One of my goals for 2015 is to learn, learn, learn, specifically about the fitness industry and nutrition. 2015 will be my 9th year working in the fitness industry (oh my god, how is that even possible), and I guess that you could say I’m feeling a bit stale.
Although I do jump on every opportunity to upskill in the programs that I teach, and definitely attend all of the conferences that I can get my hands on, I can’t shake this feeling like I don’t know enough about the industry. Or maybe it’s just an insatiable desire to learn more about a world that I’m deeply passionate about, and I’ll never really feel that I know as much as I want to!
I’ve already started to learn more about nutrition from my own nutritionist that I’ve been seeing for about 4 months now. With our wedding coming up this year (October 24th!!) and lots of parties, showers and pictures to be done, it was and is really important to me that I get a good handle on my weight and that I feel the absolutely best that I possibly can, not only on my wedding day, but all year long, and into the future as well.
I’ll be the first to admit to you that my nutrition was not great when I was training for either IronMan 70.3 races or my full marathon. I’m not a total train wreck, but can tell you that I hardly cooked at all that year, that probably 75% of our foods or more came out of the freezer or from a package or box, that I was guilty of eating very little throughout the days and then binge eating at nighttime, and the list goes on.
As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, I’ve struggled with my weight and my relationship with food for my entire life. I’m sure you can read between the lines here that I’ve dabbled in various forms of disordered eating over the years, and have always equated being “thin” with being “happy”. Of course pop culture does a lot to support that theory. I was bullied mercilessly in high school, and only when I started losing weight did the bullies finally leave me alone. My first boyfriend (or really, any boy that had ever shown any interest in me whatsoever) came along not long after, again, once I had lost a bunch of weight.
I’m not looking for sympathy or pity; I mention all of this only to preface this post, and my goals for this year with where I’ve BEEN in relation to where I plan to GET to.
When I met with my nutritionist for the first time back in November, she told me the following (nicely):
- My weight was too high
- My body fat % was too high (and actually puts me at the very bottom of a zone where I am at risk for health complications relating to body fat)
- I wasn’t eating enough (especially protein) to support the active lifestyle that I lead
- I am way too stressed out
Guilty as charged on all counts. I knew that my weight had been creeping up over the past 2 years, but had no idea that it was as high as it was. I was also very disappointed to see my body fat %, and a little scared at the bracket that it put me in (at risk for health problems relating to body fat such as heart disease).
Heart disease. I’m a fitness instructor. I’ve completed two IronMan 70.3’s, more half marathons then I can keep track of and one full marathon in the past 5 years. How is this really happening?!
It all comes down to one sentence, which is my latest mantra:
And it’s true. I know it is, because I’ve tried my damndest to for 9 years.
I’ve finally come to the appreciation that I can’t work any “harder” then what I am in the gym. Sure there are tweaks, I could probably stand to lift more weights, do more yoga, mix up my routine a bit more. But in terms of volume and intensity, more workouts/more intense workouts are not the answer.
Since meeting with my nutritionist, I’ve made several changes to my diet.
- I never go more than 3 hours without eating.
I used to eat a very light breakfast (usually a piece of fruit in the car on my way to work) around 7:30am, and then not eat again until lunch around 12pm. By the time I got to eat lunch, some days my head was buzzing and I would be seeing stars. Same went for the afternoons. Usually by 3pm, I was so exhausted that I could barely keep my eyes open at work. One time I swear to you, I fell asleep sitting up at my desk.
Since changing this pattern, I can’t even remember the last time that I was hungry. My energy levels are much better throughout the day and I make much smarter choices when I do eat, because the choices aren’t fueled by a desperate state of starvation and low blood sugar. This change has been a total win for me!
- I eat protein at every meal.
My nutritionist (let’s call her “Jane” from now on, shall we?), was shocked at how little protein I was eating before I met her. She told me that for someone “like me” who works out hard and trains for endurance events from time to time, that I was doing my muscles an enormous hardship by not taking in enough protein.
Protein is used by the body to build and repair muscle tissue, that can take a beating during an intense workout. Protein is also an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Last case for Protein, unlike carbohydrates and fat, our bodies don’t store protein for a rainy day. Your body can only utilize the protein that you give to it.
I’ve now incorporated protein into 4 out of my 5 meals a day. I don’t know if it’s a combination of all of the factors together, or something specifically related to the protein, but I’ve been feeling like I can jump over a building in the gym lately. All of my weights have increased in BodyPump, and I seriously feel unstoppable in my plyometric classes. Another massive win for me!
- I eat coconut oil (and healthy fats!)
I’ve never been one for the healthy fats, could never understand what the big fuss was all about. In fact, I had a big jar of coconut oil on my kitchen counter for a solid 6 months and we used it as a temperature gauge for the house (if it was too warm, the coconut oil would turn to liquid, if it was too cold, it would solidify…don’t judge!).
My nutritionist was adamant that my diet was deficient in healthy fats, and that ironically enough, I needed fats in my diet to start losing weight. I begrudgingly agreed to adding coconut oil to my daily Arbonne smoothies, and to try to eat avocado and drizzle olive oil on food.
While I can’t exactly say that my weight loss has been cruising along at a brisk pace, I can definitely tell you that my hair and skin have been pretty pleased with the addition of healthy fats!!
I’m also totally addicted to coconut oil now. It’s official. My name is Sara, and I have a problem. As that old lady on the Frank’s Red Hot commercial says “I put that $%*t on EVERYTHING”.
- I’ve reduced my intake of grains to one serving per day…..for the most part.
So this has been a tough one, and I think one of the most important in really getting my weight loss going. I’m not willing to buy into the whole “gluten-free” fad, but I can admit that I probably do eat too many grains a day. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to reduce down to one serving a day.
Of course, some days that all goes to hell in a hand-basket and I stuff my face with more bread than the Pillsbury Dough-Boy.
It’s a constant battle really, but something that I’m working towards really getting a handle on.
All this being said, my diet hasn’t been perfect by any means, and I’ve only lost about 6 pounds in 4 months. Last week I had some blood work done to determine if there was anything funny going on behind the scenes that could be slowing down the process, or if I really do need to just harden up and tighten up the diet even more.
It’s a process, and one that definitely flip flops up and down, but one that I’m absolutely committed to. I feel like there’s more at stake here than just the number on the scale on my wedding day.
This post is approaching behemoth length, so I’ll leave you with this thought for the evening…it’s true friends, you never know how close you might be….keep going!!