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January 30, 2014

Help! I’m Counting Calories and I Can’t Stop!

Enjoy this great guest blog from Maryalice! Ox, Jill 

Hey! I am thrilled to be here to talk about health & fitness…it really fires me up in a good way of course :) But something that gets my goat (Baaaaa!) is the endless noise out there in the world:

  • “Do this if you want to lose weight.”
  • “Take this pill for quick and amazing results.”
  • “This diet will have you looking 20lbs lighter in 2 weeks.”

The infomercials are endless, the magazines are riddled with information, and every week the news reports on the latest and greatest diet trend.

I learned the hard way; all this noise is simply that—noise—and having fallen victim to a lot of it myself, I realize it caused more harm then good. It wasn’t until I shut the noise out and started listening to my own body that I discovered my true optimal health.

So, let’s break down the 5 mistakes I made that may also be affecting your healthy & fitness journey:

1) Counting every single calorie doesn’t work.

How do I know that?

From 2005-2010 I was a calorie counting junky, it was a full-time job…LOL!  I have endless spreadsheets of every bite of food I ate for 5 years.

Why doesn’t it work?

Because calories don’t tell the whole picture. We need to look at things like hormones, hunger, energy, and cravings, and our mindset. What we eat and how often we eat matters more then total caloric value.

For me, counting calories created a negative mindset causing me to judge myself as good or bad depending on the amount of calories I ate. The numbers became an obsession and caused more unhealthiness, that was not the goal. I learned that listening to the needs of my body mattered more.

2) Calories do matter, but hormones matter more.

I learned a hard lesson with calorie counting…Damn, let’s just call it what it is ~CALORIE RESTRICTING!

FYI PEOPLE, you can’t calorie restrict and run marathons! I ran the Boston marathon in 2008 and ended up hitting a physical brick wall, which led to a 4-year battle with my body. I had pushed my hormones to their limit and the inevitable outcome ~ Adrenal fatigue and Hypothyroidism :(

We need to understand that our bodies have an intricately designed system of hormones that send messages all day long to our liver, thyroid, pituitary, adrenal glands and more. The things we eat, how we exercise, our level of stress, and the quality of our sleep, dictate these messages.

Two major game players are insulin and cortisol. When we have high levels of stress, cortisol spikes, insulin is released to bring cortisol back down. If this ebb and flow is pushed too far and used in excess, then this is where we can gain fat, experience fatigue, ravenous hunger, and insatiable cravings. I was clearly pushing cortisol and insulin so far, day in and day out, that my body push back and literally shut down.

So, yes what we eat in a day matters, but what I want you to understand is they matter because of the messages they send to our hormones and in turn our body. I learned to use food (calories) to send a clear message of balance; there is no caloric total number that can define this. Lots of lean protein, veggies, and water and timed carbohydrates is what I discovered worked best for me.

3) 2+ hours of exercise is not so cool after all.

I spent hours in the gym lifting, running, rowing, biking and so on. That Stepmill saw me coming and it got scared…Ha! I had no idea I was doing more harm then good.

Over time, I learned that quality workouts that were short and intense are optimal for fat loss.

This kind of exercise stimulates stress hormones adrenaline & noradrenaline (catecholamines) and cortisol IN THE COMPANY OF testosterone and HGH, creating the perfect hormonal concoction for fat loss and muscle gain. Using a mixture of weights and cardio to drive the heart rate UP and then rest to bring it back down allowing the body to generate breathlessness, burning, heat, and heaviness is optimal. Not only do you get the benefits while you workout but, you generate an afterburn that allows you to burn fat for hours.

Add a slow restorative walk post workout and BAM you have yourself a fat burning phenomenon. I ilke to think of leisure walking after a short, intense workout kind of like a snow globe. When you shake it all that pretty glitter moves and sparkles. Same with fat–well it doesn’t sparkle :)–but when we exercise in this way, we generate fat flow from the muscle to the blood. Now if you were to place that snow globe down that glitter would just redeposit to the bottom. If you were to get a killer workout and then just stop you would continue to burn but if you were to keep moving in a slow restorative fashion you would burn even more and avoid fat from re-depositing.

Additionally, you get the added bonus of stress reduction, as restorative walking helps to balance hormones like cortisol. Today, my workouts focus on quality to achieve hormonal balance.

4) Sleep and stress have no calories but they have a huge impact on our hormones, and therefore, our results.

In the throws of my adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism, I began to work with the awesome Dr. Jade Teta, a naturopathic physician out of North Carolina and of course Jill’s husband :)

What he taught me about my body was amazing. I felt so awesome and I wanted other people to feel this, to make these connections about their hormones and how their body functions. So I took to the books and learned everything he had to teach…everything. I was in the classroom of Dr. Jade from Sept 2012-January 2013 becoming a Level 3 Hormonal Nutrition Coach and ME personal trainer.

I loved every minute because I learned things like sleep and stress do have an impact on my weight. Really? YES!! Sleep and stress may not have a caloric value, but think about when you’re tired or stressed, it’s agitating, right? Well, your insides are agitated too so therefore the hormonal message is ‘increase cortisol’ due to stress and we are now faced with hormonal imbalance. This leads to fat gain, water retention, and that bloated feeling. Cravings can spike as well as hunger, so the impact on this is multifaceted.

Today I focus on managing my stress and getting quality sleep. Naps even go down in my world today, who would have thought!? Leisure walking and prayer and meditation all help me manage stress.

5) “Healthy” is not necessarily my healthy.

As an avid health magazine reader, this was very enlightening. If “they” said cottage cheese was healthy, then I was going to eat cottage cheese. If “they” said I should go jogging for stress relief, I was going to do that.

What I found, through an intricate process of balancing my nutrition, is not everything that is deemed “HEALTHY” is really healthy FOR ME. I learned that cutting certain things out–like cottage cheese–FOR ME, was actually beneficial to my health. I learned I didn’t need nearly the amount of carbohydrates I was getting.

I also learned my healthy was not all about food. I needed to tap into my spiritual side through prayer and meditation. A daily practice of just being still does wonders for me, and believe it or not, my waistline and my mindset. The things we say to ourselves, the words we use to define who we are or how we look are powerful. I learned that healthy meant I needed to be self-compassionate, accepting, and grateful for who I was inside and out.

Today in order to live my best life ~ my true optimal health, I tap into my physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. This is where I find my balance my “healthy”!

So here’s the bottom line, turn off the noise.

All those infomercials, magazines, diets, and talk shows…they do not hold the answer to your true health.

Everything you need to know is right within. “Healthy” is only healthy if it works for you. Stop following a plan and start listening to your body. You will be amazed at all it will reveal! For some that may sound too “woo-woo,” but I can tell you, our bodies are amazing and if we give them what they need, they will give back to us and you will radiate health, strength, confidence, joy, balance…your true optimal health. The only requirement is that you take the time to figure out what works best for you and along the way, be patient and gentle with yourself.

Although I made some mistakes along the way, they have been my greatest lessons learned. These mistakes have created opportunities and have led me to my life’s purpose of guiding and coaching others to achieve their optimal health.  It is one of my greatest joys to help people through the process of discovering their best health from the InsideOut!

Xo, Maryalice

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