YAWWWNNNNN – who’s with me? Call it the summer doldrums (or winter blahs, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere), call it too many late nights, but I am TIRED with a capital T (all caps, in fact). I can’t chalk it up to extra workouts (hell-O rest days) or crazy parties (I think my last crazy party was around the turn of the millennium – like, seriously, and how fun is it that we can say stuff like that and it’s TRUE?). So I realized that I just have not been getting very good sleep quality lately. And again, crazy as it seems (clearly I’m on the crazy train), I’ve realized that when something is true for me, it’s generally true for a lot of other people as well. I know, I know, we’re all unique butterflies or snowflakes, but it turns out we actually share a lot in common, whether we want to or not. So let’s share these top five tips for improving sleep quality and quantity, shall we? Besides, it’s one of the top five reasons you’re not losing weight! (Too tired to read? You can check out the videos on these topics on my Instagram or Facebook feed).
I think it’s fair to say that as a planet, we seem to be either obsessed with finding enough food to eat, OR, once we have access to enough (or more than enough food to eat), how to make sure that we are not eating too much. It’s pretty amazing to think that many of the generations that preceded ours simply did not have the luxury of “too much” and how we have a multi-billion dollar diet industry.
When it comes to managing your weight at a healthy level, it’s not just about food, either. We’ve also talked about the components of fitness and there are other aspects of your life that can have an impact on whether you struggle to shed pounds. If you’ve been focused on preparing healthful meals and snacks, and you’ve been making good choices when it comes to eating out, then I invite you to consider my TOP FIVE non-food reasons you could be struggling to lose weight! And who doesn’t love a good TOP FIVE list? Instead of settling in with this summer’s TOP FIVE blockbuster movies with a jumbo tub of popcorn (movie theatre popcorn is one of my LEAST recommended snacks, btw), get cozy with this blog post. Consider it food for thought.
Well hello, hello! We’re truly in the 101 level of fitness – this is important, because any time you want to build a strong structure, you need to start with a solid foundation. So as tempting as it may be to skip over the “boring” basics, getting a handle on these elements is going to set you up so well for your future fitness success. I know personally that it can be really tempting to grab the latest and greatest workouts endorsed by your favourite fitness influencers or celebrities, but what if those programs don’t meet your current fitness level? There’s a chance that the workouts are too easy for you OR too hard. I want to introduce ways to modify the level of an exercise, either making it easier (this is regressing the exercise) or harder (this is progressing the exercise). And guess what? My tips do NOT mention decreasing or increasing the amount of weight OR the number of reps (you’ve got those approaches in the bag, I bet!). Let’s bring on the basics of exercise scaling! As always, you can check out my Instagram video series on this topic, or see my videos on Facebook. Looking for more information or tailored advice specific to you? Contact me via e-mail any time to arrange a complimentary chat!
So, I spend a lot of time writing about meals and recipes on this blog. I decided to switch it up today and focus more on the physical fitness side of things. I still believe in the saying “abs are made in the kitchen” (which means that up to eighty percent of your results – aesthetically speaking, anyway – are a direct result of what, when and how much you eat) but how, when, where and how often you move your body are also an important part of the health and wellness equation. If you prefer auditory/visual learning, be sure to check out my Instagram video series on this topic, or see my videos on Facebook.
Let’s brush up on muscular capacity, cardiorespiratory capacity, flexibility, body composition and the other, secondary, components of fitness.
Remember when I raved about the dietary approach called If It Fits Your Macros, or flexible dieting? I experienced some significant personal growth with respect to the way I approached and related to food. I still believe that others can experience these breakthroughs via IIFYM as well. Not to mention, I and countless others have achieved significant changes in our physiques. But, at what cost? And were those changes sustainable? As I alluded in my How-To: Take a Break post, following IIFYM for a long-term, continuous basis is not feasible or sustainable. Like all diet plans and program, “flexible dieting” or If It Fits Your Macros has both benefits and pitfalls for its followers. I’ll be exploring the less desirable aspects of this program (and other “restriction diets”) in this post.
You might think from my previous How-To posts on How-To: Track Your Macros and How-To: Track Your Progress that I’m an advocate for relentless, unyielding pursuits of fitness goals, striving to be ever leaner/fitter/faster/stronger. I’M NOT. You simply CANNOT continue to push the body without expecting it to push back. Your body is smarter than your brain, and it is HIGHLY efficient. Ever wonder about weight loss and/or strength gain plateaus? You reduce your intake/increase your workouts and yet that one last pound gets harder and harder to lose or lift? Your body, marvelous machine, has reduced its metabolism and has gotten smarter and more efficient about fueling its required processes with LESS fuel, because you are supplying it with LESS fuel. Very smart (if only our cars operated on the same principle!). Similarly, your body has adapted to the stress of the workouts and doesn’t experience the same muscular hypertrophy and strength gains as it previously did under the same or lesser loads. VERY, very smart!
So, what do we do about this? Well, in a word – nothing! That’s right, there’s virtue in kicking back and relaxing! It’s time to talk about the value of knowing when to strive and knowing when to stop.
As I mentioned in my How-To: Track Your Macros post, you’re going to get a wealth of information about your macronutrient intake. But generally people are only going to put in that level of effort if they have a goal to achieve, in terms of physical performance and/or body composition. And the very best goals are S.M.A.R.T goals: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely/time-oriented. So, if you confer with your trusted health professional and decide that a realistic goal for you is to lose 10 lbs in 6 months, then you’ve covered off all of those attributes. But you won’t know whether you’ve achieved that goal unless you MEASURE – in this case, you have to step on that damn scale! You won’t know whether the actions you are taking (the input), such as eating a certain macronutrient ratio/target each day, are working as intended unless you look at the output. And progress is multi-faceted – so the more measurements you take, the more you can see progress and successes in areas you might have otherwise missed by focusing on one measurement exclusively (i.e. only ever looking at the unchanging number on the scale without realizing that you’ve lost several inches by decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass and/or gotten noticeably stronger at back squats).
So, that’s my case for tracking progress. If you’re a believer, follow along!
Alright. You’ve heard about it. You’ve seen the acronym a few too many times, and far too many photos in your Instagram feed of “bikini athletes” mowing their way through deep-dish pepperoni pizzas as part of their show prep. If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is a food/nutrition/diet movement that looks at food at the macronutrient level: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. P-C-F, in IIFYM short-hand.
There is no more “clean” food vs. “junk” food or “good” food vs. “bad” food. No more cheat days or treat days; no “earning” carbs or calories. Food is food. From an apple to an anchovy, a chicken breast to a Cheez-It, all food is comprised of the same three basic macronutrients (yes, there are also micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals to consider, but we’ll worry about that later). The idea is that your body needs a certain personalized ratio of these three macronutrients for optimal performance and body composition. Figure this out and then make small changes over time and you can reap lasting changes in your strength, physique and body composition.
This post is NOT about figuring out YOUR personalized macronutrient ratios. There are other websites for that and frankly, that can actually be the easy part. The harder part (as always) is putting information into action and taking the steps to actually eat the desired/required macronutrients in the run of a day (or week). The only way to know whether you’re actually doing this is to TRACK WHAT YOU ARE EATING. Everything you’re eating and ALL of what you are eating. THAT is what this post is about.
Just in time for #MotivationMonday (apparently super popular on Instagram and trending on Twitter these days), get to know my favourite fitness bloggers from around the web – a much shorter list than My Favourite Food Bloggers but I guess it’s because these two inspirational women do the work of many! You’ll see many of their ideas and insights echoed in my own posts (and I hope I’ve given credit where credit was due) – great minds think alike!
FINALLY – a workout post on the blog. Here I’ve been
fatteningfueling you up to tackle and recover from some intense workouts with all of my high-protein recipes, and I haven’t given you any workout ideas to do. Well, it’s time for that to change. And this workout is intense enough that maybe you’ll wish I had never shared it (ha ha – no, don’t be intimidated – yes, it IS effective AND challenging, but it is very scalable for all levels of fitness).