Struggling To Lose Weight?
It is 6 am, and I am finally in a peaceful, deep sleep until my obnoxious, loud alarm sounds off, "Ba-Ding, Ba-Ding, Ba-Ding!" The loud noise startles me and sends my heart racing. I struggle to find my phone, but eventually, I see it and dismiss the alarm. I stare at my ceiling and lay on my bed waiting for an external force to roll me out.
There is only silence, but there is always chatter in my head. The chatter rarely stops, it continually lectures me, telling me that I need to get to bed earlier. Which is right, I do need more sleep, but I just can't find the discipline to hold myself accountable. After staring at the ceiling, wishing I could stay in bed for another hour, I finally motivate myself to roll out of bed and head towards the kitchen for my coffee. I stare at the Keurig and wait for the liquid motivation to fill my body.
Quick Note For The Nerds: Coffee doesn't give you more energy. Our bodies all require power to move, and this energy is known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Throughout the day this gets broken down and eventually ends up in the brain as adenosine. When there is too much adenosine in the brain, it signals to the brain that is time to go to bed and recover. However, when you drink coffee, it latches onto these adenosine receptors and doesn't allow them to enter the brain until the caffeine wears off. When the caffeine wears off, the adenosine molecules enter the mind and cause you to feel lethargic. So coffee makes you feel awake by not allowing your brain to know how tired you are i.e. throwing dirty clothes in the closet so no one can see them. (1)
As the coffee is getting made I head to the bathroom and jump in the hot shower. I finish up in the bathroom and head back to the kitchen to grab my coffee. The smell of the coffee fills the air and puts a smile on my face. But instead of drinking the coffee black and reaping its antioxidant effect, I fill it with sugar to mask the bitterness. I drive to work and walk into the building. I feel like the king of the world I have plenty of energy, and I am ready to take on any obstacle that presents itself.
But after a couple of hours of work, I begin to feel lethargic. My coffee and sugar high have worn off. So I head to the break room to grab another coffee. The sugary coffee hits me instantly, skyrocketing my energy levels. My eyes widen, and I feel alive again. The feeling of sluggish no longer exists, and once again I am the king of the world. For the next couple hours, I get a ton of work done but feel my energy tanking. I look at my watch, and it reads 12:05 pm.
I grab my wallet and head to the closest shop to order your typical American lunch, a sandwich with a bag of chips and a Coke. I mean the commercials are right, everything does taste better with a can of Coke. I order my favorite sandwich, a turkey BLT, with avocado on a toasted roll with a bag of salty chips and a cold soda to wash it down. The meal is absolutely heaven. When the sandwich arrives, I consume it in minutes. The meal leaves me full to the brim, a little too full actually. I have fallen into a carbohydrate coma and don't know how to get myself out of it. So I do what most people do, I turn to coffee. I head to the nearest Starbucks and order a large latte. The cream hits my lips and lifts my mouth into a smile. I head back to work and continue to work for the next couple hours before crashing again.
Quick Note For The Nerds: When you eat a meal that is loaded with carbohydrates and low in fiber (i.e., bread, processed foods, sodas) it will spike your insulin quickly. When insulin spikes it will transfer the glucose (sugar) from your blood into the cells causing you to crave more glucose. It happens much slower in a nutrient dense meal (i.e., vegetables, fruit, whole grains) because the fiber and nutrients help slow down the absorption. The fiber will blunt the insulin response allowing you to feel fuller longer.
I stare at my computer screen and feel my body morphing into the chair. I rarely stand or get up for the next couple of hours. There is too much work to be done to waste it walking around. But then again, I do need another coffee, and I only have one hour left, so it will be the perfect pick me up to get me through my commute. I arrive home from work and head to the kitchen to prepare a meal. My brain is too tired to think, but my stomach growls. I take out my phone and order takeout. The food finally arrives around 8 pm.
I scoff it down as I watch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones. I finish the meal, but I am not quite satisfied yet. I lick my lips and think, the cookies and cream ice cream does sound delicious. I head to the freezer, and take it out. I stare at the container of Ben and Jerry's. I pop off the lid, grab a spoon and run back to the couch to finish the episode. The episode comes to an end, and so does the ice cream. I stare at the empty container with disgust. You did it again; you said you were only going to have a little and you couldn't control yourself. Have you seen yourself lately? You need to be eating less, not more! I get up from the couch and throw out the container. I head to the bathroom to get ready for bed. As I brush my teeth, my mind stirs another conversation...
I wish I could quiet the chatter, but I can't, it always wins. I feel like a slave to my mind, I never know when it will be a good day or a bad day. I know I need to lose weight, but work is too stressful, and by the end of the day, I have no way to say no to delicious food; they are the one thing that makes me feel good about myself.
I stare at myself in the mirror. I continue to stare, hoping for an answer, and finally out of nowhere comes an unfamiliar voice:
You can do this; you are more than capable. You need to create a plan and develop some goals. Start small and work on one thing at a time. You can't wait any longer. You have to start now. Your life depends on it. So I need you to stop feeling sorry for yourself and make some changes. Change can only occur with action, and no amount of positive talk will get you there, so go to bed and get started.
The voice quiets, and with a renewed motivation, I pull out my phone and set the alarm for tomorrow "5:30 am to 6:00 am Workout".
I understand that this may not be your typical day, but it is pretty accurate for most people who work 40 to 60 hours per week. I have been training clients for six years, and I have seen these behavior patterns over and over again. The majority of people overeat and sleep too little. If this day does resemble yours, then we have some problems that we need to fix. In next weeks blog post, I am going to show you how to fix those problems.