Creative Gifts for Your Fitness Friends

It’s that time of year again!! Here is my 2nd annual Christmas Fitness Gift List! I did a whole bunch of good stuff last year, so I wanted to mix it up and get a little more creative this year. Hope you enjoy…. (click on the bold words for links).

lifting fave


I was introduced to this game this summer and it is SO fun! Seriously, go get it.

Fleece-lined yoga pants

These pants are awesome! $16.99 at Costco and they are so soft, I might never talk them off. Need I say more?? 🙂

Qalo Rings

The hubs can’t drum in his wedding ring, so he got one of these silicone rings for his last tour and loves it. When it comes to lifting weights, wearing your rings is kind of a no no as they can get scratched or worn down. This is great alternative for anyone with an active job or lifestyle and most of the rings are $20 or less! Now if I could only decide on a color….

silicone rings

Winter headphones

Even though it’s winter, the dogs still need their exercise and I still like to get outside and walk when possible. These are ear warmers with headphones inside so I can still listen to my favorite tunes or podcasts!

Cooling towel

This is great for those who always feel like they’re overheating during a workout! I like to feel warm and break a sweat, so I didn’t think I’d care. But I got a few for some friends, so I figured I’d get one for myself too and it’s actually a nice little refreshment in-between sets!

FlapJacked pancake mixes

Pancake mixes that are high in fiber and protein? Yes please! I’m pretty attached to this protein pancake recipe I found recently, but I’ve been hearing good things about this brand so far.

protein pancake


I love the idea but I will admit that I’ve had one of these for quite a while and haven’t used it yet. Well I recently came upon this website that has TONS of recipes for a number of different veggies, so now I’m super excited to try it out!

Adult Coloring Books

I love this idea so much. Adult coloring books are becoming all the rage as a relaxation technique. Apparently coloring has been shown to lower stress as it helps our mind concentrate on something other than our worries. It’s a great way to slow down and relax while also bringing out our imagination and creativity. I already liked to color, but now I have reason to do it for my health!

adult coloring book


Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss – Georgie Fear

Some of the most sound and sustainable nutrition advice I’ve read. The 4 Core Habits are worth the price alone!

The Power of Full Engagement – Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

The premise of the book is that energy, not time, is the key to full engagement. It will show you how to use rest and renewal to perform at your best and also to be more present in your life. Highly recommend!

Daily Action Planner

Yes, I still like using an actual physical planner. 🙂 These are cute little planners that are a little more in depth for day-to-day stuff. They are a little more expensive which is why it’s the perfect gift! I love getting stuff that I want but wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself.

Whether you’re an organizer extraordinaire or more of a free spirit, it’s really helpful to sit down and at least put the major things on the schedule and write out priorities for the week. Writing it down eases stress, saves on willpower, and it also holds you accountable…all things that are good for your health and fitness goals!


Joel’s Pick – Yoga for Regular Guys

As a drummer, Joel decided at the beginning of the year that he needed to make a more concerted effort to work on some problem areas in his back and flexibility. So he found this dvd set called Yoga for Regular Guys and after not quite a year of doing it, it’s really helped with both. It’s also given him some new fitness goals to shoot for and he’s really enjoyed it!

Why we eat when we’re not hungry (and what to do about it)

Ever find yourself searching through the pantry for something to munch on when you’re not even hungry?

How about at a party, throwing back food while thinking, “Why am I still eating?!”

Anyone struggle with eating at night? Even after a nice satisfying dinner??

I’m always surprised by how often I catch myself wanting to eat when hunger is nowhere to be found. From my own experience and talking with friends and clients, I don’t think this is an uncommon problem, but it is a problem.

So I’ve come up with this SWEET method, which is a 5 step process to taking control back and learning how to combat emotional eating. I call it the SWEET method 🙂 and here it is….

Stop – set the utensil or food down, walk away from the pantry, whatever it is that you’re doing, stop.
Wait – give yourself a wait time 15 minutes before you eat anything else.
Exhale – just breathe…. and remember that it’s just food and it’s not going anywhere
Examine – why are you eating?
Treat – treat yo self….by treating the real issue

When we are in the moment, whether we are already eating or we’re just feeling the craving, it can be really hard to just stop. So the first 2 steps are really just about taking a moment to slow down and giving yourself some time away so that you can think clearly. What I want to focus on is the last 3 steps.

healthy food

Let’s just be honest, it’s really not about the food, right? It’s not. How do I know this? Because 99% of the time, the struggle is with food that is often sub-par and always readily available at the drop of a hat. Yet it’s been placed up on a pedestal so high that we’ve begun to believe the lie that food is so powerful that it has some sort of control over us!

It’s just food.

This is the time to take a deep breath and remind yourself of this truth. Take it to God, lay it down and ask him for help.


This is the big question right? WHY AM I EATING? If you want to improve your relationship with food, I think this is an important question that needs to be answered. Then, even if you decide you are going to indulge because it’s a special day and you’d like to enjoy a little cake with everybody else, at least you are making a conscious decision. All too often, I think we’d prefer not to think about it at all. So instead we get stuck in this cycle of mindless eating, then beating ourselves up for it.

Take the time to dig a little deeper and start gaining awareness of why you’re doing what you’re doing. If it’s not about the food, then what’s it about??

Here are some possibilities…

  • Relaxation: maybe eating is relaxing or it allows you to take your mind off of all the stresses of the day and therefore, relax
  • Comfort: for a short time, food can definitely feel therapeutic and comforting
  • Procrastination: anyone else ever find themselves procrastinating by eating? No? Just me then, I guess. 😀
  • Boredom: eating is an easy and enjoyable distraction
  • Cravings
  • Reward: food is often a means of celebration or reward
TREAT the real issue.

When we know the real issue, then we can treat it. Each time we treat the real issue, we feel a whole lot better both mentally and physically and food loses a little bit of power over us.

“The secret to change is to focus your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Socrates

Instead of just trying to fight the urge to eat, replace it with something else. Take some time to build a list of solutions that you enjoy. For example:

  • Relaxation: bath, nap/bed, walk, journal, read
  • Comfort: talk to a friend, pray, meditate
  • Procrastination: Just get it done! You know you’ll eventually have to do it, so you may as well just do it now. You know you’ll feel better once you do!
  • Boredom: (some of you are like, I wish!! 😉 ) read, puzzle, walk, dog training, insert your hobbies
  • Cravings: two of the most common triggers for cravings are stress (too much exercise or deprivation, not getting enough sleep, or not managing stress well) or habit (craving something sweet just because your body is used to it)
    • For stress, identify what the cause is then go from there
    • For habit, both mint or cocoa are really helpful for easing cravings
      • Mint: gum, tea, or brush your teeth
      • Cocoa: a few squares of dark chocolate, these protein balls, or hot cocoa (1-2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder to hot water or milk, sweeten with stevia or xylitol to taste)
  • Reward – this is a big one…it’s all about the mindset
    • Prayer: as a believer, I believe this is the #1 way to combat emotional eating. At the heart of emotional eating is turning to food for things that only God can truly help you with friend. Don’t ever overlook this. He is here. He wants to help you.
    • Change your perspective: A lot of us feel like we deserve a reward for choosing to exercise or eat healthy because it’s hard, but I’d argue that it’s even harder to be unhealthy. A shift in perspective would be that health is a reward and leads to many other rewards as well.
    • Instead of pinning or putting up pictures of hot bodies, find deeper, more meaningful inspiration for being fit and healthy
    • Practicing gratitude:
      What does gratitude have to do with finding peace with cookies? A lot!When we think about what we are grateful for, and survey all the luxuries we have, it helps combat the feeling that we are being deprived, or living a life that is lacking in some way because we choose to pass on some treats.
      The more we focus on what we don’t have, the more we feel lacking, wanting, craving.

      As it pertains to this habit, there is certainly room to view it from opposing perspectives. We encourage thinking about it as choosing your favorite treats, savoring them and enjoying the experience. (Not limiting, withholding, or focusing on what you are not eating).
      Focus on the abundance you have and not what you lack.” ~Georgie Fear

So there it is: Stop, Wait, Exhale, Examine, Treat the issue….pretty sweet, right? 😀

The fact is that sweets are not going anywhere. We can not just avoid food or cut it out of our lives entirely. Therefore, we must learn how to live with it. Hopefully, we can do ourselves one better and learn how to keep it in it’s proper place & enjoy it in the way God intended.

Our most powerful motivator

This was actually my email newsletter for the week, but I got such a good response from it that I decided to share it with everyone! 🙂
So last week in my early morning class, I was talking to the girls about how their progress was going. We were talking about some new habits to work on and one of the girls wasn’t looking too excited about it all. So I asked her about it and she said, “I just don’t like reality.”

Later on I was still thinking about that answer, but I wondered if reality was really the problem or if it’s our perception of reality. It’s no secret that most of us perceive health & fitness in a pretty negative way, or in the very least, not as positively as it’s unhealthy counterparts.

My mentor Jill Coleman just wrote an excellent little fb post the other day on this:

“Perception is everything. Two people, both eat one cookie each. Person #1 feels guilty and remorseful. Person #2 is grateful they stopped at one. Same actual outcome!

Aaand … I would wager that person #2 is setting themselves up for long-term success because contrary to popular belief, self-compassion doesn’t condone behavior, it promotes adherence.

How you view the process and how you see yourself are the most powerful motivators on earth.”

Look, I totally get the negative perception around health and fitness. We’ve all got busy lives and the fact is that there are plenty of things that are a lot more fun and interesting to focus on than our health. Especially with the media putting it into such a small, all-or-nothing, perfection-attaining, looks and deprivation-based box…..let’s just say, we didn’t exactly start with a clean slate.

But the reality is that our health is something that demands attention. How we view it and treat it willaffect our lives. Like it or not, your health is something that must addressed. And it all starts with your mindset.

beth burns fitness
***Our perception of this journey is our most powerful motivator.***

So that’s where we start…..

Perception #1. A healthy lifestyle is too challenging.

Truth: No matter what kind of lifestyle you choose, there will always be challenges. Being overweight isn’t easy! Working out isn’t easy! Not being able to stop eating isn’t easy! Discipline isn’t easy! Challenge is unavoidable in this life, but at least we can know that God gives it to us for our good. (Hebrews 12:6 &10-11) Challenges are what sanctify us, keep our eyes on Jesus, and make us stronger.

**We will never avoid challenge in this life. Instead of praying for an easier life, pray to make yourself stronger.*

Perception #2. The only reason to get healthy is to look better.

Truth: There are so many great things about being healthy! You get to keep up with your kids. Be a good role model to your kids. You feel better, have more energy, and get better sleep. You get the benefit of improved cognitive abilities like memory, creativity, problem solving, etc. You have the ability to do and experience more things. It prevents many diseases. Improved mood/anti-depressant. The list goes on, but most of us just get hung up on our physique.

***When you look at all these things, doesn’t physique change seem kinda small? I’m not trying to poo-poo it, just offering some perspective (especially because for most people, when it comes down to it, it’s not actually a very powerful motivator in the end.) Even if you’re body never changes, wouldn’t the above benefits still be worth it??

Perception #3. If I can’t do it perfectly, I may as well not even try.

Truth: I know I talk about this a lot but perfection is a perception killer. If we think we have to be perfect, it will quickly lead to guilt and self-hate because we’ll never be able to achieve it. 30 days of being “perfect” is nothing compared to being consistent in even a few smaller things for a year! Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself.  Allow good to be good enough, friends.

 **Temper your expectations. “You won’t ever be able to keep up with unrealistic.” ~Lysa Terkeurst

Perception #4. I want to be healthy, but I honestly just hate working out and “healthy food”

Truth: Earlier I talked about the tiny box that most of us put fitness and nutrition in. I used to think in terms of that tiny box myself. It had to be this much time in the gym and I had to only eat these things and I had to get rid of all the fat on my body before I looked “good”….even though, I loved all the benefits I was getting, it still felt like a burden. This is the kind of thinking that will run your motivation right into the ground.


Getting healthy should enhance your life, not burden it!! If it’s not doing that, then something needs to change. Health is actually a great big world with many outlets and options that can fit into your life with only a few small changes. It’s not about weight lifting and chicken and broccoli. If you like that stuff, that’s great. But it should be more about moving and feeding and treating your body in a way that allows it to function at it’s best…. however that looks for you! (Side note: 30 day cleanses and running yourself into the ground in the gym DO NOT accomplish this.)

**Don’t settle for food and exercise that you hate!! For example, here are 25 Ways to Exercise Without “Working Out”. 🙂

You’ve only got this one life, so you might as well have some fun and enjoy it. Mindset is everything. Get that right and the rest will follow!

“Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it.
The time will pass either way.”
~Earl Nightingale

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25 Ways to Exercise Without “Working Out”

I want to get in shape, but I hate all exercise!

To be honest, the first time I heard this it baffled me….until I realized that you didn’t actually mean it. Oh, I know you think you mean it, buuuut you don’t. For now, just trust me and keep reading….

I really believe this all has to do with a misunderstanding of what exercise is and what it’s for. So let’s talk about that.

What exercise is: You might think you hate exercise, but I think you actually just dislike the current idea of what exercise is and I can’t say that I blame you.

In Western culture we think of exercise as a necessary evil to achieve a certain look or as punishment for allowing ourselves to get out of shape. We think of it in strict and structured terms, with things like gyms, time frames, expensive equipment, intensity, sweating, pain, and soreness. If you don’t like this form of exercise, that’s perfectly OK. That’s just one form of exercise. The simple fact is that any kind of movement IS exercise.

Now if you don’t like to move then we have a problem because movement is life. Without it, you’re just sitting on your couch….all day…doing nothing…and that’s not living.

Movement is life. Movement is exercise. Your body was made to move.

What exercise is for: Most think of exercise as a necessary evil for getting to the size or weight that we desire, so we run ourselves into the ground only to find that we feel worse than we did before. The brutal truth is that exercise alone will not get you the physique you desire. I could sight all sorts of studies or just talk about my professional experience, but most of you already know this because you’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking, well if exercise doesn’t make me lose weight, then why would I exercise at all?!

How about because it feels good. Because it’ll keep you strong and able to do the things you love to do. Because it boosts the immune system and decreases the risk of many common diseases. Because it reduces stress and anxiety and improves cognitive abilities like attention span, memory, problem solving, and creativity (to name a few). Because it makes you happy. Because it’s fun.

While exercise alone might not be the best for weight loss, it will enhance your overall health and wellbeing and I would hope that that is enough reason to get up and move a bit more.

So in order to help you think outside of the box (gym), here are 25 fun ways to exercise without even noticing that you’re doing so…..

Picnic – Instead of meeting for coffee or a at restaurant, meet up with friends at a park. Bring something fun to do after the meal, like frisbee or bocce ball.

Take a Trip to the Zoo – Walking is the most underrated exercise of the last few decades. There are so many benefits we get from walking. Our bodies were made to walk. It absolutely counts as exercise. This is just a fun way to get lots of walking in.

Parkour/Free Running – The tricks are cool, but even more than that is the idea of making the world your playground and teaching your body to move with fluidity and grace in any circumstance. This is next on my list of new things to try.

Martial Arts – Who doesn’t want to learn exactly where to karate chop a guy to render him immediately unconscious….or just let off some steam by kicking and punching stuff.

Join a Rec League – For those who miss the competition and camaraderie that comes from sports, it doesn’t have to end after college!

Hiking – What’s not to love? Fresh air, sunshine, great views, quality time with friends, and your dogs love it too! Plus, it’s been shown that being in natural environments decreases stress and increases mood.

House Work – OK, fun might not be the best describing word for this, but it’s at least a 2-for-1 deal. And I know there are more people out than we would care to admit that have a little bit of Monica in them!


If you don’t know what’s happening here, then I can’t help you

While the process might not be all that enjoyable, I think most of us would agree that the end product is. Crank up your favorite tunes and check off exercise and house work from the to-do list. 😀

Yard Work/Gardening – See the above reasons, plus you get some vitamin D. Pull weeds, mow the lawn, plant some pretty flowers, or grow your own herbs or veggies!

Biking – Ride to work or to the red box or to get ice cream! Anything counts!

Get a dog – Not only do they provide tons of laughs and companionship, they are a great way to hold you accountable to getting out for a walk a few times a week….or at least, getting up to the let them out every once in a while. 😉

Rock climbing – Whether it’s natural rock or a climbing gym, rock climbing is an amazing upper body workout and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of reaching the top.

Play with your kids – “Auntie Beth, chase me!” My nephew LOVES chasing and being chased right now. I know I know, kids always want to play, but even just a 15 minute break in the afternoon to chase, wrestle, roll around in the grass, walk to a playground, help them build a fort….this is time well spent.

Play kids games – Anyone remember capture the flag? How about dodgeball, pickle, foursquare, or tetherball?! Get a couple of crazy friends together and try not to have too much fun. 😉

Go Ice Blocking – Summer time sledding at it’s best. Buy some big ice blocks from a gas station, find a hill, ride the ice block like a sled. Walk back up the hill and repeat.

Trampoline Park – An hour is more than enough time to get your hear rate up and your sweat on! I also noticed that they actually offer fitness classes as well. Although, most of you probably know someone that would let you jump on their trampoline for free. 😉

fun exercise jumping

Yes, I did take my sister here for her bachelorette party and I think it’s safe to say we had a blast 🙂

Knockout – You don’t even need to be a great shot to enjoy this game (although it helps ;)), but this one is fun for all skill levels and ages.

Spikeball – Super fun for those looking for a new game or challenge.

Alone time with your spouse – Enough said. 😉

Wash Your Car – Not my favorite, but another twofer that I know really gets some people jazzed!

Swimming/Water Sports – Whether it’s good old fashioned swimming or the endless possibilities involving boards or boats or breathing apparatuses of some kind, if you’re in the water you’re sure to be getting a workout and having fun at the same time.  

Create Your Own Obstacle Course – You don’t need to go all Ninja Warrior to do this. Just find some things to jump over, crawl under, climb up, and/or spin around and you’ve got yourself a course.

Get a ping-pong table – Or a basketball hoop or pool table or corn hole! It’s just nice to have some fun alternatives to watching TV.

Foam roll or stretch while watching TV – I’m not one who’s going to tell you to stop watching TV, but sitting is hard on your body so any time you can get a little extra movement in, it will benefit your body. I like to throw some yoga moves in there too.

Get a Wii or Kinect – Play games without ever having to leave the house.

Dancing – Music has a such profound effect on us. It has the ability to spur your body into movement and to completely change your mood. Jam out at home or take a class. Hip hop, salsa, swing, breakdancing, ballroom, tap…the possibilities are endless.

You probably noticed that a lot of these things involved playing. As the responsibilities start to pile up, it’s easy to put something like play or learning new skills on the back burner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are so many mental and physical benefits to continuing to play and explore as an adult!

You don’t have to go on vacation to be adventurous and you don’t have to be a certain age to play! What’s that one thing that you’ve always wanted to try?? Be brave. Take a friend with you if need be. But go out and try it! Your body will thank you later!

One of the biggest reasons we struggle with food

In my last blog, changing the way we think about food, I discussed how the idea that healthy eating is a black and white issue leads to an all-or-nothing mindset, ignoring our bodies’ signals, a lack of self-trust, and a lot of food guilt and stress. (If you haven’t read it yet, you can jump over HERE real quick and do so.)

With this being such a big issue in our culture right now, I can’t help but wonder, how did we get here?

I’m sure there are multiple layers to such a complex thing as the human psyche. In my last post, I mentioned diets and food zealots, but what I think what it all comes down to is something I felt needed it’s own blog….

The Attainment of Perfection

“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”

In college, my diet wasn’t anything spectacular in terms of what we think of today. I was simply really good at listening to my body. I had gotten to the point where it felt automatic and easy and I was maintaining a good physique. Then I was told that the best way to eat was to have 5-6 smaller meals every day and that you should never get to the point where you are feeling hunger.  So I decided to try it. Long story short, it worked for a little bit, but then my body stalled and after that, it reversed and I actually gained some weight. I did it for years, but it never got to the point where it felt easy for me and gradually I trained myself to almost completely ignore most of the signals my body was giving me. Now, I’m practicing and getting back to what works best for me.

So you might be wondering why I would ever change up my eating in the first place! Looking back, that’s what I had to ask myself and here’s what I came to:

I had swallowed the lie that if I could just find and stick to that perfect diet then I could have a perfect body. See, even though I was in probably the best shape of my life, all I could see were the “flaws” and the parts that still didn’t look like the picture perfect image I had in my head. If I’m being honest, I think that deep down I honestly believed I would be prettier and happier and that then, and only then, would I be really worthy of calling myself a fitness professional.

Yikes, right?? 😉

Like so many trainers that I know, when I first got into fitness, magazines seemed like one of the best and easiest places to get information. Well, when all you ever see in magazines is perfectly proportioned girls with glowing skin and not a dimple or blemish in sight, it’s hard not to think that it’s the norm and even easily achievable.

Here’s the thing about magazines:

*They use a few of the best pictures chosen from hundreds or even thousands of takes. Pictures that have been taken with the perfect lighting & angles, make up, professional stylists and photographers, and Photoshop to top it all off.

**Then they tell us what these women eat to look like that by giving us an example of ONE DAY. One day, folks. First of all, do you guys know anybody who eats the same thing every day?? If you do, you should tell them to go see a doctor because chances are they are probably really deficient in some important nutrients. Second of all, if I’m being featured in a magazine and they ask for my diet, you better believe that I’m going to give them an example of what my best day looks like!! (Celebrities are just people too, so you better believe that they struggle with self doubt and insecurities just like the rest of us.)

***Then they tell us that we can look like that if we can just eat these foods or do these 4 exercises every day.  food guilt

As if we’re a bunch of Mrs. Potato Heads that can just pick and choose how we want each part to look…. with just 4 simple moves, of course.

bikini body


I’m not trying to blame magazines for all our problems, but to think that we are not influenced by this stuff is only doing yourself a disservice.

“In 2014, Media Dynamics, Inc. revealed in a study that a typical adult’s daily consumption of media has grown from 5.2 hours in 1945 to 9.8 hours in 2014. Our media consumption per day… In that 10 hours a day that we’re in this media consumption, the study summarized that the number of ads adults are now exposed to across the five media outlets (these are the five major media outlets: TV, radio, Internet, newspaper, and magazine) is about 360 ads a day.” ~Matt Chandler

360 times a day we are exposed to ads that portray a very narrow definition of both beauty and health. Ads that tell us that we need to look a certain way to be able to wear a bikini and to be considered beautiful and for men to want to have sex with us. These lies are toxic to our souls and yet, in this day and age, it’s everywhere we look and it’s the very air we breathe. So, even though we know it’s an illusion, we know about Photoshop and we’ve seen the before and afters, we still secretly hold out hope that we will one day look like that. And we believe that the only way to get there is by eating these good foods and not those bad ones.

The truth is that this idea that there is a perfect diet that leads to the perfect body really only leads to discontentment. We spend years, if not a lifetime, on and off of different diets as we cycle between trying to achieve perfection and frustration when we can’t. Those who have attained it, soon realize it doesn’t deliver all the things they’d been promised. A perfect body doesn’t fulfill us, which is why 99% of women, no matter what shape or size, have body issues!

The media tries to tell us that health looks like a flat stomach, slim thighs and a firm butt. The truth is that, depending largely on your genetics and body type, the healthiest version of you might not be the leanest.

When a perfect body is the goal, your life will be enslaved to the never-ending search and marked by anxiety, frustration, and discontentment because it’ll never be enough. And one day you’ll look back and realize you spent way t0o much time focused on the wrong things and not enough time just enjoying food in a healthy way and learning to love and appreciate your body for everything that it does for you.

“Trying to be perfect is trying to fail.” ~Jill Coleman

Don’t worry, I’m not just going to leave you hanging. Check out part 3 HERE, for my personal insights and my definition of normal eating. 🙂

Lies that keep us unhealthy and unhappy (part 2)

In part 1, I discussed a few popular misconceptions that I believe have really hindered folks in actually achieving their health and fitness goals. Believe it or not, I thought of a few more 😉 So here are 3 more lies that keep people frustrated and unhealthy.

beth burns fitness

Lie #5. Eating protein will make you bulk up.

Protein is a macronutrient which means it’s essential for life and growth and it’s needed in larger quantities than most other nutrients. Protein aides in just about every metabolic function in the body and promotes a healthy immune system. It also takes more time and energy to digest, helping you feel full for longer!

Moreover, most weight loss is a combination of losing fat and muscle. Since most people don’t want to be soft and weak, the goal is to lose fat while maintaining as much strength (and muscle) as possible. Protein helps your body hold onto the muscle so that you end up with a tighter, leaner bod. It also helps fuel your muscles during a workout, so if you’re looking for a way to feel more energetic during your workouts, make sure you are getting enough protein.

Protein also happens to be sorely lacking in most American diets.

For all of these reasons, you’re probably used to hearing every fitness pro consistently bring up protein. HOWEVER, protein by itself is not some insta-bodybuilder nutrient. Eating too much protein will not make you bulk up (unless you mean gain fat, in which case, eating too much of any macronutrient can make you gain). For fat loss and a healthy lifestyle, there still needs to be a balance of macronutrients and you will still need to perform muscle-promoting exercise in order to maintain (or increase) strength and definition.

Lie #6. Running is a great way to lose weight

Some people will lose weight while running. However, for the most part, long distance endurance-style running is not great for fat loss. In fact, many runners will actually notice that they tend to get a little softer when focusing solely on endurance running. There are 2 big reasons why this happens:

1) Your body adapts quickly to doing the same things over and over. The only way to vary your running is by changing the speed, which most people don’t do. So over time, even if you’re running longer distances you will burn less calories even while doing more work!!

2) The other reason is too much time in the “fat burning zone”. Sounds like a good thing, right? The only problem with this is that when you make fat a primary source of energy, your body is smart enough to realize that it’s burning through a lot of fat and will start storing it so that it has enough for the next run.

Truth: If you’re looking to lose fat, stay away from a long, slow, steady-state running. You need to be switching up the intensity levels with things like intervals, sprints, and ideally, some strength training. For more ideas on how to do this, go here or here. 😉

Lie #7. Strength training is just for building muscle (and will, therefore, make you bulky)

Here’s the deal, unless you want to look like a skeleton, you will have some combination of muscle and fat on your body. That’s normal and healthy! 😉 So obviously, we want more muscle and less fat….or at least, that’s what I always thought. Let me explain…

Since your body works on a “use it or lose it”-type of system, strength training is meant to improve your strength so that your muscles continue to work for you and you continue to have the ability to do the things you want to do. This makes sense right? We like to be able to go up the stairs without feeling like we’re gonna have a heart attack.

Yes, strength training can help one increase muscle mass. I’ve written about this already here and here and here, so I’m not going to go into why it’s really hard for women to “bulk up” from strength training. But what I’m amazed at is how quickly and how often the term “bulky” still gets thrown around with such disgust and fear. “I don’t want to get bulky,” or “Careful, you don’t want to get too bulky”.

As a culture, we have gotten so far away from what health actually is that I’m not sure we’d recognize it if it came up and smacked us in the face. With the emphasis on size above all else, we are quick to think of “bulk” as the ultimate evil. As if the worst possible thing would be to be a little bit bigger or a little more defined than the media has determined is suitable for women. Forget if I’m strong or healthy, gotta fit into that size 2 if I want to be considered beautiful/healthy/feminine/worthy. What’s sad to me is that we have become so obsessed with size that most women really would rather be skinny and weak than have a little definition and be stronger.

I get that everybody is entitled to their own definition of beauty, (I myself admit that I’ve had a lot of time to work through my own process with this whole idea) but this just does not sit right with me.

The thing is….there is beauty in strength, in training your body and your mind to be strong and resilient, in discipline, in confidence, in taking care of yourself, and in being able & capable of doing the things you want or need to do.

Whether we want to believe it or not, we are all products of our culture. I’m not saying that you have to like the look of women with definition. What I am suggesting is that we all think twice before throwing around the word bulky. There are a lot worse things than being muscular!! And strong is beautiful, too. 😀

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10 Tips to Better Easier Eating

Often times, in this age of information overload, it’s very easy to get swept away. This blog says paleo, that trainer says carb cycling, Dr. Oz says buy this pill. The biggest problem often becomes that we make it out to be much harder than it actually needs to be!

Not to say that living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t require some hard work and discipline, because it most certainly does. But so often, all that information becomes so jumbled and confusing that we start to believe that it’s really complicated and hard.  We start to believe that the simple things, like eating slower or getting a little more sleep, are too easy to really make a difference. This is simply not true!

So I decided to put together 10 easy ways to eat better:

1. Use smaller plate and bowls

It’s been shown that we naturally eat less when using smaller plates and bowls, even if people have practice with portion control! For more on this, check out this interesting TED talk called mindless ways to eat more mindfully, which is what inspired this blog in the first place. 🙂

2. Use your “built in portion control”

If you don’t already have smaller plates, that can be quite an investment. However, you do have your hands! When filling up your plate, use your hand as an easy way to start building your awareness of portion sizes. (And this works for everybody because it is in proportion to your hand!)

1 Portion:
Protein – Palm of your hand
Carbohydrates – Fist
Fat – thumb

3. Put healthy foods in front and in view.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping some treats in the house, but I’m sure we’re all aware of the dangers of the cookie jar. 😀 If sweets are sitting out or the first thing you see when you look in your pantry, it makes sense that you will naturally reach for them more often. Arrange your pantry and fridge so that your healthier food is in the front and easier to get to. If you have food sitting out, make it a pretty fruit bowl instead of a cookie jar. 😉

Isn't it pretty???

Isn’t it pretty???

4. Slow down

Sometimes we get so amped up about food that we scarf it down in 30 seconds and then wonder why we want more.

In the video I linked to in #1, the speaker talks about how they asked Europeans and Americans how they know when to stop eating. Europeans said when they are not hungry anymore. Americans said when the food is gone. :-/ This is a problem.

It takes time for your body to actually “process” the food coming in and send the signal that it has enough for now. Slow down and try to make each meal last at least 15-20 minutes. Set your fork down in between bites. Chew a little extra. Savor the moment. 😉  This might sound too easy, but it can be a powerful practice! All we’re really doing is tapping back into our natural hunger and appetite regulation system, but when you think about it, what an easy way to lose weight while also enhancing your eating experience!

5. Prepare veggies ahead of time

I could eat fruit all day long, but veggies are one of the hardest things for me to consistently get enough of in my diet.  The hardest part about veggies and salads is the just the prep, if ya ask me! Either buy them pre-cut or set aside 30 minutes to cut up your favorite veggies or throw together a big salad that you can eat off of for the next few days.

6. Always keep some frozen meat and produce on hand

It can be hard to figure out the right amount of fresh produce so that you use everything up before it goes bad, so I always like to have a stash of frozen varieties as a back up. Frozen fruits are great for shakes, frozen veggies are an easy side dish, and frozen meat can be thrown in the crockpot for an easy dinner! Which leads me to my next point….

7. Use your crockpot!!

Crockpots make it super easy to throw together a healthy dinner (plus leftovers!) for those who lack cooking experience or time….or energy…or money! Ha! 🙂 They are also a great willpower hack for those who struggle with preparing healthy dinners, whether it’s because you’re just too tired at the end of the day or by the time dinner rolls around you crave something a little less ideal. The crockpot takes care of that.

8. Keep a running grocery list on your phone

I love doing this because this allows me to keep up with my list and put things in order as I add them. This saves me extra trips to the store and time at the store because I already have my list organized according to how I go through the store.

9. Protein powder

Protein is another component that is sorely lacking from the typical American diet. While it’s good to aim to get the majority of what you eat from whole food sources, protein powder is a safe and very convenient way to get more protein into your diet. If you’re not a meat-lover, it also offers the added bonus of a lot more variety – everything from shakes, pancakes, breads, and desserts. There is protein version of just about everything nowadays! For those interested, Protein Pow is a great resource.

10. Find a community of support

The ideal situation would be to get the people you live with on board! It’s amazing how often it works out that when one is feeling weak, the other is feeling strong and is able to encourage their partner. It’s just so much easier and more enjoyable when everybody is going through it together and working toward the same goal.

My husband's support is such a big deal for me

I’m not sure I would eat as healthy without the support of my guy 😀

Bonus. Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night

I’m always amazed when people roll their eyes at me when I mention getting enough sleep. I mean, what kind of culture do we live in where people get upset at being told to rest and sleep more?! Ha ha! Honestly, I think it’s more because we don’t believe that it could be that easy. But let’s just say, your body needs sleep and getting enough of it can make all the difference in getting and staying lean.

**Sometimes you can do all the harder things right, but if you’re not doing these simpler things, you won’t see results. They may seem inconsequential, but the small things when done consistently really do start to add up.  You are not the sum of your intentions, but your actions. What you do most consistently is what will show. 


The Benefits to Being Short-sighted

funny eyes

One of the biggest issues many people face in the fat loss process is being too short-sighted. We want results and we want them yesterday OR we want to get in shape for a vacation that’s in 3 months. Most crash diets will give you that quick fix. Even though they suck while you’re doing them and statistics show that most people gain even more weight back after the diet is over, the dang “quick fix” will just not die. This wreaks havoc on your body and mindset which is why I am always pushing to focus on the long game.

However, I’ve realized that I’ve been a bit remiss in only focusing there. There are a number of benefits to being more short-sighted too. In fact, they work even better together! I’ve actually been using both in a number of areas in my life to help me continue to move forward.

Here are two powerful ways to help yourself in whatever area you are struggling by being a little more short-sighted:

1) Segmenting

Segmenting is mentally breaking down a task into smaller pieces until it feels manageable to you. It’s asking, what CAN I do? This technique is used by the Navy SEALs to get through hell week and by doctors to help people with depression get out of bed and by runners to finish a race.

I often use this for blogging. I’m not a natural writer. I very much love to be up and moving around. So I have many days were writing is the last thing I want to do and I have to segment it. OK, you don’t want to do this, but can you just sit down and write for 20 minutes? Yeah, I can do that.  Once I’m in my groove, I love it! The hardest part is just starting.

For fat loss, one of the hardest struggles can actually be stressing out by looking too far down the road! Anyone who’s tried to lose weight knows what I’m talking about. Those days where it feels impossibly hard and you think, I just can’t do it anymore! You get too far ahead of yourself and start freaking out about never eating this or that ever again.

So when you have those moments, stop. No more thinking about a month or a year from now or even tomorrow! Take a few deep breaths (breathing actually helps the mind focus. 😉 ), then ask yourself: What can I do next?

  • Can you make it an open-faced sandwich instead of 2 pieces of bread?
  • Can you drink one more cup of water?
  • Can you get to bed 15 minutes earlier than you normally would?
  • Starting to feel hunger… can you go 10 minutes before eating?
  • Dinner is over… can you get through tonight without eating anything else?
  • Can you workout for 10 minutes?
  • Can you do one more…rep, exercise, set?

OK, then that’s your goal. One meal, one day, one habit at a time.

2) Focus on the process

In any sport, the score is important, but if that’s all the players focus on they will most likely let their emotions govern their play and lose. The players must focus on doing the little things well like dribbling, passing, running plays, shooting, and defending. They must focus on the process in order to achieve the outcome.

It’s the same in health. Yes, the scale & tape measure can usually tell you how you’re doing but it’s the actual habit changes that are going to get you there. When you’re unhappy with the results, go back to the process.

  • If you’re struggling, have you truly been honest with yourself about how consistent you are?
  • Are you really aware of what, how much, and how often you’re eating now? Can you start a food journal?
  • If you aren’t losing fat, have you been consistent with the habits you’ve been working on?
  • If you have, is it time to add a new habit?
  • If you haven’t, how can you segment it to make it more doable for you?

**Being both long and short-sighted are important and beneficial and together they can help you stay sane and enjoying life. When you’re sick of the day in and day out, focus on the long game: how great it will be and how much better you will feel in 6 months if you keep up with this! When you feel overwhelmed and like you’ll never be able to get there, focus on what you can do today.**

The journey to a healthy lifestyle is indeed a marathon. However, in order to reach the finish line, you just gotta keep putting one foot in front of the other.