by Staci Jackson, Fitness Ninja, Duchess of Nutrition
I knew I was “pudgier” than all of my friends. But I was so young, I didn’t quite put it into the context of “weight loss”.
I’ve been on a weight loss journey for 16 years. When I say I tried everything before I stumbled upon the magical land of Mark Fisher Fitness at the age of 27, I mean tried EVERYTHING. The laundry list of diets I tried, workout DVDs I purchased and diet/workout books I read goes on and on. They all worked for a brief period of time, but inevitably led to gaining back the weight that I had lost plus some extra pounds.
Things took a turn for the better when the glitter bomb that is MFF went off in my life. For the first time ever I felt like I was strong and good at moving. I even felt (wait for it…) ATHLETIC! Cue the triumphant music, and slow clap because I had finally overcome my fear of sucking at a sport. This was HUGE. This time I was going to lose weight because I was ACTUALLY excited to work out regularly and kick some ass.
Then reality hit, hard. You can’t out-train your diet. I tried. I lost.
The next logical step for nutritional domination was Snatched. I LOVED it! Talk about feeling empowered, strong, and unstoppable! (Winning!) I had not seen huge results after Snatched (like some people) but I wasn’t completely bummed because I was proud of all my hard work as well as my improved strength and movement. I still had a long way to go on my fat loss journey, but if Snatched made me feel that good about myself, I would use all the tools I learned during those six weeks to continue. I was sure the results would come with time and a continued regimen.
Trying to continue my Snatched nutrition regimen led me to eating when I wasn’t hungry to ensure I hit my macros. Other times my stomach was full but I was not satisfied and had hardcore cravings. My taste buds were left wanting because I wasn’t eating for enjoyment, but rather for results. I HATED eating that much protein, but I told myself to suck it up because this is how results are achieved. At the time I wasn’t concerned with happiness, only fat loss results. So I did what I knew and continued the Snatched diet protocol.
As time went on, enthusiasm waned, and the after-Snatched glow dimmed into the daily grind of NYC life. It was increasingly easier to fudge my entries on My Fitness Pal, not plan my meals, and miss my protein goal. The extra calories from a little bite here and a tiny nibble there quickly turn into extra pounds and inches.
How in the ‘eff did that happen? I had rules in place! Obviously I wasn’t doing enough if I was backsliding off my Snatched diet, counting calories and tracking protein wasn’t strict enough. My answer: MORE rules!
Calorie cycling seemed like a great place to start. It wasn’t easy, but I nailed it. I was doing all this work. Still, the scale wouldn’t budge and my measurements didn’t move. No problem, add more rules! Next came calorie AND carb cycling together. This still wasn’t getting results so the logical answer in my mind was, even MORE (dzuh). Add intermittent fasting into the mix, which eventually led to following a Paleo diet. My life was a whole bunch of “can’ts” fueled by one rule after another.
My Life of MORE
What did a life of MORE feel like? A lot of chaos, rules and stress. I would read every book and blog I could get my hands on. I implemented every “advanced” nutritional strategy that had gained popularity in the last two years. I told myself it was worth it because if it works for all the smart and lean people in the fitness industry, it has to work for me…right?
Saying I was stressed out trying to follow the rules for these diets is an understatement. I felt like I was ALWAYS starving. I was always thinking about food: when I could and couldn’t eat, what I can’t eat, ugh! I wanted more rules to make it easier, fewer choices and less thinking. That backfired and instead my life revolved around food and the many rules concerning it. Most of the time I was compliant as f*ck. Still, I was barely seeing any movement in measurements, or the way my clothes fit.
I became more diligent about my workouts. If I couldn’t control my weight loss, I could control getting stronger. I had to PR every workout or I felt I wasn’t working hard enough. If I wasn’t stressing myself out enough about following these diets to a “T” and not seeing results, feeling like I had to go balls to the wall and/or PR every session compounded even more stress upon my body and mind.
I spent most of my time feeling like a failure. I obviously wasn’t doing anything right if I still wasn’t seeing results! This was my job. I am a fitness professional, a duchess of nutrition, I had all the knowledge and the best people to support me and yet nothing was working. It’s my job to help people achieve health and hotness and I couldn’t even give this to myself. Why would people trust me to help them if I couldn’t even do it for myself?
I was so angry that I was doing everything in my control and it still wasn’t enough. Me. Staci Jackson. I wasn’t enough. Little did I realize that maybe if I were happier and enjoyed my approach a little more I might actually get better results. Oh the lessons we learn. I guess you need those dark times to find the light that leads you to a path of enlightenment.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Although it felt like I was doing something different with each new strategy, I was still doing the same thing: adding rules and attempting to follow diets. I wasn’t listening to my body. More wasn’t working. The only other option at this point was to do…less. But that thought was scary. Less? No one in the industry was talking about doing less. It seemed like an insane idea, but at this point I was so desperate.
Thus Began My Life of Less
What did a life of less look like? Less was getting rid of restrictions and creating behavioral changes. This meant adopting a healthy habit for two weeks and slowly building upon this with another habit every two weeks. When there is less stress on your body and mind, more change can be created and sustained. In a life of less there are no “off limit” foods, you listen to your body and create habits. If there are no rules, there is no right or wrong, good or bad, no all or nothing mentality. With a life of less, I was in charge! Instead of external rules dictating what I ate at what time of day, it became about internal rules, like following when I was hungry and when I was full. I was just living life with changes I had slowly created and had become second nature. Those habits may seem like little baby steps, but if you take enough baby steps over time, you can climb any mountain. (TWEET THAT SHIT!)
Dieting felt like I had to put my life on hold—always counting, measuring, abstaining—and follow rules in hope of reaching a desired outcome. We diet to create change, but creating change can be difficult because we wear ourselves out trying to operate in a new way. But if the changes become a part of your everyday life (habit), then change is inevitable with way less stress. (Winning. Hard.) Now I live my life and I know that every little step, no matter how little it may seem, is a step toward change. The best part is, it’s EASY. It blows my mind to be able to write that to you. I never thought getting leaner would be easy.
However, it’s not the changes I see in the mirror that mean the most, it’s the fact that I freaking love my life because I am living! I eat without stress and guilt. Let’s be honest, there are some days I make better food choices than other days, but I have my “Big Rock” habits that I can always do no matter where I am and what is happening. They are habit, so it takes no thought, no willpower. I am consistently living my life in a way that aligns with my goals. With any goal, consistency is KING! I’ll be honest, I never wanted to give up cookies. I like cookies. I always wanted to be the girl who was able to enjoy the hell out of a cookie now and again and not feel a shred of guilt and still obtain her goals. With changes in behavior, I have been able to find that balance. For the first time, I live a life ofbalance. I can have my cookies and fat loss too! GLORY!
I have never felt more in control, more confident, more sexy, more radiant, more beautiful or more grateful. I now have a whole new appreciation for life because I feel like I’m actually able to live it fully and enjoy it on my terms. This approach takes some time because it’s less aggressive than a typical “diet”, but it’s worth the wait for a lifetime of change. I’m worth the wait!.
Funny how a life of less gave me so much MORE. (TWEET THAT SHIT!)
Join Staci Jackson, MFF’s Duchess of Nutrition for FUEL, a 16-week MFF program designed to address the behaviors and habits that derail so many attempts at creating lasting change. But if you’re ready to make a more gradual, deliberate change, with the intention of creating a new, lasting nutritional lifestyle, this is the program for you.