5 Ways to Lose Fat, Not Muscle

fat-cartoon

All in all, weight loss is pretty simple.  Last week I talked about my top 10 weight loss tips, and as you can see, none of them require anything fancy to get the job done.

That said, there are a few key things that you can do in the gym, and out of it, to ensure that the weight that you’re dropping is actually the body fat you’re trying to lose, and not the muscle that will rev your metabolism and give you the lean look you’re going for.

1.  Don’t do too much cardio

Yes, cardio is an important component of overall fitness, but when it comes to fat loss, doing too much cardio can actually be counter productive.  Studies show that cardio workouts over 45 minutes can sometimes result in increased cortisol levels, muscle loss, overuse injuries, and decreased power output during your workouts.

For the best fat loss results, keep your cardio sessions shorter and intense.  High intensity interval training (or HIIT) is a great way to get in a hard as hell cardio workout in 20-30 minutes that will melt fat but not muscle.  Check out this treadmill workout for one of my favorites.

2.  Lift weights

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, lifting weights is CRUCIAL for fat and weight loss.  If you’re going to start somewhere, start with weights.  In this article by Fitness Rx for Women they site a research study that found that combining calorie restriction with cardiovascular exercise can result in your body using your muscle for energy instead of fat.  However, the same study said that by lifting weights your body would be able to maintain it’s lean muscle mass, and lose weight.

We all know that weight loss means you take in less calories than you use in a day, but without lifting weights it’s possible you will not lose fat.  Lift heavy, lift often.  When you only have time for a short workout, choose weights over cardio.  Your metabolism will thank you.

3.  Eat enough, and eat it in protein and veggies

Now that I’ve said to cut calories, I feel like it’s important to note that this isn’t an example of a scenario where a little is good and a lot is better.  Yes, you need to consume less than you burn on a daily basis, but do not take that to an extreme.  Rapid weight loss will not equal rapid fat loss, so it’s important you still eat enough to fuel your workouts and daily activities.  Get the majority of your nutrition from proteins, vegetables and healthy fats to help give your body the nutrients it needs to build muscle, and burn fat.

4.  Take a chill pill

It might surprise you to learn that being stressed can actually make it harder for your body to let go of your fat stores.  High stress levels can lead to an increase in the hormone cortisol.  While cortisol in normal levels is important to healthy functions within your body, when you get all jazzed out for days or weeks at a time and your levels spike it can create nasty side effects like elevated blood pressure, increased abdominal fat, reduced fat burning abilities, insulin resistance, and put you at cardiovascular risk.

Not all stress is controllable, but try practicing deep breathing, meditation or yoga to help your mind unwind.  Work through your stresses as best as you can, and most importantly, be sure to get enough sleep every night to help give your body and mind the time it needs to recharge and reboot.

5.  Stop being such a wine-o (or beer babe, or whatever your drink of choice is)

I really, truly attribute most of my weight loss to the fact that I cut back my alcohol consumption dramatically and now only have a drink (or two) once a week at most.

There’s a host of scientific reasons why that’s probably true, but here’s my version of it.  One, booze has a lot of calories.  Two, when you drink booze, french fries and pizza suddenly sound like an amazing idea.  Three, the day after drinking an entire bottle of booze you desperately need something greasy to make your stomach feel better.  And four, combined with all that nonsense, alcohol actually surpasses your metabolism in the process so not only are you consuming entirely too many calories, but your body is slowing down while you’re doing it.

I’m all for having treats and going out and having fun, but if you are like I was and drinking most nights of the week, cut it back and reap the rewards.


I am a cardio queen, so I still struggle the most with getting in my lifting on days I just don’t want to.  What about you readers?  What’s your biggest struggle in trying to lose fat?

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Maybe not so boldly going where I haven’t before

Lately I’ve been having more “cheat” meals that I strictly should given what my goals are.  This morning I spent some time asking myself why?

The goals I have physically and aesthetically for 2015 are damn clear in my head.  I know what I want to accomplish, and thanks to amazing coaching by Colleen Gallagher I know EXACTLY how to get there.  Weight loss and performance is truly a science, and if I just stick with the plan I will see my abs by this summer.

So why am I randomly eating ramen noodles on a Friday night when I have loads of healthy food in the house?

Here’s the thing, as it stands right now I am pretty much the smallest and leanest I’ve ever been.  Even if we go as far back as high school, when I was on the dance team and extremely active, I was the size and a similar shape to what I am now.  In my glory days of college where I taught group exercise classes and honestly couldn’t afford to stuff my face regularly, I was this size.

I’m more muscular now, but this is about it for me in terms of what I know my body is capable of.

But I want MORE.  I’ve never seen my abs before.  Ever.  And no matter how tiny I was, I never had a perky butt.  Those are both on my goal list this year, as part of my mission to continue to cut body fat.

So maybe part of the reason I’m cheating so much lately is because my body is at a place where I’m moderately content?  I’ve never known anything “better” than this.  I’ve never known anything leaner than this.

Is it possible, absolutely!  But it’s a place I haven’t been before.  Maybe I’m a little afraid to push myself there.  Maybe part of me just wants to rest on what I know I can achieve and comfortably maintain?

I’m not entirely sure what the reason or the answer is here.  But taking a minute this morning to just realize and uncover these feelings has me refocused for the day.  And really, isn’t that what working towards our goals really is?  Taking it one day at a time and finding success in every good choice we make.

Non-Scale Victories

It’s Fitness Friday and I’m in the mood to celebrate!  With the holiday season in full swing, I’m doing what most of us are and working hard to try to maintain balance with my fitness and nutrition, and all the fun going on around me.  I don’t ever want to get to a point where I’m not living life and enjoying it because I’m worried about gaining a pound.  And as someone who has now successfully lost over 40 pounds, I’m really working to understand not only how to keep these healthy changes I’ve added into my life, but how to maintain the weight loss as well.

Enter non-scale victories.  Sure, I still weigh myself and take measurements to ensure that everything is moving in the right direction, but the proof is in the pudding as they say, and lately my pudding has been delicious!

First up we have this killer Beast Mode pic from last week at the gym.  Have you ever posed for a flexing pic before and had people say, “ok but now make a muscle?”  Yeah, that was me for the longest.  Not anymore:

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The highlight of my week, however, happened just yesterday.  While getting ready for a bike ride on a beautiful day I ran across my most favorite pair of tri-shorts in my dresser.  I haven’t worn these since 2011 when I did the Florida 70.3.  I remember this because pretty much immediately after doing that race I stopped doing anything and started my slow and steady gain of close to 50 lbs that I’m still struggling to lose the last of.

Needless to say, the shorts haven’t fit in a long long time.  I tried them on back in October and still looked like a tasty triathlete sausage stuffed into a spandex casing and had some serious gut dun-lop going on.  (As in, my gut dun lopped over my pants).

Yesterday I decided to give them another go.  The results are below:

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TA-DA!  Those are some shorts that fit people.  And fit well.

It really is the little things that make this whole journey worth while.

So how about you guys?  What are you up to on Fitness Friday?

Don’t be jealous

weight loss

I admit it, I’m a bit of a hermit.  Sure, I go out once or twice a week, but it’s totally normal for my friends to only see me once a month or so.  Most of them just stalk me through social media, and love me anyway.

Lately I’ve been making the rounds and keep getting told how amazing I look.  *Brushes shoulders off* thanks peeps.  But even more than that, friends are reaching out to me privately to find out what I’m doing to see such great success.

Just this past week I’ve had five different people text or message me asking how I’m doing it.

I think sometimes regardless of how much we know about how to be successful in our weight loss and fitness efforts, it helps to have someone who is doing it tell you the things you already know.

So I tell them.  I’m eating healthy.  Lots of protein and veggies at every meal.  Healthy fats, starchy veggies for carbs.  I eat a lot.  I don’t drink.  I’m very active.  I lift weights every day.  I rarely eat junk food, and if I do it’s as a special treat and in moderation.

Basically, I do all the things we all know to do but always find reasons why not to.

Yesterday when talking with one awesome friend who recently popped out a  human from her vagina (ok actually she had a C-section, but really, it’s the growing the human part that’s hell on the body), she told me:

I’m super jealous.

Boy do I get that.  Before I started seeing my own success I remember trolling Instagram on #transformationtuesday and looking at all the amazing before and after pictures.  I remember wishing desperately that was me.  I would get angry with myself for not being strong enough to get there.  In some of my worst moments I would wish I was actually fatter and completely inactive so that I could do something “easy” like just walking around the block to lose weight.

Yes, I was that stupid.

But let’s face it, we’re all our own worst enemies.  And for a long time, I was mine.

My advice to my friend?

Don’t be jealous.  Do something about it and be your own success story.

 

I don’t have all the answers.  And lord knows half the time I still don’t know what I’m doing.  But I’m doing something, and you can too.

So readers, if you’re seeing success let me know.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing from you.  And if you’re struggling, lay it out there for me as well.  I will totally break out my pom pons for you.

No, Crossfit didn’t make me fat

About five months ago, I quit Crossfit.  Prior to leaving my super duper awesome box, I had been WODing for nearly two years, and loved every minute of it.

But since leaving Crossfit I’ve lost a shit ton of weight.  A few months ago it was enough that people were starting to notice, and at this point it’s enough that strangers are starting to comment on it.  I look good.  Damn good if I do so say myself, and I’m working my ass off for it.

Interestingly, there seems to be a camp of people who believe that Crossfit was holding me back/making me fat/made me gain weight/limited my potential the entire time I was doing it.  They have no problem pointing out to me time and again that it’s only been since I stopped doing Crossfit that I’ve found the weight loss and physique results that I was looking for, and truly believe that Crossfit was the “problem.”

So here I am to set the record straight folks.  Before one more naysayer jumps in and feels the need to spread their drivel let me clarify to the world:

CROSSFIT DID NOT MAKE ME FAT.

When I quit Crossfit I took a long hard look at the things I was doing from a fitness and nutrition perspective and made the decision and commitment to really overhaul  my lifestyle to make lasting changes to get the results I wanted.  I didn’t cut out Crossfit because it was a change I felt I needed to make to be successful, nor did I think it was holding me back.

I WAS HOLDING MYSELF BACK.

Crossfit isn’t what kept me from reaching my goals.

These things are:

  • Alcohol- I was drinking most every night, and not just one glass of wine.  The calories in the booze combined with the effect it had on my metabolism, and the poor nutritional choices I made as a result of being buzzed contributed to my unhealthy weight.
  • Poor Nutritional Choices-  As I mentioned above, I wasn’t great about making good choices.  While I certainly knew HOW to eat well and to fuel my body properly, I was also just as likely to justify a cheeseburger and fries BECAUSE of the really hard workout I had earlier in the day.
  • Eating too Much-  Calories are weird little buggers.  Sure you can eat 100% Paleo for several days straight, but if that involves gobs of bacon and avocado and not so much in the spinach and greens department, you’re not going to see weight loss results either.
  • Making Lots of Excuses-  Any time I deviated from the nutritional guidelines I knew I should have been following, I always had a really good reason why.  If I had spent that much time and energy convincing myself to just stick to the healthy choices, I would have been much further along.

Moral of the story is:  to achieve your goals you need to work towards them every single day in every action you take and every choice you make.

I’m not perfect, no one is, but over the past 5 months I’ve made great choices every chance I’ve had and am seeing great results because of it.  It’s not because I quit Crossfit, it’s because I quit making excuses and prohibiting myself from being successful.

So to the Crossfit smack talkers- piss off.  I still love the sport, I love my box, and have a lot of respect for the people who do it.

And regardless of what fitness plan you follow, get out there today and kick some ass.  Who’s with me?

Little Victories

I’ve lost some weight kittens.  I mean, I’ve been pretty transparent about that, but now that I’m over the 25 lbs mark I’m really starting to see some differences.

Granted, the past few weeks the number on the scale has slowed its descent, but my clothes are continuing to feel looser, and hubs CAN NOT SHUT UP about my ass, so these are all good things.

Today, while switching the clothes from the washer to the dryer I realized that I put EVERYTHING in the dryer.  Like everything.  Even the things that two months ago I would have hung up because if they shrunk even a millimeter there was no way I was cramming my thunder thighs into them.

Now not only do I dry them, but I NEED to, because they’re getting too big.

It’s always nice to appreciate the little things.

What little victories have you had lately?  Share share share!

I’m irritatingly happy enough I deserve that face punch

Holy crap kittens.  I feel like some sort of self-help-believe-in-your-dreams-and-they-will-come-true book right now.  I’m actually kind of pissing myself off with how happy I am.

Remember that epiphany on Wednesday that I cheesily said would “change my life.”  Well um, yeah.  Apparently that was like, true.

I promise to give ya’ll the gory details once everything is officially official, but the short version is that, at 30 years old, I finally realized what I want to be when I grow up.  On Wednesday I started the process of pursuing it, and by FRIDAY I was on the path.  I can’t believe how quickly it’s happening, and how easy it’s been.

For now, stay tuned for more painfully happy posts, and the usual work out crap.  Because I really really love working out.

What is your key to success?  What’s the last thing that made you really really really happy?

Have a great weekend friends!

Well that was pretty cool

Saturday marked the 2nd annual In House Competition at my former Crossfit box.  I promised a bunch of people I would stop by, and truthfully, I really miss my Crossfit fam, so it was a perfect way to see pretty much everyone in one swoop.

Just like last year, the atmosphere at the box was amazing.  I was there for an hour or so, and watching my friends kill some serious workouts was really motivating.  But I’ve gotta tell ya, there was something else that was unexpectedly motivating as well.

Every. single. person. who saw me commented on how great I look or how much weight I’ve lost.  Some folks were subtle, but some of my closer friends said things like, “shit lady, you’re like half a person!”

Mind you, I KNOW I’ve lost weight.  Hell, I’ve been working my ASS off and not stuffing anything exciting into my pie hole for weeks to do so.  I’m fully aware.  And hubs tells me all the time how great I look.  But other than that, I haven’t really had much feedback from anyone.  That was until Saturday.

Talk about an ego boost!  When I left I was so pumped up by the combined praise and the competition atmosphere I had one of the best workouts of my life.  Good times.

As of this morning I’m down officially 23 lbs.  I’m not even really sure what more to say about it.  I’m thrilled with my progress, and every day I miss things like junk food and alcohol less and less.  I’m not sure that eating healthy, normal sized meals will ever be anything that’s “easy” for me, but by taking steps daily to make it part of my lifestyle; I know I’m creating habits that will be with me for the long haul.

What about you?  Did anything especially motivating or inspiring happen to you this weekend!  Fill me in!

Breaking the Thursday Cycle

Is anyone with me on this?

Monday I start out super motivated for the week.  I’m usually coming off a nice long ride on Sunday and a great relaxing day with the hubs, so I’m ready to eat healthy, train hard, be as active as possible and reach my goals baby!

I hit it hard and my nutrition is perfect.  No booze, great job at Paleo.  Monday is a great day.

Tuesday rolls around and I’m a bit sore.  But Tuesday is the day I weigh myself (spare me the lecture) and the number goes down.  Now I’m even MORE motivated.  YES!  I’m awesome!  I can do this.

So I have another strong day of training and nutrition.  I even avoid a glass of wine with dinner, even though I wannnntttt one.

Then we get to hump day, and I’m SORE.  I make sweet love to the foam roller, and embarrass myself with sex faces and grunts while I do it.  I still drag myself to the box, but I complain.  A lot.  The coaches threaten to flog me if I don’t show up, and because they’re all insanely attractive, I consider letting them.

My nutrition is pretty good, but I succumb to my wine craving with dinner.  What?  It makes the muscles not hurt so bad.

And then it’s Thursday.

I wake up and want a doughnut.  If I eat one, I spend the rest of the day in my sweatpants reading trashy vampire books and eating the rest of the dozen.  If I manage not to eat one, I still spend the rest of the day in my pajamas fantasizing about eating them.

I don’t make it to the gym.  I have grand plans for a nice easy recovery bike ride in the afternoon, and then hope and pray it rains.  And if it doesn’t, I hope it’s windy.  Or that something comes up.  Or give myself a million other reasons not to ride.

Then we go on date night.  Which usually involves sushi.  Or something fried.  And lots of wine.  Because my muscles still hurt of course.

By the time Friday rolls around, I feel like I’ve killed any chance at being healthy with thursday so I carry my sloth-ness through the weekend to finally snap out of it on Sunday.

Well today is Thursday and I had eggs for breakfast.  I cleaned my house and went to the gym with Blondie, who helped me kick my butt at some running intervals.  I ate a healthy lunch, worked a few hours for the hubs, and have a hot date planned with some burpees later.

Today I’m breaking the cycle.

Tell me I’m not the only one.  What have you overcome this week?

When can’t becomes your crutch…

Do you ever get it in your head that you just can’t do something?

Come on, you’re human, just admit it.  Lord knows I do.  I’ve been better about it lately, and since starting Crossfit over a year and a half ago I am much more willing to at least try something that scares me.

But I’m stubborn as shit, and every once in awhile something ends up in the “can’t” basket.

Up until a few days ago, double unders were in that basket.

I would love to tell you that I practiced them religiously and just simply couldn’t get them no matter how hard I tried, but that wouldn’t be true.  Sure, I had practiced them.  For a few minutes at a time a few times a week, usually whipping myself in the shins or the ass and totaling maybe 50 jumps before getting frustrated and quitting.

When they showed up in any WOD I just did the penalty (at our gym it’s burpees) and never even tried them.

I had actually convinced myself that I didn’t care if I ever got a dub.  Didn’t matter.  Jumping rope is just as effective of a workout if you swing it once or twice and I’m not competitive or anything so it won’t matter if I never get them.

That was, until 14.1 was announced on Thursday night.  As most of you know, we are in the midst of the Crossfit Open.  The Open is a 5 week competition where anyone in the world can register to see how they stack up against Crossfitters everywhere, and against themselves.  The workouts are announced via a live broadcast on Thursday nights, at which point two of the big dogs go head to head and show us how it’s done.

Like every other Crossfit addict worldwide, I was glued to my laptop on Thursday beyond excited to know what the first workout would be.  Because the Open is truly meant for everybody, I was confident it would be doable movements and something I could totally excel at.

Imagine my dismay when they announced a 10 minute AMRAP (as many rounds/reps as possible) of 30 double unders and 15 snatches (75/55).

Um what?  The FIRST movement that you had to do in order to get ANY reps whatsoever were DOUBLE UNDERS?  And I had yet to ever successfully do even one.

I wish I could say that I put on my happy face and decided to give the workout all I had, but I can’t.  The truth is I went to bed that night telling hubs “well this sucks.  I guess I’m taking a 0 for the first workout because I don’t even see the point in trying.”

I woke up the next morning, the day I was to do the WOD, and just didn’t want to go.  I got to the box early and practiced for a solid 15 minutes.  I managed about 3 reps in that time, and truthfully, they were almost accidental. But I was going to try to do the workout Rx.  I wanted a score.  Even 3 reps was better than 0.

The clock counted down 3…2…1… and a funny thing happened.  Suddenly, getting double unders became important.  Not being able to do them just wasn’t acceptable anymore.  I had to figure it out.  And I had 10 minutes to do it.

I’m not going to say it was fantastic.  In fact, it was a tough and frustrating 10 minutes.  But by the end of it, I had managed 27 reps.  Mind you, I never even made it to the barbell or finished a complete round, but whatever.  It wasn’t a 0.  And for ME, it was a PR.

But what’s more, by the end of just 10 minutes of consistent practice with a clear goal in mind, I was actually stringing a few of them together.  I knew that if I had ANOTHER 10 minutes, I could do a lot more.

I’ve never repeated and Open workout before, but after taking the weekend to think about it, I decided I just couldn’t let that score of 27 stand.  Not because I cared about my standings, but because I KNEW I could do better.  That simply wasn’t my best effort, which isn’t ever ok by me.

Monday is the last day to submit scores for the week, so I went in early for class.  I warmed up alone and set up my barbell.  This time, I knew I would need it.

I grabbed a judge and asked them to count and time me, and set out with one goal in mind.  Get thru one round.  45 reps in 10 minutes.  I knew if I made it through the dubs I was home free.

What a different experience the second time around.  I was stringing together doubles in sets of 3-4, and at around the 5 minute mark I was done with 30!  I flew through the over head movement, and got back on the rope as fast as I can.  With just under 4 minutes left, I knew I could make it through one more round of jumps.

AND I DID.

Not only did I, but I managed a few more overheads before time ran out.

Final score, 78!!!

I won’t lie, I almost started crying.

See, it doesn’t matter to me that the top competitors in our region and the world managed 450+ reps.  It matters that I did something I had NEVER done before.  I let go of the “can’t” and found the will to figure it out.

That my friends, is what is beautiful about the Open.  So many of us do Crossfit to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and then still end up sitting there anyway.  Sure, the zone has become bigger than what it maybe was before, but it’s still there unless we continually challenge ourselves.

I won’t rest.  I will grow.  I won’t fall victim to “can’t.”

Thanks Crossfit.