What to expect when you stop losing weight

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I ended my cut recently and it went well. I definitely look and feel faster, slimmer, and my energy levels are back up. I did it all by myself this time, calculated my own macros, and let myself be flexible. 

I was able to tailor my diet and macros towards things I liked to eat and never really felt deprived. A lot of anti-diet advocates focus on the depravity of diets and how you have to postpone all your favorite foods, but in reality as long as you account for them it’s not like you have to lock away all your favorite foods.

Discerning your priorities when it comes to nutrition is what makes a cut really difficult.

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So when you have to choose between 150 calories worth of tortilla chips, vs a big yummy sweet potato, you can opt for the tortilla chips when you’re really feeling it. It’s not moralizing the choice (that tortilla chips are “bad” and you should choose the “good” sweet potato) but rather knowing that when you’re cutting calories, and need to keep your nutrient profile relatively healthy, sometimes you do need to choose the sweet potato.

Of course, you can fill in the blank with whichever foods you prefer, I just chose sweet potato because I found it to be the most recent and relevant example to me. This comes in to play for all kinds of foods, and all kinds of choices.

There are other things I really didn’t expect when I ended my cut, which meant about a month/two weeks each of adding back in some calories bit by bit so my metabolism had time to keep up. I used Renaissance Periodization’s maintenance article to guide me as well as my own hunger cues.

Maintenance is the period of time after you lose weight- you either stay at the weight you’re at, or you give your body a break between cuts to adjust to the new size. So I’ve been upping my calories slowly these past few weeks.

Things I didn’t expect:

The mentality

Going from eating a smaller amount of food to a little bit bigger amounts every two weeks took some getting used to. As I entered my food into MyFitnessPal, all I could think of was “really? All this? And I’m still not at my goal yet?”

It was weird adding an extra serving of tofu, or beans, or whatever else it might be in order to reach a higher calorie goal.

There was a bit of guilt, too, since I advocate for a mixture of intuitive eating and watching what you eat, I felt uncomfortable talking openly about my cut. But as my friend, who’s undergoing her own IE journey, and some fellow RDs (Nutritionist Sam, doctormeetsdietitian) remind me, everyone works best doing their own damn thing.

You can be against the shame, black and white thinking, and sizeism that the diet industry pushes out every day while still personally knowing you need to log food to make sure you’re getting what you need.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but with my ADHD, if I don’t log and watch my food, I’ll be eating those dopamine-hitting foods all day err day. Chocolate, chips, (vegan) cheese, you name it, if my brain gets an extra dopamine hit from it it’ll be there.

It’s not depriving myself of the joy of food; it’s knowing my limits. Which is part of what makes IE make sense to me.

Blooooaaaatiiiing

I already have IBS, so bloating is not a stranger in my life. But wow, adding more food makes you more bloated at the end of the day and feel just a /bit/ more full.

One of those things that I logically knew but then when I experienced it, I just went “oh, well, that’s a thing”.

Energy!!!!!

When I first felt sluggish adding in more food, that slowly gave way to more energy when I lifted and better lifting sessions. I timed it well (on accident, as most things in my life) that my cut ended just in time for my program to get heavier.

I also have had to go for easier cardio now that my energy needs to go towards big lifts, which is another weird feeling. I love a hard cardio session at the end of the week, so gliding away on the elliptical is an experience I haven’t had since my early college days.

Finishing a weight cut and moving to maintenance is, like weight loss itself, a process.

It deals a lot with listening to your body, paying attention to how you feel after you eat, and changing your routine just enough that your body can get used to the new weight.

We’ve got a ways to go yet (I probably won’t cut during the summer and jury’s still out if it’d be worth cutting during my internship), but I’m pleased with how I’m doing so far.

I’ll talk more about body image in another post but for now, don’t forget to do your homework, eat a vegetable, and smile at someone today.

See you soon!

Weight training in your teen’s routine

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Even though I did Tae-Kwon-Do (a Korean martial art) since middle school, I was never really into fitness and exercise the way I am now. Before I graduated high school, working out was a means to an end, a way to lose weight, or just something I had to do so I could eat.

Now I know that that’s not the right mindset at all. When I go to train now, I know that the progress I’m making is because I eat, recover, and take days off when I need to.

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But after I got my black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, my parents still wanted me to be active when I wasn’t in theatre. So my Dad took me to the gym, showed me a couple lifts, and that was that.

Since then I’ve been lifting since 2011, not really hitting my groove sports-wise until I started Olympic weightlifting back in 2016. Now I have a sport that I constantly practice in, set goals for, and sometimes love to hate.

Like other extracurriculars, exercise is a great way for teens to practice patience, goal setting, planning, and helps them socialize with other teens participating in the same sport.

Regardless of your teen’s activity, I would encourage you to try weight training with your teen.

Weight training is different from Weight lifting– “weight training” means just lifting for general fitness and health. Weight lifting typically refers to the sport I do, Olympic lifting, but I’ll be using ‘training’ and ‘lifting’ to mean the same thing in this post, since that’s how it’s used in real life.

What are the benefits of weight training?

When we look at weight training, we’re not looking at Olympic lifting, bodybuilding, powerlifting, or strong man- which are all lifting sports. We’re looking at lifting for general fitness.

Weight training helps improve balance, strength, endurance, and joint mobility. If your teen is on the computer or phone all the time and you’re concerned about their posture, training abs and back can help improve how they sit, stand, and walk by strengthening core and back muscles. 

As you go about your day, take note of how many times you pick something up or move something. I know it doesn’t seem like it, because it’s not stereotypical lifting, but you are using your muscles! It’s better to have your teen learn how to properly lift things now, so they can avoid injuries (like throwing their back out) later in life.

Embarrassing story time: I did hurt my back once as a teen because I didn’t know how to lift properly. I was not at the gym…I was lifting my backpack. Yes, really. So get them started now!

Weight training has other long-term benefits like an increase bone density. The thicker your bones are, the less likely they will break or sprain, reducing a risk of fracture. People who have periods also benefit from weight lifting because this benefit reduces the risk of osteoporosis as they age.

If your teen participates in sports, weight training can also help with their performance on the field.

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Does my teen need to be an athlete to weight train?

Nope! Lifting is for everyone. And if you have a teen whose mobility is impaired, there are personal trainers who would be happy to work with you and your teen to find a routine that works for them.

Something I really liked that I read while researching for this post came from stanfordchildren.org. In this article they give a lot of the benefits and things to consider when your teen starts lifting, but I do want to emphasize one point in particular:

Training shouldn’t get in the way of other ways your teen likes to be active, or a substitute for having fun. Really, weight training can supplement any active lifestyle.

Think of it like hot sauce- some people only need a little for the flavor they like, some people love having lots of hot sauce. Even things like bodyweight exercises go a long way in long-term health.

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Okay…but why should my teen try lifting?

Maybe I’m a little biased but…because it’s fun! 😉

In all seriousness, not to sound all ‘technology is scary!’ but we do live in a predominantly sedentary society. We have this fear of exercise like it means going to the gym for hours, sweating, grueling away at a goal that we’ll never reach.

In reality, a balanced life is about figuring out how much of a hobby you want moving around to be. My brother, sister, and I are all active, but we do COMPLETELY different things!

Danny walks EVERYWHERE! He does some lifting, but it’s more weight training. But damn does that boy walk.

Becca does Tae-Kwon-Do. She’s an instructor, so she teaches, and she even competes!

I do Olympic lifting and have been prone to zone out on cardio machines every now and again (it’s when I let myself watch let’s plays, don’t judge!)

By exposing your kid to all different kinds of activities, there’s bound to be one that sticks. Something that gets them off the couch, gets their blood flowing, and helps them move better the older they get.

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Here’s a photo of my sibs & I congratulating my sister for placing at state! 

Sounds like a plan. Anything else we should keep in mind?

I’m so glad you asked! Here’s a small list:

  • Whether it’s you, a family friend who’s lifted for years, or a trainer, make sure your teen gets instruction on how to lift properly.
  • Lifting could be a fun way for you and your teen to bond! Don’t be afraid to give it a shot, or to let your teen tag along to your lifting sessions. Some of my fondest high school memories are lifting with my dad.

Weight training is a great supplement to active living and can even become a fantastic hobby for your teen to make friends in after high school. It teaches your teen to invest in their health early on in life, to set meaningful goals to work towards, and impresses people at parties…what’s not to love?

What’s your favorite way to move? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

Remember to do your homework, eat a vegetable, and smile at someone if you can today :). See you soon!

MyFitnessPal vs Cronometer

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About a month ago I decided I’d start logging my food so I could make sure I was getting enough protein for my goals and keep my sodium in check. If you remember my past blog, I talked a little bit about how a family member is on a sodium-restricted diet and I wanted to see how I do where sodium is concerned.

So I have a long, complicated relationship with MyFitnessPal. It was once my worst enemy, telling me what I could and couldn’t eat, and the glaring red numbers if I went over my targets made me feel shame rather than a sense of ‘that’s interesting!’

Lots of blame, lots of ish, lots of bad headspace eventually built up so I stopped tracking for a while- and I caught myself in this mindset again at camp, so I stopped tracking until now.

After a lot of time to develop a healthy relationship with food, I can say that I use tracking a lot differently than I have in the past. Instead of a scorecard of my worth, it’s a tool for me to make sure I’m getting the micronutrients I need (my friend Emily, who I went to high school with and is now an RD, made an AWESOME comment on my IG post– and I’ll talk more about blood tests next week!) and that I’m paying attention to my nutrition as an athlete.

Not to mention that because of my ADHD, tracking helps me make sure I am actually eating what I need and when I need to rather than forgetting to eat, or over eating and hurting my stomach!

I had heard of Cronometer from Unnatural Vegan and wanted to give it a shot since I knew it tracked lots of trace micronutrients and vitamins/minerals that MyFitnessPal missed. I want to outline the pros and cons for you of both apps, both of which I’ve used, so if you want to check your intake, you can make a choice based on your interests.

I’m covering just the apps, since using it on my phone is much quicker and I often just quick add all my food in the morning and go about my day.

MyFitnessPal

Pros:

This app, to me, is much easier to use. I find the interface to be friendlier for me- and not just because I’ve been using it for a while, but with my executive functioning I’ve found the cleaner an app, the more I use it.

MFP lets you separate your intake by meals and snacks which immediately makes it easy to see what my intake is going to be for the day. It lets me easily see what I need to eat and when so I can just look at it and go.

Ads are kept to banners or you scroll past them on your feed- they don’t pop up while I enter food in, so way less invasive.

Cons:

It does have a social media aspect to it with statuses, feeds, and friending options. While it’s not necessarily a downfall of the app, this could be a negative for some people. I find it to be neutral-leaning-towards-con just because I would rather just use it for tracking and not socializing.

It’s not as in-depth as Cronometer but enough to get the job done. MFP tracks protein, calories, fat, and important micronutrients: potassium, calcium, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins a&c, and iron.

While these are all crucial to keep an eye on, as a vegan, I wish they tracked B vitamins as well.

Cronometer

Pros:

Cronometer is a nutrition nerds dream. It tracks nearly every micronutrient, down to SELENIUM! And is also a little bit more generous with calories than MFP is.

I love that they use the circles to show the percentage you have left in the day, and that the intake of macros is on the home page, so I don’t have to switch back and forth like I do with MFP.

Their database is a bit more accurate than MFP since Cronometer taps into government databases and websites rather than allowing anyone to enter nutrition information and have it show up in the search function. It removes the step of double checking if restaurant items or coffees are correct.

Cons:

Cronometer lists all your food in one big list, so it can be difficult for me to read through when I’m going about my day and need to remember what I’m having for lunch. While for some people this might not be a problem, it can be frustrating as a feature when I need to quickly check the app.

The ads…good Lord, y’all. The ads are pop-up style and often videos that play audio so picture me, half asleep, entering data in at 7am having the fear of God struck into me as a meditation ad starts playing! There will also be times where I’m entering something in and an ad plays directly after, making me forget where I was in my ‘entering my daily foods’ process.

Overall, I’ve decided to use chronometer more as a diagnostic tool than an everyday tracker. After this week I’ll take note of all the micro nutrients I’ve been consistently low on and incorporate more foods high in that nutrient to help get my diet more balanced.

What do you think? Which one do you prefer, or do you prefer not to track at all? Let me know here, on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

How Just 10 Minutes Can Help Your Health Long-Term

School’s back in session and I’m sure you guys are missing out on summer; at least I know I am. I think the one thing I miss is how often I was up and about rather than sitting down indoors, either in class or studying.

How many of you guys take the bus to school? Or do you walk? Bike? Hitch a ride, drive? Then add the 7-8 hours you have of sitting in class. Add together the time after school you spend sitting down, and then your average sleep time.

What’s the total amount?

Think about how long ago it was since you stood up and just walked around. If you feel like getting up now that I’ve mentioned it, go for it! Even if you just do a walking lap around your house, you’re doing your body a lot of good.

Maybe you’re a bit nerdy like me and saw that NPR posted a news story about the dangers of sitting for long periods of time. 

What’s the big deal? You might be asking. That’s for baby boomers.

Well, yeah, but sitting for long periods of time is still bad for you even right now.

There is some good news: You can build up a good habit now at your age and keep it going your whole life.

Here’s a study I found when researching this article. Notice how the girls in the study were even wheeled to the bathroom and back so as to not move? That’s dedication.

The study has setbacks- there were only nine participants and they were all girls with a relatively low BMI, but we can still use this as a model for how a little bit of movement affects the body.  Even just a ten minute stretch at the hour mark provided an increase in blood flow. The research shows that while we can’t tell what the long-term results might be, there’s still the benefit of the increased blood flow.

What would this look like on a weekend, or when you don’t have school for a long bit of time (Winter break…here’s looking at you! Anyone else counting down?):

  • Taking your dog out for a walk
  • Stretching or doing yoga for 20 minutes
  • Gardening (weather permitting)
  • Walking to the coffee shop with a friend rather than getting a ride
  • Walking around a mall for an afternoon with a friend

An increased blood flow can help bring your blood back up to your torso, where it can get filtered via the kidneys, and re-oxygenated by the lungs. And who doesn’t want healthier blood?

Getting up about once an hour, even just for ten minutes of stretching or walking, can help improve general health alongside working out at least 3x/week. We get our blood pumping and filtered, and we can also take that bathroom break we’ve been planning on since we started our Netflix binge.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have three episodes left in the new season of House of Cards

Any questions?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even Snapchat! Use the hashtag #centerstagenutrition to show me ways you got moving this week!

What are your favorite ways to stay active? Let me know in the comments below!

Talk to you soon!

Em

Slow Sunday: Movement and Mochas

Hey, ya’ll!

So, the University gym doesn’t open until 1pm on Sundays. For the most part of my time at school, I’d just wait until the gym opened before I did about half an hour to an hour of cardio.

This semester is a little different.

I decided that I’d give a local coffee shop a try (something you’ll learn about me really fast: I love coffee. Plain, lattes, mochas, you name it, I love it). Only thing is, I don’t have a car, and it was in the downtown area.

Now past me would have balked and stuck to the campus coffee shop (I can walk there) so I could get my cardio in. But current me realized that with my bike I’ve got the freedom to head off campus. So I biked for about 40 minutes to reach the coffee shop, and I loved it! Definitely going to add it into my weekly routine.

 

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Almost done reading Dr. Stephan Guyenet’s “The Hungry Brain” and drinking a really good iced soy mocha!

 

Here’s my IG post about it!

What about the gym, though?

Good question. I want you to recognize what comes to mind first at the word “exercise” or “movement”.

Did you picture going all out in a workout class, or at the gym? For a while I did too.

There was a stretch of years where I really didn’t feel accomplished if I spent a long time at the gym, burning a certain number of calories and achieving a certain level of sweatiness. If I didn’t reach this level, I’d often feel grumpy or wouldn’t acknowledge the fact that I moved at all. I would even sacrifice important healing time from illness to work out.

Over the years though, I’ve come to realize something: while movement is important to keeping us healthy, (the CDC recommends about an hour a day for teens) it doesn’t necessarily have to be the level I had been trying to force my body to perform at day in and day out.

If you’re in the place where you’re at the gym for hours a day to fit some kind of ideal, start peeling back what “head space” you’re in. Ask yourself:

  • What happens if you don’t workout but instead, go for a walk with a friend, family member, dog, or a podcast you really like? (other kinds of movement can go here too: dancing, biking, gardening)

The answer is: not much! 

  • You’ll get movement in and you’ll get out of the house.
  • You won’t be blacklisted on some kind of fitness list.
  • Your joints will get a break from intense exercise and muscles will have a chance to heal.
  • You’ll spend quality time with someone important to you, another key component in living a healthy lifestyle.

My challenge for you guys this week is to find ways you like to move.

Maybe you don’t exercise at all- that’s okay too! Keep in mind that a little movement is always good.

Remember: you don’t have to go to a gym to start moving and living a healthier, more active lifestyle. You can bike to your friend’s house instead of driving! Try a hike with some of your family members or with your furry friend! Give a workout DVD a shot as a break from your Netflix binge!

Side note: If you find yourself still obsessing with calories, I challenge you to take off your fitness tracker and switch displays on cardio machines (if you use them) so it won’t show calories burned. It’s something I do when I find myself becoming more focused on numbers than how I feel and I’ve found it to be really beneficial. 

The main idea is that you pick up a hobby that helps you both short and long term: you get the immediate benefit of movement (mood improvements, some time outside, or even time with friends, feeling of accomplishment afterward) and the long term benefits (combating chronic disease, energy levels gradually increase, improved sleep health, making friends through a shared hobbies).

Next week on Slow Sunday I’ll write about why it’s important to not sit for long periods of time, so until then, my challenge for you is to move a little bit every day and if you can, tag me on Instagram (@centerstagenutrition) to show me your weekly movements! I’ll try and share my movements, too!

If you’re looking for some Facebook groups to help support this new habit, I really recommend Body Positive Fitness with Michele Burmaster. I’ve been a part of this group for about a year and the atmosphere is just fantastic. Michele is someone I look up to, both personally and professionally, regarding body positivity and fitness!

 

Any questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat!

 

Much love,

Em