Saturday, November 29, 2014

How the Scale is Lying to You

Don’t trust the scale. You’ve heard it before. But, really, do yourself a favor and don’t listen to its insidious lies. Your scale tells you one thing and one thing only: how much you weigh (at this exact moment, on this planet). It doesn’t recognize and can’t report on things water retention, muscle gain, bloating, or how many carbohydrates you housed the night before.

It also doesn’t know if you’ve started a new workout routine. If you have, it’s very likely your weight will go up for the first few weeks. That means even if you have a fancy schmancy scale that can tell you about bloating and muscle mass, it still won’t tell you not to freak out if your weight goes up when you start working out. (Psst – that’s what we’re here for.)

Look, I get it. For some of us (myself included), the scale can be a mental measure of fitness success. I weigh myself every morning. And it used to be that whenever that number was higher than the number I saw the day before, I would get bummed out. But, then I started to realize that scale weight isn’t real and now I just use it as a measure that things are generally heading in the right direction.
It also became extremely clear (through weighing myself every morning), that weight loss isn’t linear. Some days I was up a pound. Other days, down two pounds. Here is a look at how my weight has fluctuated over the last month so you can see what I mean. (I didn’t weigh myself between the 15th and the 19th as I was traveling. That’s why that part is flat.)
Beachbody Blog Weight Chart

Still, knowing all of this, I wanted to lose 10 pounds. My pants were tight and I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t like this. So, 30 days ago, I (and a team of 5 of my coworkers) started doing FOCUS T25 and tracking what we ate. I’ve been good about keeping up with the workouts, but not so good about dialing in my food. I have a penchant for burgers and beer, both of which are fine in moderation. The numbers on the scale went up and the numbers on the scale went down.

After 30 days, I feel fitter, my pants fit better, I can start to see more definition in my arms, and my legs feel stronger. Guess how much weight I lost? 0.4 pounds. Not four pounds. Point four pounds. I had just spent 30 days working out and watching what I was eating and I only lost a measly .4 pounds. Harumph.

But I did notice real results somewhere else. In my photos and in my measurements. If you haven’t taken photos and measurements, start. If you’re on Day 5 and forgot, don’t wait to take them until Day 30. Just take them tomorrow morning. And then take them again on Day 30. I take measurements of my waist, the widest part of my waist, my hips, my chest, my biceps, my thigh, my forearm at the widest point, my wrist, and my neck. I use the forearm, wrist, and neck measurements to determine my approximate body fat percentage.

In 30 days, I lost .75″ on my waist, 1.5″ on my lower waist, and .5″ on my hips. I also lost 1.5 pounds of fat and my body fat percentage dropped from 29% to 27.8%. If I had had eaten better, I probably would have seen even more impressive results. Now, a fancy scale could have told me my body fat percentage, but it couldn’t have told me the rest. And, the photos tell the rest of the story. I haven’t yet reached my fitness goal, but I definitely look like I’ve dropped more than .4 pounds.

And, so you can see it’s not just the angle I’m at, here’s the side view. And, yes, that’s a beer poster behind me. This one, if you’re curious.

How much do you rely on the scale?

September 2014 Team Beachbody Blog

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Dos and Don’ts for Filling Your Plate

 I know you’re probably going to eat more on Thanksgiving than you would on most Thursdays. And, I understand. It’s one of my favorite holidays too! I want to eat all my favorites (stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie…), but I also don’t want to wake up the next morning and feel like I’ve undone my progress. Of course, if you’ve been exercising and eating right, one day won’t undo all the work you’ve done. But, as we head into winter, it’s easy to fall off the horse and really struggle to get back on. So, with that in mind, I snapped these photos during Autumn Calabrese’s most recent video shoot to help you plate your Thanksgiving meal.
The Typical Plate
Honestly, this is kind of what it looks like when I usually eat Thanksgiving dinner. But, after watching Autumn’s video, I learned where I was going all kinds of wrong. First off, where are the greens? And, secondly, this plate is filled with so high in carbs and sugar, it’s no wonder I always want to nap after dinner.
Our Registered Dietician, Ani Aratounians weighed in on my typical Thanksgiving plate. “It’s high in carbs and there’s lot of sugar and fat. Especially saturated fat. There’s butter everywhere and hardly any fiber. After eating this plate, you’ll feel stuffed and bloated.” And this doesn’t even take into consideration the pie. Or the wine. Or seconds…or thirds.
The Revised Thanksgiving Plate
One easy way to totally redo your Thanksgiving plate (and still have all your favorites) is to start with the green veggies. Put the green beans and the salad on your plate first. Then, add the turkey (aim for the the skinless pieces if you can find them), and then add on your other favorites.

The calories aren’t low, but they’re much more reasonable than the first plate. Aratounians’s thoughts on this plate were much more positive. “This is much higher in vitamin and mineral content, and antioxidants. Overall, this is much more balanced for your blood sugar with the protein and fiber balancing out sugar content. And, I can’t help but notice that it’s a much prettier plate!” She recommends, if you are going to go for seconds (and really, who isn’t), go for the greens and protein (again, ideally, without skin).
Author from Team Beachbody Blog, Rebecca Swanner 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bust Your 6 Biggest Exercise Excuses

When you’re feeling overworked or overwhelmed, it’s easy to find an excuse to skip a workout…or two…or a whole week’s worth. But don’t let bad excuses get in the way of good intentions. Here’s how to keep them from derailing your fitness routine.

THE EXCUSE: “I’m too busy!”
Instead of letting your endless to-do list take priority over your health goals, treat exercise like any other important task. “It’s about prioritizing and planning ahead. Set a time and schedule it, as if it were a dental appointment,” says Jimi Varner, a trainer on MTV’s I Used to be Fat series. Of course, there will be days when you really are too swamped to squeeze in a full workout—but that doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. Instead, try to carve out a few minutes to break a sweat. “If you have just 10 minutes, it’s still progress,” Varner says. “It doesn’t have to be an hour and a half, so knock it off.” Go outdoors and do a few sprints, or try a time-crunch-friendly program like FOCUS T25 or P90X3.

THE EXCUSE: “I’m beat.”
Whether you’re sore from yesterday’s workout or drained from a long week at work, don’t bail out just because you’re low on energy. Start slowly, and gauge how you’re feeling after the first few minutes. “It’s okay to exercise at a lower intensity for a shorter time. Start doing it, and really listen to your body to see if this is nurturing or punishing,” says Michelle Segar, PhD, Associate Director for University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center and a motivation and behavioral sustainability researcher. “This helps get people more in tune with their body and actually can improve their desire to move.” Promise yourself you’ll do the first five minutes of your workout—once you get going, chances are you’ll go ahead and push through.

THE EXCUSE: “I’m broke.”
When you’re on a tight budget, it can be hard to justify the cost of a monthly gym membership. But you don’t need Globo-Gym to get in shape. “Walking is among the best ways to move, and you can do it anywhere,” Segar says. And Varner suggests picking up furniture movers (usually under $10) and using them for lunges or mountain climbers. And, ahem, we can recommend a few DVD training programs that won’t break the bank.

THE EXCUSE: “The gym is intimidating.”
You might feel like everyone’s staring at you, but the truth is, they’re probably way too busy worrying about what they look like. So get out of hermit mode and go build a support system. “Everybody you see in these classes was once in your shoes,” Varner says. “They understand how you feel and the courage it takes to be there. And they will be more than happy to help and be supportive and friendly.”

THE EXCUSE: “I’m bored.”
If you do the same workout every…single…day, it’s easy to fall into a rut. But there’s no rule that you have to stick to a rigid, repetitive fitness regimen. “You can change up any part of your routine,” Segar says. Renew your enthusiasm by starting a new program, joining a new class, ditching the treadmill for a hiking trail, or making a friendly weight-loss wager with a friend.

THE EXCUSE: “I’m dieting instead.”
Just because you’re counting calories, it doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to chill on the couch. “Diet alone works well when weight loss is the goal, but adding exercise to the mix can enhance the results,” Varner says. “Exercise has countless other health benefits than just weight loss—you’ll look better, feel better, sleep better, have more energy, and be more productive at work and home.” And with all those benefits, why would you want to make excuses?

June 2014 Team Beachbody Blog