Monthly Archives: November 2015

Leg and AB day workout for you

It is a sunny November here in California and it feels good. The crisp in the air, cooler nights, and still a whole lot of sunshine, makes me a happy girl. Simple changes like the weather are refreshing for me. They give me new perspectives and new energy.

I tend to feel this way about my workouts too. While weight lifting is my tried and true, I can find so much variety in it, and I am not even talking exercise selection.

I tend to stay pretty true to solid, functional lifts, that are not too complicated. Squats, deadlifts, planks, lunges, pull ups, and presses are my go to.  However I have more variety in how I train and pair those exercises together. They range from metabolic conditioning style workouts to supersets to pure strength.

Lately I am going back to a bodybuilding split. I can just hear all the CrossFitters and functional gurus cringing, but I am a firm believer every program has it’s purpose.

I like the pump I get in my muscles. I like the simplicity of focusing on one or two body parts for the day. I like the rest my legs get when it is not leg day. Variety comes in many forms and this is one way I keep things fresh.

And today I got you covered with a super simple lower body and ab workout. The exercise links, reps and sets are included below.

 

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Complete exercise A for 12 reps and then exercise B for 12 reps, super set style, for 3 sets total.

3×12

A)  Goblet Squat

B)Plank with Rotation

A) Walking Lunges

B) Knee Swing Plank

A)Banded Hip Bridges

B) Rest

A) Banded Side Steps

B) Bench Side Steps

Candied Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are my favorite veggie this year and I am so glad I finally gave them a chance after years of never liking them. The only way I tried them previously was steamed and plain.

Roasting them is my favorite way to prepare them and with this mix of balsamic and dijon, I thought it would be a perfect pair of flavors as we head into the holiday season.

Brussels are high in vitamin C and K and are a good source of fiber, potassium and B vitamins as well.

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Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bag of shredded Brussel spouts (or 2 pounds of fresh Brussel sprouts halved)
  • 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place Brussel sprouts in a large bowl. Add balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil and mix together so it coats well. Season with pepper and salt.
  3. On the baking sheet distribute evenly. Roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, if desired.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

7 great exercises for fat loss


Today I want to talk about my favorite exercises for fat loss or just maintaining a strong, healthy, lean body. The idea these days is to get the most out of your workout in less time.

In order to see maximal results in less amount of time you need to recruit as many muscles as possible and focus on your new favorite word, intensity.

Intensity is one of the best ways to adjust your workouts without adding time. You shouldn’t be able to or want to have a conversation with the person next to you during your sets. You shouldn’t want to read a book while using a piece of cardio equipment. You should be all out focused on your body and what it is doing and not much else. At least for that set.

Also choose exercises that work more muscles through multiple joints. For example bicep curls and tricep presses are going to involve less muscle recruitment than the exercises I am going to share with you today. 

You may want to tighten up your body but you can’t tone muscles you don’t have, so focus on weight training, intensity, and of course consistency. Start by choosing a weight that feels challenging by 10-12 reps or in some cases just use no additional weight.

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These days my sprint at the track for interval training is more of a fast jog, but it does the trick!

Thruster – Full body movement

What an exercise to start off with! The what? This is essentially a front squat to an overhead press. So instead of just working the triceps or biceps you work the quads, core, shoulders, etc.

This exercises gets the heart pumping and the entire body engaged.

Deadlift – Full body

This is not only a superior booty exercise, it sneaks in amazing core work and is highly functional as it imitates picking something up off the floor. It works the entire backside of the body including the glutes, hamstrings, lats and back. You can use dumbbells, barbells, and kettlbells. This is also a great exercise for grip strength.

Lunges

We need single leg movement (stability and mobility) and we need it bad. Lunges allow hip flexion and extension at the same time and are great for balance, stability and strength.  Add some dumbbells or a barbell and you have yourself another heart pumping exercise.

Pull ups & push ups

What fantastic exercise that requires only your body weight, though for most of us this is not doable or extremely challenging. For pull ups start with a band or an assisted pull up machine. It is definitely humbling to try to do a pull up when you start to pull the body and it just doesn’t move. You can also start by just hanging from the bar for 20 seconds, keeping the core tight and the shoulders pulled back. Also a great exercise for grip strength.

For push ups start from your knees or you an incline such as a bench, a Smith machine, a TRX, or even a counter top to maintain a full push up position until you start to build more strength.

Interval Training.

On a piece of cardio equipment, sprinting outside, or using a jumprope you will execute high effort for a short amount of time, think 20-30 seconds and then rest. My favorite way to do this is set a clock for 10 minutes. Go hard for 20 seconds and then when you feel mostly recovered to go again, I go. I like this better than just setting a time and working 20 and resting for 40 or something like that. For this time in my life I want to feel slightly recovered before I go hard. Plus 10 minutes doesn’t feel too overwhelming.

Remember, intensity is different for everyone. Intensity for some might be a sprint while for others it is a jog or incline walk. Start at your level and progress slowly.

Walking.

Walking has two major benefit besides the fact that you are simply moving. It can help reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels and has little to no compensatory affect on your appetite.  Most exercise will make you hungrier so it is no surprise most people overeat when trying to workout more and more. Get outside, spend time with your family, and enjoy your body moving.

how to be good, when you can’t be perfect


Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

I first heard this quote by author, speaker and self compassion guru, Brene Brown and I was so taken aback by the of truth that blares out of this statement. The truth that we often ignore. The need to throw all good efforts out the window if perfection cannot be attained.

It has a lot to do with our own sense of “not good enough-ness.” I once had someone tell me we all feel not good enough. And when we get upset, angry, frustrated with someone remember that they are acting out of their insecurities just like I would act out from own insecurities. Because we all, in some sense, feel not good enough in our own way.

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Not feeling good enough can cause us to disguise our imperfections, in attempted perfectionism.

For most of my life I would never, ever call myself a perfectionist because a perfectionist is someone who just wants everything to be to just right, who takes the time to make things look beautiful, and is never satisfied. I mean, I have sloppy handwriting, I do not care about the presentation of my food and I often go out and about in my sweatshirt because I really could care less, as long as I’m comfy.

So when I was told I had to let go of this perfectionism thing, I said, “Please, do you know who you are talking to?”  In my attempts to deny this nonsense, I realized that I DO have an overwhelming concern to do everything “right” and spend my days comparing, about why everything in my life, including myself, is not good enough. Ah perfectionism at its finest.  

Perfection does not represent happiness.

The trap comes when we associate doing every thing right, (being perfect) with automatically bringing happiness and joy into our lives. And when we do things wrong, (when we are not perfect, act perfect, or look perfect) it represents that we are not worthy.  “Perfect” does not guarantee pain free living. We use perfection for approval and acceptance, for someone else to tell us that we are ok. Ironically the only way you will ever truly feel ok is if YOU accept yourself, imperfections and all. No one is immune to perfectionism and we all experience it on some level.

The way we can overcome perfectionism and its association with all things good and wonderful, is to practice a little self compassion for ourselves and a little gratitude for what we have. When we realize that perfectionism (a perfect house, perfect eating, a perfect wardrobe, a perfect life) is just a cover for what we are shameful of (inadequacy, a lack of money, a lack of confidence in appearance, embarrassed about our bodies), we can learn to be more accepting of our lives, ourselves and those around us.

Can you see here how practicing gratitude (abundance) is loving yourself and acknowledging that you are doing the best you can, rather than focusing on lack?

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Another issue with perfectionism is that it IS a perception. We see others and think they are living the perfect life all simply by what we choose to see and interpret what it represents.  It usually happens a little like this. You are going about your day, maybe just completing an intense workout, dressed super cute or gave a bad ass presentation in your field of work. And then it happens. You compare yourself to your friend who had a “better” workout, the family with the gorgeous house, the person with the successful presentation, or the attractive women. You let it take away your joy.

Believe me, I struggle with this all the time. I compare myself all the time. Whether it is to the perfect body, the perfectly dressed, the highly successful, or the perfect way of eating, working out, living. Somehow this interprets being enough in my head. No wonder I am stressed and anxiety ridden. Sometimes you can be the juiciest peach of the bunch and and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches. Get what I am saying?

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How to be good, when you can’t be perfect.

I realized I had somehow trained myself to ignore my strengths and progress I am making in life, and have chosen to focus on my weaknesses and shortcomings.

You know what?

The woman with the perfect body, she has her struggles too.

The effortlessly matched fashionista, may not view life as effortless. 

The successful business person, they have challenges too.

I keep the practice of reminding myself that other people being successful does not mean that I am not. I can only control what I do each and every day and cannot completely control the outcome. Life does not fold out to the plan we have in our heads. Life does not unfold without challenges, struggles and hardships. When we accept that into our lives, we can stop trying to control everything around us and can still keep doing what we are doing to be good, without having to feel perfect. My own standards are some made up ideal I have in my head and when I let that consume my thoughts, it makes me feel inadequate.  If I choose to keep the focus on my own progress I can see just how far I have come.

Deep down I know everyone has their own challenges and burdens. We all feel inadequate in our own ways. The struggle is to not let our self proclaimed inadequacy rob our happiness and self love.   We must realize that how our bodies are shaped, how our clothes look, whether our dinners look like they do on Pinterest, or how much money we make, does not define our worth or value. We are not only successful when we reach our goals, but have little success along that way that should be celebrated each and everyday.  It is possible to have ambition and feel blessed with the life you have at the same time. 

Tip and Tools to keep my perspective in check:

When I feel myself getting down about not being a certain way or meeting a certain standard, I ask myself.

Did I wake up with a roof over my head and food in my tummy?

Am I am healthy and able bodied?

Do I have friends and family in my life who love me?

Do I make time for activities in life that I truly enjoy?

I tell myself.

Love yourself.

Trust yourself.

Don’t be afraid to fail and do things differently. 

Be patient with yourself.

You are enough.

Do not let goals define your worth.

When we have perfectionistic tendencies we have a difficult time with gratitude because we are always striving for the next best thing. It is not about the destination, it is about the journey.  It is about the journey and the ups and downs that come along with it. When we start to think about our lives in this way, we can expect that things will not always work in a smooth, straight predictable line and that is ok. As much suffering and pain we experience in life, it is also full of goodness, meaning and beauty. Who we are is enough. If it truly does not matter, let it slide.

#GetGrateful Task

Write down 5 activities in life you truly enjoy and make you feel alive and wonderful. Next write down 5 quirks about yourself. Things that people seem to know you for. Things that make you, YOU! Repeat them out loud and love them!

Two easy ways to spice up your meals with Franks Red Hot Sauce

I am not even going to write this recipe blog post out in normal fashion because these two recipe suggestions are beyond simple.

And simple my friends, is the way I do things. Especially when it comes to food. You see, as much as I enjoy eating healthy, I am just not a foodie. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking, I don’t enjoy washing dishes and doing all the prepping, cleaning and buying tons of ingredients.  Occasionally I get the cooking bug or urge to try a new recipe but the most part less cooking, less ingredients and less time on meals is my way to go.

Onto the recipes. Franks Red Hot is not your typical health food and is quite high in sodium, just to give you a heads up, but when used sparingly I love the kick it gives my food. Here are two ways I use it.

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Franks Red Hot Dressing

I mix a spoonful of plain greek yogurt and a few drops of hot sauce in a bowl and mix them together thoroughly. I then use it as a dressing for chicken salad, tossing thoroughly. I usually have some sort of spinach, cilantro, green onion mix maybe with some peppers, avocado and even a little rice if I want to make it my whole meal.

This can also make for a yummy vegetable dip.

Chicken and Rice Red Hot

I make this in a crockpot and usually include a cup of brown rice, 2.5 cups of water, and 3-4 chicken breasts. I add the rice and water first and then 1/3 cup of Franks Red Hot, mix it together, then add the chicken on top and drizzle a little more sauce to my liking. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8, and you are done.

The sauce add just enough flavor to keep the meal from being too plain but not so much that it feels overwhelming.

Keep it simple. Keep it tasty.

how to make negative emotions work for you, not against you

IMG_8419Do you have a certain piece of advice that your mom, or anyone really, has given you that just stands out in your head?

Growing up, my sisters and I use to give my mom a hard time because her two most common pieces of advice were:

1) Soak it (story for another blog ) and

2) Put it in perspective.

I remember coming home from shopping trip mad because I didn’t get the shirt I wanted, was annoyed by my sister, or complained if I had to eat peas at dinner. My mom would always respond by telling me to put it in perspective. Even at a young age, it was really easy to understand, and really hard and frustrating to argue because I knew she was right. To have food, clothes and love in abundance was a luxury that some did not have. That is where my perspective mindset began.

I learned how to turn my perspective on a situation and realize that it is I alone who has the choice to decide how to view the situation. It is ok to have negative emotions but feel them and move on as quickly as possible.

Own your feelings and you have the power.

When you feel frustrated, sad, lonely and upset remember it is your choice. As harsh as this may sound, it really is in your control to decide how you want to feel regardless of the circumstances. It is not easy in any sense to snap out of a mood but don’t deny your mood either.  Feel what you want to feel and move on as quickly as possible. One tool that helps me move on is, you guessed it, to put things in perspective.  It lessens the load of misery and sadness and is a gradual shift that is not always seen or felt right away, but it does work.

It is how you view life around you. You have the choice to change, not the situation, but how you are viewing it.

Ask yourself:

Can I see this from some else’s point of view?

What do I have to be grateful for in this moment?

How can I make this situation work for me, instead of against me?

I know this stuff is tough and takes practice. It is something I still am working on but it does become easier and require less conscious effort as you practice it.

Taking responsibility to be less miserable.

Sometimes when we first begin practicing gratitude, we do it just so we can be happier. It is a simple concept that if we just say we are grateful everything will be better. Yet having an attitude of gratitude does not always translate to behavior. This often happens when we continue to victimize ourselves in our own life, that everything around us is happening to us and we get in the mode of feeling sorry for ourselves. Less gratitude, more blame placed on others and less responsibility on our own selves.

As ironic of an idea as it is, I see why we go into this victim mode and place the blame on everyone or everything around us. It kind of makes us feel better right? I know I have done this before. If I was not at fault and gave up responsibility it meant less work for me. I would get to sit back and play out other reasons why things were not my fault and therefore I would not have to do the work to fix them. 

When I learned to switch my perspective, I realized I could be less miserable simply by reframing my thoughts and it would actually give me more power, love and understanding in life.

Try this perspective shift.

 

“This always happens to me…”

“So and so is not doing their job and I have to do all the work….”

“I can’t eat healthy because of all the social gatherings this month…”

“I am so busy and never have time to exercise..”

When I learned to flip these situations around the shift in mindset is undeniable. 

“What lesson can I learn from this situation?”

“I will focus on doing the best job I can and not worry about anyone else.”

“I am so lucky to have the choice about what I am able to eat.”

“Where can I find time and how can I prioritize exercise?”

#GetGrateful Task

Write down 4 statements that you feel is someone else’s fault. Rewrite those 4 statements in way that gives you the power to either do something about it or see it from someone else’s perspective.

You have the choice to be upset, angry or frustrated. But acknowledge that it is a choice. It is not someone else’s, it is not someone else doing you wrong or making your life miserable, even when others may truly be harsh or at fault. It really and truly is all in your power.

The breakfast I eat almost every single morning

I am pretty sure I have this for breakfast a solid 200 days a year and that is my protein packed oatmeal which is essentially egg whites cooked in oatmeal.  I call it Egg White Oatmeal.

I know it sounds a little odd but this is the quickest breakfast ever and keeps me full for hours. It actually makes the oatmeal a little thicker and fluffier and you can’t even tell the difference. Plus there are so many options for toppings you can get creative and pair it with your favorite things!

I must add that protein at most of my meals and snacks in one thing that helps manage my appetite and keeps me feeling satisfied. I rarely, if ever, eat oatmeal by itself.

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Egg White Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of egg whites (I use pasteurized egg whites from a carton)
  • 3/4 cup of water**
  • Topping options are endless: berries, peanut butter, banana slices, coconut flakes

Directions:

  1. Combine oatmeal, egg whites and water and cook in microwave for 2 minutes ( watch for overflow).
  2. Mix, let cool, add toppings and you are done.

** It you want it thicker use more water if not use less. If it comes out like an oatmeal bake and that is not your jam, add more water.

Topping Pairings Bonus

  • 1 tbsp of cocoa, a sprinkle of your favorite sweetener, and raspberries or strawberries..
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter and a half of a sliced banana.
  • Mango slices and 1 tbsp of coconut flakes.
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa powder, 1 tbsp of dark chocolate chips, 1 tbsp of walnuts, and sliced strawberries.
  • 1 heaping tbsp of pumpkin puree, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.
  • 1/2 a diced apple, sprinkle of cinnamon and 1 tbsp of almond butter.

 

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Pumpkin Salsa Carnitas & night time snack attack solutions

I stumbled across this Fall Harvest Salsa at Trader Joe’s and couldn’t resist pairing it with some pork tenderloin in a crockpot, with some diced onions, salt, and pepper. You pretty much don’t need to keep reading because I just gave you the simplest recipe ever. Cook, shred, and add to tacos, rice or veggies. You choose.

Anyway, the point of this blog, besides giving you the recipe (which is actually below in a bit more detail) is to talk real quick about how to combat the night time snack attack and convenience and preparation (aka crockpot) is one of the solutions.

I was chatting with a friend the other day and we were talking about how hard it is at night to make good decisions with eating, especially if we are stressed, exhausted or both. When our willpower is drained, our health choices are likely to be poorer.

You know I talk a lot about how willpower is not a reliable source of energy to fall back on, and I am sure you have experienced it before if you have ever had the never ending dinner. You know, the one that starts when you get home with a few bites as you are cooking, which leads to a small meal,  which turns into bites of leftovers, a few grapes, a spoonful of peanut butter, a few chocolate chips and then might as well have a cookie or four.

Today I am going to share with you 3 super simple strategies to implement to help the night time snack attack. Try one at a time and see if any of them help.

Be prepared. Crockpot a meal this week so when you walk in the door, you literally have something ready to go. No snacks, no munching on dinner as you make it. You can also chop veggies in advance, cook up a bulk of a “go to food” ( I do chicken and brown rice) so if you are really hungry you don’t have to worry about making poor choices. If you don’t have time, find a way to make time.

Allow a post dinner snack but give it a delay. Again plan what you will have post dinner. Is it berries and greek yogurt? A banana and peanut butter? The coconut, chocolate pudding I am blogging about next week? One single glass of wine?  Allow yourself to have that snack, and only that snack, but make yourself wait an hour. Let your dinner settle, find something calming to do and look forward to your post dinner treat.

Eat more during the day. If you are starving when you get home chances are you are eating too little during the day. Oatmeal for breakfast and a salad with chicken for lunch may just not cut it, as that is less then 400 calories. Add a few more meals or snacks in throughout the day so you feel more satisfied. When you are more satisfied during the day, you will be less likely to indulge at night.

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Special salsa find but you can use any salsa you like.

Pumpkin Salsa Carnitas

Ingredients:

  • Pork tenderloin
  • Jar of salsa (any kind really)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup to cup of diced onions

Directions:

  1. Place tenderloin in crockpot and 1/2 to 1 full jar of salsa.
  2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and diced onions.
  3. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8.
  4. Shred with a big fork and let cool.
  5. Use for tacos, on rice, or pair it with a veggie.
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Not a food photographer, but this is real life, right? 😉

The trouble with gratitude

Gratitude sometimes feels like the words mindfulness and moderation. It feels a little overused and redundant. You are told to be grateful, to appreciate what you truly have. To be positive. To be happy. Blah, blah, blah. You get it, right?


There is trouble with gratitude though. 
It works. Just not in the way you think it is supposed too.

It doesn’t play out in some big dramatic way. It doesn’t always make you feel 100% better in seconds. It doesn’t necessarily work like other vices to numb out pain and suffering.  It doesn’t mean you walk around happy all the time.

It is a practice that is cultivated deeper than a trying to be positive all the time. It is a perspective of how you choose to view yourself, your life, the world, and what happens each and every day.

It is a reminder of what is truly important in life and a reminder of how much we truly have in our life.  

When things are going well it is easy to feel happy and grateful. The real work and practice is in the darker, more challenging moments where you truly put in the effort to choose your perspective.

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Awareness is the first step.

We cannot begin to make a change if we are not aware of when we choose or avoid gratitude. Choosing gratitude in the present is often the most challenging.

It is easier to look at the past with a sense of gratitude rather than the present or future. We can often look at the past and acknowledge the difficulties and struggles and come to terms with some of them. For those that linger it can be hard to accept that what is done is done and trying to accept the past for what it is, not what it should be will help bring piece of mind.

Maybe you had a parent that was really tough on you, a relationship that did not work out or a job that was lost.  Can you look back on those experiences and acknowledge that it was hard, frustrating, maybe even hopeless at a time, but we were able to come out of it stronger with more perspective, strength and wisdom? If there is hurt that lingers practicing gratitude and choosing a perspective can help put the hurt of the past in the past so it no longer continues to consume mental space and emotion.

It is often more difficult to find awareness in the present, dealing with circumstances as they occur. Cultivating a perspective of appreciation and gratitude when dealing with stress and struggles is one of life’s greatest challenges.  On Thanksgiving day it is easy to share gratitude for family and a table full of food, more than we possibly need. It is easy to find gratitude in the moment and give thanks.

When dealing with financial struggles, arguments with loved ones or even going through our daily routine of work, chores and relationships and using  it is hard to remember the basics that we are being given. Air in our lungs, food on our plates, shelter over our bodies, purpose in our minds and people who care greatly about us and who we care greatly about in return. When it comes down to it, what more do we need?

Gratitude takes our mindset from lack to abundance.

If we can learn to anticipate the future and know that there will be many difficulties and struggles in our lives and in our minds, but there will also be great joys, excitement and love that fill and enrich our life in so many ways. If we can know these things to be true in our future, we can reduce our expectations of life unfolding perfectly and always revert back an abundant mindset. A mindset of enough.

#GetGrateful Task

Find something to be excited about right now. Get excited about anything. Your morning cup of coffee, a afternoon nap, your favorite food at lunch. Find something to be grateful for today. Tying our happiness to only the “big” events in life leaves us feeling in a state of lack on a daily basis. Find gratitude and blessing in the things you “get to” do today.

Make a list of everything you “have” to do today.  Write it out in that way. I have to wake up, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, go to work, work on a project, eat lunch, go to a meeting, come home, make dinner, spend time with family, sit alone in silence take the dog on a walk. You get the idea. Make your list. Then write out the EXACT same list and replace the “I have too,” with “I get too.” I get to wake up. I get to brush my teeth. I get to make dinner. Because we are all truly are so blessed to be able to “get” to do those things.

Click Here to get Free Super Simple Tips to Your Ideal Body

yet another reason (ok reasons) to pick up heavier weights

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You don’t have to put on the big weights, simply start by challenging yourself more than you normally would.


Excited to announce that I am launching my 10 – Week Gym program Super Simple Super Sets  through Friday May 13th.  This program is designed with simplicity in mind, using supersets to progressively challenge the body, to maximize results over the course of 10 weeks, and beyond. Learn how to exercise smarter, get results, and stay sane.

Details and access here! 


You hear it all the time. Lift weights to lose weight. Lifting heavy will not make you bulky. It is not just for guys. Women can lift weights too.  Lift something heavier than your purse weighs.

And I bet sometimes you wonder why.  Does it really make a difference? Do I really need to lift weights? Do I really need to pick up something heavier?

You never have to do anything. I get that not everyone enjoys weight lifting, feels comfortable in that area, or is simply not into lifting at their maximum heaviest potential. Yet the benefits of weight lifting go beyond a certain type of look, fat loss, and simply being a workout.

Today I want to share with you a few you benefits you don’t always think about and why you might want to bump up the intensity in the gym and pick up a few more pounds, or ten, or fifty.

Improve your insulin sensitivity.

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas and when we eat a meal, for example, it responds by increasing blood sugar levels. It shuttles glucose (carbohydrates/sugar) from our bloodstream into our cells and is likely to be stored as fat if our liver and muscle supplies are full. It often is referred to as the storage hormone.

At optimal levels insulin has important functions but when it stays constantly high we run into trouble. It simple terms too much insulin release can lead too much storage in body fat which is seen by eating way too much and moving way too little .

In other words you want high insulin sensitivity and this is accomplished by having more muscle mass and doing activities that promote more muscle mass, aka strength training. When you lift weight you increase you insulin sensitivity and that is why it is recommended to eat close to post workout because you food will be shuttled to replace glycogen in your muscles first and not be as likely to be stored.

What we were meant to do.

Weight training mimics what we were meant to do. Labor. As humans, physical labor is part of what we have always done. Until the industrial and technical revolution slowly came in to play and we began to move less and less over time and rely on other people and things to do our work. From cars, to garage door openers, to tv remotes, to washing machines and jobs that require us to sit most of the day.

We need to labor, we just don’t in our everyday lives anymore so we need to create bouts of intense physical labor regularly. Not just a moderate jog on the treadmill or picking up 5 lb dumbbells. Use weight that feels challenging and makes you want to put it down.

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If you finish an exercise and think you could have done 5 more reps, select one weight heavier next time.

Keep your metabolism humming. I’m not just saying that ….

When we go through steady state cardio it can potentially strip our muscles and raise our cortisol levels, aka stress hormone. That is the last thing we need right? Chronic stress on our body after chronic stress in everyday life. Bouts of raised cortisol are normal and have their place but the more you keep stress high and do things that wear on your muscle mass, the less place you will have for storage of carbohydrates and the more likely it will get stored as fat.

Again find activities that promote muscle mass and keep your metabolism high. In article by  Alwyn Cosgrove The Heiarchy of Fat Loss he discusses how to maximize leanness with time being a limited factor and said that the best activity was this.

“It’s fairly obvious that the build of calories burned are determined by our resting metabolic rate or RMR. The amount of calories burned outside or our resting metabolic metabolism (through exercise and the thermic effect of feeding) is a smaller contribute to overall calories burned per day.

We can also accept that RMR is largely a function of how much muscle you have on your body – and how hard it works. Therefore, adding activities that promote or maintain muscle mass will make that muscle mass work harder and elevate the metabolic rate.”

To be stronger everyday.

There is nothing I enjoy hearing more than a client of mine who is a grandma and was able to get up and down on the floor to play with her grandkids. Or a 75 year old client who felt she could climb every step on her European vacation. Or the new mom who felt stronger and more balanced when carrying around her baby. Or my own personal experience of carrying in 10 grocery bags at once or picking up my own heavy stuff and when a guy offers to help I just respond, “No thanks, I got this.”

Strength is life. Healthiness is life. And the more we can contribute to being independent and doing activities we enjoy or need to do, the happier we will be. If you want to see change you must challenge yourself physically and mentally.

You can do hard things.

Physical strength translates into emotional and mental strength. You can do hard things. You can overcome the unthinkable. You can push yourself to do more than you think you are capable of.

Physical strength translates to emotional strength and the cycle continues to feed itself. You get stronger, become your confident, get even stronger and have even more confidence. And now because you have more confidence you push yourself more in your workouts, and build confidence again. The cycle continues and has a ripple effect in other areas of your life. Grab a heavier weight. Challenge yourself. Work exceptionally hard.

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Additional Readings:

Precision Nutrition: All About Insulin

The Heiarchy of Fat Loss