by Meghan Lee
You've made up your mind.
You are going to look amazing in that bathing suit this summer!
So you started working out, thinking about your food, you’ve got your Fitbit or Apple watch glued to your wrist, tracking steps and calories, all the while looking in the mirror every day for a hint of result..and nothing, nada, why?
The struggle is REAL. It can be frustrating when you feel like you’re making all of this effort and coming up short with the show for it.
Having the right formula in your program is key to seeing the results you want.
Let's have a talk about what the right formula is and what you may be missing or lacking in your new or plateaued routine.
The Right Formula
You may or may not follow diets and trends that come and go. You may or may not seek information to help you navigate yourself into a healthier lifestyle. Either way,
The formula is actually just a basic math equation.. Eating, Exercising, Sleeping, Commitment/Attitude.
If one part of the equation is off...you may be sabotaging your hard work, which means slower or countered results.
Stop starving yourself. Starving yourself to a skinny body is not the answer.
If you're skipping meals, your body is already innately working against your goals of losing weight because it actually thinks you’re starving. For your body, if it has to wait long periods between meals, it doesn’t know when the next meal is coming. Instead of using that food, its storing it. If you are eating more frequently with lower quantity and higher quality foods, your body will start using and fueling instead of saving it for a rainy day on your hips. Believe it or not, this is how you lose weight naturally and maintain it.
Besides, now that you’re working out, you need food to have energy and create muscles. Giant swings of weight loss and weight gain are not great for your body. It messes with your body’s metabolism, hormones, etc. Having a balance in the food you eat and when you eat it, will create a balance in your mood and the size of your body.
I don’t know if there's a person out there who hasn’t heard that junk food is bad for you. That includes fast food and most things that come in a plastic wrapper or bag.
Obviously this is all about balance, so no one here is going to tell you that you have to stop eating everything you love. Those are sometimes the exciting moments in life :) I have chocolate almost every single day, if not chocolate, coffee.
But here's the thing... there are certain things that can totally sabotage your efforts. Refined Sugars and oils, fructose corn syrup, Carbohydrates (not Complex), Saturated Fats, to name a few. The fresher and more nutrient-rich your food is, the better. And btw, it doesn’t have to taste awful. Just check out Anahata’s recipe for Spiced Halibut with Mango Pineapple Salsa!
(Before beginning a brand new diet, to be on the safe side, make sure you check with your doctor.)
Eating to Fuel
When you start thinking about food as fuel, your decision making around food drastically alters. You know as well as I do, that a bag of chips has absolutely no nutritional value. You have to make better decisions when it comes to what you’re putting in, if you truly want to see results from the effort you're putting forth in other parts of your equation.
It is possible to work out all the time and never see changes because of consistently bad food choices. When clients tell me they’re not seeing results, the first thing I ask is,“what are you eating????”
What you eat is a huge portion of your equation. If you don’t cut back on the junk to get rid of the layer of fat encasing the beautiful muscles you’re creating, than you’ll never see them! And then you’ll be that client, talking to me about how you think that you’re “bulking”.
The 1ST ATTACK on fat is getting a grip on some actions that may be throwing off or halting your progress and what you can do about it.
Cereal: It's just not a smart choice. Just google it. Especially combined with after hour eating habits, total bust. I’ve seen people drop 5 pounds in the first week of not eating cereal. (This also includes chips!)
Overeating and Starving: When I eat 5 or more times a day, smaller, better quality meals and snacks, I‘m so full I can hardly eat meal 5. Seriously. It seems counterintuitive, but it works when you give it a good run.
Sugar: Especially when all your food choices involve sugar. A sugary drink, bread, pasta, candy, anything that is sugar or turns into sugar once it’s processed in your stomach. Sugar, in large quantities can get your body hooked. As you start to cut your sugar, it will take some time for your body and taste buds to adjust. When I bring down my sugar intake, I don’t experience these highs and lows, I don't get “cravings” or “crashes”. Smaller, more frequent, balanced and nourishing meals will keep your metabolism running and your addictions in check.
Timing: If you want food to be used during your day, eat it during the day. The only late night snack you want to be having, especially when you start working out, is a little bit of protein, to feed your muscles while your sleeping body is processing the previous day. You don’t want a giant meal sitting in your stomach while you sleep. The only place it’s going is OUT. Pretty much a waste of time and money spent on eating that meal!
The 2ND attack on fat and 2nd part of the equation is Exercise.
Quality and Quantity
How you move and how much you move are important details to always think about when you're creating or tweaking your exercise program.
I’m talking Cardiovascular Conditioning, Strength Training, Mobility-Stability-Core Training
Why Cardiovascular Conditioning? You're heart is like any other muscle, it adapts! To strengthen it you need to work it!
Why Strength Training? If you haven't heard the big news, strength training increases your caloric burn for close to 40 hours after lifting. So that's even while you're sleeping! It's also been shown that with increase in muscle mass you end up burning more of your reserves throughout the day. While increasing your bone density, you’re also creating-pleasing to the eyes-strong, toned, muscles that will help you do other things better, like pick up kids or groceries or a new boyfriend or put your bag in the overhead compartment all by yourself CAUSE YOU WORKOUT :)
Why Mobility, Stability and Core Training? If these 3 things are not taken seriously in your programming, you may be wondering why you've been feeling things in the wrong places. No one wants to get injured. Your body goals should include increasing your range of motion to free yourself from limitations, increasing the strength of the stabilizers in your body for better balance and posture, and strengthening all the muscles of your core. And I’m not talking about just crunches.There are around 13 muscles that make up your core. They all need to work. Check out functional core training to learn more.
(And again, check with your doctor before beginning a brand new fitness routine.)
Supply and Demand
You will never see results if you're not putting a demand on your body in your exercise routine. What do I mean by DEMAND?
Well, if you are one of those people that are saying, “Like, I don’t get it. I’m on the elliptical every day for an hour…” there’s your problem. Your body will only supply you with enough muscle, stamina, endurance etc to get through what is demanded of it. If you’re running that same 3-5 miles at 5.5mph at 1% incline, day in and and day out, your body has ADAPTED. It will only get strong enough and fast enough to sustain 5.5mph at a 1% incline for 3-5 miles. That is the #1 reason you’re hitting a plateau. You HAVE to change it up. It HAS to be challenging. If you want to see real changes you have to make real effort. Get out of the habit of doing what feels easy.
You ever go to some random exercise class that completely kicked your ass? You gave it your all, you had nothing left?? Like that.
Now imagine what your body would look like if it had to adapt to that 3-4x a week. EXACTLY. You feel me?! It’s time to turn it on!
STAY TUNED FOR PART II FOR THE FINAL 2 PARTS OF THE EQUATION!
MEGHAN LEE is a Fitness Professional, that worked in NYC for over a decade, and has recently transplanted here to Wilmington. She is NASM certified in Personal training, Corrective Exercise, Behavior Change, and Sports Performance training. She is also a certified Yoga instructor, teaching a range of classes from Bootcamp/Hiit and Circuit training to Barre Method/Fusion classes and a range of yoga styles. Throughout her fitness career, since 2006, she has worked for popular companies in Manhattan with different approaches to fitness, not to exclude her own private client base in the NYC metro area.
From creating and running programming and workshops, to creating and advising wellness and exercise prescriptions, she has had the privilege of working with all ages and body types, gaining crucial hands on experience and knowledge in all sorts of areas which are touch on in this blog. Programs, challenges, exercises, injuries, flexibility, pain, heath limitations, you name it. She is excited to have the opportunity to share with you all the tips and info she has accumulated over the years and Anahata are grateful to have her be a part of our blogs!
To contact Meghan: Megleefitblog at gmail dot com.