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:

 

 

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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!

Mealprep week 8

If you want to start mealprepping/mealplanning yourself, I uploaded a printable mealprep planner on my mealprep page for you to use, have fun!

Another week, another mealprep! I´ll write something about my experiences with the raw vegan week soon. To be short about it: I loved the meals I made, but totally binged in the weekend. I find that restricting myself too much leads to the opposite! IMG_20150216_135528

So now about this week: I wanted a simple, but nutritious mealprep with a bit more vegetables and fruits (one of the things I learned from my raw vegan week). I always eat extra food on the days I go to the gym! If you want to calculate your exact needs, go to http://www.iifym.com.

  • Breakfast: Superseed oats with raspberries, blueberries and a banana
  • Snack: Questbar, carrots and cucumber
  • Lunch: steamed sweet potato, steamed chicken breast and steamed broccoli
  • Snack: walnuts, 1/2 bell pepper, apple
  • Dinner: yellow spicy quinoa, minced lean beef with mushrooms, onion and kale, sugar snaps and grape tomatoes
  • Snack: a pear

I took it super easy, not making bananabread and chosing meals that are cooked quickly. This way it is possible to make it really fast. This is how I did it:

I started in the morning making the breakfast oats, for the recipe look here. I always make it for 5 days and eat one right away. I divided the berries so I won’t be left with only a few on friday 😉 I shopped for my groceries which were super cheap this time! I started with putting the chicken, sweet potato and broccoli in the steamcooker. I cook the chicken for 60 minutes, but remove the layer of broccoli after 15 minutes and the layer of sweet potato after 20 minutes (I really adore this machine). In the meantime I cook the quinoa with maggi, curry powder and tumeric powder. I fried the onion in a nonstick pan together with the mushrooms. After this, I added the minced meat and only in the end 2-3 hands full of kale. When everything is cooling down I cut the veggies and put them in the tubs. Divided the rest of the meals in the tubs and of course made pictures!

I’m so looking forward to spring/summer! 20150216_113024I’m going to have a vegetable and herb patch on my balcony, I will keep you people updated! Here is a picture of my broccoli seeds getting ready to sprout! 🙂 Have a nice day everybody!

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!

Weightlifting is here to stay

As you can read in my weightloss story, my main exercise is weightlifting. It’s getting really popular lately for women, especially for losing weight. You can find a lot about why it’s good for you, I’ll try to explain some of those things in this post, but mostly I’ll talk you about my experiences (the good and the bad) and how it affected my weightloss journey. I will dedicate another post about ‘weightlifting 101’, because all those theories and stories are nice, but how the hell do you start?

Let me start by saying: Find a type of exercise that you like or might like and stick to it! Don’t force yourself into something you hate, because you will quit after some time, which is not a good thing for your lifestyle and mindset! Lifting weights is great, but if you don’t control what you put in your mouth, it won’t give you the results you want!

My weightlifting

So why did I start lifting? A couple of years ago, I tried to lose weight and tried weekly ‘bootcamp’ as exercise. I was very obese at that time, about 265 lbs/120 kg. It was very hard in the beginning, with the running, the jumping and everything in between. I had a blast though, the people were really motivating and I really got better fast. After 2-3 months I could go like the rest of them, and decided to start going twice a week. That was the biggest mistake I ever made, it was too much for my still obese body and I developed a severe hip injury that left me not even being able to walk normally for some weeks/months. Needless to say, I got very demotivated, stopped exercising completely and also stopped eating healthy (ok, I know, that’s so stupid). I gained the 20 kg I lost at that time, and it wasn’t till march 2014 that I wanted (and needed) a change. I looked stuff up, I did a lot of research on the internet and found out that lifting weights would be something for me. I already had a gym membership (I almost never went, whoops), it’s a nice gym and my parents and sister also go there. I talked my mom into going (she also wanted to lose some) and there we went. I had made a schedule for us to work on, we started going twice a week. I was very uncomfortable there, feeling looked at being so big and being with my mom, but we stuck to it! We started going 3 times a week (total body workout) and a trainer from the gym helped us to make our Screenshot_2015-01-14-10-45-17-1schedule even better. Currently, my mom is out with 2 broken feet (I know, it’s very bad and she’ll need surgery for at least 1 of her feet, it didn’t come from lifting though!). I’m still lifting and loving it every day! Lifting makes me feel strong, it makes me lose weight steadily (it’s still a straight line, look at the graph here on the right). What are the bad sides: if you don’t take it seriously and don’t do it correctly, it can cause injuries!

Why lifting?

There are a lot of reasons why a woman should lift. There are numerous articles about this with a lot of in-depth explanation. I’m going to try to make it simple for you:

  1. Lifting heavy weights will transform your body into a fat burning machine and makes your body look hot!

toning is for printersThat’s it 🙂 lol! Ok, maybe a bit too simple, I’ll add a little more of an explanation. Lifting will increase your muscles, bigger muscles burn more energy. When you do this during your weightloss journey, there will be no muscle loss (which WILL happen if you only do cardio). Lifting weights during your journey leaves you withScreenshot_2014-07-27-02-15-19-1 a body that burns more, so you can also eat more, how about that? Many girls say: I’ll do cardio to lose weight and than I’ll do some toning…. Oh, that one really bothers me. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do cardio, I’m saying you should definitely add lifting. Don’t be scared to become like a man. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but those women train very hard for many many years and really to have those real man-like muscles you need steroid or testosterone injections as women naturally will not become that big.

You don’t get muscles with doing only cardio… Really? Really! You can read a very simple summation of what lifting does over here: (Picture is also from their website, it shows the difference between marathon runners on the left and sprinters on the right).

Training

I’ll post a ‘weightlifting 101’ very soon, because if you’re like me, it can be really hard to start!