Adapted from an article by Lisa Maximus
When people (usually women) chronically underfeed themselves, they end up in what I call the “metabolic vortex”. Unfortunately, once you enter the vortex, it’s very hard to get out.
I’ve talked with countless women about diet and how many calories they should consume daily. In attempting to discuss proper health and nutrition with them, it’s like talking to a brick wall. They don’t understand. They’re conditioned to think that eating less is better. Almost every woman I know chronically under-eats.
In reality, most women need way more calories than they are consuming. That is to say: 1200 calories a day simply is not enough. Actually, women need more like 2500 calories a day. I realize this sounds like a lot, especially if you’re coming from a diet mentality. But it truly is what you need! This article offers some insight as to why.
This brings us back to the metabolic vortex. If you should be eating 2500 calories a day but are only eating 1200-1500 calories on a daily basis, you might think that you’d lose weight. You’d think that you’d look awesome in a bikini, fitness goals complete. But that’s not how it works. I know plenty of women who consume this much on a daily basis who don’t look or feel how they want to. If you’re healthy, you should feel good: they don’t feel good.
For women in particular, their bodies are extremely sensitive to changes in diet. They are particularly sensitive to a lack of calories, because they have been gifted with the ability to carry life, and calories matter for that momentous job. In days of yore, if there was a famine, women’s hormones would shut down to discourage pregnancy, so that every bit of fuel could be used to keep her body going. The body knows to conserve calories because women need fat to carry and protect children and to produce breast milk.
So, women’s bodies are conditioned to hold on to fat. In the modern day, however, this usually manifests as the body conserving unwanted fat around the midsection. Women are tired and hangry all the time due to the hormone fluctuation. They’re lethargic and have no energy. This is not the best condition to be working out! So many women abandon their fitness goals or hit a plateau in weight loss. They don’t get what they want in terms of body shape or strength.
So how do we fix it? How can women get out of the vortex?
First things first: figure out how many calories you need. Second, commit to actually eating that much fuel. Yes, it can be challenging, particularly at first, if you’ve been in a diet mindset most of your life. And at first, you probably will gain weight; your body needs to learn to trust that you’ll continue fueling it before it stops conserving the calories. But if you stick with it, this short term weight gain will disperse. After 3 to 6 months, your hormones will regulate and you’ll not only even out weight wise, but will probably lose weight. And you’ll have energy to work out, so finally you’ll be able to work toward your fitness goals. You’ll finally begin to see the results you want.
How do I know that it works? I’ve seen women live through it. Women eating as little as 800 calories a day on average began to feed themselves sufficiently and care about their health, and were come out of the vortex. It takes about 6 months, and it isn’t always easy. When women gain weight, they can freak out and suffer from poor body image. It can be a doubt filled time. But by trusting the process they emerged healthier and feeling better than they could have imagined. Today, they love their bodies. They feel sexy, strong, and feel great. You can have this, too!
If you are in the metabolic vortex, it’s time to start working your way back to health. Throw out the scale and trust in yourself. Begin to up your caloric count and feed yourself. Healthy should feel good, not like torture! In 3-6 months, you’ll be a whole new you. Yes, you will have doubts along the way, and you may suffer with poor body image during that short time. But keep your eyes on the prize. Once you “reset” you’ll feel better than you ever have. You’ll be stronger, you’ll be healthier, and you’ll feel amazing. If you want to reach your fitness goals, you need to eat properly!