The Plateau

So you’ve been on a roll with this whole weight loss, new diet and exercise thing. You can’t wait to weigh in because you’ve worked your butt off in the gym and was on point with your diet. You step on the scale and all of a sudden all that excitement you just had turns to shame, confusion and frustration.

Before you throw in the towel and go back to your old unhealthy habits, let me introduce you to “the plateau.” Yes, it is a real thing. Now I am not making excuses for your stand still in weight loss, but if you were true to yourself and stayed on track, there are reasons why that scale might be stagnant.
So what is a plateau? It is a stretch of time where your weight loss slows down or halts. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs every time you put your body through change. What happens is when you start a new diet and exercise plan (or lifestyle change I like to call it), you’re consuming fewer calories than your body is used to, so your metabolism slows down to conserve calories. This typically will happen around the third or fourth week of your lifestyle change.

Most people will give up once they reach their plateau. I mean who wants to work hard and not see the scale go down, am I right?? But, you have to keep in mind that this is a normal occurrence and if you stick with your workouts and healthy eating you will start losing weight again.
I write this blog to encourage you to keep working hard and not give up. Here are a few tips to fight through this plateau you are experiencing. Just know that EVERYONE hits a plateau whatever your fitness level may be.

Change it up:
Our body’s response to change is adaptation. That is how we get stronger, better, faster and become more fit. Part of being fit is being able to adapt to any circumstance, so adaptation is not a bad thing at all. What we need to do is make adaptation chase us by switching it up every so often. This is why cross fit, P90 or military based workouts are successful because the movements are different every day. Your body never gets a chance to stop growing because you are always promoting more change. Same thing goes for a diet. Carb cycling and changing your caloric intake are the most successful ways of dieting because your body is always trying to adjust. So when you feel that you have hit a plateau, change it up. Switch up the type of workout you are doing. Cycle your calories to keep your metabolism burning full force. We are so afraid of change, but we have to learn to embrace it because change is a good thing and even greater things can come from it.

Pay less attention to the scale and more to how you feel:

You know when you go to the doctors for a second opinion? Well, we need to get a second opinion on our success other than the scale. Although the scale may say you’re not losing weight, you should check for other positive changes in your body. Are your pants a little looser? Is your stomach and arms stronger or more toned? Do you have more energy or improved mood? All these physical and mental changes are more important to focus on. The scale is just a number; don’t let the scale take the power of feeling great away from you.

Don’t compare:

We come in all shapes and sizes. If you are 200 pounds trying to lose weight, don’t compare yourself to someone who is 300 pounds trying to lose weight. The less weight you have to lose, the harder it is. It’s all about percentage of body weight. So if both people lost 2 % body weight, the 200 lb. person lost 4 lbs. and the 300 lb. person lost 6 lbs. Even though the 300 lb. person lost more weight, the overall weight loss is relative. Also, don’t compare yourself to people on TV shows like Extreme Weight loss. It is a completely different circumstance and unrealistic to compare yourself to their weight loss journey (but even they experience plateaus!) Focus on your journey and no one else’s.

Tomorrow is a new day:

We all have our bad days. We all grab the ice cream in the freezer and say screw it, I don’t care. It’s okay to have our down days. But guess what? Tomorrow is a new day and yesterday is in the past. Don’t let the mistakes you made yesterday affect you today. Every day we have a clean slate. It’s not the end of the world if we made a mistake. When you can accept the mistakes you’ve made and move on, that’s when success will follow.

Realize it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon:

You are in it for the long haul baby! This should be a permanent lifestyle change. It takes time to get where you want to be. Its not going to be easy either and treating it like a sprint will make it much harder for you. Embrace this lifestyle change; make it a part of your life. You don’t need to eat broccoli and dry chicken to lose weight; you just have to make the right choices. When you incorporate healthy changes into your life, it will become a part of you. I call it “the hook”, once you have made health a priority in your everyday life, there is no turning back.

So don’t get discouraged. I promise you if you stick with it you won’t regret it. It is a whole other world out there for you with endless possibilities. Having good health is the foundation of life, because without it we can’t enjoy life to our fullest potential. Don’t give in, don’t give up and keep fighting for YOU.

HAPPY MONDAY!!!20140721-090036-32436862.jpg

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Where are you on the spectrum? An incentive for life!

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A friend of mine introduced me to an awesome visual that is used as an incentive to be the best version of yourself. It is a diagram that allows you to see where your health falls on the spectrum and why it is so important to sustain good health. So before I get into the diagram, I want you to write down the 3 most important things that you live for. Whether it is your kids, parents, career, sport, whatever. Now, draw the spectrum above those 3 things. Label the spectrum like the picture above.

The Spectrum:On the left side “Illness”- Illness is the lowest point on the spectrum where none of us want to be. At a state of illness, we are incapable of living a normal life. According to dictionary.com illness is “Poor health resulting from disease of body or mind; sickness.” Once we reach this point in life, it is hard to recover.

Then in the middle of the spectrum we have “Wellness”- Wellness is the active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – The World Health Organization. This is the middle ground between illness and fitness. You are making the effort to be “healthy” but may not be at your full potential.

On the opposing end of the spectrum lies “Fitness”-Most people associate fitness with just exercise. In biological terms, “being fit” means “being able to provide for one’s own life and wellbeing; the fittest are those who can do so the best.” Being fit in terms of overall health means being at your full potential or as I always say, being the best version of yourself.

So what is the point of all of this? Many people spend their lives somewhere between “illness” and “wellness”. They get by in life by making some health conscious decisions. They experience the common colds and may have a few health risk factors. Maybe they are overweight or pre-diabetic. Maybe they are what people call “skinny fat” don’t exercise, eat decently but are still at a healthy weight. When you are halfway between illness and wellness you have a short distance to get to illness. Point being, the further away from illness you are on the spectrum, the longer and better-quality life you will live.
The closer to “fitness” you are, the longer the road to sickness will be. For example, if you get the common cold and you are “fit”, chances are your immune system will recover much faster than someone who is somewhat healthy.

Now take a look at the 3 most important things in your life that you wrote down. Guess what, none of those things exist if you don’t have your health. If you want to be around for those people you love, you have to have your health. Not only does the quality of life increase as you move your way through the spectrum towards fitness, but the length of your life increases too. Think about it this way, if you are fit, you will need to be hit with a lot of rocks before you get knocked down because your body can handle it. Incentive to be fit? Id say so! Let us take a look at some of the main aspects that affect our placement on the spectrum and let’s find out where we are now!

Body Composition: It is important to maintain a level of body fat that is neither too low nor too high. Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you have a body fat percentage below 5% for men and 12% for women, or above 20% for men and 30% for women.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you do not meet the previous criteria.

Cardiorespiratory Endurance: Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel during physical activity.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you do less than 30 minutes of cardio three times a week.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you do cardio 3-5 days a week for at least 30 minutes.
Mark an “X” at Fitness if you do 60 minutes of cardio 5 or more days a week.

Flexibility: Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint. Good flexibility helps protect your muscles and joints from injury in everyday life.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you stretch less than 3 times a week for 10 minutes.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you stretch at least 5 days a week for 10 minutes.
Mark an “X” if you stretch for at least 10 minutes every day.

Muscular Strength: Muscular strength is the ability of the muscles to exert force during an activity. Lifting weights help reduce the risk of osteoporosis along with other joint and muscular diseases.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you lift weights less than 1 day a week for 30 minutes.
Mark an “X” at between Wellness and Fitness if you lift weights 3 days a week for 30 minutes.
Mark an “X” at Fitness if you lift weights 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes.

Stress: The body can’t tell the difference between physical and psychological stress. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule, money, work or just everyday life, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the harder it is to shut off. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. (Mayoclinic.com)
Based on a scale of 1-10, 10 being extremely stressful, what would you rate your daily stress level?

Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if your stress level is between 7 and 10.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if it is 6 or less.

Sleep: In order to get sufficient night’s sleep we need at least 6 hours. Not getting enough sleep increases our risk for many diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It also decreased the immune system so you are more likely to get sick. During sleep, our bodies secrete hormones that help to control appetite, energy metabolism, and glucose processing. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep disrupts the balance of these and other hormones. Not getting enough sleep is also associated with increases in the secretion of insulin following a meal. Insulin is a hormone that regulates glucose; higher levels of insulin are associated with weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. (Mayoclinic)
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you sleep less than 6 hours per night.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you get 6-8 hours or sleep.
Mark an “X” at fitness if you get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.

Nutrition: Nutrition plays a key role in the fight against illness. It is important to have a well-balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables are important because they provide our bodies with antioxidants to fight against infections. Having a diet with sufficient amount of carbs, protein and fat is also important to control our glucose levels. Eating every 2-3 hours contributes to a healthy digestive system and blood sugar control.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you eat less than 2 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you eat 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you skip breakfast.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you eat breakfast.
Mark an “X” at Fitness if you eat breakfast that contains a protein, carb and fat. Ex. 2 eggs (protein) with 1 tbsp. avocado (fat) and 1 cup of strawberries (carb)

Now take a look at where most of your “X’s” are. Based on this, start to make changes to get you as close as possible to the fitness end of the spectrum. These components are few of many aspects of health and wellness and each of them can be improved. You are given one life to live, be the best version of yourself for you and every reason why you wake up in the morning. Happy Monday!!

Banana Almond Nut Muffins

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Banana Almond Nut Muffins (Makes 16 muffins)
Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas
2 eggs
3 egg beaters
1/3 cup almond butter
½ cup coconut flour
½ cup walnuts (chopped)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mash the bananas. Add all the ingredients except for the walnuts to the bowl and mix. Once it is a smooth, pour the batter into 16 muffin tins. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts evenly on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Nutrition Facts per serving (16 servings):
Calories: 102 calories
Carbohydrates: 9 g
Fat: 6 g
Protein: 4 g
Sugar: 3 g

Cauliflower Fried Rice (4 servings)

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Cauliflower Fried Rice (4 servings of 1 ½ cups):
1 head cauliflower OR two 10 oz. frozen cauliflower
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 egg
2 egg beaters
½ onion (chopped)
1 can of peas and carrots (12 oz.)
1 tbsp. garlic
1/3 cup chopped scallions
3 tbsp. soy sauce
Directions:
1. Break the cauliflower into pieces that will fit in a food processor. Place the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it resembles rice. Place aside.
2. In a stir fry pan, cook the egg and eggbeaters like scrambled eggs. Place the eggs to the side.
3. In the stir fry pan, add 1 tbsp. sesame oil, chopped onions, garlic and chopped scallions. Let it cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onions start to caramelize.
4. Add the cauliflower rice pieces to the pan, along with the peas and carrots. Let it cook for 3-5 minutes.
5. Add the soy sauce and scrambled eggs. Cook for another 5-8 minutes or until the rice starts to brown.
Nutrition per serving (4 servings):
Calories: 101 calories
Carbohydrates: 12 g
Fat: 2.5 g
Protein: 9 g
Sugar: 4 g

Dear-Diet----very-Funny-Goodbye-Letter-Cute-Picture

A diet is a temporary change in eating habits to reach a certain weight goal. It’s usually something that cannot be sustained and the dietary demands are typically unrealistic. How many people do you know of that have been on a diet and are still on that diet? Probably close to none. This is because the word “diet” panics people. It indicates a dreaded, boring and restricted regime that causes more frustration than success. Let’s take a look at what happens when we attempt a diet. If you’ve ever been on a diet, you might recognize these ways of thinking:

All or none way of thinking: This is when you slip up on your diet and eat the hell out of those potato chips you’ve been eying in your cabinet. I bet you couldn’t even enjoy eating them because all you were thinking was “I shouldn’t be doing this.” Then the next day you wake up feeling like you’ve completely sabotaged all the progress you’ve made so you mind as well go grab a donut and large coffee extra-extra. It then becomes a justification for going back to your old ways and then you’re back to square one. Well cut it out! If you splurge a little it’s not the end of the world. Tomorrow is a new day and you can get back to your healthy eating habits.

We always want what we can’t have: Going off my last point, it is healthy to have a treat (in moderation of course) once in a while. Depriving ourselves from our favorite foods is the worst thing we can do because we always want what we can’t have. Eventually we will give in and it won’t just be a few handfuls of chips anymore. Also, don’t think of your treat as a reward for eating well because that just makes us sound like were dogs. You’re having a treat because you can and because if you don’t, that bag of chips you’ve been staring at for two weeks will be gone in 5 minutes.

We diet with an end in mind: A lot of people go on these crash diets for some sort of event. Then after that event they go on a binging spree. It becomes this rollercoaster of dieting because there are always going to be events that we want to look our best for. Also, our bodies do not like this yo-yoing of weight changes; it likes to stay at a point of homeostasis. If you mess with it, it will mess with you causing all sorts of digestion issues. Save yourself the hassle.

You hate everyone that’s not on your diet: You develop this hatred for other peoples eating habits and you convince yourself your diet is the end all be all. Don’t be that person that sits at the dinner table with a puss face, critiquing everyone else’s meal because you’re in the corner heating up your 3 by 3 Jenny Craig meatloaf. No one told you to eat that frozen crap.

You spend an arm and a leg: Many of these crash diets cost a lot of money. I feel bad because I keep shitting on Jenny Craig but it costs a FORTUNE to buy meals week after week. I use the example of Jenny Craig because I actually had a friend that came on vacation with me, brought her Jenny Craig food with her and it ended up sitting in the fridge to go to waste. But guess what, there is a solution to this madness! Stop being lazy and cook your own food. It will taste better and you will at least save an arm.

I’m sure there are a ton more reasons that I could rant about of why going on a diet is pointless and discouraging but I’ll leave that up to you to contemplate. But before I end this rant I have to give you an alternative to dieting. So here it is:

Make a lifestyle change. I know that sounds so cliché but it will save you a lot of disappointment and head ache. The difference between a diet and a lifestyle change is that with a lifestyle change, you aren’t restricted to foods you love and you are actually eating real food. You aren’t consuming packaged frozen meals or drinking liquid for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s pretty simple actually; eat food with nutritional value such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish. Your body is a machine, it needs energy to function. Feed it with high sodium, processed crap and it will make you feel like processed crap. Fill your body with fresh, nutrient dense, REAL food, and it will make you feel energetic and fresh.

The purpose of a lifestyle change is to make it a habit, not a forced and temporary change. It may be a slower process of weight loss but it will be sustainable and enjoyable. It’s all about making healthier choices and changes. Portion out your foods, buy fresh foods that have a limited expiration date (less processed), and shop the perimeter of the grocery stores. Just eat real food and enjoy every bite of it! Mother Nature has given us many delicious foods, so appreciate them.

Last note- Don’t get me wrong, many people have success losing weight on diets but what happens when you stop the diet and go back to your old ways? Are you going to bring your Jenny Craig meals on vacation? So unless you plan on eating Special K cereal and bars forever I suggest you give this life style change a whirl.

EAT REAL FOOD EAT REAL FOOD EAT REAL FOOD!!!

Gluten or Gluten Free? Everything you need to know about Gluten.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is the proteins found in Wheat, Barley and Rye. It helps foods maintain their shape, acting as to hold the food together. Gluten itself doesn’t offer special nutritional benefits. But the whole grains that contain gluten are rich in many vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron, as well as fiber.

Common foods with Gluten in them

Wheat Products: breads, baked goods, soups, pasta, cereal, sauces, dressings
Barley products: food coloring, malt, vinegar, beer
Rye products: pumpernickel bread & cereals

What is Celiac Disease (Gluten Allergy)?

Celiac disease is caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten. It can damage the lining of the small intestine which prevents important nutrients from being absorbed. An estimated 1% of Americans have celiac disease. Some people may not have a gluten allergy but can be sensitive to gluten containing products. People with gluten sensitivity may experience celiac disease symptoms like diarrhea, fatigue and joint pain, but don’t have damaged intestines.

If you don’t have a gluten allergy, should you still go gluten free?

Gluten is just one of many food proteins and is neither harmful nor crucial to good health. If you have a well-balanced gluten containing diet, there is no reason to avoid it. On the flip side, if you don’t tolerate it or prefer not to eat it there’s no reason you have to have it in your diet. Going gluten free won’t help you lose weight due to the absence of gluten but people find that cutting out gluten can help them avoid the temptation of empty-calorie, high-glycemic, and processed snack foods. Then there are those who think they can eat the same foods but the gluten free version. There is absolutely no health benefit of switching to the gluten free version. In fact, food manufacturers often use more fat and sugar to make the product more palatable when taking out the gluten. For example, a serving of regular pretzels has about 110 calories and just one gram of fat. The same serving of gluten-free pretzels is 140 calories and six grams of fat. A gluten-free” claim is by no means an indication that a food is more natural, healthful, or lower in calories (WebMd). Companies thrive off of claims like “gluten free” because it makes their product appear healthier over other companies.

Then why do people claim gluten free diets make them feel better?

They’re eating real food instead of processed packaged foods. “ If you choose to go gluten free make an effort to focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and gluten free grains like amaranth and quinoa, this can be a very healthy way of eating,” says Marlisa Brown, R.D., author of Gluten-Free, Hassle Free. “But you can’t just wing it.”
Personally I eat Paleo, so I do follow a gluten free diet. I think the most important thing is to find what works for you. Gluten or no gluten, eating a well-balanced diet will get you to where you want to be.

Dont Worry, Be Happy; Thoughts on Thursdays

 

Sometimes I like to reflect on life. Things I have done and things I can work on to better myself. I am far from perfect but I know that I can better myself every day. Here are a few “tips” I have come up with to live a happier life. Most of these I am still working on because you can’t change overnight. Many came from observing and listening to others. One way or another, they have helped me find happiness in my life that I’ve never thought of having. I hope it can bring you happiness to.

 

Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.

Surround yourself with people that make you want to better yourself. Welcome people that inspire you to do something great with your life. Negative people are like diseases, they suck the life out of you. Steer clear of negative energy and block those who thrive off of it. Life is stressful enough; you don’t need unnecessary negativity to add to it. Also surround yourself with those who will support you and everything you do. Whether they agree with it or not, the people who love you will always stand by you.

Have an optimistic attitude.

Who wants to be with a negative Nancy or a Debby Downer? People flock to positive people. Have you ever been in a bad mood and someone else’s positive mood lifted your spirits? Everyone gives off energy and vibes, if it is positive you will create a positive environment. Enable people to feed off your positivity and hopefulness because hope keeps dreams alive. You never know who you are inspiring to follow their dreams. Stay positive and you will get a better response from people.

Be healthy.

You don’t have to be skinny or fit to be healthy. By exercising and eating well, you will automatically feel better. There are 1440 minutes in a day; you can take 30 minutes to move a little. Your body is a machine, take care of it and it will be good to you. You wouldn’t put the wrong fuel in your car, so why would you do it to your body? Get some exercise, eat well most of the time, and catch enough Z’s. Pretty simple!

Have a hobby.

Every day is the same old same old. You wake up, go to work then go to bed. You live for the weekends but why not live for today. Find something you love to do and make it a part of your day. Whether it’s working out, reading, or knitting, find something that brings you joy and peace of mind. We spend most of our lives working so it’s good to have an outlet. Find something that motivates you to get up in the morning. If you have a significant other, pick a hobby together, because two is always better than one.

Take things with a grain of salt.

Don’t take things too literally and don’t let the little things get you down. We make mistakes, we disappoint and we experience upsets, but it is important to look at the bigger picture. Don’t take life too seriously and dwell on the little things that really don’t matter. It may seem big at the time, but in the long run it has no effect on your life. Reading into every detail of a situation will drive you nuts. Is it really the end of the world that you didn’t make the basketball team? Everything happens for a reason. One door closes and another door opens. You can’t control every situation, the only thing you can change is yourself and the way you respond. Take a deep breathe, accept and move on. Namaste.

Smile.

Need I say anything else? Who doesn’t want to be around someone who smiles?

Remember, money is just an object.

I’m not going to lie and say money cant by you happiness because it sure does help. What I will say is that it won’t buy you a fulfilled life. Money is just an object, a piece of paper with a president’s face on it. It will only take your happiness so far. True happiness in life comes from relationships you share, bettering yourself, inspiring others and doing what you love to do. Money won’t buy you love, it won’t better yourself or others. Maybe superficially but it won’t last. At the end of the day you have to ask, did you better yourself today? If you can honestly say you did, then success will always follow you.

Stay true to yourself and others. Happy Thursday!