Health

All diets and fitness programs are wrong. Some are useful.

All models are wrong, some are useful.If you’ve been entrenched in the health and fitness industry for awhile, either as a professional or as an enthusiast, you probably already know that there is no single diet or exercise program for everyone. Following a paleo diet and doing CrossFit might yield fantastic results for one person, but might not be the best program for another (even though said Paleo-CrossFitter might try to convince you otherwise).

Aside from external factors influencing our overall health and fitness level (such as proximity to a gym or rec center or outdoor parks; availability of fresh fruits and vegetables; finances to afford new running shoes or home gym equipment, etc.), us humans are privy to myriad intrinsic factors that can determine whether or not a diet or exercise program will give us the results we’re after. Intrinsic factors, such as genetics, hormones, physiology and movement patterns, past injuries and what generally floats our boats (I’d rather go for a trail run than attend a hip hop dance class, just sayin’), are unfortunately harder or completely impossible to change. And although I think we know we have to work with what we’ve got to become the best version of ourselves, we’re never quite satisfied with that and constantly play the comparison game, hoping to find that magical solution that will transform our bodies into the taught and toned fitness “celebrities” we see enjoying their #greensmoothies and admiring their #gainz in the mirror on Instagram.

I keep seeing everyone post about The Whole 30 Diet and the author of that book looks like a model, so I want to do it, too. That guy on Instagram who’s super jacked always posts pictures of Poptarts and ice cream and talks about IIFYM — I want to try that diet, too. That one blogger quit sugar and dropped a ton of weight, I’m going to quit sugar, too. Even though I’m marathon training and LOVE carbs, I’m going to cut them about because someone on Twitter raves about their high-fat, low-carb diet and how it’s great for running performance and I want to be a better distance runner, too. (more…)

The surprising reason why I haven’t been able to lose weight

The surprising reason why I haven’t been able to lose weightRemember when I signed up for the Tone It Up Bikini Series Challenge after the Phoenix Marathon in February, lost an inch or so, then gained it all back (and then some) a few weeks later?

I decided to do some research into why I’ve been struggling this time around to get down to my racing weight for the Goodlife Fitness Marathon in October, which I can usually do when I really put my mind and body to it. And although summertime BBQs, patio drinks and chips and salsa has contributed somewhat to my predicament, the surprising reason why I haven’t been able to lose weight comes down to approximately a handful of berries, a lick of peanut butter, and a couple more pieces of my daily dark chocolate quota (yes, I’ve started eating chocolate again – but not as much!) per day. So roughly 150-200 extra calories per day.

Those few extra nibbles a day (which I accounted for in MyFitness Pal) added up to a small weight gain and now maintenance, even though I’ve been in a small calorie deficit almost this entire time. Which wasn’t actually as much of a deficit as I thought, based on MyFitnessPal logging data from two years ago when I made a concentrated effort to lose weight. (more…)

The surprise secret to motivation and consistency when it comes to eating right and exercising

The surprise secret to motivation and consistency when it comes to eating right and exercisingI’m often asked by my online coaching clients how to stay motivated to work out and how not to “fall off the wagon” when it comes healthy eating. Like most of us, they know what they need to do to lose weight and how to get healthier, but fail in the execution of even the most well-thought-out plans. Although having a personal trainer or nutrition coach can help you with the what and how, they can’t help you with the why. That part — which is the hardest part when it comes to being a happy, healthy human — is entirely up to you.

Not only is it up to you, it has to come from within you. From a place buried deep down inside that you might only see glimpses of now and again during shavasana at yoga class. Or when you experience a runner’s high on the trails in the forest. Or when you’re playing with your kids. Or when you’re laugh-crying over beer at the pub with your best friends you’ve known since middle school. Or when you’re watching your dog run full-tilt alongside the ocean at the beach. Or when you’re hugging your parents.

Those experiences. That feeling. That’s the surprise secret to motivation and consistency when it comes to eating right and exercising

(I know that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. But just bear with me here… there is a point, and I will get to it :)) (more…)

What happens when your ‘after’ is worse than your ‘before’: a Tone It Up Bikini Series recap

If you follow my Instagram account, you probably noticed my #tiucheckins and #tiubootycalls for the Tone It Up Bikini Series Challenge lessened in frequency over the last few weeks.

I promise you I WAS doing the workouts (with a 5-10K run on the weekend and usually just chores on Saturday), but my nutrition was less than stellar over the past three weeks. You know that saying, “abs are made in the kitchen”… well, I want to know where this kitchen is that makes these abs, because that would be fantastic.

Delicious meal at Diner En Blanc!

Delicious French-inspired cuisine at Diner En Blanc!

All kidding aside, I struggled to find a balance these past few weeks. Usually I’m really good at eating well Monday to Thursday, living a little on Friday and Saturday, and returning to normal by Sunday. Maybe it was the onset of summer that triggered vacation mode and the desire to have chips, salsa and vino almost every night; the lovely patio we have in our backyard that just looks too inviting NOT to have family and friends over almost every weekend (hence more drinks and snacks); or all the events and activities we’ve been attending that involve even more drinks and snacks. (more…)

Challenging myself to be #evenbetter in 2 weeks with Ocean Spray®: My 5K run challenge!

Challenging myself to be #evenbetter in 2 weeks with Ocean Spray®_ My 5K run challenge!In two weeks, I’ll begin training for my third and final attempt at qualifying for the Boston Marathon while I’m eligible for the 30-35 year age bracket. (This means I need to run a 3:35 marathon time to qualify – which I’ve done – BUT actually need to train for and run a 3:30 or less to get into Boston.) Even though I’m only 31 and could keep trying to hit that 3:30 before I turn 35, I feel like I will need a break after this attempt due to general life busyness and other fitness goals I’d like to focus on – I love running, but I really don’t love marathon training. It always makes me feel really run down and those long runs really beat up my body if I don’t take a long enough break in between training cycles.

I’ve really been enjoying strength training and the Tone It Up workouts these past few months since my last BQ attempt in February of this year, and although I’ve still been running a 5K to 8K once or twice a week to maintain cardio, I’ve been taking it much too easy and letting my pace slip down more and more each week.

That’s why I was excited when Ocean Spray® challenged me to be #evenbetter by setting a healthy goal I could obtain within two weeks, making myself accountable to it by announcing it on my blog, and updating my readers and social media followers about my progress in reaching said goal over the next two weeks. So what’s my #evenbetter challenge goal, you ask? (more…)

5 ways to boost your resilience in tough times

5 ways to boost your resilience in tough timesUs humans have a lot going on these days.

On an individual level, we’re busy taking care of our families, doing chores, running errands, working one or two jobs and trying to find time to fit in fitness, healthy eating, time with loved ones and self-care.

On a societal level, we’re devouring information, sharing and consuming everything and anything, and trying to deal with what’s going on in the world today; some of it good, like complete strangers showing up to a lonely young boy’s birthday party thanks to a viral Facebook post or a puppy and a duckling who’ve become the best of friends and whose shenanigans are shared on YouTube for all to see… and some of it bad, like the recent horrific incidents involving our own species in the states and all over the world.

It’s overwhelming. It’s despairing. It brings out the best in some of us and the worst in others. And it can be almost too hard to handle. (more…)

Tone It Up Bikini Series 2016: Week 7 Recap

Happy Friday, friends!

Even though I haven’t been updating my Tone It Up Bikini Series progress as regularly on the blog and Instagram, I promise you I’ve still been doing the workouts and about 85% of the nutrition plan. Over the past few weeks we’ve been really busy with camping, BBQs, parties and other fun social stuff, plus taking care of the new addition…

THAT FACE

THAT FACE

… so I haven’t had much time to blog and share my experience so far.

Thanks to said social stuff and parties, my nutrition the past few weeks hasn’t been great. Well, from Sunday to Thursday I’ve been on point. But Fridays and Saturdays have been another story. I’ve only been slightly below maintenance these past three weeks, so my progress has pretty much stalled. I’m definitely feeling the Pilates/barre workouts and some of the moves are getting easier, which I’m happy about, and my core is getting stronger. But I’m still overdoing it a bit on the weekend and paying the price digestion-wise for it. I’m bloated like 50% of the time thanks to not eating Bri-friendly foods on the weekends, so it’s really hard to tell if my clothes are fitting a bit better. I also have another potential health issue going on that’s semi-related, and I’ll blog more about soon once I have a clear diagnosis. Ugh. (more…)

3 ways you can help convince a family member or friend to get healthy

3 ways you can help convince a family member or friend to get healthyIf you’ve been a reader of my blog for awhile, you may know my story about how and why I got into running, and later health and fitness and personal training. Although I know I’ve inspired a few friends and readers to start their own health and fitness journeys (which is amazing and awesome and is the  number one reason why I continue to share my experiences on social media), the one person I’ve always been trying to inspire is seemingly un-inspirable.

My dad.

The one who’s health issues scared me into exercise in the first place and made me swear off fast food forever. He’s stubborn, set in his ways, and can’t stand to be told “no”.

Perhaps you also have a stubborn loved one, close friend, spouse, brother, sister or parent who has bad and harmful habits you wish they would stop, because you can see how detrimental it is to their health. That despite heart attacks, angina, various heart surgeries and diabetes that has all but claimed their mobility, they just can’t change their ways. Because to you, you think that they’d rather eat burgers and fries and sweets and alcohol than be around for your wedding day. You think that because they don’t care about themselves, they don’t care about you. (more…)

Are you self-creating stress?

My happy place. I always make time to get out in nature with the dogs.

My happy place. I always make time to get out in nature with the dogs.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about balance, and my constant struggle to find it. Especially right now, with the month of May being full of birthdays, camping, trips and other activities. My weekends are pretty much booked full for the next two months. Part of me is excited by all these fun things and experiences I get to be a part of, but the other part is wondering how I’m going to find the time to take care of general chores, tackle yard work, write blog posts, write my regular freelance articles, help my online fitness clients, work at my 9-5 job, and make time for family and self care.

According to the American Psychological Association, busyness is the reason why the majority of American’s have high stress levels that interferes with their health, and as author Scott Dannemiller points out in this Huffington Post piece, the majority of the stress we experience is brought on ourselves:

Dr. Michael Marmot, a British epidemiologist, has studied stress and its effects, and found the root causes to be two types of busyness. Though he doesn’t give them official names, he describes the most damaging as busyness without control, which primarily affects the poor. Their economic reality simply does not allow for downtime. They have to work two to three jobs to keep the family afloat. When you add kids to the mix, it becomes overwhelming, and the stress results in legitimate health problems.

The second type of busyness also results in health problems, but it is a sickness we bring on ourselves. Like voluntarily licking the door handle of a preschool bathroom or having a sweaty picnic in the Ball Pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

It’s busyness we control.

Self-created stress.

I definitely think I self-create the majority of my stress. (more…)

10 easy, healthy snack ideas for the desk dweller

new vega sport performance proteinRaise your hand if your morning routine goes a little something like this:

Crap, I’m already running late for work because the kids are fighting/my hair is just NOT working today/I have nothing to wear/I lost 10 minutes of my life to Facebook/the dog just puked all over the carpet. *Looks in fridge* I guess I’ll just take this leftover spaghetti from last week to eat for lunch because I have no time to make anything else. *Opens container, notices something growing on it* Never mind, I’ll buy lunch.

And then similarly, your work day goes something like this:

It’s only 10 a.m. and I’m starving. Ohhh sweet, someone bought a box of doughnuts to the office! *Chows down on a Boston cream and gets back to work* How is it 1 p.m. already? I have so much to do, I really don’t have time to grab lunch. I’ll just see what’s in the vending machine/snack shack. *Buys a frozen Lean Cuisine* I guess this is healthy enough, it says ‘”lean” on it… and that looks like a piece of broccoli in there. *Unwraps and heats up Lean Cuisine, eats it at desk* Ugh, it’s only 3 p.m.! I’m starving. *Heads to vending machine and buys a bag of chips and a chocolate granola bar* Hopefully this will tide me over until dinner! *Gets home, feels ravenous. Eats cereal from the box while deciding what to make for dinner*

When you have a busy life and an even busier job that entails sitting behind a computer for most of the day, making time for healthy habits can be hard. Not only is it tough to take a break, get up and move around, but making healthy food choices can also be challenging.

Because most of us nine-to-fivers don’t always have the time to prepare roasted kale chips or homemade protein bars, I’ve come up with a list of snacks you can prep in a pinch and bring to work with you that will keep you fueled throughout the day until dinnertime. Bonus: You’ll save a ton of cash by bringing your own food. (more…)

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