BY ERIN WASHINGTON | PHOTOS BY KAY LUCIEN
HEY GIRL HEY. ARE YOU WORKING OUT ON A DAILY BASIS BUT NOT LOSING WEIGHT? ARE YOU ALWAYS CHOOSING A SALAD OVER WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO EAT ONLY TO BE DISCOURAGED EVERY TIME YOU LOOK DOWN AT THE SAME NUMBER ON THE SCALE? I’VE BEEN THERE. I WAS YOU. I’VE STRUGGLED WITH FOOD AND BODY IMAGE SINCE I WAS 16. I WAS A SLAVE TO THE SCALE, SHUNNING FAT AND CARBS AND WORKING OUT EVERY DAY. I NEVER SAW RESULTS I WAS HAPPY WITH. AFTER 20 YEARS OF BATTLING BODY ISSUES, I’M IN MY BEST BODY AT 36.
I FINALLY FOUND A FORMULA THAT WORKED FOR ME AND FEEL COMPELLED TO SHARE IT WITH ALL OF THE WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING LIKE I ALWAYS HAVE. I MAY NOT HAVE ANY NUTRITION OR FITNESS TRAINING CERTIFICATIONS BUT I CAN TELL YOU THIS:
I WEIGH LESS NOW THAN I DID ON MY WEDDING DAY—WHEN I WOULD ONLY ALLOW MYSELF CABBAGE SOUP! I FINALLY FOUND MY BEST BODY AND HERE’S HOW YOU CAN TOO:
Eat More Food, More Often.
It goes against everything we’ve always been taught—“eat less to lose weight.” But the old “calories in vs. calories out” mantra has failed me for years. I would run at least four miles every day and eat mostly salads and never lose a single pound. After hearing about my frustration with the scale, I.S.S.A. Certified Personal Trainer, Clif Brooks (aka The Transformation Specialist and Creator of “New You in 90” program), encouraged me to stop counting calories and start tracking “macros.”
Macronutrients are the main components (mainly protein, fat and carbohydrates) that your body relies on for fuel. “Your body will run optimally provided you eat the right amount of macronutrients that it requires,” Brooks explains. The appropriate macros for your body’s needs are calculated based on your age, weight, job and amount of activity you’re doing on a daily basis.
Counting calories can lead to crash dieting. I’m guessing there was a time in your life when you lost weight on a quick fix, fad diet. I’m sure you felt great initially, but was it sustainable? As Brooks explains,
“For every 20 pounds you lose the wrong way, you lose 12 pounds of body fat and 8 pounds of muscle.” Instead of counting calories, try counting macros. After adding up how many grams of fat, protein and carbs I was eating in a day, I realized that I was under-eating by almost 800 calories a day. That’s an extra meal and two snacks that I was missing out on and that my body needed! Based on the calories I was expending through exercise, my body needed more fuel. Yours could need more, too! Not eating enough calories will destroy your metabolism. “It’s like telling your body that you’re starving,” explains The Biggest Loser Trainer, Jillian Michaels. “If your body thinks it’s starving, your metabolism will shut down. Not eating enough calories will force the body to cannibalize muscle and hold on to fat. The body considers muscle to be expendable during periods of starvation, and it considers fat to be necessary to insulate your organs for survival.” That’s right, your body is holding on to fat because you’re not eating enough.
My body wasn’t burning calories because there weren’t enough calories coming in—and they should have been coming in often. If you are working out consistently and not seeing results, I bet you’re not eating often enough. Have you ever tried to wait hunger out until an acceptable mealtime—cutting out snacks to save calories?
“Food is not the enemy,” explains wellness consultant and nutritional coach, Haylie Pomroy. “Food is the medicine and the fuel needed to rev-up our sluggish, broken-down metabolisms and turn our bodies into fat-burning machines.” Pomroy’s Fast Metabolism Diet encourages people to eat more food to lose more weight.
Now, I never let myself get hungry. I stay on top of it and make sure to eat every couple of hours—especially right after working out. “During a workout, you are literally tearing apart your muscle fibers,” explains NPTI certified personal trainer, Raven Carter. “Immediately afterwards, your body is trying to repair that damage. Eating protein and carbs help aid that process.” Eating every couple of hours keeps my blood sugar steady and my metabolism revved.
Obviously, eating more food, more often, does not mean you can eat as much garbage as you can and expect these results. But it doesn’t mean anything is off limits either.
Don’t Deny Yourself Anything.
Ever eat a bite of dessert and then just deem your healthy eating plan “ruined,” so you can justify eating badly for the rest of the day? If you make something off limits and then you eat it, it’s likely that you will just call that day (maybe even that week) a loss, vowing to start over on Monday. It doesn’t work. I used to do this often. If I ate a bite of cake, it was like “Welp, I blew it, so I may as well eat the whole slice (or whole cake, depending on how bad my eating was spiraling out of control at the time).”
Today, nothing is off limits. If you deny yourself for too long, you’re going to be irritated and not stick with your healthy eating plan. I practice some advice from Skinnygirl, Bethenny Frankel—I drink my wine or I have a dessert. I don’t have both. It’s not about denying yourself; it’s about making smart choices.
Lift Heavier Weights.
I spent years just going through the motions and picking up the same dumbbells at Orangetheory Fitness until two trainers, Clif Brooks and Raven Carter, took a vested interest in getting me results. They made me pick up heavier weights. You have to put muscle on your body to stoke your metabolism. “Putting on more muscle will increase your resting metabolism—you’ll burn more calories even if you’re not moving around,” says Carter.
More muscle = more food you can eat. Isn’t that reason enough? If you’re worried about bulking up, I can relate to that. I always stuck to manageable weights—telling myself I just want to tone, not bulk up like a body builder. I never saw muscle definition throughout that time. My arms finally toned when I picked up heavier weights. You’re not going to get bulky; you’re going to tone.
Did you go to the gym today just to be able to say that you worked out? Why? You’re dedicating an hour to yourself— an hour away from your job, your responsibilities as a parent or significant other—why not get everything out of it that you can? The effort you are putting in now has given you the body that you have now. If you’re happy where you’re at, stay with that program. If you’re not, push yourself harder.
You have to change what you’re currently doing if you’re looking for different results. I commit to pushing myself as hard as I can during that precious hour that I have in the gym. And then I give myself a break.
Years ago, you couldn’t pay me to take a day off. I ran 7 days a week…and I was almost 15 pounds heavier. Your body needs rest. Push it as hard as you can in the gym and then give it time to recover so you’re getting the most from it the next time you work out. You don’t need to work out every day to see results from your fitness program.
Quick Tips to Jumpstart Your Metabolism:
- Drink More Water. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking water (about 17oz) increases metabolic rate by 30% in healthy men and women. Even mild dehydration has proven to slow down the body’s metabolism by as much as 3%. Carry a water bottle in your purse and in your car so you think about it. Start your day with a big glass of water before you do anything else.
- Make Protein Your First Meal. What are you eating for breakfast? Brooks encouraged me to stop eating carbs as my first meal of the day. “While you’re sleeping, your body produces Ghrelin, a hunger control hormone. This increases the production of growth hormone (GH) and causes your body to burn fat for energy. Your GH levels are the highest about two hours after you wake up. As soon as you eat carbs, your insulin levels will spike, and your body switches from burning fat to burning carbs for energy,” he explains. So, essentially, a breakfast high in carbs can cause your body to store fat. Brooks advises to start your day with a breakfast high in protein and fat. “A higher protein breakfast will satiate you (keep you full) longer. This will help to increase your metabolic rate, causing your body to burn more calories throughout the day. Eating fat at breakfast allows your body to continue burning fat as an energy source,” explains Brooks. If you’d rather eat oatmeal or whole wheat toast, you can! Just make it your second meal of the day (at least 2 hours after breakfast).
- Cut Out Alcohol. Alcohol is processed by the liver—the organ that could be concentrating on burning fat, but instead, is busy filtering out alcohol! As Haylie Pomroy explains, “Every time you swallow a drink, your liver has to take time off from its fatburning job while it evicts the chemical intruder. Alcohol converts to sugar and dumps itself into your bloodstream so fast, your body desperately races to stash it somewhere it can’t do any harm—in your fat cells.” No bueno.
- Cut Out Processed Sugar. Just processed sugar. You don’t have to cut out all carbs! Carbs are your body’s primary and preferred energy source. Complex carbs such as whole grains and the natural sugar found in fruit is fine. You need the energy that comes from carbs since you’ll be working harder in the gym (wink).
Commit to these tips and you’ll see results in just a couple of days.
For more information on how Clif Brooks can help you, contact: TheTransformationSpecialist@gmail.com
ERIN WASHINGTON is a mommy blogger from Leesburg. She is a recent contributor for popular websites that include, Scary Mommy and Chowhound. She is passionate about wine, toddler fashion and naps. See more from Erin by visiting her blog, rookieinthismomgame.com.