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Oh, hi there!

Hello! I feel like I have started every post lately with an apology for being so lazy with blogging. This post is no different! I really don’t have an excuse other than the motivation seems to have left me in the last few months. If I wasn’t sick in bed right now, this post may not have happened either. I’ve still been chipping away at my goals, but the blogging side of things seems to have taken a step back. Hopefully the motivation will return soon 🙂

Anyway, a little update…

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Quick updated progress timeline

progress-2014-square

A quick updated progress timeline.
2013 – 2014 has been more about muscle building and finding balance for me, so while it doesn’t look like much has changed, it has. One of these days I’ll get better at taking these photos!

Something else to note – in the time between the 2013 and 2014 photos were taken, my life was essentially overhauled! I moved to a completely new area an hour away from where I used to live, finished up one job and started another and settled in to a completely new life! No wonder this year has been about finding balance! 😉

Thoughts on ‘The Biggest Loser’

‘The Biggest Loser’ started in 2004 and yet it’s only now, 10 years later, that the real truth of the show has reached the mainstream masses. Many people have known what you see on the show isn’t realistic for a long time, but between the Rachel Frederickson publicity (USA) and TBL Australia contestant Andrew ‘Cosi’ Costello exposing the tactics behind the show, it seems as though more people than ever are realising the weight loss journeys on the show aren’t nearly as fast or smooth as depicted.

The day after the USA finale, I stumbled across this interview with Rachel by The Girl’s Got Sole. In the article, Rachel says she was doing 3-4 gym classes plus walking on the treadmill while working every day in the lead up to the finale. Even with such an intense training schedule, she was eating 1600 calories a day.

By a similar token, Andrew ‘Cosi’ Costello from the 2008 Australian season of the show recently came out and exposed some details behind the show. Weigh ins, depicted as a weekly event on the show, are actually filmed much further apart – the longest gap was three and a half weeks, and the shortest 16 days. Three and a half weeks, depicted as one week to Australian audiences. How do the producers of the show not realise how damaging that can be to viewers? I have visions of countless Aussies sitting at home watching and getting disheartened because they worked out like crazy all week and still didn’t lose even nearly as much as the contestants. The contestants were even told to say how well they’d done that ‘week’. I definitely think the show needs to be a little more realistic and transparent.

Cosi isn’t the first bring up the show’s bad points. In  2012 there was a war of words between ex-presenter Ajay Rochester and ex-contestant/winner Adro Sarnelli from the 2006 Australian season. If you believe the accusations, Adro was almost starving himself in the lead up to the finale and doing some pretty crazy things to lose weight. Similarly, USA season one winner Ryan Benson even went so far to win that he didn’t eat a single piece of solid food in the final ten days, instead living off ‘The Master Cleanse’ – water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. Kai Hibberd of USA season three also followed some pretty intense practices, not eating solid foods in the two weeks up to the final weigh in, getting two colonics and spending the night before the finale in and out of a sauna trying to dehydrate himself even more than he already had.

I don’t even really want to get started on the psychological and emotional side that such a crazy weight loss journey must have on the contestants. Transforming yourself is as much about changing your habits as anything else, and I feel that locking contestants away from the world isn’t going to help that. The real world is still out there waiting to tempt you. The only way to build self-control is to learn to say no, not hide away.

None of this is new news – most of it has been around for years. The more stories that come out though, the more it angers me. The producers and so-called professionals on these shows are ridiculous. How can they stand by and let the contestants treat their bodies so badly? They should have a duty of care and at the very least, a conscience. Health is more important than ratings and they should have said enough is enough.

To sum this little rant up, please, please don’t try and compare yourself to what you see on TV. It makes me so sad to know there are people out there getting upset because they don’t feel like they can measure up to what they see on television.

Sources: Shape.com, News.com.au (2), Girl’s Got Sole, Breaking Muscle

And so 2014 begins…

And what a big week it’s been! Now that the holiday season is over, I am getting back into routine and eating healthy. In terms of workouts, I’ve been doing my usual 6-day split of weights plus at least 15 minutes of HIIT/sprint intervals. I’m also back to tracking macros and making better food choices (no more trifle or pavlova!).

Until the last few weeks, I had been getting pretty lazy with cardio and doing almost none at all. I know it’s a necessary evil for my body type, but it’s something I don’t really enjoy doing. It definitely does pay off through. Apart from having the worst DOMS I’ve had in a while, I can already see I am getting leaner while still building muscle. I’ve also started putting more effort and attention towards my biceps, which are definitely my weakest muscle group.

I set aside some time over the last week to create some comparison images. It’s something I’ve put off for a long time as I was afraid the changes wouldn’t be as drastic as I wanted, but I’ve come to realise the changes are obvious, and the mental strength I’ve gained along the way is huge. I’m not sure I’m ready to share the actual body ones just yet, but here’s a face one I shared on my blog Facebook page a few days ago.

Face - Before and After Weight Loss

Neither of these are particularly flattering photos but that’s the point. Raw and unedited, but the difference is clear.

Apart from working on my own body, I’ve also been trying to motivate my family to make better food choices and made some awesome mini crustless quiches for snacks rather than chips. Not sure how great my motivational skills are, but we shall see!

Here’s a few posts from my instagram over the last few weeks. More are up on my instagram page here.

I’ve got a few posts in the works over the next few days, so stay tuned! x

Inspiration – Suck it up

Keeping yourself motivated – Tips for your transformation

Hi guys! This is actually a post I’ve had half-completed in my drafts for a little while, but decided to finish it off as it’s something I’ve been asked about a few times.

How did I get started on my weight loss journey and what do I do to stay motivated?

I really do think self-motivation is the biggest part of getting healthy and losing weight. I personally rank it above everything else as if you can’t motivate yourself to go to the gym or make better food choices, you’re stuck before you can even get going. So here’s a few of my top tips for getting started and keeping motivated when trying to lose weight/fat and get healthy.

Getting Started

Truth be told, there was no lightbulb moment that triggered the start of my journey. I was just sick of being overweight and miserable. Every day after work I’d sit on my butt (I work an office job so I already sit down all day) and make myself feel worse. I started at just over 82kg and had always hated the idea of joining a gym because I was sure everyone would stare and laugh at me. Guess what – no one is looking. And if they are, you can be rest assured knowing you’re working harder than them.

Once you do get going, you’ll find yourself getting addicted to the feeling of accomplishment after a good workout, and the satisfaction of seeing results or fitting into a smaller clothes size. I know even then it might he hard to stick to it and find motivation, but keep going!

1. Set your goals

Setting reasonable short and long term goals is a journey essential. Without a clear cut plan of what you need to do, you’ll just be aimlessly going in circles. Whether it’s to complete a 12 week program, lose 5kg or run 1km without stopping, having a goal and a plan laid out will be super helpful and give you something to work towards.

2. Plan and Prepare

On a previous plan that I was doing, we were told to sit down on a Sunday and write everything for the week in a diary and plan all our workouts and food. There are parts of this I agree with, and parts that are just not possible for me.

Planning foods and meals the week before – yes, definitely.
Planning workouts and other activities the week before – not so much.

I don’t know about everyone else, but most of the time I make plans fairly last minute (usually the day before the event). I have always said that I will not sacrifice my social life for the gym or a workout. I’m not a crazy socialite so planning workouts around socialising isn’t too big of a deal for me, but considering I have two hours a day of free time if I get up and commute at the normal time, I do need to make things fit a bit. Usually if I have something on during the week, I’ll get up earlier and get the early train to work so I can go to the city gym before I start work. This gets my workout over and done with, and even if it does mean getting up at 4:45am I still get to go see friends. Even if you can’t fit in your workout at another time of day, you might ask your friend/s to meet up later so you can get your workout in. Your friends will most likely be supportive of your goals.

Meal planning is a definite essential. I usually spend Sunday afternoons or whenever I can find some free weekend time preparing and cooking meals for the week. If I don’t, I end up having to buy my lunch at work, which is usually either Subway, Sumo Salad or similar. It ends up costing me a fair amount of money a day for something I could have made for half the price at home. If I can’t find time to plan my whole weeks worth of food over the weekend, I do it at least one day beforehand. I still make my snacks the night before I need them so they are fresh and ready to go. Even if I do have everything planned and packed, sometimes I still adjust my plan depending on what I feel like or but my lunch at work. The advantage of IIFYM is that if I feel like something – I can make room for it.

On a sort-of related note to planning, tracking your foods will help you immensely. It will keep you accountable and show you where you need to improve. I was absolutely horrified at how much I was overrating and how little nutrients my food had when I first starting diarising my meals. Luckily I’ve improved since then! I use myfitnesspal to track my foods both on my computer and on-the-go. It’s free and definitely recommended.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

3. Don’t beat yourself up too much

You’re only human. Making yourself feel super guilty for eating something ‘bad’ won’t fix anything, and will just stress you out. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the wagon.

4. Don’t compare yourself to others

No two people are alike. Sometimes your hard work doesn’t equal as much in results as it may for others. I was cursed with fairly average body genetics, slow metabolism and a pretty terrible level of coordination. My results will always take more work than someone who is already skinny and has a fast metabolism. It’s taken a lot for me to come to terms with that. I know it is disheartening when someone comes along, works half as hard and gets twice the results, but stick to it. You know how hard you’ve worked and so will your support network. Everyone else’s opinion is irrelevant.

5. Keep visual inspiration handy

I have the following networks for finding fitness inspiration:

Every time I feel like I can’t go workout or feel like giving into my sweet tooth, I look at my social media pages. Seeing other people’s transformations makes me want to work harder and be better. I especially like blogs like this one, which shows before and after photos that aren’t photoshopped or perfectly posed. I’ll try and get a post up soon with my favourite inspiration/fitspiration pieces.

6. Believe in yourself

Don’t ask yourself if you want to go workout – tell yourself you are going. When you feel down, tired and unmotivated, remind yourself how much better and accomplished you’ll feel once you’ve finished. Any workout is better than no workout. Any progress is progress.

When you feel like you can’t keep going, do one more rep. One more step. Keep telling yourself you can do it and believe you can, and you will. Use all the negativity and the people telling you that you can’t do it as fuel to prove them wrong.

Always remember how far you’ve come and where you started. When you’re feeling completely lost or like you’ve ruined your ‘diet’ completely, take a look back at some old photos or make a side by side comparison of your own before and after. Sometimes it’s not until you look closely that you realise just how well you are doing.

7. Don’t limit yourself too much

I’ve tried clean eating. I’ve tried straight up calorie counting and sticking to 1200 calories a day. And I’m not sure I could do it again, nor would I want to. I know they say that clean eating isn’t restrictive, and I totally agree that’s it’s great for you, but I am most definitely an IIFYM convert. I used to try and avoid dairy and eat only ‘clean’ foods, but it was damn hard and eventually I’d just cave and end up eating something a lot worse than I would if I’d allowed myself a small treat earlier. I now know that dairy is a great source of protein and is super versatile. I know that by choosing the right kinds of dairy, I can have it in my diet and it be beneficial for fueling my body. IIFYM has taught me that you don’t always have to be perfect, and if you feel like some chocolate or ice cream, you can have it, provided you make room for it within your daily macro targets. Admittedly, the reins aren’t as loose when you’re on fat loss targets, but a little reshuffling can still go a long way. If you are sticking to your fibre and protein targets, chances are you are eating a lot of great, wholesome foods anyway. I know I’m being a little preachy about this, but it’s one of the best choices I’ve made.

I’m sure there are a thousand more tips I could write, but maybe I’ll save them for another post. If you have any doubts or questions, it’s certainly worth talking to a dietician or doctor. These tips are just what has helped me.

Do you have your own weight loss tips or motivational tricks? Let me know in the comments below!

“Obese Stomachs Tell Us Diets Are Doomed to Fail” – ScienceDaily

According to a new study, the nerves in the stomach that signal fullness to the brain become desensitized when a high-fat diet is consumed and significant weight is gained (obesity). Even if the diet is corrected and fat lost, the nerves won’t go back to normal.

This means more food would need to be consumed to reach the same level of fullness as someone who has always had a healthy diet. Researchers think this could be one of the main reasons why a lot of people who lose weight/fat on a diet eventually put it back on.

More information is available through ScienceDaily here.

IIFYM and September Revolution Anniversary

As I posted on the Zero Steps Back Facebook page this morning, it was on this day last year that I decided to overhaul my diet and really get stuck into transforming my life. I signed up to the gym in March 2012 but until September, I just saw it as another excuse to eat crap food with a bit less guilt. I lost a little bit of weight, but I don’t think I was really getting any healthier.

In September, I wrote a blog article about my “September Revolution“. It was a joint effort by my boyfriend and I to both overhaul all the crappy foods we were eating and make some drastic changes to better ourselves.

I started counting calories and choosing more nutritious foods. Developing willpower was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, particularly in an office full of daily chicken-and-chip-eaters (who doesn’t love the smell of hot chips!?).

12 months on, I am much healthier, lighter and active. I have definitely been sucked in to the active lifestyle approach and the health/fitness/nutrition world.

These days I mostly just choose good foods and occasionally splurge a little, though I feel my lack of structure has been letting me down. So, I’m starting IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). I’ve gathered all the data, and actually started tracking today. Here’s my targets and stats:

Stats

  • BMR: 1449 CALORIES/DAY
  • TDEE: 2119 CALORIES/DAY

Targets

  • Target Calories Per Day: 1695 (20%)
    • 6 meals per day – Breakfast, Morning Snack, Lunch, Afternoon Snack, Pre-Gym, Post-Gym/Dinner
    • Carbs per day: 122.8g
    • Protein per day: 158.4g
    • Fat per day: 63.4g
    • Fibre per day: 32-40g

Data calculated at IIFYM.com. This is the ‘aggressive fat loss’ option. I’m going to start on this, and move onto the ‘suggested’ option.

I know it’s going to take a little getting used to, but I really like this style of ‘flexible dieting’. I always have trouble sticking to eating plans so at least this way I can have lots of variety.

I’ll try and post a weekly summary or something like that so hopefully in a years time, I can look back at this and see how far I’ve come.

Passion, perspective and comparison

I would love for this blog to be filled with great inspirational things and for me to be boasting about results, but for some reason a lot of the time it feels like I only ever get around to writing when things aren’t going so well.

I have really struggled the last few days. I don’t know if it’s just been a culmination of life overwhelming me and a general lack of willpower/motivation, or if it’s something else but it’s certainly come to a point today where I am feeling pretty horrible.

I have eaten some seriously crappy food in the last week. I didn’t really notice that these days, even if I do eat a takeaway meal, it’s usually only one meal and that’s it. This week was different. I was rushing around like mad, socialising and just generally bad with my food choices and ate probably 4 or 5 bad meals within 4 days. Perhaps this is why I’ve felt like an absolute whale today, or perhaps I am just having a mini self-esteem crisis. Potentially both. Either way, I can easily say I had one of my worst ever gym sessions tonight. I just couldn’t get the negativity out of my head and just felt like hiding every time I saw my reflection.

I posted a photo to my Instagram earlier, and I think what I wrote there really sums it up:

I have felt really crappy about myself these last few days. I think all too often I get caught up comparing myself to others and wishing I was the blonde naturally skinny girl with a perfect tan and smile. It’s frustrating because I know I’m being stupid, especially as I never give myself enough credit for managing the schedule I do, and yet here we are anyway. I need to mentally slap myself around some days I think…

The thing is, I spent a lot of time wishing I was naturally skinny and comparing myself to others. I get annoyed at myself for being freaking unlucky and ending up with the bulk of the unhelpful lifestyle traits (body shape, short legs, lack of coordination etc etc etc) and it really doesn’t help anything at all. Even now writing this, part of me knows these are things I cannot help but it doesn’t make me any less frustrated about it. All of these traits are what set me apart from others and make me who I am, they just happen to be traits that I would have much preferred to be reversed. Thinking about it now, this post is reminding me a lot of a post I wrote a while ago about choosing what people know/see/hear about you and projecting the image of a perfect life. It’s peoples’ projections that I end up comparing myself to, and then getting upset because I feel like I can’t measure up.

So here’s the bottom line. A word vomit of things I need to remember, if you will:

No two people are alike. Shit happens and there is no point in comparing yourself to someone who is naturally half your size, blonde and drop dead gorgeous. Everyone has their faults and flaws, and life is about making the most of the cards you’ve been dealt. Getting upset at yourself doesn’t help – dust yourself off and keep going. No one is perfect, no matter how much they try and make others think they are. 

I may not be the skinniest or the prettiest, but I have worked my ass off to get where I am and to get this far. 

Don’t lose track of how far you’ve come and remember changes don’t happen overnight.

Does weight loss change people?

1yr-wp

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Josh mentioned in conversation that I’ve changed since starting my weight loss/lifestyle change journey. He didn’t mean physically, but mentally and personality-wise. He was the one who motivated me to join the gym with him in the first place, so there’s no chance he meant it as an insult but I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since. Do people change after losing weight?

I’ll be the first to admit that although most of the time I make better choices for myself now, I would still love to eat chicken schnitzel and chocolate everyday. I will probably always prefer the taste of junk food to clean eating, and I am somewhat okay with that because I now have the willpower and mindset to know good nutrition beats satisfying a craving. And even if I do cave and eat certain foods, it’s not the end of the world and I just need to pick myself up, dust myself off and keep going. From the outset I have always said I am not going to sacrifice having a social life and if that means I have an unhealthy meal with friends occasionally, so be it.

I don’t know if I spent my spare time in the past just feeling sorry for myself, but these days I find myself researching and reading articles about the latest fitness and health news and learning about the many different aspects to living a healthier life. If someone had told me even just two years ago that I would be spending my spare time researching Crossfit or Bodybuilding or clean eating I would have laughed in their face. For so many years the mentality that because of my lack of coordination or less-than-athletic body shape I could never be even remotely good at anything to do with exercise was something that I had just accepted. These days, I have learnt to try not to compare myself to others (i’ll admit, it’s hard… I am a woman after all) and that with a little time and hard work, I might even get to a point where I will feel that I am good at all of this.

I mean the following in the very least offensive way possible, let me just be clear. Sometimes I feel as though because I have (up until more recently) always been the least fitness and/or athletic minded person in my family and in groups of friends over the years, that people just shrug me off and think I’ll go back to the way I was. I know there are some huge hurdles ahead of me, but proving people wrong and that element of surprise is such a motivation. I don’t plan on stopping till I am happy with my body and have some sort of physique I can be proud of. For once, I want to be the fit one. I want to be the one people say they want to look like.

I don’t think I’ve reached some turning point in my life. I think I’ve just teetered over the edge of a world full of barbells and supplements and into some other far out world. I’m certainly in no way some health nut… most days it takes me a good hour of commuting to talk myself into going to the gym instead of going home to bed, but I get there. I still cave for bad foods when I want them, but I know what I need to do to get results.

All this talk about myself has gotten me distracted from my original point. But I guess my rambling has answered my question. I think people really do change when they lose weight, but only because it’s not just about losing weight or losing fat. It’s about changing your lifestyle and emerging yourself in the whole nutrition and fitness culture. I suppose I could have just joined a gym, cut out bad foods and just stuck with that, but I find nutrition and the way exercise affects that body completely fascinating. I guess I could say working towards a healthier lifestyle has become a hobby of mine. As absolutely bizarre as that sounds to the old me, the new me doesn’t mind at all. Who would have thought!?

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