Why do you gain weight

Besides the well-known reason – you eat more calories than you spend, there are quite a few reasons to why you may not be losing the weight.

1. Stress
During stressful times our bodies produce more of a stress hormone – cortisol. Chronically high levels of which lead to a lot of dis-balance. But even relatively short spikes of cortisol will affect water balance in the body. Higher cortisol levels = water retention.

2. Increase in carbs
Each gram of carbohydrate attracts up to 3g of water. So if one day you ate more carbs than usual, you sure will see it on the scale.

3. Water intake
Our bodies regulate water and sodium balance by different mechanisms. Diuretic hormone vasopressin and anti-diuretic hormone ADH are largely responsible for the water balance in your body. Every time you change your water intake your body needs time to adjust. Let’s say you drink 1 gallon of water a day on regular basis. If on one of the days you drink 2 or 3 gallons you will notice weight gain next morning because your body didn’t have time to catch up with the new water intake amount.

4. Salt intake
Similar to the water balance, the amount of salt in bodily fluids is also tightly regulated. Variation in salt intake causes cells to either shrink or swell by attracting more or less water.
Food in restaurants tends to have more flavor and salt than the one we eat at home. So often, even if you eating out meal was a good healthy option, you will see an increase in your body weight the next morning.

5. GI problems
Any kind of GI problems, like diarrhea or constipation, will cause weight fluctuations due to the constant salt and water balance change.

6. Weighing at different times/conditions
This one seems obvious, but yet… Weighing yourself first thing in the morning will always yell different results from the weight you see during the day or in the evening due to the food and fluid intake. To get the most accurate measurement, ensure you are weighing yourself in similar conditions every time.

There are a lot more reasons to why your weight can fluctuate on a day to day basis and that is exactly why weight should be used only as a tool. For the more accurate progress measurement include circumference of your waist, navel, and hips. Measuring once a week or every other week will give a good idea on whether you are moving in the right direction.

Stay fit,

GymKat 🙂

Holidays Diet

Holidays tend to test even the seasoned dieters and I have to admit, it can be tricky to stay on track if you celebrate your holidays with a family or a large group of people. So today, I would like to share my take on it and give you some tips.

  1. Remember your goal

Most trainers and people around you will tell you that it’s O.K. To “live a little” and “indulge here and there”, but I am here to remind you that YOUR GOALS HAVE VALUE AND A PRICE. I strongly believe that we have to remember our promises we gave to ourselves and the reason why we started the journey. Diet will always be associated with a punishment if you don’t turn into a lifestyle. And the only way to achieve that is to remind yourself that food will always be there and that holidays are there to celebrate occasions with family and friends. Holidays are about creating beautiful memories and food choices should be made based on your goals.

  1. Be mindful and slow down

The holiday table is full of delicious food and loud conversations. Talking while eating doesn’t let your brain focus on the food and that’s why very often we realize we overate only after the dinner is over. So pay attention to your food, savor the flavor and portion control.

  1. Eat a small healthy meal before going to dinner

This trick works every time. Eat something healthy before you go to dinner. This way you will be less likely to over-indulge in foods that are not so good for you.  

  1. Start with best-for-you offerings first

Veggies, soups, salads are great to start with. They take up space in your stomach and fill you up with fiber (or water in case of a soup).

  1. Bring your own

Bring a healthy dish with you, this way you contribute to the gathering and also have something healthy to eat yourself. And in case you don’t know how to make a healthy version of staple dishes, here is a recipe of a low carb stuffing.

Low carb bread

  • 100g almond flour
  • 80g coconut flour
  • 30g chia seeds
  • 7 eggs
  • 80g butter (melted)
  • 3 Tbsp heavy whip cream
  • 1/4 tsp dry garlic
  • 1/4 tsp dry onion
  • 1/4 seasoning of your choice
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F and oil the bread loaf pan. Misk dry ingredients together first. In a separate bowl wet ingredients and whisk for 2-3 minutes. Add dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir until well combined. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 30-40min or until knife/toothpick comes out clean.

Once done, let the bread cool down a bit and then cut it into cubes.

Stuffing: 

  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1cup chicken or beef broth
  • 6-8  celery sticks, chopped
  • seasoning to taste

In a small saucepan cook all ingredients for 5-8min on a medium heat. In a baking dish add bread cubes, and the cooked veggies, stir and bake for 15-20min at 350F.

Tips: 

  • Heavy cream can be substituted for almond or coconut milk
  • You can use coconut oil or ghee instead of butter
  • If you don’t have chicken broth you can use natural bullion cubes, just make sure to account for the salt content and use a bit less in your bread.
  • I like cheese on everything so I added some to my stuffing, it is totally optional. But who doesn’t like cheese!!

I hope you have a great holiday season this year and create a lot of new memories with your family and friends. Stay healthy and focused on your goals, my friends.

Talk to you soon,

GymKat

Sweet Tooth Cravings

I haven’t met a lot of people who don’t like sweets. In fact, I’ve had a horrible sweet tooth myself, for the most part of my life. Things have changed for me when I switched to a ketogenic diet. It wasn’t an overnight process, though, it took some time, but eventually, I lost my “thing” for sweets. A ketogenic diet is not for everyone, so even if you are on a regular carbohydrate diet there are ways to battle the sweet tooth. Here are some tips:

  1. Clean your palette

From experience and research, we know that a human brain is wired to want/ crave something that we eat on regular basis. The tastier is your food – the more you want it. Sometimes, in order to stop craving different foods, including sweets, all you need to do is to clean the palette. Sweet foods also tend to be the most calorie dense, which is a plus from an evolutionary perspective but a big problem if you are trying to lose body fat. So when you remove all sweet products for some time, your brain literally forgets the taste of it and no longer craves it. The period of time will depend on the individual. In general, I would say 15-30 days would do the trick.

The trick here, however, is to remember is that this process is NOT a punishment and that you CAN, in fact, eat the sweets, you just CHOSE NOT to. If your mental state is not on point, you are risking falling off the wagon and binging.

  1. Find a substitute

One of my favorite tricks is to eat something salty or spicy when I crave something sweet. It totally confuses the brain and kills the craving. Give it a try!

  1. Emotional Dependence

Comfort Food” can take different shapes. Some love pizza, some pasta and some devour a pint of ice cream in one seating. Many people use comfort foods, alcohol, and drugs as a way to relieve emotional discomfort. The key to battling the problem is, first of all, to recognize the problem, and then find a substitute. Make a conscious choice to do something not related to food when you are under stress or other emotional problem. YOU have the power to change the outcome by changing your actions – one at a time.

  1. Your diet is not balanced

It doesn’t matter if you are on a ketogenic diet or on a regular carbohydrate diet, if it is not structured properly you will crave “something tasty”. To balance it out, make sure to eat enough protein and fibrous veggies. This will keep you full for a while and provide you with all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Only then, add your carbs (if you are on a regular diet) and make sure that at least 80% of your daily carb intake comes from whole food sources (rice, potato, beans, etc.). Last, add fats to fill up the remainder of your caloric needs.

Of course, there could be more reasons for your cravings but these are the most common. That’s why it is important to have an individualized approach to the diet and exercise program.

Stay healthy and fit,

GymKat

Postpartum Fitness – What Are We Missing?

Social media is saturated with images of fitness models that pride themselves on “getting their bodies back” (as if there is such thing), along with the fitness centers and boot camps that encourage you to try their “magic formula”. Being a Mom is hard. Lack of sleep, never-ending stress and responsibilities, and now, added pressure from the society that tells you “being a mom is not an excuse to be out of shape”. While it is true, it also creates a sense of urgency and a requirement for the moms to look a certain way and get that perfect body FAST.

So what SHOULD we do? Should we, women, be concerned with the “fast track to better body” or should we rather be concerned with the safe and proper way of getting a NEW, STRONGER and HEALTHIER one?

Let me start by stating one simple truth: during pregnancy, our bodies change dramatically. Once the baby is born our bodies never come back to what they used to be. POSTPARTUM IS FOREVER. It doesn’t matter if you had your baby 1 month ago or 15 years ago – you always be a postpartum athlete.

That doesn’t mean that you will never be able to get in a better shape than before the pregnancy, or that you cannot be stronger or leaner. No, not at all! Of course, YOU CAN achieve anything you put your mind to (there are plenty of examples of women that have done that). Rather, what it means is that we need to learn how to be patient with our bodies postpartum and ourselves, how to listen to the NEW body we have after the baby.

Let’s take a look at some symptoms that we should be on the lookout for AT ALL TIMES:

  • Incontinence during any type of activity or at rest

  • Diastasis Recti

  • Organ prolapse

  • Painful intercourse

  • Lack of stability during movements

This is just a short list of very COMMON but NOT normal symptoms that women experience during pregnancy or postpartum. I’ve met a lot of women that have these symptoms YEARS after having their kids and don’t do anything about it simply because they don’t know that IT IS an issue that needs to be taken care of.

I wish there was one size fits all type of workout or advice but unfortunately, there isn’t one. However, there are a few tips I would like to share that can help you become more aware of your body and determine the COURSE OF ACTIONS.

  1. Talk to a pelvic floor physical therapist

Even if you have any of these symptoms years after having your kids you can still see pelvic floor specialist that can help you understand what is going on and help you adjust your fitness routine. Even if your insurance doesn’t cover it, realize, one visit will give you a lot of valuable information.

  1. There is no rush

While it is tempting to get started with a strict workout regimen and diet in an attempt to get leaner and fitter as fast as possible, the INITIAL FOCUS should always be on RESTORING and REBUILDING. There is no right or wrong timeline, each person is different. Some of us will need just a few months to recover and rebuild, while others may require a couple of years. Either way, it all should happen on YOUR terms.

  1. Work with the specialist

Work with a personal trainer and/or physical therapist that have knowledge and expertise in this specific field. Working with people that know what they are doing, is a crucial part of the process. Note, that each professional works in his/her scope of practice. Your doctor is not there to prescribe you a corrective exercise program, a physical therapist is not there to build a workout routine for your or motivate you, and a personal trainer is not there to rehab you. The more eyes you have on you during this chapter of your life, the better and faster results you are going to see.

  1. It is SERIOUS but it’s NOT the end of the world

If you experience any symptoms postpartum please, don’t feel like it’s the end of the world. Pain and discomfort are NOT the enemies, they are SIGNALS telling us that something needs to change. There are only two mistakes you can make in this situation:

  • Ignore the signs and continue your normal routine through pain and discomfort; OR

  • Panic and get discouraged

Almost any issue that arises with pregnancy is fixable with the right approach. But in order for that to happen, you have to listen to what your body is telling you and take an action.

I hope this post brings attention to the importance of understanding the pregnancy and postpartum athleticism. If you feel like you need to get some help with getting started but don’t know where, let me know, and I’ll do my best

Stay strong and beautiful,

GymKat

7 Habits for a Better Sleep

We all know that for optimal health and performance we should sleep at least 7-8 hours a night. And of course, most of us have a hard time getting to this number. That being said, the quality of your sleep is often more important than the duration. In this post, I’m going to go over some tips that will help you improve the quality of your resting time and help you recover better.

1. Find your perfect bedtime and try to stick with it

Try going to bed and wake up at the same time. Your body has a natural clock and it does like discipline. Try not to sleep in on your days off either unless absolutely necessary.

I know, it’s not always possible especially if you work night shifts or have a schedule that changes every week. So let’s move on to the next one

2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol at least 5 hours before going to bed

This one seems obvious but often overlooked. Sometimes we get too busy and run on coffee and energy drinks and don’t think about time. Alcohol buzz may feel like a way to relax but it actually disrupts your sleep.

3. Create a perfect environment

Your room should be cool, dark, quiet and clean. Your bed should feel like heaven.

4. Avoid big meals right before bed

Eating before bed, in general, is not a bad thing, but if you have a big meal it can disrupt your sleep because your body is focused on digestion rather than rest.

5. Avoid electronics

Playing with your phone or pad doesn’t help you to relax, as LED lights trick your brain into thinking it’s still activity time.  If you feel like you need extra activity before bed, try reading a book.

6. 20 min rule

If you don’t fall asleep in 15-20min get up and do something quiet, like reading a book, drawing or knitting, until you feel sleepy again. Staying in bed and tossing around just causes more frustration and won’t result in a good rest.

7. Stay active during the day

Needless to say, physical activity is one of the best ways to get some good sleep. Haven’t worked out in a while? Time to introduce regular exercise back into your routine.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Fitness is a Lifestyle

I think it is safe to say that problems are evolutionary drivers and crisis often proceeds a big change. It’s at the moment of the great discomfort we often find a new way that helps us grow.

     In 2012 when I hit the rock bottom with my emotional state, there was a moment when I felt that “enough is enough” and that it was the time to try something that I subconsciously knew could help. I needed to start creating a stronger body, because strong spirit can only reside in a strong house.

     I’ve been a professional athlete for over a decade back in Russia, but with the move, daily problems, new life, and new experiences occupied my mind and I stopped exercising on a regular basis.

     I started going to the gym next to my house. I was training religiously, trying different techniques and programs. I was training 4-6 hours on some days (that’s not a recommendation). Every single day I was showing up and training like my life depended on it, because in some sense of it, it did. When I felt like crying, I pushed myself harder, I ran faster and lifted heavier. Within several weeks I noticed my body starting to change, depression started to ease, problems were not that tragic and that future was actually more exciting than what I originally thought.

     Years of unhealthy habits allowed me to forget that overcoming difficulties in a physical state ALWAYS translates  into a stronger spirit and clearer mind. Fitness showed me my strengths and presented me with the opportunity to extend my hand to others, to prove them that they are stronger than they think they are.

     To be the “saving grace” fitness has to become a lifestyle. It has to be something that you crave. You can only crave it when you I’ve gotten the taste of what it can do for you. Give yourself a chance to feel the positive effects of healthy lifestyle and regular exercise. Give it a little time to show you how strong you are. Trust the process – nothing happens overnight! I assure you, the reward is well worth it! 🙂

Stay positive and keep grinding!