Life On Purpose

Day 25 : Happy Calories July 31, 2013

I believe food was meant to be enjoyed. Real, nourishing, whole foods. Our culture is so accomplishment driven that we could probably count the number of meals we shared at the table with our families in a given week on one hand. When we count calories, I think it robs us of the joy and pleasure of eating. I encourage you to shift the focus from how much you are consuming to how nourishing it is for your body: the scientific term for this is “nutrient-dense.” Think about how many bowls of sugary cereal you have to eat to feel satisfied. What if you ate an egg and 2 slices of bacon? The feel of satisfaction is completely different. Real food fills you and satisfies you. Now think about what time you’d be hungry after these two meals…I’d say you’ll be hungry in 90 minutes after the cereal or in 2.5 hours after the egg and bacon.

Here are some tips for simplifying and enjoying food:

1. Stop counting calories. Pay attention to your natural hunger signals.
2. Make food choices that are whole and nourishing.
3. Sit down to eat…I’m so guilty:(
4. Try to eat with family and/or friends as often as possible.
5. Allow your palate time to adjust. You aren’t going to automatically love whole foods. But give them a chance. Don’t pass judgment until you’ve given them a fair chance (at least 3 months).
6. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Your taste buds change. (I speak from experience!)

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Day 23 : The Voices July 29, 2013

It always seems like when you make positive changes for yourself, there’s always Negative Nellie there to remind you that you are weird, unlikely to succeed and crazy to boot. The way you think greatly influences the way you behave. What you believe about yourself is often how you live out your life. It can be a challenge to drown out the discouraging voices, especially if they are in your family, or even in your home. When meal time comes, there’s usually someone there to remind you that what you have on the table is different. When you put on your running shoes and head out the door there are comments about how your version of fun is different than theirs, you’re too worried about your looks or maybe even that you are selfish for taking that time to yourself.

Not everyone experiences these types of negative remarks, and count yourself blessed if you don’t. But the reality is that most of us do. Here are some suggestions for drowning out the negative voices you encounter:

1. Recognize that the time and effort you put in now will make you a more energetic, content and happy person all around. It will make you better for every work God calls you to.

2. Tell them you’d love to share recipes or even a workout sometime so they can understand why you love living a healthy lifestyle. (That’ll shut ’em up!)

3. Accept that not everyone in your household may be willing to change. But you have control over yourself alone. So channel your energy into becoming the best YOU can be and leave the rest to God.

4. It’s okay that your plate looks different than everyone else’s. But know when to give on your diet: don’t let it interfere with relationships outside home. For example, if you go to a friend’s for dinner, eat whatever they make joyfully and make no comment-relationships are more important than one meal out of your week! If your friend doesn’t easily take offense and doesn’t mind your healthy habits, then stick to them.

5. Go back to your goals. The sum of your choices will either add up to accomplishing goals or not. Remind yourself why you started your journey.

6. Give the Negative Nellie articles, links and research. If they’re really so baffled by you’re choices, a little knowledge is a lot of power. Who knows, maybe they’ll join in!

7. Be sensitive to the insecurities of others. Making a lifestyle change is daunting. Most mean or negative comments are made out of jealousy. Remember when you wanted to change, but didn’t know how? Maybe point them to my blog in a neutral, calm moment.

The mind is powerful, and you have to make a conscious effort to overcome negativity. Next time someone makes a smart comment, invite them to learn more and share your journey with them!

 

Day 19 : Overcoming Plateaus July 17, 2013

We all reach plateaus in our journey when we experience boredom, stagnation or stop getting results. I want to give you some ideas for breaking through these challenges.

1. Re-evaluate your fitness routine. Are you exercising too much and not nourishing your body enough to repair itself? Or maybe you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough during your workouts. Could you benefit from a new goal, a personal trainer or a new workout video?

2. Journal your diet. Every bite that goes into your mouth on paper or in an app. Then after a week, re-evaluate your nutrition habits. Are you eating late at night or skipping meals? Are you cheating more than you thought?

3. Drink two unprocessed, homemade protein shakes a day for 4 weeks as meal replacements. Over two or three weeks go back to solids but with a renewed focus on whole foods. This often jump starts weight loss.

4. Get an accountability partner or renew your commitment with the one you already have and establish weekly check ins for exercise and diet.

5. Revisit your understanding of “eating healthy”. You can’t expect to skip meals and gorge yourself with a big healthy dinner every night and see results. You MUST be consistent. Eat regularly, eat real food and have reasonable portions. Every day.

6. Drink 4 liters of water every day. Do NOT drink calories or even “diet” calories. It will sabotage your journey.

7. Stop weighing and measuring for 4 weeks. Maybe it’s in your head.

I hope this will help you when you are struggling! File this post for later or use it now if you need it.

 

Day 13 : Intensity Matters July 6, 2013

What is the ideal workout? One that is short, burns fat and gets results, right? Is there such a thing?

YES!

It is called high intensity interval training (HIIT). The beauty of this type of workout is that it’s short and you can do it at home without buying any special equipment. As I have said before, I’ve been asked by a lot of people how I lost so much weight and got in shape. This is my story: HIIT 5 days a week + excellent nutrition!

The idea of HIIT is that your heart rate stays elevated throughout your workout while still performing strength-building exercises. It’s a triple threat: cardio, strength & intervals all in one. Three ingredients to effective exercise smashed into one workout. HIIT workouts burn fat for up to 2 days after your workout. Many HIIT workouts also incorporate plyometrics (jump training) which also boosts your fat burning for several hours after exercising. The anatomy of HIIT is usually a set of exercises done over a certain period of time and repeated as a circuit. For example:

50 seconds jumping jacks/10 seconds rest
50 seconds lunges/10 seconds rest
50 seconds push-ups/10 seconds rest
50 seconds squats/10 seconds rest

Repeat Circuit 3 times

Will 12 minutes really change your body? Yes. How do I know? It worked for me.

You can spend one hour at the gym or you can spend 15 minutes at home…yeah it seems like a no-brainer to me too! It isn’t easy. It is hard. it will challenge you. You will be dripping with sweat and short of breath. But it will change your body. And you will get stronger.

Some suggestions:

1. Modify to your level. Push-ups can be done from your knees, and you don’t need weight as a beginner. Also, jumps can be done as steps.

2. Try just one or two rounds as a beginner.

3. Check out the free interval timer app for iPhone if you want to do these workouts without following a video. The 7 minute workout or Sworkit apps are also great!

4. If something hurts your back or knees STOP!

Check out the daily hiit or Zuzka Light to get started!

I never expected to “like” these workouts, but as I gained strength and added weight, I found that I LOVED them! I hate missing my workouts now because I think they are FUN! Keep an open mind and try it. That’s my challenge to you.

 

Day 10 : What Makes You Fat June 26, 2013

Fat isn’t making you fat. What? That’s right: fat isn’t making you fat. (More on fats later).

Sugar is making you fat. But it doesn’t appear how you think it does. It is a sneaky little thing that you will only catch by label reading. Glance over the labels in your fridge and pantry. Look at items from this list:

Drinks other than water
Milk
Yogurt
Granola bars
Cereal
Prepackaged, flavored oatmeal
Cookies
Rice cakes
Pudding mix
Jello mix
Peanut butter
Trail mix
Muffin mix
Pancake mix
Pasta sauce
Ketchup
Barbeque sauce
Dressings
Marinades

As you begin to look over all the added sugar and high fructose corn syrup in your pantry, you are seeing the silent killer that you never think about.

Think about it this way: God designed our bodies to process sugar with an organ called the pancreas. It releases insulin to process sugar according to the amount of sugar in your blood stream. The pancreas, just like the heart, liver, kidneys and brain, is aging. When a person drinks alcohol in excess on a regular basis, it ages and damages the liver, making it difficult for the organ to function properly. When you consume sugar too often, your pancreas works overtime in the same manner. It doesn’t come with a lifetime warranty. It will give out before you die if you overuse it: this is called Diabetes Type 2 in the medical world. Now don’t get me wrong-it isn’t that simple. Diabetes is a multi-factorial disease and there are other risk factors beside your diet. I’m just going to focus on what you CAN control.

Sugar and Chronic Disease

It’s not just you.

Start by reading labels for specific criteria:

1. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)-it causes blood sugar spikes and it is usually made from GMO/nonorganic corn. It is poison if you ask me. Just don’t buy stuff made with this.

2. Corn syrup- only one notch less dangerous than HFCS. Avoid it.

3. Sugar-this one is inevitable sometimes. Be conscious of how much you consume. Look for these names:

Agave nectar
Brown sugar
Cane crystals
Cane sugar
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup
Crystalline fructose
Dextrose
Evaporated cane juice
Fructose
Fruit juice concentrates
Glucose
High-fructose corn syrup
Honey
Invert sugar
Lactose
Maltose
Malt syrup
Molasses
Raw sugar
Sucrose
Sugar
Syrup

4. Compare brands of like items for the least sugar grams. BUT always choose sugar or fruit juice concentrate sweetened over HFCS (This is now completely off limits. It is killing you. I know the truth hurts.)

5. Sweeteners for your cooking and baking should be whole foods:

Bananas
Raw honey
100% maple syrup
Stevia

As a side note, one thing that I do to reduce added sugar in my diet is to buy unsweetened items and sweeten them myself. For example, you can make a bowl of oatmeal, cook with unsweetened almond milk, add protein powder and a tad bit of pure maple syrup, cinnamon and chopped walnuts. Fast, easy and WAY less sugar! Another example is yogurt: I buy plain nonfat Greek yogurt, sweeten with a little honey or maple syrup, add chopped fruit or blueberries, nuts, vanilla and cinnamon. It may take time to gradually reduce how much sweetener you add. Experts say quitting sugar cold turkey is best, but I can honestly say I have had success with reduction in cravings and a palate change by gradually cutting back. Either way: make it happen!

Lets talk starch. The standard American diet (SAD) is full of it. Burgers need buns, the chicken needs a sandwich, meat always goes with potatoes, blah blah blah. How can you eliminate that?

1. My favorite go-to lunch is to make a protein salad. I use leftover meat from dinner or eggs and mix them up with greens and tomatoes and avocados. You can vary this easily according to what you have on hand and what your tastes are. You can even do bean salad or tuna salad (use plain Greek yogurt instead of mayo).

2. If you get high quality meat and season it with herbs and some sea salt, you will discover flavor you haven’t ever experienced. I’m talking about a burger that can sit on a big bed of greens and be absolutely mouth-watering! Don’t knock it till you try it!

3. You might want to give the 21 Day Sugar Detox a go:

21DSD

4. Put more veggies on your plate: they nourish and satisfy. More on basics of real food prep coming soon.

5. Stop buying bread, bagels, crackers, etc. Just don’t bring it in your house and, guess what? You won’t eat it! The upside to this: when you go out to eat (hopefully not more than once a week, otherwise you’ll need to implement these principles when you eat out too) you can really enjoy the high carb treats without guilt knowing how hard you’ve worked at home.

Your meals should be based upon high quality protein, veggies and high quality (truly-label must say “whole grain” before each grain ingredient) whole grains (that’s still debatable). Sugar is killing you and making you fat. Time to go back to your picture, measurements and goals. This is where the rubber meets the road and you will maximize your potential: quit the sugar!

 

Day 7 : Goals June 23, 2013

Purpose. That’s what a goal gives you on the journey to health and fitness. Not having a goal is like getting in your car and driving not knowing where you want to go, but hoping your time and gas will take you somewhere awesome. It isn’t efficient or effective, and exercising and eating well without goals is not nearly as fun or rewarding.

If you are new on this journey, you’ll probably be basing your goals on your weight and/or measurements. If you are more focused on increasing your fitness level, your goal will likely be making a goal based on how you’d like to perform.

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

1. Waist to Hip Ratio of 0.7 for women and 0.9 for men is considered healthy and at lower risk for chronic diseases and is also correlated with fertility. This was my first target goal for my own journey back before baby #3. Calculate the waist to hip ratio by dividing waist circumference by hip circumference. For example:

Waist 32inches/hips 37 inches= W to H ratio 0.86.

2. Weight or inch loss- this is essentially the same as number one except number one is more belly fat focused.
For example, you may want to lose 5 or 10% of your body weight. Or you may choose to lose by clothing size. For women, approximately one inch off of your bust, waist and hips (3 inches total) will take you down one dress size.

3. Cardio mileage-obese individuals will want to start with walking or swimming to ease stress on the joints. I recommend finding a 5k to work toward for your first mileage goal. If you aren’t obese, try working up to jogging the entire 5k. Couch 2 5k is a great tool for working toward this goal.

4. Strength goals-Fit and healthy-weighted individuals can work toward strength goals by doing challenges like the squat challenge or the plank challenge . You can also set weight or repetition goals for yourself based on the results you want. Another option is to follow challenges from free trainers online like the insanity killer challenge

4. Consistency-you may be more interested in establishing consistency before you set a particular goal. I suggest that, if you go this route, this period of time be four weeks or less. You should then create a true fitness goal. For example-aim to exercise four times per week for two weeks and then work into a 5k training routine or do the squat challenge.

So today, make your goal. I am working toward a 10k race in August. I’ve never EVER run that far EVER in my whole life EVER! It’s a big challenge for me, but I’m ready to take it on. Today is my first official training day.

By now you should have a picture and measurements to mark the start of your fitness journey. I encourage you to stay away from the scale and measuring tape for at least one week. Begin to develop a long term mindset. The results will take time. You will feel better before you look better. Make sure to review the Label Reading 101 post and make wise choices at the grocery store this week to capitalize on your workouts. Also be mindful that this is a journey we are on-there isn’t a final destination. After you meet your first goal, and even if you fail, you will make a new one or lengthen your timeframe. When the sweat drips, the struggle comes and you want to give up, look at your picture, measurements and goal. You already made up your mind at the beginning. Discuss your struggles with your accountability partner and talk/think through how you can overcome any obstacles. Then push onward. Remember-this journey is not about perfection, but rather progress.