Category: Blog

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.

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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.

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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
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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?

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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?

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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.

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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

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

👎🤷‍♀️😵💩

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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

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(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!

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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