About the episode:

Today’s show will teach you what we’ve found it takes to make your sustainable transformation, specifically around fat loss, but the lessons apply to solidify any difficult behavior change.

And it’s perfect timing because we just released details about our new 9-month coaching program which is designed to give you the intensive support you need in the initial transformation and maintenance phases, and then reduce the intensity of support as we teach you to take the training wheels off on the back end.

This show is brought to you by us, Beyond Macros, a nutrition coaching company that helps you make a sustainable transformation through realistic habit changes rather than restrictive dieting.

Make sure you are subscribed to the show on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, if you enjoy the show, please leave a rating on iTunes, and if you want to get leaner, stronger, and perform better by learning how to count macros go to beyondmacros.com/worksheet

In This Episode:

[02:34] What it takes to achieve sustainable fat loss.
[03:26] A study that looked at women who dieted down for four months.
[05:40] What happens during the initial transformation period.
[07:18] Why rationalization doesn’t fully address the emotional side of things.
[10:15] One of the most important habits I have found.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome back to the Beyond Macros podcast, we are the Sustainable transformation nutrition coaches, and our show will teach you how to get leaner and perform better in a way that that lasts with shows about nutrition, recovery, and the all important art of inner work.

Today’s show will teach you what we’ve found it takes to make your sustainable transformation, specifically around fat loss, but the lessons apply to solidifying any difficult behavior change. And it’s perfect timing because we just released details about our new 9-month coaching program which is designed to give you the intensive support you need in the initial transformation and maintenance phases, and then reduce the intensity of support as we teach you to take the training wheels off on the back end.

In this new coaching program, you will go through 4-months of our VIP 1-on-1 coaching. This gives you 3-months of support in making your transformation, but the thing is, once the transformation is made that is where we see people fall for the willpower traps and rebound. That’s why you’ll have another month of the intensive VIP coaching to make sure we can help you make maintenance easy. From there, you will transition into our Online Coaching program where you still have heaps of 1-1 support options between detailed monthly food journal reviews with feedback, weekly check ins on our online platform, and weekly office hours. During the next 5-months we can help you try to add muscle or lean out more for up to 3-months before switching gears to teaching you how to take the training wheels off of tracking, trust your eating intuition, and become comfortable making adjustments on your own moving forward.

This new program is only $160/month making it both our most intensive and most affordable program yet. You essentially get one month of free online coaching when you commit to making a sustainable change. We currently have 8 spaces available as of this recording, so if you’d like to book a call with me to learn more and save your spot head over to beyondmacros.com/call

Now for the episode!

What does it take to achieve sustainable fat loss? We have to approach it from multiple angles.

First, we need to understand what happens to your body after fat loss. Second, we need to understand what affects your motivation and emotions after fat loss. Third, we need to understand how your environment shapes your actions.

When you lose fat, your brain sees this as a bad thing even though your mind might love it.

Your fat releases a hormone called leptin which essentially lets the brain know that there is stored energy available, and that it can tell the rest of the body to operate as usual leading to a normal daily energy expenditure and appetite.

When you lose fat, your brain is not hearing it’s friend leptin as loudly, and evidence suggests this means your brain will then tell the body to decrease it’s energy expenditure, and to seek out food via stimulating appetite.

There is a study that looked at women who dieted down for four months to lose a total 12% of their body mass. They lost 35-50% of their total body fat mass and during the dietary phase leptin, T3, Estrogen and Testosterone all dropped significantly.

Within 14-20 weeks of eating maintenance calories with decreased exercise the women’s hormones, except T3 and Testosterone, all returned to baseline.

I bring this up because it shows that the hormones that are depressed after a diet set the stage for potential rapid fat regain. Hence the yo-yo diet effect.

To keep the leptin string going, it will be very difficult to listen to your body’s satiety signals after fat loss until leptin levels have returned to baseline. That is why we find the post-transformation period to be one of the most important times to work closely with a coach! Not only are you biochemically more likely to overeat, but mentally and emotionally you are more likely to over eat as well.

During the initial transformation period, you were motivated by the scale moving down. During maintenance, you no longer have that feedback loop. In fact, with the additional lean mass you are likely to gain after fat loss you have to be comfortable seeing the scale move up.

For most people, seeing the scale move up is deflating. They think “why am I still putting this effort into tracking if the scale is moving up? If the scale is going to move up, I might as well eat what I want”

And I totally get this mentality. But I realize many people who adopt it don’t realize that the small weight gain if they stick to their maintenance calories after fat loss is generally non-fat mass which includes muscle, carbohydrate, and water.

I also realize that this rationalization doesn’t fully address the emotional side of things. And one of the most common things I see emotionally after a fat loss phase is that people felt restricted in some way so they want to treat themselves. But when they do treat themselves, they feel bad. And the crazy thing about this is that feeling bad about your decision to cheat, and beating yourself up actually makes you MORE likely to cheat again. This is an awful feedback loop of cheating and guilting.

A 2007 study surveyed a group of college women to determine how they scored on a scale of restrictive eating and eating guilt. The women were fed a donut and then a bowl of candy was made available to them after watching a video. One group was given messages of self-compassion, and this appeared to reduce the amount of candy they ate vs. the group of guilty or restricted eaters who did not receive these messages.

I’ve seen this in practice, and this is another reason why working with a coach through recovery is so important if you tend to have trash inner talk or tendencies towards self punishment. Your coach can help you wipe the slate clean, shut down the guilt cycle, and help you regain perspective about how much progress you’ve made. Then, you can re-focus, enjoy your indulgence for what it was, and get back on track the next meal.

To take it back to the diet and recovery study, let’s discuss one of the other hormones that didn’t return back to baseline- T3. T3 is the active form of Thyroid hormone that affects your body’s metabolic rate. When it is lower, your energy expenditure via metabolic rate is lower. Therefore, if you overeat after fat loss because you’re struggling to regulate your appetite, there is less wiggle room in terms of the calories you’re expending.

In addition to following your recovery nutrition plan from your coach to help bring your hormones back to baseline, there are some other habits I’ve found are key to maintaining fat loss, even in the face of downregulated T3.

One of the most important habits I have found is to consciously increase your non-exercise energy expenditure and preferably in a way that reduces your stress. Non-exercise energy expenditure goes down subsconsciously after fat loss. I’ve told the story on the show before about my client whose iPhone Health app gave us insight into the potential effect. Before she started her fat loss phase she was walking an average 6-7000 steps per day. By the end of her second month she was wondering why her weight loss had slowed. We looked at her step count and it dropped under 2000 steps per day. That is about as sedentary as you can get.

What we did was identify where she could insert more movement in her day. And I am a HUGE fan of stacking functions. Especially because Too Much To Do is one of the biggest nutrition roadblocks people experience. What we did is, instead of getting more time in the gym, I discovered she talked to her family members or friends on the phone daily. So, we got her to plug in some headphones and take those conversations on a walk! Steps hit over 8000 per day and her rate of fat loss, and eventually her ability to maintain were restored.

The other important thing to recognize is that walking and connecting with her friends and family was a stress reducing activity. Being constantly in a sympathetic state working in a hospital, doing CrossFit, and driving meant she was stressed. Stress hormones can have a negative feedback loop on Thyroid hormone and sex hormones which we see drop in females after a diet. So getting out of a sympathetic nervous system state is quite helpful in this regard as well.

The last MAJOR thing that I see as being key to creating a sustainable transformation is the ability to craft your home, work, and even travel environments to make the right choice the easy choice. I usually recommend clients start out with the space they either spend the most time in, or are most likely to make poor decisions in. Surprisingly, once clients get into a good prep routine and bring their own food to work, the office tends to be the easiest place to stay on point. Home is where the vices are. Especially if your significant other, flat mates, or kids aren’t eating the same way as you.

The best option is to remove any foods that you are prone to over eating from your home environment. If this isn’t fully within your control, have the conversations to see if you can get the rest of your co-habitants on board. If you can’t remove these foods right away without friction, then the next best option is to make it harder for yourself to access those foods and make sure you have the right options prepared and easy to access.

There is some deeper work you can do around engineering your environment for success. One of my favorites is having clients start to keep notes about the triggers and cues in their environment that signal cravings. Sometimes you have associations with a room, like your kitchen, signaling a craving for the easy calories in your pantry. Sometimes it’s a visual object, like a painting of a desert scene signaling cravings in smokers of camel brand cigarettes. People, times of day, and other habits that cravings are anchored to are all other areas you can turn your attention.

You and your coach can use this information in two ways. First, you can use it to help you REMOVE the triggers for unhealthy behaviors, or work to change your association with those triggers. For example, if your default pattern is to walk into the kitchen and go to the pantry...take everything out of your pantry that you could eat right away. You can also take it a step further and put a bunch of prepared, tasty food in your fridge. This will get you used to be let down by the pantry and rewarded by the healthy, conveniently prepared meals in your fridge.

Second, you can use it to create positive “touch stones” in your environment that remind you to stick to the process that will help you reach your goals. Like Scott McGee in last week’s episode. His garage is filled with reminders about his philosophies. He has a samurai sword with Strength is a Choice engraved. All he has to do is look at that sword, and he can recalibrate his mindset.

If you can manage to put the work in to fix what happens to your body biochemically after fat loss by entering a recovery phase, increase your non exercise activity and stress reducing “me time”, fix your inner talk and understand where you’ll be emotionally when entering maintenance, and engineer your environment for success you will sustain your fat loss long term.

Having third party support, like a Beyond Macros coach and a friend, family member, or significant other to support you will make the process even smoother.

And that’s why we’ve created our 9-month Sustainable Transformation Program. They’ll support you in getting leaner over the first 3-months, support you through the process of learning how to maintain over the next 1-2 months, support you through another phase of body composition or performance focused nutrition, and then 100% of the focus goes into supporting you in creating the conditions for effortlessly maintaining your transformation and teaching you how to do this all on your own.

If you’re ready for the last nutrition coach you’ll ever need- head over to beyondmacros.com/call to set up your initial call to learn more. We only have 8-spaces left for coaching, so get on it!

Thanks for listening, and I look forward to seeing you again next week!

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