Struggling with Fat Loss Nutrition? Here are 2 Helpful Resources

Fat Loss Articles You Should Read if You Struggle with NutritionI don’t talk a lot about nutrition here because a) I’m not a nutritionist, and b) just when I think I have it figured out, I don’t.

But Point B is actually a good one (sometimes I am sort of smart!) because, from what I’ve learned through experience and lots of reading on the subject, nobody has it figured out completely. That’s because our bodies and our hormones are constantly changing and adjusting to our environments, and that includes the foods we eat and the type of exercise we do. This becomes increasingly clear as we age (you guys, I’m gonna be 40 this year).

Point B is also why I am super wary of one-size-fits-all “weight loss” programs like Weight Watchers. (Read this awesome explanation of why Oprah is doing Weight Watchers here—it’s not why you think. Thanks to my friend Marsha for sharing it.) I did Weight Watchers several times (before I knew better pre-2009) and each time I would lose and then gain it all back.

These types of programs don’t work for long-term fat loss and body change. Why? I’ve got a couple good links for you to check out at the end…stay with me here…

Our bodies are all so different. Okay, duh, we all look different. But did you know our insides are different, too? We all have different hormonal make-ups. The way our bodies use food is unique to each of us.

I could follow Weight Watchers and eat based on their points (or whatever they’re doing now), and still be eating foods that my body stores as fat. For me, sugar (even in the form of healthy foods like starchy potatoes and brown rice, etc.) is stored mostly as fat. But that’s just me. Your body is different.

And don’t take my word for it because…well, see Point A. Here are a couple not-too-long articles to read if you have been struggling with nutrition and weight or fat loss.

Naturopathic doctor and fat loss expert Jade Teta writes about it in an article called, simply: How to Reduce Belly Fat. I have read this many times, yet I always forget. This is an area of my body I struggle with quite a bit. While I don’t have a really big belly, it’s actually not a good size for my frame, and by that I mean it’s an unhealthy size. Story fat around the organs in your mid-section can be dangerous. But that’s a post for another time. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Teta’s article:

“The single biggest influence over the levels of insulin in your body comes from the amount of starchy and sweet foods you eat. The biggest influence over cortisol has to do with stress levels which are probably most directly related to sleep quantity and quality.” source

Another great article by Dr. Teta is this one about Health Foods vs. Fat Loss Foods. It makes a great point, so check it out here: 10 Healthiest Fat Loss Foods. Here’s an excerpt:

“Healthy eating has to do with vitamin amounts, mineral concentrations, essential fat content, fiber, and phytonutrient levels. There are plenty of foods that have great nutrient profiles that are not going to help most people lose fat. These include whole grains, nuts/seeds, avocados, olives, and high fat dairy foods to name a few.” source

Both articles have helped me get back on track this week after near-constant sugar cravings last week. I hope they help you, too. 🙂

I Know How to Get Lean, but Why?

Do you know why you want to get lean?
Not me, but…someday.

The most annoying thing in the world is when your husband is right.

Am I right?! (Let me answer that: Yes.)

Ugh. What’s even worse is when my husband is right about something that has to do with ME. I mean, who does he think he is talking sense and stuff? The nerve!

Last night, we were talking about our health and fitness goals. He’s been kicking some butt being more mindful about his nutrition and moving more, and he’s making steady progress. I’m super proud of him, but…I still don’t want him to be right.

So we were chatting and I was whining about figuring out my nutrition: Why is it so hard? Why can’t my HEC (Hunger, Energy and Cravings) just be in check all the time?

(By the way, I just want to say a special thanks to my period for throwing everything off and totally messing with me. So great! I love being a girl!)

Anyway, my husband asked me why I wanted to get lean anyway. I gave him my standard answer: to get lighter and faster for running.

You know how sometimes you say something out loud and it doesn’t quite sound right? In your head, it’s totally fine. Makes total sense. But out loud…it sounds a little…off?

That’s what happened when I gave my answer. And, because my husband, annoyingly pays attention to stuff (and reads this blog–hi, hon), he then said: But you aren’t really running anymore.

Um, yeah. Okay. Good point. Touché.

I then stumbled through a few explanations about why I wanted to get lean and gain muscle, and none of them sounded super great. In fact, I’m too embarrassed to even write them down here because most of them had to do with aesthetics and my own insecurities and vanity.

The point is, he was freaking right! See? So annoying!

My “why” for getting healthy and fit is that I want to age well. I want to be healthy and strong as I get older. I want to be in good health so I can enjoy life for a long time.

But my “why” for getting lean isn’t clear. So, I will be working on figuring that out in some future posts.

I gotta get this right.

PS: Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing to win a free entry in the Snoqualmie Valley Run. The winner is: Kim! If you didn’t win, remember you can use the code MOMVSMARATHON to save 10% on your entry fee. Orca Running is also having a deal right now where you can save $20 if you sign up for the SVR and the Iron Horse Half by 5/26/16, so check that out here.

I Had Fries for Dinner…Whatever!

baseballgame2051416

My husband and I celebrated our 14-year anniversary this weekend. It was actually 11 days ago, but it was on a Wednesday. Our son went to his grandparents this weekend, so we partied.

First, we went to a fancy dinner on Friday with fancy drinks and a fancy dessert. We stayed up too late. I got up (a little later than usual) and worked out on Saturday because I’d postponed my Metabolic Prime workout due to soreness and *ahem* girl problems.

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It was a little rough, but I survived.

Then, my husband planned a fun day in the city on Saturday: lunch, a chocolate factory tour and a baseball game!

We went to this really cool Belgium pub for lunch where I was pretty sure that we were not technically cool enough to be there (it was crawling with Millennials). I had short ribs that came on a pile of fries (poutine) with a small chocolate orange stout (excellent!).

We had some time to kill before the chocolate tour and we walked around (to try to walk off some of our lunch), but unfortunately it started raining a little so it wasn’t quite as nice as it could have been. Mostly I was upset that I’d spent a good 30 minutes drying and straightening my hair that morning and now it was frizzy and huge. But guess what? We had to wear hair nets for the tour, so…

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I tried to teach him to do Blue Steel. I laughed so hard at this picture.

We ate probably an entire chocolate bar before and during the tour sampling EVERYTHING.

After the tour we drove to the stadium to look for parking and it was sparse…unless you wanted to pay $30. To park! Being cheap, and also not caring if we needed to walk more, we parked probably a good mile++ away from the stadium–in a very sketchy area, I might add–and walked.

We were still so full during the night baseball game that we just ended up having beers and sharing fries for dinner. And then we walk/jogged back to the car after the Mariners BLEW IT in the 9th. But I digress…

Here’s the deal: I weighed myself this morning. But I did so without judgment. So I’m not upset that I am 2.5 pounds more than I was on Friday. We had fun. This is not normally something we do. Thank goodness because we didn’t feel so great after eating and drinking so much.

I wouldn’t change a thing from this weekend. It was truly memorable.

baseballgame051416

 

5 Fat Loss Lifestyle Changes I am Making Immediately

I was on a roll and, unfortunately, I’m not talking about the delicious Hawaiian kind.

The past two mornings I have been kicking ass: lifting, hill sprints, chia seeds.

5 Fat Loss Lifestyle Changes to Make Immediately | Mom vs. Marathon
Feeling strong after my workout this morning.

And then yesterday afternoon fatigue hit me unexpectedly, and I would’ve thrown a little tantrum about it, but I was too tired. My HEC and SHMEC were out of checkity-check, you guys. Big time. I went in search of food, and at least I tried to eat things that were higher in protein. A chicken hot dog fixed the problem. (I pretty sure that’s the only time that’s ever been said about a chicken hot dog.)

Then I Googled adrenal fatigue. Reading through the symptoms I was like yes, yes, yes and yes and YES. Does this mean I have to stop running completely? *panic*

I was tired and now I was weepy. Yet my heart rate was up. I had to take my son to soccer practice. And, oh yeah, I’m one of the coaches.

But then I did something I never do, which was calm the eff down and be logical.

Let’s think about this: I’ve been going to sleep late and getting up early. I’ve been drinking 3-4 cups (travel mugs, actually) of coffee in the morning before even eating breakfast. And I have not been prioritizing rest and relaxation. (Real Housewives of New York before bed is not the most soothing practice. OMG, John, you guys.)

And, by the way, am I eating enough? My calories are low and the nutrients chart on MyFitnessPal has only been showing 20-30% of my daily diet as protein. That’s not enough.

Last night, I reread The Metabolic Effect Diet—specifically Chapter 3: The Metabolic Spark. I did really well following the guidelines in this book (and they aren’t that different from Metabolic Prime). But a couple points stood out to me:

  • Eat every 2-4 hours and don’t let yourself get hungry
  • Don’t skip meals or snacks

Metabolic Prime (and Jade’s other book Lose Weight Here) have changed their advice slightly on these points. ME Prime suggests going longer between meals and letting yourself feel a little hungry before you eat. But this didn’t work for me when I read LWH and it’s not working now.

Some other takeaways:

Jade writes in The Metabolic Effect Diet, “Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day because it establishes the proper hormonal fat-burning rhythms for the day.” AND THIS: “Breakfast should be consumed within the first 2 hours after waking up.”

DUDE! I’ve been waking at 5:45 and not eating till 9:30.

And then there’s this note about coffee and “sugar burners” (the book talks about how different people use more sugar or fat for fuel, or if they are someone who uses a mixed amount—I am a sugar burner). “One cup of strong caffeinated coffee before exercising can actually increase the fat-burning effects of a sugar burner’s workout.” BUT, he continues, if you drink coffee and don’t exercise, it will actually increase stress hormone production and lead to metabolic resistance. Uh oh.

5 Fat Loss Lifestyle Changes to Make Immediately | Mom vs. Marathon
Two fried eggs, 2 pieces of turkey on a bed of arugula is actually pretty tasty!

Here are some things I’m going to try:

  1. Reduce coffee intake: Have a cup before my workout, and possibly one more (cup, not travel mug) on my commute with the hope that I can eventually cut out that second cup over time (maybe green tea instead). I really like having coffee on my commute, though. This morning, before my workout, I had a lungo espresso and some water, and relaxed for 30 minutes. I did my workout at about 6:30.
  2. Eat breakfast after my morning workout: This morning I had two fried eggs with two slices of deli turkey on a bed of arugula at 7:30 (see photo above). It was delicious! Then I had my naked smoothie two hours later as a snack. I think this will help me get my calories up a bit and, hopefully, set me up for more stable energy throughout the day by getting me off to a good start.
  3. Eat every 2-3 hours: I know 4 hours is a long time for me. Trying to muscle my way between hour 3 and 4 seems to just lead to binge-eating or lots of snacking later. The snacks don’t have to be big, just high in protein and fiber.
  4. More sleep: Okay, this is recommended in ME Prime, too, but I have not been doing a good job with this. I need to be more mindful about when I’m going to bed and getting up. I got 7.5 hours last night. Going to try for 8 tonight since it’s a Friday—seems like an easy day to start on.
  5. More R&R: Yoga, baths, coloring. Going to aim for 15 minutes because I’m terrible at this and need to start small.
5 Fat Loss Lifestyle Changes to Make Immediately | Mom vs. Marathon
Post-coffee workout. Squatting and punching with 12-pound dumbbells.

Things I will continue doing, that I’ve been doing a pretty good job with:

  • Drinking a lot of water (my goal is half my weight in ounces, so about 75)
  • 3 HIIT workouts with weights per week (Metabolic Prime)
  • 2 sprint/speed/hill running workouts per week (no longer than 30 minutes)
  • 1 long slow run per week of 60-90 minutes
  • 30-60 minutes of walking per day

Hopefully, I will be kicking ass again in no time.

Should I Eat More Carbs?

Should I Eat More Carbs? (The Metabolic Effect Diet vs. Racing Weight)

Should I Eat More Carbs?
Some starchy carbs of choice.

If you eat more carbs, do you think you’ll balloon up like Violet in Willy Wonka?

Or is that just me?

One of the most important things I learned from reading THE METABOLIC EFFECT DIET and from following their blog and Metabolic Effect trainer Jill’s blog (JillFit), is that there is no “one” best way to eat to lose weight (or fat).

So when my weight won’t budge or my waist size doesn’t change for several weeks, I put on my trusty Sherlock Holmes-esque thinking cap to see if I can figure out what is causing the problem.

Last month, I was stuck at the same weight for a few weeks. At the same time, I was working out quite a bit (training for a couple half marathons and a triathlon) and increasing my endurance training. So what was the problem?

I decided I needed more information. Maybe there was something I didn’t know.

Carbs and Racing Weight

A few weeks ago, I read RACING WEIGHT by Matt Fitzgerald. A lot of what Matt had to say (especially about eating carbs) went against what I learned in Metabolic Effect’s book.

As you may know from my post about getting lean with Metabolic Effect, the authors suggest a 20- to 25-minute high-intensity weights routine 3 times per week with extensive easy walking on the other days. Running a lot/doing a lot of endurance work can be stressful on the body and can cause some people to hold on to fat (depending on a person’s hormones).

The Metabolic Effect authors also suggest eating fewer carbs for someone like me (my body more easily burns sugar instead of fat). This all makes sense to me.

Here are some important things Matt Fitzgerald, a runner, triathlete and author, says in RACING WEIGHT:

“You will perform best and attain your racing weight quickest by maintaining a high training volume relative to your personal limits, and by doing most of your training at lower intensities.”

Me: This has not been MY experience!

“Whatever you do–whether it’s cycle, run, swim, or engage in all three–you need to do it a lot.”

Me: That didn’t work for ME!

Matt also advocates endurance athletes eat more carbs to help fuel all this training. Healthy carbs, such as sweet potatoes and whole grains, of course. (RACING WEIGHT focuses on eating whole foods, as does THE METABOLIC EFFECT DIET.)

My first thought after reading RACING WEIGHT was: Shenanigans!

But, wait a second. Last fall, when I was focusing on Metabolic Effect, I wasn’t doing much endurance training. Annndddd…let’s think back to before that, when I was doing endurance training. Was I eating whole foods? Or was I negating all my training with high-calorie junk foods. (I think I was doing a little of both.)

And let’s think about this: The books are written for two different audiences!

THE METABOLIC EFFECT DIET is written for people who are solely dedicated to losing fat. They aren’t running marathons. They aren’t doing triathlons. They are mainly interested in body composition.

RACING WEIGHT is written for endurance athletes; for people interested in improving their performance. They want to get to their best weight for performance reasons.

What I Did

My conclusion after reading RACING WEIGHT and THE METABOLIC EFFECT DIET: Neither philosophy is exactly right for me.

But…a combination of the two might be.

So, since I’d added more training, I started eating more carbs. I didn’t go crazy. I just added a little more than I was already eating (which wasn’t a whole lot).

And guess what? I lost the pesky couple of pounds I’d been stuck at.

RACING WEIGHT also has some helpful information on figuring out what your ideal “racing weight” actually is.

I also liked his thoughts on the “off season.” The off season is the time to focus on weight and fat loss (for some, that means eating fewer carbs than when in training). That’s how the elites do it.

In light of my new education,  I will continue eating plenty of real foods (lean proteins and veggies), but I will also EAT MORE CARBS (aiming for real foods like sweet potatoes or brown rice, not potato chips) according to my training load.

What makes sense for you? Are you doing a lot of endurance training? Could you possible need to eat MORE carbs?