Sunday, June 2, 2013

What's Her Secret?

courtesy of Burning It Off

In the diet and fitness world we are bombarded with sensation: lose weight on holidays, get fit in a week, get killer abs in a weekend! There is no end to the ridiculousness of the claims. The sensation is part of the reason I write what I do. It is an industry that feeds on our desperation to be thinner, healthier and have better bodies. Yet anyone who has successfully conquered their weight and can boast a better body (and has had truth serum) will tell you that stories of 'instant' results don't exist. One such success who I did not need to give any truth serum is Christine, author of the blog Burning It Off. It hasn't been a quick journey for Christine nor has it always been an easy one but it has been vehemently honest. If you are a regular visitor to my blog then you will know I love to chat with girls who are have successfully, and on their own terms, won the battle of weight, fitness and body image.

Holly: You got fed up a few years ago and made the commitment to finally get the body you wanted. Looking back where do you think that motivation came from?

Christine: I think it had less to do with motivation and more to do with finally figuring out a weight loss method that actually worked. I tried to lose weight many times in the past and even though I was motivated, I always gave up after a few months because it seemed like my efforts weren’t making any difference – why continue to deprive myself of foods I love and slave away on the treadmill when it wasn’t getting me anywhere? Finding a form of exercise I enjoyed, realising I didn’t have to eat perfectly to lose weight and actually seeing results motivated me to keep going.  

Holly: Congratulations on losing the weight and more importantly finding a way to maintain it. What is the biggest thing you have learned about yourself in the process?

Christine: Thank you! Honestly, I don’t really consider my weight loss a huge accomplishment because I only lost a bit of vanity weight. I am, however, proud of myself for improving my level of fitness as much as I have. Growing up, I never saw myself as an athletic or physically fit person (I used to get winded after a minute or two of light jogging) and didn’t think I had it in me to become one. I’ve learned that I’m tougher and more capable of change than I thought.
Holly: How did you educate yourself on diet and fitness?
Christine: I learned a lot from a friend of mine who’s an athlete and personal trainer. Her key recommendations – count calories and strength train – really worked for me. Beyond that, I read a lot of fitness websites, magazines and a couple of books on the subject. I found Tom Venuto’s Body Fat Solution very helpful starting out – even though he comes from the bodybuilding world, he doesn’t advocate gimmicks or restrictive diets and his advice is pretty straightforward. He also has a lot of helpful chapters on motivation and setting goals.     
Holly: Do you feel external pressure to be thin?

Christine: I think it’s almost impossible not to given how our society reveres thin women. I’d like to say I’m not affected by it, but the truth is, I started eating better and exercising because I wanted to achieve a certain physique, not necessarily because I wanted to become healthier (even though I’ve since come to appreciate the other benefits of healthy living).
Holly: I know you write a blog and have a passion for health, fitness and looking good but do you feel like you spend a healthy amount of time worrying about your looks?

Christine: Today, I would say yes but there was a point when I was so focused on my weight and body composition that it started taking precedence over other areas of my life. It’s not healthy to feel anxious about social events or family gatherings because they might derail your diet or exercise plans for the day. It’s not healthy to spend all day thinking about your next meal or workout. When it gets to that point, you definitely need to take a step back. I’ve thankfully reached a point where I’m no longer obsessed with changing or maintaining my figure. I still enjoy working out and reading about health and fitness but it’s just one of many hobbies that compete for my time and energy and I think that’s how it should be.
Holly: Are there any products you have found particularly helpful during this journey?

Christine: It’s not really a product but I love Les Mills fitness classes. I hated working out before I discovered them but they completely changed the way I felt about exercise. I don’t think I would’ve made it through those early days when I was really out of shape if the classes hadn’t been as fun and welcoming as they are.
Holly: What have you found are your own personal hurdles to achieving your goal?

Christine: Like most people in their 20s, my social life often revolves around food and drink and unfortunately most of what you consume in social settings isn’t the healthiest. I used to deal with it by giving myself one or two cheat meals a week but then I’d often overdo it and spend the rest of the week trying to eat perfectly to compensate. Eliminating 'black or white' thinking has helped a lot – I no longer try to eat perfectly on a day-to-day basis, which makes it far less tempting to go overboard on weekends or special occasions. I still give myself permission to eat whatever I want when I’m out with friends and family but I no longer use that as an excuse to go balls out every time. I’m not perfect at the whole moderation thing but I’m getting better at it.

Holly: What would you say is the most challenging thing about trying to lose and maintain weight?

Christine: I think our whole culture makes it extremely challenging to keep weight off. For the average person, there aren’t many opportunities to be active in a typical day yet food is easily accessible and available in abundance at all times, plus portion sizes are huge. It’s an uphill battle.

Holly: If there were no calories in food what would you eat a lot of?
Christine: Treats! I usually enjoy a small serving of chocolate everyday but in an imaginary world where calories and nutrients don’t exist, sugar would be the mainstay of my diet. 
Holly: How important do you think calorie counting is to losing weight? Is it 100% necessary?

Christine: No but it is necessary to create a caloric deficit that’s big enough to result in weight loss yet not so big that you’re under eating. If you’re able to find that sweet spot without counting calories – say by listening to your hunger cues or making small tweaks to your daily eating habits – that’s great. For me, it was and continues to be helpful to know how many calories I need in a day and approximately how much food that amounts to. If I stick to that ballpark figure most days, I find it’s pretty easy to maintain my weight without being too uptight about what I’m eating. Ultimately though, you have to do what works for you and for some people, calorie counting is too time consuming.  
Holly: If you could give someone wanting to lose weight and change their body one piece of advice what would you tell them?

Christine: The most effective weight loss method is one you can happily stick to for life. If what you’re doing is making you miserable, anxious or obsessive, change it up – being skinny at the expense of your quality of life is not worth it and you probably won’t be able to maintain it in the long term. You have to find a way to eat healthy and exercise that’s compatible with your own personal preferences, goals and lifestyle. Consistency is key when it comes to weight loss and it’s hard to be consistent when you’re in a constant state of stress and deprivation. Don’t get too caught up in the latest diet and exercise fads because the ‘experts’ seem to change their minds every week. Instead, determine what works for you and stick to it.  

The lovely, fit and real Christine!

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