Healthy Choices While Working From Home

Hey guys!

I’m back! Sorry for the long silence I have been absolutely swamped with school lately. As much as I wanted to get a new blog post out my guilty conscious kept telling me I should be studying instead! These past two weeks have been filled with final exams but, I am happy to say I aced my exams and can now get back to some writing! Yay!

I know it’s been awhile since I answered a fitness question so I’m going to get back to it with the topic of: Healthy choices while working at home.

While I do not 100% work from home (while I would like to), I have been a stay at home mom. When my son was born, I was a stay at home mom for a little over a year until I started my working on my Master’s degree and teaching yoga. I know how hard it can be to make healthy choices when you are cooped up at home, especially in the winter. Let’s discuss some helpful ways to stay fit while staying home.

  1. Clear out the Crap: This is pretty much my go to rule ALWAYS! And I will probably come back to again. Don’t keep junk in your home! Just don’t do it! Here is a perfect example: A few weeks ago my husband had the opportunity to order Girl Scout Cookies at work, being the thoughtful loving man he is, he decided to order one box of gluten free cookies for himself and one box of Thin Mints for me. Well I was very thankful that he thought of me when ordering, I did not realize how deadly a temptation those things are! Not only are they tempting but they are such a light and thin cookie that after having one you wonder if you even had it in the first place! Sadly to say the box of cookies only survived a little over a week. Damn you Girl Scout cookies!

 

So, the lesson here is that even some of the most resilient people can revert back to the self-control of a 4 year old when faced with the right temptations. Clear out the crap, or should I say CRACK from your cupboards it will help you so much in the long run.

 

  1. Meal Prep and Meal Plan: When you work at home or are a stay at home mom chances are you will be visited by boredom, overwork, or complacency at some point during your day. I remember being a stay at home mom, there were days I didn’t even want to get ready. Although, I still got things done there were moments of restlessness that I just wanted to do something different. I had days where I felt like I did the same things day in and day out and this left me feeling unmotivated and quite frankly unpretty. During these times of frustration it can be extremely hard to make the right choices for your health. Or maybe the issue isn’t frustration but boredom. Meal prepping your food and meal planning for your day can help to eliminate poor nutritional choices out of boredom, frustration, or just being too tired to cook.

 

Meal prep your food ahead of time so you always have healthy, home prepared foods ready for when you are hungry. Having 3-4 dinners prepared for the week allows you to just grab and enjoy the foods that may have been a hassle to prepare in the midst of your busy week. PLUS, since you already got rid of the crap in your home you now have only healthy choices! Yay!
Meal planning is also a big part of healthy choices. Planning out the food you will eat during your day, in the morning or the day before, will help you stay on track with your goals. Maybe your goal is to hit a certain calorie intake, a certain serving of fruits and veggies or just simply eating only home cooked unprocessed meals, planning will ensure success!

 

  1. Move Your Muscles: When you work from home chances are you spend a lot of time at a desk or computer. When we spend a good amount of our day sitting this causes poor circulation causing us to feel tired, achy, stiff, sluggish and quite honestly it doesn’t help us accomplish our fitness goals. Set aside time during your day to get your booty moving. However you do this is up to you here are a few ideas:
  • Taking a morning and afternoon walk
  • Every 3 hours of work take a 15 minute HIIT break
  • Schedule your morning gym time and add an afternoon walk
  • Do some lunchtime yoga
  • Every hour do 25-50 of one exercise (crunches, push-ups, squats, lunges, burpees, mountain climbers, etc.)

Incorporating movement into your day will not only move some blood and help you feel better but will help you work more efficiently as well. If you have a friend that also works from home maybe challenge each other to stay active daily by setting step/distance goals, squat goals etc.

Secure Your Success: Make goals and stick to them. Make these changes your new habits and keep them for long term success. Each week avoid the junk that hinders your healthy eating success, meal prep and meal plan looking forward to keeping your promises to better yourself, and move to stay motivated and healthy.

There are many perks to working from home but ensuring we do not become complacent is very important. I hope this was helpful. What habits have helped you stay fit working from home or taking care of your family from home? Please share, I would love to hear from you!

Hope you have a wonderful week! I promise I you will be hearing from me again soon!

Lots of love,

Andrea B Fit

 

Healing Your Slow Metabolism

Good morning all!

I hope your week is going absolutely amazing! For many of us we are starting to feel the warmth of spring moving in! For some of us not so much, if you’re in the North East I’m sending you lots of love and warmth as you push through the snow storm! ❤

So this week I want to talk a little about healing your metabolism. Last week I wrote about fitness struggles and I will continue sharing what others have shared with me this week. So stay tuned! Also, this is a great opportunity for you to ask any questions you would like answered if you have any! Today however, I really want to focus on a topic I think MANY women struggle with, healing your slow metabolism.

In my experience, I have seen a lot of women struggling with eating a very low amount of calories (1500 or lower per day) and STILL struggling to lose weight. Why is this?! If you are essentially not eating much food at all why is it so difficult to lose weight?

In this post I will first discuss how eating a calorie restricted diet not only leads to binges but damage to your metabolism. Next, I will discuss a method I personally use when coming out of a competition prep diet to boost your metabolism, limit weight gain, and eventually begin working on losing weight.

First things first:

Why am I not losing weight?!

The Binge/Deprivation Cycle

If you have read any of my previous posts, you may be familiar with the thing I like to call the “Binge/Deprivation” cycle. What I mean by this term is the cycle many people get into when trying to diet. The thought “this week I’m not going to any sugar” or “I overate last night, today I only need to eat 800 calories or only smoothies for 3 day”, Sound familiar? What happens next? After depriving ourselves of food we love or food in general! It almost always leads to a binge!

In my own life, when prepping for a fitness competition there is always some degree of calorie restriction or elimination of certain foods. I consider myself to be pretty strong willed, which gets even stronger when I know I’m going to be up on a stage in a tiny bikini! During prep, I am human and I still have cravings but, I have found some really successful ways to combat these. I would be lying however, if I told you I don’t look forward to the night after the show when I can have my beer and pizza!

This lifestyle of competing in shows is tough and it takes a ton of self-discipline not only leading up to the show but after! The reality of rebound after competition is very likely and even for some of the most disciplined of athletes, it is a struggle. So if you are stuck in this cycle don’t feel like you’re the only one on this planet that has ever suffered from it. You are not alone and you can break the cycle and return to healthy eating habits. We must start by eliminating the deprivation step and slowly begin controlling our binging tendencies.

You Are Killing Your Metabolism

The second downfall of a calorie restricted diet is the damage it does to your metabolism. As you begin to limit the amount of food you take in on a daily basis you may not see the effects right away, you may even lose a little weight. Fast forward a few years down the road when you have been counting every calorie that enters your body to hit the 1400 mark and you’re still struggling to lose the weight you have so desperately wanted to for years! What’s the deal?

Humans are made to survive and the human body is such an amazing, complex, miraculous thing that was created with such precision. There are processes that happen every second inside our bodies that are so complex and choreographed perfectly. Consider the miracle of something as simple as respiration, the transportation of oxygen into our bodies via the lungs that is then transported into the smallest of cells simply because there is a difference in concentration is phenomenal! We don’t even have to think about this and it happens!

Our bodies were made to survive. When it gets cold our bodies create heat by shivering and raising the hairs on our skin to limit heat loss. When we are hot our pores open and we begin to sweat in an attempt to cool the body. When we are thirsty our bodies begin to limit the loss of water through perspiration and elimination. When we are hungry our metabolism slows to preserve resources.

After sticking to a calorie restricted diet for years your metabolism has slowed as a basic defense to keep you alive! This is not a bad thing, we should appreciate that our bodies are functioning and surviving the way they should! However, if you are trying to lose weight this basic survival mechanism is not helping you out. So, what do you do now in order to lose the weight you have been holding on to?

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Reverse Dieting

In order to lose weight after abusing your metabolism for years you must begin the process of healing your body, mind and metabolism.

The first, and most important, step in the process starts in the mind. You MUST stop beating yourself up and hating your body TODAY! There is no room for that here. You must remember that you are a beautiful, creative, amazing being created with a purpose and passion that MUST NOT be kept within you simply because you are unhappy with your body. Whether or not you are happy with your body you need to stop hiding yourself from the world! Your spirit is literally crying out asking to be expressed and shared and your journey will only become more beautiful if you let it shine! Let it shine today because you are BEAUTIFUL! ❤

Next, we begin healing our body.

After my first fitness competition I did not anticipate the weight gain that would follow if I returned to my normal eating habits. I know, this is a pretty basic thing but somehow I thought I was the exception. In turn, my metabolism was still slow but my appetite was not and I not only gained weight but, I felt heavy and tired all the time. I just wasn’t digesting all the food I was putting in. It did not occur to me until a few weeks later that I should have approached my diet coming out of the competition the same way I approached it going into the competition. Just as I slowly decreased calories and specific foods going into prep I needed to increase these things in the same manner. Hence, the term: Reverse Dieting.

How exactly does one reverse diet?

As I mentioned before, for my first fitness competition I did not practice reverse dieting and thus experiencing the effects. After starting my reverse diet a few weeks post competition I began to see my weight gain slow and eventually halt. In the end it was my delayed reverse diet that kept me from gaining a ton of rebound weight and overall struggling in my journey.  This time around I have started my reverse diet 2 days after the competition and overall things are going really well. (If you are interested in seeing the progress of my reverse diet I will be sharing frequently via Instagram and Facebook)

Here is what my reverse diet looks like: for the next few months I have been adding 50 extra calories to my diet each week. Every week on Sunday I add another 50 calories to my previous set point and see how my body reacts. (I personally do not utilize a low carb diet so messing with my macros is not a huge factor but for those who are currently limiting carbs try adding 20-30g of carbs each week until you are consuming about 50-60% of your calories from carbs.) Second, the food I consume is important! I cannot expect to come from a very clean diet to eating junk and not see ill effects. Right now I am choosing 2 desired foods to have each week. This week I have had one dessert (Lenny and Larry’s Complete Cookie) and will have 2 beers (Fresh microbrew to be enjoyed on St. Patty’s!).

Each week as I add these calories I will check in with my body and see how things are working out. A small amount of weight gain is normal as a ‘show leanness’ is not maintainable for most people. But, overall you do not want excess weight gain.

During this time it is also important to return to your normal fitness routine! You cannot expect your metabolism to work for you if you’re not working with it and staying active.

Here is how you apply this to your life!

  1. Take a look at your set points right now. Maybe you’re aiming for 1500 calories a day and only 30% carbs. If you’re using My Fitness Pal great! If not, start. My fitness pal will show you how many grams of carbs you are aiming for at 30%.
  2. This week at 50 calories to your diet. You are now aiming for 1550 calories.
  3. Next, add 20-30 grams of carbs to your diet. (Let’s say you’re at about 113g bump it up to 143g)
  4. If you have a set fitness routine stick to it. If you don’t have one start one maybe aim for 3 days a week this week then add another in 2-3 weeks. You can stay at 4 days a week or even better hit a 5 day a week routine in another 2-3 weeks. Consistency is best do aim for something that is doable for you!
  5. See how you feel the next week after manipulating your diet. If you’re interested in checking your weight check it after 2 weeks and no sooner, this allows your body to adjust. If you feel bloated after week one maybe subtract 10g of carbs and only add another 20g the following week.
  6. Don’t freak out if you gain weight at first, this is normal. Just stick with it. This is a process, especially if you have been depriving yourself for years!
  7. Continue this process until your calorie intake is between 1700-2000 depending on activity level and your body. Some people may even have a higher set point over 2000.
  8. Keep up the great work and celebrate doing something good for yourself and your body!!<3

**REMEMBER: You are ALWAYS working on improving the quality of foods you are putting in your body. If you are eating 1500 or 2000 calories of junk, IT’S STILL JUNK and this will not help your journey to success. Aim for whole, unprocessed foods and see how cleanly your body runs and feels.

Alrighty, well that is all I have for you today! Please share your experience, struggles, questions etc. I want to hear it all! As always, I hope you have a beautiful day and a restful weekend!

Lots of love,

Andrea B Fit

The Low Carb Lie

Low-carb,

Many of you women out there know exactly what I’m talking about. You may have even uttered the phrases “I’m staying away from carbs” “Carbs are my weakness” or “That has too many carbs for me” LADIES!! WAKE UP! While I am not saying you are crazy for thinking this (I am guilty of thinking these exact same things myself) I am bringing to light the fact that we are CONDITIONED to think that carbs are what make us fat! It cannot be more WRONG! Yet most girls grow up hearing their moms or other women talk about the evils of carbs.

I want to tear my hair out at the amount of trainers or health professionals that put their clients on obscenely low calorie and low-carb diets assuring them it’s the best way to lose weight. Not to mention they leave their clients thinking that achieving KETOSIS is the key to all their health problems! (I may have vomited a little in my mouth at the word.)

In this post I will discuss low-carb diets and ketosis; what they are, their benefits, and their side-effects. In my next post I will detail just how you can begin to love carbs again, feel healthier, AND yes, still lose weight!

Alright so what’s the deal with low-carb diets anyway?

Let’s have a quick talk about metabolic pathways. The body has a process of taking the foods we eat and turning them into nutrients we can then use for energy. Our bodies derive glucose from carbohydrates, fatty acids from fat, and amino acids from protein. In normal fed circumstances our bodies either use these compounds for energy or they are stored as glycogen (carbs and protein) or fat (all 3 have potential to be stored as fat). When our body is starved of food for more than 3 days our glycogen stores have been depleted and our body starts to use fat stores for energy. The liver breaks down fatty acids and produces ketones to fuel the body when glycogen is absent. These ketones are also produced when our bodies are starved of carbohydrates, which lead us to the term ketosis. The state of ketosis is when our bodies, in the limitation or absence of carbs, begins to utilize ketones as fuel for the muscles, heart, brain, and all other organs instead of glucose.

Just to review, low carb diets induce ketosis, ketosis mimics the same metabolic breakdown as STARVATION. Ketosis is starvation without actually starving yourself.

Now, let’s take a step back from the science of low-carb and talk simply about how it makes you feel. A simple google search of “symptoms of ketosis” will yield information such as:

  • Bad Breath
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive Issues (main issue being constipation! Fun)
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased Performance
  • Keto-flu (flu-like symptoms)
  • Nausea
  • Leg Cramps
  • Irritability
  • Excess Thirst
  • Heart Palpitations

The list goes on! But don’t worry if you find yourself on a webpage that advocates in favor of a low-carb diet they will assure you that in time these all will pass.

Ok, I’ll be real, I have done the low-carb thing before thinking it would be the key to achieving and maintaining weight loss. I felt like shit the whole time! I was tired, hungry ALL the time, dizzy, nauseous, and holy crap was I grumpy! This alone was enough to convince me that it wasn’t worth it, and then I started eating carbs again…. Anyone want to take a guess what happened? No, you don’t have to guess do you? Because you have either been there or seen a friend who has experienced it… chimpmunk-itis. Meaning the abnormal swelling of the entire body especially the face which makes one look like a chipmunk! (Taken straight from the Andrea Brogdon dictionary of health related words) We laugh now, but at the time it was not funny. At all. Lol. But Really.

Long-term effects of a low-carb diet

When it comes to looking at health information my inner biologist likes to go straight to the source (scholarly articles/studies) because quite honestly when you get info from a third, fourth, or fifth source the info often gets skewed. Not to mention the censorship of mainstream media and information which makes it difficult to sort through the crap, but that’s a whole other can of worms. So I’m going to give it to you straight and try to avoid the boring scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Benefits of low-carb:

Brain: After looking at tons of sources about how ketones affect the brain I found almost no significant effects on a healthy adult brain as compared to glucose. I have to be honest this was the first organ I wanted to know if function was impaired when running off ketones instead of glucose. I did however stumble upon studies examining the effects of a ketogenic diet on epileptic adults and children which found a low-carb diet to be effective in reducing the number of seizures patients experienced. (1)

Weight-loss: The reason most people submit to a low-carb diet is weight loss. Most people will experience weight loss but, there is always a threat of rebound (as mentioned above it is not pretty. Recall: chipmunk-itis). However, many people are happy with the weight loss they experience on a low-carb diet while getting to eat tons of savory, fatty foods.

There are also claims to energy benefits and appetite suppression with a low-carb diets.

Risks of low-carb:

Heart: Studies conducted on the effects of ketogenic diets on blood lipids found that levels of “bad cholesterol” (LDL) and total cholesterol were elevated while levels of “good cholesterol” (HDL) were lowered. LDL- cholesterol is considered a major contributor to lipid accumulation in arteries. This suggests that long-term adherence to a low-carb diet can mean an increased risk of heart disease.(2) This increase in LDL can also be due to the higher consumption of animal protein which leads to the next two risks.

Bowel Cancer: We cannot ignore the link between colorectal cancer and diets high in animal protein. Most low-carb diets are high in meat and low in fiber (hello constipation!). Not only does this cause stagnation in your bowels but, high meat consumption is linked to bowel cancer. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are shown to have protective effects against many cancers including bowel, breast, pancreatic, lung, and stomach. Low-carb diets highly limit fruits and veggies! Not to mention all the great fiber you get from other grains that are limited or eliminated altogether. (3-8)

Bone Health: A diet high in meat can also lead to acidity in the body which can affect bone health. Meat, which contains Sulphur amino acids, can cause a change in blood acidity causing increased calcium, potassium, sodium and ammonia loss in the urine. (9,10,11) You’re literally peeing out necessary nutrients!

Kidney Stones: low-carb diets raise blood cholesterol and free fatty acids increasing the risk of kidney stones. (12) Kidney stones are not only painful but they are dangerous! Patients with Kidney stones run the risk of rupturing a Kidney if the stone is dislodged or becomes too large.

Phew, that is a lot! Honestly, I started this blog post with the intention of a small discussion about low-carb diets and ketosis but the nerd inside me just couldn’t help going down the rabbit hole of scholarly articles and health studies. I originally thought I would write all my thoughts about ketogenic diets down in one day but this post ended up taking me over a week. Why? I am passionate about the subject, most of all I am passionate about women’s health. I’m so tired of women thinking that carbs are making them fat. This kind of thinking only leads to a deprivation/binge cycle and it’s just destructive. Weight loss aside this kind of diet can be downright dangerous to your health in the long run. There is a better way I promise.

I hope I was able to present all this information in a helpful way. If you’re inner nerd is also intrigued by periodicals feel free to check out the works cited below!

As mentioned previously keep a look out for my next blog post detailing how you can start loving carbs again and achieve your fitness goals on a carb-full diet!

Hope your week is absolutely amazing!

With love,

Andrea B Fit

 

Works Cited:

  1. Kinsman, S. L., Vining, E. P. G., Quaskey, S. A., Mellits, D. and Freeman, J. M. (1992), Efficacy of the Ketogenic Diet for Intractable Seizure Disorders: Review of 58 Cases. Epilepsia, 33: 1132–1136. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1157.1992.tb01770.x
  2. Freedman MR,  King  J,  Kennedy    Popular diets:  a scientific review.  Obesity Research 2001;9  Suppl  1:1S- 40S.
  3. Bingham   Meat, starch and non-starch polysaccharides and large bowel cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 1988; 48: 762-7.
  4. Sandhu M,  White  ,  McPherson  K.  Systematic  review  of  the  prospective  cohort  studies  on  meat  consumption  and  colorectal cancer risk: a meta-analytical approach. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2001;10: 439-46.
  5. Norat T,  Riboli    Meat consumption and colorectal cancer:  a review of epidemiologic evidence.  Nutr  Rev  2001; 59: 37-47.
  6. Truswell   Meat consumption and cancer of the large bowel. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002; 56 Suppl 1: S19-S24.
  7. Hill M. Meat cancer and dietary advice to the public. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002; 56 Suppl 1: S36-S41.
  8. McIntosh   Cereal foods,  fibre  and  the  prevention  of  cancers. Aust J Nutr Diet 2001; 58: S34-S48
  9. Barzel US,   Massey      Excess   dietary   protein   can adversely affect bone. J Nutrition 1998; 128: 1051-3.
  10. Lemann Jr    Relationship  between  urinary  calcium  and  net  acid  excretion  as  determined  by  dietary  protein  and  potassium: a review. Nephronology 1999; 81 Suppl 1: 18-25.
  11. Wang X, Zhao X. The effect of dietary sulphur–containing amino acids on calcium excretion. Adv  Exp  Med  Biol 1998; 442: 495-9.
  12. Cotter DG, Schugar RC, Crawford PA. Ketone body metabolism and cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology. 2013;304(8):H1060-H1076. doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00646.2012.