Saturday, February 23, 2013

Free Movie Popcorn

Last week I had a breakthrough.  For more than a year, ever since I started my  fitness career, I've been trying without success to get off of a fat release plateau.  I need to be honest here and give the number.  That number was 128.  I could get below 129/130 but no farther.

 Why was that?  I'm convinced that I was experiencing the phenomena of compensation.  Many of us are familiar with the theory that metabolism will slow down, and appetite will increase if we eat too little.  You may have heard that called the starvation response.  Compensation can be  the result of a significant increase in exercise.  The thought is that when we increase our physical output by several hours a week the metabolism will slow down and appetite will increase to compensate.  What I'm describing is essentially a response to the stress of a heavy load of exercise.  In my case, if I add together class time, personal training, my own training, plus the time I spend learning new Zumba dances, and choreographing new Jazz routines, that could easily add up to 24 hours a week.  You would think that such a high level of training would burn whatever I wanted to eat, but the theory of compensation suggests that my appetite will rise to the level of that extra work and beyond, especially if calorie dense food is readily available.

Believe me, calorie dense food is always available.  That brings me to the subject of this post.

Free Movie Popcorn.

Did you know that I have an AARP card?  Yep, even though I'm only 48, my husband got to join when he turned 50, and as his spouse I get a card too.  That means I'm entitled to the Senior Snack Deal when I go to the movie theatre.  That means I essentially get my popcorn for free... if I want it that is.  Usually I don't want popcorn.

Here is one of the most important secrets to the success of my permanent physical transformation:

I have un-linked eating from many of the pleasures of life.  For example I don't enjoy going to amusement parks for the Funnel Cakes, I don't get excited about Cinnabon at the mall, I couldn't care less about hot dogs on the Fourth of July, and I prefer not to get candy on Valentine's Day.  Would it shock you to know that over the last holiday season, I didn't have a single Christmas cookie?  Not one.  No, I'm not looking for applause or approval here.  The fact is that, for me,  the consequences of consuming junk food are simply not worth it.

But sometimes, if my guard is down, I can give myself an excuse for eating foods that don't serve my dreams.  Yesterday afternoon I went to the movies with my son.  I arrived with the intention of seeing the movie snack free as usual, but when I ordered Colin's popcorn and drink, the nice young man at the counter offered a larger size for just a dollar more.  I looked a Colin and said,

"If we get the larger size can I share your popcorn?"

"Sure."  He said.

So I ate free movie popcorn until I was full.  By the time I was full there was less than an inch left in the bag.

Last night by the time I got into bed my stomach was literally sticking out like a basketball.  This morning I didn't recognize my eyes in the mirror they were so puffy and swollen.

Free?  That popcorn wasn't free.  Today, I'm right back up over my plateau point again.  I will spare you all the rationalizations I used when I ordered that popcorn.  I will tell you though, about an article coming out in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine:

I read it before bed last night, and I broadened my understanding of why I took that popcorn, and why it wasn't free.

In order to reach my fat release goal, I have to get unhooked from junk food.  Most of the time I can do it.  I sincerely hope that, armed with good information, you can too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Steady Progress in Fat Release

Making steady progress these days. As of yesterday, I finally broke through the plateau I've been bumping up against ever since I started my training business. I had to figure out a balance for how much I was training, eating, and recovering.

What I've learned is that it doesn't matter how much you cut your calories or increase your work output. The human body is wired for survival, and if you push it too hard and get too impatient for results it will push back!

Ever since "The Greatest Loser" came on the air we've been subject to a great fallacy in the world of physical transformation and fat/weight loss. That fallacy is this: That linear weight loss all the way to goal is possible through constant calorie restriction and exercise at the very upper limit of the trainee's ability. The only reason this works for the contestants is that they are forced to comply through the outrageous pressure of worldwide on-camera scrutiny. The consequences of failure are so dire for them, that they can overcome even the strongest of the body's urges of self-preservation.

The rest of us live in the real world where cravings can be satisfied at any hour of the day. Real world human beings like us need a different strategy.

What is that strategy? Here it is for me and my students.

Ask the body to change, but ask nicely.

Increase physical effort, and adjust nutrition rationally by increasing activities that burn fat, and reducing foods that store fat.

The technique really is that simple, but the execution of that technique takes a high amount of skill, patience, and maturity in the real world. In addition, optimal physical training combines work with play and enjoyment, and optimal eating combines nutrition with enjoyment as well. We are not locked in some metabolic ward being forced to comply with the program, so we have to tame our subconscious desires with finesse.

Here is the strategy that has worked for me.

#1. Eliminate trigger foods whenever possible to the best of my ability.
#2. Eat wholesome nutritionally dense foods at 3 meals a day, with breakfast as the largest and most important meal.
#3. During the work week, all my meals are consumed before my evening classes allowing for significant fat burning overnight

The result? Outstanding amounts of energy and fat loss of 1/2 pound a week. Once weight and body fat are within a healthy range, I think that it takes a rational patient approach to bring the body into "Ideal" territory. You can certainly lose weight with the eat less and less move more and more strategy, but it won't give you a great body- just a lighter one.

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Unstuffed" Nine Days To Go

So there are only nine days left in my quest to un-stuff my body and my environment.  How's it going? Well, many bags of clothing have left the house.  Ok, they're in the garage now, but I have a plan!

My husband will be taking them to the Salvation Army's donation station here in town.  One of the keys to permanent transformation is to have a team of allies who can help you achieve your goals.

My biggest concern on the de-cluttering front is how to properly dispose of my two old non-functioning iMacs.  What is the the best way to donate of dispose of them while making sure that old data can't be extracted or stolen?  Can old passwords or credit card numbers be pulled off of the hard drives?  I need to find out this information before donation.

As a matter of fact, I'm going to Google "Safe Mac Donation" as soon as I finish this post.

One of the biggest obstacles I have faced in clearing clutter is the fear that I will need the donated items later.  Until two years ago, my husband and I were actively involved in producing musicals and variety shows.  As a result, we have costumes, shoes, and accessories overflowing our spare closets.  We also have a tower of bins stacked in the garage.  How should I edit them?  Here is the method I'm going to use.  If the item is currently available and it's worth less than five dollars, it goes.  That should produce quite a pile of goods-to-go.

Now to address un-stuffing the figure.

I know that it is popular to focus on changing lifestyle to change weight, but sometimes a clear short term eating plan can be very useful.  For example, fruit, cheese, and nuts are regular foods in my healthy eating lifestyle.  They are yummy and nutritious, but they are either calorie dense, in the case of nuts and cheese, or they have a tendency to spark cravings for sweets, in the case of fruits.  (For me at least.)   Also, I enjoy using raw cream and pastured butter, but I can go overboard on serving size if I'm not careful.

Fortunately, my abs are starting to show, and I've lost 3 pounds since the beginning of the unstuffed challenge.  In order to get the best possible results by the end of the 30 days, I will measure all of the fats and protein foods that I eat, and I will leave nuts, fruits, and cheese out of my eating plan for the next nine days.  The great news is that after a day or two without these foods, I simply don't miss them. Then, when I re-introduce them they will taste like wonderful treats.

 What about Valentine's Day you may ask?  Hey, there are other ways to celebrate romance than by eating chocolate!  Even so, I'm going to order a stevia sweetened dark chocolate bar to enjoy on Thursday before I teach Zumba.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What I Really Ate To Get Lean

Low Carb High Fat Results
Yesterday, I was listening to CNN on satellite radio, and Erin Burnett was talking about Governor Chris Christie and his weight.  It is apparent that despite his popularity and effectiveness as a Governor, many people would hesitate to vote for him if he ran for President because of health risks associated with his weight.

What if your weight was preventing you from fulfilling your most vital and cherished goals?  Certainly my desire to be a successful fitness coach pales before the ambition to lead a nation, but why is it that so many people in this country and around the world are stymied in their efforts to be healthy and highly productive because of the fat they have stored on their bodies?

I am quite certain that Governor Christie has heard the advice, "Eat less, move more" plenty of times.  As a matter of fact, that particular piece of advice has been very lucrative for personal trainers, group exercise leaders, and gym owners everywhere, but why is that advice not working for so many smart, motivated individuals?

Every day I work with people who want to release fat for good, but I hesitate to share how I did it with them.  Why?  As a Certified Personal Trainer I can't give nutritional advice because it is beyond my scope of practice.  What I am free to do is direct my clients to the USDA nutritional guidelines and tools like "My Plate".

Enough is enough.  No, I don't give nutritional advice, but this is my blog and my story so It's time to come clean.

Ever since I started my fat release journey, I have only been able to lose weight when I eliminated sugar and flour from my eating plan.  What's more, the results you see above were achieved with a Low-Carb, High Fat eating strategy.  Just today, I was reading about the results of the A to Z Diet Study on the website of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and that study confirmed what I  experienced.

Results  Weight loss was greater for women in the Atkins diet group compared with the other diet groups at 12 months, and mean 12-month weight loss was significantly different between the Atkins and Zone diets (P<.05). Mean 12-month weight loss was as follows: Atkins, −4.7 kg (95% confidence interval [CI], −6.3 to −3.1 kg), Zone, −1.6 kg (95% CI, −2.8 to −0.4 kg), LEARN, −2.6 kg (−3.8 to −1.3 kg), and Ornish, −2.2 kg (−3.6 to −0.8 kg). Weight loss was not statistically different among the Zone, LEARN, and Ornish groups. At 12 months, secondary outcomes for the Atkins group were comparable with or more favorable than the other diet groups.
The above is an excerpt from JAMA's website.

Conventional low fat diets make me feel like I'm starving.  When I follow them, I literally spend the day obsessing over my next meal.  Now, when I enjoy my High Fat lifestyle I enjoy pastured eggs, organic ghee, grass fed meats, organic vegetables, and raw cheeses.  I am full, satisfied, energetic, and happy with my productivity.

Lately, when my students ask about what they should eat I've been telling them that I don't give dietary advice.  Instead, I have been suggesting that they read two books:  "Wheat Belly" by Doctor William Davis, and "Fat Chance" by Doctor Robert Lustig.  Why should I ask them to listen to me on nutrition when they can read books by MDs who have been on the front lines of helping men, women, and children with heart disease, obesity, and metabolic disorders for years?

I have one more little secret to divulge.  Ever since January 3rd I've been attending Weight Watchers meetings to help with my accountability.  It's been working beautifully and the "fat creep" I'd been experiencing for the past year has been reversed.

I just don't tell them what I eat.