By Guest Blogger Paula Jager, CSCS
One morning mid February I had an urge to try on my bathing suit–I don’t know why I just did. Most likely because it had been cold, spring was around the corner and I had been hiding out in my sweats enjoying mass quantities of comfort foods.
I didn’t gain much weight–the scale could not be right! If I had gained it had to be muscle. Well, I put on that swimsuit, grabbed a mirror and checked my rear. I almost threw up, that could not possibly be my body looking back at me. What in the world had happened?
Here I am a CSCS and owner of a fitness facility that eats “right” and exercises year round. I am passionate in my efforts as well as my nature. I practically get on a pulpit and shout it from afar. How in the world could I have gained 11 pounds? And 9 ½ of it was in my rear–that’s pure genetics there. Could it be my age, I am 51? Could it be because I am post menopausal? I had always had older friends tell me about the “inevitable weight gain around the middle” at that stage in life to which in my “youth” I always replied “it’s what you eat and whether or not you move your arse”. I was the heaviest I had ever been in my entire life at 126 lbs and 19% body fat and had a roll around the middle. Could I possibly have been wrong? Does the body change? Well of course it changes as we age but was it really out of my control? I decided to test my hypothesis and treat myself as if I were a client. . .
I first ask a client what they are trying to accomplish–what their goals are. For in order to evoke change one must have goals, they must be measurable and you must have a strategy or plan. My goal is to reach 115 lbs and approximately 12% body fat by May 22nd. My start date was March 15th of which the first 12 days were a raw milk fast to cleanse and detoxify the body.
I next ask a client to give me a food log; I must know what they are taking in before I can help them. So, for 3 solid weeks I logged everything I ate in www.fitday.com (an excellent free online diet journal) to see where I was. I changed not a thing as I wanted an honest assessment of what I had been consuming. Now mind you, I eat healthy, healthier than 95% of the people in this nation I would guesstimate. It is a priority in my life; for how I feel, for my health and energy levels and around this time of the year for how I look. It is my job and my life. I will give you keeping a food log is tedious, time consuming and not something I would do long term or for more than the duration of an occasional reality check. However, if I do not know what I am consuming and in what amounts I will not know what I need to change.
Here’s what I found. . .
The macronutrient ratios were near ideal: about 21% protein, 19% carbs and 60% fat on average. The foods were all from quality sources and home cooked. But my average daily caloric intake based on 2/19 — 3/10 was 2400 calories a day and my “indulgences” were averaging 2-3x a week coming from homemade ice cream, 70% organic cacao bars and grits. So maybe that’s why all that junk was in my trunk?
Based on the 3 week food log that I kept in Fit Day, eating as I had been all winter – I am surprised! Yet the answer is clear and I now know what to change. Most importantly, I have a plan. . .
Stay tuned for Part 2–where I am 5 weeks later and how I got there. . .
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar.
Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results
Sometimes, no matter how healthy you think you’re eating, a personal preference can cause problems. My downfall was peanut butter. Too much omega-6. Google “Omega-6: Friend of Foe” and “Omega-6 Me” and “Your Brain on omega-3” to learn more.
Hey, Paula. I love you! You are so real, and I appreciate your sharing. I look to people like you to stay fit and healthy and glad to see you are not perfect either! Your commitment to get back on track is downright encouraging!
I am post-menopausal – 67 years old, and feel great. I don’t exercise as much as I would like, but I do stay active. I was skinny all my life until I approached menopause AND started a desk job. Gained 60 pounds which came with deteriorating health problems. This was a big wake-up call for me. I decided not to go the doctor/medical route, but to change eating and exercise habits – the result is that I lost all those 60 pounds, and I am now healthy, strong, have no pains or chronic problems. That was several years ago and I will never go back. I do notice I cannot eat as much as I used to, so I try to eat nutrient dense foods and still realize that my intake must be controlled. Too many calories will put on the pounds.
Will be watching your progress with great interest – the best to you!
Thank you Joy and good for you! I love hearing real stories like that where people take their health into their own hands and make their life better. It sounds like you are doing many things right and and you’re setting an excellent example for us women as we age.
I agree with Marta. I have often felt “shamed” by comments of someone who harshly critiques their body publicly; and is more fit, and slimmer than I am. I am sure it is not intentional to make people feel that way; I guess most people don’t realize that if you talk like that about your own body, it sounds like you are saying the same thing about other people who have similar, or larger bodies, and body parts.
From Sarah’s comment, it sounds like you are succeeding in your goal, great job! I hope you achieve the results you desire.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
I agree Carrie. I find Paula an inspiration and if she wants to be as fit as she can be .. more power to her! 🙂
I just want to say that I just turned 30 and I don’t look anything as good as you look on this picture! So, I feel really embarassed, guess it’s supposed to be easy at my age to stay in shape? Anyway, I’m working on my diet, so it is encouraging to see everyone’s comments on this.
Marta, I’m 25 and let me tell you that weight loss can be difficult at any age! Biologically, it’s usually very easy to put on weight and much more difficult to take it off. The body is simply engineered to allow fat to be stored easily, but it will also put into place metabolic mechanisms that make it hard to lose stored body fat. Some folks have metabolisms that resist putting on weight, but this is the exception to the rule. For most folks, putting on weight is far easier than taking it off.
But I also feel for you in that it can be very insulting to see women berate their bodies because of an extra 10-20 lbs, especially if you have much more than that you’d like to lose. This is why I feel women of all sizes need to learn to accept their bodies regardless of whether they’re at their “ideal” weight.
It’s okay to have a weight goal. But it’s not okay to be repulsed by your body just because you’re not currently at that goal.
No one is “berating” their bodies here, my intention was never to insult and I am not “repulsed” in the least by my body. I am in the fitness business, it is my life and passion. I know where I have been and I know where I can be. Eating correctly and exercised has delivered from a place in my misguided youth that I never wish to revisit. It is merely my personal preference to be leaner in the summer and feel this good about myself. I encourage both women and men of all shapes and sizes to achieve a balance in their life and a weight that is maintainable and healthy for each individual based on their goals, genetics and lifestyle.
But I will tell you this, what you eat is a big, big part of it and in our 2 fat loss challenges this year well over 450 lbs have been lost by about 38 people that have transformed themselves. Most people are eating too much, the wrong things and improper macronutrient ratios and a few are not not eating enough. I changed nothing but my nutrition and the weight came right off, exercise remaimed the same.
Paula, I had a feeling that you didn’t intend those comments to be taken seriously. But the fact is that when you’re pictured pinching your stomach fat and saying you felt like throwing up when you looked in the mirror, well… I’m not sure how that is not berating yourself–even if it was all in fun.
I feel the need to speak up because we women tend to commiserate over weight issues and allow for an environment where it’s acceptable to insult our bodies, all in the name of relating to each other. I’m not trying to single you out–pretty much of all of us do this at times! It’s the social norm in our culture. But that doesn’t make it right.
For the record, I did not mean to infer that weight loss is impossible or complicated. I simply mean that for most folks it’s much easier to put weight on than take it off, and that there are biological reasons for this.
All in fun, but I can see how it could have been taken wrong. It was definitely a lot more fun to eat my way to that size over the winter than it has been to lose the weight!
I think you look fantastic all ready. I would love to be your before picture. And your “belly roll” looks like you are pinching skin. You look at least 10 or more years younger than you are. You think your behind looks big? Sometimes I think woman forget they are suppose to have some curves and have been sold a bill of goods. I don’t really understand all the fuss.
JL goes Vegan
You look great now! So I’m anxious to see what you look like “after.”
I’m perimenopausal and I can no longer “drop the pounds” like I used to. And I’m active (I run half-marathons and triathlons. This winter when I saw the same 10 pounds come back, I decided to keep them. I’m nearly 46. I refuse to continue spending January – October “dieting” (even while working out like mad I had to “diet”!) and then yo-yo. I look fine with 10 extra pounds, I just needed to buy bigger clothes. I’m no longer chasing skinny. Healthy and round is a-okay with me.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Hi JL .. are you vegan (I’m assuming so from the name of your blog. I used to carry around 10-15 lbs when I ate little to no animal fats back in my 20’s (before kids no less). I now maintain my weight easily eating 50-60% fats (mostly butter, cream, eggs, fat from grassfed meats). Eating lots of grain based carbs and starchy beans as in a vegan diet makes taking weight off especially hard as it kills the adrenals.
Thank you JL and ditto on what Sarah said. In my early 40’s I followed a pesce vegetarian diet and did a lot of aerobic exercise. I was soft, fatigued, irritable and had adrenal issues. Changing my nutrition, performing mostly weight training and sprints turned everything around.
JL goes Vegan
I’ve been yo-yo-ing with 10 pounds for six years. I’ve been vegan for one year. It’s not about being vegan, it’s about choosing to quick chasing skinny. I’m a rounder person, size 6 (formerly size 2 -4) but I don’t care. I eat a compassionate, super healthy diet (I work with a nutrition counselor) and I’ve finally decided to be content with a pooch, instead of six pack abs. I don’t need them. I look good the way I am.
JL goes Vegan
quick = quit 🙂
Thanks JL and ditto to what Sarah said. In my early 40’s I was a pesce vegetarian doing a lot of aerobic training. I was soft, fatigued, irritable and had adrenal issues. By switching to a Primal/WAPF diet, doing mainly weight training and sprints I turned it all around.
It can definitely be hard to look in the mirror and not see what you want to see. I’m sure most of us have been there (I know I have!). But you have to draw the line when it comes to how this affects you emotionally. Being revolted by your body isn’t healthy on any level–whether you feel you have 10 lbs to lose or 100 lbs to lose. There’s nothing wrong with having fitness goals or wanting to fit into a smaller pair of jeans, but there’s a fine line between self-improvement and self-loathing. One can be helpful if approached with an attitude of balance, acceptance and patience, while the other is emotionally destructive.
That was merely a figure of speech to show my surprise at the change over the winter. I can assure you there is no “self loathing” going on and my emotional state has been one of calm confidence and peace after switching to a Primal/WAPF diet some 5 years back.
I’m glad to hear that, Paula. I honestly figured that was the case.
Weight gain in menopause or not is the food; I’m convinced. I am a 62 year old woman, eat real food mostly in accordance with WAPF, exercise, but not fanatically, walk, go to Curves, play old lady doubles tennis and do some yoga but no Boot Camp regime at my age! I am not over weight, nor is my husband who eats what I give him, he’s actually lost 20 pounds in the past two years eating my way. I’d say 80-90% of our diet is real foods and we slip into not so real food if we eat out. Anyway, after surgery 6 months ago and not being able to exercise for weeks, I thought I’d gain weight….NOT ONE POUND, so I thought, “Hmmm, it is the food.” Then I was sidelined with a nasty virus, yes even WAPF people get sick some times, and couldn’t really exercise for one month, again, no weight gain at all, so I say it’s the kind of food you eat. I also can be exercising daily, be on vacation and eating out, and gain up to 7 pounds in less than a week! When I get home, get back on real nourishing foods, I drop the weight in less than a week. Gotta be the food folks! So, just eat REAL food, not too much and move your body in ways you enjoy daily.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Hi Mikki, I would have to agree with you there. I am not menopausal but am almost 47 and am the same weight as the day I graduated high school even after 3 kids. I started exercising again 2 weeks ago after doing nothing (except yard work) for 3 months as I’ve been so busy .. weighed myself and hadn’t changed my weight at all.
More surprisingly, I went to my first power yoga class after this layoff and felt very strong and did the class surprisinly well. Wasn’t even sore. Real Food really keeps you in shape even if you can’t work out that much. Then again, I rarely if ever overeat and don’t snack at night (thanks to my Mom for rarely allowing me to eat after dinner when I was young .. such a great lifelong habit).
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
I think she already looks pretty good myself! I saw her in the healthfood store the other day though in her workout gear. She is going to wow everyone with her after pix.
Best of luck in making your goal in a few weeks. But don’t forget the upside of carrying that extra 11 lbs – You have been making all of those pullups much harder (so you are probably stronger) 🙂
Lol. My strength did increase over the winter, I’ll give you that. At 117.5 on Thursday I knocked out 5 sets of 20 pull ups. Must have been that extra load I was carrying:)