Hello again and welcome back to my Blog Schmog. In my first brief installment, we talked about how sometimes training is hard, but often enjoyable. Really! I am not just saying that to make you come to the gym. In my opinion and experience, the gym can be a magical space where hard and enjoyable happily coexist. As a trainer, I take the both the work part and the fun part very seriously. Your nutritional life can also include both discipline and enjoyment. Contrary to much of what we read or see on social media, there really can be a middle ground.
Weight loss, like walking lunges or raising toddlers, is, in most cases, objectively challenging at times. With dieting, by definition, you are taking in less energy (food) than you are putting out (burning calories), and therefore losing weight. You are deliberately creating an energy deficit within yourself. It can feel hard. And if your weight loss goal is significant and/ or lengthy in duration, hunger and fatigue are pretty much a given. Additionally, with an abundance of very palatable, high calorie, low-cost food available everywhere for most people in the US, adhering to a calorie deficit is all that much harder. There are obstacles that will come from within and without. I think it’s better to know this going into a diet phase and develop a solid plan for how to cope with these inevitable obstacles.
As I began my weight loss journey post pregnancies, a helpful nutritionist introduced me to the concept of a Hunger Scale continuum, with starving/ extremely hungry being on one end of the scale and overfull/ stuffed being on the other end of that scale, and all points in between. “You are going to be hungry sometimes,” she informed me, pointing to the slightly lower than middle section of the scale. This really hit me between the eyes at the time. I had, like so many people, been enticed with a lot of marketing for various diets that promised that I would “never feel hungry.” A successful diet, it turns out, pretty much guarantees that you will occasionally or sometimes be a little hungry, especially as your hormones adjust to your changing caloric intake and body composition. For the most part, as humans, we haven’t biologically adapted very well yet to mild feelings of hunger. In many cases, we’re conditioned to swat at the gnat of hunger with the proverbial club. We’re all too likely to hit that hunger with a pizza or a burrito that contains a whole day’s caloric budget. It takes time, practice, and effort to find that sweet spot place on the hunger continuum, not uncomfortably hungry nor starving, but not necessarily completely full or over-full either.
Just as a warm- up before a training session, adequate hydration, a healthy snack (and a helpful trainer!) can assist you in getting through your tough workout, there are great tools to help you get through the tough times of your diet.
As a coach, one of the first things I will do with you if you have a weight loss goal, is work with you to determine what your maintenance calories are, and then begin to adjust from there. As we make these caloric and/ or macro adjustment, we discuss strategic methods and tools to try to stick to the plan, mitigate hunger, and reach the goal. Tools such as meal prepping and planning, snack ‘swap’ ideas, - ‘budgeting’ for parties or events, non-food stress management tactics- any or all of these may play an important role in helping you reach your goals.
I plan to use this blog space to explore some of these tools in more detail in the coming weeks and months. I will also include recipe and workout ideas and tips, as well as any insights I gain in my work as a trainer, sports nutritionist, and as an amateur athlete.
I look forward to continuing to offer you my support, encouragement, experience and powerful belief in your ability to make changes to your body and your life.