Sexy jeans and beautiful dresses

In my mid-twenties when I started dating with more serious intentions I decided that the extra fat on my belly and especially on my thighs had to come off. I wanted to be able to fit into sexy jeans and wear beautiful dresses without my thighs getting sore from rubbing against each other.

I started several attempts of reducing my calorie intake and adding exercise to my routine. My idea was: “if I can burn more calories than I eat, I’ll lose weight. It’s a dead simple equation, I just need to stick with it for long enough.” Is this a strategy you’ve tried before? Here is how it worked for me: every time I managed to lose about three kilos without really seeing my body shape change much. The day I started with my diet all I could think about was food which made portion control super challenging. I felt low in energy, hungry, constantly tempted and after a while pretty miserable (not to mention feeling guilty for giving in to my cravings from time to time). Feeling miserable and not seeing the results was the perfect combination for giving up. And of course the few kilos were sneaking right back to where I had lost them. Sounds familiar?

After about six or seven attempts (I threw in some Atkins and other diets as well), I decided that torturing myself for losing just a few kilos only to find them re-appear was simply not worth it. By the time I was 30 I decided that it’s more important to enjoy life and forget about the sexy jeans and beautiful dresses.

From feeling down to 9kg down

Fast forward 10 years and I found myself suffering from FLC (Feel Like Crap) Syndrome. I was sleep deprived, in pain and overweight (at this point I had added several kilos of baby weight).  My daughter was a cry-baby, I was making very bad food choices all in the name of “fast and convenient” and on top of that I was worried and stressed.

FLC was my catalyst to really looking at the food I was eating, I wanted more energy and most of all I wanted to get rid of the pain. With the help of a friend, I ditched the processed food, started eating real food and became much more conscious about hidden sugars and chemicals. I soon felt much better, I was still tired but I certainly didn’t feel like a zombie anymore. Things got easier the further I progressed with learning about food and enjoying delicious meals that were easy and fast to prepare. Now picture this: I never counted calories, grams of carbohydrates, points or anything else and yet to my big amazement I lost 9kg in the process and weight loss was the last thing on my mind!?!?

Why more can be less

I couldn’t do this in my mid-twenties and now I was 40 and weight loss came as a present. I never felt hungry or like I was depriving myself, my energy levels rose and felt better and better. This was simply amazing! There had to be a secret to weight loss and now I know what it is: the equation “calories in < calories out =  weight loss” is not dead simple, it’s dead wrong! How can this possibly be wrong? After all it’s one of the laws of thermodynamics. Here is the answer: we don’t function like toaster ovens, our bodies are much more complex than that. Food is not just calories, food is information that controls every aspect of our health and our biology. That’s why the same amount of calories from broccoli versus calories from soft drinks for example simply don’t have the same effect on our bodies. This fact gives a lot more importance to the quality of the calories we eat than the quantity.

So what exactly happens when we simply restrict calorie intake and put extra strain on the body by exercising (possibly more than the body can sustain)? This strategy throws our metabolism into survival mode which is fat storage mode. The body slows down the metabolism and holds on to any fat reserves because it wants to be prepared in case the famine hits even harder the next day. You also get hungry so that you eat whenever you have the chance (remember the body thinks it’s starving) and you also get tired to keep you from moving too much so can conserve the energy you still have. To lose weight you want to get into fat burning mode which generally involves eating more of the right things rather than eating less.

Now you know the secret that got me into my first pair of sexy jeans at the age of 40!

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