I promised to tell you all what I’ve been doing to get back to my ideal weight and fitness level, so let’s get right to it. The factors that have made a difference are: more disciplined eating, increased exercise, intermittent fasting and going to bed hungry. Keep reading for details!
Being more strict with my diet
I quit drinking alcohol (completely) almost 5 years ago. While you might assume I would lose weight as a result of not consuming the calories from alcohol, for me it had the opposite effect. I justified eating things I wouldn’t touch before I gave up drinking. I basically ate whatever I wanted, including ice cream, french fries, fast food, fried food and anything else I felt like eating.
So, I stopped eating all of the junk, and have gone back to what has always worked for me in the past: a nutritious, home-cooked, low-carb lifestyle and portion control. When I was in my twenties and thirties, the portion control didn’t seem to matter so much. Now that I have entered my forties, it is extremely important to STOP EATING BEFORE I feel full. If you have been overeating for a while, it may be hard to know when you have had enough. If this is the case, you should try measuring or weighing your food. Pay attention to calories, labels, and serving size. Click here for a quick article I wrote on limiting your carbohydrate intake.
I have exercised regularly, since I was fifteen years old. From the age of 25-35 I was a bona fide exercise fanatic (it was nothing for me to workout two hours a day). During this period of time I was competing in distance races and triathlon, so it demanded a big time commitment. But for the past several years, I have been inconsistent. At times, I would go a month without exercising, then get back to it for three or four months, and so on. I also lost the motivation to push myself. So, my workouts were easy, and I rarely did high-intensity workouts. I would ramp up periodically, but I wouldn’t sustain it.
Making the Change
This past year however, I decided to commit to working out almost everyday, and have gradually increased the duration and intensity. I try to workout at least everyday for a minimum of 35 minutes. I also do strength training at least four days a week, and on most days I do two workouts (one 35 minute cardio session and one 25 minute session), and I strive to do 90 minutes of exercise at least two days a week.
When I strength train (click here for one of my 20 minute strength training routines), I do not rest in between sets. I believe in doing circuit training, with active rest. My preferred active “rest” is jump roping! I swear by jumping rope, and get amazing results from doing it. On the days I don’t strength train, I will do two sessions of cardio. Once I started dropping some pounds and feeling better (the workouts got easier, which allowed me to push harder and go longer). Click here for an article I wrote on jumping rope (just keep clicking the links and you will get to it).
Intermittent fasting (IF) is daily fasting which involves eating for only a certain window of time. The hours in which you eat last anywhere between four and eight hours. No snacking in between meals, and you only consume water or unsweetened tea during the fasting periods. This does not mean you can eat whatever you want within your window, you still need to make healthy choices (click here for my advice on what you should be eating).
Understanding Intermittent Fasting: PLEASE Read About it!
I am not a Dr., so please DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH before you embark on this. It has worked WONDERS for me when I really adhere to it (without cheating), the results are amazing. But, I realize that the idea of fasting makes many people very uncomfortable. The benefits of intermittent fasting include: weight loss, lower cholesterol, improved glucose control, and lowered blood pressure. These are just a FEW of the benefits. There are so many more. Click here for an article I wrote about faith-based fasting.
There is tons of research available on this topic, so I highly recommend googling it, but here are links to a few articles that made me want to try it: Fast 5 Intermittent Fasting, The Minimum Number of Hours you can Practice IF (there are lots of good links in this article), The Beginner’s Guide to IF. You have to find the right fit for you, but if you are able to adhere to it, you will learn to love it. I haven’t eaten before 10 am in years (even before I was committed to IF, skipping breakfast has always helped me maintain a healthy weight).
Now that I am devoted to the IF lifestyle, I vary the hours that I eat. Some days I eat during a five hour window, and other times I stop eating after eight hours. I have just touched on the BASICS here, so again, I encourage you to do your homework on this topic!
Go to Bed Hungry
This has ALWAYS been a challenge for me. Even when practicing IF, I have been very resistant to going to bed hungry. I would rather start eating at 2 or 3pm and finish closer to bedtime to avoid going to bed hungry. So, if you are anything like me, I completely understand why this can be difficult and even scary! But honey, let me tell you…. if you can do it, you will get immediate results! Go to bed hungry, and you are basically guaranteed to lose weight (as long as you don’t binge the next day). This is one of the changes I have made over the last couple of months, and I’m actually getting used to it!
I recommend not consuming ANY food after 8 pm. If you have followed all of my other suggestions above, you will most likely be hungry at bedtime. Fight through it and GO TO SLEEP. You might wake up ravenous, but it will pass. Just muster up your will power and think of how amazing you will look and feel when you reach your goals.
Not Everyone will Agree
This bit of advice, along with skipping breakfast, is VERY CONTROVERSIAL. Please don’t send me messages telling me it is unhealthy. You will surely find many articles online telling you that you should never skip breakfast and that you shouldn’t go to bed hungry, blah blah blah. I personally believe those articles are nonsense, and that we live in a culture and society that OVEREATS and profits off making us believe we have to constantly be eating and supersizing our meals. Our bodies were not designed to eat as much as we do.
I’m not suggesting that any of these tips are EASY, but I am sharing what has worked for me. I was a certified personal trainer for nine years, and a competitive distance and multisport athlete for a decade. I also have a certificate in nutrition. When it comes to fitness and diet, I have pretty much tried it all.
I truly believe in all of the suggestions I’ve listed here; do your due diligence and make your own judgements. What I know for sure, is if you stick to any of these tips, and make them a HABIT and a lifestyle (rather than a temporary quick fix) you will see results, and it will become EASIER. It takes approximately one month to create a habit!
Drop me a comment and let me know what you think and if you decide to try it! If you achieve success, I would love to see your before and after photos!