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Why Size Does Matter (Body Fat and Goal Jeans) January 23, 2013

Filed under: fitness,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 9:34 pm
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I am having a really difficult time putting into a few words for a blog post what I’ve learned over the past few years about losing weight, gaining muscle, and decreasing body fat. It can be a bit confusing to explain, so I know for the beginner, it is probably confusing to read. I’ll do my best! It’s a bit long, but please bare with me and hear me out til the end :o)

I was reading some posts today from the Facebook Fit Bitch page (kinda in your face but has lots of knowledge and still responds to posts even though she has lots of followers), and she explained that you can’t have fat loss and build muscle at the same time, which is why spot reduction is a big myth. I had always assumed you could do both, that it was a simultaneous thing. I knew spot reduction was bull, but I thought you could lose a few lbs while also gaining muscle. What finally clicked in my head is how Meg explained that there are two ways to get a really toned, beautiful body. You can lose weight/fat (cut), then add muscle (bulk) – and incidentally add back some fat, too, and then you have to lose weight/fat (cut) again OR you can bulk up by adding muscle and some fat and then cut by removing the fat to reveal the muscles, which makes so much more sense! Why? You’re cutting out a whole step (and months of work) AND when you build muscle first, those muscles burn calories at a faster rate, which makes the cut phase so much easier/faster. This is why so many of those Beachbody exercise programs work. Take P90X or Chalene Extreme, for instance. Both have you bulk up for the first month before doing any kind of cut/lean phase. I never really got why they wanted you to lift so heavy for the first phase until now.

Let me go back to her insistence that you can’t lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. You have to create a deficit in calories (and/or a deficit by doing lots of cardio) to lose fat and you have to create a surplus in calories (while strength training) to gain muscle. So the quickest way to get a fit physique would be to first create a surplus in calories while doing a strength training program. You may actually see a bit of an increase on the scale initially. Don’t FREAK OUT! Then, you work on adding in more cardio and decreasing calories to cut the fat so that the muscles you’ve created finally show.

Why does any of this matter for you? Here is why. Size matters! If you could be 135 lbs in a size 10 or 135 lbs in a size 4, which would you choose? You can technically have either, but it all depends on your body fat %. Look at the following picture, which I previously posted to my Facebook page. This girl shows how adding muscle and losing body fat (but she didn’t do it at the same time) makes her body look much different at the same weight. Had she just started out at that weight, not done much of any strength training, and decreased calories/increased cardio, she would have lost some more lbs, but she would NOT look this good., even if she was 8-10 lbs lighter! She’d just look like a scrawnier version of her old self, still very soft and probably still not fitting in those size 4‘s she wants to get into. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Eason’s Facebook fan page.) Image

Maybe you’re ok with that. Perhaps you have a lot of weight to lose as opposed to 10-20 lbs and would rather lose weight first and then work on adding muscle in before cutting around your goal weight. Fine, that’s up to you. Even if you are ok with just losing weight initially (body fat and muscle, too), you should still check you body fat %. Sometimes when the scale isn’t really changing much, your measurements can still be changing, which can be a powerful motivator to continue with your plan when your resolve is flagging. So what if the scale didn’t move this week if your waist measurement went down a half inch! :o) Checking your measurements regularly (I did it about every 2 weeks) will help you see that you are still making progress, even when you feel like you aren’t. Besides, if you are significantly overweight, even just losing a lot of lbs will make your body fat decrease, for a while anyway.

Here is how you check your body fat %. Grab one of those soft tape measure strips at the store. Go to the Body Fat Calculator. Click on the Female Body Calculator tab (or stay with male, guys!). Enter your age and weight. Click on the Tape tab. (Although the caliper tests are even more accurate than the tape measurement, I found that the tape test was easier for me and for beginners, too.) Enter your height in inches and take measurements of your neck, waist, and hips. Just for fun, I’d also take measurements of my bicep (about two inches below my armpit) and my thigh to track changes. Here’s an important point, though. Wherever you measure, you have to measure there every single time, or your numbers will be off. For instance, I may measure my waist an inch below my belly button this week, but if I measure my waist two inches below my belly button, I’d get two different measurements, even with no actual change. Ok I digress. Back to the calculating! Write these measurements down on a piece of paper with the date. Now, once you’ve plugged those numbers in, the calculator will give you a body fat %. This is the % of fat that is in your body as opposed to the rest of your “weight,” which consists of muscles, organs, fluid, bones, etc. There’s even a nifty little chart that tells you where you fall according to your body fat %.

If you are making good food choices and working out any (whether it’s only cardio or if you’re also adding in strength training), I commend you for working on your health. Any exercise will produce positive results, and you should feel really good about the changes you are making now for your health. Even if you aren’t focusing on losing body fat right now, adding in some strength training still gives you an added boost in calorie burn. If you decide not to check your body fat %, that’s ok, too. Maybe just try taking those measurements and writing them down somewhere a couple of times a month. Just remember that the scale is NOT the whole story and that you shouldn’t let it discourage you from trying to reach your goals.

 

Clean Eating January 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — dragonfly180 @ 7:48 am
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Someone asked on my Facebook page Love the Fit Life, “What types of foods should I focus on for losing weight? Is it only about calories?” You *can* eat 1400 calories worth of Milky Way bars and Cheetos each day and possibly lose a lb or two, but your body would be lacking serious nutrients, and your body would most certainly hold onto the trans fat you’re packing in. So yes, the food does matter.

There are umpteen dozen “diets” out there – low carb, the zone, raw food, south beach, paleo, weight watchers, medfast, Sonoma, perricone, 5 factor, atkins, dukan, glycemic index, rice diet, heck there’s even a cookie diet! Those diets may in the short term produce results, but they won’t keep you healthy for the long term. And of course, we know about all the weight loss pills and drinks and what happens when people finally get off them and still don’t know how to eat! What I’ve seen over the past several years that is the ONLY sustainable “diet” (one that is healthy to live with long-term and provides the necessary nutrients to do so!) that consistently produces results is what is called clean eating. Tosca Reno has a few books on the subject, and there is a ton of info out there. Just search clean eating and read some of the info. It basically emphasizes what most of us already know- eat whole, unprocessed foods (whole grains, lean meats, fruits, veggies), 1200-1800 calories per day depending on what your body needs, 4-6 smaller meals, and get regular exercise. The fewer the ingredients on the package, the better! The goal is no more than 3-6 ingredients on the ingredients list. If you can’t pronounce what’s in it, you probably don’t need it. Nix the sugar and saturated and trans fats as much as possible. Here is a great resource of different articles about eating clean: Clean Eating 101

While eating clean can be somewhat restrictive (Waaaah, I don‘t wanna do it! No fun!), it’s just sound nutritional advice. I am all about the sugar, but let’s be honest – I KNOW it’s bad for me. Will I never eat it again? Ha! We are all human and want some processed food occasionally. Even Tosca Reno promotes having a “cheat meal” each week, which I would call dessert! :o) Do I need dessert daily? Absolutely not.

Even if you don’t go wholeheartedly into the eat clean lifestyle, your weight loss efforts will definitely benefit from replacing even *some * of the processed foods you eat with clean eating. Just gotta make Hamburger Helper in all its trans fatty goodness for supper? Ok, have a small portion and add bigger portions of carrots and green beans to your plate. No one said eating healthier had to be the “all or nothing” approach, especially if your goals don’t include being a fitness model in the near future.

What’s that? You don’t like your veggies? Stop being a 5 year old, try them out for a while, and I promise that they will begin to taste better once you get away from all the over-processed, chemically treated junk you’ve been eating. Or change nothing and whine at the mirror every time a shelf of fat hangs over your jeans, your upper arms begin to look more like thighs, and your jowls begin to sag. Sit on the couch feeling sluggish and depressed Cry and lament every picture taken of you and posted and tagged on Facebook. Or better yet, just hide from every camera for the next decade until you have finally had enough of “living it up” on McDonald’s and Nabisco until there’s a whole chunk of your life missing from your kids’ photo albums.

Well, I wish you wouldn’t, but what can I do but put the info out there! I know I‘m being kind of abrasive here, but wake up and take control of things, you awesome person, you! Nobody can change you but you alone. Keep the words of the old Nina Simone song in mind, “It’s a new dawn, it’s new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feelin’ good.”

 

2013 is here! January 1, 2013


A new year has begun. Many are so afraid to set resolutions for fear of failure. Not me. I love setting goals for myself, even if I don’t reach all of them. Here is what I’m looking forward to this year:

  • I’m going to be a mommy! This is probably the biggest and most important thing that will happen to me in 2013. This opens a huge door for all kinds of resolutions, but for the most part, I want to just learn how to take care of my baby and juggle the responsibilities of family and work. Since I’ll be having Rachel at the end of the Spring semester, I’ll get all summer to spend time with her and get adjusted to being a mommy before going back to work in the fall. I know the time will fly by, but I hope to make the most of it. Which leads me to my next resolution…
  • I want to focus on spending my time wisely. I am the Queen of Time Wasting. Brother Don gave a sermon about time wasting just this Sunday, and it really hit home. Satan steals our time with needless anxiety by overloading us with unnecessary commitments, possessions, work, and information. The other major source of anxiety (and time-wasting) is regret. We have only 8,760 hours in a year. Why spend it dwelling on what has already happened and can’t be changed? Instead of wasting time on the above robbers of time, I want to focus my attention to the following: drawing closer to God, spending time with family and friends, doing all I can to raise Rachel as well as I am able, taking care of my health (exercise and nutrition).

Those are the things I’m setting my sights on in 2013. My spiritual life is very important to me, so I plan on devoting more time to Bible study and prayer. I plan on working through the entire Bible in a year (one of those plans for weekly study), but even if I am unable to always keep up, reading even half or a third on my own will be better than just opening it only when I’m in church.

I feel like I am constantly struggling to give more attention to my family and friends, who honestly deserve it. I know I can do better in this area. I have resolved to work on this issue in the past, and I believe that it has gotten much better recently. There is always room for improvement, though!

I am already focusing a lot of attention on how I want to raise Rachel. I am reading some books that I think might be helpful. I am getting my registry in order, buying some clothes and other items along the way, and learning about cloth diapering. I’m taking birthing and breastfeeding classes this month to prepare for her arrival.

As I always strive to do, I plan on focusing on my health. During the time I was trying to conceive, I let a lot of this go to the wayside. I stopped teaching Zumba when I had my first miscarriage in March. Zumba had been my most favorite type of working out, and suddenly, it was gone. So was that 2-3 hours of calorie burn every week that I was suddenly missing. I wasn’t eating all that well and rarely exercised. Running wasn’t giving me the solace it had in the past. Much of it was from apathy/light depression. Some of it was from fear that exercise might cause another miscarriage. So I became complacent about my health. Now, I am struggling because I am gaining a good bit of weight with this pregnancy. I know that I can make more time for weekly exercise (I have become very lazy about exercise and have really lost the habit), and my nutrition has been atrocious. I’d really gotten into the mindset of ‘I’m pregnant, so I can eat whatever I want!’ I know better, so I’m going to start eating better. Will you never see me with a big scoop of Coldstone? No, I won’t go that far. :) But I can doing better on a day-to-day basis. Part of making health a priority is to maintain focus, which I do through my Facebook page, which is a source of self-motivation, and Dailymile.com, where I keep up with my yearly walking and running miles.

It’s always a little overwhelming looking at what you want to accomplish in a year, but we are amazing in our ability to adapt to new things. Make your 2013 a wonderful year.

 

First Run of the Year January 2, 2012

Filed under: fitness,hEaLtH,running — dragonfly180 @ 4:45 pm
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just went for my first run of 2012, and it was actually the first run i’ve done in about two months. i haven’t really been feeling like running lately as much as i work, but i started a challenge on dailymile.com with my friends to help motivate us to run 400 miles this year. it was my goal mileage for 2011, but i really didn’t put out much effort last year. i’m hoping i can do it this year, though. 400 miles is only about 8 miles per week. this year, though, i am going to count all my mileage, so that includes any walking i do, too. see, i do this weird argument with myself. i usually convince myself that walking isn’t worthy of counting as mileage (because really we walk every day and everyone can do it, so it’s not that special right? so wrong!), so on days when i don’t feel like running but could easily get a few miles of walking in, i don’t because it’s a waste of time if it doesn’t “count.” so then i burn zero calories all because i think i’m too good to count walking as exercise. i mean, i am a tough half marathoner. i can run 14 miles without stopping. i can train in 95 degree mississippi heat. it’s okay for others to walk but not for me. i can run and run and run. i can’t belittle myself to get on the treadmill and walk for two miles. oh so silly reasoning. egos. our pride stops us from doing so many good things for ourselves. walking is a great form of cardio. you burn almost as many calories as running without the impact of running. i admit that i have listened to running elitists and let their distaste for walking or run/walk influence me far too long. so long as i am moving my butt off the couch, who cares what i’m doing??? with three jobs, i know that i will probably not be able to do 400 miles worth of just running, but i am determined to do 400 miles regardless. i’ll run when i can and walk when i feel like it.

so back to my first run of the year. i was really nervous (as i always am before a run, which is odd after 5 years of running…), so i procrastinated for a few hours. i needed to eat. then, the food needed to digest. then, my dog needed to go out. then, i needed to hydrate. then, my garmin needed to charge. then, i needed a nap. then, i…had no more excuses. i bundled up because this southern girl does NOT like the cold. and boy was it cold! i wore my thin nike livestrong wind breaker, which i love love love. it makes me feel like such a runner (why, i don’t know). anyway, i started my garmin and was off. i was surprised to find that i wasn’t dying like i thought i would after having not run for two months. i figured it was just the cold wind numbing my pain, and i kept going. coming up near the first mile mark, i started to feel a little fatigue, and it was so COLD. the wind was gusting at about 20 miles per hour, and the shady spots in the road were so chilly. i glanced down at my windbreaker, which is a gorgeous blue and along the zipper on my chest in bright yellow is “LiveStrong,” the trademark for the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer research. when i look down, all i can see is the “strong” part of the logo, and it made me think about all those people out there battling cancer, living their lives day to day struggling much worse than i was out on the road today, and i picked up my pace. i resolved to finish the run with no walking, not because i was feeling snobbish toward walking but because i knew that i was strong enough to do two miles without a walk break. not only was i going to finish the last mile without walking, i was going to do it stronger and faster than the first, and i did. i am healthy, i am fit, and i am alive (in more ways than merely breathing). that’s what i have to celebrate this new year.

 

to join my 400 miles  in 2012 challenge, join dailymile.com for free and join the FIT IN 400 challenge or click here: FIT IN 400 Challenge

 

Healthy Meals September 28, 2011

Filed under: food,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 7:41 pm
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Do you ever go into the kitchen after a long day at work, want something delicious and nutritious to eat, but instead grab something you know is not good for you more out of frustration that you just don’t know what to cook than anything else?  Or maybe you are in such a hurry in the morning that you don’t think you have anything quick to eat, so you just leave for work hungry? This is when a list comes in handy. If you have something to look at to give you ideas, even if you’re tired or short on time, you’ll probably still find something that you can fix fairly quickly that is nutritious. These are some of my favorite foods. I obviously left off some of the things I cook occasionally that aren’t necessarily that good for you (chicken taco soup, lasagna, deep dish homemade pizza, really really sweet desserts!). Some of these are my own recipes, so just ask for it if you are curious about trying something new. I’ll be happy to share a recipe with ya!  Try to come up with your own list to go to when you’re starving and staring at your kitchen cabinets or fridge shelves.

Breakfasts:
2 eggo waffles with peanut butter
2 cinnamon raisin bread slices and 1 egg
2 eggs and 1 slice toast with sugar free jam
1 cup cereal and 1 cup almond milk
Oatmeal, old-fashioned oats (sometimes with a banana mashed into it or blueberries or PB2)
Hot cinnamon rice cereal
Mini bagel (plain) with sugar free jam and/or peanut butter
Mini bagel (everything) with laughing cow cheese triangle and piece of fruit
Shakeology with almond milk
Grits with stick Colby jack cheese
Cinnamon and cloves french toast with honey

Snacks:
1 tbsp. peanut butter on apple or banana
100 cal pack buttered popcorn
Stick Colby jack cheese
Protein bar
Wheat thins and laughing cow cheese triangle
Fruit: grapes, navel orange, pear, strawberries, banana, apple, kiwi, plum, plantain, watermelon, cantaloupe
Canned fruit and cottage cheese
Nuts/trail mix (mixed nuts, coconut flakes, dried cranberries or raisins, and mini chocolate chips)
Dry cereal (Cheerios, Oatmeal Squares, Chex)
Crunchy granola bars (Dark Chocolate, Pecan, or Peanut Butter)
Tortilla chips and salsa

Lunches:
Shakeology with almond milk and piece of fruit
Grilled chicken salad and piece of fruit
Frozen dinner (220-350 calories) and yogurt
Ham and provolone sandwich and sugar free pudding cup or wheat thin crackers
Ham, pickle and mustard sandwich and cheese stick or sun chips
Black bean veggie burger, salad greens, salsa, green onion, and 100 cal pack guacamole and tortilla chips
Small portions of leftover dinner below

Suppers:
Turkey meatloaf and boiled okra
Spaghetti and green beans or salad
Tuna melt
Tuna salad on lettuce
Soup (sausage and bean or turkey and veggie)
Turkey chili with toast
Grilled cheese (reduced fat provolone usually) and pickles
Smoked cabbage and corn
Crab pasta
Chicken Salad with fruit and pecans on lettuce/wrap/wheat bread
Hot ham and cheese pressed sandwich with pickles
Egg sandwich
Red beans and rice
Pasta with Crockpot chicken spaghetti sauce
Pot Roast and veggies (usually zucchini, carrots, celery, onion – if I use potatoes, I use them sparingly)
Chicken stir fry

***Eat a small salad before supper to lower serving sizes and calories

Desserts:
Chocolate supreme protein shake (after weight training)
Peanut butter and mini marshmallows on wheat thins
Peanut butter on graham crackers
½ cup chocolate frozen yogurt with 1 tbsp. peanut butter
Sugar free jello
Sugar free pudding with sugar free cool whip
Canned fruit and fat free cottage cheese
Fruit salad with honey
Baked pineapple with brown sugar and nuts
Two slices cinnamon raisin bread
Pear halves with small amount of cholesterol-free mayo and shredded cheddar
Slice of bread with 1 tbsp Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter

 

We Invest in What We Value September 24, 2011

Filed under: food,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 11:31 am
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The above is a video made by another Beachbody Coach (Christine Dwyer) about Shakeology, and she made some really good points that I thought were worth sharing. We really do invest in what we value, whether it be a certain brand of jeans, a certain brand of cereal, or a certain brand of makeup. We will pay more for what we feel is worth more. I know almost NO ONE who buys generic mayo. Why? Because it’s not the best. We want what we know tastes good. Yes, Shakeology is pricey, but you have to ask yourself is trying it worth the money? No, scratch that.  What you have to ask yourself is if you try it, is it worth the money each month you’ll spend to keep it going because you’ll love the results and how you feel. See, Beachbody offers an “empty bag” guarantee, meaning that you can take a full month’s supply at their expense if you don’t love it by the end of your first month. That’s a pretty great guarantee. I sure don’t know any diet pills/drinks or even “health food” frozen dinners and such that would match that same guarantee. So there is no monetary risk in *trying* it. Getting hooked on it because it’s a good product is another story! :o) So you replace your latte and cinnamon roll or bagel with it each morning (for the same amount of money and way fewer calories) or your high-calorie and high-fat lunch or tasteless, high-sodium frozen dinner and whatever you snack on immediately after lunch because you’re still hungry (for the same amount of money and probably fewer calories) with a filling Shakeology shake that gives you energy, helps you lose weight, puts back vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics into your system, and makes you so much healthier. Then, the money you pay for Shakeology doesn’t seem so frivolous. I was easily spending $100 a month on Lean Cuisines, Smart Ones, cafeteria salads, salad dressing, little yogurts and puddings, and whatever else I was eating along side those frozen dinners or salads that didn’t fill me up alone.

I am loving the results I am getting with Shakeology, and in fact, I just emailed Beachbody yesterday about changing my monthly supply to the Chocolate Shakeology, because I like the taste of it so much and because it fills me up so well. I am excited about trying it for another month. I’m not under an obligation to try it for any certain amount of time, so I’ll cancel it if I’m not totally satisfied. But as of right now, I am satisfied with what it’s doing for me. If you’d like to give it a try, send me a message by going to the Team Beachbody tab at the top, or you can leave your email in a message on this post, and I’ll get back to you about it. I plan on going into the holidays feeling good about my weight and being healthy. There will be no guilt about casseroles and ham and pie at get-togethers for me this year!

 

Shakeology Experiment September 4, 2011

Filed under: food,hEaLtH,running — dragonfly180 @ 9:20 pm
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For about a year now, I have been hearing about Shakeology. I first heard about it from some of my sparkpeople.com friends. But I already drank protein shakes, so why did I need to pay more money for another type of protein shake? Well, after becoming a Beachbody Coach, I kept reading my Beachbody friends reviewing it as an awesome and nutritious meal replacement. Now, I am all about eating as much food as possible. I do NOT like to drink my calories, so I was still turned off about it. As a Beachbody Coach, I have the option of selling Shakeology if I want to. So I read up on what Shakeology is made of on my Shakeology website that Beachbody provides its coaches. It seems to be legitimately natural and very nutritious. Before long, I went on YouTube and just checked out some of the videos of people touting its effectiveness and making them feel better, lose weight, gain energy, lower cholestrol, fix stomach/digestive issues, etc. Well, I came to the conclusion that since it is a big part of the Beachbody brand, I should try it out myself if I want to sell it. After all, I am not one to push something that I’m not sure even works. I got into Beachbody because I believe in the products and want to help people. It’s not much of a gamble since Beachbody offers a refund if you aren’t satisfied with it. And I get free shipping to have it sent by Home Direct (automatically each month). So I thought I’d blog about my own experience with Shakeology as I try it for myself.

Day 1

My Shakeology came in yesterday. I picked it up at the mailbox as I was taking my pooch to the pooch hospital for another kidney infection. Needless to say, I wasn’t thinking about meal replacement shakes when I made it home. Furthermore, I had a cookout planned and knew I was probably going to eat more calories than I should for the day, so I didn’t want to add to it. So today was the first day of Shakeology. I bought the combo box that has both Greenberry and Chocolate flavors in it, because I wanted to try out both to see which one I like best. I poured 8 ounces of almond milk into my shaker cup and added a packet of Greenberry. I have been really curious about what it tastes like. I shook it really well and to my surprise, really liked the taste of it! It is quite different from anything I have tasted. There is a faint fruitiness to it, but it mostly tastes like sweetened green tea and a flavor similar to the taste of bran flakes. That’s the only way I can describe it. I think blended with a few strawberries, a banana, or some fruity yogurt, it’d be outta this world good. Anyway, I didn’t feel particularly full after having drank it. I was starving after I came in from church, so I ate some carrots and a few deviled eggs from yesterday’s cookout after I drank it. Although I didn’t feel full from it, I haven’t been very hungry this evening, so we’ll see. This evening when I stepped out of church, a cool breeze from Tropical Storm Lee hit my face, and I instantly felt energetic and craved a good run. So I threw off my church clothes when I got home, quickly dressed, grabbed my Garmin, my red flashing caution light (as it was beginning to get dark), and my rain pullover and hit the door. I had some really good mile splits. I don’t know if it was energy from the drink or just from the excitement of some cooler weather for a change. A true test of its ability to increase energy will come during my busy work weeks. With three jobs, if anyone needs some extra energy, I do!

If you are interested in giving Shakeology a try, please click on the tab above that says ‘Team Beachbody’ and message me your contact info. WordPress won’t allow me to post a link to my Beachbody website, but I will be happy to email you my Shakeology link or answer any questions you may have. Thanks!