High and unreasonable expectations. We usually do this to ourselves around this time of year.
Everyone needs the perfect gift, the right amount of money spent on each person, the most festive home with the best home baked foods.
So you’ll need to shop online and at stores, get groceries, bake cookies and clean house. Wrap presents and go to parties. And oh- go to work. And sleep. Sometimes. On top of all that, you still need to exercise and make sure that you are not eating a ton of crap so you don’t look like Santa by New Year’s Day.
I’m getting stressed just typing these statements!
You can Google search “holiday weight gain” and get a wide range of scary statistics- some experts say 3-5lbs, some say 10. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that last Christmas you may have gained a few, but never really lost it. The year before you gained a little too. Now you look back at old photos and wonder how did I get here? Because you gained and never lost and it just added to the fat pile from 2012. 5, 10, 15 pounds. Sounds pretty hopeless!
And there are as many blogs and articles on how to avoid weight gain as there are ones with the statistics. Most of them say things like:
Schedule your workouts! Eat more protein! Ditch the alcohol! Bring a healthy dish to the party!
Not bad advice, but I’m thinking we need to be more realistic. A little easier on ourselves this time of year.
So here are my ideas!
My holiday tips to stay sane and not gain (too much;)
1.Get your sleep. Force yourself to turn off the TV earlier and aim for at least 7 hours. (You already know sleep is good for you.)
2.Drink plenty of water- like it’s your second job. Staying hydrated is a must.
3.Move a little each day. You simply won’t have time to hit the gym every day, even if that is what you like to do. You are human, and even with the best intentions, our personal priorities will take the back seat during the holidays.
Take a short walk around the block every day before dinner. Or a long walk. Or fit in some pushups and bodyweight squats while the coffee is brewing. Movement will keep you a little sane, trust me. It’s a gift that gives twice- to you and your family. Ask my kids!
4.Make lists and delegate whenever possible. Chances are, if you are like me, you like to be in control of everything and be the “hostess with the mostess”. This is crazy and unrealistic, and you most likely have a spouse or kids or friends who would also like to participate and feel valued in the process.
A list can also serve as a visual- it is rewarding to mark stuff off, and allows you to get all that information out of your head!
5.Say No sometimes. Your husband’s annual Christmas party? That’s probably a yes. Your coworker’s holiday Tupperware party earlier the same day? That would be a maybe not. (but hey, that’s just me!) Just don’t feel bad for setting limits on what you can and can’t do.
6.Eat meals at regular times. Your regular foods. Don’t even try to start a diet right now. This is not the time to set yourself up for failure! All I am saying is this- with all the holiday busyness, we tend to “forget” to eat. (I don’t. All I think about is food, but I have seen others do this!) When you finally realize its 8 at night and you only had coffee and a bagel all day, this is when you eat half the kitchen or binge eat at Taco Bell out of convenience. This is no bueno, and you sure aren’t going to sleep well with a belly full of food. Keep up a regular schedule as much as possible.
7.Hide the scale. Throw that damn scale into the far reaches of your shorts and flip flops drawer right now. Why put yourself through the drama of watching your weight fluctuate during this festive time? (a lot of that up and down is sodium/water anyway) Just don’t even go there. If you are moving, getting sleep, drinking water like a dolphin and eating regularly, you can be pretty sure that you are not Santa Size status.
So to recap:
Toss the scale
These strategies will help free up some space in your head and keep your body running well so you can do the fun festive things you want to do this time of year. Have a fabulous time at the holiday parties, enjoy your family and friends, and most of all be jolly and stress-free!
Lately, I am struggling with my social media feeds. I am fans and friends with many different people from all walks of life that are involved somehow in the fitness industry. I admire so many competitors’ physiques and athletes’ talents that I am bombarded every day with all these messages/photos/diets/mantras/videos….but quite frankly it’s starting to drive me a little nuts. I don’t want to unfollow anyone, because I do still like to scroll through the good stuff and catch up, but I am getting a little tired of the “what doesn’t kill you make you stronger” or “No pain no gain” on my screen every time I log in. I get it- having a six pack, buns of steel and being “bikini ready” takes commitment dedication, strict diet, etc. I GET IT!
I don’t want to think of my eating as a diet with a cheat day here or there. I don’t want my clients to have that philosophy either. Who wants to live their life counting calories, weighing their food, and counting down until Sunday when they can eat a piece of cake? BORING. Sounds like punishment to me. And who wants to drag their butts to the gym 6 days a week, sweat for 1-2 hours a day on the dreadmill in an environment they may or may not feel comfortable in? If you don’t like running on a treadmill for an hour, then by God don’t do it.
*** side note**
By the way, strength training and cardio definitely help with fat loss, but the other HUGE component is whatever the hell you are putting in your mouth day by day. Especially when no one is looking! (Closet eaters out there)
But I digress.... Back to my mini rant for the day. I truly believe that if you pay attention to what you eat and drink, focus on whole unprocessed foods with a variety of vegetables, fruits, protein sources and whole grains, you will see changes. I also firmly believe that whatever exercise you choose to do, should be something you enjoy. I personally love hitting the weights, I feel a little like She-Ra (too old?) even if I am lifting a fraction of what my husband does! But it’s what I like to do. I also love running, golfing, yoga and hiking. If you don’t like going to a gym- don’t! Find something that you like- bikes, kick box, walking, karate, swimming, fitness classes, tai chi, Pilates- get the picture? If you are moving your arms, legs, joints, or body in general every day, in a way you enjoy, your mind will be engaged and your body will show you appreciation by having more strength and mobility and less pain.
You don’t have to listen to the hardcore elites. You can definitely admire them and take points from them if they inspire you, of course. But don’t let their progress and success make you feel “less than” or that you have an unattainable goal. We are given one life, so find what makes YOU happy and healthy!
I don’t care what size you wear, what you weigh, or the color of your hair/skin whatever. I believe we all have the potential to share our best asset with little to no effort. Self-confidence.
“Big Whoop De Doo” you say. “How am I supposed to be confident when I am having a “fat” day or I don’t feel my best?”
The secret lies in a few simple tricks.
First, right now- write them down if you have to, but think of all the physical features of yourself that you adore. Or what other people compliment you on. Your legs? Your eyes? Your healthy long hair? Your infectious laugh? Write them all down. Feeling any more confident yet?
Now second, look at that list- it should be rather long if you were candidly honest. Pick a few body parts- let’s say legs and your eyes for example. (Or make it your hair and your butt ; I don’t care just pick two that best suit you) Now with those two features, brainstorm how you can best accentuate them. For legs, let’s say a nice skirt, or some heels that make them rock. For the eyes, a little mascara and eye contact! And don’t forget to smile.
Now look at yourself in the mirror and tell me, don’t you feel great? You know why? Because you accentuated the positive and let the not so great feelings fall to the wayside.
By doing that, people will notice you holding your head, high shoulders back , standing up straight, smiling and making eye contact.
I used to get so frustrated when I would be getting ready to go out with my husband for date night or some party, and I would ask him what I should wear. He would say. “Whatever you are most comfortable in” I would take this as “I don’t care”. Anyone feeling me here? Has this happened with your significant other?
That wasn’t the case at all. He cared. But he knew that if I was comfortable, I would show confidence. And he was right! Sometimes I would try and fit into the dress, when all the while the dress should be fitting me.
Self-confidence is like a muscle. A habit. Flex it often and eventually it will come naturally. Sure, we all have parts we do not like- we are ALL a work in progress, and it’s ok!
Accentuate the positive and ignore the negative (Or what you perceive to be) Hold your head up high (not nose in the air high but chin up high), slight smile, shoulders back, eye contact!
Go get ‘em killer. You’ve got the best asset! Self Confidence.
I loathe the word “diet”. HATE IT entirely. Skipping meals, avoiding entire food groups, liquids only, been there. I spent more money on diet pills in my 20’s than I even want to admit. Tried South Beach, The Zone, Atkins, fasting, Master Cleanse (although that one lasted 3 hours until my husband filled the house with the smells of his homemade chili!), juicing all my meals (again short lived I love to CHEW my food),Intermittent Fasting.
Tried lots of diets. They all work. Until they don’t. Until whatever you restricted creeps back in. Until lifestyle takes over and reality hits you, that whatever the diet of the month is also driving you mental. Diets are set to restrict and create boundaries, and “fix” whatever is causing you to be fat. Any library or bookstore has shelves wall to wall ceiling to floor with the latest diet remedies, sure to lose those last 5-15 pounds if you just do this one thing.
Being a personal trainer I get asked by my clients and friends about these diets. What about Paleo? What about HCG? What about cabbage soup diet or the grapefruit diet? I tell them “it might work,” I don’t know. Try it if you are interested (and of course check with your doctor in case you have any medical conditions).
Restrictive diets are not a permanent solution. When you lose weight too rapidly, you are losing muscle as well. So you may end up skinny fat. Thin with no lean muscle. Which I know some of my ladies are saying “that’s ok, I don’t mind”. But you will, when your ass is so measly it is sliding down the back of your thighs. Ick.
Losing 1-1.5lbs per week is a healthy rate, and will not wreak havoc on your metabolism. Many of these extreme diet measures confuse your poor bod into starvation mode. So when you do finally at a normal meal again, it freaks out and saves it as if you’ll never eat. Then you pack on the weight faster than before. And the cycle continues“..
So stop the madness! Don’t over complicate things! Sure, you can count calories, create a deficit, portion out your sizes. I recommend all of this actually for my clients who have no idea what a portion size is. But if you are eating salad- I got news for you- eating an entire bag of salad greens hovers around 40 calories so eat up, and don’t worry about eating too much. Throw more veggies of any variety, you’ll be lucky to reach 100 calories. It’s the fatty dressings (100), cheese, croutons and all the other crap you add that is making you fat. Which by the way, if you want those items, go for it. But measure them out, eat them occasionally not 5 times a day, and own it.
Don’t cry and whine then go buy the latest book because you can’t understand why you aren’t losing. Take a good look at what you are doing or not doing. If you can read and count, you can lose the fat. And move. But that’s another blog.
If you can read, read the labels. Read out loud all those damn words no one can pronounce. Know that most of them are unnecessary and are added to dupe you into thinking that crappy food tastes good. They are fillers. If you can count, count a portion size, measure it out, until you can eyeball what a serving of rice or broccoli or cheese looks like. (the cheese may shock you, kind of small!)
So the bad 4 letter word of the day? DIET. Don’t.
When I meet with my clients for the first time, the majority of them express to me they wish to lose weight. They do not like what they see in the mirror, the size label on their jeans, or the number on the bathroom scale. When I hear this, I know that what they actually intend to say, is they want to lose body fat.
If you were my client, I would tell you that what you see in the mirror and how they feel is much more important than the clothing size and number on the scale. And losing body fat comes down to nutrition. A well rounded, balanced and nutrient dense eating plan. Not a “diet”. Sure, you can get complicated and try any of the thousands of eating “methods” and timing, but rather than waste money on pills, books, potions or lotions, just eat well.
If you were my client I would ask you right away to track your food intake. Everything. Down to the bite off your kid’s plate, to the soda you had at lunch, the condiments and sauces you use, the late night snack. Full disclosure. It hurts. It can be ugly. It ain’t pretty, but it’s necessary. Write everything down just for a few days, including the weekend. (Because we all tend to be more social eaters on the weekend -or at least a little looser with our eating plan)
I would not scold you. I wouldn’t waddle my finger at you and say, now now“ you “shouldn’t” eat that! But we would take an objective approach together and see what the easiest things to change are first. And take it slowly, no overhaul. Your habits would need to be switched from bad to better, and it takes time for them to stick. Most often I see the first item to change is what you are drinking. You might tell me that you don’t normally drink soda but have soda, juices, sweet tea on your list. Or maybe you skip breakfast. Or maybe you haven’t seen a vegetable since 6th grade. Or your idea of protein is eating an entire jar of peanut butter in one sitting. We can work on that.
If you were my client, that is just the beginning. We would get into your kitchen and cupboards, discuss cooking methods, food groups, meal planning, etc.
This month, I will post some of my favorite healthy recipes- some breakfast, some dinner, some treats. These will be the successful ones I feed my family and they love them too. So enjoy this month’s information, I will be posting nutrition tips and “feeding” you more soon!
I'm a sucker for trying free apps. I love free, and I love trying new things! Plus I just delete the apps I don't like. I think I will keep this one just for fun.
I read about the Moves app in a magazine recently, and saw that it had good reviews from people who said it is pretty accurate on recording your daily step activity. I decided to try it to see how many steps I walk each day. I have never worn a pedometer, but consider myself active enough to get close to the recommended 10,000 steps per day goal.
Moves is a free application that will record your steps, as long as it is on your body- in a pocket or your hand or on your armband. It recorded when I was on the elliptical, and also recorded my running as a separate movement. It breaks your total for the day down as steps, distance, and calories burned. When you are driving, it tracks that as “transport”, and every day it sends you a breakdown of the day before.
Here is what I discovered after using this app for a little over a week:
I don’t move as much as I thought! (sad face) Granted, I don’t always carry my phone with me around the house, or it is in my purse and it can’t track then. However, I still thought I was walking a lot more than I actually am.
On the days that I run or hit the gym, I do get more activity in (duh) but nowhere near the recommended 10,000 steps a day. One day I ran 3 1/2 miles and I was recorded at 4,871 steps. I walked an additional 1,441 that day doing normal activity. So 6,312 total. Not Cool!
When I didn’t go for a run or hit the gym, my numbers were pitiful. It looked as though I lay on the couch all day doing nothing. Which I can assure you, I do not!
My ideas to increase my own steps from now on are to carry my phone more often (just because I am curious to see if that number increases), and to take a short walk on my days I don’t go to the gym or run.
What about the rest of the world? I can imagine how discouraging it can be to see low numbers, and then know that lofty goal of 10,000 steps a day! It may not be reasonable for us all to run 7 miles or more each day.
First, it can be a useful tool- you get a general picture of what you are actually walking every day.
Second, find opportunities for activity, walk the long way, get up and walk around during the day at the office. Stand up and walk around during commercials in the evening, march in place if you want!
I understand that 10,000 steps can seem like Mt Everest if you are not running 7 miles that day. Instead of looking at the big number, break it down to just add a few 100 steps each day to your current activity.
Overall, for a free app, I think it is a great tool for a bigger picture of your daily activity and movement. Use it as a gauge, and look for opportunities in your day to move more.
Make it a great day everyone!
I personally think people who regularly exercise in any form are very easy to buy gifts for. They always have something they need or want that would improve their game or make their workouts more enjoyable. Is there someone in your life and you are stumped on what to buy them? Or maybe it’s you and you need some hints to tell someone else what you want! Here are some creative, some simple, some inexpensive some tech ideas for your fit family or fit friend.
1. Weight Lifting gloves you can even find women’s in cool patterns here: www.femmefitalefitness.com
2. Water bottle (BPA free so in the hot AZ sun no one is ingesting leached plastic-ew)
3. Resistance bands in a variety of colors (black is toughest, yellow is easy)
4. Yoga mat
5. Workout towel – www.wordstosweatby.com
6. Inspirational poster or mug for their office
7. Workout journal or log book (great for keeping track of their routines)
8. Cool compression socks (runners)
9. Headbands, hair ties
10. Jump rope
11. Foam roller (great for sore muscles)
12. Gift certificate to a health food store or website for supplements and vitamins
13. Stability Ball
14. Healthy cookbook (smoothies anyone?)
1. Gym bag ( you can put mini deodorant, dry shampoo, lotion, body spray etc)
2. Inspirational jewelry at www.wordstosweatby.com
3. Funny slogan running tees @ http://onemoremile.net/
4. Pull up bar for their house
5. Medicine ball, dumbbells
6. Headphones like : Yur buds that will custom fit the buds to fit your ears! www.yurbuds.com
7. 1 hour Massage
1. Fit Bit, Jawbone Up, or Nike Fuel Band (these tech savvy pieces are great for tracking movement, calories and even your sleep patterns)
2. BOSU ball
3. TRX www.trxtraining.com
4. Polar Heart rate monitor- a great way for your favorite athlete to make sure they are working hard enough
If there is a guy or gal in your life who goes to the gym, hits some classes, runs, bikes, hikes, whatever it may be I assure you- they would LOVE more fitness stuff! Hope this helps for any last minute gift ideas!
There are a lot of posts on Facebook lately about Thanksgiving dinner- how many thousands of calories a typical dinner is, how to be strategic when you eat, even down to whether or not you should have pumpkin pie. (my opinion is yes! Duh!) I read one article that says if you must have dessert, have a sliver the width of your thumb. PLEASE! Do me a favor- look at your thumb right now, and tell me how satisfying a huge slice of pie the size of your thumb would be?
Not very satisfying at all, unless you have HUGE thumbs!
I say relax. It is one day, one meal. If you are competing in a figure/bikini competition or a professional athlete, I totally agree with being strategic and staying “on plan” with your diet. If you are the average fit Jane or John Doe, and you are eating healthy whole foods most of the time, getting plenty of water sleep and exercise, you can relax. One meal or one day will not derail your efforts any more than one day of eating well will instantly give you the body of your dreams.
A healthy lifestyle is all about moderation and balance. Be reasonable with your eating during the holidays. Go ahead and have a piece of pie larger than your thumb, but smaller than your hand (haha) You can always get back to your routine the following day.
No matter how smooth your life has been, at some point there will be a shift. A radical change in your circumstances that rocks your world and seems to turn it upside down. Let's call it that "Rattle Your Cage" kind of change. It totally sucks at the time, but as you struggle through it and power past it, you become stronger,wiser, and well- better because of it.
In September, it happened to me. I have been employed at a smaller privately owned and operated 24 hour gym since their doors opened 2 1/2 years ago. I started out as an independent contractor PT, but also became the fitness director in charge of marketing/social media/ commmunity involvement. I would joke that my car was on auto pilot- it only knew home and the gym. I had my "gym family"- the members and staff that I saw and engaged with and socialized with daily. It was my second home, I loved my job!
August 15th, the owner sat me and the manager down and informed us the gym had to close. There have been several larger franchise gyms open up in our area the last 6 months and it crushed our membership numbers. Our small business could not compete with national franchise marketing dollars, and their cheap sticker price was no competition either. The doors to our gym would remain open 30 days as a courtesy to our exisiting members. On September 15th the lights would go out and the music stopped playing for the very first time in almost 3 years.
This news crushed all of us. This devastated me! I had been comfortable there, I had become used to my routine of workout, train clients,get my stuff done at home, go back and train, repeat..... What was I going to do now? Where would I go? Where would I train clients? My head was spinning.
When rattle your cage kind of change happens, there are several emotions that a person goes through. Everyone is different how long they are feeling each emotion. First there is sadness, then anger, then panic, then maybe sadness again, anxiety , but then...wait for it......
That's right, you feel all these emotions, but there is a voice in your heart that whispers so softly, I think it's going to be ok. I think we can figure something out. Maybe you needed this for some strange reason. or like we hear so often "everything happens for a reason."
That whisper may be a little louder sometimes, or you may be more aware, and can move on through the process a little quicker. As soon as I heard the news, I heard the voice. I even felt a little guilty for thinking it. I was still sad, angry, anxious and panicking, but I felt the hope too.
See once you go through one rattle your cage experience, you are stronger the next time another comes around. You know what to expect. You know what’s on the other side of that change. Better stuff for you.
I am leaning towards that other side now, this is my first blog in how many months? I ordered new business cards see?
I have called up friends and past clients. I have updated my business Facebook page and posted relevant content.Guess what? People are calling. I have shifted the focus from the gym to my own personal training and the universe is answering, the wheels are in motion.
We all go through change- it's part of life. It can buckle you and crush you. Or you can listen to that soft voice in your heart that says " I think we are going to be ok", and you can find the possibilities that this world is offering you. I promise, you will be stronger, wiser and happier because of it!
Make it a great day!
- Cold/Hot showers - Much like athletes do with an ice bath/jacuzzi, this may seem a little torturous or extreme, but what this does is increase your circulation and get the blood flowing to your muscles and reduces muscle soreness. In the shower, turn the water on as cold as you can, and keep it there for 15 seconds. Then immediately switch it to as hot as you can stand for 15 seconds. Switch back and forth several times at the end of your daily shower.
- Massage- this is not just a great way to pamper yourself, but a good massage can loosen up tension, get your lymph nodes activated, and remove toxins via your bloodstream,urine and liver. Make sure to let the therapist know where your trouble spots are, and communicate fully throughout your massage if it becomes painful or uncomfortable. Also, it is important to drink alot of water post massage- your therapist has loosened up alot of toxins and you need to flush them out of your system.
- Anti inflammatory medicine- Always consult your physician when taking any medication. Ibuprofen and anti inflammatories are helping in reducing the swelling in your tissues that is causing some of that soreness.
- Light exercise- Ok, so you had a real tough lower body workout, to the point that it is difficult to walk without looking like a duck. We have all been there. You don't want to move at all! Here is when it is most important to get some light exercise, to warm up those muscles again. Walking, or the elliptical at a light easy pace for 20-30 minutes, then a gentle stretching session after should help minimize recovery time.
- Foam Rolling - this little gem of equipment is a steal for under $20! YouTube has tons of tutorials on how to use the foam roller. By using your body weight and adjusting the pressure as you roll, the fascial tissue gets stimulated and increased blood flow will speed up the recovery process. Similar to a sports massage, there is one thing to know- if it hurts, you found the spot that needs the help. This is something you can actually do daily to several times a day, and even when your muscles are cold.