Progress And Improvements

It seems when it comes to the subject and actuality of weight loss and health improvements there is a common thought that it should be big, bold, and dramatic to be counted as worthy and notable.

What? You only lost one pound this week?

Throw in the towel.

Have you ever seen one pound of fat? You may rethink that idea.

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Yet, we approach our attempts to lose weight and get healthy like that, we dismiss the seemingly not so important looking for something bigger and more grand.

We want that dramatic 5lbs gone in one week like the ad on social media promised. We want to be able to run faster and longer after just a month of starting to run. We think we can lift heavy like the guy at the gym ( only he’s been at it for a lot longer so he can lift more than you)

Stop being dramatic

I really write that in a joking way, but really, stop looking for the big and dramatic as “proof” there’s something going on for all your efforts.

When you or I or anyone decide we are going to take steps to start changing our lives, our bodies, or our mindsets, it will take time.

You don’t want some of those “instant” results. They just don’t last.

Progress IS progress.

Why have we been trained to think if we don’t always have big impressive things going on, it’s not worth our effort?

I was out on a ride a few weeks ago thinking about how I have to work my way back up to a level that I had last year before the duathlon. Sometimes I think it’s “unfair” that if I back off ( as I have to at a point ’cause¬†I can’t stay in peak forever ) that¬†I have to begin to build back up to that level of fitness again.

Like, why can’t it just permanently stick?

Ok in all fairness, even in my not “peak” condition, I still have a higher level of physical fitness than someone who doesn’t work out, but I¬†also have tons of room for progress and improvements in my game.

This was brought to my mind a few days ago in a new way as I took on a fairly huge hill, scaling it quickly and barely being out of breath that I had made progress since I started getting back at it a little over a month ago.

Building up your fitness level takes time, consistency, and uh, some more time.

Trust me, I took a brief moment to celebrate that victory at the top before I was plunged down the backside of that hill at full speed, before I turned around to head back up.

I was making progress.

The self improvement game

Maybe my progress is more than you want to think about or nothing you’d ever do. But you’re still gonna have ways of assessing how you are doing when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

We need to stop dismissing small victories as if they are nothing, when the reality is, they lead to larger victories.

Trust me, it took lots of smaller hills and lots more miles before I got to the point I am today.

If you start to focus and pay attention to those small things you will not only feel more grateful for what you are doing but you will appreciate reaching the bigger goal even more when you get there.

It’s such a journey for me to mentally look back at what I’ve had to do, to get to where I am today. I can see those smaller things so much more clearly as learning opportunities.

As you move forward whether it’s a process of losing weight, training for an event, or just wanting to be able to do something new on your own, be aware of those small steps leading you there.

What does progress look like ?

Each of us could answer that in a hundred different ways.  But overall, progress should involve a forward movement towards our specific goal.

Let’s consider losing weight. Setting aside the scale, or clothes fitting looser, which is everyone’s overall idea of “success” and “progress”.

Maybe there are other areas you haven’t considered….

Have you learned to listen to your body better and eat when you’re hungry and not just bored?

Or learned to eat enough to satisfy you without being self indulgent?

Did you bypass the fast food place on the way home for a “snack”?

What about making better food choices over poor ones you used to have?

Are you learning to speak kindly to yourself if you are used to speaking negative self talk?

Have you learned more to value and appreciate your body even if you don’t like something about it?

Do you celebrate more moments of self awareness and stopping yourself from impulsive choices?

Can you step on the scale and see a pound lost and celebrate that as being a bit closer to losing a 5 lb. goal?

Have you let go of old, tired food “rules” and “guilt” to embrace living and enjoying life, which also has food as a part of it?

Have you learned to see food as, food? And not label it “good” or “bad”?

What about in the ways of physical fitness?

If you couldn’t even get the desire to get off the sofa before but now you are at least going for an evening walk, do you see that as progress?

Do you see overcoming obstacles that challenge you and you push through as progress?

If you could hardly walk a mile when you started but now are doing 3 and considering signing up for your first 5K, well yeah, I seriously hope you see that as… progress ūüėČ

Do you do strength training? Can you lift things now that used to feel like you could barely squeak out 5 reps before you fell apart?

Do you feel stronger?

Can you lift more, go longer, push through things you previously didn’t?

You my friend, are making progress.

Of course we don’t want to dismiss things like…

good lab results at the doctor as evidence of changes going on in you from the choices you’ve been making.

Or the fact you have better mental clarity, feel less anxious, are more focused and perhaps are sleeping better because of choices you’ve made.

Perhaps you’ve gotten your relationship with food in order. Maybe now you have it in the proper place it belongs and you call the shots, not food.

And ok, yeah, it is cool when you’re jeans get looser, let’s be honest.

So many things we do are actual steps to progress and improvement with our health and fitness. We just need to learn to appreciate them and not minimize them as not as important as “just” losing weight.

If we take a careful look at all we do, it can encourage us to continue to press on in our journeys and not become weary and frustrated and make the ( not best) choice to give up and go back to our old, unproductive, unhealthy ways.

Choose to see progress and not instant results. It will make your journey far more enjoyable.

Tell me. Do you look for progress in yourself, or do you want to jump right to the end results quickly?

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Science Or Snake Oil

As a writer, there are many paths my mind goes when it comes to sitting down and deciding what I want to let out of my head. Sometimes I just feel like talking about life and things going on. Other times, because my blog is about health, fitness, living well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, my focus is zeroed in these areas.

One of the topics I haven’t written on lately is the ongoing, ever present, collection of products to “help” people lose weight.

Ya know, gimmicks and what not. People happily, willingly, fork their hard earned money over for the latest smoke and mirrors in an attempt to unload fat magically overnight.

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I hate to break it… but it just doesn’t work…or maybe for awhile they are encouraged and see some initial water weight loss and that can spur someone on to keep going… but it’s rare.

Most of the time they just have lighter bank accounts once the novelty has worn off.

So I’m on my soapbox again….

in the mega million dollar “health and wellness” industry, there’s always a new kid on the block. There’s always some product¬†that makes people hopeful that maybe this time, this new thing, will do the trick.

There’s one that recently caught my eye and of course I’ve started digging and reading on it.

I love when the … what do I call them? the sellers? business people? distributors? boldly post the ingredient list as if to proudly say “SEE this is what’s in it. All good and natural ingredients”

It just helps me so much. It helps my research to ferret out all those magical ingredients that lead to sweet dreams of health and being goal weight thin.

Gosh one ingredient, I do not exaggerate, has as many letters as the entire alphabet.

For real.

It should also be noted that the person writing the¬†review and nicely breaking down all the ingredients ( they obviously sold product X) first off mentions (that this product¬†that contains all the letters of alphabet) is chemically demonstrated….

So¬†there’s that, whatever that is.

Let’s establish this….

Just because a product tells you it’s made of “all natural ingredients”¬† doesn’t really mean squat.

The term “natural” is common in the supplement industry, but doesn’t always mean it’s safe. In fact there is no legal definition for natural. Often many plants that grow in nature can be deadly and natural supplements can still have added unnatural ingredients.

All natural¬† supplements don’t always mix well with other medications we may be taking. be sure to consult with your doctor before taking any.

Pay attention boys and girls, the “all natural” thing is a huge marketing and selling gimmick designed to make you feel comfortable and good about using their products. It encourages you to buy them because, well gosh, it’s all natural so it’s gotta be super good for me, right?

Don’t buy the hype.

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Other things to consider..

Do you know the FDA ( food and drug administration in the U.S.) has actually banned many ¬†“natural” substances that were being put into diet and weight loss aids and products?

Why you may ask?

Oh because of pesky little problems like accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath or even heart attacks from the stimulants of¬†these “natural” products.¬† Many of these natural ingredients are actually mother natures version of “speed”. They can accelerate your heart and breathing, leave you feeling jumpy, nervous or agitated or provide an upset stomach and headache¬†as well as (maybe) have effects of curbing appetite ( most likely from other said issues it causes)

In the US, herbal products and food supplements are largely unregulated.

That is, the products are not screened or subject to FDA approval
prior to their going on the market.  Rather, it is the product
manufacturer that has the responsibility to make sure that anything
being sold as a food supplement is safe… or to determine how much of what to put in the mix of everything.

For that reason, you will often see statements on herbal products or weight loss supplements¬†sold in the US to the effect of:¬† “This statement has not been evaluated by
the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or
prevent any disease”.

Let’s look at a current example….

one of the “natural” products on the market today that everyone is jumping on is green coffee bean extract derived from unroasted coffee beans. It is currently among the worlds most popular weight loss supplements.

Basically, keeping it short, it’s claim to fame is supposedly to cause more fat loss by increasing body heat.

Green coffee bean extract comes from coffee beans that haven’t been roasted. Coffee beans contain compounds known as chlorogenic acids. Some believe these compounds have antioxidant effects, help lower blood pressure, and help you lose weight. Roasting coffee reduces chlorogenic acid content.

It’s interesting to note in all the articles I read it stated it “may” help with weight loss or lowering blood pressure etc.

There isn’t much testing or proof done on this topic to be totally conclusive and because of this there is always a lack of evidence on it’s safety. Studies are small, not long term and for the most part poorly designed.

Because there is no regulation on this manufactures can use the amounts they choose in their products. As mentioned previously, the jury is still out on the fact there isn’t enough evidence to support the claims for this product.

Speaking of evidence ….

As I read this glowing report on this particular product, she indicated “studies” had been done on the effectiveness of it. Well, of course I wanted to see who had done them and what some of the results were.

I mean, in all fairness, let’s see what they revealed. Maybe I was being a bit unfair.

Well, it turns out the studies were actually done by the company selling the product. I might be a wee bit cynical here but, I don’t see that as some kind of scientific, conclusive proof.

And of course the contestants who used said wonder product, were losing all the weight.

A company doing their own testing, to me, is not the most compelling evidence.

In summary….

not just this product but thousands  of others are not well tested, have limited evidence for their claims, and are not regulated by food and drug administration on any level.

It’s important to be mindful of what you take, especially if you already take medications.

Also understand¬†that as sweet, good or well intending your pedaling neighbor or family member is, they are simply regurgitating the company driven info that comes to them in their sales packets. The majority most likely know nothing of the effects of ingredients that ¬†are in products ¬†beyond what they’ve been told.

And of course there is the simple truth that you will not find a magic formula to help you quickly knock off the weight to get your dream body.

You just have to get that the old fashioned way. Sensible, healthy eating, the right amount of calories for your body and purposeful exercise, that and  that alone is your key to success.

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Food And Guilty Feelings

Food and guilt. If there’s ever a time I hear people talking about what they ate and feeling guilty over it, it’s after a holiday.

We just wrapped up the big celebratory 4th of July here in the states on Wed.¬† A summer holiday offering all kinds of tasty food treats… everything from outdoor BBQ, hotdogs, apple pie, salads etc it’s a day built for family and food.

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Now I’m not gonna verbally slap you if you are one of those who take on guilt for eating or eating to much or eating all of your favorite thing ( where DID those brownies go??)¬† but seriously, guilt and food do not and should not go hand in hand.

However it is a tendency for people to do so, especially after a holiday.

Why do we have those feelings?

Seriously. Why do we food shame? Why do we entertain thoughts of guilt when food is such a huge part of our lives and is enjoyed with family and friends?

If we indulge and we’ve labeled foods as “good” or “bad” and we indulge in the “bad” then we somehow have put ourselves into categories of good or bad, strong or weak, worthy or unworthy.

“I didn’t eat dessert while everyone else did. I am stronger than they are”¬†¬† or “I ate dessert and I’m¬† trying to diet. I’m so weak.

As if being strong, good and worthy somehow makes us better for passing on the food or eating that extra brownie makes us weak and unworthy.

Both ways of thinking are not right.

Both ways can lead to dysfunctional thinking with food. If you missed my post on food and dysfunctional thinking, find it here   https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/06/06/food-and-dysfunctional-thinking/

In some ways we are wired to restrict ourselves and when we let go of that “restriction” those negative feelings can come.

But hey… get this… our inability to resist “forbidden” foods isn’t a moral failing… ok?

It might not be the best for you to go back for a third serving or eat until your stomach is stuffed and tight, but it’s not a moral failing.

I hope in time, if over eating is a problem for you, that you can get balance to that in your life.

But feeling guilty when we are hanging with friends or family and eating food while having a good time, well it’s not right.

I mean at Christmas when I make my famous cut out sugar cookies that I adore ( seriously they are¬† made with a whole pack of real butter, and a package of cream cheese) I eat them… and I don’t always keep track of them either.

Does anyone really NEED a sugar cookie… or 12… ?¬† I’m not that bad… but you follow.

It’s all about that balance…..

When we put those foods into “good” or “bad” groups and restrict ourselves, the more prone we are to want to eat what we’ve deemed “bad”. Then when we give in and eat them ( maybe at a holiday ) then we tend to over indulge, over eat, because of the restrictions we’ve placed on ourselves.

I mean, isn’t a holiday the perfect time to take the brakes off and just let it all go? Ugh.. the times I hear this at the approaching “holiday season”

Then enter our friend, Mr. Guilt, who is there to remind you of what a failure you are and how you’ll always be weak to doing this and you might as well give it up and forget about it..

But here’s a novel thought…..

When you have balance to your eating, you don’t have the good food/bad food game going on.

Food is just food.

Some foods definitely do not support an overall healthy lifestyle and shouldn’t be heavily indulged in, for sure.¬† On a daily basis our eating should reflect good, natural, healthy foods to maintain a¬†balanced weight and health.

A current example in my life I can share is this. The other day I really, and I mean, really, wanted French fries.

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They are hands down at the top of my “favorite non-essential foods” list.¬† I rarely eat them.¬† Why? Because I know (overall) a frequent intake of them does not support my health and fitness goals.

I also know, having them occasionally won’t sabotage my fitness level or overall health.

So I went to a place I knew wouldn’t disappoint ’cause if I’m gonna eat them, they better be good.

They were amazing. Hot, crispy, salted just right. Totally worth every useless calorie.

I enjoyed them, no guilt attached.

So how do you make the guilt stop?

Ok let’s be honest, at a point, you know you’ve had more food than what¬†you really need, right?¬† Unfortunately those feelings just become a vicious circle of feeling bad, then eating again to feel better about feeling bad.

The reason we feel this way is what I mentioned above, the place of restriction so many keep themselves in.

When you don’t restrict yourself it means all the food is available to you. It takes power away because it’s no longer in the “off limits” section.

That may seem scary to some of you… I mean… nothing restricted? what if I just go crazy and eat it all the time?

What if you do? I don’t think you will though.

I tell you,¬† even if you may be tempted to have your favorite thing for days, the novelty will wear off. You may not want it at all because now you won’t be thinking of it as something you “can’t” have.¬† In time those foods will have less and less pull on you, meaning when you go to a holiday meal you can enjoy the things you love without going crazy because well, you haven’t long term restricted yourself.

It’s a pretty free place to be.

How to stop food guilt.

My mom used to say “what’s done is done”

If you’ve had a moment and you know you went overboard, nothing is gonna change that.

You CAN however learn from it.

Forget the whole “negate what you ate” nonsense by thinking you’re gonna workout extra hard the next day. You can’t undo what you ate. You can get up and go workout as you always do and that will be fine.

Think about how you feel afterwards. Do you really like the feelings that come with it? Now days, I tend to get annoyed with myself for mindlessly eating something that offers no benefit to me. I know better and therefore, get frustrated that I didn’t do what I know to do, which is walk away.

Stop restrictive thinking and behaviors.¬† So what if you might have a day or two where you slip or make choices you aren’t happy with?

Welcome to the club, we all do it.  The key is to keep moving forward, learning from the choices we make and growing in positive ways.

Don’t quit. For heavens sake don’t quit.

Stop shaming yourself. Own what you did and move on. Like anything, with repetitive practice, the things we do become new habits. In time you will learn to eat with a healthier balance and check system.

Make a list of five foods you enjoy but feel guilty about eating.¬† Write down the reason why you feel guilt over it. Is it rational or irrational? Is it scientifically true?¬† Then for each of those write something positive about it. It’s taste, nutritional value, how it smells, feelings it evokes. There is no right or wrong answer to this.¬† Then allow yourself to pick one of these at a time, eat it, think about it, enjoy it.¬† What do you enjoy most about it? If any guilty feelings come up, use your positive statements to push them away. In time you might determine some foods on your list aren’t worth keeping and that’s ok too.

Guilt and eating do not need to go hand in hand, it is another form of how our thinking has become disordered with food.

Remember food guilt at it’s best is emotional baggage. Learn to let go of it.

Your turn. Have you ever struggled with guilty feelings and eating? How did you overcome them? Or do you still struggle with those feelings?

 

The Pursuit Of A Dream Body

I was updating my Instagram account recently and after I had finished was just randomly scrolling through different accounts. I follow so many people who are strong and active. They are amazing athletes and their physical bodies are carved from the work they invest to their sport.  They do big things that encourage and remind me I can keep on shooting for the stars when it comes to pursuing bigger goals.

Then there are the accounts that are almost **yawn** same old, same old, ¬†women posed into a mirror, butts popped out ( the bigger the better now days, right?), tight shirts with artificial breasts spilling out, zero body fat, lean abs, plenty of makeup…. you may have seen pages like that. Many proclaim to be fitness trainers, personal trainers etc

I’m not like, being critical here, I’m just saying my goals and efforts are aimed in a different direction. What I choose to follow reflects my pursuits.

I want to be out working hard and looking like a hot mess with no make up, sweat flying every where as I crush another workout…or it crushes me… haha

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My oh so glamorous IG photo ūüėõ

 

As I glanced at one of these accounts one of the captions jumped out at me. ¬†I’ve seen it before in various places…

“Contact me to help get your dream body today!”

Listen, the amount of fitness “coaches” on IG is as plentiful as flies at a summer picnic on the potato salad.

Some are most likely legit, others, well the jury might still be out.

That being said, no one will help you get your dream body but you and few will achieve it.

Ok, so why won’t they?

When I got my Charger R/T Max 2 years ago, I was a happy camper. ( I still am) Aside from looking like it can eat your lunch, I can¬†hit it on the highway in mere seconds¬†to head spinning speeds ( hubby loves it when I tell him that…. haha… not.)

Not to mention it has tons of other super cool features too it but this isn’t a car and road post so I won’t bore you ūüėČ

The car I would’ve LOVED to have scooped up if ya know, the money thing wasn’t an issue, would’ve been the Charger SRT Hellcat.

Hello 0-60 mph¬†in 3.4 seconds which makes my 0-60 in¬†8 seem…slow….

There are limited editions made each year and they also go to people who bust their butts and work for them. The people who own them have had to invest a lot to get that amazing car. They don’t have it without¬†putting in¬†the work for it.

You following me here?

People who have amazing bodies or maybe their “dream” body, have had to bust their butt and work for it. And they have to work hard.

Well what does that look like, the illusive dream body?

Well, that of course could vary person to person. So many women today seem to want what’s pushed on them through social media or what they see in magazines.¬† I guess it would be a similar thing for guys too.

I mean really, when I started on my journey 8 years ago if you’d asked me I would’ve said my dream body would be strong, functional and most of all healthy. It’s still at the top of my list now, even more so.

I’m not overly hung up on having my body try and look certain ways.

Abs though… ok… well maybe those are up there… ūüėČ

There’s just something about those lines and ripples that I kinda dig. And being that I’m getting closer and closer to my Senior citizen discount breakfast, I consider it a victory of sorts.

But that doesn’t come without work and effort. And sometimes I’m more cut depending on my training and how lean I’m getting. It’s a process I’ve learned to roll with

Really though, my goals are to keep my body strong and healthy so I can do life and do my athletic stuff for a long time. I don’t need to try and shape myself into the current “trend”. I have though, been shaped by the very activities I enjoy doing so it’s almost a side effect, my changing body composition, to what I do.

It’s ok though to have your own personal goals or perhaps “image” of what you want to strive for. In fact, it would be helpful pursuing it if you did know what you wanted.

Maybe your ultimate dream body would be losing weight and being 50 pounds less.

Perhaps you want to strive for a weight you were when you were younger ( not always the best sometimes) the weight you were when you were younger might not be as suited for you being older when 5 or 10 lbs would be more flattering

You may want to have a body with more visible muscle or maybe you want a body that can go run a 5k. Maybe you haven’t been able to run and it’s a dream of yours.

But for the illusive body of strong muscled proportions with low body fat and seemingly perfect appearance, like the Hellcat, most will not invest what’s required to make it happen to own it.

It’s that discipline thing

We aren’t given things in life, for most of us, we have to work for them. The same goes for our bodies.

When I see¬†someone who’s really fit, and yeah they stand out, it’s hard for me to not admire them. And I don’t mean in a weird way, I admire them for what I know it took them to get there, I admire the discipline I know is a part of their life because that’s the major thing to starting towards any goal.

It takes discipline to get out the door, to the gym, to run, to cycle to intentionally go lift really heavy things. It takes discipline to go to Crossfit or those nightly classes for strength. It takes discipline to eat well and past on foods or drinks that don’t support those goals.

But we want the easy way sometimes, right?

Nothing makes me feel more sad than to see smart people commenting on weight loss posts clamoring at the latest “miracle” that will quickly help them lose weight and get their dream body. The sad fact is, all they will lose is their money and even if it did work, it certainly wouldn’t teach them the discipline and drive needed to be successful at it, and keep at it.

The bottom line is, people just don’t realize how hard it will be.

All the other factors

there are so many other things that will hinder someone from the pursuit of their “dream” body.

  • Procrastination. Stop putting it off till “Monday” or after a “holiday” or whatever, just start. Procrastination is the killer of dreams.
  • It’s hard! Understand changing your body won’t be easy and but when you get that, you’ll be in the right frame of mind.
  • No room for error is allowed. There will be a day you just want a cookie, or two. This is not a¬†reason to throw in towel and go on an all out binge or think you’ve failed. . Those cookies won’t take down your hard work, but a food binge will make you feel bad physically and mentally.¬† Eat it and move on.
  • You’re hungry. Eat adequate food, enough but not to much and make sure each meal has plenty of protein, that’s your friend to keep you from getting hungry.
  • You workout hard, but eat harder. Don’t use your workouts to justify eating more food.
  • You drink a lot of calories. Seriously, all those sugary drinks whether coffees or sodas, smoothies, shakes, all those calories add up and liquid calories also leave you hungry sooner. Watch your consumption of those things.
  • You over complicate things. Really, losing weight is a pretty straightforward process. If you want to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. If you want to gain some muscle, eat more and lift heavier weights. Don’t get caught up in all the trends… “don’t eat dairy or grains or whatever”, “don’t eat after 7″ ,”eat 6 meals a day” “eat all the fat!” etc etc. Don’t complicate the system.
  • Understand friends or family won’t always cheer you or support your efforts. Focus on you and don’t worry about the rest.
  • Calories matter. I’m not a calorie counter but I do understand my body has a specific amount it can operate on to support my life and activities, more than that I gain weight, less I’ll lose. Same for you. Know what you need and learn to operate in that zone.
  • You aren’t motivated enough. We all have our “thing” that can drive us. Find what motivates you to chase after your goals.¬† Without motivation, you aren’t going anywhere.
  • You only think in short term limits.¬† 30 days out, 60 days out. Most “plans” only make you think that far like you aren’t going to want to keep going or need direction past that. You need long term goals as well. Your body goals won’t be accomplished in a matter of weeks or a couple months. Where will you be in a year or two?
  • You weight yourself to much. Really, stay off the damn scale! It will only side track you and make you feel like a loser on some days when you don’t need to feel that way. The scale doesn’t measure you’re overall “worth”, those numbers don’t define you or make you a better person. AND it certainly isn’t an indicator of your total health. If you absolutely must, once a week is adequate. ( find my posts on the scale here….) https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/03/29/why-ive-given-up-on-the-scale/¬†¬† https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/08/27/the-scale-experiment/¬†¬†¬† https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/03/12/that-stupid-scale/
  • You are always comparing yourself to others or worse, Hollywood stars or your more fit friend. ¬†Stop it. You are you. You won’t look like them or be shaped like them. You have a different muscle structure and body size. ¬†Learn to appreciate every single inch of who you are. Looking at others and comparing will only make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Don’t let someone tell you that you look “okay”. Really. Why would anyone ever discourage someone from improving themselves by saying they look “okay”? That’s a key word for just stay as you are.
  • You don’t even have a solid idea of what your “dream” body is. Without some concrete ideas, you will be spinning your wheels. Have ideas of what you’d like to work towards or achieve, it will help move you to your goals and know how you need to plan.
  • You haven’t visualized how awesome it will feel to have your body the way you want it.¬† Like anything that takes hard work and discipline, building your body or changing it will take a lot of work but it’s totally possible when you make a commitment to it and discipline yourself to do the things that will get you there.

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That discipline word…

I enjoy helping and encouraging others on their health and fitness journeys. I’m certainly not an “expert” but I’ve learned a lot over the past few years. The biggest thing I had to remind a young woman of the other day is that right now, where she’s at, she is building the discipline of taking herself out each day for her exercise.

Discipline is crucial for her long term success.

It’s great to think you’ll always be motivated with the idea of pursuing your dream body, your goal weight or your muscled arms. The reality is you won’t, I won’t ,no one will always be motivated to get up and do the work required.

When you’ve been consistent and have built daily discipline through your fitness routines, you will fall into that when motivation is lagging.

There are days it is purely my discipline that gets me out on the road. I know that once I’m out there, I will then do what I’m there to do. Some days might be stronger or faster than others but the fact remains, I got out there. I didn’t make an excuse to not go get it done.

Our goals are often lost in our excuses of reasons why we “can’t” do something.

Know what you want and go for it.

Understand that having a different body will require work, effort, and a ton of self discipline to build it. No one will do it for you. No one will be pushing you ( unless you get a tough personal trainer) but at the end of the day it will come down to the effort you put into your eating and exercise.

Get real with your ideas and goals, determine what you need to do, don’t procrastinate and start taking steps to making it happen.

Do you have an ideal “dream” body? Do you have goals you want for yourself? How attainable do they feel to you?

Food And Dysfunctional Thinking

You don’t have to read to far, turn on the tv, or surf the¬†web to see¬†statements like this screaming at you…..

“Grains are bad for you!”, “Bread is bad for you”, “Dairy is bad for you”, ” Sugar is the devil and will kill you”, ” Starches are bad for you”, “Carbs are bad for you”, “Detox your body from poisons (bad foods)”, “Do a “cleanse” to help your body”, “You have to be hungry to lose weight”, “You can’t lose weight unless you cut out “these” foods” “You must only eat organic foods”, “You must eat only pricey beef or other foods” ( for the best health) “Skipping meals will help you lose weight”, “You need to do this “diet” to lose weight and be successful” “I ate to much yesterday so¬†I need to workout really hard today to take away those¬†calories” (as if) ¬†“Gluten free!”¬† “Fat free!” …..

food good or bad
Truth.

 

 

Oh, I could go on but I won’t ’cause I want you to stay with me.

You get it. You’ve heard it.

So many times when I hear these things, I roll my eyes. I can’t help it, when I hear nonsense, it kinda just happens.

My mom¬†used to yell at me when I did if for something she said… haha

What on earth has happened to us that we buy into and believe such dysfunctional ¬†thinking with food and our bodies? Why are we made to feel bad or guilty for eating food and satisfying a natural hunger? ¬†Why are we taught food is bad?¬†Why do we believe foods are “bad”? ¬†How do some¬†learn to obsess over everything¬†they eat and feel bad for it?¬†¬†How do we develop this¬†dysfunctional thinking ?

Worse yet, why do we follow along with an ideology or a certain camp of thinking, especially if it’s the current trendy thing to do, or our friends are doing it?

Sometimes, maybe we are a bit like sheep, eh?

First things first.

I want to address the fact that for some people, on a completely legit level, may have particular food allergies that necessitate removing particular foods. There are a small percentage of people who truly have celiac disease and have to live a gluten free life. Some may have experimented and realized maybe they feel better without certain foods than having them.

Real food issues that involve real health issues are important and need care and attention.

This is not what I’m addressing here.

Now that issue is settled….

Food isn’t bad for you.

Seriously. Food isn’t bad. Saying something is “bad” for you is¬† more disordered thinking of the world we live in and the¬†lies we’ve bought into.

We’ve bought into feeling¬†guilty over food. We’ve bought into thinking we should feel bad about what we eat. We’ve been taught we have to obsess over calories and most of all, there has to be a level of suffering involved with losing weight and how much food we get. We’ve been told if we eat, we’ll get fat so we learn to deprive ourselves and be miserable.

diet cycle
How dysfunctional thinking begins

 

 

Where has such wrong thinking come from?

Yes, many foods do not provide the best nutritional quality for your body. Having a soda over a glass of ice water is hardly a good nutritional choice. But if you only have one when you eat pizza and you have pizza maybe once a month, then it’s really not a big deal.

Daily sodas can pack on serious pounds fast, in that situation you need to assess, is that good for you ? Are sodas impacting your health.

Soda in and of itself isn’t “bad” used in moderation. ¬†Not the best choice perhaps but not some evil thing.

Oh those carbs

I guess one of the comments I hate hearing is that “carbs” are bad for you.

I guess if we’re gonna split it out, let’s define those carbs.

Simple carbs that are found in those “not as¬†nutritional food choices” would be carbs found in cakes, cookies, pastries, muffins,¬†chips, fast foods, sodas, candy,¬†sugared drinks, etc.

You should only consume those products minimally for optimal health.

Complex carbs, now those are a different creature. Fruits and veggies are loaded with complex carbs that are good energy sources for our bodies providing tons of vitamins and minerals which also helps protect against diseases, build cells, protect our vision. help our digestive system and major organs, fill us up for minimal calories, and so many offer anti-aging benefits as well.

Whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans etc also offer up a dense and nutritionally packed power punch for energy.

Sadly, these carbs are often viewed as the bad and shunned. Worse yet some “diet” plans entirely¬†remove these food groups.

Real, natural, whole food labeled as “bad”.

Oh that sugar….

if there’s one thing that’s been heavily demonized is sugar. Again, as I mentioned, there are things we need to be mindful of in our daily diets. You shouldn’t be consuming a lot of sugar. That too, will pack on¬†pounds if you’re eating those cookies and muffins on the daily. Don’t forget your sugary drinks you might enjoy as well.

Sugar in a modest amount isn’t “bad”.¬† If you have a weakness for it, then it might be that you make the choice to purposefully limit or stay away from it if it cause you to stumble in your health goals or to binge.

And fat free….

speaking of sugar, it leads me to the “fat free” thought. Get rid of fat it’s “bad” for you. Don’t eat fat.

Again like the carb lies, there are good fats and “bad” fats. Ironically, the fats that are not in your best health interest are also in many of the simple carbs I listed as well.

Years ago when the fat free rage was at it’s highest point and I was beginning to navigate the waters of health I learned a sobering truth while reading a label on some “fat free” cookies.

The calorie content was ridiculous! But why?? These were fat-free.

Listen, when you remove necessary fat from baked goods, you get essentially something that tastes like a cardboard shoebox.

To sell their product it had to have some taste so they majorly upped the sugar in their “fat free” cookies.

And the people eagerly bought into it. Because  fat free certainly must mean calorie free.

I realized if I wanted two “normal” cookies, I could do so with less calories involved. But then hey, the trend was normal cookies were “bad”.

Those other things I listed….

Cleanses and detoxes are awful for your body. Those are bad. Don’t do them. They just feed our disordered thinking on food and nutrition.

Skipping meals will not help you lose weight. You WILL be hungry and think about food all the time… so it’s a bit dysfunctional to ignore your bodies physical needs.

You cannot hit the gym the next day to “work off” food and drink from the day before. You can’t “negate what you ate”.¬† What you can do is get back on track with your eating and do sensible exercise. Again, more disordered thinking that we could actually lose calories we sucked recklessly in the day before.

There is no diet that is some magic wand to help you lose weight. At the end of each day, you have a calorie deficit. THAT is how you lose weight. Run away if some product or diet is making wild promises. It just isn’t true.

You don’t have to eat organic or buy meats that cost you a weeks worth of pay. For many people, it is way out of their budget to do so. ¬†I might suggest if you started eating more fruits and veggies you’d be on the road to a healthier lifestyle and wellness. Again, we’ve been conditioned to “believe” these things by a select group.

Foods that don’t fall in those categories (organic etc)¬†¬†aren’t “bad” or “robbed” of nutrients.

Could I make a radical suggestion here?

If food in general isn’t “bad”, perhaps it’s our behaviors with certain foods that are “bad”.

Perhaps we lack a level of control with certain foods. Maybe the mere taste of something pushes us to eat more. There might be foods that trigger our eating.¬† Maybe our emotions are what cause us to indulge in things we don’t need or eat excessively. Perhaps our mouth just wants to eat even if our stomach isn’t physically hungry.

These are behavior issues we have. The food, is what’s¬†used to support those behaviors.

Withholding food from ourselves or over indulging in food is dysfunctional thinking. We can’t medicate with or without food.

We have to get real with ourselves and know where our weak areas are.

It has been easier in the world¬†to make food be “bad” then it is to examine¬†issues that cause bad behaviors with food.

The bottom line

We have to change our thinking with food and how we interact with it. We have to stop thinking of it in negative ways and look at our own behaviors with it.

If you realize you may have some struggles with how you view food or the choices you make you might consider writing those things down and then setting small goals for yourself in ways to changes those behaviors or thoughts. Perhaps you might need an accountability partner, someone who you can confide in and you could walk with you and help you with those changes.

Listen, I believe eating well the majority of the time is important to living a healthy life, having energy and looking good.

I also like cake and occasionally some French fries.¬† I’ve grown in my understanding and relationship with food to not have any guilt connected to it. Life is to be enjoyed and sometimes it means having fries or cake or whatever may float your boat.

There are things like alcohol, processed foods, excess sugar, and high fats ( not the good kind) that not only aren’t good for your health, but contribute to your aging process as well. Again, those should all be used cautiously.

Keeping a  healthy balance in your daily nutrition not only will keep you from dysfunctional thinking about food, but will let you have your cake and eat it too.

In moderation, of course ūüėČ

cake

Food The Socially Acceptable Drug

Hello world! We’re back on regular scheduled topics today. Thanks for letting me share and talk about my newest hobby/ adventure on flipping vintage and antique furniture in my last few posts. I appreciate your feedback on it and I’m pretty sure you’ll still be able to find some of my current projects on my Monday Musings posts.

If you missed the furniture posts you can find them here….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/22/the-art-of-flipping-furniture/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/23/steps-to-transforming-vintage-furniture/

Todays topic though, we’re gonna get a little more serious and talk about something that we all need and use every day.

 

food drug

Food.

We all like to eat, right? And we need food at it’s basic level for fuel for our bodies to run on and to have energy for all our daily tasks and work.

Factors like our age, sex, body type, and activity levels, will largely determine how much food we need for optimal health and performance in our day. No one is the same in their needs.

Don’t eat enough for your body and activity level, you’ll lose weight.

Eat to much for your body and activity level, you’ll gain weight.

For many though food poses a harsher darker side. Food is as addictive and pleasing to the sensory part of our brains as drugs and alcohol are to others.

Food though. is completely and totally acceptable. No one considers it a form of medication to our deeper needs like we view alcohol or drug abuse.

Medicate me please….

We don’t really like to consider that we may use food to medicate deeper needs within ourselves.¬† We don’t (maybe)want to get that real and personal with our pain, our anxiety, our hurts or fears.

Emotional eating is as damaging to our bodies as other forms that are used to make people feel better. I wrote an entire post on emotional eating that you can find here…

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/08/09/understanding-emotional-eating/

All of us emotionally eat at any given time. It’s not all “bad”. We can eat for celebrations and enjoying time out with friends, we can get ice cream just because we “feel good”. I mean really, who is ever hungry for cake? It’s something we do because we enjoy it and that’s ok ’cause life is meant to be enjoyed.

However….

Habitual overeating can lead to obesity or eating disorders like bulimia. Obesity is becoming more and more of a health issue and causes many chronic ( preventable)  diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Foods people use to medicate can simply vary by individual. Everything from sweets to fried foods or maybe a certain style of food.

The act of¬†eating¬† soothes that “thing” within that troubles us. It can momentarily make us feel better and give a sense of comfort or peace. A false sense.

That type of behavioral  eating also broods other negatives as in self loathing or negative talk over what was eaten as the person feels guilty for doing it.

It can then lead one¬†to other extreme behaviors of perhaps, restricting or cutting back on foods, withholding food, crazy “miracle” diet ideas, or¬†cleanses or detoxes as a way to “negate” or get rid of what’s been done.

You cannot “undo” what has been done. You can choose to change the next behavior or choice.

it’s a whirlwind of self destructive behaviors while never possibly grasping the “why’s” of what’s being done.

It’s a process of understanding and learning why we do what we do and what triggers us to make those choices to medicate ourselves with food.

How can we counteract this?

People often dismiss the overall benefits of exercise. They often associate it as something you do to “lose weight” or to stay in good physical shape. They make jokes about it or moan about “having” to do it.

I get it. Been there done that. Exercise IS hard work and does require a healthy amount of discipline up front to make it a “habit” that you want to stick with.

I always tell people if they will just start, make that commitment, and give it a few weeks to begin to feel like a new habit it will be easier and really, they will begin to anticipate it.

Where both of those are true and helpful ( weight loss and staying in good shape)  exercise has far more wide reaching benefits to our body and mind.

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health.

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood.

Exercise has shown to help/improve mild to moderate depression without the side effects of medication.  Exercise is a powerful depression fighter. it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins.

Stay focused on what you are doing instead of zoning out. Think about how your body feels, how you breathe, the feel of the wind on your skin and things like that.

There’s nothing I love more than being out on the road for a run, hearing my feet hit the road, the sound of my breathing, maybe the wind blowing and nothing else that is a calm to my mind and soul.

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

There’s a lot of other benefits too…..

Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.

Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise a day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.

Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.

You may be thinking you don’t have the time or it seems daunting to even start the process. The good news is that really, even a good 15 minute brisk walk every day can help boost your mood.

Let’s face it, everyone has at least 15 minutes, right?

Of course you’ll want to build that time up to reap bigger and better rewards not only mentally but physically too.

Overcoming obstacles

even intellectually knowing and understanding that exercise can help you mentally, it’s just not often that easy to jump into it.

Exercise obstacles are a very real thing.

For example:

Feeling tired. It’s hard to imagine going for a walk or whatever activity you’ve chosen if you feel like all you want is a nap. Studies show that exercise greatly reduces fatigue and even telling yourself just a 5 minute walk will most likely lead to a longer one.

Feeling overwhelmed. With all of life’s demands and things expected of us plus dealing with mental health issues, the idea of adding one more thing to your plate can seem daunting. Begin to think of it as a priority and you will find ways to fit small amounts into your schedule.

Feeling bad about yourself. We are and tend to be, our own worst critics. Embrace¬†where you are and determine to think¬†in positive ways about yourself. ¬† No matter your age, size, fitness level etc there are people everywhere like you who are on the same path to wanting to get fit. Appreciate your body for what it can do for you and celebrate ways you are learning to take better care of it. It’s really ok to love yourself.

Starting small is the first important step and it’s really ok to start small. You don’t want to do to much to soon. Consistency will be the key to long term success. Commit to do something daily, no matter how small, and build on that.

Getting started in an exercise program is a good step towards having a healthy mind and spirit, to reduce stress and anxiety and maybe even, counteract negative behavior patterns with food and eating.

 

The Equality Of The Calorie

Calories. You can’t see a label on a food package, or now days be in a restaurant, without noticing the calorie count. If you are someone who “diets” then you might be controlled by counting calories in your day and monitoring them in the foods you eat or you may go through your day oblivious to them.

You may be waking up right now trying to get your first cup of coffee in and wondering why on earth we’re talking about calories already and “Oh my word… is she really holding a powdered donut in her hand with a box of spinach??”¬† as you note the picture I’m using for todays post.

20180404_184035
Yes. That’s a powdered donut. Yes, I find them kinda tasty… occasionally.

 

Yeah, you aren’t seeing things and yes we are considering calories in todays post.

But first.. what IS a calorie?

You ever realize there are things you “know” about, but don’t necessarily “think” about?¬† Like, calories have been a part of our lives forever, but do you really sit around pondering them? Other than understanding to many of them make you fat and to few make you skinny?

Simplified, a calorie is a unit of energy. In nutrition, calories refer to the energy people get from the food and drink they consume and the energy they use through physical activities.

Calories are essential for human health. The key for all of us is consuming the right amount for our health and daily activities.

There are “standard” guidelines put out suggesting what men and women need as an average each day. I¬† don’t entirely agree with that since I think caloric intake is really determined person to person based on many different factors including sex, age, size and activity level.

I may be a woman, but based on my physical training, there are probably many days I require more calories than a lot of men. I also know there are days I need less calories based on my daily activities. For me, not every day will have the exact same calorie need. Understanding your body, knowing what you do, and all other factors will play into what you need each day.

 

calorie

Other calorie facts….

People in the U.S. consume more than 11% of their daily calories from fast food.¬† ūüė¶

Foods high in energy and low in nutritional value provide empty calories. The parts of food that provide empty calories contain virtually no dietary fiber, amino acids, anti-oxidants, dietary minerals, or vitamins.

That being said… you shouldn’t be eating many of these foods on the daily…

Meaning, not all calories are created equal

Now back to that powdered donut….

I’m not ignorant of calories, I have a good rough estimate of what my body needs to operate on. I also understand that my caloric needs vary as to if I’m laying around for the day or if I’ve put in a lot of miles that morning on foot or bike, or both. I know that on given days my needs can look different. It’s been a road of learning on that issue.

I do not obsess over calories. I know and understand their place in my life but I don’t monitor and count them

No. Just no.

But one morning I had this revelation. I was stumbling around the kitchen and I wanted one of those donuts.

I like them, ok?¬† Don’t judge me.

There’s just something about their sweet powdery goodness that gets to me.¬† And I’ll tell you, not all are created equal either. I bought a different brand one time, took one bite of one, and didn’t touch them after that. Yuck.

But as I was drooling all over one eating it, I happened to actually glance at the calorie content on bag.

I mean, who really looks at that when they are stuffing donuts in their face?

Oh no, ignorance is bliss in that regard. Am I right my donut loving friends??

Well I couldn’t help but notice how it informed me that 4 of them would cost me….250 calories.

I did a double take. I thought my beady little eyes weren’t open fully yet and were misreading ’cause I’m old and that print isn’t what it used to be, ya know?

Nope, it was there big and bold. 250cal for 4 measly little delicious donuts.

I should mention, I never actually eat 4. Usually 2 is enough to satisfy that urge and I put them away. But it got me to thinking of foods I could have that delivered up a lot more volume and bang for my caloric buck.

I mean really, if you only get a certain number in a day, don’t you want them to have as much packed into them as possible?

Not all calories are created equal

notallcaloriesarecreatedequal

As mentioned above, empty calorie foods don’t contain the healthy nutrients your body needs. They are often high in fats ( not the good kinds) and sugars. Therefore, foods we eat each day should be nutrient dense and contain the calories we need for good health and sustaining our daily activities.

If I chose 4 small donuts at 250 calories, (130 of those coming from fat) that certainly isn’t going fill me up and will most likely cause my blood sugar to spike then I’ll come off the sugar rush.

Now consider my carton of spinach. A serving size is considered 3 cups. It contains 20 calories.

20 calories… for 3 cups.

I could honestly consume the whole carton for less than 100 calories.

Now you’re sitting there thinking… “spinach vs. donuts??” no contest… I’d take the donuts.

I can tell you this, when I use¬†a lot of spinach with other veggies, whipped up with some eggs for breakfast not only is my appetite satisfied, I’m not hungry for a long time. I can consume plenty of food because ( not all calories are equal remember?) meaning all those veggies and protein fill me up and keep me satisfied for hours without any of that sluggish feeling you may get eating things like donuts or pancakes or cereals and for only a small fraction of the calories.

Not to mention all those veggies, fruits and protein deliver lots of good things to feed my body in a healthy way that gives me plenty of energy and keeps me decently lean.

It’s a win/win thing.

I’m not sure about you, but I’d like to eat a decent amount of food that fills me up, but isn’t calorie laden either.

So it’s a matter of choices….

Whether you’re out to lose some weight, or just maintain a healthy place where you are now it all comes down to the caloric choices we make each day.

You can eat a whole lot of nutrient dense foods that offer tons of good health benefits for your body, that really fill you up and will contribute to weight loss or you can choose foods that are higher calorie, less nutrients and will not help you lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle.

A few things to consider;

pay attention to those labels. Note the serving sizes and calories for serving. People as a rule greatly over estimate a correct serving size.

Consider things you can swap out for a lower and healthy calorie count.

Find foods you can eat and enjoy that give you the most bang for your calorie buck.

Have a good working idea of how many calories you personally need each day to maintain or to lose weight then choose your foods wisely to support your goals and daily activities.

And hey, remember, it’s ok to have that donut now and then. ūüėČ

How aware of you are calories Do you think about them? Do you count them?