Celebrating Goals

measuring-tape-tToday I finally hit a goal that I have been working towards all year. I wanted to get down into a weight target and this morning, I officially hit that goal.

Problem is: I know how I hit that goal. I’ve been ill for the past week and fighting the flu on top of digestion problems which has resulted in liquid and appetite loss. So when my body recovers and I get back the regularity of my routine, the goal is not to get discouraged when I slip above that goal line again.

The focus needs to be HEALTHY – whether that is within or above my pre-set goals. As a general rule, health is so much more important than meeting some arbitrary goal – especially when we put goals on ourselves that are set within our own hopes and dreams. Our bodies do not know the numerical lbs system – so when you get frustrated that you’re not within these goals — it’s not your body’s fault. Don’t let it discourage you.

It is indeed reason to celebrate — but don’t let them be your driving force. Finding a long-term motivation is so much more important to carry us over our pitfalls and through our triumphs. That way we stay focused and waver less.

Keep looking down the road — it’ll be worth it — I promise.

Food for Thought – Serious Weight Loss Problems

Here’s a quick post for today:

I’ve listed an article below that involves a friend of mine that was on The Biggest Loser tv show, during Season 8.  He was a part of a study that showed why these types of shows don’t actually help people become healthy.

Here’s the article: The Biggest Loser — NYTimes

two-celebrities-join-new-season-of-the-biggest-loserIf you’re too lazy to read it, to summarize, it says that although people workout and eat right (and extremely), their bodies tend to not know what to do with the change in routine and end up requiring fewer calories to maintain their body weight. Then, once the diet and exercise craziness is over, the body doesn’t change back resulting in faster weight re-gaining and usually, worse conditions than before.

Basically, the body is thinking that a hard burn is coming up – so when we return to eating 2000 calories after an extreme diet of 1200 or less – the body trains itself to never get rid of anything and create fat storage for when that calorie burn comes — but in most cases – it doesn’t.

Many of us have experienced this problem. Perhaps not at this level of extream, but in small variations. Have you lost weight only to regain it back? Don’t misread this article either — it’s not about binge eating and just going crazy with over-calorie meals. It’s about bodies who are actually staying active and making good choices — but they just can’t keep up.

All this points back to my theme on my fitness posts: LONG TERM visions are critical. Extream diets and workouts do not work and are not a long-term fitness solution. Instead, we’re talking about small changes over long periods of time. Not extreme, quick fixes. They just don’t work. People who want to start working out in the Spring to get their bathing suit body back for summer are missing the point and ultimately, setting themselves up for disappointment. Not only that but they are training their metabolism to behave in ways that can hurt them in the long run.

Simply: Focus on setting long-term goals. It’s not the short game that changes your life forever, but the decisions to live today, unlike yesterday. Look far down the road into the future as to what life will be like when you commit to working out, eating smart and taking small fitness steps the whole way. Those sorts of changes are much more manageable and adaptable into your daily life routine.

Keep your stick on the ice, it’ll be worth it — I promise.

Picking Yourself Up — Again

Like everyone, I have had my share of stumbling when it comes to my calorie intake and working out routine. Sometimes we get sick, sometimes someone brings donuts into the office and other times, our self-determination is just lacking.

First off – know that it happens to everyone. Everyone has this struggle. Some people it happens too often, and some — rarely — but we all have days (or weeks) where we feel ourselves slipping. Whether it’s feeling motivated, determined or maybe there is a real barrier on the road (physical or mental) – getting out there and making the right choices (which can mean not allowing ourselves to use our time for other things — and sometimes worthwhile things) can be very tough. We all have to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other.

This is a part of the journey you get to explore — and like all exploration, you’re going to make some initial mistakes. Understand that it’s perfectly fine to fall flat on this one — but it’s extremely important not to lose heart. Remember that there is a long-term goal in mind when it comes to healthy living. The goal is never to improve things for the immediate change. This will only discourage you. Instead, focus on how today’s failure is going to make you better tomorrow so that you can achieve the long-term success.

For example, this morning, I wasted time. Flat out — wasted. I dragged my heels and didn’t get out to the shop until after 8:00 am. Normally I try to be on the workout equipment by 7:30 am at the LATEST. So that meant a shorter workout allotment and in turn, fewer calories gained than I normally burn. Once I got on the bike, I felt like the workout was going SUPER slow and eventually, I felt discouraged.

After getting off the bike (only 25 minutes), I asked myself – what about tomorrow is going to be different? How am I going to avoid running into this problem and starting my day off slow and discouraged? The obvious answer is get up earlier and get out there, but the underlying problem really is my attitude about my early morning workouts. Why am I not motivated to get out there as soon as I am able? Do I need a kick in the pants before going out there? Do I need to spend 5 minutes looking at photos of when I was lighter/healthier as motivation to get going?

d40d6e783cc7612cd0f47ec92567c75aWhatever your method, try SOMETHING(s). Don’t get into a rut where you find yourself getting more and more discouraged. Change it up, look at before and after photos of other people — envision what you might look like or feel like when you have been working out for a year and eating right. Find whatever you need to realign your goals and get after it.

I love this quote. I think it speaks truth to what we all hope to achieve tomorrow. Remember that this is a long-term journey. A single tree can not stop the wind, but a forest can make the wind change course. Today is that single day – but when you start stacking those days on top of each other – they add up in big ways.

Good luck out there. If it were easy, everyone would do it – but it’ll be SO worth it, I promise.

Fitness & Sickness

shutterstock_232827916Today, I’m under the weather. It sucks. For the past couple of days I have been feeling it starting but today my throat is sore and swollen. Hurts to swallow and is making my stomach feel upset.

What do we do about working out when we get under the weather? Well…. it’s kind of subjective. Truthfully, I take it very easy. Your body requires two things while you recover. First, it needs food. Your body can not make the immune system work if you are not eating food for nutrients and vitamins. This means that we need to focus on a well-balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables. Don’t just reach for the bottle of multi-vitamins and Tylenol. There is more and more research out there that show Multi-Vitamins only break down and become beneficial when taken during food consumption. Some even argue that supplemental vitamins don’t do anything because they are not naturally occurring in the other foods that you eat. You can choose to believe what you want – but I take multi-vitamins — but only with additional food intake — and never take anything on an empty stomach. You will vomit like there is no tomorrow.

Second, your body needs rest. Your immune system can fight the illness best while you are resting or sleeping. If you are pushing yourself at work or at the gym, this doesn’t aid your recovery speed. I tend to move slower and allow my body time to recover and get back to normal. If you recover faster, you’ll be working out again sooner anyway – so get some rest and let your body’s immune system do what it was designed to do.

So today, I took a rest day from cycling to allow my body to recover. I feel awful, but I know that it will help in the long run. I am also going to be careful with my calorie intake, but not worry too much about it. I will likely be over without exercising, but getting back to normal is more important than the few calories I’ll be over.

Life happens. Don’t get discouraged. Always think LONG TERM! In one year from now, it’s won’t matter that you got sick for a week. Don’t let it break you back into bad habits. The long term goals are definitely worth it. I promise.

Feel better soon.

Anger, Motivation and Determination

Here’s something I’ve learned about being driven when it comes to working out and getting healthy. Consider these three truths:

Truth #1: Anger is an amazing motivator. When I first started working out, I used Anger to motivate me – and the pounds came off quickly. I could picture something I was mad about or angry over and it would push me harder and deeper. It was amazing. The problem was — Anger doesn’t last. It’s not a true motivator. Life moves on and we either fix the problems we’re angry about or become conditioned. Once this happens, anger doesn’t work.

Truth #2: Motivation — of the purest kind. Maybe you like to look on Pinterest for motivational phrases – or maybe you know someone who really makes you feel energized to become better. That’s great!….. but it also won’t last. Keeping busy finding new forms of motivation is exhausting and will eventually become a burden on your daily drive. Finding inspiration can be a strong launchpad, but it won’t keep you moving upwards.

Truth #3: Determination. This is the one that can sustain a long-term goal. Anger and motivation can help you get started, but in order for you to maintain, you need to be determined. Determined to not go back to the way you came from. Determined that today, you will take a little off the top and never let it come back. Tomorrow: same story. Finding your means to be determined will help you focus on your long-term goals and keep your head up on the days that just flat out suck. It will move your feet, one ahead of the other, keeping you working towards a goal that your heart and mind might not be totally able to support each day.

determination-2e5f1636b9eebbadf648e692ed278955The first two truths can be used. Don’t misread this post – Anger and Motivation can help and can launch you off the sofa onto your feet – but start looking now for determination. Why are you determined to keep going? Tomorrow doesn’t have to be like yesterday, but what you do today will change that.

This is going to be awesome – I promise.

A Weekend Away – A Weight-loss Struggle

This past weekend I spent some time with some friends up in Northern Michigan. I had recently purchased a new firearm and needed some time to get the sights in and send some lead downrange. The property we went to is perfect for setting up targets and shooting.

2016-04-17_013113000_C54E3_iOSI also spent time testing out my hammock and sleeping bag for a trip I am going to take to Northern Ontario (Canada) in May. I wanted to see if the sleeping bag would keep up with the low 30 degree temps or if the hammock would end up being too cold – since it’s suspended from the ground and the air flows underneath. If it didn’t, there was a nice cabin with a fireplace I could quickly move to – but it ended up being a nice weekend and only really got cold near the end of the night (around 4am). Other than that, it was a great chance to try things out. I think I’m good to go!

The real challenge, though – was food. The boys I travelled with were not too concerned about their calorie intake and that posed a problem for me. I was trying to pay attention as best I could. I took some food and a few snacks to avoid the inevitable hunger, but I knew full-well that temptation was going to knock on the door.

The misconception about calorie-counting is that you need to watch and know what the intake is all the time – but in the same stride – not obsess. The first time I lost weight, I obsessed about the calories and the weight scale – and ultimately, I couldn’t maintain that sort of lifestyle. You end up losing motivation and you crash and burn, hard.

Simply put: don’t obsess – and don’t lose heart if you are over your calorie allotment. On Sat and Sun, I was over on my calorie count. I chose foods that would have been “lower” in calories, but without my daily bike ride and not knowing entirely how the food was prepared – I was over. My step counter was up – but that wasn’t enough to compensate.

What did I do about it? Well, this morning I got back on my bike and I rode my little legs off. The number one thing to remember is: GET BACK ON THE HORSE. Log your calories again, get back in line and start the week strong – don’t let a few days of overages get you discouraged and don’t let those few days turn into several days. Your goal is always long-term. Never play a short-game when trying to live healthier and get fit. You’ll struggle the whole time. Look to the future – look to where you want to be a year from now. The choices you make today (like getting back to your workouts or logging those calories) can change your life forever – but you have to chip away at it today. Every day you are taking a little more off the bottom line and taking one step closer to your goal.

I didn’t get on the weight scale today. I know what she’ll say – but instead, I pushed hard on the bike and logged my breakfast. I feel good – and it’s a new week to achieve my goals. Get back on the horse and push hard. Keep the long-term goal in your sights.

This’ll be SO worth it. I promise.

How I Set Reasonable Weight-Loss Goals

inspirational-quotes-to-lose-weightI am not an expert in weight loss – nor am I a qualified physician. My first encouragement to you is to speak with your family doctor about your weight loss plan and how to achieve your goals. The following is what I have found works for me and my body type.

This morning I stepped on the scale and realized that I am very close to achieving my second weight goal. I tend to set these goals at rounded-10 pound marks to make it easy to recognize when I have made a break through.

When I first started working out, I did just that – worked out – and hard. I’d step on the scale and realize that I may have been gaining muscle, but I wasn’t shedding the body fat. As I researched more, I realized that there was one main reason why. Working out is fantastic for your body. It improves muscle strength while also growing and strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system. Working out by itself, however, will not aid you in toning and slimming down. In order for that to happen the simple equation of Calories In vs. Calories Out would have to be applied – on top of working out.

The problem, however, is that when you begin working out – you tend to want to eat more – because your body is trying to restore your fat reserves and thus begins the struggle – which is where a lot of people have problems.

Here are the pointers I live by while losing weight:

  • You have to have a calorie deficit every day – even a few calories under is the goal. If you’re going out to dinner, look at the menu online and make a choice – don’t be tempted to “cheat.” Plan, Plan, Plan everything.
  • You can eat back the calories you gained from working out
  • If you’re living on a 2000-calorie, shoot for 1700 daily intake (but ask your physician first).
  • Log everything you consume – it is vital that this step is never compromised.
  • Don’t pay too much attention to the weight scale daily – focus more on long-term weekly or bi-weekly weigh-ins.
  • Constantly think long-term. Although you want results today, the reality is that you didn’t put it all on during one month – it’s not going to all come off in one month either.
  • Having a routine is important, but it is more important to have equal workout options (Cycling, hiking, running, treadmill, etc). Changing it up will help you not get bored. I find this especially true about weight lifting – if you do the same thing week after week…. *yawn*. This is especially true about the winter months. Have options.
  • Get a community around you that is working towards the same goals. You might think that your spouse or roommate is a good option, but adding this requirement on top of someone who has chosen to live with you can be a bad combination. Who you are while working out can be very different than who you are while resting. I have a Facebook group who shares similar values and a few communities on MyFitnessPal (calorie counting service).
  • I find that the earlier in the day I plan and log my calories (lunches, dinners, snacks), the easier it is for me to stay in check. Often times I find myself removing foods I never got around to eating (mainly snacks in the evening).
  • It’s easier to work out in the morning. Just my subjective observation. I never know how cruel the day is going to be on me – so starting out with a workout is a better habit for me to get into. It’s also motivation to stay away when someone in the office brings donuts because you’ve worked so hard to achieve today’s goals.
  • Find reasonable “healthy” options that you can stomach. Eating food that you hate all the time is terrible – but there are TONS of options out there are are better alternatives than that donut shop you drive past every day. Make your calories count…as you count them.
  • Join a free Calorie Counting Service that has a mobile app. I use MyFitnessPal, recently acquired by UnderArmor. Great for all tracking and the mobile app allows me to immediately put in calories. I also use Garmin Connect with my VivoActive Wrist Watch and Heart Rate Monitor for gauging calorie burns. It has taken me 5 years to acquire those things – you don’t need them on day one. The estimations on MyFitnessPal after you put in your stats is fairly reliable.
  • Log your calories immediately as you consume them. Better to do it now than to forget. This is a critical action to accomplish the first 4 points listed above.
  • Plan your meals out 2 weeks at a time. This one is really hard for me – but my wife and I force ourselves to do it and we actually save money and eat healthier – and I can figure out my calorie intake early every day (as stated above).
  • Limit or eliminate all pop/soda/coke from your diet. Even diet drinks are full of stuff your body will struggle with. Go on a slow plan to ween yourself off. Going cold turkey doesn’t work.

I’ve been working hard at achieving my next goal. I’ve got less than one pound away from my next small success but every day is a choice to get up, get out there and work out. Be sure to try lots of things, stay focused on the long-term goals (to fight discouragement) and give it all you can. Not everyone is going to notice or say something, but you will love the person you find under there. I promise.

Keep your stick on the ice,

Jon