Stress – Your scale’s worst enemy

Stress – Your scale’s worst enemy

When it comes to all of the reasons why your weight rises in any given circumstance, the one reason women overlook the most is Stress.  I know we have all muttered it before, “Yeah, I know I'm stressed out, but I'll just keep doing what I am doing” or “I know I'm stressed, but I'm not that stressed”

If you are under Stress, the scale will not co-operate

Weight Gain Troubleshoot - Stress We have talked before about how the scale is not a good indicator of success in your journey, but when you add stress in the mix, it can be downright cruel. When the body is under stress a number of things begin to happen. First, cortisol levels shoot up. When this shoots up, water retention levels also shoot up, causing the scale to say things we don't want to hear. If your cortisol levels stay high for prolonged periods of time, the gain on the scale becomes a permanent one.

Stress weight is the hardest weight to lose. A cycle takes place when we are under stress and most women don't realize that the very things we are doing to lessen stress, is what is actually causing more stress. We become stressed at home – then we decide to hit the gym and kill it – then we decide to tighten up on our diet, or pick at what needs to change in our diet – then we stop sleeping well – and so on..

Each of these things are a stress to the body. Even though we think of “going to the gym” as a de-stressor, it is still adding stress to your body overall. Stress in women tends to show up in the belly area, thus the “Stress Belly.” So when we see that our belly area is growing, it is a good sign that we need to look at the stressors in our life and find a way to relax and slow down again.

In times where we cannot control personal stresses, like a job, move, or divorce or something, we need to be able to stop other stresses from piling on.

Things to consider to reduce stress

  • Eat at TDEE and take a maintenance break
  • Reducing your time on the steady state cardio machines
  • Staying away from HIIT workouts
  • Participate in a pilates or yoga class
  • Leisure walks
  • Rest week from the weights

Being aware of how stress affects our body and knowing how to deal with it properly will certainly set you up for future success. Sometimes we cannot control stress, but when we can, we need to limit our exposure to it and be prepared to scale back on other things until the stress period has passed.

 

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How Stress is Destroying Your Goals

How Stress is Destroying Your Goals

“Remove this.”  “Add that.”  “Do only this.”  “Never do that.”

In our constant pursuit of the perfect body, misplaced focus has become the name of the game.  The fitness

industry (that I both love and loathe) is infamous for placing more emphasis than needed on the things that matter the least, and not enough on those that matter most (more on this in my next post: Understanding Best Practices).  One area that stands out lately — when talking with trainers and clients — is brushing off the stress factor, and not truly realizing how big of a deal it is.

(This broadcast goes into more detail on this)

The cost of ignoring the stress factor.

We often hear (and say!) phrases like “I know that I've been a little stressed lately…but I should still be seeing some results…”

While nutrition and exercise both play a huge part in fat loss, we tend to overlook stress. The reality check is this: when it comes down to dealing with excess stress, you can’t out-eat or out-exercise it.  And those who attempt to, discover a rude awakening.  What begins as a small issue can quickly lead to a downward spiral. Seemingly insignificant stress can lead to water retention.  Concern over the temporary water retention (“weight gain”) often causes a panic of more restrictive dieting/intense exercise. Worry + diet + exercise = stress overkill.  This increase in stress leads to even greater sodium retention/cortisol release (more weight gain) – insert slippery slope here. It's very easy to look up from what could have been a weekend relaxation-fix (temporary) and find yourself facing an additional 6-12 months on your fat loss journey (true fat gain).

IMG_3429Do we even recognize stress anymore? 

As we age — and have more on our plate; kids, aging parents, and work — we don’t realize how much stress has piled up.  As women, especially, we tend to feel like we can handle everything that’s thrown at us.  We even take a certain level of pride in it, bragging (aka complaining with no intention of changing/getting help) about how much we have to do every chance we get. One of the sneakiest things about stress is that while we can typically recognize the big stressful events (death, sickness, work projects), there are some stress factors in our life that we don’t even recognize or categorize as such. For example, working out creates stress on the body. While it may feel therapeutic, exercise can actually exacerbate stress levels.

Not being able to recognize stress in it's various forms often leads to fighting fire with fire, and introduces a host of other issues.

Address the root, not the fruit.

Stress is a master of disguise, and the enemy of the modern woman's health.  We first give it all the room it needs to work (take root) by disregarding it's presence.  Once in, it can do all the damage it needs, by keeping us busy attacking “symptoms” (the fruit it bears).

Stress-related symptoms can translate to thyroid issues, weight gain, and overall fatigue. Additionally, your digestive system can react as well (think IBS, food allergies, etc.). Instead of directly addressing the stressors in life, people often try to eliminate foods to try to resolve digestive issues.  Same goes with exercise.  Intense, or long duration exercise puts the body under stress. This is the reason why we will typically lose weight/fat under proper circumstances (the body's first, natural reaction to stress in a healthy body).  However, when panicked about weight loss (read: stressing over how long its taking), we tend to turn the very modes of exercise that causes the most stress.  If you’re exercising intensely on top of living a stressful life, your body is likely to go into shut-down mode (read: fat gain/retention).

If you’re experiencing any of the following, you may be exhibiting this severe-stress response:

Blood Sugar Swings

Hypothyroid Symptoms

Weight Gain (especially prominent in the belly)

Fatigue

Decreased Immunity

IBD

IBS

Food Allergies

9707590766_6db09ca5e5_zHow to eat/exercise/supplement/live when over-stressed

During very stressful times, sometimes the best thing to do is to change up the type of exercises you’re doing or to do your normal routine at a lesser frequency. There are types of exercise that will heal you/help you maintain, and those that will cause harm. Stress-friendly exercises include walks (not a power walk, run or jog), gentle yoga (not power yoga) or a leisure bike ride (key word: leisure). Endurance-style weight training and circuit training are not the types of weight lifting you should partake in while stressed. Instead, incorporate heavier-style lifting, which requires longer periods of rest in between (think 5/6-10 reps).

Even simple, everyday things that we don’t think twice about increase our stress levels. For example, if you watch an action-packed movie and are already stressed, your stress levels will actually increase! In place of an action movie, watch something more light-hearted, such as a comedy, or take a bubble bath.  Additionally, make sure to supplement with omegas, magnesium, Vitamin A & D and probiotics.  Make an effort to sleep more (training less if that’s what it takes to find that extra hour!) to best respond to stress.

As mentioned above, intense exercise/dieting during stressful times will actually lead to increased stress, which leads to more weight gain. Don't compound the problem.  If you’re experiencing weight gain, don’t try to diet. Cut back on steady state cardio, and do more leisure/slower-paced types of cardio (walking, yoga).  An occasional HIIT session or two can sub for your cardio until you are in a less stressful state. (One exception to this is if you are facing extreme adrenal fatigue symptoms, in this case, even HIIT may be too much in the early healing stage).

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Try to simply savor the moment from time to time. Don't wait for the weekend. Have a midday ritual: sneak a nap. Or…take a tea, coffee (or breathing!) break – no screens allowed!

Now keep in mind, not exercising at all isn’t what we’re recommending here.  The point is to train yourself throughout the day to have downtime (nap, walk, daydream, meditate, no-screen-time, etc.) so that your workouts are helping you rather than hurting you.  Regular exercise has been proven to help with stress management. In a healthy body, exercise is intended to be “good stressor.”  The key is understanding what helps and what harms in an overly-stressed, or metabolically damaged scenario.

Weight fluctuations during stressful times are bound to happen, but the key is not letting these fluctuations create more stress. If you’re someone who likes to weigh, you can continue to do so, but take the number on the scale with a grain of salt.  The key to mastering life, and fitness, is balance. If you can find a way to manage stress levels, and balance your responsibilities with staying active, you’ll have a much better chance of keeping your weight under control and your happiness high.

On that note, I need to take a break from this screen, and go spend some quiet time with my foam roller.

 

Have a great week, Fam!

~Kiki :)

 

PS. Got questions? I’m on Periscope M-F, to answer your FAQs. So make sure you’re following @EM2WL to get notifications the second I start the next broadcast!

 

 

Photo cred: Flickr

Healthy Convenience Foods

Healthy Convenience Foods

It seems like each year moves quicker than the last. There is never enough time to get all the things done on our task list.  Each day runs into the next, and if we aren't careful, our nutrition takes a back seat to convenience.  That's where healthy convenience foods come in handy.

I experienced this firsthand over the past year when work stress was at an all-time high. I was mostly concerned with just getting enough sleep. My nutrition stayed intact by focusing on eating foods that didn't require much time, effort or thought, but were still nutritionally balanced.

Healthy Convenience FoodsWhen you think of convenience food you may conjure up images of Hungry Man or fast food restaurants like McDonald's.  Thankfully, there are way better options available if you keep a go to list and put in just a smidgen of effort.

My definition of a healthy yet still convenient meal is one that requires minimal effort to prepare, can be assembled in 15 minutes or less and is nutritionally dense and balanced.  Although it may require a little bit of energy to assemble, it won't require any special cooking skills or even a measuring cup!  If I can't spare 15 minutes out of my day then I have to rethink what I'm doing.

All convenience foods aren't created equal and some things to be on the lookout for are foods that are high in sodium, sugar, fat or all three!  Many frozen foods that are fully prepared like Hungry Man or foods cooked in a sauce are often offenders.  Assembling your own food will help you avoid the high sodium-sugar-fat trap.

Let's get…assembling!

Healthy Convenience FoodsA great place to start is with your protein.  I like to think of protein as the super star of the meal and work everything else around it. Nowadays, there are so many pre-cooked protein options that you can really set up a great rotation. Rotisserie chicken , grilled chicken (refrigerated or frozen) or fish (fresh or canned i.e. tuna, sardines, wild salmon) are just a few options.

Likewise, there are many pre-cooked carb options available – frozen, refrigerated or canned.  A few to consider are quinoa, rice varieties including brown, white, jasmine and more, lentils, canned beans.  With these options it's just a matter of heat and serve.

When it comes to veggies, the options are seemingly endless.  You can buy them fresh, frozen or canned.  For even more convenience, buy them pre-washed, pre-sliced or pre-chopped.  You can find them stand alone or as part of a medley.  You can even find them in microwavable bags where you only need pop them directly in the microwave for 5-10 mins and then plate them.  The point is, when it comes to veggies, skipping out on them for the sake of convenience is hogwash.  Keeping dishes flavorful, however, is key, so consider picking up seasons such as garlic salt, lemon pepper or Cajun to keep your taste buds happy.

Healthy Convenience FoodsOf all the convenience foods, fats are the most readily available.  Adding a tablespoon or two of your favorite oil to your foods or sauteing veggies in a pat of butter  is a no-brainer.  Same thing for avocado, just cut and scoop!  Eating a fatty fish rich in Omega-3 like salmon will serve double duty, providing both protein and fat for your meal.

To keep things less stressful, be sure to keep some of these foods on hand to make answering the question of “What's for dinner?” a breeze.

Putting it altogether

Now that you have a few ideas of some convenient staples, here are a few ideas on how to put together a meal.

  • Rotisserie chicken, skinned & chopped + jasmine rice + broccoli slaw + dressing
  • TJs Lightly seasoned chicken breast + lentils + asparagus
  • Tuna + broccoli + avocado toss
  • Broiled tilapia (10 min) + vegetable medley + low sodium butternut squash soup
  • Broiled salmon (10 min) + mango salsa + green peas + brown rice
  • Tacos – browned ground turkey (10 min) + salad + avocado
  • Eggs/onion/mushroom/spinach scramble + Ezekiel bread + almond butter
  • Rotisserie chicken, skinned & chopped + broccoli slaw + wrap + dressing
  • Baby spinach + chopped grilled chicken + sliced peppers + quinoa + olive oil + balsamic vinegar

There are so many options that you can create with a few staple ingredients. Just mix things up or change out the seasonings.  With all of the options available to you, it's possible to have a new meal every day for a month if you wanted to.

You don't have to sacrifice your nutrition for convenience and you don't need to be a star cook.  With slightly more effort than it takes to warm up a hungry man, you can have a meal that takes less time and is more nutritious!  Many meals will make 2-4 servings, so you'll only need to re-heat them the next day.  One less meal to worry about!

 

Overcoming Emotional Eating

 

Just recently I happily said good bye to a year of chronic work-related stress.  It was likely the longest period of stress that I'd ever experienced, and it showed in how I ate, how I slept, how I looked and I'm sure my family would say my mood.  During times of chronic stress (whether real or perceived), stress hormones like cortisol stay elevated.  This can lead to a decreased metabolic rate, sleep disruption, a drop in serotonin (aka happy hormone), and turn our appetite toward fat, sugary foods and other carbs.  Eating is a part of life, but  when our hormones are out of whack sometimes we can go overboard and emotional eating comes in to play. 

Emotional eating may reflect on the scale but it begins in the mind.  Stress wreaks havoc in many areas of our lives and our nutrition is just one.  When your defenses are compromised your health takes a hit and so do your emotions.

Emotional Eating and Life BalanceEveryone has days that seem like they couldn't get any better and days that we wish never were.  How we deal with the challenging ones has a direct impact on our ability to combat emotional eating.  We seek comfort when we are hurt and turn to food as a coping mechanism.  Foods don't judge us, hurt us or tell us “no.” Additionally, eating foods that bring us pleasure can stimulate the release of endorphins similar to exercise.  So, after you eat, you feel better although it may be short-lived.

Emotional eaters use food as a stress relief mechanism.  When we are unable to find a solution to our problems or somehow alleviate our stress, we turn to food.  This is especially common when the stressor is something horrible such as physical abuse or a death.

Are you an emotional eater?

Determining whether you might be using food as a crutch requires a closer examination of what's going on in your life.  A key indicator would be unexpected weight gain.   Obviously if you are following a reset or bulking program this might not be a sign you can rely on.  However, if you are experiencing weight gain, take a closer look at these areas which are common sources of stress:

  • Has your work or home life been more stressful than normal?
  • Have you, a family member or friend experienced any recent trauma?
  • Is there a problem that you have been wrestling with but haven’t found a solution for?

If you responded “yes” to any of these questions and are experiencing unexpected weight gain, emotional eating might be the culprit.  Not only might you be eating when you are not necessarily hungry, but the foods you are eating might be “comfort foods”.  Characteristics of comfort foods include:

  • High fat foods like fried foods such as French fries
  • High carb foods like macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes
  • Sugary foods like ice cream, donuts, cookies, cake

Stress ManagementCoping with day-to-day stress

So, you might be wondering what you can do about emotional eating once you have determined that you have a problem.  Emotional eaters often experience feelings of helplessness followed by guilt.  The guilt is triggered by the indulgence and its potential effect on your health while the helplessness lies in not seeing a way out of the situation.

In this scenario a nutrition coach or nutritionist might not be what you need as emotional eating has nothing to do with dieting or changing your eating habits.  Rather seek a counselor that will help you deal with the emotions you are experiencing and gain control over them.  Some activities a counselor might suggest include

  • visualization, helping you to reframe your problems and see them in a realistic way rather than blowing them out of proportion.
  • learning new problem solving skills
  • mind-body programs such as meditation or deep breathing
  • exercise can serve as a distraction from the stressor as well as alleviate frustration

Also consider setting up a support system  of friends and family who can help you be aware of the foods you are eating, assist you in making healthy food choices and exercise along with you. Taking control of emotional eating starts first with dealing with the stress.  Finding new ways to solve our problems will push emotional eating out of the equation.

 

Photo credit: creativa/bigstock.com

Stress Free Eating Out

Stress Free Eating Out

 

Several years ago when I decided I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle, I thought of all the things I would change. Things like never eating sugar, actually anything white got the axe, except for egg whites and cauliflower. I subscribed to Clean Eating magazine and vowed that I would cook all my meals and never step foot in my company cafeteria again.  For the most part, I decided eating out basically had no place in my new lifestyle.

Eventually I stopped going out to eat altogether or, when I did, I smuggled in my own food. Yep, I brought my Rubbermaid to restaurants.  I even started turning my nose up at going to dinner at friends' homes.  After all, they didn't eat like I did, or heaven forbid, steam their vegetables.

NeuroticLooking back, you might say I was a bit neurotic and I would wholeheartedly agree.  The truth is, I was trying to control every aspect of my diet, but it was a joy-sucking chore and the worst part was that it was unnecessary. I tried to control every element of my diet and it was depressing.

Oh, I felt accomplished, but now I realize that I really was deprived. I missed out on sharing good times and meals with friends and family and even potential professional opportunities as I especially steered clear of work outings. I must admit, I'm still not too fond of the office cafeteria, but when the odds of you getting food poisoning aren't in your favor, you would be too.

When you decide that you're going to adopt a healthier lifestyle, you may think you need to forgo eating out, because staying at home gives you more control over what you eat.

But dining out is about so much more than just the food.  Don't miss out on socializing with friends, panicking over what to eat when you're traveling or just enjoying a night off from cooking.

Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.
― Ruth Reichl

Stress free eating out is enjoyable, and with a few tips, it becomes no big deal.

Plan ahead

Stress Free Eating - Dessert

Save room for the good stuff!

When dining at a new restaurant,  go online to check out the menu.  This will help set you up for success.  Knowing what you're going to eat when you walk in the door or having narrowed down the selection to a few choices ensures that you have thought through your meal and it will be more balanced than, say if you just ate on a whim.  Figure out where your protein, fat and carbs will come from.  If there's a dessert that you really want to try, you'll know not to dive into the bread basket or load up on a side of mash.

Mind Your Portions and Macros

If you are an avid calorie counter and tend to weigh your food regularly, you probably have a good sense of what your portion sizes are.  This can get a bit trickier as you move away from calorie counting, but it's nothing to worry about.  Take notice of the portion size of food you eat when at home and simply eat to the same scale when eating out and take the rest home for lunch the next day.

For the intuitive eater, you probably already have a system in place for managing your portion sizes and macros.  As a general rule I eat about 1-1/2 palm size of protein, ½ palm of fat, a fist of starchy carbs and as many veggies as I want.  This can be adjusted depending on current goals, but in general, this is what I do.  Over time this just becomes a habit and pretty much effortless whether eating at home or away.  It's also portable!

Another great tip whether eating at home or out on the town is to eat your food slowly.  It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to send out satiety signals.  Slowing down your eating will allow you to stop eating before getting over full.  Plus, if you're enjoying a splurge, why not savor each and every bite?

Stress Free Eating - Chicken Tikka Masala - Yummm!

Chicken Tikka Masala – Yummm!

Watch Out for Sneaky Calories

What sounds like a pretty healthy meal can actually turn out to be a calorie bomb.  Stay on the lookout for dishes that have sauces or are creamed, crispy, breaded…you get the idea.  Not that you have to steer clear all the time, but know what you are eating.  Of course beverages like soda, juices, lemonades, etc., unless they have a sugar substitute, are usually packed with calories as well and probably should be avoided in general.  Opt for sparkling water or unsweetened tea instead.

Eating Out Mindfully and Stress-free

To sum things up, if you eat out regularly or travel a lot, aim to eat a bit closer to what you would normally eat at home most of the time.  Over indulging on the regular won't help you reach your goals and will probably just lead to a lot of frustration.

If you eat out a bit less frequently and want to splurge, go for it.  If you happen to be going to the restaurant that makes the best vodka sauce in town, enjoy!  I am a sucker for chicken tikka masala and make a point to get to my favorite Indian restaurant every now and again.   It is definitely a splurge as not only do I eat the tikka masala, but I sop up the sauce with naan as well!

A splurge once in a while will have minimal impact on your progress when looking at the bigger picture, but may do wonders for your soul!  Don't miss out on the simple yet fulfilling things by limiting your diet to only what is prepared by you.  Get out and enjoy life!

 

 

 

Photo credit: stockimages, kimberlykv, preppybyday

Metabolic Reset Series: I FEEL SO OUT OF CONTROL!!!!

Metabolic Reset Series: I FEEL SO OUT OF CONTROL!!!!

out of control eating resetYou've made the plunge into a metabolic reset, and you're determined to stick it out as long as it takes.

You are no longer restricting foods or food groups but learning how to include some new foods into your healthy eating plan. You love the freedom of some extra food. You can go out to eat or enjoy a piece of birthday cake, guilt free. You have more energy, you're sleeping better at night, and are killing it in the gym.  You are prepared to put in the time, so that you can attain your fitness goals without sacrificing your life

But sometimes, you may feel so out of control, and it scares you!

You may not understand why you are feeling this way.  After all, while you were restricting your calories, you hardly ever felt hunger.  You may feel tempted to go back to restricting calories.

What's going on?

First of all, know that this has happened to just about anyone who has walked down this road.  You are not alone, and experiencing these symptoms does not mean that you are undisciplined or lazy.

Experiencing hunger is a GOOD thing.  Hunger and fullness are our body's ways to control our dietary intake.  Both undereating and overeating have a detrimental effect on our metabolisms.

Two hormones that help us understand what is going on here are leptin (a hormone wLet go of the diet liehich promotes a feeling of satiety and fullness) and ghrelin (a hormone which promotes a feeling of hunger).  In those with healthy metabolisms, these hormones alert us to eat an appropriate number of calories.  Leptin also alerts the thyroid that there is enough stored fat for survival, so it is safe to burn stored fat.  In response to a restrictive diet, leptin levels decrease or the body becomes resistant to leptin.  As a result, metabolic rate decreases, body fat is stored, and appetite increases.  On the other hand, ghrelin alerts your body to eat and drink by causing a feeling of hunger.  Ghrelin also signals the body to hold onto fats rather than burning tem off.  Under stressful circumstances (i.e., lack of sleep, emotional stress, restrictive dieting, overexercise, etc.), ghrelin increases and leptin decreases.  Under these circumstances, you may find it difficult to feel satisfied, no matter how much you eat.

One purpose of a metabolic reset is normalizing hormone levels so they do the jobs they were intended to do.  A common symptom of those who are undereating is the loss of the hunger sensation. This is a natural response to a lowered metabolic rate as the body adapts to an insufficient amount of calories.  The return of the sensation of hunger and fullness are good things.  Learning to honor those feelings is a big step in having a healthy and balanced approach to fueling your body.  A primary goal of your metabolism reset should be listening to and honoring what your body is trying to tell you! Eventually, learning to honor these hunger and fullness cues will be responsible for your long-term success.

(NOTE: It is important to stress that we do recommend accurate calorie counting during a metabolism reset, since dieting has likely made it difficult to recognize these physical cues. “Listening to your body” during a metabolism reset can be tricky, since many chronic dieters will intuitively eat 1200 or fewer calories. It is important to reacquaint the body with an appropriate number of calories first, paying attention to these cues in the process. )

Diet Mentality language cues

(To print this poster, click the image for link to a downloadable PDF version)

Others will experience a loss of control as they start re-introducing some “forbidden foods” back into their diets.  After declaring these items “off limits” or “cheats” for months, you may feel like you just cannot stop eating them.  This is usually a psychological issue.  We usually want what we tell ourselves we cannot have!  By allowing all foods back into your diet, you will likely find that you no longer feel the need to overeat these foods.  There is a learning curve there, however, so proceed with caution and give yourself time and lots of second chances.

Your metabolism reset should not be a stressful time.  Relax and look at this as a time to set yourself up for future success, while allowing yourself to recover from the damage done by excessive dieting.  Here's a few tips to make the most of this time and stay sane:

1. Stress Less.

Stress causes a hormonal response in our bodies that causes an elevation in cortisol levels.  A catabolic hormone, increased levels of cortisol will make it difficult to lose fat and gain muscle. It is definitely within your best interest to de-stress!  If you are approaching this process with constant stressing about how much weight you are going to gain, how tight your jeans are, etc., you are probably sabotaging yourself from the very beginning. Find ways to manage the stress in your life, and do not allow your reset to become yet another stressor.  Journal, pray, catch up with an old friend.  Take a bubble bath or a long, relaxing walk.

2. Increase calories slowly.

By increasing intake slowly and steadily, you will likely experience less bloating and discomfort along the way and allow your body to slowly adjust to a higher caloric intake. This also reduces the likelihood of a sudden, shocking weight gain.

3. Honor your hunger.

If you find yourself extremely hungry, eat, even if it means you will end up over your calories for the day.  Try to focus on whole foods that are nourishing.  If this means that you go over your recommended calories a day or two, don't stress over it.  Making sure that you are full and satiated will prevent future binges.

metabolic reset

4. Eat more fats.

Healthy fats have a number of health benefits.  One gram of fat is equivalent to 9 calories, versus 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrate.  Eating a diet higher in fats will allow you to meet your calorie quota without feeling overly stuffed from a huge quantity of low-calorie foods. Fats also promote a feeling of satiety which usually prevent overeating.  Good sources include coconut oil, whole eggs,  dark chocolate (our favorite!), raw almonds, and avocado.

5. Introduce new foods slowly.

At EM2WL, we don't generally recommend restricting foods (animal proteins, gluten, dairy, etc.) unless there is a medical reason. If you are new to this process, you may be excited about the possibilities of eating “forbidden foods” once again.  As you introduce foods back into your diet that you may have been eliminating, you may want to monitor your body's response very carefully.  You may find that you feel out of control when you introduce ice cream back into your diet after months of pronouncing this an “off-limit” food, you can't seem to stop eating it. Subconsciously, you may be approaching this food with a “feast or famine” attitude.  You may be tempted to conclude that that you just can't handle ice cream.  Give yourself time to adjust to foods that feel uncomfortable.  Chances are when you tell yourself you can have ice cream as often as possible, you will no longer feel the need to overeat it. We recommend adding such foods slowly to monitor your body's reaction.

 

6. Eat small and frequent meals

Dividing up your calories over 5-6 small meals will allow you to never be waiting too long before your next meal of snack.  That way, if you get hungry, you will can have a small something without feeling like you are blowing your whole plan. Keep healthy snacks on hand. Some of our favorite go-to's are Greek yogurt, raw nuts, protein shakes or bars, beef jerky, or cheese and crackers.  For best results, make sure to include a balanced combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates at each meal or snack. Making sure that you are satisfied throughout the day will go a long way in preventing binges.

7. Stay off the scale

Dmetabolic reseturing a metabolism reset, while you are increasing calories to a reasonable level, you should expect to see a temporary increase on the scale as your body adjusts to a higher volume of food.  This weight is very rarely fat.  Typically, the scale increase can be blamed on water retention.  In some cases, the increase on the scale may be due to repairing of tissue damage resulting from very low calorie diets.  Being overly focused on this number can be very discouraging.  Understand that you may see a weight gain during this process, but that you are setting yourself up for future successes.  If you mentally cannot handle seeing this number, it may be best to hide the scale for awhile.

8. Forgive yourself, and don't try to “undo” the damage.

If you slip up and binge unintentionally, don't stress about it.  Acknowledge what has happened, and move on.  Stressing over what cannot be undone is only going to compound the problem.  Think about what might be done differently in the future and come up with your plan of attack, but understand that you are probably not bingeing because you are weak and undisciplined, just hungry.  Be gentle with yourself during this process, and give yourself grace and compassion.

Trying to “earn back” calories you've overeaten by doing extra workouts or eating a bit less the next day may seem like a great idea. But it gets you into a vicious cycle of overeating, overexercising, and an obsession with trying to get the numbers just right.  Remember, the cortisol response to excessive exercise often makes it more difficult, not easier, to control the weight gain and get back on the path to losing fat.

Patience

9. Have a strong support system.

Explain to those close to you what you are doing and why. Hopefully this will help them to be more understanding of what you are doing. Realize, however,  that there will be those who don't understand or agree with your plan of attack, and that is perfectly okay.  Check out our forums to connect with those who are at all different stages in this process. You will be able to find someone to commiserate with, encourage you, or help you work through the many questions that seem to pop up along the way.

10. Be patient and trust the process!

Above all, enjoy this time of nourishing your body and being kind to yourself. If you stick with it, this will prepare you for a lifetime of success!

 

If you missed them, be sure to check out the other articles in this series:

Take it Slow

How Much Cardio?

 

Becca is a busy wife and homeschooling mother to five children ages 7 to 15. About five years ago, she embarked on a journey to health and fitness that resulted in the loss of approximately 100 pounds. Today, she is a competitive powerlifter and strongwoman who loves ice cream and deadlifts.  As an ISSA certified personal trainer, she is passionate about helping women to get started on a lifestyle of strength and fitness.

 

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