Monday, May 9, 2016

Metabolic Rehab part 2 - the Metabolic Banker

***Disclaimer - I am not a medical professional, nor do I claim to give any medical advice.  This blog entry is to discuss my personal understanding of how dieting impacts our metabolic process, and how my body has responded over the past 4 years to my fueling and exercise regime.  Please consult a medical professional before making any changes to your fueling and exercise program.***

Note - this is part 2 of a blog series.  If you have missed Part 1, I used my own personal way-back machine to evaluate how I got to the point where the desire to ride became overwhelmed by my body's demands to rest.  

Before I got an understanding of why I was continuing to deal with anxiety attacks and gastric distress in regards to my fitness routines, I started to blame myself and my surroundings.  It had to be because of mental stress, I'd say.  I'm getting too busy at work, I'm getting too upset about the groups I was riding in, I'm getting too emotional.  I was continuing to blame myself, that I wasn't doing the things I knew I should do.  I was making excuses instead of just training.  It was my fault.

After speaking to Wally from Vive Shake, I got a totally different image of what I was facing.  With this imagery I can understand where I am now, and what I have to deal with as I work on healing my broken metabolism.  Imagine for a minute that your body is a bank, and you are given a credit limit each day.  The currency in this bank is calories, and the bank has a minimum payment that it expects each day (your Base Metabolic Rate).  It expects you to pay that each day, as it uses it to keep the bank working.  The electric bill, the tellers, keeping the grass taken care of.  You know, the usual.  Beyond that, any additional work you wish to have done at the bank needs to be paid for as well.  When you are paying more in than you need, the bank will gladly store it in a fund for "overdraft protection".  

After decades of over payment, the bank is bursting at the seams;  It's gone through several expansions, and the vault is definitely overfull.  You decide that you need to take care of it, and use your available savings.  You start giving the bank less funds than it needs for it's daily work.  You start writing checks for additional work, above and beyond the minimum.  This continues every day for weeks.  For a while, the banker was okay with it;  you've got plenty of spare funds available, and you've been a good credit risk.   He's sure this is only a temporary measure.  He starts sending you reminder letters.

After a while, the banker starts to get a little nervous.  He starts to talk to your financial adviser about how to handle the situation.  The account that has been holding onto your savings is shrinking.  After numerous payments have not reached the minimum,  the banker decides he needs  to cut back.  He starts by cutting back on the electrical bill, maybe lays a teller or two off.  You continue to send less money to the bank, thinking that you've got plenty in the saving's account to handle the need.  You increase the checks for additional funds.  Now you are spending well above the minimum every day.  The banker is losing confidence; the letters are now getting rather sternly worded, with a few thinly veiled threats put in for good measure.

Time goes on, and you continue to spend significantly more than you pay;  The banker has lost all confidence in you.  He's decided that you are a bad risk, and has lowered your credit limit; he's sending as much money to the reserves for your bad risk account as possible.  He isn't going to do anything that isn't required of him in order to make sure that the bank can keep operating for as long as possible.  He's now sent you to collections, demanding that you take immediate action.  He's not willing to discuss payment arrangements, either.  

At some point you realize  things aren't right, and you start trying to do better on payments.  In fact, you are paying back above the original requested amount that the banker asked for.  The banker is still in panic mode, and putting a large portion of the money you send into savings.  He's not turning back on the lights, nor hiring additional tellers.  He doesn't care that the savings account still has plenty of reserves, or that you have been great on payments.  He only knows that you have been a credit risk, and that the chances of you not paying the bills again in the near future are high.  He continues to keep saving.  

When faced with this scenario, most of us can understand the banker to a point, but the metaphor breaks down once you start going back into savings.  Most of us would think that your body (aka the banker) would respond to having enough calories immediately once the imbalance is corrected.  The reality is that your body is fearfully and wonderfully made, and it was designed for one purpose - to survive.  We are given an amazingly complex brain by God, but the body is still an organism that will adapt to situations.  If given a famine situation, the body was designed to adapt and make sure you could live until food was available.  Once food is available, your body is going to want to protect itself against future famine.  It doesn't care that we live in the modern world, where starvation is less common, and that you are getting "3 squares a day".  It only knows that it didn't have enough to survive and was relying on your fat stores for an extended period of time.  That famine could return, and it needs to be ready.

This is where the modern "weight loss" industry keeps us embedded.  They come up with some gimmick that traumatizes our bodies, and then once it adapts and we "fail", they come up with another one.  Diet drinks, Diet foods, Diet pills - they all force our bodies into an unhealthy status, disrupting the relationship between our Brains and our Bodies.  It's a merry-go-round intended for us to stay on in order to keep milking us for our money.  We are brainwashed into thinking it's the only way to get a "healthy looking body".  

What we need to do is "pay back the banker", and win back his trust.  This isn't done by extreme measures.  Just like any relationship, it takes time to cultivate and effort to do right.   Identifying that the relationship is broken was a huge step for me.  I knew my relationship with food was broken this winter.  I was becoming desperate to find a better answer.  

What I didn't realize is that the relationship that I needed to repair was the one between my body, my brain, and my soul.  My soul wanted to see my body optimized and able to do the physical activities that I enjoy.  My brain kept telling me that I was just doing it wrong.  I needed to be more analytical;  it couldn't understand why we weren't just doing what we agreed on was best for everyone.  If they body would just keep to the program that it knew worked, they'd get back to where the soul wanted to be and beyond.

My body, on the other hand, was getting battered.  It had been being demanded to both do it's primary function (survive) and become physically strong;  all of which while being given a less than optimal food supply.  It had been asked to work out daily, or multiple times a day, while not getting the nutrition it believed it needed to repair muscles and keep all of my vital systems working normally.   It doesn't matter that my brain thought it knew what it was doing, my body was panicking;  it was begging for the brain to recognize the situation and do something different.   Instead, the brain just kept blaming the body and soul for the reduction in performance.

This realization is what Wally helped me to recognize this past weekend.  The next step was to understand what I needed to do to start the healing process.  Part 3 of this series will discuss the healing protocol, and how I'm going to get my body, mind, and soul back in harmony.

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