Have a question? Hopefully you might find some answers here to the things I get asked the most!
* I want to start eating better but don’t know where to start. What do you suggest?
If you would have asked me this at the beginning of my journey, I would have tried to convince you that buying anything packaged or processed was going to eventually kill you in some way or another. I jumped in feet first, went cold turkey and cut basically everything I had been eating. No refined sugar. No gluten. Most dairy. Coffee. Packaged items could only have 5-7 ingredients listed. I had a LOT of rules. I think doing it this way will set a lot of people up for failure right from the start because they may feel deprived not being able to enjoy foods they once loved so much. Although that was never exactly how I felt, I did begin to resent the guilt I would feel if I did decide to eat a food that wasn’t entirely “clean”. Then I discovered “flexible dieting” and IIFYM. It changed my life and my whole journey.
My suggestion now would be to make small changes to start with. For example, if you have only been eating white bread, switch to wheat or better yet Ezekiel products. If you love eating cereal, find one that has a better nutritional profile (less sugar, more fiber). If you love to bake, try finding recipes where you can substitute better flour options like oat, almond, coconut, etc. and instead of using plain white sugar, use stevia, honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup. For nearly every “unhealthy” food you can find, chances are, there is almost always a better option. Eat more vegetables. Eat more lean proteins. Find a way of eating that you can sustain and be happy with for the long haul. You must look at this as changing your lifestyle, NOT a short term diet. Even small changes can make an impact.
* What foods do you keep in your pantry?
For the first 14 weeks of my journey, I solely made all of my meals from the items found HERE. The variety wasn’t huge but my meals rarely ever looked the same from one day to the next. When I shifted gears and started with a more “flexible diet”, I began to incorporate more and more foods that were probably not considered entirely “clean” such as packaged cookies, chips, regular wheat bread, pita chips, cereal, etc. I started to find a healthy balance with my food intake and while I still continue to eat very healthful, nutrient dense food, I am not scared of enjoying ANY & ALL kinds of food. The list found HERE, is a great resource to get your pantry looking better!
* How often do you weight train? What does your training schedule look like? What do you do for ab’s?
Can be answered HERE.
* How long do you train for?
On the average, I train for anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. I workout with my husband so things will take a bit longer. If I’m doing cardio, I’m at the gym for 1.5 hours. If only lifting, I’m out of there in an hour.
* How often do you do cardio?
Can be answered HERE.
* I want to start lifting weights, but have never tried before. How do I get started?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have proper form when lifting. Before attempting any exercises, either ask a trainer at your gym OR research online. BodyBuilding.com has a TON of FREE resources, videos, workouts, suggestions, etc. to help you get going on a program. If you work out at home, buy a few sets of dumbbells to get your started. You can slowly begin to add more equipment as time passes, but different sizes free weights and some HIIT routines should be good enough to get you going.
Another suggestion I have is if you do belong to a gym, often times they will offer a few FREE training sessions to their members. This is a GREAT opportunity to take advantage of. Let them know what specific areas of your body are the most important for you to train and they will run through a session with you. Or if you can afford it, hire a personal trainer to jumpstart your program. Once you get familiar with the equipment, a routine, and specific exercises you can cut the trainer loose and do your own thing.
Please also read my article on “Gymtimidation”.
* What do you think about intermittent fasting, fasted cardio, cleanses, detoxes, and all of the other things people are currently doing for weight loss and jump starting their fitness programs?
I don’t think about them to be perfectly honest. I think for some people they truly, 100% believe these things work/have worked for them and thats great… for THEM. My husband and I both tried intermittent fasting and doing fasted cardio early on and hated them both. I feel like all of these things were unnecessary for ME and MY goals. If these things motivate you to get going with a program or you feel like you show improvements & progress, keep doing what you do!
* How often do you eat every day?
I used to be very strict about eating every 2-3 hours but now I eat when I am hungry which is usually around 4-5 times a day. I eat my first meal around 8am after I get the kids to school and my last meal (dessert) around 10:30-11:00pm and I am normally asleep by 12am.
* How many calories do you eat a day?
Very tricky question that I do not often like to answer. This is something SUPER personal just because my needs, goals, what I burn daily, my age, height, weight, eating/diet history are ALL guaranteed to be different than yours. When I first started out, I was just over 1700 calories and gained around 5 pounds. At 16 weeks, when I decided to balance my intake by tracking macros, I began to steadily increase my caloric intake. At 20 weeks, I was at 2100 calories and LOST 3 pounds. At 28 weeks, I was up to 2300 calories and 320 grams of carbs with NO additional weight gain. My body began to utilize EVERY single calorie I gave it and at that point I knew my metabolism was the best it had been my whole life. My ultimate goal is to eat as many calories as I possibly can WITHOUT gaining body fat. Do NOT eat LESS to lose MORE. During my reverse diet, my macros changed weekly and during my cut/diet my macros changed almost daily due to carb cycling.
** If you have been in a caloric deficit for an extended period of time, done low carb, been on a rigid competition prep, etc. you will SLOWLY need to increase your intake (overall calories & carbs) to see what your body can handle. If you are just starting to track calories and want to lose weight, my suggestion would be to find your TDEE and start with a small deficit of 100-200 below. See how your body responds and then you can adjust. Give it a good 2 weeks before making any changes though. There are many online calculators for this… some give better numbers than others so my suggestion would be to go to a few sites and take a nice average. Some calculators will give extremely low numbers, some give higher, some a more moderate. **
* What are macros and should I start tracking them?
Essentially, macros=macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat). Based on YOUR goals (fat loss, muscle gain, bulking, maintenance, etc), you would basically find a ratio that would best balance these nutrients (as well as fiber intake). I started tracking my macros at 14 weeks into my journey and results went through the roof. Literally, my body changed weekly from that point on. I had been stuck at 19% body fat for at least 4-5 weeks and finally broke that plateau. I truly believe that had I tracked sooner, my progress would have been much more aggressive. Live and learn right? All part of the process! I honestly cannot speak more highly about tracking macros OR flexible dieting. I think everyone could benefit from trying it even if it were only for a short two week period. I guarantee that what you think is balanced and adequate intake for the day is most likely not. Almost guaranteed. You won’t have to count forever… but its a great way to get you on the right track and eating MORE and better!
There are many online calculators for determining the best macro ratio is for YOU. My suggestion would be to go to a few different sites/calculators and see how similar or different they are from one another. If they are all over the place, then take a nice average to get you going, then you can adjust depending on how your body reacts.
Personally, I HATE the calories iiym.com gives you… too low in my opinion but a good starting point, again… get an average from a few sources.
This calculator probably gives me the numbers I feel most comfortable with:
And here are some others in case you want to get an average:
BEST advice I can give you if you are having trouble finding the best macro ratio or have no idea where to start, PAY a trainer to calculate them for you. These are people I trust to give HEALTHY advice and guidance.
If you find someone else to do this for you and they give you crazy low calories, no carbs, hours of cardio… run, in the other direction, fast, and far away. NEVER choose the path that appears the easiest and fastest when it comes to your health.
* What do you use to track your macros?
* What supplements do you take?
Answer can be found HERE.
* How many calories do you burn in your workouts?
Not very many to be honest with you. When I see other girls and what they burn, I feel like I need to step up my game! I typically burn anywhere from 350 to 500 per workout/training session. I’m towards the higher end on the 2 days I do cardio.
* What are good pre and post workout meal options?
As long as you keep you fats relatively low (I shoot for under 7 grams for each meal) and protein and carbs high, you should feel great. I try to get 25% of my overall daily carb intake PRE and then POST workout. I do not supplement with shakes or meal replacements because my body just feels better on whole foods.