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The 12 Afterburn Nutrition Program: Final Results

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Last week I completed my nine week Afterburn Nutritional Coaching at The 12 in Irvine. In spite of the fact that I spent the final weekend of my challenge on a girls weekend in Chicago – vacation binging – I am happy with the results.

After the weekend of indulging, I was a little nervous about my final weigh in. Luckily, I had done enough well over the nine-week period that I could overcome some deep dish pizzas, Chicago dogs, and cold beer. By the way, totally worth it.

At the conclusion of nine weeks of Afterburn Nutritional Counseling, I am happy to report that I have lost 10.8 pounds of fat. I am even more excited that I gained 1.1 pounds of muscle. Muscle gain is not easy for me to do at this advanced age. 😉

Reluctantly, I share a before and after photo. It’s okay, my kids don’t read this blog. Here is my mama-belly, before and after –

IMG_1485

My weight is fairly evenly distributed, so it’s not a dramatic change in the photo. I did reduce my body fat percentage by 28%, from 24.7% to 17.7%, which is a pretty significant improvement. An improvement that allows me to fit into all my clothes again – no Spanx required.

Far more important than the reflection in the mirror or the number on the scale though, is how I feel – healthy, strong and happy. I celebrated a birthday during the nine-week program, and took time to reflect and appreciate this step I have taken to improve my long-term health and wellness.

There may not be anything I can do about the growing number of candles on my cake, the gray hairs on my head, or the wrinkles on my face, but what I can control is what I feed my body and how much I move. My goal for this life is to be healthy and strong enough to participate in the activities I enjoy – hiking, running, and generally just keeping up with my teenagers. I hope to enjoy these activities for many years to come. I want more moments like this – my sixteen mile hike to the top of Santiago Peak.

Hikepic

Thanks to the Afterburn Nutrition program, I achieved this goal, and am looking forward to tackling more in the future.

The Afterburn Nutrition program gets results. I’m not speaking just for me. I have seen it time and time again – for every client who truly commits to the program. These are some of the reasons why I believe it works so well:

Personalized nutritional counseling and education – The 12’s team of Certified Nutritionists customize the program for each and every client. Their extensive experience helping a broad range of men and women, means that they have the training and in-depth knowledge to help each individual client achieve his or her goals. They understand the connection between macronutrients and the human body, but that everyone is ultimately an experiment of one. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. It was very much customized to my body type, activity level and fitness goals. The 12’s Coaches also juggle work, family, and fitness themselves, and understand how to help clients achieve balance. Plus, they are a pretty photogenic group.

Afterburn Nutrition Coaches

Daily food logging and accountability – The process of logging everything you eat and having that log reviewed by your coach provides immediate and sustained accountability. I can’t tell you how many times I thought “I really don’t want to log this food and I really, really don’t want my coach to see that I ate that.” Just that thought alone prevented me from eating (and drinking) things that would not have helped me achieve my goals.

Eating frequently and focusing on macronutrients – I detailed my diet extensively in this post, so I won’t get into many specifics, but eating frequently (5-6 meals per day), with  balanced macronutrients revs up your metabolism and staves off hunger. I never felt hungry on this plan. What was really exciting for me, is that I could actually feel my body becoming more efficient. I imagined it becoming a fat-burning machine, and in reality, it was.

Limiting alcohol – Right after “what are you eating?”, the biggest question people asked me during the nine weeks is “how are you doing without wine?” In truth, I didn’t have zero alcohol for the entire nine weeks of the program. I was very good for about six weeks, then reintroduced wine to my diet during the last few weeks. For me, this was more realistic. I know that I will not forgo wine forever, so learning how to balance it during the last few weeks was important for my long-term success.

A couple of notes on alcohol. First, if you want to achieve your best results, eliminating alcohol is key – not forever, but for some extended period of time. If you just do this one thing (and keep everything else constant), you will make improvements in your health. Second, when I eliminated alcohol entirely from my diet, my sleep improved dramatically. As a person who suffers from insomnia somewhat regularly, a good solid night of sleep is one of the most coveted things in my life. When I eliminated sugar, processed foods and alcohol from my diet, my sleep improved significantly. I have been sleeping well for nine weeks, and I can’t even tell you what a difference that makes in my life. It’s a nutritional challenge miracle!

Exercising regularly – While participating in the program, I exercised 4-5 days per week. I detailed more about my exercise regimen in this post. While regular exercise maximized my results, it was not significantly more what I was doing before I started the nine-week plan. Exercise keeps you healthy and strong (both physically and mentally) but if you are looking for fat loss, it really, really, really boils down to nutrition. I can not emphasize this point enough.

A coach in your corner – Having my coach, Cyrus Mokhtari, in my corner was invaluable. I learned so much about nutrition in our weekly meetings – about optimizing pre and post workout meals, balancing macros, best sources of proteins, fats and carbohydrates – the list goes on and on. What I loved most about working with Cyrus is that he is understanding and supportive. He cheered me on when I had success, and didn’t criticize or make me feel bad when I made mistakes. He is on his own journey to achieving his best version himself, so he understands the struggle. He can relate to his clients, and his clients to him. This made me feel like I was part of a team – working together to achieve maximum results.

With good nutrition, regular exercise, and great coaching, I am feeling better than ever heading into summer. Now, my goal is to not get too far off course by all the summer barbecues, vacations and parties – to find the balance between enjoyment of food and discipline in my nutrition. I know it will be an ongoing journey, but now that I’ve completed the Afterburn Nutrition program, I feel armed with the knowledge I need to make the right choices and maintain my results.

If you are interested in discussing how an individual nutrition program can help you achieve balance – physically, mentally and emotionally, I encourage you to contact Cyrus Mokhtari at The 12 for a free Afterburn Nutrition consultation. You have nothing to lose, and a better version of yourself to gain. Summer is a great time to start your own journey. And Cyrus is the guy to help you get there.

Thank you Cyrus, trainers Angela and Sofee, and all the good folks at The 12 for providing me with this opportunity, believing in me, and cheering me on along the way. I couldn’t have achieved the results without you.

Disclaimer: Although I am receiving some complimentary services from The 12, I am not being compensated in any way for participating in this process and documenting my results. All information shared in this blog (as always) is my unbiased, unsponsored opinion.

 

The 12 Afterburn Nutrition Program: Meal Planning and Progress

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I’m in week four of my nine-week Afterburn Nutrition Program at The 12. I’m down six pounds, feeling strong and sleeping like a baby. Excited about my results to date. But I’m not done yet. I still have work to do.

The question that people are asking me lately is “what are you eating?” I’ll try to provide some clarification in this post.

Keep in mind, the Afterburn Nutrition program is highly customized for each client. My meal plan is based upon my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR); activity level; body type; and food likes, dislikes, allergies, special dietary requirements etc. The nice thing about working one-on-one with a nutritional coach, is that the plan is customized for me – to deliver MY best possible results.

With that said, there are basic guidelines that apply to anyone participating in the program. First and foremost, the goal of the nutrition plan is to eat the right amount at the right times to keep your blood sugar level as consistent as possible – avoiding large spikes or drops. You want your blood sugar to look like the dotted waves within the two lines on the following chart:

Blood Sugar Chart

To do this, you need to keep your body fed consistently throughout the day. For me, this means eating six, yes SIX, meals a day. Not large meals obviously, but meals that provide a good mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat – to regulate blood sugar and give my body the fuel it needs throughout the day. A meal with too many carbs spikes blood sugar, causing us to store fat. A meal without any carbs drives it down, burning muscle and causing energy crashes. Protein helps us build and maintain lean muscle. Some healthy fat in every meal is like a referee in your stomach saying “Slow down everyone. Let’s hang out for a little bit and chill. We don’t all need to hit the blood stream at once.”

My Afterburn Nutrition coach, Cyrus Mokhtari, helped me to understand this whole process. Together, we developed my daily meal plan – exactly what I need to eat each day. There is no special food to buy. All meals use real food I already have in my kitchen. I can vary the meals from day to day, but the basic meal plan provides me the framework to make the right choices. It’s easy and simple and takes the guess-work out of meal planning.

I log all my meals in the My Fitness Pal app. Cyrus reviews them throughout the week and provides me with feedback. I also weigh in weekly at The 12. The scale there measures my weight, body fat percentage, percentage of lean muscle, water weight, BMR, and more. After weighing in, I meet with Cyrus to discuss results and make adjustments for the following week. We also have a weekly nutritional topic to help me learn about all aspects of nutrition so I can achieve optimum health through diet and exercise, in the long-term.

OCGreenMamaweighin

This week, after losing five pounds of pure fat, I also lost a pound of muscle (nooooo….). The answer to this problem – more calories and more food! For my BMR and activity level, I wasn’t eating enough calories to avoid losing muscle, so we increased my total calories and developed a new meal plan to keep me burning fat and gaining muscle in the weeks to come.

I can honestly say, that although I still have cravings from time to time (hello wine, cheese and bread – I see you there. We will reunite at a later date), I have never felt hungry or deprived on this program. To the contrary, I feel like I’m always eating – like ALWAYS EATING.

For those interested, here is a quick rundown of my daily meals:  My pre-workout meal is generally coffee (yay for coffee) with a little half and half and Stevia, and steel cut oats with some protein powder mixed in. (Choose protein flavor of your choice – no butter or sugar necessary.) My post workout meal is a banana, blended with protein powder and ice.

Lunch is usually a “rice bowl” – using cauliflower rice instead of white rice – with some protein (chicken, ground turkey) and veggies. (Side note, the Riced Cauliflower at Trader Joe’s is a God send. If you can find it in the freezer section of your local Trader Joe’s, pick some up immediately. It will change your life, seriously.) Yesterday’s “rice” bowl:

OCGreenMamaLunchBowl

Then, I have a “snack meal” of some almonds and cottage cheese, or hard boiled eggs and veggies, or apple with almond butter, or if I’m on the road, a Yeah One or other type of protein bar.

Next is dinner, with grilled fish or chicken, veggies, with a roasted sweet potato or cauliflower rice. Finally, a late evening snack, that is high in protein and low in carbs, like some chicken with avocado slices or cottage cheese and tomatoes.

If you want more detail about what I’m eating each day, you can follow me on My Fitness Pal – @ocgreenmama.

Five weeks to go. I’ll update here in a couple weeks with more results and details about the exercise component of the program. Until then, please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

For more information about Afterburn Nutrition, contact Cyrus Mokhtari at The 12.

Disclaimer: Although I am receiving some complimentary services from The 12, I am not being compensated in any way for participating in this process and documenting my results. All information shared in this blog (as always) is my unbiased, unsponsored opinion.

The 12 Afterburn Nutrition Program: Let’s Do This

A couple of years ago, I participated in a 12-week challenge at The 12, an Orange County gym with locations in Irvine and Costa Mesa. As those of you who followed my journey know, I had a great experience and some incredible results.

Sadly, good changes don’t always stick, especially without continued effort. I did sustain my post-challenge results for a little over a year, but then, things started to slide. Although I am working out consistently, the weight is creeping back slowly and steadily. When the stress gets high, I too often turn to my comfort foods – generally bread, cheese and wine.

I realize more than ever that diet makes ALL the difference. And mine needs an adjustment. I want to change, but don’t want to it alone. The advice, guidance, moral support and accountability during the 12-week challenge is a big part of the reason I was successful.

I was lamenting my slide in results when Cyrus Mokhtari, a certified Afterburn Nutrition Coach at The 12, approached me after class and asked if I would be interested in participating in The 12’s new nutritional counseling – called Afterburn Nutrition. After a few days of can-I-do-this-again thoughts running through my head, and emails back and forth with Cyrus – basically me asking “Do I really, really have to give up wine for eight weeks?” Short answer to that – yes, I do. (Pray for me friends). In the end, I decided to go for it.

I’m excited about starting this program because I know how good my results were last time. I know there is a better version of myself in there, and she just needs a little coaching to get out.

The better version of me looked like this after photo from my 12-week-challenge a couple of years ago.

OCGreenMamaChallenge1.12Collage

For me, nutrition and health isn’t about looks though. My before may be another person’s after. And my after, someone else’s before. All of our bodies are different. I just want to be the best version of me again because it FEELS good. The post-challenge version of me felt better than I ever have in my adult life – healthy, strong, and confident. I also slept like a baby and was full of energy to take on each day. That is the person I want back, regardless of what the scale says. (Though I will admit that ditching Spanx this summer would be a nice side benefit.)

So this time is going to be different…really. First, because now I have a clear vision of what type of results are attainable for me. I’m also wiser about what it takes to maintain those results. Second, the Afterburn Nutritional coaching is highly customized for each client’s body type, fitness level, and lifestyle, so my specific nutritional needs will be taken into account when creating my plan. The Afterburn Nutrition Coaching program can help me create a program I can stick to…for the long term.

I began my nine-week program this week. Like the 12-week challenge, the Afterburn Nutritional program starts with a ten-day cleanse. I wrote extensively about that cleanse here on my blog last time, so I’ll spare the long explanation here. Suffice it to say, forgoing caffeine, alcohol, processed sugar, salt, eggs, soy, beef, pork, foods with wheat or wheat flour or corn or cornflower, and any and all processed foods is no small challenge. I’m on day three now and definitely looking forward to day ten – bring back the coffee, that beautiful warm tasty beverage …

I’ll update again soon with my post-cleanse thoughts and results and the next steps in the Afterburn Nutritional program. I hope you will follow along with me on this new journey, learn about the Afterburn Nutrition program, and be inspired to make your own nutritional changes for better health.

Disclaimer: Although I am receiving some complimentary services from The 12, I am not being compensated in any way for participating in this process and documenting my results. All information shared in this blog (as always) is my unbiased, unsponsored opinion.

My Twelve Week Challenge: The Results, Part Two

My alternative title for this post is “I am the dragonfly”.

OCGreenMama_Results2CollageSo, that’s the surprise I promised to reveal in part one of my challenge results. Not quite as cool as some had speculated, but there it is.

It took me some time to post this. First, because this took some time to get done. Two sessions actually. After five hours of a pain I would put just a notch below childbirth, I’m done.

Then, I had to wait for it to heal. I would not subject you to freshly-inked tattoo photos (you’re welcome).

Some will think it’s cool. Others will find this ridiculous or say I’m going through a mid-life crisis. Here’s the best thing about coming to the end of this journey – it makes no difference to me. I love it. My family loves it. That’s all that really matters. The line of people who agree with everything I’ve done/said/posted is very short and probably only includes people I’ve known for less than a week. Approval from others is no longer necessary for me. It’s quite freeing.

Plus, since this tattoo will be hidden about 98% of the time, I plan to spend the rest of my life meeting new people and thinking in my head “you might not know this about me, but I’m pretty bad ass.”

Which is pretty cool. What’s also cool is the story leading up to this tattoo. I’ll share the short version.

At the beginning of my twelve-week challenge, I decided that at the end of it, I was going to do something that I had been contemplating for some time – get a dragonfly tattoo. Around the same time, my husband and I reconnected with some old friends. These friends introduced me to beautiful and talented Hillary of Royal Ink Tattoo.

Hillary read my story and designed this beautiful piece of art for me.

As we were chatting during my time under the needle, or rather everyone else (my husband, Hillary, and our friends Josh and Sasha – who introduced me to Hillary and whose moral support helped me get through the pain) chatted and I remotely listened in between prayers to God to get me through the pain, we discovered, Hillary is also this person –

OCGreenMama_SnowWhite

The princess in this photo – a photo that sat framed on my daughter’s nightstand for most of her life.

Serendipity. That’s the only word I have for it.

Now, the journey is finished. Thank you so much for letting me share this journey with you. The response to Part One of my challenge results was touching and overwhelming. The calls, emails and texts meant so much to me. I am truly grateful to have some really awesome people in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I said at the beginning that I was embarking on this journey in part, because of dragonflys. I don’t think I even realized how true that would prove to be.

The dragonfly exhibits iridescence both on its wings as well as on its body… The magical property of iridescence is associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self discovery and removal of inhibitions.

This dragonfly is ready to fly. The journey is complete.

My Twelve Week Challenge: The Results, Part One

I finished my twelve-week challenge at The12 on December 29, 2013. The best part about the timing is that for the first time in my life, I began the new year with my diet and exercise goals already met. I can’t believe it – I literally have no New Year’s resolution about changing my body, my diet, or my exercise program. My only goal is to just maintain what I’ve already accomplished, and not screw up my progress to date. I can’t tell you what a great feeling that is.

Looking back, it was a long twelve weeks but also seems like it flew by – from my fears before starting, to my ten-day cleanse, to learning about macro-nutrients and food logging. Then there were the inevitable slip-ups, but finally, my ultimate commitment to the program and “remembering to be awesome”.

Along the way, I learned so much, and realized all the things I was doing wrong before I joined The12.

One thing I can honestly say about this journey is that it was easier than I initially thought it would be. I did not have to work out every day – actually, I only exercised about four times a week. I did not have to starve myself, and at no point did I ever feel hungry. As a matter of fact, some days my problem was not being able to get in enough food. I had support, coaching and encouragement every step of the way.

And, then there are the results. Those speak for themselves.

First, to the numbers, pulled straight from the InBody scale at The12 …

OCGreenMamaChallengeNumbersCollageIn just twelve weeks, I lost 12.4 pounds – from 130.1 pounds to 117.7. Most remarkably, this weight loss was entirely from fat. No loss of water, no loss of muscle. 100% fat loss! My total percentage of body fat dropped from 23.5% to 16.5%. You can see in the body composition percentage numbers above, my body fat mass (the purple line) went way down while my dry lean mass (the blue line) stayed the same.

Then, on to the photos. This part makes me all squirmy and uncomfortable. (I had my daughter take these – yes, she may be scarred for life – every Monday morning literally right before heading out the door to the gym – no hair or makeup – just 43-year-old me. Okay, no more excuses, here goes …)

OCGreenMamaChallenge1.4Collage

OCGreenMamaChallenge6.10Collage

And for the final picture, I think it’s good to look at week one versus twelve. Here is a different angle to mix it up a bit:

OCGreenMamaChallenge1.12Collage

At the beginning of the challenge, my coach asked me to write a letter expressing my reasons for wanting to participate in this challenge – a letter that I could look back on in the weeks ahead to provide the extra motivation I would need to get through the challenge.  

Here is me reading the letter (it will make a bit more sense if you read “this post” before viewing – you know if you have time and all) and a few thoughts after – unscripted, unedited. I had no idea there would be tears and as much over-sharing – which also makes me a little uncomfortable – but here goes…

So there it is – raw and unfiltered. My thoughts on completing this twelve-week challenge. It has been quite a journey, both physically and emotionally. I realize that losing twelve pounds is not some great, earth-shattering accomplishment. I know that others have jumped over much greater health and fitness hurdles than I have. But for me, in my life, it was big. I truly believe that the outside transformation is just a physical manifestation of the transformation inside. There is such a mind-body connection. When you realize that when you put your mind to it, you can transform your body, you also realize that you can transform your thoughts. When you transform your thoughts, you can change your life.

I’ve arrived to a place of peace and happiness, which feels better than any weight loss ever could. Well, that and throwing medicine balls. Those suckers are surprisingly therapeutic.

Finally, a really big thank you to everyone who supported me throughout this challenge. Not only the people at The12 – who were awesome – but also to family and friends who sent me kind words, left me likes and comments on my posts and pictures, and offered words of encouragement. Each and every one really meant a lot to me.

This is merely a step of my journey – not the final one. I am setting out new goals and challenges for 2014. For the first time in a long time, I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the new year. #12monthchallenge coming up next. I’m ready.

My Twelve Week Challenge: When You Remember to be Awesome

First of all, let me clarify that I am not claiming that I am awesome. However, I do have the capacity for awesomeness, and this is something I have a tendency to forget.

At some point during this challenge, I think shortly after the time I wrote this post about my struggles, I decided that there was a little bit of awesome left in me, and I should probably start using it.

I just woke up one day and thought, “What if I kicked ass today?”

And then I did. And then the next day, and the next, and the one after that. Before I knew it, my schedule looked like this –

Guess what happens when you decide to kick ass? You get results.

Results mean you hit your twelve week goal by the end of week seven. Bam! And that feels really, really good.  I’ve dropped ten pounds and reduced my body fat percentage by 4.7% (from 23.5% to 18.8%).

That is a 20% change in body fat in under seven weeks! It’s remarkable to me. For years, I have tried and failed at something that I was able to do in just seven short weeks of The12Movement’s Twelve-Week Challenge.

At the beginning of my challenge, Josh Boyd, CEO and Founder of The12, said to me “If you follow this plan, I believe you will hit your goal by the end of week seven.” And my internal critic was rolling her eyes and saying “Sure Josh. No problem – cough, cough”.

But, guess what? Josh was right. I followed the eating plan, put my all into my workouts, remembered to kick some ass along the way – and I did it.

So what happens now? Do I just hand in the towel and be done?

Well, the first thing I did is gave myself a “free night”. There may have been bread AND cheese AND wine. Shhh, don’t tell my coach Derek Graham.

Now, the next thing I do is get back to work. Yesterday, I met with my coach and we created some new goals – which include building more lean muscle mass and seeing how much I can possibly sculpt this stomach I do not love – the one that two doctors told me nothing short of surgery will fix. Well, now I’m just out to prove them wrong.

And maybe, just maybe I’ll tackle that marathon I’ve been talking about for years. You never know what some great coaching, a lot of hard work, and a little bit of awesomeness can accomplish.

My Twelve Week Challenge: Seven Things I Had All Wrong

Before beginning my Twelve-week Fitness Challenge at The12 gym in Irvine, I considered myself to be a pretty healthy person. I exercised regularly. I ate whole foods, primarily organic. I even tracked my calories (though somewhat irregularly) using MyFitnessPal. But the results just were not there. I would lose and gain the same 8-10 pounds over and over again. I was in a rut where my body was not responding and I knew there had to be a better way.

Now that I am in week six of the challenge, I can look back and see many of the reasons for my poor results. What I realize now is that diet is about 90% of the equation. You can’t out-run, out-lift, out-exercise a diet that isn’t working for your body.

Here is a list of the things I was doing wrong before I started this challenge: (Well, in my diet anyway. We don’t have time or space for the all-inclusive list of my wrong-doings.)

1. Not Eating Often Enough

Before the challenge, I was eating a meal only about twice a day – lunch and dinner. I would usually just have coffee and maybe a banana for breakfast and then go to work out. I wouldn’t eat much throughout the day, and finish with a fairly large dinner. My body was all out of whack, not having the proper fuel to stay energized throughout the day. Now, I eat six smaller meals a day (pre-workout, post-workout, followed by four to five meals throughout the day). I feel like I’m constantly eating, but I’m losing weight.

This single change is so key to maintaining your body in the optimum fat-burning zone. It doesn’t have to be six meals. Maybe four works for you. That’s fine, as long as they are regular and provide you with some good nutrition to sustain you throughout the day. Once your body becomes accustomed to being fed on a regular basis, your metabolism can stabilize and your fat-burning engine can get to work burning that stubborn belly fat that creeps on as you get older.

2. Not Eating Breakfast and/or Before my Workout

We’ve all heard “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” a million times yet somehow, most adults ignore this advice. It’s an old and overused saying – BECAUSE IT’S TRUE. Ideally, you should eat within an hour of waking so your body doesn’t go into “starvation mode”.

Plus, you need food to get through a morning workout. Some good carbs and lean protein in your stomach help you go longer, be stronger and perform better. Your body needs fuel to perform.

3. Not Determining my Specific Calorie Needs per Day and Tracking My Food Consistently

I have been using MyFitnessPal for over a year with mixed results. I was pretty good about logging during the week, but went dark on the weekends. Just those couple of days of not logging made a huge difference in my calories intake, and therefore my results.

“But it’s so time consuming”, I hear people say. Honestly, after you become accustomed to the program and it saves your favorite and most-eaten foods, it’s really doesn’t take that much time. It’s probably about ten minutes per day. Plus, the app is on your phone so you can log it anywhere, anytime. So put down the Candy Crush for a little bit and track your food. It works. I promise.

The first step to tracking your food intake is to determine the amount of calories you need on a daily basis. Here is some great advice from Josh Boyd, CEO and Founder of The12, on how to determine that for your own body –

“Determining how many calories you need to lose weight is one of the most confusing parts of the weight loss process. The simple way to determine this number is to eat 10-12 times your body weight in pounds. For example, a 200lb person would eat 2000-2400 calories.It is always best to start high and come down only if necessary. Your ultimate goal is to eat as many calories as possible that still enable you to lose weight. If eating 9-10 times your body weight results in no weight loss over a period of 3 weeks, you likely have some metabolic damage or down regulation.

To put it simply, a damaged metabolism is typically caused by prolonged excessive calorie restriction combined with excessive physical activity.Your goal should be to eat as much food as possible that still allows you to drop body fat. When you don’t eat enough, important metabolism regulating hormones begin to down-regulate. Hormones such as thyroid and leptin start to lower to create a homeostasis in the body. Not only that, but muscle tissue begins to break down and be used for energy. This reduction in lean body mass also slows your metabolism since muscle is very metabolically active – “eating” fat and burning calories at all hours of the day. ”

This is exactly why determining your caloric intake is so important. You need to eat enough calories to lose weight, but not so many that you don’t get to your goal.

4. Not Eating Enough Protein & Eating Too Many Carbs

As someone who eats primarily vegetarian/vegan, I was loading up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but sort of ignoring my protein intake. I was more concerned about the impact of my food on the environment than I was on the impact of my food on my body. Now, I realize that protein is key to my health, fitness, and weight loss.

I am becoming accustomed to eating organic chicken, wild caught fish and organic cage-free egg whites – like EVERY DAY. Egg whites, who knew? I really never ate them before, and now they are my new go-to source for protein. I hard boil my eggs, and just grab one, pop out the yolk in the middle, and eat them whenever I need a quick snack. I also cook them for breakfast, and even add them to my smoothies (the pasteurized egg whites in a carton). They are my new BFF.

To give you an example of the kind of tweaks that I am talking about, here are some photos of my old salad I would eat for lunch –

OCGreenMamaOldSalad

Sure, it has a lot of good stuff in it, but it’s pretty much all carbohydrates and fat. Very little protein to be found.

I have replaced those old salads with something more like this:

OCGreenMamaSaladCollage

Still lots of organic greens, but adding a substantial amount of protein – wild caught cod fish in the first photo and egg whites and nitrate-free, low-sodium turkey in the second.

The flip side of not eating enough protein is that I was eating far too many carbohydrates.

Now that I am doing the challenge, I get almost all of my carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit. I refer to this drawer of my pantry as the “food I no longer eat”.

OCGrennMamaCarbs

Come to think of it, I pretty much don’t eat out of my pantry at all right now. Almost all of my food is fresh and contained in the meat, vegetable and fruit drawers of my refrigerator.

OCGreenMamaProteinCollage

Right now, my goal is to get 50% of my calories from protein, 30% from carbohydrates and 20% from fat. That is a little extreme, and really only maintainable for me in the short-term. Once I complete the challenge, I plan to go for more for a 40/30/30 split.

So how do you determine how much protein, carbs and fat are right for you? Here is some more advice from Josh specific to determining the right protein, carbohydrate and fat ratios for your needs:

“Try to get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day and eat some protein at each meal. The more active you are, the more protein you’ll need. The lower your body fat percentage becomes, the more protein you will need to intake. Fill the rest of your calories with healthy fats and carbohydrates. The numbers of each will be different for each person, but generally speaking, the more active you are the more carbs you will eat relative to fat. Aim to eat at least 15 grams of fiber for every 100 grams of carbohydrates you consume.”

5. Not Planning my Meals in Advance

The key to maintaining the right macro ratios (protein/carbs/fat) is to plan your meals in advance. Many of the folks at The12 plan them for the whole week, but I am more a day or two at a time kind of person. Also, because I go to at least one grocery store pretty much every day, advance planning is not as important to me. So, find what works for you, but plan it out in advance and log it.

On many days, I log all my food into MyFitnessPal in the morning, then just follow the schedule to hit my macronutrients. When I log early, I can see if my macros are off and adjust accordingly – BEFORE I EAT THE FOOD. By then, it’s too late. You can really “undo” what you already ate, but you can easily tweak a meal in advance.

6. Overestimating the Calorie Burn of my Workouts

Before I started this challenge, I would rely on the calorie information in MyFitnessPal or Runkeeper, or the reading of a friend in class. Now I know that these these measurements were way off. The calorie burn of each person varies greatly depending upon their effort level, weight, percentage of lean muscle mass, etc. My results will not be yours and vice versa. I have also learned that different activities can vary widely in their calorie burn. Workouts should be matched to your goals – weight loss, muscle sculpting, etc.

Now armed with my Polar watch (calibrated to my own individual resting heart rate), I know exactly how many calories I burn during each workout.

OCGreenMamaWatch

More on workouts and sample calorie burn for many different exercises coming up in a future post.

7. Too much Wine, followed by too Much Whine

I love wine – like love. I love to buy it, share it, store it, taste it. I love everything about it. I have this sign in my house and I believe it to be true.

OCGreenMamaWine

But, drinking wine on more nights of the week than not was not doing my body any favors. I was drinking too much wine, and then whining about not being able to lose weight. See the problem?

So, do I not drink wine at all anymore? Hey, let’s not go crazy. Yes, I do still enjoy wine but now it’s more the exception than the rule. My favorite part of the day has always been the post-kid-shuttling, dinner-prep time in the kitchen. I pour a glass of wine to relax while cooking and helping with homework. So, I do still do that, but not every night. And when I do, I actually MEASURE MY WINE before I pour it in my glass. After that, sparkling water in a wine glass works just fine. I have noticed too that one nice glass of red gives me that warm lovely feeling – that promotes joy and relaxation. It doesn’t require three.

Less wine, less whining, more results.

Speaking of results, here’s a quick update. I’m still making progress on the challenge but it’s a little bit slower now, which is to be expected at this point of the challenge. I am still losing body fat but my muscle mass is stabilizing rather than increasing, which is why I just upped my protein consumption.

But more importantly, I feel amazing – lighter, healthier, happier than I have in a long time.

Also, you know those “when I get skinny jeans” you hold on to in your closet. Yep, those are coming out of the bottom of the pile. They may not even be in style anymore but I’m wearing them. Skinny jeans be damned, I’m busting out my actual “skinny jeans”. It’s time to let them see the light of day.