Tagged: stress

Be Smart This Summer

Spring is here and along with warmer weather and flowers blooming, I see an onsalught of commercials and social media posts all focusing on weight loss in preparation of summer. It’s a silly marketing ploy that so many fall prey to, you know, “bikini season” and “summer ready body” kind of stuff.

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It makes me sad because as you know if you’ve read my blog for any period of time to me fitness is a life-long pursuit to be practiced daily, in moderation, so that life can be lived to it’s fullest. I also strongly advocate that we ALL realize and accept that every BODY is different and what is a sign of beauty or sex appeal today is likely the antithesis of tomorrow, not to mention not everyone’s taste.

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So for those of you getting sucked in to the taunting that your summer life just wont be satisfying unless you transform your body right now, I offer these gentle reminders to love yourself, not give up or give in, but be smart about how you prepare for summer.

DO NOT DIET

Dieting simply doesn’t work and it’s a waste of your time and money. Stop eating strange concoctions or restricting calories or fats or sugars. You have probably learned by now that the body fat simply returns once your old way of eating is resumed. Instead, eat 6 small meals every day, composed of healthy lean protein, veggies, fruits, grains, and fats, allow yourself a day or two of higher caloric meals or drinks and remember daily that you love your body and care about what you put inside of it.

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VARIETY IS KEY

For those of you who do not love time spent in a gym or in front of a video or class – just remember that an hour here and an hour there WILL make a huge difference, and if you keep your workouts reasonably intense while maintaining a variety of styles, you will see results which in turn will stop making it seem like such drudgery. The key is to keep boredom at bay while maintaining progress. Start by working out 2-3 times a week with weights (ideally with a plan created by a trainer like me), each workout being different from the last. Then add in some fun outdoor activities on the weekends, maybe a dance or body pump class with a friend in the evenings, and/or a DVD at home once in a while. Variety will keep you entertained, and as you see results you will need far less convincing to stay diligent.

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REMEMBER TO REST AND SLEEP

Taking a day every 4-5 days to allow your muscles and cardio system to rest is hugely beneficial to your metabolic system becoming more efficient and thereby burning more fat. Sleep, likewise, is essential to the body recovering and allowing a change in composition (i.e., more lean muscle, less fat) to occur within (which then shows up on the outside). So tweak your schedule and make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Your body will thank you.

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STOP STRESSFUL THINKING

Clearly stress is not good in any areas of your life, but it’s especially hard on the body. While you may not be able to reduce the stress of your circumstances, you can reduce the stress you place on your body when you fret over your physical condition. Negative thoughts about your body, and beating yourself up for being “fat” or “out of shape” will not help your body relax and embrace the change you seek to make. Emotional stress will also force your body to hold on to fat as fat is an insulator and protector of organs, and has hormonal properties which are ignited when under stress. So lighten up your thought process and your body may just lighten up as well.

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Now get ready to enjoy the warmer weather and the summer vacations, and by following my advice you’ll hopefully be in better shape AND happier at the same time.

How Flexible Are You?

One of the most important aspects of fitness is often the least focused on – that of flexibility. I must confess that even I tend to place the least priority on flexibility – me a former full-time dance student! But in our fast-paced, jam-packed lives, it often seems that all we have time to focus on is exercising (cardio & resistance training) and nutrition (which we know to be the largest part of the fitness pie. But I need to remind us all that flexibility is a major and necessary component of total fitness.

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It doesn’t matter how strong your muscles are if you don’t the flexibility to move them in a full range of motion then you will not be able to push past your current fitness levels (i.e., burn more fat). Without good flexibility you’ll not be able to run or even walk the speed and distances you seek, for your muscles will be too tight and too shortened and therefore your legs will simply lock up.

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If your job keeps you in a sedentary seated position for long hours, it’s hugely important to stretch and lengthen your muscles and spine (see last week’s blog Respect Your Spine).  This will improve circulation which will in turn improve your productivity.

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Of course as a Life Coach, I can not ignore the figurative necessity for flexibility in our minds and attitudes as well. Emotional flexibility allows us to embrace change better and affect change in our lives – and our workouts.

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So today I’m suggesting that we all commit (myself included) to improving our flexibility over the next month, and then we can compare notes and really testify to the benefits of being more flexible.

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First, prioritize and schedule a small chunk of time for stretching (10 mins minimum). It’s important that your body be warmed up so I recommend either right after a shower, or right after a long day but prior to being sedentary for several hours. (In other words, after you’ve come home from work and made dinner, but before you plop down on the sofa to binge watch Netflix for a few hours before bed).

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Second, challenge those around you and keep each other accountable and on task. Flexibility is essential and beneficial to everyone around you, whether children or seniors, spouses or co-workers. The more people in your life that will take the time to stretch with you (although it doesn’t have to be at the exact same time), the more likely we will all achieve this goal and reap the rewards.

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Third, remember to be flexible in your head and heart. Not only does this reduce the emotional tightening of your muscles (no more stress headaches), but it will likely improve your relationships too. Be more willing to see the other side of things, and be more forgiving of yourself and others.

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Lastly, I will leave you with a few specific details about the best way to be flexible, i.e., stretching techniques:

  • Never stretch cold muscles.
  • Always move slowly into a position that stretches the desired muscles to the point where you want to stop. Then hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds, while breathing in a slow and relaxed manner. Then stretch further and repeat the hold and breathing. Do this one more time on that muscle and then you can move on to the next.
  • Start at the head/neck and move down towards feet: neck, shoulders, lower back, glutes (butt), hamstrings (back of thighs), feet/ankles. Look on the internet, YouTube or ask me for specific examples of stretches that you can practice.

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Now go be flexible and improve the quality of your body and your life!

MAKE 2017 DIFFERENT

Here we are again, the first month of a new year. Are you once again making resolutions or commitments to get into better shape? If so, what can you do to make the goals stick this time? Perhaps the first step is to change the goal.

Most of us who set a goal and fail to achieve it in an allotted period of time usually start a new year with the same goal in mind. However, if we do not change our approach to the goal, we will likely see the same results (or lack thereof). But often even you change your approach you still don’t achieve full success and that may be because the goal just doesn’t fit who you are or how you live. Don’t give up on your end goal, but perhaps you need to make a new plan that has a more immediate goal that will lead you ultimately to your end goal.

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To make 2017 be the year that you finally achieve your fitness goals you must first assess if you have goals that are achievable. If you are under a lot of stress, have limited free time, and/or limited funds – unless it’s life threatening, 95% of you will not lose fat, tone your muscles, or improve your strength and endurance – period. The reason is that you simply can’t successfully fit consistent and effective workouts into your hectic life as well as meal and snack planning, smart shopping and time intensive food prep and cooking. So rather than lament that your life is too stuck in a hectic hamster wheel and give up on your fitness goals by March, how about if you change the goal to be to get off the hamster wheel?

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Did you know that stress and lack of sleep is the number one inhibitor to fat loss? I have a client who eats clean and healthy 4-6 times a day, and works out effectively 3-4 times a week and still cannot reduce her body fat (in fact she’s seen some increase). The clear and only reason behind this is that she has a very demanding and stressful job and home life, feels emotionally “stressed out” daily and averages about 5 hours of sleep per night. I see a lot of you nodding your heads in empathy right now.

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When I talk with a new life coaching client and tell them that their first and primary goal is to find a way to reduce their stress by changing or altering their job, reorganizing household chores, rules, and assignments, and carving out (and maintaining) time for themselves, they usually start hyperventilating. But the longer we talk and outline step by step plans to get them from point A to Z the calmer they become and ultimately they get energized by the plan. Then it’s just a matter of holding them accountable, while maintaining fluidity to change the plans as the needs arise, and soon not only do they see a positive change to their bodies, they feel a radical and beneficial change to their entire lives.

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With all this said, I assign all of you who have a goal yet achieved (and often failed at on an annual basis) to look at the bigger picture and perhaps pick a new goal – one that will ultimately get you to your old goal – but one that is more important and more achievable at this time and place in your life. As always, I’m here to advise as a personal trainer and life strategies coach if you wish to work with me.

Now go make 2017 different!

Food Prep 101

Successful fat loss goals are achieved 70% in the kitchen, 20% by how well and often you move your body, and 10% from your mental state. Today I want to focus on the kitchen end of things.

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Food prep is where so many well-intentioned fat loss seekers (people who want to “lose weight”) drop the ball. For you to succeed at your fitness goals excuses like I have no time to cook or I didn’t know what to eat and was hungry so I just grabbed something must be removed from your lexicon!

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Now I’m not going to give you a meal plan to follow (although [shameless plug here] you can order a customized meal plan from my website www.workouts247.com and I’m not going to reiterate what I’ve stated numerous times herein about eating 6 small meals/snacks a day, and avoiding overly processed, sugary and salty foods. What I am going to address is food prep because that is the most time intensive aspect of nutrition and the area that usually intimidates people the most.

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As you embark on the journey to change your nutrition there are four (4) important steps you need to understand. The first step is to have a meal plan in place complete with recipes or “meal concepts” for each day of the week. The second step is to prepare a comprehensive list and then shop for the requisite ingredients. The third step (which I am focusing on today) is to prepare as much of the food in advance so that step four – the eating at regular intervals step – can be easily achieved.

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I always advise my clients to set aside one day for grocery shopping (which, if your list is in hand, should only take one hour at most), and a chunk of time for the food prep (can be the same day as shopping or a day or two later).

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Food prep can take anywhere from 1-4 hours depending upon how many meals and/or snacks you are preparing. The essential key here is to lock in the time required as a firm appointment you keep with yourself. Using cookbooks, Pinterest pins, or just your imagination, you can create several recipes ahead of time that will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Meals needed for the later in your week can still be made ahead of time and frozen until needed.

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The most important aspect to all of your food prep is to enjoy the process (do not see it as drudgery). As you become more comfortable with the planning and preparation process, you can expand your variety and pretty soon you’ll enjoy entire weeks of healthy, lean, flavorful meals and the “I have no time” excuse will be a thing of the past. Also, cooking together as a couple or family is a great way to spend quality time (without any electronics in front of your faces).

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Here are a few timesaving tricks to follow, and of course, if you desire more specific advice, direction or a meal plan, contact me directly:

Veggies can be cleaned and sliced and placed in a ziplock bag or food storage container for use later in the week.

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Pre-cooked snacks (like my quinoa, black bean, and spinach egg muffins for example), fresh fruit and veggies, nuts, and dried meats (like turkey jerky) can all be individually wrapped in bags or containers that you can “grab ‘n go.”

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Breakfast items can be made the night before and simply reheated in the morning when there is less time to cook (i.e., breakfast burrito, overnight oats, etc.).

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Crockpot (slow cooker) meals are a great way to easily create enough food to serve several lunches or dinners, and the prep work can be done the night before, then plunk everything into the pot, set it and forget it until you get home for dinner.

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Always have a few fast-but-healthy items on hand (fridge, freezer, pantry) such as turkey burgers, salad veggies, cans of tuna or salmon as all of these can be turned into quick meals.

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More time intensive items like brown rice, quinoa, or gluten-free pasta can be pre-cooked ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to four days. Then on any given night simply oven-roast or sauté your pre-sliced veggies and protein, sprinkle them with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and any of your favorite herbs and spices, then toss them all in one large pan and roast or sauté until done. Add in the already prepared side (rice, quinoa, etc.) and you’ve a dish that can serve for two family-sized meals (with correct quantity planning).

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Just How Independent Are You?

In light of America’s Independence Day having just been celebrated, today I thought I’d address independence. What does independence mean to you? The dictionary defines it as: freedom from the control, influence, support, or aid of others [or things].

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As I’ve discussed many times within my blog, if you obsess about anything (or everything) — whether it be your food intake, your workouts, your relationships, or your general state of unhappiness – then I must tell you, you aren’t very independent. You are not free from control or influence – you are a slave to your obsession (i.e., your brain).  We can all become bound to our worries by focusing exclusively on what we perceive is “wrong” in our personal lives. If you break those chains, then you might just achieve true independence from the crap that has been keeping you down.

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When it comes to nutrition, you must remember to not use words like diet, cheat, or avoid. These words trigger negative emotions in your brain that will sabotage your maintain a healthy nutrition. Eating in a manner that supports a long and healthy life with energy and acceptable levels of body fat is not achieved by restricting your cravings or temporarily suspending your willingness to act upon those cravings. Cheating implies you’ve done something wrong, and eating a single slice of chocolate cake after a great day of lean healthy clean nutrition, is not wrong. Eating three slices isn’t even wrong, but it is a poor choice and you’ll likely feel very bad physically after (not to mention mentally).

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Fitness too, needs to be handled in a way that becomes a constant and reliable part of your daily/weekly life. Berating yourself because of a missed workout (or even a week) is not the end of your world, but giving up when it gets hard or you’re a little sore is not the right approach either. Stressing over how many (or few) calories you’ve burned in a day is a waste of negative emotion, and definitely does not make you a relaxed and independent person!

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All of us have issues that consume our attention at one point or another, but giving up other aspects of your life to focus strictly on those issues is allowing self to be dependent upon something or someone that ultimately isn’t bettering you or your life. Remind yourself that you have the freedom of independent thinking and independent will (free-will),and that no one thought can control you.

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So take a moment and analyze just how independent from obsessions are you? To truly be independent in a healthy way, you have to find balance in your life, which cannot be achieved until you stop giving control of your body to your emotional state of mind!

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The first step towards that is remembering my mantra everything in moderation, even moderation!

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Mid-Life Crisis Re-examined

I believe the idea of a “mid-life crises” first came into prominence in the 1970’s, stereotyped by men in their 40’s buying sports cars and/or leaving their wives for younger women. Soon women too displayed their versions, having plastic surgery on faces or breasts, and/or having affairs with younger men. This was brought about in such large numbers due to baby-boomers realizing that they had been pigeonholed by the fiercely established routines of the post-depression era generation into living lives of college, marriage, career, and retirement, whether they wanted that life or not.

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Throughout the decades this concept has changed slightly by progressing to different ages/decades – for a while people in their 50’s – now 30-something’s. I think the reason for these “crises” occurring earlier now is due to the tangential nature of our current generation.

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To me the idea of a mid-life crisis is simply the realization by someone at any age that they’re not living the life they really wanted or intended. For some, they feel unable or unwilling to manifest a significant change so they simply partake in a small “acting out” in one area of their lives. Whether it’s purchasing a sports car, obsessively picking up a new hobby, or dating multiple partners, these little actions shake things up but don’t necessarily rattle one’s entire cage. For others, a complete left turn occurs. Some go back to school, switch jobs/careers, move to new Cities or States, get divorced, etc.

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Why I’m examining this concept is that what I see since mid-life crisis became a coined term is people letting life lead them until they finally snap and decide that they want to lead their lives. Unfortunately, many people do not do this in a well-thought out manner. They react to their emotions and roll the dice taking any new direction as better than where they had been. Sadly, the new direction, while different, may be no better a fit.

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As a life coach I counsel my clients to always change what is truly not working for them (or to use a trendy buzz term “not living an authentic life”), but to do so with a plan. Soul-search and come up with what is the better choice for you and your life. Be it a new career, or a new place to live – come up with an idea and then sit with it for a little while. Mull it over, review the pros and cons. Once you’re certain, then outline the most direct path to achieving that change.

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Rocking your boat too quickly often results in too many aspects of your life spiraling out of your control. While you may want to get off the ship you’re on, you should do so in a way that doesn’t drown you.

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If any of this resonates with you, and you’d like more help in facilitating major changes in your life, please feel free to contact me.

Through The Looking Glass

In April 2013 I addressed the downfall of having unrealistic or rigid expectations on the people in your life (Great Expectations). What appears to need a little more driving home today is that many of you set unrealistic expectations upon yourself, causing serious detriment to your fitness goals.

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While most people seeking to make a change to their body due to health or appearance issues lean towards a half-hearted approach to their goals, a significant demographic errs with an expectation-driven approach that only truly tenacious athletes can “win” with. In simple terms, you set your mind on an expectation (goal) that your body can be changed in a specific amount of time and into a specific shape that is usually unrealistic and therefore unachievably.

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Now some of you might be saying without these self-imposed “rigid” expectations, I won’t push myself or hold myself accountable. While that might be true to some extent, more often then not there are more cons than pros to this approach. Having too high expectations on yourself results in problems ranging from weight/fat increase instead of loss, to injuries, and most notably emotional stress, exhaustion, and depression.

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As an example, I once had a client who was scheduled to be married one month from when I met her. She was obese and had no muscle tone to speak of. She wanted lean toned arms, and to lose 3-4 inches from her mid-section. She said “I will do whatever it takes, I’ve made a commitment to myself to achieve these goals.” The problem was clear, her goals were impossible to achieve in the time allotted. I told her so. I told her that we could make headway, but that 30-days was not enough time to achieve her specific goals.

While we started out strong as the half-way point loomed large she fell into a funk, started cancelling sessions, and even considered cancelling her wedding, all because her goals could not be achieved. She finally came to talk with me, tearfully sharing that she felt she’d disappointed everyone and let herself down.

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I know this is a very extreme example, but I really want you to look at what expectations you place upon yourself, even in a subtle everyday manner, that can cause you to feel self-doubt or disappointment all because of an imposed “need” to make something happen.

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But good news, there is a simple solution – I call it The Looking Glass perspective. When you create an expectation upon yourself, imagine placing that expectation upon someone else – someone that matters to you, like a daughter, son, sibling, or parent. Whether the goal is to get a better job, find a mate, or just be in a different shape for summer or an event, it’s always easier to ascertain if your desires are too much by imagining someone else trying to achieve them. See those goals through the eyes of someone else and you’ll very quickly know if the expectations are too high.  Then all you have to do is think about what you’d advise them to do. How you would modify those goals to fit into the realistic shape of their (and your) life.

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Give it a try, you’ve nothing to lose but stress and disappointment. As for keeping a fire lit under your butt, that’s what I’m here for. Anytime you need a little kick to stay on track, drop me a line.

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What is Time Taking From You, Part 2

In July 2013 I posted this article and it has become very relevant again due to many of my clients and friends feeling overwhelmed by time management. I’ve added on to it, and I hope this helps anyone out there who feels time is their enemy.

To most of us, the passage of time is always changing. While time flies when you’re having run, it also ticks by with excruciating slowness when we are impatient for the future to arrive. Which begs the question: do we manipulate time with our perspectives, or does time manipulate our emotional state? There’s no correct answer to that except to say (as all scientifically minded people will tell you) time is a constant – it does not change in speed or value.

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There are those who strongly control time. They manage time in precise increments, being never late, always aware of how long they’ve spent at any chore or event, and place high value on how much they can get done within time.

Then there are others who allow time to float in and out of their consciousness. They use it when they need it, begrudgingly follow it when it is imposed upon them, but in general, prefer to be blissfully unaware of time. These are the types that are chronically late, and despite their good intentions, rarely get all their desired goals/chores done.

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Which ever time-personality type you are, you might want to consider what is time taking from you? If you have such a tight (and restrictive) grip on your time, you’re likely not open to the joys of spontaneity. A lot of wonderful life moments happen in between planned situations, and those are little jewels you don’t want to miss. Being flexible enough to go with the flow when life says hey, go this way will often reward you with positive “ah-ha” experiences.

Conversely, if you are so resistant to managing your time with a little more structure, you will find a lot of events and moments are missed because you were late, or too far behind in achieving things you truly wanted to achieve/see/experience. Being a touch more organized with your day will allow you more time in the long run – time to enjoy being fully lost in the moment, and enjoying every non-minute of it!

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Time is a constant, but it is also tool we can use to get the most out of our time in this life. So here are a few tips you can utilize to either manage your time more effectively or loosen up on your fierce grip of every minutia:

Prioritize no more than three must do’s for each day (i.e., eating at regular intervals, 30-minutes of exercise, and an hour of game play with the children)

Set your clocks five minutes fast, and set your alarm 5 minutes earlier than normal. You’d be surprised at how these little manipulations of time will allow you to possibly be on time, while still padding for the habitual “delaying distractions” that plague the more free spirited types.

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Plan for (schedule) at least one period of time per week (an hour or an afternoon, etc.) where you have nothing planned except to play, or be with a loved one, or hit the great outdoors for the purposes of just being.

If more structure is needed in your time management: make a chart of the must-do’s, have-to’s and want-to’s and once they are placed in an outline form that you feel is follow-able – follow it!

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If less structure is your desire: make a commitment to yourself that once a day you’ll do something completely spontaneous and even frivolous. It can be five minutes or an hour, but telling your overly-compartmentalized brain that there’s a time period with nothing to do but go with the flow will actually rejuvenate your energy for the rest of your jam-packed day/week.

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Play around with these concepts, and please let me know what works for you and what discoveries come from these experiments. Remember, time is not against you, but it can take away a lot from your life if you let it.

Why Am I Still Fat?

In the last couple of weeks, at least three people (ranging from acquaintances to friends) have shared their frustrations with me about still “being fat” despite strictness of diets and/or hours of cardio and resistance-based workouts, wearing Fitbits, parking further away, taking the stairs, etc.

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I too would be frustrated if I was that diligent with my nutrition and exercise and didn’t see a difference.  But (no pun intended) what I know that they do not is that there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to successful reduction of body fat. Further, there’s more to it in many cases than just restricting and/or burning more calories. One must factor in emotional stress, sleep-deprivation, physical stress, illnesses, food allergies (that you may not be aware of), thyroid malfunctions, etc. etc. etc.

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A more important concept to me is that our society on the whole needs to look at fat differently. The World, and especially America, considers FAT unattractive. However, a huge majority of our population is visually fat and many have successful careers, happy marriages, are physically active, and live long lives despite their physical condition so what does that tell us?

Fat in foods is still widely misunderstood by most people – if avocado and peanut butter is okay, what’s wrong with butter and cheese? Sugar is still not really acknowledged as being one of the largest culprits in epidemic obesity, yet it is. Carbs are considered evil, yet I challenge you to get through a workout without them.

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Internally, there are obese people who do not have high blood pressure or diabetes. Conversely there are “skinny” people who have dangerously high cholesterol or digestive issues that cause them to not absorb essential vitamins and minerals from their nutrition.

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So in answer to everyone who has ever lamented why am I still fat I say look at your life as a whole entity, one in which every nuance plays a part in your physical health and body composition. There are so many negative “life” aspects that can affect your body:

  • High stress levels at work
  • Emotional stress at home
  • Illnesses, injuries, digestive or auto-immune disorders, cancer
  • Lack of sleep
  • Eating too fast
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Over-exercising (yes that’s a thing)
  • Not exercising enough or effectively
  • Eating out too much
  • Yo-yo dieting
  • Worries about money

and the list goes on!  Take stock of what’s going on in your life that might truly be sabotaging your efforts to be healthy inside and out. Then try to improve as many of these aspects as you can, or at least improve your perspective.

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What ultimately should be your focus is: (1) are you able to do what you want physically (strength and endurance)? and (2) are you surrounded by people who love you and find you beautiful from the inside out? If the answer to both is yes, then who gives a hoot about the fat?! If they’re no, then work on fixing that (i.e., focus on building strength and endurance, not fat loss, and surround yourself with more appreciative and quality people).

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In the end you’ll either successfully reduce your fat levels because your life isn’t fighting you on that goal, or at least you’ll realize that you’re healthy and happy so who cares about the rest.

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Fretting over Feet

On the whole, people who are concerned with fitness and their bodies care about their heart, joints, muscles, bones, flexibility, strength, and body fat levels. Almost every body part is fretted over, toned, built, and stretched – every body part that is except the feet. Yet the feet are the gateway to everything we do except for sitting and sleeping.

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One of the first things I noticed back when I obtained my first PT certification was the rampant postural distortions of peoples’ feet and how they walked. Millions of people walk in an unstable manner, using only a portion of their feet which results in painful or harmful ramifications throughout their bodies. For example:

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If you walk on the outside rim of your feet (supinated) you put strain on the already thin muscles of the ankles which can transfer up into your hips and back.

If you walk tilting your feet inward (pronated) onto the inside or large ball of the big toe, you again can suffer from ankle strain and also can cause series knee pain.

Those who walk almost exclusively up on the balls of their feet (heels rarely touching or bouncing as they walk) can experience tightening of the calves and hamstrings which in turn pull on the lower back as well as painful ball-joint tenderness and swelling.

Sesamoiditis

Finally there is the duck walk or pigeon-toed options (toes pointing at 10 and 2 or inward with heels at 5 and 7) both of which misaligns the hips and can cause sciatic nerve pain and other hip, back and knee issues.  (Women in particular tend to duck-walk when wearing super high heels as it eases some of the toe pain.)

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For women obsessed with high heels, the ramifications of years of putting all your weight on your toes can result in irreversible foot pain, hammer toes, bunions, and serious knee and back strain. We weren’t meant to have our feet chronically (if ever) in the same position as Barbie dolls – it’s just not good for the body.

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So take a look at how you walk. Try to notice if your feet are turned out or in, or where you feel pressure when you take a step. An easy assessment to make is to look at the heels of your shoes – are they worn evenly or on the outer or inner portions only.

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If you suffer from foot pain and/or pain radiating up from your feet (ankles, knees, etc.), you might want to spend some time diligently working on walking straight and even – stepping from heel through to toes, feet pointed forward. I would also suggest spending at least 65% of your week in comfortable, arch-supportive, flat (or no more than a 2″ heel) shoes.

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In the evening you should kneed your feet with your knuckles massaging your heels, arches, balls of the feet, and even your toes (or get a loved one to give you a well-deserved foot massage). Then spend a few minutes seated while holding your legs out and pointing your toes into a tight stretch (like ballerina feet) and then alternating with flexed feet (heels down toes up) again holding for a tight stretch.

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The feet are really the most essential body part to daily living aside from your brain and heart. Do not neglect or abuse them. You’ve only got two and if they get ruined, you’re chair-bound!