3 REASONS YOUR WORKOUTS MAY NOT BE WORKING

 

 

I’ve spent the last 9 years either pregnant and gaining weight or working to lose that weight. I’ve realized a few things watching 45-50 pounds come and go so many times: it’s easier to gain than to lose, breastfeeding is my weight loss secret weapon, and without breastfeeding losing weight is a TON harder. No amount of studying for my degree in health or studying to become a personal trainer could compare to the “hands on” learning that postpartum put me in!

One of the biggest frustrations I think most of us have with our weight is when we’re actively trying to lose weight but our hard work seems to not be doing its job. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to the gym and grueling through uncomfortable workouts just to see the scale stay the same, or worse go up. It’s enough to make me want to just quit sometimes; if working so hard isn’t doing anything for me, why continue pushing myself? However, before we quit, there are a few things to remember– important things that explain why those workouts may not be doing what we’re hoping they will do, and a few things we can change to actually see results. 

    • First, our bodies want to stay the same, so working out makes us hungry and subconsciously causes us to eat just enough extra food to stay at the same weight. It’s called homeostasis, and it’s the body’s way of staying balanced. It’s hard to break this balance, but it’s not as difficult as we make it. We complicate it with talk of slowing metabolisms, special diets, etc. but it really boils down to this simple formula: calories burned must be greater than calories eaten. The hard part is keeping the calories eaten less than the calories burned long enough to actually burn fat because one cheat day can make up for an entire week of working hard, and your body will happily remain balanced and at the same weight.

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    • Next, it’s painful for most of us to admit, but we often aren’t working out as hard as we think we are. Most of us don’t have to move very much during the day. We’ve been privileged/cursed to be able to live completely sedentary lives and still survive just fine. I’ve been keeping track of my steps this pregnancy with this Garmin watch Pete purchased me a couple years ago, and I’ve been attempting to make the step count as close to 10,000 each day as possible. It’s been motivating, and more than anything, I’ve learned how few steps I actually take in a normal day if I don’t try to be active. Even with kids, I can go an entire day with fewer than 3,000 steps (or traveling less than 2 miles.) This means if I want to get 10,000 steps (about 4.5 miles for me), I need to spend more than 30 minutes walking. Whoever created the step counter was a genius, and basically helped all of us realize how little (some of us) move in our daily lives. I’ve used this and this and even one of these to track my steps, and they all work great. 45 minutes or more feels productive enough to make us think we can skip a day here and there, but if we’re hoping 2-3 days a week for 45 minutes will give us results, we’re going to be disappointed. If you are spending those same 45 minutes doing an intense workout, you will not need to workout intensely every day, but you will still need to walk at least 30 minutes on the off days. Especially if we spend our entire day sitting still, it takes a lot of intentional walking/movement to expend the energy we need to to lose weight. I like to attempt the “magical” 10,000 steps each day and then do about 3 intense workouts throughout the week, often involving weights or strength training. Realistically my daily steps are closer to 8,000 and many weeks I do 1 intense workout instead of 3, but setting high goals that I know will give me results helps me see where I’m slacking, so at least I’m not surprised when I gain a couple pounds or fail to lose weight when I’m trying to.

 

    • Finally, the part that ruins it for most of us: we don’t need to eat as many calories as we think. Along with our privilege/curse of a sedentary life, we have also been “gifted” with extremely delicious and available food. In reality, we can easily eat all the calories in one meal that we need for an entire day. There are so many helpful apps and websites where you can type in the foods you eat each day to see how many calories you are eating, and it’s extremely helpful to use one of these when you feel like you’ve gotten off track. I like to use one for about a week or so, just to remind myself what foods or what time of days I am overeating. We often eat because we’re bored, because food tastes good, and sometimes because we’ve trained ourselves to avoid the feeling of hunger. It’s also very easy to eat too much when we are hungry because we eat too quickly. Eating slowly and intentionally can help your body realize when it feels full enough without overeating. A good rule is to stop eating before you’re full and give your body 15-20 minutes to decide if you actually need to eat more or if you just want more because it tastes good.

Counting steps and calories are both extremely helpful skills that can be learned and done more organically once you’ve gotten used to knowing how many steps are “enough” each day and when you’ve eaten enough. Keeping a regular tally of calories in and steps taken sounds like a chore, but once you’ve done it for a week or two it becomes second nature to go out for an evening walk for extra steps at the end of the day and to stop eating before you’ve eaten too much.

The most important thing I’ve realized when it comes to weight loss is to be consistent, and stop worrying so much about the small mistakes and the last 5-10 pounds. I’m not sure if it’s being in my 30’s, but stressing out about a perfectly flat stomach just feels unimportant now (even when I’m not pregnant!) Being overly concerned with appearance isn’t what drives my desire for working out and staying fit as much as it did once upon a time. Feeling good, being in control of my body (not letting hunger or food control me), feeling strong, and having clarity in my mind are my motivators now. What about you? What motivates you to workout? Do you struggle with any of these points? 

MY THREE FAVORITE YOUTUBE WORKOUT CHANNELS

 

 

You can literally find anything on the internet, and it’s almost overwhelming to me sometimes. When I find a favorite anything (workout videos, blogs, etc.) I tend to ignore any other options and stick with my favorites, just to make my life simpler.

I’ve always enjoyed workout videos. I finally got rid of all my old VHS exercise videos during one of our minimalist sweeps of the house when I realized YouTube was an unending resource for free workouts. When I’m feeling adventurous, I just type in an amount of time (like, 30 minute workout) or sometimes a specific workout (zumba, cardio, yoga, etc.) and scroll through whatever pops up and pick a random workout to do. Sometimes this works out, and other times I realize I don’t like it 10 minutes into the workout, and I quit and search for another one. Most of the time, though, I go back to my steady favorites that I know I like and I know will give me a good workout. I definitely have a few others that I use from time to time, but these are my top go to exercise YouTube channels and a few reasons why these stand out over the thousands of option.

Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home

I love simple workouts, and there’s nothing simpler than walking and running outdoors. Sometimes the weather makes that impossible and sometimes I just want to stay inside. When the gym isn’t an option, Leslie Sansone videos are amazing! They’re sorted by time and distance, and take zero skill and only occasional hand weights. They’re not flashy and they might not be very exciting, but all you have to do is put the time in and calories are burned. They’re so easy and take very little thought, I will play her workouts on my phone while I watch a movie or tv show on my computer, and the time flies. It’s basically like using a treadmill without having the bulky treadmill taking up space in your house.

Tone It Up

Tone It Up has tons of different workouts. Even within their channel it can be a little overwhelming to choose which video to do, but I use their videos when I want to focus on strength but I don’t feel like working out “alone” or making up my own workout. They’re peppy and professional and with the amount of options, you never get bored. They have a prenatal workout that I really enjoy and have been using a lot this pregnancy. I think I ran across one of their workout series 6 or 7 years ago, and ever since then, I go back to their videos at least 5-6 times a month.

Boho Beautiful (for yoga)

To be honest, I haven’t watch most of this couples’ videos, and they have a lot that aren’t workouts. I probably should before I recommend them…HOWEVER, I really enjoy their yoga videos. In the past I always felt like yoga was boring, but the Boho Beautiful yoga videos are simple enough to do without a lot of yoga skill yet challenging enough that I always feel a burn during and afterwards. I like doing one of their yoga videos on days when I would rather take a day off or in the evening after a walk or run. 

There are SO many other good videos, but sometimes too many options makes it hard to decide and finding and having favorites helps in the decision making process! Do you have any favorite YouTube workout videos or channels? I’d love to hear what you use on those at home and indoor days!

 

HYMNS


 

“Speak to one another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the LORD, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 5:19-20

I love traditions, and the older I get, the more I appreciate them. I started writing out some of my favorite old hymns to sing to my babies and kids as they were falling asleep a few years ago, and I often grab my list of songs, including these hymns, to remember the lyrics when I’m singing kids to sleep. I feel like the hymns double as peaceful songs to help them fall asleep and deep truths for them to think about. Do you appreciate hymns or introducing traditions to your kids? I’m linking some here; let me know if you have any favorites I’ve missed!

And Can it be That I Should Gain

As the Deer

Be Thou My Vision

Come Thou Almighty King

Come Thou Fount

Fairest Lord Jesus

For The Beauty of the Earth

How Great Thou Art

Just as I am

My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

O God Our Help in Ages Past

Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him!

This is My Father’s World

Thy Mercy My God

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

BARBECUE TOFU


I’m blocking out the sounds of the television as I write because we managed to have such a productive day, the kids are getting to enjoy a show while I take a few moments at my desk. The toddler is napping, my tofu is pressing for dinner, and I’m sipping some afternoon tea in this nice, quiet moment after a full day of learning, reading, playing, and an outing to the library. I made it to my scheduled writing time without even scribbling a tiny note on a scrap of paper today; the productivity of today feels noteworthy!

And, just like that, after 10 minutes of writing, I was distracted for 3 hours playing Stratego with Jude (his 4 year old version), finishing dinner, and cleaning up dinner.  However, that’s okay because now I can talk about the tofu that I nonchalantly mentioned above.  In reality, this is the first time I’ve tried cooking it.  And truthfully, I’ve been scared to attempt it.  I decided, however, I needed to try something new for protein after eating an on-again off-again vegetarian diet for about 7 years and never once using tofu.  I’ve eaten a lot of tofu prepared by restaurants that has left me more than unsatisfied, and I think I’ve assumed if they can’t cook it in a way that I like, why would I ever be able to do any better?  I found a few recipes I want to try eventually, but I finally settled on this recipe from ohmyveggies.com entitled Baked Barbecue Tofu (Tofu for Tofu Haters).  This seemed like a good place to start, when barbecue is loved in our home and tofu is new.

To begin, I research research RESEARCH everything to the extreme, and cooking tofu was no exception. I learned from a vegan cookbook from the library that firm tofu cooks best, and all tofu has to be pressed to remove the excess water from it so the blandness of the tofu can be replaced with whatever flavored sauce you choose to cook it in. I followed the tofu prep directions from the cookbook and the recipe closely, and I think I can say it was a hit! Kids weren’t clamoring for more, but we all ate what was on our plates and only the two year old wouldn’t eat his. For dinner tonight I paired it with roasted potatoes and a simple oven-roasted asparagus recipe (one of our favorite’s) from the pioneer woman.  I’m still unsure of the texture; I think that’s the number one reason I’ve been disappointed with tofu before.  However, as far as a meat replacement, it took the place of chicken in a way black beans never can.  I’ll be trying this recipe again but not before I try crumbling tofu in vegetarian tacos first.  I’m hoping crumbling it will hide the texture…?  I’ll let you know when I try it!

What about you? Are you a tofu lover or tofu hater? Do you have a favorite tofu recipe? I would love to hear your favorite way to eat it!

WHAT OUR KIDS EAT ON A PLANT-BASED DIET

I have a secret that I never tell people in person: one of the reasons we homeschool is so that we can feed our children healthy food.  The amount of processed food going into kids these days by the hand of caregivers is ridiculous, and there’s no way to justify it.  When the ingredients aren’t even real food, it shouldn’t take the place of food no matter how cheap or easy it is to prepare.  We can’t give up and grow unhealthy kids for the sake of convenience!

Children are just like adults, and they won’t learn lasting healthy habits if we focus on what we shouldn’t be feeding them.  If our kids think foods high in sugar and fat are good–even in moderation–they will think we are depriving them of good food when we ask them to eat healthy foods.  Because they don’t know any different, they will eat unhealthy foods until they are sick.  It’s our job to regulate what goes into their bodies and teach them about how our bodies work!  They WANT to eat healthy food when they understand that the food they eat grows the cells in their bodies and each cell creates more cells until that group of cells becomes them. 

Kids don’t want to be tricked; they know we have more power than them and that we could manipulate or deceive them.  They’re naturally cautious of our motives and will rebel if they don’t think our reasons are for their benefit.  If we aren’t letting them in on the great secrets of how cells divide and grow our bodies, they won’t ever see the importance of eating healthy foods.  Because processed foods taste good and are often easy and fun, they’ll only eat veggies if they understand the importance of real food. 

Kids are also brutal bullies, and food is a seemingly innocent thing that kids bully each other over.  As adults, we often miss kids bullying each other over food, or we miss its power.  If we place our kids in a setting where it’s cool to have the newest processed food and uncool to bring their healthy lunch, they’ll ignore our pleas that they eat healthy, and we’ll lose the food battle (a battle that is actually for their health.)    

After all that, I feel like I should have a great master menu of what the meals and foods are that I give our kids, but really I just try to shove as much fruit and vegetables into them as possible!  Nothing is packaged or processed.  Breakfast gets loaded down with fruit, lunch is fruits and vegetables, and we have at least 2-3 different vegetables at dinner.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard about eating a plant-based diet is to eat some form of protein at every meal.  This is especially important with kids.  Whether it’s just a handful of nuts, nut butter, seeds, beans, or eggs, protein keeps them full and satisfied.   

It’s a glimmer of hope when one of the kids voluntarily asks if a food is healthy or not.  I hope they internalize the why behind healthy eating and continue to make healthy choices for themselves as they get older.  For now I think it’s our responsibility to teach our kids that food from the earth is good and anything else should be avoided or eaten cautiously in moderation.  

Do you struggle with getting your kids to eat healthy foods?  Do you have any tips that I didn’t talk about that help get kids to choose healthy foods on their own?  Let me know!  I’d love to hear how you teach your kids about eating healthy!