Have you been sticking to your diet and exercising regularly for weeks but the scale has barely moved? Can’t lose the last 10 pounds and eventually feel you’re getting discouraged and want to stop? The problem is the scale rarely (if ever) tells the whole story. Instead we need to pay attention to the following indicators for your nutrition… to see if you’re on the right track!
You crave caffeine and I mean crave, without it you feel like a zombie walking around. You drift through the day in barely noticed fog and crash at night. Nutrition isn’t just about what you put in your body, its about getting you the adequate energy you need to get you through the day. When you start getting the energy you need through proper nutrition something almost magical happens. You wake up and feel…. Normal. This is generally due to many of us being vitamin deficient in some way. Most processed diet are low in vitamins and minerals that help our body through metabolism and release of energy.
Whether your clothes are fitting looser, or tighter depending on your goal, can be one of the best indicators. This happens a lot especially with the individuals who say, “I’ve been sticking to me diet religiously and exercising regularly why have I only lost five pounds?” Some of the time we aren’t honest with ourselves about how we have actually been doing on our diet, but sometimes it can be because muscle is heavier than fat. This is due to muscle what happens to muscle when they get stronger and adapt because now you are training them.
When muscle cells contract with enough intensity they break down (which is a good thing!). It forces the body to adapt by generating more muscle cells increasing the density and size of the muscle. It’s why you get that “hurts so good” muscle soreness after your workout sometimes. The same thing even happens in bones but to less of an extent. Our bones actually increase in density with strength training due to the demand being placed on them from this new activity. It’s why if you know anyone with osteoporosis or osteopenia, strength training is really important!
We’ve all seen the commercial. eat a snickers you’re not you when you’re hungry… and to an extent its true. Your body is always in a sense of homeostasis which is a fancy word for balance. It’s needed to keep you alive and your body regulated. When you aren’t getting enough nutrients in the food you’re eating, your brain adjusts because it is trying to keep you balanced. It tries to keep your body at a steady state both emotionally and physically.
A lot of foods have the building blocks for some important chemicals that aid in regulating our mood. For example, lean protein increases a chemical called tryptophan, a building block of serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that aids in making us feel relaxed. Eating too much hydrogenated fats and trans fast can actually worsen our mood (think some of fats in processed foods and margerines). They actually lower our level of omega 3s which is linked to symptoms of depression.
Starting a nutrition overhaul can feel like a slap in the face. Not only are you probably eating less calories meaning less potential energy for the day, but your body is now trying to adapt to these different types of nutrients it’s being exposed to. Your body can and does adapt to a bad diet, it doesn’t love it and it wont perform optimally but it can do what it needs to.
I like to think of it this way two cars identical year make and model. One gets premium gas its whole life and the other always unleaded. The first car gets regular oil changes, tires rotated, rust protection, and the list goes on. While the second car gets its oil changed every once and a while, maybe brakes changed but that’s about it. Sure both cars will probably still be driving 5 years later, but which one do you think would win in a race and which one will ultimately last longer?
After the first week you will notice you’re starting to jump up out of bed, having a little more pep in your step, giving your body the things it needs to do to perform better giving you more energy and almost making you feel fresher every morning. The squats you did last week at that weight now feels almost light? This has a lot to do with your body being able to recover from the stress of the exercise you did the week before, the more exercise you do with proper nutrition, the better your body becomes at taking care of itself and speeds up the recovery process.
All of these things together can be more important than the amount the scale is moving every week. Don’t let yourself get discouraged when the scale doesn’t move as quickly as you would like it to. There are so many other things to keep track of that can show just how beneficial your new healthy habits can have.