Taking the plunge into a transformation program is often one of the scariest things some will ever do. It’s intimidating seeing all these beautiful people with amazing bodies and awesome results. Most don’t release that they had to start somewhere as well. They also made the scary choice to jump into the deep end and see if they could swim. They tackled a program and worked it hard. Saw results and experienced the gains. Well, some of them do. Not all.
The upsetting part is that there is that most of these programs DON’T have an end game. They entice you to jump right in and get caught up in all the hype. “Lose 20kg on our program and change your life forever”. Most people get caught up in the ‘lose 20kg’ bit and see that as the end of all their problems. appearing. It’s distressing to see so many people lose the 20kg only to put it back – plus 15-20% more!
There is a reason for this and it’s a little tricky to explain but I’ll do my best.
90% of programs out there are like Snakes And Ladders
I really enjoyed this game. As a matter of fact I loved it. Playing this with my mother and grandmother as a boy was a real highlight growing up. However, it does teach us a great lesson: It takes a lot of calculated moves to reach the top while preparing for a few slip ups. Their going to happen but the person who bounces back from it the best will win. You’ll remember that you need to roll the dice and climb the board from the bottom left corner, hoping you get to the ladders (allowing you to climb) whilst avoiding the snakes (which send you back down). Statistically, it takes more rolls and turns to climb the board, but you can slide all the way back to the start with only a few missteps.
Your body operates in the same fashion. You can go ‘eat’ really lean and be super strict with a very low carb diet (for future reference, low carb does NOT mean no carb) and yes, you will see results but it is also guaranteed that at some point, you will experience failure, either in the form of a backslide, plateau, injury, etc.. aWell, that ‘failure’ will hit you hard if you don’t prepare for some change. The writing is on the wall with super low carb diets. The minute you ‘go back to your old ways’, your body will see that there is a caloric change; in this case, a surplus, which will see the body jump up and down with glee. It’s being fed more energy than before (which it understandood to be famine) so, it wants to hold on to all the extra energy. This is because it’s not sure when the next famine will hit and it wants to be prepared for it.
The body hates doing things tough. It’s designed to follow the path of least resistance. So if you give it hell one time, it will give you hell later on, by going back to where it was comfortable.
James Bond always had at least one escape route – and James Bond was awesome!
This means we need to be smart with how we plan our days and how we make sure we have back-ups to implement if (or inevitably, when) we fall. The easiest way for this to happen is ALWAYS prep your food, but to also make sure you have grab and go items in your fridge and travel container.
Why you ask? The reason is we often like to warm our foods for when we want to sit down and eat them. I’m in the same boat. Eating cold food is something I could do but it’s not nearly as pleasurable as eating a toasty warm meal (I also promise that will be the last ‘toast’ reference I ever make).
I’m always a big fan of vegetables and (homemade guacamole) (VAQ) -always hits the spot. The reason I always pack this is because if, for some reason I can’t get a main meal into me, or if I need to eat my food warm and it’s impossible to do so, I’ll snack the VAQ until I get into a position to eat that warm, toasty meal (ok THAT is definitely the last toast reference!).
Small steps to success then small steps back to normality
As I alluded to above, the harder you go at the start, the harder the come-down can be if you don’t put steps in place to prevent yourself from going back. These steps include balancing(?) low carb phases with a short, higher carb phase. For instance, I’m a fan of a ‘4 day low, 1 day re-feed’. We can deplete the body of glycogen and sugar stores and then when we add the re-feed, we add more glyocogen into the muscle as well as yummy carbs into the body.
The caloric spike will also help in prevent metabolic dysfunction too. Most low carb / paleo / ketogenic diets are on the low end for total calories consumed. Staying on very low calorie diets for prolonged periods of time is a wonderful way to set you up for a metabolic rollercoaster, which only ends in you being too big to fit on the ride anyway.
Your body is a hoarder. Give it a chance to keep stuff (fat) and it will.
I won’t make fun of hoarding because it’s a serious problem with a lot (mainly all) underlying issues. I make fun of my day for turning his shed into a collection of irrelevant tools, printer cables and speakers that you couldn’t connect to anything if you tried. It’s cheaper to buy a wireless pair of speakers that to repair what he has. But that’s enough about him. He’s a good guy. You know what’s not good and what your body is preparing for with a low calorie diet?
This one’s for you Pappa!
Famine. That’s what your body is preparing for. Low calorie, low energy and restrictive diets tell your body that there is a famine present. Winter is coming, and it’s time to become efficient at holding onto any and all body fat possible to survive the impending cold. Sounds pretty grim, but that is what evolution has done to us. Put aside your thoughts of wanting to be 10 pounds lighter for summer, give your body a high five for the ability to protect your ass during some pretty tough times. Thousands of years of adaptation has done some amazing things to the human body (with our best interests at heart: i.e. our survival), but it’s only in the last hundred that aesthetics have become ‘important’. A hundred years is merely a blip on the evolutionary timeline, and our bodies haven’t caught onto the fact that we live in an era of abundance (for the most part). Granted, looking and feeling healthy is a solid metric to use when tracking your results, but take a step back and then take 3 more and really look at the whole picture of where we’ve come from, and where we are today. Abs for summer are cool, but human evolution is arguably cooler!
Convince your body that it is ITS choice to ‘release’ body fat.
Keep the body guessing and make sure you don’t give it the chance to become a fat storage machine. With many of the tips that we mentioned above, it’s crucial that you rotate and manipulate your variable regularly. By variable I mean changing the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fas that your eating on days that you’re training and days that you’re off (less on training days, more on non training days. More articles to come on this later) By ‘regularly’ I mean every 8-12 weeks. Give yourself a chance to get good at these new tactics and learn them inside and out.
I know that when I taught a number of my clients about carb cycling they just about flipped their lids thinking that I was going to be adding LOTS of carbs on particular days. They had been so used to the low carb way of living that this was a massive change. Their head space was the main thing that was challenging their efforts to change. Every 8-12 weeks, we look at where they are at and how can we get them stronger and better.
That is, the goals for my clients is no longer some arbitrary “end point” where they suddenly get to say, “alright, goal achieved, my program is finished”. By constantly reassessing and educating, my clients (of their own choosing) continue to aim for better results from the information I give them, so that when they succeed they are willing and able to try more advanced ways of eating/training/lifting etc. They are always looking for the next challenge, they are never “done”. I think this is a much better goal than the ol’ ‘I just want to lose a few pounds to fit into my jeans.’