calorie counting

My Transformation So Far

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I’ve changed a lot in this last year. And I’m not only talking about this physically. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve tried different things. Figured out what works.

Consistency is everything.
I worked out before but it was sporadic. Once I started making it a habit daily, I not only started to enjoy it more but I also craved it. Eating correctly was the same. We always think ‘oh that’s not so bad. Its just today I’ll eat it.’ But when you think like that everyday, its bad.

Where I started
I was just doing the workout games for the Kinect when I started working out on a regular basis. They were fun and gave me a good competition with myself. I saw my improvements and how often I worked out in one spot. That’s where I made it a habit to move my body, I gained strength of being able to do body weight things and got a greater range of motion. It was my stepping stone. Once I felt like I was beyond the games on my level, I started slowly buying more weights to go in my home gym set up. I bought a couple of ebooks from fitness Instagram people I followed that I liked to get me to figure out this whole weightlifting thing. I started researching moves and exercises on bodybuilding.com and fell in love. Weightlifting is awesome for a thrill, a challenge and a way to let your stress out.

As for eating, I started learning about macros on my own after seeing many fitness accounts on social media talk about it. Props to my own mom for pretty much believing the IIFYM type of diet. She always said its about how much you eat of things, calories in have to be less than calories out to lose weight. Whether that’s calories in of carrots and lettuce or Snickers bars. So props to you Mom, for being ahead of the game.
Anyways I started figuring out the macro thing for myself as well as learning about how to reverse my metabolism. It was a slow process. But it did happen. I figured out my maintenance macros to build muscle at the weight I was starting at. I kept up with my calories, carbs, fats & proteins daily. Its a bit of a game at first-figuring out what works and how to fit everything in. But once you get the hang of it, you can pretty much do it without even punching each bite in.

My Routine Now
After working on my metabolism and figuring out really what works for me, I’m not as crazy about my macros. I don’t punch in anything anymore. I don’t even think I have MyFitnessPal on my phone anymore. I listen to my body now and I follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your diet should be whole healthy foods. 20% whatever else you want. That’s it guys. Once you change your habits you change your cravings, your taste buds and foods you reach for automatically. Its that initial change that sucks. Once you get past those first couple of months or so, you get used to it. And the results just come with it. You’ll realize how crappy certain foods make you feel and you honestly won’t miss them anymore. You’ll want to workout because it actually gives you energy. You just have to get started.

For my working out, remember I am a trainer by day and a coach by night. I love my body plenty in many different ways. But I do still work myself out. I lift heavy about 4-6 days a week. I do cardio maybe twice? Always after a lift session, usually on leg days I’ll do the step machine. If I do cardio on the treadmill, its always HIIT cardio and never more than 20 minutes long. Same for the stepper- no more than 20 minutes.
My ab progress? I started out doing abs 2x a week, but now I just engage my core with everything I do. And if I do abs in a class I teach or for conditioning, I’ll do it with them. Otherwise, I’ve stopped doing hard core an exercises in my own personal gym time.

I have created a guide for nutrition for those wanting help but don’t know where to start. Its completely FREE!!!
Just leave me your email and I’ll send it over! It has an intro to macros, a list of things to eat for each meal of the day, even a couple of recipes.

-a

Benefits of Writing IT DOWN

We all get busy, we all think ‘well that isn’t so bad’ or ‘I worked out a few days ago…I think’. We all get wrapped up in school, work, family, friends, pets, chores, errands, and just keeping our heads above water (trust me I know-I work two jobs as well as a full time students and I get up and have to be somewhere by 8am every single day of the week-I GET IT). But while you are guessing about your food intake, you thoughts on how much you are eating, how much you are actually active and pushing your goals onto ‘next week’, today is still here and you can fix it all TODAY. RIGHT NOW.

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It has been proven in countless studies that people who physically WRITE down their goals before they start trying to obtain them are more likely to stick with it and actually achieve them. 

Here’s some more statistics for you. This is the more troubling one:

 

50% (yes-HALF) of the people who start a new diet/workout routine or program will END UP QUITTING. 

This should be startling to you, as it is to me. Why? Why do we constantly put our health on the back burner? Years from now, you will have so many aches and pains, along with some diseases or disorders probably and wish you had taken your health seriously NOW before it was too late.

CHANGE YOUR APPROACH

Can we stop only dieting/exercising to lose weight?! This is aggravating as a fitness professional, it’s all I see. If you start think about simply getting healthy, becoming active to prevent diseases, to keep your body working properly, and to eat right to fuel it. It’s like you have a Lambo and you decide to never wash it, never have maintenance done and you decide to use orange juice instead of gas. Really guys? I love cheese fries as much as the next girl but I know my body can’t USE that junk for much of anything besides storing it as fat and hating me for putting that fried stuff in it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do eat a balanced diet, so I eat loads of fruits, veggies, protein packed lean foods but I also eat when I get a craving. My goal isn’t surrounding whether the scale says SKINNY or it says FAT ASS. Because guess what? That scale DOESN’T know me. For most of my life, for my height, according to those ridiculous charts doctors go off of based on height and weight to determine your BMI and whether you are overweight or not, I have ALWAYS fell under the overweight column. Even though I have been an athlete, with muscular legs and been in small clothing sizes. So I don’t believe the scales. You should ditch yours, too.

 

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That’s what weight is-mass times acceleration of gravity. Yet so many people spend their lives worrying about this stupid calculation. Chill out. Eat. Workout. Be happy.

 

Keep a journal-for work outs and for food

When you write down things and see it on paper, in one place, you can really start to realize what it is you need to work on, what you are doing that might be really working for you or damaging your goals. 

For food, I always come back to MyFitness Pal. Why? Because this world is glued to a freakin piece of technology constantly in their hand at all times, so by having an app you can take anywhere, you can even pull up foods if you are out to eat and about to order, to see what fits your macros/calories or any of that stuff if you count them. You can scan barcodes on most foods and it’ll pop up automatically, showing the content and serving size immediately. For average people, they do not realize a few things when it comes to eating

1.) Calorie/fat amount. This is a big one. If you asked someone the amount of calories in something they were eating, they would usually guess a number incredibly lower than what it really has in it. Educate yourself! If you thought there was only 300 calories in a slice of pie but it really has 800- you are seriously underestimating you daily amounts. So be sure you are aware of these things.

2.) Serving Sizes.  This is another biggie that I see even with educated individuals. Marketing people for foods and brands are smart. They know how to get you to buy their product and eat it. If they say that 1 serving of something is only 100 calories, you are sold and go digging in, head in the bottom of the bag like a vulture. Please read further on your nutrition label. The serving size is probably tiny, like 10 crackers, 2 cookies, etc. You have to watch this. If there were only 100 calories in a serving, but you just mindlessly ate 12 servings, well…….

 

As for your exercising and working out, you can easily do this by setting a goal-let’s say you want to work out at least 3-5 days out of a week. So write that goal and put it on the fridge. Now invest in a calendar, one you can hang somewhere you can see it daily, like the fridge, the wall, your bathroom, the front door, where ever. Get one that you can go back and see your progress later, so not just a washable weekly/monthly board one. Now pick two color markers. On each day, you will mark with a check mark in one color or a big X in the other color. The check mark will mean you worked out, the X will represent that you did not. 

 

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(You can also Google ‘Workout Calendar’ and find some awesome templates to print out and use if you want!)

 

Of course you can do your calendar digitally, but there’s something about marking it yourself-with your own hands, and having a physical connection with this log. It’s just like writing your goal, you can type it out but it won’t be the same as if you wrote it in your own handwriting with pen and paper. There’s a psychological connection when you actually write with your own hands that you don’t get from technology. You can also see your progress and how you have been adhering to your goal all at once, rather than clicking on the days one at a time on your computer. But, to each their own. Do whatever works best for YOU!

 

Happy Working out guys!

 

-a

Why HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a Hit in the Fitness World

You may be seeing interval training everywhere. Whether it is actually HIIT style or some other interval training, it’s out there and it’s growing.

Why might you ask?

Interval training has too many proven benefits and reasons to do it, why shouldn’t you?

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With interval training, you go from cardio to strength training. You do something that is heart pumping and then a time period of something that lowers that heart rate. With HIIT, it’s exactly as the name says it is. You interval between a very high intensity movement and combine it with periods of either a complete rest with no movement or you do something like light jogging/walking. You can do this in any time frame, from 30 sec each or 60 sec high and then 30 sec low, etc.

The Benefits?

Interval training, especially HIIT training has been proven to promote fat loss, it increases your metabolism and has been known to continue burning and keep your metabolism boosted even up to 48 hours after your training session.You can also get a mega burn and workout in a smaller time than doing a steady workout of any kind. With HIIT, you can burn many more calories and wear yourself out in less than half the time of a normal cardio session. Instead of running at a steady pace for 60 minutes, you can get even more of a workout and more of a burn in about 15-20 minutes. Who wouldn’t choose the latter of the two?

Another great benefit I haven’t even mentioned yet is not plateauing. If you are a runner and run the same speed, same distance and same time each day, your body is going to get used to it. You will plateau. But if you keep your body guessing and it never knows what is coming next, you can’t plateau. Your body will always be surprised, from changing the times and speeds you can do a different workout each time.

What if I am not that fit? I am just a beginner.

HIIT/interval training does not mean you have to sprint at level 12 for 2 minutes at a time. HIIT is meant to be what is high intensity to you. If you haven’t ran in 10 years, you won’t be sprinting at level 12 anytime soon. And that’s fine. If you get a good heart rate intensity at speed 4, choose it. And you don’t have to sprint to get the benefits of interval training, you can change the speeds, the resistance, and incline depending on the cardio machine you are choosing. You can also choose other things besides just running on treadmills for cardio. You can also do the bikes, eliptical, rowers, etc. Interval training isn’t set in stone and you shouldn’t feel pressured to have to do the same workout as anyone else. Everyone has a different fitness level. If you are out of breath and your heart rate has significantly increased, you do not have to go further just because the person next to you can go two more levels above you. Never strain yourself.

 

It’s YOU VERSUS YOU.

 

Reverse Dieting-Why it Works

It’s common to think ‘oh I should just quit eating and I will lose weight’. That’s what we are taught even at a young age and grown up to know. If you want to lose weight, you eat like a rabbit and drop weight at the snap of a finger. But is it really all that simple? Are our bodies that easy to handle? And is this good for our bodies?

We are built and made to eat. And not just pecking at lettuce. Carbs are meant to be our fuel and we are to get nutrients from produce. The food that comes from the earth-not a factory or a box-is great for us, with so many benefits and vitamins to help our bodies function. And we think if we stop eating completely, this is a healthy way to lose weight.

WHAT IF I TOLD YOU THIS WAS BOGUS.

We are meant to eat, often and abundantly. Your body even tells you when it’s hungry and when it is not. Listen to it. If you are starving, you better eat more than a cube of cheese (cough cough, any Devil Wears Prada fans).

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I laugh everytime I think of this girl. But as I laugh, I know there are so many people out there who really do live and think like this. Do you know what is really happening? The body is holding on to what little food it does get, and storing it as fat and eating away at muscle and all sorts of terrible things. This isn’t what we are meant to live like. This is not the answer to losing weight.

If you are hungry, you should probably eat. And not just some lettuce. Try a protein bar. Try a rice cake and peanut butter. Have an apple AND a banana. A cube of cheese is not going to feed you, and the fact that this girl binges on rolls in the hospital after getting hit with a car kind of proves that this starvation diet will eventually in a carb overload-sooner or later. Because your body and your mind craves, no needs, carbs. It’s our fuel. Everything has carbs in it. It’s our gas to our engine. It makes us run. It keeps us going. Even your brain feeds off of carbs to work properly. By not feeding your body, you are do much more damage than good.

If you have been living like this and believing the starving diets are the only way to ‘skinny’, you not only will need to rethink everything, but you will have to literally reverse the damage you have done. You will need to slowly increase your calories, slowly incorporate more food and more substance to your diet. Stop spending 2 hours on the treadmill a day. You have to change your whole ways, but once you have, you will actually start seeing results-you will eat more and actually lose weight. You will be able to eat more and see changes because your metabolism will be working the way it should.

1200 calories a day is not meant for a person who is active, it’s hardly enough for a person who just lays around all day, so why is this a number we see too often as a ‘daily goal’ all over the place? Because someone who did not do their own research, someone who does not care about their own health nor the health of the other people they are influencing, someone who simply picked a number at random and thought it was a good idea. Quit with the 1000 or 1200 calories a day. If you go under 1500, you are probably not seeing results if you are wanting to actually have muscle and not simply be ‘skinny fat’.

1500 calories a day. That’s still not that much. I eat 2000 a day, I work out almost every single day of the week if you include the fact that I work at two gyms (an adult gym and also as a cheerleading coach). I lift weights five or more days a week. I hardly every do cardio (2-3 days a week maybe, and it’s HITT only for 15-20 minutes at a time). I eat what I want. I mainly want good foods, so I eat them. I eat when I am hungry. I stop when I am full. I even eat Reeses Oreos occasionally, as well homemade peanut butter cups (pretty much I have lots of peanut butter daily). Once you feed your body and get your metabolism doing what it is actually supposed to do, you no longer have to be so strict with what you eat (unless you are on contest prep or something).

So please, for the love of everything delicious, stop with the 1000 calorie days and start healing-and nurturing-your body.

 

-a

My Fitness Pal-Why You Should be Using it

My Fitness Pal has been around for a while now. It’s an easy app you can download on any smart phone (Windows/Apple/Android) and you can keep up with your food and drink intake at the touch of a button. You can manually enter the food or you can now even scan barcodes and the app will load the information for you. Most foods are already plugged in and all you have to do is search for it, find it, and enter how much of it you had. Super simple.

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Why use it

Studies have shown for many years that having and keeping a record of you food intakes (a food diary/journal/daily log) does significantly help with changing eating habits, whether it’s losing weight, gaining, becoming healthier and so on. My Fitness Pal is extremely easy and since it is in app form (with a login) you can access it from all your mobile devices and even from your computer. You really have no excuse to not be able to record everything you eat, as you eat it.

I know it can become tedious having to enter in everything you put your mouth, but it helps you realize what you really are eating every day. A lot of people when asked how many calories/fat/protein/etc was in something they just ate, they weren’t even close to the real numbers. You should know what you are eating. You should know the reality that most people do not actually eat the serving size recommended and listed on the nutrition facts for most foods. You are probably eating twice that amount unless you actually go around measuring your food. Measure your food and plug into the app BEFORE you eat it, so you can really see what is going into your body. If it is 3000 calories and has 500 g of fat, I don’t care who you are, you’ll probably think ‘well, I probably shouldn’t actually eat this’. This is good way to handle binges/mindless snacking and so on. If you see the damage before you ever even do it, you’ll think twice about it.

You also are probably guessing your calorie amount and how much you really eat on a daily basis and are probably off by a lot. Most people who are overweight do not realize how much they are actually eating. It’s like a denial type of thing your mind does. By recording your daily intake, you can hold yourself accountable and also notice where you need to make your changes.

You don’t have to be on the macros counting diet, IIFYM, nor do you have to be counting calories for a food diary to help you reach your goals. I would suggest you try the macros counting if you do want results and without depriving yourself, but to each their own. A food diary will make you aware of your daily habits and since you can even add friends and they can see your daily log, too, it holds you accountable. You can even share when you reach goals on social media sites if you so choose. These sorts of things tend to help motivate more than just trying to diet and keeping it all to yourself. It’s a proven fact that social support is in fact a big factor when it comes to being successful and sticking to a workout routine or diet.

With My Fitness Pal, it’s pretty simple and user friendly. Simply plug in your foods, you can even try and plan ahead by entering foods you think you may eat and seeing how your macros or calories come out if you are a counter. You can view your nutritional values for each food as well totals for your whole day. You can view it in list view and also as a pie chart. If you are a macro counter, you can set your goals for macros (carbs, fats, protein) and look at your pie chart to see where you are for the day.

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I honestly don’t know what I would do without My Fitness Pal. Now I am not saying be strict everyday and I am certainly not saying you don’t get to have treats every now and then without recording them. I do. So you can too. But once you get in the habit of plugging in your food and what a good day looks like and have done it for a while, you get the general idea of how you should eat and what to eat without having to be so strict with plugging it in. And that cheat meal? Don’t even worry about plugging it in. If you do, you’ll feel really guilty probably, and nobody’s got time for that.

 

Let me know if you try My Fitness Pal! Add me if you want to!

ashhealthgirl

 

Happy eating!