If you've been a chronic low cal dieter, and a follower of EM2WL for any length of time, then you know that we highly recommend doing a metabolism reset. Maybe you're even doing one now, or planning to soon join the growing number of members who have decided to take back control of their lives from extreme caloric bondage. We all come to the point of metabolism resetting for different reasons. Some of us have actual diagnosis of an ED, and others have just been dieting longer than they care to remember. Our common ground: we have been starving ourselves by eating less food than our body requires to survive. Choosing the path of reset is one of the best things that we can do to recover from the mental and physical damage that occurs with long term, severe caloric restriction, but it is not an overnight process. A question that is popping up almost daily in our inbox is: How do I know when my metabolism reset is over?
We've avoided answering that question for quite sometime, much to the aggravation of most. We hated even giving the “6-8 week” guidelines, because, quite honestly, 6 weeks may not be enough for some, too long for others. At EM2WL, we are always stressing that everyone is different. We are individuals. Some people bounce back quicker than others. Yet, there are still those of you wanting specific deadlines, and exact “stopping” times.
Whether you're at the beginning of your journey, still on the fence, or well on the road to recovery, there are things to keep in mind along the way:
I mention this one first because it is the area that controls all remaining points:
- If you are not recovered mentally, then whether it's been 6 weeks or 16, you are NOT finished resetting. We give “guidelines” for how long to reset, but your body does not magically know that it's been 5 weeks and 6 days, thus resetting on the 7th day. Take this time to understand why you are resetting in the first place.
- If you are rushing to finish your reset, because you just want to “get it over with” or “hurry up and start cutting” because you “just need to get this weight off”…you have not mentally recovered, and should honestly consider continuing your metabolism reset. When your reset is over, you just know. You completely comprehend that this is your new way of life, and that you will NEVER go back to low cal madness, no matter how long it takes.
- If 1200-1400 cals is still an option in the back of your mind somewhere, you have not recovered.
Most of these are discussed in the post on patience, yet it still seems like we dive into the reset with unrealistic expectations of what will happen to us. Or, we say that we understand, but we don't, really. We want to ride out the reset without a hitch and then hop on the cutting path and live happily ever after. Once again, this is when the mental aspect comes into play. That is our old “quick fix” diet mentality creeping in and telling us that if we eat too much, we'll gain, going backwards and then we'll NEVER get this weight off. So we go through our reset never fully allowing ourselves to relax and recover, because we're so busy stressing about the .03265 gain on the scale that is about to happen in 5 minutes. Recall how many times that you have yo-yo'd in the past, or regained the weight after reaching “goal” because you used unhealthy methods to achieve the goal. Remember that if you don't gain now and fully recover, you will likely gain it later, going back to square one, still with a shoddy metabolism.
- Expect to gain weight. You are recovering from an ED (or similar mindset), it's part of the rehab process. If the weight came off in an unhealthy manner, you will likely HAVE to gain it back (whether in water, or replacing atrophied muscle/essential fat) as part of the recovery. Couple that with the zillion other reasons for scale fluctuations (especially in women), and you have a recipe for seeing the scale move up. Expect the gain.
- Expect the mental struggle that comes with that gain.
- Expect that you will have to find ways to deal with it.
- Expect to deal with bloat when you lift weights, or eat a lot of sodium, carbs, dairy, wheat, etc., as your body adjusts and tries to understand what's going on.
- Expect that people around you will not understand what you are doing.
- Expect to lean on others who do understand for support.
- Expect to eventually gain full confidence in what you are doing.
- Expect to come out of this victorious.
- Expect that any weight gained will come off.
- Expect to never starve yourself again.
We've never said the the metabolism reset would be easy, but we guarantee that it will be worth it. Quick fixes don't.work.period. Take this time to set healthy habits and goals for yourself, that will support and affirm your new lifestyle.
- Don't focus on how “much longer” your journey will take, but on the fact that you are finally on the right path. Yes, you have a long journey ahead, so try to keep a realistic perspective.
- Get involved with the EM2WL community for support, and make a determination to do what's best for your body.
- Hire a personal trainer and learn your way around the weight room. Set a new lifting goal, if you're a vet. Try out a new workout class or DVD.
- Stop reading magazines or watching television shows (or listen to friends!) that promote unhealthy body images or rapid methods of weight loss.
- Read books (including cookbooks) and articles that teach you how to be strong, healthy and fit, without being extreme. Our Resources page is a great place to start.
- Focus on changing types of food you eat. You have time to make healthier habits, so use it. Add real foods back to your menu. Cut out diet drinks/food/artificial sweeteners that you've always known were bad for your health, but you were willing to sacrifice for lower calories.
- Buy clothes that fit and flatter you now. This does not mean resign yourself to a life of being fat, but simply not waiting to get to a “perfect size” before allowing life to begin. It wasn't until I finally stopped dwelling on where I wanted to be and focused on looking my best in the present, that things came together for me. There's a difference between being “focused” and being “obsessed“ (more on that in this post).
- Enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going. Rushing the process and running through every stop sign and red light may get you there faster, but it may also land you in the ER.
Fuel your body properly. Enjoy your life now. Don't stress. The results WILL come.
I am scared to death to start this. I have had a personal trainer for over a year that kept telling me to do exactly this, and I would not. I exercised – hard – every day, and kept my calories to 1100-1200, and guess what? I have gained 26 pounds!!!
When I was 20, even 40, I could cut calories, exercise a little, and lose weight. Now I am almost 50 and the only way the scale is moving is UP. I am heavier than I have ever been. I won’t wear a bathing suit, and I hate the thought of buying bigger clothes.
Yet, her it is, spelled out – I have to gain MORE in order to lose?!?!?!? Really???? I want to lose, I really do, but I am really, really scared. I can’t believe I am asking this, but how do I start?
Oh, one more question. According to myfitnesspal, the 1200 calories is right. but according to my trainer, she wants me to eat 1600 to 1700. That’s a lot! How do I know what to do?
Hey Audrie!! 1600-1700 only seems like a lot because you’ve eaten so little for so long. More than likely, 1200 cals is not right for you unless you are already very tiny. Your BMR (amount of food you’d need to keep you alive in a coma) is likely well above that. So to expect your body to lose fat when it thinks you’re in a famine isn’t realistic. :( When our body is trying to protect us from famine, it wants to preserve as much fat as possible for survival fuel.
I’m assuming you have your myfitnesspal set to “lose 2 lbs?” Because you’ve selected the max amount, MFP auto defaults to the max deficit, 1200 cals. But that doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s just the calculators way of making sure you don’t eat below the already dangerous 1200 mark. (Also remember that MFP is set up for you to eat back the cals you burn, so even if you rebelled and went with those minimums, you’d need to eat more the second you exercised. I know it’s super scary, but 1200 simply is not enough.
I’m in my sixth week of my reset. It’s been a huge learning curve and getting through the initial bloating and fluid retention, as well as some HUGE self-doubt was a major challenge. I’m at a point now where my strength and endurance has increased dramatically and I’m sleeping so much better now as well- I’ve also learnt to accept that the body sometimes just needs its rest. Period. I was hesitant at first, but I now agree that you just “know” when you’re approaching the end of your reset. I’ve learnt to listen to my body’s signals and this body loves its food! Thank you so much to the ladies behind EM2WL. You’ve honestly changed my life.
So good! Really needed to read that article today. I train 3 day’s a week with Crossfit Central and absolutely love it. I have walked through the ED Bulimia with God back to health from the inside out. I must admit that even though I do not purge anymore I probably am not eating enough due to fear of gaining weight which I now see the the help of your article. Thank you for putting this out there and talking about the true emotional issues. I am going to take your advice to heart and now move even further to better health with the hopes and dreams of one day competing in the Masters 50-54 Crossfit Games. Thank you…Leslie
Hey Leslie! So great to hear someone make the decision to move forward in fueling their bodies properly. Participating in such an amazing, intense sport as Crossfit requires proper fuel. Sometimes it’s easy for us to get so caught up in our physique “goals” that we forget the purpose of food, and how it affects the nature of the activity that we do. I think you’ll be quite pleased at what proper fuel will do for your lifts ;)
I have been resetting gradually for around 10 weeks now, and only VERY recently am I feeling like I’m almost ready to cut.
My favourite point is the one about buying clothes in the correct size for now. That was one of my biggest and proudest accomplishments during my reset.
And don’t underestimate the mental change you need to go through to accept the scale gain. I was most definitely not prepared for how badly that would affect me!!
As well as a reset for your body it is ALL about resetting your mind, and for me that will take me a lot longer than the 6-8 weeks. (even admitting that is a step in the right direction away from the NOW NOW NOW mentality we all sometimes fall into)
Another great write. Thanks so much for the reminder. The mental struggle was/is for sure the hardest part to deal with.
Thanks for the words of encouragement. After over a year of working out hard and eating what I thought was enough (1200-1700 daily), I had my RMR tested and realized my gut feeling of not eating enough was right. I’m at a good place mentally as 12 months of little to no loss and busting your butt either makes or breaks you as a person… I was MADE! Not that I’m where I want to be but knowing that I’ve found my answer and just have to wait it out makes me feel content :) Thank you for all the wisdow and knowledge that you’ve imparted to me in the last few weeks. I’ve had a gut feeling for a long time that I wasn’t eating enough but didn’t have any hard science to support my thoughts… thank you for all you and Kiki do!
And I’ve actually been on my weight loss/health journey for 19 months, but the scale moved those first months :)