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Why You Can't Outrun a Bad Diet

If you are a runner, there’s a high probability your friends and family believe you’re out of your mind.  I often ask myself why I look forward to waking up at 4am to put my body through hours of torture throughout the week.  Meb Kefleski, the most decorated American marathoner has declared how displeasurable racing is in every single marathon.  He has questioned finishing each of the 26 marathons he has ever competed in, gold medals included.  I imagine this experience is somewhat comparable to Soul Cyclists, advanced yogis, and barre class students.  So, there must be a scientific reason why we remain invested in these activities.  Yes!  Evidently, our bodies produce the same chemicals of those that are triggered with depression and anxiety medication, in addition to cocaine and other amphetamines.

Whether you have logged thousands of miles on Strava, or you’re religious about signing up for every 6am weekday Barre class, you still may feel disatisfied with the results you’re seeing when it comes to your weight.  It’s a frustration I hear every week, from men and women in their fifties, to women in their mid-twenties. So, I wanted to share why this annoyance is shared across every age, gender, and athlete.   My gut’s first response says, you are perfect regardless, yet I do understand the tenderness of the time and cost investment vs. the result you have in your mind.  My second, third, and fourth explanations suggest that it all must begin in the kitchen!

You're eating more than you think. We all are.

Did you know nutrition facts have a 20% variance?  This means that those 100 calorie snack packs may not be 100 calories at all, and in fact are probably closer to 120.  This doesn’t seem that significant, but if you are eating a meal you believe to be 500 calories, it’s actually closer to 600.

If you feel like you may be a victim of this, considering a plant based diet to shy away from any foods that come in a can or a box may help you consume the amount of energy you naturally need. I understand many working professionals have grown accustom to grab-and-go-food. Fortunately, kiosks like Farmers Fridge are popping up to support you in this process! Instead, these new options provide better nutrition to help you feel naturally satiated, where carbohydrate-packed on-the-go food is engineered to make you continue to want to consume more.

Our bodies process stress differently.

If you have attended any of my workshops, you have been well informed that our bodies operate off of ancient mechanisms that are meant to protect us.  Physical activity is required for survival, but we are animals and exercise formerly determined life or death.

Physical activity also sends a message to your brain that you are under stress.  When your body is in agony, many other functions actually turn off,  such as digestion, immunity and mood control.  Additionally, we can also experience an increase in fat storage and disrupted hunger cues because our body is preparing to perform and protect us and fight.

Last week I shared the idea of joy-based-spending in its relationship to your gym membership expense.  According the this theory, there are more positive emotions associated with this type of spending.  This is also true when it comes to your own energy.  If you’re not enjoying what you are doing while in physical activity, the chemistries will tell your brain that you have to do this, sending signals from your brain to increase fat storage.  If you are enjoying your exercise routine, similar to the state of bliss we runners receive while logging miles, the dopamine and endorphins will be appropriately released allowing our bodily functions to relax and operate as they should.

Your body is yearning for efficiency.

Believe it or not, our bodies aren’t looking for a high metabolism.  We’re looking for efficiency, and a low metabolism so we can stay in balance and sustain our storage and energy levels.  On average we burn 100 calories for every ten minutes of cardio, and for every mile we run.  As we become more conditioned, this caloric rate decreases, yet the one pound remains the weight of 3,500 calories.  So, if you have gotten back into a work-out routine a few months ago, and started to see weight come off, but now feel as if you’re holding onto an extra layer, this may be why.  Eventually, your hunger hormones will adjust, but if you choose to continue a higher level of fitness, building lean muscle is key.  You can do this by increasing your speed, weight and effort or switching up your choice of exercise to something you’re body is not as accustomed to.

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