As we enter the third week of the new year (where has the time gone already!?), this is the time when most of us drop our New Years Resolutions for one reason or another.
Now this post is NOT about massage, but a post about Anatomy and Physiology. Many of us have made a promise to ourselves to eat better, watch the amount of calories that we consume or to exercise more. And the results of the first three weeks are starting to slow. This is a post about perseverance and pushing through, when it feels that we are not going in the direction we wish.
DISCLAIMER: I am not giving nutritional advice in this post. I am a teacher of Anatomy and Physiology who would like to explain why we should keep going even when we don't see results.
I had a discussion with a friend the other day about counting calories and its usefulness in weight loss. (My daughter and I are on a weight loss journey as suggested by her doctor.) And I thought about it. My friend said that counting calories only works in a closed circuit and doesn't work because of the bodies metabolic processes. I didn't respond right away to their comments, but I did think about it for most of the day.
So lets talk about this. Our bodies need energy to survive. That energy is measured in calories. We need a certain number of calories to live, and to sustain our basic human functions. Most people have heard that if the calories you take in equal the calories you use, you maintain your body weight. And if you take in less calories, you lose weight, and vice versa. And this does work, until it doesn't.
You see, the body adjusts to the number of calories you are bringing in and expending. If you take in more, the body stores it as fat. If you take in less the body uses the fat reserves. After a while the body evens out through metabolism. And this is w
here we see a plateau. This is where most who started a weight loss journey at the start of the year are at right now.
But don't give up. Weight loss comes in ebbs and flows. If you reach a plateau, change things up a bit. Things you can do is add a work out. This changes the input/output equation. And it doesn't have to be a HUGE workout, just a little. Consistency is key. Maybe change the TYPES of food you eat, or park farther from the store and get some extra steps in, or take the stairs. It is the little steps like this that help get us to our goals.
Another thing you may notice is that you are exhausted when you reduce your calories. This is one of the ways your body compensates for not having the energy it is used to. This is normal, and as your body gets used to the new caloric intake, you will need fewer naps (but seriously, what adult doesn't want a nap?)
If you are starting your journey by working out more, you may notice that you put on a bit of weight. This is your body building muscle (and at this point, you should make an appointment with me, to help with all those super sore muscles!) You gain weight because muscles weighs more than fat. But once you start losing weight, you will see it come off quicker, because muscle needs more energy/calories to exist. Your base metabolic rate increases with the more muscle you build.
As this blog post is long enough, I want to conclude by saying: Don't give up. If you made a promise to yourself to get healthy, lose or gain weight, keep going. It will be worth it!
Also, if you are going to start a change in health, workout or diet, please discuss this with the appropriate medical professional. I am not that medical professional. I just know how the body functions.