Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Don't Cheat!

If you want to know my number one secret for sticking to a figure transformation plan it's simply this.

Don't Cheat.

"So how the heck am I supposed to do that" you  ask?  Here's how.

First, in order to avoid cheating, you have to know when you're cheating, which means you have to have a plan to begin with.  What plan?  I don't care, you have to decide, but here are a few hints for how to choose.

Your plan has to have food you enjoy and that satisfies you, and you have to find a fitness plan that you actually want to do that doesn't injure you.

Why are these plans  so infernally hard to find?  Simple, people want rapid results, and rapid results tend to come from plans that ask you to diet hard and work out hard at the same time.  There are people who have the abdominal fortitude to do this, really.  They're already ripped.

Are you already ripped?  Me neither, but I believe I could be.  (The belief thing is really crucial,  but that's a subject for another post.)

So we need to take a different approach.  We need to clean up our menus and turn up our exercise without going crazy or getting hurt, and then we have to commit.

The Tools of Commitment

Here they are:

1. A Food Diary
2. A Calendar

Use the food diary in the morning, or the night before, and plan what you're going to eat before you eat it.  Be honest with yourself.  How much of a calorie deficit can you accept?  Has a diet worked for you before, and are you able to follow it without sneaking in a little here, a little there, until you're just eating the way you normally do?  As I wrote above, I don't care what plan you follow- but have a plan!  Pick something, choose.

An interesting note on diets:  The one's that work for me have abundance built in.  For example, low carb diets often allow an abundance of protein or (gasp) fat.  Weight Watchers has no point fruits and vegetables.  A good plan for me allows for fullness and satisfaction.  Find a plan that fill and satisfies you- they do exist!  That being said, when I'm losing fat, or as I like to say using fat, I am not walking around full all the time.  Far from it, sometimes I actually feel hunger, but I know when my next meal will be, and I know how to soothe myself without food until mealtime comes around again.  (Ah, a subject for another post.)

If you don't have a solid plan you're just wandering around in limbo.  You cannot negotiate with the hungry part of you if you haven't chosen a strategy before hunger strikes.  Then when you do stick to the plan... Victory. Rejoicing.  Celebration.  If you don't stick to the plan?  You get vital information to help you plan the very next day.

( Hint:  When I cheat it's usually because of stress or because I haven't eaten enough vegetables to help me reach satiety.  Green,  leafy vegetables with homemade olive oil dressing, or sautéed with a bit of kerrygold butter and topped with salsa are my secret weapons.  These are my power foods- you need to find your for permanent success.)

2. The Fitness Calendar

This is the easy part.  Get your calendar out and schedule your fitness sessions for the next month, or more if you want.  Don't miss them.  Feel free to start small.  I mean really small, as in 10 minute walks and 11 minute bodyweight exercise routines. Exercise you enjoy keeps you sane, smart, and happy.  I just finished reading "Spark" by Dr. John J. Ratey, and the entire book is chapter after chapter on how amazing exercise is for every aspect of a happy life.

Fitness you want to practice is the foundation of permanent transformation, and commitment is the structure you build on.   Pick a plan that you can follow faithfully based on your own experience and wisdom.  If you know you hate treadmills and can't live without chocolate don't pick a plan that makes you use one and completely give up the other!

On the other hand, don't pick a plan that says you can eat anything you want in moderation, or after midnight, or every other Sunday, if you know in your heart of hearts that that food makes you sick or insane.

Know yourself.  Find a plan you can believe in.  Don't cheat.

You can do this.  Living life at this level of maturity, self acceptance, and faithfulness brings a peaceful energy that is astonishingly powerful.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thank You Kate Upton

Maybe the ideal woman is female after all!

What a relief.  After reading that Male model Andrej Pejic is the new "It Girl" in fashion, the pendulum swings right back with voluptuous, leggy, Kate Upton on the cover of SI.

I couldn't help but smile when I read that Victoria's Secret casting director Sophia Neophitou  called Upton "Too Blonde", "Obvious" and said that she would never be a Victoria's Secret model.  Of course we all know that VS models have a look that's all about subtlety and inner beauty but I digress...

The point that Ms. Neophitou has helped me illustrate is that the arbiters of fashion in the media are becoming more and more disconnected from what humans find attractive.  If Kate Upton realy is too fat and too obvious, maybe we can all finally exhale and have a good laugh at  the images we're being urged to consume.

So what does this have to do with your transformation journey Dear Reader?  Well, let's take a look at why it seems so much easier for men to reach their fat loss goals than women.  Here's a thought... In my experience men are quite content to stop dieting when they get to a healthy normal weight.  Women on the other hand, myself very much included, diet down to a healthy weight as measured by body mass index or body fat percentage,and they still don't look like anyone the media thinks is acceptable.

We get to a reasonable goal and the fashion and video media turn our glorious summer of success back into the winter of our discontent.  Why?  I have a theory.  Discontented women buy a whole lot more stuff than secure, confident, contented women do.  It is the very fear of our own physical inadequacy that drives us to acquire more fashion, cosmetics, botox, surgery, you name it, in order to feel worthy of the space we inhabit.  It seems that if you're a female in the developed world normal and healthy will never ever do!

So what can we do to get beyond the silliness?

First of all, most of the women I know are more secure and accepting of themselves than I am, but I do think that the solution is to simply behave as if the media's opinion doesn't matter.  The way to do that is to simply make choices based on what we genuinely enjoy.  Honestly I think that a lot of women my age are blowing off beauty and fashion because it has become profoundly irrelevant for them.  Who cares what Karl Lagerfeld is designing if no adult woman can fit into it anyway?  Speaking of Karl isn't is funny that he dissed Adele right after she appeared on the cover of Cosmo?  She's the epitome of hot right now and he calls her a little too fat with a beautiful face?  So laughable, especially when you consider that Adele can actually afford to wear Chanel!

Ok, back to us.  First, I think we need to take fashion back.  When is the last time you really put some creativity into what you wore?  We still go out : to eat, to the movies, the theatre, to religious services, shopping, the beach, the gym, you name it.  Are we using the opportunities we have to express ourselves through fashion?  Sixty years ago, middle class women were still going to the "Dressmaker".  Even if they weren't having clothes made they were having them fitted and altered to flatter them personally.  Have we blown off the chance to make fashion work for us because were just too busy?  I think of the women I know of all sizes and ages, and I think of how beautiful they are, and how delighted I am when I run into a friend who has decided to dress well, whatever that means to her.  

Is it time for real women to take fashion back?

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Ideal Woman Is A Man.

I owe Andrej Pejic a debt of gratitude.

Ever since I became aware of the fact that my personal level of physical beauty was going to have an impact on my life, this happened sometime around third grade, I've been looking around the world trying to figure out what the physical ideal was.

I thought, "Ok, being pretty is going to make my life a whole lot more satisfying, so I'd better figure out just what pretty is."  Around that time my concept of ideal feminine beauty came closest to Walt Disney's Snow White.  There was an enchanting youth, roundness, and girlishness to her beauty that seemed attainable.  As a little girl I imagined that I might grow up to look a bit like that one day.  As I continued to grow up though, the aesthetic changed.

 I think the first time I ever felt really hopeless in terms of my chances of measuring up to the current ideal was when the poster of Cheryl Tiegs in her pink bikini came out in 1978.  I was fourteen years old, and my figure was an unfortunate blend of shapelessness and chubbiness.  It was awful.  She was so long, lean, and perfectly in proportion.  I could never ever measure up, even if I did manage to control what I ate until all my ribs were showing, I could never look like that.

About a year later my body started to change, and by the time I was eighteen I realized that I wasn't so bad to look at after all, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would never be at "10" like Bo Derek.  Nevertheless, I was aware that the thinner I could get my body, the closer I could get to the ideal.  All my life I've been dieting as hard as I could manage to get as thin as I could be.  Over the past two years, as I've maintained a healthy weight, I've started to question why I wanted to be ever thinner.  I've done a bit of research for this blog that indicates that the ideal of feminine beauty that is driven by biology is actually pretty close to what I've managed to achieve, but there's one little problem.

The Man in Blue
The ideal of feminine beauty that is desired in the media, and especially in high fashion, is another thing all together.  Last November, when Jean Paul Gaultier needed a model to wear the wedding gown that was the ultimate expression of his fashion artistry, he didn't choose the latest top model to to walk it down the runway.  He chose Andrej Pejic.

He chose a man.  Finally, a designer has come right out and done it.   By putting his wedding gown on Andrej Pejic, Jean Paul Gaultier has had the courage to declare that:

The Ideal Woman Is A Man.

Now I can finally take that deep breath and relax.  I can stop this nonsense of desperately trying to get leaner, and leaner, and leaner.  No matter how little I eat or how much I run, I can never ever transform myself into a man.  From now on I'll have to learn to answer to my own opinion about what is beautiful, and eat, move, and enjoy life accordingly.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fat Loss Acceleration

If you've been reading this blog for long, you probably know my formula for permanent figure transformation:

E+M , or:  Eating plus Movement over Time.  As you can see, that formula covers just about any

food plan and exercise routine  you can dream up.  So the point of my formula is less about content as it is about behavior.  I have met women who eat and exercise in vastly different ways succeed at permanent fat loss, and my goal is to discover, write about, and share what has worked for them, and for me as well.

In Search of a Lifestyle

For me, fitness isn't just a lifestyle, it's a love affair.  I love to dance, lift, walk, bike, ride my kid's scooter (you have to kick to get uphill), and I especially love to teach Zumba.  Fitness is no longer a means to the desired end of fat loss.  It's a pleasure in and of itself.  This is perfect for maintenance when you have built the figure you really want.  So what do you need to do when you still want to change your body for the better?

A Period of Acceleration

Lifestyle behaviors are perfect for maintenance, but change requires something more, something that I like to call Acceleration.  You take your positive habits like, eating nutritious food, getting plenty of exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and reducing stress, and you enhance them.  Turn up the volume and intensity.  Eliminate foods and behaviors that are getting in your way.  Do your body a favor by asking for new and better skills when you exercise.  First, you need a reason to put your foot on the gas.  Where do you want to go?  I want to look and feel great when I go to L.A. to train with Beto.  What's coming up for you?  Is there an event on the horizon that can inspire you?  If so, that's great because you can use that as an acceleration period.  This is not yo-yo, on again off again behavior.  It's a matter of renewed commitment and intensity.  So, you're driving towards a goal, and that requires a map, or in this case a written plan.

Today, I'll write about establishing a plan for movement.  It's such a simple technique, but it bears repeating:  Get out your calendar and schedule your fitness sessions.  My intention for the next 5.9 weeks is to add three bodyweight resistance routines to my schedule.  Right now, I'm experimenting with the theory that 11 minutes three times a week will make a visible difference.  To borrow a phrase from Tim Ferriss of "The Four Hour Body", I'm looking for the minimum effective dose.

Here's the routine:
10 Push Ups
10 Squats
10 Cross Crawls
10 Stability Ball Leg Curls
10 Dumb Bell Flies
Rest ten seconds and repeat for 11 minutes.

Of course, I'll still be teaching my classes, so I should be getting a decent dose of movement.  I'll change this routine in three weeks to add some muscle confusion as well.  At the same time, I'll be fervently committed to my eating goals as well.

We are all looking for the lifestyle habits that will keep us looking and feeling great.  What I'm after right now is a plan to create the kinds of changes that will create the authentic figure I'm after.  Then let the lifestyle begin.