Accept it, or Fix it.

In our ever-increasing attempts to be politically correct in this Country, we have started utilizing colorful adjectives to describe someone who is what we used to call “fat.” Over-weight, big-boned, large, hefty, heavy, full-figured, thick, heavy-set, etc. are now the less insulting ways to describe someone who has a larger percentage of body fat.

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But I think we’re wrong to do so. It’s simple, you are either proportioned evenly (regardless of your height, weight, and build) or you have too much body fat. The body (and what it weighs) consists of muscle, bone, fat, organs and water. None of us are shaped perfectly and none of us ever stay exactly the same shape as we age. There are healthy fat people and internally-fat skinny people. I only care that an individual can perform anything they wish physically (like dancing or simply walking up stairs) and that they suffer from as little stress as possible in their lives, while enjoying a mix of healthy and fun foods and experiences.

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With this said, my point today is that I hear many clients and people on social media lamenting that they are fat, over-weight, uncomfortable in their size and clothes, or worse yet, have physical limitations and/or illnesses due to their increased body fat. What irritates me about this is that a predominant amount of people complain repeatedly, yet do little to nothing about it.

Sure they’ll attempt a diet, a new exercise routine, or hiring a trainer such as myself. But within a matter of months, their willingness to do the work – and I know it’s hard work for most – dissipates. Pretty soon, they’re eating less often again, more high-caloric fattening foods, and the workouts trail off to once a week or none.

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My personal philosophy on ADULTS is that as long as you’re happy, and not achieving that happiness at the detrimental expense of someone else, then just be happy. If you’re not in imminent danger of dying, if you are okay with being less able to do certain things physically, then I say accept your condition and enjoy your life. There’s nothing wrong with being over-fat outside of your shortened life span and inability to experience certain life joys. There are plenty of people who find an over-fat mate sexy and attractive. There are plenty of over-fat people who are not suffering from health related issues, and can dance all night long. Right on, I say!

But the chronic complainers who chronically will do nothing long-term to fix their issues should – well to be blunt – fix up, or shut up. Yes it’s a huge commitment to change the way you shop, cook and eat food. Yes, it can be inconvenient to your schedule to work out for 30-60 minutes 3-5 times a week. But the results can change what you’re complaining about, and in a relatively short period of time in the grand scheme of things.

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So if you really want to change – and make it a permanent one – then do it. I have faith in all humans to achieve anything they set their minds to, and I support anyone who earnestly tries. If you prefer fast food diets and couch-potato lifestyle, do so with all the lust for life that life deserves – and enjoy!

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A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada.

Lately I’ve been receiving the same client excuse for skipping workouts from almost all my clients and friends. This particular excuse has increased in usage undoubtedly due to the change in everyone’s schedules when school’s out and kids are requiring more attention (or for those without kids, the idea that the sun is up longer so they’d rather be out playing after work).

So what is this over-used alibi for not working out? “I didn’t really have enough time or energy to do my full workout, so I just didn’t bother.” Well to all of you who have enlisted this reasoning to assuage your guilt for missing your gym-time I say: a little bit is better than nada (Spanish for “nothing”).

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20-minutes of effective total-body exercise can definitely stimulate your metabolism and cause your muscles to burn calories for the rest of the day or night, while skipping 20-minutes will do NOTHING.

15-minutes of focused resistance training is so much more beneficial to your body, brain, and energy than NONE. You’d be surprised how much more energy you will have after 15-minutes, no matter how tired you felt before you started.

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10-minutes of cardio stimulates blood flow and circulation in a way that 10-minutes of sitting could NEVER achieve. If you run cold, have poor circulation, stiff muscles or lethargic intestinal tract, even a few minutes of low-impact cardio can make a huge difference to all those body issues.

I’ve capitalized nothing, none, and never to make a point. Choosing to skip exercise completely just because you cannot do your full routine (assuming that it’s 30-60 minutes) will not get you anywhere!  After all, half, or even a quarter is still better than none.

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I will admit that even those of us in the fitness profession (personal trainers, class instructors, etc.) often find our time and energy spread too thin and contemplate skipping a workout or two. But my own guilt over not practicing what I preach always kicks in and I enthusiastically attack a 5-20 minute workout, knowing that I’m better off than having skipped completely.

I also have an advantage in that I know exactly what to do to get the most benefit out of a small period of exercise (i.e., effective usage of cardio combined with resistance training, or rapid-fire combo moves). But for the rest of you, between Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube there are plenty of options for quick workouts, and of course, you’re always welcome to contact me!

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So the next time you hesitate to go to gym or perform your at-home workout – remember that even five minutes benefits you more than none.

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What Difference Can One Change Make?

So you want to change your body, or become more healthy inside and out, but the idea of radically altering your nutrition, and squeezing non-existent time out of your schedule to exercise has you feeling defeated before you start? Well, you are not alone. This is probably the most common reason that periodically renewed commitments to achieving fitness fails for some many (along with those silly summer diets).

Well allow me to suggest something novel: make just ONE change. That’s not so hard, eh? But what difference can that make? you ask. My answer: you’d be surprised.

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My nephew, who is not known for being a healthy eater (hates vegetables), and who has very limited time for exercise, took it upon himself to stop eating sugar (sodas, sweets, etc.) and add in 12 minutes of exercise on the weekdays. Within two weeks he’d seen and felt a difference in how his clothes fit (i.e., he lost “weight”, but you as you know I call that losing “fat”).

Now you might note that this constitutes two changes. But I believe he would have seen a difference with just the one change (nixing the sugar). The speed with which he lost body fat was a tad faster for adding in the second change (exercising).

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Almost anyone can commit to and maintain a change of one thing being eliminated or added. If you do not choose to change your calorie intake — but do ad in a minimum, yet effective amount of exercise – you will lose a little body fat, at least initially. Same goes for eliminating one higher-caloric food category (i.e., sugar, bread, starches – whatever you seem to overdue the most). (Note: you can also opt to significantly reduce said food, so that you do not binge later because you’ve abstained completely from something you love and crave.)

I stated that you would only initially see a reduction because eventually you will plateau and no longer lose fat. My recommendation therefore is that after four weeks of the first change, you increase said change or add another. Example: 12 minutes of exercise should be increased to 15-20 minutes; or keep the sugar out but now reduce the quantity of starchy high-glycemic foods (like white bread, white rice, white pasta).

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So take heart if you feel frustrated that “dieting” or attempting to stick with an exercise routine are just not cutting it for you. Try this single elimination or addition and you will undoubtedly achieve some success – and success is the best motivator for continued change which begets more success. Before you know it you can achieve your goals!

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Love Doesn’t Always Work.

Despite all the sappy love songs and common sayings like love is all you need, love is the answer, or love concurs all, love does NOT always work. I’ve studied, analyzed, and introspected a lot of problematic relationships from my family to clients, to my own journey of trial and error relationships (until I got it right with the man I married).  What I’ve found is that no matter how strong the love and attraction to another is, if they are not the right fit for who you are, then the relationship at best will be filled with strife for many years, and at worst will be doomed. This is especially true for that annoying adage opposites attract. While opposites may be attracted to each other, the fundamental differences in how those “opposites” communicate, relate, and view life often makes for a very dysfunctional relationship.

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Clearly I am slightly generalizing, and there are many relationships that do succeed despite having vast differences.  But there’s no denying that two people on the “same page” about important life and family issues will have a higher likelihood of long-lasting success, or at the very least, less stress and strife (which is what we all want).

The biggest relationship road block is that of your “inherent personality.” There are two types of inherent personalities in humans – the “generous” type who wakes up and thinks about pleasing those around them; and the “self-focused” type who wakes up and thinks about what they need to make themselves happy first. Obviously some of us, either by nature, or life’s lessons, evolve to balance their generous vs. self-focused tendencies, which is the goal in my opinion.

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But when a couple is together with one person being the “generous type” and the other being the “self-focused” type, you will likely have one person always feeling disappointed and underappreciated, and the other always feeling that they can’t ever please their partner, that nothing they do is good enough. Either way resentment blossoms for both and poisons good communication and intimate feelings.

I have come up with a list of seven issues/items that I have feel are critical for a couple to have in common if they are looking for a solid, happy, “till death do you part” partnership. They are (in no particular order of importance):

1. Communication Style.

Example: if one is a talker and the other never wants to discuss anything, you will have a huge communication problem, and likely lots of hurt and annoyed feelings.

2. Family Background.

Example: when one is from a large and very close family and the other is an only child — resentment can rise up due to a seemingly intrusive amount of time spent with their family.

3. Views of Children.

Example: you want 2, they want 6. You believe in strict discipline with specified manners, and they like it spontaneous with no apparent boundaries.

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4. Religion/Spirituality.

Example: you’re a weekly “Christian” church-goer, and they’re Jewish and/or non-practicing or non-believing. Faith is huge to some and not sharing it with their mate can cause heated debates.

5. Humor & Joy.

Example: they laugh everything off with their dry wit, and you are serious in most things and don’t handle teasing well. You LOVE small intimate dinner parties, they LOVE going out and having loud tailgate parties. Once again, passion and humor for life is best when shared.

6. Approach to Money.

Example: you make it then spend it, they impose unrealistic budgets and/or want to save it all. This is one of the top two reasons couples break up. The other reason…

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7. Sex.

Example: One of you prefers frequent spontaneous interactions, while the other needs the lights off, and only when you’re feeling completely ready (which often doesn’t happen). Remember that the top three issues couples fight about are sex, money, children!

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Hopefully you have several of these in common with your mate – but most dysfunctional relationships have only one or two, or even none. The more of these issues that you two agree upon, the less likely you are to have chronic fights, or major incompatibility.

Of course I’m not saying dump the person you’re with just because you do not meet eye-to-eye on a majority of these issues, I’m just saying that if you are hanging on to a detrimental union where you’re not likely to ever find common ground on important life matters, then perhaps you should realize that love doesn’t always work – it isn’t always enough. Love yourself enough to know when it’s time to stop torturing each other. Remember this too, no one is WRONG, they may just be wrong for you.

Girl Vs. Girl

I have been preparing my 9 year old daughter for several years now for one of the less favorable rites of passage that elementary girls encounter as they grow towards teen years … that of mean girls. Sadly the inherent competitiveness of females towards each other starts this early and I have recently realized that for some, the feelings of petty jealousy do not stop at any age.

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I see signs of this girl vs. girl competitiveness from the playground to the workforce and at parties and social gatherings. It starts with the physical assessment – are they prettier than me, is their body in better shape, are they dressed too provocatively? Then it progresses into a fevered quest to find out some personal information that will prove their life is not better than yours, or that they are NOT as good as you – commonly known as gossip. Lastly communication breaks down into a series of anecdotal recounts of one’s life to one up the other – often using voice inflections heavy with condescension and superiority.

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I watch this in action frequently at the gym and restaurants. A 20-something “hottie” will saunter past a group of over-weight “mom” types. First come the glares, then the whispers, and finally loud encouragement from the “pack” that they’re each doing great. Of course, this dynamic happens in the reverse too. Often it’s the heavier girl at a nightclub who is subjected to a gaggle of anorexic Barbies walking past with their noses in the air, and their I’m so pretty hair flips. (Yes I’m generalizing and stereotyping, but I’ve seen it happen repeatedly enough to use it here.)

This constant competition between women has saddened me for years. I get that it feels like we’re all in competition for the few good men, but we’re really not. Men have just as much at stake when searching for true love, and they receive just as much rejection as we do. But the difference is that men (and boys) don’t seek to tear each other down the same way women (and girls) do.

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The feelings of jealousy and inadequacy that you feel when you see someone you think is better looking or happier than you is not their fault. You should all know by now that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side. That “beautiful” person may in fact be miserable on the inside, or maybe battled cancer, or was abused by someone. Your life is your life – your body is your body. It’s up to you to make your life and body be the most it can be and then be happy (and satisfied) with it all. When you’re not up to snuff – fix it – don’t make yourself feel better by enjoying the knowledge that someone else isn’t perfect too.  Bringing someone down doesn’t lift you up. These are the lessons I’m sharing with my daughter.

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I have more than once met women who were absolutely beautiful on the outside only to find that their insides were shallow or mean, and that their lives were not as envious as I had thought. But this knowledge never made me feel better – it made me sad that someone with such gifts wasn’t all that I had admired initially. It made me strive even harder to be happy with what and who I am and to appreciate all that I have, and go after all that I want.

Women we shouldn’t compete – we should complement each other. My many girlfriends and I do just that. If you are missing this kind of support in your life, perhaps it’s time you got better friends – or became a better friend yourself.

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Which Cardio Equipment Is Best For You

Cardio – you either love it or you hate it. If you are a constant follower of this blog you’ve already learned from me that unless you enjoy the feeling like a hamster on a wheel, 20 minutes three times a week on any stationary cardio equipment is enough to be effective for most fitness goals.

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If you are an outdoor running or cycling enthusiast, then you can stop reading this blog today and go out and run/bike. But if you are like me and oblige the cardio gods with a weekly dose of walking or climbing in place, then I’ve a few tips to help you decide which cardio equipment is best for you and your goals.

Treadmill Walking with Incline

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PROS: Low impact; keeps you into the fat burning zone; great at toning and lifting the glutes.

CONS: Slower on calorie burn than other options; not good if you have balance or feet pain issues.

Treadmill Running

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PROS: Burns lots of calories (depending on length of run); great way to tone legs; indifferent to the weather outside.

CONS: High impact; hard on joints; puts you into an anaerobic heart rate level which does not burn as much fat as aerobic levels (like you’ll achieve walking at an incline).

Elliptical w/Swinging Arm Handles

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PROS: Low impact; stable; incorporates upper body toning; burns fat calories.

CONS: Can be boring with so little variety in how to use the machine; easy to not push yourself so you won’t burn fat effectively.

Stationary Bike

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PROS: Can be a great cardio workout (aerobic or anaerobic) if you alternate between hills and flats and keep the tension ramped up; great leg toner too; low impact.

CONS: Very easy to just “cruise” and burn very little fat calories; risk of thigh chaffing and numbing/irritating of the glutes.

Stepper/Stair Climber

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PROS: Low impact, easy to maintain fat burning zone.

CONS: Not easy to find proper form and hence high risk of hyper-extended elbows and excessive knee pressure (my least recommended equipment).

Step Mill (Gym Escalator)

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PROS: All the benefits of walking a flight of stairs, but you can’t stop and rest; great way to get and stay in your target heart rate zone; offers different ways to step (sideways, backwards) which tone entire lower extremities.

CONS: All the benefits of walking a flight of stairs … but you can’t stop and rest; not good for weak knees; doesn’t offer any upper body toning.

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No matter which you choose – and of course my recommendation is to choose a variety throughout the week – try to stay in your target heart rate (THR) zone for 20 minutes to gain the maximum fat burn. If you don’t know what your THR is/should be ask a trainer at the gym, or write to me.

No go burn some fat, get some tone, and get on with the rest of your day!

The Children Are Listening.

I overheard two nine year old girls talking the other day at a friend’s home. One tall, one short, neither thin, neither overweight – but clearly built very differently. The taller one was urging the shorter one to get on the scale to see what she weighed. Finally, reluctantly, she obliged and weighed in four pounds heavier than the taller girl. The taller girl then responded “ooh, maybe we should run around more at recess.”2188610

What does this tell me? It tells me that the tall girl has probably been overhearing her mother lament about being over-weight. It tells me that at by third grade, she’s already assumed most adults’ belief that what the scale reads, defines how you are seen. It also shows me how much our kids are listening to everyone’s obsession with weight.

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It’s not just the girls mind you, I’ve caught many a group of elementary school boys quickly (albeit amongst themselves) dismissing a girl based upon her weight, having learned early on that thinner is more attractive. All it takes is one tossed away comment by a Dad watching a model-eating-burger commercial like “now that’s hot” to take root his son’s head. (Don’t get me started on the irony of those silly commercials!)

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If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that I do not own a scale, and berate my clients who use one to gauge their fitness. You should also know that I am trying to raise awareness with the world at large, as well as in my own home, that body fat vs. scale weight vs. internal health are three different things and should not be lumped together.

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Clearly, being a personal trainer, there’s a lot of discussion in our home about nutrition, body fat, body acceptance, etc. My daughter is built on the short and stocky side, yet she is strong and healthy, and not fat. But put her next to her taller and leaner friends, sure she seems “thicker” – a perception that to the ignorant child/adult could be referred to as fat.

I work diligently to maintain her healthy self-esteem so that she will not suffer in middle-school, high- school and beyond. Young girls’ and boys’ feelings of inadequacy because society has deemed them inferior if they’re not built like models, starts in the home whether you’re aware of it or not.

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My hope today for those of you who read this (and hopefully you’ll pass it on to reach more) is that everyone who worries about their “weight” should stop verbalizing their issues in front of their children. Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, boyfriends, girlfriends – we all need to realize that one little innocuous sentence (“I can’t lose the last ten pounds, I hate the way I look”) can plant a very destructive seed in a little person’s brain.

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So think about what you say around your kids, and what they might internalize about themselves from it. Engage in open discussions about health, nutrition, the differences in body types, and most importantly, that ultimately we must not judge books by their coverers – beauty is more than skin deep – and any other words of positive reaffirmation to remind them that life is about being a good person – not being perfect.

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When Fad Diets Happen to Good People

I’m still shocked these days to find a plethora of fitness-minded individuals still placing value in fad diets. A week does not go by where I don’t hear someone dissing carbs, or talking about how drinking hot-lemon-honey-cinnamon-cayenne water helped them boost their metabolism. Facebook, Pinterest and other social media sites are littered with the next best superfood that we should O.D. on. On my Tumblr account this week I slammed the photo below for promoting the idea that a single food can burn belly fat.

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People people people, listen to me: no one food, or food combination will help you get those six pack abs – especially as a stand-alone concept. Granted, if you eat foods that build muscle and help your liver to keep sugars under control ALONG with consistent and effective exercise (resistance training and cardio), you will burn fat from your body. But let me also remind you that there is no way to spot reduce the fat from an area of your body. While you can tone specific muscle groups, where your body burns the fat from is still more random than you might think. If you radically curtail your food consumption while over-ramping your calorie burn, you will lose fat, but you will also lose muscle and more importantly, the fat may come from other areas of your body before the desired zone (i.e., your face or bosom before your belly or butt).

I know that all of this stems from society’s desire to do things quickly — see results fast with as little work or discomfort as possible.  Unfortunately life has proven repeatedly that, as trite as this personal trainer common quip sounds — NO PAIN NO GAIN is reality when it comes to changing your body.  That doesn’t mean abusive pain, but it does mean giving up a quantity of things you love and keeping your body moving despite soreness.

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Once again I want to remind all of you that fad diets do not work – or rather do not work for long. As I stated only last week (Success Comes with Consistency) diets are temporary. But fad diets are worse because they strictly restrict what you eat, forcing your body to try and obtain a full range of nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats from a very limited source. Their failure rate is even higher than a simple calorie restricting diet because most people find the limited fad-foods boring within a very quick period.

So back away from that Pinterest post that claims you can lose 5 lbs and increase your metabolism by eating grapefruits, almonds, and green tea exclusively for a week. It’s not worth it even if it were to work, because as soon as you reintroduce all the other foods you still crave, the 5 lbs will return, and your body will be pissed off at you and likely not let you lose 5 lbs the same way again.

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If you want to change your nutrition in a permanent way, I’ve given you lots of tips within this blog, and I offer a very affordable meal plan that will be customized to your lifestyle, and food tastes (Workouts247.com). Now go eat something healthy and stop starving your body!

Success Comes With Consistency.

Spring is here and the rush to get into bathing suit condition is on full swing. What that translates into with many is a hurried goal to lose body fat. Unfortunately that means people “go on a diet.” As I’ve discussed numerous times herein, “diet” implies temporary. Temporary changes will never garner you a permanent success. To get into healthy physical condition and stay there you need to be constant – success is achieved though consistency.

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That is true in all areas of life. Whatever your career, after college or time spent learning your trade, you must still consistently study and stay on top of any new trends, techniques or changing technologies that apply to your field. In relationships you must maintain consistent honesty and reliability. Likewise, your body must receive consistent exercise and healthy nourishment to maintain a healthy composition (lean muscle & body fat).

Diets do not work. They are not consistent. For a designated (short) period of time you eat limited choices of foods, in limited amounts, thereby depriving your body of the quantity of calories that you previously consumed (typically high-caloric foods to boot). Your body decreases in size to some extent (most say they’ve lost weight – but you know I’m only looking to see you lose fat).

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Once the diet is over (i.e., the desired scale weight is achieved), you resume your old habits and guess what – the weight (fat) comes back.

So if you are one of the many individuals seeking to look different this summer in a bathing suit (or in general) I suggest that this time you do NOT “diet.” This time you make a permanent change to your approach to nutrition – making it your lifestyle to eat smaller quantities of higher quality food (unprocessed, low in animal fats, salts, and sugars) while still allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite (or comfort) foods in moderation.

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Today I am not going to go into a detailed description of how to eat this way as I’ve done so many times in this blog, and I also offer customized meal plans to clients who seek to make their nutritional change permanent (http://www.workouts247.com). My goal today is simply to remind you that you’ve failed before when you’ve gone on a diet (probably more than once), and that this time you should change your approach if you are really serious about changing your body and health permanently.

Good luck, and I’m here when you’re ready to commit to consistency!

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Fitness Tracker: Your New Best Friend

The popularity of wearable fitness trackers is escalating rapidly, so today I wanted to tell you my favorite of the current top selling choices, and some unanticipated extra perks you can receive from these trendy wrist bands.

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The top sellers are Fitbit, Garmin, and Jawbone. Each offer roughly the same basic functions (calories burned, sleep tracking, steps taken, etc.), with a varying range of style and prices. My choice is the Jawbone Up24 (around $60). I chose the Jawbone Up24 because it combined the most functions that mattered to me with the most comfortable and subtle wristband. I find the fit to be comfortable both day and night, it does not stick to my skin when sweating (like the Fitbit can), and I can even wear it when dressed up as the black version looks like a “cool” bracelet. It holds a charge for almost an entire week, and it’s corresponding App (both in Android and Apple formats) is super easy to use.

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Now I will list the obvious reasons that a fitness tracker will benefit you, and the not so obvious benefits that I am very happy to have discovered.

BASIC BENEFITS

Accountability:

A brilliant way to keep accountable for your fitness goals without having to rely upon a friend or trainer. Every day, all day long, you can keep track of how much you’ve moved, and most since people don’t like seeing that they’re way off from their goals (how many steps per day), they usually “step it up” (pun intended) as the day progresses.

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Sleep Tracking:

Sleep is an integral and essential factor in fat loss, stress reduction and mood enhancement.  The App will show you how deep you sleep and when, how much you wake throughout the night, and you can use this information to take calculated steps to improving your sleep patterns, methods, and time allocation (i.e., go to bed earlier).

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Calories Burned:

By entering your age, height, and weight, the device will advise you as to how many calories you’ve burned throughout your day. It will also tell you how much you burn at rest (your metabolism). By increasing your muscle vs. fat you will happily see your resting calorie burn increase – which always renews my clients’ motivation. If you take the time to enter your food consumption and time spent exercising, you will also be able to see your calories in vs. calories out (important factor in successful fat-loss).

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Wearability:

As already stated, this device is more stylish than watch-like, can handle sweat, splashes of water, and even showering (just not immersion like swimming). So it’s easy to put on and forget about.

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BONUS BENEFITS

Reminder to Move:

Although many fitness trackers on the market have this option, I still feel it should be noted as a bonus benefit as so few people seem to utilize it (until I tell them about it). You can set a vibration reminder at specific intervals and specific times throughout the day. I have mine set to every 30 minutes, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Whenever I’ve been stationary for 30 minutes, it vibrates. I then jump up and move – for at least 5 minutes of energy burn (jumping jacks, push ups, stair running, dancing, squats, etc).

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Silent Motivator:

Along with the 30-minute vibration reminder, just the fact that I may not be achieving my steps-per-day frequently urges my mind and then my body into action. I used to roll my eyes in frustration every time I’d run upstairs only to be summoned back downstairs by my daughter needing something. But then I realized that I shouldn’t resent the extra opportunity to run the stairs (literally) and it caused a serious reduction in our yelling at each other from different areas of the house.  (Family Harmony + Exercise = Happy Mom which definitely = Happy Family!)

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I also find that when I think about sitting and reading or relaxing, I remind myself that hey, I should go get that laundry from upstairs, or bring out the trash – some chore that can log a few more steps for me today. As a result, I gain the satisfaction of achieving my steps-per-day goal, and often exceeding it almost daily.

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So if you were curious or on the fence about whether a fitness tracker would be good for you, my answer is clearly yes, doesn’t really matter the make/model as long as you utilize all it is there to help you with.  If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to comment herein or contact me directly.  Happy tracking!