The looming 'modern day' cycle we find only in today's fitness facilities. The explosion of memberships straight after one of the most savage hangovers we can conceive, only on New Years day.
When was the last time you felt fresh and vibrant on New Years day? Can't remember? Oh, too bad.
I digress. Let's get down to the nuts and bolts that link metabolic damage/repair to this particular time of year.
There must be countless thousands of people spooling up their exercise turbos for the 1st of January. Gearing up for what is to be the be all end all of our attempts to finally get in shape and STAY THERE.
That resonates through the souls of many I'm sure. We're endlessly sick of ending up exactly where we started - so passionately - just a year ago. Maybe, this passion drives us off a cliff we needn't venture towards?
Our tactics are logical and simple. Eat Less, Move More. How hard can it be? As it happens extremely hard, Eat Less, Move More is eloquently specified as absolute bullshit by James Fell. I'm inclined to agree. Weight loss can never, ever be as simple as such a succinct mantra like this.
With respect to metabolic damage, I feel the aforementioned mantra is the prime suspect that causes this problem. Let's look at the symptoms.
- Chronically fatigued
- Insane food cravings
- Zero progress on weight loss and muscle gains
- Screwed up hormones
- Elevated Cortisol (A great hormone for holding onto fat)
- Reduced Leptin (A great hormone for weight loss)
- Low energy
- Low motivation
- Crap results
- Sad, ice cream stuffed faces
The worst thing about all of this? We might not even realise what being optimally energised even feels like! So we may disregard ourselves from falling into the fatigued/low energy bracket.
How do you know?
Let's probe further into the likely outcomes of utilising a simple Eat Less Move More tactic.
Let's just say we have a 25 year old lady called Queen Zoe III. She wants to drop 5-10kg and sharpen back up to the glory days. And why not?
Queen Zoe III is a no nonsense, hard working, go get em type girl. She is on an awesome career path which does come with a busy work schedule. This is no matter for Zoe, when she wants something, she will attack it until it's done.
When taking Zoe's weight, height, age and current exercise levels into account and using a calculation to establish her specific caloric requirement. It comes out at 2000kcals in order to maintain her current body composition and weight.
Note: This calculation assumes that their metabolism is optimised.
But wait a minute, having analysed her food diary, she is sometimes skipping meals and only averaging about 1,300-1,400kcals per day? So what's the problem? Why isn't Zoe losing weight?
Zoe mentioned that her cravings are through the roof, and usually she does initially lose weight, but it always piles back on. She just cannot fend off the growing urge to cave in.
It is unsustainable.
Basically, whenever you alter your energy balance, up or down. Your body will automatically shift operations in order to adjust and stabilise the changes.
The human body, absolutely abhors change. It will work extremely hard to keep things the same. It is especially defensive when you quite literally force it into a corner with a gun to its head. "Lose weight god damn you!?"
Nope, ain't gonna work. Sunshine.
For a start, you need to be gentle, you need to coax your body along this path of change. Subtly enough it barely notices and doesn't launch its full scale defence mechanisms.
When people pile into the gym's of the world with this Eat Less Move More mentality. They reduce their calories by around 500kcals (This is the upper limit I'll have you know.) But fail to accurately take into account, the caloric expenditure from the increased exercise levels. So you end up in a caloric deficit, which is in some cases up to 1000kcals.
This is when you hold a gun to your body demanding it to lose weight. Resistance quickly ensues. It does this by slowing down your entire system, reducing thermogenesis (calories burned off as heat) it alters hormonal regulation and the net result of this isn't what you want.
Instead of Zoe's true caloric demand remaining at 2000kcals, her body has lowered her demand to try and match what is actually coming in, around 1,300-1,400kcals. This is the moment that weight loss stops. Energy is low and cravings are going mad. Which is a horrible feeling, and the second we give in and eat a Mars bar, a baby seal dies.
Or to put it this way, because you have unknowingly lowered your caloric demand to around 1,300-1,400kcal, just how easy is it to eat a MASSIVE surplus once you give in? You will easily smash up to 3,000kcals, a whopping 1,700kcals more than you need. You can't still be wondering why it all piles back on? Right?
Without really understanding what you're doing, innocently and understandably having faith, that a simple - Eat Less Move More - statement has all the answers. You have grossly underestimated your goal orientated caloric requirement. And a baby seal has now died.
To summarise, metabolic damage is caused by dropping your calories too much, then burning off even more with increased exercise.
You're not going to win this battle, and when you lose, it is going to pile back on, you have your body primed to do exactly that. It is in super fat storage mode.
Don't do this to yourself, please. I have come to learn that logic and common sense guess-work really do not place us in the best positions to achieve our goals. In this scenario, it is the counter intuitive approach that will yield the results you so diligently seek.
What you need to do.
Let's assume you haven't screwed your metabolism up just yet, you have been eating consistent calories every day and you're maintaining weight. You need to seek out professional advice from a personal trainer. They can look at your current exercise levels, eating habits and caloric intake. They can make the calculations and provide you with the ideal caloric target that will give you the greatest rewards this January and beyond.
What you need to do if your metabolism is already screwed up.
It get's a little bit more complicated but the idea is the same. You need to seek out a professional, a personal trainer who can look at all of your history and eating habits. Establish your averages and then work to rebuild and optimise your metabolism.
This will be the first priority.
The second you achieve this short term goal, is the second you then re-lower your calories correctly and enjoy a renewed bodily response. A response from a body that feels confident and unthreatened.
Don't be another one of those annoying January gym boomers, giving in after 6 weeks of no progress.
So no, you haven't failed because you're lazy.
Or because you're useless.
Or because you're not cut out for it.
Or because it just isn't meant to be.
Or because you like Donald Trump's hairstyle.
It is because you unwittingly pushed way too hard before. How good is it to find out that actually, you can achieve more results through an easier and more rewarding plan.
January is just around the corner, which we all know is the most common time for us to go all out to get fit and toned. It is also where the Eat Less Move More mantra really dominates the minds of so many, and leads most inexorably down an unnecessary, disheartening path to failure.
Let's do this right, and let's be the most awesome version of ourselves, once and for all.