Archive for 'Motivation'

Listening to Your Body

Posted on 12. Mar, 2009 by .

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Last week, I felt very weak at the gym – relatively. By relative, I mean that I could barely lift the weights that I normally wouldn’t have a difficult time lifting. At the same time, I also couldn’t perform my usual number of repetitions/sets. On most days, I would just shrug this situation off and keep on going with the workokut because my strength usually improves once the Adrenalin kicks in. But, on this day, it really bothered me. It got me into thinking about what could be causing such an episode.

My initial thoughts went to what I did a few hours right before my workout:

  • I just finished my second fast for the week at lunch.
  • I didn’t eat my usual snack which I usually have at about 2 hours pre-workout.
  • I haven’t been drinking my water.
  • I downed a double espresso about 30 minutes before my workout.

As you can see, there are many possible culprits so I had to really pin it down to one or a few. I really think that fasting was out of the equation because I have been fasting on the same schedule and same frequency for quite some time and I haven’t experienced such effects. At the same time, I broke my fast with a bigger meal than usual (about 600 calories instead of the usual 300 calories) So, the lack of snack is probably not the reason either.

The last two things on that list really got me into thinking. I’m usually pretty good at drinking my water or tea throughout the day but I was so busy at work that I just completely ignored my drinks even though it was right there in front of me. If there is one thing I’ve learned in health and fitness, I definitely know that hydration can affect your performance at the gym. After all, we are made up of 55-60% water right?

I am also not used to drinking caffeinated drinks after 3 p.m. so this was new for me as well. I have heard of people drinking lots of caffeine to power up their workouts but for some people (like yours truly) may respond differently.

Another reason that came to my head was lack of rest in between workouts. I haven’t missed a gym workout for the last 12 consecutive weeks prior to this particular week but I did take one day off from the gym. Craig Ballantyne usually suggests taking a weeks worth of rest after going to the gym for 12 weeks but I was too stubborn to take a full week.

So what’s the lesson of the story? Listen to your body and be mindful of the things that you do prior to your workout because the little things that we do can have a big effect on our performance at the gym.

As for me, my upper body (mainly my arms and back) were actually sore for two days after that “weak” workout. It turns out, I may have pushed myself hard enough to elicit a response from my muscle fibers even though I felt like I could’ve done pushed myself harder after I left the gym that day. So if or when you have one of these moments at the gym, know when to stop. Your body can be a well-oiled machine (like this workout from Straight to the Bar) on most days but even the best ones need a rest or break down every now and then.

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Better than Prozac?

Posted on 09. Mar, 2009 by .

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The other day I woke up feeling like blah. It was one of those days when you don’t feel like doing anything or getting up from bed, especially if the first task of the day is to go to the gym. It was a Sunday after all and, to me, there’s something about Sundays that makes me just want to chill. I gotta admit that it’s not my favorite day of the week. Yes, most of us don’t work on Sundays but, this day is not like Friday or Saturday which are days when you don’t have to go to work the next day. Maybe it’s also the fact that my Sundays are pretty much filled with a bunch of things that I need to finish to get ready for the upcoming work week.

So, the all too familiar debate of whether or not to go to the gym ran in my head for several minutes until I found myself getting dressed and drinking my protein shake before I can even convince myself that it’s ok to take the day off from the gym.

I was glad that I did.

This was what I was feeling before I went to the gym: tired, thinking that life sucks, overwhelmed by all the things I needed to do, dreading the day ahead etc.

Now, this was what I felt after I left the gym: energized, life is great, looking forward to doing all the things that I need to do etc.

In fact, I felt so good that after my usual strength training and intervals, I went home and walked my puppy for a mile, I baked some yummy (but healthy) muffins, cooked dinner, cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen, and the dishwasher, gave my puppy a bath, packed my food for Monday and a bunch of other things. Wow! Seeing all that written down makes me seem like the Energizer bunny. What’s more amazing is – that is really how I felt.

Is it better than Prozac? Well, I can’t say that for everyone because some people really need prescription medication to treat certain problems but, it certainly wouldn’t hurt a lot of people if they just add some form of exercise to their lifestyle. Besides the possibility of having a nice, lean body, the mood elevating effects of exercises can be very gratifying — that is, if you worked hard enough to get the HGH flush (read this post by Rusty Moore for more info about the HGH flush).

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t like pain. I’m not a masochist in any shape or form but, working hard and kicking my butt in the gym gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure while Adrenalin gives you that feeling of satisfaction. Taking the geeky terms out of the equation – this just means that I drag myself to the gym because of its mood enhancing effects while taking into account that these effects are completely different from the leisurely act of giving in to a craving. But, it is a healthier and enjoyable alternative nonetheless.

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Reminiscing About My Fat Loss Journey

Posted on 22. Feb, 2009 by .

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This past weekend, I really got into thinking about how far I have come in terms of my fitness journey. I am definitely way stronger, more disciplined, and more knowledgeable about health and fitness compared to when I first started.

There was one fact that really struck me today and which I still remember vividly. I remember that when I decided to finally get my butt back in the gym, I slowly shed my first 10 lbs without even changing my diet. So, just the added strength training and cardio activities helped jump start my fat loss in the right direction.

Why am I telling you this?

A lot of people who decide to lose weight for the first time get overwhelmed by the many diet supplements in addition to the many contradicting diet and exercise research data from the media (i.e. television, internet, newspapers, magazines, etc.) today. But, one thing that many people overlook is the power of action. “Just DO it” – the Nike ad says.

The worst thing that a person can do when a person is overwhelmed is inaction. So even if you don’t have an exercise and nutrition plan in hand, the little actions that you start today can help get you started in your weight loss journey. Then, once you’re done with your first step, take each day or each week as an opportunity to try and learn new things such as cooking healthy meals, finding free fitness routines, joining a fitness class, etc. The key is to take baby steps. Things don’t happen overnight – you didn’t gain the weight overnight, you won’t lose it overnight, and you can definitely not learn everything overnight.

Now, do I wish that I knew a lot of the things that I know today when I first started? Yes, I really wish I did. But, because I learned things in little pieces, I was also able to find which strategies worked for me and which ones didn’t. By learning things on a day to day basis, I was able to more effectively incorporate little changes into my life. The result? I eventually developed healthier habits instead of jumping on and off the latest diet fad that came up. In the end, I am glad at where I am now even though it was, and still is, a slow, trial and error process.

So, if you’re a beginner and don’t know where to start – just DO something even if you’re not sure it’s going to work or not. In terms of nutrition, here’s an article that can get you started in the right direction:

Best Foods for Fat Burning
By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Turbulence Training for Fat Loss

I couldn’t be any simpler with my nutrition recommendations for fat burning. You will get have the most energy and the best body and fitness level possible if you eat whole, natural foods. I always ask Dr. Chris Mohr, author of the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss Nutrition Guidelines if I ever need help with nutrition information.

You must avoid processed foods, which is pretty much anything in a bag or a box. So cut out muffins, donuts, pre-packaged cereals, white bread, pasta, chips, crackers, cookies, etc.

We need to return to a time of simpler eating, focusing on fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It will take some “bad habit breaking” to rid yourself of your addiction to processed foods, but in your journey you will learn to appreciate the taste of REAL food again.

You don’t have to eat meat to lose fat and build muscle, but it’s not unhealthy to eat beef, chicken, and fish. In fact, fish contains essential fatty acids we can’t do without.

You might have heard about the importance of healthy fats, which is a big turn-around from the low-fat mentality of the 80’s and 90’s. We now know eating fish and nuts won’t make us fat, but will in fact make us healthy and help control our appetite.

So just focus on foods that haven’t been processed, and you’ll start to see changes in your body and energy levels in a matter of days. Get rid of the processed foods and you won’t be tired anymore!

I strongly believe nutrition is the MOST important factor in fat loss and in health. If you’re eating processed foods, trans-fats, and too many calories, you won’t get maximum benefits from your exercise program, no matter what you are doing. Nutrition can either heal you or kill you, so choose wisely. Fortunately, the right choices are the simple choices.

I’ve had clients that switched to whole, natural foods and almost overnight they’ve reported changes in their bodies and huge increases in mental energy. So stick with the simple nutrition approach for fat burning.

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training Fat Loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit Turbulence Training for Fat Loss.

Still stumped? Check out this comprehensive article by Chris over at Zen to Fitness – Zen to Fitness for the Busy Person. He really does a great job of summarizing a lot of important and effective health and fitness information in this article.

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So, This is How it Feels

Posted on 17. Feb, 2009 by .

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“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

Today, I was having an “off” day. It’s just one of those days when I wonder what life really is all about – what going to the gym and eating healthy, having a career, making money, and going to work etc. are all about. While I don’t have an answer to all the other things that makes up life, I do have an answer to why I wanted to live a healthier and more active lifestyle. I asked you your reasons last week but today I delve into all the many other reasons that keep me going and help me fight off temptations (may that be either food or not wanting to go to the gym). On an “off” day, I needed as many reasons as I possibly can think of.

It really wasn’t difficult to come up with this list because I experience some of these things on a daily basis. While there are times when my will power wanes, these are the reasons that keep me going in the right direction:

  • uncovering the muscles I never thought I had
  • saving money on possible medical bills
  • having a better outlook in life as a result of a healthier, more active lifestyle
  • wearing smaller clothes
  • looking better in the mirror
  • wanting to wipe off the fog from the bathroom mirror so you can stare at your body some more
  • fitting better in clothes
  • clothes shopping being fun again
  • finding great deal on clothes that are on sale because everybody else is too big to fit in them
  • being able to run faster than you ever though possible
  • lifting heavier weights and graduating from the pansy 5 pound dumbbells I used to lift
  • gaining self-confidence to the point that you don’t even care if you’re wearing make up in public anymore
  • looking forward to show off your new bod in the summer in a nice, sexy bikini ( or shorts if you’re a guy – it just doesn’t sound as sexy as a bikini…lol)
  • seeing the envious stares of your girl friend or other girls after not seeing them for awhile
  • knowing that you’re doing something good to your body and that the prospect of growing old or having babies do not scare you anymore because you know that if you keep going this way, you can face those challenges head on

I can come up with an even longer list but I still have to get some sleep. So even with these many reasons to living a healthy lifestyle, people still find many excuses even though deep down inside they know that they need to make a change and they need to make it soon.

I will then leave you with a post from a Turbulence Training member, Tabitha, in one of her realizations of great changes she had made to her body so far. I couldn’t have said it any better:

“I am continually amazed at the changes in my body. I’m sure you all have your own stories & experiences. There have been times where I go to scratch my leg & am shocked at how “hard” it is. Or my sides. The other day I was standing talking to Tom (her husband) about something & I kept rubbing my arms. He asked why I was doing that & I replied “they don’t feel like my arms.” It’s just such a good feeling to be making these changes. And I’m doing it…something only I can do. Feels empowering. Plastic surgeons can remove fat, give you a tummy tuck or face lift. But they cannot give you muscle or make you stronger!”

Need more reasons? check out this post from Life Spot light about Keeping the End in Mind.

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Prepare Your Way to a Leaner You

Posted on 09. Feb, 2009 by .

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“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.”

I can’t remember how many times I have heard this quote before but I remember how powerful it was the very first time I read it. It really is true in many aspects of our lives and it is especially true when it comes to losing weight or body fat or blubber or whatever you want to call it.

When I’m not fasting, I plan to eat 5 meals a day – not snacks but meals. Do you know how daunting of a task that is for a person who spends 2.5 hours in commuting time, work a full time job; take care of the husband, the dog, and myself; go to the gym three times a week; put in some kind of “light” workout (I put in the quotations because sometimes my light activities are not so light anymore) on the days I don’t go to the gym; etc. etc. So, when I was first learning more about losing the ever elusive belly fat and learned that I had to eat 5-6 (six meals is mostly for the men who have higher calorie requirements – lucky them!) meals a day, I knew I had to make some adjustments and cough up some self-discipline.

This discipline required me to plan a whole week’s worth of meals ahead of time and set a time during the weekend to cut up all the ingredients that I will be cooking throughout the week. So, this is how I do it:

  • Thursday: start looking for recipes for 3 different entrees, 1 breakfast, and 2 handy snacks to cook for next week.
  • Friday: start a grocery list of my ingredients and check the fridge and pantry for stuff that I already have. Go grocery shopping
  • Saturday afternoon: cut up all the vegetables and cook one entree for dinner.
  • Sunday afternoon: cook two more snacks that I can take to work besides leftovers
  • Monday and Wednesdays (non-gym days): Cook the other two entrees.

I realize that it looks like I do a lot of cooking which I do but it doesn’t take much of my time because I already cut up all my vegetables on Saturday night. At the same time, my snacks need very little cooking time or no cooking at all.

After buying Precision Nutrition recently, I actually had to take out my food processor because I had to cut up a LOT of vegetables. I remember not having any success with this kitchen equipment because I thought that I can put whole vegetables in there — wrong! While I still have to cut my vegetables into small enough pieces so that they can get cut up into even smaller pieces, I do save a fair amount of time IF I’m cutting all my vegetables at the same time. But, if I only need to cut one or two vegetables then, a knife and a cutting board will be sufficient. To give you an idea of how much vegetables I prepare during the weekend, see the picture on the left side.

Prepared Vegetables

Prepared Vegetables

Also, take note that I own an inexpensive food processor like this one from Black and Decker (it was actually free from mom…lol).

After preparing all my ingredients for the rest of the week, I don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen during the week. All I need is to throw in all the ingredients in the pan or skillet and I have a meal in less than 20 minutes. Here is an example of my menu from Gourmet Nutrition:

  • Saturday, Entree 1: Asian Chicken Veggie Stir Fry
  • Monday, Entree 2: Braised Beef in a Red Wine Sauce
  • Wednesday, Entree 3: Peruvian Chicken
  • Snack 1: 1 apple with 1 cup plain yogurt and half a scoop protein powder (no cooking time)
  • Snack 2: Mixed Nut Bar from Gourmet Nutrition (only takes 20 minutes to prepare and bake)
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal Pancakes or Spinach and Mushroom Omelet

This menu would be enough for me and my husband to eat 5-6 meals a day because I would also double the amount of ingredients required in the recipes. This way, I can take left overs to work for lunch or a snack.

I pretty much stock up on Spinach in my fridge because I can alway use them in my omelet or in a salad. Because of that, I have to find ways to keep it fresh. So, I remember learning this technique from my roommate in college who grew up in a farm. Basically, I wash the Spinach all at once then, drain the water from it as much as I can. After that, I lay 2-3 pieces of paper towel on the kitchen counter and wrap the spinach in the napkin. Then, it goes in a big Ziploc bag. If you prepare your Spinach this way, it stays fresh in the fridge for about 2 weeks (possibly longer).

Spinach

Spinach

So now that I have taken you through my food preparation strategies, you might be feeling overwhelmed – don’t be. I didn’t start out doing all these meal preparations right away. I started with small, baby steps which eventually became a habit. I can come up with many excuses not to prepare my meals but those excuses won’t do me any good. They would just prevent me from reaching my goals and living a healthier lifestyle. As for you, you can doing one habit today or this weekend such as preparing a healthy snack, stick to it for a few weeks.

If you want to jumpstart your way to weight loss by cooking and eating healthier meals, here are two free downloadable e-books from Precision Nutrition:


Gourmet Nutrition Desserts


Precision Nutrition Strategies

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What is your WHY?

Posted on 05. Feb, 2009 by .

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Yesterday, I read this speech transcript from Barefoot Executive, Carrie Wilkerson entitled, “What is your WHY?.” She basically talks about the reasons that drive her for staying committed in her business especially through tough times. When I read it, I related it in terms of my WHY for fat loss. God knows, I’d also want to be in business someday but that will require more attention from me later on (like later this month….lol).

So, what is my why for losing fat? It is not some B.S. about wanting to be around my children (which I don’t have yet) or getting healthy really – well, at least, it didn’t start out that way. At first, I was tired. I was tired of sitting down and seeing my belly fat spill over my jeans no matter how much I sucked it in. I was tired of shopping for clothes that looked better on the mannequin than they did on me. I wanted to buy clothes that looked great on me and reflected how I felt about myself. See, I never had self-esteem issues. I always thought that I looked better than the average Mary or Annie. I mean, I wasn’t supermodel hot but I knew I had some things going for me.

That was my WHY then – about 3 months ago. Like Carrie said in her speech, my WHY evolved because I have evolved. I never thought that I would ever be into fitness — or eating healthy for that matter. Now, I am a health nut and proud of it! So, once I have achieved some of my goals like losing 3 inches off my waist (thanks to Turbulence Training, healthy eating, hard work, and motivation), I moved on to my other WHYs. While I still want to be able to look in the mirror and see some of my ab muscles, I want to be able to say that I take care of myself and if taking care of myself means, eating 5 healthy meals a day and kicking my butt in the gym 3 days a week then, so be it.

My WHY also has something to do with not wanting to be just like everyone else. I don’t want to be “average” all my life. I want to be able to say that I am healthier and more fit compared to the average person. I want to be able to say that I can do this many push ups, I can squat this much pounds etc. I want to be able to say that I’ve accomplished something that some people only dream or think about.

Now that I’m on the subject of people, I just to say that they all mean well. Although, sometimes when you’re at a certain weight where you’re not fat but you’re not skinny – let’s just call it borderline fat – a lot of people will say, “girl, you’re not fat.” I’m thinking, “on whose standards, yours or mine?” The truth is, when I used to hear that from my friends, I was about 25 lbs overweight and had about 33% body fat. So yah, for my standards, I was fat. I didn’t want to wait until I was 100 lbs overweight before I did anything about it. So that was also a part of my WHY on top of the fact that I come from a family with a tendency to develop Diabetes.

Can I be honest with you? I never really thought of my WHY until I read Carrie’s speech last night. After writing this post, I am now more clear and even more motivated than ever before. I never believed people when they said that finding your WHy would be an emotional process but here I am sitting in front of my computer, early in the morning and I realize that there is more to this fat loss journey than I thought. So, whatever your reason is, think about it. Think about it long and hard and really search for it. Then, WRITE it down and really internalize it. This exercise just might be your biggest breakthrough if you haven’t been feeling motivated lately.

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How to Break Bad Habits

Posted on 29. Jan, 2009 by .

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If you saw my very first blog post regarding my goals for the next 12 weeks, you are about to hear from the person who really got me started in writing them. I am also coming to the end of my 4th week with my goals which means that I need to review them soon. I plan to write more about that next week. For now, I leave you with some words from my favorite trainer…

By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
www.TurbulenceTraining.com

We all have bad habits. Mine are checking email too frequently,
being unorganized, and not always eating enough to fuel full
recovery from my workouts.

Your bad habits might include too much snacking and cheating on
your nutrition plan, coming up with excuses to skip exercise, or
watching too much TV.

Bad habits are the reason we need coaches. One of my coaches is Lee
Milteer, who gave me the exercises below, that I want you to go
through to help you break your bad habits.

If you’ve been trying to lose fat and get lean by yourself, but
with no luck, isn’t it time to get professional help & social
support?

It’s hard to change. I know it. I battle against my bad habits all
the time, just like you do everyday. But each day I also make an
effort to overcome the bad habits, just as you should have a plan
in place to overcome your bad weight loss habits.

Don’t let insecurity, fear of failure, or the fear of the unknown
hold you back from making changes. Don’t be a victim. “Give yourself
PERMISSION to change,” Lee says.

So let’s take action. Print this page out. Now write down 3 excuses
you are using to avoid making the changes you need to succeed.

1.______________________________________________________________
2.______________________________________________________________
3.______________________________________________________________

How have these excuses affected your life? What have the excuses
stopped you from achieving? Write down 3 very important things that
you have missed out on because you’ve allowed yourself to make
excuses.

1.______________________________________________________________
2.______________________________________________________________
3.______________________________________________________________

Now how do you feel when you fall victim to one of your self-
sabotaging excuses?
______________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________

What benefits do you get from the excuse? Is it simply that you get
to remain in your comfort zone? That’s a big one for me. If I can
convince myself that I need to check my email, then I get to remain
in my comfort zone and avoid the hard work and fear of failure that
comes with writing an article. Or is it the fear of the unknown
that is holding you back? Write down 3 ways you benefit from making
excuses.

1.______________________________________________________________
2.______________________________________________________________
3.______________________________________________________________

So now we both know why we’ve created our excuses – to avoid
something. All we need to do now is find a way to overcome these
bad habits. I want you to write down 3 behaviors you want to stop.

1.______________________________________________________________
2.______________________________________________________________
3.______________________________________________________________

Now write down why you end up doing it…were you bored, fearful,
lazy, etc.

1.______________________________________________________________
2.______________________________________________________________
3.______________________________________________________________

Now give yourself the permission to change. “Envision the rewards
you will get when you make the change to your life and habits,” Lee
tells us. Give yourself a powerful list of reasons for fixing the
habit.

1.______________________________________________________________
2.______________________________________________________________
3.______________________________________________________________

Working on bad habits everyday will give you an incredible boost
in self-esteem and confidence. With each small successful
improvement you’ll build confidence to take on the bigger, badder
habits that are holding you back.

Remember, everyday we are a work in progress. You might have bad
days, but as long as you make overall improvement each week and
month – that is all that matters.

Lee also recommends charting your progress. I have said many times
before that you need to keep records of your workouts and
nutrition. Only then will you know what works and how much
improvement you have made.

And finally, get social support. Don’t expect to do this alone.

One research study from Stanford University concluded social
support was the #1 factor for success in an exercise program.

Get in shape for summer fast with Turbulence Training,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit www.TurbulenceTraining.com

You can also follow Craig’s blog at www.TurbulenceTraining.blogspot.com

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Why Weight is Just Another Number

Posted on 23. Jan, 2009 by .

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Isn’t it frustrating when that pointer on the scale doesn’t move in the direction you want? I have this same frustration lately but then I got to thinking what this number really means.

Weight (noun) – the amount or quantity of heaviness or mass; amount a thing weighs.

The definition of weight is basically just that – a representation of how heavy a person or a thing is. So, why is it that of all the health assessments available to us out there, weight is the most common obsession among those who are aiming for weight loss?

First, there is that term “weight loss.” People really mean that they want to lose fat when they say that they want to lose weight. And yet, weight loss has become such a household name that everyone bases their success on these numbers. To add to the problem, almost all dieting advertisements talk about the amount of weight lost on their products. Even the Biggest Loser which has access to health professionals and personal trainers measure their contestants success base on the percentage of their weight loss (By the way, I love the show but I wish they would measure other stuff too).

Second, weight is the easiest measure of progress. All you have to do is to step on that bathroom scale and you can see how many pounds or kilograms you have lost.

I don’t blame anyone for doing this because even today, I still look at the number on that bathroom scale and still get disappointed if I don’t see the results that I want to see. Just this morning, I’m guilty of stepping on that scale and being disappointed that I haven’t lost any pound since last week. But, the difference between then and now is that I have other ways to measure my success. Now, I just see my weight as just a number that will help me figure out other numbers (or signs) that are more important in measuring my progress.

What are better measurements?

Body fat percentage

While this assessment takes more skill and time than weighing yourself on the scale, it gives you a better idea of your body composition. So, for somebody who has 21% body fat at 120 lbs., 25.2 (120 x .21) lbs of this is body fat and the rest (120 lbs minus 25.2 lbs = 94.8 lbs) is lean body mass (mostly muscle). In this case, you are using that weight to figure out your body composition which is a better way to see your body – that is, in terms of how much fat and muscle you have. Here are the average* body fat percentage for men and women:

Age Up to 30 30 – 50 50 and up
Females 14 to 21% 15 to 23% 16 to 25%
Males 9 to 15% 11 to 17% 12 to 19%

*An average man or woman would be someone who is not overly obese or not too skinny.

Most personal trainers at local gyms can measure your body fat for you. But, your results would be more accurate if you have the same person measure it all the time (there would be less variation with your measurements if you do this). As for any measurement, take this number as a guideline, a starting point. It will serve as a feedback. It can tell you if you’re doing something right or if you need to adjust your nutrition or change your workout routine.

Pictures

Another great way to see your results is to take a picture every few weeks or so. Pictures are great because they make you see the big picture (for lack of a better word). If you have made some great progress over a few weeks, you can definitely see it in the pictures. On the other hand, if you didn’t do as well then, this will get you motivated to work harder. Pictures can tell you a lot. Take pictures at least once a month.

How your clothes fit you

Yes, this is even better. I remember one day, I had to put my belt on the very last hole to keep my pants up. At the same time, I had to go shopping for new clothes because I dropped a size or two. There is no greater feed back than that!

Measuring Tape

Sometimes I would see inches come off from measuring my waist and hips and yet I don’t see the pointer on the scale move. These measurements mean a lot because it tells you that you are still making progress even though the scale tells you otherwise.

All these other measurements or assessments tell you that it’s time to stop the weight obsession and start paying attention to other signs of your progress. I know that my weight used to dictate my mood for the day especially when I reach a weight loss plateau. It makes me forget about all the other progress that I have made. Now, I think about how much stronger I have gotten when I lift weights in the gym or how many inches I have lost so far or how great I look in my pictures.

So, the next time you step on that scale, take it with a grain of salt. It’s no big deal! It’s just a number. All you can do is keep doing what you think is right for your goals and trust the process.

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Weight Loss and Social Support

Posted on 21. Jan, 2009 by .

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Weekends are, by far, my worst enemy when it comes to eating unhealthy foods. Sometimes, my nutrition during the week would be spotless – lean proteins, vegetables, good carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, eat 5-6 meals a day, etc. Then, the weekend comes. All of a sudden, I lose my self-control. I give in to cravings and want to eat everything that I see on t.v. and on the restaurant menus.

Does this sound like you too?

Help is out there. Don't give up!

Help is out there. Don't give up!

It is a pretty common phenomenon among people who just started (heck, even long-timers like me) eating healthy or dieting for weight loss. Also, cravings are particularly difficult to resist if you are on a reduced-calorie diet. In addition, there is this idea in our heads that we want to reward ourselves for “being good” throughout the week that we want to have dessert, pizza, or whatever your cravings might throw at you. While one slice of pizza or sharing a dessert with a friend is fine, one cheat meal turns into a cheat day most of the time.

I have had a good two weeks of having good nutrition even over the weekends. But, this past weekend was just a disaster. Yes, I am guilty of the weekend binge. This just goes to show that motivation and will power can only take you so far. One important thing to realize is the value of social support in your quest to become leaner and healthier.

Don’t get me wrong, my husband is definitely supportive of all my efforts. I even enlisted him to keep me away from junk foods and sweets. However, because he loves me, he can’t help but give in to my whining sometimes…haha. Also, he can not completely relate to my situation because he is not going through it himself. So, when support at home is not enough, it is time to look for support outside of it.

After being upset at my actions and uncontrollable cravings, I immediately went to my virtual support group at ttmembers.com. In the members forum, I wrote a gloomy thread about my disastrous nutrition over the weekend. I did this because I needed somebody to pull me back up and say that I can do it even though I was sure that I can. Sometimes, I just had to hear it from people who are going through the same thing and have survived the dilemma. After only a few hours of writing on my thread, other members (who I feel are like my good friends already) responded with their words of support. It was then that I realized how valuable these people are to me because I immediately felt that I was ready to start another week, get back on the health and fitness wagon, and not let another weekend ruin all my efforts. At the same time, when I read other people’s posts and see that they are doing great with their workouts and nutrition, I tend to want to do the same. I just wished that I had posted about my weekend sooner rather than later – at least, not after I had my cheat weekend.

Even if I never meet any of my virtual friends personally, the level of accountability in the forums is high. People really do care to the point that they want you to succeed. I also experience the same thing when I post on the discussion boards at Sparkpeople which is also a great web site to find people who are probably experiencing the same problems/issues as I do.

You can even get more support other than the online forums from your relatives and friends. Although some of them may be truly supportive of your weight loss efforts, others may sabotage them (directly or indirectly). Very few of my friends and relatives were supportive. Having said this, my success was moslty met with a hint of jealousy. For instance, if I haven’t seen people after awhile and they noticed that I lost some weight, they usually point out the negatives. They would say things like, “your butt looks smaller” or “you look like you’re too skinny for your height” etc. Note that they are saying all these things when I had about 21% body fat but I looked skinnier because I was more toned (less fat, more muscle). I used to take their words seriously and even get hurt but now I know better. Now, I take their comments as a validation that I’m doing something right for my health and my body because I can see it through their eyes and I hear it through the words that they are not saying.

If you have the same situation with your friends and relatives as I do, you can find more support if you go to places where people try to live healthier lifestyles. You can meet people at the gym fitness classes, swimming classes, dance classes, etc. Heck, I even befriended my personal trainer! Help is out there and it’s easy to make friends. All you have to do is start the conversation.

That is it for my bit on social support. I can not stress how important this is to my past weight loss success and most likely my future struggles. So, I’ll leave you with this question then, where do you get your social support?

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