Monthly Archives: February 2022

Don’t Sleep on the Power of Rest

Those of you who know me or have been following my blogs know how much I “preach” about getting your workouts in, being active, prepping healthy meals, journaling, etc.  It likely sounds like I want everyone to go, go, go all the time.  We DO need to be active over being sedentary.  Eating clean nutritious meals takes effort – planning, preparation, and implementation.  But there is a very real issue in overdoing, over taxing your body and your brain, and in over training.  Rest HAS to be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.  There is a very real difference between getting rest and being lazy!  Your body needs rest, and it needs at least seven (7) to eight (8) hours of sleep each night.  Believe me, I know how difficult that can be!  Even if I had eight hours to sleep, I’m at an age when my body just won’t sleep straight through more than a couple of hours at a time.  

First, let’s look at all of the benefits sleep provides, per SCLHealth, and the American Heart Association, just to name a few.  Even though this seems pretty obvious, there might be some hidden jewels!  

1. A good night’s sleep boosts your immune system.  We’ve always been told that sleep is the best medicine, and that we need to rest when our bodies are sick.  Getting enough rest can actually strengthen our immune systems and prevent us from getting sick!

2. Getting the proper amount of sleep can aid in the prevention of weight gain.  Guess what comes into play here?  Hormones – yup, those always pesky hormones!  NOT getting enough quality sleep causes your body to produce the hormone ghrelin, which boosts appetite.  At the same time, your body decreases the production of the hormone leptin, which tells you you’re full when eating.   So – without adequate rest, your body reacts by telling you you’re hungry more often but lacks the ability to let you know you’re actually full.  This can lead to extra snacking and to cravings for junk foods!

3. A good night’s sleep can strengthen your heart.  When you’re tired, especially over tired or in a state of near exhaustion, your body releases cortisol – yet another hormone – which is a stress hormone that causes your heart to work harder.  A lack of adequate rest can lead to a rise in your blood pressure and can even lead to a heart attack.

4. Getting more quality sleep can improve your mood!  I know this one seems obvious, which is all the more reason to get that sleep in!

5. If being overly tired causes you to be less productive, can you imagine how much better your day will go if you get quality sleep?!  Not only your mood is improved, your productivity and your focus will be improved!

6. Getting quality sleep can surely improve your athletic performance!  This is true regardless of your sport of choice – lifting weights, running, soccer, basketball, dance, Crossfit, yoga, etc.

The biggest obstacle is life itself, isn’t it?  We are all so busy!  We have our children, their schedules, spouses and their schedules, jobs, meals to prepare, dishes and laundry, etc., etc,   So let’s look at some tips that can help us get that quality sleep, from some very reputable sources such as Healthline and the Mayo Clinic.

  • Try to get more exposure to bright light each day.  If your work environment is dark, try opening windows or at least let the light shine in at home!  Natural light is obviously the best, so get outside as much as possible when you can.
  • Try to decrease the amount of screen time in the evening.  The “blue light” emitted from computers, smart phones, and tablets.  Exposure to these lights affect your circadian rhythm by tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.  This can cause your body to produce less of the hormone melatonin, which causes your body to relax and aids sleep.  There are tips here:  1) wear special glasses that block the blue light  2) Install an app that blocks the blue light on your smartphones; they are available for both android and iPhones.  3) Turn off the tv and any bright lights 2 hours before turning in for the night.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Avoid or at least reduce irregular or long daytime naps.  Short, “power” naps (about 30 minutes in length), however, can be beneficial!
  • Do your best to set a consistent bedtime and waking schedule.  Your body will adjust – just like the sleep schedule you set for your children.  It will work for grown ups, too!
  • Try taking a melatonin supplement.  Since this is the hormone your body naturally produces that aids in sleep, it is completely natural.  By taking only 2mg before bedtime, you may have improved quality of sleep and wake up feeling more energized.
  • Evaluate your bedroom environment.  Look at factors such as temperature, noise, external lights, and even how your furniture is arranged.
  • Avoid eating late at night, especially heavy foods
  • Establishing a bedtime routine can be very helpful.  Try setting a consistent routine about 30 to 45 minutes before your bedtime.  This can include relaxing in hot bath, listening to relaxing music, reading a book, deep breathing, etc.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable pillow, mattress, and sheets!
  • Just to be safe, if after instituting these things with no improvement, see a doctor to rule out a sleep disorder.
  • Get regular exercise!!!  You knew it was in here, right?  Not right before bed (unless you try some restorative yoga), of course, but getting in some regular exercise will definitely improve your sleep!

Should I Do Cardio or Should I Lift?

The big question:  should I do cardio or lift weights?!  Which one will help me reach my goal faster?  This is very similar to which came first, the chicken or the egg. . .

The big answer:  You need both!!!   In order to improve your overall fitness level, overall health, and lose body fat (and build or maintain muscle mass) all of your internal systems will benefit from BOTH forms of training.  I will break down the benefits of each in this blog, but please understand that it really isn’t beneficial to choose only one.  Even if aesthetics aren’t your main goal, implementing a blend of cardio and strength training is always your best choice.  These are not just my opinions, but facts backed up by the American Heart Association,, and the Better Health Channel, just to name a few.

I’ll start with my personal favorite – strength training.  I’m not a huge fan of cardio, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE lifting!  There are so many mental and physical benefits to strength training.  Here a just a few:

  • Improves muscle tone and strength
  • Decreases risk of injury (bones and surrounding tissues become stronger and more protective)
  • Reduces risk of osteoporosis
  • Improves and maintains flexibility and balance (which helps us remain independent as we age)
  • Manages weight and increases the fat to muscle ratio
  • Helps prevent, or at least control, chronic conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, back pain, obesity, and depression
  • Improves mobility and balance
  • Improves posture
  • Improves sleep and helps decrease instances of insomnia
  • Improves strength and stamina to make everyday activities more manageable and easier
  • Boosts your metabolism (building muscle increases your metabolic rate as muscle burns more calories than body fat)
  • Decreases abdominal fat
  • Decreases risk of falling

There are various methods of strength training, which means that joining a gym isn’t a necessity if your finances won’t allow for a membership or you find that environment intimidating.  Working out alone is preferable to some, while others flourish in a community workout setting.  Strength training is resistance training, so body weight exercises are a fantastic place to start if you have no equipment.  (Yoga plugs in here nicely.)  Obviously, most gyms provide a wide variety of free weights, cables, and machines.  You can also get amazing benefits and results from barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands at home!

Moving onto cardio!  Just because cardiovascular training isn’t my favorite doesn’t mean it isn’t important.  In conjunction with strength training, cardio is the third part of three crucial components in improving your physical fitness and health.  For the record, nutrition is actually the first component and strength training is the second.  Benefits of cardiovascular training include:

  • Recommended by the American Heart Association for strengthening your heart and helping it operate more efficiently
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Aids in regulating blood sugar
  • Reduces asthma symptoms
  • Reduces chronic pain
  • Helps improve sleep
  • Regulates weight
  • Strengthens immune systems
  • Improves brain function
  • Improves mood
  • Improves endurance

As with strength training, there are various ways to get that cardio in – with or without equipment.  In good weather, you can always take it outside for a walk, run, ride a bike, interval training circuit, create or join a boot camp, jump rope, swim. . .  I love a good interval training circuit to break up the monotony and keep my heart pumping!  Mix in jogs and/or sprints, walking lunges, jumping jacks, plank jacks, pushups, pop squats, step ups on benches, run stairs or hills, etc.  In any weather cardio equipment works great!  Pop in your headphones and get busy on stationary bikes, elliptical machines, treadmills, or a tabata interval session (squat kicks, plank jacks, shoulder taps, burpees, donkey kicks, pop squats, lunges, squats, pushups, etc.)  And don’t ever forget cardio classes!  There are SO many!!  Dance fitness, Zumba, step classes, yoga, pilates, body pump, etc.  I know that all Gold’s Gyms offer a wide variety of classes all times of the day, so you’ll be able to find one that fits in your schedule!

To sum it all up, you definitely need both cardio and strength training to get the best results and to feel your best.  But don’t underestimate the importance of good, clean nutrition!  If you’re increasing your physical activity, you need to FUEL your body with good foods.  Fast foods and junk foods will add to body fat, NOT feed your muscle, gunk up your arteries, and will hurt your workouts.  So get out there and get busy!  You’ll surprise yourself by having fun and looking forward to your next workout!  Personally, weight training is easy for me, and I look forward to it.  Cardio is much easier and more enjoyable for me with friends.  Find your community – or create your own!  Invite friends to workout with you.   Take a class or two; invite friends or make new friends there.  Ask them to join you in the weight room after or before class!

As always – if you just don’t know where to start or need help implementing a plan, please seek out a personal trainer.  I would love to help you reach your goals and live your best life!!  If you don’t have a trainer in mind, click on the Contact Me link on my site and send me an email.  We can at least discuss your goals!

What In The World Are Macros (And Why Should I Care?)

Maybe you’ve heard people talking about or seen things written about “macros” and are curious.  Maybe someone has recommended you count your macros and/or incorporating macros into a meal plan over dieting.  YESSS!  Let’s talk about why these macros are SO important!  

To begin with, macros is just short for macronutrients.  The macronutrients we focus on are:  carbohydrates, fats, and protein.  All diets utilize macronutrients, even if it isn’t a main focus.  I personally prefer living by macronutrients and eating clean, healthy foods over all fad diets.  

One issue with diets is they tend to have time limits, or lead people to believe there is a starting and ending date.  The problem with this is that nothing has really permanently changed.  If you are successful with a trendy diet for the recommended time limit of that diet, but return to previous eating habits, you will very likely be right back where you were before.  In order to maintain those successes and maintain a healthy weight, you will need to eat healthy consistently.  If you want to be healthy and fit for life, you need to maintain fit, healthy lifestyle habits!

Calories are important to count, and should certainly be included in your macronutrient numbers.  There is no consistent number of calories for every person; this is as individual to you as your fingerprint.  The number of calories you should take in daily will depend on your height, weight, age, and activity level.  In order to maintain muscle and keep your metabolism active, you must eat at least the number of calories that is your Basal Metabolic Rate (the number of calories your body needs in an inactive state to provide the necessary energy).  This number will be your minimum.  In order to induce fat loss, you will need to create a caloric deficit between the number of calories you take in and the number of calories you burn in a day’s time.  

Ensuring that you get the proper number of grams of  lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats in each day is the key.  Did you catch the descriptors there?  LEAN sources of protein, COMPLEX carbohydrates, and HEALTHY fats!  This does not include fried chicken, loaded cheeseburgers, donuts, ice cream, chips, etc.  Let’s break down examples of the best macronutrient options:

1. Complex Carbohydrates:  Sweet potatoes, baking potatoes, red potatoes, quinoa, oatmeal (real not instant), jasmine or brown rice, rice cakes

2. Healthy Fats:  avocado, cashews, almonds, feta cheese, olives, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, salmon, natural peanut butter, almond butter

3. Lean Protein:  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ground chicken, turkey, eggs, white fish (tilapia, orange roughy, mahi, triggerfish), 

Okay, fine, you say. . . now what?  How do I know how much of each macronutrient do I need?  Well, that also depends on you.  Again, there is no main number for every person.  The amount of lean protein and complex carbohydrates an individual needs depends on your weight and how much exercise you do.  When it comes to protein, your body cannot store it.  Once your body reaches the amount of protein your body needs, it is then converted to energy or fat.  Most fitness and medical professionals recommend that you concentrate on meeting your protein goal, then look at carbohydrates and fats to meet your caloric goal.

Carbohydrates provide fuel for your body during high-intensity exercise.  This allows your body to use carbs during exercise instead of protein, which in turn allows your body to retain your muscle mass.

When it comes to fats, most people typically try to stick with low fat or cut fats out.  We all need to include  20 to 35 percent of our daily calories from healthy sources of fats.  Healthy fats are found in natural sources – plants and animals.

There are many online macronutrient calculators you can use to figure out your specific needs.  These will ask for your age, height, weight, and some will ask for your activity level.   A nutritionist or personal trainer can also help you with these and prepare meal plans specifically for your needs.  Some of the sites that I prefer for calculating macros are:




It’s NOT All About The Numbers

It’s no big surprise that the vast majority of the population is preoccupied with either losing or maintaining weight.  One of the most-used tools for measuring weight is the dreaded scale. . . Yes, it IS an important number, but it is most certainly not the most important number!  Watching that number go up or down can do more damage to your motivation than you think.  

The first thing to consider is body composition.  Even uber fit, muscle-bound athletes with very low body fat will have BMI (Body Mass Index) numbers in the “obese” range.  This scale does not take body composition into consideration!  Anyone who carries a good deal of muscle can weigh the same as someone who carries a good deal of body fat, and have the same BMI.  You can see how this number is not really helpful!  Body composition is made up of:

  • Body Water
  • Bone mass
  • Muscle mass – skeletal muscle AND lean muscle mass
  • Body fat 
    • Body fat percentage
    • Subcutaneous fat (under the skin)
    • Visceral fat (around the internal organs)

Clearly the goal in any journey to a healthier lifestyle is to lower body fat and increase lean muscle mass.  Staying hydrated and getting in enough water is also key to maintaining a healthy body composition.  Depending on the type of scale you use, you may only have access to one overall number for body weight.  Do NOT let that number define you or cause you undue stress.  You also do not want to let this number guide your view of success.

Your overall body weight number on the scale is only a small part of your whole story.  Yes, the most common presumption is  to see that number drop daily.  However, if your training program incorporates any resistance training (which it should), you are building muscle.  While that number on the scale may not change much, your body composition very likely is changing!  Taking this into consideration, let’s look at what I LOVE to call NSV – Non Scale Victories.  These can be big or small improvements you notice in your body, health, and/or fitness level!  Here are a few examples:

1. Your clothes are fitting more loosely.  Maybe you’re even wearing pants or an outfit that you haven’t been able to wear in a while!

2. You have more energy for your workouts AND for your day to day activities

3. You find that you are sleeping better, maybe getting more restful sleep and/or waking feeling more rested and energized.

4. You’re seeing personal bests in your workouts!  You are faster, stronger, and have more endurance.  What once seemed nearly impossible is now easy.

5. You notice that your balance, flexibility, and mobility are improving.  These can lead to an increased ability for you to enjoy activities or hobbies you weren’t able to for a while!

6. Your focus and memory are sharper.  Maybe you even notice that your attention span has improved.  Cutting out sugars, processed foods, and increased activity all lead to improved brain function!

7. Your skin looks more healthy.

8. Keep track of ALL of your measurements!  You may find that you’ve lost inches!

9. You find that you’re managing anxiety and/or stress better.

10. You find that chronic pain is lessened!   More activity and lower body weight eases strain on your joints, and can certainly help keep arthritis inflammation at bay.

11. You realize that your mood has improved; you feel happier more often.

12. Additional and/or improved community – your new workout buddies are THE best!  You look forward to seeing them and to working out with them.  You find that you have incredible encouragement and support within this community.

13. Health and medical numbers are improving!  Maybe your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, as well as blood sugar levels are better.

14. Your financial accounts are a little healthier if you’re eating at home and not in fast food drive-throughs regularly.  You are also less likely to need over-the-counter medications or doctor visits due to improved health!

15. You feel more confident in taking on any new challenge.  You’re definitely more comfortable in planning healthy meals and in tackling new workouts.

Look back over these non scale victories again – how many have you already experienced?  I recommend starting a journal, if you haven’t already.  This can be hand-written or digital – it’s up to your personal preference.  Go back to your Ground Zero – your first few days.   Include photos of yourself, weight, and any measurements you had taken.  Date that first entry, include the things listed above, as well as your reason(s) why you began a journey to become healthier and more fit.  List any goals – short and long term.  Every two or three weeks, start a new entry that includes updated weight, body measurements, and make note of ANY of the above non-scale victories you’ve realized since the first few days.  List anything, any improvement, you want to celebrate that’s above and beyond the number on your scale.

Yes, I DID say celebrate.  I meant that – celebrate your successes!  That doesn’t necessarily mean you eat a piece of cake or 23 cookies.  Maybe you earned a new pair of leggings or a new workout shirt!  Maybe you earned a new gym bag, hat, ponytail scrunchies, shoes – some reward that feeds back into your new lifestyle!

If all of this sounds promising to you, but you’re unsure how to get started, I would love to discuss it with you.  Having an experienced, knowledgeable trainer in your corner can surely be a wise investment.  Feel free to contact me on my site through the Contact Me link, or email me at!