Metabolic Myths Keeping You From Losing Weight

Metabolic Myths Keeping You From Losing Weight

Read time: 10-minute

Looking to feel healthy, energized and (maybe) lose some weight? Myths are rife in the fitness industry, so I am here to bust the most common myths around metabolism for you.

First of all, your metabolism as we are referring to here, is the fire that burns through food and drink. The higher it is, the easier it is to lose weight. Chronic dieting down regulates your metabolism, which makes it HARDER to lose weight. So, believing these myths will keep you from achieving your goals, and that is why we are covering them 🙂

Let’s start with the most common one;

Myth 1: I’ve tried everything and can’t lose weight 

Metabolisms simply adapt to your lifestyle. Anyone can lose weight, they just need to take a metabolically friendly approach. (if you want to learn more about this, check out my Nutrition course where I cover it, and help you fix it, in detail.)

The issue with most women, without getting too deeply into it, is that most women don’t eat enough calories, or enough nutritiously rich food on a daily basis, to create the foundations of a healthy metabolism.

When daily health targets aren’t met, cravings come in and we often over-indulge in hyper-palatable foods, pushing daily calories over the top into a surplus (more than you need). Fad diets are often leaned on too, when women find themselves believing this, as they want to get the ‘diet’ out of the way as soon as possible.

It’s not possible to just ‘get it out of the way’. Eating well and eating well regularly needs to become a lifestyle, not just a one-time thing for a period of time. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you start to feel leaner, stronger, healthier, and more energized.

Additionally, most women who say this, have never tried a measured, slow-going health-focussed approach, approved by a professional. What they mean by ‘i’ve tried everything’ is that they have tried every fad diet, trendy group challenge, or extreme methods.

Always keep in mind, the truth is a hard sell. It’s not romantic, fancy, quick or easy. You may have noticed this by now though with the content I’ve shared with you so far!

 

Myth 2: Your metabolism slows as you age 

 

The great news is that this is totally false, IF you continue to remain active.

Your metabolism is a reflection of your lifestyle. Generally speaking, as people age, they become less active and after age 30, they start to lose muscle. In women, it’s been suggested that this could be up to 15% by the age of 50, further declining after that.

If you remain active, continue (or start) weight training to maintain muscle and continue to fuel your body, with a nutrient rich diet, your metabolism simply will not slow down all by itself, it will respond to what you’re teaching it, and require it to do. End of story.

 

Myth 3: Exercise boosts your metabolism

 

Ok, so there is some truth in this one. Post exercise, there’s something that we call EPOC (excess post-exercise energy expenditure). This refers to the increase in energy (caloric) demands after a workout and essentially, the harder the workout, the greater the EPOC. But we’re only talking about around 60-extra calories over a 16-hour period, not a whole bucket of hot-chips worth 😉

When you have a sluggish, highly adapted metabolism and your body is under stress, this kind of intense exercise will actually just cause more stress on your body.

So it’s better to look at it like this:

Exercise increases the amount of energy you expend on that day only. For example, you burn 250 calories on the stepper, it hasn’t ‘increased’ your metabolism, it has simply burned through more calories than you would have had you remained sedentary that day. That means, you can eat 250-calories more that day, if your goal is to maintain your weight. 

 

Myth 4: Weight training increases your metabolism 

This is true, but it’s not dramatic. Increased muscle mass from weight training has been shown to have an effect on improving metabolism, but it’s not a huge amount when it comes to building muscle naturally.

For example, it’s been estimated that one kilogram of muscle can burn up to 12 calories while at rest. 1kg of fat burns around 4 calories per day. If over time you were to increase muscle mass by 10kg, this means you’ll be burning 120-calories more per day. Keep in mind this may take you a few years to achieve, so the effect is slight. You will look and feel a lot different though, that is for sure, due to changes in body composition resulting from your training efforts.

Look at it like this; weight training improves the quality of the body overall, and when more muscle is built, performance improves and training sessions are more effective. This has an impact on how we can transform our bodies over time, but not so much an ‘overnight’ effect on the quality of your metabolism

 

Myth 5: Metabolisms ‘break’ 

False. Refer to myth 1 – ‘I have tried everything and can’t lose weight’. 

Your metabolism isn’t ‘broken’, it’s just efficient. Remember that an efficient metabolism is one that adapts really well to its environment.

If your metabolism is sluggish and you’re gaining weight easily, it is not doing what you want, it’s doing what it thinks you need. It’s protecting you from a famine, keeping you as safe as it possibly can.

Why does this happen? There are generally three reasons; 

  • Your body is under stress, be it physical or emotional.
  • You aren’t consuming the right kinds of health-based foods
  • You are under-eating regularly and on purpose
  • You aren’t training in a way that optimizes your health (over-training)

Fun-fact – it is actually rare that someone with anorexia reaches a skeletal body composition. This is a genetic factor, and many who are treated with anorexia aren’t that skeletal at all, they’re just undernourished. So simply not eating does not help everyone lose weight. 

 

Myth 6: I can boost my metabolism with (insert food or drink here) 

This is true, but not in the way you think. We hear a lot about spicy foods, caffeine, and pre-trainers causing an increase in metabolism, but all they really do is speed up your heart rate, or increase body heat. This doesn’t ensure that your metabolism will speed up!

You could say this statement has some validity, due to what we call the ‘thermic effect of food’ (TEF). These foods require more energy to break down, with protein, and particularly animal protein, being the primary example.

Foods that are high in nutritional quality can also have a more positive impact on metabolism than processed, under-nourishing foods, as they are less-likely to inflame and damage the gut lining, or maim your healthy and helpful gut bacteria.

Healthful, whole foods are metabolically nourishing, and fast-foods can be destructive. Note also, that how destructive it can be is relative to the individual, their current state and stress levels, so for some people junk food is fine in moderation, and for others it is the last thing they need. 

 

Myth 7: Multiple meals per day will speed up your metabolism 

This is false, and studies have shown that your metabolism will remain the same whether you eat 6 meals per day, or just one.

In saying that, I believe it makes a difference for women to have a few meals per day to prevent blood sugar crashes, and increase the chance of adherence. Women’s bodies are most often more prone to stress, and when you spend many hours without a meal, it can heighten that stress, especially when your metabolism isn’t particularly healthy.

So if you’re stressed, or if feeling hungry makes you feel stressed, stick to more frequent meals. If you’re not stressed, eat however you like!

 

Myth 8: You should eat ‘fat-burning’ foods

Sorry, but fat-burning foods don’t exist. Calorie-control is the only way to make the most out of a weight loss journey. As mentioned above this means fat burners, coffee, and berries won’t make your metabolism speed up and body-fat to drop off

Fat-burning occurs when your body has a low enough amount of food coming in from healthy sources, without it feeling unsafe. When this happens, in order to make up for the deficit in energy your body will tap into fat cells and use them for fuel instead.

So, the optimal ‘fat-burning’ foods for you are, the ones that are most nourishing and least stressful for your body overall. 

 

Myth 9: Carbs are the enemy when it comes to a healthy metabolism

False, false, false.

Although we can survive without carbs, it’s very hard to thrive without them. Especially if you’re physically active.

There are no short-cuts. You can’t bypass your body’s physiology with a simple trick. The basics work time and time again, you just need to be consistent and patient!

Ignore the influencers, your mum, your friends (who aren’t qualified), and trust the methods that have been working for years on end.

Save your valuable time and energy for getting results!

I Won a Telstra Best of Business Award for Accelerating Women

I Won a Telstra Best of Business Award for Accelerating Women

Read times: 5-minute read

What a whirlwind that was!

I received an email almost 12 months ago now – ‘you have been nominated for the Telstra Best of Business Awards, click here to enter your business’

In 2017 I had some experience with Telstra’s awards program, and what I remembered most was the clarity I received about my business as I worked through each stage. Despite having no confidence at the time and being selected as a finalist, I was told by one of the judges I was a close second to the overall prize. This boosted my confidence in myself and my business exponentially, and since that day I always intended on doing it again.

So as I received the nomination I clicked through, and began putting my entry together.

The Telstra Awards are a rigorous process, so it’s not something you can breeze through or do in a weekend. There are four stages, each more involved than the one before it. You are notified after each round whether or not you have made it through, and if you do, you continue on to that next level. Each level they want to understand your business on a deeper level than the one that passed.

From the beginning I had the final round in my sights – the pitch pack – and so I put it all out on the table from the beginning.

The process 

The first round is multiple choice, social media links, your website and a short bio on your business purpose and story. If you’re selected to share more about your business you enter stage two, which were 3-minute videos responses on all aspects of your business, including; 

  • Company purpose and solution
  • Culture and team
  • Financials and future 
  • Business story 

They offer specific categories to best suit your business, I chose ‘Accelerating Women’ and ‘Championing Health’. For each category you submit additional answers to explain how you are contributing to Australia in alignment with the criteria of that specific category.

Once I reached the third round, I almost called it! It required 5 x 5 1500 word answers to each aspect of your business. As a solo entrant I struggled to complete it alongside my client load. You also don’t realise how much information there is to share, and how little 1500 words is, when you’re trying to explain what you do to strangers!

With the editing support of a long-term client, I passed through that stage to the interview stage – a 30-minute interview with the judges. They were extremely knowledgeable in their own fields and by this stage knew all there was to know about your business and vision.

From there, I made it through to the awards night as a State Finalist in both my chosen categories. I was SO excited!

The pitch deck was further away than I thought though – I needed to WIN in order to give my pitch. 

I WON the Accelerating Women award!

Dressed up in a gown, hair and makeup done, I attended the awards night with my two favourite people – my bestie and my partner. 

Then came the announcement – ‘I am so proud to announce that the winner is, Wildly Strong’. I was shocked! I took the stage to accept my award and deliver my acceptance speech. I was overwhelmed but also just so happy and proud. 

It was the best thing I have experienced in my business so far. And it’s not for the reason you may think.

I have no formal training in business. I am heart-led and my intuition is what brought me to where I am now. I followed my gut, shared my story and supported women in overcoming the same struggles I have overcome.

So I have no mentorship, and I get no business feedback, but the awards program offers me an opportunity for just that. It asks important questions of you as a business owner, and forces you to get clear on your past, present and future in a way that makes sense to strangers – not one of my strong points!

The National Experience 

So here I am ready to put together a pitch pack – the part I was most excited about. Judges from across Australia were selected for the panel, and you have 10 minutes to pitch your business to them. Aware of the fact that I had no formal training or any clue about corporate lingo, I put together a pitch that I was super proud of. 

They asked me questions around investment, how I was going to ‘challenge the establishment’ and things like this, to which I replied I would have to get a mentor. I hadn’t thought this far ahead, as I don’t have many resources available to me.

They gave me really great advice on what I could do to grow my business with the resources I did have – creating partnerships with other professionals that my work gels well with.

So a night of mingling, a pitch pack presented to judges, a masterclass where we met the CEO of Telstra, and a 6-hour long awards ceremony I was presented with my state finalist award. I didn’t win the national prize, but as a realist I wasn’t expecting I would. It was the experience I was seeking and the clarity around my own business journey that was most important to me.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. I have such clarity around who I serve, the direction I am taking, the story that led me here, and what I need to do next in order to continue accelerating women into the future.

I was offered a speaking opportunity with the Defense Force, an article in the Canberra Weekly, an interview with one of the judges Div Pillay in June, and I made an appearance on Sunrise off the back of this awards program. These are valuable experiences that came off the back of the publicity I received in the awards program.

Where am I going now?

If I am honest, I am resting! The two awards ceremonies were on either side of my PTSD healing sessions in Byron Bay. I didn’t really get a chance or space to process what came up in my session, and I fell behind on client work! I am still catching up.

So, it’s a rest from me, and I have a few exciting things in the pipelines that I can’t tell you about yet – but it’s coming sometime in September.

The Telstra 2024 Best of Business Awards nominations are now open, so if you know of a business that could benefit from this process in the future, be sure to nominate them here!

Nutritional Myths you Need to Stop Believing

Nutritional Myths you Need to Stop Believing

Read times: 10-minute read

This post is dedicated to 10 nutritional myths, and of course I will deliver the facts around each, to ease your mind so you can get to making progress for the long term. 

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Nutrition: Nourish & Flourish Course

There are MANY myths in the nutritional world, some are as old as ever but others have popped up only recently. What I will cover includes;

  • Carbs are bad for you
  • Fruit makes you fat because of the sugar
  • You need to eat perfectly for good health 
  • The food pyramid is the best way to eat for optimal health
  • Fat burning foods exist 
  • There are ‘calorie free’ foods
  • Everyone should eat in moderation 
  • Multiple meals per day will speed up the metabolism
  • Animal protein is inflammatory 
  • Eat 1200 calories per day

Before we get into it, I want you to know this one thing – big food companies have staff dedicated to creating confusion around food through facebook posts and Question, false news stories and botched ‘scientific’ studies. Confusion keeps people hooked and there is much profit to be made in a population that is addicted to food.

If you had clarity, you would know that healthy eating matters, adn if you knew that, you would feel good, and you would stop eating their food.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the myths and I will clear this all up for you!

Myth 1: Carbs are the enemy 

False, false, false. Although we can survive without carbs, it’s very hard to thrive without them. Especially if you’re physically active.

There are two essential nutrients in life – protein and fat. This is an undisputed scientific fact. Carbs aren’t essential, but they are required if you are physically active as your body’s number one energy source.

Women lose weight every day and build muscle and play sports competitively because of carbs. There is some debate that marathon runners do better on high fat diets, but I can assume you’re not a marathon runner here. Marathon runners also lose their muscle mass, which is essential to long term health so there is no reason to follow their logic regardless.

We also need carbs for a healthy menstrual cycle, which you will notice right before you bleed when you’re ravenous and wanting to smash every carb in sight. This is a sign you’re either not giving your body what it needs at that time, or not giving it enough quality food at that time.

A time where a carb might be considered ‘bad’ is in obesity, type 2 diabetes or when you are pre-diabetic. EVEN THEN, a diet in lower glycemic carbs would still work. It comes down to preference.

Removing carbs to regulate blood sugar is never a bad idea, but at some stage they need to be brought back in, preferably before the body screams so loud that you eat more carbs than you’ve ever eaten in your life causing more problems than you had in the first place. I generally recommend 8 weeks as a maximum time period you should go without carbs, if you are overweight.

So eat carbs, enjoy carbs, but eat them from sources such as organic rice, sourdough if bread is your thing, fruits, potatoes and oats.  If you’re healthy, throw in some sugary treats occasionally.

Myth 2: The sugar in Fruit makes you fat 

Fruit made its way to the bad list and although it is a carb, I have given it its own point. Fruit is not bad for you, and fruit will not make you fat. I would not be surprised if it was a massive junk food company that started this rumor, as they are the only ones who would gain from such misinformation.

If you are overweight, or diabetic, then sure you probably shouldn’t eat 5 pieces of fruit/day, and it is optimal to choose fruits that are higher in nutritional value and fibre, such as berries, pears and apples.

But, you can eat fruit and still be healthy, and it is MUCH MORE healthy than eating a packet of lolly snakes or a donut because those foods have zero nutritional value and will hardly register in the body as ‘food’.

But, what about the fructose!? Isn’t that what makes you fat?

All refined sugar products break down into fructose in your body to some degree, so if you’re worried about the sugar in fruit, you should be worried about ALL sugar products.

My point here is, worrying about fruit yet consuming mars bars and soft drinks is misguided and will be detrimental to your health long term. Eat the fruit, start pushing out the junk. 

Myth 3: Eat from the food pyramid

No, you should base your optimal health on the food pyramid. The Australian one is not too bad, but I would certainly prioritize meats and animal proteins over grain products.

In a time where the government makes suggestions around food and lifestyle, yet people are sicker than ever, it’s perhaps time to think about it more critically. It is common knowledge that a diet high in refined foods is not a healthful one, yet we are still recommended to eat these things.

It is easier to feed a population with easy to grow crops and foods that can be diversified into many food like products, for example a corn crop is made into about 140 food ingredients, so it’s quite diverse in its ability to feed a population. This is where the motivation comes from.

It would be better (if you can afford it, which is a whole other problem), if you can eat as close to mother nature as possible, so the more ingredients a product has on the label, the lower down your list it should go. 

Myth 4: You need to eat perfectly and organic in order to be healthy

You don’t need to eat organic, but for some foods it’s a great idea. Look up the dirty dozen and clean 15,  where you will find a list of foods which are recommended you eat organic. Fatty meats are great to be consumed organic, whereas in lean meats it isn’t as important.

As far as eating ‘perfectly’ goes, there is no point in creating this kind of pressure in yourself. You’re a highly programmable human being and junk food companies are hijacking your brain on the daily, and subconsciously, through magazines, TV, Hollywood movies and social media in ways you can’t even imagine. 

So, you can’t just reject all unhealthy food and eat perfectly. If you want to change, it is highly likely that it will take you quite some time to change your diet, but just know with every intentional healthy choice, you are getting closer to that goal of better nutrition, and better health.

Give yourself some grace and allow the process to unfold naturally.

Back to the organic part of this point, if you’re hung up on this one and thinking a standard chicken breast is not healthy because it’s not organic, but then buying a big-mac instead, this is worse. There is plenty of nutrition in a non-organic chicken breast, it’s called protein, and it’s essential for building every cell in your body.

Eat as healthily as you can afford, as often as you can, and you will be healthy! Bodies are resilient, more than you know.

Myth 5: You should eat ‘fat-burning’ foods

Sorry, but fat-burning foods don’t exist. Calorie-control and meeting nutritional needs is the only way to build a body that looks and feels good. This means fat burners, coffee, spicy foods and berries won’t make your metabolism speed up and body-fat to drop off. They can speed up your heart rate, or increase body heat which can assist in fat loss, but there are many other things that need to be in check for it to have an effect.

If fat burning is  your goal, then know that this occurs when your body has a low enough amount of food coming in from healthy sources, without it feeling unsafe. When this happens, in order to make up for the deficit in energy your body will tap into fat cells and use them for fuel instead.

So, the optimal ‘fat-burning’ foods for you are, the ones that are most nourishing and least stressful for your body overall. 

Myth 6: There are ‘calorie-free’ foods

Nooo there are not. Artificial sweeteners contain between 1-3 calories per gram (rather than 4 found in 1 gm of sugar), but there is some debate now that the body actually compensates for that lack of calories after consumption anyways.

Where this kind of point does hold validity, is in the ‘thermic effect of food’ (TEF).

Some foods take more energy in the body to break down once consumed, with protein, and particularly animal protein, being the primary example. Fibre is also highly unlikely to be stored as fat as it isn’t even used for energy, but more so to feed your good bacteria and push food through your digestive tract.

Carbs are second on the list, with fats last. So any fats you consume take much less energy in the body to break down, and are stored as body fat much more easily.

Now you may be able to see why a ‘bikini body’ diet is high in animal protein and fibrous veggies, moderate to low in carbs and very low in fat. It’s effective, but not something most people can stick to long term because it is either too low in energy (carbs and fats), or it’s just not a diet that fits in with your desired lifestyle.

So there are no fat burning or calorie free foods, but there are foods you can find in nature that would have a more positive effect on your appearance than others. 

Myth 7: Sugar free foods are better than sugar

Untrue. They’re much the same really, as sugar free foods have been shown to have an effect on blood sugar, but also your gut bacteria. The body often continues to have sugar cravings even after you have cut the sugar.

Additionally, artificial sweeteners can have a negative impact on your nervous system.

I think in the early stages of a lifestyle change, replacing sugary foods for sugar-free ones can be a good idea. It can help with a change in behaviour and attitude towards sugar, but the use of these products should be with the goal of also cutting those out, for a healthy whole food diet with natural sugars. 

Stevia and Natvia are sugar alternatives that have been (so far) shown to have no negative effects on the microbiome of blood sugar levels, so check those out if you’re looking for a sweet taste without the neurotoxic chemicals or blood sugar spikes. 

Myth 8: Everyone shouldeat in moderation’

Eating in moderation is totally abused, and leads us to have mostly a junk food diet with a sprinkle of health. Everyone I know who eats in moderation eats mostly processed foods.

If you were to eat healthy food every day of the week and have something small each day as a treat, or a night out each week, depending on how big that night out is, that would be ‘moderation’.

If you need to eat junk daily, this is moreso classified as an addiction, or you could call it an ‘unhealthy diet’. Easier to just name it as it is! If you said you call your friends ‘moderately’, I’m assuming you don’t mean you call multiple times per day, it’s more so classified as ‘frequent’.

I always recommended seeking out a diet which includes as many whole foods as possible, and one where meals are pre-planned.

Situations where it WOULD be crucial to completely forget about what you’re eating however include; 

  • If you are underweight or anorexic – in this case, you have bigger problems than your food choices, so you should eat more
  • If you tend to binge the second you put restrictions on yourself – as this will lead to more binges. Work on the underlying driver though. 

In these cases you have gone too far down the ‘heath’ road, and it would actually be better for you to learn some balance. I have been here and supported quite a few of my clients through this as well. 

Myth 9: Multiple meals per day will speed up your metabolism 

This is false, and studies have shown that your metabolism will remain the same whether you eat 6 meals per day, or just one.

In saying that, I believe it makes a difference for women to have a few meals per day to prevent blood sugar crashes, and increase the chance of adherence. Women’s bodies are most often more prone to stress, and when you spend many hours without a meal, it can heighten that stress, especially when your metabolism isn’t particularly healthy.

So if you’re stressed, or if feeling hungry makes you feel stressed, stick to more frequent meals. If you’re not stressed, eat however you like!

Myth 10: Animal protein is inflammatory 

I won’t go into this one too much, because it triggers so many that are leaning into the modern-day vegan agenda of today. I say ‘agenda’ because that’s what it is – big food companies and billionaire shareholders who see mass amounts of profit being made by making a shift from animal protein to plant ‘protein’.

Know that the body doesn’t get what it needs from plants, it needs animal protein. There are very few human beings that can thrive without the essential amino acids (building blocks for your entire body) found in poultry, red meat, seafood and eggs.

If you want to change your body composition, then this is an even bigger reason not to go vegan as it will make you insulin-resistant and you can’t build muscle past a certain point without animal protein. 

Myth 11: Eat 1200 calories a day for health

This one pisses me off, as I too was caught up in this for the first 10 years of my fitness journey, which started back in the late 90’s. Since the 70’s women were told to eat less if they want to be healthy and lean, but all this did is destroy a generation of metabolisms and set them up for permanent food fear and easy weight gain if they are so happy to ‘let it slip’.

The average 65kg woman should be eating around 2000-2400 calories per day for ultimate health and energy levels. 1200 calories is below what I would have someone on right before they step on stage, and this is when their metabolism and health is at the lowest point, and their body is being pushed harder than ever. I have had two clients on those calories but both weighed under 50kg and only followed those calories for a few short weeks.

Unless you’re taking steroids, it’s highly likely that a diet this low in calories will lead to a negative metabolic adaptation, muscle wastage, a downregulated thyroid, gut, sleep and energy issues. So ditch the 1200 calorie idea and start eating more as soon as you can.

There is a video version of this too, if you would like to learn more!

So those are my top nutritional myths, busted! Were there any that surprised you? Comment below if you like, I will always write back directly!

Jen x

13 Tips Helpful Additions to a Fat Loss Dieting Phase

13 Tips Helpful Additions to a Fat Loss Dieting Phase

Read times: 6 minute read time

Dieting can be hard work! But there are lots of things you can do to make it easier for yourself. In this post I am sharing 13 things that make dieting, or fat loss phases, easier. 

No matter what your body goals are, you need to enjoy your food and lifestyle enough to keep it in the long term. There’s no such thing as an eating style you hate that can get you the body you want in the long term. 

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Fat loss: Wildly Strong Women

Most of the tips are food related, but I guarantee they will help!

1. Egg Whites

This is really about volume, and in a way you can keep your egg-based meals the same in weight and volume without the calories. The yolk in an egg is around 50 calories, but the equivalent weight in egg whites is around 20 calories

 They can be rubbery so if you use whites only, you will need sauce. The yolk contains fat which is what gives eggs a creamy flavour and texture

 I used egg whites in oats and rice porridge, to create more volume and a fluffier texture. I used it in protein pancakes, and every couple of weeks I made an egg white pizza! So, they’re great. You can buy them in a packet in most supermarkets.

2. Protein Custard

Protein custards are fun because it’s like having a whey protein shake, but it thickens up just like custard, so you can eat it with a spoon, more like a dessert. 

 I used vanilla flavour to make really thick smoothies and smoothie bowls (which is something you can’t do on low calories as you need heaps of banana or avocado to make it fluffy). The texture of the custard will thicken it up, without the added calories.  

 My favourite brand is Red Dragon Nutritionals, and the vanilla custard flavour is to die for! Muscle Nation is also super popular. 

 I also use the custard to top my oats, or have some with muesli, berries, things like this. Or, you can just have it on its own.

3. Air-Fryer

I got an airfryer after deliberating for months. I am terrible with the oven (and super impatient) so throwing potatoes into the airfryer was amazing for me. I made crispy white potatoes, but also sweet potato chips almost every day. All you need to do is spray them with a little olive oil cooking spray, and cook them on a super high heat for 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I had a little sour cream and light sweet chili sauce, and sometimes I had them plain with salt. 

 You can make lots of other things in the air-fryer but the chips are my go-to.

 

 4. Zucchini

This is another volume trick, just like egg white zucchini is high volume and flavorless, so it’s highly versatile. By the end of my prep I was having both egg whites and zucchini in my oats, because it made the portion size bigger but without the calories.

Zucchini can also be used as noodles (we call these ‘zoodles’!) if you’re wanting a bolognese style meal, but can’t fit the pasta into your macros. 

5. Low-calorie sauces

This includes low-fat dressings, low-sugar dressings, and things like this. My favourites during my prep were Callowfit, and I used them on everything!

Keep in mind when you diet for some time, you don’t actually have the same taste buds as when you’re not, and your pallet gets quite bland. So as much as you usually would prefer a full-calorie balsamic vinegar dressing, know that the low fat version will be amazing when you’re in a dieting phase. When you go back to the real thing, it’s almost too much at first!

6. Flexible Dieting

This is an eating principle that saves everyone on a diet. In the old days we had set and rigid meal plans for fat loss, they worked but were impossible to stay with in the long term. Bodybuilders were the go-to people for fat loss, because people didn’t want to get smaller, they wanted to get ‘toned’. So to cater for this market, we would just prescribe these diets that were working for us.

I only did that on a handful of occasions before working out that a wholesome diet is better for the everyday person (one who is not obsessed with the gym), so not long after I started implementing variety. This was better, but also still restrictive.

I then brought in flexible dieting, which is where the person on the diet determines what they eat, whilst still sticking with calorie and/or macro targets. This way you eat your favourite foods on the daily, and you don’t miss out on things. You can make it more of a lifestyle, you learn about food, what your body likes and needs, and you’re likely to stick with it in the long term.

7. Save your TV shows for cardio

This one isn’t food related but, leave the TV for your cardio sessions! If you have to do a few per week, find a show you want to watch and wait until cardio time to watch it.

In the past, we used to walk on the treadmill 40-minutes per day, while staring at the walls! Or we would have to bribe someone to walk with us, or to stand next to the treadmill and entertain us as we walked. There were no iPhones, netflix, movies to watch on the treadmill. So do all of us old school dieters a favour and make the most of this technology.

8. Sugar-free maple syrup

I used this on egg whites with oats, and on protein pancakes. I also made french toast on a few occasions. It’s extremely sweet and as I said in the previous point, you won’t notice that it’s not the real deal when dieting.

9. Natvia brown sugar

This is totally random but I use it on everything – I sprinkle it on my oats, put it in cups of tea, and use it in my protein pancakes. It’s super sweet but with this brown sugar flavour which in my opinion reminds me of the real thing.

I also mixed it with cocoa powder to make a super low calorie hot chocolate (which I will get to in a minute).

Note this is a natural option which has not been shown to be harmful to your gut health, which many other sweeteners have been. It also doesn’t spike your blood sugar like real sugar or artificial sweeteners can do and lastly, it’s a plant, and it doesn’t make you crave more sugar.

10. Lot of veggies and big salads

You can eat a lot of vegetables to create high volume meals. Cooking them in a pan or in the oven makes them sweeter and crunchier too.

Keep in mind also that almost any vegetable can be eaten in a fat loss diet. Bodybuilders do broccoli, but as a normal human being, you don’t have to do that!

11. Rice Cakes

Rice cakes are another highly voluminous food. You could switch out 1 cup of rice for 8 rice cakes and you would be munching away for ages. In dieting you get to a point where you only have 10 gms carbs allowance in a meal, so two rice cakes is perfect for that.

I used mine with nut butter, protein custards (that was fun), tuna, light cream cheese and cinnamon, and more.

12. Popcorn

This is similar to rice cakes in that you can eat a lot of popcorn for not very many carbs. I made mine fresh in a pot and added cinnamon, paprika, himalayan salt and natvia brown sugar. It was delicious.

13. Cacao powder

Pure cacao powder is amazing as a treat, especially if it is cold. I used 1tsp with 1tsp Natvia brown sugar, boiling water and a little milk for a hot chocolate treat. You can also mix it into oats when you are really craving chocolate, and if you want even more chocolate add a square of dark choc as well.

Other honorable mentions; 

  • Powdered peanut butter (I like YUM Natural best)
  • Avalanche hot drinks (though be careful with your gut here)
  • Sweet teas, or teas you add Natvia to (I like Rooibos)
  • Use spray olive oil to cook with, or on potato, veggies, etc. 
  • Sugar free drinks on occasion

Those are the main tips I have for making a dieting phase easier and more enjoyable! Let me know if you have any of your own that you want to share. 

There is a video version of this too, if you would like to learn more!

Lessons From A 25+ Year Health and Fitness Journey

Lessons From A 25+ Year Health and Fitness Journey

Read time: 10-minute read

I’ve been in the health and fitness game for a long time. I’ve made every mistake, and paid for those mistakes time and time again.

It pains me to see everyone making those same mistakes, as there is so much ‘new’ information online, and none of it addresses the root of what it takes to sustain a healthy lifestyle in the long term.

In this post I have reflected on this, so here 10 of my top lessons from my 25 year journey. 

1. Emotional Regulation should be your number one priority

It starts in the mind (which stems from the BODY), so you can’t be healthy if your mind-body isn’t aligned ⁠

This is first because this is KEY. I learned this after many years of perfect eating and training, when I developed chronic fatigue. As I explored the mechanisms behind this illness I learned of how dysregulated my nervous system was, and it was this dysregulation that led to my condition.

I already had depression, anxiety, ADD, and PTSD diagnosis, but because I was so removed from my body, it didn’t click until I was physically unable to function. 

What does this look like?

  • Learning to feel into the body
  • Healing and or facing childhood trauma
  • Asking questions about your uncomfortable emotions
  • Seeing a therapist if you need to
  • Taking time to reassess your job, relationships and life choices. 

These things aren’t easy, they’re a journey, but I can assure you there is freedom (and better results in all life pursuits) if this one is explored in its entirety.

2. It’s a PROCESS. No one masters the habits overnight.

We all fall backward and have to jump back on the wagon again. ⁠

Rome wasn’t built in a day! Along your journey there will be setbacks, as it is impossible to just ‘decide’ to change and have no problems. Think of change like an onion, as you peel back one layer another appears.

So you start eating better, now you have less inflammation and more clarity to see the waves in your emotional state or those things that trigger it. When you’re triggered, you may spiral back to old habits in order to regulate yourself. In noting that, you need to develop a new habit to regulate, rather than leaning on those things you’re trying to quit – cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, etc.

Be patient with yourself and think of it like you’re going on a quest, and on this quest you want to uncover all those things that are holding you back from your dreams, and work through them one by one. As you do this, work to be happy and grateful for what you already have, and this takes the pressure off!.

3. We all have different needs and genetic capabilities – learn yours. 

This is KEY! We all have different muscle shapes, strength capacity, waist size, abdominal shapes, body fat storage limitations, sensitivities, and histories. Your past will influence your present, which is why the first point is so important.

If you’re wanting to change your body, then knowing those who excel in physical endeavors are built differently. They most likely don’t share your story. They most likely have more responsive bodies, lower body fat set-points, a faster metabolism and better levers for lifting. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else but your own. 

4. Nutrition is the number one variable you can control (in a sea of environmental toxicity – so start there)

If you don’t eat well, you really have no chance. There is no other way to say it! We are all impacted by our environment, epigenetic suggests up to 95% of our health outcomes are related to just that. It’s hard to avoid pharmaceuticals, petrol fumes, and some of us have high levels of emotional or psychological stress, but we can all control our diet.

This means; low refined sugar, no seed oils, no fried foods, no trans fats. It’s not that hard to do, but it’s hard to accept as those foods are SO addictive. So, start in the kitchen!

5. Weight training has positive carryover into ALL aspects of life

Weight training is beneficial for; 

  • Bone density
  • Injury prevention
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Mental health
  • Strength levels
  • Sports performance
  • Hormone function
  • Nutrient uptake

And, it can make your body more resilient. When you train well, the nervous system upregulates and has to return to normal again. The more you do this, the more it can stretch, the more you can take on in your everyday life. 

6. Being lean is NOT where the happiness lies

I have been shredded three times. The first time I was miserable as I had major body image issues and I had hedged all my bets on being lean. When I arrived there, I was more disappointed than I had ever been. The next time it was a little better, and the last time I was well aware that it was for the sport and the enjoyment, and so it was great, but I would never choose to live that lifestyle in order to stay lean, as the sacrifices I had to make were too high. Same goes for you!

7. It’s important to identify what you’re willing to do and how you want to live, and weigh that up against how you want to look.

And then, you want to work on accepting how you look. 

⁠How you look is largely genetic, and most people won’t tell you this. This means you won’t buy their programs or sign up to their weight loss diets. I tell my clients this, they understand what is realistic for them and what it takes to achieve the body they desire to have.

For me personally, this means being around 70-73kg, I have a nice shape, but I have no real visible muscle despite when I am lean looking very muscular. After a lifetime of chronic dieting and stress, I have to accept that this is what my body considers to be safe.

So ask yourself, what about this weight is safe for me? If there are realistic changes you can make to be healthier, then it’s likely you will lose weight as you make those changes. If you’re already living a truly healthy lifestyle, then understanding any further leanness you may achieve will not necessarily stick around.

Keep in mind also, that obesity is never safe for the body. Our bodies carry healthy amounts of body fat, but this is never in excessive amounts.

8. Community is essential – you need to have a safe people in your corner.

No-one can make it on their own!⁠

If you don’t have people in your corner cheering you on, it will be hard to change. I have experienced both sides, where I had friends that were not egging me on at all, in fact behind my back hoping I would fail. This means that when I would change, I would feel disconnected and with that disconnection came me ditching my efforts in an attempt to fit back in again. 

Recognise that good connections are people who; 

  • Support you
  • Listen to you
  • Compromise with you
  • Don’t need to be right all the time
  • Ask you how it’s going
  • Point out positive changes in you

They are not people who criticise, put negative ideas in your head or hold you back.  

9. SAFETY is needed for any lasting change.

Safety for me is something I only learned in 2022 as I heal my childhood trauma. I had no idea I didn’t have safety, and no idea how to recognise it.

SO this what safety is, for anyone who doesn’t know; 

  • It is having non-judgmental people in your corner
  • It’s being able to speak your mind without fear of negative consequences
  • It’s people who have a genuine interest in your life
  • People who can be present for you 

If you feel you lack safety, then this is where I would start! Seek out a therapist as this can be a great way of learning what safety feels like, and I’ll give you a tip, it feels strange but also very right to your nervous system.

You may have heard me talking about this alot of late, particularly as it relates to weight loss. Safety is key for any physical goal, as without safety we have chronic stress, and in chronic stress the body is surviving, not thriving, and you can’t achieve things that your body deems unnecessary when it is simply trying to keep you alive!

10. Your needs will change with each phase of life.

One minute it feels important to be skinny, the next it’s important to be strong, then suddenly we care more for mobility. Ride the waves and don’t judge your earlier choices as you occupy new spaces. ⁠

Changing your preferences is normal, and it’s important to embrace this and not fight against it. I see really often people posting about how they once cared about how they looked, but now they don’t, but rather than sharing in an empowering way, they’re mocking the girl who thought weight loss would make her happy.

Weight loss doesn’t make you happy, but your belief in that was your only hope for safety in that phase of your life. What you did in the past was what you did to survive. There are no right or wrong things to do if they lead you to your best life.

I have done; 

  • Cardio and fun runs
  • Weight training and bodybuilding
  • Powerlifting
  • Strongman
  • Walking only while I had chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Back to bodybuilding
  • Now back to walking only really light training as my body recovers through trauma therapy 

I have resistance every time I can’t weight train, as it is my preference but at the same time i have to ride those waves – if the body doesn’t want to do it, then I need to give it a rest. My point here is, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ exercise routine, food, training style or phase to be in. Do what your body can do at the time.

So those are my top 10 tips for you! I hope you gained some new insight.

There is a video version of this too, if you would like to learn more!

Why it’s Hard to Lose Fat with an Unhealthy Metabolism (and How to Fix it)

Why it’s Hard to Lose Fat with an Unhealthy Metabolism (and How to Fix it)


Read time: 4 minute read

Often women want to diet without understanding the key driver in this process – metabolism. So let’s start there. 

Metabolism as it pertains to body composition refers to the amount of calories or kilojoules we require on a daily basis to carry out basic functions. We all have a baseline metabolism, which us professionals refer to as our Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR for short. 

This metabolic rate keeps our heart beating, digestion firing, brain functioning, and moves our bodies from the bed to the couch. The more movement we have in our daily lives, the higher this metabolic requirement is going to be. 

For a 65kg person, the average BMR is around 1500 calories per day. This is assuming that the person is not doing anything. This is the amount of food required to survive. As you add activity, you require more food to survive.

When it comes to fat loss, it’s important to understand that metabolism is highly adaptive, and it can lower with excessive dieting or stress. If you eat too few calories for a long time, your metabolism will simply adapt to that – it will lower the speed in which you do things – movement, thoughts, motivation, digestion, in order to keep you alive. 

It is a gradual process and you will likely not even recognise that it is happening. We see this in competition preparation a lot – slow movements, slurred speech, and obsessions about food. We want to stay shredded but would literally die if we tried.

Now we get to the issue of body-fat

Subcutaneous body fat, which is the fat you can see under your skin, is not a direct threat to your survival. This is particularly true when it’s in moderate amounts. However, we often feel that those healthy, moderate amounts of body fat are too high by society’s beauty standards.

We feel uncomfortable, left out of fashionable movements, and sometimes a little gross. We want to be lean, light and fast, without any bulging bits. What is wrong with that!?

Moving beyond that fat you can see, we have visceral fat, which hugs our internal organs.This is unhealthy, and associated with drinking alcohol, and eating refined sugar and fried food. As this is a threat to our survival, the body will lose this first

Often people start dieting and they feel better but look the same, this is because this fat is breaking down first. We get frustrated here, and quit the diet, blowing out on junk because ‘what’s the point!?’ It hasn’t even had a chance to get to your ‘other’ fat yet, the fat you hate so much.

So we have visceral fat that your body wants to lose, and subcutaneous fat that it doesn’t care about.

Then we have the issue of losing weight when you’re overweight, vs losing weight when you’re a healthy weight. 

Unhealthy and burdensome body fat levels are easy to lose, with simple caloric reduction or increased movement. Even switching out the sugar, vegetable oils and alcohol will help, short of even worrying about your calories. 

This is because in order to reach a particular level of unhealthy body fat or obesity, excess caloric consumption needs to be there, along with high stress levels, impaired sleep, low movement and a high level of inflammation. Often the gut is impaired here too. 

In this case of unhealthy levels of fat, and particularly visceral fat, losing weight is actually important for the health of the organism, so there isn’t really a ‘wrong’ way to go about a diet. The body will feel happier if you lower its toxic load, take it for a walk, or diet. The fat on your body will replace the calories you stop consuming, and use those for fuel instead. 

If you’re a healthy body weight with a relatively healthy diet, then changing your body composition becomes somewhat of a scientific process. Lowering calories will not just ensure you lose body fat, as your body doesn’t want to lose that fat.

If you have a history of dieting, and you are constantly trying to limit food intake so no ‘not gain weight’, then your body will have adapted to a dismal calorie level in order to survive. 

In this scenario if you choose to diet, it looks like this; your metabolic rate is already low, and your body doesn’t consider that to be healthy. You cut the calories lower, below what you need to survive, and the body, rather than losing that body fat you don’t like (but which your body does like), it increases cortisol (stress hormone), lowers energy expenditure, holds on to bodyfat, and in more serious cases where your willpower supersedes this survival mechanism, it starts to add more fat cells, in preparation for that time that you do decide to eat again. 

So in summary, if you’re unhealthy weight, dieting will not add to stress, it will reduce it. If you’re a healthy body weight, then dieting is more likely to add stress to the body. 

Now we get to the (unpopular) solution…

To lose body fat in this circumstance, the only option you have is to increase caloric consumption for as long as needed in order to return the metabolic rate to a healthy place. Once it has adapted to higher calories, you can then lower them in order to stimulate fat loss. 

Just as a metabolism downregulates when calories are chronically low, it will upregulate when calories are becoming chronically higher (to a point, as once over this point we gain body fat). 

Dieting is not simple when you’re a healthy weight, and it’s even less simple when you have been dieting for your whole life. The only solution is to stop dieting and increase your food. 

Remember that as women, our job is to create life, and we need body fat for healthy hormones, and a healthy menstrual cycle. The body does not care what you look like, it cares if you can carry a healthy baby full term. 

For some women, this body fat level is 18%, but for others it is 30%. For those of us with 30%, this sucks and it often causes us to constantly diet, to no avail. Constant dieting increases the stress in your body, lowers your metabolic rate, and signals to your body that it is in danger, and when in danger, fat loss goes out the window. 

Also note that those bodybuilders you see who look absolutely insane, and diet from year to year have a few things going for them, including genetics, and drugs. Their bodies don’t feel unsafe when they’re leaner, and the drugs override these ‘danger’ signals anyway as they take the woman away from being a woman, and closer to being a man. 

Getting lean as a woman is a much more sensitive process than it is if you’re a man. 

In summary, if you’re an unhealthy weight, any diet will do, as you are decreasing the stress on your body by dieting. The key is to stop dieting and return to higher calories once you’re done. 

If you’re a healthy weight, whether or not it’s a weight you like, then you are increasing the stress on your body by dieting. So your job is to find a way that minimizes this stress, and most often this means you need to take time out to repair your metabolism before you even attempt to lose weight. 

If you don’t repair your metabolism, and you start dieting from a poor metabolic position, each dieting attempt will just prime your body to store more fat, as the more fat it has, the more fuel it has available for the next famine that comes around. 

Remember your body doesn’t know what you want psychologically or emotionally, it knows what it needs, physiologically. You think you want to fit into your favourite jeans, but your body thinks you’re lost in the jungle with no food in sight – again – and it will hold on to that fuel in order to protect you, and provide essential energy to keep your reproductive capacity alive. 

I hope that helps 🙂 

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Female Training

Jen x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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