While teaching a group fitness class today, participants noticed that I was literally sweating through my shirt in the shape of a heart. There's no hiding that I love what I do! Helping others feel empowered through better health is my passion. My website is FitnessIsFreedom.net because being fit grants you the freedom to do the things you love.
As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share my experience and knowledge, to coach, instruct and inspire, and to sweat alongside amazing people.
A family member of mine regularly reminds me that you can have all the money in the world, but if you don't have your health, nothing else matters. I give thanks everyday that I am blessed with good health and that I am motivated to maintain it. I wish the same for each one of you, and encourage you to reach out to folks like me if you need help.
Sending season's greetings, love and gratitude to all!
SMASH! The rear passenger window shattered from the impact, spraying glass fragments upon my 7-year-old son. While attempting to leave an air show last month, our vehicle was T-boned by an absent-minded driver trying to perform a three-point turn in the parking lot. Thankfully, no one was injured (save for a small cut on my son's leg). Aside from being a bit shaken up, it was a windy ride home with a blown-out window.
The impact from this crash was minimal, despite the obvious damage to our vehicle, so our seatbelts easily kept us in our places. But what if speed had been a factor and the impact had been greater? And what if my family was representative of the 66 percent of American adults who are overweight or obese?
Turns out that, in a worse car crash, our odds of injury and survival could be partially dependent upon our fitness level.
Really? How can that be? I would have guessed that a thick layer of body fat might provide some extra measure of protection to vital organs upon impact. Not so, according a recent article in The Washington Post titled, "A depressing sign of America's obesity problem: fatter crash test dummies."
"Crash test dummies have long helped auto manufacturers keep cars as safe as possible, but the slim plastic mannequins are increasingly poor mirrors of the modern American man and woman," the article explained.
In response, Humanetics, the world's leading producer of crash test dummies, is developing "a new obese dummy to better mirror the U.S. population."
A crash test dummy weighing over 270 pounds with a body mass index of 35 (30 and above is considered obese by the CDC) is already in process.
The article states that Americans' ever-expanding waistline has also made it more difficult for traditional crash test dummies to properly model how car passengers' bodies will react during an auto accident. "Obese people are 78 percent more likely to die in a crash," Chris O' Connor, the CEO of Humanetics. "The reason is the way we get fat. We get fat in our middle range. And we get out of position in a typical seat."
Furthermore, the article cites a 2010 study from the University at Buffalo and Erie County Medical Center that reached a similar conclusion. "The study, which analyzed data from more than 150,000 car crashes in the United States between 2000 to 2005, found that moderately obese drivers faced a 21 percent increased risk of death, and morbidly obese drivers faced a 56 percent increased risk of death."
"Crash test dummies have saved lives and provided invaluable data on how human bodies react to crashes, but they are designed to represent normal-weight individuals," lead author Dr. Dietrich Jehle told the Daily Mail in 2010.
As if we needed another compelling reason to manage our weight! The months between Halloween and New Year's are considered the greatest season for weight gain. Let's commit now to eating cleaner, reducing portion sizes, moving more, losing fat and being safer in our vehicles!
My husband, Marcus', birthday is this month, so we left the kids with my parents for the weekend and kicked off the birthday celebration with a date night. We headed straight to historic Saint Augustine, which offers a slew of restaurants, rich history and ambience (if you've never been, you really must visit our nation's oldest city).
We started at our favorite little bar on the waterfront with its 70 beers on tap. I chose my favorite concoction offered here. (Wait, what?!? YOU drink alcohol?! Yes. Yes, I do. As in everything, balance and moderation are key.). Drinks come in 8, 16 and 22 ounce glasses. Which to choose? Most folks go with 16 ounces because, well, 8 ounces in the American diet seems like a sippy cup serving. It just so happens that I'm fond of sippy cups, so I went with the smallest serving (DECISION #1). I was also getting hungry and knew that dinner was at least 45 minutes away, so I splurged on a calorically-dense appetizer of shrimp empanadas (DECISION #2).
We finished our drinks and app, paid our bill, then headed to another restaurant for dinner. We chose a place that serves seafood caught off the coast of North Florida (DECISION #3). The menu is completely dependent on whatever kind of fish was caught the day before and delivered to the restaurant that morning. I ordered fish tacos (DECISION #4). Sides offered were black beans and rice, chips, soup or a mixed greens salad. I chose the salad with dressing on the side (DECISION #5). For a beverage, I stuck with water (DECISION #6).
Having already consumed empanadas and a beer, I was feeling satiated after eating my salad and just one of three fish tacos. I could have forced myself to eat more, but I can't stand that gluttonous feeling of being over-full, bloated and lethargic--how most of us feel after a Thanksgiving meal...and too many others (DECISION #7). Besides, Marcus wanted to end our evening with a birthday treat from Cousteau's Waffle & Milkshake Bar (he's clearly a bad influence on me!), so I needed to be prepared for an indulgence there once dinner settled.
Taking my leftover tacos in a to-go box, we entered Cousteau's where Marcus got a ridiculously decadent milkshake (vanilla ice cream, nutella, bananas, whole milk, and a TON of whipped cream). I opted for the half dozen waffle bites--the smallest order and least expensive item on the menu (DECISION #8). The bites were warm, sugary, deliciously chewy, and more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Could I have eaten the larger order? Sure, but why over-indulge only to regret it later? We enjoyed our desserts as we strolled the city's streets.
As you can see, I made at least eight dietary decisions over the course of the night. This was definitely a cheat day for me, but because of the choices I made, I was able to enjoy my splurges, guilt free, because I didn't go off the deep end with any of them. Let's take a closer look:
I'm sharing this date night run-down with you to demonstrate how to stay on track with your fitness goals, even during special occasions (particularly with the holidays approaching). I realize that many of you reading this have weight loss goals, so it wouldn't behoove you to eat empanadas and waffles. But what I hope will be your takeaway is that you have the ability to decide, at every meal, what goes into your body. Since weight management is 80% diet, knowing that you control your intake, portion size, and beverage consumption should empower you to make prudent choices. Eating right is a give and take, a prioritizing of what we need versus what we want. Approach each meal, everyday, as an opportunity to give your body what it needs to be its best, to please your palate with favorite flavors, and make decisions that benefit you in the long run.
And remember: calories in, calories out. Marcus and I continued his birthday celebration the following day with a high intensity exercise session to burn off last night's meal (DECISION #9)!
At the conclusion of one of my Cardio Kickboxing classes recently, a participant approached me to say that she had shown her family my website. While looking at the photos, specifically the close-up of my abdomen, her 10-year-old son exclaimed, "Her stomach is scary! Is yours gonna look like that, Mom?" The mom, with a laugh, replied, "No, dear. Mine will never look like that!"
Out of the mouths of babes, right?! I found this unfiltered exchange to be both hilarious and insightful. Having two sons of my own, I can appreciate the honesty, particularly from those whose minds are yet unwarped by media, cultural norms and prejudices.
This boy's opinion of my belly reminded me that not everyone has the same fitness goals. Not everyone wants to run a marathon (myself included!). Some folks find yoga and mind/body exercises just plain boring. Others don't want to consume animal protein as part of a healthy diet. Many don't want to work out in a gym, while still others don't desire defined abs--including that 10-year-old! And you know what? That's totally fine.
We as trainers must always align our programs to match the healthy, realistic goals our clients desire, while ensuring that functional training is incorporated to support daily activities. No matter what your fitness goals are--or aren't!--everyone needs to be able to sit up in bed, squat down to pick things up from the floor, reach for objects placed overhead, carry awkward items, climb stairs, bend over, pull someone close for a hug, and get on and off of the toilet. That's where The Big 6 come in.
The Big 6 represent six essential movement patterns that are used in everyday life. Fitness programs should incorporate all of these:
A seventh bonus movement should be practiced as well: single-leg exercises that challenge balance and vertical stability.
These exercises may be adapted to any fitness level, can be performed with or without added resistance, are easily accomplished at home or a health club, and may be executed individually or combined as compound movements. Review your program to be sure all of them are represented, and perform them one to three times per week.
And for those who may may desire a "scary stomach" of their own, the Big 6, along with a lean diet, support that goal, too!
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Molly is a wife, mom,
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.