Why Isn’t This Working? (Inspired by Jason Seib)
I hope by now you have come to understand I write these posts because I want to help you, and if my tone sounds a little harsh at times, it’s because I’m trying to make a point.
This is one of those times.
Occasionally, people pull me aside, call me, or email me to ask why the Paleo Diet and exercising isn’t working. Please understand I don’t always have all the answers, but there a few common problems that create these situations. Let’s go over them and see if I can save you some frustration.
The first of these common problems is denial. If you’re cheating, even just “here and there,” you cannot expect amazing results. If your diet is perfect except for that Starbucks® Carmel Macchiato that you “absolutely must have,” then you already know why you aren’t getting results. No matter how loud you cry, “I don’t like black coffee,” you won’t get your fat cells to feel sorry for you, nor will your insulin take the morning off. Yes, I understand some things are REALLY difficult to give up, but I cannot change biochemistry for you. If this is you, you just need to come to terms with the cold hard facts and stop trying to pretend you’ll get the results you want as long as your intentions are good. I don’t mean to sound cold hearted – I definitely have my own temptations – but cheating is cheating.
The second common problem is lack of information. You may be assuming you’re doing everything correctly when you haven’t really looked close enough at all the input. For example, when I get emails from people who swear they are in complete compliance with the Paleo Diet and aren’t getting results, the first thing I always do is ask for a three day food log, a list of all liquids consumed other than water, sleep patterns, workout schedule and type of exercise performed, perceived stress level, all medications including birth control, all supplements, and anything else they put in their mouth, even gum and mints. Most people never respond. If I do hear from them again, they usually explain they weren’t quite as compliant as they thought they were. There’s always a chance that this could be you. Sit down and write out all the information I listed above and take a long, hard look to see if there is something you are missing. And remember, for all of human history except the last few hundred years, exercise has been inextricably linked to eating, and therefore surviving. In my opinion, if you aren’t exercising in a manner befitting your species, you aren’t compliant.
The third problem is just simply lack of knowledge and/or misinformation. One common example is eating out too often and not factoring in all the vegetable oils you are consuming. Or, making the assumption that diet soda is fine because it doesn’t contain sugar. Or drinking fruit juice because it’s “all natural.” These situations imply you still have some learning to do and you just need some help or to do a bit of research. A mistake is only made when you assume you are compliant without asking all the questions.
The fourth, intensity/volume/rest, is sometimes the one problematic variable that many overlook . I have clients who train six days per week EVERY week! This is NOT effective long-term and can ultimately be destructive. Yes, there are those who can eat crap, train seven days per week, train for three hours a day twice a day and look great! Unfortunately that isn’t 98% of us!! What does this all mean? Simply put, there are a couple factors that affect training-based results: intensity, volume, and rest recovery.
Intensity. 1) intensity of the load (weight) being used and, 2) intensity of the effort put forth (speed of the movement – max effort sprints, time under tension – negatives, rest periods, incline, decline, etc)
Volume. Volume is broken into two sub-categories: 1) Duration, which is how long a workout lasts, and 2) Frequency, which is how often workouts are done.
Rest/Recovery. 1) Physical recovery. The type of intensity (load/effort), and volume (duration/frequency) of the workout will impact the amount of recovery time you need. If you do not allow your body to fully recover from a strenuous exercise session, you run the risk of injury. The tissues in your muscle need time to heal after exercise breaks them down; remember, you’re causing trauma to the muscles during intense training. 2) Psychological recovery. If you experience signs of depression or mental fatigue the day after a workout, you may be over-training. Take a few days off to let your body recharge, and then see how you feel the next time you exercise.
Now for some good news. There are solutions to all of these problems. If you are currently in denial, get your head on right and face your demons head on. You absolutely have the power to overcome these flavor-related obstacles. Be aggressive and it won’t be long before you are breaking your bad habits. If you think maybe you need more data about your situation, write everything down for a few days and see if there is anything you missed. I would venture to guess that most people would be surprised with what they find when they can see all the facts at once. If you just lack knowledge, get educated – Synergy Fitness offers step-by-step-walk-you-through-the-Paleo-Diet plans. You can also find answers and excellent information at the Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf and Adam Farah‘s Missing Link Paleo e-book.
So what is the bottom line? At Synergy Fitness, we place a greater focus on the intensity of the exercise than on the volume accrued over the course of the week! GET REST!!