Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Dreaded Weight Loss Plateau

Can  you believe it’s already (almost) May?!  How are those New Year’s resolutions treating you?  Most everyone has typically bailed on them by now.  Good news is that you can make goals at any time; it doesn’t have to be at the beginning of anything!  Sometimes there are road bumps in reaching our goals – it’s hardly ever a straight line to success.  One of these bumps could be a weight loss plateau.  The pounds peeled away steadily for awhile, and now the scale won’t move, even if you bribed it. You’ve been working out and eating right most of the time and now it’s not working.  What gives?

It turns out the body can get bored and stuck in a rut, just like our minds do.  It needs change, a shock to the system to kick it back into gear.  Remember the change when you started your weight loss journey?  Once you recreate that surprise to the body, you’ll be back on track.  Here are some helpful hints to help you bust through the weight loss plateau.

First, check your workout intensity.  Is it the same as it was six months ago?  Have you been slacking lately, not putting in your best effort in your cardio sessions (be honest, it happens to all of us)?  A heart rate monitor is a useful tool in measuring if your workouts are an appropriate intensity.  Another one is if you can carry on a conversation during your workout.  How much are you sweating?  Same thing applies to the weights you are lifting.  Have you increased over time?

“So, Jen, what’s the fix?” you ask.  Turn it up and change it up.  Try different modes of cardio.  Integrate interval training, maybe increasing the intervals if you already train that way.  Take your hands off of the treadmills and stairmills; it’s amazing the difference a small change like that can make.

Now on to your food.  Ugh.  You’ve been so good and eat well most of the time.  This component is trickier to change.  Take a look at your caloric intake and first make sure you are eating enough.  Most people shouldn’t fall below 1200 calories in a day.  How about your carbs?  Not just the amount, but type.  Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are all great sources of carbohydrates.  Processed foods and refined sugars are not.  Change up your protein sources, maybe exchange a hard boiled egg for some sliced turkey.

Finally, quit worrying about it.  The stress you place on yourself about the number on the scale can inhibit progress.  Give yourself a break from the scale for a couple weeks, even a month, be smart in your exercise and eating, and check back in later. 

Hope this helps those of you frustrated and stuck.  Now get back to it! See you at the gym!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Me and the Fitbit

Do you ever get to the end of the day and feel like you’ve walked miles when you just went to work and maybe the gym?  I certainly do, and the nerd in me wanted to know some actual numbers. So I thought I’d try a Fitbit.  For those that don’t know, Fitbit is a company that makes “activity trackers.”  Their devices are something you wear and they act as a pedometer telling you approximately how many steps you take and the distance you cover with those steps.  I have a Zip model, the one that you clip to your pants.  This one will also track the number of active minutes and calories burned.

The main question I had was how close I am to the recommended 10,000 steps a day.  The answer, I found, is most days I am close to or over that number.  Little activities can really add up during the day.  Grocery shopping can be 1,000 on its own, same with cleaning house.

What surprised me is that having this tool has made me somewhat accountable for my activities.  I get into a competition with myself to see how high I can get that steps number.  It’s helped me stay motivated with my cardio workouts.  There’s something about syncing the Zip (you can sync the information to your computer or an app on your smart phone) and seeing how much work you’ve done that brings a sense of accomplishment.

It has great potential to be an effective weight loss tool.  If you HAVE to get those steps in, you are likely moving more than you were before, therefore burning more calories.  I’ve heard stories of people just pacing at night to make sure they got their steps in for the day.  No, this is not me, I swear, but it’s not a bad idea.

Here’s what I like about activity trackers, or at least this one: they are easy to use.  Clip and go.  You just have to remember to move them if you change clothes during the day, and to put them on in the morning.  Also, I personally like the distance feature, ie how far those 10k steps take me.  For those who are nerdy with numbers, you can make it a game to reach your goals, and the treadmill or stair climber seems less boring when you have an idea of the work you are doing.  Fitbit will send you a weekly email with your stats for the previous week, such as totals and averages for each metric. 

It’s time to get moving again…try one out and let me know how you like it!  Or if you already use one, let me know that too!  See you at the gym!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Did Someone Say Bacon?

Yep, I said bacon.  As with just about anything, bacon is good in moderation.  In my recent quest to find great dinner recipes, I found one for scallops with – you guessed it – bacon.  I found it on a recommendation to check out Mark’s Daily Apple.  It’s a blog geared towards primal and paleo eating.  These types of blogs are great since we try to just have a meat and some veggies for dinner, and avoid starches (even rice!) at night.  Before I go any further, here’s the link for the recipe for scallops with bacon: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/scallops-and-bacon/#axzz2xjqS1VtX

Here’s why I love this recipe: As with the last post, it’s easy to prepare.  Cooking the bacon and thawing the scallops are what take the longest time.  The combination of olive oil and lime juice used with the scallops make the kitchen, actually most of the house, smell fresh.  And you get to have bacon.  How can you lose?

As for a veggie side, we like to have steamed green beans sautéed in butter or olive oil with a little garlic thrown in. You could also do asparagus (which is in season right now) or snap peas, whatever suits your taste buds.

Hope this gives you another great idea for dinner one night!  See you at the gym!!