Archive of ‘Fitness’ category

Welcome to my fitness category. Come to this section when you need a little inspiration and motivation. Everyone needs a little encouragement now and then. My hope is that I can provide just the quote, story, workout, tip or trick to help you get up and moving even when you don't want to. I will share stories of trials and triumphs that are bound to inspire you and brighten your day. In addition, I'll share some easy, creative, family friendly ideas for workouts, healthy everyday living and incorporating fitness into even the busiest of lives.

If you want it, go get it!

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I was recently diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the hip after almost a year of doctor appointments, two MRI’s, physical therapy and lots of pain and frustration. I mean, I m as healthy as they come, what gives? Well, even bad things, can happen to fit and healthy people. At some point our bodies wear down, are predisposed to particular conditions or simply age. While none of this is fun, it’s a reality and happens to the best of us.

After being in a bit of denial for a while, trying to work around it and even pretend that I could still do all the same activities I’ve always done, I came to the realization that I needed to change things up for my own good. I was told I will need a hip replacement eventually, but how soon is up to me. I’ve given up running (other than a mild jog with my dog,) sprinting, jumping, racing and have made some changes to my weight lifting routine. Giving these things up have been depressing and have left me frustrated and unchallenged.

Change can be hard no matter what. When you have found something that you love and that is effective for you, it’s hard to stop doing it or do things differently.  However, sometimes change is inevitable and required in order to move forward in life and continue to be your best. Because I believe in being my best always, I needed to embrace change and find something new that meets my ongoing need to be challenged, have fun and continue to be fit and healthy.

Realizing you need to change and actually doing it are two totally different things. Most people know they need to make a change,  say they need to change, but unfortunately never really move on it. Not me! Just two weeks ago I told myself that I wanted to get back into tennis. I played in high school, loved the level of competitiveness, loved that it was outdoors and thought it would be less impactful then my running.

Within days of making my decision to change my activities and take on a new sport, I hired a tennis pro for private lessons, applied for membership through the USTA, attended evening drop in trainings and have been ranked by a pro for placement in a league. You see, I believe that in order for things to happen, you have to make them happen. You have to make yourself a priority and go for what you want or you will never move forward, reach your goals or change. And waiting for things to change, procrastinating or making excuses will only keep you from realizing your dreams.

So if you are “stuck in a rut'” need to make a change for health reasons, aren’t being challenged, are bored or just want to change things up, then just do it. Figure out what you want, make a plan, and go get it!

 

“Park Course” Workout

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So I know we need rain, but I’m loving this amazing weather! There is nothing more motivating then good weather, it just makes me smile. Weather like this just calls you outside to be active. On days like this, I’d be hard pressed to step inside a gym when the best gym of all is right outside my door. Plus, it gives me a chance to exercise my dog and hubby at the same time. Usually hubby watches me do my outside workout while he fetches Bella, but today I convinced him to join me in this fun outdoors circuit.

Like many newer parks, we were recently blessed with a park that not only has a beautiful playground and tennis courts, but has a cool workout circuit. Better yet, it is in walking/jogging distance from my house. This past Sunday morning, we leashed up Bella as always, laced up our tennis shoes and headed out for a morning of sweat and sun at our local park. While you may not have a park with a built in circuit, with a little imagination I’m sure you can create your own challenging circuit.

Warm up: 1 mile run around our local middle school track. After we jogged over to the park to start our “Park Course” Workout.

We completed the following circuit 3x through, resting only if needed to keep our heart rate up and burn maximum calories.

circuit:

Abdominal Leg Lifts x 30

Reverse Pull ups x 20 (The lower the bar, the more challenging)

Body weight dips x to failure (If these are too advanced, do dips off of a bench)

Step up repeaters (stay on one leg for 15 and then switch legs)

Come Clean To Get Lean!

As a trainer I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the years all in search of the same thing, to get fit and Healthy. More than that, these people, like myself want to not only feel good, but they want to look good. Looking good is the “icing on the cake,” evidence that you have achieved your goal of fitness and health in many cases. But most of all, it’s the ultimate reward.

Unfortunately, looking good is usually the last in line. Often people begin to feel the positive results of working out and getting fit before the actually see them. In addition, many people conquer the workout thing before they conquer the food thing. In fact, many believe that because they are workout out so hard, the rest should just follow.

That’s not exactly how it works. In fact, you’ve probably heard it before, “food is 80% and workout is 20%.” This really is true. You could work out for hours everyday but if you don’t eat right, you’re never going to see your hard work. You could have muscles galore, but if they are covered up by fat, you’ll never see their beauty! Even the smallest layer of fat can disguise those hard earned muscles.

If you want to get lean, you have to come clean! What I mean by this is that until you are truly honest about what and how much you are eating, you will never fully realize that beautiful body underneath the surface. It is a well know fact that most people underestimate their calorie intake by 300-500 calories minimum. Can you imagine if you are taking in that overage daily, you are fighting a battle that you will simply never win. And trust me, that is a conservative figure. Most people are eating far more than that.

In addition, many are under the impression that Healthy, vegetarian, vegan and organic eating is somehow calorie free. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have with clients that include them making statements like “but I eat all organic” or “I eat totally healthy.” While that is great and all, just because you eat organic doesn’t ensure you will lose weight. It’s all about really coming clean (being honest) about what you are consuming and then making changes to your diet accordingly and staying consistent.

So if you are ready to come clean to get lean, let’s get started. For the next week, write down everything you eat, noting the exact quantity. Read food labels so you are aware of serving size, calories, fat, sugar etc. Better yet, use a free App on your phone, computer or IPad. My favorite is myfitnesspal.com. It is a free app that tracks all of your food, whether you are eating out or at home. It allows you to put in the exact serving size and even shows you all your nutritional values so you can have a full picture of what you are putting into your body. I guarantee that you will be shocked by what you are consuming. And remember, you must include every bite and morsel!

I had a client recently that was struggling with weight loss. When I asked her to describe some of her meals, we quickly discovered that while she was eating healthy overall, her portions were too large and her simple carbs were much too high. While she was eating a lot of good protein and veggies, she also was consuming a lot of food that had hidden sugars. Again, just because is labeled organic or “healthy” doesn’t mean it is sugar free or low calorie.

Fast forward a week after this client “came clean” with what she was really eating, made the appropriate changes (in her case cutting portions, sugar and eating at regular intervals) and she has already seen amazing results. While it wasn’t necessarily easy, “coming clean” and making changes never is, the end result is well worth it. She is currently in her second week of her new plan and is adjusting to any feelings of hunger, feeling confident and optimistic and losing weight at a safe and healthy rate. Want to get lean and mean? Then come clean!

 

 

 

Breakfast Of Champions!

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A big breakfast is often referred to as “a breakfast of champions.” Well, I don’t really think it’s the size of the breakfast that matters as much as what is in it. I mean if you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for many reasons and when it’s done right, it really is a “breakfast of champions,” or better yet, what champions are made of!

I can’t believe that in this day and age I still hear people say things like “I’m not a breakfast eater!”  I mean that’s like a person saying, “I didn’t know I should wear sunscreen!” Trust me, I’ve heard that one too. I just heard a client of mine last week say she doesn’t eat breakfast. At least she knew that she should, she just hadn’t made the move to start doing it. Baby steps!

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. This is especially true for people who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. People who eat breakfast find it easier to manage their weight and stay on track. A good breakfast will start your body and mind off on the right foot. When you start your day off by making good choices, the rest usually follows.

People who skip breakfast tend to have a more difficult time losing weight and often make poor food choices throughout the day. When we skip breakfast, our blood sugar drops and our metabolism slows. Plus, putting off eating is a sure fire way to guarantee that you will be ravenous later in the day which will likely result in making poor food choices and over eating.

Not a breakfast eater? Well not everyone is, but if you want to feed your body so that it  can perform at its best then you may want to learn how to be a breakfast eater. This doesn’t mean you need to start pounding pancakes. In fact, quite the contrary. Remember that old phrase “you are what you eat?” Well I believe it’s true. If you eat a big heavy breakfast, you are going to feel big and heavy. So choose wisely and eat like the champion you are!

“A healthy breakfast should be a variety of foods like whole grains, low-fat protein or dairy sources, and fruit,” says Andrea Gorman, MS, RD, manager of clinical nutrition at Rhode Island Hospital/Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. “All these food groups provide complex carbohydrates, protein, and a small amount of fat. This combination of nutrients can delay hunger symptoms and keep you feeling full throughout the day.”

 Healthy Breakfast Ideas:

Healthy cereal – there are plenty of high protein, high fiber cereals on the market theses days. Top your cereal with fruit and skim milk and you’re good to go. Watch your portions though, as calories can get high fast.

Greek yogurt and berries – Greek yogurt (low fat and low sugar) is packed with protein. Top it with berries which are full of antioxidants and maybe even some nuts and you’ll be full for hours.

Homemade Smoothies – while I am not a fan of places like Jamba Juice or juice it up, a homemade smoothie can be very healthy and is great for people on the go.

Oatmeal – I’d eat it everyday if I could! Oatmeal is good for you and makes you feel all warm inside, what could be better? Top it with banana and walnuts for a full breakfast.

Egg whites – love them! I do eat these almost everyday. They are the best “bang for your buck” in my opinion if your looking for lots of good high protein food for very little calories. However, I know that some fear the idea of going without the yolk. If this is you remember, baby steps! Have one yolk and a few whites. Add some veggies for a killer omelette. Need it to go? Put it into a low carb tortilla and make a breakfast burrito.

Cottage cheese – a lot of people think cottage cheese is too cheesy. It can be. However, it packs a lot of good protein and calcium, is easy and when you add a little fruit to the top, it cuts down the cheesiness a bit and is super yummy!

Whole grains – everyone loves a piece of toast topped with peanut butter. Just make sure it is whole grain and it will not only be heather but also keep you full longer. I like orowheat English muffins. They pack 9 grams of protein, lots of fiber and are only 120 calories! Add some fruit and a glass of milk and your done.

Due to my hectic schedule, I’m all about meals that are what  I call “all in one meals.” In other words, food that has it all! My Banana Protein pancakes have whole grains, Protein and fiber and are low in calories, high in nutrition and can be eaten on the go. I make a big batch of these on the weekend when I have a bunch of black bananas and then eat them all week long. I put a couple in a zip lock Baggie and then heat them for a minute in the microwave when I’m ready to eat. I’m getting my egg whites, Oates and fruit all in one meal. Check out my recipe if you are looking for a breakfast that is quick, easy and healthy. Plus, your kids will love them.

You can’t ask your body to perform well if you don’t give it the proper nutrition. If you want to ensure that your body goes the duration, start it off right with a good breakfast and the rest will follow.

Get up and move, you won’t regret it!

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So it’s only Monday and I’m already exhausted! What gives? Unfortunately, we can’t greet all Mondays refreshed and full of energy (I mean, I have teenagers after all!) Its days like today that I really have to dig deep to get my workout done. I’m exhausted, stressed, a little depressed (from all the lack of sleep and stress) and the thing that sounds least appealing right now is actually moving my body in a meaningful manner. It’s days like this that I need to get myself up, brush myself off and remember why a workout will only makes things better. There are lots of reasons to exercise besides the obvious, more superficial reasons, here are just a few.

Improves mood and reduces stress.

“Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning,” says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark: the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

Exercise increases brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. All of these amazing chemicals help reduce stress, slow aging and just make us feel good.

It improves learning.

Like your muscles, you have to stress your brain cells to get them to grow. Doing exercises that require you to think or use your coordination exercises your brain.

It builds self-esteem and improves body image.

You don’t need to radically change your body shape to get a confidence surge from exercise. Studies suggest that simply seeing fitness improvements, like running a faster mile or lifting more weight than before, can improve your self-esteem and body image.

It leaves you feeling euphoric.

Yes, that “runner’s high” really does exist if you’re willing to shift into high-intensity mode. Go for a run, swim or jump on your favorite piece of cardio equipment and up the intensity and you’ll up your mood for sure.

 I don’t know about you, but I’m getting up and exercising right now!

When the going gets tough, the tough workout!

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So today was just one of those days. You know, the ones where the knocks just keep coming. Nothing comes easy. Tasks that are usually easy and automatic are a struggle. Technology is not cooperating making work task impossible, time is limited, hours are long, teens are challenging patience and on top of all of it, I’m hungry!

As with all days, I have my workout written into my planner because if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t get done. I’m only human after all. However, even with my best organization skills and planning, a workout on a day like this seems daunting at best. I mean, I already feel beat up by my day! Can I really handle a trainer “putting me through the ringer?” Or the real question, can he really handle me in “all my glory?”

It’s days like this that I remember what I would tell my clients, just do it! While you may feel bad going into a workout, I guarantee you that you will feel better when it is all over. Workouts allow you to get out of your head and into your body. They help you blow off steam, put things in perspective and focus on something other than what you’ve been stressing about. They refresh, revive and rejuvenate your body and soul! So the next time you want to bow out of a workout, do yourself a favor and workout.

The Multitasking Workout

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I approach everything I do with a strategy. Blame it on my type A personality, limited time or simply my disdain for wasting time, who knows? Working out is no different. Even though I work full time in at a gym, I still have very limited time to workout. Contrary to what many people think, trainers do not workout with their clients. We have to find our own time to get our workout in just like everyone else.

Being a super busy mom with endless responsibilities, I sometimes find it hard to get a workout in. The weekends are no different. This is my only time to get my house in order, grocery shop, menu plan, write and spend quality time with my family. Therefore, when it comes to weekend workouts, I often choose a “Multitasking” workout. In other words, I combine my chores with my exercise for one powerful, get it done workout.

I know that many see cleaning house as a workout on it’s own, but I believe if that was really the case, we would all just clean our house and skip the workout altogether. This workout will leave you with a clean house, a great workout and probably a little breathless at times.

The Multitasker Workout:

I started with a 1 mile run with Bella at our local middle school followed by some extra fetching for Bella. Now she is exercised!

For the rest of my workout, I will do 1 cleaning task followed by a set of a strength move or “cardio blast.” Here’s what my circuit looked like, although you can choose whatever exercises you want.

  • 30 v-ups (I used a med ball for an extra challenge)
  • Put away clean dishes.
  • Lateral raises with dumbbells.
  • Clean kitchen counters.
  • Upright row with dumbbells.
  • Clean kitchen sink.
  • 20 jump squats.
  • Put first load of laundry in.
  • Lateral raises with dumbbells.
  • Dust downstairs.
  • 20 burpees.
  • Vacuum formal living and dining room.
  • Bent over heavy row.
  • Sort and recycle old magazines.
  • Band bicep curl – to failure.
  • 20 burpees.
  • Vacuum family room and kitchen.
  • 20 push ups.
  • Steam mop family room and kitchen.
  • Jumps squats.
  • Put second load of laundry in.
  • Clean bathroom #1.

Okay, I haven’t even gotten to upstairs and between the cleaning and my sets, I’ve worked up a sweat and my house is sparkling downstairs! So you see how multitasking can “kill two birds with one stone?” So don’t make the excuse that you don’t have time to exercise. Next time just double up and get it done! Now onto my upstairs…Feel the burn!

 

The Habit – A motivational Poem

This is one of my most favorite poems of all time and was something I used to motivate myself and my clients when I first started my own Personal Training business. Living a fit and healthy life must be a habit in order to find long term success.

I am your constant companion,

I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.

I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am completely at your command.

Half the things you do might just as well turn over to me

and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed –

you must merely be firm with me.

Show me exactly how you want something done

and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great people;

and alas, of all failures as well.

Those who are great,

I have made great.

Those who are failures,

I have made failures.

I am not a machine,

though I work with all the precision of a machine

plus the intelligence of a human.

You may run me for a profit or run me for ruin –

it makes no difference to me.

Take me,

train me,

be firm with me,

And I will place the world at your feet.

Be easy with me,

and I will destroy you.

WHO AM I?

I AM HABIT.

(Author Unknown)

“Let It Rain” Workout

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So we have finally been blessed with rain. Given the desperate need for water, I welcome every drop and embrace the challenge of bringing my weekend outdoor workout inside. No excuses here! In fact, the idea of moving my coffee table aside, fighting with my dog for floor space and utilizing little, if any, equipment as the rain pounds the roof is a nice change. Here’s what I came up with today for this wonderfully wet Sunday.

I started out with the “300 Rep Challenge” posted in Men’s Health Magazine (http://www.menshealth.com/deltafit/300-rep-challenge) by my hero and fitness extraordinaire, Todd Durkin. I will use this as my warm-up (I know it’s a doozy of a warm-up, but do your best!) Time yourself doing the following. My time was 5:33. Let me know your time!

After my warm up, I completed the following circuits for 3 sets each. If you don’t have any equipment, use your creativity to come up with a modification. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to fitness. Just do your best!

Circuit #1

  • Steps ups x 15 (I used an old kids step and set of 8 lb. dumbbells to challenge myself.)
  • Reverse alternating lunge with bicep curl x 20 (Again, I used dumbbells but you can go without or grab a can of soup.)
  • Skaters x 30

Circuit # 2

  • Plank with rear fly (I used an 8 lb. dumbbell. However, this is a challenging move and is quite effective with no weight.)
  • Dumbbell shoulder press x 15 (I used 20 lb. dumbbells because I have them and this is my strong area. Use something heavy sitting around your house if you don’t own weights.)
  • V-ups Abs (I used a 10 lb. med ball to make it more challenging but these are plenty challenging with no ball.)

Remember, weather is no excuses to not get your workout in. Be creative, do your best and have fun!

Create Accountability

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So it was a marathon day for me. Huge program at work starting, clients booked back to back, split shift, kid pickups, you name it. When I finally got a chance to breath late afternoon, before heading back to work for another stint, I realized that I hadn’t worked out and at the rate I was going, it want going to happen. Given my level of stress, probably brought on by my day, I knew that I needed a workout. However, as much as my mind was saying “yes,” my body was screaming “no!”

Sound familiar? Well, the easy thing to do would be to simply forgo the workout. However, if I was to do this every time things get busy, I’d be missing a lot of workouts. However, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t about to just jump up and workout. I knew I needed help! There was no way that I was going to make this workout happen without it. But most of all, I knew I needed it given my level of stress and all the food I ate during Super Bowl yesterday!

What to do, what to do? Call in backup of course! I immediately got out my phone and made an appointment with a friend/co-worker for a workout prior to my evening shift. Doing this creates accountability, a strategy, and makes things happen. I told my friend what time I’d be there, what I planned to do and told him that I needed his help keeping me motivated. He was quick to oblige. Remember, friends don’t let fiends skip their workout!

Therefore, the next time you want to ditch your workout, drop the excuses and make it happen. We all have a ton of excuses and as much as they may be real excuses, they are simply that, excuses! If you want to make it happen, get on the horn, make a plan and just do it!