Go Hungry, again…

I need to renew my ACE (American Council on Exercise) Certification in order to have my workshops accredited for Continuing Education Credits. The first line in the manual reads: “The fitness industry is facing a unique and difficult time. While the expertise of fitness professionals has never been stronger, statistics show that Americans are getting heavier and less active as each year passes.”

I want to jump up and down and scream IT’S BECAUSE FITNESS PROFESSIONALS ARE AFRAID TO TELL PEOPLE YOU WILL BE HUNGRY AS YOU BEGIN TO LOSE WEIGHT – AND THAT IS OKAY!

There – it’s out. I feel better, don’t you? Sip some water then when you are really hungry and you are ready for a meal, Fill Your Cup!

GO HUNGRY!

I operate under my unscientific conclusion that there are only two methods to diet for weight loss.  Diets that work make you feel either hungry or bored.  I find that a  “hungry” diet or one that leaves your stomach rumbling for more is a more effective, manageable way to live.  Being hungry, really hungry is inevitable those first 3-4 weeks while your body grows accustomed to consuming fewer calories.  But as your belly seems to shrink, it adjusts processing less food.  This is a very sustainable program.  One day you will only be hungry the hour or two before you fill your cup. 

If you chose, the alternative, “a boring diet,” a diet where you can eat all the greens and meats that you can possibly consume.   You may be full, but most of us will always feel like we are restricted, punished, or left out of the “good life.”   If you eat a platter of broccoli your stomach will always be expecting a big full feeling.  Then, when you are done with your diet of broccoli, you will likely fill up with something else with more calories and less fiber and eventually you will gain all your weight back and maybe even more.

To be in a smaller clothing size you need to adjust your body’s caloric expectations.  There will certainly be a few weeks while your body gets used to consuming less that you WILL be hungry.  Let that feeling act as a reminder of your goal and the inevitable results you are feeling.  I tell my clients who are frustrated by hunger that hunger is JUST a feeling;  like lust – and just like lust – it will fade… 

Several studies that show that reducing the calories that are fed to laboratory animals increases their life spans and health.  Special diets, exercise, or socialization never worked as well as calorie reduction for increasing their longevity.

Lets think for a minute about what happens with the natural hunger instinct.  Hunger is that really empty feeling in the stomach when your body is telling you,  “I’m out of ready fuel. I am going to sharpen your thinking, your vision, your hearing, sense of smell even your intuition and lift your spirits so you can go out into nature and gather/hunt for food. In the meantime, I will clean myself out by converting garbage into fuel.” When a body has real hunger evolutionary magic metabolizes fat cells, tumors and cholesterol, and converts them into fuel. So, it makes sense that decreasing calories (but not eliminating them) both increases longevity and quality of life.  1

“Epidemiological evidence indicates that calorie restriction may already have contributed to an extension of average and maximum life span in one human population and appears to have lowered risk for age associated chronic diseases in other human populations.2”   This human study took a special human group who has been in a state of calorie restriction approximately half of their adult lives.  They practice called Hara Hachi Bu, this means eating until you are only 80 percent full The older Okinawans, of Japan they have more people over the age of 100 than any other human population, and lower incidents of Heart disease, stroke and cancer. 

Once the hunger fades we find ourselves habitually eating less.  It is a lifestyle choice, a value call.  I ask myself, “Do I care more about fitting into the jeans I like to wear or eating that extra six bites of delicious chicken?”  It’s more than a diet it is change in the little choices you make every meal.  I choose a lifestyle that includes satisfaction with how my body fits in nearly any style of clothes I want in a boutique, instead of dessert or large portions at dinner.

Choosing to be thin may be a huge change in your values and choices, or it may be just a few temporarily uncomfortable adjustments.  A new diet (and the body that goes with it) is only sustainable if it is comes from the values you hold inside:  your values about food, about your body and what you are committed to feeling like.  Do you really want to be thin? Do you want it enough to change?

We all seem to understand intuitively that to lose weight we must eat less, but many of my clients have asked me over the years, “how much less?”  Those of us who “try on” all the diets have realized that starving makes our bodies hold on to calories in a strange, and primal way.  When we fast our body has to use energy it has stored. Initially I think to my self “use stored energy? Awesome take my hips!”  In the beginning we all lose some weight by fasting, but because our bodies have genetic survival codes that combat the effects of starvation; it can backfire.  A post-fasting metabolism is slower in order to conserve energy for the next famine.   When we begin eating normally again our body stores our food faster than before. So we may gain weight even if we are eating the same amount of food we did before the fast.  1  Not to mention, starvation makes a person very unfriendly, impatient and downright horrible to live with!   

I realize that going somewhat hungry after each meal is living outside your comfort zone. That is hard.   Remember, that you will get used to it and what you feel like in your skin is more satisfying than what you felt like with a stuffed stomach.  My Mom used to say, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”  Thanks Jo Boettcher.   As you work on Filling your Cup, I recommend that you eat.   Eat a variety of foods just, less than you are eating now.  In the next chapter we explore exactly how much food.