Healthy Eating Tips For Dummies

One of the most overarching things I hear ( and read) are from people who want to eat healthier, who desire to do so, but often seem at a loss of where exactly to begin.

I mean, really, it shouldn’t BE hard, right?

Get the good food, eat the good food.

Why on earth are chocolate covered donuts in the basket??!

Seriously though…..

As I write this I’ll toss out the disclaimer that I’m certainly no expert on perfect nutrition. I openly and freely share my vices with you….hello powdered sugar donuts and salt and pepper kettle chips 😛

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I have just learned how to control my behaviors associated with those things. I’ve learned that those foods don’t support my athletic or health goals. I also don’t deprive myself so if I want something, I have some of it and move on.

On the whole of my day though, I make constant choices to choose wisely in what I eat.

It has been a learned process.

Some days are awesome other days are …..meh.

Ok so now that we’ve got THAT outta the way, lets continue.

You aren’t a dummy, really.

When it comes to eating and nutrition you really are largely a product of what you’ve been raised in, what you’ve been taught, and what you’ve been exposed to. Ok and you do have a healthy amount of “free will” as a grown up in your food choices as well.

You can “choose” to buy a candy bar and coke in the gas station… or you can “choose” to buy water and a banana or pretzels.

Huge difference in calories and nutritional content.

So free will goes a long way to helping us become more successful in our efforts to eat better.

I totally understand environmental factors. I didn’t grow up with a focus on healthy, moderate eating.

I grew up with good food, cooked by a mom and grandmother who knew what they were about in the kitchen ( skills they taught me to which I’m grateful) and food was all about not just eating, but comfort, family, and eating, plenty!

Seconds were just expected and a given. Everyone ate till they were in the food coma stage.

Of all things I’ve learned/taught myself these past years is to stay away from that mentality. It is a feeling I don’t like experiencing anymore, nor want to.

So some beginning steps towards getting smart with food is to understand your background environment ( what food was for you in your family, how it was treated, foods that were prepared etc) and accept your food behaviors today.

No one makes you eat anything  you don’t want or more than what you need.

In the beginning….

Ya know, when our Creator landed us here a zillion years ago, eating wasn’t complex. I have no personal experience with this but eating then was probably what it was designed for.

Food was fuel.

You ate to get fueled and you didn’t eat again till your tank was running low and you needed it. Repeat process. Spend time running from wild animals to survive ensured you got your cardio in 😉

Of course our early ancestors didn’t have all the processed, fatty, sugary non-essential foods we have today or I’m pretty sure they woulda been having brownies for dessert too.

One thing is still the same though.

Food is fuel. We need it to survive and to have adequate energy to get through our days.

It’s WHAT we choose to fuel or bodies with, how much, and how often that has become the issue.

It’s eating to eat and not eating because we have genuine hunger and need to fill our tank.

We eat to feed our eyes, mouth, and minds very often, without as much thought to what our stomach is saying.

Are we really hungry?

We’ve been given natural signals to indicate we need to eat yet many people go through their days never being aware of those signals because they never let themselves become hungry.

Back to the basics.

There are a few things you can do that can help you get smarter with your eating. They aren’t complicated or really hard, but they may feel that way as you have to intentionally work to adjust your thinking and behaviors.

Ready?

Eat when you’re hungry. When you’re authentically hungry, feed your body. You get no extra points for ignoring your hunger or pretending it isn’t there, so eat.  If you aren’t experiencing those hunger signals, find something else to do.

Eat just enough.  Now this can be a fine line to walk for all of us as we tend to eat and think we need more but if we give our bodies a little time to process what’s been taken in we would realize that we’ve had enough. One thing I’ve learned and been amazed over is how little food it really takes to satisfy my appetite and end my hunger. The same is true for you but you may have to teach yourself new patterns and behaviors with it.

Be mindful and intentional. This is where your food choices come in with the other points above. Assuming we’re all adults here, each one of us knows and makes choices over the foods and drinks we consume in our days.

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No one *makes* me go through a fast food drive thru or *makes* me buy non-essential, empty calorie foods at the stores.

I am responsible for what I do.

Same goes for you.

I’m at a point in my journey now where if I want something, I am fully aware of the choice I’m making. For those of you who still operate in a zone of feeling “guilty” over food,  ( find my post on food guilt here…  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/07/food-and-guilty-feelings/     ) this becomes very freeing as you know you’ve made a purposeful choice and not just been swept away because you’ve deprived yourself for so long.

Making different, healthy choices won’t be easy in the beginning. Work on listening to your body and eating just enough to feed your hunger, even if your food choices aren’t the best.

As you master the first two habits, you can begin to change things you’re doing.  DON’T make sweeping, broad, extreme changes to your eating all at once. You will be setting yourself up to quit in 24 hours.

Small steps are the best steps.

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DO think about the foods you consume. Make a list if you have to. Which are healthy and offer good nutrition to your body? Which are non-essential empty calorie foods that don’t promote good nutrition ?

What non-essential foods could you swap for something healthier? Don’t forget what you drink too.

What non-essential. empty calorie foods do you consume that you could learn to live without or have on a less frequent basis?

Are you willing to try new things? To change you must be willing to step out where you haven’t experimented before. Add in a new fruit or vegetable to your week. Find a healthy recipe or learn to swap out higher fat ingredients for less fat options.

One of the biggest swaps I’ve made is using my non-fat, plain Greek yogurt in recipes that call for sour cream or mayo. Sometimes with the mayo I only use half to half yogurt. Not only do you cut fat and calories, you get a little extra protein thrown in too.  I also use this when making dip for veggie trays and as well as other sour cream based foods.

Look at how much added sugar or fatty foods you consume and see if you can eat less of it or make healthier swaps for something you like.

Learning to be intentional about what you put in your mouth will be your biggest challenge and your greatest victory to healthy eating.

Once you begin to master that, eating healthier begins to feel like an easy choice.

Why? Because when you build new habits, they tend to take over the old behaviors.

Undoing and changing a lifetime of learned behaviors is a purposeful and intentional choice made day by day, but with time and consistency you will be on your way to healthy smart eating and permanent lifestyle change.

What steps have you taken to becoming a smarter, healthier person?

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Common Myths of Health And Fitness

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Hello world! Yeah I know, no Monday Musings yesterday. I had nothing to muse over. Well not entirely it was more like a busy weekend and it just didn’t happen. But if you wanna read some of the past ones, find some here.

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/09/monday-musings-18/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/06/25/monday-musings-16/

The life of writing involves making myself sit and be still and grind it out when I’d rather be up and moving. If there were only a way to do other stuff AND dictate my posts while doing it, that would be awesome 🙂

Anyway I thought we’d talk today about some common myths in regards to fitness and health. I heard something this past week that got me to thinking and I was gonna give it a nod in my Monday Musings but decided there was enough fodder for it to have an entire post of it’s own.

Let’s face it, in the world of health and fitness there’s a lot of things that aren’t true yet people unknowingly buy into them all the time.

Let’s consider a few in this post….

Feel the burn.

I’ve seen this quite a bit lately in different places. The whole “feel the burn” thing in regards to working out.

Now I’m not sure about you, but if something feels like it’s burning during a workout, I’m fairly sure that’s not a good thing.

Feeling a burn could indicate you have over done something or doing more than your body is physically conditioned for at that point.

This is not the same as just working hard in a session and pushing yourself within your current physical conditioning. Our bodies require time to change and adapt to what we put them through, this doesn’t happen overnight or in a few sessions when you feel like you’ve got your “beast mode” on.

If something feels like it’s burning, you really need to stop and not go to that point anymore lest you pick up and injury that sidelines you for awhile.

A gradual, consistent approach that continues to build will let you work harder and longer with less risk for injuries.

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The longer you workout or the more you do in a day the better

You might mentally think you are doing something great but really unless you’re an elite athlete getting in some extra work you are simply setting yourself up for potential injury and at best being over tired, sore and not feeling great after the fact.

Stick to a structured daily workout plan, give it your best efforts and call it a wrap. Think quality over quantity.  If you need to do other things consider yoga or stretching to help keep those worked muscles relaxed and loose for your next workout session.

You get no extra gold stars for excess workouts. 😉fitness myth

I’ve gained weight but I know it’s muscle.

I’ve heard this when someone has been working out for like…6-8 weeks. Building muscle is work, hard work. If you’re a woman, it gets even harder. We often don’t lift heavy enough, or often enough and eat enough to build muscle in that fast of a manner. It has taken me time to build muscle, years. Although cycling and running have contributed to my muscle building, I do specific weight lifting a couple times a week alongside that.

If you want to build muscle it will take time, determination, consistency and good nutrition. Did I mention time ?

If you’re gaining weight that early on, you might be eating more than you need so adjust your calorie intake.

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I’m skipping breakfast because I want to lose weight.

Do you know that breakfast really is the most important meal of your day? Your body has been fasting for hours ( think your last meal the night before) eating properly helps kick start your metabolism for the day, wards off  hunger and helps prevent binging later on when you are full blown hungry.  It will also give you energy for your morning. Not only that having proper fuel helps you to be focused and alert, without it you can be irritable and grouchy. Skipping breakfast won’t contribute to weight loss, but it will keep you hungry and focused on food.

It doesn’t have to be a huge meal, but one that is healthy and offers adequate protein and carbs to fuel your body and brain.

Eating lots of protein gives you more muscle.

Listen, I’m always one who will preach eating protein to you ’cause it delivers a big bang for keeping you from feeling hungry for long periods of time. Your body needs protein to build muscles and grow cells and hair and nails and all that other cool physical stuff. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues.

However, when it comes to fat loss and a better body, protein is the king of nutrients. Protein can reduce hunger and boost metabolism.

But in the often misguided fitness world, the more is better approach is often heralded as the way to do things.

Yes, you need adequate protein. Yes, if you are athletic you need more than the average sedentary person, but consuming high amounts won’t necessarily put Popeye muscles on you.

Why? Our bodies know what they need and the amounts needed and can only ingest 12-15 grams per meal.  At a point, the excess protein is excreted or stored as fat if it’s surplus calories.

Building muscle is a combination (again) of consistent hard work, daily discipline, lifting heavy and good nutrition.

Not massive quantities of protein.

Try and consume your protein from natural food sources and limit manmade protein drinks, shakes, powders, bars, supplements etc etc.

The 1200 calorie diet.

Ah yes. The standard caloric intake often given to women. Men do get a bit more but it’s just as limiting.

It still amazes me that these standard diets are often assigned to people without any given consideration to their personal needs.

Eating to low amount of calories is just as counterproductive as to many.

If you are seeking to lose weight you need to have a good understanding of yourself, your lifestyle, and your physical level of activity.

All of us have a basic level of calories our bodies need to just be alive. That means to support a beating heart, brain activity, cell growth, breathing… you know.. just the normal things. Our basic BMR ( basal metabolic rate) will be different for all of us again based on our age, sex, fitness level, jobs etc.

Try this calculator for your estimate…. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm

It’s important you know what you’re baseline is and not eat calories under that.

From there, you would determine what kind of work do you do? Is it physically demanding or is it a desk job? What kind of purposeful exercise do you do? None? Light ( 1-2 days a week) moderate (3-5) or more intense (6-7)?

All of these things come into play determining your daily caloric needs. And this can be a shifting scale most days.

For instance, I know on my long training days, I’ll be burning off a lot of calories and making my body work hard. I know I’ll have higher caloric needs based on my day in general, as well as my purposeful exercise. I know I can consume more calories on those days over days where I might just run a 5K that morning to where I don’t really alter my normal eating.

I am aware that on any given day I may need more or less calories depending on my activity level.

When you have a better idea of your personal needs, you can determine the calories you need to lose weight, or maintain your weight.

Eating a big meal makes you gain weight.

OK this is one that for sure comes up around Thanksgiving.  For some crazy reason people go hop on a scale the day after.

Like… why?  Do you just wanna feel crappy for enjoying your day?

Listen up, if you show a gain, it’s not fat ok? You aren’t gonna toss on 2-4 pounds of fat overnight.

Yes, the scale *could* show a gain but I’m gonna just say it’s most likely water weight from all those carbs you took in the day before from potatoes, rolls, dressing, pies etc.

Carbs, if you don’t know this, are like little sponges that hold onto water. Why do you think body builders restrict carbs when they are close to competition? To deplete water out of their muscles.

I would suggest if you go back to your normal eating, getting normal exercise and check again in a couple days, you’ll have weight *loss*.

To stay in shape you only need one or two days a week.

Sorry. That might clear your head or give you a quick burst of energy but it won’t get you in shape or help with any weight loss goals.

Ideally, you should really strive to workout most days of the week for optimal health benefits.

Start with a couple days but aim to get in at least 5-6.

You can crunch your way to good abs.

Sorry… but no.  I cringe when I hear people talking about doing crunches and dutifully going through the motions. The reality is it’s an ineffective way to get those abs. Instead you should be doing things in a combination of interval training, utilizing carbs wisely, getting adequate sleep and keeping stress levels low. Of course the right training moves help too. Moves like squats, deadlifts, and chin ups can contribute to that shaped mid section.

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Want a great looking mid section? Incorporate exercises that work all of these “ab” muscles.

I’m eating healthy, I will lose weight.

Truth is…. you will lose weight if you take in less calories than you need in a day and create a deficit.  Yes, eating healthy foods is definitely what you should strive to have in your day, but if you eat to much of anything your body will take what it needs and store the rest for fat.

Eat healthy, focus on eating just enough to satisfy your hunger, and then move on with your day.  Don’t get caught in the thinking you are going to lose weight if you have no idea of your calorie consumption in the day.

Be mindful of another “trap” by drinking “healthy” liquid calories in the trendy shakes and smoothies. The calories are often astronomical in it and you’d do better eating regular food.

My son used to get a smoothie from a local place. He asked me to stop and get him one and bring it to work. Me being me, I’m standing there picking apart menu and code words that still mean sugar no matter how you try and gloss it over ( good publicity makes you feel like you’re doing yourself a healthy favor) I found the one I was buying for him and almost fainted when I saw it had nearly 1,200 calories in it.  True, it was a large one, but still, that is an obscene amount of calories for something that is being promoted as “healthy” it is close to exceeding daily caloric intake.

When I told him he was shocked and stopped buying them.

Working out will turn fat into muscle.

No. You have fat and you have muscle. You can’t make one be the other. You can lose fat and you will be able to see your muscles better but you won’t turn your excess fat into muscle nor will muscle turn into fat.

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Oh and another myth I’ll put in here that ties in, my favorite, muscle weighs more than fat. ( a way to justify weight gain)

No.

5lbs is still 5lbs. muscle however, is sleek, compact and lean and fat is thick, bulky and fluffy. Having more muscle under your skin gives that “toned” look people always go on about. Toned is a weird way of saying you have some muscle holding your skin out.

And that’s about all I have to say on that topic 😉

I guess I could keep on with other points but I need to bring it to and end.  If you are unsure of something in regards to health and fitness, find credible sources to gain information. Don’t go by what the bulky dude at the gym does or the girl in the yoga pants tells you to eat. Educate yourself on things so you can make the best choices for you.

Tell me, are there some myths you’ve heard that people believe in?

Holiday Survival Guide

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I’m struggling to grasp the fact we are nearly two weeks into October already.  Like where has the year vanished to? October heralds the start of all things “holiday” in the commercial realm here.

I’m not sure what it’s like in the rest of the world, but here in the U.S. it’s become sadly common place the last few years for stores to just throw all holidays together like some huge smorgasbord you just go in and pick from.

Why yes, I want to look at Christmas trees and lights while I’m picking out orange and black Halloween candy.

Back in the day when I was a wee little girl ( a really long time ago ha) there was a general appreciation for each holiday. It was recognized and then you moved to the next one. The official start to Christmas was after Thanksgiving and you didn’t go get your tree till December.

I’m remember my grandparents being shocked when the neighbor put theirs up before December one year.

One just didn’t break Christmas rules by putting the tree up to early.

And Thanksgiving, well that’s just about swept under the rug and barely given a nod to. If you’re lucky you may find some turkey napkins and fall leaves squished into a small area on one single aisle.

By the way….Do you know Canada has Thanksgiving in October??? Like they just had it… weird… although I was a little jealous they were already having turkey… but I digress….

This isn’t a post about me whining on how commercialized the “holiday” season (Oct-Dec)  has become or how I wish things were simpler, although I do.

No, this is a little post about having a survival fitness guide for the “holiday season”.

I saw the first meme the other day… you know.. one that’s designed to make you feel like a guilty loser for enjoying foods or treats for the holiday? Get out there and work off your food!

Yeah, I think those are awesome too… not really.

I think they are designed to steal your joy over something that should be fun and celebratory, isn’t that what holidays are about?

Family? Food? Friends? More food?

That’s what life is about.

However, all of us want to navigate through these upcoming months and not look like the Butterball turkey come January.  You really can go through these months and not gain weight, I promise.

When I started on my health journey, it was mid October. I stayed the course all through the rest of that year and when I checked in with my doctor in January I had lost 20 lbs.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, I didn’t starve myself or do without. I ate normal almost all of those days, I enjoyed the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I baked, I ate cookies, I nibbled on my favorite chocolate treats, and I enjoyed the season.

I also stayed true to my exercise at the time, every day. I didn’t treat each day like it was a party that I needed to over eat on, I ate in moderation. I didn’t eat till I was miserable on the actual holiday.

I wore form fitting clothes to remind me of my goals. Crazy I know but it works. Trust me, you are much more aware of your body and how you are eating.

So I want you to have your own personal survival guide

This is gonna look different for all of us. It will vary by our goals, our lifestyle and what we are trying to achieve. I’m assuming, you really don’t want to add any extra weight to you.. that’s why you are here.

First of all, if you fall in the camp of already throwing the towel in and proclaiming “I’ll start in January!”

Stop. It.

Seriously, stop thinking like that. There are only a few days in these upcoming months that would be out of the norm for eating purposes. You have days of normal life going on there are no reasons to toss in the towel and view these months as an eating binge.

And… I’ve just told you I lost weight through these months so I know it’s possible. Either that or you maintain your weight.

Next, exercise.

If you aren’t yet at least get out and start walking. Regardless, you want to make time in your day for that. It not only helps with the weight issue more importantly it keeps you sane and focused on days that get busy with all the hustle of the holidays.

One of my fav things I’ve done every Thanksgiving since I started getting myself in shape, is getting up early for a sunrise run.  It centers my mind on what the day is about, let’s me think of all I’m grateful for and blessed with, burns off some calories and energizes me for the long busy day I’ll have as Chief cook and Dessert Master 😛

Food.

Oh there are so many delicious things to sample aren’t there? And pie. Glorious, delicious pie.

I eat the things I love the most. I don’t worry so much about the other stuff. I don’t eat it because “it’s there”. I feel no obligation to eat everything that’s put out, you shouldn’t either. If you can’t really stand Grandma’s sweet potato casserole with gobs of marshmallows, for heavens sake, leave it behind!

I don’t feel deprived or left out. I have what I want in small portions.. with so much food available it doesn’t take much to fill a plate.  I detest that over full feeling so I really try and keep away from doing it.

You need to make your plan now

~ determine what you will and won’t do. This puts you in charge and not just being bounced along day to day,

~ on the actual day be mindful of how you eat. Listen to your body. Trust me, there will be food for days so you don’t need to eat it all at once.

~ don’t over eat or eat “bonus” foods on random days. Eat normally and respect your decisions you’ve made.

~ don’t feel obligated to eat everything that’s put out. Be selective in what you want.

~ do try and limit alcohol and keep your water intake up.

~ do commit to daily exercise.

~ do enjoy your family traditions and foods. Don’t get hung up on how many calories are in things.

~ do remember, you can’t “work off” things you’ve already eaten.  It’s done. Move forward and work out sensibly.

~ do listen to your body. If it’s telling you “enough” then learn to stop. Like I said, food will be around for days 😉

~finally, do set a small goal for yourself to achieve at the end of the season. If you have something you’re mindful of, you will be more likely to stay focused on it.

Make sure you check back in the upcoming weeks for a few more tips and motivation to keep strong and fit through this season.

With some planning, awareness of yourself and each day, you can move through these months enjoying yourself, staying positive, and maybe even dropping a few pounds in the process.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to stay on track during the holidays?

 

 

Weight Loss And Salads

Another came rolling through again. The obligatory salad post with some “diet” caption attached to it.

I see them often.

The person is usually getting on the diet wagon and where else do you start, but by eating salads, right?

Now hear me out.

I’m not knocking salads. I love them. They are often my lunch of choice because well, I simply enjoy eating veggies, they fill me up, don’t make me feel sleepy, and leave me feeling energetic.

Salads done right are a wonderful meal and offer endless amounts of creativity with them.

Sadly, some I see, I’m left thinking that the poor person will be starving soon ( no protein in salad) and often lacking a good variety of veggies in it.

We have also been conditioned to think of losing weight and getting healthy in forms of deprivation.

Nothing fun or tasty.

A boring iceberg salad mix with a few cherry tomatoes thrown in, a bit of cucumber, and maybe some shredded carrot.

Yay. Go to town on that.

After all to lose weight, you gotta suffer right? Be miserable? Hungry all the time?

No, not really. Not at all.

Well, what works then?

There are many things on the market promising weight loss. There are lots of “trendy” new diets you can commit to if that’s your thing.

None of them are magic. None of them have some super power over the other. Some offer restrictions, others take food groups away from you, some have you eating gobs of fat, some give you barely enough calories to operate on, some offer “meal replacements”… gosh the list can go on….

At the end of the day it’s simply science.

We lose weight when we take in less calories than our bodies need for daily functioning.

You could achieve it on an Oreo and milk diet although I wouldn’t recommend that…. mainly ’cause I’m not into Oreos  😉

You create a deficit  by calories and activity level and in a slow and steady way weight loss will occur.

You need to reduce your daily calories by about  350-500 a day to lose weight.

How the heck do I do that?

I’d say start with things that might not matter a lot or that you could easily reduce. Do you stop for some sugary drink at Starbucks or the local coffee shop?

Do you have any idea of the calorie, fat, or sugar content of it for the size you buy?

Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Google it up and look.

Are you shocked? Most people are.

How much sugar or creamer do you add to coffee?  How many sodas or sugar drinks do you consume? Alcohol?

I’d say the best thing to do is simply write down all you eat in a day for about a week.

Be honest. Don’t try and hide anything from yourself. This will give you a guide of what you eat.. the good and not so good.

This will be your starting place to look at where to weed out those 350-500 calories a day.

We often mindlessly stuff things into our mouths without recognizing that yeah, those calories do count.

So do an honest assessment with yourself if you want to see where you can reduce or cut out to help lower those calories while keeping the more nutritious foods in place.

Speaking of nutritious foods…..

Consider foods you like that are healthy and offer your body good nutrition. You know I don’t really like to label foods, but let’s be honest, there are many foods that offer more to our health, feeling good, being energetic and losing weight than others.

Whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean meats, dairy products all offer an abundance of goodies for us to choose from to plan our daily nutrition needs.

Vegetables and fruit… consider this…

On average, only 14 percent of American adults consume at least 2 servings of fruit and at least 3 servings of vegetables daily.

14%.

Sadly, in my communication with people I’m always staggered at the truth of that. The very idea of vegetables is something repugnant being offered to them.

You can eat a whole lot of veggies that fill you up, keep you feeling energetic, and come in really low on the calories.

They can be eaten raw or cooked in all kinds of ways that are delicious.

Here’s the deal… if you’ve trained yourself to eat not so nutritious foods, you can train yourself to eat foods that support good health and weight loss.

And you have trained yourself to eat and drink the way you do now…..

It just will take some time and intentional effort on your part…. you know… that habit thing I always blab about….

I was at a dinner party recently and the couple across from me were, well honestly, really over weight. The wife was telling me how she was trying to get him to eat vegetables and he was telling me about ones he had been “trying” and she said “I’m even trying to get him to eat brussel sprouts!”

I said “Oh, how are you preparing them?”  (Help me. I already knew the answer before it came)

“Oh, I boil them!” she said smiling at me

I tried to contain my face and not imagine them boiled and rolling around the plate like little green heads… boiling them is like the kiss of death. Boiling them is the reason people rebel against eating them 😉

I told her for a change, that would be tasty and healthy, to slice them up, toss them with a little olive oil, cracked pepper and sea salt then roast them till they started to get crispy.

Her hubby definitely perked up to that.

Seriously though. Learn to experiment with vegetables. Roasting brings out the best flavors in them. Some do better lightly steamed but most anything can be roasted.

Now about those salads….

 

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Pure deliciousness. Writing, iced coffee and this new amazing salad from a local fast food joint of all places.

 

 

Just a few tips on making a good salad for your meal.

~include a variety of colorful veggies. Peppers, radishes, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, broccoli, really anything can be added.

~ don’t be afraid of tossing some fruit in. Blueberries or strawberries can make a good addition to a green salad.

~ Don’t forget a healthy dose of protein… this keeps you from getting hungry soon. Feta cheese, grilled chicken, canned tuna, boiled eggs etc can be great options to add in.

~ healthy fats like avocados or walnuts are a good addition to your salad

~ go easy on salad dressings or this will negate all the good efforts of your salad. Be mindful of calories and fat and the fact a serving size is usually like 2 tablespoons… yeah.. go ahead and measure that out…  look for low calorie ones or better yet learn to whip up your own healthier alternatives.

I’ve found the more creative the mix of my salad, the less I really want any dressing or at best just a minimal amount.

So post those salad pics…..

Seriously, if you’re on the road to dropping some weight, good for you! Salads offer a fun, tasty and super healthy way to get there. Make them satisfying to your tastes and share your creativity. It’s ok to enjoy your fruits and veggies.

Keep in mind as well, a balanced nutrition plan, with a small daily reduction of calories,  will lead to weight loss and keep your energy level up in the process.

What is the way you find most successful to lose weight? Are you good at eating your fruits and veggies?

Why Do You Want To Lose Weight ?

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Your Monday morning thought provoking question :

No… it’s not “should you get another cup of coffee” that… is never a question 😉

It’s this…

Why… do you want to lose weight?

Seriously, I want you to stop and think about it. Assuming, you, like many of my readers have a goal to do so. It could be as little as 5 lbs. or as much as 50.

If you are one of the rare, and few readers who doesn’t need to/want to/ or has hit their goal… you might want to just go grab more coffee and head into your day…

Or read along with us.. choice is yours… 😉

But why? Why do you want to? I don’t mean it in a flippant way, but more of a thought provoking way.

I recently overheard someone saying she wanted to lose weight for her boyfriend and it was all I could do to keep my big mouth shut and tell her she was doing it for the wrong reason then.

At the starting point of thought… weight should never be about someone else. And by that I mean, that you are doing it to please them.

So.. the question.

Why?  It’s important that you really understand that because the idea will be what helps motivate you, keeps you going, gives you something to center your goals around.

If you just have a blind thought like this… “I need to lose weight! I need to lose 30 lbs!”

It’s just vague. There is nothing connected to it to help you get to the goal of losing 30 lbs… or 5… or 10.

It’s abstract with no solid plan to get there.

So may I suggest if that idea has been rolling through your head, you take steps to make it more of a concrete thought with reasons why you need to?

I’ll give you an example.

8 years ago when I was at my yearly appointment with my doctor he simply told me.. hey… you look good.. your labs look good… but you could lose some weight.. it will help you in the long run..

When I left his office that day I had to think about some things and make a decision for myself. I certainly knew what my family history was ( Grandmother and Mom both in the obese categories. grandmother had heart attack at 50 and a dad who had health issues and chronic diseases who died of heart disease)

That should be enough to make anyone sit up and take notice with their own health, right? So roughly at the age of 44, I needed to make some choices. I needed to examine how I was living and did I want to follow the paths I’d seen in my family already?

I had to ask myself… why do I want to lose weight?  What was going to motivate me to get the job done? How would I do it?

I didn’t want to live like my family. I didn’t want health issues. I wanted to be strong and healthy for my husband, kids and ( now) grandchildren.

Please note.. I wasn’t losing weight to please them… or make them happy…

it was about wanting to continue to have a good quality of life and take care of the body I had that was still free of any chronic diseases I could prevent.

You understand don’t you, that most chronic diseases, we have the ability to prevent in ourselves?

I’ve seen the ugly toll they take on people you love. I wanted no part of that… I want it even less at this point in my life.

For me, that was the “why” question answered.

From there, I had to be proactive about making things happen. No one was going to do it for me. I had to have a plan and goals and day by day make them happen.

The goals were small and attainable. In the beginning I set out to walk, every, single day.

2 miles. No matter what. I did it.

I also began slowly adjusting my eating… day by day… choosing better foods and learning portion and moderation sizes.

I didn’t beat myself up if I had a day I felt wasn’t “spectacular” I just kept going.

I made weight loss goals small too. I focused on 5 lbs at a time. I celebrated when I’d hit the next “5” or “0” number on the scale.

Pretty much it’s what I did for awhile as the scale slowly crept backwards and my clothes started getting to big.

As time went on, I kept readjusting my goals and ideas of what I wanted for myself.

I eventually lost the weight I wanted and my goals continued to shift.

A stronger, leaner body led to me running more which led me into running big events like marathons and a 50K to celebrate my 50th birthday ( yes, crazy I know)

My goals and desires are still flexible and changing. I run and cycle now. I love spending a couple days inside lifting heavy stuff and doing strength training.

My “why’s” have changed a lot.

Yes, I wanted to lose weight for a healthy life. Yes, I wanted to lose weight to not have health issues. And honestly, yes, I wanted smaller jeans 😛

But the other things that came along with it were just as valuable.

Losing weight and gaining confidence in what I can do athletically is empowering!  Learning about myself and taking on new challenges showed me  what I’m made of.  The mental muscle and internal strength I’ve gained can’t be measured. Being strong in my daily life is another huge payoff. I love having lots of energy for all I do in my day!

As time has moved on, I’ve also been able to teach, encourage, and mentor others on the same road. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing others be successful at the same thing.

Now, I don’t feel a need to focus on weight or losing it. I did however, have that starting point.

I had the “why” question.  I then took steps to live it out.

You… ask yourself the question… then make a concrete plan to see it through.

You’ve got all you need in you to be successful and accomplish it 🙂

 

Common Weight Loss Questions

questionanswer

 

I get asked a variety of questions when it comes to health, exercise and weight loss. For the record though,  let’s establish I’m not some “professional something or another” .

I am however, a normal (ish) middle aged woman who has had 8 years of plugging along on this journey.

I’ve lost my weight and kept it off.  I’ve gone from being non-athletic to doing more than people half my age consider doing.  I get asked often “who I train with”… I train myself and I guess I’m fairly motivated to keep pushing harder and working towards new goals.

I’ve learned a lot about food and more importantly nutrition and how important that is for us in the context of living active, strong, healthy lives.

I experiment on myself, if it works, great. If not I toss it. I read tons and am always trying to learn.

I don’t buy into hype and commonly pushed weight loss products, supplements, enhancements etc.

My take on things in regards to weight loss and health is that it should be sane and sustainable… meaning you can keep at it for a lifetime.

I never assume that what works for me, works for you. Mainly because biologically, we are wired differently and secondly our daily activities and exercise will greatly vary.  Put all of that together and it will have a different impact on our weight loss and fitness goals.

All of that being said…

People still ask me questions 😛

I thought I’d field a few of them here ’cause they are pretty common to most people.

Here we go … buckle your seatbelts boys and girls….. ready ??

I’ve been exercising but I’m not losing weight.

Here’s the deal. Exercise is great. I love it. I highly endorse it for a wealth of reasons. Please, keep doing it no matter what. If you’re exercising you’re well ahead of a lot of people who haven’t gotten to that point yet. But if you aren’t losing weight it simply means…. you are eating to much. A negative people get with the exercise idea  is that they can eat (more) or have (treats) ’cause they walked some that morning or hit the gym for 30 minutes.  It means, you greatly over estimate your actual calorie burn. Without creating a deficit at the end of the day, you won’t lose weight.  Eat good food, in moderation. Know the calories you need to operate on in your day.  To lose weight try reducing them by maybe 20%. For example if you can eat 1800 calories a day ( this includes calories for purposeful exercise and just being alive) that means you’d subtract roughly 360 calories.

As long as we’re on this topic…. you won’t lose as quickly or much if you eat crappy food…to put it bluntly.  You must not only learn to listen to your body and eat in moderation, but stop when you’re hunger is satisfied, not till you’re stuffed. Learning to eat healthier foods is definitely going to put you on a faster track to weight loss. Exercise alone will not do it.

I’m not losing weight, so I must be gaining muscle.

Oh boy. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble here… but….if you’re starting on your journey or even if you’ve been at it for a little while.. you probably can’t count “muscle gain”.   If you’re a guy reading this, yeah, you have an advantage over your more feminine counter parts ’cause you’ve got all that testosterone roaring through your body helping the process. If you’re a woman, you still have the ability to gain muscle. But here’s the deal… very few people are going to work with the all out intensity required and eat in the manner necessary to accomplish muscle gain that fast. At best, even if you are committed to actively lifting heavy stuff and eating well, it could be a solid 6 months ( and longer)  before you could think you’ve “got gains” that affect your weight.

Consistency to it is key. You have to work and stay with it several days a week.  The next part of that is working your muscles to the point of fatigue ( meaning you cant do another rep).  And then of course, feeding your body adequate protein and enough food to build muscle. You have to eat plenty of food to build serious muscle.

Yes, long before that happens you will start to see a difference in your body, but to claim weight gain as gaining muscle when you either a) don’t lift enough/do enough strength training consistently b) or  haven’t been at it long enough is well, just lying to yourself.

But for heavens sake. don’t stop what you’re doing! You’re exercising and that is great. If you’re working at it, the muscles will show up, in time.

I don’t really like veggies/ green foods. What do I do?

This one, I always want to say, I’m sorry! Why don’t you??? I mean seriously, I think veggies are the cats meow.  They offer fiber, vitamins, minerals, are low in calories ( there are tons even referred to as “zero” calorie foods) and you can eat so many of them and not have to even worry about it all the while, staying full and satisfied. How can you go wrong with that??

Usually, there are a variety of reasons what I’m told.  Everything from ” I just don’t THINK I’ll like them”, “I never had to eat them (bad mom)”, “I’ve tried some and they are gross” and the list  goes on….

First, if your idea of “good” veggies is from a can… you need to expand your horizons to the real, fresh produce department where there is a plethora of tasty things.

Or, if  your veggies were always steamed to death until they were totally unrecognizable, then again, you need learn about cooking them in tastier ways.

I’m telling you… nothing.. is better than roasted veggies with some olive oil, and cracked pepper and sea salt.

Bottom line: you’re going to have to be willing to experiment and open yourself up to new things.  You’ve learned and trained your body to eat junk food, you can train it to eat good food.

Start small. Find what you like. Look for new recipes. You might surprise yourself at what you come across and actually enjoy. But, you have to be willing to try or it will never happen.

I don’t have time to exercise. How do I do it?

OK. This one. We’re all given the same amount of time in a day, it just comes down to, how do we use it? Obviously, we have necessary things in our days that demand our attention.

Jobs, families, house keeping, shopping etc.

But then, you have free time as well. If you have time for computer play, surfing the internet, playing games on your phone, watching shows on TV etc… then… you really do have time for some exercise.

It just becomes a matter of where your priorities are.

Exercise is work so I get that it just seems easier and more relaxing to just lay on the sofa instead of heading out the door to sweat. Exercise takes a bit of will power and intentional determination in the beginning to make it happen until it becomes a habit to you.

I always suggest making your exercise time a daily appointment with yourself. Schedule it like anything else. You know your day and you know what times you have that there are lesser demands on you to get it done. I’m up in the morning, my workout clothes on, my brain is already preparing for what’s about to happen ( although now it’s simply something I do and look forward too) I figured out a long time ago what time worked best for me to get it done. Doing it in the morning is a great way to clear my head, get my blood moving and my body warmed up for the day.

Do something you like and will stick with. Find your time. Schedule it. Make no excuses to get it done.

I know I need to drink water but….ewwww! Ideas on doing it?

I get it. If you’re used to sugary drinks, this will be a big jump for you. I’ve lived off it for so long that I actually crave it now. Do you know we all have a natural thirst? Over time, it’s quenched by the other things we feed it ( i.e. sugar filled drinks). Start by drinking some water when you wake in the morning. Try and keep it with you at all times.. you will drink it. If you drink sweet stuff, it will be an intentional practice to drink water.  Start with reducing one sugar drink a day with a bottle of water.  With a little practice, you will be increasing your water intake in no time. If it helps, you can add fresh lemon or lime to give it some flavor. Again, this is something you will need to be intentional about doing until it begins to feel more natural to you. With practice, you’ll be drinking more water in no time 🙂

 

Ok that’s it for today! I’ve used up my word allotment.  ( well just kidding on that.. I never run out of words 😉

If you have any questions or comments feel free to add them or contact me 🙂

Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight

weight loss

 

Weight loss. The thing that one person or the other is pursuing at any given time. Some are easily successful at it while maybe you, are over there struggling and wondering why it’s not working and what you might need to do differently.

There are a few things that you might be missing so let me offer up some ideas. Hopefully, you will find them helpful.

Ready? Here we go.

You aren’t eating enough. Ah boy am I pointing the fork at myself when I mention this one! And women are far more guilty of this. If you’re actively working out and burning off some serious calories and only eating say, the normal “prescribed” caloric content for women ( 1200) then your body will hoard and hold onto fat like a bear going into winter hibernation. Even if you’re workouts aren’t arduous, know what you’re caloric needs are for the day and eat them! It is most likely more than 1200 calories. You should strive to eat plenty of fruits, veggies, lots of greens, lean meats, eggs, nuts and whole foods which will fill you up. Eating adequate and healthy foods will keep you full and you’ll be less likely to binge on junk food.

You’re doing all cardio and no strength training. ok I’m a self professed cardio junkie. I love running. And cycling. And the crazy rowing machine.  And all of them together. I love the physical outpouring that goes along with it. I love moving my body. But I’ve also learned the value of building some muscle. Cardio does burn fat but muscle mass burns calories, even when you rest. Lifting weights keeps your metabolism revved. Your plan should be to add some weight work to your cardio activities.  You can use machines if you have access or free weights. I always prefer free weights over a machine. Use weights heavy enough you have to work at it.

You play the diet game and don’t do make it a lifestyle change. No one wants to think they need to always be on a diet. Or that they must live on one. What a total drag.  When you’re on a diet you mentally view it as you are “on it” or when you’ll “be off it”. Adapting to the thought of a lifestyle change means you live each day making intentional choices to feed and nourish your body in good ways.  This slow, steady process will lead to weight loss that will stay off.  Your new focus should be to get the word “diet” permanently out of your vocab and just focus on making good nutrition and exercise choices. The thing that works will be what’s sustainable for you… not what your neighbor does…or what you read in the magazine. What works for you and your body.  It will be sustainable allowing you to make it a permanent lifestyle change.

You don’t have a good support system. I’ve been a social media fiend for a long time now posting my athletic shenanigans, my goals, my foods, my struggles. Throwing it out there has not only been something that makes me accountable, it also lets people stop me in the store and ask about how it’s going.  To be successful, I believe you need to have a few friends, family or shamelessly use social media to hold you accountable and offer support and encouragement. Find what works for you. Have someone you can call, ask questions of, or who will overall be your cheerleader and hold you accountable.

You don’t have specific goals.  One thing that keeps me SO focused in my training is knowing I have an event coming. It puts an element of intensity to it and it keeps me focused on what I’m chasing. When I was losing weight I had specific short term target goals… 5 pounds at a time. 5 pounds was short, doable and easily attainable. it didn’t leave me feeling overwhelmed saying I needed to lose… “30” pounds…in that vague kinda way.  You can make specific food or drink goals. Maybe cutting down on sugary drinks or increasing your green veggies.  Perhaps it’s just getting off couch each night for an evening walk. Make each thing you strive for specific and take steps to go there.  Small steps over times, lead to bigger victories.

You think your morning workout sesh burned a ton of calories. I’ve always been cautious about how I eat after a workout. I know it doesn’t give me open season to eat whatever ( ok maybe after a 20 miler 😉  For instance, doing a 3 mile run, burns a loose average of 300 calories. That can vary depending on size and speed of runner…but close estimating. You can see it wouldn’t take long to easily negate that 300 calories with a “treat” drink at the local coffee shop. Don’t over estimate what you do. It’s important you keep your nutrition on point as you increase your physical activities and monitor your portions.

You aren’t consistent. Personally, I think this is one of the biggest things I’ve seen working with people. They start off motivated, propelled with the excitement of starting, yet as weeks move on I see them slipping back and not doing what they need to do for success.  In the beginning it is hard to keep pushing forward because you aren’t seeing results yet and you think that what you’re doing isn’t changing anything. It is crucial you stay committed to your exercise and nutrition.  It is consistency that will yield those long term results you want.  It’s important to keep moving, every day.  There will be times or days that it can’t happen. It’s like that for all of us. You just get back at it the next day. If you make excuses, it becomes easier to fall into that trap. Treat your workouts like any other important meeting you have in your day.

With a careful examination of what you are doing ( or not doing) how you are eating, and what your purposeful exercise looks like, you’ll be moving closer to your goals of weight loss.  And one final thought, don’t give up. Just because you don’t “see” results right away doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. Change takes time. Let the process happen 🙂