Why I Like Hungry Girl’s “5 Weight-Maintenance Tips That Work”

I got this Hungry Girl article in my e-mail a few days ago: 

“5 Weight-Maintenance Tips That Work”

I’ve followed Hungry Girl for years – literally from the beginning. I was recovering from two severe eating disorders and found the site’s positivity both helpful and encouraging. To this day, I still get the newsletters, and still appreciate what she (Lisa, the founder) is aiming to do – help others live a healthier life beginning with THE key factor —-> nutrition.

Nutrition is something I think about all the time – not only because of my experiences, but because I am still an athlete. At 40, things are vastly different then when I was 20 – I’m constantly tweaking my routine  and my nutritional intake in order to achieve my goal(s) of maintaining a healthy life. One, I might add, that is sustainable (what’s the point if you can’t stick to a plan?!)

Anyway…I really liked her article because these ARE tips that can help when trying to maintain weight, or lose a little extra. She isn’t launching into unreasonable means of achieving these things, and therefore not insinuating that anyone need to do anything drastic. It’s about little, overall changes. It’s about learning why / how those changes work, and being able to stick with them for the longer haul. 

Here are Lisa’s tips (click on the link above for her take!) paired with a few comments of my own:

1 – RE-EVALUATION OF OUR DAILY, CALORIC INTAKE

I don’t advocate necessarily counting every…single…calorie, every…single…day. With a past like mine, I know that’s dangerous territory for many people (even those who haven’t dipped into eating-disorder-land.) This kind of hyper-micromanagement can lead to paranoia or OCD / addictive / controlling behaviors for certain personality types. Rest assured, that can only end poorly – trying to control to the umpteenth degree on a daily basis can cause a program to fail (impossible to maintain over time) OR a rebound (“let me just eat everything in sight because I can’t take this stringent restriction anymore!”) Restriction doesn’t work.

HOWEVER…

Being aware of our caloric needs, and focusing in on what the foods we eat contain calorically CAN help us to reprogram. We can paint a better picture of what our personal best nutritional plan is by:

  1. Making an effort to understand what an appropriate portion really is.
  2. Learning how many calories certain types of foods contain.
  3. Checking into what our specific bodies need calorically (Lisa shares a calculator in her article.)

Keep in mind, we are all different. Calculators, too, aren’t 100% (the best basal metabolic calculator is generally a test done at the hospital, or using one of those new, fancy-pants “pods” designed to account for other factors beyond height, age, and activity level.)

The point is, it is crucial to understand whether we need 3,000 calories a day, or more like 1,500 – we may be sabotaging ourselves without even knowing. Exercise can help you boost this number, by the way, so don’t consider a super low number a horrible fate. You can help it along.

2 – KEEP WHAT WORKS FOR YOU

I love that she points this out. Jumping on the diet-fad bandwagon isn’t going to save you – even if you lose a few pounds short-term (summer beach season is coming up – don’t be tempted!) you may well find the weight you lost coming back. Why? A “fad” isn’t a lifestyle change by definition! 

What works then? Take a look at your history… Is there a time you remember (beyond being a teenage-metabolic-furnace!) where you found you were feeling and looking your best? What were you doing at that time to achieve those goals? As above, things change as we get older BUT…if you were exercising more, think about adding some movement back into your schedule. Think about the KINDS of exercises that work best for you…

You may love long runs so you can zone out and decompress… Maybe you like cycling outside, or doing zumba with a group. If HIIT for only 20 minutes seems to help your body shed the most effectively, look at finding room for that two or three times a week.

Along these lines, if a certain nutritional approach worked, maybe it’s time to revisit it. I can’t eat processed carbohydrates without feeling horrendous, so that’s something I avoid, as one example. Maybe a Weight Watchers type approach works for you because it holds you accountable, and helps you recognize how much you are really taking in. Perhaps it’s Mediterranean in flavor….that’s great too. We are not all going to respond to the same plan. If it worked for you in the past, break it down and think about WHY and HOW it worked. Find ways to incorporate those hows and whys into your current routine.

3 – 80/20 = SUCCESS LONG TERM

The “80/20” rule is a far more realistic approach to changing our not-so-healthy habits to good ones with success. What this entails is that you stick to your healthy eating and exercise 80% of time. There are going to be days where you are completely over your eyeballs. There are going to be others where you’re simply too exhausted (to the point that exercise might not be your safest best – bad form can mean injury potential.) There will also be days where you might be traveling for work and can’t maintain your home routine…

Life HAPPENS, and sticking to the “perfect diet” 100% of the time isn’t realistic for anyone. Instead, aim for being on point 80% of the time – this allows you a 20% buffer where you can deviate without sabotaging your many efforts to achieve your personal goals. 

4 – BE ACCOUNTABLE and HONEST

Accountability and honesty are absolutely integral when it comes to personal progress. NO ONE likes criticism. No one likes to admit shortcomings. BUT…if we don’t’ address personal concerns we know to be true, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice. 

We ALL have room to grow – it’s okay to have areas that need improvement, and it’s okay to not always stay on track. What will never be okay, however, is lying to ourselves. Honesty is the best policy not only with others, but in our internal dialogue as well – we know what our goals are, we know if we are falling short, and denial will only perpetuate the problem.

Own up to whatever it is that needs some tweaking and watch how much you can progress once you take that ownership. Even small progress is a step forward, and it is astounding how much those gains can contribute to overall self-motivation and confidence. 

You don’t need to live up to anyone else’s standards – what other people think is their business only. And you definitely don’t need to be hard on yourself! This is simply about owning our truths and recognizing that we CAN make changes once we are open to admitting them.

5 – REWARD YOURSELF

Equally as important as the rest! Maintaining and losing weight isn’t always super easy, especially as we get older and we see that our tried-and-true doesn’t work anymore. Make sure to take time to do something nice for YOU – buy a non-food goodie, repeat some extra affirmations, take a day to do a special activity you don’t always have time for, take a trip to the spa…! Whatever it is, treat yourself and remember how many things you are doing right. 

 

Surrounding Yourself With Good People

The people with whom you choose to spend the most time can have a huge impact on your life and well-being…

Look to those who love you for exactly who you are. For they are the ones who will have patience, respect, and understanding when you need it most….and, more importantly, at all times.

Look to those who push you to look deeply within yourself at the things that maybe no longer serve you so well – sometimes it’s hard to face ourselves alone. 

Look to those who challenge you to internally and externally step up your game. There are those who will support and encourage you, and remind you of all the “wonderful” you have to offer (and you deserve to be reminded. OFTEN!)

Look to the people who remind you that “failure” means “lesson,” and nothing more. The people who will remind you that have the strength, the courage, and the wherewithal to get up and fight…because you’ve already done it with success so many times before.

And look to those who will not only look for the bright side no matter how grim the circumstance, but who will do everything in their power to BE the “bright” when the lights go out. 

Life is full of ups and downs – when we have the right troops in our corner it’s not only easier to weather the storms, but the joys and celebrations are also multiplied many, many fold.  

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There’s Plenty For All Of Us

I’ve always encouraged people to share whatever positive thoughts come to mind – the world could always use more positivity, and people could always use joyful support.

Give back when you can without expectation – goodness begets the good and really doesn’t need a reason. There’s enough “wonderful” in the Universe for all of us. 

Courage

Courage isn’t always that stoic, fearless lion’s face people post all the time.  It isn’t necessarily stronger than the storm, like quotations always say…

Courage isn’t necessarily so earth-shattering that anyone else even sees it but you. . .

Often, it is that gentle whisper in your ear. . .that feeling within you that says, “I have tomorrow to try again.”  

Don’t give up, or allow discouragement to take hold – small steps are still progress. One day at a time is more that good enough.

Take What You Need

I’ve shared these time and time again, but am tempted to print them and post them around just because…

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Some days a tiny, random nudge of encouragement can make h u g e difference.

Share the goodness.

Martial Arts – The Love Of Losing

At Ninjutsu, my Sensei teaches the children to embrace failure.  We ask them – often“who loves to lose?!”

Joyfully, the children yell out “MEEEE!”

We then ask, WHY do you love to lose?”

“Because it helps us to leaaarrrrnnn!!!” they emphatically reply.

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Life is riddled with challenges – there are often far more “failures,” lost games, missed deadlines, rejections (etc!) than there are successes.  But as a result, we learn SO much more – We grow and develop to have an astoundingly richer, more valuable experience in Life, and we learn that NOT winning is not only OKAY…but it is a POSITIVE.

In my mind (and heart) teaching this to children cannot be started early enough.  Let them know that failures are going to happen – no one likes surprises! 😉

But ALSO let them know that it is okay, that their own value has not diminished in any way, and that because of that “loss” many good things will bloom in its place.

More of my Martial Arts… ❤

Best V-Day Ever

Let me be clear – I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, and haven’t since I was a little girl making Valentines for my classmates! Why?  I personally disapprove of the notion that other people (let’s be frank, our significant others!) are pressured with an obligation to “do something nice” for us on this specific day of the year.  

To me, the beauty of love is that you appreciate one another EVERY day – it doesn’t matter whether you show your gratitude with a little note or card, doing something to make your husband / wife / boyfriend’s etc day a little bit easier, or just saying “I love and appreciate you.”  The point is that you don’t NEED a designated day to show you care, nor to spoil or shower your lover with affection and appreciation.  

Now that said, if you do celebrate, more power to you and your other half!  There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying it if you do!

Sunday happened to be a perfect day, though – spending time with my man is always a great day anyway, but we got to indulge in an activity he is incredibly gifted with / passionate about, and one I am eager to learn and also enjoy – target shooting.  

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I LOVE that he has passions and I want always to encourage that he takes time out to enjoy whatever those activities are – supporting each other in what brings personal joy is so important.  I view being able to do that activity WITH him as a gift...and I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything else that day.  ❤

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There is so much about it that I enjoyed, and so much about him that I cherish…  

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I am harder on myself than anyone else I’ve ever met in my Life and as a result, I can ruin a perfectly good time (for me and everyone else!) by holding myself to some absurdly high standard…yes, even as a neophyte (which means, it is okay NOT to be perfect, hello!!!)  He is tremendously patient with me, supportive and encouraging – and honestly, that makes all the difference.  

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I have had the habit historically of overthinking and getting in my own way – taking a deep breath, letting go of unreasonable anxiety, and appreciating (not to forget accepting) the instruction helps me stay grounded and in a “fun” mindset.  

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The whole point is that activities, especially together, are supposed to be fun – an opportunity to learn is a blessing anyway you take it, and when you are learning alongside your best friend?  Really doesn’t get better.  So even though I wasn’t totally aware that it was the 14th (and I wasn’t!), it was a memorable day filled with love and my best friend – I couldn’t have asked for more. ❤

 

Encouragement

The other morning my exercise-induced asthma kicked in – not fun, and not expected.  One of my Gracie Jiu-Jitsu instructors said “how ironic!  Of all the people, the one who is always active has exercise-induced asthma!”  Sigh.  I know!  (Still, how blessed I am to be able to BE active – health is a gift!)

I was fully determined to sprint hard that day, and I was feeling incredibly disheartened…not only about my poor performance and inability, but the fact that I had set my bar so high, and I wasn’t going to get there.  Ugh.  I got to my fifth sprint (I usually aim for 8 to 10), and I had to call it quits.  As I walked to settle myself down, the lady next to me took out her earbuds…

“You’re doing GREAT,” she said with a smile.

My spirit lifted. Immediately. As if rainbows illuminated the room. (And they did!) 😀

“Thank you so much for saying that!” I replied, aware that my displeasure and difficulty was obvious.

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She continued to speak to me, sharing kind words of encouragement, and truly generous compliments.  At that moment, I really needed it!  I love to encourage others, particularly when it comes to exercise – I love to remind them that just being there is a wonderful start and that they should be proud. But at that moment, I was the one really struggling, and this sweetheart of a lady just lit me up! 

I gave up on the rest of the sprints, feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction despite that I could only get about a third of a normal workout in – typically, I’d feel down about it but there she was telling me how hard I work all the time…  

“Wait…I DO,” I thought.  “It’s okay to slow down if I need to…”

Her thoughtfulness was so appreciated, and reminded me that it was okay if I wasn’t 100%.  It was OKAY to rest.  So often we share kind words with others, and advice about allowing ourselves to rest…and we don’t heed the counsel ourselves!  The reminder was needed.

I’m also blessed to have an amazing man in my Life, who supports and encourages me with my sports (and all that I do.)  He is the first person to tell me to take it easy, and it is often the one thing I really need!  He tells me I work hard enough, and it’s okay to be gentle with myself, especially if I’m not tip-top.

I’m so thankful to him, and to my new gym bunny friend…who is always working her tail off too!  What goes around comes around, for sure…and in this case, it was a wonderful thing. ❤  

 

The eSpin and Cardio Days

A few years ago I got a refurbished Star Trac eSpinner – I am not a Soul Cycler, a spin-class-attender, nor an outdoor cyclist by any stretch.  But I love spin bikes because they are one of those cardio options that are safer for bad knees (I’ve got two!), or when you are just not able to (or up to) the treadmill or outdoor running.  

There are, of course, tons of other cardio options beyond a spin bike or treadmill! For example:

  • Recumbent Bike
  • Stairmaster / Stepper
  • Stairmill
  • Elliptical
  • Adaptive Motion and Arc Trainers
  • Versa Climber
  • Rowing Machines…

It is totally a matter of preference.  For me, the bike is one of the more comfortable choices if I’m not doing treadmill sprints…and the reality of it is that if I was going to spend money on a machine, I wanted it to be the one I’d use most!  I happen to like this older eSpinner because it has a fan, which admittedly helps me push harder longer.  Don’t laugh! 

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Even then, though, it’s not always easy.  When people ask about my cardio they seem to think I must enjoy it – I love activity, but trust me when I say…cardio that I am aware I am doing is not on my “love” list! It does take some self talk and encouragement most of the time, and definitely some good music!

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I also try to focus on the feeling of finishing – there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with getting through a workout, especially one you struggled to start!  It is worth pushing through just for that sense of “I did it!” 

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Even if someone else appears to be loving Life while they sweat profusely and gasp for breath on the treadmill next to you…don’t assume it is a piece of cake for them, and therefore that there is something wrong with you because it feels tough.  There ISN’T – you are doing great (they probably would love to be done themselves!)  

Getting ON the bike, or treadmill, or elliptical is a start.  Once you are THERE, you will push through it, proving you can do more than your brain wanted to trick the rest of you out of doing that day. Your pumping heart, and a body flooded with endorphins will remind the brain that its demotivating techniques just won’t work this time!  🙂

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Leaving The Comfort Zone

In order to grow, achieve your success, learn more, love deeper…you have to leave your comfort zone.

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It really isn’t a question of whether you must, but rather when you will…

It can be terrifying, it can feel debilitating…but the challenge and promise of the unknown will bestow some of Life’s most incredible gifts.

Take a deep breath, and step outside the lines.

For more POSITIVITY, click here!