Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Six Week Bodylift/Sugar Freedom Plan

How does a short, middle-aged mom lose 50 pounds, and keep it off for more than five years?  She learns to teach people how to do the same thing for themselves.

Gordon Studio, here in Sonora, CA has been open for almost 11 months now, and as more of our students become fat loss success stories in their own rights, I see some patterns emerging.  

First, they all embrace a new way of training.  Many of them are surprised  when they learn that our Turbulence Training classes are only 30 minutes long.  They can also be a bit shocked by the new exercises I ask them to master.  Stick ups?  Total Body Extensions?  Mountain Climbers?  The Bodysaw?  What are these exercises, and why do they have to sound so scary?

Speaking of scary, for those of us who tend toward overweight and obesity, (yes, I've been there myself,)  it's essential to make some long term dietary changes in order to achieve permanent fat loss.  You see, although I have heard tales of many individuals who have lost fat for good by practicing portion control and calorie balance, I have only personally seen it work in a fraction of the students I train.

Believe me, if I could have released fat for good by counting calories, I would have succeeded at fat loss back in 1972, when a doctor put me on my first calorie restricted diet.  The honest, if not particularly popular or politically correct,  truth is that I have only been able to lose fat and transform my body when I have eliminated sugar and grains from my eating plan.  Note that I didn't say sugar and white flour, I said sugar and grains.  That means that I personally can't handle whole wheat, oats, rice, corn, or any number of "plant seeds" without going into an out of control eating episode.  The honest truth is that even high sugar fruits like bananas and grapes send me around the eating bend, and off on a binge.  It's not that I eat a dozen bananas.  It's that one banana makes me want to eat french toast and ice cream.  In massive quantities.  Immediately.

I'll Leave the Nectar for these Lovelies.
So does this mean that I don't believe in energy balance or the second law of thermodynamics? No, I simply mean that a lower carb, higher healthy fat eating strategy helps me to feel satisfied on less food. In fact, I feel so satisfied that on the evenings when I teach my fitness classes, I rarely feel any need to eat again when I get home.  This wasn't the case last year when I was performing and teaching more cardio.  At that point I was ravenous in the evenings, and my weight crept back up almost into official overweight territory.  In January I cleaned up my eating strategy, cut back on the cardio, and slowly but surely released eleven pounds of fat.

Recently, I have become aware that it's time to let go of the desire to fit in and say what's popular if that goes against what I know to be true and effective.  What I know is this:  For some of us who have thrifty genes, poor insulin sensitivity, and an insatiable craving for more sweets and starches once we even start consuming them, the Sugar Freedom approach can get us to goal weight and keep us there.

For  the next six weeks I will be faithfully following the plan that I have designed for anyone who wants to learn the secrets of figure transformation in their own home.  I'm having the time of my life working with my students at Gordon Studio, but just a few weeks ago I read some surprising news:  According to the Aetna "What's your healthy?" study, when it comes to exercise, 44 percent of those surveyed said they are more motivated to exercise when they can do it alone.

The Six Week Bodylift is and exercise program that you can do at home, in the gym, or when traveling. For my clients here at Gordon Studio it can be used as a template for the third weekly training session that I believe is optimal for figure transformation.  Starting today, and for the next six weeks, I be giving the program everything I've got in order to fill it with the very best exercises and strategies for permanent figure transformation.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the results of my transformation, now it's time to teach as many people as I can to do the same.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Vacation Diet

Just yesterday I was asked this question,

"How do you stay off sugar?"

The answer is deceptively simple.  "You eat something else."  Eat something else?  But what?  What indeed.

Today after Zumba Gold Van, Colin, and I are off to Universal Studios in Southern California to enjoy three days and nights of thrill rides, entertainment, and yes, food.  For Van and Colin, my husband and son respectively, who have never had a weight problem- other than being too skinny, there are hardly any limits to what foods they can enjoy on vacation.

For example, Colin is excited about eating at the sushi restaurant at City Walk, and then crossing the pedestrian street to shop at "It's Sugar," an entire store dedicated to candy.

Will I restrict his choices because of my issues with sugar?  Not too much, because his natural appetite is balanced.  Colin has the gift of being able to follow the inclinations of his appetite without overeating.  Would I like him to eat even more vegetables and fruit?  Yes, I would, but he does eat and enjoy them, so I'm content most of the time.

So what will I be doing on this vacation when I will be surrounded by "fun food" temptation?

 I will go in with a plan.  

Enjoy the Ride:  Not the Sugar Roller-Coaster
For the past several years, as I have spent more time living free from the call of sugar, and the foods that turn to sugar shortly after eating them, like grains and starches, I have found that when I stick to my eating strategy, travel is delightful.

You might think that I feel deprived when everyone else is eating ice cream and funnel cakes at the amusement park, and I bring in an apple and almonds, but the opposite is true.  My energy and sense of well-being are boosted by eating satisfying foods, and so my enjoyment of the vacation experience is boosted too.

Another key to enjoying food on vacation is the fact that I do expand my menu to include foods that I don't eat every day.  For example, I usually have to be careful about the amount and variety of fruit that I eat.  Bananas and grapes at home are common triggers for my bouts of overeating, (yes, I still have these episodes from time to time) but I like to bring apples with me when I travel, because they hold up well, and they don't seem to stimulate my appetite the way sweeter fruits do.

I also include more cheese and nuts to add variety, and once again, raw almonds are wonderfully easy to carry on me so that I have something to eat when I'm surrounded by burgers, fries, or desserts masquerading as breakfast.  By the way, one positive note is that many fine restaurants are offering unique cheeses for dessert these days, so if dairy isn't an issue for you, you still get a treat after the main meal.

Another piece of good news is that whole foods like fruit, nuts, hard boiled eggs, and cheese are becoming available pretty much everywhere.  From AM/PM, to 7-11, to Circle K, I am regularly seeing these foods offered in abundance, and it is a big help to someone like me who doesn't want to choose between chips, sweets, and hunger.  Add in the fact that when I leave sugar and grains out of my diet, I don't ever feel the grinding, ravenous hunger that hits me when I'm on the sugar wheel, and things are really looking up!

One of the best things about an amusement park vacation is the amount of walking we will be doing.  I have a Fitbit activity tracker, and  it shows that we walk at least 8 miles a day on these trips.  This kind of "low and slow" activity is an excellent fat burner, so I can eat my fruit, cheese, and organic jerky, and still wake up feeling lean and spunky the next day.

It's  been five years since I lost 50 pounds and reached my goal weight, and the truth is that when I've flirted with too much sugar and middle intensity cardio, my weight has gone right back up.  The physical and emotional distress that re-gain causes me is simply not worth the brief pleasure of consuming foods that hurt.

When I stick to my sugar and grain free eating plan on vacation, I usually come back with a leaner body, and next to wonderful memories and great family photos, I can't think of a nicer souvenir.

So there's my answer to the "How do you stay off sugar?" question.  Eat something else.  You, Dear Reader, need to find your personal something else.  It could be fruit, nuts, cheese, greek yogurt, more vegetables, jerky, but your super foods are out there.  I wish you success in finding and enjoying them.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Goodbye Mae West

Belle of the Nineties
Back in the early 1990's, when I was first pursuing a career in Musical Theatre, I was doing a Christmas a show at the Downey Civic Light Opera in Downey, California.  The second act of the show opened with several big choral numbers, and one night at rehearsal, while we were all getting into our places on the risers, the singer right behind me said,
"This may sound strange, but you look exactly like Mae West.  I worked with her years ago, and your figure is just like hers."

A few years later I was auditioning for Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and when I told the the director that I wanted to read for the role of Puck, he laughed and said, "Mae West Plays Puck?  No, we'd like you to read for the part of Hermia."  I got the part and had a wonderful experience, but I would have liked to have had a body that made me more versatile as an actor.

I will always be grateful to Mae West for helping me meet my husband.  Here's how it happened.  I was performing in a musical out of town when the artistic director of the theatre asked me if I did any impersonations.  The repertory theatre where I was woking put on a benefit comedy show every year, and the company actor who was writing it needed performers who could impersonate celebrities to volunteer.  When I said that I could do a pretty good Mae West impersonation, they made me the female lead.

My husband to be was that writer, and my co-star as well.  Sparks flew from the first rehearsal, and we've been together ever since.  Thanks Mae!

So what does this have to do with Beauty Building and fat loss?  Well, my Mae West episodes all happened at times when I was at what used to be my leanest, but not quite as lean as I am now.  As my weight drops below 122, and my body fat percentage gets near or below 20, I have to say goodbye to my extravagant figure.  My chest and hips get smaller, and though I'm delighted that my stomach gets flatter too, I start to look normal.  It's a really nice kind of normal, one that I've struggled to achieve for years, but there's a kind of bittersweetness to it.

Miss West's body has not been considered ideal for decades now, but for years it was considered wonderful and special.  The great beauties of today, like Giselle, Gwyneth, Jessica Alba, Duchess Kate, and Zoe Saldana to name a few, are almost always hyper lean, and super tall.  The smaller curvier celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, and Christina Aguilera are often followed in the news because of their weight struggles.  It's as if you have to pay for your extravagant figure with ridicule in some corners of the media.

Kermit may have sung, "It Isn't Easy Being Green," but I can tell you, "It's Easier Being Lean."  At least it's easier in terms of public acceptance.

The difficult truth I have to face is that for years I have wanted the power and opportunities that come form being perceived as beautiful.  As a performer, I wanted to have the career choices that the slenderest female actors had.  Now that I've finally discovered how to get and stay slender after all these years, there is a part of me that wants to bring Mae West back.  I want to live in a world where the unique beauty of every woman is celebrated, no matter what her height, weight, color, or shape might be.  I want to live in world where beauty is a celebration instead of a competition.

How many of us dress, walk, and act in a way that's mean to deflect attention from what is unique about our bodies, and how many industries capitalize on this desire to look normal and stay under the radar?

The youngest ever female self-made Billionaire is Sara Blakey, the inventor of Spanx.  Think about that for a moment.  Our youngest  female billionaire entrepreneur found a new way to make and market the girdle- that thing we once burned as a symbol of liberation.

I used to have a drawer full of Spanx and similar body slimmers.  Thanks to Turbulence Training I was able to throw them all away.  Now that I'm normal, I don't need them anymore.  Now I have lots of energy, a job I love, and acceptance.  Maybe in ten or twenty years, women won't have to get thin to have those things too.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Awareness: A Fantastic Fat Loss Tool

In their book, "Switch" Dan and Chip Heath liken the subconscious mind to an elephant, and the conscious mind to its rider.  As the rider, the conscious mind call the shots, and the big powerful subconscious obeys. We believe that we are aware and in charge of our actions, but are we ?

Have you ever had the experience of finding yourself with your hand in the cookie jar, both literally and figuratively, without knowing how it got there?  Or, have you ever become so distracted by chores that you put a meal off until you were starving, out of control, and eating on your feet instead of at a table?

How does this happen really?  If you're following the TEAM technique of Thinking, Eating, Allies, and Movement, how could you forget your established goals, and the behavior that helps you reach them?  It's the elephant.  Yes, it is the powerful beast inside you that has needs and desires that are counter to what you want.  Freud called it id, ego, and superego, but I like the visual of the elephant.

So how does the elephant take over?  When you are tired, busy, frustrated, angry, or just foggy headed you lose awareness of the road you're on, and you can be pulled away from the path you want to follow.  They say an elephant never forgets, but you are at the mercy of amnesia: the amnesia that makes you forget your goals and turn to snacks.

How do you counter this amnesia?  You counter it with awareness, and you cultivate awareness with behavioral tools.  The technique is simple, but the execution can be difficult.  Here are some ways that you can establish awareness, and keep it strong.

1. Set goals.  You must know vividly and specifically what you want in order to keep it in mind and in front of you. Without a well established destination you will wander off the path that leads to it.

2. Make a schedule.  In addition to knowing what you want to do, you need to know when to do it.  I risk sounding like a broken record with my clients and students when I repeat the phrase:
Three training sessions a week, marked on your calendar, just like a doctor's or dental appointment.  When it comes to eating, my students who have hit it out of the park with their fat loss have all chosen an eating plan and schedule and followed it.  That's the secret to our success in a nutshell right there.

3. Create cues and reminders to help you remember.  The elephant is big and powerful, so you need ways to steer your awareness back to the road you want to be on.  I write down my eating plan in the morning, I have a whiteboard by my computer, and I write my daily goals on it.  In my daily meditation I revisit my goals, and I visualize myself doing the tasks that will help me reach them.  Note- this is an incredible tool that so few people use!  Try this: every day at say, 11:45, pause and reconnect mentally with your goal for 2 minutes.  Repeat this at 2PM or 3PM, or whatever your "Amnesia Hour" usually is.  This may help counter a takeover by your hungry subconscious.

So there are the three tools: A Goal, A Schedule, and Reminders.  Can you take some time to get creative with your reminders?  Could you carry a polished stone, put up post its, pick a number that you associate with your goal, and every time you see that number reconnect with your desire?

Your authentic ideal body is truly worth these efforts.  Once you establish them as a pattern, they can be incredibly freeing and comforting: much more comporting than being dragged off of your chosen path by junk food.

So stay aware, and reach your goal.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Top Ten Transformation Tactics

In ten days, I take my "after" photos for the 17th Turbulence Training Transformation Contest.  I'm not eligible for a prize, but several Gordon Studio students are in it to win, so I want to share my best fat loss tips with them, and all of the Beauty Building readers.

This morning, I started the day with a big glass of water before feeding the cat, the dog, and the fish: in that order.  I guess that tells you who rules the animal roost around here?  Yep, Princess Muffins.  Then I made a cup of coffee, and sat down for my inspirational reading.

When I was done I asked myself, "What could I write that would be most helpful to anyone in the contest?"  This fits in with the motto, "The more you help others, the faster you will see results."  So here are ten fat loss ideas for the next ten days.

1.  Follow your eating strategy faithfully.  This is not the time to suddenly go nuts by drastically reducing calories, or jumping to a brand new diet.  This is the time to keep your body nourished and satisfied, and for most of us that means colorful vegetables will be on the menu.  I have found that things fall apart for me and some of my students when we don't keep up with our salads and other vegetables, both raw and cooked.  I believe that nutrient density is a key to satiety, and no matter what your nutrition strategy is, it's hard to beat spinach, kale, cauliflower, etc. for that quality.

2.  Follow your training strategy faithfully.  Get your three training sessions in, but don't suddenly ramp up the weights or intensity.  By now you've been using the principle of progression whenever you've trained, so stick with it.  In my case, when I've tried to add extra cardio to burn more calories, I've just ended up tired, cranky, achy and hungry.  (That sounds like the four dwarves of weight gain.)
"She Who Must Be Fed First."  Please note the royal wave.

3.  Drink water.  Eight glasses a day makes good sense.  By making sure you're hydrated it's a good bet that you won't reach for high calorie beverages.

4.  Limit or eliminate alcohol.  Although I have lost fat and transformed while drinking, I do believe that alcohol impairs the judgement and resolve we need to bring our transformation ship in to a great landing.

5.  Meditate, or at least spend quiet time each day.  You need this time to reduce stress, and feel grateful for the changes you're making in your body and life.  During meditation we connect with the subconscious mind, which has a vast impact on our success.  Spend time reassuring your body that it can trust you, and it will release fat.

6.  Think kind and loving thoughts about your body, and the world around you too!  You can help the process by wearing your favorite colors, listening to your favorite music, and taking part in your favorite non-food pastimes.  Don't wait for the end of the challenge to start enjoying your stronger fitter physique.

7.  Establish non-food rewards.  Even after five years of transformation experience I still get cravings, and I experience frustrations that make me want to reach for the brief oblivion of junk food consumption.  If you get a craving, breathe, feel it, let it pass through you, and then reward yourself for your maturity and fortitude!  I have a white board where draw a dot for every craving that I breathe through.  The more dots, the better the reward on picture day.  By the way, we're going on a short vacation right after my contest deadline- and yes reward shopping is involved.  Shoes anyone?

8.  Reach out for support.  I've already told a few friends that I may be calling or texting them if I get a craving.  If you're in the contest, your best source of support is often the other participants.  Plus, if you're like me, you may find it easier to honor the commitments you've made to other people, than it is to stick to the promises you've made to yourself.

9.  Print a copy of a calendar for the next ten days and post it where you can see it.  Write in your training sessions and photo time at the very least, and it helps to schedule shopping and food preparation as well.  Are you having your hair done, or getting a spray tan?  Write in the tasks that pertain to the challenge- especially the fun ones!

10.  Take care of your skin.  Don't go out and get lotions or tanners that you don't have any experience with.  If you want to use a tanner test it a week before to make sure you don't react to it.  Personally, I tried some new face creams a few days ago.  I think I layered on too many at once, because my face suddenly turned red and hot.  The reaction only lasted 30 minutes, but you don't want that to happen on picture day!

It's funny, when I sat down to write this post I thought, "Ten tips?  Have I got that many?"  I guess I do, and more.  I'll leave you with this, if your TT Strategy is working, just trust it, and stick with it for ten more days.  Then take your pictures and enjoy the results.  If they turn out the way I think they will, I have confidence that you'll be Turbulence Training for good!

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Deadline is A Powerful Fat Loss Tool.

It's two weeks and five days until the end of the 17th Turbulence Training Transformation Contest.  I'm not eligible for a prize, as I've won the contest before, but I like to join them because they focus my intentions by giving me a clear goal and a deadline.

Ah yes, a deadline can be a powerful tool for change when it comes to fat loss.  The conventional wisdom is that permanent weight loss requires a lifestyle change, and I do agree with that point of view.  However, I believe that it is success that motivates us to stick to a new lifestyle.

In order to achieve exciting, visible, motivating success we need to concentrate our best efforts on our goals, and nothing concentrates effort quite like a deadline.  Believe me, it's a lot easier to walk away from random snack foods when you know you've got to stand in front of a camera in your swimsuit in two weeks.  I can hear the naysayers now claiming that you'll just go back to your old way of eating after the deadline, but will you?

I have discovered that the opposite is true.  Yes, I admit that I have bounced back up because I have indulged after deadlines, but the tools and strategies that I learned during the transformation contests  always brought me back to my best behavior.

I need to repeat this idea, because it is so essential for your success:  The behaviors, strategies, and tactics that you learn on the way to your fat loss deadline are the very behaviors that will keep you leaner for life!

If you put on weight during a vacation or the holidays, you will know what you have to do to get on track.  How do I know?  It's been five years since my original transformation, and I'm still following my TT lifestyle.  Even better, I now have clients who have transformed, and who continue to make progress after their contest deadline is over.

Here are some specifics when it comes to what those fat loss behaviors are:

1.  Choose and follow a fitness plan.  I know, I know, plenty of research shows that diet is the more powerful driver of weight loss, but I believe that effective exercise is the foundation of  figure transformation.  The right amount of exercise at the proper intensity will make you feel fantastic, and it will help you manage your appetite, so that you can follow a good eating plan for fat loss.

2.  Choose and follow an eating strategy.  Start with whole, fresh, nourishing food, and be honest about what foods give you energy and satisfaction without triggering overeating.  I continue to be surprised at the variety of strategies that my students have used to succeed.  What they have in common is that they pick a plan that works for them, and they stick to it.  Amazing!  For me, success comes when I eat planned meals sitting down, and those meals are free of sugar, grains, and processed vegetable oils.  You may not need to eliminate sugar, but it's given me freedom from food obsession, so I can live the life I choose.

3.  Choose your allies.  Get support from people who want vibrant health as well.  I'm so fortunate to have a place to teach and train, because I'm constantly surrounded by people who want to feel- and look- great.

Finally, and it bears repeating, you need to know why you want the energy and vitality that comes from being in your best shape ever.  What is that you want to do in life that is worth training for?

So good luck, whether you're in the transformation contest or not, and I wish you all of the positive motivation of a deadline.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sugar Freedom: You Don't Have To Eat The Cake.

Lady Liberty says: Scroll down if you want to see the video.
Happy Fourth of July everyone.  Today we celebrate Independence Day, and the birth of a nation built on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

I like to say that fitness is freedom.  It allows us to pursue our dreams with energy and enthusiasm.  But today, we face all kinds of challenges to our fit intentions.

It used to be that most forms of fun and entertainment involved movement of some kind.  Playing sports, dancing, making music: they all involve movement, and even going out to see a movie or play involved effort in getting ready and going to the theatre.

Now our entertainment is streamed to us effortlessly at the touch of a button or key.  We react to the idea of dealing with traffic, parking, and other people by saying, "Oh let's just stay home."  When we do rouse ourselves to get out into the world for parties and celebrations, too often what draws us is the anticipation of sugary indulgent foods.

For example, last week I attended a birthday party, and the cake turned out to be a masterpiece of color and decoration celebrating the Birthday Girl.  Once the cake was cut it looked even better if that's possible, as the yummy chocolate inside was revealed.  Now, I've known for years that eating sugary cakes and treats causes a special uncontrollable madness in my mind and body, but in spite of that I sometimes still respond to signals that tell me it's rude to refuse the cake.

Last year, I was listening to a podcast by a prominent fitness expert who was laughing with his guest and saying,

 "You have to eat the cake (In this case a wedding cake) you can't be all stuck up and holier than thou and refuse."

Have to? Have to?  Would you tell someone with an alcohol addiction that they have to drink the champagne at that wedding?  Apparently some fitness experts, often those who have never been overweight or felt the terrible compulsion to overeat sugars and starches, think that eating these items is some kind of social obligation that can't be refused.

In the past I've listened to these voices, usually because deep down I wanted permission to indulge.  Now, as I have finally returned to my goal weight range after two years of intense struggle, I see that it is time to give myself permission to refuse foods that hurt me.

By the way, I didn't eat the cake at that birthday party.  I didn't have to, in part because of the wonderful foods served by the very considerate hostess.  These was a lovely tray of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, and organic tri-tip as well, so I certainly didn't have to go hungry.

But here's the best part:  the young woman who made the cake, who formerly baked wedding cakes professionally, didn't have any either!  It turns out that eating sugar and flour gives her serious joint pain.  So the truth is that  it's not holier than thou to step away from the cake- especially if the chef doesn't eat it either!

So I wish you all independence from other people's expectations today.  Act in a way that is most likely to fulfill your dreams.  Enjoy friends, family, fireworks, and finery of red, white, and blue.  If holiday treats are truly what you desire and they bring you pleasure, enjoy them to the fullest, but in the spirit of Liberty, you don't have to eat the cake.