Push Yourself Challenge

I was talking to my daughter the other about her P.E. class and she said her teacher grades on effort.  I told her “so you better try, and that includes running (which she hates)”.   She then proceeds to tell me she does try but she just isn’t a good runner.  I asked when she stopped running, and she said “after a couple minutes.”  I begin to lecture her on “effort”, and pushing your body past it’s comfort zone.  This led me to think that not only children have this issue, but it’s hard for adults to overcome also.

When we are working out, and we stop right at or a little over our comfort level… when you think I just can’t go any faster, I just can’t lift any heavier, I just can’t do another rep, I just can’t do another minute… that is  your mind telling you that you are working out as hard as you can.  HOWEVER,  your body can be pushed further.  That “difficult” stage is the hump. Once you get over that “OMG I’m gonna die feeling” it gets better.  PUSH YOURSELF!

So, here is my challenge to all of you: Just when you think you can’t go faster, harder, heavier, one more minute, … GO faster, PUSH yourself past what your mind thinks you can’t do.  You will be surprised and proud of yourself.

I want to hear from you to see how you pushed yourself.

 

 

Restaurant Survival Guide

We don’t go out to eat that often, but with the weekend coming up, and seeing people’s Facebook posts, I realized HOW much people eat out.  This isn’t bad per say… it’s the decisions that people make from the menu that isn’t so great.   I know that just because you have made the commitment to be healthy, doesn’t mean you are dead and should eat naked chicken and rice cakes!  I also know people going out with family and friends will look at the “unhealthy” decisions that those people make and wonder why they “can’t” eat that, be envious or even angry.  The unhealthy choices that your family and friends are making probably mean they are themselves unhealthy.  So, you are actually the victor and should take pride in ordering healthy! Be weird!

There is almost always healthy options at restaurants.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Ask questions like

  • How is that cooked?
  • Is that cooked in oil?
  • Can I get sauce on the side?
  • Can I substitute the french fries, baked potato, or any other side for a veggie or fruit?

If you know where you are going before hand, Google the restaurant menu, and plan what you are going to have.  GO PREPARED!  Share your meal decision with your spouse, friend, or family member so that when you get there, they know your plan, and it will be harder for you to change to an unhealthy options. This make sit harder to back out. Accountability.

A lot of restaurants have nutritional information on the menu, but you can almost always find nutritional info online!

Here are a few restaurants that have an amazing health-ified menu

General rules of thumb

If you go to a restaurant unprepared, and they don’t have the nutritional info, and you don’t have a smart phone to find the nutritional info, here are some rules of thumb:
  • Look for things like the word “grilled”.
  • Sauces are generally not a good option- request sauce on the side.
  • Salads are NOT necessarily a good option. The crap they put on it can be just as unhealthy, and the dressings are ridiculously full of empty calories and fat.
  • If you go to Mexican food, get the Fajitas, cooked in light or no oil, and the corn tortillas.
  • Another tip at Mexican- if you MUST eat the chips, eat the little broken ones at bottom of the basket.  They are small. You are eating less, but feeling like you are eating more.  NEVER refill the chip basket!
  • If you go to Chinese, get the steamed rice, and get something with veggies and no sauce.  Stay away from the egg rolls. 🙁
  • Fish is usually a good option, just as long as it’s broiled or grilled, and has no sauce.
  • If your going out for breakfast, almost all restaurants will let you order an omelet or eggs with just egg whites or egg beaters.  An egg white veggie omelet with very little or no cheese is good!
  • Also for breakfast, stay away from the hash browns or potatoes!  Get a couple pieces of wheat toast, butter on the side.  Then, add a little of the butter yourself. If they do it, they slather the toast up!

One final tip

When you’re full, stop eating. Actually, stop eating a little bit before you are full. Better to “waste” a little food, than stuff yourself. Enjoy eating out, but don’t regret it afterwards.

Getting Kids To Eat Healthy

With our kids going back to school, it’s harder to guide them on how they eat.

1 in 3 children are overweight or obese.  YES, let me say that again 1 in 3 children in America are overweight or obese! WOWZA! that’s insane and scary.   I believe there are several contributing factors to this insane epidemic:

  1. School lunches– The school lunches are DISGUSTING! They are processed and unhealthy!  Pack your childs lunch and snacks instead of letting them buy school lunch.  Now, realistically kids like to buy school lunch with their friends, so maybe look at the lunch menu for the next month and sit down with your child and find the healthiest lunch and let them buy on that day.
  2. Education– Children are not taught to make their own healthy choices or taught portion control.  They are just told “NO you can’t eat that”.
  3. CLEAN YOUR PLATE– We all heard this growing up and we have all said it to our children. In the past I was one of those parents . NO NO NO NO.  Now it drives me crazy when I hear parents say this.  Look at it this way, as adults when we are full we stop eating (or at least we should).  There are days when our kids are just not as hungry.  We are teaching them to eat EVERYTHING and eat it even if they are full.  Teach them to eat their veggies first then the rest of the meal and if they don’t finish… they don’t finish.  Let them make the decision as to when they are full!
  4. Activity–  With TV, video games, and all the technology kids have these days,  their activity level  has dropped drastically.  Kids used to walk to school, play in the yard, and ride bikes.  Nowadays it’s unsafe to let your children roam free.  It’s up to us as parents to get creative with the amount of exercise our kids get.  Enroll them in a martial arts class (which is dual purpose, exercise and self defense), hiking with the family, try dance classes or gymnastics.  ALSO as technology can be bad, it can be good too.  My 12 year old will do the exercise mode on Dance Central for hours.  Get creative and encourage them!
  5. Role model–  We as parents need to be better role models for our children.  They see what we eat, and naturally pick up our bad habits.  If you eat healthy they will too.

Let’s face it, kids are picky.  They don’t want to eat things that are different, green,  or funny looking.  I get that.  At some point, all three of my girls have gone through that phase.  In reality that’s how kids eat… in phases.  At one point they eat anything and everything.  A month later they eat nothing that doesn’t end in Macaroni and Cheese.

I am a mom of three girls and I am totally realistic, I know that  getting them to eat only raw foods or homemade foods is not going to happen.  But there are tons or “replacements” for the foods your kids love!  Yes even Mac and Cheese!

Teach them how to order in a restaurant or pick the healthier desert.  Don’t deprive them of “fun” things, but teach them that there are “fun” health alternatives.  It’s up to you to open their minds.  I know that I do not want my girls to have the same weight struggles that I had my whole life!  Also, it’s ok for them to have unhealthy food, but teach them about moderation and it’s ok occasionally.

 

S0, here are some replacement foods and ideas that I tried to teach my children:

  • YOGURT- Instead of high sugared yogurt like go-gurt and danimals  try a greek yogurt like Chobani.  My kids like to add a little granola or kashi go lean crunch.
  • GOLDFISH- Instead of the regualar goldfish crackers try Annie’s. They are organic and yummy.
  • PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY-  Instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, try organic peanut butter and agave or honey.
  • CHIPS-   Instead of Doritos or Cheetoos,  Pop Chips or Veggie Straws
  • KRAFT MAC AND CHEESE- Instead of Kraft, use Annie’s mac and cheese. Again, organic and much better.
  • SYRUP-  Agave nectar is a MUCH better alternative to syrup and just as sweet.  You can also use agave nectar as a replacement for sugar.  I use it in my Oatmeal instead of sugar.
  • CEREAL- Whole grain waffles and agave nectar.  Cheerios are also a better alternative than those junky sugar filled cereal.  To make it sweet, add a little agave and fresh strawberries on top.
  • CANDY- Celery with peanut butter and raisins.  Or one of my kids (and mine) favorite is a banana sliced down the middle with some peanut butter inside.
  • FRUIT SNACKS-  I know I call me captain obvious but how about real fruit?

Here are some other good snacks and meal ideas:

  • Go organic whenever possible!
  • Processed foods are full of fillers, empty calories, and leave your children hungry again very quickly!
  • Give your child a little baggie of nuts or trail mix.  Nuts fill them up.  I send them with little baggies of nuts for nutrition or snack inbetween breakfast and lunch so they can make it until lunch and be energized and not be hungry.  It’s hard to learn when your tummy is growling.
  • Stay away from soda and juice!  Give them Vitamin Water or water enhancers (without a bunch of ingredients that you can’t pronounce).  My family loves Mio.
  •  Also keep in mind just because it says “low fat” or “fat free” doesn’t mean its healthy.  Generally, those things are replaced with artificial ingredients and fillers and they do not have any nutritional benefits.  Not to mention your kids are going to get hungrier faster.

What your child eats, effects how they learn, think, their energy level, and how they develop.  We owe it to our children to teach and guide them how to eat healthy and how to make healthy decisions!  Let me enforce that fact that it is so important that we teach our kids how to make their own healthy decisions! Teach by example. Your children WILL mimic you [with bad habits, and good ones].

 

Abs

A friend of mine recently asked me about my ab routine, so here it is.

First of all, I LOVE doing abs!  It’s my favorite body part to train.  If I could, I would do abs every day!  But, I know if I did it really wouldn’t help me, and my muscle fibers would not have time to mend, so I don’t :(.

Now, what is the main problem that people have with their mid section?  That top layer of fat, right?  Well, you can do 5 million abs exercises a day for the rest of your life and never get the results you want.  What really burns that extra layer of fat is CARDIO.  So, while you  have a ROCKIN 6 pack from your doing your 5 million ab reps a day,  you will never be able to see it under that layer of fat.

SO,  I do a ton of  cardio.   Abs don’t need to be trained more than 2-3 days  a week, with at least a day of rest in between.  I do cardio, then  I do abs 3 days a week with another body part, so I don’t do as many ab exercises those days.  Then I do JUST abs, one day a week.   I do 4 sets of about 4- 5 different exercises.  This takes a long time, so it’s not for everyone!  Most people don’t have that much time, nor do they desire to spend that much time so scale it back and just incorporate abs twice a week with either less sets  and more exercises or more sets  less different exercises.  But when you do make it count!  Concentrate on your abs. Pretend you are trying to get your belly button to touch your spine. Slow controlled movements holding each rep for 2 seconds with a controlled release.  Less is more!  Form and control is better than fast uncontrolled reps.

Here are a few of my favorite ab exercises:

Take your time concentrate on your abs and DON’T FORGET TO BREATH!

Stability Balls Crunch- Once you have done this for a while, try it weighted. I use weights or a elastic band

Bicycle Kick Crunches

Reverse Crunch

Roll UP

Plank

AB Toning Wheel   Yes I said it.  I don’t normally use gimmicky products, but it I do like to do it once in a while to change things up.

These are just a few.  When training abs don’t neglect obliques and sides.  Training the entire core is essential!

Try this amazing app.  It is beyond awesome for training abs!  I recommend starting on easy then working your way up unless you have done some serious ab training.

Also what you eat can directly effect  your abdominal region.  Stay away from transfats, they are the worst!

Eating foods like these help burn that stubborn belly fat in reality ABS ARE CARVED IN THE KITCHEN:

  • black beans
  • sunflower seeds
  • peanuts/nuts
  • green tea
  • yogurt
  • bananas
  • fish
  • whole grains
  • dark chocolate
  • avocado
  • flaxseed
  • olive oil

My Top 10 Workout Tips To Get You Started

When I first started working out, and trying to live healthy, it was just so overwhelming and I was going in it blind.  I had no idea where to start.  I knew I should do cardio, but for how long?  How high of intensity?  I was so lost.  So, I have put together my top 10 workout tips that I wish I would have known when starting out.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

In no particular order:

  1. Do not start working out 7 days a week and restricting massive calories.  SLOW DOWN.  Start off gradually, and work your way up!
  2. 3-4 days a week,  high intensity, 20-30 min workouts are a good way to start.
  3.  Never work out the same body part two days in a row – your muscle fibers need time to repair
  4. Cardio workouts burn calories WHILE your doing the workout while strength training and lifting weights continue to burn calories hours after your done working out.
  5. Do not workout until 30 min after you have eaten and do not eat (especially carbs) 30 min after
  6. Switch it up… If you find yourself plateauing, then you need to switch up your workout.  Example:  Instead of doing cardio before strength training, do it after. Change the exercises you are doing – if you are always using a cable, switch to weights.
  7. EAT YOUR PROTIEN
  8. Don’t over do. Burnout is a serious thing.
  9. Eating not enough calories is as bad as eating too many.  If you are not eating enough, your body will burn lean muscle and not fat.  That is BAD!
  10. Less is more.  If you can do 100 reps of a particular exercise, that’s to much.  Add weights or some kind of resistance (like a band or cable).

 

Healthy Replacements – Dinner

Note: This post is part 3 of 3, on healthy replacements for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Here are some popular unhealthy (or less healthy) foods and healthier replacements. I implement most of these in my eating habits.

Dinner

Less Healthy More Healthy
pork chop-breaded pork chop lightly seasoned and bbq’ed
chicken with sauce chicken with bbq sauce
spaghetti brown rice, steamed veggies and a little bit of chicken mixed together
hamburgers salmon or turkey patty on a whole wheat bun
steak talapia or salmon
tacos corn tortilla with some fresh salsa and some kind of fish/ or sliced up chicken breast
rice Quinoa or cous cous
noodles sweet potato fries
baked potato baked sweet potato

When in doubt eat a sweet potato 🙂

My weaknesses

  • chocolate
  • ice cream
  • buttered popcorn

I replace them with

  • low fat brownies – I REALLY like Betty Crocker.
  • fat free ice cream – Bryers has the best fat free ice cream IMO
  • light/fat free popcorn

Note:  I always have fruit or veggies before every meal, and try to drink a large glass of water before I eat.  I feel more full, and that way it insures I am eating more of the good stuff and getting my water in.  Every meal I have protein, and rarely ever eat carbs for dinner. Lunch is generally my larger, more high caloric meal.

One more tip

It sounds weird, but I always eat a healthy snack right before dinner… raw veggies and hummus, carrots, nuts.  This causes me to not eat as much at dinner, specially since my larger meal is lunch, I don’t need a big dinner.

A healthy dinner plate should be 1/4 Lean Protein, 1/2 Low Glycemic Carbs, and 1/2 Salads or Veggies.

What are some of your unhealthy dinner or guilty pleasure choices that I can help you replace with a healthier version?

Stop Comparing Yourself!

All our lives we have looked at the “pretty girl”, and wanted to be like her, or looked at the rich kid, and wanted their designer jeans.  Lets face the facts, you are you, and you are never going to be someone else.  I know, just call me Captain Obvious.  However, we all do it.  We look at someone and want what they have.  Let’s get honest,  there will ALWAYS be someone out there prettier than you, fitter than you , richer than you… blah blah blah the list goes on and on.  It won’t get you anywhere to compare yourself to anyone!

The only way to get what you want is hard work and being the BEST YOU that you can be!  We all owe it to ourselves to be our best us.  There is no “perfect” person.  I have lost 120 pounds, I have muscles and have NEVER been more fit or happy with my body.   However I have  stretch marks on my stomach.  So yes I have flaws (tons of them), but at the end of the day, I know I have done everything in my power to improve the things that can be changed and accept the flaws I cannot.

 So instead of looking at yourself and pointing out the things you hate, that can’t be changed, look at yourself and pick out things you love and work on the flaws that can be improved!

Earn Your Weight Loss

You must earn your weight loss, and learn lessons throughout your journey if you ever want it to last, be maintained, and to be a lifestyle… and not just a “diet” (have I mentioned how much I hate that word?). Your mistakes, trials, tribulations, and victory’s are what make you a better person and the same lessons apply to your body!

There is NO miracle. There is NO “fast and easy” weight loss.   It’s hard work, dedication, commitment, and consistency.  Slow, steady weight loss is the only way to go to lose and maintain a healthy way of living for the rest of your life.

Anything that makes you loose weight fast is NEVER going to be a lasting thing.   Just think about it this way, “if you do it right, you earn every pound you loose from sweat and sacrifice.” You cherish it.  If  something gets handed to you and there is no effort involved, you don’t really have an “attachment”.  and don’t know what is really involved. You didn’t have to work for it!  With hard work comes pride.

Think about this:  If you implement exercise, eating right, and living healthy, only one year from now you could be at, or very close to your goal!  Let me say that again, ONLY ONE YEAR  from now you could be at, or very close to  your goal.  Years come and go by so very fast, especially the older we get.   One year is not a very long time in the whole scheme of things!  How awesome would that be if you could be there this time next year?!?!?!

Start today!  Don’t wait until Monday, New Years, or next month… START TODAY!  Today change one thing that leads to a healthy life, then change one thing tomorrow.  It’s not about a crash diet or crazy workout routine.  It’s about changing habits of day to day life and becoming the healthiest and the best you that you can be!

 

 

 

No Excuses!

Let’s face the truth here, people have more excuses why they can’t work out and eat right than they have shoes!

EVERYBODY could find the time if they “really” wanted to.  Everyone has at least 20 mins in their day to dedicate to taking care of their bodies!  You only get ONE body, why wouldn’t you want to care for it?

20 minutes a day is better than doing nothing at all!  Wake up 20 min early and do a work out video, take a brisk walk around the block… there really are a ton of things that you can start doing today that doesn’t require you to join a gym.  I lost 120 lbs and didn’t step foot in a gym.

 

Here are a couple awesome and inexpensive 20 minute workouts:

 

A little more expensive option, if you have an Xbox and Kinect, there are several different “games” you can get for workouts:

There are so many more, these are just a few.

A stability ball  and a exercise band are awesome home gym additions!  You could do the majority of a workout just with these!

If you are looking for an awesome investment, buy an elliptical, a stationary bike, or a treadmill.  There are tons out there, even the cheaper ones are better than sitting on the couch and doing nothing.

Let’s face it, there are a million reasons why you can’t work out, but at the end of the day you will feel better mind, body, and soul if you do.   When you have eating and exercise under control, EVERYTHING else in your life seems more in control.

7 Key Elements to success

  1. SUPPORT – If it were not for the total support of my husband, I would never have gotten where I am today!  If the people around you are not supportive, find people that are… chat boards, friends, co-workers, me. 🙂
  2. MINI GOALS – Set mini goals for yourself. Sometimes the end result seems unachievable, and so very far away.  Whether it’s a pair of jeans that you love but can’t fit into anymore, or a 10 pound mark… it’s up to you, but ALWAYS set mini goals.  Once you hit that goal, set another one.
  3. PLAN – Plan meals ahead of time.
  4. BE PREPARED – I make sure I have a bag of healthy snacks with me in case I am out and about and get hungry.  There is no temptation.  I also pack my lunch if I think I am going to be out around lunchtime.  Saves money and calories!
  5. LOG LOG LOG – Log everything you put into your mouth, and log your workouts!  One bite here and another there really ADDS UP!  I hear all the time, “I really don’t eat much.”  I used to think the same thing until I started logging. I use dailyburn.com for my logging.  It is free (paid version is available for more options, if you want). They also have an iPhone app that updates you account on the website, and a barcode scanner so you can just scan your food as you eat it.  They also have exercise tutorials, and the food bank is one of the most extensive I have seen.
  6. MEASURE – Measure your food, even if you “know” how much you are having.  It keeps ya’ honest. 🙂
  7. BE HONEST – The only person you are hurting is yourself.

All 7 of these work together and make a great recipe for success.  Missing one of these elements will only make the already uphill battle even harder and set you up for failure.

These are really not hard, and very simple to do.  Even after my weight loss, I still implement all these elements into my life.

I do not believe in “diets”.  I believe in a lifestyle change, and these will help change your life.  Diet is something you do for a while then stop. Dieting is not something you can keep up for the rest of your life.  I think that is why there is so much yo-yo weight loss.  LIVE healthy and it can be maintained for the rest of your (long) life.