Today I decided I’m going to get personal and share something I’ve been struggling with and have been scared to write about. My hope is that I can reach someone going through the same thing and give them hope and encouragement just like I received from a friend who was vulnerable and brave enough to share with others. The selfish part of this is to help me get through it and not feel like I have to put on a fake presentation for people with hope that they may have a little more understanding for what’s going on. So here it goes…(deep breath)
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I’ve been thinking about what keeps us from reaching our goals. Part of my day to day job as a trainer that I love is taking a look into my clients lives and figuring out together how to better reach their goals & create a healthy lifestyle they can maintain. With lots of contemplating and discussing, I’ve decided that one of the biggest stumbling blocks are the unhealthy habits that have become a part of our lives that we may not even recognize as habits.
Let me shed some light on what I’m talking about. Maybe you always set your alarm for 30 minutes before you have to leave out the door, therefore leaving you with no time to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. Maybe you always put the chips in the most convenient cupboard so you know exactly where to go when the salty craving hits. Or you always go with a friend to the gym who just wants to chat the whole time so you never really get the workout you want, haha gotta love those chatty friends! It could even be just going to the same grocery store you always go to, and walking the same route you always do, which conveniently leads you right to the ice-cream isle or the dang Oreo section! Then we buy them, and then we have to eat them.
The point is that these un-healthy habits are the things we do throughout our daily/weekly routines without even realizing we’re doing them. We’re probably looking beyond the mark with what we think we need to change to reach our health and fitness goals, when it could actually just be simple and right in front of us.
My suggestion for breaking through this road block is CHANGING THINGS UP. Shake up your routine. I’m going to give you 3 suggestions that I’ve given to my clients to help detach from those un-healthy habits keeping us from our goals.
Ok but first things first, let’s define a habit: it’s a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. Dig deep and think of an un-healthy habit that is part of your life right now. If you think of how to get rid of a bad habit, doesn’t it make sense to change your routine! This brings us to my first suggestion.
Change up your daily routine. Shuffle things around. Get creative and go crazy with this. If late night snacking is your issue, change up your entire nightly routine. This could be saving your plate of dinner until after your kids are asleep so that you have it ready to eat instead of your snacking habit. By shuffling your routine a bit, you’ll have no time to snack on the bad stuff! If a good nights rest is your struggle, maybe try sleeping on the opposite side of your bed away from where your phone is plugged in so you get a better sleep. Totally guilty of this! Maybe it’s going to the grocery store in the morning instead of the end of the day when you’re tired and hungry. Or if those tempting drive throughs get ya, try even changing the route home you take so that you don’t have to pass all those luring signs. Small rituals we have may trigger bigger behaviors, so best to just mix it all up!
Out with the bad and in with the good. When you get rid of something in your life, it makes sense to replace it with something better right? This step is in hopes of avoiding the empty hole that can be left when we remove something that’s been a habit. Say you want to stop drinking soda. Well you’re still going to reach for that can of soda habitually unless you have something else to replace it with. Try a La Croix drink or some sort of sparkling water to get you that same fizzy goodness.
Learn to control what you can, and deal with the rest. There’s a sense of power that comes from being in control of our lives and decisions, rather than letting life just happen to you. Sometimes things our legitimately out of our hands, and the important thing is to do our best at bouncing back. However, I argue that In any situation we have some aspect that we can control. Even if it’s just our mindset, we have control over that. You may not be able to have control over your crazy Tuesday schedule of carpooling kids back and forth and them screaming in the back seat because they’re hungry after soccer practice, but you do have control over prepping some healthy snacks for you and the crew in the car to have amidst all the chaos. You may not have control over where your family chooses to go out to dinner, but you do have control over making an educated healthy choice off the menu (avoiding a sugary drink, getting your meat grilled, not eating the whole bread basket, etc.) Flexibility is key here as well. Don’t forget to live life. If a friend brings you her homemade banana bread, you say thank you and enjoy it. Then you just bounce right back into your healthy routine.
A final thought is to be patient with yourself. If you think about it, habits aren’t created overnight, good or bad. If you’ve been doing something a certain way for 15+ years, that behavior isn’t going to just change over night. These adjustments take time. All that matters is that you’re moving in the right direction. Even if you take 3 steps forward and a couple steps back, you’re still better than you were when you started!
Reaching your fitness goals 1 healthy habit at a time
The last few months, my husband and I have been doing a lot of financial research, getting our spending and saving in order, and setting long term financial goals. Working towards financial independence can be a long road, so the sooner you start the better, and consistency is key! So naturally my mind went directly to create a health and fitness metaphor, duh. I received the inspiration while listening to a podcast where compounding interest was mentioned. It had me thinking, it’s the little daily things that we do over a long period of time, for a life time, that lead to our healthiest selves. Just like compounding interest with money, small, daily, healthy habits will build up over time and result in big results, big change that we may not see through the process.
When it comes to health and fitness, a lot of the time we over complicate it, or think it has to be this big change, this big diet, extreme exercise program, a magic juice cleanse, and with this big change we want big results. Either that or we underestimate the power of consistency. To some of us, the big change or the extreme plan may seem easier. Ripping the bandaid off, rather than the slow and steady, daily persistence of small and simple healthy habits. If we don’t meet our goals in a certain amount of time than we become disappointed and quit (similar to not seeing your money grow, and pulling it out prematurely).
We live in a time of instant feedback, we want to see results now! But that’s not how compound interest works. We put in a little bit at a time, consistently, and over time that money grows. Not only does it grow, but it begins to grow at an increasing rate. Can you see the correlation here? Just like with saving money & being financially healthy, with our physical health, the sooner we start the better! And the trick is to never stop, just keep on chugging along. Where we start is different for all of us. Our goals need to be maintainable and realistic for us. As we start where we’re at, creating daily habits towards a healthier lifestyle, we will start to experience benefits to our health, and our fitness will improve. As with compound interest, the results may not be noticeable right away. This is where patience and consistency come in. Building a stable healthy habit foundation that we’re solid with will be key for the long term. Over time we build up our will-power, our cravings and pallets adjust, and we can become better in tune with determining hunger, satiety, and body awareness.
It’s easy to get a little distracted with all the “get rich quick” schemes out there, or in the health world all the fad diets and quick fixes. This is why I recommend baby steps with all of my clients! You wouldn’t dump every single penny you own into an investment account right? But a few dollars out of each pay check isn’t so bad. You catchin my drift?
So to put this into play, here’s a little continuum for healthy habits I came up with. Check it out and see where you’re at right now. From where you are, figure out the next little step towards a healthier you would be. Don’t think you have to be making all these crazy health concoctions you see posted on instagram if you’re still working on your water intake. You do you. Keep it simple. Before you know it, you’ll be living a long healthy life. A lifestyle that’s maintainable and that you love living!
My whole purpose with this blog post is to help shift your mindset from viewing health & fitness as this extreme program - workout every day, meal prep every meal, avoiding all indulgences, and meditate for an hour each day in a rose garden with an ocean view - to a more realistic view that it's a lifestyle, and the fact is that life is not perfect. The other fact is that what's healthy and working for one person may not be the right path or plan for someone else. We all have our own busy schedules, our own family situations, and our bodies are very different. READ MORE, click on title :)
Here's a video on my thoughts about Excess sugar in our diets, and a little intro to my Spring Clean your Eating program coming up! (Sorry for all the UMMS and lack of eye contact haha)
Something that I hear a lot of from clients is that they seem to hit a plateau on their weight loss journey. They’ve lost some weight but are now stuck and can’t seem to lose the last 10-15 pounds to reach their goal. Or someone that has always been overweight and it seems to be just a natural state for their body. There’s some truth to this. Our bodies, all unique, have a certain size and weight where our we seem to reach homeostasis, when levels in our body our at equilibrium. Our body feels comfortable here. This explains why some people can gain weight and without changing anything the weight gain just seems to stop or slow down. For others it may take a lot longer. Anyways, the focus for today is providing you with some tips that will help you get over that plateau, or that wall, when your weight loss momentum seems to come to a halt. Now, keep in mind that some of us just aren’t meant to be at a lower weight or body size, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change our body composition (adding lean muscle mass, and losing body fat). We have to figure that out over time. For me, I’ve found where a good healthy weight is for me, where I have energy, strength, and I don’t have to starve myself to stay there. It took a while. I’ve been heavier and smaller than I am and I’ve learned whats manageable. I don’t even touch the scale anymore. It’s one of those things you’ll have to play around with to see how your body maintains certain sizes, and what it takes with your diet and exercise to stay there. So lets get right into it. Remember that some of these may work for some of you, and not for others. Like I always say, health and fitness is such a individual process! Its not a one size fits all.
Tip #1: Get your Beauty Rest. So much of weight gain or the halting of weight loss can come from stress our body is going through. This includes mental, emotional, and physical stress. Some stress is good, but we want to avoid the over stress. A lot of this is how much sleep we’re getting. Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night and if you can, 8 would be ideal! Make it priority. Put away electronics, and give yourself some quality sleep. Obviously if you’re in the trenches of raising little kids, especially newborns, you may not be able to manage this, but do your best. When we are in a sleep deficit our body releases stress hormones, such as cortisol, which aids in storing fat! Yikes, not exactly what we want! So get your beauty rest. Also, take a walk outside, get some fresh air, to eliminate stressors that come from the day to day grind.
Tip #2: Watch your sugar content. Hidden sugars can be the make or break for weight loss success. If we’re not aware, sugar can be in so many foods that we’re not aware of and can add up quickly. I tell all my clients to try to keep your sugar content below 35g per day if weight loss is your goal. (read my blog post on sneaky sugar culprits here, and high sugar vs low sugar fruits here) This includes natural sugars in fruit, honey, agave, etc. Avoid juices and flavored drinks which can be loaded with sugar. When you start to add it up, it doesn’t give you much room for extra processed junk. Stick to 1-2 pieces of fruit per day and you should be just fine!
Tip #3: Have a protein at every meal. Consuming protein throughout the day provides you with several opportunities to boost your metabolism through the thermic effect of food (TEF). It also helps promote lean muscle retention, which will naturally boost your metabolism throughout the day. Some options are chicken, tuna, quinoa, salmon, hemp seeds, nuts, beans, and lentils. Of course this has to be paired with regular exercise which leads me to tip number 4.
Tip #4: Change up your workout routine. Sometimes we get in a rut and our body adapts to the normal routine we put it through. Our bodies our smart. They work efficiently. When we throw something new in to our routine, our body has to work a little harder to figure it out. Also with increasing weight, or total volume of our workout, we will strengthen our muscles, making them better fat burners. So move away from the elliptical machine, and add some weights to your life! (if you need some ideas, check out my training programs here)
Tip #5: Eat your veggies at every meal! This is another tip I tell all of my clients no matter what. You can do it! Lots of ways to sneak them in. Why is this so important? Well I like this tip for several reasons. First of all you’ll be getting in more fiber, helping you feel fuller longer, and helping with digestion. Also, by challenging yourself for veggies at every meal, you are going to be replacing more empty calorie options (breads, pasta, sugar) with veggies, full of nutrients and goodness. Some of my favorites are Green smoothies, Zucchini noodles, Carrot noodles, a leafy green meal base (vs. Rice or pasta), the possibilities are endless! You just need to experiment a little and you’ll find it’s not that scary! If you need some awesome, veggie based meal ideas, let me meal plan for ya! (go here)
So there you have it, some simple tips you can try out to push you past that stubborn plateau in your weight loss pursuit! I know we could all work on at least one of these. Start with one step at a time. And don't let the scale be your only indicator of success!! That stupid number can have so much control over our happiness when it really doesn't say anything about strength, health, or body fat percentage, so keep it all in perspective!
I had a thought dawn on me this week. Why do I exercise? But more specifically, why do I exercise the way I exercise. Why do I lift weights? Do I have specific goals I’m training for? When I really dug deep I narrowed it down to the fact that I want to live a long, healthy, adventurous, functional life without health limitations. Secondly I want to feel STRONG and CONFIDENT in my own skin. I feel the most confident in my skin when I can see muscle definition, and when I only have a small amount to pinch on my love handles ;) That doesn’t mean I don’t love my body at all times, I just know what makes me feel the most confident. Everyone’s different. But what I want to focus on today is setting up your goals and training with a purpose behind them. To get the most quality out of your life, rather than just running everyday because that’s what you’ve been told to do, even though your body may hurt, and you may hate it.
I was listening to a podcast with Craig Ballantyne, the author of “the cardio myth” and “The perfect day formula” and many other great books, and it sparked these thoughts. You can listen to it here. He talks about how so many people over the last few decades have fallen into thinking they have to do a bunch of cardio to lose weight. Thinking if they miss a day of running, they are going to gain weight. Long cardio workouts are awesome if you’re training for an endurance sport, or if you just love it to clear your mind (my reason for running), but its not the magic path to weight loss for everyone. In fact, lots of people end up gaining weight while training for a marathon, or training on an endurance program because they think they can eat a lot more carbohydrates, or any calories because the calorie expenditure is typically way over calculated. When machines tell you how many calories you’re burning, the calculation is usually 40% higher than reality! But thats a bit of a tangent for another discussion. Back to purposeful goals.
Our goals should make us happy right? They should lead us to a rich & full life. With this in mind, I would advise you to step away from the goals that will not add to the quality of your life. This may take some thoughtful prioritizing. I’m talking about the goals some of us may have to be super ripped & have a six pack, but we’re miserable because we can’t ever enjoy food or going out with friends. We feel more trapped in this pursuit than it may be worth. When it comes to eating and nutrition, the goal should be to FEEL great and have energy. With that focus rather then dieting to lose weight, I guarantee your choices will start to transition towards the healthier direction without thinking too much about it.
Take a minute now with a pen and paper & write down the reason you exercise and your long term goal with it. Get to the root reason. For example, I work out because it puts me in a good mood (I’m really grumpy without it), boosts my confidence (I like the way I look from years of exercise), and I am so much more functionally strong in my day to day life (I love being able to participate in hikes, skiing, any activity without feeling like I could pass out). With all of this I can better do my part to bring goodness into the world. When I feel awesome, I can bring awesomeness. And as I said before, I want to live a long, healthy, adventurous, functional life without health limitations or confidence struggles.
Now the next layer is setting goals within our training that will lead to that overall long term goal. So if I want to be functional into old age, I’m going to train functionally. I’m going to incorporate functional strength movements into my workouts. Forget the muscle isolation machines where you sit down, put your arm in a crazy contraption & move some weight in one direction. I’m going to focus on free weights, barbell, TRX, and kettle bell exercises where I’m constantly using my core and stabilizers to move weight that could go in any direction. I’m going to foam roll and stretch to avoid injuries, or pain down the road.
The next layer is to get specific within those goals. What are your fitness goals for this year, that will eventually lead to your overall goal for a high quality life. Maybe you want to lose some body fat for a beach trip this summer. Your going to want to incorporate some cardio intervals into your training, and believe it or not, you’re going to want to LIFT WEIGHTS. The muscle you gain will help you burn more fat. If you don’t have the muscle underneath the fat layer than you’re never going to get that “lean/toned” look you’re going for. You’re going to want to work on your eating as well. Maybe you want to do your first Spartan Race this year. You need to be strong enough to pull yourself over a wall so you’re doing more strength based exercise, working with pull ups, or whatever it is you need increased strength for. And depending on the length of the race you will want some endurance training. Incorporating rep ranges above 15 will get you there. There’s lots of different ways to train, and beliefs behind certain rep ranges and their effectiveness, but having short term goals and your long term goals and your “why” in mind makes it so much easier to get motivated and plan out your training with purpose.
To wrap this up, I just want to encourage you to find your purpose with all this fitness stuff. It helps to keep in mind the long term picture of a quality, healthy life. That means walking more everyday, filling your body with nutritious foods, avoiding processed garbage food, maintaining a healthy body weight, and focusing on functional strength and mobility. Also don’t neglect the rest and recovery part! When our goals align with our long term desires, we’ll see results, and we’ll feel the difference!
Thanks for reading! Leave me any comments below, I’d love to hear from you!
With Thanksgiving this week, I wanted to share some of my favorite healthy tips for enjoying this time of year, without feeling a massive food-coma-hangover come January. The focus of this post is on Thanksgiving, but you can use these tips throughout the Holiday Season, and throughout the year really! The truth of the matter is there are always going to be parties, get togethers, chances to eat out with friends, and that donut guy at work who always brings treats (sent to sabotage our efforts!), so until we change our mindset towards food there's never going to be that "perfect time" or convenient time to lose weight or reach certain fitness goals. These are things I've found to help me in overcoming overeating and maintaining a healthy body composition all year round.
1) First off, schedule in your sweat session. I'm not saying you can always just work off anything you eat. You don't want to get in the habit of always trying to burn off your previous meal. You'll get no where. But when we're in a healthy routine of exercise, our body manages the food better. We can handle some extra calories on occasion and its not going to be the end of the world. You will feel so much better eating that piece of pie knowing you got your workout in.
2) No need to deprive, Portion control is key! We all have our favorite traditional parts of the thanksgiving meal. I love my Mom's stuffing and her homemade rolls with homemade raspberry jam, the best!! A big part of that is because she only makes them at thanksgiving. So keep in mind that its only 1 time a year. You don't need to healthify your traditional favorites if you don't want to. Enjoy the real deal, but just watch your portions. Have a delicious, flaky, buttery roll, just don't have 5! Typically what happens when we cut ourselves short & make our Shape Magazine Healthified - Tofu Stuffing or whatever it is that we think will be a healthy alternative, we end thanksgiving feeling deprived, maybe full but not satisfied. Then we may end up eating more later on because we never got our full Satisfaction. Enjoy the good stuff, just watch your portions!
3) To help out with that portion control, remember not to overcrowd your plate. We often will just eat whats left on our plate whether we want it or not. So take small portions at first, you can always go back for more if you really want, but its harder to stop if it's on your plate already.
4) Slow Down! Most the time, over eating is just a result of eating too fast. Our bodies are pretty good at letting us know when we're full, we just have to give it time to relay the message. Practice setting down your fork after you've had a few bites, a few times throughout the meal. Enjoy the company of those around you, drink water, breathe. The food on your plate doesn't have a time limit, it will still be there! And before you get seconds, try to wait at least 10 minutes. That should give your body plenty of time to let you know if its really still hungry. Slow eating is mindful eating!
5) Don't beat yourself up over one meal! Moderation is healthy. Enjoy the holiday, and get back to your healthy routine the next day! Drink lots of water and don't miss your post holiday workout!
Well there you have it! 5 tips to help you stay on your road to healthy this Holiday Season! Have a great thanksgiving everyone! And I've got you covered with a workout! Download my Turkey Burn workout below and do it with the whole fam this weekend! It's a full body blast, guaranteed to make some room for Turkey Dinner ;)
SIGN UP NOW AVAILABLE!! click here
Summer's come and gone, we've had our trips, we've soaked up rays, we've ate our fair share of s'mores, popcicles, and icecream, kids are ready for school (and so are the moms!), and it just sort of feels right to get back on track with our fitness! September is a month to reset some goals, create some healthy habits, and enjoy the awesome produce thats in season right now!
Well I have just the thing for you! Join in my 30 Day Fitness Challenge that I've designed to fit your needs! Whether you're a student going back to college this fall, or a mom juggling everyones schedules, or going back to a new work schedule and feel like you're always on the go!
This guide includes quick and effective workouts that will change your body, rev up your metabolism, burn fat, and strenthen muscle and endurance. With this daily functional training you will be able to run further, jump higher, pick up your kids, carry your groceries, hike a mountain, whatever this crazy life throws at you! But best of all you will look and feel AMAZING!
Combine the workout endorphins with the meals I've planned for you and you have the perfect combo. The meals and recipes were put together with you in mind. They are quick, simple, and affordable! You'll even get a healthy lunch packing guide each week! Learn how to meal prep for healthy lunches to pack with you whatever your week has in store.
The focus will be on creating healthy habits, one week at a time. We will be setting goals and checking in on eachother.
If all of this wasn't enough, you'll also have the chance to win some awesome prizes as extra motivation! I'm awarding your hard work and dedication with my favorite protein powder, bars, shoes, and a free month of training with me! How cool is that?
Make sure you tell your workout buddies so you can all keep each other on track and lets do this! Hurry and sign up before September 1st and start the month with a bang.
I'll see ya there!
Summer is full of pool parties, back yard barbecues, Weddings, vacations, and a lack of structure. No one wants to be burdened with a bunch of diet rules and regimens with all this fun stuff going on! Which is why I came up with some of my favorite, easy healthy swaps to keep you on track this summer. You can still enjoy all the summer parties, without losing all your hard work in the gym. It just takes learning a few healthy habits and making educated decisions.
- The Ice-cream Swap: Something that always sounds good in the summer is icecream, and its a party dessert favorite for sure. An occasional ice-cream won’t kill you, but an everyday addiction is what we want to avoid. Try making some healthy frozen treats to give you that same sweet and refreshing satisfaction.
- mix plain frozen yogurt with fruit. pour into popsicle molds or plastic cups. Freeze for a few hours. Remove and enjoy like a popsicle or with a spoon!
- Banana Ice-cream: keep frozen bananas in your freezer at all times. Chop them up and blend in blender or food processor. Can mix in PB, coco, or cinnamon for a healthy combo!
- The Cone Trick: If you’re at a party and they’re serving up ice-cream, go for the smallest portion option. When you serve ice-cream in a bowl, you naturally serve up more. When you have to fit it in a small cone or cup, the portion is going to be smaller, but appear bigger when served like this.
2. The BBQ swap: What’s summer with out a BBQ? Well you’re typical BBQ menu can be packed with extra calories and sugar. But don’t worry, healthy swaps to save the day!
1. Go for the green salad over the fruit/jello salad. You’ll save on sugar and calories.
2. Wrap your burger in Lettuce, lose the bun! Lower your carbs, keep the protein.
3. Skip the chip bag. Just by leaving out the potato chips you’ll save loads of empty calories and that unhealthy fat that we don’t want in our bodies. Instead, if you’re in need of something salty, bring some grilled or baked veggies to the party with you’re own salty seasoning. You’ll benefit everyone there with this healthy side dish.
3. The Party Approach: My third tip isn’t necessarily a swap, but more of a strategy. When you have a busy party week coming up, with weddings, holidays, etc. go in with a game plan. Decide on what dessert you want to splurge on, and what you’re going to say no to before you go, so that you don’t have to make the decision when the cake table is staring you down.
- For example, cousins wedding is next weekend. My plan may be, “If there are cookies, i’m having one. But if it’s just cake, I don’t even like cake so that I can skip.” easy enough!
If you know you have a holiday weekend coming up, plan the rest of the week so you’re eating really healthy, then the weekend splurge won’t be as big of a deal. It’s all about being prepared and planning ahead.
- For example, if I know my cousins wedding is next weekend, Friday night, Monday through Thursday I’ll eat my lean and green for dinner, balanced meals throughout the day, and stay clear of sweets. Then when Friday night comes around, I’ll enjoy a slice of wedding cake and really enjoy it, without the guilt.
Keep it balanced, plan ahead, and you’ll be just fine!
Any dream or goal we make that results in a positive change in ourselves requires a bit of discomfort. Most people quite or backdown from their goals because of this discomfort. If we're not used to feeling this, it can be scary, different, and usually we don't like it. Fitness goals are a great example of this because the discomforts are obvious and physical. Whether it's pushing through that final rep, feeling a little hunger from decreasing your portion sizes, resisting that cupcake, or getting a couple of inches deeper in your squat. Self imposed discomfort is a foreign feeling to many, but we can all improve. I've trained clients that had never felt the burning muscle sensation that comes with a tough workout, and their initial reaction was to stop. One of the benefits to having a personal trainer is so that you don't stop when it gets hard :)
Similarly, most of us our so used to food being so abundant, we eat mindlessly and have never really reached the point of true hunger. We just eat when we think we're supposed to eat, or when everyone else is eating. What would happen if we actually waited until our body told us it was hungry?
I want to talk about some strategies we can use to increase our discomfort tolerance to reach those goals that may seem so far away or too hard in the moment. This takes desire and some mental toughness, which I know we all have! All of us are at different levels with this. Find your starting point and work from there. Here are 3 strategies for increasing your discomfort tolerance:
- Extend discomfort time. For example, say it's Friday, on your way home from work and you can't wait to dive right into that cookie dough you have sitting in your fridge after a long week. Well instead of having it right when you get home, tell yourself you'll wait an hour, and then you can have some. By doing this, you are training your body to live through a little discomfort and proving that you'll survive. In applying this to exercise, if you always run for 30 minutes on Tuesday morning, try running for 35 or 40 minutes, or run 4 miles instead of 3. Push yourself one bit at a time, further than yesterday, and you will be surprised with how far you've come!
- Remove the unhealthy conveniences. Back to the last example, if you always go straight to your fridge after work and there's cookie dough staring at you, that seems pretty convenient and hard to turn down. Or if you walk in your house and your big comfy couch and TV are sitting right there, it will be very convenient just to plop yourself down for the night and conveniently miss your gym time. Some ways to remove these unhealthy conveniences may be to take a new route so that you don't pass McDonald's tempting drive through on your way home. Or set a reminder on your phone to not go through the kitchen when you get home, or lay your gym clothes out on your couch instead of the remote control. Whatever your unhealthy habits are (we all have them) be realistic with yourself, acknowledge them, and set up healthy road blocks for yourself.
- Create a contract with yourself. The most important documents in our lives usually require us to sign and date. Well why shouldn't we apply that standard of importance for helping us reach goals with our health? This is a strategy that I've been playing around with lately and it's actually very helpful and powerful. Lets say you know you should exercise, but everyday something more appealing shows up and takes priority and the exercise is postponed until tomorrow, and tomorrow, and the next day, etc. You may not have the discomfort tolerance built up yet. Well, what I suggest is to write up an official document for yourself, stating the thing you want to do, when you are to do it, and a consequence if you don't fulfill your end of the deal. It may look something like this: "I, Brittney Motzkus, hereby declare that this week (specific date) I will brush my teeth within 10 minutes of finishing my dinner at home so that I am not searching for dessert afterwards or late night snacking. If I fail to do so, I must eat a spoonful of Wasabi, with Husband as my witness... (Sign, and Dated)." As you can see, you can have fun with this! But there's something about an officially contract that holds us accountable.
Typically, the more important things in life require more effort, more sweat, more tears, more determination, more mental toughness, but that's what makes the outcome that much more sweet! With these strategies, I hope you can find the courage and determination to set goals for yourself and reach them. Know that you can accomplish hard things, even if it's one little step at a time!
A year ago around this time we were getting ready to move to Europe, just a couple of weeks out from take off. Our plain tickets were purchased, the packing list had begun. I was in a routine where I was training pretty hard every day at the gym, a long with training for my first marathon at the end of May. Most days consisted of waking up extremely early, driving, training clients back to back, then I would go to my second job at Altra Footwear and fit in my own work out in between. I would then drive back up to Salt Lake from Orem to teach night classes and train night clients. It was nuts.
I was thinking I was in the best shape of my life and one of my biggest fears of moving to Europe, which now sounds ridiculous, was getting fat. I laugh about it now but it was an honest concern. I thought that all I would have to eat in Germany was bread and potatoes. Then I would move to France and only have baguettes and cheese. While this is partly true (I have eaten my fair share of baguettes and cheese) I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my bodies reaction to the move. Rather than adding on a nice fluffy layer of carb chub, I’ve actually lost around 12 pounds while being here and feel the leanest I ever have! How is this possible you ask? Well as I’ve thought about this same question, I’ve compiled some observations. I trace it back to the beginning of our adventure, getting out of my routine rut.
Lets go back to June. On our way to Germany we made a stop in Iceland for 4 days. Keep in mind I had been in the routine of training hard, and eating a good amount of food to refuel my body every day. I was in that cycle of going harder and harder, and eating more to provide the energy. Planning our travels I got a little anxiety knowing my workout routine would have to change a bit, and I knew I wouldn’t be expending as many calories, so I would need to lower my intake. I think this was the best thing for me. I needed to get out of that cycle and get my metabolism back in check. Reset my system a little bit. Our 4 days in iceland we rented a car and drove most of the day, making little stops along the way, hiking a bit here and there, and taking in amazing scenery. I noticed my hunger levels went down, so I obeyed. We survived on a little oatmeal in the morning with fruit, and cracker, meat, and cheese sandwiches on the road. Not the most glamorous or nutritious, and I don’t suggest that meal plan for an everyday thing. But for 4 days of car camping travel it got the job done, and smaller portions were key.
We made it to Germany and our expat life began. The first 2 weeks were spent getting up early and going to offices, where we would wait in line to take care of administration stuff. These processes are SLOW and can be frustrating. The first thing I learned about Germans is that they love their paperwork! We were at the mercy of limited office open hours and the people who could help us translate. My regular morning workout routine had to be shortened or put on hold until the evening, or the next day. This was weird for me! But again, with less calories going out, I wasn’t eating nearly as much as before.
So lesson #1 learned: Take a reset. Lower activity level to lower food intake. You will become more in tune with what your body actually needs. More in tune with your intake and output correlation.
The administration work settled down, and we were able to have more freedom and I picked up my morning workout routine again. It felt great! My appetite increased a little bit, but I noticed that I had freed myself from that cycle of eating more to fuel training more. I was more in control now. I had re-calibrated my exercise and food need. So combining the exercise routine with a more controlled food consumption was good. Also, the next change made was instead of being stuck to a rigid eating routine of every 2-3 hours or my muscles will eat them selves, I learned to only eat when I was hungry. And I actually allowed myself to feel hunger! (I used to teach to not allow yourself to really feel hunger, but I humbly stand corrected). I had been following the typical fitness model/bodybuilding commandment of eating every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism going, and to keep your body from breaking down your muscles. I have now learned that this is totally unnecessary. Why should you eat if you’re not hungry? Allowing ourselves to feel hunger keeps us in tune with our bodies needs and we are more mindful with our eating.
So lesson #2 learned: If you’re not hungry, you don’t have to eat! don’t try to force feed every 2-3 hours because you think your muscles will break down, or that your metabolism will shut off. This is not necessarily the case. Mindful eating is what we want to master. Your body can adapt to burning fat if you fuel it right and train. (that is a whole other blog post though :)
After just a few days in Germany, my pre-assumptions were proven wrong. Germans eat other foods besides potatoes and brats haha who would’ve thought! They actually have amazing produce! And the same goes for the French, Its not all just baguettes, cheese, and croissants. Some of the best produce I’ve ever had, fresh, seasonal, and very affordable! I’ve loved it. My diet as been full of fresh veggies, organic fruits, lean meats sparingly (about 3 nights out of the week), and yes the occasional baguette and cheese. And I would be lying if I didn’t include all the fresh pastries and crepes that I’ve consumed (how can you pass up all those delicious french bakery’s?) This brings me to the third lesson learned.
Back in the states I could definitely notice the sweet treats and splurges that I had. I was always working extra hard on Monday to make up for the Weekend desserts. Each day I worked hard for an hour at the gym, and was active while training clients, but the rest of my day was sitting at a desk, or sitting in my car. I could never get past a certain weight and body fat percentage. I wasn’t necessarily looking to loose weight, I just thought that I had reached my comfortable peak. Here I’ve felt like the extra carbs and pastries have gone right through me, and taken some extra pounds with them. I contribute this to the power of walking! I used to think walking was just for old people who couldn’t do “real” exercise any more. Or the Sissy person’s form of exercise when they couldn’t handle the gym. I know, horrible thoughts. But my time in Europe has changed me. By adding at least 30 minutes of walking to your day, your fat burning potential will soar. I haven’t driven a car for an entire year (only on the occasional weekends being chauffeured by my husband on our adventures) but I myself have not driven. From our apartment I have to walk 1/2 mile (each way) to get to the train station to go anywhere. I walk 5 minutes to the grocery store, and carry 2 full grocery bags back. The gym I worked at in Düsseldorf was a mile run/walk from our apartment, which I went to most days. Our apartment was on the 6th floor with no elevator, and here in Paris we’re on the 13th floor. We have an elevator but each day I have to go up at least once with out it (a weird ritual I started that now I can’t break!). To go to church on Sunday we walk 10 minutes to the train, 5 minutes in between the train up and down stairs, 10 minutes from the station to church, and then repeat on the way back. I would say at least 3 days of the week I wander around Paris, walking for a couple of hours or more. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. I walk A LOT!
So Lesson #3 learned: Walk more, move more. Daily activity (outside of your structured workout) is a huge contributor to weight management! I give most of my weight loss credit to this simple change. I’m still working out hard 5-6 days a week for 40-60 min. I am still eating very clean and healthy 80% of the time. But the combination of the 3 has been the golden ticket for me.
My goal is to take this lifestyle change and bring it back to the states and inspire others to do the same. What if the stress and struggle of losing those last 10 pounds, or really reaching your best level of fitness could be solved with simply walking!? I’m sure most of us have a grocery store within walking distance. Have you ever thought to walk? Trust me, I used to drive my car across the street to the grocery store and never thought twice about it! I challenge you to find little parts in your day that you could add in some walking. You can start small. When given the choice of the elevator or the stairs, always take the stairs. If you’re faced with an escalator or stairs, take the stairs. Park at the back of the grocery store parking lot instead of battling for the front and center spot. Make it a family event. After dinner, rather then vegging out on the couch together watching TV, go for a walk instead. These have turned into some of my favorite times to talk with my husband, or just think on my own. Just try it for a week and see if you notice a difference. A difference with how you feel, with your energy and hunger levels, and a difference with your bodies fat burning capabilities.
So to sum it up, the 3 big lessons about health and fitness that I’ve learned while being here in Europe have been ….
#1. When you’re stuck in a fitness rut, take a reset. Lower your activity level so you can lower your food intake. Get re-calibrated.
#2. Practice mindful eating. If your not hungry, you don’t have to eat!
#3. The power of walking is greater than we think! Walk more, move more, every day!
Its a fresh start to a new year, a clean slate. Everyone starts off the year with great intentions and then usually that fire and desire wares off by February or March. Well lets not have that happen this year! Lets make 2016 our fittest year and keep the fire lit. These are 3 tips I thought of that have helped me make goals and keep them. We all have our ups and downs, our on days and off days, but the more you practice consistency with fitness, the easier it will become. If I were to add a 4th tip to this list it would be to not beat yourself up over a slip. Just because you interrupt a good streak with a treat, or whatever it is, does not mean you have fallen off the wagon! Just get back on course and carry on. Also, January isn't the only time we get a clean slate. Think of each month, the start of each week, or even a brand new day! We have a lot of opportunities for fresh starts throughout the year, don't just settle on one. Alright now here are my top 3 tips: