Better Ways To Gauge Progress Than Those Stupid Scales

lose 15 pounds by tomorrow

So you’ve decided that you need to lose weight.  Summer or that wedding, holiday or other special occasion is approaching and you are absolutely not looking forward to finding something to wear.

Or you caught your reflection in a window (or have been studying it in the bathroom mirror) and you just don’t like what you’re seeing.

Whatever the reason, you’ve decided that on Monday, you are starting your new diet and fitness program.

If you regularly read my blog, you’ll know how I feel about diets, but that’s another discussion.

For the moment, let’s imagine that you’ve started your new program (whatever that may be) and you’ve been ‘good’ for like absolutely ages now.  But no matter how many times you get on and off, those damn scales are just not showing any (or much) weight loss.

What gives?  You’ve been so ‘good’.  Why hasn’t your weight changed?

I’ve made up a list of 5 ways you can test that progress is happening, even if the scale tells you otherwise.

Note, that if you are not seeing the following signs of progress, perhaps you should check your program. Maybe it’s not right for you.  (Or perhaps, you have not been following it as closely as you thought)

Get off your bathroom scales.

 

You have more energy and/or are sleeping better

This is one of the first things new clients at FitterFaster notice.   When making the right changes to what you eat each day and training with workouts that are appropriate for YOU in terms of intensity, frequency and modality, an increase in your energy is one of the key indicators that you are progressing.

This is because eating more nutritious foods supplies your body with much more than just energy (calories).  You’ll be consuming nutrients that you need to feel energetic all day every day.  Vitamins, minerals, essential fats and proteins are all abundant in the right sort of plan.

Add an effective training plan to that and you’re on a winner for avoiding those mid-afternoon energy slumps.

Your Clothes Feel Looser

Along with more energy, it is amazing how quickly you notice this. Your belt can go in a notch or two.   Your pants are less snug around your butt and legs.  That tightness across the back of  your work shirt – all but gone!

I would love a dollar for every client that comes in for their second assessment that bounces in telling me about how they need to get a new uniform and how they fit into their old jeans etc.   They’re excited and amazed at the changes in just 3-5 weeks.

But then, I ask them to step onto the scales (something I have to do to assess body fat percentage).    It is like a switch as been flicked.  They glance at that number in disbelief.  “But how can that be?  How can I be only ‘X’ kg lighter when I feel and look so good?”

How your clothes are fitting is a much better indicator than changes on the scale for lots of reasons.  Here are some:

  • Muscle weighs more and takes up less space than fat.  So when it goes up and fat goes down, you get smaller while your scale weight stays the same or even goes up
  • You are more hydrated.   A good program includes improving hydration in your body and yep, you guessed it.  That extra water weighs more too.
  • Your bones are getting heavier.  This can happen especially to people who have not been exercising for some time and then start a good program of resistance/impact training.  This is also a good thing; denser stronger bones are heavier.

This is why I couple body weight measuring with girth measurements with a tape measure AND body composition assessment. So you can track changes in dehydration as well as body fat and lean weight by percentage and in kilos/grams.

What a tape measure tells you, is much more important than your bathroom scales.  So if someone is not doing the measuring for you, make sure you take all your body measurements and use certain clothing as a gauge instead.

Your Moods Are Better

Along with having more energy, an increase in good moods is super common.  “I really used to be so cranky?” is a common catch cry at FitterFaster.

This is partly due to the fact that you are actively doing something to improve your life, which gives you a winning sense of achievement even before results happen.

Other changes that occur when you improve your nutritional intake and start exercising are on a more cellular and hormonal level.  Yep, your hormones become more balanced and this leads to improved moods and a better outlook on everything.

The latest research has put good nutrition and exercise right up the top of the treatment list for depression.   I’ve seen and experienced many clients who have been able to move off or drastically lower medications that they may have been taking for years to treat anxiety and depression.

(Please always consult with your medical practioner.  I am absolutely not recommending making any changes to medications prescribed by him/her)

You’re Feeling Like It’s Not A ‘Diet’ Anymore

You’ll experience this on a good program only.  If the changes you’re making on the program you’re following are not feeling like something you could do forever, you’re on the wrong program.

When you make the right changes and add the right new habits, you’ll feel so good and they’ll just totally make sense that you will just want to continue.  If you’re having to exercise for hours and hours (especially if you’re not enjoying it) or you are hungry, this is not sustainable.

If however you feel like it’s all becoming easier, you know that you’re making progress.

You Feel Satisfied and You’re Not Hungry

Perhaps this should have been at the top of the list.  The right program will have added so much more food and so many more nutrients to your current plan, that you can’t possibly feel hungry.

Every meal and snack should leave you feeling satisfied on a day to day basis.  And while cravings may still come along occasionally, you’ll notice that they get less and less frequent and that you’re actually able to have a bit of your favourite treat without the need to devour the entire box every time you think about it

Being hungry on a ‘diet’ is a massive clue that this is not working.  Sure you may lose a few kilos in the early days, but if you are hungry, you will not be able to sustain the program and therefore progress will halt and you’ll most likely regain any weight lost because you haven’t learnt strategies to maintiain the loss.

We all have the discipline of monks when it comes to what we are going to eat


5 Easy Ways To Change Your Life

A really short post today with 5 action items that will change your life.  FitterFaster clients can attest to the fact that the following will make a huge difference if you just do them.

I’d suggest, pick one action, do it for a week before adding the second action and so on.  By the 6th week, you will feel and look a whole lot different.

Kate Melissa Kylie Angela

Cut out that wine/beer or other alcohol in the evening

Yep, that glass or 2 (or bottle) of wine you’ve been having to ‘relax’ because you deserve it.  It’s not serving you!

You may think it is doing you the world of good, but in actual fact, it is making your life worse, not better.

The first week’s action is to cut out all alcohol during the week.  If you still wish to have a drink, save it for one day on the weekend and seriously, limit the amount and really enjoy it

Get To Bed Earlier

I know you’re busy at night, but if you’re honest with yourself, you really could get into bed earlier.  If you find it hard to fall asleep, start by going 30 minutes earlier (build that to an hour) and read in bed.

Your new sleep time will become habit.  You just have to give it some time. Cutting out that alcohol in the evenings will also help you to have a more restful sleep as well.

Start Cooking At Home

This is a no brainer and probably could have been first on my list.  Out of 7 nights, make a commitment to totally cook your evening meal from scratch at home for at least 4 of them.  Build that up over a few weeks till you’re cooking fresh meals at home for at least 6 nights per week.

My free recipe book giveaway has over 30 easy, yummy, fast to prepare and healthy meals.  If you don’t have it yet, you can download it here:  Over 30 healthy, simple recipes for free

Take Your Own Lunch

The simplest way to do this, is to simply cook an extra serve at your evening meal and take it to work, school or wherever with you the next day.  How easy is that!  Alternatively, pack a salad with some left over meat,chicken or fish (most meals cna be eaten cold if you have no way to heat during the day)

If you’re buying your lunch (no matter how ‘healthy’ it seems) you need to stop that now.  If you live in Maryborough however Cafe Cardio Pulse at the hospital makes many FitterFaster meals which you can purchase fresh daily.  Their menu changes daily and they feature many of the recipes in the free recipe book download above.

Get Moving

Yep, you knew this was coming.  Commit to doing something every day.  You read that right – every day.  The best way to make something a habit is to do it regularly.  If you promise that you’ll do something say, 3 times per week, it is too easy to keep putting it off thinking you’ll do it later in the week. And we all know what happens then.

A walk, a group session, a visit to the local gym, a workout at home.  Commit 10-15 minutes daily at first.   Once that becomes habit, you can increase the duration of a few of those sessions and keep the other days short.

Sally Chris Matt

Get up 15-20 Minutes Earlier to have breakfast

Now that you are getting into bed earlier, getting up just 15 minutes earlier won’t be a problem.  Get up and cook or prepare yourself a healthy breakfast before the rest of your tribe even wakes.

A couple of eggs with some veggies cooked with them, some greek/natural yogurt with fruit or some leftovers from last night’s tea.  All quick and easy as well as nutritious.

I like to make a huge egg and vegetable quiche on the weekends so that I simply need to cut a slice in the mornings.  Alternatively, quiche ‘muffins’ are also easy to prepare and you can have them in the fridge ready to go. These also make great packed lunches.

You can find some easy breakfast recipes here: Easy Breakfast Recipes

Your day will start much better if you’ve eaten a healthy and filling meal for breakfast.

egg muffins

Select one of these new habits each week and commit to making it work for you.  Although they seem so simple, they really will change your life.

If you have any questions about this or any other health or fitness issues, just email me any time jo@fitterfaster.net.au


Transformation In Stages

 

After years of coaching fitness and fat loss, recording results, experimenting with and changing methods (with principles never changing), I’ve come to know that body transformation is best approached in phases.

While there are a few people who can totally transform from obese to lean in one big leap, they are few and far between.  And it doesn’t matter what method they’re using.  This is my theory (tested for the past 9 plus years)

This is how it works best for most of you:

PHASE ONE

Shorter, really concentrated, strict ‘sprints’ such as a challenge or contest type program.

These can vary in length, and in fact, I’ve found clients work better when the length does vary each time they do one.

I’ve found that 4 weeks is the shortest time to see really measurable results and 12 weeks probably being just a bit too long really to keep focused with the strict guidelines that the ‘sprint’ portion requires.  Between 4 – 8 or 10 weeks working best for most people.

The FitterFaster challenges are NEVER about starvation or restriction. I focus on adding good things into your diet and basically crowding out (or leaving no room) for the types of foods that do not  assist you to achieve your goals.

All nutrition plans are balanced and in fact, probably provide more food than a lot of the participants were eating on a daily basis prior to starting.

One thing for sure is that you’ll definitely improve your nutritional intake and your health while doing one of my challenges.

The addition of a start and end date in Phase One allows most people to focus, have their game-face on and give a 100% effort to sticking with the plan.

All of my programs also have a heavy base of habit change, health education and support.  I will never ask anyone to do something that is detrimental to their health as health improvement is a priority for me, while you focus on your fat loss.

PHASE TWO

Focused ‘recovery’ periods where the focus is on changing/maintaining daily practices and habits and on maintaining the new body fat percentage/weight (achieved via the ‘sprint’ or Phase One)

During these phases, the emphasis is more on weight or body composition maintenance through changing daily practices and habits that you need to keep doing for life (including during the ‘sprint’ phases)

Habits and practices that you’ll concentrate on are things like:

  1. Eating a healthy protein source at every meal or snack – What is protein?  What is the most convenient source? How can I do this if I’m on holidays, out for the day, at business functions, on a budget?  What are the best sources of protein?
  2. Taking daily supplements – doing this every day without fail.  Supplements such as fish oils, probiotics and glutamine for instance.  Nothing fancy, just the basics to improve results and your healthy
  3. Staying properly hydrated – How much water do I need to drink?  What about if I train, if it’s hot, etc?  Why?  What are the benefits?

These are just examples but by just focusing on one or two best practices at a time until they actually do become habits means that ultimately, you’ll reset your set-point weight and be able to reach new highs (or lows) when you hit  Phase One again.

 

Go here for more proof: Before and Afters

Why this approach?

After running over 20 different challenges and contests so far, I’ve found that the people who succeed in maintaining their new weight, and even continuing to get results beyond the finish date, are those that make the changes that they learn in the challenge into daily habits.

Those same people, that are then living a healthier life beyond the finish line, can then go even further when the next challenge (sprint) comes along.

It can take many cycles or just a couple to reach your ultimate goals.  It depends, of course on where you’re starting from in terms of your current body fat percentage and fitness level, but also exactly where you’re at with your mindset and your willingness to accept the process and the uncomfortableness that it sometimes brings from time to time.

Having the ‘recovery’ phase allows some leniency with food choices and training frequency (always within reason) meaning you can reset your mind while putting into practice the long term principles of good health and lean body achievement.

So many people go ‘off’ when a challenge finishes.

They simply go back to their old habits and guess what – that’s what got them to overweight and unhealthy in the first place!

So having Phase Two in place, with support, ongoing follow-up and guidance with what to focus on each week, will mean that you don’t keep going backward.

You can maintain your direction and not slip back when each challenge is over.

This is what makes long-term fat loss, fitness and superior health possible.

This is the crux of the FitterFaster programs.  Helping you to achieve better than average health and a body that you can love and appreciate every day.

If you’d just like receive articles and posts about improving your body composition and your health, and be informed when my next Phase One Challenge will run, complete your details below.  I will not share your details with anyone.


Easy Ways To Get Fatter

What could you do on a daily or weekly basis to gain body fat? It’s pretty simple really and most of these things can be done without even thinking about them:

  • Drink your calories. This is an easy one. Never choose water and instead, drink soft drinks, cordials, fruit juices and even load up on diet drinks. The only way to drink your water if you want to gain body fat, is to choose flavoured varieties.
  • Go on a strict diet where you cut your calories really low. This is just about guaranteed to get your eating way too much at some point and also will aid you to make bad food choices because you’re so hungry. Can also cause drops in blood sugar which are great for increasing cravings too.
  • Go to bed too late, watch telly in bed, take your phone to bed or develop any other bad sleeping habit. This will cause havoc with your hormones, increase cravings and also cause you to overeat due to a lack of energy and focus. Whatever you do, don’t get more than 6 hours of sleep per night, or, if you must, make sure you get at least 9 or more hours as getting too much sleep can also cause you to overeat. Watching TV or using a computer or other device at night is also a great way to waste time that could otherwise be spent sleeping.
  • Snack or choose foods for meals according to whatever is most convenient and easy to get. Do not under any circumstances try to be organised or prepared. Just grab the easiest thing available especially if it can be ordered and delivered or you can order and pick up within 10 minutes or so. Take away food is great for piling on the kilos. Ditto for being organised during the day with food when away from the home. Do not under any circumstances preprepare snacks and take them with you. Just be sure to grab whatever is available.  Do not pack your own lunch for work, just grab whatever is easiest, quickest or cheapest from the closest cafe or take away shop.
  • Do not undertake physical activity unless it involves taking it easy, having long rests and not overexerting yourself. Best not to do anything though just to be sure.
    If you do anything physical, make sure you undo at least some of the benefits by consuming energy/sports drinks and protein/low carb/energy/etc bars. In case, you accidentally burn any calories while exercising, make sure you replace them with calorie laden flavoured drinks and snacks. Energy/sports drinks are especially good for this.
  • Drink alcohol as often as possible. Even a once per week binge will ensure that fat stores are laid in your body and remain there.  If possible, have at least a glass or two of beer or wine (or other favourite alcoholic drink) most nights as a ‘wind down’ because you deserve it.
  • Have a cheat meal/snack most days. If you can’t force yourself eat whatever you want for an entire day, even just one massive cheat meal per week will undo a lot of what you’ve achieved during the week if you forgot to make bad food choices on a daily basis.
  • Don’t think about what you’re eating and drinking and most definitely don’t record it. Choose solely on availability and taste. Do not think about nutrient content, protein content, calories, fats, chemical additives etc. Just shove it in, in as larger quantities as possible.
  • Eat as much as possible of ‘diet’ products. Anything labelled ‘non-fat, low fat, diet, skinny, lite, light etc’ is great in large quantities. You know you can eat extra of this to put on extra body fat at any time.
  • Be sure to hang around the tea or lunch room at work especially when it’s someone’s birthday or the boss shouts morning tea. Other great places to hang are at kids birthday parties, right next to the food table or at the buffet when out. And always make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand on your desk at work. Especially lollies, choccies and other nibbly food that’s impossible to eat just one of.
  • When you’re feeling bad/upset/angry/lonely/bored, make sure you have on hand an assortment of rubbish foods to medicate yourself with. These are guaranteed to make you feel worse (and guilty) so that any thoughts of making good choices are thrown totally out the window in favour of eating even more crap.  You know you’ll feel bad once you start, so make sure you have plenty to keep going on with.

So there you have it.  Easy ways to put on body fat.  Which ones are you doing?

It's easy to get a belly like this
It’s easy to get a belly like this

My Top Tips For Effective Dieting and Awesome Results

Firstly, let’s clarify what I mean by ‘dieting’.

Everyone has a diet. A diet is basically what you’re eating each day.  Whether it’s loads of crap, take away and processed rubbish in massive quantities.  Or whether it’s lettuce leaves and carrots, it’ still your ‘diet’.

So what should your diet look like if you want to be lean and healthy?

TIP 1

WATCH WHAT YOU DRINK

Drink water or black tea and coffee only
Drink water or black tea and coffee only

There are a few drinks I recommend and pretty much stay away from anything else:

  • Water – obvious.  Drink 2-3 litres every day.  Search my previous blog posts for ‘whys’ if you don’t know this by now
  • Tea – black tea has many health benefits.  Herbal teas are great as well.  Drink either without milk or sugar or honey or any other sweetener no matter how good the marketer made it sound.
  • Coffee – drink black if you can too.  A spoonful of full cream milk won’t kill you however.  A couple of cups of coffee per day also has health benefits.  It’s when you’re downing 4,5 or more per day that you run into problems.  Yes, that’s you if you guzzle coffee, especially espresso several times per day.  Again, as per tea – NO SWEETENERS of any kind

TIP 2

EAT MORE REAL FOOD

Eat real food!
Eat real food!

You have to stop eating out of wrappers, boxes, packets and jars.  Get back into your kitchen and start making food from scratch.  It really, really doesn’t take much effort or time, not nearly as much as you think.

Choose your meals from fruits, vegetables, any meats (not processed), chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and natural or greek yoghurts.

Eat other foods occasionally.

TIP 3

MOVE YOUR BUTT MORE OFTEN – AT LEAST DAILY

Yep, exercise daily!!  It’s absolutely vital if you want a healthy body.  Not exactly anything to do with your diet, but necessary nonetheless.

TIP 4

EAT ENOUGH

How often you eat is not as important as what you eat.  I usually eat 3 larger meals per day and sometimes have a snack morning or afternoon.  I prefer it this way but most of my clients, especially those making huge changes to their diets, have better success with 3 main meals and 2 snacks each day.

However often you eat, make sure you eat enough.  Yep, if you’re eating real food you should be eating quite a lot. Probably much more than you are now even.

TIP 5

STOP DRINKING ALCOHOL

Save it for special occasions
Save it for special occasions

Gee, I hope I didn’t lose you with this one.  Stop drinking alcohol. That’s a big ask for many I know. But, it is making you fat and it is putting you at risk of so many diseases and conditions I just don’t know where to start.

It is also ageing you – yep, making you look and feel old!!

Limit your alcohol consumption to once per week maximum and even then, limit the number of drinks you are consuming to 1 or 2.  Also, be mindful of mixers and additives in drinks.  See Tip 1.

TIP 6

Improve your ratio by eating foods high in Omega 3 and limiting those high in Omega 6
Improve your ratio by eating foods high in Omega 3 and limiting those high in Omega 6

SUPPLEMENT WISELY

To be honest, there’s really only one supplement that I would say is vital for most people.  Omega 3 supplements.

Fish oils are the cheapest and easiest way to improve your Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acid ratio.

You’re probably consuming more than enough Omega 6 fatty acids.  The problem lies in the ratio of Omega 6 – Omega 3.  For lots of people it’s something in the vicinity of 20 – 1 or even worse.  We want to aim for a ratio of more like 3 – 1.

The more Omega 6 you consume, the more it drives away the Omega 3 as well, so you really, really need to do more than consume fish a couple of times per week.

Take fish oils every day AND eat oily, wild caught (not farmed) fish as well as eat foods like quinoa, chia and flaxseeds to help boost your Omega 3 levels.

Doing so will improve your health and help you to shed unwanted body fat as well.

To get a full list of foods you CAN eat, fill out the form below

If you’d like to train with me and find out how to combine all of this in real life, check out my coaching packages HERE

The best way to get started is with the 28 Day JumpStart coaching package that includes a whole month of unlimited training, assessments and your nutrition for just $79  Details can be found HERE


Why Isn’t It Working? I’m still fat!

I recently shared an article on Facebook that was shared with me by the AFL Community.  You can read the article here for more info   The article got lots of likes and comments so really hit a nerve, particularly with coaches and teachers I noticed.

The article specifically talks about having a Fixed Or Growth Mindset in children playing sport, but it applies to all of life no matter what the age or situation.

Here’s another resource about Fixed and Growth Mindset

This video is also about kids and academic results, but again, the Fixed Growth Mindset applies across the board.

If you’re reading this article, you are the kids that these articles are talking about, only your journey concerns fat loss, fitness and/or health improvement.

When you don’t succeed with your weight or health goals, you see yourself as a failure most times.  But I like to think of it as ‘not yet’.  You just haven’t succeeded YET.

Just because you’ve tried things in the past and they haven’t worked, it just means that you haven’t found YOUR SOLUTION YET.

Maybe you need more accountability and structure.

Maybe you need less.

Maybe you need to stop ‘going it alone’

Maybe you need to add training to the mix

Maybe you just need to be more consistent.

The fact that so many people see themselves as failures in the weight loss/fitness world is one of the main reasons I’ve started to coach most of my clients from a habit-based-maintenance approach.

I’m trying to teach them to maintain before they attain and to have successes along the way so that they get closer and closer to success and further away from NOT YET.  So they can stay in that Growth Mindset and keep moving forward till their ‘not yets’ are nonexistent.

What do I mean by ‘maintain before attain’?

We all know that if you cannot maintain your fat loss program after you’ve lost the weight, no matter how much weight or how much fitter you got, you will go backwards and end up right back where you were before you started or worse.

How many times have YOU done this before?

How many programs have you started and stopped before you even got results?

My nutrition programs are based on MAINTENANCE MODE.  I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that before, even though I’ve hinted at it over and over again.

MAINTENANCE MODE (MM) will get great results for you straight away.  But the main benefit of MM is that you can keep doing it forever.  By MM, I mean able to be maintained pretty much forever.  So not only will you get great results, but you get to keep them too.

So what is MM?

>>Its healthy eating.

>>Its real food that you buy from the supermarket.

>>Its doable in most situations because its pretty flexible.

>>You can do it forever (with a few optional tweaks once you reach your goals)

>>Your whole family can (and should) eat in a very similar way. You should not be cooking 2 or more meals for different family members.  All meals can be easily altered, without cooking different meals to suit your whole family – yes really!

My basic program for females is 5 meals per day, including protein and fruit/vegetables in each one and healthy fats a couple of times per day.

>>It does not mean eating food you don’t like or have intolerances too.

>>It does not mean you have to have a huge budget for groceries, supplements or other ‘add ins’

>>It does not mean you should be hungry.  In fact, the most common complaint I get is that there is too much food!

>>It does not mean you can never eat ‘X’ ever again

Once you learn to eat this way, we can tweak it for;

  • better results when/if you reach a plateau
  • different meal/snack timing in case you work shifts, don’t get breaks etc
  • changing food combos for allergies or intolerances
  • of course likes and dislikes – you have to enjoy eating, its one of life’s pleasures

Some of you do really well following a strict, set out menu, while others do much better focusing on changing habits one or 2 at a time.  Others can start out with a series of new actions which will later become new habits, but start more slowly with the meal plan or vice versa.

Either way, the goal is to learn the MM way of eating so that you can keep attaining and then maintain forever.

I run shorter online group programs on a regular basis where you can start your MM journey with support and accountability within a group setting.  These programs are run online and go for anywhere between 28 days to 12 weeks.  If you’d like me to let you know when my next one starts, fill out your details in the box at the top of this page.

I also do personalised online nutrition (and/or training) programs that you can start whenever suits you.  More details about personalised online nutrition and/or training programs can be found HERE

Or, you may be interested in my in person training and nutrition programs.  If that sounds like you, complete your details in the box on the right hand side of this post OR if you’re on your mobile device, scroll down to the box that says ‘Get more information about training at FitterFaster’ and complete your details there.

The thing is, you have to maintain a Growth Mindset if you want to get better at anything.

Always working towards being better, being stronger, being more accountable to yourself and your coaches or mentors.  If you have a Fixed Mindset, or if you believe you’re a failure because you didn’t achieve something the first, second or even the 50th time you tried, you will never succeed.