There is nothing more upsetting than seeing months of hard work undone in a couple of days. Imagine my surprise when I jumped on the scale to see a gain of six pounds in just two weeks. That’s three months of hard work down the drain. It’s enough to make someone want to give up and dive head-first into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
Let’s put the brakes on for a second here.
When people say that 95% of diets fail, this is what they are talking about right here. This is that pivotal moment. You are standing at a fork in the road. The first path looks clear and easy, but it is going to loop you right back to where you started. The other looks a bit more daunting – it’s rocky, full of untraveled terrain, and seems almost impossible.
Unfortunately, that scary path is the one that leads you to your goal.
Getting back on it is not easy. We are creatures of habit and there will always come moments in your life when our ability to change those habits are tested. During times of crisis, it is natural to go back to that which is easy and familiar.
The good news is, with just a little bit of mindfulness, you can get back on track stronger than ever.
If you haven’t noticed, Triple S has been kind of quiet recently. Other than the Countdown to Infinity Podcast eating up my life (we are seven weeks out from Avengers: Infinity War, folks!), I’m in the process of a major life change.
After six and a half years of living in Brooklyn, I’m moving out to Jersey City. On the one hand, I’m checking off an item from my 2018 Bucket List. On the other, this is a major upheaval that’s eating up my wallet and my time and destroying my routine.
I’ve been defaulting to ordering take out, failing to meal prep, and binge-eating after 5 pm – basically my weight loss arch nemesis.
Part of the reason I have this blog is accountability for myself, and sharing my journey so that I can help others. Here are the three things we need to do to get ourselves back on track.
1. Recognize that Weight Gain is not Fat Gain
Fat gain and fat loss all boils down to math. A pound of fat contains 3500 calories worth of energy. This is when keeping a food log, like MyFitnessPal, really comes in handy. I’ve been eating a lot more than usual recently. But the odds that I’ve eaten 21,000 calories over my daily needs in the past seven days? Probably not.
Maybe I have eaten a few thousand more than usual, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably no more than a pound. And I’m good with that. I’ve lost more than fifty of those suckers, and I can lose that one again.
So what makes the scale skyrocket like that?
One word: Water.
Our bodies are about 50-70% water, and even slight variations can shift the scale about 2-5 pounds – sometimes even as much as 10!
There are many things that can cause our bodies to retain more water than usual
Higher than usual sodium intake.
To keep your salt levels in check, your body hangs on to extra water to make sure your blood sodium concentrations remain at a healthy level.
Eating more carbs than usual.
Every gram of glycogen your body stores in its muscles takes 3-4 grams of water along for the ride. There’s a reason they are called carbohydrates.
A new or particularly intense workout.
Using your muscles to their max means that they need to do some repair work. Your muscles fill with extra fluids to facilitate that rebuild – and give you a nice swole look too.
Sorry estrogen-driven folks, this hormone loves to hold onto water. Partially because extra fluids are important for pregnancy. Estrogen levels are higher during the second half of the menstrual cycle, and then drop off at the beginning of menstruation. This explains the bloat and drop as one gets their period. Being on hormonal birth control or taking estrogen as part of HRT will also lead to some spikes in water weight.
Cortisol is another hormone that can cause your body to hang on to some extra H2O if you have too much of it. Sleep deprivation, along with psychological stress, can be factors in driving up your cortisol levels.
2. Identify What Got Off-Track
I once had and friend of mine frown at my insistence that lifestyle change was the key to maintaining a healthy body. She said that was not realistic, because you can’t expect a change to last for a lifetime. At the time, I was a little stunned. I did not know what to tell her.
Now, I wish I had told her she was right.
Our lifestyles change all the time. Someone sedentary might get a dog that needs walks and finds their daily energy needs going up. Or, someone who got around a busy city on foot may find themselves in the suburbs and they’re no longer as active as they once were.
Know what doesn’t change?
The fact that you have control over your life. You are capable of taking a moment to look at your surroundings and figure out what is tripping you up.
Monday, while I was hunched over a table in the cafeteria shoveling fries in my face at lunch, it dawned on me that I had not meal prepped. I swung by the grocery store and picked up some frozen food for the week.
Unfortunately, my choices did not have a lot of fiber and more carbs than protein which left me ravenous when I got home from work. Two steps forward, one step back. But I learned an important lesson about what I need to feel satiated.
Then there was a snow storm. And the day after that I locked myself out of my apartment. And I 100% fell into old comfort eating traps, even though they did not feel as good as they once did.
But this weekend starts a new chapter in my life and a clean slate to begin from. Which brings me to point three.
3. Set Yourself Up For Success
Once you have figured out what your weaknesses are, it’s time to craft your battle plan.
First and foremost – do not make yourself your enemy. The last thing you want is to make wildly restrictive measures as a form of punishment for your slip up.
The damage is done, we all make mistakes, and its time to move on and do better. There are so many other, more productive uses of your energy.
Think about the things that helped you succeed in the past? How can you adapt that to your new circumstances? I know I’m already planning out next week’s meals with more fruit and quinoa to keep me full for longer.
Did your work hours shift into your typical workout window? Time to rethink how you hit the gym.
Maybe you’re a new parent and you are flat out exhausted. Remember the physical benefits of regular exercise, and keep yourself in the best shape possible for yourself and your little one.
We all have twenty-four hours in a day, but we can’t all be Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Remember your priorities, and when you want to make something happen, you will find a way to make it happen.
What’s changed for you recently? How are you dealing with it? Let me know in the comments below.
Until my life slows down a bit, Triple S is probably going to be on a once a week schedule, but I’ll be ramping things up again come summertime.
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