You might be able to exercise till the cows come home, but that won't keep all of the unwanted fat off of your body. Proper nutrition is the key to getting the body fat off, especially in your mid-section. It can be a slow process; going from a diet full of highly processed food-like substances and bad fats to a diet rich in whole, organic foods. When I look back at my own journey, I was eating completely differently 5 years ago. Each year I made small adjustments as I became more educated on the toxic food I was consuming. So don't get discouraged! It's a learning process that takes baby steps and some trial and error to fully grasp. And we are all on that journey together because nobody makes the perfect food choices 100% of the time. Here are some tips that have helped me make smarter, healthier choices:
Prepare: This is the by far the hardest part about eating for health! We have to think-ahead and plan out our meals because if we don't, we will find ourselves starving for food and making quick, last minute, poor food decisions. I like to take two days out of the week (ex: Wed & Sun) and prepare as many meals or snacks that I can on those days so that I can grab things when I am in a hurry.
80/20: Allow yourself a little bit of cheating...otherwise you will go nuts & give up. If you plan to eat healthy 80% of the time and give yourself some room to cheat about 20% of the time, you will feel more satisfied and still have some quality of life because let's face it-food can be fun & enjoyable. So if your thing is wine...instead of drinking a few glasses of wine most nights of the week, change it up to drinking 2 glasses of wine every Saturday. This will give you something to look forward to and allow you to cheat without completely sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Hydrate: Water is a necessity in weight loss and chances are, you aren't drinking enough. You should aim to drink 1/2 of your body weight in fluid ounces. If you are exercising and/or sweating a lot, add on another 10-20 ounces. So, if you weigh 140 lbs, you should try to drink 75-80 ounes of purified water each day.
Weigh Once a Week: Forget weighing yourself every morning. Our bodies' hydration levels are always fluctuating, which effect the numbers on your scale. Instead, plan to weigh yourself once a week at the same time each week. This will help keep you in line with your weight loss goals, but not obsess about it every single day.
Journal: I never knew how much mindless snacking I was doing until I wrote it down. Keeping a food journal will open your eyes to how much you are eating and drinking and how often you are doing it. It makes you accountable for every bite, so you might think twice about eating that bag of chips if you have to write it down. Try it for a few weeks to get yourself back in line...I promise it will help!
Meal Sizes: Breakfast and lunch should be bigger meals than your dinner. All meals should be a mix of good carbs, proteins, and fats but at dinnertime, you should eliminate starchy carbs (like potatoes or rice). Your dinner should consist of protein and vegetables, such as a stir-fry without rice or a grilled chicken & avocado salad with a homemade vinagrette.
Listen to your Body: Are you gassy after a meal? What was in that meal that made you feel bloated and tired? By paying attention to what is going on 1-2 hours after your meal, you may be able to eliminate foods that don't agree with you. It can be a trial and error, but definitely worth the effort. For example, maybe you don't digest dairy well and your snack of cheese & apples could be substituted with cashews and an apple.
I hope these tips will help you on your journey to health & weight loss. If you have any questions or would like a more detailed nutrition plan, let me know! I am also going to be hosting a group cleanse so email me if you are interested in joining this motivational program.
A client of mine came into today to train and was extremely stressed out about a career move that could potentially make him a lot of money, but would require him to use even more of his time each day. He already works a 60 hour week and makes enough money now to support his family and save for his retirement. His current career already has caused sleep issues and a stomach digestion problem and now he is considering adding more onto his plate. He wants to make enough money to put towards his future, but at what cost? Is any of that going to be worth it in 10-15 years if you aren't healthy enough to enjoy the money you have worked so hard for?
Do you know the major health issues that stress causes? Stress weakens our immune systems, making us more suceptible to catching colds, flus, and other infections. It raises our blood pressure, increases our heart rate (possibly causing palpations), and creates anxiety and inflammation in our bodies. It upsets our stomachs, digestion, and can cause bowel issues. Stress can lead to backaches, headaches, and even sleep problems. It also makes us fatter! It raises our cortisol levels, which packs on fat around our mid-sections, giving us that muffin top or beer belly look that is so unattractive and unhealthy.
What we really need to do is sit back and assess what is truly important in our lives. Are we going to regret not spending more time with our family and less time at work? And if we don't take the time out to give ourselves some TLC, all of the hard work, long hours, and intense stress will not even matter if we aren't healthy enough to enjoy what we have worked so hard for.
Nothing combats stress like a workout, whether it is just a walk or an intense boot camp class. And taking a few minutes out of each day to take a "time out" and allow yourself to step away from your work is absolutely necessary for your physical and mental health. So go ahead and take that 15 minute nap, send your friend an email, or read your mindless romance novel. You deserve to give yourself that time each day and in turn, it will make you a better friend, parent, spouse, or partner.
Do you feel like you do things to make yourself feel like the strong, amazing person that you are? Or are you guilty of unconciously sabotaging your special moment, day, job, or event? Since I am currently working on this area of my life, I thought I would share some ideas of how to make your own life a little better by exercising these ways to improve the way you feel each day.
Self talk: Do you say things to yourself that will help empower you? Do you boost yourself up before an interview, speech, or even task at work? If the answer is "no", then why not? We need to become more aware of what we are saying to ourselves and how this might be affecting how we act, how well we speak, or even our attitude towards the day. If I start my day off saying "Today is going to suck. I have so much to do and will never get to any of it, I am exhausted and I look and feel like crap"-am I going to have an enjoyable day? If I tell myself that "these people are going to think I don't know anything" before I give speech, am I setting myself up for a good presentation? I have noticed that when I think these nasty thoughts, I actually act the way I am negatively predicting things will turn out.
Our thoughts, the inner voice that speaks to us can have a HUGE impact on the outcome of everything we do. We need to become aware of this voice that speaks to us and change the negative thinking into something positive and uplifting. How do we do this? We need to start writing it down; whenever we think an awful thought we need to stop, become aware of what you are saying, and jot it down. Once the thought becomes visible, come up with a "comeback" for that nasty comment. For example, "Our house is a mess and the company that is coming over is going to think that I am a dirty slob" can be changed into: "Our friends understand why our house isn't as clean as it used to be, we have two little ones! I will get to the cleaning on the weekend and not worry about it because it doesn't truly matter."
Music: Take a moment out of each day to listen to one song that truly makes you happier! Whether it be gospel, Madonna, or an old-school hip-hop song....let that one 4 minute moment re-energize and uplift you and set the tone for your day. Kids around? Get them involved-dance your way across the kitchen while you make your oatmeal.
Time out: Are you guilty for not giving yourself an ounce of "me" time? Even if it's just a bath, 15 minutes to enjoy a mindless article in a magazine, or some deep breathing, we all need to take a moment each day to chill out and do something that we enjoy for ourselves before our head hits the pillow.
Food: How do you feel when you eat that cinnamon crunch bagel with hazelnut cream cheese? Crappy? Are you eating your way to having a clear mind, loads of energy, and a positive self image? I know I feel awful about myself when I eat a bunch of refined carbs that weigh me down and make me feel bloated. When I enjoy salads, fresh fruit, green smoothies, and warm vegetarian soups I feel good that I feel energy, healthier, and happy that I am giving my body the nutrients it craves.
Are there other ways you can make your days happier and more satisfying? Please share so we can all feel more empowered to be better equiped to take on the stresses of our daily lives.
Do you know the real benefits behind strength training? Many women are scared off by the thought of picking up a weight, for fear that they will end up looking like "He-Man". And, there are tons of folks who think that it's best to stick to cardio to promote weight loss. Here is the truth: while cardio workouts are important to burn calories and improve your cardiovascular system, you will not actually shape your body and burn fat unless you add in some strength training. In addition to that, there is an enormous list of mental benefits! And to those women who fear the weights, you will not bulk up unless you take a ton of unhealthy steroid-like supplements or you are genetically shaped to grow larger muscles.
There is a huge list of reasons why you should pick up those weights and resistance bands. Here are some of the many reasons why you need to strength train at least 2-3 days a week:
-the more lean muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn naturally doing your everyday activities
-it lowers your risk of cardiovascular events (strokes, heart attacks, etc....)
-it improves your body composition (i.e., more lean muscle, less flab and cellulite)
-it improves glucose (sugar) metablism and insulin sensitivity, which is amazing for diabetics!
-it lowers blood pressure
-it improves your quality of sleep
-it improves your brain's ability to function (i.e., memory, quicker thinking, decision making)
-it lowers anxiety
-it improves your self-esteem
-it reduces depression
-it reduces fatigue
Not sure how to start a strength training program? Attend a strength training class or hire a personal trainer to set-up a resistance training program designed specifically for you. This way, you will know what to do, how many times to do it, and also have the correct form which makes all the difference. Good luck!!!
October is a great month for crisp weather, beautiful colors, and delicious foods! I am looking forward to our annual trip to the apple orchard with my family. Which reminds me that we should be eating organic apples, whenever possible, because apples take the title for the #1 "dirtiest" produce, as far as pesticides go. The following is a list of the 2011 "Dirty Dozen", which means these are the fruits and veggies with the most pesticide exposure:
8. Sweet bell peppers
12. Kale/collard greens
The "Clean 15" are the following fruits and veggies with the lowest levels of pesticides, so there's no need to spend extra money on organic versions:
2. Sweet corn
6. Sweet peas
13. Sweet Potatoes
For a free download, check out: www.ewg.org/foodnews/
I have talked to so many frustrated people who can't seem to get their excess weight off, no matter what they try. I have some questions that you should ask yourself that just might help you reevaluate your current health regimen. Maybe it's time to ramp it up???? (If you are trying all of these tips and still see no progress, then it's time to see a medical professional.)
-Are you eating 5-6 small meals each day? Eating every 3-4 hours keeps your metabolism up and constantly running, your blood sugar levels from plummeting too low, and your body from entering starvation mode (in which you tend to overeat when you do eat again!). Depending on your weight, you should be eating 5-6 meals of about 250-400 calories each.
-Are you aware of what you are putting into your mouth? So many times I have had clients say that they are "eating healthy" and still not able to drop weight. When this happens, I ask them to record their food intake for one week and let me look at their food journals. It almost never fails....once they write down what they are eating, their eyes are opened to their diet mistakes-whether it be skipping meals, eating out too often, consuming too much sodium, not eating a healthy breakfast, eating too late at night, etc...Keeping a food journal is imperative to keeping you eating healthy.
Are you really pushing yourself when you workout? Often times, when we work out alone or even with a partner, we get into a cycle of working out so it's somewhat enjoyable and comfortable. Am I right? Are you guilty of this? I think we all are! It may be time to step it up and take your body out of your comfort zone, even if it's just for a few minutes each workout, when you first start out. Working up to your "anaerobic threshold" is when you workout to a point when you are "without oxygen". This is the point where it is uncomfortable to carry on a conversation and you are pushing your body past that enjoyable stage. Here is how you can do this: add 30-50 jump squats (3-4 times) into your elliptical workout, do 3-4 sets of push-ups to failure (resting in between), do intervals when you are walking (speed walk/jog for 1-2 minute intervals), or come and see me and I will surely give you some more hands-on ideas!!! Doing this will help shed fat off of your body, boost your cardiovascular levels, and burn calories like never before. Remember-to see a change, you need to push your body past your comfort zone.
One of my favorite quotes of all time: "Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone"-Neale Donald Walsch
Are You Eating Protein With Each Meal? Adding protein to each snack/meal that you eat will keep you satisfied longer and help keep your blood sugar from spiking or dropping too low. Here are some snacks to try that all have a healthy ratio of good fats, carbohydrates, and proteins: 8 almonds & a small apple, whey protein shake & 1/2 medium banana, 1 cup of greek yogurt with bluberries and raspberries, 1/2 avocado (with lime juice & a little salt) with 8 whole grain crackers, 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal with chopped walnuts, apples, and 1 tsp maple syrup, 1/2 english muffin with 1 tbsp almond butter and 1/2 banana, or a green smoothie & a small handful of nuts
Are you getting enough shut eye? Allowing your body to get enough rest will help you restore your energy levels so you can have a good workout, keep your stress levels under control, and repair your muscle tissue. Studies have shown that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night tend to weigh more than people who get 7-8 hours/night. Sleeping too little doesn't allow your body to recuperate and increases the hormones that control your appetite! It also enhances your cortisol levels (your stress hormones) which adds to the fat around your midsection. Set a personal goal to get 8 hours of sleep each night.
Are you Getting Enough Exercise? One pound=3,500 calories. To burn off 1 pound of fat/week, you would need to cut 500 calories out of your daily routine. You should be working out 5-6 days a week and having a goal of at least 500 calories burned/workout. You should aim to workout for a minimum of 40 minutes, if you want to see a difference in your body. If you are trying to lose a little more weight/week, try to cut the rest of the calories out of your diet. (A SAFE weight loss is 1-1.5 lbs/week!)
Are you Eating Breakfast? This one I know you have heard before, but it's amazing how many people still skip breakfast because they are not hungry. Even if the thought of food disgusts you in the morning, eat something small: a yogurt, 1/2 apple with natural peanut butter, small handful of almonds, etc....Eating breakfast starts your metabolism for the day and breaks the "fast" that you have had all night when you were sleeping.
I guess I could go on and on here, but these are hopefully going to help you to lose that excess weight that you seem to keep holding onto. Good luck & remember-getting healthy and losing weight is a SLOW, steady process. It took a lot of time to get un-healthy and gain the weight that you have on your body now, so don't expect it to shed right off of you overnight. Give yourself some time & try my tips. Hope this helps!
I always worry around this time of year because I train my clients less often and participation in group exercise classes goes down. There are cookie parties, work holiday functions, family gatherings, children's school plays, lots of shopping, decorations to be hung, etc...
However, I would like to remind everyone of the importance of keeping on track during the holiday season. You certainly should not let yourself go and pack on the pounds that you have worked so hard to get off! I know that you don't want to feel awful come the 1st of the year, so here are a few ideas for you to keep your motivated during this holiday season:
1. Workout Early: I find that when I workout first thing in the morning, I feel better all day long, my energy levels are high, and I am proud of myself for getting a workout done and out of the way! You are more likely to actually get a workout in when you workout early because there are a number of fun things to do after work or later on the weekend nights.
2. Set a few short-term goals: Try to set a few 4-week goals for yourself so that you have something to work towards during all of the festivities. Write them down & keep them somewhere that you will see everyday, like on your dresser or your bathroom mirror. Some ideas for short-term goals: get in 5 workouts/week for the next 4 weeks, don't eat anything after 8pm, maintain my current weight, attend 3 classes/week at Empowerment Fitness, limit myself to only 1 small dessert or drink at every holiday function, workout every morning before work, drink a green smoothie every day, run twice/week, etc....
3. Prepare Yourself: When I know that I am going to run first thing in the morning, I set myself up for success the night before. I lay out my clothes & shoes, headphones, winter hat, etc....Or if you are heading to the gym or Empowerment Fitness, put your clothes in your car so you have no excuse not to head straight to your workout after you leave work!
4. Find a Partner: I am sure you have heard this before, but having someone to check in with and keep you on track is KEY when keeping up with your workouts. If you have any trouble staying self-motivated to reach your fitness goals, you should seriously consider finding a partner to workout with or a personal trainer to keep you on track. (Plus it is more fun!) Make sure that your partner is willing to workout to your intensity so that you don't start slacking!!! (Let me know if you need help finding a workout partner.)
5. Everyone Has a Bad Day: If you screw up and eat a few too many Christmas cookies or don't get in your workout one day, don't let that sabotage your entire week, month or beyond! Everyone makes mistakes, so keeping a positive attitude and forgiving yourself for messing up is crucial. This way, you can start fresh after a rough day and remind yourself that your health is imperative to yourself, your friends, and your family.
With all of this said, I do hope you have a wonderful holiday season! I am thankful for having all of you in my life and I will continue to try to find ways to keep you and your family healthier and happier as much as possible. Happy Holidays!!!!