4 reasons you gain weight

The Short Answer

Right off the bat, it’s important to note that this doesn’t happen to everyone, so this isn’t a preemptive excuse not to exercise! However, if you do happen to gain a few pounds when starting a new program, odds are that it’s not fat, but rather temporary water weight due to inflammation. Give it some time and it will pass.
That said, it might be a few other things, all of them fixable, so let’s run through the list and see if we can find a match.


The Long Answer

The most likely reason your scale crept up is inflammation. When you work out, it causes little tears in your muscle fibers. This is called microtrauma and it’s why you feel sore after a workout. On the upside, your body heals these little tears, making the fibers tougher than they originally were. That’s how you become stronger and fitter. It’s part of a process called adaptation.
To make these repairs, your body uses its standard healing process, including the inflammation phase—something that’s become a dirty word in our modern world. When you incur injury, including microtrauma, your body releases various substances generally known as inflammatory mediators that swarm the area and perform triage, bringing in healing white blood cells and opening up blood vessels to flush out debris and toxins. There’s so much going on that the area swells up, or inflames.
The fluid required for inflammatory response obviously weighs something—and that might show up on the scale. When inflammation is allowed to occur in a healthy way, it’s temporary.

Of course, keeping your diet healthy and allowing for adequate rest and recovery will help speed the body to less inflammatory phases of healing, but the main key is to keep calm and carry on. If you’re new to fitness—or perhaps just new to a particular kind of fitness—there’s going to be a lot of adaptation going on and therefore a noticeable level of inflammation. It should subside in a couple weeks.
Another less-likely reason you’re gaining weight is that you’re building muscle faster than you’re shedding fat. The general consensus in the fitness community is that the most weight someone new to fitness will gain in muscle is about 2 pounds a month, but that’s not a hard-and-fast number.
On more than one occasion, I’ve assisted women who are frustrated because they felt their new exercise regime was making their thighs fat. Indeed, their legs were getting bigger, but only because increased muscle under adipose tissue was pushing out the fat and making it appear to increase. Again, the trick here is patience. Once that fat burns off—which it does if you keep at it—thick legs will give way to a toned, sexy pair of gams.

What if Something Actually is Going Wrong?
There are a couple situations in which you might actually be putting on fat. The first one would be that you’re not following a proper diet. Yes, exercise burns calories, but it also increases release of ghrelin, a hormone that promotes hunger. So if you’re not paying attention, you’ll probably eat more.
Even if you are eating at a deficit, poor food choices can cause all kinds of issues, usually centered on hormonal imbalances that cause your body to hold onto fat. Every one of Beachbody’s programs comes with some sort of nutrition guide that should alleviate this issue. Don’t be afraid to read the white book that came with your DVDs.
Finally, there’s the issue of excess stress. Exercise is a good thing, but it also puts your body under stress. By itself, that’s great. It’s part of that adaptation I mentioned earlier. If done right with the proper nutritional support, rest, and recovery, it toughens you up, fortifying your body against further stress.
However, when you just pile exercise on top of a bunch of other stress—or if you work out beyond your limits—balance will be lost. Exercise will contribute to your total stress load, becoming part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution.
So if you work twelve hours a day, drink more than two standard alcoholic drinks a night on a regular basis, smoke, sleep less than 7–8 hours a night, eat a junk-filled Standard American Diet or an overly restricted low-calorie diet, and attempt one of our graduate programs when you’re 100 pounds overweight with a history of knee issues, exercise will tax your body just like all the bad habits on that list. In terms of weight gain, this can manifest in a few ways. First, that inflammation we discussed earlier won’t have the chance to give way to later phases of healing. When this happens, it can become chronic and systemic. Second, you’ll promote the release of the stress hormone cortisol that, in turn, can promote fat accumulation—particularly around the abdomen.
I’m not telling you not to exercise. Just the opposite, in fact. However, fitness is a holistic issue. If your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, or get healthier, you might want to take a closer look at your sleep, dietary, and other lifestyle habits. Sparta wasn’t built in a day. If you’re looking for 300-esque abs, it’s going to take a little time (or some expensive CGI), so start with a program you can do and that will keep you motivated instead of burning you out.
Don’t give up. Give your unexpected added pounds a couple of weeks to work themselves out. If they don’t, step back and see if there’s any other aspect of your life that needs fine-tuning.

article reposted from the Beachbody Blog, written by Denis Faye


8 Tips to eat healthy on a budget

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Eating fresh, healthy, organic, local foods sounds great—but what if you’re on a budget? Maybe you dream of shopping at Whole Foods, but the cold, hard light of day finds you wheeling down the aisles at ShopRite®.

We feel your pain. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to eat well and actually save money in the process. Your shopping list isn’t going to include vegetarian, brown rice sushi rolls from the macrobiotic deli case, but trust us, you’ll live.

1. Don’t shop hungry!

How often do you swing by the market on your way home from work, tired and starving? While this seems like grandmotherly advice, it’s firmly rooted in current research; a new Cornell study shows that people who shop while hungry are more inclined to buy more calorically dense food. Keep a piece of fruit or a small Ziploc® bag full of raw nuts in your bag to guard against filling your cart with foods you’re craving now but wouldn’t buy on a full stomach.

2. Buy flash-frozen fruits, vegetables, and fish.

While any processing takes away from a food’s maximum nutritional value, flash freezing is a great way to preserve vitamins and minerals when vegetables and seafood are at their freshest. And the convenience of a bag of veggies or a filet of fish in the freezer can’t be beat. The price? For seafood, there’s no comparison: fresh is much more expensive—when you can get it at all. (If you check at your local grocer’s fish counter, you’ll find that much of what is being sold in the case as fresh has in fact been previously frozen.) Produce is trickier: frozen is sometimes, but not always, cheaper than fresh, in-season, fruits and vegetables.

3. Shop at your local farmers market.

This may surprise you, but it’s cheaper to get your veggies—organic or not—at the local farmers’ market than at the local supermarket. A 2011 study by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont is one of several around the country showing that farmers’ market prices are consistently lower than those of neighboring grocery stores. Who knew? So have a great time shopping with your neighbors and supporting local farmers, and be happy in the knowledge that you’re saving money too.

4. Stick to your list.

Don’t cave in to the snazzy packaging on the supermarket shelves. Make your meal plan and shopping list at home, and then stick to it. Here’s the exception: when you shop at the farmers’ market or local produce stand, sometimes a gorgeously fresh fruit or vegetable will stand out—one you hadn’t planned on. Build some flexibility into your list to account for these unanticipated treasures…just decide which meals you want to add them to before purchasing. A good rule of thumb is to stick absolutely to your list of pantry items, but give yourself some leeway with fresh, seasonal foods.

5. Eat lots of beans and always soak your own.

Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, and form the cornerstone of many world cuisines. And they’re dead cheap—if you buy them dried. Soaking your own beans is easy, though it does take more planning than opening a can of them. But it’s no big deal. Just decide the night before what you’re going to eat the next day. If a meal includes beans, then put them in a pot of water to soak and leave them overnight. In the morning, let them cook as you’re getting ready for the day.

6. Buy in bulk.

Costco® and other warehouse stores sell fruits and vegetables at ridiculously low prices—if you’re willing to buy, say, 15 pounds of potatoes or 8 pounds of oranges at a time. You’re in for some work at home, but at those prices, who’s complaining? Also, in many regions it is possible to pair up with another family or two and buy a portion of either a cow or a pig directly from a local farmer. In exchange, you will receive many, many neatly wrapped and labeled packages of meat. An extra freezer is necessary for this, but well worth the investment if you live in a region where such arrangements exist. Another huge benefit of this is that you know the animal was not raised on a factory feedlot. Therefore, the meat will likely be free from the steroids and antibiotics that plague grocery store bargain meat cuts.

7. Join a CSA.

Community Supported Agriculture is another way to save money by cutting out the middleman. With a CSA, you pay a flat fee up front. On the East Coast it’s typically $400-$500—for a whole growing season of produce! Every week you get a box of whatever came out of the farmer’s field. Like buying in bulk at warehouse stores, this calls for some time and creativity in the kitchen. In late summer, we sometimes freak out trying to figure out what to do with all those perfect, ripe tomatoes. What a problem to have!

8. Cut your consumption.

Over the last few decades, restaurant portions have become gargantuan, and we somehow seem to think that a platter of food is actually a single serving. Most restaurant entrées can easily feed two or three. So when you’re out, either share a single entrée, or get half boxed for another meal. And at home, serve smaller portions on smaller plates. It won’t take long at all before you’re satisfied with sensible portions!

article credit: The Beachbody blog by: Kim Kash

Do you currently own any Beachbody Fitness programs?*
Have you ever tried Shakeology?*
My coach is Abby Siler on Teambeachbody.com*
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This entry was posted in Food.

Zigzag Dieting

Zigzagging is the most powerful tool in your nutrition arsenal for adjusting your diet as your fitness or your goals change.

Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or just eat so that you perform at your best, the most effective tool to figure out how much you should be eating is known as zigzag dieting. Also referred to as “refeeding” in bodybuilding circles, it’s a technique I’ve been using for years.

Here’s how to zigzag diet: On 2-3 days of the week, eat the same number of calories you usually would. On the remaining 4-5 days, eat more (or less) calories. The general practice is 4 days of change and 3 days of remaining the same, but some prefer 5 and 2, or even changing daily as shown in the graph below. No matter which plan you follow, your body will tell you if it was a good idea by responding better (or worse) to your workouts. While it’s generally used to add calories (hence, “refeeding”), it works the same in both directions. Continue zigzagging up and/or down until you feel like you’re performing at your best.

Zig-Zagging aka Refeeding


How many more (or fewer) calories should you eat while zigzagging?

The bigger and more active you are, the higher number of calories you should add or subtract. Most people move in a 200-500 calories per day range (or more, as you can see in the image above, though that’s more of a deficit than I’d use unless I was well versed in it). Don’t get too caught up in the number. There’s nothing wrong with going too low, and then zigzagging again. Unlike yo-yo dieting, zigzagging won’t negatively affect your metabolism. Instead, if you pay attention to your workouts, and keep zigzagging until you’re nailing every workout, your body will respond by raising your metabolism to handle the stress and gaining or losing weight will become easier.


How zigzag dieting can break a plateau
Say, for example, you’re eating 1500 calories a day and you’ve lost weight. But, now your weight loss has stagnated. That’s because the new, fitter you has a different body composition than the former you. You have more muscle and a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR). In order to continue your weight loss you need to eat more, because 1500 calories isn’t enough and your body is reacting by slowing down your metabolism and releasing cortisol in a protective response (this is often called starvation mode because this is how your body would respond to being starved).

For the sake of this example, let’s say your run a calorie calculation and determine that you need to 2500 calories per day. (Here’s an article to help you figure out how many calories you should be eating.) You don’t want to jump straight to 2500 calories. First, it would cause some shock to your system and, second, it might be inaccurate, as those calculators only give ballpark figures. The most effective thing to do is to zigzag your caloric intake. In this instance, I would recommend eating 2000 calories per day 3-4 days per week and 1500 calories on the other days. Note how your body responds. My expectation is you’d feel good on the higher calorie days and famished on the lower calorie days.

You want to be energized but not hungry and not full. So, after a week or two, bump up your calories to around 2200 calories for 4-5 days and 1500 calories on 2 days. Do this for about a week. If I’m still starving on the low days, try bumping them up to 2000 and see how you respond. You can tell when you’re eating too many calories because you’ll begin to feel full, you won’t digest your food between meals, and you’ll feel more lethargic at the beginning of workouts.

Do you have questions about zigzag dieting? Let us know in the comments below.


article credit to beachbody blog by: Steve Edwards

Do you currently own any Beachbody Fitness programs?*
Have you ever tried Shakeology?*
My coach is Abby Siler on Teambeachbody.com*
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Mixed Food Container Counts

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“How do I count this food?” is by far the most often question I get asked by my 21 Day Fix challengers.  They’re so hungry for success (pun intended) that they want to do everything right: nail those container counts down to the crumb, make sure they’re doing workouts in the proper order, drinking Shakeology, and so on.

In an ideal 21 Day Fix world, how to measure food would be clear-cut, but some of the best recipes have a myriad of ingredients.  They’re healthy, contain Fix-approved foods, but seem impossible to know how to count.  I will tell you my strategy to measure mixed foods, as well as my coaching philosophy.

Learn to Fly

I want to give my challengers the tools to not just learn how to figure out container counts on their own but work towards a sustainable healthy lifestyle.   Instead of holding their hands all the way through their weight loss journey, I want to teach them to fly.  As a coach, this means teaching them to listen to your their body’s cues, the effects of macronutrients and how to select the best foods for them whether they’re on the 21 Day Fix foods list or not.

Keep in mind that this is a lifestyle.   The 21 Day Fix does a great job of teaching you the basics of clean eating, but you also have to live a little.  I’m not saying you should cheat a lot with your containers and foods you eat, because if you do you won’t see results, but rather don’t get worked up if you eat something that isn’t on the list or don’t nail the exact container.  Part of learning how to live within the parameters of clean eating long-term is a valuable lesson too.

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Serving Sizes

One of the reasons I don’t list container counts on all my recipes is simply that serving sizes vary according to how much of it you eat.  This may sound like a no-brainer, so let me explain.  I am a big proponent of eating according to your body’s cues.  If I’m hungry, I may eat more than when I’m not.  Some lunches I may eat half a green container, other days a container and a half.   If I tell you a serving size is one green container and that doesn’t fill you up, I have done a disservice.  Or, conversely, the same principle applies if you are eating more than you need to. I want my challengers to listen to their bodies.  I tell them to eat only when hungry, and stop when they’re satisfied.

It’s in The Book

Most of the questions my challengers ask are already covered in the 21 Day Fix Eating Plan book.  Be sure to read the book from cover to cover before you start.   Eventually the information inside will become second nature to you, but read it first so you know what information is already there.   Refer back to it frequently.  Not sure how to count things?  Pages 70-71 is KEY to understanding how to measure mixed foods and things not on the list.  This guideline was derived from those pages.


  • If possible, measure your foods in the containers before you mix and/or combine them.  If you’re making a salad, for example, measure the greens in the green container, seeds in the orange, dressing as teaspoons, and so on.  Then, divide the total container count by the number of servings your dish yields.   This is the easiest, most accurate way to count mixed foods.
  • According to the 21 Day Fix Mixed Food guide, most mixed foods are measured in the green container, regardless of whether or not it contains green container foods.  This equals one serving.  HOWEVER – This is only used to measure.  It does not necessarily mean you check off the green container.
  • Make note of the different types of foods your mixed food contains (red, blue, and so on).
  • If your mixed food contains flour/grain/starchy foods such as pasta or breads count TWO yellows instead of one.
  • Use mixed foods/container counts listed on 71 as as reference.  If what you are eating contains similar food groups, cross off corresponding containers.
  • It is acceptable to check off half or third of a container on your tally sheet

Clean Eating Turkey LasagnaEXAMPLES:

Let’s say you’re eating turkey lasagna.  Use your green container to measure your serving.  The main components of the dish are pasta (yellow), meat (red), and cheese (blue).  Cross off two yellows, one red and one blue.  Do not cross off a green container.

Next, let’s use red quinoa salad as an example.  Use your green container to measure your serving.  The main components of the dish are quinoa, chickpeas, and veggies.  This time, check off two yellow (for the quinoa and chickpeas), one orange for the dressing.  I consider the veggies in here a “freebie” and wouldn’t cross off a green.  Also, the feta in the salad is so minimal I wouldn’t count that either.

Bottom line, understand the process and use common sense.

Other Tools to Use

I highly recommend the Fooducate App to my challengers.  Its a great tool to use for analyzing nutrition, but also makes it easy to judge the food’s “healthy” quotient by giving it a letter grade from A to F.  For foods that are not on the 21 Day Fix foods list, anything with an A or A- rating (in my opinion) should also be on the “approved” list.  For example, greens like kelp, watercress and Swiss chard are not listed in the book, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them.  Sometimes a little common sense (along with a little research) is all you need to put into practice.

Feel Free to “Cheat”

Not sticking to the plan 100% is not necessarily a bad thing.  If your body is craving protein, you can and should eat that extra red container.  Whether a turnip or beet is a yellow or green doesn’t really matter.  Eat it.  It’s good for you.   In my opinion, there shouldn’t be a limit on greens.  The first thing I’d advise dropping to get over a plateau is a yellow.  If you are stuffed every day and not dropping weight, go down a calorie bracket.  Knowing when and how to shake up the plan is a good thing.  My point is this:  Your body intuitively knows what it needs.  Listen to it.

Use Common Sense

Keep this in mind:  Success with the program does not always mean following it to a T.  For my challengers, it means using the 21 Day Fix as a guideline to re-learn healthy habits and instill lifelong changes, and maintaining those changes.   I’d rather have them learn about food and nutrition, experiment on their own, and follow the 80/20 rule (following the plan 80% of the time, 20% winging it).   It’s much easier to figure out and maintain long-term.


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