Monthly Archives: March 2015

5 reasons excuses hold you back from personal freedom

Excuses are interesting and ironic. I have noticed a trend lately of excuses, not only why we are not successful in areas of x,y & z but I have noticed how other people make excuses of why other people ARE successful in areas of their life, whether that be personal relationships, careers or fitness.

We make excuses for ourselves to justify when we don’t do things or failed attempts when we do.

 

I work late so I cannot get to the gym.

I don’t have the time or the money.

I don’t like to cook and I eat out and that is why I do not eat well.

It is not easy for me. There’s nothing I can do about it.

I love food and being social and that is what is holding me back.

We make excuses for others action and success.

 

If I were a trainer and worked at a gym, I would be more motivated to workout.

They have it easy. They have a supportive family.

If I were a stay at home mom and did not have to work I could reach my goals.

If I did not have to stay at home I with the kids I would have more time.

That person is naturally lean, they don’t have to work at it.

We tend to put down other people’s successes and defend our lack of success.  There is nothing more nauseating and uninteresting  to me than someone who gives up complete responsibility in their life while discrediting others at the same time.

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I am not immune to this phenomena, as I have of course made excuses for myself and for others many times. But these past couple years have been what I call, the years of awareness. Everything seems to hitting me, like a punch to the face, but it hasn’t really been a bad thing, as excuses do not really serve us in any positive way and take away our personal freedom, choice, and opportunity.

They take away your power. 

When you make an excuse you relinquish yourself of the power and responsibility to do anything about it. What is your number one excuse right now on anything? Say it out loud? I can’t do _____________ because of (insert excuse). You have now taken yourself out of the drivers seat to take control of having a part in figuring out the solution. It does not matter what events play out, you don’t have to be a part of because you gave away your power.

You like being innocent.

To put it bluntly, we like people feeling sorry for us. It feels good. It feels good to have someone say, “You are right. You don’t have control over this situation. You don’t have to do anything about it. You just have to sit there and take it.” We like being the innocent victim in the story of our lives. When we make an excuse for ourselves, it gives us a reason of why we are where we are, why we are not doing any thing wrong, or why the things we are doing are justified. When what we are doing is justified we feel validated in our reasonings.

It means having to put some serious work and effort in.

The alternative to making excuses and stewing in our misery, is actually doing the work. And sometimes that can be flippin hard. And scary! Doing the work can come down to two things. Charging through the storm or getting out of the storm all together. Each being difficult in its own respect.

Are you stuck in a job or relationship that does not serve you? You either figure out a way to make it work or get out of it. Doing nothing leaves you in a state of paralysis, unable to move forward or back. In some moments this is what we need, but when it becomes chronic, we close ourselves off to potential solutions.

You never learn anything.

When we make excuses and never take action we never give ourselves a chance to learn or grow in anyway. Shawn Achor, a positive psychology expert says “Happiness is the joy we feel moving towards our full potential.” Feeling like we are always being done wrong or feeling like everything in the world is happening to us, not for us, takes away some of our greatest gifts.

Our ability to challenge ourselves, be resilient, learn and grow towards our full potential.  And to be happy. Throwing our hands up in the air tells us that we do not have a say in our lives or control with our actions.

It takes credit away from others and makes it about yourself.

 Some people work really, really hard, whether it is in their career, in their relationships, or with healthy lifestyle. To say that someone is simply lucky or doesn’t work hard to get what they have is, not only making a huge assumptions, but it is taking away credit from hard work at its finest. Are some people blessed in certain areas in their life? Yea, I would say so. But breaking people down instead of building them up displays more insecurities on the discrediting end than anything.

How to gain personal freedom.

 

Assume Responsibility. 

Taking 100% responsibility for our actions is empowering. The next time you have a moment where you are down, upset, frustrated and want to put the blame on others, think about what control you have over your emotions and how you respond, before you think about what they are doing to you. Remember the entire world is not out to get you.

Track your excuses.

Is it okay to talk about pain, discontent, or stress?  Of course it is! Is it ok to talk about setbacks and struggles. Yes! But when it becomes constant, it begins to shape how you view yourself and taints the lens of how you view the world around. It strips you of control and never gives you the opportunity to learn anything. Start becoming aware of you excuses by using a subtle tracking system. Put a rubber band on one wrist and switch it every time you make an excuse. Keep a post it at your desk and tally every excuse you make.

Take action. Be a problem finder.

You do not need to find the ultimate solution to your problem immediately, but find the little things that lead to the cause of the problem.  What is no-sleep-disorders? Sometimes decisions and situations can be overwhelming and I totally get it.

One of my favorite ways to approach a problem is to think about it in this way. Even if you feel you cannot do something right now, or ever, if you could, how would you? Even if it seems too much to manage or completely out of reach, you still have the opportunity to think about how you would figure it out. And that is the beginning of personal responsibility and freedom.

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How to keep meal prep stress free and simple

Meal prepping is not for everyone but prepping in some form can help you relieve a whole lot of stress and make better decisions during the week.

I’ve been at both extremes, from having nothing prepped to having everything prepped for the week, and I can say from experience I am not a fan of either. Having nothing ready to go when I come home from a long work day is stressful but having two day old soggy vegetables in tupperware is far from appetizing. And I am a big believer that you should always enjoy the food you eat.

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I want to give you insight on how I found an in between way of meal prep, moderation meal prep if you will, that takes loads of stress off me during the week. Especially when the last thing I feel like doing is cooking or stopping to get food after work.

On Sunday, I prep part of my food at the same time. Here is an exact example from this past weekend.

I baked some chicken in the oven, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

I was feeling extra motivated and decided to make pork stuffed cabbage, that cooked in the crock pot all day long, to eat Sunday night. Simply rolling the pork mixture in cabbage leaves is enough to make me feel a bit fancy, as you can see by the top 3 images. You can get the recipe here.

When that was in the crock pot I chopped up the cabbage because I knew if I didn’t do it then, it would not get done.

While my cutting bored was out I imperfectly diced a couple sweet potatoes to easily pop in the oven to bake later in the week.

By this time my chicken was out of the oven and cooled. I diced it up and put it in a glass tupperware for salads, sandwiches, rice and chicken bowls, etc.

There ya go! I plan to have the left over pork/cabbage tonight and I will simply roast my sweet potatoes in the oven prior. Tomorrow I will will probably use some chicken for lunch, in form of a rice bowl, and for dinner in form of a salad.

For later in the week I also have:

  • frozen turkey burgers
  • already shredded brussel sprouts to roast
  • microwavable broccoli that I can add some butter and seasonings too
  • pre cooked brown rice
  • eggs for an egg and veggie scramble
  • protein bars, fruit, nuts, and chocolate for snacks.

I keep my prepping and cooking time to a minimum and also have back up options for quick go-to meals. If you find you are constantly making poor food choices, I highly encourage you to give it a try and find out what works for you. This is all part of my philosophy with YOUR Meal Design, which is a 30+ page guidebook to creating your,own, unique, rules, when it comes to eating, coming next month.To receive more information and to be notified when it is available, get on the wait list here.

Also, I would love to hear from you! Do you meal prep? And if so what is your plan?

 

5 morning rituals to boost your self confidence

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A random Saturday morning walk to get coffee. I <3 coffee!

From the moment our eyes open, we set our intentions for the day. More often than not the first though upon waking is in a form of not enough. It starts with not enough sleep and then translates to not enough time, money, workouts, or ultimately, not feeling good enough with who we are.

Whether we realize it or not, our morning thoughts and actions can help set the tone for the day, feeling scarce for everything or abundant with gratitude. I use to give myself 45 minutes to get ready for work and hit the snooze button 2 times minimum. I would rush to get dressed, inhale my coffee and breakfast and make it to work with minutes to spare. I didn’t have “enough” time. I was rushed. I was stressed. I felt busy but never productive.

It wasn’t until I realization that I had the power to *create* time for myself being rushed and stressed is more a mental game and perception. Once I started to create time I realized that I had more control than I thought, to create other meaningful parts of my life. Taking that kind of responsibility for yourself is pretty eye opening and empowering.

Over the past few years I have developed a morning ritual, that I simply love. It starts my day with thoughts that tell me I am enough, I have enough, and today will be enough. Here are 5 rituals I use most mornings of the week.

Side note: Don’t stress yourself out trying to do all 5 or try to mimic what I do. Create your, own, unique, rules when it comes to your morning ritual and try to spend just a few minutes implementing one thing and see how it changes your day. You can only do your best and your best may vary day to day.

Make your bed.

I love this advice from this commencement speech you can check out here.

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

Gratitude Journal

Positive psychology science is actually showing that journaling about 3 things each morning you are grateful for can have a positive impact on your outlook. Try this for 21 days and try to make each day different. The first few days will probably be obvious, as you will probably be grateful for you home, spouse, mom, children etc. After a few days you will probably have to dig a little deeper but that is when the true appreciation comes out. You find you may be grateful for legs that move and money to buy food.

Morning coffee, tea, or meal.

I looooove my morning cup of coffee. In fact, I get excited to go to bed at night so I have my coffee in the morning. I do my best to sip it and enjoy it, though I should probably try not to inhale it. But hey, who’s to say what I should and should not do. Prepare a yummy breakfast, cup of coffee or tea, and take a few minutes to sip it. I laugh because my sister with two young kids say her cup of coffee lasts all morning. And you know what, that is totally fine, but just make sure you enjoy each sip even if they are 30 minutes apart. That morning cup of coffee is still her morning ritual.

Affirmations.

I want your ego to come out on this one. Write down a couple different positive affirmations on a notecard or post it and read them to yourself in the morning.

I will eat foods that nourish my body and mind.

I look amazing and have a strong and healthy body.

I am grateful for where I am right now while striving to get better.

I make mistakes but I am only human and mistakes are actually an amazing part of life because they help me learn.

My body does not define me.

Wake up with extra time.

This one can be tough but if you can wake up even 5 extra minutes just do eat your meal slowly, take a longer shower, or journal, you can begin to create more time in your routine. Once you realize you have the power to create in all areas of you life, you will build more confidence in what you do and who you are. And the cool thing is, the cycle repeats itself.

5 Simple (1 fancy) Ways to Eat Your Eggs

Eggs are such as staple in my diet and I eat them at all times of the day. I don’t fear the egg yolk and the cholesterol as it is not deemed as bad as it once thought was. However I simply choose whether or not to eat the yolk based on the carbs, protein and fat content in each meal. One of my own, unique, rules when it come to eating is that I feel the best when I have a mixture of all three (carbs, protein, and fats) in most meals. I have put together 5 simple (well one way is what I call fancy) ways to eat your eggs.

eggs

 

Breakfast burrito. 

Saute any combo of veggies in a pan until they are almost done. Add 2 whole eggs and 1 egg white and scramble the entire mixture together. Add a breakfast meat of your choice if you desire. Wrap in a tortilla and serve. Top with hot sauce or avocado if desired.

Back to basics eggs and toast.

Don’t be disappointed with this one as it can be a great meal anytime of day. I use 2 slices of ezekiel bread and 2 whole eggs. The whole meal is only 300 calories and leaves me full for hours. This takes almost exactly 5 minutes to make in the morning.

Peanut butter oats.

Cook 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal, 1/2 cup of liquid egg whites, 1/2 cup of water in a microwave on high for two minutes. (Watch for overflowing).  Let cool and add a tbsp of peanut butter. It is like a mini oatmeal bake! And the topping options are endless. Fruit, nuts, coconut shreds. Get creative!

Hard boiled eggs and fruit. (Cook eggs in muffin tin).

Set oven to 325. Place an egg in each individual muffin tin. Set timer for 30 minutes and cook. Place the eggs in cool water for 10 minutes to cool down. You need a little more time for this one but at least you do not have to watch a pot of boiling water.

Choose fruit of your choice and you are good to go!

Ok its time to get fancy.  I am not a huge fan of cooking as you can tell by my simple recipes but I love this recipe if I have a little more time and effort that I want to put into breakfast, or dinner. Check it out!

 Mushroom and Spinach Fritta

Ingredients:

2 whole eggs

4 egg whites

1/2 onion diced

2 cups  baby spinach

1 cup of sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup of feta or parmesan cheese

3 tbsp coconut oil

1 sprig oregano, rosemary or thyme

Pinch of cayenne pepper if you like a little heat

 Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a medium skillet and brown your mushrooms.  Add the onions and cook until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute and then add the spinach. It will seem like a lot of spinach but it will wilt as it cooks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then remove from heat.
  • Whisk egg and egg whites together in a small bow and add cayenne pepper if desired.
  • In a large skillet heat oil on low heat.
  • Add the spinach mixture and spread evenly. Then add the egg mixture.
  • Cook until it starts to set.
  • Mix together your herbs and cheese of choice and sprinkle the mixture on top.
  • Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 12 minutes or until the middle is firm.
  • Remove and let cool.
  • Slice and serve with avocado slices or a side of fruit or toast.

Enjoy and I would love to hear your favorite egg recipes!

Yes you can! Do push ups and pull ups when you can’t do them

Pull ups and push ups are not easy by any means, but they are such great staples in any workout routine, as some of the best upper body and core exercises around. Pull ups work primarily the back, rear delts, biceps and forearms and the push ups work the chest, shoulders and triceps. Both work the core more than you might guess.

But what if you can’t do a full push up or pull up? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

Pull ups

Level 1 – Pre gaming. Before the bar.

If you work out at a gym I will recommend two machines for you to use. The assisted pull up machine and the lat pulldown  machine.

Start by using a weight that is challenging for 10 repetitions. For your next set bump up the weight, but shoot for 7-8 repetitions, and for the last set bump up the weight and shoot for as many as you  can up to 4-5. Allow yourself at least a full minute of rest in between each set and keep the movement slow and in control. Note. With the assisted pull up machine you will start with more resistance to help you, and lessen the resistance for each set to make it more challenging.

Level 2 –  Head to the bar.

If you have access to a large workout band, you can use this for assistance. This is a great way to get use to hanging on the bar with your body more freely suspended. Depending on the band you use, will determine how many reps you will be able to do. Start with a band that let’s you do 6-8 reps.

Level 3 – At the bar.

If you are working your way toward a full pull up start by seeing if you can hang from the bar with straight arms to see if you at least have the grip strength to hold on. If that is the case jumping up and holding your chin over the bar for 15 seconds (the first part of the pull up video demos this). Try doing this for 2-3 sets, 2-3 times a week. I use a neutral grip, like shown in the video, or a chin up grip, with the palms facing me.

Once you have conquered the hang, try working the eccentric part of the pull up, the letdown, as shown in the pull up video attached. Start anywhere from 1-3 sets of 3-5 reps. Working the eccentric movement of the pull up is very challenging and puts a large demand on your muscles, so you will want to start small and gradually progress.

 

Push Ups

Level 1 – Start high.

A great option to practice having the body in a full push up position is using an incline push up. At home you can use a counter top or back of a couch. At the gym you can use the smiths machine or set a bar low in the squat rack. This helps you start to develop the position and core strength of a full push up. Start for 3 sets of 10-15.

Level 2 – Make your way to the ground.

Doing a kneeling push up on the ground is also a great, do anywhere exercise, to build strength. Make sure you are in a straight line from the shoulders to the knees and the butt is not in the air, nor does it sag to the ground. Start for 3 sets of anywhere from 5 to 10. Go slow and try to go down to a hover over the ground to make it more challenging. 

Level 3 – High, low.

The eccentric push up. I love, love, love, this variation demonstrated in the video below, to work towards a full push up. We are stronger eccentrically, meaning we are stronger on the lowering part or release of our exercises. Like the video shows start in a full push up position and lower the body to the ground keeping the core braced and everything in line. Let the body completely rest on the ground. Press back up in a kneeling push up position. Do 3 sets of 3-5 to start.

How to put this all together.

Add a little pull up, push up practice to the beginning of your normal workout.

Pick one push up variation that challenges you. If the incline push up is too easy, choose kneeling, if kneeling is too easy choose the eccentric push up and if that is too easy start doing a full push up.

Same thing for the pull up. Choose the assisted pull up or one of the bar pull up variations. Perform the designated number of reps and sets mentioned in this post.

For example.

3 x 10 Kneeling pushups  –  3×12,10,8 Assisted pull ups

3×3-5 eccentric push ups  –  3×3-5 letdowns

3×3-5 full pushups – 3×3-5 letdowns

As always let me know if you have any questions on the post on my Facebook page. I love to help people get strong!

To protein shake or not

Just like all other foods, protein shakes get quite the debate on whether they are healthy or not, and whether we should or should not use them. Here is a quick breakdown about protein shakes and some insights on why you may or may not want to use them. Check it out and then decide for yourself.

What are protein powders?

Protein powders are dietary supplements that contain higher amounts of protein. Some contain a mix a carbohydrates and small amounts of fat, but still have a moderate to high source of protein.

Why would I want to use them?

Protein powders can be an easy way to add extra protein to your diet, are highly convenient and can be a good way to balance a smoothie/shake to be a meal or snack. A smoothie made with a liquid and fruit will not help with satiety as much it would if there was additional protein added.

You can also take them anywhere without worrying about them having to spoil. For example, when you are on the run, it is easier to drink a quick shake then break out a chicken breast.

Soy, hemp, rice, egg, whey? What’s the difference?

Precision Nutrition gives you the best quick breakdown of the different types of powders below. I took the following breakdown from their website and be sure to check it out as they have tons of great resources!

Rice protein – Hypo-allergenic, gluten-free, neutral taste, economical. 100% plant-based. May be derived from genetically modified rice.

Egg protein – Fat-free, concentrated amounts of essential amino acids. May upset stomach.

Milk protein (includes whey, casein, calcium caseinate, and milk protein blends) – May enhance immunity, high in BCAAs, contains lactose, highly studied. May cause digestive upset or other symptoms in people sensitive to whey, casein, and/or lactose.

Pea protein – No saturated fat or cholesterol, highly digestible, hypo-allergenic, economical. Rich in lysine, arginine and glutamine. 100% plant-based.

Hemp protein – Provides omega-3 fats, most forms provide fibre, free of trypsin inhibitors, can get in raw form, high in arginine and histidine. 100% plant-based.

Soy protein – May have benefits for cardiovascular disease, contains some anti-nutrients, may be derived from genetically modified soy. 100% plant-based.

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Why would I choose one over the other?

As you can see, some of the proteins are 100% plant based which may make your decision based on food preferences. Some protein powders can also be more difficult on the stomach and harder to digest.

Some protein powders may be used as a meal replacement, as they typically have a little more fat and more carbs.

Some protein powders may be used to get additional protein in strictly, while some have carbohydrates which may be a better choice post workout as you want to get in a balance of protein and carbs.

But protein powders are not real food?

Protein powders are not whole food, though they are derived from whole food sources.  There is often a great debate that powders are loaded with chemicals and additives, are completely unhealthily and not “real food.” The thing is “real food” can be different from one person to the next.

Here is my .02.

There are many things that could potentially be unhealthy from certain foods, additives, or drinking from plastic bottles. When it comes to protein powder, decide if you like it and if your body reacts well to it. I find protein powder to be a great quick post workout meal. Liquid post workout is often recommended to get into your system quicker.

However, you will not find me with a protein shaker as I always have to use a blender and add fruit, almond milk and lots of ice. I whip up this tasty treat that to me, tastes like a chocolate milkshake.

1 scoop of chocolate protein powder ( I use Shakeology, Dynamtize or VegaSport depending on what I have around)

8-10 oz of almond milk

1/2 banana

Handful of frozen cherries

1 Tbsp of cocoa powder & 1 tbsp of PB2

Lots of ice.

Blend for a minute and eat with a spoon.

Like everything else, decide if protein powder FITs your eating and fitness philosophy .

6 Food and Fitness Realizations That Changed My Life


The beauty of the fitness journey is we are always learning and always adjusting. I think about how I use to eat and workout, even just 4 years ago, and it has completely shifted.  My new rules of food and fitness serve me so much better and have changed the way I approach eat and every day.

Old: All or nothing.

I use to either eat super strict or not care. Neither one made me feel good physically or emotionally.

New: Moderation. 

It doesn’t matter whether I am at home, out to dinner, on vacation, or at a friends house, I eat the same. I make healthy choices with strategic indulgences. Deprivation doesn’t feel good but neither does being super stuffed. I could end up at  Jack In The Box and still make a healthy choice. I think. 😉

Old: What the scale says.

Oh that scale. I really don’t think it counts for a whole lot if it is within a few pounds. There is nothing more meaningless then stepping on a scale every day and judging your progress or self worth by a pound or two.

New: How my clothes fit.

How clothes fit are a much better indicator or if you are gaining or losing fat/weight. When using a scale you could be down a few pounds from a night of drinking. Healthy? Not necessarily. Or up a few pounds from extra sodium in last nights meal. Unhealthy. Not necessarily. Of course the scale can be a good indication and progress for some, but it is not the only one, and should definitely not be used to fi-kasino-online.

Old: Keep food out of the house.

I use to keep tempting food out the house and this can be a great initial tool to use when practicing moderation. The trouble is, unless you confine yourself to your home, you will be faced with tempting foods at some point. I had a phase where I just said no to things like ice cream in the house. Then I went crazy and said no to peanut butter in the house. I was scared that one bite would turn into the whole thing.

New: Keep food in the house and practice self trust.

Here is what I did. I would *practice* by keeping those mini Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or individual peanut butter packets in the house. It was there in case I wanted it but not so stressful that I would eat all of it. Once I developed that self trust, I introduced those foods back into the house without feeling the stress that I might eat it all.

Old: Eating on a clock.

Eating 6-8 meals is a modern way of eating. We train ourselves to to be hungry 6-8 times a day.  I did follow this strategy for quite a few years, and I think it can be helpful for some people, but for me it became stressful and I was always hungry. I pack my lunch almost everyday and trying to shove 6 meals into my lunch bag was not fun or convenient.

New: Listening to my body.

I still eat 4-5 meals/snacks a day but I do practice with the cues my body gives me. Am I hungry? Am I craving something? Am I thirsty? If I am not super hungry first thing in the morning I don’t make myself eat. But because I know my body, I will make sure I eat within a few hours so I do not get cranky by lunch time.

Old: Working out to burn calories (lots of running and long workouts).

I gotta tell you. I am not a fan of heart rate monitors that boast 900 calorie sweat sessions. Often the more you burn, burn, burn, the more you eat, eat, eat. Tons of calories burned is not the answer to your goals.

New: Working out to build lean muscle.

My workouts are short and sweet now and consist of three days a week of weight lifting, one day of intervals, one yoga or pilates session, and lots of dog walking. I would rather preserve my lean muscle and manage my appetite, then be a slave to calories burned.

Old: Never letting myself get hungry

I use to NEVER let myself get hungry. With the slightest acknowledge from body that I might need a calorie and  I would immediately grab a snack.  I would fear I would eat everything in sight if I got too hungry.

New: Letting myself get hungry

It is ok to let yourself get a little hungry. I have, over time, developed trust with myself that I will make good choices, even when I am starving. And when I am a little hungry, food tastes better. When I eat not to let myself get hungry, it is not as enjoyable.

These practice may take time to develop, but I would love to hear from you, if any of these resonate, or if you have any old versus new rules that you use.