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.

Dieting

Diet Realities

How do you lose weight? We all know the answer to that – diet and exercise. There’s no secret, no magic pill, no cure for being overweight. Change your diet, change the amount you exercise, and voila! Hello weight-loss. But in reality, it’s not quite that simple.

So much of life is mentality. That damn brain calls all the shots. It decides if you’re happy, scared, motivated, and decides if you have the will power to choose cucumbers over crackers.

Somewhere along in life our perception towards food got complicated. Once upon a time there weren’t so many choices. We had to hunt, gather, and go out fishing for our food. (I wonder if the toddlers of those people ever said, “that’s yucky, I don’t want it” to parents of that time?) I don’t know for certain, but do you think back hundreds of years ago, people were concerned about eating too much bread and overloading on carbohydrates? “If you keep all that bread, you’ll be too fat to walk to the water well!”

Diets, though often laid out well for people to follow, can get complicated. Why on one diet is beans okay, and on another they are shunned? Why is corn healthy, but it’ll cause you to bloat? Why are some anti red meat, while others think of it as a good source of protein? All that information coming at you from different sources, all with different opinions, can leave you standing in front of the refrigerator door thinking, “Ahhhh! I don’t know!” I get it. It can be serious mental overload when you’re just trying to make the right decision but you’re not sure what actually is right.

Here’s my advice for any of you who are looking to change your dietary ways:

  • Be realistic. If you eat heavy carbs almost daily, dessert on a regular basis, love sodas and processed snacks, then take your time easing into a new diet. If you decide “Come Monday, I’m not eating pasta, cookies, snacks, or drinking soda again” do you really think you’ll stick to it? Going “cold turkey” on so many items at one time is not going to go well. You’ll be angry. Frustrated. You’ll give up. Take it slow – cut out the soda one week. Then the next week, cut out pasta, or cut out carbs from lunch every day, and eat them during dinner. Or vise versa. (Note: I’m not anti carbs, you need carbs in your life, but the healthy kind that come from fruits and vegetables.)
  • Be honest with yourself. We all think we eat healthy. No one wants to admit they’re putting a bunch of crap into their bodies every single day. Take a good look at your diet. At the end of the day, write down everything you ate. You don’t have to share it with anyone and fear being embarrassed. Be truthful with yourself – did you eat more than you needed? Are the amounts of fruits and veggies too low?
  • Don’t make excuses, just find the source of the problem. Are you overfilling your plate at dinner and just finishing those last few bites you don’t really need because it’s easier than throwing it away, or saving it? Are you filling your plate as much as your husband’s, but he’s 50 lbs heavier than you, so really you shouldn’t be having equal shares? Are you afraid of saying no when people ask you to go out to eat with them? So then you go out, and because you don’t want to get into a long, inwardly frustrating discussion about trying to eat healthier, you order the burger instead of the fish? Find the source of the problem – why can’t you stick to a diet? Why can’t you change your habits. Then fix it.
  • Eating anything better than what you currently do, is “right”. After you’ve figured out the source of your problem, were honest with yourself, and have made the decision to be realistic with changing your dietary habits, you are now faced with the “Okay, so what do I eat”. If you didn’t have enough vegetables in your life before, start there. Even if the corn or the beans make you a little bloated or gassy, it’s still better than munching on a bag of chips. Increase the veggies and fruit, decrease the amount of boxed stuff, and you will see progress.

For the month of July I am trying out the Paleo Diet. It is popular amongst many Crossfit athletes (I don’t do crossfit), and is thought of as the “Cave Man” diet. Basically, if you can’t hunt or gather it, it’s not to be eaten. There’s a lot of common household foods that are on the do-not-eat list, but truthfully it’s pretty simple to follow, just not all that culinarily exciting. Because I previously did the Zone Diet for a month, my will power is quite strong right now. My mentality towards certain foods – pasta, rice, boxed snacks, sugar – has changed. I don’t crave those items. My body has done well without them, thus my brain has rewired itself to not want to gravitate towards those items at all.

Time and patience is critical. I did the Zone Diet for a month. We can do ANYTHING for one month. No seriously, you can. It’s 30 days, not 30 years. That is all the time you need to rewire your brain, change your mentality, and gain the will power to make dietary changes.

And remember, that bad food had to get into your kitchen somehow. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it.

Good luck in the kitchen my friends, you can do this!

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.