Most Women are Making This Huge Mistake…

You may have heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy,” and often it’s used when people are comparing themselves to others. But what if you aren’t necessarily comparing yourself to others… You are instead comparing your current self to your old self.

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As a trainer, I often hear something along the lines of “Oh, I was 10-15 lbs. lighter when I got married. I want to be there again.” Then I have to go into a lecture about how much their lives have changed in those 10+ years. Oh, you know, just reminding them about the numerous kids they gave birth to, the lifestyle changes, the cross-country moves, the stress of their jobs, the hormonal changes brought on by age…the list goes on. These are important factors that DO play into the current status of your body.

I also ask them how much they were working out when they were 10-15 lbs. lighter, and it’s usually a lot more than they are now! Why? Because it was easier to set aside more time for exercise at that point. They didn’t have a husband and kids to chase around at that time. They might have had fewer responsibilities with regard to their job at the time. Our priorities change throughout our lives, and getting to the gym is not always going to be #1. And you know what? That’s okay! And it should be that way!

Yes, staying healthy is very important. It’s important to keep yourself in shape so that you can bring your best-self to the world. Being healthy makes you a better spouse, a better parent, a better employee/employer, whatever your title is, it makes you better at it. By exercising and eating healthy you have more energy to push yourself through life. You’ll also have less stress and get sick less often. You’ll look and feel better, thus pushing your confidence through the roof. So yes, your health should be one of your priorities, especially since no one is going to take care of you better than you can take care of yourself. But at busier stages in your life, you may have to get a bit more crafty with finding the right balance of exercise + work + family + personal time + whatever.

I really think we should be more compassionate with ourselves. Many of the women I work with beat themselves up on a regular basis. Why aren’t they giving themselves credit for all of their accomplishments? They’re all intelligent, independent women but then they spend so much time talking crap to themselves in the mirror because of some extra fat on their stomach or thighs. I have to admit that I’m guilty of this as well. And I haven’t met a single woman that isn’t that way. But when you look at it as an outsider, it really does seem ridiculous. We’re way more than just our bodies. We have much more than our physical attributes to offer the world. It’s time to put the old you to rest and embrace the new you, whether you prefer its appearance or not. If you don’t like the appearance of your new self, then work to improve it, but there’s no point in comparing it to your old appearance. That’s just simply not fair to yourself and you’re not giving yourself credit for all the things that have happened between now and then.

We’re not plastic. We’re complex beings that are affected by age and we wear with life. Comparing ourselves to our 20 year old selves is just like comparing ourselves to 20 year old strangers. It’s nonsense and doesn’t do us any good. Where ever you are in life, you have to work with what you’ve got and just do the best that you can. Do your best to stay healthy. Do your best to stay strong. And do your best to stay happy, despite not looking like your 20 year old self. Besides, at this point I know I’m smarter, wiser, happier, and I have waaayyyy more muscle. ūüėČ

 

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The ULTIMATE Diet and Training Program

IMG_0398-0The time has come! You can officially stop looking for the best training and diet program! How exciting is that? No more kooky diet books. No more training and diet gurus. No more false, empty promises. No more cutting out foods that you love. First, let’s look at what pitfalls and traps you may have been falling into…

You decide you want to lose weight so one week you cut out all gluten because you heard that gluten is making you fat. Yes, that must be why you’re overweight. But nothing changes. Next you decide it must be the dairy that’s keeping you overweight, so you cut that out too. But nothing changes. Maybe it’s your workout. You’ve been on this training program for a whole two weeks, BUT NOTHING IS CHANGING! Ugh! The frustration of it all!

You’re looking for an easy way out. You’re looking for the special secret or the magical path. Well, I have the secret… but it’s not sexy and it’s not new.

You’re overcomplicating things.

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You’re not focusing on consistency in the basics.

So boring, right? Well, yeah, that’s the reality of long-term, sustainable physique changes. It’s slow, it can be miserable, and short-term results can be pretty lackluster. Every day you get up and just put one foot in front of the other, following the basic rules, and one day you wake up and have somehow hit your goal!

There are no miracle foods. There are no miracle supplements. There are no miracle workouts. And yes, while WHAT you eat is important for fat loss, muscle gain, or whatever your goal is, but HOW MUCH you eat is very important too. And you know what? Americans are really, really bad at estimating how many calories they’re eating. Like underestimating-by-40%-bad…

As promised here’s your: Miracle Diet Plan!

  • Start writing down everything you eat in a day. EVERY DAMN THING! (If you’re not seeing results with your current “plan” or lack there of.)
  • If you’re currently eating a lot of processed, packaged, junky food and not seeing results, switch to more nutritious, whole foods. (You should do this regardless of body composition goals…)
  • If you’re currently “eyeballing” your food intake and not seeing results, start using measuring cups or hand measurements.
  • If you’re currently using measuring cups or hand measurements and not seeing results, start using a food scale. (Trust me, it’s a wake up call. Your measuring cups are lying to you…)

And here’s your: Miracle Training Plan!

  • Get up and move.
  • If you’re currently jumping from workout program to workout program and not getting results, choose ONE damn program and STICK TO IT! (Unless your program really does suck…)

These are the basics. I’m not even going to get into what to eat. You generally know what’s healthy. You generally know what’s not healthy. You know you should be eating healthy most of the time and not healthy very little of the time. Now you just have to do it. You know you should be getting exercise, so just get up and move. I don’t care what it is. The key here is to start doing SOMETHING and do it CONSISTENTLY. Eat relatively healthy CONSISTENTLY. Eat according to your goals CONSISTENTLY. Move according to your goals CONSISTENTLY. It really is a simple formula. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Being consistent day in and day out is the challenge. Like I said earlier, it’s boring, it’s dull, and results can be slow to come. But isn’t every diet that way after the first week? At first you jump into it with the excitement and fervor of a giddy child, but after the first week or two you’re ready to throw in the towel. This is what separates the successful from the unsuccessful people; their willingness to endure. So don’t make it harder on yourself by religiously cutting out all gluten, dairy, carbs, or whatever your diet guru is telling you (unless you have a real, genuine sensitivity to something.)

*I would like to emphasize that I don’t think calorie counting and weighing or measuring food is necessarily an extremely long-term lifestyle approach. It can become overwhelming and it’s important to learn how to read the natural cues that your body is giving you in terms of hunger and nutrient needs. However, I feel like many have lost that sense of what it feels like to truly be hungry and in NEED of food. Counting and measuring for a while can help reign in your eating habits and can potentially be quite an eye-opener for those who are trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight. BUT a more intuitive approach to eating should be the ultimate goal.*

I hope this was somewhat of a wake-up call for some of you who have a tendency to hop from diet to diet and workout to workout. You’re just never going to see results that way. Find a plan that works for you and that you ENJOY, stick with it, and just keep sticking with it.

What’s the Best Time of the Day to Exercise?

ParkWorkout“What’s the best time of the day to exercise?” I get asked this a lot, and my answer is ALWAYS “the time of the day that you’ll actually do it.”

If I don’t workout sometime in the morning, it just ain’t happening.¬†I know myself pretty well at this point and that’s just the gosh darn truth.¬†I’ve been forced to exercise in the evening on occasion and I have always dreaded it alllll day. All I want to do at the end of the day is go home and wind down.

As the day goes on, other things come up and generally they’re more “important” than getting a workout in. While I always feel pretty good after a workout, sometimes they’re harder to justify, especially if you’re already in pretty good shape. The thought “I’m not going to lose muscle in a day of not working out” easily comes to mind and I move on.

Others prefer to workout in the evening. That schedule just works better for them. And that’s okay too! I’m personally a bit of an early bird so I like to knock out very important tasks in the morning; exercise being one of them…to me at least.

The key to finding a good daily or near daily workout time for you is to find a time where there are usually no other distractions; a time where generally nothing else is going on and nothing and no one can get in your way. That way you have very few excuses to cancel on yourself. And that’s another point right there! If you are not already in the habit of working out, actually sit down and SCHEDULE your workouts. Make them like meetings that you can’t miss with yourself unless you’re sick or something entirely unavoidable comes up. If you have to miss a session, then you just reschedule like you would any other appointment.

I try to drill this into the minds of my clients. Most of them I only meet twice a week, but I try to urge them to get in workouts on their own. But like I mentioned in my post last week about motivation, real, lasting motivation can’t come from an outside source, it has to come from within. So often my words go in one ear and out the other. If you haven’t built your me-time or gym-time into your day, it’s easily going to be bypassed or it’ll be something you do for a while and gradually you just stop working out altogether. Developing the habit is crucial to your success. Eventually it’ll just become something you do regularly without thought. It’ll be a no-brainer.

Once you have decided on the “perfect”” time, set yourself up for success. My husband makes sure to set the timer on the coffee pot to brew the coffee before he gets up so that there’s something to look forward to when he wakes up at the ass-crack-of-dawn. Have your gym bag packed or set your gym clothes out the night before. Create a routine. Build it into your day. Make it just a little bit easier!

For those of you who have been successful with creating the habit of working out regularly, what do you do or have done in the past to make building this habit easier? I would love to hear your ideas!

There is No “Wrong” Motivation

It seems lately that a lot of fitness peeps have been spouting out that you shouldn’t let your physique or appearance be your #1 motivation when trying to get in shape. My question is “why the hell not?” It’s not that I’m particularly a VAIN person, but when someone finds something that motivates them to get in some vigorous exercise and start eating healthier on a regular basis, why are physique goals not good¬†enough? In a country where more than 1/3 of adults are considered obese, I think we have to take what we can get! And if the idea of looking hot in a pair of jeans is what gets someone off their ass, then so be it!

Most trainers will say¬†that overall health and general fitness should be your “primary” goal. And yes, while I wholeheartedly agree with that, someone who is slightly overweight might not see it that way. They might be relatively healthy but they just want to finally see their abs or look cute in shorts because they have a vacation coming up. If that’s what keeps you motivated for the time-being, then that’s fine! It’s no one else’s business what your motivation is, whether it’s completely superficial or 100% honorable.

It’s true that¬†you will never find peace and happiness when your appearance is always your #1 goal, because perfection just doesn’t exist…and it’s hard to achieve something that doesn’t exist. But I would also argue that if it’s strength you’re after, where does that stop? One can become so obsessed with getting stronger that they start accruing life-long injuries… One can become so obsessed with “general health” that they start going off the deep end and become an orthorexic. Extremes can occur anyway you look at it. Just because you started with one motivator, doesn’t mean that it will always be your #1 motivator. When something sparks you in the moment to get up¬†and go for a walk or get in a quickie workout, run with it (literally)! Motivation can be hard to find, so when it comes along, take advantage of it. But remember this, the best motivation is the motivation that comes from within. No one else can truly motivate you. Not your significant other, not your trainer, not your friends. Any motivation that stems from them will be short-lived. And that’s okay! Sometimes we have to seek out motivation every day to keep moving forward.

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For example, I haven’t seen my husband since June of 2014. He’s due to be coming home shortly and you better believe I want to look good for him when he arrives! So right now, that’s guiding my motivation to put in an extra ounce of effort. That’s the one little thing that is pushing me to get in a couple conditioning workouts a week (along with my 4 weight training sessions) and really eyeball the food that I’m putting into my mouth. Thankfully I stay pretty close to my “happy spot” year-round, so I never have far to go when I just want to tighten things up a little bit. But this motivation is going to be short-lived. Eventually my husband will come home, we’ll go on a vacation, and then we’ll get back to normal life. That’s when my motivation will change. Maybe I’ll just want to focus on getting a little stronger or improving my endurance. Who knows? We’ll have to see what sparks me at the moment!

Remember, this is a journey with no end. Your goals and motivators will always be fluctuating depending on your situation in life at that one moment. The key to success though is to pick a goal….seriously go for it…conquer it…and move onto the next goal. Don’t flounder from goal to goal, program to program, and never actually accomplish anything! And always remember what got you started on that goal in the first place…that original motivator.

Since I mentioned that I’ll be putting in a little extra effort over the next month, I thought it might be fun to see what that little extra effort might actually do and share it with you all! This photo was taken this morning and I also weighed myself. I was randomly up 3 lbs., probably retaining some water, so here I weigh 143 lbs. I also took circumference measurements, so I’ll be tracking those as well. Along with my 4 weight training workouts, I’ll be throwing in 2 weekly conditioning workouts. So that might be sprints, a barbell complex, a ladder workout, or something of the sort. I will also actually be tracking my macronutrients and calories. Should be fun to see what happens!

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Is Fear Holding You Back From the Body of Your Dreams?

This past week I was interviewed for a local magazine regarding exercising in your home and one of the first questions was “why might someone decide to exercise at home rather than at a gym?” In my response I mentioned the obvious answer, that it might be more convenient for busy individuals or new moms. But in the other part of my answer I said, and this is somewhat sad, that some people often feel uncomfortable going to a gym. Sometimes they are ashamed of the way they look and oftentimes they are afraid that they will appear like they don’t know what they are doing.

While it’s not necessary to go to the gym to get in shape, it certainly might make it a little easier. There’s more equipment, more space (generally), and I tend to get an additional burst of energy and motivation when working out in a public gym instead of my own home. Although I can completely understand why someone might feel self-conscious in a gym, do you go through the rest of your life thinking this way? Do you stop yourself from going to the grocery store because you’re concerned about what other people might think about what you’re putting in your cart? Do you hold yourself back from clothes shopping because you’re concerned that someone might not like your taste in sweaters? No? So why would you be so utterly concerned about what other people might think of you in the gym? We’re all there for the same reasons…and that is to better ourselves.

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Yes, some people might judge you in the gym, but they’re also going to judge you on the street. Those people are probably jerks anyways, so who cares what they might think? You can’t let the potential thoughts of others keep you from living your life and attempting to meet your goals. I personally like seeing out of shape individuals going to the gym and trying to better themselves. How could I possibly laugh at that or view that negatively? We all started somewhere. I wasn’t in shape when I started working out. I couldn’t run long distances and I didn’t know how to properly use machines or weights. So what did I do? I eased into it. I did what I could figure out on my own, watched and learned from other people, and began picking it up myself. Now I’m at a point where I’m the teacher. It doesn’t happen overnight, but you just have to have the confidence to go in there and say “Screw what everyone thinks! I’m doing this for me!”

Like I said earlier, it’s okay if you prefer to workout at home, but don’t do it only because you’re worried about what other people might think or say. You can’t go through your life that way. If you’re not sure how to use the equipment, grab a friend or hire a trainer to show you the ropes. Watch videos online. Pick up some magazines with workout programs and photos in them to help guide you. Take some group classes that your gym offers. It’s a great way to meet people and they can be really motivating! There’s tons of ways to learn the basics, and it’s the basics that are going to take you the farthest.

Remember, don’t be scared! We’ve all been there.

6 Ways to Measure Progress

evilscaleMany women (and men too!) simply resort to the scale to tell them if they’re making progress with their fat loss goals. While the scale can be A¬†good measurement of progress, it’s not the ONLY or even the BEST¬†way to measure progress. So here’s a little countdown of the many ways you can measure to see if you’re making progress with your diet and training.

6. Scale –¬†As previously mentioned, the scale can actually be a good way to measure progress, but it’s not necessarily the best way to measure progress. It’s only one measurement and the number is kind of…well…not indicative of how much fat you have lost or haven’t lost. The scale is taking evvvverything into account when it spits out that one number at you. Your fat, your muscle, water, food, intestines, bones, hair, EVERYTHING!!! Yet, if the number changes you tend to get really excited or really depressed depending on what direction the number went. My advice? If the number on the scale has a tendency to bring your mood down, stay away from it. If the number doesn’t really affect your mood, then weigh yourself as much as you’d like!

5. Body Fat Testing –¬†This can be done in many ways, some being much more accurate than others. Calipers (kind of iffy),¬†bioelectric impedance analysis (handheld devices or scales that “tell you your body fat”…also very iffy), hydrostatic weighing (essentially you’re dunked in water…very accurate but also very impractical), and DEXA scan (also very accurate but very expensive and impractical). So as you can see, the ways that you have easy access to aren’t very accurate, so I kind of figure “what’s the point?”

4. Circumference Measurements –¬†When using this method you take a fabric measuring tape and measure the circumference of certain areas around your body. Your waist, arms, chest, thighs, calves, hips, whatever you’re interested in measuring. I actually like this method a lot as it can tell you a lot more than the scale can. You can see where you might be losing fat…and where you might be GAINING muscle! Which is important too, right? RIGHT!?

3. How are your clothes fitting? –¬†Sometimes seeing how our clothes fit can be the best and easiest way of measuring progress. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients say “ohhh, I’ve put on a few pounds, but you know what? My clothes are fitting better.” Oh, how interesting! Just because you put on a few pounds doesn’t mean it’s fat.

2. How do you look in the mirror? –¬†Isn’t this what’s really the most important to you? Do you really care how much you weigh as long as you look better than you once did? Do you really care how much you weigh if your clothes are now 2 sizes smaller? If you’re in this game for physique changes, then weight really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you like what you’re seeing in the mirror. Taking progress photos is a great way to measure these changes from month to month.

And most importantly….

1. Where’s Your Head At? –¬†When someone has been weight training for a while, eventually there’s this transition that happens in their¬†mind. They¬†start enjoying the process regardless of the physique progress. They have pride in themselves¬†because they¬†can finally bang out a few pull-ups. They¬†have pride in themselves¬†because they¬†can deadlift twice their¬†body weight. They¬†have pride in themselves¬†because daily tasks have all of a sudden become a hundred times easier…simply because they’re¬†stronger, healthier, more confident, and ultimately happier. That’s the real measurement of progress. The rest will just fall into place.

Trust me. Trust the process. It’s definitely a journey, but I hope some day you get to #1.

They Called Us “Spartans”

Imagine this: a young couple living in a major metropolitan area. At least 5 days a week they would rise at 4:45 AM, drink their black coffee, and be at the gym by 5:30 AM. Their training sessions would then ensue and they would rush back home by 6:30. The woman in this relationship would then rush to wash her hair (DAILY), eat breakfast, slap on makeup, try to dress her best, pack her 3 meals (out of her daily 6), and leave for work by 8 while her fiance’ spent 2 hours of his morning commuting to school.

For 3 years this was their lifestyle. Weekends were for catching up with cleaning and errands. Periodic fun was to be had…. Sometimes there were evening galas or dinners in the city… But the clock was always ticking and training and diet were always on the brain.

Their friends admired them. They called them “Spartans” because of their discipline. But golly….what a busy life!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this couple is my husband and I when we lived in New York. It was a hectic time and a stressful time, especially for me. What a relief it was when we moved and it ended. Admittedly, we continued carrying on a relatively strict regimen when we moved to London, but the level of pressure was greatly reduced. The lengthy commutes were over. Our free time had increased. And we were finally given the time and inner peace that allowed us to enjoy living in an amazing city. Due to the fact that we had a tiny fridge and kitchen, I stopped bulk cooking on Sundays and food prep became a thing of the past. (Woo hoo! I always hated that…)

Ever since then our feelings towards diet and training have softened. Longevity and moderation are bigger concerns now that we are in our 30s. Our maturity has helped us realize what’s important in life and what’s not. These days, having the ability to enjoy a few glasses of wine on the weekends is more important to me than paper-thin skin stretched over a chiseled 6-pack. Training is more fun when you’re not only concerned with how it will make you look, but when you’re concerned about whether it’s bringing you joy and making you feel good. Of course, I still enjoy the physique benefits, but they’re no longer the only benefits. I train in a way that I enjoy.

One of my new rules in life is “Don’t do things you hate.” Life is short. If I were on my deathbed tomorrow I sure as hell won’t be saying “damn, I wish I went for that 10 mile run yesterday.” I hate running. I really do. So I don’t do it.¬†And that’s okay because it doesn’t match my goals anyways!

See?

I Hate Running

But I wonder if it might have been necessary for us to go through that strict phase, for if we hadn’t we might not be where we are now, both physically and mentally. It seems that when most people start living a “healthy lifestyle,” they go all in, only coming to the conclusion later on that a more moderate approach could get you to the same place with a lot less stress and worry.

These days I’m trying to help other women avoid that trap of getting sucked into a crazy strict diet and training routine that potentially results in some yo-yo-ing of weight or lifestyle. You really don’t need to get that maniacal about it to see results! Trust me! (Well, unless you need those chiseled, 6-pack abs…and you need them NOW. Well, that might take some extra effort on your part.)

And don’t worry, I no longer wash my hair DAILY. It’s more of a 2-3 days per week type of thing now. (Please don’t confuse that with showering. That is done on a daily basis, thank you very much!)

Anyways, if you are interested in getting stronger, hotter, and overall healthier, but are a bit lost and don’t know how to get started, I’m here for you, girl! I remember that zone well and I was lucky that my husband (fiance’ at the time) could kind of show me the ropes. But I’ve followed all sorts of diets and training programs and I’ve had some online trainers along the way giving me guidance, so I’ve certainly gained some experience and insight through the years. If you want to bypass most of the trial and error and would like to work with me long distance, please do not hesitate to contact me. I currently offer 100% individualized programs catered to you, moderate diet coaching, and for those who like getting a little bit neurotic and nitty gritty with numbers, actual diet plans.