Why Diets Fail You

Before we get to the weird sweet potato photo…….

Often one of the hardest parts of writing a post for my blog is nailing a title. The idea for the post can come effortlessly and then the only thing remaining is a clever, witty, thought provoking title to draw in you, my 4.5 readers.

And that I can often spend more time pondering than you know….

Therefore, when I have ideas come to me that present me with the title first, I’m thrilled. I then quickly save it into my working folder as an idea to bounce on.

This is one that’s been patiently waiting in that folder. I figured I’d drag it out, dust it off and do something with it 😜

For the love of diets

If you’ve hung around me for awhile, you know I’m kinda “anti diet”. This is not to be confused with “anti weight loss”.

Why anti diet?

They just don’t work.

Oh now wait. I can hear you ready to tell me about Karen at work and how her keto plan has the weight falling off her.

Or maybe it’s someone else working Paleo or any one of the other current trendy things to follow.

There are lots of “vehicles” to get us started on weight loss. The more troubling issue is, which vehicle can get us to our destination and still be usable for us when weight goals have been attained? Which one can we follow for the rest of our life?

Calorie Deficit

I’ll say it again for the kids on the back row. There is no magical, miracle wonder diet that makes you lose weight. There are lots of programs to help you lose your money but you don’t need to spend a bunch of money to lose weight.

It’s simply science.

Expend more calories than you take in through exercise and what you eat, i.e. create a deficit, and you will lose weight.

You could do it with Oreos and milk but I don’t recommend it.

Sustainability

Diets don’t work long term because the large majority just aren’t sustainable. And by that I mean it’s not a plan you can or will do the rest of your life.

I cannot tell you the times I’ve heard someone reference looking forward to a “cheat day”. This means falling off plan to eat the things they have been withholding from themselves. It’s a grasp to feel “normal” and enjoy things that have been on a forbidden list. If you’re on a plan and you spend to much time looking forward to having restricted foods, you may need to rethink it.

For me, that’s not how I wanna live, and really, most people don’t.

It’s why they toss the towel on a plan that withholds enjoyable things.

Deprivation

When people think of diets, no wonder feelings of deprivation come to mind.

Eating less food, not having favorite foods or treats, not getting to have birthday cake, being hungry, eating boring flavorless foods….the list could go on.

No one, not a single one of us, wants to feel deprived which is another reason diets fail.

Lack of balance

Many popular diets totally cut or eliminate food groups. Where there are some people who need to for food allergies or health reasons, the majority of us don’t need to remove healthy and nutritious foods from our daily diets. However, demonizing food groups has become cool in some circles.

Demonizing food isn’t cool.

We love routine

Maybe you have certain things you like to grab for breakfast or you do your coffee in a special way. You have foods you enjoy. It’s all like….comfy…right? None of us want to give up our familiar routines. Diets really upset that apple cart.

Diets offer a quick fix…sorta

Let’s face it. How many times have you started a structured diet and were already longing to get back to normal life? You bite the bullet thinking you can get 6-8 weeks done. You jump into it, get excited over your big “loss” of water weight the first week and prepare for week 2. You’re all on fire and are excited for the weight you’re going to lose.

And then just like that…you’re done. Maybe a week to 10 days into it, you’ll take your few pounds you lost and call it a day. This wasn’t as fun as you thought it would be.

Sadly you’ll gain that weight back with a few more pounds too.

Now about the weird sweet potato pic…

I had gotten in from a sesh of physical therapy and dove into dinner prep. One of my favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes is to cube them, add some onion and a bit of olive oil and roast till they are soft with crispy edges.

Heaven.

Anyway, I had started writing this post earlier in the day and had the ideas bouncing around when once again I was reminded of this simple truth.

Diets will almost always fail.

However if we make our daily nutrition about eating real foods, preferably single ingredients or close to it, we will not only be satisfied but will provide our bodies with optimal nutrition. Eating real food is satisfying. Eating real food allows for special occasions and treats and removes feelings of deprivation.

By the way…. I did write a post called “The Single Ingredient Diet” a few months back be sure to check it out…

When we focus on each day, making healthy food choices, eating in balanced ways and allowing for treats, we don’t need to diet.

Learning to create a small calorie deficit in our day will lead to slow and steady weight loss.

Living this lifestyle is not only balanced, sane, and allows you to build your own routine, it is also long term sustainable which will lead you to lifetime success.

Tell me. Have you had success with a particular diet? Or do you find yourself back where you started when you get off it? Have you figured out now how to make it your lifestyle and not diet?

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The Emotional Impact Of Food

Breaking up in a toxic relationship can sometimes be hard can’t it? Leaving behind someone that has left us feeling good, stroked our emotions and feelings, been there for us in tough times, yet somehow has not always been the best thing for us.

Why do we struggle to leave when we know, really, it’s best for us?

Yet we continue on day after day allowing ourselves to be dragged through it because its comfortable, familiar, and makes us feel good. Sometimes really good.

Now, imagine if you will, that’s our relationship with food.

Of course we can’t totally break it off, but we may need to set some clear and healthy boundaries with it.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have some type of relationship with food in our lives.

Of course those relationships and how they look largely depend on alot of things.

How we were raised.

I’d say that is most likely one of the biggest factors. How was food treated in your home while you were growing up?

Was it healthy and nutritious? Were you taught balance and good eating habits?

Were there the usual times of holidays and celebrations where it was expected you’d eat another piece of pie? ( cause hey Thanksgiving!) And that’s allowable 😄

Or was it the complete opposite with eating in excess and indulgence the norm? Eating way past the point of your hunger being satisfied until you were “stuffed “?

Perhaps it was somewhere in between.

Where ever you land, don’t underestimate how that has shaped your behavior with food today.

We’ve trained ourselves.

Like anything in our lives, we train ourselves in routines of habit.

Times we get up or go to bed. How we brush our teeth, prepare for our day, how we organize things…..it’s all set habits and routines we’ve formed.

Our eating and food choices are no different…..good or bad.

You’ve trained yourself to get snacks at the convenience store or trained yourself to load your shopping cart with fruits and veggies. Or you make a stop for morning coffee with or without a donut.

Perhaps it’s the drive thru coming home from work for a “snack” before dinner.

Whatever it is, you may have built habits with food to help you cope with emotional issues.

To do things differently will mean an intentional, purposeful, act to rebuild new positive and healthy habits.

Awareness leads to success

It hit me like a ton of bricks a few years back on this journey I’m on.

I had grown up in and with a household of emotional eaters.

Food was used for everything.

Happy? Sad? Celebrating? Angry? The weather changed? Boredom? Loneliness?

Comfort food wasn’t just a vague description….it was used to feed emotions.

Becoming aware of that made me even more mindful of my eating habits. Although not to the extreme of many family members, I had my own Achilles too.

If I found myself roaming looking for something I’d first think ” am I hungry?”

If that was a solid no, I removed myself and tried to assess what the reality was that I did need.

As I got further down the road of understanding myself, and being more mindful, food had a lot less pull to do it.

To this day, I still need to be mindful. Ingrained habits can take a long, long time to retrain, but it can be done.

You simply have to be real with yourself about those weak areas and then be willing to discipline yourself in new ways.

Oh. And don’t quit just because you don’t “get it right” immediately. Small daily steps lead to big victories

The mental shift

My brother and I were talking recently about similar things. He has been on his own journey. He’s lost a ton of weight and been faithful to strength training and learning to embrace cardio a bit more 😁

I’m super proud of his efforts. But it hasn’t been without his own struggles along the way too. His weakness for sweets, eaten often in secret, was a huge thing to work at overcoming.

He has had to take huge steps in the mental awareness area to continue being successful.

We talked about people who had lots of weight to lose ( like 100s of lbs) and the modern day quick fixes of surgeries and extreme diets….and how the majority failed and only regained the weight lost.

Why?

There was never a change in their mental behavior. There was never a shift in their relationship and behavior with food.

Whatever underlying problems drove them to eat and use food as an emotional coping tool were still there.

Without that being changed, you will continue in all the negative behaviors and patterns that led to becoming over weight.

The same is true for all of us. We have to know, recognize and understand why we do what we do with food.

Eating to ease the things inside of us is a negative way to deal with life, yet for many it becomes a coping mechanism for deeper issues.

If you struggle, here are things to consider.

Know your triggers. What causes you to reach for food? Keeping a notebook might be helpful to look back at to help you see patterns of behavior.

Are there times of day you feel weaker or less likely to make better choices?

What are your personal family dynamics with food? Healthy or not so healthy?

Do you mindlessly eat? Do you eat food without being present and enjoying it? Or do you just go through the motions?

Are you always thinking of food? Really, we shouldn’t be. If you eat adequate food ( enough to satisfy your appetite without over eating) and it’s nutritionally dense healthy food you won’t be hungry. Putting food in a proper position in your mind is important to success too.

Be patient and kind to yourself on the journey! Know you won’t change over night but be willing to keep moving forward and not give up.

These are just a few suggestions, you may think of others.

For any diet or weight loss program to be succesful, leading to a permanent lifestyle change your mind must be on board to a healthier you. You must deal with and let go of negative behaviors and build in new positive ones.

If your mind is not changed, you will keep repeating the cycle over and over again.

Would you agree or disagree our minds play the most important part of weight loss?

Saturday Snippets

Ah the dilemma. The dilemma of what to put into my Saturday Snippets for you to read as you eat your donut and wash it down with coffee.

saturday

I thought I’d continue with my healthy living theme that I’ve got going on right now.

A few years ago when I began to um…accidentally…wander into the health and fitness world I had clear ideas of how I thought things should work. I still do although some have been dialed in on more since  I’ve learned and grown more.

The one thing now that is so important to me is using my voice through my blog and other social media to share  how crucial good nutrition is to someone wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle.

I love exercise. I’ve loved the hard work and challenges of training for big events. I love getting out of my comfort zone and doing stuff some of y’all tease me about 😁

However, at the end of the day, the best exercise I can do is make careful choices as to what I choose to shovel or not shovel into my mouth.

This is where it makes or breaks for all of us.

I firmly believe a sensible eating plan that includes all food groups is extremely important.

Why?

Sustainability long term ( can you do it forever) and important vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs from all food groups.

Yes, exercise I believe is crucial to our complete well being. However, if you want to lose weight, keep it off, and live “normally ” you need to do a couple things.

* Eat a balanced diet of all foods.

* Don’t engage in plans that restrict or offer “cheat days” or leave you feeling deprived and restricted.

* Practice mindful eating. Listen to your body.

*Portion control. You really don’t need seconds.

* Remember anything that is labeled as low fat, fat free, sugar free, gluten free, paleo, keto, low carb, whatever, whatever, still has calories! And your body only needs a certain number a day to do it’s thing. Eat over that, you won’t lose, eat under that requirement and you’ll lose weight. Remember, its science boys and girls 😏

Make a point to daily choose real, whole foods, allow for a wee bit of fun stuff, eat enough to satisfy your appetite, listen to your body ( it’s ok to get truly hungry!) then add as well some purposeful exercise to balance it all out.

If you need to start somewhere though, remember the best exercise is mindfulness of what your hand brings to your mouth and the quality of food you eat.

 

Exercise For Dummies

So I was bouncing around a lot of ideas for a new post (there are many to be had) I draw from so many places for inspiration. I’m often left looking at an over arching question of “what do my readers need?”

As much as I love writing from the trenches of life, I know if you take your time to read you wanna walk off with something that has encouraged you, motivated you, inspired you or educated you in some way.

One of my most popular posts, Healthy Eating For Dummies   https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/09/05/healthy-eating-tips-for-dummies/      was the simple kind of education topic that people seemed to need. This was driven by talking to friends, and seeing posts from others that made me realize there’s so much in the health/fitness world that makes things seem hard and complex when in reality, they don’t need to be.

People often think if they are going to start exercising, it should be an all out, full speed, into what ever they are chosing to do without giving much thought to the fact they are in a body that isn’t used to that kinda work.

What happens then?

Usually, the day or two after, they are so sore they can’t move and the mere idea of going back to it makes the shudder.

grumpy

If you haven’t been exercising, an all out approach is simply not smart.

Go Big or Go Home

I was scrolling through Pinterest one day ( follow me there) I may or may not have been looking for delicious chocolate recipes….

My newsfeed is a weird combination of wicked desserts they show me, and fitness plans to make me look like a MMA fighter.

I wanna have both please  😉

Anyway, there was this one that literally was a series of moves that totaled over 500 reps of several exercises.

The subtitle said get ready to wipe the sweat from your face or something like that.

What just stopped me in my tracks was the sheer craziness of it. Even as fit as I think I am, that would’ve been crazy.

I want to walk the next day 😛

Yeah there’s probably one or two people who’d go in and tackle it. Honestly though for  the average person it’s aimed at, makes it dangerous, not smart.

It’s why I’m kinda not impressed with the current trendy “boot camps”

Why?

Because if you’re getting up one morning all fired up to start and “today is the day!” you decide the fitness journey begins, you will honestly hurt yourself attempting such a workout. Those environments although they modify, often are conducive with people working beyond what their current physical abilities really are because they will try and keep up with the guy ( or girl) next to them.

It’s so important to know where you are, what you’re starting point is, what (if any) physical limitations you have, and work from there. Literally that has to be the place you begin to build from.

running
Haha this is why you build a fitness base

 

And don’t feel bad about it or worry about it.

We all have our starting points. Consider it your base to your fitness foundation.

Get ready!

First, if you have any health considerations or concerns, talk to your doctor before you begin.

From that point, determine what goals you have or what you want to accomplish. We are all different in what we want to do and where our interests are.

Do you want to train for a 5k? Have dedicated time at the gym several days a week? Be able to walk around the block without getting winded?

Whatever it is, set a goal that can keep you focused.

There are so many activities to choose from but walking is something anyone can start at any time.

All doctors can support the idea of walking and often encourage their patients to do so. All you need is some good shoes and discipline to take yourself out and do it.

Walking is really a good, safe, and easy way to ease into fitness activities. You can adjust your pace as you feel stronger and you can lengthen distance as you get comfortable with your current distance.

Make sure your goals are clear, realistic, and concise.

The biggest key to failure and not keeping at it is starting off to aggressively early on then not sticking with it in the long run.  Your main goal is to build new habits you can stick with and that is done by going slow and steady.  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/02/28/the-tortoise-and-hare-weight-loss-approach/

How much is enough?

It’s recommended you get in 30 minutes of brisk aerobic activity, 5 days a week for over all health.  This includes things like running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, rowing, dancing etc

To help with weight loss, more may be required.

Don’t under estimate that even small amounts in a day are beneficial to your health and wellness.

The more fit you become, the more you will most likely feel challenged to do. Don’t be afraid to extend your goals as you improve.

Aim for balanced fitness.

When I began my health and fitness journey, ( wow this is my anniversary month!) I started walking each day, about 2 miles. Eventually, I started running parts of it. At some point I turned into a runner ha.

But one thing I’m glad I learned early on is doing activities that work, train, and condition all of my body. Certain activities involve more muscle groups than others. Neglected, these can become weak areas in our body due to neglect of not using them as intensely as others.

It was on days I couldn’t run outside that I started doing strength training.

Let’s take a quick look at what these different activities are and how they can help us.

Cardio: It’s the activity people complain about the most because you have to work hard enough to get your heart and lungs really moving and well, that makes people uncomfortable. Mainly ’cause it makes them realize they are internally out of shape.

cardio

Start by doing an aerobic activity, like walking or running, for a sustained 20-30 minutes, four to five times a week. To ensure you’re working at an optimum level, try the “talk test”: Make sure you can carry on a basic level of conversation without being too winded. If you can sing a song, you’re going to easy.

Strength conditioning: I find this to be so important in supporting my other activities. Not only that, I can lift a sofa or heavy cabinet if I’m called upon 😉

Start by doing one set of exercises targeting each of the major muscle groups.  Start by using a weight at which you can comfortably perform the exercise eight to 12 times in a set. When you think you can handle more, gradually increase either the weight, the number of repetitions, or number of sets. To maximize the benefits, do strength training at least twice a week( ladies this is SO important for us! You want to keep your muscle mass as you age and weights are where it’s at. Not only that, muscles look cool 😉 )

20180315_085813

Never work the same body part two days in a row.

Flexibility training: This can be static stretching but I prefer some yoga to help keep me flexible and to help my overall mobility for life and my other activities. You not only want to stay flexible but mobile, meaning a complete full range of motion in your body.

Implementing all of these components will help keep you strong and fit no matter what activity you choose.

In summary…

Find what you love, know your starting fitness level, start slow and gradually build on where you are.

Set small, concise goals to aim for.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Make exercise a habit for life.

Don’t over do in the beginning.

Celebrate all your new victories!

If you have a developed exercise program, what tips or tricks helped you stay with it?

 

 

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 😛

20180610_192542

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.

put in my body

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.

progress

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?

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.

progress

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 😉

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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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?