The 5 Steps to Reverse Dieting
I showed this picture today to someone and they asked, “Are you pushing your stomach out”? I just looked at her with a “Why the hell would I do that?” kind of face. In reality, this photo is not even when I hit my “worse” this past winter that is a photo that even I am embarrassed to share.
Like everything, I tend to learn things by experience, aka: “The Hard Way”. I knew that after dieting from January to September I was going to be facing a serious “Bounce”. I use that word because it describes exactly what happens. My body blows up when exposed to things has not had in a long time.
Mentally, I cannot control the months of deprivation I have faced.
Physically, I cannot process any of the foods that “normal” people eat.
This creates the perfect storm.
Internally, my body is no longer creating enzymes to break down foods. My pancreases becomes irritated when hit with “real” foods. My stomach starts to hurt and the bloating is significant. However, my brain is no longer receiving signals that I am full because it has been in a starvation mode for so long. I have not had the taste of so many flavors and textures. Foods are going in but my body cannot break them down.
Now add in that fact that I have been eating 6-7 small meals and doing cardio twice a day, for most weeks. This caused my thyroid to slow down. The high caloric deficit is nothing to keep it “running”.
The point of this blog is not to bitch about what I did but to possibly inform someone on how to avoid this happen to them. Looking back, I was missing one fundamental key to avoiding this “bounce”:
A Reverse Diet
I am probably not going to be able to stress how important it is for someone to slowly re-introduce various foods and portion sizes, back into their body, S L O W L Y. This doesn’t only apply to those preparing for some sort of event which required strict dieting, but also to those who decided to start a diet in order to pull off those extra pounds. The “yo yo” effect is something that most people have experienced:
Most coaches can get you stage ready with a typical competitor diet. Great! You are set to compete that day! You look your best and may even get a great placing. What do you do next? Eat like a King or Queen, party with your friends and family, stuff junk food in your mouth, all because you can? I mean, you are lean as hell now, eat it all! Yep, that is what most of us do. I will be the first to admit that half of the things that I eat after a show I would have never wanted before! However, it is the days that follow that become the real challenge. Day 3, regular life starts again, now what?
This is where you NEED to ensure that the coach you are working with has a diet prepared to keep you healthy, after the show! You are already fit, now you need to learn how to make this a normal lifestyle. Your body needs to learn how to digest and process food again. You need to learn how to socialize again without binge eating or drinking.
My 5 Steps to Reverse Dieting:
- Introduce foods back slowly so your body can learn to process them again. Do not walk into a restaurant and eat like the people next to you. Remember what you have been feeding your body for the last 3, 6, 9 months. The people around you want YOUR body, you do not want theirs!
- If you are going to over-indulge, control the urge to continue that pattern. Try to control the need to eat to the point you want to throw up. Remember your brain is not receiving those signals that you are full. If you are going to stuff yourself after your show, that is fine, however it is when you continue this pattern that your body will blow up!
- Focus on the things that you missed outside of the kitchen! Go spend time with your family and friends. Go to that amusement park, fair or parade. Get that dessert that your child has been begging you for. Get out of the kitchen!
- Do not just stop working out now that your show is completed. Work with your coach to determine what your tapper program should look like. The intensity and duration will change, the need to do cardio still may not.
- Keep drinking your water! Remember the amount you were drinking the weeks leading into your show? Well, that was not just because you were competing, it is healthy! You need water now more than ever to help flush out those new foods!
Please take the time to ensure that whomever is writing your prep plan is experienced and prepared to reverse diet you after the show. Looking back, there are many things that I could have done differently, however the main thing is to ensure that there is a safety net on the other side waiting to catch me….
Because we all fall down.