By Angela Christine
Who remembers Newton’s Third Law?
I didn’t know it either until I hit a wall when it came to my physical progress.
According to Newton, whenever two objects interact with each other, they exert force upon each other.
Example: If you throw a ball at a wall, the ball will bounce off the wall and come back at you with the same force you threw it.
Meaning, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
So, every time you diet to the extreme, every time you throw your body under a set of weights, your body is reacting equally, and oppositely.
In recent years, the idea of Metabolic Damage became popular. It became the newest disease. “Oh, well I’m not in shape because I have metabolic damage.” Well for some, that may be true, and for others, it is a simple cop out.
I happen to fall under the true category, and have wanted to share my journey and express how important it ultimately is to never take anything to the extreme, unless you want the extreme, opposite results back.
Prepping for competition often means low calorie diets, hours in the gym, completely disregarding certain food groups, certain vitamins, all for the fear of “I’ll hold water” or “I won’t be lean enough.” All of that is fine, in MODERATION, but if there is ANYTHING I learned, it was how NOT to diet. I’ll walk you through the steps:
What NOT to do when seeking to achieve a lean, toned physique.
A diet that is too low.
I don’t care who you hire as your coach. I don’t care if your dietitian’s roster includes Hollywood stars, Olympian athletes or Olympic Gold champions. Eating anything under 1200k/cal a day for extended periods of time can cause SIGNIFICANT damage to your body. Remember Newton’s Third Law? If you teach your body to survive on 800 calories a day, it will. The human body = AWESOME. And soon, at 800 calories, you won’t lose weight anymore, so what’s the next step? You need to drop to 650, then 500, and then you’re stuck eating one apple a day and some water? NO. Feed your body. Eat more when you lift, a little less on the days your sedentary.
Do hours of cardio every day.
Who the heck did I think I was? How on God’s green earth did I manage to do three (1) hour cardio sessions 7 days a week for 8 weeks + work + lift? Oh, that’s right. I didn’t sleep.
There is ZERO NEED to do hours of cardio for extended periods of time. That is NOT how you get lean. It IS how you slow your natural metabolism, burn muscle, and ya know, exhaust yourself.
Low Intensity Steady State cardio has been proven to slow your metabolism which can cause a general feeling of fatigue throughout the day, restless nights, and can cause you to hold more water or fat than normal. In the idea of cardio, unless prepping for a show, less is more. Trade in your daily hour long cardio sessions for three 15 minute HIIT sessions a week. Sprint 15 times on a treadmill for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Take your workout outdoors and do plyometrics at your local track, bleachers or park. Take a boxing class. Keep the intensity up to keep the fat low!
Eliminate food groups.
That seems pretty silly doesn’t it? Yeah, I did that. For 8 weeks prior to my last show I ate nothing but tilapia with maybe 3-5 asparagus spears per meal. It got so horrific, for 2 of those weeks, I blended my tilapia and asparagus and drank it. Not. Kidding. For me personally, this caused major digestion issues for the last 12 months. My body began to find it difficult to digest other foods and meats, and I would immediately feel bloated after eating anything other than chicken, tilapia or egg whites.
There are major risks resulting from eating a protein only diet such as nutritional deficiencies (Vitamin B and Magnesium which increase energy and help your muscles contract during workouts), insufficient fiber causing constipation, lethargy from eliminating energy producing carbohydrates or fats to fuel your body & brain, decreased calcium stores.
Take all the supplements.
Supplements are meant to SUPPLEMENT a diet & workout plan, they are not meant to provide nutrition (in most cases), nor are they meant to be the MAIN products you survive off of. You can’t just cut out all nutritious foods and think you can make it up with every vitamin. You can’t eat junk and make up for it with the worlds strongest fat burner. Supplements will work wonders when they are used correctly. I have said this many times; supplements including vitamins and fat burners work when your cells and organs are functioning optimally. They can only function optimally if the body is healthy. The body is healthy when you are physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
No literally, this NEEDS to be on the list of how NOT to diet. There are so many amazing ways to track your daily progress. You can keep a handwritten book with workouts, calories in, calories out, your weight, etc. You can download an app. You can wear a watch that tracks your caloric expenditure.
You can also, go absolutely insane. Follow me here; if on Monday you burned 1350 calories, but on Tuesday you burned 1120, many of us so concerned with our appearance will feel GUILTY they did not burn as much on Tuesday as they did on Monday. Most will begin to obsess over the numbers, and then small things like eating just 2oz of chicken over your plan or 2-3 more almonds become a cause for guilt, and in extreme cases, can cause an eating disorder. If you eliminate all food groups other than protein, you’ll feel horrible guilt when you eat just a spoon of rice. If you normally do three hours of cardio but you slept in or got sick or had an emergency and could only do two, you will stress out about it.
This isn’t a marathon, this is a long commitment – to be healthy, to be fit, and its OKAY to take a step back and just allow yourself to LIVE.
For about 2 years that I was competing and prepping every holiday I spent in my apartment, alone, with some chicken and black beans. Every birthday I spent at the gym doing back as a gift to myself. I didn’t see family. I didn’t see friends. I missed wedding, birthdays, celebrations and ultimately, I missed out on memories. I pushed absolutely everyone away to achieve my goals.
I thought that was commitment. I thought that was dedication. I was so flipping wrong.
While those you love will understand your commitments, you can’t neglect your life and the living. Find a balance. Set a date night with your honey for once a week, maybe it’s a movie or a carnival, a picnic or bowling, but once a month, set a night where you can share a cheat meal with them, where you can just be yourself. Tell the girls you need to skip drinks on Thursday but you’ll be at their birthday party in 2 weeks. Do everything in moderation but don’t miss out on memories.
DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY IS POSSIBLE
I guess what all this means is, there is a way to diet and achieve the body you want without completely destroying yourself from the inside out. There’s a way to achieve your goals without neglecting everyone in your life. For some people, their goals and their life are mutually exclusive, and as someone who HAS taken it to the extreme, I know this to be untrue. I know there is a balance. I KNOW there is harm in being that restricted, emotionally, mentally and physically. I found my balance but it took me two years. As long as you’re trying, progress will be made.
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