These are some common questions I’ve been asked by the people who follow the Lifting My Spirits page. Thank you so much!! There were some great questions that I don’t have the experience to answer. For those, I’m going to line up some guest bloggers to share their expertise. These are the questions I picked to answer here…
- Is there one certain diet plan you have followed more than another one?
- When you first started you journey what did you change first?
- How do you know how any carbs you should have?
- Have you had to deal with any hormone issues or messed up metabolism from the competition diet that hinder the building muscle or especially losing body fat around the abdomen/hip areas?
- Everyone wants to see results fast. When you were not seeing the results you expected, what did you do and how did you stay motivated?
Is there one certain diet plan you have followed more than another one?
I have done a few plans. Obviously none of them provided long-term results. I had to quit thinking about “diet” as a thing I did to lose weight and instead start thinking about the need for me to learn how food interacts with my body, how it makes me feel, energy levels, etc. I needed to learn how to feed and care for my body in a way that worked for this body, the one I’m in charge of keeping healthy. I think it’s a mistake to assume we are all exactly the same and that “plans” or “programs” will deliver the same results for everyone. “Individual result may vary” isn’t about varied levels of compliance – it’s about biology. We have to become observant experts about our own body. That led me to choose mostly whole foods over processed foods – but more on that in a minute.
I need to come “clean”, so to speak before I say much more. In the beginning, I was a religious “clean-eater”. For me, that meant I was judgmental about how I ate and how other people ate. I was excited about my new life. I wanted everyone to know this secret. But I was also not secure with my ability to stick to it and felt like I needed to be vocal about it to stay committed. Still emotionally eating, but in a different way. I played the role of a “beast-mode” martyr. I was annoying. I’m certain I offended people. I’m ashamed of that now, but I understand the psychology of that phase now that I’m here. I think some of us just need to go through that phase.
I had to step back and think about it objectively and work hard to remove emotions from how I fed myself. I learned more about flexible dieting and eating to hit macro targets (protein, carbs, fats) from my current coach. Food choices are mine. No food lists. The volume of food depends on whether my goal is cutting weight, gaining weight, or maintaining weight. I learned that whole foods – lean meats, vegetables, fruit, some grains, Greek yogurt, eggs –are the foods that worked best for me. In the beginning, I also wanted to heal my body from years of self-neglect. It just made sense for me to eat foods I knew would provide the most amount nutrients for the calories. I knew about cell-regeneration. I believed that if I provided myself with food that my body was designed to use for fuel and recovery, I’d be putting myself in the best position to live the way I wanted to live, feel the way I wanted to feel for the rest of my life. Nothing fancy. No programs. No gimmicks. No short-cuts.
When you first started you journey what did you change first?
When I first started, I knew that I would be overwhelmed doing everything at the same time. I started with nutrition. I did work with a nutrition coach, but I don’t think that’s necessary for everyone. I felt I needed to be told what to do and then do exactly what I was told. I’m very busy and that helped me stick to it. (See the question about my diet for more info what I did.) While I was learning how to eat, food prep, log, track, etc., I walked for cardio. I wish now that I would have started lifting sooner because I didn’t expect that I would love it so much. I was intimidated by it. I do think everyone needs to have some sort of resistance training in their program because of the health benefits – we have muscles and bones that need attention, too. We get too focused on the fat we store and forget that the structural part. (Fat doesn’t break when you fall. Fat doesn’t get pulled and puts in you in bed until it heals.)
The best approach for someone just starting is to pick one thing and make that a new healthy habit. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the nutrition, or cardio, or lifting. Or something else like quitting smoking. But just one thing. Once the routines of life have been adjusted to the first thing and you feel you can handle a second component, add it. Think of it as learning how to juggle. Start with one ball, add a second, master that, and then add another. Accept and embrace that you will screw up and be ready to handle that with yourself as if you were teaching a child a new skill. It’s OK. It’s more than OK – it’s necessary to screw up. We learn from those mistakes. We learn what works for us and what doesn’t’. As you learn, you’ll adjust. I’m not doing anything exactly the same way as I did it when I started. My program had to change as I changed. That’s what’s supposed to happen.
How do you know how any carbs you should have?
I don’t think carbs should be a set number. Carbs are gas in the tank – some days we need more than others. So when thinking about my nutrition, carbs aren’t set in stone – protein is and it needs to be set first. I like 1 gram of protein per pound of my body weight. That’s not something that changes for me from day to day. My fat grams will range up or down, as do my carbs, depending on my activity level that day or whether I’m in a contest prep phase or in an “improvement season” like I am now. It’s been a goal of mine to increase the number of carbs I can consume and maintain my weight. My metabolism is healthier now than it was before I competed.
Have you had to deal with any hormone issues or messed up metabolism from the competition diet that hinder the building muscle or especially losing body fat around the abdomen/hip areas?
No hormone issues that I’m aware of, but the fat on my abdomen and glutes is the last to leave me. I did the typical competition diet for my first and second shows. After the second show, I knew that I couldn’t go through that cycle again. It would undo the health benefits I gained with my transformation. That’s when I started working with my current coach. I don’t have food lists. I am free to eat what I like, just need to hit macro targets set depending on the current goals. And for my third show, I came in leaner and eating more than I had before. I also didn’t do a water-cut. I was drinking water all morning, eating back stage, and looked leaner and fuller than I did during my second show. These results didn’t come from one thing – it was smart coaching for 18 months prior. I’m excited to see what we are going to accomplish over the next couple of years, since I’m not planning on competing again until summer 2017 at the earliest.
Everyone wants to see results fast. When you were not seeing the results you expected, what did you do and how did you stay motivated?
I’ve been discouraged so many times. When it happens, I remind myself that this is a process. Change happens at the cellular level. Changes in grams, either fat lost or muscle gained, won’t show up on the scale right away. Just because I can’t see change, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. This is science. I know that if I am consistent and patient, results come. The goals I set are behavioral goals. I can control my behavior. I won’t miss a workout. I will stick to my food plan. The physical changes are side-effects of the things I do.
On a bad day, I’ll go back and look at pictures. I didn’t take pictures all along, but have been doing that regularly for the last couple of years. Those pictures help me see changes. I also LOVE lifting. I can’t deal with the stress of life without it. It’s my “me” time. I like the challenge of it. I enjoy pushing myself to do things that used to intimidate me.