Category Archives: Weight Loss

2017 Prep Update: Day 164 or Why I Shaved My Head


Oh, hi!  Haven’t written in a long time.  Sorry.  Part of that is because I am a busy teacher.   But when I’m quiet, it usually means I’m having a difficult time and I just don’t want to write until I’m through it and can reflect back.   This might be a long post.  I’ll break it up into sections:  Training, Diet, and Hair (or why I shaved my head)

Training

That new training split I told you about in my last post in February didn’t work well for me at all.  It was too much…everything.  I’m an introvert who teaches high school kids – and right now, I have 189 student on my roster.  Each of those students is working at their own pace.  If you’re a teacher reading this – yeah.  It’s like that.  So to say my brain is fried at the end of the day is not an exaggeration.  Lifting is how I manage stress and bodybuilding gives the lifting a goal so I will do self-care when I realistically have no time for self-care.  That phase with whole body lifts pushed my central nervous system too hard each time.  And having to deal with RPEs at 4:30 in the morning – it was not fun.  It was stressful.  When I was in the middle of it and I could not make it work, I was frustrated. Using Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a well-documented technique.  Many lifters like it and have had success with it.  It was hard for me to accept that I couldn’t do it.  I tried to communicate what was wrong to my coach, but I didn’t know how to explain what wasn’t working.  Initially, he thought I didn’t understand the philosophy, so we lost a couple of days trading emails about that.  There were days I hated going to the gym – and that never happens.  I was getting hurt because I was distracted from paying attention to my form.  I literally cried during a couple workouts.  I felt like my coach and I were not working together well and that bothered me more than the issue with the program.   I finally just quit that split.  I didn’t quit lifting.  I just put myself back onto a familiar split.  Told my coach what I was doing.  We agreed to just go back to an older split that worked well.  I updated a couple of exercises.  And since I’ve been back on that split, I’ve hit a couple PRs on accessory movements each week.

Reflecting, I’ve learned…

  • I hate whole body lifts. I can handle upper/lower splits, but not whole body.  It’s hard to describe, but it almost feels too “confusing” to my nerves.  I felt my stress hormones go up during the lift instead of feeling the expected dopamine release.  I haven’t done research on it, but I suspect it has something to do with the physiology of being a highly sensitive introvert.  The “highly sensitive” part isn’t about emotions – it’s literally about a heightened sensitivity to external stimulation of the senses.  Windy days annoy me because I feel like I’m being assaulted by air.  As much as I love my job, I crave/need those breaks in the day when I don’t have kids around so I can recharge a bit.
  • I hate RPEs because I mentally rehearse my major lifts for hours, or even days, before I do them. When I look on the spreadsheet and see I have a 520 pound leg press coming up in Week 3, I subconsciously psyche up for it.  I’m totally fine picking a weight for an accessory movement if you tell me I need to do 3 set of 12-15 reps.  Given two conditions, I can select the third variable without stress.  But when asked to pick a weight so that I’m using 60-80% of maximum exertion, I get too caught up in the mathematics of that and I stall out.  Honestly, I’m perfectly capable of writing my own programs, but I don’t want to think about my lifts other than everything I pay attention to just to execute them properly with correct form.  I analyze every part of a rep while I’m doing it to make sure I’m activating the muscle intended.   I just want to open the spreadsheet and do what it tells me to do.  I hardly ever miss a rep.  If it says 3 set x 12 reps x 100 lbs, I will lift that damn thing 12 times just because it’s on the spreadsheet.  I will also do 3 sets of 12 because it makes recording it easier.  A set of 12, a set of 10, and a third set of 8 looks like this… 1x12x100; 1x10x100; 1x8x100.  That’s just a pain in the ass.  So I move the thing.  Every time.  And I believe my laziness in recording is one reason I build muscle.
  • I’ve also told my coach that from now on, when things aren’t working, he can expect a text or a phone call – not an email. We’ve worked so well together for over three years that this really was the first time we had something go wrong.  I didn’t really know how to handle it.  As a result, I feel like I was on a deload for a month.  I didn’t lose ground – the number of PRs I’m setting now is reassuring.

Diet

Our school district has a two week spring break.  Today is Monday of the second week.  I told Coach that right now is the best time to dig.  I have time to workout and sleep.  So that’s what I’ve been doing.  Scale has been dropping a little every day.  I am now about 1-2 pounds over my scale weight before we did peak week for my last show.  I still have 3 months.  Conditioning this time will be better.   This isn’t a surprise to me.  We planned this back in 2015 after the last show.  Last week, I brought the calories down to about 10 kcal/pound of body weight for 5 days, then 2 days of slightly more to recover.  I will repeat that again this week.  Coach decides what happens after that based on where we are at.   The actual macro breakdown has my protein set at 160 grams, carbs range between 130 and 150 grams, and fats are coming in under 20 grams.  I don’t stress about hitting any number exactly except for the protein and the calorie.  I’ve got this thing dialed in most days, though.  Since Coach brought protein up, I haven’t felt super hungry.  I also figured out that if I split my morning meal in half and eat more frequently after my early morning lift, I feel better.

I’m satisfied with my progress.  There are 111 days left in this prep.  There is an end-goal for stage, but the real goal is just navigating through these next 111 days as an endurance challenge.  Can I do my life while pushing myself physically in ways I’ve never done before?  Will I be able to manage stress of life while under the stress of what I’m doing to my body composition?  And can I do this with a little grace and sense of humor?  I have stayed on course, but I haven’t been that graceful about it over the last month.  I hope to have learned a lesson I can use over the next 3 months.   This is all for fun, right?  Nothing life and death about this thing.

Hair

This next show is pivotal for me.  I’m heading right back to the same show I did in 2015 that wrecked me a little bit.  I have no idea what to expect after what happened the last time I was on that stage in front of those judges.  And then I had that frustrating lifting month in February.  In hindsight, I see it as a blessing now.  I had every reason to quit – lifting sucked, I turned 55, I’m busy, it’s hard to do, and there isn’t a tangible reason to compete… but I didn’t quit.  I couldn’t quit.   I don’t quit.  But there wasn’t much positive pulling me towards something instead of a general “I don’t quit” stubborness.  Then one day I woke up and a switch had flipped.  I needed to commit and commence with the “ass-kickin’-takin’-names” part of this prep.  That morning, I registered for the show.

I’ve felt different since then.  It’s about redemption now.  Maybe I will always be put in the last place.  So what?  I’m still showing up, aren’t I?  This is amateur women’s bodybuilding.  There is no real-world difference between “overall” and “last place”.   There aren’t cash prizes.  There will be no contracts or sponsorships.  Those of us who do this are motivated by something else.  If the width of my pelvis screws up my symmetry, I can’t give a fuck about that because I can’t change it.  But I can prep hard to lose enough fat so that the glutes attached to that wide pelvis will be visible.  If it’s possible, I can do that.   I have built my delts and quads a little.  That will help with the symmetry a bit.  And I can get creative with posing to emphasize some things and distract away from others.

But how can I be braver?  How can I make sure I hear that little voice in my head that reminds me to be a badass every day when the doubts can be so loud????

So that happened.  This is my signal to myself to remember who I am and why I’m doing this.  I get a reminder every time I see a reflection.  I get a reminder every time that side of my head gets cold, too.  Hahahaha!  To be honest, it was an impulsive thought at first, but I thought about it for a week.  I pulled my hair back and tried to imagine it.  I was beyond excited to get this done.  After I walked around with it for a few days, I figured out why I needed to do it. I’ve had it about a week and I love it.  Not a single regret yet.

Sorry about the length.  Thanks for hanging in there with me!  The support I get keeps me going.  Thank you!!

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Contest Prep, My Lifting Log, Nutrition, Weight Loss

Menopause, Weight Loss, and Training

This is a useful, informative post.  Please share it and save it for reference later.

My friend, Colin DeWaay, loves to read research more than I do, so I asked him to look for the science being done on how menopause changes how our bodies respond to weight training.  We also know there is something different about how we store fat and how long it takes to lose it.  Too often, menopause is discussed as if it were a disease -as if aging were a disease – which neither are because continuing to be alive is actually NOT a disease… (Oops – off my soapbox now.)  One thing that did not come up in the research, but that I strongly believe is an issue for us, is cortisol.   I believe there is a link between increased cortisol and menopause.  And I also believe cortisol may be increased by life stress that comes with being a female of a certain age with all sorts of adult responsibilities to juggle – and then add sleep-deprivation to that mix.   I suggest you look around online for more information about cortisol.  There is research out there about it, but maybe it’s not been specifically studied in combination with menopause very often?  I have seen it studied as a result of sleep disturbances… Hello?  Night sweats? ~ Tammy

 

I have to be honest. I’ve been dragging my feet writing this article for a long time. After my last blog about getting the most out of an online coach I actually planned on writing about weight loss for women in their 50’s. Then Tammy reached out to me wondering if I’d write about weight loss, muscle growth, etc. in menopausal women. So it only made sense, only one problem. As a 37-year-old male without an extensive background in this subject, who am I to tell you what to do?

Well I guess because it’s my job (my certification and the text books I’ve read cover this but it’s SO small) and I do have a large number of clients who fit this demographic. But at the end of the day all I can do is empathize and teach what I’ve discovered. I can’t know what it’s like or how it feels on a personal level, however, I want to help people the best I can, so let’s do this. (Side note even if you’re a women not even close to menopause, you could likely get a lot out of this article.)

So with that I set out to scour through PubMed to gather as much relevant information I could. After searching and searching, reading and reading, putting together as much data as I could, wanna know what I found? Well for one I think there’s a severe lack of data on this demographic, which is actually something I’ve noticed on my own. Whenever I get a unique problem with a client the first thing I do is try to find data to help give me answers. Rarely is there much out there in the way of menopausal women, which even researchers seem to agree with. (1)

The other thing I’ve found? If you’re a menopausal/postmenopausal woman, this stuff’s probably going to be tough…. Really tough. Probably not what you wanted to hear I’m sure, but don’t stop reading now. Even though it’s likely going to be more difficult for you than many others, it’s also more important than ever you get a handle on things. Even if the odds are stacked against you. Let’s discuss.

Due to many hormonal changes that occur during menopause, the risk of raising body fat increases significantly. Sitting around being inactive and eating whatever you want is a recipe for things to get worse in a hurry. With that comes the increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, at least partially due to increases of fat within the abdominal cavity (AKA visceral adipose tissue or VAT.)(2)  In a nutshell, research shows that post-menopausal women are at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases since VAT is considered a correlation and they are more prone to store fat in that area, even if total fat loss is the same during a weight reduction program. (3)

Another major player that hardly anyone ever talks about is the importance of minimizing loss of bone mineral density (BMD.) Likely due to significant drops in estrogen women in perimenopause might experience up to a 3% loss of BMD a year if they aren’t active or on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and can even carry on post menopause. This is why osteoporosis is such a problem in older females. Since the loss of BMD can be slowed with heavy resistance training, this is just one more reason to lift weights. For those who haven’t reached their upper 30’s yet (around the time women start experiencing a loss in BMD) it’s all the more reason to start heavy strength training NOW.

The good news? Aging does not appear to reduce the ability of our bodies to adapt to strength training. Improvements in BMD as well as strength, power, muscle mass and functional capabilities have been observed in older people participating in strength training programs. (4, 5, 6) Basically no matter where your starting point is or how old you are, you can make improvements. Just proof that it really never is too late to start.

Before I go on I’d like to say one quick thing about HRT, this gets thrown around a lot. This is NOT something I can suggest nor should anyone tell you whether you shouldn’t or shouldn’t go down that path. That is something for you and your doctor to discuss if it’s the right thing for you or not. I’ve heard of other trainers telling their clients they need to get HRT and that is NOT okay. I’m not, nor is any other trainer qualified to make that assessment.

Anyway, what do most experts recommend as an effective method to prevent obesity or reduce body fat during menopause? Well, diet and exercise of course. (7) One study took 439 overweight-obese postmenopausal sedentary women and assigned them into one of 4 groups. Basically there was a group that dieted only, exercised only, dieted and exercised and a control group. After 1 year not surprisingly the diet and exercise group did the best losing 10.8% of their body weight, followed by 8.5% for the diet group, and 2.4% for the exercise only group. (1)

As you can see fat loss is most definitely possible for postmenopausal women, it’s just likely results are going to be slower than you’d like. You MUST be okay with this, and focus on a plan you find to be sustainable. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, the time is going to pass anyway. The unfortunate truth is if you’re unhealthy now, it’s only going to get worse if you don’t do anything about it. This is why I said it’s more important than ever to get serious because the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle will pile up a lot faster when you become menopausal.

Again don’t get me wrong, I definitely empathize with you ladies. I really do. You were dealt a tough hand and I can’t pretend to know what it’s like. Set aside for a moment all the physiological reasons obtaining and maintaining a healthy body is likely more difficult, you have to add on all the factors that make training and staying mentally in the game tough. Things like hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, menstrual irregularity, lowered sex drive, mood swings/irritability, etc. Also dealing with the emotions that come with no longer being able to conceive and everything else that comes when your body changes on you. ALL of life’s stressors, mental and physical, add up and need to be factored in.

This stuff goes WAY beyond just physical change. You have every reason in the world to feel like it’s impossible. You have every right to feel like you should give up. But I’m telling you right now, DON’T.  You don’t have to be perfect, hell you shouldn’t even TRY to be perfect. I’d actually argue it’s more important to be more flexible at this stage. You have a lot of things to deal with and work around, so factor that all in. The worst thing you can do is go down the all or nothing path. Because all or nothing ALWAYS ends in nothing.

That said, now more than ever is it important to take care of yourself. Your body is fighting against you and you basically have two choices. Lay down and let it take you out, or fight back. Go ahead, feel your feelings, you can’t control how you feel and there is NOTHING wrong with the way you feel. But you CAN do something about what you do about it. I wouldn’t be doing you any good if I said “It’s okay, it’s going to be hard so go ahead and give up” and more importantly you don’t want to tell yourself that.

Time and time again people (much like Tammy herself) have shown that it absolutely can be done. Results may come slow, it may be difficult, but it’s literally life and death stuff here. Don’t take it lightly. Start slow, allow for sufficient recovery, make small changes, keep learning and getting better and if you need help by all means get help. Regardless, like Tammy always says, “Just keep showing up.” Remember, it may suck that it’s more difficult for you than others, but reality is reality and you can’t change it. The best thing you can do is deal with it from a place of acceptance. Otherwise you’ll just end up fighting yourself the whole way.

The last thing I’d like to say is if you are a woman who has yet to get to this stage of your life. Do yourself a favor and get started! As you can tell it’s only going to get more difficult and the sooner you can get ahead of things the easier and healthier you’ll be in the long-run. Nothing is more effective than prevention.

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If you ARE looking for a coach to help take the guess work out and hold you accountable I am accepting clients for training and/or nutrition help. Just head here and select the option you’d like.

If you’re looking for more information you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you’ll get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance and a kick in the rear from time to time. WARNING – I tell you what you NEED to hear and not what you WANT to hear. So if you’re sensitive and like to place blame instead of take action, you’ll definitely want to pass. But if you’re serious about taking responsibility and changing your life, you should love it.

16 Comments

Filed under Cortisol, Guest Blog, Weight Loss

I’m 7 Today! It’s My “Other Birthday”!

Seven years ago today, I made a leap of faith.  Three months’ prior, the event that sent me to the ER was an anxiety attack, but I didn’t know that on that afternoon in March 2009.  I thought it was a heart attack.  It could have been.  I wasn’t healthy.  I was being treated for high-blood pressure.  I was not taking care of myself.  I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.  The old woman I saw wasn’t the image I had of myself when I had dreams at night.  I didn’t know how to be happy.   I was stressed because I felt like I needed to do everything and handle everything alone.  Many years before that, my mother died from a brain aneurysm when she was 56 – I was 29 at the time.  I guess I was just waiting for a similar fate and didn’t feel I could control it.  I loved my mom, but I didn’t want to die early, too.  That ER visit scared me and something changed.  I saw things differently. I decided that I was given a warning.  Maybe my mom was given one too, but didn’t recognize it?  Instead of thinking about myself from inside my fears and stress, I stepped aside and looked objectively at who I had become.   I saw a 47-year-old woman who volunteered to carry a lot of responsibilities, was going through the motions of daily life. but was also waiting for that thing to happen that was going to end me.

No.  NO!  I’m not going to go that way.  No.

I used the rest of that school year to research and plan.  On June 19, 2009, I bought a Bodybugg, signed up for the nutritional coaching that came with it, and resolved to do whatever I was told to do. Seven years later, I’m working with a coach now who works with competitors.  The details of what I did are not nearly as important as the fact that I decided to act and not look back.  I promised – no I vowed – that this would be the last time I started over.  I would not quit.  I would not stop.  I would adjust things, I would power through things, but I would not stop.

It’s been a twisty path.  I’ve had some great successes and some disappointments that almost derailed me.    I’ve learned the mental game is more important then everything else.  For me, it is the most slippery thing to keep on track.   I know that negativity takes me off my trajectory.  I cannot indulge it, but I can’t ignore it either.  I lean into it.  I dig under it to figure out what I’m afraid of.

Based on my placings at the three competitions I’ve done, I’ve accomplished very little as a bodybuilder.  Last place three times.  There are days when that weighs on me.  But I am getting better at re framing that faster.  I still have a lot left to do in this sport.  It’s a bit of a mind-trip to be 54 years old, a 20-year veteran in my career, but starting at the bottom in this new thing.  But that’s OK.  I know it doesn’t really matter.  Let’s pretend I actually won at one of those shows I’ve done.  How would my life be different?

It would not be different.  Not one bit.  Nothing would change.

I’d still be married to the same awesome guy.  The dogs would still need to be walked.  Laundry and food prep would still need to be done.  Bills would still need to be paid.  I’d still train how I’m training.  I’d still be teaching and don’t think my students would learn geometry better if I win an overall.  In fact, I am beginning to figure out that being placed last three times has compelled me to learn more about growth vs fixed mindsets, positive psychology, and overcoming fears – all of which are impacting my teaching practice profoundly.  I’ve never failed like this before.  Learning how to cope with this is something I would never, ever have had to learn had I not decided to be a competitive bodybuilder at age 50.

There is a big BIG picture here, too.  No trophy is going to be as important as fixing my health.  A placing on stage won’t be celebrated more than what I’ve  accomplished already.  No matter what I’m doing in 2016, it’s what I did before that I’m asked about most often.  I did a transformation post-menopause, which is something I was told I wouldn’t be able to do.   Others look and think “I can do that, too.”   Having me standing over here, doing this thing, flies in the face of what people believe s possible – and that’s a big deal.  (And for my friends who know that I’m not always this enlightened,  I sincerely thank you for listening and not slapping me around too much.)

This is a photo of who I used to be back in June 2009 next to who I am now.  Please, please don’t be distracted by appearances.  It’s not about how I looked, but how I felt and how disconnected I was from everything.   My current situation – seven years of self-care, six years of lifting, three competitions done, and a year out from my next competition season during the summer of 2017.  (A not-so-fancy-first-thing-in-the-morning-over-exposed-lighting progress picture for coach.  I didn’t take a special picture for this blog, which I think now was a mistake.  LOL!) Same dog in both pictures.   You can’t see Peanut in the first picture, but he’s on the end of that leash.  And Peanut finds a way to photo bomb most of my progress pictures.  🙂

 

IMG_8406.JPG

I can’t make it easier for anyone.  There is nothing complicated about what I did, but it isn’t easy.  It will probably take longer than you think.  It will be easier some days and harder on others.  Stars and planets will NOT realign to help you out.  No special workouts.  No special foods.   Just consistent work and doing what I knew I should be doing all along.  I’m just standing here saying it can be done, so adjust if necessary, but don’t quit.

HAPPY OTHER BIRTHDAY!!!!

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Filed under Competing, Life, Motivation, Weight Loss

Lift to Lose Fat – Guest Blogger, Colin DeWaay

 

Colin continues his series for Lifting My Spirits with this Part 4 – Training.  This is an excellent resource for those of you who were asking me whether you should lose weight first and then lift, or start lifting right away.  I’m posting this one with my before/after picture because I didn’t start to see the results I wanted until I started weight training in 2010

Tammy - before and after 8x10 - Copy

In my first blog for Tammy I discussed why the majority of people who lose weight struggle to keep it off long-term and gave some tips on how to keep the weight coming off by avoiding plateaus. In the second blog we talked about flexible dieting and the importance of avoiding super restrictive diets. Last time we talked about how to calculate your macros and I gave you a couple of options for tracking them. So now that I’ve covered much of the nutrition side of things for weight loss, I’d like to move onto training. Don’t you worry though – there is still plenty to talk about with regards to nutrition in the future.

Just like there are many misconceptions with regards to dieting, the same goes for the best way to burn fat from training. It seems most people think the only way to drop the weight is to spend hours running on a treadmill. But these people tend to run and run but get nowhere, literally.

While steady state cardio does tend to burn more calories while actually working out, it can’t hold a candle to the powers of strength training in the long run. See with steady state cardio (IE. Jogging) once you’re done with the exercise and your heartrate returns back to normal you’re done burning calories for the most part. But with strength training and other forms of interval training you get what’s called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.) With EPOC your body continues to burn calories while at a resting state as it tries to recover and repair itself from what you just put it through. This effect can happen for a few hours up to even close to two days depending on many factors. (1)

The other benefit to strength training is adding lean body mass to your frame. This not only helps with body composition (“toning” is the combination of muscle mass plus lower body fat) but increases in muscle mass helps your body burn calories even in a rested state. While some have severely overblown the affect additional muscle mass has on your daily expenditure, each additional pound of muscle could help burn roughly an additional 6-10 calories per day. (2) While it’s not a lot, every little bit helps right?

Now before you start worrying about getting “too big or bulky” I’d like to squash that right away. Trust me, people spend years TRYING to get “too big” and can’t. I don’t think anyone in the history of time has ever “accidentally” built too much muscle. Plus less be honest, if that scenario ever really did happen, could you just train less then? Anyway especially for women, who have about one tenth the testosterone of men, they’ll have a much harder time adding that extra muscle. Honestly for most people to get the results they want, I encourage them to do everything they can to TRY and build too much muscle.

Okay you get it, muscle = good. Strength training is better than cardio for fat loss. But should you be doing cardio at all? Well I’ll say this: Some cardio for general cardiovascular health is never a BAD idea, as long as it’s not extreme. However, honestly at least in the beginning the less cardio you can do the better. Remember how I previously talked about eating as many calories as possible while still losing weight so you have room to make adjustments when things stall? Cardio works similarly. You want to do as little as possible while still losing weight for the same reason. This way when things stall you have more options to get it going again. You can take away calories, you can add in cardio to supplement your weight training. You have options. But if you go low cal and do a bunch of cardio right off the bat, what are you going to do when you hit a plateau? You can only take away so many calories and do so much cardio.

The other thing to think about with regards to cardio is what kind to do. Once again I’m going to pick on poor steady state cardio. Sorry, it’s just not a very efficient use of your time! Perhaps you’ve heard of something called HIIT? It stands for high intensity interval training. This has been shown to be more effective than it’s steady state counterpart while allowing you to burn more calories in less time. (3, 4) It does, however, require some intense work and can be tough for some individuals to perform.

Basically you perform extremely intense exercise for short intervals mixed with a period of rest. This could be done by sprinting, biking, car pushes, sled drags, prowler pushes, etc. The point is you put forth maximum effort for a short period, maybe 20-30 seconds and then do a little active rest like walking until you feel recovered and do it again. Typically 3-5 minute rest periods are good for most people. I see a lot of people make the mistake of doing things like 30 seconds on and off, but chances are they aren’t putting in the maximum effort required to get the most of this training or they wouldn’t be able to go again in 30 seconds. If you can carry a conversation at all after your interval, chances are it wasn’t intense enough.

You can also combine the best of both worlds so to speak. High intensity interval resistance training has been shown to be very effective for additional calorie burn from EPOC as well as fat oxidation. (5) While I would approach this similarly as to save this type of work for further down the road, it can be a good option for anyone who has time restraints in the gym. If you need to get in and get out, working on strength training with very short rest periods can be an effective training method.

With all of this said there is one caveat to it all (there always is, isn’t there?) I’m basically telling you what I see as the most optimal way to go about burning fat. But what’s optimal isn’t always what’s best for each individual. If you absolutely hate one form of exercise and love another one, you’re going to have a lot better success doing the thing you love. Regardless of how “optimal” something is (this goes for both training and nutrition) the #1 factor in seeing results is adherence to the plan, being consistent. If you aren’t going to stick to something, it’ll never work. There is nothing wrong with steady state cardio so to speak, it’s just less efficient for both fat loss and body composition. But if that’s what you love and what you’ll continue to do, by all means do what you love.

So that’s all I have for this article. Not even sure what I’ll talk about next month, but don’t you worry, I’ll be back!

 

Also if you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life and taking ACTION, you should love it.

Lastly if you’re ready for change RIGHT NOW, I am accepting clients for both training and/or nutrition help. If you’re looking for coaching just head here and choose the option you would like. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

 

3 Comments

Filed under Guest Blog, Weight Loss

Health and Fitness Success in the Long Term – Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay

Colin and I have been friends for a few years.  We met through our blogs.  Because of his passion for helping others achieve their health and fitness goals, he and his wife transformed their professional lives so that Colin could follow his dream to be a trainer and coach.  He’s researched and written extensively for a long time, as a contributing author for other blogs, and on his own site, Colin DeWaay Training.  Even though I am a NASM trainer and Fitness Nutrition Coach, my teacher duties and my own training keep me too busy to work with clients or to even research and write the kind of informative posts I’d like to have here on this blog.  Colin and I share similar views on everything related to fitness and nutrition, so I asked him if he would be willing write for my blog monthly and he generously agreed.  I’m excited because you will get solid information and I can keep my focus on the motivation side of a long-term transformation.   Let me know in the comments if you found it helpful.  Thanks Colin!

When Tammy asked me to step in and write a guest blog for her I was thinking hard about what I’d want to write about. Given a lot of people look up to Tammy because of her amazing accomplishments over the last several years, I felt a good place to start would be how to bring about health and fitness success in the long-term.

Chances are if you are reading this you’ve lost weight at some point in your life. Perhaps you’ve done it several times. You see the world doesn’t really have a weight loss problem. It has a losing weight and keeping it off problem. The statistics are quite staggering. According to a paper in the American Journal of Physiology (1) 80% of people that lose weight are unable to keep it off for one year and the statistics just get worse with each passing year to the point where within a 3-5 years only a handful of people have kept it off.

Now before you read that and decide it’s not worth the effort, I want to explain why I personally believe most people fail to keep the weight off. You know the old cliché diets don’t work? That it’s a lifestyle change? Yeah, that’s true. But the problem is nobody talks about how to make it a lifestyle you can keep up with and that’s enjoyable.  When most people diet they focus on eliminating things. No more sugar, bread, dairy, alcohol, etc. The focus becomes on all the things they can’t eat, creating a pretty miserable experience. Certainly you want to focus on eating foods packed with nutrition, but I also believe it’s important to include the foods you love as well.

“If what you are doing now to lose weight isn’t something you can see yourself doing 3 months, 6 months, a year, 5 years down the road… it won’t work.”

The problem with the typical diet is they aren’t sustainable. They are too restrictive and too hard for the average person to keep doing. If what you are doing now to lose weight isn’t something you can see yourself doing 3 months, 6 months, a year, 5 years down the road… it won’t work. This is why I’m never impressed with short-term “transformation” photos. Sure that’s great you lost 30 lbs in 2 months. I want to see another picture in a year. Most of the time it will look just like the “before” photo.

Why? Because when you crash diet you signal your body to think there is a lack of calories. So your metabolic rates slows, and when it does come across calories there is a greater likelihood of fat storage. Your body doesn’t care about being lean, it wants to keep you from starving to death. That’s it’s job! So how does the typical diet go?

Usually it starts by eliminating a bunch of foods as I mentioned before. Generally there will be a pretty drastic cut in calories because of this. By eliminating a bunch of foods you start losing weight fast. Not because those foods were necessarily “bad” but because by eliminating them you eliminate a lot of calories. At first you start losing weight really fast. Multiple pounds per week start falling off and you couldn’t be happier. It’s “working!” But eventually you stop losing weight. It’s getting much harder than it was at first. You stick with it for a while but as the weeks go by and you still can’t lose more weight so eventually you give up. It’s too hard and there’s “no point” so you go back to your old eating habits and the weight comes back on. FAST.

Sound familiar? Why does this happen? Well first, it’s probably not your fault. You’ve been taught by infomercials and the media that fast weight loss is GOOD. That you can drink shakes and take pills and lose the weight for good. You’ve been told cardio and eating only rabbit food and cardboard is how you lose weight, you don’t know any better! When I’m done with this series, you won’t have that excuse anymore…

Here’s what really happens when you take this approach: When you lose weight fast it’s because you are burning significantly more calories than you are consuming. Sounds good right? After all you MUST burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. There is no way around this. But the problem comes from not eating enough. At first you lose a lot of calories because your metabolism is firing away from all the excess calories it’s used to getting. But then when you cut your calories it slows down.

You have to understand when you lose weight your metabolism will slow, there is no way around this. If someone tells you they can raise your metabolism while you lose weight run far, far away from them. When you cut your calories too fast your metabolism will slow down even faster. But the problem is if you’re already eating extremely low calories, what will you do when weight loss stops? Keep cutting calories until you’re no longer eating at all? No, you can’t possibly keep that up so instead you quit. And you go back to your old eating habits, only you do so with a much slower metabolism than you had when you were eating like that before. Sound familiar?

So here’s the real “secret” to losing weight and continuing to lose weight long-term. Eat as many calories as possible while still losing weight.  It is imperative that you do this for lasting results. This way when you do reach plateaus you have room to make adjustments. You can continue to cut your calories and get the ball rolling again. This is why slow weight loss is the way to go. It keeps your metabolism working for you. It makes it more sustainable so you can keep going in the right direction. Certainly if you have an extreme amount of weight to lose a faster pace in the beginning is okay and normal, but eventually you want to keep things around a pound or two per week max. And honestly the slower you can take it the better off you’ll be long-term. Plus as an added bonus, you get to eat more! Who doesn’t want that???

“So here’s the real ‘secret’ to losing weight and continuing to lose weight long-term. Eat as many calories as possible while still losing weight.”

Yes you will get frustrated sometimes because it’s taking longer than you’d like. And yes, you’ll be jealous of the people you see online and in person who are losing weight extremely fast. But if you just keep going and doing it the right way. Chances are a year down the road, two years and beyond those people will be right back where they started. And they will be asking you what your secret is. It’s something I see ALL the time.

Okay now that you know you want to keep calories high and take weight loss slow. Now you probably want to learn more about still eating the foods you love while you lose weight… That’s exactly what I will talk about next time Tammy has me back.

If you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are super sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life, you will love it.

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Filed under Guest Blog, Nutrition, Weight Loss

Can You Fix Everything?

This is my 20th year as a high school math teacher.  This is my 6th year of my health transformation.  It’s my 3rd year as a competitive bodybuilder.  Maybe it’s just because all these things are threads of my reality, but in my mind, there are lessons that I’ve learned in one area that apply to the other two.

My teaching assignment this year is 10th grade geometry.  This is a rough year for humans.  Remember that year you were 16?  These are the years when we expect kids to begin to accept consequences for their choices.  It’s hard for them, though.  Up to a certain point, there are ‘safety nets’ provided to help them in school…

“Yes, you can still do missing work.”

“Yes, you can retake that exam.”

“Yes, you can still turn in that project.”

We end up teaching ourselves (remember – we used to be kids) that there aren’t permanent consequences.

And then life happens.

I’m not going to get into the big, ugly, real-life things some of my kids have to deal with outside of school.  We all know those things are exist.  I think about those things every day when I look at them.   It’s the little stuff I want to get into.  It’s the late fees, the penalties, the loss of services if you don’t pay the bills, the relationships that can’t be fixed… the consequences of our daily choices that we have to live with.  I am one of those teachers that believes a big part of my job is to help kids learn how to avoid negative consequences by making better decisions.  Many kids figure it out fast enough.  Some need to fall down and learn how to get back up.  It’s hard, though.  It’s hard for them.  It’s hard for parents who don’t want to watch their kids struggle.  It’s hard for the education system I work in to let kids fail – but does anyone ever learn the big lessons any other way?  No.  We learn from our mistakes.  We learn from our struggle.  And I’m one of those teachers who would rather my kids fall down with me so I can teach them how to avoid another fall before the consequences of impulsive choices haunt them as adults.  I won’t take all the credit for how badass my kids are, but they are out there in the world doing some very impressive things.  I know I gave them a couple of the tools in their toolbox.

For most of my followers, this lesson applies to health.  How many years of self-neglect go by before we have medical problems that can’t be fixed easily?  I was lucky.  I was on the path to a major health situation, but my parents showed me how NOT to do it.  My father had heart surgery to address what years of bad choices did to his heart.  A brain aneurysm killed my mother after the same number of years of eating whatever and smoking. She was only 56.

So how far can you let it go before you can’t pull it back and fix it?   After my mom died, I was afraid I would die early, too.  I tried all kinds of “programs”.  Short term success always rebounded to more weight gained later.  I was working too much.  I was depressed because I knew that the way I was living and feeling was going to continue until I died.   Fear of what was in store for me probably brought on my issues faster, but it also made me paranoid enough to keep tabs on it.  I was on high blood pressure meds by the time I was 45.  In March 2009, a Sunday afternoon rush to the ER because I chest pains that wouldn’t subside – well, that was when I decided all the excuse-making and compromising was done.  I would get help.  I would throw money at the problem.  I would change and I wouldn’t ever need to start over again. I knew if I didn’t fully commit to my own success this time,  my life would end early.

But like I said, I was lucky to have had that ER visit when I did.   I made the choice when I still had time to fix things.  But there was no way I could have known that at the time.  I just knew where I was was going to to end up if I didn’t change.

I also believed that change was going to happen One. Cell. At. A. Time.   I think that’s reassuring.  It means that rejuvenation is possible.  I had to be patient.  I knew that, but still had some impatient days.  That’s when the support of people I put in my life helped.   Change happened.  And now I’m living with the happy consequences of those choices.  That’s my truth.

So I’m standing in front of kids every day talking about consequences for choices.  I’m setting due dates and sticking to them.   I’m doing what I can to help kids rebound after they made bad choices.  This is real-life, human training.  We can’t fix some things, I know.  But we can fix many things.  We can transform.

I pray, that if you’re reading this, and you know you need to change, you will find the courage to start NOW.  This minute.  It starts with what you think and what you believe to be true.   You know what you need to do to start.  Come on now – we all know – we tend to overthink it as a form of procrastination.  Eat better.   Drink enough water.  MOVE!   Start with what you can do now and progress.  Learn more, do better.  Search YouTube for videos about activities you want to learn how to do.  Hire a trainer.

Given enough time, fix enough cells, and things change dramatically.  You can be “fake” like me!  Hahahaha!

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Filed under Life, Motivation, Teaching, Weight Loss

3 Weeks Out – Time is Flying By Fast Now

This past week was an emotional one.

  • Two graduations to attend – my new high school and my old one.  I don’t have enough words to describe how proud I am of my students.  Every single one had to work hard to achieve what they celebrated on that day.
  • Had to go back to school to clean up the room, print my grades, and turn in my keys for the summer break.  It’s a short break in our district – we go back at the beginning of August.  I’ll go back at the end of July.  When I locked that classroom door, I was a bit overcome with gratitude to have finally landed in a spot that works with my life and where I feel appreciated.
  • I dropped our parakeet’s cage in the patio by accident.  It wasn’t hurt – but it flew away.  I didn’t think I was bonded to that bird, but I miss it.  I feel remorse that my clumsiness probably killed the little guy.  I try to push back thoughts of how scared it must have been with the thought that, since he was kind of an old parakeet and never been out of a cage, that this was his great escape.  He is off having an adventure.
  • Life happened – no details – but for about half a day, it looked like I was going to have to pull out of the show because we would need to the money I have saved for show expenses to handle the situation.  That made me a bit sad for about half a day.  It worked out differently than I thought it would, so things are still a “go”.  Competing is NOT a life-priority.  I won’t let it be a consideration when we are making decisions.
  • Since I’m not working now, all my daily routines are gone.  It’s relaxing to be able to sleep without an alarm clock.  Still working on getting my days to run a bit smoother.  My training and prep activities do take up a chunk of time each day, but they aren’t the most important things I need to do each day.  Hubby and home are my top priorities.  I spent a lot of free time over the last year dealing with school transfers.  I’m still juggling things a bit to make sure my priorities are reflected with how I spend my time each day.

Look what came today!  I love it!!  Fits great.  I ordered the suit last Sunday night and it was delivered on Saturday.  This is my fourth suit from Saleyla , they are affordable, they have all fit and are delivered in a week.

IMG_5024

New Posing Suit (Photobombed by Tippy)

This week, I chose the song I will use for my routine.   I had to download and learn how to use software to edit it myself.  It was a little more involved than setting a start/stop time.  I needed to figure out how to put three different chunks together and make it sound like it wasn’t three different chunks stuck together.  It can only be a minute long.

This is the song I’m using…

I think I have a rough draft of my routine put together.  Sent a video to my coach for his feedback.  The next three weeks will include a LOT of practice time for the routine and for mandatory poses.

Diet break ended and I was back on deficit days this past Thursday.  Body has dropped every day since.  I was at a prep low of 132.6 lbs this morning.  This is what diet breaks have done for me during this prep.  Haven’t really hit any unplanned plateau’s yet.  Those breaks are planned maintenance periods.  Not exactly refeeds – I have to eat a little under my burn to maintain my weight.  Months ago, these “diet deloads” were nice breaks.  Now, they are stressful.  Obviously, they are a psychologically stressful this close to a show, but the last two have also been physically stressful.  It’s a gear change that I actually feel.  But they are a break for my metabolism, though, which is the point.  These breaks are pushing my fat loss to a place I’ve never been.

Lifting has been going well.  Still no major loss of strength.  There were a couple times during the last week of school when I pulled back a bit, but that was to stay safe when I knew I was sleep-deprived and stressed.  This week, I’ve been able to do what was planned.  I am supposed to test my max lifts next week, but I asked coach if I could skip that.  I don’t need another thing to think about right now.  And I know myself – I get a bit competitive with myself when testing.  I just don’t see the point right now.  Coach said I could just add 5% to my lifts and skip it this time.  I’ll test again after the competition.

New progress pics were taken this morning.  I’m still nervous about being as lean as I need to be, but I am happy that I have already reached my goal of having better conditioning than I did in 2013.  I only post my progress pictures here on this blog.

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Filed under Competing, Life, Nutrition, Teaching, Weight Loss