What I Learned on My Fitness Journey #3

Take the long road.

It probably took you many years to put on the weight; it’s not coming off in two weeks!

When I first tried to lose weight, I was trying to look for the magical solution that was easy and didn’t take a lot of time. I wanted to shed the excess pounds NOW! Let me recount the few things I tried:

  • The cabbage soup cleanse diet that I loved ’til I hated the sight of cabbage. Still do.
  • The green tea diet that I stocked up for so well that my pantry overflows with green tea powder to this day.
  • Eating spicy food to burn more calories—sure, there’s a tiny bit of truth to this, but don’t do what I did by taking the liberty to chow down on greasy spicy food under the delusion that I was burning more calories!
  • Low carb diet… haven’t we all heard of this?
  • High protein diet … (same as above), but I had no idea what the heck I was supposed to do for food.
  • The salad diet where the only things I ate were lettuce and tomatoes. I learned that too much fiber can be a bad thing. My system was so plugged up that I felt like a soda can that had been shaken too hard.

Me, at the beginning of my fitness journey.

After many failures and letdowns, it became apparent that my years of ambivalence about my health and fitness had taken a serious toll on my body, which would now translate to a hard climb out. I realized that it ain’t going to be a cakewalk, not if I was aiming to get truly fit and healthy.

Here’s the strait scoop: There’s no magic pill or quick fix. God knows I tried many of those. I had to face the fact that a genuine healthy transformation from the inside out required more than my sporadic involvement with fad diets. The bottom line is that diets don’t work for a number of reasons. First, they are unsustainable. You can limit yourself to 1000 calories per day for maybe a week or two or even more if you have a lot of willpower, but that kind of self-denial cannot be sustained indefinitely. At some point, you’re going to want to eat a regular meal, and when you do, the floodgates will open. In no time at all, you will have regained all the weight you lost, plus some. Not to mention the fact that most of the “weight” you burned off during your starvation binge will be muscle and not fat, which puts you into a worse position. Muscle helps to burn fat, and the less you have of it, the easier it is for you to gain more fat. It’s a vicious cycle that many binge dieters are stuck in.

Research has shown time and time again that your body likes to hang on to fat, especially when it believes that food is scarce (like when you go on a starvation diet). In such situations, your body will burn other tissues such as muscle to fuel itself rather than fat. While your goal is to burn off the fat, the reverse will probably occur. It’s a survival mechanism that has evolved over millions of years. Don’t try to fight your body’s natural impulses.

I know TV shows like “the Biggest Loser” makes it exciting to lose hundreds of pounds of fat over a span of a several months, but this isn’t realistic outside of TV land. The sad part is that most of the contestants later regained the weight they lost after returning to their real lives. The show is fun to watch and can also be inspirational, but extreme regimes will fail EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Ten months later.

That’s why it is better to put yourself on a moderate calorie deficit eating plan. Notice I said “eating plan” and not “diet.” You have to eat, right? Determine how many calories you need each day, and deduct 200-300 from that number. This way, you will still be able to shed the pounds, but your body won’t go into starvation mode and horde fat. You won’t lose fat drastically or dramatically, but ever so slowly you’ll get to the point where you want to be. It took me two years to lose 25 pounds of fat. Seems like a long time, but I was never energy deprived from not eating, or hungry all the time. I was also on a high intensity fitness program and so I had to eat in order to sustain my activities.

The key word is “sustain.” Because I didn’t feel hungry, irritable, and deprived, I was able to continue with my eating and exercise program indefinitely. I’m on it to this day. There’s still a little bit of tummy fat I’d like to see go, but I’m being patient while it gets whittled away. Here’s the silver lining: the more you weigh, the easier it is to lose weight under this system. It takes a lot of calories to maintain obesity, and once these excess calories are out of the scene, the fat will come off easily.

Most of us didn’t get fat overnight. It probably happened over a long period of time, maybe after months or years of neglect. The extra 200-300 calories we ate each day eventually turned into 20-30 pounds or more of extra weight. If you eat just 250 extra calories per day, you’ll gain a pound of fat every two weeks. Multiply those weeks and it’s easy to see how gruesome the math can get. Don’t despair, though, because you can reverse this process. You can lose weight the same way that you gained it, one day at a time.

In summary, create a reasonable eating plan that doesn’t starve you. Stick to your eating plan until it becomes a habit. Adjust it now and then when you’ve lost some weight. Live your life. Exercise! Let time do the work for you. Before you know it, your goals will be within reach.

P.S. It’s not rocket science to figure how many calories you need each day. There is a nifty tool called the Basal Metabolic Rate (“BMR”) Formula.

Female BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Male BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )

P.P.S. If you don’t want to do any number crunching, BeachBody has a great online calculator that takes into account your activity level, gender, age, height, weight, health goals, etc. here. The results will be more accurate because additional factors are considered. If you’re not a BeachBody Club member, you can sign up for a FREE account to use it.

P.P.P.S. BeachBody Club members have access to personalized meal plans created just for them (vegetarians welcomed). The meal plans include everything you need to succeed such as menus, recipes, shopping lists, etc. Become a BeachBody Club member by signing up here.

By the way, I don’t like sharing my “Before” photos, but there are many people who now say that they cannot imagine that I was ever out of shape. Here’s your proof. This was the lowest point of my life, physically. No muscle tone, no core strength. I was struggling to fit into a size 8, trying to conceal my belly. Today, I wear size 0. I’m not saying this to brag, I just want you to understand that with time and hard work you can reach your goals, too. Starting out I never dreamed that I could get this fit, toned, and strong. Incredibly, I am still getting results!

About Jade Nuyen

You know the people who tell you that life goes downhill after 40, or after you've had children? They're full of crap. I prove it to myself every single day that life begins after 40 and you don't have to accept being a frumpy out of shape mom as a lifestyle.
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2 Responses to What I Learned on My Fitness Journey #3

  1. erin says:

    You were always beautiful and never looked fat but that being said…your transformation is incredible; a size 0?! I don’t even think the pictures do you justice and I haven’t seen you in over a year! I can’t imagine how much you have changed since then! Keep it up Jade!!! xoxo

    • Jade Nuyen says:

      Thank you Erin : ). You have always been one of my biggest supporter and I am blessed for that! Yes, it’s amazing how P90X is still delivering results to this day… Now that I’m drinking Shakeology everyday, I feel even more energetic, and my muscles are more toned and chiseled. Wish I knew about it earlier! You will get there too!! I’m behind you all the way! Just stay consistent & persistent!