Archive for Uncategorized

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trainer Tip Tuesday: Not sure where to start? Try at the beginning

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Today’s Tip: When you need to make changes, but don’t know where to start, start at the beginning–of your day, that is!

 

 

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Many of the challenges and pitfalls we encounter later in the day with willpower, nutrition, positive thinking/frustration, or exercise can be alleviated–and sometimes totally avoided–by tweaking one behavior, action or procedure you have in the mornings.

 

 

Recently, I was talking with one of my clients about how we can start to tune up her diet by making one impactful change at a time, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and implementing a totally new eating plan (aka: making her follow an arbitrary diet).

 

 

We talked about when in the day she feels her willpower and judgment fade the most, and it was in the evenings after working all day and going to the gym right afterwards.

 

 

By the time she got home, it was game on/insert food here QUICK!!

 

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Which made total sense after we took a look at her food journals from the week before! See, they come in pretty handy 🙂 

 

 

 

It turned out, she was eating very little for breakfast, surviving on coffee until 1 pm, then having whatever she could easily grab for lunch, then white-knuckling through the rest of the afternoon, her class and the drive home.

 

 

So we started at the beginning! Instead of trying to address late-day willpower and cravings issues, we decided to implement one change–to eat a nourishing breakfast.

 

 

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After she did this for a week, the afternoon issues basically solved themselves AND she felt so much better all morning long and started investing in a more nutritious, but easy to grab, lunch, too.

 

 

One simple change at the beginning of the day impacted the next 10-12 hours.

 

 

So if you need to make changes, but don’t know where to start, look at the beginning of your day for possible solutions.

 

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Look at your morning patterns, and think about what’s helpful or unhelpful about your actions.

 

 

Keep your changes simple, test drive them for 7-14 days, and see how making those adjustments works for you!

 

 

Start small, stay consistent, stay tenacious.

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Never underestimate the power of consistent, incremental change.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

 

#TheNourishedMind
#smallwinsaddup

Log it to lose it! How food journaling gets you to your goals faster.

scheduling for the win!

Second only to scheduling and prioritizing—or where we are spending our ‘life capital,’ our nutrition is one of THE MOST influential aspects of our overall health and fitness.

 

 

 

What we eat determines how we feel:  how much energy we have, how well we perform when we exercise, and often how we feel about our bodies and ourselves.

 

 

Based on my own personal experiences, and my experiences as a personal trainer and health coach, the absolute best place to start is to a) get really honest with yourself about your current eating habits/patterns, then start making informed choices and changes.

 

 

We also have to accept a few truths to make forward progress with our weight, quality of nutrition and eating habits:

 

  • There is NO magic nutrition silver bullet solution.
  • There are no miracle fat loss or weight loss superfoods.
  • There are no magical macronutrient formulas.
  • Just because ‘X’ approach worked for our friend, sister, mother, cousin does not mean it will work for us (and who knows if it will work long-term for them).
  • Chances are, we really don’t have a very accurate idea of how much/how many calories we are consuming each day.

 

 

 

In order to get the results we want, we have to be willing to put in the effort of figuring out what our food intake really is at the moment.

 

 

We must have the patience and persistence to implement a variety of small changes, over time, to see what work for us and feels right for our bodies and lifestyles.

 

 

Truly, it’s this approach and process that’s helped me stay in maintenance mode for the past several years with low effort. High awareness, yes, but low overall effort.

 

 

So, how are YOU feeling these days?

  • Are you happy with where your fitness, diet and health are at?
  • Do you have good energy most days, or are you feeling not as great as you’d like?
  • Are your pants feeling snug?
  • Are you not seeing the results you’d expect to be seeing from the exercise/hard work you’re putting in?

 

 

If you’re feeling like you’d like your results to show up more, your waistline to tighten up, to have more energy and stamina throughout the day, then it’s time to (re)evaluate your food intake.

 

One of the best, most straightforward ways I know to (re)evaluate our current food intake/eating patterns is by using some kind of food journal or tracking tool. If you’re a fan of using techie tools/apps to track things, then you’ll want to check out MyFitnessPal’s tracker and/or LoseIt!’s tools.

 

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I’m partial to old-school handwritten tracking, and I’m especially fond of my own Favorite Food Journal (you can grab a downloadable copy with this link RLF Daily Food Journal 2016). I like that it’s easy to carry with you, jot down notes in the moment and really SEE the whole scope of each day’s intake easily (without scrolling, etc.)

 

 

 

Plus, most of us stare at screens enough throughout the day, and there’s something to be said about the act of writing that ‘sticks’ with our brains a bit more than simply scrolling and clicking 😉

 

Like I said, I’m a little bit old-school 😉

 

 

No, it’s not slick or sexy, and I’m not going to show you a 6-pack abs shot to entice you to use it, BUT using this food intake/eating patterns tracking tool is VERY effective.

 

WHY?

 

 

 

Because tracking your food/food journaling, especially in a way that also tracks your emotions, challenges and locations, reveals:

 

  • Scheduling deficiencies—the times of the day(s) when we have problems or issues.

 

  • Low willpower times of the day(s)—the times in the day(s) when we are most likely to make poorer decisions about what to eat or just eat too much of something.

 

  • If we are underfeeding ourselves—letting our blood sugar drop too far so that we feel poorly and/or make less helpful decisions about what to eat.

 

  • Imbalances in macronutrients or food groups–We might think we’re getting enough vegetables, or protein or not eating that many starchy carbs or sugary treats, but when we write things down we see the absolute evidence/data of what we are really consuming each day/week

 

  • Low meal satisfaction/unmet needs—those times when we ate something that seemed like it was healthy and/or should be filling, but it wasn’t and we went back sooner than is ideal to eat more or eat something else.

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When we review our data from our journaling, we can see ‘where the wheels come off,’ so to speak.

 

 

It becomes so much easier to objectively identify the patterns, triggers and tendencies that tend trip us up the most, and/or where we can make impactful improvements in our eating choices and patterns.

 

The ladies in The Nourished Mind program have gotten a ton of quality information from using their food journals (the same one as I’ve given you here RLF Daily Food Journal 2016).

 

 

The information they recorded has helped them see, without guilt or judgment, where they were most likely to make poorer decisions AND to be able to relate those decisions to a distinct cause. This in turn gave them the information they needed to come up with a strategy for dealing with those moments/triggers.

 

 

Honestly, most of the time a little more planning and scheduling gave them an easy solution for avoiding those pitfalls.

 

 

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BUT they wouldn’t have been able to identify what needed to be done to help themselves out if they hadn’t recorded several days in a row to objectively see what was really going on in their lives!

 

 

So while it’s a little tedious, food journaling can be one of your biggest allies in creating a healthier lifestyle, getting closer to your body composition or performance goals, and just generally feeling like you are more in charge of your circumstances and less blown about by life.

 

 

Food journaling puts you back in the driver’s seat!

 

 

Now, some people have a tough time using food journals because, well, they don’t like what they see, or are embarrassed about what they’re really eating or doing. It’s often pretty easy, especially for women, to attach feelings of shame and guilt to food and our eating habits.

 

 

Here’s what I have to say on the subject:

I can’t emphasize enough that all of the food journaling you do and behavior change exercises related to your food intake and eating habits is 100% Shame-Free.

 

Recently, I read a great quote from Josh Hillis in his book, Fat Loss Happens on Mondays, which can help shift an embarrassed-to-write-it-down mindset into a more pragmatic one:

 

“If you’re judging you food journal, you need to grow up.

 

Beating yourself up is the opposite of taking responsibility.

 

Taking responsibility with food is looking without emotion at actions that work or don’t work for your goals.”

 

 

What I encourage you to do, this week and from here on forward, is to approach food and your eating habits more objectively—like they are facts or pieces in the puzzle of your fitness, not ‘good or bad’ things.

 

 

Stay mindful about your attitude towards food—it could be the perspective shift that allows you to move forward more at peace with your nutrition habits and any needed changes.

 

The big picture goal in using your food journals in the weeks to come is this: to look at which actions are working for your goals and which ones aren’t.

 

 

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So if you haven’t started, or you’ve been feeling resistant to using the food journal, I hope this blog post has given you some reasons to reconsider and maybe a little motivation to start journaling tomorrow!

 

 

And…

 

 

**For the next 8 weeks, I’ll be sharing practical and actionable steps and strategies to get your diet back on track and start creating a more ‘Livable Diet’–learning to eat in a way that meets your needs and your wants without actually dieting.**

 

If you’re not already on my email newsletter list, you can sign up here:

 

==> http://bit.ly/RLFWeeklyFitTips

Don’t miss out on the real-life, reasonable, realistic steps you can take, too, to create your very own ‘Livable Diet!’

 

 

The small things ARE the big things.

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Occasions like Memorial Day always get me thinking about the topics of meaning and purpose—as in, I begin to ask myself, does what I’m doing right now have meaning?

 

 

Does it serve a greater purpose?

Am I living with gratitude for the gifts I have in this life?

Are my choices, words and behaviors in line with my big WHY?

 

 

 

In our sometimes messy, busy worlds of day-to-day living, it can seem like the small things take over our existence and the large things seem too far off to grasp or achieve.

 

 

 

But the small things are the large things–just in smaller doses.

 

 

 

What we do in the short run (as in each day) creates how we live, think, feel and experience things in the long run.

 

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That’s why little habits, small positive changes, paying attention to the details of how we eat, move and talk to ourselves (which truly shapes our actions) matter.

 

 

 

Because, over time, the small stuff turns into the big stuff.

 

 

Look for little improvements every day.

 

 

Choose well with the small stuff and the big stuff turns out better.

Never doubt the power of small, incremental changes over time.

 

 

“Add up the short runs, though, and you’re left with the long run. It’s going to be the long run a lot longer than the short run will last.”

~Seth Godin

 

http://www.positivelypositive.com/2016/05/28/the-short-run-and-the-long-run/

{Trainer Tip Tuesday} Full Disclosure: My Very Own, Time-Tested Personal Eating Strategies

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It’s Trainer Tip Tuesday!

 

 

Today’s Tip is more like a few tips rolled into an approach to eating.

 

 

I got this question from a reader recently:

 

“I am writing because I was wondering if you could tell me an example of what you eat in a day and timing of eating. I am like all of the examples you write…My body is not budging from being 5-10 lbs more than I want to be. I am trying the less is more (b/c I overeat with too much cardio) with strength and interval training, but I think it’s my food that is the issue. So…wondering what u eat when wanting to lose weight just to get a idea.”

 

 

 

It made me think about the fact that I talk about eating habits alot, and different approaches to eating, but I guess I haven’t said exactly how I eat most days–so I’m sharing the guidelines I use on a daily and weekly basis with you today.

 

 

 

AND I’ll be sharing how I tweak my eating when I want to lean out a bit.

 

 

FYI, I pretty much ignore the scale because it doesn’t give me much feedback about my body composition (muscle and fat percentages) and I rely on how my pants fit–especially around the waist as that’s where I see changes happen first, in either direction!

 

 

**Spoiler Alert: I don’t count calories. I don’t count macros. And I’m not perfect eater, by any means. BUT the way I approach eating is definitely sustainable, and I’ll share why 🙂

 

I try to eat a serving of some kind of protein at each meal/most snacks.

What that protein ends up being really depends on the day, what I’m in the mood for, how quickly I need it to digest (I avoid heavy stuff before workouts), and what we have available!

 

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Here are a few ways you can get more protein in your life, too:  http://reallifefitbykate.com/wordpress/?p=601

 

 

I really, really focus on veggies each day.

 

I don’t count many things in my daily diet, but I DO track the servings of veggies each day. I try to add them earlier in the day to get more of them, but if I haven’t had many by dinner, I tend to double down on my servings or eat a #BAS (big ass salad).

 

 

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My drinks are all low- or no-cal.

 

 

I put whole milk in my coffee, drink lots of water or ‘cold brew’ flavored teas, and maybe a glass of (dry) wine in the evening (on Fridays might be more than one, lol….)

 

I tend to save my starchy carbs (bread, pasta, rice, crackers) for around my workouts.

 

 

Currently I tend to work out in the evenings, so that means I have more carbs either for snack in the afternoon or at dinner. BUT I’ll also have oatmeal for breakfast sometimes–I just make sure it’s paired with some protein so it digests more slowly.

 

 

I plan in weekly indulgences.

 

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Knowing I can have a couple (2-3) treats per week keeps me from obsessing or overdoing it.

 

It’s funny how food can lose its power over us when we stop idolizing or demonizing it.

Here’s what I mean and how I do it: http://reallifefitbykate.com/wordpress/?p=499

 

 

I often eat a square or two of dark chocolate in the afternoon.

 

I know that two squares hits the spot, but won’t trigger a binge, so it’s a healthy practice for me. Balance and moderation, right?!?

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I pay attention to portion sizes and use my dishes to help guide my portions (more on that below).

 

I listen to my body carefully.

Sometimes it needs more, sometimes less, of food in general or of certain macronutrients. I stay flexible with my needs because every day is a little bit different!

 

 

AND here’s what I do when I want to lean out (usually after a vacation or holidays):

 

 

**Track my food intake using my favorite hard-copy food journal.

It helps me identify any unhelpful trends that might have crept into my diet, which in turn helps me know which one or two changes (tweaks) I can make to get the most impact.

 

 

You can grab a copy for yourself here:  RLF Daily Food Journal 2016

 

**Use smaller dishes–bowls and plates, in particular. There’s a very natural tendency to fill a dish to its limit, and often this limit is actually more than we really need to be satisfied.

 

 

I LOVE this little trick/tweak–no diet changes needed and it’s a very low-stress way to make a big impact on our intake.

 

 

 

**Pay extra attention to my starchy/processed carb intake–treats, breads, crackers, pasta, chocolate, potatoes, desserts, and even wine.

 

This goes back to tracking, too–sometimes we just don’t realize exactly how much we’ve been eating of these things and a little hard data can help us make small but impactful changes.

 

 

**Pay LOTS of attention to my stress level and my quality of sleep.

 

 

These can be pretty big triggers for wanting to eat more–especially starchy carbs/sweet things. It’s much easier to listen to my body’s true needs and make better food choices when I’m more well-rested.

 

 

And when I’m NOT well-rested, I’m at least aware that being less rested triggers certain cravings and I’m less likely to give in mindlessly. This is when my SNAP method comes in handy (you can read about it here: http://reallifefitbykate.com/wordpress/?p=1300)

 

 

 

The way I approach eating is in a very flexible, sustainable and customized manner that is guided by listening to my body’s (ever-changing) needs, eating things that are satisfying in both flavor and nutrition, and not getting too hung up on numbers, macros, or anyone else’s rules.

 

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No one knows our bodies better than we do, and when we spend the time listening to our bodies and finding out what we REALLY need we often come up with the best, most practical and sustainable eating patterns—ones no other diet’s rules can ever achieve.

 

 

 

And that’s powerful, life-changing stuff!

 

 

 

If you’re curious how you can get started creating your own sustainable diet, shoot me an email and we can chat about it in a complementary coaching call (on the phone, Skype, FaceTime or Google hangouts—whatever’s best for you).

 

 

You can reach me here: kate@reallifefitbykate.com

Looking forward to chatting with you, and don’t be afraid to go against the grain and make your own rules!

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