Common Weight Loss Questions

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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 🙂

The Emotional Roller Coaster Of Eating

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Oops you did it again. Somehow, that bag of Cheetos just disappeared. Did you eat that many? the BAG?? It’s gone ??

You immediately feel the guilt and stuff the bag in the can… hating yourself….the familiar feeling settling in over you..

ok maybe Cheetos aren’t your “thing” perhaps you’ve set out to only have a little of something and somehow, before you know it, it’s gone.

The ice cream. The cookies. The bottle of wine.

Perhaps it’s at meal time. You determine you will eat what you need and no more, yet by the time you push away, seconds have graced your plate even though your hunger was satisfied a long time ago.

Or your at the office brunch/breakfast/lunchy thing where there’s usually a plethora of crappy food with a lone veggie tray hanging out at the end of the table like an ugly step child. You think you’ll only get “a little” of something yet before you know it your plate is overflowing and so is your self imposed food guilt.

Been there. Done that.

Guilt. Remorse. 

All or Nothing.

Eat to much…feel bad about it… eat more to feel better about it…feel worse. Then go to starve and deprive mode.

Repeat guilt and remorse cycle using food to comfort your crappy feelings from doing it.

 

Where do you get off the roller coaster ??? It’s a horrible place to be yet, so many of us live there or have lived there.

Life shouldn’t be lived that way nor should we have such a distorted relationship with food and eating.

We’re in it together for our entire lives .. we need to be able to eat, be satisfied, and enjoy food in reasonable portions without feeling guilty.

Why do we behave this way?

We’ve been conditioned that foods are “good” or “bad”. We’ve been told if we need to lose weight we must “diet” and that means removing all tasty foods we love from our presence and not having them for a determined length of time, if ever, again. It means suffering…doing without…having no fun… restricitions and parties where you don’t get to eat cake while everyone else does and you sit on the sidelines forlornly stuffing a celery stick in your mouth.

A horrible, miserable existence in the pursuit of health and balance with food.

Over time, and on my own terms I learned it just doesn’t have to be that way. When I started my journey now ( 8 years ago) one of the things I rebelled against was some set “diet’ that told me what I could eat and couldn’t eat.

What if I didn’t feel like eating that particular “thing” at that meal?? What if there was a birthday party and I wanted a little cake? Why is every single, stupid, diet 1200 calories? Like we all have the same caloric needs??

No, no, no. I’m to much of a rebel and free spirit to be locked into some diet. So I set off determined to do things my way.

What did that look like?

First, I determined nothing was “off limits”. You might be thinking…”wow… wouldn’t you just go crazy and wolf down a bag of chocolate or something?”   No, ’cause I’m a big person in charge of myself and I can be trusted I won’t do that. .. and you’re a big person too with the same abilities.

Somehow, mentally doing that, took the power away from food… I knew it was there… I knew if I wanted it I could have it.. I just made choices based on whether or not eating those foods would help me get closer to my goals. 

Food has a tremendous power over us… we need to be the one in control of it… not the reverse.

There was a whole lot of freedom in that… there still is. Without that restriction on me it was easier to not be thinking of things I “couldn’t” have. I learned to enjoy my meals, to appreciate my food. To eat and move on to my next thing… which wasn’t obsessing over the next meal or when I could eat again.. I stopped thinking so much about food..

pure freedom…..

Second, I wasn’t obsessing over calories. I learned to start listening to my body and feed it enough food to be satisfied but not to full. I learned to feed it when it was growling and hungry. I didn’t eat just because “it was time” by the clock. I didn’t stuff “seconds” in just because it tasted good.

Yes, there were times I had a meal that I felt like wasn’t helping me to my goals. Yes, I was fully aware of it but I made a choice to have it and I made a choice to just keep moving forward each day.  I didn’t quit or beat myself up. I didn’t go just grab more food cause I felt like in some way I had “failed” so why bother?

Listen, you fail when you freaking quit.

I took ownership for my eating habits. I didn’t make excuses to myself for poor choices…but like anything… it’s a learning process. You do it till it just becomes second nature to you… an ingrained habit.

I learned to navigate dinners out, family gatherings, birthday parties etc. I ate food in moderation. I had cake! A small piece is just as satisfying if not more, than a big piece. I learned to get picky about what I ate… if I didn’t love it… I learned to pass on it and not take it cause it was there. There was again, more freedom in making my food selections and knowing I was in control.

And somehow, day after day, making intentional choices I lost the weight. As time went on it got easier and easier to leave behind things that once might have landed on my plate. Healthy foods began to be what I craved over other things.

There was no guilt or remorse. No shame cycle with food. Eat. Be satisfied. Move on.

I had meals. I allowed myself treats when I realllyy wanted something. I learned a small treat was satisfying.

It was a slow process of making changes and learning what worked for me. I didn’t need a “diet”. I didn’t need restrictions.  I didn’t need to live the rest of my life on a guilt and remorse roller coaster for what I ate.

Neither do you. Learn about yourself. Commit to making small daily changes that will become life long habits. Learn to listen to your body and respect it by treating it well…mentally and physically. Get off the roller coaster of guilt and remorse with food… life isn’t meant to be lived that way. It’s meant to be lived in freedom.

The Right Diet For You

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Say what? Did I just use the word “diet” in my title? Maybe you’re thinking… “you don’t do diets… what’s up? And what do you mean the right diet??”

And you’re correct, I don’t subscribe to any particular diet or current trendy food movement that’s going around.

8 years ago I decided when I was going to finally do it ( lose weight) and be done with it this time (for good)  that I needed to figure out what worked for me.

I had to first acknowledge what DIDN’T work for me.

I knew that I didn’t like having to follow some set daily food plan telling me what I could eat and how much. I didn’t want to be locked into something ridged that kept me from living my life and enjoying it.

I didn’t wanna be miserable. I didn’t wanna be deprived. Basically, I wasn’t interested in suffering.

Isn’t that what diets are about? You jump into something for 6-8 weeks, hope for the best, and count down the days till you can return to “normal” life and eating. You just get through it.

And well, I’m honestly a bit of a rebel at heart and just  don’t like having to follow the rules of a set diet. Like… don’t tell me what to eat and when….. everything in me rebelled against that.

That’s when I decided… I’ll just do my own thing…. and you know what? it’s worked for me.

I wanted to lose weight, not be hungry, and eat what I enjoyed while I did it.

Let me give you 3 tips or suggestions on building your own daily “diet” ( and I use that term to describe what you consume in your day)

 

Safe.  Whatever you decide to do, it needs to be safe in a health way. Don’t overly restrict your calories or live off nothing but bananas or some crazy stunt. Understand what your basic daily caloric needs are and operate within that zone.  If you actively exercise don’t forget to adjust your needs for higher active days. If you need help understanding your calorie needs, consult with your doctor for a good base line starting place. It also needs to have all food groups included.

 

Simple. For me that meant being able to eat foods I enjoyed and could easily prepare. It also meant having a working plan that I could stick to and follow. It also had to be flexible. If the family went out for a burger, I certainly didn’t want to sit there picking at a salad while they had fries!  ( although, now days, a salad is almost always my preference simply because I like them and feel better eating them over a heavier meal) If I had a burger, it was an intentional choice that I enjoyed and then just moved on with life.

 

Sustainable.  I think this is the most important point. Whatever you set up for yourself has to be what works for you. That is the only way you will stick with it and be successful long term, and for the rest of your life.  It doesn’t have to be what your co-worker is doing or your neighbor. They aren’t you… you aren’t them. It’s time to set aside cookie cutter diets and not try to fit into molds that aren’t designed for us.  I think that’s why so many fail in this process of losing weight.  Trying to fit into something that is designed to fail from the beginning .

 

Other suggestions to this would be:

Make sure you include all food groups in your plan. If you aren’t crazy about something ( like veggies) then just start taking small steps to incorporate them.

Eat enough food to satisfy your appetite, but don’t stuff yourself.

Listen to your bodies natural signals… eat when hungry…don’t eat when you aren’t.

Don’t restrict foods. I think that was a huge thing to my success. I basically told myself that I could have anything, nothing was off limits, and it really takes the power out it knowing you can have it…if you realllllyyy need it…  but it gives you the freedom to leave it alone too. It puts a huge level of control on your side.  Understand.. this wasn’t open season for me to just eat crappy food. I knew that was stuff that needed to be limited for my success. It just removed its power over me by mentally by not restricting it from my life. We always…want…what we cannot have.

Structure your meals to where you eat larger ones early on in day…tapering to lighter at the end of day.  Really, think about when you need the most calories and energy…it’s not before you go to bed in the evening with a huge meal.

Get to know your body! Know what foods make you feel good and energetic and which make you feel like crap. Don’t shun foods groups just because it’s the latest trend. If you have a valid allergy issue or if you don’t feel great when you eat it, fine. Otherwise aim for balance of all foods.

By developing and building your own plan, you will be able to stay on it for a life time and not just a few weeks.  Making your own rules will keep it sustainable and doable for you which will lead to your success.