Four years ago I thought it would be neat to share with you some of the top lessons learned that year. In 2013, I shared the top 13 things I learned, and in 2014, I shared the top 14 things I learned. I had a serious case of #mombrain and completely spaced on the lesson learned list in 2015, but brought back the tradition last year. (You can read that post here).
I’ve shared before that I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions.
But, I do believe the end of the year is a great time to take a moment to reflect on the lessons learned over the past year, determine where you want to go and set some small, attainable goals as you work towards your bigger goals in the coming year.
This year, the idea of coming up with 17 new things seemed a bit overwhelming. And to be honest, much of what I’ve learned regarding health and fitness has stayed the same in the past few years.
This year, my lessons learned focus on what stuck out to me more than anything else–the concept of mindset.
But before we jump into my lessons learned, here’s a quick update and recap of 2017!
The BeyondFit team continues expanding, and our amazing community is growing more than I ever imagined it could. I love seeing women from across the globe coming together to spread the message of how to #dofitnessbetter.
It is such a privilege to walk alongside so many amazing women as they not only reshape their bodies, but learn how to live healthy, happy and balanced lives.
We continue to hold our local boot camps. And I am so excited about the ways that we’ve been able to reach more women with online programming via the BeyondFit Life member’s portal, Mom Tummy Rehab, Beyond Baby and more.
All of our programs center around one key theme: sustainable fat loss.
On the family front, Patrick (a.k.a. the @beyondfitdad) and I continue to watch our sweet boys (a.k.a. the @beyondfitkids) grow, learn and explore. I love my role as wife and mommy more than any other job! Although some days feel long, the years sure do seem short.
Lessons Learned: 7 Things 2017 Taught Me
#1 Lesson Learned: Mindset matters.
This year, one of the biggest things I learned (both for myself and in working with my clients) is that distorted thinking patterns and food mindset really do matter. Changing your thinking often constitutes the first step towards changing your actions! Addressing negative or unhelpful thoughts by reframing them into positive and more realistic ways of thinking about food proves extremely helpful when it comes to making fitness and fat loss a lifestyle. Thoughts exert a powerful impact on our feelings and then our actions. Developing a healthier relationship with food changes the perspective of nutrition, dieting, etc. Thus, often changes the feelings and behavior that follow as well.
#2 Lesson Learned: Muscle matters.
Nothing new here! But as I slowly work on building more muscle, I see even more clearly how important it is to lift weights if you want to change your body shape. The BeyondFit Life fitness program incorporates a balance of activities including leisurely walks, some sprints/metabolic conditioning, plenty of stretching, core training, and also weight training. If you really want to take your fat loss to the next level, adding some heavy strength training will be key. Cardiovascular exercise may get you bigger or smaller, but you will stay the same shape.
Weight training is the #1 way to change the shape of your body. Here’s my current plan, and my recommendation to all the women I work with: do strength training 3 times a week for 30 minutes. This increases hormones that help burn fat long after your workout is over. Additionally, it will go a long way toward speeding up your metabolism, tightening and toning your entire body. I believe this is the most often missed secret in fitness for women.
#3 Lesson Learned: All or nothing thinking does not work.
This took me years to learn! For the first decade of my fitness journey I perceived things in black-or-white categories. As a recovering perfectionist, if a situation proved anything less than perfect, I saw it it as total failure. But over time, I learned that this type of thinking just DOES NOT WORK. I work with women all the time who struggle with this area of perfectionism. Whether it’s a stressful job, big life change, move, or even just a social event–if something gets you “off” of your perfect record, many women with the all or nothing mindset experience trouble getting back “on track.” They don’t make healthy choices after their streak of perfection comes to an end. But the truth is, nobody can be perfect forever. Part of living a healthy, happy and balanced life includes breaking free of perfectionist diet patterns that simply don’t work long-term. “I’ve eaten it; therefore, I’ve blown it” is not a realistic way to think about nutrition. “I didn’t workout today; therefore I might as well skip my workouts for the rest of the week” also proves counterproductive. Instead of all or nothing, striving for balance and moderation is key to making health and fitness sustainable.
#4 Lesson Learned: No forbidden foods.
This fits perfectly with the topic of balance and moderation. You can’t develop a healthy relationship with food if you constantly declare war on your body or on the food that fuels it. I’ve learned the hard way (both through experiencing it myself and hearing from hundreds of clients), forbidding myself from eating specific foods actually initiates a rebound effect that triggers overeating! Many physiological effects of food deprivation prove too true.
Ultimately, women who live with forbidden food rules often end up obsessively thinking about food, overeating said food, feeling guilty and then repeating the cycle. Over time, as I learn to #dofitnessbetter, I’ve determined I don’t need a list of forbidden foods. Most of the time, I fuel my body with whole foods that nourish and provide the vitamins and minerals I need. I focus on the 2 P’s (protein+produce). In addition, I watch for changes in my hunger, energy, and cravings and adjust my nutrition intake accordingly. For me, getting rid of forbidden foods has ended the “now or never” type of overeating that I fell prone to in the past.
#5 Lesson Learned: The secret of structured flexibility.
Maintaining a structured plan that helps you make wise and healthy choices without being “all-or-nothing” is key. Choose a healthy lifestyle program such as BeyondFit Life and follow the general nutrition guidelines. A healthy diet structure gives room for freedom and flexibility. Which means you’ll be able to listen to your body, honor your hunger and work towards reaching your goals. If you don’t have a structure, you’re left guessing. Which leads to erring on the side of hunger and deprivation to get your results. Finally, if your structure is too strict, without the flexibility to adjust based on hunger, energy and cravings or pick and choose foods you enjoy, you’ll never be able to follow the program long-term.
#6 Lesson Learned: No more carb-o-phobia.
This lesson spent years in the making! When I began training for my bikini competition two years ago, I started tracking macros and carb-cycling. (Remember that the macros each person needs vary on individual body composition, but this blog post is designed to give you a general idea of how carb-cycling works). This year, I’ve delved even deeper into the research of many popular diet trends and see the importance of not cutting out any food groups, specifically, carbs.
In my previous dieting days, I admit that I thought if low carb=good, then lower carb=BETTER. I was terrified to eat anything with carbs. Looking back on it, that mindset really hindered my progress. When you eat carbohydrates, your body releases the storage hormone insulin in order to break down the carbs and deliver them as fuel to your muscles. The problem exists when excess carbs that don’t get stored in the muscle, get stored as fat.
High-carb days are beneficial as they help promote muscle growth and replenish the glycogen stores that fuel your muscles. This is extremely important for women who engage in high intensity weight training workouts. On high days you’ll notice you feel more energetic and have more intensity to bring to your workouts. High-carb days also work to minimize muscle break-down (catabolism). Additionally, they reset the hormones leptin, cortisol and serotonin to help burn fat, boost mood and hinder cravings.
Low-carb days help to minimize fat gain from the higher carb intake of the previous day. Also, they promote fat burning. On low-carb days, you signal your body to burn fat for fuel instead of burning the carbs it normally eats as fuel for the day. Low-carb diets also improve insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for both fat loss and muscle building. So finding a balance between both is key. Want more help? Work with me one-on-one to set up a carb-cycling plan that’s right for you!
#7 Lesson Learned: Listen to your body.
Your body is not a machine. If you fail to take notice when your body sends you signals, you risk metabolic slow down. In addition, you can experience decreased ability to recovery from training or an injury, and many other issues over time. Many times, hunger and cravings are ways that your body communicates with your brain regarding what it needs to thrive. It feels so easy to fall into the “all-or-nothing” diet trap and ignore hunger and cravings all together. It proves even easier to give in to the emotional desire to eat everything you can get your hands on.
One thing that I’ve learned to do lots of this year is to stop and ask myself, “What does my body really need?” When you feel a craving hit, it’s important to identify if this craving is signaling a need in your body. For example, if you’re craving chocolate, it may be your body’s way of letting you know that you’re deficient in magnesium. If you’re craving cheese, your body may need some essential fatty acids or have a calcium deficiency. If you’re craving salt, it may mean your body needs chloride. Studies show that certain cravings correlate to certain bodily needs. So, when a craving hits, make this your first step. Identify what your body may need and look for a HEALTHY way to meet that need.
Appreciate the journey in 2018. See your health and fitness goals as an ongoing process rather than a destination.
I wish you a wonderful year with good health, love and lots of happiness!
Sustainability matters! From “quick fixes” to diet gimmicks and everything in between, people try to sell you on the “latest and greatest” New Year’s fitness trends, diets, workouts, etc, but here’s a secret that they’re all missing: SUSTAINABILITY! If it’s not sustainable, it won’t work long term.
Don’t waste your money on quick fixes this year. Ask yourself, “Is this something I could do for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, it simply won’t work for. Look for something that lasts. Let me teach you how to #dofitnessbetter! Join the BeyondFit Life Club today!