Archive for May 30, 2016

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!

{Trainer Tip Tuesday} Make leisure walks a priority in your life.

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This week’s tip:  Make leisure walks a priority in your life.

 

Sounds weird, right? Aren’t we supposed to crank up the volume in our workouts, go harder, not do less–especially something so…gentle?!?

 

 

Intensity and hard effort definitely have their place in our weekly fitness regimens, but just not ALL the time. Which I found out kind of by accident!

 

 

Last year, I struggled with hormone issues–although I didn’t realize that’s what was going on until late August/early September–and kept it to myself because I didn’t really understand what was up with my body.

 

 

(If you want more details, you can read about it here: “The truth my ta-ta’s told me“)

 

 

Then I managed to get bronchitis on the way home from my first-ever business trip, and landed on my back for roughly 21 days. Walking was about all I could manage.

 

 

 

Shortly after I recovered, I overdid it in the gym and put a couple of ribs out of alignment, sending a chain-reaction through most of my paraspinal muscles. FYI–super tight, knotted paraspinal, and intercostal (between the ribs) muscles will stop you dead in your tracks.

 

 

Again, healing took a number of weeks, during which time all I could manage was walking and a massive amount of core work.

 

 

 

I worried a little about getting out of shape, but my hunger followed my exercise level (less exercise, less intense urge to eat), and I found that by December I had shed about 6 pounds and felt more my normal level of lean again.

 

 

 

All I had done was walk, core work, and occasional (intense!) air bike sprints each week. No magic diet, no crazy workout regimen.

 

 

 

Just…walking with my best girl, who was on the mend, too.

 

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My best girl, Daisy

 

Leisure walking gives our bodies the opportunity to repair. It also give our parasympathetic system a chance to do its thing–which is to promote relaxation and hormonal balance.

 

 

 

(The sympathetic nervous system is the one responsible for fight-or-flight, and the one that releases cortisol–which is a good thing in the right doses, but not so good to have constantly high amounts of in the body.  You can read more about it here: http://www.metaboliceffect.com/can-your-chosen-surroundings-help-you-burn-more-fat/)

 

 

So as crazy as it sounds, sometimes less really IS more–and leisure walking doesn’t just give us the chance to catch our breaths, it gives us the opportunity to establish better hormonal balance.

 

 

 

More hormonal balance means an easier time ‘staying in the middle’ physically and emotionally, and an easier time losing body fat while we’re at it.

 

 

 

Give a couple of shorter (10 minutes if that’s all you’ve got!) walks each day a try, and see if you start feeling better–inside and out–within a couple of weeks 🙂

 

PS–Here’s a link to an article that gives 10 MORE ways walking is so good for us!  I love #3 and #8, especially 🙂

http://blog.myfitnesspal.com/10-amazing-benefits-walking/

 

Leisure walking for the win!

 

 

How I lost the babyweight after #2

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Sitting in my father’s basement TV room while visiting home, 6 months postpartum, with a gorgeous and healthy baby, I was also feeling trapped–10 pounds heavier than my pre-baby weight, wearing a bigger pant size, and A LOT more squishy than I’d been before getting pregnant.”

 

 

That was in late 2005, when I just had zero idea how to help myself at the time, and I tried The FIRM system at home after my daughter turned 6 months old.  Following their exercise plan for beginners (but completely disregarding their meal plan—I was still of the mindset I could ‘exercise off’ what I ate), I improved my fitness over the next 12 weeks and my stamina and self-confidence improved, but my physique didn’t change much.

 

 

Of course, the heaviest weights I used for any of their workouts were 8 lbs….those were the heaviest ones.  I had lighter ones, too!

 

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Baby #2 with my 5# dumbbells

 

 

I giggle when I think about that now.

 

 

I didn’t’ end up losing the weight and gaining more muscle until I started a little bit of interval training on the elliptical and treadmill as well as lifting weights and working with a personal trainer in late 2006.  My interval work was pretty gentle, though, because I was rehabbing my low back/pelvic injury from horse riding accident, so sprint efforts weren’t on the table.  45 minute gentle interval sessions were.

 

 

 

But I was pretty determined not to have the same weight loss/fat loss issues after baby #2, so when I got pregnant the second time, I stayed active, kept lifting weights and doing interval workouts.

 

 

 

Why intervals?

 

 

Two reasons, namely:  I needed to catch my breath and stay oxygenated while working out (didn’t want to starve the baby of it’s O2!), and doing any other kind of workout on a piece of cardio equipment was BORING.  I never was one of those women who could spend an hour straight on the stairmaster—or any other piece of equipment for that matter!

 

 

 

Doing intervals was the ONLY way I could keep myself on those machines—and I was convinced I needed to in order to lose weight, or at least not gain too much with baby #2.

 

 

 

When I was cleared to start really exercising again after baby #2 arrived, I started with walk-jog intervals to rebuild, well, everything, and when the evening daylight faded, I started going to the gym again.  But with a husband in flight school and a baby and a three year-old, I couldn’t spend an hour or more working out!

 

With #2 when he was 4 weeks old

 

So I researched some faster-moving/results-producing super-set strength training plans and went back to my cardio machine intervals.

 

 

Even though my interval training wasn’t too intense, the combination of lifting progressively heavier weights (the 8# days were long gone) and my regular interval training sessions gave me results very quickly.

 

 

By the time baby #2 was 9 months old, I had flat abs and was a size smaller than I’d ever been before.  It kind of shocked me HOW effective what I was doing was for my body.

 

 

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10 months after baby #2 arrived

A strength training devotee was born!

A few months later, I started doing more reading about the effectiveness of HIIT workouts, and played around with different interval training plans (most of which I’ve shared with you over the past 4 weeks!), and had even more success with high intensity interval training on the elliptical and the treadmill.

Since 2010, some kind of interval training has been a regular part of my own weekly training routines.  Truly, HIIT workouts have been my go-to anytime I needed or wanted to lean out a bit or get back in shape—and there have been more than a few times when it’s been necessary!

There’s nothing like a couple of Tabata sprint sessions a week to boost the metabolism quickly—as in noticeably less fat around the midsection in just a couple of weeks.  Plus, it’s hard to be bored when you’re tracking your 20 second sprint/10 second rest intervals in those Tabata workouts.

The thing is, getting fit and staying fit aren’t a simple linear progression—life happens, and between 2010 and now, I’ve broken my big toe, had a bone infection in my foot, had surgery on a knee, injured my shoulder, gone on a few different vacations, and, well, overeaten through a few holiday seasons (but not this past year!).

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Gettin’ around with the help of a knee brace pre-surgery in 2011

HIIT workouts and circuit training with weights have been my recovery tools each time.

But figuring out which HIIT or interval workouts to do took time and research—pouring through Oxygen magazines at first, then scouring the internet in later years for ideas, comparing workouts, figuring out the structure for my weekly and monthly plans….

I SO wish there’d been a program like TreadLIFT available way back in 2006-2010!  I would have saved me SO much time and effort and brain sweat—plus, I would have gotten great results that much sooner.

At least all my time, effort, research and personal testing made it possible for me to recognize an outstanding and effective program when I see one!

And TreadLIFT is definitely that—well structured, super entertaining (you just can’t get bored when you’re sprinting and hill climbing through your workout), and designed to give you a massive amount of bang for your workout buck.

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This is why I’m so confident in this program that I’m sharing it with you—because it’s the kind of program that can help get you real results without spending hours in the gym.  It’s designed for real people who have real lives and can’t mess around with programs that take hours out of their schedules each week or that are tedious and boring.

Life’s too short for that mess!

To give you a little more idea about the kinds of workouts you can expect to get in TreadLIFT, I did the BUILD Legs #1 workout and made a quick video to share with you!  You can check it out here:  https://youtu.be/Un7Em3FcAhM

I love that the programs are done-for-you, that there’s a workout calendar for easy planning and execution, and that the workouts can be easily tweaked to meet your needs.

TreadLIFT’s workouts are all 30 minutes or less, uncomplicated and require minimal equipment–which means they are perfect for busy women, SAHMs, and on-the-go/located all over the globe mil spouses.  All my favorite kinds of people, really!

You can check out all the details here:  http://bit.ly/rlfbykate_treadLIFT

FYI–the program will be open for for registration only through this Friday May 6th at midnight PST ONLY, so don’t wait too long to check it out!

The Truth My Ta-Ta’s Told Me

(FYI I wrote this in September of 2015…I just didn’t have the nerve to share it until now–but I feel compelled to so that maybe my experience can help other women understand their own bodies, especially if they’re having a similar experience.)

 

I’m going to be pretty candid about something—something I’ve been dealing with for most of this year, but wasn’t’ ready to talk about publicly.

 

 

I’m still not super thrilled about sharing it, BUT it’s something that has impacted my health, my well-being, and my approach to fitness and nutrition, SO I think it’s important to share—because I’m pretty sure someone else reading this might be able to relate and might not feel so alone.

 

 

 

That’s what my whole approach to fitness, to training and coaching, to public outreach is about, after all—that we’re in it together, and we do better together.  I share my experiences, my knowledge, my enthusiasm and my tenacity in the hopes that it reaches and helps someone else out there.

 

 

 

So here goes…the story of my ta-ta’s and my new truth.

 

 

 

I turned 41 this past summer.  I’ve probably mentioned that a couple of times 😉  It was significant because I didn’t feel anywhere near as good at 41 as I when I turned 40, and I really didn’t enjoy it as much.

 

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My 41st birthday pic

 

Turning 40 was cool; it was novel.  I turned 40 and felt slim, attractive, fit and coming into my own personal power;  I terminated my contracted position with the post fitness center (Army bases are called ‘posts,’ FYI) because I was ready to take charge of my own professional life, and to train and coach in the way that was in alignment with my values and ethics.

 

 

 

I was going to ride this ’40 is the new 30’ thing into the sunset. 

 

 

 

Except 40 isn’t the new 30.  It’s still 40—and while my brain is still fresh, young, energetic and flexible, my body has some miles on it, and being a woman, these miles add up to unavoidable hormonal changes.

 

 

 

For some of us, these changes happen sooner, for some of us, later.  BUT if you’re a woman, the fact is that those changes WILL happen eventually.  And if you’re a man, well, aging will happen—which changes how your body feels and responds, too.  Maybe just not as suddenly or not as much.

 

 

 

(Now, this isn’t going to be some long-winded spiel about hormonal changes and women’s issues—don’t’ worry.  It’s a little bigger picture than that!)

 

 

 

‘Hey, look–I’m 40!!’ was the mantra of my first few months of life in my 40’s.  Then some unwanted changes started creeping in February.

 

 

 

My weight started to fluctuate, my cycles got off-track and I was moody.  A lot.  I blamed it on stress—Gabe had just come home from Afghanistan after 8 months away, only to turn around and go the states for training for 6 weeks shortly after.

 

 

 

 

I changed my eating habits.  I changed my exercise routines.  I redoubled my ‘positive thinking’ and ‘take action to improve things’ techniques.  Things still felt off.

 

 

 

Fast forward to this past summer.  Things suddenly were wildly out of whack.  And I tried to blame it on stress and lack of sleep (It gets light at 04:30 in the summer here, and doesn’t get dark until at least 10:30 for a while!), which I know contributed to my physical and emotional state of discomfort, but didn’t account for it all.

 

 

 

 

I blamed myself for not eating well enough—even though I was eating in the same way that had worked for me for so long.  I thought maybe I was training in the wrong way—even though I was getting stronger, faster and getting more muscle definition.

 

 

 

 

I blamed myself for having a bad attitude, for being too self-conscious or too superficial—I mean, I was supposed to walk the ‘body positive/body acceptance’ walk that I was talking!

 

 

 

But I was SO uncomfortable in my own skin for most of June, July and August—and I really was doing everything ‘right.’

 

 

 

 

 

The moment when I admitted to myself that my body’s changes and my emotional state were probably due to hormonal changes (at 41!!—I’m too young for this sh*t!! had been my denial rally cry) was when all of my bras stopped fitting. That doesn’t happen when I gain 5 pounds.  That happens when I’m pregnant.

 

 

 

And I wasn’t.

 

 

 

 

My ta-ta’s were telling me something I couldn’t deny.

 

 

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When my usually-a-little-loose sports bra became uncomfortably tight, I knew something was up.

So…I started to do a little reading from women’s fitness and doctor’s sources I trusted, and what I have been experiencing is typical of being in an ‘estrogen dominant’ state:  hormones are out of whack.

 

 

 

Went to the doctor, had some basic bloodwork done:  Estrogen is pretty elevated.  So there it is.

 

 

 

My ride the ‘40 is the new 30’ into the sunset plan just went *poof*. 

 

 

 

 

When you’re younger, in the back of your mind you know you’ll age—SOMEDAY.  I really thought I had a few more years at least before I had to deal with these issues.  But here it is already.

 

 

 

So I can either freak out, or I can be proactive, learn what I can, make any needed lifestyle changes and share what I learn and know as I go.  I like the proactive route 🙂

 

 

 

 

Over the past few months, as I’ve been sitting on my struggles with my body, denying that my hormones were changing, I’ve been mulling over a certain phrase:  adapt and overcome.

 

 

 

In the past it’s been my mantra, the cornerstone for my cultivation of personal resilience.  Plan A goes south?  Get Plan B in action.  Obstacle thrown in my way?  Build a ladder, dig a tunnel, find a route around.  Except this mantra wasn’t working for my current situation.  I didn’t know what I was dealing with, so I couldn’t adapt, let alone overcome.

 

 

 

 

And I don’t know that aging, because that’s what this whole hormonal thing is at the end of the day, is something that we need to ‘overcome.’  Heck, I’m pretty sure aging CAN’T be overcome!

 

 

 

Then in late August, when I left the land of denial, another phrase popped into my head: 

tweak and evolve

 

 

 

 

What has classically worked for me in terms of exercise, nutrition and even sleep isn’t working for me anymore.

 

 

 

 

I can’t ‘adapt and overcome’ aging and hormonal changes—none of us can.  We can fight and struggle with our bodies, we can blame ourselves for having bad habits, or a lack or willpower, we can cling to the idea of how we once were—and desperately try to claw our way back to that person…OR.

 

 

 

 

Or we can learn more about what’s going on with our bodies, surrender a little control, and learn to tweak our current habits as we go, and evolve into the next phase of our being.

 

 

 

 

We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater and start from scratch; we just need to be more in touch with how our bodies are feeling and performing, and make the small, needed changes as we go.

 

 

 

Because aging and changing aren’t light switch events—they are gradual and continual.  It’s a process.  After all, like I’ve said tons of times before, there’s only one finish line.

 

 

 

 

Having spent most of the past 9 months denying, struggling and trying to claw my way back to my slim and mostly effortless 38 year-old self, I can tell you that adopting a ‘tweak and evolve’ approach is already easier on me.

 

 

->I’m learning I really DO need 8 or more hours of sleep to feel good—and my body rewards me with a more positive frame of mind AND less squish around my middle. 

 

 

->I’m learning the importance of better stress management, which has classically been one of my weak points—I’m a hard worker, but not so good at the chilling out thing. 

 

 

->I’m learning I need to tweak my nutrition a bit—that some foods trigger more of an estrogen response, and others give more relief. 

 

 

->Most importantly, I’m letting go of the idea that I could hit the ‘pause’ button on time and aging just because I was fit.  I can’t.

 

 

 

What I CAN do is continue to learn, continue to tweak what needs to be tweaked as things change, to stay attuned to how my body is feeling and responding.

 

 

 

The takeaway I hope to leave you with, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, is this:  If what has worked for you in the past isn’t working for you anymore, don’t be afraid to change what you’re doing.

 

 

 

We are constantly changing creatures, at the cellular level alone, and what worked for us when we were 25, 30, 35, 40 isn’t the iron-clad formula for lasting success.

 

 

 

If you’re not feeling your greatest, or things have been changing, or you just have the inkling that something is ‘off,’ check it out.

 

 

 

You can start with a process such as the framework I use in Project ReSolve**, where you reevaluate the different aspects of your lifestyle that contribute to our overall fitness and well-being.  You can also just head in to the doctor and start having a candid conversation about your observations and concerns.

 

 

 

Whatever you do, just keep taking care of you—the YOU that you are NOW, not years ago.

 

 

Because at a certain point in the game, it’s not about ‘adapting and overcoming’ to be successful, it’s about tweaking and EVOLVING.  It’s about continuing to become your best version of you.

 

 

Here’s to always becoming being our best selves.

 

Kate

Quick Fast Forward to today:  prioritizing sleep, taking leisure walks regularly, learning to better manage life stress, and eating lots more protein and veggies (and skipping cheap carbs) have helped tremendously.  It’s a long road, and I have no guarantees that hormones won’t throw me for a loop again, but for now things feel balanced 🙂

 

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My current (end of April 2016) physique. And the bra is loose again…which is another story!

 

**If you’d like to sign up for my FREE Project ReSolve email series, you can do it here. It’s a downloadable 5-week e-course that gives you a series of tools you can use to evaluate the different parts of your life that might be affecting your overall well-being.  You can use them as you get them, or save them for when you need them or you’re ready**

 

3 Tools to Ensure Your Exercise Is Actually Helping You Lose Fat

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I’m so excited to share today’s blog post from my business coach and fellow fitness pro, Jill Coleman.

 

I first came across Jill’s work back in 2013, and was immediately impressed by her down-to-earth, reasonable, get results approach to fitness and nutrition.

After being exposed for years to the all-or-nothing approach to eating and exercising–you know, the EAT CLEAN (or else!) and exercise like a figure contest competitor as the best/only way to get ‘fit’–it was a relief to find someone who ‘lived in the middle’ but still got amazing results.

Plus, she openly admitted she enjoys having wine–and not just once a month. It was the first time I’d heard a fitness pro in social media say that!

Not only is Jill a fantastic mindset and business coach, she’s also a hell of an athlete who’s been a varsity sports star, rowed crew in college, taught group fitness classes, competed in figure competitions and has done some fitness modeling as well.

Bottom line: the woman knows how to get results–ones that both increase athleticism and sculpt some sweet-looking muscles (that’s what having a sports AND physique background will do!), while honoring our hormonal balances and metabolism.

Enjoy the read and her fantastic advice.

 

3 Tools to Ensure Your Exercise Is Actually Helping You Lose Fat

 

Thank you, Kate, for letting me take over your blog today! I love getting to talk about how to incorporate exercise that actually gets results (!!!), especially for women that have zero time, so this will be fun 😉

 

Many years ago, when I was in my early 20s working at my local Golds gym, over a 2-year time span, I saw something really interesting happen. At the time, I didn’t understand it, by now I do:

 

There was this woman who’d just started exercising when I joined, and her name was Sheryl.

 

Sheryl was pretty overweight when she began, but was showing up every day. And I remember being super impressed with her dedication and consistency.

 

She’d come in, get on the elliptical, sweat it out for an hour, then do some weight machines for about 20 minutes and then leave, red-faced, having worked her tail off. Man, I remember thinking, “She’s crushing it! It’s so impressive!”

 

It was at this same time that I was starting out in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, and teaching more fitness classes, getting into the gym early to get my own workout in before training clients and spending more and more time there as a professional.

 

So Sheryl and I would cross paths daily and I couldn’t help but notice she was losing weight like a champ. What she was doing was working!

 

I’d compliment her on her progress, tell her how impressed I was and try to offer a little encouragement to keep going (not that she needed it!).

 

Fast forward a year later and Sheryl had lost over 60 lbs. Amazing. She was still showing up every day, doing an hour of cardio or more and leaving a pool of sweat behind her.

 

But over the following 6 months, I couldn’t help but notice something happening …

 

Sheryl started increasing her cardio time. Sixty minutes turned into 90. And then occasionally I’d see her at the gym at night too, taking fitness classes. Same day, two sessions.

 

Huh.

 

And then, within another 6 months after that, I noticed that she’d started gaining weight again.

The weight was creeping back on. She was exercising morning and night every day. Cardio in the morning, plus weights. A group fitness class or two at night. And yet the weight was coming back on.

 

I felt really sad for Sheryl, because of all the hard work and time she was dedicating to something that was seemingly no longer working.

 

I remember feeling so confused by this.

 

Though I never personal trained Sheryl, we got close during my fitness classes, and I asked her about her nutrition. She admitted that she is hungry all the time. She said she’d even come to the gym at night for hours to just stay out of the house that much longer to avoid eating. She described what Jade, at Metabolic Effect, calls “Continuous Meal,” when you eat from the second you get home all the way until bed time. She’d try to be good during the week, but the weekend turned into a free-for-all.

 

Sheryl was stuck in a cardio cycle: eating more, and then feeling the need to do even more cardio to burn off calories, and then because of so much exercise, she’d end up eating more and more. Aaaaaand repeat.

 

Her metabolism was no longer in the way it did in the beginning.

 

Marathon workouts led to excessive compensatory calorie intake, which then gave way to even more exercise as a way to make up for it. And so on.

 

This is a huge trap that not only doesn’t work, but can be extremely damaging to the metabolism over the long haul.

 

More exercise doesn’t equal linearly better results ad infinitum.

 

Just because you are burning calories doesn’t mean you are losing fat every second.

 

Why? Because your body is not a math equation. Things like hormones affect how your body looks and how it functions, how hungry you are, how intense your craving are for sugary, fatty, salty foods, the quality of your sleep, how you deal with stress, how tired you feel, and more.

 

The things all impact results.

 

You can think of your metabolism like tires on a car. The more miles you put on it—from stressors like long-duration, moderate-intensity cardio, cutting calories, going for long periods without eating, and the sheer mental stress of being obsessed with your food and exercise every second—the more the tires wear down. There’s not as much traction. There’s not as much responsiveness.

 

Your metabolism doesn’t just run at 100% all the time regardless of inputs.

 

And doing more and more exercise to try to outwork it is not a sustainable input.

 

Think about Sheryl spending literally 3+ hours a day at the gym, only to continue getting zero results, and even backsliding.

 

This is tough, because often when we are at a place where we are doing a lot of exercise, it has happened gradually (like with Sheryl, adding a little more over months and months) so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when we became mentally dependent on it and physically less responsive to it.

 

The key is getting the body responsive again, so that exercise is working for you, and not against.

 

How? Three tools:

 

  • Less minutes and more intensity.

 

Intensity is the driver of results. Not duration.

 

Why intensity? Because of hormones. When we exercise, the body releases both catabolic hormones that break down fat and muscle (like cortisol and adrenaline). And also, if the intensity of the workout reaches a specific threshold, we release anabolic hormones, too (like growth hormone and testosterone).

 

The latter are potent metabolic drivers that help us burn even more fat after the workout is over. And yes, testosterone is even important for women! It’s the thing that helps us hang on to our muscle—which is the body’s tissue that burns the most calories at rest. We need it, especially as we get older, or it’ll be even harder to not gain weight.

 

For optimal intensity (and resultant fat loss and body change), the research shows that 40 minutes of exercise MAX is the place where the body creates that hormonal sweet spot, that optimal hormonal soup.

 

The shorter the workout, the more intensely you can exercise. Which is why I love the new #treadLIFT program that I just released. All 30 minutes or less.

 

  • Take more rest during your workout.

 

Rest and recovery, both within the workout and between workouts is the #1 thing that predicts how intense the workout will be.

 

Think about it: if you are giving yourself rest (like in the case of interval training or weight training, where you take time between exercises), you’re more likely to push harder. If I asked you to sprint a mile, you would automatically pace. But to sprint for 30 seconds, you’d probably go all out.

 

The most effective workouts for fat loss and body change include many 30 second (for example) repeated bouts of high intensity following by rest. Not just one single, long, steady-state cardio bout. That’s a pacing workout and if we are talking about changing your body, it’s both ineffective and unsustainable.

 

Give yourself rest within your workout (by using a technique like Rest-based Training that we employ in #treadLIFT, for example) to ensure that you can push harder: push, rest, push, rest, etc.

 

  • Realize that exercise impacts hunger and cravings.

 

This, again, is a hormonal issue.

 

Excessive and chronically high cortisol, as a result of doing long-duration moderate-intensity cardio like Sheryl was, will increase appetite and cravings. And especially for highly palatable foods high in sugar and dietary fat—the exact things that will negate all that calorie-burning in an instant.

 

Adding more and more cardio to your routine is not benign.

 

And while you might be burning more calories in the workout, your metabolism starts to lag and down-regulate. It doesn’t just keep responding the same way.

 

And compensatory responses in the form of not only hunger and cravings, but adrenal burnout, fatigue, overtraining, lack of motivation, decreased libido, and depression can also occur.

 

Life is too short to spend hours a day on an elliptical, especially when the results you’re after can be had in a quarter of the time with rest + intensity + management of hunger and cravings.

 

Keep things short and intense for best results.

 

If you don’t believe that you can get great results in only 30 minutes, you haven’t been doing the right modes of exercise! In #treadLIFT, I combine intense cardio with effective weight training, all packaged in 30 minutes.

 

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#treadLIFT workouts are designed for fat burning, muscle building or cardiovascular performance, but all 36 workouts have one thing in common: they elicit the best results in the shortest amount of time. Guaranteed.

 

Get #treadLIFT this week only and join the hundreds of women who are already doing the workouts! Registration closes on Friday May 6th at midnight. Grab your copy HERE and start getting way more effective with your time in the gym.

 

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>>> GET TREADLIFT HERE http://bit.ly/rlfbykate_treadLIFT.

 

 

#treadLIFT

 

 

Stop struggling and make your workout work for you–here’s how.

Commercial Rubber Dumbbells

 

“…I was just changing out of my running shoes and into my lifting shoes (yes, I wear different shoes for different activities, lol) and they were loud. Very loud.

 

 

And it was all I could do to just change my shoes and not open my mouth–because I know that free advice is worth all you pay for it AND no one asked for my input.

 

It was still REALLY hard to shut up on this one.

 

One woman was complaining to the other that no matter what she did, her body just wouldn’t change.

 

  • That she had horrible genetics.
  • That she worked out TONS throughout the week–biking or spinning a few hours a week, running a bunch, then putting in long-duration efforts on the weekends–you’d think with all the calories she was burning, she’d lose more weight (her words)!
  • That she used to really follow a strict eating plan, but that after a while, she ‘just couldn’t hack it.’
  • That she was now considering adjusting her caloric intake, increasing it from 1200 calories because she wasn’t making any progress and she was starving all the time.

 

The one commiserated with the other. She just couldn’t, despite her best efforts, get her body to budge either….”

 

This was a real conversation I overheard in the locker room at the post gym in March of 2015 and wrote about in this blog post , but it’s a conversation I hear happening all the time: ‘I can’t get my weight/body fat to budge, so I’ll so more cardio’….OR ‘I’ve been doing so much cardio/so many classes/running so much and I STILL can’t lose weight/lose inches…’

 

Initially when we start working out, our bodies NEED that aerobic cardio base—and we need the gentle, repetitive movement that classically makes up cardio workouts (using the elliptical, going for jogs, riding the bike, using the stepmill) to help us condition our cardiovascular system AND help our muscles and connective tissues adapt to—get used to and handle well–the new workload.

 

This adaptation is important to respect: we can’t just hop off the couch and start doing HIIT or Insanity workouts suddenly without some kind of injury happening in the first couple of weeks; it’s just not how our bodies work, especially as we get into our 30s and above.

 

So longer, steady-state cardio is important and works well for us…at least in the beginning.

 

But after we’ve been doing the same kind of workouts for a while, workouts that use the same movement patterns without an increase in the workload (either speed or added resistance), our bodies get used to that amount of effort and they get more efficient.

 

And when the body gets more efficient, it means that it finds ways to do the same job with less effort—less effort translating to using fewer calories to do the same thing.

 

So we can spend the same amount of time on the elliptical or jog for 30 minutes and get fewer results after just a few months. Naturally, the instinct is to just make the workouts longer—if 30 minutes isn’t enough, then maybe 45…then maybe 60.  Then maybe 2 spin classes or step classes instead of just one…

 

 

What needs to change isn’t the length of the workout, but the intensity of the workout.

 

 

One of the greatest discoveries I ever made was the power of interval training, first through taking Coach Kitty’s (Katherine Kaufman) KUT class in Seattle way back in 2001, and then cementing the lesson while building my fitness and my body back up after baby #2 in 2008-2009.

 

 

When you’ve got two kids under 4, and only a limited amount of time to work out, you try to find the most economical ways to do it!

 

Enter: interval and circuit training.

 

 

First I used the 4:4 ratio, then as my fitness improved, I started using the 3:2 ratio and 2:1 ratio, which meant that I would work hard (what I like to call ‘huff and puff’) for the first # of minutes in the ratio, then recover at a slower pace for the second # in the ratio.

 

 

It was incredible how sweaty I got, how much faster the time went by, and how much leaner I got—in just a few weeks.

 

 

This effect was amplified when I added weights and some ‘sprint’ efforts in different workouts during the week, too!

 

 

Strength Training + (Cardio) Interval Training =

Best. Results. Ever.

 

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My current physique results–no flexing, no filters…and no makeup, lol!! Keepin’ it real….

 

 

In less time, with fewer aches and pains (repetitive cardio often yields repetitive aches and pains), and less impact on my overall appetite—because doing hours of cardio every week will make you HUNGRY.

 

 

This increase in appetite is not very helpful when your body is starting to burn fewer calories in those same hours of cardio workouts.

 

So how can you start to make your workouts, and cardio sessions, start working better for you—and spend less time at the gym, too??

 

 

 

By swapping out a couple of your current longer, steady-state cardio workouts or classes for interval training sessions. And by adding some short, intense strength training sessions or circuit training sessions to the mix, too.

 

 

 

==>If you’re still a newer exerciser or just getting back into exercising, starting with a 4:4 work: recover interval ratio will probably be best for you, and give your body time to adapt (2-4 weeks, generally). Because the work intervals are longer in the 4:4 than in the other intervals, the intensity will be lower—which means the impact is better controlled.

 

 

==>If you’re already pretty fit and looking to kick it up a notch, then you’ll want to try the 3:2 or 2:1 approach, which are a little more intense in nature—meaning more work in a shorter amount of time!

 

 

On a treadmill, a 3:2 approach might mean running at a fast pace for 3 minutes, then jogging for the next 2 OR it might mean walking up a really steep incline for 3 minutes, then reducing the incline for 2 (that’ll wake up the glutes—trust me!).

 

A 2:1 approach on the treadmill would be closer to a sprint effort—but not quite there. It usually means that you’ll run at a VERY fast pace for 2 minutes then jog for 1.

 

Repeat these intervals for 30 minutes, or whatever you have the time for, and cool down and stretch afterwards, and you have a sweet, short, EFFECTIVE workout under your belt.

 

 

 

One of the biggest perks of training intensely for shorter periods of time (as in 40 minutes or less per workout) is that it is so agreeable with our busy schedules and the demands of daily life.

 

 

 

 

These shorter, focused workouts keep us consistent with our workouts since they aren’t overwhelming.  They keep us feeling successful, and they lend to some pretty fantastic post-workout endorphin highs.

 

 

 

 

 

Intense effort workouts = the release of more happy hormones, which is why although some of my clients and class participants might not love how they feel during a sprint interval, HIIT session, or tough conditioning workout (because hard work is hard!), they are ALL smiles afterwards.

 

 

 

 

So if you’re someone who’s been struggling to get results doing long workouts, OR if you’re someone who’s turned off from going to the gym because it’s too time-consuming to get in a workout, then maybe it’s time to give interval and more intense circuit-style strength training a try.

 

I’m telling you, I’m getting the best results ever from shorter, more intense strength and cardio workouts—at 42 years old 🙂