Status Update

Following up on my first post “Hello World“, I would like to share that I’ve measured myself recently.

In March 2014, I weighed 113kg with 51% body fat. In July 2015, I weighed 77,5kg with 27,8% body fat. Today, I weigh 64,8kg with 21,3% body fat.
This means I have lost 30% body fat and 48kg in 2 years.

As you can see, stepping on a scale is not something I regularly do. From my point of view the changes I introduce in my lifestyle and how I feel are the most important things. Nevertheless, I find it good to check from time to time how my body is reacting to those changes (if you follow this blog, you already know that: No, I did not “diet”. No, I did not starve. No, I did not take any supplements. Instead, I introduced informed long-term lifestyle changes).

I’m glad to see expressed in numbers what I already knew in so many other ways: I’m on the right track 🙂

Beware of Orthorexia

Orthorexia – a proposed distinct eating disorder characterized by extreme or excessive preoccupation / obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.
The term is derived utilizing the Greek “orthos,” which means “right,” or “correct,” and is intended as a parallel with anorexia. It literally means “fixation on righteous eating.”

Even though it is not currently recognized as a clinical diagnosis, I have come across several people who fit the profile. I would like to bring awareness to it, because anything which interferes with your happiness, is not worth it. Yes, I strongly believe we should strive to eat as healthily as we can, but not obsess over it. Once it becomes an obsession, I believe it stops being healthy. Taking a holistic perspective: sure, your body is well nourished, but how about your mind? Are you happy and at peace or are you stressed about food?
Personally, I’m all for equilibrium!

I hope this post is useful for someone.

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Eating habits – how I lost 46kg

Most people assume I did some hardcore crash diet to lose as much weight as I did (46kg / 101lbs last time I checked).
People come up to me “oohh you’ve must have sacrificed 9e5f8eccc4c631a3eccdc51a504b9d4aa lot”, “I’m sure you had to keep your mouth shut”, “which weight loss supplement did you take?” (this last one is just plain offensive to me, tbh). Again, and again, I need to explain that I’m not, nor have I ever been, on a diet, I did not take ANY supplements. Instead, I corrected my eating habits for the long run. It was a painstakingly slow process, and I’m not done yet (and perhaps I’ll never be), but I “simply” made fundamental changes to what I eat, and started exercising.

Information / knowledge has been the driving force behind all the changes I’ve implemented. Learning and understandi11816300_1011699612203355_3103311428349738562_ong what certain “foods” do to your body and brain is, to me, one of the most empowering things. Once I started learning about nutrition I stopped falling prey, for example, to processed food claims of healthiness. I did not feel deprived because I didn’t eat that frozen pizza, I felt proud for making that choice for myself, but not because it “would make me fat”, rather because it would fuel inflammation, mess with my metabolism, drive blood sugar spikes, etc.

So, as many people have asked me, which were the major changes?
Keep in mind that I’m going on 2 years of this process, I did NOT introduce all these changes at once, nor quickly. I did it baby-step by baby-step, over several months, one change at a time. I changed with health rather than aesthetics in mind.

Major things I’ve removed:

  • Soft-drinks. It took me about 6 months to completely remove this from my life. You can read why on my post Soft drinks = ☠   I avoid fruit juices too, because they keep the sugar and lose the fibre of the fruit.
  • Pasta, white bread, and anything with refined flour in it. You can read why on my post Refined flour isn’t cool
  • Added sugar. To be totally honest I haven’t been able to completely remove it, but at this point the only thing I eat is dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa, which nevertheless has added sugar. You can read why on my Sugar = Drug of abuse Part 1 and Part 2
  • Pretty much all processed food: cookies, frozen meals, fast food, ice cream, pre-cooked meals, breakfast cereals, flavoured yoghurts, sausages and deli meats, chips, gelatins, salad dressings, etc. As a general rule of thumb, if it has an ingredient list I’m not eating it.

And then people look at me with that “what the hell do you eat??” face.

No, I don’t eat depressing salads and other preconceived ideas about healthy eating, I love food and cooking, and I create some pretty awesome tasting meals with the help of my bff: the Internet, which holds a humongous collective knowledge of recipes. Examples here, here, and here.

I eat real food, my friends 🙂
Protein, complex carbohydrates, real fat, fruits and vegetables.
5d849cf59097cdc1dab48dfe1192a3b3Eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, tofu, green peas, lentils, quinoa, all types of beans, chickpeas, oats, almost all types of nuts (some of them I don’t like the taste, meh, I’m picky), olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, mushrooms, cocoa powder (100%), several seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame; eggplant, collard, tomatoes, kale, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, spinach, carrots, and pretty much all vegetables I can get my hands on; bananas, kiwis, oranges, pears, grapes, berries and pretty much all fruit I can get my hands on.
As for drinking: plenty of water, freshly brewed herbal tea and unsugared coffee.

Please take into account that at 1st… it was blergh, and there were a lot of setbacks, and that this doesn’t mean I don’t slip every now and then to some white chocolate covered almonds, or to a glistening orange pudding… Sugar is a hell of a drug, and I’m just human.
Correcting my eating habits was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, but it was beyond worth it and I’ll never go back. The overall way you feel everyday when you put proper nutrition together with exercise is one amazing loop, believe me.

Sorry for the long post, here’s a final thought:

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Strength training is your friend

Fellow women, for your own sake, please add strength training to your workout routine. Really.

Since the beginning I’ve included light strength training with Body Balance, later on, when I felt I could handle it, I added CxWorx, and 4 months ago I’ve also added Body Pump to my workout routine. As I’ve done with everything else, slowly but surely I’ve increased intensity.

Why?

7 Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Workout Routine

Other than the “official” reasons, there’s another one: I cannot describe how amazing it feels to be strong. If you want to leap, to pick things up, to pick yourself up, anything, your body simply responds. Quickly, effortlessly and efficiently your body does what you tell it to. It may sound silly, but it truly makes me feel empowered and independent, and I’m not even “strong-strong”, I’m just strong-ish.

The fear of becoming bulky never made any sense to me. Do people think muscles grow overnight or something? Are they not aware that it takes rigorous discipline when it comes to eating habits and workout routine? That it takes a ton of hard work and dedication? No, you will not become bulky, unless you really want that and strive for it.

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What makes muscles grow?

Knowledge is power, knowledge should be accessible and shared.

I’m a huge fan o TED-Ed, for I completely understand the lesson without feeling stupid. Hoping you’ll feel the same, here’s a lesson on “What makes muscles grow?”
Enjoy!

Tuesday Thought

Acknowledge and appreciate your progress, but don’t let it come to a halt. You can always learn something new to improve your eating habits, you can always improve your technique during your workout.

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As Daft Punk would say “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Our work is never over.”

Planning Fitness NY’s Resolutions?

Are you planning on making a fitness New Year’s Resolution? Then I have some advice for you.

Personally I’m anti sudden resolutions. But if that’s your thing, and you are looking forward to changing your life into a fitness lifestyle, here’s what my experience has taught me. I hope it helps you!

Knowledge is power. Look for reliable information online and always cross-check references. Don’t take any article/news piece at face value, research its contents.  Learn how your body deals with different foods. Learn what exercise does to your body and mind. In my experience, for example, knowing in greater detail what a cookie does to your body and brain will take you half way away from it.

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Take baby steps. Some people go for that “all or nothing approach”, but that doesn’t work for most of us. Humans are creatures of habit, and trying to change everything in one go can easily be overwhelming. For me it worked to focus on one small change at a time. Many tiny victories instead of one gigantic defeat.

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Be patient. Changes don’t happen quickly, they just don’t. Successfully introducing alterations to your behaviour takes time, and consequently so do changes to your body. If you are overweight, I’m sure you didn’t put the weight on overnight, so don’t expect it come off overnight either. It’s a process, and processes take time. Focus on the changes themselves, rather than on the results.

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Focus on health and progress. If you choose to focus on being healthy and on achieving a little bit more on each workout, the weight will kinda take care of itself. Spend your energy trying to achieve optimum nutrition to properly fuel your body, and on getting out of your comfort zone during your exercise routine, rather that on losing X pounds.Your body and mind will reward you: you will feel amazing. Trust me.

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Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. As you may have heard: “you can’t outrun your fork”. If you are looking for a sustainable, long term lifestyle change take into account that nutrition and exercise are BFFs not to be separated. You can work your heart out, but if you go home and don’t mind what you put on your plate you won’t make much progress, fat loss wise. I started exercising first, but I noticed a great boom in my body volume loss once I started eating better, baby-step by baby-step.

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Be prepared for setbacks. The road from obese to healthy is a hard one. You can clearly see some obstacles coming, others not so much. You will make mistakes, believe me you will! Accept them as a part of the path, and most importantly learn from them so you won’t do them again, or at least you will see them coming next time.

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Look for a support group. I was fortunate enough to not have to look for it. The right people sort of gathered around me. I firmly believe I would never have come this far without them. Positive, encouraging, challenging, empathetic voices were, and still are, crucial to me. I feel like I owe them a great part of my progress for they believed in me even when I, myself, didn’t. They were understanding without being condescending, so they kept (and keep) challenging me to do more, to be more. So my advice would be to look for people like this in your life, they will help you a great deal.

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Do the work. It’s your body and yours alone. No one can do the work for you. Even the best personal trainer in the world won’t be able to help you if you don’t do the work. Correcting your eating habits, giving your all during your workouts, that’s your work to do. Others can only guide and motivate you. It will be hard, very hard, but brace yourself for it.

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And that’s about it for this post. If you browse through this blog you will find several posts in which I talk about the several pieces of advice I have shared above.

One final thought:

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Now, why should you listen to me?
Well, I started changing my life in April 2014 and the last time I weighed myself – in October 2015- I had lost 46kg. Most importantly, the last time I measured – in July 2015 – I had lost 24% body fat ( I will measure everything again in February or March).
So I consider myself successful in my – forever ongoing- journey towards health. That’s why 😉

Yes, I eat fat

Following the principle that “a calorie is not a calorie”, I include healthy fats in my eating habits. Contrary to what the media, the food industry and even several doctors advocate, fat is good for you on so many levels. Just not the saturated/chemically processed kind. When I say “fat” I mean the real, the natural, kind: avocados, nuts, olive oil…

Since I started this process I have aimed for optimum nutrition. Unfortunately, aiming at something, doesn’t mean achieving it, but I strive for it and constantly look for new information with that in mind.

Of the several articles I have read this is probably my favourite one because it includes a lot of information (yes, it’s quite long, but worth reading):

Choosing Healthy Fats – Good Fats, Bad Fats, and the Power of Omega-3s

If you prefer something shorter, here’s this quick overview:

Five Reasons a Healthy Fat Diet is Good for You

And ever shorter, these 6 bullet points:

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I still strongly believe that information is key in changing anyone’s mindset. Information is power, use it.