Stress, recover, adapt. Diet, reverse diet, maintain. Train, rest, get stronger.
Your ability to train is largely dictated by your ability to recover. Your ability to take on stress needs to be matched by your ability to recover from said stress.
We can’t go, go, go and give, give, give. At one point you may have been able to train twice a day, eat low carbs, continue to perform well and go out every Friday night, but that does not mean that this will work currently or that it won’t catch up to you eventually. Stress levels will vary and our ability to cope with them will also change. Demands of our lives will multiply, the long dark winter days will get to you, what’s going on in your child or spouse’s life will spill into your life and soon you may find it is all too much.
This is why we can’t be so rigid and single-minded in the pursuit of our goals, whether that be following a training plan or being on a weight loss program. Learning to listen to what our body is telling us is important. Taking breaks when needed and shifting our focus to match where we are at a given time in our lives is important.
I am not saying to give up every time the going gets tough. Clearly, that wouldn’t work either. Life will never all of a sudden become easy and stress-free. Life happens, and if you are one of my clients I am sure you’ve heard me say that it’s not about waiting for the perfect time. Waiting for the perfect time to do something is like chasing a unicorn. It never really happens, as life doesn’t work this way. And what will ultimately make you successful in the long run is not what you do when life is perfect, but the choices you make when it isn’t. It’s not about finding a hard diet and maintaining it for 30 days before going back to your old routine; it’s about slowly changing your lifestyle and adopting new habits that you can maintain.
But let’s get back to stress, recovery and adaptation. When it comes to our overall health, we can’t ignore what our bodies are telling us. As a nutrition coach, I am in the business of helping people reach their goals. People come to me chasing better performance, consistency and more often than not some kind of weight loss.
Being in a caloric deficit is an added stress on the body. At PowerUp Nutrition we always take things progressively and never have anyone in a deficit that would be too steep and unhealthy for them. But weight loss is still about energy balance and being in a deficit. We track sleep quality, stress level, hunger, recovery, performance and digestion. All of this often tells me more than the scale does. This is the kind of mental checklist we need to have with ourselves too. How do I feel today? How am I sleeping these days? Is my sex drive normal? My appetite? My desire to train?
Losing weight can be addictive. Often people come to me with only one goal in mind; they see success and want more and more. There’s nothing wrong with having body composition goals and wanting to be shredded; in the end, we all want to look sexy naked. But we need to think in terms of stages: stress, recover, adapt. Play the long game and lose weight in a way that ensures we won’t see it again. We can’t be on a perpetual diet. Diet, reverse diet, maintain. This is just as necessary for us mentally as it is physically. Prolonged periods of dieting only lead to rebounding and binging in the end. This often leads people to be on a perpetual diet, yet gets them nowhere.
It saddens me to think of anyone feeling like they need to be on a diet forever. I track macros all the time. I like to be dialled in with my nutrition. I care about my performance and I certainly like to feel good naked. But I am not tied to my scale or on a calorie deficit year round. My performance and quality of life are important to me, and having a more defined 6-pack benefits neither of those things.
Some food for thought on this Friday, mainly because it’s been on my mind with the Open coming. And my ability to recover was greatly tested this week. My business is growing, my mind is racing with projects and ideas I want to execute, training intensity is amped up with the Open and I had two consecutive nights of poor sleep. Thankfully, coaches have coaches too, and I was reminded to listen to my body, eat all the food, poor myself a cup of tea and chill. And sleep! Nothing beats sleep.
The Open is now less than two weeks away; if you are a Crossfitter, this is go-time! Trying to lose that last 5 lbs shouldn’t be your priority right now. Fuelling your performance and recovery is what matters most. Plenty of time to work on your beach body goals come April.
If you have any questions about your nutrition, or just need any help figuring out what your body is telling you, our coaches are here to help you.
Happy Family Day long weekend everyone!