Author: Paige Waehner

The Virus Isn’t The Only Thing That’s Contagious – Our Energy Is Too

I. Hate. Electronics.

There. I said it.

I know the world is a dumpster fire right now, so I won’t go on too long about how technologically awful things have been lately.

​​​​Just a recap: My computer crashed on a major project I was working on before I saved it.

Had to start all over.

It continued to crash all. day. long.

Then I was doing a FB live that went utterly wrong and I wasted an hour on a video that never really made it to where it was supposed to go.

It was just one of those times when nothing seems to work right: The ‘smart TV’ goes down, Alexa keeps spinning and spinning or doesn’t understand your question, the wifi goes down for no reason….you know those times, right?

Those are definitely first world problems.

But all the things that are happening now in the world, where I live and in my own house really got to me lately. My cat (who is 19 and deteriorating all over the place) got on my chest around 6 am one morning and I was lying there utterly overwhelmed by everything.

All the failures of the week/month/year. I listed them in my head until it was this ugly loop that I couldn’t seem to stop. And I went down the dark hole of ‘I suck’. I’m a failure. I’ll never get this right. It was stupid to start this business. I did nothing right this week…over and over and over. 

I got up and decided to go for a walk/run, even though I was tired, my body felt like it had acquired lead weights overnight and all I wanted to do was go back to bed.

But I got up. And I did this guided workout where the coach– it was Jaime from the app Aaptiv and the workout was called Energized Endurance – I highly recommend– talked about energy and dark clouds hanging over your head and how energy is contagious…good and bad.

I was mad at this coach. I was like…shut it. I’m feeling bitchy and I deserve to feel bitchy because I suck and the world sucks and everything sucks.

As I kept going, wanting to quit the entire time, something changed in my mind and I remembered how a little movement can totally change your perspective. Getting out of that dark environment and out into the world, doing something mindless like moving my body, listening to this coach talk about energy, I realized she was right. Energy IS contagious and mine that week was just dark and negative.

As I was running I listened to her and her simple steps for changing your energy from negative to positive. It sounded cheesy but they really worked. By the time I got home, I actually felt better.

Step #1: A moment of gratitude. This always sounds simplistic, but it helps to pull you up out of that hole a little. I found something to be grateful about: My family is still breathing. Milo, the old cat, is okay right now.

Step #2: Pick the negative thing you’re holding onto. As I was going through the endless loop of suck, I realized what I was holding onto was Overwhelm. Not just the I-suck stuff but work stuff. Chores. Family. Milo. Huckleberry. Laundry…just all the things that get stuck in your mind and you feel like you’re doing all the work in your head but nothing’s actually getting done. And you’re exhausted.

Step #3: Learn to let go. I’ve heard this so many times that it’s kind of become a little cliche, but it really is true. If I wanted to change my energy, to feel less sucky, I had to let go of the overwhelm. Of the suck. And it isn’t something that just happens. It’s something that, once you realize what you’ve been holding onto and that you need to let go of it, it just kind of happens. You can’t really force it.

Step #4: Remember when you did something hard and succeeded. I thought about it and I thought – Just getting out of bed that day was a success. Going for a run when I felt crappy was a success. Thinking through all of my thoughts and trying to turn them around was a success. There are so many things we achieve all the time. Appreciate them. You start to realize you don’t really suck.

As I got through this really tough workout and went through these steps in my mind, I felt calmer. I had more clarity and I started to think about what I actually wanted to accomplish that day. Not the 1,000 things on my to do list, but one thing I wanted to get done.

My mind calmed. My energy changed. And I realized – I can do this. I can do life and it doesn’t have to suck.

And bad energy is something we’ve all been around, maybe we’ve given it out and it brings everyone around you down too. Similarly, good energy brings everyone up. Think about that…think about your energy right now. Is it in the negative zone? Try these 4 steps and see if you can get yourself out of that dark hole. I did. You can too.

Leave a comment and tell me about how you manage your energy these days.

🔥💪5 ways to boost metabolism that AREN’T workouts! 👍🔥

I know I tend to harp on exercise to burn calories and boost your metabolism but guess what?

There are at least five things you can do to rev up your metabolism … beyond the usual old exercise thing. You still have to exercise and be active, though. Sorry about that.

These are all-natural things you can do starting right away to help your body burn more calories and fat every single day.

And? All of these things have multiple benefits beyond revving up your metabolism

Because the better you take care of your overall health, the better your metabolism will function.

If you’re watching me LIVE, write “LIVE” in the comments … and if you are watching the replay, write REPLAY, so I know you saw it!

OK, are you ready to jump in?

First … eating protein-rich foods

Every food you eat has what’s called a THERMIC EFFECT. Digesting your foods requires effort, and effort means your body is burning fuel. Yes, eating can help you lose weight.

But one food group takes more effort than the others, and it is protein.

Eating protein raises your metabolic rate by 15-30% while your body is digesting it. Meanwhile, carbs increase it only by 5-10%, and fat by 0-3%.

For even more benefit, spread out your protein over the course of the day instead of eating it just at one meal.

Eating enough protein helps your body build and maintain muscle, and that’s a big part of living an active life, especially as you get older.

Can I get a like on that?

Second … This is a big one if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s NOT eating too little!

Let’s say you decide to go on a diet and you slash your calories because you just want to get the weight loss over with.

Well, your body is smart and built for survival. If you suddenly cut your calories, your body will think there’s a famine going on, and actually SLOW down your metabolism to help protect you.

Yes, in order to lose weight you do need to adjust your calorie intake … but to keep your metabolism stoked you need to make sure you don’t cut it TOO much.

I think this one deserves a HEART. What do you think?

Exactly how much of a calorie deficit you need depends on your age, size, and activity level. If There’s actually a formula to help you figure out exactly what that number is. Make sure you’re on my email list (visit my webpage at getfitwithpaige.com) because I’m going to break down the formula for you over there. How to Calculate Your Macros

THIRD … This is a sneaky one– It’s how active you are OUTSIDE of your workouts.

Cranking out a workout is definitely great and it does boost your metabolism, especially if you lift weights or do an intense cardio session.

But for an all-day metabolic burn, it’s all about BEING ACTIVE during the day.

I’m talking about standing instead of sitting, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and finding excuses and reasons to MOVE.

This can account for hundreds of extra calories a day!

Your body just plain burns more calories while you’re moving than when you aren’t. If you’ve ever gone from being active all day to having a desk job, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Also, this is so good for your health since being sedentary is linked with a long list of health issues, from obesity and diabetes to heart disease and cancer.

FOURTH … It’s getting enough high-quality sleep!

Making time for enough sleep at night is huge. I’m talking about 7 to 8 hours a night. And doing whatever you can to make it quality sleep is also important! (I went into this deeper on my last live … make sure you check that out if you haven’t seen it yet.)

First, on the health side of things, getting enough sleep every night can lower your risk of heart disease, depression, and diabetes.

But for your metabolism, studies show that not getting enough sleep actually drops your metabolism by 2-8 %!

That’s not all, though. It’s also linked with a disruption of your hunger hormones, which can help lead to overeating. So, make time to get your enough sleep at night!

Fifth … This one is another sneaky way to boost your metabolism.

You know how people always recommend making sure you’re drinking enough water? Well, there’s a reason for it.

It WORKS!

Studies show that drinking half a liter of water boosts your resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour. That’s just over two cups of water.

You get more of a boost if you drink cold water, because your body has to work to bring it up to body temperature. Pretty cool, huh? No pun intended. 🙂

Not only that, water helps fill you up before you eat.

One study had people who were overweight drink half a liter of water before they ate their meals, and they lost 44% more weight than people who didn’t drink the water.

You’ll also feel more energized, it’s good for your skin and digestion, and just generally helps you FEEL better!

As a general rule of thumb, a good starting point is half your body weight in ounces of water each day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be about 75 ounces.

Can you give water a big HEART? It definitely deserves some love.

So …  Those are your 5 tips. Here’s a quick summary of 5 top all-natural ways to boost your metabolism, that are not workouts–

1. Eat enough protein.

2. Make sure you get enough calories.

3. Stay active during the day.

4. Get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep.

5. Drink at least half of your bodyweight in ounces of water every day!

I hope these tips help energize and rev up your metabolism. Stay tuned for more about your metabolism and how to keep it going.

If you’d like to talk about your goals, email me!

I hope you found this helpful – talk to you again soon!

REFERENCE:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism

DIY Meal-Planning Macro-Style

If you read my recent article about How to Calculate Your Macros, now you’re ready to get to the good stuff, which is knowing how to track your macros to boost your metabolism.

Knowing and tracking your macros can be game-changing for your metabolism … and will not only accelerate your results, but help you to feel and look AMAZING!

Before we get started, some tips:

TIP 1: Don’t stress about getting your macros exactly right. Use them as ballpark figures vs. trying to be perfect and hitting them exactly. Think of this as a PROCESS of learning, vs. something you have to master right out of the gate.

TIP 2: If you don’t already have an online food journal, you’ll want to create an account at one of the free sites (like MyFitnessPal, Cronometer, FitBit) since they have databases of nutrition info for almost any food.

TIP 3: It’s easier to plan your meals/macros AHEAD OF TIME. Otherwise you can be left with a weird configuration at the end of the day, wondering what you can eat to hit your numbers.

Ready? It’s time to open up your food journal and map out a day’s worth of eating!

The first few times you do this, it will take a little while but it won’t be long before you can whip up an entire day in just a couple of minutes.

In my last email, we calculated the macros for someone who is trying to hit 2,000 calories a day and who has a goal of losing fat/gaining muscle:

150 grams of protein a day

55 grams of fat a day

225 grams of carbs a day

In a nutshell, first you’ll layer in the protein-rich foods for all your meals, then your carbohydrates, and finally add in fats (like salad dressing, butter, etc.), and adjust the amounts once you’ve plugged in all your meals.

As an example, for protein: at breakfast you would enter “eggs,” at  lunch, “tuna,” and for dinner, “chicken breast.” If you use protein powder to make a shake for a snack/post-workout meal, enter that, too!

Then, look at how many protein grams that adds up to for the day and see if you’re near the 150 gram mark – but don’t worry about it if you aren’t!

Next it’s time for the carbs – “starchy” carbs like legumes, quinoa, oats, potatoes, etc. get added in. You’ll find some of your carbs will even bump up your protein number!

Next up it’s veggies & fruits. It can be helpful to shoot for at least one serving at every meal.

Once you’re done with that, it’s time to finetune your plan to get closer to your target macro numbers for the day!

TWEAKING YOUR PLAN:

  • A lot of people struggle at first with their protein numbers – they get too little – or their fat numbers – they get too much! The fix: adjust your portion sizes or upgrade your food choices.
    NOTE: You’ll get the most benefit out from protein you eat if you spread it out over the course of the day in fairly equal amounts.
  • It’s helpful to track fiber. According to the USDA, women under the age of 50 should aim for 25 grams a day and men, 38 grams. Women over 50 should try for 21 and men, 30 grams.
    If your fiber is low, check your fruit and veggie choices, and also your starchy carbs – adding a ½ cup of legumes (like black beans) can really help.
  • If your fat number is low, try adding some healthy oil like olive oil to a salad or your veggies, or some healthy fats like nuts and seeds.

What if you want to make a recipe? Many food journals (like MyFitnessPal) let you create recipes and break them down into portion sizes!

Don’t forget – [ADD CTA HERE FOR NUTRITION COACHING OR YOUR FRONT-END OFFER].

REFERENCES:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-count-macros

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/should-i-be-eating-more-fiber-2019022115927

Want to Know How Much Protein, Carbs, and Fat To Eat? Here’s How to Calculate Your Macros

Over the years, you’ve no doubt heard different percentages for how much protein, carbs, and fat to eat to lose weight, but what are the right percentages and how do you figure them out?

I’ve got the step-by-step scoop.

STEP #1:

Set your “daily target calorie intake amount” since all your calculations will depend on it.

FitWatch has a really great Total Daily Calorie Needs calculator to help you get that going.

STEP #2:

Calculate how much of each MACRONUTRIENT you want to consume.

Protein: This macronutrient helps you build, repair, and maintain your muscle mass. Not only that, but it also helps rev your metabolism AND it’s known as the most satiating macro, keeping you feeling full for hours after eating it. Shoot for 10% to 35% of your calories from protein.

Tip: People who work out more generally need more protein to help with recovery.

Fat: Your body needs fat to be healthy. Among other things, fat helps your body convert and use several vitamins and minerals. Experts recommend getting between 20% and 35% of your daily calories from fat.

Carbohydrates: The remaining percentage should come from carbs. Major health organizations recommend you get between 45% and 65% of your total calories a day.

Fiber: This is another number you will want to keep in mind. It’s recommended you get between 25 to 30 grams of fiber from food sources each day.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say you calculated you need 2,000 calories a day, and you work out 4-5 days a week and have a goal of losing fat/maintaining muscle – so you decide to eat 30% from protein, 25% from fat, and 45% from carbs.

30% x 2000 = 600 calories from protein

25% x 2000 = 500 calories from fat

45% x 2000 = 900 calories from carbohydrates

But wait….sorry, but there’s more here. You definitely can stick with looking at just your calorie targets, but most macro-based programs actually take it a step farther and break those calorie targets into grams for each macronutrient.

Breaking it down into grams helps you be more precise. Hang with me here because there’s another step of math involved …

  • 4 calories of protein = 1 gram
  • 4 calories of carbohydrates = 1 gram
  • 9 calories of fats = 1 gram

So, in order to figure your gram totals, you simply divide the calories by the appropriate macro number.

From our example above,

600 protein calories ÷ 4 = 150 grams of protein a day

500 fat calories ÷ 9 = 55 grams of fat a day

900 carb calories  ÷ 4 = 225 grams of carbs a day

Those are your macros.

The awesome thing is that once you calculate your macros, that job is done, y’all.

I prefer sticking with a macro breakdown for at least a month or so to see how it works, and then changing it up a little if results stall or you feel hungry/tired/etc.

Right now you might be wondering what this all actually means and how to put it into action once you know your numbers.

I’ve got you covered: read DIY Meal Planning Macro Style.

Working Out At Home — Spice Things Up and Lose Some Weight with a Weighted Vest

As I write this, we’re in a pandemic. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

I’ve gotten a lot of questions from readers who can’t or don’t want to head back to the gym yet and want to know about working out at home. For sure, if you don’t already workout at home, it’s a very different prospect than going to a gym for a variety of reasons.

Not only do you have figure out what equipment you need, but where do you even get it at this point? How do you make your own workouts? How do you motivate yourself to head down to the basement workout space that maybe isn’t as appealing as, say, the couch and some Netflix?

Those are all good questions and there are answers, but what I want to talk about today is one way you can boost the intensity of your home workouts and, just maybe, have a little more fun? Well…fun is a relative term, right?

The Weighted Vest

When we talk about working out at home, there are a few basic items that are worth buying, from dumbbells to an exercise ball, but maybe a weighted vest is something to think about if you just want that extra edge to your workout.

A weighted vest may seem like a weird addition to your workout but, if you want to add some intensity to your workouts without adding impact, this is a great idea and here’s why:

Have you ever seen someone walking and carrying hand weights? Or maybe they have ankle or wrist weights? If so, then you should stop that person and tell them they’re risking an injury doing that. Or just keep it to yourself, since they might not want your opinion.

Lots of people want to make their walks or workouts more intense, especially if running it out of the question. A weighted vest is a great option because it distributes the weight at center mass, leaving your joints free from injury. Carrying weights can lead to repetitive stress injuries and no one wants that.

Here’s the other good news about weighted vests. Studies have shown that using one increases the metabolic cost of your workout, increases intensity and it also increases the load on your bones. That’s not only good for burning calories but it’s great for strong bones.

Now, you don’t want to just throw on a 30-lb vest and go for a 10-mile jog or anything. Like any new exercise, you want to take your time and work up to using a weighted vest in your workouts.

Choosing Your Weight

Rule of Thumb here: Start Small – Say about 5 percent of your body weight. It’s great if you can find adjustable weighted vests so you can add weights when you’re ready. In fact, you’re going to get the benefits even if you just stay at 5 or 10 percent of your body weight.

It also depends on your goals. If you just want to add some intensity, keep it light and just add it to one or two workouts a week to see how your body responds.

When looking for a weighted vest, keep these thoughts in mind:

  • Something adjustable – Now this can be tricky, especially if you’re a woman. Lots of adjustable weighted vests are made for men who want to increase muscle and strength so they tend to look like some kind of weird straightjacket. This weighted vest by GoFit is adjustable from 3/4 lbs to up to 20 or more, but it’s one-sized fits all so it may not work for all body types
  • Something breathable – This will probably be the norm for most vests you buy, but if you’re working out outside, you definitely don’t want to feel sweaty and confined.
  • A good fit – Again, this can be hit or miss. I have this weighted vest and it works fine for low impact, but if I try to do any kind of jumping it moves around all over the place. It really does depend on your size and, as a women, well, your boobies.
  • Weights that are evenly distributed – I do think most vests these days are already compliant with this, but you don’t want extra weights hanging out somewhere that might cause injury.

You Shouldn’t Use a Weighted Vest If…

You have any kind of joint issues with your knees, hips, ankles, etc. Any added weight may put more stress on your joints and that’s exactly what you don’t want.

Weighted Vest Exercises

You can use a weighted vest while lifting weights, walking, running, or doing other types of cardio. I like to use mine for lower impact activities to make them a little more intense.

Here are just a few exercises you can do with a weighted vest that will help you get a little more out of your low impact exercise.

Knee Smash

With the arms overhead, weight on the right leg, bring the left knee up while pulling the arms down. Lower and repeat, really using the upper body and core. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Puddlejumpers

Take a giant step out to the right bringing the arms out wide, like you’re stepping over a giant puddle. Go to the other side and keep going, as fast, low and wide as you can. It’s a big puddle! Repeat 30 seconds

Ice Breakers

Begin in a squat position and come up on the toes or jump in the air, circling the right arm around and down into a chop as you land. Jump/come up on the toes again, this time chopping down with the left arm. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Side to Side Punches

Turn to the right, stepping the left foot straight back and bending the right knee while punching with the left arm. Step back and repeat on the other side, lunging to the left and punching with the right hand. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Rear Lunge with Kick

Step back with the right leg, touching the floor if you can. Stand up and bring the same leg forward as you stand and do a front kick. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Step Outs

With the weight on the right leg take the left leg out to the side. Touch the toe to the floor and bring the leg back in, touching the toe. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Clean and Press

Knee Punches

With the left leg back at a diagonal and arm straight out, bend the knee and pull the arm back in as the knee comes up. Punch out as the leg goes out. Move as fast as you can with good form. Repeat for 30 seconds each side

Hamstring Curls

Step out to the side and jump (optional), bringing the right heel towards your butt. Repeat on the other side, jumping as high as you can (or lift on the toes) for 30 seconds.

Side Knee Side Kick

Take right arm up and shift the weight onto the left leg. Bring the right knee and take the right elbow towards the knee. Bring the right leg down and kick out to the side with the left leg. Repeat, moving as quickly as you can. Alternate each side for 30 seconds.

These are just some examples. Always take your time, work on your form and if you feel anything going sideways, take the vest off and take a break. Got questions? Leave a comment or email me!

References:

Macadam P, Cronin JB, Simperingham KD. The Effects of Wearable Resistance Training on Metabolic, Kinematic and Kinetic Variables During Walking, Running, Sprint Running and Jumping: A Systematic Review. Sports Med. 2017;47(5):887-906. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0622-x

Puthoff ML, Darter BJ, Nielsen DH, Yack HJ. The effect of weighted vest walking on metabolic responses and ground reaction forces. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(4):746-752. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000210198.79705.19

Struggling to Lose Weight? Here’s Why Not All Calories Are Equal

What dietary advice have I given my clients again and again and again?

And again?

If you want to lose weight you have to, say it with me, burn more calories than you eat.

It’s a simple formula: Calories in vs. Calories out. If you just reduce the calories you’re eating and increase the calories you’re burning, the weight should just drop right on off, right?

I remember this little gem which I also wrote about, talking about and, yes, believed:

If you just increase your activity by 250 and reduce the number of calories you eat by 250, you’ll burn an extra 500 calories per day. At the end of the week, that means you will burn the magic number:

3500 calories.

That is one pound, right?

And the more you burn and the less you eat, the more you lose right?

Raise your hand or comment if you’ve ever heard that, believe that…tried that approach.

Well, we used to think that but if that were the case, a lot of us wouldn’t have a weight problem. Even if you don’t exercise and cut your calories, you should still lose weight…except for one important fact:

A calories is NOT just a calorie.

Once you learn what I’m about to teach you, you’ll understand just what is going on with your body.

  1. Carbs

First, let’s just get this out of the way.

Carbs.

If there ever was a dirty word, it has to be that because carbs are bad, right?

Not all carbs are bad, but there’s one that’s notorious for nipping your weight loss goals in the butt…SUGAR.

Now, when we think of bad things, we often think about fat, because it has more calories per gram than carbs (9 calories) vs. carbs (4 calories). By that logic, a coke would be better for your weight loss goals than, say, a handful of nuts, right?

But we all know that sounds crazy.

First, let’s distinguish your carbs for a sec.

There are simple carbs:

  • Raw sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Glucose, fructose and sucrose

Things like that. Simple carbs usually equals simple nutrition (meaning not much there).

And here’s the thing: It’s the fructose we want to watch out for, which pretty much covers all the added sugars in processed foods.

When your body has too much fructose (let’s call fructose a ‘cupcake’ one of my all time favorite foods), your hunger hormone ghrelin goes UP. That means, when you eat something with added sugar, you only get hungrier.

Next, fructose doesn’t satisfy you. Meaning, there are parts of your brain that tell you – Hey, I’m satisfied now. You can stop eating. That means you have a reduced feeling of fullness.

Last, too much sugar can lead to insulin resistance and, here’s the rub, extra weight gain in the belly area.

So just think what that added sugar does to your hormones, appetite, and metabolic health.

Now, complex carbs are different because they’re high in fiber and digest more slowly – these are things like fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, whole grains. Don’t be afraid of those.

Speaking of carbs and weight loss, here’s something else that can happen to your body when you reduce carbs:

You automatically eat fewer calories (and just weight until I tell you what happens when you eat protein).

Studies show that low carb diets lead to more weight los than low-fat diets. Some of this due to losing water weight because here’s the thing about carbs: When you store a carb in your body, you automatically store water with it. When you reduce carbs, you’ll lose water weight right away.

If you keep with the low carb and eat more protein (which is usually how low-carb diets work), you’ll end up losing more fat.

That leads us to the next reason those calories matter and that is:

The thermic effect of food.

Believe if or not, you burn calories when you eat and the better you eat, the more calories you burn.

Here’s the breakdown:

You’ve probably heard that fat burns 9 calories per gram, and carbs and protein burn 4 calories per gram, but what about the calories you burn while digesting those nutrients?

Is that a question you’ve ever asked yourself? Well you will now.

Because here it is:

Fat burns 2—3 %

Carbs burn 6—8%

Protein burns 25-30%

Look at the difference there. Think of the difference and how many calories your body burns during digestion.

If you ate 100 calories of protein, that actually equals 75 calories because of how much energy it takes to digest it. Eat 100 calories of fat and you end up with 98 calories. You burn only 2 calories there!

100 calories of fat would about a mouthful of a chocolate brownie. 100 calories of protein a handful of nuts or around 4 ounces of cottage cheese.

Now, you see the difference there, right? So, let’s tackle the next reason a calorie is not a calorie:

Protein

Protein is the elixir of the gods when it comes to all the good things: Weight loss, feeling satisfied and getting a lot of the thermic effect of food.

In fact, when you add more protein to your diet, you automatically start losing weight without even counting calories. Protein pretty much puts fat loss on autopilot…that sounds good, right?

It also significantly reduces your appetite and remember how too much fructose actually increases your appetite.

Here’s an interesting study that proves this. In this study people who increased their protein intake by 30% of calories automatically started eating 441 fewer calories per day and lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks.

Without. Counting. Calories.

Now, you know I’m big on exercise and you should be doing that, but think about it: If you’re a 150 pound person who walked a very fast pace of 4 mph for 60 minutes, you would burn 357 calories (depending on a number of factors).

That shows you exactly how important food is to losing weight.

Now…you know more than you did and you know that it really isn’t about just reducing calories, but choosing the right kind of calories. So what do you do with all of this? How do you move forward?

How do you change what you’re eating so that you automatically drop weight while burning more belly fat?

Simple Changes

The easiest way to make the most progress is to make simple changes in your diet with a focus on:

  • More lean protein
  • Lots of vegetables
  • A focus on fiber
  • Ditching the added sugar in things like soft drinks and other processed foods

Most of us already know all of this, but to really make it happen, you need a plan. I’ve got one for you:

Belly Fat Breakthrough 14-Day Meal Plan.

It basically incorporates everything you need to get more whole foods in your diet, keep you satisfied and take the guesswork out of it. This is a Done-For-You program with all the recipes, grocery lists, nutritional info, and more. Scoop it up now while it’s still available! If you need more help, you can always email me too.

Want to Boost Your Metabolism? Go Back to Bed

When it comes to managing our weight, we talk a lot about metabolism. We know it’s the engine that runs the body but unless you remember the olden days of biology class, you may not remember how it all works.

What most of us know is that it’s the mechanism that helps us lose weight, so the faster it goes, the faster we lose weight. The question now is: How can we boost that metabolism? Is it possible?

Yes, it is! While we all have different metabolisms, there are ways we can speed things up and the first idea I’m going to give you is going to make you very, very happy.

SLEEP

Yep. Pay close attention, because you’re going to have your mind blown when I share a few stats about how much sleep can impact your metabolism.

First – let’s lay the groundwork with a very simplified explanation of what your metabolism actually is.

It’s tempting to think of your metabolism as a “thing” – kind of like your body’s speedometer that controls the rate your body burns energy.

But your metabolism actually is a complex process where your body turns the food you eat into energy. And since you have dozens of trillions of cells, you can just imagine how complicated this whole process is.

There is a long list of things that can affect your metabolism, including many things you can’t control – like your age, genetics and whether you are male or female, and more.

BUT… the good news is there are a lot of things you can do to rev up (or slow down) your metabolism, based on your lifestyle choices.

And that’s where sleep comes in because it can be a game-changer when it comes to getting your metabolism moving.

Is sleep an issue for you? I feel like many of the women in my life have issues sleeping while my husband could probably fall asleep at a raging football game. Maybe it’s hardwired for some of us, but it definitely has an effect on every aspect of our lives.

So here’s something most of us have probably experienced: Have you ever had a bad night of sleep and felt hungry the entire next day?

This is because your body’s hormonal system takes a hit when it doesn’t get enough rest. I’ve had those days where I feel like I just can’t eat enough to stay satisfied.

Scientists believe this is linked to a disruption in two hormones, called ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin signals to make you feel hungry, and leptin signals when you feel full. I like to think of it as my body’s shut-off valve.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body can release MORE of the HUNGER hormone and LESS of the FEELING-FULL hormone … so now you can see how you can end up eating more but still never feel fully satisfied.

Adding to that is the fact our willpower is at a low-point after a sleepless night. And speaking of willpower, if you think of all the decisions you have to make in a day and the fact that the more decisions you make, the harder it is to make those decisions and you have a perfect storm of really, really needing that pizza. Nix the salad please.

Not getting enough rest can also activate a part of your brain that is especially sensitive to seeing or smelling food, which can make you want to eat it even more.

So all of that just lays the groundwork for taking in more calories than your body needs and here’s the important part:

This whole cascade of chemical reactions happening in your body are NOT YOUR FAULT. They’re normal, it’s just that we have to understand what’s happening before we can do something about it.

This leads me to the second part of how not getting enough sleep affects your metabolism, and that has to do with the BURNING OFF of that FUEL.

Have you ever had a few bad nights of sleep in a row, and noticed that the scale goes up?

It’s a real “thing” … researchers found that when adults were limited to 5 hours of sleep a night over 5 nights, they actually gained weight. They put on an average of 1.8 pounds, which is crazy, right?

And another study found that getting only 5 hours of sleep at night cut the rate of fat loss by more than 50%.

And the worst thing for sleep is stressing about not sleeping. I’ve done the clock-watching thing – you know where you’re like – If I got so sleep right NOW I can get this many hours of sleep. And an hour later, you’re saying the same thing.

But there are some things you can experiment with to help you get a better night of Zzz’s.

Are you ready?

It starts with setting yourself up for success from the get-go.

  1. Get some sunshine in the morning to reinforce your natural circadian rhythm.
  2. Also, sneak in some exercise during the day. Among many other things, this can help with your body’s stress hormones AND make you more physically tired so your body wants to sleep at night.
  3. If naps get in the way of your sleep routine, try to avoid them, especially late in the day. A short cat nap after lunch is fine, if you’re lucky enough to be able to take one.
  4. Some people find that having coffee or other caffeinated beverages after 2 p.m. can impact their sleep.

OK, so those are things you can do during the day to help improve your sleep. Here are some things to think about closer to bedtime …

First, avoid heavy meals for a few hours before bed … and stay away from alcohol since that can contribute to restless sleep. I totally ignore that. Not gonna lie.

Another helpful thing to do is dim the lights in your home an hour or two before bedtime, to signal your body it’s time to go to bed.

Also, stay away from any devices that emit blue light … like your phone and TV.

Plus, you definitely want to make sure your bedroom is sleep-friendly. It should be dark, not too hot, and quiet. You might also want to try adding some white noise – there are lots of great apps you can try. My favorite is Relaxing Melodies – the oscillating fan keeps my husband’s snoring to a minimum.

This last one might be a toughie, but if you’re used to sleeping with your dog or cat on the bed, try changing that up for a few nights and see if that helps. I know that one is tough – My late cat Ziggy was a regular visitor in my bed and he definitely interrupted my sleep.

But if you’ve ever tried to lock a cat out of your room at night, you probably know it’s almost more of a nightmare (pun intended) than just letting them in.

Note to Self: Train next cat to sleep in his/her own bed. Also note to self: Learn how to train a cat.

This is an experiment to find out what helps you sleep better, so all cards are on the table 🙂

And if none of those things seem to work for you, it’s worth bringing up to your doctor at your next visit … because your sleep affects so much beyond your metabolism.

What are your go-to behaviors when it comes to sleep? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

REFERENCES:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3619301/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22357722

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips

https://news.uchicago.edu/story/sleep-loss-limits-fat-loss-study-finds

Belly Fat Breakthrough Episode 1: Why You Need to Stop Trying to Lose Weight to Lose Weight

 

Hi, guys it’s Paige here and today’s Facebook Live kicks off my new series, The Belly Fat Solution Episode 1: Why You Need to Stop Losing Weight to Lose Weight.

If any of y’all are new here, I’ve been talking about this subject here in the group and on my FB Page, email (if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you get extra stuff there), social media…pretty much for the last 3 or more years.

And just a quick note about me, I actually gained almost 25 pounds when I got into my 40s, a LOT of it in my belly, and it took me a couple of years of trying different things and experimenting before I was able to finally lose the weight.

With that experience and knowledge, I’ve created a variety of belly fat programs that incorporate everything that I did to lose weight.

And I want to share the information behind those programs, because these programs, which involve different approaches with the same underlying concepts, could be what you need to get results.

But I want you to understand how I got there so that you can decide if one of these programs is something that might work for you.

So, for our first installment, we’re talking about:

Why You Need to Stop Losing Weight to Lose Weight

I know…that seems like it doesn’t make sense, but it does.

So, as I mentioned, I was inspired by a story sent to me by Jamie, one of the members of The Bye Bye Belly Fat Group – She gave me permission to use her name and story.

And her story had me looking back through all the content I’ve written about belly fat and I thought, now would be the perfect time to take that information and put it together in a series so you can get the full impact of what really causes belly fat and, more importantly:

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO GET RID OF???

Belly Fat is a special kind of fat, and not in the ‘good’ kind of special but in the why is this happening and what the hell am I doing wrong kind of ‘special.’

I want to start with Jamie and use her as a case study of sorts. She was kind enough to message me her story and I think this will sound really familiar to a lot of you.

In fact, except for some minor details, this could my story.

Now, Jamie started gaining weight as she got into her late 30s and, as she put it, “I started gaining weight overnight but now am steadily gaining weight in the belly.”

For the record, she does regular workouts of cardio and strength and eats a healthy diet.

Frustrated, she ended up going to different doctors and specialists – She got her hormones checked (thyroid being the main one), but everything checked out as normal.

And it’s a good idea to see your doctor if you’re gaining weight and you haven’t changed anything (that’s a key factor that we’re going to talk about). Your thyroid could be involved, medication you’re taking and then, of course, there’s that other important hormone which regulates appetite and weight gain:

Estrogen. Yes, peri-menopause, menopause, etc.

But that’s for another day.

So, back to Jamie.

She want from 100 lbs to 140 lbs, a lot of it in her belly.

That is almost exactly what happened to me a few years ago, so I totally get it. 

Here’s where I really identify with Jamie: “I think being honest with my Journey is something that will help me not be silenced. I have felt ashamed.”

And, I think a lot of people in this group feel the same way and that may be why everyone is so quiet in here.

I felt the same way and, for a long time, I tried to hide it. But when I finally decided to be honest with myself and with everyone else, I came out of the belly fat closet and that’s how this group was born and how I overcame.

We all know that feeling. Our failure is right out there for everyone to see. It’s not a private shame, but public, right? You can’t hide it, right?

I mean, you can try by wearing big, blousy clothes, but it’s like putting a target on you that says, ‘I’m wearing big blousy clothes because I gained weight.’

She went on to say that every day started to feel like groundhog day – Wake up, promise to eat better, to write everything down, only to fall back into old habits,

There are so many reasons we go back to those familiar habits, even if they’re destructive – another topic for another day.

One of Jamie’s groundhog day habits is:

Grazing.

Especially at night.

Haven’t we all been guilty of this? I know I have.

In fact, last week I kept putting off going to the grocery store, which left me and my husband without anything decent for lunch. So we scrounged and ate a little bit of this and a little bit of that and, in the end, we ended up coming to the kitchen about every hour to find something to eat.

Being at home during the virus, your kitchen is always, always there.

Always.

We never actually made a proper meal or snack that would be satisfying. Instead, we ended up grazing all day and never feeling like we got enough food. But we probably ate many more calories than we would have if we’d just made proper meals.

And then, we felt guilty.

I know better than this. Jamie knows better than this. We all know better than this.

Yet, we still do it.

As Jamie puts it, “[I am] working on my diet but still doing the wrong things so basically I have learned I can change things…BUT it’s hard for me to not graze now. I’ve tried to fast but ultimately end up overeating.”

Here’s something else that resonates: “as a single person I feel like it’s such an emotional comfort to eat late at night, even a little but all those little bites add up…I swear I am barely eating but not so…”

Emotional eating. Another topic we could go on and on about. Think about it – how often do you eat when you’re not actually hungry?

Maybe you’re bored. Tired. Need a pick me up. Lonely. Feeling isolated….so many reasons we reach for the comfort of food when we really need something else.

Yep. Been there.

And then there’s this, which really hits the mark: “It’s just so very real. I get motivated but then Groundhog day happens all over again despite my best efforts.”

Yep. Again. Been there. Done that.

I want to stop for a sec and talk about what Jamie mentioned: motivation. This topic is fraught.

I say that because we often say that to ourselves: “I’m just not MOTIVATED to get up and workout or to plan my meals or to go to the grocery store or pull weeds when I could be catching up on Ozark.”

But, real quick, I want to put an idea in your head about motivation and here it is:

Motivation is not something that just happens. It is something that YOU create. You create it. You cultivate it. And you use it as just ONE thing you need to make a change. There are many other things involved when it comes to making changes and losing weight.

Motivation? Is just one and may not even be the most important one.

More on that later.

Okay, so with all of that said, how many of you could be Jamie right now? I WAS Jamie – I WAS Jamie, but I’m a little luckier because, as a fitness pro, I have access to resources that not everyone may have.

In fact, tackling this belly fat issue involves so many different aspects, you would have to be a dietician, a personal trainer, an epidemiologist, heck, even a psychic to figure this out.

That’s why I had to experiment using science-based research as well as, well, human-based research since humans don’t always follow the logic of science, right? If we did, we would never overeat.

The struggle is real, y’all.

One thing that doesn’t work: The groundhog day approach.

Wake up Monday, promise a brand new day, do well for awhile…revert to old behaviors.

I was there for awhile before I got off the hamster wheel…Here’s how it worked for me…the hamster wheel I mean:

You become aware of your weight for some reason.

You see it

You feel it

You bend over to pick something up and that belly is in the way

Sit down (I remember having to pull my pants OVER my belly to sit down so my belly wouldn’t flop over my pants)

Pull on a pair of pants and feel how tight they are…whatever it is, it’s a trigger.

You feel frustrated, ashamed, angry…like you just want to hide under the bed where no-one can see you.

You vow to make a change… to really focus on your diet this time, or to finally start exercising. If you already exercise, you vow to exercise even more, right?

And maybe you stick to that for a bit and…either something interrupts your newfound motivation or you do the work and nothing happens. You don’t see results, you get frustrated and you quit.

Whatever motivated you to try again falls into the background as real life takes over —The thousands of tasks we have to do in a day, most of which probably have nothing to do with losing belly fat.

Okay, so let’s go back with Jamie and her situation.

We’ve gotten older, we’ve gained belly fat, we’ve tried All the Things, we’ve maybe seen a doctor or specialist to find out if there’s a medical reason for this weight gain and there doesn’t seem to be…

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

There are plenty of paths to choose from…so many that it’s paralyzing, isn’t it? You could try a new diet, maybe Weight Watchers. You could try some new workouts. You could try to fast, as Jamie did, only to come back to food with a vengeance…

Starving yourself, by the way, is one of the worst ways to lose weight.

Which brings me to the title of this series:

Why You Need to Stop Trying to Lose Weight to Lose Weight

Here’s what I want to share with you today…A road you can follow, an outline of what I did to finally start to lose belly fat and a focus, at the beginning, that doesn’t include the scale.

WARNING: Nothing I’m about to say will surprise you. Not. One. Thing.

Knowing that…here’s where you start:

Forget about the belly for now!

I know, you can’t totally forget it, but let’s take the goal of losing belly fat and put it to the side. Why?

Because losing the belly actually comes LATER in your weight loss to-do list.

It’s like doing homework: Once you do the homework, then you get to have the fun.

With belly fat, once you follow the steps, the belly fat starts to come off. And focusing on the Belly Fat from the get go leads to a lot of frustration and hopping back onto the hamster wheel.

So, today I’m going to share the first step I took when I finally figured out that what I was doing was NOT working.

Go back to the basics.

I mean, all the way back to the ABC’s, to a place you’ve been before but maybe haven’t visited in a while.

Here’s what you ask yourself:

What Is MY Goal?

Now, before you roll your eyes and say, DUH – I want to lose belly fat, we need to get really really clear on what you actually want. Yes, losing belly fat makes , but why? What does that get you in the long run?

Why do you want to get rid of the belly fat? I know…we all want to do that, but WHY?

This is when you sit down and really think about what you actually want so you can set a serious goal. Not just ‘I want to lose belly fat.’ That’s a goal, but But something specific, something tangible, something you can actually measure on a regular basis.

When I sat down to do this brainstorming exercise, It struck me that it wasn’t so much how I looked, but how I FELT about myself. That was what was so miserable – Hating how I looked, hating how my body moved differently with that extra weight, how much workouts changed, my wardrobe, my down deep feeling about myself.

When I thought about it, this is what I wanted:

—Feeling good about myself

—Feeling/looking sexy

—Feeling good in my body

—Feeling good in my clothes

—Not avoiding my own reflection in the mirror

—Wearing flattering clothes that make me feel confident

And then I had to go back and think about my goal, to lose belly fat and make it much more specific. You’ve probably heard about setting SMART Goals…

Goals that are:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Time-Based

And that’s exactly what you’re going to do.

I have a Goal-Setting Workbook for you that will walk you through the entire process, step by step. Take your time with this. The deeper you go, the more you succeed. Trust me…I stayed on the surface of my goal and that kept me trapped on the old Hamster wheel.

Once I actually thought about where I was, what I wanted, my perspective changed for the better.

This Goal-Setting Workbook is part of the belly fat program that I created for myself and now I’m giving this first step to you because I want you to start off on the right foot. I don’t want you to waste time like I did…or at least anymore than you already have.

This is how you do it.

So, are you in? Leave a comment!

Download Your Free Goal-Setting Workbook to get started right now.

Your Perfect Lockdown Day Schedule

What do you do when you’ve been quarantined at home for (some of us) an indefinite period of time?

According to some of the more interesting social media posts I’ve seen lately, a lot of people are making weird TikTok videos.

I’ve also seen people who:

  • Haven’t showered in days
  • Don’t ever change out of their pajamas (my husband is one)
  • Waste time and feel bored all day because they don’t have a plan
  • Not getting simple and small things done (that are normally no big deal)
  • Are suffering from more anxiety and stress than usual, because everything seems so out of whack.

I get it and I’ve been guilty of many of these things in the past month, especially getting the small things done. How many times have I walked past the same pair of shoes without picking them up? Am I in a contest to see how long I can go without actually moving them? Does it count if I nudge them out of the way while vacuuming? Hey, at least I vacuumed something.

It’s easy to let yourself drift around, not knowing what to do with your time, but right now it’s more important than ever to make sure that we’re doing what we can to keep our head in the game and not get too far off track.

If this sounds like you (or someone you know) then a little structure may be exactly what you need.

Let’s all play this game:

CREATE YOUR PERFECT LOCKDOWN DAY

Creating your own version of this will do a lot to reduce your stress levels, stay on-track with your goals, and even have more fun in your life, although ‘fun’ these days often has a different meaning.

Look, non of us knew that when this year kicked off, it would turn out the way it has so far. I know we’re sick of hearing about how this pandemic is unprecedented, but when you get down to it, none of us have ever been through anything like this before.

The best thing we can do is roll with it, adapt our routine, and get on with life the best we can.

If you don’t have a schedule, it’s like playing a game of dominoes.

If one little thing goes awry, it can cause a cascade of events that can throw off your entire day … or worse.

And that can lead to:

  • Stress (which you know is bad for your health). Which can lead to …
  • Poor sleep. Which can lead to …
  • Not-so-healthy meals. Which can lead to …
  • Little or no exercise / activity. Which can lead to …
  • Weight Gain. Which is 💩

Now imagine the OPPOSITE of all that: having a sense of peace and feeling in control … sleeping great at night … having more energy … and feeling proud of yourself because you’re taking control of your day. 

Just a few things plugged into a schedule can make a huge difference. Check out this sample schedule:

YOUR PERFECT LOCKDOWN DAY

Okay, so here’s my general routine during the week:

7:00 a.m.: Morning Ritual: Wake up, drink water, quiet time to plan my day (I like doing Morning Pages)
7:30: Workout – I do something different every day
8:30 a.m.: Shower
8:45 a.m.: Breakfast (usually a smoothie)
9:00 a.m.: Walk the dog
9:30 a.m.: Work
10:30 a.m.: Break – Stretch or walk
10:40 a.m.: Work
Noon: Lunch, get outside for fresh air, read a book
1-5 p.m.: More Work: client meetings, virtual coaching, writing, dog-walking, breaks and more
5:30 p.m.: Wine and dumb iPad games
6:30 p.m.: Dinner prep and eat, watch TV
9:30 p.m.: Go to bed, read my Kindle, hopefully some good sleep

Now, I already work at home so this doesn’t feel as odd for me as it does for some, but just having some kind of schedule with some specific goals will help you feel more in control in a world gone mad.

Take a few minutes today to create your perfect day schedule – set yourself up for success by being realistic about how much you actually can accomplish in a day. I know that, even though I have time to work at home, I can’t fill every second with work.

In fact, I’ve had to pare down my work these days because my brain is just fried, especially by the end of the week.

So, here’s your goal: Make Your Schedule

And then hold yourself accountable to following it.

You will be amazed how after just a day or two you will feel so much more relaxed and at peace. What’s your schedule right now? Leave a comment!

REFERENCES:

https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/health-benefits-of-having-a-routine

Meal Prep 101 – Want to Lose Weight? Get Out the Tupperware

What’s the number one reason it’s really hard to lose weight? I know, you probably think of tons of reasons like:

  • Too busy to exercise
  • Too busy to research healthy foods and meals
  • Hate to cook
  • Can’t give up my comfort foods
  • I have no idea where to start
  • I’m having a bad hair day

What I’m going to say here is that those aren’t reasons. They’re excuses.

I know this because I’ve used these excuses and many, many others. The scientific reason behind weight gain and/or not losing weight is about eating too many calories. Exercise helps, of course, but it helps more with changing your body composition (lose fat, gain muscle and sometimes the scale doesn’t move) and avoiding weight gain.

It’s your diet that’s key and there are three major obstacles that stand in our way when it comes to weight loss and diet:

  1. Portion sizes are too big
  2. We eat too much processed crap
  3. We eat when we’re stressed, bored, or emotional

There’s a lot to unpack there and, obviously, that doesn’t cover everything, but there is something we can do about all of these things.

Meal Prep

Meal prep has exploded into the world of home cooking and, unlike trendy diets or fads, this one is sticking because it isn’t a diet. You aren’t deprived. You can eat the foods you love (not all the time, but sometimes) and the most important key:

You Are Prepared

Think of the times when you get off track with your diet. It happens to me a lot, particularly with snacks. When I don’t have snacks prepared, I will graze. And graze. And graze. Instead of just making something, sitting down and eating it.

If I don’t have a plan for lunch and I’m starving, I’m going to reach for the easiest thing near me…oooooh, there’s a frozen pizza in the freezer! How did that get there?

That’s where meal prep comes in. It’s a way to portion out your food for the week so you’re eating the right portions, you’re eating healthy whole foods and all you have to do is grab your container and go.

Meal Prep Myths

One thing I hear from my clients and readers is that they do NOT want to spend an entire Sunday cooking and chopping and preparing for every single meal that week. Some people will go that route and probably enjoy it.

I’m not one of those people.

However there, are different ways to meal prep and you can choose. Just some

Meal Prep Options

  • Prep for an entire week of meals – Breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner – whew!
  • Easy Prep – Make double of some of your recipes so you can have the leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • Way Easy Prep – Just pick one meal or, say macros. For example, for me, my snacks are out of control so sometimes I’ll prep all my snacks for the week (here are 20 Ideas for Healthy Snacks). Similarly, you could approach it by choosing, say, the proteins that you want to eat this week. I typically roast a whole chicken and then we cut it up and it’s ready for the entire week.
  • Way Way Easy Prep – Just prep for one day and go from there.

What You Need to Meal Prep

The most important things you’ll need are:

  • Containers for storage – You can use glass containers, which is what experts often recommend, but I like plastic containers that are BPA-free and dishwasher safe. I like these that I ordered from Amazon. Mason jars are also great tools for making meals ahead – salads, overnight oats, and more. And, of course, freezer bags – label them y’all. Trust me on that one.
  • Time to plan for your meals – This is crucial. I usually set aside about an hour on Sundays or Mondays to go through my recipes, pick the meals I’m going to make, and make the grocery list.
  • Time to shop for your groceries – Yep. You’re going to have to go to the grocery store. I’m sorry. I know. It hurts.
  • Recipes – Yep. This is cooking y’all. But I’ve got some recipes for you, so no worries.
  • Some really good music or an audiobook to listen to while you work. Necessity.

Now, if you’re making big batches of stuff like, say, soup, you should also have a big stock pot, a food processor, a slow cooker or maybe an Instant Pot, good knives, measuring cups, etc.

The Basics of Freezing and Storing Your Food

Okay, now here’s the confusing part. What foods should you freeze? How do you freeze them? What can go in the fridge and for how long?

The answer – It depends. I know, but I’m going to give you some guidelines.

Protein

Cooked proteins like chicken, beef, and fish are usually safe for about 3-4 days in the fridge. If you’re going to prep for more days, freeze the rest. Make sure you let the meat or fish cool before you freeze it and don’t leave it out at room temp for more than 2 hours.

Pasta, Grains, and Rice

Pasta

You can also freeze pasta. Here’s what you do:

    • Cook the pasta until it’s just less than al dense (like a little crunchy)
    • Spread the noodles out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
    • Toss with olive oil and put the cookie sheet in the freezer
    • When they’re frozen transfer them to a zip-top bag
    • When you re-heat your pasta, in the microwave or stovetop, make sure the pasta lies flat.
    • If you do it stovetop, you can toss the frozen pasta into simmering sauce and that will defrost it.

Tip: If you’re making sauce, pour it into ice cube containers, freeze and then pop a sauce cube out, defrost and voila!

Rice can also be kept for 3-4 days in the fridge or you can freeze it when it’s cool and thaw in the microwave.

For grains, if you’re not refrigerating them, cook them completely, cool them on a tray until they’re completely cool and dry. Portion them out into containers and freeze.

Veggies and Fruit

When thinking of prepping and storing fruits and veggies, think about his: The softer the fruit or vegetable, the squishier they can get over time.

If you’re eating fresh fruit, don’t wash or cut it until you’re ready to eat it. You can also use frozen fruit, but it does get mushy when thawed – I use that for smoothies.

For veggies, the harder ones are going to stand up to storage better than mushy ones (like mushrooms). Think carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, squash, asparagus and celery.

Can you freeze veggies? Yes, but they won’t always have the same texture when thawed, so consider using frozen veggies for things like soup.

One thing I like to do is keep a big bowl of lettuce ready for salads. Here’s how you store it: Don’t wash it, but wrap it in damp paper towels in a perforated bowl. Wash it when you’re ready to eat it.

I also keep cut up veggies in containers so I can use them for snacks or salads.

Check Out This Amazing Produce Storage Guide from workweeklunch.com

Soups

Soup is big in our house because you can make a big ol’ batch and eat on it all week. I usually don’t have enough to freeze, but if you make a lot, you can totally freeze it.

The best soups that freeze are soups that are more brothy with veggies and proteins. Creamy soups don’t always freeze well, so experts recommend leaving the cream or dairy out and then adding it when you thaw it out.

Some tips if you’re freezing:

  • Leave out things like dairy or noodles to your soup and add them later
  • Undercook your veggies a bit so you don’t end up double cooking them
  • Let the soup cool completely before you freeze

Give it a Try

Now it’s time to give it a whirl. I’ve got 6 great meal prep recipes that show you the exact amount you need to make for your weekly meals.

6 Amazing Meal Prep Recipes

And get this really great cookbook:

The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook

 

Dealing With Overwhelm During the Quarantine: Resources

In a previous article, I wrote about the feeling of Overwhelm as it relates to exercise and weight loss. As in, we feel like we need to do All The Things (diet, exercise, stress, sleep, etc.) all at the same time to lose weight.

These days, weight loss is probably the last thing on your mind, but that article applies to just about any situation, especially the one we’re in now.

In that article, I pointed to the main reasons we feel so overwhelmed 

  1. Lack of information
  2. Uncertainty
  3. Conflict
  4. Lack of control

Obviously, these are all things we’re experiencing right now, especially the uncertainty and lack of control. So, what do you do to calm yourself down?

I’ve got some resources for you.

To combat lack of information, visit reputable sites like the CDC:

The Centers for Disease Control

Every single fact you need to know is here and tells you exactly what’s going on and what you should do if you think you’re sick or just generally worried. Read through it, then shut it down and realize you have your part…stay home, wash your hands, and don’t panic.

Coping with Uncertainty:

Coronavirus: Coping with Stress, Fear and Uncertainty

This article has some really great advice about dealing with anxiety and uncertainty. Probably the best advice is: Stay informed but don’t obsessively check the news and focus on things you can control.

Dealing With Lack of Control

    1. Stop and Regroup – Realize that feeling out of control is totally normal and we all feel that way. Give yourself a break and instead of trying to do All The Things (whatever those are), just stop. Take a breath. Even do some writing or journaling just to get the thoughts out of your head. We need time to process so we can get rid of the panic.
    2. Go back to basics – So, we all know what to do as far as the virus – Stay home, wash your hands for 20 seconds, clean surfaces regularly and all that. Now, let’s get back to your life and what YOU need to do right now to simplify. For me, back to basics means organizing my house, getting laundry done, cleaning out my office, etc. It always makes me feel more in control to do the small things around me I can see.
    3. Keep it simple – Again, the overwhelm comes when you feel like you have to do everything – Stress, sleep, exercise, diet, etc. Keep it simple and pick one simple thing you could do for a better diet – Drink more water, for example, or eat your salad before you eat anything else. For stress, just do something simple – Close your eyes and breathe, take a walk or listen to your favorite song. Pick just one thing to do and focus on that.
    4. Ask for help – There are some great resources out there that don’t require you to leave your house, many of them apps you can download right to your phone like Talkspace, Headspace, Betterhelp and you can even find online psychiatrists if you need help with medication or other issues at MDLIVE.com. My therapist is actually doing phone calls to help her patients, so that’s something to look into if you have one.
    5. One thing at a time – If your head is full, slow things down and just pick one thing to do right now. It could be cleaning out a drawer, checking your email, figuring out what to make for dinner. Just one. When you’re done with that, regroup and move on to the next thing.

Finally, stay in touch with people. If you need someone to Facetime or Zoom, let me know – I can be there for you and I won’t even make you exercise. Well, I might.

Intermittent Fasting – 101 The Secret to Weight Loss?

Answer me this: How many diet trends have you lived through? Can you even count them?

I remember years ago when I first heard of the Atkins diet. Now, I thought it was new at the time, as did most people, but come to find out it actually started back in the 60s.

Cut to the 90s and there it was again and everybody was following it. What I remember most about that is that my friend was following it and we would have deep conversations about things like – Could she chew sugar-free gum or was that cheating? And what would the couch cushions taste like? Because she was that hungry.

I was like, ‘girrrrl…you’re probably like 25 years old. Let’s put a pin in that.’

If only we knew how skinny we were at 25, right?

Now fast-forward to, well, now, and there’s another trend out there called:

Intermittent Fasting

Ever heard of it?

Like every diet ever invented, this is not really a new thing. In fact, the idea of fasting goes way, way back and it’s something researchers have studied for a long time.

There have been a number of studies suggesting that eating less or doing some type of fasting may help you live longer.

As my husband said, “Why would I want to live longer if I’m starving all the time? I’m gonna take a hard pass on that one.”

So you may wonder, why is this a thing? Why would I want to starve myself even more just to lose weight? Well, it isn’t really about starving yourself. In fact, it’s not like traditional diets at all, diets that have you cutting out whole food groups and rearranging your meals so that you lose weight.

Intermittent fasting isn’t about what you eat (although that’s important…) it’s about when you eat, making it an interesting prospect for those of us who want to lose weight and are sick of diets that don’t work.

What IS Intermittent Fasting?

At it’s most basic, IF is a pattern of eating in which you cycle between fasting and eating. Pretty obvious, but how you do it changes from person to person. And what makes IF popular is that you don’t have to count calories or keep a food diary or weigh anything. You just have to pick a type of IF, choose your eating window and voila! You’re doing it.

Of course, it’s not quite that easy – It’s easy to choose an IF method, but following it is always the challenging part.

So, why IF? Well, there are a number of benefits, many of which are the same benefits as any diet that helps you lose weight, but there are some standouts when it comes to IF that may make it more appealing than other diets.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Just some of the benefits of IF include:

  • Fat loss – Like any diet that cuts calories, you lose fat when you follow IF because, duh, you’re cutting calories. However, what makes IF different is that, in some studies, researchers found that this method of eating actually preserves muscle mass more than other diets (in most diets you lose fat AND muscle – not something you want). Some studies also show that you may burn more fat during a 24-hour period than with other diets. It’s like free fat loss! Except, well nothing’s really free, right?
  • Improved brain functioning – With IF, researchers have found that you think more clearly and you are better able to tolerate stress. Not only that, your memory may improve and it’s easier to retain information.
  • Increased human growth hormones – Some people have actually called HGH the real fountain of youth because, as we get older, HGH declines and that contributes to things like muscle loss and weight gain. With IF, there’s an increase in HGH which means more fat loss, increase in lean muscle tissue, improved skin, increased bone density and more.
  • Improves your insulin levels – Insulin controls blood sugar so when it’s released, your body stores that energy as fat. Since insulin produces fat, the more you have floating around in the body, the more fat you store. With IF, that fasting period allows your body time to stabilize insulin levels, reversing the process of storing fat.
  • Reduces inflammation – Inflammation is your body’s natural response to harm, but chronic inflammation can contribute to a variety of conditions like diabetes, IBS, arthritis, heart disease and, of course, weight gain.
  • Reduced appetite – Some studies show that following intermittent fasting can actually suppress your appetite, so you’re less hungry and, hopefully, eat less.

Sounds good right? So, what’s the catch? Well, there’s that whole ‘fasting’ part but there are a variety of ways to fast, some extreme and others much easier to follow. Let’s get to it.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

The 5:2 Diet

Day 1Day 2 Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6 Day 7
Regular Meals500-800 Calories Regular Meals Regular Meals500-800 CaloriesRegular MealsRegular Meals

The 5:2 diet refers to the days in the week – there are 7, just a reminder. What this ratio means is that you eat regularly for 5 days and then drastically cut your calories, eating about 25% of what you normally eat, for the other 2 days.

Obviously, this isn’t true fasting because you’re eating something during the ‘fasting’ days. But to put it in perspective, say you’re eating 2,000 calories a day. On the 2 fasting days, you would eat about 500 calories. The general recommendation is about 500-600 calories for women and 600-800 calories for men but, either way, you’re cutting calories and that’s the whole point.

Following this diet generally means you pick non-consecutive days where you cut your calories – 2 days in a row of this would not only suck, but isn’t good for your body. However, on those days you still get to eat healthy foods to keep your body going.

Why it works: By focusing on only 2 days of calorie-restriction, you put yourself in a position to lose weight and, because you get to eat something on those 2 days, you’ll feel more satisfied.

The catch: Well, you ARE cutting your calories a lot which will take some preparation and some deep breaths the first time you try it – changing our eating patterns isn’t easy, right? And, you still have to eat healthy on the other 5 days, y’all. Like, you can’t just have pizza and burgers for 5 days and then have lettuce and lemon wedges the other 2 days.

Sorry.

What to eat on fasting days: Because you want to function well and your body needs fuel, experts suggest eating 3 small meals or maybe 2 slightly bigger meals.

What you really want to focus on during the fast days are these:

  • Lean protein – chicken, fish, pork tenderloin–you know the drill
  • Lots of veggies – they’re low calorie but fill you up – think a small salad or even some zucchini or squash zoodles
  • Berries – Blackberries, blueberries, cherries – this can satisfy your cravings for sugar and you get those wonderful antioxidants
  • Soup – It’s been proven that eating (healthy) soup fills you up and helps you eat less

Breakfast Ideas:

Banana + ricotta cheese
Hardboiled egg + whole-grain toast
Yogurt with a handful of berries

Lunch Ideas:

Salad with light dressing and about 3 oz. of chicken, tofu or fish
Turkey lettuce wrap with veggies and hummus
3 oz. of grilled chicken with steamed broccoli

Dinner Ideas:

Vegetable soup
Stir-fried veggies with chicken or shrimp
Omelet with mushrooms and spinach

The 16/8 Method

Day 1 Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5 Day 6Day 6
12 am-12 pmFASTFASTFASTFASTFASTFASTFAST
 12 pm FIRST MEAL FIRST MEAL FIRST MEAL FIRST MEAL FIRST MEAL FIRST MEAL FIRST MEAL
 8 pm LAST MEALLAST MEALLAST MEALLAST MEALLAST MEALLAST MEALLAST MEAL
 8 pm-12 am FASTFASTFASTFASTFASTFASTFAST

 

This is a popular option for IF because it’s simple to understand – You fast for 16 hours a day and eat all your calories in an 8-hour window. And? You can choose the 8-hour window that fits with your life and schedule.

Why it works: Like other IF methods, you eat fewer calories because you’re not eating all the time like we normally do. Plus that 16 hour fast includes the hours you’re sleeping, so it’s not like you’re awake for 16 hours and hungry. No, that doesn’t mean you should increase your sleep to 16 hours…good try though.

The catch: Obviously there’s the fasting part and totally changing your eating patterns – again, not always easy. Plus, this method of IF is kind of inflexible. If you have a party one night or you want to go out to dinner, that might not fall in your window of eating, which can make it confusing sometimes. Or maybe your friends want to go to lunch and you’re like – Ummm, I can’t eat until like 1? And they’re like – {side-eye}.

How it works: For the 16/8 method, you can choose any window of time you like. Some examples might be eating between:

  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Like any other diet, you want to eat healthy stuff, even within that 8-hour window.

Sample 16/8 9 to 5 Meal Plan:

9 a.m. – Egg and veggie scramble
11 a.m. – Yogurt and fruit
1 p.m. – Chicken and veggie stirfry
5 p.m. – Baked salmon with veggies

The key during the fasting times is to drink a lot of water or tea – pretty much any drink that has no calories. This helps you feel full and keeps you hydrated.

Eat Stop Eat Method

Day 1Day 2 Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6 Day 7
Regular Meals24-Hour Fast Regular Meals Regular Meals24-Hour FastRegular MealsRegular Meals

This method, created by Brad Pilon (he has a book, too – Eat Stop Eat) during his graduate studies. He suggests that 24-hour fasting once or twice a week is one of the best ways to lose weight.

Why it works: As with the other methods, you’re definitely eating fewer calories which means losing weight.

How it works: You eat normally during 5 days of the week, but during the 1 or 2 days you fast, you can only drink stuff that has zero calories. Doing this, you build a calorie-deficit that helps you lose weight over time.

The catch: You’re fasting, y’all. ‘Nuff said.

Some people think this method, is more versatile, allowing you to, say, go out to dinner without having to skip a meal or go to a party without being the party pooper.

Still, a lot of people would have a problem fasting for 24 hours with nothing but lemon water and tea, so there’s that.

Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting

Day 1Day 2 Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6 Day 7
Regular Meals24-Hour Fast

OR

500-800 Calories

Regular Meals24-Hour Fast

OR

500-800 Calories

Regular Meals24-Hour Fast

OR

500-800 Calories

Regular Meals

 

With this method, you fast every other day and on non-fasting days, you eat whatever you want. And you can decide if you want to completely fast every other day or if you want to modify on your fasting days and eat a low-calorie diet – like 500-800 calories, much like the 5:2 method.

Why it works: Like the other methods, you’re reducing your calories (even more than the 5:2 method), but you’re still getting enough food on the ‘fasting’ days to feel like you’re somewhat satisfied.

The catch: You have 3 days where you eating much less, or nothing at all, which can be challenging to follow.

If you decide on this method and you want to eat on the fasting days, you can follow the general ideas from the 5:2 method above as to what to eat and how much.

The Warrior Diet

Day 1 Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5 Day 6Day 7
8 pm-WakeupFASTFASTFASTFASTFASTFASTFAST
 Wakeup-4 pmSmall amounts of fruits and veggies Small amounts of fruits and veggies Small amounts of fruits and veggies Small amounts of fruits and veggiesSmall amounts of fruits and veggies Small amounts of fruits and veggies Small amounts of fruits and veggies
 4 pm – 8 pm LARGE MEALLARGE MEALLARGE MEALLARGE MEALLARGE MEALLARGE MEALLARGE MEAL

The Warrior Diet was popularized by Ori Hofmekler who wrote the book, The Warrior Diet: Switch on Your Biological Powerhouse For High Energy, Explosive Strength, and a Leaner, Harder Body.

His approach is to go back to our primal habits and is based on ‘survival science.’ I’m not really familiar with that, but the general idea is this: He used studies and historical data and learned that hunter-gatherers would usually eat sparingly during the day and then chow down at night.

How it works: You pretty much just each fruit and veggies all day and then eat a large meal in a 4 hour period, like between 4 and 8 pm.

Why it works: You’re cutting calories, of course

The catch: This is a tough one for many people because you’re kind of grazing on veggies all day and then, whammo, you’re putting a big meal in there that takes time to digest. This one would definitely be a challenge to follow.

Skipped Meals

Day 1Day 2 Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6 Day 7
BreakfastSkip Meal Breakfast BreakfastBreakfastBreakfastBreakfast
LunchLunchLunchSkip MealLunchLunchLunch
DinnerDinnerDinnerDinnerDinnerSkip MealDinner

Finally, we have skipping meals, which is a spontaneous way to do IF, but it may feel a little more natural. The idea is that, when you’re not hungry or you’re too busy to eat, you skip those meals (1 to 3), thus reducing calories and helping you lose weight.

Why it works: This might feel more natural to people than something more regimented like the methods listed above. The weight loss might be slower in this case, but because you’re choosing which meals you want to skip, you’re in control.

The catch: This really requires you to be more intuitive about your eating and making a conscious decision to skip a meal. That can be hard for many of us because most of us eat automatically at certain times of the day.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a way to lose weight without counting calories or following complicated meal plans, intermittent fasting might be for. There are enough options that most people could probably find a comfortable version of IF, whether you want something more extreme (24-hour fasting) or something more flexible (say just skipping meals when you feel like it).

The key here is to, first, choose the method(s) that fit with your lifestyle and, second, feel free to change up your methods as needed to match what’s going on in our life.

Intermittent Fasting: Small Meal Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner!

Are you into intermittent fasting? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

 

 

My Favorite Trick to Get Big Things Done

If I had to pick the one topic I’m always Googling on the Interwebs (besides hilarious pet videos) it would probably be:

Getting S**t Done

I’m the kind of person who, given a Big Project, will tend to do things like watch funny animal videos, check email every 5 minutes, or suddenly decide I should organize my books by color rather than START on Big Project.

I’ve had a lot of big projects in the last couple of years and one really sticks out right now: I have to write a book.

Write. A. Book.

Now I’ve written a couple of books before, but that doesn’t matter. Anytime you’re faced with something That Big, even if you’ve done it before, you’re like: I have no idea how to do this. I’m a fraud. What if everyone finds out I have no idea what the hell I’m doing?!? (she screams hysterically in her own mind because she doesn’t want to scare the dog)

You know what? I’m going to go check my sock drawer now because I’m sure there is an organizational crisis happening right under my nose. Must. Fix. Now.

Okay, so that’s one goal I have right now (I’ve actually signed a contract, so it’s more than a goal – more like a job, right?) and I finally had to sit down and just look at the thing.

The Big Huge Thing.

Think of the goals (or maybe jobs) you have hanging over you…big ones like running a marathon (bless your heart), dropping clothes sizes (same), becoming more “minimalist,” (nope) saving $$$ to buy/pay off a house or retire, or … well, you get the picture.

These are BIG GOALS that require a big commitment.

They can take time … energy … and a LOT of patience.

Which can make them seem overwhelming … which means it will likely be harder to keep your energy and motivation up. That’s what I felt when I sat down at my computer and opened a document and typed: “Introduction.”

Blink. Blink. Blink. Went the cursor. From. Hell.

Is that a movie? The cursor from hell? Maybe it should be a country song.

I spent a little time trying to figure out how to tackle The Big Huge Thing (cuz, you know, procrastinating but in a productive way) and I came up with this trick:

Break the Big Huge Thing into SMALLER MINI-GOALS … goals that you can achieve in a short period of time.

I know you’ve probably heard this before…I have, too and have pretty much ignored it, like most of us. We know it, but we don’t actually put it into practice. Why do we do this to ourselves?

When you create smaller goals, you tap into the power of momentum to push yourself forward.

Let’s say you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, but you’re not much of a runner (yet). The idea of going from the couch to running 26.2 miles seems a little wild, right?

What if you started with a mini-goal of jogging for just 5 or 10 minutes without stopping?

That gives you the confidence to build up until you can run a 5K (3.1 miles) … and then a 10K … and then your next goal, and the next, and then the marathon.

Make sense?

For me, I broke the book down by my outline. Start with the introduction. Just that. And once words were on the page I could breathe a little easier and just go paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter.

The book is all about Strength Training for Seniors, if you want to know (and you’ll hear about it, y’all).

The Real Key to Getting S**T Done

First, set your mini-goal. Then to make it stick: Recognize and celebrate each new mini-goal. This helps you build up some serious confidence and excitement, making it a LOT more likely for you to keep the momentum going and get The Big Thing done.

It’s incredibly empowering.

What BIG GOAL is on your list right now?

And… more importantly, what’s that FIRST step you’re going to take to achieve it?

Leave a comment to share your goals and your first step.

Let’s get ‘er done, y’all.

Why You Gain Belly Fat When You’re Stressed

“I’m still looking for this kitchen in which abs are made…do you know where it is?”

That’s what one client said to me during a discussion in which she informed me that her belly was fat and nothing she did would get rid of it and she was gross and disgusting.

The wine we were having (this was a friend visit, NOT a workout – although I’m not against boozercise under the right circumstances) was not helping our bellies, but it was definitely helping our attitudes.

Look, I don’t want anyone out there to feel gross and disgusting, but I know what it’s like when you do and I’m not going to lie – It’s not easy to get rid of – the feeling AND the belly fat. If it were, I would not be having a wine-versation about gross and disgusting bellies, nor would I be writing this article.

And yes, diet is one of the most important aspects of losing belly fat…we’ll get to that. But there are other things we need to work on too and working on All of Them At The Same Time can make your eyeballs fall out of your head, roll across the floor and become your cat’s next favorite toy.

We don’t want that.

So let’s deal with things one thing at a time.

One major contributor to belly fat is:

STRESS

You need stress management. I know – the word management is an ugly one, so let’s just say stress management is all about pulling your s**t together.

In a previous article, I talked about how to tame your stress in several easy (okay, not easy, but worth trying) steps. In this one, we’re digging deeper to find out what stress is, what it does to your mind and body and, most important, how it affects your belly fat.

Stress – What the Heck IS It?

The dictionary says that stress is ‘mental, emotional, or physical strain or tension.’

Well, that covers just about everything we see, hear, do, say, think, feel or dream about.

Thanks, dictionary.com

Another definition is – The body’s reaction to a change that requires you to adjust or respond. Thanks Cleveland Clinic

That still means every damn thing causes some kind of stress. Turning the lights on, going outside, coming inside, listening to your husband snore like a chainsaw caught in a motorcycle inside a garbage truck, or when your cat sticks his nose in your armpit (perhaps that’s just me). 

But let’s narrow that definition to what we all really want to deal with:

Chronic Stress and Belly Fat

Here’s what I want you to know about chronic stress because some of it has nothing to do with your mind…it has to do with your body. Like all the physiological things going on inside that you can’t measure, track, or even see.

First, let’s talk about what stress feels like.

Symptoms of Chronic Stress

According to Healthline here are just SOME of the symptoms of stress:

  • Acne (been there, y’all)
  • Headaches, especially tension headaches
  • Pain – Some studies show that cortisol might be associated with chronic pain
  • Getting sick a lot – your immune system isn’t in the best shape when you’re stressed
  • Low energy
  • Insomnia
  • Zero sex drive
  • Stomach issues – digestive stuff, GI stuff like heartburn and acid reflux – all the fun ones
  • Changes in appetite – either eating way more or way less
  • Depress and anxiety
  • Sweating

I think I’ve had about all of these symptoms at one time or another and you can see why this makes life really uncomfortable. So, let’s get to the real deal now.

What Chronic Stress Does to Your Mind and Body (aka – It’s NOT YOUR FAULT)

Here’s what happens when your body is under chronic stress: 

  1. When you’re stressed out, your brain (part of the hypothalamus if you want to get technical) secretes a corticotrophin-releasing hormone. Stay with me here…nevermind – we’re going to call it CRH, okay?
  2. This hormone has a LOT of things to do in your body and is the main driver of the stress hormone system. 
  3. Once this hormone is triggered, it’s like s**t rolling downhill…it triggers other hormones.
  4. These hormones get into your bloodstream to your adrenal glands where…tada! 
  5. Your body secrets cortisol.

The stress hormone.

Let’s Talk About Cortisol for a Sec

You’ve heard about fight or flight, correct? Well, this was honed in our bodies back in the day when we were hunters and gathers and had to be on alert ALL THE TIME.

Fast forward to now and here’s the thing – Your body can’t tell the difference between a saber tooth tiger chasing you or the sight of your boss walking past your cubicle.

It reacts the same way every time – fight? Or flight? 

Now to the crux of the matter. Weight gain and stress.

Here’s Weight Gain Problem #1:

Stress is related to weight gain because in order to fight or flee you need energy. Cortisol is responsible for helping you to receive the energy you need, primarily by increasing your blood sugar. 

It does this by converting protein to sugar, then releasing stored glucose in your liver. When blood sugar levels are high, insulin (the fat-storing hormone) is secreted in order to transport the blood sugar to the brain and working muscles. 

Here is the catch: the muscles aren’t working because there is no physical stress, only emotional. You’re not moving, so the excess sugar you just secreted (and probably replaced in the form of yummy carbs, more on that later)  in the form of carbohydrates gets stored as fat. 

Here’s Weight Gain Problem #2:

Okay, so all the hormones are stimulated, excess sugar is running around in your body and you aren’t physically using that sugar.

Now? The real s**tshow starts. All of these hormonal reactions stimulate your cravings for comfort foods!

See how your body is driving this train? It’s. Not. Your. Fault. Take a deep breath and say it with me – It’s. Not. My. Fault. 

It’s physiology driving the cravings and, as one study shows, eating comfort foods “may directly result in reduction of the negative effects of the chronic stressor.”

Yep – Eating that mac ‘n cheese actually reduces the negative side effects of your boss or your kids or your life or your snoring husband or whatever is totally stressing you out.

That’s why we do it. That’s why we want to eat crap when we’re stressed the eff out.

Here’s Weight Gain Problem #3:

The fun doesn’t start there, y’all. Because here we are – Stress starts, the hormones break free, your flight or fight system kicks in, your body is producing excess sugar, your hormones are begging you for comfort food so you can feel better and….

All those excess calories? Go right to your belly.

Cortisol actually stimulates fat storage, especially around the belly. According to stress.org, “There is little doubt that increased stress and/or cortisol can cause increased abdominal fat and weight gain.

Why does this happen? Because our bodies protect us in times of stress by holding onto fat. 

What’s Next

So…you know what’s going on with your body. What next? How do you break the cycle of stress?

Your first step is to understand where you are in the stress-cortisol continuum. Start with this:

Learning to balance your emotional needs.

Click on the link above and download the free PDF from Professional-Counselling.com. Take some time to go through the worksheet because your first step to reducing stress AND belly fat is figuring out how to take better care of yourself. That’s the first thing you do. More to come!

Sources:

Dallman MF, Pecoraro NC, la Fleur SE. Chronic stress and comfort foods: self-medication and abdominal obesity. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2005;19(4):275-280. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2004.11.004

Heckman W. Stress, Cortisol and Abdominal Fat. The American Institute of Stress. https://www.stress.org/stress-cortisol-and-abdominal-fat.

 

The Truth About Belly Fat…

 

Here’s what I really want you to know, after months, well years really, of struggling with a stubborn belly that I couldn’t get rid of and, frankly, seemed like it was going to ruin my life.

I figured it out.

Here’s the thing: I got so frustrated, with myself and my clients, that I was like – I am going to figure this s**t out. It was my purpose to figure out just what was going on and what I discovered was that getting rid of my belly was the OPPOSITE of why I was doing.

It’s not about crazy intense workouts. It’s not about following a ‘diet’ and starving yourself.

As a personal trainer, that’s something I’ve always done for myself when I wanted to lose weight, that’s what I always taught my clients who wanted to lose weight.

But at this stage, it wasn’t working for me and it wasn’t working for my readers and clients.

What I finally realized is that what used to work when I was in my 20s and 30s just doesn’t for a 40-something, 50-something, or 60-something body.

It just doesn’t work. Our bodies are different, y’all and they simply don’t respond to diet and exercise the same way.

So once I realized that, I started researching and found that so much of that extra padding around the waistline stems from hormonal and physiological changes happening behind the scenes.

And some of the things we do to try to get rid of belly fat are actually the opposite of what we should be doing. They’re only adding more stress and more belly fat.

Once I changed what I was doing, I finally started feeling better, looking better. I had to change my workouts. I had to change my eating. And at no point was I miserable or starving myself, despite the fact that that’s what we all think works.

It doesn’t.

All of this was what led me to create my 12-Week Bye-Bye Belly Fat Program, and a more consolidated version that gives you a quick jumpstart, my 28-Day Belly Fat Transformation.

It includes all the research that I’ve done to figure out the right way to treat your body so you can finally get results.

It’s coming in January 2020.

Jenny Did It – So Can You

If you feel a little hopeless about losing belly fat, I want to lift your mood a little to talk about my client *Jenny (changed her name at her request).

She had a weight problem that she struggled with pretty much her entire life. She had tried every diet in the universe (she, like myself, is a drama queen…love her) and the working out was only just going so-so because, frankly, she hated it.

Now, I was going through my own belly fat struggles at the same time and because I was, I could now really see her situation from HER perspective, not just as a trainer who’s giving her assignments.

As a person going through the same damn thing.

I knew exactly how she felt.

None of her clothes fit. She hated looking at herself in the mirror…nothing. worked. 

I know that a lot of you can relate to that which is why I wanted to share this story and one of the tips I used to help Jenny lose belly fat, so make sure to read to the end so you can get that tip.

Jenny’s biggest issue, besides, having trouble sticking to workouts, was her diet. Like she would got on Keto or Paleo or whatever and she’d lose weight but then? She’d just gain it right back because she would have crazy late night cravings.

Like she would be really good all day and then, whammo…9 pm and she was like, I canNOT take it anymore.

She was convinced, though that she HAD to be on a diet all the time to lose weight and I was like…no you don’t.

No. You. Don’t.

Now, she was initially skeptical because she had this idea in her head of what you’re supposed to lose fat which is a lot of exercise and? A specific DIET. Counting calories, weighing food, you know the drill.

But I had to tell her nope. No diet. NO DIET.

She was all – “What?? No! DIET!”

NO DIET.

I think we’re all resistant to the idea that “Wait a minute, that’s not the answer?”

So it did take some convincing but she was desperate. You know, at some point you just think “I have to do something about this!”

And that’s where my tip comes in here: Meal Prep.

No counting calories. No weighing food. No worrying about every bite.

We started slowly and worked on it and in the process, she lost 10.5 inches almost 4 from her belly.

She had a system now where she got to eat REAL food, food she could easily make (Jenny is like me, not much of a cook). And she could still enjoy the foods she loved. She could give into some cravings without falling off the healthy choices completely.

This created momentum – she was like “Finally! I can stick with something. I feel good about myself!”

Every success led to the next success.

So I wanted to share that with you and if you want to be my next success story, stay tuned because there’s more to come.

I didn’t feel like ME anymore

It’s Paige here and how are you? I know the holidays can be stressful so I really hope you’re finding a way to stay sane.

Now, here’s what I want to talk about: I remember the first time I became aware of my weight as a, well, kind of ‘characteristic’ that somehow defined me.

I was probably 12 or so and, until then, I hadn’t thought about my weight or my shape or anything. Then my mother, with all good intentions, mentioned I was getting a little chunky.

That was it. That was all I needed to suddenly know that this was something I had to worry about. To control. To feel good or bad about.

She never said anything about it after that and, like I said, it was coming from a loving place and if she hadn’t said something someone else would have (like my boyfriend’s brother who, on a rock climbing trip, mentioned I was, ahem, big – yes I still don’t like you ex-boyfriend’s brother – you’re  big jerk).

For a lot of us, that fight with weight starts early and goes on forever, and for me, even though I didn’t really have a weight problem I was constantly aware of it.

Fast forward to my 40s when the real fight began. Yep. It happened. Despite exercising, eating mostly healthy, being a personal trainer…I. Got. BELLY FAT.

Big Belly Fat.

It was devastating in a way I haven’t experienced before. I know we have tough relationships with our bodies, but this relationship? Went in the toilet.

My clothes didn’t fit. My MIND didn’t fit. My body didn’t fit. I didn’t fit anymore and I have never felt worse about myself.

At the time I was 43. I had put on 25 lbs.

This could NOT be happening to me.

But it was.

And no matter how hard I worked out or how many diets I tried, nothing worked. I was at my lowest point and I thought I would never feel good about myself again.

But then I was like f**k that! I can figure this out, right? And that became my mission.

Why I started Get Fit With Paige.

Why I started my Bye-Bye Belly Fat Facebook Group.

And that’s why I created my 12 Week Bye-Bye Belly Fat Program and, as part of it, my more condensed 28-Day Belly Fat Transformation Program.

It worked for me. I want it to work for you.

My 3-second question to eliminate temptation…

Picture this for a second….

You’re at a holiday party. You’re surrounded by your family, friends, or coworkers and are having a great time.

Drinks are flowing and food is everywhere. And it’s delicious. In fact, you’ve already indulged in some of your favorites, in moderation of course 😉

But then your friend asks you to have another drink, and then someone else asks you to try that amazing casserole they made. Or maybe a plate of cookies has caught your eye.

Even though you’re full, you can feel yourself about to give in to those temptations –
and break the commitment you made with yourself not to overdo it.

Ever been there before? 

I know I have.

Here’s something that can change EVERYTHING for you:

Take ONE big breath, remind yourself of your goals and your WHY …

And then ask yourself this simple question: How will you feel tomorrow if you break that commitment?

Will it be worth it?

Will you feel rested, energized, and be able to live your day to the fullest?

Will you be happy with where you are on your wellness journey?

I know that when I overindulge, I don’t sleep well. My stomach gets upset, I’m usually a little moody, and I basically feel like I’m dragging my body around for the entire next day.

For me, having those extra drinks or piece of cake isn’t worth the way I feel afterwards.

It also sets me up for cravings.

But when I ask myself, “How will I feel tomorrow?” or even more immediately, “How will this affect my sleep tonight?”…

It’s 1000x easier to follow through with my commitment to myself.

It also creates a powerful mindset shift because it turns a negative (feeling deprived) into a huge positive (feeling energized, stronger, and empowered).

And check this out…

In a study back in the 1960s, kids were left in a room with one marshmallow on a plate.

They were told they could eat that one marshmallow immediately, or wait 15 minutes and get two marshmallows.

Those who waited scored higher on standardized tests, had better health, and were less likely to have behavior problems. I know – what a weird study, right? Who thinks this stuff up?

Studies continue to show that people who keep their goals in mind and put off their immediate “wants” in exchange for a more desirable “end result” will generally do better in their relationships, careers, health and even with their money.

Remember- moderation is the KEY to success. I hate that word, too, but it’s that middle ground where we make the most progress.

So while you’re at having fun at your holiday parties this month, give this strategy a try when you’re facing temptation from that extra piece of homemade pie!

Also, I’ve got some good news.

I’ve got something really cool coming in January that will start of your new year with a nice little boost. Stay tuned and leave a comment if you have any tips for staying on track during the holidays.

REFERENCE:

www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-emotional-meter/201712/the-benefits-delaying-gratification

4 Tips for Stress-Free Holidays

Okay, we’re hitting the middle of November and the holidays are coming. We canNOT stop it and, for a lot of us, it’s one of the busiest times of the year.

Before everything ramps up … let’s take some time to get prepared now.

A little bit of effort now will help you cruise through the holidays without the stress. Okay, we can’t really get rid of all the stress, but we can tone it down a little.

It all starts with taking care of YOU.

When life gets hectic, one of the first things to drop off our to-do lists is our self-care routine. Which is ironic, since taking a little time for yourself each day will help you do everything else better.

Here are some tips to stay ahead of the game:

1. Try to make a simple meal plan each week during the holidays, so you can avoid too many on-the-go meals. Holiday treats are notoriously high in salt, fat, and sugar, which will just leave you feeling bloated and blah.

But more importantly, eating sugary foods affects the good bacteria in your gut (that helps you fight off cold and flu viruses), which obviously can have a negative impact on your immune system.

What are some easy meals you can throw together at the last minute? My go-to’s are turkey burgers and veggies, scrambled eggs (yes, even for dinner!) and sweet potato, pre-roasted veggies with some grilled chicken. 

Search “sheet pan recipes” on Google if you want to find some quick and easy meals that won’t take a lot of time!

2. Don’t compromise on your exercise time.  Keep your immune system happy and get in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like a brisk walk) most days of the week.

One study found that women who walked for a half-hour every day for a year had 50% fewer colds than those who didn’t. That’s because regular walking appears to lead to having more infection-fighting white blood cells.

Not only that, but exercise can help you fight stress. When you work out, your body releases more feel-good, mood-boosting hormones.

3. Make a list (or three). If you have a hectic holiday schedule, start planning now so you can do as much ahead of time as possible. Running around at the last minute trying to get everything done is the absolute worst!

Put together a checklist of everything you have to do, and then do it (even better, delegate it if you can).

4. Relax. Make time for family and friends, and enjoying old traditions or making new ones.

Let go of expectations of how you think things “should” go, and enjoy them as they are! It’s often the things that happen out of the ordinary that we look back on with a smile.

If you’re going to be alone or working over the holidays, make time to mark the occasion! Watch a movie, eat a special meal, or treat yourself to a spa session.

Keep an eye on your inbox, because I’ve got great recipe ideas and stress-free holiday tips coming your way over the next few weeks.

REFERENCE:

www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/exercise-when-you-have-cold#1

The best make-ahead chili recipe ever

Okay, guys…as I write this it is November 8th, 2019 and it is 30 degrees, but feels like 22 degrees.

Even for the native Chicagoans (of which I am not one, but I live here cuz I have to), this is Very Cold for this time of year.

So, I’ve decided as many of us do the deep dive into the artic, we need a treat.

Wine.

The end.

Okay, pour your wine and then dig into this other treat. It’s a delicious recipe that is destined to become one of your regular go-to’s because not only does it taste amazing, but you can change it up to reflect your (or your family’s) likes/dislikes and use ingredients you have on hand.

Plus, it’s really easy to make extra AND it tastes even better the next day.

Need more reasons to love this recipe?

It’s gluten-free, paleo, and it can even be vegan if you’re so inclined. You can eat a bowl as-is, or you can top a salad with it, or use it in tacos or over rice. It can be prepared on the stove but if you have the time, it’s also great made in a slow cooker.

OK, enough of the buildup. I’m going to include the basic recipe with suggestions to switch it up below, but honestly you can experiment with it any way you want.

The Amazing “Anything” Chili

Ingredients:

1 to 1½ pounds of ground meat: beef, turkey, meat alternative (such as Beyond Meat products)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbsp olive or coconut oil

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and diced

1 bell pepper (red/yellow/orange are sweeter than green, your choice!), diced

2-3 medium summer squash, diced

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 15-ounce can tomato puree or tomato sauce

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid

(Optional: up to 1 cup water/chicken broth as needed to thin out consistency if the chili is too thick)

Instructions:

In a large skillet or pot, brown your meat over medium heat, adding garlic about halfway through so it doesn’t scorch. Drain off the fat and remove from the skillet.

In the same skillet, add the oil, onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, summer squash, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure everything cooks evenly.

When the veggies are soft and the onions are starting to caramelize, return the meat to the skillet and add the tomato puree and diced tomatoes to the pot, stirring well. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Eat immediately, or keep it simmering on low for later, or put it in the fridge for later.

Slow cooker alternative: Cook the meat and then the veggies in a skillet, then move to the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients, and cook on high for 1 hour and low for 3-4 hours.

Substitutions: Instead of (or in addition to!) carrots, add chopped butternut squash or sweet potatoes. Looking for a more “earthy” flavor? Experiment with parsnips or rutabaga.

Additions: Black beans or white beans, broccoli, spinach or cauliflower. Or you can add a jar of salsa for an extra kick! If you add beans and are using a slow cooker, wait till the last hour or so before adding them so they don’t turn to mush.

This is easy to make, it’ll keep you warm, it’s healthy and if you have wine with it, you may just get through this weather.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

What’s your favorite chili ingredient? Leave a comment!

Do THIS to never start over AGAIN.

When it comes to worn-out health and fitness terms, the words ‘Cheat Day’ have definitely had their day in the sun. Or shade, as the case may be.

You can find umpteen articles about whether having a cheat day is a good thing or a bad thing, but it really depends on YOU.

So, I once worked with a client who regularly complained that she would have a cheat meal…which led to a cheat weekend… and then it’s like starting all over.

I think there’s this mentality where you’re like: “Well, I already ate half the pizza…might as well go all the way.” And we also think – “I’ll worry about it tomorrow or Monday.”

Yeah, been there too many times to count.

After going through this with my client,  I was inspired to share a SIMPLE shift that can help you break out of that cycle FOREVER. 

In fact, it’s so important to understand… and it’ll make a massive difference in your long-term success and happiness.

Here it is: You are only ONE WORKOUT or ONE CLEAN MEAL away from being back on-track.

“Starting all over again” doesn’t have to be a big production. All you have to do is eat a healthy meal (whatever that looks like for you) or make it to your next workout.

That’s because if you adopt the “one workout or meal away” mindset, you are never “off” or “on” a program … you are simply living a fitness/wellness lifestyle.

Your “cheat” meals suddenly aren’t “cheats” … they simply are meals that contain foods you don’t normally eat. They are no big deal! That’s because you know that the next meal or the next workout, you’re back to your regular scheduled lifestyle.

Not only that, but you can finally stop feeling guilty if you eat something that’s not on your plan.

Guilt is a complicated emotion. In small doses, it can keep you on track. But too much guilt will poison to your mindset, results AND your happiness.

Guilt can make you literally feel heavier and make it harder for you to make decisions… will zap your energy AND your ability to concentrate. 

The worst thing of all: guilt can tell you that you aren’t capable of achieving your goals and make you feel like you aren’t worthy of good things. (when that couldn’t be further from the truth).

Here’s the thing – Too much guilt is not motivating. In fact, it’s the opposite. Guilt makes me want to eat pizza and drink wine (well I always want to drink wine). And missing a workout or eating something considered a ‘cheat’ is not worth your guilt.

You’re human. It will happen. And we all have to learn how to shrug it off and say, hey. I did that. But…remember

You are never more than ONE MEAL or ONE WORKOUT away from being right back on track.

And then just make sure that next meal or that next workout is a good one- even if you don’t feel like it. 🙂 You’ll thank yourself later, of course. 

So there is your one simple strategy for lifelong success.

Do you have a strategy that helps you when you feel like you’re off track? Leave a comment!

How to Upgrade Your Salad

Salad.

I know it has 5 letters, but it’s a 4-letter word for all of us at one time or another. I sometimes feel that all I eat are salads, but if that were true I probably wouldn’t struggle with my weight as much as I do.

So, how do you make salad more…interesting? Here’s an idea: Chopped Salad.

Wait, don’t leave yet. I have some good stuff for you. Just hang with me.

Yes, chopped salads take a little more time to make, but they are so good it kind of feels like a treat. Yes, I said that. And that’s what it’s all about when it comes to weight loss – Making small changes and feeling like you’re not giving something up.

You don’t have to use anything elaborate for this salad – get a mix of your favorites and make sure they are fresh.

Here are some ideas:

Fresh dark leafy greens
Carrots, celery, colorful bell peppers
Cucumber
Tomatoes
Cooked uncured bacon
Fruit (apples and berries are great additions)
Fresh grilled chicken
Almonds, pecans or walnuts
Avocado
Goat cheese
And if you want to jazz it up, pumpkin seeds and roasted butternut squash are also great this time of year!

Before you assemble the salad, make sure your produce has been cleaned and then thoroughly dried. Chopping can make them more watery than usual, which can affect your salad’s texture.

Toss all your ingredients except avocado into a salad bowl … and then dump it back out onto a chopping board.

Using a large, sharp knife, chop your ingredients into bite-sized pieces. When your salad has reached the perfect consistency, put it back in the bowl, drizzle it with your favorite dressing and top with avocado and cheese if you’re using them.

You can also use a food processor, which I totally do because I’m lazy and a bad chopper who always cuts herself. I just hit the button a few times and voila! Done. Use your time wisely, people.

My favorite salad dressing is a homemade olive oil & apple cider vinegar combo with Himalayan salt and fresh pepper.

It’s really easy to make. It’s basically a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to oil. So if you’re making 1 serving, put ½ tbsp of apple cider vinegar and 1½ tbsp of oil into a mason jar or other covered container and shake it till its combined. Taste and adjust the vinegar if you want more. Mix it into the salad and it’s time to eat!

This is a really fast and easy salad that you’ll actually look forward to. Try it and let me know what you think. What do you like to add to your chopped salad?

BONUS RECIPE!

Here’s a chopped salad you’re going to love. You can totally meal-prep this one:

Rainbow Chopped Salad Jars.

Don’t change your habits…upgrade them

How do we do what we do each day? The alarm goes off and we got up and do our thing – Workout, brush your teeth, shower, feed and walk the dog…even if you don’t feel like it, you do it. Part of that is just plain old habit (and I do care about my dog and my teeth, so walking and brushing are necessities as far as I’m concerned).

Some of it is discipline, too. And some of it is just – This is what I need to do to take care of myself.

Building healthy new habits is NOT easy. We’ve already got so many in the first place, how do we add more when it’s hard enough to do the ones we’ve already practiced for so long?

One way to look at is is this: Rather than feeling overwhelmed when it comes to creating healthy habits, what if you felt comfortable? At ease? I know…it seems impossible, doesn’t it?

So, why not come at this in a different way? It always seems like with diets and healthy habits and such, we’re always trying to take things away…the foods we like (no more chocolate!) or the things we like to do (turn off the Netflix and get moving!). Taking away is always a depressing thing, which is why I propose something simpler:

What if instead of trying to toss your old, not-so-great habits (i.e., snacking on candy during the afternoon, grabbing that bagel for breakfast, etc.) or completely overhaul your lifestyle, you focused on UPGRADING your existing habits?

By that I mean, trade “up” in your choices.

This shift in your thinking – and your actions – makes change a lot easier. That’s because you aren’t trying to “undo” something.

Rather than feeling deprived, it will feel like you’re treating yourself (because you are – and your body will appreciate it!).

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

If you normally eat a muffin for breakfast, upgrade it to a sprouted-grain bread topped with almond butter and natural strawberry preserves.
If you scroll social media during work or lunch breaks, you could upgrade that by heading outside to take a walk instead.
A cookie can be upgraded for a cup of your favorite fruit.
Try a grass-fed beef burger instead of hitting the drive-through.
A sandwich at lunch can become a chopped salad (seriously, have you ever had a chopped salad? Deliciousness in every bite.).

Your assignment: think of at least one habit you’d like to upgrade (get more exercise, eat more veggies, etc.). Then, think about your current actions and what you’re going to “upgrade’ it to going forward.

What’s ONE upgrade you’re going to commit to during the next few weeks?

Leave a comment or Share your upgrade over in our Facebook Group.

This nutrient keeps you feeling healthy AND full…

​​​​​​​​Did you know that there is a nutrient in your food that can keep you feeling full, doesn’t have any calories, and also help you live longer?
 
Most of us don’t get enough of it. No it’s not wine. Sorry.
 
It’s fiber, and it’s definitely worth taking a look at your intake since most of us don’t get enough.
 
Spoiler alert: I’ve got a delish fiber-rich recipe below that you definitely are going to want to try.
 
Before we get to that, though, let’s talk about how much fiber you need to get every day. 
 
According to the Institute of Medicine, men under the age of 50 should aim for 38 grams of fiber and women under 50 need 25 grams. Meanwhile, if you’re over 50, men need 30 grams and women need 21 grams.
 
There are two basic kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Your body can’t absorb either, so it passes through your body (which is why it makes a good food choice to keep your internal plumbing humming).
 
SOLUBLE FIBER dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material as it moves through your system. It can help lower your blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It’s found in oats, apples, chia and flax seeds, citrus fruits, carrots, peas, beans, barley, and in psyllium powder.
 
INSOLUBLE FIBER is especially good for people who tend not to have regular bowel movements because it helps move waste through your system. It’s found in nuts, legumes, some veggies (cauliflower, potatoes, green beans), and if you aren’t gluten sensitive you also can get it in whole wheat flour and wheat bran.
 
Both kinds of fiber are incredibly good for your health. Here are some things that a fiber-rich diet helps with:
 

●      Bowel movements. Fiber can help with both constipation and loose stools.
●      Digestive system. Fiber can help prevent hemorrhoids and diverticulitis. Studies show a fiber-rich diet also might lower your risk of colorectal cancer.
●      Lowers cholesterol. Soluble fiber lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol, and it shows promise for reducing blood pressure as well as inflammation in your body.
●      Blood sugar. Soluble fiber can help ease blood sugar spikes, and insoluble fiber appears to help reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
●      Longevity. Some studies show that an increased fiber intake is correlated with a reduced risk of dying from heart disease and all cancers.
●      Healthy weight. Fiber keeps you feeling full, which can help you from eating too much.

So, how do you know if you’re getting enough? It’s worth taking a couple days to track your fiber intake – you can do this by reading labels, but since many fiber-rich foods don’t actually come with food labels, it’s a lot easier to use a food tracking app or website (there are hundreds available, but two reliable ones are myfitnesspal.com or cronometer.com). 
 
Note: When you start tracking your fiber, try not to suddenly load up on fiber-rich foods if you’re not used to eating them. There’s a chance your digestive system might rebel a little. You can save yourself some misery if you gradually increase your intake over a few weeks. 🙂 
 
OK, now for the recipe.
 
I really like this because you can customize it any way you want. To boost the fiber (along with antioxidants and other micronutrients), you can add nuts and/or berries or other fruits. A dash of cinnamon will add even more blood-sugar-stabilizing effects!
 
This recipe will keep in the fridge for several days.
 
Make-Ahead Chia Pudding
(makes 2 servings)
 
¾ cup dairy-free milk (choose your fav)
¼ cup chia seeds
½ tbsp honey or maple syrup 
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
 
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator at least 6 hours, until it becomes thick and pudding-like. Sometimes the chia seeds clump together at the bottom of the bowl, so you might need to stir the mixture to ensure they fully absorb the liquid.
 
Taste and adjust sweetness as needed. Place in a serving bowl and add the optional nuts/fruit.

Enjoy!

Reference:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

Love Junk Food? There’s a Reason We Keep Going Back for More

Junk food. Most of us love it because it’s got All The Things that keep our brains and bodies ‘happy.’ Sugar, fat, carbs, hydrogenated megazonium (I made that last one up).

And it’s interesting because I came across a study about ultra-processed foods (aka junk food) and how they make us want to eat more.

It’s Not Just Calories In/Out

Here are the basics of what they found in this study: people who eat a diet of “ultra-processed” food take in more calories and gain more weight than people who eat less-processed food – even when they are given meals containing the same calories and macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbs).

The study was conducted by the National Institutes for Health and published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Scientists had 10 men and 10 women check into a clinic for a month, and fed them a controlled diet. For two weeks they were given meals consisting of ultra-processed foods, and then for another two weeks they ate a diet of minimally processed foods. They could eat as much of their meals as they wanted.

As an example, an ultra-processed breakfast was a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while a whole foods breakfast included oatmeal, bananas, walnuts, and skim milk.

When they were given the “ultra” processed diet, the study subjects ate their meals faster AND consumed about 500 more calories a day… not surprisingly, they also gained an average of about 2 pounds.

Meanwhile, they lost about 2 pounds on the minimally processed diet.

This is the first study to ever show a direct relationship between processed foods and weight gain when other factors are controlled. Even so, it’s something we’ve kind of known over the years, right?

But here’s the kicker: processed foods are filled with things that make us want to eat more – salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. So not only are they linked with eating more, they ALSO contribute to chronic health problems.

When we eat MORE of those foods, we’re taking in yet more things that are not good for us. (Other studies have suggested that junk foods are engineered specifically to make us want to eat more.)

Here’s another thing “shocking-not shocking” aspect of the study: the processed diet was actually much CHEAPER (by almost 50%!).

Scientists estimated the weekly cost to prepare 2,000 calories a day of the ultra-processed diet at $106, while the minimally processed diet cost $151, based on the prices at a nearby supermarket.

Here’s my personal takeaway on this one. The food you eat is SO MUCH more than just “calories.” It has a powerful effect on your health and well-being… and eating a healthy, whole-foods-based diet makes a strong statement to manufacturers when it comes to our food supply.

“Over time, extra calories add up, and that extra weight can lead to serious health conditions,” said one of the scientists in a press release about the study.

How can you save money when it comes to eating a healthy diet? Buy in bulk, shop sales, and use your freezer as much as possible.

Get a head start with Meal Prep Veggie Bowls.

Why I Just Needed to Shut Down

So, let’s talk electronics. Specifically – Computers.

Remember this guy?

That was me this week.

Here’s the thing. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting an error message every couple of days letting me know that my computer was experiencing heavy memory usage and I needed shut some stuff down and/or get more RAM.

Like many warnings I get, I ignored it.

It’s kind of like what I’m going to call the Paint Can Phenomenon. Whenever I get out a can of paint to touch something up, do I get a drop cloth or something to protect the floor? No. And you know what else I don’t do? I don’t put the top of the paint can in a safe place.

I’m doing a touchup. NBD. Nothing’s going to happen.

Except every single time I’ve done that, I’ve forgotten the top of the paint can was right there and, yes – stepped in it, on it, dropped my husband’s wallet on it, accidentally flipped it over and got paint on the floor, got paint on the cat’s whiskers…you name it.

Yet, my brain is still like – This is only going to take a second…who has TIME for this? I’m just going to do this one little area and…well, damn. I did it again.

So, I ignored my computer because I really didn’t have time for it’s obnoxious little warning and, for awhile, I would just shut a couple of things down things seemed to work again.

Yet, it keeps happening again and again because I’m running about 10 different apps in the background and I have 3 different browser windows open and about 20 tabs open in those and, when my computer warns me I’m like:

I do NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS.

Then it froze right when I was writing something amazing. Something that I couldn’t save or take a screenshot of or even a decent picture with my phone (which I tried). I mean, it wasn’t like the amazing “I Have a Dream” speech but I was on a roll and any writer knows how awesome that is.

And there it went…the spinning rainbow wheel, spinning and torturing me and I was like if I just WAIT things will go back to normal, right?

Oh, dear Paige. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of my life (I miss watching Days of Our Lives).

So I looked up what I needed to do to fix it which involved, first, shutting it down and, after that installing more memory (not really a big deal) and uninstalling old stuff and my brain decided IT was simply out of memory.

I got so fed up that I shut everything down. EVERYTHING. Like my computer, modem, router, that other thing that’s on my desk that does something I forget.

Then I took the dog for a walk. I breathed. I listened to a podcast about the Bachelorette (I’m not embarrassed to admit that. My brain was THAT fried) and a little later, I turned everything back on.

Voila. Things were working – At least for now.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott

So there it is. There are signs you really do need to just shut down and reboot, especially when you feel like you’re running so fast but can barely keep up.

Sometimes stepping out of the race (temporarily) is exactly what you need to do to find your power to keep going.

Our society rewards pushing hard and never giving up. And both of those things are super important – nothing gets done unless someone actually DOES the work.

But there is also another saying:

“To every thing there is a season …”

Basically, if you push hard, you also need to make time to rest just as “hard” so you can power back up again.

Taking time to rest has absolutely NOTHING to do with being lazy or unproductive. In fact, it’s a KEY part of being a productive and healthy person.

Often when you unplug, you come back more inspired, with fresh ideas to make improvements, and with more energy to take on your day.

What are some ways to power down? It doesn’t mean vegging on the couch and bingeing an entire season of a show on Netflix (although it might).

For some people, it might mean doing something fun, like playing softball or tennis, going skiing or swimming, or hitting a flea market to poke around for unique finds.

Here are some everyday ways to unplug:

  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Get a massage or other spa treatment
  • Read a book (preferably not one about 10x-ing your productivity)
  • Go for a walk or getting outside for some fresh air
  • Play with your kids of pets
  • Do something creative: play music, woodwork, cook, anything crafty, etc.
  • Go to a movie
  • Work in the yard
  • Rent an Airbnb for the weekend and get away for a bit (even somewhere local!)
  • Take a nap

This isn’t rocket science – it’s more about giving yourself permission to just BE. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

If you’ve read this far, leave a comment and let me know if you’re going to do something intentional to disconnect and recharge. I think we all need it these days.

Why it’s hard to “be good” after a stressful day at work

Here’s something I’ve noticed recently – Not only is it hard to keep healthy habits by the end of the week, it’s also much harder after just a day. Just think how hard it is to have any willpower when you’re stressed or have had a long day at work or with the kids?

It doesn’t have to be “bad” stress, either – your willpower can lag after an awesome day spent sightseeing, shopping or doing something else that you love.

The reason this happens is because of something called “decision fatigue.” 

Studies show that the more decisions you make over the course of a day, the harder it is to use your willpower or self control. 

For instance, after a long day you might not feel very energetic… and feel like skipping your workout. Saying “no” to junk food can also become harder. You might procrastinate on chores, and if you go shopping, you could end up spending a lot more than you planned. 

Here’s a weird fact: even your ability to do basic math equations can be affected! 

This doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when decision fatigue kicks in. Instead, now that you know it’s a real “thing,” you can head it off at the pass.

Here are some things you can do to avoid decision fatigue in the first place:

  • Plan and prepare your meals ahead of time. When you have healthy food ready to go, that’s one less decision to make!
  • Before you go to bed at night, prepare yourself for a successful next day. Remember how you planned before your first day of school each year? You had your outfit ready and your timeline set so you be ready on time and get off to a great start. This is huge!
  • When possible, time block your schedule so you have more control over how you spend your time. This way, instead of thinking about what you need to do next, it’s already planned out for you!  Don’t forget to make time for your to-do list, workouts, grocery shopping, and spending time with family and friends! 

And, when decision fatigue DOES strike, it doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Instead, now that you know it’s a real “thing,” you can head it off at the pass.

The best way thing you can do is to show yourself a little TLC!

You can burn off the stress with a workout (you’ll feel better once you get going!) or eat a healthy spicy meal (studies show hot foods boost endorphins, the feel-good hormones).  

If that seems like too much work, how about brewing a cup of herbal tea and finding a quiet spot to chill out with a good book?

Or wine. I’m not picky.

Another great way to battle decision fatigue is by having a support network. Having a strong team around you is a HUGE part of being successful. Your team can keep you on track and focused.

If you need some of that support, join my Private Facebook Group or shoot me an email. I’m always here to help!

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My Aha Moment – I Figured It Out!

Hi, guys, it’s Paige and I wanted to share what I discovered after months, well years really, of struggling with a stubborn belly that I couldn’t get rid of and, frankly, seemed like it was going to ruin my life.

I was so frustrated, I made it my purpose to figure out just what was going on and what I discovered was that getting rid of my belly had nothing to do with long, intense workouts or unreasonable diets.

As a personal trainer, that’s something I’ve always done for myself when I wanted to lose weight, that’s what I always taught my clients who wanted to lose weight.

But at this stage, it wasn’t working for me and it wasn’t working for my readers and clients. What I finally realized is that what used to work when I was in my 20s and 30s just doesn’t for a 40-something, 50-something, or 60-something body.

So once I realized that I started researching and found that so much of that extra padding around the waistline stems from hormonal and physiological changes happening behind the scenes.

And some of the things we do to try to get rid of belly fat are actually the opposite of what we should be doing. They’re only adding more stress and more belly fat.

It was like a LIGHTBULB went off over my head.

If I could change my workouts, my eating and change other aspects of my life, I could finally get rid of my belly.

That lightbulb was such a great moment, I wanted to share that and turn on all the little lightbulbs out there for women going through the same thing.

That mission is why I created my 12-Week Bye-Bye Belly Fat Program. It includes all the research that I’ve done to figure out the right way to treat your body so you can finally get results.

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Weight Loss Case Study Story

Transcript Below:

I have an inspiring story that I want to tell. See, like a lot of my clients in their 40s, 50s, and 60s I found myself in that stage of life I think of as “Sudden Belly Fat.”

So, when Linda came to me with the same problem, I knew exactly how she felt.

None of her clothes fit. She hated looking at herself in the mirror…she really kind of hated herself a little bit and she was doing workouts and following diets, but nothing was working.

I know that a lot of you can relate to that which is why I wanted to create this quick little video to share one of the things I used to help Linda lose belly fat, so make sure to stay to the end so you can get that tip.

Linda’s biggest issue, besides the belly fat, was being able to stick to her workouts. She was working out longer and harder but it wasn’t working. And worse than that, she had an elderly mother she had to take care of so she didn’t have the time or the energy for long intense workouts.

With my workout system, Linda finally found a program that fit into her life, left her with plenty of energy and helped her lose belly fat.

Now, naturally, she was initially skeptical because she had this idea in her head of what you’re supposed to lose fat which is a lot of exercise, a lot of cardio, a lot of everything and she was resistant to change that. I think we’re all resistant to that idea that…”Wait a minute, that’s not the answer?”

So it did take some convincing but she was desperate. You know, at some point you just think “I have to do something about this!”

And her moment was…Pants! She tried on a pair of pants and in our business we have a ‘Pants Don’t Lie’ phrase that we use because, you know, I can lie about how many glasses of wine I had but when I put the pants on, they tell me exactly what’s going on with my body.

So she put on her favorite pair of pants and they didn’t fit so she was like, “Okay, that’s it! I’m done. I have to do something.”

In the process, she lost 10.5 inches, almost 4 from her belly and one of the things that she did, and this is what I’m going to share with you that helped her, was…using a calendar.

My 3-Step Method comes with a calendar and I had her print it out, paste it on the wall and every time she did a workout, she put a big red X on it.

So this sounds simple, maybe silly. But the weight loss process is slow and you can’t always see it in the mirror, but you can see your progress on a piece of paper. You can say “I did that workout!” and every single X she accumulated brought her closer to her goal.

And she reached it – she’s still working for it now.

But, it created momentum for her – she was like “Finally I can stick with something. I feel good about myself.” Every success led to the next success.

So I wanted to share that with you so you know there are ways to lose belly fat. Hopefully, you’ll be my next success story.

 

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My Story – Dealing With Belly Fat After 40

Hi, guys! I wanted to share my story because it’s what brought me where I am today and I think a lot of you can relate.
You can watch the video above or read about it down below.
 
When I was in my 20s and 30s I wasn’t overweight but, of course, I thought I was…until I hit my mid-40s and then I found out exactly what weight gain was.
 
I felt like I woke up one day with this big, flabby belly that came completely out of nowhere.
 
It totally changed my life and not in a good way.
 
It changed the way I felt about myself. I suddenly hated my body and I kind of hated myself because somehow I had done something wrong to make this happen.
 
It changed the clothes I wore – no more cute outfits and bathing suits but now I was wearing blousy shirts to hide my belly — actually, pretty much anything to disguise my weight gain.
 
In fact, I’ll never forget one weekend I cleaned out my closets and the pile of clothes that didn’t fit bigger and bigger. Almost my entire wardrobe.
 
The worst moment was trying jeans that fit just a year and a half before.
 
At the time I was 43. I had put on 25 lbs.
 
The worst part? I’m a personal trainer. I exercise. I eat right most of the time and I just thought This could NOT be happening to me.
 
But it was.
 
And no matter how hard I worked out or how many diets I tried, nothing worked. I was at my lowest point and I thought I would never feel good about myself again.
 
It was my rock bottom and I thought, ‘you know, I can’t live like this. I have to do something about it.’
 
So I made it my mission to figure why belly fat is so stubborn and so hard to lose in women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. 

That’s why I started Get Fit With Paige

That’s why I started my Bye-Bye Belly Fat Facebook Group.
 
And that’s why I created my 12 Week Bye-Bye Belly Fat Program (available soon and for a limited time). It was a huge game-changer for me and I want it to be a game-changer you.

Moving Forward,

Paige

This one principle can change your life…

This post is all about a very simple (but super powerful) philosophy in business that improves efficiency, creates steady long-term growth, and basically helps you to crush your goals.

But the power of this philosophy goes way beyond business. It also can make a HUGE difference in living a better, healthier and more fulfilled life.

It’s fueled by one simple principle:

Do 1 percent better every day.

This falls under the philosophy of kaizen, which is the idea of doing 1% better every single day. It’s all about small, continuous improvements. When you add them all up, they lead to mind-blowing changes. 

What’s even more amazing is that the changes created this way actually “stick.” That’s because they didn’t require any major lifestyle overhauls. Instead, they were built up over a period of time, which means you learn to manage and maintain them along the way  – no torture required.

And that’s exactly what you want, right? Results without torture.

Let’s say you want to make improvements in your diet. Instead of changing everything about how you eat, what if you went for the (food pun alert) low-hanging fruit? By that I mean, gradually changing the things that are easiest for you to change? 

—> You could swap out your afternoon cookie for a piece of fruit. Your chips could become a handful of almonds. Instead of eating a grab-and-dash granola-bar breakfast, you could blend a protein smoothie.

Not all at once. Just one change at a time, over time. Can you see how before long, as you fold these new habits into your life, they will add up to a HUGE transformation in your life?!

There are lots of great books on the subject. One of the latest that breaks it all down with actionable tips is the bestseller ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. 

It can be tempting to go for the quick fix – and it’s true that you may see some results in the short-term.  But you’re not looking to yo-yo your way through life. You’re looking to make real change that LASTS. 

So when it comes to changing your mindset and building new habits that stick, studies show that making smaller changes can be more helpful. 

Give the 1% method a go leave a comment telling us how it went. What one thing could you improve today that would make things just a little healthier?

The Real Number of Days it Takes to Create a Habit

Is there any word other than ‘habit’ that makes you shudder? It’s like ‘healthy lifestyle’ and ‘discipline’ and ‘politics.’

Words that make you instantly realize either all the things you’re doing wrong – or NOT doing at all – or all the things you can’t stand to think about (politics falls into that category).

But habit has a whole heck of a lot to do with losing weight and, ahem, creating a ‘healthy lifestyle.’

Sometimes habit is the only reason I get up and work out. It’s just what happens at around 7:00 in the morning, like brushing my teeth after breakfast.

But how do habits happen? And is it true that it takes 3 weeks to create a habit – which is what I’ve always heard?

Do you ever feel like creating healthier habits (working out, eating better, etc.) is a lot of harder than it should be?

There’s a reason for that and this news is going to make you feel better about yourself, I promise. This info is going to make creating new habits a whole lot easier. 

Your Mindset

‘Mindset’ is another word that kind of makes me wince a little but, in a nutshell, habits come down to one thing.

Your MINDSET

Once you get your mindset right, everything else begins to fall into place. 

Fun fact: Did you know that having a positive mindset can actually help you make healthier choices and actually live longer? 

Okay, that was more just like a semi-interesting fact, not that much fun.

But here’s an even better fact: You don’t have to be born with a positive mindset. It’s something you can create and strengthen over time. 

I think we’ve all struggled with mastering new habits – things like meal prep (and then actually eating the meals we prepped), sticking with a new workout plan, getting up earlier, reading more, etc.

I know that when I’m trying to get back into my habit of using my food journal after every meal, I’ll do great for a few days (or even a few weeks) and then hello – I’m off the wagon and, worse, it’s going to Disneyworld without me.

All of a sudden I forget or totally blow it off. Maybe it’s because I’m busy, tired, or who knows what. Anyway, I start slipping.

And then I start to feel a little guilty…  then I get angry or upset with myself … and then I end up saying “I’ll just start again tomorrow.” I love the ‘tomorrow’ excuse. It’s so handy, isn’t it?

Well, have you ever heard the saying that it only takes three weeks to make a new habit? I am not sure who came up with that number, but guess what? It’s wrong. I think we’ve all figured that one out the hard way.

It actually takes NEARLY THREE TIMES LONGER than that – depending on the person, the habit, and the situation. 

A study from Australia found that on average, it takes about 66 days to develop a new habit.

This news actually makes me feel a lot better, and I hope it does you, too. It takes the pressure off being “perfect” right out of the gate.

Creating a new habit can be hard, and you can end up with unrealistic expectations – like having it mastered in just a few weeks. 

Good news! The study also showed that missing a day or two doesn’t mean you’re back to square one in creating the habit. 

Be prepared to slip up now and then, and when you do, get yourself back on track as soon as possible. Eventually, it WILL become easier, especially when you start to see the results of all your effort.

Lasting changes take time – so whenever possible, make sure you enjoy the ride. It’ll increase the likelihood you’ll own that new habit.

Tips for Habit-Making

I can’t take the actual work you have to do to create a habit away from you, but wouldn’t it be nice if I could?

Instead, it takes some good-old-fashioned practice to make this happen so here are some tips that you probably already know, but may need a little reminder:

  • Do your workouts at the same time each day  – An exercise habit becomes a lot easier when your body just knows it’s workout time.
  • Pick one thing about your diet and just work on that – One thing we do that can sabotage us is trying to change every damn thing at once. Instead, pick a meal and just work on that. Let’s say you pick breakfast…Do some research on healthy breakfasts. Find recipes you know you can make. Pick one and make it every day for a week, then pick another one for the next week, etc.
  • Use your smartphone – Your smartphone is annoying – at least mine is because it’s constantly there taunting me, begging me to pick it up and check my Facebook. But it’s good for creating habits. Set alarms to remind you to stand up and move around or to keep a food journal for your meals. There are also tons of great apps to help you along with that too.

Most of all, when you are watching that healthy habit wagon leave you in the dust after a slip-up, chase after it. You want to get to Disneyworld, right?

5 Moves That Burn Mega-Calories – No Cardio Needed

We often think that the only way to get the heart rate up is with high impact exercises – Jumping jacks, jump roping, squat jumps, running, etc. Those are great exercises, but not everyone’s joints are thrilled with all that pounding, making it tough to find moves that really challenge you.

The good news is, there are plenty of challenging low impact exercises that will really get your heart rate going without actually doing any cardio.

I know that many of my clients really don’t like cardio, but using weights and total body movements allow me to sneak in that cardio factor without them realizing it. I’m tricky that way.

If you feel the same here are 5 moves that will get your heart rate up with zero cardio.

Pivot Squat Curl

Put your left foot on a Gliding Disc, towel (for hardwood floors ) or paper plate (for carpet). Hold a weight in the right hand and squat, curling the weight up. Pivot on the Disc to the back of the room, lowering the weight and going into a squat. Pivot back to start and repeat for 12 reps on each side.

Squat with an Arnold Press

Hold weights at chest level, elbows bent and step out to the right into a side squat. As you step back together, rotate the weights and press them overhead. Do the same to the left and repeat for 12 total reps (one rep is to the right and left).

Squat Curl – Squat Press

With the feet wide and weights in hand, hands facing each other, lower into a squat. Stand and curl the weights up. Squat once again, lowering the weights and as you stand, pivot on the feet, rotating to the right as you press the weights overhead. Repeat, rotating to the other side for 12 total reps.

Clean and Press

Begin with the weight in the right hand. Squat, taking the weight to the floor (if you can). Stand and, as you do so, raise the weight up to chest level (as in an upright row) and in a smooth move, flip elbow down and weight up so that it’s over the shoulder. Press the weight up overhead and lower back down, flip the arms back to upright row position and lower. Repeat for 12 reps on each side.

Triceps Kick

Hold a weight in both hands straight overhead and kick straight up with the right leg. At the same time as you kick, straighten the arms in a triceps extension. Repeat for 12 reps on each side.

Bye Bye Sleeping Through the Night

Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Have no fear, y’all, because I’ve found some great tips and? A new recipe for you to try.

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? Seriously – that sucks.

OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

Knowing this it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

  • To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
  • To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  • To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. Yep. That much.

Skimping on sleep can leave you, well, sleepy to say the least.

(Don’t worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)

Tips for better sleep

  • The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavored snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
  • During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12 pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to become evening. (I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves 1-2

 

1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
2 cups of boiling water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
2 dates (optional)

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavor combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?

 

References:

 

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep

30-Minute Outdoor Interval Workout

If you’re heading outside, don’t just go for your usual boring walk or run. Spice things up with interval training. It’s been proven to burn more calories, increase your afterburn and make you skinny. Okay, maybe not skinny but it’s more fun than just going the same pace.

Use This Perceived Exertion Chart to figure out how hard you’re working.

TimeIntensity/Speed Perceived Exertion
10Start walking at an easy pace, gradually getting your heart rate up. Increase your pace every 2 minutesLevel 2-4
5Speed up to a faster walk or jog so that you’re working at a moderate pace – This is baselineLevel 5
1For the next minute, speed up as fast as you canLevel 7
2Slow down back to baselineLevel 5
1Speed up once again as fast as you canLevel 7
2Back to baselineLevel 5
1Now see if you can go even faster than you did the last timeLevel 8
2Back to baselineLevel 4
1This is your last sprint – run or speedwalk as fast as you can!Level 8
2Back to baselineLevel 5
5Slow down to an easy walkLevel 3

Do You Wish You Had the Perfect Body? It’s a LOT of Damn Work

At the gym one day, I shamelessly eavesdropped on a conversation between two women that went something like this:

(As a tall, thin, glistening woman walked by) “Oh, look at her. She’s so skinny, she probably hasn’t eaten since Clinton was president.”
“You know she’s had work done–nobody could look that perfect without some help.”
“Listen to you talk! I would kill for your thighs.”
“Oh, please–look at these flabby things! And you’re one to talk, Ms. Perfect Abs.”
“Perfect? Maybe perfectly awful.”

Here’s the thing: These women looked great. They were strong, curvy and obviously fit but, like many women, they were so focused on their imperfections, they weren’t seeing what I was seeing. And it’s not just women who are so hard on themselves. Men also talk about their bodies, just not the same way women do. Witness this conversation between my husband and one of his buddies:

“Dude, I’m getting fat.”
“Dude.”
(Shrugging) “Let’s go get a beer.”

Whether you’re a man or a woman, chances are you don’t have the perfect body. Chances are even greater that you’ve done things to try and get the perfect body. Things like leg lifts, crunches, squats, lunges, hours on the treadmill, hundreds of salads, thousands of glasses of water…all of it in the hopes that you will finally get rid of those love handles or those chunky thighs.

What you’ve probably figured out is that all the exercise and dieting in the world may not be enough to achieve that perfection so many of us desire. We’re still a product of our genes. The question then becomes, how much can we really change and what do we do if we can’t get that perfect body?

How Much Can You Change Your Body?

We all approach our bodies differently. Some people scrutinize every detail to see what they have or haven’t achieved. Others studiously avoid looking at themselves unless they absolutely have to. With images of effortless perfection coming at us from TV, magazines and the Internet, it’s no wonder we fret over our own bodies. Why can’t I look like THAT, we wonder?

One reason is that many aspects of your body are determined by factors beyond your control and that starts with your body type.

What’s Your Body Type?

It’s hard to know how large of a role genes play in what we can accomplish with our bodies. They determine things like height, hair color and eye color, but they also determine your basic body type:

  • Endomorph – This body type tends to have a higher body fat, big bones and a slower metabolism. For that reason, it may be difficult to lose weight.
  • Mesomorphs – With this body type, a person is more muscular and may have an easier time losing fat and gaining muscle.
  • Ectomorph –  People with this body type tend to be lean and may even have trouble gaining weight due to a faster metabolism. Yeah…that sucks, right?

Most of us fall somewhere in between these different body types, which means that some of us will lose weight easily and quickly while others won’t. There are also different body shapes:  Apple, pear, hourglass…you know the drill.

While we may think that the right combination of exercise and diet will give us the ideal body, we may be limited by our inherited body type.

So, what does that mean for you?

The truth is, no one can tell what you can or can’t change about your body. You can lose or gain fat by burning more or less calories, and you can change the amount of muscle you have by lifting weights.

You can control the calories you put in your body and the calories you expend with exercise and activity, but, what you can’t do is choose where you lose that fat or gain that muscle.

So, what if you do everything right and you still have stubborn areas of fat you can’t seem to get rid of? One option is, of course, plastic surgery, but, I have a better idea. What if you could change your idea of a perfect body? This process requires dedication and commitment, a commitment to changing how you think about yourself.

Can You Accept Your Body?

The idea of accepting your body just the way it is may seem completely foreign to you.

In fact, it feels like the world around us is set on keeping us unhappy with our bodies. We constantly see ads, commercials and informercials for diets, pills and gadgets to help us reshape every inch of our bodies.

There are magazines with pencil-thin models on the front and headlines promising solutions for everything from flabby abs to dimpled thighs.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think getting the perfect body is something we should all be working on morning, noon and night. Even if we don’t work on it all day, a lot of us are at least thinking about it.

And many of us may balk at the idea of body acceptance. If we accept our bodies, won’t we become complacent? If we embrace our bigger thighs or love handles, won’t we get even fatter?

Many of us are afraid that, unless we put ourselves down and remain constantly aware of our flaws, we won’t be motivated to exercise or eat right.

The good news is, there is some evidence that a healthy body acceptance actually encourages us to exercise and eat right. In

There are a number of ways to work on body acceptance and, yes, I’m going to talk about exercise.

First Exercise For a Healthy Body

While exercise isn’t a magic pill for creating the perfect body, it does have magical qualities on your body image and self-esteem.

A variety of studies have shown that people of all ages and genders experience improved self-esteem, self-worth and perceptions of how attractive they are after starting an exercise program.

While many of us use exercise as a tool to get the perfect body, it can also be a tool for shifting your focus away from perfection and on what you can accomplish each and every day. Exercise improves your:

  • Strength and endurance. When you exercise, you may be so focused on the scale that you’re not aware of other progress you’ve made. But, if you pay attention, you’ll notice those strength gains in other areas of your life – being able to carry more groceries or pick up your kids or grandkids without throwing out your back. You’ll have more energy to get everything done without feeling exhausted.
  • Confidence. Mastering a new activity makes you more confident. You may start that kickboxing class or strength training workout tripping over your own feet or feeling a little ridiculous, but, it only takes a few workouts for your body to get used to those activities and get better at them. That confidence may spur you to even greater goals like signing up for a race or taking an active vacation.
  • Connection. We spend so much time sitting, we forget what it feels like to actually move our bodies. When you start exercising, you learn about your body in a whole different way – how it feels when your heart speeds up and your breathing increases. You can feel your muscles contract and, best of all, you feel your own power. That awareness makes you realize you’re capable of so many things.
  • Function over appearance. When you spend more time moving your body, you become more interested in doing things to make it work more efficiently. Now, instead of only focusing on how to make your thighs thinner, you’re focusing on how to make them stronger so you can make it through that next 3-mile run. Your goals change as you focus on staying healthy and fit.

Rethink Your Goals

If you’re ready to give up on the idea of perfection, it’s time to set new goals for yourself.

Doing this will open the door for new ways of thinking and new ways of exercising. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a goal to lose weight or even to improve on different areas of your body.

It’s when those goals leave you frustrated that it may be time for a change. Try this step-by-step process for creating new goals:

  1. Make a list of your goals. Write down every goal you have and estimate how long you’ve had that goal (e.g., “I’ve wanted smaller thighs for the last 25 years”).
  2. Assess your goals. Put a star next to any goals that, a) you’ve had for years and haven’t achieved, b) may be out of reach and, c) that make you feel bad about yourself. For example, if you’ve been trying to get rid of those love handles for the last 5 years, nothing has worked and you feel awful every time you think about it, that goal deserves a star.
  3. Get rid of your impossible goals. Go through the goals you marked and ask yourself how likely it is that you’ll reach that goal, given all the time and energy you’ve already spent on it  (or maybe HAVEN’T spent). Then ask yourself what would happen if you crossed it off your list. What if you decided to forget about getting rid of those love handles for once and for all? If you’re ready, do it! This may take some practice in your thinking.
  4. Set new goals. Just because you get rid of some goals doesn’t mean you stop working towards something. The difference now is that you can set goals based on new parameters. Instead of getting rid of your love handles, what if you focused on getting in a certain number of workouts each week or building strength so that you can do more around the yard or house? Think about what you want your body to do rather than what you want it to look like and set your goals accordingly.

You may need some help in both letting go of old goals and setting new ones. These resources can help you get started:

Another part of giving up perfection is changing how you think about your body and about exercise. It’s funny how exercise can seem impossible when you’re trying to change your body…and why not? Doing hundreds of crunches to get flat abs would frustrate anyone since spot reduction isn’t in the cards.

But, opening your mind to the possibility that exercise can be used for something other than reshaping your body may just put physical activity within your reach. Consider these different activities and how you might use them to further your new goals:

Cardio Exercise

You know cardio burns calories and that helps with losing weight. But, it can do so much more

  • Strengthens your heart and makes it work more efficiently
  • Increases your lung capacity
  • Improves bone density
  • Lowers bad cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Lowers stress, depression and anxiety

Looking at these benefits may help you come up with those new goals. For example, knowing cardio can lower bad cholesterol, you could set a goal to get off your cholesterol meds using regular workouts. Or, you could work towards reducing your stress by scheduling short workouts throughout the day.

Strength Training

Like cardio, strength training is great for losing fat and gaining muscle, both of which contribute to looking better. But, since you’re getting away from perfection, other reasons to lift weights include:

  • Increased strength and endurance
  • Protection from injuries
  • Better coordination and muscle control
  • Improved balance and stability

Use some of these benefits to set your new goals. For example, if you have problems with back pain caused by sitting too much, set a goal to work on your core strength. This Quick Fix Core Workout can be done in about 5 minutes!

The point is – start using exercise to your advantage rather than thinking of it as an evil thing you HAVE to do. All the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, not something you have to dread. As long as you stick with what feels good to you, you can sort of forget about exercising into that perfect body. Because unless you’re genetically blessed already, it probably ain’t gonna happen.

And that, as they say, is ok.

This Is Where You Start if You Want to Start Exercising

You need to exercise. I need to exercise. Everyone needs to exercise.

We know this. We also know all the many benefits of exercise:

  • Hormone regulation
  • Weight loss
  • Better sleep
  • Better sex
  • Protection from disease
  • The ability to burn fat more efficiently
  • Balancing the earth’s chakras

Okay, that last one could be untrue, but it’s not like scientists have studied it, right?

First, let’s start with what exercise is. I know that you know but it’s good to define the absolute basics, because more than that is just more noise you don’t need in your head.

The Guidelines

You probably know that the Department of Health & Human Services puts out guidelines for exercise every so often. You’ve probably never read them. The only reason I do is because I have to for my job and I’ll do you a favor by summarizing the basics:

Here’s what HHS Says:

  • You should move more. Some activity is better than nothing and you get health benefits even if you just stand up more often. Acutally? Quite reasonable.
  • If you want more benefits and more weight loss, you gotta do more than just move more. Here’s the deal:
    • You should do 2.5 hours to 5 hours a week of moderate exercise (that would be like a Level 5 on this Perceived Exertion Scale) OR 1 hour and 15 minutes to 2.5 hours of higher intensity exercise (like Interval Training). OR a combination of both. That may seem confusing and it kinda is, but basically you want to do some cardio most days of the week starting with what works for you.
  • For more bang for your buck, do 5 or more hours of exercise a week.
  • You should also lift weights 2 or more days a week, focusing on all the muscle groups.

Okay, that pretty much sums it up and you’re probably not the least bit surprised by any of this information.

You know the guidelines. You know all the benefits. So why aren’t you doing it?

Exercise is Hard

We sit a lot. We get older. We have injuries, pain, stress, kids, life. We could list a million reasons why we just don’t have time.

The truth is, we all have time. I have time to play my Candy Crush game at the end of the day. I also have time for other things like watching Netflix. Getting a pedicure. Online shopping for things I don’t need.

It’s the VALUE of exercise that we need to focus on. It needs to matter to you…not as much as Netflix, mind you, but just enough for you to do it.

The Fix

First, do a little brainstorming here. Why is exercise important to you? Is it important at all or do you just wish it were? List all the reasons you don’t exercise and then list all the reasons you should exercise.

Get inside your mind and just tell the truth: “I don’t exercise because I hate sweating.” Or “I don’t exercise because I have no idea what to do so I do nothing.”

Next, start doing it. Just. Start. If you hate sweating, do something that doesn’t require sweating. If you have no idea where to start, start here.

Start SIMPLE. Too often we’re like – OMG I’m fat I have to do everything NOW. No. Your body doesn’t like that and it will rebel. Your mind will also not like this and both need to be on the same page here.

Try this:

  1. A 5-minute walk every day
  2. A short stretching routine in the morning
  3. Anything in which your body moves rhythmically in a way you don’t hate

Whatever it is, be consistent. It doesn’t have to be running a marathon. It’s just establishing 3 important things:

  1. A time that you can exercise
  2. Knowing that this is ‘exercise time’
  3. Showing up even if you just do some stretches or something

Do that every day and a miracle will happen: A habit! Habit is what keeps us going, especially for the things that are challenging.

I’ll get into the mechanics of the actual exercise – cardio, strength, etc. later but, for now, this where you start.

 

The Best Moves For Lean, Strong Abs

Abs.

It’s not a 4-letter word but you might utter a 4-letter word every time you see yours.

Now, you know that ab moves do NOT remove the flab, but they are very important in contributing to your overall fat loss and, of course, core strength.

Below are some of my favorite moves for Lean, Strong Abs.

Instructions

You’ll need an exercise ball and Gliding Discs or towels (for hardwood floors).

Do each move for 12-16 reps, doing one after the other for up to 3 circuits. Skip anything that hurts, y’all! Email with questions if you have them.

Long Limb Crunches

Lie down with arms and legs straight. Contract the abs and lift the right leg up as you bring the left hand towards the toe. Repeat on the other side. Note: You can come up to the elbow as shown (easier) or you and come all the way up (good luck!).

Bridge With Leg Drops

 

Come up into a bridge position and take one leg straight up. Brace your abs and slowly take the leg out to the side towards the floor as far as you can. Bring it back up and repeat before switching sides.

Slider Crunches

With Gliding Discs or towels under your feet (they work on hardwood floors), lie down with your heels on the Discs. Contract the abs to lift the shoulders up as you slide the heels in. You can come all the way up (as shown – harder) or just lif the shoulders off the ground.

Ball Rollouts

Place your hands on the ball in front of you, arms parallel. Pulling your belly button in and tightening your torso, slowly roll forward, rolling the ball out as far as you can without arching or straining the back. Push the elbows into the ball to go back and repeat.

Dolphin Pushups

On the elbows and toes in the plank position, lift the hips up in an upside-down V. Lower back down to your plank (you can keep the hips a little higher if going all the way flat is too much) and repeat.

10 Exercise Rules to Live By – Here’s How to Get Yourself Moving

Exercise isn’t easy, even under the best circumstances. It’s something a lot of us know we need to do, but knowing that doesn’t make it so.

But what if you could do a few things to make it easier? There are a few common rules that, when followed, can give you the support you need to make exercise a regular part of your life.

These rules may even make exercise so much easier, you actually start to enjoy it.  The key is to think about your approach to exercise and what you do that helps or, sometimes, hurts your chances of success. Here are a few things to think about if you’re struggling with exercise.

1.  Give Yourself Time

Establishing an exercise program isn’t just about having goals or making a plan, it’s about time management.  In fact, it’s an investment. You need time to invest in the process before you reap the benefits.  I know – we all want something that’s more instant gratification-ish, and exercise DOES have that element – when you’re doing it, it feels goods (or it something close to that). But you have to invest in that regularly in order to really get everything exercise has to offer. That time allows you to:

  • Figure out what you like – What you start off doing may not work right away, so allow time and freedom to practice different activities. People think that they HAVE to start running or do a certain type of workout. But it’s okay to start with what feels a little more natural or simple. Walking, yoga, stretching…stick with things that feel good to you and you’ll naturally want to do more over time.
  • Fit exercise into your current schedule – You don’t have to workout for an hour every time. Instead of trying to change your schedule to work around a workout, fit the workout into what you’re already doing. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, that counts! It takes trial and error to figure out how to fit in exercise and you may not get it right the first time. Or you may need to exercise at a time you normally don’t. That takes time and you have to take it slow. Allow yourself the room to figure that out.
  • Learn the exercises – We aren’t born knowing how to exercise.  You need to learn the moves, the muscles they work and practice good form. If you follow me in any capacity, you know you’ll always get full instructions for each exercise.
  • Build strength and endurance – Your body needs time to get used to exercise before you can work at a level that stimulates weight loss. It’s kind of like learning a foreign language. You can speak it until you learn the ABC’s. Allow your body time to adjust to what you’re doing.

2.  Plan Ahead

If you already struggle to exercise, anything can derail your plans – a chaotic sock drawer, a missing eyelash, a bad hair day.  It’s worse if you spend half your morning searching for lost keys, shoes or your smartphone.  Make it easier:

  • Plan your workouts – Map out a plan for which days you’re exercising and what you’re doing. Knowing what you’ll do and what you need to do it makes it easier to prepare ahead of time.
  • Pack up – The night before, get everything you need for a workout –  Clothes, shoes, water bottle, headphones, etc.
  • Bring snacks and meals – Being too hungry to exercise is the kiss of death.  Keep quick snacks like yogurt, cheese, fruit, trail mix or energy bars nearby so you’re always prepared

3.  Fully Commit to Your Workouts

When you plan a workout, you may feel committed at the time, but there’s often an “unless” behind it.  As in, “I’ll do my workout…unless I’m too tired/don’t feel like it/something better comes up.”  Avoid too much mental wiggle room by trying these tips:

  • Schedule it – Make it official by scheduling it and giving it a name (“6 am PFM (Personal Fitness Meeting)”)
  • Make it nonnegotiable – Show up for your workout, no matter what.  Even if you only warm up, you’re still showing your commitment. Make it a rule that ANYTHING counts even if you just do 5 minutes.
  • Have Something to Look Forward To – Committing to exercise is easier if you know something good comes after it – A soak in the hot tub, a massage after a week or month of workouts or a getaway once you’ve been consistent for 6 months. I like having some wine. That isn’t the best advice for people trying to lose weight but it works for me.🍷🍷

3.  Exercise in the Morning

While any time is a good time to exercise, morning exercisers are often the most consistent. Just a few reasons to workout in the morning:

  • It’s easier to stick to your routine when you get it out of the way
  • You have more energy for the rest of the day
  • You’ll boost your metabolism
  • You set yourself up for a healthier day overall
  • It may help you sleep better

Tips for becoming a morning exerciser:

  • A Gentle Wake Up – Give yourself extra time to wake up, have coffee or do some gentle stretches before doing anything more intense
  • Bribe Yourself – A promise of a treat (a good book, a movie, a glass of wine) can help get you out of bed
  • Get Ready Right Away – Put on your workout clothes as soon as you get up and start moving before your mind has a chance to argue
  • Start Slow – If you’re not a morning person, morning exercise may feel like torture. Start small by getting up just a little earlier each morning and doing a simple workout – Like this Wrong Side of the Bed Workout. Practice that and slowly add more intensity as you get used to it.

5.  Think Before You Skip

When it comes time to your workout, there’s a moment of choice: Will you or won’t you? If you’ve followed the previous rule, there’s no question that you’ll at least try. If you’re having trouble deciding, ask yourself:

  • Will skipping this workout help or hurt? – You may need to workout to stay on track or you may genuinely need a day to rest, recover and come back stronger
  • How will I feel?  – You may not want to workout right at that moment, but how will you feel later?  Guilty?  Regretful?  Think of that before you decide
  • Why am I avoiding exercise?  – Are you tired?  Or maybe your workouts are boring.  There are so many reasons we avoid exercise – what’s standing in your way?

 

6.  Recognize Your Excuses

We may talk ourselves out of exercise with excuses that disguise themselves as reasons, but being honest with yourself is crucial if you’re going to start exercising. You may be telling yourself things that aren’t true which can set you up for failure. Some examples:

  • “I’m too tired” – If you did manual labor all day, you may be physically tired. If you sat all day, mental fatigue is the culprit and exercise will give you more energy. Just start something – anything. Take a walk or try this easy stretch workout. Just starting can raise your energy levels.
  • “I’m too busy” – Most of us can find a few minutes each day to exercise. Three 10-minute workouts are just as effective as a continuous workout
  • “I don’t know what to do” – Confusion is common, but at its heart, exercise is about movement. Everything counts! Take a walk

7.  Listen to Your Body

One of the best benefits of regular exercise is getting to know your body better. You learn your limits and what your body is capable of but, too often, we ignore signals that something’s wrong:

  • Pain – We often ignore signs of a coming injury, especially if the pain is intermittent. When you feel something unusual, stop and try other activities to work your body in a different way. Never work through the pain
  • Fatigue – A workout should give you energy. If you feel worse as the workout goes on, that’s a sign you may need to rest
  • Stress – While there are signs you should back off, there may also be signs that you really need a workout. Exercise can help relieve tension and stress and even just a 5 minute walk, especially outside, can change your mood in a snap.

8.  Find Balance in Your workouts

Many of us have at least one area of fitness we struggle with or completely avoid. Some do all cardio and no strength, some do the opposite. Some workout hard every day, allowing for very few ‘easier’ workouts and others never get out of their comfort zones. Finding balance means:

  • Working All Aspects of Fitness – A balanced program includes cardio for the heart, strength training for the muscles, bones and joints and stretching/balance training to work on range of motion and stability
  • Pushing Yourself…Sometimes – To make progress, you have to challenge yourself, but too many hard workouts can backfire. Try a mix of intensities and training methods to avoid going too far in one direction and to work all of your body’s energy systems

9.  Embrace Variety

We tend to be creatures of habit and once we find a program we like, or at least one we can tolerate, we tend to stick to it like velcro.  What long-term exercisers know is that doing the same thing for too long can cause burnout, boredom and injury. To avoid that:

  • Change Your Workouts – Every so often, change some aspect of your workout.  Try a new cardio exercise or different strength moves.  Take a new class or simply do things in a different order. Or replace a regular workout with something fun – a stroll in the park, some stretching, a glass of wine…did I say that?
  • Evolve With Your Lifestyle – Allow your workouts to evolve.  Our lives change, our needs change and our interests change over time. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out new ways to exercise

10.  Allow For Failure

You won’t always be perfect at exercise.  There will be times you skip a workout, maybe times you stop for weeks on end.  There will be times when motivation is nowhere to be found, no matter how hard you try and you may wonder – “What’s wrong with me?”

We all fail, but that doesn’t mean we’re failures or that we can’t come back from it:

  • Get back on track as soon as you can.  Ease into it and give yourself time to build back your strength and endurance, both mentally and physically
  • Forgive yourself – Rather than waste time on guilt, treat yourself the way you would a friend in the same situation
  • Learn from it – Your failure is only a bad thing if you keep repeating it.  Figure out what went wrong and plan ways to avoid it in the future

Try the Pushup Fitness Test

Riddle me this: What’s one of your least favorite exercises? If you said PUSHUPS, I don’t blame you. Pushups are hard, especially for women because we usually don’t have as much upper body strength as men do. And they’re just hard, right?

BUT, pushups are so, so, so good for you. They work everything in your upper body as well as your core, giving you a huge payback for not too much work. I mean, there’s some work there for sure.

In fact, if you’re not doing any exercise, I would say – just do some pushups every day because that, my friends, counts as a workout.

Now, we often take body measurements and other assessments to keep track of progress, but fitness tests are also a good way to actually FEEL your progress. Fitness tests are a great way to measure where you are and the pushup test is a favorite of personal trainers because it’s a simple way to measure your endurance and upper body strength.

How to Do the Pushup Test

Take the test to establish a baseline for muscular endurance and upper body strength. Once you’ve gotten your score, take the test again every 4-6 weeks
to track your progress.

By adding pushups to your regular workout routine and working on your upper body strength, you can increase the number of
pushups you can do over time.  If you’re not able to do the pushups described below, I’ve got some modifications for you to try  and you can work your way up to more challenging versions.

Wall Pushups

Stair Rail Pushups

Hands and Knees

  1. Begin with 5-10 minutes of cardio to warm up the muscles
  2. For men: Get into a pushup position on the
    hands and toes. The hands should be about shoulder-width apart, back straight and the head up.
  3. For women: Get into a pushup position on the hands and knees. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart and your back should be straight with your head lifted.
  4. Lower into a pushup, bending the elbows and lowering down until the chin touches the mat. Your back should be straight and stiff throughout the movement and your belly should not touch the mat. If this is too hard, just go as low as you can! It’s all good.
  5. Push up to a straight arm position.
  6. Continue doing as many pushups as you can with good form at a consistent pace.
  7. Stop the test when you’re straining or if your form is slipping.
  8. Use the table below to find your score, which is based on the number of pushups you can do consecutively without rest.

Table: Pushup Fitness Test Results

WomenAge 20-29Age 30-39Age 40-49Age 50-59Age 60-69

Excellent3027242117
Very Good21-2920-2615-2311-2012-16
Good15-2013-1911-147-105-11
Fair10-148-125-102-62-4
Needs Improvement97411
Men

Excellent3630252118
Very Good29-3522-2917-2413-2011-17
Good22-2817-2113-1610-128-10
Fair17-2112-1610-127-95-7
Needs Improvement1611964

Source:

American College of Sports Medicine. (2006). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

How Protein Can Help You Lose Belly Fat

You probably already know about the importance of protein in your diet, right? And it’s really important for losing weight, especially belly fat.

More on that in a minute, but let’s do a painless summary of what protein is. There will be no math.

A Little Bit of Science, I Promise

Proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body.

They are made up of amino acids, and help build muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails and internal organs. In fact, our bodies are made up of mostly water and, next to that, protein. Most of that protein is found in the muscles (which is why you need to lift weights. Lecture over).

Now there’s a lot more here to unpack, but I won’t bore you with that. Basically, there are different kinds of amino acids – Some that are supplied by your body and some that are supplied by food. The bottom line is that your body needs these essential amino acids both for your health and? To lose weight.

Getting the Right Kind of Protein

Foods that contain all of the essential amino acids are called complete proteins. These foods include

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products like cheese and milk
  • Pork
  • Wild game (not for me, thanks…bison’s ok tho)
  • Lentils
  • Tempeh
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Peas
  • Chia seeds
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Quinoa
  • Tahini

Now, not all proteins are complete proteins. This isn’t something you need to worry about if you eat anything on that list above. But if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you may have to combine proteins to make a complete one. Here’s a little cheat sheet if that’s your bag: To get all of the essential amino acids, simply choose foods from two or more of the columns.

GrainsLegumesSeeds & NutsVegetables
BarleyBeansSesame SeedsLeafy Greens
Corn MealLentilsSunflower SeedsBroccoli
OatsPeasWalnuts
RicePeanutsCashews
PastaSoy Products Other Nuts
Whole Grain Breads

How Protein Helps You Lose Belly Fat

Now to the good stuff. Protein is one of the single most important things you can eat to help get rid of belly fat because:

  1. It keeps you satisfied. When you eat more protein, you eat less food. Voila!
  2. It can help reduce cravings, which is huge for those of us who, well, have them.
  3. It takes longer to digest, which means you burn more calories when you eat protein and it can boost your metabolism by up to 80-100 calories a day. What? Yep.
  4. Studies have shown that people who eat quality protein have less belly fat.

The bottom line? You can eat and lose belly fat. Win-win.

Figuring Out Your Protein Needs

So, how much protein do you need? The RDA is about 56 grams per day for the average male, 46 for the average woman. You need more if you exercise.

Now, I don’t know about you but I spend most of my day counting how many grams of protein I’m eating.

Not.

If you’re looking at percentages, experts suggest you aim for 25-30 percent of your diet as protein.

The questons are: How do you know how much protein you need and if you’re eating the right amount?

First, you can use this protein calculator which will give you an estimate. I’ve also provided a formula below (I said there would be no math, but that’s up to you).

As for how to plan out your protein needs, if you follow the 30 percent idea for protein, that usually comes out to mean 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat.

To make it easy for you to visualize there, how about a sample plan for 40-30-30? Which is also the ratio for the Zone Diet, if you didn’t know.

Click Here for Your 40-30-30 Sample Daily Weight Loss Plan

Take a look and you’ll at least get an idea of what a typical day’s worth of meals might look like.

The take-home here is simple: Get some protein at every meal and you’ll notice a change in your how you eat, how you feel and, hopefully, in your body.

Now for the math nerds:

How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:

1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2.Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.

Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.

Example: 154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights
154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day

Calculating Protein as a Percentage of Total Calories

Another way to calculate how much protein you need is by using daily calorie intake and the percentage of calories that will come from protein. To do this, you’ll need to know how many calories your body needs each day.

First, find out what your Basal Metabolic Rate is by using a BMR calculator.

Next, figure out how many calories you burn through daily activity and add that number to your BMR. This gives you an estimate of how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.

After you’ve figured out your maintenance calories, next figure out what percentage of your diet will come from protein. The percentage you choose will be based on your goals, fitness level, age, body type and metabolic rate. Most experts recommend that your protein intake be somewhere between 15 and 30%. When you’ve determined your desired percentage of protein, multiply that percentage by the total number of calories for the day.

Example:
For a 140lb female, calorie intake=1800 calories, protein=20%:
1800 x .20 = 360 calories from protein. Since 1 gram of protein = 4 calories, divide protein calories by four:
360/4 = 90 grams of protein per day.

No matter what your calculations are, remember that there are no magic foods or supplements that can replace the right training and the right diet. I know. Not fair. But getting more protein in your diet is pretty easy, right? You’ve get a head start with your meal plan.

Sources:

Healthline: 6 Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat With Science

Leidy HJ, Tang M, Armstrong CLH, Martin CB, Campbell WW. The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity. 2011;19(4):818-824. doi:10.1038/oby.2010.203

Weigle DS, Breen PA, Matthys CC, et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(1):41-48. doi:10.1093/ajcn/82.1.41

 

 

Killer Kettlebell Exercises!

Kettlebell training has tons of advantages – You increase your aerobic capacity, strengthen your entire body and reduce lower back pain. Here are 5 killer kettlebell moves to get your heart rate up and metabolism going.

1. One Arm Swing

Hold a KB (8-20 lbs) in the right hand, feet hip-distance apart. Begin a warm up swing to get used to the movement, tipping from the hips to take the KB between the legs and powering the hips up as you lightly swing the weight to about hip level. Take the left arm out to the side for balance. Once you get comfortable with the movement, swing the weight to shoulder level, always using the hip-thrust movement to get the weight up.

Stand with a kettlebell on the floor and squat, hands to the floor. Step or jump the legs into  a plank position. Step or jump the feet back to start, pick up the kettlebell and do a double arm swing.

3. High Pulls

Hold a medium kettlebell in both hands, feet hip-width apart. Tip from the hips, keeping the arms straight, the torso upright and the abs braced. Power the hips up as stand while drawing the kettlebell up and bringing the elbows up and above the shoulders.

4. KB Renegade Row

Get into a plank position, on the hands and toes (or knees), keeping the core braced and the body in a straight line. Hold a kettlebell or weight in one hand and pull the elbow up to torso level in a rowing motion. Lower the weight, lightly touching the floor.

5. KB Windmill

Hold a medium kettlebell or dumbbell in the right hand, turning the right toes out and the left toes forward, almost like you’re standing on a surfboard.  Take the left arm straight up and lean to the right, kicking the left hip out and bending the right knee as you lower the weight towards the floor.  Keep your eyes on the extended left arm.

How to Read the New Nutrition Facts Tables Without Your Head Exploding

We all know that little box on the side of packaged foods, right?

The Nutrition Facts table or, as I like to call it, Swahili.

The purpose of it is to help you make better nutrition decisions. When you can see the number of calories, carbs, sodium, etc. in food, you should be able to eat better, right?

Except, it’s confusing. Yeah, there are the calories, the carbs, the sodium – But what numbers should I be looking at and how do I know which ones are too high or too low?

Whether you like the Nutrition Facts table or not (and I say – it could be written in plain English), let’s make sure you get the most out of it, since it’s here to stay.

Here’s my four-step crash course on reading the Nutrition Facts table.

 Step 1: Serving Size

The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to figure out the serving size. Manufacturers often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good. Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs. Tricky little boogers, aren’t they?

All the information in the table rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s often difficult to compare two products.

Cut to the next few years when food labels will change. The FDA finally realized that we don’t eat, like 2 Oreos or 9 potato chips and decided that food labels must match with the quantities that Americans actually consume.

They can’t hide the real amount of sugar you’re getting in a Dr. Pepper or the sodium in those Doritos.

This will make it easier to compare foods…no more artificially small servings.

Let’s use an example – plain, unsalted walnuts from Costco. (it’s probably a 90-lb bag, right?)

As you can see, right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 30 g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.

FUN EXPERIMENT: Try using a measuring cup to see exactly how much of a certain food equals one serving. You may be surprised at how small it is (imagine a ¼ cup of walnuts). I did this with my wine – 5 oz is a serving.

I’m fairly sure I was drinking at least twice that, if not more. I like my serving better.

Step 2: % Daily Value

The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally, you will get 100% DV for each nutrient every day (yeah…um..I live in the opposite of the ideal world).

This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day.

NOTE: Since children are smaller and have different nutritional needs if a type of food is intended solely for children under the age of 4, then those foods use a child’s average nutrition needs for the %DV.

The %DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule. You don’t need to add all of your %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.

NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it’s missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn’t an agreed “official” %DV for that nutrient. The good news is that the new Nutrition Facts tables will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.

Step 3: Middle of the table (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)

Calories are pretty straight forward. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts has 200 calories.

Fat is bolded for a reason. That 19 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat. That includes the non-bolded items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g – 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).

Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day. It’s easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).

Carbohydrate, like fat, is bolded because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bolded items underneath it like fiber, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 3 g of carbohydrates; that 3 g are all fiber. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 3 g of fiber is 12% of your daily value for fiber.

🥜Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts contains 5 g of protein.

Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)

The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. The new labels will list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional.

Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition Facts table (this is optional). And you’ll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.

The Bottom Line

I know it’s hard to follow sometimes, but hopefully this crash course in the Nutrition Facts table was helpful. While you can take it or leave it when it comes to making food decisions, it’s here to stay. And it will change slightly over the next few years.

Do you have questions about it? Have you seen the new labels with a %DV for sugar? If so, leave me a comment below.

 Recipe (walnuts): Delicious & Super-Easy Walnut Snack

Serves 1

8 walnut halves
4 dates, pitted

Instructions

Make a “date sandwich” by squeezing each date between two walnut halves.

Serve & enjoy!

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Tip: Try with pecans instead.

Sources:

Nutrition C for FS and A. Labeling & Nutrition – Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm.

How to Improve Gut Health

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we’re not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We’re talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We’re just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of “the gut-brain axis”). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.

So, let’s talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I’ll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.

How Your Gut Affects Your Overall Health

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.

This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.

For one thing, our guts can “leak.” Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.” When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.

FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.

A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.

So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health.

Improve Your Gut Health

There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.

You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.

By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed the friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.

And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.

The Bottom Line

The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes. The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.

Fun Fact – There are new guidelines for nutrition labels – Now, they have to tell how much added sugar is in the product. That makes it so much easier to control your sugar, right?

Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots

Serves 12

4 1/4 cups warm water
4 tsp salt
4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)

Instructions

Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.

Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of head space at the top.

Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don’t float (you can use a “fermenting weight”).

Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Use this as a side dish, or even a snack.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health
http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

 

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Facebook teaser #1:

 

Does all disease really begin in the gut? Are there links between gut health and allergies, pain, or moods? Has the importance of gut health been under- or over-rated?

 

I spill the beans on gut health in my newest post here.

 

Facebook teaser #2:

 

There are two main parts to gut health. One involves the parts of the gut (of course!). The other involves the friendly gut microbes that also link to gut health. And both of these link to overall health.

 

Grab my gut-friendly tips right here.

 

Facebook teaser #3:

 

Want to make your own probiotics without a probiotic pill, kombucha scoby, or kefir grains? I mean a super-easy, gut-friendly probiotic recipe? Click here for my newest gut health recipe.

 

 

 

 

Common Weight Loss Myths Busted

Weight loss advice is so common (and contentious) now. There are competing opinions everywhere. We’ve got calories in/calories out, no pain no gain, workout harder, workout more, slower, faster…it’s like the voices in your head keep multiplying, right?

But let’s forget about who’s right and who’s wrong…let’s focus on what’s right. Because what gets results is what I’m focusing on in this post.

I respect you too much to make empty promises and try to sell you on something that doesn’t work.

There are too many weight loss myths out there. I’m going to tackle the top ones I come across in my practice.

Myth: Calories cause weight gain, and eating less is how you lose weight

Calories are important for weight loss. If you eat and absorb a ton more than you use, then your body’s wisdom will store some for later. Calories matter…of course they do.

But, they are not the “be-all and end-all” of weight loss; they’re important, but they’re the symptom, not the cause. Let’s think about the reasons people eat more calories. Let’s focus on the causes.

People eat too many calories, not because they’re hungry, but because they feel:

  • Sad
  • Lonely
  • Bored
  • Tired
  • Stressed
  • Happy/celebrating

All these feelings interact with our gastrointestinal, nervous and hormonal systems; all of which influence our calorie intake.

Stopping emotional eating isn’t something that happens overnight, but there are some simple things you can do to get started:

  1. Keep a food journal – You can keep track of how your moods affect when/what/how you eat
  2. Find better ways to deal with your stress
  3. Get rid of the foods that tempt you – if it isn’t there, you can’t eat it
  4. Get busy doing something if you’re bored – Take a walk, take a bath, clean out a drawer…give yourself something to do
  5. Connect with someone – on the phone, social media, etc.

There are more, but that gets you started.

Myth: “Eat less move more” is good advice

Well, then we’re all in tip-top shape, right? Because people have been doling out this advice (myth) for years.

The premise of this is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equals your weight. So, eat fewer calories, and burn off more calories (because human physiology is a simple math equation, right?).

Even if people can happily and sustainably follow this advice (which they can’t!); it completely negates other factors that contribute to weight problems. Things like the causes of overeating we mentioned above. Not to mention our genetics, health conditions we’re dealing with or our exposure to compounds that are “obesogenic.”

Now that’s just a fancy word for environments that influence obesity.

So that means what? Reshaping your environment. This is about as difficult as it sounds, since we can’t control our surroundings. We can’t control when people bring donuts to work or when someone brings home a big bag of Doritos.

The only thing we can control? Is ourselves. But if it were that simple, none of us would be overweight, right?

Controlling Your Environment

All you can do is the best you can. Keep junk food out of your house. Ask co-workers to put the donuts somewhere you can’t see them. Ask the restaurant to hold the bread and bring a to-go box to put half your food in there.

Just pick one area where outside influences make it hard to be healthy and ask yourself – Is there anything I can do about this?

Myth: A calorie is a calorie

Can we please put this one to bed already?

Science has confirmed several caloric components of food differ from others. For example, the “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is that some nutrients require calories to be metabolized. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them.

For example, when you metabolize protein you burn more calories than when you metabolize carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but, the TEF of protein = 15–30%; and the TEF for carbohydrates = 5–10%.

Here’s another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolized differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they’re metabolized by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore aren’t utilized or stored the same way as other fats.

So it’s not necessarily your fault if you’re trying to reduce calories and aren’t seeing results. Your body responds to all of them a little differently.

#acalorieisnotacalorie

Myth: Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight

There is no magic pill for weight loss. No supplement, tea, food, or other potion will do the trick.

There are products that make these claims, and they’re full of garbage (or shall I say “marketing gold?”). The only thing you will lose is your money (and possibly your hope). So, please don’t believe this myth. There is a reason most people who lose weight can’t keep it off. The real magic is in adopting a sustainable holistic and healthy approach to living your life. What you need is a long-term lifestyle makeover, not a product.

Save your money and your energy.

The bottom line is weight loss is hard! There are too many people out there trying to make it sound like they have the simple solution (or the latest and greatest!). But all they really want is your money and once you realize that weight loss really is hard, you can take the pressure off yourself.

Take a deep breath. Take things one thing at a time. It’s NOT YOUR FAULT.

Don’t fall for the myths that say:

  • Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss.
  • “Eat less move more” is good
  • A calorie is a calorie.
  • Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight.

Now check out my magical “weight loss salad” recipe below (just kidding!)

Bonus Recipe (Myth-free salad, filling and nutritious): Kale Cucumber Salad

Serves 2

Salad

4 cups kale, divided
1 cup cooked beans of your choice (white beans, chickpeas, etc.)
1 cup cooked quinoa, divided
1 cucumber, sliced and divided

Cucumber Dill Dressing

½ cup tahini
½ lemon, juiced
2 tbsp dill
½ cup cucumber, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
½ tsp maple syrup
2 dashes salt
2 dashes black pepper
¼ tsp garlic, minced

Instructions

Divide salad ingredients into two bowls.

Add all dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until creamy. You may need to add water to thin. Add it slowly, a tbsp at a time until desired thickness is reached.

Add dressing to salads and gently toss.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Extra dressing can be stored in the fridge for a few days

References and Sources:

Lake A, Townshend T. Obesogenic environments: exploring the built and food environments. Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. 2006;126(6):262-267. doi:10.1177/1466424006070487

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-12-biggest-myths-about-weight-loss/

https://authoritynutrition.com/metabolism-boosting-foods/

https://authoritynutrition.com/5-chemicals-that-are-making-you-fat/

Last Minute Fitness Gifts

If you’re running out of ideas for gifts, don’t worry. I’ve some good ones for last minute fitness gifts for the exerciser in your life. Or? For yourself! I won’t tell.

 

Adjustable Kettlebell/Softbell

This is genius!  A way to have a ‘kettlebell’ using the softbells and adding on until you get the weight you want.

Resistance Band Kit

These kits are so perfect for travelers or for this time of year when you’re squeezing in exercise whenever you can.

Fitness Towels

These microfiber towels are absolutely perfect for anyone who showers. I’m sure you know at least one.

Wireless Earbuds

Class Pass

Now they can access classes all over the place instead of going to the same boring gym all the time.

iPhone Arm Band

I can’t stress enough how much I use my armband. Great gift for the walker/runner or even for someone who just listens to music or audiobooks.

 

Flip Belts

Next best thing to the arm band? The FlipBelt. It does NOT look like a fanny pack…I promise.

4 Mental Hacks that Help You Make Exercise a Habit

Exercise is NOT like a box of chocolates.

It’s more like a bottle of Windex and some paper towels…you know it’ll feel good when the window is clean but doing it? Is a chore.

That’s why it’s hard to make exercise a habit. It feels like work, doesn’t it? Like something you’re supposed to do. And it involves a lot of things like scheduling it and getting dressed for it and doing it and sweating and those things don’t always sound fun.

There are lots of reasons we don’t exercise, but the real barrier isn’t lack of time or motivation or whatever else you say to yourself. It’s your mind.

Your mind is always looking for the shortcut and who can blame it? We all want to get there faster, see results right now, get to the finish line. But weight loss just doesn’t work that way. There is no shortcut.

There is no way to drop all the weight TODAY. If there were don’t you think I’d be rich and famous?

And skinny?

With that in mind, how do you make your mind, well, mind you? How do you change that instant-gratification mindset and look at exercise in a different way?

1. Ditch the All or Nothing Thinking

One reason we don’t exercise, or tell ourselves we can’t exercise, is the idea that we have to do a certain amount of exercise at a certain intensity for it to count.

Like, my mind always tells me I have to do an hour of exercise. But, sometimes I can’t do an hour or I don’t want to do an hour and my mind is like, “Well, let’s just skip it cuz what’s the point?”

That kind of thinking is one of the number one reasons we don’t workout.

You need to change that kind of thinking to this:

Everything Counts.

Like this:

  • Taking a walk
  • Going up and down the stairs a few extra times
  • Doing a few squats while waiting for your coffee to brew or your water to boil
  • Standing up and doing some stretching every now and then
  • Doing wall pushups
  • Doing some exercises while you watch TV – Crunches, squats, lunches, stretches

How about trying these Quick Fix Workouts?

2. Lower Your Expectations

Look – Here’s the thing. Exercise is NOT great at helping us lose weight. It’s just not. There are a lot of reasons, but here are just a few of them:

  • Exercising can increase your appetite and you may end up eating more without realizing it
  • We sometimes compensate for exercise – Meaning, resting more during the day which offsets the calories we burn
  • Exercise only accounts for about 10 to 30 percent of your total daily energy expenditure. Bummer
  • We don’t burn as many calories exercising as we think we do

I’m not saying “forget exercising – it’s a total waste of time.” What I AM saying is that you need different reasons to exercise than just weight loss because that has zero staying power.

As soon as you sweat through a week of workouts and see zero changes on the scale? You’ll be like – Why am I doing this to myself?

The key here is to dig deeper into why exercise is worth doing besides weight loss. I don’t have to go into all the health benefits – you know it helps with everything from depression and anxiety to preventing certain types of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

All of that is great but it’s a little abstract, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not like you do a workout and get some sort of award that says, “You just prevented a heart attack 7 years from now!”

No, you need some kind of intrinsic motivation…here’s what I mean:

I exercise because I want to avoid gaining weight, but it also gives me energy and makes me feel better about myself. I’m willing to exercise, even though it’s not always fun, for those reasons.

Think about this: How can exercise be valuable in your life? Maybe it’s me-time, or feeling stronger or avoiding some condition that runs in your family. Maybe just avoiding someone in your family! Really think about this – make a list of everything that comes to mind.

What resonates with you?

3. Make Exercise Fit Into Your Current Life

One mistake I see people make is trying to change your schedule to fit around exercise. But when you think about that, you kind of go a little cuckoo.

Say you’re trying to do an hour of exercise in your already busy non-exercisey life. Now you have to take multiple steps to make that happen. You have to carve, not just an hour, but:

  • Prep time before your workout
  • Time to plan your workout
  • The actual workout
  • The post-workout shower and clean up

That’s a lot to add to your schedule if you’re not already doing, right?

So instead of trying to bend your life around that hour, bend exercise around your life. Can you take a brisk walk after lunch? Could you do three 10-minute workouts throughout the day? Maybe you could walk on your treadmill while watching a movie on your iPad.

Maybe a few minutes of yoga in the morning?

Be creative and be generous with yourself. What would really work?

4. Be Where You Are Not Where You Want to Be

This kind of fits in with the one above, but it bears repeating – We all approach exercise as though we should be working out at Level 10 when, really, we’re probably at a Level 2 or 3 because of long breaks, injuries and whatnot.

We also tend to think that we should workout like we did in our 20s. Yeah, I worked out like a madwoman and I didn’t even have to.

Now, if I could workout the way I did back then, I would look much different.

But I can’t and neither can you.

Ask yourself these questions:

Where is my body right now?

What does my body really need besides weight loss?

Is there something I need to take care of – an injury or chronic pain before I start exercising?

What would actually feel good to my body right now?

For example, coming off an injury, I realized that easy cardio and light stretching was what I really needed. My mind yelled at me to start jumping around but my body was like – “Look, I’m almost 50. You’re going to have to STFU.”

Listen to what your body needs and do that.

The bottom line is, making exercise something you actually want to do requires rewiring your brain a little and learning what ‘rules’ you have about exercise (I hate it, it takes too long, I can’t do the amount I’m supposed to) that you may not even be aware of.

Take some time to think about the simplest ways you can move more and do that.

Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You Weigh

How often do you step on the scale? A lot of us do it every single day and you probably do what I do: You step on it, you squint at the number, you feel like s**t and you shove it back under the bed hoping it will be more cooperative tomorrow.

Do you wish you could totally ditch your scale?

You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight”. I mean, it doesn’t define you (obviously). Yet, it does sometimes, doesn’t it? It can determine how the start of each day feels.

But, here’s something to think about: Your weight only matters to a certain extent.

Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).

Your Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”)

You’ve probably heard of body shapes, right? Like we’re all shaped like some kind of fruit like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.

THAT is what we’re talking about here.

Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases)?

Yep – that apple!

And it’s not because of the fat you can see under the skin (aka subcutaneous fat) that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is. It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.

That’s why your scale weight isn’t always the most important thing to look at. Where your fat is actually stored is more important than how much you weigh.

Am I an Apple or a Pear?

It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. You can do it right now.

Here’s how

  1. Starting at the top of your hip bone, bring the tape around your body level with your belly button.
  2. Keep the tape straight – Look in the mirror to make sure it is and don’t pull it too tight.
  3. Inhale and then exhale. At the end of the exhale, make a note of the number on the tape.
  4. Pour yourself a glass of wine if needed.

Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course. For men, the number is 40”.

Of course, this isn’t a diagnostic tool. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.

If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.

Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:

  • Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all, it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fiber foods are brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
  • Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles. Chicken, fish, tofu, yogurt – stuff like that.
  • Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
  • Move more. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.
  • Stress less. Seriously! Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
  • Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).

Recipe (High fiber side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4

1 lb Brussels sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)
2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
dash salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Toss.

Bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K. You may want to eat them more often.

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-abdominal-fat-and-risk

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/visceral-fat-location

http://www.drsharma.ca/inspiring-my-interest-in-visceral-fat

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-definition/abdominal-obesity/

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/weights-poids/guide-ld-adult/qa-qr-pub-eng.php#a4

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-proven-ways-to-lose-belly-fat/

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-tips-to-lose-belly-fat/

Alternatives for Dumbbells and Where to Buy Cheap Equipment

If you really want to make changes in your body and make your future body less susceptible to pain, injury and just feeling crappy, weight training is a must.

Adding lean muscle tissue bumps up your metabolism, strengthens your bones, muscles and connective tissue and it makes you feel good about yourself.

But, what if you’re new to weight training? What if you don’t have any equipment?

There are plenty of body weight exercises out that, but there’s another idea:

Make your own weights.

  • Put change in a tennis ball can or in a sock
  • Hold full water bottles or soup cans – This will only be a couple of pounds, but that works
  • Put sand in a bag or sock
  • Fill milk jugs with water, rocks or change
  • Use paint cans (more like half-full)
  • Make a medicine ball by taking any ball and making a hole in it and fill with sand or rocks, then patch the hole with duct tape

Here are more ideas for making DIY dumbbells.

Buy Dumbbells for Cheap

If you go to a sporting goods store, you’re probably going to pay more for those dumbbells.

If you do that, go for the iron hexagonal weights, which are always cheaper.

Other places to find cheaper weights include:

  • Discount departments stores like Walmart or Target
  • Play it again sports
  • Garage sales
  • Amazon.com always has a nice selection of more inexpensive products
  • Craigslist
  • Goodwill stores near you

If you really want to stay on a budget, you have lots of options for where to look. You just may have to spend more time doing it. Have a question? Email me and I’m on it.

10 Things to Do To Reduce Stress Right Now

Times are stressful these days. We have a constant stream of information in our faces, ears, eyes…everywhere. We’re getting older, we’re gaining weight and there are a lot of problems in the world that we have no idea how to solve.

Here’s the thing though: Stress is killing us. It’s making us drink more, eat more, sleep less, gain weight and feel tired all the time.

We have to deal with it.

These gut-wrenching times call for a serious intervention. If you’re feeling stress, no matter where it’s coming from, I can help you. 

Go through the list below and pick one thing. Set an alarm for every hour and do that one thing (well except drinking wine…at least wait until an appropriate time).

 

  1. Breathe
  2. Pet something soft and furry (an animal…get your mind out of the gutter).
  3. Go outside and breathe again. Look at the sky where there are no politics, computers or kids or dogs or cat puke or anything remotely resembling stress.
  4. Put on your favorite song and sing it at the top of your lungs.
  5. Sit quietly, close your eyes and picture your favorite place in the world.
  6. Watch this
  7. Pick one drawer in your house or office and clean it out.
  8. If you have a smartphone, send yourself a text describing how you feel using only emojis. (see below for an example)
  9.  Drink wine (at the appropriate time, of course, which is 5:00 but, as we all know, it’s always 5:00 somewhere)
  10. And, finally….exercise! You can’t be surprised that this is on the list, right? Take a walk, do some stretches, just move your body and get out of your head for a bit.

Make it a habit to do one or more of these things every single day and you may just find yourself losing weight naturally.

👎🤷‍♀️😵💩

Eating – Are You Doing it Wrong? It’s Not Your Fault

Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere!

And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?

Well, maybe…

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.

Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

Click here to read the full article.

Everything You Think You Know About Healthy Eating is Wrong and it’s Making You Fat and Tired

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the diet and nutrition info out there? Just standing in the grocery store line looking at the magazine headlines you’ll realize you don’t have the ‘5 Foods that Make You Skinny’ in your cart. Or what if you have the ‘3 Foods That are Dangerous for Your Health?’ What if you have one of those in there?

And then there are the experts trying to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?

Well, maybe…

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.

Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

What You Eat and Drink

The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.

When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we? If it did, we would all be sitting around in our bathing suits looking at our 6-pack abs.

You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.

Instead of Counting Calories, Focus on This:

Most days of the week, this is what you should shoot for:

  • A colorful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
  • Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads. Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. You don’t need to overdo it here. Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.

How You Eat and Drink

The next simple tip: Pay attention to how you eat and drink. This sounds kind of obvious, but a lot of us eat mindlessly, myself included. Studies show that how you eat has more of an impact than we previously thought.

So think about this: Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from GI issues? Do you eat while doing something else like watching TV or messing around on your phone?

When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.

Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savor every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste, and texture.

Breathe.

This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.

This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?

Thought so!

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And don’t forget about drinking your food.

Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.

Don’t get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal, not a snack. And don’t gulp it down too fast.

If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.

The bottom line is, keep it simple and the weight loss will come. Eat veggies at every meal, get enough protein and make sure you get some healthy fats in there. I know we’re all conditioned to believe that everything has to be low-fat, but most of that stuff is garbage. Our bodies need some fat to feel satisfied.

Next – Just slow down. Try for just one meal a day to take your time while you eat and see how that changes how much you eat.

Now if you want a smoothie that will actually fill you up with yummy goodness, try this recipe.

Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie

Serves 1

handful spinach

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 banana

1 chopped peach

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).

Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.

Blend, Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.

Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.

 References:

Dalen J, Smith BW, Shelley BM, Sloan AL, Leahigh L, Begay D. Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): Weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2010;18(6):260-264. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2010.09.008

20 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

Nutrition Data Chia Seeds

You’re Always Under Construction

Two things happened recently that reminded me of this:

We can’t always be moving forward.

What reminded me of this was, first, a neighbor of mine was frustrated because she was only able to do 15-minute workouts. Her house was under construction, her kids were going back to school and life was like a box of chocolates – that had melted into a gooey mess.

I was actually surprised she was working out at all, considering the chaos in her life. My advice to her was this: Sometimes you can do hour-long workouts. Sometimes you can’t.

It’s this thing called life, y’all.

Deep. I know.

I was thinking about her as I was trying to get out of my neighborhood, which has become increasingly difficult due to all the damn construction going on. Here in Chicago, they say there are 2 seasons: Winter and Construction.

Right now? We’re deep into construction.

Every day there’s a new road closed or blocked or backed up with cars and it feels like I’m not getting anywhere, kind of how my neighbor felt with her workouts.

But as I was sitting in a small-town traffic jam, I thought about all this construction. They’re resurfacing, rebuilding, reinforcing. In the end, we’ll be glad they did all that, right?

And sometimes, that’s what we need to do for ourselves.

There’s an ebb and flow to life. Sometimes we’re ON – We’re working out, we’re cooking dinner, we’re taking care of the house, the kids, the yard, the everything.

Sometimes we’re OFF – We’re sick, tired, someone else is sick, someone’s in your kitchen knocking down a wall, or you’re just tired.

The thing is, we are constantly under construction. We build ourselves up and then we get a little torn down, just like all the roads around here (which I am convinced are made of tissue paper).

The important thing is to recognize when you’re in an ebb-cycle and let it happen. We all need to hunker down sometimes and some things may need to get pushed to the bottom of the priority list.

Like for my neighbor – Just do the 15 minutes. It’s temporary and things will get back to normal, whatever normal is. And the best part? She can get an awesome workout in 15 minutes. I made her one. You can try it to.

Killer 15-Minute Workout

The next time you’re frustrated with your lack of progress or some other aspect of your life, ask yourself where you are and where you need to be. Can you afford some time to sit back and regroup? Giving yourself that time may be exactly what you need to start moving forward again.

Burn More Calories During Your Walks

Walking is a great exercise – You can do it pretty much anywhere, you get to be outside and you don’t need any special skills to do it.

That’s all well and good, but it’s also easy to turn your exercise walk into more of a stroll. That’s fine if that’s your goal, but if you really want to burn calories, it ain’t no walk in the park.

Make Your Walks WORK

There are ways you can make sure you get the most out of your fitness walks:

  1. Use your arms. I know, people may look at you, but they’re just jealous that you’re exercising. Swinging your arms gets your momentum going. Your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees, arms swinging straight, not across your body. Periodically flip your palms up and you’ll get your arms going in the right direction. Pay attention throughout your walk and notice if your arms start to flop. That probably means your speed has dropped too.
  2. Use good form. Land on your midfoot, not on the heel or the toe, with the foot right under the hip, not in front. This makes your walk more efficient and you’ll feel less tired. Keep your shoulders and face relaxed and your chest up. Pretend I’m watching you the entire time. There – you look gorgeous!
  3. Watch your speed. You want to walk fast like you’re trying to catch a bus but you can’t run because you’re in 6-inch heels (hey, it’s pretend). Check in every few minutes to make sure your pace hasn’t dropped. You want to be just out of breath, but still able to talk in short sentences.
  4. Use hills to get your heart rate up. When you find a good one, walk up as fast as you can and then recover on the way down. Repeat 3-5 times for a great interval workout.
  5. Use a good playlist with a beat you can walk to. Here’s a Walking Playlist you can try on Spotify.

You can also use walking poles, which have been shown to help you burn more calories. How to use walking poles.

Now, if you really want to do it right, try this:

Walking Interval Workout

You’ll go through a variety of intensities for a workout that will burn more calories and keep you from getting bored.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

The 3 Phases of Overwhelm and How to Deal

I was thinking about a recent FB post I made to my group about getting up on the wrong side of the bed. But it was more than that, I just didn’t realize it at the time.

It wasn’t just a bad mood, it was something else…something I couldn’t quite put my finger on – And I tried every finger, believe me.

It was like everything I did felt wrong. While I was eating breakfast, I thought – Maybe I should’ve showered first? While I was walking the dog I was thinking about 9 different things I needed to do from writing my newsletter to alphabetizing my books (seriously – I tried to make this something I simply had to do).

While I checked my email, I thought – should I work on my social media instead? Or there’s the cat barf I covered up with a towel that I’ve been ignoring all morning…and on it went until my brain was as busy as a dog in flea season.

The thoughts would not stop – All The Things I needed to do, should do, MUST do.

That was Phase 1: Overwhelm

Overwhelm is like a tornado, flinging you around inside your own head until you feel like you’ve been shot at and missed and s**t at and hit. You have to do everything and you have to do it all right now, but the more you do the more you have to do and the behinder you get.

And that takes you to the next phase of overwhelm:

Phase 2: Uncertainty

When you feel overwhelmed, you start questioning everything you’re doing, from what you decided to make for dinner to what workout you should do.

This is true of life, and even more true of exercise and weight loss.

When you feel overwhelmed by All The Things you become paralyzed. Just some of the things you may feel like you HAVE to do:

  • I have to diet – I know I need to watch my eating and there are so many diets…which one works? There are so many and I don’t even have time to research all of them so I’m like – I’ll just have some damn pizza because screw this.
  • I have to exercise – What do I do and how much? When do I find the time and how do I get motivated? What workouts work best and how do I find them?
  • I have to reduce stress because it’s making my belly fat, but I’m stressed about reducing stress! Where’s my wine, dammit!
  • I have to stop eating processed carbs and sugar because they’re making me fat, but I’m stressed so I can’t seem to stop eating them. Where’s my ice cream, dammit!
  • I have to sleep better to reduce my belly fat, but it’s like I try All The Things (cool environment, no caffeine, blah blah blah) but I can’t always control my sleep.

And all that uncertainty leads to the next phase of overwhelm:

Phase 3m: I’m a Total Failure

Okay, phase 3 is the place where we can stop this nonsense, because that’s exactly what it is. Feeling overwhelmed simply means you’re stuck in a loop for one or more reasons:

  1. Lack of information
  2. Uncertainty
  3. Conflict
  4. Lack of control

In the case of overwhelm and exercise/weight loss, all of these apply in different ways. You don’t necessarily lack information, you simply lack the RIGHT information. There’s so much information out there, that leads to uncertainty of who to listen to and what to try.

Conflict exists in all of these areas and that makes you feel out of control.

So what do you do about exercise/diet overwhelm?

  1. Stop and Regroup – Go back to the reasons you feel overwhelmed. Get out some paper and write down what’s going on in your head. What are you confused about? What are you uncertain about? Just getting it out can make it manageable.
  2. Go back to basics – You need to move your body. Period. You need some cardio and you need some strength training. Go back to that basic premise and ask yourself – What simple cardio or strength training could I do TODAY. Don’t worry about tomorrow. When it’s tomorrow, you can ask yourself the same question.
  3. Keep it simple – Again, the overwhelm comes when you feel like you have to do everything – Stress, sleep, exercise, diet, etc. Keep it simple and pick one simple thing you could do for a better diet – Drink more water, for example, or eat your salad before you eat anything else. For stress, just do something simple – Close your eyes and breathe, take a walk or listen to your favorite song. Pick just one thing to do and focus on that.
  4. Ask for help – Write out the questions you have and then hire a personal trainer, work with me to come up with a plan, or even email me your questions and I can give you some basic information.

The most important thing you can do is to keep moving forward, even if you’re not sure. Any exercise is good…it all counts. Remind yourself of that, take a deep breath and get to it.

4 Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Sometimes those holiday feasts are just amazing. And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance. It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days, but it doesn’t always stop there, does it?

Sometimes we overeat on regular days.

Or at regular meals.

Or All. The. Time.

So, why do we do this? We may sit down at the table or at a restaurant with every intention of stopping when we’re full, only to clean the plate and feel awful afterward.

Triggers for Overeating

We know it while we’re doing it, but that often isn’t enough to stop us. What contributes? Just a few common culprits include:

  • Mindless eating
  • Big plates
  • Too much junk food – Junk food is addictive
  • We treat food like it’s a reward – Have you ever treated yourself to a treat after a workout?
  • We keep the naughty foods where we can see them…and eat them
  • We’re tired, stressed or bored
  • We skip meals and then go crazy when we finally eat

Why we overeat is important and it probably changes depending on the situation, but there are some very simple things you can do to cut down on the chances of eating too much.

Here are 4 tips to avoid overeating at meals.

(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food. But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before your meal, leaving less room for the not-so-healthy stuff, but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

And of course, you’re hydrating so your body, so you’re getting more energy. That doesn’t suck.

Win-win!

Tip #2: …Or start with some umami

You know that foods all have different tastes: Sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. But there’s another taste out there, what the Japanese call ‘umami.’ This includes foods that tend to be savory and include high protein foods like fish, meat and some dairy products.

What makes something umami? One key ingredient is glutamate, which is an amino acid…think of the miso soup or the soy sauce at a sushi place. That flavor is all umami and there’s some thought that having umami broth or soup supplemented with MSG may help you lose weight.

In one study published in the journal of Neuropsychopharmacology researchers gave healthy women either regular chicken broth or chicken broth with MSG. They evaluated changes after they ate and found that those who ate the broth-MSG combo ate less overall and even ate less saturated fat during their meal.

Other studies have shown the same thing, that broth and MSG prior to a meal can decrease appetite and food intake, especially in women with a propensity to overeat and gain weight.

Now you’ve probably heard that MSG is bad for your health, mostly because it’s blamed for causing allergic reactions. But, most experts today agree that MSG doesn’t cause sickness or allergic reactions…just one of those old wive’s tales that get passed around until we believe it’s true.

To get started, check out 8 Tips for Using MSG in Cooking and in Recipes. You can get some at Amazon – just like everything else!

Tip #3: Try eating “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits? This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion. Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment, being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

In one study published in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior experts studied 2 groups – Women who focused on mindful eating whenever they went out to eat and a control group who didn’t change anything.

The findings are pretty interesting – The mindful group lost significantly more weight, ate fewer calories and less fat, improved diet-related capability and had fewer barriers to losing weight when eating out.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savoring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste, and texture.

Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less. When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

More: 6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating

Tip #4: Start with the salad or veggies

You may be ready to dig into the main meal, but hold up a second. You can have that…but after your salad.

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.

Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They’re “satiating.”

And these secret weapons are great to have on your side whether it’s a one-time event or something you struggle with daily.

Summary:

Have your glass of water, try umami broth, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.

Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas

If you’re not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:

  • Slices of lemon & ginger
  • Slices of strawberries & orange
  • Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
  • Chopped pineapple & mango
  • Blueberries & raspberries

Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They’re already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.

References:

Magerowski G, Giacona G, Patriarca L, et al. Neurocognitive effects of umami: association with eating behavior and food choice. Neuropsychopharmacology. March 2018:1. doi:10.1038/s41386-018-0044-6

Timmerman GM, Brown A. The Effect of a Mindful Restaurant Eating Intervention on Weight Management in Women. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2012;44(1):22-28. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2011.03.143

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/
http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

 

Why is My Metabolism Slow?

Metabolism is a word that comes up a lot when it comes to weight loss, and it’s obvious why – Your metabolism is the engine that drives your body. If it’s a little slow, you may feel tired, sluggish and, of course, feel like you’re gaining weight.

If your metabolism is fast then you’re not reading this because you’re probably out eating an entire pizza and not giving a s**t.

The thing is that our metabolisms can naturally drop about 5% for every decade after 40. So, if your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is 1400 at 40, over the course of the next 10 years, often less because the metabolism slows faster as we age (I know – not fair), that means you may need up to or more than 150 calories less to maintain your weight.

And most of us are not correcting for those unneeded calories, right?

The Basics of Your Metabolism

Your metabolism describes pretty much everything that happens in your body – Everything your body needs to do to stay alive. So, when we talk about increasing our metabolisms, we’re basically saying we want our bodies to burn more calories each day, which will leads to weight loss, right?

Well, it’s obviously not that simple because there are a variety of reasons your metabolism may slow down other than getting older. Let’s delve in, shall we?

What can slow my metabolism?

You already know that your metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy. And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

That’s why the whole calories in/calories out adage is pretty much crap when it comes to weight loss. Your metabolism is much more complicated than that, but there are some common reasons for a metabolic slow-down.

  • low thyroid hormone
  • your history of dieting
  • your size and body composition
  • your activity level
  • lack of sleep

We’ll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

 Low thyroid hormones

Thyroid hormones directly regulate your metabolic rate and your body weight. It’s pretty much the master controller of your metabolism. When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.

Ideally, it should work to keep your metabolism just right. But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course. Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.

Symptoms of an Underactive Thyroid

  • Fatigue
  • Unable to sleep
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Depression and/or irritability
  • Feeling cold
  • Constipation
  • Brain fog

There are more and, obviously, these symptoms can crossover into other issues, so they don’t necessarily mean a thyroid problem. The only way to know that is to get to your doctor and get your thyroid tested.

What causes Underactive Thyroid

  • Family history
  • Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
  • Medications such as steroids or lithium
  • Swelling of the thyroid

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

More: Is Your Thyroid the Reason Why You Can’t Lose Weight?

 Your history of dieting

Most of us have spent a large part of our lives dieting. A diet basically comes down to cutting calories enough that you lose weight. The trouble is, diets don’t work for the long term.

When you cut your calories too low, your metabolism actually slows down. On top of that, just losing weight at all causes your metabolic rate to slow down. This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to keep all your life functions going, but doing it all with less food.

So, here’s the deal:

  • Dieting without exercise can reduce fat, but it can also reduce the amount of muscle you have. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so when you lose it, your metabolism slows down.
  • When you diet and then go off the diet (as we do), your new metabolic rate is based on the new body mass – especially the amount of muscle you have.
  • According to one study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, when dieters got to their goal weight, their metabolic rate was severely depressed. They experienced immediate weight gain once they went back to their regular diets.

The bottom line is to avoid cutting your calories so low that your metabolism thinks there’s no food available and shuts down.

More: Calories: How to Know if You Go Too Low

 Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates. This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. No that doesn’t mean you should gain weight to increase your metabolism. Obviously, if that worked we would all be sitting around in our bathing suits basking in the glow of life.

You can’t always change your body type or your frame size, but one that you can change is your body composition. This is key to increasing your metabolism and losing fat. In fact, it’s much more important than a number on the scale.

So, how do you change your body composition? Besides your diet (adding more protein helps) and cardio exercise, there’s something else that really helps:

Strength Training

When you lift weights, you can increase your metabolism by more than 50 calories a day, which helps close the gap between how much you’re eating and how much you’re burning.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy. Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat. This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.

If you’re new to strength training, start with a Basic Total Body Workout about 2-3 days a week. Even using light weights can help you build lean muscle tissue and change your metabolism.

More – Body Fat Percentage Calculator

Which leads us to…

Your activity level

Now, while strength training and lean muscle tissue give you a long-term metabolic boost, cardio exercise actually temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you’re also sweating, your heart rate is up and you feel like you’re exercising.

Try to get in regular cardio exercise every day like:

And don’t forget even little things can add up. Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

That’s all part of the other equation for your metabolism – Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis or NEAT. NEAT comprises the energy expenditure of all daily activities that aren’t planned exercise – Sitting, standing, fidgeting, basically any movement you do.

Get More NEAT

  • Walk more – at lunch, after dinner, to the store, around the block, etc.
  • Play with your dog
  • Wash your car by hand
  • Park further away when you’re shopping
  • Lap the park when you’re watching your kid’s game
  • Work in the yard or do more chores around the house
  • Use the bathroom on a different floor

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate. In fact, in one study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, researchers had healthy participants sleep for 4 hours a night for 6 nights, followed by 12 hours of sleep for 7 nights.

The findings? Even just a week of sleep deprivation resulted in significant drops in metabolism. Lack of sleep also changes your ‘hunger’ hormones, making your hungrier than you normally would be.

That could lead to overeating without you even realizing it. The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Go to sleep at the same time if you can and get up at the same time. Practice as much as you can and, if you can’t get it all in, try power naps.

More: How to Get More Deep Sleep

Recipe: Boost Your Metabolism

The following recipe contains selenium, a supplement that can help your thyroid stay healthy and keep your metabolism going.

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

½ cup Brazil nuts
2 cups water
several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
½ cup chia seeds
¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk. If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.

Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip: Make a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries.

References:

Connolly J, Romano T, Patruno M. Effects of dieting and exercise on resting metabolic rate and implications for weight management. Fam Pract. 1999;16(2):196-201. doi:10.1093/fampra/16.2.196

Kinucan, P. Kravitz, L. Controversies in Metabolism. IDEAfit.com

Mullur R, Liu Y-Y, Brent GA. Thyroid Hormone Regulation of Metabolism. Physiol Rev. 2014;94(2):355-382. doi:10.1152/physrev.00030.2013

Sharma, S. Kavuru, M. Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview. . 2010; 2010: 270832. Published online 2010 Aug 2. doi:  10.1155/2010/270832

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/thyroid-and-testing
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance
https://authoritynutrition.com/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism/
https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/
http://summertomato.com/non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis-neat

Intermittent Fasting – Does it Work?

There are all kinds of diet trends out there – Low carb, the Keto diet, the Mediterranean diet – but the latest trend?

Intermittent Fasting

Now, this has been around for awhile, but like everything, it’s experienced a resurgence and there are some studies showing that it can actually help you lose weight.

I want to talk about a study that was published in the Journal of Nutrition and Healthy Aging. In this study, they had 23 obese women change their diets so that they were only eating between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

In that time, they could eat anything they wanted – although they could only drink water or calorie-free drinks.

After 12 weeks, the group had lost about 3 percent body fat and were eating about 350 fewer calories, which is surprising. They weren’t restricting anything, yet because they didn’t eat after 6 p.m., they naturally ate less.

Keep in mind, this is a tiny study, but interesting. And it kind of leads into another tidbit I found related to restricting your eating to certain hours.

Stress

They found that the time of day had a big impact on hunger levels and that we have a stronger perceived appetite at night. They found that stress can increase hunger hormones in the evening, which is one reason some of us end up bingeing at night.

The takeaway here is this: Creating a window of time for when you eat may help you naturally reduce the calories you eat. So, perhaps cutting off your eating at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. would be one way to test this theory out.

One more thing – If you’re interested in intermittent fasting, there a number of ways to do this. You can fast on alternate days, fast for certain hours, skip meals…it gets confusing. But this article, Intermittent Fasting: A Primer offers some great information about the different ways this can work.

So, what do you think? Have you tried it? Would you try it? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

Exercise of the Week: Wall Sits

Squats and lunges aren’t for everyone, especially if you have knee problems. But one way to work the lower body without the up and down motion of squats is with the Wall Sit. A Wall Sit is almost like a supported squat, but it’s a static move.

That means you’re holding an isometric contraction rather than moving through a full range of motion. The benefit of this is that you can strengthen the quad muscles and build endurance and, in some cases, avoid pain in the knees (although that always depends on your positioning and knee issues).

Wall Sits are great for pre-exhausting the muscles before moving on to other lower body moves and it’s also a great exercise for travelers because you don’t need much space or any equipment.

Obviously, if this move hurts your knees, you should skip it. If you’re new to the exercise, only slide down a few inches until you get a feel for the exercise and know how your body will respond.

Do it right: Stand in front of a wall (about 2 feet in front of it) and lean against it. Slide down until your knees are at about 90-degree angles (or an angle that is comfortable for you) and hold, keeping the abs contracted, for 10-60 seconds. Come back to start and repeat.

3 Must Eat Breakfast Foods

So, let’s talk about breakfast. Like a lot of people, I tend to eat the same breakfast every day. Gone are the days when I actually made a meal and sat down to eat it..wait, I don’t ever think I did that after I left home.

These days I usually throw some fruit in a bowl, add some yogurt and voila! Breakfast is ready.

If you tend to do the same thing, here are some questions for you:

Do you love your breakfast?

Do you have a very short list of “go-to” recipes?

Do you need a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again?

If your answer is yes, then keep on reading.

Breakfast is for Champions

You know they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and here’s why: Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism and weight loss.

Protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it.

So here’s how you’re going to get all the protein you need, as well as veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favorite new “go-to” breakfasts.

 Breakfast Food #1: Eggs

Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food and for a good reason. I know eggs got a bad rap awhile ago because they have some cholesterol and everyone freaked out about that.

Because of that, a lot of people started eating those processed egg whites in the carton. Kind of gross, right?

However, since then research has found that most of the cholesterol in our bodies is made by the liver – It doesn’t necessarily come from the foods we eat.

Now egg whites are good – they contain mostly protein, but the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses. Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.

Studies show that eggs help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin. Not only that, it’s easy to boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you’re running short on time.

This easy recipe will keep you going all morning long:

Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Kale

Alternatives to Eggs

I have to admit, I really wish I liked eggs. But I don’t, so I actually tried this recipe instead and it didn’t suck! I will say that working with tofu is something you need to practice.

And of course, anything with protein can replace eggs – Chicken sausage, turkey bacon, greek yogurt…you get the idea.

Tofu Veggie Scramble

Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds

Next on our list of must-eat breakfast food includes nuts and seeds. Why? Because they contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Nuts and/or seeds are great for breakfast. Besides the fact that they’re easy to grab and go if you’re running late, you can eat them just about anywhere without making a mess.

And there are lots of ways to incorporate them into your breakfast:

  • Add some nut butter to your breakfast smoothie
  • Add chia seeds to your yogurt, oatmeal or cereal
  • Sprinkle walnuts on your oatmeal, or spread peanut butter on some whole grain toast
  • Make a kind of ‘trail mix’ to add to your yogurt or cereal – Pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, flax seeds, pecans, pistachios…store it in a bowl and add a couple of ounces to your protein.

Don’t be fooled by “candied” nuts, sweetened nut/seed butter, or chia “cereals” with added sugars – you know I’m talking about the real, whole, unsweetened food here.

Hint: If you like a creamy latte in the mornings try making one with nut or seed butter. Just add your regular hot coffee or tea and a tablespoon or two of a creamy nut or seed butter into your blender & blend until frothy.

If you want something really good, try this one:

Nuts & Steeds Overnight N’Oats

Breakfast Food #3: Veggies

Okay, I know. It’s hard enough to get all our vegetables in every day and, if you’re like me, you’ve probably eaten 10,000 salads. And veggies for breakfast? Um, that doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it?

But, veggies are critical because they’re powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and water. Adding them to your breakfast will give you all of those good things – Not a bad way to start the day, right?

The great thing is, you can have them any way you like – Heck, you can have roasted veggies or even a salad if you like. Too often we think there’s some kind of ‘official’ breakfast food. But there are no laws against making your own rules, right?

Here’s an idea: When making your veggies for dinner, make twice as much. Then add some lean protein in the morning and you’ve got a full meal with all the right things. Try a breakfast sausage, smoked salmon or even chicken.

The key is to open your mind to new possibilities, then search for ideas that fit what you need. For example, overnight oats are great because you make them the night before and they’re ready when you’re ready.

That’s my kind of meal.

Mixing things up will get those healthy foods into your diet and keep your metabolism cranking all day long.

I’ve included a delicious recipe below for you to try (and customize) for your next breakfast.

Recipe (Eggs & Veggies): Veggie Omelet

Serves 1

1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 or 2 eggs (how hungry are you?)
¼ cup veggies (grated zucchini and/or sliced mushrooms and/or diced peppers)
dash salt, pepper and/or turmeric

Add coconut oil to a frying pan and melt on low-medium heat (cast-iron pans are preferred). In the meantime grab a bowl and beat the egg(s) with your vegetables of choice and the spices. Tilt pan to ensure the bottom is covered with the melted oil. Pour egg mixture into pan and lightly fry the eggs without stirring.

When the bottom is lightly done flip over in one side and cook until white is no longer runny.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip: Substitute grated, sliced, or diced portion of your favorite vegetable. Try grated carrots, chopped broccoli or diced tomato.

References:

Gray J, Griffin B. Eggs and dietary cholesterol – dispelling the myth. Nutrition Bulletin. 34(1):66-70. doi:10.1111/j.1467-3010.2008.01735.x

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/eggs-worse-than-fast-food
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/
https://authoritynutrition.com/eating-healthy-eggs/
https://authoritynutrition.com/12-best-foods-to-eat-in-morning/

Is Sugar Making Your Belly Fat?

Gaining belly fat is one of the most frustrating things that happens as we get older. It seems to creep in overnight and then it stays, a silent stalker that makes us feel pretty crappy about ourselves.

We all know the major contributors to belly fat, right? Looking at it from a distance, it involves the Big 6:

  • Exercise (not enough)
  • Being active (not enough)
  • Diet (eating too much)
  • Stress (too much and)
  • Sleep (not enough)
  • Hormones (’nuff said)

But break it down and it’s a little different for all of us. Some of us might exercise, but our diets aren’t that great.

Or maybe some of us have more wine than we should every night.

Ahem.

But break it down further and there’s one thing we’re all probably guilty of:

Too Much Sugar.

And really, we’re not totally to blame for this because how the heck are we supposed to know how much added sugar we’re getting? Sure, you could control it if you made everything from scratch…yeah. Um, let’s get right on that, right?

Also, there are so many yummy processed foods out there – It’s impossible to avoid all of them, isn’t it? And then there’s eating out…it seems impossible. No we can’t get rid of all the sugar, but there is something we can do about it.

Sugar and Your Belly

What you need to know about added sugar is that it loves helping your body store extra belly fat.

First, let’s talk about insulin, which is basically the ‘belly fat hormone.’ The more insulin you have in your body, the more belly fat you’ll store. Eventually, having too much insulin makes you insulin-resistant which means, yep – Stubborn, won’t-go-away belly fat.

And? Now you’re at risk for diabetes.

So, when you eat too much added sugar, it contributes to that insulin-resistance. Plus, some types of sugar go right to your liver, which gets turned into fat.

So sugar = belly fat.

I know. Not fair.

How To Get Rid of Added Sugar

There are a few very basic ways to start lowering your sugar intake and I don’t think any of these will surprise you:

  1. Stop drinking stuff with sugar in it – Juice, sports drinks, Coke…you know what these are, right? And don’t forget that alcohol also has sugar in it, something my brain refuses to accept. Does not compute.
  2. Eat real food as much as you can – Meaning things like lean protein, salads, veggies while avoiding the chips, crackers and other starchy carbs that also love to go right to your belly.
  3. Exercise – Not only can exercise reduce cortisol (the other belly fat stress hormone), but it can actually lower your blood sugar levels so they stay more even and you don’t have as many cravings.
  4. Go for the unsweetened stuff – I know that blueberry yogurt is yummy, but stuff like that has a lot of sugar. If you’re into that on a daily basis, slowly start to add unsweetened yogurt by going half regular yogurt and half unsweetened. Do the same with your cereal or oatmeal – Get a lower sugar, higher fiber version and start mixing it in with your Fruity Pebbles (do they still make that?)
  5. Use unsweetened applesauce as a sub – I kind of find it amazing that you can use applesauce instead of sugar when you’re making all kinds of things. Not that I really bake, but if I did…

Okay – so those are some very simple things to think about, now let’s talk about how you can make things even easier.

Apps to Help You Monitor Your Sugar Intake

I’m not a fan of keeping track of numbers – who has time for that? I probably do, but I’d rather let someone else do that…which is why smartphones are an amazing tool for the whole sugar thing.

Below are just a few great apps that help you know what you’re eating and how to change it.

Sugar Rush

With this app, you can actually scan your food with the barcode, search for common foods or enter what you’re eating and it’ll tell you how much sugar is in there. Pretty handy.

Fooducate

This is more comprehensive, allowing you to track your eating and activities, but it also breaks down the sugar in your diet too.

Wholesome Healthy Eating

This neat little app lets you collect recipes from the web, track them and then the app gives you personal recommendations for making them healthier. You get points for good things like fruits and veggies and you lose points if you have too much sugar or salt.

And now here is the easiest, yummy, no-sugar recipe in the entire world. Even I made it and it’s good!

Banana Chia Crisps

The bottom line is, all you have to do is pick one way you can reduce your sugar. Maybe it’s a sugary breakfast you need to tackle or a late night sweet tooth. Pick one and just focus all your energy on that without worrying about the rest of your diet.

Once you’ve got that down, move on to the next. You may just find you not only lose more belly fat, but you just feel better.

Got a sugar tip? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

Sources:

la Fleur SE, van Rozen AJ, et al. A free-choice high-fat high-sugar diet induces changes in arcuate neuropeptide expression that support hyperphagia. 2010 Mar;34(3):537-46. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.257. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

Schwarz JM, Clearfield M, Mulligan K. Conversion of Sugar to Fat: Is Hepatic de Novo Lipogenesis Leading to Metabolic Syndrome and Associated Chronic Diseases?   2017 Aug 1;117(8):520-527. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2017.102.

Stress Makes Your Belly Fat – Here’s What to Do About It

Remember when you were a kid – like around 8 years old or so – and all you could think of was how fat your belly was?

Yeah…um no. That’s not something an 8-year-old (at least in the olden days) worries about, right?

Now, fast forward from your 8-year-old self to where you are now. For me? Late 40s. Now it’s a whole different story.

It’s like, one day you wake up and you have this belly and it’s gross and it’s in the way and it makes you have to buy new clothes because your old ones don’t fit.

There a variety of reasons we gain belly fat, from changes in hormones to a drop in metabolism. But one very important contributor?

STRESS

Are you stressed out right now? Unless you’re lounging on the deck with a glass of wine, you probably are. Or maybe you’re having that wine because you’re stressed…whatever.

The point is stress affects every aspect of our bodies, especially our bellies. When you get stressed, your body releases cortisol and guess what that does? It stimulates fat storage, particularly around the belly.

Why does this happen? Because our bodies protect us in times of stress by holding onto fat. Now, that was probably helpful back in cave-man days, but now it’s just wrong.

Get Control of Your Stress

If you really want to deal with stress and, in the process, stop the constant cortisol production that’s adding to your belly fat, you have to do one very important thing:

Put Yourself First

The only way to deal with this is to give yourself the time and attention you need to start reducing stress. Practicing a few tools on a regular basis will help you ramp down the cortisol and ramp up the fat loss:

#1 STOP

If you’re stressed, you probably aren’t even aware of the thoughts going on in your head. They’re probably racing because you’re thinking of All The Things:

  1. All the things you NEED to do
  2. All the things you HAVEN’T done
  3. All the things you HAVE to do later
  4. All the things you CAN’T do because you don’t have time

These racing thoughts are not helping you actually be productive, right? And if you want to get off that treadmill (the other one will at least help you burn calories) you have to create some space for you to address it.

#2 Do a Brain Dump

I keep a list of things I can do when I’m stressed because, when I get stressed, I get anxious and when I get anxious I can’t think straight and in that kind of environment – I can’t make even the simplest decisions.

If you find yourself in spin-mode, having a list of things to do to get out of it will immediately calm you down and help you feel more in control. The first thing you need to do is:

Change Your Perspective. This might mean simply walking into another room, taking a walk outside or going for a drive. Getting out of the environment where the spinny wheels are should immediately give you at least some sense of calm.

Now, after that, make list of everything that’s going on in your head. Things you need to do, things you’re worried about…everything. No filters, no stopping and thinking, just write (I prefer writing because it brings you into your head a little more than typing, but do your thing).

Once you’re done that, all that stuff is now out of your head and on paper, where you can actually deal with it.

Look at your list…is it crazy-long? Could any human being tackle this list all at once? Nope. And you don’t have to either.

#3 Get Real

Okay, now that you know where your stress is coming from, here’s where things get down and dirty. You need to get real about what you actually need to deal with and what you can either toss or put aside for another day.

Pick the one thing you’re the most stressed about and set aside some time to face it. If you’re stressed about your finances, digging into them will give you some control and that control will help you calm down.

Once you’ve dealt with it, you won’t feel as stressed.

It’s not always easy facing what’s stressing us out and, sometimes, there’s nothing we can do about it. Sometimes it’s an external person or force that’s stressing you out and that’s when you have to dig deep to find a way to deal with it in a calm way. For example, as I’m writing this my neighbor is sawing something big and it sounds like there’s a helicopter buzzing inside my office.

That is stressing me out but I can’t go punch him in the face, can I? No, but I can put on some headphones with some relaxing spa music so that I don’t give into my violent urges.

Here are some things to try to get your stress under control:

  • Keep a stress diary. Just a piece of paper or something on your smartphone. Set an alarm to go off every hour or so and check in with yourself. If you’re stressed, create some space to actually deal with it now so you don’t fall down the stress rabbit hole.
  • Watch how you talk to yourself. I don’t know how many times I say, “oh my god I am sooo stressed!” Every time I say that, I’m creating more stress.  When you hear your thoughts going in that direction, stop, take a step back and get a little perspective. Can you start a new story about yourself? Maybe say, “Okay, I feel overwhelmed.” Own it and then you can do something about it.
  • Make a worry appointment. This sounds silly but make an actual appointment later in the day to deal with all your worries. Then, every time you get worried about something, remember…you can do that later.
  • Play the 1-, 5- and 10-year game. If you’re stressing over something, ask yourself if you’ll even give a s**t about it in 1 year. 5 years? 10 years? If not, you’re probably wasting your energy.

We can’t get rid of stress and a certain amount is a good thing. But giving yourself permission to manage it on a daily basis is what you must do if you want to feel good and get rid of that extra belly fat. Breathe. It’s all going to be ok.

Source:

Blaine B. Does Depression Cause Obesity?: A Meta-analysis of Longitudinal Studies of Depression and Weight Control. J Health Psychol. 2008;13(8):1190-1197. doi:10.1177/1359105308095977

You Already Have What You Need to Lose Weight You Just Need to Tap Into It

Despite the seemingly endless information out there, losing weight still seems like a mysterious process, doesn’t it?

We know it’s fundamentally about making sure we burn more calories than we eat, but it’s also about much more than that. Every choice you make each day, whether to exercise or not, whether to have the grilled chicken or go for the burger, whether to watch TV or go for a walk will determine whether you lose weight, stay where you are or even gain more weight.

So, what do you need to make those good choices day after day? It’s all about empowering yourself…putting yourself in the driver’s seat so that you’re making the choices instead of feeling like you have no choice.

1. Make It About Taking Care of Yourself

It may seem obvious, but making daily healthy choices starts with a fundamental desire to better yourself and not just to lose weight. The decision to be better, look better and feel better isn’t based on guilt, shame or the fact that your pants feel too tight. It’s based on the fact that you want to stop feeling sh**ty about yourself.

You want to feel good. You want a better life. And that desire is what will drive your choices.

When you have the right mindset, you’re able to look at exercise in a new light, as something that feels good rather than a punishment. You stop expecting instant results because you’re not as focused on those external changes. You’re also able to bypass excuses (I’m too busy, I’m too tired, etc.) that stop you before you even start.

Here’s how to start working on that mindset. Start by:

  • Fostering your desires. We all have moments when we desperately want to lose weight, but that desperation doesn’t lead to lasting motivation. Ask yourself what you really want for yourself. Go beyond thinner thighs or smaller love handles and, instead, ask yourself what would really make your life better? Having more energy? Staying healthy and active for your kids? Write these things down to remind yourself of what you really want.
  • Asking around. If you know healthy people, ask them why they exercise every day. You may hear something about weight loss, but you’ll also hear other reasons – it makes them feel better, it gives them energy or life wouldn’t be the same without it. Think about what you hear and imagine having those reasons for yourself.
  • Practicing. Most of us know how to make healthy choices, we just don’t follow through when it comes to crunch time. Overcome that by practicing one new healthy choice each day, no matter how small it is. Have an extra glass of water or take a walk on your next break. Those are the choices that lead to weight loss.

You can get started right now with this free 7-Day Kickstart Exercise Challenge. You’ll have easy-to-follow challenges that steer you in the right direction without overwhelming you.

2. Make It a Choice

One thing we humans like is choice.  As soon as we feel we have no choice, that’s usually when things go wrong.

That’s one reason many structured diets don’t work. There are so many forbidden foods that you end up craving all the things you’re not allowed to have. At that point, you may give in to those cravings just to stop that internal struggle.

But, healthy eaters don’t forbid certain foods. They often don’t even follow a particular kind of diet; they simply give themselves the choice of whether they’ll eat healthy or not. Each time they choose a healthy meal, it becomes easier to make that healthy choice the next time around.

It sounds strange, but knowing you can have anything you want allows you to make a choice. You’re in charge instead of being at the mercy of your cravings or emotions and that’s when you’ll feel the most empowered. You can learn more moderation by:

  • Keeping a food journal. Keeping a journal will make you aware of your eating habits as well as times you could make different, healthier choices.
  • Planning your treats. Being healthy and losing weight doesn’t mean you only get to eat tree bark and lemon wedges. You’re still allowed to have pizza, brownies or a burger now and then. The trick is the ‘now and then’ part. Planning for your treats will allow you to work those extra calories in so that you don’t sabotage yourself. If you know you’re having pizza on Friday, you can plan on a lighter lunch or a longer workout to help deal with those extra calories.
  • Make small changes. Giving up everything at once is not only tough, it’s a little scary. Rather than change everything in one day, choose one thing to work on – eating a better breakfast or replacing your afternoon Coke with a cup of tea. Work on that one thing until you’ve perfected it, then move onto the next. Try this 6-Day Nutrition Challenge to help ease you into some healthy choices without being miserable or feeling deprived.

3. Commit to Your Exercise Time

One reason many of us skip exercise is because we don’t actually commit to it. You might have a vague idea of getting in some workouts this week, but until you actually commit yourself, it won’t happen.

It’s hard to commit to something in the future, especially a workout. You may tell yourself you’re going to exercise while mentally leaving the door open to bail on the idea if something better comes along.

Successful weight losers not only commit to exercise each week, they also guard that time fiercely. The more often you show up for your workouts, no matter what you actually do during the workout, the easier it will be to make exercise a habit. These tips will help you make that commitment to exercise:

  • Schedule your workouts. Sit down with your schedule and carve out your exercise time for the entire week.
  • Start simple. Keep it short and easy – Something you know you can do – 10 minutes of walking, for example, or a simple Weight Training Routine.
  • Plan your routine. Write down what you’ll do, where you’ll do it, when you’ll do it and how long you’ll do it. You can always change things later if necessary.
  • Prepare yourself. Get everything ready for your workouts ahead of time to reduce the chance of changing your mind.
  • Protect your time. Plan everything else around that exercise time.
  • Always follow through. No matter what’s going on, try to follow through with every planned workout. Even if you only get in 5 or 10 minutes, keeping your commitment will empower you to follow through the next time. That consistency will help you build strength, endurance, and the momentum to keep going.

4. Prepare for Slip-Ups

One thing I’ve learned, both from my own experience and experience with clients, is that we will all slip-up. It’s just impossible to be perfect 100% of the time, even if you are Martha Stewart.

Most of us will be thrown off track by vacations, holidays, business travel, illnesses, life changes.

It will happen.

People often get frustrated when, just when they get into a solid routine, something happens to throw them off, but that’s what life is all about.

Sometimes just knowing it will happen can help you relax and deal with it. Some ways you can prepare yourself:

  • Allow some flexibility. If you’re going on vacation, chances are you won’t stick with your normal exercise and diet routine. Make a plan for how you’ll be as healthy as possible, but give yourself permission to back off a little so you don’t agonize over every little thing. Even if you gain a few pounds, the world won’t end. Just promise to get back to the routine when the vacation’s over.
  • Focus on the present. If you’re sick, have an injury or have a sick family member, you may not be able to exercise at all. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon all things healthy but do what you can to keep your calories under control and plan on how you’ll get back to exercise once you’re recovered.
  • Plan ahead. If you’re traveling on business, research where you’re going and figure out how you’ll exercise when you get there. Bring some workout DVDs, resistance bands or make use of the fitness room, if the hotel has one. If you have your schedule handy, schedule some workout time in, even if it’s just 10 minutes here and there.
  • Get back on track. If you get blown off course by the holidays or a surprise family visit, start back to your routine as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.

5. Realize There’s No Quick Fix

Most people know weight loss is a slow process – at least intellectually. But because of all the infomercials and questionable information out there, many of us have a secret belief that, if we could just find that one diet/exercise/pill, it really would be quick and easy.

The truth is, you have to exercise and eat well most days of the week to really get where you want to go.

Successful weight losers know this and act accordingly, committing themselves each day to exercise and healthy eating.

There is no point at which they can stop making these healthy choices and go back to eating junk food and sitting around the house. If they do, they’ll go right back to where they were before they lost the weight.

To understand this for yourself, think about how you approach weight loss. Do you try diet after diet, only to quit after a few weeks? If so, maybe you need to quit dieting and focus on the lasting changes you can make.

Do you start exercising, only to quit if you don’t see results? Maybe setting more realistic goals would motivate you to stick with it. You may even need some mental tweaking to open your mind and find a new perspective about weight loss.

6. Create Your Own Motivation

Isn’t it fun to make plans to exercise? It feels good to imagine yourself getting up tomorrow at 5:30 and going to the gym, getting in a killer workout before you start your day. But, what happens when 5:30 rolls around? Suddenly that “great idea” you had to workout so early in the morning seems utterly ridiculous.

Making plans to exercise is the easy part. Following through takes a different set of skills and it starts with realizing that you have to create your own motivation.

Too often, we wait until we feel like exercising but how much does anyone feel like exercising at 5:30 in the morning? The key is to find something, anything, that gets you moving. Once you get started, the rest will fall into place.

  • Promise yourself a reward. Sometimes just having something to look forward to is enough to get you out of bed – a hot bath, a massage at the end of the week or a leisurely night watching your favorite TV show. Promise yourself something good in exchange for your hard work.
  • Remind yourself of your goals. Write down your goals and put them next to your bed, right on top of your snooze button. When you wake up and consider skipping your workout, look at your goals to remind yourself that this workout is a necessary step to reaching them.
  • Don’t stop looking for motivation. Some days, motivation may be hard to come by. Even reminders of your goals may not be enough to get you moving and you may be tempted to roll over and go back to sleep. Hey, you tried, didn’t you? Instead of giving up, keep digging through all the reasons to workout until you find one that resonates with you. Each day, something different will motivate you – you just have to find what that something is. While you’re digging, go ahead and put on your workout clothes. Now, lace up your shoes and get started on your warm up. By the end of it, I’ll bet you find a reason to keep going.

7. Always Take Action

Too often, we get so focused on the scale that we forget success comes from what we do each and every day. Sometimes, taking an action, no matter how small it is, can make the difference between staying on track and getting completely derailed.

  • Keeping your commitment to workout, even if you have to do something shorter
  • Getting right back on track when you slip up.
  • Finding satisfaction in your healthy choices. Each time you make a good choice, you get stronger and more confident.

8. Be Annoying

Another thing that successful weight losers do is become one of those annoying picky eaters who’s always asking questions in restaurants.

Healthy eaters have to be willing to ask for what they want and can’t be afraid of special requests like sauces or dressings on the side. You can’t be afraid to ask questions about how things are cooked or if you can make substitutions.

For example, I went to lunch with a bunch of personal trainers and thought the waiter would have a stroke from all the special request ‘could you bring that sauce on the side?’ ‘Is that cooked in butter or olive oil?’ ‘Do you have brown rice instead of french fries?’

Eating healthy and watching calories requires vigilance and it may mean asking questions and making special requests which makes some people uncomfortable.

9. Take every opportunity to move

One of my successful clients has a rule for herself – she always parks in the furthest space from the door, no matter where she’s shopping (even if it’s the grocery store). Many successful people use this type of thing to stay more active.

All those little movements, extra steps you take around the house or the office, every time you stand up and stretch, they all add up and contribute to your overall calorie burn.

Some ideas:

  • Take a lap around the parking lot before going in to work or wherever you’re going
  • Use the bathroom on another floor every now and then
  • Make your phone calls while taking a walk
  • Sit on an exercise ball while you’re on the computer or watching TV

Just standing up more than you normally do can make a difference. It doesn’t have to be a big deal…just think about how you can move a little more.

 10. Take the pressure off

Last, it’s really hard to be consistent if you’re white-knuckling it through every choice. Instead, take a deep breath and remember this: You don’t have to change everything in one day. Focus on just one choice – A workout, a salad, a glass of water, a walk outside. Pick that one healthy thing and do it.

Done.

Being successful doesn’t always mean a number on a scale. What’s really satisfying is checking off that goal in your to do list. Every time you accomplish that, it gets easier and easier.

 

Tools That Can Help You Control Your Portions

Portion Control.

The scariest words out there, right next to, “Honey? We need to talk.”

The bad thing about portion control is that you have to actually pay attention to what you’re eating. The good thing? We live in a time where there are tons of great tools that make controlling our portions easier than ever.

Below are my favorites. Be sure to leave a comment if you have any favorites too.

Tools to Help With Portion Control

Meal Measure 1 Portion Control Tool 

21 Day Fix Portion Control Containers

Meal Trax Portion Control Plates

Apps that Make Tracking Your Food a Snap

  • BiteSnap Photo Food Journal. You just take a picture and the app does all the work for you. If you don’t have an iPhone, try MyNetDiary for androids.
  • Pertinacity – This app makes portion control really easy. You basically measure your food by your fist. For example, if you eat a sandwich that’s two fists, you just hit the little plus button. You can also set goals. Pretty nifty.
  • See How You Eat – This is a neat little app that allows you to take pictures of what you’re eating as a way of tracking your meals. Just seeing what you’re eating sometimes can be eye-opening.

There are plenty of other apps out there but these are some of the easiest to use. Be sure to leave a comment if you have any ideas.

All About Your Metabolism – Here’s how to speed things up

The word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days. How many times have I looked at someone skinnier than I am and think – “Man, I wish I had her metabolism.”?

Actually, I usually think, “Man, I wish I had her arms/legs/flat belly/really expensive workout pants.”

But I know that a speedier metabolism would at least help me get closer to that Skinny Woman.

So, what do you know about metabolism? You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does that mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive and without this amazing biochemistry, you and whatever body you have would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heartbeat, healing wounds, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together, it’s easy to imagine that they’re all going to work a little differently for all of us.

For some, it works too fast. For some, too slow. And for some? Just right.

That’s what we call your “metabolic rate.”

Don’t worry – There will not be a pop quiz after this.

What is Your Metabolic Rate and How Can You Make it Go Faster?

Your metabolic rate is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  • Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  • Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

I kind of feel like all of mine go to storage, don’t you?

As you can imagine the more calories you burn while working, moving and creating heat, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

So, how do you measure your metabolic rate?

There are a couple of different ways

  1. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR or BMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active. Calculate your BMR.
  2. The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period. Calculate your TDEE.

So, What Makes My Metabolic Rate Slow or Fast?

Short answer: A lot of Things.

Your Thyroid

You know about your thyroid, right? It’s a little gland at the front of your throat that releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.

On the other hand, if your body doesn’t release enough thyroid hormone, then you know what happens. Yep…you burn fewer calories.

More about your thyroid.

Your Weight and Size

Another thing that affects your metabolism is how big you are. Larger people have higher metabolic rates, but that isn’t the end of the world because one thing you can do about it: Increase lean muscle tissue.

In other words, lifting weights.

Muscles are more metabolically active than fat so the more you have, the higher your metabolism will be. Your body burns more energy even when you’re not working out. It’s like free weight loss!

Well, not really but sort of.

There’s another reason you want to lift weights, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. A funny thing happens when you go on a diet or start losing weight: Your metabolism actually slows down because your body is trained to hold onto body fat. I mean, what if you’re not eating because all the food is gone??

You know it isn’t, but your body doesn’t.

Lifting weights can offset this little problem, helping you hold onto muscle that would otherwise be lost through the weight loss process.

Here’s a great workout to get your started: Total Body Dumbbell Workout.

Cardio Exercise

When you do cardio, your metabolic rate goes up because your muscles are burning fuel. This is temporary, unfortunately, but it definitely affects your metabolism in the long run, especially if you’re losing weight.

Don’t forget you have to lift weights, too.

Here’s an easy Low Impact Cardio Workout you can try to get your metabolism moving.

The Food You Eat

We often don’t think that eating can actually help us burn calories, but it’s all part of your overall metabolism.

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can actually use this it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example, increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein, you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

Stress and Sleep

There is plenty of research showing that your metabolic rate is affected by things like sleep and stress.

In one study published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, researchers found that stress increases the hormone, cortisol, which can increase the development of belly fat.

Lack of sleep can have the same effect and, of course, make you even more stressed out.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

So, you know that you can increase your metabolism by:

  • Doing cardio
  • Lifting weights
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Dealing with stress
  • Focusing on getting more protein

If you want the full workout experience without having to think anything about it, I’ve got some options for you:

7-Day Kickstart Exercise Program – This free program takes you through 7 days of simple challenges that help get you going in the right direction.

8-Week Weight Loss Program for Women Over 40 – This is the whole shebang – 8 weeks of cardio and strength workouts in video/pdf form, all planned out for you.

Below, is a great recipe for upping your protein. Eat up and enjoy!

Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old

Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs, and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

References and Sources:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance
https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

Seematter G, Binnert C, Tappy L. Stress and Metabolism. Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders. 2005;3(1):8-13. doi:10.1089/met.2005.3.8

Are You White-Knuckling It? It’s Time to Let Go

When we set out to lose weight, there are two different things happening.

First, there’s what we think should be happening. You start working out, eating salads, doing All The Things to lose weight…and those things are hard, right?

We sacrifice the foods we enjoy, grit our teeth through temptation, sweat and grunt and burn during our workouts. At the end of the day, we’re triumphant and exhausted for all our hard work and it feels like we should see something for those efforts, at the very least, a few pounds gone on the scale.

After a few days or weeks of this, you feel like you should see some massive progress right? And you’re not wrong to want that. You deserve it.

So, that’s thing number one.

The second thing that’s happening is going on with how your body approaches weight loss.

As you workout and eat less and do All The Things, your body is not thinking –

“Dang, I’m dropping this weight like a hot brick!”

Your body is more like -“Well, I need some time to get used to what you’re doing and then, when I do, I’m going to lose about a fraction of a pound for every pound you think you should be losing. Now let me get back to growing more mitochondria.”

It’s just how the human body works…

Weight Loss is Slooooow

The thing is, the scale can’t measure everything you’re accomplishing and it may be weeks or months before you see significant changes.

When we see very little movement on the scale, we start feeling that we sacrificed something, that we missed out on something – That causes the problem.

If you feel that way, you may end up wondering:

Do I have to keep this up every day? And for what?

For weight loss to work permanently, there has to be a sense of rightness in what you’re doing. A sense of power when you realize you really don’t need that afternoon donut to make life worth living.

A sense of satisfaction when you move your body in a new way. If it feels like a chore, like a sacrifice, if you have to white-knuckle it through every choice, how long can you keep it up?

Enjoying exercise and healthy eating really is possible and it starts by learning about yourself.

  • What are your goals and what do they mean to you?
  • What’s your motivation and what are the obstacles that stand in your way?
  • Do you really understand the role of exercise in weight loss?
  • Is emotional eating keeping you from enjoying healthy foods?

The thing is, if you’re white-knuckling it through the weight loss process, nothing’s going to stick. You have to be invested in the choices you’re making so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.

So, here’s a question for you: What if you just let go? Stopped trying to control everything? What if you just did it and see what happens?

You may be surprised.

It’s Time for A Challenge!

There are times in your life when you’re in sort of exercise hibernation mode. Like you have to approach your workouts like a scared kitten you’re coaxing out from under the bed…

“Come here little guy…I won’t hurt you if you won’t hurt me…”

Then there are times when you need to reach under that bed, grab that cat and…okay, never mind.

You should never, ever, reach under the bed to grab a feline without some serious protection.

The point is, this time of year brings tons of energy and we can use that energy to take control of our workouts.

To that end, your mission should you choose to accept it is to set some challenges for yourself. Pick 5 consecutive days and set a goal for yourself each day – Something that pushes you a little out of your comfort zone.

Some ideas:

Daily Challenges – Pick Your Poisons

  • How many minutes can you exercise? – How many minutes of exercise can you accumulate in one day? My minimum is 30 minutes, so I’m going out on a limb to say I’ll get in 60 minutes at least one day in the next 5. How many minutes will you get?
  • How many steps/miles can you walk? – If you use a tracker, you have this information available but, if not, you can simply use distance. For example, could you walk 1 mile one day this week? Could you walk more? Set a goal and do it.
  • How many calories can you burn? – If you use a tracker like a FitBit or Apple Watch, you probably get a summary of how many calories you burn each day. Mine, for example, is 400 calories. My goal is to burn at least 450 calories one day this week. What’s your goal?
  • How many exercises can you do in 10 minutes? – For this, pick a series of moves – Wall pushups, squats, lunges, step touches, crunches, bicycles – Any body weight moves (see some examples here). Write them all down and do 20 reps of each one. Keep repeating for 10 minutes.
  • How many times can you stand up? – For this one, pick a day, set a timer and stand up as often as you can. Keep track of how many times so you can see how awesome you are. Bonus: Do some stretches or walk around during your breaks.

Those are just some ideas…what about you? What would challenge you? Leave a comment and let us know!

The One Problem You Need to Fix to Start Losing Weight

What’s so hard about weight loss? There are about a hundred answers to that question, one of which is pizza.

But, step back and look at the big picture and it gets a little more psychological.

I know…that’s heavy, but just stick with me here and think about one question:

Do you value yourself?

I’m going to define this in my own terms. By value you yourself, what I mean is this:

  • Do you take care of yourself because you’re worth it?
  • Do you put yourself first so you can take care of everyone else around you?
  • Have you stopped reading? Don’t bail on me now. I’m going somewhere with this

I’m thinking about this because I came across a couple of interesting things when I was researching an article.

First was a study that was trying to find out the predictors of successful, long-term weight loss. Now, in this study, they found that people who focused on internal motivators like self-efficacy, interest in what they were doing, and enjoyment of exercise had the most success at long-term weight management.

If you’re interested, this study was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise and it’s called Exercise Motivation, Eating, and Body Image Variables as Predictors of Weight Control.  I know. Easy bedtime reading.

Now the second thing I came across was sort of on the same subject of motivation.

In this study, researchers collected data from a group of women who continued to exercise after completing a structured exercise program. They found that the most important aspect of adherence wasn’t the type of exercise they did or how much weight they lost.

It was self-worth.

As the study authors suggested, “Women must value themselves enough to continue to participate in physical activity once they start.”

That was a study about women, but this applies to everyone, of course.

As I was thinking about these studies, I asked some of my clients and friends this: What’s the number one thing you need in order to exercise?

Here are the answers I got: Money (to hire a personal trainer, personal assistant, etc.), motivation, time, and, from one person, “A crane to haul me out of bed in the morning.”

When I told them about these studies and the fact that the real motivators were one’s ability to succeed as well as one’s self-value, I got some rolled eyes and, I’m pretty sure one of them flipped me a secret bird by rubbing her eye with that finger.

Yeah, I caught that.

Let’s Dig In

I don’t want to get all psychological here, but…well, okay, I kind of do. I think we all have different things that motivate us – External things like

  • I want to look good
  • I want to fit into those jeans
  • I want this fugly cellulite to just go away

And those things can be really motivating.

But, they don’t have much staying power. Sure, the state of your cellulite may get you going today but, eventually, you’ll get busy with real-life issues.

Paying bills and figuring out your purpose in life and cleaning cat barf and, suddenly, the state of your cellulite is the least of your problems.

But internal motivators, now those have some stamina. Knowing that a workout is just going to make you feel good about yourself or that you’re going to get better at something or that you just want to do something healthy for yourself because you’re worth it…now, those are the long-term power sources you can draw on whenever your energy is waning.

That’s a lot to unpack, I know, but what you do with that information is actually very simple.

Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take some time today, maybe like 10 or so minutes, and I want you to write down what you want for yourself. Think about how you feel, mentally and physically, and then think about how you want to feel. What’s missing and how do you get it?

How can you put yourself first? Because that’s really how you start to value yourself. You deserve a little time to figure out what you need, right?

Once you have a good list of what you need, pick just one thing and do it.

Today.

That’s how you really take care of yourself.

3 Reasons to Exercise Besides Weight Loss

One thing we all love is this: Instant gratification. And there are so many ways to get instant gratification these days – Wine, Cheetos, going on Facebook to see that your high school bully gained weight…all of those things make us feel good.

A lot of the things we do for instant gratification aren’t that great for us (say, like wine and Cheetos), but we still do them and, really, it’s okay to do these things sometimes.

But there are other healthy ways to get an instant boost. Yes..I’m going to talk about exercise.

Sorry.

Exercise is something we don’t think of as giving us instant gratification, I know. If you do exercise, you probably do it because you know you’re supposed to or because you’re trying to lose weight. You’re not reallly thinking of it as something that can make you feel as good as, say, wine and Cheetos.

And, to be fair, it doesn’t give you that exact same feeling.

But…exercise can deliver instant gratification in a few ways. Just hear me out and you can prove it to yourself.

1. Mood

One of the single best benefits of exercise is an instant lift in your mood. In one study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies (yes, we have one of those), scientists found that just 10 minutes of exercise a week was enough to significantly improve your mood.

10 minutes a week, y’all.

Now, scientists don’t know exactly how all of it works, but we do know a few things that happen when you workout:

  1. Distraction – Whatever’s going on in your life, taking a break to workout instantly takes you out of your head and into your body. This is especially useful when you’re working on a particularly gnarly problem, worrying over something or you just need a break from real life for awhile. Being physical means your brain can rest for a bit and you’ll often even find you’ll find a solution to whatever’s bothering you.
  2. Self-efficacy – We all have those days when we feel like failures. Exercise is one thing that can take you out of that place, give you some confidence and help you feel better about yourself. If you can finish a workout, you can finish other things too.
  3. Social Interaction – Not all workouts will be social, but just the idea of getting out reminds you that there is a world out there with people and puppies and flowers and that makes us all feel a little less alone in the world. We get energy from other people and when you’re all doing the same thing, like walking outside or working out in the gym, it gives you that little boost of being a part of something larger than yourself.
  4. Hormones – Then there’s the biological side of exercise. When you workout your body releases feel-good hormones. Sometimes it takes a while before those kick in but, when they do, you know it. Your mind clears and suddenly life looks better than it did before.

2. Energy

Do you ever feel like you’re tired all the time? I think we’ve all been there…maybe we are there right now. Some of that has to do with getting older. It’s a sad fact that we just don’t have the same energy as we did when we were younger.

On top of that, we’re busier than ever and we have a lot of responsibilities.

Trying to cram the same amount of effort into an older body and a busy schedule makes you tired.

We can probably do something about how we schedule our lives, but one quick fix is exercise.

One study done by researchers at the University of Georgia found that sedentary adults who did just 20 minutes of low-intensity exercise (like taking a walk, say) 3 days a week reported feeling more energized after just a few weeks.

I know that when you’re tired, the last thing you feel like doing is exercise. You may have to trick yourself into it:

  1. Just put on your workout clothes. Sometimes that alone is enough to get you moving.
  2. Promise yourself you’ll only do the warm-up. If you don’t feel more energized, you can stop.
  3. Plan a reward for finishing your workout.

Sometimes you just have to negotiate with yourself a little to get over that initial I-don’t-feel-like-exercising hump.

3. Self-Esteem

Do you ever have days when you wake up and are already making a list of the ways you suck? Or maybe you’re already thinking of all the things you have to do and are worrying that you’ll fail.

One way to get your mind in a more positive place is to achieve something and a workout is one of your best options.

This works in a couple of ways. First, there’s the instant gratification of completing something you view as challenging.

Just changing into workout clothes can be a challenge, right? And once you do that, once you start the warm-up and once you finish the workout, you feel good about yourself. You did it! If you can do that, you can do more.

The second way it works is over the long term. There have been some studies about exercise and self-esteem and most of them conclude that people who start exercising and keep doing it consistently for at least 6 weeks have a higher self-esteem whether they lose weight or not.

Looking at all of this, let’s sum up: If you workout for 10-20 minutes just once a week, you’ll be in a better mood. If you do it at least 3 times a week, you’ll be in a better mood, have more energy and raise your self-esteem.

Can’t beat that with a stick.

Need a workout to try? I’ve got a great Low-Impact Cardio Workout just for you.

Source:

D. Scully, J. Kremer, M. M. Meade, et al. Physical exercise and psychological well being: a critical review. Br J Sports Med. 1998 Jun; 32(2): 111–120.

3 Hidden Benefits of Strength Training

I have a question for you:

Are you strong?

When you think of strength, what comes to mind? Physical strength maybe. Maybe mental strength. Maybe both.

However you define it, there’s a very good chance you’re already strong in a lot of ways. It’s strength that helps us keep our s**t together, right?

It’s strength, physical, mental and emotional, , that helps you get through things like a flooded basement or, say, when your husband dumps old ashes into a plastic trash can and it sets half the garage on fire.

Not that I’m talking about anyone in particular.

And then there’s mental and emotional strength…the ability to get out of bed and face all the Things. Little Things like taking a shower and going to a job you don’t like. Big Things like dealing with an illness or an injury.

Strength is something we all have in a number of ways…but you can be stronger.

This is when we circle back around to lifting weights. Yes, it makes your body strong, all the way from the mitochondria in your cells through your bones, muscles and connective tissue.

Yes, I just said mitochondria.

But, lifting weights goes beyond the body into places you may not be aware of. And if you’re a woman over 40 who’s dealing with perimenopause, weight gain and life all at the same time, lifting weights may just save your sanity.

Why It’s Hard to Lift Weights

First, I want to address the major reason why some people don’t lift weights: It’s exercise.

Like many things related to that word, it feels like a chore. It requires a lot from us: Energy, time and, well, strength that we may not have simply because we haven’t been lifting consistently.

It’s also confusing. What exercises do you do? How many? How often? How do you fit it in when you’re busy? What about the cardio?

Also, people think it doesn’t do much for weight loss because it doesn’t burn as many calories as cardio does.

There are other reasons, of course, but those are the favorites. I can address all of those issues in another article.

What I want to do now is to convince you that lifting weights is worth it. I want you to be stronger. I want you to realize that lifting weights is not a luxury…it’s a necessity.

What you need to know is this: Weight training doesn’t have to be awful and it does much, much more for you than make your muscles strong. In fact, it has benefits you may not even know about.

That’s about to change.

One group of researchers culled through hundreds of studies on weight training and mental health and here’s what they found.

The Hidden Perks of Weight Training

1. Attention and Comprehension

When researchers sifted through these scientific studies, one thing really stood out: Lifting weights improves your cognition.

Cognition is important because it involves your brain’s ability to process what’s going on around you through your thoughts, senses, and experiences.

It’s how we turn experiences into memories and then we can then access those memories to, well, do everything we need to do each day.

Obviously, this is important, but there’s a bigger perk here. Part of cognition is executive function…this is basically the control center in your brain that manages everything you do that requires thinking.

I’m using it right now to write this article.

You use it every day to organize your day, research the best cat litter to buy, or make a grocery list.

Experts have found that everyone can benefit from this, but especially older adults.

In fact, once people start lifting weights, studies show the biggest change is in memory, which is huge.

I think of how much time I spend wandering around my house trying to remember why I went into this room or that room…If I didn’t lift weights, I would probably have total amnesia.

2. Anxiety and Depression

Most of us have experienced both anxiety and depression at some point in our lives and most of us have probably heard about all the things you can do to reduce anxiety, from meditation to medication.

Walking and other aerobic exercise is also a great way to burn off extra tension caused by anxiety as well as lift your mood a little if you’re depressed.

But only recently have scientists realized that lifting weights can reduce the symptoms of both depression and anxiety among healthy adults.

One study performed by Duke University found that depressed participants were able to overcome their depression without medication after lifting 4 times a week for 4 months.

In fact, they found that for every 50 minutes of exercise, the rate of depression decreased by half.

There could be any number of reasons this works:

  • The release of endorphins, that lovely hormone that makes us feel good, along with a variety of other hormones that get the body buzzing
  • A distraction – Sometimes getting out of your own head can help with depression and doing something that makes you feel confident, like lifting weights, does just that
  • It makes you feel less hopeless – If you can strengthen your body, your mind naturally follows. Sometimes taking any action when you’re depressed can be a boost

Doing anything physical can help with both anxiety and depression, but lifting weights gives you the added bonus of adding lean muscle tissue to your body. Double perk!

3. Self- Esteem

Do you have body image issues? If you don’t, I want to be you.

I’ve read umpteen articles on improving body image, but I honestly have never found that staring at my body in the mirror and saying good things about it has ever worked.

I mean, I can’t stare at the cellulite on my thighs and say, “I love you thighs!”

That is a lie.

However, what does work is…yep…lifting weights.

A variety of studies have shown a positive relationship between weight training and self-esteem.

One study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine took two groups of people, one of which started a walking program and the other doing stretching and weight training.

At the end of 6 months, there were significant increases in attractiveness, physical conditioning and self-worth in the group that did the stretching and weights.

The thing is, regular strength training allows you to actually feel your own strength.

You can do more things! You can do more pushups, you can lift heavier weight.

Walking up the stairs with a heavy laundry basket doesn’t suck as much. Other chores like raking leaves or putting out a garage fire become easier.

Nothing boosts confidence more than feeling strong. In fact, strength training is the one thing that has helped me the most in the past couple of years of Weight Gain Extravaganza!

Also known as – Late 40’s + perimenopause.

Looking good is something we all want, but feeling good is priceless. If you’re not lifting weights, there’s no better time to start. Give yourself a good 6 weeks of simple, regular weight training and see what happens.

Need help getting started? I’ve got you covered:

  • Virtual Personal Training – If you want a customized program just for you, this is your best bet.
  • 8-Week START Program – This program includes both cardio and weight training workouts that are perfect for beginners and get progressively more challenging so you don’t end up miserable.
  • Basic Total Body Dumbbell Workout – If you’re ready to start right now, this workout is a good choice. It works all the major muscle groups with simple, easy to follow exercises. Do this workout at least 2 times a week, resting a day or more in between, and you’ll be on your way.

If you need more help, feel free to email me…it’s not always easy getting started, but I can help.

Sources:

Gothe NP, Mullen SP, Wójcicki TR, et al. Trajectories of change in self-esteem in older adults: exercise intervention effects. J Behav Med. 2011;34(4):298-306. doi:10.1007/s10865-010-9312-6.

McAuley E, Blissmer B, Katula J, Duncan TE, Mihalko SL. Physical activity, self-esteem, and self-efficacy relationships in older adults: A randomized controlled trial. ann behav med. 2000;22(2):131. doi:10.1007/BF02895777.

Why people with depression should lift weights – Philly. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc/Why-people-with-depression-should-lift-weights.html.

I Tried It:The Schwinn Classic Cruiser Exercise Bike

With more and more people working out at home these days, there’s no shortage of fitness gear out there to help you lose weight. One of the most popular choices for the home exerciser: Cardio machines.

The most popular is usually a race between the treadmill and the elliptical with the stationary bike following up the rear, but no matter which one you choose they all pretty much look the same, don’t they?

Big steel creatures with all kinds of handles and buttons and flashing lights…usually the kind of the thing you relegate to the basement because no one really wants ugly, bulky machinery out where everyone can see it.

At least, until now. You might change your mind when you check out the Schwinn Classic Cruiser Exercise Bike by Nautilus.

The Skinny

I’ve used Nautilus cardio equipment before – The Nautilus U616 Upright Bike, which I really loved, the Bowflex Treadclimber and my favorite the Bowflex Max Trainer.

No, I don’t work for Nautilus, but it’s kind of like buying a car. When you find a company who makes high-quality machines that never break down, you stick with them. And that’s just one thing Nautilus is known for.

Everything I’ve tried by Nautilus has been just that – High quality, sturdy, easy to use and easy to find space for, even in the smallest workout space (like my tiny basement).

The Schwinn Classic Cruiser has all of those qualities, but with an added bonus that no machine I’ve ever seen has:

It looks really cool.

In fact, looking at it, you might think it isn’t a real bike but maybe a statue or a sculpture you’re not supposed to sit on.

I know…It’s hard to imagine that anyone could make a stationary bike look cool, but Nautilus did.

They did it by going retro, combining old-school charm along with modern technology, something you could almost put it in your living room as a piece of art…and, even better, something you can use to exercise while you’re watching TV.

If I had the space, this is something I would love to put in my office so I could hop on and get some exercise throughout the day.

The Features

When you look at the features on just about any cardio machine, they go on and on and on. In fact, most machines have more bells and whistles than any of us actually use, making them so complicated you have to read the manual before you can even start a workout.

This is another thing that sets the Schwinn apart – It’s sleek and simple with everything you need for a great workout, but without all the extras you don’t care about.

The Schwinn has:

  • A state-of-the-art electromagnetic flywheel – This is what you want in a stationary bike. You’ve probably seen bikes that have a knob where you adjust the resistance. That’s okay, but what you really want is one like the Schwinn which changes the resistance electronically. That means it responds more quickly and makes the ride feel smoother.
  • Odometer – This tracks your distance in miles or kilometers and speed in mph or km/h.
  • Bluetooth connectivity – Download the free app, Schwinn Classic Cruiser, and you can wirelessly sync your workout. You can track total calories burned, time and distance. The app itself has 4 different workouts to choose from, including a tough 14-minute interval workout.
  • Brake levers – This is one feature that makes the Schwinn such a modern classic. They’re not operational but are part of the sleek, retro design of the bike.
  • Resistance shifter –  This controls the level of resistance, which goes from 1 to 7.
  • Workout timer – There’s also a cool little workout timer. Turn the knob all the way up to 20 minutes and it ticks the time down as you workout.
  • Media rack – The media rack is also sleek and unobtrusive. You can easily fit almost anything there, from an iPad to a book.
  • Partner apps – The bike also works with popular apps like Zwift, which is a training game that connects you with other cyclists, and RideSocial which has a variety of videos to watch so you can cycle through everywhere from Death Valley to Scotland.

The Experience

The best thing about the Schwinn is the fact that you don’t have to push a lot of buttons to get started. You simply plug the bike in, get on, start your app, set the timer (if you like) and go. The saddle seat is wide and very comfortable as well as easily adjustable.

The timer goes up to 20 minutes and it does tick down the seconds of your workout, which can be a little distracting.

However, the feel of the bike is very smooth…the pedals glide like a hot knife through butter and the seat is nice a cushy.

Start the Schwinn Classic App and you’ll find 4 workouts options.

The first one is cute – It’s a game where you’re the paperboy pedaling through a neighborhood and you use the handlebars to throw newspapers. You try to get points by hitting pink flamingos or gnomes…you lose points when you do things like break windows (which I did a lot).

The other workouts are more typical – a 14-Minute Interval Workout in which you sprint for 30 seconds and recover, repeating that. There’s a Timed workout and then there’s a manual setting. There’s also a link to get the RideSocial app as well.

The Pros

  • The cool factor – I’ve never had a machine that looks like this. It really is a beautiful machine that basically looks (and feels) super cool.
  • The simplicity – The idea behind this bike, according to Nautilus, is: “The Schwinn Classic Cruiser bike offers a trip down memory lane through a fast and effective 20-minute workout, transporting users to a simpler time when your biggest concern was what baseball card to put in your wheel spoke or what color handlebar streamers to hang on your bike. “
  • The comfort – Most stationary bike seats feel like you’re sitting on a slab of concrete, unlike the Schwinn which is nice and wide and cushy.
  • The variety – I like the different workouts offered and I like the fact that you can use other apps as well, so you get a lot of variety.
  • The solidness – One of the most important features of any home cardio machine should be sturdiness. The Schwinn Classic is solid and durable, not moving at all even when I’m pedaling at my fastest.

The Cons

I have to admit, I have almost no problems with this bike. I think if there were one thing, it might be that some exercisers might find it a little too simple. Some might miss having a console right there to track your progress.

True, it doesn’t have a console, but the app does a great job of taking its place. And, in my mind, that’s kind of the point of the Classic. It takes you back to simpler times when you could just hop on your bike and go.

The Schwinn Classic Cruiser is an excellent choice for a home exerciser looking for a fun, stylish way to exercise and at $799, very affordable.

 

Weird and Interesting Fitness Trends for 2018

There’s nothing Americans love more than creating trends. Because I’m old, I think about the things I begged my mom to get me – Parachute pants, Tretorn shoes, the Barbie Dream House…or, remember the Easy Bake Oven?

I had one and, thinking about it, I probably baked more when I was 6 than I do now.

Exercise is its own category and there have been some weird trends over the years. The Thighmaster, that ab chair thingee where you basically do the same motion that used to happen when your lounge chair buckled underneath you…so many ab thingees.

Fast forward to 2018 and we have a whole slew of trends, some that are interesting and some that are just plain old weird.

  • Plogging – I’m guessing that millennials made this one up because they seem so much more socially conscious than my generation. Plogging is also known as ‘Trash Running,’ which means the purpose of your run is to pick up trash during your jog. It’s a great idea, but I think I’ll leave them to it.
  • Aerial Yoga – This, if you don’t know, is when you’re suspended by this sort of hammock-type material and you do yoga poses. It kind of looks like some sort of suspended ballet…both weird and fun. I think if I had a class nearby, I’d probably try this one.
  • Peleton – This involves having a spin-bike at home and you can follow spin classes on the connected screen. Now, there’s a part of me that wants to try this. But then I remember that Spinning is just plain old hard. Oh and there’s a $2000 price tag for the bike, so that does help one decide on this one.I think hardcore spinners and cyclists with cash on hand would like this one the best.
  • Goat Yoga – I get it – goats are cute and baby coats are even cuter. Do I want to do yoga with them? I actually get plenty of animals all over me with my cats, so I think I’m good on this one.
  • Aqua Mermaid – Okay, when I was a kid, I did what was called water ballet. I guess that eventually turned into synchronized swimming…and then mermaids? Just thinking of wearing that tale makes me claustrophobic.
  • Orange Theory Fitness – This is part of the whole High Intensity Interval Training frenzy everyone seems to be in right now and I actually tried it, so I can at least give my impressions. The idea is that you have a heart rate monitor and you can see your heart rate on screen as you do through different phases of the workout – The rower, treadmill, TRX and weights. You try to get your heart rate into the ‘orange’ zone for a certain amount of the workout. The idea here is fine, I just got bored with the workouts. Even though they change, you still use the same equipment. Also, I injured my shoulder..too much HIIT almost always causes problems.

What do you think? Would you try any of these trends? Have you ever tried something really weird? Do tell!

Want to Lose Weight? You’re Going to Have to Get Real With Your Eating

For most of my life, I’ve been pretty lucky with my weight. I have a decent metabolism, grew up in a healthy environment where we exercised and ate healthy meals and I’ve been able to carry those good habits into adulthood…

Until about 4 years ago when my body went haywire with what I like to call “Weight Gain Extravaganza!”

This is painful for anyone but, for a trainer (who should know better, right?), it’s excruciating.

When the weight gain started, I did what I’ve always done when my pants get a little too tight:

I exercised more.

I tried more and more exercise, but that only added to my stress and stress actually makes you gain even more weight. Not only because of stress hormones but because stress makes us reach for all those comforting, carby foods to make us feel better.

And the thing is, there was something I wasn’t being honest about.

I was eating too much.

I’d never had this problem before, so I just kept telling myself I was doing great even though I was doing all the wrong things:

  • Eating out more – Work and body image stress made me so tired and down, I didn’t have the energy (nor did I even care) to shop or cook. Then we would go out and there would be wine and, of course, just this once I would have the burger and fries…before long, it was more burgers than salads.
  • Drinking more – ‘Nuff said
  • Eating all kinds of carbs – Carbs, in and of themselves, are not bad. We need them…but we don’t need to eat them all day like I was. Popcorn, crackers, ‘vegetable’ chips…it just went on and on.

With all the exercise I was doing and all the results I wasn’t getting, I finally figured out what I had been telling my own clients all along:

I had to get real about my eating.

Getting Real with Your Diet

The thing about weight loss is that exercise isn’t the best tool in toolbox. Yes, it burns calories, but as weight loss goes, it simply doesn’t burn enough to cause serious weight loss.

Exercise is essential, though, because it’s great at helping us avoid more weight gain and it helps us maintain more muscle mass. If you diet without exercise, you lose muscle and that just shuts down your metabolism even more.

Because of that, all my exercising was not able to overcome all the extra calories I was eating, which led me to two of the most dreaded words in the English language:

Portion Sizes

We’ve all heard it before, right? That a serving of, say, chicken is about the size of a deck of cards or that a serving of veggies should be about the size of your fist. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really paid attention to that.

Then there’s the confusing world of servings vs. portions. You may have a single portion of something, but it may include more than one serving.

I know, it’s like understanding Calculus but think about it like this: A small bag of chips may come as one portion, but there are probably 2 or 3 servings in that bag…and you don’t just stop at one serving. Who does that?

Which explains why we end up eating too much. We eat too many servings without even realizing it.

And then there’s another problem.

We almost always underestimate the number of calories we’re eating.

In one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (a little light reading) found that people underestimated the calories they were eating by a whopping 38%. That means a 200-calorie estimate could actually be 276 calories.

Thinking about that and what had been going on with me for the past few years, I realized the crazy reality I created for myself:

I had convinced myself that I really was eating healthy.

Liar, liar pants on fire.

And it isn’t just me – We all do it. I can’t count all the clients who claimed a healthy diet, yet they were getting zero results, just like I was.

What I learned from them, and what I had to relearn for myself is that: If you believe you’re doing everything right and you’re not losing weight, there’s a good chance you’re eating more than you think you are.

Yes, it could be a medical issue like thyroid problems, which are common and you should always see your doctor if you’re not losing weight just to make sure everything is in working order.

And if it is? You’re going to have to do what I did. You’re going to have to change how you eat.

How to Change You’re Eating

I’m going to tell you how I started managing my portion sizes because that, along with my workouts and stress management tools (taking walks, deep breathing, getting fired, a little meditation – wine, I’m not going to lie), has finally started working for me.

Another hard truth: Changing how you eat and focusing on portion sizes is a lot of work, especially if you’ve been doing what I did – Eating out a lot and eating a lot of crap.

To really get results:

  • You’re going to have to make more of your own meals
  • You’re going to have to measure what you eat
  • You’re going to have to keep track of what you eat

Each of these things means you’re going to need to:

  • Plan your meals
  • Spend a lot of time at the grocery store
  • Spend time prepping your meals
  • Writing everything down

The good news is, there are some great resources out there to help you figure out this portion control thing. Here’s how I did it.

Efficient Nutrition Portion Control Containers Kit

This neat little package is how I got started changing my diet. It’s actually part of the Beachbody Challenge I signed up for, the 80-Day Obsession.

You don’t have to do that program to follow the container kit, but adding exercise will really help you. Holler at me if you want help with that or check out my 8-Week START program which guides you through 8 weeks of fun (well mostly) workouts.

These containers are the easiest way to manage portions that I’ve found. Yes, it involves some measuring, but that’s made very easy by the color-coded containers.

How it works:

  • You use the formula they give you to estimate how many calories you need to lose weight (this is always a guesstimate since no formula will be exact).
  • You find the plan that fits with the calories you’re allowed to have. For example, I’m on Plan B which is a plan for 1500-1799 calories. That’s reasonable for my weight and exercise regime – It sets me up for weight loss but I’m not going so low on my calories that my metabolism shuts down.
  • The plan you’re in determines your daily food intake, which involves the color-coded containers:
    • Green for veggies (this equals 1 cup)
    • Purple for fruit (1 cup)
    • Red for protein (3/4 cup)
    • Yellow for healthy carbs (1/2 cup)
    • Blue for fats (1/3 cup)
    • Orange for dressings and seeds (2 Tbs)
    • Teaspoons for things like oils and butter
  • Your plan tells you how many of each container you can have each day. For example, I get 4 greens, 3 purples, 4 reds, 3 yellows, 1 blue, 1 orange and 4 teaspoons. And some days I don’t even get all my containers because I’m too full.

Sound complicated? It’s really not once you get going and this particular kit includes a 21-day meal plan guide, which is the only way I figured all of this out.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot of work but if you try it, even for just a week, you’ll notice a few things:

  1. You’ve been eating too much
  2. You can eat less and still feel full
  3. Eating more often keeps your energy up and helps you avoid that icky I-ate-too-much feeling
  4. You’ll start losing weight

This is not a diet. I hate diets and have never been able to follow them.

This is more of an eye-opening experience to how you’ve been eating and that in and of itself is worth it.

There are other things I’ve found helpful with this portion control experiment because, to really get it down, prepping for your meals ahead of time is a must. I know, pain in the butt, but that’s what it takes.

Here are my favorite accessories:

If you decide to go for it, you can head over to the FIXATE Nutrition website (it’s part of Beachbody) and they have tons of ideas for meals and prepping.

Having never had to watch what I eat, this has been an eye-opening experience for me and, as hard as it is to change, it’s worth all that hard work. You look better, you feel better and, the best part is, you feel better about yourself.

There’s nothing worse than the guilt and shame of gaining weight, but taking action helps ease that.

That alone is worth it!

What about you? Do you have any portion control ideas or stories? Leave a comment.

Source:

Wansink B, Chandon P. Meal Size, Not Body Size, Explains Errors in Estimating the Calorie Content of MealsAnnals of Internal Medicine. 2006;145(5):326. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-145-5-200609050-00005

Need Some Stress Management? It’s Time to Take a Walk

If you’re stressed out, there’s a very good chance you’re a living, breathing human being.

I emphasize the ‘human’ part of the equation because I see my cats and they are so not stressed that they actually sleep for 23 hours a day.

There are all kinds of stress and all kinds of ways to deal with stress, but it doesn’t have to be terribly complicated.

In fact, you have one of the simplest tools there is to get your stress levels down:

Your feet.

And some shoes.

A lot of us walk, some of us walk for exercise and others of us walk because if we don’t, the dog will eat everything in the house…except the cat, of whom the dog is terrified.

Walking has a lot of great benefits, one of the best ones being stress relief.

Walking and Stress Relief

I’ve done some research and here’s what I’ve learned about walking, exercise and stress relief:

  • A 10-minute walk can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Exercise can help your brain cope better with stress
  • Walking can loosen up your muscles – Are your shoulders up around your ears? Yep, you need a walk
  • Walking gets you out of your own head – If you’re an overthinker, walking is the perfect thing for you. It gets you out into the world instead of stuck in the gerbil-wheel of your own thoughts
  • Walking gives you a little me-time – Sometimes when the dog is up my butt and the cat is stalking the dog and the other cat is crying because he gets hungry in between bites and my husband is playing on of his video game on 11, I go for a walk. It helps me not kill anyone
  • Walking lets you work out your problems – As a writer, it’s a constant battle to stay focused and write stuff that doesn’t suck. Walking helps when I’m stuck or even when I just need to solve a problem. Something about the rhythmic movement of your legs sets your mind free and lets you think more clearly
  • Walking makes your dog nicer – It makes your dog tired and a tired dog is a good dog. Nothing works on my cats, though

How to Walk for Stress Relief

  1. Get stressed out – If you need help with that, I want to be you.
  2. Realize you’re stressed out – Signs you’re stressed: You’re grinding your teeth, your neck is tight, your shoulders are stiff and you realize you just yelled at the driver in front of you for coming to a complete stop at a stop sign because you’re in a hurry, dang it.
  3. Take a walk – An outside walk is a great choice, but indoor works just fine if you can’t get out. Walk around the house, the treadmill, the office, the parking lot, the mall, march in place…just walk.
  4. Try to go for at least 10 minutes – The first 5 minutes, your mind will still be obsessing. After that, it starts to calm down and you feel better.
  5. Breathe and pay attention to what’s around you – Maybe you’ll see something pretty. Maybe not. The point is to be in the moment and let your thoughts sort of unravel. It’ll be hard at first, because you’ll end up chewing on some problem – What to make for dinner or that email you forgot to send. But, after a bit, you’ll drift a little and that’s where the relief happens.

Try to do this at least once a day and keep track of your stress walks with this Tracking Chart. It’s very simple – You’ll answer 3 questions: Did I Walk? How long did I walk? Did I feel better after my walk? If you didn’t feel better, you have my permission to email me and yell at me in ALL CAPS.

 

How to Stop Kicking Yourself for Failing

What’s the most annoying thing people say when they talk about losing weight and getting healthy?

You Have to Change Your Lifestyle

I know – it’s an awful phrase and it’s been said so many times, it almost feels like it’s lost its meaning.

So, let’s break this whole thing down.

When you look at how we do things, there are generally two approaches to weight loss that many of us take.

One is the all-or-nothing route, like going on a trendy diet.

This is a popular route because when you go on a diet, you eat less food and you lose weight, right? The downside of this is that we simply can’t follow those kinds of diets forever.

There’s too much deprivation and most of these diets just don’t work in the real world. Another thing about dieting is this – When you go back to your normal eating habits, which is kind of inevitable, you usually gain back more weight than you lost.

Worst of all? When you diet, you lose muscle so when you gain back the weight you gain more fat.

Now, let’s talk about the other approach – the changing your lifestyle thing.

Changing how you live. That sounds hard, doesn’t it? And change means getting out of your comfort zone.

And really, the word ‘comfort’ says it all; There’s comfort in that familiar place, even if we’re miserable there. We know that misery, its edges, its seams and its weak places. When we step out of it, we’re suddenly in the unknown with none of the paths we once followed to guide us.

The unknown and our fear of it will often push us to fail and this is particularly true if you’re trying to change how you live.

To do that, you have to change years of habits – How you eat, what you eat, how you spend your time – Exercising, for example, instead of watching TV. That’s a big deal and it’s not easy.

Anytime you try to make these changes, you will fail. We all will!

You’ll start exercising and then you’ll get sick or get an injury. You’ll eat healthy and then you’ll have that pizza or that extra piece of pie. You’ll be on the right track and then something will happen – Something always happens.

And many of us, when we’re trying something new, will revert back to old familiar behaviors when things get scary.

It’s normal for us to go backward sometimes, yet we start to think that, not only did we fail, but we are failures. And if we’re failures, then what’s the point?

But, what if that isn’t true?

What if you could change that around into something that makes more sense?

What Failure Really Is

  • Getting to know yourself: If you’re new to exercise, how can you possibly know what you’re capable of? We often set impossible goals, forgetting that we’re not sure what we can handle yet. This is a time to start simple with something you know you can do, whether that’s taking a walk every day or trying a simple weight training workout.
  • A learning experience: If you can only workout for 10 minutes, maybe that isn’t a failure, but actual feedback. You now have more information about what your body can do and you can expand on that every workout.
  • Experimentation: When you were a kid, you didn’t expect yourself to be perfect at everything you try. As an adult, you probably do, especially if you’ve tried this exercise thing before. The truth is, we can’t know what we can do, what we like, what works if we don’t try it first. There’s a good chance that whatever you try may not work…at least not at first. Giving yourself the freedom to experiment may be what you need to succeed.

What do you think? Do you ever feel like a failure? Is that feeling justified or are you being too hard on yourself? What would you accomplish if you looked at those failures in a different light?

Tips to Keep You Exercising

Whether you’re just starting exercise or you’ve been at it for awhile, there will come a time when you want to give up.

It’s at this moment, when you doubt yourself, when you stare at the scale and wonder why it doesn’t move faster, that you need to dig deep to keep going.

One way to do that is with a motivational pep talk. Sure, pep talks are a little cheesy, but what you say to yourself in these moments is critical to keep you going.

Telling Your Inner Critic to Shut It

We all have that inner voice who just loves to tell us all the things we’re doing wrong.

I don’t really know where this voice comes from but mine reminds me of a mean lunch lady from the 3rd grade.

I still remember you Mrs. Hatchet – And I’m not kidding. That was her name.

The point is, that voice may be telling you bad things about your workouts, but there are ways you can shut it down so you won’t give up on your fitness and weight loss goals.

1. This Will Get Easier –The first time my client *Jenny did a pushup, she did one, collapsed to the floor and gasped, ” Worst. Exercise. Ever.” I’m pretty sure she said that the second time and the third, but what she forgot was one important fact: This will get easier.

It doesn’t feel that way in the beginning, but every time you do those killer exercises like pushups, lunges and squats, you’re building stronger muscles.

This happens secretly and in a way the scale won’t recognize, but know that deep in your body, your muscles are growing. Deep in your cells, your mitochondria are increasing. Your heart is pumping more blood to your muscles and your body is becoming more efficient at burning fat.

The moment you really feel your own strength is the moment you commit to exercise for the long run. To get there, however, you have to keep doing it.

Action Plan

  • Track Your Workouts – Keep a workout log and track your exercises, reps, sets and weights so you can actually see your progress from week to week.
  • Take your time – It only gets easier if you gradually build strength and endurance. Start with what you can handle – say, 20 minutes of cardio and a basic total body workout. Each week, add a few minutes of cardio and more reps, weight or sets to your strength workout.
  • Enjoy the process – We get so impatient to see results, we want to skip the boring part at the beginning. Doing that is like trying to learn a foreign language without learning the alphabet. The first few weeks of exercise is like your alphabet – Essential for building a strong foundation to prepare you for more intense and frequent exercise. You need this to avoid injury and burnout. Find a way to enjoy each workout for what it is.

2. I Don’t Have to Be Miserable – I’ve heard some people compare their workouts to a jail sentence, which makes me think they’re either melodramatic or they’re doing some seriously boring workouts. Too often, we lock ourselves into a workout routine, regardless of whether we’re actually enjoying it. Remember, you don’t have to do things you hate and exercise shouldn’t be miserable.

If you ever find yourself staring at the clock, the seconds ticking by at glacial speed, remind yourself: “I don’t have to be miserable.” You’re in charge and you’re also free to change what you’re doing at any time.

Action Plan

  • Change your routine – Try changing your strength workouts if they’re getting boring or try a new cardio workoutCircuit training is a great way to add more fun to your workouts and keep you from staring at the clock.
  • Plan something new – A new exercise videoexergame, group fitness class or even a new workout playlist can rejuvenate your workouts.
  • Find support – We often feel that there’s something wrong with us if we don’t fall in love with exercise. Talking to other people, whether it’s in an online forum or with people you know will give you some perspective and help you realize we all struggle with exercise.

3. I’ll Feel Better Once I Get Started – The hardest part of working out is usually getting started. Sometimes the idea of going from sitting or sleeping to jumping up and down and sweating is so overwhelming, we can’t imagine bridging that gap.

This is the time to remind yourself that you’ll feel better once you start moving. There may be some discomfort at first as you get your heart rate up but, that initial discomfort fades as your body warms, your temperature rises and blood flows into your muscles.

When the endorphins kick in, you’ll feel even better and, at the end of the workout, you’ll get more satisfaction because you worked out even though it was hard.

Action Plan

  • Warm up – A good solid warm up is crucial for getting both your body and mind ready for exercise. Start with dynamic exercises that mimic the workout you’ll be doing and allow your heart rate to increase gradually – Walking before running or 5-10 minutes of cardio before lifting weights. Allow time for an extra long warm up on those days it’s hard to get moving.
  • Prepare – It’s already hard to get started with a workout, but it’s even worse if you have to scramble for basic things like your shoes, workouts clothes or pre-workout snacks. Get into the habit of preparing everything the night before so you have fewer excuses to skip your workout.
  • Draw on your inner strength – You have a variety of tools to help you get moving– Discipline, your commitment to your health and future and even competitiveness – you don’t want all those people at the gym right now beating you, right? Try a workout mantra you can turn to when things get tough.

4. I Only Have to Do This Today – If you think of exercise as something you have to do for the rest of your life, you’ve set an impossible goal. If it’s hard to do one workout, how on earth will you find the strength and will to do it every day?

This is the time to remind yourself that you don’t have to. You only have to find enough motivation for today’s workout. When tomorrow comes, you’ll find motivation for that one too.

Action Plan

  • Focus on what you’re doing – During each workout, pay attention to what you’re doing. Concentrate on your form and the muscles you’re working during strength exercises. Monitor your intensity during cardio to track what your heart rate is doing. Get to know your body during this workout and forget about the rest.
  • Reward yourself – Plan rewards for all your successes. Plan time for your favorite activity (reading, listening to music, etc.) each time you finish a workout. After a week of workouts, plan a night out or some new workout music. After a month of workouts, schedule a massage or a weekend trip. Having something to look forward to will make your workouts easier

New Exercises to Try – Crossover Lunges

Lunges are never far from any personal trainer’s mind and never are we more excited than when we learn a new one.

Today’s version is kind of like a curtsy lunge, which involves stepping back and across into the lunge. In this version, you’re actually crossing over in the front, which makes it more challenging. Rotating the upper body with straight arms is like the cherry on top.

There’s a lot going on with this exercise and the one thing you want to avoid is tweaking the knee.

The idea is to try and keep the knee over the toes, although you’ll find that adding the rotation will naturally pull your knee to the side a little. Watch out for that and skip this exercise if you feel anything bad happening in your knee.

Do it right: With the arms straight out in front of you, step the right foot across your body to the left into a lunge, pausing to make sure the shin is straight and the knee is over the toes. For added intensity, rotate the torso to the left, taking the arms to the side as far as you can. Step back to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Just For Fun – How to Do Yoga With Your Cat

Equipment:  A yoga mat, a towel, a bottle of water, one sheet of aluminum foil squished into a ball, fire extinguisher (optional)

How To:

  1. Spread your mat on the floor and set the mood by putting on soothing music, dimming the lights and lighting a candle.

2. Remove the cat from the mat and come to the front, standing in Mountain Pose. Hold one ball of aluminum foil in the right hand. You’ll use this later.

3. Close your eyes, breathing deeply.  Be aware of your surroundings and how your body feels.

4.  Inhale deeply, pausing to hold your breath as you notice the faint stench of burning hair.

5. Turn around, keeping your body in alignment, and notice that your cat is holding his paw over the open candle flame.

6. Quickly put out your cat’s paw (use fire extinguisher here if curtains catch fire), blow out the candle and resume your practice, keeping your breaths shallow as the odor of burnt hair diffuses.

7. Remove the cat from the mat.

8. Step to the front, noticing your cat is now sprawled lengthwise across it, licking his slightly singed paw.

9. Forget standing on the mat.

10. Sweep the arms up as you inhale, still holding the aluminum foil in your right hand, and fall forward, stopping halfway down to avoid hitting your cat, who has materialized directly beneath you.

11. Hang down, only going as low as your cat allows.

12. Enjoy the sensation of stretch and of your cat chewing on your hair.

13. Come back up, sweeping the arms up and simultaneously tossing the aluminum foil ball across the room.

14. As the cat chases it, quickly reclaim your mat, lying down on it before your cat makes it back across the room.

15. Push up into downward dog, feeling the stretch in your shoulders and hips. Enjoy the scent of cat breath and the sensation of whiskers as your cat, once again, sits directly under your face.

16. As the cat sprawls across your mat beneath you, walk your hands and feet to the side and off the mat, enjoying the feel of the cold, hard floor beneath your hands and feet.

17. Breathe.

18. Come down onto your stomach and rest your cheek against the floor, ignoring the cat hair sticking to your cheek.  Notice that your cat, though only 10 pounds, has expanded to take up your entire mat.

19. Come up into a pushup position and hold as your cat jumps onto your back.  Feel the cat-body connection as his soft, suddenly heavy body collapses onto yours.

20. As your arms give out, gently collapse to the floor and turn your head to the side.  Exhale, blowing a stray ball of cat fur out of your face. Enjoy the delicate slurping sounds of the cat giving itself a bath on your back.

21. When your cat is finished with his bath, gently roll over, ignoring the outraged mewling as your cat is dislodged.

22. Move the cat off the mat.

23. Roll over, relaxing the entire body and ignoring the 10-lb mass that jumps onto your chest, face inches from yours as the cat attempts to steal your soul.

24. Savor the moment until you can no longer breathe.

25. Dislodge the cat and move through the rest of the day with a sense of peace and harmony.

Exercise Lesson of the Week – Do What You Like

I once had this client who really loved all of the exercises I gave her.

When we went through various exercises she would say things like, “Wow, I really feel that! That’s a good one!” Or, “Yeah, I can see how this exercise would really help me!”

Which is great, right? I mean, who loves squats and triceps extensions?

Turns out? Not her.

One day we were going over her week and, as always, she said she did the workouts. But, as we went through each exercise, me asking if she did this one and that one, she surprised me.

For at least half of them, the ‘good’ exercises she raved about during our workouts, she said, “Oh, no…I didn’t do that one. I didn’t do that one either.”

“But you said those were good exercises, right?”

“Oh, yes!”

“Well, then why didn’t you do them?”

“Well, that one hurt my elbow and this one hurt my knee, and…”

She went on and I kind of felt like banging my head on her treadmill at that point.

But what I realized was that, in her mind, anything that hurt or was uncomfortable was ‘good’ and therefore, she should do it.

The problem? The discomfort ensured that she wouldn’t actually do it,

Think about it…we probably all have this notion that…

Exercise has to hurt in order to be effective.

Well, it doesn’t. And it shouldn’t and if it does? You’re doing it wrong.

I’m not saying there isn’t some amount of discomfort in exercise – The whole idea is to get out of your comfort zone. And yes, if you want to change your body, you have to work at it.

But change isn’t going to happen if you’re not exercising at all and if you’re trying to do ‘good’ workouts that hurt, that’s what’s going to happen.

At this point, this client and I went through all the exercises to find the ones she actually did. Many of these were stretches or other simple moves, to which she said, “But those aren’t good enough. I mean, I’m not going to lose weight just doing those.”

“But you’re not doing the other ones anyway,” I reminded her.

What she needed to learn was that it was okay to start with a workout full of exercises that felt good to her.

Once she gave herself permission to do the moves she liked, she started doing them much more frequently and, more important, she was actually enjoying it. Okay – ‘enjoy’ is a strong term, but she didn’t hate them.

Is she going to lose weight as quickly by just doing stretches? Probably not. Would I like to see her do more, work harder? Of course.

But what’s more important than any of that is the fact that she is now exercising every day and she’s she likes how her body feels afterward. And? She eventually started asking for new and more challenging exercises.

That’s how it starts…with something that makes you feel good, regardless of whether that something fits into the rules of exercise.

Tips for Finding Something You May Actually Like

  • Give yourself permission to experiment – If there are things you’ve done in the past that you hated, give yourself the freedom to try something new. It could be yoga, stretching, belly-dancing…just think of what you typically like and then try something. There are videos that have just about any workout you could even think of trying.
  • Give it time – The first time you do anything is going to feel somewhat uncomfortable, especially if it’s been awhile. Don’t give up just yet…the more you do something, the easier it gets and the more you might like it.
  • Forget the rules – There are plenty of rules about exercise – the Exercise Guidelines say so, but if you’re not following those guidelines, what’s the point of trying to adhere to them? Do your own thing. That’s how you figure out your own body.
  • Forget weight loss – There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, but that only happens once you’ve established a regular routine and, of course, are careful with your diet. When you’re just starting out, or getting back to exercise, put weight loss aside and just focus on showing up for your workouts.

Taking the pressure off to do a certain exercise or workout can free you up for things you might actually enjoy. And? Once you get started, get comfortable, you’ll almost always progress to new and different types of workouts.

 

 

Mixed Interval Treadmill Workout

Do you ever get on the treadmill at home or at the gym and throw a towel over the display so that you can’t see how much longer you have to go?

And then you lift the towel and go, “I’ve been on this thing for 3 MINUTES?!”

Yeah. The towel thing doesn’t really work. But, what does work? Is mixing things up with a little interval training.

The great thing about intervals is that you only have to concentrate on one segment of your workout at a time, which means you’re not thinking about how long the workout is, but just how long that interval is.

It’s kind of like tricking your brain into working out.

I’ve got a great interval workout that will make your next treadmill workout fly by. Or, if not flying, maybe walking at a brisk pace?

Give it a try!

30 Minute Mixed Interval Treadmill Workout

Having Trouble Working Out? Maybe You Haven’t Figured Out How Exercise is Valuable In Your Life

The other morning, I rolled out of bed, put on my workout clothes and looked in the mirror where I said, “Let’s crush this workout!”

Okay, not really.

What I actually did was put on my workout clothes and then proceed to NOT actually workout.

We all know the hardest part is putting on the workout clothes…not working out after said task is slightly disgraceful.

It often comes down to motivation, an ugly word. A word that should make the list of the 7 words you can’t say on television (RIP George Carlin).

I actually have some secrets to finding the motivation to exercise and that lies in finding its value in your life.

Yes, exercise can be for weight loss but if that were motivating 100% of the time, we would all follow through with our workouts 100% of the time.

Which many of us don’t.

I actually have 3 relatively painless ways to help you find value in working out every day.

Warning: The workouts themselves may not be painless. But that’s up to you.

3 Ways to Find the Value in Exercise

3 Ways to Find the Value in Exercise

When you look at pretty people at the gym, it’s easy to think they just wake up all motivated to workout.

The truth is, no one really wakes up motivated to get out of bed and exercise. Well, there are probably some people who are, but we don’t like them.

The thing about working out is this:

You have to have a good reason to do it

Think about it. If someone called you right now and said, “I’ll give you a free massage, but you have to come right now!” You would be like, “Sorry I can’t take you to surgery, mom. Something came up.”

But if someone called you and said, “I’ll give you a free personal training session, but you have to come right now!” You would be like, “I’m sorry. My mother always told me never to do personal training on Mondays. Also, never go to a rodeo on June 17th.”

Think of the things you make time for. Anything you do has value.

On the pleasure side of life, you make time for Netflix because – Why do they have so many awesome shows!? Eleven…I love you!

On the more dutiful side of life, you make time for the dentist because you don’t want your teeth to fall out.

You don’t go to the dentist because you like it, unless you’re one of those people who actually do like it, in which case you should go join the people who love to wake up and workout.

All that to say:

What is The Value of Working Out?

You know all the usual stuff – Burning calories, reduced risk of heart disease, more energy, blah blah blah.

But what about what’s valuable to YOU. If you feel pretty healthy, preventing some future medical condition may not be enough to get you moving every day. Plus, how do you measure how much cancer you didn’t get because you exercised?

So, how do you find the value in exercise? I’m glad you asked because I have some tips for finding your own motivation to exercise.

  1. It Can’t Just Be About Weight Loss

One main reason we exercise is to lose weight, but here’s a fact no one really likes to hear: Exercise is NOT great at helping the human body lose weight. It’s just not, at least not by itself. Briefly, here’s why:

  • Exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you think it does – When I workout for an hour on the treadmill, I kind of feel like I killed it. But, depending on the intensity of my workout, I might look at my fitness tracker and see that I burned 320 calories. That’s a good thing but…If I went out right now and had a Vanilla Frappuccino from Starbucks, I would cancel out that workout…and? I would add another 100 calories. Not fair, but true.
  • We overestimate how many calories we burn – There are 2 parts to this point and I’ll go into this in a full-blown article. But briefly:
    • 1. We don’t have a good, solid way to measure how many calories we burn unless we’re in a laboratory setting where they put wires and stuff on you. Also, the calorie counts they give you on cardio machines are a big fat lie. I’d love to think I burned 650 doing 45 minutes on an elliptical trainer. I would also love to wake up and be Oprah. Not going to happen.
    • 2. We don’t count calories correctly – If your tracker says you burned 300 calories, you’re forgetting something: The calories you would have burned if you hadn’t worked out. I know, again…not fair. BUT if you really want to get more accurate, you have to subtract those calories. So if you’d slept for those 30 minutes, you would need to subtract about 40 calories for a 150-lb person. That could be significant.
  • We often don’t work hard enough to reap the benefits of the workout as well as the afterburn. This comes from high intensity interval training, which from its name suggests that a) It’s really hard and b) It’s not something you want to do more than 2 or so times a week.

There are more, but let’s move on to the next tip.

2. It Has to Be Something You Like (or at least don’t hate)

You know what the exercise guidelines say – Cardio 5 or more days a week, strength training 2-3 days a week and flexibility training.

But what if you hate cardio? Or what if there’s something on your body that hurts when you try to lift weights?

First, you email me and I can get you set up with some workouts you can actually do.

But, second, you find something that fits YOU.

Here’s an example: I had a conversation with a client who was frustrated because she’d been trying to workout on her treadmill.

Instead of actually working out, she…well…didn’t.

This is kind of how that conversation went:

Me: “So, what about the workout do you dislike?”
Her: “All of it.”
Me: “Okaaaay….let’s start with the basics. What are you actually doing?”
Her: “Well, it’s one of the workouts I found on your site – like you increase the speed or incline for a minute and then you rest…like that.”
Me: “So is the workout uncomfortable for you?”
Her: “Yes.”
Me: “So is it the incline or the speed that bothers you the most?”
Her: “No, what bothers me the most is the treadmill. I hate it.”

Ahhhhh. Now we’re getting somewhere.

When I informed her that there was no constitutional law requiring her to use a treadmill, she was like, “But, it said in your article that interval training is really good for you and the treadmill is easy to adjust and stuff. And I have one at home and everything.”

My response: “Okay, those are all good things, but maybe we need to step back a bit and forget about the treadmill for a minute. What is it you actually like to do for exercise?”

Her answer? Yoga. “But yoga won’t help me lose weight.”

My response: “How much weight will you lose if you never actually workout?”

Her response: “Um…oh. Well. Yeah. I get that.”

The point is, if you like yoga, start there. If you like taking walks, do that every day.  Is it an hour of intense, lung-burning cardio? No. Will it change the world? Maybe not mine, but it might change yours.

Spend time doing what you enjoy and, eventually you’ll probably want to expand your horizons and try new things. You’re not going to get anywhere if your workouts are miserable.

3. It Has to Fit and It Has to Make Sense

The way most people approach exercise is to try to fit their lives around it. Like, someone told you (maybe me, probably everyone who ever talks about exercise) you have to workout for at least an hour every day.

So you plan on doing that every day, but then you don’t do it. Why?

It could be because you’re doing something you hate (see above). It could also be that it doesn’t fit with your current lifestyle and situation.

If you don’t have an hour, forget trying to workout for an hour. If you hate the gym and it’s nowhere near where you live, you don’t have to go there.

Think about what actually fits with your life. Sit down with your schedule, your to do list, your calendar and ask yourself –

  1. Where can I fit in some exercise?
  2. How can I do my workouts in such a way that my entire life isn’t disrupted?
  3. What would actually make me feel good to accomplish every day?

For example, would a 10-minute workout make you feel good? What about a daily walk after lunch?

What makes sense to YOU. That’s much more important to figure out than to keep scheduling things that don’t work.

With all that in mind, how can you find the value in exercise? How can you make it worth doing? Once you figure that out, the rest gets a little easier.

Need some guidance on getting started or finding the perfect workout for you? That’s what I do for a living. Email me.

(Mostly) Healthy Holiday Cocktails That Won’t Blow Your Diet

Because it’s the holidays, I have to post something about healthy holiday alternatives to the usual calorie-laden fare. I’m pretty sure this is actually part of the Personal Trainer Constitution and I’ll be kicked out if I don’t.

I’ve decided to focus my efforts on the one area I love the most about the holidays:

Drinking.

There’s a lot of drinking this time of year because that’s just what we do.

Booze does a lot of things including helping you relax a little, getting people loosened up so they’re having more fun and, if you don’t overdo it, making things generally more palatable.

Overdoing it is usually where the trouble comes in so I’m going to remind you of the things you already know. Try to hydrate since dehydration is what causes crazed behavior and hangovers.

Now on to the good stuff. Here are 10 cocktails you can enjoy this holiday (almost) guilt-free. I say almost because some of you will feel guilty no matter what. I recommend you save that for January.

  1. Boozy Skinny Hot Chocolate – This one is so simple, even I could make it. Plus, there’s BOOZE in it!
  2. Healthy Hot Toddy – What I love about Hot Toddies is that you don’t only have to drink them at Christmas. As one of my drunken relatives assured me, you should also drink them whenever you have a cold. Bottom’s up!
  3. Port of Call Punch – This is more of a sweet kind of drink if you’re into that. It should lubricate the party pretty quickly.
  4. Lemon Drop – This is one of my favorite cocktails…the lemon gives the vodka a nice tart little kick.
  5. Cherry Whiskey Sour – I’m from the south where they put Jack Daniels in our baby bottles. I’m kidding, of course. They actually just put it right in our baby food.
  6. Pomegranate Rosemary and White Sangria – This one just looks like Christmas.
  7. Gimlet – The ‘Gimlet’ is just a fancy word for a whole bunch of alcohol with a splash of lime. As the writers mention, this cocktail was orginated as a way for sailors to avoid scurvy. Great side benefit!
  8. Rose Champagne Spritzer – Just having the word ‘spritzer’ in the name makes you feel healthy, doesn’t it?
  9. Vodka and Cranberry – This is a classic and, as you probably know, cranberries are rich in antioxidants. See how healthy you are?
  10. Wine – Honestly, this is my favorite one, requiring almost no work at all, unless you have an actual cork that must be removed. Does removing a cork count as exercise? I say it does.

Stay safe this holiday season, y’all.

Cheers!

3-Minute Total Body Relaxation

I know that all these new-fangled electronics are supposed to make life easier, but I think it makes us all just a little bit crazier, too.

How many times do you automatically reach for your phone to check for messages or emails? If I counted how many times my husband does it during one meal out, I would have no time to actually eat.

I am, of course, a perfect angel and I never do such things.

And then there’s all this other stuff – Everything is online so you’re staring at a screen all day and then there are the holidays and everyone is trying to make you buy the ‘perfect gift’ and you fall down that Internet Black Hole where you end up just watching kittens sleep just to save your sanity.

There are plenty of ways to de-stress and I have one that’s so easy, anyone can do it. And you really will feel better after.

3-Minute Total Relaxation

Set a timer for about 3 minutes or, if you have time, just go with the flow…it’s not like it’s a law or anything.

  1. Lie down in a quiet place and close your eyes.
  2. Begin by tensing and contracting your muscles starting with your feet.
  3. Curl your feet and toes, then hold that as you move up and squeeze the calves, then the quads, then the glutes.
  4. Hold the lower body and feet very tight and move up, contracting the abs and then the arms, curling your hands into tight fists.
  5. Keep holding everything tight as you squeeze your shoulders up towards your ears, clench your jaw and squeeze your eyes shut tight.
  6. When everything is tight and tense, hold it for 5 seconds, feeling your muscles start to burn. Then on a long exhale relax everything, letting your muscles melt and your body sink into the floor as the tension drains away. Repeat and continue relaxing and breathing for at least one minute or longer.
Photo by Caley Dimmock on Unsplash

Fitness Gifts That (Hopefully) Don’t Suck

This time of year, there is an infinite number of holiday gift guides out there and I swear I’ve looked at all of them to try and find ideas for the hard-to-buy people in my life (ahem, husband).

And now I have another list to add to the lists. My list has to do with fitness, as you might guess. If you and your loved ones aren’t into that, this is easy…you can move on to more pertinent lists. Otherwise, read on.

One note – Please, please, please don’t give someone a fitness-oriented gift in order to encourage a non-exerciser to exercise. Like, don’t give her a FitBit and say, “Hey, maybe now you’ll lose a few pounds!” She will hurt you.

I could tell you stories about spouses who have hired me to train an un-interested love one. That is not an experience one forgets.

I’ve tried to make sure there’s nothing stupid on this list but, of course, that’s very subjective. Some stuff is expensive, some isn’t. If you have any comments or suggestions, leave one in the box or email me. I’m pretty much always here.

Bose Wireless Headphones

Okay, these are expensive…around $199 which is a lot, I know. I have these and I really, really love them. They offer great sound and they stay in my ears no matter what I’m doing.

What I Love

  • No wires
  • They work even if your phone is in your pocket or in another room
  • The battery life is really long
  • It only takes minutes to charge them
  • If you lose one or both you can find them with the Bose app

These are by far the best headphones I’ve ever used.

Apple Watch

Yes, these things cost 2 arms and a leg, but I love love love mine and it’s great for exercisers or wannabe exercisers. Here are the things I love:

  1. Reminders – It gives you little nudges each day encouraging you to close all of your activity rings. The activity rings go like this: Complete 30 minutes of exercise, burn a certain number of calories (which you set) and stand up at least once per hour for 12 hours. You can change these settings, of course.
  2. Rewards – When you do meet all your goals, your get a visual pat on the back from your watch. I don’t know why, but that makes me feel good.
  3. Heart rate monitor – It also includes a heart rate monitor – I’m not sure how accurate it is and sometimes it’s a little wonky, but I do like not having to where a chest strap.
  4. Tracking activities – You can track tons of activities like walking, running, cycling…pretty much whatever.
  5. ECG Capabilities – Now this is pretty cool and available on the new Series 4 and will be available on the others soon. Basically, you can hold your finger on the side of the digital crown and it will take your ECG reading.  This is actually endorsed by the American Heart Association as well as approved by the FDA.

There are tons of bells and whistles that you can read about, should you be interested. The new series, the series 4, actually includes GPS so you can use your watch without your phone (the other versions require your phone if you want to use the GPS stuff). I have a series 2, which is fine.

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Wireless Headphone

I don’t have these, but I definitely covet them. Why, you ask? It’s because these are bone-conducting headphones. That means they don’t go in your ears, they send the sound directly through your cheekbones…That way, your ears are free to hear what’s going on around you so you don’t get hit by a car, bike, bus, etc.  Pretty cool.

FitBit Smart Watch

Of course, no fitness gift guide is complete without some kind of FitBit – and they have a number of models. The latest one trying to keep up with the Apple Watch and other smart watches is the FitBit Smart Watch.

There are tons of bells and whistles here:

  • Tracks your activity, heart rate and sleep all day
  • Stores more than 300 songs and you can even add Pandora
  • There are 15 exercise modes – like running, swimming, walking, etc.
  • It has GPS
  • You can install some of your favorite apps

There’s more and it costs around $199. I wouldn’t mind this in my stocking…

The Workout Mirror

Okay, so this thing is absolutely the coolest thing and I really want one. It’s a mirror you can hang on your wall…and? It’s also a screen where you can connect with real time workout classes. You can see yourself and you can see the instructor. You can also train live with other members of the mirror community and you can sync a bluetooth heart rate monitor so Mirror can use your biometric data to optimize your workouts.

You won’t be surprised at the price:  $1495. I know. I still want it. And you have to pay a fee to access the workouts, but if you think of how much a gym membership costs, it might be worth it.

Workout Apps and More

One thing you may not have thought about was gifting someone a workout app. Obviously, not everyone will love getting something like this, but here are some great apps out there that offer tons of ways to exercise. Some are free and some offer a subscription service. You can use these on just about any device or hook your device up to your TV and blow it out the old bloomer leg.

  • Pump One Fitness Builder – I’ve been using Fitness Builder for years – They have over 1,000 workouts & 7,000+ fitness images & videos to choose from and if you do the Plus membership (a subscription service) you can access a log to track your measurements, stats and more. They also have a separate app called Fitness Class with tons of workout videos from a wide variety of instructors. I really love this App and use it all the time. Read more about it.
  • Sworkit – This is another great app offering a variety of workouts like yoga, strength training, cardio…you name it and they have it. They have some free workouts, but of course, you can upgrade to the premium app to get even more workouts and access to workout plans. That costs $4.99 a month. It’s really easy to use – You just pick a workout, pick the amount of time you want to exercise and start. There’s no music, so you can use your own and follow along with the instructor.
  • Cathe On Demand – Cathe Friedrich is big in the video fitness world and she has an app with all of her workouts there. There are more than 300 workouts and she also has tons of premixes (where the original workout is mixed and matched for new options). Most of her workouts are geared towards more advanced exercisers, though she does have stuff for intermediate exercisers. This one is more expensive at $19.97 a month, but it’s worth it. I’ve been doing Cathe workouts for going on 20-something years and they are always very high quality.
  • Beach Body – If you’ve heard of P90X, you know who Beach Body is. They have this sort of format they use for a variety of different series. There’s P90X, which is a very advanced program, but then they also have yoga workouts, a kickboxing series and interesting challenges you can try. This isn’t my favorite App – Some of the workouts are repetitive and some of them are just plain old too hard…I get bored easily, but it’s easy to subscribe, give it a try and cancel. It’s $14.99 a month.
  • Aaptiv – I love using this one on my phone because there are a wide variety of workouts – Outdoor running or walking, strength training, treadmill, elliptical…it goes on and on. Most of the cardio workouts include some kind of interval training, but they fit any exerciser with beginner, intermediate or advanced workouts. Different coaches guide you through each workout but my favorite part is the music. They use real music from the original artists, which makes every workout just a little easier. The cost is $9.99 a month.
  • Lazy Jar for FitBits – If you or someone else has a FitBit, you’ll get a kick out of this app. You pick a set of weekly goals, such as walking a certain number of steps and then set a penalty that you have to pay if you don’t meet your goals. That’s a cute idea, but I wonder if I would actually pay up?

I could go on and on, but these are the ones I use the most. Give a shout out if you have one you like and I’ll add it to the list.

Fun Gifts That Aren’t Too Expensive

  • A personalized Yeti – My mother-in-law got one of these last year and she is still talking about it. I’m not kidding.
  • Wine socks – I know, socks are so…so…socky and something my grandmother used to give me. But I got these socks last year and I love them. On the bottom they say, “If you can read this, Bring me a glass of wine.” Has nothing to do with fitness.
  • Funny fitness sweatshirt – This is for the person in your life who, well, isn’t really into fitness and likes to let other people know about it.
  • Yoga dice – If you know someone who loves yoga, this gift is a really cute one. As the name suggests, it’s a little container with dice that have yoga poses on them, so they can roll the dice and make their own workouts.
  • Fitlosophy Fitbook Journal – For the person who keeps track of everything, this is a 12-week goal-setting journal where they can log workouts, meals, and more.

Got any other ideas? Leave a comment and tell us what you’d like to get or give for the holidays.

I Know How to Get You to Workout Over the Holidays…

I know, that’s a bold statement but stay with me.

In my latest article, 2 Reasons Exercise May Just Save Your Sanity, I present to you your very own Fairy Godmother.

I know…you didn’t know you had one, did you? Well, you do and she isn’t anything like you thought. In fact, when you really see what she is, you might think I have betrayed you in the most underhanded way…but I haven’t!

In fact, I’m doing this for your own good. If you really want to get through the holidays and keep your sanity, you’re going to need her.

Just trust me on this.

I have to say I’m very grateful for all of you…Thank you, thank you, thank you! And Happy Thanksgiving.

Learn more about your Fairy Godmother in my new article.

2 Reasons You HAVE to Exercise During the Holidays

When it comes to the holidays, there are no shortage of tips for staying healthy and keeping up with your workouts. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Sign up for a holiday-themed race!
  • Make it a group activity and have your family join you at the gym!
  • Go outside and rake leaves or shovel snow!

These tips go on and on and though well-intentioned, they’ve never worked for me.

Yes, it sounds great to run a 5K on Thanksgiving, but…wait, no it doesn’t. It sounds as much fun as, well, running 5 kilometers on what will likely be a cold, wet, miserable November day (unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere warm).

Make it a group activity? Really? Spending even more time with the family you can’t get away from? And you have to go to a gym? Why???

Rake leaves? Shovel snow? Again….why?? Is this a holiday or a punishment?

2 Reasons Exercise Will Save Your Life Over the Holidays

All that advice is all well and good but, for most of us, our time will be jammed with travel, cooking, socializing, dodging a variety of bullets (for example, your grandmother who will likely bring up how fat you’ve gotten or the fact that you haven’t gotten married yet), eating, drinking and just generally trying to get through it without totally losing your mind.

BUT–I know how to help you. Yes, I’m going to talk about exercise, but think of exercise as your Fairy Godmother (FGM). Your FGM is there to help you keep your sanity. Here are 2 things exercise can give you that nothing else can.

  1. Escape

What causes the most stress over the holidays? Family. You love them, well most of them, and you’re thankful for them, but there is no one on earth who knows you as well as they do. And that means they know all the buttons to push.

Some of these types of comments may sound familiar if you’re around the button-pushers:

“Well, it’s not like that time you forgot to pick me up at school and I sat there for 3 hours.”

“Really? You’re going to bring up the time I held you down in front of your friends and tickled you until you peed in your pants? Get some therapy.”

“So, I thought you joined a gym. I guess you haven’t been in awhile?”

In point of fact, I have actually heard these things uttered.

The point is, nothing is better than escaping those button-pushers, even for just a little while. It doesn’t matter what you do…your FGM doesn’t care.

Go to the gym, go for a walk, go do pushups in the yard. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do it. It’s the only time you’re going to get to yourself and if you play your cards right, your family will approve. Some ideas to ditch them:

  • Just leave – This is the simplest choice because it requires nothing of you. You simply leave – out the front, out the back, whatever works. I’m pretty sure my dad did this every year while we all looked on in envy. Try it: Go for a quick walk or jog and if they ask where you’ve been when you get back, say, “Did someone move my wine glass?”
  • Do it there – Find an empty room and do some bodyweight exercises while blasting music through your headphones. Here’s a Quick Fix Holiday Body Weight Workout you can do anywhere.
  • Lie – Say you’re running to the store to pick something up and head to the park for a walk or go to the gym. Or just go to a bar…but before you go in, walk at least 5 laps around the building.

2. Sanity

So, exercise can give you a way to escape and it can also save you from sitting in a corner sobbing quietly while drinking straight from a bottle of Jack Daniels (not that I’ve ever done that…).

Think about what happens around your family, all the button-pushing and the rush to get food on the table? What happens to your body?

It enters the Panic Zone. Your blood pressure goes up and your body releases that lovely stress hormone, cortisol.

Do you know what cortisol does in regular doses? It causes your body to hoard fat. Guess where that fat goes? Your belly.

Not only is your body on red alert, but you’re no longer in control of how you respond to the button-pushers.

Responding to your mother-in-law’s comment that, “well, I wouldn’t cook it that way but I’m sure you know what you’re doing,” with a backhanded slap, for example, could very well happen if you’re out of control.

Your Fairy Godmother can help. If you just get out there and get a little exercise, you’ll calm down.

Your body will work off that extra tension, your anxiety levels will decrease and you’ll be able to think of better responses to your mother-in-law. Like:

“Thanks so much, Mommie Dearest! You know, I do know what I’m doing and I’m so pleased to have that confirmed.” You can add a silent ‘bitch’ in your mind if you like.

It may seem impossible to exercise during the holidays, but think of it less like something you have to do to burn calories or keep your weight in check, but more as a necessity to keep you from 1st-degree murder.

Now that’s motivation.

Low Impact Exercise of the Week: Goblet Squat with Rotation

We often think that the only way to get the heart rate up is with high impact exercises – Jumping jacks, jump roping, squat jumps, etc. Those are great exercises, but not everyone’s joints are thrilled with all that pounding, making it tough to find moves that really challenge you.

The good news is, there are plenty of high intensity, challenging exercises that will really get your heart rate going and this goblet squat with a rotation is one of them. The squat, of course, targets the hips, glutes and thighs, but where the intensity comes in is where you press up, rotating to one side and taking the weight overhead.

The exercise is shown using a kettlebell, but a dumbbell works just as well. To keep the move safe, make sure you send the hips back as you squat, keep the weight close to the body and pivot on the feet as you rotate to protect the knees.

Do it right: Hold a dumbbell or a kettlebell by the horns at your chest and lower into a squat, going as low as you can and bringing the elbows towards the inside of the thighs. As you stand up, take the weight overhead and rotate to the right, pivoting on both feet. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps, alternating sides.

Rest and Recovery – Why Your Body Needs to Rest Sometimes

You know you’re supposed to exercise most days of the week in some form or fashion, but one of the more confusing aspects of working out is what about rest days? How many rest days should you take and what does ‘resting’ mean? No, it’s not couching it all day…sorry.

What Is a Rest Day?

The first thing you should know about rest days is that they are really, really important. Yes, the workouts are where you burn the calories and lift the weights and do all the work you need to change your body. But the rest days? That’s where the behind-the-scenes work happens.

In fact, the rest days, those days when you recover from you workouts, are when your body makes the most progress. Exercise is kind of like stress to your body, but in a good way.

You need to put that stress on your body if you want to lose weight and get fit. But, your body needs time to adapt to that stress and that’s where your rest days come in. This is the time your body rebuilds muscles, bones, nerves and connective tissue.

It’s also a great mental break as well, especially if you tend to work out every single day.

Okay, you now have permission to take rest days, but what exactly do you do?

Rest vs. Active Rest

Believe it or not, there are different ways to rest and you’ll choose one or the other based on how you feel and the workouts you’ve done.

Rest

An exercise rest day doesn’t necessarily mean lying motionless for hours while watching Netflix (although there is a time and place for binge-watching, in my opinion). It just means that you’re not doing any structured exercise, but you’re still moving around. Moving around increases circulation which helps your body recover and grow stronger and fitter.

Moving around increases circulation which helps your body recover and grow stronger and fitter.

On a rest day you might do small things throughout the day just to stay moving, like:

  • Take the stairs
  • Set an alarm to stand up every hour
  • Take a few leisurely walks
  • Walk your dog or play with him/her in the yard
  • Do some grocery shopping

When to Take a Rest Day

So, how do you know if you need a rest day? That’s pretty easy – If you really feel like you need it. I would recommend a rest day if:

  • You’re really sore – Some stiffness and soreness is normal, but if you can barely move, you may need several days off
  • You’re exhausted – Sometimes rest is better than exercise when you’re really tired
  • You’re not feeling great – A rest day is what you need if you don’t feel good or maybe you’re coming down with a cold
  • You just need a break – Sometimes your mind needs a break more than your body, which is fine as long as you don’t take too many days off

Active Rest

Now, active rest is a little different. As the name suggests, it’s not as leisurely as a rest day, but nor is it as intense as a workout day.

Here are some ideas for what to do on an active rest day:

  • Take several brisk walks throughout the day
  • Do some stretching or yoga
  • Do some light cardio
  • Do something physical – Cut the grass, rake leaves, wash the car, wash my car, etc.

What You Need an Active Rest

An active rest day is a great option if your body (or mind) needs a break, but you still have enough energy to do something more than just puttering around. The more you can move around, the better.

How Much is Too Much

Of course, there’s a small window there that, if you take too many days off, it’s like you’re starting all over. If you’re very sore, try active rest days until you’re not sore anymore. Beyond that, here’s what happens when you take a

  • In 3 weeks, you lose about 5-10% of your aerobic power – it takes about 2 months to completely lose all gains, so you’ve got some wiggle room
  • Muscular strength and endurance lasts longer than aerobic fitness. Muscles retain a memory of exercises for weeks or even months, but if you take more than a week off, you’ll probably experience some soreness when you get back to your workouts

The bottom line? There’s no right answer to how much rest you need since we’re all different. You may need to experiment but the best thing you can do is pay attention to your body and what it’s telling you.

Perceived Exertion Scale – How to Monitor Your Exercise Intensity

Monitoring Your Intensity with Perceived Exertion

The rate of perceived exertion or RPE is a subjective tool for keeping track of how hard you’re working. During your workouts, think about how you feel and match it to one of the levels listed below to monitor your workout intensity. The general guidelines:

  • Level 3-5: Warm up Warm ups will be between Level 3-5
  • Level 5-8: Getting into your target heart rate zone during cardio
  • Levels 9-10: More advanced activities like high intensity interval training, climbing Mount Everest or sprinting from a rabid dog

Your perceived exertion, or your RPE, refers to how hard an exercise feels. For my workouts, I like to use a 1-10 scale like this one:

Perceived Exertion Chart

Level 1 – I’m lounging around watching TV and feeling great.

Level 2 – I just got up and got myself a glass of wine. Now I feel even better.

Level 3 – I’m taking a leisurely stroll and could probably do this all day, especially if I had more wine.

Level 4 – I’m moving faster now and am starting to sweat. This is starting to feel suspiciously like exercise.

Level 5 – Now I know I’m exercising, but I’m only a little out of my comfort zone. I can still talk.

Level 6 – I’m working harder now and can still talk, but it’s getting harder. I could use that wine right about now.

Level 7 – Okay, now I’m breathing harder and I can talk, but only in very short sentences.

Level 8 – I’m working really hard and can only stay at this level for a short time. No way can I talk.

Level 9 – Gun to head? I could talk. I think I might be dying.

Level 10 – I am dead.

Can You Trust Yourself?

The exercise/healthy eating/weight loss process would be so much easier if it weren’t for one thing: The fact that we often don’t trust ourselves.

It’s a cliche that trust is the most important thing in a relationship, but, when it comes to your relationship with weight loss, with changing how you live, it’s probably the most important thing.

You have to trust that you’ll make all the right choices today – Do the workout you planned, eat the salad you brought to work, take that walk after work, skip dessert.

There are a couple of problems with this:

  1. We give ourselves too many choices to make. It’s one thing to workout and make some healthy choices when you eat. It’s another to give yourself so many choices that, by the 3rd or 4th one, you’re tired and you kind of don’t care anymore. Overhauling your entire life, all your habits in one day is just way too hard.
  2. We lie about the choices we’ll make. We say we’re going to do this thing or that thing and, when the time comes, we realize it’s harder than we thought it would be.

Here’s an example of a lie I tell myself all the time: I wake up and decide to skip my workout because I’m tired. I then promise myself I’ll workout later.

Now, there are times I really do workout later. But most of the time, if I’m tired enough to skip my morning workout, I’m not going to feel any more energized later in the day.

I know this and yet, despite that knowledge, I make a promise I know I’m not going to keep. I may have made myself feel less guilty in the moment, but I’m going to feel worse later when I skip that workout.

That seems stupid, yet we do it all the time, often without even realizing it.

Constantly failing to meet our own expectations, to keep our own promises starts to erode that trust we have with ourselves and it’s not because we’re too weak to meet those expectations or keep those promises, it’s because we haven’t been honest with ourselves about what we’ll actually do.

Learning to trust yourself is one of the hardest parts of weight loss, but the cure for that is surprisingly simple…not easy, mind you, but simple: Telling yourself the truth.

Recognizing your own lies can be harder than you think. They’re often so automatic, so ingrained, we don’t even realize they’re lies at all. All we really recognize is the constant cycle of guilt we feel for not meeting expectations. Some common pitfalls:

  • Waiting for the perfect time to exercise – This is when you promise you’ll start working out after school gets out/when you get back from vacation/on Monday/when Jupiter aligns with Mars. ‘As soon as’ is a great excuse for not doing something right now, isn’t it? Once you recognize you’re doing this, it’s an easy fix: Do it right now. Just be honest and ask yourself if there’s something you could do to exercise today, even if it’s just a 5-minute walk, standing up and doing 10 squats or just stretching.
  • Telling yourself you’ll eat healthier…tomorrow – Have you ever done this thing where you eat more than you normally would under the auspice of starting a diet the next day? But what happens the next day? It’s not any easier to start that diet, is it? You’ll never really be ‘ready’ to start eating tree bark and lemon wedges. This is where changing your perspective comes in. Instead of believing that healthy eating is about giving up everything you love, ask yourself if there’s one way you could make your eating healthy today. Could you have an apple? Drink more water? Eat some extra veggies? If that’s all you have to do, you’ll do it. And if you do it today, you can do it tomorrow and the next day and, suddenly you have a string of days where you’re doing something healthier than you were before.

Those are just a couple of ways we may lie to ourselves, but what about you? Are there lies you tell yourself that keep you stuck where you are? Do you ever make promises you know you won’t keep? What would happen if you told yourself the truth and rebuilt that trust in yourself?

What to Do When You Don’t Feel Like Exercising

We all have days when we don’t feel like exercising. Maybe some of us feel like that every single day, but if we lived life solely by how we feel, would we ever get anything done?

For example, what I really feel like doing right now is sitting in a hammock reading a book while a lovely shirtless man fans me with palm fronds and feeds me peeled grapes.

I don’t happen to have a hammock, palm fronds, or a shirtless man (well, except my husband and he’s at work, presumably wearing a shirt). Even if I did, I would still have to do what I have to do every day. And that includes exercise.

Part of what drives us to exercise has to do with habit, but making exercise a habit is hard. It’s just plain old hard to create a habit where you’re doing something that, at least initially, is uncomfortable. It’s not comfortable to move your body in a rhythmic fashion or lift weights up and down if your body isn’t used to it.

So, because we know it’s probably going to be uncomfortable, we might say this to ourselves: “I’ll just do it tomorrow!” Because tomorrow you’ll feel like it, right?

Nope. Doesn’t work that way.

So, let’s deal with the ‘I don’t feel like it’ problem. What do you do when you’re about as motivated to exercise as you would be to get your gums scraped?

Short answer: You do it anyway.

Longer answer: Negotiate with yourself. It’s like getting your dog to come to you. If you say, “Come!” she probably just stares at you like, why the hell would I do that? But if you have a treat in your hand? Now you’re talking.

Getting yourself to exercise starts with my number one rule of exercise:

Never tolerate being miserable.

With that in mind, here are some ideas for you.

Getting Yourself to Exercise

1. Do Something Fun. Sometimes a workout seems like one more obligation on top of all the other responsibilities we have. When it starts to feel like drudgery, breaking the routine can be just what you need to remember the simple joy of moving your body for no other purpose than to have fun. Rather than do the same old workout or, on the other hand, nothing at all, just move around. Put on some music and dance or power up the Wii. Play fetch with the dog or just wander around the neighborhood and look into people’s windows (okay, don’t do that – that’s stalking). Go out and toss a tennis ball against the garage door. Just mess around.

2. Do Something Easy. Easy exercise is one thing many veteran exercisers simply don’t allow. We know we have to work hard if we want to maintain our weight and stay strong and fit. But, if you’re having one of those ho-hum kind of days, an easy workout may be just what the doctor ordered. Instead of worrying about burning muscles or getting your heart rate up, take a slow walk or go for a bike ride. Get out your mat and do some stretching. Easy days are great recovery for the mind and body.

3. Give Yourself a Reward. This is by far my favorite negotiation tool. Promise yourself something you really like – Reading a book in a hammock, for example, or a glass of wine while you play iPad games. Give yourself some guilt-free pleasure in exchange for moving your body.

4. Do Something Simple. When you’re low on motivation, even the idea of changing your clothes sounds like a lot of work. Instead of doing something complicated, try a simple workout that doesn’t even require you to change your clothes. This Feel Good Workout is perfect on days like this. You’re basically sitting in a chair stretching. Simple, right?

5. Take a Fitness Test. Another interesting thing to do when you don’t feel like the same old workout is to take yourself through a little fitness test. You’ll get in a workout while seeing just how strong and fast you really are. Here’s a sample:

  • Run or walk 1 mile as fast as you can
  • Do as many as you can of the following exercises:
    • Squats
    • Lunges
    • Pushups
    • Dips
    • Crunches

Keep track of how you did and keep it handy for the next time so you can see how far you’ve come. End the workout with a relaxing stretch.

6. Play Hookey. This is probably my favorite thing to do when I don’t feel like exercising. If you’re worried about getting off track with your routine, you may want to do some type of exercise…but if you know you can get right back to it tomorrow, why not savor an extra day off? Use your workout time to do something you never have time for – read a book, take a bath, take a nap, pet your cat or just stare out the window. Taking an extra day off can energize you for your next workout.

Being unmotivated doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. You just need to give yourself the right incentive and that will change from one day to the next. Give yourself permission to NOT feel like exercising…and then go do something anyway.

How to Look More Fit Than You Are

As a personal trainer, I spend a lot of time telling people how to get fit which, at its simplest, involves exercise. But what if you just want to look like you’re in shape?

I know what you’re thinking…that is so much better than actually exercising, right? I’m not saying you shouldn’t workout because you know you should.

But if you’re not, here’s how to look like you are.

10 Ways to Look More Fit Than You Actually Are

  1. When you’re taking a walk and you see someone in the distance, speed up. Do that crazy speedwalk posture where you swing your arms wildly. As you pass the person, say brightly, “On mile 6! Isn’t it a gorgeous day?!” After you’ve passed them, slow back down to your snail’s pace.
  2. Get up in the morning and put on your workout clothes. When your spouse/loved one/whoever comes in, start a vigorous stretching routine. Say, “Just getting ready for my usual 10-miler!” Ignore their incredulous look and, after they leave, sit down and play some Candy Crush.
  3. At dinner with friends, say “I did my 10 miles this morning…you can’t believe how awesome it was! I think I deserve some pizza. With vegetables on it, of course. Oh, heck…I’ll just go for the meat lover’s.”
  4. Walk around in your workout clothes all day. Wait, nevermind. Everyone already does that one.
  5. Go to the gym and change into workout clothes. Make a circuit of the gym, stopping at various machines to read the directions. Go back to the locker room and put on your bathing suit. Spend the next 15 minutes soaking in the hot tub, telling everyone, “Wow, that workout kicked my ass! I won’t even be able to walk tomorrow.”
  6. At lunch with coworkers, look at each person’s meal and estimate how many calories they’re eating in a condescending tone. Then launch into a rambling discussion of post-workout supplements and protein shakes.
  7. Go outside in the morning in your workout clothes. When your neighbor comes out, start stretching and jogging in place. “Can’t wait to get started on my workout!” When he waves and gives you dirty look, jog around the corner, go in the back door and play some Candy Crush.
  8. Fill your opaque water bottle with wine and go for a walk. When you pass people toast them with your bottle and say, “Cheers! Hope you’re staying hydrated!”
  9. Look up some obscure fact about exercise and walk around telling everyone about it. For example, “Did you know that people who exercise for just 15 minutes per day have a 14% lower mortality risk than those who don’t exercise?”
  10. Order a vodka and tonic at dinner and pretend it’s water. Look down your nose at your friends. Say, “I never drink during the week! It totally ruins my workouts.”

Got any other ideas? Leave a comment!

What is High Intensity Interval Training and Why Should You Care?

If you pay any kind of attention to fitness and exercise, you’ve probably heard of high intensity interval training. In fact, HIIT is about the hottest ticket in the fitness world because there are so many benefits like:

    • You get in shape faster  — Studies have shown that you can build endurance more quickly with interval training than you can with steady state cardio.
    • Everything else gets easier – This kind of workout actually teaches your heart to pump more blood to your muscles. At the same time, it also teaches your muscles how to extract oxygen from that blood more efficiently. That means all the other stuff you do, exercise and just daily movement, gets easier because your body is trained to respond faster.
    • Shorter workouts — Because you’re working at a high intensity for short periods of time, your workouts will typically be shorter, a good thing if you’re busy or just don’t want to workout that long. In fact, one study concluded that HIIT can improve your health enough that inactive women who don’t want to spend a lot of time exercising can still achieve fitness with these kinds of workouts.
    • More fun – So, ‘fun’ may be a strong word to use with exercise, but interval training does tend to be more enjoyable than other workouts. Why? Because there’s some variety. You’re not just getting on a machine and going nowhere. You’re changing your settings or maybe even your exercises, making the workout feel shorter.
    • More weight loss – If you work hard, your body burns more fat and you get that afterburn, the calories your body expends after the workout to get your body back to its pre-exercise state.

Now, The Drawbacks

Of course, interval training isn’t perfect and it isn’t for everyone. Because it involves high intensity there are some things to consider:

  • You’re a beginner, overweight and/or have joint problems – If you look at a typical interval workout, it usually involves a lot of jumping and working really hard. If you’re a long-time exerciser, fine. But if not, beginners may be wary of this kind of training. Studies have shown that the right kind of HIIT can be done by overweight people or even people with diabetes or other conditions. The key is to start with lower intensity exercises and gradually increase the intensity (don’t worry, I have a workout for you).
  • It’s hard – It’s hard to work hard and not everyone likes the feeling of working hard. It’s uncomfortable, right? But, like I said, you’re not working uncomfortably hard right out of the gate if you’re a beginner. Don’t forget that.
  • It can cause injury – If you do it too much or do the exercises wrong, you can put your body at risk for injury. Of course, walking across your kitchen can cause injury, too, so there you go. At least in my house with a dog roughly the size of a pony and two cats.

With all that said, what’s the bottom line here? What I’m suggesting is that you try interval training at least once a week if you’re not already doing it…even if you’re a beginner.

That said, here’s the bottom line – If you’ve never done HIIT before, you need to start slow and easy. That means your high intensity intervals will keep you just out of your comfort zone – Like a Level 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is sitting on the couch eating bonbons and 10 is a breathless, death-like feeling.

Getting Started

If I’ve convinced you to give it a try, good because I have and idea for getting you started and here it is:

Tabata Training

Yes, that’s a thing.

I really like doing this kind of HIIT training with my clients, especially beginners because it moves quickly and it doesn’t feel as miserable as other cardio workouts.

Here’s the deal: Years ago Dr. Izumi Tabata, a professor in Japan wanted to help the Japanese speed skating team improve their performance.

So he did a study where he took participants through a 4-minute workout. The exercisers were on a stationary bike and they did 20 seconds of all-out sprints followed by 10 seconds of rest. They repeated that 8 times for 4 minutes.

They found that the skaters did much better with that kind of training than other types of cardio.

You’re probably not a speed skater, so what do this have to do with you? Well, like everything in life, when a study comes out about some new whoopy-zing workout, fitness professionals realize they have a new way to torture..er..inspire their clients in new and exciting ways.

Should You Tabata and, If So, How?

Yes, I think you should Tabata and I’m going to tell you how to do it.

As I mentioned before, this is a HIIT workout and, in the original study the exercisers did all-out sprints.

You don’t have to do that, nor should you if you’re new to this kind of training. If you’re a pro, go for it.

The Basics

Okay, so here’s what you need to do for a Tabata Workout:

  • Warm up thoroughly
  • Do an exercise working as hard as you can for 20 seconds. Now, that is as hard as you can work – That may mean an all out sprint or marching in place. Maybe it’s even just doing some arm circles – Whatever feels like a bit of a challenge.
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Repeat that exercise (or a different one) 8 more times.
  • If you’re good with that length of workout, stop there. Otherwise, pick another exercise and do another Tabata. A typical Tabata workout might last from 10 minutes (including the warm up) to 45 or more minutes depending on your fitness level and how hard you’re working.

Here Are Some Ideas

  1. Tabata Outside – If you’re walking or running, warm up and then speed up as fast as you can for 20 seconds, resting for 10 and then repeat that for 4 minutes. Take 1 or 2 minutes to recover and then repeat as many times as you like.
  2. At the Gym – You can also do Tabata training on any cardio machine. Just speed up or increase the incline or resistance for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat 8 times.
  3. At Home – My favorite way of doing Tabata at home is to choose 4 exercises. For high impact, you can choose things like jumping jacks, jogging with high knees, burpees, and jumping lunges. For low impact, think about step touches, knee lifts, marching in place and hamstring curls. Do each one for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat for 4 minutes. Then choose 4 more exercises or keep doing the same ones for about 15-30 minutes. Here are some to try:
    1. Beginner Tabata Workout – PDF
    2. Advanced Tabata Workout – PDF
    3. Tabata Video Workouts

Believe it or not, the workout seems to move much faster when you workout like this. You’re only focused on that 20 seconds of work rather than a big chunk of exercise that may seem a little overwhelming.

Some Tips

  • Always warm up – always, always, always. Give yourself at least 5 minutes of cardio before doing anything high intensity.
  • Check yourself – Because your rests are shorter than the work sets, the intensity accumulates throughout the 4 minutes. So, if you’re doing it right, you should be pretty breathless (or at least working hard) by the end of the Tabata. Give yourself a little time to recover and see how you feel.
  • Use a Tabata Timer – Trying to watch a clock for 20 seconds is a big pain in the rear. If you have a smartphone or tablet, try using a Tabata timer. I like the Tabata Pro Timer.
  • Work at your own level of intensity – You want the intervals to feel challenging, but not so awful that you never want to workout again. If you practice, you’ll be able to do more over time.
  • Try 1-2 Workouts a Week – Too much HIIT can cause burnout and overtraining, so you don’t want to overdo it. Mix it up so that you have a little bit of everything, like some steady state cardio, some weight training, etc.

Got a question? Email me and we’ll work it out.

Sources:

ACE – Certified: June 2017 – How to Safely and Effectively Use HIIT With Clients Struggling With Obesity. ACE Fitness. /certifiedarticle/6406/how-to-safely-and-effectively-use-hiit-with. Accessed June 19, 2017.

Ghodsi Z, Nasrin, Zolfaghari MR, Fattah A. The Impact of High Intensity Interval Training On Lipid Profile, Inflammatory Markers and Anthropometric Parameters in Inactive Women. Medical Laboratory Journal. 2016;10(1):56-60. doi:10.18869/acadpub.mlj.10.1.56.

Trapp EG, Chisholm DJ, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. Int J Obes. 2008;32(4):684-691. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803781.