Sleep — The Missing Link

It’s a well-known fact to those of us in the fitness profession that sleep is a key element in achievement of reducing fact in the body (“losing weight” as most of you refer to it). Unfortunately, this fact is little acknowledged, not to mention followed, by most people. Sleep is a commodity in our fast-paced, over-worked, over-committed society. While many of us can function quite well with little sleep (especially you Moms), the detrimental effects are huge, yet hugely ignored.

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With too little sleep comes a myriad of issues ranging from depression, elevated stress levels on organs, higher blood pressure, reduced sex drive, inability to concentrate, and deteriorated memory, just to name a few. But the biggie is obesity. According to studies by medical professionals, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30% more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours. Research has shown a direct link between sleep and the peptides that our brain stimulates to regulate appetite. Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite, it also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, especially at night when the body is less likely to burn those calories.   Even kids are suffering from less sleep thus resulting in the increase of childhood obesity.  The demands of school and after-school activities are leaving kids less time for sleep.

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There is also a vicious cycle that occurs in obese people who suffer from sleep apnea. Even if they allow enough time to sleep, their sleep is disrupted multiple times each night which results in less quality sleep time. Thus their bodies retain more fat, increasing the sleep apnea, and the cycle continues until they are on assisted breathing devices. Sadly, I have a hard time convincing most people that if they follow my recommended course of exercise, healthy consistent nutrition, and proper sleep habits, they could find themselves off the breathing mask within months (and in many cases off their high blood pressure meds too)!  But I have personally helped many clients to do just that.

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So here are a few tips that can help improve the increase amount of time you sleep:

Prioritize: Make sleep as important as all the other responsibilities you have in your life. Schedule 8 hours of sleep just like you schedule everything from getting to work on time to getting to the gym (you do schedule your exercise time too, right?).

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Decompress: Many of us need a little while to decompress before we can fall asleep. Schedule about 30-minutes prior to your targeted sleep time and do some yoga-like stretches, read a book, watch TV (as long as the show is not too dramatic or stimulating), or write in a journal (as noted below).

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Journaling: If you’re like me, sometimes the issue with falling asleep (or staying asleep) is an over-active brain, sorting and re-sorting tasks or issues needing to be dealt with. If you spend a few minutes prior to sleep jotting down the tasks for the next day(s), or writing about issues weighing on you, or your day and feelings, the brain will relax and sleep will be easier.

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Time your Nutrition: You mustn’t got to bed hungry, but conversely, you don’t want to have just finished a meal. Make sure your last meal or snack is at least one hour prior, but not more than two hours before bedtime.

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It’s getting close to that “resolutions” time of year, I hope all of you seeking to change your body’s condition, add “getting more sleep” to your resolution of losing fat and getting into shape. It is essential to your success.

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Dear Ariana

Today I thought I would do a little “Dear Abby” and share some of the emails I have received lately. I choose three, which represent the most common questions I am asked:

“I’ve been eating very healthy and working out for about six months now, but a lot of my friends and family say I workout too much and eat too crazy. How do you know if you’re doing too much? How much time should I devote to my workouts, and can I ever treat myself to junk food?

      ~Melissa F.

If you’ve followed my blog and Facebook pages, you know my motto is everything in moderation. Unless you’re training for a sports-specific goal, the average amount of time spent on your fitness goals should be no more than 30-60 minutes a day, with at least one day off every five days (ideally working out only five times a week). As for your nutrition, depriving yourself of something you love will only end up in you over-indulging on that very thing. I still enjoy wine and chocolate on a regular, but limited basis. Get your cake and eat it too, but only sporadically.tumblr_mc1uz9cgtJ1r6u05ro1_500

“It seems no matter what I do, how few calories I consume, and how much cardio I do, I can’t seem to lose the weight. I’ve had my thyroid checked, I’ve stopped eating gluten, sugar, and most carbs, but I still have tummy and thigh fat that won’t come off. I’m very frustrated!”

     ~Stephanie S.

This is the most common complaint I hear from my clients, and all aspects of my answer have already been stated in one article or another in this blog. So forgive me being repetitious but clearly it needs to be restated: successfully getting your body in shape, i.e., lowering your body fat, is not about excessive cardio, restricting and counting calories, or participating in fad diets or exercise regiments. Success comes from consistent, yet always challenging workout routines performed effectively (e.g., good form and correct pace) combined with eating enough of the correct type of calories (which does include carbs and healthy fats), getting enough rest, and managing your stress. If any one of these elements are not in place, you will not succeed. Lastly, I must remind you all again, that there is no way to “spot reduce” body fat. Just like you didn’t control where the fat deposited, you cannot control what body part reduces it first. You can only control your percentage of over-all body fat and the tone of ALL of your muscles!

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“In the last year I have alternated my workouts between P90X, Insanity, Cross Fit, Zumba, and Tabata. I feel bored and unenthusiastic and am finding it harder and harder to get the energy to workout. What can I do, what’s left?”

     ~Debbi, T.

I find that motivation is best renewed by successes. Therefore, I always recommend to my clients that they set small attainable goals and keep their focus on those goals. Then variety is less important than the challenge of the goal. For example, if you set a goal of being able to perform 25 burpees non-stop, and 20 plyo-box jumps at 24″ height – it may take you one week, it may take two months, but your focus will remain on something outside of your body’s shape.

Your workouts will consist of various exercises all geared to increase your stamina, agility, and core strength. Your enthusiasm will maintain throughout the goal period because each day/week you’ll get a little closer to success. Imagine how “fueled” your enthusiasm would be if you discovered after barely being able to complete five burpees, you could now do 10 or 15, on your way to your goal of 25.  At the end of one year where you’ve continued to achieve your goals, not only will your body be in tip-top shape, but your enthusiasm will anot have waned, and your motivation will keep you always moving forward.

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If any of these questions resonate with you, I  hope my answers offer some helpful guidance.  If you wish to ask me for any other advice, please feel free to contact me.  Ariana@danelifefitness.com  Now go workout!

Food Substitutions 101

Today I wanted to clear up a bit of nutrition confusion. There are two types of “substitutes” when it comes to food, one is good, one is not. Good substitutes help you cut saturated fats, sugars, and processed chemicals in place of healthier choices that still taste great (or at least do not alter the taste significantly). Bad substitutes take out food choices that society has inappropriately deemed “bad” and offered man-made, chemically altered choices that are, in actuality, worse for you. Herein I will try to dispel fact from fiction and clarify which substitutes you should take advantage of.

Bad Substitutes:

All synthetic sweeteners: Splenda, Sweet ‘n Low, Saccharine, etc. Yes, they are lower in calories, and maybe better in avoiding tooth decay, but they are created in such a chemically treated way that your body simply doesn’t know what to do with the ingredients (except to possibly turn excessive amounts into cancer cells).

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GMO foods: Ah those lovely commercials from the American Corn Growers telling us that corn syrup is as harmless as maple syrup. Well let’s see, first you take corn that has been genetically modified to grow bigger and faster (same is done with our wheat and soy), then you heat it and break it down into a sugary syrup that has no nutritional value, and because of they way it is handled from lab to kitchen, your body once again finds it to be a foreign matter that after a while, your system will attack.

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“Low Fat”, “Lite,” “Skinny” brands:  these tend to have an overabundance of sugar (or sugar substitutes) and salts, added in to make these less “fat” foods still taste good.

Vegetarian Products featuring “textured vegetable protein”: take GMO wheat-gluten, and processed GMO soy and you’ve got textured vegetable protein. Here’s a link that will tell you a little more about this scary new food source.  Textured Vegetable Protein

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Good Substitutes:

Applesauce: when baking, all-natural applesauce (one with NO sugar added of any kind) will allow you to remove fatty oil while still maintaining moisture content. This will also allow you to reduce (or remove) any “refined sugar” involved in the recipe.

Avocado: forget the mayo on your sandwich – avocado is NOT a bad fat like you’ve been taught. It is full of vitamins, minerals, and a small amount of protein. Avocado replaces the creaminess of mayonnaise, without the saturated fat issues.

Organic Plain Fat Free Greek Yogurt: once again, when you need to have a creamy base (for dressings or sour cream replacements), yogurt is your way to go. High in calcium and protein, free of saturated fat and sugars. If you need to sweeten it, you can use honey, coconut sugar, real maple syrup, etc.

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Coconut products: coconut sugar and coconut oil are fabulous substitutions for sugars and oils, keeping your glycemic index low (essential for diabetics), no saturated fat, and a lower burning point than Olive Oil (so you can cook with them at a higher temperature).

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Quinoa & Quinoa Pasta: with more flavor and protein, and no gluten, Quinoa and Quinoa Pasta are great substitutes for white rice and traditional pasta. They also have no processed carbs that will turn into excess sugars in your system.

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Lemon instead of Salt:  Need a natural taste bud accent that is full of vitamin C and will not affect your high-blood pressure?  Lemon’s the ingredient for all of you who need to watch your sodium intake!

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Now these are just a few substitutes that are on the top of my list (and always in my fridge/pantry). Below is a link with more food substitution advice, and a chart with healthy baking substitution suggestions.  http://greatist.com/health/83-healthy-recipe-substitutions

Keep in mind that you might have to experiment with your favorite recipes before you get the taste exactly to your liking, but have fun, be brave and in the end you’ll be eating healthier choices, while still having your comfort foods.

 

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Does Thanksgiving Give You Anxiety? (Reprint)

In November of 2013 I published this article to help reduce some of my client’s anxiety over the impending Thanksgiving feast.  I thought it best to repeat it this week as Thanksgiving 2014 is just days away.  I have made a few more notes of nutritional advice as well.  Hope it helps a new group of food-worriers.

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Here it comes, the single most high-caloric, high sodium, high sugar meal of the year — Thanksgiving!

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It’s no wonder so many of my clients suffer anxiety over the this annual feast of thanks.  They worry about what to cook, how to cook, when to cook, what to eat, what NOT to eat, and the biggie … how much weight they’ll gain.   Okay, people, listen very closely to what I’m about to say….

DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!

The reality is that unless you gorge yourself on crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats for 48 hours non-stop, you’re not going to do that much damage in one day/meal. Now I know some of you look at the Thanksgiving feast as just that … crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats, but in reality for most the meal just isn’t that bad, especially if approached with moderation, and an accepting state of mind.  Stress puts more weight on than a meal, and accepting that this is just ONE higher calorie day out of many other days where you burn more than you consume, willl help you relax.

Again, the key is moderation.  Substitute healthier food choices when possible.  Eat smaller portions when your only choices (or your desire) is less quality and higher calories. Here’s a simple list of choices and/or substitutions that are quick and painless and can make the difference between a 1400 calorie meal and an 800 calorie meal.

TURKEY:  Eat the white meat, it’s packed with protein, and very lean. If you love the dark meat, just mix a small quantity in with the white meat.

MASHED POTATOES:  Substitute mashed sweet potatoes or yams. Use olive oil and non-fat milk instead of butter and cream. If your starch tradition also includes yams covered with marshmallows, consider nixing the marshmallows, but at the very least, keep the portion ridiculously small.

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STUFFING:  Hard to make substitutions here (gluten-free bread is one), but if you are a stuffing junkie – keep the quantity small.  I personally make small “stuffin’-muffins,” which allows for better portion control. (Rachel Ray has an excellent recipe, google it!)

GRAVY:  Another item that’s difficult to substitute in a way that’s healthy and tasty (and also must be altered for those looking to be gluten-free) , but if you keep it as a garnish and not a soup-sized portion, you’ll be alright.

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VEGGIES:  Skip the green bean-mushroom soup–Velveeta casserole, and just oven-roast your veggies with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper. You can then fill up with these powerful green veggies loaded with vitamins and fiber, helping you to eat smaller portions of the starchier side dishes.

BREAD:  Bottom line is rolls are a redundant waste of nutrition-less filler that you can definitely skip.  If you’re having stuffing there’s already enough of bread on your plate!

DESSERT: What can I tell you … desserts are where most people have the hugest weakness. I make organic apple pie casserole (with no refined sugar) topped with crumbles of gluten-free granola (therefore no crust), but if you have no healthy options, keep the portion size small and skip the ala mode (ice cream) in favor of a small dollup of home-made whipped cream (made with only a dash of maple syrup as the sweetener).

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ALCOHOL:  Being that I was grew up not far from Napa, California, wine is definitely a part of my thanksgiving feast. But I keep it to Red (which has less sugar content) and in general is healthier for you (if kept to moderation of course).

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In conclusion, don’t sweat Thanksgiving. It’s a lovely holiday where friends and family gather to eat, drink, catch up and hopefully share a few laughs. Keep your nutrition in check but don’t micro manage it, and on Friday, work out instead of or before shopping (although walking the mall is good for burning a few calories as well).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

 

A Shameless Plug

“Why should I work with a personal trainer?” “What does a trainer do that I can’t do on my own?” These are questions I am asked regularly. My answers are forth coming in this week’s blog, what I like to call my “shameless plug.”

Clearly, most people view personal trainers as a luxury. They are well aware of the benefits obtained by working with a trainer, but when economic times are tough, those benefits are viewed as luxury items. However, I feel there are some significant cost savings to working with a trainer, but you might not see them unless you look a little further down the road.

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The obvious benefits to working with a certified personal trainer are:

1.   One less thing to think about. That’s right, with a trainer there’s one less thing for you to think and worry about. We tell you what to do, how to do it, and make sure you’re doing it correctly. Thirty to sixty minutes later, your workout is done, your one step closer to your fitness goals, and all you had to do was show up.

2.  Motivator. When your motivation and fortitude fall short, your trainer offers you that much-needed emotional understanding and support to re-motivate you and keep you on track with your fitness goals.

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3.  Accountability. Someone to hold you accountable for the other 23 hours each day when you are supposed to eat sensibly, drink water, and move more. Accountability is one of the strongest motivators that keeps my clients on track.

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But here are some less obvious benefits that come with a personal trainer:

1.  Variety. One of the keys to success in your fitness goals is variety of exercises. This not only keeps your brain challenged (and not bored), but keeps your body from plateauing (one of the biggest culprits to one’s failure to achieve their fitness goals).

2.  Guilt. No, I’m not talking about feelings of guilt that you ate what you shouldn’t the night before (although that kind of guilt can serve as a huge motivator) – I’m referring to guilt about wasting money. When money is on the line, you’d be surprised how much more likely you are to show up and do the work.

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3.  Cost savings. The amount of money people waste annually on fad diets, current-rage exercise DVD’s, infomercial miracle exercise equipment is a at least double the amount it would cost you to work with me twice a week for one year. If you tallied up what you’ve spent over the last five years attempting to get into shape, I bet you’d find that you could have achieved your goal in half the time for half the money if you’d just worked with a trainer.

You mustn’t underestimate how much knowledge personal trainers have that you don’t. Every year we must complete several courses of Continuing Education to remain certified. This year I am studying three specialty courses: Nutrition for Women – Menopause & Beyond; Vegetarian Nutrition; and Carbohydrate Requirements for Exercise. Wouldn’t you like to have access to that kind of specific information without having to study it yourself?

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So as the year comes to a close and those new year’s resolutions rear up, consider making 2015 the year you work with a trainer and finally get your body where you want it.

One last note as to something I specifically offer clients that many trainers do not, is my website www.workouts247.com. In my efforts to accommodate my more advanced clients, or clients who are truly on a limited budget, I offer a site where I will customize a workout routine to any individual. This allows you, at a fraction of the cost of working with a trainer weekly, to receive a workout that takes the guess-work out of how to quickly achieve your fitness goals. If you already know proper (and safe) exercise forms and are self-motivated, but still need that extra push (via accountability and the aforementioned guilt motivation) then this option is a perfect fit.

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Don’t Be Fooled

To the untrained eye, lately it would seem that many fast-food chains are offering healthier food options for the growing population that cares about their nutrition. However, the catch here is that “healthier” may not be healthier — don’t be fooled by false advertising!

Take for example a comparison of McDonald’s Quarter Pounder vs. their “fresh menu” Chef Salad. While the salad is lower in calories, and fat and carbs, it’s higher by 15 grams in cholesterol and almost equal in sodium, yet significantly lower in protein. We won’t even get into the fact that the quality of said protein (both the beef and chicken) offered in these two options are sub-grade B and not something I would ever put in my body.

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Next lets look at the popular chain Tropical Smoothie (similar to Jamba Juice for those of you in state without this chain). They are currently advertising the following “limited offer” sandwiches as being healthy options: Chipolte Cranberry Turkey Club and Rustic Turkey & Apple Club. Both have over 650 calories, as much as 34 grams fat, 2043 sodium, and in the case of the cranberry choice, 22 grams sugar! If you look at their turkey bacon ranch on ciabatta sandwich (which looks and sounds less healthy than the two specials), it is lower across the board with only 576 calories 20 grams of fat, 1940 grams sodium, and only 8 grams of sugar. Once again, I’m not certain that the turkey being sliced and served is all that healthy, and clearly it comes packed with a whole lot of sodium, but I was amazed to find out that the bacon ranch sandwich was slightly healthier than the Rustic Rurkey & Apple Club!

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Following are a few helpful hints to help you manage your fast food choices. By making a few simple changes/choices to your orders you can make a huge difference in the nutritional breakdown of what you eat.

  • When ordering Subway or other deli chain sandwiches: ask them to scoop out the inside of the bread, leaving the outside of the bun to hold your veggies and deli meats. (This significantly lowers the carbs and sugars you would otherwise ingest from the bread.)

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  • Skip the diary – no mayo, no cheese. Use mustard and avocado to smooth out and spice up the flavor of your sandwich.

 

  • When faced with limited choices, opt for simple. The basic and unadorned McDonald’s hamburger is actually healthier for you than some of their salads and chicken and fish sandwiches.

 

  • Avoid obvious salts – bacon added to fast food sandwiches is a horrible addition as it is usually sub-par quality fatty pork, loaded with sodium, nitrates and fat. Same goes for pickle options (jalapenos, pickles, and pepperoncini). I am a lover of pickles so I’m not saying ditch them completely, but I used to put all three options listed above on my Subway sandwiches until I realized how much extra sodium I was ingesting. Now I pick just one.

 

  • Also, when it comes to sandwiches, avoid the traditional “Club Sandwich” wherein an extra piece of bread is inserted into the middle. If this is your only choice, take out that middle piece before you eat the rest. Removing that extra bread can seriously lower your ingested carbs, sodium, and sugars.

 

  • Remember, lighter fare doesn’t necessarily mean healthier.  Calories are not the only indicator to the healthy quality of food.  They may be lower in calories but higher in sodium and sugars both of which rob your body of nutrients, make digestion slower and less effective, and therefore turn more of what you eat into fat storage.

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  • Lastly, dink water vs. soda or fruit juices. Your best tool to battle the sodium bloat and digestive slow down from fast foods is water water water – keep your system flushed.

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So the next time you get suckered in to a menu offering “healthy” or “light” fare, remember to read between the lines – the nutritional breakdown lines that is.

The Burpee – Torture or Treasure

With the fitness industry focusing more and more on fast total body exercises that utilize and strengthen your core, it’s no wonder the Burpee has become the go-to exercise. The burpee consists of a series of exercises performed in rapid succession, ideally as a quick way to measure agility, coordination and strength. Yet, the burpee is one of the most dreaded exercise by many of my clients.

Most people hadn’t even heard of a burpee 15 years ago, unless they had military experience. The exercise was created in the 1930’s by American physiologist Royal H. Burpee as a quick and simple way to assess fitness. During World War II, the United States Armed Services adopted it as a way to assess the fitness level of recruits.

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The benefits of this exercise are obvious: it’s a quick total body workout which engages your cardio-vascular system and core (the transverse abdominous muscles that circle around from your lower belly to your delicate lower back) thereby enhancing endurance and strength. All large muscle groups are engaged (arms, chest, back, legs, glutes and abs), balance and stamina are created, and you need no equipment and very little space.

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The negative issues of this exercise are the same as the positive – IF you are out of shape. If your core is weak and/or you have a significant amount of belly fat, and if your cardio system taxes easily this exercise will be torture.  The biggest risk to a beginner is that they will not engage their core muscles and could spasm their lower back, irritate their sciatic nerve, or just simply face plant into the floor.

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So let’s review the proper form and execution of a burpee:

1.  Start in a standing position. Quickly squat down placing your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders.

2.  Pull your abs in tight and with a bit of a hop, throw your legs out behind you so that they land, feet together, on your toes as if you are about to perform a push up. Elbows are locked in place.

3.  Now perform a slow and precise push up, keeping in mind that it’s not about how low you go, but that what’s important is that you don’t sag your body downward while barely bending your arms.  This is where many clients hurt their back and/or shoulder blades.

4.  In one smooth motion, bring your legs back into the squat position, and then explode upwards reaching for the ceiling.

5.  Upon landing from your huge hop up, move right back into step 1 by squatting down. Repeat for the requisite amount of burpees or use a time limit to work by (i.e., as many as you can do in 1 minute).

For even more advance version, use a bozu ball. Lift the bozu ball overhead to start, then place it on the ground (inflated side down), as you perform steps 2 through 4.

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Once again, burpees are a great way to get in a quick total body energizing work out with limited space and time. If you can change your mind set to see these as a welcome challenge and not a dreaded torture created by us personal trainers, you will reap huge benefits while moving on with your day! Please feel free to let me know how it goes for you.

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Shave Off Some Fat

Okay, it’s that time of year – the holidays – time for parties and feasts and drinking and less time for exercising when you’re spending all that times partaking in vast quantities of delicious calories. The annual dilemma shared by many is how to attend all these parties and holiday dinners without putting on extra fat.

The answer is to NOT to avoid the festivities like several of my clients have suggested. No, the better solution is to apply a few tricks of the fitness trade to shave off some of the fat (both via smarter nutrition choices and squeezing in extra exercise).

Here’s a few tips to help you have your cake (or pumpkin pie) and eat it too!

1.   Before attending any holiday party, have a small serving of raw, steamed or lightly sautéed veggies. These veggies will ensure that you are not feeling overly-hungry and thus prone to over-indulging. Also, they will provide you with a nice layer of fiber which will keep you regular in spite of ingesting higher-fat and slower digesting foods.

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2.  If you are in charge of any of the holiday feasts or parties, try using a healthier menu for the same food favorites. Example: If you must have traditional green bean casserole (green beans, cheese, cream of mushroom soup), trying using either non-fat or organic cream of mushroom soup (available at most grocery stores) and vegan cheese. Or make your fresh apple pies with ½ the amount of suggested sugar AND change out refined white or brown sugar for coconut sugar, xylitol, or maple syrup. (The internet is littered with great options for leaner recipes of traditional foods – google or scan Pinterest for ideas.)

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3.   If an event offers a buffet (as many corporate parties do), check out the offerings first, then decide what dishes you most want and use the “Rule of Five” – 2 proteins, 2 fun carbs (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes), and 1 dessert. Keep your portions small, and wait 10 minutes before attempting seconds. You will likely find yourself full if you can wait a little while. Otherwise, hit the dance floor (if dancing is offered) and work up the need for more fuel.

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4.   Booze – do not forget that alcohol has sugar and that messes with your body’s blood sugar, which in turn messes with how you digest your food and how much gets stored as fat. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to 2-3 drinks max (in a 2-3 hour period). This will not only keep your fat levels under control, but will likely not get you a DUI either!

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5.   As for exercise, take a daily walk with family, the dogs, or even by yourself. Just one average paced mile can level out your insides from the decadent dish or cocktails the night before. When out shopping, park further away, all those extra steps add up! During time off, engage more with the kids. If you have long trips facing you, break them up with challenges at rest stops or airports (jumping jacks, incline push ups off the backs of chairs, air-squats, lunge walks through the terminal).

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6.   Lastly, do not forget to drink plenty of water. High sodium foods, alcohol, and excessive refined sugar deplete the body of hydration. Water will keep these toxins flushed and your fat retention will be lower.194094-attachment

So go enjoy, but remember MODERATION makes for a balance between health and enjoying the decadent holidays to their fullest. That’s all any of us can ask for.

What Are You Watching?!

Today my diatribe will seem to be off the subject of fitness, but in reality has everything to do with being healthy of mind and body. I have come to my wit’s end with society’s preoccupation with talent-less, substance-less, worthless icons of super-wealthy plastic women. In case you didn’t get it by that description, I’m referring to the Kardashians.

Every day when I stop in the gym locker room prior to or after my workout, I am assaulted by two televisions permanently glued to (and loudly playing) the E Channel. The E Channel (formerly Entertainment TV) has decided, assumably because of viewer demand, that 75% of their programming should be the show Keeping up with the Kardashians.

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For the 5 minutes that I utilize my locker I am subjected to Kim crying because some designer can’t make her million dollar wedding dress, or Kanye decided to fly her to Paris before she was ready, or one of her sisters lamenting about how tiring it is to go to another $100,000 night where she has to stand around at a club in Las Vegas pretending to have a good time.

These women who never seem to work out (or at least never sweat), have chefs preparing their calorie-counted food, almost always appear in flawless airbrushed make-up, and live in mansions with assistants and drivers actually believe that their trivial woes are something we can relate to and should sympathize with.

The Madam (as in head of the brothel) who leads this circus is their mother Kris who just this year has launched her two youngest daughters (ages 16 and 18) into the same career as their older sisters. By the way, in case you didn’t know these “careers” are really nothing but a few modeling gigs, event appearances, and of course, showing all aspects of their plasticized non-intimate lives on television.  I will say that Kris is quite the marketing genius as she has turned 5 vapid self-centered females into a million dollar enterprise, but somehow that just isn’t enough to garner her my full respect when she’s peddling such hollow fluff.

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So why am I bitching about this you may ask? It’s because my mission as a fitness professional is to help people – most importantly women – to accept their flaws, surmount obstacles and limitations, and love their bodies and lives. The Kardashians are in direct conflict with my mission. Their show tells girls that shallow is ok, that fashion and fantasy have more value than hard work. I sincerely doubt that any Kardashian daughter can balance a check book, live on a budget, and multitask the care of children, with the chores of maintaining a house, car, job, and their own personal fitness and emotional fulfillment.

They call it reality TV but it is the furthest thing from reality. As long as viewers enjoy the mind numbing line up of Kardashians, Lohans, and Sex In The City reruns Entertainment TV, MTV, and VHI will never change and girls will continue to be exposed to these unrealistic depictions of life as a woman in America.  So if you want to show your daughters examples of television women worth emulating there’s lots to pick from, but unfortunately you’ll have to go way back. Try reruns of Mary Tyler Moore Show, One Day At A Time and Julia if you really want to see women of substance and value.

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Time to Make A Plan

How long have you been saying you want to get in shape? How long have you been stuck in that dead end job or still living where you didn’t want to be in the first place? For many people, the answer is a really long time – too long – but they just sit and complain about it. If this resonates with you (or someone in your life), I have one more question: what will it take to get you to get off your butt and do something about it? 

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Blunt, I know, but that’s me. Time spent complaining, being depressed over a situation, wallowing in your inaction is the biggest waste of life I can think of. There’s always something you can do to improve your situation. Usually what’s holding you back is your fear. Fear that changing things might make life worse – you won’t like the new results any better. Fear that you might have to have a conversation of a serious nature (also known as the dreaded confrontation). And the biggest obstacle of all – indecision.

I’ve come to understand that despite the fact that I rarely, if ever, am indecisive, many people are. There are either too many overwhelming choices to pick from, or too few. Either way, they cannot make a decision with conviction for fear that they are making the wrong choice – that another choice might be the better way. Unfortunately they forget the first rule of decisions and planning. You can always change the plan!

Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.

 

We’re not talking Sophie’s Choice here people. We’re taking a point A to point B choice to get you to your desired goal. If the first step of the plan doesn’t get you in line for the next, revise the plan. Movement, even if not completely successful is better than stagnation. Besides, sometimes movement even in the wrong direction, brings forth an opportunity that you would not otherwise have found.

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I often use the analogy with my Life Coaching clients that they are on a ship, staring intently upon the horizon for another ship to come by so they can jump ship. But as life as proven to me and many, sometimes you have to jump ship and tread water before the next better ship comes along.

So to any of you stuck in a rut reading this, I say make a plan. Don’t second guess yourself, don’t make it too complicated or take too long. Then outline at least the initial steps (first 3-5) and then execute them in a timely fashion. I promise you the next steps will be easier. I’m always here to help should you desire it.

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Time to get off your butt and do something starts NOW!