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

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!

Fit Mom

The Jogging Stroller: A Love/Hate Relationship

If you’re a parent who has even the slightest care towards staying active, you likely have a jogging stroller. They’re not cheap, but they do often come in handy, even when you’re not jogging. I have run many, many miles with mine, with both of my children (separately, I don’t have a double) but I have never learned how to fold it down. It’s been 5 years with that thing, why bother to learn now?

It’s a serious love/hate relationship with this stroller.

I love that it gives me the option to still run when I do not have childcare for my children. I love that it shows them from an early age that being active should be a regular part of life. After watching my husband and I run through the park, stopping occasionally to do push-ups, my son would ask to get out of the stroller so he could run and do push-ups, when he was just two years old. Teach them while they’re young! They are watching! I love that when I haven’t been able to convince my kids that a nap is a great idea, I’ve put them in the stroller and eventually the motion makes them fall asleep. Dual purpose – fitness and nap accomplished!

I hate how much harder it is to run when pushing a heavy human in a heavy stroller. You might as well throw time and distance goals out the window. I can’t run as fast as I normally can. Mine doesn’t have a swivel front wheel, so while it is is sturdy, it does require a smidgen of extra work when making turns. It also helps if you make sure the wheels are totally pumped up. I’m pretty sure I’ve run with half-flat wheels most of the time. I don’t recommend that. However, if I can run several miles with a stroller, how many can I do when I’m not pushing one?

Moms (and Dads – though I’m not a dude so I can’t truly speak for you), don’t let kids be an excuse for a lack of exercise. Put them in a jogging stroller and let them get some fresh air while you sweat like a pig. Don’t forget their water and snacks! Be prepared to stop frequently. Be prepared for it to not go totally as planned. Know that it’s okay to walk. You can even make it an exciting game – have your kid squeal and cheer you on when you do sprints, then walk for a bit, and repeat. Don’t go past a playground unless it’s near the end of your run. Embrace the difficulty, but know you’re doing something great for you while being a great example for your child.

Keep running, 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!

Exercise Motivation

How To Stay Motivated When It’s Flipping Hot Outside

Today the heat index is 104* F/40* C. It’s a scorcher! As life would have it, mid-afternoon was the only time I could go for a run today, so I embraced the heat. I don’t recommend this for new runners, or anyone not used to this type of climate. I was equipped with my running belt, sunglasses, heatgear shirt, and GU pack. It is possible to go for a decent run in less-than-ideal conditions, but one must be smart about it. I made it 5.15 miles before calling it quits.

So how does one stay motivated to not only sustain a run, but actually go outside and get started on a run when it feels like you’re entering the gates of Hell?

  1. Prep beforehand. Don’t drink a bunch of coffee that elevates your body temperature and heart rate, and then go out into the heat. You will sweat your tail off. The same goes for beer, or even the morning after a booze binge. Drink water, water, and more water.
  2. Don’t leave home without the key survival essentials. Because I live in an area that is always hot, I rarely run without my water belt. I just absolutely need it, or I start daydreaming about water and lose all motivation, plus I could put myself at harm. If you don’t want to wear a water belt, put a water bottle inside your mailbox and take laps back to your house for quick water breaks.
  3. Dress smart. This is pretty obvious, but just in case… You do not need to wear extra layers to sweat more and lose more. Please don’t do that in hot conditions. Wear something that is breathable and comfortable to wear when wet.
  4. Think shade. An open road or path might be great for solidarity and lack of noise, but it also sucks for keeping you shaded. Find trees, tall buildings, wherever you can to keep you out of the sun as much as a possible.

Ok, so these items will help give you a successful run, but maybe they won’t be all you need to motivate yourself to run. When the weather app says “it feels like death” outside, how do you get yourself to say, “screw it, I got this”? A sense of pride and accomplishment always help me. Anyone (healthy) can run in 75* F weather, but who can run in 100*+ weather? Only the truly motivated and tough, right? Be that tough person. Be that person that says, “No excuses.” Know that if you can run in hot, sunny, or humid conditions, how much better will your run be on that cool, breezy day? You’ll appreciate that cooler climate, that’s for darn sure. Your body will be stronger. Your body will be tougher. Your mind and heart will be more dedicated.

Stay healthy, friends, and remember to drink your water!

Exercise Motivation

Why We Should Support Our Fitness Friends

I believe one of the absolute best foundations a person can live by is to be a supporter, not a competitor. I’m not saying participating in competitions is bad – that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m a huge believer in participating in races, going for your dreams, trying to the best you, you can be. What I’m talking about is more comparing yourself to others in a competitive manner.

So you exercised five days a week, gave up pantry snacks, and your friend lost weight but you didn’t. That’s frustrating, I know. It doesn’t feel fair, does it? But what’s the alternative – she gain weight? She become sad? Is that what you actually want for your friend, for the sake of keeping things “fair”? No! For your own sanity, your friendship, and for you to be the person that shines a positive light on others, congratulate her. Tell her your proud of her, and keep doing you, boo.

Since becoming a mother, I have noticed how excited a child is when they see him/herself in the mirror. You ever notice that? A toddler is all smiles and excitement! Simply pure joy to see their face, their outfit, their crazy post-nap hair. If we all looked out ourselves in the mirror with the same excitement of a child, we’d be a much happier world. But so many people will look in the mirror and start pointing out the negatives. They start comparing their hair/face/make-up/body/attire to someone else, or to some standard. Again – comparing and competing only does harm to ourselves.

A gym should be an encouraging, happy place. Personally I never pay attention to other people at a gym – It’s “me” time – and I firmly believe the perception that people are being judged while there is just something people have made up in their heads from being self-conscious and uncomfortable in that setting. Yes, I am certain judgments have happened, but screw those people. They are likely few and far. If you’re severely overweight, don’t think someone at the gym is judging you negatively for being there. You’re there! You’re trying! If you’re walking on the treadmill and the person next to you is running and slinging sweat everywhere (I hate when that happens) it’s okay. You don’t have to run. Tell them they’ve done a good job – even the pros need an encouraging, positive word now and then.

Don’t compare. Be supportive. And if you want to wear a princess dress while doing TRX, put on that tiara and do your thing girl.

General Fitness

The Strength of Life

I’m supposed to be writing about strength training this month, as that’s what I promised to whoever follows me on Facebook and Instagram, but I have something on my heart so I’m going to stray off topic. But it’s just a smidge off, I promise. Hopefully it’s worth it to someone other than me.

We take care of our bodies. We wreck our bodies. We carefully prepare each meal, or we eat whatever want. In the end – and I mean the real end – it only partially matters.

Yes, eating healthy and exercising gives us the energy to grab life by the balls and live it fully. Yes, it will keep us from getting certain diseases and impairments. But when our last day comes, there is only so much we can could have done to prevent it. I would like to think that most of us don’t say, “Well my life was great – I traveled, I loved, but… I never fit into that smaller size I always wanted to be.”

My races and physical challenges that I have embraced have made me proud, and I’m not afraid to be proud. I think somewhere in childhood we learn to be scared to be proud of ourselves in fear of coming across as arrogant. There’s a difference and it should be easy to spot. If you gave yourself a challenge, or were confronted with some tough obstacles, and overcame them, then yes be proud of yourself. Tell us on Facebook. That’s not bragging. If we’re really your friends, we’ll be proud of you too.

But with an effort towards leading a decently healthy lifestyle, I still don’t know when my final day will come, as you likely don’t either. Most don’t. I will still eat my vegetables. I will still exercise, because I firmly believe that most people who exercise are generally happy people. There are still those bad eggs in the bunch, but typically we’re happy, encouraging folks.

Live the life you want to live. Eat ice cream. Go for runs. Feel the pain in your limbs when you’re climbing obstacles. Find the vegetables you actually enjoy, and say “F That” to the ones you don’t. Life is too short to eat horrible food, but too long to not give a damn.

And because I did promise to talk about strength training… How can one fully get the benefits of life if they don’t feed their muscles? I have young children who still want to be held at times, and if I didn’t work on my arms and back, I’d wreak havoc on my body. I can’t lose that precious, fleeting time with them, so if it means spending time with weights and a bar, I’ll do it. They want to run around the yard, ride bikes, jump on the trampoline. Mommy couldn’t do that if she didn’t strengthen her legs. I’m not a “sit on the sidelines” kind of person. I hope you don’t want to be either.

So keep living, y’all. Lift a few weights. Go a run or walk and feel the fresh air all around.

Until next time…

Exercise Motivation

Why do you want to exercise?

Welcome to my blog. It’s nice to have you here.

So why do you want to exercise? Or diet? And how can my page help you on your journey?

I’m Jen, and I’m “normal”. I don’t stray too far on either side of the fitness or healthy eating spectrum. I believe exercise is a vital part of life. I prefer to do some level of activity everyday, but dedicate 30-90 minutes of structural exercise 3-6 days a week. I know and appreciate the value of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, and minimal fats in my diet. But, I also understand when you’re in a new country or on vacation, that carpe diem should be applied to one’s diet.

So yes, I’m normal. But I also consider myself a motivated person, and I have had a few people tell me I’ve motivated them on their fitness journeys, even when I hadn’t intentionally tried to.

Why do you want to exercise? Is it is for your own mental and physical well-being? Is it because a medical professional told you you have to? Is it because you feel the social pressure to do so? Before one can succeed at reaching any sort of exercise goal, this question must be answered. You must also figure out if it’s a strong enough reason to keep you motivated. I exercise because I like it. I like watching myself overcome a fitness feat I had doubt I could reach. Mentally speaking, if I don’t exercise for a few days, I get really grumpy. Physically I feel a little gross. But that’s me. Those are my reasons. That is part of my exercise journey. What are your reasons? What keeps you motivated?

Why do you want to diet? I know you’ve heard this before, but doing a diet without any plan to change how you eat for the rest of your life is doomed to fail. If you stick to a diet for 2 months, good for you. But if you return to a previous, unhealthy way of eating immediately afterwards, well then what was the point?

How can my page help you? If you hadn’t already read on my Facebook page, or from following me on Instagram, I am on a mission to try out different exercise and diet plans over several months. I will give honest feedback on how the plans are going, and whether they live up to the claims we all hear about. For the month of May, I checked out the Zone Diet, which is very popular among crossfitters (I am not one). During June I will continue the Zone Diet, but without it being the main topic of focus, as I will be dedicating this month to Strength Training. I hope you join me!