Life gets in the way

I am pleased to publish a very special guest writer today! A very big thank you to RCW, for taking the time to write something each and all of us can relate to:

 
Let’s face it. Losing weight is tough. Maintaining a healthy diet and staying consistent with exercise is challenging. With everything else that we spend our energy on, work, family, school etc.; it’s easy to put our health on the back burner. How many of us are exhausted at the end of the day and you’d really rather grab something quick to eat on the way home? The thought of making something from fresh ingredients, cleaning the kitchen and then working out is just too much! Ugh! Who wants to do that after a tough day? How do I stick to my goals when life gets in the way?

You are not alone. We all get exhausted from time to time and life can be overwhelming. Suddenly your 10 lb. weight loss goal seems completely ridiculous and unattainable. You think I’ll never get there so maybe you give up a little. Even the most fit and healthy individual will find that some days are just hard to stick to the plan. It’s ok. Relax and retune your goals a bit. Whether you’re well versed in the world of health or just starting out, setting many small, attainable goals is the way to go.

You can set a weekly, daily or even an hourly goal if that’s what you need. (Eat an apple at 1; take a walk around the office at 2.) Celebrating the successes no matter how small, will help keep you on your path. If you can accomplish an hourly or daily goal, you can do it for a week, a month and even a year. Before you know it, you’ll see that all of your small successes helped you achieve your larger goal. Soon your new habits will be your lifestyle. Instead of the dread of cooking and working out after a hard day, it will just be part of who you are.

Life might not seem to get in the way so much anymore.

A Real Eye Opener

Often times, the first thing a nutritionist will have you do is track your calories for a few days.  The beauty of this exercise is that it can be eye-opening to see just how calorie-packed some of your favorite foods really are. If you simply track what you eat (without makings any dietary changes), you will begin to see just how easy it is to cut back with a few subtractions or replacements.  Experiment with this.  For the next week simply carry around a notebook and write down everything you eat and drink or use an app like “lose it!” to make quick work of it.

The 3 in 2 Challenge begins Monday!

What:  The 3/2 challenge is a friendly competition (mostly with yourself) to lose 3 lbs in two weeks.  At first glance, that may not seem like a lot, but if you’re not careful the scale will not tip in your favor.

Why:  Would “to lose 3lbs” be too obvious?  Then how about this?  The reason is to practice good habits and demonstrate to yourself that you are in total control of your weight.  There is an extreme feeling of empowerment that goes along with that.  Think of it in these terms, if you can lose 3 lbs in the next two weeks, isn’t it possible to lose 6lbs in 4 weeks?  Extrapolate that, what happens if you practice these same habits for 8 weeks?  12 weeks?

When:  Starting Monday February 24th.  The minute you get up, weigh yourself, then weigh yourself each of the following two Monday mornings.   As close as possible to the same time, same outfit, etc. You want to remove as many variables as possible.  DO NOT be obsessive and weigh in more than one time a week.  Weight can fluctuate and I don’t want you to get frustrated.

Where:  Right in your own home

How:  Okay, this formula is going to blow your mind! I finally cracked the code!  1) Exercise (more) 2) Eat less (and better quality) 3) Set goals (well, you did, lose 1.5 lbs per week).  So, what specifically should you do?  Let’s start with exercise:

For this challenge plan to exercise  5 days per week.  For those of you who have a set routine, follow it, work hard, don’t skip and most importantly, make sure it’s burning calories. If you’re just going through the motions and not challenging yourself, kick it up a notch.  In fact, it’s probably a good idea to completely mix up your routine to shock your body.  The body learns to do movements more efficiently over time.  If you’re doing the same old workout, you’re burning far fewer calories than when you first started.  Mix it up and confuse the body and you’ll see better results.

For anyone who wants a new routine or just doesn’t have access to a gym, here are links to free workout videos on YouTube:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, do:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhXhOwlY2Ck

Tuesday, Thursday, do: either one of these or search for ‘Fitness Blender’ on YouTube and pick one that you like

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcN37TxBE_s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vve4BVTZ0QU

Remember to always warm up and cool down. If these workouts are too intense look for lower intensity/lower impact workouts or contact me and we’ll figure it out:

Diet advice:

First, the obvious: your body will not change if you don’t.  If you think you can make small changes and make a big difference you’re going to end up frustrated.  Set your mind right and immediately set out to avoid the obvious offenders.  Fast food, white starches (rice, pasta, potatoes, bread), candy, bakery goods, chips, and soda. If you eat dairy, make sure to choose fat free.   For the next two weeks, be mindful of the nutritional value of everything you eat.  The best thing you can do is to start planning meals in advance and go shopping.  Bring your lunch to work so you know exactly what you’re eating.  Don’t leave it to a spur of the moment decision or you will choose the wrong things.

I did mention soda, but for that matter, for this challenge, don’t drink your calories.  They can mount up quickly.

Next, let’s set goals.  For those of you that don’t know how many calories to eat per day, visit www.loseit.com (it’s free.  They have an android and iOS app for free as well).   Once you create your free account, you will see where you can enter information and it will calculate a daily calorie goal.  I would suggest using the app for the entire two weeks and logging everything you eat.  It’s almost fail proof that way.  You’ll notice that your exercise per day will increase the number of calories you can eat.  Motivation.

If you’ve read through some of my older posts, you may have read how important it is to set specific and measurable goals.  Without a clear target, there’s no way to determine what exactly it is you want, and how exactly to get there.  For example, if you started this year with a resolution that you simply wanted to be healthier, how would you know if you were successful?  What steps would you take to accomplish it.  How would even define ‘healthier’.   It’s very difficult to answer these questions.  Imagine now that you had the same resolution but this time you were much more targeted.  You wanted to reduce your cholesterol to under 200, you wanted to eliminate added salt and sugar, you wanted to lower your blood pressure to a specific level.  Now you have something to measure. Next, how would you get there? Maybe you reduce saturated fat to 10 grams per day, you limit red meat to 1 x a week, you remove table salt and sugar from you cabinets and take your coffee black.  You can see now that with specific and measurable goals, you have a much better plan to becoming healthier.  With that said you are now armed with:

1)      The goal of losing 1.5 lbs per week

2)      The goal of exercising 5 days per week

3)      The goal of weighing in every Monday morning

4)      The goal of avoiding the biggest offending foods listed above

5)      The goal of shopping and meal planning and not eating out for the next two weeks

If you pull all of this together and stick to it for 14 days, and if you think you have at least 10 lbs to lose, you will likely be successful.  Everyone is different, and often times we have to make adjustments as we go, so don’t get discouraged either way.  Best of luck!

For meal planning stick to basics.  Do not eat starch with dinner, stick with a protein and a salad.

Drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest.

Breakfast – I normally go with egg whites (often with one yolk) and turkey bacon.  Some days I eat cereal (obviously a whole grain with no added sugar and fat free milk).  Oatmeal is a good choice as well.  Use your loseit! app to track calories.

I normally have fruit or nuts or yogurt for a snack. I have a mid-morning and afternoon snack. Believe me you do NOT want to go hungry.  Eating throughout the day keeps your blood sugar level and keeps your energy level up.  This also forces you to limit lunch to 500 calories or less, which will help to avoid the afternoon crash where you would pay good money for a nap!

Lunch – Turkey sandwich on whole wheat or salads with turkey or other lean protein.  Fish is a good option too.  Be very careful of how things are prepared and know exactly what goes in it.  Never trust brand advertising that makes everything sound like it’s good for you.  This is why tracking calories is SO important.

Dinner – If you’re used to a big dinner this will probably be a bit of a sticking point.  This should be your smallest meal as you have little energy requirements left in the day.   As mentioned, stick with a lean protein and salad.  I normally stick to 1800 calories a day – 300 for breakfast, 500 for lunch, 500 for dinner, 500 for snacks (broken up over 3 different times).

If you’re on the fence about engaging in this challenge, try to fast forward 2 weeks and envision yourself being successful.  Not only will that create a sense of accomplishment, but it will mean you have put together the right formula of diet and exercise to control your weight at any time.

I would love to see people post comments and be supportive and ask questions as we go.  BEST OF LUCK!

*Disclaimer – Please consult your physician before starting this or any exercise program.  This should not interfere with any direct Doctor’s orders or dietary programs provided by an expert.  This challenge is not meant to cure, diagnose, or alleviate any health issues.  You agree to enter this challenge at your own risk and hold nobody else liable for any injuries or complications.

They’re all cheaters!

There seems to be different philosophies over the inclusion of cheat meals when in ‘weight-loss’ mode.  At a very elementary level, and this completely disregards ‘eating for health’ or taking into consideration how food is metabolized by the human body, weight loss can be reduced to calories-in versus calories-out.  If you create a calorie deficit (take in fewer calories than you expend), the body will have to draw on stored fat to meet energy its requirements.  On that level, most people can squeeze in a cheat meal during a typical week and still create that deficit.  The rationale behind this is to include the foods we love and not feel deprived.

My response to this approach is two-fold in my opinion.  Firstly, if your goal is to lose weight (by creating a calorie deficit), why sabotage your progress with taking in more calories on a given day.  Secondly, and more importantly, I think food is much more of an addiction than we’re willing to admit.  For a lot of us, a really good meal followed by a delicious dessert only makes us want more.  If you indulge on a Sunday, quite often you wake up Monday with cravings.  If you just eliminate it completely, chances are that, over time, the cravings will dissipate.  You will also notice that you begin to appreciate the higher quality food, and being forced into a cheat meal (a night out with friends and family, for example) will actually weigh on your mind.

If you’re in maintenance mode, that is, only training to keep your weight stable, you can probably work in a few of the foods you love week to week without a problem.  However, if you’re actively trying  to lose weight, you’re better off waving bye-bye to those high fat, high calorie, and highly addictive foods and focusing on your goals.  Nobody says you have to do it forever.  When you reach your ideal weight, you can implement a more lenient plan.

Motivation

Once in a while we all fall off the wagon. We interrupt our groove and find it get harder and harder to get back on track. So, how do we stay motivated? One thing that works particularly well for me is mapping out short term goals. For example, if you are in weight-loss mode, make a short term weekly goal of losing 1 lb per week.  Just knowing that your weigh-in is fast approaching makes keeping to your workout schedule and diet much easier.  This becomes increasingly motivating as you hit your goal each week, and you will see resolve grow even stronger.   Regardless of whether you’re in loss mode or maintenance mode, make sure you have your goals mapped out and you’ll see your motiviation skyrocket!