When my youngest, Isabel, turned 4, I felt ready to focus a bit more on myself. I thought, "You know what? It's time to give the extra 15 pounds I still carried an eviction notice!" After surviving the roller coaster ride of two pregnancies (each one, with a 60 pound gain, feeling like a full-contact sport ), I was determined to bid farewell to the extra weight that had cozied up on my belly, butt, and thighs. So, armed with determination and a hefty dose of mom resilience, I set out on a quest to reclaim my fit, toned, strong and healthy body and maybe even discover a bit of sanity along the way.
And then I did it. I lost the 15 lbs, toned my body and got in amazing shape.
Simple? Yes. Easy? Not always. Worth it? Absolutely.
The first thing I did was commit to 3 weekly 30-60 minute YouTube TOTAL BODY(cardio, strength training and stretching) workouts. I was eating mostly healthily but I wasn't paying close attention to the macro-nutrient(fats, carbs and proteins) portions for each meal, and had never heard of trying to eat slowly and mindfully to 80% full. I almost always ate everything served on my plate and didn't pay close attention to my hunger and fullness cues.
I felt better with the regular workouts…leading to less stress, better sleep and that incredible post-workout endorphin high.
But I didn’t lose any fat at the start, even though I was super consistent with the 3 weekly workouts.
WHY didn’t I see fat loss at first? 🌟THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO KNOW🌟
Because to lose fat, we need to create a calorie deficit; and we burn approximately 70% of our calories at rest (the calories needed to perform our body's most basic functions; like breathing, circulation, and cell production, which is known as our BMR- basal metabolic rate).
Yup...70% AT REST.
Only 5% of our daily calorie burn comes from intentional exercise such as a total body workout or playing a sport.
But do intentional workouts (that include strength training) play an essential role in long-term, easier and sustainable fat loss(think 10-15 lbs in a year, 30-45 lbs in 3 years, etc.)?
Strength training, to increase our muscle mass, is one of the most effective ways to raise our BMR(that 70% "at rest" calorie burn).
So my Youtube total body workouts did not lead to immediate fat loss, BUT after a few weeks of consistent 3 times a week workouts, the muscle I built started to accelerate my fat loss and this continued every month I built more muscle. It's also important that I mention here that by strength training from the start of my weight loss journey; when my body burned calories, it burned more fat and little or no muscle.
WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS? FOR 2 IMPORTANT REASONS:
One, so you have the right expectation about workouts and fat loss and never expect the sweat and effort of workouts to translate to huge immediate fat loss(unrealistic expectations can lead to feeling unmotivated when you don't see the results you expect). And two, so you figure out a way to complete 3 weekly 30-60 minute total body workouts(cardio, strength training, stretching) from the start of your weight loss journey - whether it's yoga; pilates; at a gym; or at home with an online personal trainer, YouTube or apps.
Ok, now that I got my spiel about workouts and fat loss out of the way, let me tell you everything I did to lose the 15 lbs(in approx. 3 months), and I admit my nutrition was NOT sustainable:
I made sleep a priority(I had to stop binge watching bad tv after kids were asleep!), and kept the 3pm sugar/carb cravings (mostly) in control
I had a planned 100 calorie granola bar on hand for the days I really wanted one - so I wouldn't raid the kids' junk cupboard by feeling restricted! I also only bought the kids junk I didn’t care for.
I consistently walked 4+ kms, 5 days a week (walking kids to and from school) and was active with the kids on the weekends
I weighed myself weekly, expecting ups and downs and got curious not furious when my weight went up.
I completed a total body workout 3x a week for 30-60 minutes
I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and tracked my food for a few weeks so I was 100% aware of what was going into my body. I stopped eating my kids’ food scraps and focused on decreasing my carbs. (IMPORTANT NOTE: I did not love cutting back on carbs(especially fruit) and found it hard to maintain my weight loss with the low-carb strategy, as I often felt sluggish AND FOUND IT HARDER TO CONTROL CRAVINGS. As you'll read below, after I completed Precision Nutrition's certification and became an expert at the science of weight loss; I increased my carbs and found myself effortlessly maintaining my fat loss and feeling amazing(in other words, I found food freedom!).
Now, in my 50's and menopausal, here’s what I do - EFFORTLESSLY - to keep the weight off, while still enjoying foods like pizza and sweets. The KEY is to reverse small gains!
I still make sleep a priority to better control my 3pm cravings and lower my stress hormone, cortisol.
I eat real whole foods 80% of the time from the "eat more" and "eat some" categories and 20% from the "eat less" category. I encourage you to learn these categories and stop labelling food as "good" or "bad". Here's a quick info-graphic that explains what main foods are in each of the categories: Meat eaters. Plant-based eaters. Print it and post it in your kitchen for easy reference.
I use a hand measurement system to estimate my macro-nutrients and vegetables for each meal(just eye-ball it), eating 1-2 portions of each(depending on the meal), whether at home, on vacation, in a restaurant or a family holiday gathering. So yes, I eat carbs at every meal and as much fruit as I want if I get hungry between meals.
On most days(good enough, never perfect), I eat as soon as I'm hungry(if you ignore hunger, your cravings may increase) and eat slowly and mindfully to 80-100% full. Here's how I know how to be in tune with my fullness:
I average 7,500-13,000 steps a day
I weigh myself once a week and when my weight goes up by 1-3 lbs(mostly after holidays or super stressful weeks), I reverse small weight gains by eating extra healthy(until I’m 80% full - see diagram above to know what this feels like), for 1-3 days (using the portion control Hand Measurement System above)
I manage my cravings for sugar by having a 100-150 calorie sweet treat(like chocolate) daily
I complete 3 weekly 30-60 minute total body workouts that include cardio, strength training and stretching.
And you wanna know what the hardest part was to reach my desired healthy weight
and get in shape?
But it's never too late to begin anew. Whether you dream of feeling energized, fitting into your favourite clothes, or setting a positive example for your children, the time is now.
Commitment is key.
Don't let doubt or fear hold you back.
You’re ready for your own “I’m back in shape” moment. And please, please please learn from my mistakes (and perhaps yours), and don't cut out carbs so much you crave and dream about them!
What I do now to maintain my weight and help clients lose anywhere from 10-30 lbs in 12 weeks is a proven effective way to get yourself to your healthy weight, to feeling fit and looking your best and staying there. I've learned from my journey, and I'm here to support you on yours. Together, we can overcome obstacles and celebrate victories. So, don't give up. Your "I'm back in shape" moment awaits!
Remember, success is about progress, not perfection.
If you're ready to invest in your health and well being and need someone to help you get over the overwhelm and tell you exactly what to do every step of the way, I'm here to hold you accountable and give you over-the-top support. I have personalized programs that you can join or have openings in online personal training. I even offer a 30-day or your money back guarantee because I'm so certain I can help you.
Your next step is simply to get in touch!