getting healthy in 2013? here's how i did it in 2012 (long).
i've seen a lot of posts on here about people trying to lose weight but it's not the healthy way - they're either taking pills, doing something horrible and drastic, eating too little or not eating right. i'm not a personal trainer, i'm not a fitness guru; i'm just another mom like you who wanted to make a healthy lifestyle change and did it the healthy way - through clean eating and exercising. no fad diets, no crash diets, no pills, nothing drastic. just plain ol' exercise, watching what i ate and sticking to a clean diet rich in protein, healthy carbs and healthy fats… so i wanted to share with you all how i did it. i know that medical reasons can hinder weight loss so before anyone starts anything, it's best to go get check out first by your doctor and if you're good to go, then hopefully this post can help you. i really hope this doesn't turn into a bash post; i'm always reluctant to post stuff in this group because i know how brutal this group can be and it can get ugly really fast but if this helps anyone with their new years resolutin or helps inspire them to get healthy this year, then i'm happy.
so, i've decided to put something together for you all as a guideline. these are the steps that i took; it's what worked for me and over the past 12 months, i've gained a discipline that i've never had before because i took my time, acknowledged that this is a JOURNEY, NOT A RACE and changed my perspective about what it means to be healthy. in return, i've changed my body, my fitness journey continues to be on-going, i've hit all but one of my fitness goals and am now in the best shape of my life. BEWARE: THIS IS A LONG READ!!
my biggest problem was my squishy upper body. i was flabby all around and had a muffin top that i didn't like. the april picture was after i finished the 30day shred so i had already lost maybe half an inch around my mid-section but i had zero definition (and was still a bit flabby all around). to save money, i needed to become an expert on nutrition -- what foods worked for me -- and educated myself on what it means to eat clean. i also had to figure out what exercises worked best for me. at the start of my journey, i was 36yrs old, wore a size 8/10 pants, size M/L dress/shirt and weighed about 150lbs; maybe more. my diet was garbage and i lived a sedentary lifestyle.
before you start:
1) take baby steps & celebrate small victories. when you have a lot of weight to lose, it's a very daunting thing to see the whole number. when i first started, i didn't have a lot to lose (maybe 15-20lbs) but i had never been so heavy in my life and thinking of all the work ahead of me started to get me discouraged. if you're anything like me, thinking of everything i need to do is overwhelming and i end up saying "fuck it" and going back to my old ways. instead, i focused on baby steps. i decided that if i was going to do this and do this right, i needed a plan. too many times in 2011 i winged weight loss; flying by the seat of my pants and not really sure of what i was doing. this time around, i planned out what i needed to do and this meant writing down exactly what my goals were and how i was going to accomplish them. when i did that, i only focused on a single task at a time and didn't look at the rest. why did i do this? to avoid being overwhelmed. to avoid quitting before i started. when you focus on baby steps, it makes what you're trying to accomplish- no matter how big the task is - doable.
my first baby step was focusing on my diet - to cut out all junk/bad foods. i stopped eating all junk/processed foods/pop/dessert etc and only ate fresh, wholesome foods. i wasn't even counting calories by then, nor was i tracking anything; i just wanted to get the garbage out of my system first. the detox was frigging tough; i won't lie. for 2 weeks i went through a major detox (never mind the homicidal rage and massive headaaches) and i craved all the bad stuff like heroin. i pushed through by eating lots of fresh fruit or fresh berry smoothies when i had the craving. for the smoothies, i added some protein powder to up my protein intake. after that 2wk hump, the cravings stopped as did my headaches and rage. i had never felt better and not only did i feel amazing, my sleep also turned around!! i went from shitty, 2-3hr nights to a whopping 6-7hrs per night! now that i had my cravings under control and cut out junk, i crossed that off my list. my next step was to track what i ate. then start exercising… as you can see, i tackled one thing at a time instead of trying to do it all at once.
i celebrated each step/task i crossed off my list and by celebrate, i don't mean treating myself to a dessert; i mean really sitting back and enjoying the fact that i worked through something very hard, succeeded and never cheated/succumbed to temptation. i would buy myself a little something from sephora or maybe some workout gear.. something to remind me that i worked hard to get.
2) set realistic expectations. know that you won't lose all of your weight in a 2 months. for many, and depending on how disciplined you really are, this could take up to a year. remember that weight loss takes time and for many who are impatient (like me), you need to focus on something else other than "being skinny". it's good to set goals but make them realistic! "being skinny" isn't really a goal but make it something tangible like "fit into my size X jeans" but don't put a time limit on yourself. if you must, hang those jeans somewhere you can see them to stay motivated. i made a vow to fit into my size 4 jeans but not by X date. this took the pressure off me; i knew that if i didn't hit my goal by X date, i'd feel discourage and feeling discouraged can often throw you off the wagon. so do whatever you can do avoid any type of discouragement and make sure your goals are tangible and realistic.
3) develop discipline by removing all temptations and do not eat any junk/sweets/desserts. if you've had trouble in the past resisting junk/desserts etc, remove them from your house and do not eat any of it for at least 3 months. now, many people don't understand my rationale behind this but for many who do not have the will power or discipline right now, having "cheat days" too early on will derail your progress and your efforts... then you feel guilty for eating XYZ. the memory of XYZ will always be fresh in your mind (and taste buds) which only exacerbates the cravings/thoughts/need to fulfill the temptation etc and the next time you're faced with the decision to eat XYZ, it'll only be that much harder to fight the temptation because not too long ago, you had it and you know exactly how good it is.
but do you see what a vicious cycle that is? when you haven't given yourself time to develop the discipline, it's incredibly hard to resist it and 9 times out of 10, you will eat it and the cycle continues… you hardly modify your diet because you are continuing to feed your body the stuff that makes it crave it more. by not eating any of it for a few months, you give yourself time away from the bad foods, you give your body time to purge all the sugar, additives and whatever else it doesn't need but most of all, you give your mind time to dull the memories of what XYZ tastes like. at the same time, your education about nutrition is only getting better and stronger; the more you know about nutrition and how your body reacts when fed with good or bad food, the less likely you are to feed your body with all the junk that isn't good for you.
the discipline to resist bad foods takes time to develop. in order to develop this, you must stay away for at least a few months. keep in mind that this restriction is only temporary, but the hiatus from eating junk/bad foods is needed so that you can develop your discipline and self control. once you have that discipline, you can then have a small piece of cake and enjoy it, knowing that you can walk away at any time and not feel "deprived".
4) change your perspective about food. during my journey to a healthier me, i learned that we give ourselves too little credit when it comes to our willpower and give too much power to food. i realized that only WE can give this power to an inanimate object and that no one forces us to eat anything… we decide that for ourselves. when i realized this epiphany, my entire outlook on sweets and anything i used to think of as "temptation" suddenly shrunk in significance and now, it's so easy for me to fight cravings - and let's face it, we all have them. once upon a time, it used to be a total struggle for me and i just had to have [insert bad/junk food here] but now, i just walk away without a second thought. to be honest, i don't even have the desire to eat any of it. this holiday season was a true test of my discipline and seeing all those desserts didn't even phase me. seeing all that rich food didn't phase me. i ate, but controlled the portions and i ate healthy (or as healthy as i could given what was served) and stayed away from the high fattening/high calorie foods. did i feel deprived? not in the least. the only time i had dessert was on my birthday and it wasn't because i craved it, because i wanted it and planned to eat it!
5) put the scale away - for real. time and time again, i read about women who are so distressed over the fact that they haven't lost a single pound or have gained weight despite all of their hard work. the scale is an inaccurate thing to begin with!! while it's good to use it at least twice (once in the beginning of a program and at the end of a program), it's not good to always check yourself or gauge your progress because you'll only drive yourself crazy! the number on the scale has a high margin of error because anything will throw it off - where you are in your cycle, if you ate a little too much salt that day, if you're on your period.. these things will throw off your number and you'll only become obessed. the best way to gauge progress is by inches lost and how your clothes fit.
losing the weight/getting toned:
1) DIET. the key to weight loss for me, especially after kids, is a clean diet. you all know and hear about weight loss being about 80% diet and it's true. as we age, the majority of us experience a slow-down in our metabolism so if you were able to eat anything in the past, workout a little and still see results, it's unlikely our bodies will react the same as we age. so what do i mean about a clean diet? it's a diet that is void of pre-packaged/processed/junk foods. no soda. limited amounts of sweets/desserts. actually, i almost never eat dessert. i say "almost never" because since jan 1 2012, i've only had dessert twice and it was more like a small spoon scoop of a cake. i eat fresh, wholesome foods every day. i drink water throughout the day. i eat 5-6 small healthy meals a day. my portions are 40% protein 30% healthy carbs, 30% healthy fats. i never feel like i'm depriving myself of food; in fact, i make sure i eat regularly and frequently and am never starving.
the first step to eating right FOR YOU, is figuring out your daily caloric intake for weight loss. you do this by understanding 3 values: your BMR (basal metabolic rate), the # cals you need to eat per day to maintain your weight and the # of cals you need to eat per day for weight loss. while all 3 values are important, the last value is what you need to stick too…. you do this by using the harris benedict equation. when you know how much you need to eat per day to lose weight, it's much easier to track and enables you to become aware of what you're putting in your mouth. the other 2 values are good to keep in mind simply because when you become more healthy and fit, you can then go back and either eat the # cals to maintain your weight or tweak these values if need be. as you get more healthy and fit and your body begins to burn more efficiently, it's always good to re-evaluate your caloric targets because chances are, you need to eat more. yes, i said MORE. through regular exercise, your body becomes more healthier and therefore, becomes more efficient at burning the fuel (food) and needs more to keep your metabolism running at its optimal level so you need to feed it more.
once you understand your caloric target for weight loss, begin tracking your food. myfitnesspal or sparkpeople are good apps that help you do this. this in turn educates you on what is good from a caloric perspective. sticking to a weight loss goal has plenty to do with education because when you know what you're doing, you're better armed at sticking to your goals/fitness program because you're more AWARE.
2) always eat your calories. if you calculate your calories to be 1800 calories per day (example), eat 1800 calories per day. scrimping on calories because you think it'll help accelerate weight loss is, for the most part, incorrect. i say "for the most part" because you also have to listen to your body. if, by 1600cals you are full, don't force yourself to eat an extra 200 cals just to hit your target. the calculations you did gives you a reference point so eat your cals if you can or get pretty close to it. there are days that i'm hungrier than others and on those days, i eat my full calories; there are days i'm about 400 cals short but i'm not hungry at all. with time, you'll become more aware of what works for you. btw, when you consistently scrimp on calories and you find yourself just on the verge of always being hungry, you aren't doing anything but messing with your metabolism. your body will think it's starving and will naturally begin to store everything as fat (an automatic defence mechanism against starvation).
3) eat 5-6 small, healthy meals a day. i learned a great eating plan from the insanity program: each of your meals should be about 300cals; multiply this by 5 meals per day and your total caloric consumption is 1500cals. depending on the number of cals/day you need (many women are around this range or slightly higher), you can then eat "food blocks" of about 100-200 cals to hit your target. so plan each meal to be about 300-350cals and then use those food blocks. by eating frequently, you are keeping your metabolism going at a steady pace and therefore, avoiding sugar crashes which only promotes binging.
4) drink water - and plenty of it. i carry around a big 8oz water bottle with me where ever i go. i take sips of it throughout the day and target to refill it at least 4 times per day. a well-hydrated body is less likely to binge or feel constantly hungry. if you start to feel snackish, drink a bit glass of water and wait about 15mins. most of the time, the craving will go away.
3) start exercising. whether you used to be a gym rat or if you have never exercised in your life, start small/light. do not go all out on day 1 otherwise you'll be so sore the next day and won't be able to move. you want to set yourself up to succeed, so start small and don't be ashamed that you can't do a push-up or you can't lift 5lbs for more than 4 reps. everyone has to start somewhere and this is your starting point. who the fuck cares if that's all that you can do? you won't be stuck there forever, right? when i first started, i couldn't even do more than 3 regular pushups without collapsing. i started out with 3lbs weights and struggled. now, i can do 35-40 pushups, curl 20lbs, squat 50lbs (on one leg!), press 30lbs and plank like nobody's business. it took me months to get there but with time and always challenging myself, i did it.
when you start exercising, cardio and weight training is the most effective way to lose weight. you can't spot-reduce so cardio will blast overall body fat and the weights will help build lean muscle mass which in turn, will continue to torch calories even at rest. lean muscle mass is what helps with long-term weight management and helps keep you trim.
always challenge yourself with exercise; it's the only way to develop and get better. if you can only do 5 reps while lifting 5lbs, then the next time you work out, do 6 reps. continue to add another rep until you finally hit your target number of reps. when i started lifting and started out with 5lbs, my target # of reps was 12 per arm (2 sets). at first, i could only do 8 so i finished both sets doing 8 reps each. the next time, i did 9 reps for both sets. the next time, i did 10. sometimes i couldn't do 10 so i stayed at 9 until the next time and would push myself to 10. other times i felt i could do more so i did more etc. when i finally hit my target # reps and finished each set hitting my target rep #, i switched to a higher weight the next workout. this is how i built my strength.
cardio is the same. if you can only do 15mins on the treadmill on a 2.5 incline and a pace of 3.0, then the next time, do 16mins or do 15mins but on a 3.5 incline and a faster pace. the key is to always challenge yoruself and keep pushing yourself. every miniscule change, every added rep, every minute you add, you are only making yourself better than the last time.
when i started insanity, i couldn't even get through the warmup without feeling like throwing up or taking extra breaks. for 3 weeks, i had to take more breaks than the allocated time but each time i did the workout, i would always push and say to myself: this time, i'm going to do the entire heisman and switch kicks with no breaks. i kept on doing this untnil finally, i could get through the workout and only take the allocated breaks (took me a long time to get there too!).
4) exercise and eating go hand in hand. you exercise and expend calories. you eat to fuel your body. do not be afraid of adding more calories if you need it. when your body becomes more fit and toned, chances are you need more food to keep your metabolism going because it burns through everything you eat. this is normal! this is also why it's important to recheck your caloric targets every 2 months or so to make sure that you're eating what you need to eat.
on the other hand, you can't train your way out of a crappy diet. if you are always eating junk or bad foods, your caloric consumption will be way over and you won't see any results. you NEED a clean diet in order to see the hard work you're doing.
most of all, BE PATIENT! you will not lose weight overnight so give your body time to change. although you may not see any external results for a while, your healthy changes are doing wonderful things INTERNALLY to your body that you cannot see. don't lose faith, eat right, exercise and know that you're setting yourself up for a long life of health and happiness (because exercising and accomplishing your goals definitely makes you feel so badass).
like i said, i'm not a fitness guru or a persoanl trainer. these are the steps that i took to lose all the weight, get toned/fit and hit all my fitness goals. feel free to post any questions if you have any. sorry for the long post