Today’s post is the tough-love kind. Let’s have a virtual heart-to-heart. Pretend that we’re in your favourite café having a nice coffee. I’m your friend, and I need to tell you something even though you might not want to hear it. So know that this is coming from a place of love and concern, not a place of judging.
If you’re over weight and out of shape, you’re the one who got yourself in this predicament. The good news is that you are also the one who can take charge and turn things around!
Here are some of the reasons why you’re fat and out of shape:
1) You’re spending your food budget on crap. You’re probably falling for slick marketing campaigns and buying convenient foods that say they’re healthy. But you know what? Real food, the healthiest food, does not have a nutrition label. Do you really need a label on your broccoli telling you how many carbs or grams of fat are in there? Don’t think so. If your food has a sales pitch on it, it’s likely contributing to making you fat, lethargic, and miserable. I know that sometimes healthy choices can be more expensive, but make the best choices you can afford.
2) You’re underestimating your caloric intake. You know that I’m not about counting calories. But I always say that you should be calorie-aware. That means that you should be aware that eating a large bag of chips and washing it down with 2 beers is like adding a meal and a half to your daily calorie intake. What I periodically do to remain calorie-aware, and what I highly recommend you do every once in a while, is track your calories for a few days, just to wrap your head around how much you’re eating. And if you’re like me and can’t be bothered to compute the number of calories in things manually, I highly recommend the software from Diet Power. (Use that link and put my name – Natalie Duhamel – in the “Authorized Dealer” box to get a $5 discount!)
3) You’re over-estimating your calories burned during exercise. I know, working out can really stimulate your apetite. Endurance exercise is particularly bad for this so if you’re trying to lose weight, shorter and more intense exercise will be more helpful. Studies have shown that people often over-estimate the number of calories burned during exercise and then over-eat because they think they’ve burned enough to make up for it. Stop falling into this trap. There are many lists and calculators online to figure out how many calories you’ve burned. Don’t forget that these are averages so your mileage may vary.
4) You’re not varying your workouts enough. Your body gets used to you doing the same thing all the time. I used to watch a woman at the gym running along on a treadmill every single day. I’m sure she boasted to her friends that she worked out 7 days a week. And it’s awesome to work out that consistently but if you’re not changing things up every month or so, your body gets more efficient at what you’re asking it to do. And in the case of exercise for weight loss or muscle gain, efficiency is NOT your friend. If you run at the same pace and same distance every day, your body will become very efficient at that task. That means that it will burn LESS FUEL while you are doing that task. And when you’re looking at weight loss, you want your body to burn MORE FUEL, not less. So increase the incline, increase the speed, or heck get off the damn treadmill and try something different for a change. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of exercise I want to remind you to remember to lift heavy things.
5) You’re not sleeping enough. How many times to I have to tell you that sleep is super-important to your health and well-being. I know you’re busy, I am too. I work full-time, I’m running 2 side businesses (this one and my Norwex business), I help my fiancé organize trail runs, I’m getting married in LESS THAN THREE MONTHS (that was my head exploding you just heard!) and I am attending a very intense program at Wellington College of Remedial Massage Therapies. And yet, I try to go to bed at the same time every night, by 10 pm if at all possible. So I know you can do it too. Get off Facebook and get into bed.
I’m sorry that we had to have this difficult chat, but I know you needed to hear it. And like I said, you have the power to change things around. You’re the boss of your body! You are the architect of the changes you want to happen. And speaking of architecture, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day so have some patience with your body, ok? You didn’t get fat and out of shape overnight (although I know it seems that way) so don’t expect your body to bounce back to its svelte, athletic self overnight either. Just stay positive and keep making baby steps in the right direction. You will reach your goal.