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Although more women are paying attention to their macronutrients, fiber is a micronutrient that most people tend to ignore. Fiber is important as it aids in digestion and helps lower glucose and blood cholesterol levels all while keeping you feeling full and satisfied. Power Eating author Susan Kleiner, even goes so far as to say that increasing fiber intake by just 5% would help most people improve fat loss results.
Fiber is not available via fat or protein, which means that eating carbohydrates is key to getting in enough fiber. So if you're carbophobic, but always coming up short on this micro, it may mean that you have to get off that low carb train in order to do it!
Great Fiber Sources
Fiber is best in its “natural” form. Supplements like Metamucil and the like can certainly come in handy, but it's best to get your intake in from eating real foods. Some of the best options are:
Eating carbs may be scary for some, but have no fear. Focusing on higher fiber choices will help guide you in eating the right kind of carbs for your goals, round out your diet, and compliment your other macros.
While the recommended intake is about 25-35 grams, most women are lucky to get in about 15 grams in a day. This is one element of your diet that you want to increase very slowly (and with lots of water!) to allow your body time to adjust.
Water is essential to increasing your fiber! By not drinking enough, your digestive system will essentially create concrete making it very hard to pass through your bowels. Give your stomach a chance to adjust and increase very slowly.
When increasing your fiber, remember that some choices may work better for you than others, or rather that some will give you more bang for your buck. An apple or orange have about 3 grams, but a cup of raspberries has about 9 grams! So look at your fiber options and how you can get the most out of your choices. Celiacs (or anyone for that matter!!) can opt for grain options like millet or brown rice rather that oats and barley, the key is to adopt the habit AND make it work for you.
If you are new to increasing fiber, try to break up your meals and aim for about 5 grams per meal (5g x 5 meals = 25g/day). If you're eating fewer meals, then you'll want to work up to more fiber (ex. 7-8g) per meal to help you get it all in. Again, take your intake for these goals up slowly and increase your water accordingly!
When it comes to all of the reasons why your weight rises in any given circumstance, the one reason women overlook the most is Stress. I know we have all muttered it before, “Yeah, I know I'm stressed out, but I'll just keep doing what I am doing” or “I know I'm stressed, but I'm not that stressed”
If you are under Stress, the scale will not co-operate
We have talked before about how the scale is not a good indicator of success in your journey, but when you add stress in the mix, it can be downright cruel. When the body is under stress a number of things begin to happen. First, cortisol levels shoot up. When this shoots up, water retention levels also shoot up, causing the scale to say things we don't want to hear. If your cortisol levels stay high for prolonged periods of time, the gain on the scale becomes a permanent one.
Stress weight is the hardest weight to lose. A cycle takes place when we are under stress and most women don't realize that the very things we are doing to lessen stress, is what is actually causing more stress. We become stressed at home – then we decide to hit the gym and kill it – then we decide to tighten up on our diet, or pick at what needs to change in our diet – then we stop sleeping well – and so on..
Each of these things are a stress to the body. Even though we think of “going to the gym” as a de-stressor, it is still adding stress to your body overall. Stress in women tends to show up in the belly area, thus the “Stress Belly.” So when we see that our belly area is growing, it is a good sign that we need to look at the stressors in our life and find a way to relax and slow down again.
In times where we cannot control personal stresses, like a job, move, or divorce or something, we need to be able to stop other stresses from piling on.
Things to consider to reduce stress
- Eat at TDEE and take a maintenance break
- Reducing your time on the steady state cardio machines
- Staying away from HIIT workouts
- Participate in a pilates or yoga class
- Leisure walks
- Rest week from the weights
Being aware of how stress affects our body and knowing how to deal with it properly will certainly set you up for future success. Sometimes we cannot control stress, but when we can, we need to limit our exposure to it and be prepared to scale back on other things until the stress period has passed.
For so many years we have been told that scale weight means “health” and your measure of success should come from the BMI chart. Over the past number of years it has been confirmed that the BMI chart is 100% outdated and should not be used to measure your health. But for millions of women, the draw of the scale is still very much ingrained in our lives and our self worth depends on that piece of machinery. So if you have chosen not to listen and ditch the scale, then here is a list of all the possible reasons why the scale goes up or down so you can understand what the scale is saying.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF A JUMPY SCALE:
- Time of day/week/month – Your weight will be lower in the morning than in the evening, higher during certain times of the month, and can be all over the place depending on your stress levels at any given time.
- Type of workout done before weigh-in – Cardio workouts will show a loss because of lost water due to sweating. During a HIIT or weight training workout, the scale may be up because of water retention. Don't let that fool you though, muscle building is what you want to do, so you need to get over the extra scale weight because of the retention that happens!
- Sweating – In general when your body sweats, its losing water which will show a loss on the scale. But it's water you are losing, not fat! This needs to be replenished otherwise the body then retains water and will cause a scale gain.
- Clothes – It's no secret that millions of women chose to weigh in wearing absolutely nothing! Clothing will add up on the scale. Jeans typically weigh about 3 pounds!
- Amount of carbs eaten before – Eating carbs is certainly not a bad thing, but the glycogen retention they cause can show on the scale. If you eat a huge spaghetti dinner the night before, the scale may not show something you like.
- Excess sodium – Too many processed, packaged foods can contain an overabundance of sodium. This causes water retention. In order to release the water, you must drink more water!
- Foods that take a lot of time to digest – Eating that big Thanksgiving meal and then getting on the scale later? Food in your body counts towards your scale weight! Weight is weight, so eating 5lbs of turkey dinner will certainly show a 5lb gain right after consuming.
- Sleeping – The amount of sleep you get will factor into that scale number. When you are asleep, every time you breathe you are losing water. And from the above we know that losing water means losing “weight.” During sleep, you typically lose 1-2% of your body weight just from breathing. Sleeping in? You might see a slightly lower number than usual.
- Stress levels – Stress drives up cortisol, which increases your water weight.
Our weight will constantly fluctuate during the day. Knowing the reasons why the scale goes up can show you why it is not a good measure of success. It's important to understand that unless you ate over SEVEN THOUSAND calories more than your maintenance level, your two pound “gain” is certainly not a real gain :)
Exercise is a key component in hitting your fat loss goals. Body composition will not take place without it, no matter how badly we want to skip our gym time. But consistency in exercise has so many other great benefits to overall health that we don't want to ignore things like:
- Stress Relief
- Pain Relief
- Endorphin Release
- Better Sleep
Don't dread your workouts!!
Consistency in the gym is something that develops over time. It is impossible to expect perfection in exercise the minute you get off the couch and into a gym, so ease into it slowly. The key is to make movement a part of your normal everyday routine. When choosing your workout look for something that you like and will enjoy. This will help to keep you focused and allow you to look forward to your next gym session. Dread is something you never want to feel in your workouts, so if you can't stick to anything consistently, then keep searching for that one thing you can commit and stick to and will enjoy.
As progression takes place there will be exercises you don't like doing or don't want to do so having the enjoyment activities sprinkled in between can help keep your focus and keep you consistent in hitting your gym schedule. If you enjoy things like Zumba then make sure to incorporate them into your schedule so you don't feel like you are missing out when working hard to achieve your goals. The more you have to look forward to in the gym, the more successful you will become in hitting your fat loss goals.
Keep in mind, consistency comes with practice. Set your schedule so that it is attainable for you at whatever your current level is. If you are coming from the couch, it would be impossible to expect to hit 6 days a week consistently. If you have been working out for a while, challenge yourself to add in one more day in the gym. The more consistent we are with our movement, the more likely it will become habit in our daily lives.
Consistency is critical when it comes to achieving your fat loss goals. There are four main places where people have the hardest time being consistent – Eating, Exercise, Planning and Patience. All of these relate easily to and work best in conjunction with each other for maximizing your fat loss efforts. Maybe you have no problems with tossing around some iron, and chanting “trust the process” as needed. Perhaps you don't even mind mapping out (or purchasing?) the “perfect” meal plan. But when it comes down to actually following it…let's just say it ain't your strong suit.
It's not just you. When it boils down to eating, it can be very difficult for ANYone to be consistent, but it is critical to your success in your journey.
Key point: Consistency does not equal PERFECTION!
When it comes to eating, changing our mindset around food choices can be the hardest thing to do. Most diet plans out there force a dieter to limit or eliminate many food choices, restrict eating times, or just put unrealistic expectations on their success. The key is to find a way of eating that will allow you to be consistent at it. It doesn't matter what kind of “plan” it is, if you cannot be consistent, it will NOT work for you.
The Imperfect Diet that you stick to beats the Perfect Diet you quit.
Here are some helpful tips to help you create your Consistent Imperfect Diet:
- Don't make it about “good” or “bad” foods. All foods can be eaten, unless you have health/religious reasons for not eating something.
- Don't take someone elses diet plan as your motivation to eat the same way.
- Eliminate the words “I can't have…” from your eating vocabulary
- Make the conscious decision to eat what YOU want.
- Make it work for YOU!
Give yourself the grace of being human. We can't possibly expect to be perfect when it comes to everything else in our life, so why should our eating be 100% perfect? It just can't.
Allow yourself to let life happen.
We all get busy and we all grab the nearest take out places at times. Adapting to change and giving yourself the freedom to go with the changes will consistently bring you closer to your goals rather than falling completely off the wagon time and time again. “Start over” moments happen at every meal. Just because you mess up one meal, does not mean it needs to snowball into the next and so on.
Being consistent is hard work. Give yourself the time and the patience to work on your consistency in your eating habits. Over time, that consistency will put you so much further ahead than jumping on the next latest and greatest “perfect” plan.
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Our last blog post touched on five workout tips to prevent (or breakthrough!) the inevitable plateau. Today let's take a look at how our eating habits can also cause a plateau, and 3 ways to avoid derailing our progress.
3 things to focus on with your EATS
Just as when mapping out how to workout for plateau-prevention, your food focus breaks down to three main areas of focus: Load, Frequency, and Type. Here's what to pay attention to for each area:
Load – This is how many calories you should eat. This varies person to person and no one should be in a blanket calorie range (uh hello 1200 calorie plans) By using our calculator, you can find out three different things, how many calories you need to maintain your weight (TDEE), how many calories for fat loss (Cut) and how many calories for muscle building (Bulk)
By knowing these numbers, you can cycle your intake around when you are on maintenance, when you are planning a cut and periods when you are building muscle.
Frequency – This is the amount of calories you eat, for whatever phase you are in, and when to change it up. Like our load, we need to change the amount of calories we eat at times to prevent a plateau from occuring. When in a fat loss phase, we should be taking a “diet break” (eating at TDEE) every 8-12 weeks for a period of 1-2 weeks. This will “remind” the body what maintenance is, so as we start to lose weight, our Cut amount doesn’t become our Maintenance amount.
Type – I’ll just say one word – Macros.
The type of food we eat does make a huge impact on our progress or our plateaus. Protein, Fat and Carbs are the most important ones to focus on to help make better quality food choices. If you are just starting out getting your macros into focus, plan on putting your protein goal front and center. Focus on one thing at a time and build up the habit, and this will set up your natural progression for better food quality.
By paying attention to these variables in our eating, we can stop a plateau from sending us down the rabbit hole and derailing any progress we might have had.