Pelvic Floor Function through Squats, Not Kegels

Women are consistently told to “do your kegels” and how they are beneficial for the proper function of the pelvic floor.  Well even through my 3 pregnancies and beyond, I don’t always remember to do them.  Here is a great article by Nicole … Continue reading

Back to School Motivation

back_to_schoolI talk plenty of talk about being consistent with exercise in order to get or stay fit and healthy and I believe it’s important to also ‘walk the walk.’  Even as a fitness professional, I need plenty of motivation to stay consistent.  (For a little window into my world, the more I post about it, the more I need it myself :P)

I use a tracking calendar. Over the summer, my consistency was fair at best. I stayed active and had plenty of fun enjoying the beautiful Colorado summer with my family however, where I was lacking was my strength training and any version of intense workouts.

So here we are at back to school time. I have 2 school age kids and one in pre-K 3 times a week.  They have a consistent schedule (consistently busy when football and gymnastics are in the picture) so I need a more consistent commitment.  My goal is to increase my strength and intensity workouts and to work for 4-5 stickers on my calendar per week.

Feel free to join me as I plan on posting my workouts AND weekly dinner plans.

 

How to Keep the Exercise Habit

Kindergarten-Style Reinforcementcalendar tracker

We are now one month into the new year and it is the time when most resolutions begin to fade.  This is the time to find your motivation, to find your inspiration and to learn how to bribe yourself.

My favorite trick to keeping an exercise habit is exactly what drives toddlers to potty training success and motivates kindergarteners to a candy reward…STICKERS!  Simple and easy.  Pick the habit you want to reinforce (exercise, eating well, not biting your nails, whatever) and go pick out a fun calendar and stickers.  In my case, I pester my friend Neyzza in Puerto Rico to send me the latest wall calendar so I can dream about moving back, and then I use my sparkle smiley face stickers to track each time I workout.

My secret is posting the calendar on the wall by your toilet.  It sounds silly, but it is where you go the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.  It is a visible reminder that you made a goal and you are going to keep it.

Next, you set a goal and think of your best reward.  For me, my goal is to average 4 workouts per week.  My reward rotates between getting a massage, a new workout top, or a date night with my husband.  My Trainer Jill has some great tips on rewards and tracking even for those with more detailed goals.

Now you can hold yourself responsible!  If you get sick, feel low on energy, feel your pants are getting tight then look at your calendar.  You probably don’t see many stickers.  When you see a month full of stickers, you should feel healthy, proud and full of energy.  Keeping an exercise habit (or any habit for that matter) is easier when you keep it SIMPLE, FUN & SUPPORTIVE.

My Favorite Cardio Training

BFL Cardio IntervalsI chose Body for Life Cardio training this morning on the treadmill.  I love this interval style training!  Mostly because it only requires 20 minutes of cardio :), BUT it also helps keep cardio workouts from getting boring.

My first 2 interval groups remained at 3.8 MPH, and I increased the incline from 4.0 to 8.0% to get higher intensity.  The last 2 groups I actually JOGGED from 4.5-6.0 MPH (I know I’m slow so don’t knock it) while keeping the incline at 2%.  Lots of stretching afterwards as I know my running gate is not a technical masterpiece.

BFL recommends this cardio workout 3x/week and I have to say, when I am vigilant about it, I am quite pleased with the results.

Be Open to Changes

Yoga Class at a GymMy 2013 is off to a great start when it comes to getting back to consistent exercise.  I’ve been very pleased with the Yoga Flow class offered on Thursday mornings at our nearby rec center and I do my best to regularly attend.  Karen is the regular instructor and is a great teacher who progresses the flow so there is time to warm up the muscles (and in CO winter, it is essential!) and she challenges everyone in many poses that encourage stability and strength.

Even in a flow class like Karen’s where she has the freedom to change things up a bit, there is a pattern that develops and a comfort in the familiar teaching style.  This happens in all aspects of fitness and especially group classes.  We are so happy to be consistent with our exercise routine that we don’t realize the stagnation that develops.  So sometimes, it’s really nice to have a different instructor.  Like this morning when there was a substitute instructor for our yoga class and she was great!

Are you open to a change in your routine?  Here’s a test:  ask yourself, what is your first thought when a substitute teacher walks in to teach your habitual exercise class?  Do you groan silently and try and figure out a graceful exit?  Are you grumpy that no one told you about the instructor change?  Yes?  I used to be that way.  It drove me crazy to have to adjust my routine, and even more so, my mental adjustment to a new voice, new pattern, new pace, etc.

I used to be that way until I let go.  I let go of the control and opened up to what new things I might learn from a new instructor.  I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.  Great things come from changing your perspective, even in a small change of a group exercise instructor.  Granted, there are those times when the new instructor isn’t that great or the different style pushes you too far or not enough.  It is important to see these times as when you learned what you DON’T like.  But you still learned something right?

So next time you get an unexpected change in your exercise routine, take a moment and be open to what you might learn about yourself.

Pizza Happens

On the journey of health and happiness, you can learn a lot about yourself.  In my journey, I have learned that it is a constant journey.  Optimal health takes consistency and holding on through the ups and downs, while happiness often comes from letting go.

I tightened the reins a couple weeks ago with my eating and workout routines and I already feel like I am back on track (which drives my husband crazy).  However, I want to make sure everybody knows that “back on track” for me does not mean perfect.  Pizza happens…donuts happen…life happens.

This is where the happiness component comes into play.  This is where you must let go when you fall off the wagon.  Don’t let the little things get you down.  If you have a busy day and ordering pizza makes things simpler, then order pizza.  (Don’t eat the whole pizza!)  If your son’s youth football team just won the super bowl (woo hoo!!) and the after-party includes pizza and cupcakes, then CELEBRATE with him!  And then work your butt off on your next workout.

Enjoy your journey!

What is Helathy Eating?

When I wrote about Tightening the Reins, my nutrition was obviously veering off course, hence the tight jeans.  The good thing about being in the fitness industry is that I have the education, and the experience, to know what works for ME and MY BODY.  I am not a registered dietitian nor with enough knowledge to speak about specific dietary needs or allergies.  However, there are general guidelines that work for most regarding weight loss.  And when it comes down to finding a visible six-pack or losing the last 5 pounds, the main thing to remember is every BODY is different.  You need to find out what works best for you.

When it comes to a healthy diet, I wave the flag of “Everything in Moderation.”  There are too many special diets and extreme ways of eating to keep track of, and pulling them off with kids and husbands is often impossible.  Plus, there is really tasty food out there and if I go too long without a donut or a margarita my personality changes, and not in a good way.

My definition of healthy eating is fairly simple.  First, portion control; don’t think eating a full size bag of fat free pretzels is healthy eating because all calories matter.  Next, is making sure you eat enough protein.  Protein helps build muscle and increasing muscle mass helps increase the metabolism.  So I make sure protein is a main component in my major meals AND my snacks.  Finally, eat plenty of vegetables and throw in some fruit here and there.  Vegetables of all colors provide many benefits as do fruits, however it is important to watch the fruit intake because of the sugar calories.

So far this week I have gotten back on track with my eating quite well.  The main distractions are the bags of Halloween candy my kids have.  I am such a sweet tooth!   But to give you a window into my healthy eating, here are some of my ‘go-to’ meals and snacks.  I am a creature of habit when I put my mind to it.

Breakfast: choose one

  • 1 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal (great protein & fiber) with skim milk and frozen raspberries or blueberries
  • 1/3 cup oatmeal (measured dry) with skim milk and a few raisins, or
  • 2 eggs + 1 white over wheat toast or English muffin.

Lunch:

  • ½ can solid white tuna on wheat bread (sometimes I add pepper jack cheese slice)
  • Sliced turkey or pastrami (costco’s is yummy) on wheat bread with pepper jack cheese & lettuce

Snacks/Mid-Meals:

  • Shredded Mini Wheats with 2% milk (the only cereals I have to have 2% with…weird huh?)
  • Muscle Milk Light premade protein shake
  • Protein smoothie – skim milk or lite cranberry juice with 1/3 cup frozen fruit and portion protein powder
  • Apple and a string cheese

Dinner:

The general rule I follow is to have a lean protein with a starch and a vegetable that all fits on a salad plate.  If you search this blog for recipes, I have posted some favorites.  Or feel free to request a new recipe post.

There are many tasty recipes from the Eating for Life cookbook.  I have adapted some of them to include fresher ingredients since my cooking skills have improved.

Do you have a great healthy snack that includes protein?  Feel free to share!

To Exercise or Not To Exercise, THAT is the Question!

I was battling a head cold this week and it was frustrating to say the least.  It was one of those annoying colds that couldn’t decide to go full force or go away.

My theory on seasonal illnesses is to try exercising first.  If my energy takes a nose dive during or after the workout, then rest is more valuable.  But if my energy stays the same or gets better then I fight to get my workouts in.

This cold was bi-polar.  On Monday I did a 45 min treadmill/BOSU cardio workout then took the dog for a 45 min walk.  I felt pretty good during, but the 30 lb toddler on my back for the walk might have put me over the edge because Tuesday and Wednesday I was beat!   So I took a pass on exercising until Thursday when I went to yoga and felt great afterwards.  Yesterday I went to my trusty barre class at The Ballet Physique and got a great leg and bum workout without putting me back to bed.

The moral of my story is that vigorous cardio was no good for me but strength and stretch workouts were helpful.  Therefore, it is important not to resign to being sick and simply curl up in bed to wait it out (as tempting as that is.)  Next time you feel something coming on, try a couple different exercise tactics, it just might help bring you out of it.

So I hope to enlighten you next week with some great workouts and healthy recipes now that my cold is on its way out!

Tightening the Reins

Well it seems that it is time for a little reworking of my diet and exercise routine.  I lead a fairly healthy lifestyle, but I like to eat as much as anyone and I often choose extra sleep over an early workout.  Sometimes I am consistent with exercise and sometimes I am consistent with healthy eating.  Every now and then they actually match up the two and I consistently feel great.

Lately though, there is a suspicious tightening of my jeans.  There is extra body stiffness in the mornings.  And I just so happen to be fighting off a head cold.  These three things occurring at once can only mean that I have let my routine slip.

This is a strangely predictable cycle for me.  I sort of like it though.  It keeps me from getting bored with my routine and I search out new and different ways to stay fit.  On the unhealthy side of this cycle I search out new and excellent baking recipes.

So here I am tightening the reins of my fitness routine.  My goal is to be more consistent with workouts, both strength and cardio.  I will also get back to a more strict 6 days of clean eating while always maintaining a free eating day.    I’m sure there might be someone else out there that cycles in and out of fitness like I do, so if you would like, please join me.  I will be sharing where I make changes and what I am eating.  Partly, I share this to make me accountable for my workouts and mostly because when I (and anyone for that matter) record what I am eating, I tend to not cheat as much.

Please feel free to share your workouts and healthy meals.  Even share with me as we backtrack a bit; reality happens.  And we’re off!