Ask a Health Coach: Consistency, Control, and Chronic Cardio
Hi Guys! In this week’s Ask a Health Coach, Erin is back to answer your questions about the pros and cons of consistent eating habits, how to avoid chronic gym hyperbole and stay motivated when everyone around you is addicted to a sad lifestyle. Do you have any questions for Erin? Post them in the comments section below or above on the Marks Daily Apple Facebook group.
“I read somewhere that the best way to lose fat is to eat the same foods at the same time every day. You know, for consistency. Can you tell me when you recommend eating for the fastest results? “
Instead of telling you the best time to eat, I’ll share a little secret with you. The key to fat loss isn’t eating the same thing day in and day out – or eating it at the same time. Your body doesn’t count what you ate and when you ate it. And it’s certainly not built to stick to a rigid schedule that goes against everything our bodies and brains are designed to do.
Yes, your body thrives on inconsistency
Life is completely inconsistent by nature and training your body to adhere to a strict eating plan is the quickest way to fail as life always gets in the way. Always. There will always be curve balls: waking up late to prepare a filling high protein breakfast, forgetting to go shopping, one day enjoying a much-needed vacation with free flowing margaritas that in no way, shape, or shape fit your daily macros.
In an inherently inconsistent world, hanging your hat on persistence can produce results, but you deserve better than being obsessed with food, sticking to a strict eating window and constantly trying to force the situation .
Listen, the body is very adaptable – it thrives on inconsistencies. As the body gets used to a certain way, it begins to hold on to its efforts (that is, to halt progress). You have probably seen this in the fitness world. Exercise your body the same way day in and day out, and after a while your strength will plateau. For this reason, personal trainers recommend changing the frequency, intensity, and type of activity from time to time so that you can better adapt (and continue to destroy) new variables. The same goes for food.
Ever heard of metabolic adaptation?
Sure, your body will adjust at the beginning of a hyper-restrictive eating plan, but then it won’t change again until you change the variable. When it comes to cutting down on calories for fat loss, the body adapts to the consistently reduced number of calories being given off. It gets used to what you give it! The problem is, you have to go deeper and deeper until it is impossible to lower your calories any further. You won’t win this one, trust me – your body will keep adjusting.
This response is known as metabolic adaptation. And it’s a good thing. While it works to save more energy when there is a deficit, it also works to burn more energy when there is an excess. Do you have high calorie and low calorie days? A couple of glasses of wine here, a couple of chocolate chip cookies there? Your body can completely handle what you give it. The body is not wired for smooth, expected fuel delivery. It’s designed to roll with inherent, inevitable inconsistency. And I’d argue that you’d be much better off learning to love that about it.
“Recently I was wondering why I work so hard on my health with so many people
a sad diet and sedentary lifestyle have surrendered around me. What can i do to stay
motivated when everyone else doesn’t seem to care? “
First of all, I welcome you for giving these thoughts the attention they deserve. I know from experience that it is difficult to be the only one who seems to care about your health. And the fact that you are consciously chewing on that thought means that you are taking care of yourself and the outcome. While there is tons of data on how eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) foods and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, just as many people drop onto their couches and lower their daily dose refined grains, overprocessed snacks and sugary drinks.
The only person you can control is you
Here’s the deal, but you cannot control other people or their actions. However, you can decide that your health and happiness are well worth the effort to keep working on yourself. You can decide that you prefer not to take a conscious role in increasing your chance of developing a chronic illness. You can decide that obesity doesn’t have to be in your future regardless of what your inner circle does or doesn’t.
What motivates you
Understanding your motivation to change will make all the difference. Sure, avoiding medication and going to the doctor play a huge role, but really think about why your health is important to you. That is why your actions are the driving force and are likely to be influenced by a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. This means that either something internal (when you eat fresh vegetables makes you feel more energetic) or something external (you like the way) motivates you to fit your pants when you’ve eaten supportively.
Your personal and important internal motivations are what you really want to anchor yourself to. This will be your strongest why. It’s really important to find your own profound reason for staying committed to the path you’re on – and letting the naysayers work out their own.
“Now that my gym is open again, I enjoy taking the hour-long spin classes they offer, but I have noticed that my heart rate is getting very high. It’s definitely not a slow and steady cardio like Mark recommends in the Primal Blueprint, and it’s too long to qualify as a sprint. When or how do I fit these workouts into an original lifestyle? “
If we were to sit face to face on a Zoom call, I would have so many more questions for you. But since we are having rather one-sided discussions today, I will do my best to answer. In short, I would say that the best way to incorporate these workouts depends on your goal. If your goal is to have fun and your spin class is the funnest hour of the day, I say go for it. That said, if your goal is to lose fat or improve your fitness, I would take a closer look at why you are engaging in this chronic cardio, especially if you have a clue that it is not in your best interests. For reference, some of the Primal Blueprint’s top fitness takeaways include:
- Move slowly
- Lifting heavy things
- Sprint now and then
Obviously, 60 minutes of moderate to high heart rate doesn’t check any of these boxes. Instead, it puts you in that black hole of intensity that isn’t easy enough to be easy or tough enough to be tough.
Exercise is not a form of punishment
The diet culture tells us to use exercise as a punishment or compensation rather than pleasure. And unfortunately, a lot of money is spent on marketing to make you feel bad about not fitting into a certain shape. That is why it is so important to make it clear why you are so committed to this class. As I said above, if you love the social aspect, the music, leaving the house, whatever, that’s a good thing. If you’re using it to manage or avoid emotions, if you’re obsessed with the calorie-burning feature, or if you’re using it to make sure you’ve “worked off” last night’s dessert, I’d go a little deeper walk.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let’s go.
About the author
Erin Power is the coaching and curriculum director of the Primal Health Coach Institute. She also helps her clients reestablish a loving and trusting relationship with their bodies – while restoring their metabolic health so they can lose fat and gain energy – through her own private health coaching practice, eat.simple.
If you are passionate about health and wellness and want to help people like Erin for their clients every day, you should consider becoming a certified health coach yourself. In this special information session hosted by PHCI Co-Founder Mark Sisson, you will learn the three simple steps to building a successful health coaching business in a maximum of 6 months.
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