Category Archives: Life
Once again in an attempt to prove why we can’t have nice things, one of the other pieces of the article I quoted in my last post talked about how dark chocolate may not necessarily be all that great for you either. I am well known among my friends, family, co-workers, and fitness community for saying “I eat very healthy, but you’ll have to pry the chocolate out of my cold, dead, rotting fingers.”
And I am totally serious. 😀
Granted, on one hand, one must not overdose on anything–especially anything that’s sugary and calorically dense. But on the other, I can’t help but feel that there’s a great deal of scaremongering as click-bait to take advantage of people who are already neurotic about food. Every couple of days I get emails titled things like, “Why exercising makes you fat”, “Why drinking water makes you fat”, “Why cardio makes you fat”, and am expecting the next one to be titled, “Why merely breathing dooms you to be fat, you fatty fat fat person”.
Chill. The. Hell. Out.
There’s this unnecessary struggle in a culture that wants it both ways. We can’t be sedentary and consume twice as many calories as needed and expect to be healthy. At the same time, we can’t obsess over every crumb we put into our mouths until we develop an eating disorder. The phrase “clean eating” is constantly thrown around, but it’s become a nebulous term without a clear definition. People are told “Avoid processed food”, but technically nearly everything is processed to a certain extent, so that’s meaningless too. “Avoid chemicals”, some say, but once again, technically EVERYTHING is a chemical and is composed of chemicals so this is once again meaningless. “Appeal to nature” is a logical fallacy which is oft used by the health and fitness “experts” to scare you into buying their product, book, what-have-you. Don’t buy into it. Don’t try a fad diet or think that you have to eat in an unnatural, highly restricted, and limited way in order to be healthy. Use common sense and good judgment.
People fail at “diets” because they see them as the following:
“Clean eating” is about eating reasonably healthy 80-90% of the time and enjoying yourself the rest of the time. It’s about making changes in your habits you can feel comfortable and content maintaining for the rest of your life. People need to develop a healthy relationship with food and learn how to enjoy it in moderation without either feeling deprived or starved. Food is fuel, but it can be tasty fuel.
This is one of the many reasons why I tell people over and over again: any diet which vilifies any of the macronutrients: fats, carbs, or protein, avoid like the plague. All are required in your diet in varying amounts in order to have a balanced meal plan. So when you hear “Carbs are evil”, “fat makes you fat”, run, just run. Neither “advice” will help you to be healthy and will actually harm you in the long term.
And enjoy your chocolate (in moderation). 😛
Side note: one of the sanest reads I’ve found in a while on the subject is called The Lean Muscle Diet: A Customized Nutrition and Workout Plan–Eat the Foods You Love to Build the Body You Want and Keep It for Life! A lengthy title but a worthwhile read. Regardless of whether or not you are vegan or paleo (and the book discusses both), it’s invaluable. It discusses in depth how to eat for fitness in a sensible way that you can maintain indefinitely.
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I was invited to participate in Raise.com’s “Summer Fit” campaign. Summer is honestly my favorite season. I love the sun, the heat, and the opportunity to visit my favorite beaches.
I spend a good chunk of time outdoors in the summer. I love going out for morning runs, long walks into Cambridge and downtown Boston, and spending time walking along the beach.
One of the places I like to visit in the summer is Hampton Beach. The trick is to get there early enough to be able to get a parking spot. Once that’s secured, I spend much of the day walking along the beach and on the boardwalk:
I try to soak up as much vitamin D as possible–given plenty of spray on SPF 100, of course–before the winter months hit New England.
Here are my list of summer must-dos and haves:
- Sunblock! I am a fair skinned, freckled redhead. I forget sunblock and I burn VERY badly, very quickly.
- Water! You should be drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of water daily, and in hot weather and exercise this needs to be upped.
- Electrolytes! Following the above, getting your electrolytes in is a good idea. You can buy special water for that or additives to put in your water.
- Getting outside! I go for walks during my lunch breaks at work; it gets me out of my chair and active besides.
- Morning runs! Better than caffeine and there’s just something about being outside in summer mornings which is so refreshing.
- Long walks! I hit the farmer’s markets, stores, window browse, beaches, you name it.
- Good footwear! Wearing the appropriate footwear for either walking or running is crucial.
- Fresh fruit and veggies! Take advantage of the the summer season and hit up your local farmer’s market for good, fresh produce which is good for you.
- Playlists! I take my iPod Touch wherever I go and have some great playlists to keep my energy level up.
Raise.com is a marketplace to buy and sell gift cards for all of your fitness needs. They offer branded gift cards on their site to help you with your workout purchases–whether it be for gear, clothing, footwear, or even technical gadgets. Go check them out!
I’ve had a number of people ask me for more detail than what’s in my bio on this site: how did I lose the weight? What did I do specifically? What was the magic recipe?
First of all…it took me a little over a year to do. I was not on the Biggest Loser, I had no trainers, I had no books, no coaches, no manuals…nada. The most amount of support and training I got was when eDiets first came out, and they allowed me to log my meals, have a fitness plan, etc. That’s when I first REALLY learned how to eat.
I started out the first month cooking for myself, which helped me to shed weight right there. After that, I decided to give a modified version of Atkins a try: I eliminated bread, pasta, potatoes, corn, and fruit. With the caveat that this was years before I went vegan, I cooked tomatoes in garlic with cheese, I ate grilled chicken, and I gave veggie burgers a try once I saw how much less fat and calories they had than the standard burger. I also made stir frys with lots of veggies. Afterward I slowly began adding on the GOOD carbs: whole wheat pasta, multigrain and whole wheat bread, potatoes, etc. I avoided refined sugar, white flour, soda, sugary drinks, and HFCS. Heck I was avoiding that crap before it became trendy! I also ate convenience diet foods like Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones, being careful to pay attention to calories, fat, and sodium. I gave no fucks on the amount of carbs in each meal; I just looked for a good balance of nutrients. And lastly–this is part is the most important–I DID NOT STARVE MYSELF. I cannot emphasis this enough.
I didn’t work out for the first half of the weight loss. In some ways, this was good: I needed to get my diet on point and figure out how to eat before I started to figure out what the heck to do with myself in the gym. I never, ever knew how to eat and it’s a good chunk of what cost me in college, that and gaining so many food intolerances. During the last half of the weight loss, I began working out in my apartment complex’s gym room. It was open 24/7, and it cost me a nominal fee for the key to the room. One of the best perks of that place ever! I really do miss it sometimes, and have been slowly building up my own home gym to help out. I also began taking yoga and aerobics classes at work.
Keeping motivated for an entire year of watching what I ate and working out was sometimes challenging. I succeeded because I didn’t deprive myself. I made compromises on occasion, keeping those occasions infrequent: when I went out to eat, I would get a slice of pizza and a salad. I ate Smart Ones desserts. I figured out that lite cool whip and strawberries was delicious (I recommend rice whip for that now!), and made substitutions when I could. I sliced potatoes and baked them with garlic and a bit of EVOO instead of eating fries. When I went out to eat, I figured out what I could order on the menu that wasn’t fried, coated with either a ton of cheese or some form of dairy, etc. I had salads and soups before my meals, making sure that the dressing was on the side and usually some form of vinaigrette.
The reminders had to be there too. Thinking about wearing a two piece for the first time in my life helped. Knowing how fed up I was of not being able to wear the clothing I wanted, and the frustration of not even being able to fit into a size 14 also helped. I’m all of 5’4″, I have a small bone structure–I had to have had a LOT of fat on me to be that heavy. It sucked. I basically dug my heels in and got good and stubborn about changing my life, and no one could get that stubborn for me but me.
I’ll also add what didn’t help: fat shaming from people around me just made me feel worse. It didn’t make me want to lose the weight more; it just made me feel like a fat failure. On more than one occasion someone who thought that they were being “well-intentioned and concerned” was mean enough to drive me to tears. It’s like people think they have to tell you that you’re fat. Trust me, when you are–you KNOW. I had no delusions about my size. I was harassed and followed on the street, and screamed obscenities at for having the audacity to be out in public while female and fat. This is why I aim to be 100% body positive. You will never, ever see me using being “fat” as a motivation for working out, use body shaming to try and get people motivated, or any form of negativity as a means of getting people into gear. Instead I talk about being on “Team Happy & Healthy”, feeling good, etc. Positive thinking gets positive results, and you cannot hate yourself into a better version of you.
I had so much weight to lose that I tried and failed a number of times to lose the weight, not realizing that I wasn’t succeeding because I wasn’t sticking with it. I wasn’t going to get thin overnight, and I had to be patient. Getting over that hump right there helped me out a lot. This is why I blog a lot about making small changes, especially if you have a big goal in mind. Those big goals can look awfully overwhelming, and you are best breaking those up into chunks or milestones to get through. Small victories over time paid off for me. You don’t need to make drastic changes to have drastic results, although the bigger the goal, the more likely you will need to overhaul your lifestyle in the long run. Ultimately, the changes you make must be ones you can maintain in the long run, not for a quick fix.
Pictures of me before and after the 100+ lb weight loss:
Years later when I got cocky, had too much personal stress, and got inactive, I started to gain some of it back. I got photos back from a vacation with friends, and had flashbacks to days back at college and how I felt and looked. I had no idea I had gotten that heavy, and it hurt. All of that hard work, out the window. Gone. I also was painfully aware that my finances are in a severe crunch and I couldn’t afford to take all of the classes that had kept me so lean in the past. I needed something which would help me to lose weight AND help out with the money issues. That’s when I found Team Beachbody and became a fitness coach.
Here are pictures of me before Beachbody, and ones taken recently:
Really the most important thing that happened to me as a result of the weight loss was this: it gave me the knowledge and experience to know that I had and have the power to change myself and my life at any given point in time. It’s empowering, it’s uplifting, it’s downright magical. It’s about having the will and the drive to make a dramatic, positive difference in your life. If I can help at least one person to achieve that and steer them towards whatever will help them to do that, I will have done something awesome with what I’ve gained.
If you are not happy where you’re at for whatever reason and are looking to get healthy, lose weight, gain weight, gain muscle, run a 5K–whatever it is–feel free to reach out to me and make me your fitness coach. This is a labor of love, and hopefully this lengthy post will explain why. 🙂 Now you know my story.
I’ve spoken briefly in the past about diet and fitness not just being about losing a couple of pounds or gaining muscle, but about implementing important lifestyle changes. I can’t stress enough how important this is.
First of all, I don’t believe in dieting for weight loss. I believe in eating healthy and making the right choices for yourself. Dieting is an attempt at a quick fix, and quick fixes don’t work. They don’t teach you how to eat for maintenance, how to take care of yourself, the importance of food as fuel, and what nutritional values need to be met in order to achieve the state of being happy and healthy. What I really love about programs such as the 21 Day Fix is that it teaches you how to eat; not by starving or depriving yourself but by eating in a more balanced way and in the right portions. I think it’s a terrific compromise!
Too often we have unhealthy relationships with food and programming within ourselves set up that often sabotage our efforts to actively engage in a healthy lifestyle. This isn’t something to be ashamed of; this is part of being human. What we are raised with, what we grew up with influences us the most. What foods did we eat as children that made us feel good? What foods do we reach out for when we are sick, stressed, or otherwise not at our best? That’s all programming, and believe it or not, we CAN change that.
Change is scary. We like what’s stable and what’s comfortable. We don’t want to give up foods we enjoy, and many of us have certain foods we’re attached to or otherwise find difficult to give up. My food is chocolate. As a result, I choose to have a breakfast that contains a healthy meal supplement which is chocolate-flavored in order to get my fix, not be deprived, and find a way to have it that’s healthier than binging on chocolate chip cookies, cake, etc.
We can choose to make healthy substitutions versus giving things up. Swap out french fries for baked sweet potato fries, for instance. Instead of a cheeseburger, have a tasty veggie burger instead. I highly recommend Gardein’s Ultimate Beefless Burger. It has an excellent texture, is juicy (something you don’t typically get in a veggie burger!), and incredibly tasty, and it has significantly less calories, less fat, and zero cholesterol. I also love Beyond Meat’s Beefy Burger.
You can also choose to enjoy your foods in moderation versus depriving yourself completely. When eating out, get your favorite slice of cake or pie to go and enjoy a few bites each day. You can even cut it into multiple pieces and have a small piece each day. Think of it as treating yourself. My compromise when eating out where there’s pizza, for instance, is to order a slice of pizza and a salad.
We need to heal our relationships with food before we can achieve our goal of living a happy and healthy lifestyle. Food is necessary; it fuels our bodies for necessary functions and enables us to live, literally! Diets which require severe calorie restrictions and/or are nutritionally deficient may work at first, but ultimately will put your body into starvation mode. Too often people who carry extra weight are yo-yo dieters and eat too much food that lacks nutritional value and nutritional density. 1500 calories of junk food is NOT the same as 1500 calories of healthy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean sources of high amounts of protein, nor will it be treated as such by your body.
The formula for meeting your fitness goals in my book has always been 40% what you eat, 40% how much of it you eat, and 20% how active you are. 80% of any fitness goal is your diet, and as I blogged about the other day, you don’t need to make drastic changes in order to get drastic results. Small changes over time wins the day!
People need to learn how to eat for the long haul, not for the short term. It means being patient and sticking to a plan that may not give you immediate or fast results, but will lead to better and greater changes down the road.
Need additional help? Looking for advice on your fitness goals? I’m just a click away to become your FREE fitness coach.
“I don’t have the time” is the excuse I hear the most often when it comes to fitness, mainly because people are convinced if they can’t carve out an hour without sacrificing family time, sleep, work, and personal time, they can’t work out.
Here are some ways around that:
- I’ve already blogged about a few workout programs under 30 minutes. They were designed by the same trainers who developed P90X and Insanity, so results are guaranteed. There are also plenty of success stories and testimonials about the transformations they have provided for others.
- Get better at managing how you’re spending your time. Start logging absolutely everything you’re doing in a single day, when you’re doing it, and how much time you’re spending on it. Could anything be scaled back? What are you spending your day doing? Do you spend too much time on Facebook? Do you REALLY need those 30 minutes in front of the tv, or could you compromise and work out while watching your shows? I’ve gotten into doing things like random interval cardio while watching my favorite tv programs. Time flies before you know it, and before long you’ve burned an extra 400-500 calories. It’s worth it!
- Start making to-do lists. Absolutely everything that MUST GET DONE, THAT DAY, on that list. Not “nice to haves” but do or die. Take that list seriously, and update it at a set time every day. Could be before you go to bed or when you wake up. Keep it on your smartphone so it’ll always be around, and program reminder alerts into it to check and update it once daily.
- Make everything count. Take the stairs, park further away from the office, go out for walks during your lunch break, get up and walk around every once in a while. You’ll see the differences over time and your body will thank you.
- Studies have shown that for as little as 10-15 minutes a day you can improve your health. 10 minutes a day is better than 0 minutes.
- Evaluate how much of your job could potentially be done in less time. If you’re working a lot of overtime on a regular basis, there are some great articles about that here and here which may help you.
- If it’s genuinely important to you, you will make the time. Pencil it in and treat it as sacred.
This is YOUR health, which is important to not just you but those around you who rely on you. Take the time now and save yourself much grief later! You will thank yourself, I promise!!
For more awesome tips on time management and organization, I highly recommend the FREE 30 day course by Chalene Johnson at http://www.30daypush.com. It is quite literally life transforming. Thanks to it, I learned that I wasn’t just in need of organizational skills, I had literally none to speak of. The lessons in there take maybe five minutes a day and will save you hours of your life, will help you meet any goal you have, and will absolutely change you for the better.