You asked: Cardio versus strength training for fat loss

I am not sure if you have heard, but you do not need to run to be thin. But cardio, more accurately aerobic exercise, is often promoted as THE BEST STRATEGY for weight loss. Aerobic exercises are touted as:

  • Burning more calories in a shorter period of time.
  • Cheap, all you need is a pair of shoes and ground to walk all.
  • Supposedly higher fat burning.
  • And more.

The truth is that long duration, aerobic activities are not the most effective, efficient strategies for fat loss.

I could tell you all the benefits of strength training. But you can Google that and come up with some pretty respectable answers. What I want to tell you are a few reasons  WHY strength training is better than aerobic exercise for fat loss and weight maintenance.

EPOC

After exercise , the body continues to need oxygen at a higher rate than before the exercise began. This sustained oxygen consumption is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Because of this, the body continues to expend energy after exercise and therefore burn calories. Research shows that EPOC is greater after resistance training than it is after aerobic exercises – likely as a result of greater intensity and disruption to the body’s homeostasis.

While you may burn more calories during 30 minutes of aerobic training than you will with 30 minutes of strength training (not always the case!), you will burn more calories in the hours following strength training than you will in the hours following aerobic training because of EPOC.

MORAL: Strength training ultimately burns more calories than aerobic training.

Muscle burns calories – fat does not

I know you have heard it, “Muscle burns more calories than fat.” I hate this phrase – because it implies that fat would burn some amount of calories. It does not!

CLICK HERE to read the rest of this post.

Want to see results from only working out 3-5 hours a week? It’s possible! I have done it and so have many of my clients.

Like what you read? I’ve moved my blog! Please visit me at Better By Becca for more content.

Learning the value of – ME

I am feeling gratitude. I am feeling blessed.

These last few years been rough – but good. I had to throw my plan out the window – the career I was working  for was crumbling under my feet and I had to spread my wings to fly. I took myself across the country to experience the East Coast. I left everything familiar behind. I sold and stored my belongings – packing my life into my car. This experience was priceless.

I met one of my best friends – without her I would be lost.

I met a colleague, with whom I have endless conversations about the demise of our industry and our passions and visions for ourselves. He has been an indispensable resource.

I drove from Wisconsin to New York. Then From New York to Texas. Then Texas to Minnesota. In search of something that I did not know. I ultimately found it in Wisconsin.

Recently, during a discussion with my colleague – who is currently in Ohio, it occurred to me that I was in search of my value. MY value. I had to drive quite a ways, but I found it.

The things I learned

There are countless things that I learned. But there are several that have been ‘life-changing.’ I love how I can look back on my difficult times and see how they are blessings. I can remember dealing with knee pain and surgeries, thinking: why, why, WHY? But today, I am a much better trainer and coach because of that experience. I am much more invested in injury prevention, knowing the struggles of the aftermath. I wouldn’t exchange the years of pain for anything! But, what did my cross-country journey teach me?

I learned how to build and maintain relationships.

I learned to be confident in what I know.

I learned who my true friends are – some of this was very painful.

I learned how to let go.

I learned to enjoy downtime – something that otherwise had made me anxious.

I learned to be slow to talk (ok, so I am still working on this one).

I learned to stand up for what I believe in – this was moreso solidified.

I learned what my dietary needs were – and that I had fine-tuned my body far better than I had realized.

I learned that you can call yourself an expert, and very few will no whether you are or not.

I learned that the people in Texas really ARE the friendliest people you will ever meet.

I learned that I have a strong Wisconsin accent – although most of those telling me this had never met a true midwesterner – so they may be in for a shocker someday.

I learned how to say when enough is enough.

I learned MY VALUE.

The bottomline

I was called back to my home state. The former clients who have been displaced. I could not turn my back to the plethora of opportunities: writing, training, coaching, business development, corporate wellness, and MORE!

What is my value? I cannot quite put it into words. But I know that I offer something that very few do. When asked who my local competition is, I can confidently say: NO ONE. No one else does what I do, how I do it.

And that feels good.

Are group fitness classes effective?

I taught two group fitness classes yesterday morning. Back to back. I do this most Saturdays. Out of curiosity, I wore my heart rate monitor this time. First, I wanted to see how high my heart rate got during some of the exercises I selected for the TABATA class. I did not intend for the heart rate to get too high, and it didn’t. Second, I was curious as to how many calories I would burn during two hours of teaching – two classes that I heavily participate in.

When I stopped my heart rate monitor at 2 hours and 2 minutes, I was disappointed: 890 calories. To give you some perspective, my average 45-60 minute workout burns 500-700 calories. Granted, this was not the same intensity, nor designed to be my workout, but it led me to think critically about whether my classes were adequate and appropriate – and about the overall effectiveness of group fitness.

Intended outcome?

Why do most individuals attend group fitness classes? Most have the goal to lose weight. Are group fitness classes targeting that goal? I believe that the answer to this question is complicated – it is both yes and no.

For example, depending on the exercise selection, TABATA can be a effective and efficient workout. I perform this form of high intensity interval training on a regular basis. I design my classes in an equally effective manner (with a lesser degree of intensity). BUT, if a member comes to my Saturday morning class and this is the 8th class she has been to this week, will it be effective? Will the intended outcome be reached? Probably not.

Desired results far too uncommon

I have been in and out of my fair share of gyms. When you are a group fitness instructor, by default you end up filling in at what seems to be every workout facility within a 30-mile radius. And unfortunately, I have seen very few members achieve their desired results. Weight loss. Improved fitness. Very few group fitness programs will get you this results. Even more disheartening, is that I would see the same faces over and over – watching some individuals attend 8-10 hours of classes a week – with no results. Sadly, most of these individuals are overtraining. Some are undernourished due to extending periods of dieting and/or yo-yo dieting. Most are frustrated and at a loss for what else to do.

Solution

It is pretty simple. While I am not a proponent of many group fitness classes, I will not suggest that you forgo the classes. I will recommend the following:

  1. Attend NO MORE than 4 group fitness classes a week. Most group fitness classes target the same muscles, energy systems, etc. and miss the same muscle groups, form, technique, and energy systems.
  2. Research your instructor – ONLY take classes led by degreed and certified professionals. This one may be tough. There are some good instructors out there who do not have degrees, they have been fanatics for years and they bring good energy and great intentions. But generally speaking, you want to work with someone who has been trained to manage situations as they arise – providing variety that is safe, efficient, and effective.
  3. Work with a qualified trainer first. While working with a qualified personal trainer long term is not always financially feasible, it is in your best interest to invest the time and money into a few (3-12) foundational sessions with a trainer. A qualified trainer will teach you form and technique that the group fitness instructor simply is unable to provide in the setting (some know your form is off but are not able to correct form on every person every hour). With this investment, you will gain valuable knowledge that you can bring with you and ensure that you get the most out of your workout.
  4. Wear a heart rate monitor. Sweat is not indicative of a good workout – however most group fitness class attendees use sweat as the measure of whether the workout was good. It is not the only indicator. Neither is soreness the only nor the best indicator of a good workout. What else can you measure? Your heart rate. Target heart rates are highly individual – for more specifics please contact me personally.
  5. Change? If you have been going to the same class for years – it is time for something new!
  6. Give it your all. Some times a group class can become social hour. While this is not all bad, remember why you are there and give it 100%!

The bottomline

Not all group fitness classes are bad. These classes can be a great way to build community support and accountability. But if you are a regular attendee, be honest as to whether you are getting the results for the time and energy you put into the work. If you go to classes every day, and are not getting the results you desire, you may be overtraining – or simply inefficiently training.

I love group fitness classes – that is how I got my start. (It is also the reason I suffered overuse injuries and eventually elected to have surgery.) Follow the 6 recommendations above and you can get the most out of those classes!

Like what you read? Please comment and share below.

Learning to love

What has love got to do with it? Yes, my blog is about health and fitness – but with this coincides love. Self love. Accepting love of others. Recognizing love. Feeling as though you are deserving of love – and more. Many of our unhealthy eating and other behaviors are cheap substitutes for love (to learn more, visit Geneen Roth‘s site). And with this, I open my heart.

It was not until I was almost 22 when I decided that I needed to learn what love was, and in turn how to love. Born into a loveless home, I had been raised with no idea what love was. It was something I saw in movies – but I literally believed that it only existed in movies (to the likeness of unicorns and fairies).

We have all heard, you must love yourself before you can expect anyone else to. But it is kind of like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Self-help books and therapists will advise you to draw support from others when you are working on loving yourself. Okay – so what if you do not have others whom you trust and know love you? For those who have never lived it – you may think that I am imagining and exaggerating that no one loved me during that time of my life. You might say that it was only in my delusioned mind. When in fact, it was my perception and very much my reality.

Therapists often guide you to accept that your parents or others loved you the best they knew how. That may be true. Did and do my parents love me? I suppose in their own way. If either of them chose today as the first day to physically say the words to me, I doubt I would believe them.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

NOTE: Nothing about this post is related to a godly or otherwise religious love. This is strictly referencing familial and romantic love between and among humans.

What I thought love was

Having never heard the words. Having never felt the physical components (e.g., hugs and kisses). I thought love was respect and obedience. I thought that love was to submit to another’s demands. When I was 20, I became engaged to a man who made me feel exactly how my mother made me feel – invaluable. This is all I had known. At that time, having been told by ‘professionals’ that my mother had loved me the only way she knew how, I just assumed that this is how he knew how to love me. I in turn generalized it to be how everyone loves.

I did not end up marrying this man – thank goodness! I cannot describe a particular ah-ha moment or epiphany. I just knew that ‘love’ could not possibly make one feel badly about herself.

And so the journey goes

Ten years later, and I am still not sure that I know what love is. I know there are different dimensions of love. I am not sure that I know HOW to love.

Years of therapy taught me that I needed to increase my vulnerability in order to build deep, meaningful (loving) relationships with others (romantic and platonic alike). During my childhood I built up walls. I can remember once telling a brother that he hurt my feelings. His response, “Put your feelings in a Ziploc bag and stick them in the dresser next to your bed because no one cares.” I have no idea how old I was, but I do know that it stuck with me all these years.

Learning to love

Learning to love has not been an easy journey for me. I have loved with all of my heart – and then hurt. I have done it again – and then been hurt. I have loved with patience, obedience, and respect – simply to be abandoned overnight.

And yet I continue to chose love over anger and hate. I could hate the one(s) who abandoned me, but I do not. I choose love.

The bottomline

I have been spending a great deal of time in introspection – asking myself what love is to me. What do I want it to be and what does it look like in my life? I am seeing love in places that I perhaps never saw them before. I am expecting different results. My eyes and heart are more wide open and willing to accept the love that is already there — and love that has never failed —

Which comes first – Exercise or nutrition?

The answer is very dependent on the individual and their current behaviors.

If you forced me to choose, I would choose nutrition (yes, the lesser of my expertise). As a society, we are accustomed to convenience food – psychologically and physically. I know individuals who do not eat vegetables. I know others who consume large quantities of Lean Cuisines. I worked in corporate America and had coworkers who ate fast-food EVERY DAY for lunch. I know individuals who do not cook. I know individuals who do not even own ovens or stoves with which to cook. I know individuals who do not eat. For most of these individuals, the best decision is to begin modifying nutrition.

Conversely, I know individuals who eat extremely well, but do not exercise. With a strong foundation in healthful nutritional habits, these individuals can focus on exercise and improved fitness.

There are the individuals who eat poorly and have never exercised, and managed to remain thin for most of their life. We all know someone like this. And then it hits – for women usually before or around menopause – unfamiliar weight gain. The naturally thin persons, having gained weight only at an older age, are probably my most challenging client population. They have never dealt with diets. Most have never stepped foot into a gym. You might think, “Great! A Blank Slate!” Sadly, not so great. Unless this client happens to also have a medical concern, it is incredibly difficult for the individual to see the need to alter nutrition. Having always been able to eat mindlessly – we are combating YEARS of unhealthy habits.

As humans, we do not like change. I know I do not like change. Change is hard. Imagine having had successful habits for 40+ years – and having me tell you that those once successful habits need to change because they are no longer tolerated by your body. You know it is true before I tell you, but you do not like the idea of change.

Further, in the Midwest, we are not afraid to work – we will work hard, for gain or no gain, because that was how we were raised. This same client, she will work her bum off during the 2-3 hours she spends with me at the gym each week. She will even work her bum off at the other activities I assign for her. But she will eat just the same as she has always eaten – and she will fight me tooth and nail on nutritional changes. Her results? The chances are she will not lose any weight.

Why are nutritional changes more difficult?

Have you ever thought about why nutritional changes are so much more difficult than increasing physical activity?

The act of eating involves its own reward system – as we digest and sugar enters our blood stream, our happy hormones (e.g., dopamine) are released into the brains reward center. Food makes you feel good – psychologically speaking. The positive feeling reinforces our eating behaviors (whether we realize it or not). Most individuals eat 5+ times a day – and have for their entire lives. Eating is a solidly established habit (i.e., behavior). Nutritional changes require behavior modifications; whereas, increased physical activity more often than not requires behavior increases or additions.

Often times, individuals can exhaust undesired behaviors through extinction and/or completely avoiding the behavior. Example, quitting smoking cold turkey. While this is not easy – it is easier that trying to change a behavior that you MUST engage in 5+ times a day. You must eat. Sometimes you have to learn to eat more often than you ever have before – meaning that you have more exposure to your food triggers.

Which comes first? ‘Stability’ skills

Research shows that most individuals do not maintain a weight loss for a significant period of time. This can be attributed to the perspective that it takes so much work to maintain a ‘deprived state’ (Kernan et al., 2012). Researchers taught individuals stability skills (i.e., being savvy, enjoying healthy lifestyle habits, making peace with the scale, and fine tuning lifestyle habits) prior to entering a behavior-based weight loss program. Results at six and twelves months showed that the individuals who learned stability skills had greater maintenance success than those who did not learn the skills.

What does this mean, you ask? They educated individuals on the basic principles of energy balance, nutrition, and physical activity (i.e., being savvy) prior to beginning weight loss. Knowledge is powerful! Individuals also began making small changes to nutrition – without necessarily depriving their minds or bodies – allowing their bodies and minds to adjust to the changes. Small steps like these can make big change a whole lot less earth shattering!

The bottomline 

First, change does not happen over night. Sometimes we have to make little changes on our way to a big change. I liken this to my need to ween myself from 2% milk – first to 1% and finally skim. Second, education is the first step to change. Learn about nutrition and small changes you can make – adding vegetables to each meal? – and move forward with confidence!

References

Kiernan, M., Brown, S. D., Schoffman, D. E., Lee, K., King, A. C., Taylor, C. B., Schleicher, N. C., & Perri, M. G. (2012). Promoting Healthy Weight With “Stability Skills First”: A Randomized Trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0030544.

Is a calorie really just a calorie?

We live in a chaotic world, convinced that we’re too busy to make a sandwich let alone thaw and bake chicken.  This makes the convenience of vending machines and drive-thrus all too alluring. And eating something must be better than eating nothing at all, right? Making good food choices is hard.

According the annual Gallup Health Poll, nearly 6 in 10 Americans would like to lose weight. The weight loss industry takes in $40 billion a year. But yet we spend over $130 billion on fast food each year.

Individuals often choose exercising over dieting when trying to lose weight. However, exercising is just one piece of the equation. The best way to lose weight and decrease you body’s set point is to decrease the number of calories you take in and to increase the number of calories burned. Nutrition is the first piece that trips most individuals up and it can be ohhh so frustrating. I cannot tell you how many of my friends, clients, acquaintances, etc. claim to eat very little and not lose weight. One reason for this is the quality of foods you may be eating and not so much the quantity of it.

Infomercials, magazines, and social media bombard us with fad diets—most emphasizing reduced calorie consumption. The quantity of calories you take in is critical for fat loss or weight management (i.e., altering your set point), but the quality and source of those calories is just as important. All calories are not created equal. The food that you eat is fuel for your body, giving you the calories needed to support basic body functions, workouts, and overall good health. Don’t starve yourself!

Empty calories…

To achieve your goals, you want a diet rich in good calories and low in empty calories. Empty calories are foods high in calories but low in nutritional value. They are calories largely based in fats and sugars, devoid of vitamins, minerals, and important macronutrients. Empty calories simply have none of the elements necessary for optimal living and functioning. As a result, they leave you feeling sluggish and tired—making it harder to achieve your goals.

Good calories…

Eating the right foods will result in improved energy and optimal muscle gains. Good calories and good sources of macronutrients contain the necessary carbohydrates, good fats, and proteins. Essential macronutrients also include fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

How do you find foods containing these essential macronutrients?

The solution…

It is actually quite simple: Eat a well-balanced diet filled with as many real foods as possible. Real foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible. Real foods typically do not contain added ingredients nor preservatives, such as sugar, salt, or fat.

A few tips to help you spot and avoid empty calories:

  • All ‘junk food’ is empty calories. Eliminate it.
  • Look out for beer and alcohol. These are sources of sugar and stored fats with nothing else to offer.
  • Avoid deep-fried foods. Eat a baked potato instead of fries or a baked chicken breast instead of fried chicken.
  • Avoid candy and ALL sugary drinks (e.g., soda, fruit drinks). These all contain loads of calories from sugar, but not much else.
  • Eat whole grains instead of refined grains. Whole grains are packed with beneficial fiber and antioxidants. Replace white bread with whole wheat bread. Have a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal instead of corn flakes.
  • Snack on fruits! Dip them in low-fat yogurt for additional calcium and protein.

The bottomline…

You cannot eat Special K for every meal and expect to lose weight. A – You would consume too many carbohydrates. B -You would be consuming too few total calories but too many empty calories. C – You would be missing vital minerals and nutrients.

So set yourself up for success. I can sum it up into four tips.

  1. Eat REAL food.
  2. Eat ENOUGH food.
  3. Eat lots of VEGETABLES!
  4. Increase your activity level.

NOTE: If you have seen the commercial 100 times and it is sold in a center isle, the chances are it is empty. For example, Special K crackers and chips, rice cakes, Skinny Cow snacks, etc. Their marketing experts are prey and your love of food and feeding the very behaviors you are trying to eliminate as you work towards your goals. Don’t let them be your predator – take back the control!

Are you earning your calories?

I have another pet peeve. This idea of EARNING the amount of calories you expend – essentially rewarding yourself with food. Many of the popular food tracking applications (and even some medical weight loss programs e.g., HCG programs) motivate you by encouraging you to EARN additional calories through exercise. The more calories you expend – the more calories you can add to your day. This is deceitful. This is a trick. This is a flat out LIE.

I have discussed your body’s weight set point, which regulates alongside your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate), and other physiological functions. Eating consistent quantities – less than you have previously eaten – and regular activity is what will lower your set point. And it is changing your set point that is critical for sustainable weight loss.

The lies revealed…

I inconsistently experiment with MyFitnessPal (MFP) when I feel I am not consuming enough calories. According to yesterday’s summary, I had a 1164 calorie deficit. BULLS&*T. My logged physical activity (which by the way is completely inaccurate) EARNED me an additional 856 calories. MFP does not calculate caloric expenditure for strength training – therefore I did not EARN any additional calories for lifting heavy things and putting them down. Considering that lean muscle mass is what burns the calories, this is quite humorous to me.

NOTE: I did manipulate the default caloric and macronutrient needs to fit what I have determined for myself – the generic settings are not suitable for all, particularly not for the especially active.

MFP congratulated me and told me that if I make every day like yesterday that I would weigh 138.9 pounds in 5 weeks. Yesterday I was 153 pounds. The math from the girl who hates math:

153 – 138.9 = 14.4

14.4/5wk = 2.82 lb/wk

A one pound weight loss requires a 3500 calorie deficit.

1164 c x 7 days = 8148 c

8148 c / 3500 c = 2.3 pounds

So yes, MFP is working from the basic mathematical logic. They got the math almost correct!

Problem 1. I know my body, and I know that if I maintain a daily 1000+ calorie deficit I will gain weight as a result of my body going into starvation mode.

Problem 2. They have done the superficial math but what about macronutrient ratios? If I take in enough calories, but not sufficient protein for my muscular growth, I will gain weight. If I do not consume enough calories and still consume too little protein, I will gain weight. If my calories are on but I never eat vegetables, it could go either way. I could go on with examples, but I believe you can see my point.

With that said – what happens if I eat the calories MFP told me I EARNED? Would I lose weight? Would I gain weight? Would I maintain?

The impact…

These programs are preying on a society obsessed with food – large portions, added sugars, and more. “I can eat this cake because I went to the gym and burned it off – I EARNed it.” WRONG. Again, one of the crucial components of a lowered weight set point is a reduction in calories consumed.

Have you been eating the calories you EARN through physical exercise? How are your results? The chances are that your results are not what you would hope for, given the amount of work you are putting in. Do you feel defeated? At a loss? Like a failure? Frustrated?Sick and tired? Not worth the effort? Does an effective weight loss program elicit these feelings? Absolutely not. These lies you have been told are not setting you up for success – they are in fact setting you up for failure. (This truly saddens my heart; I wish it were illegal.)

If you have been consuming EARNED calories, STOP NOW!!! You will thank me next week.

There is a fix…

Determine your caloric and macronutrient needs. If you need to, consult with an RD – a priceless investment in yourself. The absolute best way to know how many calories you need to maintain your current weight set point is to know your lean body mass. How do you determine this? Body composition testing – NOT BMI. You see, only your muscles need energy (i.e., calories) to sustain. If you consume more than your lean mass requires, it will be stored for later (it is a bit more complicated than this, but you get the idea).

The bottomline…

Do not fall for the marketing! Do not let this world lie to you! We do not EARN food. Determine what your caloric needs are and stick with them – and do not forget to reassess this need when you have significant changes in body composition. Then, control your deficit through physical activity and expenditure.

Activity increases making you hungry? Eat more leafy greens – very few calories and they can sure fill you up!

Final thoughts –

Do you think that calorie counting alone is good strategy for weight loss?

Do you still want to count calories at all?

The never-ending weight loss struggle?

I want to lose weight. “But you do not need to lose weight,” you say? I know that I do not NEED to lose weight, but I want to. As I work towards my 2013 goals and my mildly ambiguous goal of being in the best shape of my life for my 30th birthday, I want to lose weight. I have managed to lose the weight that I gained during my time working at a weight loss resort (kind of ironic, huh?). And I am back to my body’s favored set point – 152 pounds. And I feel stuck here. I know you can all relate to this feeling.

Progress Pic 1/18/2013 - eek!

Progress Pic 1/18/2013 – eek!

Specifically for goals 3 – 10 strict pullups and 5 – bench press my body weight, my optimal weight is 145. NOTE: this is not a random number I pulled from a hat, but is based on numerical calculations and realistic improvements I can expect in the given time I have allowed myself.

My body likes 152, and it has for years. Our bodies have ‘set points’ that our brain (specifically the hypothalamus) works to maintain, through sending signals related to energy intake (i.e., eating and nutrition), hormone levels, and energy expenditure (i.e., exercise; Harris, 1990). I know that my energy expenditure far exceeds that of a typical individual – mostly because that is what I seem to have the most control over! The hormones associated with your set point can be regulated – to a certain degree – through diet and exercise. And knowing such, I continue to tell myself that my dietary routine needs to be tweaked in order to reach my 145 pound goal.

WRONG!

Harris (1990) notes that “regulation of body weight in relation to one specific parameter related to energy balance is unrealistic.” I can attest to this. Over the last several weeks I have made various modifications to my already well-balanced and healthy meal plan. That 152 pounds is lingering (with 2-3 pound fluctuations, which is typical for females. Sorry!). It is remaining steady. My set point is holding strong!

One can change his/her set point through modifications of both intake and output (Keesey & Hirvonen, 1997). So if I alter my energy expenditure along with my dietary intake, and maintain an altered body weight for long enough, I can change the set point. But I MUST do both – nutrition and physical activity modifications. Research shows that changes in nutrition alone do not alter an individual’s set point and will ultimately result in an individual returning to the most recent ‘comfortable’ and consistent set point within weeks (Keesey & Hirvonen, 1997).

The bottomline…

Notice, the research I reference is not new. Nor is the research that each of these articles references. Moral of the post – THIS IS NOT NEWS. Experts have known this forever! So why do so many of the fad diets and gimmicks focus solely on dietary consumption? Good question if you ask me!

The truth is that I spent years wanting to be 140 pounds. I had let that go a couple of years back, realizing the incredible discipline it would since I was not willing to reduce my muscle mass. But I have tried – again and again – to lose 5-7 pounds. Going from 163 to 152 was easy. Returning to my set point took nearly no effort (e.i., implementing previously mastered disciplinary skills). But to change that set point – although it feels impossible – I am going to make it happen! And you can too!

References

Harris, H. B. (1990). Role of set-point theory in regulation of body weight. FASEB ], 4. 3310-3318.

Keesey, R. E., & Hirvonen, M. D. (1997). Body weight set-points: Determination and adjustment. J. Nutr. 127(9). 1875S-1883S.

Letting go is NOT giving up

Many of us have great difficulty letting go. Letting go closely resembles quitting or giving up, yet these are not synonymous. Unfortunately, knowing this doesn’t free our thoughts and feelings from relating them. I, for one, am terrible at letting go of things I love and value. I don’t want to let go of things that give me comfort or allow me to experience that feel good feeling. But how often are the things in life that we love and value actually harmful? How many of us love someone who often hurts us? How many of us find comfort in our daily routines, afraid to step out into something different? Yet sometimes we easily give up – for example on diets, exercise regimes, Bible studies, school, jobs, etc. It is almost as if we hold onto what is easy and give up on what we perceive as hard…and then often finding ourselves needing to start over.

If you're tired of starting over, stop giving up.

I think that something can be said about allowing something other than God to have too much control or power over our feelings of happiness and comfort. With all the significant change I have been going through recently, it often feels like I’m quitting time and time again. I am one who sticks to commitments through the dire end. But I have been in a few situations that have challenged my morality and integrity – both as a professional and as a woman – and in which I have had to strongly consider letting go of those commitments. How do we know for ourselves when we are letting go rather than giving up? One way of thinking about this is to think of letting go as an act of giving it to God. I’ve had a couple of relationships that I have had to let go of this past year. I can honestly say that I let go, because I implemented some healthy boundaries and I put the next steps in those relationships into God’s hands. I also equate giving up to being easy to do and letting go to being more difficult. Lastly, I would say that giving up leaves me feeling uneasy, whereas letting go provides a sense of relief.

What are some of the reasons we quit or give up? I am known to quit when I think that I am not good at something, feel like I’m not perfect and as a result will fail. I tend to quit, kidding myself that when it is my choice it is easier to cope with the failure. The truth is, it’s not easier. Another truth is, I am more than likely NOT failing at whatever it may be.

So how do you know you are letting go versus giving up? I think we all need some assistance clarifying the difference.

Isaiah 55: 9 “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

More often than not, life transitions suck

Life transitions are stressful. Moving and job changes rank in the realms of the loss of a loved one. With that in mind, I might be a stress (adrenaline?) junkie. As we near the end of 2012, I can say I have experienced a lot of change in the past two years:

  1. Began graduate school, initially part-time, while working a full-time plus and a part-time job.
  2. 4 months later – quit my stable and secure full-time job in favor of a more risky position that would provide me more flexibility for school and the ability to work from home.
  3. 1 month later – complete meltdown from at-home work. Quit full-time job, began full-time graduate school, picked up hours at part-time job (which quickly became full-time).
  4. 3 months later – left independent living to begin renting from an acquaintance – ROOMMATE!!!
  5. 1 year 7 months later – pack up everything for storage or my road trip to NY for a 3 month position. Live in a hotel…21-year-old roommate…
  6. 4 months later – drive to San Antonio, briefly live in a 2-bedroom apartment with 3 other people, work in a resort, and FAIL.

I can laugh about it now, because it is one of those laugh or cry type of situations. While I have a plethora of options, none are all that appealing. And as I look for work the biggest decision of all is what to do in the meantime. Stay in Texas..back to New York…home to Wisconsin…or none of the above. The positive is that I am the only one depending on me. But that sure is overwhelming. And stressful.

How do I cope? How do I find direction and clarity in a time of such uncertainty? I have the song lyrics in my head, should I stay or should I go now… because I just don’t know what to do. For most decisions in my life, I’ve made a list of pros and cons for the options. Any day could be the day that I move and have a place to go…until then, I am quite tempted to get a job at Starbucks…coffee makes me happy! But I am ready to settle. I am ready to have a place to call home and make mine. Because transitioning from one place to the other, living in other people’s homes, really sucks.