Posts tagged ‘nutrition’

Day 12 – I Am Inspired To Accept The Things I Cannot (& Can) Change

There is a lot about ourselves that we can change – our weight, body fat percentage and to some extent our shape. But there are some things we simply can’t change – no matter how much we try. I will never be taller and I’ll never have longer legs. I will always have a round Eastern European looking face. I will always have blue eyes and brown hair (ok, I could probably change those two with a good dye job and some fake contacts, but you get the idea…). And I can’t change my curvy shape, even at my leanest – I will have round hips.

Regardless though of what we are aiming to transform and what we are stuck with, the first step in having the body we really, really want is acceptance.  We need to accept the imperfections, the parts that are too big or too small, the things that are too round or too flat – all of it. The stuff we are working to make different and the stuff that barring plastic surgery, will stay the same. We need to accept the good stuff too – the little parts about us that we do love and that make us unique.

Accepting ourselves – flaw and all – is freeing, and it’s honest. It doesn’t allow us to hide from anything and it doesn’t allow us to be scared of anything. It’s all jus there, waiting for you to love it. Yes, even the bad parts need love too. It’s the only way to make them our friend, our partner in transformation – rather than the enemy.  If we come at our parts that need improvement having already accepted them, change is possible. If we don’t, we are constantly generating nasty, negative feelings which do not help us reach our goals.

I’ve realized lately that the body parts I’m not satisfied with are the parts that I obsess about and at the same time ignore. If you’ve been following this blog you know the body part that bums me out is, well, my bum.

It’s the thing that gives me the most angst when I have buy new jeans and it’s the body part I always feel like I need to work on. My bum, or more appropriately my gluts, are also the most ignored part of my musculature. Despite their size, they are weak. I compensate with my hamstrings, low back and hip flexors – letting my gluts totally off the hook. It’s almost like there’s no neurological energy left to fire the damn things cuz I’ve used it all up hating their shape.

Perhaps it’s time to send them a little more love. Or at least stop the constant negative input.

Booty, I love and accept you…just the way you are.

I’m not going to stop working on them. I’m still eating for fat loss and doing my physical therapy, targeting my workouts for glut and quad strength, trying to walk with better form (even when just running around town) and of course, stretching my ridiculously tight hamstrings by doing yoga. But instead of looking in the mirror and feeling dread or reaching down and feeling the roundness of my hips, I’m gonna try sending my bum a better message. Perhaps now we can stop fighting and be on the same team.

There’s inevitably  stuff we want to change about ourselves and our body, but whether the first step in change is getting a really honest look at the stuff we aren’t happy with and accepting it, too big or not, flaws and all. Negativity doesn’t melt fat away, if anything it perpetuates the disappointment, upset and downright digust for those parts we just want to change.

Booty, we’re in it together now…I promise to be nicer.

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December 13, 2010 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

Day 12 – I Am Grateful For Not Taking Myself So Serious

I am a recovering control freak. I say recover-ing because I am hardly recover-ed…I’ve got a long ways to go. I hold on to everything too tight and it’s solidified my role as the girl who’s always stressing out.

I think I’ve been this way since I was about 5, but it got so much worse when I was at Bastyr.

The stress I put myself under as I tried to do 3 programs was just insane and my reserves were already low after undergrad, pharmacy school and a divorce. Oh, somewhere in that blur there was an emergency surgery for a terrible infection after a miscarriage.  Instead of taking a bit of time off and getting myself together, I thought “32 credits per quarter? For 5 and a half years? Bring it on.” As if the work load wasn’t enough I thought I’d get myself into a situation that was a little more like a roller coaster than a relationship – you know, just for a little more stress. I can do it, right?

The harder I tried to control it the more I lost my grip. My sleep suffered, my complexion was a teenager’s worst nightmare (and I was 25!), my period would come and go every other week, then disappear for several months, and I cried a lot.  I was miserable.

Yet it never occurred to me to back off, take things a little slower and take better care of myself.  I pushed and pushed (if you’ve been following this blog you’ll notice this is a pattern of mine!) and lived in fear of losing control of it all.  Simply put, I had a lot to prove: that I could do it all.

I’d show up at the gym after an hour of sleep, 12 hours of class and workout completely on empty. It was ridiculous and not very healthy.  Then, I’d come home, make food for the next day, study and try to sleep, but could only toss and turn. Then I’d get up and do it again, all the while feeling like I was failing. But I had to do it all…..right?

Standard pose for us: Joe being goofy and me rolling my eyes.

Some days you can’t – and shouldn’t – do it all. It’s taken me until 35 to realize this and I have a lot of help from my in-house clown.  I’ve always taken life – and myself – way too seriously, thinking I had to have to get it all done perfectly and preferably ahead of time.  This has lead to hours of anxiety and beating myself up because sometimes you simply can’t do it all and we need to let that be OK (talking to myself here!).

Living with a comedian is fun, but I can be frustrating. I will be trying to have a serious conversation about picking up the dirty laundry and of course, he’s making a joke – yes, at my expense.  And he’s right, we should all be laughing a little more and stressing a little less…especially about laundry.

This will probably be a battle I fight for the rest of my life – I think I’m hard wired to go, go, go – but I’m grateful that I’m learning to laugh at myself more and not take myself quite so seriously. Thanks Joe.

November 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm Leave a comment

Day 9 – I Am Grateful For What I’ve Got

It’s been so interesting to see the immense amount of feedback I’ve had from this project and although I typically think I’m writing for my patients and readers of Ultimate You, the other day I got an email from one of my best friends from college.  She’s been following the posts on Facebook.

We were inseparable for years. This is the girl I not only had a ton of fun with, but the girl I ran with, took aerobics with and bitched about my thighs with.

What she said to me in the email is something I think every day – damn, I wish I would’ve appreciated the body I had in my early 20s! At the time it didn’t seem nearly good enough, but I look back and think that I looked great…..why didn’t’ I just enjoy that?

I’ve probably had body image issues since I was young, but they really kicked into high gear when I got to college. I grew up in a small town and at a big Pac 10 school I was suddenly a tiny little fish in a very big pond. Couple that with being at an age where I was a total stranger to myself and I ended up feeling pretty insecure and spent a lot of time (time I probably should’ve been studying!) worrying about how I looked.

But you know what? I look back at photos from that time and I can’t believe how hard on myself I was. Here in my mid thirties, I wonder: will I feel the same when I look back at 35 from 45? Well chances are…

Well as of today, I refuse to spend the next 10 years bashing this or that about my body – what a fantastic waste of energy. I feel confident that I know exactly how to eat and how to exercise to be in great shape, the harder battle for me is not let body image issues rule my life, to be present in the process and to not miss out on life for an extra trip to the gym.

So while my thighs still are my trouble spot, I no longer utter the insanely ridiculous things we did while stretching after a run “I’d love the shape of my legs if I could just cut off my inner thigh….” True story.  Sad, but true story.

I’m definitely not saying that I won’t continue to work on those inner thighs but I’m not feeling like crap about them anymore and I haven’t thought of lopping off any body parts lately.

I definitely do not subscribe to the idea that we have to get old, flabby and fall totally apart, but I’ve decided to be grateful for what I’ve got because as we all know keeping lean and toned up just gets harder as we get older.

She also thanked me for being so honest with these posts – and I’ll admit the honesty part was a little scary at first but the truth is I’m just like my readers and my patients: a real woman, in the real world trying to do my best and feel good more often than not. And none of us should be afraid of the truth.

So Lori, thanks for the email! It was so nice to hear from you and I am so grateful to know that this project is making a difference for women.

November 9, 2010 at 5:46 pm Leave a comment

Pumpkin – A Perfect Carb

Fall is my favorite season…but pumpkin is one of my favorite carb choices year round. 

This antioxidant rich winter squash is full of potassium, as well as vitamins C, K and E. It’s low cal and with only about 13net carbs (7g fiber) it’s a Dr Brooke and Ultimate You optimal carb choice.  While ¼-1/3 cup (i.e. 4-6 bites) of pumpkin with a dash of cinnamon are a quick and easy carb paired with any meal, below are some yummy, interesting ways to enjoy pumpkin.

Canned pumpkin is the easiest but if you’re up for it roasting your own is always an option. If you roast your own you can make yet another healthy, delicious, on plan food: roasted pumpkin seeds.

To roast, remove seeds from pumpkin and pull away any remaining pulp.  Spread out on brown paper bag overnight to dry.  To bake, preheat oven to 160-170 degrees and toss pumpkin seeds in 1-2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp sea salt.  Add a dash of cayenne, chipotle or black pepper if desired.  Spread evenly on cookie sheet (spray cookie sheet lightly with olive oil) and bake 15-20 minutes.  Baking at this low heat of 170 degrees you’ll preserve the healthy fats in the seeds.  

Pumpkin seeds are a crunchy, tasty addition to salads or stirfrys and a small handful make a quick snacks and they are loaded with zinc. Zinc is great for the immune system, for perfect skin and for a healthy sex drive…so eat up!

Protein Pumpkin Muffins

15 oz canned or cooked pumpkin

½ cup egg whites

2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

½ cup chopped walnuts

3 scoops whey

4 packets Truvia or ¼ cup honey  (if not following low carb)

1.25 cups almond flour or hazelnut flour (I mix the two)

Mix all ingredients in bowl, bake at 350 for 20minutes.

These make an excellent snack and perfect when you are on the go – and they freeze easily so make a bunch!

Pumpkin Coconut Curry (Sound strange? It is sooo yummy!)

4 chicken breasts, diced

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 small purple onion

3 cloves garlic

2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped

1 can pumpkin or 15 oz cooked pumpkin

2 cans coconut milk

3.5 tbsp xylitol or brown sugar

1 tsp salt

2-5 tbsp red curry powder

 2tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tbsp cinnamon

Dash cayenne pepper, optiona 

Chop small purple onion and garlic finely or puree in food processor and set aside.  In small saucepan combine coconut milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, xylitol or brown sugar, and red curry paste to taste (start with 1-2 tbsp and add more to get desired spiciness).  Bring to boil then simmer for 5-10 minutes, reducing volume. 

When sauce has cooked for at least 5 minutes, add coconut oil, garlic, onion and chicken to large pan. Cook over medium to high heat until chicken is nearly completely cooked.  Next, add pumpkin-coconut milk mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes and then serve over a few handfuls of baby spinach.

Perfectly on Plan Pumpkin Custard

¼ cup canned or cooked pumpkin

1.5 tbsp low fat ricotta

Xylitol and cinnamon to taste

Put all ingredients in small bowl and mix – yum! Makes a great snack or dessert.

Pumpkin Pie Recovery Shake

1 scoop whey protein powder

½ cup canned or cooked pumpkin

1 tsp cinnamon

Xyltiol or truvia to taste, if desired

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Mix all ingredients in blender and drink within 1 hour post workout. A great departure from berries in your shake!

October 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm Leave a comment

Black and White, Meet Gray

This perhaps doesn’t  apply to us all….but it applies to nearly every woman that sits across the desk from me at my office. Black or white. On or off. All or nothing. I want results and I want them now.

Much of the time we are either turned on 110%, giving our all on a plan or we are feeling out of control and way off track. We go, go, go; restrict, restrict, restrict; exercise, exercise, exercise – this usually gives some quick results, which we love! But then….then we hit the wall, often landing head first in a pint of ice cream.

This radical on and off mentality sets us up for the dreaded – yet oh so popular – yo-yo dieting. We work our tails off – literally – and lose 10 pounds only to gain back 15.  By the time we come to and realize we’ve not only hit the wall, but bounced back off it farther than where we started in the first place, the guilt sets in, followed by a bit of panic.

We rush out to buy a new workout DVD, hire a new trainer, or end up at Barnes and Noble rifling through the heaped table of weight loss books – all promising the latest and greatest in fat loss. We’re feeling anxious, even a little desperate to get back on track – usually blaming the last regimen we tried, thinking it failed us.

Perhaps it’s not a flawed nutrition plan or an ineffective workout regimen, but maybe it’s our harsh black and white palette that’s messing us up. Rather than on and off like a light bulb, think of your health and fitness as being on a dimmer switch. A dimmer can be turned up or down depending on your goals and state of mind, and it doesn’t ever have to be ON or OFF.  This is the gray between black and white.

Some of you may have mastered the art of gray and know how to use your dimmer switch. You’ve found a middle ground that keeps you on track to your body comp goals over the long haul – for the rest of us, life is colored starkly in black or white and we swing abruptly between them.

When we are on, we are way on – but when we are off, we can get way off. We over exercise and end up injured or exhausted. We restrict our “treat foods” so much that we end up binging on them.  We view a single cookie as a sin, but end up eating the whole bag eventually. And then comes the guilt…which can bring on even more binges or just more bad feelings.

This black and white attitude is not only bad for us emotionally, it seriously wreaks havoc on our hormones. Strict dieting, especially followed by a binge, sends a very mixed message to hormones like leptin that regulate hunger, and hormones like insulin that regulate fat storage. And let’s not forget our sex hormones – progesterone often wanes during strict dieting causing our periods to get light or stop all together.

Cortisol is yet another hormone that gets perturbed when we strictly diet or over-exercise. A rising cortisol can cause us to stall or “hit a plateau”. If you’re already burnt out from stress or a past history of yo-yo dieting, a very restrictive phase can really affect blood sugar causing you to have serious carb cravings or it can give a wicked case of insomnia (Remember, cortisol breaks down stored fuel to raise blood sugar between meal and during the night. When your adrenals are sluggish your cortisol reserves can be low, meaning you have to rely on adrenaline to keep your blood sugar stable while you sleep. If you need a burst of adrenaline during the night guess what? You wake up and have a hard time going back to sleep.)  

Shades of Gray

Gray is a mix of black and white.  Gray means better hormonal balance, less anxiety, less feelings of restriction and less guilt from falling off the wagon –  what it doesn’t mean is no results.  When I first meet with a patient and we discuss their goals I often ask them how important this is to them, what their level of commitment is and how soon they want results.  They typically respond with: “It’s a 10 of 10 – or even a 12 or 10! I want all you’ve got – diet, exercise, supplements – everything and I want results NOW!”

How many times have we jumped on board with a new book or a new plan and did great for a few months? Seriously, how many times???? If it’s more than once then what you did wasn’t sustainable and didn’t  give you lasting results.  It’s not to say that that particular plan was full of poor advice or that it didn’t work – but perhaps you went into the plan 110% and “blacked out”, so to say, and next ended up all “white washed” and totally off the wagon and most likely back to many of your old habits.

You’re not alone. Even my youngest patients, even 20 year old women, have tried at least one diet in the past and yet here we all are again – looking for the next, best way to shed pounds.

Learn to Use Your Dimmer Switch

Don’t black out. Pick a plan and incorporate 1-3 habits per week. Master them and then move on – trying to do everything at once is usually too overwhelming. For example, start eating a protein based breakfast everyday or figure out how to order out a healthy lunch. Or even drink more water.

Don’t white wash. When you get off track it doesn’t have to be a total disaster! You are one meal away, one workout away, even one positive thought about your body away from being back on plan. So you ate the bagel, don’t have it with a side of guilt and self defeat – have it with some lox to balance out the insulin response and get right back on track.

Guilt is optional in the gray zone.  Life will happen, you won’t be perfect everyday – but self correcting and not letting the guilt set in will help keep a bad meal or even a bad day from turning to weeks or months off plan.

Sometimes your gray will be darker than other times, you’ll be move motivated and supported and find it easier to make progress. When it lightens up, don’t panic and don’t feel guilty – if you are ready to get back on track, go for it. If you aren’t, find the gray zone that feels maintainable for now rather than holding on so tight to the idea that you have to be perfectly on plan that you lose your grip and drift away.

Know when you have the stamina to turn up the heat.  When you are ready for a big push towards your goal, be sure you are feeling healthy, injury free and supported before you jump in.

If you struggle with stamina on a plan, know when it’s a good time to start. Maybe planning to lose 20 pounds between Halloween and Christmas isn’t feasible for you, but losing 10 pounds and having 12 new habits by the New Year might be. 

BETTER Body Thoughts:

Ugh! I ate ______ , I might as well just start again next week!

BETTER: Ok, I ate _____ and that was a temptation for me because _______.  One off plan food doesn’t make or break anything – a week of plan will so I’m recommitted as of RIGHT NOW.

I wasn’t perfect this week, I missed workouts and didn’t eat well; this will never work so why bother.

BETTER: I did do _______ and _______ this week and I’ll continue to do those and include ______ next week. Doing something for my health is better than nothing – good habits build upon themselves. 

For example: I did get 3 workouts (but aimed for 6) and I got plenty of sleep this week. Next week I will schedule my workouts in like appointments to be sure they happen and I will drink more water.

October 13, 2010 at 11:33 pm 2 comments

How Does It Feel To Be Called Fat?

Well it doesn’t feel good. I can attest to that.  

Recently on Amazon.com I got slammed for being too fat to have written an effective fat loss program in Ultimate You. It was upsetting of course, and I’ll admit, it was one of my biggest fears come true.   

I’m no athlete and I’m no model, so being part of the experts in the fitness community, at times I felt a little out of place. I’m a regular woman who eats well and workouts regularly….and I’ve had my share of body image issues. 

I’m only 5’3″ and have complained about my legs being too short. I’m curvy and have done my time hating my booty. And thanks to my Czech background, I’ve got a very round face and the cheeks to go with it. 

As I’ve grown from a girl into a woman, I’ve laid to rest most of my body image issues and reveled in the fact that I can lift weights with the boys, do a few pull-ups and have even come to appreciate the shape my curves give me. But I’ll admit, when I read “…the fat neck and cheeks of Dr. Kalanick…” – all those issues came flooding back. 

Now, maybe you’ve never had your issues called out on the World Wide Web, but most of us at one time or another has been the victim of someone’s nastiness – whether their words were true or not, it feels like crap.  
 
You can shrug it off and say “They are a jerk, so what”.  But let’s be honest, the biggest trash talk usually comes from our own heads.  Fat neck? Ha! What an amateur. I’ve probably done better than that in the last hour or so.  

So why can we look at what someone else says and see clearly that being nasty is…well, nasty, and not see our own thoughts so clearly? The nasty, negative chatter in our own minds is often so mean we wouldn’t utter it out loud to our worst enemy – and we really need to knock it off. 

But it’s on autoplay, it’s hard to stop and often when we get a handle on it and we’re feeling good something happens to trigger it all again. Our therapists will tell us, it’s been there for a long time – since childhood probably – and our adult relationships and experiences just add layer upon layer to our unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs about ourselves and our bodies. And let’s not forget the ever popular villain: the media. Most women feel they don’t or can’t measure up to images of the female body they see on TV and in magazines. But guess what ladies? I work with a number of these women and they have body issues too. 

Sowhat gives? Why are we all (or at least most of us) walking around most days hating this or that about our thighs or our bellies? Blame it on culture or the media or our mothers – but we’ve got a lot of hatin’ going on! 

The truth for me is that when Ultimate You was released I was in the best shape I’d ever been in, so to hear those comments about how I looked was very frustrating. But then I thought about it – was I feeling happy and completely satisfied with my body during that time? Well, yes I was happy with my body then but I’m not going to lie, I’d catch a glimpse of a trouble spot like the back of my thigh and think “ugh!”  And there would be days when those thoughts or the pressure I put on myself to look a certain way would get the best of me – and you know what? It’s BS. For most women our bodies are a work in progress, and that’s exactly what we do – we work on them. 

We work at the gym, we work to order a salad instead of a sandwich at a restaurant, we work when we pass up the dessert tray, we work not have another cocktail when we’ve gone out for just “a drink”. We work and we work – and most of the time it feels like just that: a lot of work.

How often do you order the salad with chicken instead of the slice of pizza for lunch and feel overwhelmed with contentment, satisfaction and joy (yeah, I’m using salad and joy in the same sentence)? With each bite you feel more and more satisfied knowing you’re eating something so good for you. Its fiber is filling up your tummy and aiding digestion, its nutrients reacting away in biochemical pathways, and the protein is balancing out your blood sugar so your cravings stay on an even keel. It’s sort of amazing actually – but how often do we feel it was easy and effortless to make the choice to feed ourselves very well?

How about at the gym – are you at the gym putting in your time, much like serving a jail sentence? Or are you there feeling powerful, strong, healthy and filled with self love when you catch a glimpse of your muscles in the mirror.

I am working on a new project called Nourishing Women (I’m working with some truly amazing women – these smart, strong ladies and their PhDs can bench more than some boys I know!). Since being asked to contribute, that word “nourish” has been stuck in my mind….nourish….hum…how often do any of us feel nourished by what we eat?

When we’re eating to lose weight or even to be healthy, we often feel confined or controlled by a plan – or there’s my favorite: “Dr Brooke is making me.”.  We’re usually not chewing on a mouthful of baked salmon thinking, “wow, I feel so nourished by this food.”.  Nourish is a good word, so is cherish.  How many of us cherish our bodies?  Cherish is defined as:  to treat with affection and tenderness; to hold dear.  How often do we act in ways that “hold ourselves dear?”

Eating healthfully, exercising regularly, committing to a weight loss goal – these are all wonderful things to do for ourselves, but if we are looking in the mirror, noticing every flaw and thinking critical thoughts everyday, well that’s not healthy – no matter what you weigh. 

So instead of just trudging it out at the gym or managing to somehow stomach some steamed veggies, try nourishing and cherishing yourself. While you’re doing that, I’ll be reminding myself that like most women, my body is a work in progress. Like yours, my journey to the perfect body goes on and on, and I can love myself on that journey, nourish myself, be healthy and not give in to nasty comments – including those in my own head – or dwell on the opinion of someone who clearly doesn’t cherish me. But you know what? That’s ok. It’s not their job to cherish me, it’s mine. 

And it’s yours – so while you’re working on creating your Ultimate You, love yourself a bit…it can’t hurt! 

Try these simple steps to start having more positive thoughts about your body: 

*List 3-5 things you love about your body, such as your smile, your skin, your feet, your biceps – anything. When you catch yourself having a negative thought about something you aren’t satisfied with yet, rattle of these things you like. You still had the nasty thought, but you can turn your attitude around with reminding yourself of the things you do like about you. 

*Stay focused on the process and appreciate the little goals.  If you can do a pushup now where you couldn’t before – that’s something to feel great about. If you’ve lost 2 pounds – well it may not be the 10 pounds you want to lose, but it is something and you did accomplish it.  Start each day listing all the things you’ve accomplished in your mind while you brush your teeth. 

*See yourself in your perfect body.  If you’ve been at your ideal weight and size, pull out a picture and place it on the fridge, bathroom mirror, car dashboard or somewhere else where you’ll see it every day.  If you have no idea what your perfect body looks like, just spend some time imaging it.  The more clearly you can see yourself in the body you want the more easily it will start to happen – thoughts do matter.  Thinking about your perfect body doesn’t make it appear overnight but it will help you feel better about yourself and your current body as you work your way towards it.  Spend at least 30 minutes a day (doesn’t have to be all in a row) seeing your fit, healthy, perfect body in your mind’s eye. And the sooner you can start to be the woman with that body, the sooner that body will show up. After all what does the woman with that perfect body do? She works out, she eats lots of veggies and protein and I’d venture to guess that she cherishes herself.

September 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm 19 comments

What If We Took Compliance Out of the Equation?

And What Can We Learn From Bodybuilders About Losing Fat? 

You may think you have nothing to learn from these hulks and hulkettes. Many react to that particular physique with, “um, I would never want to look like that”. But let’s face it – body builders, or figure athletes, know how to lose body fat! And that’s something we’d all like to hear a little more about. 

A friend and colleague of mine, Matt McGorry, recently competed in his first body building competition (which by the way – he won!). I sat down with Matt and talked with him about his experience of losing 35 pounds and 12% body fat in about 4 months – which is no small feat, even for someone who was already considered fit. Impressive…but what can us regular folks learn from what these competitors go through to shed fat? 

How did you commit 110% to this goal? When I asked this, Matt didn’t hesitate one bit with this answer: “I knew I needed a good reason to do it. The reason to do it needs to justify the commitment, the hard work and the sacrifice it will take to pull it off….it had to be worth it.” 

Are you committed whole heartedly to leaning up? Or is it a ho-hum attempt that you think about off and on during the week – as in “I meant to hit the gym 5 times this week, oh well”.  Is your goal clear and measurable? Or vague, such as “I want to lose weight”? Instead of a clear, measurable goal with a deadline such as “I will lose 130 pounds by July 4th.“. This type of goal allows you to know exactly where you are going, sets mileposts along the way and also, you know it will end….and then you’ll get to have a piece of pizza. 

Many of us think we are committing whole heartedly – and in the moment we probably are. Tuesday morning at my office you’re on board 110%, but come Happy Hour on Friday evening you’re 110% committed to unwinding with several cocktails. Next, your buzz leads you to make less that optimal dinner choices and your Saturday-morning-low-blood-sugar-brain has a one track mind: pancakes.

What is your reason for wanting to lean up and lose weight? It better be something good or it won’t be worth ordering a soda water when your friends are on their fourth drink or eating an on-plan meal before you head out to socialize so you aren’t tempted to get off track. 

Your reason can be whatever you want – but it needs to drive you. It needs to be something worth getting up at 6am to workout for, worth passing up the cookies at a co-worker’s birthday party and worth that effort it takes to drag yourself to the gym on those crazy busy days where it’s 9pm and its either go to bed or keep your commitment to working out that day. 

While losing fat might seem like one isolated aspect of your life, the discipline and fortitude it takes to achieve that goal will bleed into every other area – and people notice. Matt figured this goal would not only make him a better trainer, open up new acting roles, but also demonstrate to everyone that he had what it takes to be incredibly disciplined. 

Set your goal, give it a deadline, get some coaching or help on how to pull it off – then go for it! Do everything you can to achieve it – because honestly, if you do all you can and don’t achieve it you won’t be too bummed out. You will still have lost a lot of fat – even if it wasn’t all that you’d planned on. Disappointment will only come from looking back saying, “if only I wouldn’t have cheated those few times” or “if only I wouldn’t have done only 8 sprints when I was supposed to do 10”. Matt’s goal was to be compliant with his diet and exercise and keep his word to himself that he would do his absolute best – not to win a body building competition. In the end, that was just a bonus. 

With 16 weeks of strict diet and exercise, weren’t you temped to cheat?  Matt was so committed that he did not cheat once during his 16 week prep time. He didn’t sneak even one extra bite of food, nor did he miss even one minute of exercise.  He told me, “I didn’t want to be the kind of person who cheats or sells myself short”. To keep on track he focused on the fact that it was a short term goal – 16 weeks. After that he would not have to be so strict. He used other short term goals as well – like counting the days until his cheat meal and counting the minutes until the end of his cardio session. 

These little goals – even if it was “hey, I’ve done 30 minutes and I’ve got 30 minutes left” – kept him from feeling overwhelmed. Focusing on what you can do right now, in this moment, to get you closer to the goal keeps the bigger picture from becoming too daunting. Everyday make several little, good decisions and they will add up.  

Matt also did something a little scary for most of us – he told everyone what he was doing. He told his clients, other trainers and everyone else what his goal was.  This kept him accountable and got him in pretty deep, he said. “I couldn’t really throw in the towel on the frustrating days because I’d committed not only to myself, but to everyone around me that I was doing this.” Sharing his big goal also garnered some unexpected praise. Everyone who watched Matt go through his contest prep felt inspired by his determination and hard work…and it made several of us wonder just how far we could push ourselves. Matt never set out to inspire or gain more respect, but he certainly felt when it started to happen.  Another bonus. 

But what if you do “cheat”? Just shrug it off and get back on track – don’t let it derail you by beating yourself up over it. It’s done so now troubleshoot why it happened, try to avoid it in the future and get back to business.

I can hear you all now: Matt is a personal trainer….it would be much harder for me to lose 35 pounds. To be honest, losing 35 pounds would’ve been easier for some of you – and harder for some of you. Matt will be the first person to tell you that he loves junk food and can remember a time when it was rare for him to go a whole day without some sort of “treat”. However, he has been working on creating the discipline and building upon his nutrition knowledge for years, “This contest was like the sprint at the end of a marathon”.  

And although he is in the fitness profession and is a competitive power lifter, he’s had a harder time losing fat than his friends or fellow trainers – so he knew he’d have to work for it. He began using a nutrition coach over a year before he took on this project, so he’d cultivated a lot of habits that made this restrictive diet plan doable. “My aim was to be the best client ever. I did everything my nutrition coach asked me to do and it was amazing to see what was possible when I took compliance out of the equation.”

What if we could all do that? Not forever, but let’s say for just 16 weeks. What if for the next 16 weeks you completely adhered to your exercise and nutrition plan? No missed workouts, no unhallowed carbs, not one sip of alcohol….for just 16 weeks? What about just 8 weeks? What would be possible in your health and physique if “not doing what you needed to do” wasn’t an option? It’s something to think about, huh? 

And here come the Big Buts: But I have a job. But I have a child. But I am too busy. Yes it’s true that Matt didn’t have a toddler to chase after and he does work at a gym….but let’s not ignore everything he had to give up to do this. His show was in January, which meant he went through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s…without cheating. He packed his chicken breast and carefully measured serving of brown rice to Thanksgiving dinner. He attended multiple Christmas parties sipping water or diet soda and staying away from even a taste of holiday cheer or holiday cookies. 

I asked Matt what it was like to have to give up so much: “It was miserable at times. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I knew it wasn’t forever and I had committed so much in the beginning that blowing it was not an option. I wanted to be successful more than I wanted to cheat.” 

How do you pull off something that takes so much time, stamina and hard work? Matt simply made it work – he did what he needed to do to get to his goal. Troubleshooting is the key and here’s a few of the things he did to make it work: 

            *Part of his workout regimen was hour long fasting walks on the treadmill, 7 days per week – tedious and boring. So he bought himself a portable DVD player to make it more bearable and said “it was probably the best money I’ve ever spent”.

Do what you need to do to make it work. Figure out another day of childcare, cut back on an hour of TV, solve your insomnia problem so you can get up and get to the gym in the morning – whatever it is get it handled! And of course ask for help if you need it.

            *Matt only ate out at a restaurant one time during the 16 weeks, which meant taking the time to grocery shop, cook and pack up meals – everyday. It does take a bit of time, but cooking for yourself keeps your diet very clean and yields amazing results.

           *One of the things that kept Matt from diving head first into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s was sticking to his meal schedule. Eating smaller, more frequent meals keeps you from getting too hungry and being left with only will power to get you through. Also, always having a meal with you means never having to either eat off plan or be left feeling famished.

            *Schedule, schedule, schedule! You schedule in important meetings and a haircut appointment right? Why treat your meals and workouts with any less importance? Set aside time to shop for and prep your health meals as well as time at the gym – then stick to it.

            *Keep your word to yourself. You said you’d get in 6 workouts this week and here we are at weeks end with only 4 done. What to do? Get them in. Consider a strength training workout in the morning or a fasted walk, and then an interval cardio session later that day. This isn’t ideal, but it keeps your promise.

Because Matt did this over the holidays, he wasn’t only up against holiday junk food but holiday gym hours. Some days because of shorter open hours, he hit the treadmill for his 60minutes of walking, gobble down a meal and 2 hours later was back at the gym for a weight training session.

So what can we learn from Matt’s experience and apply it TODAY to our fat loss goals?

*Commit fully to your goal. Make a solid, clear goal – with a deadline, and have a reason important enough to you that it matches the sacrifice and commitment.

*Share what you’re up to. This will give you support from others around you, keeps you accountable and before you know it you’ll probably inspire someone else to get healthier.

*Prep and pack your meals with you. Spend a little time each week cooking up chicken breasts, chopping up veggies for quick salads or stir-frys – or whatever it takes to have quick, healthy, fat-loss-supportive foods on hand so you can’t use the excuse “but I was exhausted and had nothing healthy to eat” or the all too common “I went out with a friend, was starving, and made terrible choices only to feel sluggish and guilty afterwards”. If you simply can’t cook for yourself, consider a healthy meal delivery service such as 5 Squares.

*If you are just starting out with more healthy, lean-eating habits – don’t sweat the small stuff. So your favorite restaurant doesn’t have organic salads. Still order the salad with chicken or fish instead of the pasta. If you can’t stomach one of Dr Brooke’s favorite snacks, say a can of sardines – what can you do? 3-4 oz organic, deli turkey? A protein shake? Find something that works. Don’t worry so much about if it was 4 or 5 oz of protein in the turkey burger you had for lunch when there was 6 hours between lunch and dinner. Stick with the basics of protein and veggies at every meal, opt for higher fiber carbs such as sweet potato or legumes over breads and cereals, and always eat every 3-4 hours.

*Don’t set yourself up for failure or feeling deprived by going to a social event hungry. Eat something on your plan before you go and always, always stick to the 3-4 hour meal rule – it’s truly the best craving reducer.

*Get some help. If you aren’t sure what you should be eating or have been doing the same tired workout for months – get some help. Matt attributes much of his success to “putting himself in the hands of a trusted nutrition coach”. From there he just had to do what he was told.

*Remember losing fat isn’t forever – you’ll lose it and then you’ll be in maintenance.  If you could possibly commit 110% percent for just a finite period of time – maintenance will be a piece of cake! Literally.

For more info on Matt visit www.mattmcgtraining.com or http://www.peakperformancenyc.com. To read more about his bodybuilding contest prep, see an interview at: http://elitefts.com/documents/mcgorry-starnes.htm.  And for you guys out there, check out Matt’s article in March’s Men’s Health Magazine about getting that good lookin’ V Shaped Torso.

March 2, 2010 at 2:08 am 2 comments


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