12 Days of Fitness

See that Search button up there at the top right of the screen??  ^^

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If you type the word Christmas in that search bar, you will get my Christmas workouts and tips from years gone by.  There are a handful of articles that might be helpful in you succeeding the holidays without overindulging and keeping you in tip-top shape throughout December.

And since it is December and we’re getting closer and closer to Christmas (we’re about 18 days away), I thought it would be a perfect time to post another Christmas Fitness note.  This one is the 12 Days of Fitness.

12 Days of Fitness

And technically, we are a little further out than the 12 days of Christmas, but I know there are days that some of you absolutely won’t be able to fit in a workout.  Some of us are busy with work (and many shift workers can’t manage every day), or kids, or functions, or shopping, or whatever is happening in your life, so you get a few extra days in between to hopefully find time to take time for yourself and get your exercise on.

This workout is actually super easy so that 1. you can fit the time in or 2. you’re new to exercise.  The workout only calls for one exercise per day, as you can see from the picture.  However, it is an accumulator workout so you can also look at in several other ways:

  1. As just noted above, perform just the specified exercise per day; OR
  2. Each day add the next day’s exercise (this is the accumulation) so that you’re doing 1 exercise the first day, 2 exercises the second, 3 exercises the third day, etc. ; OR
  3. You can do every exercise each day.
  4. Or – if you want to go even further than #3, you can do each exercise for a full minute (or longer) each day.

The great thing about at-home workouts is that you can make it fit to your schedule.

If you’re anything like my and you like a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie (obsessed), you can try one of these fun Hallmark Christmas Movie Workouts.  They’re cute and, let’s face it, if you pay attention to these movies, you’ll get a good little workout.  Incorporate it into your evening binge with friends or your kids or partner.  (Bonus Burpees or squats if Candace Cameron Bure is in your movie or/commercial.)

Hallmark 1

Hallmark 2

The main thing to remember is to take time for yourself this holiday season.  Go into the new year feeling refreshed and shiny and bright.

Cheers!

~FB

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Healthy Living from Head to Toe (Guest Post)

 

By Jennifer McGregor

PIXEL

Photo Credit: pexels.com

 

It is frequently assumed that health comes from genetic predispositions and exercise.  While those do play a part, one’s overall health is determined by a wide range of factors, many of which are frequently forgotten about or ignored entirely.  A complete head to toe health plan should incorporate aspects of self-care, exercise, healthy eating and stress management.  Here are some strategies you can use to incorporate more healthy practices into your everyday life.

Begin with a self-care checklist
It will become easier to take care of yourself if you view healthy practices as a pyramid.  If you’re just starting to try to live a healthier lifestyle, start by following a self-care checklist.  Think of self-care as the base of the pyramid, and the foundation for all the other healthy practices that follow.  At its core, self-care is simply about taking care of the basic daily needs that support your overall well-being from both the physical and mental angles.  For example, make sure that you get enough rest at night.  While the exact amount of sleep you need varies according to your personal body clock, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep to be fully rested.  You should also take time throughout the day to relax and rest your body or mind, particularly if your day has been stressful.  By stepping away from your responsibilities for 15 minutes, you will become more energized and better equipped to manage your situation for the remainder of the day.  Yoga can be a good way to rest, due to its focus on getting mental wellness and physical fitness in sync.  As a bonus, you can do yoga in any location, however yoga classes offer the additional benefit of social interaction.

Strengthen your body with healthy meals and regular exercise

The next stage of the health pyramid is keeping your body healthy through proper nutrition and exercise.  Both eating well and following a regular fitness plan help to get your body working efficiently, with improved blood flow, stamina, and lung capacity.  They also benefit your mental health.  Exercise increases the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, which increases your ability to memorize data and recall information.  It also causes endorphins and other positive chemicals in your body to be released, reducing the amount of stress you feel and lessening feelings of anxiety and depression.  Eating a healthy meal composed mainly of healthy vegetables helps to support these processes while keeping the rest of your body in check.  Dark, leafy greens, for instance, have many different nutrients that ensure all your body functions run as effectively as possible.

Remember, with both exercise and nutrition, once you establish a plan, it is important that you stick with it.  Don’t expect results from intermittent days of exercise and good eating spread across the season.  While an occasional cheat day won’t do too much damage, try to stick to your schedule.

Increase your confidence and sense of belonging

Finally, with your body supported by good food, exercise and self-care, you can help support your mental health.  Mental support comes in many different forms, but the two core facets are self-esteem and a sense of belonging.  When you are comfortable with yourself and your own mind, many things will seem much easier.  It will also provide a confidence boost during more troubling times.  Similarly, when you connect with a group of friends or family, you will feel more secure in your current living situation.  Both of these are excellent for your mental health.  Meditation and other similar practices can help you center yourself and become closer with a group of friends.  Hobbies can be a great way to find a friend group with similar interests.

To become healthy from head to toe, start with a foundation of self-care, then work your way up the pyramid by strengthening your mind and body.  Finally, establish a sense of belonging and purpose through shared interests and activities.

Jennifer is a pre-med student who co-created PublicHealthLibrary.org. She enjoys writing about health and medical topics.

Stay well.

~FB

Goal Reaching

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a young woman for a small piece she was writing on inspiration and Goals.  I thought I’d share it with you.  

18 Again

1. During your life so far, what has been one of the biggest goals you’ve set that you were able to achieve?  I have always had issues with my weight…growing up as the chubby girl.  Overcoming a weight issue has been a goal since I was a child.

2. What did you have to do to accomplish that goal? I began working out regularly and eating better and making better choices in my life.

3. Where did you get your inspiration? I saw a photo of myself one day and did not recognize that it was me.  The girl in the photo was very overweight and I couldn’t believe it was me.  I inspired myself in that moment to fix my life.  I started an exercise program when I got home that evening and have not looked back.

4. Were there any obstacles that got in your way? If so, how did you handle that? What about people? Were there any people who discouraged you while reaching for your goal? I have a heart condition and was told when I was in my teens that I would have a pacemaker by the time I was 30.  I was worried at first about how vigorous exercise might harm me, but in all honesty, my heart is nice and healthy now that the extra weight is off.  I still struggle with it on occasion and it is genetic, but at least I don’t have to worry about jeopardizing my health myself.  As for people…there are always people who want to see you fail.  I still come across those people in my life.  But the worst was a “friend” who told me to stop losing weight because I “look sick”.  It’s funny how she never commented on my weight when I had an extra 60 pounds on me.

5. Did you ever think about giving up? If so, how did you overcome that feeling?  I never thought about giving up. I knew what I was doing was benefiting my life.

6. When you achieved your goal, how did it help you in life? Or what is life like now that you have accomplished your goal?  Once I reached my goal, I looked into how I could help others reach theirs.  I got certified as a personal trainer and as a nutrition and weight loss coach.  I now teach boot camps and other classes and coach people one-on-one.

~Cheers

PS (Thank you Lilly for this.  <3)

Why I Stopped Tracking My Workouts (and Macros)

A couple of years ago I got myself a FitBit.  At first, I had complete buyer’s remorse and wanted to return my tracker immediately.  But I hung onto it and eventually, I fell in love with it.  I loved being able to set goals, and alarms to keep me moving, and I especially loved being able to track my sleep pattern.  I definitely do not sleep as much as I think I do.
Fitbit-ChargeHR

FitBit Charge HR

My main reason for getting the FitBit was the heart rate monitor.  If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you may recall that I have a heart condition.  As a fitness professional – and participant – I thought it was important to be able to keep an eye on my heart rate during my workouts.  Though, sometimes I still overdo it and find myself gasping for breath or wanting to barf because my heart rate if out-of-control high.

Healthy Snacking

I am not 100% healthy all the time.  I admit it.  I am human and occasionally, I like to indulge in snacks that are not the healthiest choices.  (Who doesn’t like popcorn at the movies?)

But most of the time, I try to be very conscious of what I’m eating and I like to know what I’m putting in my body.  So, when it comes to snacking and making those healthier choices (and opting not to stick to just fruit or vegetables), I often like to go the homemade route.

My recent obsession are homemade protein nut butter cups.  They’re made with just a few ingredients – dark chocolate or cocoa or chocolate protein powder, coconut oil, and nut butter of choice (I use almond hazelnut).  Melt and mix and freeze.  Easy peasy.

Protein-PB-Cup

I’m also a huge fan of making my own “Larabars“.  It’s definitely a lot cheaper than buying actual Larabars, and I can throw in whatever I want.  I also like healthy cookie dough dip (made with chickpeas but you’d never know it!) and black bean brownies.

And, in the summer when it’s super hot, I might make a little “nice cream” – a healthier version of ice cream made with frozen bananas.  This is a great compromise for people like me who are also allergic to dairy.

Knowing exactly what I’m eating is definitely important to me, not only because of the obvious benefits of eating healthier and cleaner and knowing my ingredients, but also because I can eliminate as much garbage from my diet as possible.  This is especially important when I’m following the Whole 30 Program and eliminating sugar and processed “foods” and other junk.

However, as I said, I am human and I do like to indulge on occasion.  But that doesn’t have to equal eating garbage.  There are plenty of healthier options on the market – even for your favorite “junk foods”.

For example, Amplify Snack Brands – the makers of Skinny Pop popcorn – have some wonderful snack products that are comparable in taste to your regular snacks, but without the garbage and the guilt.  Their Paqui Tortilla Chips use non-GMO corn, are trans-fat free, are nut, soy, and Gluten-free, have no MSG, and are certified Kosher.  Oh, and they come in a bunch of crazy flavors (Haunted Ghost Pepper, anyone?).

Amplify also in their roster, Oatmega Bars – grass-fed whey protein bars offered in a plethora of flavors – and Tyrrell’s Hand Cooked Potato Chips– which offers “no iffy ingredients”.  And of course, let’s not forget the  Skinny Pop brand of popcorn and other products, which are also “free of all those things, including GMOs, MSG, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and Gluten”.

As you can see, there are many options on the market for snacking better and it’s commendable to see companies with a conscience – ones that care about our health and the ingredients they choose to put into their products (and therefore, that we put into our bodies).

So, if you’re on the go or not able to making your own healthy snacks (or have no interest in it), check out Amplify Brands (or at the very least, ensure you check your labels for ingredients on your snack foods) to see what product might become your next favorite snack.

Be kind to your body and what you put into it.

~FB

10 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT VEGAN DIETS* (Guest Post)

Vegan

(By Michelle Hannan)

“Veganism is as old as humans themselves, but with time, we have somehow lost our track of how good this path full of veggies is. I am not against meaty diets or people who love meat, I just prefer those diets that have veggies and fruits more than any other thing.

People may opt veganism due to their religious belief, moral values, or merely to lose weight in that particular manner. Here it is essential to understand that veganism is not just restricted to your diet, but it is a code of conduct, the way you choose your life to be. click HERE to see the food list that is not only delicious, but healthy too 

A vegan diet has so many benefits, and for you, ten of them are listed below.

1. The medical fraternity accepts 150-200 mg/dL to be a standard range of cholesterol. According to a recent study, an average Americans cholesterol level is 210 mg/dL, and the level of a vegan is 146 mg/dL. Well, it is safe to say that it is better to be under than above.

2. People may think that vegans do not consume dairy, so they lack in protein and calcium, but to their surprise food like broccoli, bok choy, calcium-fortified orange juice, collards, kale, and Chinese cabbage are an excellent source to meet the deficit.

3. With the vegan diet, men and women are less likely to be a subject of cancer, and the rate goes down to approximately 36%. Cancer is one of the most common and deadly diseases, but with this diet, you may save yourself with this trouble.

4. Elizabeth Blackburn, Nobel Prize winner, came up with a study that claims that vegan diet changed more than 500 genes in just three months. Apparently, veganism turns off the genes that cause cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other diseases and turns on the genes that prevent infections.

5. Products that are listed as non-cholesterol are often vegan as bad fat is a product of meaty food.

6. Vegan diet not just brightens up your skin, it also makes you feel active and energetic for the longest time. So, if you feel frustrated and fatigued throughout the day than a properly cooked vegan meal can may you feel better.

7. While there are so many benefits of vegetables and fruits, if they are overcooked, all the benefits it carries go down the drain.

8. When one person decides to be a vegan that person helps saving the entire acre o a forest from demolishing. How? For meat production, forests are being cleared out to grow crops to feed the animals. I am not asking not to feed animals, but in order to fulfill the huge meat need, drastic measures have been taken.

9. To produce one pound of meat 2500 gallons of water is needed and to grow one pound of wheat, only 25 gallons of water is required. Considering the rumors that the third world war will be on the water, I think we should do more to save up this precious thing than wasting it.

10. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Sia, Pamela Anderson, and Peter Dinklage are the ones who believe that veganism is not just healthy, but it is also the right way to live.”

*The views expressed in this post are strictly that of the author, Michelle Hannan.

 

 

Staying Inspired

I have been having a very emotional and stressful week.  I normally am an upbeat person and always on the go, so when stress and lethargy run high in me, I’m not sure of the best outlet. Because I normally don’t deal with it.
Earlier this week my cat of 12 years started seizing and his health is in jeopardy and I’m a basket case. Dealing with my own heart condition is one thing, dealing with a heart condition in a very loved pet is another.  The thought of losing my long-time companion has me feeling like I’ve been punched in the heart.  Literally.  This pain is real and it’s taking my breath away.
And although I haven’t had much of an appetite lately, part of me has been thinking about comforting my pain by stuffing my head with chocolate and all that kind of goodness.
Oddly enough, a new-found friend has also been suffering through an emotional and stressful week – probably the hardest one he’s had in a very long time , but instead of easing his pain with the kind of garbage one would find in comfort food (like my craving for all that is chocolate), he turned down my offer of coffee and a pastry and instead kept to his healthy journey.  What a man!  What an inspiration.
Josh's lunch

This is his actual lunch – I was very jealous!!

So…thanks to him, I said no to drowning my sorrows in chocolate and red wine and instead picked up some carrot sticks and hummus.  I don’t yet have the appetite, or frankly the desire to eat anything, but when I’m ready, my healthy choices have already been made.
~FB

Staying on Track

If you recall from my previous post, I noted it’s much easier to have success with your fitness/weight loss/health goals if you make a plan and make a commitment.  I know, personally, that if I say I’m going to do something, I may not always follow through with it. But if I commit to something, I am committed 100%.  So, here are my commitments for 2018:

Whole 30

To kick off the new year, I’ve committed to another Whole 30 – which begins TOMORROW. As always, I’m super excited to start another Whole 30 Program.  I have over-indulged in my fair share of chocolate this Christmas season, and I really need to slay my sugar dragons.

Whole30 Reset

I began preparing for my 30 days late this past week.  I got my grocery shopping done and spent part of the weekend eating clean meals.  My fridge is organized and the chocolate is going into cold storage.  I have been waiting to get started and now I’m more than gung-ho. I know how great I feel during and after my 30 days and I know the chocolate will be there later on down the road if I really feel the need to have some.  But, for the next 30 days, I’m committed to clean eating and drinking.

Gym Routine and Workouts and Rest

Fortunately, I don’t really ever need to push myself to exercise.  In fact, I’m eager to do my workouts and, it seems, it’s often all I think about.

Rest Day2

I mean, if I’m being completely honest….

In addition to my boot camps, family fitness classes, and attending Zumba, I have regular gym sessions (I often exercise more than once a day – splitting my days with lifting in the morning and cardio/boot camp in the evenings).  Therefore, I sometimes get through a work day on 3-5 hours of sleep.  And, let’s be honest, that just isn’t enough.  Although I am fully functional on just a few hours of sleep, I am committing to resting more in 2018.  I am going to let go of my fear of missing a workout and spend time relaxing (and snoozing).

RestDay

Eye Health

A few years back I had eye surgery.  It was a gross surgery where my eyeball was cut into and a membrane was scraped out.  Although, my vision in that eye on it’s own has not improved (and may never), my vision with both eyes together is still better than 20/20. That being said, I’m constantly fearful that the sight in my good eye will go and I’ll be SOL.  If it happens, I won’t be able to read and my driver’s license will likely be taken away.

Eyes

Be proactive and take care of your vision.

I have been as proactive as I can be, but the issue with my “bad” eye was such a fluke that there really is no way to prepare for or prevent the same thing happening in the other eye. However, I am careful with my eyes and I do what I can to ensure my eye health is up to par.  I keep drops in my desk at work and at home, I always have my sunglasses on during the day, even in the winter, and especially with all this snow in Nova Scotia so as to prevent Photokeratitis – or snow blindness.  In fact, I have several pairs of sunglasses with different UV protection and different shades of protection so that I have a pair to go with every weather condition. And I already have my next appointments set with my eye surgeon/check-ups.

Although I don’t wear glasses or contact lenses, Warby Parker now offers a Prescription Check App that allows an eye doctor to assess your vision and provide an updated glasses prescription.  If you are someone who wears glasses, or just want to have your vision checked out, then it may be worthwhile checking out this app.

So that’s my short-list of my commitments for staying on track this year.  What’s on your list?

~Cheers

 

 

Welcome to 2018 – This is YOUR Year

It’s a brand new year, which means the resolutions have been made and people are out in abundance to make this year their best year ever.

Diets have been started, gyms have been joined, pacts have been sworn to.  And while I’m hoping that most of you will have success, some of you will fail.  Why?  Because plans aren’t being made.

I never make resolutions for the New Year when it comes to fitness and health.  I may make other resolutions, such as reading more, watching less television, spending more time with friends, etc.  Those are the resolutions that are easy to keep.  Because they’re easy. Changing your health and lifestyle doesn’t come easy for many.  It didn’t come easy for me at first.  Mostly because I wasn’t being honest with why I wanted to “change my life”.  (In complete honesty, I didn’t want to change my life, I just wanted to stop being fat.)  It wasn’t until I made the commitment to change my life and improve my health – for me (and not for the New Year) – that things started shifting for me.  I made a plan and I stuck with it. Why?  Because my lifestyle was becoming detrimental to my health.  I wasn’t exercising and I was eating crap and I have a heart condition to worry about.  I didn’t want to die from a heart attack before I turned 30.  That’s when I made the commitment to and for myself.

I wholeheartedly want you to succeed in your resolution.  But, instead of calling it a New Year’s Resolution, why not calling it a Lifestyle Change or a 2018 Commitment?  And instead of making a resolution, why not sit down and plan out how you will improve your health this year?  What will you do?  Make a list:

Will you commit to: Working out 3 days a week?; Creating a grocery list to include only the good stuff?  Plan your meals in advance?  Trying and sticking with a fitness class for a full session?  Eating clean?  Quitting smoking/drinking/binge watching tv?

Think about what you want to accomplish.  Do you want to:  Improve your overall health? Sleep better?  Eat more veggies? Lose weight?  Get stronger?  Run your first 5/10K?  Have mental clarity?

Once you know what and why you want to accomplish, and you commit to your new life changes, your rate for success goes up.

And for all of you who are old pros at this, be sure to support those around you. Encourage those in your circle to continue to eat better, exercise, sleep more, log out.  Welcome the newbies to your lifestyle.

And don’t be a dick in the gym!  We were all the newbie at one point.  For some, stepping into a fitness room for the first time is intimidating enough.  Be friendly!  A smile goes a long way!

2018 Gym

Saw this in someone’s feed and stole it.

Cheers and good luck!

~FB

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!