Need More Fitness Motivation? Cool Sites to Check Out

Pinterest is one of my best friends when it comes to inspirational pictures, recipes, exercises, etc. I was browsing on there today and found a couple cool sites that I thought you guys might like.

Weight Mirror: This site lets you upload a current full length body pic and will adjust it to show a general idea of what you might look like at a different weight. You can add in your height and weight and then it will adjust accordingly. Keep in mind this won’t be perfectly accurate, but it’s kind of cool to see.

Here’s one I did of myself. As you can see it’s not going to account for the actual change in the shape of your body. If I lost 20lbs, I’d see a greater gap in between my legs, etc. But it’s still a cool visual. πŸ™‚ There are other weight loss simulators out there but many didn’t take into account your height or only had an option for females.

WebMD has a Free Food & Fitness Planner: This is actually a pretty amazing site. Reminds me a bit of Loseit.com in the beginning but seems a bit more detailed with how much you want to exercise vs. eat. It also tells you how much water you should be drinking everyday based on everything! It does make you register (for free) if you want to go to the next step and see a food plan. However, it does ask you if you have any current medical conditions and gives you the option to opt out of any annoying emails. For the most part, it’s on the same wavelength as Loseit, however, it gives you more information at your fingertips with it being hooked into WebMD. There’s a tip of the day, links for wallet and fridge-sized food portion guides, a did you know fact of the day, tons of info on different kinds of fats, etc. I’m actually tempted to start using this πŸ™‚ Let me know if you try it out!

Find other blogs that are fun to read with people you can relate to! Most of us aren’t celebrities with the ability to workout 6 hours a day and have a chef prepare all of our meals. Some of the most recent blogs I’ve discovered are SkinnyEmmie (who has already lost more weight than most people currently weight, amazing!) and LearnFitness from a 6’2″ guy who’s made amazing progress. He even has a weight loss timeline that shows all his progress. It’s great to find someone you can relate to, whether its similar habits, body style, height, etc.

I also like finding Tumblr feeds for fitness and weight loss inspiration. Sometimes these aren’t monitored very well but for the most part people are posting healthy results and healthy nutrition habits.

Look for success stories in your weight loss goal range. This site from ShapeFit lets you chose before and after photos by weight loss range.

What are some of your favorite sites or resources for fitness, weight loss, and health motivation?

 

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Snacking at Night: What You Need to Know

Honestly, it really does not matter what time of day you eat. Sure, you’re going to burn less calories while you’re sleeping, but over the course of that entire 24 hour period, you’re burning the same amount of calories based on your BMR. You could still lose weight if you ate your meals at random times everyday.

There are some good reasons though, to set a time where the kitchen is closed. Any time I’ve stuck by a rule of not eating 2 hours before bedtime, or after 8pm, or whatever you decide on, chances are you are going to eat less. Different times/situations trigger different responses for everyone. Some people can’t handle the break room at work at 3pm because if there’s donuts, they’ll cave. Others, like myself, run into the trouble zone when it’s after dinner, you’re not really hungry, but eating and not moving, and mindlessly watching TV while doing so sounds incredible. I always want to snack at night. It’s been SUCH a long day, I deserve this, I got so much done today, oh man, no one has to know, my roommate is out at the gym, don’t feel guilty, eat those chips.

Don’t do it! There are ways to avoid late night snacking.

While snacking at night throws away all that hard work and healthy eating you did during the day, it also sets you up for an even harder time the next day. Here’s why:

If you overeat at night, you’re going to stretch out your stomach. Know that feeling after a party or a big BBQ? You wake up the next day and you’re not really hungry but your stomach says you are. It’s all stretched out from all that food you ate last night. It’s demanding that you fill it up. So you have your regular breakfast, but it doesn’t seem to do the trick. All day you’re eating your regular portions but you’re still hungry. What gives!

When you begin to eat less, your stomach shrinks. Those first three days like I’ve talked about, are always hard, right? It’s because you’re getting used to functioning on less fuel. But you can do it! When you do have a cheat day or decide to eat something not as healthy, keep the portion sizes to what you’ve become accustomed to with all your healthy progress. If you go out on a Friday and decide to splurge on a burger, cut it in half, split it with a friend and STOP eating when you are full or just before. Using these tricks can help you stay on track as you move forward.

Why Sugar Free and Artificial Sweeteners Are Just As Bad If Not Worse For Your Body

The past week or so I’ve been busy moving into a new apartment.Β  Because of this, with all the unpacking and rearranging, I haven’t been able to do the shred or my regular workouts. But I did move couches, which, really, has destroyed me. I’ll keep you posted on my 30DS results once I finish these final 5 sessions πŸ™‚

Over the past week, I also indulged a little bit. This indulging involved some sugar-free candy and what resulted from all of this was my mentality being jolted back to square one.

Let me explain. For nearly a month I’ve been hammering out 30DS, eating clean, and working hard! So much so that it started to get way easy. They were new habits, I looked forward to every minutes of it every day (well maybe not EVERY minute with Jillian, but you get it). I wasn’t even craving sweets or bad foods.

Then, while in Fred Meyer, I saw some sugar-free candy. I thought to myself, okay, under 200 calories, I mean, on a good day, why not. This stuff is good, low-calorie, and pretty much guilt free. I should be good to go. What ended up happening was the exact opposite. Not only did I continue to eat more and more of this stuff, but I started craving MORE sugary things, I got hungrier, I wanted to keep eating, even after I was full. I started feeling depressed and unmotivated. What the crap was this!?!

Sugar free had a catch (I knew this).

I’ve known aspartame has never been a good thing to ingest but for some reason all these other chemicals didn’t seem as bad. Kind of like how you feel more guilty going to McDonald’s than you do Arby’s, they are both just as bad really, but one has more stigma than the other.

So why are fake sugars worse than the real thing?

Aspartame, one of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners, contains aspartic acid and phenylalanine, which encourage the release of insulin into the blood stream. Sugar cravings are then caused as the glucose is removed from your bloodstream during this process. The irony that diet soda will actually make you want to eat more. This helps explain why for hours after and even the next day after eating these “miracle” candies I was craving EVERYTHING! I was ready to give up completely on 30DS, losing those last few inches, and just start eating my way through Costco cakes.

When rats have been given artificial sweeteners, not only do they have a higher caloric intake over several weeks, but they also decreased their metabolism and gained overall body fat. I think it’s safe to say that we don’t need rats to prove this experiment. Most of the people I know that are in incredible shape are eating clean and healthy, they aren’t pumping their body full of diet soda and carb-free chips. They are making smart decisions, better choices, and not trying to “fool” their body with chemicals.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the key to not craving sweets and bad foods, is to not eat them in the first place. Smokers trying to quit can’t just have ONE cigarette. I’m not saying NEVER eat sugar, but if you are going to have a piece of cake or something sweet, make it the real deal, don’t try to cheat with fake crap. I always notice that the longer I go without sugar, the more I detest it. I’ve went months and months without sugar-based foods and then had a single bite of an apple fritter and felt sick to my stomach. Think about how food makes you feel, notice how your body and mind react to things when you eat them. Something may taste good but how does it make you feel during and afterwards, that’s ultimately what you want to be aware of.

I hear a lot of people say “but I have a sweet tooth” or “I just love cake, cake is MY THING.” You are BIGGER than your cravings. And all these things you crave are merely chemical reactions in your brain. You can train yourself to automatically crave good andΒ  healthy foods the same way you’ve craved chips.

It’s also been noted that sugar makes the brain react much like a drug. It may not have the same addiction-like qualities as heroin, but I think everyone can relate to feeling the desperate “NEED” to have something sugary. And in the same ways that we build up a tolerance to the effects of a drug or alcohol, the same can be said about the pleasure response of a sugary food. The more you eat it, the more of it you’re going to want to sustain that feeling. It becomes a vicious cycle. Studies have also shown that fake sugars don’t stimulate the pleasure centers of your brain the way real sugar does. Your taste buds might not be able to tell the difference, but your brain can’t.

Find ways to cut sugar out of your life. Find healthy and natural sweet substitutions (I love cottage cheese with pineapple chunks when I crave something sweet). And remember the three-day rule. I always find that the first three days of anything are hard. It’s the time when the body and mind are fighting you on change and adjustment. Power through. You’ll find that on that third day without those sugary snacks, you’ll start to feel a lot different.

For the Ladies: How to Handle PMS Cravings and Let that Metabolism Boost Work FOR You

Some months are worse than others. It’s the week or a few days before your period and you’re a BEAR! *$%# my diet,Β  screw eating healthy I want everything dipped in cheese, chocolate, and wine and I want it NOW!

Before you give up and freak out, let’s take some steps to see WHY this happens to us, what we can do to help keep ourselves on track and why that extra metabolism boost once a month can really play in our favor.

Prevention: Before we even try to get into why PMS happens, realize the steps you can take to make it less bothersome. Eating healthy, taking fish oil, and evening primrose oil, can help reduce PMS symptoms. It’s also important to keep your exercise regimen going during this time. Aerobic activities can help stave off that depressed feeling and get you feeling more energized.

While it’s hard to find one particular study, research suggests that a week before a woman’s period, during the luteal phase, we will require an additional 100-300 calories/day. Some women’s metabolism can increase by as much as 15%. But this doesn’t mean you should go eat nachos and an entire bag of Dove chocolates (although what I’d give to do that guilt free). Instead, look at this as a reason for all these seemingly uncontrollable cravings. You were doing so well and not even THINKING about cake and now it’s all you want. Don’t start feeling guilty about this, just be aware of it. You got this.

Also – don’t you DARE go weigh yourself while you’re on your period. Water retention is a bitch and you’re going to fluctuate by about 2-5 pounds during this time. You may even feel gross or not be able to suck in your stomach as much, this is NORMAL.

Chocolate – when we’re on our cycles, our magnesium levels get way low. Chocolate is an easy way for our bodies to compensate, plus, it’s delicious! Magnesium deficiencies can cause a host of other issues, too, like depression, fatigue, insomnia, indecisiveness, confusion. OMG this totally sounds like PMS, doesn’t it! No wonder I’ve stood in the middle of the grocery store staring at cereal for 10 minutes thinking “there’s no way I’m going to be able to choose one, there’s just…sooo many.” A good way to combat this is to fuel up on magnesium rich foods before hand and throughout the month in general.Β  And let yourself have some chocolate, preferably dark for less sugar and more cocoa benefits.

PMS and periods are also going to reduce a woman’s iron, which means we crave high energy foods to compensate for the sleepy/drained feeling. Hormones also sway and can effect our blood sugar levels. Before you indulge on sweets however, realize that the more sweets you have, the more your blood sugar will spike, and when it crashes again, the more you’ll want. Sugar is very much like a drug.

The good news is if you can power through and stay on track during this time, you’ll have that added calorie deficit depending on your personal BMR. Power through!

Until then, I think I may need to put something like this in my kitchen…

Froyo: My New Not So Guilty Pleasure

I’ve just discovered frozen yogurt like never before. The best flavors are around 120 calories per 1/2 cup. But the no sugar added ones are as little as 45!

I’m currently enjoying cake batter and thin mint flavors topped with strawberries. See! You can indulge and still stay on track! πŸ™‚

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Progress Update: Focusing on More Than Numbers and Appearance

I’m dripping sweat as I write this. Just finished another shred sesh of level 3. Today was the first day I was able to do it all without taking any breaks and pushing it harder than I ever have before.

Today is only day 24 and oh the results I feel. Granted there’s been 3 days throughout this 30DS where I didn’t make the time to do it. One of those being over the weekend when I spent 4 hours floating a river and then had a bacon burger, fries, AND froyo after. Not my best fitness day. But I did bring my leptin levels back up (a hormone responsible for keeping your body out of starvation mode). Having a cheat day can help reset your metabolism.

I’ll post a pic of my progress below (3 inches of the waist in 3 weeks ain’t bad). But today I want to focus on results beyond looks and numbers. Today at the gym I was running, doing the cross trainer, and did some lifting. I haven’t felt this strong in a long time! I may only be using 3 and 5lb weights in 30DS but it IS making a difference in my strength and overall endurance.

I can feel the strength in my core and underneath that layer of fat I have left. I’m getting strong, I WANT to workout. I even missed the shred on the days I took off. It can take 21 days to create a habit and I’m getting there!

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The Importance of Breakfast!

Most people seem to know this by now but sometimes I talk to people who just don’t eat breakfast and I’m surprised! Not only is breakfast the MOST important meal of the day (cliche, I know) but it helps rev up your metabolism and helps stave off hunger for the rest of your day. Eating a breakfast high in protein and fiber also helps regulate your blood sugar levels and keeps you from eating high calorie snacks and junk food later on in the day.

What I’ve heard people say:

But I’m not hungry in the morning!

Trying to eat in the morning makes me feel sick!

It’s one less meal I eat if I skip breakfast.

I actually just don’t get hungry until lunch.

If you’re new to breakfast right when you get up, give it a try. I always try to eat within an hour of waking up. Start with something small until your stomach gets used to it. Cottage cheese with fruit, a small bowl of cereal with almond milk, a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter.

When I was a teenager I did the whole I’m-not-gonna-eat-thing and it wasn’t until my Mom MADE me eat breakfast every morning that I started losing weight, feeling amazing, and being in a better mood overall.

Here are some reasons to EAT breakfast:

  • Keeps you from getting super hungry later in the day and helps boost weight loss. Don’t worry about getting up and taking all this time to make eggs, toast, etc. Just EAT something!
  • Not eating breakfast has you running on empty and can put you into starvation mode if you’re not getting enough fuel. Even if you don’t feel famished, your body is and it will find a way to get you to eat that donut if it’s feeling deprived.

So tomorrow when you get up, make sure to fuel your body for the day and keep yourself on track! We all NEED to eat!