Yesterday, I dove deep and shared with you some of the mental hurdles I had to face when I started my weight-loss and lifting journey. I believe that conquering your inner negativity is a big step forward in making your outside match your inside; finding harmony as a beautiful, strong, whole person. I want to share some of the food tips and my basic workout philosophy for weightlifting. I follow my own advice everyday and it helped me lose 100 pounds but more importantly it keeps me on the path of success now.
So many times when I made bad food choices in my early twenties it was because I lacked a plan. I made quick decisions that impacted my daily calorie intake. Combining that with poor exercise and I gained weight. When you have a plan, when you have go-to foods, you start to make habits with your food choices. Eating and making good choices with a disciplined diet become easier over time. You will even develop a preference for different foods once your actions become habits… making that strong, beautiful body your destiny!
Make a Plan
You have to pick a diet you will stick to, if you are a meat eater do not go vegan. If you are a vegan, you can try high protein, low carb (kudos) but you might have a hard time finding foods you can eat. Try to be easy on yourself. I did not start off on a gluten-free, dairy free, paelo, vegan, raw diet (still will not and do not). Baby steps.
- I figured out how much I was actually eating. You have to track the amount of calories you are putting in your body each day. Write it down or use an app, I like my fitness pal. Just this trick made me eat less. I realized quickly that I had become a zombie eater- a person that is mindlessly eating when they are not hungry. I was eating out of boredom or stress, not because my body needed it.
- Once you know how much you are currently eating see what happens when you start to reduce your caloric intake. If you realize you are eating over 3,000 calories daily, what does your body and mind feel like when you eat 2,500? Do you get hungry more often, dizzy, thirsty?
- Drink more water. Once I started to listen to my body I realized that many times when I went to grab food I was actually thirsty. Drinking water keeps your digestive track lubricated and happy. It helps your whole body perform the multitude of functions it needs to do everyday to keep us human.
- Once you have started to cut your calories down and noticing how your body is reacting to certain foods chose a diet that works for you. I started out with a very high protein, low carb, low sugar, low-fat diet when I was in my losing weight stage. Now maintaining and building muscles I eat a mix of protein, carbs/fruits, and veggies. During both stages (weight-loss and maintaining) I eat 80 to 100 grams of protein a day, it is a lot, but I also find that the more protein I eat the less hungry I am. I notice that it does three things for me.
- One, it increases my satiety, I am satisfied with the food I eat for longer periods of time.
- Two, I have higher energy expenditures when I eat high protein, this means I am getting more out of each calorie that I consume, there is less waste, and less that will turn into fat.
- Finally, it helps me keep and build more muscle while boosting my metabolism.
I have a list of foods I know I can eat no matter what. If you had told me two years ago that there would be days it is hard for me to eat, I would have laughed in your face. But it is true, some days, after a hard workout, or if I am dehydrated, I do not feel like eating. I have to force food down to take care of my body and muscles. You should create a list of easy-to-eat foods that can be snacks, breakfasts, post-workout energy boosts. I am not sponsored by the brands I will mention in this post. They are just personally what works best for me.
- Pure Protein Bars Chocolate Deluxe are my favorite snack. I eat at least three a day. They have 21 grams of protein per a bar, 3 grams of sugar and are 180 calories. I have one for breakfast with my morning coffee. I also have been known to eat them in my sleep. (I will save that story for another post)
- I also started eating Greek yogurt: Dannon Oikos Triple Zero, has 15 grams of protein and no added sugar. This is great for the days it really is hard to eat, when you just wish you could drink your calories or eat a pill. Never felt like that? Well everyone is different I guess, but believe me this stuff is filling and really easy to eat.
- Beans are amazing! They are full of protein and fiber, both nutritional building blocks are great for your digestive track, keeping you full, and building muscles. There are so many different types to choose from. I enjoy making homemade humus and chilis. I love black beans on wraps. I like to make lentil soups. They really are a very diverse food, and again, they are full of fiber!
- Fiber is your best friend! You should try to get as much in as you can through the foods you eat. I found it hard to get as much as I needed when doing a high protein, low carb diet. I was not eating a lot of fruit at the time, there is so much fiber packed into the skin of many fruits. So I picked up a habit I learned from my husband. I take three spoonful every night of Original Colon Cleanse; a powder made of psyllium husks. It is hard to get down, make sure to drink a lot of water with it. I started with one spoonful a day and worked my way up to three through experimenting with what works best for my body. Again, everyone is different and will have individual timelines for adjusting to the boost in fiber intake.
When I was 265 pounds I did a lot of walking. I walked my butt off, literally. I have lost 100 pounds and a part of that success was cardiovascular activity. I had to burn more calories than I ate and I did a good job of that. Once I started to get down to my goal weight I noticed the loose skin. I missed my curves. I realized that what I was missing was the muscles I once took for granted when I was a teenager.
On our first date in May 2015, my husband put his hand on my lower back. He then looked me in the eyes and asked when had I injured my back? I was shocked! How did he know? He told me simply, “you do not have any muscles, no definition from your knees to your lower back.” Everything had atrophied.
I have four herniated discs in my lower back. I was injured in college in a weight room accident during my career as a NCAA Division I swimmer. I had lived with moderate to severe back pain for almost a decade and it was the largest motivator for my weight-loss. Within weeks of meeting my husband he had me on a reverse hyper machine, a weight machine designed to strengthen your posterior chain. He also stressed perfect weight lifting technique. As you can see from the picture above, proper technique and heavy lifting have made a world of difference for my posterior!
If you do not have a weightlifting coach or have access to a gym I do not recommend doing barbell or dumbbell lifting by yourself. You should always lift with a partner, and you should seek out individuals that know what they are doing. My husband is a powerlifter and so it was an easy transition for me to go from machine/moderate lifting to heavy lifting. I had been one of the strongest girls on my college team and it felt good to get the anaerobic burn back in my muscles.
How do you know if you are lifting heavy? That is the number one question I get from new lifters. I compare it to an arm full of groceries… that feeling of burning when you decided to do the whole load in one trip, and even a few minutes later you can feel it in your arm. That is heavy. If you can do more than 10 reps without breaking form or it is still easy you need to be lifting more weight.
This is called myofibrillar hypertrophy, it builds muscle. You want to use a weight that is heavy enough for you to do between 2 to 8 reps. The more weight and the less reps increases both the quantity and size of the muscle fibers, giving you more lean body mass. You want to push yourself till it the weight is too heavy to lift easily. This causes microtrauma to the muscle fibers. These are small tears that your body will repair and replace with stronger and larger tissue.
The simple reasons I lift now are: I love my curves, I like being able to eat more because muscles need more calories (revving your metabolism), and being strong makes me more self-assured in every facet of my life. I truly enjoy going into the gym, picking up a set of 35 pound dumbbells and noting the reaction of others as I pump iron. That feeling is priceless, and the confidence boost enormous! It empowers me to aim high and reach for my goals with renewed tenacity.
With the right fuel and training, anything is possible!
One Body, One Life. Make it Count!