I am an admitted fitness nerd. I like earning continuing education credits to maintain my certifications, I enjoy trying new exercise techniques, and I appreciate studies and research about wellness by reputable organizations. One such just-released study has me unusually excited. Conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, researchers found that, "Not exercising may be worse for your health than smoking." This isn't surprising, really, but what makes the findings of this study so compelling is the scale, as it followed well over 100,000 patients for 23 years. There's just no way around it--exercise is essential to longevity and quality of life. Below is the article about the study featured at Time.com by Gina Martinez:
It’s common knowledge that there are many benefits to being fit, but one large new study found that skipping out on the gym is particularly bad for your health. In fact, the study claims not exercising may be more harmful to your health than smoking.
New findings, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, detail how researchers at the Cleveland Clinic studied 122,007 patients from 1991 to 2014, putting them under treadmill testing and later recording mortality rates. Researchers found a clear connection between a longer, healthier life and high levels of exercise. The report calls for health care professionals to encourage patients to achieve and maintain a robust fitness routine.
“Cardiorespiratory fitness is inversely associated with long-term mortality with no observed upper limit of benefit,” the study says. “Extremely high aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival and was associated with benefit in older patients and those with hypertension.”
Although it is widely understood that an active lifestyle can lead to a healthy life, the study concludes that a sedentary lifestyle is the equivalent of having a major disease and the simplest cure is exercise.
Dr Wael Jaber, co-author of the study, called the results surprising. “Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Jaber told CNN. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.”
The study also took a look at the risk of being overactive and found that “ultra” exercisers do not face higher risk of death: the research consistently found that the more a person exercises the lower their mortality rates.
Happy holidays, Fitness Friends! How's your protein intake? I just read an article from the National Academy of Sports Medicine that may help you maximize this essential nutrient. As a fitness professional, I'm always benchmarking my nutrition against the latest data. I thought you might want to as well since protein is such a vital nutrient to those seeking strength and fitness gains.
The article, titled, "THE SECOND SCOOP ON PROTEIN: WHEN, WHAT AND HOW MUCH?," by Fabio Comana, revisits the importance of protein ingestion as part of an athlete's nutritional strategy (and by athlete, I mean you!). But that always begs questions, as the title implies: when is the optimal time to ingest protein? What kinds of protein are most useful? And how much is optimal?
I have included the link to the full article here for those who want the complete breakdown, but for those like me with a short attention span who just want the science-based bottom line from leading dietitians, fitness experts, and certifying agencies, here you go:
Aside from eating whole foods-based protein sources, my personal habit of more than a decade is consuming a protein shake immediately after a strenuous workout. My go-to recipe is a scoop of vanilla or chocolate Swiig Daily Whey Protein (20 g), a scoop of Swiig Get Flexible supplement (for joint health and mobility), a scoop of Get Recovered supplement (for regeneration and recovery), a handful of spinach and/or kale, a handful of sliced carrots, a handful of seasonal berries, half a banana, about a half a cup of organic milk and some ice. If I need the shake to tide me over longer, I will blend in a spoonful of raw, organic almond butter.
If after reading this you realize that you're not getting enough protein, or the right kinds of protein, or ingesting it with sufficient frequency, make that a goal as we head into 2018.
In my last blog, I reflected on the highlights of an eventful 2016. Before we get any deeper into January 2017, I wanted to share my expectations for the year. I prefer the term expectations, as opposed to goals, because to expect something means it's likely to happen, almost like an obligation. A goal, on the other hand, is something to aim for, but you may not necessarily achieve it. While there's much to be learned on the journey towards a goal, even if it isn't reached, being expectant requires greater commitment.
Ok, so here is my list, in no particular order. Hold me accountable!
Now it's your turn! Hopefully you've already set your own expectations, and perhaps just need to write them out. Need a few suggestions? Consider these:
Place your list where you'll see it regularly, and feel free to post it in the Comments section for accountability. Let's make 2017 our best year yet!
Whew! We made it to 2017! Was 2016 a rollercoaster year, or what?! I know that for many of you, last year was fraught with ups and downs on many levels. It was certainly full on my end, too. And while I'm ready to focus on the next ride around the sun, I'd like to take a few moments to slow down long enough to reflect on the highlights of an eventful year.
What did I NOT accomplish in 2016? Writing blogs consistently! Besides having some computer issues, which have made website updates cumbersome, and limited creative time, I recognize that there's already so much available to read from countless fitness gurus. So much advice. So many videos. So little time or attention span to consume it all. And I'm not one to write just for the sake of writing. Rather, I do so only when I'm inspired. I'm aiming for greater inspiration (and a new computer) in 2017!
If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to jot down your own list of highlights, and even lowlights, so that you may acknowledge how you've grown, changed and adapted to your personal journey of life. An easy way to start is to peruse the photos you took through the year and review your calendar since January 2016.
May you be empowered by your reflections to set new goals for mind, body and spirit in 2017. We'll talk about those in my next blog!
I'm pleased to report that I'm officially "Certified for Life" as a personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (N.A.S.M.)!
For some background, every two years, certified fitness professionals are required to complete a specific number of continuing education units, renew their CPR and AED certification, and pay a fee in order to maintain their active status with a certifying body (N.A.S.M., in this instance).
Being "Certified for Life" with N.A.S.M. requires trainers to make a greater financial investment in their renewal process, in essence prepaying their future renewal fees for life. This doesn't negate the other requirements, as we're still required to fulfill the continuing education units, and maintain CPR and AED certification status every two years to ensure that our industry knowledge is up-to-date.
The takeaway for the reader, and for current and future clients, is that this investment demonstrates a commitment to my craft, to the pursuit of enhanced health and wellness through continuing education, and a regard for one of the most respected certifying bodies in the fitness industry. While there are a handful of excellent organizations that educate and certify personal trainers, being a nationally accredited N.A.S.M. CPT is highly regarded and often preferred at health clubs over other certifications. I also hold personal trainer and group fitness instructor certifications through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, which was recently acquired by N.A.S.M.
At the end of the day, I admit that what clients value most are results, not initials after one's name. But asking a trainer about their certifications should be included in your top questions before you consider hiring them.
According to fitness expert, Gunnar Peterson, "It may not matter, but sometimes it gives you a little light on why they are training you a certain way," Peterson said in a Men's Fitness article. "N.S.C.A., N.A.S.M., and A.C.S.M. are the gold standards. There are great trainers who are not certified, but it's comforting to know that they applied themselves and studied a certain amount of pertinent information."
"Mom, you go first, I'll go second, and G will follow me," instructed my nine-year-old son, Magnus.
He, my mom (aka "G," short for Grandma) and I were at the starting line for the Insane Inflatable 5k, a course dotted with oversized inflatable obstacles, similar to what you might find at those indoor bounce house playgrounds, only more extreme. Along with hundreds of other participants, the three of us were joined by several friends who comprised Team L.O.U. (Lift Others Up).
As we awaited the air horn signaling our turn to go, I admired the members of our team--moms with sons, dads with daughters, parents with children, and in my case, a grandmother with her daughter and grandson. How inspiring it was to see loved ones making fitness a fun family affair. More importantly, it was an opportunity for parents to model an active lifestyle for their kids.
My attention returned to scaling the first inflatable obstacle, with my son and mom following close behind. The next 45 minutes took us through a dozen inflatables over the course of 3.1 miles, and taught us a few lessons. Magnus developed a new appreciation for his grandmother, finding it "pretty cool" that she was able to participate with us. He also experienced endurance, running farther than he ever has. My mom proved that she could do more than she thought she could, and discovered areas where she'd like to develop more strength. And I was reminded that no matter one's fitness level, age or speed, the key is to just keep moving, and lift others up along the way.
Final thoughts: What fitness goals or activities will you set for your family in the coming weeks and months? The year is still young, so you have time to plan for at least one family-friendly 5k in 2016. If that's not your thing, schedule time to be active with your kids weekly. Stop being a spectator and get moving together!
During the holiday break, my oldest son, Magnus, participated in a three-day athletic camp led by a former NFL player. In addition to coaching the kids on speed, agility and quickness, the camp included lessons on character-building.
At the end of one practice, the participants were given a homework assignment to define themselves using the letters of their name. The activity was designed to teach the kids that while someone else had named them, they had the choice to determine what their name stood for. It was up to each one of them to help shape how others perceive them based on what they represented through their beliefs, goals and behaviors, and their names should signify that.
This assignment was challenging for my nine-year-old son whose vocabulary is understandably limited, so we helped him a bit. Here's what he/we came up with: M - magnetic; A - athletic; G - grateful; N - needed; U - unstoppable; S - swift.
In assisting Magnus, I couldn't help but ask myself, "What does Molly represent? How do I want to be defined, particularly as we enter into a new year ?" Perhaps surprising to some, none of my definitions were specifically fitness-related, despite fitness being my passion and profession. I went with over-arching concepts that encompass all facets of wellness, including spiritual, emotional and physical.
After some thought, I decided on this definition:
I need to be honest and admit that I was hesitant to write this, because I have such a long way to go in my pursuit of these ideals. But then I reminded myself of the definition of ideal--a standard to strive for, a conception of perfection. I won't get these right much of the time, but it's my aim this year and beyond to be a better "mother," to be more "open," to be a "light" to others, to live with "less," and to say "yes" to only the best.
My challenge to you this month is to complete this task with your name, and perhaps encourage your spouse and kids to do the same. You're welcome to flesh out your last name as well if your first name is fewer than five letters or you simply want give meaning to your full name. Feel free to share it here in the Comments section!
Here's to a healthier, more fulfilling new year, where we add meaning and wellness to every area of our lives!
One of my childhood neighborhoods was heavily shrouded in oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. It was a haven for squirrels. Lots and lots of squirrels. Those bushy-tailed rodents would dart to and fro in front of oncoming cars, often to their demise.
Having witnessed countless squirrel crossings, I recognized that these creatures were run over because their behavior was erratic and indecisive. Like the video game Frogger, squirrels would cross a street in the hopes that their timing was faster than that of a vehicle. And most of the time, it was. But here’s where they made fatal mistakes: after darting just in time to a safe curb, they impulsively turned back in the direction from which they came, and even changed directions more than once in the middle of the road, appearing unsure about which side of the street was preferable. In that ill-timed deliberation, the squirrels found themselves under the tires of a two-ton car.
Ok, so why am I writing about the behavior of squirrels? Because I see similar behavior in people who are unsuccessful at achieving their fitness goals. How often have you or a friend started a fitness or weight loss regimen, only to second guess yourself? Perhaps you’ve jumped into a clean eating program, but turned back to your old habits because you became distracted or failed to plan? Or maybe you attempted to cross over to a healthier lifestyle, but someone or something made you look back, causing fear and confusion about how to move ahead. Or you're one of those folks who shuffles from one weight loss trend to another, never gaining traction or momentum.
While fitness failures haven't resulted in you becoming roadkill like the squirrels, indecision, poor planning and a lack of commitment can be the death of your health goals.
The solution to this sabotaging indecision is to set small, incremental goals that develop daily habits. Rather than looking way ahead to the other side of the road representing your ultimate destination, pay attention to the next step in front of you. Each pace, taken with intention, will help establish consistency, strength and discipline that will keep you moving in the right direction. For example, rather than focusing on the number of pounds you want to lose, which may seem overwhelming, write down a plan for the healthy choices you’ll make today, tomorrow, the next day and the next.
Here’s a daily checklist you may use to get started:
Now, here's your challenge: Implement your own checklist this week. Don't get squirrely and delay progress that you can start experiencing tomorrow!
While attending a kickboxing training several years ago, the presenter introduced participants to a dramatic video of famed martial artist, Bruce Lee. It was an interview with Lee, who gave his famous, "Be water, my friend" speech:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless...shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
As a confessed Type A personality who craves control, this message really speaks to me on so many levels. From a fitness standpoint, these words provide inspiration when you feel you've hit a plateau, a roadblock or a setback. Consider "being like water" in these scenarios:
You want to eat right and exercise, but between work, kids and home, you're just too busy.
You've been performing the same exercise routine for a while now, with early measurable results. But nothing seems to be changing in your body anymore. Clothes fit the same, body composition is the same, weight is the same.
You said you were going to exercise four to five days per week, but are lucky if you exercise twice. You're disappointed that you've not stuck with your commitment, and even more disappointed that you're not experiencing results.
Due to some nagging injuries and conditions, you're afraid to work out and have gained extra weight. You'd like to exercise again, but don't know what you're capable of or how to start.
You joined a new gym, but it's a lot different from your last gym. The check-in process takes two steps instead of one, instructors don't use familiar choreography, and the culture is not quite like you're used to. Missing your old gym is demotivating.
No matter the obstacle, water always finds a way, doesn't it?
When in doubt, go with the flow that propels you forward!
It's enough to make a fitness coach cry.
Despite having an arsenal of fitness tools at our finger tips in this country, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that most Americans--more than two thirds--are overweight or obese. This study was conducted by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who studied data from 2007 to 2012 of a nationally representative group of 15,208 people ages 25 or older.
The results corroborated estimates by the Centers for Disease Control:
For the record, being overweight means a person's body mass index is 25-29.9 and they weigh 25-30 pounds over the recommended weight for their height. Being obese means a person's BMI is 30 or greater, and they are at least 30 pounds over the recommended weight for their height.
What difference does it make if you're overweight or obese? "Excessive body weight is associated with a myriad of health risks including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, some types of cancer, pregnancy complications, shortened life expectancy, and decreased quality of life," says the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Beyond that, the CDC estimates that yearly medical costs of obesity in the U.S. reached $147 billion in 2008, the latest data available.
But losing weight is hard, you say? Then let me ask you this--is suffering from one of the maladies listed above any easier? I'm reminded of a quote I saw recently: "Losing weight is hard. Being overweight is hard. Choose your hard." I have friends battling cancer, and I assure you, losing weight is a preferable challenge.
If you find yourself in the overweight or obese category--two out of three of us will!--I'd like to suggest some simple actions to get you started on your mission to a healthier weight. Using the 2/3 ratio as inspiration, start with at least one of these tomorrow, then add another one the next day, and so on:
Make a dental appointment. Reschedule a reservation. Request an itemized bill. Follow up on a client. Call my step-mom. Confirm my son's camp registration. Ask hubby if he can take vacation that week in July. Buy a birthday gift for Amy.
This is a partial list of to-do's that were swirling in my head for a couple of weeks. About the time I'd sit down to address one of these items, my three-year-old would spill his drink or awaken from a nap, an email or Facebook post would steal my attention, the washing machine would play its obnoxiously catchy tune beckoning me to transfer the wet clothes into the dryer, or I'd need to hop in the shower before running an errand. By the time I circled back to my starting point, I'd forgotten what I was aiming to do.
I'd crawl into bed at the end of the day feeling as though I'd been busy, but accomplished little. As a task-oriented person who prides herself on productivity and efficiency, this left me frustrated. There's nothing more satisfying than a task well done, and well, I wasn't gettin 'er done. So I forced myself to sit with a pen and paper, and perform an age-old task in organization that, for me, works every time. I jotted down a prioritized list of the activities I needed to accomplish.
This simple act of organizing my to-do's and writing them on a prominently displayed notepad (I keep it on my bathroom counter where I'll see it throughout the day) immediately focused my efforts. By the end of that day, I had already completed more than half of the items that had escaped me for over two weeks. How satisfying to cross off each task! Why hadn't I employed this tactic sooner?!
For those of us who have goals of getting healthier, but haven't yet developed the daily discipline to eat right and exercise, consider creating a printed list. Add specific action items, such as, "Drink four 16-ounce bottles of water today," "Attend Bootcamp class at 5:30p," "Walk the dog for 30 minutes," "Plan next week's menu," "Prepare tomorrow's exercise outfit," etc.
Making a list is certainly not rocket science, but with so much vying for our attention each day, so many electronic gadgets beeping and buzzing at us, and so many reasons to be distracted, utilizing this basic list tactic may be the extra step you need to finally do for your body what's been on your mind.
In our lives B.C. (Before Children), my husband and I took a spontaneous trip to Rome and Florence, Italy, for the Thanksgiving holiday. I had no trouble trading turkey for lasagna in such a beautiful country!
One of the highlights of our trip was witnessing David, the Renaissance sculpture of the biblical hero by Michelangelo. Beginning in 1501, this famed artist meticulously chiseled what is arguably one of the finest examples of sculpture in history. Standing before David, all 17 feet of him, I actually teared up at this marvel of marble. It's truly a moving experience to behold works of art of this magnitude.
What I find wonderfully ironic is that David began as a 19 foot block of damaged carrara marble. Despite its imperfections, Michelangelo had this to say:
“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
There is so much in this quote that applies to my clients and anyone seeking to reshape their lives and bodies into something healthier and fitter.
Many of us feel damaged, imperfect, even imprisoned inside a body we don't recognize or wish to claim. This perspective can make us feel like a cold block of stone -- heavy and burdened.
What if we allowed ourselves the vision of an artist, to see ourselves as we were created to be--"shaped and perfect in attitude and action"--and began chiseling away, layer by layer, the rough walls that thwart our potential? Admittedly, it's not a quick or easy task, as it took Michelangelo three years and the removal of two feet of marble to sculpt David. But taken one hour, one meal, one activity, one decision, one day at a time, your "lovely apparition" will, too, take shape. It all comes down to "attitude and action."
So, how do you start? Set a specific goal, write it down, and commit to a time frame. For example, you might say, I will exercise vigorously for 30 minutes three days a week (Mon., Wed., Fri.) from 6-6:30a for four weeks. Or, I will commit to eating a healthy breakfast of protein and carbs five mornings each week (Mon.-Fri.) within 30 minutes of waking, for four weeks. As you near the end of that month, build on that goal for the next month.
What does Michelangelo say about goals? “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” With that in mind, set a goal that's doable, but challenging, knowing you will continue to increase that goal as you get fitter and healthier.
What's the best time to start carving out your personal work of art? Now! "There is no greater harm than that of time wasted," said Michelangelo, who also believed, even in his artistic mastery, in hard work and continuous learning.
And on those days when you have unexpected setbacks, stay the course and keep your artist's vision, repeating Michelangelo's words for inspiration: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him/her free.”
"So, what's your secret?"
It's a question I've been asked throughout my fitness journey, and one I recently realized could be summed up in one word. Prior to this realization, I typically explained my regimen of exercise, my emphasis on clean, balanced eating, my constant consumption of water, and my requirement for sufficient sleep. It's a longer answer than most people want to explain why I've been able to maintain essentially the same weight for 20+ years. The only time my weight fluctuated by more than five pounds was during my two successful pregnancies.
My "secret" is the reason so many people fail at maintaining their weight. They eat well, for a time, exercise, for a time, and focus on their health, for a time, but they don't do those three things for a LIFE time.
As far back as I can remember, I was active. Not in a sport-specific way, but in a play-outside-for-hours way. Growing up, my family never had cable tv or video games, so being inside bored me. I would jump on my pogo stick in the driveway, ride my appropriately yellow banana seat bike, wrestle with my dog and throw a tennis ball against the house. My weekly chores were physical, too: cleaning the bathrooms, hanging up and taking down baskets of laundry (we didn't have a dryer), vacuuming, and hauling trash to the edge of our property.
Like a lot of little girls, I attended dance lessons, then went on to be a cheerleader from seventh grade through my senior year of high school. In college, I feared gaining the "freshman 15," so I only took the stairs while living on the seventh floor of my dorm. I also chose to attend a weight lifting class as an elective, where I learned the basics of strength training.
When I graduated from school and started my corporate career, I immediately joined a gym where I'd exercise after work several days a week. My enjoyment from fitness grew from that point on over the years, until it eventually became my profession.
As I look back over the last 10 years, throughout which time I have been a fitness instructor and personal trainer, I can state with confidence that I rarely went three days without working out. Most weeks, my rest days numbered one or two. If I recall correctly, the only two times in my adulthood where I took several weeks off from exercise was by doctor's orders while healing from my two c-sections. Now, some of those exercise sessions over the years may have been very short or a light intensity, but they counted. And they included everything from resistance training, to dancing, to martial arts, to indoor cycling, to mind/body disciplines, to body weight training, to swimming and running. These sessions took place at health clubs, at home, outside, and on vacation (I even recall going to a gym in Athens, Greece, while visiting there years ago. Efcharisto!).
And in the last decade, my diet has steadily and dramatically improved as I've learned more about food, its sources and its impact on the body.
Alright, so what's my secret? In a word, CONSISTENCY. It's not a magic formula, a miracle workout or a super food. It's consistently being active in a variety of ways, and choosing the healthy foods I like that fuel my activity.
Perhaps you had more modern conveniences than I had as a kid and spent much of your time in sedentary pursuits that continue to this day. Or maybe you've only had fleeting periods of time in your life when you've been disciplined to exercise regularly and eat right. Here's the good news: no matter your history, tomorrow offers a new opportunity to develop consistency. It doesn't mean you have to exercise everyday, nor does it mean you have to perfectly follow a healthy diet. It simply means not giving up. Not letting more than two or three days pass without a workout. Not allowing a day of poor eating to turn into a week. It means making fitness a part of your life, no matter where you are, what you do or how old you are.
Ready to be consistent? Here are a few tips:
What does being "fit" mean to you? For me, being fit grants me the freedom to do the things that are important to me--playing with my kids, keeping up with my husband, facilitating positive change in clients through exercise and nutrition, setting a healthy example for those around me, and serving others.
I recently had the opportunity to serve at a very special event called Night To Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. It's a prom
My 8-year-old son, Magnus, regularly asks me, "What's your favorite?" questions. Recently, he queried, "Mom, what's your favorite sport?" My response: "I like a lot of sports, but my favorite is probably football, followed closely by basketball."
When we watch television at home, it's usually on a sports channel. The thing that bugs me about a lot of televised games is how late they're aired on the east coast. Take the NCAA national football championship, for example. The game starts at 8:30p, and likely won't end until past midnight. If the game is a blowout, I won't mind turning if off early. But if it's a tight game, I'll want to watch til the end, sacrificing much-needed beauty rest.
Beyond that, staying up past my regular bedtime might give me the munchies. While I'm expecting my substantial dinner of grass-fed beef burgers, sweet potato fries and organic green beans to tide me over until the morning, you fellow sports fans out there who ate a lesser meal might want to consider these late-night snack suggestions, offered by the co-founders of BioTrust Nutrition.
But isn't it bad to eat late at night, you may ask? Firstly, a calorie isn't worth more when the sun goes down. Secondly, "the right night-time meal can often positively affect your results and recovery from exercise by feeding your muscles with quality nutrition as you sleep," say Joel Marion and Josh Bezoni from BioTrust (The key here is the assumption that you exercised today! You did, right?!). "The trick, as always, is choosing the RIGHT foods before bed, and knowing which foods those are."
Here are the BioTrust guys' general "rules" to creating the ultimate pre-bed meal:
1. Avoid carbs and insulin. Because consuming carbohydrates will result in a significant insulin release (which will in turn put the breaks on fat-burning), carbs are ill-advised for a pre-bed meal. Carbs are also much more easily stored as fat in the evening hours when metabolism is naturally slowing in preparation for sleep. Besides, you have very little opportunity to burn off that energy when consuming carbs at night -- sleep isn't a very calorically expensive activity!
In addition to carbs, certain animal proteins have been shown to yield a significant insulin response as well, such as red meat and certain fish. While these protein foods are OK for a pre-bed meal, there are better choices, like those mentioned below.
2. Choose slow digesting proteins. Slow digesting proteins, like white meat proteins such as turkey and chicken, are great night-time meal choices as they digest slowly and fail to produce a significant insulin response.
Another great choice is the milk protein casein, found in many protein blends and also in cottage cheese. Casein coats the stomach, digests slowly, and provides quality nutrition to your muscles over several hours...very ideal as a pre-bedtime protein source!
3. Add fat. Quality, healthy fats such as nuts, oils, and nut butters are great additions to a pre-bedtime meal as they will help to further slow gastric emptying and digestion while increasing fullness and satiety so you don't wind up snacking all night long.
The guys add, "Just follow these 3 simple rules for night-time snacking (slow digesting protein, low carb, add fat) and you'll be in great shape...give it a try with an evening snack tonight!"
And finally, GO BUCKEYES!
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You know the trivial conversation that takes place at social events? Or the small talk that happens in passing, when people say they'll do something that you know will never happen? My dad calls that "cocktail talk." It's conversation with a smile, but is as empty as a carton of milk at my house. I'm not a fan of cocktail talk. In fact, I've avoided events because that kind of vapid conversation just saps my energy.
Beyond that, I'm not going to tell you something just because it sounds nice. For instance, I won't say that your baby is beautiful if s/he resembles Elmer Fudd. And I'll be the first to admit that neither of my boys would have won any beauty contests as infants. Heck, I had a 13-year-old French bulldog with only one eye who was just plain ugly. But what I will do is say something kind that is genuine, because telling you something that I don't really mean is, well, cocktail talk.
The topic of fitness seems to attract this sort of idle chit-chat. I can't tell you how many unsolicited conversations I've had with people who open up to me about their health struggles, pick my brain for fitness advice and try to convince me that they're going to start exercising tomorrow. I'm happy to share my knowledge with them and offer support, but it's difficult for me to consider the conversation anything more than space filler when they're downing a plate of chips and queso, Buckeye balls and chicken wings, and guzzling their third margarita.
But you know what engages me? What energizes me? What makes me want to jump on a bandwagon? People who actually DO what they say they'll do. People who are honest with where they are today, and are committed to getting where they want to be tomorrow, even if they're not quite sure how to get there. They'll do what it takes to turn thought into action, even if that means seeking help from others. My favorite clients have been the ones who simply showed up, because they said they would, because they made a commitment, because they believed in the process. Did they have occasional setbacks and bad days? You bet. But they didn't waste energy on small talk and excuses.
At the end of the day, the only cocktail talk that should really concern you is that which you're having with yourself. What superficial conversation with your alter ego is keeping you from a meaningful exchange? What area in your life are you letting swirl about, rather than pinning it down, chiseling it out and making something of it? What opportunity are you allowing to escape you because you're only giving it marginal attention? Determine what it is that you talk about doing, but have yet to do...and do it.
(PS: I still have space in the Fitness Is Freedom Results Club, which kicks off the week of January 12, 2015. This is a perfect place to end the cocktail talk and begin making the kind of healthy lifestyle changes that last. CLICK HERE for more info and to pre-register.)
1. Sprint in place with high knees for 20 secs. Recover 10 secs. Repeat for a total of 8 rounds or 4 minutes.
2. Hold a plank on your elbows and feet for as long as you can. Release when your form suffers (i.e, back arches, chest/shoulders collapse, knees drop, head lowers from neutral).
Need to pass the time while en route to your holiday destination? Want a quick diversion from shopping or wrapping presents? Need some bullet points to keep you on track over the break? Check out the following list that provides useful guidelines for general health. Note the number of minutes suggested to workout each week (hint: break it up into 30-minute increments).
Your Health: It's a Numbers Game (by Emily Bibb posted on http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Health-Numbers-Know-32173074#reactions)
While healthcare specifics vary by individual, having a general understanding established by doctors and research can help guide your daily choices for the better. Covering topics from diet to sleep, we've rounded up a few numbers you should strive for or, at the very least, consider. Some numbers are simply a reminder, while others may surprise you. Check out the complete list below.
Have you ever heard the quote, "You're known by the company you keep"? My mom said that to me regularly throughout my youth. It's a take on the verse found in Proverbs, "Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble."
She cautioned me to choose my friends carefully, knowing that they would have significant influence over me, and I over them. To avoid the "wrong crowd," I kept busy with church activities, school work and athletic pursuits, and was expected to abide by strict house rules and a rigid curfew. "Nothing good happens after midnight," Mom would say.
While I balked at such conservative parenting as a teen (but now model it as a parent!!), the idea that we reflect those with whom we spend time rings as true for me today as it did then.
I spend a fair amount of time on social media, and it struck me one day while perusing Facebook that a significant portion of my FB friends share my passion for fitness. Through their posts, I've been enlightened, inspired, educated, and even motivated to stop procrastinating and get up from my computer right then and there to go work out. Beyond that virtual community, my work in health clubs allows me to be surrounded by fitness enthusiasts nearly every day.
While not all of my friends share a love of health and wellness, the majority of the company I keep does--and it has made all the difference. I'm absolutely certain that the fitness community to which I belong has helped propel my career and kept me on track when I questioned what the heck I was doing, or if my efforts had value.
By nature, humans gravitate toward others like themselves. We have an innate desire to be a part of a group, a pack, a unit. So it makes sense that I would align myself with likeminded fitness folks. For those who desire to lose weight, get healthy and seek wellness, whom you align with will make or break your success.
There are many examples to prove this, but one in particular was a woman--we'll call her Beth--I coached a few years ago. Beth was eating right, losing weight and on the right track, yet she came to my office distraught. I asked her what was wrong, and the bottom line was this: her best friend, who was also overweight, felt threatened by Beth's success. The friend had nearly stopped speaking to Beth. Beyond that, Beth's larger circle of friends didn't embrace a healthy lifestyle either despite her invitations to the gym, so she was constantly pressured to eat poorly and skip exercising.
Beth knew she was doing the right thing for her health, but felt unsupported and lonely, and was contemplating abandoning her program. Here's the deal folks: it's easier for others to pull you down than it is for you to pull them up.
I'm a loyal sort, so I wasn't going to tell Beth to just ditch her friends, but I did tell her that it was time to make some new ones. If she was going to be successful at reaching her fitness goals, she had to surround herself with those who shared her mindset, and would provide encouragement, accountability and positivity. She did just that by increasing her time in the club, attending classes and taking advantage of social opportunities with them. This growth was at times a painful process for Beth, but her desire for self-improvement, for metamorphosis into her best self, meant shedding the old and embracing the new.
If you're someone who's working toward a goal for better health, yet your best buddies are always tempting you to try the latest fast food concoction, the new buffet on the corner, a doughnut when they see the 'Hot & Now' sign, or to ditch working out for happy hour, it's time to make some decisions. Will you allow that company to thwart your efforts to live a healthier life? Or will you seek a new circle of fitness friends who will help get you to your goal?
Do you own a t-shirt with a funny or inspiring phrase on it? Clothing has always been used as a form of expression, but over the last decade or so, our duds have become quite blatant. Text is now printed directly on the chest, back or sleeves of our garments, letting the world know exactly what we think. I'm a bottom-line kinda girl, so terse t-shirt text is up my alley.
I especially enjoy searching for uniquely scripted shirts for my husband. For him, I get thrifty, as in, I visit thrift stores. Who doesn't love sorting through the racks of t-shirts arranged by color, hoping to find a one-of-a-kind gem? Alright, maybe you don't, but I'm ok with working up a sweat digging through piles of used stuff. More calories burned! Anyway, some of my husband's favorite t-shirts include one that reads, "Grillin' & Chillin'-- Hicks Family Reunion" (we're not members of the Hicks family), another promoting the "U Suck Vacuum Cleaning Vocational School," and still another emblazoned with "Tough Actin' Tinactin" in large Stencil font. All of them reflect his sense of humor and appreciation for the absurd.
I, too, have a few scripted shirts that I wear when I work out, with decidedly motivational messages. They read, "Strong is the new skinny," and "Quitting is not an option." I feel extra tough when I wear that one.
During a recent trip to T.J. Maxx (where I intended to purchase four things and left with 12! Does that qualify me as a Maxxinista...or someone with a shopping problem?), I discovered a sleeveless, white shirt in the athletic clothing section that I just HAD to have. The tank featured a large, shiny gold heart made up of the following exercise and wellness words and phrases: motivation, sweat, go, swim, believe, live your best life, cycle, smile, achieve, challenge, run, laugh, determination, dance and dream. What an amazing compilation of words, scattered in the shape representing love, set in a blingy gold design!! Totally me, right?! When I meet people while wearing this shirt, I think I'll just state my name, then point to the heart-shaped collection of words on my chest and say, "Read this and know me."
Ok, so it doesn't represent everything about me--a few words could be swapped out for, "family," "faith," "sleep," "pizza," and "bulldogs," but it's mostly spot on. As I tried the shirt on again, considering the message it would send to those who read it, I began pondering this post's Thought of the Day:
If you could design a shirt that reflected your current level of or relationship with fitness, what would it say? Instead of a heart made up of positive words, would it be a big red "X" made up of words like , "overweight, tired, pre-diabetic, depressed, hungry, embarrassed, out of breath and hypertensive"? If the message on your shirt would be negative, perhaps because you haven't been successful at weight management or diet discipline, take a look at the words again on my new shirt. Pick your favorite, be it "believe," "cycle," "dance," "sweat," or another one that motivates you, and own that as your new t-shirt message for the next month. You may have noticed that nearly all of the words are verbs--they require action. How can you embody that word such that if it were written on your chest, others would believe it? Let me know the word you chose in "Comments" below, and how you plan to live it out over the next 30 days!
How often have you looked at a magazine and wished you had the body of the model gracing the cover--her long limbs, narrow torso and lighter-than-air presence? If you're an ectomorph, you likely share her figure. But if you're a mesomorph or endomorph, fuggetaboutit, turn the page and delve into an unrelated article, because that's not how you were (wonderfully!) made.
If you're now thinking, "Ecto- what? Endo- who?," allow me to explain.
In the 1940s, a PhD MD by the name of Willam H. Sheldon developed the idea of somatotypes, or human physical types. "People are born with an inherited body type based on skeletal frame and body composition." Generally speaking, the gist is that everyone falls into one of three body type categories: ectomorph--slim, linear type, mesomorph--muscular type, and endomorph--round, higher fat type.
Let's delve deeper into each somatotype, courtesy of directlyfitness.net, to learn common characteristics, male and female examples, training and dieting tips for each one.
The ECTOMORPH Body Type
Ectomorphs are often below the average weight for their height and have a skinny appearance. Ectomorphs tend to have very high metabolisms and often complain of relentless eating with little to no weight gain.
Common Ectomorph Characteristics Include:
Ectomorph Training Tips:
Ectomorph Dieting Tips:
The ENDOMORPH Body Type
The endomorphic body type is the complete opposite of an ectomorph. This individual will usually be larger in appearance with heavier fat accumulation and little muscle definition. They find it hard to drop weight even though they try several diets or workout programs.
Common Endomorph Characteristics Include:
Endomorphs Training Tips:
Endomorphs Dieting Tips:
The MESOMORPH Body Type
The mesomorph is somewhat in between the ectomorph and the endomorph and as such, displays qualities from both. This individual is capable of being both muscular and lean. S/he has a larger frame (bone structure) as the endomorph does, but a low body fat percentage as the ectomorph has. Bodybuilders possess this somatotype.
Common Mesomorph Characteristics Include:
Mesomorph Training Tips:
Mesomorph Dieting Tips:
Most people are a combination of types. You may be predominantly one of these, but recognize characteristics of another type. For instance, I'm an ecto-meso combo based on the characteristics outlined here.
So, which one(s) are you? Once you've identified your dominant somatotype, embrace it, and adopt training, diet and lifestyle habits that allow you to be the healthiest ecto, endo or meso you can be!
Sources: http://www.uh.edu/fitness/comm_educators/3_somatotypesNEW.htm; http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/553976/somatotype; http://www.directlyfitness.com/store/3-body-types-explained-ectomorph-mesomorph-endomorph/
I want to be a ninja. Not in the violent, mercenary sort of way, but in the "excels in a particular skill or activity" kind of way. And I want to be a ninja in EVERYTHING--fitness, parenting, housekeeping, cooking, you name it. The reality is, I'm not even close. In fact, I consider myself your run-of-the-mill generalist: good at lots of things, but great at very few things.
Here's the deal with becoming a ninja--it takes practice. Excelling in something--anything--requires daily, disciplined, planned repetition of the action you wish to command. And if I am committed to be a ninja, I should read books about them, such as, 'How to Become a Ninja in 90 Days,' 'The Ninja's Diet Guide,' 'How to Live Like a Ninja,' 'The Ninja Exercise Plan,' 'The Ninja Dress Code,' etc. (No, these aren't real books.) I would also want to investigate where ninjas hang out (dark alleys? roof tops? libraries?), then assimilate with them. Perhaps I could develop a ninja mentor to guide me through this process. My very best chance at becoming a true ninja is to embrace it as a lifestyle. To fully immerse myself in it so that it becomes second nature.
Now, since becoming a ninja is my dream, what's yours? Re-read the paragraph above, substituting your goal with the word 'ninja'. If that's to be a stronger, fitter, healthier, happier version of yourself (an awesome goal for anyone!), the same rules apply. Determine your goal, commit to it, make small, steady strides daily toward it, educate yourself about it, surround yourself with people who share your goal, and ask for help from experts who can get you to your goal faster.
Well, what are you waiting for?
1. Squat (as deep as you can) with alternating front kicks 10x (5/side)
2. Mountain climbers, any style 20x (10/side)
Repeat 3-5 times!
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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.