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The Super Stealth Fat Loss Destroyer and How to Beat It

The Super Stealth Fat Loss Destroyer and How to Beat It

Posted on 30. May, 2011 by .

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You may not notice this super stealth fat loss destroyer until it has done its damage, you’ve gained several pounds, and you’re left wondering, “what the heck happened?” I’m talking about the transitions we go through in life whether they are big or small, good or bad. This can come in the form of moving in with your significant other, getting married, moving into a different city, losing a job, getting injured, breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend, getting a new job, losing a loved one, etc. You get the idea. Most of the time, these transitions throw us off our “game” in many ways but most of the time we are not even aware that it’s happening and what it’s doing to us.

change

I’ve definitely have had this happen to me when I decided to quit my job and start a fitness bootcamp from scratch along with my husband deploying to the middle east. Thinking back now, this was a good change in my life because I was leaving a job I was not happy with and moving towards a career I was truly passionate about. But, the combination of the lack of structure in my day and the stress of starting a business ( which is like taking care of a new born baby) in addition to losing my main support system soon took its toll on me and I started to turn to things that were comforting to me. Ten (10) pounds of weight gain later, I was wondering how I got there.

What Makes Us Gain Weight During Transitions in the First Place?

In life, we learn everything after the fact – usually. Looking back to my behavior during that major transition from employee to business owner, I realized that I was turning to food for comfort. I discovered that a lot of people tend to do the same thing no matter how good or bad the change the’yre experiencing. We can turn to food because you’re really happy and in love with someone or we can also turn to food when we’re feeling really down. Personally, I turned to food for comfort because it was the only thing that was familiar to me in this new situation I found myself in.

For other people, it can be that their routine has been affected by moving in with their significant other or just being in a different place. For instance, if a woman moved in with her boyfriend, she may find that she eats out with her boyfriend more because he’s not used to cooking at home. If she was used to cooking at home and able to control her calorie intake that way and all of a sudden she starts dining out more often, there is no doubt that she will gain weight. Another example would be someone who had a job that requires them to be active and transitioning to a desk job without changing their eating habits.

The Best Thing to Do When in Transition

what_to_do_in_transition

We have so many choices available to us nowadays. But, when we are out of our element, we end up choosing the wrong ones and we do not notice how these choices have affected us until the shit hits the fan (not a good situation to be in). Part of this is due to the fact that we get bombarded with useless information sometimes that we forget to pay attention to the things that truly matter – like our health. It is unfortunate because this is how most people tend to “let go” of their healthy lifestyle and their waistline. This is the reason I wanted to write about this here at my blog to bring it to our attention so we can do something about it when it does happen.

The first step to taking action in anything is becoming aware that a change is happening and acknowledge what it can possibly do to our health. Ask yourself a few key questions like will this change affect my workout routine, my activity level, how I prepare meals, or where I get my food from (cooked at home vs. dining out)? Is the new situation so stressful that I will not be able to get at least 7 hours of sleep or get enough time to rest? Most transitions are not simple. There are usually several factors at play that cause a big shift in your lifestyle.

Nip it in the Bud

Once you are aware, you then decide what your course of action will be. Fortunately, it’s easier to get back to your usual workout and nutrition routine once you have established it for a couple of years because you have created some pretty strong positive habits. The problem occurs when the new situation throws you off completely and all of a sudden you feel like you don’t have any control over anything. This is when the problem usually starts. When this happens, you’ll have to find out what exactly is causing you to feel out of control.

When in doubt, I would start with how I feel. There are usually some strong emotional reasons behind our food choices and whether we decide to exercise or not. Going back to my story, the things that threw me off my game the most were stress from the new business and the feeling of sadness when my husband deployed. These are two major transitions I didn’t anticipate and I almost felt like I was in depression. Granted, I still worked out but there were days when my nutrition choices were so poor that it made me feel even worst.

Back then, I was so immersed in my emotions that I could not observe what was happening to me and look at it objectively. I felt like I self-medicated with food just to numb out the stress and sadness I was feeling. I imagine that most people going through any transition would probably feel similar to how I felt and most of the time that it’s difficult to even think straight.

Looking back to those days (almost 1.5 years ago), I would take some time to analyze what I’m feeling and deal with it the best way possible (instead of shoving it deeper and self-medicating with food), set a schedule where I am getting enough time for work, play, and rest; surround myself with supportive, positive people; and follow a nutrition and exercise plan that has more flexibility and will not add stress to my life until I can do my regular schedule. To tell you the truth, this is exactly what I did but it just took me a lot longer to realize what I needed to do to get back on track.

I hope you learned a lesson or two from this post because I feel that this is something everyone will go through at some point in their life. The first step is to be aware (of anything and everything) that goes on around you. Once you do that, all you have to do is to take positive steps until you start to feel better and feel like your normal self again.

negativity-change1

On a lighter note, change can be a really good thing. We’ll just have to make up our minds how it will affect our lives.

Have you experienced a minor or major transition in your life that threw you off your game? If so, what was it and what did you do to over come it?

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3 Ways to Break the Fat Loss Plateau

3 Ways to Break the Fat Loss Plateau

Posted on 24. Jun, 2009 by .

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I want to pull my hair everytime I overhear someone say that people reach a fat loss plateau because they are gaining muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. While this is true – this little known fact has been misconstrued over and over again because people want to believe that they are not losing weight because they are gaining muscle.

First, I’m a firm advocate of taking your body fat measurements as an added assessment of your progress besides your weight. You can read more about this topic in this post –>
“3 Reasons Why the BMI is obsolete”. In short, measuring your body fat gives you a more accurate idea of whether your losing or gaining fat and losing or gaining muscle mass.

So, what can you do when you reach a fat loss plateau?

It all goes down to your calorie deficit. Despite all the hype on fat loss, new fitness equipments, diet pills, fad diets, etc., fat loss only occurs when you are spending more calories than you are consuming – a very basic principle yet it is also very powerful.

Below, you will read about 2 simple guidelines that would be perfect for people who have been doing structured workouts and who have a good idea of their daily calorie intake. If you’re not one of those people, don’t despair. Read all the way to the end and I have a few suggestions for you as well.

#1 Increase Your Physical Activity

For people who have a structured exercise routine, increasing physical activity just might be the answer to create a deeper calorie deficit. For instance, I do my kettlebell training 3 times a week and perform some type of light activity on my light days. In order to burn more calories than I am eating without changing my calorie intake, I can add 2 additional days in which I can do high intensity intervals on the treadmill or at the local park. I can do these intervals either on my days off or at the end of my kettlebell training. Either way, adding the intervals would not likely impair me for my actual workouts but, in the end, I will be burning more calories than usual.

Intervals Outdoors

Intervals Outdoors

Besides burning more calories, increasing and adding a different type of physical activity will add variety to the stress that is place on your body. By doing this, you are sort of putting your body into “shock” and giving it a nice surprise to boost your metabolism. Every now and then, your body needs a different type of activity because it is an efficient system that can adapt to stress especially if that stress is exercise.

If you decide to add your extra activity on your off days, you will also take advantage of the effect called, “Excess Post Oxygen Consumption or EPOC.” Basically, after the stress caused by any form of physical activity, EPOC is the body’s response to bring your body back to where is was before the exercise – this stage is called “homeostasis” which means everything is on the “same, stable condition.” In order to do this, your body needs to use your body’s “stored energy” to restore your normal bodily functions which will increase your metabolism and, ultimately, the calories you burn.

#2 Reduce Your Food Portions

So, nothing has changed in your diet. You’ve been keeping it “clean.” How come you’re still not losing weight? I would suggest doing #1 first and see what happens. If after you’ve increased your physical activity and you reached a plateau again or your body fat measurements are still not moving then, it’s time to look at your nutrition.

At some point, even people who have developed a healthy eating lifestyle or whose nutrition does not deviate much from healthy eating (i.e. eat the right foods, know how many calories are in each meal, eat a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and fat etc.) will reach a fat loss plateau.

One reason why this happens is: they are no longer in a calorie deficit. Ok, let me explain by giving an example from my own experience. When I initially calculated by calorie deficit at 130 lbs, I was eating 1,690 (130 lbs x 13 – for simplicity purposes) calories per day. But, once I lost some weight and I’m down to 117 lbs, this calorie deficit requirement also goes down to 1,521 (117 lbs x 13) calories per day. So, if I kept eating as if I was still 130 lbs, my calorie deficit obviously gets smaller to the point that I’m eating closer to maintenance.

So, if this sounds like your situation, it might be time to calculate your calorie deficit again. You can do that by going –> here.

If you’re not the calorie counting type, you can simply reduce your food portions. For example, if you’re used to eating 1 cup of brown rice, reduce it to 1/2 a cup. If you eat a small snack at night, it might be good to take that out for a little bit. These are simple ways to cut your calories without being too obsessive compulsive with calorie counting.

#3 Start a workout and nutrition log

This is the tip for those who don’t follow structured workouts or don’t have a good idea of their calorie intake. There’s really no easy way to put this – you’ve got to find a structured workout and at least have an idea about the calorie contents in food. These logs are a way for you to track your progress or drawbacks because if you have a record of what you did, you will be able to tweak certain parts of it in order to generate change (then, do #1 and #2).

Finding structured workouts is not difficult these days. Besides Turbulence Training, there are many web sites out there that give away free workouts that are effective for fat loss. So, there’s really no excuse to scratch your head at the gym anymore because you’re wondering which exercise to do next (been there, done that, never going back).

As far as nutrition goes, Sparkpeople.com is a great place to find healthy recipes, count your calories, and keep a log of your nutrition. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to count calories all the time (I don’t like to do it either) but it is the only way to develop a keen sense of the calorie contents in foods. Once you’re familiar with this, you won’t have to do it at all if you don’t want to.

Fat loss is not easy but it can be simple. There is a learning curve in this journey but if you educate yourself and follow the right advice, you will be ahead of the game and you will save yourself a lot of headache and frustrations in the long run. I always say that the “hard way” is usually not the easiest way but its probably the shortest, most effective way to getting results.

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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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