One of my favorite aspects of training & coaching is starting with a brand new client. They are always eager to get going & full of questions I love answering. As I do with most clients interested in improving their nutrition, I requested she come in with a few days worth of a detailed food journal. Super helpful for both of us to look through!I saw what is fairly standard for many who have gone through the Weight Watchers, Atkins or similar dietary protocols:
- Breakfast: Blueberry WW Muffin
- Snack: Atkins Protein Bar
- Lunch: Frozen Microwave Diet Meal
- Snack: Protein Cookie
- Dinner: Plain Salad w/ Bland Chicken & Low Fat Dressing
- Dessert: Diet Ice Cream Bar Total Calories = 1200
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Let's chat moderation shall we? One of the most frequent conversations I have with clients who are struggling with consistency in their dietary choices deals w/ the dreaded ALL OR NOTHING eating mentality. We absolutely live in a go big or go home kind of world.
Insanity Workouts OR Netflix Binge Watching
Chicken & Broccoli OR Pizza & Beer
ON the Diet Bandwagon OR I'll Worry About It Come January
We swing from one extreme to the other on the emotional rollercoaster known as the health & fitness world. Sucks right?Yet when I talk about practicing moderation, I often get the eye roll of "that's not sexy" or "it won't get 20lbs off the scale in 20 days". And people aren't wrong! Eating moderately probably won't lead to a picture perfect before & after 60 day transformation challenge. It also means you have to experiment a little, stop following all the guru's magic meal plans & actually make a little effort to figure out what moderation means for you.The benefits? It's a lifestyle. It means you can be imperfect & still make progress. It also means you take it one step at a time & can improve a little every single week. You can make your own rules of what works for you, makes you feel best & stop "cheating" the system. Why? It's your damn system to make, break or bulldoze through.Ok lots of vague rambles later, what do I mean by moderation? All I can tell you is what moderation means to ME & what it's given me.
Emma's "Moderation" Moto:~ Eat the majority of my meals based around whole foods: vegetables, fruit, proteins, single ingredient labeled foods & food labels I can actually read all the ingredients. Truthfully I could leave it at this philosophy without a single over answer. WHY? Because WHEN I make the majority of my diet based around whole foods, the few things that sneak in like a piece of momma's poundcake or slice of pizza on a Saturday just don't matter that much. My body functions well, my cravings are in check & the imperfect foods I still enjoy are such a small proportion it's no big deal.~ Stick with food's & portions that make me FEEL good: I don't tolerate gluten well & dairy is only so so. I am NOT demonizing these foods as good or bad. BUT I'm not going to eat them because I feel like shit doing so. The same as eating too much raw broccoli hurts my belly but a handful or pumpkin candy corn is a-ok. It's not good vs bad, it's listening to what my body is telling me. It's loving a big ass salad but still stopping when I am full. Leaving a few bites on the plate at night because I am satisfied instead of stuffed. Having an extra snack when I am truly hungry, not just bored. Or skipping my mid-morning snack because I'm just not hungry today. Slow down & listen!~ Having wine on the weekends: I freakin love wine, this is NO secret. MODERATION for me is keeping it in my diet for my happiness & pleasure. The unfortunate part? I absolutely gain weight when I drink daily vino. I also feel hungover & unhappy when I drink more than a few glasses, man i've gotten old.. BUT that's the reality. Not to mention I don't think it's healthy to drink a glass or two every day to use as a coping device to deal with life. So I have found the balance that works for me is to be 100% ok with skipping the weekend wine & enjoying it on the weekend. I pick GOOD quality wines & enjoy the flavor, how they pair with food & the memories shared over bottles. I don't binge just because "i'm not allowed" to drink during the week & when I'm not in the mood, I don't. Although let's be real with how often that happens.. ;)~ Saying NO to foods I don't actually want to eat out of social pressure: This is a big one for me. I use to really struggle going out with friends, hitting a dinner party or holiday gathering & being able to say NO to foods. I didn't want to "stand out" or be the weird one that says no to the morning donuts everyone is fawning over. I also never wanted to sound rude when I told my mother in law "no thanks" to another piece of her amazing layer cake. BUT ultimately at the end of the day it's my body & I have to live in it. No one that actually cares about me is going to fight with me over what I consume. And if they do? Honestly that's not someone I want to spend my time around. Harsh? Maybe BUT if someone cares about you they should respect & WANT you to feel your best. Frankly I stopped caring about what others thought of me because I was a better person for them when I felt my best self.~ Cooking the majority of my meals at HOME: This one has really become so much more important to me over the years & it has nothing to do with saving money, calories in restaurant foods, making poor choices out or whatever else you typically hear. This is about building a better relationship with where my food comes from, prioritizing spending the time to prepare it, taking pride in eating something I prepared & valuing quality food over the instant gratification huge quantity of food we can get in a drive through. Really think about it? You prepare a home cooked meal of even the simplest breakfast like scrambled eggs, w/ some greens & fresh berries from a farm near you. It's a totally difference experience than hitting McDonald's & shoving it down on the go. For me, this is a self care technique I truly think is not prioritized in this modern age of on the go eating. *Insert "back in my day" answer*~ Enjoying special meals & memories guilt free: Food absolutely has so much family history, bonding & connects us all to each other in meaningful ways. I cherish times of baking cookies in the kitchen w/ my mom or seeing my husband light up like a kid when his mom mentions eating cupcakes straight out of the oven. I've gotten "healthy" & "not so healthy" recipes from family that has emotional meaning I can't describe. So does that mean every holiday I stay away & bring my tupperware of healthier meals? NO! I eat a pancake my mom makes on Christmas morning or have the peanut butter brownies that are my absolute fav! I don't have guilt or anxiety about these activities. Why? Go back to #1 on my list. My pancake is often accompanied by scrambled eggs & fruit. Or I eat a big stack but eat something more nutrient dense for lunch because it makes me FEEL better. I eat a brownie & enjoy every bite, knowing they are in abundance so I don't have to down them all right now. It's memories that I want to BE AROUND FOR, which means taking care of my health. Moderation..As you can see these aren't hard & fast rules or a diet to follow. It's guidelines I hang out in the middle of that fit MY lifestyle. They ebb & flow as everything does in life. What has moderation giving me? The POWER to FEEL good physically, FEEL good about my choices & LIVE the life I want to in a healthy active way. To change my mindset from that of deprivation & self loathing to abundance & self love.Ever thought about your "Moderation MOTO" that could change the game of how you think? Maybe take a few minutes to jot it down, journal it out & even share out loud. I'd love to hear & help!
More on HOW this actually looks for me & what it could look like for YOU in Part 2...
If I were asked what 3 things would I bring with me to a deserted island, my answer would quickly be:
- My husband
- My dogs
- Who only pours 4-5oz into their glass? Hello 8-10oz "glass"...
- How often do you have more than one?
- Does that glass of wine loosen you up to a few after dinner treats?
- What are your goals?
- Know Thy Limits: in general i try not to drink more than 2 glasses at a time on any occasion. it's my line where I can get a little tipsy without feeling crappy the next day.
- Set Parameters: I say no Sunday-Thursday & that made the BIGGEST difference for me! Most week nights I had created the habit of throwing my stuff on the table, sighing out the long day as I pour a glass because I deserved it. I found other ways to de-stress such as taking the dog for a walk or making a hot cup of tea. It took practice & habit change but now it's no big deal.
- BE FLEXIBLE: if we have a weekday event I don't punish myself by saying "you can't drink on the weekdays". I stick to my no more than 2 glasses & usually go with only one. As I remind myself that work will come early tomorrow & I have a responsibility to my clients to be at my best.
- Don't Drink Crap: if I open a crappy bottle that doesn't please my palate, I don't drink it! Why waste the enjoyment on bad wine. Simple!
- Make it an Enjoyable Experience: I make sure I am in a situation where I sip the wine, not guzzle it. I also don't succumb to peer pressure to drink just because everyone else is doing it. Learned that in kindergarten right? Funny how we forget. I am a big girl & if I am not in the mood, I am not going to drink. Frankly anyone who cares I'm not drinking can buzz off.
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Fat loss is simple right? Move more + eat less = scale down. Follow this simple template & all will be right with the world...You look at this equation & say ok move more. How can I burn ALL the calories, sweat it out hard & make the fat drip away the quickest? I got it! The more days I workout, hours I can fit in cardio sessions & calories I can cut will definately get me in my skinny jeans asap. Because after all, 1 pound is equally to 3500 calories. Therefore if I can only eat 1000 calories a day & spend an hour on the elliptical (which says I burned a 500...lies btw), mathematically that means I will lose 3lbs a week. Perfect, I can handle that for a month or two no problem!Maybe that works for the first week. You drag yourself into the gym every single day & sweat it out on the treadmill. You eat your egg whites for breakfast, tiny salad for lunch & a bit of chicken with broccoli for dinner. You step onto that scale & SCORE! Down 4lbs!!Yet come week 2 you find yourself struggling to get in quality workouts because you are fatigued. Duh! You aren't feeding your body enough so why should it give you energy to burn away? Next you are not just a little hungry in between meals, you are STARVING. From the second you get up to when your head hits the pillow. H-A-N-G-R-Y! Heck you may even wake up in the middle of the night in need of sustenance. Sure you fight it off for a day or two but let's be real? Eventually you succumb. And you not only eat a normal amount of food, you eat twice that. All that exercise you are doing is making your body scream for nutrient replacements. Insert the binge on crappy fast food, sweet treats or at minimum oversized portions. But wait? I'm exercising a TON. Cardio all day long. That burns a lot of calories so eating a bit more is fine. Wrong! Because you have now down regulated your metabolism by trying to starve it into submission PLUS burned all your muscle via that lovely treadmill. Muscle = faster metabolism, which you worked ridiculously hard to kill.Ok I say all this in a harsh sounding tone. I know! But after YEARS of doing this myself I am super passionate about helping people understand HOW to get the results they are working so hard for. Which rarely involves listening to the stupid magazine covers telling you the perfect 1200 calorie diet paired with how to get your bikini body in 2 weeks. *insert eye rolling*Let me tell you my personal experience now that a rant is out of the way. Back when I was in the constant "must lose last 10lbs" cycle, I assumed that the more I exercised, the more weight I would lose. The best way to burn calories? Running of course! Or cardio of any kind would do. As I usually ran as much as I could until my knees hurt, then jumped on the elliptical on my "rest days".Heck I even decided the best way to lose that weight would be to run a marathon. All that running HAD to result in weight loss. So I did it. I ran 40 miles a week & watched my watch tell me how many calories I burned with every mile. On paper I should be losing at least 2lbs a week!To fast forward a bit let's just say instead of losing 10lbs marathon training, I GAINED 10lbs. And I can promise you it wasn't 10lbs of lean sexy muscle. In fact I had the most cellulite i've ever had, no muscle definition & felt quite "soft" all the way around. Skinny fat is what I would call it. So how did I gain 10lbs while marathon training? A few simple facts:
- I was only doing cardio & lost a significant amount of muscle mass. Muscle mass is GOLD when it comes to a speedy metabolism & being able to eat enough to fuel my recovery.
- I was hungry ALL the time! Yes I burned 400-1000 calories on many a run. Guess what? One burger balanced out that equation quickly. You can easily out eat any amount of exercise. But I couldn't help it. I was hungry ALL THE TIME. So I ate. Not unhealthy foods but too much, too frequently. I earned it right?
- I was training for performance, yet attempting to eat for aethestics. My goal was to run a marathon. That was the focus, the training & I really needed to do was eat to support that. Yet instead I tried to starve it! You need to create a deficit when trying to lose body fat but NOT when you are trying to perform at a sport. Those are two SEPARATE goals!! Can they be balanced? Yes, sometimes you can work to find that small caloric deficit that meets both needs, but it's tough. And often not sustainable.
- I was causing havoc on my hormones! That much physical stress in the form of exercise plus dietary stress majorly impacted my hormones. I actually had blood work done & my cortisol was threw the roof! I was waking up in the middle of the night, exhausted midday, cold all the time, lost my period & my body was in no place to function efficiently. AKA fat loss stalled. PLEASE NOTE: these are all BIG warnings signs of overtraining!!!
- PICK ONE GOAL: performance, fat loss, muscle building or maintenance. There is no right answer & it will change over time. BUT there are more efficient ways to achieve each. If you just need to de-stress & that's what working out is for then GREAT! Do what makes you happy & never feel bad about that. But understand your top priority so you have realistic expectations.
- KEEP HORMONES IN CHECK: if you are performing at a high level of intensity & not putting it back into your body. It will at some point rebel. You can't use & abuse it into submission.
- MUSCLE RULES: this is the best tool you have in the body composition game. The more you have or can at least maintain, the more calories your body burns at rest. Cardio builds endurance & heart health but NOT muscle. Aka lift something!
- THINK LONG GAME: if you are trying to lose fat, it didn't come on overnight & won't disappear that way. Bummer I know. But find the exercise balance & dietary intake you can maintain comfortably for the duration needed to hit your goal. Not to mention you can see yourself sticking somewhat close to after. AKA if you can't see yourself eating that way in a year, it's too restrictive. Find a better balance.
- MAINTANENCE IS OK: you don't always need to be in diet mode. Even if you still want to or need to lose body fat, it's ok to hang out in maintenance for a bit. In fact it's a must! If I sign up for a face & train for it, it's with the understanding I may lose a little muscle & not be as defined as I'd like. BUT my goal is to fuel performance. That is awesome!!! Fat loss is something I can come back to IF & when I want to. We shouldn't stay in a deficit all the time & it's important to exercise for fun! Not just to change our physical appearance.
by Emma Hammond 0 comments