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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How To Stay Accountable-Write Everything Down

If you aren't keeping a health and fitness journal, it is something you should be doing. When you actually have to write down, or type in an app, what you have eaten, and what your workout was, it changes things. It is like you are telling on yourself. Some smartphone apps let you connect with friends, which is even more intimidating. The biggest challenge you may face is total honesty. If you aren't being honest, there is no point in the journal.
Food journals can be a curse, but they are also a blessing when you actually use them. I prefer myfitnesspal. You can create an account on your PC, or you can download the free app. It has features that allow you to sync other apps to is, for example, Runtastic. This logs your workout for you in real time when your run is complete. Time saver! I encourage you to find your favorite journal, but here is what the myfitnesspal app looks like:
One of the greatest benefits of using an app like this, is when you go to eat in a restaurant, you can't always guess what would be the healthiest option. If you have an app, it takes the guesswork out of it for you, giving you even less of a chance to blow it.
Using a fitness app allows you to set goals, keep track of fat, protein, carb ratios, track calories consumed and burned, and track your workouts. They are very simple to use. You should be able to figure it out on your own. There are even bar code scanners to make it super easy. I become obsessed with my fitness app. It annoys my husband and kids. I like to try to decide what I am going to order before I get to a restaurant so that they don't get annoyed by me using it at the table. I have to remind myself that this is MY journey, not theirs. So just a heads up...be considerate, not annoying.
Whatever app you use, I hope you don't get all caught up in the calories and graphs. The important thing is to eat HEALTHY, not to starve yourself. Never let a food journal keep you from eating. You need the food. Calories are not your enemy. Processed food and no exercise is your enemy. 
One more thing...never forget to cheat! Cheating is what keeps you sane. Always make sure you have your balance in your lifestyle. Your lifestyle has to be one that you can see yourself living with for the rest of your life. Not to say that there won't be modifications, just realize that you are in this for the long haul. Otherwise, what's the point in starting?


Monday, April 28, 2014

How Starving Yourself Is Making You Fat

The general rule for managing your weight is energy (calories) in, energy (calories) out. It only makes sense to think that if you want to lose weight, you should just stop eating, right? Wrong! First of all. let me be the first to admit that I have tried this approach. I'm not gonna lie....If you do the whole "starve yourself thin" approach to weight loss, initially you WILL lose weight. The reality, though, is that you are not doing your metabolism any favors, and the weight loss WILL come to a very abrupt halt when your body goes into survival mode.

Our bodies are smart. The problem is, we tend to rely more on what our brain is trying to trick us into doing, and less on what our body is telling us it needs. Here is what you may not realize about body fat. Body fat is a form of energy storage for our bodies. Whatever your body doesn't use, it stores it away for later. When you starve yourself for weight loss, your body will go into starvation mode. This is how it defends itself, and this is what you do not want to have happen. In order to conserve energy, your metabolism will slow down, and your weight loss will stop dead in it's tracks. What happens is, you have told your body that it may not get anymore food for awhile, so it now thinks it has to fight to hang onto every bit of fat and calories it DOES have. When you starve yourself, you will eventually crack and binge eat on the heaviest, most unhealthy, and most dense food you can get your hands on. Now, since your body thinks it may not get another meal for awhile, it is going to store THIS food as fat also. Now you're in a vicious cycle.

If you are trying to lose or maintain weight, you have to take care of your metabolism. You have eat! Only, you have to eat right.... By feeding your body several small, healthy, snack/meals a day, it doesn't have to continue to store up the calories that you do give it, because you have trained it to rely on the next meal for it's energy. It knows there will be more food coming, giving it the green light to use up what you are giving it. This is when your metabolism really works for you. Your body is a smart piece of equipment. You can't outsmart it. It doesn't matter what the number on the scale is, if you are not feeding your body properly, it will store all it gets as fat. This is why we have saddle bags, love handles, muffin tops, etc. Our DNA determines how and where our bodies store fat. This is why you can't target fat loss. If you want real results, you have to go back to the basics of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating small, healthy meals several times a day, and exercising. There are no shortcuts.
So many people react to an upcoming event, ie. swimsuit season, vacation, reunion etc., with the attitude of omg I have waited until the last possible minute to get into the shape I want for                 (fill in the blank). I believe this is where the majority of starvation diets stem from. In their despair, they take drastic action and hope for drastic results. But, drastic action will only get you further from where you want to be, and leave you right back at square one when you are staring the next "event" in the face. Stop doing this! Healthy living isn't about what you show up looking like to your best friends' wedding. Healthy living is what you look and feel like 365 days a year. It is what you practice as your general lifestyle. Anyone can go on a diet and lose weight. It is how you got there and how you stay there that defines your health and fitness as a whole. 
If you are trying to lose fat, the scales will not be your best friend. I encourage you to put them away and buy yourself a tape measure and a camera. You can't monitor fat loss with scales. If you try to do this, you WILL be disappointed. Also, it is important for you to get fat burning foods into your diet. Some foods I recommend to help with your fat loss are; beans, fiber, antioxidants, tea, and lots and lots of water. This is not a quick process. When fat loss is your goal, you must have patience. I only pray that you adopt this a permanent lifestyle, so that you can enjoy the benefits of healthy living every day of the year. When you can finally look at health and fitness for what it truly is, your life will never be the same. If I can help you with how to get started on a healthy journey, please feel free to email me. I am always more than happy to help get you started.

On an unrelated note....If you don't know me well, you may not know that I am an airhead. It used to frustrate me, some of the stupid things I do. Now, I find humor in my own screw ups and laugh at myself often. I thought it could be fun to share a moment from time to time, so here it is. I am not the best cook. I can bake way better than I can use the stove. I believe this is because I lack patience. This morning, I was boiling some eggs to have on hand as a good protein snack. Because I have issues standing over things when they are on the stove, I typically get distracted and leave the room. While my eggs were boiling away, I totally forgot I was cooking anything, until I kept hearing a strange sound from the other room. My first "airhead" thought was, "something is NOT right with my washing machine!" But because I was too wrapped up in what I was doing, I didn't bother to check it out. Several minutes later, I began to smell my boiling eggs. I ran to the kitchen to see if they had boiled over, or finished cooking, and there was not a drop of water in the pot. Yes, my washing machine is fine. I do, however, have some lovely hard fried eggs to snack on now. Surely they're edible, right? I guess I will find out! And this is what it looks like when you hard fry eggs.....

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Safety Tips For Runners

Running often gets a bad rap. A lot of physicians are undecided whether the risks outweigh the benefits. New studies have suggested that distance running can shorten your life span. I believe that everyone has to decide for themselves whether to take the risks, but I prefer to take the risks. I know what I feel like when I run, vs. when I don't. I know that if I'm not running, I get lazy. I know that I love how a crappy, stressful day can look completely different after a good run.  I love the sense of accomplishment that I feel when I have set a new PR, completed a race, or tackled a new goal. I love the running community and all that it offers. I understand that someday my knees may be shot, or I could suffer an injury that I don't bounce back from, but there is risk in anything we do. Running is one of those risky things you can participate in that actually has amazing health benefits with the added bonus of the thrill or "high" that you get from it. When you step onto a roller coaster, you have risks, but you do it for the thrill! You still get on the coaster, knowing that the safety strap could malfunction, or the car could derail, but you love the high you get from it so you are willing to take the risk for the love of the high. Running is the same for those of us that share the love for it. It is worth the risk to us. Some might call us "crazy", but we love to be called "crazy"!
Lately, I have had running safety on my mind and thought I would share some of my tips with you. If you are already an experienced runner, you have your own safety routines. I still find it helpful whether you are a beginner or a pro to share each others safety tips. One thing about runners is that we may be "crazy", but we also like to protect ourselves and each other. I hope whether you are new or old to the sport, that you get something from my own personal tips (listed in no particular order).
  1. I know you are proud of your hard work, but DO NOT post your maps on social network unless you are just trying to get yourself abducted and/or killed. You can still post your accomplishments without giving every detail. A lot of you probably even start your run from your home. Posting a map with regular running routines and times is letting the whole world see where you live, where you've gone, and approximately how long you will be gone. Don't give too much info. All we need to know is how far you went and how fast you did it. Stop over sharing for you own safety.
  2. Switch things up. It is hard not to go out for your run at the same time each day. You have your routine and know what time of day works best for you, but you should change things up. This includes running the same route every single time you go out. Don't be predictable. Be smart. 
  3. If you do choose to run with ear buds, don't blare your music at such a high volume that you drown out all other noise. You need to be alert and aware of your surroundings. 
  4. I always run with pepper spray. If you have ever had an encounter with an angry dog while out on a run, you probably carry some kind of protection with you. Whatever your protection of choice may be, make sure you never leave home without it. Getting too comfortable can be a big mistake. Always make sure you are prepared to protect yourself. 
  5. Run against traffic. Elementary, I know, but it is surprising how many runners I see running with the flow of traffic. There may be sharp curves or running lanes that force you to break this rule, but as a rule, run against traffic!

On a fun note, I am sharing the Ten Commandments For The Runner. Hope you enjoyed it and found my tips useful. Stay safe out there!



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Diet" is a four letter word

When people tell me about their latest diet, I cringe! I want to be supportive, and you do have to start somewhere, but when will we all learn that diets do not work?! And I don't know about you, but when I tell myself "ok I am officially on a diet", I am suddenly wanting to binge eat on anything that would not be classified as "diet" food! Fad diets will get your attention. Advertising companies are PAID to sell you products that sound like miracles. Their job is to convince you that you can't do this without their help. They get paid to convince you that their way is the best, most affordable, most effective, easiest way to shed pounds. And because all of fitness fanatics are preaching harder and harder about how fitness isn't about the number on the scale, and diets don't work, they are trying to spin off of our truth and play with key words to trick you into thinking that you are doing something good for yourself. Words like "low fat", or "fat free", or "all natural".

People are trying to make money in the fitness industry, and there is nothing wrong with that. I want to do the same.....You just have to watch out for the unhealthy and unrealistic promises. Some people just really don't seem to be able to wrap their brains around how to live healthy without the help of some coaching. I get that. There is nothing wrong with that. Just always be cautious of the gimmicks! Don't waste your energy or money on these programs. They over promise and under deliver every single time. Sure, you may shed some pounds. You may feel better about yourself initially. But the real truth comes after the honeymoon phase. The real truth comes when you get to day 60 of the 60 day program and don't know how to maintain, which results in you going back to your previous lifestyle until eventually you are back to where you started.

If you are looking at a program that has an end, then you need to keep looking. No healthy lifestyle change has an end! Diets have an end. You have a goal to lose X pounds, you get there, then what? You stop the diet and gain it all back.... Now you're on a roller coaster. You know you CAN lose the weight. You know HOW to lose the weight. But what you haven't learned is how to maintain the desired weight. That is a diet.

I do want to say that I don't think a diet is bad way to BEGIN your new lifestyle, as long as you are looking at it just as that. If you can think "lifestyle change" with a certain "diet" to kick start your new lifestyle, then I say go for it. A kick start diet should be short lived. I would commit to no more that 2-4 weeks before you change what you are doing to a more permanent way of living. I say this because some people truly need to shed some weight before starting a good exercise program. Some people just need to wrap their brains around a new lifestyle and ease into it. And some people just need a place to start. I would like to call this Phase 1 of your new lifestyle though, as apposed to calling it a "diet".

The thing you need to know about your body when it comes to changing it, is that it WILL adapt to what you are doing. When it adapts, you have to change what you are doing or you will see no further results. This is the biggest reason I say that "Phase 1" is especially useful. It takes your body 3-4 weeks to adapt to change. Your body's job is to protect and repair itself. It HAS to adapt in order to function. It is during the times that it is still in shock that you will see change. This is one BIG reason that diets do not work! You will hear people say they lost XX pounds in the first 2 weeks, then after that it really slowed down. By week 4, they are calling it a "plateau". The plateau is your signal to change things up! It is not your excuse to quit. I don't care WHAT you are doing to shed pounds, or get healthy, you WILL plateau. And unless you are happy with where you are, that is the time to increase intensity and adjust your eating.

There are other reasons that you will drop weight faster in the beginning of a lifestyle change, such as your metabolism changes with your weight loss. The more you weigh, the less effort it will take to shed those initial pounds. It is not common for me to talk about weight loss. I do not believe in monitoring your success on the scales. I believe that everyone would benefit from staying away from the scales when it comes to living healthy, as it leads to going to unhealthy measures to hit a desired number and that number may have been good for you when you in high school, but not so much now. When you are working out right, and building muscle, the scales are going to disappoint! My advice to you is stay off the scales.
You have probably heard it said that healthy living is 80% diet, 20% exercise. I surprisingly have an opinion about that! It is up to you to decide what you want for yourself. It is up to you to stop comparing your body to others. It is up to you to realize that you were uniquely made, and that what works for one, may not work for you. It is up to you to learn your body. Learn what makes it respond. Learn what makes you feel good. Learn what foods you need to eat to feel good before, during, and after a workout. It is up to you to decide what lifestyle you want to live. How obsessed you want to be. For me? I want to be healthy and fit. I don't need to be skinny, and I sure don't want to be fat. I want to live a lifestyle that allows me to eat healthy and workout the majority of the time, and leaves me with room to let loose and enjoy the things I love without feeling guilty. 
For me, I make my healthiest choices when I am eating alone. And let's face it, most of us eat the majority of our meals alone. We come together at the dinner table, and most of the time on the weekends, but the majority of my meals are either not shared, or eaten in rather a hurry. I also have learned that I can't make a huge deal out of each meal. Nobody should manage their days around their meals.... It is important to plan ahead and do any meal prepping that helps you make healthy choices, but when your whole day revolves around food, something's gotta change. I also find it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle when I am not depriving myself. If I want a cupcake, I eat a cupcake! If I deprive myself of the cupcake, I will end up binge eating on 4 cupcakes in one sitting. You have to learn what your own weaknesses are. They may be different from mine, and probably are, but my point is, don't deprive yourself in such a way that you will fall flat on your face. Learn how to balance the good with bad.

So lastly, I just want to remind you that water is key! Key to fitness, key to health, and key to healthy weight! If you are dehydrated, you can feel sluggish, lack energy, experience headaches, anxiety, increased body temperature, experience hunger pangs, and so on. If you need that coffee in the morning, drink the coffee, You know I do! If you have to have that 3pm diet coke to keep you from having a meltdown that leads to binge eating, drink the diet coke (although I'd rather you learn to live without it, but who am I kidding? I indulge too.), but whatever you do....DRINK ALL THE WATER!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How I compare a runners body to a car....

It's no secret that I love to run. Running is my exercise of choice. I will admit that I am not an expert or a professional. I'm merely a girl with a passion for the sport. Shoot! I'm not even very good at it! But that doesn't stop me from loving it. My point is, what I'm about to tell you in this blog is purely my personal oberservation, not some profound professional opinion Having said that, I believe you will find that I make some pretty valid points. 

Chances are, if you're 16 or older, you own a car. If you're like most car owners, you try to take pretty good care of your car. You know how expensive it is to repair it, so you make sure you keep it maintained and road ready so that you can depend on it daily. Proper car care isn't hard. Oil changes, fuel, water, brakes, tires, etc. And when you don't do these things like you should, you run the risk of damaging the car or having it quit on you when you need it most.

Much like a car, a runner has to have proper shoes (tires), proper food (fuel), plenty of water (water, duh), etc. What happens if you drive your car for extended periods on bad tires? It gets all out of alignment, isn't as safe to drive, doesn't perform as well, and causes other problems. If you are running in shoes that are old and worn, eventually you will experience pain and discomfort. Left unchanged, this will lead to injury. Much like a car, if you break something on it, or injure something on your body, you're out of commission for an undetermined amount of time (depending on the injury). Keep good shoes. Trade them out when they're worn, about every 6 months. Don't risk the complications that running in worn out shoes can and will cause. 

The same goes for fuel. You can't put crappy fuel in your car and expect it run well for you, and you can't put crappy food in your body and expect it to run well for you. You will feel sluggish, drained, and slow if you're eating crap and training. This is true no matter what you do. If you eat like crap, you'll feel like crap. 

One of the biggest mistakes runners make is not hydrating properly. And when I say "properly" you can't wait until the morning of a long run to start getting your water in and expect to be properly hydrated. And you for sure don't want to hydrate AFTER the fact. Proper hydration is something that you should always be working on. And again, this is true no matter what you do. So many people are trying to function on little to no water and lean to sodas and other sugary drinks for thirst. This is a mistake. You can definitely expect an injury if you are not getting your water intake. Like a car, you will over heat and cause serious illness/injury to yourself without proper hydration. Water is critical. Drink it! Drink LOTS of it!

These are just some simple things to think about as the running season is getting started for many of us. I want to encourage you to get out there and get some miles in, and to take care of your body so that is will be there for you. We need to be able to depend on our cars, and we need to be able to depend on our bodies. 

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Winter 2013/2014 Sucks

I know I am not alone when I say that this winter has been one of my least favorites ever. I committed myself to fitness and a healthy lifestyle around 5 years ago when I woke up one day, fed up with how I felt at such a young age. I wasn't what you would call "fat", but I was certainly not "fit" either. In my commitment, I learned of my own capabilities and stopped putting limits on myself. I found that I love running and I love exercise. I also found that my love for it was contagious to others, which led me become certified in personal training. But, this winter.....ugh!

Now for my confession that I would prefer not to talk about, but I am going to show some serious vulnerability and share with you just how real I am. I believe that when you are just starting a new health and fitness journey, it is overwhelming. I believe that you can look at someone like me, that has this love for running and for eating healthy foods, and get a little annoyed. I believe that it would be easy for you to feel like I don't understand what it's like to be you. To struggle with will power, crazy schedules, or lack of interest. So, that is why I am choosing to open up today about my winter struggle.

Whenever we get off track and get lazy in our healthy lifestyle, or just let ourselves go, we ALWAYS have a reason. I like to refer to these as "excuses", because that's what they are. Usually they are just plain crap, but we tell ourselves otherwise so that we don't feel like such a failure. Let me say this before I go on, no matter what has gone on in your life to contribute to the current lifestyle choices you are making, you are not a failure. If you are reading this and relating to it, all the while wrestling with guilt over letting yourself go, you are not a failure. If you are breathing air right at this moment, you are not a failure. I may not know who you are, but I can say with 100% confidence that you are not a failure. I know this because healthy living has no finish line. Your body will change as you age, have babies, grow old, get sick, get well, etc. You will never truly arrive when it comes to your fitness goals, and as long as you still have breath you will never truly fail. It is never too late to make yourself better.

So my confession here is that this winter has single handedly tried to suck the life right out of me. It has done a great job of trying to rob me of my fitness, but it has not succeeded at squelching my spirit. When I committed to a new lifestyle 5 years ago, I fell in love with it. It became part of me as I found my strengths and weaknesses and learned about what I like and dislike. I truly dislike winter. I dislike the cold, the short days, the wind, the snow, and all else that come with it. Anything below 70 degrees makes me cranky! It robs me of my joy, because I allow it to. I don't enjoy being cooped up inside a gym. It's not me. I don't enjoy attending classes of sorts, i.e. yoga, zumba, spinning, etc. I don't mind a running buddy, but I don't need one either. I am happy to go it alone. I don't even need music to entertain me on a run. It was trial and error for me to find what I love. When we had to endure a winter like we have, my attitude turned sour and I just quit. Yes, that's right.....I said quit. I say that in a temporary way, of course, but the fact that I have let mother nature rob me of something I love says a lot about the fact that I am human just like you. You can learn from this that EVERYONE goes through a rough patch.

What I am happy to say to you though, is that I am back in control of my attitude. Mother nature did not win..... In fact, the first episode of warm weather we had, I was out there running 6 miles a day until I found myself with an injury. Don't do that.... I know better, but my enthusiasm got the best of me. If you are uneducated about anything fitness, rule #1 is pace yourself! Overuse injuries can happen in any workout regimen so be sure to listen to your body and slowly increase your intensity. Be smart!

The moral to my post today is that even marathon running personal trainers that are obsessed with fitness have times of struggles. These episodes aren't going to be the end of you. They will make you stronger. They will only last as long as you let them. You have the power to take back control of the situation, and you can't blame winter, or busy schedules, or the flu, or anything else, because the truth is, there are no real excuses. There are only situations and challenges. What you choose to do in those situations and challenges is what makes the difference. Sometimes you will get it wrong. You are human. Don't beat yourself up. Get a handle on it and move on. I promise you will be stronger.

p.s....winter 2013/2014 truly sucks..... The end!