Despite our currently volatile political climate, the title of this week’s post is not about the ugly mess in D.C., but rather about the continuing tendency to single out carbs and calories by those seeking to lose body fat. This past weekend my nephew mentioned that his entire office was going to stop eating carbs and wanted him to join in. He cited all my reasons why that is an ill-advised way to permanently lower body fat levels, but they ignored him/me.
A few days later my niece was ordering a salad and I advised her to add protein onto it (for her fitness goals) and she lamented that doing so heavily increased the calories. Once again, the top two faux pas “dieters” make is to eliminate carbs and calories!
Therefore, today I want to once again strongly advise you all to stop seeing carbs or calories as the enemy and start seeing nutrition as one tool (vs. obstacle) in your quest for a healthy lifestyle that facilitates proper and permanent fat loss.
Carbs are necessary! They are essential to providing the energy required to get through your day, least of which is to get you through a killer workout (another necessary element of fat loss). Carbs come in two primary forms – “healthy” (aka complex carbs) and “crap” (aka simple carbs) – and this is where the confusion sets in for most people. By lumping all carbs together and then avoiding them, you are not only reducing your primary energy source, but you are also robbing your body’s “muscle-rebuilding” of nutrients required to burn the fat while building up lean muscle tissue.
Any overly-processed snack foods (chips, crackers, cookies, etc.), breads and pastas are “crap” carbs. But things like vegetables, nuts, whole grains (including certain breads and crackers), and fruits are “healthy” carbs. You’ll need them to successfully lower body fat levels, and because you’re not restricting something from your system, there will be no “bounce back” (regaining of body fat) once you stop the restriction (dieting).
As for calories, once again, the reason counting calories became a societal focus back in the 80’s was because Americans on the whole were over-eating, and over-indulging in a lot of “crap” foods. While counting calories is a great way to make one aware of how much they’re consuming, the down side is that the focus is on a number and NOT on WHAT they’re putting into their body.
If you simply pay more attention to the quality of foods ingested, and the consistency of intake (how much and how often you eat), you do not need to count calories. Unless you’re eating high-fat, high-sugar, and/or overly-processed foods, a moderately balanced daily nutrition intake, with a regular quantity of effective exercise is all that’s required to ultimately shift your body from over-fat to healthy.
So stop pointing fingers and blaming passive nutrition for your fat gain, and start exercising regularly and eating healthy balanced nutrition (with allowances for the less healthy foods that you enjoy) and you will change your body for the better and not have to anguish over the micro-management of your food.
The door on 2014 is closing tonight and a brand new shiny hope-filled door called 2015 awaits you. Once again you face another opportunity to set goals, make “resolutions” and attempt to achieve them. Unfortunately every year many people fail at those goals within the first three months (for one reason or another), and then resign themselves to trying once more in the next new year. Well this is the year that cycle can stop for you. It’s easier than you think – here are three tips to help you achieve your goals whether they be getting in better shape (fat loss), career enhancement, or better relationships.
WORK IN INCREMENTS.
Having a big picture goal is important (losing a % of fat or scale weight, finishing courses that will enhance your career, etc.) but success is easier to achieve if you work in increments – 10 lbs. at a time, one class per quarter. Set a realistic time line for achieving each increment, make sure you have someone keeping an eye on your progress (holds you accountable), and use your phone or calendar so schedule daily time increments where you work on said goals.
Seeing and feeling the completion of each increment and it’s furtherance of you toward your goals keeps your motivation fresh. Also, by making sure that each day you attend to those goals (daily workout, time spent on homework) it sets you into a routine that will soon be hard to ditch.
FIND A FRIEND.
All goals in life that are worth pursuing are worth sharing. Support systems are the key to success in everything in life. As long as your goals are realistic and attainable, and cause no harm to those around you – everyone will be in your court and gladly help you. – you just have to ask! Buddy up with a friend to share weekly updates on your nutrition and exercise achievements AND set backs. Put together a group of people who are seeking to enhance their careers and have a weekly “mastermind” meeting where you help each other think outside the box and network. Schedule a weekly “catch up hour” where you and your significant other, child, or friend talk, share and reconnect.
TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK IS OK.
Set backs are NOT failures. Life for most of us is a series of a few steps forward combined with one or two steps back. If you give up every time you have a set back, your life will stay stagnant and unmoving. Embrace the set backs, learn from them, and make sure the next set back is something different. In my experience, failures cut a path to success if you allow yourself to learn from them.
So take a deep breath and open the door to 2015 with the knowledge that you can achieve ANYTHING you want if you simplify and stay focused. I’m here, as always, to offer my support, guidance and expertise. Happy healthy new year to you all!
Today I thought I would do a little “Dear Abby” and share some of the emails I have received lately. I choose three, which represent the most common questions I am asked:
“I’ve been eating very healthy and working out for about six months now, but a lot of my friends and family say I workout too much and eat too crazy. How do you know if you’re doing too much? How much time should I devote to my workouts, and can I ever treat myself to junk food?
If you’ve followed my blog and Facebook pages, you know my motto is everything in moderation. Unless you’re training for a sports-specific goal, the average amount of time spent on your fitness goals should be no more than 30-60 minutes a day, with at least one day off every five days (ideally working out only five times a week). As for your nutrition, depriving yourself of something you love will only end up in you over-indulging on that very thing. I still enjoy wine and chocolate on a regular, but limited basis. Get your cake and eat it too, but only sporadically.
“It seems no matter what I do, how few calories I consume, and how much cardio I do, I can’t seem to lose the weight. I’ve had my thyroid checked, I’ve stopped eating gluten, sugar, and most carbs, but I still have tummy and thigh fat that won’t come off. I’m very frustrated!”
This is the most common complaint I hear from my clients, and all aspects of my answer have already been stated in one article or another in this blog. So forgive me being repetitious but clearly it needs to be restated: successfully getting your body in shape, i.e., lowering your body fat, is not about excessive cardio, restricting and counting calories, or participating in fad diets or exercise regiments. Success comes from consistent, yet always challenging workout routines performed effectively (e.g., good form and correct pace) combined with eating enough of the correct type of calories (which does include carbs and healthy fats), getting enough rest, and managing your stress. If any one of these elements are not in place, you will not succeed. Lastly, I must remind you all again, that there is no way to “spot reduce” body fat. Just like you didn’t control where the fat deposited, you cannot control what body part reduces it first. You can only control your percentage of over-all body fat and the tone of ALL of your muscles!
“In the last year I have alternated my workouts between P90X, Insanity, Cross Fit, Zumba, and Tabata. I feel bored and unenthusiastic and am finding it harder and harder to get the energy to workout. What can I do, what’s left?”
I find that motivation is best renewed by successes. Therefore, I always recommend to my clients that they set small attainable goals and keep their focus on those goals. Then variety is less important than the challenge of the goal. For example, if you set a goal of being able to perform 25 burpees non-stop, and 20 plyo-box jumps at 24″ height – it may take you one week, it may take two months, but your focus will remain on something outside of your body’s shape.
Your workouts will consist of various exercises all geared to increase your stamina, agility, and core strength. Your enthusiasm will maintain throughout the goal period because each day/week you’ll get a little closer to success. Imagine how “fueled” your enthusiasm would be if you discovered after barely being able to complete five burpees, you could now do 10 or 15, on your way to your goal of 25. At the end of one year where you’ve continued to achieve your goals, not only will your body be in tip-top shape, but your enthusiasm will anot have waned, and your motivation will keep you always moving forward.
If any of these questions resonate with you, I hope my answers offer some helpful guidance. If you wish to ask me for any other advice, please feel free to contact me. Ariana@danelifefitness.com Now go workout!