We’ve all heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It is an easy trap to fall into with diet and exercise. We eat healthy and work out regularly and yet the scale doesn’t budge and we don’t see any change in the mirror. Unfortunately we often just throw our hands up, say oh well and continue on the same path. We find excuses like it must be my metabolism or I inherited my mother’s thighs or I don’t have the time to do more, etc. My excuse was I worked out a lot therefore I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted, right? Wrong! Here is the big revelation I finally accepted: You have to burn more calories than you consume if you want to lose weight. Exercising is a part of this but what you eat plays a bigger part. Studies show it is 80 to 90% of it. Yikes! It makes sense, though. A workout that lasts for an hour and involves moderate cardio and resistance will burn around 500 calories. (Let’s be honest, unless you are going nonstop at a high rate of intensity you are doing a moderate work out.) That isn’t many extra calories. A couple glasses of wine and some cheese and crackers will wipe that out quickly! So it was time to jump off the treadmill (figuratively) and do something different.
The hardest part of changing my eating was that I truly thought I was already eating healthy. I hate all those people who say just change one habit and watch the difference! Give up that soda! Switch to nonfat cappuccinos! Cut out processed food! Well, what if I didn’t eat any of that? What I needed to do was cut down on portions and cut back on the wine! I would make dinner and serve the same size portion to both my husband and me. He is 6’5”! I am 5’6”! We do not need the same amount of food! Breakfast was another change. I used to start the day with toast and peanut butter. Now it is steel cut oatmeal. As for the wine? I decided I would prefer to have my calories in the form of food instead of liquid. (Okay, I won’t turn down a great glass of wine, I just don’t do it every night.) Then I will have weeks like I described in my last blog that seem full of indulgences. I believe that was a way to get off the insanity wheel, shake up my body a little and then, when I go back to regular habits, it seems new! (Yeah, I know, it might sound a bit weak, but I had to justify it somehow to myself.)
This thinking applies to exercise, too. When was the last time you switched up your workout? If your body is used to your routine, you aren’t getting an effective workout. Nor will you get results that lead to buying smaller clothes. There are a ton of ideas out there to exercise your muscles in more ways than imaginable. Just go to youtube and search for core exercises. Hundreds of videos pop up! So why are you doing the same old sit-ups? As for cardio? Why spend more than 30 or 45 minutes on a machine or outside? Intervals have been shown to produce better results in a shorter amount of time. The key is you have to push yourself. Intervals are a way to keep your body guessing at what is coming. When your muscles are used to an activity you stop getting the best results. When I am outside I do intervals based on songs. I walk for one song, jog for one, walk, etc. Or I jog for one, run for one, etc. In the gym I use the timers on the machines. Push it hard for 1 minute, go a little easier for two, repeat.
None of this is easy. And being a middle aged women makes it harder (that’s another blog). However, part of getting older is learning that if something is worthwhile it usually takes work. And aren’t you worth it (sorry L’Oreal)?
This was such a long blog I decided to put in a link to one of my favorite recipes. Now is the time for picnics and this recipe is for a vegetarian barbecue sandwich. It uses one of my favorite meat substitutes, seitan. You can buy it at Wegmans in the natural food section with the refrigerated foods. I cut back on the vinegar a bit and added chipotle peppers to the sauce. You could always just use your favorite premade barbecue sauce, but watch the ingredients for high sodium (this recipe is already high) or sugar. Enjoy!