people toasting wine glasses

Still Working On Your New Years Resolutions?

While I was working at the gym, this morning, the employee in charge of the check-in desk made the comment that the number of people coming to workout is back to it’s “normal” quantity. For the most part, the “New Years Resolution-ers” have fizzled off. It’s something we see every year, maximum capacity for the first three weeks, and then we’re back to the sea of regulars- the same people we’ve been working out with for years. Don’t get me wrong, there are usually a small quantity of new faces who want to achieve their goal bad enough that they keep coming. But the rest…

Go get a pen and and paper and write the answer to these questions down (no seriously, stop reading and go get your writing material…)! Write down the answers to these questions: What is it that you wanted to accomplish three weeks ago? Why did you want it (check here if you need some help with your why)? Do you still want that same thing? Do you want it badly enough to push through the discomfort to achieve it? What’s your game plan that will get you there? What are the small baby steps you’re taking to make your dream a reality? Starting today, or even this hour, what is the one thing that you can do to push yourself along in your process?

pen and paper, writing material

Let’s assume that you set out to lose weight, this year. Which approach are you taking? Did you make efforts, in these last three weeks to change your habits? Are these habits becoming more a part of you? Have you stuck with your weight loss approach? Or did you happen to get derailed in your efforts?

There are so many things that can halt your progress in the weight loss game.

Perhaps you’re the only one in your household working to lose weight (Believe me, I know exactly how lonely that can feel). Get yourself a community! Join a Facebook group. Talk to your friends. Guaranteed there is someone else in your life who is also working toward their own weight loss goals. Reach out to me! I would absolutely love to respond to a message with a word of encouragement!

Maybe someone brought a treat home or to work that you weren’t planning for, and you “gave in”. Maybe you haven’t found a way to pull yourself back into action. I get that too! That has happened to me so many times! I have two things to say about this. Shake it off! What’s done is done! Move forward! Love yourself enough to leave that delicious treat (which maybe led to total derailment) behind you, and pick yourself up. Commit right now to practicing the baby steps which will lead you to meeting your goal. You can do this!

Second, maybe you have the temptation screaming at you, but you haven’t actually given in just yet. This is ok! There is nothing wrong with being tempted to eat something that is against your goals. This is going to happen. So let it in, acknowledge it, and then recognize you have options.

dumpster

Life is full of little choices, and here is one of them: you don’t have to eat it. If you haven’t planned for it, and you’re still on a trajectory of strategic behavior, then do everything in your power to maintain your trajectory! You can throw the tempting treat away! That’s right, pick it up and walk it all the way to the stinky outside dumpster! You can ask someone else around you to eat it so that it’s no longer available to you. You can ask someone in your life to hide it from you (I ask Adam, my hubby, to do this all the time and most the time I don’t find it!). Or you can put it in the freezer and save it for your planned indulgence meal. You are strong enough to not eat it. Remember what it is that you want (your why?) more than you want the unplanned treat. Focus yourself in on your ultimate goal. Take a deep breath and fully commit to not even having one little taste. You can do this!

Maybe you started working out, and your muscles were so sore that you decided you’ve done your time and enough is enough. Or maybe you decided you were too busy for all the exercise that you originally set out to accomplish. It could be that you like your sleep more than you like the idea of waking up early to exercise. Whatever your perfectly logical explanation might be (my husband calls these PLE’s aka an excuse), call yourself out! Creating new habits of exercise is challenging! I know! It took me all the way until I became a mom to find it in me to make exercise a regular part of my life. And guess what?! At first I didn’t necessary love it. But, with enough consistency, it started to grow on me, and eventually I did!

Find it in yourself to push past your excuses. Remind yourself who it is that you want to become. Make peace with the fact that getting there will require you to do the work. Do what you need to do. Set a time on your daily calendar or an alarm to remind yourself. Set out your workout clothes the night before (I’ve done this for years since my workouts typically fall in the 5:00/6:00 am hours). Go buy yourself some cute new workout clothes and shoes (monetary commitment is a powerful motivator). Find a friend to exercise with you. Start small. If you haven’t been in the habit of exercise, commit to two days a week. Then gradually increase from there. Baby steps are the way to lasting lifestyle changes!

Maybe you’ve tried some of the meal plans I’ve put on this blog and have thought to yourself, “the food she wants me to eat is absolutely disgusting! How can she even recommend that!?” Maybe you are a really picky eater, and have the hardest time talking yourself into eating vegetables in one meal, let alone six times per day.

Food preferences can be a legit challenge for some people to overcome. But guess what!? You don’t have to eat exactly what I eat. Do some research to find foods and recipes that work for you based on your goals. Challenge yourself to try new things. Allow yourself to be open minded. If you really want to meet your goals, you will do what works for you. I can’t set them for you or make you achieve them. So spend a few minutes scouring the internet, you’ll find recipes out there for every single approach that can be taken to lose weight. Move past the “I don’t want that” and ask yourself “What do I want?”. Then actively pursue finding the foods you enjoy that will keep you properly nourished while losing weight.

Let’s change the subject (sort of)…

Have you heard the concept of the “Heroes Journey?” This idea permeates all of our favorite stories. Tell me if you recognize this. A protagonist, quite often unremarkable and inconspicuous, is presented with a fantastic opportunity. One which includes both epic adventure and great reward. This character is often quite comfortable in their current situation, without much desire or want to change. That is, until either an internal/external event occurs and the new adventure is something they just can’t shake off. They understand that the road ahead will come with challenges, and there is a high possibility for failure. And yet, the call is great enough that the character knows there’s no other option than to proceed.

Perhaps this was you at the onset of your journey for change. At that time, there was no other option than to proceed on the road to your reward, be it weight loss, feeling stronger and healthier, or even something completely different.

Take a minute and assess where in the Heroes Journey you are right now:

  • Call to Adventure: The Hero sees the adventure that she/he desires or needs to go on.
  • Crossing the threshold: The hero prepares for and embarks on the journey
  • The road of trials: Reality sets in and the hero feels smaller than the challenges ahead of her/him
  • The abyss: The only options for the hero are to change, become someone different, and either press forward or quit entirely
  • Metamorphosis: The hero changes and becomes something more
  • The Ultimate Boon: The hero learns the lessons which enable further growth and change
  • Returning the Boon: The hero returns home to share what she/he learned
Hero, Hero's Journey, The Abyss

Each character has to go through this process to become the heroic version of themselves. Take the example of the heroes in the Marvel movies. The main character, or hero, is typically a human who is heavily flawed. They go on an adventure, meet obstacles, face the reality of their weaknesses, they learn essential lessons, don’t give up through the process, and they return to share their learned lessons with the team. All heroes follow the same journey. We see their story and we gain admiration and respect for their courage, conquering spirit, and endurance through their difficult challenges.

The fact is, you are the hero of your own journey. You might have just barely heard your call to adventure, you might be knee deep in your road of trials, or you might be facing the abyss where you allow yourself to become something amazing. Whatever you do, don’t quit on your yourself! Press on! You are worth finding that hero in yourself. Allow yourself the opportunity to gain the self respect for having accomplished something so great!

I believe in you! Take the moment right now to recommit to that goal you are working on. I know that you can accomplish it, and I know that you will be so glad that you did!

You are my hero!

Talk to you soon!

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Finding your “Why”?

The following content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Have you ever paused to take a look at your family’s health history? I was required to do an assignment for a college nutrition course where I gathered information for my own “health genome”. This informs of any health issues in siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I was supposed to make a report of any known instances of cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease (heart diseases, high cholesterol, etc), type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, eating disorders, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, my extended family on both sides is HUGE! My mom was one of seven children, and my dad is one of seventeen children (yes, you read that right! Three of those are half siblings). As I began to pull in health information from as many of them as possible, I learned that three of my four grandparents experienced adverse heart conditions. Of my 22 aunts and uncles, there are six known cases of various types of cancer, a good handful of pre-cancerous polyps, a high number of them are on blood pressure medication, and there are a handful of other recurring medical conditions among the bunch…

I’ve lived over 3/4 of my life without my mom alive. She passed away in a car accident when I was young and this has had a profound effect on how I view life with my family. From this, I am highly motivated to do everything I can so that my own kids don’t have to experience the same loss. Knowing that my own chances for developing a variety of health conditions are high, I find myself wanting to do everything in my power to be my healthiest. There are many good reasons for wanting to lose weight, but in my opinion, working towards optimal health is the best reason of all.

Before I go on, I want to make sure to stress that I realize that sometimes these things just happen. Sometimes we develop health conditions for reasons that we don’t understand. I assure you, I pass zero judgement upon anyone for their unfortunate health circumstances. But I do know that there are actions that we can take to reduce our risk of developing such conditions.

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

– Hippocrates (460-370 BC)

The following are a list of the top chronic conditions that we have the ability to reduce the risk of developing based on our diet choices:

Obesity

The United States is facing a major obesity epidemic. With our over abundance of “quick grab food” options at the drive through, the processed foods in the grocery store, and the lack of physical activity (perhaps due to too much Netflix binging?) it’s a no brainer that America’s waistline is expanding at an alarming rate.

Check out these facts about obesity from the CDC:

  • The prevalence of obesity was 42.4% in 2017~2018. [Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief]
  • From 1999–2000 through 2017–2018, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4%, and the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. [Read CDC NCHS data brief]
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death. [Read guidelinesexternal icon]
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 US dollars; the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read paperexternal icon]

Obesity-related conditions including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, are the leading causes of preventable, premature death (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2013). 

Obesity can be decreased or overcome through these effective tips:

  • Choose to eat foods which are low in saturated fat
  • Choose food and beverages which are low in added sugar
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce intake of fatty meats, processed foods, and foods with high salt content
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (or not at all)

Heart Disease

Heart disease includes blood vessel disease (coronary artery disease), heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), heart valve disease, disease of the heart muscle, and heart infections. These diseases can lead to larger complications such as heart failure, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, peripheral artery disease, or sudden cardiac arrest. The good news is that many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices!

The Mayo Clinic has a hefty list of recommendations for avoiding heart disease, but we’ll just focus on the dietary recommendations:

  • Control your portion sizes
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • East more whole grains
  • Limit unhealthy fats (no more than 5-6% of total calories from saturated fat & NO trans fats); monounsaturated fats are preferred
  • Choose low fat protein sources such as fish, lean meat, legumes, and low fat dairy products
  • Reduce sodium intake (no more than 1500 mg per day)
  • Plan and create menus ahead of time
  • Treat yourself on occasion

Cancer

Decades of research have effectively demonstrated that diet can directly affect cancer risk. Some of the foods we eat, such as red meat, salt, and highly processed food, have been shown to heighten the risk of developing cancer. While cancer can be developed by genetics and environment, these two factors usually amount to smaller than 30% of one’s lifetime risk of getting cancer. We have control of the majority of factors that help in reducing risk of cancer. These dietary recommendations are associated with a lower incidence of cancer rates:

  • Eat foods high in anti-oxidants. These come in the form of our bright colored fruits and veggies (i.e. dark green leafy kale, orange bell pepper or fruit, purple beets, red tomatoes, etc.)
  • Eat low glycemic foods (This article from medicinenet.com will teach you about the glycemic index, and what a low glycemic food is); High glycemic foods are associated with greater risk of developing certain types of cancer
  • Increase your dietary calcium intake (Foods highest in calcium: dairy products, dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, fortified cereals and fortified orange juice)
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Type 2 Diabetes

The connection between Type 2 diabetes and diet is overwhelming (There is a small number of occurrences where type 2 diabetes is caused through genetics, or occur naturally). Both type 2 diabetes and obesity are strongly tied with each other, and are both influenced by dietary choices. Sedentary lifestyles and dietary habits are both the cause of rapidly increasing rates of Type 2 diabetes. Rapid and substantial weight gain, combined with high quantities of added sugar in food and drinks play a major role in developing Type 2 diabetes. The dietary recommendation for preventing type 2 diabetes is to consume a diet low in added sugar and total calories


What would it be worth to you to conduct your own personal family medical research to identify and work to avoid these health conditions? What if you were to find out for yourself that you have effectively eliminated your own risk of developing obesity, heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes by living your healthiest lifestyle? So here’s your homework, if you’re able, go call your grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, and siblings (they’ll love catching up with you!), compile a list of all of the health challenges they are facing (this will help you to identify the risks that you are up against). Then go and implement the health recommendations to overcome your specific risks. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

An awesome side effect of eating more fruits and veggies, avoiding processed foods and added sugars, and all of the other above recommendations, will be the weight that you will lose in the process!

Let’s do this! Let’s make our “why” to be the healthiest version of ourselves!

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Why is losing weight so hard?! Or is it…?

I get it. Losing weight can seem like you’re climbing a 14,000 foot high mountain. As you stand at the base of the towering rock, you wonder how in the world will you ever survive making it to the top. Now, I will be the first to tell you that your own weight loss journey will most likely not be easy, but it will be extremely rewarding. New habits will be created while old habits are purged. You will have to face sacrificing the “old” way you did things in favor of creating a “new” you. Through all of this, thinking about the length of time you’re required to commit to the process can seem daunting, overwhelming and even so heavy, you simply won’t start! And believe me, there have been many times where I have done just that! I gave up. I gave in. I felt so hopeless it was depressing. But, as you get your mindset adjusted, just like climbing that 14,000 foot mountain (we call them 14’ers here in Colorado), it begins with your first step.

Here are a few of the weight loss processes that I’ve felt discomfort from in the last twelve days of this project:

  • Creating the habit of a daily food journal
  • Saying “No!” to the chocolate chips that are in the cupboard, or the stock pile of soda in the fridge, or sugar cereal in the pantry.
  • The slow pace
    • Only being twelve days into this project (That’s it!?!? I swear it seems like it’s been months already).
    • Not seeing a distinct visible change…yet (It can often take a week or two for you to notice your own change, and up to a month before other people start to see it as well).
    • Acknowledging that I still have months of work ahead of me
  • Knowing that I still need to go a little longer before I allow myself my first indulgence meal.
    • Thinking ahead to my indulgence meal, fearing that I’ll allow it to be a binge session rather than a reasonable reset meal.
  • Meal planning
  • Meal prepping (It makes me grumpy how long it takes!)
  • Eating the same thing multiple days in a row
  • The changes to my body as it is adapting, such as detox headaches, lack of energy, acne break outs on my face, needing to pee ALL. THE. TIME. (TMI?)

I could sit here and give an explanation for why we have to go through each of these things (and more), but that’s not what this post is all about. This post is intended to show you that you CAN push through the discomforts of the weight loss process.

Let’s talk about mindset. What does that even mean? Trusty old Miriam-Webster defines mindset as a mental attitude or inclination or a fixed state of mind. This being the case, we need to first dig deep and hear what our thoughts have previously been telling us about how we feel about the weight loss process. If those thoughts are what have kept you away from embracing the work to lose weight, then acknowledge that. This might require you to call yourself out on the fact that you had a previously fixed state of mind which was against doing the work required. Have you heard of the six stages of behavior change? These stages are:

  • The first stage of change is known as the Pre-contemplation stage. In this stage, you might not even realize, or you straight out deny that there is anything that needs changed about your current behavior. This is where you might be unaware (blissfully or otherwise), that you have habits or behaviors that aren’t doing you any favors.
  • The second stage of change is the Contemplation stage. In this stage, you have become aware that there are benefits to making a change. But you are also aware that these changes will come at some sort of a cost. You might be hindered by your awareness of the sacrifices you’ll have to make in order to make the change. You might “hang out” in the contemplation stage for quite a while as you work to wrap your head around the work required towards self-improvement. You’ll weigh out the pros and cons, and at the end of this stage, you’ll finally make the commitment towards the change, which you believe will help you improve.
  • The third stage of change is known as the Preparation stage. Here, you begin the process for change. Since our focus is weight loss, you might take steps like joining a gym, hiring an online personal trainer, throwing out the non-strategic foods from your pantry, adding a few extra veggies to your shopping list, write goals or motivational quotes on your mirror in dry-erase marker, and join support groups, etc. You might work to learn new ways to alter your behavior in this stage (Perhaps since you’re hanging out with me here in “self-improvement blog land”, you’re finding this is the exact stage you’re in?).
  • The fourth stage of change is the Action stage. This is the point that you’re all in with your efforts. You understand the processes required of you, and you are working hard to make consistent efforts (Notice that I don’t say that you’re working for perfection, just consistency). It’s important to point out that many people find themselves retreating to their old ways after only a few weeks in the action stage. (This is why all of the regular gym goers love the last week of January. At this point of the year, all of the “New Years Resolutioners” have cleared out by then, and it’s less crowded on the gym floor). This can be avoided by making sure that you mentally work through each of the previous steps before “going all in” on a new goal. Make sure that you are also rewarding yourself for the efforts you are taking. I had a grand idea recently, that for every day I comply with my nutrition and exercise strategy, I would put $2 into a jar. Then either monthly, or when my goal is met, I can go and buy myself something fun. I have yet to act on this, though. I guess it’s still sitting in the contemplation stage until I’ve processed it enough to move the idea up to the preparation stage.
  • The fifth stage of change is the Maintenance phase. Here, you are in the habit of continually avoiding former behaviors and consistently acting on new behaviors. You have systems in place which help you to avoid the temptations of breaking your goals. You are replacing old habits with more productive and positive ones. Once again, rewarding yourself is a useful tool to help you continue to maintain your efforts. If (or dare I say when) you have set backs, you’re kind to yourself. You quickly get up, brush yourself off, and are back to work. You understand that your efforts are not sabotaged by one slip up, allowing yourself to continue recognizing the positive behaviors that you’ve been exhibiting. This stage is really empowering as you’re able to recognize that you have changed yourself from your old ways, and you are able to continue making progress in your efforts.
  • The sixth stage of change is Relapse. That’s not what you want to hear when you feel like you’ve made it to the top with maintenance, is it? Since you’re human, this is part of the process. In any behavior that we are working to change, it can be a common eventuality that one experiences a relapse. When this happens, you might find yourself frustrated, disappointed, wanting to quit altogether. But don’t! You can’t allow these hiccups to undermine your self-confidence. If a relapse happens, call a time out, and dig deep to understand why it happened. What was the trigger? How did you entertain the trigger to hang around with you? How can you avoid such trigger as you continue on your journey? The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep going in your efforts in the preparation, action and maintenance stages of change.

Where do you find yourself on this list? What do you need to do to move yourself up to the next stage of change? What are you going to commit to in moving yourself forward with your weight loss efforts?

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You Are About to be Qualified to be Considered Among My CLOSEST Friends!

I mean, we’re about to be really, really close…  My husband is pretty much the only person who ever sees my belly button, so you and I are legit taking our friendship to the next level in this post!

I’m seriously crossing some comfort level barriers with this “bare all” experiment. As a general rule, I live by a standard of modest dress because I believe that my body is a temple. I believe that I show my body the respect it deserves both in how I take care of it, but also in the way I present it. My body is a gift, and it doesn’t serve me well to flaunt it and flash all the parts for the world to see (That being said, that is my rule for myself. I have zero problems, or judgement with the way that others present themselves through their dress standards).  All this being the case, the fact that I’m about to show you pictures of me in my workout clothes, makes me want to hide a little bit.  But I have great faith that this is not only going to change my life for the good, but also someone else who might be reading along on this undertaking.  I know that I really do appreciate a good before and after picture of other people’s progress, so here we are.  

AHHHHHHHH!!! OK…I Did it…I can breathe now! 

So this is me at my starting point: January 1, 2021. As I show you how to lose the last 15 pounds, I will be using three tools to measure my progress each week:

  • First, pictures from the front, side, back, and zoomed in on “problem areas” (think “love handles”, back fat, etc.).   
  • Second, a bioelectrical impedance machine. This is an assessment that I have done at my rec center. This test analyzes my body composition (you will see the details of that below). If your gym or rec-center doesn’t offer this, you can often get this done at a Max Muscle or similar retail store (a quick Google search should give you a location). 
  • Third, I’ll be using a measuring tape to take body measurements (You can get one for cheap here on Amazon). 

With all that said, here are my first results from the bioelectrical impedance machine.

  • My total body weight: 142.9 lbs (That’s ⅓ of a pound shy of me falling into the overweight category).

Breaking my total body weight down into different categories of body composition:

  • Total Body water: 78.3 lbs.
  • Dry lean mass: 29.1 lbs. 
  • Body fat mass: 35.5 lbs. 
  • Skeletal muscle mass: 60 lbs.
  • BMI: 24.5 This is your Body Mass Index. It is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight (We don’t really care too much about BMI in my world. We’ll talk more about that later).
  • Body fat percentage: 24.8 This is your total amount of fat in your body as a percentage of your total mass (Keep in mind this includes both essential body fat and storage body fat (My goal is to end somewhere around 16% body fat).
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): 1423 calories. This is the amount of calories that I burn daily just through being alive, organs functioning, etc. It’s the amount that the body burns at rest. I should never eat this few of calories because it is not sustainable.  (Think: invitation for binge episodes!)
  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): 2454 calories.  This number will change based on my level of activity.  Assuming that I will be getting heavy exercise 6 days per week, I calculate my BMR by 1.725 to find my TDEE.  This is the amount of calories I should consume each day if I want to stay the exact same weight that I currently am.  To lose weight, I should subtract 200-300 calories below the TDEE as a beginning calorie target range.
  • Calorie target range for weight loss: 2150 calories. This number is always adaptable.  By sticking close to this target range for a whole week, next week’s body composition assessment will indicate if I am on the right track, or if I should subtract even more calories. 

Here are my measuring tape results:

  • Right calf (measured at widest part): 14 ¾ inches
  • Right thigh (measured at widest part): 23 inches
  • Hips (measured at widest part): 43 inches
  • Butt (measured at widest part): 39 ⅜ inches
  • Right below my muffin top: 35 ⅞ inches
  • Waistline (measured across belly button): 35 ¼ inches
  • Chest (measured at widest part): 37 ¾ inches
  • Shoulders (measured at widest part): 40 ½ inches
  • Biceps: I forgot to measure my right bicep (My bad! I’ll start doing that next week)

Since today was New Year’s day, and between ringing in the new year and being amped over starting this new adventure, I only had three hours of sleep and as such I didn’t really have a set plan to follow (who can relate?!). But that didn’t mean I threw everything out the window! My only goal was to eat in a way that I would feel good about showing all of you, and get all my vegetables in. I did an unintentional intermittent fast since I didn’t eat my first meal until around noon. I also didn’t exercise because I had a pounding headache most of the day (this is why we don’t binge on caffeine, and allow ourselves “last meals” before starting a weight loss program). At the end of the day, I was definitely below my target calories for the day (see the pics from My Fitness Pal). 

Alright! Day one is in the books and I could not be more excited to get this started! I am going to end my night by grabbing myself a serving of 95% dark chocolate, to add in a little treat and an extra 200 calories before bed.

And don’t forget, no matter where you are starting in your transformation, today is the day that you begin your journey to lose that last 15 pounds.

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Chronicles of the Two Voices Inside My Head – Installment #1

Client Amy: 

Ugggggghhhhh! 2020 was not good for my waistline! In March and April I let myself stress eat without abandon.  Don’t get me wrong, the covid baking was pretty epic! That star shaped bread! How cool was that!?!? Oh and all the different kinds of cookies, and homemade pizzas (Now forever nicknamed pandemic pizza in our house). It really was a delicious year!

Then there’s the whole thing about the binge eating disorder that has been a constant companion for the majority of my life.  That one bears some weight! I mean, I’m a personal trainer and nutritionist for crying out loud! I should know better! I do know better! But you put even one morsel of almost anything sugar in my mouth and it’s, “Sorry family, you can have one or two but the rest are mine and I’m going to eat them all in one sitting!” (Or let’s be real, hidden in the pantry or the other room when no one is watching). What the heck is that!?!? 

That comes and goes in spurts. Sometimes the mindfulness to eat strategically feels easy. But quite frequently, my focus on strategic eating is derailed faster than I can eat a box of mint chocolate truffles. That happened a lot in 2020!

Finally, there was an incident in October with a 15 pound medicine ball which left me with a broken nose and a concussion that I’m still feeling the effects of two months later.  I’ve had to take time off of exercise to let my brain heal.  Normally, exercise is my jam. Like seriously, one of my most favorite past times. I can usually combat the weight gain from binge eating because of my love for a good long sweat session with the weights or running the trails. But since there was a good solid month without exercise, and with an overabundance of emotional eating I can visibly see the extra bloat I accrued in November. My favorite jeans are almost too tight to wear, and my muffin top is ridiculous! Like I said before, 2020 has made me fat!

Trainer Amy:

Okay, first things first, are you really a victim to the year 2020? Yes, certain circumstances were hard, but the difficulties you faced never forced you to gravitate toward the kitchen when you weren’t actually hungry. They never force fed you when your emotions were heightened. You have the power to choose your own actions.  We’ll have a nice chat another time about overcoming the victim mentality, but since we can’t change the past, what do you want the future to look like?

Client Amy:

(Sighs) No, you’re right. The past is behind me. What I want is to feel better in my own skin.  I want to not be at the front of the exercise class that I teach feeling insecure because there are folks in the class who are in better shape than I am.  I want to feel like I have power over food, and not the other way around.  I want to go to bed at night without the chastisement from my thoughts as I think back on the day’s food consumption with regret. I want to eat holistically and feel the powerful healing that takes place from nourishing my body with the nutrients that it thrives on, and not be hindered by the excess junk food.  I want to follow the rules of nutrition which provide the natural consequence of a healthy body. And since I’m human, I want to like the way that I look. I want to lose 15-20 pounds!

Trainer Amy:

I can absolutely help you with this! 

Client Amy:

Awesome! What’s the game plan? Keto? Intermittent fasting? Whole30? Jump start with a detox cleanse?

Trainer Amy:

Woah! Slow down! While you do have the knowledge on the ins and outs of these nutritional approaches, they all fall in the category of extreme dieting.  Since we know that you have binge eating tendencies, taking on an extreme approach will never get you to your end goal.  You’ll fall into the exact same trap that you’ve been unable to escape every time you’re re-committed to losing weight again. (We will be utilizing some intermittent fasting, but in general, that is not the best approach for the binge eater to take frequently).

Client Amy:

I’m listening.

Trainer Amy:

First, because you have been all over the place with your food intake, we need to do a little bit of metabolism correction. We’ll start by having you eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day.  This will help to condition your body to digest and metabolize nutrients in smaller quantities on a more frequent basis. This process will train your metabolism to speed up. Plus, you like eating all the time, so this approach is good for you!

There will be a little bit of emphasis on calorie quantity.  We’ll talk more about this later too, but you’ll need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight.  We’ll accomplish this through a focus on macronutrient ratios (I know, big words that may initially be confusing to understand, but hang with me and i’ll break it down for you). In general, you’ll target 20-30 grams of protein in each meal, and 1-2 cups of veggies in each meal.  We’ll adapt the quantity of fats and carbohydrates that you take in as we go.  But since eating carbs and fats together tend to make you bloated and gassy (it is what it is), you’ll mostly be eating those macronutrients in separate meals from each other.

In conjunction with this, hydration is critical! You’ll need to target drinking 64 ounces to one gallon of water each day.  Sufficient hydration is so important for all of your organs, muscles, and skin.

Lastly, your exercise routine has been good, but we’re going to up your game a little bit.  You’ll need to commit to 6 days a week of consistent exercise.  Your workouts will include 5 days of weight lifting with a focus on a different muscle group each day, and 15-30 minutes of high intensity cardio (think running, elliptical, or even some laps in the pool). These workout sessions will last 60-90 minutes. Then on the 6th day, you’ll aim to do a longer cardio session (think 45 minutes to 90 minutes). You’ll take one rest day per week (the Sabbath is always an excellent choice for this!) 

Client Amy:

That’s good and all, but we know I am not infallible.  What about when I want a treat? What about indulgence meals? What if I’m too busy for 5-6 meals? What if I work out less time than you’re prescribing? What if I mess up? (Correction: when I mess up)?

Trainer Amy:

These are all valid concerns.  We are going to plan strategic treats that have nutritional content which will actually benefit you. Think dark chocolate, chia pudding, fat bombs, etc.  

As for indulgence meals, they definitely have their place, but they need to be planned for and respected. To start off, you’re going to push through two to three whole weeks without an indulgence meal while we work to reset your body. I know, that’s tough, but critical getting you started off on the right foot (and think, two weeks, vs years of being frustrated with how you feel about your body, really isn’t that long). After that point, we’ll work in one indulgence meal per week. These indulgence meals will consist of one full hour where you are allowed to eat anything your heart desires. There are no rules within that hour, but there will be a hard cut off at the one hour mark. 

If you find that you’re too busy for 5-6 meals, you can multiply the meal’s macronutrient target range by 5-6 and divide it by the amount of meals you’ll actually be eating in the day. 5-6 meals isn’t necessarily a magic number, we just know that you like to eat frequently so that is an excellent approach for you. Consistency in your eating approach is where the magic happens, so do your best to have the same meal quantities each day.

As far as getting less or shorter workouts than are being prescribed, that’s ok! All you need to worry about is doing your best. Your best includes giving yourself a pep talk when you’re just not feeling it, but there is room for forgiveness when circumstances only allow a 15 minute session. Your nutrition is going to be the most important aspect of this weight loss process, so you’ll want to do your very best with that. Exercise comes second to that, and allows more forgiveness.

Now, what if you mess up? Don’t worry, you will (comforting, right?)! It is up to you to do your best at maintaining focus so that you can quickly pick yourself right back up after a mistake.  Accountability partners are important.  Make sure that everyone in your inner circle knows the efforts you are making for your health and esthetics. You might get a little bit of backlash, but those who love you really do want to support you (We’ll talk later about the times when you’re not getting the support you want and need).

Client Amy:

Okay, but I kinda suck at sticking to my word when I tell my friends or loved ones the approach I’m going to be taking for my weight loss journey.  Do you know how many times I’ve told someone, “today I am intermittent fasting”, and an hour later I’m eating five cookies or a plate of cinnamon rolls? 

Trainer Amy:

Well, maybe you haven’t had enough skin in the game.  Maybe the consequences haven’t been big enough? Maybe the idea of your ideal body is just that, an idea, you don’t want it bad enough. It’s going to take some sacrifice, commitment. What are you willing to do or give up to finally meet the goals you have for yourself?  

I have an idea, here’s what you’re going to do….  You’re going to start a blog.  You’re going to share your whole weight loss journey with everyone that wants to follow along. You are a personal trainer and nutritionist, maybe someone out in cyberspace will benefit from the knowledge you can get out of your head and written down.  Maybe someone out in the world wide web will benefit from watching you succeed. You really do want to help others (and yourself) on their journey in fitness and nutrition.  

With this blog, you’re going to find your own success in weight loss by being completely transparent. You’re going to post pictures every step of the way. You’re going to tell the world what you weigh now, and every week for the whole year! This will allow for the weight loss period as well as the path of maintenance. You’re going to show the world your food logs, workouts, daily strategy plans and how the day actually turned out. You’re going to tell the world all about your mistakes, unplanned indulgences, etc. You are going for full vulnerability here.

This is going to be epic!

Client Amy:

Gulp… You want me to what!?!?

Trainer Amy:

You heard me. This is your best path. Let’s get at it!

Client Amy:

(tentatively, timidly, reluctantly). Okay… Let’s go show the world my love handles and cellulite!

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