calories

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!

Fad dieting: the breakdowns of the latest fads out there

This change can be overwhelming mainly because of all the different diets, the different workouts, the different plans, and the different facts you are hearing from everywhere. One person is crossfitting and eating all the bacon they can handle (Paleo) and getting like Hulk, while another person is dropping weight by going vegan and running half marathons daily. What should you do? Where should you start? Here is a guide to help you towards your own personal goals.

 

The Diets

There are really so many out there with so many ‘success stories’ that I can see why pretty much any and all of them can seem tempting to you. But I will list the diet fad with it’s rules and regulations as well as my thoughts about it. You can always make your own judgement I just want you well equipped out there as many people want you to join their fad (**read cult**) for their own gains in some sort.

 

Atkins

Where do I even begin? Please do not think you can some how have a ‘no carb’ diet. This doesn’t exist if you even only eat plants. Atkins is the low carb diet, with the products in the store (sometimes the same aisle as the protein bars, which saddens me when I am doing my stocking up) that supposedly have zero to no carbs. This diet is practically a giant lie through and through. Carbs are in everything but water. Carbs are your friend, no matter what this diet tries to sell you.

 

SlimFast

I shutter at the thought of only eating the SlimFast line of products. With SlimFast, you are to choose from their range of products (shakes, meal bars, snack bars, so on) for two meals and two snacks and then having a balanced dinner. My problem with SlimFast is the chemical shit storm on that ingredient list. If you want a protein shake for a meal, make one in a blender with ingredients you know where they came from. (Protein powder of your choice+milk of choice+ add fruit or ice as desired, BLEND boom)

Paleo

Paleo is the cave man diet that is big in the Crossfit world. You don’t eat dairy, grains, processed foods, legumes, starches, and of course alcohol. But you can eat all the meat you want. Some say fruits are okay, lots of the followers say no because it’s sugar. It’s the diet the beginning humans used to have, because it’s all they had. Hunting and harvesting was all they knew of when it come to survival. My opinion on this is the fact that it sounds like a good idea, but then there are the people who eat mounds of bacon and think it’s great, it’s Paleo. And legumes? They are full of protein and fiber. They come from the earth. Along with wheat and grains. I do not know why you would simply rid your diet of whole food groups unless you are diagnosed with a medical problem, especially food groups that come from the earth. I am just not comfortable with a diet that restrictive.

Gluten Free

The latest craze of the ‘fad diet’ world. I see Gluten Free all over the shelves of the grocery stores now. But is it all that you think it is? Is it that miracle to all miracles? You know why things with gluten are actually poor for your health? The refined garbage and bleached flours are what’s hurting you. Gluten is the elasticity to hold the breads and doughs in baked goods together. It’s the little bubbles when you bake bread. It gives bread the consistency it needs to be that texture, and that fluffy feeling. Yes, gluten is the devil for people with certain diseases. But for everyone else? The gluten free crap on the shelf is full of other terrible things for you. You lose the gluten and replace it with probably 8 more ingredients that are worse. If you do feel better with the gluten free lifestyle, make your gluten free things at home, please. Otherwise, stick with whole wheat. Whole wheat, not white, is best for you. Whole grains are good for the body as well as your soul in my opinion. Having a freshly made tomato sauce with some whole wheat noodles along with a big helping of a fresh mixed greens salad topped with fresh lemon juice. My soul would be complete. As well as my body loving me.

Vegan

Vegan is when you have no, NO animal products. No dairy, no meat, nothing. There are lots of vegan junk food out there though, so if you choose this route, please know you can still be unhealthy. Raw Vegan is the best choice. You eat strictly plant based foods and just as it sounds-the uncooked versions. You can eat bananas and carrots all day. You can make smoothies by blending bananas and other fruits with ice. You can do the juicing of raw fruits and veggies. If you can stick with this diet without feeling deprived (that mental stability I am always talking about) is what you need to keep in mind when you choose a diet that is right for you to follow.

Raw Til 4

This diet is for the people who love the idea of Raw Vegan but don’t know if they can stick with it strictly and able to keep it together mentally. Raw Til 4 is when you keep it raw vegan (plants/fruits/veggies) uncooked until 4 pm. After, most people say to only have cooked vegetables and whole grains (have potatoes and brown rice for example) while others are more lenient (I support this one the most, it’s more likely you could stick to it for a lifetime, day in and day out) after 4 with grilled fish and other items. I fully support the Raw Til 4 diet and the people I have heard from about this diet are extremely happy-mentally and physically. You can stick with it for the longterm versus a lot of the other diets.

Fruitarian

This is the Raw Vegan life  but you only live off of fruits. This is a good idea, except having a vegetable is actually not bad for you. This is like the banana diet craze going around. I hate bananas (yes, I hate it, they are so good for you) but you can do so much with them and they are amazing for you. Saying that though, spinach is great for you too. To each their own on this one. I could eat pounds of kiwis don’t get me wrong. I just feel you would lose nutrients from other sources with this.

Counting Calories

The old fashioned diet. My mother believes, still, in religiously counting calories daily. Calories in needs to be lower than calories out. This is usually the way of life for people with a rocky relationship with food, especially in eating disorders (namely anorexia). Yes, the logic is there. Yes it works. 1) Do you really know how many calories you need in a day, to maintain/gain/lose? The only way to know this is to calculate your needs. You can find calculators for this formula online to make it easy (such as http://www.active.com/fitness/calculators/calories). A lot of factors make up how much you need. Using My Fitness Pal app on your phone will help find this number as well. 2) 2000 calories of donuts versus 2000 calories of vegetables is made up completely different. Other factors should be involved. If life was so easy that you could simply only worry about calories for the rest of forever and be healthy, it’d be great. But life is complicated and messy. And so is being healthy.

IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros aka Macro Counting)

Spinning off from calorie counting, you can count the major nutrients you need in your diet, how your calories are made up in a day. Your macros are protein, fats and carbs. How you do this diet is keeping track of what you eat in a day and figuring out what percentage of your calories in the entire day were from each source (carbs, protein, fats). My Fitness Pal does this breakdown easily for you. So if you should be eating 2300 calories a day, you plug in your intakes for the day (you can plan ahead and plug in or plug in as you go) and see the breakdown of your macros to know if you are on track or not.This is my style. This is the diet I mainly stick with. Yes, it’s time consuming to keep up with everything you put into your mouth, but once you get the hang of hitting your macros, you kind of know how to do it. You can stop plugging in the numbers, unle/s you are on contest prep or something.

Clean Eating

This is the purest of the pure. You would have to eliminate it all, the process, preservatives, all the crap that comes from the modern food pretty much everyone consumes in today’s day and age. You only eat whole, natural foods. No refined sugars, flour, nothing. You would replace everything with the purely natural. Honey and pure stevia for sweetening (or pure organic fruit juice). You would make nearly everything from scratch. This is quite the commitment. The problem with this diet, is the sanity. This is the main diet I talk about then I say you have to have mental stability with the diet you choose. Clean eating can cause people to become beyond obsessive. What kind of life is it to worry about everything you eat, not being able to go out with friends to a restaurant, not ever being able to eat foods other people make most of the time. This is great for people who really can just eat organic, grass fed chicken boobs and brown rice day in and day out. It’s wonderful in perspective and on paper, but it’s hard in action. It is hard in real life. And it can cause disordered eating in a different aspect. A lot of people in the fitness world who were once very very strict with clean eating (especially on contest diets) have an eating disorder. They are obsessed with every food that touches their lips. They breathe eating clean and figuring out what is in every food out there. This is a disorder. It is the same as anorexia, just a different approach. If you are living every day worrying about what to eat, when to eat, what you are eating, it’s a problem. If you choose this way, please, please, please be careful. Please do not be so strict and hard on yourself. Life is short. If you become obsessive and disorded, please seek help. Please stop while you are ahead and evaluate everything. Your mental health should never be replaced with the ‘goal body’.

The 80/20 Rule

This is the way you can balance the clean eating with finding balance and harmony with all the the foods you love but you know aren’t good for you at all. This is the ideal diet. Moderation. You spend 80% of your time eating whole, natural foods that fuel your body the right way. The other 20% is what you love (pizza, cookies, a small french fry through the drive through). This is the break you need from the healthy world. If it’s recommended to rest from working out at least once a week, why wouldn’t the rule apply to your eating? You need a break from it all once in a while. It’s good for you. I personally follow this lifestyle along with the IIFYM. I have never been better. Never been happier. Never been in a size 4 pants before. But here I am (with my brand new size 4 jeans I bought yesterday). I just fill up on fruits and veggies first, think like the Raw Til 4 diet, except not so strict. I try to eat really well breakfast and lunch. I am a little more lenient for dinner (it’s also usually my refuel after working out right now-I work out after lunch most days since leaving the desk life). I am not saying I go get a Big Mac (gross, sorry, but I just can’t do McDs) for dinner, but I will have a burger my boyfriend grilled, I will get a steak and veggies at Outback (even get a sweet tea if I feel like). This is a good lifestyle you can stick with and still be happy and healthy all the way around.

Intermittent Fasting

This is big in the fitness world right now. You fast for a certain number of hours (let’s say you don’t eat from 8 pm until noon the next day). Yes there is science behind this, but I do not know many people who can starve themselves that long without going crazy. For most people, fasting and starving only equals binging later on, and usually on terrible foods (three double cheeseburgers and a milkshake, with a side of brownies). You have to have some serious discipline and dedication for this one. I really have only heard/seen major success from this from the males who try it. I have heard of men even helping their vitals at the doctor with this diet. Yet again, it is what works for you and your body, mind, and soul.

Carb Cycling

With this, it is like the fasting up above, but you have high carbs days (like on work out days, leg day, etc) and then low carb days (like rest day, or active rest, light activity). You need mad discipline. You will need to stay away from peanut butter, oatmeal, and so on. You will live off of chicken boobs, veggies and so on. No rice. Little fruit (read sugars=carbs). It would suck. But it works for some people.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope this has helped you feel a little bit more educated and equipped to be able to choose the right style of eating and diet you think is best for you. Your body is different from mine. It’s different from the last person you saw. It’s different from Jim Bob down the road. You have to figure out what is best for you. It needs to keep you healthy: mind. body. soul. If it doesn’t, try something else. You need to find what you can stick with for the long haul if you want results, if you want change. Not just for this week or month.

 

If you have questions, please let me know.

ashhealhthgirl@gmail.com

 

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