Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two Weeks Of Using Fat

Way back when I started this blog I put forth the notion of "Using Fat" instead of losing weight.  Since body transformation starts with changing your mind about what's possible, we have to get the mind on board with our plans for change.  Now nobody wants to lose at anything, but there's certainly nothing wrong with the idea of using weight to fuel transformation.  The big challenge of course, at least for me, is finding a way to eat fewer calories than I "use" without freaking out and eating a whole bunch of calorie dense foods to restore my equilibrium.

 Enter the power of entering contests.  

Over the past three years, I have entered several transformation contests, and with each one, I have moved ever closer to the ideal that I've held in my mind for a long, long, time.  In between, I tend to eat up to, or a little bit over maintenance, whether or not that was my declared intention.  Because of this, the process has taken time, but maybe it's for the best.  At least my skin had always had a chance to keep up with the changes, and I think that's key for anyone who wants to lose (oops, use!)  a significant amount of fat over the age of forty.  Once I got to 120 pounds, which at 5'1" puts me at a healthy BMI of 22.7, my goal became less about health, and more about the intense desire to reach an ideal.  What does it take, and do I have it in me?  The contests I enter tend to focus my attention, intention, and desire.  They also provide a crucial ingredient for procrastinators like me- A Deadline!  Fortunately, my ability to change over time has pretty much disqualified me from transformation contests.  Believe me, I don't want to change back to being overfat in order to keep transforming.  So now I'm headed into my first open competition ever.  Hey, now that I think about it, it's fantastic to be in this place, but it's going to take two weeks of the most dedicated eating I've ever done in order to do justice to the shape I've built in the gym.

Sharing The Journey

I'm so grateful to have a place to share these plans and musings, because it is so easy to give up the promises I only make to myself.  One of the things I perceive as a fault is my almost overwhelming need for approval, so by making my intentions public I add the energy of that fault to my efforts.  So now what?  What am  specifically going to do to make sure that my pictures look great on April 12th?  Well, for one thing, I'm going to post my menu and my workouts here.  Speaking of which, I've got to get to the gym and back by 9:00AM, so I'd better get moving!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Goal Setting and the Spring Equinox

Is this really the first day of Spring?

I look out of my window and I see snow falling hard and fast.  Here in the California foothills we're right on the snow line this morning, but in spite of the weather it's time to sow the seeds of positive change for the coming year.  Since I am convinced that Belief and Desire are essential components of transformation, it's incredibly helpful to find tools that confirm belief in one's ability to change, and enhance the desire to do just that.  Two years ago, I listened to a podcast featuring astrologer Barbara Hand Clow, and she gave detailed advice for writing down three intentions for the coming year.   What follows is much simpler than what she discussed, but this is what I did last year, and it certainly did work, so I thought I'd share it.  By the way, my goals last year were directed toward a completely different area of my life, directing and producing theatre, and lo and behold, I got just what I intended.  This year, my goals are much more in line with what I've been writing about here.

Three Intentions for the Coming Year

Consider carefully and write down three things you would like to create or accomplish this year.  At the time of the equinox, which happens at 4:21 PM PST here in California, sit quietly and meditate on these three intentions.  See them as realities in your mind's eye, and experience how it feels to be the person who has created, accomplished, or learned these things.  When you are satisfied that you have established what you want in your heart and mind, simply put your written intentions in a safe place where you can find them at this time next year.  In order to find the exact time of the Spring Equinox in your area, here is the website I checked:
 Please note that this is UTC.  You can search the site for the correct time in your time zone.

Using your Mind to Transform your Body

So today I risk appearing a little bit odd or unusual in my quest to build a better body.  That's ok.  Before I ever take a bite of food, or stretch out my hand to pick up a dumb bell, I have to think and choose.  What will I eat?  Will I exercise?  For how long and with how much effort?  Progress and change start with the mind, and so I will use tools that direct my mind toward what I truly want to create.  I am becoming more and more convinced that our bodies change based on the signals and instructions they get from our thoughts and actions.  Let's be as clear as possible in what we think and do so that we can build the kind of physique that serves our finest goals.  Build the body of your dreams, and then go out and do something wonderful this year!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Learn from the Past, Plan for the Future, Change in the Moment

What does it really take to get all the way to your most cherished fitness goal?  When you've already reached the the gratifying range of a healthy BMI, no one raises an eyebrow when you step on the scale at the doctor's office, and your kid never says, "Are you sure you want to eat that Mom?"  As I go deep into studying for the ACE certification exam I've been introduced to the terms extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and I realize that the closer I get to my ultimate body shaping goals, the more I will have to rely on motivation that comes from deep inside me.

Living Outside the Norm

Today, when it comes to body image, the concepts of healthy, average, and normal are can get pretty slippery.  Even in the media today you can see a difference between the look of actors, runway models, fitness celebrities, and athletes.  If you look around at the people in your life and your community you may agree with me that the concept of a normal weight, a weight that doesn't cause comment or invite attention, is getting pretty broad.  Extrinsic motivation can easily result from carrying a weight that is beyond the norm, and even though normal can be determined by many different factors like your social circle or your job, the extrinsic cues and signals that it's time to lose fat come from your environment.  I remember very clearly what it was like to be chubby in my tween years because children that age are hardly interested in being tactful.  If you make the mistake of carrying a weight that is outside the norm, most twelve year olds are more than happy to let you know about it, solely for your own good of course.
Right now, at 5'1" and 120 pounds I'm sitting here right smack in the middle of my comfort zone, and solidly within the medical and societal norm.  But I want more.

Was I Seeking Good, or Just Seeking Attention?

Musical Theatre fans may recognize Elphaba's line from "Wicked" above, but even if you don't you will probably guess how it applies here.  As I eat, move, and think my way toward my current goal, which happens to be 116 pounds and 19% bodyfat by April 12th, I know that I will be approaching the other side of normal.  What do I think is on the other side of normal?  Quite honestly I'm hoping that it is a body that qualifies as beautiful, even exceptional.  My fascination with exceptional fitness, for me and for my future clients,  is definitely wrapped up in these two questions: What do we want it for, and how do we get it?  That brings me right back around to the question at the beginning of this post, and the statement in the title.

Managing the Moment 

As I live toward my goals, I am discovering the absolutely crucial need to develop techniques for managing the moment.  What moment is this?  It is the moment in which you choose between your highest hopes and your immediate urges.  And now for a specific idea for managing the moment.  Of course, since this is a blog about fat loss and transformation, the urges I'm writing about are the urges we feel to eat in a way that doesn't serve our goals.

 Know what you should be eating.

 How can you know if you're breaking your promises to yourself if you haven't made any specific commitments?  So for an exceptional body, take the time to plan what you will eat for the day before you eat it.  Most of us are familiar with the benefits of recording what we eat after we eat it, but by planning your meals beforehand you will absolutely know if you are remaining true to yourself in the very moments when the urges hit.  This affords you with a clear choice.  Give yourself every chance to choose well, and develop the habit of choosing for your most cherished goals.

Choice and Change

Know what you want, and learn what you have to do step by step to get it.  The step by step process is technique,  and if you are reading this on line you have access to practically every fat loss technique ever discovered.  Once you have found a technique or plan that you believe in, begin to develop your own tools for choosing well in the moment.  Choose well often enough, and you will change in beautiful and exceptional ways.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Intoxicating Foods

I have written that my formula for physical transformation is:  Eating plus Movement over Time, and the formula continues to work for me as the days become weeks, months, and years since this journey started.  My progress has not been strictly linear though, far from it!  If I had been able to stick to optimal nutrition and activity levels for the past two years, I would have been at 108 pounds some time ago.  Hey, how about a calculation?  Lets take the pounds I wanted to lose when I came back to blogging in September- (15).  Multiply by the number of calories in a pound- (3500).  Then divide by the typical daily calorie deficit for fat loss- (500).  15 X 3500 = 52,500 (Sheesh, no wonder you don't see this calculated very often, that number of calories is daunting!)  Divided by 500= 105.   Wow.  Oh my gosh.  105 days?  Just 105 days to get the body I always wanted?  What's stopping me?  What's stopping you?  Oh- it's not that simple you say.  But why isn't it?

There are so many reasons why it's not that simple to knock off 500 calories a day in a straight shot, and it's a life mission for me to discover and find a way around, over, or through as many obstacles to perfect physical well being as I can.

The obstacle I want to confront today is:  Intoxicating Food

What is intoxicating food, and how does it interfere with our goals?  Let's define intoxicate shall we?  according to my dashboard dictionary we have-
Intoxicate: Cause someone to lose control of their faculties or behavior.  (No kidding!)
                : Poison (Eeek!)
                : (Figurative) Excite or Exhilarate.

I've talked before about foods that are satisfying and foods that are stimulating.  For me, an example of a satisfying food is spinach, and an example of a stimulating food would be whole grain bread, or natural peanut butter.  I can eat satisfying foods freely without fear of tipping over into overeating.  Stimulating foods are the ones I need to eat carefully as part of a balanced meal in measured quantities.  On this fat loss journey, I've gone through periods where my menus are only made up of satisfying foods.  Sometimes I include stimulating foods, but honestly the barrier to getting all the way to my Super Goal has been the way I react to intoxicating foods.  A few examples?  Chocolate, fruit snacks, granola bars with peanut butter, christmas cookies, Rombauer Chardonnay (oops, that's wine), rice pilaf.  The list is somewhat random, and totally individual.

It is time to refine my thinking about intoxicating foods, and to decide how they will fit into my menu, if at all.  I have believed for some time now that in order to change our physiques we have to change our thinking first, and I think that my intoxicants have to go, at least until I reach my goal.  At that time some of them may be asked to come out and play a role in my eating again.  I'm not sad or disappointed though.  By taking out chocolate and fruit snacks I make room in my life for something even better, a sense of well being that starts the moment I finish a meal that supports my ultimate goals.

Not everyone gets intoxicated by food.  My son and my husband stop when they're full whether the menu contains pickles or pop tarts, but maybe some foods affect you in a similar way.  If you are on the road to building the body of your heart's desire, it may be time to consider what  foods are intoxicating for you, and what role they will play in your story.