Category: burn calories

Not Losing Weight? – Six Things to Consider

Not Losing Weight? – Six Things to Consider

Losing weight can be invigorating… and frustrating, maddening, overwhelming, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could choose a diet plan that would allow you to lose 2 pounds a week (or 5 pounds, or insert your number here ____) every week until you reached your goal?

But if you have ever been on a diet, you know that’s not how it works. Some weeks your effort reflects the number of pounds lost. Some weeks you work your butt of and lose nothing. Some weeks (all be it rare) you slack a little and lose a pound or two.

Calories IN vs. calories OUT is definitely important, but there are other things that creep into the equation.

Here are 6 things to keep an eye on to make sure your effort reflects your outcome.

Eating too few carbohydrates It’s true that we need to be careful when it comes to carbohydrate intake to maximize fat loss, but we still want to make sure we are getting enough carbs. Did you know that fat molecules will not enter the fat burning cycle unless they have a little glucose (carb) molecule to take them there. It’s easy to get excited when you reduce your carbs and instantly lose weight, but often this is more of a factor of storing less water than fat loss.

Eating the wrong type of carbohydrates You might be eating the right amount of carbohydrates, but the type of carbs you eat has a big effect on weight loss. There is a buzz around high glycemic index (GI) foods and low GI foods, and the reason is that the type of carbs you eat will directly affect your weight loss. To keep it simple, low GI foods are good, high GI foods are bad.

Good carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates that take the body longer to break down. These carbohydrates typically are high in fiber, which takes the body longer to break down and helps stabilize blood sugar levels. The best sources of good carbohydrates include fresh vegetables, fresh fruit,  grains and beans. All of these foods provide the body with energy, vitamins, fiber, minerals and phytonutrients. 

Bad carbohydrates are foods that are easily digestible and provide the body with limited nutrients and vitamins. Because these foods are so quickly digested, your body will experience a quick spike in energy followed by a crash. Examples of bad carbs include soft drinks, cakes, cookies, chips, white bread, white rice, alcohol.

Eating too little fiber When we are eating for weight loss and we restrict our carb intake, it also changes our intake of fiber. Fiber might be the single most important secret to weight loss, and it is an essential factor for maintaining health. It helps you feel fuller and therefore eat less. It also binds with acids in the body and helps carry out excess fat, and it speeds the transit time of the food we eat, keeping the intestines in good order.

Getting too little sleep When we are constantly sleep deprived the body secretes a hormone called ghrelin. Higher ghrelin levels have been shown to reduce energy, stimulate hunger and food intake, and promote retention of fat. Do you ever notice that some days you feel hungry all day, even though you are eating your regular diet. Think back to your sleep patterns, and you may realize that you haven’t gotten as much sleep lately.

Eating too little fat Low fat diets have been really popular, but too little fat may actually make it harder for us to lose weight. Essential fats (aka good fats) help burn fat by helping to transport oxygen, vitamins, nutrients, and hormones to the body’s tissues.

Good fats include foods like non-hydrogenated oils (olive, canola, sunflower, peanut, sesame), avocados, olives, raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews), fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines), and tofu.

Bad fats include things like commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough, packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips), margarine or vegetable shortening, any fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish), and candy bars. 

Drinking too little water Dehydration happens more than you think. If you want to have steady fat loss and high energy, it’s necessary to keep your body and liver hydrated every day. Our liver converts the fat soluble toxic chemicals (that we consume, breathe in, and absorb through our skin), into water soluble chemicals that are flushed out by the kidneys through urine. With limited water supply, the kidneys cannot completely flush out metabolic and foreign waste and weight loss can be more  difficult.

So if you start feeling diet frustration, take a minute to evaluate your carbs, fat, fiber, sleep, and water. A small tweak might make all the difference.

 

 

Move the Chains

Move the Chains

“Move the chains”. That is the term my husband and I use to keep moving forward. We both love to watch football, so we decided to choose a football analogy to help us always feel like we are moving forward to reach our goals, whether it is a little accomplishment or a big one. We realize that in order to reach our goals, we don’t have to do everything all at once. It was life changing for us to approach things this way, because it took a lot of the pressure off. If we only work a little bit toward our goal one day, it is okay. On crazy days, we don’t beat ourselves up anymore because we didn’t get as much done as we wanted – We may have not scored a touch down, but did we move the chains?

 

When you want to lose weight, do you try to score a touchdown from the start — radically changing your diet and behaviors? For many people that approach is just too difficult to stick with for long.

How about inching closer to your goal with doable, less drastic changes? Over time, even small steps can add up big — and become a way of life.

What can I change today? You can begin shaving calories right away. Start here with these not-on-a-diet steps:

 

Slow down and savor. Speeding through meals can lead to overeating. Pay attention to every bite and make the decision to eat slower, especially when you are starving.

Downsize your dish. Use a smaller plate or bowl to help keep portion sizes in check. Sounds simple — but, it can work.

Leave a few bites behind. Remind yourself that it’s OK to not clean your plate. Consciously leave two or three bites on your plate every meal.

Turn up your veggie volume. These low-calorie, nutritional wonders can fill you up fast. Eat all your veggies first. By the time you get to a more calorie dense entree, you won’t be as hungry. Enjoy your favorite veggies. But, try new varieties, too. Why not make it one new type each week?

Lighten up your latte. Order your favorite coffee drink with fat-free milk and sugar-free syrup. Remember though, fat-free does not mean calorie free.

Burn calories, too! Of course, any successful weight-loss plan includes exercise. And, you can apply the small changes approach to physical activity, as well. Maybe that means you walk from the far end of the parking lot today — and around the block tomorrow.

 

These small steps can create real momentum and real habits. Once you see that you can make changes, you’ll be more likely to keep going with your healthful ways.

The Realistic Victory

The Realistic Victory

You’ve been cutting carbs, lifting weights, and doing cardio till you are soaked. You’ve actually dropped two sizes. You feel fabulous. You look fit. Now if only you could lose those last five pounds…

Sound familiar? Welcome to the infamous Diet Plateau. After making a mountainous effort to exercise and eat right, you find your weight loss results have come to a halt. Diet plateaus are very real, usually occurring four weeks to two months into a diet.
I have a friend who I see about every six months. For the last three years, every time I see her she is complaining about losing that last five pounds. Talk about a diet plateau. We all know it doesn’t take three years to lose five pounds. She seems to be doing the right things, but just can’t seem to get those last few pounds off.

 

To lean down for my bodybuilding competition I lost around 20 pounds. This was not a sustainable weight, and it was purely for the competition. However, I did want to equalize at around a 10 pound net loss after the competition. I was able to keep my weight there for about five months, but then it started to creep up.

I have never been a fan of scales, and I even recommend that people put their scales away and just go by the fit of their clothes, and how they look and feel. When I was training, though, it was important to keep track of my weight loss and fat loss, so I started weighing myself every few days. This continued after my competition was over, and that is how I noticed this creep. I really couldn’t understand it. I was eating about the same as I had been eating the past five months, yet my weight was five pounds higher, and I couldn’t seem to get it off. I even bought a scale (for the first time in 30 years) because I thought that there MUST be something wrong with the scale at the gym. I know… a little obsessive.

A diet plateau can result from several factors. It may be a question of what, exactly, you’re losing. Seventy percent of the weight you lose in the first two to three weeks of a diet is water. By the end of the third week, water loss will account for only about twenty percent of weight loss. Once you begin burning body fat rather than merely shedding water, you have to work harder. Most people can lose a pound of water weight a week by cutting their daily intake by 200 to 300 calories. Losing a pound of fat a week requires cutting about 500 calories a day.

Beware though… consuming too few calories also can waylay weight loss. You need a certain amount of calories for everyday functioning. If you try to lose weight too quickly by radically reducing calories, your body will slow your metabolism to compensate, creating a weight-loss plateau.

Other ways that diets are unintentionally sabotaged include underestimating portions—essentially overeating without realizing it—and consuming hidden sources of calories, such as excess fat used in meal preparation. You also may not be working out at the right exercise intensity, thereby overestimating the calories you’re burning at the gym.

(Below are some tips to help with a plateau.) However, I have been considering some other things. As I really look at how much exercise I am doing, I realize that I have not decreased the amount of time or intensity. I also know in my heart of hearts that it is not realistic to do more exercise than I am already doing. I also took a look at my diet. I am averaging 1400 calories a day. That is sustainable for me. I do not feel deprived or hungry, but if I start to cut a few hundred calories, it is not realistic. I have decided that I have reached my ideal weight. My sustainable weight. Yes, I would like to be five pounds lighter, but it is not realistic, so I am okay with it. I think my friend has also reached her ideal weight, and she just needs to be okay with it.

Anyway, on to the tips…

Consume the Correct Number of Calories

Eat enough to maintain weight loss at a pace of one to two pounds per week. If you’re losing more than two pounds of body fat a week, some of that weight loss is coming from muscle. When you lose muscle mass, you slow down your metabolism.

The Calorie Need Calculator link and Activity Calorie Calculator link can help you to figure out the perfect number for you.

Exercise

Add some exercise. Do some form of extra aerobic exercise three to five days a week and strength training two to three times a week. Strength training maintains and/or increases muscle mass, helping boost your metabolism.

Start a Food Journal

Recording what you eat make you aware of extra calories. The numbers don’t lie and they can add up fast. That handful of Doritos will affect your body, even if it came from a bag on someone else’s desk.

Be Patient

Sometimes we need to allow the body a period of time to adjust, and then weight loss will resume.

The Bottom Line: Take time to congratulate yourself on having come this far. Then adjust your routine to carry you to weight-loss victory. But make sure that your victory is realistic and sustainable.

5 Signs You Need a Shakeup to Your Shapeup

5 Signs You Need a Shakeup to Your Shapeup

SONY DSCWhen it comes to exercise, it’s always good to mix it up a bit, but there are also times when your exercise routine may be ready for a more major overhaul. Because exercise is a personal thing, and your workout results (and problems) can only be recognized by you, here are a few things to be on the lookout for to determine if you need a shakeup in your shapeup. No matter if you’re a novice to physical fitness or an expert, here are 5 signs that you need to switch up your exercise regime ASAP! –

  1.  If you’re working out and eating properly, you should be seeing results. If you aren’t seeing anything noticeable in the mirror, or if your clothing sizes haven’t changed (or gotten tighter), it’s likely that you need a new exercise routine. With the right routine, you should be able to watch your body transform, even if it is only a little bit. Inches should be coming off and you should start to see more tone to your body.
  2. If in the beginning you wanted to lose weight and improve your endurance, so you did a lot of cardio exercises, such as running on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, etc. However, now that you’ve lost weight and built-up your endurance, you want to focus more on gaining muscle, which requires lifting weights. When your fitness goals change, your workout routine should change with them.
  3. Exercising releases hormones within the brain that are supposed to induce a happier mood. If you’re unhappy with your exercise routine, you rush through your exercises, you cannot wait to get out of the gym, or you find yourself losing focus when you work out, you may be bored. A boring workout is never a good one, and it only makes sense to change it. Being unhappy with your workouts means that you aren’t doing exercises that make you feel good. You should be enthused (okay if ‘enthused’ doesn’t quite describe you, let’s just say you shouldn’t dread your workout), and by the end of it all you should be happy with the physical activity that you do.
  4. You could do your workout routine with your eyes closed. You don’t sweat nearly as much as you used to. You don’t have to put forth a lot of effort to complete your workout. When your workout becomes a walk in the park instead of a challenge, it’s definitely time to change things around. You want your workouts to challenge you and to cause you to push yourself to the limit. If you are going to take the time to exercise, you might as well make it count.
  5. Since the day you’ve started working out until now, you’re been doing the same exact exercise. Even though you’re comfortable with this routine, it’s always helpful to switch up your routine at least every couple of weeks. Doing the same workout for months at a time could not only lead to boredom, but your body get used to the workout and you may find that your exercises are now completely and ineffective.
Tricks For Travel – How to Eat Healthy on Vacation

Tricks For Travel – How to Eat Healthy on Vacation

Fall break starts soon, and we are making our annual trip to San Diego. Fortunately, we stay in a house with a great kitchen, so we don’t have to eat out every meal, but it still seems like temptation is lurking in every corner café.

It’s difficult eating healthy while on vacation, even with a kitchen stocked full of healthy options. But there’s no sense ruining my diet for a week of excessive eating. The key is to find that happy medium between feast and healthy. So here are some of my tricks to stay on track.

On The Road:

We are driving to San Diego, and often times boredom can be mistaken for hunger. Eating healthy and road trips are two words that are not commonly used together, but it is possible.

We will pack a cooler full of healthy snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy sandwiches, string cheese, yogurt, and my new favorite munchy snack – Trader Joe’s Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil… and lots of water to keep us hydrated.

Of course we will need to pull over to stretch our legs and use the bathroom. The roadside stops can be dangerous territory, but with a cooler packed with good food, there is no need to buy any treats at the roadside stops.

When to indulge:

Most cities have unique foods and treats that may be worth the indulgence.  I can’t think of anything specific to San Diego, but we definitely have our favorites there…including my Mom’s biscuit and gravy breakfast.  It is all about how much you eat, so limit your treats to the local goodies and the ones that are really worth it. (Read: a Big Mac is not okay)

It can be very tempting to take a vacation from your healthy diet —when on vacation.  Vacation eating is much more mental, as we have a completely different mindset when we are taking a break from the daily grind. But there is no reason to throw caution to the wind and use vacation as an excuse to pig out.

In San Diego, there is nothing better than walking up and down the boardwalk, but eventually someone wants to stop and grab a bite. And it is no fun to sit and watch everyone else gobble down their ice cream cone or bag of *insert fattening snack here*.  If I am hungry, a small scoop of ice cream or a low-cal, nonfat drink is the perfect solution.

I also plan a cheat day, just like I would if I were at home— usually gravy and biscuit day, where I treat myself to whatever sounds good.

There is nothing better than a great vacation, and the memories of spending time with family. But the feeling of getting on the scale after a week at the beach, and seeing the same number as when I started, is priceless.

Exercise Smart to Avoid Injury

Exercise Smart to Avoid Injury

I thought I had bowlers elbow from playing X-Box with Samantha, but after a few weeks, I thought  it may be a more serious injury. It can be very frustrating to have to halt your progress due to a strain, but you can definitely hurt yourself and cause pain if you aren’t paying attention to your body.

The idea behind smart exercising is to work out with intensity, but equally as important— avoid doing anything that will hinder the process of getting into shape. When you’re exercising, you will reach a point where your muscles begin to tire, and you feel like you should stop. This is where it gets a little tricky, and you really have to pay attention to what you are doing.

My advice to exercising smarter usually refers to intensity, and I recommend pushing yourself beyond that limit where you start to feel tired. However, it must be something you can realistically do by keeping the same form that you started with.

If you keep trying to do more and more repetitions by whatever means possible, like swinging the weights or using other muscles to “cheat”, you are not doing any of your muscles any good.

Building up muscle takes time, and your muscles are only capable of so much. That is why you exercise them, so that they become stronger. But you still must take care by paying attention. If you push farther than your muscles can go, then you will possibly strain, tear, or otherwise injure your muscles and body. If you hurt yourself while exercising, you may be out of commission for a while and not be able to make progress.

On another note, there is something called delayed onset muscle soreness. It is common after exercise to feel a little tenderness in your muscles. This is completely different from an injury. To read about DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) check out this link to an article I wrote all about it. http://fitchicktricks.com/why-do-muscles-get-sore-after-exercise/

Symptoms of DOMS:

1. The pain is generalized and usually a dull pain or tenderness .

2. It tends to arise symmetrically in the body .

3. It lasts a short time (24-48 hours) then goes away.

Symptoms of an injury:

1. The pain is localized in one area of your body. It can be a sharp pain when the muscle is moved in a certain way.

2. The pain lasts for 3 days or more.

So after a month of thinking that I had injured my bicep, I was not doing any upper body exercises involving my right arm. And it was not getting any better, so I finally went to the doctor, and come to find out, I have tennis elbow. Or in my case it is more accurately described as “mouse” elbow, as I am always on the computer writing about health and fitness.  The rest I was giving my arm was completely the wrong type of rest. But now I know how to work to get rid of my mouse elbow. Luckily it doesn’t include giving up the computer.

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