In need of some motivation to stick your head from under that cozy blankie at 6AM to head out for the gym?
Think of the payoffs! And not any non-specific, good-for-all-of-us payoffs, such as: “We get stronger if we slave to the gym twice a week”. Think specifically about you and what you can get out of your training. Think how the exercise you are about to perform will translate into the better,s tronger you when you need it.
OK, enough of abstract blah-blah. Example: You are a skier. Every year, on multiple occasions, you visit our local Snowbowl and once a winter, you go for a full week of white powder paradise to Colorado. And your dream is not to feel that the highlight of each and every of these outings is that full-sodium fare soup you get at the skiing shack. You dream of, actually, effortlessly (or as close to effortlessly as possible) gliding down the slopes, feeling the good burn in your leg, core and arm muscles, feeling flexible, healthy and 1005 oxygenated. You dream of feeling good.
So, what does it have in common with that dreadful feeling at 6AM when your bones simply refuse to get a grip and get outta that bed?
A lot. Believe me, things will get easier if and when you manage to convince yourself that vigorously exercising six times a week will result in that wonderful, yet distant, great feeling on the Colorado slopes. You want to toss in some planning, too. So, the evening “before”, always have a plan what you are going to do, in terms of the exercise, the following morning. Prepare the right clothes. Go for aerobic activity (preferably outdoors), weight, balance, and flexibility training daily. Target somehow the muscles you will need the most for your particular carrot activity, dangling at the end of the stick. In case of the skiing, it might be lots of exercises focused on the legs, specifically the quadriceps, quite a core workout (maybe a Pilates session or two to address that?) and strong biceps. Yes, actually, you do need strong arms and biceps to ski! Remember that last time on the slope when, as a result of you holding the skiing poles, your biceps started aching well before your legs? Also plan to address the flexibility, so you feel ready and flexible when hitting the slopes.
Do you feel stagnated, not moving forward? Even if you do dutifully put in your gym time every Mon, Wed and Fri, and on the alternating days, you take that hike?
Maybe you need something more challenging?
Isn’t the fitness all about non-stagnation?
What can you do next?
What do you want to do which you have not done yet?
Going out of our comfort zone, anyone?
I guarantee, stepping that hard step out of your cozy place WILL bring you that much closer to your goals, both fitness- and other-wise.
Go for it, I do know you can do it!
Stay Fit-Fit, as always!
Oftentimes, I am asked which type of applications and electronic devices I am using at present.
The bad news is that I am somewhat electronically- and device-challenged, meaning that I only use these devices when I really must. And when I use them, I bet I do it at 10% of their potential, having not discovered all the cool stuff they can offer to me! The array and the vastness of possibilities simply scare me. Oh, well, it must be personal, because then, our 12-year-old daughter comes and claims it is all SOOO EASY to navigate!
My point of view (and the lame excuse not to go too wired) is that instead of watching TV, I better go out and exercise. Instead of letting my computer know what I ate and see if it is happy with my daily consumption, I just eat healthy. To the best of my knowledge.
After all, we should have an upper paw over the devices! You’d not believe how many times I get into the discussion that this or that person is REALLY going to start their walking program, but only upon the reception of their newest pedometer/watch/tracking device. Which is either not ordered by that person yet, or on the backorder, or on its way, but the UPS delivered the product to Kansas, nor Arizona. So, tough luck, no walking for now, until the infamous pedometer arrives to let us know how much we walk. Only then, we REALLY will beat all the records and we will REALLY go for it!
In terms of the applications, as far as I am aware, there are quite lots of choices to track both your exercise habits and the nutrition. You might check the HealthyOut application, or the Fooducate one. Also, visit EatRight.org or WHfoods.org. Fitness can be relatively easily tracked with the help of, for example, MyFitnessPal.
I’d just suggest, don’t postpone starting your good eating or exercise habits until you become an expert at tracking it all by your devices. The app should be of help to you and you should not feel obliged to “report” to it. I have seen cases where a person let it go for a day or two and intentionally did not record the data from these two days, so it does not “look” bad on the app. Who are we kidding here? Or, the person would eat poorly “because” they did not have access to their app, so they felt it was OK to indulge…
Personally, I do not use any applications. I do use, however, two heart monitor watches, one by Garmin (920XT) and one by Polar (V800). I use them to maintain a reasonable load of training, not to overtrain, and mainly to monitor my heart rates and distances while I train. But if I forget to charge them or forget to wear them, I still train without them, to the best of my capabilities. In such a situation, I simply go by the ‘feeling”. I just refuse to become too dependent on these devices.
A few months ago, I read somewhere that at the elite level of running, some athletes would, actually, not use the watch from time to time. It teaches them to tune in with their bodies at a different level and to experience how one mile of run at this or that approximate pace “feels”. I found it to be quite an interesting, fresh and valuable thing to do in today’s world, which is excessively computer-obsessed.
Why is it so important to me that my daughter likes to exercise? And, by "exercising", I mean both activities, structured around the gyms, studios, and soccer and other fields, and the games and other active pursuits, which she likes while not even realizing that she is working out (such as trampoline jumping or running with the dog).
Well, the gains of moving around and living the fit lifestyle early on are exponential. The active lifestyle becomes her habit. It becomes something she is used to do daily. She does not even realize how much energy and willingness some of us, adults, have to put into convincing ourselves to exercise. Daily commute to school by bike makes her a natural to use the same means of transportation when I ask her to run to the store and get some milk. In the future, she might be less dependent on her car to go to work or to the shop.
If Mom and Dad virtually run while running errands, our daughter might copy this behavior and do the same. We are known for occasionally running about 20 miles round-trip from our home to the Walgreens. Not to mention oftentimes running to the post office, my Studio, or the grocery store. She knows about it and is proud that we are able and willing to do it.
She knows that being fit means we are healthy, strong, outgoing, and that we eat really well. Making sure to know how important it is to sufficiently nurture our bodies might make her not buy into any so-called "diets", which unnecessarily deprive us of this or that nutrient. Being fit already makes her oscillate around the like-minded healthy young people. Socializing with them is her training for the future PR, wherever it will happen: on the tennis course or during that local mud race.
Fit friends know the work they put into their respective practices, respecting each other that much more. They are aware that staying fit is, to the extent, hard work, and then, lots of fun, as well.
Being routinely active contributes to her great health now and fares really well in this field for the future. The emotional aspect is important, as well. Our daughter's self-esteem soars after a great Swim team practice. And she feels really proud of the Nutcracker performances she delivers yearly. As a benefit of the substantial daily dose of exercise, all the "good" hormones stay at high levels in her body, making her feel able, capable and happy.
Let's make sure to set a great fitness example for our little ones. They would benefit from it both immediately and later on in their life.
I always start my day with a moment of reflection: how blessed I am to wake up, be healthy, and feel strong and energetic. How great it feels to be me, to be where I am and to be at the point in my life I enjoy right now. I am 45 and I feel so blessed and happy about my life now!
I do not take things for granted and, I guess, this is why I am able to appreciate the present moment so much. I was not an example of health and fitness while a kid. Nowadays, I am much healthier than in the past and I enjoy all the energy I did not have back then. I have known many people, including my family members, being sick, disabled, suffering, and even anxious about the day-to-day survival and making meet the financial ends. All the situational stress creating a huge burden, landing directly on their shoulders. And imagine experiencing all these daily worries if you are not in great health (as the direct result of the circumstances endured)! They went through a lot: wars, both domestic and international, martial state, Iron Curtain woes, and so on. All this left a huge impact on their health and well-being, oftentimes shortening their lives and robbing them of the retirement years.
The first 18 years of my life, until I left Poland, I was behind the Iron Curtain, as well. Back in Poland, where healthy food was not available or granted, you had to queue for bread as of 4 AM. Well before the time the stores were open. So we did not miss our chance to get some basic food. If the bread got delivered to the particular shop where you were queuing, and if they had enough of it so that by the time it was your turn, there was still a loaf on the shelf, you could exchange a governmental coupon and some monies for it. If not, tough luck. Sugar, meat, chocolate, and coffee, even cigarettes: you could get them sometimes, and in exchange for the specific coupons, which all Poles used to receive monthly. So, we ate haphazardly what was available and when it was available. Environment was highly polluted and people were resigned and depressed. I suffered from heavy asthma and constant spells of bronchitis or pneumonia and wore the shoes of my mother. The shoes were three sizes too large, with cotton balls between my toes and their tip to fill the empty space. I hated not having my own shoes which we could not afford, as my foot was ever-growing. We never knew what the so-called ‘tomorrow” would bring. Many families suffered from repressions and persecution of the state. People felt powerless and had no control over their own fates. By the way, the institution of fitness gyms and spas was non-existent –I saw a real gym for the first time when I left the country. Not the best recipe for great health, good mood, fitness and bright future.
So, I guess, it is very easy for me now to be happy and appreciate it all! I just hope that all of us feel, at least to some extent, how privileged we are to live in this great, free country, have a choice of eating healthy, exercising for health and well-being, taking care of ourselves, spending our time on some work, some fun and some travel! Please reflect for a moment how blessed we are. It will only make you feel good. And, perhaps, say a “thank you” each and every morning, for just… being who you are and where you are, and for having all these choices around us!
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.’ - Unknown
I am extremely thrilled to announce my latest accomplishment, from which all of us will surely benefit:
I just renovated a great, warm, inviting, vibrant and much bigger space for my Boutique Be Fit Fit Studio and you are VERY welcome to train with me in there as of today! The new Be Fit Fit Studio is located at 31, Bell Rock Plaza, Suite C (upstairs) which is a block away from its previous location.
Contact me for a tour, to train, or to benefit from the Certified Lifestyle Wellness Coaching sessions I offer - I am in there exclusively by appointment.
Now, once we've got the best Personal Training and Wellness Coaching Studio in town (or, shall I rather say, in the whole great State of Arizona?), there is really no excuse to waste your time and not train. Come in for a nearly impossible abs workout, stretching, balance or weight lifting session or any other fitness endeavor we might sign you for! Come to talk about your wellness or fitness-related goals!
I accept congratulations, flowers, gifts and signs of general admiration at all times!
Your health, your choice! :-) Stay Fit-Fit!
I am often asked about some recipes we use at our home. Below is one of the salmon dinner recipes my husband uses for both of us (all ingredients wild/organic. IF the product claims to be “NATURAL”, it does not mean anything, as this expression is not quantified or qualified by the FDA…):
Place wild (this is the name for the most “organic” salmons we can get) salmon fillets in a pan with a bit of water, fresh or frozen vegetable mix, season with your favorite seasonings, perhaps pepper and lemon juice or a half of crushed low-sodium Knorr broth cube or curry power if you like it and simmer until done. Or, alternatively, put it on a griddle/grill sprinkling with pepper and lemon juice, finely chopped cilantro on top of it works very well too. Do not overcook. You might need to sprinkle both recipes additionally with some salt. We do not add salt it for me, but the above version is really mild in taste and my husband, actually, adds some salt to his part (he is still the sane one in this family!!!). You can serve it with quinoa, burglar, and a fresh salad with minimal olive oil and vinegar, or lime or lemon again. Enjoy!
The breakfast is called the most important meal of the day for a reason. What you eat and how much you eat in the early hours sets the tone for the rest of the day. And yes, you should, indeed, eat a breakfast like a king.
First things first: never skip a breakfast. You do not want to “diet” or starve through the day, you want to nurture your body, virtually build the “bricks” which create your body and make it stronger. Which means, you have to fuel your body’s cells appropriately for all the hard work they are doing!
Moreover, if you skip a breakfast, or eat not enough at this time of the day, you will “crash’ later on. Most likely, by reaching for a doughnut during that 3PM meeting at work or/and inhaling a bag of chips in front of the tube in the evening.
When you eat a healthy and voluminous breakfast, your body will not ‘think” it is starving at any point of the day. Therefore, it will not hold on to every and each calorie you get through the day, which results in even more of a fatty tissue stored and even a slower metabolism. In other words, the body will not “think” that the end of the world and some major starvation is near. It will metabolize nutrients you eat at its own pace, much quicker than if the starvation is “imminent”. This will result in you burning more calories through the metabolic process alone, even while watching the TV!
So, what should you eat for a good breakfast? Well, the rules are the same as for the rest of the day: eat “clean”. No processed foods, no white breads/muffins, no sugars. With the exception, put a particular attention to eating lots and lots of proteins (to feel satiated through the day and to build the lean muscle mass) and lots of healthy and fibrous carbs, either from veggies or fruits. Eat low-fat, but perhaps steer away from any “0% fat” fares: these are, typically, overloaded with sugar (just to compensate for the lack of taste which a “no-fat” fare would normally suffer from). 1% or 2% Greek yoghurt is the best (Greek because it has more proteins than any other type of yoghurt, which is due to the way the companies produce it). Sprinkle it with some healthy fats (nuts, seeds: but they have to be plain, not roasted, not salted). Add berries, grapes, slices of kiwi or orange on top. If you feel OK about it, add some half scoop of protein powder. And voila, you have a great breakfast!
Another option: Eggs are great, again because they have so much proteins. They are a natural, non-processed source of good stuff for us. So, hard-boiled, sunny side up, scrambled (use milk or unsweetened apple sauce instead of oil), 1-minute eggs… All are great choices. If you scramble them, add kale, spinach, bell peppers… The more colors you get on the plate, the better! Just make sure not to have any bacon or ham – they are full of chemicals and fats, even if the label says “natural”.
Otherwise, you might want to have some steel-cut oats (the digestive system works harder to digest the steel-cuts, if you compare with how easy it is for it to digest the round oats). Forget commercial oats, go to the bulk section and start from there. Also, cottage cheese, anyone? It is another great source of proteins and calcium. You can also add your protein powder into it, if you wish, it mixes well.
Have fun, stay Fit-Fit and full in a clean way and keep me posted how you are doing!
We all want to improve our speed and strength – plyometric exercises can be very handy here! Do not start any of these without making sure your GP is OK with it and without a few months of strength and aerobic training. Plyometrics tend to become intensive very quickly and, due to their explosive nature, it is easy to get injured.
Always make sure to warm up properly before doing any plyometric exercises. Never warm up with static stretches, where you hold the stretched position for a while. Warm up with either a jog or 10 min. on the rowing machine, or dynamic stretches (such as marathoner’s legs, single knee tucks to the chest, butt kicks, and so on). Typically, plyo exercises do not take you long time anyway, because they are so tiring, so you might invest all that time into a solid warm-up. You might do them once or maximally twice a week or intercept your weight training session with some of them: do them between weight lifting sets instead of resting, you’ll get even fitter – fast! Progress from low to high intensity and do not use any weight or wrist ankles for this type of movement. Beginners should aim at about 80-100 ground contacts during a typical session, while the intermediate exercisers will aim at 100-120 and advanced – 120 to 140.
Plyometrics will get you out of breath very quickly and also, they will make you feel that muscle burn super quick. This is the kind of discomfort you want to achieve, but if anything aches in a sharp way, stop, as this will lead to an injury.
Plyometrics are great for the prevention of bone loss as we age – each impact movement makes our bones that much stronger! Also, they quickly contribute to increased power, speed and strength, as well as coordination. Perform them quickly. The simplest example of a plyo movement is rope jumping. You might also try squat jumps, vertical jumps, lateral jumps, burpees, jumps over a box or cone, depth jumps, or front or side jumps onto a plyometric box (or a step). If it is too challenging to start from jumps onto a box, then work on jumping from the box down! Land on soft knees: The lower you squat following the landing, the better the workout (you will feel it in your quadriceps and gluteal muscles, I promise!). Also, try ‘froggy jumps”, i.e. squat in place and, from that immobile position, jump as far in front of you as you possibly can! Repeat 20 times! Jogging and running is also a form of plyometric exercise: you have to move your legs relatively fast, and each step is, actually, a one-leg jump! For the upper body, you may want to try the following plyo challenges, using a sand bell or a medicine ball: squat throws, overhead throws, side throws, throws to the back over your head, slams of the ball onto the ground with a simultaneous deep squat, one -arm overhead throws, or even plyo push-ups (hands over the ground [tougher] or over a box [easier]. Once you master these, place your feet on a plyo box and perform plyo push-ups with your hands over the ground – this is a real challenge!
Aim at completing 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps of every exercise you choose to do and in between the sets, rest plenty (or do your weight training).
It all starts around the Thanksgiving time and, well, does not end until a few days after the New Year. Season parties, sometimes two a night, all the frenzy of gift-buying, sending the cards – be it by the snail mail or in their electronic version – while trying to manage our usual daily lives and duties… Our days have not enough of hours, our nutrition slacks and the first thing to “go” and not happen is your daily visit to the gym or your daily walk.
A recipe for physical and mental disaster.
Did you know that the stress hormones, which peak when we stress and also, as a result of sleepless nights, can contribute to the expanding waistlines? They have this sneaky way of working in a way that, in January, as a result, we wake up and notice this additional muffin top which was not there in November! Apart from the weight issue, stress contributes to heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, back pains, migraines, headaches, cancer, diabetes and, generally, weakens our immune systems big time.
Time to get an upper hand over this mess!
First things first: Make sure you get 7-8 hours of the shut eye every single night. Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon hours and try not to drink alcohol, as well – typically, when we drink, we feel relaxed and might fall asleep, but after that first cycle of sleep, lasting about 90 minutes, we will wake up and lie and toss from right to left, not being able to fall asleep again. This is a case of a secondary insomnia, triggered by our body’s response to metabolizing the alcohol and its by-products. You might try some relaxation techniques before going to bed, or have a few drops of lavender essential oil diffused in your bedroom. Make sure the bedroom is quiet, quite cold (this promotes good sleep) and do not watch TV or use electronics for about one hour before your bed time: the light of the screen might cause you having trouble relaxing and fall asleep. Try meditation instead. Some 15 minutes just before your bed time should do the trick.
Second: Nurture yourself. I know, easy said, while in reality, you have to run from one party to another and simply cannot walk in there and… refuse to eat! Make sure you eat really well while things are in your hands, i.e. at your home or at work. Prepare lunch box for the office to minimize the damage. Before any party, drink two glasses of water or, even better, have a glass and a small healthy snack. This way, you won’t be ravenous once arriving at the party. If it is not a buffet, but a seated affair, eat little, comment how you really, but really love the dish and ask the Hostess to give you some more to bring home with you – somehow, you are not too hungry now. It will make the Hosts happy that you like the dish and you will relax as you won’t feel obliged to eat all that turkey.
Third: Prioritize, be it in terms of which party you go to, where you shop for the gifts, and also, in terms of keeping that daily appointment with yourself to exercise. It is your time and you deserve it and your body will thank you for it by being healthy and fit for years to come! You even might want to mark your walk or gym time in the calendar, just like any other “obligation” or appointment of the day, and stick to it.
Fourth: Smile! And smile often! Approach things from the positive point of view. See the good things about any situation you are in and try to minimize the negatives. Just this should make you more relaxed!
Good luck and have a great Holiday Season!