It’s that time of year again when we are supposed to set our intentions for the upcoming year. Many of us turn towards restrictive diets, and intense workout routines in the hopes of changing our appearance. Many of these promise a “healthier” you, but what if these were doing more to harm your health than good?
Let’s start by clearing one thing up – how your metabolism actually works! Your metabolism is responsible for dividing up Calories, your body’s fuel, for each bodily function (breathing, digesting, muscle contraction, etc.) in a similar way that you divide up your money to pay your bills. So, let’s refer to your metabolism as the “banker”.
There are many ways to restrict your calorie intake: calorie counting, eliminating food groups, intermittent fasting, etc. When you do this, your body must accomplish all the same tasks but with less fuel. This is like trying to pay your bills but with less money. So you make sure you set aside enough money to pay the essentials – power bill, groceries, etc, and then you have to sacrifice elsewhere – eating out, morning coffee run, buying clothes, etc. When you restrict Calories, your body must set aside energy for the things that keep you alive – breathing, heart pumping, brain activity – and sacrifices elsewhere. This may result in lower energy levels, duller hair skin and nails, your digestion could be affected, and you may feel like you’re not able to complete certain tasks the way you should. Sure, you can push through and still accomplish most tasks, but this is an added stress on your body and even though it may not seem significant, can have a negative impact on your health increasing the risk of certain chronic diseases.
Most people have dieted and restricted on and off for decades.And this yo-yo effect of both your habits and your weight can damage your metabolism forcing you to eat less than someone else the same size to maintain any weight loss and protecting itself from future weight loss by making it harder to lose weight intentionally with each attempt.
Your best weight is the weight that you are when you are eating in a way that supports your health - most of the time - and moving your body regularly in a way that you can maintain. In other words, your health flourishes with consistency.
Let’s say that you follow the healthy plate model %80 of the time and then you skip the veggies when you have your Friday pizza night and order takeout on Saturday night and you indulge in a small dessert every other day. And you can spare 30 minutes 3 times a week to move your body in a way that elevates your heart rate. And most importantly you canconsistently maintain this routine of balanced nutrition and regular physical activity. This would be a reasonable expectation for a busy person with a sweet tooth who is willing to put in an hour of effort a week to help meal plan and prep and schedule a bit of time weekly for joyful movement alone, with a partner or with your family.
But what if you did all this and you were still 20 lbs more than what you think you should weigh or what the doctor says your BMI should be? I would ask your doctor if there is anything you should be concerned about in your bloodwork, blood pressure readings other clinical tests. And I would ask you to reflect on if there is anything you feel you are not able to do after maintaining this routine for a few months? As a Dietitian I can interpret this information to determine if any tweaks may be required, like adding a fiber supplement or making more homemade sauces to reduce your sodium intake. And one of our Kinesiologists may recommend changing the type of exercise you are doing to help you reach your goals and feel stronger in your daily tasks.
And if all your tests come back clear and you feel physically able, and you have found a healthcare and self-care routine that you can maintain – then that would be my definition of your best weight.
A weight that can only be reached by severe dietary restrictions, sacrificing quality time with family, and doing things that promote good mental health, or essential sleep, is not a good weight for you. A weight that can only be reached by you feeling stressed about every food decision you make or that removes you from social gatherings involving food, or that makes you see physical activity as a punishment is not a good weight for you.
This year let’s get back to the basics of healthy eating and moving your body in a way that makes you feel good. Let’s find a way of eating that nourishes us and supports our health. And discover ways of moving our bodies that enhance our lives and that we look forward to.
Our team at Capture Therapeutics by PhysioFirst can help!