See Jane Struggle

Case Study #1:  Jane Doe

Status: Married

Children: 1

Average Hours spent at Work: 12hours, 6 days a week

Average meal: On the go; rarely homemade; quick and convenient; poor quality

Average time spent working out: 0

Spare time spent: sleeping, hanging out with child and husband

Jane has come to me for help because she desires to get fit and healthy but literally has no idea how to make it work into her schedule.

It’s important to mention that SHE seeks the help and not the other way around. Why? Because whenever getting healthy is forced upon someone, either by a family member or their doctor, I find it rarely works. You need to find your “want to.” Let’s assume Jane has found her “want to” and see how I would go about helping her.

Jane has 1 day out of the week that she is off work. She has literally 2 hours free that day to make time for just herself.

We all know that baby steps are the way to go with any goal. We start super small with Jane.

Suggestions – In order of Priority:

1. FOOD.

Take the 2 hours to prepare meals for the week. Why? Because, technically, you don’t need exercise to be healthy. Nutrition is probably 80% of any physique goal (I’m guessing based on my own experience and my clients and discussions with RD’s and Nutritionists).  So that makes DIET or as I like to call it MEAL PLANNING Jane’s top priority. The meals will be as natural and whole as could be. This means limited processed foods like no Hamburger Helper, no Mac and Cheese, no Granola bars thrown into a brown bag and calling it lunch. Nope. This won’t be anything fancy, but they will not be sugar, fat loaded meals either. High in protein, a vegetable with each meal, and good carbs.

  • What kinds of carbs will Jane have?

Rice (could be instant), oats (could be old fashioned heated up in the microwave) and sweet potatoes (they make those microwaveable too, no excuses!). What about breads and pastas? Well, bread alone has like 20 ingredients. And it’s just bread! How about filling up on better foods instead of boring old bread? And if Jane was a sandwich lover, she could look for Ezekial Bread or Wraps to cut back on the carbs. What about bagels? I can’t remember the last time I had a bagel. All I know is when I would eat them (at my office job, of course) I felt like I was biting into a loaf of bread and I immediately felt like I should go run a marathon to burn it off. Gross. Sorry bagel lovers but these things are almost as bad as donuts. It’s just too much volume and not enough nutrients!  Pasta is fine but can you measure out half a cup cooked? Because that’s the portion you can have. And she will be TRYING to measure out her portions. Small changes go a long way when you’re just starting out like Jane.

  • What about protein?

The proteins have to be foods she will actually eat. Let’s assume Jane isn’t too picky. The crock pot will be her new best friend. Put a bunch of stuff in a pot, set it, and leave it. That’s easy. Take some chicken breasts, put a little marinade on them, broil them in bulk. That takes 20 minutes. How about ground turkey? Brown it in a skillet, add some spices, done in about 15 minutes. Beef isn’t bad for us so stop spreading that rumor. Eggs are good for us too. Paranoid? Get some egg whites. Jane isn’t vegan but she can mix it up by having protein shakes for a snack or beans in place of an animal once in a while.

  • How about veggies?

Steam them. Takes about 15 minutes. Don’t have a steamer? Put them in the microwave with a little bit of water. Takes…ummm 10 minutes? I don’t know, I have a steamer. Invest in a steamer Jane! And they make frozen veggies steam-able in the microwave nowadays. How about raw veggies? Eat them. Get some dip. Don’t worry about the calories in the dip. Just eat them. Got a blender? Blend them. Put some protein powder in there, voila! Instant breakfast in about 60 seconds.

  • Don’t forget the fats!

Jane is going to prepare snacks for herself so she avoids the vending machine or gets tempted to go out to lunch with her co-workers where they like to have liquid lunches and cheesecake for dessert. She’ll pack up trail mixes herself with items like almonds, cashews, raisins, sunflower seeds, dried fruit. She’ll cook her veggies with coconut oil or olive oil. But she won’t freak out if all she has access to is PAM cooking spray. Again, small changes.

2. FITNESS.

Once she has established a routine where she takes those 2 hours on her one day off to prep her meals and make that her priority for at least a month (yes, a month if not longer), then I would suggest to Jane to start working out. Maybe not with me since she doesn’t seem to have the time to travel to the studio and back home/work. She would have to find ways to increase her activity on her own or with her son.

Is her son watching TV? Great. Pop in a workout DVD and make him do it too (he’s 8 years old so he’s mobile). But let’s say he’s way younger and just runs around the house like I hear 2 and 3 year-olds do all the time. Let’s say she has more than one child! What then? If they’re in diapers that means they take naps. If they take naps that means Jane can do something for 10 minutes, even if it’s just walking up and down the stairs until they wake up screaming (I hear this is what little kids do). If they are terrors, well…Jane calls a babysitter so she can get something done. Prioritize. This is important to Jane so she’s going to do whatever she can to keep going.

No workout DVD nearby? Jane makes up her own workout with her kid: She has a push up contest with him. She teaches  him how to squat (he’ll probably be able to get lower than her because kids have super human flexibility), jumping jacks, dance around the room. She asks him to show her what he did in gym class. She plays tag with him for 5 minutes. It really doesn’t matter. Jane is on her feet and that’s better than sitting at a desk like she just did for 12 hours.

3. FOCUS.

After Jane has increased her activity level, she is noticing a decrease in her stress level. She’s sleeping a little bit better, and she has more energy because she’s eating good food that’s helping her burn more fat. She’s lost a few pounds but nothing drastic. She wants to kick it up a notch. She still doesn’t have more time, still just 2 hours. But she has made small changes. She tries to get up 20 minutes earlier than normal to make herself a good breakfast. (This took her a long time to make a habit.)

She also spends this time alone before the kid gets up so she can focus. She has written down her goals and reads them in the morning, making a plan for how she’s going to accomplish them. It’s one thing to think them, it’s another thing to write them down and implement the changes. She writes down 3 things she wants to accomplish that day, none of which have anything to do with her job. Some days the list looks like this:

1. Drink 8 glasses of water

2. Walk 5,000 steps today

3. Make grocery list

Other days it looks like this:

1. Go for a walk during lunch break  Take a lunch break!!!

2. Skip Starbucks today; it’s not worth it!

3. Get in 20 walking lunges around the house while dinner is cooking

And some days it looks like this:

1. Throw out rotting lettuce in fridge!

2. Go to bed by 10pm tonight

3. Post fitness and health goals on Facebook today so I’ll be held accountable

When Jane is ready, maybe she comes to me one day a week for an hour to learn how to lift some weights. Or maybe I recommend some online training for her since time is limited for her. Or maybe she gets some free weights for her birthday from her family or trains for a 5K by running around her block when she is able.

She’ll do well. It might take longer than someone else. Maybe she’s only prepping her meals when she can but she tries. Maybe she goes through the drive-thru once a week but she’s making an effort. Maybe she ordered pizza for her and her family last night but her lunch is already packed up for the rest of the week.

She’s trying.

She’ll get there.

There’s hope for Jane.

 

5 Bad Diet Habits to Stop Today

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This blog post originally appeared on Muscle is the New Sexy.

If you’ve been working out and lifting weights consistently but haven’t seen the scale or measurements budge lately, then it’s time to take a look at your diet plan.  As the common saying goes, “You can’t out-exercise a poor diet.”  As tempting as it is to say, “I’ll burn it off tomorrow” after we indulge in some cheesecake or donuts, it’s just not realistic to think one workout will help.  Take a look at these 5 Bad Habits and ask yourself if you’re guilty of one or more of them.  It could be the key to assisting you with your weight loss goals.

Eating at your Desk

I list this first because it’s probably one of the more unappealing and just plain gross habits we’ve become used to as of late.  In typical American fashion, we’re always in a hurry and no one seems to have time to sit down during the day and eat their meals.  This is why the grocery store aisles are loaded with quick and convenient “meals.”  But even if you have the best intentions and pack your meals everyday, there is still the problem of WHERE to eat your meal.  If you’re in a rush, your desk becomes the table.  With as many germs that are typically on a keyboard and office desk, this is not ideal to enjoy your lunch.  At the very least, choose a place to eat that is communal and intended to be eaten in, such as a cafeteria or break room.  Everyone is busy, and your job is important, but your health is much more important.  And getting crumbs in between the space bar is not attractive.

Scarfing Down your Food too Quickly

No one seems to enjoy their food anymore.  Not every meal needs to be an earth shattering experience.  But if you go to the trouble of cooking, or at least purchasing your food, why eat it like it’s going to be your last meal?  If you eat with intention and with purpose, you might find yourself eating slowly, thus, feeling fuller for a longer period of time.  Take time to taste every bite.  Some people even bless their food before they eat, ensuring they savor every morsel.  You know you’re going to eat again in a few hours.  There’s no need to rush!  Take frequent sips of water in between bites as well.  If you’re hanging with others, chat with them while you eat.  You should be too busy talking to eat so fast.

Skipping your Meals

There is still the misconception among dieters that in order to lose weight, you must skip some meals.  This is counterproductive.  Why?  Because if you start reducing your caloric intake so drastically, you’re just going to become even hungrier and most likely start gaining weight because you might double the size of your next meal.  If you are dieting, cutting back on the portion size is a better strategy than to skip a meal entirely.  The food you eat should be whole and natural as much as possible, not invisible.  An empty plate does not equal a lower number on the scale.

Drinking your Calories

Soda, pop, beer, wine, mixed drinks, juices.  All of these beverages would be considered poor options to hydrate you.  The best choice, of course, is water.  Even if you have a “stellar” diet, and you celebrate a few days a week with just a few drinks, you could be doing yourself a disservice.  For example, one Cosmopolitan has 145 calories in it, a Whiskey sour has 160 and a regular Beer has approximately 150.  Those calories really add up over time.  Reduce and cut back on these, and you might see a shift in your energy levels, better endurance in your workouts, and a change in the scale.   You should see an even bigger change when you increase your water throughout the day.  A good goal? Aim for half your bodyweight in ounces per day.

Opting for TV Dinners instead of Cooking

Boy Scouts aren’t the only ones who should always be prepared.  Adults need to have a plan.  It all starts with cooking.  Planning and cooking your  food might seem like a time consuming chore, but it really is the best way to ensure success with your health.  Maybe you know those tv dinners aren’t very good for you but you don’t know what else to eat.  And if you think those processed meals are “decent” for you, read the ingredient list.  There are usually more than 30 ingredients listed which is always a bad sign.  Learning to cook is worth it!  Take some cooking classes or have someone you know share some tips with you.  And cookbooks are cheap. I found one called “How to Cook” for $5. It really isn’t that difficult to bake some lean proteins and vegetables, cook up some hard boiled eggs, and heat up some leftovers for lunch.  You can even pick one day during the week to get all your cooking done so you’re prepared and ready to get on track with zero excuses.

If you’re guilty of one or more of these bad habits, make the decision today to stop and create better, healthier habits.  Pick one good habit to start and stick with it!   It might take weeks or even months to create the better habit, but it will be completely worth it and your body will thank you.

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!

 

 

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

 

 

 

More than Before

May 26th 2012
May 26th 2012

I’ve posted a “Before”  picture on here previously but this picture above is really one that needs to be discussed.

It’s been a little over a year since this picture was taken.  In case it’s not obvious, I was a bridesmaid in my best friends wedding.  (I cropped her out for her privacy, but trust me when I say she was the most gorgeous bride….like, ever).

It’s so strange to look at this picture, NOW.

I don’t recognize myself.

But I don’t get sad as I look at this picture.  There’s no shame.  There’s no embarrassment.  Life was actually pretty good.

It’s just strange because I don’t want to forget how I felt when this picture was taken.  I want to remember that I did not look BAD.  This might be my BEFORE, but it could easily become my AFTER when this competition is over.

I’ll be honest, I hope it’s not.  I love the way I look now, but I was content looking the way I look in that picture.  I was satisfied.  I ate what I wanted when I wanted.  There was freedom to do that back then.

I celebrated birthdays with cake and ice cream and maybe some drinks.  I ate burgers and fries once in awhile.  I had pizza, I loved string cheese like it was going out of style.

I ate Peanut butter and Jelly for weeks at a time when I was feeling lazy.  I had salads with dressing that wasn’t measured out.  I went to baseball games and had hot dogs.

I went to the movies and had popcorn with butter and Buncha Crunch, my most favorite theater snack.

Yeah, I had veggies but only occasionally.

Yeah, I drank water, but only when I worked out.

Yeah I worked out, but only cardio and just SOME weight training for fear of breaking my foot again.

I was coasting….maintaining….perfectly content to just keep living my life that way.

But there was an obvious downside to this freedom:

I had zero self control.  There was no need to analyze every single piece of food that entered my mouth.  Who was keeping track?  Certainly not I.

I didn’t have the willpower to NOT eat everything that was put in front of me.  Any why shouldn’t I? There were no pics to send to any coach.

I hardly cooked my own food.  There was no reason to fuel myself properly for the workouts I wasn’t doing.

I never got enough sleep.  There were no early morning lifting sessions to be rested for.

I wasn’t doing any heavy weight training.  There was no motivation to get in shape.

Was it damaging me?  Maybe not.  Was it healthy?  Eh, not really.  Am I better off now than I was BEFORE?  Absolutely.

Although this experience is far from over, the physical changes are already obvious and that’s all great.

It’s the mental and behavioral changes that should matter most.

Here’s to 11 and a half weeks until my AFTER.

-Michelle