exercise

let's close the {thigh} gap.

in an effort to become a better trainer, nutritionist and woman, I regularly thumb through the blogs of Jen Sinkler and Molly Galbraith - super strong, amazing women in the industry. I mean, I'm pretty sure you get stronger by simply being in the presence of these women. and I'm into that. so, I stumbled upon a blog post by Jen entitled, "closing the (thigh) gap" in which she referenced Molly: so if your feet are together and your thighs don't touch, that's called a Thigh Gap

what's it called if your feet are 4 inches apart and your thighs still touch?

oh yeah. 

Dem Quadz...

and couldn't stop thinking about it. because, yeah, quads are super sexy and this Thigh Gap trend really should be put to shame. Instead of focusing on the spaces between our muscles, shouldn't we be focusing on our muscles? Instead of trying to make ourselves smaller, what if we spent the same effort making ourselves stronger? I'll tell you what would happen, truly amazing things. Imagine the feeling of pride when you look at your body and see strength, instead of shame when your masses fill the spaces that society told you should be there.

hear me on this: bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. some thighs touch, and others don't. some collar bones are naturally defined, and others aren't. some hips are wide and others, not so much. and that's beautiful. shame doesn't belong here. whether it's fat shaming or thin shaming. let's work to remove it altogether. because real women have bodies. a certain size or shape does not make you superior. There is no wrong way to have a body (Glenn Marla).

And if we break it down, for some of us, the Thigh Gap is an absolutely ridiculous goal. this seemingly desirable space between ones legs is determined, not only by what we do in the gym, or what we eat in the kitchen, but by our God-given (mom + pops get credit here too) body type, our pelvic structure and tendon length. So by all means, work hard. kick ass in the gym. eat salads, eat burgers, eat WELL. but don't waste your goals on something as demoralising and aesthetically foolish as a larger space between your legs. because, let's face it, the Thigh Gap is all about reducing the mass - muscle and fat - that holds up the rest of your skeleton…and yeah…walking around with two toothpicks for legs sounds like a super smart idea. Don't let your self worth be determined by the circumference of any part of your body. pick a goal that a. makes a scrap of sense, b. lifts you up, c. and makes you a stronger athlete/woman/human being.

have you seen those "are they legs or are they hot dogs" illustrations?

ladies, I think we can do better than striving for shapeless casings of meat for legs. a whole hell of a lot better.

in my world, big, strong thighs are coveted. because stronger quads means a stronger squat. and a stronger squat means a better booty…but we'll save that for another post. what's that you say? you don't care to squat? don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying everyone needs to squat with a barbell on their back. in fact, I wouldn't recommend it for some. but, I can assure you. whether you know it or not, you squat. when was the last time you sat down to eat? squat. when was the last time you got in or out of a car? squat. when was the last time you went to the bathroom? squat.

I don't' know about you, but I want to be going to the bathroom on my own two feet for a very, very long time. so excuse me if these thighs touch, but I couldn't care less. #demquadz

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

 

calm the F down.

this week I've been stuck inside my head. so stuck that I'm almost tired of listing to the running commentary that is my inner dialogue. let me tell you, this brain can take overanalysing to a whole new level. I'm gearing up for this crazy thing that my boyfriend is making me do. just kidding, I signed up for this myself (with more than a little coercion). buuuut I'm freaking out just a little. on paper, my job is to serve people in such a capacity that I can help them make their health and fitness goals become reality. but really, my job is mostly to tell people to get over their sh*t and start believing in themselves. we all have those sabotaging tapes that play over and over in our heads that tell us we're not good enough - strong enough - thin enough to accomplish X Y + Z. and when a client tells me something to that extent, I am the first to call BS and say, yes, yes you can. you ARE good enough, strong enough…you just have to be brave enough. and while I'm very good at calling other people on their sheeeeeit, sometimes I need someone to call me on mine.

and well, that happened. I may have voiced some idea about not being good enough at a certain something and I got put in my place. and rightly so. because you don't get better at something by being great at it. no one is born a champion. champions are made. they are ordinary people who decide to be extraordinary by putting in the work; committing to the grind, day after day, and getting back up after they fall. again and again. the best things come from failure, from trial and error, from fear and bravery and practice. practice, practice, practice. I once heard someone say, if you're not willing to look stupid, nothing great will ever happen to you. so here it goes. bring it on. failure, success, fear, nervous urination (this one's for you ladies). because dammit, I want great things to happen to me. no, I want to make great things happen.

so, in an effort to get out of my head, I'm finding strength in the words of others. maybe they will speak to you as well.

 

 

so, team, let's go do this thing. I'll be the one in the singlet. and for everyone else, go do something that scares you half to death.

and babe, thank you for believing in me, even when I don't have the strength to believe in myself.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

 

 

"I hate my body" is keeping us fat.

91% of women are unhappy with their bodies + resort to some form of extreme dieting/exercise routine in pursuit of the 'ideal body',   and only 5% of women naturally possess the body type most often portrayed by Americans in the media. 

 

ladies, we have a problem. it's called positive body image. we have none.

body image: how one sees herself when looking in the mirror; encompassing ones beliefs about her body, how one feels about her height, weight and shape, and how one feels IN her body.

negative body image: a distorted perception of ones shape. the belief that ones body size/shape is a sign of personal failure and unattractive when compared to others, often accompanied by feelings of shame, self-consciousness and anxiety.

positive body image: a clear, true perception of ones shape. appreciation of ones body along with the recognition that physical appearance does not dictate personal value, often accompanied by feelings of confidence and comfort.

we are surrounded by the message that our bodies exists purely for the envy and pleasure of other people. as women, our job [according to the media] is to satisfy our significant others, look great in clothes off-the-rack and make other women jealous. and because that's the case, we spend our lives making choices that promise to make us "thin", "skinny" or "attractive". forget about doing something because it will keep us healthy and agile well into our grey-haired years, or because we might actually enjoy it. there is the occasional "confidence is sexy" message touted to the masses. it's allllll about the bass, right!? but are we pursuing confidence because it's appealing to other people and makes us more attractive in the eyes of those around us? or because it's good for our minds, bodies, and our hearts?

on a regular basis we are bombarded with messaging that tells us that our main duties [as women] are to be desirable, please others and attract men. get rid of all of your body hair! keep your skin wrinkle free! get rid of those love handles! do everything humanly possible - and maybe even some questionable inhumane things - to fit into those skinny jeans! because oh my goodness, otherwise someone might think you're less than worthy. of what? I have no idea.

your relentless pursuit of that 'bikini body', 'beach ready butt', or 'supermodel legs' probably won't lead to a fulfilling relationship with your body image, and it probably won't lead to a sustainable and effective workout routine either. eating grapefruit for 47 days straight or drinking only green juices won't give you a greater sense of self or do anything for your confidence. you'll just be a cranky lady whose pooping her brains out every other hour. all in the name of beauty! I don't know about you, but that's not the definition of beauty that I aspire to live up to.

so where to go from here - try establishing your goals: fitness, nutrition, health and otherwise, based on your own objectives, not those society wants for you. forget eating for a six-pack and just eat well. don't workout to get skinny, just workout to feel well. don't live your life in the pursuit of a magazine cover body, just live well. you just might find that you feel better about who you are, how you look, and what your body can DO. Our culture has conditioned us all to believe that being healthy is no fun at all. well no kidding! starving yourself and being a slave to the elliptical sounds absolutely terrible! what do you love? what feels good? hiking? do it. swimming? yes. lifting weights? go for it girlfriend! having a body, respecting your body, and maybe even one day loving your body, feels really damn good.

so let's stop looking outside of ourselves to accept what we should look like, what we should do to get there and how we should feel about ourselves. look inward. find things that are fun, rewarding and life enhancing and do more of THAT.

your body is amazing. your body can do amazing things. yes, it's imperfect and might wobble a little at times, or maybe your legs get little bumps and ripples when you walk, or your belly rolls when you sit down. but that's okay. your size doesn't dictate who you are, but your strength, that does.

"what are you going to do, diet every day to make people happy? that's just dumb."  - Jennifer Lawrence 

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

yoga is good for you. like, really really great.

yoga. n. that class bendy people take wearing really tight pants.  sort of. but there's a heckofa lot more to it than that.

regardless of how tight you like your trousers, yoga is good for you. yes, YOU. and here's why:

1. yoga is a great form of active recovery. 

it allows you to encourage movement on your non-lifting days without compromising your rest. you should always feel better leaving yoga than when you walked in…sometimes that can't be said after a muscle crushing strength workout.

2. yoga encourages kinaesthetic awareness. 

very few things allow you to connect with your body as much as floating through poses, barefoot and unassisted. yoga forces you to listen to your body, which will only beget stronger lifts at the gym.

3. yoga improves mobility and flexibility. 

when was the last time you tried to touch your toes? can you? if not, you've got a major situation going on that your 70 year-old self will wish you had corrected, like, yesterday. it's all about movement efficiency. and that's what's great about practicing yoga - it's not about how much you can lift or what the plates on your bar say…it's about mobilising your body in a way that facilitates longevity of movement.

4. yoga mandates moderation. 

"moderation is key", right? you can't give 100% in the gym every day. that's not going to result in anything good. lifting is hard. sprinting is hard. working out in general, is hard. high-intensity work needs to be balanced with lower-intensity training in order for you to be truly well and healthy. slow down. find the balance. take a rest day.

5. yoga encourages belly breathing. 

take a deep breath. now look down and take another one. chances are good that your chest rose on the inhale and fell on the exhale. am I right? as we age we worry about "keeping it sucked in" and we lose the art of belly (diaphragmatic) breathing, and expand through our chest as opposed to our abdomen. yoga encourages belly breathing - a healthier way to breathe - and reduces cortisal levels (a belly-fat producing hormone), lessens anxiety and depression, and, encourages pain-free movement and proper body alignment. who knew, right?

6. yoga keeps you humble. 

but seriously. have you ever tried balancing on one leg? with your arms in the air? holding that pose for 10 deep [belly] breaths? that's what I thought. in yoga, you can't cheat yourself out of anything. yoga challenges you to appreciate what your body can do while accepting what it can't…currently. It cannot be forced. you have to listen to your body and practice, practice, practice.

7. yoga breeds a non-competitive environment.

now hear me out. some of you read that and thought, "not for me!" I know, I know, you're all, grrrr. hear-me-roar, and that's great! there's a time and a place for a little healthy competition, but yoga encourages an atmosphere of acceptance that eliminates negative comparisons. I strongly believe that if we all accepted that comparison is the thief of joy and practiced self- and body-acceptance, the world would be a better place. that's what I'll say in my Miss American speech anyway…competition can be blinding. yoga centers you on ease of movement and personal progression.

8. yoga makes you strong. 

you can deadlift 2x your bodyweight? do a set of unassisted pull-ups like a pro? great. how are you with crow pose? yoga might surprise you by making you stronger as it encourages multi-joint movements and wakes up muscles you might not use on the regular. be functional. be mobile. be strong. be someone who can bench press like the best of them AND hold chaturanga.

If you're looking to try a class - or just looking to further your practice - emPower is starting a yoga class on October 18th. Saturdays at 9am. what better way to start your weekend!? I'll be there. all are welcome! feel free to email me for more information: nnmarie@gmail.com.

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

8 Things Your Personal Trainer Wants You To Know

1. Our time together cannot undo a week of poor decisions.  Are you willing to make health and fitness a lifestyle? A full-time commitment? If not, training is an expensive waste of time. Regardless of how hard you workout in the gym a few hours a week, it won't make up for the other 163 hours you spend eating, sleeping and living poorly throughout the week. A good trainer encourages you to make good decisions both in and outside of the gym.

2. "I don't like vegetables" stopped being an acceptable answer after age 5. 

I mean, really? Have you tried all of them? And you hate every single one? …or do you just hate the idea of eating something green? Even if you do, part of being an adult is doing things not because we always enjoy them, but because we know we have to in order to get the results we want. Case and point: veggies. Try eating like a grownup and you just might be surprised at the outcome.

3. "More" doesn't always mean "better". 

A wise man once said, "anyone can make you tired, not everyone can make you better". So those two-a-days, Crossfit workouts at lunch and training at night, and those of you who think rest days are for sissys…you couldn't be more wrong. Depending on your goals and exercise intensity, doing too many workouts can be counterproductive. Make sure your trainer knows how you're cross-training when you're outside the studio to ensure that every workout brings you closer to your goals.

4. Stop saying you don't have time. 

Because I don't believe you. We are all blessed with 24 hours in each day, and it's up to us to decide how we spend that time. What you mean to say is that proper nutrition and exercise aren't priorities. And that's okay. That's your choice and I can't argue with that. But then perhaps it's time to re-evaluate what you think you're getting out of your half-assed training sessions. Be honest with yourself and be honest with me.

5. Working out while undernourished is counterproductive…and stupid. 

Expecting to have a great workout when you're not hydrated or properly fuelled is absolutely absurd. You certainly wouldn't expect your car to get you very far if you hadn't filled the tank, so why should your well-oiled-machine-of-a-body be any different? As your fitness level and strength increase, so do your nutrition needs. When you come to a standstill in your training the answer is not always to restrict calories, but sometimes just the opposite. Keep a food log and review it with your trainer.

6. Stop making excuses. 

Before you text/call me with why you can't make your workout, think about issuing your doctor the same excuse. "Sorry ma'am/sir, I won't make my appointment today - you know, the one encouraging a better quality of life, longevity and lasting motor control - because I…forgot my sneakers at home…slept in...have a headache…got stuck at work…" etc. Those things happen, yes, and there are days you just don't want to work out, but when you truly value what it is you're skipping out on, those excuses become teeny tiny obstacles that are easily squashed by a little motivation and determination.

7. Ladies, bend over and do the butt check. 

Those workout leggings you love so much, put them on. Make sure the seam in the back is slightly off center (you'll see why). Find a mirror, turn around and bend over to touch your toes. Look behind you. Can you see Paris and France? If so, toss 'em. I've seen a lot of beautiful butts over the course of my career, but I've also seen a lot more than I've bargained for due to sheer spandex.

8. It doesn't matter where you're starting from. 

Whether you are new to fitness altogether or you're just looking for a challenge. Maybe you have 100 pounds to lose, or maybe just a few…it doesn't matter. Don't let intimidation of the gym, equipment or other "super fit" people stop you from reaching your goals. We all struggle with weight gain, body image issues and emotional eating to some extent. A good trainer will never judge you for where you're starting from, because it just doesn't matter. Our only concern is where you want to be and how we can help get you there.

Ask yourself the following question, "Is what I'm doing working for me?" If yes, keep calm and carry on. If no, talk to your trainer about making some moves. Change begets change and all that.

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

"I don't want to get bulky"

Ladies, this is akin to saying, "I don't want to get prostate cancer". Well, yeah, that might suck, but just like you don't have the right bits to get prostate cancer, you don't have the right hormones to get bulky either. So unless you accidentally find yourself double fisting anabolic steroids, that just isn't going to happen. But you know what will happen? Training and eating like a healthy athlete will make you look like (and perform like) a healthy athlete. If that's not something you're after, then by all means, put that barbell down!

Can women develop strong, powerful looking muscles? Yes. Have you ever seen Stacie Tovar? Lindsey Smith? Christmas Abott? I promise you that those women work their assess off for every teeny tiny muscle fiber, killing themselves day after day in the gym. Not to mention, they eat like vikings. They have earned those muscles! Will you look like that after strength training a few times a week. Psht. Not a chance. Unless it's your career, the volume of your training couldn't begin to compare, not to mention they eat your days worth of calories for breakfast. No one ever became a weight lifter or a bodybuilder by accident.

If you want to look skinny or achieve the "thigh gap", well then, perhaps strength training isn't for you. Feel free to hit up the recumbent bike or the elliptical for 3 hours a day and let me know how that works out for your bone density a few years from now. Looking like a 13 year old girl is great…if you're a 13 year old girl. Looking like a strong, fit and capable women sounds like a much better goal for most of us to have, don't you agree?

"But I just want to get toned" 

Toned isn't a thing. Someone made it up. Muscles change as a response to exercise. That's it. There's no secret. Your muscles do not become more defined without one of two things happening: a. fat loss, b. lean mass gains. So when you say you want to get toned, you're really asking for BIGGER MUSCLES. The second half of the battle is pristine nutrition.

"I don't want to get too muscly"

Ladies, listen up. You do not possess the necessary hormonal profile to bulk up under heavy weight. Do you know what the 1st ingredient is in BULK? Testosterone. Part of what makes us female is the absence of one hormone in particular. Testosterone. Without the use of some secret supplements, it can't happen. Men have 15-20x more testosterone than women. Women who sport strong muscles are that way BY INTENT. They care more about the number on the bar than the number on their pants. They care more about functional strength than the size of their waist. and they lift heavy things with the intention of lifting heavier things. It's powerful. It's invigorating. and it's not something everyone will understand. I'd rather have muscular quads that allow me to squat, lunge and box jump over a thigh gap that allows me to…well, yeah. Strong isn't the new skinny. Strong is just stronger than skinny. But even if squatting your bodyweight isn't a goal of yours, that's no reason to avoid functional movements like squats, lunges, pushups and pull-ups in lieu of colored dumbbells. Put those down.

"My boyfriend/husband doesn't want me to get any bigger" 

Lose him. Seriously. If he has an issue with something that allows you to feel confident, strong, healthy and fit, he's not the one for you. A few years ago, I went out on a date with a friend…around the same time I decided that being strong and fit was a better goal for me than being frail and thin. Midway through our conversation he paused and said, "but you're done right? I mean, you don't want your muscles to get any bigger, do you?" That date was over faster than you can say D-BAG. He's since moved on and found a fairy of a wife who allows him to feel strong, and I've continued lifting. I guess we both won.

Here's the bottom line girls - if you think you have too much muscle, you don't. If you're using words like "bulky" and "muscly" as deterrents to avoid the gym, stop. Lift something heavy and allow yourself to feel like a badass. Heck! Forget how good it feels for a second and do it because it will decrease your risk of osteoporosis and improve your insulin sensitivity, encourage better posture and a healthy blood pressure. Forget body composition and physical appearance altogether (it's vain anyway - Proverbs 31:30), do it for the feeling you'll get when you realise you just did something you couldn't do years, months or even weeks ago. Chase performance. Learn dedication. Be strong.

Eat real food. Lift real weights. Get real results.

PS. If you're a guy reading this and you don't want to get bulky, please don't ever say that out loud.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

The Diary of a Girl on Bedrest continued...

Dear Diary,

It's day 8. I think I've gained 10 pounds already and I'm only being a little bit funny. So much for my 'get shredded for summer' plan. Despite my undefined waistline, my outlook is still reasonably sunny, all things considered. and I think that's, in part, due to all the visitors and friends I've had checking in on me. I haven't had much time to myself to whip out my violin and wallow (I'm pretty sure this has been arranged by my overprotective, super thoughtful yet slightly smothering family members - LOVE YOU ALL!) Mark my words - I will make it outside this week. This girl needs to feel the sun!! I'm suffering from a self-diagnosed severe Vitamin D deficiency. 

Pain: manageable. Mood: lukewarm with moments of malaise. Countdown: 9 more days, fingers crossed!

Dear Diary, 

Today was so lovely that I almost forgot that my life has been reduced to binge reading and sitting on ice (try icing a hip…kinaesthetically it just doesn't work!) I had a fabulous lunch date with some of my favorite girlfriends and their handsome little men. Rice + Noodles delivered to my front door. What more can a girl ask for!? Tomorrow I can go back to hating the fact that I'm reduced to hopping around on sticks but today, today was fantastic. Drumroll please….7 days left of this sleep all day, stay up all night business. Lord willing. 

Pain: I chose not to take my medication…just to see, and well, I asked for it. Mood: Content. Countdown: 7 days.

///////////////////////

Do know that beneath all the sarcastic humor rests a girl who feels very, very blessed. I may be temporarily restricted but I am well aware that in the grand scheme of things this is nothing but a blip on the radar. I like to complain a little and tease you with self-depreciating blog posts, but rest assured, I am spoiled silly. I genuinely hope that the people in your lives are as selflessly brilliant as the people in mine because they are pretty darn awesome. I am uplifted, cared for and loved more than I deserve. They have hearts of pure gold. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

10 Habits for a Healthier Life:

We've all heard the age-old saying that it takes 21 days to make a habit, right? So imagine for a second, just how much healthier and happier you would be 12 months from now if you added one of these healthy habits to your life every month for a year. Think about it - what would you look like? are you leaner? wearing a smaller size? is your skin more supple? What would you feel like? do you have more energy? are you less lethargic and more active? Who would you be? I ask because - get this - you are completely in control of that person. It's entirely up to you to create who you desire to be 2…10...12 months from now. Start small. Don't expect to revamp your entire diet in a day. Don't plan to suddenly start working out 6x a week. That's not realistic. My grandfather likes to say, All good things take time. After all, I took 9 months. Pick one goal to master this week and then continue to focus on that same goal next week…and the following, until it's no longer an obligation but a habit. Once you feel confident with your compliance, add something new. Wouldn't you rather make slow, steady progress over the course of a year than to dive head first into a new health plan onto you fail a month later and try again? We've done that. I'm over it. Aren't you? Let's do it the healthy, sustainable way.

10 Habits for a Healthier Life:

1. Drink More Water.

Studies show that as many as 75% of us are dehydrated. Assume you are among them. Dehydration can lead to headaches, chronic fatigue, toxicity, digestive issues, pre-mature aging and high cholesterol. Symptoms that then go on to pose more serious health risks. Hydration is important on a cellular level - every single one of your cells needs to be properly hydrated in order to flush out toxins. And no, drinking coffee, soda and alcohol doesn't count - all of those dehydrate your body. Drink water. You know, the 0 calorie stuff.

2. Eliminate Soda. Even Diet Soda.

As mentioned earlier, soda dehydrates you…but that's the least of your worries if you're a fan of sugary carbonated beverages.  Sodas are loaded with sugar and sugar consumption is a major cause of degenerative diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Diet sodas are NO better and in most cases worse as they contain cancer-causing artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Aspartame. I recently had a chat with a fellow at the gym and he said, "I made the healthy switch to diet soda because my wife made me." To which I responded, "Well sir, with all due respect to your wife, she's not doing you any favors. Diet soda is worse than the regular stuff." "But there aren't any calories! How can it be bad? There's nothing in it." Ahhhh, how uninformed and misguided are we? There's nothing in it but chemicals and artificial ingredients. Avoid it. Find something else to quench your thirst like unsweetened tea or sparkling water with fruit.

3. Forget Fast Food.

McDonalds, Burger King, Subway….yes, even Subway. With a slogan like "Eat Fresh" you shouldn't be able to serve processed meats and bread with the same ingredients used to make yoga mats. If you never ate high-sodium nitrate processed meat again you'd be better off!! Fast food is not food. It's dead. Eat real, live food. If it doesn't go bad, it's bad for you. and what you eat is directly correlated with what you feel. All together now, if you eat BAD food you will feel…B A D. Now, for those of you who are fast food junkies, realise that because your body is addicted to the sodium, starch and sugar used in fast food you will feel worse before you feel better as your body goes through withdrawal. Stick with it. Your future self will thank you.

4. Read food labels and eliminate harmful ingredients.

Eliminate foods containing synthetic preservatives, artificial flavors and/or coloring, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, Aspartame and Genetically Modified ingredients. If you want to make this really easy, simply start avoiding processed and packaged foods in general. You are what you eat so don't be cheap, greasy or fake. Ask yourself these questions:

- are there more than 5 ingredients?

- can I pronounce all of the ingredients?

- what is it made from? do I even know what it used to be?

Minimally processed and fresh whole foods is what’s lacking in the Standard American Diet which is, in part, why the majority of the US population is sick and obese.

5. Make a weekly grocery list with at least 10 different fruits and vegetables.

Load up on those greens. If every individual in your household is to be consuming 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruits a day, that means your grocery list better include those items! Buy from local farmers markets first whenever possible. The less your food travels before it ends up on your plate, the more nutrients it will provide for you. PLUS it will carry a lower carbon footprint for the environment! Additionally, buying from farmers markets and local produce stands is usually much more cost effective and pesticide-free.

6. Shut down the screens and MOVE.

Have 'active hour' - an hour a day without screen time (computers, cell phones, iPods, etc.) where you go DO something. Go for a hike, walk the dogs, take a yoga class, etc. Whatever you choose, do something that motivates you and releases you from the daily grind. Exercise helps us reduce stress, increases metabolism, boosts mood and promotes self-esteem. Who doesn't want those things? Get your family involved and be active together.

7. Make 90% of your meals at home.

Eating healthy turns a hill into a mountain when you choose to eat out. There are so many hurdles you have to watch out for - high sodium counts, calorie-laden sauces and dressings, large portions sizes, etc. When you cook at home you are completely in control of what goes into a recipe and into your body. Spend time on the weekend preparing meals for the week, pack lunches the night before, make large batches to store in the freezer for leftovers. Don't just be an ignorant consumer, be an active eater!

8. Get rid of the negative self-talk.

BING BING BING. This is a big deal so listen up. In my experience, both in the lives of my clients as well as my own life, I've found that one of the biggest stumbling blocks is our own mental dialogue.

"Well, I've already messed up so I might as well just eat the whole thing…"

"I feel like I'm always restricting myself. This is no way to live! This diet doesn't' work for me." 

"I can't lose weight. I've tried so many times, it's just not fair." 

Have you ever caught yourself saying something similar? You are your own worst enemy. Negative self talk turns to negative energy which brings you down on a physical, mental, emotional and energetic level. First, become aware of these thoughts as you move throughout your day. You might be surprised how down on yourself you are. Next, ask yourself if you would want your child/spouse/friend/client to speak to themselves that way. If the answer is no, then you would do well to eliminate those thoughts from your mental vocabulary. Lastly, combat those negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Positive thoughts have 10x the energy of negative thoughts, so be uplifting (yes, even inside of your own head). Everyone blossoms in the face of encouragement, so compliment your own efforts and let that set the tone for future behavior.

9. Nurture Your Relationships.

Stable, loving relationships, not just with a spouse or partner but also with friends and relatives, have been shown to result in fewer doctor's visits, less anxiety, depression and substance abuse, lower blood pressure, better pain control and stress management, and a longer, happier life. Make an effort to improve your communication skills, learn how to manage conflict, talk out negative emotions instead of letting them fester, engage in challenging and exciting activities regularly, get and give hugs, and celebrate successes and failures together. If you have the power to impact someones day for the better, do it.

10. Take Time to Breathe.

Regular meditation changes the structure of our brains and how our neurons interact with each other resulting in better stress management, anxiety reduction, addiction control, decreased depression and better cognitive function. People who take time for themselves to breathe deeply and meditate also often have improved blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels and cellular health. Breathing is important as it maintains our oxygen levels for energy production. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us use only about 20% of our breathing capacity. Take time to slow down, focus on the present moment (not on what's for dinner or that student loan you forgot to pay), and tell your body it's okay to relax. Perhaps it's spending a few quiet moments in the mornings with a cup of coffee and your Bible; maybe it's just sitting outside by yourself, soaking up the sun, or taking some time before bed to journal…whatever meditation means to you, make time for it.

One new, healthy habit each month and you'll be the healthiest, happiest version of yourself come Christmastime.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Overuse Injuries. Avoid Them.

According to the Journal of American Medicine more than one third of adults in the United States (34.9%) are obese. Not just overweight, but obese. 69.2 % of all adults, aged 20 and older, are overweight (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Almost seventy percent, SEVENTY, of our population is headed toward a future of diabetes, coronary heart disease, arthritis, hypertension and many other debilitating health conditions. Health conditions mind you, that are completely preventable with proper nutrition and exercise. Now, that being said, let's look at the other half (and when I say half, I'm referring to less than 5% of the population) - those who don't know when enough is enough. Approximately 30% of all student athletes suffer from overuse injuries at some point in their active career.

What is an Overuse Injury? 

Overuse injuries refer to injuries sustained from repeated action and repetitive strain, as opposed to acute injuries, which occur in an instant.

Exercise applies stress to the body. Our bodies are designed in such a way that they adapt to exercise stress by thickening and strengthening the various tissues involved.  Hence, muscles get stronger, firmer and sometimes larger, tendons get stronger and bone density increases. However, if exercise is applied in such a way that adaptation cannot occur, the excessive overload can lead to inflammation and serious injury.

The Stages of an Overuse Injury:

  1. Discomfort that disappears during warm-up.
  2. Discomfort that may disappear during warm-up but reappears at the end of activity.
  3. Discomfort that gets worse during the activity
  4. Pain or discomfort all the time.

Too often exercises enthusiasts experience one or more of these stages without taking preventative care, thus often resulting in required time off from activity and/or medical care.

What Causes an Overuse Injury?

  • Lack of appropriate muscle strength or endurance
  • Poor core stability
  • Muscle imbalance (strong tight muscles vs weak stretched muscles)
  • Inflexibility
  • Malalignment or Biomechanical issues
  • Training errors
  • Faulty technique
  • Incorrect equipment.

By far the most common cause of overuse injury is training errors, such as, "too much, too soon".

Preventing an Overuse Injury: 

Just as exercising too infrequently can lead to health complications, exercising too frequently and without rest can also lead to health complications. The good news: both are 100% preventable.

  • Warm-up and cool down before and after all exercise.
  • Use proper equipment
  • Increase at a rate no faster than 10% increase per week (distance, speed, weight, etc).
  • Practice and concentrate on correct technique.
  • Condition for 2-3 weeks before starting - strength and flexibility.
  • Listen to your body - pain is a warning that something is wrong.  Early identification and treatment will allow you to continue your activity.
  • Identify and correct the cause of pain or discomfort.
  • Ensure full injury rehabilitation.

Let my mistake be your lesson. At a recent doctors visit my physician asked me, "what else do you do?", to which I replied, "oh a little bit of everything…I've been diligent with track workouts and long runs but I also teach spin and strength train 2-3x a week with a few HIIT workouts thrown in there. But, you'd think that as a personal trainer I would have known better to listen to the warning signs." "No", he said, "I'd never expect that from a runner. Runners never listen."

Don't be a runner. Run, yes. But don't be so obsessed with the performance that you forget and/or neglect what you need to perform. Rest. Our bodies can do amazing things and accomplish miraculous feats, but only if we take care, prevent and protect. Be aware of how you feel, recognise that not every workout needs to be conducted at your highest intensity, schedule rest days and appreciate that time off is a step toward the end goal.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

A Half Marathon Account: Breaking Down In Front Of 10,000 People

Today has pretty much been the worst day ever. It all started at 4 am when my alarm went off. I should've pressed snooze and gone back to sleep, but that's not at all what happened. I rolled out of bed, got dressed in my running garb, grabbed a protein shake and a banana and spent a few minutes foam rolling because things weren't feeling quite up to par. For the past week I had been feeling twinges of a reoccurring IT band injury. Like a distant relative, it flares up from time to time and forces me to take a few weeks off from the things I love most.

I'm usually a pretty good listener. If my body is telling me something, I've learned to heed the warning. BUT this time I pushed that voice to the back of my brain because I had been training for the Philly LOVE half marathon since January. Need I remind you what the weather has been like this winter!? Freaking cold. Wet. Icy. Miserable. But, despite the inclimate conditions I didn't miss a run. Every Saturday for the past three months, I've woken up at 5am to run a track workout. Willingly. Call me crazy, but I was committed to not only running this race, but running it faster than I ran my last (and first) half marathon back in the fall.

Back to today - I arrive in Philadelphia promptly at 6:45am with a little over an hour until the start of the race. 10,000 people are gathered together in front of the Rocky Steps at the Museum of Art. We should be all 'Eye Of The Tiger' but in reality we're huddling together under trash bags trying to defrost our toes which have already gone numb. Great start.

Look how excited I'm pretending to be! This was the first (and only) photo of my selfie challenge. It was my mission to take as many selfies with as many handsome men as possible - like this girl…but, well, keep reading...

8am rolls around and we start stripping off layers (because it's going to warm up, right!? that's runner rule No. 1) and find ourselves at the starting line. annnnd off we go! Mile number 1 is great. 2 is even better. I'm running around City Hall with 9,999 other people. How cool!? 3…4…5. It's pouring. My skin is soaked, I only have feeling in my little toe on my right foot, my hands are stuck in "the claw" position, and my hip is screaming. I'm in pain. But runners push through pain all the time. I'm pretty positive it's a thing.

Mile 6. I'm pretty sure there's a grand total of one hill in Philadelphia, and yes, we had to climb it. As I attack the incline I'm weighing the pros and cons of slowing my pace. I'm on track for my sub 2 hour finish but is it worth all this pain? The voice of reason (also known as my mother) pops into my head, don't push yourself too hard. you don't want to get hurt, only to be counteracted by my coaches insight, you can push through one race. take some time off to rest and recover afterwards. Coach wins (sorry Mom). I push hard for the next two miles only to limp my way across mile marker 8. Pain. Excruciating pain. and I still have 5 more miles to go. My body is begging me to stop but my mind is justifying the devastation, refusing to fall short of expectation.

At mile 9 my leg gives out because I've rubbed my body raw. I ignored all the warning signs and pushed right through into the danger zone. I stop and stretch only to hobble a few more feet. Stop. Stretch. Hobble. At mile 10 I admit defeat and limp my way off the side of the road. I'm done. My goal passes me by, literally. I see the other runners who will clock a sub 2 hour finish carry on ahead of me and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.

I'm cold. I'm wet. I'm hurting and I'm still 3.1 miles from the finish line. I can tell by the severity of my pain that I've incurred some long-term damage. And for what? I have absolutely nothing to show for it. After the 14th person asks if I'm okay I lose it, crying in front of 10,000 people, because no, I am so not okay. For just a second I was thankful for the rain, disguising my tears of disappointment and agonising discomfort.

By the grace of God I hobble over the finish line. 20 minutes slower than what I wanted (but still faster than my last half marathon time). And the fun is just beginning. As adrenaline fades and body temperature drops, I am reduced to a sloppy, snotty, shivering mess. And I'm not being cute. At one point I remember being cuddled on a hotel bed, wrapped in a comforter to abate the shakes, needing someone else to untie my soggy sneakers while I took a blow dryer to my fingers. I lead a glamorous life.

Flash forward one long car ride and a few hours later and I had to crawl into my house. On hands and knee (yes, just one). It's far from my proudest moment but talk about learning a hard lesson. My self inflicted expectations, fear of failure and stubborn competitive streak landed me with a visit to urgent care. Like I said, worst. day. ever. Mom I'm sorry, you were right. 

Do as I say and not as I do and listen to your body. Take care of it. You only get one.

PS. It wasn't all bad. We did start happy.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

 

11 Ways Running Is Like Dating:

This post will probably discourage all future dating prospects, but nevertheless: This weekend I will be subjecting myself to 13.1 miles. As race day gets closer I keep reminding myself that I willingly signed up for this masochistic milestone. There are days when I enjoy running. But I don't know that I will ever reach the point where I enjoy running 13.1 miles. It's hard. It hurts. Sometimes I'm not even sure why I do it, and yet…I keep doing it. much like dating.

Here are all the similarities I could think of between running and dating:

1. If you're doing it right, you should be sweating. If it's not hot enough to perspire, run farther, run faster or find a guy who makes your palms sweat.

2. The outfit is everything. Have you ever worn the wrong sports bra on a long run? Or perhaps tried managing your mileage in short shorts? Chub rub is so not attractive…neither is being underdressed (or inappropriately dressed) for date night.

3. No doubt about it, it's all about the shoes. Enough said.

4. It hurts. and yes, the same can be said about running. Sometimes it's painful, uncomfortable and even heartbreaking. An injury right before race day, a case of tendonitis, a relationship ending before it even had a chance to begin…that heavy sinking feeling is very much the same whether the prize was a man or a medal.

5. You're constantly learning new things about yourself. Sucking face with a smoker? Not tempting. Running long distances without eating breakfast? No thank you. Dating has taught me what I want (usually by process of elimination), where I need to grow and what to be wary of, much like what a long run will do.

6. The first part is always the hardest. The first mile out the door feels like death. My legs are heavy, my breathing is choppy and I just want to turn around and cuddle up on the couch in sweatpants instead. I can't tell you how many times that exact statement could be applied to me before a 1st date. You know it's going to be awkward and Ben + Jerry sound like much better company. 

7. Everyone else always looks so much better doing it. Have you ever seen another runner and thought, I hope I look that good…only to pass a storefront window and realise you look like an 80 year old man with your shoulders hunched, a forward tilt and an awkward gait? Guilty. Have you ever looked at your friends who are dating successfully, or are happily married to the first guy they ever met and think, how did that happen? Why do they make it look so easy!?

8. "Once you hit that runners high, you can run forever!", "When you know, you'll know!", "You just haven't met THE ONE!" Yeah…I don't know who made those things up, but they were full of it! I've logged my fair share of miles and not once have I ever hit that infamous runners high. I'm still waiting...

9. Sometimes its better done in a group. If he doesn't try to get to know your friends or doesn't have any interest in your family, drop him like he's hot! A girl needs her support network - on and off the road. A 10 mile run with friends feels like a fun challenge. A 10 mile run solo feels like psychological suicide. You need team players.

10. I want to give up about 100 times a minute.

11. It's always worth it in the long run (no pun intended). Bad date? Lesson learned, thank goodness it's over! Grab those sweats. Great date? All those nerves for nothing! When can I see him again!? That euphoric feeling is similar to the endorphin infused high you get after finishing an invigorating run. No matter how hard the run, you still got out there and pushed yourself, challenged your mind and body in new ways.

 

So, the verdict…I'll keep running, but dating is up in the air.

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Working Out For More Than Weight Loss:

I like the way I look so I don't need to workout.  I'm not as big as some people. 

I've never struggled with my weight and haven't ever needed to exercise. 

I don't go to the gym thanks to my fast metabolism. 

Just a few of many, these statements are absolutely absurd. Exercise is beneficial for so many reasons, least of all, weight loss. Because we live in a world where "overweight" and "supersize" are household terms, working out has been pigeonholed as a solution for extra adipose tissue (i.e. fat). Yes, exercise burns calories and can therefore aid in the weight loss process, but what about all the other great reasons we should exercise? Regardless of how big, little, wide or thin we are!?

10 Super Great Reasons to Workout That Have Absolutely Nothing to do with Weight Loss:

1. It improves your mood. A natural anti-depressant, exercise boosts the production of brain chemicals that ease stress and anxiety, resulting in a happier, more relaxed state of mind. The world would be a better place if we were all physically active!

2. It helps you get more zzzz's. Research shows that individuals who exercise regularly have better quality sleep than their counterparts who are too cool for physical activity. So forget the Nyquil, just go for a jog. Sleep is way too important to be skimping!

3. It boosts your memory. Keep popping the blueberries (they help with memory), but you should also consider squeezing in a workout if you have an upcoming brief or exam. Research shows that aerobic activity boosts hormones associated with stronger memory.

4. It makes you more creative. No joke. Studies show that regular exercisers who workout score higher on creativity exams than those who don't. So grab a jumprope or join a spin class to get those creative juices flowing!

5. It reduces your risk of cancer. NEED I SAY MORE!? This is a no brainer. Exercise and lower your risk of breast, endometrial and other kinds of cancers. Or…don't. And, well, yeah. Just exercise.

6. It energises you. Skip the coffee and get your butt to the gym. Working out has been shown to increase energy by 20% and decrease fatigue by 65%. Sweating increases metabolism and increases the production of dopamine in your brain, a feel good hormone.

7. It grows confidence. Let's set your sexiness aside for a second. Being strong and capable contributes to positive self-esteem and confidence. I don't care if you're 20 or 60, being able to lift heavy, run fast and fight hard  is empowering.

8. It strengthens your immune system. People who workout at least 2-3 times each week take fewer sick days. I don't know about you but I'd much rather take a 'sick day' to play hooky and go rock climbing (insert whatever your idea of fun is here) than be forced to call into work cause you're stuck in bed with the flu.

9. Gentlemen, proceed to #10. It helps with cramps. Ladies, hold the Midol! Those days when you really don't feel like working out are the days you should. Exercise releases endorphins, natural opioids, that relieve pain. Score!

10. It improves job performance. Infrequent exercisers are less productive than those who regularly schedule their sweat sessions. Whether it's 20 minutes on your lunch break or an hour before work, make. it. happen. Pushups…productivity…promotion…just saying!

Don't believe me? Read the full slide show over at Women's Health Magazine.

In summary,

People who exercise function better, feel better and look better (because confidence is sexy).

People who don't make time to exercise have a higher risk of developing cancer, suffering from insomnia, chronic bad moods, fatigue and cramps.

But, you know...it's totally your call! Don't let my opinion sway you.

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

 

 

 

Winter Workout + Healthy Hot Cocoa = Best SNOW Day Ever!

Shoveling and sledding are both great calorie burners, but if you're stuck inside or you have one of those husbands who shovels for you (I hear some of them do that), here's a great, quick, at-home plyometric workout for you: 200 Squat Jumps 

+ 10 pushups every time stop

GO! Your quads will be on fire after two dozen squat jumps, so imagine how they'll feel after 200! Remember that you can take a break and shake out those legs any time you need to…as long as you drop down and crank out 10 of your best pushups.

Are you up for the challenge?

--------------------

After you get your sweat on, be it from squat jumps, shovelling or sledding, enjoy this tasty treat:

Mexican Hot Chocolate according to MinimalistBaker.com:

Serves: 2

Prep + Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk (I use a combination of unsweetened coconut and almond milk)
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (you can use more or less depending on your chocolaty preference)
  • optional: 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • optional: 1 Tbsp stevia, agave or honey, depending on your taste
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt

Instructions:

1. In a small saucepan, bring your milk to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Add cocoa powder, protein powder, stevia (because my protein powder is sweetened with stevia I find that I can skip the extra TBSP of sugar) and spices. Whisk vigorously.

3. Serve as-is or topped with a non-dairy coconut whipped cream (see below).

 

Easy Coconut Whipped Cream according to Detoxinista.com:

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of full-fat coconut milk (cream only)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

** Maple syrup can be substituted for honey, liquid stevia or coconut nectar instead

Instructions:
  1. To get started, you’ll want to chill your can of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 6 hours, preferable overnight (or in the freezer for 30 minutes if you're short on time). When you remove the chilled can, be careful not to shake it - you want the cream that floats to the top to stay separated from the liquid portion at the bottom.
  2. Carefully open the can of coconut milk and scoop the thickened cream into a mason jar. Reserve the remaining liquid in the can for a morning smoothie!
  3. Add pure maple syrup and vanilla extract to the heavy coconut cream, then screw the lid onto the mason jar. Shake vigorously for 3-5 minutes, until the cream is thickened and fluffier in texture. (You can also choose to beat your coconut milk with a mixer in lieu of shaking if your arms are tired from all those pushups).
  4. Serve immediately over your cocoa or favorite fruit! Store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

 

 

Yoga Bird.

Raise your hand if you would like to be more flexible. Raise your hand if you enjoy yoga but can't always make time to go to the studio or find a class at the gym. Raise your hand if you value (and wish you could find more of) those quiet moments you have to yourself each day to pray, meditate and calm the storm that is your life. If I had three hands, they would all be up! Well, have I got some news for you! My dear friend, Joyce Courtney has just launched her beautiful new webpage, Yoga Bird, in order to help you with all of the above! Check out her blog for yoga news, online classes and daily meditation inspiration.

I'm so excited to be partnering with Yoga Bird as yogis all over the world, beginners and advanced, seek to lead healthier, happier lifestyles. It's no secret that wellness is an all-emcompassing entity - physical, psychological and spiritual. Joyce of Yoga Bird helps address all of those areas in life by helping us find our center, both on and off the mat.

Take a peek here and let me know what you think. I'm really anxious for what's to come! I've found yoga to be a fantastic cross-training tool. Being an avid exerciser can be hard on your body and yoga is a fantastic way to restore and rejuvenate your muscles and joints. I practice to stay injury free, limber and mobile! The best part? Yoga doesn't discriminate! Anyone can try it and you can progress your poses as you learn. See a few of my favorites below:

Child's Pose: A restorative position promoting deep breathing and relaxed muscles

Shoulder Stand: An inverted pose, used to promote blood circulation and stimulate the thyroid gland

Head Stand: An advanced pose used to encourage balance, strengthen core muscles and promote blood flow

Never tried yoga before? Do it every day and just looking for something new? Stuck inside on a snowy day in need of an at-home class? Yoga Bird is a great place to start. Spend a few minutes centering yourself. Your body and mind will thank you.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

The Best HIIT Workout

The best way to get a great workout is to keep your heart rate jumping, i.e. the Interval Workout! An interval workout involves quick bursts of high-intensity work, asking your heart rate to jump in order to meet the rigorous demands you're placing on your body, followed by short periods of rest where you briefly allow your heart rate to come back down. I recently did this workout and was impressed by how much it challenged me. The BEST part about any interval workout is that it can always be catered to your level of fitness. You push as hard as you can for 45 seconds, knowing that a 15 second break is right around the corner. Let's say the exercise was pushups - for some individuals that might look like 10 pushups in 45 seconds, whereas, other individuals can crank out double the amount of pushups in those same 45 seconds. It doesn't matter! As long as you feel yourself being pushed, challenged and changed from your high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

This interval workout can be done without any equipment, however, if you want the added challenge grab a jumprope, a kettlebell (12-16kg), two moderate-heavy dumbbells (#12-#25) and two lighter dumbbells (#5-#8) as well as a phone with an 'Interval Timer' app or stopwatch.

**Feel free to ignore all the videos unless you're unsure of how to do an exercise.

Round One: 

Complete 3 circuits: 10 reps each for the 1st round, 15 reps for the 2nd round and 20 reps for the 3rd round.

No rest. 

- Burpees

- Mt. Climbers

- Jumping Jacks

Once you've completed 3 circuits, jump rope for 3 minutes (you can pretend if you don't have a jumprope). 

Rest 1 minute. 

Round Two: 

Complete 3 circuits: 45 seconds per exercise with a 15 second break in-between each exercise and circuit.

Set up those timers! 

- Weighted Walking Lunges (hold heavier dumbbells at your side - can be modified by using body weight)

- Pushups (can be modified by dropping to your knees)

- Jumping Lunges

- Walk-outs (inchworms)

Once you've completed 3 circuits, jump rope for 3 minutes. Rest 1 minute. 

Round Three:

Complete 3 circuits: 45 seconds per exercise with a 15 second break in-between each exercise and circuit.

- Kettlebell Jump Squats (can be modified with body weight)

- 1 Arm Dumbbell Rows

(use one of your heavier dumbbells: L arm for round 1, R arm for round 2, switching half way through for round 3)

- Box Jumps (beginners, start on a small box - 6 or 9" and work your way up)

- Stability Ball Knee Tucks

Once you've completed 3 circuits, jump rope for 3 minutes. Rest 1 minute. 

Round Four: 

Complete 3 circuits: 45 seconds per exercise with a 15 second break in-between each exercise and circuit.

- Goblet Side Lunges (L leg for round 1, R leg for round 2, switching half way in round 3)

- Triceps Dips (can be done on a bench, chair or box)

- Speed Skaters (e.g. lateral jumps)

- Plank to Pushup Row (using your lighter dumbbells - can be modified by using body weight)

Rest. Hydrate. Feel Awesome. 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

 

Self-Talk Boosts Athletic Performance. Fact.

I'm not making this up. A recent study published in the Journal of American College of Sports Medicine  concluded that self-talk significantly reduces the rate of perceived exertion and increases endurance performance. So, in really simple terms, talking to yourself during a workout makes it feel easier and allows you to do more. Cool, right!? The study conducted cycling tests among 24 people. Participants were asked to cycle at 80% of their maximum output for as long as possible. After two weeks off and training in strategic self-talk participants hopped back on the bikes and put their new positive affirmations and mantras to the test. Guess what? They all significantly lengthened their time on the bike while cycling at the same output level. So...the next time you're in a spin class and you feel like you're going to die, or when you're struggling on mile 11 of your half marathon, find a mantra and repeat it to yourself. So go ahead, cheer yourself on - if it gets you through that extra mile, makes your legs feel lighter and pushes you a little further than before, it's totally worth the stares you might get. It's 2013 people - everyone will just assume you're talking on your bluetooth anyway.

If you're in need of some inspirational mantras, The Huffington Post has highlighted a few favorites. Check 'em out!

I've included a couple of my faves:

Check out my Fitspiration Pinterest page for more mantras and more!!

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Why You Need A REST Day:

Workout all day, every day to be healthy, wealthy and wise, right!? Wrong. In fact, that's a sure way to land yourself in a training timeout due to burn out, fatigue or injury. One of the most important components of any training plan is rest. Now, don't let this go to your head - this post is not a means of justifying your lazy a** sitting on the couch every night, noshing on potato chips and double-stuffed cookies. Everyone should be getting the recommended amount of exercise:

To maintain weight and encourage optimum health:

- 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, at least 5 days a week

To lose weight and encourage optimum health:

- 60 to 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, at least 5 days a week

 

However, for those crazies among us who actually view exercise as FUN and make it a part of our every day lives, it's important to take a day off. Just like all good things in life it's important to find the right balance. PopSugar Fitness posted three reasons regarding why a rest day is important for your goals and your body:

1. REST helps your body repair itself. Exercise can cause tiny tears in your muscles. Rest helps muscles recover, rebuild, and become stronger. Make sure that you give your body ample time to repair and replenish energy every week to avoid injury and overuse. Think about how much better you feel (and how much nicer you are) after a good nights rest. Your body needs that.

2. REST helps prevent injury. That nagging pain in your ankle can become a full-blown chronic injury if you refuse to take time off from your intense workout routine. Make sure you ice, foam-roll, and rest your body regularly, but especially when you feel a possible injury creeping on. Your body is pre-ttty good at telling you when it's had enough. Head those warnings. Ask yourself, Is this a sign of fatigue or overuse? Is this workout going to contribute to my goals or do more harm than good? 

3.  REST helps you mentally. It can be hard to stick with a routine, especially if you're burnt out. And while exercise is one of the best ways to lift your mood, feeling guilty when you've missed a workout and stressing over whether or not you've worked out enough can be major demotivators. Make a standing date for a rest day during the week so you aren't second-guessing your decision to sleep in instead of get up for a run.

 

Last week I had scheduled a rest day after 6 days of hard workouts. I knew my body needed the break but sometimes my slightly obsessive and occasionally competitive trainer mentality takes over and messes everything up. So, I finished training clients for the night and was left in the studio, by myself, surrounded by everything I could possibly need for a killer workout. I should workout, I told myself. How can I turn this down? I'm here. I have the time and no excuse. I didn't want to but I coerced myself into it (and they say peer pressure is bad, sheesh). I turned the music up and whipped out my exercise routine. Begrudgingly I did my core set, slowly set up my weights for my first lifting set, cranked out 8 reps of a bench press annnnnd...I was done. Yep. My mental game was totally off. I ignored what my body was telling me and tried to bully myself into skipping my rest day. So not cool! I learned my lesson.

Now that being said, there will be days when you really don't feel like working out when in fact it's exactly what your body needs. That's different. Make a plan. Schedule your rest days and listen to your body - stretch, foam roll and RELAX!! You're allowed.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Workout Playlists.

I was recently asked to post a few of my Spinning playlists. Even though Spinning involves so much more than just 'sitting on a bike', let's face it, you are in fact, sitting on a stationary bike for 45-60 minutes with unchanging scenery. That could be boring. COULD BE being the operative words. I promise you that my Spinning classes are anything but boring. Why? In part, due to my glittering personality, but mostly because of the music I use. It's fun. It's upbeat. It's motivating. Gospel music is great, but does it make me want to climb an imaginary steep-as-all-get-out hill? Nope. (unless it's 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' by Marvin Gaye, because that could work). Disney music...most country music...you get the idea. So, anyway, all that to say there is finesse in selecting workout music. Here's what I have for you:

This playlist I grabbed from Fitsugar. If you're into a little bit of alternative music, it's great. Listen to it on Spotify here.

  1. "Dog Days Are Over" — Florence + the Machine
  2. "Shake It" — Metro Station
  3. "Mr. Brightside" — The Killers
  4. "Animal" — Neon Trees
  5. "All I Do Is Win" — DJ Khaled
  6. "Clark Gable" — The Postal Service
  7. "In For the Kill" — La Roux
  8. "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh" — Say Hi
  9. "OK, It's Alright With Me" — Eric Hutchinson
  10. "My Delirium" — Ladyhawke
  11. "Dreams" — Passion Pit
  12. "Much Finer" — Le Tigre
  13. "Hong Kong Garden" — Siouxsie and the Banshees
  14. "Unstoppable" — Santigold

 

This is my September playlist for Spin that I'm obsessed with:

1. "Best I Ever Had" - Gavin DeGraw

2. "Roar" - Katy Perry

3. "Applause" - Lady Gaga

4. "Counting Stars" - OneRepublic

5. "Demons" - Imagine Dragons

6. "Best Song Ever" - One Direction

7. "Slow Down" - Selena Gomez

8. "Bring Me To Life" - Evanescence

9. "Miss Movin' On" - Fifth Harmony

10. "Done." - The Band Perry

11. "Really Don't Care" - Demi Lovato feat. Cher Lloyd

12. "Wings" - Little Mix

13. "Royals" - Lorde

14. "Acapella" - Karmin

15. "Troublemaker" - Olly Murs feat. Flo Rida

16. "4ever" - The Veronicas

17. "Little Lion Man" - Mumford & Sons

18. "I Don't Wanna Dance" - Hey Monday

19. "Two Is Better Than One" - Boys Like Girls feat. Taylor Swift

 

Another good one from August:

1. "Wagon Wheel" - Darius Rucker

2. "What About Love" - Austin Mahone

3. "Alive" - Krewella

4. "Still Into You" - Paramore

5. "Clarity" - Zedd feat. Foxes

6. "Can't Hold Us" - Macklemore feat. Ray Dalton

7. "C'Mon" - Ke$ha

8. "The Other Side" - Jason Derulo

9. "I Need Your Love" - Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding

10. "What I've Done" - Linkin Park

11. "Sweet Nothing" - Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch

12. "Die Young" - Ke$ha

13. "Someone That You're With" - Nickelback

14. "Bruises" - Train feat. Ashley Monroe

15. "Sweater Weather" - The Neighbourhood

16. "Beneath Your Beautiful" - Labrinth feat. Emeli Sande

 

So download those babies and go workout! If you ever want to tag along to a super sweaty Spin class, let me know!!

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Training for a Half Marathon

Flashback to the beginning of August: the following, fleeting thought runs through my brain, I think I'd like to run a half marathon.  And so it began. I set my sights on the Hands On House Half, a short 2 months away. As a personal trainer it's my job to push people beyond what they think they can do, but within the limits of what their body is able to do. I have to keep the client challenged to facilitate the changes they want to see. So, every once in a while I apply that go-getter mentality to my own life. Case and point: Training for a half marathon in less than 8 weeks. Here's some background for you: I run. A few years ago I used to only run. Side note: that's a terrible idea. I don't recommend it. In fact, I was forced to stop running because of a few serious overtraining injuries. Cross training is key. Now, I like to run on the days I'm not lifting or teaching spin. But aside from the Broad Street 10 mile run and a few 10K's over the years, I can't say I've ever had the inclination to run more than 4 or 5 miles at a time. 5 miles is long enough to give me a good sweat and for my legs to feel appropriately noodly. But 13.1 miles!? That's like my typical run...times 3!! What was I thinking?

I was thinking that sometimes it feels damn good to prove to yourself that you can do something you've never attempted to do before. So in an effort to make the most of this experience and see it through I did 3 things:

- Register. I had now spent 60 some odd dollars on a race, so I certainly wasn't going to back out and suffer that punishment.

- Recruit a friend. Misery loves company, right? There was no way I was going to commit to long runs without someone to complain with. I kid. Ok, not really.

- Make a plan. Thanks to my boss who is an ultra-runner and a few other coaching friends, I had a clear plan to follow. We started with two easy runs throughout the week, one of which was a tempo run at the track, followed by a long run on the weekends that incrementally increased over time (5 miles, 6, 7, 9.5, 10, etc.)

Carla (the sweet, innocent girl I dragged along with me) and I started our plan and stuck to it like glue. If we missed a run we made it up the next day. We met every weekend at 9am on the dot (the same time as our race) to push our bodies to new limits. Armed with Tylenol, bandaids and water we set out to do something we thought was impossible - using only our legs and our will power, we were going to run 13.1 miles (I should mention the fact that Carla was NOT a runner before this whole process, so, she rocks!)

Flash forward: Race day came. Saturday September 28th swiftly approached and we were ready. We had suffered a few aches and pains along the way, minor set backs, but we persevered. After 8 weeks of focused training, we weren't going to let anything stand in our way. And...we did it. We paced ourselves. We talked ourselves silly (real runners don't run with iPods), rehydrated when appropriate and pushed ourselves farther than we ever had before. And you know what? We felt pretty darn awesome when we crossed that finish line. No, I take that back, we felt really freaking awesome. We were proud, tired and sore but in that moment every second of hard work, training and discipline was worth it.

half marathon 1I crossed that baby off the bucket list, and you know what? I'm not ruling out the possibility that I'll run another half marathon in the future. Crazy, right!? Setting goals and exceeding your own expectations is an invigorating thing. This one body is all I have, and to show, both myself and those around me, what it can do is a powerful feeling. I know, I know...this is getting a little long and sappy, it's just a run,  right? But that's the thing - it wasn't. It was a challenge that changed me.

So, what are you going to challenge yourself with today?

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Workout Of The Day: Intervals

What's one of the best ways to burn fat? Intervals workouts. What's an interval workout? Well, it's a workout where you quickly raise your heart rate with a period of intense all-out-effort, followed by a short rest period. Repeated multiple times. This creates rises and falls in your heart rate, thus encouraging your body to burn more fuel (aka. calories). Think of a car. You get better gas mileage when you're on the highway, cruising at 55mph for an extended period of time. You waste more gas when you are constantly stopping and starting. When we apply this illustration to the human body we WANT to burn more fuel, resulting in a greater calorie burn, and more fat loss. Ta da! Make sense, right!? So, todays interval workout is as follows:

25 seconds on/5 seconds off - I use the 'Interval Timer' app on my iPhone.

What you need: a timer, a yoga mat, and a stability ball and/or bench (if you have one).

- Bench Jumpovers: In a tall plank position [on hands and toes with a straight torso], placing your hands either on the end of a bench, stability ball, or the floor, jump over your mat from left to right without rest.

check out the form here.

- Weighted Toe Touches: On your back, raising a dumbbell or weighted plate overhead while lifting one leg, crunch up so the weight meets your foot. Alternating feet, fully returning to the ground between each repetition.

not sure about form? Youtube shows you how.

- Mt. Climbers: With your hands flat on the ground, starting in a tall plank position, drive the knees into your chest, one at a time as quickly as you can. These can be done on the floor or with your hands on a stability ball for an added challenge.

this girl has got 'em going on.

- Russian Twist with Bicycle Legs: Sitting on your tailbone, holding a dumbbell or weighted plate, rotate your core to tape the weight on either side of your torso. Lift your legs off the floor for the added challenge. and if you're STILL feeling brave, extend one leg while twisting, similar to a bicycle crunch.

follow this form, but grab a weight and pick up the pace.

- Plank Skiers: Starting in a tall plank position, jump your legs out to the right of your mat, back and center, and then to the left. Keep this pattern going strong for 25 seconds! Right, Middle, Left, Middle, Right...

exactly like this.

- T-Pushups: Starting in push-up position (these can be done from your knees if you need to modify), complete a push up and then drop your heels, twisting your arm and torso up to the ceiling (your body will take on the shape of a 'T'). Drop back to center, push up, and twist to the opposite side.

make sure to watch this entire video, he shows you incorrect AND correct form.

- Plank Straddles: On hands and toes [tall plank position] jump both feet up and outside your hands, quickly jumping your feet back and in.

check this form out if you've never done them before.

- Plank with Alternating Toe Touch: In a tall plank position, twist and kick your bottom leg out to the side, tapping your toe with your opposite hand. Rotate to the opposite side, kick and tap (if right leg kicks, left hand taps and vise versa).

it sounds harder than it is. check it out.

 

Complete 4 rounds taking 1 minute rest between each round. Followed by 10-15 minutes of steady-state cardio. Go get sweatyyyyy!

I did this workout earlier and found it to be great on the quads, core and shoulders. SO much planking!!! I followed it up with 10 minutes of jumping rope. Let me know what you think.

Eat well. Live well. Be well.