Have you ever heard the quote, “sometimes you need to slow down to speed up”?
I think most of us understand this concept in principle. Pause. Step back. Evaluate how you are working on your goal and make sure you are working smarter, not harder.
The problem is not that we don’t understand the benefits of slowing down occasionally. The problem is many of us are far too nervous about “slowing down” to actually do it. We worry that loosening our grip means we fall completely off track.
In my nutrition practice, this faulty perception comes up occasionally.
A person can be so tightly attached to their goal that they sabotage their chances of success. This seems to be especially true for those seeking weight loss, but happens for all kinds of desired outcomes.
If what I’m doing isn’t working, I’ll just diet harder.
And I know it well. I’ve been that person… more than once.
I only wish I had known how much my stress about the outcome was preventing it from happening.
THE CORTISOL CONNECTION
Being stressed about losing weight is a recipe for disaster.
Cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress, mobilizes the body to be ready for fight or flight. When our body is in this sympathetic state, it ensures access to quick energy via glucose released into the bloodstream.
So now this stressed body has raised blood sugar levels, resulting in release of insulin. Insulin is like a glucose delivery truck that transports blood sugar to cells for immediate use or storage.
Insulin also sends an energy storage message to the cells. As in, “we’ve got access to energy right now, so keep all the stored energy stored!”. Yes, this includes keeping fat right where it is.
“I’M NOT THAT STRESSED”
You might be reading this and think, “No, really, I’m not that stressed”.
And maybe you’re not.
But, how does it feel if you were to imagine loosening your grip a little on your goals?
- Put away the scale for a few weeks
- Leave your fitbit at home for a day
- Don’t count calories
- Ease off the 2 hour gym sessions
- Eat the dessert
You get the idea.
For many, these mere suggestions spike anxiety.
If that’s the case, it’s a sign you may be holding on too tightly to your goals. And you may be unwittingly sabotaging your health.
LOOSENING YOUR GRIP
I believe we tighten our grip on things when we feel out of control. Being more strict or regimented gives the illusion of being in control.
But, this extra tension actually causes us to feel less stable. More fragile.
So now the suggestion to ease up feels like everything will crumble and fall apart. It can be terrifying.
Any maybe past experiences have taught you “lessons” that support this fact. If the last time you eased up a bit meant gaining weight, it’s understandable that you would feel nervous.
That’s why it’s critical to pause, step back and look at the full picture.
And, to understand something really important. Loosening your grip does not mean letting go. It’s not about giving up on your goals.
Deciding to stop holding on so tight means deciding to trust yourself. This does not always feel comfortable, but it’s really important.
Our bodies are innately intelligent and often send signals about what they need. It’s just that we allow our brains to override our body’s messages.
Now, I’m not suggesting a free for all. Remember, it’s not about letting go completely. It’s about allowing for some more breathing room.
It’s the permission to slow down.
To be present.
To honour your body.