Tag: diet plateau

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.

The Do and Don’ts for Avoiding Exercise Burnout

The Do and Don’ts for Avoiding Exercise Burnout

images[1]Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. Thanks Wikipedia!

We all experience burnout whether it’s at work, home, with family, friends, diet, and even exercise, maybe especially exercise.

Consider how many gym memberships purchased in January go unused in July, or how all you can think about is a cheeseburger two weeks into a new diet plan. Burnout can happen over years or in a matter of days.

Certain habits or lack of certain habits will accelerate the burnout process.

 

So if you don’t want to suffer from exercise burnout….

DO NOT Wing It

Failing to plan is planning to fail, as the saying goes, and creating lofty, long-term goals without establishing checkpoints along the way is failing to plan. Shoot for the moon, but include intermediate and short-term goals to assure that you remain on track to achieve your long-term goals.

Example:

Long-term goal: I will finish a marathon this year.

Intermediate goal: I will finish a half marathon within the next six months.

Short-term goal: Within the next week, I will jog three times for a minimum of 10 minutes each run.

Writing goals down (on paper, using a smart phone app or online software program) is an absolute must.

DO NOT Forget to Self-Assess

Your goal-setting process should include assessing weak links in the chain and how to address them. Using the example above of planning to finish a marathon, short-term goals could include completing some form of a fitness test, such as a one-mile run for time, gait analysis, nutrition consultation, body composition analysis, etc.

Example:

Short-term Goal No. 2: Within the next two weeks, I will complete a one-mile run for time to assess my current fitness status.

Intermediate goals should re-evaluate these tests every few weeks to validate your exercise regimen and determine what tweaks you may need to make. Modifying goals along the way (to account for “life”) is a  key to achievement and  sustained motivation. Altering your long-term goals can also be critical; for example, switching from the full marathon to the half marathon two weeks before a race is better than not showing up at all.

DO NOT Skimp on Sleep

Research suggests those who sleep less than six hours per night are at greater risk for burnout. Too little sleep can cause fatigue, impaired mental function and increased sensitivity to stress, as well as decreased motivation and physical performance. In a busy world, we seem to prioritize so much at the expense of ZZZs. There are usually enough excused to go around for not exercising, don’t add “too tired” to the list.

DO Take Time to Truly Relax

Multiple experts agree that a key to avoiding burnout from your job is being able to turn off work when you get home. Likewise, tuning out from exercise from time to time is essential to maintaining a long-term fitness program. Expert coaches suggest taking at least one day per week completely off from structured exercise and including another day or two of restorative activities (yoga, hikes, naps and Sunday football couch potato-ing all count as restoration). Every few months, take an entire week off, and just relax.

DO Find a Sport You Enjoy

Some people hate running – I would not suggest a marathon training program for those individuals. The key to longevity of an activity or fitness program is enjoyment; sometimes you must ignore what your friends are doing or the most popular class at your gym, and simply do what makes you happy. If it makes you sweat and also makes you smile, it’s the right activity for you. I still have a Groupon for 4 Pilate’s classes hanging over my head, because my friends think Pilate’s is great…. I am a gym rat and always will be.

DO NOT Overdo It

A fine line exists between what fitness experts call over-reaching and over-training. Over-reaching involves applying the overload principle to exercise, i.e. increasing the intensity, duration and/or frequency of exercise to create positive stress on your body that will gradually result in fitness gains. When over-reaching, you should feel tired and sore, but two to three days of adequate recovery should cure that.

Over-training occurs when the increase in physical activity is too much and recovery is insufficient. It can involve loss of sleep, lethargy, injury and a lack of fitness gains despite an increased workload. When in doubt, listen to your body – go hard when you feel good, and rest up when you feel overworked.

DO NOT Live for Repetition

Imposing the exact same stress demand on our bodies habitually does not result in positive gains. Doing the same activities each day or the same exercise routine will lead to a physical plateau and eventual mental burnout. Not to mention it gets really boring! Even if you’re a creature of habit, add variety to your favorite activity… it may be a change of scenery, faster or slower run times, switching up the free weights for machines, taking a Zumba class instead of Yoga, or whatever.. A change of pace and scenery may keep your muscles honest and your mind fresh.

The path toward burnout is can be averted. Self-assessment, goal planning, adequate sleep and recovery, variety and, most importantly, enjoyment can keep you pointed in the direction of lifelong fitness and goal accomplishment.

Patience — The Secret to Losing Weight

Patience — The Secret to Losing Weight

 

One of the most important ingredients for losing weight and becoming healthy and fit is patience.

The subject of patience has come up quite a bit lately with some of the moms that I coach.  Moms can be awesomely patient with their kids, husbands, other moms, etc. But one thing that moms don’t have a lot of patience for is waiting for weight loss results.

One of my moms started eating a healthy lower calorie diet, and after one week started lamenting about how she has not dropped a single pound. Another mom told me that she has tried weight training in the past but never saw any results. 

Many people have been led astray when it comes to the amount of time it can take to lose weight and see results. One of my favorite shows is The Biggest Loser. But when my 150 pound client doesn’t understand why she isn’t losing 16 pounds a week like many of the contestants, it can be frustrating. Who doesn’t want quick results? So becoming fit and healthy the right way can be a bit frustrating. 

Here is the (possibly harsh) reality — you will not lose 10 pounds in a few days, maybe not even in a few weeks.  You may not see any noticeable muscle definition for weeks, or months if you have a lot of body fat to lose.

So, knowing that patience is important…. Keep on going until you see results!  Continue to eat a healthy, reduced calorie diet and exercise with cardio and strength training until you see results.

Results can be measured by numbers on the scale, muscle definition, increased strength, increased endurance, and the fit of your clothes.  By the time you start seeing results, a healthy diet and exercise plan will be an integral part of your life, and you won’t want to give it up.

On the flip side, if you don’t keep on truckin’ until you see results, a habit of healthy eating and exercise will never take hold.

Getting healthy and losing weight doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take time. Unfortunately time is not something most people have a lot of. 

Ironically, it’s easy to end up wasting a lot of time, spending too much time doing one thing, not enough time doing important things, or wasting time doing anything and everything but the right thing. And when it feels as though our effort does not match the results, it can be easy to give up.   

Here are 3 simple steps to help you make the most of your time.   

Take more time to eat less. Eating right takes time. The whole process starts with grocery shopping. If you don’t shop well, you can’t except to eat well. Next you have to prepare the food and do whatever it takes to make sure you have healthy food with you at all times. Packing lunches and snacks are a vital part of avoiding temptation. Paying closer attention to calories and portion sizes will also require some time, but the payoff is huge.    

 Take less time to exercise more. This is the quality vs. quantity dilemma. Many people invest a lot of time in what they would call exercise but is often just increased activity. Although activity is good for your health, it’s not as effective for weight loss. Many people are just going through the motions and wasting a lot of time doing minimal effort. Really burn some calories by turning a long morning stroll into a purposeful power walk. If you do weights, train at a higher intensity with less rest in between. You don’t have to spend three hours at the gym every day. Commit to one powerful hour three to five days a week and make every minute count! The more quality time you invest, the greater the reward.  

Take the time to make sure you are not wasting time. This is a biggie. People spend a lot of time and energy on things that don’t work. Fad diets, weight loss gimmicks, books and fitness magazines often lead you to believe weight loss can be easy. It’s our human nature to try the easy way first. In the end, we just waste a lot of time trying to avoid the inevitable. Other people struggle because they completely go it alone with no guidance at all. A person who is basically guessing their way through their fitness program is doomed. Don’t waste your time floundering around aimlessly. Invest a little time initially to be properly guided. Diet and exercise does work. If you take time to understand why and how it works, you’ll be a lot more motivated to apply it to your own life. And remember, I am always here to answer any questions, concerns, or challenges you have along the way.

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, whole grains and beans. All of these foods provide the body with energy, vitamins, fiber, minerals and phytonutrients. In addition to fresh fruit and veggies, good carbohydrates include whole grain cereals, whole wheat breads and pastas, and brown rice.

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, peanuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews), fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines), and tofu.

Bad fats include things like high-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork or chicken with the skin) whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream), butter, ice cream, 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.

 

Cut the Calories Not the Taste – Quick Tips to Healthier Eating

Cut the Calories Not the Taste – Quick Tips to Healthier Eating

25 Quick Tips

It’s the little things that can make all the difference, and the little things can be easy to change without feeling taste deprived.

Here are 25 quick tips that will help you diet smarter not harder. By making small tweaks to your food choices you don’t have to sacrifice flavor, but you can cut a calories, fats, and sugar to help slim down your waistline. Increase your vegetables and whole grains, but decrease the fat, salt and sugar. If you’re really serious about changing your family’s diet, clip this page and post it on your refrigerator as a daily reminder for everyone.

INCREASING VEGETABLES

Learn to properly steam vegetables.

Decrease the meat and increase the vegetables called for in stews and casseroles.

Add grated carrots, zucchini or cabbage to chili and meatloaf.

Offer washed and trimmed carrot and celery sticks for snacking.

Add finely grated carrots, pumpkin, or zucchini to baked breads and cakes.

INCREASING WHOLE GRAINS

Substitute whole-wheat flour for bleached white flour when you bake.

Top casseroles with wheat germ or whole-wheat bread crumbs.

Serve bran-based cereals, or those made from shredded wheat.

Serve imaginative whole-grain side dishes (bulgur, kasha, etc.) instead of egg noodles.

Offer crackers and corn chips containing whole grains.

REDUCING FAT

Cook with less fat by using non-stick skillets.

Blot all fried meats on paper towels.

Add a spoon of water or broth as needed instead of more fat when sautéing onions and vegetables.

Substitute low-fat yogurt for mayonnaise.

Substitute ground turkey for ground beef.

REDUCING SALT

Substitute lemon juice or herbs for salt when cooking pasta or grains.

Avoid cooking with soy or Worcestershire sauce.

Substitute garlic or onion powder for garlic or onion salt.

Avoid using products that contain monosodium glutamate.

Use unsalted or low-salt vegetable broths and products.

REDUCING SUGAR

Choose canned fruits packed in water instead of heavy syrup.

Use only fresh-frozen fruit without added sugar if fresh is unavailable.

Cut the sugar called for in most recipes by one-third to one-half.

Sweeten waffles and quick breads with cinnamon and vanilla or almond extracts.

Add pureed banana to baked goods and reduce the sugar or applesauce to reduce the fat (oil/butter)

 

Tricks To Combat Mindless Eating

Tricks To Combat Mindless Eating

You have probably heard the term mindless eating. It actually refers to findings from scientific experiments showing that people make almost 20 times more daily decision about food than they realize – approximately 250 decisions each day.

Mindless Eating suggests that a considerable part of our hunger is psychologically-driven, which leads us to be easily driven by tiny cues around us, such as family, friends, packages, names, labels, lights, colors, smells, shapes, distances, containers, cupboards, and distractions. Is it possible that we are not calibrated well enough to know when we are full or to know when we are hungry?

The gist of the study goes like this:

Endless bowl group – participants ate from a bowl that automatically refilled from the bottom. The participants did not know this was happening.

Normal bowl group – participants ate from a bowl that did not automatically refill. As they ate, they could see there was less food left on the bowl.

Those in the endless bowl group ate 73% more food until they thought they were full, compared to those in the normal bowl group. This confirmed scientific hypothesis — that our eyes are the main factors in determining when we think we are full.

Obviously, mindless eating can lead to unhealthy habits and weight gain. However, mindless eating can also be used to your favor, so that your habits become healthier.

Some easy fixes or tricks are to get smaller plates and bowls. This works great with kids too. I actually just did this with all my kiddie plastic bowls. Now with smaller bowls, I don’t hear whining complaints like “that’s all I get?” or “that’s not enough!” when I pour an appropriate amount of food into the bowl. Reducing the number of times you look at unhealthy snacks is also key.  Either don’t buy them at all or keep them out of sight. You can move healthier foods to eye-level in the refrigerator or pantry. And of course, food should be eaten in the kitchen, rather than in front of the TV.

Most of us have too much chaos going on in our lives to consciously focus on every bite we eat, and then ask ourselves if we’re full. The secret is to change your environment so it works for you rather than against you.

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