Below are a variety of questions I am frequently asked on my Blog and other social media avenues.
I hope you are able to find the answer to your question! If not, poke around my website a bit and I’m sure you’ll find it! =)
1. I have some fat on my stomach will not go away! I do tons of crunches and other ab exercises, but it doesn’t help. Do you know of any exercises that will help make it disappear?
There is no such thing as spot-reduction in regard to fat loss. You can’t choose where your body loses fat. It happens systematically all over and is usually determined by genetics. The only way to lose the tummy is to lower your TOTAL body fat. You can do this by eating clean in a caloric deficit, doing cardio and lifting weights. So no, there is no abdominal exercise (not even 100s of crunches!) that can whittle away belly fat.
2. I have fat on my legs and butt that won’t go away! I’ve lost weight but it’s still there. How do I get rid of it?
Unfortunately, just as you cannot spot-reduce belly fat, you also cannot spot-reduce fat on your butt and thighs. The body loses fat over the entire body (and not always evenly). It’s normal for most women to carry excess fat on the hips, thighs, butt and abdominal area. In order to get rid of the fat on your butt and legs, you will need to lower your OVERALL body fat percentage. Do this by eating clean in a caloric deficit, doing cardio and lifting weights.
3. I want to lift weights to tone up, but I don’t want to get bulky. So should I use lighter weights and do higher reps?
NO. Women do not have the levels of testosterone necessary to get “bulky” or manly from lifting weights (even if they are HEAVY!). It takes a lot more effort than most people think to gain muscle… especially for women. Those female bodybuilders you see? They take steroids and have been working HARD to gain that muscle over many years. Cardio and playing with light weights will not “tone up” your body. Heavy weight lifting WILL. Extreme muscle gains will not happen magically over night so don’t worry about it. (Click here to read more).
In order for your body to change… you have to give it a DARN GOOD REASON to… otherwise it would be quite “content” remaining the same shape and size. Lifting light weight is something you do everyday… (your blow dryer, laundry, purse, etc.) and your body doesn’t change from that… so why would it change from you lifting some little beauty bells an extra hundred times or so? Lift heavy weights and you will be shocked at how amazing the results are.
4 . Will eating before bed make me fat?
Although the body is more apt to store fat at night, if you are in a caloric deficit and eat at 7pm or even midnight, the body will not store the food as fat, it will use it as energy. What it comes down to is calories in versus calories out. If you are under your bodies caloric maintenance, eating more calories will not be stored as fat, they will be used as energy.
5. Why is fruit juice not on your grocery list?
Although fruit juices do provide vitamin C and other vitamins, it is very sugary and caloric dense (you can get these vitamins from vegetables and actual supplemental vitamins). The fruit juice is very easily absorbed by the body, causing blood-sugar levels to suddenly increase.. this causes a spike in insulin. The insulin-response by the body then triggers increased fat storage and increased appetite. Do not drink fruit juice, stick to water. If you want something fruit, have the real thing. The fiber in the fruit helps keep insulin from spiking the way juice would.
6. “Will protein powder make me gain weight? I don’t want to get bulky!”
The only thing that could make you gain weight and “get bulky” is eating more calories than your body needs to maintain itself. It doesn’t matter where those calories come from (fruit, vegetables, meat, protein powder, peanut butter, dog food, whatever..) eating more calories than your body needs to maintain itself will result in weight gain. (Click here to read more!)
Protein actually has the highest thermic effect of the macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In other words, protein takes more calories to burn through digestion than carbs or fats. Easily digested, absorbed and metabolized, fats have a thermic effect of 3 percent. You’ll burn only 3 calories processing 100 calories of fat. Fruit and fibrous vegetables have a thermic effect of around 20 percent and proteins require the most effort, burning 30 percent of their caloric value. (This does not mean you should avoid healthy fats, fruits and veggies).
Studies have found that individuals who combine diets with leucine rich protein foods, like whey protein, and exercise have more lean muscle tissue and they lose more body fat. Their metabolic rate increases and they naturally burn more calories each day. In addition, whey protein can help you feel fuller longer!
7. I don’t have much money to spend on healthy food. Do you have any suggestions?
I know a lot of people believe that buying the unhealthy stuff is less expensive. But the truth is, the healthy stuff can be just as inexpensive, (if not cheaper) if you know what you’re looking for and when to buy! Buy seasonal produce, look for sales and deals on your favorite foods, clip coupons, go to farmer’s markets, buy in bulk at places like Costco. Check out my post about how to eat healthy on a budget!
Here is an AWESOME grocery list with prices and all for those of you trying to save! You can get EVERYTHING you need to eat healthy for $100!!! Check it out!!
8. “I want to lose weight and tone up, but my boyfriend always wants to go to restaurants that don’t have healthy options. What should I do?”
Sometimes it can be frustrating trying to get healthy and fit when the people around you don’t completely understand your goals. There are a couple things you could do.
First, you could suggest some new restaurants to try that offer healthy options, as well as options he would like. Most restaurants offer their menu online, so you can plan ahead when it comes to ordering something that isn’t deep fried or covered in grease! Check out my post on how to eat healthy at restaurants!
The second thing you could do, is cook at home! Not only will it save you money, it will be a lot more personal and fun! Go to the market with your man and buy some fresh veggies, whole wheat pasta or brown rice, fish or chicken and whatever spices you want. Then go home and make dinner together! It’s a cute, romantic way to spend time together and you can make as healthy a meal as you want!
Sometimes you have to get creative to get people to see things “your way”. Who knows, maybe he’ll enjoy the healthy food a lot more than he planned and start eating like you! You’ll never know until you try! =)
9. Why a gallon of water?
Our bodies are primarily composed of water… without it, we cannot function properly (and can even die). It is important to get an adequate supply of water to keep our bodies functioning at a high level. Just as a car cannot run without gasoline or oil, our bodies cannot run without water.
10. “I’m losing weight, but my boobs are shrinking.. is there anything I can do to stop it?”
Unfortunately, no. Breast size is largely determined by genetics. In addition… breasts are made up primarily of fatty tissue and mammary glands.. so the lower your body fat percentage gets, the smaller your boobs will likely get. Doing chest exercises can help slightly by causing the pectoral muscle to grow, thus pushing the breasts out a bit… but that won’t keep them from shrinking in size as you lose weight.
11. What is the best kind of cardio to lose fat?
Simply put? High intensity interval training.
12. When it comes to getting in shape, what should I focus on first…. losing weight or building muscle?
Build muscle! Here’s why…. the more muscle you have on your frame, the faster your metabolism will be and the more calories you will burn JUST BY BEING ALIVE… NOT DOING ANYTHING! Muscle burns approximately 3x as many calories as the same amount of fat. So with that increased metabolism, it will become a whole heck-of-a-lot easier to lose excess body fat, because you will be burning a lot more calories even when you’re not exercising! With a faster metabolism, that also means you will be able to eat more without having to worry about “getting fat”.. this will make it easier to stick to… and more likely to become a LIFESTYLE.
Many girls falsely believe doing hours of cardio and starving themselves will result in fat loss. The weight they are ACTUALLY losing is water and lean muscle. Loss of lean muscle mass will result in a “skinny fat” look and a slowed metabolism. Once that occurs, it becomes MUCH more likely that the body will store fat! Here is what I suggest… if you are looking to “tone up” and lose body fat, begin by cleaning up your diet and lifting weights. Add in cardio about 3x a week (you can increase this as you become more in-shape). Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep. Remember to be patient! It takes TIME and hard work.. but if you remain positive, you will get there! =)
13. “How do I tone my butt?”
Honestly there are a million different exercises for the glutes. But I recommend sticking with the basic, compound exercises like squats, straight leg deadlifts, lunges, and leg presses… all with heavy weight. You can use other machines as well to supplement these compound movements. Have fun with it… but realize that you will get amazing results from lifting heavy (with proper form) using the basic, compound exercises!
14. “Hey I was wondering can I do squats everyday? I know a lot of places says to wait a day for the muscle to repair itself, but I’m on a very high protein diet wouldn’t that speed up the process?”
Muscle is built OUTSIDE of the gym, not in it. In other words, when you lift weights (squats for example), you are breaking down the muscle tissue. It is through proper nutrition and adequate SLEEP that your muscles rebuild and repair themselves! Spending hours and hours in the gym is actually counter-productive, because if you just continuously break down the muscle tissue and never give it enough time to rebuild itself, you’re not going to make much (if any) progress!
Even a high-protein diet will not make up for over-training. Make sure to give yourself time to recover. Working a muscle group 1-2 times a week is sufficient to make considerable gains. If you choose to do a muscle group twice in a week, try to split it up so you train that muscle once at the beginning and once at the end of the week to give sufficient time in between to recover!
15. “I often have really strong cravings, especially for sugar! It always comes in the afternoon, especially after dinner. I try to ignore it but eventually I find myself bingeing. I workout everyday but my diet struggles are holding me back! Any suggestions on how to combat them or even get rid of them?”
Awesome question! I have the same problem… in fact… a lot of us do. The reason we crave sugar in the afternoon/at night is because our brain and body are looking for energy… and they want that energy NOW. Sugar gives us a burst of energy. However as most of us know from some intense candy binge sessions as kids (and even sometimes now), that burst of energy is usually followed by a hard crash. If you find yourself craving these things at night, it’s a sign that your body is slowing down for the evening. If you are going to eat anything at this point, make it something healthy like nonfat cottage cheese. If you have already eaten your allotted calories for the day, make a big cup of hot tea with a little Stevia to kill the sweet craving.. and stay OUT of the kitchen! (Check out my post on how to deal with cravings!)
16. “I’ve tried eating right and working out, but I’m not losing weight! What am I doing wrong? Please help!”
It’s basically impossible for me to determine what is off in regard to your diet and exercise because I cannot SEE what you’re doing. Do your own evaluation… Here is my checklist… =)
1) Are you eating below your caloric maintenance? Find out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, and lower that by 300-500 calories. This is a caloric deficit. Do not go below 1200 calories, there is no need to starve to lose weight. Logging your food intake in a journal or phone app is a good way to keep track. If you have been eating super low calorie for a long period of time, your metabolism might have adjusted to that. Cycling carbs/calories is a good way to overcome this.
2) Are you exercising intensely enough? 100 jumping jacks or 15 minutes of jogging does not make much of an impact on your daily calorie expenditure. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym to get a good workout. Lift heavy weights and incorporate HIIT cardio into your exercise routine if you have not already. Both can be done effectively in a short period of time.
3) Are you eating the right portion sizes? It’s extremely easy to go overboard on portion sizes without realizing it. Until you get good at eyeballing it, measure your portions (especially with healthy fats). You can use measuring cups & spoons, and a food scale (can be purchased at Wal Mart or other inexpensive store with cook-ware).
4) Are you truly choosing wholesome, healthy foods? Be honest with yourself.. were those “healthy whole wheat crackers” really what you should have been snacking on, or would some fruit or veggies been a better choice? Avoid packaged, processed foods like crackers, chips, cookies, and candy. Choose wild/organic lean proteins, fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats like nuts, olive oil, avocado and natural nut butters.
5) Are you frequently using condiments and other adders? Ketchup, mayo, half and half, milk, salad dressing, marinades, sugar and other things people add to food add up FAST. The calories in these things are just as fattening as calories from regular foods.
6) Are you consuming a lot of sugar? Sugar is terrible for weight loss. While consuming simple carbs & sugar post-workout is a good idea, consuming sugar and simple carbs any other time of the day is a “no-no” when it comes to losing weight. Sugar spikes insulin which promotes fat storage and basically shuts off fat-burning processes. Read labels and choose foods low in sugar.
7) Are you drinking alcohol? If yes. Stop. Alcohol is a huge antagonist for weight loss!
17. “I have a couple of questions for you: Your friends were into the whole ‘drinking’ and ‘partying’ thing. Did you end up losing those friends? And if not, did you and your friends find other beneficial things to do besides drinking & partying? I have friends who are still into that phase, but I’ve totally outgrown it and now I just want to have a healthy lifestyle but I’m afraid they won’t understand.”
Unfortunately, I did end up losing “friends” when I stopped drinking. Fortunately… it was just the people who weren’t REAL friends. REAL friends support you when you decide to do something healthy and good for you.. REAL friends will be there for you when you decide to chase your dreams. It’s the ones that try to drag you back to your old, unhealthy habits, or keep you in a place where THEY are comfortable that you should kick to the curb.
For your REAL friends that stick around… just explain to them why you want to get healthy and why it is important to you. You don’t have to shut them out of your life to get healthy! Just come up with new ways to hang out that doesn’t require getting trashed.
There are plenty of fun things you can do that don’t involve drinking! You just have to get creative! Go out to coffee, go to the beach, have a picnic at the park, have a girls night with movies, do arts and crafts, get manicures and pedicures together, go on a shopping trip, find cool things or clothes at thrift stores, bake healthy protein bars, play tennis, put together a little football or soccer team and go scrimmage at the park, have a photoshoot… These are just a few options I came up with on the spot. There are SO MANY things you can do that don’t involve drinking.. I’m sure you can come up with even better ones than these!
**DISCLAIMER** I am NOT a dietician, counselor, personal trainer, doctor, or any other healthcare related professional. I do not mind giving advice or suggestions, but please keep in mind that I have NOT been trained in these fields. If you ask me a question I will answer it to the best of my ability.