Stop Overthinking Your Health Routine

Focus on basic behaviors – don’t get caught up in details

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There is so much health information to be found online and in the media that many (most!) people get bogged down in the details of their fitness and nutrition plan and lose sight of the big picture. Or they suffer from information overload and end up doing nothing at all.

“What proportion of protein to carbs should I be eating?”

“Should I be doing Keto or paleo? Or something else?”

“Should I stop eating gluten?”

“Do I run in the morning or at night? Should I run at all?!”

“Which supplements should I be taking?”

“Should I do 2 sets or 3 sets of strength training?”

“Do I need to be doing CrossFit?”

And on and on and on…

There have been countless studies done on what behaviors lead to good health. The studies compare people who get sick or die with those who stay alive and healthy during a given period of time. A variety of these studies consistently identify 5 main behaviors associated with good health.

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Get 7 hours of sleep.
  5. Limit alcohol.

These five basic behaviors will have the greatest impact on your daily life and health. There’s nothing wrong with details, sometimes details are important and necessary, just don’t let them take over and cause you to lose sight of what you’re really trying to achieve. If your goal is general health and fitness, then focus on these 5 behaviors. make daily decisions that help you eat well, move and sleep. That’s it.

If you already don’t smoke and/or limit alcohol intake then you’re ahead of the game.  I don’t think these behaviors need a lot of explaining. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor or check out programs to help you stop. If you do drink alcohol, do it moderately. For example, limit it to social situations.

The most important thing for the remaining 3 behaviors is consistency.

It really doesn’t matter if you do CrossFit or run marathons or power lift or do yoga or just jump rope in your driveway. Just move. Every day. Move your body and get your heart rate up. Simple as that.

Eating well will help you maintain a healthy weight. Choose simple, whole foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy. Limit junk food, fast food and overly processed foods.

Get your butt to bed! We all stay up later than we should thinking we just need to get a few more things done. But regular 5-hours-or-less nights of sleep will wear you down over time. Trust me when I tell you that you will become MORE productive if you leave your to-do list until tomorrow and just go to sleep.

I know for some, figuring out how to eat well and exercise can still be a challenge but don’t sweat the small stuff!

Happy Exercising!

P.S. Message me if I can help you with any of the 5 behaviors mentioned here!

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If…Then… Do You Have A Backup Plan?

Your workout and nutrition routine should be consistent and progressive to give you the best chance of seeing results but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Consistency over the longterm is what really works. But let’s be real, life happens and sometimes you have to stray from your routine. You have a sick child at home or you have to travel unexpectedly or a pipe bursts and you have a flooded basement. And on and on.

What if you skip your workout for a few days? What if you eat more tacos than planned (I’ve never done this, I’ve just heard people do!!) What if you are more sore than expected after a workout and can’t do your prescribed routine the next day?

Having an “If…Then…” plan allows you to get back to your routine quickly without beating yourself up for days when you make less than desirable choices. (I’m looking at you, Girl Scout cookies.) Studies show that “if-then” planning (contingency planning) ups your chances of success no matter what you’re trying to accomplish. This can work especially well with health habits.

For example:

“IF someone brings donuts into the office on a random Wednesday, THEN I’ll avoid the break room and eat the healthy snack I have stashed in my desk.” This obviously requires that you plan ahead and have healthy snacks in your desk in the first place!

“IF my schedule gets crazy and I skip a few workouts, THEN I’ll find 20 minutes the next day to take a walk or stretch.” Doing something is better than nothing and can get you back on track.

“IF I get sick and can’t exercise, THEN I’ll continue to eat well to feel better and workout again soon.” It’s important to rest when you’re sick but plan to start with light exercise again as soon as possible.

No plan and no person is perfect. You’re going to have bumps in the road. Having a back up will get you back on track. Even the back up plan won’t be perfect and won’t always work but its better than having no plan at all.

But a back up plan is only as good as you make it. Don’t blow this off. Give some thought to the things that could derail your exercise and nutrition routine. Be honest about your cravings and weaknesses. Be honest about things that get you off track. Keep your personal motivation in mind. Why are you exercising in the first place? Why are you trying to change your eating habits? If you always keep your personal reasons in mind, it makes getting back into your routine that much easier. 

Take time today to think about some of these things. Make yourself a plan. Let me know if I can help!

Happy Exercising!IMG_1204

How to Encourage Your Partner to Get Healthy

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When you exercise regularly and eat healthy and are working hard to improve your fitness, it can be frustrating to have a partner or other family members that don’t do the same. Usually, our first instinct is to do whatever we can to get them on board, right? But there are good ways to do that and some not so good ways.

First of all, understand that it has to be your partner’s choice and decision. No matter what, you can’t force someone else’s behavior change but you can encourage and support it. Just be patient. I’ve worked in the fitness industry for almost 25 years and have been married for almost 23 and my husband just adopted a regular exercise routine in the last two years. Talk about patience!!

  1. The number 1 thing you can do is be an example. Continue your regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits. If your healthier lifestyle has you sleeping better, mention that. If you’re missing less work, mention it. If your back pain is gone, mention it. Hopefully, your spouse or partner notices these things on their own but if not, its ok to talk about the positive impact fitness has had on you. Don’t brag or be condescending, though, because that will backfire! See #2 below!
  2. Making snarky or sarcastic comments (even if they come across funny) doesn’t send a good message. Embarrassment, shame or nagging usually has the opposite effect and your partner will dig his heels in and go in the opposite direction. And lets be honest, do you really want to embarrass your significant other? Even if this tactic works in the short term, your partner will be doing it begrudgingly so it won’t last.
  3. Send the right message. Make sure your partner knows that you want them to exercise and eat well because its good for them and will improve and enhance their life and their family’s life. If you talk about setting future goals together such as being available for your kids and grandkids, that can be very motivating. Having personal goals is an important step but setting goals together as a couple or a family helps too.
  4. Don’t make choices for them. It’s not your place to tell them they should lose 20 pounds or they should stop eating McDonald’s. Leave that to the doctors! “Should” statements are very judgy! Your partners first priority might be to work on their flexibility so they can tie their shoes. Don’t assume that you know what they should or want to improve.
  5. Remember that your way is not the only way. Maybe you love Crossfit but your spouse wants to go running. Or you go to Pilates and your partner wants to learn martial arts. Let them figure out what works for them. My husband is a meticulous food tracker and I don’t track food at all. We each have our own way of doing things and it works for each of us. Be supportive even if its not something you like to do.
  6. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods you both like. This goes along with tip number 5 about not expecting your partner to do exactly what you do. Instead of trying to force them to eat what you eat, find out what healthier options they might be open to even if it’s something you don’t like.
  7. Lastly, always stay positive. Always. Recognize the smallest of steps even if your partner only makes 1 positive choice out of 15 negative choices. Don’t attack your partner if they skip a workout or decide to have a handful of cookies or an order of cheesy fries. Encourage the positive, ignore the negative.

Be patient. Be positive. Be supportive. They’ll get there eventually!

Happy Exercising!

 

 

Home Step Workout

Working out at home allows me a lot of flexibility with my schedule but can sometimes be limiting since I only have a certain amount of equipment. I get creative with things around the house, such as a step or fireplace hearth. This is a simple but very effective workout. It left we wiped out with my legs feeling like Jell-O!

Make sure you have a sturdy step and that you plant your feet solidly on the step when you’re working out.

1 minute of walking step-ups.

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1 minute of running step-ups.

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30 reps of alternating lunges.

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30 reps of angled push-ups.

 

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Another 1 minute of running step-ups.

30 reps of side squats. Switch sides halfway through.

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30 reps of tricep dips.

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Another 1 minute of running step-ups.

Another 1 minute of walking step-ups.

I repeat this circuit 2-3 times depending on how much time I have and how I feel.

Happy Exercising!

 

 

Why Women Don’t Exercise

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A recent study determined 3 major reasons women don’t exercise…

  1. Concerns about appearance. Women don’t want to look foolish or look like they don’t know what they’re doing.
  2. Concerns about ability. Many women feel like they have to be “in shape” to work out in a gym. (“I join the gym AFTER I lose some weight.”)
  3. Concerns about being judged. This one encompasses the previous two concerns. Most women fear judgement of their appearance, their ability and worst of all…being judged for putting themselves first.

In my opinion, these are all terrible but this last one really breaks my heart. Women are seriously judged unfavorably for TAKING CARE of themselves!! Shaming of any kind, fit or fat is unacceptable. I’m not totally sure how to change things and I know I can’t do it alone but something needs to change.

In my experience, people who judge others or make negative comments about others lifestyle choices are really trying to make themselves feel better about their own choices. For example, if I’m “selfish” for taking personal time for exercise then their lack of exercise makes them seem “normal”.

THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME AT ALL.

I’m not going to spout a bunch of motivational sayings or “girl power” crap because that’s not my style. These are real, valid fears and one thing I CAN do is help find ways to overcome them and help you reach your health goals.

  1. Select a workout location that makes you comfortable. If you want to join a gym, check out several before making a decision. Gyms have a unique atmosphere and subculture that can be motivating or intimidating, depending on what you’re in to. Check out the Body Positive Fitness Alliance to find facilities and trainers that promote an inclusive atmosphere. If you don’t want to join a gym or it’s not an option that’s ok. But don’t let that keep you from exercising. Your living room or back yard is an excellent place to start your fitness journey.
  2. If you’re not sure what to do or don’t want to look clueless at the gym, consider hiring a personal trainer or fitness coach. I know this is an additional expense but its well worth it if it makes you more comfortable and more likely to exercise. Some trainers are available for individual sessions (rather than buying a pack of sessions) to help get you started. Fitness trainers are not exclusive to elite athletes or the very rich. We work with everyone! A good trainer will help you learn and work at your pace to make sure you’re comfortable and confident. Just like with gyms, shop around until you find a trainer you feel good with.
  3. I know this may be easier said than done, but try to remember that most people are not fit their entire lives. Anybody in your gym who is very fit didn’t start out that way and if they pay you any attention at all, they’re most likely thinking “I’ve been there. Good for you!”. Try to focus on the task at hand and complete YOUR workout to the best of your ability. If you focus on how exercise makes you feel and the progress you’re making, everything else just becomes background noise.
  4. If you’re family or friends are not on board with supporting your choices, have a frank conversation with them. Explain WHY you’re making these choices and explain how their comments or actions affect you. They may not realize that their off-hand comments have a negative impact. The more people in your circle that you can educate about why your choices are important to you, the better you’ll feel.
  5. Remind yourself that your healthy habits make you healthier so you are better able to care for your kids, spouse, parents, or whoever. Taking one hour for yourself so you can have the energy and confidence to juggle the other 23 hours of the day seems like a pretty good trade-off to me.
  6. Lastly, we live in a social media world but that doesn’t mean that everything you do has to be public. If you’re concerned about other moms judging you for taking time for yourself, well, why do they need to know? You can keep your habits private if you choose. I don’t mean you should keep it a secret but random people on Facebook don’t need to know everything!

I’ll continue to promote the importance of health and wellness and the impact it has on every aspect your life. And I’ll continue to combat the feelings of fear with my clients any way I can. Please comment or message me if you have additional ideas for combating this trend.

Happy Exercising!

3 Ways to Make Your Strength Routine More Efficient

I enjoy exercise. Moving and sweating and pushing myself. But that doesn’t mean I want to spend hours and hours on my workout. I’m busy just like everyone else so I need to create efficient exercise routines.

I’m not a bodybuilder or figure competitor so I have no need for dozens of exercises that hit every individual muscle. There’s nothing wrong with that type of training (I’ve used it at other times in my life) its just not what I need right now.

If you’re like me and need an effective and efficient workout too, follow these principles…

1. Compound Movements

Compound movements are exercises that involve multiple muscle groups. Working multiple muscles at once certainly saves time. These can all be done with or without added weight. Things like:

Squat Presses – after you squat down and return to a standing position, press the weight overhead.

 

Row to Stiff-Leg Deadlift – bend over at your hips with weight hanging straight down. Pull weight up to chest. Return to start. Contract glutes and lower back to stand up straight.

Walking Lunge with Alternating Shoulder Raise – step forward into a lunge position while lifting both arms to at least shoulder height. One arm at front and one arm to the side. On the next step alternate arm positions.

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Lunge with Shoulder Raise

Kettlebell Swings – start with the kettlebell between your legs in a slight squat. Contract glutes and hamstrings to thrust the weight forward and lift to about shoulder height.

I could go on and on but you get the idea.

2. Circuits

Circuits are a great way to get a quick workout in when your schedule is busy. Alternate upper and lower body movements and move from one exercise to the next without stopping. For example, squats, pushups, lunges, bent over row, etc.

3. Intensity Level

Adding more weight to your current routine (within reason!) can increase your intensity just enough to give your program a little boost. If you’ve been just going through the motions or doing a set number of reps without considering how challenged your muscles are, then maybe its time to increase the weight to make your workout more efficient and effective.

Happy Exercising!

Kettlebells

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Need an effective, quick workout that only requires one simple piece of equipment? A full-body kettlebell workout to the rescue!

Kettlebells have been used for hundreds of years but they seem to be the trend right now. And for good reason. Kettlebells are compact and sturdy. They don’t take up a lot of storage space and they don’t break easily. They come in a variety of weights and you can do lots of exercises with just this one piece of equipment. Kettlebells are a great addition, or a great start, to a home gym. You can buy them at most local sporting goods stores or online.

If you have a kettlebell or plan to buy one, here’s a workout to get you started.

Deadlift 

Stand tall with core tight and feet hip width apart. Hinge at hips, knees slightly bent and back flat. Squeeze glutes to return to start.

Overhead press

Stand tall with core tight and feet about shoulder width apart. Lift kettlebell overhead, pause and return to start.

Squat

Start with feet wide and toes pointed out slightly. Hold the kettlebell close and squat down as far as comfortable keeping your toes in line with your knees. Press back to start.

Bent over row

Start with feet staggered and hand right hand on right knee for balance and support. Hold kettlebell straight down in left hand. Keeping core tight, drive elbow up to lift kettlebell. Repeat on other side

Swings

Start with feet wide, core tight and back straight. Hold kettlebell between your legs and back behind your hips. With a controlled motion, swing bell by contracting your glutes and pressing your hips forward. Use muscle not momentum!

Upright row

Start with feet shoulder width apart and bell down in front of you. Keep core tight and back flat. Lift the bell straight up in front of you leading with your elbows. Pause and return to start.

 

Happy Exercising!!