5 Ways to Measure Progress, Without the Scale!

How many times have you gotten on the scale, expecting to see a certain number, only to see a larger number? How did it make you feel? Defeated? Depressed? Ready to throw in the towel after all your efforts and when you were feeling great?!

Why do we measure our self-worth each morning by a friggin’ number?? That’s just crazy talk…

There are so many reasons for our weight to fluctuate throughout the day, or from one day to the next, that it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the root cause. One thing is for sure though, we didn’t gain 2, 3, or sometimes 10 pounds of fat overnight! We would have had to eat over 7,000-35,000 excessive calories in one day to do that!! Wait…how many beers did I have around the pool yesterday?? 1, 3….anywho that’s not the point!

Our bodies are incredible machines, capable of unbelievable feats of healing, protection, and growth. At the same, we retain water, we have sore muscles, we eat more salt some days, we could have some inflammation, and we could have eaten a larger meal in one sitting that hasn’t fuller digested yet, ANYTHING!

I’m not saying to throw your scale out the window…although I have literally put mine in the closet in the garage. Totally serious…

I’m saying to use it simply as a TOOL and nothing more. I would suggest if you do use this tool, that you use it consistently for an average trend of body weight (not body FAT, but weight). Here are 5 other tools you can use to stop putting so much “weight” in scale! #seewhatididthere

Here are just SOME other tools!

  • Progress pictures—as painful as this can seem at times, there is little else that tells the truth than pictures, aside from maybe yoga paints and toddlers 😉 Again, take consistent pictures, in the same location, with wearing basically the same thing, and try to do it with the same lighting.
  • Measurements—now these can be tricky to do on the same part of your body each time, but again, just do your best. Maybe you can pick out a body marking (scar, freckle, etc.) that you place the measuring tape on each time. A good starting place is to include chest (right at nipple line), waist (smallest part above belly button), hips (largest part around butt cheeks and above groin), and both arms and legs at their largest part.
  • How your clothes feel/fit—we all have that “one pair of jeans” that we just won’t part with or that feel just right. Or that black dress or pair of shorts right?? Judging our comfort level in our own skin or getting ready to go somewhere can really tell us so much about or progress or lack thereof. Beware of the stretchy pant trap though… 😉
  • Performance/energy—how we fuel our bodies can greatly impact our energy level and gym sessions! Ever pile on a hefty meal of carb and fat heavy food, only to feel like you were run over by a truck soon after? That’s our blood sugar levels working overtime to compensate for what we just wrecked our system with. However, use those tools at the proper time, in conjunction with a solid protein balance and plenty of water, and watch those gainzzzz in the gym! Or see that afternoon slump session go bye-bye. Pay attention to this by tracking your food!
  • CON-FID-ENCE! You’re seeing the light. You’ve got that pep in your step, that “Haaaaaaayy girl”, or that level of go-getter that you’ve been missing. You’ve been consistent, you’ve taken your set-backs as just that, a set-back. Then you’re back at it. Keep that shit up, because tiny habits, compiled over time, lead to insane changes!

Need more? Get more!

Need more support? Check out The Mother Lovin’ Struggle for support with food tracking and accountability! Have questions, do a simple Q&A session to get you started on the right foot!

5 Reasons You Can’t Stick to Your Diet, Part 1

This list could be 100 reasons long, but let’s break it down into segments, shall we? Did you ever feel as though you’re so lost in your weight loss journey that you just want to throw in the towel, wrap up on the couch, go face deep into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and just say EFF it?!

There are so many conflicting messages out there, sometimes we don’t know what to think of where to begin! First, let me clarify that weight loss can be HARD, but it’s not COMPLICATED. Read that again, HARD—but not—COMPLICATED.

Let’s take a look—can you relate to any of these reasons? If so, you don’t have to work this out alone because I’m here to help!

Head over to The Mother Lovin’ Struggle to check out more articles on this and many other subjects, as well as Nutritional Coaching and Accountability!

Ok, enough talk, let’s dive in!

1. Your diet is…TOO RESTRICTIVE

Keto! Paleo! Whole 30! No…Low Carb! No, No, No, High Protein!! AHHHHHH!!!!

What friggin’ direction is right?? Here’s the answer…READY? It’s whatever YOU decide. You’re thinking, “Ugh, I thought you were giving me a real answer!” Hear me out

Get your mind around the fact that there are no good, bad, and ugly foods. You can enjoy the foods you want, whenever you want, on the schedule you choose! Yep.

The very best diet plan is the one that fits your lifestyle, the one that makes you feel good, and the one you can stick to consistently! Maybe that DOES mean that you stay away from some processed foods, but maybe you can still enjoy others.

Don’t like veggies?? Um….ok??? Yep, that’s OOOOOOKKKKKAAAAAY. Why gag them down in an effort to try to be “healthy”? Of course, veggies are healthy, but so are TONS of other foods! So, start slowly, and don’t force yourself to do something you HATE! That will only lead to feelings of failure, regret, and that the changes you want are unattainable. #nobueno

Want to know more about this subject? Check out my article on Finding Food Balance foods to help find the right balance for YOU.

2. You blew it…Now you say, “SCREW IT…”

Ugh. Office donuts. #getsmeeverytime

Here’s the thing. See #1. For most of us, the foods we love are available AT ALL TIMES. If you want a donut, you can literally go get one anytime you want one. Hell, you can get a dozen of them and eat ALL of them, any day of the week. We eat these treats because THEY.ARE.THERE.

Think of this scenario. You’re at work, at your stand-up desk with your full jug of water, your meals all planned out for the day, ready to hit the gym after work, looking ahead, and feeling like a champ.

Then in walks Karen with that all too familiar bakery box…“Karen…you dirty bitch.” You think, “Welp! There goes MY day!! Now I’m gonna have to face avoiding those donuts or my entire day is ruined!”

Then you cave. You actually eat one. Or, heaven forbid, TWO!!! Then you skip the gym altogether, grab a pizza on the way home, and oh, how about 3-4 beers while we are at it? Because…YOU.ATE.THE.DONUT. #thatescalatedquickly

NOW WHAT?!?!

Eff the entire day, right?? WRONG!! Remember, you can eat a donut, while you didn’t plan to, AND you don’t have to throw your entire goals, hopes, dreams, and aspirations out the window!

In fact, you don’t even have to PUNISH yourself for it later! First of all, YOU determine your setbacks. Secondly, YOU determine your goals and how you’ll get there.

ALWAYS expect that things are going to come on your path that “Off Plan” and you’re gonna wanna eat ‘em. So eat them if you want to, just remember that it’s always available to you, if you want it, when you want it. Sometimes the feeling of restriction alone is enough to make us want something that much more.

3. You HATE the foods on your plate. HATE. THEM.

I know veggies have so many added health benefits (I mean, duh), but you know what else does? However, having ice cream with my kids in the summer, drinking a beer on the front porch with my husband, or having a long, busy day, and just wanting to have pizza delivered to my house. That shit is GOOOOOOD.

Ask yourself, what foods:

1) Agree with my digestion?

2) Do I like to cook?

3) Will my family eat?

…the list goes on! These questions, along with many others, can help you develop quite a list of awesomeness, that doesn’t involve choking down bland chicken and raw kale (I mean unless you’re into making your life a living hell…).

So, how do you start?

First, start by taking out a trusty pen and paper and write down the foods you really like! Remember don’t include things that you think are “healthy” or “good for you”, if you don’t ACTUALLY like to eat them!

You are headed in a new direction! You’d be shocked at what foods you enjoy that can actually lead you towards your goals, given the right tools 😉

This is where your Finding Food Balance practices also play a role!

4. Um, You have a LIFE.

Have you ever eaten in your car? On the go? In 5 minutes because you should have been somewhere…5 minutes ago?? Life is busy, and stressful, and downright exhausting some days. Sometimes we get thrown curve balls and it can seem to derail our entire day!

One thing is for sure though, that will happen, again, and again, and again. Be prepared–go back to your list and find what can be conveniently available to you when you know you’ll be in a rush! For Instance, think protein bars, premade shakes, fruit, precut veggies (if you’re into that sort of thing), nuts, or string cheese! The possibilities really are endless, but you MUST think ahead.

Let me share a small part of my story…

Several years ago, my workload at my day job increased, significantly. Long story short, this was STRESSFUL. I was on the road A LOT, which meant I ate in my car, A LOT. Ever try to eat a salad in the car while driving in the city? Yeah.

I packed on about 10-15 pounds in a short amount of time. Not only was I eating what I could shovel in my mouth between appointments, but I was STRESS EATING. How do I know this? Because I would literally be done with my day, exhausted, not that hungry, and ready to be home in about an hour. What would I do? Have a full-on drive-through meal that I didn’t even want or need for fuel. That’s stress eating.

Bottom line—I was not taking care of myself in any way, shape, or form. I was not prepared to fuel my body with long workdays. I was not taking time for myself, away from work, to distress. It was a slippery slope that I didn’t recognize until it was too late, and I had to right the ship! And so I took back control!

#5. You Don’t Know Where to Start.

How about just feeling so completely overwhelmed that you don’t understand ANY. OF. IT.

You don’t know what’s a protein, fat, or carbohydrate. You don’t know how much sugar is too much, why you can’t poop, can’t sleep, can’t workout more than 5 minutes, or have motivation for more than 1 day!?!

Most Importantly, BREATHE. One thing at a time, one step at a time. The very worst thing is not knowing what to do, so you do nothing. Give yourself some friggin’ grace, and start small.

First, start with education.

Thinking about lifting weights? Watch YouTube videos for proper form. Hire a coach. Search Pinterest for “Weight Lifting for Beginners”. Buy a set of dumbbells.

Start somewhere!

Second, add another aspect you want to learn!

Thinking about tracking your food? Try out an app! Something like My Fitness Pal is a great place to start. Or start small and just write down everything you eat or drink for one day. Then two days, then three, and so on. Need more assistance in that direction? Check out my article on The Basics of Macros Tracking!

Above all, practice PATIENCE and give yourself GRACE. There is more to life than your weight, food, and how much you’re exercising. This is a part of life, you just need to learn how to manage it, FOR YOU, on your terms.

Pick a topic that you don’t know about, and LEARN. Still feeling overwhelmed after giving it a go on your own? Contact the Mother Lovin’ Struggle for Accountability, Education, and Support at any time! I’m here to help you sort through these frustrations, on YOUR terms, in YOUR time.

The Basics of Macros Tracking!

…and what you need to know to get started!

What are Macros?

First, you may be thinking…What the HELL are Macros?!

Or you may have heard the term Macros, Macronutrient, or Flexible Dieting, “IIFYM” or “If It Fits Into Your Macros”.

Macros, as we will refer to them, are present in basically everything we eat and drink. These are Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates.

Each and every one of us has a magical macro breakdown that, followed consistently, can help us to lose, gain, or maintain weight! These numbers are very simple to determine and are based on your current age, sex, weight, activity level, and goals. These numbers can change as your weight and goals change! More on how to find YOUR numbers in a bit…

What do I EAT??

Now—here’s where the key to progress is: The foods that you “fill” those macros which are totally up to you. HOWEVER, the more nutrient-dense, wholesome foods you eat, the MORE you can eat. Filling your macros with highly processed and sugary foods can leave you very hungry and sluggish, very quickly.

Let me give you an example. Say you have 20 grams of carbs, 15 grams of fat, and 20 grams of protein left for the day. You could fill these with an egg/egg white sandwich on whole-grain toast, with some cheese (Mmmmmm). Or you could fill this with a glazed donut (Mmmmmm), exceeding your carb amount, meeting your fat, and not even coming close to your protein. You’d also be adding about 13 grams of sugar.

But What About Goodies??

Now that doesn’t mean that there is no room for glazed donuts in this life because…THERE IS! However, meeting our numbers as consistently as possible is the key to success! You’ve got to decide that 80/20 balance! More on that here!

This diet is FLEXIBLE #hencethename

However, the more consistently you can stick to those wholesome, minimally processed foods, the sooner you will be where you want to be! While no foods should be off-limits here, do your best to stop thinking of good/bad, healthy/unhealthy foods and find BALANCE instead. This relationship with food is NOT something that will happen overnight.

Also, because it allows you to eat literally anything you are craving as long as it is done within the parameters of your daily macro allotment, it alleviates the “binge day” or “cheat day” that is so often found on other diets.  

Often, people can go a bit overboard during a “cheat” day, which can end up really screwing our progress, not to mention feeling pretty bad physically. While we think we are in a caloric deficit, we are offsetting it by binging on those cheats, putting us into more of a maintenance phase, when that’s not our goal! #nobueno

This is what we are going for!

How Do I TRACK??

So how do we track all of this stuff? My Fitness Pal has just about every food under the sun entered into it. All you have to do is enter the food and portion you’ve eaten under the correct meal/snack for that day. I highly recommend a food scale for accuracy eventually, but getting started without one is totally doable. Some other great apps are Macrostax (paid app) and Macros +. These all do just about the same thing.

The key to success is PLANNING! Pre-enter your food the day before, so all you have to do is eat it. This takes the guesswork out of your day, and you’re not stuck staring into the abyss of our cupboards and fridge, wondering what to do. Will a little planning, prepping, and organization, all of this pain-the-ass work WILL be worth it in the end!

Remember, we are trying to meet our macros nutrients and caloric intake by eating clean, healthy foods, but by still allowing for our favorites, as long as it “fits” into our day!

Educate yourself on the best foods to fuel your body, plan your day to include awesome, heart-healthy, muscle-building goodies, and you should usually have room for that bowl of ice cream, a snack here and there, and lots of other things that make you feel like a human!

Remember, check out more info on Finding Food Balance if you need some help to get started and making choices in the right direction!

Pinterest has some awesome ideas on macros calculating, or IIFYM. You can also check out my Pinterest Boards to get started!

Obviously, the more consistent you are with tracking, and the more you track everything you eat and drink, the close you will get to your goals. I also want to point out, that unless you are an athlete or have a very time-specific goal, I would not recommend tracking long-term. The key is to get used to tracking to give you an idea of what’s going into your body. Then move to other methods, such as eye-balling or using a hand measurement system!

Take your time, remember progress, not perfection, and DO. YOUR. BEST. You’ll quickly learn just how much nutrients are in your food (or isn’t in your food…)! It’s a real eye opener!

So, here are the basics of macros and macros tracking! Ready for your next step? Click here for your FREE Macros breakdown, as well as other choices for additional support and extra accountability! We all need it through this Mother Lovin’ Struggle 😉  

5 Steps to Finding Food Balance!

Wait. Is there such a thing as FOOD BALANCE?! YES!! Did you ever think to yourself, “I’d love to eat better, feel better, drop some pounds, improve my health, and not be miserable while I do it!?! There IS a way to find food balance!

I know I have, and still do!  Hello, pizza and beer!! The path to a healthy lifestyle is not linear, but rather, up-down-right-left-backward and upside freakin’ down sometimes. It takes patience, education, and most of all, TIME.

So how do you get started? Let’s start with FOOD. #Duh.

In order to find food balance, let’s talk about a lovely little tool we like to call the “Green, Yellow, and Red” lists! Here’s how to use it!

Each macronutrient (Carbohydrate, Fats, and Proteins) has its own list of foods to eat “MORE” of, eat “SOME” of, and eat “LESS” of. You can find more on Macronutrients here!

I’m sure you can guess, the “eat more list”, or the GREEN list, are the wholesome, minimally processed foods. Think of those that come from the earth or animals, in their most wholesome forms (i.e. chicken breast, sweet potatoes, and nuts). Remember, GREEN means GO!

The “eat some of”, or the YELLOW list, are a bit more processed, but still somewhat wholesome and will certainly help to fuel our bodies. (i.e. protein powder, rice or granola, and nut oils).

And you guessed it, the “eat less of” list, or the RED list, are those foods that aren’t the best for us overall, but are still ok in moderation. These could also include foods that just don’t agree with us and we may need to avoid altogether (ahem…#cabbagefarts) (i.e. fried chicken wings or hot dogs, french fries, or butter and processed cheese).

So how do we get started?!

Step 1–the Food Balance Lists!

  • Look at ALL the lists! Find the printer-friendly list here and the device friendly version here! Identify what foods you find tasty, are willing to try, and/or know how to prepare. If you are willing to try the foods but aren’t sure exactly what they are or how to prepare them, do some research! #pinterestisyourfriend 😉

Step 2–Plan a Balanced Week!

  • Make a plan! How can you incorporate each list into your daily life? Can you make recipes? Can you cook these foods for your family? I make a simple Word document, with ideas for the week, and start building from there! Think outside the box here and give it your best shot! Again, #pinterestisyourfriend

Remember—stick to those foods you like and don’t try to incorporate things just because you think they are “healthy”. If you already know you don’t like them (for me, mushrooms and cauliflower rice are OFF the table… #barf) there is no point trying to gag down foods that you just HATE. Nothing will make you say “to hellllll with this” faster than eating foods that you can’t stand, but that is “good” for you. Do your best to get rid of that “good, bad, ugly” food mindset and focus on FOOD BALANCE!

Step 3–Shop for the Goods!

  • Next step—go shopping!! Take that plan you made and put it into action. Maybe that means you are making your grocery list based on the meals and snacks you have planned for the week. Take a look at what you have already, then get out there and get what you need to set you up for success!

Step 4–Get Prepped!

  • Wash and Prep! Does your chicken need to be portioned out/frozen? Veggies need cut and washed? Do nuts need portioning? Prepping also takes away excuses for throwing in the towel during times of stress! After a long day, it’s much easier to face a meal with half the work that needs to be done!

Step 5–Stick to the plan!

Finally, be sure not to OVERPREPARE. Sometimes our ambitions to hit the ground running can result in all the prep going to waste. This can lead to feelings of defeat and frustration! #lessonlearned

You can always go BACK to the store! Take It Easy Sis…one day, one step at a time. Go back to Step 2—what’s your plan?? Now stick to it.

To Summarize…

Step 1: Look at all the LISTS!
Step 2: Make a PLAN!
Step 3: Go Shopping!
Step 4: Wash and Prep!
Step 5: Don’t OVERprepare!

Remember, the key to finding FOOD BALANCE is to rid your mind of the “Good, Bad, and Ugly” foods, in order to still enjoy a flexible lifestyle! This takes time, practice, and consistency!

Still feeling overwhelmed or in need of more support? Check out The Mother Lovin’ Struggle for Nutritional Coaching!