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.
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!:)