It’s all around you, but you probably don’t even notice. It is a stealth energy-drainer, and it may be sabotaging your fitness goals.
It’s called clutter and each of us has it in our lives. This can be physical clutter or mental clutter.
The insidious nature of clutter is this: it establishes itself so gradually and entrenches itself so deeply, that we don’t even consciously know it is there. But it is there, sapping our creativity, our energy, and our productivity, and ultimately our health.
Physical clutter is clutter in your physical environment. This can be in your car, your office, your kitchen, your bathroom, your closet, your garage etc. It can be unorganized, unkempt, or it can be organized and arranged: but it is stuff–and too much of it.
You have to move it, step over it, dust it or feel guilty for not dusting it. You have to look at it. It is there. It takes up space that could be used for other things or space that could simply be emptied and left serene and open.
A clear, focused mind needs a clear, focused environment. When you are living surrounded by clutter (whether you even notice the clutter consciously or not), it pulls on you and chokes your forward movement and your creativity. It always demands to be dealt with, and that is draining on you. So you have less energy for fitness and for health.
And you have less energy to live and to love.
Mental clutter is clutter in your patterns of thinking and reacting to yourself and others and everyday circumstances. Again, it operates under the radar most of the time, which makes it especially menacing.
Mental clutter can be self-defeating ways of thinking about yourself, entrenched patterns of behavior with certain people, habitual ways of reacting to certain situations or just a general approach to life that blindly runs on autopilot.
The trouble with living blindly is that you don’t really live: you can’t see options or alternatives. With creativity choked off, you stagnate. And your energy slowly drains away.
So how do you clear out clutter that you can’t see? Whether it is physical clutter on your bookcase or the mental clutter of responding the same way to that person who always manages to raise your blood pressure, you can get to work on it immediately.
Try these solutions:
- Assess the different environments that you live and work in. Take one small space at a time and physically touch each object (otherwise you won’t see many of them, because you are so used to it being there).
- Ask yourself – What is this? Why do I have it? What is its function? Does it enrich my life? Does it bless me? Would someone else be blessed by it? Is it trash? After I’ve gone, will someone else have to come in and get rid of it? Try to eliminate as much as you can.
- Have a friend come in when you are finished and go through it again with her. You’ll have a fresh perspective, and she’ll have an objective one.
- Think really hard before acquiring more stuff. And try to remove something from your environment each time you bring something additional in. Out with the old and in with the new.
- Slow down. In order to identify your mental clutter, you must slow down and really pay attention.
- Ask yourself this key question several times a day: “Do I have other options?” Whether it is when that ‘someone’ is beginning to push your buttons or whether you are rushing to get to work again, just stop for a moment and try to come up with one or two other scenarios.
- Set a reminder several times a day to remind yourself to stop and take note of what you are doing when the reminder sounds. Are you eating? Checking Twitter for the 12th time? Having the same dead-end conversation with someone?
- Take a look at your routines: bedtime, morning, lunch, late afternoon, etc. What are your habits? Are they productive? Destructive? Time wasters? How can you make them better?
- What are you procrastinating? Leaving a dreaded task undone is a sure road to low energy and low productivity. Make a list of those tasks which you have been putting off and just do them. You’ll be amazed at your energy level afterwards!
Being fit and healthy requires being intentional about your environment, your schedule and your relationships. Take it one day at a time and start moving toward deliberate living.
Many people dread this “spring forward” tradition, because it means getting one less hour of sleep. But you can take advantage of the upcoming time change to help you improve your overall fitness and health routine.
The effect of daylight
The sunlight has a profound impact on our bodies, particularly two hormones that control mood and energy: serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin tends to boost mood and energy, while melatonin tends to make you feel sleepy. Too much of it can even lead to depressed feelings in some people. Winter depression is a common disorder that many people suffer with during the long, dark winter months, and it is often directly tied to the effect of less daylight, less serotonin and too much melatonin.
When sunlight is plentiful (such as during the late spring and summer months), you will produce more serotonin and less melatonin. When sunlight is less available (during fall and winter), you will produce less serotonin and more melatonin. The result can be a dramatic shift in your overall feelings of well-being and energy; you will likely find that you have more energy and motivation when the days begin to lengthen.
Put the longer days to work for you
Have you struggled to work out this winter? Has your motivation been weak? Less daylight may be the reason. If you didn’t head into fall and winter last year with a solidly entrenched fitness habit, you may have lost motivation and spent the winter merely wishing that you were working out.
Long-term fitness is the result of having a fitness routine and sticking with it. Once a habit becomes part of your life, it is easy to keep it up, even if your motivation and energy drop from time to time, as they surely will. Particularly in fall and winter.
This is the perfect time to begin building healthy exercise habits.
Take advantage of the longer days and increased sunlight. As we get closer to spring and summer, the days will get longer and longer, which will give you more time and opportunity to work out. The increased serotonin in your body will boost your mood and energy, giving you the motivation to create an exercise routine. Get serious about this routine, so that by the time fall rolls around later this year, you will be firmly entrenched in your healthy lifestyle.
Yours in health,
How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?
9 Things You NEED TO KNOW Before Stepping on the Scale
1) Fat Loss is NOT Linear
Don’t expect to lose weight every single day. Seriously. It won’t happen. On a day-to-day basis your weight will fluctuate up and down for countless reasons. In other words: fat loss isn’t linear. You won’t consistently drop X amount of weight on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis.
If you look at the graph, you’ll notice on a daily basis this weight fluctuated up and down quite a bit. However, while the upward fluctuations were frustrating in the moment, from a long-term perspective you can clearly see the overall downward trend. That’s what’s important – the overall downward trend!
Equally as important, you can’t predict how much weight you’re going to lose over time. As such, don’t ever trust those online calculators that tell you how much you should weigh by a certain date. It’s probably wrong. And by “probably” I really mean “almost definitely.” They’re inaccurate and fail to account for a variety of individual, ever-changing factors (i.e. BMR).
Do NOT expect to lose weight every single day. It seriously won’t happen and if you expect it to then you’re just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Instead, watch for an overall downward trend. On a weekly or bi-weekly basis, check to see if your average weight is consistently dropping.
It doesn’t need to be insanely large drops (1-2lbs/week is phenomenal!) but you should see a consistent downward trend over time.
2) Losing 1lb per Week is GREAT Progress!
Seriously. I’m not kidding! If you lose 1lb per week that is PHENOMENAL progress! Unfortunately, most people don’t understand (or want to understand) this concept. Most people have no idea what constitutes a realistic rate of fat loss and often think losing anything less than 5lbs per week is unacceptable.
If you lose 1lb per week while employing a well designed strength training program that is absolutely phenomenal progress! Granted, when you first start a fat loss program you may initially lose more (in some cases up to 8lbs) in the first week. However, as you progress over time it’s vital to remember that a weight loss of 1lb per week is spectacular.
3) The Scale Does NOT Tell the Whole Story
Here is a client of one of my colleagues.
Over her 8-week transformation, you may have noticed that she gained 10 lbs over the course of her 2-month program. She’s 10 lbs heavier than we she first started her program.
How could she gain 10lbs in 8-weeks and look even better than when she started? Simple. Over the course of her 8-week program Kellie added 10 lbs of scale weight but scale weight doesn’t necessarily mean “bad” weight! See, the scale measures everything in your body: muscle, water, fat, bone, stomach content, etc, etc, etc. While the scale can be a useful tool to see if you’re losing weight over time, it’s important to understand that not all weight is created equal.
So what happened to Kellie? Over the course of her program she gained 10lbs of many different things such as muscle, water, stomach content, glycogen, bone density, and *gasp* even a little bit of fat.
The scale doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s a whole lot more than just muscle and fat inside your body and the scale can’t make that distinction. Remember that you can use the scale to track progress over time but it’s extremely important to realize it’s not the end-all-be-all of fat loss. Oh, and as pictures illustrate, gaining weight isn’t always a bad thing.
4) You Will [often] Weigh More the Day After You Lift Weights
It’s counterintuitive isn’t it?
You work out, burn a whole bunch of calories, but when you weigh-in the next day you’re even heavier than before…. WTH?! Don’t worry, this is 100% normal.
After you work out your body needs to recover from the stress (lifting weights) placed upon it. In order to recover effectively your muscles actually store more glycogen (i.e. carbohydrates) which often results in a short-term weight – NOT fat – gain.
Going one step further, after weight training it’s normal to [unconsciously] eat more food in order to support muscle recovery and growth. In doing so, you not only hold onto more glycogen and water, you literally have more food in your stomach which also contributes to temporary weight – NOT fat – gain.
Slight weight gain the day after working out is totally fine and 100% normal. That being said, if your goal is to lose fat and you aren’t seeing a consistent downward trend over time…odds are you’re eating too much and need to re-evaluate your nutrition.
5) The Scale Isn’t the Only Way to Track Fat Loss
Not by a long shot. There are numerous ways to track fat loss other than the scale.
To name a few:
Q: How do you know if you’re losing fat?
A: Check in the mirror, silly goose!
This is the best way to track progress. Why? Because most people trying to lose fat just want to look good nekked. Obviously lots of people want to do it for better health, longevity, and blah, blah, blah…. But most people just want to look better with their clothes off.
That being the case, who gives a poop what the scale says so long as you look amazing as all hell? If you love how you look…throw out the scale! You’re hot. End of story.
How Do Your Clothes Fit?
How do your pants fit? Are they getting looser? Are your shirts getting baggier? Do you need to buy some new dress clothes? If you find yourself dropping clothing sizes then odds are you’re on the right track. On the other hand, if your clothing is getting tighter (or not changing at all) you may need to take a step back and re-evaluate your diet.
Are You Getting Compliments from Friends, Family, or Co-Workers?
When this happens you know you’re doing something right. When working with clients I regularly ask if they’ve received any compliments from friends, family, or co-workers. The answer is almost always a resounding “YES! How did you know!?“
As you progress towards your fat loss goals you will often receive compliments from those around you. Why? Sure, they want to be nice and supportive. But they probably also want to know what the heck you’re doing to look so damn good! When you start getting these comments take it as a good sign that things are working exactly as they should.
The scale is a fantastic tool to help you stay on track and make sure you’re making significant progress. However, don’t forget there are plenty of other methods, such as the ones mentioned above, that are equally valid and just as useful.
6) Weigh Yourself Under the EXACT Same Conditions
If you decide to use the scale as a way to track your progress, it’s essential to consistently weigh yourself under the exact same conditions. To which conditions am I referring?
Use The Same Scale
Your body weight will vary from scale-to-scale. On some scales you’ll read as heavier while on other scales you’ll read as lighter. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter which scale is “right.” Seriously, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you weigh yourself on the exact same scale so you get an accurate portrayal of whether or not your body weight is trending downward over time.
Weigh In at the Same Time
Weighing yourself at differing times will give you inconsistent results. For example, if you usually weigh yourself first thing in the morning (prior to eating & drinking) you’re going to weigh much less than if you weigh yourself immediately after lunch. To keep things consistent and eliminate as many extraneous factors as possible, my clients weigh-in every morning immediately after waking up and before eating or drinking.
As often as possible, make sure to weigh yourself on the same exact scale, at a similar time, under similar conditions. While it certainly isn’t a flawless method, it does provide you with more accurate data on a regular basis.
7) If You Don’t Lose Weight for 2-Weeks It’s Time to Re-Evaluate
I didn’t say 1-day. or 2-days…or 5-days…or 9-days.
If you don’t lose weight for 2-weeks it’s time re-evaluate your diet.
Unfortunately, after a few days of stalled weight loss most people get antsy and make the executive decision to drop calories, increase physical activity, or both. Big mistake. I say 2-weeks, not because it’s a magical time period, but because it’s not uncommon to stall in weight loss for a week or more.1 Seriously…it happens!
Just because your weight doesn’t drop for a few days doesn’t mean you’ve plateaued (does anyone else hate that phrase?) or that you need to drastically change your approach. All it means is you’re human and your body is adjusting to your new weight.
You aren’t going to drop weight every day…or every 2 days…or even every 5 days. It just won’t happen! I know it sucks, and you need a heck of a lot of patience, but take your time because, in the game of fat loss, slow and steady wins the race.
8) Don’t Bother Stepping on the Scale After a “Bad” Day
Allow me to digress. I don’t really like the phrases like “bad day” and “cheat day” as they imply you’re doing something wrong. You aren’t. It’s 100% fine to go out, eat “unhealthy” foods, and live life to the fullest. Seriously…you’re supposed to do that kind of stuff.
That being said, it’s equally important to find the sweet spot that allows you to enjoy yourself on a regular basis without going overboard.
Back to the topic at hand, weighing yourself the day or two following a big event (birthday, holiday, celebration, etc) is pointless. It doesn’t take a genius to know the day after you eat a lot more than normal you’re also going to weigh a lot more than normal. That being the case, why bother weighing yourself when you know you’re going to be unhappy with what you see? What’s more, you logically understand that you didn’t add several pounds of fat in a single night. That’s not how fat gain works.
Regardless, when you see the scale jump several pounds overnight your first reaction is going to include a panic attack that has you contemplating fasting for the entire next week.
Don’t weigh yourself the day or two after a “bad” day! You know the results are going to be skewed and all you’re going to do is end up messing with your head. Take the next few days away from the scale and, most importantly, focus on getting back on track with your diet. As long as you get right back into the swing of things you’ll continue to make progress and see extraordinary results.
9) Don’t Let the Scale Rule Your Life
Picture courtesy of the one and only, Molly Galbraith
Too often we get caught up in the minutia of our day-to-day lives and forget what’s truly important: living a happy, healthy, balanced, lifestyle that allows us to live in the present and truly enjoy every moment.
I love training, nutrition, and fitness in general…but too often we let the quest for the “ideal” body or “perfect” health take over our lives. Ironically, this often leads us to becoming less healthy, excessively neurotic, and living extraordinarily unbalanced lifestyles.
The scale, when used correctly, is an incredibly useful tool that can help you keep track of progress while achieving your ultimate goals. Like all things, though, it’s important to keep an open mind and understand that the scale isn’t inherently good or bad, right or wrong.
There is a time and place for when the scale can be used just as there are other moments when it should be forgotten.
So, put the scale away…you won’t miss anything.
Yours in health,
Don’t Stop Resistance Training IF You Want to Lose Weight!
Now that the weather is getting nice, you may be tempted to forgo your resistance training and head outdoors for some aerobic exercise in the fresh air. But beware: if you give up your resistance training, you will be giving up more than you bargained for.
Why resistance train?
Resistance training is critical for true fitness. Without it, your muscles will atrophy. If you aren’t building muscle, you are likely losing it.
And if you are 20 or older, you are definitely losing muscle, unless you are working hard to build it. Beginning at age 20, we begin naturally losing muscle mass every decade.
The old cliché holds true for muscle mass: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Have you ever broken your arm or leg and had to wear a cast for a few weeks? Remember what greeted you when the cast was removed? Your arm or leg was a lot smaller and felt weak. That is because just a few weeks of disuse caused the muscles to begin atrophying.
Here are some of the benefits of resistance training:
- Stops muscle loss and helps begin the rebuilding process.
- Makes daily activities easier, from carrying groceries to rearranging your furniture.
- Gives you a sculpted look.
- Increases bone density, giving you a strong, stable skeleton.
- Improves balance and coordination.
- Prevents decay of the pads between your bones, so that you do not hurt when you move.
- Causes the tendons to grow deeper into your bones, reducing the chance of tearing.
- Builds muscles which will burn more calories, even while you are resting.
- Reduces blood pressure by making your heart stronger.
- Increases your metabolism.
- Decreases blood sugar, which helps prevent insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes).
- Improves your aerobic capacity: the stronger your muscles, the better your endurance.
- Gives you a general feeling of wellness and strength. If you are strong, you feel strong.
- Makes you a better athlete: there is no substitute for strength!
- Prevents the weak, frail “skinny-fat” look.
- Raises your energy level. The more muscle you have, the less effort you have to exert and the more energy you have available.
- Secures future protection against falls and fractures. If you age with dense bones, strong muscles and good balance, your risk of injury plummets.
- Creates 22% more afterburn than aerobic exercise does. (Afterburn refers to the fat and calories that your body burns in the hours after you have finished your workout.)
Still tempted to give up resistance training?
Why aerobic exercise is not enough
“But,” the question goes, “Can’t I just go for a run and build muscle? I’m using muscles when I run!”
The answer is NO! Running or other aerobic exercise is not a replacement for resistance training. They are different exercises and provide different benefits. Aerobic exercise does not deliver the needed stress to your bones, muscles and tendons.
In order to build strength, you have to pull hard on tendons, do microscopic damage to your muscles and literally bend your bones. Going out for a run or putting in an hour on the treadmill will not do this sufficiently.
This is not to say that aerobic exercise is not important: it is! But it is not resistance training. You need both. And if you omit one, you do your body a great disservice.
Avoid the “skinny fat” syndrome
Another danger of focusing on cardio or aerobic exercise to the exclusion of resistance training is becoming what is known as “skinny fat.” Skinny fat is a condition in which a person appears thin on the outside, but inside they are unhealthy and at risk for illness.
If you are losing weight through diet and exercise but not simultaneously doing resistance training, you are not only losing fat: you are losing muscle as well. Your body will burn through your muscles tissue as surely as it will burn through your fat. As you lose muscle, you lose a major source of energy, and you lose tone and definition.
Further, as you lose muscle, your bones become weak, because they do not have to do as much work. Weak bones are a precursor to osteoporosis.
Hidden fat is also a risk for the “skinny fat” person. When 800 slim people underwent an MRI scan to check for visceral or hidden fat, 45% were found to have excessive amounts of internal fat, undetectable from the outside1. Visceral fat is the most dangerous fat to have, because it accumulates around organs such as the pancreas, heart and liver and then begins releasing hormones and other secretions that lead to disease.
Resistance training can reduce visceral fat and help prevent the additional formation around the organs.
Don’t give up your resistance training just because spring is here and you are eager to get outside. There is no substitute for lifting heavy weights 2 to 3 times each week. Your health is on the line. GET AFTER IT!
Your friend and trainer,
Owner, ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Wise Women Fitness
So…are you ready to take control of your life and your fears? Contact us today and let’s see if we’re a good fit for each other.