Rant Warning: Assess This

Yeah………….I get a little jacked up about the old BMI topic.

I got a little jacked up again today.  I read THIS ARTICLE by The New York Times.  

Super interesting.

I don’t understand the point of assessing everyone by BMI if we don’t assess individual habits/behavior/lifestyle.  Like, you can go to the doctor’s office and find out your are obese only to be told that you need to lose weight, potentially without guidance of how to lose weight (safely, effectively, sustainably).  Or, you can go online and calculate your own BMI and find out it is in the “healthy” range, only, in the back of your head, you know something is going on because you can’t sleep through the night without waking up stressed to the max about a 100 different things happening in your life right now and can’t imagine waking up on Monday morning with dread because you are going to a job that you loathe.

I mean, what if I’m a healthy BMI but live off diet coke and Marlboros? Will I cost less to my insurer even if my BMI is on point?

Or what if BMI says “Yo, you’re obese,” and I have the healthiest relationship to food or exercise that I have ever had, and manage stress well and sleep at night?

Or what if BMI says healthy and I eat well, sleep well, move well?

Or what if BMI says “Yo, you’re obese,” and I don’t care about the fact that I’m obese?

This assessment doesn’t make any sense to me, because it measures weight against height and that’s it, but it is the end all be all assessment because it is the easiest to measure.  It doesn’t measure if I’m happy, depressed, successful, miserably performing at my job because I hate it, have piles of credit card debt from shopping because instead of eating my feelings, I’m shopping them, or if I just gave birth to my daughter and I decided that I will not let her have a mommy who doesn’t love herself so she learns to love herself so she can raise a daughter who loves HER self.

What if instead of lumping us into groups of healthy, overweight, semi-obese (or whatever it is), and obese….we measured by 1) eats appropriately 2) moves often 3) takes steps to maintain life balance and 4) likes the person that they are?  And if the measurements are off, how about a little guidance on who to take steps to get to that point so when we assess AGAIN in the future, there is a change in a positive direction instead of just assessing for the sake of assessing.

I don’t enjoy measurements for the sake of taking measurements. Obviously.  And it doesn’t end with BMI :)

Do you?

A Case For More Food: Update And Increase!

Here is a brief update from my initial post – A Case For More Food: My Story (so far)…..

Really, here is what I want you to know.  I LOVE my eating habits.  Because of my “diet mindset” history and always focusing on less versus more or expansion, I have trouble “getting enough” in the food department.  That is literally the basis of this whole little science experiment.  I don’t *want* to NOT be awesome in the gym and in the food department, I just don’t always know how to listen yet to the right signals my body is giving me….because I ignored them for so many years.   So, I have been experimenting with actually counting calories, and not so much focusing on the calorie number (although this is where alllll the other things I do keep an eye on point to), but rather I tend to focus on the macro nutrients that support that overall calorie number.

(and, I’ll be bold….I don’t think I’m alone in this little game)

Anyways….I believe it’s been about a week and a half since I posted last.  Here is BASICALLY the gist of what I’m doing.  I’m trying to get a decent amount of protein in (roughly .7 grams per pound of my body weight).  I’m trying to get 80-90 grams of fat per day, focusing on those ones we *know* are good for us – avocado, cooking with EVOO/walnut oil (I’d love to cook with coconut oil but I can’t find one that gives me jazz hands), nuts and some nut butters, etc.  “The rest” belongs to carbohydrates.  I’m stacking them around workouts, and eating an even amount per meals that aren’t stacked around my workouts.  And some days I’m just eating them and not worrying about stacking them.  So there’s that.  The basics are…..I’ve been at about 2600-2700 calories on workout days for some time….like since April/May.  Rest days are generally 2000-2200 since that same time frame.

In the past week and a half I’ve started to ramp both of those up.  Mostly because I want to see where I can go for a bit.  So, I’ve been upping my carbohydrates just slightly on rest and workout days, roughly trying to get more like 2700-2800 calories on workout days, and 2200-2300 on rest days.  Like, let’s push the envelope a little.  I hope to do this for a few more weeks.  Then, possibly if I feel good about it and up to it, spending a focused period of time….like 8-ish weeks, on pure fat loss, and dropping those workout day intakes and rest day intakes just slightly.

Look, I’m strong as an ox.  I have enough muscle.  The training I do supports muscle, and even if I do decide to eat a bit less, I’m not too worried about maintaining that muscle gold that I have.  Feeding myself a little less during that time….well, that will take care of the body fat a bit.  And just for that little window of time.  Then I will ramp up those calories again.  You know, science experiment.

The thing that I want to write about here is this.  I’m basically on a reverse diet right now.  I spent a good 4-ish months ramping up to and eating an “amount” that supports my current weight, activity, habits, and the rest of my life.  I’ve stayed here deliberately without changing things for a couples of reasons – I want to “learn” what an appropriate intake feels like for me.  I want to know how I feel and am SUPPOSED to feel.  I want my body to feel very safe and know it’s getting fed every day.  I want to be so comfortable here that I know the signs of NOT feeling this way so I can identify when I get off base down the road.  You know?  I am LEARNING how to be here.

My weight has remained very stable during this time, without crazy swings, which tells me I am sort of at an appropriate intake.  Even while eating at a level that is “maintenance” for me….I have still made body comp changes.  I’m building muscle, and losing a little fat along the way.  Without really trying at all.  Which I love.

I’m experimenting with eating slightly more right now because my Fitbit tells me I have a LOT more activity than I’m actually eating for some days.  and I know Fitbits are NOT 100% accurate, but some days I really DO move a ton, in non-exercise fashion, that really does take a lot of energy.  Then there are some days where I am not moving as much and some days I find myself being a total slug.  I’m sorta trying to decide if I’m being a slug because my body actually needs a little more energy some days, or if it’s because some days I just want to be a slug :)

The other two non-exercise or food related things I’m focused on right now are managing stress through journaling and taking down time and also trying to average 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  I’d like to push that sleep number up a bit, but I’m feeling pretty good right now with what is happening currently, because my sleep has been quality sleep.

I have to say, 10 years ago, when I first started seriously working out and dabbling in the diet department, I would never DREAM of eating this amount of food.  And feeling good about it, and feeling good about myself……because I thought you had to suffer to “be there.”  And, “this amount” of food isn’t too much food, it’s actually just an appropriate intake that I’m not used to because of that stupid diet mindset for so long. Those days, I was all “if I’m not exhausted at the end of the workout” it wasn’t enough of a workout.  If I wasn’t keeping my food intake low, I was “going to get fat.” I wish me then would have known what Me now knows, because we could have saved a lot of drama.  I also wished I would have worked on stress management and sleeping in those days too :).  Sleeping when you are dead is NOT a good motto to live by, and that used to be my go-to.

Bottom line, you don’t need to starve yourself.  Even if you aren’t exercising to be an athlete.  Even if you are just picking up toddlers and kiddos all day long, and jamming out to Shrek and Despicable Me.  All movement counts and matters.  Eating an intake that supports YOU and YOUR LIFE and YOUR WEIGHT and YOUR ACTIVITY matters.  This isn’t sexy and isn’t what sells but it absolutely works and is sustainable and probably the most relaxed I’ve felt about any of this in a very, very, VERY long time.

Peace out!

Meal Prep: Half Prepared?

Last week was pretty typical over here.  We were HALF prepared.  Meaning, we made a LOT of one or two things, and went from there for the week.  And, we sorta ate out a little more than ideal too.  Like, to the point that eating out isn’t a “treat” but more because we haven’t prioritized mealtime at home so much.  Which I think will get back in line :)

Anyways……

We grilled a bunch of chicken breasts…..

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Also made this week…..a “noodle salad base” which is essentially a whole box of penne (your choice on whole grain or which kind of pasta you like), 4 tablespoons olive oil mayo, and a few squirts of mustard, salt and pepper, and some peas.  All mixed together and cooled, and ready to mix with whatever protein you have post workout.  AND….cucumber salad – sliced cucumbers and onion, and equal parts vinegar and sugar, and some salt and pepper, left to soak for an hour or so before eating.

So, here are variations of all that…..

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(sometimes you just have to have a bowl of oatmeal for desert after your meal of chicken and cucumber salad)

We are also a fan of oatmeal sausage (Gritzwurst?) and eat it from time to time….homemade….from my grandparents.  Definitely not the leanest of proteins, but dang it is YUM.  So here it is….alongside leftover beef roast, with beans and tomatoes….YUMMMMMM.

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Then, I got my hands on some beets this week!  YUM.  So I roasted them (tossed with EVOO, salt and pepper first), and we ate them a variety of ways.  Most importantly, I told my kid they taste like candy and she believed me :)

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And finally, a fun protein pancake recipe that TASTED good, but wasn’t quite enough food for breakfast (for me, after a few days of working out).  I need to figure out how to make one and a half times this recipe I think……

IMG_0411Recipe for the pancakes are 1/2 scoop oats, 1/4 c milk, 1/2 a scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1 egg, and half a banana….all whirred together in the blender and then regular pancake making rules apply…..pour in thin layers in a pan with some oil in it….flip when tops are beginning to bubble, and finish cooking on the second side.  Pretty yummy!  Not dry at all like typical protein pancake recipes….give these a whirl!

So this week, I don’t have ANYTHING prepped, aside from a chicken breast we still have to eat, and some ham steak pulled out for the grill.  But we have plenty of veggies and starchy stuff (potatoes and rice) on hand to eat, so I’m sure SOMETHING will get made in the next couple days to help us out.

How are YOU meal prepping this week?  Or what are your favorite go to meals when you are hard up for something yummo to eat?

 

A Case For More Food: My Story (so far)

Here we go again.  Talking about FOOD.

You guys, if you’ve ever effed yourself over and dieted for like long periods of time (or attempted to diet, or had shitty feelings towards food, or just a sketchy relationship in general), well, this one is for you.

I’ve spent a lot of energy dealing with food issues and insecurities.  A LOT.  I’ve read about it, taken the PN course on it, taken certifications on it, and allll that stuff.

But at the end of the day, I’m still a female, who loves to move heavy shit around that requires energy, who has a little devil in the back of her head that sometimes skews the story related to food and all that stuff and likes to say…….”it’s ok to not eat so much for meals, maybe we can drop a few pounds” regardless of if I’m eating enough for my activity or my recovery.  Basically, I’m human.  And I have some sketchy little food issues buried down deep.  Regardless of if I WANT them around, they still ARE around, because stuff like this doesn’t die easy, you know?

Anyways, I digress.  I’m getting off course.  I’ll try to stay on topic.

Back when I was still prepping for the RKC, at least right before I started my training program…..well, I was having fun and moving tons of weight.  And I was eating pretty much according to my habits (eating protein and veggies at each meal, plus a starchy something, plus hauling in water).  Training was whatever, and even though I had a blast it wasn’t super duper serious.  So my food stuff was going great, I was eating in a way that felt good for me.

Here is where it pays to NOT be your own coach sometimes (because if you coach yourself, you can often screw yourself over because your emotions are involved…..instead of just facts and data).

My food stuff didn’t change.  But the purpose, volume, intensity and DRIVE in my workouts HAD to change, and DID.  Because I was beginning to zero in on specificity and training to complete specific things by specific dates with specific weights and performance measures attached to them.  I feel like I should have been the FIRST one to realize this, but of course….I’m usually late to the party in this department.  What would make sense if one went from kickin’ it and having fun and doing whatever to “I have to rock and pass the RKC with AT LEAST 16kg kettlebells?”  Would it make more sense to A) keep playing loosey goosey and hope for good performance in workouts and wonder why you don’t feel like working out sometimes or B) up your food intake to accommodate a higher training load (or at the very least, keep a close eye on it)?

Yeah, I spent a bit of time doing “A” when I should have been doing more “B.”  Of course, what happens here then is you can get into a training rut (and a life rut!).  Where you wonder why your workouts sucks, and that your drive isn’t there and you don’t even CARE if it’s there.  This is the sucky spot because you still need to perform, but you don’t desire to.  And it’s a mind game because it is usually something you love.  So you question yourself, and doubt yourself, and wonder if you are *ever* gonna figure it out (Cliff’s note, NO, you don’t….you just keep learning).

Since I like to know where I’m at as a baseline before I make change….I decided to try not to change how I was eating for a few weeks, and decided to track my food intake.

First off…yes, tracking calories can be somewhat arbitrary.  There is always a margin of error.  And it’s tedious.  But at least it gave me some data, you know?  And so I could sort of have an average to work from.

Well…..here is the perfect storm.  I was following my habits (protein/veggies/carbs/water), and what I thought were appropriate amounts.  Those amounts that were defaults for me.  That seemed like they were how I should eat.  And of course, old food insecurities always show up when they aren’t wanted, and so I just assumed I was eating the way I should be….I mean, it looked healthy, so it should be healthy and enough, right?  Well, I determined my baseline intake.  I was averaging about 1600 calories on a rest day.  1800-1900 calories on a training day.

You guys, I don’t know what to tell you here.  I’m not a small individual.  I have muscle on me, and some body fat.  I’m not little.  I love moving the hell out of iron so I’m strong.  And training for the RKC meant about four serious training days in the gym focusing on VOLUME and moving weight and being stable, and snatching bells at high intensity, and staying safe, and for the love of all that’s holy, all those double front squats in my training program, and one day of moderate work.  My old diet mindset had won.  I was eating to try and shrink (although somewhat unknowingly) and not eating to fuel my performance.

And my energy and enthusiasm surrounding my workouts and sort of life in general relayed the message to me every day that I wasn’t eating enough, but I just wasn’t getting it.  Like I said, I’m sometimes the last one to the party when it comes to this kind of stuff.  Even though the signs were there – low energy and enthusiasm surrounding workouts, soreness and not quite recovering as well as I’d like, and finding myself “always picking up a quick something to eat” if I was away from home.  Like, I always needed an excuse to eat something that was either a snack, or a meal out, or something just a little bit not my norm because I deserved a treat (even though this was the simplest way my body was having me eat more calories because it just wanted energy).

My steps next were fairly simple.  Increase my food intake slowly over time to see where I could “land” where I was keeping a stable weight, feeling great during workouts, feeling HUNGRY for food, recovering well, and where I felt nourished.

I kept a slow climb in calories, usually about 100-ish a week increase.  I made sure my protein target was set to about .7-.8 grams per pounds of body weight, I kept my fat in the 75-85 gram range, and then the rest were carbs.

I’m going to save you the details of the slow climb.  But at the peak, at least during RKC training, I was getting about 2600-2700 calories in on training days without my weight/body circumference being affected.

Compare 1800 calories prior to this and 2700 calories at the peak of RKC training.  That is a 900 calorie difference on training days.  I was NOT eating to perform in the beginning, I was stuck in that old diet mindset.

Let me tell you how I know I was in the right place when I was at the 2700 calorie number.  My appetite started to come back once I started feeding myself appropriately.  Also, I started to have more energy during the day, and not like I could constantly take a nap.  Oh, my workouts?  I went from pissing and moaning about 16kg kettlebells to “holy crap, these are getting light and let’s hit 20kg’s!”  My recovery was better and faster, and I wasn’t getting that sore muscle annoying stuff.  And my sleep was getting MORE SOUND.  Because I was eating at an appropriate level for my size, my daily activity and my training.  And I was no longer pre-occupied with treats, because I was actually making an effort to eat appropriate sized meals throughout the day.

You guys, if I was packing in 2700 calories a day on a training day, why in the hell do I see ladies trying to starve themselves on 1200 calories a day and trying to rock a Crossfit workout?  Or a marathon training plan?  Or being a figure competitor?  This is a topic for another day, but it is one that I’m super sensitive to, and we need to address this.

So, the RKC came and went.  I stayed in the 2600-2700 range on training days for about a month after even after my workouts dropped in intensity.  So I was probably eating a bit too much then, because my level of leanness changed a bit, but whatevs.  Since then my activity and training has changed once again and I’m at a range where that level of intake on training days is pretty good, although I’m probably going to try to push the envelope again here soon to see if I can take it just a tad higher.

Moral of the story – if I’m continuously doing all the things to build a healthy strong body with a healthy strong metabolism…..look at where I can take my calories.  And once I’m in those high levels, look at where I can go?  I mean, I can drop 200-300 calories a day and drop a little body fat if I want, without really noticing just too much gone in the food department each day.  Could I do that if my calorie level was 1200 or 1500 calories?  Heck no.  I’ve literally built myself into a calorie burning machine.  That has options.

I plan on sharing my next steps here with you.  I think it’s super interesting.  And I think it debunks every crappy thing about the diet and fitness industry that are so often thrown in our faces.  We don’t need to live off 1500 calorie meal plans and be miserable.  We CAN eat and move and live for EXPANSION and not to be all consumed with being less and taking up as little space as possible.  This doesn’t mean we all turn into oompa loompas in the next month either.

I’m treating this as a science experiment on myself.  And I’d like to share with you.  I’ve been paying attention to my calories burned numbers on my Fitbit, and on training days, they fall into that 3000 calorie range, and I don’t even have the Fitbit that monitors heart rate, I have the one that monitors steps only….so it is probably a little low on that calorie range.  I’m going to spend the next few weeks pushing upwards on my intake if I can, so long as there are no upward changes in body size/weight.  And so long as my workout performance continues to be awesome, and my energy stays great and I feel good.  Like I said, a science experiment.

Here are a few things you should know right now related to all this:

– This is specific to ME, not “all women across America” and everyone has their own specifics (but I will be so bold as to say that many women suffer from a diet mindset and probably undereat quite a bit without knowing it, only to feel like a failure if they binge later….even if it’s their body’s way of getting the calories they so desperately need).

– Even though it *sounds* like I train a lot, I wouldn’t say that I do.  I’m lifting and doing some moderate swings about four times per week.  I’m also doing *easy* jogging intervals (like 1 min slow jog, combined with 2 min slow recovery walk) with my husband and kid *sometimes*.

– I walk for funsies and don’t power walk.  And I do living room yoga like twice a week :)

– When I ramped up my food intake….I didn’t just throw a bunch of calories into the mix each day and hope for the best.  I tried very hard to take a gradual step up so I wasn’t all crazy about food and didn’t feel bloated or icky.  I also wanted to find my “threshold” of where I could eat the most, train where I wanted to, and NOT put on pounds that weren’t muscle related.

– I have actually started weighing myself again freely, without any attachment to the number or any weird feelings about it in general.  Basically, I think it is really interesting to go between training day calories and rest day calories and see things bounce around but generally stay the same.

– I’m not trying to lose weight.  Or gain weight.  I’m trying to stay stable here for a bit and possibly (if my head is right) do a very short and small fat loss stint in a month or so, and then push the envelope AGAIN in the calorie department.  You know…science experiment :)

– I’m scared to death to share this with all you, because it makes me vulnerable and insecure but food “ick” plagues a lot of people, and I’m no different.  So maybe this is helpful, who knows.

Stay tuned! *nervous laugh*

(Consider this the new training log.  I’m bored writing training logs!)

 

 

 

Meal Prep: Perfectly Unprepared

Cliff’s Notes of meal planning for last week…..I made a bunch of pork chops, chicken breast, and ribs!  That’s about it :)

So here you go……

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Pork chop with a pile of horseradish, potatoes, and CORN!!

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Breakfast bowl!  Leftover pork chop, potato, corn and onion scrambled up in a pan with an egg!

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GIANT baked potato with sugar snap peas and pork chop…..(pork chops are yummy.  I could eat them for almost every meal).

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A random snack I made last week…..2% plain Greek yogurt mixed with dry ranch and taco seasoning, and I used a few tortilla chips and mini peppers for a shovel :)

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Super simple….ground beef (highly peppered), rainbow rotini, shredded mozzarella, and I believe there were some peas or some sort of frozen veggie hiding at the bottom as well….I can’t remember.

IMG_0333Ribs and baked potatoes!  I ate a few rib meals (and one was breakfast).

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Chicken breast, apple, shredded marble jack, red onion, romaine, croutons.  So simple.  So yum.  I had two or three of these last week.

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Strawberry cheesecake protein bombs!  Basically, I halved up strawberries, and mixed together 2% plain Greek yogurt with sugar free instant pudding mix – cheesecake flavor, and piped that intro the strawberries.  Sprinkled graham cracker crumbs over the top :)

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Sometimes you have to eat cheese with a huge ass side of cheeseballs for a snack during shark week :)

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Yummy breakfast…..two slices of french toast, oatmeal sausage, banana and grapes and a side of tomatoes.  Simple, tasty, and kept me full for a LONG time.

I didn’t “plan” anything as far as meals go at all last week.  Each time I made some sort of protein (the pork chops, chicken and ribs)….I just made a conscious effort to make A LOT of them so we could eat them throughout the week.  Honestly, this is how I normally roll, and it just saves a lot of time making meals if protein is already taken care of.

For the coming week, I don’t have tons of grand plans either, just more of the same.  I have a beef roast cooking right now in the crockpot, so that will probably make some meal pics next week :)

 

 

Dear TM: Should I Be More Strict?

I get a LOT of questions about nutrition and working out, given the nature of my business (personal trainer and foodie coach, which I group under the umbrella “I want to help you feed yourself and move your body because you LOVE yourself,” except I can’t figure out a cool way to say that yet).

Following is one question I get at least weekly, if not more often.  So, I thought it was worthy of a blog post so I can write down my response and the “why” behind it.  Here it is:

“I need to lose “x” amount of pounds by “x” date for my wedding/reunion/summer/major life milestone and I’ve TRIED EVERYTHING.  I’ve done the shakes, I’ve tried low carb, then low-fat, then Paleo, then Weight Watchers, and a detox and can’t move my weight down.  I don’t have willpower and I’m wondering if I need something a bit stricter to get me going.  Can you help me?”

And this is generally my response:

Congratulations on your !  I hear you about being on every plan under the sun.  Nutrition can be overwhelming.  Every where you turn, there is a new “plan” to follow.  Or a new superfood.  Or a new way to combine or not combine carbs and fat to make you a beast in the gym.  Or a fancy Pinterest workout written by someone who doesn’t know your body or have experience putting together workouts, but says you should do their magical 100 day squat challenge because it will give you a nice butt.

I feel you.  I was overwhelmed for a really, really long time.  I felt lost, and like I was able to take two steps forward only to find myself taking twice as many steps back.  It is easy to feel “stuck.”

Wanting to make a change is an admirable goal.  And from how we see physical transformation in the media – where it comes from either very strict diets or workout regiments, or “just eating clean,” or following this strict ass 90 day program that must either inflict physical pain or such mental chaos through intensely disciplined food intake  that we become a little neurotic- has now become “the norm.”

Except, those things aren’t necessarily the truth.  They become the truth for you for a bit in those moments of insecurity when you are like……”YES, I’ll give my right arm to look as jacked as that so long as I can change from THIS” and thus you find yourself trying to be “disciplined” and follow the program.   And you do!  For a few days or a week, or maybe even a few weeks.  Until you realize you effing hate it.  And you skip a workout and skip the healthy dinner you pre-portioned in your tupperware.  And you eat pizza delivery and watch Real Housewives instead and feel like a slug.

And you feel like a failure.  So this might drag on for a few days until you find the next program, or the next thing, or the next diet…..the thing that SURELY must be the thing to help you “finally get there.”

Only, it was too much once again.  And that failure feeling returns.

I know this is a long story and a lot of words to get to my point, but I think it is important.

My answer (and I’m not a health professional…..I’m a personal trainer and nutrition coach certified through a few different organizations….and someone with a shitty past with food and exercise, so please take the time you need to choose YOUR best path with the help and guidance you need):

No.  I don’t believe being “more strict” will get you anywhere.  I think it will allow you to keep spinning your wheels and never get anywhere.  For a long time to come, if you keep trying to be more strict or follow diet plan after diet plan.

My honest answer here (and this is NOT sexy at all)…..is that you need to make ONE change that you feel like you can NAIL everyday for the next two weeks.  This change needs to be small enough that you KNOW you can nail it.  It should be a small one.  Maybe you know what that change should be.  If you don’t, I have a GREAT one for you.  It is this…..take five minutes of action first thing in the morning, like right out of bed after you hit “brew” on the coffee maker, and do something that will make your day flow easier.  Each day that “thing” might be different – it could range from throwing a roast in the crockpot one day, to sketching out a to-do list of all the stuff you need to get done today so you can clear out all the mental clutter in your head and quiet your mind.  It can even be writing in a gratitude journal to set the course of your day.  The point is that you conquer five minutes of action each and every day….for two weeks, or as long as necessary to make it second nature.

Whatever your change is, it needs to be DOABLE every day, which probably means it might seem very small and very silly and like it isn’t worth the effort.

Except it isn’t silly.  Because it will net you actionable things each day, and build your confidence.  Because you did it.  You finished something you set out to, only worrying about one day at a time.

You know what you can do in two weeks, after that first “thing” is easy?  You can pick another thing.  And get awesome at it.   My personal suggestion here (remember, based on my personal experience with my own past) is that, if physical change is desired….begin incorporating a lean protein at every interval you eat.  That will take you places.  It really will.  The size here depends on a ton of factors, so I will leave it very general.

Of course, things like eating veggies and drinking water and not utilizing booze as a food group all come into play as well.

So do having a regular self-care practice, getting enough shut-eye, managing stress, moving your body appropriately, and enjoying all your strengths instead of criticizing all your faults.

You know what this is *really* called in real life?  It is called moderation.  Which is sort of like the intersection of eating for health and sometimes for pure enjoyment, but finding your balance of where that lies.  It is also called moving your body in a way that makes you FEEL good and use energy appropriately.  And rest to restore that energy.  And say nice things to yourself instead of always talking down.  Oh, and respecting your time and saying no sometimes.  There are probably a bunch of other things inside the realm of “moderation”….these are just some things that spring into my head.

Lots of words, yes?

All of this is worth the effort.  Eat to nourish and enjoy.  Move because you WANT to in ways that don’t cause pain.  Get your tail in bed at night and try to clock 7-8 hours.  De-stress.

That is the most “strict” I would make it.  Find where you can live comfortably in that intersection.  If you get tempted by some sort of “hardcore” plan…..get it our of your sight.  Unsubscribe, unfollow, or hide posts from your social media feed.  Don’t buy ridiculous magazines that promote “the next big thing.”  Keep this garbage out of your head.

So, was this a specific answer?  Not really.  It was a story, but it also has alllll the points I try to hit with my clients at some point or another.  It also doesn’t always jive with what is thrown in the face of my clients through that “typical” vision of dieting or workout programs.  So it seems wrong.  Except….once you begin, it isn’t so difficult or overwhelming, and it has a bit of a relaxed feel to it.

My final piece of advice….stop dieting altogether and just begin to eat things that make your body feel great, energetic, and nourished.  Take the time to find out what those are.  And consider trying to build up your strength.

(Need help sorting through the maze that is fitness and food?  You can reach me at tmwellnessrevolution at gmail dot com)

 

Fitbit: How To Increase Your Movement Without Noticing

This is my third Fitbit post!  Which might make me seem a little boring, but at the same time…..this is a great little tool for tracking movement.

Here is the deal.  Everyone on the planet knows that they can generally benefit from “moving more,” right?  Movement doesn’t come as easy as it used to now that we can just get everything handed to us without going anywhere on our handle little smartphones.

And then since things like pedometers, Fitbits , Jawbones, and the like have become popular, we are now a nation a little obsessed with steps.  I guess the “you are a super awesome human if you get this many steps each day” target is 10,000 steps per day, or roughly the equivalent of five miles.

So, here is the deal.  You might get 10,000 steps per day, or you might get 1,000 steps per day.  Or you might get 20,000 steps per day.  You know what?  None of this matters.  Not one of those numbers matters.  What could possibly matter for you is what you need to know about your step counts.

If you know you could benefit from moving a little more, basically all you need to know is how much you move currently.  This doesn’t necessarily mean “exercise.”  This means general movement during your day – walking between the stove and fridge while you are cooking dinner.  Walking to the mailbox to get the mail.  Standing up from your desk and walking across the office to the printer.  That kind of movement.  Not “I ran six miles” type movement (although that is also tracked with these devices as well).

You can use any type of device to figure out your current movement.  A good way to get an accurate idea of how much you move on average is to wear your device for a week.  At the end of the week, you probably have a pretty good idea of how many steps you average per day.  This is POWERFUL because you now know “where you are.”  This is your current reality, whether or not this is where you want to stay.  You know?

From here, if you desire to increase your movement, you can build yourself a target.  Of course, if you are sitting at an average of 2,500 steps per day, you could go balls to the walls and shoot for 10,000……but I wouldn’t recommend it.  That’s four times your average, and maybe it might happen once or twice during the week….but that probably isn’t a likely scenario.  Or at the very least, you might have a hard time sustaining it.

So, an easy fix is this – shoot for a 5-10% increase for a week.  So, if you are that 2,500 step per day person, you would be looking for an additional 125-250 steps per day.   This is likely an extra trip or two down into the basement of your house to collect the laundry from the dryer.  Or a trip outdoors to the swing set to swing with your toddler for 10 minutes before making your way back into the house.  Does this seem overwhelming?  Probably not so much.

This is the most un-sexy movement advice ever, but IT WORKS.  BECAUSE YOU CAN SUSTAIN IT, meaning you can repeat this realistically every day.   And once you get good at that new increase of 125-250 steps per day, you can increase THAT number by 5-10%.  Then you can get comfortable THERE for a bit, and increase again.  Do you see what is happening here?

Here is the deal:  CONSISTENCY is a game changer.  As a personal trainer, I would rather have my clients play this 5-10% increase in overall movement game than have them do some INSANE workout program for 30 days and burnout only to slack on movement for the next year because they took on too much in the beginning.  Those little 5-10% increases will yield them SO MUCH MORE in the form of consistency, overall increased energy expenditure, and CONFIDENCE from seeing progress than pushing themselves HARD for 30 days.

You can track all this with paper and pencil if you want to.  You can wear an activity tracker.  Or you might be one of those types that doesn’t want to track at all, but just wants to park farther away from the shopping mall so you get a little extra movement in sometimes.  Whatever.  The point is that we might need to move more, but we don’t need to go crazy and bite off more than we can chew.

I feel like I say this all the time, but small changes over time, practiced CONSISTENTLY, yield BIG THINGS.

PS – it is absolutely okay to make changes in increments of 5-10%.  You can SUSTAIN these.  And in a year, you will be LIGHT YEARS ahead of the people who went balls to the walls for 30 days, only to burn out.  Help me make the “I make small changes” concept cool!

PPS – I currently wear a Fitbit Flex and love it, but have been considering a Fitbit Charge.  If you have the Charge….please let me know what you think of it (or consider writing a product review for me)!  Or….if you have an activity tracker that you love….I’d love to hear about it!

Meal Prep: I Still Heart Food

 

Yeah, I sorta meal prepped last week, and we sorta winged it too.

Started with homemade marinara!  Half a red onion, two green bell peppers plus one banana pepper (needed to use it) chopped up roughly, salted and peppered and sauteed in olive oil.  When they were starting to turn brown, I added two heaping spoons of minced garlic, a sprinkle or two of Italian seasoning, and a can and a half of crushed tomatoes.  I let this simmer for a bit (20 minutes??), and then ran it through a blender (because I have a picky eater in the house, and if there are “chunks” in the sauce, he won’t eat it.

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I also made meatballs – two pounds of ground beef, with a half cup each of Italian panko and parmesan.  We hate a few meals like this…..

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I also had prepped a 9 x 13 pan of Enchilada chicken – cut up chicken breast (raw), two cans of enchilada sauce, and corn….and let it bake in the oven until it was done/shreddable.  We ate that for a few meals, too, with veggies and over rice.

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The picture below is NOT meal prepped, but something I like eating for a snack or breakfast when I need protein.  Two part skim mozzarella cheesesticks rolled up in two ounces of ham.  Fruit on the side, along with macadamias.  SO YUM.  And if this is your breakfast, you don’t have to cook!

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No meal prepping for these next ones, but we did burgers last week.  One meal was a straight up cheeseburger, the next one was peanut butter style with peanut butter on the bottom of the bun, and a layer of crispy roasted onions and ketcup on the top.  You MUST try this, SO GOOD!  Fresh corn on the cob is easy, you just boil in water!  And we were STILL trying to work out way through our huge collection of beans last week too.IMG_0265[1] IMG_0277[1]  Here is a super yum breakfast that I had this week as well (I had more like this, this was just one day…).  Basically one small potato, and one banana pepper, and some red onion roasted up and then tossed with two ounces ham and 2 slices bacon.  A sliced up cheese stick on the side, and a banana sprinkled with cinnamon.  Filling!

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OMG, and we FINALLY have a few tomatoes ripe.  So, BLT’s for the win this week!  Not enough protein for what I like to get in a meal, but so dang good :)

IMG_0292[1]   And, what we are munching on for the next two meals….grilled veggies.  Basically, chopped up summer squash and some mini bells, plus olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a grill pan.  IMG_0294[1]   Grilled food looks so pretty!  And tasty!!Homemade MarinaraYou guys, I have NO plans for food this week so far other than two packages of pork chops taken out and ready to be dealt with.  Time to crack the whip on that one and get going.  Peace out!

 

A Positive Way To Approach Your Workouts

Sometimes I call it “my training.”  Sometimes I refer to my time with my iron bars and bells as “a workout.”  Sometimes I call it “my practice.”

It doesn’t matter what it is.  It doesn’t matter if you trade out the iron bars and bells part for miles on pavement, or if you trade it in for Zumba songs.

What matters here FIRST is that you are doing something movement orientated that you ENJOY.  Plain and simple, movement is a friggin’ big deal.  Without movement, we literally waste away and lose our mobility and our strength and prime our muscles (sarcasm) for sitting in the recliner later on in life (or really not so late!) and watching “The Wheel.”  So, enjoyment of our chosen exercise activity, for the casual exerciser, should come FIRST.  Whatever motivates you to move – IE…..in the ways you ENJOY – are BIG DEALS.  You will move consistently if you consistently move in ways you enjoy.  Right?

OK, that point is over.  Let’s move on.

“Exercise” or “workouts” or “training” can tend to be approached negatively.  I *have* to workout today, because 1) I ate all the cookies 2) my plan (that I possibly don’t buy into) says it’s a training day 3) my doctor said I need to do this 3x per week.  If my Facebook feed is accurate (it’s not), then alllll those french fries eaten last week translate into roughly 600 burpees this week.  Or I must make my workout hard and beast-modey and hurt alllllll the muscles to be effective…..like no pain, no gain, right (wrong!!!!!!!!!)?  Or, if you workout doesn’t take at least 90 minutes to complete, why in the heck did you waste your time in the gym today?  Or, my favorite, I don’t want to eat before my kick ass workout later because I want to make sure I’m burning an ass ton of calories today so I can lose weight.

You guys, all of this is crap.  Pure crap.

Again, it seems as if (according to my Facebook/social media feeds) that the way to approach workouts are as follows:

– Shoot, I have my training plan for today, but it just doesn’t seem like enough to smash me, so I better add on MORE things like bicycle crunches, thrusters, and 100 box jumps to really gas me out at the end.  Beast Mode, ya’ll!

– My program is only utilizing my body weight and no additional loading, and my BFF back squats at least 220 pounds a few times per week…..my workout must not be effective, so I better change what I’m doing to do what she does (even if my back hurts when I do it).

– Breakfast – 200 calories of egg whites, broccoli, and MAYBE (if I’m lucky) reduced fat cheddar, skip snack (because lose the weight), lunch – 250 calories of MLM “meal replacement healthy shake” plus MAYBE a handful of almonds, small snack of a banana because pre-workout and THEN hit the gym and wonder why you feel like a school bus runs you over mid-workout (and then flips back into reverse and takes a few more tires over your face), so dinner becomes a free for all because you feel like a failure from your workout PLUS you are starving from severely under-eating alllllllllll day.

– 30 day arms or butt or legs or plank challenges written by people who don’t know how to program workouts or people who are trying to sell you a crappy product so they “put together this free 30 day challenge for you.”

See those four examples?  DON’T BE THAT PERSON.  PLEASE DON’T BE THAT PERSON.  That person is going to spin their wheels for a good long while and never make progress – no matter if “progress” means lifting heavier weight, losing body fat, losing weight, getting better at life, deadlifting 400 pounds, packing on some lean mass, having more confidence, etc.  I was stuck being that person for years.  It WASN’T fun being that person.  Since becoming a fitness and food coach, I could tell you that the thing I think about MOST for my clients and for my gym future is HOW TO GET PEOPLE OUT OFF THAT HAMSTER WHEEL AS FAST AS POSSIBLE and into some exercise that they might love and that might challenge them in just the right way.

One SIMPLE way to make a positive change in your approach to fitness (and life in general) is THIS:

Approach your fitness (and your life) with the mindset of how can I IMPROVE over time.  How can I get better?  How can I perform better?  How can I be the best athlete I can be?

As soon as you do that, a lot of that negative, useless garbage falls to the wayside naturally.  Those four examples from above suddenly become…..

– My training plan doesn’t look too bad today, which is AWESOME, because I need to be sure I’m primed and rested for deadlifts later on this week.  I’m going to do the plan as written and save up my energy for later in the week.

– The 220 pound back squats my BFF is doing look awesome.  I am in such a good place right now getting my body set up perfectly by using just my own body weight so I can really master those heavy back squats in the near future.  I know that if I can move my body WELL, I can move my body weight PLUS additional weight well in the future.

– Tomorrow is a training day.  I am going to eat a balanced dinner tonight so I set up my energy for tomorrow’s workout tonight already.  AND, I’m going to put together some meals to take to work tomorrow that keep my energy going, plus I’m going to be sure and pack a nice pre-workout snack with some protein and carbs to make sure I am able to crush my lifts after work.  Note to self, workout days are NOT the days to be on a diet.  My body needs fuel to perform and fuel to repair and recover.  Fuel comes via calories.  I shall eat tomorrow and make sure I’m well fed.

– Yeah, sorry, I’m *not* RSVP’ing to your 30 days abs challenge for September.  I have a decent amount of core training built into my training plan already, and I want to be sure the things I’m spending my time on are things that get me to where I want to go….not just checking off a box saying I’ve completed a 30 day challenge.  Thanks for the invite, though!

You guys.  You can workout or train or practice or whatever because you love it.  That is a great reason!  You can also sometimes not enjoy every session but in the “bigger picture”, it will allow you to spiral out and enhance your life.  Or maybe you can be someone who love to consistently challenge themselves every session and make sure everything is on point to YOUR best each day.  All of these are good reasons.

You already rock.  You have a base set of skills.  Choosing to work on improvement versus punishment is a great, POSITIVE way to keep going and fighting the good fight.  You can choose to get awesome at 10 push-ups versus plunking out 100 really crappy ones.  Soon, those 10 will become 11, and then 12.  And then in a bit you are banging out 15 or 20 in a row.

Changing your mindset from “this blows” to “look what I can do and look how I can improve” changes the whole game.  At least it did for me.  Try it!

 

 

 

Training Log: I’m Slacking At Blogging

Father forgive me, for I have sinned…..it’s been AT LEAST two weeks since my last training log confession.

BAHAHAHAHAHA!

You guys, I’m just busy working and trying to get JACKED.  That is it.  Moving weight.  Hitting my big lifts.  Doing some *cough* conditioning/cardio.  Maybe some intervals.  Hitting a little yoga.

The past few weeks, I lifted four times each week.  One deadlift day.  One floor press day.  One squat day.  One overhead press day.  Those skills I am basically warming up a few sets, and then doing three *serious* sets where I increase the weight each set.  Then….I finish up each session with exercises and things I want to do PLUS what I need to work on.  So it is straight up my alley – I get to do heavy shit, then do shit I really want to do and *play around* and then also do shit I don’t necessarily want to do but really should be done.

Then, I’m doing some light intervals twice per week (usually later in the evening on a training day if I feel like it).  Then some yoga.  Not on training days.  Just for funsies/recoversies.

Yeah, I feel good!  Like, not stressing about any of this stuff, just having fun with it.  Hitting up some walks and bike rides with the family.  Taking my crazy ass dog for strolls around town.  Trying to put on Fitbit steps to just overall move more, not exercise more.

I’ve been having fun eating too :)  And planning eating.  And thinking about eating.  EATING!!!!!  And, I must add, having a great relationship with eating.  Not that snarky, “I’m good because I ate carrots and broccoli and chicken breast 17 days straight.”  Nope, I like my treat balance, my proteinz, my carbz, my veggiez, and my beerz and winez.

So, I’ll just be here kicking it and trying to get jacked if you need me.  But I do wanna hear about YOUR training plans!

Originally this was my journey to Tough Mudder…now it's my record of all things fitness and health!

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