Erasing Negativity

IMG_3763Something people don’t consider strongly enough is just how much of getting healthy and fit is in their head. Most people assume incorrectly that if they do enough exercise, they will lose weight. They also assume that they can eat anything they want as long as they do so in moderation. If moderation worked, nobody would be overweight because it would be so easy to execute!

The most important thing for anyone undertaking a healthy lifestyle is to erase negativity. Thinking about or focusing on the things you can no longer or should no longer be eating is negative thinking. Instead, here are some things I’ve done to erase negativity and embrace my healthier lifestyle:

  • Make a list of foods you CAN eat. You’ll be surprised at how much food you love and already eat you can continue to eat while losing weight and getting healthy.
  • Stock your pantry and refrigerator with good foods and whole ingredients. Having snacks or food that’s good for you to begin with make it easier to focus on the positives of cooking healthier foods.
  • When you have a craving or false appetite, think of something you enjoy that is a healthier option: nuts, fruits, or even some jerky or a slice of bacon will often do the trick.
  • Fake it until you make it. If you find yourself being negative, literally pretend everything is okay and that any negativity you are feeling is fake and force yourself to think happy thoughts. This sounds corny and ridiculous, but it works! This is how I got myself to enjoy running. Every time I would feel the dread of an upcoming run, I would instead force myself to be happy about it. I didn’t even think of positive aspects; literally, just forced myself to be happy. The craziest part: it worked.

Your mind is your strongest asset when adopting a healthy lifestyle. It’s up to you to make yourself succeed by having a positive mindset to push through and persevere. Getting healthy isn’t easy, but it can be made easier by having a good attitude.

Getting My Groove Back

The latest update from my wife Sherry and some of the AMAZING recipes she tried (and succeeded with) this week.

Our Daily Bacon

Ok, after a couple more weeks of emotional upheaval, I’m finally getting my groove back.  I went for a run this morning, did some yard work, and ran some errands with my favorite National Guardsman that will be leaving me in another week and a half for a 3 week school in the north east.  I’m expecting the next few months to be a roller coaster ride to say the least, but I am at least trying to stick with the diet basics and lose that last 5 elusive pounds since the vacation.  I made a small bit of progress again this last week, and I’m hoping to keep it going.

We also had a couple of real winners in the new recipe department that E.J. really wants me to share, so here you go:

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Targeted “Fat Burning” Is a Myth

22687841_10210465040331400_952804666486237811_nYou can’t do sit-ups and make the fat on your stomach go away while the fat on the rest of your body remains. Losing weight and reducing your body fat percentage works the same as deflating a balloon. The fat goes away from your body as a whole, not from certain areas.

I thought about how this myth got started, and I can only imagine that it began with people who work out exercising arms, chest, or legs. When you exercise those parts of the body, the muscles get bigger. This makes any fat on them appear to go away, when in reality, the muscles underneath are creating more volume which in turn creates more surface area which spreads the fatty layer out more, making it appear thinner. So, without really understanding what’s going on under the skin, an easy observation to make would be that fat goes away when you exercise a certain area.

But it doesn’t work that way.

I spoke to a co-worker who told me she was doing sit-ups to get rid of tummy fat. I told her what I said above, and she seemed saddened by it. I told her the good news is that she doesn’t have to do a bunch of sit-ups (which are really bad for your lower back anyway), and that instead, all she has to do is eat right. Of course, that wasn’t good news to her, because she says she doesn’t like vegetables.

You can lead a horse to water…

You lose weight in the kitchen and get fit in the gym or on the track. Not the other way around.

It’s more like stairs, not a slide

Scottish StairsLosing weight. When you first start to lose weight, you lose pretty quickly. The first 10-20 lbs, as long as you’re doing the right things, comes off easily enough. Then, however, things change and it gets more difficult to drop those pounds. I’ve found that when I track my weight (which I have been doing since I started in September 2015), my weight drops like steps on stairs rather than in a nice, linear fashion (like a slide).

I held steady at 179-180 lbs for the past two weeks. Then, in one day, I weigh 176 lbs. How did that happen? I have no idea. I’ve read theories as to why that is: fat cells get flushed after 30-45 (I’ve also read it’s up to 90) days of non-use. So, if you can keep from allowing those fat cells to store fat, the body will decide that they are excess and let them die. Is this actually what happens? Maybe. Maybe not. Did they over simplify it for us non-medical people? Perhaps. Either way, the fact remains that in my experience, my weight has dropped in steps, and I don’t lose weight little by little, day after day.

It’s important to make note of these trends when you are trying to keep yourself motivated and having to stick with a diet when faced with temptation and options that are not healthy for you. When you know what to expect, and you know that there will be many days when your weight doesn’t actually change, you know that you have to just keep doing the right thing, eat right, and wait for it. The drop will come. It’s a matter of when, not if.

You are not alone. It’s aggravating, and sometimes no matter how perfect you are doing everything, results don’t show up immediately. You have to wait. You have to trust the process, be patient, and just keep doing the work. Besides, when the drope does come, you will feel so much more accomplished because you waited it out. You stuck with it, and you persevered. Nothing easily gained has value.

Fat Flush?

OK. I know a lot of people are desperate to lose weight and to get healthy and they are always on the lookout for some shortcut or easy way to drop some weight and to lose some fat. There are as many products out there designed to steal your money help you lose weight and fat as there are colors in the world. There’s one huge problem with these products: the vast, overwhelming majority are nothing but lies.

Just this morning, I saw an ad on Facebook for a fat flush. Allegedly, if you drink this concoction, it causes fat in your body to somehow be flushed from your body. If only stuff like this actually worked!

Products like this ignore science, and prey on those who are desperate to make progress in losing weight. These people are the ones who have been lied to by educators, by friends, family, the medical profession, nutritionists, and the government. These people have tried so many other methods that have all failed that they’ve lost nearly all hope of losing weight in a healthy or safe manner. If only more people realized that sugar really is the root of obesity and so many health problems, and not fat.

Is there such a thing as a fat flush? No. There is not. I wish it were illegal to advertise fraudulent products like this designed to literally steal money from people, but somehow, it’s not. All they have to do is say that their results have not been confirmed in a lab or study and somehow that makes it legal. Let’s not point out the fact that the print that says so is often very small and visible for only a few seconds. But I digress.

Don’t fall for the products. Lose weight and get healthy the right way: through diet (and exercise, if you also want to get fit). I have laid out the basics, and the Internet is full of sites that can help you do it the right way. Remember: if something seems to good to be true, it usually is. Fat burners, fat flushers, and weight pills/powders/products are all nothing more than elaborate schemes to empty your wallet and to fill someone else’s.

And then… three pounds gone.

I have no idea how it happened, but this is something I used to experience back when I  first embarked upon my journey to better health, and it’s something I never quite got used to: plateaus and jumps. This morning, I realized a jump of three pounds lost.

Wow.

What did I do different than the past few weeks? Well, I ate food my wife made, I ate proper portions, and I didn’t drink any alcohol. I didn’t run after work as I had intended due to impending bad weather (which, incidentally, never came but threatened menacingly for hours after I got home), and I’ll be unable to run tonight due to a dinner engagement with my wife, but I plan on getting back to running for the first time in nearly two weeks. I hurt a nerve in my lower back stretching while I was on annual training, and it’s taken a week for it to stop hurting. I should be okay to get back to running. I can’t believe how much I miss it. Not the work or the running itself, but how I feel afterward.

So… don’t despair. Keep doing the work, keep eating right, and stick to the plan, and eventually, your body will get the hint and drop the pounds. At least, that’s how my body works.

Keeping the Motivation Going

Motivation is like the tide; it ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I find it hard to get going on a run, while other times, I look forward to it all day. The same holds true for eating right. There are days when I feel like I can conquer my appetite or any cravings that come my way, and there are other days where I feel like I will succumb any moment. How do I keep riding the Motivation Express?

I do lots of things.

First of all, I try to do lots of things (see what I did there?). Keeping my mind occupied helps me get past cravings and false appetite. As long as I’m doing something, I find that eventually, the craving will pass.

Second, I get out and do some exercise. Even when I don’t feel like exercising and I’m looking for just about any excuse to not run, I run. Exercise has the double effect of being good for me (cardio is good for my heart, and running keeps my run times fast for the National Guard) and when I run, any cravings or appetite I had fades for at least an hour or more.

Third, I tell myself that it’s not an option. I MUST eat well, or I MUST exercise. There’s more at stake than the short-term instant gratification. More often than not, if I do succumb to a craving or false appetite, I end up regretting it almost immediately. I remind myself how bad it feels afterward, and usually, that’s enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Motivation wanes every now and then. I liken it to a pendulum that sways back and forth. It’s normal to lose motivation every now and then. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just learn how to get past it, how to push yourself beyond a lack of motivation, and how to keep going toward your goal. Sure, it’s not easy (or everyone would be healthier/lighter/fitter/etc), but with some mind hacks, you can do this.