I never imagined that I would write a blog post but, after a recent experience, tidbits of information kept forming in to phrases in my head and I couldn’t help thinking that there might be something others would find helpful.
Anyone who’s tried to manage their weight over the years has probably heard of ‘Intuitive Eating’ – the concept of really paying attention to hunger sensations and what foods your body is telling you it needs. During this experience, it was more about trying to understand how my body was trying to compensate and balance my energy levels.
As usual, my energy levels flagged during the week but I forced myself through the post-work gym workouts with a mix of determination and any energy boosting supplements I could think of (eg. coffee, b-complex vitamins). By the time I got to the weekend, I found myself unable to leave the couch without serious effort and, by 4pm on Saturday, had to accept that the only other thing getting done (apart from absolutely essential chores) was a soak in the bath with a book.
I’ve learnt about the ‘Compensation Theory of Energy Balance’ and understood it logically but never felt is so clearly as I did during this week. The basic theory is that your body wants everything to stay stable so, if you’re suddenly a lot more active or you’ve been eating a lot less to try and lose weight, your body might reduce your ability to be active at other times or increase your appetite in order to balance energy in vs energy out.
I haven’t worked out where I went wrong – too much exercise, too little sleep, too little food or not the right types of food? There are many different ways to approach the mystery but, once you’re at this point, the only action to take is allowing your body the time and rest it needs to recover and rebalance.
Having noticed the difference during this experience, I’m now in a better position to connect with smaller changes – for example: I’m feeling hungry more often today/earlier in the day, maybe that’s because I lifted heavy things in the gym last night and my body is trying to build & repair muscle.
Meanwhile, women in their child-bearing years need to consider the additional layer of how to eat, move and structure their lives to best suit the stages of their monthly infradian rhythm.
If you force yourself through the exercise or household chores you had planned, is that just adding another stressor that your body isn’t in a position to handle? (Whoops, there’s another topic for a blog post – stress!)