From Maintenance, to Reverse, to Diet

May 2020

Back in the spring I made the decision to reverse diet. For a number of reasons which I spoke about in a prior blog.

The two main reasons were:

1) Wanting to eat more lol I have been eating at maintenance calories for SO long, I honestly just wanted to eat more (not shittier or lower quality).

2) I wanted a challenge. But I was also pretty done with physical challenges, so I knew this would be the perfect mental challenge for me given my history of body image issues and food guilt. I have made tons of progress on this front with my mindset and confidence, so this seemed like the best time to challenge it all!

So what is a reverse diet?

In short, reverse dieting is increasing your caloric intake above what your body needs (metabolic rate) to maintain your current weight and metabolism. So knowing this, I knew I would gain weight, was hoping to gain muscle but knew that some fat would come along for the ride. The challenge for me would truly be how I handled this mentally and emotionally. The other challenge would be the diet back down to a place that I felt my best.

I started with a solid plan. I programmed in a good 12 week reverse diet, calories reaching a max of 2700 per day, no cardio, just resistance training, and walks with my dogs. I had a lot of energy and was quite active despite no cardio. Sometimes I went for multiple walks per day just to be outside. I definitely felt my non exercise thermogenesis or (NEAT) was high because of the extra energy.

Once I crept closer to the 12 week mark I did start to feel heavy. I felt less light on my feet when walking and I was walking a lot slower despite the energy.

I did great mentally. I spoke kindly to myself with self affirmations. I reminded myself of the physiology of the body and repeated “my why” to myself for doing this. When you keep that reasoning of “why”, in the back of your mind, it really helps with following through on your daily goals.

After the 12 weeks of reverse dieting, I was nervous but also excited to diet. I hate the word “diet”, at the same time can’t find another word to sum it up.

So what exactly is a “diet”?

What dieting is, is dropping your caloric intake to below what your body needs to maintain its weight, causing the body to use up excess fat for energy.

Because my calories were so high after the reverse diet, I could start out dieting with a very reasonable caloric intake. I believe it was about 2000 calories per day. I set my goals conservatively to lose about 0.5lbs per week with diet breaks every two weeks.

So what is a diet break?

A diet break is literally taking a break from dieting, and bringing your calories back to maintenance. So why diet break?

For me I added it for the mental relief from dieting but also to set myself up for success in the long term. Diet breaks may slow down the weight loss process but they also help you stabilize your metabolism and maintain weight once you decide to end a diet.

Knowing all I know now about weight loss it’s all about the LONG TERM, with patience being your best friend!

For exercise, because I did zero cardio during my reverse diet, I was now set up to start doing short cardio sessions. The key when introducing a new exercise is too not over do it right away. In other words give yourself room to progress.

Over the 12 weeks I have transitioned from 2 km 12-15 minute jogs, to 4-5km 25-30 minute runs. I didn’t want to over do it with distance because of prior injuries so by week 6 when I felt like progressing I started doing interval training, running hills and stairs. I feel amazing at where I am at now with my cardio and plan to continue with it throughout the winter. I scaled my resistance training from 5x per week to 4x per week and am also very happy where I am at with this.

November 2020

So now I am officially back! After another 12 weeks of dieting with diet breaks every two weeks, I am back to where I began. I gained so much from this experience!

1. I have never felt more fit in my life. I used to measure my fitness level at how strong I could become. Now I put every aspect of fitness including resistance training, cardio, balance, and flexibility, into my programs, and I feel incredible.

2. I have learned to work through the adversity of seeing my body change and how it effected my energy, confidence, self talk, and mindset. I worked through a lot of mental challenges and feel I’ve came out on top of it all. I loved myself and my body throughout the process, which was my biggest goal.

3. I’ve gained perspective on what I would be asking of future clients, by putting myself through this little experiment. I met some of the hurdles that most people have to jump when following a nutrition plan including, how to adapt to social events, how to curb cravings, what to do when hunger sets in, and how to come out of a mental funk.

What I’ve also learned is that this system works. Calories in vs. Calories out is HOW people lose weight or gain weight. Rigging the physiological process of metabolic adaptation is how you get your body to do what you want it to do. As a whole system this works every time, WHEN you put the work in BUT there are many ways you can go about it as well that you can adapt to your own preferences or lifestyle.

At the end of the day, again I will preach that the best diet out there is CONSISTENCY, SUSTAINABILITY, and also PATIENCE, in trusting the system.

If you are interested in an individualized plan created by myself, have any questions about the process, or comments, or just want to chat, always feel free to reach out!:)


Life Hacks

My Fasting Experience

I recently have listened to a couple podcasts on what fasting is and what the health benefits of it are and why it can be effective for weight loss AND for overall improvement of health.

I learned a lot from the last podcast (The School of Greatness with Jason Fung) but I always take both sides to the story before making an informed decision which in this case was “to fast or not too fast”?

To be honest I’ve never considered doing it because what I do right now to stay healthy works for me and my current lifestyle. But this podcast intrigued me so I decided I was going to challenge myself to a 24hr fast.

I started out by digging into “why” am I doing it. I feel like it’s always important to do your research and not just do something because someone tells you “it’s healthy”. So here first are some common misconceptions that were debunked which ultimately intrigued me to give it a try.

  1. It will burn my muscle – This is false. Our bodies historically were built to fast going WAY back to the years with hunters and gatherers. Sometimes there wasn’t enough food so people were forced too fast. Our body mechanisms were designed this way, in which we could ultimately use our excess fat for energy and NOT our muscle. That being said if you are trying to BUILD muscle, fasting will absolutely hinder this process as you need nutrients to build.
  2. I will be hungry ALL day and suffer if I fasted – This was debunked as in the research, the hormone that makes us hungry is called Ghrelin. During a fast at some point ghrelin turns on but it peaks around 2 hours, drops, and doesn’t come back. So this means if I could make it past the 2 hour hunger surge I won’t feel hungry for the rest of the day. I wanted to give this theory a try (more later on this).
  3. If I don’t eat my body will go into starvation mode and my metabolism will slow down – False! There is no such thing as “starvation mode” but rather it is called metabolic adaptation. This happens over a period of time if you change up how many calories you eat, or the exercise you do, your metabolism will adjust. Sometimes when people diet their body gets so used to a very low caloric intake, their metabolisms are slow and if you eat anything above that maintenance level, it will start to store fat. Now this happens over a long period of time and is impossible to happen in just one day.

So now that I knew I wouldn’t lose my muscle or my metabolism in one day and that there may be a chance I won’t be hungry and miserable all day, I decided to try it out.

My why was giving myself a new mental challenge learning more about my body and how my mind works and maybe experiencing some health benefits too.

Some of the benefits described with fasting are:

  1. Body going through a “cleansing or detoxing effect”
  2. Regulation of blood sugar and insulin levels
  3. Reducing inflammation in the body

I first made a game plan and that was what I could consume. Some people choose to have about 500 cals during a 24hr fast but I decided to go hard core. What I allowed myself was:

  1. Black coffee
  2. Green Tea
  3. Herbal tea
  4. Soda waters
  5. BCAAs
  6. Vegetable broth (made from scratch)
  7. Zero cal electrolytes in my water

When I woke up I had a black coffee, went for a run, stretched, and went about my morning and usual activities.

I started to get hungry about four hours into the fast probably later than normal for me because I ate a lot before bed the night before. This was my ghrelin kicking in and it was quite intense for only about 1.5 hours. I distracted myself during this time and went for a light but long hike with the dogs. I found myself VERY thirsty from the hike because I forgot water and it was very clear that this was thirst and not hunger (should have been smarter and brought water).

I will say that I don’t believe the ghrelin did ever return BUT after that hike I was DONE for the rest of the day. I was sooo tired and lethargic, I didn’t want to do anything… I think from feeling so tired I thought that I was hungry because I know sometimes I get that way.

Everything I had such as the BCAAs, the veggie broth, the soda water was SOO good but that feeling didn’t last long enough to satisfy me. By 07:15pm I got CRANKY (poor Blair lol). Still don’t believe I was necessarily hungry but just really tired and cranky and wanted to give up and eat so bad. I made up my mind I’m never doing this shit again haha.

I cracked at 08:30 p.m. and had a diet gingerale which wasn’t necessarily “breaking” the fast because it was zero calories but I didn’t want to consume any artificial sweeteners in this fast, so I blew it there which I consciously at that time would rather drink that than ruin the whole thing.

I decided at the 24 hour mark I was going to have a casein protein shake as this is a slow digesting protein just to reintroduce something into my stomach before bed. Because I went to bed around 22:00, this ended up being more of a 32 hour fast with the exception of the protein shake.

I found I wasn’t starving in the morning either but really wanted to be careful of what I reintroduced into my body so had a nice light healthy breakfast to end it all off.

What I learned from this experience is:

  1. I think 16 hour fast to 8 hour feeds are TOTALLY doable if this is a method that works for you. I only got really miserable around the 20 hour mark so if you can push past the ghrelin surge each day than intermittent fasting could be a great option.
  2. How much I love coconut rice… I thought about coconut rice probably every hour on the hour haha At one point Blair and I decided what our last meals would be if we knew we were going to die, I chose butter chicken with coconut rice and naan bread. YUMMMMM! (Don’t suggest talking about this when fasting lol).
  3. The mental warfare that it takes to fast especially if your a foodie like me. It was WAY harder mentally than it was physically.
  4. I get really lazy and tired without fuel. I know they say if your doing a multiple day fast that after that initial day you start to feel great and energized but I don’t think I will ever have the disciple or the will to test out this theory.
  5. The experience of a fast. So if any of my clients want to try it out, now I can inform them of some things they may experience and how important it is to HAVE A PLAN! (Thats what got me through).

If you would like to learn more about fasting and the health benefits follow Dr.Steven Gundry, listen to Lewis Howes School of Greatness podcast with his episode and also the most recent one I listened to (which was endorsed by Dr.Steven Gundry) with Jason Fung.

Any questions or comments feel free to reach out:)


Life Hacks

Let’s Make a Christmas Plan!

I often talk a lot about how consistency is the key! It really is the truth and is also not easy to achieve, especially around the holidays!

I am here to tell you now that we ALL need to start making a game plan for Christmas time… Yes I know it’s only November and maybe this Christmas won’t be as heavy on the parties and get togethers, but by god there will be treats!

No COVID can stop us from making cookies, drinking baileys, and cooking up some five star comfort foods! This might actually be one of the hardest Christmas’s yet BECAUSE we are lacking the social stuff and potentially making up for it with the comfort food can bring.

As far as making a game plan for our exercise and nutrition, not everyones plan will look the same. For instance I personally do not do well with calorie cycling as I feel too restricted on days where I shouldn’t be consuming as much. I am not an intermittent faster as psychologically again I can’t deal with the restrictive hours, I’m to stubborn (haha).

But these methodologies may work really well for some and that is great! So let’s find what works best for you and stick to that and stay consistent. I will outline here a few strategies to avoid excessively over eating during the holidays, decide which one best fits your lifestyle and your personality, and start implementing them whenever you start to get into the Christmas fun and yum!

Strategy 1: Intermittent Fasting: The idea of intermittent fasting is picking a window to eat and picking a window too fast. Times can vary some examples being a 12:12, 14:10, 16:8. There is no right or wrong time scheme and will depend again on your lifestyle, your personality and also when you feel the most hungry. VERY important to note that if you choose to intermittent fast make sure you are eating a sufficient amount of protein as fasting can cause a muscle wasting effect. Try to hit 1.2g of protein per kg of weight at minimum. Also continue to drink lots of water even when you are fasting.

Strategy 2: Calorie Cycle: If you are someone who tracks your caloric intake this will be a very doable strategy. Pick two days out of the week where you are going to take in more calories and revolve these around your social events. For example you have a Christmas party on Wednesday and a family get together on Sunday. You will plan to eat more on those days by bringing your total caloric intake up and spreading out the caloric deficit throughout the rest of the days. This can be done easily with the carbon diet coach app. If you don’t use an app then add up your total calories for the week (daily calories x7), decide on your high calorie days and how much you will consume and subtract those two days from the weekly total. Next divide the rest of your calories by 5. VERY important again to try and hit those protein goals everyday despite what other foods you are indulging in or enjoying.

Strategy 3: Carb Cycling: This is similar to calorie cycling except it is more focused on macros. Because holiday foods and parties seem to be really carb heavy, this can be a great strategy to balance out your macro nutrients with low carb days. Pick 2 or 3 days out of the week where you will do a lower carb day. Make sure these days are NOT the Christmas party or get together days. Often I’ve benefitted from these days being the day AFTER the party to get you back on track of healthy eating. On low carb days you simply keep your protein intake the same, you raise the amounts of fat you are going to intake (preferably unsaturated fat). Simultaneously you lower the amount of carb intake for the day. Try to keep the carbs you do have earlier in the day and stick to a strict low to no carb at night (or last meal of the day).

Strategy 4: Flexible Dieting: This will personally be my strategy this year. Again keep your daily protein intake the same, making sure it’s sufficient. At the beginning of each day PLAN your treats! I always follow an 80/20 rule of eating being 80% whole, nutrient dense foods with 20% treat foods. Around Christmas time I am going to lower my standards to 70/30. Each morning or the day before (whenever you do your meal planning) figure out what kind of deliciousness you are going to consume that day- christmas cookies, pie, hot chocolate and baileys, Christmas Mac and cheese (this is making me hungry lol). ALLOW yourself a treat everyday because it’s fricken Christmas time! Then work your meals around this treat. Plan to have a nice healthy breakfast with lots of fruit, have some veggies for lunch and supper, get those micronutrients in and also… get your protein in:) Then ENJOY those treats everyday and feel the Christmas spirit.

IF YOU SLIP UP, if you overindulge, if you go over your calories, if you under consume protein, FORGIVE YOURSELF! Move on because every morning is a chance to start over and try again. If you wallow in shame or guilt you are more likely to just throw your hands up and say SCREW my health. Your mental health is the biggest priority, your physical health comes in at a close second so don’t give up and find that balance.

As for exercise, now is a great time to make a Christmas exercise schedule or hire a personal trainer to make one for you! If you go hard now and really challenge yourself with your workouts this month you are going to feel a lot better going into the dangerous delicious Christmas season. Mentally you will be better equip to handle the temptations and fight through the binge remorse if it happens. Physically your body will better handle the extra calories and maybe even build a little muscle if you stay consistent with your protein:)

Hope this is encouraging for you all to plan now! It’s almost time to get your Christmas cheer on, it will come sooner than you realize:)