fitness journey

2 Weeks of Dieting!

So after going back to St. Louis for the Christmas break and packing on some holiday weight, I started off the new year in an amazing little Cantina in the heart of Hollywood, surrounded by professionally made Star Wars costumes and singing throwbacks at the tops of our lungs. Absolutely enjoyed some drinks, amazing company and new friends. The next morning I went full bore on some brunch, followed by snacks all day and a full Dominoes’ Pizza and cinnies to finish the day, and maybe some extra Halo Top, but who’s keeping track. All of this before starting back on my plan come the 2nd. I’ve done several cut and bulk cycles over the past few years, anywhere from a quick 6 week low carb diet to a 18 week slow and steady cut, removing carbs every two weeks until I was in full blown Keto. My last phase of dieting completely cut out the social aspects of life, everything planned out to the minute and exact ounce of food. 7 meals a day, all regimented and cooked days beforehand. No seasonings or flavors were added, life was about becoming a machine, everything revolved around consistency and timing. This time was different. I have been fortunate enough to become close to someone who is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable on the subject of all things nutrition and human performance. Against my previous biases and pride on eating like a robot, and some persuasion and reassurance, I opened my eyes to a whole new world of nutrition that I had previously not experienced.

You see, throughout my life I have been labeled as a classic “yo-yo” dieter. Continually lowering and depleting the system over weeks, with the occasional binge on a greasy burger or pizza to amplify and restore some sort of energy and metabolism. I was able to get super lean, however energy levels were extremely low and I had cardio-ed myself to exhaustion. Holding onto that super lean physique was difficult with no added carb days or rests. This would result in my cheat meal turning into a cheat day, which over the course of a few weeks became cheat weekend. The endless supply of energy felt so great to my body that eating unhealthily actually felt great, and it would become the norm until I felt as though it was time to start the cycle again. There was no such thing as not emptying a full package of Oreos at night. Now I have Oreos in the cabinet and am not even tempted.

So what’s changed? Through some faith and trust, as well as first hand accounts of what can be accomplished, I have found my stride. Mentally, the first few days were difficult, I felt as though I kept wanting to add protein even though I was receiving a sufficient amount. Towards the end of the week I got a bit hangry(hunger anger) but now realize that I was still adapting. I had a high carb day midweek as well as a modified cheat meal Sunday(which you saw on Youtube). Nearing the end of my second full week on the plan, with a high carb day Wednesday, I am confident and thrilled to continue the process!

From December 31st to January 7th I lost 15 pounds, probably a lot of salt and water, but still a solid amount. I have yet to weigh in this week but I am showing abs and obliques again. I’ve done cardio 5 mornings a week, lift 6 days and one full rest day. I’ve been eating Kodiak Cakes waffles and pancakes everyday, and even Halo Top Ice Cream twice a week. My habits have changed while still progressing and have yet to get hungry this week.

All in all I’ve learned to enjoy food again, waffles, guacamole, turkey tacos, with seasoning! Yogurt and even coffee creamer. So not only do I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new or different to past experiences, but to also know that “dieting” doesn’t have to be treacherous. You can still progress and lose fat and go to social gatherings guilt free. Nutrition is about proper balance, never starving and never full. Just trust in the process and the results will come! A special thanks to @galfranie for sparking my newfound belief in not dieting like a savage, as well as tailoring a plan that is already proven successful!

Change: Stage 2, Contemplation

This is Part 2 of the Change Series guest post by Psychology Doctoral Candidate @galfrankie

Part 1 can be found Here.

CHANGE: Stage 2, Contemplation 

Recap: Precontemplation is where we resist the most. Like I said before, we (whether consciously or not) try to maintain homeostasis, so we're not thinking ahead about what will happen after initiating change. 
So, if you keep telling yourself that you're waiting for the 'right' moment to make a change (when things settle down with work, family, relationships, etc), that you need 'one' (hahah, is it ever really one??) last hedonistic hurrah, or that you're just not ready.... Chances are, you're NOT ready! 

Does this mean I'm telling you to give up and that you CAN'T succeed? Absolutely not!  
Just suggesting that you reexamine your state of mind before attempting to move forward.

When you DO start to actively think about making a change in your life, you're entering the Contemplation stage. This is when you recognize an issue you want to address, and develop an intention to change.

One of the most useful things you can do at this point is to try to identify the potential, REALISTIC outcomes of your intended change -- both positive AND negative. Weigh the pros and cons/risks and rewards/costs and benefits!
(I, personally, like making lists for this kind of thing!)

This can be a long process! There is SO much to consider.. Try asking yourself some open-ended questions! For example: Why do you want to change? How will you go about making the change? What areas of your life will the change impact? What compromises will you (and the others in your life) have to make? 

Typically, once you've entered the Contemplation stage, you'll be ready to initiate change in 6 months or less. If that seems like a long time, ask yourself: How long have you been engaging in the current behavior you're intending to replace?

That should put some things into perspective!

Come back for stage 3!!

Are You a Juicing Junkie?

Juicing has been an ever-increasing popular fad for drinking your veggies and fruits. So many supposed TV health gurus and infomercial persuaders continue to force feed the idea that juicing is healthy and leads to weight loss. All of you have seen the “lose 10 pounds in a week” sham and some of you have probably taken the bait. Of course juicing looks appealing, who doesn’t want an easier method for getting down all those veggies and receiving all of the benefits and nutrients. The problem is that marketing is winning this battle. Juicing is not good for you for several reasons, let alone the fact of how financially costly and wasteful it is.

 

“But what about my cleanse?!” Let’s get physiological here. Your body’s digestive system is quite literally the entire process of blending! Your mouth and teeth break down the foods, just like the shiny blades on that costly blender on TV. Juicers claim that by blending the food and extracting the juice you are removing the toxins…guess what your liver does? Your liver’s essential function is to break down the nutrients that have been chewed by your mouth and filter and process out all of the toxins. What then happens is the nutrient matter and bulk of the food is sent to the stomach where acids break down the nutrients and are absorbed into the body for fuel. Everything that is not used or needed is turned into waste. Amazing really! Take that in itself into consideration the next time a friend or coworker starts explaining their great new cleanse they’re trying. 

 

There are several other reasons why juicing isn’t all it’s made out to be, and most of them deal with the actual blending and juicing process. By putting several vegetables and fruits into a blender you are removing the bulk or mass of the food and essentially leaving behind a concentrate. By doing this you are now left with the high sugar content from all of the food, yet taking out the fiber and vitamins found in the fibrous material. This means that instead of your digestive system slowly digesting the fibrous food as it should, you are now shocking your system with a glass or cup of sugar. This gives your body an immediate spike in insulin as there is no fiber to slow down the process. The insulin spike leads to increased fat stores and the inability to let go of unwanted fat. Not to mention the fact that you removed the vitamins that are found in the bulk matter, thus leaving you with a glass of flavored sugar. You must remember that fruits are basically nature’s candy. 30 grams of sugar in a glass of fruit juice is digested exactly as that of 30 grams of sugar from a candy bar. The end result of a quickly sugar laden glass of juiced fruits and vegetables is that you will be hungry quickly because it is a liquid, leading to overeating, and further frustration.

 

On the financial side of things juicing really is just a waste. Think of how many fruits and vegetables it takes to make an 8 ounce glass of juice. You can just as easily receive less calories, more fiber, more satiation, and less sugar simply by eating a cup or two of whole fruits and veggies. This results in a happier wallet that can be spent on other fun nutritional items.

 

A final note to remember is that cooking foods releases antioxidants that you cannot get from raw or juiced foods, and what isn’t great about reducing inflammation, aches and pains, and bloating. So next time you or someone you know considers juicing as a means to cleanse or lose weight, do some further research and really take a second look at your overall plan.

Sleep Your Way to Success

Sleep may potentially be the most overlooked aspect of overall health, physical health and view of self image. People who habitually sleep for shorter periods are more at risk for a negative view of self image as compared to those who regularly get a full night of restful sleep. How amazing is it that we have the ability to increase self-confidence and view of our own bodies simply by sleeping more.

From a physiological standpoint, we are tearing down the body throughout the day whether it be by means of physical exercise, stress levels, or overexerting ourselves at work. As noted in The Big 3! everything is putting a stress on our systems, muscle fibers are broken down, adrenal stores that give us energy are being used up, and our brains are worn out due to high stimulus. Sleep helps to combat all of these regular systems. Sleep promotes Growth hormone release from the pituitary gland, which is responsible for overall repair of the body. Everything is affected from muscle rebuilding/growth, hair, skin and nail health, and longevity of health. The pituitary is also responsible for the restoring of the adrenal glands with help from the hypothalamus. With lack of sleep these organs do not function to their fullest potential leaving you with a repetitive state of less energy and risk of mental and physical injury. Water balance is also regulated during our sleep. Ever notice how on a sleepless night you wake up bloated and watery? This is because your body is protecting itself from the lack of sleep by holding onto extra water to use as hydration. With a full night of sleep this water is release because your body has repaired itself and no longer needs the additional water.

While all people are different, it is still recommended that the average working person get a minimum of 7-9 hours per sleep a night. Take into consideration a high dieting or workout phase, increased work hours, or additional mental stress on a project and the amount of sleep needed may increase a few additional hours. People often say, “oh well I only sleep 4-5 hours a night and I’m fine”. This often leads to burnout and inconsistencies during the day. One may argue the fact that less sleep equals more hours in the day for work, however the downside to that is that the productivity levels and efficiency of what is accomplished is far inferior to if a full night’s rest were had. Try increasing sleep and see how overall levels of productivity, muscle growth and fat loss are affected in a positive manner.