6 Ways to Stop Cravings from Owning You

Admittedly, I’ve had my ups and downs with cravings. I’ve had times where they weren’t much of an issue and then I’ve had times where I got lazy and fell back into old habits. When I first started working from home, I really struggled with them. I would crave stuff when I was procrastinating or when I couldn’t figure something out and I wanted to quit. I’ve struggled with the nightly sugar cravings. I’ve felt like they were so strong I simply could not resist. So honestly, this is still a practice for me as well.

I know they have a purpose. It’s one of the ways your body communicates with your brain on how it’s feeling and can be a window into deeper issues such as hormonal imbalance or vitamin deficiency. However, the body also doesn’t like change and will resist it just because it has become accustomed to a certain way of eating. So sometimes cravings can feel very real, but are more about your body being conditioned to intake a certain amount of food or a certain kind of food at a certain time of day (i.e. sugar in the evenings.). Either way, they often just feel like another obstacle on the journey to healthier eating habits and especially fat loss. So how do we deal with them?

First, it’s important to learn how to decipher if they are a physical or mental craving.  When you first start paying attention to this, it can be hard to distinguish which is which. Physical cravings are the actual feelings of hunger or low energy levels. Mental cravings are what Joel and I like to call mouth hunger. That’s when your mouth is craving the taste of something even though your stomach is not hungry. Mental cravings can also show up when your mind is drained and feeling like it needs a break.

Of course, you can make sure you’re drinking enough water and give yourself a cut-off time in the evening. I actually use both of those, but I wanted to give you a couple you might not have heard of yet. Some of the newer things that are really working for me.

Keep in mind, I put them in categories but some of these work for both mental and physical cravings….

Physical Cravings

*First and foremost, make sure you’re eating and drinking enough!!

For most of us, breakfast and lunch tend to be our healthier meals because we’re more mentally fresh and awake. Make sure you are eating enough here! Because as the day goes on and we use up our limited amount of willpower, we grow more mentally and physically tired. So if you’re ravenous by the time dinner rolls around, you’re either not eating enough or at least, not enough of a certain food group.

–Always have healthy snacks available to take the edge off. I like to keep a protein bar in my purse. Some other great options are a handful of nuts, veggies with a little bit of hummus, rolled lunch meat and cheese, or fruit.

— Get enough protein. Protein helps keep you full. About a palm size for women (that’s about 20-30 grams) and 2 of those for men at each meal.

*Buffer foods.

This was introduced to me by my coach, Jill Coleman. These are foods that won’t help or hurt your goals, but they take the edge off. Things like dark chocolate, wine, or nut butters are great at this…as long as they’re eaten in moderation. My personal summertime favorites are watermelon and frozen dark chocolate-covered bananas.

SO. GOOD.

SO. GOOD.

*A little bonus one: Mint. Mint is actually a natural appetite suppressant and can be very helpful in dealing with cravings. Mint tea, sugar-free mint gum, or brushing your teeth have all been shown to help!

Mental Cravings

*Distract yourself! Often times, our minds are just bored and/or tired and are looking for something to do. Usually this occurs while we’re sitting in front of the tv, so the best thing to do is get up! Go for a walk, take a bath, read a book, or just go to bed.

I’m always amazed at quickly my cravings fade when I get outside with some fresh air. It’s like my head clears and everything snaps back into focus. I realize I really am fine and I really don’t need that sweet.

*Give into it…but just a little.

This is something I’ve started practicing more recently. If you’re really craving something, allow yourself a small handful. Really enjoy and savor each bite and then be done with it. That’s it. I know this might sound silly but it works for 2 really good reasons:

1) It allows for nothing to be off limits. What can I say, we always want what we can’t have! It’s actually been proven that when something is off limits you will crave it even more. This makes it so nothing is off limits, but gives us practice in how to control our cravings. This helps us avoid going all in and feeling pretty good about it….until afterwards that is. 🙂

 

 

2) It builds up your willpower. Willpower is like a muscle. It has to be consistently worked to get stronger. It may not feel like it at first, but it will get stronger. As you build it up, you’ll start seeing it as a challenge. Can I eat just 1 french fry? Can I be good with 3 bites of ice cream?

How nice would it be to able to really enjoy one small dessert and then just be done with it?!? No more waging a mental war in your head over if you should or should not have more.

Practicing mindfulness

Ultimately, to conquer cravings there needs to be a mindset change. Sometimes you have to be willing to sit with it and work through the uncomfortableness. Don’t let food and cravings own you, especially the mental ones. Remember that just because you’re craving something doesn’t mean you have to act on it. With some patience and practice, most cravings really will lessen and go away.

This doesn’t mean you have to white-knuckle your way through it. Try some of these out and see which ones work best for you. Make small changes and make them easy enough that you know you can do it. Add in someone to hold you accountable. Know that you will probably not do it perfectly, but that ain’t no thang…

defeat-212x300

 

13 Lessons I Learned In My 20s

It’s funny because the other day my brother called with an assignment from his health class. He didn’t tell me what it was about until after he had asked me the required questions, but it turns out it was a survey on exercise addiction. I’m happy to report that according to the survey I am NOT addicted. We laughed about the questions and then hung up. But it hit me that if he had given me that survey 7-8 years ago my answers would have been different. I was addicted back then.

Back then, I would get extremely upset if I didn’t get my workout in. I never listened to my body. I worked out as hard as I could every time and it would often determine my mood depending on how well it went. Sure I was small, but I didn’t have a period, I would get close to blacking out every time I stood up, and my hormones were completely out of whack. My nutrition was either really disciplined or balls-out cheats because I didn’t have the self-control to stop. On top of all that, I had very little self-esteem or confidence.

Fast forward to the present. I turned 30 this past Sunday. Then yesterday I went on a bit of a rant about moderation and balance. That and the above story are actually what inspired this little post on 13 important things I’ve learned in the last 10 years. Some of it is about health and fitness, some of it is funny, and a lot of it is about mindset. Oh, and if you missed the rant on facebook, no worries. I put it in here too because I think it’s just that important. So here they are, in particular order….

By the way, one thing about me: I LOVE quotes. So just be prepared cuz they be all over this thang!

1) Sometimes ya gotta preach rather than listen.

One of the things we’ve learned about the human brain is that the human brain believes what you say to yourself more than what anyone else says to you. ~Eric Cobb

Pretty crazy right? But I bet if most of you really think about it, it would ring true in your life. I also heard recently about a study that showed that upwards of 80% of most people’s thought life is negative. Unfortunately this was very true for me. I used to be so harsh; I never allowed myself a win. I focused on all the imperfections and the areas that needed improvement. I really beat myself down. My low self-esteem had nothing to do with my support group. My parents never made me feel anything but loved and supported. I never really experienced any bullying in school. It took me a long to realize what a powerful effect my own thoughts had on me.

**So start now my friends. Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself.

2) Learn to take a compliment!!

I don’t even want to admit how many years this took me to learn. I can still see the puzzled look on my mom’s face and the frustrated look on Joel’s after they would try to pay me a compliment. I always had a snarky remark or a reason I didn’t deserve the compliment.

*Needless to say, on those occasions when someone else wants to “preach” to you by paying you a compliment, TAKE IT.  Say thank you and shut up! Otherwise, people just might stop complimenting you altogether and believe me, that’s worse.

3) If you want something from your spouse, ask for it.

I know this might sound crazy, but my husband is not a mind reader and neither is yours. 🙂 And the sooner you can learn to stop playing mind games and just be honest and open with each other, the better. Instead of stewing cuz the hubby isn’t helping clean up dinner, just ask him to help. What’s the worst that could happen? 🙂

4) Get over yourself and realize that nobody’s got it figured out.

I’ve spent many years feeling very paralyzed by fear. Mostly fear of failure, especially failing in front of others. I never really knew why I was so afraid of it. Until I saw this quote the other day and was humbled to realize how well it put it into words…

It is pride’s hunger for perfection that paralyzes a heart in fear. ~Ann Voskamp

The only way I moved past the fear was by getting over myself and realizing that nobody’s got it all figured out!  I couldn’t let that stop me from trying anymore. Which leads me to this…..

5) There are worse things than failing.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” I don’t know who said that first, but I find it to be the only way to look at it.  Sometimes it bums me out how long I sat on the sidelines because I was afraid to fail. But even that I believe was for a reason. We learn and grow the most in times of trial. Luckily, I finally woke up to the fact that I was a lot more miserable not trying at all.

what if you fly

*You will fail. You will have trials.  You will fall down. But that is how we learn to fly.

6) Never wax your own bikini area. Just….Don’t.

I think that pretty much covers it. Yep.

7) Get enough sleep!!

Seriously, I don’t know what it is about today’s culture that we think running on as little amounts of sleep as possible is somehow commendable. Remember me mentioning that my hormones were all jacked up? Yeah, turns out all I needed was a good 8 hours of sleep each night. The benefits of sleep are far-reaching and really quite amazing. (I go into a little more detail over here if you’re interested.)

learn to love it people

learn to love it people

Ain’t no shame in needing sleep, so please, give your body the rest it needs and deserves.
 

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
  for he gives to his beloved sleep.  ~Psalm 127: 2

8) Being lean is NOT everything.

I really do love working out. I love feeling AND looking fit and strong. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But is it everything? Absolutely not. My life is not exercise or a number on a scale or how hot I look in a swimsuit.

My life is my husband, my family, my friends, my dogs, and above all else, my faith. And if I were to tighten down on my nutrition and get super ripped and lean, I’d still be me.

*All I’m saying is be very careful of putting anything up on a pedestal and thinking that you will be happy if you could just have that one thing.

9) Sustainability is everything.

Moderation: the process of lessening or eliminating extremes; doing nothing in excess.

I get why people roll their eyes when they hear the term “moderation”. We either think it’s not “hardcore” enough OR we’ve decided that we are just the “all-or-nothing”-type personality. I personally used to put myself in the latter group. It took me a long time to realize that that mindset was exactly what kept me from really making progress. Let me explain…

As humans, I don’t think we’re very good at finding balance. The current culture doesn’t help, but our work/rest and self-discipline/grace ratios are so far out of whack. We try one extreme until we can’t bear it any longer then we swing all the way over to the other side. Deprive, binge, deprive, binge, and so on. But the thing is we are HUMAN. And while most of us would laugh if someone asked if we thought we were perfect, what we say with that all-or-nothing attitude is: I will be perfect or I won’t even bother to try! When I say it like that it sounds ridiculous, right?! But that’s what we do!

How do you think you’d feel if you started letting go of those impossible standards and thinking of it in terms of improvement instead of perfection? For me personally, I actually started making progress and ya know what else? I started enjoying it! So how about it?

Let’s work to improve our body instead of punish it. Let’s work on the discipline to say no sometimes, but also on giving ourselves the grace to mess up, to not eat perfect all the time, to figure it out as we go! Because the thing is, all-or-nothing always ends up back at nothing.

So if what everybody says is true, my metabolism will go to complete pot this year. But honestly, I’m not worried. Partly because worrying does nothing to help the situation, but also because I know I will figure it out.

10) Stop Comparing.

comparison*I know I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. Comparison is you telling God that He did it wrong. And if you insist on it, it will suck all the joy out of life. The fact of the matter is comparison is a game you will never win, seeing as you will never be anyone but you, so why bother?

11) DIY projects are rarely as easy as pinterest makes them look and never as easy as HGTV makes them look!

nailed it

*Story. Of. My. Life…not even joking.

12) The little things add up.

It’s the little things, done day in and day out, that make up your life and who you are. Stop trying to find the ace in the hole. Work hard. Try to move forward in some way every day and leave the rest up to God.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. ~Proverbs 16:9

13) Don’t be anxious

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  ~Matthew 6:27

I know, easier said than done. But God has gotten us this far and He will bring us home. What a blessing He gives to us by promising that He’s got all of our tomorrows so that we can simply focus on today. Let go of that anxiety and worry. Don’t let the things you want cause you to forget the many things you have.

So there it is folks. I hope you enjoyed it cuz I enjoyed writing it. So far, I’m feeling pretty good about no longer being a 20-something…. 🙂

yep

yep  😉

 

 

4 Ways to Make Change Easier

Let’s just admit this right now, change is hard. It’s rarely convenient and sometimes it really just sucks. In the health and fitness realm, nutrition is by far one of the hardest things for most of us to change. I know this from experience….

When I got into fitness in college, I was still eating whatever I wanted. I figured that if I trained hard enough I could compensate for eating whatever I wanted. So I put all my effort in at the gym in order to “earn” my food and I could throw down with the best of them…..(OK, maybe not quite like Joey. 🙂 )

This actually worked for a while, but it eventually started catching up with me. My body wasn’t where I wanted it to be and more importantly, I didn’t feel very good because my body just simply couldn’t handle all the crap anymore.

My first few attempts at changing didn’t last long. I thought if I was going to be a trainer I had to eat the perfect diet, but I just didn’t seem to have it in me. I beat myself up and figured I could never help people if I had no self control or discipline myself.  I felt helpless, being torn between not wanting my life to be consumed with food prep and never being able to eat sweets or eat out but I also was fed up with feeling bloated and like food controlled me.  So how did a food-lover like myself finally find some success?

Here’s where I finally started…..

Pick something…pick anything!

I know you’ve heard me say this before, but I don’t care. 🙂 Pick one thing to work on. I know, I know, that takes too long. We want results and we want them now. The problem with that is we have years and years of certain eating habits built into us. So just like you didn’t get out of shape overnight, it’s going to take some time to build up new habits to replace the old ones.

Here’s the thing: I want you to think about how long you’ve been trying to change the way you eat. Now go back to the first time you tried to change your eating habits and think about how far you’d be if you had started with a habit, worked at it until it was set, and then built on that.

It’s sounds so reasonable, but it’s hard to drown out this culture of quick fixes and instant gratification. We look at the 30 lbs in 30 days diet and think, “I could do just about anything for 30 days!” The problem comes 30 days after that, when we are either right back where we started (or heavier) or we have developed a binge/deprive cycle because that’s the only way we know how to stick with the program.

faddiets

The time is gonna pass either way. In a year, you could be right where you are now or you could commit to those small habits, build on them as you get better and better, and have 12 to 24 new habits that have you looking and feeling better. Dare I say, that almost sounds enjoyable. 😉

Make it easier

Life has got enough ups and downs and challenges as it is and willpower is exhaustible. There will always be an excuse. If you want to make a lasting change, you have to make it easy enough that you know for certain you can do it no matter what life throws at you.. These little changes might not feel like you’re doing enough, but trust me, you are. Willpower is like a muscle, the more consistently you train it the bigger and stronger it becomes. As you continue, these things will become habits that you don’t even have to think about!

So back to making it easier. Most of us eat (or at least prepare) the majority of our meals at home. So maybe that’s where you start. Find healthy new recipes, plan out the grocery list, and stock your fridge and pantry as necessary. Don’t worry about eating out or what you’re going to do at friends’ houses, just focus on what you eat at home.

If that feels like too much, make your focus smaller. Ask yourself, what can I change?

Can you start trying out a healthier dinner option a few times a week? Can you hard boil a batch of eggs and have them peeled and ready as an easy way to add more protein to your breakfast?  Can you change out your sandwich at lunch for a salad, wrap, or a bun-less burger? Can you replace the late night sweet with a protein shake or a piece of fruit? Can you skip the second helping?

The key here is to not let yourself get bogged down by crossing bridges you may never get to. Zero in on the target until you can easily hit it every time. Then simply move on to the next. You just might be surprised how little it takes to see change sometimes.

Forget the rules and learn what works for you

It’s actually been scientifically proven that when we are told we can’t have something, our desire for that thing increases. So what if, instead of a list of “good” and “bad” foods, no food was off limits.  What if we dropped the guilt and stopped beating ourselves up every time we slip up? This was big for me. When I stopped putting all sorts of foods on the “bad” list, I stopped binging on sweets and my ability to feel in control skyrocketed. However I ask myself these few questions first…

-Is this gonna help or hurt my goals?

-Am I gonna feel better or worse after I’ve eaten this? (body, not mindset, wise. Remember: no guilt!)

-Is this something I really want and how often do I get a chance to have this?

-Is it worth it?

Over time, you’ll learn what foods are worth it and which ones aren’t….for you. No it’s not easy at first, but it become easier as your body starts to look and feel better, your preferences start to change, and you build up your will power.

habits

Focus on  ADDING

Instead of focusing on all the things you “shouldn’t” have, start focusing on what you can add into your diet to make it better. The more protein you add into each meal the less room there will be for other things. The more healthy recipes you start add to the menu, the less room there is for other less healthy recipes. The water you drink, the less cravings and less soda you’ll have room for.

How about adding some intermediary foods? These are the foods that bring you down off the ledge. These are foods that make you feel like you’re indulging without derailing your goals. They keep you sane and satiated but also help build up that will power. Liiiiike wine, avocados, nut butters, or chocolate. Because what is life without a little chocolate?!

There are also some cool websites out there, like this one, that offer tons of great ways to substitute flour with protein powder and make delectable baked goods like this:

It's a 4th of July flag cake! Can you believe June's almost over?! Seriously how is that possible?!......ahem, anyways back to my post

It’s a 4th of July flag cake! Can you believe June’s almost over?! Seriously how is that possible?!……ahem, anyways back to my post

See, what I’m really trying to do here is get you to look at nutrition from a different mindset. A much healthier mindset.  Fat loss is a process, but it can be a positive one! It doesn’t have to involve crazy deprivation/binge cycles or you just white knuckling your way through it. You won’t always do it perfectly, but if you persist I promise it will be worth it! No more searching and confusion, no more money down the drain on another fad diet, no more yo-yo dieting that leaves you feeling worse than before, no more guilt and self-loathing; just YOU knowing what works for YOU. So don’t be afraid to start small. Don’t roll your eyes at it either. Like most change, there’s never a perfect time for it. Ya just gotta start.

 

So You Wanna Look Like A Superhero… (part 2)

In part 1, I talked about why it’s unrealistic and detrimental to your body and mind to compare yourself to anyone or expect perfection, but what can we take away from our actor friends? The obvi answer is that while they might not look like the perfected version we see on screen or in pics, they do still have to get into good enough shape to look fit!  So what’s their secret?! The answers might surprise you….

When asked what she did to get in shape for Black Widow, Scarlett Johannson’s typical reply is, “I workout like a dude.”

To help Anne Hathaway build muscle and learn to ‘move and react like a cat,’ Anne’s trainer put her through ‘grueling’ routines of squats, lunges, strength training, kettlebells, and intensive circuit training, including ‘box jumps, pull-ups and handstand push-ups.’

Jennifer Garner was known for getting up early to get an hour of full body circuit training in before shooting began.

Jessica Biel’s trainer puts her through circuited weight training and they end with high intensity cardio work, like sprints.

superhero women

So let me break down for you what all of these ladies do to get into awesome shape.

They Strength Train.

You’ll notice, in the picture above, they all look great. That’s 4 different body types that all did strength training and none of them look “bulky”. Whether it’s body weight exercises or with weight, all of these ladies are doing one variation or another of the same big movements:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pushes (push ups, bench press)
  • Pulls (rows, pull ups)
  • Core work (planks)
  • Hinge movements (deadlifts, swings)

I’m gonna give you a trainer secret right here. Take a look at any athlete, actor, model, trainer, or fitness enthusiast’s workout and you’ll usually see a common thread woven through all their workouts. It’s these movements above and it’s because they work.

lifting

Jennifer & Jessica- lifting weights

Sure there’s always accessory stuff as well. Sometimes to zero in on specific areas, sometimes to keep it fresh and keep the body guessing. But the above exercises are the foundation. Get really good at them and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger, leaner, fitter version of yourself.

They Include High Intensity, Explosive Cardio.

Kettlebells, running sprints, metabolic circuits, these are all versions of high intensity, explosive interval training. Interval training is simply alternating between high and low intensity exercises. The idea is to jack up your heart rate with super higher intensity moves (like sprints, swings, or box jumps) for a shorter period of time, then you alternate between rest and really high intensity work. This is the ideal cardio to rev up your metabolism and fat burning potential.

This type of training is a great substitute for long slow cardio. Even though it’s more intense, it’s been shown that more people stick to it because it takes less time and is more effective in burning fat while keeping muscle tone and improving heart health.

Jessica Biel running sprints

Jessica Biel running sprints

 

They Do Full Body Circuits.

Splitting up the muscle groups and working a different one each day is a body building tactic. Since most actresses and women are just looking to get stronger and more toned, full body circuits is the more efficient way to train. Circuits usually consist of 4 to 10 exercises that you do back to back. Each exercise works a different body part and you move quickly from one exercise to the next with little rest.

The reason most trainers use this is because it’s an ideal way to get the heart rate up and improve strength and muscle tone all in a small amount of time. Again this has major fat burning potential by taxing the whole body and the cardiovascular system at the same time.

They Kept Their Nutrition In Check.

Rarely do you hear an actress talk about getting in shape without mentioning a strict nutrition plan. None of these ladies would have gotten the same results without watching what they ate. Now this goes back to what I was saying in part 1 about having a specific end goal. It is always easier to be really strict with your nutrition when there is an end in sight. (When you hear most actresses talk about it, it would seem they eat pretty healthy on a regular basis but they go really strict when preparing for a movie.)

The point is, if you want to look and feel fit, you must take a look at (and most likely change) your eating habits. Start by keeping a food journal. Nowadays that is much easier with all the apps out there like Calorie King or My Fitness Pal. Sure it’s still kind of inconvenient, but you don’t have to do it forever and it will help raise your awareness so that you can start figuring what needs to change. Most women will realize they are eating too many fats or carbohydrates and not nearly enough protein. But try it out for yourself and see!

In short, for best results your workouts should prioritize full body strength training. Shorten your cardio sessions but bump up the intensity. Start that food journal! And if you feel completely lost or feel like you’ve tried these things without any success, hire an expert and do what they tell you to do. (Trainers are another thing the Hollywood types have in common. ;))

There’s still no quick fix, even for the rich and famous. (OK, no natural quick fix.) But if you’re willing to work at it, you can look and feel amazing! Most importantly remember: Start small. Focus on one habit at a time and make it so easy you can’t fail!

Just another example of actresses lifting some legit heavy weights and not getting big or bulky. (Skip to 1:10-2:05 for the good part.)

So You Wanna Look Like A Superhero…

As some of you may know, I love a good comic book film. Recently I went to see the new Captain America movie. (Which was AWESOME, by the way.)  But I got to thinking: Nowadays, I often get clients who have goals centered around wanting to look like a certain movie star. I think it’s safe to say that most of us struggle to not compare ourselves to them, but it’s hard, right?! We see them everywhere we go!

cap america

But before you start using them as your standard, here are a couple things to keep in mind about actors:

1) They have serious motivation! Imagine yourself, scantily clad, up on a massive big screen, being seen by millions of people. Now that is some serious motivation.

2) They know months ahead of time when they are going to have to film even a 5 second shot in less clothing. So they have motivation and a specific timeline. They know exactly how long they have to get into tip top shape and they can be really strict because there is an end in sight. Notice all the articles titled: “How so-and-so slimmed down for the role of ____”?  This would imply that they don’t always look like that. And this problem is not limited to actresses anymore. When was the last time you saw a shirtless actor without a six pack?  The only difference is that most men will admit they don’t look like that all the time.

**Since we’re on the superhero theme, Henry Cavill said he did intense workouts and was on a super strict eating plan for 9 months – all for a 10-second shot without his shirt on. (Well, that and to pack on some muscle to be Superman.) When asked if he still looked like that, he laughed and said, “Of course not”.

3) It’s their job and they get paid well to do it. So they have both the resources and the access to trainers, nutritionists, chefs, nannies, and personal assistants if they so choose. ‘Ya know, all those things that make getting in shape that much easier.

4) They have a whole team of experts making them look their best. From clothing, hair, and makeup to  perfect lighting and photo & digital editing. In a recent interview, Chris Evans talked about how they shot him at certain angles to make him look bigger than he really is and how people are surprised by how small he is when they meet him in real life. When people started gushing over Eva Mendes post-baby body, she said: “We’re helped in those situations. I want women at home to know, you’re lit, you’re angled. So yes, it was a few months after the baby [was born], but with a lot of help.”

To further my point, take 20 seconds to read this article: Keepin’ It Real.

Now, I’m not trying to diminish the fact that these people still have to do the work. And many of them work to stay healthy whether or not they’re shooting a movie. But are these really the people we are comparing ourselves to?!

My point is not to cut all media out of our lives (that would be impossible… and kinda sad) or that it’s bad, but that we are responsible for the thoughts that go through our head. We need to start recognizing those creeping thoughts that sneak in while we’re watching that movie or looking through this magazine. We are inundated with these images of the perfect body everywhere we look. They look happy and fit and beautiful and often, without even realizing it, we start thinking that it’s the norm and the way we need to look in order to be beautiful and accepted and happy with our body.

So how do we fight it???

First, forget perfection. It’s just an illusion anyways. It’s estimated that 95-98% of women have cellulite and that 5% of women naturally possess the body type portrayed by the American media. So that perfect body, the one with no dimples and perfectly smooth skin with just the right amount of muscle tone and curves in all the right places, is simply not a reality for at least 95% of us. (You better believe that includes most actresses!) I think it’s time we wipe the slate clean and realize that health and beauty come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

funny

Shout out to all my “porcelain” friends out there! 😉

Keep perspective. That other 5% might not have to work as hard for their body, but they still got problems!! I know I’ve been guilty of this before. I get so focused on wanting to look a certain way, I start falling into the trap of thinking that a “perfect” body is THE end all be all. We start thinking we would be happier, more content, more beautiful, and that it would fix all of our self-esteem and relationship issues. Outer beauty does not equal happiness. If Hollywood isn’t the perfect example of this, then I don’t know what is.

Stop Comparing. Comparing yourself to others – whether it be it your friends, your coworker, or Jennifer Garner – is a battle you will never win. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, things that come very naturally to us and things that are constantly a struggle, things we love about our life, body, etc., and things we wish we could change.  But “comparison is the thief of joy,” as Theodore Roosevelt once said. It eats away at you. It never allows for contentment. And it can absolutely ruin one of the most treasured things we have in this world: relationships. Learn how to be happy for each others’ strengths and accept that they might not be yours.

I know all of this is easier said than done. One of my favorite things is a really good movie or TV show, so I still have to fight these thoughts too. But it starts with changing your mindset. Remember: your friends, your family, your spouse, they don’t love you because of your looks.

*At some point, good has to be good enough! Stop wasting time dwelling on the things you can’t change and start making a conscious effort to appreciate and be thankful for all the things you do have. Set aside a few minutes each day to think about or write down 3 things you’re thankful for. It’s actually been proven to make you a more thankful person.

It is not wrong to have goals. It is not wrong to want to change and improve yourself. (Otherwise, I’m really shooting my career in the foot right now. 😉 ) But how about we give ourselves a little grace. Rid yourself of the expectation of perfection. Start learning how to love yourself as you are right now and let’s show the world what real, fit women (and men!) look like!!

For more on this, check out:

Magic Mike stars talking about getting into shape

For more on how the stars DO get into kick butt shape, check out So You wanna look like a super hero (part 2)!

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Just in case you haven’t already seen it, here’s another example for you….

Why I don’t eat like a health professional

There comes a time in your life when you realize that you actually know a lot less than you think you do. Thankfully, the first time this really happened for me was a few months out of college. It was humbling, but I say that thankfully because the experience has kept me from ever getting too attached to either my own or other widely  held beliefs when it comes to health and fitness.

A few years ago, I too was on the “frequent feeding” bandwagon. For a long time in fact. I ate 5 to 6 meals a day. I packed snacks. I made sure to eat before I ever felt hungry. Every 3 hours, I ate. No matter what. And I had my clients doing the same. I didn’t particularly enjoy doing it, but it was the standard in the health and fitness world. It was THE way to look and feel your best. Plus, it made logical sense o I never really questioned it.

Then intermittent fasting came along. Now for all those people going, “OH I could never do that!”, don’t worry; this post is actually not about that either. Long story short: I decided to look into it and was amazed by the research and testimonies. It flipped a lot of what I thought I knew on it’s head and showed me how many of the common beliefs about nutrition were based more on good theories than actual research. It opened up my eyes to the fact that there wasn’t one way things had to be done. For the first time in a long time, I felt freed up to try different things and to find what worked best for me.

food clock

So I started thinking back to when I was the most content with my eating patterns as well as with the way I looked and felt. That was back in college, when I was eating 3 meals and sometimes a snack in between lunch and dinner. Now that I didn’t have that fear of ruining my metabolism or gaining a bunch of weight, I decided I would try it. Turns out, 3 meals a day works pretty well for me. Not only does my body feel and look good doing it, but I enjoy eating again. So for those who are interested, here are some of the reasons behind why I eat the way I do.

It allows me to listen to my body and just eat when I’m hungry. After so many years of trying to avoid hunger at all costs, it was very hard at first to go back to allowing myself to feel hunger. Once I understood that I wasn’t going to go into “starvation mode” if I didn’t eat for 4 or 5 hours, it was simply a matter of getting back to a place where hunger pangs didn’t feel so terrible, mentally or physically. This took a few weeks, but I loved getting back to what felt like a much more natural way for me to eat. Now I just eat when I’m hungry and it turns out I enjoy eating much more this way. 🙂

It allows me to feel full. Honestly, I love feeling full, so I was never very good at eating smaller amounts. Because of that, I often ended up eating more calories in a day than I really should have.  Eating 3 regular meals allows me that feeling of fullness without the guilt of knowing I ate too much to be hungry again in 3 hours.

It freed me from my food obsession. Eating so often made me feel like I was always either eating or thinking about eating. I was always making sure I had snacks when I left the house, worrying that I’d get hungry and not have anything, watching the clock to make sure I didn’t miss a meal. It was always on my mind.

food frustration

(Some people handle this much better. They see it as getting to take a break every few hours and refuel with a snack or meal. They love never feeling hungry or full. For me, it just felt all-consuming.)

I eat better. Unfortunately I’m not one of those people that just naturally loves to eat healthy all the time. (I hate those people. 😉 ) On top of that, I don’t love to cook AND I’m also kind of picky.  So it was a huge struggle for me to eat healthy for 6 meals a day. As luck would have it, your body doesn’t really care so much about the timing of when you eat. It cares much more about the total calories and the types of food you’re eating. This means you are free to eat 6 small meals or 2 huge ones or 10 tiny ones as long as the total calorie amount stays the same.

Mentally I have a much easier time making healthy choices on just 3 meals a day.

I learned to trust myself. Ya know, the funny thing about all of this is that I didn’t start eating 6 small meals because I needed to lose fat or was gaining weight because of the way I was eating. I changed because I thought it was the better way and the way I was supposed to eat. Choosing to break away from the norm was scary, but it forced me to trust my own instincts. If I had trusted myself a little more back then (and had a better system of evaluation), I probably would have stuck with what I was doing.

The moral of the story, folks, is simply that the best way to eat is the way that is most sustainable for you. We all have different body types, lifestyles, and preferences. I’ve had clients lose weight on intermittent fasting and on 6 small meals-a-day, so don’t feel like you can’t change your body if you don’t like one specific approach. The more you remove the perceived complications of healthy eating the more likely you are to believe you can do it and therefore stick with it.

And the more you remove the perceived complications of “dieting” the more you’ll feel empowered and in control that you can eat in a way that isn’t a burden and will increase your belief that you can achieve your fitness goals. – See more at: http://www.bornfitness.com/how-many-meals-should-i-eat/#sthash.JiwfNo4L.dpuf
And the more you remove the perceived complications of “dieting” the more you’ll feel empowered and in control that you can eat in a way that isn’t a burden and will increase your belief that you can achieve your fitness goals. – See more at: http://www.bornfitness.com/how-many-meals-should-i-eat/#sthash.JiwfNo4L.dpuf
And the more you remove the perceived complications of “dieting” the more you’ll feel empowered and in control that you can eat in a way that isn’t a burden and will increase your belief that you can achieve your fitness goals. – See more at: http://www.bornfitness.com/how-many-meals-should-i-eat/#sthash.JiwfNo4L.dpuf

If you’ve found something that works for you, don’t worry about what the experts are saying. You are the best expert when it comes to your body.

 

No Pain, More Gain??

I discovered early on that I was never going to be the trainer that ran my people into the ground on day one. Actually I don’t really care to ever do that. Why? Well first, I want them to come back!! For heaven’s sake, if you can’t walk for the next 3 days, you sure as heck aren’t going to be working out. Then when you do come back, we have to start back at zero and this is just inefficient.  Secondly, because ultimately I care more about what’s best for you than what you think is best for you.

See, most of us have come to think that we have to run ourselves into the ground and go at 110% intensity all the time or we aren’t doing anything. I used to think the same way.

And why wouldn’t we? Known for its incredibly brutal workouts, Crossfit is all the rage these days. We watch the Biggest Loser and see these morbidly obese folks getting run into the ground… and losing weight. We see motivational phrases like, “no pain, no gain” and go hard or go home plastered all over the fitness world. So we pump ourselves up, hit the gym for the first time in 5 (or 10) years, run ourselves into the ground, are sore for a week, maybe try it again next week, get the same results, and we quit.

No wonder I get people all the time saying: “I wish I didn’t, but I just honestly hate exercise.”

Well friends, I come bearing great news: that “no pain, no gain” mentality is a load of shiz. The idea that you have to be sore after every workout or you didn’t accomplish anything?

Dwight-Schrute-False

What’s that you say?!?!? The fact is, if you’re working out at 110% every time, your productivity will stall or even digress because your body has not been given enough time to recover. Sure, some people can handle it for longer than others, but in the end the results will always be the same.

Now before I go any further, I would like to clarify that I am not saying that soreness or training at high intensity is always bad. On the contrary, I am saying you will get better results from high intensity work when you allow for proper recovery in between! SO, how do we make sure we are getting the most out of our workouts?

Gauging pain vs. discomfort

If you are just starting to workout, it probably won’t take much before you start feeling some discomfort. This discomfort is caused by exertion. Exertion usually takes the form of burning muscles or labored breathing or other things along that line. At first this is a very uncomfortable feeling. However, the longer you go the less uncomfortable it will become. Pain, on the other hand, should not be a regular part of your workouts. Pain usually presents itself in the form of sharp, stabbing, or pinching in the joints or muscles. Pain is your body telling you something is wrong. I do not believe pain should be pushed through.

Soreness

Soreness is inevitable from time to time, but it doesn’t mean your workout was better than when you didn’t get sore. And it shouldn’t be your goal. Here’s what you need to know about soreness.

Beginners, you will probably get sore. It’s hard to introduce your body to something new and not experience at least a little of this. However if you are sore for more than 3 days, you went too hard.  If you are sore on a regular basis, you need to back off. Ideally when you do get sore, it’s not extreme and it only lasts a day or two.

If you’re never sore and you’re not seeing improvements, you could probably stand to push yourself a little harder. If you’re never sore but you are improving-congratulations, you’ve found your sweet spot!!

This will be different for everybody.

Listening to your body

A good program or trainer will have progression built into your workouts. However, you are the only one who can gauge how your body is feeling.

-Are you new to the program? Don’t be afraid to ease yourself into it. Focus on form!

-Are you stressed out? Or just coming back from sickness or an injury? These workouts should be about getting your body re-acclimated or maintenance. This is when I would say you’re better off going too easy than too hard.

-Did you get a great night’s sleep? Are you feeling awake and energized? Been managing your stress well? Are the weights starting to feel easy? Now would be a good time to push harder. See if you can lift a little heavier or go for another set.

So I hope these tips help. A few final thoughts…

*This is gonna sound crazy, but exercise should leave you feeling refreshed and energized! For men, this usually means learning to leave some in the tank! You will get so much more out of your workouts when you don’t go to failure every set and focus more on your form. (It isn’t sexy but it will bring about some sexy muscles.) Women, learn to enjoy the temporary feeling of exertion and not fear it. You have no idea just how strong and capable you really are!

*Seriously, stop pushing through pain! Learn from my mistakes! Being active will inevitably lead to aches and pains here and there. When they come along, you might be surprised how quickly they resolve themselves if you just give the area of pain a rest for a day or two! (And no, that does not mean giving your knee a rest AFTER you finish 2 more sets of lunges!) Don’t be like the black knight….

** No matter how hard you push your body, you will not become fit in a week or a month. Fitness should be about consistent, enjoyable movement. There are so many amazing things to be done and seen but you need to be able to move to experience them. Don’t waste it in the gym running yourself into the ground until your body or your will gives out. 😉

 

***Interested in Colorado Springs kettlebell classes? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*