Natasha’s Guide to Living Healthy and Losing Weight
Hello! My name is Natasha, and I’m a certified personal trainer who has lost ~80 pounds since 2011. I get asked most of the same questions daily - “how do I lose weight?” “how do I get healthy?” “what’s your secret?”. Well, I’m here to finally answer all of those questions, and more, in detail. This is pretty much going to be everything you wanted to know about being fit but were afraid to ask. So let’s begin!
You’ve heard the phrase that weight loss and fitness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s true. You will get nowhere without proper nutrition. Keep in mind though, IT IS NOT A DIET. The word ‘diet’ indicates that it would be temporary. Nope, this is a lifestyle change! This is why fad diets (Atkins diet, ABC/Military/7 Day diets) won’t work. Yes, you might lose weight with those things, but as soon as you go back to eating regularly, you’ll gain it all back. Not to mention, they’re incredibly unhealthy and even dangerous! Now, there are different lifestyles that people chose to follow, and you need to find what works for you. They include, but are not limited to: vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, paleo, etc. Do not start one of these lifestyles in an attempt to just lose weight. If you plan on eating a certain way, like I said, keep it up for life! You have to find what works for you. Whatever lifestyle you choose to follow, here are some basics to keep in mind.
- Eating enough. BMR. RMR. TDEE. IIFYM. Starvation mode. What does it all mean? I personally choose to go by TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure. You can calculate your TDEE (and BMR) here. TDEE is the amount of calories your body burns in 24 hours - including your resting, sleeping, working, playing and digesting food. If you eat right at your TDEE, you will maintain your weight. If you eat over, you will gain weight. If you eat under, you will lose weight! Simple, right? If not, let me give you an example. I put in my stats - female, 22, 5’1 and ~120 pounds. My BMR is 1243 and my TDEE is 1872. You should NEVER eat under your BMR - that’s your Basal Metabolic Rate AKA how many calories your body would burn if you were in a coma. Everyone hears about the magical number 1200, and if you eat below this, your body will go into starvation mode. “But Natasha,” some people say, “My BMR is below 1200! Should I eat that much?” The answer is NO. Again, your BMR is what your body would be burning if you were laying in a coma, unable to move AT ALL. YOUR BODY NEEDS NUTRIENTS. YOUR BODY NEEDS CALORIES. CALORIES ARE ENERGY. Starvation mode, or rather, the starvation response is something that your body does when it isn’t receiving the nutrients, food and energy it needs. Click here to read more about it. So what does this all mean? Numbers do play a part in losing weight. One pound is 3500 calories. That means, to lose a pound, you need to cut out 3500 calories. So let’s go back to my TDEE, which is 1872 calories. If I were to cut out 200 calories a day from my food, which would make it 1672, then burn 300 calories from working out, that would bring it down to 1372. Voila, that’s cutting out 500 calories a day - eating healthy and not starving yourself! Also, keep in mind if you are doing insane workouts and burning 500+ calories per workout, you need to eat AT LEAST half of those calories back.
- What do I eat? A phrase you’ll hear all over tumblr is “clean eating”. And you’re probably thinking, “what the hell does that even mean?” Clean eating is essentially cutting out processed junk foods, and eating organic, natural, healthy and whole foods. Here is Clean Eating 101 and the 10 Rules to Eating Clean to help you out. A few of the main tips I can give you for eating well are: cut out all soda, juices, etc. - diet or otherwise, cut out fast food, cut out junk food (chips, frozen dinners, etc). I’m going to give you some examples of healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.
- Breakfast: oatmeal topped with nuts, nut butter, and any fruit. fruit smoothies and/or green smoothies. smoothie bowls. yogurt with granola and fruit. eggs (my fave is scrambling 1 whole egg with 2 egg whites, adding baby spinach, tomatoes and spices). turkey bacon. any kind of fruit. granola. whole wheat toast (top it with avocado/guacamole and pepper, it’s A+). there are a ton of other options/foods, but these are a few to get you started.
- Lunch: salad (try to amp up your salads with spinach and kale, hardboiled eggs, chicken breast, tons of veggies, limit your dressing if any), baked chicken breast with brown rice and veggies, healthy pizza (whole wheat and/or cauliflower crust, fat-free and/or organic cheese, top with massive amounts of veggies), eggs (i have breakfast for lunch a lot), a healthy sandwich (chicken breast or turkey breast, avocado, veggies, no mayo - try to make it yourself and make every part organic, NOT SUBWAY). again, these are just a few options. there are a ton of healthy meals for you to make.
- Dinner: similar to your lunch options - I personally stick to baked chicken breast, veggies and brown rice/quinoa most days. I like to prep my dinners on sunday so I have them available to me and I don’t have to make anything as I work in the evenings. Read more on meal prepping here.
- Snacks: any nuts, fruits, or veggies. whole grain toast with peanut butter and bananas. greek yogurt. veggies with hummus. quest/lara/KIND/pure bars. green and/or fruit smoothies. popcorn (not the kind caked with butter, obviously. trader joe’s has some good organic options).
- Water. Cut out the soda, diet or otherwise. No juice unless it’s organic and from fruit only (no added sugars). Green tea is great too, but you want to make sure you drink AT LEAST 60 ounces of water a day. Getting the right amount of water every day will help clear up your skin, lose water weight, reduce bloat, and stay hydrated (obviously). Read more on the benefits of getting enough water here.
- Cheat days/meals. Part of healthy living is moderation, and sometimes you need to take a break. You don’t want to deprive yourself too much, and we all love food. I personally either have one cheat meal a week, or two full splurge days a month. This does not mean you can’t have sweets or any kind of cheat day to day. Have a handful of chocolate chips every night or a piece of dark chocolate. One cookie never killed anyone or hindered their progress. But remember, MODERATION.
- Here are some additional links to help you out! Healthy recipes. Food inspiration. Healthy snacks 1. Healthy snacks 2. Healthy snacks 3. Garden of Vegan. 10 Healthy Food Blogs. How to eat healthy on a budget. How to eat healthy in college. How to eat healthy when dining out. How to talk to your parents about buying healthy food. Big list of healthy recipes.
Yes, fitness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. THAT DOESN’T MEAN EXERCISE ISN’T IMPORTANT. Forget the weight loss. Forget losing fat. Exercise is important for your body and your mind. You need both cardio and strength training in your workout routine for the best results and optimal fitness. I personally recommend to my clients at least 5 days a week of cardio (if you’re trying to lose weight. if you’re maintaining, trying to build muscle or just trying to be healthy, 3 days a week is fine) for 30 minutes to an hour, and at least 3 days a week of strength. If building muscle is your main goal, reverse those numbers (3 days a week cardio, 5 days a week strength). There are hundreds of different ways to workout, and just like with your nutrition, you need to find what works for you. Whether it’s running, the elliptical, Zumba, yoga, weight lifting, WHATEVER. Your body needs it. And like I said, your mind does too! Hello, endorphins! I’m going to go over cardio, strength, weight training for beginners, and yoga.
- Cardio: I know, we all hate it. I have a love/hate relationship with it. But unfortunately, we need it. Cardio, also know as cardiovascular exercise, is basically anything that gets your heart rate going. It’s good for your heart, your body and mind in general, weight loss, and stress management. Cardio is one of the main ways to burn fat. You want to try to get your heart rate into your target heart rate zone, which you can calculate here and monitor with a heart rate monitor/fitbit/etc. Cardio can be done hundreds of different ways, here are just a few: running, the elliptical, cycling/exercise bike, hiking, Zumba, fitness classes, some variations of yoga, swimming, HIIT, Insanity, Jillian Michaels and other workout DVDs, Pilates, and there are literally a bazillion other ways to do cardio. Just get your heart rate going! Like I said before, ideally you want to get 3-5 days a week, for 30 minutes to an hour of cardio.
- Strength Training: Do you even lift, bro? I feel like a lot of people just think ‘heavy lifting’ when they think strength training. While that is a very popular and awesome way to gain muscle, there are other ways as well! There are a ton of body weight exercises that will help you gain muscle and burn fat, here is a list of body weight exercises you can do anywhere! Try to target a different body part every day, ie. one day do arms, another day do abs, another day do legs. You can do full body workouts every day as well, if that’s your thing. You can also use handweights/dumbbells, and work your way up to heavier weights. Another way to build muscle is yoga! I’m going to go over yoga and weight training/heavy lifting in depth. Strength training, in any form, is necessary to build muscle, which in turn will help burn fat.
- Yoga: Ahhh yoga. My new favorite thing. I work at a yoga studio and will hopefully be doing my yoga teacher training soon. Anywho. There are a zillion different styles of yoga but my personal favorite is vinyasa flow. It’s cardio and strength, and you so get your heart rate up. Hot yoga is great too! You can do yoga at home, go to a studio, watch a video on Youtube, etc. Yoga is for everyone! I feel like a lot of people think it’s for super fit or super skinny people only. It’s not! Everyone can do it! I will have some helpful links, videos, and tips for you at the bottom of the workout section.
- Weight Training: I think by now we all know that lifting heavy does NOT make you bulky. It makes you super hot, muscular and toned. The key to weight training and lifting heavy is FORM. Do not sacrifice your form just so you can lift more. I would recommend starting with lighter weight/hand weights, to build up your strength, and then move on to weight machines, squat racks, Crossfit, etc. Here is a guide to weight training for beginners.
- Rest Days: You need at least one full rest day a week. Your body needs to rest, heal and build muscle. Yup, BUILD MUSCLE. Here’s the thing. When you’re working out, you’re actually tearing your muscles. It’s the rest and proper nutrition that builds them up.
- Here are some additional links to help you out: A Beginner’s Guide to Home Workouts. 30 Plank Exercises to Shock Your Body. Giant Yoga Master Post. Youtube Fitness Channels. HIIT Workouts. Blogilates Printable Workouts. Strength Training 101. How to Build Muscle. Workout Basics.
The Mental Side of Fitness
Fitness is a state of mind. Losing weight takes a certain mentality. I get asked all the time about where I found my motivation, how I stayed motivated, etc. The number one tip that I can give you is, if you don’t have one already, START A FITNESS BLOG. A fitness specific blog. Having people that are on the same journey as you and a place to log your progress and stay on track helps so much. I would not have done it if I hadn’t started this blog. Another issue a lot of people have is balance. How do you balance between eating too much, and eating too little? What if you have/develop an eating disorder? Unfortunately, it happens. I’m going to provide you all with a lot of links and resources for motivation, happiness, mental and eating disorders, and general life advice. Losing weight will not make your life perfect. You have to work for that mentally. Losing weight will not make you love yourself or your body. It is a daily journey. Fitness is a lifestyle.
- Ways to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight.
- Make a Weight Loss Inspiration Board.
- Start a Dietbet with Friends.
- Weekly Meal Planner Worksheet.
- Weekly Food and Exercise Recorder.
- My Workout Playlist.
- How to Beat a Plateau.
- Bad Day Remedies.
- Binge Eating Recovery Plan.
- Eating Disorder Hotline and Chat.
- Self Harm Alternatives.
- Ways to Deal with Depression/Stress.
- De-Stress Yoga.
- Apps You Need in Your Life.
- No Gym? No Problem.
- Learning Self Love.
Welp, I think that’s it! If you have any questions, my ask box is always open (keep in mind, I get thousands of questions a day but I try to answer as many as I can). I also do meal/workout plans online, and in person training. You can check out my personal training information here and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested! Just remember: if I can do it, ANYONE CAN. I went from being the most sedentary unhealthy person, to a personal trainer. It is possible. Remember to believe in yourself, and JUST DO IT. No one can do it for your or want it for you. You have to want it for yourself. And above all, STAY HEALTHY. Get healthy, and weight loss will follow. Thank you for reading this! I hope it helped! Thank you all for your continued support and love. Hopefully this will help you guys reach your goals!
Good luck, have fun, get fit. Namaste.
(banner by the lovely rhianna!)
- I take no credit for the pic or the recipe, was found here (x) -
I just made these, post yoga practice, and they’re so easy and yummy! I put them in the fridge to set/keep, but I tried it after I was mixing and holy poop, it is amazing! Plus, it’s easily made to your own liking! Add or take away to you make them your own!
Def recommend. Fiber from the oatmeal, protein from nut butter, and Omega 3s (good fat!) from the flax! Not to mention if you put fruit in it!