3 Reasons Your Workouts May Not Be Working

 

 

I’ve spent the last 9 years either pregnant and gaining weight or working on losing that weight. I’ve realized a few things watching 45-50 pounds come and go so many times. First, it’s easier to gain than to lose. Second, breastfeeding is my weight loss secret weapon, and without breastfeeding losing weight is a TON harder. And third, 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!

 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 frustrating enough to quit trying. 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. 

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’s a 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. 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, and I’ve been attempting to get 10,000 steps each day. Having a watch to count my steps is motivating, and I’ve learned how few steps I actually take in a normal day if I’m not intentionally active. Even though I spend my day 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 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 walking 2-3 days a week for 45 minutes will give us results, we’re going to be disappointed. 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 3 strength training workouts throughout the week. Realistically my daily steps are closer to 8,000 and many weeks I only end up doing 1 day of strength training instead of 3, but setting goals guaranteed to give results helps me see when I slack, 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? 

Double Batch Banana Bread

I woke up today and noticed gnats in our fruit corner, and that normally means it’s time to bake something. I use my trusty 25 year old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for pretty much everything. While the kids were busy doing their morning schoolwork, I threw together some banana bread for our mid-morning snack. The only tip I can add to a basic banana bread recipe is to double the batch so you can share a loaf with a neighbor!

Double Batch Banana Bread

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs

2 cups mashed bananas (5-6 bananas)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cooking oil

Grease loaf pan of choice on sides and bottom.

Mix dry ingredients.

Mix eggs, bananas, sugar, and oil in a separate bowl.

Add banana mixture to dry ingredients; stir and pour into pan/pans.

Bake 35-50 minutes at 350° (more time if you made 1 deep loaf, less time if you divided batter into 2-3 loaves. I used 3 small loaf pans today, and they were done in 35 minutes.)

Summer Things

We may have started our fall home school routine last week, but that doesn’t mean summer is over. We’re still in the thick of it; the air is beginning to smell hot and stale, and we still have two months of summer ahead. I’m trying to enjoy summer while we have it instead of wishing for fall too soon. Here are a few things we’re keeping busy with these last weeks of summer.

Walking…I’ve been walking every evening up and down our little street. When we first moved into our house, I loved our house, our yard, the woods behind our house, but I didn’t particularly like our street. However, once I began walking it regularly I’ve really grown to love it. The people who were strangers have become familiar neighbors. I have little chats with these new neighbors about their pets and their trees, and it’s become one of my favorite ways to end the day. There are 27 houses on our street, and getting to know the people in them one small conversation at a time makes the world feel a little friendlier and safer. My goal this pregnancy has been to walk 5 miles a day (about 10,000 steps). It gets harder and harder to stay motivated to move while pregnant, so making it a habit helps me walk even on days I don’t want to. Most days I feel better once I have gone out and exercised because that’s always what exercise does!

Baking…One of my resolutions this year was to bake less to make my life simpler, but then I remembered I love baking. So, I’ve been baking again. This summer I made my first batch of hot rolls. They made our entire house smell like my grandma’s house. The kids all love to take turns helping me. I know they won’t always want to help, so I’m glad they’re learning now even though it’s sometimes harder when they help. The girls are already volunteering to make things by themselves, and while I’m not quite ready to let them loose alone with a recipe (they’re 6 & 8), I’m excited for the day when they can stretch their independence and accomplish a meal without me!

Cold Suppers…Sometimes when it’s so hot outside, a hot meal is too much. Sandwiches, wraps, and noodle salads are refreshing when it’s feels too hot to eat anything warm. We’ve been having BLT wraps with fresh tomatoes from the farmers’ market every Saturday for lunch, and it’s become a tradition we look forward to all week!

Book gathering…I’ve been slowly reading one book the past couple months. I don’t read very much in the summer, so I’ve been stacking up a few on a special corner of the shelf for fall/winter when the longer hours of darkness makes reading more appealing.

Praying…We have been praying through some things over the past few months, and it has been a defining aspect of our summer. It’s funny how we naturally want to follow our feelings and make quick decisions, but wisdom often tells us to wait and make decisions slowly. I’m thankful for a husband that encourages slow, prayerful decision making. Waiting until we are in perfect agreement on things can take time and can be uncomfortable as we wait in an unknown, but we know it will make the end result sweeter to be 100% in agreement. 

What about you? Does summer end when school starts, or do you let summer stretch until the weather agrees it’s time for a change of seasons?

New Baby in 2020

 

 

I’m so excited to share we’re expecting baby #5! We’ve talked about it off and on over the past two years because I’ve always dreamed of having a large family. We’re beyond excited and grateful for this new addition in early 2020!

I’m still early in my pregnancy, just coming to the end of my first trimester. It’s hard to know when is the best time to share this news, but it’s hard to hide when morning sickness controls everything we do and eat. Right now amidst morning sickness and an almost daily need for a hamburger, I just laugh at how things change. I spent all spring not eating meat, and now that’s all I want. We have to be able to roll with changes in life and be stable and grounded in matters of the soul and not let ourselves be defined by a lifestyle or a diet or any particular area of life. Because everything changes. 

We’re slowly adjusting to what it will be like with another kid in the house. The first trimester has already forced us to slow down and readjust some of our schedule, cutting back on a lot of things. Overall, I’m still feeling exhausted and foggy. I’m looking forward to the second trimester in a couple weeks and hoping it brings energy and motivation! Since this is my fifth pregnancy, and I always have bad morning sickness, I’m planning on writing out some of the tips I’ve gathered over the years. Using all the little tips together has helped me go an entire first trimester with minimal throwing up! With every pregnancy I wonder if it will be my last, so I’m trying to enjoy every moment of this one, and I’m looking forward to sharing more as I go through this pregnancy over the next few months!

Favorites | Youtube Workout Channels

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by how many options we have access to online. So, when I find favorites (workout videos, blogs, etc.) I tend to ignore all 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 (for instance, 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, 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 one of my favorites that I know I like. I 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 YouTube channel choosing a video to do can be a little overwhelming because there are so many options. However, 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 a workout series they created 6 or 7 years ago, and I’ve used their workouts many times since.

Boho Beautiful (for yoga)

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 workout videos online, but finding favorites saves time and energy! 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!