Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Ever wonder what the secrets are to having a fat-loss frame of mind and living a fat-loss lifestyle?  People who are living that way have key elements to their success.  The following are 5 of those elements.  See how your current lifestyle compares to this list, especially if fat-loss is a goal of yours.  You may even surprise yourself and find that you are already on target!

  1. Healthy diet versus Fat-loss diet:  Yes – there is a difference.  Many people think that having their oatmeal and Greek yogurt everyday, or their turkey on a sandwich thin is going to ignite their fat-loss potential simply because they are eating foods that are healthier options than others.  That is not the whole picture.  Although you may be eating “healthy” – you are not necessarily eating for fat-loss.  The food that we consume sends different messages to the hormones – in simple terms…burn or store.  A caloric deficit does matter, but ultimately if you are eating the proper foods that balance the hormones then the calories will take care of themselves.  Which leads me into the next fat-loss tip….

 

  1. Protein and Veggies/Fiber:  Anyone living a fat-loss lifestyle knows to always go for the protein and veggies/fiber first.  Not only will you be sending the proper message to your hormones to help you tap into that fat-loss mode, but you will also find that the combination of the two will enhance the satiety factor.

 

  1. Label Reading:  This is crucial for living the fat-loss lifestyle.  First off – shop the perimeters of the store as much as you can since that is where your freshest foods will be.  If there is something that you buy with a label – READ IT!  Do not make any assumptions as to what the ingredients are.  The more “funky” ingredients contained in a food (and I use the word food lightly here) the more of a detrimental impact it can have on losing fat. 

 

  1. Sleep:  This is often missed by many people as aiding in fat-loss, but any fat-loss minded person knows the importance of sleep.  Sleep is the body’s time to reset hormones.  “Sleep lowers leptin, insulin, and cortisol levels and elevates melatonin, HGH, testosterone, and other hormones.  Sleep improves mood, burns fat, and slows the aging process.  Sleep is the ultimate anti-aging, muscle-building, fat-burning, and mood-enhancing process the body has available to it.”  (Teta, 2010) Get your uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep and be in bed by 10!

 

  1. Plan:  Fat-loss minded people always have a plan.  They are always thinking one step ahead.  If they are traveling they will pack appropriate snacks…they will call the hotel to see if the room has a fridge and/or a microwave…they will take the time to prep food such as cutting veggies all at once, cooking chicken breasts to have during the week…they will have their fridge stocked with easily accessible fat-loss friendly foods so getting hungry and picking the wrong foods is rarely a problem, etc.  Keep in mind the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

 

These are just 5 components of living and implementing a fat-loss lifestyle and having a fat-loss mindset.  Of course these are all in conjunction with an exercise protocol.  If you have all 5 under your belt – BRAVO!  If you are just missing one – then you know what to do – focus on that particular one.  If there is more than one – I would suggest picking just one that you are currently not doing to start and focus on that until you are comfortable and then pick the next one.  Fat-loss is a way of life and having the mindset that goes with it!  These 5 elements are a great place to start.

 

 

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So What.

Posted: May 16, 2012 in Fitness, Food, Healthy Living, Nutrition

As I sat around this past weekend being quite lazy and loving every minute of it (the weather was just not cooperative), I found myself saying “so what” to various things.  Blame it on the weather, my mood, whatever it was – it felt good to dismiss some things.  I would like to think that some of it was because I have come to an understanding on things that have bothered me, if not tortured me, in the past.  So maybe saying “so what” was my way of letting those things go and not letting them hold me hostage anymore.  So here are some of my “so what” revelations pertaining to me and some pertaining to what I have encountered from others…

So what if life isn’t perfect.  Isn’t that truly part of life – the absence of perfection?  Or at least the absence of an easily identifiable, measurable and agreed upon by all state of perfection? Besides, in my opinion, perfection is perception.  They say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”…well I say, “Perfection is in the eye of the perceiver”.  For some, perfection is a picnic in the park and for others a picnic would be far from perfection and it just wouldn’t be a perfect day unless it included fine dining.  Enjoy the here and now and stop waiting for perfection – it will never come until you decide it’s already here.  (I am not saying stop striving to be better, healthier, stronger, smarter, etc. I am just simply saying don’t let this moment pass until you realize that you can only be what you already are at this precise moment.  Got that?) 

So what if my jeans are snugger than they were just a short time ago.  It is because my body has shifted – in a good way – I might add!  Those squats, lunges and all the other exercises that I so frequently mumble expletives under my breath while doing them are really paying off.  The behind is s.l.o.w.l.y. getting rounder and more lifted so that means jeans are fitting differently.  It may be slow, but it is ultimately changing.  If the result of that happening is going up a size in jeans then so be it.  So what.  Don’t let your jeans define you – you define those jeans.  Rock ’em! 

So what if food has “natural” on the package when the ingredient list tells a completely different story.  If the ingredient list is a who’s who of something that reminds you of your former chemistry lab class – simply put it back on the shelf and walk run away!  Do not be fooled by fancy packaging or snazzy health claims.  If food has to claim to be healthy – that should be your first warning sign.  When is the last time you saw a claim on fresh produce to be healthy and natural and used fancy packaging to convince you to buy it? 

So what if you don’t have a solid block of time to workout.  Do you have 10 minutes?  Even 5?  Push-ups, air-squats, lunges, jumping rope, sprints and so much more can all help to create workout options when time and even equipment are factors.  Just make sure to keep the intensity high since time will be short. Try to repeat at another time during the day so you have accumulated more minutes by the time the day is over. It doesn’t need to be an all or nothing mentality when it comes to working out.  Something is better than nothing. 

So what if you can’t buy all organic food.  If you buy a bag of non organic apples instead of that bag of chips then you are headed in the right direction.

So what if you have the finest gym equipment and/or a membership to the “best” gym if you don’t use them! 

So what if I am 41.  I am leaner and stronger than I ever was in my 20’s and 30’s, albeit with a few more lines and “dimples”.  Don’t let age stop you.  It is never too late to change, but it won’t happen unless you make the choice.  Fit and fabulous at 40 is my motto…okay, okay 41, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it as using 40! 

So now it is your turn.  What, in your life, can you think of that you would feel so much better being able to say, “So What”?

Most people are familiar with the saying, “hindsight is always 20/20”.  I got to thinking about that the other day. I thought of some things in terms of nutrition and exercise (go figure) that if I had only known then, I could have saved myself so much money, aggravation, and time just to name a few. I also would have savored some of those moments back then even more.  So here is my list of what I had come up with initially…

1.  If I had known what an integral part my scale would play in me becoming obsessed with a number and the fact that there is life after the ditching of the scale – I would have ditched it a long time ago.  I have spent way too many years and have cried too many tears over that thing.  Hey – that sounds like a good start to one of those sappy sad songs! 

2.  Knowing that “a healthy diet doesn’t always equal a fat-loss diet” would have been ideal to know many moons ago.  I can’t begin to fathom how different things would have been if I had been privy to that insight.  I would have known what foods specifically generate fat-loss and could have made sure I focused on them!

3.  Did you know that there are hormones that are closely linked to fat-loss and that falling for the standard “calories in/ calories out” mentality is NOT the way to go?  It is not that calories don’t matter, but for fat-loss it is more than just burning more calories than you consume.  Could have told me that sooner!

4.  All those times when I wouldn’t dare stand up from my beach towel without shimmying into my shorts first…can I take them back?!  So much time and energy expended on worrying if my thighs were too big, etc.  Ugh!  How I wish I had flaunted it!  I should have really appreciated my body back then.  I even went so far as to wear these neoprene bands around each thigh hoping to sweat and shrink my thighs.  No, no – I didn’t wear them on the beach!  (Mental image – yikes!)  Of course I had no idea way back then that even if I could sweat some weight off – it would only be temporary.  Sigh… 

 Come to think of it – where is my thigh-master?   

Buns of Steel, anyone?!

 

5.  I would like all of the money back that I spent on the copious amounts of potions and lotions that contained various toxic chemicals in them when all I needed was a jar of coconut oil!  Not only can you use it as a full body moisturizer, but you can cook with it too. In fact the uses for coconut oil seem to go on and on. Read more about it…  http://wakeup-world.com/2012/03/02/160-uses-for-coconut-oil/  ( I fully understand that there may be times when severe skin conditions may warrant the use of conventional treatments, but again I urge you to be a detective to see if your food could be the potential cause and to read any and all labels before you put something on your skin.  You should be concerned with what you put on your body just as you should be with what you put in it.)

6.  You mean frozen pizza at midnight while having a movie marathon with my family wasn’t such a great idea?  I suppose those late night runs in college to Pat’s Steaks in Philly to top off our consumption of ‘beverages” for the night were not the best option either. Inside-outs and greasy pizza from Mario’s down the street from our dorm were staples freshman year.  My stomach is turning right now as I type this just thinking about that!  Oh, and let me not forget the countless nights in high school that ended at the local diner with cheese fries and gravy – AKA Disco fries!    However, I wouldn’t trade any of those memories – not for a moment – maybe just the food given what I know now.

7.  The countless lunches and dinners that came out of a jar or a box was not proper nutrition?  Who knew?!  And yes – it wasn’t too long ago that I too was under the spell of the low-fat/no-fat craze!  If I only knew that most of those Frankenfoods were not even food at all, I could have spared myself endless bouts with indigestion, bloating, feeling sluggish, and those annoying few extra pounds.  Not to mention my body would have appreciated it more!.  Eat. Real. Food!  I have learned that message loud and clear.

These are just a few of the things that I can appreciate now as I look back to my days gone by.  But as I said in my last blog, “when we know better we do better” and that is what I have to take away from all of this reflecting.  Sure, life would be much easier if we all had a crystal ball that could save us from making costly mistakes both monetarily and health wise, but we do the best we can with the knowledge that we have at the time.  Remember all of those mistakes are not failures. They are opportunities for feedback.  Use them to create a better today and tomorrow.  Nourish your brain with knowledge so that you can then properly nourish your body.  Then hopefully there will be less instances of would have, could have, should have …if only I had known better.  

So what do YOU know now that you wish you had known then?

Game On!

Posted: April 23, 2012 in Fitness, Food, Goals, Healthy Living, Nutrition

Spring has sprung! Although, as I am writing this, it feels anything but Spring out there today. There is just something about Spring and the weather that has everyone (me included) in a panic that summer is almost here which means bathing suit season and traveling.  Neither of those are a bad thing. In fact they both represent times of relaxation and freedom from the everyday routine.  But it should not be a free pass to forget all that is vital for good health unless you want to come back from your trip with more than memories and souvenirs.  Let your pictures serve as memories – not the extra pounds you have the possibility of bringing home with you!

There is a misconception that all bets are off when it comes to traveling and sticking to a plan.  But that’s just it – it is a misconception – it doesn’t have to be that way.  It is a choice!  With a little forethought there are quite a few things that you can do to make sticking to your goals a real possibility while on vacation.  There are some hurdles that people face, so I am going to address what I view as the top three and hopefully you will walk away feeling more confident that you CAN stick to a PLAN!

Let’s start with potential hurdle number one: nutrition on the road.  For those of you who are road tripping it for summer vacation here are a few tips to help you.

  • Prepackage snacks for the car:  apples, bananas, baggies of grapes, almonds, sliced peppers, etc.    
  • Pack a cooler with water (of course keep in mind that could increase the amount of pit-stops along the way and if you are like me that means more pit-stops = less sanity! I want to get where I am going! 
  • In your cooler you can also pack ham/turkey/cheese roll-ups for an easy finger food that won’t leave crumbs in your car.
  • Hard boiled eggs already shelled in your cooler make a great snack.  Yes, I do realize the potential for the smell!
  • When you stop for gas keep in mind that most places have nuts and some even carry fruit.
  • Pack a small container of your own salad dressing so that if you do stop at a fast-food place you can get a salad and top it with your dressing.  Try to get some protein on that salad for the extra satiety factor.
  • Feeling like a burger than just leave the bun. Take the burger.  “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli”.  Sorry!  I couldn’t resist!
  • If you are staying at a hotel – call ahead to find out if they have a fridge and/or a microwave.  Once when staying in a hotel I asked the front desk for a local super market, went there and bought a pre-cooked chicken roaster and kept that in my room to eat.
  • No matter where you stop – think protein and veggies first followed by some fruit!

Air travel may be less out of your control, but once again all is not lost.  If you only have time for fast-food while waiting for your flight then find some type of protein whether it is a grilled chicken sandwich or a burger and you know what to do with the bun.  Again, think protein first with veggies or fruit if you can as grab and go veggies may be harder to come by.  It is easier to grab an apple or banana than it is to grab an order of steamed broccoli!  You get my point.  You may have more options if you have more time and are able to order from a restaurant. It is very easy to be lured into buying some of those great smelling snacks that have now made their way into airports.  Cinnabon – really?!  They know your defenses are down.  You’re either tired and cranky from dealing with air travel, or you are on such a vacation high that all rational decisions are left behind. 

Now on to exercise – potential hurdle number two… all is not lost here either.  Your own body can be your greatest piece of gym equipment when traveling.

  • Push-ups, jumping jacks, sits-ups, dips, burpees, air-squats, lunges, etc. can be really effective for getting something in.  Pack a jump rope if you have one or resistance bands that take up no space at all.  I have been known to do lunges down the hallway of the hotel.  Again – call the hotel ahead of time to see if there is any kind of equipment on site. 
  • If you are going to the beach – the beach makes a beautiful setting for exercise.  Last year my son joined me for some sprints, burpees, air-squats and push-ups on the beach.  I would just caution you to scout out the area for your sprints before you start running.  Wouldn’t want to twist an ankle when you step into someone’s left over hole from an afternoon of digging in the sand!
  • Don’t forget that walking on vacation is a great form of recovery exercise especially if you have been overloading your workouts trying to prepare your body for vacation.  Walking will help to reduce stress and your stress hormones and will also help to balance you out.  The type of walking I am referring to is at a leisurely pace, not power walking.  Please don’t save this type of recovery exercise just for vacation.  Try to include something like a walk or some other form of recovery exercise everyday.

The next potential hurdle – hurdle number three – when it comes to travel and vacations is the mind-set that usually takes up residence in our head and wants to tag along for the trip.  I am speaking of the “I don’t care. It’s my vacation”, “I deserve it”, and the “I need a break” thoughts that are being packed along with your luggage!  Please don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t go and enjoy yourself. If you know me then you are probably familiar with my utter disdain for cooking.  I will look for every opportunity to get out of it and vacation fits that bill perfectly.  But just try to enjoy yourself in a manner that will not throw you completely off your game.  Eventually that vacation will come to an end and reality will set in.  If you find that your choices were less than stellar – DO NOT beat yourself up.  Wipe your hands of it and move on.   

This mind-set is not only evident on vacations, but is also ever-present for some on the weekends as well.  “I don’t care.  It’s the weekend.”  Yup –so it is.  Health is not important on the weekends?!… “I deserve it.”  You deserve to be healthy!… “I need a break.”  A break from your health?!  I am not perfect and don’t claim to be.  It is taken me some time to get where I am now. I have made many mistakes along the way both in exercising and nutrition, but have learned from them and used them as a catalyst for change in my life.  Those mistakes and the lessons I learned ultimately brought me to where I am now, and it is in a really great place.  It has been, and continues to be, a learning and growing process.  I love the quote from Maya Angelou that says, “When you know better you do better”.  I truly believe that. 

Since I have been asked by countless people how I personally deal with vacations and weekends (and holidays and birthdays for that matter), I will share with you my line of thinking.  So here is how I look at all of those things (aside from using many of the strategies above)…  If we are blessed each day to keep putting our two feet on the ground in the morning then part of that is dealing with all of those things.  It’s called life!  We have to learn to make peace with those things, embrace them as part of life – a very good part of life, be thankful for them and most of all – enjoy them.  Enjoy them in a way that respects who you are and who you want to be.  Don’t let those events control you.  You control them!

As you make your summer plans (or just your plans for the weekend) – remember to do just that – PLAN!  I have given you just some of many good tips to employ.  Have any others?  Please share!

Today, as I was getting ready to throw a tantrum in the gym, (okay let me rephrase that) I DID throw a tantrum due to my inability to get a succession of double unders* with my speed rope, the owner came over to me and mentioned that I was doing better.  Of course I thought he was crazy since the whip marks on my arms (and butt I might add) were showing a very different picture.  I looked as though I got in a battle with a cat and clearly I was not the winner!  But after he could see the look of dismay and defeat on my face combined with my stomping and throwing of the speed rope from before – he knew I wasn’t buying it.  That is when he said, “Progress is not linear.”  Hmmm.  I have to tell you that I have been thinking about that statement all day!  Now I don’t know if that is some famous quote or if it is something he made up – it really doesn’t make a difference to me.  Either way, it had an impact on me.

I think that is the kind of statement that you take away whatever meaning from it that you need most.  For me, I got that progress isn’t always going to be steady – that there will be ups and downs – feeling like one minute you are moving forward and the very next minute you feel like you just set yourself back a few paces.  The object is to never give up.  If you do that then you won’t ever have progress and you will become stagnant.  That should not be an option!

We all have things in our lives that get the best of us.  It is what we do as a reaction to those things that matters.  Although I threw a hissy fit, or two – may have even mumbled a few words not appropriate for print – I kept going.  My frustration fueled my determination.  Take note of those things getting the best of you and devise a plan to attack them head on.  It may take some time, a lot of tantrums and feelings of dismay, or in my case all of the above plus many whip marks, but ultimately the defeat will only be if you give up.  Don’t let it defeat you – defeat it!

I will share one insight I have definitely gained from those double unders- if you ever want to get information out of me – the threat of the sting from a cable strike from a speed rope should do the trick just fine.  Just sayin’!

I am very thankful for those wise words today and of course for all the guidance, support, and patience I get from the trainers and my fellow members at my gym each and every workout!  CrossFit LKN – you rock! 

So what is your Kryptonite? What are you going to do about it?  I would love to hear from you and what “progress is not linear” means to you.  Please feel free to reply so we can all share our thoughts and maybe gain new perspectives from each other. 

Double Unders – I will defeat you!

*If you are not familiar with a double under it is an exercise done on a jump rope in which the rope makes two passes per jump instead of just one.

Proactive Not Reactive

Posted: March 15, 2012 in Fitness, Healthy Living

When asked what would be the biggest hurdle that prevents people from regularly exercising do you know what I hear as the most common answer?  Can you guess?  It is time, or better yet, lack there of.  Understandably so.  It seems that most of us have stretched ourselves too thin when it comes to commitments and now with the advancements in technology we are never far from being “plugged in”. Our work, emails and even such things as Facebook follow us wherever we go.  Ever been so panic-stricken when you realized you left your cell phone at home?  What’s happened to us? 

So let’s look at a scenario which sadly is not uncommon in today’s world.  Each day of the week is filled with things that need to be done:  job, taking care of kids/family, cooking, cleaning, laundry, lawn care …and so on and so on.  There is typically no time left for exercise.  Right?  Wrong!!!  You go through your life day-to-day and then one day you have a doctor’s appointment and you hear the news that you knew was coming.  It was on your list to do, but other things prevented it from happening.  The doctor tells you have no choice, but to change your ways and that includes exercise (and of course it should go without saying that nutrition is a key component as well).  It is not an option at this point says the doctor – you are on your way to diabetes, your blood pressure is dangerously high, your cholesterol is out of control and the mention of a buffet of various medications is in your near future.  Now – how many of you would sit back and take that news, leave the doctor’s office and continue living your life as if nothing inevitably dooming your health was on the horizon?  I am guessing that not too many of you would take that news lightly.

You leave there feeling the insurmountable pressure that things have to change in your life.  But what?  You already claimed that you had not a minute more in your day to exercise and for that matter – eat right.  The responsibilities of your day didn’t just change from yesterday to the day you got the news.  But something has changed – the urgency of putting your health first because it really isn’t an option anymore.  The situation has become dire and will only increase in significance if left unattended.  You better believe that most of us having received that news will find time to do what we need to do in order to turn our health around.  Maybe it looks something like less time on the computer, setting the alarm clock a few minutes earlier each day to exercise, preparing meals on the weekends, giving up one of the nightly shows and recording it for another time or not volunteering for another committee.  What ever it has to be, it HAS to be!  We need to be proactive with our health and not reactive.  If we take steps each and every day to be healthier then eventually we will fall into new habits that will only benefit us, and in turn, our families will reap the benefits as well. Of course there are no guarantees in life, but I am sure going to do things that increase my odds of leading a healthier, happier life.  Who’s with me?!

There is a favorite quote of mine that says, “Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness” (Ed Stanley). Take a few minutes and ponder that – let it really resonate with you.  None of us have time to be sick.  And not only will that illness impact us, but imagine the ramifications it will have on our families, on all things that we hold so dear in this life!

It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing mentality with exercise.  Certainly something is better than nothing especially when you do it consistently. That consistency will lead to routines and better habits.  As always start off slowly and make sure you have your doctor’s permission if you are dealing with health issues already.

Remember, “The truth is you can spend your life any way you want, but you can spend it only once” (John Maxwell).  So what’s it going to be – proactive or reactive?

Flashback

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Fitness, Goals, Healthy Living, Nutrition

The year was 1980.  The cost of a first class postage stamp was 15 cents…the phrase “Who Shot JR?” was born…CNN is officially launched…the world lost a music legend when John Lennon was shot…and it was the year that the Rubik’s Cube was licensed to be sold by the Ideal Toy Corp.  Ahhhh – the Rubik’s cube!  IMO – one of the most addictive, frustrating, challenging and yet mind numbing at times – brain teaser to hit the scene.  And what a scene it was at 10 years old!  So now you quick math whizzes – probably the same ones that could solve that forsaken thing – have just figured out my age!

Let’s talk about the Rubik’s Cube for a minute…assuming you even remember it!  Can you think back to what it felt like when you first got it?  Did you have that initial thrill of the prospect of being one of the first ones to actually solve it?  Did a little obsession creep in as you couldn’t put the thing down because the determination to finish it got the better of you?  If you did indeed solve it, on your own I might add, how did it feel to overcome what may have seemed like an impossible feat at first?  Or were you like me (time to come clean) who was so focused on the end goal that I lost sight of the whole journey to get there and eventually out of sheer frustration ripped every one of those colored stickers off and put them back on as if I had solved it!  But of course there was no satisfaction, no sense of reward when I did that because I had taken the easy way out – I CHEATED!  Oh it feels so good to finally come clean! And if you are one of the ones that already figured my age, you know how long I have been burying that secret!  I set out to achieve a goal and bailed when the journey got too difficult.

Fast forward to the here and now and let’s take the Rubik’s Cube and apply those same questions/scenario to another very taxing journey:  losing weight/getting fit and healthy.  Many of us set out on a plan to lose weight/get fit and healthy and in the beginning we are determined to do whatever it takes and a little obsession can take over.  Sheer will-power comes into play, but will-power can be fleeting, exhausting and may even leave us down-right depleted.  Then the realization hits us that this journey may not be what we had anticipated at all.  Where does that leave us?  Overwhelmed, frustrated, and defeated to name a few.  So how many of you would do like I did with the Rubik’s cube:  CHEAT – look for the easy way out?!  What sense of accomplishment can that ultimately provide?

When it comes to losing weight/getting fit and healthy it is just like the Rubik’s Cube.  It is going to be challenging and sometimes when you think you are so close to getting it – another hurdle crops up.  You may make a move that you think is the right one and then you realize it wasn’t one that will get you closer to success.  That’s when it’s time to stop, reevaluate, and make a different move. Some people are going to get to the solution sooner than others, but no matter how long it takes the end result is one of pride, elation, and self-accomplishment!

If you take the easy way out, look for constant shortcuts, or cheat when it comes to losing weight/getting fit and healthy, you will find that you are only cheating yourself – your health. 

So if you owned a Rubik’s Cube where is it now?  Long gone?  In a box somewhere forgotten?  Don’t do that with your health.  Don’t give up. Don’t lose sight of you!  If you don’t have your health – what do you really have? 

Gambling with your health is ultimately gambling with your life! 

Think about it!