General Fitness

How To Lose Weight When You’re Already In Shape

Our bodies like a set point, whether we like that weight/shape or not. It’s why even though we may fluctuate a little here and there, most of us manage to wear the same size clothes for years. Our bodies say, “I like this weight. I’m comfortable here. I’ll adjust your metabolism and hormones accordingly.”

Here’s a more detailed article on that point: https://www.thecut.com/2016/05/weight-loss-metabolism-slows-down-hunger-increases.html

When you have a significant amount of weight to lose, or you have real diet changes to make, or exercise/physical activity is not part of your regular life, then weight loss can come easily as it’s a shock to your body, and your body responds quickly. I say “easily” but I’m talking how your body reacts, not you. You may have a hard time mentally and emotionally dealing with all the difficult changes – and that does not come easily.

But what if you’re already in good physical shape and eat a healthy diet? If you’ve previously lost weight, then your body has adjusted its metabolism to not have to work as hard, as it’s not carrying around an extra load, so you actually may have to eat less and exercise more to see continued results. Your body is smaller and thus doesn’t need as much fuel to maintain its current weight. Yes, you have likely made your body more effective and efficient with burning calories as you’ve become healthier, however discovering that calorie-to-exercise ratio for your body may take some trial and error as you discover what works best for your body.

Imagine doing bodyweight squats while weighing 185 lbs. Then lose 20 lbs, now weighing 165 lbs, you continue to do the same number of bodyweight squats. Which scenario is more difficult? Which requires the body to work harder?

Think of your body/shape/weight in its form right now. Is it harder for you to do a bodyweight squat, or a squat with a 20 pound barbell?

As your body adjusts to the weight and exercise, your exercise routine must also adjust to see continued results.

If you run 3 miles three times a week, every week, do you think it’s just as hard the first time you did it as it is now? No! Sure it’s still a good workout that helps maintain your current health status, but the key word here is “maintain”.

The first time you drank alcohol, did one beer or one glass of wine make you feel a little tipsy? How about years later, are you still a lightweight, or has you body adjusted to handling two or three beers or glasses of wine? Maybe more?

As your body adjusts to the intake of calories, or to the stress of physical activity, YOU must continue to adjust or it will fight you to maintain its current status.

Here’s a checklist to help you understand if anything is holding you back:

– Have you made any adjustments to your exercise routine in the past few months to make cardio either longer/harder, weight training heavier/harder?

– Have you made any adjustments to your caloric intake recently? Even if you feel you should maintain the same caloric intake, does the quality of those calories need to change? Such as less sugar that if not used as fuel will be stored as fat. Is there extra sodium that could be taken out? Some processed carbs that could be substituted out with natural ones?

– If you don’t feel you are ready to adjust the intensity of your cardio or weight training, can you add extra activity? Even something as less strenuous as a 30 minute daily walk on top of your regular routine can start making an impact on your weight loss journey.

– If you cannot carve more time out of your day for exercise than you already do, can you run/spin faster? Can you incorporate more sprints that cause a positive stress on your body to be on high alert, thus it will react by burning more calories?

– Are you drinking enough water? Around 2 liters should be your daily goal to prevent dehydration and to ensure you flush out your system adequately.

Good luck. Stay positive. Remember to love yourself throughout the whole journey. If you need help with exercise ideas, check out my Independent Package options for self-accountability workouts.

General Fitness

I threw away my scale, and I’m not replacing it.

I threw away my scale today. Not because of some profound declaration of independence from the little accessory that can cause mind games with us all, but because it was broken. A couple weeks ago my bathroom flooded for an unclear reason and the scale was a casualty. The water is gone now, flowing through the pipes correctly, but the scale is done.

If I lived near a WalMart or Target (insert moment of silence for those of us who have to live without) I’d likely just run out and grab a new one, but I don’t, so I’ve had a little time to think about this seemingly dull moment in time.

Do I really want a new scale?

Think about it with me for a bit. What purpose does a scale serve you? For some who have serious weight issues, or even just borderline serious, weight issues, I can see the purpose. You may need to diligently keep track of what it says to keep you on the path to healthy success. But for many of us, it can really be a total buzz kill. A kill joy. A slap in the face. Why do I want that in my life? Can’t the fact that my pants do or do not fit serve the same purpose, but with a little more wiggle room?

How many times have you stepped on the scale with set numbers in your head? A number to not be over, and if you are over, you feel bummed. A number to be under, and if you’re under, you feel a sense of hope and success. But if you didn’t know your number at all, if you didn’t have a chance to step on that scale, and you simply had to base your happiness with your body and your appearance based on looking in the mirror, would you be happier more and sad less? You can’t look in the mirror and truly see a two pound difference. You can step on a scale and see you’re two pounds heavier than you want to be, and how you react to that is up to you, but you’re not going to see those two pounds when you look in the mirror.

It’s all a mental game, and if it’s not a positive one, maybe I don’t need to play it.

I gave birth to my children when I was 26 and 29. When I turned 30 I decided I was a little bit wiser. Because 30 is “so old” right? Maybe not wiser, but a bit more confident. I am confident, not arrogant. There is a difference, and I certainly have more room to grow, but I’m come a long way. You should join me on that path, it’s a pretty good one. I decided in my 30’s I would do more things for me. Yes, I did plenty of things for me in my 20’s, but there was so many big ticket bucket list items during that time – college, grad school, marriage, babies – that eventually one must come out of the fog (as exciting as it is) and say, “Ok, and now who am I?” Or, “Who do I want to be?”

There’s many silly things on that 30’s list of things to do to take care of me – like actually trying out a skin care regimen because I’m not getting any younger and my laugh lines are getting more defined. Figuring out exactly who I am, what I’m good at, what I’m placed on this Earth to do is on that list. How much I weigh while discovering all that, is not.

Once upon a time I would have stepped on the scale every day. I know people who have to step on it every day. Think of some of the most incredible people you know. Think of some of the women in your life who have made your life better simply by them being a part of it. Do any of them weigh themselves and grumble about their weight? YES! I know many that do. I know women who are successful in their careers, who take care of their families in the most loving way, and they still include how much they weigh, and the size of their dresses, as a deciding factor of how much they are worth.

As someone who is hopeful that there really is a Heaven, my assumption is God will not ask me to step on the scale prior to entry.

Yes, I am all for being healthy. Yes, I myself would like to lose more weight and become stronger. But I would like to base how I change my mind and body on what I see in the mirror, and whether I need to buy a new wardrobe because my clothes are too tight or too loose, but not base my mental state on an arbitrary number that should come with an asterisk next to it. An asterisk because maybe I weigh X-amount and that sounds high but I have a lot of muscle. Or an asterisk because maybe I don’t weigh that much but I’m short and my frame is small. Or an asterisk because my number is high but I’m tall and I have fitness goals in mind that require I weigh that much. Or an asterisk because Taco Tuesday is amazing and I regret nothing.

So the scale is gone, my friends. And she’s not coming back for awhile, until SHE shows me her worth. Yes the scale is a “She” because she can be a real B-word.

General Fitness

Exercising For A Cause

While I believe motivation to exercise or to work towards a fitness goal is best achieved when it comes from within, sometimes that isn’t always possible. Sometimes you need that extra kick in the pants from outside sources to get you going.

Races that incorporate donations to charities are quite popular. There are many walks and runs that people participate in to raise awareness and funds to hopefully help cure diseases. Personal experiences and connections to these diseases, such as breast cancer or leukemia, give people the motivation to get out there and get moving in hopes of making a difference. It’s a smart idea, both from a marketing perspective and decent human people perspective. Find something people are passionate about, and get them out walking or running, talking and fundraising, while connecting with other people around them and making the world a little more hopeful and helpful.

When I was training for my first marathon I dedicated my run to ten soldiers who had died in war. I had a shirt made with their names on it. I read their stories several times, and I donated money to charities I had either read about in their death notices or thought they would have had a connection to, and would have appreciated me donating to. Let me tell you, when you’re running and thinking about young men who died for their country and no longer are able to run themselves, you keep running! It was exactly what I needed to keep me motivated. To keep me realizing that my pain was nothing compared to what they had experienced. That I was truly fortunate to even be able to move my legs at all.

If you don’t think you can last on internal motivation along, what can keep you going? Is there a cause you can make a promise to? One where you raise money for every mile walked, or every lap swam? What can pull on your heartstrings enough to make your hamstrings not give up?

For those who want to spend energy, but not your own money, there’s an app for that – Charity Miles – you exercise, they pay the charity.

Your dog can even join in on the fundraising fun with WoofTrax.

Remember that exercise is not just about burning calories and losing weight, it can be about so much more.

Stay active, my friends!

Exercise Motivation

Tips For Staying Focused On Exercise

I’ve been asked before, “What do you when you’re in an exercise slump?” I have to be honest with you (and I promise I’m not saying this to sound snobby or better than thou) but I don’t really have slumps. There’s times when life is crazy busy and I don’t get to work out quite as much, but that’s referring to exercising two or three times a week instead of five. I don’t have long breaks from exercise.

How is that possible?

We all have our daily tasks, and each are given their placement of priority – whether we write it down or not. If there’s a time crunch or a lot to get done, we know which will be handled before others. Often times I believe “exercise” is put on the “If I can get to it” list for a lot of folks. I understand that. I’ve had to do that. If my child needs to go to the doctor, or we’re almost out of essential groceries, obviously that needs to be handled first. Exercise can wait. But it’s the how long does it have to wait that becomes the problem.

To me, exercise isn’t an added chore, it’s a mental and physical necessity. If I don’t get a bare minimum of exercise in a week, I am one cranky person. I am stressed. I feel gross. It’s just not good. So for me, it’s high on my priority list. I need to fit it in so other aspects of my life can be successful. I can’t exactly be a good mom and wife if I’m cranky and feeling gross, now can I?

So we’ve established that exercise should actually make the list of daily priorities instead of being an extracurricular that would be nice to get to, but how do we stay focused once it’s on the list? Consider these tips and ideas:

  1. Think about your current mood and how exercise can fit with it. If I am super busy and having to make a lot of decisions, I don’t like to lift weights. I don’t want to have to count reps. I don’t want to come up with exercises and ensure I hit key target areas. I want to hit the open road, just me and my music, and zone out while I’m running. But then there are (rare) days when running is the last damn thing I want to do. I don’t have the patience for it. I don’t want to deal with monotony. I need to lift to keep my mind off of something stressing me out. Figure out what you’re in the mood for, and choose that exercise. Otherwise, if you start out not in the mood, you’re going to have a hard time getting into the mood, and giving up is right around the corner.
  2. Figure out what you like about exercise. Exercise should be a happy experience. If you focus on the pain, or disappointment you may feel if you don’t lift enough/run fast enough/swim enough/squat enough, then it won’t be so happy. Do you like exercising with other people? Do you like working out in the morning or the evening? Do you like having a pre-planned workout all setup for you? What about exercising makes you happy you’re doing it? Figure that out and write it into your daily planner, and then it switches from being a chore, to a happy task.
  3. Always have a goal or a mission. I have run in a lot of races. I’ve done a couple full marathons, several half marathons, a couple Spartan Races, and various other events. In November I’ll be doing my first duathlon (biking and running). These events keep me in check. I know I have a race coming up and if I don’t prepare properly, that day will kick my butt in a very bad way, so I have to run/bike/lift/hate life while doing burpees. What’s your goal? Is it just, “I need to work out” because if so, that’s not a long-lasting goal. What are you trying to get out of your exercise today, tomorrow, next week, next month? Do you want to get rid of saggy arms or inner thigh fat? Don’t worry about someone else’s goal, make your own. That will give you a mission for going to the gym and hopefully keep you going so you can reach your goal.
  4. Remember that exercise can be your “thing”. So many times in our lives we are focused on doing things that help other people – meetings to please clients, playground adventures to please kids, delicious dinners to please spouses. But how often is just you doing something that makes you happy? I often have to bring my kids along to the gym with me while they play in a little kid area, that’s in the same room as me……………. They have been yelled at many times as I have listed off all the things I have done for them that day and, “I. Just. Want. To. Exercise.” so they need to shoosh and get along. But when I do get to exercise without them, I enjoy my break from the kids/spouse/friends. It’s MY thing. It’s MY time. It’s all about ME and I like it.

Tell me — What keeps you focused? What takes your focus away?

Stay active, friends!

Dieting

How To Successfully Diet The Paleo Way

For the month of July I took on the challenge of trying out the Paleo Diet. It’s a pretty popular diet most people have heard about, but may not totally understand. Nerd Fitness says it’s pretty well, “If a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you.” Now don’t confuse that with thinking everything must be eaten raw or cooked over a campfire. It just means stay away from processed, man-made, fake food creations. You do have culinary freedom to be creative with the caveman ingredients, and put together some fun meals that will satisfy your taste buds, and make a caveman jealous.

Once you get past the negative connotation that this diet can give off – it’s no fun, it’s not realistic, it’s too difficult – and you sit down and actually give it a try, it’s not that bad. Really. I’m being serious.

What I like about a structured diet is that it has a list of foods that are acceptable to eat, which makes grocery shopping a heck of a lot easier. Here’s the list, and thus that I is what I buy. As this diet does not require you to measure or weigh food, you can literally just throw a bunch of stuff together in a pan or pot and voila, dinner is served! If you struggle with coming up with recipes on your own, and having to switch from your typical go-to meals, simply head on over to Pinterest.

So how does one get started and actually succeed at this diet?

  1. Do a quick read online and understand what the diet entails.
  2. Go in with a positive, excited attitude. If you’re a downer and skeptic from the start, then you’re going to last about two days and likely complain a lot.
  3. Stick with the list, but be realistic. I know hardcore paleo dieters would likely give me grief about this, but if you can’t find (or afford) the organic or grass-fed version of a food item, the regular item is fine if it is still healthier than whatever other alternative you used to eat.
  4. If you don’t want to give up alcohol, switch to red wine. If you don’t like red wine, well there’s more than one type, and likely there is something out there that’ll satisfy your drinking urges.
  5. Prepare for future meals. You don’t have to do an entire meal prep, but for instance, today I will take out meat or fish from the freezer and put it in the fridge so it is ready for breakfast or lunch tomorrow. I don’t want mealtime to come and I’m left with minimal choices, or only bad choices, simply because I didn’t take 15 seconds to thaw out something the day before.

How did my challenge go? After having done the Zone Diet strictly in May, and then semi-strict in June, my body is pretty used to this type of eating now. I had lost several pounds in May and June and my body has stayed the same in July. I think it is now sitting comfortably and I need to give a swift kick to get it going again.

Note: This diet did not have a negative impact on my ability to exercise. I still have plenty of energy. I know for many active folks that is always a concern, but I did not find it to be the case for me. Now if you are completely changing your diet, it may, but in just a short period of time, your body should adjust positively.

I have decided my August challenge will be all about running. I have a half-marathon to run later in the month (that starts at 4:30 AM, ugh!) so my focus will be on discussing tips to get started on a running program, how to stick with it when it sucks, how to improve your endurance, and so on…

Stay healthy and active, friends!