Ah cheat days! Some people don’t like to call it a cheat day because the word cheat has a negative connotation. Whatever…..call it what you like: cheat day, break from your diet day, re-feed day – it’s all the same. You have one day where you stray from your normal clean eating and enjoy those foods you love that possibly aren’t really that great for you.
Some people feel that you shouldn’t have cheat days. Personally I think it’s good to have a cheat day or at least a cheat meal once a week.
Here are some reasons I think a cheat day/meal is important:
Helps with cravings.
I don’t know about you but when I’m told I can’t have something ever again, I want tend to want that thing more than ever and can’t stop thinking about it. Knowing that I can indulge in my favourite foods once a week helps me deal with cravings I might get.
When you do the same workout day after day, eventually your body adapts to the stress and no longer changes. You no longer see results – aka the dreaded plateau. A similar thing happens when you diet. When someone wants to lose weight they’ll restrict their calories a bit. This typically results in some weight loss but once your body adapts to the lower calorie allowance no more weight is lost. The only way to lose more is to restrict more and this will eventually lead to a diet that’s way too low in calories that can really damage your metabolism.
Cheat day to the rescue! By consuming more calories once a week you can actually prevent damage to your metabolism. When a person diets a hormone called leptin will start to dwindle. Leptin is basically responsible for maintaining energy balance and causing weight loss. By increasing your calorie intake once a week you actually increase your production of leptin by about 30% for up to 24 hours.
Just remember, one cheat day or one cheat meal per week is all you need. If you over feed yourself consistently you will gain weight.
Your social life!
A lot of social activities are centered around food. Sharing food is one of our basic human needs – it bonds us and has many psychological benefits. If you’ve ever tried sticking to your diet when you’re out with friends you’ll know how isolated that makes you feel. Having a cheat day or meal allows you to plan your social time so that you can indulge and enjoy both your food and your friends.
Makes eating clean a little easier.
Not everyone loves to eat clean and some people really struggle with it. If they had to commit to eating clean for the rest of their lives and never indulge in their favourite foods again a lot of people wouldn’t. Having a cheat day makes eating clean easier because you know that pretty soon you’ll get to give in to your cravings and enjoy some not so healthy stuff without feeling guilty. Personally, I think it’s a healthier approach to losing weight. If you’re following an eating plan that’s making you feel deprived there’s a really good chance that you’ll develop an unhealthy obsession with food. Keep that up and you could end up doing damage to your physical and mental health.
A healthier mind set.
Diets can be a slippery slope where some people might develop an all or nothing mind set. If they happen to give into a craving they feel like they’ve failed and decide they might as well keep going since they’ve already ruined their diet. This type of unhealthy thinking quite often leads to eating disorders and once you develop an eating disorder it never really goes away completely. If you have a planned cheat day or cheat meal you’ll feel more in control and not at all deprived.
Cheating Can Be A Good Thing!
So there you have it! Cheating can be a good thing, just make sure you do it properly. Use your cheat day/meal as an opportunity to enjoy food you don’t normally have. Do not use it as a binge fest. A healthy attitude towards food will do wonders for your soul.
Sometimes things happen and you end up having a few too many drinks the night before your workout. You wake up feeling not so great but you committed to a workout (or maybe you’re the instructor) so you can’t really just skip it. I don’t recommend working out with a hangover but if you must here are some tips to make your workout a bit safer and a bit more bearable the morning after.
As soon as you get up drink some water and then drink some more. Actually you should chug a glass or two before you go to bed. Try having some potassium rich coconut water in the morning to help replenish those electrolytes.
When you’re hung over you’re severely dehydrated – that’s what’s causing you to feel so bad. If you tax your body with a workout when it’s dehydrated you’ll perform poorly and feel even worse.
You may not feel like eating but force yourself to eat a healthy breakfast. Your body is recovering from the abuse the night before and you’re about to tax it again with a workout. You absolutely need the proper fuel to do this. Go for a high protein breakfast like eggs or even a protein shake. The amino acids will help your body recover better. Add a banana for the potassium to help replenish your electrolytes.
Get it done now!
Get your workout done in the morning (or whenever you happen to wake up). The release of endorphins will help you feel better so you can face the rest of the day. It would be a good idea to stick to a more moderate workout when working out with a hangover. If you go to hard you could end up feeling even worse.
40 can be a tough time if you’re trying to stay or get lean. Around the age of 40 we experience hormonal shifts that can make it feel like it’s impossible to lose weight. The good news is it’s not impossible – it just takes a bit more thought and effort.
Here are my top 5 tips for staying lean over 40:
Eat enough of the right stuff
When you suddenly find that you’re struggling to keep weight off it can be tempting to cut calories. Don’t do it! You need to fuel your body correctly and sufficiently or you’ll end up making things worse. If you don’t get enough food your body will slow its metabolism down in order to conserve calories and fat so it can survive.
A sedentary woman should not go below 1500 calories and a sedentary man should not go below 2000. If you’re conscious of your weight most likely you’re leading an active lifestyle. This means you need more calories. You can get a rough idea of how many by using an online calorie calculator.
It’s not as simple as just eating the correct amount of calories though! You need to eat the right amounts of the right foods. Cut out sugar and processed foods as much as possible – save them for your cheat day if you have to have them. Try experimenting with your macro-nutrients. A good place to start is 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% healthy fats. Use My Fitness Pal to help you keep track.
You should also include a good probiotic in your diet. Most people are not digesting their food properly because their gut flora has been thrown off by sugar, processed foods and exposure to antibiotics. If you’re not digesting what you’re eating, even the healthiest diet will not result in optimum health. You can buy probiotics in capsule form or eat yogurt and/or other fermented foods.
Use a food journal!
For most people over 40 you can’t just estimate what you’re eating like you could in your 20s. You need to weigh, measure and track! I know it sounds like a pain in the ass (and it can be) but commit to at least one week of measuring and weighing. After a week you’ll become more familiar with what a proper serving size looks like and you may even find that you don’t mind weighing an measuring your food. I use My Fitness Pal to keep track and it’s been a game changer.
Strength train and do not over-do cardio!
If you don’t strength train, start now! Hire a trainer for a few sessions so you can learn how to do it properly. If you already strength train make sure you’re going heavy enough and mix it up every 4-6 weeks. Do heavy weights that cause momentary muscle failure within 8-10 reps. After about 4 weeks of that switch to lighter weights where you can do 12-15 reps. After that try adding some plyo moves to your workout…..the possibilities are endless! If you need help with a program I can help you 😉
Do cardio but don’t do too much. 20-30 minutes per session 3-6 days a week is enough. Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). If you do too much cardio all you’re doing is training your body to store more fat. And, when you over tax your body with cardio your body may need to burn muscle for fuel. This is the last thing you want. Low muscle means low metabolism.
Hydration is key. A dehydrated body is a sick body. Did you know that when you’re dehydrated you won’t burn fat as efficiently? Aim for 3-4 litres per day. You can keep track of this on My Fitness Pal too.
Get your rest.
You need to rest. When you don’t get enough sleep your cortisol levels rise and this can lead to a cascade of events that will cause your body to store fat. If you have trouble sleeping try using melatonin or magnesium at night. You can also try meditation and making sure your bedroom is dark and kept at a cool temperature.
Being Over 40 Is No Excuse!
Don’t fall into the habit of blaming your age for your weight. You can lose weight and stay lean at any age, it just takes a bit more thought and effort. If it’s really worth it to you, you will be lean and healthy for the rest of your life.
I’ve tried many, many supplements in my day. My first one was some sort of fat burner that I ordered from an ad in a magazine. It think it was Dr. Sister’s fat burner or something. I was so excited when I got the free sample. On the sample it said 4 pills is all you need to start seeing results! The sample only had 3 and I was too young to own a credit card so I couldn’t order a full dose. I’m sure that was for the best.
Of all the many supplements I’ve tried I’ve settled on 4 which are my favourite. Here they are in no particular order:
For me protein powder is essential. I use it right after my workout and the convenience of it is perfect for a lazy girl like me. I use either Kaizen or Diesel. Both are made from New Zealand whey protein. The reason this is important to me is because New Zealand is held to super strict standards. Their cows are grass fed and raised without hormones or antibiotics. There’s more to it than that but that would be a new post in itself.
I tried A LOT of fat burners. The owner of the supplement store I bought them from called me his Guinee pig because I was in there trying something new so often. Some were good, some not so good. The one I’ve settled on is Onset by Diesel. I really like Onset because it gives me energy without making me feel jittery or nauseous. Also, when showed it to my coach she told me I could keep using it right up until my drug tested competition. This meant that there were no banned substances in it which is super important to me.
I’ve used creatine in the past and when my coach told me to start taking it again for my lean bulking season I didn’t even hesitate. Creatine is great for helping to build and maintain muscle. I’ve used creatine monohydrate before and now I’m using creatine HCL. Both seem to work great for me. I was told that creatine HCL doesn’t seem to cause the water weight gain that creatine monohydrate sometimes does. I’ve actually never noticed any kind of water weight gain with either.
I first tried exogenous ketones about a year ago and quite liked them. I seemed to have more energy and a clearer head. I only use it when my carb intake is super low though such as when I’m cutting. Right now I’m bulking which means I’m eating a lot of carbs. Exogenous ketones do not cancel out carbs – they assist you with getting in and staying in ketosis. If I were to take them now with my high carb diet I’d be throwing money away and ketones are not cheap!
Less Can Be More
As I mentioned, I’ve tried A LOT of supplements and used to take A LOT. Over the years I’ve found what works for me and stick with the tried and true and make sure that my lifestyle supports my supplement choices. It can be tempting to take a bunch of stuff that promises to make you lean and energetic but remember, people who come up with these miracle pills really just want your money. Be picky and if you’re not sure what you need, talk to a pro 😉
I’ve been in the fitness industry for almost 20 years now and I’ve seen a lot of stuff. People wanting to make money in this industry have come up with some pretty great and some pretty crazy stuff.
Here are my top 5 favourite fitness fads. Some are solid ideas while a few are just hilarious!
Who doesn’t remember seeing Billy Blanks on those infomercials for Tae Bo. Tae Bo is an aerobic workout that combines Tae Kwon Do and boxing and became HUGELY popular in the 90’s and continues to be popular up until just a few years ago. Tae Bo didn’t just influence the people who bought the videos either. It started a big ‘cardio-kickboxing’ trend in gyms that is still seen today. I used to teach it in a few of the gyms I worked at!
The great thing about this past trend is it was a solid workout that got results. It was a bit gimmicky in the way it was presented but it was a fun workout that got a lot of people in shape and started a new type of group fitness class at gyms all across the country.
The Thigh Master
Ah the Thigh Master. Just put it between your thighs and squeeze! It may not have been the most effective way to get in shape but they did a heck of a job marketing it because it’s probably one of the most memorable fitness fads of the late 80s to early 90s.
Tony Little’s Gazette Glider
You may not remember the glider but surely you remember the larger than life Tony Little. That long flowing hair/baseball cap combination with his personality was absolutely mesmerizing – you couldn’t look away even if you wanted to. The Glider was a good tool to get people moving but probably ended up being used as a clothes hanger by anyone who bought one. By the way, this is not to knock the glider, this is how the majority of home gym equipment ends up.
Jane Fonda Aerobic Videos
I’m sure I’m not the only one who put on a body suit and leotards and worked out to Jane Fonda videos! Some of the exercises might seem a little hokey but they are totally solid and many are still being used today! Jane Fonda had a HUGE influence on fitness fashion and aerobic classes that are still found at gyms today.
The Shake Weight
Okay…for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Shake Weight, it’s basically a dumbbell that you shake until it starts to vibrate. Picture that….it’s a bit sexually suggestive….Personally I think the people who invented it knew that any video of anyone using this thing would surely go viral and it did.
What Will Be The Next Great Fitness Fad?
There are lots of fitness fads that have and will come and go. Some great for getting in shape, some great for making you laugh. If you’re going to indulge in a fitness fad do some research and make sure it’s safe and make sure it’s something you’ll do….at least for a little while 😉
Let’s just be honest here. Working out causes discomfort and for the most part people like to avoid discomfort. Here’s the thing though. A small amount of discomfort is SO worth the benefits of working out.
Here are the top 5 lies that you’ve probably told yourself that has kept you from going to the gym:
I have no time.
Come on! There are 24 hours in a day. Are you really trying to convince yourself that within that 24 hours it’s impossible for you to dedicate just 1 hour (or less) a day to improve your health? Try getting up just a bit earlier and fit in a quick workout before work. You’ll be more energetic, more productive and take less sick days (it’s been proven!)
How about getting in a 20-30 minute workout on your lunch hour? Or make a deal with yourself that before you can go home after work you have to hit the gym first. There are ways to fit in daily physical activity. Don’t over think it, just get your butt moving!
Working out is boring.
Working out is not boring if you find the right kind of workout for your personality. Are you competitive? Try Cross Fit. Are you motivated when with other people? Join a group fitness class. Like sports? Join a league.
And really, does everything you do have to be super exciting? If you still think working out is boring, think about your long term health and how it will affect you and your loved ones and suck it up!
I’m too out of shape.
Ummmm….the gym is meant to get you in shape. I totally understand feeling self-conscious but if someone is judging you when you’re doing something to help improve your life that’s their problem. I love that quote – what other people think of you is none or your business. You’d probably by shocked that most people at your gym are way to focused on themselves and don’t even notice you. And even if they do notice you and have an opinion that opinion will not change your life in the way that adopting a healthy lifestyle will.
It’s too expensive.
Working out does not have to be expensive. There are gyms that will cost about a dollar a day. You can’t spare a dollar? Think about the things you spend your money on. Are you buying take out coffee? Drop that habit and start making coffee at home and you’ll have paid for about a week at a gym. Still think you can’t afford it? Don’t join a gym. Go outside! You can go for a run and on the way stop and do some pushups, squats, lunges, dips….if you need more ideas contact me and I’ll share my bootcamp workouts with you.
Another option is to YouTube workout videos that you can do at home. There are lots here.
5. Not motivated enough.
If you tell yourself you’re not motivated that you won’t be. Whatever you think will become your reality. Being unmotivated is a decision that you make. If you need something to get you started maybe sign up for an event. Or google inspirational quotes.
People are motivated by things that they really want. All you need is a goal that resonates deeply with you. Maybe it’s to be able to move without pain, or to live to see your grandchildren grow up, or to not be a burden on your loved ones as you age, or to participate in something you’ve always wanted to try. Motivation will not just appear on its own! You have to find it and then light a fire underneath yourself!
No More Lies!
Time to cut out the lies and do something that will improve your health and quality of living. It’s your responsibility to look after your body. And really, when you think about it an hour a day is nothing when it means that you’ll live a fuller, richer life.
A lot of my clients complain that as they get older their belly seems to be getting bigger. Unfortunately, that’s a natural thing that happens to most people. They also complain that no matter how hard they exercise or how well they stick to their nutrition plan that belly just won’t budge. This actually isn’t entirely true though. It’s true that belly fat is hard to lose but it’s not impossible. As you decrease your body fat your belly is shrinking, just not as fast as the rest of your body is.
What’s The Deal With Belly Fat?
Fat burning is a two-step process. The first step is lipolysis which is when the fat cell releases fatty acids into the blood. The second step is oxidation which is the process whereby cells use those fatty acids for energy.
Lipolysis is stimulated by the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline which are catecholamines. The catecholamines enter your blood stream and then attach themselves to special receptors on your fat cells. Once these catecholamines attach themselves they cause the fat cells to release their fatty acids which can then be used by other cells in your body.
Sounds simple enough, right? Here’s where the frustration comes in. There are two types of receptors on your fat cells that the catecholamines attach to: alpha receptors and beta receptors. Beta receptors are the ones that trigger the release of fatty acids whereas the alpha receptors hinder it. It just so happens that fat cells in your belly and quite often hips and thighs have more alpha receptors than beta receptors making them resistant to your fat loss efforts.
You Are Not Doomed!
Now that you know the facts you can understand why certain areas of the body seem to resist fat loss. The good news is this doesn’t mean that you can’t lose fat from those trouble areas, it just means you need to do the right stuff and then be patient.
Tried And True Fat Loss Tips
Eat enough of the right foods
Do NOT be tempted to starve your fat away! This just backfires in the end. Make sure you’re getting enough calories to support your body and your activity level. You can either hire sports nutritionist or Google the info. Then you need to make sure you’re getting your calories from the right sources. Personally, I like to eat about 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% fat. Depending on my training and my goals I find about 1800-1900 calories feels good. This just seems to work well for my body. I mainly eat clean whole foods and supplement with a high-quality whey protein shake and egg whites if I need to bump my protein up a bit. Everyone is different to be ready to experiment a bit and try to avoid going to extremes on anything. Your body hates extremes.
I cannot stress this enough! You must lift some heavy weights (especially as you get older) if you want a healthy body composition. A lot of women fight it but every single one of my female clients who I’ve talked into lifting heavy has at some point sent me a message thanking me because they’re finally seeing the results they want! If you’ve never lifted before you really need to hire a qualified trainer to show you proper technique. Heavy weight training is awesome when done right, dangerous when done wrong.
Stop doing so much cardio!!!
Are you one of those people who spends hours and hours a week doing cardio and feel frustrated with your results? I was!! That’s because too much cardio tells your body it needs to get really good at storing energy (ie FAT) so that it can fuel the long grueling cardio workouts you keep making it do. This is not to say that you shouldn’t do cardio, just don’t do marathon steady state sessions. Instead do HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is where you go as hard as you can for a short period of time, recover and then repeat. These workouts can be as short as 15-20 minutes including the warm-up. There are lots of studies that have been done to prove how effective HIIT is.
A dehydrated body is a sick body. All of your cells absolutely require a certain amount of water every day. Your kidneys need enough water to function properly. If you’re dehydrated your kidney’s can’t do their job of purifying the blood. When this happens, your liver has to help your kidneys out. Your liver’s main function is to metabolize fat. If the liver is having to help the kidneys do their job it can’t metabolize fat as efficiently. Aim for about 3-4 litres/day.
Don’t be tempted by the latest miracle pill that’s going to ‘melt the fat right off your body’. There are some great supplements that you can try but be sure they’re from a reputable company and be sure you use them as they’re meant to be used: AS A SUPPLEMENT. This means that you need to already have your nutrition and fitness plan dialed in before supplements can help you. There are some great fat burners but if you’re using fat burners without moving your body they won’t do a thing for you except make you super hyper and maybe a bit nauseous. Exogenous ketones can be a great supplement but only when used in conjunction with a keto or keto-like diet (in other words low carb).
Don’t Get Frustrated
I know it’s frustrating when you’re doing everything you need to do but your results are slow or even seem non-existent. The good news is you can lose that fat! The bad news is you’ll need to be patient and perhaps more diligent than you have in the past. Fall in love with the process and be consistent and persistent!
Have you ever lost weight only to gain it back plus more? Why does that happen and what can you do to avoid it?
Weight Loss and Metabolism
Metabolism is how much energy your body burns. You burn calories at rest, while exercising and while digesting food. Your metabolic rate will depend on your size, your activity level and your genetics.
Losing weight does in fact cause your metabolism to slow down because there is less of you to move around. This doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to gain your weight back though. You just need to adapt your life to your new size.
Here are some things you can do to help keep your metabolism running well:
Lose weight slowly.
Your body actually does not want to lose weight. When you lose weight your body sees that as a threat to your existence so it slows its metabolism down in an effort to conserve energy. If you lose weight fast using extreme measures your body will fight back even more. The trick is to lose it slowly by slightly decreasing your calories and adding a moderate amount of exercise to your plan. You should aim to lose about 1 pound per week.
Hit the weights!
Have you been doing a ton of cardio but the weight is just not coming off? Like excessive calorie restriction, excessive cardio will cause your body to slow it’s metabolism down to conserve energy. Back off a bit on the cardio and add some heavy weight training. Don’t worry ladies, you will not get bulky. Lifting heavy weights will cause you to gain muscle. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue which means it requires a certain amount of energy just to exist. This is why people who are more muscular burn more calories. You need to vary your strength workouts but aim to start with lifting enough to fatigue your muscles within 8-10 reps. Do 3 or 4 sets with about 2 minutes between sets to allow your muscles to recover and be able to get through the next set.
Change things up regularly.
Variety is the spice of life! The body is an amazing machine that can adapt to anything that life throws at it. This is great for some situations but not for weight loss. If you’ve been eating the same thing and doing the same exercises for a long time you have to switch it up. Have you noticed that you don’t get as sore as you used to from your workouts? Have you noticed that even though you haven’t changed your diet you seem to be gaining weight? This is because your body has adapted to what you’re doing and will no longer change. It’s up to you to provide a different stimulus for your body.
A dehydrated body will never perform optimally. Not only can dehydration affect your weight, it can also affect your mental health. Aim for 3-4 litres/day. Drink more on more active and/or hotter days.
You Are Not Doomed To Gain Your Weight Back
Even though your metabolism does slow down when you lose weight this does not mean you are doomed to gain your weight back. Keep in mind the 4 tips I gave you and realize that your new body needs to be cared for and treated differently than your old body. If you need help, that’s what I’m here for 😊
Simple Steps To Do Anything You Want to do
Define your goals.
Make your goals very specific. Write down exactly what you want no matter how crazy it may seem.
Decide how bad you want it.
Now that you have your goals, decide how badly you want it. Things are going to get tough sometimes so you need to really love it. When you’re having a bad day and don’t want to do what you need to do will the thought of the outcome you’re working towards be enough to motivate you? Don’t waste time start on a path to something you don’t really want that bad.
Create your plan of action and break it down into steps.
If your goal is to lose weight and be healthy you need a plan. Where are you going to workout? Do you need to join a gym? When will you workout? Write it on your schedule. What healthy foods do you need to have in your house? When are you going to go shopping for them? What unhealthy things do you need to get rid of? Plan every step and then DO THE STEPS.
Focus on each part of your plan.
Stay focused! Don’t half ass anything. Using the fitness goal, when you’re doing your workouts focus your workout. When you’re out shopping for healthy foods take a list and stick to the list.
Be consistent and persistent.
Consistency and persistence are key. There will be days you don’t feel like doing what you need to do. There will be days where you feel like you’re getting nowhere and you’ll question why you’re even doing it. Push through that! Do what you need to do everyday no matter what. Sometimes the journey is tough, but the outcome is worth it (assuming you did step 2).
Visualize yourself having reached your goal.
Spend some time every day or every other day visualizing your life once you’ve reached your goal. How will you feel? Take time to focus on how great you’re going to feel. The long term pay off is pretty much always better than the instant gratification you feel you need in a given moment.