Unlearning Everything I Thought I Knew (Pt. 2)- Fitness

So, where were we… March 2012. I was down 40 total pounds from November weighing in in the low 180’s.  It was spring, and I knew I needed to get my body MOVING if the scale was going to continue to track downwards.  So, I did the same thing as before- Crazy Long Ass Cardio Workouts.  And the scale wasn’t budging, not even a pound.

I just happened to be shooting (I am also a photographer, not a hunter) a good friend of mine, who is also a Personal Trainer. I told her about what I was doing… and it not working.  Her response was simple: “Get a Kettlebell, it’ll get you results and fast”.  I didn’t even know what a kettlebell was.
Instead of regurgitating everything I researched and found along the way- I am just going to list off the big misconceptions and lies I had to unlearn, with links to people that have said it way better than I ever could:

  • Lifting Heavy Weights Is a Must in Fat Loss.  You *can* lose fat and build muscle all at the same time. See 30 reasons why here.
  • You Will NOT get BIG and Bulky from lifting heavy. I don’t know who started that myth way back whenever… I am convinced that they were scared of strong women.  This is such a BIG HUGE LIE. Unless you are a Dude, with Dude hormones- OR are taking anabolic hormones you simply CANNOT get bulky.  God just didn’t make us girls that way.  Take it up with him.  For evidence, I offer Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, and I could list dozens.  Just believe me on this.  You have been lied to. (That is unless you think my exhibits look bulky-  and if that’s the case, I can’t help you- maybe an optometrist can.)
  • Lifting Man Weights Can be FUN.  Yep… Click it and check it out.
  • Kettlebells are THE secret Weapon.  There are many articles you can google and find out why Kettlebells are the bomb… but here is one from an Author I trust and an organization that is responsible for certifying trainers in the way of the Kettlebell.

That’s it.  Yep… my exercise lesson is really that freaking simple. Lift heavy stuff.  Put it back down. Do it again. And again. If you want some endurance- go get yourself some cardio.  But just don’t count on it for fat loss.  In order to lose weight, you gotta lift it. I have totally been bitten by the Obstacle Course Racing bug (like spartan races, warrior dashes, etc)… and there is an expectation that you run in between the obstacles (geez!)… so I include training for trail running in my workout rotation.  I am not saying Cardio is bad… it’s great for heart and lung health, endurance and conditioning.  My only point is that cardio should be done for *good health*, and weight training should be done for fat loss (although it obviously contributes to good health as well).

As for my results: I started seeing muscles take form and tone up within just a week or two of starting with Kettlebells (at that time I was doing them every other day for 20 minutes, taking the weekend off). The fat just peeled off of me. I have continued to see toning and reshaping every week with my kettlebell. Then in May or so, I began to incorporate traditional HEAVY weight training into my workout rotation. I love lifting heavy for so many reasons- but the main one is just because I CAN. I am *that* strong that I can bench press, deadlift, squat, etc with weights in the triple digits in my hands. Also I have been able to focus on some areas that I wanted to improve even further on. For instance, I decided one day that I would like to have an ass- since I am not genetically predisposed to having one… So I have been a deadlifting, squatting, hip thrusting FOOL since then- lol!)
I now weigh about 20 pounds more than the day I got married- I was a size 8/10 back then.  However, I am now a size 4 in jeans. Clearly, I am smaller now (even though I weigh more), than I was 13 years ago- before I had children! The point is don’t just watch the scale to measure your success. I keep up with measurements, pant sizes, pictures, and the scale.  Don’t depend on just one. Speaking of pictures- here is what I look like now…

August 2012

August 2012

October 31, 2012

October 31, 2012

I don't *think* I look big and bulky :)

I don’t *think* I look big and bulky 🙂 December 2012

My two “go to” resources for my workouts are:

Kettlebell days: www.myomytv.com and if you are new to Kettlebells- check out her Beginners Corner.
Weight Lifting Days: I pretty much follow this workout on Nia Shanks page- and just increase my weight every week. Scroll about half way down, she has a 3 day plan there.  She explains why only 3 days in the body of the blog post.
Off Days: I do nothing, or maybe go for a run 🙂

Yea!!!! The introductions are OVER! Now I can get on with the fun stuff that I really created the blog for… the daily workouts, fun links, etc. etc.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts, responses and questions below! There you have all the info on how I got fat, unlearning everything about food, and now the fitness part.  Thanks for reading! See you after my next work out!


Unlearning Everything I Thought I Knew (aka what DID work)

So you now have the sad backstory- lets get on with what DID work.

In November of 2011 I saw THE PICTURE.  You know… the one where you thought you were wearing slimming clothes, your spanx were leaving you breathless, and yet- you don’t recognize yourself. I certainly have images of myself that are way worse, but this one hit me like a baseball bat… to the face:

The photo that rocked my world.  Ugh. I can't believe I am showing you this.

The photo that rocked my world. Ugh. I can’t believe I am showing you this.

So, Mr. S and I decided to go low-carb (he needed to loose a good bit too) in November- for multiple boring reasons- but the point it is that it was a good time to try and “diet” again. Through the holidays, up until early January- I had lost 20 or so pounds. But I plateaued, AGAIN. My sister-in-law had mentioned the Paleo Diet to me a couple of times- and I started researching it. There was one video I discovered that really made sense to me. After I watched it, I jumped on the Paleo bandwagon- and I never looked back.  Here it is- it is an hour long, and he does have an accent that you have to acclimate to.  But make the time and watch it. Just Do it:
The Video that Changed My Relationship with Food Forever.

So that lecture got me started.  Not all food is the same. Wow.
How many times I had complained to my girlfriends that I was eating less than 1500 calories a day, and doing cardio like a crazy person, but getting nowhere? Something just had to be wrong with my metabolism (I even had my thyroid checked). After watching that video I learned that my metabolism was just fine- but it was ME working against it.  I especially identified with the part about the insulin response to carbs.  That part had me jumping up and down in my seat- he was talking about me! So I learned that I was just a passenger on the Carb/Craving/non-weight-loss roller coaster… It was not a lack of self control (like I would tell myself when I was pinching my fat in the mirror), it was a cause and affect relationship between what I put in my mouth and how my body’s hormones reacted to it.  My insulin was doing a real good job of turning every carb I ate into fat, and causing cravings for even more.

Nope, all calories are not created equal.

I then read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. I will say that the book is exhausting to read- lots and lots of science and big SAT words.  His major point is that we don’t get fat because we eat too much, and exercise too little. We get fat because we eat too much of the wrong things…  Here is a video of him giving a interview over his position about why we get fat and what we can do about it: Why we get fat, and what we can do about it.

So not only did I need to cut the carbs (including starches, sugar, beans, etc), but I needed to add FAT to my diet.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.  Add fat? I had been eating as much fat free as possible in all my diets before (you know- the ones that didn’t work).  And on top of that – what about high cholesterol? My husband was being treated for extremely high cholesterol (400+ TC) for years.  Isn’t this just a recipe for a heart attack? Without going into all of the research I did on that- and believe me, I did tons (because of the assumed risk I thought it may be to my husband)… I will just give you the results.  My husbands Total Cholesterol was over 400 May of 2011- while ON his cholesterol lowering medication.  His Total Cholesterol after  5 months of Paleo- eating tons of fat was 187 without the meds too!  Yes, you read that right.  He dropped his cholesterol by over half and was instantly taken off of all of his medications.
*Disclamer: We are not talking about deep fried fats, people.  Good healthy saturated animal and plant fats.  Cooking steaks in butter? Oh yes we did, and still do.  You should too- it’s really tasty. 🙂  You are now scrolling back up for those links aren’t ya?  It’s okay, I will wait.

They gotta replace the fat with something... and it ain't pretty.

They gotta replace the fat with something… and it ain’t pretty.

So, I had to completely unlearn calorie counting and food-guilt. Weight loss is NOT just a simple equation of Calories In Versus Calories Out- it’s just not that simple AT ALL. I also had to completely forget everything I had been doing forever in relation to fat intake. Fat is your friend.  I could wax on forever about why- but go back and watch those two videos.  Check out Dr. Eenfeldt’s YouTube channel for even more information and detail.  Gary Taubes has another book aptly named Why We Get Fat And What We Can Do About It.  It’s like the Cliff’s Notes for the Good Calories, Bad Calories book.

So this covers (the highlights anyway)- my re-education about Food.  I will say that your diet is 90% of your weight loss capability.  You can’t undo bad food choices with crazy insane workouts (I have a decade to fatness to prove that under my belt). You have to feed yourself well- then work out in a way that will put that food to good use… then the changes will come- and quick!

To bring the timeline from my last post up to date…  I started at 218… lost 20 just low-carbing by January 2012. I went full throttle on Paleo in January- and by March I had lost another 25.  I was weighing in around 180 pounds or so in March 2012… and looking for a plan of attack for my exercise, to keep the ball rolling.

~Next post: Unlearning and Re-Educating myself about fitness…

How I got fat to begin with…

I am struggling with how to start this blog- so, I figured that I would begin at the very beginning- before I got into fitness and feeding myself better. Back when I was a version of myself I didn’t like to look at, and frankly- I didn’t recognize. I was fat.
As a teen and collegiate, I rarely struggled with my weight and was “normal” on any doctors chart. I ate horribly, but was very active, and young. If I didn’t like the scale- I would jog for a week and was back to a happy place. I played basketball, and ran cross country and track (varsity in high school and on my sorority intramural basketball team in college).
Fast forward to 4 years of marriage and a newborn and I was 35 pounds heavier than ever at 24. I instantly joined the Y and participated in aerobics classes 5-6 times a week for my full year of membership. I essentially maintained my weight. (Notice no mention of dietary changes… Because there were none). I did not continue my membership- because I didn’t see the point. I had *maybe* lost 5 pounds over the year. Big whoop.

Over the next 5 years I dabbled in every diet and exercise plan known. I ran C25K, I did the Insanity and P90x. I did Atkins, cleanses, and juicing. I beat myself (physically and mentally) into a sweaty pulp. I never realized any real weight loss, no more than 10 or so pounds- which were always gained back with some extra poundage for good measure.
Then my husband and I decided to have another baby. After that pregnancy, I was just shy of 200 pounds (!). (I am 5’9, non-curvy… So I was easily 50 pounds overweight). Determined, I joined another gym- and again began my regimen of 1-2 hour aerobic classes, 5 days a week. This time I stopped after 6 months of little to no change on the scale.
For the following 4 years I dabbled in all the diets and exercises I had tried before. Feeling like a big, fat, huge failure after every attempt. And when I say failure – I mean it. I would look at myself and say things I would never EVER let anyone else say to me. It was bad. Lets just leave it at that- because if you’ve read this far- you’ve likely done it too, and know just how nasty we women can be to ourselves.
After that- I gave up. I bought the “big girls” sizes, went through the “dress” phase of essentially hiding myself in skirts. I just figured I would be a big girl forever. “Just accept it and move on” I would tell myself- on the good days, that is.
So, that brings us to November 2011. When I began my journey that has led me to where I am now. My weight at that point? 218.

Next post: how I got started on the journey that I am currently on- and what did work. 🙂