Tag Archives: how to lose weight

The How-To Guide to Smart Snacking

I’m pretty sure all of us have fallen into the trap of mindless snacking. It’s one of the biggest road blocks in achieving our goals. We get home from a long day of work, our stomachs grumbling, but our feet are tired and so our minds. Instead of whipping up a snack, we go into the fridge or pantry and just mindlessly stuff our gobs until we somehow feel full. But usually we go past the point of being full, to where the point of not eating a good dinner because of that. And what does that lead to? MORE mindless snacking after “dinner.” If you can’t tell, this is a bad cycle. So how do we stop it?

Fruit protein smoothies: stopping mindless snacking since its creation

Fruit protein smoothies: stopping mindless snacking since its creation

Snack with a purpose. I can’t emphasize this enough so I’m writing a whole post about it. This is the best defense against the mindless zombie eating that can plague us all. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “oh, I’ll just snack on a few crackers while I think of a food plan—oops there goes the entire package.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve done this (yikes), but I’ve learned now, how to beat that back with a stick. A well-planned and satisfying stick.

Popcorn, cheese & crackers,

Popcorn, cheese & crackers,

What exactly is snacking with a purpose? It’s the opposite of mindless eating and I can’t tell you how much more satisfying it is than just stuffing your face. If you snack with a purpose, you have a plan. A plan to satisfy your hunger without going overboard and getting some nutrients to boot! It may take a LITTLE more time (and I mean little), but that is also a way that makes it that much more satisfying. Just like growing your own vegetables, when you snack with a purpose, you feel good. 

Egg on top of avocado

Egg on top of avocado

Snacking with a purpose means you don’t go straight for the chip bag. Instead, you have something in mind for a snack. Yesterday, I was craving something cold and refreshing. I wanted to go grab an iced mocha latte or something, but didn’t want to spend money and drink a bunch of sugar. So I bit the bullet, went home, had some chocolate milk beside a Van’s waffle topped with greek yogurtPerfect snack for after work or after school. You have some sugar in the waffle and milk to pick you up, the protein in the greek yogurt to keep you going, and the cold chocolate milk to refresh you. It’s well-rounded, simple, and took less than 5 minutes to make.

A little more extravagant version of my example

A little more extravagant version of my example

Starting to get it now? Snacking with a purpose means sitting down and eating something to keep that body and mind of yours going. It means slowing down for 10-15 minutes, making yourself some cheese, apples, and crackers or popcorn or an egg on toast to satisfy hunger and give the body what it needs. And the mind. You think your mind is happy when you shovel crap down your throat? Absolutely not. One of the reasons why we love eating is because it is pleasurable. So why skimp out on that just because it’s a snack? Make something nice for yourself, sit down, and enjoy a snack. Your body, your weight, your fitness, and your mind will thank you. Snack with a purpose to stay hungry and fit!

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BONUS KITTY PIC

Sajah trying to blend in

Sajah trying to blend in

How to Do Clean-Eating Right

As I continue to prep for my contest, I am doing 99% clean clean eating. Since doing my protein shake hell beforehand, this seems like heaven. I’m sure if I went straight from eating normal to this, it would be a little miserable. However, it looks like my hell week paid off in multiple ways. I’m doing clean-eating not the way a yogi would, but how a bodybuilder would. This turns a lot of people off who don’t understand that word—as if I’m food-loading like a steroid-using pumped out scary woman. I’m not, I promise! Read on to learn how to eat cleanly and enjoy it. I’m seeing differences in my health, body, and strength already after almost 2 weeks.

Working hard during a Spartacus circuit

Working hard during a Spartacus circuit

I can’t claim to be a know-all, be-all about this subject. Sure, I know how to live a healthy life, but this specific diet is more so Chris’ arena, since he’s done much more research into bodybuilding, contests, and the sort. So he set this up for me. Depending on the week (this is a 6-week contest), I’m either eating between 1300-1400 calories or 1400-1600 calories (like this week! Good thing too as we were in Iowa for family reunion…), keeping my protein and fiber count high, my fat, sugar, and carb count medium-low, and exercising away 800-1000 calories a day. Yes, I’m working really hard, lots of workouts. The eating part hasn’t really been hard for me yet, because like I said earlier, I came to this after just consuming protein shakes.

Now you know my “macros” (macronutrients). Everyone will have different macros depending on their goal and body composition. Comment below with questions and we can help you out. It’s not too hard to do this:

  1. Eat lean protein. I’m a strange “vegetarian,” but I’ll eat any meat or fish that’s wild-caught or hunted. Lucky me, I can eat canned tunafish! For you meat-eaters, this part and protein-macro-intake would be a lot easier. I rely on my tuna, usually mixing with a complex carb and lots of hot sauce (mmm!). Other lean proteins include other types of wild-caught fish, egg whites, tofu, and black beans. These don’t contain too many calories or fat, but are high on the healthy protein scale so they’re perfect. Another huge one is protein powder where you can get a lot of protein without too much carbs, fats, or calories. photo 1 (7)
  2. Stick to complex carbohydrates. What would I eat with my canned tunafish? A slice of whole-wheat bread (we usually stick to Rudi’s organic) or brown rice. My carb intake usually doesn’t stray too far from that—yes, of course I get carbohydrates from other things like fruits and vegetables, but I’m talking about the certain “category.” And don’t forget my main carbohydrate for breakfast—oatmeal. No, not the instant crap, the “quick oats” or steel-cut. Another great carbohydrate that actually isn’t too high in carbs is sweet potato and boy is it delicious! photo 1 (6)
  3. Fruits are not a free-for-all. We’re watching our sugars and carbs, remember? Usually, fruit is a free-for-all for me, and that’s when I see my sugar count skyrocket. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather you grab a handful of grapes than skittles. But for this contest, we don’t want grapes for fruit. The fruit you want to go for: bananas, apples, pineapple, blueberries and grapefruit. They have awesome benefits and don’t take you too far on the sugar or calorie scale. photo (15)
  4. Eat your vegetables! Again, you don’t want every single kind, some are more vitamin-intensive and calorically-dense than others. I will usually have some kind of vegetable with every meal, combining it with my brown rice and fish, or with my open-face tunafish sandwich. Stick to these veggies: spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and carrots. Go for dark greens and use sweet potatoes as carb substitute. photo 3
  5. Stay away from dressings, heavy oils, and the like. This is why bodybuilder’s meals seem so bland and boring. Most of them stray away from any seasoning whatsoever. However, that’s not necessary—as long as you do the right seasoning. With breakfast, I pour cinnamon on my oatmeal. Hot sauce? Try every meal. Run free with garlic. Be smart, you know what’s right and wrong. Don’t drench your salad with ranch, go for straight-up balsamic vinegar. This doesn’t have to be bland, use your seasoning (hot sauce is my absolute go-to).  
  6. Know your fibers: soluble fiber versus insoluble fibers. Right now, we definitely want fiber in our diet. And we want both kinds, depending on the situation. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel, making us have that full feeling and slows our digestion. Soluble fibers include oatmeal, beans, nuts, and oranges. Insoluble fibers are good for our gut too because they improve our digestion and have a laxative-like effect. These don’t dissolve in water so they pass through quickly and speed up the process of food and waste.  Insoluble fibers include whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, and root vegetable skinsphoto 3 (4)

Pretty easy rules to follow and understand. Let me give you an example of some meals that I cycle frequently:

  • For breakfast: 1/2 cup oatmeal, 3 hard-boiled egg whites with Frank’s hot sauce 
  • photo 4 (5)For snack: 10 almonds OR banana OR apple OR grapefruit

grapefruit

  • For lunch: 1 can tuna, peas, beans and Tapatillo hot sauce 

photo 1 (11)

  • For snack: avocado, pepper, bean, and onion salad 
  • photo 3 (9)For dinner: pan-grilled cod, sweet potato, and salad 

photo 2 (8)

  • For snack: protein shake OR carrots and hummus OR cabbage tuna wraps with 1 cup almond milk

photo 5 (4)

That’s one day. You can add or take from the above, with the knowledge you now have. Here are some other meals that are smart for macros:

Salad

Salad

Raw veggies

Raw veggies

Alright, that’s enough picture overload. I was just saying to Chris, I may be on a strict macro diet, but eating all of this food is enjoyable. I get fish and “chips,” I get tons of yummy vegetables, I get tons of hot sauce. It really isn’t that hard. You can do it too and your body will thank you. You feel so good, light, and healthy. You aren’t starving yourself, you’re giving your body what it needs. And hey, if it fits the macros, go ahead and have an ice cream like I did during my family reunion. Clean eating is one of the best ways to stay hungry and fit!

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Sajah hot in the apartment

Sajah hot in the apartment

The Best Way to Cut Calories: Swimming

This post was inspired by an old swimming friend that has more recently gotten involved in lifting weights and trying to transform his body. He is an extremely experienced and skilled swimmer so he has a lot of tools at his disposal. He does not enjoy running or biking as a means to burn calories but he is interested in cutting for the summer.

Cutting is a term used in the fitness industry, primarily among physique based competitions, that refers to a stage after bulking where you lower your caloric intake and increase your caloric deficits in order to lose fat. Through this process of lowering body fat percentage, the muscles that a person developed and strengthened during their bulking phase will be more defined, visible and prominent. It has a certain aesthetic effect.

Not exactly your typical lap swimmer (it's Alana)

Not exactly your typical lap swimmer (it’s Alana)

Mr. M (we will keep his identity a mystery) asked me if swimming was a suitable substitute for cutting and the answer is yes. Anything that helps you achieve your caloric deficit amongst a cutting phase, with proper diet and rest, is a proper form or substitute for the classic “cardio machines.” Most professionals have ellipticals, treadmills, steppers or even bikes in their home gyms. There are a few reasons why swimming does not receive attention on the same level. Those reasons are primarily seen as a disadvantage and therefore complicate the process. However, there are certain advantages as well if you are cutting for your own reasons and not trying to be like everyone else. Here are the reasons why people do not use swimming to lose fat:

1. Most people do not know how to swim. That’s true, believe it or not. Beyond that, many people that do know how to swim don’t know how to swim properly. The number of people that can swim the four competitive strokes and various other safety strokes properly is extremely small. Many bodybuilders are among this population and are not interested in learning how to swim. However, for Mr. M, this is not a concern and with strokes such as backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, and butterfly it is very easy to burn more calories than on a machine that plugs into the wall.

2. It is much harder to calculate burned calories while swimming. Machines that plug into walls have abilities to calculate these numbers, therefore making it extremely convenient for someone tracking these figures so strictly to hit their marks properly. This is not the case while swimming, as every stroke will burn a different amount of calories. Pacing yourself will also affect this greatly. Swimming a 100-yard freestyle on 55 seconds and following with a second 100 yard freestyle on 1 minutes and 15 seconds will result in different calculations that need to be made. If you are not extremely strict on your figures, then this is not an issue as you can estimate. You can also buy some new devices in the market that are waterproof and track your calories that are burned. Fit will be doing a post soon about these devices so keep an eye out for that.

3. It is generally more difficult to find a body of water, especially year round, that is safe. You can run and bike on land. You can run indoors in the winter no matter where you live. Finding a safe swimming spot is harder as it is a much more dangerous activity due to the medium of the water. In developing countries swimming is a luxury and something that the majority of the population does not know how to do. Overall, it is simply not as safe.

Despite these factors, I highly recommended Mr. M to swim in order to cut to achieve his goals. The best way is to use all the strokes that you know and incorporate them into a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. Switch up your strokes and change your pace consistently to challenge your body to work harder and burn more calories. Swimming for an hour at the same pace does not do much unless you somehow can maintain your full speed, or something close, for that whole time. I love to do 100 and 200 IMs (individual medley- butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle) with the 100s being all out and the 200s being at a steady pace. I will do 5-10 of each depending on how I feel with minimal rest in between. It makes me feel good, keep my skills fresh and avoids putting extra impact on my heavy flat feet.

If you are interested in specific questions related to swimming or cutting calories please leave a comment below. And look forward to more entries in the Best Way to Cut Calories series. Use this to stay hungry and fit!

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Meow

Meow

A Great Way to Lose Weight

This is for everybody, but mostly aimed at parents, kids, those trying to lose weight, or maintain weight. My message is simple: Food should not be a reward. I’m not really one to talk, but now I try to follow this too. Of course, we look forward to special dinners, nights out with friends, and barbecues with families, but what I speak of is different. Think about this situation: reminding your child before you drop them off at kindergarten that if they are good all day and don’t cry, they get to go to McDonald’s after!

Who thought eating at Wendy's could be so seductive?

Who thought eating at Wendy’s could be so seductive?

Now, what’s wrong with that situation? Well, many things, you might say. But think about the habits that it forms. Child thinks…do not cry, get to go to McDonald’s. Being good = deserving yummy food. They then depend on it. This doesn’t just revolve around children because children tend to grow up into adults. And then we develop emotional eating. 

photo (16)

I’m sure we’ve all experienced emotional eating at one point or the other whether it be happy (like the McDonald’s child) or sad. Every time, we feel we deserve a reward, we often think of food…cupcakes, an ice cream, you name it. It just sets us up for failure if we’re trying to stay on a healthy lifestyle or lose weight. We aren’t dogs (although, I tend to resemble one when it comes to churros) and we shouldn’t treat ourselves like dogs. When you’re sad, or when you were a child and became sad, doesn’t the thought of ice cream cheer you up? Stop your tears right in their tracks? Now it’s time to reverse that habit.

This takes a lot of time, effort, and willpower to reverse this bad habit that is so constant in our society. Whenever you feel like you deserve something, that you did something well, instead of celebrating by binge-eating that batch of brownies your partner made, go out dancing, to a museum, to a convention, on a trip! Find other ways of rewarding yourself. Put this into your mind! Think about it and let it seep into your life. Food is not a reward. It is an energy source. There are so many other things we can reward ourselves with.

Girl Scout cookie madness

Girl Scout cookie madness

This is so important for those trying to lose weight. Again, sometimes I do this myself (I could argue I’m not trying to lose weight, but it’s good to set examples), but I’m urging you to simply get out of the habit of rewarding yourself with food to avoid emotional eating or setting triggers for yourself. Let’s set ourselves up for success, not failure.

Yup.

Yup.

Feel free to comment or contact us in regards to any questions with how to break this. I hope you enjoyed these ridiculous pictures of Chris. Cheers! Use this post to stay hungry and fit!

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