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Prevent The Stall!

Two months and a few days into the new gym being open and so many members already struggling to stay on track with regular workouts followed up by healthy eating. This is why I say: "Journal!" There is no easy way to go about the process of changing our lifestyle to incorporate the healthy behaviors we say we so badly want. Do you think this will be easier to accomplish when it becomes a need? As in, you just did your annual check-up and your doctor told you that you MUST lose weight, eat healthier, and start exercising. Having this moved to the position of a NEED usually means the wiggle room has drastically tightened up: what could have been a fun (yes, fun!) journey is now the equivalent of a prescription.

I know I will never get a warm reception when I explain that the best way to diet and lose weight will always be to make gradual changes that become habit. Start with 10 minutes of exercise daily and see if you can go for a full 2 weeks, then another 2 to make it one month. At the same time, reduce at least 100 calories from your daily intake, preferably by eliminating 7 teaspoons of sugar (about 100 empty calories) and adding 15 grams of fiber through a healthy food. This simple little adjustment will subtract 200 calories from your daily intake and provide a 2-lb. loss per month. That may not sound like much but the point is - look how easy that is! You must journal so you can track what you're doing, otherwise it's like playing tennis without a net and when it comes to weight-loss, you don't want to be guessing at your intake/energy expenditures. Start with knowing what your BMR is ( so you know you're working with the proper numbers.

The reason I talk about how diet is so much mindset is because it's true! It's not about the 'right' diet: it is ALL about the attitude and frame of mind you start with. This is NEVER going to change! So, please don't tell me about the crazy diet you've decided to follow to help you lose the first 20, 30, or 40 lbs. - or whatever amount you feel is the number you'll commit to following foolishness. This means you don't get the relationship between weight gain and your thought process. And you know it's not the first time you've been down this why would you choose to use the same plan that has failed before?! The best way to prep yourself for a diet is to set a realistic time frame for the effort that you are willing to put into it. The example above means you'd lose 24 lbs. in one year. Slow but doable, shouldn't even feel like a diet and extremely easy to carry out. But - you'll need patience and stick-with-it-ness. This is a DAILY commitment yet even this is easy. Just make it a habit by repeating it and you'll see that the changes become permanent and you'll be able to take on more as you go along.

Start slow and be okay with slow results. If you don't prepare for this, you will only frustrate yourself and quit. When you feel yourself reach the point of impatience and frustration (usually between 2 - 4 weeks), you'll start to think the same thoughts that have preceded the end of every other diet before: "I've been working really hard for (insert time) and I haven't lost anything (or only 1 - 3 lbs.)". First, keep your thoughts framed in a positive light: you haven't lost anything also means there's been no gain. And 1 - 3 lbs. is movement in the right direction so don't even think of discounting that! And, be honest: how hard have you really worked? If your workouts aren't truly challenging you, focus on increasing the intensity a bit more each time. Then remind yourself why you started this journey and never forget that putting weight on is fairly easy. Taking it off will be much more challenging primarily in that it is a slow process and will take dedication. It won't be easy but that doesn't mean it can't be done. If your mind is weak, you will quit but you will have created a list of excuses for why this diet didn't work (so you don't see your own self as the one in control as an attempt to get out of taking responsibility for the failure) and will feel justified in not following through. Yes, that's a little dose of tough love. You are the MASTER of your domain.

Here's an easy example of tightening up your caloric intake without having to suffer:

Breakfast: 1/4/cup steel cut oats cooked w/1 tsp cinnamon, 1 diced apple; 1 scoop Naked Egg protein; 1/3 cup nuts

I eat this Mon - Fri and I love it. I know exactly how it will make me feel and about how long it's going to stay with me. I will reduce 2 tablespoons of nuts to reduce 90 calories of what is now about 445 (new amount: 355)

Lunch: A salad with 2 cups baby spinach, 1 avocado, 3 hard-boiled eggs, carrot, cucumber, tomato, homemade dressing.

Homemade dressing: 1 tbls. coconut oil, 1 tbls. mustard, 1 clove garlic, 2 tbls. vinegar, 1 fire-roasted red pepper (run all ingredients through a Vitamix) =120 calories/12 gms fat.

Total current: 725 calories but by eliminating 1/2 the avocado and 2 tspn coconut oil, I can bring it down to 530 calories. I'm not making myself go without the food I love and want to eat!

Dinner: 1 veggie burger (220 calories), 2 slices whole wheat bun, 2 oz. feta cheese, tomato, sprouts, 1/2 cup quinoa

I can remove the top bun, 1 oz feta cheese and have 1/3 cup quinoa. This will save me another 180 calories.

Snack: White bean blondie with 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt. (See recipe gallery under Fierce Resources for White Bean Blondie - they are delicious!)

This is already pretty much as good as it gets! I figure that in addition to this being a super clean, super nutritious and really yummy snack, what it replaces that I could be eating instead is any packaged, processed, labeled food with a shelf-life of a gazillion years. Or, the crap that most people view as legitimate snack food, worth spending hard-earned money on. Once again I ask: Aren't we humans quirky?

So for these small changes, I saved 485 calories, bringing me right to a 3,395 calorie energy deficit per week. Without any exercise. But - remember to consider your BMR: what does your body actually use in energy to maintain your weight? When calculating for fat loss, the daily caloric intake needs to be based off reducing from maintenance numbers. I can eat about 1,900 - 2,000 to maintain my weight so I need to reduce to 1,500 and up my activity level to get faster results. I can do this short-term - like for the upcoming competition - but it isn't how I want to go for more than 2 or 3 weeks. And yet, this is exactly how most diets are set up and why they don't work for others either. Rarely. No one wants to live like this with big caloric deficits and lots of extra movement required regularly. It's draining!

I am surprised that others don't see the simplicity of making small changes that add up to success and the beauty of how actually pain-free it is. Why feel the need to order that food program through the internet that will be high in sodium and preservatives, at the very least, when you can enjoy fresh, healthy foods consisting of most everything you already love?

As for the videos, I posted them to give an example of control, form and movement speed. In the leg curl video, pay close attention to the fact that I am NOT letting my hips rise or my low back arch as I go through the movement. I am doing the opposite - I actually push my hips down hard as I go through the move. This will make a HUGE difference in the difficulty of this exercise and you may need to reduce the weight initially until you get the movement down. DO NOT let your hips come up! Most people will say they feel this exercise quite a bit in the lower back but if you do what I suggest, you no longer will. However, you will feel it more in your hamstrings which is what you want from this exercise, right? Don't break form to finish a rep! If you are only going to do 10 minutes of exercise, make them count. Pay attention to form and speed of movement with a weight that allows you to reach failure in 10-15 reps. Treat your 10 minutes like circuit training, moving quickly between exercises and aim for 5-7 sets during that 10 minutes. You can get your heart rate up doing this, accomplishing some cardio at the same time.

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