Stress – Your scale’s worst enemy

Stress – Your scale’s worst enemy

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

Weight Gain Troubleshoot - Stress 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.


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Plateau Prevention- Let’s talk about EATS! – 3 Tips

Plateau Prevention- Let’s talk about EATS! – 3 Tips

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

PP Eats SocialMedia (2)

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.

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5 Workout Tips for Preventing Plateaus

5 Workout Tips for Preventing Plateaus

SocialMediaGraph16.1Plateau Prevention 101: Workouts

When it comes to hitting plateaus along your journey, it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.” Knowing that plateaus will come should prevent you from the all-too-common mistake of trying to change too many things at once.

This is difference between amateurs and pros. Pros know start small, tackling one bite sized chunk after another.  This not only helps them have a plan in place before they plateau, but assures that they can actually stick to the plan — progressing for years to come.  Amateurs try to move ahead “faster” by biting off more than necessary. This not only gives them nowhere to go when they plateau (because they’re already doing the MAX, when the minimum would have given the same result), but they also burnout very early on in the process, and give up. Over. and. over. Instead of approaching your journey in the all-or-nothing way of the amateur, let’s level up and attack your workouts like a pro this year.

Tips for preventing plateaus:

5 ways to add challenge/variety/levels to your workouts

  • Rep ranges – Don’t just stick to one. Try alternating short periods (daily, weekly, monthly) of one rep range before moving to another.  Don’t get nostalgic or think that one rep range can do it all. It can’t/shouldn’t. (common rep “ranges” to alternate: 1-8 reps, 9-12 reps, 13+)
  • Amount of weight you’re using – Every time you change rep ranges, the amount of weight lifted should change. Higher reps = lighter weight, lower reps, heavier weight.  If you’re sticking to one rep range for several weeks, you should be seeing weekly increases.  At the very least, your weight by week 4-6 should be heavier than weeks 1-3.  If your weights aren’t increasing, time to take a break from that phase.
  • Rest periods – Rest periods are not set in stone, they can range from no rest, to 3-5 min of rest depending on the above. If you’re lifting heavier weights for lower reps, you’ll need longer rest periods to keep hitting it hard. If you’re lifting light weights for high reps, less rest is needed.
  • Exercise type Compound vs isolation movements. Each has benefits, so don’t be extreme, or expect any one exercise movement to be a holy grail.  But as a general rule of thumb, beginners should stick with more compound movements (1-3 yrs), and advanced lifters (3+ years) can benefit from some isolation work.
  • Cardio – be strategic, add it slowly, if at all, based on preference. Your body quickly adapts to traditional forms of cardio, so adding in a ton from the jump makes it have a less of an impact in the long run. Unless you’re an endurance athlete, or just love cardio (and fully understand/accept it’s limits/diminishing returns), you may want to consider cardio as an occasional, “finish line,” or recovery-only basis.



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Why Heart Rate Monitors Are Not Accurate For Lifting

Why Heart Rate Monitors Are Not Accurate For Lifting

When it comes to fitness gadgets, one of the most popular items is the heart rate monitor. Heart rate monitors can be a great way to track calorie burn, and measure recovery levels during overly-stressed periods — but they are not always the best in every workout situation. In fact, when it comes to lifting, Heart Rate Monitors are not accurate for lifting.


Heart Rate Monitors are not accurate for lifting

If you jump on a cardio machine for a half hour workout, you’ll notice a spike in calorie burn. If you spend the same amount of time doing a lifting routine, you’ll notice you don’t burn as many calories as you did in your cardio session. So cardio is the obvious winner, right?

Not quite. Heart rate monitors not are accurate for lifting

When it comes to lifting weights, the bulk of the calorie burn comes in the EPOC (afterburn).  Afterburn, as the name suggests, is the period of time after your workout concludes in which your body’s metabolic rate is much higher than normal. So while you may burn fewer calories during the initial lift, you burn more overall in the hours/days following due to boosted metabolism. On the flip side, when it comes to cardio, what you see is what you get. This means is that when your cardio workout ceases, so does your calorie burn.

This can put heart rate monitors at a disadvantage when it comes to lifting, because they can dissuade “burn addicts” from strength training. Being addicted to the burn often causes people to place more focus on cardio than necessary, because they love to see that number spike during workouts. And I get it. We all want more bang for our buck – but when we let an initially low number on our heart rate monitor dissuade us from lifting, we’re heading down the wrong road.  Because muscle is the key to a healthy metabolism and high quality of life, we can’t count on the number of calories burned during the workout to tell us how well we’re doing.

The type of workout, doesn’t immediately correlate to the burn that your HRM will show. This is true not only of weight lifting, but also with different types of cardio, as with HIIT/interval type workouts. Longer cardio sessions may show a higher burn than short, quick, HIIT style workouts. Circuits may show a higher calorie burn that lift/rest/lift style training.  The key is to understand that both weight lifting and interval type workouts (anaerobic) lead to building (and keeping) more muscle than their alternatives.  As you continue to build more muscle, your resting metabolic rate continues to increase (think more calories burned simply by sitting on the couch! Yeaaaahhhhh!).

Heart rate monitors are not accurate for lifting. Why is that?If you’re attached to your heart rate monitor, have no fear. The key is to make your heart rate monitor work for you – use it during cardio to gauge effectiveness and adaptability and keep in mind that wearing it during lifting isn’t going to give you an accurate result.  If you’re bent on trying to get a more accurate number, you can look into adding something like a Fitbit to your arsenal, which will do a slightly better job of helping you understand how to properly fuel your body.  Just be sure to note that when it’s all said and done, even these “more accurate” devices typically underestimate the amount of cals burned. So don’t use either as an excuse to undereat. ;)

Keeping the limitations of your HRM in mind will help you to continue including the workouts that are giving you the most return on your investment, while sprinkling in moderate doses of activities that you love.  Seek true balance, rather than constantly fighting the uphill battle of too much cardio, and zero weights, to the detriment of your fat loss goals.

Remember: “cardio for fun, weights to transform!”



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Stubborn Fat Loss Tactics: The Ugly Truth {Video}

Stubborn Fat Loss Tactics: The Ugly Truth {Video}


How did this mom and fitness model incorporate healthy, realistic methods to lose the baby weight? Click to read her story…

Diet and workout fads come and go. When a workout or diet plan becomes popular, it’s natural to feel like it’s the thing to do.

Popular marketing has taught for years, that if you introduce a product enough times (usually around seven), you move to the top of a persons’ mind, and they’ll actually begin to consider something that they may have once dismissed. Savvy parents often use this same tactic with their little ones — casually introducing veggies at every meal, but not forcing them, in hopes that the child will eventually try them on their own. Diet and exercise is no different.

While you may easily look past a certain style of eating/exercising at first glance, after another dozen or so “introductions” (via mags/commercials/social media) you may actually find yourself wondering if you should drop your current routine to instead do this “new” one.  Although the most successful diets tend to hold to no-nonsense approach (adhering to best practices in nutrition, exercise, and a heavy dose of patience), every once in a while something comes along that promises faster results, and all-out war on those “stubborn-fat” areas.

Whether it’s slashing your calories, taking special supplements, doing excessive cardio, intermittent fasting, working out twice a day or cutting a food completely out of your diet, certain approaches tend to gain traction as a surefire way to give you the edge.  Understanding the meaning of “edge” is key to understanding if/when you need to employ such an approach.  Even though many of the strategies have roots based in science, the media (and admittedly, the fitness industry) does a great job of over-emphasizing marginal gains.  The average Jane is often misled by the hype, not understanding, that marginal gain tactics are only beneficial in certain circumstances — such as when you’re looking at reaching the finish line and are fast approaching a date/vacation/competition or are an elite exerciser/professional athlete (and only when all other bases are covered).

It’s important to understand the timing to employ certain tactics at the right time (for you). Let’s take a look at four critical things you MUST understand before diving into the next great diet/exercise hope:

IMG_3429The Tactic Will Fail if Applied too Soon

Certain tricks of the trade are meant to help really attack stubborn-fat areas.  But the problem lies in the fact that many of us have a fuzzy vision of what stubborn fat means in the industry.

Isn’t all fat stubborn? LOL. Not quite.

Plateau busting, stubborn-fat-loss strategies are typically aimed toward those who are at the vanity weight stage – not someone who is still in the middle of their journey. Vanity weight loss applies to those that are looking to loose the last five pounds, step on a competition stage, do a fitness DVD/photoshoot, etc.. In other words, you have a four pack…but are looking to uncover the last two.

If you employ a workout or diet tactic too soon (before it’s the right time for you), it will ultimately fail. The end result won’t be what “everyone else’s” end result is/was. The tactic may work temporarily, but you will eventually hit a plateau — with no room for making more tweaks. When that happens, the small dent that you may have quickly made in your progress, likely won’t be worth how much harder you’ll have made your journey.

Because many of these are meant to be temporary, finish line tactics…being no where near the finish line when you apply them simply means you have no other tricks up your sleeve.

The Tactic Is Meant to Give You the Edge After All Avenues are Exhausted

Source: Flickr all avenues are exhausted, certain tactics can be beneficial, but only after you’ve put in work. People often lean on stubborn-fat-loss workout/diet plans because they want to go from A-Z without doing all the steps in between. The steps are where the magic happens. Skipping (or rushing) steps because you want results faster, almost always hurts you more than it helps. We often seek the stubborn fat loss tactics in frustration of having “tried everything,” but we must make sure that we are not just tossing those words around lightly. If you’ve tried everything – for a couple of weeks at a time – then you haven’t really tried anything.

True transformation takes time.  Attempts to speed through that typically involves lots of wheel spinning and/or speeding up only to land back at square one (or worse!). Make sure that you are giving proven, long-term, sustainable tactics enough time to work before launching into marginal gains territory.

If you haven’t conquered the basics, it’s not the right time. And don’t just try the basics before moving on…nail them.

The Tactic May Be Viewed as a Quick Fix

When considering switching things up, always ask yourself “why?”  Sounds simple, but sometimes we must check our mentality to know if we’re on the right track. If you find yourself looking for an out or wanting a quick fix, then you’re taking the wrong approach. If this isn’t your first rodeo, then you already know that it’s never been about losing the weight.  Keeping the weight off has always been the hardest part.  So if you’re looking for a way around building the habits that will actually aid in keeping the weight off, check yourself ;)

The Sound of Secrets

Disordered eating, the new normal? Check out our interview with fitness competitor and author Dani Shugart.

There are certain habits, and several mental transformations that must occur in order to have sustainable success on this journey. If you’re evading them by going after a quick fix instead, reevaluate your why. Are you avoiding dealing with who you are, thinking that losing weight will solve all your problems? (Spoiler alert: it won’t)

Try as we might, we’ll never be able to separate physiology (or biology) from psychology.  Your mind will (and must) make the transition with you – especially if you plan on not only surviving this journey, but actually thriving in LIFE. Ditch the quick fix mentality, and be all in.

The Tactics Avoid The Basics

Eating enough veggies/food/protein/fiber, drinking enough water, lifting weights etc. are all diet and workout basics. When starting a routine, people often want to avoid the beginning, most important parts/steps because they’re boring, not fun, or just plain hard. We often associate fat loss with torture, and because of that want to spend the least amount of time to achieve results.

The ability to say no to certain foods or the feeling of hunger makes many people feel like they have control. Unfortunately, this can lead to eating disorders or disordered eating– we categorize foods into things we can and can’t have. But when you practice a cutthroat or hardcore tactic for too long, you can eventually create health problems, such as adrenal fatigue. There’s always a better way to get where you want to go and get the results and progress you are hoping for.

Consistency in the basics (fundamentals) must come first. If a program/diet/teaching that you’re hearing is “new and improved” and promotes a particular pill, shot, or type of workout, with complete disregard to the fundamentals – you’re looking at a quick fix.  Diet with the end and mind, and leave all the quick fixes, and stubborn fat loss tactics for those that actually need (and get paid for doing) them.



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Newbie Gains: Why Your Workout Isn’t Working Anymore {LIVE Broadcast}

Newbie Gains: Why Your Workout Isn’t Working Anymore {LIVE Broadcast}


Long after the newbie gains had faded, Tracy realized that her low calorie, high cardio lifestyle would never give her the look she wanted. So she took action, moved on, and got the results she was after.

Your go-to “this always works” workout isn’t working anymore? uh-oh. Say goodbye to newbie gains…

Newbie gains are what I like to call the “Teenager Phase” of Fat Loss.  This is a period of time, that you can pretty much “rebel” against the basic rules of fat loss, and quite possible still see results.  Put simply, in the beginning of your journey, you can literally do ANYTHING (even if it’s the wrong thing) and still get “results.”  Because of this brief period, we can often be led astray and down a longggg path of rebellion.  We tend to shrug off recommendations of not making drastic changes that are unsustainable, or that certain styles of workouts are not the best choice for our goals.  We think “Hey, I’m getting results…I don’t know what they’re talking about!”

I recount my own embarrassing rebellious phase here. 

During the newbie phase, even the impossible…is possible. Muscles grow super fast, fat melts off, everyone notices all your hard work and praises you for it. You’re pretty much floating on cloud nine, feeling invincible, and telling everyone that you know that you’ve found “the secret” to weight loss (pretty much associating that secret to whatever the random thing is that you’re doing.)

Side note…Buyers Beware: I can’t even begin to tell you how many weight loss books would remain on the shelves if we removed all those that were written strictly on the basis of one person’s newbie gains results.  It’s really not the author’s fault though…the results are so addicting that they truly believe they’ve found the cure.

Back to the newbie gains process.  The first six months can be ridiculously blissful, the results are insane and you think that you will FINALLY have the body you’ve always wanted with just a bit more work.  Right around the six month mark, muscle gains/fat loss progress begins to slow down (though most of us are in the early stages of denial, and push harder).  By month 12, many find that they are actually regaining the fat that they lost in the first six months and any semblance of muscle begins to fade.  What do you do when you realize that your “free pass” has expired? What are the next steps?

If you’ve been getting phenomenal results for months, then suddenly notice your go-to workout isn’t working like it used to…it may be time to follow the “rules” now.

Main points covered in today’s broadcast:

~Newbie Gains: The Teenager Phase of Fat Loss

~How to identify when your newbie gains phase is over

~What works now will not work forever. Accept this, don’t ignore it.

~Plateaus WILL come, don’t get too comfortable/cocky and think that because you’re seeing amazing results quickly, that the rules don’t apply to you.

~Have a plan (even if tentative/flexible) for what to do at each plateau (again…they WILL come).

~There is no perfect plan.  Once newbie gains fade, your plan must include a variety of phases (discussed in the broadcast)

~True newbie gains may last 1-2 years for some, with the best progress happening after the first few months of acclimation/neural adaptation. When “results” seem to come for this long, many can become easily deceived/convinced that a certain style of working out is the only thing that “works” for them.  Avoid this extreme thinking, and move on when the time calls for it.


BOTTOM LINE: Newbie gains will stop.  Enjoy it while it lasts, but be prepared to execute plan B. 



Hope you enjoy the replay, Fam!



PS. Got questions? I’m on Periscope and Facebook M-F, to answer your FAQs. So make sure you’re following @EM2WL and click “live subscribe” to get notifications the second I start the next broadcast!

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