Plateau Shmateau

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Plateau.

Probably the most dreaded word, when it comes to health and fitness goals. Plateaus get a really bad wrap. And, justifiably so, when you have been working so hard to push yourself and it seems like all that hard work is for naught. Like you’re you’re going nowhere and making no progress. Like you’ve hit a wall. Plateaus are ROUGH.

I just recently listened to a lecture in which the speaker made a metaphor about living into your life’s purpose by likening it to crossing a desert. I am definitely paraphrasing here but, he said something along the lines that most people succumb to dying of thirst when palm trees are just beyond the horizon. In other words, he was saying that most people give up in the final stretch, right before reaching what they are looking for. They give up just when their goal is within their grasp.

It made me think of plateaus. Plateaus do not need to be a barrier to your goals. They may just be an indicator of a “block” that you have to get up and over to propel yourself towards your goal. A sign that you either have a final push ahead of you or that, perhaps, you are not taking in what is around you to acknowledge the progress you have made and how very close you are to your “next level.”

Progress can look like many different things, when it comes to becoming a healthier version of yourself. Perhaps you have more energy. Maybe you have finally gotten off those blood pressure or diabetes meds. Are you sleeping better? Are you lifting even just a little heavier weight in parts of your workout and getting stronger? Maybe you are a runner and shaving seconds off your miles, indicating that you are getting faster. Losing inches...not just pounds...is another HUGE win.  Who doesn’t want their clothes to fit better?! Toning up and slimming down may not be reflected on a scale, but that loose waist on your favorite pair of jeans shows you have been putting the work in.

But, if you really truly are not seeing the results that you hoped for, here are some things to consider if you have indeed hit what seems like an insurmountable plateau:

1. Your Workouts -  Are you lifting more weight, moving more quickly? Have you been tracking your workouts, so you can see your progress? Are you adding in a few more reps here and there during your HIIT workouts? Can you run for even just one minute longer? Have you timed yourself doing a plank lately? These are all measurable differences to show progress in your fitness level.

2. Your nutrition - Are you simply "eating clean" or do you need to track your macros for a few weeks? You may be eating “all the right things” but just in the wrong proportions or wrong portion sizes. Tracking can help measure little differences in eating that can reap huge changes and help you progress.

3. Your rest/recovery - Now, be honest here...have you been working out everyday for two weeks straight? Are you so focused on your goal that you have neglected giving your body the proper time to recover from your workouts? Are you being as diligent about resting your body, as you are about pushing your body? If not, this could be stalling your progress.

Other people say “plateau,” I say “stepping stone.” Plateaus are just indicators that either you need to step it up or you need to take pause to acknowledge how far you have come. I promise you that the palm trees are closer than you think. Keep pushing on your journey! You are so very close!



 

Mid-Year's Resolution

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I have always thought that the month of December is the most challenging month for health. Holiday get-togethers. Office parties. New years celebrations. December is a tough month to keep your nutrition on-point and make time for working out! Which is why I started the mantra of “maintain, don’t gain” this past December.

Well, move over December, because July has almost got you beat!

I have been inundated with comments, private messages and texts from clients telling me how difficult this past month has been for their health and fitness goals. It makes sense, right? First of all, the month starts with the Fourth of July. You need only go on pinterest for like five minutes and see all the red, white and blue dessert ideas. Or, just for fun, start googling “Fourth of July” and you will see that “Fourth of July desserts” is in the top three hits. Us Americans love our desserts. Especially when they have stars and stripes! But, the Fourth is about so much more than red dyed cool whip frosting. The Fourth is all about backyard parties with dips, chips, beers, salads that aren’t really salads at all (oh hello, mayo) and there’s nothing more American than processed meats heating up on the grill. God bless America and god bless burgers with kraft singles. The Fourth is a HARD holiday to navigate when you are trying to make healthier choices!

So, July kicks off with a day of all things ‘Merica. And then there is. . .the traveling. Almost every member of my latest Lift to Get Lean group traveled at some point during the session. And we all know what traveling means! Road trip food or airport food or hanging at the lake food or camping food, etc. None of which is synonymous with being healthy! It is so hard to travel and make wise choices. And getting in workouts can seem nearly impossible. Between the actual traveling, the loss of routine, unforeseen outings for meals, being around others who are all about indulging, not really focusing on scheduling in workouts. . .traveling is the perfect storm of challenges for those who are trying to change their habits.

Lastly, July is the full swing of summer. There’s generally no schedules. There are more likely long lazy days. Spent at the pool. Or baseball games. Or outdoor concerts. Summer is a season that seems to solely exist for us to take it easy, relax and enjoy the sunshine. Which is all fine and well. Except that most people don’t associate long lazy days with challenging workouts and eating lean proteins with veggies. It’s all too easy to soak up the rays with a margarita in one hand and chips and salsa in the other. Who are we kidding?!

I know I can get a bad wrap as being  a fun-hater. But I really am not! I really want you to travel and soak up the sun and enjoy fireworks with the ones you love. But my hope is that all these activities don’t completely derail your fitness goals. I want you to enjoy your summer without a side of guilt. Or bloating. Or whatever other habit you have that is not getting you to the life you want to have. I really do believe you can enjoy all things summer and still feel great in your jean shorts and tanks.

July was a tough month. But, that is life, right? There will always be tough seasons and challenges around every corner. It’s exactly why we work so hard to create healthy habits. To navigate these seasons. But, just know, summer is NOT over yet. The year isn’t over yet! In fact the second half of the year is really just beginning. What a great opportunity to make a Mid-Year’s Resolution! I know that’s not really a thing, but I think we should make it a thing. August first is officially the New Years of Summer!!! (Again, not a thing, but let’s make it one.) Let’s get out our noise makers and sparkly dresses and resolve to leave the past month’s indiscretions behind and start anew. We’ve got four solid months before we’re kissing under mistletoe and roasting chestnuts on an open fire and we’re gonna have some solid healthy habits in place. Besides, I’m pretty sure stores will start putting out stuff for Christmas before August is over anyways. Ho ho ho!

Live the Sixth

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A friend of mine was recently telling me about a retreat she went on way back in the day, in high school. Not to get too into specifics, but she explained what a transforming experience the retreat was for her and how, on the fourth day of the retreat, she was given a pin that said “Live the Fourth.” In other words, it wasn’t just enough to change during the four days she was on the retreat. The real transformation was in taking what she learned during the four days of introspection and inspiration and incorporating it into her everyday life.

As the June session of Lift to Get Lean wraps up this week, I can’t help but keep hearing the phrase “Live the Sixth” in my mind. I give my clients A LOT of information during the six weeks that they participate in our private Facebook group. They receive six workouts a week, customized macro counts and daily coaching and inspiration. I strive to give the strongest foundation on which to build new habits and a new mindset.

But Lift to Get Lean is just that. . .a foundation. It is a beginning. A seed planted. A new chapter. It is up to my clients to take what they have learned and build upon their very own unique foundation of health and fitness. My macro program is a beginning to a new lifestyle. I plant seeds of self-worth and a fighter’s mindset and give practical tools to achieve change. Lift to Get Lean is like the first chapter of a new story you are writing for yourself.

This final week of the program is never the end. It is imperative that those who do my program understand that they take what they learn from my coaching and incorporate that knowledge they have gained into a new lifestyle. This looks like continuing to exercise. A lot of clients repeat my workouts for a second six week session to see just how much they have progressed. It also looks like continuing to be mindful of what they are eating. This could be continuing to track macros or follow what I like to call The Five Habits. Many clients lose inches and weight in my program, but in order to maintain that hard-fought progress, they must continue to stick with their healthier eating. In other words, there is no free-for-all after Lift to Get Lean. There is no slipping back into unhealthy habits after you have reached your goals. That, my friends, is called self-sabotage.

So, let’s not sabotage efforts! Let’s live the sixth! Let’s continue to work hard! Because the hard work never really ends. . .but, then again, neither do the amazing benefits from making yourself and your health a priority.

So, for the love of all things holy, LIVE THE SIXTH!

Compassion doesn't mean you're always a cheerleader

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As a nutrition coach, my job calls for compassion.  Often times this means being positive and supportive, but sometimes I need to be less positive and more real.

Being compassionate means:

You're present.
You're kind when you are suffering.
You choose self-care rather than self-criticism... but you still might feel bad for a while.

And that's OK.

Operation get real
Today’s post is kind of Dr. Phil inspired. He became famous because he knows how to lay it out for people and dole out cold hard realities that make people listen. Today, I have some harsh truths for you. Some tough love that I hope will provoke you to change your line of thinking.

1. You are not special.

Oooh. Ouch. In an era when the term “snowflake” is used daily on the interwebs to demean a whole generation, I know this truth can be a real zinger for some. But, I am not saying this in the way that it may come off. I am saying this to remind you that there is no real difference between someone who is achieving their goals and someone who is not. It is easy to look at another person who has lost a significant amount of weight or who is starting their own business or someone who is famous and think, “what do they have that I don’t?” Or “I could never do what they have done, even if I wanted to.” Let me be the one to tell you that they aren’t special. There is no secret formula that makes one person more capable of achievement than someone else. In other words, somebody just like you in the exact same circumstances is doing what you want to do. And nothing makes them special. The only difference is they are actually doing it. It isn’t about something they have or something that is different about them. They are you. . . but they are doing it. And, you my dear snowflake, can do it too!

2. There is no end to this process.

It is really easy to fall into the line of thinking that, once we reach our goal, the struggle and the work are over. Unfortunately, the weight loss industry seems to prey on this faulty thinking. Selling magic pills or extreme boot camps or unsustainable diets gives the illusion that being healthy is all about reaching a goal weight. There is almost NEVER talk about maintenance or what happens after the after the photo or creating an (unending) lifestyle. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not and whether we are talking about exercise or personal or career goals, there is no real end. You reach a goal (and that IS amazing) but then you keep on going. You stay consistent. You do the work and the work doesn’t end. Because that is life. Life is an ever-evolving process. So, stop worrying so much about the end point or the goal or the dress size and just focus on right now because this illusion of an “end” is never going to come. All you have is today and today IS the process. If you are living a happy healthy life through the process, you ARE meeting your goal. Boom!

3. You are going to fail.

Yep. You are going to fail. I have failed. You have failed. We all fail. We fail at making it to the gym. We fail at parenting. We fail at our jobs. We fail ourselves. We fail our friends. We fail our family. I would go as far to say that failure is one of the few guarantees in life. That may seem like a bleak outlook, but let me ask you, have you ever met anyone who never failed at anything? I can’t name a single person I know who hasn’t experienced some type of failure in their life.  Can I give you a new way to look at failure? I propose that failing is one of the greatest opportunities in life. It is in failure that we learn the most about our resiliency. Failure is not about the actual failing, it’s about what you take away from it. It is about getting up as fast as you can. You live, you learn, you move on. Also, please know that if you’re not failing, then you are probably not trying. Those who risk nothing, gain nothing. Lastly, when you do inevitably fail, don’t get stuck in that spot. Don’t define yourself by your failures. Get right back up and try again. Define yourself by your resiliency!

So, if you fall into the mind trap that other people are better than you and that is why they are able to live their dreams, let me ask you “how is that working for you?”

If, when you reach a goal, you go right back to your old habits, let me ask you again “how is that working for you?”

And, lastly, if you constantly beat yourself up for failing, I’m going to ask you one more time “how is that working for you?!”

Dr. Phil and Dr. Kylie (okay, I am not an actual doctor) are here to let you know that you can change your life through your thoughts. You can achieve your goals. And you can hear and learn from harsh truths.

Ninjas Can Be Human Too

So. . .you did it again? You went into a holiday with the best of intentions. You woke up and ate a sensible breakfast. You drank a ton of water. You may even have gotten in a workout. (Kudos to you!) You walked out the door decked out in your red, white and blue with the salad you offered to bring in tow. The idea being that you would bring something healthy to help avoid what I like to call the Trifecta of D’s. . .dips, desserts and drinks (And I’m not talking about LaCroix.) You literally were setting yourself up for complete success. You were like a patriotically dressed ninja of self-control, good decision-making and you were prepared to battle any temptations that stood in your way with your stealth-like new healthy habit ways. I mean you were just short of wielding a sword and wearing a bandanna. . .or maybe you were wearing a bandanna, as they are totally on-trend this season. So, you were basically a fashionable salad wielding ninja whispering “Bring it, Fourth of July,” as you dramatically tied your bandanna around your head.

Then your ninja-ass got to the party and all that ninja crap went right out the window! You loosened your bandanna, set down your nutrient-rich salad and you PAR-TAYED!!!  It may have started out slowly. A scoop of dip here, a little nibble of dessert there. “Okay, I’ll just have one glass of rose.” And, the next thing you know, you are in this wine-induced trance of eating ALL THE THINGS! French onion dip. Mini-weiners. Baked Brie. A cheese burger. . .with a hot dog. And chips, more chips. “How could you have forgotten how GOOD chips are?!” And, nothing compliments chips than more dip. Aaaaaall the cream cheese, all the processed meats, they are tasting divine now that you are on your fourth glass of wine. And, if you have already eaten jalapeno poppers and whatever those things were in the little wrapped up crescent rolls (I think they had bacon). . .why not indulge in dessert too! One brownie. Two brownies. Oooh, who brought stuff to make s’mores?! WOOO HOOOO!

And then you wake up the next morning.

You are slightly sick to your stomach. Okay, totally sick to your stomach. You don’t even know what really happened. And it’s not because of the rose. You were gonna be so good. . .how did things go so bad.? You feel bad. You feel awful, in fact. You are cursing the onion dip and you are cursing yourself for not having any self-control. What happened to that health ninja who was going to show off her new stealthy skills to her friends and family?! You are disgusted with yourself and ashamed and you have a feeling that you are going to spend most of the day, either on the toilet or on the couch. You feel like a total failure. You are a failure of a ninja!

Woah, woah, woah! Let me just stop you there! What you are experiencing is, not only a massive food hangover (and possibly a real hangover), this my friends, is what is called a shame spiral. And, let me be the one to tell you, you do NOT need to take a ride down that twisty turny little jerk. Shame spirals happen. But they only gain their strength if you decide to ride them long enough. Shame spirals are damaging little suckers. They tell you “you had one bad day, so maybe you should just screw the rest of the week” or “you thought you were over your food issues, but you are worse than ever” or (most damaging of all) “you can’t do anything right.” Shame keeps us stuck and is unproductive and toxic!

I propose a better solution to going rogue on a holiday and then beating yourself up afterwards. How about you use it as a learning experience? How about you ask yourself a difficult question? What about holidays and parties and birthdays and work happy hours, etc. makes you go completely off the rails? And truly answer this. Maybe it’s a bit of social anxiety. Maybe you are eating to please those around you. Maybe you are scared you will offend the host. Or, maybe just maybe, you don’t quite feel ready to step out as the new bad ass ninja of health that you are becoming. Maybe it is just too intimidating to say no in social situations. Maybe you are afraid that you will no longer be perceived as fun or laid-back or care-free.

This isn’t an exercise in self-criticism, this is a time for reflection and a new level of awareness. Just know, all of these feelings are completely normal, a part of the process and OKAY. What is not okay is staying in this place of mini-weiner dog hangover despair. So, what you’re gonna do is go dust off that red bandanna you wore on the Fourth. You’re going to, once again, dramatically tie it around your head and you are going to ninja your way to the kitchen and eat a healthy, balanced meal. You will NOT punish yourself by not eating or spending a day sweating out taco dip at the gym. Real ninjas get right back at it after they have had an off-day. Ninjas learn from their mistakes. And ninjas know that today is always another opportunity to start over and do better. Warrior on, my dear ninja friends, warrior on.

 

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