I hear it all the time and it pains me – because I used to suffer through the same mindset years ago:
I need to destroy myself in the gym to lose weight.
I need to burn off that dessert from last night.
I need to sweat it out on the treadmill for my costume fitting next week.
The last thing I want to do is work out, but I'll feel so guilty if I don't.
Man, that type of thinking sucks. No wonder so many people have a love/hate relationship with working out. You’re motivated for a bit to see the fat melt off…but after a couple days or weeks of that negative mindset around exercise (deplete, burn off, destroy, exhaust, kill, atone for your supper sins & food guilt), you start to despise it. Your workout becomes an obligation to wear yourself down rather than an opportunity for self-improvement. Who would want to exercise when you never feel like you are leveling up but just constantly digging out of a hole?
The same thing goes with diets – they are so negatively based. You focus on all the foods you have to eliminate for weeks, months, years until you get to your goal weight. Sure, you might shed excess fat, but you’ll also be a slave to a boring, tasteless, never-ending diet. It’s no wonder you end up feeling deprived and tempted to cheat after a few days of denying yourself deliciousness.
Because of the way we’ve been conditioned, we are so stuck in the mindsets of using exercise to burn off fat and diets as a form of restriction. But these goals are inefficient at best…and at worst destructive. Considering how big of a role diet & exercise play in your life, do you really think it’s healthy to constantly carry around these negatively tinged mindsets associated with them?
Let's give you a different way of looking at things when it comes to exercise and fat loss:
WORKOUT MINDSET – Optimize Your Body
Instead of sinking into “depletion mode” mindset where you attempt to waste away body fat with your workouts, try a more constructive approach. Despite the myths, exercise is not the answer for fat loss - nutrition is. While it is true that exercise can increase your metabolic rate to help you stay lean, you need to stop thinking of exercise as a means of fat loss. There are more efficient ways to get the job done…both in terms of exercise and fat loss.
Workouts should be used to optimize your body. Turn yourself into a fat burning machine by adding muscle. This doesn’t mean you must build huge bulking muscles in an effort to look like a competitor in the CrossFit Games (sorry ladies, I luv ya, and you are sexy in your own way…but those aesthetics ain’t gonna work in a Swan Lake tutu). In fact, adding muscle to your body could actually make you a smaller version of yourself if done right. By increasing muscle density as opposed to muscle volume, you can ramp up your fat burning furnace (not to mention your power, strength, and endurance) while decreasing the actual measurements of your body. It’s a concept that I refer to as optimizing your size-to-performance ratio. Now that’s a positive & useful goal for your workouts, especially if you’re a dancer needing to squeeze the most facility out of your body!
FAT LOSS MINDSET – Nourish Fat Loss
Instead of falling into “deprivation mode” mindset with your diet, think of nourishing your aesthetic. Since you don’t want to associate your workouts with fat loss, use your nutrition to focus on it. But traditional diets highlight the foods you have to avoid...creating deprivation & anxiety around eating. In order to feel nourished & satiated while slimming down, concentrate on the nutrients you should be eating - the ones that spark body transformation.
Think of NOURISHING fat loss...not starving yourself for it. There are certain foods that help your body shift over to fat burning mode. By choosing the right foods to nourish your body and strategically planning when to eat those foods, you coach your body to burn fat for energy versus sugar. It’s actually a really cool process, and once you train your body to run off fat, you open up a greater fuel supply for your body to utilize. When relying on sugar, once you burn through the stored energy in your system, your tank is empty until you can eat again. But when your body is trained to run on fat, your energy supply isn’t dependent on how much or when you last ate but on an almost infinite resource that has a much higher yield of energy per unit. What does this mean for your dancing?
- You get less tired
- You get less hungry between meals
- You don’t experience jitters from blood sugar spikes and drops
- You aren’t distracted by hunger
- You don’t have to worry about brain fog clouding your ability to pick up choreography
- You don’t get weak, dizzy, or anxious while you try to make it through a long rehearsal
Long story short, your workouts should revolve around optimizing your body, not depleting it. And fat loss should come from a place of nourishment, not deprivation. These simple mindset shifts can help you stay consistent and motivated long enough to get actual results with all the work you are putting in. And the best part is that you just might not be miserable while you’re at it😉
If you are interested in a simple nutrition blueprint that teaches how to nourish fat loss, check this out:
Photo credit: Rachel Neville