It’s Easy for You… You’re Fit.

beforeafter

“It’s easy for you”… it wasn’t always.

I have ran into this comment a few times recently… some version of “it’s easier for you… you are fit… you like this stuff… you aren’t out of shape.”  I am not put off by it at all… but it always gives me pause.  Perception is a funny thing. Most of my “friends” on social media and followers of my blog are aware of my struggle with weight, and my eventual progress with losing it for good… However, it has come to my attention that I have made quite a few new friends that don’t know my story, and therefore- have quite a skewed perception on my level of health-nutty-ness (there are crazies out there that think I don’t like candy y’all!).  They just know that I am now a kettlebell fiending, obstacle course racing, lover of all foods whole and clean.  But it wasn’t always that way.  Just 3 years ago I was an obese (220lbs on a 5’9 frame), smoking, metabolically damaged, completely out-of-shape, unconditioned, uncomfortable, weak and unhappy woman.

I have previously outlined my history of how I got fat, what I did right with food, and exercise to eventually lose the weight.  And while I have adjusted my food to follow more of a Whole30 food plan, and I now have earned my RKC Instructor certification… The highlight reel still holds true:  good, whole, clean foods and lifting heavy things will get you big results.  Now- 3 years after that Drivers License picture up there… I have started a career as an Personal Trainer and I get to run Obstacle Course Races in all kinds of awesome places.  But the most important is that I am now happy in my own skin, I recognize myself in pictures again, I am no longer a smoker, and I am definitely NOT a weak woman.

3 years ago- to this very month I was searching too, looking all over for answers. And I can tell you with absolute certainty, the answer is YES. YES YOU CAN DO THIS. It comes down to consistent, daily, sustainable, and realistic changes. There will absolutely be hard days that leave you challenged to stay on your food plan, and there will be extraordinarily sore days after working hard for your goals… BUT YOU CAN DO IT. You don’t have to wait for a silly arbitrary resolution to get started… GO. NOW. Start today!  Even a small change like tossing your soda for a water will put you one step ahead for tomorrow.

I would be honored to be part of your journey as you transform your life. Whether you are a mom looking to drop weight and get strong; an athlete that is looking to improve his strength and conditioning; or a weekend warrior needing to train for the next obstacle racing season… I would be honored to work with you as your personal trainer. I work out of Maximum Body Training in Cartersville GA, and I am RKC certified. I offer kettlebell classes, small-group, and private training.  I want to be on your team.  Feel free to contact me anytime for more details: 770-773-5987 or check out my profile at Dragon Door.

Resolutions Suck.

Resolutions will put you in a van... DOWN BY THE RIVER.

Resolutions will put you in a van… DOWN BY THE RIVER.

I really hate the idea of resolutions or diets even.  I think women (especially) assign a lot of emotions to both of those words.  I know I did, hell I still do.  It may seem like I am splitting hairs when I call my diet a “lifestyle”, my exercise “training”, and my preference to be called “fit or strong”- instead of “skinny”.  The words Diet, Exercise, and even Skinny are totally loaded to me.  All of them sound negative- as if they are punishments for bad behavior and bad eating.  Hell, even “skinny” is a naughty word now… click on FB- it’s loaded with the “Skinny” Girls Vs. “Curvy” Girls graphics and quotes all over the place (I think that skinny and curvy can both find unhealthy extremes, by the way).

I remember a time not that long ago that I did believe that a diet was punishment for a gluttonous appetite, and exercise was the sentence for laziness and sloth.  I know now- that I was setting myself up for disaster with this type of perspective.  Who wants to eat food that they view as a punishment? Who wants to show up and really work out hard- when they only there to fulfill their probation terms for previous sins? No one.  You might last a few days- or hell, with enough determination- a couple of weeks.  But, I am convinced that those negative connotations can make or break your ability to succeed.

Once you are on a diet that works for you- then it does just become the way you do things.  You don’t feel like you are dieting.  The food you eat is just the way you eat now- because it makes you feel good, it relieves you of ailments, and fatigue… It’s just your lifestyle.  I now know that I will suffer from a “carb hangover” if I take in too many carbs… and so I avoid them like the plague.  Do I get cocky every now and then, and think my tolerance is higher than it really is? Sure!  Do I just give up, and keep eating tons of carb-laden food, and other junk that’s not good for me, and makes me feel terrible? No.  But it *is* what I used to do.  “Oh well, I guess I will get back on my diet Monday”.  I can now appreciate how awesome I feel when eating real foods.  So, when I get cocky and off-plan, I don’t want to wait to get back on track with my eating.  Now, I start right away.

It took me a little longer to come around on the exercise thing.  As I have blogged before, I tried straight cardio (again) at the begining of this journey… and found no real results from running alone.  Then I got turned on to Kettlebells and lifting heavy weights.  I now enjoy working with Kettlebells so much that I truly look forward to my workouts..  If you aren’t having fun or if your workouts are becoming boring and monotonous, then you need to change something.  It may be that you just need a challenge, or a friend to workout with to rejuvenate your training time.  But don’t just keep trudging away at it, and hating it.

The final issue that I have with resolutions- is the “all or nothing” tension that goes with them.  How many times have you said “Well, I have already screwed my entire day/week with that Donut, maybe I will try again tomorrow / next week”?  We have all done it.  And then the day becomes 2, or 3- and before you know it- your one of the “failed resolution” statistics.  WHO CARES that you totally screwed up on that last food choice??… Make a better choice the NEXT TIME you have the chance.  You don’t have to wait on some arbitrary date to make better choices.  You don’t have to wait till the calendar says “Monday” to pick up some weights, or go run.  You can do that TODAY- with your very next opportunity.  That’s right- it’s an OPPORTUNITY.

I guess it’s the strict parameters that we invent for our resolutions that set everything off on the wrong foot for me.  Resolutions mean diets and exercise that aren’t tasty or fun.  They mean little forgiveness for goof-ups along the way.  Instead, why not just make a *decision*? For instance- if you need to get your eating on track, then just decide that you want to change your eating habits at every opportunity.  The same for exercise- just make a decision to be more active today than you were yesterday.  For instance, you can try to replace your beverages with water at every opportunity. Or, you can try to park further away from the door at work to walk a little bit more today than you did yesterday.  I think that small changes are far more fair to your body and mind.  They are easier to incorporate into our routines, and stick with. And when we feel the rewards and benefits from small changes, it’s easier to be motivated to stick with it- and eventually add more goals.  Additionally, when we make BIG CHANGES we expect BIG, QUICK results… and our bodies just don’t work that way.  There is a reason that all the gimmicky ads for weight loss include the disclaimer that their *results are not typical*.  HaHa!

As I stated back on New Years Eve, I am thrilled and excited for 2013…  I hope that you are over your New Years Resolutions by now… and are looking forward to just making different decisions in 2013!

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…