I changed my diet and lifestyle and here's what happened...
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Despite what you may hear from other fitness and health professionals, I didn't do this by eating less and exercising more. I'm accomplishing my goals by shifting the way I approach health and fitness.
Discovering a sustainable eating plan and making the lifestyle change(s) that work best for you is an ongoing process. Read that again. Ongoing. Your current exercise regimen (if you have one, and you should!) and diet--I use 'diet' to mean the foods you consume-- is probably not going to work long term exactly as you’re doing it.
It can be super challenging to figure out what foods work for you, when to eat, how to make it a lasting habit and turn it into a lifestyle. Then once you think you have it all figured out together SOMETHING impacts it, maybe a stressful life event, traveling and/or being out of routine, illness…perhaps the foods you were eating are no longer working for you. Then you have to change it all up again. Even experts have trouble fine-tuning this for themselves and believe me when I say NONE of them got it one hundred percent right the first time.
As a low carb/keto nutritionist, I understand every body is unique, ever-changing and constantly striving for internal balance. I’m certainly not perfect, though, and revisit this idea over and over as I work toward my personal goals as well as when working with clients. Over the past few months I’ve made some changes that I’m pleased to say have worked well for me and some or all of these may work for you too! That said, do not implement these suggestions without first consulting with your doctor &/or a trained professional.
Meal Timing and Frequency
By now you may have read or heard about intermittent fasting. There are a number of fasting protocols out there. Equally important is your body’s internal clock. Time-Restricted Eating (or TRE) is being researched and may be more important than the fast itself. I already intermittent fasted for at least 12 hours per day, but kicked it up a notch as of late. Some days I fast closer to 24 hours and eat one big meal a day (aka OMAD, or one meal a day) other days I may just skip dinner. Snacks are avoided too. If I want a snack-type food, I eat it right after my meal. My last meal is at least 3 hours before bedtime.
I drastically upped my protein. Now before you do the same, please first seek advice from a trained professional and track your food to know how much you currently consume. Overconsumption can lead to health problems as well. Shakes and powders, plus foods with added protein make it super easy to overeat protein. Going too high can tax the kidneys and the excess protein can turn to fat. For me, upping protein meant going from a too-low amount of about 40g/day up to as high as 100g on most days.
Some days I consume a higher carbohydrate diet in the form of increased veggie intake or maybe even something starchier like a small sweet potato. Does that mean I get knocked out of ketosis? Probably. That's where being metabolically flexible becomes important-you can easily re-enter ketosis by fasting or having a ketogenic-friendly meal the next time.
Brown Fat Activation
Not all fat is created equal. Brown fat is present in the human body, babies and children have more of this and it decreases as you age. The function of this type of fat in the body is to keep you warm. Babies are unable to shiver to keep warm so the brown fat steps in and generates heat.
This brown fat is unique in its ability to burn energy rather than storing it like the white fat does. Even more awesome, you can actually convert white fat (the kind we most want to be rid of) to brown fat to help you burn even more. There are various ways to stimulate brown fat such as cold therapy, such as the use of ice baths and cryo chambers. Exercise also helps this conversion happen when the muscles release an enzyme called irisin.
I've been incorporating this lately at a very low level in terms of extremes via cold thermogenesis. Baby steps, people! At the end of my shower I turn the water to the coldest setting and let it hit my face, neck and chest for about 15-30 seconds. I'm working my way up gradually since it definitely takes my breath away. This activates the brown fat to release hormones enabling you to burn white fat at a faster rate. Start with a few seconds and work your way up to longer periods. You can read more about the benefits of brown fat and its connection to weight loss here and here.
Consistency is key with supplements and homeopathy. I’m finally super consistent in taking HCl every time I eat, especially if it’s protein.
Being a group fitness instructor is a physically demanding job, especially when you do the workout with your participants. Fortunately, I have a diverse class schedule which allows me to vary my workout type and intensity. On a weekly basis I cycle, have 3 evenly spaced weight training days (not consecutive), high intensity interval training and core work, and Tabata intervals. Tabata training has been an absolute game changer for me and has taken my fitness to a whole new level.
Varying your workouts is absolutely essential to having any success toward your goals. More is not necessarily better. We all love certain classes but over time your body adapts and you no longer get the same benefit from what you’re doing. Lifting weights every day or doing massive amounts of high intensity training is going to backfire in the form of overtraining your body. Other low-impact and low-to-moderate intensity classes such as yoga and dance may not be physically challenging enough on their own to drive change either.
Muscle isn't made in the gym. It's created as you repair the microtears in your muscles as you sleep and rest. As my schedule grows--I’m now up to teaching 6 classes per week
--I’ve become smarter about what I do with my free time. Sometimes I train on my own on days I teach. Most importantly, I have 2 rest days that enable my body to recover. During those days I’m still constantly moving, but more in the form of cleaning, hikes and walks. I also sleep an average of 7 hours each night.
Here's one last point to take home: Don't rely on the scale to give you a clear indication of what's working. NONE of this resulted in any significant weight loss. The scale tells me I lost 4 pounds. However, my overall inches have reduced, especially in my waist. My clothes fit better. Today I'm wearing jeans that I had hidden in the back of the closet for a couple years because up until a few months ago they were so tight I couldn't pull them up my legs.
Any one of the changes I mentioned could be a major contributor to my success at this point. I’m excited to share and hope one or many of these work for you. Email me with your success stories and let me know what’s working well!