Friday, May 21, 2010
So as many know, I completed my cutting diet just over 2 weeks ago. I'm surprised to say that my eating now more resembles the cutting diet than it does the way I ate BEFORE the cutting diet, which was really not that bad.
Here are some valuable things I learned that I thought I'd share:
- I cook ahead. This is something I told my coach I didn't want to do in the start. I'd rather just cook what I was going to for that day. But it didn't take me long to figure out that it took just about the same amount of time to make a big pot of brown rice as a small one. Last night my daughter and I had sweet potatoes for dinner. I threw extra into the oven and then tossed it into the fridge when the meal was over. I don't set aside a time on the weekends to cook for the week like a lot of people do, but now when I do cook something I can use for meals later on, I'll make extra.
- I have started to eat more "real" food and less protein powder and protein bars, which are convenient but leave me hungrier than whole foods.
- I eat a great, big breakfast. Before breakfast was maybe a small bowl of whole-grain cereal with raisins and a cup of milk. Now it's slow-cook oatmeal with natural peanut butter stirred in, a whole egg with several (usually 5) egg whites, and often a piece of fruit. This helps me to not be as hungry the rest of the day and really fuels me well for my usually up-coming weight lifting session. Breakfast is usually now my biggest meal of the day.
- I eat fish now, voluntarily. It's not my favorite, but I don't despise it anymore. My favorite is Tilapia. Well, my REAL favorite is halibut, but at eighteen bucks a pound, that ain't happenin'! Maybe one day soon I'll work up the nerve to try salmon again......
- Before I go to bed I have a scoop of casein powder, in milk if my daily calories allow it, or water if they don't. My coach had me doing this to give my body something to gnaw on other than muscle while I slept. I'd rather like my muscles and endeavor to keep them, so I've kept it up.
- I usually drink at least a gallon of water a day. I can't remember if I started this on the cutting diet or if it just kinda came along with the cutting territory, but I find my body does a lot better with plenty of plain old water coursing through it. I am not as likely to binge, have fewer cravings, and feel less lethargic when I drink this much. My complexion is the clearest it's been since I was about eleven, and I often wonder if the water is a lot of the reason why.
- I don't eat as many carbs in the evening as I used to. I won't go into the specifics because this blog is long enough, but I prefer to get my starchier carbs early in the day, when they can be burned off by fueling me through my activities.
I hope that you picked up a thing or two here that you can implement into your own diet to help you along on your journey to fitness. As always, I love getting your comments and feed back, so please don't hesitate to respond!
Monday, May 10, 2010
Along the way there have been products I have found particularly useful in my quest for fitness. In case it might help others, here are some of them:
- LaBrada Lean Body Gold Bars. I order them from vitadigest.com www.vitadigest.com/leanbody-bar-pean
ut.html . You can buy them at GNC, but vitadigest is the lowest price I have found. The more you order, the cheaper shipping is. At 330 calories a piece I cut these bars in half, but they are a great balance of carbs, protein, and fat. And they taste like a candy bar! Caramel Peanut is my favorite. (I had a recommendation for another bar here, but the company raised the price so high for the minimal bulk discount that I now feel like the LaBrada bars are the best value.)
- The book Sculpting Her Body Perfect by Brad Schoenfeld. This is my favorite female exercise book. He has very good plans explained for both starting and advancing in your weight lifting efforts, as well as demonstrations of the exercises and a DVD of the execution of many of them, as well.
- Kari Anderson's "Curl" DVD. 20-mintues of GREAT ab work! By and far my favorite ab DVD.
- HERS Magazine, by Muscle and Fitness. This is my favorite women's fitness magazine. It's not fluffy! This is the real deal of how to get fit and stay that way.
- Oxygen Magazine. Also non-fluffy, a close second to HERS. It'd be my first recommendation, were it not for it's unabashed plugging of Tosca Reno's (the wife of the Oxygen Publisher, Robert Kennedy) Eat Clean Diet books.
- Now you're gonna laugh, but Clean Eating Magazine by- you guessed it- Robert Kennedy Publishing. I like the magazine better than her book. Seems somehow more adaptable to real life to me than her actual eating plan in the book.
The three above magazines are the only fitness/food magazines I subscribe to. The rest are just too fluffy for me.
- Banana Boats' Summer Color self-tanner in Deep Dark Color. See me getting darker in my cutting diet pics? It's this self-tanner. You can get it at WalMart for about $6 a tube. I like it- didn't turn me orange! But a warning- If you apply it frequently like I did (about every day for a week or so, then every other day for several weeks) it starts having patches that don't stick so good anymore and starts looking silly. And then you have to go through the molting process to get it off, which isn't pretty at all.... But it was a great tanner for it's purposes! I'd recommend using it once a day, after exfoliating in the shower, for 3 days (if you want to get that dark) and then cut down to once every third day or so to avoid this.
- Natures Own Sandwich Rounds. I think Orowheat makes an almost identical product. At one Weight Watchers point (100 cals, 5g fiber, 1g fat) per, these make a fantastic sandwich.
- GNC Whey Protein Powder. It's more cost-effective than many of the protein powders out there, and I think taste better than most. If you have the GNC Gold card you can purchase their products through the 8th of every month, I believe it is, for a 20% discount. For me, the price of the card has more than paid off.
- Moving Comfort Women's Fiona Bra ( www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001AP3SEY
/ref=oss_product ) This sports bra keeps my girls in check and if I get too hot I can strip down to just it on top in the gym without looking frumpy or like I am wearing my lingerie. I don't bother buying any other, since I am fairly big-busted and positively hate bounce.
- Aussie Sprunch Spray. Works as both a styling product in wet hair and a hairspray. I just toss a full-size bottle of this in my gym bag and it lasts quite a while.
- David Greenwalt's book "The Leanness Lifestyle". This book has a very sound plan for true fitness a lifestyle, not just a temporary fix. I see it is sold on Amazon.com. Although I parted ways with David Greenwalt when I tried his Leanness Lifestyle University on-line (he wasn't quite as gentle as I prefer a coach to be), his book is my fitness bible to this day, and I refer to it often. I actually combined his macro-nutrient suggestion (emphasising more protein than I had been eating) with Weight Watchers point system and accountability for very good results.
I'd love to hear of any products you have found beneficial. I always love finding new things that help me along in my journey!
Of course, the most important tool in reaching fitness is your own determination and focus. Keep reminding yourself that you are worth it- because you are!
Saturday, May 08, 2010
As time has gone on, I've come to understand that weight bearing exercise is more important than aerobic exercise.
Let me say it another way: If I have to make a choice between lifting weights and doing aerobic activity, I'll choose the weight lifting. Every time.
I didn't always feel this way. I used to think the opposite was true. I believed the heart was the most important muscle in the body (still do), and that the best way to condition it was through aerobic activity. I don't feel like that anymore.
Here are some reasons why:
- Weight lifting shapes your body like aerobics can't. Ever seen a body that is aerobically fit but not muscularly fit? It's missing shape and, in the case of women, usually curve. You can actually CHANGE the overall line of your body by adding muscle. All aerobics does to your body shape, at best, is make is a smaller, less-fat version of itself. I've never been able to add pleasing lines to my body with aerobic activity the way I have been able to with weight lifting. Through weight lifting I've been able to build my naturally-very-slight-shoulders up and tighten my abs, which has helped to give me a more hour-glassed shape and therefore make my hips look more balanced.
Therefore, muscle tone makes men look more masculine and women look more feminine.
- Muscle burns more calories at rest, so when you have more muscle on your body, your resting metabolism (how many calories you burn just to keep your body alive) rises. Additionally, the calorie burn from the actual weight-lifting exercises themselves can continue for up to 24 hours. On the other hand, aerobic activity burns calories while you are doing it, but that calorie-burning effect stops very quickly after the activity stops. So it's a better calorie-burning-investment over all to build muscle.
In a nutshell, weight bearing activities are more effective at helping you shed fat than aerobic activity.
-Weight bearing activities are more practical because they make you stronger for doing daily activities. You can't gain strength to lift heavy grocery bags or help someone build a fence with aerobic activity. I'm willing to bet that no one is going to ask you to run away from something any time soon. But help them lift a TV? That just might happen!
- Weight lifting makes bones stronger, therefore enabling you to be less prone to injury as you age. This is especially important for women, who tend to lose bone density much more rapidly than men, but is still a significant benefit for both sexes. In case you are wondering how this happens, the muscles are attached to ligaments that are attached to the bones. When the ligaments tug on the bone, the body reacts by making the bone stronger to be able to withstand the pulling. The more and heavier you lift, the more dense the bone becomes, therefore the less prone you are to bone breakage.
Pretty cool, huh?
- It is my personal believe that if you are really working out hard doing weight-bearing activity, it can very well become aerobic. Particularly if you add aerobic intervals, like sprints on the elliptical or bicycle or step-ups on a bench, between weight lifting sets. Besides that, have you ever seen someone who is weight lifting huffing and puffing? That's because they are using oxygen! And the word "aerobic" means "With oxygen". 'Nuff said.
I could go on, but the thing I want people to take home here is that if given a choice, lifting weights is more important to your healthy functioning over the long-haul than aerobic activity. Do I want you to stop aerobic activity? NO! It's still important, but weight lifting needs to be at the top of your priority list.
If your not sure if you have time to do both weight lifting and aerobic activity on the same day, take the time you need to do your toning/weight bearing first. Then with whatever time you have left, do your aerobic activity.
Likewise, if you don't enjoy weight lifting as much, do it first, so that it's over and done with and you don't have time to talk yourself out of it.
Trust me: The more muscle, the better!
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Sometimes I get compliments on my posture. I do try to keep my spine in proper alignment, not only because it takes pressure off of my skeleton, but also because it makes me look thinner and more confident. Who doesn't want that?
So what is proper skeletal alignment? Glad you asked!
I have a little exercise for you- one that has come in handy and keeps me in check. And you can do it while you are sitting here reading my seldom-read blog. Ready? (This is so simple, it'll make you laugh!):
First of all, skooch forward a little, so that your back isn't in contact with the back of your chair anymore. Bend your elbows in front of your body, holding your arms at a 90-degree angle- like you are sitting in an arm chair. Now, turn your palms face up. Lastly, pull your thumbs back towards your body.
What did you do? Surprised? Yep! You sat right up strait, didn't you? THAT's proper spinal alignment, and the position you should be trying to achieve all the time.
It works equally well standing, also.
If you can do this little posture-check several times a day, sooner or later you will start to hold yourself in proper alignment naturally. Slouching will feel unnatural, and your body will thank you.
This, combined with conscientiously holding your stomach muscles in will help strengthen your core better than any ab exercise I can recommend.
This is also, coincidentally, the "proper alignment" and "neutral spine" people are talking about when they refer to exercising.
Let me know what you think!
Saturday, May 01, 2010
If you are overweight with no intention of reducing your calories and therefore losing weight, you are at an advantage for gaining muscle over those who are restricting their calories.
Yes, you read that right.
Let me rephrase: People who eat too many calories and lift weights have an easier time putting on muscle than those who are lifting and eating to lose weight.
You can't build a very big house on a wooded lot if you use only the wood from some of the existing trees on the property to build and ship the remaining wood to someone else. You can build a much BIGGER house by keeping your existing trees and bringing in additional lumber.
In the same manner, it's very hard for the body to build muscle while you are taking calories AWAY from it. So someone who is overeating and lifting weights is probably going to put on muscle at a faster rate than someone who is trying to gain muscle while reducing calories.
Doesn't sound quite fair, does it?
But here is the deal, you can build SOME muscle if you are losing weight, and the good news is that you will actually be able to SEE it as your weight comes down. While the overweight person who is lifting the same weight as the thinner person is more than likely putting on muscle quicker than the thinner person, they probably won't realize it since it's covered by fat.
Case in point:
I was lifting weights heavily when I was at my biggest, which was here:
And the fact is that I was in the process of using my excess calories I was overeating to build the muscle I eventually uncovered here:
Was I as healthy in the first photo? No! But at least I was doing something more with my calories from overeating than simply putting on a lot of fat.
And this explains why I was never in as big a clothing size as my weight said I should be: I was more solid under all that fat than even I realized.
Now, I still have a ways to go. My backside is NOT where I want it to be. My next goal is to build up those legs and glutes and make them something splendiferous. But in the meantime? In the meantime I'm very proud of the muscle I've worked so hard to build, and that I kept up the lifting, even when I felt like my body was almost past the point of improvement. I didn't know it then, but I was helping my future self out.
My point, of course, is that it's advantageous for even the obese to lift weights. The worst that will happen is that they'll put some of those excess calories to good use building something besides more fat. Never mind the other myriad of health benefits that come from lifting weights, to include improved balance and maneuverability, as well as stronger bones.
And the best that can happen is that one day they will gain the frame of mind to lose the weight, and what they uncover might surprise them.
It sure did me!
So if you are overweight and aren't lifting, START! As I like to say: Lift heavy, lift hard, and lift often. You never know how much you may appreciate your efforts in the future.
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