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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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!
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
What dietary advice have I given my clients 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:
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.
First, let’s just get this out of the way.
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:
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 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?
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:
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.
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:
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.
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 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:
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.
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 YOURPERFECT 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 asense 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!
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:
Portion sizes are too big
We eat too much processed crap
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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!
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!
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
Cooked uncured bacon
Fruit (apples and berries are great additions)
Fresh grilled chicken
Almonds, pecans or walnuts
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?
Here’s a chopped salad you’re going to love. You can totally meal-prep this one:
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?
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
‘Mindset’ is another word that kind of makes me wince a little but, in a nutshell, habits come down to one thing.
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?
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stair Rail Pushups
Hands and Knees
Begin with 5-10 minutes of cardio to warm up the muscles
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.
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.
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.
Push up to a straight arm position.
Continue doing as many pushups as you can with good form at a consistent pace.
Stop the test when you’re straining or if your form is slipping.
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
American College of Sports Medicine. (2006). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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 intoa 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.
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).
Pet something soft and furry (an animal…get your mind out of the gutter).
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.
Put on your favorite song and sing it at the top of your lungs.
Sit quietly, close your eyes and picture your favorite place in the world.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
Use a good playlist with a beat you can walk to. Here’s a Walking Playlist you can try on Spotify.
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:
Lack of information
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are all kinds of diet trends out there – Low carb, the Keto diet, the Mediterranean diet – but the latest trend?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
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
Get stressed out – If you need help with that, I want to be you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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.
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!
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.
Lemon Drop – This is one of my favorite cocktails…the lemon gives the vodka a nice tart little kick.
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.
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!
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.
Lie down in a quiet place and close your eyes.
Begin by tensing and contracting your muscles starting with your feet.
Curl your feet and toes, then hold that as you move up and squeeze the calves, then the quads, then the glutes.
Hold the lower body and feet very tight and move up, contracting the abs and then the arms, curling your hands into tight fists.
Keep holding everything tight as you squeeze your shoulders up towards your ears, clench your jaw and squeeze your eyes shut tight.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Tracking activities – You can track tons of activities like walking, running, cycling…pretty much whatever.
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.
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.
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…
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…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.
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.