Too Confused To Choose – When Dieting Becomes a Heavy Burden

Happy July to all!  Thanks for all the positive feedback concerning my last post. Seems quite a few of you got some good information out of it, which is always nice to hear.

Since this month we celebrate our Independence in the States, I got to thinking about freedom and choices and how that relates to our health. That got me thinking, “What happens when we are bombarded by so many choices, that we actually become anxious and obsessed with eating and being healthy?” Technically, there is a medical term for the obsession of being healthy – Orthorexia. I don’t believe I know too many people who legitimately HAVE this condition, but I DO know there is plenty of misinformation out there to cause confusion and anxiety. So here’s some advice on how to lift that burden off your shoulders for good and just…live.

Let’s start with my favorite subject – FOOD.

What I typically hear from most people:

“What foods are good for me? I hear Paleo is the way to go, is that good? What about eggs? They’re “bad” for me, right? And how about vitamins, I hear thats a load of garbage, so I shouldn’t take those, right? And how often should I workout? And how much cardio is TOO much cardio and what if I overtrain? AHHHHH!!!”

Well, now you’ve completely turned yourself into a big ball of anxiety because you can’t figure out how to even get to Step #1.

Fact – We cannot survive without food. But we have the freedom to choose which foods to eat. And, better yet, we have the freedom to choose which ones we KNOW will literally weigh us down and pack on a few extra lbs, and those that will lift us up, make us feel better, make us lighter, and help sustain us.

The first step to freeing yourself from this way of thinking and obsessing? Trial and error. It’s more intuitive than anything.

The question becomes: “Who are you listening to?”

Are you listening to your friends or co-workers: “You probably shouldn’t be eating all of that. Aren’t you on a diet?”

Are you listening to some doctor on TV: “Take these Raspberry ketones, you’ll burn fat at lightning speed!”

Are you listening to people who enable you: “I can’t eat like you do…you eat some of the weirdest foods. You should live a little!! Here, have some cheesecake. Better yet, just give me the cheesecake, I’ll eat it for you.”

The first step is to listen to you. While we all have the ability to do our own research on what foods are the most nutritious or most healthy for us, it doesn’t take a Masters in Dietetics to tell us that slice of apple pie is probably not going to help you lose weight like that one apple will.  Somewhere along the way, we have become slightly obsessed with being super duper healthy and fit. And it got complicated. So if you”uncomplicate” things, that weight is slowly lifted off your shoulders over time.

(This is easier for people who do not have serious eating disorders/obesity/anorexia. That’s an entirely different issue that I’m not addressing here. This is advice for your average dieter.)

Let’s say you have an auto-immune disease or condition where you DO have to be constantly aware of what you eat. The person with the nut allergy is probably going to have an easier time listening to his/her own voice due to the fact that if they don’t, they could become seriously ill or die if they choose the wrong foods. I don’t have a food allergy but I do have an auto-immune disease (Ulcerative Colitis) which I have blogged about before.

I have had to decipher between the voices telling me that if I just did a Paleo diet, I could cure myself. I know they only have good intentions and the research could suggest that this is entirely possible. I gave in and tried to eat differently and avoid grains for awhile. I felt, for a while, that my freedom to eat the way I WANTED to, was taken away and now I had to adapt to this NEW way of eating.

But guess what? Nothing happened. My flare-up didn’t go away. And, even when it did go away with medication, and I ate grains/foods that supposedly would do me harm, I didn’t get sick. So, through trial and error, I came to the conclusion that I should have just listened to my own voice to start with. Something inside me told me that a simple diet wouldn’t cure something that I’ve had since I was 14 years old. It might work for SOME, but it didn’t for me. And that’s okay! I had the choice to try an alternative way of eating and I did.


What about fitness and getting in shape? How about that guilt trip we put ourselves through when we KNOW we have time to get to the gym and we SHOULD go but we just don’t WANT to?

How do you think advertising agencies stay in business? They put out those infomercials and billboards and commercials telling you, “You are not good enough, therefore, take this pill/drink this shake/wear this body wrap/buy this treadmill/join this gym and you will finally be good enough.” And the sad part is, many of us listen to those commercials and we believe those lies. This is how the confusion starts. And this is when people start to HATE their own bodies and HATE the process. No wonder they stay away from the gym!

Again, it comes down to who’s voice you’re listening to? If you have zero desire to get in shape, by all means, don’t waste my time or your time by coming to the gym and hogging a machine that I could be on. Seriously, don’t. (That’s my attempt at reverse psychology). I truly believe we all desire to be healthy. But the process of exercising CAN be burdensome.

I met someone recently who said he had a barrier preventing him from getting in shape. He stated he hated and dreaded exercise so much that he could NEVER love it. Therefore, he never did it. This was the wall he was trying to break down.

Well, Newsflash: Not a whole lot of people LOVE to exercise. Not a whole lot of people LOVE their job, but they go to get a paycheck and provide for their families. Not a lot of people LOVE to go to school but they go so they can learn and educate themselves so they can be a contributing member of society. You don’t HAVE to LOVE exercise to do it. But you should LOVE YOURSELF enough to do what is right for your health.

Ever heard that saying that goes something like: “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” How about we stop obsessing about how often we’re going to the gym and just decide to GO. And then when we get there, just doing one thing well. Do one thing. Wouldn’t that be better than going to the gym and doing NO THING?

Examples of just one thing:

1. Recumbent bike/stationary bike for 10 minutes.

2. 10 push ups/15 sit ups/ 20 squats

3. Walking on the treadmill for half a mile

4. Taking one group fitness class

Seriously, this is probably the most basic of basics. Anyone, doesn’t matter who you are or what level you are at, can do any of these “one things.” Imagine if you did all 4 of those things in one day. Well damn, now you just went did a pretty good workout! Give yourself a pat on the back! Why? Because it’s better than no thing.

You should see the look on someones face when I tell them how simple this is. It’s like they just discovered the meaning of life. They feel relief because they can finally let go of all that was holding them back. All those voices telling them, “No you aren’t working out hard enough if you don’t feel like puking at the end of your workout!” “No, you should’t eat that, EVER!” “No, you can’t do that!”

So go ahead and start simplifying your food choices. Start simplifying your workouts. Listen to yourself, tune out the “other” voices. Let go of all that garbage weighing you down. And do one thing well. Over time, you’ll be amazed at how light you start feeling as that burden of all that was once heavy starts to fall off your shoulders.

Becoming the Best Version Of Yourself

When I started out as Personal Trainer 7 years ago, I recall giving a few pieces of advice that seemed to resonate with people. One of these “declarations” has come full circle for me as it was repeated to me almost verbatim at a retreat recently.

I uttered one little sentence to a woman in the locker room 7 years ago as she confided in me that she was struggling with making healthy food decisions, giving in to temptation everywhere she went. She was ready to throw her hands up in surrender and say, “Forget this, it’s too hard!”

Without much hesitation on my part (which is rare since I never seem to know quite what to say to people right away, I usually need a few minutes), I said to her: “It’s really not as difficult as you think it is. We all THINK it’s hard but you’re MAKING it hard. It’s simply about being aware. Constantly conscious. You have to be constantly aware and conscious of every decision you make, and that includes every time you open your mouth to eat or drink.”

I remember this woman looking at me and saying something like, “Wow, you’re so right. I never thought of it that way. Constantly conscious. Yeah. Wow, I’m totally gonna use that. Thanks!”

Color me surprised, I just gave advice to someone that they’re going to USE?!

This came full circle recently. At a retreat, one of the participants mentioned a talk given by Matthew Kelly, a popular Catholic speaker and author. He’s all about becoming the best version of yourself. He believes that God wants us to be the best version of ourselves, that we are called to be more than mediocre. We are meant to live authentic, purpose driven lives and that means being aware of our daily habits – Are we choosing things that will help us become the best version of ourselves? Or are we just seeking temporary pleasure instead of sustainable happiness?

Matthew Kelly’s favorite analogies is the Gym/Diet analogy.

It goes something like this: Think about a time you’re scheduled to get to the gym. It’s your day to workout.

Now think about the effort that goes into it. You’ll have to get your workout clothes ready, you’ll have to get in your car, drive to the gym, change in the locker room and then you finally get on the floor and you have to navigate your way around the gym while trying to avoid eye contact with peering eyes from strangers, find a machine/weights that are available and a bench, or other equipment, get your workout in, work up a sweat,take a shower and then get some food afterwards and then head home or to work.

For most people this might not seem like a lot of effort. A First World Problem if there ever was one, right? But what if you REALLY want to watch something on TV that night? Or what if you celebrated a birthday last night and you still have leftover cake in the fridge? What if you’re hungover from the night before? What if you have some beer and Doritos nearby? How much do you feel like working out now? Probably not very motivated.

And here’s the question Kelly proposes: Which of these options is going to help you become the best version of yourself?  Hitting the gym or sitting at home eating crappy food?

I think we all know the answer to this question.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we were “constantly conscious” of this every time we went to reach for the Doritos instead of the gym bag?

I have told my clients to put something on their fridge/cupboards or even your screensaver/wallpaper on your phone (since we are one those constantly) which issues the same “challenge:” Is this food going to help me reach my goals or will it deter me and send me back to square one? If I eat this/drink this, will I feel temporary pleasure or will I feel sustained happiness?

It’s essentially asking the same thing as Kelly:

If we are aiming to become the best version of ourselves, what does that look like? What does that person look like? When you look in the mirror, do you want to see someone who has made poor choices with regards to his/her life? I assume no. We want to see someone who will not only be happy in their own skin, but they inspire others to become the best version of THEMselves as well due to their consistent habits of choosing happiness over temporary pleasure.

So this is my challenge to my readers, my clients, anyone who wants to become the best version of themselves: Start to become constantly conscious of your surroundings, of your actions, of your habits. Once you have this constant awareness, you are much less likely to make poor decisions. And this includes more than just food. This includes LIFE decisions.

You only have one body, one life. Take care of it. Treat it like the gift that it is.dynamic

  • In need of someone to help coach you to the best version of yourself? Matthew Kelly sends out Daily Food For Thought via email. You can subscribe to that here.
  • If you’d like more of a hands on approach with regards to your dietary and fitness habits, I can help. Here’s a link to my online coaching services. If you’d like to ask more questions about my services, reach out to me! I’m always easily accessible through email. FromFitoFigure@gmail.com

-Michelle

The Distorted Perception of Weight Loss

Let’s go back in time to July of 2013. This is what I looked like:

July 22 2013
July 22 2013

It was 9 weeks before the competition. So I was probably 112lbs.

But I recall a specific moment from this timeframe:

I recall telling my sister (and only my sister as I wouldn’t dare say it to clients or friends) the following statement:

“Everyone looks huge to me. Big. Everyone. The people I see on the tv. The models and celebrities in magazines and on the cover. Everyone on my Facebook feed. Everyone…looks…huge.”

It wasn’t so much that I felt and looked small – It was that everyone got fat. Everyone.

I remember looking at a swimsuit model and thinking, “Poor thing…she’s too big to be in that suit.”

I went to the grocery store and looked at people in line and thought, “Poor thing…she’s too big to be buying those chips and cookies.”

I went to the gym and thought, “Poor people walking the treadmill…they must be exhausted carrying all that weight.”

Just let that sink in for awhile. Me. A Personal Trainer. Thinking everyone I looked at was huge. Ginormous. BIG.

How is that normal? How is that acceptable to think that way? I was completely distorted. Why? Probably because every time I looked in the mirror, I was getting SMALLER. I was getting so lean, that it seemed like everyone else was gaining weight by comparison. AND because people kept telling me, “You’re so small! You look great! You’ve lost so much weight, oh my gosh, you look so small!”

Although people were trying to give me compliments, they were reinforcing my thought that, Yes, I am small. This is a good thing.

As I got bigger after the competition, that feeling and perception went away. And my perception returned to “normal.” THANK GOODNESS.

It was quite possibly one of the strangest and startling things that happened to me during that period of time.

Now, that I’m building again, I am well aware of potential setbacks and feelings having gone through this before. I’m feeling much more prepared and confident. I don’t think you can fully prepare yourself for what is reflected in the mirror staring back at you once you start to change your physique (on purpose or by accident). It’s startling to see yourself in a particular way (I’m so much bigger than I was! I’m so much smaller than I was! I’m way more muscular than I have ever been!) and hopefully it’s a positive experience.

But this is the part where I point out that double standard: Society says we can’t tell someone that they look too big or too fat or too muscular but we are completely allowed to tell someone they are too skinny or too lean or too small. As if telling someone they are TOO much of something based on their appearance is EVER a good thing. No. Not even when you’re complimenting them, it really isn’t.

Because although that person you’re trying to compliment might not be training for a competition, I’m trying to give you an idea of what goes through the mind of someone who is dieting or training or struggling with their journey since they, too, might have a body distortion issue.

Instead of attaching a size to a comment, can we change the dialogue to start saying things like:

“Hey there good lookin!”

“That dress you have on is a great color on you.”

“You’re looking well today.”

Is there a reason we have to tell someone how they look and give it a size?

“You look great, have you lost weight?” – What if someone just looks great because they’re in a good mood that day?

“You look great, have you been eating more? You were looking too small last time I saw you. Glad you put on some size.”  – Because your opinion matters, yes.

“You look great, what size are you now? A 3 or a 4? That’s awesome! How big were you? Like a 12?? Wow!” – So now that I’m smaller, am I a better person now? Wasn’t I okay at a size 12?

Let me give an example that just happened to me:

I was told I was looking “really small” by another female who really had no idea I’m trying to bulk up. I wasn’t insulted. She thought she was complimenting me! (It’s not very common for women to WANT to get bigger). I know this. But even though I know this, guess what I did about 20 minutes later?

I downed a bag of chocolate covered almonds because…ya know, “Gotta eat to grow, bro.”

I had the idea in my head that “I’m small. That’s not good. I need to get bigger, therefore, gotta eat more.”

It was actually kind of funny at the time, and I like to think I have a mostly POSITIVE body image, but what if I was a binge and purger? What if I had a really bad history of yo-yo dieting or poor self image? And what if she had said “You look kinda small” in a way that made me second guess her intentions?

“What did she mean by that? Did she mean I should be even smaller? Did she mean I’m not small enough? Does she think I’m TOO small?”

I should have said to my friend, “Hey thanks…Actually, it’s funny you should say that. I’m trying to put on muscle…So hopefully next time you see me, I’ll look bigger!”

Just be careful with the comments to someone who is struggling or trying to make changes to their physique.

Chances are, they have enough dialogue going on in their head. And what they see in the mirror might be in complete distortion to what you see when you look at them.

P.S. I have posted progress pics in the Progress Pic page but here they are to save you a click:

March 13th, 2015. 135lbs and feeling strong, but not too fluffy.
March 13th, 2015. 135lbs and feeling strong, but not too fluffy.

The caption from my Instagram page: I’m Huge! 🙂 5 Months to go until my next figure competition. Feeling good at 135lbs.

And I’m proud to say the comments were all positive reinforcement. 🙂

 

 

The Great Bread Debate

Let’s discuss every dieters favorite topic: BREAD.  Yummy carb-filled delcious bread.

Okay yeah I can’t fake it. I’m not a big fan of bread. And this is coming from someone who grew up eating Peanut Butter and Jelly on white bread for like, 15 years.

I used to eat a ton of it when I trained for my half marathons and races years ago. But then I slowly just got sick of it. Pasta too. I know, I know, I’m Italian, I should LOVE pasta right? Maybe I just got sick and tired of all the carbs. Most of my carb sources these days are in the form of oats, rice cakes and low carb wraps.

So I got to wondering, “Are there others like me? Are there other non-bread lovers out there?” So I asked all my clients as well as anyone else who has kids (thinking maybe they eat bread because their kids probably do for sandwiches) if they eat bread. I also asked if they wanted to mention anything else about carbs and cutting back on the bread when dieting.

Here are the results of my informal survey:

  • Currently I buy Schwebel’s Sweet Harvest Wheat. It’s probably not any better than white, but I love soft wheat bread when I have my PB&J so that’s what I get. My daughters don’t care that it’s brown (like I did growing up).
    I buy it b/c it’s reasonably priced for how much bread we do eat.
  • I have 5 kinds of Ezekial Bread in the house, my kids love them!
  • My kids have sandwiches everyday and they eat regular white bread. I think people have to be smart when dieting. Most don’t know where to start or whatever. Oh…. I like bread too much. I like wine too much. I like food too much. Yeah, we know that, that’s why this country is obese. Nobody knows how much to eat. Once they learn the amount, then I would assume you start talkin about quality. Over time, I’ve learned to make different choices. Some do, some don’t.
  • My kids grew up eating Ezekiel bread or a similar style homemade bread their grandmother made. They thought regular grocery store bread was “weird” when they had it at their friends houses. I’m sure their friends thought our bread was weird. LOL I eat an Ezekiel English muffin almost every day.
  • I am a mom and I do eat breads, all kinds. When I first started eating better I kept my good “aka expensive foods” limited to just me. Then I realized why am I denying my son the right to have the good foods too. He eats pretty much whatever he’s told, however he would choose the good choices first in most cases anyhow.
  • I limit bread because it can be a trigger for me. For planned meals I’ll sub 2 corn tortillas on occasion to make tacos. I’ll sometimes have a toasted English Muffin for a Post Workout meal or when having a craving as I love the crunch/texture. My family eats wheat/sourdough bread on occasion but basic flour or whole wheat tortillas are the norm for making wraps.
  • I only buy Ezekiel bread. I myself rarely eat it but my daughter and husband eat it 5 out of 7 days/week.
  • I eat sunflower seed bread because I have worked it into my plan. I also have butter on it as one of my fats – again worked into my plan.
  • I buy Potato bread or a loaf of sourdough because they like it. I eat it too. Not everyday, but if I want a sandwich sure I’ll grab their bread. My kids wouldn’t go for wraps (especially lettuce wraps) unless they were at PF Changs, LOL!
  • I have three kids and we do have breads in moderation. Organic and whole grain usually.  I eat Ezekiel muffins, they do not like them much. I really try to have them make good choices… ex: a bagel is fine, but not a whole one…instead have a half with eggs and cheese … and fruit. For sandwiches at lunch I do lower carb whole grain for kiddos, or omit bread all together and do cut up cheese, fruit, veggies and meat… (and then maybe whole grains, like crackers…)
  • There are plenty of things I choose not to eat that my kids eat. Halloween candy for example. Obviously 80/20 on that.
    Bread is such a tricky one though. When you make healthier choices you look for volume- especially when dieting. Heck, even non-dieting I don’t really choose bread as a go to simply because there’s not much to it. I think the thought of no bread for newbies would sound restrictive and maybe even daunting. But I know plenty of folks who do cut things out especially when they are just starting.
  • I try not have anything that’s really off limits b/c I have so many food issues. I offer a large variety and they eat what they eat. I think because of that my girls love everything from Fruit Loops to broccoli. I will serve something over and over b/c they will eat something one time and then turn their nose up again at it 5 times before they scarf it down again. I also don’t short order cook. I serve dinner and they can choose to eat it or not, but I don’t make anything else, they don’t get dessert or snack after that.
  • I think people also don’t realize how much “bread” they do eat and that is when it gets dangerous. It’s not just sandwich bread, it’s bagels, pizza dough, cookies, cake, brownies. That’s ALL bread. Just b/c it doesn’t come in a loaf doesn’t mean it’s not bread and too much of it is not good.

 

I think the lesson here is if you haven’t tried Ezekial bread, give it a shot. 🙂  I myself have had the cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread and it tastes so good, and remember, I’m a very picky eater to this day. The last woman I surveyed I think had one of the best points: People don’t realize how carb-y foods can be and if you’re trying to at least “watch” what you’re eating, take note of all those doughs and cookies and cakes and bagels – Those carbs add up!

 

A separate blog post about what kinds of meals you can make for your kids is coming up later on this week too. 🙂

Happy Monday!

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.

 

Book Review: Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst

made-to-crave1

I’m not a book reviewer. I just read this book and thought, “I should blog about it!”

So I’m calling it a book review but I think it a better classification might just be:

“My favorite parts of a book that I read that might be useful to my readers because it’s a book about food and healthy eating and females and Jesus.”

But that title would be really really long.

So let’s call it a book review and be done with it.

The gist: Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst has the subtitle: Satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food. From the back cover: “This book is not a how-to manual or the latest, greatest dieting plan. Made to Crave is a helpful companion to use alongside whatever healthy eating approach you choose- a book and Bible study to help you find the “want to” in how to make healthy lifestyle changes.”

There’s no discussion about paleo or veganism or eating certain foods. It’s not a diet book at all and that’s what attracted me to it initially. Also, the author is the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries which has nothing to do with fitness but everything to do with women and how to live awesome God-filled lives. Plus, her daily devotional kind of inspired me to start my own daily devotional blog (shameless plug!)

Back to the book – Lysa takes certain passages from the Bible and applies them to real life. It’s a book geared toward women (but men struggle too, I’m sure) and how we put so much pressure on ourselves to be these thin, skinny jean wearing fit females.  Basically, the lesson is – turn your cravings of food into a craving for God. Instead of trying to summarize the book, I’m going to outline some of my favorite parts. (I highlighted and underlined practically every chapter which goes to show to just how much I loved this book…and I think you females would be wise to pick it up).

Disclaimer: Lysa never suggests that you CAN’T have any treat EVER AGAIN. She actually believes what I believe: You can have a taste of sweets and cake on your birthday and all that…but probably not at first. Not until you learn self-control. You may have to abstain or cut out the junk for a “season” as she puts it (i.e. a long time) but when you have that self control, then you can re-introduce those treats back into your eating plan. But it takes time to learn and apply that self-control and discipline, no matter what “diet” you’re on.

  • If we want to conquer our cravings, we’ll have to redirect them to God.
  • Lysa discusses our “Want To.” In other words, we all know what to do to lose weight, don’t we? It’s the fact that we don’t “want to” change enough to do it. She says it’s about “recalibrating our souls so we want to change.” So she lists a few ways we need to Find our Want To:

1. SpirituallyShallow desires produce only shallow efforts. Seek a spiritual want to empowered by God Himself. In other words, don’t use the vanity seeking reasons to lose weight. That will only get you so far. Just saying “Oh I want to look good in a bikini” is a vanity seeking reason. Besides, who DOESN’T want to look good in a bikini? Dig deeper.

2. PhysicallyTurn those spiritual insights into practical choices. As I’ve mentioned a few times, our weight is a direct reflection of our choices and our health. Whatever spiritual perspectives we read about are awesome for our mind and our soul, but you have to put the healthy food choices into practice to make it work.

3. MentallyWe were made for more than compromise. We were made for God’s promises in every area in our lives. Stop settling and thinking: Well this is just the way I’m meant to be. I’m meant to be overweight, there’s nothing I can do about it so I might as well not even try.  Enough with the self-pity talk. We were made for more and we can do better than settling for garbage food and garbage quick fixes.

  • God, not food, is who is in control of me. Food can fill our stomachs, but never our souls.
  • We grow closer to God by learning the powerful principle of denying ourselves things that distract us and hold us back from following. We grow closer to God as we learn to look and act more and more like Him. The bible calls this participating in His divine nature.
  • As you go to get on the scale once a week – Define your week by obedience, not by a number on the scale.
  • Confession from the author that I thought was interesting and applicable to all of us: I depended on food for comfort more than I depended on God.
  • Embrace the benefits (of exercise) instead of resisting the hardship. (This is definitely worth an entire blog post in the near future)
  • There is a good reason we must face our temptations (food, addictions, drugs, sex, etc). The struggle to say no may be painful in the moment, but it is working out something magnificent within us. Asking ourselves, “This feels good now, but how am I going to feel in the morning?”
  • On Idolatry and Food: Expecting anything outside the will of God to satisfy us is idolatry. Nutrition, which is food’s intended purpose, means consuming proper portions of healthy choices that enable our bodies to function properly. Idolatry, in the case of food, means the consumption of ill-sized portions and unhealthy choices because we feel like we deserve it or need it to feel better. We are to flee the control food can have over our lives. If we flee from the pattern of idolizing food and stop depending on food to make us feel emotionally better, we will be able to more clearly see the way our God promises to provide when we are tempted.

There is so much more that I could quote as Lysa had countless examples of scripture that could be applied to so many situations we might find ourselves in as we attempt to eat healthy and lose weight. I might take a few of her examples and apply them to my other blog since I feel it might be more applicable there. (trying to keep my faith and fitness separate although, to me, they go hand in hand).

I highly encourage all women of faith to purchase this book, regardless of where you are in your journey to be healthy. The book was/is so popular, the author wrote a study guide and a ton of other resources to go along with it.

I read this book in less than a week. And anyone who knows me knows I don’t read that quickly unless I REALLY like a book so, for what it’s worth!

 

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.