Should you diet or exercise; or both?

 

When it comes to losing weight, we feel overwhelmed and under-informed.

We believe when our best friend, Jan, tells us that the Keto diet is the only way to lose weight.

We get caught up in the latest hype, thinking this must be a new research finding that finally works wonders.

But the only truth is that it’s simpler than we actually want to believe. We want to believe it’s more complicated because at least that would give us some clarity on why we haven’t achieved our goals – and kept them – after so much practice. Does that say something about us?

Yes and no. We want to believe the hype because it’s, well, hype.  We love hearing the latest gossip, watch the latest episode of our favorite reality tv show and are obsessed with scrolling through our favorite social media newsfeeds.

How can weight loss and fat loss be so boring? It’s basically the same old thing you’ve heard a million years ago:

Move more + Eat less 

Ya, I know, BORING!

But so true and when you get down to it and finally accept this truth, it can actually help free you from ever believing another hyped up claim of fat and weight loss. You can simply smile and nod when your besties tell you they finally found the “golden bestest weight loss plan ever!” Because you now know better.

But it isn’t easy to give up our old habits this easily. We may feel like a fraud. We might secretly believe that there really is going to be another magical potion or balance of macronutrients that will burn off fat faster and give us the freedom we’ve always dreamed of.

But no. Not going to happen. Ever. So let’s stop putting off the inevitable and just start already! You can start today if you truly are ready. Just start tracking your foods. You don’t even have to count the calories yet. Just write down what you eat, make sure to take note of the amount and portions and tally it all at the end of the day. Easy peasy. Or is it?

At first, this is going to feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done! But just trust me and stick with it. It will get easier. You might have to cut back on some of the foods after a day or two of tracking. If you aren’t sure how many calories you need to lose weight, I have a video tutorial on how to find your personal magical weight loss calorie deficit range.

Now that you know how to find your calorie range,  you have no reason not to succeed, right? Or do you? I find the biggest component of weight loss and successful results come from accountability and support. We all need to feel like we are not alone in any of our efforts and it’s important to work with someone who can answer our questions and help us when we get stuck or hit a plateau. If that’s something you are interested in, you need to join my support system. Just shoot me an email to: spazzykay@gmail.com and tell me what your goals are for this month.

Here’s a fun and FREE workout you can try out with your favorite playlist to motivate you through! (message me and let me know if you give this a go!)

 

FREE Playlist Workout Challenge (from Fitness Bootcamp Pros Newsletter):

Choose 4 of your favorite pump-up songs – they should be between 3:30 and 4:30 minutes long.  Each circuit is done for the duration of the song.

Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio, then some moving stretches (leg swings, arm circles, etc)

Song 1:

– 10 Jumping Jacks

– 10 Reverse Lunges (10/side)

– 10 Mountain climbers (10/side)

– 10 second rest (if needed)

Song 2:

– 10 Push-ups

– 10 BodyWeight Squats

– 10 Bent-Over Rows (10/side)

– 10 second rest (if needed)

 

Song 3:

– 10 Burpees

– 10 High Knees (10/side)

– 10 Walking Lunges w/ twist (5/side)

– 10 second rest (if needed)

Song 4:

– 10 Glute Bridges (hold 3 sec at top)

– 10 sec Side Plank (10 left / 10 right)

– 10 Mountain Climbers

– 10 second rest (if needed)

Are you ready for your transformation too?

Progress in fitness and weight loss isn’t always guaranteed to last and definitely isn’t guaranteed to be easy! I have struggled for most of my life to find the balance in feeling healthy, strong, fit and happy. This is a recap of my last few years of ups and downs…and finally where I can sustain without overtraining, deprivation or binge eating.

13717284_1217939458247685_2057722143481798492_o

March 2012: I reached my lowest body fat percentage ever and was super lean (and always hungry!) lol It was all about extreme work and no balance. I worked out over 2 hours every day, did fasted cardio in the early morning hours and stuck to a strict diet plan. Restrictions and hard work were what fueled me to reach the goals of taking on the stage (my biggest challenge to date)..that was my motto. I took home 2 trophies; one for 2nd place in my division and the other for 3rd place in the overall division. I was proud but I was also suffering both mentally and physically.
October 2012: After my competition passed, I couldn’t help myself to choose the foods that I had been deprived of for the past six months. I was extremely exhausted and had no desire to continue on my journey to exercise and eating right. My weight started to skyrocket and I found myself unfamiliar with the stages that my body took on. I was not able to control my weight gains, I was tired all of the time, I felt myself slipping into depression and hopelessness. Not a good feeling for someone who has been in love with fitness and health for over 2o years. I found that I was suffering from adrenal fatigue and couldn’t find the motivation to move forward. There was absolutely no balance in my life at this point. We were moving and resettling in a new area and the lack of schedule made it that much more difficult. I wondered if I’d ever get back to where I wanted to be…or at least to the point I was before my competition. I pretty much worked out when I wanted to and ate what I wanted to. My body and mind were suffering from my previous competition training and extreme dieting. I gained over 25 lbs and felt completely hopeless. My body stopped responding and I was miserable.


June 2016: Being an obsessive personality has left me with little choices in finding balance but when I hit rock bottom, I realized there had to be a better way. I could not – and I would not – allow myself to continue feeling this way. This summer, I finally found balance, and stopped suffering for my results. The past few years have been a roller coaster of struggles, diet plans, competitions, and feeling like a fraud to my clients. I never stopped eating clean foods and I never stopped working out…but I damaged my body and my metabolism by taking on too much and punishing myself in many ways. Commitment is not easy and finding balance to live a healthier and happier life is key to long term results. Extreme results are not healthy and def not worth the pain and suffering I went through. I now workout anywhere from 30-60 minutes a day…TOPS! No more and no less. I take at least 1 full rest day every week. I eat to fuel my body, not my mind and not my emotions. This is the rest of my life…and not just a walk across the stage. I want to feel powerful, healthy, strong, capable, athletic, and above all else: HAPPY. I actually feel the best that I’ve felt in YEARS. I hit rock bottom and became tired of feeling tired and always pushing for more.


I am committed to helping women like me feel this way and learn what it takes to eat, workout and live a happy life that doesn’t feel like punishment. If this post encourages or touches you, let’s chat about getting you started on your own journey with my help. I am restarting my one-on-one online training and invite you to join me. You can fill out the form below or send me an email and I’ll forward you all the information to check out. It’s never too late and you’re capable of more than you know! Deprivation and overtraining is not the way. You can be healthy, happy and fit for life! 

NO Sugar Challenge; end of week 1

I get it that the NO SUGAR challenge sounds super scary, right? I felt the same way when I took this on a year and a half ago, for the very first time. I figured it would be difficult but I had no idea my body would react the way that it did. I was feeling like a drug addict who needed the next “fix”! 🙂  All joking aside, sugar is no joke. We are bombarded with more and more sugar added to almost every food item these days and we don’t even realize what this is doing to our bodies over time.

1255208_369625306502014_1900918221_n (1)
I thought, ‘what’s a little extra sugar every day or so’, but added up over every week, month and year…it’s scary how much extra fat that is storing up in our bodies. Think about it, we only use up a certain amount of calories and nutrients (dense or not) at a time..the rest is stored and “stored” means “FAT”. Sugar is no different. I dare you to go open your refrigerator and read some of the labels on your favorite items. I bet you that almost 80% of them contain “sugar”. Ketchup? Yep. Sauces? Yep. Everything in a box or container? Pretty much.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now, I know that most people are not willing to do this challenge. It’s uncomfortable and slightly scary but if you get to the point that you know it’s becoming a problem, then you will only be helping the quality of your future health. How about the extra weight around your tummy? Have you noticed this is almost impossible to lose? I can almost bet that the biggest culprit to this issue is sugar. Not the fat in your foods…but the sugars that are stored as fat in your body. Of course, that double double with a side of animal fries and milkshake would account for it too…

Anything that is excessive is fat. Except for veggies, I cannot fault a veggie for being a problem in our diets. But who ever had a kale and spinach obsession? 🙂

Now I promised that I’d share my foods this past week but it became a bit monotonous as I’m a creature of habit. I find that I do best when I eat similar foods throughout my week. If I have to come up with new and glamorous ideas every day, then I’d never be able to stay on track. Simplicity is what helps me most so this is what I share with you. In case you like lots of fun food ideas mixed into your week, you might want to visit some other healthy blogs or websites to get those ideas. I’ll share mine anyway if you’re interested:

Breakfast: Every day this week, I had one of two choices; first was my oats cooked in water with 1 red container Greek yogurt mixed in and 1 Tbsp all-natural peanut butter. I also had coffee with 1 Tbls half and half. No sugar added to anything and that includes stevia and xylitol this challenge. My second choice for breakfast was 1/2 cup oats blended in my VitaMix with 2 whole eggs and cooked up as a pancake. I would then top it with 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt and either some peanut butter or cut-up strawberries (although I have been saving my limited fruits for after lunch or dinner snacks).

Mid-morning snack: This stayed the same as it’s immediately following my workout. I have my Shakeology and blended it in my VitaMix blender with 1 cup water and 1 cup ice. I’m kind of obsessed with our new Cafe Latte flavor so this has been my daily flavor of choice. Before this challenge, I would always add one fruit selection to the shake but I’ll get back to that after this is complete.

Lunch: My lunches vary depending on what dinner was the previous evening. It’s either a salad topped with ground turkey, chicken or salmon OR sauteed veggies scrambled with 2 eggs and half of a blue container of shredded natural cheese. This is the time I’ll have my sliced up apple, topped with peanut butter and drink my tea with no sugar or stevia added.

Afternoon snack: My favorite snack at this time is usually my oats soaked for about 15-20 minutes in sugar free natural almond milk and mixed with greek yogurt and maybe a teaspoon of peanut butter. (I know, as I wrote my foods down, I realize I may have to do a NO PEANUT BUTTER challenge next…but why bother bringing me to my knees for no real reason?)

Dinner: Varies every day but our common choices (family favorites) are; tacos (to which I make a taco salad with no tortillas), grilled chicken anything, salmon, turkey meatballs – to name a few. I also got a bit creative this week and made a quinoa salad and enjoyed that atop a bed of greens and some olive oil. It actually is kind of fun searching out new and healthy ideas as I get stuck in my sameness for a long time…until I get so sick of something that I cannot eat it for months.

13512232_10209916587702204_3054950197142127049_n

Pretty sane, right? I thought so 😉

So in wrapping up my week 1 of the challenge so far (just 1 week to go), I’ve realized that even though I struggled with cravings and mood swings the first time I did this (a year ago), I must have not gone back to as much sweetness and fruits as I thought I did because this week was cake (wait, did I say “CAKE”? I meant it was EASY!) I seriously had ZERO cravings or mood swings this past week and the only struggle I dealt with was the weekend habits of treating myself to a “little bit of this and a little bit of that”…right? Now that I’m observing and holding myself accountable to this challenge, I’m left with the feeling of “when did I create this weekend habit?” which is something we should all be more aware of throughout our health and fitness journeys. If we never assess what’s happening in the stretches of time that connect our results, we never actually realize what it is that is sabotaging our efforts along the journey.

Bottom line, start reading your own ingredient lists and start to buy only products that contain zero added sugar. No need to go crazy and dump everything in your home but being aware and creating a new “normal” will only add to better results as you continue to move forward.

What will happen in week #2?

When weekends sabotage our goals

Have you been on track during your weekday schedule? Have you drawn out a plan for your success in hitting your goals? I know for many of us, we are rockstars during the week. We stick to the nutrition plan and we get our workouts in every day that we can. We feel unstoppable.

But what tends to happen as the weekend approaches, is that we feel we’ve done quite well. We may have family gatherings and parties; and our friends are expecting us to enjoy some downtime with them too. We decide that since the week was so successful and we are feeling confident in our ability to do it again next week, maybe one or two days off wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Right? I mean, haven’t we all heard that those “cheat days” can actually help fuel our metabolisms even more? Oh…that’s such great plan!

Right?

WRONG!!!

The weekend should definitely be filled with downtime; with relaxing and having fun but did you know that in doing so, most of us pretty much ruin those awesome results from the previous week by overdoing it completely? You know the saying; two steps forward and one step back? Well honestly, some of us are taking two steps forward during the workweek and about five or six steps back on the weekend. Let’s look at some of the worst case weekend habits that you should eliminate immediately so that you can continue to move forward in your success journey…never to return to previous poor habits.

Ready?

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.19.27 AM

1. Going crazy and binge eating on the weekend
One of the most common poor weekend choices most of us make is binge eating on the weekends. The idea that we have done so well all week but need to let go once in awhile usually results with eating and drinking everything unhealthy in our reach. Who cares, right? We’re getting back on track again, come Monday, so this won’t hurt that much! WRONG AGAIN! This only puts us either back where we first began our journeys, or worse yet, further behind as we continue these poor choices. This way of thinking is also creating a poor relationship with the foods we eat, as we continue this binge and then restrict pattern long term. The key to being fit and healthy is not being overly restrictive; heck, I can out-eat anyone at certain times when I really want to…but having good balance and understanding what to do overtime help us to create those long term results we are looking to achieve. There are times you must be more strict in your diet and exercise, as you are working towards achieving a specific goal. But the goal is not the end zone, in order to maintain those results, balance is the key. When I decide to overindulge (which I do for sure!), then I make sure the very next meal is healthy and on track. I just feel better this way and learning how to find and create that balance so you don’t continue to live the life of going from one extreme of being overly strict and not allowing anything to deter you from your plans, to then completely going hog-wild and overdoing it; again and again.

2. Sleeping too much 
It can feel like such a luxury to sleep in when the weekend finally arrives, right? I know that this was such a wonderful enjoyment for me before too. Not needing to wake up to an alarm and even we  you do wake up; just laying in bed and not having to do anything feels amazing. Yes, rest is an important element to our success BUT spending your entire morning in bed is only going to screw up your body clock out of it’s routine. This will result in feeling like crap come Monday morning when that alarm does ring. Enjoying some extra sleep on the weekends is fine, but it will be helpful for you in the long run to get up no more than an hour later than your normal weekday wake-up call. This honestly helps to keep our body clocks regular and our bodies from going through severe shifts; week after week.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.27.40 AM

3. Brunch dates? 
Brunch is a fun way to enjoy the weekends. They are so relaxing and a way to enjoy your friends and family over good foods. The problem is when those simple “brunch” dates turn out to be a huge cheat blowout. Have you ever decided to go all out and order the big breakfast deal? I know those hash browns, eggs, smoothies, breads, coffee and muffins look like a great choice, right? How about that ginormous stack of pancakes; covered in butter, syrup and cream? Yes, those treats are fun and helpful along the way but if you tend to over-do your brunch meals again and again and again and again…maybe you should take a look at another healthier option on the menu and make it more about enjoying the experience versus a food fest. I promise, it’s still worth it! (and no food coma later)

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.28.55 AM

4. But what about the booze? 
I’m not a drinker so this isn’t a problem of mine but I do know a lot of women and men who use alcohol as the way to unwind and relax over the weekend. Although, the occasional drink isn’t going to throw your goals too far off track; overdoing it is an easy next step as you start to enjoy the relaxed state of mind and body. Drinking in excessive amounts, prevents our bodies from losing fat and can lead to major weight gain over time. It also affects our ability to recover from exercise, it decreases our ability to build muscle and also leads to a list of other major health issues. If you enjoy having a drink or two on the weekends, make sure to keep it to a minimum or cut it out altogether if that isn’t a possibility for you.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.32.52 AM

5. Overworking over the weekend
As I work from home, I know all too well how easy it is to fit in more work over the weekends. It’s also more accessible to work more at home because of technology and the ability to “catch up” over the weekend. But I’ve found that this leads to a new problem of adding more stress into our lives when we need to find that balance again. Work is vital to our daily needs. We can’t eliminate it altogether but we can most definitely set up boundaries so that we can enjoy the perks of weekend downtime and renewing our energy stores for the new week. Stress can lead to more weight gain and many other health problems, even disease; over time. Make sure to plan out your work and rest hours just as you plan out your meals and treats along the way.

Do any of these habits ring true for you? Where can you make some changes?

For me, I work on balance. I am not a fan of “diet and deprivation”. It never works. Sure, you will lose weight initially on any diet (heck, even on a “diet” of crappy foods can allow your body to lose weight if you are in a calorie deficit!) but what then? Can you sustain those daily foods and energy requirements long term? For the rest of your life? This is where I had trouble many times in the past. I would lose “all the weight” and feel so good about myself…only to regain it all and have to start over again. Sound familiar? It is for most people. The key isn’t in finding the “right” diet or the “right” exercise plan because our bodies don’t really care what we do along the way. Our body only achieves the results it achieves through the practices we continue to place into our lives. Workout and eat right for 90 days and lose 20 lbs? Great! Then what? Then most people decide to return to their previous habits and what happens then? The body is only doing what we are telling it to do.

If you need some extra help or attention in any of these areas, feel free to drop a comment below or message me at: spazzykay@gmail.com

How did I get here?

In my blog, I share so much about where I am now; how I’m doing with my current progress in my fitness and health journey and tips and ways to help you succeed in your own personal fitness and health goals.

But today, I thought I’d change it up. I thought it would be a great time to reflect on where I started and why I started. You might be dealing with your own struggles along the way and I always find it helpful when I hear from others on the issues and stories that transformed their lives so that I know I’m not in this alone.

And neither are you.

I’m asked from time to time, how much weight I’ve lost; how long I’ve kept my weight off; how I juggle my goals with my at home coaching business and my family life. But the latest question I was asked had me stop and say hmmmmm

Screenshot 2015-09-20 at 8.22.23 PM

And to make me stop and reflect on anything has got to mean something! 🙂

I was asked, “What was the reason you started to exercise and eat right?”

Like the actual reason?

Wow! What a question, indeed! Why do any of us actually start to watch our weights, to start a new diet, to embark on a new fitness program at all? For me, I have to go back to where the pain began. Because for most of us, we start a fitness and health plan to move away from pain or uncomfortable situations.

For example, if you just thought about losing weight one day, how likely are you to start making changes that very day? Most of us wouldn’t bother until we found the best plan for us; picked the  best day to start (and it’s usually a MONDAY) and then procrastinate for awhile still. But what if you went to the doctor and he/she told you that you were on the brink of a health issue or were in serious risk of developing a disease? Now, how likely are you to start now? 

See the difference in the scenarios? We tend to want to move away from pain versus moving towards pleasure more rapidly. Sure, looking and feeling good sounds like an awesome idea but do we really want to start sweating and feeling uncomfortable in starting a new plan NOW? And what about cutting out our favorite foods? Who really wants to give up leisurely sitting on the couch and watching our favorite tv shows while enjoying our favorite foods as our chillax time? Not many..

So back to the question I was asked…what was my deep rooted reason???

I grew up in a large and happy family; the eldest of five children. I was shy and reserved and felt a bit “odd” at times to most as I felt my family life was a bit “different” and “old fashioned”. I felt that I couldn’t keep up with the trends and social status among the other kids my age. I was a major introvert. I would have rather just eat my lunch alone at school and play on the playground jungle gym in my own aloneness at recess…

45507_10200354018163942_735302567_n (2)
My first grade picture; before the insecurities were formed

But that wouldn’t seem cool or “normal”… I had to have at least one or more friends. And I did. But just as childhood friends go, they can be fickle and hyper-critical of anything different and there I was, all different and stuff.

Now, this could have all been my own perceptions and maybe not even accurate in the least but nonetheless it was my truth. I seemed to find the “friends” who were just as insecure as I was, and then be swayed in another direction from some of the “bullies” and “divas” instead. I know it was a long time ago and my childhood memories are a bit sketchy, but I was usually the one student left out of the main cliques. I always wanted to be part of the “IN” crowd but I also knew that would never happen because I was so NOT the in crowd. I wasn’t even part of the “side” crowd; if there is such a thing. I can almost bet that I probably hardly spoke many words to anyone at school since I was so awkwardly shy; but in my memories, I was mistreated by so many so-called “friends”.

And so it began, my youngest memories of feeling insecure and without any confidence or confidants. I would just hide my feelings from everyone, even my family. What would they think of me anyway, not having friends?  I had to hold on to my status in some way or another. So I just pretended and imagined everything was “fine”. I would fake being sick many days so that my mom would just let me stay home; away from the drama and the trauma at school. I know, now it sounds almost ridiculous but to a child; these issues are ginormous.

It was during my 5th grade year that I remember being the first one in my class to develop.  I was taller than most everyone in class. I hovered over the boys and felt like a ginormous monster. Not cool for an 11 year old girl.

I did all that I could to “fit in” but as I wasn’t quite comfortable in my own skin, it never came across in the right way. Now I know you’re probably thinking, “seriously? this is what your first memories of struggles are?” and to that I say YES! What we struggle with as young children stick with us in such a strong and permanent way; since these are our “development” years. So, in essence, I was “developed” into my struggles with food.

I would come home and EAT. Eating soothed my insecurities. With foods, I didn’t have to prove anything. I felt wonderful; I felt loved and I felt comforted from my life’s childish stresses. Now, this wasn’t a terrible problem for me until I hit the age of 14; and noticed in a picture of some of my peers that they were now as tall as I was…but I was quite a bit ROUNDER than they were.

This was horrifying in a whole new way. I tried “hiding” my thighs in clothing that wouldn’t accentuate my lower heavier self but it didn’t make much of a difference. Obesity has grown in recent years but when I was a young teen, this “shape” didn’t seem quite “normal” and here I went again on my insecurities of standing out. Some of my “friends” would even go as far to say that “boys like thinner girls’ bodies…and not ones like yours”….

I would have been happy to hide behind others and never be seen.  Yes, I know at that time of my life I was too scared to speak up and allow others to hear the ridiculous things I had to say. I preferred to be quiet and enjoy the chatter of others, who were more confident in their skins.

I set out to “right” my eating issues. I would restrict all that I ate and reasoned that just as eating too much allowed me to gain weight; the choice to eat too little would remedy that and I’d lose the weight again and be “normal” among my peers.

Not so much. This was the time that my starvation/binge period began. I’m thankful that I never resorted to “rid” myself of what I would binge on but it would start the awful cycle of starving myself for as long as I could handle it…or until the next bout of depression/anxiety and emotional issues would hit. At this point, I could eat the entire refrigerator contents and not blink an eye.

It was at this point, my mom saw what I was struggling with and decided to sign me up at the local gym and at Weight Watchers.

It was at these centers, I finally belonged. 

I heard stories from other women and young ladies who struggled in much of the same issues I was. At the gym, we attended small group exercise classes and the women in those classes accepted me in; just as one of them. I was invited, quite frequently, to choose my favorite move and “lead” in front of the class.

oh em gee

I was hooked. It was my place. I was finally one of the “in” crowd.

This was also the time I realized I could feel good about myself and still lose the extra weight that I had been struggling with. I lost my first initial 20 lbs and was recognized and celebrated among the other women in our weight loss group and it was a HIGH.

If I missed a class at the gym, the other ladies would actually notice and ask where I had been. So, this is how it felt to be accepted!! I couldn’t believe how wonderful this new world was! I wanted more! I wanted to SHARE with the world!!!

I looked up to and followed one of the fitness instructors and trainers; Syliva.

She was my ultimate role model. She embodied fitness, helpful tips, personality and vitality. She put up with this “pesty” young girl, following her around after classes, asking tons of training questions and food tips. Sylvia was so amazing with me that she even accepted to show me the “other side” of the gym; aka: weight room. Now, how many women do you know who actually go into the weight room? This was the area that seemed off limits because it was predominantly men who spent most of their time there. I wanted to be the exception to the rule. And so Sylvia marched me proudly into the weight room and showed me how to utilize the machines and free weights.

I remember the feeling of finally finding my “calling”. My heart was pulled into learning more about this side of life. How is it possible that I had believed for so long that just eating more or less would allow me to reach my ultimate goals? How was I not aware of this side of the world before?

Now, I realized that I had the power to tone and strengthen up my body to become fitter and healthier versus “good and bad” on my current “diet” mentality. It was about empowerment in all areas of my life; my beliefs and my confidence. Whatever you love; go out and do it whole-heartedly and you’ll never be the same again.

That’s my early story…and I’m sticking with it! Although, that is not the end of my struggles, it helped to shape my newfound passion and calling in life. I knew I would be helping to empower other women to find the workout plan for them and meal plans that best suited their needs and help them achieve the goals of feeling confident, beautiful and powerful.

What about you? 

Curbing Emotional Eating Attacks

Have you ever been attacked by a craving?

Like, you are not sure what just happened but one minute you are sitting there minding your own business and the next part is fuzzy and unclear…

but once you “come to”, you have crumbs on your shirt and chocolate dripping from your chin and your fingertips.

What just happened here? 

This is something that I had suffered through for so many years and instead of looking into the reasons why it was happening, I was under the impression that working on my sheer “willpower” would help me to conquer this beast.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 10.08.35 PM

not so much…

Let’s take a look at what happens when we are in the midst of a craving attack;  the cravings are driven by the chemical in our brain, dopamine. The brain seeks that rush again and again…and again! It works like a drug addiction…and “willpower” has no power over this at all.

But what do we do if we are trying to lose weight? What if we are focusing on replacing these attacks with healthier habits?  How do we stop these attacks and start to control their power over our brains?

Knowing our trigger points can help us understand the signs so we can work on creating a successful plan to offset the problem.

Here are some common areas that bring on the sudden attacks:

*Being under a lot of stress (ummmm…excuse me, LIFE???)

*Skipping meals and/or undereating (a big no-no but so many women practice it in hopes of losing weight)

*Not drinking enough water (seriously, who even drinks enough these days??)

*Boredom

*Lack of sleep

*Stuck in a rut

Start by learning to identify the feelings in a given moment and understand to separate those feelings from food. I will never forget one of my Weight Watcher leaders when I was just 15 years old, when I was obsessed with finding the cause of my struggles. She told us repeatedly, almost like our mantra, “if you find yourself standing in front of an open refrigerator or pantry and you don’t know what you are ‘hungry’ for; shut the door, go sit down and figure out what it is you are hungry for. Because it has nothing to do with food.’

This saying brought me so much relief through many painful times as I worked on conquering this massive and powerful beast.

So, how do we finally get control of these times? It’s all about understanding the emotions first and then having a game plan set up so we are set up for success. Here are some tips.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 10.09.39 PM

1. Plan a workout schedule and stick to it. You wouldn’t cancel on a meeting or appointment that was important to you, why would you not stick to a workout program that would benefit your body and your mind? I like to plan out my workout time on my calendar in pen and I don’t let myself get off track with anything or anyone else at that time. If you have difficulty during your day or evening, get up an hour earlier and just get it done. If you are thinking that isn’t fair because you want to sleep that extra hour; then go to sleep earlier if you must. But the bottom line is you that we all have 2 decisions on our goals. Either we don’t stick to it and we move further from our goals; or we just do it and the magic happens. You are just as important as anyone else that you value in your life.

2. Let’s talk about your water intake, your stress levels and the amount of sleep you’re getting. Now, don’t get me started on the fact that most of us are lacking in all 3 of these areas…let’s find out why we need to pay attention here. Our will power is lowered dramatically when we are sleep deprived, stressed out and dehydrated. Do you think that’s BS? Think about a time of known weight gain for most…’the college years’.  Crappy food is everywhere, sleep is a second thought and stress levels are through the roof…and water? Who drinks water? There are much less hydrating beverages to be had instead. Those or us who are more active, need at least 1 gallon of water every day. We also need at least 7 hours of sleep per night…and I don’t care if you can tell me that you are “good” to go after just 4 hours. That lack of sleep will catch up with you. These will create major food cravings all on their own.

3. I know I mentioned stress above but I believe it’s important enough to hold it’s own title.  I know we all deal with stresses. It is ‘life’ for goodness sake. But think about the times when you are stressed more than normal, these times make us so much more vulnerable to food cravings. Stress may not be something you can always control, but you can help your body handle it as best as possible. Exercise is a proven method to eliminate the negativity caused by stress; in fact, you feel immediately better after you are done. Ever hear of those “happy endorphins”?  Some basic activities that bring upon a feeling of euphoria are yoga, meditation and simple stretching. Plan to attend yoga classes twice a week when you are under extra stress, or just in general. Even if you only have a few minutes to relax; just breathing in a quiet place with your eyes closed for 10 minutes will lower stress levels dramatically.  Hence my Weight Watcher leader’s quote about “go sit down and figure out what you’re hungry for”, just sit and breathe…

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 10.10.52 PM

4. Stop the cravings! When you think of the food culprit, day or night, just firmly think “STOP!” Then picture a healthy and fit “you” instead. Do this repeatedly, even if you feel silly. It’s really sillier to NOT work on these areas so suit yourself…lol  If you make this a habit, your brain will soon begin to dismiss the foods and the cravings will begin to lessen.

5. Sometimes you just gotta have one. Diets don’t work because they focus on depriving ourselves of what we enjoy most. Every so often, go ahead and indulge in your favorite sweet treat. But instead of gorging on it in the privacy of your home, go out and eat it with a fork and a spoon in front of other people…with dignity. Enjoy the flavors and the richness of the dessert. I bet you are satisfied before you even finish it.