Surprise! It's a Fitness Friday post!
So often I see the question, in many forms, on how to lose weight. Here is a suggestion, let's think of it as losing fat…not weight. As someone who has lost 80+ pounds, gained 45 pounds back in pregnancy and post-partum depression, and lost 30ish pounds of that; I know a thing or two on losing weight vs losing fat. My main goal with my Fitness Friday posts are to educate, encourage, and motivate people to live a healthier lifestyle. I hope this post does that for you. I am not a personal trainer or nutritionist either.
As I've said before, the first step to losing fat is to determine your goals. My goal was to be healthier for my family. When I began my weight/fat loss journey, nearly 4 years ago, it was to keep up with my daughter. I was 5'2" and over 210 pounds. I went on a beach vacation in July with my husband and 4 month old daughter. I couldn't find a bathing suit to fit me. I was still wearing maternity clothes because I couldn't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, not that those were small sizes. I was miserable! It took me another month to change my mindset on losing weight. I cannot determine my exact weight when I began my weight/fat loss journey; because the last time I weighed 210 was before the vacation. I didn't begin working out until nearly September. I could've easily weighed 215-220 by that time.
These two pictures show my weight/fat loss journey in a nutshell. The first is me in August 2013, still in my maternity clothes and probably weighing in 215-220#. (I decorate cakes and cupcakes as a hobby! I've figured out I don't have to eat them too.) The second picture of me is in July 2017. There is at least a 65 pound difference. Now, I regularly run 10k's around my neighborhood pushing the kids in the double BOB and weight lifting in the garage. Something I never imagined for myself. Next Friday, I will post a series of photos showing my entire weight/fat loss journey for you.
So, back to determining goals. Your goal will influence your nutritional standards, workouts, and lifestyle. Because my goal isn't to be a fitness model, I keep a 75/25 percent healthy eating to unhealthy eating ratio. When I was training to show horses, I kept an 85/15 ratio. My goal also determines my workout type. I try to run 3 days a week and lift weights for 3 days. Obviously, my mom schedule and weather patterns determine if I actually accomplish that. Some weeks I lift more than I run. Guess what? That determines my nutritional intake, aka, diet. So, if you want a fitness model body; be prepared to eat a 4oz baked chicken breast, quarter cup of brown rice, and half cup of steamed broccoli with 3 protein shakes thrown in throughout the day, and vitamin/workout supplements. Also, you'll need to stay in the gym weight lifting for 2 hrs twice a day. My best advice is to keep it manageable with your lifestyle. I'm a stay-at-home mom with a squat rack, a few kettle bells, a few free weights, a double BOB stroller, and two kids with unbelievably high energy levels.
Which brings me to my second step to losing weight/fat, determine your diet. Now, some people decide to restrict themselves to a zero carb, zero sugar, zero fat, gluten-free, vegan, living off of purified oxygen only diet. (Sarcasm in that last bit) Very few people can maintain a restrictive diet. My son has phenylketonuria, which requires him to maintain an extremely restricted diet from the phenylalanine protein. I measure and record all of his food, including his medical formula and medical foods. I find, not even a metabolic genetic disorder that can permanently damage your brain and nervous system is motivation enough for many PKUers to stay on diet. It is hard! You need to figure out a diet that you can maintain for your weight/fat loss goals. I have several friends that studied nutrition. They always tell me diet fads do not work long term. So, if your goal is to lose 15-30 pounds for a short time period, go ahead with a fad diet. However, as soon as you stop that fad diet, you will gain the weight back, plus some. Also, all of those weight loss gimmick wraps, pills, and drinks…*spoiler alert*….DO NOT WORK! As soon as you stop using them, you will gain weight. If you are going to replace a "meal", it should be a snack…with a protein shake. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner needs to be an actual meal. Studies have shown eating 5-7 small meals a day helps you lose weight/fat and keep it off. What you consume during those meals also determine that. Quit the processed foods! Drink water! Switch simple carbs and sugar to complex ones. I eat carbs! I just make sure they come in a nutritional form, like sweet potatoes, red potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat pasta or bread, fruits, and other vegetables. If I lift weights, I keep a low carb, high protein diet for that day. If I run a 10k, I keep a higher complex carb, moderate protein day. Here is the key: EVERYTHING IN MODERATION! For my body to properly process, I do keep a lower carb diet than most people need. Unfortunately, I have IBS and even complex carbs will trigger a torture session with my gastrointestinal system. Simple changes like eating whole wheat bread instead of white bread or drinking water instead of soft drinks; makes a difference. People give potatoes a bad reputation, but think of what people put on the potato…butter, cheese, salt, bacon, ranch dressing, and/or sour cream. All of that adds up in sugar, fats, salts, and carbs. Some people complain that they eat salads and don't lose weight. Well, what are you putting on that low nutritional iceburg lettuce salad? Ranch or some creamy dressing (much more than the 2 tablespoon serving size), cheese, bacon, and other high fat, high salt, high caloric additions. Those add up! When I eat a salad, it's a kale/spinach/chard mix (high in iron, fiber, and other vitamins), topped with a lean protein (chicken, salmon, shrimp, steak), seldom with cheese (unless I need the fat), cucumber, tomato, and an oil based dressing of 1-2 tablespoons. My salad keeps me fuller longer with nutrients. But I don't follow a strict Vegan, Gluten free, Paleo/Caveman, Keto, yada yada diet. I might have a vegan meal, a paleo meal, etc. throughout my week to give my tastebuds a new sensation.
Back to the weight loss "potions". I have an awesome product that will guarantee you a 4 pound weight loss in 2 days. All I need is a low monthly payment of $50 for 5 years to tell you! Just kidding! I will save you money and tell you anyway. Go lick/eat raw chicken. You will have food poisoning so bad, you will lose 4 pounds of water and poop weight in two days. Y'all, those weight loss pills, shakes, and drinks usually allows weight loss through diarrhea, water (urine) loss, or starvation because you don't want to eat anything that will make you poop again. You aren't losing real fat and gaining muscle through those products.
Again, fitness models rely on vitamin stacks for energy and to meet their bodies nutritional demands that their diet doesn't meet. I stick to unprocessed, whole foods and do not require a vitamin stack. However, I found out after I took Zoloft for my PPD/A; my metabolism slowed and my weight shot up. I gained 35 pounds during pregnancy (the recommended amount), after delivery I lost 15 pounds (that stayed off until I began Zoloft). At two months post-partum, I began Zoloft for two months. I gained 25 pounds in those two months. I still maintained a healthy diet and exercised. So, I quit taking Zoloft. (It wasn't helping my depression or anxiety either.) My weight gain stopped, but wouldn't go back down. I decided to take a thermogenic fat burner by NLA for Her (Shred Her). It is vitamin based, not chemical, and for a temporary time period. After you take a bottle (two month supply), you are to discontinue using it for a time period. Also, I take NLA for Her multivitamin and probiotic. (Bodybuilding.com had a great sale on NLA supplements not long ago.) After my workouts, I drink NLA for Her Aminos too. I'm not endorsed by NLA; but I do enjoy a sale and great tasting products. The aminos help repair your muscles after a workout. Recently, I wanted to cut down on my coffee intake and afternoon nap dependency; and began using NLA for Her's thermogenic chews. I use them as a pre-workout energy supplement. I also drink a protein shake as a mid-morning snack or mid-afternoon snack, depending if it's a cardio or weight day. It is Prozein Synthesis at Nutrashop. It's low in carbs and great tasting. For snacks, I will eat a half of a FitJoy bar too.
Honestly, if you only run on the treadmill 3 days a week for 3 miles; you probably don't need a pre-workout chew or amino drink afterwards. For regular weight lifting and cardio, you definitely need an amino to help muscle repair. Pre-workout really depends on your energy level. You don't need either to lose weight or fat.
I would suggest for you to download a calorie tracker app too. I use MyFitnessPal. It syncs with my FitBit and RunKeeper app. Plus, I find that the app has a vast index of foods and its easy to create a recipe. My biggest issue is portion control. The app has allowed me to judge how much of a food I actually need in a meal. I can track my nutrients and macros (carb to fat to protein ratio).
Now for my third step, determine your exercise.
Your exercise choices contribute to your nutritional needs and weight loss. If all you do is cardio, you won't have much muscle definition. You will have fat pockets on your body. Cardio burns fat, but not the same as muscle building exercises like weight lifting. If you do a combo, like Crossfit or HIIT, your body build will be lean and muscular. If you just lift heavy weights, your body build will be bulky and muscular (because you are building muscle). I don't do Crossfit, because many times you aren't focused on correct posture and movements while competing on best time. That will get you injuries. I do some of the same moves that you will find in Crossfit, but in a slower, controlled manner for correct form. HIIT isn't a good workout for me, because I have knee issues. I stick to correct form and a moderate pace to keep me winded. Although I might do a boot camp style class on occasion, I'm the slow and steady turtle. Haha!
For example (above is not me), when this person was 127#, she most likely ate semi-healthy and did cardio. At 136#, she most likely changed her diet to include more healthy foods and incorporated weight lifting in her exercise. While she weighs more, she has muscle definition. This is the difference between weight loss and fat loss.
Let's recap this: to lose weight/fat you must…
1.) Determine your fitness goals to focus on workout style and diet.
2.) Make realistic and healthy nutritional changes.
3.) Stay away from fad diets and gimmicky weight loss products.
4.) Determine your workout style for weight loss vs fat loss.
5.) Be kind to yourself. You will plateau and eat an unhealthy meal or two. But don't allow it to stop you from your goal.