Sometimes You Have to Reverse to Go Forward


Can you imagine driving a car that didn’t go in reverse? Now, I don’t know that much about automobiles, but I do know that I have to back out of my driveway in the morning. I literally couldn’t start my day or get anywhere without driving in reverse. I need this function in order to move forward...even if it feels like I’m moving backwards.

Now keep this image in your head. It’ll make sense why I’m talking cars in just a moment.

Let me switch gears for a moment (see what I did there) and provide a few statistics that demonstrate why I am vehemently against diets. The average dieter in the UK follows 55 fad diets during their lifetime. FIFTY-FIVE.

Americans don’t fare much better. The consensus is that American women spend a total of seventeen years of their lives on diets. SEVENTEEN.

And things are very grim for women who try to diet.  Which is probably why women try 130 diets over their lifespan. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY.

And for all these poor women stuck in the diet trap, the average female loses her body weight over nine times during her lifetime. NINE TIMES.

These numbers are staggering, but in my years in the fitness industry doing nutrition coaching, high performance coaching and having run over two years of my Lift to Get Lean program, I can believe them! Sadly, I am not surprised by these numbers because I see the debilitating nature of the diet cycle every day.  It really makes me wonder why we continue to do something over and over again when it elicits the same result. Failure. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?!

But I’ve got the solution!

Go on a diet.

No, for real, that’s my solution.

But this isn’t a diet that will have you spinning your wheels (god, I love a good metaphor), it’s a diet that is referred to as a REVERSE diet. At this point, reverse diets are just about the only diets I can really get behind. But, before I extol their virtue, let me first explain metabolic adaptation and why it is causing all other diets to end in the same result, failure.

It has been ingrained in us since the 1950’s that the way to lose weight is to go on a low calorie diet. We have been indoctrinated for decades to think that eating the least amount of food is what is going to get us to reach our goals. But what isn’t taken into account in this scenario is just how amazing our bodies are at adapting to conditions. In other words, the less fuel (aka food) you give your body, the less fuel it will begin to need. This is what is called metabolic adaptation. Your metabolism adapts to what you are giving it. And, as a result of chronic dieting and multiple weight loss and gain cycles, your body starts to burn less calories the less you eat. This is why low calorie diets don’t work in the long term. You simply cannot stay in a caloric deficit for years and expect to see the results you want, hence why 95% of people who go on diets, regain the weight. NINETY-FIVE PERCENT!

This is when reverse dieting comes into play. Reverse dieting is the way you transition from having been in a caloric deficit to getting back to eating in maintenance mode. Reverse dieting is a slow process. It involves gradually starting to increase your intake of carbohydrates and fats. The amount of protein you eat stays the same. This is a slow methodical process and you will not gain weight back because the process involves very small baby steps. In other words, you will gradually be increasing your carb/fat intake by about 40 calories daily for a few weeks at a time. And then in a few weeks, you increase by 40 calories daily again.  Your body will start to adapt to these gradual small changes and intuitively know that the more fuel you are giving it, the more energy it will be able to use to function. (In other words, the more you eat, the more you’ll burn.) And you will continue this process for several months. Having gone through this process myself, let me tell you that the end result is so worth it because you will be able to go from, say, 1600-2000 calories per day. That leap of four hundred calories will allow you to have more fun with the food you are eating and you will repair your metabolism. FOUR HUNDRED CALORIES!

I want you to think about repairing your metabolism like focusing on routine maintenance for your car so that it runs more efficiently. For instance, if you continually forget to put gas in your car to the point that it is running on fumes as you pull into the gas station, this will gradually wear on the way your car functions. If you don’t change your oil regularly, your car’s engine will eventually poop out. Just like our metabolism, a car needs the proper amount of fuel and maintenance to function. And, as I started this post, I want to reiterate that your car needs all it’s gears to get from point A to point B and this includes putting your vehicle in reverse just as much as in drive.  

I know the idea of reverse dieting can be scary, but it really will allow your body to function better and allow you to enjoy food, movement and your daily life far more than the weight loss/weight gain cycle of traditional dieting. Consider reverse dieting your exit strategy for a life of counting calories and feeling deprived. No more spinning those wheels!