Step Away From The Diet And Into A New You

In my work I have encountered more people who need to eat more calories to lose weight. I see this so often that I decided to share it and hopefully someone reading this will be able to use it.

There’s nothing I hate more than diets. I’m not into diets, I’m into lifestyle changes. People don’t go on a diet to get fat so going on a diet to get healthy doesn’t make sense. They haven’t been on a ten-year diet, they’ve been living an unhealthy lifestyle. Most people don’t think of health when they diet anyway. They are just thinking about losing weight. The key to losing weight permanently, getting your health in order, being fit, and feeling fantastic is to live a healthy, active lifestyle. Bouncing from diet to diet or being a chronic dieter, can actually accrue more health issues.

Most people believe that in order to lose weight they must eat fewer calories. Less food and fewer calories. We get it from the idea of diets. We have this image in our mind that people who are fat, obese, overweight, are so because they stuff their faces all day long with junk food. It’s actually not usually the case. More often than not, I find that I have to teach people to eat more. Many overweight people can be gaining weight because they are eating just 1-2 small meals per day. Or they have one high calorie meal and lots of snacks. It sounds crazy, but it’s true! At the end of the day they’ve had only 800 calories, which is not sufficient for fat loss. All these little things dramatically slow weight loss. Not just weight loss is affected. Low energy, poor digestion, achey joints, headaches and even gaining weight are the things that can be signs you’re not eating enough healthy calories. I know better than anyone because I made all these mistakes.

Here is how your body works: in order to survive the body stores fat. When there is no food your body will eventually tap into its fat reserves and live off that until food is available. This is the LAST resort. Your body will “eat” its own muscles before it takes from the fat reserves. When you eat too little or too few calories your body believes it is starving. As a result of this, it takes food you ingest and stores it as fat because it believes it must in order to survive. So whenever you eat, instead of your body processing the food regularly, it is storing fat. When you eat healthy foods often and meet your caloric needs then your body will release fat and process the food normally because it believes that food is abundant and therefore there is no need to store it as fat because there is no danger of starvation.

The key to healthy weight loss is regular meals throughout the day. Generally speaking, women need 1,200-1,500 calories per day to survive and even more to lose fat and keep and build your lean muscle mass (men need 1,500-1,800 to survive). This doesn’t mean that you should reach for that extra cookie thinking, “Well, I’m low on calories today.” If you go out to a restaurant you can easily consume this in one meal. If you are eating healthy foods it is surprisingly difficult to eat this amount of food. Susan Bowerman, registered dietician, has some excellent videos on keeping track of your calorie walletShe has one for carbs, salads, dairy, fish, and condiments.

It’s true what they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why? Because after a long night of no food your body is looking for the signal that there’s no danger of starvation. Having a healthy breakfast signals the body that food is available. The metabolism begins to work better, which burns more fat. Not having breakfast means your metabolism remains slow in order to reserve energy because you’re undernourished and therefore must hold onto that fat for dear life! After consistently having a healthy breakfast your body will efficiently process food, burn fat, and build lean muscle. A healthy breakfast will be balanced in carbs, fats, and protein and consumed upon 30 minutes after rising.

However, you’re not off the hook if you just have one healthy meal a day and the rest is junk or that after breakfast your next meal is around 1pm. It’s important to continually nourish your body throughout the day with foods rich in vitamins and minerals. This allows for your body to heal itself efficiently, work incredibly well, and function properly. Think of your body as your car: you would never put cheap gasoline into the gas tank of a Ferrari and you would never be able to run your car even when there’s no fuel. Our bodies have the amazing ability to run without fuel, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK. Cherish your body. Love it and take care of it.

A common problem I see is that people will eat perhaps healthy, but too little in the first half of the day and then by the evening they are craving salts and sweets. Another one is that people will stop eating at 6pm, but they go to bed at midnight. For this one it’s important to understand that your metabolism needs to constantly be fed in order to run fast. When you are up and doing things, but don’t eat for 5-6 hours then your metabolism slows to compensate for the lack of food and thus you may get tired. It’s best to have a light meal up until 1-2 hours before bed. Cravings in the evening can easily be remedied with getting the majority of your calories in by 3pm. When I struggled with this, this was my plan. Get the majority of carbs and calories in by the late afternoon so that by evening you don’t need to make up for them and have heavy meals. Remember, when you’re craving salts and sweets it means your body is sending you a message and usually it is that you didn’t eat enough calories the previous day or that morning.

Before Luka introduced me to Herbalife and a healthy lifestyle this is how my day looked like: wake up and go to school where I would have a couple of shots of espresso or some other kind of coffee beverage and go to class. I wouldn’t have my first real meal until 1pm or later. Then I would find some sugary or salty snacks to munch on and more coffee until I went home from school. Around 9-10pm I would be starving so I would either go out for food or make something at home. Either way, whatever I ate was incredibly calorie dense. Or I would have coffee in the morning, go out to lunch, have a heavy caloric meal, another heavy meal for dinner, go for more coffee, and then lots of snacks while I studied and worked throughout the night. Generally, I had 2 calorie dense meals, some snacks, LOTS of coffee, and alcohol on the weekends. I was working out in the gym at this time and after 6 months of working out 4-5 days a week I had ZERO results. I was still fluffy. With this lifestyle I had headaches everyday, stomachaches after every meal, awful acne, low energy to the point where I could nap for 4 hours in the middle of the day, back pain, and just general pain and sickness. I wasn’t very often sick where I would be in bed, but I just physically didn’t feel well. You know the craziest part? I didn’t even realize it. I thought it was normal to have headaches. Everyone has headaches! Or so I thought. Then Luka happened. He would say, “Do you realize that your body should work perfectly? You are young! You shouldn’t have any pain! I never experience pain. I never have headaches.” This still didn’t make anything click for me. Then I went to Slovenia.

When I went to Slovenia, I visited Luka for 3 weeks. Those three weeks changed my life. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but Luka essentially forced me to eat like him. He gave me nutrition, balanced my diet, made sure I drank more water, and we kept physically active. One day he asked me, “how’s your head?” and I said, fine. He asked, “When’s the last time you had a headache?” And that’s when it hit me. For the first time in 8 years I couldn’t remember the last time I had had a headache. It must have been 2 weeks ago! The next thing I knew I dropped 10 pounds. Over the next few months I continued on my new lifestyle and found that my poor little body had been so mistreated by myself. And it was totally unknowingly! The thing is, I didn’t realize I was unhealthy. I didn’t realize I was the one hurting my body.

So now I have lots of compassion for people who are experiencing physical pain and who are overweight or underweight because often they just don’t know. That’s why I do what I do. Because someone out there is me. Someone is who I used to be. Maybe I can reach them and teach them the keys to a new body and a new life.

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