Friday, June 26, 2015

Kim's Story...she finally "gets" it.

I get the pleasure of helping people on a journey to health and wellness every single day. A client and friend of mine, Kim, has had an amazing transition in the past year. She is the definition of a CAN DO attitude.

As I was thinking about sharing her story I had an epiphany...why not have her tell it? So here it is - in her words.

I hope you enjoy our guest blogger today!

In her words...

One morning, about 10 months ago, I woke up and decided to weigh. No surprise, the scale read “E” [error]. So off I went to the store – in search of a scale with a larger maximum weight. It read 396 lbs.

I sat down slowly and just started to cry, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like a burden to everybody. I was 48 years old, with two wonderful girls (22 and 17); would I be around to see their weddings? I probably would not be around to see my grandchildren and, if I was, what could I actually do with them?

It took me realizing I was literally at rock bottom to face the drastic, dire situation that I was in. I hated myself.

Nobody that knew me would ever dream that I was 132 pounds in high school. I was on the starting 5 of my high school girls’ basketball team; we went to state 3 years in a row. I also played volleyball and was on swim team in the summer.

By the time I reached 396 pounds I couldn’t do much of anything. 2 minutes into walking the mall, my back and feet would be killing me. So I dreamt up excuses why I couldn’t go. I couldn’t walk half a block without absolutely feeling like I was going to die.

My 17-year-old dances competitively. My biggest worry when travelling was “where will we park the car? How far will I have to walk? Will I be able to do it?”. My quality of life was suffering – I enjoy my daughters, but was severely limited in what I could actually do with them.

About 2 months after the night I hit the bottom, I started talking to a very good friend, a woman/mother younger than me who is a fitness coach. I shared my struggles with her and I truly believe this wonderful woman saved my life. She talked to me at length – she made me believe I was worth it.

I yo-yo dieted my whole adult life. For the first time ever, I truly understand what the phrase “lifestyle change” means.

If somebody had told me 8 months ago I would be 87 pounds lighter and working out daily, eating fruits, veggies and whole grains, I would have told them they were crazy. That is exactly what I’m doing, though, and here is how:
  1. I don’t deprive myself. If I end up at a birthday party and there is a cookie cake, I will get a sliver the size of my pinky finger. 2 bites – it’s enough to satisfy me and I don’t feel guilty about it. 
  2. I forgive my weak moments – and forge ahead. I have weak moments – everybody does. I just don’t let them snowball into days or a week or becoming totally derailed. Nobody is perfect, it is going to happen. When I have a weak moment, I try to get away from food, go for a walk, practice the piano, read a book, or work out. It really does work. 
  3. I am very careful about when and where and how often I go out to eat. I always look at a menu beforehand. Know what you are going to order and do not deviate.  Even when it’s spontaneous, most people have access to the internet on their phones. I order water to drink, I skip the bread. My daughter and I went to Dixie CafĂ© Friday night. I had lemon pepper chicken light plate, green beans and a dinner salad with a vinaigrette dressing on the side, and water to drink. My daughter loves Subway. When we go there, I get a salad, no cheese. 
  4. I food prep on Sunday evenings. I brown enough ground turkey for the week, put chicken in the crockpot and shred it, cut up veggies, and make spinach/egg muffins for my daily breakfast. I work 3 nights a week in addition to full time days, and this also helps ensure I always have something available at a moment’s notice. 
  5. I learned to love water. It helps keep you full. And it makes me feel better. When I don’t have enough I will undoubtedly have a headache and feel tired. I just won’t have that normal feel-good, get-up-and-go feeling. I know it is because I haven’t had my water.
  6. I told EVERYBODY what I was doing. I sought support from my kids, my mom, my family, my co-workers, my friends. A support system is one of the MOST IMPORTANT KEYS to success. 
  7. I seek out others like me and embrace every opportunity to learn more. I am fortunate to work for a company that has a dietitian and a fitness trainer, and classes that correspond with both. Every group I can possibly join and become a part of that can provide me support, I join. If there is a class at work, I take it. 
I have a life now. I can go shopping with my daughter. I’m comfortable in a seat at the movies!! I don’t have to leave an empty chair in between me and a friend anymore. There is so much more room in my seat belt in the car. I don’t dread going to the doctor now. I don’t have to worry about where to park or how far away it is. In fact, if it is far away that is just more exercise for me! I walk my dog every day. I am lifting weights.

Kim in the flesh
Left:  August 2014
Right:  March 2015
I don’t even know the new me, but I like her – A LOT!!!     I AM worth it.  It just took a long time for me to realize it.  Food does not rule my life anymore.

I have a VERY long way to go, but I know I will make it, there is no doubt in my mind.    I see that light at the end of the tunnel and if I can do it, anybody can do it.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Basic Guidelines for Altering Body Composition

Just a few weeks left until I finish my master's degree and go back to work full time. So many things I've learned - about exercise, about physiology, about what motivates people and about what motivates ME.

Exercise is my baby - it's what I do everyday, what I teach people about everyday and what I hope I am lucky enough to do for the rest of my career.

But I'm not blind to nutrition - I know it takes both.  And I know it's more like 80/20 than 50/50...with the 80 being diet.   This final semester I am enrolled in a nutrition class and we are learning so much about body composition and how to alter your diet and your macronutrient balance to achieve your goals. 

Are you looking to lose fat?  Follow these simple steps
  • Start with a 3-day diet analysis... What are your eating habits like now?  Where are there room for improvements?  Where are you doing well?
  • Make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.  Limit alcohol.
  • Distribute your macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fats) throughout the day.  This will help you better metabolize all 3.
  • Choose whole grains (brown rice, rolled oats, quinoa) & fresh fruits over refined grains (crackers, pretzels) & refined sugars. 
  • Avoid the empty calories that often accompany processed foods...think nutrient-dense nuts, seeds, peanut butter.
  • Eat no less that 4 and no more than 6 meals a day - This helps control hunger, minimize blood sugar fluctuation, and increase energy levels through the day. 
  • Drink plenty of water - 9 to 13 cups minimum per day.
  • Weigh your food for at least 1 week.  This will help you with serving sizes and reporting accurate calories.  I suggest using MyFitnessPal if you do not have a FitBit or other activity tracker that provides a food journal.
  • Burn more calories than you consume by moving more.
  • Strive for 150-250 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular training per week (75-125 minutes vigorous)
  • 2-3 days of strength training per week to maintain, or increase, lean muscle mass tissue. *start with 1-2 sets of 12-15 to prevent injury and develop consistency, working up to 2-4 sets of 12-20 repetitions*
Are you looking to increase lean muscle mass?
  • Eat 4-6 meals each day to stimulate protein stimulus.
  • Spread protein intake throughout your day.
  • Consume protein and carbohydrates within 90 minutes of a workout to increase recovery.  This is best done in liquid for to ensure digestion.  I use these BCAAs for my post-workout drink.
  • Do NOT underestimate your need for carbohydrates and fats; you need more than just protein to increase lean body mass.  I suggest a 60/20/20 macro-nutrient breakdown if you are working out consistently.
  • Drink plenty of water 9 - 13 cups minimum per day.
  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular training per week (75 minutes vigorous)
  • 2-3 days of strength training per week with higher volumes (sets, reps and intensity) to build muscle tissue *start with 1-2 sets of 12-15 to prevent injury and develop consistency, working up to 3-5 sets of 6-12 repetitions for all major muscle groups*
Follow the guidelines above and you should be well on your way to achieving your goals.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Belly up to the pool

You hate the treadmill.  You hate weight training.  You have joint issues.  You hate to sweat.  That bicycle seat is just too uncomfortable.   I've heard them all.  Here’s your solution:  water fitness.   You don’t have to know how to swim to participate in water fitness – just grab an open lane and have fun! 

Water fitness (with the exception of swimming) is underestimated as a alternative workout method.  “It’s for the seniors” I’ve heard.  “But you just don’t get the same level of resistance training” some say.  The fact that most gyms and community centers offer their water fitness classes during the normal working day doesn’t help with these stereotypes and misconceptions. 

But did you know that aerobic training in water elicits similar body composition changes to exercise on land?  A 2006 study found significant reductions in body weight and body fat percentages after 13 weeks of aquatic training for 40 minutes, 4 times a week.   

What’s the key to success in the water?  You must be sure to work at the same intensity, frequency and duration.  Another study found in favor of moderate intensity, water based exercises as an effective exercises modality to improve glucose and insulin response.

Water provides 12-14 times more resistance than exercising out of the water, and 90% of a persons submerged weight is cancelled out by the buoyant support of the water.    Combined, these 2 characteristics create a safe and effective environment for many high-impact moves with a much lower risk than when these same moves are done on land.  Think less stress on joints, bones and muscles.

As with all exercise, benefits include:  increase circulation, reduced heart rate and blood pressure, improved cardiovascular endurance, and increased flexibility. 

Some important things to consider
Frequency If your primary fitness objective is weight loss, you should work out at a moderate intensity level 4 days a week for 30-45 minutes per session. Your goal for caloric burn is 250+ calories to really see the benefits.   Combined with a 250 deficit in your caloric requirements you should see a sustainable weight loss.

Water Temperature should be monitored.  Leading aquatic certifying agencies suggest a water temperature of 75°F - 83°F.  This temperature might cause you to shiver at first, so start moving right away!  Anything higher than this can cause the heart rate to speed up in an attempt to cool down the body; anything lower can raise blood pressure by restricting blood flow. 

Safety first!  While knowing how to swim in not necessary, it is important to know the depth of the water you are swimming in.  Be sure someone is on duty at the pool or nearby who is CPR certified in case of an emergency.  Also, be sure to keep a water bottle nearby.  When you are working at a higher intensity you are still sweating - don't let working out in the water trick you into thinking you don't need to hydrate.

Heart Rate is generally lower in the water.  It is generally recommended that you use a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) or the talk test instead heart rate to measure exertion levels.

What to avoid
Head circles
Raising your arms/hands out of the water
Hanging on the lane dividers (it’s just etiquette)
Staying in the lane for more than 30 minutes (if there is a wait)
Exercising in too shallow or too deep water.   The water should be about mid-chest height, so that when you extend your arms out to the side they are in line with the water level.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

To naturebox™...or not? A quick review

I've heard a lot of hype about naturebox™ snacks lately, so when a friend offered to "snack" me I accepted!  For a mere $2 I received a box of goodies delivered right to my front porch!  Talk about convenience. 

For the monthly $19.95 is it worth it?  Well......perhaps for some.

It’s time to decide whether or not to continue my monthly subscription?  I vote NO…for me.
I enjoyed the selection of goodies they sent was complete with snacks to curb a sweet toothsalad toppers and salty snacks.  It was easy enough to order and quality of the snacks were top notch.  

So, why won't I be renewing?  We live close to Whole Foods and have a bulk section and our Kroger - both of which I visit at least once a week.  I can get the same (or similar) items there, and often do.

Would I suggest that you sign up for it...probably.  At minimum I would say give it a shot for one month.

Who do I think naturebox™ will be perfect for?  
The person....
  • just starting out and learning about healthy snacking & portion sizes
  • looking for variety in their diet/snack options
  • who always says "I should visit the bulk bins for new snacks" but never does
  • that "forgets" about snacks when shopping and hits the vending machine every workday
  • that just doesn't have time to plan their weekly menu as often as they'd like to (even though we all know why we should be doing it!)
What I love about naturebox™: 
  • You can build your own "pantry" of items you'd like to try (or that you never want to try again)
  • Easy sign-up and cancellation on-line
  • Discounts for paying in advance (up to 20%)
  • 5 snack ($19.95) or 10 snack ($39.95) with an options to add on items (like Oatmeal) for a nominal fee ($2-$5)
  • A great value! I received 21.5 individual servings of snacks for $19.95.  That's $0.93 per serving!
  • The snacks can be used for a variety of things and in general are dense, high energy snacks....think nuts and seeds…
Just be sure (as with any bagged snack) to READ THE LABEL and WATCH YOUR PORTIONS.  Buying small soufflĂ© cups and measuring cups to leave at your desk (I have both at mine) or investing in a small food scale will be advantageous...and not only if you decide to subscribe to naturebox™.

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