Cookie Cutter Diets Part 2

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Hey! welcome back to¬†the next part of my little series¬† =) I thought this would work better than writing a novel you’d be reading for days…. if you missed part 1…. scamper over and check it out first.

I wanna set the stage here for you… since we’re talking about diets….¬†maybe you’ll relate. This was my strategy for success years ago.

* determine I was tired of being fat ¬†(yes, I’m using that word)

* decide that,¬† “Monday was gonna be it…time to start”

* proceed to eat all random, crappy, junk type food I could shovel in to “get rid of it”¬† over¬†the weekend¬†( because all that food would never, ever be available to me again. Ever.

* decide which seriously calorie deficient diet I was gonna do, and there were LOTS to choose from.

* start on Monday with lofty expectations of being slimmer by the next weekend. Engage some furious exercise. Think of all the foods I was gonna miss.

*¬†Tuesday… hunger is my new best friend. Food is always on my mind and I¬† have fantasies about my next meal more than a teenage girl does Justin Bieber. Get on scale and check for weight loss. Get mad when it hasn’t changed.

*Wednesday hop onto scale… first thing early… naked… carefully balancing and holding my breath. Yay…¬† a pound or two gone. It’s gonna be a good day. I can do this. When do we eat again ?? Weigh again later in day hoping for more good news…think about when it’s over…

* Thursday no new change in the weight. I’m getting kinda sick of a piece of fruit, an egg and water for breakfast and similar things rest of day. Hunger sticks closer than a bee on honey. I think about…cake… and cheeseburgers… and all things fat.

*Friday almost have a week down. I’m getting used to the light headedness from not enough food… besides the scale told me another pound was gone… I can handle being hungry…. I’ve been thinking about “when this is over” and getting back to normal.

* Saturday… I’ve been good! I deserve a treat, or two, or three… right ?? And the whole day turns into a happy eating feast of all things that have been banished in the past¬†week. OMG… it all tastes sooo good.

*Sunday… I’m not realllyyyy needing to lose weight,¬†am I? I mean, I never will be able to anyway…so… I might as well just do what I’ve been doing…. maybe I’m supposed to just be like this. I¬† just don’t have the will power or strength to be successful.

* Monday…. resume my old ways. Resolve to try again another day.

Do you relate ? Have you done things like this ? You can tell me in the comments section.

I’ve since learned a lot. There were several flaws with my plan¬†for weight loss.

‚Üí Not understanding my needs or exactly how many calories my body required to just be alive on a daily basis. At the time 1200 calories was standard diet fare ( sadly it still is today)¬†If you were living large, 1500. Imagine my shock when not to long ago I learned that my daily BMR (basal metabolic rate which we’ll talk about later)¬†was actually 1500 calories. This is if I were to sit on sofa doing nothing and to support the normal functioning of my body. No wonder I was hungry all the time! There were no extra calories for my daily living or exercise built in.

‚Üí Removing, depriving and taking away everything I perceived as “bad” Giving power to foods and not keeping them in a proper¬† perspective. We¬† are living life and have to allow for it even as we pursue our weight loss goals. Occasional treats keep us on target and cut off binging. Putting foods on a banished list only made me think of them more.

→ Not treating my body with respect by giving it adequate food for health and living. Being hungry is a God given signal to feed our body.

‚Üí Not having realistic goals for myself. I would not reach a slim status in one week. That set me up for failure…. as if¬† not enough food wouldn’t.

‚Üí Not setting long term, permanent, life goals instead of just weeks out goals.

‚Üí Trying to fit my body into that standard diet and not knowing my own needs.

When you and I began to grasp and understand that we should be focused on all of our lives and not just a few weeks or months, we’ve made huge progress. Eating well and movement¬† are, or should be, what we do all our life.

Now, remember your homework you had from last post ? You were supposed to set a goal and determine what your weight loss fitness goals are

Now along side that I want you to consider what your needs are. Could you relate on any level to my story above ?  What mental changes do you need to make for success ?

Finally, think about your life. Your work , activities, hobbies, exercise etc. and consider what kinds of food will give you energy and help you on your weight loss journey.

In our next post we will look at how to figure how many calories you personally need to reach your goals and most importantly how to make it your plan for success.

Cookie Cutter Diets Part 1

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As I shared with you in another post, one of the questions I get from seeking people is :

What do you eat?

They know I’ve been on this journey for a few years now and they are wondering what “formula” I use and would that be successful to help them achieve their fitness/health goals.

Overall, I think I eat fairly well,¬†but will freely admit I haven’t “arrived” in a perfect nutritional way ( I still like my¬†occasional treats ūüėČ

I don’ t micro manage macros and micros and obsess over every single calorie. Personally, I find that really freeing, but it is a process I’ve learned for myself these past few years.

Now keep in mind, I certainly wouldn’t be offering them a horrible food plan. In fact, it would (overall) ¬†probably be very beneficial to them. I have enough knowledge to help them figure out basic daily calorie needs and how to operate within that structure.

But here’s the deal. Just because what I’m doing works for me…. doesn’t mean it will work for every person who approaches me. I’ve really developed my own thing over time that allows me to live my life, and do my athletic(y) stuff too. I’ve gotten a pretty good balance of how much food I need to lose or maintain my weight and operate in those boundaries.

You know what that’s called? Sustainable.

I’ve worked out a healthier way of eating and living that is easy enough for me to keep at day in and day out. It allows me to eat overall healthy 90-95% of the time and still lets me have some of my fav treats when I want them ( like those Peanut M&M’s ūüėČ and I’ll tell you, the less you eat it, the less you want it. Your tastes really do start changing with a healthier diet.

As far as nutritionally from an athletic stand point, I’ve really had to teach/train myself more to take in adequate food for training because¬†my needs really can vary day to day. Obviously, doing a 20+ mile run will require more than a 4 mile run. It really becomes a matter of learning to fine¬†tune what each days needs are. And I’m pretty sure, you, my lovely reader, are no different.

So what would tips/suggestions or helpful advice would I offer up to someone asking ?

First, let’s start with this.¬†¬†It’s important to really know and understand your goals. What are you wanting to achieve ? Have something clearly defined… write it down or post it where you can see it.

Is it primarily¬†weight loss with the goal to improve your lab results? to lose fat, lower blood pressure, prevent disease, to have more energy, less aches and pains, and better quality of life ? To just… move better ?

Do you have a specific athletic goal in mind ? Training for a 5k, or maybe¬†a longer race? Maybe you want to learn to run. It could be cycling or maybe a triathlon. It could be you’re wanting to get stronger, build some muscles. ¬†Perhaps it’s just to get out and walk for a couple miles and not be out of breath doing it… or hurting and exhausted.

You might be at a place where your weight is managed but maybe you’re wanting to focus more on building and defining what you currently have. More aesthetics. You could be highly motivated and want to do figure competition.

Defining your goals are very¬†important¬†to help identify where you want to go before you just jump into a standard 1200 calorie per day diet ( please, please don’t do that.. we’ll talk more on that later)

There’s a reason I titled this¬† Cookie Cutter Diets our nutritional needs are not all alike! And depending on what our lives involve, those needs can change day to day.

I believe one of the keys to success is not just jumping into a horribly restrictive food plan, cutting out all things you love, and hoping to grind it out for maybe 2 weeks, getting frustrated you don’t see instant results, and then **with a sigh of relief** at the end of those weeks, you go back to what you know and what you’ve been comfortable in.

Once again you…. abandon your weight loss attempts and determine it’s to hard and you’ll never accomplish it.

BUT, if you make small gradual changes, and add slow and steady exercise that doesn’t kill you on day one, your chances of success greatly increase.

Now, you’re job is to determine what you want and how to go after it.

That’s your homework.

Think on it, and come back for the next part where we figure out what kind of calories you really DO need each day to reach your goals, and sustain them.

So Much Food. What To Eat ?

So today’s post is coming from questions I sometimes get… and there can be some interesting ones ūüėČ one that has come up several times is this :

In regards to health and wellness, it’s the “what do you eat / do for meals ?” question

Let me say first, what works for me, might not be the “thing” that works for you.

Also, on any given day what I eat depends on the training I’m doing. Obviously, my needs are greater with a 20+ mile run,¬†versus a¬†strength training day so my caloric intake can be quite different.

And the other thing….¬†it will also¬†depend on our likes and dislikes and overall personal tastes. I don’t follow any current “trends” of don’t eat this or that. Unless you have a food allergy/health reason, eat the food. It disturbs me how many people today follow a certain trend without even knowing the why’s of doing it….

There are some things that I do which, I¬†believe, are beneficial to everyone….

I rarely eat fast food. I don’t do a lot of processed, refined or fatty foods. I keep sugar to a minimum. I don’t drink alcohol or sugary drinks or fake sugars.¬†I skip creamy stuff like mayo, spreads, and those sort of items. I prefer whole grain/brown foods over “white”.

I do drink a ton of water (’cause I really do like it and it’s the best thing for your body)

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Side note…. I don’t use bottles… I really run around with a big glass full of ice water.. it travels everywhere with me.

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One of my fav healthy breakfasts….

Fruits and veggies make up a large part of my daily nutrition. Not shown here are sweet potatoes. Such tasty little suckers. I often roast them with some olive oil for dinner, and use the cold ones with my breakfast or toss them in with my lunch salad. These are a great nutritional super food.

I believe dairy is important (especially for women) so I try and get in a couple glasses of milk a day and my Greek yogurt snacks ūüôā

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seriously, the best. I also add a few roasted coconut almonds into it for a tasty midafternoon snack

Protein is very important with my training to make sure my muscles have enough to grow on =) I know it’s not currently trendy, but I love real milk. No apologies.

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Eggs are a¬†perfect breakfast food for me. I also¬†keep¬†them hard boiled for afternoon snacks. ¬†I eat the whole egg… the most important nutrients are¬†contained in the yolk. I find protein does a much better job to keep me feeling satisfied and “level”.

I have no issues with “grains” and enjoy multi whole grain breads/bagels, oatmeal and some cereals.

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Keeping foods that are easy to quickly grab in your ‘fridge is a first step to making good snack choices =)

Basically, I try and eat, the majority of the time healthy foods. I don’t believe in eliminating food groups unless you have a valid health reason to do so.

Oh, and some treats are allowed and completely enjoyed at times =)

And of course, this is always a part of my day. Isn’t coffee a food group ??

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I’ll tell you this, of myself and people I know who have it going on nutritionally, they have a strong foundation in their daily diet of lots of fruits and veggies. These not only fill you up with less calories, the nutrients they deliver to your body contribute to your overall health,wellness and appearance.

If you don’t currently eat a lot of these tasty food items do this:

Start by eating more of what you like.
Try something new every day or two.
Cook veggies in different ways. I love roasting or sautéing mine
Experiment with new recipes to get more veggies in.
Do fruit salads instead of veggie salads in your meals.
Reach for these things as snack items…understand you must train yourself to do so.
Stop treating these foods like they are the enemy…they are health and wellness for you.

Oh, and if you can’t STAND a certain veggie/fruit… then.. don’t eat it! There’s a lot more out there to choose from.

Making slow shifts in your daily diet and replacing not so good foods with better choices will get you on a healthy lifestyle path =)

Setting Realistic Fitness Goals

When I kicked started my little blog a few short weeks ago, it was to hopefully, share, encourage and motivate those who stumbled across me in the vast cyber world of blogville.

It’s a big place out there boys and girls. And wow, ya’ll have been so…. nice……

I wanted to take my voice into the world to do what I’ve been doing in real life and through my Facebook page, motivating and encouraging people to pursue a lifestyle of health and fitness.

As you know, and as I’ve shared in other posts, I’m a runner and love running and will talk a lot about it ( as in, I have a half marathon this weekend, so spoiler alert, you know what’s coming ūüėČ however, there’s a lot more to me,¬† a person,¬†and much more to our lives we deal with so I will also venture into other topics and ideas to share with you as we move along.

I think when people are setting out to do something as (big) as get on their health and fitness journey, they really need a cheerleader, a mentor, and someone who’s plowed the road in front of them to say “hey, I got through this, you can too!”

It can be hard…. frustrating… overwhelming. As one reader commented to me the other day on my post, they hadn’t “thrown in the towel yet”…..

That means a lot … if you can press on taking one day at a time and just focusing on it…. and not the rest of your life….or that¬†you feel like you’ll be fat/out of shape/ unmotivated whatever… you WILL make progress.

Trust me.

There will be days you’ll look at yourself in the mirror in¬†that self-loathing way (don’t… do … that… or I will…come beat you) and you think there’s no progress going on… but there is…. you must give your body time to adapt and adjust to what you are doing. Remember part of the process is knowing that there’s a lot of changes going on…. not just physically inside and out ……but mentally and emotionally as well….

Our bodies really are this cool science experiment.¬† Work them, feed them good foods, be consistent in that process and in this slow steady way…. stuff happens….

Honestly, I’ve been at this for 7 years now. I’ve kept my weight off, built muscle, gotten stronger, leaner,¬† have more energy and can physically do more than I did half my age ago. I realllllyy l that ūüėČ

Did you notice something ?

¬†7….. years…..

I’ve made forward progress by being consistent and letting changes happen in the way they need to……over time.

Are my fitness goals different now, than when I started this process? You bet they are ( and that, boys and girls will be another post)

The important thing is this. I just lived my life each day…. purposefully and intentionally¬† with forward progress. This is not something you can manhandle out quickly. You’re living your life, settle back and enjoy ¬†the journey.

I still have people who will see me and say “when did you get like that??” and my response is “I’ve just been working at it for awhile”.

May I offer some suggestions if you are thinking of starting your journey or maybe you’re on it and need encouragement.

Ready ? Take notes ūüėČ

Be kind to yourself when you start the process. Firm, but kind.

Don’t tolerate excuses from yourself (you can read more on that in my “No Excuses” post)

Set reasonable goals.

Make a vision board of ideas or goals you want to achieve. My closet door is littered with ideas/quotes/goals.

If you’re serious… tell people! My Facebook page has been a place where I post what I will be doing and I know at least one person is going to ask about what I’m doing and if I did it. Not only that, you are also going to motivate someone else… win/win!

Educate yourself in what you are doing… read and learn.

Finally, make it fun! You are doing this as a “lifestyle” enjoy what you’re doing!

With consistent daily progress you will hit your goals.

But no matter what….. don’t you give up and throw in the towel. You will never reach your goals by doing that!

Have you thrown in the towel before? How many times before it “stuck”? What things¬† helped you ? Share =)

2007/2014 7 years into my journey
2007/2014 7 years into my journey

That Nutrition Thing

What came first? The chicken or the egg ?

I think it’s like asking in the health and fitness world, what came first?

The knowledge  your body needed movement and exercise for better health? Or that you needed to eat better and make intelligent food choices for better health ?

We all arrive in different ways. If you are gonna get out there and kick your butt in some hard physical activities , do you really wanna come back in and feed it garbage ?

Oh, in the beginning it might be like that. “I worked out today! I deserve this!” as the cheeseburger and fries go down… or the fancy sugary coffee drink or whatever your poison is. There’s a sense of entitlement.

It might take awhile, or not so long, for the shift to occur. To realize if you’re doing this hard work you don’t want to undermine your efforts. You start looking at things in a different light.

If your physical activities are really hard and demanding it doesn’t take long to understand that what you put in you IS fuel and you need a) enough fuel and b) the right kind of fuel to sustain your activity level.

Last year I picked up a sports nutrition book for endurance athletes to read and teach myself more of what I needed to do. Training for that 50K I knew I needed to really eat…. intentionally.

Let’s just say, there were a lot of days I wasn’t eating enough for what I was physically doing. It takes planning and forethought to consume foods to not only support your daily living and activities but also your purposeful exercise.

I’m learning. I’ve learned a lot and don’t think I’ve arrived at getting it right. It’s a constant work in progress.

Anyway on my journey of the foods I eat, salad has always been a standard for me. Not as a “diet” food. Not because I “had to”… I’m a weirdo… I just enjoy them.

Before I became somewhat knowledgeable of foods and nutritional content one of the food groups I enjoyed in my salad was…… Ranch… yes, Ranch dressing.

It is a food group, isn’t it ? ūüėČ

Then I started getting smarter and realized I was killing and totally negating any positive effects of salad by the dressing on it. Now I was horrible about it, not like some salads I’ve seen where the lettuce is buried under a sea of white dressing, almost no longer visible….

Over time, I slowly weaned myself away from it. Oh, I have it occasionally ( I like it with my salad and pizza ūüėČ but this is rare for me.

Let me say this. I often eat salads. Most days of the week they are my lunch staple, because I really, honesty, enjoy them. And, you can seriously get all your daily servings of veggies in with it….. double win.

My salads are not just the standard lettuce, tomato, cucumber kind of salads. I throw all kinds of colorful veggies in, sometimes a fruit of some type, some nuts, seeds or other crunch along with some protein.¬†I’ve learned to use spinach as my “lettuce”. It’s a creative venture for me each time ūüėõ

Seriously, spinach is like a powerhouse of amazing, good for your nutrient rich stuff for almost zero calories. You wanna eat that stuff. Our store has been carrying locally grown and it’s spoiling me!

So I learned, if you add enough texture and variety of tastes and flavors to your salads, dressings are only needed in very minimal amounts.

But, as mentioned, when you are on a health and fitness journey, you do begin to look critically at how and what you eat to support and sustain those goals.

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A sample of a lunch salad…lots of fresh spinach!

One of the main “suggestions” I offer to people who are wanting to lose weight, is to keep a record of what you eat for about a week, and really consider all the little “extras” you might consume but don’t consider empty calories piling into your days.

Things like an over abundance of salad dressing, mayo, and other creamy sauces and the like really do add up. When you can see from your food journal what your consumption of certain items are, you can then begin to examine what you don’t need or could eliminate to help you on your journey to shed weight and get healthier.

Small steps can lead to big, long term changes!

No, I’m Not Eating My Emotions

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Food. I like that stuff.

Now days, my food choices are vastly different than those pictured above.

I’ll freely admit that I’ve had to get it in it’s proper perspective over the last few years. Growing up food was the “thing” that you celebrated with, gathered on Sundays for, had extra helpings of, and most importantly, you always, always cleaned your plate. It didn’t really matter you weren’t hungry anymore…¬† just ignore your bodies natural signals of being full and clean your plate.

Happy, sad, angry, depressed, bored, restless, frustrated, holidays, bad weather, stressed, whatever……. all opportunities to eat.

My grandmother and mom were great cooks, and it needs to be mentioned, bakers too. I freely admit to being a baked good snob and can often pass on¬†¬†store bought goodies and cake mix cakes and bagged cookies. I mean, no offense, but when you’ve had a made from scratch 3 layer German Chocolate cake, anything else is simply an imposter.

They ruined me.

I mean, not totally, ’cause I’m a pretty good baker myself and can make cakes that grown men offer marriage ūüėČ and my sons friends immediately sought to raid my cookie jar because ( according to them) I was the “only” mom who baked real cookies haha

So yeah, food, it was a big deal…. used on many levels¬†in a completely improper way. ¬†I hadn’t come to the knowledge (yet) ¬†that food was to primarily be fuel for my body.¬† Not a sporting event.

As I got older, I realized that my family definitely was a family of “emotional eaters”. My grandmother was very over weight as was my mom.¬† Actually, if I’m being honest with you, they were considered obese. My brother struggled with his weight most of his life. I had steadily gained weight for a few years when I finally got the kick in the butt to make some changes before I might too have to deal with health issues that plagued my mom, grandmother and brother.¬† I had watched my family use food for comfort and a¬†distraction from boredom¬†for years but was fortunate to have my eyes opened to that.

I often referred to it as mindless eating.

It might look like this: constant grazing while cooking, continuing to eat and pick food from bowls after the meal was long over (and large seconds had been had) eating during the clean up process, basically just consuming food without any thought of what was being done…. or an awareness you’re eating when you aren’t even hungry.

I knew I needed to make myself intentionally mindful of this process to avoid the downfall of a lifetime of emotional eating.

It wasn’t easy. I became aware of the weak part of my days/nights where I’d look for food and not be hungry or¬†when I thought about grabbing something ’cause I might feel stressed, angry, or bored.

Over the past few years I’ll say I think I’m pretty on top of it now…. and I’m very conscious when I let myself do it.

I remember one night after a rather stressful day my husband walked into the kitchen… I had a bag of BBQ chips out on the counter (for the record… I LOVE BBQ chips… but I’m pretty sure they have crack in them) and I was standing there just munching them down… I looked at him and said….

“I want you to know that I’m fully aware I’m totally emotionally eating right now”

I was being kinda silly about it but I was serious too. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t need to eat them.

It’s a huge step to identify things in your life that are a stumbling block to your health and fitness goals. Once you know your triggers you can make those slow steady changes to freedom.

To break free you must first:

Be real with yourself. Stop making excuses for eating what you don’t need.

Call it what it is… emotional, mindless eating. An unnecessary and unhealthy habit.

Remove yourself from temptation. And that means…get outta the kitchen.

When it was evening and I had eaten and wasn’t hungry, I just brushed my teeth. I knew I wouldn’t get anything after going through that process.

Write down times you feel most vulnerable, or things that drive you to eat when you aren’t truly hungry. Doing this for a week or two will show you patterns that you can then use as a defense strategy.

You love your family… but look at ways you may be influenced to participate in doing this just because it’s always “what you’ve known”. You can still be a part of the fam without engaging in this ūüėČ

Finally, be kind to yourself as you move through this. Awareness is the first huge step to success. Press on and use each day to move forward to freedom =)