Exercise · Fat Loss · Fitness · Goals · Health · Hormones · Lose Weight · Metabolism · Muscle Gain · Weight Loss · Workout

Morning vs Evening Workouts

Morning vs evening workouts. This topic is one that has been debated for ages, and yet we still don’t have a definitive answer. Some people love morning workouts. For those people, working out is part of their morning routine. I am one of those people. For me, it’s coffee and Jesus time (reading my Bible and prayer time), and then a workout. Other people cannot possibly fathom waking up any earlier than necessary – especially to workout. These people love using their end of day workouts to destress and decompress from the day’s events. 

So does it really even make a difference at what time of day you choose to workout? Yes and no. Clear as mud, right? 

Ultimately, the answer to this question is this…the best time to exercise is whenever the best time is for YOU to do it consistently. Do you love getting your workout in before the day gets started so you have your evenings free? Great! Stick with morning workouts. Are evenings the only time you have to squeeze in a workout or it just doesn’t happen? Perfect! Workout in the evening. When you sit down and look at the facts, people who make fitness a priority and workout consistently see more weight loss and better results over time. Studies have shown that your body adapts to your routine, meaning that if you condition your body to workout in the mornings, you will get better results during morning workouts, and vice versa. 

Now, with that being said, let’s discuss the benefits and disadvantages of both morning and evening workouts:

Let’s start with morning workouts:

  1. When you exercise on an empty stomach, or in a “fasted state,” you actually burn more fat then when you exercise after eating, or in a “fed state.” The reason for this is that your body has to use existing fat stores to fuel your workout, not the food you just consumed.
  2. Working out in the morning may help to improve your sleep cycle. I am not naturally a morning person. I used to be the person that slept until the absolute last minute and scrambled in the mornings to get out the door. But after several years of incorporating a morning routine (AND having a child that is an early riser), my body has shifted into a different pattern. Morning exercise can help shift your circadian rhythm so that you are more naturally tired in the evenings to fall asleep earlier and you are able to wake up earlier with more energy. Morning exercise also promotes deeper sleep. Sleep is SO important for overall health. Sleep also aids in muscle growth, so if you are getting deeper sleep, you may also see more strength gains as well. 
  3. Working out in the morning can help you establish a solid fitness regimen. It’s a fact that people who workout in the morning are more consistent simply because they knock it out at the beginning of the day before the days get away from them. There’s far less room for excuses this way. If you get your workout in first thing in the morning, before activities, work, kids, friends, and LIFE start to pull you in a million directions in the afternoon, you don’t have to worry about skipping the workout because it’s already done. 

Now let’s chat about the benefits to working out in the evening:

  1. It can help to relieve stress. Exercise is such a great stress reliever ANY time of day, but working out in the evenings can help alleviate the stress of the day and help blow off steam. 
  2. You also have hormones working in your favor. Your body produces more testosterone (men and women alike) in the afternoon, and testosterone is importantly for muscle building. So if you are looking to build muscle and gain strength, evening workouts may be more beneficial for you.
  3. Research has shown that most people physically function better later in the day. Endurance, strength, and flexibility improve as the day goes on, so your physical performance may improve as a result. Also, evening workouts use less oxygen, which can make workouts more effective and can help with endurance and performance. So if you are a serious competitor training for a specific goal or competition, evening workouts may be the way to go. 

The bottom line is that the TIME of day you choose to work out doesn’t matter as much as actually making sure you get it done. Choose a time that works best for you and your particular habits and lifestyle, and then stay consistent with it. Studies have shown that people who work out consistently at the same time every day have better results, no matter the time they choose.

If you choose morning workouts, just be sure to take time to warm up properly to wake up muscles that may be cold and tighter from being inactive from sleep. If you choose evening workouts, make sure you put it on your calendar and make it a priority so you control your day and not let the day end up getting away from you. No matter the time of day, set yourself up for success with a plan in place so excuses no longer win…and I guarantee you’ll see results. 

Which team are you? Share with me in a comment – are you team morning or evening workout?

Health · Hormones · Sleep · Stress

The Sleep-Stress Cycle

I truly feel like we as a society are the most stressed out we have ever been. We live in a go-go-go world. It’s like we are punished for taking time to slow down and rest. Hustle culture has taken over, and if we have a free moment in the day, we are pressured into thinking it needs to be filled.

We wake up early and rush to work, then work long hours during the day, then we rush home and rush the kids to some sort of practice, come home, try our best to eat a healthy dinner, help the kids with homework, get to bed late and begin again the next day. If you are a homemaker or if you are a homeschool mom, you spend your days teaching your children while taking care of everything that needs to be done inside the home, plus finding time to spend with God and carve out some quiet time for yourself. If you are a business owner, you have responsibilities to your clients, your employees, and to yourself. You’re constantly dreaming and thinking of creative ideas and best practices. It’s possible no matter your situation, your brain never seems to shut off.

Stress can be a double-edge sword when it pertains to sleep. Not getting enough sleep, or not getting quality sleep, can lead to mood swings, irritability, and fatigue, which can then make the physical stress even worse. On the flip side, dealing with daily stress can cause anxiety to creep in at bedtime when things finally get still and quiet and you have time alone with your thoughts. It can delay sleep and cause you to toss and turn throughout the night. The sleep-stress cycle is REAL. 

Let’s talk about how stress affects the body. Stress can show up in a number of different ways, but it generally falls into one of three categories: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. 

  1. Acute Stress is short term and often comes with feelings of dread or panic. Some examples of this type of stress include realizing you missed an important deadline (like you forgot to make the mortgage payment) or the feeling after you slam on your brakes to avoid a car accident. Your heart rate increases and your blood pressure goes up. With acute stress, some people also experience other symptoms such as headaches or stomach pain. These symptoms do typically go away after a short period of time. 
  2. Episodic acute stress is a series of individual moments of stress. People who feel burned down by day-to-day stressful situations (like a high-stress job, a sleep-deprived mom raising children, a caregiver to an elderly parent), may resort to binge eating or emotional eating to find relief. That’s why certain foods are labeled as “comfort foods.” This is a very real problem that more people suffer from than like to admit. This type of stress can also lead to anxiety, depression, heart disease, and relationship issues if not addressed in a healthy way. 
  3. Chronic stress can be brought on by a number of things, typically major events like trauma, abuse, or finances. Oftentimes, people do not like to talk about these things and they will keep their feelings locked inside, which can take a big toll on the mind and mental state, as well as lead to feelings of hopelessness or despair. 

More often than not, acute stress has very little effect on the body. We all deal with stress in some form or fashion every single day and learn to adapt. But chronic stress can have a major impact on your health in several ways. Here are a few of the ways chronic stress can take a toll: 

  1. Everyone is familiar with the body’s “fight or flight” response when certain events happen, but this can also cause a domino effect. This response causes your blood pressure and heart rate to spike, which is great for “in the moment” reactions to acute stress. With acute stress, the body will stabilize back to normal. However, with chronic stress, blood pressure and heart rate levels are constantly elevated, which takes a toll on your cardiovascular system. And this puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, and hypertension. 
  2. Your gut health can be affected by chronic stress as well. You are probably aware of the bacteria found in your gut, but it also has nerves that communicate with the brain to regulate mood and other functions of overall health. Stress can interrupt this communication and show up as symptoms such as bloating and other types of stomach pain and discomfort. This can lead to loss of appetite OR the flip side of overeating. So many times when anxiety is present, the easy thing to do is turn to food and binge on emotionally comforting foods, and obesity begins to creep in. Knowing this, does it surprise you that the super stressed out people in the United States have an obesity rate of over 40%? And as we all know, obesity lends itself to a host of other health issues as well. 
  3. Have you ever noticed your muscles tensing up during stressful situations? When you are chronically stressed, muscle tension is constant, which can cause migraine headaches and upper and lower back pain. Stress can also trigger breathing issues, such as asthma attacks, and when stress is persistent, it can lead to bigger issues like pulmonary disease. 

I know it’s been a lot of doom and gloom up to this point, and you’ve probably related to at least one of the signs and symptoms I’ve mentioned thus far….and your head is probably spinning trying to figure out how you are going to de-stress so you don’t risk your health. 

There is good news ahead. We can break this vicious sleep-stress cycle. 

Here are my top tips for breaking the cycle, once and for all:

  1. De-stress during the Day. When you’ve had “one of those days,” it can be HARD to go to sleep at night. Your mind is racing, trying to process the events of the day. This is the definition of the sleep-stress cycle, and you’re literally watching it take place in your own life. You have to learn to deal with stressful situations during the day instead of shoving them to the side or trying to put a pin in them until you get home at night. When you have a moment of stress or tension or anxiety, take five minutes to go do something you enjoy – make a cup of coffee, go for a walk…whatever brings you joy. Take a few minutes to calm your mind, reset your intention, and hold the stressful thoughts at bay and away from creeping in at night. 
  2. Brain Dump: sometimes moments of anxiety creep in out of fear or worry like or “did I remember to wash Susie’s uniform?” Things like that that creep in at night while lying in bed when everything has settled down. As uncomfortable as it may be, try and resist the urge to get up and take care of these things if they can wait until morning. I also encourage you to do a “brain dump” or data dump each night before bed to write things down and get them out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Make a to-do list for the next day or week or month (whatever works best for you!) and clear your mind so it’s ready to fully rest. 
  3. Practice Saying No: We spend so much time worrying which diet is the “best” diet to follow or which workouts are best for weight loss or muscle tone, but we don’t give sleep a second thought. We skimp on it and it comes back to sabotage our progress. Your health depends on your making sleep a priority, so just say NO to late nights. Say no to plans that keep you out late on a regular basis. Set boundaries on how late people can expect to reach you. So many people treat sleep like it’s optional and say things like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “who needs sleep, anyway?”. Sleep is not a luxury – it’s a necessity.
  4. Implement a nighttime routine: This is something that I strongly suggest for each and every one of my clients – a night time routine is just as important as developing a solid morning routine. Turn off the TV, put the phone away, and unwind. Set boundaries around your time. It’s ok if one more email or text comes in…chances are, it’s not life altering and it can wait until morning. Your bedroom is a place for rest and sleep. Bright lights and blue lights from TV and other devices can disrupt sleep patterns and disrupt your circadian rhythm, so set your phone to Do Not Disturb and do not pick it up until morning. You can even buy an old-school alarm clock so you aren’t tempted to pick it up and set the alarm (OR to start off your day by mindlessly scrolling on social media when you pick it up to turn the alarm off.) Also, I highly recommend doing a “brain dump” before bed. Write things down and get them out. Clear your mind before you go to bed, that way you are able to get the racing thoughts out of your mind, put your to-do list aside, and focus on getting quality sleep. I am also a huge proponent of keeping a prayer journal. I love journaling my prayers. It’s so wonderful too to have a record of them, and to go back and look at how the prayers were answered and to have the reminder that everything happens in God’s timing. Journaling prayers before bed is a great way to get only the peace that Jesus can give right before you drift off to sleep. 

The sleep stress cycle is REAL but implementing these things will show you that  it doesn’t have to be real for you in your life. 

If you are struggling with the sleep-stress cycle and would like to dive in deeper on managing stress and improving your overall health, I invite you to schedule a discovery call and let’s chat about a plan of action, tangible steps for you to take, and clarity on your next steps moving forward!

Before and After · Fat Loss · Health · Hormones · Lifestyle · Macronutrients · Metabolism · Muscle Gain · Nutrition · Results · Reverse Dieting · Transformation · Uncategorized · Weight Loss

Reverse Dieting

Reverse dieting may not be a phrase you’re super familiar with but this is how I help the majority of my clients when we begin working together. It requires a high level of trust because I usually have my clients start out eating more than they ever thought possible to lose weight – BUT that’s actually the reason they were having a hard time losing weight or they were stuck in a weight loss plateau in the first place. They simply weren’t eating enough! With that being said, let’s dive head first into reverse dieting. 

What is a reverse diet? 

This term is something that is really uncommon but it truly shouldn’t be. A lot of times reverse dieting is referred to as “the diet after the diet.” To make it simple, a reverse diet is a way to gradually increase calories over a few weeks or months to allow you to eat more food after you’ve been on a “diet,” or series of diets for that matter (where you are restricting calories or just not eating enough to fuel your body properly). This increase of calories also increases your metabolism and prevents fat gain or regain. 

I know what you’re thinking…”Rachel, that doesn’t make sense. You’re telling me to eat MORE and I’ll finally begin to lose weight.”

Yes. I am! Let me explain. 

When we go through restrictive periods (which most of us have in the past), and when we try these fad diets where we are eating 1,200 calories or less, our metabolism decreases. This is where we start to see weight loss plateaus. Think about it: you can only go so low with your caloric intake, right? Once you do, you can’t go any lower and your body stalls out in a lot of ways. There are also a lot of things going on behind the scenes in our bodies when we limit the amount of fuel we are taking in. We have been conditioned to believe that we are doing our bodies a service by restricting them, but here is actually what is going on: 

  1. We experience hormone changes, and this is where things can start to get out of whack pretty fast. Our bodies begin to either suppress or release various hormones to increase hunger and push us to eat more. Think about it: your body needs more fuel and you aren’t giving it the fuel it needs. So it starts using these hormones to send you signals that it needs fuel. Your body is literally saying “feed me!”
  1. Our digestion slows down because it’s trying to absorb as many nutrients and calories as possible because it isn’t sure when you are going to give it adequate fuel again.
  1. Our resting metabolic rate decreases, which causes our bodies to redirect all focused energy on vital organs to keep us alive. When you are eating a minimum amount of calories, your body has to focus on the essentials because you don’t have any extra fuel in the tank to dedicate to anything else – your body is almost in survival mode. You don’t have adequate energy to dedicate to “non-essential” functions, like hair and nail growth. If you’ve been restricting calories for a long time, you may notice that your hair is thinning or your nails are brittle. This is why. When I was in my 20s and was eating less than 1,000 calories a day, I saw a noticeable difference in my hair. I have always had super thick hair, but I noticed that it was becoming extremely thin. I didn’t know why back then, but looking back I had physical evidence of the damage I was doing to my body by not feeding it what it needed.
  1. You may also feel like you have less energy to exercise or you see a noticeable difference in stamina and endurance, even in day to day activities (cleaning, washing dishes, playing with your kids). This also means you burn less calories through the activities that you do. The good news is though that this metabolic adaptation likely isn’t permanent! Your metabolism can gradually increase as you begin to increase your calorie consumption. And this is where reverse dieting comes into play.

So, how do you know you need to do a reverse diet? 

There can be many reasons to try reverse dieting. For example, if you want to eat more without gaining weight or if you are someone who has  been dieting for a long time and you are ready to maintain your current level of body fat, then the reverse dieting method is right for you. This method is really great for the transition period from dieting to maintenance because it teaches you how to increase calories without going crazy in the process and regaining all the weight you worked so hard to lose. 

If you have been eating 1,200 calories (or less) a day and not losing weight, reverse dieting may be something you can try. Low calorie diets may result in weight loss for some, but it’s usually temporary – it isn’t sustainable. They can also trigger physical and emotional side effects, such as nutrient deficiencies, fatigue,  irritability, anxiety or depression, and obsessive thoughts about food and weight. Studies have also shown that following a 1,200 calorie diet or living a restrictive lifestyle actually boosted levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone known to increase belly fat.

Reverse dieting can also help improve body composition. In other words, you want to lose fat, gain muscle, and maintain your current weight. Increasing calories while keeping activity high is a really effective strategy for muscle growth.

Reverse dieting can be pretty great, right?! So why doesn’t everybody try it?

The mindset! 

Eat more food without gaining weight. That sounds too good to be true, right? And since we live in the glorious era of social media, it can be hard to know who and what to trust. But more importantly, what MOST of us are thinking is that we don’t fully trust our bodies. We have been conditioned to believe that we should punish ourselves for reaching this point (with starvation diets and overexercise), and we’ve tried ALL the things out there to lose the weight and none of it has worked – so something must be wrong with us. And that simply isn’t true. God created your body to work FOR you – not against you. Give it a chance – and GOD a chance – to take care of you. Work with your body – fuel it properly – take care of it – give it what it needs…and I promise you – it WILL respond. 

If this concept resonated with you and you’d like to learn more, I invite you to schedule a discovery call and see if it’s a good fit for us to work together. Click the link below to find a time that works for you. More importantly, I’d love to help you get clarity on what’s holding you back from trusting your body to work for you and not against you. Remember, you have to do the work – there is no quick fix, no magic pill, or end all diet…but when you do it God’s way, lasting change begins to come. 

Fat Loss · Health · Macronutrients · Metabolism · Nutrition · Uncategorized · Weight Loss

Why Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat

“Eating fat makes you fat.” That has been the school of thinking for most Americans for nearly two decades. 

This is a theory and a myth that is making our nation very sick and overweight.

As a kid growing up in the ‘90’s, I remember my parents buying “low fat” products. This craze took off like a rocket. Even though this myth has been dispelled now, so many of us are still fearful of eating fat.

This mindset, however, will get you nowhere with your weight loss goals. 

Incorporating the right kinds of fat into your diet will ACTUALLY help you lose weight and hit your goals. The body requires fat to function properly. Healthy fats provide anti-inflammatory benefits and improve insulin sensitivity. They help our bodies in a multitude of ways including optimal brain function and heart health. 

Our food choices affect everything. They control everything. Hormones, gut health, metabolism, heart health, brain health. All of these are affected by our food choices. 

Take sugar, for example. When you eat sugar, your brain gets a surge of dopamine, the feel good chemical. So when you eat sugar, your brain likes it! Then, when that sugar wears off, your brain is looking for the next hit. You continue to go through this sugar craving cycle. Your brain wants your body to feel good and safe and sugar will make that happen, even though it’s temporary. 

You can see how our addiction to sugar has contributed to our overweight and “low fat” addicted society. “Low fat” does not mean low sugar and oftentimes, if the fat is taken out of something, it’s replaced with sugar. 

Not all fats are created equal, however. I always advise my nutrition clients to avoid trans fat and saturated fats when possible. Keep it simple by prioritizing God-given foods and avoid man-made foods. 

The one thing I want to leave you with is this – You are in control of the weight you gain or lose by the quality and type of food you eat. Focus on healthy foods and the rest will fall into place. 

If you know your mindset around “low fat” foods is keeping you stuck, I’d love to invite you to apply for a laser-coaching call with me to help! We will dig deep on a one-time, 90 minute call to get you those mental breakthroughs so you can hit those weight loss goals you have. 

APPLY HERE