have.
It is a commonly known fact that on a basic level to achieve weight loss we must be in a calorie deficit, which we do by restricting calories and following an exercise program, simply put ( eating less and moving more as my sister would tell me). Both are crucial parts of a weight loss plan, but when taken to extremes these can leave you miserable and cause more harm than good, physiologically and emotionally, and lead you to fall off the wagon, binge and feel guilty for doing so. Something “extreme” might by going straight into a 7 day workout plan with weights nearly everyday, and ridiculous amounts of cardio, this is insane if you're just starting, it’s unsustainable and reckless.
If anyone tells you to train like this, they either don't know what they are talking about, or are being irresponsible after all are you training for the olympics?, (even i don't do such huge amounts of cardio everyday).
It’s Not JUST a Calorie Deficit
Yes it is true that weight loss is achieved through caloric deficit (calories consumed < calories used = weight loss), the journey though is rarely as easy this equation makes it out to be.
Above is my own weight loss over the last year and ass you can see it trends down, but it is not a linear straight line. The was a consistent calorie deficit in this period, but many factors lead to minor raises and spikes here and there. Hormones, stress and water retention are all factors to consider, fat loss was consistent, but weight loss as you can see isn't linear.
When we consider how hard it is to actually achieve weight loss, and then throw in all the misinformation and promises of a quick and easy fix, what we have is the perfect storm for failure.
It has been my experience that many trainers offer nothing outside of the ‘numbers’ giving them just the calories and maybe some more nutritional advice but nothing after that. A coach doesn't just simply give you a plan and send you on you're way, a coach should give you this info and then teach you about it, help you to learn to motivate yourself and arm you with adequate info so that you can go forward and achieve long term results
A Bad fat loss plan won’t offer any support outside of nutrition.
It is important NOT to be drastic in caloric restriction, because we don't want to create a toxic relationship with food, there’s a sweet spot that can encourage weight loss, but still avoid possible physiological and emotional damage to the you. Studies show that while exercise is important, weight loss from exercise alone is modest and must be combined with a sensible and structured diet that leaves the client in a deficit, it is true what they say, “it is extremely difficult to out train a bad diet.”
In other words, you need to understand two important things:
You need high levels of physical activity.
But your high levels of activity do not have to be vigorous.
That means you do not need to do hours and hours of slogging away on the treadmill each day. Instead, you would benefit more from moderately intense cardio activity for 30 minutes three times per week, with increased walking throughout the day ( i personally do 30 mins of high incline walking on a treadmill several times a week - and burn around 300 calories!).
Is It Possible to Harm Someone’s Metabolism?
This brings us onto the Big Question, the one that many people use as a convenient excuse for their failure due to all the misinformation out there regarding weight loss programmes. can you damage your metabolism through a calorie deficit?
Maybe you've heard horror stories of people whose metabolism was completely wrecked from following low-calorie diets and programs that involved insane levels of activity.
The simple answer is not exactly, this is because as you're body changes so does it's requirements, if you don't make account for these adjustments then it is only logical that results may stagnate as you're body settles and fully adjusts to its’ new composition
The equation for changes in body composition is:
Changes in body stores = energy in – energy out
Think of it this way, if you're in a calorie deficit, and you're losing weight, your body requires a certain amount of calories just to maintain itself, eventually, you're weightloss will match the calorie deficit, and you're weight loss will slow and stop, as you're body composition now matches the required maintenance calories, so to continue weight loss, you must adjust for you new stores and work out what your new calorie deficit must be and vice versa to gain weight. Remember heavier bodies require more energy to move around, therefore require far more calories than a lighter body, so the lighter you are the less you will need.
The above equation holds true for everyone, but there are a lot of other factors that must be considered as well, such as:
Sex hormone levels
These things should also be considered as variable as they can affect the above equation making it a bit harder to hone in on goals.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with the calorie-in-calorie-out equation.
The aim then of this post, really then was to address that a ‘damaged metabolism’ is really just a myth and created through misinformation or spread by lazy trainers and coaches who aren't doing their job properly. (i'm keeping separate those who have medical issues related to their thyroids etc)
To reach your goals, you should learn to recognise what is happening to your body. As you're body settles into its new composition it is important to adjust the required calories for your goals accordingly, the amount of calories your body will need to alter its composition will alter as you do, to match the new requirements.
Tracking your diet accurately is challenging, but the point I’m really trying to highlight is that attributing a lack of weight loss progress to “metabolic damage” is merely convenient and misleading. The truth is, creating a negative energy balance is the only way an individual will lose weight and vice versa.
So now that we have addressed that myth what we need to look at for you is how to prevent pitfalls in the future so you can continue on safely in the knowledge that you are moving on productively to your goals.
If your progress begins to slow, remember it is likely you need to adjust for your current body composition as it will have changed significantly from what it was previously.
Avoid going on extreme fitness plans, they are unsustainable to the uninitiated and can be harmful to you psychologically as well as physically
Train appropriately - moderately intense cardio (30 mins) and weights 3 times a week is more than enough to start.
Make sure you're caloric deficit is enough to nudge you into weight loss, extreme deficits can be damaging mentally and are more likely to leading to you “falling off the wagon”, and going on a binge.
If you are making use of a trainer, make sure they offer more than just the ‘basic number’ when it comes to you're nutrition, you want to learn how to structure your diet, as well as understand why you are doing what you're doing.
I see myself not just as a trainer/coach but also a teacher, my ambition is to ensure you understand why you are doing what you're doing and why it is appropriate for your goals. I do this because if you understand why you're doing it, i find that most people are more likely to proceed and achieve success.
One of the keys to your success is understanding how to adapt to your body, when it has adapted its current situation, when you crack this you will be well on the way to achieving your body goals as long as you are consistent