What to expect when you stop losing weight

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I ended my cut recently and it went well. I definitely look and feel faster, slimmer, and my energy levels are back up. I did it all by myself this time, calculated my own macros, and let myself be flexible. 

I was able to tailor my diet and macros towards things I liked to eat and never really felt deprived. A lot of anti-diet advocates focus on the depravity of diets and how you have to postpone all your favorite foods, but in reality as long as you account for them it’s not like you have to lock away all your favorite foods.

Discerning your priorities when it comes to nutrition is what makes a cut really difficult.

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So when you have to choose between 150 calories worth of tortilla chips, vs a big yummy sweet potato, you can opt for the tortilla chips when you’re really feeling it. It’s not moralizing the choice (that tortilla chips are “bad” and you should choose the “good” sweet potato) but rather knowing that when you’re cutting calories, and need to keep your nutrient profile relatively healthy, sometimes you do need to choose the sweet potato.

Of course, you can fill in the blank with whichever foods you prefer, I just chose sweet potato because I found it to be the most recent and relevant example to me. This comes in to play for all kinds of foods, and all kinds of choices.

There are other things I really didn’t expect when I ended my cut, which meant about a month/two weeks each of adding back in some calories bit by bit so my metabolism had time to keep up. I used Renaissance Periodization’s maintenance article to guide me as well as my own hunger cues.

Maintenance is the period of time after you lose weight- you either stay at the weight you’re at, or you give your body a break between cuts to adjust to the new size. So I’ve been upping my calories slowly these past few weeks.

Things I didn’t expect:

The mentality

Going from eating a smaller amount of food to a little bit bigger amounts every two weeks took some getting used to. As I entered my food into MyFitnessPal, all I could think of was “really? All this? And I’m still not at my goal yet?”

It was weird adding an extra serving of tofu, or beans, or whatever else it might be in order to reach a higher calorie goal.

There was a bit of guilt, too, since I advocate for a mixture of intuitive eating and watching what you eat, I felt uncomfortable talking openly about my cut. But as my friend, who’s undergoing her own IE journey, and some fellow RDs (Nutritionist Sam, doctormeetsdietitian) remind me, everyone works best doing their own damn thing.

You can be against the shame, black and white thinking, and sizeism that the diet industry pushes out every day while still personally knowing you need to log food to make sure you’re getting what you need.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but with my ADHD, if I don’t log and watch my food, I’ll be eating those dopamine-hitting foods all day err day. Chocolate, chips, (vegan) cheese, you name it, if my brain gets an extra dopamine hit from it it’ll be there.

It’s not depriving myself of the joy of food; it’s knowing my limits. Which is part of what makes IE make sense to me.

Blooooaaaatiiiing

I already have IBS, so bloating is not a stranger in my life. But wow, adding more food makes you more bloated at the end of the day and feel just a /bit/ more full.

One of those things that I logically knew but then when I experienced it, I just went “oh, well, that’s a thing”.

Energy!!!!!

When I first felt sluggish adding in more food, that slowly gave way to more energy when I lifted and better lifting sessions. I timed it well (on accident, as most things in my life) that my cut ended just in time for my program to get heavier.

I also have had to go for easier cardio now that my energy needs to go towards big lifts, which is another weird feeling. I love a hard cardio session at the end of the week, so gliding away on the elliptical is an experience I haven’t had since my early college days.

Finishing a weight cut and moving to maintenance is, like weight loss itself, a process.

It deals a lot with listening to your body, paying attention to how you feel after you eat, and changing your routine just enough that your body can get used to the new weight.

We’ve got a ways to go yet (I probably won’t cut during the summer and jury’s still out if it’d be worth cutting during my internship), but I’m pleased with how I’m doing so far.

I’ll talk more about body image in another post but for now, don’t forget to do your homework, eat a vegetable, and smile at someone today.

See you soon!

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Should my teen lose weight?

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No.

Phew! What a post. That’s all from me. See you guys next week for more funny anecdotes, stock photos, and hard-hitting research!

Seriously?

…Alright, there’s more to the story than just a ‘no’.

Diet culture is so invasive that we see messages everywhere about how to slim down, tone up, and look great while ignoring health and what it feels like to be as healthy as possible.

This media trick isn’t missed by your teens. According to this article, ½ of teen girls and ¼ of boys have tried to alter their body shape through dieting. You’ll notice that this article mentions that most of the girls who try to diet are already at a healthy weight.

What if my teen is overweight?

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In adolescence, your teen going through a massive developmental period that rivals when they were infants. It’s important to make sure your teen is getting the nutrients they need for a healthy puberty rather than focusing on their size.

Rather than worrying about their weight, I want to shift the focus to their habits and health instead. This is where my slogan, “putting health back in the spotlight”, comes into play. By encouraging healthy habits in adolescence, your child is more likely to have a healthy puberty and healthy adulthood.

Why shouldn’t they lose weight?

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In Dianne Neumark-Sztainer’s book, “I’m, like, SO fat!” she chronicles two long term studies regarding teens who diet: most of them gain it back, and were more likely to binge in adulthood. Meaning that in the end, these dieters gained weight rather than lost it.

That weight might be used for growth spurts later. If your child was designated female at birth, the weight gain from puberty is also seen as normal. In Sandra Susan Friedman’s book When Girls Feel Fat, Friedman touches on the fact that weight gain is normal. It’s just the pressure of society that stresses children out when their body gains weight to use for puberty.

What can cause a change in appetite in my teen?

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Lots of things! While it could be emotional eating (more on this in a second), it’s more than likely your teen is having a growth spurt.

This awesome blog by Jill Castle, RD explains how to spot a growth spurt. Notice how she mentions a huge uptick in your teens appetite.

My teen isn’t eating well. I don’t want them to develop unhealthy habits. Should I talk to them?

When it comes to your teen’s health, there are lots of ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle for your child.

Talking to them is a slippery slope, as they’re already at an age where they’re becoming more body conscious (both due to puberty and starting to take note of the sex they’re attracted to/an interest in dating), but there are ways you can talk to your teen about their health in a way that doesn’t make them feel self-conscious about their size.

If your teen is the one to bring up their size and mentions dieting, Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer recommends these tips (these tips and more can be seen in “I’m, like, SO Fat!”)

  • Figure out the reason your teen wants to diet. Go beyond the size and see what’s bothering them
  • Talk to your teen about what a diet means. Do they mean cutting back on fast food? Meat? Helping identify what that means to them helps you make sure they’re still getting a healthy balance of food.
  • Focus on behaviors that encompass a healthy lifestyle rather than dieting, and offer to help them adapt these behaviors into their life

Is there anything, besides talking to them that I can do?

Leading by example and showing your teen that you’re in their corner is an amazing step, one that you’ve already started by reading this post!

Other suggestions, again from Dr. Neumark-Sztainer and Jill Castle are:

  • Model healthy behavior

This means that you don’t diet and don’t talk down about yourself around them. For teens, hearing you say positive things about your body that aren’t weight related will help set their mindset that their body is an awesome powerhouse capable of a lot of things that don’t depend on size.

  • Create a supportive environment

Easier said than done- I know that I always buy bananas, thinking I’ll eat them, and then suddenly I have a bunch of brown bananas with nothing to do with them.

This is a great way to help your teen development independence and take charge of their health. Have them come grocery shopping with you and pick out some of their favorite health foods so they have it on hand for snacks and lunches.

Let them help figure out certain recipes they’d like to try and help them learn how to cook it with you.

Find ways to decrease screen time where possible- don’t make screens negative, but offer to go on a walk with your teen after dinner, or another active activity you both like to avoid too much time sitting down.

Have any questions? Suggestions for fun activities to do with your teen? Let me know and join the #centerstageensemble on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

 

 

Opinion: Weight Watchers…get with the program.

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Recently some news came out about Weight Watchers piloting a free program for teenagers. Rebecca Stritchfield wrote an amazing piece on it, and the circles I inhabit have come forward explaining why, exactly, this is a bad idea.

Teens are a vulnerable population as their bodies are beginning to change and rather than helping them celebrate this step into adulthood, weight watchers seems keen to make it easier to shame girls, and some boys, that their body is bad.

They’re not even an adult yet. Let them grow, learn, and enjoy their lives without the stress of ‘points’ or whatever garbage you decide to shove down their throats because you’re unwilling to change your mentality as to the idea of what healthy looks like.

This news in conjunction with the fact that I’m currently reading When Girls Feel Fat: Helping Girls Through Adolescence by Sandra Susan Friedman has me thinking a lot about my own journey through body positivity.

The journey includes: being metaphorically dragged by my heels down a gravel road, laying by the side of the road refusing to move forward, and somethings rolling backward. There are occasions where I march forward, talk with people on the same journey, and stop and smell the roses of what it feels like to like my body and what it can do.

I don’t identify with girls who only started hating their size and body in high school or middle school. I remember teasing about my weight starting as early as elementary school and using food to cope with the fact that I had very few friends. I read and wrote a lot, liked a lot of non-mainstream nerdy things, and it wasn’t really until middle school that my social circle expanded.

Even then, food was my enemy. Because I was taller and heavier than my peers, and going through puberty sooner, my body felt less of a vessel to be celebrated and more of a neon sign to my faults. I couldn’t tell you when I started my first diet because I don’t remember.

What I do remember is my freshman year diet of five ritz crackers for breakfast, a 140-calorie bar for lunch, and a big dinner after I worked out because I ‘earned it’. Nowadays I know much better than that. It took years of learning, of dieting, and of wondering what was wrong with me to only realize that it wasn’t me.  Even this past summer I found myself thinking thoughts like that which I had in high school at the peak of my Eating Disorder-like behavior.

I don’t agree with weight loss for teens. I feel like now more than ever I can say that, after having a whole summer to come to this conclusion plus years of nutrition schooling.

I believe in healthy lifestyles for teens. But healthy lifestyles don’t include counting points or calories, excluding “”unclean”” food, or avoiding carbs just because some doctor without a nutrition degree said so.

I’ll talk about this more in my ‘should teens lose weight’ post, but teens don’t need a point system to tell them how to eat. They need patience, guidance, and occasionally therapy to help them through this time of intense change. They need adults helping them establish healthy habits (which yes, includes treats every now and again), and to learn that their bodies deserve to be hungry and to grow.

For the sake of girls and boys who, like me, weren’t small enough for society’s liking- don’t sign your child up for weight watchers. Talk to them. Teach them what a healthy lifestyle looks like. Find role models similar to your child’s height and weight and show them that success doesn’t come in pounds. Books such as “I’m, like, SO Fat!” and “When Girls Feel Fat” are excellent resources in helping teens who are having issues with body positivity and healthy living.

Remind them, like Clarence the Angel reminds George Bailey at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, that “no man is a failure who has friends”.

Let me know what you think about this. You can comment, reach me on Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram.