How Do I Stay Motivated to Eat Healthy and Exercise?

Since becoming a personal trainer, I hear this from many of my clients: “I know what I changeblvdshould do.  I know what I should eat.  I know that I should exercise regularly but I just don’t do it.  I don’t know how to stay motivated.”  When it comes right down to it YOU are the only one who can make the choices for a healthier lifestyle.  The trick is to take the “willing mind” and turn those thoughts into actions.

First and foremost, if you are eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle you will not be able to change overnight.  If you think about it, you probably got to that point gradually (perhaps over a number of years) and you won’t go the other way in a heartbeat.

  1. Pick your one most unhealthy habit.  Maybe you drink soda at every meal. Work on changing that habit gradually.  Should you pick a “give up soda” day and quit cold turkey?  NO!  You will probably feel deprived, give up in a few days, beat yourself up for failing and not try it again for months.  Instead, pick the meal that you could most easily swap out a soda for a glass of water, and then do it.  Don’t change anything else about your diet until you start noticing results from that action.  Now, swap another soda for water and repeat. Write down what results you are seeing (more energy, a small loss on the scale, better sleep). Refer to this list if you start to waver.
  2. Add some exercise.  If you are a total couch potato, are you going to go to boot camp?  Again, NO.  Add some light exercise.  Fifteen minutes each day is fine. Walking is fine.  The important thing is to set that time aside and DO IT. When it starts feeling easier and when you start seeing benefits, add a little bit more.
  3. If you mess up, that’s all it is.  The next day you get a clean slate and you get back to business.  It is not time to give up and go back to the “old you”.
  4. Get someone else to hold you accountable.  Tell them what your goal is and ask them to check in with you at regular intervals. It’s a lot harder to blow off your workout and eat six donuts if you know you will have to tell your accountability buddy it happened.
  5. Try something new.  It’s always fun to try something different and it can keep you motivated.  Find a cookbook full of healthy recipes.  Cooking Light’s Complete Meals in Minutes is a great place to start.  Ever tried Yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, kayaking or circuit training?  The list could go on and on.  Sign up for a class or find a good DVD.  Just remember to build up to this kind of exercise (see #2)
  6. Make it social. Share your experiences (both successes and setbacks) with others.  Find a workout partner, post about your journey on Facebook or on your blog, start or join a support group, take some healthy meal prep lessons.  There’s nothing better than getting healthier except making new friends while you get there.
  7. Challenge yourself.  You may not think you will be able to ever do a push-up from your toes or run a whole mile, but if you take it one step at a time you CAN! When I did 90 days of P90X the thing that motivated me the most was seeing my ever increasing number of repetitions on my chart as the days went on.  Check out challengeloop.com to find a challenge that will keep you going!

Research shows that if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. If you trade that ONE soda for a glass of water and continue for 30 days, you will soon wonder why you ever wanted a soda. Before you know it, you won’t want any other beverage but water and all that soda and extra calories will be a distant memory.

Now I will challenge you! Post the one unhealthy habit you would like to change here. What is your plan is to change it?  Tell me.  Putting your goal and your plan in writing makes it real and that’s motivating too!

Bored With Your Current Workout?

I get bored..it happens.  I find a really great workout and I really get into it, but eventually I get bored, so I always have my eye out for new and different things to do when it comes to fitness.  I think the latest thing I ran across was supposed to be sort of a joke.  I think it’s a guy who just wanted to get a lot of hits on YouTube. Turns out it is a lot of fun and a great way to get a workout.  It’s called dancewalking.  Take a look at this video and then give it a try.

 

I have dancewalked twice on a trail near my house.  It’s a little embarrassing dancing around by yourself to music no one else can hear.  I waited until I was on the more wooded part of the trail where no one could see me until I got really funky.

The other thing I would like to try soon is PiYo.  There is a class available near me at TAZ fitness.  I am going to get myself there to try it. If I like it, I am going to get the new ChaLean Johnson PiYo program.

So how about you? What new workout program have you tried that might keep me from getting bored? Send me some ideas.  If I try them, I’ll give you a shout out and link to your blog.

Is a Personal Trainer Right for You?

So you are committed to getting into shape, losing some weight and doing a better job with your nutrition.  So what’s your next step?  Have you considered hiring a personal trainer? If you are serious, a personal trainer is a good idea, at least for a period of time.  Here’s why:

bit timer

  1. Accountability– An appointment with a trainer makes it a lot harder to bag your workout.  If you want to cancel, now you have to take action instead of just driving by the gym and hitting the sofa.
  2. Proper Form– A trainer will spend time making sure you do exercises correctly.  This will help avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.
  3. A One on One Consultation– Your trainer will sit down with you before you begin to find out what your goals are.  Do you want to lose weight?  Are you training for an upcoming 5K?  Trying to improve your upper body strength? Want to stay healthy as you age? The goals you have will determine what kind of a program the trainer will develop for you.
  4. A Movement Screening– Trainers can screen you to find muscles that are tight or unusually lengthened and plan workouts to improve this.  If you are someone who works at a desk all day, this screening can be crucial. Trainers can plan workouts to open up tight hip flexers and shoulders that hunch over computer screens for hours on end.
  5. A Customized Workout– Your trainer will plan a workout that meets your needs according to the goals you have and the results of your movement screening.  He/she will help your fitness level progress at the right pace.
  6. Feedback and Encouragement– It’s great to have someone at your side that knows your goals and your stumbling blocks. Your trainer will encourage you when you are struggling and will be the first to celebrate with you when you accomplish your goals.

If you are the type of person who finds it hard to stay motivated, a personal trainer may be just what you are looking for to help you turn the corner in your fitness journey.

 

Unusual Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

If your are someone who needs to keep your blood pressure in check, here are two unusual ways to help lower your numbers.

1.  Volunteer! You can decrease your risk of hypertension by up to 40% by volunteering for a cause about which you feel strongly. Studies showed that older adults who volunteered in ANY type of activity for at least 200 hours per year decreased the risk of hypertension.

Why? Older adults have fewer chances for social interaction because of their life circumstances. Volunteering within the community provides them with social connections they may not otherwise have.  The more connected we are to each other the healthier we stay.  Who would have thought that doing good for others would be so good for your health?

2. Practice Yoga  Studies showed that practicing yoga at least three times per week lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of three points.

Why? No specifics were given in the study, but breath work and a focusing of the mind were some possible reasons why yoga affected blood pressure in this way.

 

Do You Really Need a Detox Diet?

There has been a lot of buzz in recent years about detox diets. Usually they look something like this..very low calorie, a meal replacement drink or juicing, maybe some kind of cleanse, and supplements.  The big question is do they really work?

There are lots of opinions on them, but according to medical doctors nutritionists and registered dietitians, there is no hard and fast evidence that they work.

1. Extreme limited calorie detox diets can be harmful if they cause you to lose muscle mass, lower your blood sugar too much or create an electrolyte imbalance.

2. Your liver is the organ in charge of detoxifying your body.  It is designed to be self cleaning.  Your job is to feed your body healthy food on a regular basis so your liver can do its job.

3. Doing a  detox diet can trick people into thinking it’s okay to go back to an unhealthy diet once they have “detoxed”.  Concentrate on eating a healthy diet year round.

Here’s are some more common sense ways to detox:

Drink more water, drink less alcohol, stop smoking, eat more plants, eat less animal based food, eat less processed food, and last but not least..exercise!

What is your opinion on detox diets? Post your thoughts.

info condensed from IDEA Fitness Journal, October 2013

 

Fitbit Flex Review

I do love my technology when I can use it in my workouts.  I got my Fitbit in the beginning of September.  I wanted a way to keep track of how many steps I walk at work each day.  I was pretty sure I was walking A LOT.  I thought about buying a plain old pedometer, but then I thought, why not just step it up a little and get a Fitbit Flex?

I was never really interested in Fitbit when it was a clip for your clothing.  I knew I would wash it or lose it.  When they came out with the bracelet I knew I could keep track of that a little better.

I am not going to do the glowing review here.  I will try to give you the pros and cons on price, ease of operation, comfort etc.

Price:  At $99.00 Fitbit Flex is a little pricey.  You do get a lot of features for your money, though.  Previously, I was using Lose It, which is a free app to keep track of calories burned and calories consumed.  The deciding factor for me after doing my research was I could import my Lose It stats into Fitbit Flex.  After purchase, I realized the import feature was a premium feature (I would have to pay a fee to be able to import Lose It data to Fitbit Flex).   I also found out that if I had bought my Fitbit Flex from Verizon, I could have gotten a 25% teacher discount through PSEA.  Bummer.

Features: Fitbit Flex keeps track of your steps, miles you walk, number of “active” minutes, calories burned, amount of sleep you get each night, calories eaten, and amount of water you drink.  Steps, miles, calories burned and sleep are recorded automatically through the Fitbit  You wear it inside a bracelet on your wrist. You must input your calories eaten and water intake on your computer or your mobile device. The data base of food is not as nice as the one I was using on Lose It.  And there is no bar code scan (which is a great feature on Lose It) The data base does have lots of foods in it and you can find almost anything you need to input.  If you take part in other physical activities that won’t be recorded correctly by wrist movement, you can  input those as well. When you set up your features, you choose one as your goal.  I chose calories burned and decided my goal would be 1500 each day.  When you reach your goal, your FBF vibrates and you can celebrate!

My Fav Features:

The sleep tracker.  It subtracts minutes you were awake or restless through the night.  I know that I have been more aware of my sleep habits and have made an effort to get to bed earlier on weeknights because of my results.  The bad thing is you have to remember to put your Fitbit Flex in sleep mode.  Sometimes I forget, and sometimes I forget to take it out of sleep mode in the morning.

The Silent Alarm:  Vibrates to wake you up in the morning. Doesn’t bug anyone else.

See your calories expended in real time:  That way you can gauge how many calories you should take in throughout the day.  This was a BIG help when I broke my foot recently and was a lot less active during the day.

Ease of Operation:  This is a big plus.  My husband (an I.T. guy) and I always joke about the fact that there is no such thing as “plug and play”.  My Fitbit Flex came pretty close.  I was able to set it up and get it working all by myself.  That NEVER happens. I always need help from Computer Bob with my technology toys, but not this time. Just remember to set it up on your computer first, then on your mobile device.  I did this backwards and it took a little longer, but I was still able to do it on my own.

Comfort:  Wearing a plastic/rubber bracelet all day and night took some getting use to for me.  I do not shower with it on, although the directions say you can.  The research I did said the display fogs up from the water at times.  I figured I wouldn’t be missing too much calorie burn in the shower. When I am not going to be too active, I will take it off, because I just get sick of it after awhile.

So..bottom line.  I am sticking with the Fitbit Flex way better than I stuck with Lose It. I didn’t gain any weight while my foot was broken and keeping track of calories in and out is more like a game and less like a pain in the tukis.

Do you have a FitBit Flex?  What do you think of yours?

 

Strength Training for Quality of Life

 

This week’s post was going to be a review of my new Fitbit Flex, but something else has has become a priority in my brain these days.  I am officially a member of the sandwich generation.  You know, we’re the ones who have been taking care of children and now need to take care of aging parents as well. Over the last five years, my mother-in-law has been facing declining health.  It’s been due largely to osteoporosis.  She has fallen three times in the last five years.  In those falls, she has broken each humerus and her pelvis (twice).

Right now she is in a nursing home working hard to get better so she can come home from her latest fall.  Her days are filled with physical therapy, doctor’s appointments and pain.

According to the National Osteoporosis foundation, 60% of adults age 50 and over are at risk of breaking a bone due to osteoporosis.  Preventing this quality of life robbing disease includes eating foods (or taking supplements) that contain Calcium and Vitamin D as well as Magnesium, Potassium, and vitamins C and K.

Exercise is REALLY important too.  You need three types to keep your bones working like they should. You need weight bearing exercises, strength training, and balance, posture and functional exercises.

Weight bearing exercises are what we usually think of as aerobic exercise.  Running, dancing, hiking and tennis are just a few examples.  Strength training is exercise performed with resistance.  Body weight exercises, free weights, weight machines, resistance bands all are used to strength train. Balance and posture exercises will help with preventing falls. Functional exercises are designed to mimic movements you need for activities of daily living. Having more strength, stamina and balance during ADL will prevent falls that lead to broken bones.

People (especially women), the time to make these adjustments to your lifestyle is NOW. Don’t wait.  Many times the first symptom of osteoporosis is a broken bone.  By then, it may be too late to keep this disease from stealing your quality of life.

 

Couch to 5K Guest Posts

 

My daughter, Marla, just graduated from college.  She has a cool new job at Community Elf and she just got engaged.  She’s decided she wants to get back to regular exercise. She ran cross country and track in high school so when she found the couch to 5k program online she decided to give it a try.

She will be guest blogging her experience each week right here.  If you are thinking about trying the Couch to 5k program, check in here starting next week to see how it’s going.

 

Fitness for Health-Conscious Travelers

Welcome Mike Manning, guest poster!  Mike has written some great tips for those of us who are travelling and don’t want to throw our exercise routine out the (airplane) window. Lame joke, I know. He recommends doing some research to plan ahead for your workouts. The internet can make it easy and fun to plan your next trip with fitness in mind.

 

Fitness for Health-Conscious Travelers

People travel for many different reasons and in several different ways. Whether your travels are for business or pleasure, you may find that the stress of changing schedules and unfamiliar surroundings make getting enough exercise difficult. Even if you exercise regularly at home, staying fit during your travels requires a little planning and awareness.

Learn about your destination before you leave. You might be able to select your own accommodations, and if so, you can book at a hotel that provides fitness amenities that suit your lifestyle. On my most recent trip to California, I researched my hotel beforehand. I found a list of the top San Francisco hotels on a travel review site. I was able to choose a hotel based on amenities. I chose a hotel that had a 24-hour fitness facility so that I could get a workout in at any time of day.

In other circumstances, you might be required to stay at facilities reserved by your company or another party. Either way, learning about the area will help. If you belong to a fitness organization, find out if a nearby gym is available for you to use during your stay. If you enjoy running or walking, learn about local trails or tracks that you might be able to use. Some hotels actually have such amenities on their property for the use of guests.

During your flight or drive to your destination, be sure to stretch and do a few simple exercises in you chair. This will help eliminate stiffness; pain and swelling that can be associated with sitting in a cramped space for extended periods of time.

During layovers or breaks, take time to walk around. Some airports now provide Zen rooms or walking paths for travelers to use.

At your hotel, locate the fitness facilities and learn about amenities such as in-room yoga or aerobic videos that you can use. Before engaging in any activities, take the time to go to your room and stretch or move through a few basic yoga poses to become centered in your new surroundings.

Throughout your stay, be realistic about your fitness goals. You probably won’t be able to keep up the exercise regime that you do at home, but you will be able to spend some time exercising each day. If possible, get up a little early to spend time running, doing yoga or participating in a fitness class at the hotel’s fitness center. If you have a demanding schedule, take advantage of breaks to get your blood flowing. Even five minutes is long enough to stretch and do a few crunches, pushups or leg lifts in a restroom or other secluded area.

 

 

9 Weight Loss Tips for Regular Folks

 

 

 

 

Are you like Jared?  Did you go on an all Subway diet and lose a ton of weight?  Are you like the biggest loser contestants who spend weeks at “the ranch” with nasty personal trainers, medical supervision and all day exercise?  Maybe you have special food delivered to your door every day that is perfectly balanced in calories for scientific weight loss.  No?  Didn’t think so..  not me either.

I’m not even like the Beachbody success stories who pick a workout program and 90 days later have gone from fat and flabby to ripped.  Throughout my adult life, I have been about the same size  (give or take 10 to 15 pounds).  At certain times in my life, I find myself needing to lose a few pounds. I’m guessing maybe there are more people like me out there. I am never going to win one of those contests or be on TV because I have always tried to eat healthy, exercise and live a balanced life.

Before 2003

If you are one of those people (or would like to be one), I’ll share what I do to maintain my weight and lose it when I need to.  My rule of thumb is “take care of little problems before they become big problems.”

1.  Weigh yourself frequently.  You don’t have to be obsessive about it.  Pick one day each week and weigh yourself.  Have a ten pound window, five pounds below and five pounds above your ideal weight.  If your weight is outside the window on              either end, it’s time for you to get to work..

2.  I use Lose It to keep track of calories and exercise.  I try to keep calories in and calories out balanced.  It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle.

3.  I eat three meals a day and two or three snacks a day.  I eat very little bread, pasta, or wheat based foods.  I mainly eat lean meats along with fresh or frozen fruits and veggies.  I’m not a fanatic about “no wheat” or “no grain” in my diet, but I try to keep it to a minimum.

4.  You will hardly ever find me in McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King or Starbucks.  You will seldom find me in the middle isles of the grocery store. Processed foods are not really foods to me.  They are full of all the things you should avoid.  You won’t find me buying lunch in the cafeteria of the school where I teach, but that’s another story…

5.  I almost always drink water.  I have a water bottle with me at work each day and I carry one to my workouts.  I will drink ice tea or hot tea. I can’t remember the last time I had a soda. If I want one (or a piece of cake, or a cookie etc., etc.) I will have it, but it’s a treat, not an everyday habit.

6.  I work out at least six days a week.  Two or three days of weight training and two or three days of cardio. On these days, I get my heart rate up and work up a good sweat. The other days are lighter workouts or “recreational” workouts.  These are things like yoga or stretching, a walk or a hike in the woods, a bike ride or ballroom dancing.  This is a habit and a regular part of every day.  If I am not feeling well, injured, or I am too busy to work out, I skip it, but it’s not ever an excuse to quit.  I just pick it up where I left off the next day.

7. I try to get a good night’s sleep every night.  I don’t always get the seven hours my body needs per night, but I try.  On weeknights I head to bed a 10:30 p.m. On the weekends I try to be there by 11:30 p.m.

After 2012

8.  I try to meditate at least once a week, read books of a religious or spiritual nature and try to stay centered mentally and spiritually.  I also try to balance work, workouts and fun time with family and friends. If one area gets out of  balance, it can throw the other areas out of balance as well.

9.  I am lucky that I don’t have to take any kinds of medications.  Because of this, I focus my energies on preventative medicine.  I eat good, nutritious food, I exercise regularly, I stay strong mentally, spiritually and socially, I see my chiropractor every four weeks and I get bloodwork, mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventative screenings.  Hopefully, I won’t have to start any long term medicines anytime soon!

There is no magic pill, there is no perfect diet or workout that brings you instant weight loss or instant health.  It’s small lifestyle changes added together and continued over time that will bring fitness that will last a lifetime.

Want to get started? Try at least one of the nine steps above, just one, over at least a four week period and see what happens.  Reply here and let me know how it goes!