Surviving the Holidays

Buffet
 A few years ago, I provided some tips on avoiding holiday weight gain.  (If you search Christmas or Holidays at the top of the page/in the search bar, you’ll get all kinds of good stuff from me -workouts and recipes.)  With just a few weeks to go until Christmas, this year I thought I’d provide you with some of tips on how to get thru the holidays without ruining your fitness or nutrition plan.

Christmas is often seen as the season of indulgence.  There are an excessive amount of parties and dinners and get-togethers and functions – not to mention Christmas dinner – and with all of that, there comes large quantities of food and drinks.  Whether it’s chips and dips and beer or a buffet with an abundance of rich desserts and cheeses and wines, there is likely something that will can entice even the strongest-willed guest.

 christmasbrunchbuffet

So, in order to do your best at not over-indulging (or gorging yourself) this Christmas, here are some of my best tips:

Make a Plan.   Don’t start the season off without knowing exactly how you will approach it.  Look at your calendar and figure out when you can get your workouts in – even if you can only spare 20 minutes.  Utilize that time to make the workout count!  Making a plan also comes into play when you’re preparing to feast.  If you are attending a holiday party where you know there will be lots of decadent foods served, plan your meals and eating routine around that.  Have a lighter lunch or dinner* or have a healthy snack instead of your regular meal if you will be eating later at an event.  If you really have the will power (or discipline) you can always prepare your own snacks to take with you to a holiday party – that way, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating and won’t go over your portion.  *You can also prepare a nutritious meal at home prior to going to your event.  This will prevent you from overeating or eating excessive junk at the party.  And again, this way you will know exactly what you’re consuming.

  1. Commit.   If you commit yourself to staying healthy during the holidays, stick to it.  This does not mean committing 100% (although, how fantastic would that be?), but why not commit yourself 80-90%.  If you’re not able to get to the gym 4 times per week during the Christmas rush, why not commit to getting there twice a week?  Or saving your gas and working out at home 3-4 times per week.  There are ways to compromise while (sort of) sticking to your plan.
  2. Challenge Yourself.  If you are going to be working out less during the holidays, make sure your workouts count.  Adding in strength training (you should be doing this anyway), plyometrics, HIIT workouts, or something out of the ordinary can rev up your system and help you in burning more fat than your regular workout.  There are so many other ways to do this easily – increasing the intensity on your treadmill or elliptical, holding your yoga pose longer.  Whatever it is, make sure it’s challenging you and see the difference.
  3. Eat Breakfast.  I cannot stress enough how eating a well-rounded, healthy breakfast can change your life.  Protein and the right carbs can be a game-changer for your entire day.  People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat during the day.
  4. Don’t Drink (All) Your Calories.   Have a glass of wine or punch or a beer – just don’t overdo it on the booze or eggnog or cider.  Holiday party drinks are almost always loaded with sugar or fat.  So be on the lookout for that and sip wisely.  In addition to this, making your own java can help save you calories – and money.  Brewing at home as opposed to purchasing overpriced, over-sugared coffees/mochas/lattes/etc. will help you monitor what’s going in your body and what’s coming out of your wallet.

    Sugar Rush

    Enter a caption

  5. Don’t Punish Yourself.  If you’re at a party or a dinner and there is something you really want – eat/drink it.  Just limit yourself.  You don’t necessarily have to eat the entire plate of cookies, but you can have one.  Enjoy it.  Savor it.
  6. Don’t Forget that Christmas/the holidays are not all about food.  Christmas parties and family gatherings are also about being social and spending time with friends and loved ones.  So, step away from the buffet table or the chip bowl or the bar and indulge in the conversation, listen to the music, sit by the fire.  Mingle, tell stories, and Enjoy Yourself!

Partiers

Cheers!

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Nutrition

Nutrition

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You’d think it would be basic common knowledge by now that good nutrition is important (likely the most important factor) in living healthy, long lives.  But, alas, some people still don’t get it.  You see people non-stop forging garbage into their bodies and then wondering while they are unhappy, unhealthy, overweight, tired, lethargic, have acne, etc.  <– This list goes on and on.

Here it is:

In order for our bodies to function properly and stay healthy, it is important that we follow a good nutritious diet.  Good nutrition provides energy and the building blocks of muscle.

The more you know about the importance of nutrition, the better the good food will taste. Increasing your knowledge on the importance of good nutrition will make healthy foods more appealing to you, not only because of the taste but also because of their nutritional content.  It’s fun to eat when you truly understand what you’re putting into your body.

Vitamins and minerals are important nutrients our bodies need in order to not only function properly, but also allow chemical reactions to occur at a faster rate.

If we think about food as fuel, and even medicine, for our bodies it can give us a better understanding of the role nutrition plays in our overall health, and guide us in making better food choices.

We want to achieve longevity and increased energy and promote growth and happiness, and proper nutrition can assist in all of that.  This does not mean you can’t indulge in “treats” (i.e. the craptastic foods like baked goods and chocolate) on occasion, it means you have to limit putting them in your body and be wiser to the effect the crap foods have on your health.  BALANCE is vital to good health and well-being.

Balance

We know from research that a healthy diet can lower risk of stroke, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, some cancers, and diabetes (to name just a few ailments).  Choosing healthier foods and following a proper nutrition plan can also provide mental clarity and clean up hormonal imbalances.  (<–This is part of the reason I love the Whole 30 Program so much.)  And aside from all of this, eating better really just makes one feel better.  You don’t usually get the same satisfaction from French fries and frozen dinners that you get from fresh produce and lean proteins.

The growing epidemic of poor health and obesity and preventable diseases can all be reversed by living healthier – following a healthy and nutritious diet and exercising.

What is comes down to – eating the right foods is as important as the air we breathe.  Choose wisely.

~FB

Early Mornings

Sunrise

I spent the entire summer getting up bright and early to either walk, run, or go to the gym.  And I absolutely loved it.  The early morning fitness became a huge part of my routine and my “me” time.  I enjoyed being up early enough to witness the sunrise each morning, and I enjoyed the solitude.  And, of course, I enjoyed getting more activity into my days.  However, since early October, my morning workouts have somewhat dwindled.  My running partner and I only made it out a few times after the Harvest run, and I haven’t been getting to the gym in the mornings as often as I was…mostly because I’ve been going in the evenings (my fitness routine has not suffered – just changed a bit), and I’ve also continued hiking/walking on my lunch breaks.  I’ve been getting my morning gym sessions in here and there but have been sticking to mostly evenings and weekends.

And once the mornings started getting colder and it was staying darker longer, I just wanted to stay cuddled up in my warm, cozy bed instead of venturing outside for a walk or run.  And every time Running Buddy and I made a plan to get up and get out, something happened or we’d just cancel.

So, we made a pact this weekend to drag our butts out of bed Monday morning and get back into the routine.  And we did it!  And you know what?  I loved it!  I felt so darn good.  Of course, I had to bundle up with extra pants and warmer gear, but I loved every minute of it.  And I hit 10,000 steps before 8:00 am – which almost never happens.  I felt so accomplished that morning and I am definitely planning to stick to the routine as much as possible.

And, as much as I’m dreading winter coming, I am totally looking forward to the solitude of a dusting of light snow in the mornings (here and there).

Early Snow Winter Morning Wallpaper Retina

Doesn’t this look charming?

To be honest, I was dreading getting up so early the other morning but I really enjoyed it – not the dragging my arse out of a warm, cozy bed but that little change my day so much better.  (#littlechanges)

“Small Change, Big Gain”

Last month I wrote a post on my Top 5 Wellness Favorites.  Included in that post, was mention of the company Elysium Health.  Elysium is all about the small, daily habits that lead to a healthier and better life.  And since my post, the team at Elysium has come up with a great infographic and included quotes from some wellness sites – MINE INCLUDED.  (That’s me at the bottom – NSFitBitch.)

ElysiumSCBG

Thank you Elysium for providing this great infographic and for including my post.

~FB

If It’s Too Good to be True…

My social media feeds are sometimes flowing with sales pitches for things like skinny wraps and magic teas and this and that – all for the benefit of losing weight.  Let’s be real people – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Most of these products want you to either eat or drink nothing for days, all while boasting “you’ll lose 10 pounds in one week!” or “Drop a dress size over night!” <– WTF??  Seriously?  This one’s not gonna happen.

BULL SHIT

This post was in my Facebook feed a while back and the so-called story behind it is that she spend hundreds of dollars on skinny wraps and greens and all that jazz and ended up like this.  I.Call.Bull.Shit!

Whatever happened to not putting all kinds of shit in your mouth and actually working for your weight loss.

Put down the cookies.  Put down the beer.  Get up and go for a walk or to the gym or to a class.

Those “magic” products aren’t really going to guarantee you lose weight AND CERTAINLY aren’t good for your health.  (And let’s be freaking honest – any weight that you may lose is going to be water weight – especially if you’re drinking teas or sweating if off in wraps! You’ll gain it right back.).  And those products that boast “cleansing” or “detoxing” – um, you have a liver for that!  Seriously.  Don’t waste your money.

Skinny Wrap

No, airhead, you should have not eaten that whole bag of chips and laid on the couch all day – you SHOULD HAVE gotten some exercise and had a healthy snack.

Instead, look at YOURSELF as an investment and if you really want to slim down or get healthier, invest in yourself – whether it’s money or time or effort.

Remember when Oprah said there is no such thing as a magic pill to make you lose weight because if there was she’d be on it.  Well – she’s right.  There is not.  You have to work for it. And working for it means watching what you eat and making better decisions about your food choices and finding the time to exercise.  Even if it’s for only 20 minutes a day.  How many times do I have to say it: twenty minutes a day can change your life!

The next time you’re inclined to spend some hard earned cash on a quick fix wrap or tea, reconsider.  Use your money wisely.  Invest in yourself and make some real changes that will benefit you long term – not just for the quick fix.

You’re worth it.

~FB

 

Whole 30 Experience – Day 1

Since I am a huge fanatic of the Whole 30 program, and have blogged and bragged about starting the program this week, I have decided to journal my experience with it. As you may know, this is not my first rodeo with the Whole 30. And, of course, results will vary each time and for each person. But I am stoked about this time around and could not wait to get started. (Don’t think, however, that I didn’t ram my face with some chocolate last night.)

Meet-Fruits-Vegitables-Nuts

Day 1 – My alarm went off this morning at 6am and I jumped out of bed to get rolling for my morning walk. Already was filled with excitement about my food path for the next 30 days. Once I returned home, I started my morning brew and once I was showered, I drank my coffee with a little unsweetened almond milk, and cooked up 2 eggs. Just plain. Fried in a pan. Simple and delicious.

By 11am I was starting to feel a little hungry. This really is nothing new for me. Since I’m up so early and work out so often (I hit the gym yesterday morning for an hour and a half, then went on an 8.5 k walk like night, and up early this morning for a 3 k pre-work walk), I’m usually hungry all the time. Instead of stuffing my face with something, I settled my stomach growls with another cuppa joe (with almond milk). I also drink water consistently throughout the day.

My lunch consisted of a small portion of chicken breast and some mixed veggies which I made in advance. One sort-of challenge about Whole 30-ing is that I do find I have to actually meal prep. Especially if I am going out of town for a night or two. I can’t just skip down to the deli to grab a quick meal as almost everything is processed (breaded or sauced or mixed). So, last night I made a nice, healthy meal for lunch. My coworker and I also went on a good walk during out break (which I thought I might collapse from heat stroke, but alas, I made it) and I did stop at the grocery store to grab a few things…including a peach for a walk-back snack.

Yesterday was about 34 degrees with the humidex and our AC was spazzed out at work. I had to teach boot camp after work so around 4pm I ate an apple. I needed something cool and fresh and carby. After my class (where I guzzled about 7 gallons of water), I ate dinner of small pork chop and a cauliflower pancake (riced cauliflower, one egg, garlic).

cauliflower-pancakes1

I had also meal prepped for the next few days since I’ll be out of town and made my first batch of cabbage rolls (recipe to follow). And, once they were finished cooking and since I was still quite hungry, I had one.

And that completes day 1 of my Whole 30.

~FB

Push-up Challenge

PushupsHappy 1st day of August! To celebrate the start of a brand new month, I’m challenging you all to the 20 Push-ups a Day Challenge. It’s pretty simple – you commit to doing 20 push-ups a day for the next month. Easy peasy. You can do any variation, so modified push-ups are fine. Comment below “I’m in” or inbox me to let me know the challenge has been accepted – and away we go!!

Why Push-Ups? 

Push-ups are one of the basic and most common exercises for the human body.  They are great for your chest, and help defining your abs, triceps, shoulders, and torso.  They are an incredible exercise for overall strength improvement.

Push-ups can be performed no matter where you are and don’t require any equipment or gym. The benefits of push-ups are plentiful.  They will improve muscular endurance within the upper body, strengthen both muscles and bones, create lean muscle mass that raises your metabolism and, of course, help keep you fit and healthy. 

~FB

Start

Happy Monday Morning!!

Today is the start of a brand new day…and week.  So why not make the decision that today will be the day you change your life.

Bad Workout

Deciding to start a fitness program or healthy lifestyle does not mean you have to commit to running a marathon or hitting the gym every day or signing up for an intense boot camp class (though, you’re more than welcome to come to mine!).  You can start your brand new life by going for small walk around your block or adding in the Commercial Break Workout to your TV watching routine or even, since it’s summer, going for a swim.

Just do something.

I promise you that if you started adding a little fitness (and healthier eating) into your life your body will thank you.  And soon enough, your body will crave it.  Chances are you will feel more energized and happy and excited…and proud.

So, Happy Monday!  Make today the day you change your life.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Fit

Living an active lifestyle is, as you know, important for heart health, keeping us trim, and able, and young.  But, it’s also important for our pets to keep active as well.

dog gym

I am the first to admit that I have a big, fat cat.  My boy is an inside house cat, and therefore he is definitely not as active as he should be by nature.  Therefore, I do my best to have exercise time with him.  This includes playing hide-and-seek (he loves to pounce on me) and also taking him outside on his leash during the Spring, Summer, and Fall (in Nova Scotia winters the poor guy would disappear in the snow!).

Winston Outside

*sigh* Sometimes he strolls, sometimes he sits there and glares at me. #attitude

In addition to my cat, I am also Auntie to a friend’s dog (remember Dora from my last post?).  Dora and I have been hiking and walking quite a bit since the Spring and her dog, Layla, now associates me with walk time.

Three Amigos

The Three Amigos: Dora, Layla, and me on one of our evening strolls

It’s actually really sweet.  Whenever I step onto the threshold of Dora’s house, Layla goes crazy, jumping around, scattering around the house, and jumping as high as she can to give me kisses before we head out.

Hike dog

Sweet Layla

Dora and I make as many dates as we can through the week to get together to walk Layla. We have a great time, and in addition to Layla getting some workout time in, Dora and I get to improve our fitness as well.  Layla also gets walks in the morning before Dora heads to work.

Besides walking the dog, Dora is certain to include Layla in her other fitness adventures.  As I mentioned, they go hiking, and swimming, and running on the beach.

Beach Dogs

Layla and a friend on the beach

There are so many ways to incorporate your pets into your fitness regime.  And this doesn’t just go for dogs.  If you have a cat, and depending on its personality, you can take your cat hiking, walking, and sometimes even swimming.

My Aunt Donna can attest to this.  If you recall, Donna did a guest post for me last year. Donna had her second spinal surgery just a few weeks ago.  After her first spinal surgery several years ago when she was living in Vancouver, she got herself a new kitten, Ms. Coco Chanel.  Coco was and is very much a therapy cat.  When Donna returned home from the hospital post-surgery, to ensure she would get up and out, instead of remaining sedentary, she started taking Coco for walks.

Little Coco

Little Coco

These walks have become a way of life for both Donna and for Coco.  Coco loves her strolls and her hikes and they keep both her and Donna active.  Even when Donna is having a high-pain day, she turns to Coco to ensure they both get out for their stroll.  Coco has climbed trees and hiked trails and strolled beaches.

Blue Coco

Blue 2

Coco loves nature and she always stops to smell the roses Lady Slippers

There are many other things to do with your pets to keep them active:  throw balls or a Frisbee, use a laser light or other toy, chase them (Layla loves this!), you can even invest in pet fitness equipment.  My boyfriend’s father takes the dogs for at least one swim a day during the summer.  And the dogs love him for it.

There are so many ways to keep your pets active and doing so can help improve their health, longevity, agility, and overall life.  So, the next time you’re heading out for a hike, why not leash up your buddy and take him with you.  Or include him in the family swim.

And, in the meantime, check out PuppySpot. They’re a community of dog lovers who place healthy puppies into happy homes. They were kind enough to provide this awesome infographic for you all.

puppyspot_fido_fitness_x2_v02

~FB

FitBit Cat-Fight

Earlier this week I posted an article about not cheating in FitBit challenges and that you should earn your steps.  I’ve been in tons of challenges and have won some and lost some. I’ve been in challenges with people who bust their butts in order to keep them active and moving, and I’ve been in challenges with people who do whatever they can to earn first place…including cheating.  These people freely admit that they cheat (well, some of them freely admit it) and find it humorous to knock each other out of first place on an ongoing basis.  I really couldn’t care less if I’m in first or second or seventh place, as long as I know I’m doing what I can do to keep my activity up and earning my place – wherever it may be.

Unfortunately, I’ve received some backlash in relation to that post, and one woman in particular has taken great offense to the post.  A woman I have never met, do not know, and likely will never meet in my lifetime.  Here’s what happened:  I created a challenge earlier in the week.  I invited a friend (we’ll call her Bonnie) and she invited a friend (Clyde) and Clyde invited this woman (we’ll call her Jane).  When I shared my post to my Bonnie’s Facebook wall she tagged a few of her friends so that they could also read it.  I got a lot of positive feedback from her friends, as well as from others I shared the post with (and from the blog itself**). However, this one woman, Jane, commented something along the lines of “no cheating here if that was implied”.  Since I don’t know Jane I did not respond.  My post was shared with Bonnie and others simply because we were currently in a challenge together and thought it might be of interest for her to read.  I should also note that Bonnie is a BeachBody coach and inspiring people with her own fitness journey.

Shortly after her comment, Jane removed it and added something else about her weight loss – which I commend her for.  From there, it seems all hell broke loose.  As I continued on with my day, my step count continued to go up.  My coworker and I have been walking on our lunch break since the winter.  I will note that my current coworker Boo Boo is filling a maternity leave for my BFF/coworker Spanky and for a good portion of last year and thru most of her pregnancy, Spanky and I would run on our lunch breaks – so lunchtime fitness is nothing new.  In addition, since the start of the summer and since I began physio for my ongoing back injury, I have been dragging my butt out of bed bright (not quite) and early every morning and walking several kilometers before getting ready for work.  Since race season is starting back up, I need to condition myself to get back into running after stopping for several months to allow my back to heal.  And in addition to all of this, I have been doing a lot of dog-walking/hiking with another friend Dora since the Spring when there was still snow on the ground.  This is all on top of my regular gym time and teaching boot camp and fitness classes.  Therefore, my step count each day is pretty high.  That’s just my life.

When I went to bed Wednesday night, I had a high step count.  I had gotten in several walks that day, taught my boot camp class (in 34 degree heat, mind you) and finished the night off with a near 10k hike with Dora, not arriving home until after 10:30.  I don’t keep data turned on on my cell phone and I turn it off at night (I have a house phone) , so when I turned my cell phone on in the morning, I was about 10 or 12 thousand steps ahead of Jane.  Apparently, Jane did not like that my step count was higher than hers as she posted in the challenge that I was a “looser” (eep! Loser?) and a cheater and then she quit the challenge.

But Jane took it further.  She called me out, indirectly, of course so that I had no way to defend or explain myself.  She posted some nasty stuff about me on her private Facebook page – naming me specifically, calling me a cheater and saying it was disheartening because I’m a fitness coach and saying that I didn’t like that she had blown by me, etc.  Of course, since I don’t know, therefore am not friends with Jane, I had no way of seeing these posts publicly – until others starting sending me private messages with screenshots of her post and comments.  My blood pressure went through the roof!  Thankfully, severally people came to my defense stating that perhaps I don’t sync my steps at night and yadda yadda yadda.  And, Bonnie and Clyde totally defended me and shamed her for her comments about me.  They both commended me on my abilities as a trainer and as a fitness professional and that her very public comments could hurt my credibility as a trainer.  (Thank you lovely ladies for that!)

Jane also made comments that I joined the challenge and took it over and that she never would have joined if she knew it was all trainers.  Clyde responded that Jane was wrong – that I, FB, created the challenge and that she, Clyde, invited her, Jane, and that it wasn’t all trainers.  In fact, I, FB, had only invited a few people – most of us who have sedentary jobs – in order to motivate each other to keep moving.  It wasn’t until Jane had joined the challenge that it turned into something so freakin’ dramatic.  I believe Bonnie or Clyde may also have pointed out to Jane that she had had no problem with this challenge and the step count while she was in the lead and it wasn’t until that morning with my additional 10,000 steps that she had lost her cool.

I also want to mention that, after Jane called me a “looser” and a cheater that I sent her a message stating that I work my ass off each and every day to achieve my fitness goals and that I had not cheated and I invited her to spend a day with me so she could see first hand how I earn my steps.  Of course, however, I received no response.

It’s unfortunate that a FitBit challenge and a blog post could cause such hoopla.  And, admittedly, perhaps my article comments went too far, but I meant no offense to anyone and if anyone took offense to my writing, then for that I apologize.  That being said, Jane was the only person from the many my WordPress stats show who’ve read the post who became defensive.  My theory on that is if you’ve done nothing wrong (ie. cheat), then why are you getting so upset.  Again, if I am wrong, I sincerely apologize.

Any challenge I’ve created as a fitness professional – or just as a regular Joan – FitBit Goal Days, Boot Camp Bingos, etc, have been meant to be kept lite.  They’re supposed to be fun ways to motivate yourself and each other to stay on track and get up and move.  They’re not meant to bring anyone down.  For Heaven’s sake – it’s a FitBit Challenge!! I shouldn’t be receiving hate comments (I expect those only in my boot camp classes and only in jest).

So, for those of you who’ve defended me, thank you.  For those of you who’ve participated, thank you.  And for those of you who continue to support each other, thank you!

Keep it lite, folks.

**One positive outcome from all of this incredible drama is that it caught the eye of a company in the US and they have asked me to write a guest post for their online site.  Stay tuned later this week for the upcoming article.

~FB