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Why I talk about eating so damn much.

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Confession:  I am a very reluctant eating habit/nutrition coach.

 

I really don’t naturally love the topic of nutrition—it doesn’t get me fired up, and it took me a really long time to accept the role of nutrition in my personal fitness.

 

Like, a LONG time.

 

 

I was a very stubborn horse that had to be dragged to the water, and had to be dying of thirst before I would drink.

 

But, at a certain point (and I remember that pivotal moment—it’s what I call my ‘tiramisu epiphany,’ and you can read about it here: The Tiramisu Epiphany), I realized that I could not make any weight loss/fat loss progress without making some dietary changes.

 

 

That doesn’t mean it happened overnight!

 

 

My ‘tiramisu epiphany’ was in March of 2006.  Which means that my personal journey to eating better and in a sustainable way (that causes me little life stress, but still gives me the health and results I desire) started over 10 years ago.

 

 

Did it take some time? 

Sure! 

Was the time it took worth it?

ABSOLUTELY.

 

 

There was no major diet overhaul; I simply surrendered the illusion that I could ‘work off what I ate’ and started to pay more attention to what, when, how, and how much I was eating a little bit more. 

 

I made the changes I could tolerate slowly, and began a process of self-education that definitely accelerated once I started working with a personal trainer who provided me with better resources with which to help myself.

 

So I honestly don’t LOVE the subject of nutrition like some people do (which is why they are diet experts with all those credentials behind their names!), but I understand how necessary balanced nutrition is, and the giant role it plays in how we feel, the energy we have, and in weight loss, fat loss, and overall athletic performance.

 

I don’t love nutrition, BUT I do love my clients. 

 

 

And I love to help others have less stress, more fitness success, and more confidence and independence in their own lives, so talking about nutrition, eating habits, and eating strategies has become a ‘necessary evil’ of sorts.

 

 

It’s important for me to share what I’ve learned, through formal education as well as professional experience and personal practice, because it just might help a client, friend or reader like you to shorten the ‘eating habit learning curve. ‘

 

 

Sharing this information might just help you or someone you know to stop depending on the next diet for the solution—from engaging in stressful, restrictive, all-or-nothing approaches, and to make the needed small changes in daily practices that will yield the results we’re looking for.

 

 

And that’s HUGE in my book.

 

 

After I surrendered the illusion that I could ‘outrun my fork,’ so to speak, I also had to learn and come to terms with the fact that my eating habits/patterns were shaped by:  a) the messages I told myself, b) unconscious tendencies, c) compulsive behaviors, d) the urge to self-soothe.

 

 

 

Funny that NONE of those things has anything to do with macros or calories, right?

 

 

The biggest realization I’ve had about the subject of nutrition is this:  Lasting results only come from conscious eating habit change, which can only happen when we first change how we THINK.

 

So really, when we talk about eating habits, we’re really talking about thinking habits—our thought patterns and beliefs, aka: our mindset.

 

I talk so damn much about eating because I loathe people getting all hung up on the idea of the ‘perfect diet’ or that they NEED to go on another kind of diet, or, conversely the belief that they’re helpless in creating lasting change in their own lives, that they’re powerless over how they eat.

 

 

Why do I loathe diets

Because diets breed helplessness and take away from ownership of our behaviors. 

 

 

 

They put the solution outside of ourselves, in someone else’s hands, when the real solution can only be found by doing the ‘inside job’ of changing how we think so we can change how we act.

 

So when I talk about eating, I’m really talking about thinking—about our attitudes about food, helpful or unhelpful beliefs about our selves. 

I’m talking about improving awareness of our self-talk (e.g.:  I always, I never, I just can’t help myself, nothing works for me, I’m just an ‘X’ addict, I’m a stress-eater, I’m an emotional eater—any of these sound familiar to you??), so that we can change our truth, and therefore make it possible to choose differently and make more progress with our nutrition.

 

 

I talk about awareness and attitudes because they create the possibility for ownership—taking full responsibility for all our own food choices, the chance to be ‘the captain of our own ship.’

 

 

Yes, we all come to the table, so to speak, with a certain set of genetics, a certain family food history, and whatever adult eating patterns we’ve developed so far.

 

But these pieces of the puzzle don’t dictate our future—only our consistent choices do that.  Only our consistent CHOICES.  We are in charge of our choices, especially when we take the time and make the effort to become aware of our self-talk, food history and current patterns of behavior.

 

 

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In the end, I talk about eating so damn much because it has such a huge impact on our lives, and I talk about mindset and mindfulness around eating because this is what dictates our relative success or limitations.

As Mahatma Gandhi said,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.” 

 

 

When we are mindful, we are fully in charge of our choices; we can choose to change our minds about ourselves and food, and that’s when we can REALLY start changing and making those lasting, impactful nutrition choices.

 

 

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xo,

Kate

What do you do when you F— it all up?

 What do you do when you F- it all up?

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You had the best of intentions. 

You were off to a great start.

You’d made so much progress.

You’d gotten so much stronger.

The workouts were easier.

The pants fit better.

Things were really starting to fall into place…and then.

And then something knocked you off-course or for a loop.
A vacation.
An illness in the family.
A super stressful event or period of time.
And then…you find yourself struggling again, feeling like a failure, feeling shame you ‘couldn’t hack it,’  that you let yourself down, or family or friends down….
It happens!!
To even the best of us.  From time to time, we all struggle.
Some life event impacts our routine, disrupts our ‘normal,’ causes resistance, or throws us back into old coping mechanisms.
Sometimes this means we stop working out—or working out as much.  Sometimes this means we stray too far and too long from our better, more healthful eating patterns.  Sometimes this means we burn the candle at both ends, leaving ourselves a fried mess unable to cope—or using unhealthy or unhelpful coping mechanisms.
  And we feel bad—because we KNOW better, right?!?
Again—it happens.  What matters more, what matters the MOST, really, is what we do next.
So we F’d it up again.  Well, done is done.  We can either wallow in it, tell ourselves how weak and pathetic and stupid we are, thinking that berating ourselves will lead us to ‘behaving’ again, or….Or.
Or we can do a few of these things:
1.  Acknowledge our F-Up. 
Name it, own it, then leave it behind us.  Done is done, and no good comes from beating the proverbial dead horse; clinging to our ‘failings’ actually prevents us from growing and changing.  Move on!
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2.  Look for the Lesson.
As much as we might hate it, there’s always a lesson in those hard moments and times, or an opportunity for personal growth.I’ve learned over time, through dealing with and recovering from numerous injuries and health issues over the years, that there’s always something that can be learned out of an illness or injury.
Sometimes that means learning to literally DO things differently—in the gym or at home.It can mean learning how much eating well impacts how we feel or makes or breaks our health.
Sometimes it means reevaluating our lifestyle, and cutting out the things that really aren’t working FOR us, even if those changes are unpopular.
Sometimes it means checking our ego at the door—either the ego that’s prompting us to do things that aren’t good for our bodies because we think we can or should or have something to prove, or the ego that screams at us: “I want what I want and I want it right NOW and I deserve it right NOW,” like an angry toddler would.
Whatever knocked you off-track, hung you up, derailed your efforts, or sidelined you (temporarily), there IS a lesson in there.
Look for it, ask the hard questions:
  • What did I do to get myself here?
  • What do I need to do to get myself OUT of here?
  • And what can I do to avoid doing this again??
3.  Take action—NOW.
It doesn’t have to be huge or perfect, it just needs to be action.
  • Start by eating a veggie at your next meal or snack.
  • Get up and go for a walk.
  • Do a few squats or push ups.
  • Read an article or book that helps you ‘grit it up’ a bit more.
  • Listen to a podcast that inspires you.
  • Call someone who supports you (not an enabler, but someone who loves you and will help you take the next step forward).

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DO NOT TEXT OR EMAIL OR SEND ANY KIND OF ELECTRONIC MESSAGE—CALL THEM.  You know, in real time, just like the good ole days 😉
4.  Use the Lesson(s) to make a new plan. 
  • What did you learn from this experience? 
  • Where did you ‘fall down’ or where did things go sideways on you?
  • What can you do to be derailed LESS by this same kind of situation, should it happen again?
  • What can you do to avoid the same, or a similar, pitfall?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What kind of planning do you need to do?
  • And how are you going to go forward, from right where you’re at, right now?
5.  Just get moving.  Keep moving.  Find a mantra or create a mantra, and put that puppy all over the place.
Mantras can add to our grit, shore up our commitment to a goal or project–even when it’s not going well; mantras can help refocus us when we feel like we’re on the ropes. They can create positive energy, and keep us focused on moving forwards and doing our best.
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And if you don’t have one yet, maybe finding a short, meaningful and memorable saying is just the thing you need to help keep you motivated, focused and positive!
As Mahatma Gandhi said,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
And remember this, above all else:
“Failure is not in the falling down, but the staying down.”
~ Unknown
If you’re not sure where to start, your fitness or nutrition have been lagging, let’s chat!
We can get on the phone, or email or FaceTime or Skype, etc, and start working out a plan to get you heading in a better direction again.  20 minute ‘Recharge’ chats are totally complementary 🙂
You can reach me at kate@reallifefitbykate.com
And if you’ve fallen off the workout ‘horse,’ try climbing back on with this simple ladder workout you can do pretty much anywhere!  https://youtu.be/BZF91zEUBZU
Keep your head up and keep moving forward!
Kate

 

The Tiramisu Epiphany

My Tiramisu Epiphany…and how it changed how I thought about eating.

 

It’s funny the moments that stick with us.

Those little snapshots in time where we can recall so clearly where we where, what we were wearing, who we were with, what we were doing, what we were thinking…especially when we also spend a fair amount of our lives wandering up and down the aisles of the grocery store, trying to remember that one item we were supposed to get.

(It recently took me 5 separate trips to the commissary to remember to get cinnamon. True story.)

 

 

My tiramisu epiphany was one of those moments.

 

 

It was the first of March 2006, and I’d made my husband the birthday dinner and dessert he requested (it’s a tradition in our family), and we’d just finished a peaceful dinner together, as our 9 month-old was already in bed.

 

 

It was time for dessert—a tiramisu recipe I’d found in a University of Washington Husky Alum cookbook. By the way, this recipe is to die for…and sure to elevate your blood alcohol level. Go Huskies, lol!

 

 

About mid-way through dessert, I noticed the meal planner lying on the couch next to me that had come from The Firm’s kit I’d purchased back in November. I’d flipped through it recently, but was really less than thrilled about their diet recommendations—dessert was a granny smith apple, definitely a far sight from tiramisu!

 

 

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Seeing the meal planner made my mind leapfrog to earlier in the day when I’d weighed myself, a little disappointed to find I’d only lost a pound since New Years, despite the fact that I’d been doing The Firm videos religiously and my stamina had improved dramatically. It also made me realize my pants weren’t fitting any better than they had been—I still felt ‘thick’ around the middle.

 

 

And it hit me like a ton of bricks: I just couldn’t exercise off my eating any longer.

 

 

In my 20’s, it was relatively easy to just exercise more to make up for eating indulgently. I wouldn’t lose weight without changing what I ate, but I could at least keep kind of an even keel (although, hindsight being 20/20, I doubt I was ever on an even keel).

 

 

After I turned 30 and had my first baby, all in the same year, this was no longer possible—it just took me 9 + months to realize it.

 

 

Why am I telling you this story?

 

Two reasons: 1. To illustrate that many of us have those pivotal moments/moments of clarity or epiphanies, and 2. I had ZERO idea what to do next to help myself. ZERO—because the way I cooked and ate tasted good, but I had NO intention of trying The Firm’s diet plan (again—a granny smith apple for dessert?!?).

 

 

It took me another 8 months and the help of a personal trainer and her food journal to even get half a clue about where to start. And it’s taken me another nearly 10 years to get to the reasonable and sustainable way of eating I practice today.

 

 

Man, how awesome would it have been to have a few tips, tricks and shortcuts instead of having to go through years of trial and error and self-education to figure things out!!

 

 

But the gorgeous thing about that story and my process is that I get to share what I’ve learned with you, and maybe cut your learning curve down a bit, getting you on a path of sustainable, reasonable eating habits sooner rather than later.

 

 

Which leads me back to the food journal.

 

 

While exercise will make your fitter—and happier, I’d argue—improved nutrition and healthier eating habits is the only way to truly lose weight, lose body fat and inches, and just plain feel and perform better all around.

 

 

We just can’t out-exercise a poor, or unhelpful diet.

 

 

Knowing where to start, though, is different than knowing you need to start, and that’s where the food journal comes in!

 

(Don’t have a good one?  Get one sent straight to your inbox with this link:  Real Life Fit by Kate Food Journal )

 

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Once you’ve completed a few days of full, honest food tracking in your journal, you have data with which to start making choices and changes. Specifically, you have solid information about all of the following, influential diet factors:

 

  • The time(s) of day you tend to eat most often
  • Length of time between ‘feedings’
  • Typical foods you eat/foods you eat the most of
  • Foods you eat the least of
  • Kinds of beverages you drink, and how often
  • How your emotional state affects your food choices
  • How your environment affects your food choices

 

These are all REALLY important pieces in our eating habits puzzle, and all relatively easy to identify and understand when they’re in black and white on the paper in front of us. It’s like we get a little peek into the way our minds and bodies work—super cool.

 

 

But what’s best about all this information is that it puts us back into the driver’s seat—it gives us a place from which to start making the most meaningful and helpful changes.

 

 

So when you look at your food journal, what patterns leap out at you?

  • Are there times of day where you don’t eat at all, or that you tend to eat large amounts of food?
  • Do you go for hours and hours between ‘feedings,’ or are you grazing throughout the day?
  • What foods are you eating the most?
  • Are you drinking lots of sugary or high-calorie drinks?
  • How much water are you drinking?
  • Do you tend to eat more when your emotions are amplified in some way (angry, sad, stressed)?
  • Do you eat at your desk, in front of the TV, while driving, while standing in your kitchen, while wandering around somewhere?
  • Do you eat at home more or out at restaurants? What kind(s) of restaurants?

 

 

All of these simple, but important factors—our scientific ‘data,’ give us some insight into what our current patterns REALLY are, versus the impression we might have had of how, when, what and how much we’re really consuming on an average day.

 

 

That insight, in turn, gives us a starting point for making reasonable, personally meaningful and impactful changes—ONE at a time.

 

 

So if you haven’t been ready to use a food journal until now, maybe this perspective on how it can be a hugely helpful tool for positive change will give you the nudge you needed to get started.

 

And if you’ve already started your food journaling efforts, I hope this gives your food journal evaluation a little more focus!

 

 

If you have any questions at all, or need a little more guidance, shoot me an email! I’d love to chat with you—either through email OR on the phone for a 20-minute coaching session 🙂

 

If you’re wanting/needing more support, we talk nutrition, eating habits, and helpful mindsets all the time in my Real Life Fit, Healthy and Happy Facebook group.  Click here to check it out ==>  Real Life Fit, Healthy and Happy

 

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Why adding MORE gets you results.

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So you got off-track.

 

Your best intentions for getting or staying on a regular exercise schedule didn’t pan out.

 

Maybe your ‘I’m going to start eating better’ plan didn’t come to fruition.

 

And you might be feeling a little disappointed, maybe a little lethargic, maybe a lot unmotivated.

 

What do you do now?  

 

Go on some crazy, extreme ‘quick fix’ to get yourself ‘right’ again? Throw out the baby with the bathwater in the process, while you throw yourself headlong into a massive diet-and-exercise overhaul…only to have it all backslide after 3 weeks of ‘being good’ and ‘on-plan’?

 

Or….

 

Or maybe you start over, TODAY, with just ONE small change that’s pointing you in a healthier, happier direction.

 

One small improvement you can make each day: a ‘plus ONE’ approach.

 

Now, making one small change might sound, well, kind of insignificant, or maybe even a little wimpy. It’s not the grand, brag-worthy, intense, restrictive, grueling ‘fix’ that you can tell everyone you’re toughing it out through.

 

Then again, how long would that grueling, Herculean effort actually last? In my personal and professional experience, about 3 weeks. Sometimes 4, but that’s pretty generous. And it inevitably leads back to square one, in a hurry, with the extra mental baggage of having ‘failed’ once again.

 

So instead of trying to ‘right the ship’ all in one fell swoop, maybe using a more reasonable, realistic and just plain long-term effective approach, like the Plus ONE approach, is a better way to go right now!

 

Here’s the deal:
** +1 is always greater than zero
**  +’everything all at once’ can only be a painful sprint effort at best (meaning it can only last a short time)

 

 

But Plus ONE? Plus 1 is do-able. It’s a small win, a consistent measureable sign of doing better that we can handle, that we can stick with, that we can feel proud of.

 

So what does this Plus 1 approach look like in real life?

 

 

It might depend on what your biggest challenges are currently, or what’s the easiest thing for you to tackle right away—because taking action is key to making this kind of approach work. It might be something that you are super confident you can do consistently right now.

 

Possibilities, based on the challenges I regularly hear my clients and readers face, could include:

 

  • drinking one more glass of water each day
  • changing their after-dinner snack
  • adding in just one more serving of veggies each day
  • adding in just 10 minutes of movement to each day
  • adding in one strength training workout per week
  • adding a short walk to the after-dinner ritual
  • adding one serving of protein to breakfast (or lunch, or dinner…)

 

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Notice it’s ALL about ADDING 1 thing IN, as opposed to taking things out, excluding or restricting or avoiding.

 

 

It’s about making workable additions and ‘crowding out’ old behaviors with new ones—because our brains aren’t wired to ditch old patterns of behavior (kind of inconvenient, I know), but they ARE wired to learn new patterns of behavior, and when these patterns are repeated many times over time, they become the ‘new normal.’

 

 

That’s why consistency is such a big deal—and engaging in small, easily repeatable behaviors is so much more effective in creating the habits we want to have so that we can lead the kind of life we desire to lead.

 

 

It’s like what Tony Robbins says, “In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”

 

 

Extremes, by nature aren’t sustainable. Plus 1? Those we can do every day.

 

And when the first Plus 1 becomes normal—just a regular part of daily real life, then you get to Plus 1 another thing. By ‘plussing up’ regularly and consistently, you will effect massive change over time—on your mind, your body and your life.

 

Give the Plus 1 approach a shot TODAY!

 

Remember to think about ONE thing that either challenges you the most right now, or is the easiest to act on right now, or one positive change you are super confident you can do and stick with right NOW.

 

Maybe one of the suggestions above can be a great place for you to start! Whatever it is, take action—don’t wait or hesitate. Because it’s what we DO consistently that shapes our lives.

 

What are you waiting for? 🙂

 

 

To help you get even more consistent with healthier, more helpful choices, I’ve created the FREE Back to YOU Boot Camp 7-Day Challenge.

 

Now that the kids are back to school, vacations and summer holidays are behind us, it’s time to get back to focusing on YOU.

 

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Get back into the swing of things and start building back up those consistent exercise and healthier eating habits with the FREE 7-day “Back to You Boot Camp” challenge!

 

What it is:

 

The FREE Back to You Boot Camp Challenge is a 7-day workout and healthier eating ‘reset’ challenge, designed to help you get back to working out more consistently, eating a little better, and feeling like your best you all over again.

Through 7 days of 30-minute or less workouts, daily nutrition mini-challenges, and motivation-boosters, we’ll create ‘inertia-based motivation’ that will keep you moving long after the 7 days are over—because bodies in motion tend to stay in motion (just ask Einstein).

 

 

Head on over to the official B2YBC page by clicking the link here to get all the details and get signed up! The challenge starts September 6, so you have plenty of time to commit yourself and get ready to rock out 7 days of consistent workouts and fun daily nutrition mini-challenges.

 

It’s FREE, fun, and full of support from both me and a whole community of positive, dynamic women!

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But don’t wait too long to sign up!!

 

Registration closes TONIGHT at midnight!!

 

Keep ‘plussing up’ and I’ll talk to you soon 🙂

 

Kate

One tool to feel better in your own skin right NOW.

Love what you’ve got.

 

 

Some women showcase their legs, or cleavage, or glutes; I showcase my back and shoulders!

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Traveling in Europe always gives me perspective on the concepts of what’s beautiful, what’s desireable, what’s ‘normal.’

 

 

When I was 14 years younger, newly married and living in Germany the first time, I would drive myself crazy comparing myself to other women, and always come up short and feeling ‘less than.’

 

 

But at a certain point, I actively chose to see my strengths not just my ‘flaws,’ to appreciate my own human vehicle while also appreciating other people’s.

 

 

It is possible to see other people’s strengths and beauty and appreciate them without it taking away from our own.

 

 

We can say, “she’s gorgeous” without it meaning we’re not, and we can say that we’re gorgeous without it meaning that someone else isn’t or is less so…it just took me 38ish years to internalize that lesson 🙂

 

 

Work what you’ve got, love what you’ve got, don’t worry about what you don’t.

 

 

Ditch the comparison trap and just be YOUR best you every day.

 

 

Life’s way more peaceful this way ❤️

 

#astrongmindinastrongbody
#thisis40something

6 Counterintuitive Strategies for Fast (and Lasting!) Weight Loss

This week’s blog post is a guest post from my talented and knowledgeable friend and fellow fitness pro, Becky Williams, of BKinetic Fitness.  When I need a little more fat-loss guidance, I turn to Becky for her expertise.  Plus, she has outstanding taste in books and friends 😉 Enjoy the read!

 

6 Counterintuitive Strategies for Fast and Lasting Weight Loss

 

When it comes to losing weight, we tend to rely on a few tried-and-true tactics. And whether or not they actually work for us, we keep going back to them and blame our ourselves for our inability to stick with them properly and get the results that we want.

 

This is when it helps to look for another way. To do something that seems at its surface to go against the grain of conventional wisdom. But then again, sometimes conventional wisdom gets it all wrong. Or, at the very least, wrong for us.

 

If you’re ready to try something different, read on.

 

  1. Eat Carbs

The practice of drastically cutting carbs has been all the rage over the past fifteen years or so. It has become the go-to tactic when it comes to losing weight. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as many of us eat too many and the wrong types of carbs for our activity levels and goals. And it’s so very tempting to lose a few lbs. right off the bat (mostly water weight though). But it’s easy to overdo it.

 

Carbs play a very important role in our diet — they give us quick energy, as glucose is the fuel that our brains and bodies need and use most readily.  They also help build muscle.

 

But cutting carbs really low can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects:  fatigue, irritability, insomnia, lowered metabolic rate, increased stress hormones, suppressed immune function, and impaired thyroid function.  Women seem to be more sensitive to the effects of a lack of carbs, particularly with hormone regulation.

 

A good goal is to eat as many carbs as possible while still seeing results.  This will help keep your performance in the gym at a good level, help prevent undue hormonal imbalances due to prolonged dieting, and give you something to play with if you hit a plateau.  If you start a diet at 25-50 grams of carbs a day or less, then you don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room down the road.  You can only drop your carbs down so low before it becomes counterproductive and miserable.

 

Start by tracking your food for a few days and then cut out one serving of a starchy or processed carb source (pasta, rice, cereal, granola bars, bread, etc.). After 2 weeks or so, assess how you feel (appetite, cravings, energy) and any results that you’re seeing before making any changes (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!).

 

 

  1. Skip the Cardio

Gasp! No cardio?!? That’s just crazy talk!

 

Yes, I am completely serious. And I used to be a cardio queen back in the day, running, elliptical-ing, cycling, kickboxing, stair-climbing till the cows came home. I thought that’s what I had to do to lose weight and maintain it — 45 minutes to up to 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, week in and week out. I was able to keep that pace up in my teens and twenties fairly easily, but now that I’m 37, I need far more recovery and smarter training.

 

Traditional cardio, like moderate-intensity steady state jogging or spin classes, should be treated as frosting on top of the cake, not the main dish. It’s a not-entirely-necessary but tasty addition in the right dosage. Sometimes it really enhances it, but other times it’s just too much.

 

The reason for this is three-fold. First, weight training is far more effective and efficient for fat loss (I’ll discuss this more below). Second, cardio tends to jack up cravings and appetite, leading to overeating and canceling out any calorie burn and then some. And third, your body will adapt to the volume of exercise that you do, and thus burn fewer calories for the same amount of work.  So that 3 miles that you run every day will boost your stamina (yay!) but will burn fewer calories (boo!).

 

And there is only so much exercise that you can do before it starts to be counterproductive and interferes with your recovery and lifestyle.

 

So the key is to be conservative with your cardio and only sprinkle it in as necessary to see continued results.  It is simply one tool out of many for fat loss, and certainly not the most important one.  As with anything, program your cardio according to your goals.  If your priority is losing fat, do as little as possible and focus on nutrition and lifting weights first and foremost.  But if your main goal is to do a 10k or a half-marathon, then by all means do as much as your training plan calls for to accomplish that mission.  Just know that your weight loss efforts will be impacted.

 

The one form of cardio that I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone? Leisure walking.

 

It’s fantastic for stress management (we can all do with some of that!), especially if you do it outdoors among nature.  It does burn a few calories, but more importantly, it activates our parasympathetic nervous system, slowing down our heart rate and increasing digestion (also known as the “rest and digest system”). This greatly enhances our recovery from exercise and the stresses of daily life.

 

 

  1. Order Dessert

I can hear all of you fellow choco-holics out there cheering yaaassss!!! Usually dessert and sweets are the first to go when dieting. And with good reason, as they are usually sugar/starch/fat bombs, which makes it more likely to be stored as fat.

 

Buuuuutttt….. Completely depriving ourselves of something we enjoy over a long period of time usually backfires. It’s like telling someone to not think of pink elephants. Our mind will repeatedly go back to pink elephants and how we need to think about something else. Same with our favorite treats. They’ll become all we think about, because it’s something that we can’t have. It steals our willpower, so even if we don’t give in to that temptation, we’ll struggle with everything else, whether that’s drinking more water, eating more veggies, and getting to the gym regularly. Pretty soon, even the most stoic of us will give in somewhere, and we all know how crappy that feels.

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So pick a few things that will satisfy your sweet tooth (or whatever else you crave the most) but won’t completely derail your efforts. For me, it’s dark chocolate, sugar-free fro-yo or Halo Top ice cream, and chocolate chip cookie dough Quest protein bars. I keep the portions appropriate (no binging) and, depending on my goals, I enjoy one of them a few times a week or once a day. And every once in a while, go ahead and share a dessert with a friend or loved one. Savor a few bites and then move on.

 

However, if you have a trigger food (something that you know you can’t eat just a small portion of and causes even more cravings), then avoiding that would be wise.

 

The goal here is to create built-in buffers against feelings of deprivation, in addition to cultivating a nutrition strategy that we can use for life, not just for 12 weeks.

 

 

  1. Take a Bath

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Throw in some Epsom salts and essential oil (like lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint) and get to relaxing and recovering.

 

Although stress has no calories, it can certainly make us gain stubborn weight.   One of the hormones that surge during times of stress is cortisol.  But cortisol is like anything else in our bodies, it can be a negative or a positive force.  We know it as a fat-storing hormone.  However, it can also be a fat-burning hormone.

 

We just tend to have too much of it in response to the chronic, daily stressors of modern living coupled with a lack of quality exercise, sleep, and diet. Although acute elevations in cortisol help burn fat, such as during high intensity interval-style exercise and strength training, excess prolonged elevations in cortisol can stimulate fat storage. It can also lead to muscle loss in the absence of muscle-building hormones (another great reason to lift weights!).

 

Managing stress is a key, but often overlooked, piece of the fat loss puzzle because of the effect it has not only on the body in general (muscle tension, headaches, etc. leading to lackluster or missed workouts and deviation from diet) but also on many of our hormones. An imbalance of vital hormones, such as cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen, throws fat loss into a tailspin. More calories are stored as fat, less muscle is built, muscle is broken down, and strength and energy levels suffer.

 

Our hunger hormones get out of whack as well, making it seem as though we have suddenly developed a bottomless pit for a stomach. It’s not your imagination that you crave more sweet and fatty foods when you’re stressed.

 

So put your phone away and chillax in the tub with a good book and enjoy some much-needed “me time.”

 

  1. Lift Heavy Stuff

Building strength and muscle is not just for bodybuilders. It is a critical component of fat loss and overall health.

 

Sadly, as we age, we lose precious lean muscle. On average, women lose 5 pounds of muscle mass per decade between age 25 and 65, leading to a 2-4% decline in metabolic rate with each decade as well.

 

Muscle is what really transforms your body, giving you the “tight and toned” look. Sparing muscle during a fat loss phase is especially important. When deprived of adequate calories, our bodies will take fuel from wherever it can – muscles, fat stores, and glycogen stores. And when we lose a significant portion of muscle in addition to fat, we may get smaller, but we’ll most likely have the same shape. Plus, we’ll be burning fewer calories throughout the day, which will make weight regain much more likely.

 

Consistent weight training ensures that less muscle tissue is used for fuel and that even more is built over time. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. The “afterburn effect”, also known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), also contributes to the increase in calories burned after the workout. The body increases oxygen use after exercise to bring various processes back to baseline and to recover. This process takes energy (ie calories).

 

Plus, the mental benefits and amazing sense of empowerment that comes from lifting weights tends to carry over into other areas of our lives, improving our overall quality of life.

 

 

  1. Read a Book

When we seek to make a change in our lives, it helps to get our minds right first. Everything we do is connected to our mindset, for better or worse. Our success is intricately tied to whether or not we can harness of the power of our thoughts and underlying beliefs. Anyone who has ever struggled with emotional eating or self-sabotage can relate. Grabbing a carefully selected book can help us to gain a new perspective, make some critical mindset shifts, and inspire us.

 

A few of my top picks:

 

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. http://amzn.to/29DimnU Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.

 

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. http://amzn.to/29zE2O2

This book discusses not only the science of self-control, but also includes simple actionable tips to increase it.

 

Grit by Angela Duckworth. http://amzn.to/29xrqWK

Psychologist Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” So even if you don’t have an athletic bone in your body, you can still learn to kick butt at fitness.

 

Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. http://amzn.to/29SGKmr

He was just an average guy, unhappy and stuck in a rut, who decides one day to start running. And he doesn’t stop. Not even to refuel with a whole pizza (delivered while running in the middle of the night). It’s fascinating to read about his wacky adventures while running ridiculously long distances. And I love how he just starts. He doesn’t wait for the perfect time. He just took action and figured it all out as he went along. You really feel his love of movement shine through, and it makes you want to throw on your sneakers and get outside.

 

On My Own Two Feet by Amy Purdy. http://amzn.to/29Aszii

On the cusp of her twenties, the author contracts bacterial meningitis, resulting in having both legs amputated at the knee. Years later, she now snowboards competitively, including earning a medal in the 2014 Paralympics. She also competed on Dancing With The Stars. Her journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity we all have to dream bigger, defy expectations, and rewrite our stories.

 

 

The right book can be a total gamechanger. And if you’re a busy multi-tasker, check out Audible.com. Listening to audiobooks during your commute, a workout, or while doing housework is a great way to learn and be inspired if you’re short on time and energy.

It’s understandable if you’re a bit hesitant to take on these tactics. We’ve been all but brainwashed by the mainstream media for so long to throw ourselves headlong into an intense cardio routine (hello, Insanity), slash our carb intake, and deprive ourselves of every bit of delicious food that we love. But isn’t it time to try a new way?

 

Pick one strategy and see how it goes. Experiment and try to have fun with the process. There are no hard and fast rules, just what works for you. Sometimes you have to dare to take a more unusual approach to get the results that you want.

 

_____________________________________________________

 

BeckyWilliams_headshotBecky Williams is a personal trainer for women who struggle with perfectionism and who have lost their fitness mojo.

Through her blog posts, effective workouts, and sane and simple nutrition tips, she’s here to shake up your approach to fitness and fat loss – while making it all feel like a fun game you never want to stop playing.

And when she’s not helping women build a powerful body and life, you can find her cheering on her favorite soccer team, FC Dallas, savoring an Americano and the occasional glass of pinot grigio (although not at the same time), or cuddling her ridiculously adorable orange tabbies, Sheldon and Theodore.

 

Meet Becky and get ready to uncover your inner badass at bkinetic.com.

Project: Push-Pull Week 4: Make your training entertaining!

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“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

~Beverly Sills

 

 

When it comes to doing solid, effective and healthy push ups and pull ups, there are just no shortcuts.

 

 

 

There are helpful exercises—both strengthening exercises and mobilization exercises, but in order for any of them to work, they have to be done consistently.

 

 

 

Really, that’s the only way we ever master our push ups and pull ups—through consistent, persistent efforts over time.

 

 

 

We don’t have to put in massive, Herculean efforts every single day, but to get stronger all the way around and to make it possible to do push ups, pull ups (or both) at all, or do more of them, or do them better, we just plain have to put in the time and work!

 

 

That said, we can make the work interesting—maybe even fun sometimes!

 

To improve pull ups, get some bar work in at least 3 days a week.  To improve push ups, work on the style of push up that’s right for you currently a little bit every day, or a minimum of 3 days a week.

 

 

And to get better at both faster, make sure to do consistent–if not daily–core work, things like crawling drills, planking drills, dead bug exercises, and hanging bar work.

 

Here are a few exercises you can start working into your workouts throughout the week that will both get you stronger and keep you entertained:

 

Ring Rows

 

 

Hanging Knee Raises

 

Hanging Knees to Elbows

 

 

As well as a variety of crawling drills and planking drills:

 

Inchworms

 

All-Fours crawls

 

Bear Crawls

 

Lizard Crawls

 

Plank Hold Complex

 

 

Limb-Away Elbow Planks

 

Limb-Away Tall Planks

 

Keep consistent, keep positive, never lose your hunger to do push ups and pull ups well, and you’ll be rocking them out before you know it, too!

 

 

Questions?  Need a little personalized advice or guidance?  

Shoot me a message at:  kate@reallifefitbykate.com.  

 

 

I offer complementary 20-minute coaching calls and I LOVE helping people figure out how to make any training plan or nutrition plan work for them!

 

We can hop on the phone, Skype, FaceTime, GoogleHangouts, or whatever works best for you and get you started training and/or eating more effectively 🙂

 

Talk to you soon, and happy pushing and pulling!

Kate

 

#getonthebar

#ProjectPushPull

{Move More Monday}

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{Move More Monday}

 

 

Here’s a fun one to add to your warm up or joint prep: Inchworms with a reach and a row.

 
You get some shoulder movement, hip hingeing, hamstring activation, and lots of core stabilization to get the body ready to work–it’s one of the warm up drills we’ve been using in class as prep work for our daily perfect push up practice.
 
This inchworm variation can be a great ‘just get a little less stiff’ exercise or as another part of a core training progression by adding reps to the reaches and rows.
 
Lots of ways to make this move work for you–give it a shot and let me know what you think!
 
#MoveMoreMonday

Project Push-Pull Week 3: Hang Tight to Pull More!

What do we need to be able to do in order to do pull ups at all???

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We need to be able to hang from a bar, and control our entire bodyweight while doing so.

 

 

 

So step one, assuming you’ve got healthy shoulders, is to learn to hang from the bar for longer and longer periods of time consistently throughout the week.

 

 

We need to be able to hang on to the bar period if we’re going to have any hope of pulling ourselves up, and this means we need some serious grip strength.  Grip strength is one of those ‘unsexy’ factors that all those fitness magazines and dvd workouts fail to mention!  But it’s absolutely essential to any kind of pulling at all.

 

 

To begin to build your functional grip strength, you need to hang on to heavy things for period of time longer than are, well, comfortable.  You have to progressively challenge your limits to get stronger over time, and this means doing a couple of things:

 

–performing hanging drills

 

–performing grip-challenging exercises (such as deadlifts and Farmer’s Carries)

 

 

There are tons of variations of hanging drills you can use to strengthen your grip AND get you a little more aware of your whole body, because to do a good pull-up, we need to be able to tighten up all over at the same time.

 

 

Being able to tighten all our muscles, together, at the same time, on command, is a learned skill for most of us–and this means it’s a skill we need to practice!

 

 

Some hanging drills you can start to do anywhere there’s a bar to hang from are:

 

Dead Hang (with an overhand, ‘pull up’ grip)

 

 

Dead Hang (with an underhand, ‘chin up’ grip)

 

Dead Hang (with a neutral grip where palms face each other–as when you do them on monkey bars)

 

Hanging Bent Knee Raises (a kind of curl up)

 

Scapular Pull-Ups (where you practice the ‘first pull’ from around your ‘armpit’ muscles)

 

 

Hollow Holds on the Bar (Progressing to Beat Swings–where you push your body away from the bar, while keeping the ‘banana’ hollow hold position, using your lat muscles)

 

Heavy Farmer’s Carries

 

But the word ‘hanging’ can imply a passive action–there’s no such thing in an effective pull up!

 

While you are on the bar, your job is to:

 

–pull your armpits down slightly (to activate your back muscles)

–try to bring your ribs closer to your hips (activate your ab muscles)

–squeeze your butt tight and make a ‘scared doggy butt’ (tighten up your glutes and tilt your pelvis posteriorly

 

…and then…HOLD.

 

 

Hold for as long as you can!  Time it with a stopwatch or by counting your breaths; the goal is to increase your hang time each week.

 

Remember, all the plank work you’ve been doing as you’ve been working on your push ups is going to come in super handy when you’re learning how to tighten up your whole body during these hang exercises.

 

 

Here are a few plank variations you can start incorporating into your daily or weekly workouts:

 

Prone Weight Shifts (also good for building up wrist mobility and strength)

 

Tall Planks with Alternating Limb Extensions

Shoulder Tap Planks (aka: Pledge Planks)

 

 

Plank Punches

 

 

Plank Ups (definitely the most advanced variation here)

 

 

Keep it all tight, all the time!  It’s the difference between trying to carry a flailing toddler, a toddler who’s completely passed out, and a 5-foot length of 2×4.

 

 

The tighter your body is all over (like a 2×4 piece of lumber) the easier it will be to eventually pull and move.  Trust me from all my personal experience, the tighter you can get, the better you can pull and the more you can pull!

 

 

Trying to do pull ups with a swinging body is a huge exercise in wasted energy and frustration, so always aim to be more like a 2×4 and less like a flailing toddler, lol 😉

 

So there you have it–lots of grip strengthening, body-tightening, skill- and confidence-building drills to get you started on the road to doing some amazing pull-ups!

 

Not sure where to start, how often to do these, or have any other questions?

Fire me an email–I’d love to give you a little (complimentary) coaching 🙂

You can reach me at kate@reallifefitbykate.com

 

 

And don’t forget to check out my FB page (Real Life Fit by Kate) for more articles and updates about pull up and push up training and success for everyone!

 

 

Getting more ladies doing pull-ups is my passion!!

 

Happy Pulling!

 

This is the year! Get it!

This is the year! Get it!

 

So there I was, eating a salad….

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So there I was, sitting in the Ansbach Altstadt, enjoying a salad while my kids and dad enjoyed their cake.

 

 

 

The funny part is that I voluntarily chose the salad over the cake—really! No, I’m not crazy…and it wasn’t out of guilt or the need to ‘be good,’ either.

 

 

 

I just really wanted a salad, and I really needed some protein. I worked out at 7 am, then taught at 9:30, and just hadn’t had much to eat all morning, so the thought of something sugary and fatty wasn’t the least bit appealing.

 

 

 

Weird, right?!? I have this perfect chance to eat any slice of cake I want, and I choose a salad???

 

 

 

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Once upon a time, I would have had a major case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)—as in, “If I don’t eat it now I won’t have the chance again for who knows how long,” but these days, thanks to my my *learned* approach to eating sustainably, it’s a normal kind of choice.

 

 

 

A few years ago, I got sick of feeling that inner struggle every time we went to the bakery—the usual “Should I? Or shouldn’t I?” inner argument over whether I should buy a pastry or slice of cake, and if I’d ‘earned it’ with my exercise that day or week, or if having that treat would knock me ‘off-plan.’ I also got tired of the compulsive “I’m at a birthday party, I’d better eat cake now or I’ll have to wait until the next one” behavior that had become a kind of norm.

 

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So rather than continue to have this struggle several days a week, I decided that I’d make one day a week my ‘treat day,’ and my practice of Planned Indulgences was born.

 

 

 

The gist is that once a week, I gave myself permission to walk into the bakery and choose any treat I wanted—absolutely guilt-free. Best strategy ever.

 

Designating one day a week (Fridays at the time) for a planned indulgence has taken all the ‘do I/don’t I’ struggle away from eating treats, I was completely in charge of my eating and choices, and I got to savor something REALLY tasty on the regular without wringing my hands over it or feeling guilty.

 

 

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Over time, Planned Indulgences (PI) has evolved a bit along with some other strategies/practices into what has become my current approach to sustainable eating.

 

 

 

My approach, which I call ‘Real Life Eating,’ includes using strategies and practices that make it easier for me to listen to my body, eat well, enjoy the treats I want while staying ‘in the middle,’ aka: a sustainable size and body composition.

 

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My current (June 2016) physique–all while on my own Livable Diet

Real Life Eating (RLE) is also the approach I use with clients—especially those who have yo-yo dieted over the years, who aren’t sure how or where to start, and often have lost confidence in their abilities to make good choices around food.

 

 

 

For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you each of the main steps in my RLE (aka: Livable Diet) approach, one step at a time, so that you can start implementing these tools in your real life, too!

 

 

 

Because life is too short to always struggle with food and eating choices, and diets and deprivation don’t work—we need solid and actionable strategies that meet the needs of our own unique bodies and real lives to be long-term successful.

 

 

You can get these actionable tips, plus cheat sheets, here:  http://bit.ly/LivableDiet10Steps

 

 

Over the next 10 weeks, I’ll be sharing my 10 steps for ditching the diet mentality for good and creating your own flexible, adaptable and permanently effective ‘Livable Diet.’

 

 

Each Thursday, I’ll be sending out a single step in the process, with actionable tips and even a cheat sheet to help you start on the path to diet freedom and creating your own adaptable, sustainable, effective Livable Diet.

 

 

FYI: there is ZERO obligation to do anything or purchase anything—it’s purely for educational purposes and I just wanted to make sure you had to opportunity to take part and start tuning up your diet and eating habits RIGHT NOW.

 

 

Sign up here to get my ’10 Steps to a Livable Diet’ email series delivered to you:

http://bit.ly/LivableDiet10Steps

 

 

#TheLivableDiet

#TheNourishedMind

 

 

 

 

 

 

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