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. 

 

Nutrition Humor – “Diet” Woes

Deprivation is NEVER a good tactic when it comes to weight loss or maintenance.  It’s tough because sometimes we really want to stick to “clean eating” but we don’t realize that we aren’t having enough food.  Too little = bad news!

Adding in “volume” foods can REALLY make a difference – an extra serving of steamed or grilled veggies (seasonings can really jazz these up), a helping of fresh fruit, an extra serving of protein as a snack in between meals, maybe a dash of good fats in there…those things will really help you to stave off the “let me eat my whole kitchen!” later in the day.

NO ONE can eat a tiny amount and not have their body, later on, say “uh…excuse me?  I need some fuel to function properly…?”

Having TOO LITTLE is a quick way to derail your plan, and it will set you up for failure.  So make sure you add in a healthy snack or two, or double up on the protein and water-and-fiber-based foods that can help keep you fuller longer.

We’ve all been snookered by a massive wave of hunger when we try limiting our intake.  Not only does restriction SLOW your metabolism, but your body is designed needs the proper fuel (and enough of it!) to function properly.

Go Ballistic!

Ballistic, high intensity movements are an awesome addition to any workout.  They’re sometimes tough to push through, but they’re worth the effort.

High intensity training has plenty of press coverage so you can find lists of benefits all over the place, as well as solidly backed articles. . .

For the naysayers, I’d encourage giving it a go for a time and you will notice many of the purported benefits yourself, nevermind what others are saying.

That said, it isn’t something you need – nor should – do every workout.  The body gets pushed quite a bit during HIIT, so it’s important to also take a rest.  Two to three times a week is generally the recommendation (though don’t take it from me directly, as I’m not a doc myself.)

I personally love adding it in here or there.  Some of my favorite non-equipment HIIT exercises include:

  • Active Skater Lunges
  • Jump Squats
  • Sit-thrus
  • Bench Hops

I find that these jazz me just a bit more than steady state cardio, and are a great addition to my regular weight lifting routine.  HIIT exercises give me (and my metabolism) a nice boost, help me be as efficient as I can be with my workouts, as well as increase my endurance for Martial Arts.

If you haven’t tried HIIT before, start slow – try some jumping jacks, jump rope, or jogging in place to start. You don’t have to make it impossible (which honestly will only make you jump ship that much quicker!)  

It’s okay to take your time building up! HIIT is an awesome “bang for your buck” approach to fitness – the benefits are not only ones you’ll feel, but ones you will see.

Keep up the awesome work!

Nutrition Humor – Refund!

I’d like to appeal to the “powers that be,” whomsoever you are, that this be instated forthwith.  I, for one, am all in favor in spite of the “yeah, you wish it!”s out there.  Listen, magic happens every day. . .

“Yes, thank you.  I’d like a refund on that milkshake?  It just wasn’t as creamy, malted, or chocolate-y as I (an my stomach) anticipated.  Awesome, thanks!  800 calories for something else! 😀 “

Setting Up The Day

There’s something to be said for having breakfast in the morning.  It doesn’t have to be sitting on your night table and devoured the moment your lids go up…but having a meal in the morning as you get going can set you up for a much better day.

My system is a little quirky – if I wake up early, before my usual (and more natural) time, I have to eat pronto.  Not doing so lands me in a puffy and uncomfortable way – no one can explain it, it just is what it is.  Same thing happens if I wait too long between meals or snacks! Frustrating but…I know it happens, so I’m able to be proactive and head it off!  If I wake up at my usual time, a cup of coffee and a little time before eating works best.  Everyone is different and there is nothing wrong with the way your morning routine is if it works for you!

I don’t vary a ton with my food in general – I could list my staples on one hand.  So breakfast is either eggs and vegetables, or eggs and fruit.  I don’t manage to get bored, remarkably (spices and sometimes even salsa or hot sauce can make a nice change!)

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What I find, though, is that having a decent amount of protein, paired with high fiber and high water content foods sets me up to have more energy for the not just the morning, but the day.  It kicks starts the metabolic burning process, and it often keeps me from devouring everything in sight later (that happens – for sure – when I don’t.)  

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Whatever mix of macronutrients works for you so that you feel your best, have the most energy, and feel satisfied, is what you should do!  That might be toast with peanut butter and some fruit, or a big greek yogurt smoothie… Whatever it is, though, squeeze it in if you can.  Breakfast is hugely important and will give you the support you need internally to start the day right. 

 

No Treadmill, No Problem, by Eric Velazquez, NSCA-CSCS

Sharing this post (by Eric Velazquez, NSCA-CSCS) because it’s a great little workout when you feel like you need cardio, and you don’t have (or want!) a machine! 

And yes…there is plenty you CAN do without having to be indoors, feeling like an oversized hamster. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a great way to get your heart rate up, and the metabolism burning. I’d personally take running with a log over the treadmill myself!

(C) Cartoonstock

(C) Cartoonstock / Guy & Rodd

 

5 Myths Sabotaging Your Diet‏, by Hungry Girl

Sharing this Hungry Girl post because I feel like these are some common culprits for people, and ones I hear more often than you might think – this way, you get a chance to read the article in case you missed it, or don’t know who Hungry Girl is to begin with!  

In some cases I feel like these mishaps legitimately occur when a person doesn’t know a lot about nutrition, metabolism, or the role of exercise.

 

In others cases, though, it’s almost a failure to use common sense. . .  

Hungry Girl has been posting for several, solid years – what I appreciate about what she / the Company does is that they always endeavor to educate, remind, and offer some healthier solutions and alternatives.  If nothing else, the blog can help clear up some dietary misconceptions, and help readers to rethink their own habits, recipes and routines for a healthier, happier version of themselves.