People tend to get angry when you tell them that excercise will not make them lose wait. I’d probably get angry too if I spend 3+ hours a day doing zumba and god knows what else to get rid of that ‘belly fat’ and someone dared suggest I may have wasted a lot of time. They will inevitably come up with the calories in- calories out fable to help explain why you’re completely out of your mind making such a claim.
But purely biologically speaking it’s true, supported by evidence too, which always holds a lot of weight in verbal discussions! (uhu) There are plenty of people doing a good job explaining the truth of it, like Gary Taubes with sciency stuff and Robb Wolf with a bit more anecdotal evidence. I’m very glad I don’t feel the least bit inclined to do the same, after all, the audience I have in mind for this blog is people who already have or will read that stuff on somebody’s elses site. The people already living Paleo (or trying to, or thinking about it) and quite familiar with its theories.
So if you’re one of those people, perhaps especially if you’re someone trying or struggling or dabbling, then I’d love to tell you why excercise DOES help you lose weight. It has absolutely nothing to do with science or biology. No, it’s all about headology! (Or psychology if you haven’t read any Terry Pratchett books.)
Thing is, the subject of weight loss (or maintaining weight) is usually accompanied by a big collection of bad feelings. Shame, fear, doubt, anxiety... Especially for those who have struggled with their weight for some time. And these are not exactly very motivating emotions. Quite the opposite. In fact, these things can cause (or reinforce) eating disordered behaviour. Which will in turn generate more negative emotions. And down the spiral goes...
In short: weight loss can be too emotionally difficult to keep you consistently motivated about your clean eating aspirations.
Another reason it is hard to be consistently motivated about weight loss is the long-termness of it. If you weigh in every week it’s easy to argue with yourself about how much that one cookie is going to hurt your goals. Don’t know about anyone else but I can pretty easily convince myself that a cookie won’t matter so much on the grand scale of things. And it probably won’t, but that’s hardly convenient when you’re trying to motivate yourself into eating cleanly.
Now let’s look at excercise. We’ll take crossfit for example and we’ll work with a bit of anecdotal ‘evidence’. Subject: my boyfriend. (From now on we’ll call him by his name, Jaap, because typing ‘bf’ makes me feel 16 years old.)
Even though Jaap is far less messed up than I am when it comes to eating, it still isn’t all that easy for him to eat clean all or most of the time. It’s that dratfull motivation thing that keeps slipping away at the worst times. Perhaps especially because he doesn’t need to lose any weight, just maintain where he’s at. Makes it even easier to convince yourself some of this or that won’t matter so much.
Just slipping this in between: Some of you will now be thinking ‘but what about your health? Longevity etc?’. While this matters a whole lot, and it’s nice to get rid of some pesky health problems (hayfever!) this is a way too long-term kind of goal to powerfully motivate a generally healthy person in his or her early twenties.
Jaap started to visit our brand new and shiny local crossfit gym in january and caught a bit of a fever. He’s competetive alright. Then I noticed his diet cleaning up. He’d tell tales of steely self-control when visiting his mother whose fridge he always plundered. He was consistently packing his ‘paleo’ lunch. Our eggs were dissapearing at a phenomal rate! And last friday instead of drinking plenty of beers at the pub with his mate, he convinced him to go to crossfit with him the next morning. (His friend lived to regret agreeing for the next 3 painfull days.)
After observing this for a while in increasing confusion, Jaap explained that it was all about his recovery. He wanted to perform better at the next workout! Did I mention he’s very competetive?
Excercise gives you a powerfull short-term motivation to eat clean. You can quite easily convince yourself that every bite of non-paleo food WILL affect your recovery and performance.
And best of all, this scenario brings a whole array of positive emotions. Excercise makes you feel proud of yourself, it makes you feel good. When you’re eating a paleo meal to help your recovery before your next kick-ass workout you’ll feel proud and perhaps excited.
A good change for those who feel all these conflicting emotions of shame and determination while eating for weight loss.
So get yourself some short-term goals for steely self-control!
Disclaimer: The picture is meant to poke fun, I'm really not saying anyone should do Zumba. It's hard to imagine wanting to do better at your next Zumba class anyway :|
Tonight I'm going out for dinner. Because I've been doing quite well on the nutrition front recently, I want to get through the evening without spoiling that. So I went looking for tips and ended up at "The primal blueprint guide to eating out". It didn't look very promising, with tip nr 3 being "Don't eat". Hell no, I eat out perhaps once every two months so I'm damn well going to enjoy it! Besides, the whole point of this diet is too improve quality of life- quality kinda goes down if you have to sit there like a freak watching everyone else eat.
Tip nr 5 was to make special requests, claim allergies if need be- anything to get some primal food! But I know myself, I'd be fussing and worrying the whole time, unable to let it go and enjoy the night. Plus I'd spent the next couple hours dreading to face the waiter with all my requests.
I truly wish I could just forget about paleo for tonight, but that won't do either. I'd feel like a glutton, secretly feeling sad and guilty inside. Fretting over whether I'm really so lacking of any willpower, 'why oh why' etc. Not exactly a recipe for enjoying a night out. I'd also constantly be worrying about the physical consequences in store for me tomorrow..
So what's a girl to do? A good compromise seems the only option. I came up with a list of priorities, things most important for my mental and physical health. Keeping these 5 points in mind should get me through the night without all the fussing and worrying.
1. Avoid gluten
There are more things lining up to destroy our guts, but gluten seems to be the worst offender. Hopefully by avoiding them I'll be better able to handle some ice cream for dessert. Besides, gluten seem to make my stomach swell to twice it's original size, which doesn't make me feel especially sexy or comfortable...
So it's an old and often mentioned tip- but do send back that bread basket.
2. Get some protein and veggies
The protein shouldn't be a problem- even if I weren't thinking of my health I'd still want a nice piece of fish or a big ass steak. They don't seem to serve a lot of vegetables these days though, so I'm planning to order a salad on the side. Veggies will serve to fill me up and help me be moderate with other less desirable things. I'm also plenty indoctrinated with the 'veggies are good for you!' idea.
3. No soda
I think cola is nasty, but some ice tea or fresh orange juice is very tempting. However, since we'll be drinking plenty throughout the night I'll stick to 1 or 2 glasses of wine, water and tea. This will give me a good feeling mentally, since I'll be doing something right.
4. Portion control
I really, really like potatoes. So even though they're not paleo, I'll have some of those. But they tend to give you a whole lot of them. I'm not really good with portion control to be very honest, so I'll ask the others to keep the extra's away from me. They know about my eating habits so they'll understand.
Dessert is always very enjoyable, but rarely paleo. As I said at the beginning of this post, for me paleo is about improving quality of life. For me that also means enjoying some vices that are not necessarily very sensible. During my lifetime I'd like to at least taste pretty much every kind of food in the world. So the master plan is to really enjoy it, and take a bite from everyone else's dessert too!
Even though my enthusiasm for fitness is still present, I haven't been diligently working on it. Sadly I have to report that I can't even do 10 push-ups anymore. My boyfriend on the other hand is more seriously working on this, so I've been making workouts for him. Because he does these workouts inside our tiny apartment it consists of prison style bodyweight exercises. I've even made him do pull-ups hanging by his fingertips from a doorframe!
Fortunately the fingertip hanging days are now over. We decided to get some equipment for our 'home gym'. As you can see in the picture, our first item is a doorbar for pull-ups. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it did not smash right through the door window and it didnt reduce the door to splinters either! As an added bonus you can make your sit ups easier with this thing and it's possible to do some sort of dips.
Incase anyone from the Netherlands is reading this; it was only 35 euros and we bought it from the tellsell website. Yes, I am a wee bit ashamed of that. I've watched tellsell commercials in moments of extreme boredom wondering whether people actually pick up the phone when the 'Order now and you'll get...' message come up, so it's a bit surprising to find myself one of their customers! But I'm glad I am.
If only I could actually do full pull-ups myself...