“Turn and face the strain, ch-ch-changes.” ~David Bowie
The single most effective tool in weight loss is unpredictability and change.
What do I mean by that? Not letting your body know what to expect or what’s coming up next. Shocking it on several levels to keep it on its feet and your metabolism fired up.
You hear about “shocking” you body with exercise, but how about shocking your body with your eating habits? If you are like most people (myself included since I start 360 mornings a year with oatmeal), you get used to eating the same foods day in and day out. It’s surprising to realize that you really do eat close to the same number of calories every day, be it a higher number or a lower number. Your body knows this and depends on this information to keep you fat.
If you are focused on eating only 1,200 calories a day your mind will find a way to throw a whole pizza in there just to keep your fat stores happy. Just sayin’.
If you vary what you eat, how much you eat, and what you do for exercise, something magical happens. Your life becomes more unpredictable and your body starts to respond…so does your brain. Humans thrive on variety. Surprising your body with both food- and exercise changes has the added benefit of empowering your mind.
The simplest way to excite your body and your mind is to plan each week as something different. The first week you might eat fewer carbohydrates (carbs) and more good fats, and the second week more carbs and less fat. The third week you might want to try vegetarian (which requires more creativity) and see how that works for you. Cycle back to the first week and start again, or plan something completely new. Make it unique and different.
Change the actual number of calories you eat each day, too. For a couple of days eat fewer calories, then eat in the mid-range. Eat fewer calories again, then mid-range. Never let your body know what your brain is up to. Do not let your body predict how many calories are coming in. Once your body knows that you are restricting calories it will start to slow down its metabolism to compensate for the perceived “famine.” Don’t let it think the famine is coming by alternating your calories.
Also allow yourself one day per week to not pay attention to how much and what you are eating. I’m not saying go whole hog on the binging. I am suggesting eating as any “normal” person who is not watching their weight would on a relaxed day. Just eat and enjoy. Then start with lower calories the next day again and cycle through your calorie-varying trick.
As an example of the “free day,” yesterday I went to the movies and ate movie theater popcorn. As most of us know, movie theater popcorn is loaded with fat and calories so we avoid it like the plague. I ate the butter-laden popcorn guilt-free (not so good for the heart) because it was part of my planned day of “diet rest.” I enjoyed it and today I had zucchini and egg whites for breakfast. My body is questioning my judgment right now but my head is happy. A happy head equals diet success because you don’t feel deprived. Once a week take this planned “rest” day and see how well it works.
With exercise, instead of sticking to your usual routine, follow the same “week by week” cycling as with the food. While keeping a balance, one week perform more cardio, one week more strength training, and one week add something completely different (Spinning, Zumba, TRX training, kettlebells, dancing, BOSU, Spri 360, Gliding Discs, ropes, boxing….). Some weeks work with heavier weights and lower repetitions, then other weeks work with lower weights and higher repetitions. Change the tempo (faster, slower) and even add intervals. Work with free weights some weeks, then body weight and exercise tubing other weeks. Look for options. As a Spinning instructor I am often locked into a Spinning schedule for cardio, but some weeks I teach more, some weeks I teach less and I always, always change up my strength training routine (it’s no routine!)
So be unpredicable. Be fearless. Make change.
Onward and forward.