175 and Holding!! Why I'm Done Trying to Lose Weight

The other day I took a bunch of pics that were meant to be my "before" pictures as I had gotten up to 174 and decided to get serious about counting calories again and losing weight. I religiously counted calories every day for a a couple of weeks and I....gained a pound! I tried to find a picture that reflected the true disgustingness of my situation and couldn't seem to find one. Everything was a lot smaller, firmer, less crinkled than I was seeing it. I've got some less flattering ones that show my belly but, in light of my decision of how I choose to approach my body from here on out (outlined below), I've decided to go with the more discreet ones.

This last Saturday I started my morning in one of my favorite ways, a super intense workout with my boyfriend. I began my workout with a grueling HIIT session on the elliptical for 35 minutes until I felt like I would vomit. We showered and changed there and I walked out of the gym feeling self-conscious in my jean shorts that were way more snug than this time last year. My boyfriend scanned me up and down and said "are those shorts new?" I hung my head and said "no, they just look different because they were baggy last year." He asked, "are you thicker than last year?" I looked at him surprised. How could he not see how horribly repulsive I had become?! I said, "Um, yeah, definitely." He said, in complete sincerity, "Babe, I have to tell you, I like you thicker."

Now, let me stop here and say this: I won't lie, having my hard bodied, unbelievably fit and attractive boyfriend, literally the sexiest guy I've ever laid eyes on in real life, validate my current body and tell me it's my effort and drive that's more sexy than anything, did have an impact on the shift in my thinking that took place in the hours following the aforementioned conversation. However, it was merely a catalyst to the change that has since taken place in my mind.

I started to think, "Why am I trying to lose weight?" The answers I came up with were less than healthy and noble. Here's the entire list:

-I feel that, as a personal trainer, I should be hard-bodied and perfect for current and future clients to take me seriously.

-I have cute clothes that I can't fit into.

-My stomach isn't flat.

-I have cellulite

-I used to weigh 145 pounds....

That's the whole list!!!

When I really thought about my reasons I realized that they were a little absurd. So I created a new list of reasons why I have, for the first time in almost 30 years, decided to simply try to maintain my weight instead.

-First and foremost, I'm naturally a thick girl! At 5'7 1/2 with a lot of muscle mass, 175 pounds is so unbelievably easy to maintain!! I'm not constantly hungry and I'm full of energy. At 145 I was constantly starving and exhausted and COLD!! I was constantly cold!

-175 pounds seems to be my sticking point. Coincidentally, it is the weight I settled in at when I was 18 and became physically active for the first time. It's also the weight I almost attempted to settle into when I was originally losing down from 275 but felt like I needed to keep losing for various reasons. I will add that, when I was 175 pounds coming down, it looked way different because I hadn't really started strength training yet so my actual body fat was a lot higher than it is now with the added muscle mass.

-I am absolutely SICK AND TIRED of not just being content with who I am! I have never ever considered myself worthy of just being where I am. I just want to, for once in my life, not consider myself "not there yet."

-On a more shallow note, I HAVE BOOBS!!! And A BUTT!!! I have a nice shape now. Because of all the weight I lost, I had some excess skin at 145 pounds. At 175, with the extra fat and muscle, everything is firmer. And, yes, I have boobs again. And, I have to say, I actually really like the way I look right now.

Okay, so here's my new goal. First and foremost, to love myself!! ? And then, to add more muscle mass but not to move the scales in one direction or the other. Anyone who knows much about this will understand that this is a little bit of a tricky statement because I actually AM aiming to reduce my body fat with this goal. However, there is something psychological about saying "I am, in this moment, perfect," that is unbelievably liberating. I feel loved. By me. And here's the absolute crazy part!!! As soon as I made the decision to stay where I am, my urge to cheat with a bunch of unhealthy food went away! That's not to say I won't be enjoying my wings and beer anymore but it no longer feels like some kind of self-abusing compulsion.

So I have new advice for others who seem to be struggling with self-love and can't even figure out how to lose when they are constantly fearful that they are going to gain....

Stop!!! Stand still for a moment and love yourself exactly where you are.

I am not saying that I want to stay at 175 forever. I may someday resume my efforts to see a (slightly) smaller number on the scales. But that moment is not now. Now my effort is to be the absolute healthiest person, physically AND mentally that I can be so I've liberated myself from the weight game for a while.

Here's the best part. I was sharing my decision with a client today and here is what she said in a nutshell. "Tammi, you look amazing already. And what drew me to you in the first place is that you are a 'real' person. Someone I can relate to instead of some hard-bodied fitness model that I would just feel uncomfortable around." And when I really think about it I know that's how all my clients feel. They feel loved by me, because they are. They feel inspired by my own humanity and my own struggles. I am done trying to fit a mold. I am done staring at my cellulite before I walk outside to enjoy a beautiful summer day. I'm done fearing the scales. Oh, and I'm officially a size 10 for quite a while anyway so I guess I'm getting rid of all my size 6's if anyone is interested.

Cravings? You will never believe what stops them

These guys are amazing! I've posted their videos before and this one is just as good. It combines science and actual success with their clients to bring accurate information in a way we can all understand. I suggest checking out more of their videos on YouTube as well. ME honestly rocks!!

Counting Calories

Wow! I seriously HATE counting calories!! I hate prepping food. I hate not mindlessly grabbing a handful of something that looks tasty and throwing it into my mouth without thinking. But what I hate even more is feeling heavy and thick and my clothes not fitting. That's why, once again, I started counting calories a few weeks ago. And, surprise!! My weight is quickly coming back down to where I feel comfortable again (quickly-ish, anyway!...after all, I AM pushing 40 these days) I've also really laid into my clients about doing the same lately, and their weight loss results are improving as well.

I want to believe there's a better way! I want to believe that calories don't matter. But THEY DO!!

So I thought I would briefly outline the "rules" of calorie counting as I don't believe that it's as simple as "eat these certain amounts of calories and you'll naturally and easily lose weight."

1. Protein! It's imperative to make sure you're eating enough protein! The food pyramid (of which I am required by law to stay within the guidelines when making recommendations) puts a max of 20% of daily calories from protein consumption. I, personally, try to eat closer to 30% of my calories from protein but you will need to make your own determination based on how you feel and after educating yourself on the food pyramid. All I can say is that inadequate protein consumption, especially during calorie restriction, can lead to feelings of excessive and irrational hunger as well as low energy, not to mention added muscle loss during fat loss.

2. Healthy Fats. While too much fat (especially the wrong kind) can make your metabolism sluggish and (at 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram of carbs and protein) can leave you feeling hungry after you've consumed all your daily calorie needs, SOME healthy fat is not just okay but essential for all major functions of the body! Think natural fats from their original sources: avocado, RAW seeds and nuts, wild caught salmon, etc. Fat in the right amounts can help you feel satisfied and keep your brain functioning smoothly during calorie restriction.

3. The right kinds of carbs. This is another area where I am legally required to recommend something different than what I actually eat. It is suggested that we consume between 55-65% of our caloric needs from carbohydrates. I personally find that keeping my consumption around 40% helps keep me energized and prevents cravings that I have trouble resisting. More than anything, I think each person's needs are different so paying attention to one's body is the most important first step in determining what those needs are. What is important for EVERYONE is consuming the RIGHT kinds of carbs. Just like fat, they should come from natural sources. Fruits, potatoes with the skin, etc. Things straight from nature, as unaltered as possible. Learning what your "carbohydrate tipping point" (where you feel satisfied, energized and do NOT have uncontrollable cravings) is imperative. You MUST keep in mind, if you have a tendency to put on weight, this indicates ALMOST ALWAYS that you have at least some insulin resistance and should be wary of all high carbohydrate foods.

4. Water. We all know it but somehow we don't always do it. Dehydration can often feel like fatigue and/or hunger. Make sure you're meeting your own personal hydration needs which varies based on weight, activity level, fiber and caffeine consumption, etc.

5. Lots of veggies!!! To clarify, even if the corner burger shop has them listed as "vegetable sides", corn, mashed potatoes and fried okra aren't what I'm talking about here! Low calorie leafy greens, peppers, onions, (un-fried) okra, and all other non-starchy veggies are going to fill you up and give you the vitamins and minerals your body needs. If you don't have these needs met at the end of the day, your body is going to keep sending that hunger signal.

6. Don't make yourself miserable!! One of my favorite low calorie meals is a GIANT salad, loaded with spinach, onions, banana peppers, etc and topped with buffalo chicken and 2 tbsp of ranch dressing. Yes, the dressing is 120 calories out of my daily calories but the whole salad together is barely over 300 calories and fills me up for hours. Not to mention it's absolutely delicious and I'm left feeling completely satisfied and not at all sorry for myself.

7. Make it a game! Sometimes I like to see how far I can stretch my calories and just how much volume I can pack into a day by finding creative low calorie choices. I also use it as motivation to do a little extra movement in the evenings if I'm running low on calories and want a little more for dinner. Which leads to my next point....

8. Actually count your calories!! Don't estimate. I highly recommend using MyFitnessPal. You can use the app or just log on from your computer. I love the app because I can log my calories on my phone throughout the day and even scan barcodes. I often will log calories BEFORE making eating decisions and see how it looks on my pie chart (which breaks down the % of each macronutrient) as well as what it leaves me with for the rest of the day. I sometimes will alter what I've decided to eat or maybe even decide to walk to the post office instead of driving that day to burn some extra calories so I have more to work with that evening. I find the app to be actually fun especially because I am connected with friends and clients who can see my food diary, exercise posts and weight loss results each day.

9. Understand that you don't have to do this forever. Yes, if you struggle with your weight, you will ALWAYS have to be mindful. However, counting calories helps give you insight into your body which will carry over into NOT counting calories later on. You start to notice how foods affect you as well as becoming aware just how calorie dense certain foods are. I don't always count calories, nor would I always want to, but doing it for a while when my weight starts to creep up a little, keeps me in check and brings me back to the reality of what I can and can't get away with.

10. Understand that calories in vs. calories out is WAY too oversimplified. Every food we eat has a different hormonal effect on our bodies. Too many different effects to name here. Just know that NATURAL foods (as in, single ingredient foods, straight from nature) are going to affect our metabolism, appetite and waistline in very different ways than prepackaged "food like products".

11. Exercise!!! And don't just do it for the calories burned! Do it to feel energetic and healthy! Do it for the increased brain function. But, yeah, do it for the calories burned too! There's something about knowing that jumping up and down to a fast paced Zumba class for an hour can burn up to 600-700 calories that makes me not quit when I feel like I may drop in the middle of class.

Bottom line, calorie counting is so completely 1985! But doing it even for a couple weeks and incorporating the above guidelines can give you unbelievable and long lasting insight into your body!!

New Week, New Month.....New You???

New week/New month! Perfect time to start in on those goals! Problem is, you're the same person you were yesterday, on a Sunday and at the end of a month. So instead of jumping in feet first, this time pick ONE thing to change!! What's one thing you KNOW you can do all month without failing? How about more veggies? Non starchy veggies are low in calories and very filling. They also provide your body with much needed vitamins and nutrients that will help stop those false hunge...r signals. How about moving more? Getting more sleep? Whatever it is, make sure it's something attainable that will not only help you achieve your long-term goals but will help boost your confidence about your ability to accomplish ALL your goals! This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon! If you struggle with your weight, you will ALWAYS have to be careful! Make the changes now that will stick with you forever!