Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On or Off

TSFL has an awesome resource available to people who are using their program.  It's called Support in Motion.  I am a huge advocate & believer in the power that comes from journaling-and always have more success myself when I write down what I eat each day.  For the past 8 years, I've kept a food journal about 85% of the time.  I have many different sizes & colors of notebooks filled with what & when I ate certain foods.  It's guaranteed that the times I was feeling good & reaching my goals, I was also keeping a food journal.  Accountability-even to ourselves-holds us to a higher standard & helps us become more fully able to accomplish our goals. 

Support in Motion is essentially a glorified food journal.  You keep track of what you eat each day, but also have the capability of journaling how you felt, keeping track of your exercise, logging your weight/measurements, etc., and also joining & reading the community member boards.  There are many helpful topics pertaining to the Take Shape for Life program and I started reading a thread about people who have a hard time getting back on the program after they go off (before they reach their ultimate goal). 

One person said something that struck a chord within me and had me thinking for a long time after.  She said she had been struggling with this herself and she talked to her coach about it.  Her coach said, "You're either on the program or you're off."  Simple as that.  She then said that after she'd heard that, she evaluated her behaviors and how she'd been acting.  When honest with herself, she realized she'd been off the program for about a month. 

This resonated so deeply with me because July was quite an off month for me if I was being honest with myself.  I got kind of hung up on a few things in my mind & lost focus for a while.  I started making small off decisions; I let myself snack a bit when I shouldn't have, didn't take care of myself by getting enough sleep, didn't start exercising regularly, drank less water & more diet coke, and just made some bad-albeit conscious-decisions about food.  I recognized I'd been telling myself I was doing all I could, when I really wasn't.  I needed to recommit & re-decide to be fully on the program or off of it, but I couldn't be both & I needed to make a decision one way or the other.  I decided that night to be on and August started off with a bang again.  July wasn't my biggest losing month (only 5 pounds the whole month), but it may have been my greatest learning month yet and that makes it pretty valuable. 

Decide today to be on or off, but don't straddle the fence or do it halfheartedly.  Just go full force & do it!  I promise you'll see results & your hard work will pay off.  And if-like me-you have one of my July months in August, recommit yourself for September {or even better, for tomorrow!} and get back on track.  And remember, if you want to be somewhere specific in a year, you have to do something about it today!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Muscle versus Fat

I started a more comprehensive exercise program last week.  I'm working on being consistent & getting adequate cardio mixed with weight training.  Right now I'm using a system of lighter weight/higher reps & not spending more than 25 minutes on a weight training workout and 45 minutes on a cardio workout.  I'm alternating cardio/weight days and feeling good.  And I'm keeping track of this by having my bodyweight percentage tested every 4-6 weeks.  This number is vital to letting me know where I truly am in my health journey.  However, it's been a long time since I've done anything with weights.  

A really long time...  
Like over-a-year-long.  
And my body has felt it.  
I have been sore!  

It always amazes me how quickly we can get out of shape.  I love the feeling I get from a great workout and love the look my body begins to get when I'm cutting fat out and gaining muscle, but sometimes the price that we pay with soreness seems pretty high!  

Anyway, I've been contemplating muscle versus fat for a couple weeks.  First, because I'm focusing on building more muscle to replace the fat I'm losing and second, because I think we often get obsessed with our weight being a certain "perfect number."  I want to clear up a few misconceptions & shed a little light on this subject.  For a long time I wanted the scale to say 130 when I climbed up on hasn't said that since about 5th or 6th grade so I thought that was a good goal.  Anyway, in 2006, before my babies came along, I worked hard at getting into the best shape I'd been in at that point.  I ate a super strict diet, worked out hardcore 6 days a week, and paid attention to every detail.  I felt pretty dang good and got down to 21% body fat which is the leanest I've personally achieved to date.  I fit comfortably into every size 8 jean I tried on.  Wanna know what the scale said?  156 pounds. At that point when I went to the gym there were girls who weighed 130 pounds.  They spent their time strictly on the cardio machines.  They also had higher body fat percentages than me.  Maybe around 28-30%.  (I called this body type skinny-fat).  And guess what?  They looked bigger & heavier than me.  Standing side by side, people would have guessed our weights being opposite. 

Wanna know why?

Because pounds of muscle take up less volume than pounds of fat. 
Want a comparison?  

These replicas show us the difference between carrying extra fat or extra muscle.  Which would you rather have occupying space in your body?  Many times I've heard the phrase, "muscle weighs more than fat."  It doesn't.  5 pounds is 5 pounds is 5 pounds.  The number won't change based on what's taking up space inside you.  But, the appearance changes drastically because muscle is so dense.  This is why a muscular 150 pound woman standing next to a skinny-fat 135 pound woman can look leaner & smaller.  Pretty cool, huh? 

The reasons I didn't stay at that healthy & lean weight are many & more appropriate for another post, but mainly I didn't change the way I thought & felt about food, and didn't learn the habits of health which are vital to maintaining a healthy weight.   

Now though, I have all the tools I didn't have before & I'm not worrying so much about a certain number.  Instead I am working on changing my body composition by achieving a state of more muscle & less fat.  Would a part of me still love to see that magic 130 pop up on the scale sometime?  Well, yeah...sure.  But only if I'm lean & muscular while there-not just skinny fat.  Otherwise, I'll take my higher number and my smaller/fitter/leaner me anyday!