Why using a food tracker can help with fat loss

Why using a food tracker can help with fat loss

Why using a food tracker for fat loss can help you acheive your goalsA food tracker can be a powerful weight loss tool. When used correctly, it can give you a ton of data about your eating patterns and caloric intakes. For many, tracking food can mean the difference between eating enough calories and eating the right kinds of calories. However, the ultimate goal for the majority of #crushers is to be able to live and eat without the aid of a food tracker.

Intuitive eating vs. Food tracker

The goal to stop tracking comes with an important caveat. You have to actually track your food for a period of time in order to stop tracking later. So for many, this means understanding that if your goal is to stop using a food tracker, then you must be able to perfect intuitive eating, by knowing how your food choices line up each day.

By tracking, this allows you to see each day where your calorie intake actually hits, and where your macros fall in. This allows you to make notes of what you need to eat daily, and how your choices affect your macros for each meal. Paying attention to your daily food habits will set you up for success when the time comes to stop tracking. Your understanding of how to hit that protein goal becomes apparent after you track consistently.

Why using a food tracker for fat loss can help you acheive your goalsAnother good reason for using a food tracker is seeing if there are patterns in your moods and hunger cues. By tracking your moods daily using the notes section of your diary, you will be able to see if there are patterns to certain issues. Things like skipping breakfast causes you to binge eat later in the day. Or a pattern in eating a certain food brings on the bloat or gives you headaches/migraines. These cues can tell you a lot about your eating habits and how to troubleshoot them long after you stop tracking.

Finally, tracking your food allows you to be self aware. It keeps you accountable to your daily required calories, and hitting those macros. Both are necessary for fat loss. It also gives you the stepping stones to make these changes in your food a habit. Habits which need to be solid before you begin intuitive eating.

The goal for everyone is to eventually stop tracking food. But take the steps now to track so your foundation is solid in the future.

Diets and Deadlines: Female Fat Loss Struggles cont..

Diets and Deadlines: Female Fat Loss Struggles cont..

In our previous blog post, we discussed three main reasons why many women struggle with fat loss:

– Women are more focused on “weight” loss, rather than fat loss.
– Hormones can play a big role in how fast and where the fat loss can occur.
– Women generally have a lower muscle mass than men do.

While we could have certainly ended the conversation there, (solving any one of those issues could result in a shift in fat loss for most ladies), we feel compelled to bring the topic home by pointing out the elephant in the room: The Diet Mentality.  Even if most ladies understand the central theme behind developing a less stressed, “muscle-based” mindset, they still want to go about solving their fat loss issues with extreme diets and unrealistic deadlines.

Diet Preferences

When we choose to diet in a way to lose “weight,” (remember reason #1!) we typically select very extreme methods to do so. (*cough* 1200 calorie diets!)

Whenever you embark on a low calorie diet your body is forced to make less food spread farther, so it often has to make budget cuts to survive (literally).  Because muscle requires more calories to maintain, extreme “budget cuts” can put those precious muscles you're striving so hard to hold on to, in jeopardy.  When the body is faced with a low calorie (especially low protein) diet – it has to break down muscles in order to “find” the protein it needs to survive (essentially getting rid of those dang “expensive” muscles, so that the budget can spread further!).

Most women (whether on a diet or not) prefer a high carb, high fat diet with very low protein incorporated.  When coupled with little to no resistance training, and repeated bouts of super low calories, many women are living in a perpetual “muscle wasting” lifestyle.  Rejecting the 1200 calorie insanity, and increasing the protein is a great starting point for most ladies seeking fat loss.  Protein not only keeps you fuller longer, it helps to keep the metabolism from burning up the proteins in our muscles, thus making our workouts more effective, and allows the muscles to build up instead of break down.  Once weight lifting is sprinkled in, it's icing on the cake! (Note: I didn't say anything about getting rid of cake…)

Patience!!

Because many of the diets that we tried in the past helped us to lose weight “fast,” it's honestly tough to NOT lack patience. Thanks to our microwave society, we tend to want alllllllll. the. things. RIGHT. NOW.  We can’t understand why men can lose weight so quickly, or why younger women are dropping pounds faster than us.  The media knows this, and makes sure to taunt/target/tempt us regularly with quick fixes (and we just keep taking the bait- even when we know better). We want things that happen as fast for us as they did in the past – to have the losses we did when we went on our first diet.

We say we're willing to do “whatever it takes” — but never for “as long as it takes.”

Having patience is about being willing to build/maintain muscle mass and actually stop stressing about it. It means focusing less on weight loss, more on fat loss.  It's about finally settling in and doing things right by your body.  It's about reaching your goals in a no-nonsense way that does not backfire in the long run: eating enough food, eating enough protein, getting enough fiber, lifting and doing workouts in a way that are built to maintain the muscle mass you already have, and maybe even encourage more muscle growth along the way.

So there you have it. The five biggest reasons why women tend to struggle with fat loss.  So remember this on your journey to a better and healthier you. Dieting will lead you down a path of never ending gain/lose cycles, constantly frustrated with the lack of progress. The goal of the Diet Mentality is to make you stop enjoying your life to its fullest. A change in your diet focus, throwing the scale away, and taking the time to build your muscle mass back up while living your life now, will all put you down the path to success. The path just winds along the rose gardens, rather than plows right through them.

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Guest Post – Leigh Anne’s Strongman Competition

Guest Post – Leigh Anne’s Strongman Competition

Leigh Anne is a long time EM2WL vet who decided to push her limits by entering Strongman competitions. This is a recap of her last event.

Leigh1I am still reeling from an incredible Strongman competition weekend and I need to share! I competed in the first Strongman at a gym in Charlottesville, VA. There were over 90 competitors, it was over 90 degrees and all but one of the five events were outside.

It was a long day.

I weighed in at 242. My previously steady weight of 237 was definitely boosted by eating super well a couple days prior. I ate well that night and ended up getting some delish local grub at a farmer's market the next morning, along with the most amazing iced coffee I've ever had.

I wore a tank top. I never wear tank tops, but it was HOT! I got two compliments about how “bad ass” I looked in my tank!

I did not have my best showing, but I can identify where I need to improve and where I messed up. I was not confident in my squat and I bottomed out – but I expected to. I was not confident. I skipped a 340-lb. deadlift to try for the 360, when I shouldn't have … but I tried and it moved! The truck pull was deceptively easy from the start and I did not brace myself nor get enough momentum to pull the full 50 feet when I hit the up-hill grind. BUT … I cleaned a 100 lb. axle and never did that before! I loaded a 135 lb. stone to a 54-inch platform when my previous max was 125 to a 48-inch platform. The roar from the gym when I finally got it loaded (it was a struggle, ya'll!) and my coach's wife yelling in my ear to NOT STOP was life. That was amazing.

Leigh2I cried several times that day. Not because I was upset with how I did, but because I was so proud of those around me. My amazing friend, Autumn, pulled the Mission BBQ truck the entire 50 feet and did not give up. She has been training for less than a year and I am so incredibly proud of her.

Then I met Mary Jacobson. Mary is 62 years young. Mary had gotten dehydrated a couple days prior, blacked out in her apartment, woke up in the hospital, pulled the IV out of her arm and told the staff that she had somewhere to be! (Please, I am not advocating doing this, but the independence, the drive and the determination of this lady was demonstrated here). Mary deadlifted 340 pounds. Mary pulled a 2.5 ton truck. Mary put on an amazing show, shared her knowledge. She was amazing. This lady is a cancer survivor. She was in a coma for two years. She won't let anything stop her.

And I am honored to have met her.

Two days after this competition, I have signed up for my next one. It will be 10 weeks away – the first weekend in October. I plan to cut between now and then … and I have planned my meals to equate a 15% cut for now. A couple of the events at my competition in October are moving events, so I need to incorporate cardio into my training, but I hate the treadmill, elliptical and bike. My plan is to do light farmers, tire flips and truck pulls when possible. I am anxious to see what this cut does … and hoping for the best!!

 

Share your success, no matter how large or small.  You never know who you may inspire to hang on just a bit longer.  We love featuring results and journey stories in REAL time, not just before/afters.  If you have a victory (scale or not) let us know and allow us to share with the fam, by submitting to success@EM2WL.com

Hitting Fat Loss Goals – Consistency in Exercise

Hitting Fat Loss Goals – Consistency in Exercise

Consistency in Exercise SM Graph (1)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
  • Flexibility
  • Endorphin Release
  • Strength
  • 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.

Consistency in Exercise SM Graph (3)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.

 

 

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I Can’t Do Pull Ups! Mastering the Pull-up: Part one

I Can’t Do Pull Ups! Mastering the Pull-up: Part one

Building MuscleWhat lift/exercise is the ultimate test of strength?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll likely hear different answers to the question. Most trainers (myself included) will agree on the basic beasty moves as gold standards of testing strength: bench, overhead press, barbell row,  squat and deadlift. But when I see someone (man OR woman) squatting, benching, rowing or deadlifting massive amounts of weight, then flailing like a fish out of water trying to pull-up their own body weight, it makes me wonder if the pull-up is the ultimate strength test exercise.  Not only do pull-ups require well-developed back strength, but they also require grip, forearm and core strength, too.

My clients know that I'm a stickler about tackling pull-ups, no matter how weak they feel they may be in their upper body. The guys may feel like it has nothing to do with the overall chest/abs/bicep physique they covet, while ladies tend to be afraid of getting a “wide” back (v-taper) for fear of looking too “manly.” Instead of bicep curling into oblivion, many men would be fairly impressed by the bicep development they would get from merely tossing a few sets of chin-ups into their arm routine. Ladies would do well to know that it's VERY hard to develop a v-taper without properly periodized nutrition and training for that precise purpose. Not to mention that developing one would actually give more women (especially pear shapes), a MORE feminine, hourglass shape. Whatever the case for not wanting to do pull-ups, the benefits of developing this skill go far beyond the physique changes.

Most women are inherently weaker in the upper body when compared to the lower, and in the back side of their body when compared to the front. We ladies tend to spend most of our lives in anterior or “forward” motion: we push strollers and shopping carts, nurture children in our wombs, hold babies, pick our toddlers up and down, type, text, have boobs, etc.  Essentially, we are always pushing, holding, handling weighted objects, or attending to general business on the front side of our bodies.

The repetitive motion of these movements causes the muscles at the front part of our bodies (pecs/anterior shoulders) to tighten (shoulder to shoulder across the boobs), and the muscles across the back (shoulder to shoulder across the upper back) to become lax from under-use. Going into the gym and regularly maxing out on your bench, with little attention to the back side of your body, can horribly exasperate the problem. This leads not only to increased shoulder pain, but also to a forward rounded shoulder (the dreaded “hunchback” look) as we age.  Exercises such as deadlift, row, and yes – pull-ups, that challenge your back from all angles is essential to a well rounded routine and an upright body that screams confidence!.

Put in pull up practice...everywhere!

Put in pull up practice…everywhere!

Pull-ups are NOT easy! 

Back in the day (can't believe I'm old enough to say that! LOL) pull-ups were part of our education. They weren't necessarily mandatory, but we were tested on them at least once/year and it was generally accepted that it was something that most boys should be able to do with ease.  Girls were often graded by how long they could “hang” on the bar.  With the more relaxed Physical Education requirements in recent years, it's not uncommon to see boys become men who can't even do one pull-up (my husband cringes at the sight of my nephews' attempts at pull ups).  If men are struggling with pull-ups, it’s no wonder us women tend to be, too.  Simply jumping up to a pull-up bar and hanging on for dear life can seem more taxing than it was in our youth, but learning to do body weight pull-ups isn’t impossible!

But it DOES take patience and persistence, which our generation seems to have lost…

The amount of time it takes to learn to do a pull-up will vary – depending on factors such as current fitness level, consistency, body weight, etc. Obviously, the more you weigh, the more you have to pull-up, and vice versa. But don't get tempted to use your weight as an excuse (“I can't do pull ups, I'm too heavy!” …”when I lose weight I'll learn” or “but they're so light, it's easy for them!!”), start practicing NOW.  Pulling your body weight is pulling your body weight… per capita, it's tough for everyone.  Take your time, be consistent, and build up your strength.  You CAN eventually do a full pull-up.

Then 2…4…10 and so on!

Ready to dive in?

Let's talk equipment.

Simply hanging from the bar is the first step!

Simply hanging from the bar is the first and hardest step!

If you have a membership at your local gym, they should have you covered (in which case, feel free to scan/speed read through this next bit).

If pullups aren't currently a part of your routine, you may not have an actual pull-up bar, or even access to one.  I highly recommend ultimately investing in a pullup bar like the iron gym or similar apparatus (they're fairly cheap), if you plan on working out at home exclusively.  I'm a home exerciser myself, and my bar is worth it's weight in gold!

But until then, enjoy homemade versions, and the great outdoors… always keep your eye out for pullup “bars” hidden in plain sight to work on perfecting your craft ;)

Some places you can practice your pull up skillz:

  • monkey bars
  • stairs with no riser (like in outdoor apartment buildings)
  • under chairs/tables

Beginner Pull up Prep

The biggest mistake that most newbies make with pull ups is simply walking up to the bar, attempting a pull up, and walking away discouraged.  No one can/should expect to dive right in to doing pull ups without first having a base strength/endurance levels. If you currently can't even hang on the bar for an extended period of time, do NOT attempt pull ups just yet.

Here are a few exercises that you can start doing now to build up the lat strength to be able to do a pullup:

  • Dips (best if they are done on parallel bars or positioned between two chairs in this manner, to fully involve the lats)
  • Elbow Presses (on a wall, or on the floor with elbows in at your side for more challenge)
  • Vertical pulls (use any bar or wall alternating hands at different angles)

Once you have sufficient strength to perform those exercises, you should be able to move into a basic pullup progression.

Whatever your starting point, just start. Take on the challenge! If you're completely lost for where to start, there are a few steps you can take and exercises you can add into your weightlifting routine to get one step closer to being a pull-up princess.  In the next part of this series, we'll go over a few tips on how to bang out that first pull-up.

 

Until then…

~Kiki :)

 

 

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Should you just do cardio to lose weight? How heavy is heavy lifting? Do "strength" DVDs count? What if you don't want to lift? Sign up now for in-depth info on strength training and fat loss.  You'll also receive special vids and free workout plans to help you get the most from your time in the gym.

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Photo cred: David Castillo Dominici

Kickstart: Visual – “Burn” Phase Day 1 – Chest, Triceps, & Core

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