Over the winter and spring, I found myself struggling emotionally and felt out of control of sorts, especially when it came to my nutrition. The long Chicago winters are not my favorite and my personal training business, the Active Moms’ Club was thrown a big curve ball in needing to find a new training location for my clients and me. During this uneasy period, I decided to reach out to a fellow trainer and nutrition coach to help me hone my nutrition and find focus when many things around me felt like they were spiraling out of control.
As a personal trainer and fitness enthusiast, I’ve averaged the same body weight for the last 10 years (with the exception of the years going through IVF and a twin pregnancy) and have always felt that this was my body’s ‘set weight’ and comfort zone. However, in the last few years even with a consistent weight, my body fat percentage—as measured by my home scale— has slowly been creeping up. In my days of Ironman training, and when I was 10 years younger, my body fat was around 23%. These days it’s closer to 27%, and ironically I am the strongest, and have the most muscle mass than I have ever had in my life. (Check out 25 More Random Facts About Me here).
To be perfectly honest, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into with this nutrition plan. I impulsively decided to make an 8-week commitment with the main goal of reducing my body fat. What I received was a life altering experience that has changed my relationship with food, and the types and quantity of food that I eat.
In eight short weeks I lost 6.4 pounds, dropped my body fat from 27% to 23%, and lost over an inch circumference in my thighs, waist, hips and chest!
HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED—
I thought I ate well balanced meals.
I was not even close to consuming what I thought my body needed.
Prior to this plan, I’d have a tendency to skip meals, or eat a small snack for breakfast before a workout. I snacked A LOT. I’d grabbed nuts, cheese/crackers, a bowl full of cherries/grapes, Lara Bars, raisins (healthy, right!?)…whatever happen to be in the kitchen, ended up in my mouth. A snack went into my mouth after I got home from clients; before I picked up the boys from school; while I sat on the couch to read a magazine. I ate when I was happy, sad, anxious, overwhelmed, tired, procrastinating, or stressed. Sound familiar?
Many of us have jumped from one diet fad to another to rebellion-mode and back again. My coach likes to cut through the static and instill healthy eating practices right out of the gate. She provides an initial structure as a sort of internal reset button—shifting appetite cues, cravings, and energy. Rather than counting calories, the program is based around achieving the best macronutrient ratio (carbs:proteins:fats) specific to your body’s needs.
STRUCTURE OF MEAL PLAN
The meal plan seemed simple enough, it just required thoughtful meal planning and prep. She promised me that I would enjoy having an exact meal plan as it would take the guess work out of thinking about what to eat. It took a little to get used to, but she was right.
Basic of Nutrition plan:
- Eat the first meal within a hour of waking (important to feed the body protein to continue to replenish macronutrients after body’s repair process overnight)
- Continue to eat every 2.5-3.0 hours—trying never to go more than 3 hours without calories to keep metabolism churning
- Ideally drink a gallon of water a day (with my overactive bladder, we negotiated water volume down to 60-70 ounces, and thats working well for me)
- Eat protein at each meal— there are 6 meals every day (below is an example of meal #2 on a weight training day, it fills me up)
- Measure food in grams to know exact ratio of macronutrients (protein:fat:carbs) and how the ratios work for my body so adjustments could be made. I bought a food scale to measure all my food in grams (I can eyeball quantities pretty well now)
- Eat with attention and awareness
- Practice intentional connection with my body—listening when its hungry, satisfied, or full
- Eat slowly in a relaxed state to be aware and be ready to hear my body’s cues (this can present some challenges with 6-year old boys and the struggles that may ensue at dinner time, but it’s mostly successful)
- Assess circumference and body measurements with calipers at the beginning, mid, and end of the 8-week period
The initial week was a “flushing” phase. Her goal was to detox estrogen and get my body responding with a macro-reversal (eating LESS carbs!). She reported I’m a good carb metabolizer because I carry most of my weight through my hips and thighs—I’m a endomorph body type. Making the flip to eating less carbs helped me jumpstart my metabolism for many reasons. It takes the body more energy to digest and breakdown protein than carbs/fats, making the thermogenic effect much greater than a typical eating day.
The meal plan really does take the guess work out of the process, and the process was working! I know what I have to buy at the store each week, and I know what I need to eat all day, every day. It’s quite simple to plan, it’s the prep work that takes extra time. Initially I was so focused on meal prep and adjusting to the reduced caloric intake (yes, honestly I was hungry, very hungry the first two weeks), that I didn’t recognize what I was NOT eating. As my body adjusted, ultimately her meal plan kept me satiated and I discovered I have more energy (critical to any parent!). And the scale was moving, so I felt extra motivated to continue to see what could happen.
*BRAND NEW!* AMC’s created 60-Days of YOU! program —eight weeks of fitness and nutrition guidance that will take the guesswork out of slimming down, getting fit and establishing a healthy relationship with food and exercise. Coach Cassandra will help you create a guidance map for your new health habits and create a strategy to make them stick! Join us and make the commitment to honor yourself for the next 60-days. To learn more…
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