I have covered a little about my dieting history and how flexible dieting and counting macros was a game changer for me. We all know that creating a calorie deficit will help you lose weight, but I want you to get a sheet of paper and a pen and write out your dieting history. Think about the times that you have cut back on your calories and gotten some results. How long did it take you? How little did you eat? Were you happy with the results and did you keep the weight off?
As a society, I truly believe we do not have a problem losing weight. I’ll bet anyone reading this has implemented a diet to shed a few pounds at least once in their life. I know I’ve dieted more times than I can count. We as a society don’t have a problem with weight loss; we have a problem sustaining weight loss.
Think about all of the advertisements you see that guarantee results in 30 days. “Drink this skinny tea and magically lose 15 pounds in time for your big event.” “All you have to do is eat nothing but veggies and this shake for 2 weeks, and it’ll jump start your weight loss journey.” Products like those mentioned above work, but very rarely do those using them keep the weight off. In my opinion, the above mentioned is all “BS.” Some may disagree with me, but I have years of personal experience and observation of others supporting my opinion.
Here’s another question for you: when you tried to restrict yourself, did you find yourself sticking to your plan all week only to eat more out of control on the weekends? Have you told yourself “I was good all week so now I don’t really care what or how much I eat this weekend?“ Afterwards, were you consumed with guilt? If not, I think that’s awesome, but more often than not, I find a lot of women are very similar to the way I was. You feel pretty crappy after eating for two. The reason you ate so much in a weekend is because you restricted yourself too much during the week.
My weight has fluctuated so much over the years. I got to a point where I had given up any hope of achieving my ideal body. There’s nothing worse than putting in hard work only to have results that last six months to a year or two. For me, growing up heavy, I used to always have to listen to my mother tell me “don’t eat too much.” From an early age, I was conditioned to think the only way to achieve the ideal body was to restrict myself. While this is true to some degree, it is often taken much further than required. Any diet requires a level of being uncomfortable and restricting intake, but you certainly don’t have to completely eliminate food groups and it is possible to diet off of a few more calories than you think possible.
Some important lessons I have learned in my weight loss journey is that our bodies are not meant to be in a caloric deficit long term and a good sound strategy is key to ensure you hold on to the results you have worked for. One of the reasons I have become a huge fan of counting macros is that you can easily implement a reverse diet strategy that enables you to slowly add calories back in over time and minimize fat gain during this process.
Reverse dieting takes patience, and based on my own experience, is a little harder than dieting down only because there’s not necessarily an easily defined end goal. It can mess with you because unlike dieting down, you will likely not see the scale budge. Every body is unique and will have a threshold for how much you can reverse back up to and you may end up putting on a little more body fat than you would like. However, it is very possible to reverse diet your way back up to an optimal amount of calories a day and still not gain a ton of weight. The key will be to try and stay at that threshold for as long as possible before you start to diet down again.
I began a quest late last year to finally target my last 15 pounds and keep it off for good. I had reached an optimal weight being on a restrictive meal plan before, but gained all the weight back within a year. For two years after, I struggled because I did not have the right mindset to truly be dedicated to what I was trying to accomplish (I will write more about this in a future post). Finally, in November of last year I started on a mission. I started out weighing 168 pounds and I had a goal to get down to about 150 lbs. For my height and my build, I knew that would be a weight I would be most comfortable at and was finally willing to get, and more importantly, stay there.
As I began to diet, it wasn’t bad at all. I started on a decent intake, but after about 16 weeks I started to feel things. I could definitely tell I had been dieting. I was still eating foods I enjoyed, but my body was starting to fight me. By week 20, I finally cried uncle. I was a few pounds shy of my goal, but I knew I needed to recover.
I realized I needed to look at the big picture. I asked myself what I wanted to look like a year from then and realized short-term goals no longer made sense for me. I knew in the grand scheme of things my metabolism wasn’t too out of whack, but I could use some time reversing. You see, every time you diet down, your body adjusts and gets used to a new maintenance calorie level. Think about it, you’re smaller so your body no longer needs as many calories. Without a good plan after you diet, you’re only asking for more weight gain once your diet is done. To sum things up, I implemented a reverse diet for the first time in my life and stuck with it for a little over 4 months. I ended up eating close to 2400 calories a day and stayed within a few pounds of my end weight when I stopped my diet this past spring. Fast forward to August of this year when I decided I wanted to try and reach my goal that I set for myself last November.
In August, I actually started dieting down on more calories than my previous diet. Using flexible dieting, I have spent the last 14 weeks in a deficit, but I am not miserable. I have also lost a little over 10 pounds eating the foods I love and am within a pound of my end goal. To be honest, I have never weighed this little in my life. I will continue for two more weeks and will then implement another reverse diet. This time, I think it will be for a bit longer because my body can use the break. I will be smart about it because I love the way I look and feel right now. I have new goals for 2018, and I know implementing a proper reverse diet will help me achieve my new goals.
My point in all of this is don’t be afraid to eat more for a while and just don’t diet. I recommend this especially to people who have a history of dieting. Most of those people will likely be women. I know not dieting may be a hard concept to grasp, especially if you are unhappy with the way you look, but for many people I believe not dieting is one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you still have that pen and paper handy, think about big picture goals and write them down. Where do you want to see yourself a year or two from now? In the long run, I think taking some time off the dieting rollercoaster is better if it means you can have the body you’ve always wanted and can keep it long term. Think about it: what’s 4 to 6 months or even a year of eating a little more and not losing weight if the long- term results are amazing?
Feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or follow my fitness journey on Instagram at @alicekmoore.