The hardest thing to tell a client when they come in for the first time is that they may gain weight.

The reality is most of my clients are in pursuit of fat loss, which they have often confused with weight loss. To lose weight they have subjected themselves to any number of diet programs, from the more sensible Weight Watchers to the starvation programs like HCG.  They have no problem losing weight on these programs. The problem is:

  • The weight they lose with a diet only is a combination of water, muscle and some fat.
  • They go off the diet, return to “normal” eating with a metabolism slowed down by the muscle loss the diet caused.

Then the weight comes back, sometimes with a vengeance. This problem has a name: refeeding syndrome.

When your body is deprived of fuel it is going to take advantage of the opportunity when you it do eat. This can be after a long period of time (like the starvation diets I mentioned) or in smaller cycles, like the person who doesn’t eat all day then overeats at night.  When the body gets that big meal, or returns to normal calorie levels, it will store as much energy (in the form of fat) as possible to get through the next period of deprivation.

I see women typically after they’ve been on many different diets, diets that have wreaked havoc on their metabolism. My job now becomes more complicated because before we can focus on their health and fitness goals, we have to overcome the damage that has been done. This is where the weight gain comes into play.

Refueling and replenishing might mean a gain of a couple pounds. And that’s okay. Those couple of pounds will come with a renewed energy, better sleep and not feeling hungry all the time.

Starting a fitness journey requires, for many, relearning how to eat. It requires learning that food is not the enemy and that food is an important part of feeling good and staying healthy.  It’s a slow process, but it’s a sustainable one. The beginning may not be fast and fat loss may not be immediate but if we focus on the right behaviors for health and life, the fat loss will come.

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