Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How To Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau

Most of us have been here before. You start eating really well, you've been getting your butt into the gym, and you're actually seeing results! But as time goes by, you start to notice that the scale isn't budging anymore, despite your hard efforts.

I know exactly how this feels. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have read a post about my experience with a 20lb weight gain in 7 months. Yikes. But the worst part of it all? The weight gain wasn't even my fault...

And no, I promise I'm not making excuses. I was put on antidepressants back in October to help with my anxiety and depression due to all the crazy things that have been going on in my life (i.e. moving, having no friends, etc). At first, I thought being on medication was really going to help me. But flash forward seven months and it finally clicks in my head that my jeans haven't shrunk in the dryer, but I've actually put on a solid 20 lbs. I can't express to you how confused and frustrated I am. How can I be working out harder in the gym and watching explicitly what I put into my mouth, but still be gaining weight? After doing so assessing, I realized that the weight gain all boiled down to one thing...that damn medication.

Now, I'm not saying that being on medication is a bad thing, because it totally helps people have a better quality of life. However, I think doctors are too quick to put you on medication without assessing the real, underlying issue and especially without telling you the drastic side effects that go along with it. Okay, I'm starting to ramble on here. But I just wanted to show you that you're not alone if you are in a weight loss journey. We are all in this together!  Now, let's get to what this post is really about.

Before I get to my main tips, I first want you to find a mirror. Look at yourself and tell yourself (out loud!) five things you like about yourself. This can be anything; your eyes, lips, teeth, humor, eyebrows...the list goes on. The reason why I want you to do this first is because we have to remember (myself included!) that we are not defined by the number on the scale or how far we have to go to squeeze our thighs into those skinny jeans. We are so much more than that. Got your five things? Write them down on a piece on paper and tape that shit onto your mirror so that every time you look at yourself to criticize what you hate about yourself, you can remember all the things you love about who you are. Got that? Alright, let's move on to the tips!

1. Assess Your Eating Patterns
Do you find yourself mindlessly heading to the pantry after dinner time? Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having a night snack. But if you are hit with cravings as soon as you cleaned your dinner plate, something isn't right. Be sure you are filling up with a nutrient dense dinner including healthy carbs, proteins, and most importantly, fats. Healthy fats will keep you satiated a heck of a lot longer than any other macronutrient because they take a longer time for the body to break down. If you truly cannot rid yourself of those post-dinner cravings, make yourself a cup of green tea with a squeeze of honey to satisfy your sweet tooth.

2. Change Up Your Workouts
My father tells me this like it is his job. I am a culprit of sticking to the same workout routine for months and months on end. It's no wonder I am no longer seeing any progress! When you stick to the same workouts, whether that'd be strength training, running, or circuits, your body will eventually get used to it. It will no longer be put into shock and have to adapt to the stress you are putting your body under. Instead, it will say, "Been here, done that. I know exactly how much I should be expending to get through this workout. Easy peasy." And you do not want this to happen. When your body gets used to a certain workout, it no longer has to adapt to the workout because you are using the same muscles and burning the same amount of calories every time. Instead of doing a steady-paced 3 mile run, switch it up by doing intervals. Sprint all out for 30 seconds and walk for 1 minute. This type of training is called High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. By doing this type of interval training, it'll give your metabolism a boost and your body will keep burning calories even after you've completed your workout!

3. Don't Just Eat for Calories, Eat for Nutrients
While counting calories can be helpful for some, I do not recommend it. As someone who has counted calories for two years now (yikes!), it eventually becomes very tedious and can even become obsessive. You become so fixated on the number of calories that you forget to feed your body what it truly needs; food that is nutrients dense and is as processed as little as possible. Think about it like this, your body would much rather be fed 100 calories worth of sweet potato than it would being fed a 100 calorie cookie snack pack. That snack pack has close to zero nutrients for your body while the sweet potato has quality carbohydrates, vitamin A, fiber, and vitamin B-6. When your body is lacking certain nutrients, it can cause you to crave unhealthy foods in order to get those nutrients it needs. A common example is if you crave chocolate, your body is really craving magnesium, which can be found in raw nuts, seeds, and some fruits. 

4. Just Because You Exercised, Doesn't Mean You Can Pig Out
This mentality is very common among most people. They feel that because they went for a run that it is an excuse to pig out on pizza and ice cream. There are a few things wrong with this type of mentality. Firstly, pizza and ice cream are not a quality post-workout meal/snack. After a workout, you should be refueling with quality protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Notice the words "quality" and "healthy". Secondly, keep in the back of your mind the basic premise of weight loss: burning more calories than you take in. While I hate to put such an emphasis on calories (because its potential to become obsessive), if you only burn 300 calories in your workout and you consume 600 calories after your workout, you could potentially be going over your daily calorie allowance (also referred to as you Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE). The most effective way to ensure that you are not going over your TDEE without relying on calorie counting apps or recording everything you eat on paper, is to simply move your body, listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues, and practice portion control. 

I hope these tips help you assess what could be causing your weight loss plateau! However, I just want you to remember that you are so much more than the number on the scale. Rather than tracking your progress by stepping on the scale, track your progress through pictures, the way you feel, and how you fit into your clothes. Take progress pictures on an empty stomach, in the same position with as close to the same lighting and timing as possible. This will give you the most accurate comparison. Obviously your stomach may look a tad bigger after you've eaten a whole day's worth of food compared to as soon as you wake up in the morning! Keep in mind that other more important factors for weight loss other than looking physically better such as feeling more confident in yourself and having more energy to live your life!

Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know if you want me to continue with these health and fitness posts!
Much love,
Gabriella xx


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Making Changes

Change is a part of life. Whether good or bad, they happen for reason. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. If it is meant to happen, it will; and we need to accept those changes and embrace them. Take advantage of them. Experience them. Learn from them.
Take my move to PA, for example.  This move was a huge change for me. A new state, new people, and a new way of life. I was actually really excited for this new move in the beginning. I would have the chance to make new friends and live in a new home. I had really high expectations about this new move that I would make a whole load of new friends and finally get my social life back. However, as time went on, I realized that these expectations were far beyond what reality was turning out to be. Sure, I had made some new friends, but my dream of having a close group of friends like the ones I left behind in NJ didn't quite fall into place like I had expected them to. Nearly a year after the move, I still find myself struggling to find my people, as in the people who share my same interests, dream, and mentality.
But what can I do about it? I can't just pack up my things and tell my family, "Sorry, I don't really fit in with these people. I'm gonna move back to our old town. See ya!" No, I can't do that. But what I can do is accept this massive change and reflect on all the positive things that have happened since moving here. My new blog, my new mentality, my new change at heart in not going to college and pursuing my passion. Who knows, had I stayed in my old town, these things may never have happened. I could still be forcing myself to maintain straight A's at school while my mental health plummeted down the drain from stress. I could still be trying to convince myself that I have to go to college in order to be successful. I never would have realized that pursing your passion is more important than doing something you don't truly love. I wouldn't be graduating high school a year early.  And I can't tell you how grateful I am that these changes have occurred.
What I am trying to say here is that when something unexpected happens or a change in your life occurs that didn't pan out the way you wanted it to, don't crumble and fall. Don't remorse about how much you hate this new change and make yourself miserable. Stay positive and reflect on the good things that have happened since that change. And if you can't find something good, dig deeper. That change happened for a reason.
As I continue on with my blog and Instagram, I want you to be aware of a change that will be happening regarding my content. Because my dream is to be a Personal Trainer and hopefully create my own workout and lifestyle guide, there will be a massive increase in fitness related posts on my Instagram and blog. Don't get my wrong, I still love fashion and I still will be posting and blogging about it, but expect sweaty workout selfies, workout videos, meals, and other fitness related jazz on my Instagram. As for my blog, expect workouts, recipes, and health/fitness product reviews. I am not trying to portray a girl who has her entire life together with the cutest outfits and a perfect Instagram feed. I am trying to be me. And I am a girl who loves fitness but also loves fashion as well and sometimes has a really damn hard time motivating herself to workout and eat healthy.
I want to be able to connect with other fitness enthusiasts through my Instagram from all over the world and be able to inspire and motivate them to live a healthier, balanced lifestyle. I also want to be able to show them that life is not just about fitness and you can take your hair out of your ponytail, put on some makeup and a cute outfit and go have fun and explore. Those people are my people.
And those are the people I want to be around. "Your vibe attracts your tribe." And I am surely not attracting my tribe if I only post perfectly edited photos on my Instagram. I want people who genuinely want to follow my Instagram; not just follow me to get a follow back on their account. I hope you guys understand where I am coming from when implementing this change. If you don't care about health and fitness, I will not be upset if you choose to unfollow me and forgo reading my blog. But this is a change I want to make. And I am willing to accept the negatives that come with it.
Sorry for this ramble and if you read this entire post, cheers to you. Thank you for reading!
Much love,
Gabriella xx 
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