Mindset over diet

I am a stress- and emotional eater. I eat fast, I eat a whole lot of bad stuff in as short time frame, I eat when I’m not even hungry, I grossly overeat when I really am hungry. When something that’s unhealthy in my mind touches my tongue, I go overboard and think ‘what the heck’. I anxiously try to eat healthy and try to keep count of everything I eat in a kind of obsessive way, to make sure I eat healthy all the time. My thoughts about food are really black and white. In my mind, I know it’s nonsense, but changing the way you feel about something is really hard. Last year I decided I needed to seriously change my thoughts and behavior, because just following a healthy lifestyle or a diet didn’t change that for me and I ended up relapsing and gaining weight again.

My current method is to stop and stand still. I try to do yoga regularly, I meditate, I have therapy and I think everything together is working for me. I’ve watched a TED-talk about addiction some days ago, which I also thought was really helpful. I thought it was a bit like mindfulness, the speaker talked about letting cravings or bad thoughts be there, accept that they’re there, but you don’t have to act on them. It works better than fighting the thoughts or cravings, because it’s like the ‘don’t think about a pink elephant game’. It only makes you think about it more! So here’s the video, I hope you guys get the same out of it I did:

 

 

Kcal in/out & fat burn zone

I am so guilty of obsessing over my kcal burn at the gym compared to my calory intake, especially since I got my new Fitbit Charge HR. It’s funny how we perceive something to be so true and solid, while at the same time, it’s really fooling us. For example, how do you know your food contains exactly the amount of calories you’ve calculated? You actually don’t, its all an estimation, which is fine by me, but thought you might want to know before you stress out over a few of them 😉

So now something about the fat burn zone. It has been a myth for a long time, that in order to lose weight or lose fat, you need to do low intensity steady state (LISS) workouts to burn fat. The myth says your heartrate needs to be in a certain zone to maximise the amount of fat burned. There is a bit of truth behind it, but not in a way you might think. I’ll try to explain. Screenshot_2015-12-19-21-49-09-1

Your body contains a certain amount of glycogen, which is basically long chains of glucose. There’s some storage in the muscles and in the liver. It’s a fast and easy way of providing the body energy fast when it needs it. Like in emergency situations, where you have to run away fast in case of danger for example. The thing is, your body really wants to preserve this storage for these emergencies, but will use is when it’s necessary. Fat burning is slower though, it needs more processes to get to energy so it’s not efficient in emergencies. So, for example, you go for a long and sturdy walk (LISS), the body will burn some glycogen, but finds out you go slow and steady (no emergency), so it starts up the processes of burning fat. Slowly, the amount of fats used as energy will increase and the amount of glycogen used will decrease. It will never go to 0%, but because of the slow and steady pace, you’ll have a higher % of fatburn in comparison to the fast and shorter situations where you’ll get a higher % of glycogen burn.

So up to now, you’ll be like, ok, you said it’s a myth but this really sounds like LISS is the way to go for fat burn? I’ll try to get to the clue. It is ALL about energy in and energy out. If you burn more energy than you eat, you’ll lose weight and vice versa. It doesn’t really matter if you burn a higher fat %, because in the end, the body will restore the glycogen stores, using the fat stores if you don’t eat more than you burn! And guess what, the more intense the workout, the more kcal you burn, so in the end, you’ll also burn more fat with intense workouts. There’s been a lot of research about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is short bursts of high intensity training followed by short periods of lower intensity training. It happens to be that you’ll burn a lot more kcal during these workouts, but also AFTER them, making them very efficient for losing weight!

So before I conclude I’ll have to add something else. There actually are other benefits of LISS, like getting more endurance. You’ll not hear me say that you shouldn’t do LISS. It’s just that I think it’s good to know what type of exercise benefits are out there and what will fit your goal! Personally, I’ve been heavy weightlifting (which is also a bit of a HIIT workout) since the start of my journey. For the first 10 months or so, I never did any cardio. Right now, I do 20 minutes of HIIT intervals on the elliptical after weightlifting. I also try to get 10.000 steps daily, which means I go for walks almost every day, which is my LISS workout. It keeps me active and energetic!

All or nothing

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything over here. My main medium is Instagram, I use this blog when I feel the need to write more than a couple of sentences. Today I feel like writing something about the ‘all or nothing’ principle a lot of us (former)fatties have stuck in our head. For me, this has been the reason why I have clothes in all sizes in my closet (ok, recently I gave the bigger ones to charity because I’m really done with that, yay!). I always felt like either I was on a strict diet and exercise regularly, OR I was eating ONLY bad stuff an no exercise at all (All or nothing!). Preferably this was divided by weeks/days/months, so THIS week, I’m doing good, or, THIS week is already ruined and I will start my strict program next Monday (always Mondays, why don’t we ever start a diet on a Tuesday??).  This resulted in a lot of weight fluctuations and not being able to maintain any type of weightloss. As you may (or may not) know, I’ve been on my ‘getting fit’ journey for over a year now and I must say, it really is something I struggled with, but I feel like I’ve got it now! I’ve realized (and also experienced), that weightloss takes time over several weeks/months/years and losing weight is all about the balance towards the healthier choices. That doesn’t mean you should choose healthy all the time. I sometimes skip the gym because I had a long day at work, and guess what? The week is not bad because of it! I also had a fantastic easter dinner last sunday and guess what, I’m still doing ok and losing weight. Losing this ‘all or nothing’ mentality has really made the difference for me. It doesn’t mean I have no problems with losing weight anymore, it just means I am psychologically better equipped for maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life. I still have binge moments, especially when I’m tired or emotional. I guess this is something I’ll have to deal with for some time, I hope it will go away, but if it doesn’t, I’ll find a way to make it work. So, there’s one thing a lot of my IG buddies talk about when I post about it, and that’s Yoga! I will write something about it in my next post!

Three degrees of contagion (yes, being fit is contagious)

As you may or may not know, I recently started my residency in psychiatry. This week I’ll attend a lecture about the network theory. As a total nerd, I wanted to know more about it before I even go to the lecture, so I started some reading. The network theory is just a very abstract theory that can be applied to so many things, so I started to think about it in terms of my own losing weight/getting healthy and fit journey.

network, 3 degrees of contagion

You can apply the theory to your own social network. You put yourself in the middle as a dot, and everybody you are close to is also a dot, connected to you by a line. For all those people, they’ll also have their own people they are close to, represented by a dot, connected to them by a line. If you make a graph like this, up to the third layer, there will be a lot of dots and lines, this is your social network (you can make it bigger by dotting everybody you know vs everybody who’s close to you and go up to the sixth layer, but let’s keep it simple). Ok, so statistically, it has been researched that up to the third connection (this is the ‘three degrees of contagion), your behavior can influence the other people in your network. For example, if you’re very happy, your first connections have a 15% higher change of being happy themselves, the next connection 10% and the third connection 6% (all statistically significant and free from bias).

I find this theory very interesting, especially when I think of it in weightloss terms. A lot of us (former) fatties complain about the fact that our environment is not helping us in our journey (bad food around us, inactive people/work). This is very true and can also be scientifically explained by the network theory. BUT, we can also turn it around. What if I decide that I’m going to live a very healthy and active life and be fit. This will mean that my direct surroundings will also have a higher change of living such a life. I’ve seen it happening, my 2 brothers have also started weightwatchers and my youngest brother’s fiancé too. My sister goes to the gym more often and my mom too. My collegues have started bringing healthier things and want to go on my lunch walks with me. And in a more digital world, my IG friends get inspired by me and start mealprepping or other fit stuff. I find this very inspirational and really, it helps my own journey too! Both my brothers celebrated their birthdays recently and both served healthy snacks (yay). So in other words, you create your own environment! By changing yourself, you can help others to change too (without telling them to change), and they’ll help you to stay on track. This is how we create a fool proof world for ourselves. So spread the lifestyle people!

How to get that booty, strike a pose!

IMG_20150214_164425Yes, this is a picture of me, both are me and made on the same day. It might be a bit obvious, but it’s dead simple to make a before and after picture when it’s about that booty progress! Just adjust your posture, arch your back, point your toe and make 100 pictures and select the best.

 

The whole fitness industry is getting obsessed by the booty. I´ve seen a lot of ´fitness´ profiles on Instagram, promoting (selling) a program to get a booty. They have great booty pics of themselves and women fall for their programs like it’s the new 50 shades of grey. And don’t get me started about those ‘she squats’ pictures, they annoy me to the bone as you can see from their body that most have never seen a gym on the inside, at least not the weights room. Recently someone posted a gross picture of Kim Kardashian, showing clearly that she has booty implants and how messy it really looks. It still makes me shiver thinking about it. Getting a real nice booty can be simple and hard. Why? There are 3 reasons why it can be hard, I’ll sum them up for you:

  1. Genetics: You can be born with real nice round and full booty, just losing a bit of weight and a couple of months in the gym in the weights section can give you an amazing booty. If you’re born with a not so great booty, you can still get one, but it will definitely take longer and more work!
  2. Genetics part 2: how fast do you build muscle? If you’re a fast builder, it will take you less time than a slow builder.
  3. Starting point: If you’re obese, you won’t get that perky cute butt as fast as somebody who is only a few pounds overweight, simple as that!

So many people focus on squats. Well, there is more to life than only squatting. Here are my tips on getting a killer booty (no, not in 6 weeks, maybe not even 6 months, but it sure helps getting a nicer booty!).

  1. Lose weight by eating healthy and lifting weight. Most women need to lose a bit or a lot of weight before that booty becomes really visible. You can squat till you’re dead, but really, nutrition is more important than squatting! Check out this page of mine with posts about losing weight (nutrition and weightlifting).
  2. Train the whole body! Training one particular muscle group (the glutes) is almost impossible and also not really wise. Training multiple muscles will increase the natural release of growth hormones in your body, which will also make that booty grow faster. Aim for 3 total body workouts a week, check out this post about weightlifting if you don’t know where to start. Having a great back, shoulders, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps will make your booty even look better! Having great abs will also benefit your shape, check out this post about abs.
  3. Squatting is great, but there are other exercises more booty specific. I would advise to start with compound movements (squat, deadlift, split squats, lunges, leg press, step up, glute kickback) and end with more glute specific exercises (hip thrust, single straight leg deadlift, back extention, good mornings). If you focus on that glute squeeze and push the weights from your heels in most of these exercises, you’ll train the glutes a bit more. If you don’t know these exercises, look them up on bodybuilding.com. Don’t do all these in one setting, divide them over the week and add upper body exercises too!!
  4. Use it or lose it! If you’re sitting all day at work, make sure you create some space for walking. Take a walk before work and/or in your lunch break. Go to the bathroom furthest from your place, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Sitting all day is detrimental for a nice looking booty!

So now you know, there are no secrets in getting a nice booty. It’s just hard work and time that will get you there!

How to get abs…..

ab-abominations-1Surprise, you already have them! Or you are some kind of freak of nature, born without abdominal muscles, which would really suck, sorry! Look at this hot example of abs, click on it if you want, it takes you to a great article that I also refer to later in this post.

I read the sentence ‘I just want abs’ all the time and it always creeps me out. Why? Because there is a whole industry based on a lot of nonsense ways to ‘get abs’. The abroller, abtronic, even my gym has its hourly ab-15 minutes. You go to fitness sites and they’ll tell you to do a certain amount of exercises for a certain amount of days and you’ll get abs as a result. Let me tell you, this is all BS!

First of all, by saying ‘I want abs’ most people mean, ‘I want to have a flat and tight stomach with some visible abdominal muscles’. Most abs are covered by insulation (aka fat) so they’re not visible. Training your abdominal muscles till you drop will NOT automatically melt away your stomach fat and show some shizzled abs. Why? Well, abdominal muscles are just like any other muscle: you give them regular heavy training and in time (yes, time….) they will grow a bit and get more definition. Bigger muscles burn more energy, that’s true, but in comparison with the whole body, the abdominal muscles are just tiny and won’t contribute that much to fat burning. You will need other ways to lose your fat and show off your amazing midsection!

Abs are made in the kitchen

Many people write this and though I understand and agree with the thought behind it, technically it is not correct, because you already have abs. The thing is, you need to eat healthier and less calories to lose your fat and at a certain fat % your abdominal muscles will show. This is different for everybody, the same can be said about the way your abdominal muscles look (4pack/6pack)! A much better sentence would be: Abs get trained in the gym and will show itself when you stop putting so much crap in your mouth.

Personally, I would rather call it ‘core muscles’. A strong core is very important for a fit body! Having a strong core will give you great posture and prevent injuries. Training lower back and side muscles is equally important as training your abdominal muscles! Did you know that by doing a lot of free weight and (standing) single arm/single leg exercises, you already train your core? Did you know that doing endless sit-ups doesn’t really take you anywhere? You can read a great article about ab-mistakes over here. If you ‘want abs’ go and read it!

Oh, and if you don’t feel like doing those exercises and reduce eating crap, you can always get ab implants:

AOGe4Ad

 

Swimming makes you fat??

Today I want to write something about swimming. To start, I LOVE swimming, always have and always will. My mom called me a water rat when I was young (in a loving way of course). On holidays I could spend hours in de pool, playing, swimming, doing water ‘acrobatics’. Later on in life, I started speed-swimming when I had my knee injury and couldn’t do normal sports out of the water. I was actually not bad, but stopped due to time and motivational problems.

Last year, when I started my weightloss and getting fit journey, I started swimming once or twice a week before work. I did it for 45 minutes and then felt really accomplished. Until I read an article with the title ‘swimming makes you fat’. I was like: What?? I thought I was being very good by swimming, it’s easy on the joints for a very obese person, but if it makes you fat then why should I do it? I read the article and did some of my own research and found the following:cust_bg_87_1399620442455

Swimming on itself doesn’t make you fat, BUT: most people who go swimming to lose weight, do it in a slow pace and because of the weightlessness you actually don’t really get your heart rate up so you don’t burn more than when you sit at your desk. The problem is that people THINK they had a great workout, and tend to eat more to compensate the calories they never burned, so they can actually gain weight.

I wanted to see if this was true, so I bought a heartrate monitor that could get wet and works in pool water. I measured my heartrate during my 45 minutes in the pool and guess what, I didn’t even get into the first zone on the monitor. I was shocked, I thought I had some great workouts in the water, meanwhile I could’ve just laid in my bed (ok, I admit, I’m a lazy person). So instead of quitting swimming, I changed my routine. I did some reading and read a lot about HIIT (high intensity interval training). I did the following: I started with 5 minutes higher tempo swimming, the kind that will raise your heartrate to level 1. Then I did 30 minutes of HIIT. Normally you use the clock for HIIT, like 30 seconds fast and 30 seconds slow, but that’s kind of difficult in the pool. I chose to swim my fastest (the type that will leave you out of breath) from one side to the other and then swim medium speed back to my starting point then did this until 30 minutes were finished. After 30 minutes I did a 10 minute cooling down swim. This way, I burned about 300-400 kcal during this 45 minutes.

Currently I don’t swim anymore as weightlifting and climbing takes all of my time. I do think swimming can be a great cardio workout for very obese people or people who have injuries (and the elderly), because it’s easy on the joints, tendons and muscles. What you need to remind yourself of (if you want it to be a workout), is that it’s only a real workout when you raise your pace and get a bit out of breath. Personally, I’ve stepped away from the cardio-only view and started weightlifting to aid my weightloss. You can read about it in this post. I also wrote something on how to start weightlifting in this post. As you all know, exercise is great, but if you don’t control what you put in your mouth, it won’t make you lose weight: you can’t outtrain a bad diet!

The scale…. and why it´s not the scale but the mind that needs a change!

If you’ve ever followed a diet, you know the detrimental effect the scale can have. Getting on that scale after a week of very good behavior and a lot of exercise, only to see that you’ve gained a pound. Angrily, you walk to the pantry, get out those cookies and eat the whole package, because that healthy eating doesn’t even make you lose weight. Been there, done that!

OMG Scale

So what is weight exactly? Weight is something that’s a man-made agreement, measuring the gravitational force that’s pulling your body down on this earth. So, if you read this again, you see that it says nothing about the amount of fat, bone, muscle, water, other tissues or intestinal content (lol haha, I’ll talk about poop a lot in this post). We tend to zoom in on that fat, so  when we lose weight we think we lose fat and when we gain weight we think we gained fat. Fortunately, it’s not that simple!

Nowadays it’s popular to say ‘Oh, that’s water weight’, or ‘muscles are heavier than fat’. The last one always makes me lol, gaining a pound of muscle in 1 week…. really…. tell me your secret, because no bodybuilder on the heaviest schedule ever gained a pound of muscle in one week! There is some truth to it though, a very muscular person weighing 150 lbs will look much thinner than a non-muscular person weighing 150 lbs. Muscle doesn’t ‘weigh more’ than fat, muscle is denser than fat, so 1 lbs of fat is much bigger than 1 lbs of muscle. Ok, so let’s get back to the scale and your bodyweight.

Your body doesn’t have a calendar. It doesn’t know it’s weigh-in day. The body only cares about surviving and having homeostasis. Homeowhat? Homeostasis is a difficult way of saying: the body wants the internal conditions to remain stable and relatively constant. Examples are temperature, acidity, amount of salt dissolved etc. So, for example; you ate a lot of salt, the body wants a certain amount of sodium to water percentage, so to be able to maintain that percentage, your body will try to retain more water and you’ll weigh more. How to get rid of water weight? Why? Why do want to get rid of water weight? The body will autocorrect and automatically in a day or two it’s gone. It’s not fat, it doesn’t cause any harm, just relax, move on and let your body take care of itself!

So now let’s talk poop! This is a big contributor to weight fluctuations. How? Well, food eaten travels through your intestines until all nutrients are taken from it and you finally excrete it like poop. This doesn’t happen in a few hours. It differs from person to person and from time to time within the same person. It’s influenced by what you eat, how much you eat and how much you drink. Sometimes food takes more than a week to finally end up in the toilet. Did you know that carbs need a lot of water to digest? So if you’ve eaten a carb heavy meal, there’s a lot of water inside your intestines. No worries, when it’s digested, it’ll also leave again! A lot of women are obsessed by going to the toilet. They feel like they need to go daily or else something is wrong and they say they’re constipated. Actually anything between going 3 times a day and twice a week is normal! You don’t need extra stuff like those intestine improving yoghurts… Just eat enough fiber, fresh fruit and veggies and drink enough water, it will come! And go if you feel like it, because keeping it inside because you’re at work actually does create constipation….. So how does it affect your weigh ins? Well, if you just had a great, nice and big poop, of course you’ll weigh less than before you pooped. Does that affect your weight loss progress? Not at all!! The same can be said about eating something. You´ll weight more after a big meal than you did before you ate the meal. Does that make you instantly more fat? No! I sometimes read stories of people who weigh in at night and don’t eat anything during the day, only water and tea. That really sounds silly to me, because the weight of the food in your stomach doesn’t make you fat, and don’t you want to measure fatloss?

Ideally, weight shouldn’t be measured weekly if you can’t handle these fluctuations! Weekly weigh ins are great to track your progress though, I do it too, sometimes even daily! But I don’t let it ruin my mood, it’s just like that, the body takes care of itself and will regulate perfectly without us stressing about it! The long term progress is what counts, so please, do yourself a favor and don’t stress too much about those fluctuations. They are very normal and natural and sometimes don’t show the fat you’ve actually lost. Don’t worry, go on, you’re doing great!

Nutrition is the key to weight loss!

Nutrition is such a big and important subject in weightloss! You can’t lose weight without changing your eating habits! Really! I know all these extreme weightloss programs focus on exercise, you©2010 Nicolle Clemetson see people running and jumping all day and losing weight fast. Why? Because it’s good and fun television! It’s kinda boring to watch somebody eat their healthy food every day, saying no to cake at work and doing their healthy groceries. I do really love how motivating this Chris Powell is! And not to mention the amount of eyecandyness 😉 The same counts for those online fitness profiles. Don’t get me wrong, I love them too, like Katyhearnfit and followthelita on IG. The thing is that it’s just really exciting to see somebody build their body with exercises. Don’t forget me when you look at their vids!

As you might know, I follow the Weightwatchers program to lose weight. I love it and it really fits me, but other programs can also work. Losing weight is actually really simple, eat less energy than your body needs and it will burn your body fat to compensate for the amount of energy it still needs to function normally. There are so many ´rules´ people came up with and they really complicate things, like: don´t eat after 8 pm, don´t skip breakfast, don´t eat too many carbohydrates (I’ll refer to them as carbs from now on), don’t starve your body, eat more protein, don´t eat carbs for dinner, don’t eat gluten, don’t eat soy, don’t eat lactose, take vitamins, take meal replacements, eat every hour, eat 6 small meals, eat clean, eat paleo, don’t eat sugar, drink applevinegar every morning, don’t use light products, do intermittent fasting, make mealpreps, eat 10 bananas a day, stand on your head while drink a glass of cold water…. All these opinions makes me nuts and really confused. What to do??

Well, for starters, I’ve tried sooo many of these things. I really think some stuff might work for people, but I gotta tell you, most of these things don’t work for me. I like to keep it kind of simple, because if you give yourself so many rules, then there are also so many ways to fail and for most obese/overweight people failure leads to overeating/emotional eating and self hate, so my first advise is: set up something that you cannot fail! How do I do it? Well, I actually IMG_20150110_182441allow myself to eat everything. Yes, I can eat cookies, ice cream, pizza, wine, whatever. So, by allowing myself to eat everything, I cannot be mad at myself when I do J You can hear a big but coming… BUT: I track everything and I try to plan it and of course not every day and not in the amounts I used to eat them. I also don’t give myself time restrictions. If I want to eat something at 11 pm, I eat it. If I want to eat carbs at dinner, I eat it. There are some rules I gave myself though, the most important one is to eat enough protein. When you’re losing weight, your body is struggling to get energy and the stuff it really needs. If you don’t eat enough protein, your body might get some of its protein from your muscles and really, that’s the last thing you want when losing weight (less muscle=less energy burned). Protein is also necessary after weightlifting, because your muscles need it to build and get stronger. I also gave myself a ‘1-banana (or any other type of high kcal fruit) a day’ restriction. Weightwatchers lets you eat fruit and veggies without counting them, but some fruits like banana’s can contain a lot of kcal, so I try to eat only 1 a day. The last thing I try to do is to refrain from light products and try to eat as natural as possible (but enjoy my non-natural foods when I eat them!).

What I also learned during my journey is that not everything that makes you lose weight is healthy, and not all healthy things makes you lose weight. You get me? Let me give you an example: Avocado’s are healthy, they contain a lot of unsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins etc. One avocado contains roughly 230 kcal. So, if you normally eat IMG_20150121_1220262000 kcal daily and you maintain your weight like that, and you add a daily avocado, you’ll eat 2230 kcal daily, which will be more then you need and you start gaining weight. So now another example: You eat 2500 kcal daily and you are overweight and maintain your weight with this intake. You want to lose weight and decide to eat 1800 kcal daily. You start making different food choices and take light products to reduce your energy intake and get to the 1800 kcal daily. You’ll lose weight. But… is it healthy? Personally I believe light products are generally unhealthy as they add a lot of chemicals to it and sometimes uses sugar as fat replacement (I’ll talk more about sugar later). With this ‘diet’, you can also eat cookies and donuts every day, as long as you stay under your 1800 kcal goal. So, to conclude, by only eating foods that are considered healthy, it’s still possible to not lose weight and even gain weight. The other way around is also possible, you can lose weight while eating unhealthy things.

There are a lot of opinions and only a few scientific papers about the fact that not all calories are created ‘equal’. I think I’m kind of leaning towards this, instead of ‘a calorie is a calorie’, whether it come from an apple or a burger. Many people follow IIFYM (If it fits your macro’s). Macro’s are macronutrients, in other words; fat, protein and carbs. You count your daily intake and count kcal, fat, protein and carbs. So if a donut fits into your daily macro allowance, you can eat a donut. The same counts a bit for weightwatchers, if you have points for a donut, you can eat a donut. Though I like this idea of eating a donut daily (nomnom), the problem is that it is full of refined sugar and carbs. I’m not a carb-hater, really, but refined carbs I try to avoid as much as possible (but again, enjoy them thoroughly when I do eat them). Why? Well, it used to be a real popular opinion that we should avoid fats and dietary cholesterol to keep our arteries and heart healthy. Guess what, lately more and more research is showing that the beginning of atherosclerosis actually starts by small inflammations caused by fast rising bloodsugar levels (which you will get from eating refined carbs). Fast rising blood sugar levels also creates fast rising insulin levels to bring down the blood sugar. It sometimes ‘overshoots’ so the insulin rises too fast and the blood sugar falls too fast, creating hunger and feeling lightheaded, leading to eating more!

Did you know eating artificial sweeteners can also make the insulin levels rise? Our body is such a great working machine, when you taste something sweet, automatically, there are hormones produced to induce digestion, making the enzymes and making insulin to prepare for the coming blood sugar rise. BUT, if you only take something with artificial sweeteners (like diet coke), there is no rise of blood sugar, so your blood sugar will get lower because of the already made insulin, again creating hunger and lightheadedness. I sometimes do use artificial sweeteners, I just always combine it with something that contains complex carbs (like oatmeal), so I won’t get IMG_20150119_131222that blood sugar drop.

So again, I’m not a carb-hater paleo eating health nut. I do think that eating healthy is more than just reducing your calorie intake! It’s all about that balance, eat healthy on a daily basis and enjoy your indulges when you decide to take them.

Soon I will post something about vitamins, superfoods and supplements for weightlifting. Next post will be about that damn scale and why we should avoid standing on it!

Weightlifting 101

I’m not a personal trainer, seek one for professional advice. This is from own experience and research.

If you want to know why I think weightlifting is a great workout for losing weight, check out my previous post about this subject. Check also this post about changing your lifestyle and this post about changing your mindset to lose weight. Exercise is great, but nutrition is more important when you want to lose weight! This post is for the people who are like me when I first started: yeah you want to lift weight, but how do you start??

If you are not totally broke and spend every last dime in your wallet on food and rent, I highly recommend you to take a (or more) weightlifting lesson from a personal trainer. I personally did not do that, because I was stubborn and thought it was a waste of money. Looking back, I could’ve really learned stuff that I only got to know later in my journey. Most gyms also offer some kind of personal plan, which you can use to get to know lifting. Make sure you tell them you want to lift weights, because the perception that people who want to lose weight or get fit should do cardio and light weights is still widely spread. Some gyms have weightlifting classes or classes like bodypump. They’re great, but the problem is that you won’t get that personal attention to your form which is VERY important.

Even before you’re going to start, it’s very wise to do some reading about weightlifting. This post can be a nice start, but more reading is recommended! I got a lot of info from www.bodybuilding.com. Don’t get scared from their pictures though! Lol! They have a great database of weightlifting exercises including video’s of how to perform them. Be aware, almost every fitness or weightlifting website/magazine is sponsored by supplement producers, so don’t fall for all those ads, I’ll talk about those supplements later!

Food for thought… erhm musclesPower%20Shaker%20Hi%20res

When you lift weight, your goal is to gain muscles, right? So how does your muscle grow? I’ll have a more in-depth post about muscles later, but here’s a summary: muscles need strength training to get a growth impulse and they need protein as a building block to make it bigger and stronger. My advice would be to eat/drink a good protein source within 30-60 minutes after lifting. Make sure you also have protein with every meal during the day, I aim for at least 100-120 grams of protein a day. (When you have kidney disease or any other health problem, ask your doctor for advise!) You can calculate your protein needs on www.iifym.com. Make sure you don’t have a too big of a caloric deficiency! You need to fuel your body in order to build muscles, you cannot gain muscle when you eat 800 kcal a day! Don’t worry, you’ll still lose weight! Look at me, I eat 1600-2300 kcal a day! (There are also people who say you can’t build muscle without eating more than your body needs, this is not true, though it can go slower than when you’re ‘bulking’.) (Most hardcore body builders go through a ‘bulking’ fase, where they’ll eat more, gain weight which is muscle and fat, and then go through a ‘shredding’ fase where they’ll lose fat and maintain their muscles) You can check out my instagram pictures to see that I do have muscle gains without going through a bulking fase!

Form form form!

Yes, form is so important when you lift weight! Many people just want to compete with each other, try to lift heavier every week, but sacrifice their forms to be able to do it. Well ladies and gentlemen, that’s how you get injuries! It’s better to do some great form total range squats with 10 lbs than to do squats with 100 lbs with bad form. You aim for muscle fatigue, or the feeling that you almost can’t do another repetition. If you reach that with 10 lbs, fantastic! If you reach it with 100 lbs, fantastic too!

Reps and sets, what?

For the total gym newbie: reps are repetitions, they are divided into sets. So for example, when something says 4 sets of 10 reps, you do the exercise 10 times, then rest small and repeat this 3 times. There are a lot of thoughts about how many sets and reps are good for muscle strength/muscle growth/muscle endurance. The common mindset is that if you do 1-5 reps, you’re training for strength, if you do 6-15 reps you train for muscle growth and if you do more than 15 reps, you train for muscle endurance. Of course, the weight you’ll use is higher when you do low reps. Personally, I don’t think those ranges are that fixed, you do 1 more rep and boom you’re not training for strength anymore? It’s more of a percentage, so you’ll also train for strength when you do 12 reps, just less then when you do 4 reps, you get me? So how do I do it? Well, I do 4 sets of 10 reps for compound movements (I’ll tell you about that later) and 4 sets of 12-15 reps for isolations. I didn’t start like that though, I started with 4 sets of 10 reps for everything, later did 15 reps for everything and then progressed to my current schedule. I’m not saying this is how you should do it, try and see what works for you.

Total body workouts vs split schedules

When you read about weightlifting, you will definitely read a lot about split schedules. A split schedule is where you divide your body into parts, and you’ll only train that part on 1 particular day. Though training with a split schedule has its benefits for very experienced amateur lifters and professionals, I don’t see any benefits for beginners. I’ve been lifting for a little over 10 months and still only doing total body workouts and they work fine for me! The benefits are that you will train your total body a couple of times a week, you won’t get that with a split schedule. As a beginner, you won’t have a big load so your muscles will not need a whole week to recover (ok, maybe in your first week lol!).

Free weights vs machines

So when you look at the gym, there are machines, cable machines and there are free weights. All have their strengths, I prefer free weights and cables, but sometimes use a machine too. I recommend to do the same. The benefit of using free weights (dumbbells, barbells) and cables is that you’ll use your own body to stabilize yourself instead of a machine stabilizing you. This way, you’ll train those small muscles to keep you balanced, which can be very good for injury prevention! And of course you burn more! Another benefit is that you’ll train your core muscles throughout your training, so you don’t need endless ab exercises (I hate those…). There are a couple of things that can help you to use free weights. A squat rack for example. When you progress to higher weights, it’s nearly impossible to get the weight you need for squats from the floor and onto your shoulders/back, because the upper body is usually less strong than the lower body. You can put your barbell on the rack a little lower than shoulder height, put your weights on it and than go stand under it to get it on your shoulders. There’s dumbell-barbellalso the smith’s machine (look it up if you don’t know what it is). It guides the barbell up and down (some of them can also move back and forward). Though it can be very useful, I prefer to do my squats, bench presses and overhead presses without it, the same reason why I don’t use the other machines. The only reason I’ll use it, is when I want to try what my max is in a specific exercise. I add weight until I fail, so in that case, the smith’s machine can create some safety, as you can turn the bar and it won’t fall. I don’t recommend maxing out for beginners.

Kettlebell

Lately, the kettlebells have become really popular. I use them too, I actually do a kettlebell circuit once a week. I also love them for my step ups, because they fit nicely in my hands. Some gyms have kettlebell classes, so go and try them! Form is very important for kettlebell workouts too!

How many times a week?

I started with 2 total body lifting workouts a week. Take it easy in the first couple of weeks, try your exercises first with bodyweight or low weight only. You won’t be happy when you fly into your new routine and then won’t be able to walk for 3 weeks…. I would say, try to strive for 3 total body weightlifting workouts a week. Make sure you rest enough too! Everybody needs a restday, I personally have 2 full rest days a week, I only do light walking on those days. Your muscles need rest after lifting!

Cardio?

There’s nothing against cardio, so if you like it, go do it! But know it’s not necessary to lose weight! Doing it more than an hour actually can cause muscle decline. Personally, I end my workout with 10-15 minutes on the elliptical. I do 1 fasted HIIT workout a week on the elliptical too (can’t do other HIIT workouts due to hip injury caused by running/jumping). I will write something about HIIT too in the next couple of weeks.

So now you know something about weightlifting, but you still don’t know where to start. I highly recommend to start with compound movements and total body workouts only! Compound movements are those exercises where multiple joints will move and you train multiple muscles at the same time. The opposite of compound movements are isolations, where you will isolate 1 or 2 muscles. Why am I saying this?

  1. With compound movements, you will train multiple muscles so it saves time
  2. Training multiple muscles –> burning more during 1 exercise
  3. With compound movements, you will also train those muscles that keep your joints stable, which will benefit you in your fitness journey
  4. As a beginner, you have to learn your basics and get stronger in that before you go further

Lower body compound movements:

  • Squat (different types, like goblet squats, plié squats, single leg squats)
  • Lunges (different types, like walking lunges, curtsy lunges)squat-like-a-boss-1
  • Deadlift
  • Step ups
  • Leg press

Upper body compound movements:

  • Pull up (assisted on the machine when you can’t do bodyweight)
  • Dips (assisted)
  • Push up
  • Bench press
  • Military press
  • Lat pull down

There are numerous ab exercises out there. As I said before, I don’t do them too much, they’re just a muscle group that you need to train a couple of times. A great one is planking, another great one is the V-up. Try to find 2-3 that work for you and stick to them!

If you don’t know these exercises, go and look them up on www.bodybuilding.com! Click on the squat picture above to go to an article of them about squatting.

What about that booty?

A lot of women want to lift weights to get a nice and round booty. I’ll write something about that soon. The compound lower body exercises I wrote here, also target the booty. There are a couple of isolations for the booty (and other muscle groups), which you can add later into your routine.

So now start:

Choose 3 lower body exercises, choose 3 upper body (try to combine push and pulling ones) and go do them! Choose 6 different ones for your second workout day of the week and you got yourself a beginner’s schedule! Good luck! And let me know how it goes!

Example:

  • Monday: Squat, pull up, step up, military press, lunges, push ups + 2 ab exercises
  • Friday: Deadlift, bench press, leg press, dips, plié squats, lat pull down + 1 ab exercise

Oh, and if you feel like you’re too big to go lifting or you’re afraid people will look. Well… yes, people will look, but 90% of them are just really nice people! Everybody was a beginner once and had to start somewhere, remember that!