Weight loss is a common goal for many people, but it can be a challenging process. Understanding the science behind weight loss and how to create a sustainable plan can help you achieve your goals in a healthy and long-lasting way.
The Science Behind Weight Loss:
Weight loss is essentially a matter of burning more calories than you consume. This creates a calorie deficit, which prompts your body to burn stored fat for energy. However, there are many factors that can impact weight loss, including genetics, hormones, and metabolism.
One of the most important factors in weight loss is the concept of energy balance. This refers to the balance between the calories you consume and the calories you burn through daily activities and exercise. To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn.
Creating a Sustainable Weight Loss Plan:
The key to successful weight loss is to create a sustainable plan that you can maintain over the long-term. Here are some tips for creating a sustainable weight loss plan:
Remember, sustainable weight loss is not about quick fixes or extreme measures. By understanding the science behind weight loss and creating a sustainable plan, you can achieve your goals in a healthy and long-lasting way.
If you have questions or are interested in my nutritional coaching program, please reach out anytime!
6 Tips for distance running
I love to run. It is a piece of my life that has long been a great source of enjoyment, fitness, and improved mental health. Whether it's a short or a long distance, I always feel better after a run. I really enjoy training for races and having a goal to work towards. However, training for running distance racing can be challenging, but with the right approach, it can also be a rewarding and satisfying experience. Whether you are an experienced runner or just starting out, there are six key factors to consider when developing a training plan for distance racing.
In summary, training for distance racing requires a combination of dedication, hard work, and smart planning. By setting realistic goals, developing a training plan, gradually increasing mileage, including speed work, fueling your body, and resting and recovering properly, you can prepare yourself for a successful race day. Good luck and happy training!
Building muscle and losing fat at the same time, also known as "body recomposition," can seem like a daunting task. However, with the right approach, it's possible to make progress in both areas simultaneously.
What the research science says:
Recent studies have shown that a combination of resistance training and a calorie deficit can lead to body recomposition.
One study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that a combination of resistance training and a calorie deficit led to significant decreases in body fat and increases in muscle mass, even in older adults. The study participants followed a 12-week program that included resistance training and a calorie deficit, and saw an average reduction in body fat of 3.5%, and an average increase in muscle mass of 2.5%.
Another study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that a combination of resistance training and a moderate calorie deficit led to significant decreases in body fat and increases in muscle mass in a group of overweight and obese men. The study participants followed a 12-week program and saw an average reduction in body fat of 4.4%, and an average increase in muscle mass of 3.5%.
A 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a combination of high-intensity interval training and a calorie deficit can lead to body recomposition. The study participants followed a 12-week program of high-intensity interval training and a calorie deficit, and saw an average reduction in body fat of 4.4%, and an average increase in muscle mass of 2.4%.
It's worth noting that there is individual variability and results can vary depending on starting point, age, hormones, genetics, adherence and more. But overall, these studies provide strong evidence that body recomposition is possible through a combination of resistance training and a calorie deficit.
The key to body recomposition is creating a calorie deficit while also increasing muscle mass. This can be achieved by combining these five principles:
Remember, progress takes time and consistency is key. It’s also important to note that your progress is not linear and you will have plateaus, but as long as you stick to the principles, you’ll be able to achieve both of your goals: building muscle and losing fat.
The holidays can be a really tough time to stay on track when you have fitness goals. It's a busy time and we are faced with lots of unhealthy food and drink options at parties and celebrations. However, you can still enjoy all your favorite foods (in moderation) and fit in your workouts with some key planning and mindfulness. Here are some tips to help you succeed!
1.Have a good attitude and ditch the guilt
A lot of people throw in the towel as soon as the holiday season rolls in, and seem to think that having some control over what they’re eating and drinking is impossible or too hard. Don’t sabotage your year long efforts. Approach this holiday with a positive attitude. Yes it is most likely that we will overindulge and consume more food than usual, but that doesn’t mean that a few days has to roll into a whole month. The holidays are also a time that people experience extreme guilt about what they have eaten. It is important to remind yourself that a few meals will not make you unhealthy or gain weight, just like a few meals won’t miraculously make you healthy and lose weight. In fact, studies have shown that food guilt actually makes food taste more desirable and makes people want to consume more! So ditch the guilt and think positive thoughts.
2. Don’t throw exercise out the window and make a scheduled plan
Try and start the day with some physical activity and put it on your schedule. Exercise does not only mean you have to hit the gym or class for a challenging workout, but also includes things like walking or riding a bike. Meet up with a friend for a walk instead of coffee or drinks. For a lot of people, starting the day with movement puts them in a positive mindset and increases the likelihood of eating well throughout the day. The holiday period is a common time where people fall off the exercise bandwagon, or delay the idea of getting fit during the festive period because they assume there’s no point starting until the New Year. However, given that one of the most common barriers to exercise is lack of time, take advantage of the holiday period and begin or maintain your usual exercise. It not only helps with maintaining weight but also helps to increase energy levels, reduce stress levels and get a better night sleep. Make a plan and execute it! Check out my Pinterest page for more workout ideas.
3. Eat your calories, don’t drink them
The holidays are a time where many will overindulge alcohol consumption and unfortunately drink their calories. Our bodies are not very good at registering the calories we consume from fluids so go easy on the alcohol. They contain empty calories with zero nutrition and can quickly add up. Then you get a buzz and all your willpower and your plan goes out the window, it is a no win situation. Start your day with a big glass of water and stay well hydrated.
4. Load up on salad and veggies
The holidays is often a time of supersized portions, large dinner plates and eating as much as you can possibly fit in. Balance your calorie intake by aiming to fill half of your plate up with salad and non-starchy vegetables and lean proteins which contain a small amount of calories but a lot of fluid, fibre, vitamins and minerals which help to keep us full. Aim to eat a variety of colors and textures as they each have their own nutrient profiles. Roast up a big tray of vegetables with olive oil and herbs, throw together a yummy salad and add raw vegetables to your platters so that you are fuller and eat less of the unhealthy options.
The holiday season doesn't mean your health goals go out the window. You CAN stay on track and keep your fitness and health goals in check with a little bit of key planning! Don't wait until after the new year, keep it going now!
THE BEAUTY OF GOALS
I recently set, trained for and achieved a personal fitness goal of completing a half marathon. I've run many half and full marathons in the past, but not in several years so it was like starting over again. As I began and went through the 16 week process of training, I realized that running for a goal was a missing piece in my life that I needed for my own happiness and mental health. I remembered how the process, not the product was the real prize. But, crossing that finish line and crushing my time goal felt damn good, and I am already planning my next one!
So in this months blog, I wanted to share with you my own experiences, expert advice and the research and science behind correlations between the journey of reaching a goal and general happiness.
Let's start with what the research has found. A study from the journal of personality and social psychology found that personal goals that are congruent with your interests increase your emotional well-being. This means that working on your goals makes you happy!
That being said, setting goals and making progress on them can make us happier and more satisfied in life.
Why? Well defined goals make you happy because they help you to:
If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not people or things." -Albert Einstein
How to start
Your goals need to be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
You must also create a plan that lays out the steps creating small more immediate goals that lead to the longer term goals. You must take baby steps and don't bite off more than you can chew at the start. Be patient and take the necessary time to build on each step and habit. This will make it more likely that you stick to it and succeed.
Brad Stulberg, a performance coach and the cofounder of The Growth Equation says, "Most people cycle through three stages: the grind of putting your head down and doing the work, fear of failure and enjoyment. But finding joy in showing up for the work is essential throughout the whole process and shouldn't be left for the end. Before you take on a goal, visualize the process and how it makes you feel. If you become tight and constricted, it may not be the right goal or time. If you feel open and curious, thats a good sign."
Frank Smoll, Professor of Psychology at The University of Washington says, "As you make progress along the way, celebrate each of the smaller steps. I like saying, 'Yard by yard is hard, but inch by inch is a cinch.' Self validation is very self motivating."
Zander Fryer, Founder of High Impact Coaching says, "If your goal is too big, it will scare you off, too small; it won't motivate you. Remind yourself that achieving a goal takes persistence, drive and resilience. Set your expectations that it will be harder and take longer than you expected."
I have overhauled myself via improved habits and goals in many different areas of my life and have become pretty good at it. Not only in the area of fitness but also in areas tied to personal growth and behavior change. I have faced so many challenges, successes and failures, and thats ok. Learning from each win, challenge and failure is key because you are teaching yourself what works for you and how you best overcome your own unique challenges.
I coach people for a living, teaching and helping them reach their goals. When my clients are successful, it also means I am successful at my job so I am highly invested in the process and the ultimate outcome for them. It is so very satisfying and makes me feel so happy to watch my clients slowly transform, reach their goals and gain their own goal related happiness.
Ready, Set, Goal!
my training vlog leading up to the Kona hawaii half marathon goal!
progress not perfection
Most of us have some sort of current goal that we are trying to achieve. That may be a fitness goal, weight loss goal, work goal, learning goal, new skill, etc. Sometimes the goal can seem overwhelming when the space is large between where we are now and where we want to be. We often set ourselves up for failure when focusing on the ultimate goal instead of the next small step. We try to do every step absolutely perfect without giving ourselves room to make mistakes, learn from them and grow. So to help with these all too common goal seeking roadblocks, here are 5 ways to create progress not perfection.
1. Flip your inner script
When you hear your inner dialogue saying things like:
2. pause and reflect
When your feelings become intense with frustration because something isn't going the way you had imagined it would, stop, take a breath and pause before you make a rash decision. Don't fall into the trap of giving up on a whim because of emotional intensity. Take some time to reflect, this could mean taking a walk around the block or sitting quietly with some tea and meditation, whatever works for you. Think about why things didn't work the way you thought they would, and what could be done to improve for next time. Think about the successes you did have in your process so far. After you have taken a moment to pause, calm down and reflect, think about what the next step is and how you will proceed and improve. "I need to take a break and come back to this later" is a great dialogue for this tool as well.
3. Cut the comparison
Falling into the comparison trap is common and can be kryptonite to goal seeking efforts. I love the phrase, "You are only in competition with yesterdays self." It is not fair to compare yourself to someone else that likely has a different backstory with challenges you are not aware of. For example, say you are out walking trying to work up to running and feeling pretty good about it. Then you pass someone who looks like they could run a marathon without sweating. All of the sudden your good feelings of confidence start to fade. Stop to think of what that person could have had to overcome to become a runner, maybe they struggled to lose 50 pounds, fought serious illness or they run to manage mental health challenges or grief. Don't assume that things come easier to others. Look at the facts, and stop yourself from trying to compare apples to oranges.
"Comparison is the thief of joy" -Theodore Roosevelt
4. small steps equal larger results
Learn the small steps it takes to reach your goal. This may look like one minute, hour, day or week at a time or more. Focus on the task and step at hand and nothing else. Breaking up your goal into manageable and attainable steps that will lead to the larger goal.
An excellent resource for learning how to break this down with lots of tools is the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I highly recommend reading or listening to it.
5. Give yourself some grace & have realistic expectations
We are all human beings with beautiful struggles and awesome challenges that make us interesting, unique and individual. Don't expect perfection, don't expect everything to go as you imagined, expect to make mistakes, expect to fail, expect to learn from it and do better by giving yourself grace to take the time to do it your way.
What's the recipe for success? Keep making progress. Keep moving forward. Be kind to yourself and practice patience.
Recently I began training to run a half marathon. Through the years, I have run many races but it's been about 4 years since I ran a half. In the process of training for this, I have come to realize how much I truly missed running and training for races. I find it so rewarding and fun to put together the puzzle pieces of a training program over time to get your body ready. It's amazing to experience your body and your mind adapt so you can accomplish a goal.
For many years running or power walking has been my primary source for stress relief. I choose to go for a run or power walk when I feel extreme emotions (especially the negative ones). It clears my mind, helps me calm down and reduces my anxiety. Study after study cites the benefits of running/power walking (especially outside) for mental health.
The runners high is real!
I have definitely experienced a "runner's high" and it feels amazing! After about 20-30 minutes, I start to feel more positive, grateful, relaxed, clear minded, more confident, strong and I just have a higher level of overall happiness. It feels really wonderful!
"After a nice long bout of aerobic exercise, some people experience what’s known as a “runner’s high”: a feeling of euphoria coupled with reduced anxiety and a lessened ability to feel pain. For decades, scientists have associated this phenomenon with an increased level in the blood of β-endorphins, opioid peptides thought to elevate mood. However more recently, researchers have shown the brain’s endocannabinoid system—the same one affected by marijuana’s Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—may also play a role in producing runner’s high, at least in mice" -American Scientific
If you want to feel good naturally without putting toxic substances in your body, go for a power walk or a run outside in the sunshine and ride the runners high!
improvements in sleep
Regular running or power walking has been shown to help you set a normal sleep schedule. Chemicals released during and after relax your body and encourage deep sleeping. Having a regular sleep schedule with an adequate amount of sleep is good for your brain and improves your mental health.
For me, getting outside and moving more brings a noticeable improvement in my sleep patterns, which in turn improves my general mental health and mood the next day after a good nights sleep.
reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety & boosting mood
Running or vigorous walking reduces anxiety and depression. When you run, blood circulation to the brain is increased and the part of your brain that responds to stress and improves your mood is affected. This causes a change that temporarily improves your reaction to stressful situations. There are many studies that have backed this claim.
I always say that getting outside and getting my heart rate up improves my mood and state of mind 100% of the time, it never fails me!
I can't even tell you the number of times going outside for a run or power walk has turned my whole day around into a more positive direction mentally. Running has served me through the stress of raising 3 boys, the loss of my mother, difficult life challenges and hard personal growth.
I highly recommend getting outside and getting your heart rate up to feel great naturally and effectively.
If your goal is to lose body fat or maintain your current weight, it can be challenging! Trust me, it's way easier to accomplish that if you don't feel hungry all day and you aren't having to fight off cravings!
Here are 5 ways for you to stay fuller longer and curb your cravings.
1. Increase your protein intake
Studies show that eating a diet rich in protein will help you stay fuller longer with less food/calories. This is partly because it reduces the level of your hunger hormone Ghrelin. This effect on appetite can be powerful! In one study a group of women increased protein intake from 15% to 30% of overall calorie intake and this resulted in a reduced calorie intake of more than 400 calories per day, without intentionally restricting in any way!
Protein digests at a slower pace than carbs alone and makes you feel fuller longer. It keeps your blood sugar stable which reduces cravings between meals and snacks.
Prioritizing foods that are protein rich like lean poultry, seafood, lean beef, lean pork, eggs and egg whites, low fat greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu and protein powder will help you reach your daily protein goal. It is recommended that if your goal is to lose body fat and build muscle, you need to eat 0.7 to 1.0 gram of protein for every pound of your goal body weight per day. I recommend that you shoot for at least 30-40 grams of protein for each meal and at least 20g at each snack.
Protein not only makes you feel fuller longer and keeps cravings at bay, but it also supports your strength training workouts and helps repair and build that precious and hard earned muscle.
Now, I am not saying that you should cut out carbohydrates or fat! I mean that you can swap some of the carbs and fat you eat with more protein to get the fullness benefits. Protein can be your secret weapon for changing your body composition.
2. INCREASE MEAL/snack FREQUENCY
Eating smaller meals more often helps stave off hunger. If you eat every few hours you are less likely to snack. Perhaps eat 5-6 small meals a day, just make sure they are smaller portions and protein rich.
3. Eat slowly and mindfully
Giving time for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full is key. Slowing down, enjoying your food and being mindful about it will help you stay fuller longer and make it less likely you will go back for second servings. Eat with intention and enjoy every bite and think about the taste and texture as you eat. This will help you tune into your fullness cues enabling your body tell you when it's full.
4. eat more leafy greens and vegetables
Leafy greens and vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus and zucchini, are high in fiber and low in calories so you can increase your portion sizes of these types of foods to help you feel fuller. Focus on foods such as these that you can eat in high volume, are nutrient dense and low in calories.
5. GEt adequate sleep
If you are tired and sleep deprived, you are more likely to have cravings and eat more overall. Lack of sleep actually increases your hunger hormones! Studies show that there is a well documented relationship between lack of sleep and obesity.
A good nights sleep will help you feel less hungry during the day and give you a clear mind to make better choices. So hit the pillow earlier and reap the benefits!
Losing body fat takes time in a consistent calorie deficit. Using these tools to help make that an easier and more sustainable journey is important for overall success. You got this!
The truth about motivation
Is motivation this elusive thing that just shows up out of nowhere and makes you get going? Do you need to wait to feel motivated in order to take action? The answer to both of those questions is no. Action precedes motivation. One small action leads to another small action, which leads to a positive reward, which then leads to motivation to receive that positive reward again. This creates a cycle of action>result>motivation and so on. You don't need to feel good to get going, you need to get going to feel good!
The simplest definition of motivation is wanting (Baumeister, 2016). We want a change in behavior, thoughts, feelings, self-concept, environment and relationships.
Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior arises from within because it is naturally satisfying to you. Contrast this with extrinsic motivation, which involves engaging in a behavior in order to earn external rewards or avoid punishment.
Motivation and making a plan
How does making a plan for short term goals help with action and motivation? If you make a plan for small steps, you are more likely to follow through with the action. When you follow through with a small promise you make to yourself, you then feel accomplished and proud of yourself which feels really good. This creates a cycle of making a plan, keeping the promise, feeling good and doing it again.
Short term goals work better for uninteresting activities as they boost commitment by providing feedback on progress more often, which further reinforces the effort to persist (Reeve, 2015).
What I say to my clients is, "If you fail to plan, then plan to fail."
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. -Zig Ziglar
Steps to get motivated
First, identify what your goal is specifically. Then make a promise to yourself that you will do one small thing related to your goal today. What and when you are going to do is important when making your plan. Then do the thing! You will feel so great and accomplished! Next, just repeat! Don't make it complicated, it's simple, small steps lead to larger ones. It also helps to have support and accountability from someone who wants to see you succeed and reach your goals.
Stop waiting for tomorrow and start now with a small step!
Normalize The Pooch!
Most women I know struggle with body image around their lower belly pooch. Society teaches women that a flat stomach is necessary to be healthy, beautiful, sexy and desirable. It's fed to women that the lower belly pooch is something to be fixed or is a flaw. The truth is, a completely flat lower belly is an unrealistic expectation, unachievable goal and a myth!
“The craze for the past several years is that women need to have a flat stomach in order to be considered attractive. This belief is setting women up for failure because a woman’s stomach isn’t meant to be flat,” Ashley Wood, RN, BSN.
We must normalize what a normal female body looks like, learn to love and appreciate our bodies and stop with the lower belly obsession for our own mental health and well being.
Here are reasons why your pooch is totally normal and a necessary part of the female anatomy.
EATING, DRINKING AND MONTHLY CYCLES
Your lower belly will grow throughout the day which is completely normal. It's just physics. If you fill a bag up with something, it will expand. When you wake up your belly is smaller and flatter with an empty stomach, but by the end of the day it is larger and more prominent because you ate, drank and have some bloating. It also will vary in size with your menstrual cycles, also totally normal.
WOMEN HAVE PADDING TO PROTECT VITAL ORGANS
Why is the completely fat stomach a myth and unachievable? Whether you have given birth to children or not, it is part of the post adolescent female anatomy and part of most women's genetics to have a small amount of subcutaneous fat in the lower belly to protect your vital organs and reproductive organs. It is anatomically correct and totally normal for a woman (in a healthy weight range and with a healthy waist circumference) to have a lower belly pooch!
Many women, including myself, who have birthed children will have loose skin from pregnancy in the lower belly which enhances the pooch. This is normal! Why not embrace this and feel gratitude for the incredible gift our bodies gave us! We made humans!
Why do you see some women without the pooch? Some women are genetically predisposed to not have the pooch or they have chosen to have surgery to remove it. This is not the majority and is uncommon.
SOCIETY FEEDS THE MYTH
The fitness industry and media perpetuate this with ads like "flat belly diets" and "exercises to lose the lower belly pooch" and images that are altered where women's pooches are edited out. You cannot spot reduce body fat with targeted exercises. Body fat can only be reduced overall by eating in a calorie deficit. That being said, if you eat in a calorie deficit, you will lose body fat in whatever place your body wants based on genetics.
ACCEPT, LOVE, TRUST AND NORMALIZE
Accepting, loving and trusting our bodies is easier said than done. How do you do this?
If you are eating a balanced, healthy diet and getting lots of exercise and movement, focus on how you feel. Are you gaining strength? Are you more functional? How do you feel overall?
Lessen the "flat belly myth" noise. It's time to unfollow on social media the toxic images, advertisements and groups that promote this myth. Stop wasting time focusing on this false and toxic input.
Pay closer attention to your health. Is your bloodwork, like cholesterol screenings in a normal range? How is your heart rate variations and blood pressure? How is your sleep and energy throughout the day? Ask your doctor for a checkup on your general health to find out.
I love affirmations and recommend saying them to yourself daily. Say affirmations to yourself like; I am beautiful, healthy, sexy and desirable; I trust, love and accept my body; my pooch has a purpose and is part of my healthy and normal body.
As many women do, I admit to struggling with my complicated relationship with my pooch. However, I have come to realize that it is a necessary and beautiful pooch! Most days it's smaller in the morning, and larger at the end of the day after eating meals. I have a pooch because, I eat, digest food and drink water, I have internal organs, I have birthed 3 beautiful and healthy boys, my body goes through monthly menstrual cycles and I am 45 years old.
That being said, I am also grateful to my body because I have muscle that I've worked hard for and work hard to keep, I am strong, I crush my workouts, on average I sleep well, my body is fully functional, my diet is balanced and healthy, I am in a healthy weight range for my body, my blood work and vitals are normal and most of all, I feel great and I am so grateful to my body (and my pooch) for the beast that it is!
Amy has spent her career helping others reach their health and fitness goals. "I hope sharing my knowledge and experience with others can help someone to live a healthier and more joyous life."