We are slaves to the idea that the only way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more. Calories in – calories out, right? If it was really this simple, wouldn’t we all have figured it out by now – would it really be a constant fight between our food and our bodies? No, it wouldn’t.
So, nerd-ing out for a quick second, the calories in – calories out argument makes total sense when we look at thermodynamics – energy is conserved in a closed system.
BUT, our bodies are not closed systems. We have a cascade of chemical reactions happening all the time. This is the heart of the mind-body connection. It may sound a bit woo-woo, but research has proven that there are profound effects on the chemistries of stress, relaxation, pleasure and depression.
Marc David, author of The Slow Down Diet (you should read it!), describes metabolism as this:
“Metabolism is the sum total of all the chemical reactions in the body, PLUS the sum total of all our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences.”
So let’s break down one of those chemistries – let’s talk about STRESS.
Stress begins as a physiological response that alerts the body that it is in danger – for our caveman ancestors, this may have been a hungry animal, but in our modern lives, it could be an angry boss, screaming kids, or piles of unpaid bills. Our body knows no difference – our adrenal glands kick in, releasing hormones that increase our heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
When we stay trapped in this flight-or-flight physiology, our bodies are in survival mode. The body is being told “hold on to everything – a famine is coming” or “reserve your energy – we’ve got to outrun this bear.”
This stress lowers our metabolism and shuts off our ability to burn fat.
Yes, that’s right – our bodies will hold on to fat when it is in a stress state. And for many of us, that chronic low-level stress is always there.
We have got to slow down. Then and ONLY then, can our bodies calm down enough to work properly and let the excess weight come off.
You don’t need to pound it out on the treadmill for 5 minutes longer to punish yourself for that piece of cake after dinner. Maybe take a yoga class and instead of “stressing” in your shavasana that you’re not burning enough calories, flip your thinking. Your biochemistry shifts from stressed (sympathetic nervous system) to relaxed (parasympathetic nervous system) – your metabolism jumps right on board.
“There is more to life than increasing its speed” Gandhi
Do you find yourself thinking about the calories in, calories out mode? Does it make sense that less is actually more when it comes to your body and its ability to use energy efficiently (aka your metabolism)?
I’d love to hear from you! Does this make sense and have your thoughts shifted at all from reading this?