How to Avoid Gaining A Million Pounds on Thanksgiving

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Okay, okay a million is a little dramatic, but gaining weight and binging on Thanksgiving is accurate.

Believe me, I get it. I come from a long line of people who know how to cook and are incredibly passionate about good food.

Going home for Thanksgiving is like entering Disneyland for my belly. Every single dish is incredible and since I’m an only child there is always an over-abundance of leftovers since we end up cooking for a family of 8 (easily).

Needless to say, there’s no way I could sit here and just say, “Eat less!” as I’ve seen a handful of trainers online say. Eat less? Are you kidding? Have you tried a homemade raspberry and peach pie? GTFO.

Also, keep in mind that gaining a pound or two will not destroy your life. I’ve always felt that enjoying food and time with family is always more important than depriving yourself. Unless you’re prepping for a contest, that’s a whole different situation.

Thankfully, there are ways you can help your body prepare for the calories you’re about to eat. Supposedly, the average person eats around 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, if that gives you any idea.

Here are two, right off the bat from Jim Stoppani, and then we’ll dive into the rest.

1. Cut your carbs early in the week.

2. Try intermittent fasting.

3. Make things from scratch.

Even looking at MyFitness pal at the difference between a homemade and a store bought pie shows a difference of 30 calories. While that may not seem like a lot, that can add up over the course of an entire day (let’s be real: an entire weekend) of eating.

Also, that’s just a generic example. Maybe instead of apple pie you make a different type of pie: a list of the different types of pies and calories.

Out of all the dishes, I read that the green bean casserole actually has some of the most calories out of all the traditional Thanksgiving options, so maybe you switch that for something else.

4. Keep exercising.

This is the big thing that people overlook. They completely quit exercising for the year and swear to start up again in the new year.

If you’ve already decided to binge over the holiday, just decide to start bulking for the season and lift heavy enough to where you actually make that happen. Some tips: read on.

Go hiking. Go snowboarding. Lift weights. Play some football with your family. Keep active don’t just sit on the couch. Take advantage of how empty the gym is during November and December.

5. Drink more water.

I know, this sounds simple. Also, please note I do not mean drink more alcohol, I mean drink actual water. When you work on drinking enough water between rounds of food, you’ll feel full. This, coupled with taking the time to chew your food and eat slower, will prevent that painful oops-I-binged stomach pain.

Keep it simple! Don’t complicate this, and most of all don’t beat yourself up if you binge hard. Spending time with family and finding ways to give back to the world this holiday season is way more important than anything else.

Also, in case I don’t say it enough, thank you for reading this article or any articles I’ve ever written. It means a lot and I am incredibly grateful.

SuperMan Jim Stoppani Program Review – Before and After

Right off the bat, I should mention I was a little spoiled by Shortcut to Size and how fast it worked. (You can see my results from that program: HERE.) Keeping in mind that program is a 12-week program and Superman is a 5 week program, of course the results were much different.

(The before and after pictures will be right at the bottom, so if you want to skip right to the point without listening to me ramble, feel free to scroll down.”

Superman by Jim Stoppani isn’t one of his free ones, so you do have to be a member of his site to get it (which I am very lucky to be a free lifetime member). You can find out about it: HERE.

Overall, I liked Superman.

It combines supersets into a four-day split where you do around 40-50 sets. That normally wouldn’t be possible within an hour or so but with supersets it is.

With this program, you can pick and choose your own diet based on if you are gaining size or losing weight.

I chose weight-loss this time around, which made it a bit of a struggle to get through the grueling workouts because my calories were lower.

I did end up losing about a pound a week, which is pretty good considering, so a five-pound weight loss overall.

The one thing I loved about this program is the insane strength I added to each of my lifts. Generally, I added about 20 lbs. to each lift, and given that I was in a slight deficit, that was fascinating.

Also, with this program one of the biggest things I noticed was that my lats were one of the fastest things to grow. Which I’m sure is why this is the “Superman” program (Superman has huge lats, just look at him!)

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THOSE LATS THO

 

I should also note that I love strength gains for my mental happiness and also gaining muscle is like 0% scary to me. I know a lot of women freak out and run from programs that make them gain any size, which is unfortunate.

The lifts are fun, but I will be honest that by week 5 I was dying to mix it up. The workout consists of basically the same workouts each week, which are fantastic because they get results, but my brain has pretty much a one-month max of being able to do the same workout each day of the week. That has nothing to do with the program, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re like me and like to mix it up often.

Anyway, to what matters:

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From chunky-monkey to a little less chunky-monkey.

I was a little heavy this summer (CLEARLY no summer shredding for me), and you can see I lost a few pounds, but if I had a little more discipline with my diet the results probably would have been more impressive.

Overall, if you want to improve your strength and get a hell of a workout in, Superman is a good program.

Can You Know TOO Much?

Now that I’ve finished Jim Stoppani’s Superman program (final blog post, thoughts, review coming!), I’ve been looking at the rest of the year.

I know most people in the fitness industry spend time focusing on bulking during the winter months, so they don’t have to stay lean, I’ve been looking at what I want to do.

Bulking is easy. You lift incredibly heavy and you eat everything in sight. Especially if you’re fine with dirty bulking.

However, I’ve been on a mission to detox.

My body, my mind, my spirit. It all needs a good cleanse.

Elliott Hulse had a great video on this recently, about information constipation. Essentially, the keeping of information without letting it flow out of you.

This can be in many forms: learning without sharing, keeping too many books, too many bookmarked websites, and so on.

I dig it because that’s something I’ve been feeling recently. Even with this site and my multiple creative endeavors.

It’s not that I’m doing too many things, it’s that I’m not letting the information flow at a fast enough rate.

Simply put: I know too much. I’ve read too much. I’ve learned too much.

And in that learning, everything has had a hard time formulating into thoughts.

Pumping out content for this blog should be so easy. Fitness has been my life for years. I’ve learned so so so much about it. I’ve put my body through trial and error and although I still have a long way to go, there’s still something to be said for all that knowledge.

Yet, for quite some time I’ve struggled with taking all of that knowledge, compressing it into something to share, and getting it out there. I now understand that it’s because I am keeping too much coming in.

This is also where I believe negative people who know “everything” online come from. They’re so constipated with mental information, but they create nothing, so they hate everyone who can break past it and create something.

My only focus right now is moving to California. That’s it. There’s nothing else that is as important as that. I’ve got to get out of Denver.

What has come with that is laser focus. The ability to see what is helping me achieve that goal and what’s getting me away from that goal.

Learning more is not the answer. Keeping more books is not the answer. Sharing what I know will absolutely get me closer to my goal.

If you’re feeling stuck too, start by giving more away. Sometimes this means sharing knowledge, sometimes this means literally giving your things away, or just start by consuming less.

This election cycle here in America has everyone in a complete emotional and mental messy state, and I can tell it’s making people across the country exhausted and burned out. Taking a break from the 24/7 fear-mongering will do wonders for your brain. (Still vote, though.)

You Were Designed to Move

Plain and simple: you were designed to move.

Our sedentary lifestyle is the exact opposite of how our ancestors lived for centuries.

It’s no wonder we’re all sick and sad all the time, because we spend most of our time going against how we were engineered.

There have been a few studies on how depressed animals in cages eventually become, especially if they were taken from their wild habitats, and all I can think about is how we can relate to that.

Cubicles aren’t natural.
The food we eat is rarely natural.
Sitting all day and being on our phones isn’t natural.

This is also why it’s not easy to be a professional writer. The constant sitting all day every day is just tough on the body. Every time I move more and get outside, it’s amazing how much better I feel almost instantly.

This isn’t a long post, it’s just something that I think the world needs to discuss. The eight-hour workday wasn’t designed by any science around optimum productivity or happiness. It was designed by companies who want to maximize profits but not work you too hard so you’re beyond burned out.

You were designed to move. Plain and simple.

So get up, and get moving.

Why Entrepreneurs Should Have A Personal Trainer

Everyone knows that working out is good for your mind., but not enough people have talked about why exercise is so essential to entrepreneurs and freelancers.

Anyone who is a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk (myself included) knows he made the plunge and hired a personal trainer (Mike Vacanti and then Jordan Syatt). He’s mentioned quite a few times on his #AskGaryVee show on YouTube that taking charge of his health was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

It’s not secret that starting your own venture is exhausting.

Even after working as a personal trainer for three years, when I finally finished school and jumped all-in on being a freelance copywriter, I worked so long and hard and completely forgot everything I learned about health.

I totally get it.

It’s easy to put in 17 hour days and barely sleep in order to “finish that one last project”, although spoilers: the to-do list never really ends when you’re doing your own thing.

Any time spent away from building your business seems to be completely selfish and you convince yourself that if you take any time off it will all crumble to the ground. 24/7 hustle seems to be the only way to make it happen.

However, I’m here to tell you that the times I stopped, took care of myself, and then went back into my business full force yielded better results than the times I skipped any self care.

Watching Gary Vaynerchuk’s journey to getting healthier reminded me how many entrepreneurs and freelancers need to hear that message.

Working out and taking care of yourself will add to your business instead of subtracting from it.

Being able to approach a business, client, or customer problem with a fresh, focused mind is a million times better than trying to force out a solution of an exhausted mind.

It starts slow at first.

You start skipping workouts. You don’t walk much any longer except to client meetings and your car.

You start to order delivery or get fast food instead of cooking anything.

You drink more coffee and energy drinks than ever before.

You never leave the slouched-over position of sitting and hammering away at your laptop.

Your eye starts to develop a twitch from so much computer screen time.

Eventually, it’s a year or years later and you get a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and wonder what the hell happened because that zombie-looking face staring back at you can’t be your face.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and preach about work-life balance because I still don’t quite know how to do that, but I’ve learned that caring about your health matters.

The more you exercise and eat right, the more energy you’ll have throughout the day to get things done.

Here are some things you can do to get your health back through the stressful period of starting your venture:

1. Know your business will survive for the 30 to 60 minutes you’re gone.

Yes, you can make the time to exercise and stretch. I know it’s hard to believe, but trust me. Even if you only work on your side-hustle in the early morning or the late nights, you can find the time to take care of yourself.

It wasn’t until I was years into my business that someone I admired in my industry told me, “If your business can’t survive without you being gone for a few hours, you’re building a business wrong.”

It was a great punch to the gut on what I was currently doing.

2. Drink enough water (start small).

This is at least the first step you should work on. Even if you haven’t started exercising or cleaning up your diet.

There have been a few studies done at the University of Connecticut on all the different ways dehydration can change strength, cortisol, and testosterone.

I’m a big fan of starting to implement baby steps over a long period instead of just changing your life in an instant. I mean, do what works for you, but starting a small habit like drinking enough water makes adding other healthier habits easier down the line.

3. Keep workouts short and focused.

There’s no need to work out for 2+ hours. 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week is enough. For me, that seems to be enough to shake off the anxiety that building a new venture brings.

Stay focused, stay moving in the gym, and focus on workouts that work multiple parts of your body at once. That will be the fastest way to get a great workout done in a shorter amount of time. Of course, it depends on your goals, but it’s a good place to start.

4. Look into personal trainers.

You don’t need to hire one at a gym, there are also a ton of coaches who do online coaching. Sometimes online coaching is the best option so you don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time, you can adjust depending on what you need to accomplish that day.

Online coaching is a better option than just relying on yourself to be accountable, because you need to report to someone with your effort.

Here are two great posts on what to look for in an online coach: here and here.

There are a lot of skeez-buckets out there who have abs and think they’re experts. There are also PhD’s who have real ego/attitude problems because they think they’re so above everyone who are as equally a nightmare to train with.

Any decent trainer should be able to answer any questions you have, have some kind of training and clients with results, and not be an ego-maniac.

Those are the best steps to start with, and I’m writing this mainly from my perspective of how many times I’ve burned my mind and body into the ground by being a workaholic.

It’s not worth it. It hurts not only you but your business results as well.

Should You Count Macros? A Beginner’s Guide to IIFYM

If you’ve been around the fitness side of the internet for any length of time, you’ve heard of macro counting, also called IIFYM (if it fits your macros).

Once you know how it works, it’s not too hard to follow. The biggest thing is finding the right numbers for your body and your goals, which we’ll cover.

What are macros?

Macros are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Protein

These are the three major macronutrients (“macros”) your body needs.

Every food label has these counted on the package, and the general premise of IIFYM is that you have a daily allowance of carbs, fats, and proteins that you must hit every single day.

1 gram of carbs = 4 calories.
1 gram of fat = 9 calories.
1 gram of protein = 4 calories.

When you have the right number of macros for your body, it equals the right number of calories for your current goal (weight loss, maintenance, muscle gain).

Let’s just cut right to the chase:

Does macro counting work?

Yes and no. (Helpful answer, I know.) I’ll explain.

We’ll talk about the problems first:

  1. Labels aren’t always correct.
    Calorie counts on food can be off by 20%. 20%! The FDA also doesn’t check the accuracy of food labels before they are sold to you. You could be consuming two hundred extra calories (or more) that you didn’t even know you were eating. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that on average, packaged food contained 8% more calories than their label claimed, and restaurant meals were closer to 18% more (You can read more: here). So, this means you could count your macros perfectly every day and still be baffled on why you aren’t getting the results you want.
  2. The apps that track macros can be wrong.
    I’ve tried MyFitnessPal a lot and it doesn’t want to play nice. If you make your own food and don’t eat packaged foods for every meal, expect it to be slightly off compared to if you figured it out yourself.
    Plus, if you have any food allergies (I do), the data on these apps for substitutions will drive you nuts.
  3. People quit too early.
    If you want to try macro counting, you need to stick with it for at least two weeks if not longer. Too many people try it for a week, don’t lose weight, and quit. Plus, sometimes you picked macro numbers that aren’t right.
  4. Macro counting does not consider other health factors.
    This is the biggest personal problem I have with IIFYM. People eat fast food because “It’s in my macros, bro!”, but here’s an article from a professor at Harvard University about why processed food makes us fatter. Yes, of course it’s mostly calories in vs. calories out, but I’m not going to pretend like all processed foods are just wonderful.
    There may not be enough studies for the internet science nerds who barely even lift, but I’ll continue eating organic forever even if other people find it a waste of money.
    If you have thyroid issues, metabolism problems, needing to avoid salt, prefer to eat less sugar, or just don’t want to eat a bunch of processed shit food, you can still count macros but just know you have to figure those other things out yourself.
    Also, if you’re a 24/7 ball of stress (like I can be with a huge deadline for work), that absolutely throws everything to shit. Stress/anxiety/depression/sleep deprivation all completely throw off important factors in your body that can negatively impact your results.
  5. Macro counting does not account for micronutrients.
    I always have used the analogy that macros are like a car: it’s the whole shell, the seats, the great color, basically the whole external part. Then, micronutrients are like the gas and the oil in that car. You can drive on almost empty for both of those, but the damage will catch up with you.
    Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to thrive.
    These are not counted in a macro-counting diet. That’s why I think so many of these “fitness professionals” suffer endlessly from fatigue, soreness, bad moods, inflammation, and a long list of other issues, because their cars are running on empty.

Now that you know some of the major problems, here are some reasons you might want to try macro counting:

Balanced dieting

When we just count calories (the common weight-loss approach), there’s no determination on where we specifically get those calories. Getting all your calories from carbs in a day is much, much different than getting a balance from protein, fats, and carbs.

So, macro counting helps you get those calories from the three most essential areas.

I know, I know, everyone always says it’s simply calories in vs calories out, but if you want a much longer post on why that’s not always accurate, here you go.

Essentially, your lifestyle has more to do with your calories than you think. This is why Michael Phelps eats thousands and thousands of calories a day but he’s not morbidly obese whereas the rest of us eat a few extra hundred calories here and there and see it in our bodies.

However, most of us sit for the entire day (whether we want to admit it or not), so we’ll assume that our macros fit within the average recommendation.

How many macros do you need?

This is a complicated answer. Through years of testing, the best thing I have found is to simply experiment with your own diet.

I know, that’s a super frustrating answer, but every time I’ve tried someone’s “set” macros, they don’t work well and I wouldn’t want to just tell you some numbers and you take them as the only possible numbers.

Macros can change depending on your activity level, metabolic type, body fat percentage, goals, and personal preference.

Mentioning metabolic type, there’s a book called the Metabolic Typing Diet that’s absolutely fascinating around the idea that our diet today is heavily influenced by where our ancestors came from. In today’s modern world, we can eat food from a grocery store that comes from anywhere on the planet whereas our ancestors could only eat locally. Depending on where they lived, his claim is that we have a certain preference toward certain diets.

That’s just a side note, and not something you need to know to count macros, but if you’re determined to learn, it’s worth a read.

But generally this is a decent macro break down, or at least somewhere to start:

1 gram of protein per pound (although I gained size eating less than that).
0.5 gram of fat per pound.
0.5 – 2 grams of carbs per pound.

Of course, there’s so many people out there who get shredded and look great on a completely different set of numbers.

Some people go completely zero carb, some have high carb, some have low or high fat, etc.

If something isn’t working for a week or two, change the numbers, especially in the fat or carb section (going low protein isn’t really helpful), but be sure to do one at a time. Don’t just drop both fats and carbs from your diet.

The BIGGEST Tip

It’s not sexy or fun like a cool app, but I highly, highly highly recommend keeping a food journal.

Just go to the store and get one of those cheap, big notebooks like you used in school.

It’s annoying at first, but after a few days you’ll be able to see your health from a larger picture.

Instead of just writing what you ate and your macros each day, also track things such as:

  • How you feel
  • How much sleep you had
  • How each meal makes you feel (your mood, your digestion, etc)
  • Your focus
  • Your productivity and energy
  • How stressed you feel throughout the day

Of course, you don’t have to track all of those categories, but I do and it’s been the biggest lightbulb.

For example, I thought I functioned better with higher carbs, but I realized through my tracking that I was always much happier and way more productive with a protein and veggie lunch. I’m also not such a raging bitch when I actually make the time to have a huge breakfast, not just a light meal or skipping it all together. It seems obvious when I write it out, but when you’re so focused on other things it’s not always that obvious.

I learned my natural flow of energy and what my body preferred to eat at certain times of the day, what foods were not working, what foods were working, how much sleep I needed each day, and I’m sure there’s still so much to learn as I keep this up.

I just quit my macro counting apps and switched to paper a few months ago, but it’s been the best tool yet.

If you have any macro counting tips or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Also, SUBSCRIBE, because I share tips and give free downloads for making your fitness journey easier.

Can You Balance Fitness and A Fun Life?

Americans are obsessed with a “balanced” life.

Recently I was browsing through the new books section at my local bookstore and almost every single self-help title was along the lines of:

  • “Work-life balance for the busy professional”
  • “How to balance it all as a mom”
  • “Work hard and have fun”
  • “How to balance it all”

While work-life balance is a great goal, the problem is that most people feel incredibly guilty all the time for not balancing everything.

They feel bad they don’t have enough time to meditate in the morning, that they skip breakfast, that they missed a night out with their friends due to a project needing to be finished, or any other guilt that sits in the back of their minds.

Everyone is stressed out. Look at any single day time television show: it’s about balance and how stressed we all are.

Sure, it’s important to make time for what matters, but understand that we’re all simply doing the best we can at any given moment.

My 27th birthday was this past Friday and instead of feeling bad about not having some “exciting” night out, I decided to finally say: Fuck it.

For years I went out with friends, whether I was in the mood for it or not, because of some idealistic reality-TV-driven standard of go big or go home. Instead, I just read some books, watched some movies, and got in some quality family time. I ate an entire pizza and tub of ice cream because fuck. it.

I don’t have time to meditate right now (that can also be read as: It’s not a priority right now), and I’m going to stop feeling bad about that. I skip breakfast often and I’m not going to feel bad about that either.

I don’t have it all balanced, and I’m going to keep trying to instill better habits but the guilt has to go. I’m done with it.

I’ve decided to stop feeling bad about not being able to balance it all.

Life is a spectrum. Sometimes you’re 100% all-in and dedicated to a goal. Sometimes everything is thrown off balance. Sometimes you just need to put in 14+ hour days on a project to hit your deadline and you miss your workouts.

Fuck. It.

You’ll catch up later.

You’ll put in extra cardio next week.

To be honest, I don’t know anyone who has it all balanced.

Even celebrities with hired help still operate in different levels of the spectrum.

If you’re feeling guilt over not having everything perfectly balanced, please take a deep breath. Right now.

Keep trying to balance everything, but if you miss something, STOP FEELING BAD.

Sometimes I’ve forced myself into the idea of “balance” and hung out with friends but the whole time I’m thinking about the work I need to stay up all night to finish.

I’m in a period of my life where I need to work harder than I ever have before and I am simply not going to feel bad about it.

When I worked at my old gym, not balancing everything was the top guilt-inducing feeling.

When a client was clearly plagued with guilt about missing a workout, bingeing over the weekend, or thoughts about not spending enough time with their family: their workout suffered every single time.

They were slower, less enthusiastic, and wanted to be done way earlier than they should have.

People walk around with these feelings all the time.

Sometimes you don’t even realize how pervasive guilt is until you stop and realize how often you beat yourself up over it.

Take a deep breath, know you’re trying your best, decide on your top three priorities, and don’t feel guilty about anything outside of those priorities.

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