It took a lot of trial and error and research (which I encourage everyone to do!) to get to the mindset I’m at today, but here is my general philosophy as far as workouts and nutrition is concerned:
I believe in eating high protein meals often throughout the day, keeping veggies/fruits up and “junk” down. The specifics are clearly different for every person depending on your goals/needs and some people like to follow different protocols such as IIFYM, gluten free, vegetarianism, or the like- but personally, I just try to keep my protein at around 20g per meal, eat around 4 meals a day, and eat lots of veggies/fruits/complex carbs/healthy fats! (see my Healthy Meal Guide for more details) I don’t count calories. I eat when I’m hungry. I treat myself. I don’t worry about minutia because FRANKLY- as Sweet Brown put it every so wonderfully- “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Obviously, I’m not a fitness competitor, and if I was, I may have a slightly different outlook. But my point here is to show you that it’s okay to not have the exact same diet plans as a fitness competitor you may follow on Instagram. Me? I’m a stage actress and a web designer. I love to be fit because it accents my life, fitness ISN’T my whole life.
I think it’s important to find a balance. You just don’t want to be that person bringing a tupperware “clean meal” to a wedding, or God forbid Thanksgiving dinner. I indulge every once in awhile on a great piece of cheesecake, glass of wine, etc. however it’s important to moderate it. But I’ve found that including “treats” into my diet helps me avoid binging. And when I enjoy the treats- I don’t feel guilty at all. I enjoy every second of it. And that’s the key!
As long as you’re actively keeping lean protein, a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and complex carbs and healthy fats into your nutrition, not skipping meals and eating regularly, you’ll be working towards a healthier metabolism and better health.
ESPECIALLY if you’re a woman, you’ve probably lived under the assumption that to lose weight, you have to run your little booty off every day on the treadmill, take spin classes, or spend hours on the elliptical. Now, that’s all well and good and yeah you’ll probably lose “weight” (i.e. fat AND muscle which is no good) – HOWEVER that usually doesn’t last. Trust me, I KNOW PERSONALLY about this because I used to be the cardio queen! But after some research, I decided that I shouldn’t focus on that anymore, and decided to step into dangerous territory…
THE WEIGHT ROOM.
It’s a scary place for most women. Full of grunting meatheads and testosterone. However, it’s precisely what you need to do in order to really ignite that metabolism and get the strength going that will help you torch calories even at rest!
When it comes to strength training, if fat loss is your goal, I believe to start off free weights are absolutely necessary. Free weights meaning an Olympic bar, plates, and dumbells. Sure, it can be intimidating at first. But SO worth it once you learn the right technique and form! And the great thing is you don ‘t have to do a million different exercises to get good results, you just have to do a few compound lifts to work every single muscle in your body. These lifts include the Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, and Overhead Press along with others.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “I’m gonna get big and bulky and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger if I start lifting heavy!” Nah. All those women you see on bodybuilding competitions that look jacked are usually on steroids as WELL as have been lifting INTENSELY for years to get to that point. Simply put, it’s difficult for anyone to put on muscle, let alone women as they have significantly lower testosterone levels than men. So don’t worry. The only thing that’s gonna happen is you’re going to lose fat, and “tone” up. (By the way, the word tone is really code for building muscle and the only way you can do that is to lift heavy anyways, no matter what you read in any women’s magazine!)
Still not convinced?
I recommend getting a personal trainer for a few sessions, looking at strength programs like Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe (which I followed for about 1 1/2 yrs) or finding good youtube videos on proper form. (Start with my Beginner’s Guide to Lifting!) It really takes the proper research, but it’s worth it to educate yourself!
So trust me on this. Lift weights, girls. There’s nothing like being able to throw iron around in the gym with the boys! And it’s absolutely the key to a firm, toned body. And not only, that, being strong is pretty freaking awesome. It’s one of the most empowering things I’ve ever felt. I actually enjoy that the most.
Now along with a strong body, it’s important to train a strong mind.
Strength training perpetuates POSITIVE body-image. Why? Well, you just can’t build muscles without eating enough. It’s crucial to make progress. Whereas many diets make you feel like you have to starve or go on a juice fast to lose weight, strength training completely transforms your body and way of thinking into an athlete’s perspective. You think the Olympic sprinter on the track is worried about how many cals she eats? Well, maybe only in the fact that she wants to get ENOUGH of them.
In my life I’ve gone through many different fitness paths and I finally believe I’ve found one I’m incredibly passionate about, because it’s not about starving yourself to look like a runway model, but instead using your body to its fullest potention, using food as fuel, and exercise to make you stronger physically and mentally. And that’s just awesome.