What actually happens to our metabolism with chronic dieting, how can we fix or heal our metabolism, and how we learn to trust our body?
After years of dieting or following eating plans, weight loss can feel hard! Why is that? This can be related to our wise body adapting to the low intake conditions presented in the past. I say wise, because our body is actually sending a signal that something is wrong and it is doing it's best to with what we are providing.
For years I ate under my basal metabolic requirements to maintain thinness (We're talking less than 1700kcals/day). What I didn't take into account, was the metabolic damage I was creating and the long road to recovery I would need in order to feel like myself again, feel free around food and feel the healthiest I've ever felt.
If you feel like you're eating even less than ever but you're weight isn't reflective this could be a sign that your metabolism has adapted to the extreme circumstances for self preservation.
What happens to our metabolism with chronic dieting?
When we regularly eat less than our body requires for our basic body functions (brain, kidneys, heart, lungs and nervous system), proper digestion and body movement then our body decides to slow down our metabolism (burn less calories) to burn less, in response to the supply of energy not meeting the daily demands.
Unfortunately, our body needs to find these energy requirements from somewhere, so depending on how low our intake is, our body will start to break down our tissues to transform them into energy to keep the life sustaining systems going.
This is when I started to experience, brittle nails, sore joints. Our clients report missing their periods, hair loss, fatigue. These are all signs of sub-optimal health. So the old adage "lose weight to improve health" is missing a lot of nuance.
What about calories in < calories out = weight loss?
For people who may have been OVER eating, and they simply decrease their intake to what they actually need then this formula stands the test of science. HOWEVER, if someone like my past-self, follows a diet that does not meet their basic requirements then the initial "weight loss" may be quite quick and too drastic, essentially signaling to our body that their is a food shortage. Prolong this state or repeat it enough and many women experience what I did - feeling like they have to eat less and less to maintain their weight.
How can we fix our metabolism?
1) Eat well - eat regular well balanced meals with carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Signal to your body food is available when it is needed so that it can start repairing the systems needing more support to run optimally.
2) Sleep well - get good quality sleep. Get to bed before 12am every night to ensure your body has time to repair your tissues.
3) Feel well - manage your stress, your thoughts and proactively find the things that bring you joy in your life. This will help bring down your cortisol and overall help you feel (no more willpower needed) like making choices that support your health.
How can we trust our body again?
For many of us, this journey can be quite scary. We are literally do the very thing we trained ourselves NOT to do for years. For me, and for our clients, leaning on the mantra that our body needs time to heal, trust and repair before it can soar is something that not only gives our body the time required for these processes but also puts our stress/worries at ease (the effect of this alone should not be under estimated).
This a journey that repairs our mind our body and our soul. Pour into yourself like never before, show your body unconditional love and acceptance like never before and watch the magic unfold.
Afterall, if we want a different outcome than we've ever experienced before we need to take a different approach right? Why not one of kindness? Why not one that works with our body instead of against it?
You're not broken, you're body is just trying to tell you something.
We know this journey can be frustrating at times - we'd love to hear how you're reframing your mindset down below - it may help others on the a similar journey!
DISCLAIMER - This blog post is for informational purposes only and not a suitable substitute for working with your medical professional.