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Category Archives: Diet Strategies

Planning on Being Awesome This Year?

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First of all: Happy New Year!  I don’t know that I’m really huge on partying to welcome in the New Year or anything like that, but I love any opportunity to reflect on the past and make goals and plans for the future.  I do this regularly.  The start of every semester I like to make a list of goals and an accompanying set of plans to help me work on things that I could be doing better at.

I’m sure a lot of you have goals that include getting more fit or losing weight.  And those are really great goals to have.  My health/fitness/overall wellness journey began with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.  It’s been five years since then and I’ve learned a lot.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that a goal without a plan is just wishful thinking.  For example, I have a goal of someday hiking to Havasupai Falls.  However, because that isn’t a goal that I plan on accomplishing within the next year or so,  I don’t have a plan yet.  However, I do have a pressing goal of hitting 20% body fat by June.  So here is what my plan looks like:

-Get my body fat measured (in the BodPod on campus) every three months. Making an appointment on Wednesday.

-Eat clean (Paleo) 13 out of every 14 days.

-Be mindful of starch and fruit intake, especially on non-workout days.

-CrossFit at least 4 times a week.

There are other parts to this plan that are more secondary goals (work on mobility of one body part after each WOD, go to Endurance weekly, etc.)  And I did make other goals that have their own plans (audition to be a Disney Princess, improve my grades, etc).  But the important part is that I wrote it all down.  That always makes me feel more accountable to myself.  And I wrote down the things that I have to do on a regular basis to help me succeed.

Anyone can have a goal, but that’s like saying “I’m going to Hawaii”.  Making a plan is like buying the tickets to Hawaii.  And then when you achieve your goal, that’s when you’re in Hawaii. (Consequently, I wish I could afford to go to Hawaii as a reward for hitting 20% body fat.  Anyone rich want to take me?)

And for those of you who want to lose weight, I want to impart to you the wisdom that I have learned over the last 5 years.  If I had to give you only one piece of advice (other than making a plan), it would be this: DO NOT underestimate the importance of weight training. I did for four years, and I wish I had gotten started a lot sooner.

In my first couple of years, I went from a size 18 to a size 12 and from 215 to 150-ish pounds.  And I stayed consistent at that weight and size for a couple of years after that.  At the beginning of 2011, I decided I was ready to really embark on my quest for lady abs.  I did p90x and a few other home-based workout programs.  I started tweaking the last bits of junk out of my diet (everything processed had to go, even if it was whole grain — this eventually made the transition to Paleo a lot easier).  And then in August, Chris got me to join CrossFit.  In the last year, I’ve only lost about 10 pounds.  But I’ve gone from a size 12 to a size 8.  Sometimes a 6.  My body confidence is way higher, my pudge is way smaller, and my posture is improved.  I not only look better, but I feel amazing in my own skin.

And I am now convinced that whoever told girls that weight training would make them look manly was probably lying to someone they wanted to stay fat.  I am also convinced that thin girls who say things like “I’m fat” often feel that way because they lack the muscle to make their bodies look the way they want.  Looking fit is a combination of losing fat AND building muscle.  I neglected the muscle for so long because I felt like I was still too chubby to have to worry about it, but worrying about it is what helped me get to the point I wanted to get to.  Sure, I still have a handful of body fat percentage points to drop, but I can actually see the faint outlines of my lady abs starting to emerge.  My shoulders and arms look toned.  My legs look killer in high heels.    But in no way do I look manly.

Gratuitous picture of my arm. But seriously. Last year, that did not look like that.

So, basically my whole point is this: if you want to lose weight, you can do that any number of ways.  If you want to feel great about your body and you want to look your best: weights.  You don’t have to do any particular program.  Pick up a copy of the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises if you’re new and don’t have a lot of resources, it’s an excellent place to start.  And they have a lot of 6-12 week programs, so you can switch up your routine a lot.  Of course, if you have the money and a nearby affiliate, you could always do CrossFit. Or you could borrow your friends copy of P90X.  Whatever you plan on doing, make a plan.  Pick up weights.  Don’t be afraid to lift as heavy as you can.  Practice good form.  Eat enough protein.  For that matter, eat enough food.  You can’t starve your way into a nice body.  You have to feed it.  And, oh yeah, did I mention that you should lift weights?  Because you really, really should.

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My (Winning!) Contest Strategy and CrossFit Conversion Story

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I am going to be up front with this right now: this blog post might not be comprehensible because I have abandoned all of my regular eating rules for the last two days which has resulted in a near-constant stomach ache and fuzzy brain.  Pretty much nothing in my body feels right.

Anyways – if you traveled to this webpage from my facebook, you likely know that I won the Biggest Loser competition at work! Hooray!  2 months of super disciplined eating and regular CrossFit attendance was definitely challenging, but completely worth it.  How were my results, you ask?  Pretty darn good, I think so.

BEFORE

WEIGHT: 153 
BODY FAT: 32.1%
WAIST: 28″
BELOW BELLY BUTTON (PUDGE):37″
HIPS: 39.5″
THIGH: 22.5″

AFTER

WEIGHT: 141.5
BODY FAT: 26.6%
WAIST: 27″
PUDGE: 35.8″
HIPS: 39″
THIGH: 20.5″

I was super happy with my measurements and the way my body is looking.  I was actually surprised I lost any inches off my thighs at all, because I was genetically gifted with the flattest butt in the universe (shout out to my mom for that one) and CrossFit has really turned that around for me.  Seriously.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my rear end in the mirror and I’m like: I can’t believe that belongs to me!

So, in the diet arena, the rules I had for myself were pretty simple.  Lean protein with every meal, 4 or more servings of vegetables daily, no refined or processed or packaged foods, no added sugars of any kind (honey and agave included).  And no more weekend cheats.  I had 1 cheat day (on the anniversary of my mother’s passing) and 2 cheat meals over the entire course of the competition.  And as difficult as that was, sometimes, I actually felt awesome.  As evidenced by how crappy I feel today.

The other integral part of my victory was definitely CrossFit.  And here is a little love story about how the girl who scoffed at CrossFit became converted in less than two months.

I was always a little put off by CrossFit.  Probably because everyone I knew who did it was extraordinarily intimidating.  We’re talking about the fittest-looking people I’ve ever encountered.  And for anyone who doesn’t know about this, I have a hard time when I feel inferior.  I like to be the smartest, funniest, prettiest girl in the room. It’s a sickness, I know.  So when Chris told me to come with him to CrossFit, I grimaced and whined.  But I knew it would help me get to where I wanted to be, considering the reason I didn’t want to go is because I wasn’t anywhere near as fit as the CrossFitters I knew and I was afraid of being harshly judged for my inadequacy.

So I went for my free workout.  It involved wall burpees.  There is nothing I hate more than burpees.  And then they added a wall to that hatred.  When we finished our 15-minute AMRAP, my face was pinker than it had been in months.  But no one made fun of me for doing box dips instead of ring dips.  In fact, everyone had been encouraging and nice.  And, much to my surprise, there was a whole range of people with different fitness levels and abilities there.  The next day I was sore in muscles that I didn’t even know were utilizable.  And I couldn’t wait to go back.

I found that my original perceptions only sort of aligned with reality.  My first misconceptions: only the super-fit (and super-crazy) do CrossFit.  In reality, there are people of all fitness levels scaling the workouts to make it work for them.  And if you’re willing to throw yourself in and throw the words “I can’t” out the window, you can make progress and gain fitness confidence more quickly than you can imagine.  Although I am no master CrossFitter, I have seen measurable improvements in the two short months I’ve been going.  Most notably, I started out doing 16″ box jumps and last week I completed my first WOD on the 24″ box! And I front squatted 85 pounds two weeks ago, a marked improvement from the struggle I had with 35 pounds my first week. Basically: CrossFit isn’t just for the super-fit — it will just make you super-fit.  My stomach is even starting to flatten out (lady abs, here I come!)

Another major misconception I had was that the trainers (some of whom I already knew) would be intense and intimidating and/or think I was pretty pathetic because I had so much to learn and a lot of room for improvement.  In reality, they’ve all been incredible.  I’ve been in a class at least once with each of them, and they each bring something different to the table with their personality.  I’ve learned something useful and important from each of them.  And the trainer that I thought would be the most terrifying to work (coughBrandycough) with has actually turned out to be my favorite.  (Should I say that on my blog? . . . you guys are all favorites!).  Although there are days where I’m the last one who finishes or the one with the lightest weight in my class, it doesn’t really bother me.  As long as I know that I’m pushing myself, I feel like I do something every single day that I can be proud of.  And although I still get a fair bit of correction on my form, I also know that I’m getting a little bit better with every WOD I complete.

And here is the unexpected bit: I love it.  I love that every day brings a different challenge.  I love that I can’t think or worry about something else and my brain is marvelously free of stress  (other than don’t drop the barbell on your head) for the length of the workout.  I love that I always feel better, stronger and happier after I finish.  I love that other people encourage me when I struggle or congratulate me when I do more than I thought I could.  In short, I love not only CrossFit itself, but also the community.

And based on my contest win and the fact that I can’t wait to get back to it on Monday, I believe this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship.