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HEATHY EATING CHALLENGE FINAL WEEK 6

By Hannah Retel | In News, Trainer Challenges | on March 18, 2015

IN SIX WEEKS I’VE LOST 3KG ON THE SCALES, 1.5% BODYFAT AND 22CMS IN MY GIRTH MEASUREMENTS – VERY HAPPY INDEED

Warning: mini-rant ahead!

Want to change your body, energy and fitness levels without spending extra money on fad diets? It’s easy. You don’t need to put your lifestyle choices in the hands of people who want to $ell you Michelle Bridges, Juice Plus, Herbalife, 60 Day Cleanse, Paleo cookbook, I Gave Up Sugar etc. All you need to do is use common sense, self-control, plan ahead for your food and exercise sessions, an extra dose of willpower occasionally and a whole lot of patience as your body slowly transforms. What I did is what every super-fit person does every day. They’ve developed these habits over years and usually struggle to break away from this lifestyle as it becomes addictive. Like I said, this costs nothing other than having a gym membership (for easy-to-access variety in exercise training) and a bit of initiative. I hate seeing people peddle get-thin-quick schemes (seaweed body wraps hello?!) and trendy extreme diets as featured in the Sunday papers: I believe if they worked in the long-term then the dieter would always look and feel great but the people that follow this stuff are usually classically yo-yoing in their healthy lifestyle commitment.

So back yourself – this stuff isn’t nearly as hard as you think. You might even used to do this regularly once upon a time – now it’s time to get back on the horse & giddy-up!

NOW IT’S OVER, WHAT AM I GOING TO RELAX ABOUT DOING?

Not a damn thing! I’ve made the decision to continue my healthy habits indefinitely as I’m not denying myself any treats (just having them in absolute moderation) and I’m being pretty rational about my exercise as well – I am still having two rest days a week (Saturday and Sunday).

IN A NUTSHELL, THIS IS WHAT I DID:

 

STOOD ON THE SCALE ONCE A WEEK

Yep the dreaded scales. Don’t have them in my house, but the cold hard truth – both good news and bad each week – was a clean piece of evidence as to what I was doing wrong or right. Many people avoid the scales but this is like avoiding looking at your bank balance – it will catch up with you in a bad way one day. If you’re not where you want to be with your weight it doesn’t make you less of a person, but looking at that number means you’re going to be more vigilant in your food choices that week, I guarantee it. You check your finances regularly for accountability’s sake so why not the scale?

I will continue to get on the scales every Friday morning from now on.

PRACTICE PATIENCE EVERY DAY IN THE MIRROR

One sobering truth about not being in my 20s anymore was the fact that the weightloss was extremely slow, interspersed with randomly bloated days, and plateaus that would go for over a week where no matter what I did the weight wouldn’t shift. However I trusted that the science of what I was doing was correct and that my body would come good eventually. And it did, but it took a lot longer than in previous years (even when I stacked on the pregnancy weight 7-9 years ago – 98kg! Yes that’s right – I felt like my body responded quicker to healthy actions once they were established as I was a lot younger). When my body is bloated etc it’s very tempting to throw in the towel and give up and embrace crappy eating habits again as the mirror seems to mock me. In the past I would have given up but not this time and I was rewarded at the four week mark with a lot of compliments – it took that long for my body to recalibrate itself I suspect.

USE WILLPOWER/SELF-CONTROL REGULARLY

Every day. More than once per day as well. Old-fashioned, walk-away-from-the-pantry, put down the chocolate discipline. Some days I didn’t think about it at all. Other days I was hormonal or just tired and all I wanted to do was jam a tablespoon into the Nutella jar. On those days, I settled for a small teaspoon instead with one delicious small scoop only. Many times I even put the Nutella back before I opened it at all, I even surprised myself there.

PLAN AHEAD FOR A FEW DAYS – DIFFERENT KINDS OF VEGGIES, PROTEINS & FLAVOURINGS IN THE FRIDGE

Doing this was way easier than I feared it would be. This needs to happen every time you go to the supermarket.

IF it’s helpful, make a list of your preferred protein + vegetables + flavouring combinations, leave it on the fridge and keep a pic of it in your phone to use when shopping. Now, my fridge pretty much always has something like this inside: eggs, steak fillets, chicken breasts, smoked salmon, tuna, pancetta, schnitzels etc. plus frozen and fresh veggies, cream, parmesan (just for a hit of flavour), etc etc.

I’ve heard many excuses as to why this is too hard but I never believe them. It’s as easy as making your child’s lunchbox. Put your next day’s lunch in the Tupperware while you’re dishing up dinner – too easy.

HAVE A GOOD TIME SOCIALLY BUT KEPT IT IN MODERATION

Initially I wasn’t going to go out at all socially but I’ve realised that spending time with friends is a rare treat that I really treasure. So I was the designated driver and a few times had ONE vodka&soda, although I’m such a lightweight due to my fitness that one drink is enough to knock me about the next day and waste a whole Sunday feeling like crap. Want to lose weight quickly? Stop drinking – I know plenty of people are knocking back a few bottles a week. Trust me it feels better to not drink 9 nights out of 10 and you won’t miss it after a couple of days.

MOTIVATION DEFINITELY DISAPPEARS REGULARLY – PLEASE BACK YOURSELF

About every four days I lost motivation and stopped caring so much – usually when I was really busy with real world stuff & I had no time for navel-gazing. I recognised this as a manifesting pattern and addressed it by using the “don’t care, give up” days to look at inspiring fitness images and really eat a few super-clean meals to make myself feel good again. A day later I would be excited about being fit and healthy again.

HUGELY AVOIDED (BUT NOT COMPLETELY CUT OUT) SUGAR & SALT, ALCOHOL

Hands-down the three biggest bloaters & weight-gain culprits. Cut this stuff right down and you’ll lose weight. It’s hard to completely eradicate salt and sugar out of your diet so aim for as little as possible (but I believe that you don’t want to be a pain about salad dressing etc when you go to a social event – nobody likes a diet Nazi. Just quietly avoid what you don’t want to eat).

I still had a small sugar in my strong coffee every morning but that was it most of the time – Nutella and Collodel’s ice cream would get a teaspoon taste every few days. Sometimes the dressing I used on my meals would have a lot of sodium, and I could taste when it did too. Overall I avoid these three nasties pretty easily I don’t eat a huge amount of processed food as a rule.

STOPPED BUYING & EATING MY JUNK TREAT FOODS – CHEESE AND CHIPS WHERE ART THOU?

Stop outright buying your worst treats. My trigger treats are no longer welcome in my kitchen – it’s not worth the weight gain again. I will eat them socially but they’re off the shopping list permanently.

FOUND HEALTHIER SUBSTITUTES FOR FAVOURITE MEALS

For example I love eating corn chips and home-made croutons and I swapped them for roasted sweet potato wedges – my body thanked me by losing the bloat and giving me back more energy. This is one that you should ask your Personal Trainer about for helpful ideas – no nutrition question is stupid!

STOPPED SKIPPING MEALS – 3 TIMES A DAY I ATE A BALANCED, MODERATE-SIZED MEAL

As discussed in my previous blogs. I didn’t measure or weigh or count anything but each meal was big enough to keep me full & not snacking for four hours.

PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN (PLUS FIBRE)

Protein as the main part of every meal. Most women I know at the gym would benefit from eating protein at least twice a day. Eat like a man – they usually don’t just have salad! And I definitely recommend a cooked breakfast when possible (eggs, veggies, bacon etc).

FIBRE-RICH CARBS FROM VEGETABLES – NO BREAD OR PASTA AT ALL

I don’t cut carbs – I need them with the amount of training I do. But I chose to only get my carbs from veggies and I had so much energy as a result. I enjoy vegemite on toast like the next person and would grab a bite of my son’s occasionally. But I haven’t had a sandwich let alone a bowl of pasta for many moons – I would feel grossly bloated if I did I reckon.

PLENTY OF FATS BUT GOOD FATS KEEPING ME FULL

Almonds and walnuts, avocado, PEANUT BUTTER (my secret lover), olive oil, cream in my coffee – all fats that are tasty and kept me full without sugar and salt accompanying it. I don’t cut too much fat out – I believe that sugar makes me fat, not fat (as counter-intuitive as that sounds)!

REPETITION OF SAME BASIC MEALS

At the start I ate the same 4 basic meals (veggie omelette, steak and veggies, tuna, peanut butter and raw carrot & capsicum, chicken schnitzels with veggies and parmesan, almonds and bananas) for about 10 days as I needed to have complete structure to control my pig-out urges. After 10 days I was in my groove and ready to eat a greater variety of foods. Now I have about 12 different meals I can make that fit the bill for my diet.

WHERE’S THE FLAVOUR??

Plain meat and steamed veggies – boring and inedible. I don’t look forward to that meal. Bring the spice, flavour, taste, dressings – but don’t drown the meal in it. This is eating healthily for life, not a 30-day cleanse where the goal is to eat plain.

I love chilli, peri peri, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, butter, lemon, parmesan cheese (a big tablespoon) – and I had some on most meals. Damn those meals were delicious!

DAILY HIGH-QUALITY CARDIO: WE ARE ANIMALS MEANT TO MOVE

I am fitter than many people so I needed to push to 90 minutes cardio daily (rest days I walked the dog and cleaned my house). Most people would see huge benefits from 45-60 minutes of consistent daily cardio.

STEADY-STATE CARDIO AND INTENSITY CARDIO

5 days a week I kept my heart rate at 150-160bpm on the treadmill/crosstrainer for 30 mins – I would do this at 8.30am after I dropped the kids at school. I would also get in a daily walk of about 50-60 mins first thing in the morning – my alarm set for 5.45 am. Teach a class most days too, and do my own weights 3 times a week at lunchtime. Sure that sounds like a lot – I do more than most. But I always had energy from my healthy eating to do this and if I’m honest most “fitness” lifestyle people do a lot of training like me – we’re addicted; we love the feeling you get when you move your body hard.

MIXING UP MY TRAINING TO AVOID REPETITIVE STRESS INJURIES

This is where having a gym to train in helped hugely. Just doing the one form of cardio everyday (eg jogging) will lessen your performance over time and contribute towards overuse injuries. I loved the variety of the treadmill, crosstrainer and Spin bike as it meant my muscles were constantly challenged. Plus I learned years ago I can’t do my resistence exercises alone in my living room – I need the different equipment to give me ideas and the other people around me to chat with – I have made friends of all ages in the weights room. Not the same training at home.

WEIGHT TRAINING TO GIVE ME SHAPE, CURVES AND SCULPT MY BITS

I spoke about this in my last blog. This is the reason my back muscles look so pronounced in my after-photos. Embrace the mental and physical release of regular weight training – it is incredibly satisfying and so good for your body. You can sculpt the body of your dreams in the weights room. You will appear younger for many years if you’ve got mature muscle from years of lifting.

 

Considering I was very unsure as to whether this was a good idea to do initially (document a healthy eating and training program) I can concretely say I am so happy I did this.

My final results are exactly what I had hoped for and the best part is I haven’t smashed my body with extreme amounts of exercise nor an extremely limiting nutrition plan either. I am at my dream weight & body now: any slimmer and I don’t like how I look – this is perfect for me. I don’t want to do the extreme work to get a super-low bodyfat percentage/8 pack abs in my mid-30s; life is too damn short! I’ll leave that to my fitness competitor friends.

Thank you to all the gym members who have come up and chatted to me about this blog: I have met quite a few new people too – everyone knows my name & I need to learn a few more so we can be friends! See you all soon in the classes and in the weights room too J

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