Ask Andrea Q&A

Exercise is Not Necessary for Weight Loss

Too often we use not being able to exercise as an excuse to avoid making other healthy choices that benefit our health and weight loss goals. But the truth is, exercise is not required in order to lose weight or to be healthy. Read on for more…

Do you get frustrated or feel inadequate when you don’t exercise?

Do you use your inability to exercise as an excuse to make other choices that don’t allow you to reach your lifestyle goals?

If so, you are not alone. This is why I want you to know that you do not need to exercise to lose weight….or to be healthy.

“Exercise isn’t necessary for weight loss”

— Lloyd Stegemann, MD, FACS, FASMBS

There are many reasons we struggle with making exercise a part of our daily routine. Whether it’s a lack of available resources, lack of time, lack of energy, limited physical capabilities such as injuries, disabilities and autoimmune disorders, or even just a lack of motivation— MANY people find it hard to start and stick to a fitness routine.

If you read last week’s blog post, then you should remember what I shared with you about calories in vs. calories out. I talked about how our bodies use/store the foods we eat for energy and how to manage the food (fuel) we consume to lose weight, AKA: stored body fat.

So where does exercise fit into all of this?

Well, first let’s cover a potentially shocking statement: You do not need to exercise to lose weight. In fact, you don’t even need to exercise in order to be healthy at all!

Say what? Yes, I know. It sounds crazy but it’s true.

The body’s five requirements for survival are: Oxygen, hydration, fuel, rest, and shelter. That’s it. Nowhere on that list is exercise.  Sure exercise is good for us for many reasons, but it is not required in order to live. If that was the case, people couldn’t survive comas.

As for the weight loss part…again, crazy I know, exercise is not required. Why? Because in order to lose weight (burn stored body fat), all you have to do is create a calorie deficit, which can be done solely with food.

Now I’m not saying this to discourage you from exercising; quite the opposite in fact. Exercising has many benefits, especially for those of us who have sedentary jobs that keep us sitting in a chair behind a desk all day. Sitting at a desk all day is NOT healthy. Being up and moving and active, is.

A body in motion stays in motion“A body in motion stays in motion.”

I love the saying, “A body in motion stays in motion.” It’s a good one right?  A body that moves, and moves well is so much more capable of doing more things. The muscles stay strong, the joints stay lubricated, the heart and lungs are more efficient, the brain gets more oxygen, and the bones become more dense.

This motion doesn’t have to come from exercise though. It just has to come from movement. But remember, this is still not necessary for weight loss.

Again, I’m not saying this to discourage you from exercising. I do want you to exercise whenever possible…because it feels good!

What I don’t want you to do is use the excuse of not being able to exercise as an excuse to not make other choices that will benefit your health and result in weight loss, if that’s your goal. And I want you to feel confident that you can still reach your goals even if you aren’t able to exercise.

Not being able to exercise is not a reason to assume failure.

Too often we find reasons to procrastinate when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes, most commonly using the inability to exercise as an excuse.

“I don’t have time to exercise right now so I’ll start my ‘diet’ when my son’s soccer season is over.”

“I hurt my knee and can’t exercise right now, but I plan to get back on the wagon when it’s feeling better.”

“I’m too tired to exercise these days. I’ll start my new diet and exercise program as soon as I find a new job”

“I have arthritis and can’t exercise, so what’s the point?”

“I can’t find the motivation to exercise. I just want to eat cookies. What’s wrong with me?”

Regardless of your reason for not exercising, it’s important to know and BELIEVE (because it’s true) that you DO NOT need to exercise in order to lose weight.

exercise is not required to get a body you loveSo if you’re feeling defeated before you even get started, if you’re feeling guilty because you didn’t have time to get to the gym today, or if you’re too tired and didn’t have the energy to move, DO NOT let these reasons keep you from making other choices that will allow you to feel your best– physically, mentally and emotionally; choices that will still allow you to reach your goals without ever stepping foot in a gym.

Remember those five things your body needs– Oxygen, Hydration, Fuel, Rest, Shelter.

Meet your body’s 5 requirements first and foremost so your body can do it’s job of keeping you alive.

Then when you’re ready, able and willing, get your butt moving and take advantage of all of the benefits of exercise to feel your best.

Until then, no guilt, remorse, or shame. No procrastination. No feelings of defeat. Take pride in knowing that you are doing your best. And remember that your best is going to change from day to day, moment to moment.

Love yourself for who you are, where you and get excited about who you are becoming. 

Do These Four Things to Get Motivated for Good

Do you find it impossible to “get motivated?” You’re not alone! Let me show you how to get motivated for good!

First let’s look at the definition of “motivation.”

  1. 1a :  the act or process of motivating b :  the condition of being motivated

  2. 2:  a motivating force, stimulus, or influence :  incentive, drive

Notice that the definition doesn’t mention anything about actually DOING the act as a response to the idea of motivation. That’s because motivation is not ACTING, motivation is simply a reason for wanting something. It’s something we think and feel because something else affects us.
Motivation is REASON, NOT ACTION. You have can lots of reasons for wanting things without the desire to ACT.
A weird analogy for you: We are motivated to go to the bathroom by the signal our bladder sends to our brain, but that motivation isn’t action– in that moment we can choose to get up and go, stay there and wait until the motivation is stronger, or sit there and pee our pants.
Diet, and exercise, and weight loss are no different. We can be motivated all day long, feeling the urge to change our eating habits, move more, eat better, lose weight, etc., all with good reason (motivation) all while taking no action at all. Not because we don’t want to, but because the urge to act hasn’t hit us yet.
The exception between being motivated to pee and being motivated to lose weight (or create a lifestyle change) is that we don’t sit around stressing about whether or not we should pee. We’re not watching TV, sitting our desk, driving in our car, thinking, “I should go pee.” Unless of course we have to pee.
But with diet, and exercise, and weight loss, we constantly think about what we should be doing, what we’re doing wrong, how we need to do things differently without taking any action at all. We ARE in fact motivated, we do have ideas and even reason, but instead of spending our energy doing what we want/need to do (get up and go pee) we sit there stressing about it until we pee our pants…and then we sit there feeling bad, wishing we had just gotten up and gone to the bathroom, wanting a change of clothes, but…?

In my personal and professional opinion, “motivation” is a dumb word to associate with diet, exercise, and weight loss. It’s a word we use to make ourselves feel bad. “I just can’t find the motivation.” “How do I get motivated?” Like being motivated is the magical answer to all things perfect. It is an unfortunate expectation that we put on ourselves– whether by our own doing or others.

The truth about motivation is that is happens naturally when you’re ready, just like when you have to pee. The more you stress about not being motivated the worse it gets. It’s part of the guilt/shame/remorse/diet/fail/repeat cycle.

If you want to create change then you ARE in fact motivated, you just need to figure out how to use that motivation (your reason) to start doing, rather than wishing, hoping, thinking, praying and wanting.

Before I go any further I want you to know that it’s OKAY be motivated (want, wish, hope, pray, etc.) without taking action. It’s okay to be where you are RIGHT NOW, even if it’s not where you want to be. Loving yourself and your life for who, what and where you are right now is the only way to move forward because you have to get through the right now, in order to get to the future. Okay?

“Okay, Andrea! Sheesh! I get it. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and…”

Yes, exactly! Alright so now let’s talk about taking action.


How to move from Motivation to Action

Action is something that happens when our motivation is backed by a strong “why?” Meaning we can clearly define WHY what we want is important to us, and more so, that our WHY is compelling enough to ignite action.

Just to reiterate one more time: Wanting and doing are two totally different things. Wanting something is just an idea, doing something is taking action. It’s okay to want things without being willing (ready) to take action. When you’re ready, you’ll know.

Whether you’re ready now or waiting patiently to get ready, here’s what I want you to remember…

1) You must believe that change is possible.

No matter how many times you feel like you’ve failed in the past, IT IS POSSIBLE! We cannot approach change expecting to succeed if we already feel defeated and deflated. So let go of the past, without it, you wouldn’t be where you are today, and today that person (you) is ready for change.

2) You must be excited about your goal.

Excitement is what’s going to keep you going when it gets hard…and it will get hard. Some people think that excitement is motivation. Sometimes pure excitement does create action– but excitement waxes and wanes so you can’t depend purely on excitement to keep you moving forward. You have to be excited FOR change, not just because of it. In those moments, days, weeks and sometimes even months when exciting things aren’t happening, be excited about the future.

3) You must be willing to make sacrifices and change priorities– time, money, foods you love, comfort, etc.

You know the old saying, “we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!” And it’s SO true. You’re going to have to change things– a lot of things, not at once, but over time. It might be sacrificing time spent in the break room, watching your favorite soap while eating lunch, to go for a walk instead. It might be asking a friend to take the kids to gymnastics so you can do some meal prep. It might be sacrificing your favorite coffee drink every morning because it doesn’t really add value to your goals. It might mean sacrificing that coffee drink so you can  put that money towards a more nutritious lunch that costs a bit more than what you’re used to.

Making sacrifices doesn’t mean deprivation. It means making changes that are a reflection of your change in priorities because you are creating change in your life.

This takes practice. But when we do it with the belief that change is possible, excitement about the future and with joy in our hearts, these sacrifices and changes in priorities are actually quite empowering and feel less like work and more like progress.

4) You must be willing to do the hard work.

The truth is that true change takes time and it’s not easy. There will be many ups and downs, ebbs and flows, struggles and victories– but they are ALL part of establishing lifelong success that no longer requires “finding motivation” because the idea, the want, the wish, the hope, the prayer, the desire, THE REASON…has become a reality.

This is your life!  Creating change IS hard!  It takes time, and patience, and tenacity! But I promise it will be worth it.

Why Do We Eat?

WHY WE EAT- Types of Hunger

Understanding the difference between true physical hunger, the not-so-true head-hunger, and all those mad cravings we sometimes get, is vital to making food (fuel) choices that benefit our mind, body and soul in order to live our best, happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life!

In this post I will teach you how to identify the difference and what to do when you experience the three most common reasons for eating food.

First of all, it’s important to understand that eating food is not a bad thing, even those that aren’t exactly beaming with nutritional value.  All food is fuel, whether it’s used (burned) immediately for energy, or stored as fat to be used for energy later, your body needs fuel, and you need to eat. Period.

For those of us who struggle with our weight, the main culprit tends to be WHY we eat. Of course what we eat and how much we eat are very important too, but those issues are much simpler to solve once we tackle the issue of WHY.

People eat for three main reasons:

  1. We are actually hungry
  2. We convince ourselves we’re hungry, also known as “head hunger” usually out of boredom, habit, or an emotional response
  3. Something triggers a craving

Now there’s also a fourth reason– eating disorders such as Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or the extreme and very rare: Prader-Willi Syndrome. These topics are out of my scope and should be treated by a healthcare professional.


why-am-i-hungryHow to identify the difference between the 3 main reasons we eat

The only way to know the difference between real hunger, head hunger, and a craving is to stop and think about what you want and why you want it.

True Physical Hunger

  • It will have been at least a couple of hours since you last ate, or there will have been some significant, vigorous activity since your last meal.
  • Your stomach will be growling and feel uncomfortable.
  • You might feel a little weak.
  • Your brain will be foggy, and the apple sitting on counter will call to you.
  • You’re not bored, tired, avoiding a task (procrastinating) or simply thinking, seeing, smelling, or talking about something that is delicious.

If all or most of these are true, then you’re experiencing true hunger. You will eat that apple and feel satisfied. It may not fill you up, but it will be enough to satiate you for a while until you’re able to eat an actual meal.

If all or most of these are true and all you can think is, “Oh my gawd! I need to eat some food! Where can I find some food? Any food will do! I NEED FOOD!” Then you’re probably too hungry and should have eaten sooner.

Allowing yourself to get too hungry can put you and your body in panic mode, making you believe that you need foods that are high in sugar and fat– this is not a lack of willpower. Wanting sugar and fat when we’re too hungry is the body’s natural response to needing quick and lasting fuel because the body is super efficient at using sugar for energy and storing fat as fat for future use.

Staying in control of your hunger level is key to making food choices that allow you to feel good: physically, mentally and emotionally.

Head Hunger

  • Head hunger is just that. It’s hunger that is coming from your brain rather than your body.
  • Head hunger occurs shortly after a meal, or at least not far enough after to actually NEED food, and you’ll know it.
  • When you’re bored
  • When you’re overly tired
  • When you’re avoiding a task you really don’t want to do.
  • Out of habit– dessert, the afternoon trip to the vending machine, the morning stop at Starbucks
  • You might even find yourself saying, “I know I shouldn’t be hungry right but good gawd I want (you might even say ‘need’) ______ right now!”
You may convince yourself not to jump up and get that candy bar right then and there, knowing that you don’t actually need it, but you’ll likely sit there obsessing over it until you can’t take it anymore and before you know it, there’s an empty wrapper on your desk and you’re slouched over in your chair, groaning with discomfort, feeling a little nauseated. Not feeling good physically at all, and probably not feeling too good mentally or emotionally either– full of regret, remorse, guilt, and shame. This is no bueno.

Head hunger can be hard to manage because our brains can convince our bodies to “feel” what we think is true hunger. We might even get some hunger pangs or a feeling of panic that tells us we must eat, especially if we’re stressed or feeling anxious about something. In those cases the best thing to do is get up, walk away, and focus on breathing.

In those moments the body doesn’t actually need food, it needs comfort. Comfort comes from knowing that we’re okay. The number requirement for the body to survive is oxygen, so give it what it really wants (NEEDS) and breathe.


Cravings can be tricky, as some are real and some are really just head hunger.  It all depends on what’s triggering them. A craving brought on by true physical hunger or a nutrient deficiency is our body’s way of telling us exactly what it needs, be it fuel or specific vitamins and minerals. Typically, if you’re craving meat, or a fruit or vegetable, you’re experiencing a true physical craving and your body is telling you, “I need _____!”

However, cravings are most often caused by other stimuli such as seeing something that looks good, smelling something that looks good or even just thinking or talking about something that is good.

Example: An argument over which is better, New York or Chicago style pizza can instantly make you crave pizza.

When this happens it’s up to you to decide how to handle it. Cravings can become overwhelming and create the ugliest kind of head hunger– I NEED TO EAT ALL OF THE PIZZA RIGHT NOW! Or they can subside. It all depends on how you manage them.

I find that acknowledging the craving, telling myself that I can have ____ whenever I want, without stipulations, is the best way to deal with it. For instance, in the example given above, I’d say to my friend, “Ooh! We should go for pizza on Friday for lunch!” Then, if we do, great, if we don’t eh, I’m sure I’ll have it soon anyway.

Cravings are often made worse by denying them. Cravings are normal and they are okay. Having them isn’t bad and indulging them doesn’t equal failure.

Be honest with yourself. Listen to your body. And never beat yourself up if you make a choice or decision that wasn’t best for your lifestyle goals. Just acknowledge it, ask yourself what you can do differently in the future, commit that to memory, and move on.

Eat foods that make you feel good– physically, mentally and emotionally. Always. And remember that sometimes that is a piece of chocolate cake, and that’s okay!

Love yourself for who and what you are right now, and get excited about where you’re going!

There’s lots more I could say on this topic, but that will have to wait for another post. <3

Ask Andrea: What do you do about loose skin and chafing?

headshotREADER ASKS: Any tips on how to combat the itch and irritation from skin rubbing against skin? I find the compression wear makes it all the worse.

ANDREA’S ANSWER: I get asked this question a lot. In fact, it’s probably the most common question next to “I’m stuck! How do I break my plateau?”

The crazy thing is, is that I have never experience this problem. It could be because I don’t have as much of a “flap” as others (though I most definitely have one!) or it could be that I have found the magic answer and just never knew it…because I don’t experience the problem…yeah? I’m going to go with the latter, as this is the response I got from one reader who I checked back with after telling her my solution: “Seamless boy shorts with the wicking away feature under compression wear gets a two thumbs up!”  She had been experiencing extreme irritation during the summer months that was affecting her workouts. Problem solved!

Imperfect Life - 07So here’s what works for me– I wear non-cotton boy shorts EVERY TIME I work out and I only wear Athletics 8 Compression Wear (if you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know all about my love for them! 15% off with code “imperfectlife” at checkout) I believe that the design of the boy shorts coupled with the sucked-in-ness of the REAL compression wear (I’m not talking about Old Navy or Target or other popular “compression” here) keeps my skin from touching/rubbing on itself OR fabric. The boy shorts  come down low and sort of tuck under the flap while still coming down to the top of the leg. You can kind of tell in this picture what I’m talking about. And the compression holds it all in place. Read more about that HERE!

I bought these boy shorts at Target and love them. I don’t have any discount codes for them but I highly recommend these or any others like them, like Jockey’s version found HERE.

I know that this seems like a pricey option but will change your workout experience. This isn’t just about chafing. It’s about feeling TIGHT, compressed AND improving circulation. It will prevent you from feeling like THIS and aid in recovery time from tough workouts. Just buy ONE pair. Just one! That’s all you need. You can wash them over and over and over again. I just throw mine in with whatever I’m washing. I even put them in the dryer too!  I wear them to swim, hike, and even just to hang out with friends if I know we’re going to do something active.

There are lots of products on the market- like sticks and creams and powders but those eventually rub off. This solution never has to be applied. And as long as you don’t have a habit of losing your clothes, you won’t need to replace it for a LONG time!


Ask Andrea: Not Enough Calories Causing My Plateau?

READER ASKS: Hey I was wondering if I could ask you a question, I am 9 months out from surgery and I’m having a real hard time finding the sweet spot of working out and eating the right amount of food.  If I push myself I might get in 1000 calories a day but I am almost positive I am working out too much and going into starving mood and that’s why I’m not losing like I should but I don’t want to stop moving.

I was thinking about cutting my cardio in half and upping my weights a little does this sound like a good idea? Do you have any ideas what direction I should go? Yes I know you’re not a professional but to talk to someone who has been there might be helpful.

ANDREA’S ANSWER: Although I’m a certified personal trainer, I am not a nutritionist so I hesitate to give nutrition advice. I always recommend that my readers consult a medical profession about diet changes but it seems to me that if you’re concerned about not getting enough calories, you should eat more calories.

When I need to eat more calories I increase my fat intake because it’s the easiest way to do that. Fat has 9 calories per gram, versus carbs and protein which only have 4 calories per gram.

Most importantly, be patient. Even with weight loss surgery there are plateaus and the further out you get, the slower the loss. Stay focused on fitness and your body will take you where you want to go.

It took me 1 year to lose my first 100lbs and 2 years to lose the other 65lbs to get to my goal weight of 165lbs.  It certainly took longer than I had hoped (and expected) but going through the process was worth the extra time.

headshot<3 Andrea

Ask Andrea: Do you think WLS is right for me?

headshotFrom:  A Reader

“Andrea, I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog and I feel empowered. I have been married to a soldier for three years now […]  I have been struggling with weight gain and loss since I have been married I went from a size 12 at 190 to 18 at 255. I too have struggled with PCOS and I believe that has A LOT to do with my weight not losing and everything else. Do you think surgery would benefit someone who is 24 yrs old wanting to possibly conceive and not end in miscarriages, to have a better life? I just want to make a change. Any insight would be awesome! thanks”

My (long-winded…imagine that!) Response:

“Thanks for your email.  I hate that you are going through all of this.  Stupid PCOS!  I totally get it.  The frustration and emotional drain that come with that stupid disorder suck total and complete ASS!  I don’t know if what I’m about to share with you will help make your decision any easier but I hope that it will encourage you to consider some things that you may not have thought about yet.  This is only my person opinion and since I don’t know you personally I can only share with you what I’ve learned about myself, so here it goes…

While I believe I made the right decision for me at the time that I made it, I do have some regrets.  I think it is a very personal choice, one that requires A LOT of consideration.  The weight loss is, of course, completely life changing- I feel better and look better and I am able to do so much more than I was ever able to do but it has come with a price.

Since I started sharing my story with others I have met many women who have had a lot of success—you don’t really have much of a choice for the first year or so, as there’s only so much you can eat.  The weight comes off almost effortlessly- your body changes quickly and you glow in the feeling of finally achieving something that once seemed impossible—this is what people refer to as the “honeymoon period.”  Just like a marriage, it’s easy at first but as time goes on you quickly realize that you’re not just playing house, there are bills to pay and chores to be done in order to be successful.

I’m sure you’ve heard this a dozen times but I’ll say it anyway, weight loss surgery is not a cure-all and requires a life-long commitment to a healthy lifestyle.  Yes, you will look better and feel better, like a whole new person pretty quickly but that only lasts as long as you are willing to do the work– by changing your diet and being more active.  I think this where a lot of people…I don’t want to use the word “fail” but it’s where they find themselves back where they started, or at least not where they THOUGHT they had finished.

I truly believe that those who are successful are the ones who go into the process with LIFESTYLE goals in mind not just a size, weight or occasion.  I would classify having a baby in “occasion” category.  I have seen women have the surgery and lose most, if not all of the weight, only gain much of it back during pregnancy and then find themselves struggling physically and mentally once the baby is born.  I’m by no means saying this will happen to you but I think it is very important to be aware of this when making a “forever” decision.  Unfortunately, the habits we created during our weight gain don’t just go away- even though they feel like they do for a short period of time shortly following surgery they somehow rear their ugly heads and force us to really DEAL with them.  I remember saying shortly after my surgery that I finally “felt” like a skinny person- no longer controlled by food but in recent months I have noticed those feelings of wanting/needing food for reasons other than just fuel have been sneaking in– eating foods just because they are available or because they taste good or…whatever other reason my MIND decides it wants to eat.  These are habits that I THOUGHT I had been cured of but I was wrong and so now I have a choice- I can give into them and go back to my old ways or I can show them who’s boss and tell them to suck it.  So far I am succeeding at the latter—most days…and I have faith that as long as I continue doing what I’m doing that eventually my new habits will outweigh the old ones in at least a 2:1 ratio!

I often say that if I knew two years ago what I know now—not just intellectually but personally, about myself, what I’m capable of and how NOT to give up, I may not have had to resort to such a drastic solution.  Although I am extremely grateful for the results I have been able to achieve, I recognize that the surgery is just a small part of it.

I give credit to the surgery for giving me the hope I needed in order to feel like I could finally be successful. The surgery got me past the hump of several plateaus during the first year- if  I hadn’t had the surgery I would have given up after the first stall…like I had so many times before.  But because I was only capable of eating small amounts of food I couldn’t physically “give up.”  However, these days, now that I am almost two years post-op, every workout, every meal, every day is a choice—and harder ones to make when I am experiencing the all-too-common plateau.  I have to CHOOSE to stay focused on living a healthy, active lifestyle—some days are easier than others.  There are many days when I think to myself, “I’m done.  This is too hard.  It’s too much work. I’d rather sleep, lay on the couch all day and stop caring about what I eat.”  Sometime those days win but MOST days I’m able to kick my own butt and remember where I was, where I am now and how much better my life is because of the positive choices that I make.

However, because I am ONLY two years post-op, I still have a lot to prove to myself about the longevity of this lifestyle.  I live with what I consider to be a healthy amount of fear of going back to being uncomfortable in my body and not being able to do the things I am able to do these days- that fear keeps me in check but doesn’t overwhelm me to the point of feeling stressed or overwhelmed by every little choice I make on a daily basis.  What I’ve learned is that long-term weight loss success, a TRUE lifestyle change, takes time and is far more emotional and mental than I ever imagined. 

I am by no means trying to talk to you out of having weight loss surgery.  Having gastric bypass was the absolute best decision for me at the time and if I had to do it again, I probably would.  I just think that it is extremely important to make sure that it is the absolute last resort.  The potential complications, risk factors, life-long sacrifices (like not drinking with meals, avoiding alcohol, possible dumping syndrome with certain foods, etc.) are very real and must be considered when making this life-changing decision.  It’s also EXTREMELY important to realize that when you choose surgery (or any other weight loss plan) that it is absolutely necessary to commit to making FOREVER lifestyle choices; keeping in mind that these choices are foreign to most of us when we are significantly overweight (that’s how we got there in the first place, right?!) so we have LEARN a whole new way of living.

What it boils down to is that the IDEA of losing weight is fun and exciting- just like the idea of having a baby.  LOSING the actual weight, especially with weight loss surgery, due to the drastic results within the first few months IS fun and exciting, just like having a baby…but eventually the fun and excitement turns into work,  work that lasts a lifetime…kind of like having a baby!  🙂

Crap!  I should also mention that my periods are completely regular now which leaves me to assume that I ovulate but I haven’t done any testing to be sure.  I am not trying to conceive so I’m not sure if my fertility issues have cleared up but as far as the PCOS symptoms go, the weight loss has DEFINITELY had a HUGE effect.  I do still struggle with facial hair but that could be due to my Italian genes. HA!

Ask Andrea: Tips for preparing for a race after WLS?

From Becca:

“Hey there…love your posts and your challenges..question for you if you don’t mind. I am running my first 5k this Saturday. Wondering if you had any tips for eating the day of? I had bypass too and wonder how best to pre-fuel and hydrate.”

To Becca:

Depending on your fitness level a 5k will likely take less than an hour to complete so you probably don’t need to do anything super special or different than you would for a normal workout or run. And if the weather is cooler you won’t have the heat to contend with–this makes a HUGE difference! So if your race is on a Saturday just be sure to drink plenty of water Thursday and Friday to make sure you’re well hydrated and then eat something that will sustain you for an hour of activity about an hour before the race starts.

pre race meal snackI like to eat a rice cake with natural peanut butter and half of a banana about 30 minutes to an hour before. That gives me some slow burning carbs, quick burning carbs and protein.

I’ve found that if I do anything with soy crisps that I feel like I’m going to poop my pants about halfway through– it’s a terrible feeling. I wouldn’t recommend anything too heavy, greasy or dairy-y (i just made up that word). I don’t do bread, so for me bread is off limits and oats (pre-workout) tend to make me feel the same way as the crispy soy stuff.

Basically, eat something that will sit well, fill you up but not make you too full and do it at least 30 minutes before the start time but not more than an hour before. They will probably have water stations at each mile so you shouldn’t need to worry about water on the course but if they don’t, you may want to wear a hydration belt or camelback– I always do this because I’m always thirsty when I run/workout and since I can’t chug due to gastric bypass surgery, it allows me to sip as needed.


You will probably be STARVING when it’s over so make sure you have something like a banana waiting for you at the end!

Keep it REAL!


What's Wrong with Sugar Free?

You may have noticed that the tagline on my blog is “Real Food. Real Fitness. Real Life.”  I chose this tag line because it truly represents what I stand for; my philosophy on and for living a healthy lifestyle.

The most important part of the tag line to me is “Real Food.”  Food is necessary for survival!  Fitness and life aren’t even possible without food so even though I’m a fan of Real Fitness and love my Real Life, for today, let’s talk about “Real Food” since A) it’s the most important aspect of life and B) it’s something I am truly passionate about!

Now you maybe be thinking to yourself, “WHAT?!  It’s the most important aspect of life?!  Is she crazy?  What about family, religion, friends, happiness, fulfillment?!”  Yeah, those things are important too but remember what I said above:  food is necessary for survival.  Next to oxygen and water, food is next on the list in order for us to live, so contrary to the beliefs of many of us who have struggled with our weight, or those who THINK we should not be food obsessed because it’s what made or will make us fat, food should absolutely be a huge priority.  But here’s the thing;  we must obsess over REAL food.  Food that nourishes our bodies; not food that just fills our stomach or satisfies our cravings.

“But Andrea, I follow you on facebook!   I see what you eat!  It always looks SO good! I subscribe to your blog!  I read ALL of your recipes!  I’ve made every single one of them!  They are all the most amazing foods I have ever eaten!  Ever in forever!”

Yes, yes, I know, I know…I have impeccable taste, I’m so glad you agree!  I’m also incredibly charming and talented and hysterically funny, right?!  HA!

Okay, so on to the topic at hand…

“Real Food” is just that.  It’s food made from real ingredients, not chemicals.  To me, “Real Food” is food not prepacked, chemical laden, overly processed, pre-prepared, LABELED food.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “Real food doesn’t require labels.” It’s hard to argue with that!

Now of course this doesn’t mean that everything I make comes home from the farmers market, straight out of the ground and off the side of the cow in a reusable sack.  I do buy things like cheese and yogurt which are processed and packaged.  I eat things like soy sauce and worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, all which come out of a bottle.  All three of those things come with labels!  But what you’ll never see in any of my recipes is an ingredient labeled “sugar free”.  For instance, I do not use sugar free BBQ sauce, instead I make my own with tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar and seasonings.  I use REAL sugar but since I am making it from scratch (which doesn’t take any time at all) I can control the amount of sugar I put in it making it naturally low in sugar without artificial sweeteners.

I don’t use sugar free pudding or jello or syrups to make desserts, instead I use almond flour and small amounts of real sugar, honey or maple syrup to make treats.  I do not add sugar free protein powder to my desserts to increase the protein content and justify eating something that otherwise has no nutritional value.  I don’t drink my meals or trade real protein, fruits and vegetables for bars that are designed by scientists.  I buy, prepare and eat REAL FOOD!

“Why, Andrea?  Why are you SO against things labeled sugar free?!”

No Sugar Free

I am against sugar free labeled product for two reasons.  The first reason is one I already mentioned- because they are made with chemicals.  And the second reason…wait, before I go any further I should mention that the protein shakes that I drink for muscle recovery are made with sucralose (Splenda) and that I occasionally have a diet soda…remember this is “I’mperfect Life” not “I’m Perfect All The Time and My Sh!t Don’t Stink”.  That being said, these are my two major exceptions.  I do not drink sugar free flavored water- although I’m not opposed to it and don’t pass judgement if that’s what people need in order to stay hydrated.

Now is probably a good time to mention that I do not judge ANYONE who includes sugar free foods in their diet, I’m simply sharing MY thoughts and opinions on the matter.

Moving on.

The second reason for avoiding “sugar free”–

My biggest problem with “sugar free” is that it not only enables unhealthy eating habits but it encourages it.  When you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, eating foods that hold no nutritional value is simply a waste of calories…even if it’s low calorie.  As a post op weight loss surgery patient, you know that you only have a limited amount of room in your tummy, right?  Even if you’re not a post op, there’s still only so much you can eat in one day- so WHY would you fill your stomach, normal sized or teeny tiny, with fake food?  To me, the whole point of getting healthy and/or going so far as to have your guts rearranged in order to lose weight is to change your lifestyle!  This means feeding your body what it NEEDS rather than what your brain WANTS.  Making “cake” with sugar free ingredients does not make it healthy.  And adding protein powder to said cake does not actually add real nutritional value.  Seriously.  (I will try to save most of my protein rant for a separate blog)

Making sugar free desserts can and will, in my opinion, lead you right back to where you started. It makes it far too easy to justify eating crap, excusing it as low calorie, low carb or sugar free and will take up valuable tummy real estate preventing you from eating the foods that are actually good for you.

I could be wrong but if you’re anything like me this could be a problem scenario:

You get home from running errands and you are starving! (because you didn’t have your car-snack-pack handy)  When you walk in the door are you going to open the fridge, pull out your veggies and chicken to make yourself a salad?  Or are you going to grab a piece of sugar-free cake that’s sitting on the counter?  Or worse, will you just eat it right out of the pan with a fork because, “why dirty a plate?”

I have been guilty of this many times.  This kind of behavior is what helped me get to 325lbs.  Sugar free or not, eating that cake will do nothing for your body except satisfy your hunger pangs and wreak havoc on your endocrine system.  Eating that cake will mess with your blood sugar, creating the same insulin response as if you had eaten REAL cake.   This means that even though you’re saving yourself from the CALORIES of real sugar in that first piece, you’re still jacking up your blood sugar only to make it plummet which will cause more cravings leading to more cake, leading to more calories, more chemicals, more insulin and more cravings!  A vicious cycle of overeating and not nourishing your body!  This is no bueno!

The same thing goes for sugar free pudding, jello, whipped topping, candy and those flavored syrups that are so popular in the WLS community.  A recipe that is WLS “friendly” could actually be your worst enemy!

My point is: eat REAL FOOD.  Avoid foods that are labeled sugar free.  Understand that “sugar free” does not mean healthy and that it certainly does not mean “free for all”.  I would encourage you to avoid ALL packaged foods labeled “sugar free” but if that’s a no-go for you then please at least be aware of what and how much you’re consuming.  Don’t fall into the “diet-food” craze of the 1990’s that made us all fat.

Nourish your body with REAL food and enjoy a splurge every now and then of something you truly enjoy, not just something that’s “allowed” on your diet because it’s sugar free.

Even if you are a WLS post op and dump when you eat sweets, don’t use that as an excuse to eat chemical-laden crap.  Make something like these bad boys that will not only be a sweet treat but will also provide real nutrients for your body without the insulin dump that perpetuates the cycle of overeating.

This rant has been brought to you by I’mperfect me.

Do you: strongly agree, agree, are neutral, disagree or strongly disagree?   Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below or on facebook.




What's the best detox or cleanse?

I get asked, “What’s the best detox or cleanse?”  A LOT.  And my answer is always the same….

There are two schools of thought on cleanses, I do not have an opinion either way as I have not tried a “paid for cleanse” but will be trying one in September- so maybe I’ll have an opinion then.  To be honest, I am torn about it and am quite reluctant to PAY for supplements to “cleanse” my body but I figure it’s better to try– it’s not like I have much to lose, except maybe a TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS!  Yeah, that’s pretty steep.  (this also doesn’t mesh well with my, “everyone’s trying to sell you something” thoughts on diets and supplements and gimmicks, theory)  I will spare you that rant for today, yay!

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse

So here it is- the two schools of thought on detoxes and/or cleanses

1) If our livers are healthy a “cleanse” is not necessary. the best way to get your liver healthy is to eat “clean” –lots of fresh fruits and veg, fiber, limit animal fats, NO trans fats, no processed foods, no refined sugar, no processed grains, if any at all. beans are up in the air depending no who you ask.  Because our livers are there to filter crap a “paid for cleanse” is a waste of money.  If you change your diet your liver will do the work for FREE!  

2) “Paid for cleanses” work. They flush your liver and clean out your guts.  They can be a good jump start for changing your diet to a cleaner, healthier plan.

So here’s my AS-OF-TODAY opinion, having not tried a “paid for cleanse”:

Personally, I have had good success with with just cutting the crap and eating REAL food- the foods I mentioned above. When I did a 10 day detox cleanse I didn’t lose a bunch of weight on the scale but I did lose body fat and inches.  For me it was a good experience that helped me feel healthier physically and mentally.  You can read about that experience HERE.

I’m not a fan of supplements.  I believe in eating REAL food (hence the tag line of my blog!) and believe that our bodies have evolved to keep us healthy as long as we do our part by feeding them what they need in order to do their jobs.  You can’t put leaded fuel into an unleaded fuel engine and then throw in some fuel injector cleaner and expect it to run like a Prius– it should be mentioned here that I know nothing about cars but you get my point.

Perhaps a better analogy:  You wouldn’t spend 10 days scrubbing your house only to host a mud wrestling party in your living room, so don’t pay boatloads of money for cleanse and detox supplements if you’re planning to  feed your body garbage when it’s over– you’ll just be throwing your money away. Eat real food, drink lots of water and a detox cleanse will never be necessary.

That’s my opinion.

For now.

I reserve the right to change my mind if  the “paid for cleanse” I’m planning for September totally blows my mind. 🙂

I’m sure you’ll here all about it, just be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the post!

Peace out.


Avoiding Drive Thru Fast Food

Snacks to Keep in the Car



  • Single Serving Packets of Nuts
  • Beef Jerky
  • Mini Cliff Bars
  • Protein Powder Pre Portioned in Snack Bags
  • Protein Bars

I am usually very good about eating.  In fact, I eat a lot…not a lot, but often.  There are many schools of thought on this but I’ve found that if I eat a little something, like a handful of nuts or a Babybel Cheese Round with an apple at the earliest sign of hunger, I’m much more likely to make good choices.  If I wait until I’m full-on hungry I will do pretty much the opposite, especially if I’m not at home where I only have healthy options.

Even if I’m out I can USUALLY still make a decent choice- Run into a gas station and grab a pack of nuts or find a Jimmy John’s and get an “Unwich” if I need a full meal but there was one time when I found myself in a HUGE predicament…

I panicked and ate McDonalds. I hate McDonalds.  This is not a judgement on anyone likes McDonalds, though you should know that their food is not real food- I just really HATE  their food…or what they call “food”.


It was after the NKOTB concert in 2014 (yes, I went and YES IT WAS AWESOME!)  My friend and I had gone to “dinner” before the show and had a pretty horrible dining experience- I ended up eating 6 bites of steak and some salad with olive oil and SnP. I made a good choice and didn’t use the excuse of “being social” to indulge. But by the time the concert was over and I was on my way home it was 11:55 and I was feeling like I was going to fall asleep at the wheel and I was STARVING.

I knew that the only two places open between where I had dropped off my friend and where I lived were two (that’s right TWO) McDonalds so I told myself I would just have to wait till I got home.

I was SOOOOO tired, like not-safe-to-drive tired, stupid, I know. I was following a car in front of me who was using the high beams (I was on a dark 2-lane hwy) and was trying to keep with them to help me stay focused and awake and SAFE when all of a sudden they turned into McDonalds.  I had no choice but to follow them…RIGHT? Eh.

At that point I knew that if I didn’t follow them I would be alone on the road, not safe, plus I was still starving so I followed them in figuring if I lost them at least I would have food and eating would help me stay awake AND make me not feel like my stomach was eating itself.

I pulled up to the order thingy and the girl said, “Welcome to McDonalds, would you like to try our Habanero Quarter Pounder?” I just stared at the menu for like 30 seconds but couldn’t focus or think or make a decision- like I was completely in a daze, so I just said yes…and then followed it up with. “make it a meal.”

I was SO tired that I couldn’t decide which was better for me, a burger or fries…so I got both AND a Sprite. Duh.

I ended up eating about 3/4 of the burger FAST and about 8 fries and took 2 sips of the Sprite. It was AWFUL!  When I got home I thought about spinning in circles to see if I could make myself throw up in my yard but I didn’t have the energy so I went to bed.

I vowed NEVER to let that happen again so I bought a bunch of prepackaged nuts and put them in a plastic container along with a couple protein bars and two packets of protein powder to keep in my car AT ALL TIMES!

It’s not that I’m completely anti-fast food.  I eat it occasionally.  But I DO NOT want to eat it ever again just because I don’t have any other choice.  It was a terrible, horrible, bizarre feeling.

What are your favorite keep-in-the-car snacks?