Hit the Reset Button

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It’s been one of those months.  Not days, not weeks, an entire month of being way too liberal with my diet.

I had booked a just-for-fun photo shoot for June 28th but told my photographer I need much more time. If I would have stuck with the original date, I would have been miserable. I probably would look “okay” maybe even “good” to some people, but I’m setting my standards higher than just “good” and “okay.”  I will in no way look like I’m ready to hit the stage in a competition, but I aim to look my most FIT this year. That’s my goal.

So, today is day number 1. Again.  We’ve all been here I’m sure:

“I’ll start tomorrow.”

“Just one more party and I’ll get back on my diet next week.”

“I can’t possibly say no to birthday/graduation/wedding cake, so just one more cheat weekend.”

I consider the past month a mini-vacation for myself. I didn’t go nuts but NOTHING was working to get myself motivated to lean out. My usual tricks just weren’t cutting it. No motivational sayings posted on my phone or pictures of my favorite competitors helped. Writing about it didn’t help. Watching other people workout didn’t do anything for me. Taking progress pics didn’t do it either. Even pushing my own clients to work hard, which almost always works for me, didn’t make me want to take this seriously this time around.

I think I realized the problem: I believe it was a combination of stopping the coaching with Erik as well as having become USED to all the food during my bulk phase. I think my stomach was just like, “Ummm….what happened to all that food you were feeding me?”

Trust me, the food that’s on my diet phase of this plan is PLENTY of food for me. But of course, who wouldn’t just a little bit more? Just an extra bite here. A little more spoonful there. Oh just a few more grams won’t hurt.

The nice interesting part is that the scale doesn’t show any significant change. I didn’t completely undo all my hard work. So this tells me my cheats really weren’t that bad. This is more of a psychological RESET button I’m hitting. Because my mind and my heart were NOT into it this past month at all.

But that’s changing today.

No more slacking. Time to get serious.

So let’s this be a lesson to you boys and girls:

Even when you set goals, be ready to put the work in. Admit when you’re hearts just not into it, and hit that reset button when you are ready. It’s never too late!

 

 

The Honeymoon is Over – Saying Goodbye to the Bulk

I officially started my dieting phase on Monday and ended the building phase.  It’s been 26 weeks since the last time I had NO plan – No lifting and No meal plan.  And it’s been about 14 months since I’ve done any cardio (I don’t count the 3 cardio sessions I did the week of my competition).

Last week I was under orders from my coach to take off, no lifting and no planned meals for an entire week.  The result?  See here:

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I gained just 1lb, half an inch in my waist (BOO) half an inch in the hips (YAY!), half an inch in each leg, (YAY!), and of course, 1.5inches in my stomach. (BOO).

So you might think I’m upset about this but keep in mind, this was the result of being ON plan one week and being OFF one week.  It was such a much needed break for my body.  I did enjoy a few runs fast walks during the weekend while the weather was nice, a few alcoholic beverages, and celebrating Easter a week early with carbs galore.  If this is the result of that, then I’m really pleased.

So these are the STARTING numbers for my cutting phase.  I’m logging all of my food until I get a detailed plan from my coach which is due to arrive any minute now.  I took in about 1600 calories yesterday and am on track to do about the same today.  I worked legs yesterday and upper body today.  I’m holding off on cardio until I get my plan because, as I’ve learned, it’s all diet. 🙂  And the less cardio I have to do to shed this extra layer, the better and happier I’ll be.

I thought about ending my bulking phase with a little Ode to Food..but I’m not feeling the creative juices flowing on that one.  So here are some Lessons Learned instead:

  • The scale is my friend…the food scale that is.  I don’t care who you are, when you slap exactly 90ounces of tilapia or exactly 85grams of chicken on the scale, it’s like a little mini celebration.  As pathetic as it sounds, I can’t help but think “HELL YEAH I’M A ROCK STAR”  for being able to eye-ball what 85grams is and then to be right on the money?  Okay it’s silly but I feel pretty damn awesome for doing it.
  • You can never get tired of peanut butter.  Did you know there are people out there who don’t love peanut butter?  How dare they!  I learned to control my cravings by making my own in my VitaMix.  It’s amazing what you WON’T devour when you’ve made it yourself.  And when you’re super cheap frugal like me.
  • Good Food Attitude Required.  You cannot possibly enter a bulking phase with a bad relationship with food.  Of course, you can’t diet with one either.  But I would say you better have a positive attitude because when you consume a lot of it, you don’t want to HATE food.  You don’t want to HATE what it’s doing to your body.  You’re getting larger and larger and clothes aren’t fitting but don’t hate on the food.  It’s doing what it’s supposed to.  You’re training your body to grow and you have to keep in mind that a surplus of food is necessary to achieve this.
  • Body Image is Everything.  To go along with the food attitude, if you are miserable with how you look, you won’t last long.  It’s not easy to see my six pack go away, it’s not a cake walk to step on the scale and record the new number, and it’s damn annoying to try on clothes that fit 3 months ago that can’t get past your hips.  But it’s just the way things work.  It’s the way your body responds to added muscle (plus a little fat).
  • If eating an entire plate of asparagus is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.  There’s not really a lesson here.  I just love asparagus.  And I will never ever ever get tired of it. 🙂

Dieting progress posts will be forthcoming, as well as some much requested Workout posts.  I’ve been asked to blog a 20 minute Hotel Workout for those clients of mine who travel frequently.  So be on the lookout for that! 

 

As always, you can find my other posts on various training topics at Muscle is the New Sexy, new posts from me come out every Wednesday.  Don’t forget to like me on Facebook here and follow me on Twitter (mostly fitness related but sometimes sports and humor get mixed in) and Instagram (always just fitness related content).

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Happy Training!

 

 

 

My Top 10 Fitness and Nutrition Tips

I thought I’d put together a list (thanks to my client Heidi for the idea) of the best advice I’ve ever given as well as gotten as part of trying to be healthier, and live an active lifestyle.  Some of these I’ve stolen borrowed from my own coach or my first PT, others I’ve heard along the way, and some just from learning on my own.  Feel free to share with others who may need to hear this advice too!

In no particular order:

Be honest with yourself.  Write out what you’re going to eat the day before.  Even if you know you’re going to have a fast food breakfast, it’s better to be honest and have that reflection.  It works in reverse as well: Writing down that you plan to have a balanced, healthy dinner and then following through with it, gives you a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.  It’s also a small level of accountability you can have with yourself at the end of the day – looking over what you wrote down what you WANTED to eat versus what you ACTUALLY ate.  Do they match?  Why not?

 

Workout when you are least motivated.  Sounds strange, but when you absolutely have zero desire to get on your running shoes or get in your car to head to the gym, THAT is the time you should.  Many people experience a huge sense of satisfaction when they are DONE working out.  “I really didn’t feel like it at all but by the time I was done, I felt BETTER!”  Sooner or later, you’ll get into the habit of going, even when your body might be saying, “Let’s just stay home.”

 

Sleep trumps exercise everyday of the week.  If I was ever approached by a client who suffered from insomnia and was trying to lose weight, I would turn them down for PT until they got into a habitual sleep pattern that included a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.  Why? Because chances are they are not losing weight because they can’t sleep.  Until that is corrected, I’d be stealing their money and they would show zero results.  If you have a choice between going to bed early or going to the gym late for a workout, always always always opt for sleep.

 

Mentality.  If you start to view your food as fuel, you are much less likely to hit the drive thru or eat out at the chain restaurants.  When you’re first thought of when you hear the word or think the word “food” is “FEAR” or “WEIGHT GAIN”, or “DEPRIVATION” then you have the wrong mentality.  When your first thought is “FUEL” and “NOURISHMENT” and “HEALTH” you will never be tempted to have crappy, greasy, and garbage food ever again.  It’s a relationship that might take years to get to a good place.  It takes time to learn how to cook good food too.  Learning to cook even something as basic as steaming vegetables and baking chicken gets you one step closer to feeling good and looking good.

 

Shop the perimeter. There is no reason to go down the middle aisles of a supermarket when the majority of what you should eat is on the perimeter.  Granted, there are exceptions:  Whole grains, oils, nuts, and some baking needs are in the aisles.  But 90% of what goes in your cart is available in the perimeter.  Load up on veggies, fruits, lean proteins and fats, and you are good go.  Plus, you’re cart will be so full of the good stuff, there won’t be much room for the junk.

Goals should be something you can control.  I stole this one from my coach although I had learned it many years ago.  Don’t focus on having a goal of losing X amount of pounds in X amount of time.  How can you control that?  If we knew exactly how to lose fat, we’d all look exactly the same because no one would have a weight problem.  You cannot control your metabolism to the degree that you tell it exactly how many pounds you want to lose. Your goals should be simpler yet a challenge.  Examples:

I will drink 4L of water today.

I will not have alcohol with dinner this week.

I will have protein with all my meals today.

I will get up 15 minutes early to make breakfast tomorrow.

You cannot spot reduce.  If we could choose where the fat on our body could disappear from, that would be like discovering the fountain of youth.  Alas, it doesn’t work that way.  And speaking from experience, you cannot choose where the fat COMES on your body either.  You think I want the fat to go directly to my stomach?!  Yeah it’s irritating but the difference is, I know the endgame:  More muscle.  I know it’s temporary to have this layer of fat on me right now.  Same goes for when I’ll diet down, I know I might lose it in places that are not ideal (ummm Chest?) but, this is the way the body works.  So enough with the “Can we just do exercises that get rid of the extra fat on my inner thighs?  And can we just do abs and crunches so I can get rid of this belly fat?”  Sure! Let me just get my magic wand…

Your behavior should match your goals. Stole this one from Precision Nutrition. This goes back to being honest with yourself.  If you have a goal of losing fat and weeks go by with little to no success in that area, you most likely give up, right?  But if you take a look at what your behavior was those weeks, what would you see?  Someone who worked out 5 days a week?  Someone who ate 5 balanced meals a day?  Someone who got 7 hours+ of sleep?   Someone who did everything you’re supposed to when you’re dieting?  If you only have yourself to hold you accountable, you have to be honest with yourself and evaluate where you went wrong. You might see that you only worked out twice a week and you ended a few sessions early because you weren’t feeling it.  Or you skipped lunch a few days because you got busy at work.  And you never did prep your food for the weekend so you binged on junk.  Adjust your behavior before you set your goals because that is a huge reason why many people fail.

Bloodwork tells a big story.  I think people hear “I have a thyroid problem” and automatically assume someone must be lying or using an excuse for their stagnant progress.  As much as I hate to hear “Ever since I hit menopause I just can’t lose this weight,” or “Ever since I had babies, I can’t lose this weight,” many times, it’s a contributing factor to someone’s progress.  Yes, specifically women but men as well if they have cortisol or testosterone imbalances.  I won’t use this blog as a shameless plug but if you are interested in learning more about how hormones affect your weight loss, email me at fromfittofigure@gmail.com and we can discuss.  In the meantime, ask your doc to run a panel of tests on your thyroid, cortisol, and hormone levels to see what’s going on.  Adrenal fatigue, stress, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism are all contributors to why SOME people cannot lose weight.

The scale doesn’t tell the story.  If you’re frustrated by the lack of movement in the direction the scale might be going, first, you need to read this story from my friend Leslie who contributed to my blog last year.  Secondly, you don’t have to throw it out, but consider weighing yourself once a week and then maybe once a month.  Lastly, stop thinking of that number and start measuring inches.  Yes, that’s yet another number but almost everyone who reaches a plateau (and it WILL happen) notice that although the scale didn’t budge, the measurements did.  That’s called Progress. 🙂  You went down a dress size yet the scale only moved 3 pounds?  Oh gee, I guess you gained something called muscle.  If you’re still disgruntled, check out the following visuals.

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I hope these tips were helpful and informative for you.  If you liked what you just read, please share and comment!

 

 

 

 

Gimme Your Food

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How appropriate is this picture?  I LOVE IT!  I love it so much I made it my new profile pic on Facebook.

This is exactly what I tell people when they see me stuffing my face eating delicious off-plan food.  In fact, I did engage is such behavior on Superbowl Sunday.  I ate some really good snacks that I don’t normally eat at all and they were all pretty much worth every calorie.

I’m 15 weeks into training with my coach at LBC and I gotta say this building phase is much harder to adhere to with regards to the diet than the fat loss phase I went through for the competition.  Like, 10 times harder.  Probably 90% of the reason is because there’s no competition to get ready for.  However, as I have mentioned in previous posts, the scale is not an indicator of how I feel and how I look.  I admit I get a little scared when I step on it and see the number up 20lbs from my stage weight.  I think to myself “Stop this train, I wanna get off!” But, you gotta take a breath and realize what your goals are.  This is what I wanted.  This is what I set out to do.

Clearly, if you want to put on some muscle, you’re going to gain some fat along with it until it’s time to lean out.  So I have accepted this fact and move on.  It’s hard, especially at night when it’s too early to go to bed and I’m already finished with my last meal of the day.  I’m definitely not hungry (I’m in a surplus, how can I be?) but it’s that behavior I have to change.  That mindset of “But I’m bulking, I can eat more!” pops into my head.  It’s pretty much SHOUTING at me at night and it’s really difficult to shut it off.  So the past few days have not exactly been 100%.  More like 90% compliance.

Not bad, you might say.  It could be worse, you might think.  But remember what I always preach:  “One “bad” meal won’t undo all the hard work you’ve done just as one “good” meal won’t undo all the damage you may have done.”  But, adding up one and then another and another “bad” meal WILL yield results that will be less than favorable. 

Something to keep in mind as I go along this building phase.  Some days I think “I wish I could be in a deficit.  That was so much easier.”  But to be honest, it wasn’t as much fun as it is now.  I was SAD when I finished my last meal of the day.  Sometimes I would be sad as soon as I finished my BREAKFAST!  Just knowing I couldn’t eat anything for another 3-4 hours was super depressing.

Now, since I’m in a surplus, I’m pretty full after I eat.  And I take my time to eat my food instead of scarfing it down.  I enjoy my food SO much more since doing this.  I found myself literally shoveling food in my mouth at every meal, especially lunch and dinner since I was at a different job at the time and I didn’t really get a real legit “break.”  Now, I take my time and eat super slowly.  Just doing this one little thing has helped me immensely.

In keeping with “Accepting” this new me, I wrote a blog post for Muscle is the New Sexy this week which focuses on Letting your Light Shine.  I discuss some positive ways we can silence that negative voice that gets stuck on repeat sometimes in our head.

Let Your Light Shine

I hope you guys like it and share it!  Look for my blogs to come out every Wednesday on that site.

Becoming the Best Version of Yourself

 Did I really try my hardest today?

Maybe it’s the cold weather causing me to hibernate more than I’d like.  Maybe it’s seeing too many people on social media doing more than myself, who knows.  But I thought, in order to hold myself accountable, why not finish the day with a question?  I try to start my day with a statement such as,  I WILL do __________.  I AM going to ____________.  I CAN ____________.   It seems appropriate to end the day with a question – almost like a Review of Your Day.

Sidenote:  Although I’m speaking from a fitness perspective, this can still be applied to career or relationship or pretty much any goal you have.  Especially those New Year Resolutions.

Looking back at the past week, asking myself this questions, I was ON point with my meal plan from my coach.  I didn’t miss any workouts either.  So how can I repeat this?  How can anyone keep this train moving in the right direction?  I suppose it’s a combination of motivation and willpower and accountability from others.  But above all, it started with a plan.

I hear from many of my clients that although they have every intention of doing A, B and C in a given day, there are diversions and things that just get in the way and before you know it, they didn’t accomplish A B or C.  They haven’t even gotten the train out of the station and it’s already derailed.  And now they feel like crap and feel guilty and feel like giving up.

Here are some examples:

A meeting at work that went long, there goes your workout for the day!

Your car needs to be fixed so there goes your money that you wanted to spend on the new gym membership!

You oversleep so now you have to stop by the drive-thru or the cafeteria at work, there goes having a good home cooked meal!

Noticing a common theme in the above examples?  They all could have been prevented with a PLAN.  If you have a plan, you’re so much more likely to succeed.

Here’s some ideas on how to implement one:

  • How do we solve the meeting problem? How can we know when our boss wants us to stay late and work? We don’t.  So we have a plan to workout at a time when your boss has no control of your schedule – usually first thing in the morning.  Or a weekend.  There’s got to be some ME time in your life.  Several of my clients insert “Meeting with Jim” into their work calendar so they don’t miss a workout.  (Jim, like gym…get it?)  Even if you have to work late 5 days a week, if you have a plan to workout at a different time, it’s already done and you won’t feel rushed to squeeze it in.  Even if you only workout one day in a week, that’s something.  That’s an accomplishment.
  • How can you prevent a car that breaks down?  Or your child falls down and gets injured? (Think BIG expenses). Usually not preventable.  But your plan for this is your budget.   I’m a firm believer everyone/family needs a health budget.  This would be different or in addition to a savings account.  Coming from someone who knows what it’s like to scrape by, I know this is easier said than done.  The number one declaration I hear from ALL of my clients is “I wish I would have started this sooner.”  It starts with a health budget.  Save those dollars!  Saving up for a treadmill or a trainer or a good pair of running shoes or gym membership is a good first step.
  • What’s the plan for accidentally oversleeping?  This is probably the easiest one to do but also the one I hear the MOST excuses for:  Prep your food.  Prep your food.  Prep your food.  Prep your DAMN FOOD!!!!

🙂

Can you tell I’m slightly irritated passionate about this one?  It’s seriously the easiest thing to do EVER.  What’s the most common objection to it?

I know what to eat, I just don’t have time to make it.

Nope, not good enough.  You do have the time, you just don’t make it a priority in your life.  Goes back to the health budget.  If it’s a priority, you make the effort to get it done.

Stick “Food prep” in your calendar.  Literally write it down for a block of time for about 2 hours.

Go to bed earlier so you can wake up earlier and get it done in that time frame if you want.

Get off Facebook.  Take a social media BREAK.  Like a legit day or two break.

Make it a family affair and have the kids help out in the kitchen.  They’re going to eat the food anyways, right? Might as well start them young and get them learning some basic cooking skills like just chopping up veggies. If they are too young for that, how about mixing or just throwing stuff in a crock pot?  Or if you have OCD kids that love to be organized, how about getting them to weigh and measure out the food into zip lock baggies?  Seems like a mundane task but most kids I know are entertained by the smallest things.  Turn it into a lesson.  Teach them math or something, I don’t know.   Tell them:  “I need 6 ounces of chicken, in each of these bags.  If I need 6 ounces for everyday this week, how many ounces is that?”

Okay so I’m clearly not a parent nor a teacher but, I think you get my point.

If you have family that doesn’t eat the same foods you then yes, this will require some extra effort.   In my opinion, the easier option is just making stuff that everyone can enjoy, just decreasing/increasing the portions for them.

Picky eaters?  Try the “just try a bite” method.  Worked for me for about 15 some years since I was the pickiest child ever.  PB and J was the only thing I really ate but I would always have “at least a bite” of greens and meats that Mom made for me.  I got wise around age 25 by cooking food, the same time that I invested in a Personal Trainer I might add.

One of my clients recommended a couple books for those picky eaters so I’m passing on the information to my Mommy readers:  Bringing up Bebe:  One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

I just love this review of the book: “Bringing Up Bébé is a must-read for parents who would like their children to eat more than white pasta and chicken fingers.”

Another one is called: Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five

Check them out and let me know what you think – and if you’ve read them let us know so my readers/followers can hear what you think too!

Speaking of babies, this all comes back to baby steps – small steps to accomplish a large goal.  One day at a time was made for goals such as these.  They can seem overwhelming, they can seem like you’re starting at square one but with just some effort, you can get there.  It might even take months or even years before your PLAN is in full effect.

But before you know it, you’ll get into that rhythm.  You’ll be THAT person that’s always prepared.  THAT person that always seems to have his/her stuff together.  THAT person that you look at or read about and think “Oh I’m sure that would never work for ME.”  Guess what?  It can.

You will be that person that ends your day with “Did I try my hardest today?  HELL YES!” 

And it will show!  You’ll be happier because you’ll be closer to your goals; you’ll be calmer because your stress will be lowered due to all the workouts you’re doing and all the good food you’ve been eating;  you’ll be happier because you’ve been spending your money from your health budget; you’ll be more confident because you put your health first.

As always, if you have any other ideas or suggestions for my readers who struggle with this same problem, feel free to comment and share this post with others who could use the boost!

Peak Week Jitters

This week began what’s called Peak Week for me, the week of the competition.

My plan from Coach Ben was not such a big difference when I first looked at it.  The one big thing was that I got to do cardio!  I even sent him a message saying how I was kind of excited at the thought of doing HIIT training the next morning in addition to my usual weight training.

Hey guess what I realized very quickly the next day???  I don’t miss cardio.

Considering that I had done my weight training and then an hour of cardio afterwards for a grand total of almost two hours at the gym, I was TOAST.  It was great to work up a huge sweat like that but I cannot believe people voluntarily go to the gym and workout for that long on a regular basis.  Hell, I can’t believe I used to RUN (okay JOG) for that long and even longer when I trained for my half and full marathons.  No Thanks!

I only have one more cardio session on Thursday morning and that will be it.

The other big change for me is staying at my low-carb amount for longer than I’m used to.  I used to switch off (kind of like carb cycling) with high carb and low carb days.  Well, today marks day number 4 of low carb.  Let me tell ya, I’m not used to this.  I was very foggy on Monday morning after my workout and I was kind of out of it again this morning with my client.  But, it went away after awhile and although I like telling people “Oh yeah, it’s my lack of carbs, that’s why I forgot (insert ditzy mistake here).”  It makes for a really good excuse but I can’t help but wonder that it’s just because I’m having more than my usual blonde moments. 🙂

Tomorrow I can only drink water…no more crystal light crap or my energy drinks (yes, I became addicted to some of them i’m ashamed to say).  But I can do this…I survived most of my adult life without them, I can certainly handle a few more days of not having them.

Then Friday…..The FUN begins.  I get to carbo load.  And omg I’m SOOOO looking forward to that.

Prepare for a slew of Instagram pics of all my carbo loaded meals.  Nom Nom Nom!!

Possibly one more update before the show.

In the meantime, here are some shots from the posing seminar I attended two weeks ago with some fantastic ladies who I may be competing with.

Top is a little low...oops.
Top is a little low…oops.

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I say “with” and not “against.”  I feel a sense of camaraderie with my fellow figure gals.  Especially the ones who are like me, having never done this before.  Cannot wait to hang backstage and get to know them better.

Off to bed…One more update coming your way Thursday…maybe a quick one on Friday.

-Michelle

 

 

 

Quick Update

I’m 14…er…13 days…well, actually, make that 12 days out if you don’t count today since it’s almost over…Yikes!!!

Things that are done:

  • Registered for the show
  • Posing seminar/dress rehearsal
  • Suit ordered and fits perfectly
  • Tanning booked
  • Photo shoot booked
  • Make up person booked
  • Tickets for family purchased

Things still to do:

  • Get the hair done/scheduled for the morning of the show
  • Get some cheap bling (I think I see a trip to Claire’s in my future)
  • Schedule mani/pedi

As for the diet, Coach Ben says I’m in the best position possible considering he’s adding food to my plan.  YAY for more carbs!

Here are some pics I took last night; I still have to work on the posing and I’m sure it will not be 100% by the time I hit the stage but I’m okay with that.

14 days out!
14 days out!

Now I must go to bed because I got up way early this morning and if I stay up any longer I will be tempted to raid the cupboards.  And I can only eat so much Jell-O (gelatin) in one sitting…I think my new record is 4 cups in one day.  Yeah I don’t think any human being should eat that much.  It’s just plain wrong. 🙂

Good night!  Next update from me will be just 6 days out.  Unbelievable!