Author Archives: fitwithadele

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Real quick: I am opening up enrollment for my FREE 5 -Day Mindset Makeover Course Food Edition that begins Saturday, November 18th. It will prep you going into the holidays with the right mindset to reduce the anxiety and overwhelm you feel around food and give you strategies you can use forever.

The strategies are completely transformative and create a huge mindset shift in the way you think about food. I cannot wait to begin so snag your spot here: http://bit.ly/mmfoodedition

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Over the last few years with The Fit Life I have received so many emails from women naming stress and inconsistency around eating as their #1 struggle.

Jumping around from diet to diet.

Fearing eating off plan or not following food rules.

Not knowing how to eat off of a diet.

Spending time exercising just to burn calories after overeating.

Restricting certain “bad” foods from their diet.

I understand because I personally have been in each scenario at one point in my life. What I have learned over the years that I want to share with you today are tips tools and strategies to help you spend LESS energy stressing about food and more of that energy actually implementing what you know. Because you mostly likely know the basics at the very least.

How do you quit wasting mental energy an why would you want to? 

Just like putting high demand on your muscle, it fatigues. So does you willpower and your choices. The more and more I talk with people regarding food and eating, the more I realize that people spend a ton of mental energy on it, whether it come in terms of guilt, anxiety, stress, or even constant decision making.

We can make up to over 200 decisions a day regarding food, from what we should eat to breakfast, to what we should put in your coffee, to if you should eat now or later. It is no wonder that people claim night time eating as one of their biggest self sabotages when it comes to reaching their goals.

By the end of the day our willpower is exhausted and when it fails (it will fail) you are left to rely on your habits alone, good or bad.

I know from first hand experience that can be extremely draining and leave you feeling like you do not have the mental energy for anything else. With the loads of information on how to eat, when to eat, and what to eat we are left in constant decision making mode and it can be overwhelming and exhausting. 

So lets talk about 9 ways to streamline your thoughts and decisions and help you reduce the amount of mental energy you spend on food and eating.

Be realistic about your time.

If you are short on time, refrain any extensive meal planning with complicated recipes with lots of ingredients, especially if you are not a big fan of cooking.

If that is your jam then go for it, but meals and healthy eating can be simple. My go to meal is a veggie egg scramble and 2 pieces of toast. It takes me less than 5 minutes and if I am starving or not motivated to cook it is perfect!

Only eat foods you truly enjoy.

If you do not enjoy a big salad of vegetables, don’t eat it. When you eat foods you do not enjoy, you satiety levels will be low, causing you to crave more. Enjoyment is a huge factor in eating and one that if often overlooked.

I made a salad once and tried a new zero calorie, bleh, dressing and it was disgusting. After a few bites I thought it tasted pretty bad and continued with a few bites only to throw it all away moments later.

Food should satisfy you and make you feel your best physically and emotionally. If you are not enjoying what you are eating, stop and eat something else. I have done this before mid bite. Ask yourself if it is worth it?

Refrain from justifying your food choices.

As humans we like to justify and moralize our choices because it makes us feel better. We all do it. But I have learned to get real honest with myself with things like this because I can always claim I was too tired, stressed, not prepared or had a long day.

Justifying our food choices is a way of validating our own feelings and thoughts. It is a way to have an excuse as to why we do not reach our goals.

It also is a way to encourage a constant battle in your head of what is or is not ok to eat. I still do this from time to time. “Well I have not had dessert in a while so it is ok I am having this.” I check myself and reaffirm that I am having this because I want to. End of story.

Do less researching and take more action.

I use to spend so much time researching the latest plans, gathering information, and reading about all the potential options out there, without really actually doing it.

There is a huge gap between knowing and actually doing. You will only get results when you bridge that gap and start implementing what you know. Reading and learning is all good, but does nothing if you do not apply it.

Focus on your automatic eating strategies. 

What strategies do you know work for you? I eat a balance of carbs, protein and fat at most meals, with a couple snacks, include veggies often, carry a water bottle with me during the day, and have a piece of dark chocolate everyday. That is how I base my eating.

These guidelines are great because I can take them ANYWHERE, and they have become so automatic they almost feel effortless. What do you know works for you? If you are unsure, experiment.

Do too many carbs make you feel sluggish?

Do you do better when you eat a lighter dinner?Does breakfast set you up for success or failure.

Take notes this week and see what you come up.

Stop worrying about the small stuff.

Condiments, organic, a beer, a small dessert. These things are not going to make or break your physique. In large quantities accumulated over time, yes. But not adding BBQ sauce, eating a non organic banana or having dessert or a drink weekly.

Again I have been there, thinking I could not indulge without throwing myself off track or eating BBQ chicken without the sauce being homemade. Focus on your automatic eating strategies, what your meals consist of, taking in foods high in nutrients, and drinking lots of water. And getting enough sleep and stressing less. These are your big rocks. These are the things that are going to make more of an impact.

Do not just eat food because it is available.

Many times we eat food because it is circumstantial. Your co worker brought in cookies, so you have one because they brought them in for you and 20 other people.

Costco is giving out samples so of course you take them. It is a holiday, so you must indulge. You have dinner at your moms so you must clean your plate. You are at the movies so you need popcorn.

The truth is, you do not need to do any of these things, unless you want them. Start to pay attention to when and why you eat, and if it is just because of the circumstance gently remind yourself that you do not have to. You can have the same foods tomorrow if you truly wish. Food will always be available to you.

Avoid blindly following a meal plan.

Meal plan are stressful. Not only is is difficult to follow a plan while you are at home, it is even more difficult when you try to add social gatherings in the mix. Meal plans are not created with YOU or your lifestyle in mind and cause us to feel guilty if we can’t stick to their extensive rules.

They also do not take in to account what you actually feel like eating that meal or day and cause us to become ignorant about what actually works for our body. If you are like me you have probably tried more than one type of eating or meal plan with rules and restrictions. But I encourage you to use that a learning experience and take this Bruce Lee quote, “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”

 Do not eat food that makes you feel guilty. 

This is my favorite practice. Guilt and food do not belong together. If you are going to eat something make a conscious effort not to feel guilty about it. And if you know you are going to feel guilty about it, don’t eat it.

Positive psychology research actually shows when we have feelings of guilt and remorse around eating too much, it is actually less of a motivator to do better next time than when we give ourselves some compassion and love. The next time you overeat and find yourself wanting to lecture yourself in disapproval, simply admit to what you did and move on. You always have next time.

A Step by Step Guide to Cultivating A Diet Free Lifestyle


Real quick: I am super excited to share that enrollment is now open for my 5-Day Mindset Makeover Food Edition Course for anyone who feels like they can never be consistent with eating. If you are frustrated, overwhelmed and always trying to get back on track this is THE course for you. Stop stressing, start living.

It is totally free and you can sign up here!

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Today I am talking about having a diet free lifestyle without talking about food all that much. Is that possible?

You may have been hoping for a step by step guideline that said at breakfast you eat eggs and veggies or a carb or protein source but today we are going about this in the complete opposite way.

In essence diets are simply the kinds of food that a person eats. In fact, people all over the world eat differently (different diets) and maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle.  Except in modern society diets are referred to more in terms of restrictions of certain foods, food groups in attempts to lose weight or change the body.

And restriction itself is the farthest thing from the answer to sustainable weight/fat loss or body change.Yet so many people are tempted by meal plans, the newest diet, cleanses, food rules and detoxes even when the reality is that they just do not work.

The perfect way of eating is very grey but as humans we really, really want it to be black and white. Like if someone could just tell us what to do, we would follow it. We all do it. I have done it.

We blame being lazy, having no time, needing to be told what to do, and having no self control as the reasons why we just can’t stay on track. Here in itself is where the problem starts. The mindset behind eating. The perception of what you should and shouldn’t do and the reasons you tell yourself you can’t do it.

Our culture has engrained this all or nothing approach as if there is no middle ground, as if there is no other way.

You are either all in on a diet that allows certain foods and bans others or you just give up and eat with abandon because it won’t really matter anyways.

I like to look at it this way. Our culture is responsible for putting out this type of information 100% and we each have 100% responsibility to do something about it. I took this equal responsibility concept from a recent read The Big Leap.

To put it simply, it all begins with the way your perception and how you choose to react in any given situation.

So let’s start with a refresh on your perspective.

Meal plans, rules and restrictions create dependency and don’t even give us the opportunity to fend for ourselves when diet foods are not within arms reach. Office parties, social gatherings, nights out with friends. What are you really suppose to do if you show up and there is only chips and dip and you are starving?

You could:

  1. white knuckle your way through the party
  2. eat ALL the chips and dip
  3. eat a few chips and call it a day

Most people rarely ever choose #3. It is usually a, followed by 1, a binge later on, or 2, followed by a period of guilt, remorse and shame and then back to your strict ways the next day because you already screwed yourself for the day anyways so why bother making good choices for dinner? Even worse if it is a Saturday night, you might just as well wait until Monday.

It creates a viscous cycle that keeps us tight on plan for a time, and then inevitably we will fall off, experience guilt and then get back on the same plan.

It’s tempting though, I get it. It feels organized, it feels in control, it feel like you are disciplined enough to achieve success. I will start by breaking down 4 steps to help to break the diet cycle.

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Feeling stuck in the diet cycle is a learning experience. It won’t go away until you learn what you need to know. And you will learn it once you adopt these strategies.

Step 1: Consider the sustainability factor

The success of a diet does not only depend on results, it depends on lasting results. So often I have people tell me things like this.

“The Whole30 really makes me crave sugar less.”

“Weight Watchers works when I do it.”

“I feel great when I go gluten free.”

The question always remains, “How long did that last?”

Because short term results are all good and well but what is the point if you can not make it last. Whenever I get tempted by the latest diet or food trend or seeing some fit chicks meal plan I ask myself, “Am I willing to eat like this forever?” If the answer is no, I know I check myself and turn back to trusting myself and my process.

Step 2: Habit awareness is more important than you think.

What does this look like? First off eating is highly automatic and in order to break poor habits you have to plan, prepare, and actually stop, think and contemplate about the foods you are choosing to consume and why.

It could be as simple as swapping out your morning donut for greek yogurt and fruit or as complicated as working to intentionally fight the stressed out binge in the moment. The more you start to pay attention, the better chance you have at learning where you are most likely to give in and have the power to actually do something about it.

In the book The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, he has a habit loop theory that suggests that you can’t simply get rid of bad habits you can only replace them.

The human brain likes effortless and most people have been wrapped up in bad habits for so long they no longer realize they are doing them. In essence the key is to be aware and learn to change your routine.

If coming home from work is leaves you immediately in a stressed out binge at the fridge door, the idea is that you occupy your time with something else the moment you walk in the door.

This takes time, patience and lots of trial and error before you find success.

Step 3: Nutrients and portions.

What if you said goodbye to all the food rules you have tried or been taught and focused on just two concepts? Eating foods high in nutrients and portion control. What if you started to pay attention to how you felt eating by navigating the space between deprived and an all out binge?

You know this. More veggies, less pop tarts, stop at 2 pieces of pizza.

I am completely aware it is not this simple but unless you have a uber specific physique or endurance goal or just want to get in the best shape of your entire life you don’t need to make it so complicated on yourself.

This does take a little bit of introspection and work and while it might feel more difficult in the beginning than someone telling you to have chicken breast and broccoli for lunch it provides you with the tools that you can take wherever, whenever.

Step 4: Practice The Self Trust Solution

The ability to stop turning to meal plans and food restrictions begins with the ability to turn inward and learn the tools and insights to trust yourself any time, any place, with any food.

The best way to trust yourself is to trust yourself and see what happens because “How-to’s don’t work if you don’t talk about gets in the way.” This is a quote from Brene Brown.

Diets don’t give you the tools you need to move forward. They don’t address things like willpower, habits, stressful/emotional eating, moralizing food or finding way to eat moderately and mindfully.  They try to give you a complete life overhaul in week 1 and give hope that you can make a lifetime of change without addressing other obstacles.

You get blasted with changes and information and then are left hanging on how to implement anything.

The reality is this cycle will continue unless you are given the tools to break it. It all begins with your mindset and the willingness to make that the focus and let go of food rules and find what I like to call food freedom.

Here’s a quick recap.

  1. When tempted by a diet ask yourself, “Is this a way I can eat forever”
  2. Focus on changing one habit that you feel is most detrimental to your health by replacing the routine.
  3. Focus on nutrients in your diet and portion control.
  4. Practice trusting yourself around food without being on a diet.

Don’t forget to sign up for the 5-Day Food Makeover Course.

Starts 11/18!!

It is totally free and you can sign up here!

The death of labeling food good or bad

 

I don’t eat carbs because they are bad.

I only eat good foods like vegetables and lean protein.

I was bad last night and had dessert.

Have you ever used one of these phrase?

I am confident that the slow death of labeling food as good or bad and that is what I want to talk about today.  It’s not really the classification of the food itself that bothers me it is the emotional impact associated with food labeling, especially with women.

Good just doesn’t represent a healthier choice it represents a strong control and an inherent self worth of being good enough. 

Bad doesn’t just represent a lesser nutritional choice, it represents a lack of self control and a lack of worthiness.

But classifying foods as good or bad is a poor strategy for a lifetime of eating. Sure there are foods that are more nutrient dense than others but bad doesn’t mean off limits and good doesn’t mean a free for all.

Personally I remember ten years ago when I picked up The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook and within weeks I had eliminated all “bad” foods. Things like bread, condiments, anything with an ounce of sodium, anything with added sugar, desserts, and focused on “good” foods like fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, brown rice, chicken, and ground turkey meat.

I didn’t even like the term cheat meals. Why was I going to intentionally eat “bad” food? On good days I was good and happy, on bad days I was sad and shameful.

Even with these rigid guidelines I could never find a middle ground. It was always on or off. Good or bad. I had months where I was able to adhere but any results I saw never felt worth it because it was always so stressful and consuming.

After years of focusing on moderation, mindfulness, and the mindset that goes with food labeling I now have a better understanding of why food labeling can push us towards poor food choices and away from better ones. Its completely fascinating and it begins like this.

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Fries, bacon, and chilli. So bad? Or just food?

Being good gives ourselves permission to be a little bit bad.

Or so willpower researcher Kelly McGonigal says in her book The Willpower Instinct. As humans, we like to moralize our choices. We like to feel like we are doing the right thing and making the right choices so we do our best to convince ourselves of that.

When we do something that we view as “good” and label it as such, like eat a healthy breakfast or choose not to skip our workouts we are actually more apt to make poorer choices or skip workouts at a later time because we let our good behavior let ourselves of the hook for  a later time.

It is almost like our good behavior cancels out our bad behavior and sometimes it’s not always something we are aware of.

There is a term in psychology called The Halo Effect in which we justify our choices, looking for any reason to give into temptation. In the dieting world researchers have even coined a term in relation to food, The Health Halo.

When we eat something “good” it subtly justifies an indulgence of something else.

Eating a salad makes it ok to eat dessert, bread, and wine in large quantities.

Adding vegetables on the side makes an entire pizza ok.

Eating appetizers only for dinner make unlimited alcohol not so bad.

Saying no to the bun makes it ok to have all the fries.

Good choices make the bad ones not so bad. However more often than not many of us would have been better off just ordering the cheeseburger instead of eating a salad and then eating all the appetizers, drinks and desserts that come along with it.

We lose common sense when we label foods as good or bad and look for any reason to give into temptation.

Moralizing choices can come in many different forms.

It can be viewed as what you could have done but didn’t.

I could have had 3 martinis but I only had two.

It can be justified in the fat free ice cream.

Well it is fat free so I can have more.

If can rewarding yourself with your workout.

I had a hard workout so I deserve a big meal.

Awareness is the first step of change.

This is a mental practice that begins in awareness. When I work with clients on changing habits I encourage them NOT to go crazy trying to change it at first because typically the harder someone pushes to change, the harder it will push back.  I have them start by noticing what they are doing when they are doing it and practice an internal dialogue. 

“Hey, I just worked out and I am crushing this meal because I feel like I deserved it. Interesting.”

Then practice shifting it to what the reality of the situation is. “I am not eating this meal because I have been good and I deserve it, I am eating it because it looks good and I am choosing too.”

The idea is with time and practice you will slowly started to notice that your food choices are not about you being good or bad, it is not about the food being good or bad, it is simply about what you are choosing to do.

Viewing it from this perspective takes away some of the power that food has over our emotional state and our need to give ourselves permission to give in. Eat a cookie because you want to, not because you deserve it.

It is short sighted to operate in a state of thinking that we just need to be more strict and stick to virtuous foods that imply that we worthy of having it.

Food is food. Some of it is way more nutritious than others but when we can stop thinking about it as some sort of moral licensing we can start to view food as what might be best for our health, goals, and state of mind.

We can take our halos off and not give in to mind games that contribute to the food and eating struggle.

I am super excited to share that I am opening enrollment to my 5-Day Mindset Makeover Food Edition Course for anyone who feels they are overwhelmed, inconsistent, anxious, or always feel the need to start a new diet or plan.

It is totally free and you can sign up here!

3 ways cheat meals are failing you


When I go out to dinner and have a cheat meal I feel the need to eat everything because I don’t want to take home leftovers and be tempted by them when tomorrow I have to start over.

Can you relate? For me I was never a fan of cheat or treat meals but I experimented with them over the years because it kinda made sense.

When I worked hard all week to be compliant and disciplined with my eating it felt very natural to feel like I had earned a reward and some freedom in my eating choices for a meal or even a day.

It felt sensible, innocent, and harmless. What I have noticed over the years, through my own experience, and the experiences of others, is that cheat meals seem to do more harm than good.

From a psychological perspective there is a term called moral licensing that pretty much says being good gives yourself permission to be bad.

Making “good” food choices all week makes you feel good about yourself therefore making you more likely to give in especially when you have conflicting desires like, “I really want to be good but I also want that cheeseburger and fries.”

As humans we often like to moralize anything that matches our impulses to make ourselves feel better. It is like a protective mechanism so we can minimize uncomfortable feelings.

Whether people realize it or not cheat meals have a significant impact on the way we think about food, eating, and ourselves. Here is how.

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I have to eat it all otherwise I can’t cheat again until next week….

Cheat meals turn eating into a measure of worth.

The name cheat meals has commonly been changed to treat meals to take away the negative connotation that people are being bad when they indulge out of their normal regime.

Ironically the word treat seems to imply that we are deserving for having a good week or staying compliant to a plan. I wrote an entire blog post about labeling food as good or bad which you can access here, but ultimately we start to apply it to our self worth which is completely absurd.

When I eat good foods I am good. When I eat bad foods I bad.

When I stick to my diet I am in control and successful. When I fall off of it I am not.

The less we can associate food with labeling the more we can eat food based on how we feel, whether or not we are hungry, and how much we really need.

Food labeling encourages a black or white way of thinking like there is no middle ground. It encourages this arbitrary standard of perfection with eating that is impossible to sustain.

Here are 3 ways cheat meals are setting you up for failure.

They don’t take into account how you feel in the moment.

When I experimented with adding cheat meals into my diet I found that even after my week of good eating, I didn’t always want a cheat meal but I ate it because I deserved it and if I didn’t eat it then, I would have to wait an entire week to have it again.

Can you see where this completely ignored any awareness in regards to my body and only focused on rules and restrictions I placed on myself?

I also had times where cheat meals would turn into all out binges or a days worth of cheat eating if I messed up I might as well wait until tomorrow to start again fresh. Like the scenario at the beginning of this post, no cheat leftover could be left in the house because it would ruin tomorrow if I was trying to start clean. It didn’t matter if I was hungry or a certain food would make me more satisfied I just went along with this mentality.

This is equivalent to getting into a fender bender and than ramming your car into a wall anyway. You have the option to fix yourself mid binge.  You have the option to bring more awareness to the moment and realize that you have the power and choice to switch gears. You have the knowledge that every choice can make a difference.

They perpetuate the all or nothing mentally.

This is essentially what this entire post is breaking down. The idea that eating has to be perfect and on plan or you fall off the wagon all together. I don’t even like the idea of a wagon. You are never on or off the wagon you just are.

Overdoing it one night just to wake up the next day and hardly eat until dinner time is a prime example of getting caught up to two extremes and never finding that middle, moderate ground.

I had a client tell me the other day that this whole perspective I talk about, practicing to navigate eating in between the extremes of deprivation and overindulgence sounds great in theory, but it is hard.  Really hard. I couldn’t agree more.

But just like with every hard endeavor in life you practice. You fail. You try again. It is really hard to accept this with a concept like eating but it is no different. You practice. You fail. You try again. Repeat this 20 times and maybe on the 21st you will get a little better and the next times and the next time.

How to break the cheat meal cycle.

I know you may be wondering what in the world you are supposed to do next. The question I like to ask people is this: why do you feel the need to have a cheat meal? Usually it is because people have been depriving themselves too much during the week. The more deprived you feel, the more likely you will be to overindulge at some point.

What you eat tomorrow is highly dependent on what you eat today. So while you might feel great restricting food all day, feeling strong and in control don’t be surprised if that night or that weekend you overindulge more than you cared for.

The answer is to feel more satisfied during the week so you don’t feel the need for cheats and treats.

Add some toast to your morning egg whites.

Add cheese on your salad instead of just chicken and lettuce.

Eat a piece of chocolate every single day.

Why not feel more satisfied every single day of the week so you don’t feel like you are missing out or need to go all out on the weekend?

Perfect eating never leads to long term success. Consistency beats perfection and you may just be surprised how much easier it all feels when you learn to trust yourself more around any food every single day and not wait until the grand designated cheat opportunity.

If you find these tips helpful be sure to snag your spot for my 5-Day Food Mindset Makeover Course. It is totally FREE and full of strategies like this to help reframe the way you think about food and eating and break constantly searching for the next plan or diet. Sign up here!

Do this or continue to struggle

I just finished the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.

Ok in all honestly I just finished RE- reading it.

Ok I read it twice and am reading back through my highlighted parts.

This book is filled with the most seemingly obvious advice equivalent to a “just do it” of sorts but I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement, every sentence that passed my eyes.

What is the slight edge and why do you need it? It is essentially this. It is the culmination of daily actions repeated over and over again to get the results you are seeking. It is consistency.

How do you use it? You quit blaming, talking, thinking, contemplating, and searching and start *taking action* by implementing the little things each and every day over and over again.

It is as simple as it is hard.

Because success, reaching goals, and overcoming challenges is not a big magical accomplishment that all of a sudden happens, it is a series of little things done each and every day that add up over time.

We know this, we just don’t do it. Or we do it and expect immediate results so we stop doing the little things we need to do to get us to where we want to be. More often than not it is doing the work without seeing the results for weeks, months, or years. Now that is commitment.

I still do this when starting a new exercise program or want to tighten up my diet. I think that because I have been at it for a week I should have the grand results I have been seeking. With much practice I have broken the cycle of simply stopping when the results are invisible and keep the bigger picture in mind and just keep going. I

It is not that what you are doing isn’t working, it is just you have not allowed enough time to pass to see the results. 

 

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Where you can start?

This is super interesting. Can you relate?

Quit stopping at survival and keep going to success.

Us humans get comfortable in survival mode. We unintentionally self sabotage our best efforts to improve our health and change our habits. It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it is just that we don’t do it for long enough. We stop at survival. We stop where it is comfortable. 

In The Slight Edge Olsen suggests that humans are comfortable in survival mode and waiver back and forth between survival and failure instead of rising above and pushing towards success.

When we start to slip to rock bottom we will do anything to get back to survival mode, where we are getting by, just good enough. Once we get to survival mode, we get comfortable and naturally stop doing the things that keep us progressing.

Let’s apply this to weight loss. It can look like this. We push ourselves in our workouts but not too much.

We lose 10 lbs and that feels good enough even though our goal is 20.

We eat well for a week and then revert back to our old ways.

Basically we commit but only until it becomes to uncomfortable.  Then we justify our choices to defend our actions.

I don’t have time. It is hard. I don’t have any support.

A recent article in the New York Times states it perfectly.

“The human body and brain are funny. They often, and rather insidiously, undermine some of our best efforts to be healthier, in an attempt to maintain our physiological status quo.The result can be that we do not benefit as much as we’d hoped from changes to our lifestyles.”

 

There is nothing magical about going from failure to survival and survival to success, it is the same actions you have been doing, you just have to keep doing them.

 

To be successful with body change you have to keep going, even when you don’t feel like it or the results are intangible. 

Take responsibility for yourself and your choices.

“When you take and retrain full responsibility – even when others are wrong or the situation is genuinely unfair – you get to keep your life’s reins in your own hands.”Jeff Olsen

I don’t think we mean to always put the blame on other things or other people, I think deep down it is more like a mode of self protection. If there is some reason we are not able to complete a task or put in the work, it makes us feel just a little better if the responsibility is not on us. No time, no money? No problem, we get to wipe our hands clean and be off the hook.

When we take responsibility, we get full power in return. Full power in each and every one of our choices from the way we eat, when we exercise, and what we prioritize. This in itself is truly the best place to be. We can own our choices and have the ability to change them. 

I know sometimes little choices seem insignificant, like eating a healthy breakfast or doing 10 push ups and 10 squats a day won’t matter much. But 365 breakfasts over the course of the year does make a difference. And 280 push ups and 280 squats each month is significant compared to none. The little things are really easy to do, but they are also really easy to skip, yet when you take responsibility, the power is yours.

You supply the actions. The universe will supply the time.

Our current conditions are not shocking when we look at all the choices we made day after day to get us to where we are.

If you are in a healthy state you most likely have made several positive decisions over a very long period of time that have led you to where you currently are. If you are unhealthy, the same thing applies. You have made several decisions over time that have had an impact on your health and you have made them again and again.

Body change is not based on a single choice, a days worth of choices, or a weeks worth of choices. It is based on numerous choices every for months at a time that lead to our current conditions whether they serve us or not. Patience can be one of the most annoying but valuable pieces of advice.

To get to a place where you want to be you simply choose positive actions day in, day out. You do it over and over again until you are successful and then you keep doing it. Plan for what might get in the way.

Don’t stop when things get tough. Practice a little patience and put a lot of trust in the process.

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3 huge mistakes almost everyone makes when trying to lose weight

Before we dive in today I am super excited to share that I am opening enrollment to my 5-Day Mindset Makeover Food Edition Course for anyone who feels they are overwhelmed, inconsistent, anxious, or always feel the need to start a new diet or plan.

It is totally free and you can sign up here!

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There is one major problem with the amount of health, diet, food, and fitness information out there. It is not working. Long term. Ironically conventional wisdom, common advice, and diets are keeping you struggling.  


If it were as simple as following a meal plan and exercising more, no one would be seeking advice. You can google 7 day meal plan right now, have the answers to what to eat and be well on your way to success. 

I get it. We all do it.

I personally bought my clean eating cookbook in 2006. Made my steamed brown rice, vegetables and chicken, and measured and ate the recommended portions down to the ounce. Packed my meals for out the day. Would go, go, go, and eat at the recommended times even though I wasn’t hungry or maybe craving something else. 

I would reluctantly walk through the door after a long day of work, lace up tennis shoes and miserably do a 3 mile run.

I would be starving after my bland dinner and have just a few bites of leftovers. And then a spoonful of peanut butter. Then I wasn’t really hungry but would have a few grapes and maybe a cup of yogurt and that cookie too.

Then I would go to bed stuffed and sad and wake up and get back to my restriction the next day because that was THE day I would change be compliant.  Even worse I fed into my own belief that this was the only way to be successful. And I kept doing it.

I had become lazy and dependent, only knowing how to eat if it was what my plan said and only focused on burning calories in my workouts.

When everything changed.

About 5 years ago I had a huge transformation (mostly mentally and emotionally) when I learned how to stop making these mistakes I am about to share with you.

There is a big disconnect with health and well being and the way we think. For me personally, when I was fighting healthy choices, and trying to control them, it only seems to turn around and control me back. It not only prevented me from living in my right body, but it prevented me from living my right life.

Have you ever felt that way?

Today I am setting the record straight so you can stop making these mistakes and start focusing on the things that actually matter and will ACTUALLY produce results.

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Mistake #1 Relying too much on willpower and motivation.

There is actually research on willpower. Research that say we should stop using it as a tool for our self control

“If I just had more willpower and discipline I would do better,” I hear my clients say.

And I get it. We think willpower is an end all, be all choice, and if we are restrictive enough and just turn our back to things we want to resist, we will be successful. Did you know that willpower is not an endless source of energy and the more you rely on it, the harder it is to make the good decisions you intend to make?

Think of it like your cell phone battery. At the beginning of the day it starts strong and the more you use it, the more it drains. By the time you are home it is at 19%, barely holding on and now you have to make dinner and workout on energy that is barely holding on. No wonder it is healthy eating in the evening that people find most difficult.

The more strict and compliant you try to be, the more likely you will drain your willpower energy source and continue to struggle. Then we turn to motivation. The trouble with motivation is that is comes and goes. Those who are most successful do the work whether they are motivated or not. 

The key is to learn how to conserve your willpower, not rely on it. And to not rely on motivation, create it, even if that means showing up even when you don’t want to.

By creating positive habits and rituals in life you can learn how to make healthier decisions that are as automatic as brushing your teeth. The brain likes effortless whether those habits serve you or not.

Mistake # 2 Trying to burn more calories and eat less calories instead of building muscle and eat smarter.

 

Conventional wisdom says if we just eat less and less calories and exercise to burn more and more calories, the results will come. That is true to some extent except we have been conditioned to take it to extremes. Extremes that fail us over and over again. Though it has been conventional wisdom in the past we seriously need to reconsider this framework if sustainable  (and healthy) body transformation is the goal.

For me personally, I could care less if someones heart rate monitor says they burned 1,000 calories in a hike or 777 calories in a workout class.  Calories burned are not the concern. I care that you are creating a strong, functional body and not screwing up your metabolism.

I care that you go home and eat a dinner that is healthy, satisfying and does not erase all your hard work.

Here is the thing with doing too much cardio and drastically reducing your calories. Your body adapts. You drop your calories, your body adapts. You do more cardio, your body adapts. You stop seeing results, you eat less. At some point you can’t do more exercise or reduce your calories.

When you are doing excessive cardio you burn through your carb and fat stores, strip your muscles, raise your cortisol levels, and in turn slow your metabolism and stress your body. Your body responds by making it easier for you to store fat for your next long workout expenditure. With a low calorie intake at the same time you body freaks out because it starts to miss out on key nutrients and is not sure if it will have enough energy to survive. It leans toward more fat storing.

When you overindulge, which you will at some point because it is life and you can’t sustain restriction, your calories above that baseline metabolism that you now have created for yourself will be more likely to go to your fat stores.

What is the answer? Exercise smarter and move more. Eat enough to fuel your activity expenditure.

Keep your body strong and functional and your metabolism revving by lifting weights. Eat enough to fuel your body in return. We were meant to work in shorter more intense activities. We were meant to walk, to garden, to labor, to build, to climb, to play, to move. 

Mistake #3 Justifying your commitment to health

 

It is human nature to excuse, blame and validate our own feelings and thoughts to make ourselves feel better. We like to give away our healthy choice power even when the cost is our health. It makes us feel better if responsibility is not on us because it helps minimize our own pain. I get it. We all do it.

It is my friends birthday so I had to have cake.

I worked out so I deserved to eat a huge meal.

I had to eat that pizza because I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Here is a concept for you to try. Starting taking responsibility. For everything. In your relationships, in your job, in your daily routine and with your health! Even if you think it is someone else fault or there is a reason getting in the way, taking responsibility helps you find  solutions and you solve problems.

When you start to do this, you realize how much power, choice and opportunity you do have! Face you truth right now!

Our bodies DO NOT define our self worth but they do house these amazing souls that contribute to the world each and every day and I believe that health, wellness and fitness is a catalyst to so much more.

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When you start feeling better mentally and physically, other areas of life start changing as well. You may feel better, eat better, stress less, spend less, relax more, contribute more, help more. A simple transformation in your health can trigger changes in other parts of you life too and have a ripple effect beyond what you think you are capable of. 

4 tips to help moms with recovery and exercise postpartum

4 months postpartum going on one of my daily walks.

Just 4 years ago I had a completely different perspective on what postnatal training consisted of and how I would train myself and clients.

If you would have spoken to me then I probably would have told you that I would train the same right up until I had the baby and jump right back in it at the 6 week mark after I received clearance from my doctor.

I also had trained clients in the past in a way that I would not currently do so.

It makes me grimace a little but when you know better, you do better. And that is what I am doing now.

Much of what I am sharing today is what I have learned from reading and learning the past 4 years about training during and after pregnancy and having become certified from the Postnatal Fitness Specialist Academy which opens for enrollment today! If you are health and fitness professional, doula, massage therapist, ob/gyn, yoga or pilates instructor or simply are interested in postnatal training check out this course here. 

It is only open through this Friday so don’t miss out!

Whether you are a trainer with postnatal clients or seeking out more information about how to recover post baby and get back into exercise this course and this article is for you.

Be aware of pelvic floor dysfunction and what options you have.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction is not discussed nearly as often as it should be. In fact, I did not even receive one mention of any of the following to be on the lookout for during my pregnancy or after from and Doctor or medical professional.

PFD can act in many different ways such such as  Pelvic Organ Prolapse, Incontinence, and can lead to issues like pelvic, low back, and hip pain or make conditions like Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) worse.

These are all conditions that many moms deal with that are not often addressed. They are very common but do not have to be the new normal. Meaning you do not have to live with these conditions and symptoms.

There are more options such as getting a referral or seeking a women’s health physical therapist. We get therapy if we have a knee or shoulder surgery why not get therapy when we have a baby?

I am tired of hearing women say, “Why didn’t I know this?”

“Why wasn’t I aware of this?”

“No one told me.”

Ease back into exercise intensity and get back to basics.

Again in regards to having a surgery. If you had a knee surgery would you be told not to do anything for 6 weeks and then resume normal activity at the 6 week mark? No, you wouldn’t. You would start with physical therapy and then ease back into activity over months.

Why in the world is this different after giving birth?

The 6 weeks clearance given by doctors doesn’t mean women can’t ease back into activity sooner but it also doesn’t mean they should go full force at 6 weeks. Think of the return to exercise as a progression. Start slow and build upon month after month.

It might look something like this.

1-2 weeks postpartum: Begin gentle stretching, work on breathing and alignment.

2-3 weeks postpartum: Slow, short walks (5-10 minutes), pelvic floor connection with breath and alignment with exercises like bridges and clams.

3-4 weeks postpartum: Continue all the above. Add squats and split squats with no weight if appropriate.

4-12 weeks postpartum:  Walk longer. Start basic postnatal strength program if appropriate, 1-2 days a week.

What will determine how quickly a women progresses? Everything from hormonal health, to how she is feeling physically, mentally, to how much sleep she is getting to her stress levels, to how much support she has around her.

Overall I believe if stress is high in any of these areas, exercise intensity should be lower.

Understand the demands of motherhood on the body (stress, nursing, lack of sleep).

The demands of motherhood on the body are very high, physically and emotionally.

It is a very physical job, even with a little baby, you are holding, swaying, feeding and picking up and putting down constantly.

It can also be highly emotional and if a client is not managing her daily life well or does not have a strong support system, exercise maybe be stress inducing instead of stress relieving.

Chances are that mom is not getting all that much sleep and spending a great part of their day in awkward positions whether holding, nursing, or caring for baby.

These are all factors to consider when training a mom who is early postpartum. The answer is not to kick her butt in a workout the first day back, or several months after that for that matter.

It is important no matter the where you fall in the support system (trainer, partner) to be compassionate, understanding, and to take the full picture into consideration.

Whether training a client or yourself ask yourself the following questions.

What is the need for the specific exercise?

Is the exercise supportive of pelvic floor health? Are the core and pelvic floor being taken into consideration.

Is the training supportive of a healthy, sustainable mindset?

How is mom’s sleeping and eating habits?

Is she breastfeeding?

These are all factors to consider.

Change the conversation.

One of the best things I think we can do for moms is to be a part in changing the conversation around “body back” messaging post baby, reducing the urgency to return to a certain weight or look a certain way.

It is actually ok to like like you had baby because you did.

Postpartum bodies may be bigger for awhile and that is 100% fine and normal. They may carry more fat. This is not necessarily bad. Let yourself be postpartum. Let your body do what it needs to do to recover from 9 months of pregnancy and bringing a child into the world.

I invite everyone to change the conversation around pre and post natal bodies, and all bodies for that matter.

We can make less comments about bodies and more inquires about how mom is doing.  We can make less judgements.

We can exercise to feel strong physically and be strong emotionally not just to have smaller bodies.

We can talk about what we love about our bodies even it that is our squishy bellies that just housed a baby or the extra meat on our thighs that came about from pregnancy.

Let’s start to change the conversation: you, me, everyone.

Again don’t forget to check out the Postnatal Fitness Specialist course. It is open for enrollment today and closes this Friday, October 15th. Check it out here.

12 minute at-home dumbbell workout

This has been the year of 20 minutes or less workouts for me. Having a baby and managing work, relationships, and everyday tasks, all while doing so on less sleep, has forced me to accept shorter, less frequent workouts.

Although I will say they have done their job as I am feeling much stronger at 10 months postpartum. No longer do I have the freedom to workout whenever I please and that is something I definitely took for granted before.

I have found that even when I am at the gym I tend to use minimal equipment such as bands, kettlebells and dumbbells because I get the most for my time with workouts like the one I am sharing today.

My warm-up usually consists of 10 air squats, 10 walking lunges, some mobility work for the hips, and a couple core exercises like deadbug, plank, or side plank. It takes about 5-7 minutes which is not ideal but better than nothing when I only have 20-30 minutes.

This 12 minute workout requires a timer and a set of dumbbells that you are able to press overhead.

Set the clock for 12 minutes and complete AMRAP (as many rounds and possible and pretty) in 12 minute.

12 Dumbell Thruster

24 Reverse lunges total (alternating sides)

Track how many rounds you get and try to beat that during your next workout.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

 

 

5 non-fitness ways I reduce stress

While I love to share health, fitness, and eating tips on a regular basis I also believe that health is more than what you eat and how you workout. Health is the way we take care of ourselves outside of nutrition and exercise and how we manage our stress.

Today I am sharing 5 non-fitness ways I reduce stress.

Time outside, in the morning, with my dog.

I spend time outside.

There is something about being outside and getting some fresh air or sunshine that enhances my mood. Depending on the time of year this could look like going outside to play, taking a walk, sitting outside at a restaurant, or hanging out in the backyard.

I connect with others.

Being that I tend to be more introverted I typically find myself re energized by alone time. I like shorter bursts of interactions with others and can get easily drained by being around too many people or being social for too long.

On the flip side, I can easily get too caught up in my thoughts and worries and feel lonely when I don’t reach out and connect with someone for too long. This could be a phone call or reconnecting with  a friend or family member in person. Even a friendly interaction with a stranger at the store makes me feel more positive about humanity.

I write.

Whether it is a few things I am grateful for, a note to a friend, journaling an experience or my fitness blogs and emails, I write weekly. I find that expression through words can be a powerful outlet.

It allows me to reflect, vent, educate, and share with others as well.

I stare at my dog.

Just kidding. But kinda. 😉

My dog Lulu is my fur child and she is the best of company. She is loyal, enthusiastic, forgiving, and the most selfless creature. Research has actually suggested that time with pets is a form a stress relief. I wish I could take her everywhere with me and I know she wished she could go everywhere with me too.

My morning cup of coffee.

Ok it is not the coffee itself that helps me reduce stress. In fact I am sensitive to caffeine and if i drink too much it makes me more anxious.

It is the routine around coffee that I love so much. Mornings are the time time I feel the most energized, positive, and productive (as long as I can wake up on my own terms even if it is 5 am).

Having a baby has changed this greatly and it has been a bit of a struggle to recreate this time.  I wish I could take the way I feel in the morning with me throughout the day, everyday.

Tell me: What is your favorite way to reduce stress?

10 quick tips to navigate any gym with confidence

Back in 2001 I walked into a gym intimidated as anyone could be for essentially my first “real” training session and started working with a trainer named Jack.
 
He was the epitome of a bodybuilder from the loose fitting Golds Gym tank to the beach blonde hair to the tan. I told him I needed to work on power cleans and sprints for volleyball season and he took me through a body part split routine. Regardless I learned a lot.  
Looking back, I remember struggling with the 10 pound dumbbells for a shoulder press. Fifteen years later I am rocking the 20’s for shoulder presses and have built some serious gym confidence though it didn’t always feel that way EVEN the first few years as a personal trainer myself.
Without saying a word about confidence Jack taught me a lot about weight training and walking through a gym like you owned it.

I know in the beginning without Jack, I felt a little intimated, overwhelmed, unsure about what to do, or ridiculous if I couldn’t figure out a machine.

I kept my distance from areas that were populated more by males or bodybuilders. I would walk straight to machines or areas I felt comfortable even if it wasn’t challenging me as much.

Today I want to share with you 10 quick tips to help navigate the weights sections at any gym, including etiquette, what to do’s and the how-to’s of building a better workout so you exude confidence and get in better shape even when you might feel a little out of place. I know I sure did for awhile.

Ask if you are unsure. Personal trainers and gym staff are there for a reason. If you are unsure if a space is available for general use, are wondering where you can stretch, are not sure how to sure how to use a cardio equipment or machine, just ask. Knowledge builds confidence even in little bits. And sometimes just knowing how to use a machine or where to rack the weights makes all the difference. I still go into unfamiliar gyms and certain pieces of equipment perplex me. There is always something else you can do.

Clean up after yourself. Just as you would at home clean up after yourself, same goes in the gym. It is courteous and respectful to other gym goers, though you will notice many do not follow this advice. Put mat or exercise balls away. Put the free weights back on their rack and if a machine requires you to add plates of weight, be sure to return them to their proper storage spaces.

Be aware of your space. Even if you are not using a piece of equipment but perhaps doing an exercise by it, be sure to give that machine, bench or free weights section enough space so other gym goers can access the equipment. If you are unsure just imagine how close you would want someone working out to you and then decide from there. Also, if someone is invading your personal space it is ok to politely ask them to move a couple feet.

Don’t be afraid of the free weights section. Sometimes machines feel safe and comfortable because there are minimal adjustments and it may feel intimidating to jump into the free weight section maybe because you are not quite sure what to do or because you are only grabbing the 10 pound weights. Who cares? It doesn’t matter how much weight you are lifting to start, it matters that you are there breaking out of your comfort zone. You belong in that space as much as anyone else and there are plenty of great exercises to choose from. Feel free to take those weights to other parts of the gym to use, just be sure to return them.

What to do with those benches? Often the benches by the free weight section are designed to be flat or at an incline depending on the exercise. They may adjust differently at different gyms and for certain exercises. Try not to use the benches as a place to set your water bottle or towel if you are not using it but doing an exercise next to it. For example if you are doing bicep curls give an appropriate amount of space so others can use it.

Exercises you can perform on benches include dumbbell bench press, incline press, shoulder press, dumbbell row, just to name a few.

Sharing equipment. It is perfectly fine to ask someone to share equipment, mostly for easy to adjust machines, especially if you notice someone on it for an extended period of time. Simply ask if you can jump in between sets and most people have no problem with it. Be sure to adjust to your correct weight and wipe it down quickly if you notice that person is extra sweaty or if you are extra sweaty. Typically if you see someone with really heavy weight on a bar it is probably best not to ask as it will take too much time to adjust and switch the weight.

As for saving equipment be aware of saving two pieces of equipment while working back and forth in between sets if you notice someone hovering like they might want to use it. Make a offer to share.

Squat racks. Squat racks are areas that are designed for people to do pull-ups and heavy lifts, like squats, where they actually need the rack to load and unload the weight. If you are starting with very light weight you may want to use another straight bar that many gyms have available. Once your weight increase above 40 head on over to the rack where the bar is 45 pounds. It doesn’t matter if you are not lifting heavy weight but don’t do exercises in there like bicep curls, stretches or exercises that you can do in other places. Many gyms only have a couple racks and are precious to those who want to use them.

How to select exercises. If you are looking to get the most out of your workout choose exercises that are multi-joint exercises, meaning they are working multiple muscle groups across more than one joint. For example, a shoulder press is working from your elbow and shoulder joint. A squat is working from you hip and knee joint.

These exercises target multiple muscles groups and you will get more out of these movements, then say bicep curls and tricep presses. These are fine to do but my advice would be to save them until the end as a bonus circuit after you have finished the bulk of the workout.

Also to keep balance in the body and not overdo one particular group, use the following guidelines. Pick one exercise from each category.

Upper body push – Chest Presses, Incline Presses, Shoulder Presses

Lower body bilateral – Squats, deadlifts

Upper body pull – Rows, Pulldowns, Pull-ups

Lower single leg stance – Step-ups, Lunges

A workout could look like this:

3×12 Superset

Dumbbell Bench Press, Squat

Lat Pulldown, Reverse Lunge

When you should go up in weight. Sometimes it is confusing to know when you should go up in weight though a general easy to use guideline is this for a set of 10-12 reps. If you get to 12 and you feel like you can do 5 more it is too light. If you only get to 6 or 8 it is too heavy for this particular workout. If you go up in weight and can only make 9 reps, keep shooting for 9 reps until you can do 10-12.

You belong there as much as anyone else. Remember there is no rule for how fit you have to be to use the weight room. Walk into any weight room and own it like you belong there, because you do. Sure you may have questions but if confidence is keeping you back, all you have to do is believe in yourself and others will follow suit.