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

eatingatdesk

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.

Hunger Pains: Experiences in Fasting

empty-plate-framed

“That burning in your gut, that rolling fire in your belly, demanding that you feed it more food, signals game time for fasting as a means of grace. Only as we voluntarily embrace the pain of an empty stomach do we see how much we’ve allowed our belly to be our god. – John Piper, Hunger For God

“Aren’t you eating?”

I heard this question a few times this past weekend. And it brought a little smile to my face as I responded to each person who asked.

“No, not today. I’m actually I’m fasting today.”

The reactions were always interesting and overall positive.

“Oh you’re so holy, that’s wonderful!”

“What a great thing to do. I should probably be the one doing that.”

“A horrible decision! (said jokingly) You’re missing out on some delicious food.”

The next obvious question was, “Why?”

I’m trying to fast once a week. This weekend was probably the easiest time to fast because here I am, at church, with a bunch of other women giving awesome witness stories. The perfect scenario.

It should be noted that I attended a Women’s Renewal at my church this weekend. (amazing experience!)

The food did look very tasty and I know I missed out on some great desserts but, to be honest, I wanted to remember what it felt like to be hungry.

Not starving, just hungry.

And I wanted to remember the feeling I had as I told myself, “Not yet. Soon..but not yet.”

I had experienced this during the competition training…and I kinda missed it.

Since I’ve decided I wanted to lose just a few lbs before the new year, I had a hard time getting a grasp on dieting again. Being in a deficit with my caloric intake has been more difficult than it really should be. And I know it’s because of me.

So I finally became fed up with seeing the scale stay the same that I asked myself what steps can I take to get back into a deficit and not go nuts trying to satisfy my hunger (especially at night).

The answer I heard (call it a higher power, call it my subconscious, whatever, I believe it was the spirit in me) saying “Experience hunger.”

The only time I have felt that hunger, that stomach growling hunger, was back when I dieted for the competition.

I decided fasting was the best route to take.

I did it last Friday for half the day which was big for me. But it didn’t quite work.Just wasn’t long enough to make an impact, spiritually and physically.

I needed a longer time-frame. So I thought, “I’ll be at church for 12 hours.. That’s perfect!”

And it worked like a charm.

Getting back to those ladies who asked me why…

Here are some answers that I gave…and other answers I wish I had given. All are awesome reasons for anyone to abstain from one of their favorite things (could be food, alcohol. a destructive behavior, television, computer time, social media, etc). 

Given that this is a fitness blog, some of my fellow female gym-rats and dieters might get some use out of these:

I fasted because…there are plenty of people out there who have nothing to eat. I have more than most people. I always know I have another meal coming to me.

I fasted because…I offered it up as a sacrifice to all those people who would give anything to taste actual food right now. The ones on feeding tubes…the ones in nursing homes who can’t pick up a fork because they can’t remember how. The ones who have to be FED by someone they probably don’t even recognize.

I fasted because…I was at church. I was surrounded a group of amazing women who were amazed by my discipline. I did it for them. That maybe someday they’ll fast too. And continue the cycle of sacrifice.

I fasted because…I need to remember there is more to life than the temporary satisfaction of chocolate or peanut butter. Those things will be there tomorrow. Giving them up for one day will not hurt me.

I fasted because…A small voice inside me told me I needed to remember how to avoid the temptation of cheating. I had spent most, if not all, of my building/muscle-gaining phase cheating on my diet. I had to remember what it was like to stick to a plan.

I fasted because…I knew once it was over, I didn’t need to eat. But the next day, I enjoyed my food much more thoroughly than I have recently. I savored. Every. Bite.

I fasted because…I needed to remember patience. I had forgotten what patience was for so long. I needed to remember it. I need patience in between all of my meals. I need patience with my clients. I need patience with my family. I need it for every darn day.

Remember what it’s like to be hungry. Remember what it’s like to have no idea where you’re next meal is coming from. Remember what it’s like to be so lucky to have a fridge full of food. To have access to a grocery store where you can buy anything imaginable. Remember to be grateful for that hunger in your stomach.

Hear that growling in your stomach? 

Tell it to wait.

You will eat again.

 

 

 

 

Let’s Start Back at The Beginning

It’s become apparent that I don’t really have “My Story” documented very well on here.  I have bits and pieces of what I do for a living, where I live and who the important people are in my life but I feel like it’s just a snapshot and not the complete picture.  And in light of recent emails and messages I’ve been getting, I thought it was a good idea to share a little bit about me and how I came to this point in my life. Perhaps it will help inspire you or someone you know. But in case I don’t make this clear, this is MY story.  How you reach YOUR goal might be a completely different route; this is the one I chose to take.

Growing up I was never chubby, not fat, not the least bit overweight.  I was definitely not a bean pole but I never fluctuated in my weight.  In fact I REMEMBER the moment I got on the scale and saw I was 100lbs.  I was actually thrilled!  I felt like I had been always dubbed “small” for so long, that maybe once I hit that 100lb mark, that must mean I’m growing up and people would take me seriously.  Silly thought but I remember that very vividly.

High school was a breeze weight-wise.  Then college hit.  I gained the freshman 15 but it was more like 25-30.  One large reason was that I was on steroid medication for my ulcerative colitis.  And that was a huge reason for the sudden weight gain.  But what’s funny is I actually just fit into my clothes so I never noticed the weight come on until people who hadn’t seen me in awhile commented.  I always bought clothes too big anyways including jeans.  I remember fitting into a size 10 jeans and thinking nothing of it.  But looking back at the few pictures I have of myself at that time, I remember I was not too happy with this sudden change in my physique.  I got the standard side effects that you get when you’re on steroids – puffy face, skin rashes, loss of appetite (which makes the weight gain that much WORSE), loss of hair.  Thank goodnesss I was blessed with the thickest hair ever, that last one was almost a blessing.

 I don’t think it helped that I was eating THESE 

Deliciously Evil.
Deliciously Evil.

for breakfast almost every morning. I can still myself walking down the hall in the dorm to where the microwave was and making them all warm for my “breakfast.”  Lunch was always in on campus at the hall (conveniently I lived in the dorm where the main cafeteria was) so it was always just a walk down the stairs to get a bowl of pineapple chunks (probably a half a pound NO JOKE), and either pizza or chicken parm or veal parm.  No salad…never.  Dinner was in the cafeteria again and more of the same as lunch.  I wasn’t much for variety.  I recall ordering pizza to the dorm very frequently, probably a copule times a month at the very least.  I also remember eating lots of fast food at the Food Court on campus. 

By the end of freshman year I was taken off the steroids and I know by the time I went back to college for my second year, the weight gain was gone.  But my dietary habits stayed the same. 

Then, enter my third year of college.  Summer.  Steroid time AGAIN.  This time was much worse.  Depression set in, I gained a good 15lbs again.  I never stepped on a scale so I have no idea how much I actually weighed but it was probably around 140-145.  At 5 foot 3, this doesn’t go over too well.

I spent some time in our school gym but I stuck to the stair master and walked the track at night.  This was probably the most activity I got all 4 years of college but I DO think this helped me from getting completely depressed about the weight gain.  It was at least something and I don’t think I was doing it to “lose weight.”  I liked to just walk the track just to get away from the dorm room and get outside.  I don’t ever remember thinking “I should workout to lose weight.”  I think I was perhaps in a little bit of denial of exactly how big I had gotten.

In addition to gaining weight again, I was still suffering from bad ulcerative colitis flare ups.  So the meds weren’t even working!  I remember crying and calling my Mom to say I needed to come home for the summer instead of taking classes.  I was just too sick. 

I dropped out of the summer classes, which made me feel like a complete failure and spent the rest of the summer at home.  I stopped taking the steroids without weening myself off of them like I was supposed to and I believe I must have went on a different combo of meds to combat my flare ups.  The weight came off again but leaving behind some stretch marks almost as a way for me to always remember this part of my life.    

The final year of school was the most fun I remember.  I was 21 finally and maybe spent a few nights partying.  I was not the party type at all so on the random occasions I did drink, I was usually passed out after a couple hours.  🙂 Such a lightweight. 

Fast forward a few years later and I decide to move to Chicago to pursue a career in video production.  Enter “Party Like You’re Still in College Atmosphere.”  I found a great roommate and place to live in just blocks from Wrigley Field.  A street lined with bars?  A city lined with bars? It’s pretty much the best place to live out your twenties.  And I definitely had my fair share of fun at that time.  

Shortly after moving there, I joined Bally’s, mainly as just a place for me to go to hang out since I hadn’t quite made a bunch of friends yet.  And again, my thought process was not “I should lose some weight.”  I hadn’t stepped on a scale in years and never thought twice about changing my diet habits at that point. 

After about 4 months of doing the typical Cardio Queen Routine of elliptical, abductor/adductor and ab machines, I was approached by a Personal Trainer named Greg who asked me if I wanted a REAL workout.  I kept “ellipticalling” and ignored him, turning up the KORN I had on my portable CD player (yes it was THAT long ago) and rebuffed his questions.   Finally, because I guess I’m a nice person, I gave him a shot.

After one brutal workout I wasn’t exactly hooked.  Even after the workout was over and he took me in his office, I was fully prepared to keep saying “No, I can’t afford you.” 

So he started with the questions:  What are your goals?

Me:  Maintain.

Him: Maintain? You like where you’re at now?

Me: Yep.  Maintain.

Him:  Okay so as far as your weight is concerned you’re happy with it?

Me: Yeah I mean, I haven’t weighed myself in ages but yeah.

Him:  Oh okay, how much do you think you weigh?

Me: Oh I don’t know, 110-115.

Him: Okay let’s just get you on the scale to see where you’re at.

He gets me on the scale and his little finger moves over and over and keeps moving and finally settles on 143lbs.

I had NEVER ever seen that number in my entire life.  I never weighed myself in college or after that, I didn’t even own a scale.

I was in shock.

I can still see the outfit I was wearing.  I actually still have it.  It was a blue tank top with a built in sports bra and black pants.  I looked down after seeing 143lbs and I remember VIVIDLY seeing my belly starting to sneak out of the bottom of the shirt.

Mortified.  I couldn’t believe I had let myself GO like this.  And that I hadn’t even noticed was a worse feeling. 

Greg didn’t have to do much negotiation after that.  I signed up for sixteen 45 minute sessions. He introduced me to the machines and free weights I needed so badly to transform my physique.  We did barbell squats, lat pulldowns, REAL push ups, planks, all the fun stuff.  Although at the time I doubt I thought of it as fun.

We met two times a week and everytime we met he introduced new weight machines and new moves and got me to STOP the elliptical nonsense. 

The weight training was great but I still needed to do cardio, just different than the repeated cycle I was on.  So he suggested I either swim or run.  I laughed in his face and said “Oh I can’t swim, I never learned.”  So he said “Well you’re gonna run then.”

Again, I laughed and said “Oh I can’t run.” 

Him: Well you’re going to have to do one of them for at least 20 minutes a few times a week. Which is it going to be?

So I reluctantly chose running. 

The first time he got me on the treadmill for my first “run” I went at 4.0mph for 9 minutes.  9 minutes.  That’s all I could do.  I was sweating and felt like I was hyperventilating and begging him “Can I please stop now?”

Him:  “Okay, you went 9 minutes. That’s good for today.  Tomorrow you’ll do 10 minutes.  Just keep adding minutes.”

I got all the way up to about 20 maybe 30 minutes after a few weeks.  I think I got my speed up to around 4.5mph…maybe 5, I don’t recall exactly.

But it didn’t matter because I was hooked.  I loved running.  I had NEVER been able to run as a kid. When we had gym class and it was time to “run around the track” I recall the burning in my lungs as I heaved and almost DIED trying to run a mile.  I’m sure I never made it around the whole track without stopping.  And here I was, running (okay jogging) on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a time.  A huge accomplishment!

Before all this occurred though, I had to get my nutrition in check.  In fact, during my warm-up during our first session, Greg asked me what my typical food intake looked like each day.

I remember being embarrassed at the answer I had for him:

Me:  “Well, for breakfast I usually have toaster pastries or maybe just toast or a granola bar.  For lunch I either get Subway or whatever people at work order but that get’s expensive so I usually have peanut butter and jelly on white bread.  And for dinner I’ll have MrsTs-Pierogies or corndogonastick or maybe pizza” 

Yes, that’s right, I ate processed foods like it was my job.  I’m pretty embarrassed I ever ingested anything with the words “on a stick” in the description that wasn’t sold at a carnival. (Because if it’s at a carnival it’s socially acceptable?)

Then there was the booze.  I wasn’t a beer drinker – I was a hard liquor mixed drinks drinker, which is almost worse.  Greg informed me that drinking 3 nights a week was not helping that bulge in my belly.  I like to blame most of my drinking on  the Cubs.  I mean, had they not made that run for the playoffs I wouldn’t have celebrated so much.  So see?  It was their fault.

YEAAAHHH!!!! Drink when they win!! Drink when they lose!!!!
YEAAAHHH!!!! Drink when they win!! Drink when they lose!!!!

 

After all the processed food, sugary drinks, and high carb meals, it was no wonder I had crept up in weight!  And doing hours of endless cardio on the elliptical everyday wouldn’t do anything to help the cause.

Greg had me start off with small changes: He gave me a meal plan but I mainly used it for just ideas, not a strict adherence.  I called my Mom and told her I had invested in a PT and that he suggested I start cooking for myself.  She told my grandma who then gave me The Joy of Cooking cookbook.  The first recipe I made was rosemary chicken.  It turned out pretty well from what I recall.

I tried other “fancier” dishes and usually burned them or misjudged the amount of ingredients.  So after a lot of trial and error, I resorted to making my meals as simply as I could – Baked chicken breast, grilled burger patties on my George foreman grill, deli turkey meat on whole wheat bread.  Out went the white bread, the regular peanut butter and the fried food and booze.  In came whole foods, natural pb, grilled chicken, even some, GASP! Veggies!!

I bought frozen veggies and microwaved them like Broccoli and Cheese or Brussel Sprouts in Garlic Butter Sauce, etc.  I was on a budget and purchasing fresh veggies didn’t seem to be something I could afford at the time.  Plus I was just lazy.

I just made these small changes and noticed a BIG difference, especially in how my clothes fit.

About six months after I had started training I was down to about 118lbs.  I had kept going to the gym long after my 16 sessions were over with Greg.  I took what he did with me and kept it up as best as I could.  

I also got into running.  Long distance running to be exact.  A year after I signed up with Greg I decided to sign up for my first race – a HALF MARATHON.  Not the smartest decision I made but I had a goal and wanted to reach it.  Looking back it was pretty careless of me, but I did finish it in 2 hours and 14 minutes.  (No one forgets their first race time). 🙂

I got hooked on long distance running and signed up for the Chicago Marathon.  This was 2007.  This was also the first time in history a marathon was canceled in the middle of the race due to heat.  

It was just a TAD hot.
It was just a TAD hot.

 Notice the people WALKING and this was only mile 7 I believe.  So around mile 16, I was told to stop running.  One man died as a result of the heat and race coordinators ran out of water rather quickly.  In hindsight, it was the right decision.  But I couldn’t help but feel like it was the most disappointing day in my life up until that point.  Training for 6 months only to be told you couldn’t finish a race is not a feeling I would wish upon anyone.

Luckily though, I redeemed myself and ran one more half and a complete full marathon in Cleveland a few years later. 

Team in Training, holla!!
Team in Training, holla!!

Fast forward, well actually REWIND, to this past year.

With my running days behind me, I was again asked the question by one of my current managers at one of my jobs:  “What are your goals?” 

My answer was the same: Maintain.

But after much more prodding, I began to ask myself – wait a minute, why don’t I have any goals?  My first thought was “Well, I can’t run anymore due to too many stress fractures and

A blow dryer cord was the culprit.  No seriously it was.
A blow dryer cord was the culprit. No seriously it was.

THIS one big break.  Not only that, I kind of lost the desire to run anymore.  So racing is out.”

Well, what’s the next step?  Changing my physique?  Eh, I guess.  I had become quite complacent where I was at the moment.  Guess what my weight was?  140lbs.  Again. 

Granted it wasn’t the same 140lbs that it was 10 years prior but I recognized that I could definitely improve.  I had been on crutches due to my broken foot and became a little depressed that I couldn’t do anything crazy for fear of injuring my foot again so I wasn’t working out very often.

After a few days, maybe a week at the most, of doing some research into bodybuilding, I decided competing was the next logical goal for myself.  I had some friends who had done it and I was always intrigued by it not to mention completely motivated by their progress, that I was hopeful  maybe I could do that too.  Why not? 

Another reason I wanted to train for a competition was that I was tired of looking the same.  I had been about the same weight and had the same problem areas for a couple years now.  I was average.  And there’s nothing wrong with being average.

But when you’re average looking you tend to feel average in your mind too.  Where’s the excitement? Where’s the desire to transform?  I had that desire in me, it just took some prodding to get it out.

And that’s where I am today.  Still reaching, still shooting for that goal of getting on stage and presenting my best physique.  I will not be the best that day.  But that’s okay! I’m doing this for myself and no one else.

I think that should be everyone’s thought process:  Are you trying so desperately to lose weight for you? Or are you doing it for someone else?  Are you comfortable where you’re at right now physically?  If the answer is yes, by all means, don’t try and do something extreme because “society” states you need to look a certain way.  I was comfortable at 130-135lbs for a very long time.  And that’s okay. And I might get back up to that weight someday.  And that’s okay too.

Everyone has a story.  I wanted to share mine today so my readers could get a sense of how I came to this part of my life.  I’m almost 35, I’ve been a Personal Trainer for 6 years now (due in large part to Greg helping me out) and I’m still learning about nutrition and exercise and metabolic damage and all there is to know about how people lose weight.  One thing I DO know is that everyone’s story is different.  What worked for me may not work for you.  But maybe you take a few of the things I mentioned here and apply it to your own life and maybe you see some changes.  If you do, please let me know! 

I love knowing that I inspired even the smallest change in someone who reads this blog.

It keeps ME going.

Breaking through the plateau

Of course this was going to happen…Of course.  It was inevitable after losing so much weight that I would hit a standstill.  The weight loss plateau has reared it’s ugly head in my direction.

Stuck at 127 with absolutely not a budge in two weeks.

Now I know it’s the holidays.  And most people who are trying to lose weight would be happy to see themselves maintaining during such a difficult time of the year.  I shouldn’t complain.   But it’s still a disappointing.

I am becoming one of my own clients.  I’m doing all the wrong things like weighing myself after dinner (WHAT!? Duh!), stressing out about a measly little pound, freaking out and envisioning the scale frozen on 127 forever.

This won’t happen.  I will start to lose again but the first step is to figure out what the hell I’m doing wrong.

A few possibilities:

1.  I’m doing too much:  I have only allowed myself 1 day off since starting this journey.  That’s more then 3 months of non-stop exercising.  Not good.  That could lead to overtraining which can lead to all sorts of metabolic issues if I don’t address it.

2. I’m not doing enough:  Even with all this working out, it’s possible I’m not doing enough of the QUALITY workouts.  Possibly  too much steady state and not enough High Intensity?  Too many full body workouts and not enough splits?

3.  I’m doing the same thing over and over:  Don’t we all know the definition of insanity?  Although my strength training program has been different each week, it has always been full body.  So it might be time to change it to split routines.  Also the diet has been the same for 3 weeks so it’s quite possibly my coach will change that up next week.

Those are the three main reasons why I we all hit a weight loss rut.   In keeping with my previous post about looking at the positives and staying optimistic, I’m going to attempt to have some fun while trying to figure out exactly what is holding me back.

In the meantime, I’m still planning my regular meal plan for this week despite celebrating Christmas (tomorrow actually), traveling on a plane Wednesday and Thursday and working a nice long day on Christmas Eve starting at 6am and ending after I get finished with Christmas Eve dinner.  I have my work cut out for me this week.

But in the end, now is not the time to worry or care about staying perfect; it’s time to enjoy spending time with loved ones and friends.  I will be enjoying the hell out of my food and hanging with my family.  And I will not give this plateau a second thought! I might even eat a piece of (gasp!) bread.  Yes real life starch! (what’s starch? It’s been so long since I’ve had any I forgot what the hell it is.)

Merry Christmas Happy Holidays and all that jazz everyone!

-Michelle

Random song on iTunes: The Killer by The Twilight Singers (quite possibly the best song ever…ever!)

Random Tweet courtesy of some random person: When someone walks into a school w/a rope w/a spear attached throwing it & screaming “Get over here!” then let’s discuss video games.