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It's been a week...

Why am I not skinny yet?!?

We see this question on the boards pretty frequently.  Even veterans to the weight loss process have this thought cross their minds.  When we finally decide it's time to get rid of the fat we want it gone yesterday!

What you do today only makes a small impact on tomorrow and the next day.  It's a gradual building process.  We've all heard the saying that we didn't get fat overnight and we can't expect to lose it overnight.  The problem with that is that it took no real effort to gain and it takes constant effort to lose.  It's just not fair!

I had this thought come to me as I was baking the other day.  

Imagine you have a large pitcher that you need to fill with 50 cups of water.  All you have is a tablespoon to transport water in.  That's a very daunting task!  Each trip is only going to add a tiny amount to the pitcher and sometimes you'll spill a bit on the way.  There might be times where your knock your pitcher over and spill a bit.  If you keep working at it you'll eventually fill the pitcher up.

Each day we eat appropriately and add in extra activity we improve just a little bit.  Unlike the pitcher we have to deal with weight fluctuations from water retention and food volume.  Even if the scale doesn't move you are doing things to improve your overall health.  Take pictures, weigh, measure and get blood work done.  Track all that information to get a better overall picture of the improvements and realize that there is more to health than the scale. 

 

*Just wanted to add:  Even those of us who have lost weight think the same thing as many of the newer people.  We know better and we understand the process better.  We still wish for more than a pound a week. 

What's your excuse?

Another one of these pictures is making the rounds.  A woman who has had children showing off a great body and asking what others excuses are for not having an amazing body.

*The following is my opinion.  You are more than welcome to disagree.*

Maybe this will mean a bit more coming from a woman with kids who has achieved a great body.  Nobody needs an excuse.  We don't have the same goals, the same starting points, the same responsibilites in life, the same free time or the same priorities.  There is ZERO shame in saying that having an amazing body is not your top priority.

Sometimes I talk about the odds stacked against me.  Single mom, full time job, long commute, going to school.  I am very lucky that I have a company that allows me a flexible lunch hour.  I come in a bit early and that gives me enough time to go lift during lunch.  I also control all the meals.  No husband saying he wants to go out to eat and my kids are okay with having a different dinner than I have.

Honestly, in some ways I have it pretty easy. 

People shouldn't try to make others feel bad for having different priorities.  We make the most of what we have and pursue the things that are important to us.  Do what you can for your health and weight loss.  Try to find a way to make it part of your every day life.  

Don't feel guilty for not working out for hours on end or twice a day.  

 

  • Got 15 minutes in? Great!  
  • Hit your calories and macros today?  Awesome!
Love yourself for who you are and be proud of your accomplishments in every area of life. 

 

There is more than one way

I remember when I decided that I had to lose weight no matter what.  The first thing I did was to start some research.  Unfortunately there was tons of information out there and so many articles from doctors, dieticians, personal trainers and weight loss experts contradicted each other.  How can anyone lose weight when a dozen articles will tell you that the methods suggested in the other articles don't work?

Even here on MFP you will find successful people who completely disagree with each other.  If you don't believe me check out a clean eating thread, a sugar thread or even a cardio versus weight lifting thread.  There are successful people on both sides of the issue. 

If you look through the success stories you'll see that everyone uses a slightly different method and gets slightly different results.  This is great news for you!  It means that the method for weight loss that works best will depend on you.  Forget "optimal" weight loss because all you need is to experiment and find what you can stick to that gives you results.

There is also a second important factor.  What sort of results you want.  If you really just need to drop some weight to improve your health then the methods don't matter as much.  If you aim to be able to run then you would look into how runners train and eat.  If you want to diet down to low levels of body fat and look more like a fitness model then you're going to have to lift and fuel appropriately.  If you need to improve specific health markers then what you eat is going to be very important.

If I were to sum up the things I think are important to being successful it would be:

 

  • Read as much as you can about diet and fitness
  • Have an open mind (you may find something that will make your life easier)
  • Read supporting information for things you disagree with (sometimes we are mistaken on what the other side actually believes)
  • Leave your comfort zone (try it all out!)
  • Find something sustainable (it isn't over when you reach your goal)
  • If someone is trying to sell you something be suspicious of their claims

Confidence

Yesterday I opened up a discussion with my friends about why some of them haven't done a race or competition of some sort.  Before I get started I wanted to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to race or compete.  It doesn't matter what your reason for not wanting to do them is, you are perfectly fine as is and I'm not going to tell you that your life is incomplete because you don't race or compete.  This blog is for those who have thought about it, would like to, yet have not taken a step towards it.

The top reasons listed for why my friends have not done a race or competition are:

  1. Money
  2. Schedule/Availability
  3.  Training
  4. Confidence.
I understand the struggles of money, scheduling, and availability.  I'm a single mom and it's tough to find the funds for everything.  It's tough to get away from my kids to make it to these things.  Sometimes it's tough to get the training in.  The things I would like to do aren't really available in my area.  To a degree all of these things are out of our hands.  I do make some sacrifices to be able to afford them.  I also rely on sitters or family to watch the boys while I race or compete.
 
As far as training goes, there are a few concerns with completing training and avoiding injury.  Many of us have chronic issues that cause training problems.  I have knee problems, my hips cause issues from time to time, my elbows get flare ups and I manage to hurt myself fairly often.  My best advice to overcome this is to start training far enough out that you don't feel rushed and you have flexibility in case something happens.
 
Finally, we reach the number one reason why people don't sign up for races and competitions: Confidence.  I'm going to share a few tricks to help with confidence.
 
 
5k, 10k, Half marathon, Full marathon, Triathlon
When you sign up for a distance or endurance race the chances are you will not win, even for your age group.  You may walk.  You may walk all of it.  You won't be the only one.  You may finish far behind small children and people almost three times your age.  You aren't there to beat them, you are there to complete it and set a time to beat during your next one.  Find a fun run like the color runs or costume races or one for a charity.  More people join those simply to get active.  If the thought of standing around alone before and after the race terrify you, invite a friend and plan on walking it.
 
Obstacle Course Races
Once again, you probably are not going to finish at the head of the pack.  These types of races are a personal challenge and meant to be fun.  There is a team of veterans that do these races together.  Most of them are missing limbs and they come together to help each other over obstacles.  Invite a friend or two and set out to simply complete the race (even if you have to walk around an obstacle or two).  People will walk the entire thing and skip multiple obstacles.  Do your best and come back the next year determined to do just a little bit better.  Above all they are meant to be fun!
 
Powerlifting meets
"If you wait until you are 'strong enough' you will never compete."  I'm not saying to compete a couple of months after you start lifting, but if you've been lifting for a few years and you want to compete just do it.  Almost nobody sets a state, national or world record their first year.  There are people who have been competing for 10+ years that don't hold a record.  Pick a small local meet and set out to hit a PR because that's what powerlifting meets are all about.  Afraid of failing a lift?  One of my friends failed all three attempts at bench at Olympia.  Most lifters fail at least one lift at a meet.  You're supposed to pick a third attempt that scares you slightly.  If you don't fail a lift you may be left wondering if you could have done 5, 10, 20 pounds more.
 
Bodybuilding competitions
As a binge eater I didn't think this would be possible.  Having a trainer or a coach for accountability makes a huge difference.  Not everyone is cut out to do this, but you can work towards one and decide it isn't for you.  The keys to success?  Don't set an ultimate deadline, give yourself plenty of time, realize that it's okay to struggle with it because it's not easy.  I wish I could give more help on this, but bodybuilding is one of the few competitions where you need either the confidence or the burning desire.
 
I may have left a few out, but these were the main ones that come to mind.  Most of us who have raced or competed in something went in terrified.  Even if you grew up watching others do them or have friends who do them it's a different story when you are the one putting in the effort.  Even if you aren't ready to tackle something like these today remember that the time will pass anyway, so you might as well start training for something you would like to do today.  No matter how good or bad you do, you'll be proud that you set a goal to race or compete and you accomplished it! 

 

Personal Roadblocks

I was inspired to write this by an email I got this morning from JCD Fitness.  It was a sucker email to draw people in and make them want to buy the PDF he's releasing tomorrow.  I'm stealing his points because I think just being aware of them is the biggest step to overcoming them.

1. Unrealistic Expectations

Sometimes it's hard to recognize that our expectations are unrealistic.  We see 12 week or 6 month transformations that are absolutely incredible and think we should be able to do that too.  We think that no matter how much we have to lose we should be able to lose 2 pounds a week or 10 pounds a month.  Whether a goal is realistic or not depends on your goals, your adherance to diet, your workouts, and how much you have to lose/gain.  Evaluate your expectations often to avoid frustration.

2.  Short Cuts

There are no short cuts.  No cheat codes.  No magic pills.  No miracle substance/diet.  The sooner you stop looking for them the sooner you can focus on what works.  Balanced diet, slight calorie deficit, some cardio, some resistance training, and long term adherance.

3.  Information Overload 

We also call this paralysis by analysis.  It is important to know about nutrition and exercise.  It's even more important to just put the work in.  Sometimes when we spend too much time learning about nutrition or lifting we worry about not following the perfect plan.  It's better to put solid effort into a suboptimal plan than to sit around figuring out what plan is the best.  If you really just can't commit to a plan (eating or exercise) then hire someone to help you.

4.  Shiny Object Syndrome

Stop changing programs/plans.  There are times where you realize what you are doing isn't working and you need to change.  Don't switch because you found something else exciting.  Don't look for the next new and exciting thing.  Stick to a plan and see it through.

5.  Negative Feedback

You're going to fail.  Don't beat yourself up over it.  You're also going to do some great things.  Focus on those successes.  Don't let minor flaws or failure drown out the great things you have done and continue to do.

6.  "Nothing works for me"

Sometimes this thought comes from past failures.  The more you say it, the more you believe it, the more you make it true.  The reason most people succeed at a specific diet is because they believe it will work and they actually stick to it.  Find a plan that you can stick to (even if it isn't optimal) and just do it.  When you make a mistake forgive yourself and get back on track.  You have what it takes.  

More than CICO

I'm not here to debate macros and micros or clean eating versus moderation.  I don't care what your stance is on any of that and I don't care what worked for you.  For many of us weight loss is actually about more than what/how much we eat and our physical activity.

I'm talking about the mental aspect.

I've discussed my issues with binge eating before http://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/usmcmp/view/when-1-becomes-10-684689.  That's something I take into consideration all the time.  Making sure my food choices are filling to satisfy my stomach and fitting in tasty things to satisfy my taste buds.  Planning ahead and pausing to reflect when I start to go off plan are very important to preventing the binge eating.

Another issue I deal with is that I am afraid of being hungry.  I know to some of you that sounds ridiculous.  During Marine Corps recruit training I never got enough to eat.  I didn't have binge eating or over eating issues before then.  Three months of constant hunger (the kind where you eat anything you are given even if you hate the taste) left an impact.  

After boot camp I ate constantly.  Even if I had just eaten.  Even if I was full.  Part of me worries that my next meal won't come.  I fear feeling hungry.

I've thought about this issue a lot.  How does someone overcome the fear of being hungry?  I see two strategies that I need to apply.  The first goes hand in hand with my plan to reduce binge eating.  Planning/prepping meals in advance to make sure they are filling and reduce the worry that I won't get to eat again.  The second is more important to actually overcoming the fear entirely.  That's to just be hungry and learn to accept that being hungry isn't the end of the world.  It will be uncomfortable, but it is important to learn to control my fear of being hungry.

I know my mental issues with eating/hunger/binge eating are far less harmful than the issues that others face.  I used to think I was just addicted to food or addicted to sugar, but I know now that the real issue is personal responsibility.  I struggle with self control and I struggle with being afraid of hunger.  I've accepted responsibility for these issues and I am working to fix them.  

Helpful advice

If people gave the same advice for medical issues as they did for mental illness this is what it would look like.

From: www.robot-hugs.com 

22 a day

The statistics say that 22 veteran's commit suicide every day.  Psychologist and war experts have tried to identify why the current generation struggles with this when previous war generations did not.  I honestly couldn't even begin to explain it.

What I can explain is what leads them up to that point.  I never deployed.  I completed the training and worked with my team for months before I was removed from my unit and sent to patrol the base.  I couldn't pass the pre-deployment screening due to my injuries.  

The close knit group of friends I had worked with for months left without me.  Then on December 11th, 2006 there was a explosion.  Two didn't make it home.  The guy who took my spot also did not make it home.

They say it's called survivors guilt and I've learned to accept that things happened the way they did.

Losing a close friend is always tough.  Unfortunately for the others in the unit they were forced to pick up the pieces of their friends.  I've seen many bodies in a variety of conditions.  I've picked up the pieces to unknown plane crash victims.  They all leave a mark, but having to collect your friend to have something to send home is something that nobody should have to go through.

How do you recover from that?  To go from making plans for when you get home, to gathering up their body?

I've lost a few more friends since then to suicide.  Many of them struggled to adjust once they got out of the military.  They couldn't hold or find a job, started getting behind on bills, couldn't get appointments for help through the VA and started to feel hopeless.  I wonder if I had just reached out to them even one more time would it have made a difference?

Seeing that it is Veteran's Day I want to bring awareness to the high number of veteran suicides.  Reach out to your veteran friends throughout the year.  Check out www.mission22.com for more ideas on how you can possibly help reduce the number (no monetary donations necessary, there is some good info that is being gathered on that site).  There's a section for veterans, family and community.  Read through them all.  You never know if you could be in a position to change someone's life for the better.

In memory of Havoc 2.

Happy Birthday!

Happy 239th Birthday Marines!

“Ten November 1775. I was born in a bomb crater. My mother was an M16 and my father was the devil. Each moment that I live is an additional threat upon your life. I eat concertina, piss napalm and I can shoot a round through a flea’s ass at three-hundred meters. I travel the globe festering on anti-Americans everywhere I go for the love of mom, Chevrolet, baseball, and apple pie. I’m a grunt. I’m the dirty, nasty, stinky, sweaty, filthy, beautiful little son of a bitch that’s kept the wolf away from the door for over two-hundred and thirty-nine years. I’m a United States Marine. We look like soldiers, talk like sailors, slap the shit out of both of ‘em. We stole the Eagle from the Air Force, the Rope from the Army, and the Anchor from the Navy. And on the seventh day, when God rested, we overran his perimeter, and we’ve been running the show ever since. Warrior by day, lover by night, drunkard by choice, Marine by God. Semper Fidelis.”

 

Are you just screwing around?

This is not intended for people who are starting out or struggling with the basics. This is basically a note to myself, but I think a few others might feel the same way.

Are you just screwing around?

You know how to count calories. You have the hang of weighing everything and being accurate. You probably know the calorie and macro content of your most frequent foods. You have a really good idea of what your maintenance calories are and what an appropriate deficit is. Yet you are getting no closer to your goals.

Why? Are you just screwing around? Your food diary isn’t accurate, you went over your calories a few times this week, you half assed your workouts and you didn’t stick to your macro goals. It’s like you don’t even care.

Are you bulking? Are you cutting? To me it looks like you are maintaining on accident. Do you really want to reach your goals? Are your goals appropriate for your current intake, level of fitness, workout schedule or even your body fat percent? Do you know how to determine if your goals are appropriate for you and what your real current goal should be?

Listen. I know it’s not comfortable to stick to the plan 24/7. You’re used to eating what you want, when you want. The longer you mess around the longer you’ll have to wait to have a bit more freedom.

There is so much more satisfaction from reaching your goal and feeling good about how you look than there is from eating an entire pizza (chased with a pint of ice cream). I’m not saying you have to give up pizza or ice cream along the way, but moderation and success feel better than the binge that you went on this weekend. That horrible feeling you get when the scale is up 5 pounds and the sight in the mirror makes you want to cry. You don’t have to go through that anymore.

The time has come to get back on track and stop screwing around. More restriction isn’t the answer. Find balance and you will be successful.

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