Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I challenge you!

I've given myself a challenge.

I've done this in the past and I always lose, mostly because I made it too hard.

But, this time, I think I can do it!

I have given myself the 70 Day Challenge.

(That's 10 weeks for those of you with weak math skills)

For 70 days, I will do the following:

*Walk 2.5-3 miles.

*Do a workout DVD (Jillian Michaels or the like).

*Eat as clean as possible (with nothing after 7 PM), with a once a week cheat treat.

Now for an explanation of this...

Walking: I've always loved walking. It is refreshing, and I always fell a little like a heroine from a Jane Austen novel when I do ("We must allow she is an excellent walker, I suppose..." "I am fond of a long walk..." "Would you like to join us for a walk one morning?"...You get the idea...).

Now, I always imagined that running would be superior to walking, and always felt a little gyped that I had athletic asthma. I had this image in my mind of being able to run breathlessly like some sort of gazelle on the Savanah, and it seemed magical. I managed to work out my asthma problem, but I soon discovered that even without asthma running is far from magical. Missy once put it like this: "If you want to run, you have to tell yourself you like pain." That about sums it up.

I was running pretty steadily last summer before I got pregnant, and I was rather proud of how well I was doing. The only downside was that my legs didn't seem to be getting toned (except for my thighs). My calves looked a little like tapered hot dogs, and it made me feel cranky.

Then I found something out, just a few days ago.

I was Googling something online, and I came across a website (forgive me, I don't know what it is now) that talked about the difference between running and walking. They said if you want to give your body extra burn, and work more muscles, you have to walk. I was blown away. Could it be?? Could it be that I didn't have to like pain anymore???

They said that because running is a fluid motion, you are actually using less muscles. Walking rapidly causes your body to use more muscles because it isn't natural (and anybody who has seen a speed walker can agree with this...I always felt like a whack-a-doodle when I did the speed walker thing...I imagine I looked like I was trying to carry pencils from point A to point B with my butt cheeks, all while pumping my arms vigorously, because letting my arms just hang there would make it look worse...just think about really, really would...).

I then put two and two together and realized that my running would never produce the definition in my calves that I wanted, and used to have when I was walking vigorously years ago.

So there ya go. Walk people. Walk.

Exercise DVDs: Now, aerobic activity is great, but it needs to be coupled with weight training (either with actual weights, or using your body, or in other words, body-weight training. Think yoga and pilates.). Your body burns more calories and more calories for a longer period of time when you are doing weight training. Aerobic activity will burn calories for about 30 minutes after you finish. Weight training will burn calories for up to 48 hours. Let your muscles burn the fat! Jillian Michaels has excellent DVDs for this. I don't really like her penchant for swearing, but she will literally whip you into shape. I love it. Every minute of it. Every torturous second of sweat-inducing training that makes me want to cry. Yes. I really do. Because it works. To quote the unsinkable Jillian, "You are capable of working out. You are capable of working out hard." Too true. My attempt will be to do a DVD four times a week. Your body needs time to rest between workouts, so you don't shred your muscles too much. For example, I would do a DVD Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, resting on Wednesday, Saturday, and, of course, Sunday.

Okay, now food:

I love food. I don't think I could ever be anorexic because I love food so much. I couldn't be bulimic either because I don't agree with wasting food.

I love food so much that I tend to over do it sometimes and I end up gaining weight. Which brings us to my current state, which annoys me. I don't think food calories should count when you are pregnant. All that extra fat a pregnant woman packs on should fall out when the baby pops out (like this: "The baby is crowning! Okay, here she comes...Yay! You have a baby! Ooop, okay here comes the placenta! Looks intact, should be fine...and here comes the extra fat you collected! Looks like someone had a lot of ice cream, you naughty girl! Ha ha! Now your body should go back to normal, and you will be at your prepregnancy weight by tomorrow morning! Congratulations!" Sigh...if only...if only...).

In the past, I have made the mistake of cutting calories too much, and I end up being a low-blood sugar monster who binge eats cookies, then feels guilty and like a failure.

And since I am nursing, I don't want to deplete my milk production (Leah can be fat. That is totally fine with me.). For example, a regular person requires 2000 calories a day to maintain their weight, if all they do is sit around. They expend 2000, they consume 2000. Everything is great. So, if I wanted to keep my body weight the same, I would just consume 2000 a day, and my milk production would be fine. BUT, I have a secret weapon.

Breastfeeding burns 500 calories a day. That's like an entire meal, people. And, if I kept to my meal plan of 2000 calories a day, I would lose 1 lb a week (1 lb of fat is 3500 calories. Divide 3500 by 7, 500 calories a day.)

I have heard people say that they never enjoyed the benefit of losing weight from breastfeeding. I'll tell you why this could be the case (for those of you who are currently breastfeeding, this could prove helpful).

What happen when your body is producing milk, you need calories to MAKE the milk (about 500). This makes you hungry. You want to eat to make up for the loss. This is a good thing, because if you don't eat, your body will have no milk, and your baby will scream. A lot. So, you eat. And you maintain the status quo. Now, IF you want to lose weight while maintaining your milk supply, you must curb your cravings. This means that instead of eating ice cream, you eat an apple.

Now, for those of you NOT breastfeeding, this plan also applies to you, and I'll explain this in a little bit.

So, I am keeping my calories to 2000 (with a 500 deficit). Now, I am also working out, which squeezes my fat cells empty. Fat cells don't like this, and they will tell your body you are starving to death for walking for 20 minutes, and that you need to eat a bowl of sugar. Before you know it, you weigh more than you originally did, and now have cavities. Your body doesn't like change. It likes to maintain (or add). This is where something called Self-Control makes an appearance.

(Don't worry. It's taken me 31 years to gain the modicum of self-control I now have. Losing weight is hard.
Don't kid yourself. There is NO easy fix. Losing weight means stopping yourself from eating an entire cake when that's all you really want to do (and believe me, I feel like that most days....).)

Think back on the breastfeeding thing. Your body doesn't like the deficit. It wants those calories, dang it, and will make you think you need to put something in your mouth to remedy the situation. This is also the case when you are working out. There is a deficit. You need to realize this so when the hunger pangs come, you know what they are, and why they are there, and then you can tell yourself it's okay, and then you can snack on a carrot or some other, crunchy, healthy, satisfying food.

And going to bed slightly hungry isn't a bad thing. I actually read somewhere that it's good to go to bed slightly peckish, and their reasoning had nothing to do with losing weight. There is some other benefit, but I have no idea what it was. You'll just have to trust me on this one.

So, with my exercising, I have yet another deficit to go with my breastfeeding deficit, amounting to total of about 1000 calories I am burning. That equates to me losing approximately 2 lbs a week (1000 x 7= 7000, each pound being 3500). Now in reality, I probably need to consume more than 2000 calories to maintain my milk production and my ability to do more than lie on the floor, but that is irrelevant to this discussion.

I have found that it is easier to couple dieting and exercise, than just dieting alone. If you wanted to lose 2 lbs a week, and just dieted, you would be cutting 1000 calories of food a day, and that is REALLY hard, AND, on top of that, when you cut calories to below 1200, your body goes into starvation mode, and anything you eat will automatically be turned into fat. Isn't the body great? Furthermore, when you diet and exercise, you can actually eat more food, because of the burn, than if you were dieting alone. For example, if you wanted to maintain a body of, say, 170 lbs, you'd need about 1900 calories a day. To lose one pound a week, you would cut back to 1400. Now, if you were exercising moderately, that would bump your maintenance to 2100, and your fat loss caloric intake to 1600. That increase of calories equates to half a PBJ sandwich, or an apple and banana, or an orange, a carrot, 2 stalks of celery, and 1 tbsp of peanut butter. Sounds great, right?

Now, a calorie isn't a calorie. When I talk about eating clean, I mean clean. An apple has approximately 80 calories. A tablespoon of butter has 100 calories. An apple has no fat calories, but butter has 100 % fat calories. If you were to eat 2000 calories of butter, you would get fatter than by eating 2000 calories of apples (but I don't suggest eating 2000 calories of apples, unless you really, really like diarrhea.)

I'm talking about eating first and foremost fruit and vegetables, fill in the empty spaces with grains (and some peanut butter...don't ever leave out the peanut butter...), throw in some protein (I prefer to eat very little meat), some healthy fats (uncooked olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, more peanut butter, etc.), and you're good to go. I suggest you break up the calories into 5 meals: Three main meals, and two snacks. This will keep you going throughout the day. For me, it would look something like this: 500 calories per meal, and 250 for each snack (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner). Now, if this is hard for you (and, let's be honest, it will be...), and you need something to eat at some point and you feel like you are going to die, be careful with your choices. Don't go for the quick fix of eating something with lots of carbohydrates, fats, and sugars. Apples and bananas are very satisfying. I have had to change my approach to fruit, and think of it as a treat (when it's not a staple in one of my meals). So you had an apple with your lunch. There's nothing wrong with it being a snack, too.

Also, you need to hydrate like crazy. They say that you should have half your weight in ounces of water (for my size, that means about 10 cups of water a day). Make that your goal. Piddling a lot is a good thing. You gotta keep your kidneys and liver nice and clean.

We humans want quick fixes for our problems, but that doesn't work with losing weight. You have to work, and you have to become master of your body.

So, I suggest that you hop along the bandwagon with me! I'm going to be doing this challenge for the next 10 weeks, and I will keep you informed to my progress.

If you want to follow along, try this: Cut back 250 calories in food, and exercise to burn 250 calories a day. This will cut out one pound a week (depending on your current weight).

I am not a doctor, and everything expressed in this post is merely my opinion bases on the research I have done. I am not liable for any injury you cause yourself, or for your sheep-like obeisance to my words. As with anything, do your own research. It sticks better in your brain when you do, anyway.


The Mrs. said...

I think I could do something like this, but are talking about walking 3 miles per day, 6 days per week and also working out 4 days per week? Because I think I would die.

Katscratchme said...

This will be a lot easier for me when I can control what food comes into the house. As much as I like a treat now and then, the random apple fritters showing up the house is too tempting for me to control myself.

Shydandelion said...

Mrs., I usually break up my walks, so it's not 3 miles all at once. I take a nice stroll with the kids for a mile and a half, and then I walk quickly for 1 to 1.5 miles on my treadmill. Any walk, though, would be beneficial! Don't stress about the distance, until you have gained some stamina! :) And if it makes you feel better, I only did three 20 minute DVDs this week. Ha ha!

And I know how you feel, Emily. Jeremy popped open our bag of Fritos last night (a bag intended for our chili dinner later this week) and it's a good thing I was under the blankets in bed because if I hadn't been so comfortable I would have jumped up and eaten the whole bag!

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