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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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)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earn Your Steps

I love me a good FitBit challenge.  If you can recall, a month or so ago I had to opt out of some challenges as I was getting a little burnt out with working, teaching and participating in classes, training, hiking, and trying to be numero uno in all the challenges I accepted. But, that being said, I do love the challenges.

FitBit

Via FitBit

The great thing about FitBit challenges, I find, is that they keep me motivated (not that I need any motivation when it comes to fitness).  But, sometimes I’ll be sedentary for too long at work or if I’m enamored in a great book and I look forward to that FitBit alert to give me the little nudge I need to get off my butt and do something.

That’s the thing with these challenges though…you have to do something.  Unfortunately, there are people who are more caught up with winning the challenge that they’re resorting to cheating (and yes – walking around your living room is getting your steps in, but seriously, are you actually earning your steps? No!) just to take over first place.  Funny thing about that is a) you’re making me work harder, that’s for sure…and if I’ve earned second place, I’m okay with that  b) If you’re resorting to cheating in any form to win a freakin’ FitBit step challenge, more than likely I can out-lift you, out-run you, and out-burpee you any darn day of the week.

What’s totally awesome about the step challenges is that it can bring a small community of people together to work harder at their health and push each other to strive for their best.  I’ve made some friends via FitBit challenges and we’ve helped each other step up (pun!) our game.

FitBitters

FitBit Besties….

So, if you’re one of those people who somehow manage to get 6,000 steps at 10 minutes to midnight by roaming around your living room (or any other measure of cheating), think about it next time why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Is it to be in first place?  Is it to have bragging rights?  (<- If that’s the case then maybe you should review your life and find out what’s missing in it.)  And instead of being a jerk and cheating your way to first place, you should focus your energies on earning your steps and motivating yourself so that you can win first place.  Earn it people.  Own it!

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triumph

Personal Triumph

Many of my days are spent thinking about my workouts.  My next workout.  Sometimes I am so darn excited I can’t get it out of my head.  I’ll spend my entire work day anticipating getting to the gym.  And I love my job, so it’s not like I’m watching the clock for the day to end so I can get the heck outta there, I just really, really can’t wait to get to my happy place.

Let me clear, the gym is not my only happy place, but it sure does change my mood!

How I feel about the gym these days is a lot different than how I felt years ago when I wrote about my addiction to exercise.  Back then, though it was just a couple of years ago, it was an addiction.  I was obsessed with when I was going to exercise next and was working out several times a day, every day.  Now, I’m just excited about my fitness goals and the tasks in front of me and how I feel after I’ve completed the workout.  I’m not dissing my workout goals when I was addicted because I had great goals and I thoroughly enjoyed my workouts.  I think my biggest problem then was that it was controlling me and almost every move I made.  (Cue The Police’s Every Breath You Take.)

These days when I plan a routine for the gym – or even for one of my classes – I’m taking my fitness to new levels.  I’m taking on tasks that I never thought I’d be doing – or interested in.  And when I’m finished, when my time is finally up and I’m ready to leave, I am usually quite pleased with how my time was spent and with what I accomplished.

No regrets

~Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

20 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life!

20 Minutes

I’ve said this many times before.  I’ve said it over and over again and I will continue to say it over and over again.  Why?  Because I believe it.  In fact, before I began my fitness journey, someone in my life kept saying that to me.  I thought he was just being an asshole and telling me I was fat (let’s face it, y’all, I was fat!), but eventually I listened to those words and I went from there.

As I mentioned in my last post, when I first started exercising, I couldn’t make it 20 minutes.  I could barely make it 3 minutes without wanting to kill myself (or feel like I was already dying).  My goal was to make it to 20 minutes.

When I finally did make it to the 20 minute mark I was ecstatic.  And for a long time that’s where I remained.  Just at the 20 minute mark.  Eventually, I did move up and sometimes I would (and still do) work out for hours on end.  But, there are times when time is limited and 20 (or 30) minutes is all you have.  You can sit around watching TV or creeping Facebook, OR you can get up and take advantage of that little bit of time and do something that will improve your mood, your energy level, your health, and your life.

Change Your Life

This past Saturday I was pressed for time and wasn’t able to get to the gym or a class but I desperately wanted to work out.  Technically, it was supposed to be my day off, but it was rainy and gross out and I was feeling lethargic and lazy and like I needed to do something. Initially, I was supposed to do the warm up for the Relay for Life but because of the raining weather, the warm up got cancelled.  Yet, I was craving a workout.  I didn’t want to overdo it because rest days are extremely important and, I admit, I don’t always take advantage of them, but I really wanted to get in a little cardio and a little strength.  And I did.

I got my game plan ready and I had myself a sweat-inducing, heart-racing 21 minute workout right there in my boyfriend’s living room.  And it felt great.  I felt great.  I accomplished a lot in a little bit of time and carried on with the rest of my day.

So, if that’s all it takes (at the very least, to start), why not set aside 20 minutes of your day and get moving in the direction to change your life.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

Begin (Confessions)

I saw this post in my Facebook feed this today and knew I had to write something about it.

Beginner

…Because this is truth.

We all have to start somewhere.  We are all beginners.  We will not know our full abilities until we try.

When I first began my fitness journey I could not do a full three minutes on my elliptical.  In fact, I found it so hard that I gave up.  I was winded and sweaty (I still sweat like I’m burning in Hell) and, frankly, I was embarrassed that a mere three minutes of cardio nearly killed me and I gave up!

I had bought that elliptical on a whim of trying wanting to be healthy (read: skinny) and I failed.  And, apparently, at that time I was okay with failure.  But then one day, that one particular day, I made a decision and my life changed – forever and for the best.  I swear to God, that elliptical saved my life.  I saw this with all seriousness and certainty.  I was on a path that was destroying me.  My self-esteem was shot, my mental health was in the toilet, and I was overweight to a degree that I should never have let happen.

And I jumped on my elliptical and had my first real workout.

And, although I swore I would never publicly show this photo – I realized, “well shoot!  This was me!  This is what I looked like!”  So, here goes:

Side by side

Left: Before / Right: After 

Yep!  The pic on the left with the scratched out face and the really, really badly blonde hair is me.

And you know what’s sad?  I I don’t even recognize that person on the left and I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to treat my body that way. After A Lot of hard work, dedication, and discipline, the pic on the right reflects closer to where I am today. But each day I grow in my fitness. I’m so much stronger and adventurous in my exercising. And I look forward to challenging myself daily.

Once I started exercising regularly and eating healthier, I started feeling better on the inside too.  I know not everyone gets this or agrees. But this is 100% true for me. Exercise helped bring me out of a 10 year depression. It helped with my self-esteem and confidence.  There are days when I still struggle with these but overall, I’ve become a different person.  (Give it a chance….you might be shocked to find that exercise can help you too.)

Mood changer

When I look back to those years ago and hopping on my elliptical and failing miserably at my first attempt of working out, I almost feel glad,  Because I was doing it for the wrong reason.  As I said above, I wanted to start exercising to get thin, not to have a better life.  And it wasn’t until I decided to change my life that my life changed.  That’s when I really began.

So, don’t be afraid to begin.  Even if it means you’re starting over or beginning again.  It’s when you’re really ready that you will make the effort.  As you know, my mantra for years has been “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight.” (Thank you Shaun T!)  Again, #Truth!

So, don’t be afraid.  Go ahead and begin.  And if you have to, begin again.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burnout

burnout0A while back I wrote a piece on my over-training syndrome and addiction to exercise and how it attributed to weight gain and other health issues (including adrenal fatigue).  Once I realized had confirmation that my glutenous exercising was taking a toll on my health, I pulled back the reigns somewhat and began to let go of my addiction.  Although still maintaining a fairly strict exercise regime, I let go of the idea that I absolutely needed to work out every single day and became more lax.  And I think cardio was killing me.

This past year, as you may have read, I have changed up my fitness goals and have been concentrating on strength training and lifting, spending most of my gym time in the weight room and venturing into territory that, though I have always maintained some strength training, has been on the up-and-up with me.  Power lifting and such has become somewhat of a (new) passion and I’m really excited about it and look forward to the days I can get to the gym.  Which, of late, seems to be more and more frequently.  With classes at least three times per week, I have been making efforts to hit the gym the other 3 to 4 days each week.  The other day someone referred to me as a “gym Nazi”.

On top of classes and gym time, the last few months I’ve gotten more and more into hiking – mostly on weekends or sometimes on the off-days from working out.  And I have been walking every day on my lunch break for the full hour, and several days before work for anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes.

This week, I had some pretty insane workouts – including lifting the highest amount of weight I’d ever lifted (impressing even myself), and Thursday I totally overdid it.  Like, completely.  I did two major walks – 40 minutes before work and an hour at lunch and in the evening I did my regular Thursday night gym routine, spending nearly two and a half hours in the gym, and ending the evening with a Zumba class.  (Thursday is my favorite night of the week!)

Lift Exhaustion

Although during my exercised-fueled endorphin rush I felt awesome and energetic and like I could take on the world, by late Thursday evening I was zonked and actually nodded off on my couch.  I never fall asleep on my couch.

Friday morning I awoke with not a lick of energy.  I was literally physically exhausted and drained.  The entire day I felt like I got hit by a truck.  A big-ass truck!  I was barely functioning at work and felt like no amount of caffeine would be able to help me.  I was relieved when the work day ended.

Out of Order

This is how I felt Friday…keep knocking…there’s no one home.

However, I am a moron determined and decided that I still wanted to ensure I got another workout in, since it was cold and raining on Friday and I barely got a walk in (short one in the morning and shorter one in the afternoon – resulting in very wet pant-legs) and I headed to the gym once again.  It’s really all I could think about Friday and I really was happy to get there.  I spent way too long there Friday night working out (about an hour and 40 minutes), lifting and finishing with a little cardio.  I felt like I could conquer the world and could keep going but, sometimes I have to say “enough’s enough”.

Although I ventured back to the gym yesterday for what turned out to be a great workout with a buddy, I felt like I didn’t or couldn’t put all I had into my workout.  And although I slept wayyyy too long Friday night into Saturday, I was still very tired and needed to push myself.

I made the decision to definitely take today off.  Even though I was invited to participate in a fun-run for Apple Blossom festivities, I was happy when the invitee texted to say that she was declining as well.  Thank goodness.

I have spent most of today and last night recovering from last week and I am determined  to not let myself get to that point again.  The point of physical exhaustion and burnout.  I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced exercise burnout before.  It’s definitely different than the over-training syndrome and adrenal fatigue I experienced a few years ago.  I’ve also decided this week to opt out of any FitBit challenges that I’ve been invited to as I feel like I’ve been too competitive lately and that has been fueling me a little more than it should.  I am not Monica Geller.

And, let’s face it, I know better.  I wasn’t trying to get to this point on purpose.  Exhaustion is NOT a status symbol.  I know the effects of over-training and risks exhaustion can pose. Up until the end of this past week I wasn’t feeling the effects of my workouts.  And perhaps this is a one time occurrence, but I will be more careful as I go into a new week.  I will not attempt more than I can handle.  My body is my temple and as such, I shall treat it like one and show it more respect.

~FB

30 Day Ab Challenge – Redux

I’ve been getting some requests to re-post the 30 Day Ab Challenge from a few years back. That particular post was and has been one of the most-searched posts.  It seems to be pretty popular – especially around this time of year (aka upcoming beach season).

This is a fun little exercise that you commit to participating in over 30 days.  You can do the challenge on its own, or as a complement to your current workout routine.  If you’re already accustomed to working your abdominal muscles, then double (or triple) each day’s challenge.  Push yourself – you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.

Here’s the Challenge (you can view the original post here):

ab-challenge

Have fun!

~FB