“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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Five Immune-Boosting Super Foods and Drinks

As a follow-up to last week’s post on natural ways to beat the Spring sniffles, this week I am getting groovy with some immune-boosting super foods and drinks!

Of course, just as no food or drink has magical fat-blasting properties, there ARE foods that can support your fat loss efforts and there ARE foods that can support your immune system function.  When your body is fighting of a cold or flu, it needs tip-top nutrients.  The best quality nutrition is needed to support your organs (especially our often unsung internal superhero, the liver!) so that they can kick some germy butts.  Now that you’re feeling one hundred percent better, if you’re too busy with Spring cleaning to read this entire post, you can listen to or watch my Instagram video series and Facebook posts instead.

*Remember of course that I am (still) NOT a doctor and you should always discuss dietary changes with your trusted health care professional.

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Five Ways to Beat the Sniffles!

Do the Spring (or any season) sniffles have you down?  This is the time of year when many people are gearing up to get their “summer bodies” – which makes me think of “summer cars.”  You know, super fancy, expensive imports or precious antiques that can only come out when the conditions are perfect?  Similar to the carefully cultivated, highly labor-intensive physiques that get paraded around on the beach for a few weeks – or months, if the “owners” are lucky.  Heaven forbid there be a sprinkling of carbs.  Those bodies aren’t made for that!  Aren’t we ready to have bodies that are fit and functional and ready for impromptu “drop-trou” occasions like mid-winter hot tub parties?  But I digress…

Just as you were getting really serious (really, really this time for SURE, totally sticking to it serious) about your New Year’s Resolutions (remember those?), you were struck down with the dreaded Spring sniffles.  Seems like cruel and ironic punishment for making it through the Winter Deep Freeze, only to get a dose of germs just as (or maybe partly because) the weather warmed up.  But before you buy out the local pharmacy stock of Dayquil or NeoCitran, here are some suggestions* to get you feeling better (and keep you feeling better), naturally.  Too sick to read?  You can of course check out my Instagram video series and Facebook posts.

*Remember of course that I am NOT a doctor and you should always discuss treatment plans and strategies with your trusted health care professional.

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Five Free Fitness Health Hacks

Everyone wants you to buy buy buy. There is always the latest and greatest “silver bullet” magic health product, whether it’s a pill, potion, patch or other product. Yet, the underlying fundamentals of health and fitness have not changed, and you can reap the benefits from these approaches without mortgaging your first child to do so.

Also, it’s trendy to restrict, eliminate, avoid or otherwise take things away in the name of health and fitness – think of every “cleanse” or “detox” you’ve ever heard of. And yet studies show this approach simply does not work in the long run. When we’re told “don’t push that red button” what do we want to do? Push the darn red button. So this week’s Instagram video series and Facebook posts are all about things to do MORE of!

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Five Fun Ways To Move Outdoors

Happy Spring!  Today marks the first full day of Spring, following the Spring Equinox yesterday.  It’s hard to believe that while I have long known about the equinoxes (is that the correct plural form?), I didn’t actually know that they meant equal hours of day and night until this year.  It’s a good thing I’m open to lifelong learning (and willing to admit and PUBLISH the fact that there is something – many things, in fact – that I don’t know)!

At any rate, the weather is also decidedly Spring-like.  We went from the depths of winter’s deep freeze to absurdly warm weather over the course of a single weekend (the “Spring forward” time change weekend, at that.  I’m sorry, but can we please just stop with this nonsense of changing the clocks?  I’ll sign a petition!  Does anyone else have a hard time with the time changes?).  The snow is melting at an astonishing rate and people are emerging from their hibernation in full force.  The sidewalks are full of walkers, runners, joggers, bicycles, scooters, etc.  Kids are splashing in puddles and dogs are gleefully racing around the park.

The changing of the seasons often stirs a desire for change in our routines.  We do Spring cleaning, we might change the decor in our homes, or even the foods that we eat.  The fashion-forward among us (not me!) even make wardrobe changes and/or hair colour changes for the season.  So it’s the perfect time to make a change to our workout and/or exercise regime as well!

Lastweek’s Instagram video series and Facebook posts were all fun ways to get your body moving outside – it’s so much fun, it won’t feel like exercise.  You don’t need to slog it out in the gym to get lean – here’s your chance to get some fresh air, sunshine AND fat loss!

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Five Facts About Overtraining

For some of us, this feels like the winter that will never end (hello to my fellow Canadians and some of my American readers).  But is there a risk that your low energy levels actually have more to do with an overzealous workout routine?  Maybe you’ve been super diligent and consistent with your exercise in 2019…but maybe a little TOO much so?  Too much of a good thing is still too much.

Did you know that over-training can actually be derailing your fat loss efforts? You can actually be working *too* hard and diminishing your results because of it.  You want to be sure that you’re working smarter, and not necessarily harder!

This week’s Instagram video series and Facebook posts are all about over-training – signs and symptoms, why it matters and how to stop doing it so your body can get leaner, fitter and stronger.

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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 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.

Continue reading “Five Essential Elements of Efficient and Effective Program Design”