Here we are in week 3 of the Inspire Me: Healthy link up. In week one, I talked about my plans/workout a little bit and showed you some initial photos. Last week I talked about some of our favorite recipes. This week I wanted to talk a little bit about my philosophy on eating/weight loss. I couldn't really figure out how to organize this post, so I just went with bold words. I'm not saying I am an expert, but in the past 5 or 6 years, I have done a lot of reading and learning on my own (along with the guidance of my hubs who teaches an Advanced Health & Fitness Professionals program at a vocational school) about different things related to health and fitness, so I just thought I would address some of these things here as I have learned/experienced them.
Cardio vs Weights - I have previously posted on this topice here. Let me put it this way, when you envision yourself at your goal, what do you see? Most women say they want to be skinny, but in reality, they are picturing themselves with some muscle tone and some kind of tight ab situation. Take a look at the picture below.
If you were to do nothing but cardio, you would be on your way to looking like the girl on the right (granted, she probably hasn't eaten anything in the past 3 years, so...take that with a grain of salt). If you were to do weight training with some cardio mixed in, or more high-intensity interval training, you would be on your way to looking more like the girl on the left. In order to build/keep muscle, you have to continue using it. It has been discovered that long stints of moderate cardio actually start to deplete your muscle mass, which leads to the look of the girl on the right. I don't know about you, but I prefer to look strong and toned, like the girl on the left.
To date, the best results I ever got were from Jamie Eason's Live Fit Trainer on bodybuilding.com. That program was a good blend of weight training and cardio. Never once did I "look like a dude" while doing so much weight lifting. A lot of women are hesitant to lift weights because they think they will start to look big and bulky like a man. In actuality, women don't have high enough testosterone levels to get that big, so you have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately it's hard for me and my schedule to devote that much time in the gym, so I switched to the bodyrock workouts, which I am loving so far.
Calorie Counting - This is typically the first thing women start doing in order to lose weight. After all, the simple equation for weight loss is calories in < calories out. The problem with this equation is that there isn't enough emphasis on how to calculate the necessary amount of calories in. Different tools/apps like My Fitness Pal have made this easier in recent years, but overall people are still doing it wrong. This has a lot to do with the amount of calories you need to maintain your current resting state plus taking into account how much exercising you are doing. You need to fuel your body appropriately for the work you are making it do, otherwise your body will do things like go into starvation mode which causes it to retain fat because it doesn't know when it will get nutrients again.
Another problem with calorie counting/point systems is that you aren't really focusing on what type of calories you are putting into your body. 200 calories of sugar are going to leave you feeling sluggish and hungry soon after eating it, whereas 200 calories of protein/complex carbohydrates/good fats will keep you satisfied and feeling fuller longer.
Fat Doesn't Make You Fat - This is one of the things that frustrates me the most. People are so focused on low-fat this and non-fat that and pay no attention to the list of ingredients they are taking in. A rule of thumb that I use is basing my foods on their ingredient list. If I can't pronounce it, I typically don't eat it. When you buy fat free foods, unless they are natural foods like fruits and veggies, the processing just takes the place of the fat. I strongly believe that processed food is responsible for weight gain as opposed to fat intake being the culprit. If you based your consumption of a food on the amount of fat that was in it, you wouldn't eat avocados, olives, butter, nuts, fish. Many of those foods are high in fats, but they are good fats (Omega-3). If you are interested in learning more about good fats vs bad fats, you can look into Omega-3 (good) vs Omega-6 (not as good) fats. It's mostly about striking a balance between the good vs not as good fats and eating fruits and vegetables.
Sleep - In order for your body to recover from the day (especially if you are working out) and repair itself, you need adequate, quality sleep. I have read many places that 6 hours is the least amount of sleep you should get each night. Optimal is 7-8 hours. I usually get about 7 hours, but could probably use 9. If you are getting good rest and fueling your body with the proper amount of nutrients, it's virtually impossible to get sick. Your immune system is functioning at an optimal level which allows it to fight off all the bad guys you encounter.
Instant Results/Quick Fixes - There was a time in my life where I was stupid enough to use diet pills. It was back when they had the good stuff in them, too. I would have breakfast, take a pill, have lunch, take a pill, and then by dinner time I was coming down and I was a major bitch. I definitely saw some results, but I definitely didn't like how my body felt. I am not one of those people who could ever have anorexia. If I go more than 3 hours without eating I get shaky, cranky, headaches, and I just plain can't function. I can't imagine going days at a time on a few crackers here and there. Once I stopped taking those pills, I gained all the weight back and then some. Mostly because I wasn't doing any physical activity to keep it off and also because those things throw your metabolism out of whack and often times when it regulates again, it's slower than it was before. Finding out that little factoid scared me away from using them ever again. You definitely have to put in the work to get where you want to be.
Eating 6 well portioned meals a day keeps your metabolism active and your body in a place where it knows it is going to be fed again, so it works at an optimal level. Your energy level will go up and you won't feel the need to snack on bad foods or stuff yourself at the next meal since it has been 4 or 5 hours since you ate last. I can't remember the last time I needed an afternoon caffeine fix. The 3pm slump is nowhere to be found because my body has all the fuel it needs.
I know it's frustrating when you don't see the results you want at first, but if you keep pushing, you finally realize the results and the high you get from being so proud of yourself for doing it is better than any diet pill, I can assure you. I saw this the other day and thought it was fitting:
and this one is my favorite:
Now GET TO WORK! :)