Carson’s Blog

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Everything The Scale Doesn’t Tell You

“Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or, rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this.” -Cheryl Strayed

I recently taught a nutrition seminar at a local high school. My audience included several teams of youth Volleyball athletes, all of which were between the ages of 14-18. I led with the question, “How many of you weigh yourselves every morning?” and every hand in the room went up. My heart dropped to the floor. The following question I asked was, “How many of you like the number that you see?” Not a single person kept their hand in the air. The reality is that young girls, adolescents & women of all ages allow their scale weight to dictate their beauty, worth and self confidence.

I used to be guilty of the same thing. I spent years focusing on a weight with which I was comfortable. I would say , “Anything under 125 pounds is fine,” as if my weight was a negotiation, compromise or something on which I had to settle. I treated it as if that number actually equated to something, said something about the person I am or what I bring to the table.

I started self educating, embarking on my own fitness journey, and was able to surround myself with valuable resources to learn more about what the number on the scale really represents. Doing so helped me realize how little that number should be valued. So many things impact your scale weight. If you are going to place value on that number, then you must also be willing to consider everything associated with it as well.

What is “everything” we must consider when we weigh ourselves? Keep reading…

“Drinking water makes me bloated.” MYTH! The human body is made up of 40-70% water, most of which is found in muscle tissues. Our bodies require copious amounts of water regardless of the level of physical activity.  Water transports nutrients, vitamins and minerals throughout the body, diffuses gas, rids the body of waste, lubricates the joints and provides structure to skin. The Dietary Reference Intake for water for women is 91 oz per day, and 125 oz for men. However, I encourage my clients to drink one gallon per day (128 oz). Drinking water does the exact opposite of bloating. The higher the water intake, the faster the body will flush and release fluids. Drinking 128 oz of water a day will do nothing but help your body look and function to the best of its ability. If you are not drinking enough water on a regular basis it is extremely likely that your body is retaining fluids, resulting in a higher scale weight.

Rest & Recovery: The body repairs and restores itself during sleep. It is preparing for the days and weeks ahead of strenuous activity, life and interaction. Implementing consistent habits to maximize sleep should be a priority, along with allowing your body ample time to recover and repair (taking rest days if you are an active person, etc). Our muscles are made up of 70% water. That also means that training and vigorous exercise that results in muscle soreness can cause temporary fluid retention in the muscle while it repairs. Poor, broken lack of sleep or overall fatigue will result in a higher scale weight. If there is a random jump on the scale, evaluate your rest and recovery for the week and note that the number does not reflect NOT fat gain! Stay objective when making these evaluations!

Sodium 101:  If you are willing to pick apart your weight, you should be just as willing to do a thorough evaluation of what you put in your mouth that contributes to the number on the scale. Salt, fiber levels and food intolerances all have a major impact on your scale weight! Sodium can EASILY cause water retention (and the scale to go up) if more salt than usual is consumed in one sitting. I recommend a sodium intake of  2,000-3,000 mg. It is not ideal to  consume less than 1,00 mg of sodium per day. It can be helpful to pay attention to the sodium content in foods you purchase to identify any culprits that may be causing additional retention.

Dietary Fiber: Fiber aids in digestion, helps speed up the process of waste elimination, allows one to feel more satiated for longer periods of time and has other major health benefits. A good rule of thumb is to have roughly 20% of your daily total carbohydrate intake consist of dietary fiber. As fiber moves through your body, it absorbs water along the way. Therefore, should you have a particularly high fiber diet or eat foods containing high levels of fiber one day, your weight will increase due to the additional water absorption that it is pulling through your tract simultaneously. Exceeding average fiber levels may cause a scale spike for up to 72 hours for some and may be completely unnoticeable for others. Being aware of your fiber intake and understanding its role in digestion will make weighing yourself much less scary.

Food Sensitivities & Intolerances: Food intolerances and sensitivities present themselves differently in everyone. Learning what foods work best for your body and digestive system is crucial looking and feeling your best. If you are unsure of foods that may be causing frequent discomfort you can try a temporary elimination diet, slowly removing one food at a time for a 7-10 days to see if things improve. Food panels and intolerance tests are also available to determine sensitivites. Consuming foods to which you are intolerant or even slightly sensitive can result in painful gas, physical discomfort and changes on the scale. Evaluate your food choices and be mindful about what you put in your body! Certain foods will work better for you than others and having that knowledge is imperative when placing value on the scale.

Hormones, Stress & Self Care: These three are the scale weight trifecta! Women have the privilege of navigating monthly cycles that impact energy levels, hormones and how the body looks and feels. When nearing or on a cycle, enduring a stressful time or feeling overly tired your body is going to reflect that on the scale. Those feelings are what our bodies use to communicate what we need. Don’t ignore them, power through them or try to be a hero! They are great indicators that you need to scale back, take some time to yourself and give back to your body. Pedicures, massages, quiet time, lighting a candle, or walks outside are all ways that I manage my stress and practice self care to honor what my body needs.  Additionally, women should know that it is not uncommon to experience weight fluctuations anywhere from 1-6 pounds around a menstrual cycle. Without stress management tools or ample self care you can expect the see the number on the scale rise. Whether it is finals week, a demanding work schedule or an event in your life causing stress, do not be surprised if you see the scale move.

The next time you hop on the scale to evaluate your progress, please review this list and approach your evaluations with mindful consideration. Incorporate other (more valuable) measures of progress in place of or in addition to the scale as well! Using measuring tapes and noting how your clothes fit, current energy levels, improved athletic performance and your overall well being will tell you so much more than that metal box.

The scale is only ONE tool for measurement and there are so many things that it DOESN’T tell us. Be less attached to that number and more attached to the person behind it. The number on the scale doesn’t tell you who you are, it doesn’t celebrate the exercise you did that week, it doesn’t take into account your headspace or work load, nor does it tell you when you have made serious muscle gains, or lost inches! Measurements, body scans, photographs and self awareness do that. There is no wrong way to measure progress or self evaluate. The only thing that matters is that your method of choice adds value, encourages celebration of all types of progress and serves your current journey.

Posted in Uncategorized

Let’s Talk Toxins: Removing toxins and chemicals that are harming your health

Are the unnatural chemicals and toxins in your favorite household products, cosmetics and perfumes jeopardizing your health?

Protecting your health is completely up to you. Many of the trusted products consumers use daily contain harmful ingredients that we often inhale, put on our skin or eat that are completely unregulated. One would assume that it would be possible to shop products and trust the labels to be safe, natural and free of toxins creating major health risks, but that is not the case. Europe, in comparison has thousands of products that are highly regulated or labeled as unsafe to use that flood America’s shelves in stores and at home every day.

Simply put, our bodies are not equipped to help us face the chronic exposure to unnatural toxins and stressors that are wreaking havoc on our health. The harmful chemicals in commonly used household products result in symptoms that most causally write off as fatigue, effects or aging or consequences of maintaining a high stress lifestyle. We discount the signals and warning signs the body sends despite the fact that those unnatural stressors play a role in the development of cancers, autoimmune disease, asthma, neurological disease, fertility issues and more!

It is more important than ever to take control of your health. Removing as many damaging influences as possible and replacing them with a more natural, simple alternative is a great start to protecting your health and wellness. Below are trustworthy guidelines to follow while you navigate the toxins in your life and work to replace them!

  1. Air on the side of caution. If a product or medicine is not proven safe, don’t take the risk! Use an app such as “Healthy Living” to quickly scan your current household products and learn more about their ingredients and safety.
  2. Avoid GMO’s in everything you eat! The cells in your body are easily influenced by their environment, and that environment is the deciding factor between the disease genes in your body getting turned on, or staying in the “off” position. As a result, stressors such as poor diet, toxins and harmful chemicals will create a terrible environment and potential breeding ground for health risks. The direct correlation between the influx of unregulated products in the marketplace and the skyrocketing number of autoimmune, asthma and autism cases is no coincidence.
  3. Educate yourself often on endocrine disrupting chemicals. These can be found in commonly purchased self-care or cleaning products and can challenge hormone function. Knowledge is power!
  4. Avoid the bandwagon. Disregard what your peers are doing and make choices that serve the health and wellness of you and your family. As long as consumers continue to feed the market demand for such products, the only chance to create change is up to you.
  5. Focus on the small, productive things you can do right away. Over time you will eventually transform some of your food, products and cosmetics to be free of unnatural, unregulated and unsafe ingredients keeping you from a lifetime of health and wellness.

 

Posted in How To's

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain: 8 tips for tackling the holidays stress free!

Navigating the holidays without gaining that annual 5 lbs of “fluff” can be the most challenging obstacles for those practicing mindfulness around health and wellness.

Some approach the holiday season swearing to resist the endless amounts of cookies, cocktails and other sweet-treat temptations included in most social events between the November and the New Year. They are ambitious.

Others enter the holidays surrendering their health and fitness goals completely. Returning to family is stressful enough. Just the thought of returning to family with their goals as a top priority seems laughable. Their goals, progress or intention of approaching the holidays with balance and mindfulness is simply out of the question. Why miss a  a prime time opportunity to maximize every gathering, party and temptation when starting over on January first is the familiar routine?  The decision is made that their goals can wait and right then they head face first toward the dessert trays.

There is massive grey area between these two extremes. However, navigating the space between restriction and a free for all is too overwhelming! American’s have embraced approaching the holidays with a hyper focus on the food and temptations. In reality, these special days have absolutely nothing to do with food.

For those looking to approach this year’s company parties, family dinners and exciting get togethers with mindfulness, balance and a realistic approach KEEP READING! Be empowered to incorporate healthful habits into this year’s holiday season without the stress! Below are my go-to tips for enjoying the holidays without putting your health on hold.

TIPS FOR NAVIGATING THE HOLIDAYS THIS YEAR:

1. Setting expectations:  Set an expectation on what needs to happen in order for you to enjoy the holiday season without sacrificing your goals. How do you want to feel after the party? What obstacles might you face? Examples of expectations include deciding on a number of alcoholic drinks you will consume before you even arrive at the party, or to premeditate a plan of attack for the inevitable desert trays. Will you have one of each? Avoid it all together? Make a plan and set the tone for the evening.

2. Don’t be a hero: Never show up to a party hungry! No one can make good decisions on an empty stomach and will usually resort to over eating from being overly ravenous for too long. Having a small meal or snack right before you leave will keep you from eating by the handful and encourage you to fill your plate with food choices resembling mindfulness and moderation because you aren’t on your hunger death bed.

3. Keep multiple snack stashes: Having healthy snacks at your fingertips can be a lifesaver when you are in a pinch! Have a supply of tuna, almonds, healthy bars, fruit, snack veggies and water at the ready whenever hunger strikes. Keep an emergency kit of snacks in the car, purse, gym bag or office! Don’t be caught empty handed when hunger strikes! This will prevent you from feeling too hungry and encourage balanced choices despite any curve balls that get thrown your way.

4. Dress for success: When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you tend to make better choices that align with your goals! Dressing in an outfit that shows off your figure will serve as a great motivator for you to avoid doing anything that would make you feel like a beached whale when you leave the party. Choose something that fits you right now, not last year’s ensemble that is too tight or no longer comfortable. You deserve to feel beautiful, confident and comfortable all season long.

5. Offer to bring a dish: Bringing an entre or appetizer creates an opportunity for you to prepare something that fits your needs and can also be enjoyed by others. Get creative with the usual holiday recipes and prepare something on the lighter side. Incorporate something with fresh vegetables or a yogurt spread instead of the usual butter and cream. Provide a fresh dessert option with berries and sorbet to balance out the sugar cookies and chocolate. The other guests will appreciate the variety and you can have the best of both worlds.

6. Fill your plate guilt free: It can be difficult to know what to expect when attending an event with zero insight regarding what will be available for food. Once you are settled and familiar with your options a great strategy is to prioritize what will go on your plate. Identify which dishes you’d like to enjoy the most and take note if there are some things you can go without. By prioritizing what goes on your plate you can enjoy your annual favorites without feeling like you over did it, or accidentally having a plate that resembles a small mountain. Fill your body with the foods you love and enjoy them guilt free. An approach allowing you to enjoy your favorite things in moderation will set you up for ultimate success every time.

7. Add some spritz to your cocktail: Cocktails are part of the fun! They also present significant temptation and an easy opportunity to over do it in the worst way. Create a spritzer version of your favorite beverage by pouring your glass with 1/2 seltzer of choice and the other half with you alcoholic beverage. Enjoy a buzz without all the empty calories (and half the hangover). Requesting “bitters” (available at any establishment serving beverages) to seltzer water is calorie free option that looks identical to a spirit for those that are bashful about cutting back on drinks.

8. Important reminders: The food isn’t going anywhere. You have the choice to treat the temptations of the holiday season like you do every other day of the year, but with better decorations! Remember that just because the calendar reads “November” and “December” your goals and priorities don’t require a pause.You to remember that you have the power to choose. Make the choice that best suits your life, goals and dreams this holiday season!

 

For more tips, tricks and resources for living your best life in your best body please visit www.CarsonLaineFitness.com

Posted in wellness

Hitting The Nutrition Reset Button

The winter months, but specifically November and December are infamous for encouraging avid health seekers to fall off the wagon, put a pause on important goals and make excuses for choices (including  or the abundance of holiday treats being enjoyed). Simply put, the holidays make prioritizing nutrition more challenging! This also explains the phenomenon most of us anticipate each year. I refer to it as the annual health and fitness “reset” that happens every January. The parties are over, the gym gets busier, new fads are for sale, vacation in Hawaii is approaching and of course, a new year means a new YOU.

Nutrition and diet heavily influence our bodies in terms of how they look, feel, function, and behave. In order to optimize our health (and bodies), the approach taken with nutrition and food choices matters. The good news? Starting fresh with your health can be done in different ways. The approach yielding the most success is the approach that will work best for YOU. I have successfully used a more gradual approach allowing for incremental changes as well as “a clean slate” approach, designed to begin your fresh start immediately. Let’s compare!

A gradual approach allows more space and time for comfortable changes within reason. By phasing things out in increments it can be easier to find your flow along the way. If you are someone that is easily overwhelmed by change, the thought of cleaning out your panty, and are not suffering from physical symptoms related to nutrition, start here! Below are my best tips for navigating the gradual approach successfully:

    • Start with breakfast: Start to replace processed, sugary foods with whole, nutrient dense options. For example, swap the pop tarts for a hearty bowl of oats!
    • Think ahead and have the ingredients handy for the breakfast meals.
    • Commit to this act for one week.
    • Take note of any changes in feeling, energy, hunger, fullness, etc.

 

  • The following week include changes to lunch, and repeat the steps above.
  • Proceed to dinner on week three, as well as any other snacks being consumed throughout the day.
  • Be methodical and plan ahead! Preparation is key.

In comparison, a “clean slate” approach is my personal favorite and is often referred to as the “cold turkey” method. This approach works well for those that are highly motivated, accountable to a structured plan and are eager for results. This is also the best approach for those battling painful or uncomfortable symptoms caused by a food allergy or sensitivity. Starting fresh this way requires some thought ahead of time! Below are my favorite tips for wiping your slate clean and starting fresh:

  • Identify any trigger foods that create temptation or no longer work for you.
  • Clean out the pantry and prepare a new grocery list.
  • Plan ahead and account for any events or meals out that could cause an accident.
  • Substitute wisely and often (refer to “Painless Pantry swaps” blog article for suggestions).
  • Be ok with not feeling ok. Depending on the number of changes happening it is not uncommon to experience temporary fatigue, headaches, changes in appetite or energy while your body adjusts.
  • If you fall off the wagon, DON’T WORRY! Identify what went wrong, think of a solution for next time that situation comes up, and get right back on the horse. Perfection isn’t welcome or necessary here.
  • Revamp your recipes and meals! It’s important that time spent in the kitchen is enjoyable. Use this fresh start as a chance to make new foods, try new things, and master a recipe you never thought you’d try!

Breaking free of bad habits is a MUST in order to reclaim your health. The only thing preventing this healthy, fresh start is YOU. Give yourself the gift of health this holiday season and be the change you want to see in your life, mind and body. Everything you need to be successful is already inside of you. Take the leap!

 

For more information on living your best life in your best body please visit www.carsonlainefitness.com

Posted in wellness

Sleep & Fat Loss

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Sleep (noun): a condition of body and mind such as that which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.

Sleep is one of the most underrated topics in the health and fitness industry today. Sleep is essential and a massive component to the overall wellbeing, life and ability to function as humans. Sleep is also infamous for being the first healthy habit American’s sacrifice when life starts to feel out of control. One would think that as soon as feelings of stress, fatigue or having an unmanageable work load would result in slowing down. Those feelings are signs and signals from our bodies to take a step back, remove, reduce, de clutter, slow down and surrender. 

Instead, we have somehow been trained to do the opposite! When stress and fatigue kick in, we start doing MORE. We get up earlier, stay up later, move faster, drink more coffee, add more stress and race around as if it were possible to outrun our daily lives. We think we can fool the world and our own bodies. There are endless studies on both adults and children linking lack of sleep and weight gain, and the studies are absolutely correct. For those still spending hours in the gym instead of in bed, it is time to reconsider the allocation of your time. Sleep is the only thing that keeps us alive, healthy, and functioning the way we only hope all of the coffee and stimulants might. 

Still not so sure? The facts speak for themselves! 

  1. Poor sleep can increase your appetite. Sleep impacts the hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin.  These hormones signal our hunger cues and appetite. Too little sleep impacts the ability for these hormones to properly signal hunger and fullness. That imbalance causes insatiable feelings of hunger, encourages overeating, slowed fat loss and of course, weight gain. 
  1. Sleep helps fight cravings and encourages balanced choices in the kitchen. Lack of sleep literally alters how the brain works. To be specific, insufficient sleep directly impacts the frontal lobe’s ability to function at its best. This matters because the frontal lobe is the central hub in the brain for decision-making and self-control, two things that you really want working at all times! Lack of sleep makes it much more difficult to fight off temptation or make choices that support health and fitness goals. 
  1. Lack of sleep often results in poor nutritional choices leading to weight gain. The portions served get much bigger, late night or mindless snacking kicks in, and creates a lack of motivation to choose the healthy, balanced options. All of these things result in the additional calories and unhealthy habits that pack on the pounds in the middle of the night! 
  1. Poor sleep can compromise your metabolic rate! When sleep is lacking, the human body does, too. Sleepless nights can result in muscle loss, and muscles are what help you burn more calories and improve your metabolic rate even while you sleep. It can also negatively impact athletic performance and your body’s ability to respond positively to any attempts at weight or fat loss. 
  1. Proper rest encourages activity! Without proper sleep it is much harder to have the energy or motivation to move, be active and workout. Being more sedentary creates a much higher risk for weight gain. When properly rested one is more likely to go for a walk, have more energy throughout the day, improve mental clarity, focus, productivity levels and promotes other healthy habits simply by allowing your body the reset that it needs on a daily basis. 

In summary, sleep is a very crucial part of living a healthy and balanced life and is imperative when weight loss, fat loss and athletic performance are at stake. Mind you, this is not a complete list. Sleep deprivation also disrupts relationships, mental health, emotional health, and can worsen other conditions and cause further problems down the road. 

Eager for more information on sleep or ways to improve your own sleep habits? 

For more information, tips and tricks to improving your health and wellness please visit www.carsonlainefitness.com