“I tracked ALL of my food for EIGHT years!”

Just kidding. Kind of.  If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I was and am a big fan of tracking macros.  However, I did NOT personally track all of my food for eight years.  In fact, I’m kind of appalled by that statement (and I’ll tell you why, shortly).

But let’s rewind for a second: have you heard that you *have* to track your food in order to lose weight? Do you believe that if only you were better about consistently measuring, weighing, tracking and logging your food that you would have the body you desire?

Yeah, I used to believe that, too. Largely because of posts from influential fitness professionals, “bragging” that they had tracked their food for XX amount of time. Surely that was the secret to their ultra-shredded physiques?  I mean, I’ve even created my own sort of “highlight reel” on my own Instagram, and I share different nutritional strategies on my Facebook.

So, when is too much too much, and can tracking ever be a bad thing?  Read on!

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How To: RELAX!

Is your to-do list a mile long?  Do you feel like for every one thing you cross off it, you get at least two more?  Are you finding it harder and harder to keep up with the juggling act of keeping all the balls in the air when it comes to your responsibilities?

This week on my Instagram video series and Facebook posts, I asked if you were constantly STRESSED OUT.  I certainly was!  It turns out that working full-time, running my own business, working out and training, and being a wife and mother ALL AT THE SAME time without adequate down-time was NOT a good idea.  I found myself dealing with mental fogginess, fatigue, unexpected and unwanted weight gain and, quite frankly, shitty sleep (pardon my French).

It was the last one that broke the camel’s back, actually.  You mess with my sleep; you are asking for trouble.  I’m not willing to put up with poor-quality ANYTHING for any length of time, so I did what I always do: I called in the experts.  Oh sure, I’ll check out what “Dr. Google” has to say, but I’m not going to waste much time on figuring things out for myself when there are certified, trained and experienced professionals out there who are PAID to leverage their expertise on my behalf.

It might have been my type A, do-everything approach that caused me issues in the first place, but in true type A fashion, in the span of a week I saw: my GP; not one but TWO naturopathic doctors (gotta love a third opinion, right?); my psychologist; a registered massage therapist AND an acupuncturist.  Go big or go home.

They all, in their own way and own terminology, came to the same conclusion: I was doing too much and needed to slow down.  My favourite?  My acupuncturist’s verdict: “You do not have enough ‘yin'” (where ‘yin’ is the quiet, restful, darkness and calm “negative” or absence of doing that is the necessary counterpart to ‘yang,’ the action-oriented, aggressive – the two balancing life forces of the entire universe in traditional Chinese belief systems).

Whether you believe in it or not*, my naturopath trotted out the “tired” phrase “adrenal fatigue” (ba-doom-ching!  Lame pun totally intended!).  I don’t really care what the answer is to the question, “*Is adrenal fatigue real?”  The symptoms were (and are) real for me.  It’s not even that I think my adrenal glands are fatigued or worn out, rather that I am experiencing the effects of chronically elevated cortisol and possibly other stress-related hormones due to the untenable pace of my life, which probably better describes what people are calling “adrenal fatigue” anyway.

I know I *can* do everything, and so I did, without ever questioning whether I *should* or *needed to* (the answer to those last two is a resounding “NO,” in case you’re wondering the same thing about yourself).  Like me, I know you can (and often do) do everything, but guess what?  You don’t *have* to!

The good news for me and for you?  There ARE lots of ways to SLOW DOWN and embrace your yin!  And since you’ve stuck with me through a long-winded introduction (thank you!), here are the goods:

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How-To: Eat Healthfully for Two (or More!)

All right, I have to admit that this topic is going to be deeply interesting only for a special subset of my readers: mamas-to-be/pregnant mamas, this is all for you and your unborn babes.

Pregnancy can be a wild roller coaster of hormones, emotions and cravings.  It can be the most amazing, joyful and wonderful experience OR it can be the longest and most excruciating 9+ months of your life.  Or somewhere in the middle, depending on the day.

I really hope the former situation is true for you.  Did you know that what you eat can actually make a difference to your pregnancy experience?  You often hear, “you are what you eat,” and when you consider that all of your baby’s (or babies’) tissues are made up of building blocks from the foods that you consume, it’s literally true!

Of course, please discuss ANY nutritional recommendations or strategies with your primary health care providers.  These are just my personal top tips as a nutrition coach AND as a mom.

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How-To: Break Through A Weight Loss Plateau

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day (there, now this post is relevant no matter WHAT day I post it or YOU read it, unless I post it or you read it right ON Valentine’s Day).  How are we doing with February?  Was Valentine’s Day the final nail in the coffin of a slow and sugary decline since mid-January?  Or did it revitalize you and give you renewed energy for your health and fitness goals for the year?

No matter which camp you’re in, this is the point in many fitness and weight loss attempts (aka the six-week mark) where you can experience a dreaded “plateau.”  This can happen sooner for some and later for others.  It can last days or even weeks (!).

What exactly IS a weight loss plateau?  If you’re failing to see ANY sign of measurable progress after two weeks (this means NO change in measurements, NO change in how your clothing fits, NO change on the scales and NO changes in how you look in the mirror or in photographs and NO change in your performance in the gym), THEN it’s a plateau.  If you’re still getting stronger in the gym (evidenced by lifting heavier weights and/or for more sets), or your cardio is improving (resting heart rate is decreasing) and/or you can go for longer and/or at a higher intensity than you could before, your progress hasn’t really “stalled” – it’s simply taken you in a different direction than you expected.  Like just about everything else in life, fat loss isn’t linear, and there are a lot of routes to get you from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to go).

The good news if you really ARE experiencing a weight loss plateau?  1) It’s totally normal.  2) There ARE things you can do about it!  I shared just some of those strategies in my weekly Instagram video series (and Facebook posts), and you can read about them in more detail, next!

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How-To: Make Time for Exercise, and Make It A Priority

We’re all busy people, aren’t we?  We’ve got jobs to go to, kids to take care of, meals to make and eat, workouts to do, and somehow, we’re squeezing in sleep and quality time with our spouses and ourselves.  Wait – what’s that?  You’re NOT getting workouts in?

I get it. You’re a busy professional working mother (like me). It’s amazing that you keep your tiny human(s) alive and fed and clothed and you meet your deadlines each day. Who’s got time for exercise?

I’ve shared about ways to sneak more activity into your day.  I’ve come up with suggestions to juggle parenthood and fitness.  I’ve even told you what to do when you finally find yourself in the gym!

If you’re still struggling to actually MAKE the time to exercise, this post is for you.   I’ll share my top tips to not only squeeze it in, but also make it a non-negotiable priority in your schedule.

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Five Ways to Love Yourself Lean

Do you feel as though “tough love” and being hard on yourself is the only way to get results? Do you feel like you just need to “get your act together” and “grind it out”?

Yeah, I used to feel that way. I thought that shame and self-disgust and loathing and guilt were all helpful tools to impel body change. I’d be all fired up about a new workout routine or approach to eating because I was tired of feeling “gross.”

And it’s true, the first few intense workouts or days of eating “clean” can feel really good. But once you get past that “gross” stage, what is left to propel you forward? Nothing – until you skip back into “grossness.” And how damaging for your sense of self and of worth – view yourself as “gross” for long enough, and that thinking will infiltrate and infest other parts of your life as well. No bueno!

Thank goodness I was wrong. The latest research points to the benefits of embracing positive, forward-looking outcomes as powerful, potent motivators vs. attempting to move away from past states. How do we do that? I spell out five ways on my Instagram video series, or on Facebook.

Let’s get on the LOVE TRAIN!

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How-to: Get Your Back Back After Baby

Hey new moms (and not-so-new moms)!  How is January treating YOU?  Are you considering joining the crowd of “resolutionists” and getting back to fitness after newborn bliss?  That’s awesome!  Strange as it might sound to a brain addled by sleep-deprivation, getting some regular physical activity into (or back into) your routine can actually improve your energy levels and enhance your sleep quality – two very important considerations when you have a tiny human to take care of!

This week I’m going to explore my top five tips for taking on fitness safely and effectively, so that you can look forward to your new #mombod and being #momstrong.  I’ll make it a quick read, too, because I know you’ve got a lot on the go these days.

To make it even faster to take in this material, you could also watch this week’s Instagram series or read the Facebook posts on my post-partum approach.

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Five Essential Elements of Efficient and Effective Program Design

Okay ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…we’re at the mid-way point of January (what?  Already?!).  How are the workouts coming along?  Last week I talked about key exercises to include in your resistance training routine, to increase your muscular strength and endurance.  I’ve also spoken about all of the various other components of fitness, of which muscular capacity is just one component.  I’ve even told you how to make exercises easier or harder, with exercise regressions and progressions.  What could possibly be left for me to talk about?

It’s time to put it all together with efficient and effective program design!  I’ll talk about the five key components of workouts, so you’ll know exactly what to do inside the gym and out, when, why and how (and maybe we can have a silly week to poke some fun at what NOT to do at the gym – incriminating photos and memes abound.  Please tag me on social media – @thegoldengrahamgirl – in any you’ve got to share!).As per usual, I’ve summarized this post in this week’s Instagram series and Facebook posts and I look forward to your questions and comments.

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How-to Get Your Gym On: Key Tips for Fitness Programs

Here we are, first week of January.  Happy New Year!  How were your holidays?  Totally amazing, right?  You’re well-rested and well-fed and ready to CRUSH your goals for 2019!

How many of you have been to the gym this week?  How many times?  Or do you avoid it because it’s crazy town?  The wait for the squat rack is a lineup longer than a Black Friday sale at Best Buy?  I feel you.

Or maybe you’ve been steering clear of the gym because you’re not exactly sure what you’re supposed to do while you’re there.  Run endlessly on a loop without actually getting anywhere, like a hamster?  Grunt explosively in between taking selfies in the gym mirrors while you practice your posing and search for the best lighting to create muscle definition?

Never fear!  Everyone you see strolling nonchalantly around in spandex (in public!) had a first day in the gym.  The staff at the gym are there to provide guidance and direction (and if they don’t, it might be time to find a new gym!).  Seasoned gym-goers are usually more than happy to help and impart their vast (ahem) wisdom and knowledge.  Just don’t interrupt in the middle of a set to ask questions or for a spot.

To help you ensure that you make the most of your time in the gym, I’ve created this week’s Instagram series and Facebook posts on the foundational exercises that a well-rounded strength training program should include.  Now, ALL of these exercises do not need to be included on each and every day, but they should be distributed fairly evenly across your total workouts for the week.

Are you ready to get your sweat on?  Grab those headbands and legwarmers and let’s get ready to read!

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Back on Track with Back to Basics: Nutrition Priorities

So, in between bites of cookies and swigs of eggnog, you might already be thinking ahead to January (or perhaps even thinking about strategies to get you through the holidays with your belt holes intact).  If you skip breakfast, does that mean you can go all out at the buffet?  If you have apple cider vinegar every morning, does it neutralize the calories in the apple pie?  What about your great-great-aunt’s schnitzel?  It has PROTEIN, right?  Protein is good! (?)

With the amount and complexity of nutrition information (often confusing and conflicting, too) swirling around on the internet these days, it’s easy to get overloaded and overwhelmed – so much so that you figure you might as well stick to the sticky buns, since it’s hopeless anyway.  I’m here to equip you with some sanity for the season.  I’m leveraging the great work done by Eric Helms of 3-D Muscle Journey to help you get clear on the most important nutrition fundamentals, IN ORDER.  You can see videos 1-5 on Facebook or my weekly Instagram video series.  Read on to dispel fiction from fact when it comes to the fundamentals of eating for your fitness.

Continue reading “Back on Track with Back to Basics: Nutrition Priorities”