Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Secret to Getting the Body You Want – Be Less Strict!

Say what ?!? I talk to people every…single…day about this kind of stuff, not only because I am personal trainer but because I am a friend, a sister, a co-worker, an acquaintance, a customer (if I am ever out with my “trainer” shirt on, you better believe I get fitness questions all the time).  My point being that I have the discussion on a regular basis about what is the best way for people to achieve their physique goals.

Everyone is different and you have to find out what works for you. 

This is my number one piece of advice when people ask me about health and fitness.  Have you ever had a friend get killer results for their Paleo diet, Zone diet, Shakeology drinks, marathon training, Jillian Micheals dvd? You get the idea. Then you try to put one of these things into place and it just does not work for you.  There are many factors that you must take into account that range from your metabolism to your lifestyle.  Say you decide to try the Paleo diet but you really dislike meat. So now you are scarfing bacon and beef everyday, miserable every meal. How long do you think that is going to last.  Or you hate running, but that friend got a killer body running. And then you try to implement a running schedule but you do not stick to it because you absolutely hate it. I understand why completely. My advice to you is to find what works for you, and adapt it to your likes, you body, and your lifestyle.

Be Less Strict

My second piece of advice is usually a harder concept to grasp, and is something I am currently working on myself.  I want to preface these paragraphs by addressing those who have  specific physique goals. If you are going for a six pack ab physique, then yes you DO have to be more strict and take in to account how your diet and workouts will affect your body.  It is also important to realize that usually when training or dieting for that look, you will not be able to keep that look without being super strict. Then it becomes more about deciding if you want to eat and train that way for the rest of your life to achieve and keep that look. If you do and find a way that works for you, then by all means have at it. But generally speaking most people struggle when trying to be super strict.

Ok,  so here we go. What typically happens when you decide to “be more strict” on your diet?  When you decide on a plan or diet, you usually do great for the first few days, weeks, maybe months if you can hang in that long. You are pumped, excited and motivated to begin. Then as the reality sets in and your schedule gets hectic you slowly begin to fall off the plan.  Maybe it is a binge meal or a binge day and you just say say screw it and say you will begin again on Monday. Maybe it is a night out with friends and you planned to eat a salad and drink water and then the night turned into pizza and wine. You get angry at yourself for not having enough discipline, enough willpower or enough motivation to be able to stick to that plan. You repeat the same thing the following week, starting off strict and then falling off, all the time bashing yourself for not being able to be disciplined with your diet. Eventually this cycle gets old and most people resort back to whatever their normal eating habits are. So is being “more strict” really helping you? The key is not to be more strict. It is to be less strict.

From my personal experience I have learned that whether I am more strict or less strict it really does not change my body a whole lot. So I can choose:

A – More strict and worry/stress more


B-Less Strict and worry/stress less

I am working towards option B. I went through a phase where I prepped all my food in advance for the week and portioned it out properly. It was great and I was motivated for a good solid month but then what happens when I didn’t have my food prepped?  Could I eat a regular meal or would it throw off my diet. Would I lose what I had worked so hard for? No, not in one meal I have learned. You do not build or break you physique in one bad meal or one bad day. Remember the opposite too though, you will not make it in one good meal or one good day either.

Now a word of warning. You should not take this advice and think that you can not care at all about what to eat. Don’t think, “I read in Adele’s blog I can be less strict and have all the food and drink I want and have the body I want.” You must find a balance with what works for you. Set yourself up for success by acknowledge that there will be times and events in life where you will want to have some drinks, have some birthday cake and have some burgers. And that is ok. I encourage you to have those in moderation and be ok with it and get back on track the next day to your workouts and regular way of eating.

When getting my Precision Nutrition certification, one fabulous piece of advice I learned was the 90% compliant rule. That being if you are compliant to your eating 90% of the time, you can indulge the other 10%. So for example, if you eat 5 meals a day that is 35 meals a week. So you can indulge in about 3 meals and still keep on track to your goals. By indulge I mean glass of wine not bottle, and 2 pieces of pizza, not whole. 🙂 This is just a general guideline to follow. Maybe you try this and find that 3 indulgences a week is just too much but maybe you do great off 1 or 2. But you can see what I mean here, that you do not have to be 100% super strict for a lifetime to reach your goals. The best diet for you is one where you can look, feel and perform your best for life.

Remember consistency is more important than perfection. Every choice you make with your food is taking you closer to or farther away from your goals, or is keeping you right where you are.  And it is ok to be right where you are for the time being, if you know the plan is going to work long term.  Try to steer away from an all or nothing approach and find a way of eating and exercising that works for you. Every workout and/or meal is another chance to get back on track.

Is the Advice Eat Less, Exercise More For You?

I have been following this advice my entire adult life. That is the advice we are given isn’t it? Essentially it sounds about right. Create a caloric deficit and get the results you want: lose fat, gain muscle, maintain weight etc. Recently I stumbled across an article by Metabolic Effect that broke down the eat less, exercise more mantra and how it may not work for everyone. I think I am one of those people. I began to think about the times in my life where I tried to eat less and exercise more. It usually started off great. I was motivated, I saw results. But, was I able to maintain that in an effortless way of living? The answer has always been no.

In your order to lose weight/fat, whether you count calories or not, you need a caloric deficit. That is without question a true statement. However, what Metabolic Effect pointed out that I hadn’t thought about before, was that you also need hormonal balance. How do you find out if your hormones are balanced without extensive testing? A general way to find out is if you hunger, craving and energy are in check. If you are getting the results you want you are probably doing a good job with your workouts and way of eating. Keep it up! If not, you do not have to be a slave to eat less, exercise more. Find out if a different approach might be best for you (it’s always about what works for you).

Are your cravings out of control?

I for one, am always craving one more bite, something salty, something sweet and never feel satisfied or full. Or even if I do, I still want something else. This has become mindless and has become a habit. I never really associated it with anything other than my stressful eating habits until recently when I really started to look into the association with exercise and the increase that it has on hunger and cravings. And it should! I am using more of my bodies fuel, my energy, and in turn, it literally needs more.

What has been more difficult for me is that my entire life, I have always tried to eat less and exercise more, while being an avid exerciser. Through my childhood and college it was just sports, sports, sports that kept me exercising without even giving it a second though. And I ate food without giving it a second thought. Fuel up, workout, repeat. Post athlete years, I just kept going, working out on a regular basis but something changed. I started to become more focused about calories and began to restrict my intake. Or attempted to anyways. I have spent my years putting way to much effort into trying to balance my food intake with my workouts.

Are you relying strictly on your workouts?

I always would think, “There is no way I can exercise less. I have too big of an appetite and I will not be able to maintain my weight without it.” But to be honest, I have never really given it a chance. As I am learning more about my body I am realizing that I do not want to spend my life freaking out if I cannot get a workout in and relying on my workouts to keep my body the way it is. Life happens, we go on vacation, we go through periods where we do not feel as motivated, things come up that interfere with our workouts. I want to be able to have my hunger, energy and cravings under control and be ok if I miss workouts.  Don’t get me wrong, I am an active person and one of those people who actually enjoys working out, but not when it is draining my energy, time and well-being.

Eat less, exercise less. Say What?

Metabolic Effect pointed out two different approaches to working out that while I have probably always known, I have never really thought deeply enough to try it. Eat more, exercise more (typically for muscle gain and/or for people who love to workout hard and often) or eat less, exercise less (typically for fat loss, for those with hormonal imbalance, or who don’t like to or don’t have the time to workout). It is a like a lightbulb went off in my head. If you are working out harder and more often, you need to eat MORE not less. Now when I say more, remember the calorie deficit. Typically you can’t eat to your hearts content and expect the exercise will just take care of everything. The point is that you need to eat enough to manage your hunger, cravings, and energy. Are you tired of those words yet? 😉

Now what about the opposite? Eat Less, exercise less. It seems like such a taboo concept in our modern society. But in my head it makes perfect sense. I lower my caloric intake slightly and quit trying to kill myself in the gym 5 days a week. I focus on movement like leisure walking and restorative yoga to help balance my hormones and throw in two weight workouts a week. This idea just thrills me! I love to lift, so I am looking forward to my two days and my body has more time to relax and recover.  There will definitely be periods in my life where I will eat more and exercise more, but right now I need to get my energy in check.

A word about lowering caloric intake.

I am still eating, I am just trying to eat a little less and less often. I am use to eating 6-7 meals and snacks a day and what I have done is trained my body to be hungry 6-7 times a day. It is not right or wrong but it has me constantly hungry and craving food. I am trying to take my meals down to 3-4 times a day and eat bigger meals so I feel fuller longer and not obsessing over when it is time to eat. Eating multiple times a day and counting calories and macronutrients is a modern day way of thinking. Our ancestors were not sitting around figuring out if their meal had a balance of carbs, proteins and fat. I am not saying that we have not made advances in our knowledge of nutrition and metabolism that could better suit us, but I do think we have become obsessed about rules, and what is the right and wrong way to do things. Do what works for you. And the only way to figure out what works for you is to give it a try. 🙂

30 for 30

As I approach the big 3-1 birthday next month, I decided to put together a list of thoughts that I have found to be helpful in my life.  I am not claiming to have mastered any or all of them, as they are all a work in progress, but they are great reminders that I turn to when I need to give myself advice and remind myself that I am right where I need to be.

1. You are not the same person at age 20 as you are at age 30. Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do (sometimes less, but that is okay too).

2. Practice mindfulness and gratitude. Be happy with what you have while working towards what you want. Be grateful for what you have and who you have in your life.

3. Don’t smile too quickly (some people won’t take you seriously). Smile soon after. 🙂

4. Food is fuel, fuel is energy, energy is life. Repeat this is your brain and think about what food actually is. A source of energy for living and enjoyment, not a source for guilt and overindulgence.

5. Apologize for mistakes not choices. But be aware of how your choices will affect those around you.

6. Put things in perspective. If you threw your problems in a pile with everyone else’s, you would probably grab yours back. Everyone struggles in their own way and while some struggles may seem “harder” than others, it is all relevant. Everyone deals with their own degrees of pain.

7. Go somewhere new, try something new, often. It does not have to be an elaborate out of country trip. Try a new restaurant, visit a new city, make a new friend.

8. Take yoga as often as it suits you. (if that is once in your life, that is ok too). Learn to breathe, to move and flipping relax!

9. Do not be afraid to fail. What is the alternative to not trying? If you do not try you 100% guarantee the outcome. If you try you at least have a 50/50 shot.

10. Release judgements and assumptions. The stories in your head are what is causing you so much heartache, pain, and negativity.

11. Dream. Dream big. And then work. Work hard. No one will hand you your dream and have it manifest itself. Only you can do that.

12. Always do your best. It is possible to be happy where you are and still have ambition.

13. Do not take yourself too seriously. Laugh often. Laugh with friends and family often. Laughing to yourself is okay too. 🙂

14. This too shall pass. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

15. Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you. Do not just think about the possibilities in life. Act on them!

16. How much you workout does not define you. Your sport or gym does not define you.  But you need to workout in some form. Lift, run, walk, build a house.  MOVE. Thrive on movement.

17.  Money does not put you above or below anyone else. Remember that.

18. Do not compare yourself to others. Their journey has been completely different.  Comparison is the thief of joy.

19. Lift weights.  For fun, for strength, for bone density.

20. Stop apologizing for who you are and what you think you are not.  Be able to hold your own opinion with an open mind. You do not have to win every argument.

21. When stressed or upset, take a deep breath and take care of yourself NOW.  Mental stress will manifest itself and affect your body physically, tearing you down one day at a time,  if you are not careful.

22. De- clutter. “Stuff” weighs us down.  Work on owning only what you truly love and truly need.

23. Let go. Do not try to control everything. You will be let down because it is impossible to try to control things that exist outside of ourselves.

24. Spend time outside. Swim in the sun and run in the rain.

25. Get a dog.

26. Living on your own is scary but gives you a great sense of strength and freedom at the same time.

27.  Ask questions. Tons of them. And then ACTUALLY LISTEN to the answers. You will not believe how much you can learn about life.

28. Find a job you love and you will never work another day in your life. It is okay if you do not know what you want to do at 20, 29, 34. If you figured out what you wanted to do at age 40, you could still work in that profession for 20 years.

29. Honor relationships that are important to you every chance you get, day in, day out.

30. Focus within yourself to find the essence of who you are. Know that you are incredibly important and completely worthy. Do we all make mistakes? Yes. But we learn from them, we grow,  we love, we trust, we believe. When the world tries to shake you keep your foundation strong and hold on tightly to all that you are. Right now… you are exactly where you are suppose to be. I am exactly where I need to be.