My favorite workouts are running, HIIT and Boot Camps. Knowing that, you might be suprised that I also like Pilates. Pilates is a much slower, lower impact, form of exercise. But it is not easy! The focus is on your breathing and performing each move slowly and with control and intention. Pilates concentrates on your powerhouse - the muscles that circle your body at and below your navel. Strong core muscles benefit you in all of your everyday movements, as well as your other workouts, making Pilates a great addition to your overall fitness routine. Pilates makes me a stronger runner, helps me lift more weight safely when I strength train and is a great stress reliever.
Want to read a little more about Pilates? Check out the post I wrote for LivRite Fitness. Ready to give it a try? My Mat Pilates class is at the LivRite Noblesville location on Mondays at 9:00 am.
It's February and I'm talking about resolutions. Resolutions are all the rage around January 1 but already by this time of year no one is mentioning them. Statistics show only between 50% and 60% of those who made resolutions have stuck to them by this point just one month later.
If you made a resoution to exercise more or eat more healthfully, how are you doing? Like most things, it isn't all or nothing. Say you didn't do so well one day (or two). That's ok! Shake it off and get back to your new healthy ways. Making small steps toward your goal is progress!
Check your resolution to ensure it is realistic, think about what is tripping you up from keeping it, and make sure you have a plan to achieve it. Check out my post on goal setting here.
Resolutions should not be reserved to just January 1st. New starts don't just have to begin at the first of the year. What about this Monday? It's the start of a new week. What about tomorrow? It's the start of a new day. Make a plan and start! Today!
I think I'm going to break up with my Fitbit. I've been wearing one since 2013 and have stressed over my steps everyday since.
I was so excited about my first Fitbit. I love a good acheivement, anything I have to work toward and get a gold star. I was hooked on the idea that you should get at least 10,000 steps a day and having a tiny tracker to tell me when I have met this achievement sounded amazing. Obviously I love working out and moving (I mean it is my job) so this shouldn't be an issue right?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with striving to get 10,000 steps a day. It is a great motivater to move more throughout your day. That's a good thing! However, I found I was not listening to my body and being way too hard on myself. I was solely looking at the numbers on my fitbit, listening to an unhealthy voice in my head telling me I was failure if I didn't get those 10,000 steps. Some days I would be teaching and doing hour long boot camp and barre classes and since I didn't have "enough" steps, I would walk or run until I met the "required" steps for my day. I was no longer using the Fitbit as a fitness motivator, it was just a contest and I was moving toward burnout, potential injury and really low self esteem.
For the first time in 5 years, I'm not wearing my Fitbit everyday. I am trying to listen more to my body and give myself some grace. I work out 5-6 days a week, I am healthy, I feel great and I feel strong. I don't get 10,000 steps every day and that is ok. I'm no longer going to force myself to keep moving until I see those fireworks for meeting my step requirement. I'm going to keep up my regular workouts and know I'm not failing if I don't get a certain number of steps each day.
Everyone is different. It is important to know yourself and what is working for you to keep you happy and healthy. Make sure you break up with anything you need to in order to be your healhiest self!
One week until Christmas and everyone is talking about how busy it is. Between shopping, wrapping, baking, traveling and parties, there is a lot going on. Workouts can be the first thing to be cut during this time but it is so important not to break your fitness habit! Not only do you not want to get out of the habit, exercise is especially helpful to manage the stress and extra treats that may come with this time of year. Here are a few quick tips on fitting in some workouts the rest of this year.
1. Quick Workouts Count! There are plenty of vidoes online with fast workouts you can do anytime, anywhere. I posted a 7 minute workout on my Facebook page just the other day (and did it myself!).
2. Move Whenever You Can! If you find yourself waiting at any point during the day, do a few push ups against the counter, do some squats, do some jumping jacks or take a quick brisk walk around the house or in the house or wherever you are!
More ideas: Do a wall sit while you are brushing your teeth, hold a plank during commercials, walk around while talking on the phone, park as far away as you can in the parking lot or do an extra lap around the store before you check out.
3. Make it Fun! Play with your kids inside or outside. If you have an Xbox or Playstation do a game like Just Dance. Go hiking with your friends or family. If there is snow, sledding, cross country skiing and snowman making are all good ways to get exercise in with your family and have fun. Dance parties are always a good idea.
4. Make Your Gym Time Count! If you do go to the gym, make it the most effective workout you can do in the time you have. Walk or run a little faster or do high intensity intervals (HIIT). I lead a 25 minute workout circuit at LivRite Fitness in Noblesville on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is intense, but you get a full body workout in just 25 minutes! (Want to try it for free? Contact me and I'll get you a free pass for your first time.)
Keeping your fitness habit is the most important thing this time of year. Don't be hard on yourself if you do miss your typical workouts and have to adjust your schedule a bit until the Holidays are over. Just fit it in when you can, and above all, enjoy the Holidays and appreciate the time with friends and family.
The holidays are upon us! For anyone who is on a weight loss journey, Thanksgiving (and the Holidays in general) can pose a serious threat. In previous years, the Calorie Control Council has reported that a typical Thanksgiving meal will run about 4,500 calories. To put that in perspective, most people who are maintaining their current weight need around 2,000 calories a day (your caloric needs depend on your activity level, height, weight and goals). Here are 4 things to keep in mind for that big Thanksgiving meal.
1. Pick your favorites - Some Thanksgiving meals are a varitable buffet of dishes, so many options! I've heard of some gatherings with 5 or more desserts alone! This does not mean you need to have some of everything. Choose only the foods that you really love. If the stuffing your Mom makes is unbelievable but you don't really love green bean cassorole, don't have the cassorole just because it is there. Have the stuffing and skip the cassorole. Decide ahead of time what you really want and skip the rest.
2. Check your portions - Does anyone really want that horrible, uncomfortable, I have to unbotton my pants feeling after a meal? Thanksgiving seems to be known for this and Stove Top even came out with special pants just for the after Thanksgiving bloat. Try to avoid this by keeping your portions in check. I like to use the size of the palm of my hand as a guide for a portion size. Plus, this will leave more for the best part of all- leftovers!
3. Eat Mindfully - Have you ever sat down in front of the tv with a bag of popcorn and then realized the whole bag was gone? Maybe you don't even remember tasting it? That's the opposite of eating mindfully! Mindful eating is slowing down and paying attention to what you are eating, while you are eating it which can lead to feeling more satisfied after meals. It also can help you to realize when you are full, which will help to reduce overeating. One of my favorite blogs from a Resigtered Dietition who specializes in Intuitive and Mindful eating has a great how to guide here.
4. Enjoy and Indulge! Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate everything we are grateful for, especially friends and family. Sharing a meal together is a wonderful way to come together and celebrate. Don't miss this time together due to worry about gaining weight or what you should or shouldn't eat. Enjoy your favorites, don't eat too much and stay in the moment to soak it all in. As long as you're eating healthy most of the time, having an occasional treat won't wreck your diet so don't beat your self up about anything you may have eaten.
Another great way to enjoy the day with friends and family is to take a walk together after the big meal! Stay active, indulge a little and enjoy the Holiday!
Here is a fast circuit workout for your core. Set your timer for 30 seconds. You'll do each move for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds then repeat all three exercises two more times.
Here is a basic explanation of each move:
Scissors - Lie flat on your back. You can extend your arms along the sides of your body with your palms pressing into the floor, or you can bend your elbows and place your palms under the back of your head. Pull your navel in towards your spine (engaging your abs) and actively press your lower back flat on the ground. Lift both legs straight up toward the ceiling, continuing to engage your abs and press your lower back into the ground throughout the exercise. Slowly lower your right leg down toward the ground, until it is a few inches above the floor. Then scissor your legs, so you lift your right leg back up as you lower your left leg down towards the ground. Keep this up with slow and controlled movements.
Russian Twist - Sit with your knees bent and heels on the floor. Engage your abs and lean back until your upper body is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, keeping your back long and flat. Rotate your torso, reaching both hands toward the floor on the side before returning back to center then reaching for the other side. A weight or medicine ball can be held and/or feet lifted off the ground to make this more challenging.
Plank - Lie facedown with legs extended and elbows bent and directly under shoulders; place your hands flat. Feet should be hip-width apart, and elbows should be shoulder-width apart. Contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body (forearms remain on the ground); you should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 30 seconds.
Do this two to three times a week on non-consecutive days for stronger abs!
The good news is, anything you do to burn calories could contribute to weight loss around your waist. The bad news is, there isn’t just one move that will get rid of your belly fat. Any strength training move for your abs (like crunches) will strengthen those ab muscles but does not necessarily remove the fat over those muscles. I know, confusing right?
To remove the excess around your middle, you need to take steps to lose weight, not just crunches or sit ups. This means watching your calorie intake, focusing on non bloating foods and drink, getting in cardio exercise to get your heart rate up and burn calories, strength training and get plenty of sleep. Let's break it down.
1. Watch Your Calories - Very simply, if you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. A 500 calorie deficient each day will result in a loss of a pound a week. Of course that is easier said than done and there are many variables in there. But bottom line, you won't lose weight if you are eating and drinking too much and that includes any belly fat. I recommend tracking your nutrition in an app like My Fitness Pal.
2. Non-Bloating Foods and Drink - Not only is it important to watch how much you are eating and drinking, it is also important to make sure your calories are healthier and not ones that will naturally make you bloated. Focus on foods with lots of fiber, little saturated fat, lean proteins and only whole grains instead of anything made with white flour. Watch your salt intake, and for the love of Pete, stop drinking pop.
3. Cardio, Cardio, Cardio - Many studies show that aerobic exercise helps to get rid of excess weight. A recent study from Duke found that jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week will help you lose belly fat. You don't have to jog to get this benefit. Anything you are doing to get your heart rate up will help, try to work to the point that you don't want to talk (but could if you needed to) at least 20 minutes a day. Walk fast, take a dance class or kickboxing class. Also, some circuit training will elevate your heart rate just as much as steady state cardio (like jogging). Find the type of aerobic exercise you like, and do that!
4. Strength Training - Adding in strength training at least two times a week is a good thing for everyone but also helps with reducing excess belly. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, which means the more calories your burn. Be sure to work all of your muscles with either body weight or weight resistance.
If I were to pick one exercise to strengthen your abs, I would suggest a plank. Start off holding a plank in good form (engage your abs, keep a straight line from your head to your heels) as long as you can, working up to 2 minutes. Then start to progress the move. I've posted a few plank variations on my Facebook page. Follow me there to watch for more!
5. More Sleep, Less Stress - According to a 2010 Wake Forest University study, routinely getting 5 hours or less of sleep per night increases visceral fat levels. Aim to get 7-8 hours a night. Getting less increases levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is linked to belly fat. Guess what else increase your cortisol levels? Yep, that's right, stress. Be sure to have strategies to reduce your stress. Less stress will benefit you in many ways above and beyond reducing your middle.
These are just a few things that may impact your waist line and I could go into much more detail on each. Also, everyone is different and there are other factors that can contribute to weight loss or gain and specifically how your stomach looks. Please contact me if you have more questions or contact your doctor if nothing is working to reduce your belly fat.
Here is one of my very favorite high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. The first move of each of the circuits is meant to get your heart rate WAY up - it's the high intensity move. The following two exercises will be your active "rest". Alternating between intense activity intervals and lower activity intervals has been shown to burn more calories than steady state cardio by increasing your metabolism longer after your workout.
All you need is a timer (your phone!) and some weights (dumbbells or use water bottles if you don't have weights).
Let me know if you want me to lead you through this or have any questions. I would love to help!
I cannot believe it is September already! Plus, it feels like fall outside today. This time of year feels like a new beginning. Even though it isn't the start of a new school year for me, the fall still feels like the start of a new year in a way. I indulged quite a bit this last month (the much talked about birthday month) and am ready to get back to my usual healthier eating.
I don't think I strayed too far from my whole foods focused way of eating. The big exception was the amount of sweets. There was lots of cake, candy and cookies. I need to dial it back in because I can feel the difference in my energy levels and digestive system.
So I'm falling back into focusing on vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and fruit. I'm not cutting out desserts/treats altogether, but making it less of a daily occurrence and more of a weekly one. We still have some veggies growing in our backyard (mostly tomatoes - see above) and my family has gifted me with some of the vegetables from their gardens. Plus, some homemade salsa I can't wait to try! I'm going to enjoy the last of this fresh produce and replace those sweets with healthier treats.
Anyone else ready to re-balance their diet?
Technique is just as important in a push up as it is in any other exercise. The last time I increased the number of push ups I was doing, I wasn't strong enough and did too many with incorrect form which resulted in elbow pain. I almost started doing that again during this month's push up challenge. Bad habits/form are hard to break! I have to remember to keep my elbows in slightly, not out like a chicken!! See number one below and the fantastic image above!
Here are some common things that might be holding back your push up progress.
1. Watch your elbow angle. Don't let your elbows drift out to a 90 degree angle.
Instead, pull your elbows in, resting them at a 20 or 40 degree angle to create a mechanical angle that allows for greater range and power. Pay close attention that your elbows stay above your wrists during your push-up.
2. Don't ignore the down part of the push up. Don't rush as you lower your body to the floor and don't let gravity take you there. Pretend to dig your hands into the floor by grabbing it with your fingers to activate muscles in your back and help you SLOWLY lower your body.
3. Where are your hands? Hand placement is important during a push up and can change the muscles that are working the hardest. In general, keep your hands in line with your shoulders or just outside of shoulder width. Keep your elbows tucked close to your sides, focusing on your chest and triceps. If your hands are too wide, your elbows will tend to splay out (see #1).
4. Is your neck moving? (It shouldn't) Is your body in a straight line? (It should be) Your head should stay in line with your spine throughout the exercise. If you are moving your head up and/or down (which happens as you get tired) your spine is out of alignment and could cause an injury. Concentrate on keeping your head still and in line with your body. If a broomstick were placed on your back, it should make contact with your head, upper back, and butt. Keep your body in that alignment the entire time.