Hi! I just wanted to say how much of an inspiration you are. You are so real and honest, and it really connects to everyone around you! My first question: I was previously in gymnastics were I accumulated thick/bulky muscle (nothing wrong with being that strong, but I just didn’t like how I felt) I restricted myself to try and loose the muscle and I did, but I began to get sleep deprived, low energy levels, and loss of concentration. I have a history of yo-yo-ing and being restrictive, but now I have learned and am honestly just trying to find a balance. However, I worry that I have ruined my metabolism for good, and that my body won’t be able to have a balance of lean, toned muscle with a healthy diet. I am just looking for some advice and thoughts on this fear of mine. Or some ways to help mend this situation.
Second question, my body has a tendency to gain muscle very fast. With that being said, I have stayed away from lifting weights to try not build up too much muscle. I still love to workout and am wondering what excersices are good for trying to create lean, toned muscle?
Hi! Thank you for your kind words 😀 Definitely a day brightener for me!
First off – well done on deciding to find balance in your diet and life. That is the most important thing, and also the hardest. Through my own experiences in this world I have found that balance doesn’t really exist in the way we expect it to, it’s not a static state, more of a point of reference. We get close and further away from it, but I don’t think we ever really experience it for any extended period of time. Maybe the Buddha. There are plenty of things we can do to get closer (and further) but that is just life. Knowing what those things are is key to maintaining a closer relationship to the experience of balance. And they are usually very personal.
So restricting leads to yo-yoing and takes you way out of balance. Whenever you starve yourself, inevitably you will have some sort of dietary whiplash. It may take a few days or even years, but eventually there will be an after affect in your body. Unfortunately the only way out is through in this circumstance. Denying your body of nutrition means that it isn’t running effectively, and in some cases this can slow your metabolism. But your metabolism isn’t a set rate – it fluctuates depending on body composition, activity level and dietary choices. You once had a metabolism that worked well, and it will happen again. It is time for you to trust your body to tell you what it wants, and to honor those requests. If you are hungry, eat. If you are tired, rest. With time you will find the weight that is right for you, and health will be a simple equation for you.
So I say just be patient. Honor your commitment to balance and eating honestly to your hunger signals. Your body may take a little time to build up its engine again, but it will happen. And when it does it will be based off of your true weight, not a restricted state that is not going to last. I have always found that when I inevitably regain weight after losing a lot, it takes me some time to get back to a good set point. I usually am at a heavier size than normal for at least a couple of months. And this can be tough mentally (especially when trying to model at the same time), but during those times I always worked to commit myself to eating well and getting workouts in. It wasn’t easy, and I still struggle with it. But with consistency comes results. So every day make the choice to eat balanced meals, eat enough, be active, and the rest will follow! Also take up meditation. That helps everything.
Onto muscle. I am a little jealous of your ability to build muscle. Muscle is your best friend in getting the metabolism up and running again – it burns significantly more energy than fat, and life is easier when you are stronger. Strength is sexy, I love seeing so many women these days lifting heavy weights, and becoming so empowered by it. Try to make the decision to love your naturally strong body, and its ease with growing strength. It takes me so long to put on any muscle weight, and unless I work out consistently, it is the first thing to go. There is nothing more humbling than realizing that you don’t have the strength to push yourself up on a surf board because you have been starving yourself.
Anyway – I digress!
I was always under the impression that to gain muscle you have to eat for it. And this usually looks like periods of heavier lifting and higher intake of food and protein. So, by my first year bachelor of nutrition degree (ergo not an expert in this field), I would say avoid this and you will avoid putting on too much muscle. Eat everything, eat healthily, and listen when your body says it is full. Workout wise I would recommend trying a resistance based workout such as pilates, mega reformer or body by simone maybe once or twice a week. I said it before, but the recent upswing of women lifting weights and gaining strength makes me happy. It is extremely empowering to be strong, and none of the friends I know have trouble getting too bulky.. But then again, every single body is unique. Then focus on fun cardio for a few of your other workouts! Try running, boxing, swimming or tennis. Basically anything that gets your heart rate up, and your happiness and a sweat on. And round that out with a bit of yoga here and there (if that’s your thing for stress relief, it isn’t mine…).
If you are living a balanced life, your body will follow. It will take time, especially if you have spent a lot of time putting yourself out of balance. But be patient and easy on yourself, and your health and energy will follow. Don’t deny your body the nutrition it needs to truly thrive, and you will be surprised at where you end up. Also, find exercise that makes you happy and feel good, and you will find it adds to your life in such a nice way.
At the end of the day, your body is your body. I can’t really say what will work for you, simply because I am built differently. It is a journey, and there are no soundbite answers. But once you let go of trying to reduce in size, and start to acknowledge what your body is capable of, your entire view on life shifts. We shouldn’t be at war with our bodies just because society tells us how we should look. Fuck that. We should love and embrace ourselves, and show the world exactly what we are capable of.
Always remember, I dictate my road.
I hope this helps!