Getting back to “after”

“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”  ~C.S. Lewis

This post is for those who have the before and after pics and who, for whatever reason, have found themselves back at the “before” picture. Unfortunately I encounter this a lot. In fact, I’ve been there before! Maybe not to the extreme of most, but I have absolutely been there. In college, I had my eating locked down. It wasn’t anything super strict but I was disciplined and balanced. I ate moderately, listened to my body, and I looked great. Then I started reading fitness magazines and following a bunch of fitness people and I lost my way. Instead of listening to my body, I blindly followed whatever newest “thing” that was supposed to give me that perfect body. Instead of making small reasonable changes, I tried to overhaul the whole system at once. It did lead to some weight gain, but even worse it lead to years of eating extremes.

beth burns fitness

Whatever your specific experience is, it’s one of the most disheartening and frustrating things. Add in the mind games we play with ourselves and the second, or third, time around becomes That. Much. Harder. So how do we do it? How do we get back to where we want to be and then stay there??

Here are a few things I’ve taken away from my experience…..

Learn from the 1st time

Learn to fail or fail to learn. ~Tal Ben Shahar

The only way the first experience becomes a waste is if you don’t learn from it and use it to help yourself make better choices this time around. Sometimes the answer is simple: you got hurt and got out of the routine. Sometimes it’s more complicated, but here are 2 of the biggest reasons I find when talking with clients:

1) The way you achieved your results was unsustainable for your life and enjoyment.

Maybe for a time, it seemed worth it to give up all your favorite foods and your social life. Until you achieved the desired results and started to realize it wasn’t enough and you wanted more out of life. Unfortunately, when you only know “on” or “off”, the only option is “off”. Find a plan that allows for some middle ground!

2) Your mindset.

Many assume they can go back to eating however they want after they achieve their desired physique. Maybe you never figured out how to make healthy eating and regular workouts enjoyable enough to keep them up when the going got tough. For me, I was so critical of myself. I never gave myself a win. I never learned how to appreciate and love my body, so I never felt like my results were good enough and that led me to keep searching for something new even when I was healthy, my eating was solid and balanced, and I looked the way I did.

I cannot even begin to tell you how huge and impactful working on improving my mindset has been for so many areas of my life. But I’ve definitely come to believe that it is absolutely necessary for a lifestyle that is both healthy and enjoyed.

Then LET IT GO

Learn from your experience, then it’s time to let it go.

Once I realized what I had had in college, I had a really hard time letting it go. Every time I slipped up, I thought about how I wouldn’t have had this problem if I had just stuck with it back then. It increased my already negative emotions and critical & harsh talk towards myself. I was “weak and stupid and undisciplined and didn’t deserve to be a trainer” and I reminded myself of this regularly.

The only way this served me was to increase my belief that I could never get back there.

The fact is that the present you is all you have to work with. Time to put on the big girl (or boy! 😉 ) panties and get to work. As the C.S. Lewis quote says, you just need to get back on the right road. You did it once. You can absolutely do it again! It’ll be a lot easier once you let go of what used to be and start telling yourself and believing that you can and you will.

Go back to the basics

One thing I kept trying to do was go back to the same things I did in college, but I couldn’t figure out why those things weren’t working for me anymore! The thing is I was in a totally different stage of life, so my priorities, responsibilities, hormones, stress levels, sleep requirements, and schedule were all different. The right road might not be the same road as last time. In other words, what worked for you the first time might not work this time around. It might be, but it might not be and that’s OK! If it’s not and you’re struggling with what to do…..

Go back to the basics. Be consistent with the basics. Build the foundation. Focus on the most important things first.

Keep in mind, for whatever reason, this is where God has you right now and He is using this second go-around to refine you & to make you even better. Don’t fight it. Don’t regret it. Keep pressing forward.

inspirational quote

4 Lies That Keep Us Unhealthy

I hate that the health and fitness industry seems to have only made getting healthy more burdensome and stressful for most. I don’t think most of us are trying to make it that way, but either way it certainly defeats the purpose right?! We live in the age of information overload. While that might sound like a good problem to have, it also makes it so so SO hard to pick out the most useful information from the newest fads or marketing gimmicks.

Health is not about looking like some photo-shopped actress or about who can be the most hard-core or dedicated. It should enhance your life, not burden it. So I’d like to set the record straight by laying out some of the biggest lies that we tend to believe that are only making it harder to become healthy and happy.

Lie #1. The nutrition part is too hard, so I will just exercise extra hard to lose weight. 

No matter how crazy intense your workouts might be, you simply can’t out train a bad diet. In fact, training too hard or too often will actually increase hunger and cravings making it harder to eat better. Exercise can make you feel better in a myriad of ways like better sleep, more energy, more discipline, better mood, better metabolism, which is why it is part of the equation. It’s just not the entire equation.

beth burns fitness

Truth: If you want to lose fat, you need to improve the way you eat. If you’re looking to get healthy and fit and you want to start with the exercise just to get yourself going, then go for it! Just don’t expect to lose a lot of fat without changing your eating habits.

Lie #2. If I want to lose the fat around my (insert body part), then I must do extra work on said body part.

This goes right along with #1. Exercising a specific body part in order to lose fat in that specific area is futile. All the crunches in the world will not burn away the fat on your stomach. They will strengthen your abs. Strengthening all of your muscles, whether they have a layer of fat over them or not, is great for better movement and overall health. Unfortunately though you have very little say over where your body loses fat first.

Truth: Your genetics determine the rate at which and the order in which you lose fat. Of course, there are things you can do to encourage fat loss, but spot training is not one of them.

Lie #3. If I want to look like her, I need to eat like her.

I used to constantly be checking out what this trainer or that celebrity was doing. I was always looking for that thing that would be the life-changer for me and my clients. The only problem with all the information out there is that all it really does is keep you distracted from finding what works for you.

Come on now. For the most part, you know what you need to eat. But what’s challenging is breaking the old habits and creating the new ones.

Truth: You don’t need a new diet. You need to find tools that help you put into place a way of eating that not only gets you results, but is sustainable FOR YOU so that you keep your results! Sustainability is key. If you feel deprived and like you’re missing out, it’s only a matter of time before you go off the deep end. So while you may not get everything you want, you want to be getting enough to feel satisfied.

Lie #4. If it doesn’t happen in a month, it’s never gonna happen.

Most of us have completely unrealistic timelines for fat loss, so we quit before our bodies can ever catch up. Our bodies are designed to resist change. It takes time for them to adjust, especially if you’re making reasonable (i.e. sustainable!!) changes! There will come a time when the changes start to compound and the scales will start to tip, but how much time? Everybody’s a little different.

Truth: Accept that fat loss is going to be a process that takes time, patience, and persistence. The absolute best thing you can do is let go of the unrealistic timeline! It took you a while to get where you are and it will take you a while to get back to where you want to be.

faddiets

*For lasting change, stop looking for the quick fix and go back to the basics. Health is not about how perfect you can eat or exercise or look. It’s about choosing the things that are better for you, the majority of the time. It’s about making lasting changes that create a more full and enjoyable lifestyle FOR YOU.

Loving your body while wanting to change it

The other day I was looking through old pictures and was reminded of the ever so common experience that I’m sure many, if not all, of us have had. You know the one where you’re looking at pictures of yourself from back in the day and think, “I can’t believe I didn’t like my body back then,” or “I can’t believe I thought I was fat there!” This is usually closely followed by: “What I wouldn’t give to look like that now.”Ah yes, this experience is not limited to those who are overweight. I have been guilty of this many a time. In college, I yearned after my high school body. A few years after that, I was yearning after my college body. Until one day it hit me: if I continue to do this, someday I’d be looking back and wishing I had this current body.

I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, that’s so insightful! Yes, I have to get off this crazy cycle and just love and enjoy my body RIGHT NOW.” The only problem is that’s a lot easier said than done. As much as I tried, all I could seem to focus on were the flaws and imperfections in my current body. I started to wonder: is it even possible to love and accept my body as is and want to change it at the same time?

fitness photo

I absolutely believe it IS possible! Not only possible, but pretty important for balance in your mind, body, and spirit.

Feeling pretty skeptical right about now?? Hang with me….

Let me start with this analogy: I love my life right now. I’m happily married and I have the freedom to focus on going after my dreams. It’s pretty great. However, as much as I love this phase of life, I don’t want to stay here forever. I hope for change in the future and I’m even doing things that are hopefully moving me toward that change. There are days where I do great and there are days where I totally fail in this pursuit. (As a former professional procrastinator, I’m working on my time management skills but they still leave a lot to be desired.) Back in my perfectionist days, every bad day would lead to a downward spiral of self-loathing and all the reasons why I can’t do it.

Now, since putting away all of the BS that is perfectionism ;), a bad day is simply feedback that allows me to re-evaluate and figure out if there’s anything I could change in order to help myself out.

Now let me explain how I got to a better place of loving and accepting my body….

Where do you hang your identity

First, I was able to get to this place by realizing that my job and my success do not define me. In the same way, I can love my body while taking steps to change it.

After all, my body is what houses my soul, my brain, my heart, my personality – all the things that make me me. The shape of it does not determine any of these things. Just like a good book, the best thing about it is not in the exterior at all. My body does not define me and changing it won’t make me more or less worthy of love.

The more I believe this, the easier it becomes to love and accept my body…for the amazing creation that it is and for the life that it provides and for everything it allows me to do each day. The more I hang my identity here, the harder it will be to accept my body as is. The more I base my love for my body on my performance and results, the harsher I will be.

Fighting the urge to compare

you are true

Comparison is a heavy burden to place on yourself. It will do nothing but enslave you.

In this auto-tuned, photo-shopped, and social media-driven culture we live in, I think we’ve become obsessed with perfection. It’s doesn’t matter how often we tell ourselves that it’s an illusion, it’s still hard not to compare. Fight this by finding what triggers discontentment and comparison in you and take the necessary steps to help yourself out. Maybe just awareness is enough or maybe it means unplugging more often or switching out your magazines for a book. I don’t know what it’ll look like for you, but it’ll be worth it. I can promise you that.

There is no one alive that is youer than you. That’s pretty cool! No need to worry over being authentic! Be you and you will be.

Ending negative self talk

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” ~Ephesians 4:29

OK, let’s be honest. How many of you have read that verse before and ever thought about the words you say to yourself? I hadn’t.

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” ~James 3:5

Our words are powerful and yet, most of us don’t think twice about how we talk to ourselves. Just because no one else hears it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be mindful of the words you say to yourself. Especially when you realize that you are in your own head all the time. So naturally, you’re much more prone to believe the things you say to yourself over what anyone else says to us. So next time you’re looking in the mirror, remember:

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” ~Proverbs 16:24

So why is it so important to start loving your body now?

Because when you love it, you want to take the time to listen to it, honor it, and care for it.

I was recently reading something from fitness blogger Neghar Fonooni and this quote especially stuck out to me:

“The hard part is separating the different stages of my physique from my feelings of self-worth. The hard part is finding the courage to be fully authentic, to live in my skin with a sense of freedom and ease–to understand and accept, every single day, that I will not suddenly be more worthy of love and acceptance if I lose 10 pounds.”

It is hard. SO hard sometimes. So start small….next time you look through old pictures or look in the mirror, be thankful for the body that holds the beautiful story that is you and be kind to it. This is where it starts.

Healthier Ways To Enjoy Pasta + Recipe

Most people are super afraid of pasta because of it’s carb-heavy nature. However, there are a number of easy ways to make pasta a healthier option…

Smaller portion size
The portion sizes at restaurants are out of control, especially at Italian places! Keep in mind, that 1 portion is a cupped handful. When possible, try to substitute white pasta for 100% whole wheat, multigrain, or brown rice pasta.

Pair it with a protein
Protein helps you feel full sooner and for longer and revs up your metabolism. In fact, a recent study found that when intaking higher amounts of protein participants saw improvement, no matter what the ratios of carbs and fats were! So I am always encouraging my clients to get a good amount of protein in at every meal.

Skip the cream sauce
The cream sauces tend to be full of unhealthy fats and really high in calories. Pesto, tomato, or oil are all healthier options.

Increase veggies
Veggies are rich in fiber and cancer- and free-radical-fighting nutrients. They also balance out the acidity in our bodies. Prepare them any way you like. They go great with pasta!

Exercise
As if there weren’t enough good reasons already, exercise also increases your body’s ability to utilize carbs. In fact, if you regularly do high-intensity sports or exercise or lift weights, your body can handle more carbs and needs them for proper functioning!

This is not to say that you should start carb-loading. Carbohydrate intake depends on a number of factors: your goals, genetics, carb source, and activity level. However, they are not the enemy we have been led to believe they are. Focus on eating reasonable amounts of macronutrients from quality sources. Focus on doing it consistently. Your body will take care of the rest.

Below is a recipe that I got from a friend. I modified it by increasing the protein and veggies and decreasing the pasta. It’s a super easy and super yummy dinner, but this way it’s gonna give you more bang for your fat-loss-lovin’ buck. 🙂 I’ve gotten requests for the recipe a few times in the last month, so I thought I’d share.

tomatoes

a couple of my favorite brands

Chicken & Veggies Pasta (with a kick 😉 )

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds of chicken (cut into cubes)
1/2 box of penne noodles
1 28 oz. can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 bag of frozen green beans
3/4 C. frozen mixed bell peppers (or however much you’d prefer)

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakesphoto.PNG-4
1/4 tsp. italian seasoning
1 tsp minced garlic
2 T. coconut or avocado oil
Parmesan cheese (optional)

 

Directions:
– Cook pasta as directed
– Saute chicken with garlic, S&P, and oil until done
– Add in frozen veggies a few minutes into sautéing, and add tomatoes at the end to warm them up
– Combine pasta and chicken and veggies and season to taste

healthier pasta option

SO GOOD

 

 

The Benefits of NOT focusing on Fat Loss

I am taking a big risk with my upcoming holiday program (which will be available to you Tomorrow!!). It’s not a challenge, or some kind of crazy cleanse or detox, in fact it’s not even a fat loss program! If you’re thinking, “what else would does a personal trainer even offer?!”, then allow me to explain….

If I were to ask you right now how long you’ve been unhappy with your body and therefore trying to change/improve it, what would you tell me? In my experience, most people will give me a number in years as to how long they’ve been at it. Most women start struggling with their body image in high school, if not sooner. Most men start struggling in their mid-20s or so. That’s a long time, right?

So what if I suggested that you stop focusing on fat loss? In fact, what if I highly recommended it? Would you even consider it? Or would you just laugh it off thinkin’ “that Beth girl is funny….or crazy.” (I’m not denying either. 😉 )

Most of us spend years and years with fat loss being our one and only health or fitness goal. I know I did. Until one day when I just felt so…over it all. I was at a point where it felt like something needed to change, so I thought, what if I just took a month off? What if I just took one month and focused on something- ANYTHING – other than losing fat?

Well, I did it. I lived to tell the tale. There were even a number of things I gained from the experience- big things, in fact. So big, that I actually decided to put together a program where fat loss is not the main focus! Here are a few things I took away from it….

1) Big Picture Perspective

For the first time in a reeeeally long time, I decided to just set aside this ideal image I had in my mind. Turns out, I was so one-track mind about what I thought I should look like as a trainer that I had developed some pretty serious tunnel vision.  Being so focused in not only took up a TON of physical and mental energy, but I had gotten to the point where all I could see were the flaws.

Changing my focus allowed me to zoom out the lens, which helped me to look outside myself and see the bigger picture. Big picture perspective is being reminded that there’s so more to life than the perfect body and so much more to YOU than some love handles and cellulite!

2F7B3475 (1280x853)

2) Learning to trust yourself

“Self-trust is showing up in your life with your likes, dislikes, preferences, desires, wants, needs, hopes, dreams, lines in the sand, insecurities on full display and letting the chips fall where they may in terms of other people’s responses and reactions and acceptance (or not).” ~Jill Coleman

Taking a step back from a goal you’ve had for a long time is always scary. You wonder what the heck you’re gonna do and if it’s the right move. But you start to realize that just because you don’t have it all figured out right now doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You simply figure it out as you go and correct course along the way. It’s a process but learning to go with your instincts and trust yourself is huge in so many areas of life….weight loss is no exception.

For me, I learned to trust myself, but even more so I was able to work hard, do my best, and then surrender the results to God.

3) Self-reflection

When I stopped focusing on all the outside things that needed improvement, I was able to look a little deeper within myself. I was able to see how the constant pressure I put on myself created an anxiety and fear that I didn’t even really realize was there. Once I knew it was there, I was able to start working through it.

4) Enjoyment & Balance

Most of us already know that the body doesn’t operate at it’s best when it’s under a lot of stress. Maybe it’s because of my job or maybe it’s just that I’m impatient, but there was always this urgency to fix every imperfection and to do it NOW.  Taking a break from that mindset and timeline felt like a weight had been lifted. It was such a relief. With the weight lifted, I was able to just enjoy and find a balance I hadn’t been able to achieve before.

step back

 

In the end, it was a big turning point for me in my mindset, my business, and my nutrition (which, like so many, has also been one of my biggest struggles). There’s just something about allowing yourself a little breathing room to relax into the process – it’s huge. So yes, I’m saying…

Sometimes it’s also OK to not focus on fat loss. It doesn’t have to be forever. You can always go back. But if you’ve been focusing on it for a long time and not getting where you want to be, then something’s not right.

Sometimes it’s OK to not focus on improvement or progress, but to just be. To  slow down, breathe, and be Present.

As for my program, no it’s not a challenge, a cleanse, a detox, or a fat loss program per say. I took a step back and saw 2 big issues:

1) Many people have been trying to lose weight for a long time with little to no success.
2) The holidays seemed like an especially hard time to try to lose weight seeing as most of us struggle to just maintain.

I want to help take some of the stress out of it, to have some fun and enjoy the holidays while starting on the foundational tools that will help you to hit the ground running in January…..with hopefully a new mindset and perspective and all the tools in place to achieve whatever goal you want!

***For anyone interested in some hands-on training, nutrition, and mindset advice geared toward helping you navigate the holiday season, click below all the details…

 

Trick or TRAIN!

Here’s a quick Halloween gym workout to get your heart rate up and your metabolism rocking. For those who have some experience with kettlebells! If you don’t, feel free to substitute with an exercise that you know!

Here’s the breakdown:

Warm Up : 5 minutes – your choice

Workout:

Windmills – 5 each
Goblet Squats – 10
Renegade Rows – 8 each (If using kettlebells, make sure they are on a nice flat surface!)
Single-leg Hip Bridges – 10 each

*Rest only enough to keep good form
*2-3 Rounds total (You can go 4 if you’re really feeling good. )

Finisher: a little cardio blast designed to bump up your metabolism and finish you off. 😉

Star Jumps – 15 seconds
Rest – 10 seconds
Plank – 15 seconds
Rest – 10 seconds
Hand-to-Hand Swings – 15 seconds
Rest – 10 seconds
Bear Crawl – 15 seconds
Rest – 10 seconds

*Repeat for 3-4 Rounds total

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Halloween!

 

3 Keys to Keeping It Off

Most of us probably know or know of someone who has lost the weight and then put it all back on. Or maybe you are that person. Well you’re not alone. Just try to look up the “where are they now” stats for the Biggest Loser. Considering that there has been 16 seasons with an average of 20 contestants each, you’d hope you’d be able to find an abundance of success stories! However, from my searches, they seem to be pretty sparse.

See the problem doesn’t seem to be so much with losing the weight as it is with keeping it off. In fact, there have been numerous weight loss studies that show just how grim the statistics are when it comes to sustaining it.

HOWEVER, there are those that have achieved their fat loss goals and continue to keep it off. When it comes these individuals, it’s no surprise that there appears to be some common similarities. The 3 factors below seem to be present in those who are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle long term:

1) A support system

I don’t think I really need to explain this. I’m sure we’ve all experienced how much harder something is when we don’t feel supported. These days a healthy lifestyle can already feel like you’re going against the flow. If you don’t have people in your life that encourage you in this, (or at the very least are understanding and supportive), then of course it’s going to be that much harder.

airplane

If your friends make you feel bad about making healthy choices or tempt you to constantly cheat, it might be time to have a DTR. Explain to them why this is so important to you and ask them to kindly get on board. Suggest other things to do instead of pizza and beer night. If not, maybe it’s time to find some new friends with similar goals or interests.

2) Some system of self-accountability

It’s been found that one of the #1 tools in successful maintenance is some form of self-monitoring. Of course, I’m sure most of your minds went straight to the scale or a certain pair of jeans. While that’s not wrong, here’s why I don’t think it’s the best method. The scale doesn’t give us any measure of what we’re doing day-in or day-out. It can only tell us that something is or isn’t working after the fact. And it can be pretty fickle even at that.

Why not get ahead of it and use something that will keep us more mindful of our day-to-day actions, something that can be specified and easily measured? Here are some better options to self-monitoring:

*The 90/10 Rule

Unless you’re looking to compete in a figure competition, there’s little difference between eating 100% compliant and 90%. Say you eat 3 meals and 1 snack-per-day. That’s 28 meals a week. This means that you have 3 meals/snacks (I like to round up. 😉 ) where you can enjoy those foods that don’t necessarily move you toward your goals.

I have found that personally, I can maintain my current body composition with an 80/20 split. That’s maintenance, so I’m not losing or gaining any fat. 🙂 So if 90% feels to hard, start a little lower.

*Counting Your Macros or Calories

While this method has been made much easier with digital food scales and food tracking apps, it’s still one of the more time-consuming and in-depth methods of accountability. I usually only recommend this to clients who already have some of the more basic habits under their belt and are still looking for more results. It is great for getting a better idea of proper portion sizes, which are especially out of control here in America.

*A Food Journal

This is one of the simplest ways to start tracking, but most overlooked. I scoffed at the idea myself for a long time. But I read this recently and thought it was a great example of why it’s so helpful:

For many of us, eating can become a lot like driving. Have you ever driven somewhere and realized upon arriving that you were so zoned out that you can’t remember entire parts of the drive? Clearly, on some level, your mind was still engaged or else you would have crashed. But, another part of your mind was thinking about all the other things you needed to get done that day or the any number of other things going on in your life.

Unlike driving, a food journal allows you to go back and take a closer look at what you consumed that day. Yes, it can be hard to write down those treats and over-indulgences. Remember: you’re not a better or worse person based on the types or amounts of food that you eat. A food journal is simply a way to help keep yourself accountable. If you’re not honest on it, then you’re just lying to yourself and that’s just not gonna get you anywhere.

3) Exercise.

It has been shown that people who didn’t just focus on diet but also included some form of exercise had a higher rate of sustained weight loss. Now, yes, I have my opinions on what works best  and what is most effective for certain goals. But ultimately, any type of physical activity is exercise. I just. Want. More. Movement!

Plus, most people will only stick with stuff they don’t despise, so for serious: find something you ENJOY doing!

handstand

Dance, lift, run, swim, walk, bike, yoga, kayak, jump rope, kick box, somersault, PLAY. Do what you love and you won’t hear me say a word about it…

…unless you ask my opinion. 😉

NOW, this all that being said…

The holidays seem to be an especially difficult time for, well, just about everybody 🙂 to maintain consistency and their weight. This has always frustrated me because instead of the holidays being an enjoyable and rejuvenating time, it ends up being more stressful and uncomfortable than anything else. Over-eating and feeling stuffed into your jeans is NOT fun. On top of it, we end up having to spend the first couple months of the year just getting back to where we were in November!

To avoid this, I’ve come up with the strategies needed to enjoy the holidays while maintaining your fitness and physique! These include time-saving workouts, healthy recipes, tools for navigating the big meals and holiday parties while still feeling satisfied, and of course, some encouragement and accountability from me! I’m super excited to finally be offering my first online product! However, I will only be offering this to a select number of people, so if you’re interested, get on the waiting list below to be sure that you will get all the juicy details and be notified as soon as the program opens up. Can’t wait for another awesome holiday season…no deprivation, no scales, no stress, just fun! 🙂






 

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