My Top Tips for Fat Loss – Results from the 8 Week Body Fat Challenge

As you may remember I was participating in an 8 week Body Fat Challenge with my training partner, ‘Wayne’.  I was being quite consistent updating the blog with our progress in the challenge (good on me) until Week 6 where I suddenly dropped off the radar.  I’m sorry, the tail end of the challenge coincided with hubby returning to a stint of reverse FIFO work.  Yes we moved to Panna to stop the FIFO lifestyle but somehow we are now living remote and hubby is flying to Perth for work??  Anyway…..the end of the challenge also coincided with 2 study courses that were due around the same time so I was sick of being on the computer.  We did still finish the challenge in style and I will give you a quick run down of the results and all the take home tips that you need to know if you are trying to lose some body fat.

Drum roll please…..from a starting cast of approximately 50 people ‘Wayne’ placed second overall in this challenge.  Wahooo – fantastic effort!! More importantly I think she now believes in her ability to improve her health and fitness.  I think she has made changes that will stick, and I think she may even enjoy her new love of the gym!!

Results

When we have a final look at the numbers you will see that for both of us our weight loss is similar to our % body fat lost which is a good thing.  This means that we can probably assume that the weight we did lose was actually fat and not muscle.  You will often see large weight loss results with smaller % body fat losses as a result of high levels of aerobic training and a significant cut in calories.   This is great for short term success on the scales but is very difficult to maintain over the long term.  Muscle is very hard to gain but has so many benefits for weight loss, injury prevention, and general health that we don’t want to lose it.

Even though my numbers weren’t huge, it is still progress that I am proud of.  I would love to know how many people dropped out of the challenge by the end of the eight weeks as weight loss is a difficult thing to commit to.  To help you out I thought I would put together a list of my top tips for sustainable fat loss.

1.  Find a Training Partner

Just trust me on this one.  Don’t worry about what sex they are, how strong they are, or what shape they are in.  You just want to know that they will turn up regularly, have a laugh with you, and that they are willing to get a little sweaty and pull a few of these faces…

2.  Set some goals that are NOT related to weight loss.

Numbers on a scale are too fickle to be all that you rely on to tell your story and give that all important positive feedback that keeps us going.  By all means track your progress but don’t stress about the weekly numbers too much.  Choose something that you enjoy doing.  Your goals may be to run 3km, climb a mountain, bench press your body weight, or something crazy like complete an Adventurethon!!  Dream them and make them happen……then dream some more.

3.  Build Muscle

This is one of the most beneficial things you can do for lifelong health.  To build muscle you need to lift a load that your body can’t quite cope with, forcing it to recruit more muscle fibres to get the job done.  For those new to lifting I would be aiming to find a weight that you can only just complete 10-12 repetitions.  Aim for 3 sets initially and remember that you may not finish 12 reps every set.  If you are hitting 15 reps the weight is too light.  If you have been strength training for a while then mix up the number of sets.  You might want to try heavier weights, completing 5-6 reps only and doing 8 sets of this.  Variety is the spice of life, so mix it up.  Try drop sets, super sets, eccentric loading, isometric contractions……the choices are endless.

A note to the women – if another female tells me that she doesn’t want to ‘bulk up’ just ‘tone’, I will seriously headbutt them!!  Toning is building muscle!  Often that initial feeling that you are ‘bulking up’ is because you may still be carrying extra fat whether because the diet hasn’t changed or your body hasn’t had the chance to burn through the fat stores.  Give it time.  If in 12 weeks you aren’t convinced that you are feeling the best you have ever felt, then stop doing it.  You will lose that muscle pretty quickly.

Image Credit

4.  Stop Eating Crap.

How well you eat will determine how quickly you achieve your results.  It is easy to think that you have to be on some special diet to lose weight.  The media loves to create hype around certain magic weight loss diets and push all these ‘superfoods’ at us. The truth is if we just made small commitments to eating a healthier diet the results will still come, we would just have to be more patient.  You know, like a lifestyle change, not an 8 week challenge.

5.  Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Research shows that strength training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) appear to be the most effective ways to lose weight and keep it off.  Don’t try and do too much.  I am a chronic over exerciser.  I love to exercise and challenge myself, but the trouble with this is that I do a lot of different training without much of a plan to it.  I love the variety and I enjoy it but it is very difficult to get a handle on what you really need to be eating to satisfy your energy needs when you are exercising like a crazy person and varying it day to day!  From experience, my best success with weight loss is usually when I keep my routine based on strength training.  Generally, I am aim for 4-5 x 45 minute strength sessions a week.  I often throw in optional extras such as a short HIIT session, a jog, and/or a mountain bike ride if my week allows and I am done.  Simple.  Effective.  Realistic.

What have you found to be most effective for your weight loss or health goals?

Weigh Ins and Workouts – Week 4

Hhhhhuuuuuuuggghhhhh!!!  Ok that’s me taking a huge breath after a really busy couple of days (you try working out how to write down the sound of a big breath??).  Basically, everything you shouldn’t do when trying to lose weight or just before a weigh in I have done over the last 3 days.  I haven’t exercised, I haven’t had a lot of sleep, I have been skipping meals, I’m hormonal, I ate chocolate cake, drank wine, didn’t drink much water, and ate a big, salty, dinner of bacon and eggs the night before weigh in because I had no other food in the house.  Yay me!  My days of chaos started with a last minute request from a Uni back home to do some assignment marking for their little baby Exercise Physiologists.  I was excited to be asked and happy to do it.  You know that saying, ‘Your eyes are bigger than your stomach’?  Well I tend to have that problem in regard to work (as well as the food problem too) where I start saying yes to all these things because I really want to do them and then I am left scrambling to make deadlines! lol  I have recently started participating in a subject at Uni of Tasmania, enrolled in an online course for Better Breathing (run by a physio experienced in training athletes in more efficient breathing techniques and at the other end of the spectrum working with those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases), and accepted the secretary position for the swimming club.

This week was a little more exciting than usual as the Hubby was running a Junior Rugby League skills session for the first time, we had a Parent Teacher Meeting, and we had the Twin’s 7th Birthday on Friday too.  I somehow thought it would be a good idea to let them have a few kids over for a movie night.  Turns out a few kids for one, a few kids for the other, and a couple to keep the big boy happy turns into 14 boys over for a Boys Night In!!  And then it rained in Panna (Who knew it rained here??).  Next thing I knew, I have a million kids running up and down my hallways screaming at the top of their voices about a Zombie raid or some such thing.   So you can imagine the state of my house after this invasion, but not only that, the hubby flew out early the next morning to visit his family in Wollongong so I was left with the kids, the mess, and 20 more assignments to mark in two days!!!  Needless to say the assignments took priority and I am sure my kids were there somewhere amongst the mess.

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Anyway my point is, sometimes things don’t go to plan and I was feeling like a hot, porky mess and sure that all my good work had been undone.  In the grand scheme of things it was three bad days and this does not negate four weeks of good behaviour.  I wasn’t going to weigh in as I didn’t want to be disappointed in the results and have them confirm (via numbers) that I had lost any progress I had managed to chip away at and achieve.  But then I got curious….and I wanted to prove the point that the scales aren’t the be all and end all of this journey.  The scales would possibly tell me that I haven’t lost any weight in 4 weeks (according to the numbers), that my body fat had increased, and that 4 weeks of hard work meant nothing as the numbers on that scale hadn’t changed!  Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it??  It tells me nothing about the fact that I feel better, have more energy, am stronger and fitter, and am convinced I look better in my underwear (especially when I suck the belly in)!! 😉

Too much information I know, moving on…..here is the week in workouts:

Monday:  100 Club – managed to complete the 100 reps across the board and quicker than last week too!  Also backed up in the afternoon and made it to a ‘Burn’ class which was a 30min abs and core workout.

Tuesday:  10 x 30sec sprints and Whole body strength workout (Bench Press, Flies and KB rotate,rack and press, bent over rows and lat pulldowns, leg extensions and low squats).  Backed up in the afternoon with the kids for a 3km interval jog.

Wednesday:  4km walk/rest day.

Thursday:  Boxing class in the morning.

Friday:  This is where the good stuff ends…….Nothing.

Saturday:  Nothing…….

Sunday:  Nothing……..

Poor ‘Wayne’ also had a bit of a topsy turvy week.  The body was telling her to back off and give it a chance to catch up.  You have to listen to the body at times and give it what it needs.  So her early week was a bit lighter, backed off the strength and did lower intensity cardio instead.  By the end of the week ‘Wayne’ was starting to bounce back and feel better than ever.

Weigh In Results:

This week we had different scales as the one we had been using in previous weeks died a natural death.  I managed to lose 0.9kg this week, but gained 6% BF??  Hmmmm, I’m a little sceptical as to the accuracy of scales, so many variables.  I had taken limited water water the few days prior to weigh in and the instructor advised that this can play a big factor in the body fat reading.  I think the weight loss for me was possibly a little because of dehydration.

Total to date:  Down 2.4kg and 1%BF    Oh well, we will see what next week brings.

‘Wayne’ had a great week this week….down 2kg!! and 0% BF.  Again the scales may play a little part in no BF changes.

Total to date:  Down 2kg and 3%BF.

Most exciting for me are the changes for ‘Wayne’ in her attitude, fitness, and body awareness.  She advised this week that she is just starting to feel capable of doing this.  From wondering ‘when the session was going to end’ in the very first week (I thought I was being gentle on her, hehe) to knowing she can complete it and even looking forward to it.  ‘Wayne’ was comfortable and motivated to go on her own over the last few days when I couldn’t make it, and stated she even felt she could put together a workout!!  Yay for progress in any form.  ‘Wayne’ is starting to move better and train with purpose.  Its happening, she’s joining the club and will love exercise and the way it makes her feel by the time I am done with her and its exciting!!

Remember, don’t let the scales define your journey!

Weigh Ins and Workouts

Today marks two weeks into the 8 week Pannawonica Body Fat challenge.  With our trip away last weekend and a cyclone cruising past late this week, my initial two weeks have been far from perfect however progress has still been achieved.  For those that are interested I thought I would document my (and my exercise partner’s) training and progress over the next 8 weeks.  Now for confidentiality reasons I am going to call my training partner ‘Wayne’.  She will laugh at this as it was her kids who sparked this name after an innocent chat during dinner the other night when she suddenly remembered she had ‘weigh in’ the next morning…one child asked ‘Who’s Wayne?” and her other child stated…”I think it is someone she trains with at the gym.”  Everyone had a laugh and now ‘Wayne’ will be the name of my training partner for the sake of the blog.

The purpose of these first two weeks at the gym was to build a foundation of good technique and basic strength and endurance.  ‘Wayne’ and I are doing a mixture of classes and strength training in the gym.  Research has shown that one of the best ways to lose body fat (notice I said body fat and not weight loss, as a common mistake is to cut the calorie intake and hit the cardio which results in great numbers on the scales but often leads to loss in muscle mass, difficulty maintaining this weight loss, and sometimes minimal changes to actual body fat) is to follow a strength protocol and/or add some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  As ‘Wayne’ has not done a lot of this type of training we won’t be following a strict HIIT protocol, more of a vigorous exercise intensity level until we reach a point where technique is solid and fitness/strength allows us to push to the level needed for HIIT.

Obviously a good diet is crucial for any body composition changes to occur and we are both tracking our intake via My Fitness Pal.  In terms of macronutrient breakdown, at this stage I am aiming for a moderate diet of approximately 50% Carbohydrates, 30% Protein, and 20% Fat.  I know, shock horror, the carbohydrate percentage is quite high and flies in the face of the recent push for high protein and low carb diets for weight loss.  For me this works at the moment, I like endurance exercise and will keep it in my training so I find I like a higher carb content in my diet.  I’m also not aiming for a competition bikini body just a better, healthier body so I am not super strict with my diet at this stage.  I may change the ratio if my weight loss stalls, but for now it works.  In terms of diet, the things I am working on at the moment are:

  • Increased water intake >2L + extra during exercise
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Restricting/avoiding chocolates, sweets, and processed food
  • Aiming to have greens at every meal
  • Controlling portion sizes

As I said, not strict, just working on the basics.  I have also agreed with ‘Wayne’ that we have 5 Diet Passes for the 8 week period, where we are able to use them if we have a special dinner or event and want to splurge, or just really have a craving for something.  Everything in moderation and I think it is unrealistic that we can be perfect 100% of the time.  The aim for this is so we don’t feel like anything is forbidden and also to encourage mindful indulgence.  If you are going to indulge make sure it is something you really want otherwise don’t do it.

OK enough rambling, my training for the past two weeks is as follows.  ‘Wayne’ and I train together Mon-Fri with weekends on our own to allow for family commitments and our own individual training interests.

Week One

Monday – 100 Club (Jumping lunges, KB Swings, weighted boxing combo, wall sit with barbell bicep curls, Fitball ‘Y’s’, medicine ball slams, Heel taps, Shuttle runs length of gym) 100 reps of each, any order, any amount of reps at a time in 45mins with a 60sec plank every 5 minutes.  Ouch!

Tuesday – At the gym, upper body focus.  Warm up 5minutes followed by 10-15 spin bike hill climbs, 30sec hard work 30sec easy.  Chest Press, Seated Row, Lat Pulldown, KB rotate rack and press, Knee push ups (tricep or normal depending on ability).  3 sets, 10-15 reps.  Emphasis on JUST getting 10 reps to start, if we reach 15 reps then must increase weights.  Technique, technique, technique.  Intensity may not quite be there initially but it will come down the track.

In the afternoon – training run with the kids

Wednesday – Both feeling a little sore so decided on a 4km recovery walk round town.

Thursday – Boxing Class, 1 hour.

Friday – At the gym, lower body focus. Start body weight only add weights if able.  Squats to sit on a low step (to encourage good range and good technique), Single leg balance exercise (balance exercises are awesome for pelvic/knee/ankle stability as well as body awareness and increased muscle recruitment), Weighted Lunges, KB Swings, Push up position rows.  3 sets, 15 reps (each side if required).

Saturday – Rest Day.  Swimming, snorkelling, kayaking at Coral Bay.

Sunday – 2km Paddle, and 4km beach walk in the afternoon.  Swimming, snorkelling, kayaking at Coral Bay.

RESULTS:  No weigh in for me this week as away in Coral Bay.  ‘Wayne’ lost 0.3kg and 3%BF.  Now initially I had warned that this type of training can be a little slower to show you the love on the scales in kg lost.  The aim is to build some muscle and burn off the unwanted fat.  Muscles grow when challenged and broken down, forcing the body to rally to meet the challenge.  1kg of muscle weighs the same as 1kg of fat BUT takes up only 1/3 of the space which is why we always remind you to look for changes in how your clothes fit and how you feel and not only for what the scales say.

It can be a little disappointing to look at “only” 0.3kg loss but if you look at 3%BF lost in one week, that is amazing!  When I crunched the numbers this 3%BF translates into 2.6kg fat lost of ‘Wayne’s’ total body weight.  We know that body fat is down 2.6kg but the scales only showed 0.3kg overall so we can assume that we managed to build some hard won muscle.  It is a great result.

Week Two

Monday – Drive home from Coral Bay but dragged myself to the gym that night.  4km treadmill run, quick upper body circuit – 15 Bench Press, 15 each side KB rotate, rack and press, 15 Deadlift with bent over rows, and 20 KB swings. 3 times through.

Tuesday – At the gym, lower body.  Warm up then 10 x 30hard/30easy standing hill sprints on spin bike. Squats to low step (weighted), Low lunge hold with kickbacks (focus on good posture and stretching out ‘Wayne’s’ tight hip flexors), push ups, high step ups single leg with weights, single leg balance exercise.  15reps, 3 sets.  Finished with another lot of spin bike sprints.

Wednesday – 4km walk around town.  Fun Run training in the afternoon with the boys.

Thursday – Cyclone incoming and school cancelled so didn’t make it to class.  Did a Jillian Michaels circuit class found on YouTube.  It was a little hard on the body especially on the tiles in my living area, lol.

 

Friday – At gym, upper body focus.  15min bike warm up.  Chest Press, Chest Flies, Leg Ext and Alternating lunges (weighted if able), Lat Pulldown and Shoulder Press.  10-15reps, 3 sets.  Finished with 10 x 30hard/30easy on cross trainer.

Saturday – 20 km bike ride (Pyramid set: Increase level every 1min for 8 levels, 3min recovery ride, Increase level every 45sec for 8 levels, 3min recovery ride, increase level every 30secs for 8 levels, 3 min recovery ride.  Finish final 7km steady pace, keeping at 90-100 RPM.)  Followed by 3km treadmill run, steady pace.

Sunday – Yoga for Weight loss and Fun run training with the boys.

 

RESULTS:  First weigh in for me….dah da daaah….1.5kg down and down 5%BF over the two weeks.  Very excited about that considering my less than perfect food choices over the weekend away and, ahem, during Cyclone day at home.  I have used 3 of my passes, eeek.  Time to tighten up the belt.  ‘Wayne’ didn’t have big improvements on the scale this week, back to starting weight but BF% is down a further 0.3%.  So still making some body composition changes.  She also admitted that she missed a couple of training days this week.  We will sit down and review everything on Monday and step it up.  To be honest I don’t really expect to see huge weight loss in the first two weeks with someone new to strength training as their body adapts, but I do expect to see a good loss on the scales in week 3 all things going to plan.

Exercise Hitlist No.3 – Off and Running

I seem to have lost my blogging mojo, not for lack of things to write about but just because.  Kids are all at school this year which is amazing and a little depressing to think that I am old enough to have school age children, haha.  To be quite honest I have been fluffing around at home, enjoying the peace and quite, reading and watching TV, and generally being a big, fat lazybones.  It has been lovely….but it has to stop.  So last week I reviewed my new Hitlist, shook it off and got it into working order.  Here is the latest hitlist. Hitlist 3 To prove that I have not been completely unproductive, I have actually managed to get started on a few of these items. Most importantly, I, have a new training partner.  As the new person in town I was a little nervous about how I was going to convince someone to come and train with me.  On the positive side they don’t know what kind of crazy they will be getting into (mwah ha ha ha ha thats supposed to be an evil laugh).  Turns out it was easier than expected.  Pannawonica has an online noticeboard on facebook for town updates, items for sale, services available etc.  I took a big, deep breath and dived right in.  I put a post on the page stating that I was looking for a training partner for the duration of the 8 week challenge, that I have skills that are quite handy for a training partner, and that if there was more than one person interested I would just draw a name out of the hat.  I was a little nervous that there would be nothing but silence and I would be the weird, new girl in town…not a good look….but thankfully I had a very positive response. Phew!  Anyway, back to the point, I have a new training partner which is very exciting.  Maybe a little scary for my new partner, a mother of two who has never really done strength training before, hehehehe….fresh blood.

I have been to four different classes organised by the gym including a Boxing/Cardio class, Circuit class, Yoga, and Spartacus/100 Club.  All that I have been to have been good but I really love the Spartacus class.  This involves about 6 different exercises for example Shuttle Runs, KB Swings, Weighted Lunges, Med Ball Slams, Push Ups, etc and the aim is to complete 100 reps of each exercise in 40 minutes.  You can do them in any order and as many reps at a time as you like, the only catch being that every five minutes you have to join in and do one minute plank.  The same exercises are kept for a 4 week period to allow time to improve and hopefully achieve 100 reps across the board.  It’s awesome.

The Pannawonica 8 week Fat Burn Challenge has commenced this week and I swear I am having chocolate and alcohol withdrawal symptoms which is quite possibly why nothing creative is coming alive on the blog.  Week one in changing dietary habits is always painful.  I usually find after two weeks the cravings drop off significantly but those habits take a while to stick.  Ho hum.  I have started using the ‘My Fitness Pal’ app on my phone which is actually really good.  Easy to use and the break down of macros is great.

Another thing we have done as a family is to register for the nearest Mother’s Day Classic Fun Run which is in Karratha.  We are hoping to train 2-3x/week and build up to running the whole 4km.  To keep us motivated (and not look like a crazy running group) we decided to split the family into two training teams.  Team Rangas includes the red headed twins and myself, while Team Chunky Butts has my husband and both the eldest and youngest children.  I have also downloaded RunKeeper to keep track of our progress.  Yes, look at me embracing my new iPhone technology…wonders will never cease.  Training has been going really well and it is great seeing them excited to beat their time, or run that little bit further.  I also love listening to them chat about their day, it is quickly becoming my favourite part of the day.

You can support us and donate to Breast Cancer Research here.

Well that is the new hitlist underway and hopefully this marks the end of the blog drought.  What is everyone else up to and is anyone else training for the Mother’s Day Classic?  Where abouts?

Journey to Adventurethon Albany

I thought I would do a quick update every couple of weeks on how my training for my first adventurethon is progressing for anyone who is interested.

Focus this week was to start running and get into a bit of a routine.

Focus this week was to start running and get into a bit of a routine.

Was going to start CrossFit this week but sick with a cold so I decided to stay with similar program to last week.

Was going to start CrossFit this week but sick with a cold so I decided to stay with similar program to last week.

So overall I am happy with where I am at and the body seems to be holding up OK.  I have ordered a new pair of running shoes that I am hoping will help me out with some calf and shin pain.  It is only niggling and I have really been hitting it with the roller and stretching.  After a rest from running it seems to recover OK at the moment.  My biggest focus now is on getting the diet on track.  While I have lost just over 1kg in the last two weeks, it really should be more considering the exercise I am doing, and I know my chocolate addiction is to blame.  Damn you chocolate!!  My goal is to lose 5kg in the next 5 weeks.  I usually find that if I increase my water intake (leave a jug on the bench), increase my greens (some at every meal), and ban all chocolate, I find that I am able to drop the weight.  I eat carbs at breakfast, but then don’t eat a lot of simple carbs during the rest of the day.

If you know any good links for a fitness journey of any kind, for weight loss, or regarding nutrition please feel free to leave a link in the comments section.  That would be great!!

Your body can stand almost anything