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!

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!

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!

Mealprep 101

IMG_20140616_180131I always get a lot of questions about and comments on my mealpreps when I post them on Instagram. Let met start by saying: you don’t have to mealprep! I do it because it really helps me to stay on track and lose weight, but if it’s not for you, then that is totally fine!

If you scroll down on my instagram page, you can kind of see how my mealprepping started. I started with making 3 dinners on a plate, for easy and healthy eating when I come home tired. I progressed to adding breakfast and later on I also started prepping my lunches. Nowadays I prep for 4 days on Monday (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks). I usually add some extra snacks (usually protein) on the days I workout.

2 Most frequently asked questions:

  1. Doesn’t it spoil? Do you freeze them?

The answer is no and no. I use airtight containers for the lunch and dinner. The breakfast goes in a bowl without a cover in the fridge. I don’t freeze them, because it alters the taste, makes is more dry and it’s not necessary. We are always so afraid of food going bad, but really, if you work hygienic, use the proper containers and have a proper working fridge, there is no problem. I even don’t cool my lunch during the morning, I just put it in my bag and eat it at noon. And everything tastes very nice 🙂

  1. Isn’t it boring to eat the same every day?IMG_20140611_194205

This is very personal. For me it’s not boring. But I can imagine you wouldn’t like it. And that’s ok! I’ve prepped different meals for every day, but it just wasn’t worth the time for me. I only do this 4 days a week, so the other days I eat something completely different. Personally, eating the same for 4 days really works well for me. It takes out the guessing and the emotional eating. I see food as a nice way to fuel your body, it’s not something to control your emotions with!

How to start:

Ok, so you want to start prepping, here are some tips and questions you need to ask yourself before you start.

  1. My first tip is don’t go overboard the first time. You’ll get overwhelmed by everything and might quit soon! Try to prep 1 course, so maybe only lunches or only dinners.
  2. Plan before prep! Think of the following:
  • Where am I going to eat my prepped meal?
  • Am I going to eat it cold or hot?
  • Do I have the possibility to heat if I want to eat it hot?
  • How many meals/which days are busy for you?
  • Do you have enough tubs?
  • Where are you going to keep them, how are you going to transport them?
  1. Every ‘boring’ meal can be made nice by herbs/spices/garlic/onion/pepper/salt/ginger etc.
  2. What does your meal has to contain? (weightwatchers: how many pp? Slimming world people: what day and how many syns? Calorie counters: how many calories? Macro counters: how many macro’s?) iifym.com is a great site to find out how many calories and how many macro’s your body needs. www.myfitnesspal.com is also a great way to track what you eat and it also has an app!
  3. When you choose your food: don’t choose food that has to stay partially raw, like rare steak. I choose food that can be heated thoroughly so germs die and don’t spoil it after a few days.
  4. When are you going to prep and what are you prepping exactly?
  5. When are you going to do the shopping? For how many days will you shop?
  6. Create a shoppinglist and a prep-plan
  7. Clean your kitchen, empty the dishwasher/sink, get the stuff you need out on the counter/table.
  8. Get started!

Hiccups:IMG_20140810_154524

So everybody has hiccups on their path. For me, I’ve realized I have to change my meals weekly, because prepping the same week after week will leave me nauseated and not feeling like eating it anymore. I learned from this. I’ve also learned that I don’t like the taste of reheated fish (I’ve tried tilapia and salmon). If I want to prep with fish again, I’ll leave it for dinner and just fry it when I want to eat, because the frying of fish doesn’t take that long. You’ll find out yourself what works for you and what doesn’t. Write it down, make a plan and change it if necessary. I’ve learned to write down the exact cooking plan. Why? Well, I had a plan in my head of what to do first and what can cook at the same time, but forgot I only had 1 big pan and 2 dishes needed the big pan lol.

What stuff do you need?

Well, this is different for everybody, the only thing I know is the stuff I use, some things are just handy and not really necessary:

  • Proper tubs (BPA free!) that can stand cooling, microwaving and the dishwasher.
  • Cooking utensils (pans, spoons etc.)
  • I use the oven frequently, but not 100% necessary
  • I use a steamcooker frequently, but again, not necessary (Mine is Tefal, Jamie Oliver edition)
  • SCALE (if you want to know how much you eat, you can’t do without!)

Portion control:

So you’re cooking in bulk, how do you calculate your exact portion? Not too difficult I must say, but I’ve got some tricks that make it very easy. If you have separate ingredients, like steamed sweet potato, steamed chicken and broccoli, it’s not really difficult to weigh the portions out in your tubs. But, I cook dishes with multiple ingredients frequently and that got me doing this method:

  1. You weigh your pan before you start cooking
  2. You write down everything you put in the pan (100 gr. Rice, 100 gr. Chicken etc.)
  3. You calculate the total amount of points/syns/calories/macro’s and devide it by how many meals you are making (so 40 pp for the whole pan, 4 meals, 10pp per meal).
  4. You weigh your pan again, but now with the finished product in it.
  5. You subtract the original pan weight from this finished product weight.
  6. Now divide this weight by how many portions you are making.
  7. Now put your tubs on the scale and weigh out your separate portions.

You could also just start scooping things in the tubs and than weigh every tub and redivide, but that is a pain in the behind, so I prefer this method (also good for oatmeal breakfast prep!).

When you have any mealprep questions, just ask!! I’m trying to upload my mealprep weekly with a shoppinglist and a plan which takes you through the process.