Sunday, October 28, 2012

What tools are you packing?

In your diet tool belt that is. There are many tips and tricks that I find helpful to meet my weekly calorie goals. Today I want to share a few of them with you.

1. Volumetric Eating
I like to eat big. Especially in the evenings, I like to feel satisfied and full after a meal. Volumetric eating does that for me. It is the idea that you fill out calorie dense food with less calorically dense foods. For example, I love mexican food but if I have 300 calories of nachos, I am not going to feel full. That is like 10 chips, 1 oz of cheese, and 1 oz of ground beef. Pffff. Sorry, but that does not do it for me. So what I do instead is Volumetric my meal right up. I do a HUGE taco salad (no shell!) with lots of shredded lettuce, sauteed onion and bell pepper, and salsa. Keep the meat. Lose the cheese, add about a TBSP of guacamole and sour cream. If I really need the crunch that night, I will count out 4 or 5 chips on the side to eat along side my salad.  This is a huge bowl for the same amount of calories.

We can apply this idea to almost any meal. Basically at night, I eat whatever my family is eating and just fill in with veggies. Breakfast for dinner, sure. Sautée a huge pan of asparagus, onion, mushrooms, and spinach. Add an egg whipped with 4 oz of egg white and top with 0.5 oz cheese. This makes one huge omelette that covers my plate and is maybe 250 calories, my husbands cheesy omelette and biscuit is easily double the calories and half the size.  If you want more info or ideas, check out the book The Volumetrics Eating Plan by Dr. Barabara Rolls. She has a couple of newer boos about Volumetrics out too, most libraries carry them.

2. Intermittent Fasting
I have an inner fat kid inside who is alive and well. It is easier for me to say that I am not eating than to say that I am only having this.much of something.  Crazy, maybe. But do not knock it until you try it for yourself. Brad Pilon, author of Eat Stop Eat, came up with the idea of weekly 24h mini-fasts as a way to control your weekly calorie intake. Sounds harder than it actually is. Basically eat dinner one night, then stop eating until dinner the next night. Do not eat more than you normally would before or after the fast, just eat like it never happened. Pilon recommends 2-3 per week. The great side effect is that these allow you a little extra food on other days and still make your weekly calorie goal! There is also some great hormone action going on from what Pilon has found in his research.

This is a tool you may want to play with to find what works best for you. I generally prefer 36h fasts once per week. It is easier to just take my break from eating for the whole day, it is hard for me to eat a normal dinner. Sleeping overnight completely resets my hunger, as it does for most. I love to wake up and see that big whoosh on the scale and take measurements. Some others prefer breakfast to breakfast 24h fasts, and others prefer lunch to lunch. Try out all of them and see what you like.

Another play on IF is an eating "window." My friend Ro at liked to only eat from about 3-8 p.m. each day when she was cutting fat. Basically it is a 19h daily fast from 8 at night to 3 the next day. It is doing the same thing though- helping you control your calories. Many studies have shown that we have the most willpower in the morning, so eating windows are a great idea.

3. Calorie Banking
Since we are looking at our calories over a week instead of daily, this allows you some flexibility in how you "spend" your calories. A big event coming up with weekend with lots of yummy treats? Most dieters worst nightmare, but you can plan ahead and partake in the fun. For example- if my calorie goal is 7000 cals per week- I might eat 250 cals less per day Mon-Wed, fast for 36h all day Thurs, eat normally on Friday (~1000 cal), and voila- Saturday I have 2750 calories "saved" for the event... That is A LOT of calories too. Most of us would probably not even plan that many! But you will come in for the week on plan right at 7000 calories.

Inspirational Story of the Week
Meet my friend April. She has struggled with emotional eating and more recently binging which ties back to some very hard times that she has experienced. April is here to tell you that you can overcome your past, and transform your body. She has lost weight in the past by extreme workouts (marathon running and biking sessions ontop of intense lifting days) that left her exhausted and with little time for her family and friends.  When she found VI she did not believe it would work for her. She actually entered the contest to prove John Barban (creator of VI) wrong and show him that it does not work for everyone. She did the absolute minimum expectations for the workouts and diet. Zero cardio, only the phase 1 workouts 3 times per week. Guess what happened? Look below and see for yourself:

April is a mother, nurse, and fitness instructor. She has tried it all diet and fitness-wise. Listen to her podcast here and listen to her story:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Progress Report Time!

So my sweet, hard working girls that have committed to do 12 weeks of the Venus Index Phase 1 workouts with me- we are a third of the way done! Officially. Today. 4 weeks and 2 days down. You only have 7 weeks and 1 workout to go. Seriously. Where did time go?! 

In school, I hand out progress reports to my students every 3 weeks to let them know how they are doing. I am going to refrain from playing teacher, and would like you to grade yourselves honestly. 

How are you doing in these key areas?
1. Calories below RMR weekly
2. 3 VI workouts per week, at least
3. Keeping track of your metrics (calorie logging daily, measurements/weight weekly)
4. Reading/listening to motivational and inspirational materials- blog, VI podcasts, VI website, etc.

Here is where I was at this point in my 12 week contest:
Age: 27 Height 5’9”WeightShouldersWaistHipsWeekly CalsWeekly WOFastingHours
Start VT5                  155.0 41.0 29.0 39.0         12,644 3 VI 3 C        48
Week 2 D1                150.2 41.5 28.5 38.5          8,213 2 VI 3 C         48
Week 3 D1                148.2 41.0 28.5 38.5          7,239 4 VI 3 C         120
Week 4 D2                147.0 41.0 28.0 37.875      7,244 4 VI 3 C          72
GOALS                      ~140 42.65 26.36 37.43     5700-7350 3 VI 2 C   72

If you are happy with how far you have come, congrats. You are working hard, keep it up! 

If you are not where you would like to be, think about why. I bet you are not checking off A's on your progress report! If getting the body you have wanted is the goal, YOU have to MAKE it happen. Commit to it 100% and kill it. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Focusing on What is Important

When it comes to diet and fitness, i.e. getting the body of your dreams, there is an enormous amount of conflicting opinions and advice. To get to your goal, you need to separate what is important and focus your energy there. So what are the most important things to focus on to get you to your goal?

1. Calories in
If you are not seeing results by now (we are 4 weeks into phase 1, a third of the way done!), I can assure you 100% that you are not creating a big enough deficit in your weekly calories. The diet is the #1 item on the list because you have to cut the fat on your body to even be able to see your shape and musclature that lies beneath.  Cutting fat by reducing calories will also give you the quickest bang for your buck in regard to a total body transformation.

I like to look at cutting calories (aka "cutting") as ripping off a band-aid. I know it sucks, and you are hungry; but the faster we get if off means less time that we have to be uncomfortable. Why do you think very few people transform their bodies? It is NOT easy. It is not a comfortable place. You are going to be hungry. That is your body's signal of "hey, I am burning body fat" so transform the feeling of hunger in your mind to just that. Instead of thinking "I am miserable and my stomach is growling" you should say to yourself "burn, fat, burn"... it works LOL

The bottom line is that at somepoint you overate, consuming more calories than your body needed. You body stored those calories as fat. You now need to eat less calories than your body needs so that it is forced to use the fat it stored. Think of it like a bank account- your body has a calorie budget, at somepoint you spent more calories than your budget allows, creating a fat debt. Now you need to watch your calories until your fat debt is paid off. Just like you have to constantly watch your money, you will always need to be mindful of your calories, even once you get to goal. But you do get better at it, and it will get to be an automatic thing- a lifestyle.

2. Getting in your workouts
Yep, number 2 on the list. Calories are more important than working out when it comes to creating the body of your dreams. Lifting weights shapes and tones your body. We are lifting in a set routine to build up our shoulders and glutes but to decrease waist circumference. (Venus Index)  A couple of things happen when you miss workouts. The main one for me is the thought of "well, I missed my workout, the whole day is shot. I might as well go have pizza and ice cream." Looking at it written out, it seems like a ridiculous thought, but I know there are more people than just me who do this. Calories are king- even if you miss a workout, stay on track with your diet. I know that when I am consistent with my workouts, I am more consistent with my eating. The second thing that happens, is you get out of the routine.  It takes up to 21 days to create a habit. You need to create a habit of working out. When you miss a workout, it is easier to say no the next time. It should drive you crazy to miss a workout, because it messed up your routine!

Going to the gym should be a positive, self-care item on your to-do list. As a mother and wife, I know your family has a million wants and needs. It is easy to get more stuff done when you skip your hour at the gym. Make it non-negotiable. What else do you do all day that is just for you? I thought so.

One final thought, some people think that you can out-train a bad diet. I can assure you that this is not the case. Let me give you a common cardio scenario that I have seen and partially done myself. If I get on a treadmill for 30 minutes, I may burn 300 calories (and I am being generous there)... I can stand beside that same treadmill and eat pizza for 30 minutes afterwards because "I was being good and did my workout." If I finish off a medium pepperoni pizza, I have just consumed appoimately 2500 calories. That nets me a surplus of 2200 calories in my body's "fat account". FAIL.

Here is a video to illustrate this for you:

Not on the list
That is it, 2 things. Focus all of your fitness/diet attention on calories and getting in your weight training sessions. Notice that I did not talk at ALL about: macros (protein, carbs, sugar), supplements, optimum workout times, eating 6 times a day, meal timing, water intake, or cardio. Because those things are noise compared to our 2 focus items. They do not produce results (or enough of one) to even be considered when your workouts and calories are not on point.

My word-poet friend Brad Howard says all this better than me, as he was my inspiration in writing this post. He called these two focuses primary drivers. Read his article, it is greatness.

Weekly Inpiration Story

My friend Naomi Sandoval won the first ever Venus Index Open Contest. She struggled with getting into amazing shape from her 20's on then maintaining that condition afterward. It was a vicous cycle. Then she had her two kids, and it was hard to get to the gym. She ate healthy, but really did not count calories. She tried to burn 4000 calories a week without watching her calories. Over 2 years, she lost a whole 10 pounds with that mentality. (Kudos for her to sticking to that BTW!) She tried turbulence training, then she found VI. You can download her podcast here: She says she looks and feels better than she ever has now. She authors a blog to help other women and talks about her own maintance wins and struggles, you can check it out here:

I really love this article she wrote called "It's Never too Late to Get in Shape, I'm 47!"

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Are you working out or training?

At the gym there are 2 types of people- people that work out and people that train. What is the difference?
  • Working out is showing up to the gym with no real plan in mind. You throw some weights around, probably without good form. You do not really push yourself.
  • Training has a end goal in mind. You have a plan to get your body to the goal with exercises that periodize and alterate for maximum impact. You use weights that are on point intensity-wise. Every rep is done in perfect form.
Most of us cannot create a training plan to reach our goals. I know how to do many exercises with proper form but I do not know enough about periodization and alteration to create the most effective training plan for my goal. My goal is to achieve the perfect hourglass feminine shape with lean muscularity. The VI workout was created just for that. Instead of weight, I choose to focus on metrics for my end goal. You can find your ideal metrics goals here: (Just put your height in the blue box on the right side of the screen.)

Listen to this podcast on the difference between working out and training, it is VERY informative:

The inspiration story that I want to share with you this week is Roberta Saum's story.  She struggled with her weight her whole life despite being extremely active and even running marathons. She went to the gym consistently but she did not feel like she looked the part. Finally at age 50, she found VI and it finally clicked. She is now a cover model and travels to speak about finding your best body at 50. She also runs her own website and is a reserve sheriff's deputy for her county.

You can do this! Stumble forward.

Controlling Your Calories

Our focus this week is controlling your calories. This post is intended for those that have not reached our desired look/ ideal metrics. Look at the chart below to see your max calories per day (RMR: resting metabolic rate) for your height:

Yes, that mean is your MAX... you can go below as much as you are comfortable! Also, look at this number over a week and with a 15% error. So I am 5'9" and female, my weekly calorie goal would be 1,490x7= 10,430x0.85=  8,865 calories per week for my goal.
Here are 2 podcasts that I want you to listen to. I usually download them on my phone and listen to them on my commute or during my run/walk.
This one talks about how you can never truely know how many calories that you are burning, why the machines in the gym are wrong, and that you should never include exercise in your calorie goals (unless you are super lean, one day we shall elaborate on that point!)
This one talks about why we can never actually know how many calories we are eating and why. It also explains why I included a 15% error on your calorie goal. Very imformative stuff here, one of the best podcasts ever!

I also want you to read this short little report here about creating a calorie deficit... John Barban (VI's creator) just released it with Fitness Black Book:
Eat what you love guys! Lose the "good" food vs. "bad" food mentality. A calorie is a calorie. The last 2 nights, I have eaten cake every night. That is what I wanted to eat, and I saved room in my calorie budget for it. And I came in for the day at 1000-1400 calories (below my RMR). I am on track to hit my personal goal of 7700 cal or less this week (that is below my RMR).

And for your inspiration, here is my friend Alisha's transformation in 12 weeks. She won the first ever Venus contest (VT1). She is from Iowa and we text back and forth. Her pictures and story are what inspired me to do this. She also has a podcast at the bottom if you want to hear how she did it in more detail. 
Have a good week! Stumble forward.