Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Lately I've learned first hand that some of the things I have read but was never sure about are indeed true. I would recommend you take my word for these things and not try to find out first-hand. The process stinks.
Here they are, in no particular order:
- Extreme stress really does hinder fat loss. I hired Julie Lohre as a coach. She is awesome, with the most comprehensive program and organizational skills I have seen to date. But, bless her heart, she couldn't elicit a change in my body, despite her best efforts. I was (and still am) under a ton of stress in my personal life. I am absolutely confident this stress stopped my body from letting go of the fat she was trying so hard to wrangle off of me. I only did her program for 8 weeks because I felt bad. She has limited availability and I felt her time was better spent with a client who she could actually gain some satisfaction from. I'd of worked with her longer, otherwise.
- L-glutamine powder taken either pre- or post-workout really does help with soreness. Spent all last week sore when I forgot to take it (because of the stress). And my routine didn't change at all, so it's not like I did anything new to elicit the pain.
- If I start eating refined sugars (white flour or white sugar), it's pretty much guaranteed to trigger a binge.
-Same with diet soda.
- Exercise really does stimulate feel-good hormones that help lift your mood. It's much harder for me emotionally in the early mornings since my life has encountered sadness that is not going to go away (maybe ever). And the weekends, which I take off of exercise? I'm a wreck! After I work out, however, I feel better the rest of the day. For this reason I am going to try and split my workouts up to lifting in the morning and cardio at night, just to get the good stuff going through me 24/7. And I am going to start adding in weekend exercise all I can.
- Cardio is not as important as lifting, but it's still important. I don't drop weight nearly as fast without it.
- 1600 seems to be the magic number for me. If I eat calories much below that, I don't drop weight nearly as quickly. And the lower I go below 1600, the more my weight loss stalls. Additionally, I get really hungry if I eat below about 1450. Seems my body wants the muscle I've worked so hard for FED! I've heard this. I've blogged about it. (See "Moving Past a Weight Loss Plateau" here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=3931594 ). And now I have lived it numerous times.
- Stress really does give you more grey hair! (This has nothing to do with physical fitness, but it's true nonetheless.)
So there you go- I have been my own, unwilling, science experiment. Maybe my experience can help someone else who thinks, as I used to, "I wonder if that's really true?". And now I am curious- What fitness data have YOU found first-hand to be true?
Saturday, July 14, 2012
This is a subject that brings a lot of confusion, and understandably so. Thankfully, there is a short answer: Protein and Carbs.
Both protein and carbs work in conjunction to both fuel and repair your muscles. Easy 'nuff, right?
But there are a few additional things that may come in handy to know:
- First of all, fat intake slows digestion. So if you want to eat before your workout to fuel you a little fat is Okay (although not necessary), because it keeps you from blowing through the nutrients quickly and running out of steam before your workout is done. For me, this typically is a whole egg and three or four egg whites scrambled together along with 1/3 C of plain (not instant- bad for you!) dry oatmeal, cooked. The fat is in the egg yolk. However, after a work out it would be ideal (not necessary, but ideal) to keep fat intake to a minimum so that the carbs and protein can get into your muscles as quickly as possible. Whey protein is a very fast digesting protein and the carbs in fruit are also a quickly-digesting sugar. So if you have a scoop of whey mixed in water or skim milk and a banana on the way home from the gym you can fuel your body optimally.
- If you work out later in the day and eat meals every 3 hours or so that have both protein and carbs in them, you really don't need to worry too much about what you eat before or after you work out, because your body has both nutrients already continually fueling it.
- If you work out first thing in the morning, you need to give it a little more thought. At this point, it becomes more about personal goals and how much food you can stomach before a workout. For instance, if you are someone who is interested in burning fat, there is a school of thought that says doing cardio on an empty stomach burns more fat. The reason for this is that, presumably, there is little glycogen in the cells and the system goes strait to fat for fuel. (I'm doubtful about this for reasons that will take another blog, but for now let's assume it is a likelihood that you do indeed burn more fat doing cardio on an empty tummy.) This would, of course, be best accomplished first thing in the morning.
However, if you want to do your strength training at the same time of day as your cardio, you stand the potential of running into a problem, because you may not have enough energy to lift weights to your maximum capacity without something in your system to fuel you. I've seen some fitness competitors manage this by doing the cardio on an empty stomach, then eating a little something right in the gym and proceeding on to weight lifting.
For me personally the solution is to eat a full breakfast and wait about an hour before lifting (it takes me that long after I've eaten to get my household in order and myself driven to the gym). I do my weight lifting first, while I am at my freshest and I have the most energy (it's always a priority for me over cardio,anyhow). Then, after my muscles have had a chance to deplete some of the glycogen from the carbs from lifting, I go on to my cardio.
If you are someone who gets an upset stomach if you eat anything before you work out..... well, Duh! Don't eat! :-D
- As a last point, I'd like to express that if you don't do any/all/some of this, please don't think your workout is a waste. The truth is that most, if not all, of this is splitting hairs. The important thing is that you both exercise and eat clean (minimal processed foods). Period. If you are a fitness competitor or model these things can add up to make the difference that gets you the trophy or translates best for the camera lens. For the rest of us, these are good things to know but not necessary rules to live by.
The truth is that for the everyday person, eating clean and training dirty is enough. Your body will thank you!
Monday, May 21, 2012
Once a month I do my "big shopping" in a large grocery store. As I wander down the aisles I will sometimes see women with a look on their face that I recognize. It's because I used to have the very same look on my face several years ago. It's the "What product can I buy that will make my weight issues go away?" look. This look always occurs on the aisles where there is plenty of packaged food, most often near the cereal bars or in the cookie and cracker aisle. That's where I used to get that same look on my face, too.
I think as Americans (maybe people in other areas of the world too, I don't know. I've only ever lived here.)....... anyhow..... I think we have become conditioned to think that in packaging foods we have somehow made them better or improved on Mother Nature. I used to be looking to see if someone came up with something that was ultra-nutritious, low in calories, and low in fat, all while being ultra-delicious. Oh, and if that food also had some magical ability to make fat melt off my body, that would be even better.
What tickles me is that occasionally one of these lost-looking people will glance at my cart, as if trying to see if I have some secret ingredient. Of course, my cart looks pretty boring compared to the pretty packaged things on the shelves, so I don't capture their attention for long.
I often wish I could take the hand of those poor confused souls and lead them to the fresh produce section. Our next stop would be the meat counter, showing them how to select lean cuts (organic and fed what the animal is SUPPOSED to eat in nature, if they can afford it), then over to the dairy section to show them how to look for products that don't have added hormones or antibiotics, preferably also from animals fed what it is animals would naturally choose to eat in the wild. I'd like to teach them not to be afraid of fats from natural sources the way God made them, not the way we have changed them to be. Next we'd make a quick trip through the aisles for coconut and olive oils (coconut oil is more expensive, but for the little bit of baking I do it's a much healthier option and bakes up nicer, plus it handles heat on the stove better than olive oil), and the kind of nut butters that you have to keep in the fridge because the oil separates from the peanuts if you don't. Then I'd walk them through the bread section and show them what the ingredients list of baked products withOUT white flour in them looks like (it's tricky- companies have learned to be careful with how they word the ingredients list), and lastly through the frozen foods section where we would select unadorned frozen veggies, fruits (like berries, for smoothies), and fish to thaw quickly for healthy meals for their family. Most of the rest of the stuff in the frozen section we'd leave alone.
The fact is that there ARE magic ingredients, but we are so used to looking at them that we don't really see them anymore. Pass up the processed stuff. If a product looks NOTHING like the original ingredients it claims to have in it, it's been processed too much to be truly good for you anymore. It may not taste as good at first, but you and your family will get used to it and learn eventually to prefer the natural foods. God knew what He was doing when he made foods- He designed them to nourish our bodies. It's a little hard to improve on God.
We can't all afford to eat all clean all the time. I understand this. The things that have a longer shelf life are cheaper. I get it. But if you are looking for a magic bullet in a man-made food, you'll never find it. Buy healthy all you can afford to, and cook at home all you can (hint- your Crock Pot is your pal). Cooking at home more often will help offset the added cost of the higher grocery bill from the better foods.
You are building the little bodies of your kids to be healthy adults and you are taking care of your own body so that it will carry you well through life. Love your body with your choices- Choices that are as close to the way Mother Nature as you can. It's not an instant fix, but over time you will be glad you did.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I have heard a lot of people say that a life of moderation is key in keeping balance between real life and fitness. I completely agree, but I've come to find that my view of moderation has had to change as my fitness journey has progressed. What used to be moderate for me would now be considered excess.
The changes in what I considered "moderate" happened gradually as I progressed. I'd stall and realize I had to take an honest look at what I was doing, then figure out what must change to get closer to my goal. This usually involved giving something up. (Okay, I was "substituting" one thing for a healthier option most of the time, but the fact is that I had to give one thing up in order to substitute it with another.) My definition of "moderation" had to change once again.
It's a natural process that you will have to go through, too, as you get more fit.
When I started my journey to weight loss at almost 200 pounds, a small serving of dessert every day was moderation. I have found that at my maintenance weight a serving of dessert perhaps every week or two is now moderation. At the beginning of my weight-loss I could eat almost every food I'd eaten before I was trying to lose weight, just in controlled amounts. Now I have had to abandon many of those foods on all but a the very rare occasion to maintain the health I have worked so hard to achieve. This has been hard for me to accept, but I have had to wrap my head around the fact that if I do what I used to do, I'll look like I used to look. Worse yet, I'll be as unhealthy as I used to be. Not cool.
I miss ice-cream with magic shell. I miss baking several times a week and eating it, to include sampling the dough/batter/frosting. I miss my Chili Dog Pie recipe and my Grandma's biscuits. I really do. But if I continue to indulge in these things regularly I won't be able to maintain my current level of health.
I guess I've decided that I'd rather live a longer life enjoying these foods hardly ever than live a shorter life eating them as often as I'd like.
It's your call. It's your body. It's your life. I'm not judging you. But if you want to continue to see the fat come off and/or the muscle come on, you are going to have to adjust your definition of "moderation" as you progress. I'm sorry if I'm the bearer of bad news...... I didn't make this rule up.... It's just the way it is.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
Warning: This is longer than I typically like my vlogs to be and a lot of info.
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