You know you are fat (or fatter than you used to be) when your t-shirts don't fit you anymore. Especially when those T-shirts are the body conscious, paper-thin, burnout variety that show every lump and bump.
You know you've gained a couple pounds when your stretch leggings are so snug you are spilling over the top just like the term "muffin top" suggests.
You know something's tipped the scales when your wedding ring is too tight and your once-taut jaw line now slacks with the shadow of a double.
"Fat" means different things to different people. This is not a blog meant to elicit criticism, compliments or beg for attention. This is about feeling comfortable in your own skin and doing something about it when you don't. I've learned both professionally and personally that "comfortable" means different things for different people.
I never judge anyone else's physical or emotional view of themselves or outward manifestation of these ideals. I hold myself to a personal standard that works for me and makes me happy. I never hold anyone else to what I feel is best for me. People look, feel and function at their most beautiful, attractive and healthiest with different outward appearances and inward confidences that make them unique, different and wonderful.
To me and for me, "fat" means a shift in body mass percentage, causing a huge difference in the way my body looks and feels in clothing. I currently weigh in at 128 pounds and about 24 percent body fat – about 10 pounds heavier and six percent more body fat than I personally am "comfortable" at.
A wonky thyroid is partially to blame (I had very foolishly experimented with swapping out my prescription meds for my genetic hypothyroidism with a "natural" supplement), but it was my work schedule March through August that caused a change in my lifestyle that included losing my "me" time for fitness and the discipline over the food I ate.
And let me tell you. I enjoyed it. A lot. But, only for a little while. Soon, I just started to feel sluggish and out of shape. I felt winded walking the dog, going up a flight of steps fatigued my legs and even housework felt "hard." Nothing tasted good to me anymore. The mindless indulgence had caught up with my taste buds and I had become numb.
Since September, I've sort of gotten back into the workout groove and intermittently practiced better nutrition, but nothing has really gotten me results.
And then it hit me.
I pulled a favorite tee out of the drawer and I struggled to pull it over my soft shoulders and padded middle.
Once squeezed in I gazed at my image in the full-length mirror.
WHO is that?
This cannot go on any longer. I can't be asking myself, "Does this T-shirt make me look fat?" I want to get fitter, not fatter, during this holiday season.
So, I'm starting a new workout program and re-embracing food as fuel.
Yes, the week before Thanksgiving. I know, this is nothing short of psycho. But, with the help of Milwaukee's own superstar trainer BJ Gaddour and the amazing resources he offers, I'll be able to do a variety of his workouts right from home – just the way I like it!
Gaddour was voted one of the 100 Fittest Men of All Time by Men's Heath Magazine, is CEO of StreamFIT, a revolutionary home workout website and (as reported by OnMilwaukee) star of the Men's Health DeltaFit Speed Shred DVD Series, an 82-day workout program based on Gaddour's area of expertise – metabolic training.
Gaddour's training style is personable, charismatic, motivating, detailed, tough and injected with a heavy dose of his sense of humor that really translates through both the StreamFIT and Speed Shred workouts.
The University School grad was kind enough to give me (and YOU) some words of wisdom to get through this holiday season in a different way this year. He speaks my language – a proponent of short, tough workouts and NOT counting calories. I've found my trainer – and he can be yours too! Here's his advice for starting a fitness program, time investment and nutrition.
Lindsay Garric: Where do most people begin? Between StreamFIT and your DVDs, there is so much to choose from! How should people decide on a program and schedule from your offerings that is best for them?
BJ Gaddour: Honestly, it's all over the place on this one. If you prefer to play DVDs, then I'd lean towards MH DeltaFit: Speed Shred. If you would rather stream the workouts, then StreamFIT is your best bet. Both options provide metabolic workouts that will burn fat, boost metabolism, and improve strength and cardio conditioning, so it's really up to the user.
We have some people who use both depending on the situation. For example, sometimes you may end up in a place with no Internet access when traveling, and that's when the DVDs can come in handy.
In addition, some people prefer a real structured plan for x number of days. Men's Health DeltaFit Speed Shred is an 82-day program that tells you exactly what to do each day for the entire program. Though StreamFIT also has training plans that outline your workout schedule in a similar fashion, it has over 170 workout videos to choose from as well. In other words, if you're looking solely for structure, I recommend the DVD set. If you're looking for a little structure and a lot of variety, StreamFIT is your bet.
LG: Time is limited ... especially during the holidays. What's the minimum amount of time per day you recommend for exercise for people to see results – i.e. fat loss, weight loss or muscle gain?
BG: Studies show that it only takes about 10 minutes of high-intensity exercise (like you'll find in DeltaFit and StreamFIT) to get a maximum metabolic boost. In fact, one study showed that the same post-workout after burn (or calorie burn) was found following a 10-minute circuit training workout as in the same circuit training workout done for 30 total minutes (they repeated the circuit two more times in this group.) However, more total calories were burned in the 30-minute group because they exercise three times longer.
The bottom line – 10 minutes of hard exercise is all you need to boost metabolism and increase your daily calorie burning at rest. For best results, shoot for 30 total minutes to burn more calories during your workout and further mitigate the extra carbs and calories that sneak in during the holiday season.
The good news is StreamFIT offers workouts 30 minutes or more plus sizzlers that are all 10 minutes or less, so you can customize your workout based on time available on any given day.
LG: Obviously, nutrition is a huge part of any fitness program. Do I have to count calories?? (UGHHHHH.) What are your general dietary recommendations for people using your workouts who want to lean out/lose body fat – even during the holidays?
BG: I don't really believe counting calories is a good idea. In general, I don't like to recommend anything that isn't sustainable in the long-haul, and frankly I've never known anybody who counts calories day in, day out for more than six months.
Your best bet is to focus on portion sizes and total number of meals per day. First regarding portions, try to get about a fist-sized worth of lean protein (meat, fish, eggs, beans, Greek yogurt) and a serving of produce (fruits and veggies, but more veggies than fruits) at each meal. And get plenty of healthy, natural fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and nut butters, a little dairy fat if you can handle it and the natural fats found in proteins like beef, salmon and whole eggs. Eat as many veggies as you want.
In terms of number of meals per day, ignore what most experts have been saying for the last decade or so about eating six times or more per day. Most people do best with two to three meals per day. Personally, the best plan for me is intermittent fasting (IF), where I only eat during an eight-hour period each day (noon to 8 p.m.). That's right, I skip breakfast, but it doesn't mean you have to – it's just what works for me. IF gives many people more energy while minimizing cravings and curbing hunger. But again, eat two to three times per day focusing on the food choices mentioned previously and you'll be money.
If needed, pick one day per week (ideally one meal per week) where you indulge in some sugars and starches in moderation. But skip this if you want faster results.
I'm so excited I don't have to count calories! YAY!!
I'll be doing the DeltaFit Speed Shred DVD program because I feel I need the structure right now, but I will be supplementing with StreamFIT workouts on days designated for alternate exercise. And I'll for sure be utilizing the StreamFIT "Sizzlers" during travel and time-crunched, holiday-packed days!
Please join me – I'll be using Twitter and Instagram to document my workouts and some of my food. Let's get ripped this winter together!
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