The Moderation Spectrum

“I struggle with picking the right carbs.”

There’s no denying that keeping your protein high and your carbohydrates and fats in line w/ your training and unique metabolism is the ticket to getting/keeping a lean body composition.

However, the mentality that we must attach a right/wrong or good/bad mentality to one food or macro nutrient is becoming more and more outdated. I want people to stop thinking of their food and their meals in altimatums.  “If you eat this, you will look like that.”  “If you don’t eat this, you won’t look like that.”

It’s time to starting thinking of our nutritional choices as fitting into a spectrum.

deprivation

I am sure we can all agree that deprivation and bingeing are physically and mentally unhealthy states we are to avoid.  Where all of us should be is actually a broad area, not a small pin point, where there is daily nutritional wiggle room for you to enjoy food, achieve strength gains or fat loss, and be healthy as well.

There will be days and even periods of time where your choices may veer slightly to the left or right depending on your training, work schedule, social demands, and just plain wants.  That FLEXIBILITY is key to making peace with your body and food once and for all!!

In other words, because there is no perfect meal plan to strictly follow daily, you detach feelings of success and failure to what and how you eat.  The Moderation Spectrum also demands that you listen to and value your wants as well.  Thinking of fat loss, strength gains, or maintenance in terms of a continuum allows for the adaptations needed to balance out nutritional needs with enjoyment of your meals so that you avoid the extremes of deprivation and binges and still achieve your goals.

The reality of this is that some days are easy and your wants match exactly what our idea of “perfect” nutrition looks like.  Other days it’s more important to slightly veer to the right and allow a bit more indulgence so you take the edge off a craving and avoid stepping out of the moderation spectrum later in the day.  Don’t forget you can also guiltlessly choose to eat a more indulgent meal because you may be celebrating with friends and family.  On the flip side, during recovery periods, sickness, fatigue, being over scheduled, or after indulging a bit for a few days etc., you may move more towards the left because hunger and/or activity levels are reduced as well.

Stop looking for the bull’s-eye of perfection in your meals.  Listen to those wants and balance them out based on the situations at hand.  Stop believing that only home runs win the game.

 

 

Plateaus vs Maintenance

A favorite part of my day is when I get a little one on one time with folks after class to brainstorm strategies so they can reach their goals.

I had an awesome conversation last Friday with Amy about breaking plateaus. I know many of you will be able to relate to what she is struggling with so I wanted to share some of the topics we touched on.

FullSizeRender (3)Amy is a busy mother of three who is strong and healthy as is but she is looking to lean out just a bit more so that all those muscles she’s been busy building are able to show through a bit better.

To be clear, a plateau is when you are STUCK in a physically less than desirable place.  In contrast, maintenance mode, which is what I spoke about last week, is when you CHOOSE to stay where you are because you are physically content with what you see and mentally at ease with your training and nutritional choices.

One look at Amy and it’s clear she’s doing MANY things right so the gist of the conversation between Amy and I centered around fine tuning and details.  In particular we honed in on what she called her “cookie problem” and her ELIMINATION style approach…

“If I could just figure out how to stop eating them, I know I could break my plateau.”  Sound familiar?

However, unless you have some sort of allergy or intolerance to a food, your strategy should NOT BE about figuring out how to EXTERMINATE anything you love and enjoy from your diet!!

The new wave of thought now centers around two words:  PRACTICING MODERATION

It’s called a practice because moderation can feel downright hard at the beginning.  It requires you to unlearn years of elimination style eating and to trust that by eating just a few bites when the initial urge arises you are actually going to eat less calories in the long run.  Eliminate nothing and spend your energy figuring out what amount allows you both results and peace of mind.

For now, Amy is to ALLOW herself to guiltlessly reach in her pantry at least once a day and grab about 5 of these mini-cookies WHEN she wants them.  She is not to constantly dismiss an urge all day so that binge mode inevitably hits in the evening.  She is to have just enough to satisfy and take the edge off.

An added bonus is that in the end, it is THIS very  mentality that she has to possess in order to cruise into maintenance mode.  Once she achieves that last bit of fat loss, she has to be able to keep it and the only way to do that is to create habits you can REPLICATE mindlessly!

Make PEACE with your food.  You really can have the cookies, the health, and the body you want all at the same time.

Hanging Out In Maintenance Mode…

We began #FitandFlyByJuly as Summer anxiety was peaking and I was getting ready for a photo shoot.  So…whatever happened to the video shoot?

My job now is to hang out in the best place ever… maintenance mode!!!!

Once I have all the pieces of the 4th of July Mystery Class in place, I will re-book my photo shoot.  I’m not stressing cause maintenance mode is a very happy place food and training wise.  Bad habits have been weeded out.  Stress is under control.  Food is neither my best friend nor my enemy.  I feel good almost all the time, but when I don’t, I can stop and reflect to figure things out and re-group.  Everyone is different but here’s what maintenance mode looks like for me.

Training:

Saturday/Sunday:  Rest and Recovery

Monday:  Full Body- heavy

Tuesday:  Full Body- lighter

Wednesday:  Heavy Legs

Thursday:  Full Arms

Friday:  Abs- almost a 3rd rest day.  No plyo, no cardio, and probably no weights either.

Food:  What I choose depends on my family and work demands.  Flexibility is key to staying in maintenance mode!!  I will often choose the convenience of supplements if I am out of the house and super busy…like Tuesday evenings when I’m at Sweat from 4pm-8pm!  I choose whole foods prior to that knowing I need the ease of supplements for coaching at night.

Breakfast:  Isagenix shake

Lunch:  Isagenix shake OR Protein based salad and starchy carbs

Snack:  Protein bar + coffee or small portion of leftovers.  Protein is always included!

Dinner:  Protein + fat.  You do not have to live on tilapia and chicken breasts!!

Snack, if needed:  grapefruit or small portion of leftovers.

Your take away…

1.  Change of plans aren’t a big deal.  Pick your stress battles.

2.  Food cannot dominate your every thought and decision.  Maintenance mode is where you want to be in the long run.  If you are there, congrats!  If you aren’t and you need help, let me know…jeidi@sweathuntsville.com!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing Recovery

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As a trainer/coach who was once proudly overtrained and chronically exhausted, I approach this topic with a deep understanding of the mind games that keep us from fully embracing recovery and therefore losing muscle, gaining weight, and plateauing at a not-so-happy place.

Let me establish that for the Sweat crowd, I am addressing a group of people who generally LOVE working hard in all aspects of their lives.  Lifting, jumping, slamming, etc is generally a visible, outward expression of who they are on the inside- People who aren’t afraid to kick ass now in order to kick even more ass later.  In addition, our #SweatFam doesn’t lack access to information, either, so I just don’t feel compelled to spew out a bunch of biology and explain the science behind recovery.  Others have already done that quite well but here are a few links if needed.

Is Stress Making You Fat?

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sleep-stress-and-fat-loss

http://examine.com/faq/how-important-is-sleep.html

My job here today is to speak directly to the mindset that just WILL NOT LET YOU accept the science and value behind recovery.  I am here to address that inner voice that demands you ALWAYS kick it up a notch even when your body is screaming for less.

1.  “But I ate an entire bag of chips last night!”

Classic excuse.  How you exercise becomes a constant REACTION to what you ate.

THE PROBLEM:  You never address the real reason as to why you over ate because you see exercise as a way to subtract calories.

THE SOLUTION:  Instead of breaking out into a guilty burpee session the next morning or an extra long run, you need to sit down and reflect.  Was this a reaction to under eating during the day or week, to constantly using will power to eat perfectly, to a craving, to an emotionally draining situation, or to what JillFit calls FOMO– the fear of missing out?  Find the ROOTS to the binge and address things based on what you find there.  Burpees are not your solution and are likely perpetuating the underlying problem.

2.  “I feel awful if I don’t exercise!”

At some level this can be true and it’s not altogether a bad thing.  It’s great that you love a good sweat and that your body and mind realize the benefits.  The issue arises when you are physically exhausted, not sleeping at night, feeling achy all the time, in a constant need of caffeine etc. and yet your mind will not let you take a day (or two or three) off!!  The “I feel awful if I don’t exercise!” becomes your license to exercise again and again and avoid what you need most, rest.

THE SOLUTION:  There are many angles one could take here, but the one people can quantify is the one that I have found the most impactful in coaching people to embrace recovery-  SLEEPING.  I challenge you… take 3-7 days off from exercising altogether and take note of how you sleep.  You don’t feel awful if you don’t exercise, you might feel awful because for the past 6 weeks you’ve been sleep deprived.  Want to get some great sweat sessions in again?  Then recover!!  Use that workout time for extra sleep at night or a nap during the day!

3.  “It’s so boring!”

To the over exerciser who loves the euphoria of the workout high, stillness is like punishment.

THE SOLUTION:  If you love the “high” of a workout, I need for you to become physically addicted to what I call “the walkers low.”  I, like you, find active recovery difficult.  I find myself making a long list of what I should be doing instead of taking a leisurely walk around the block (or a warm bath with a good book).  However, as I’ve practiced embracing meaningful recovery for the past 18 months, I have also noticed that my body absolutely rewards itself with a hormonal response to relaxation.  Right around the 15-20 minute mark of a walk, I become completely relaxed, my lungs are able to expand fully, I can exhale completely as well, my anxiety about my lengthy to-do list subsides and I am content just being in the moment.  Boom!  The walkers low.  At that moment, I know I am literally combatting the physical and mental stresses in my world with all the feel-good hormones necessary to keep my metabolism, my body, and my mind balanced and healthy.

THE TAKEWAY:

More does NOT ALWAYS equate to BETTER OR BEST.  There is a point of not only diminishing returns but also negative returns.  If you pull an all night study session, you have not earned your way to that coveted A.  You quite likely have pulled your grade down by not allowing your brain time to recover and process.  The same goes for your body.

If you want MORE out of your training, are you BRAVE ENOUGH to do LESS?  If the science is pointing all of us towards the value of recovery for fat loss and muscle gains, don’t let your MINDSET get in the way!!