Category Archives: Uncategorized

Just How Important Is Protein?

If you’ve been researching and/or talking with friends about what might be the best weight loss method, I’m sure the term macronutrients has been used.  Protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. . .which has led to so many “fad” or trendy diets.   The keto diet, in particular, has been touted by many as the best method.   A diet high in protein and low in carbs may be somewhat successful short-term, but it isn’t truly sustainable for most, nor should it be truly encouraged.  We all need protein!   Limiting carbohydrates is best done by cycling them and in making sure you are taking in the cleanest form of complex carbs.  Your body needs the fiber and other nutrients.

More on carbohydrates later, but for now, let’s get back to protein!!  We all need protein in our diets daily  to help our bodies repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, as well as pregnant women.  The vast majority of fitness, health, and medical resources, such as WebMD, Healthline, agree on the benefits and importance of protein!

Protein is a very critical part of the processes that fuel energy and carry oxygen throughout our bodies in our blood.  Quality protein also aids in making antibodies that fight infections and illnesses, helps maintain healthy cells, as well as creating new cells.

Let’s break down where you can find the best sources of protein first, and then the signs that you’re lacking protein:

1. The best sources of quality protein can be found in various food sources, and protein supplements.  The best choices, naturally, are whole foods.

  • Fish, specifically white fish (orange roughy, tilapia, mahi, triggerfish)
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lean beef
  • Buffalo
  • Venison
  • Eggs
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Nuts 

2. Having a protein deficiency comes with many “warning” signs.  If you’re experiencing any of these, I recommend that you add more protein into your diet AND begin tracking your meals to insure how many grams you’re taking in each day.  (See last week’s blog about journaling!)

  • Fatigue and weakness:  A lack of protein over time can cause a loss of muscle mass, which naturally leads to losses in strength and stamina.  This loss of strength can then lead to a loss of balance and begin to affect your metabolism.  This can also lead to anemia, which makes you tired.
  • Swelling:  This one is the most surprising!  One of the more common signs that your body is not getting enough protein is edema, or swelling.  This can be evident in your abdomen, feet, legs and/or hands.  There are proteins/amino acids that circulate in your blood that help prevent fluids from building up in your tissues.  There are many other possibilities for this type of swelling, however, so always see your doctor if you have concerns!
  • Hair, Nail, and Skin problems:    The proteins of collagen, elastin, and keratin make up our hair, skin and nails.  A lack of protein leads to brittle, thinning hair; dry and flaky skin; and deep ridges in your fingernails.  
  • Hunger: Protein is a big source of energy or fuel for our bodies.  It makes sense that you’ll be hungry more often if your “tank” isn’t full.  There are many studies that have proven eating foods rich in protein help keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day.  The best example of this is  eating a donut, muffin, or sugary cereal for breakfast then feeling incredibly hungry within 30 to 45 minutes.  Try getting a protein-rich breakfast!  You’ll feel fuller longer, and you’ll find you feel better and have more energy.  
  • Injuries that won’t heal:  Collagen is one of the important proteins that is found in our connective tissues and in our skin.  Protein is also necessary for blood to clot.  A protein deficiency can cause a delay in healing for minor cuts and scrapes as well as sprains and strains.
  • Weakened Immune System:  Our bloodstreams need the amino acids found in proteins to help our immune systems make the antibodies that enable white blood cells to fight bacteria, toxins and viruses.  Protein is also necessary to aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients as we eat.

How much protein should we take in each day?  Well, that truly depends on each individual and his or her goals, but we all should be getting a minimum of 25% of our daily calories from protein.  Athletes will need a much higher amount of protein, but every single person needs clean quality protein.  

Please be very careful about any popular diets you hear or read about.  Where nutrition is concerned, trendy is rarely ever the best choice.  A successful meal plan should always consist of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins.   Tracking your meals and maintaining a journal can be exceptionally helpful.  Any quality personal trainer or nutritionist can help if you need nutritional guidance.  Feel free to contact me; I would love to help you!

Why Should I Journal?

While maintaining a journal sounds like a time-consuming thing, it truly is beneficial!  There are many apps to aid in tracking your meals (MyFitnessPal), your workouts and stats (FitBit).  These are incredibly helpful, and honestly are crucial to my fitness journey.  However, there are things that these apps just can’t track.  In addition, you have to go from app to app in order to see your information rather than have it all in one place.  In order to know exactly what works for our bodies and what doesn’t, we should be journaling.  For example – do sweet potatoes fuel your body and aid in digestion, or have you found that they cause bloat for you?  Would you actually know which food causes issues if you aren’t journaling?  If we had a great night’s sleep one night, then an awful night a few days later, can you go back to your journal to see if something was different on those days?  

Let’s look at tangible benefits from journaling!  There are many websites, including medical ones like Kaiser Permanente, that encourage journaling, and list the benefits.

1. Journaling helps you achieve goals.  “If it ain’t written, it didn’t happen” applies here!  When you use a journal to list your goals, it can help you keep track of your inventions and progress.  Writing your goals down and listing the steps you’ll take can help keep you moving forward, and keep you motivated.

2. If you keep your journal close and make writing entries a daily habit, you can easily track your progress by looking at past entries.

3.  Seeing your progress can keep you motivated!  Once you begin to feel that you’re in a plateau, you can see how far you’ve come!  Seeing results can keep you moving and boost your confidence.

4. It seems obvious,  making journal entries will also improve your communication skills – both written and spoken.

5. Even if you’re tracking your meals in an app, keeping a journal of your meals and any adverse reactions can be extremely valuable!  You’ll have a definitive record of foods, seasonings, and any reactions (bloating, extra gas, upset stomach, indigestion, etc.)  

While some people keep journals for various reasons, you could easily combine several into one journal.  For example, instead of having a fitness journal, a food journal, and a daily/memory journal – include it all in one.  Having a written record for each day’s workouts and meals in the same journal with weekly progress updates, goals, thoughts, obstacles, observations, etc.  is your best reference and guide book for future progress.  

It might seem overwhelming, but this journal will be for you, and you alone.  YOU make it exactly what YOU need, which means you can tweak it as you go along.  Add what you need or want, and cut what you don’t want!  Some things you might want to track and keep record of for your fitness and health transformation journey might be:

* Starting weight and body measurements, clothing size

* Day 1 progress pictures

* Long-term and short-term goals

* Your plan, step by step, for achieving your goals

* Track daily workouts; this will give you visible proof of your progress.  So list:

  • Type of workout (class, run, walk, lifting, yoga, etc.)
  • Distance, time, exercises, sets, reps & weight

* Track daily meals, to include all snacks, drinks, salad dressings – everything.  Make notes for any reactions (good, unpleasant, or just different) you notice after eating.  List serving sizes.

* List your daily water intake

* Every two or three weeks, update your progress photos, weight, body measurements

* Make entries about any changes in your sleep (quality, quantity), energy levels, clothing sizes, mood

* Make entries about any illnesses or injuries, even if one day you’re feeling more fatigued than another.

Once you have a written record of all of these things, you have the perfect resource to review when something seems off.  Go back to see if you’ve noticed it before, and what seems to be the same or different from your day to day activities and nutrition.   This can be truly helpful in the event you develop a food allergy, or something in your workout routine aggravates an old injury or inflammation issue.  Keeping a record of your goals, observations, and plans as well as your daily activities gives you tremendous insight into your progress.  This can certainly keep you motivated when you look back to see just how far you’ve come!  Remember, we’re looking for ALL of the non-scale victories!!  You could find some hidden treasures of progress tucked away in your journal entries!  

It will likely help to find a really pretty notebook to start your journaling; something that you’ll look forward to digging into!  Maybe get a set of really pretty pens to go with your new journal.  Then get started!  You might find that you begin to look forward to writing things down and/or that it relieves some stress in the process! 

All About the Shoes

As fitness levels improve, workouts become more intense, and the impact on our bodies can take a toll.  As crazy as it sounds, footwear is crucial.  Are you wearing the proper shoes for the workout(s) you’re doing?  You will likely need shoes for lifting in the gym that are different from shoes you wear when running.  

With the weather warming up, most of us are more than ready to get outside!  Taking our workouts outside is an incredible idea as well.  In addition to making sure we all have proper exercise clothing, don’t forget your shoes! Similar to fingerprints, our feet are different as well.  Some of us have high arches, some have low arches, and our gaits are different as well.  Consistently wearing the wrong shoes can cause many issues, such as:

 1. Foot pain

 2. Ankle pain

 3. Knee pain

 4. Hip pain

 5. Lower back pain

     Wearing the proper footwear is incredibly important – not only to your performance, but also for your health!  Your lower back, hips, knees AND feet will reap the benefit of proper shoes; conversely, they will suffer from repeated wear of the wrong shoes.  The trick here is that our feet are nearly as different as our fingerprints, and the shoe that works best for your workout partner could well be the worst shoe for you!  

The best shoe for you will depend on your sport of choice, your gait, and your foot (high or low arches?  Pronated instep?)  The good news is that there are several athletic shoe stores that specialize in assisting you to find the proper shoe for your foot and your activity!   In the metro Atlanta area of Georgia, we have Big Peach Running Company, New Sole, and Run Fit stores.    Be sure you tell the person helping you which activity or sport you participate in so they can help you choose the very best shoe.  

Here a few tips for finding the proper shoe, according to the Athletic Shoes OrthoInfo web site:

  • If you have the luxury of different types of athletic shoe stores, try to find one that caters to your particular sport
  • Try to wait until after a run or a workout to try on shoes as your feet tend to swell throughout the day
  • To insure the best fit, wear the same socks you tend to workout in
  • Make sure the back of the shoe at your heel, the part that holds your heel in place, grips your heel comfortably and firmly to maintain stability
  • There should be at least a half inch space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe
  • Make sure the toe box has ample room for you to wiggle your toes; your toes shouldn’t feel crammed into the tip of the shoe.
  • When you try on shoes, be sure to walk around the store on different surfaces (carpet, hard flooring, even concrete or grass if possible) in order to make sure they are comfortable.
  • Try on the right AND left shoe to insure they are comfortable and fit properly.

Finding the proper shoe for YOUR foot, and for your sport is truly important. It can get expensive, of course, but I guarantee it is a wise investment! Since my feet have really high arches, I have a pair of Topos with a wide toe box and wonderful arch support for running and other workouts. I also wear Otomix high tops for training legs. It seems silly to have two shoes for my workouts, but it truly makes a huge difference! At least take the time to have your foot and your gait analyzed to get their recommendations for your particular feet!

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, Healthline.com, 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:

1. www.Bodybuilding.com

2. http://www.calculator.net

3. http://healthyeater.com

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 FitTeacherMom@aol.com!

Are Multivitamins Really That Important?

I’m certain that each of us has heard “take your vitamins” daily throughout childhood and almost as often as adults.   Guess what?  They really are important!  I hope you’re all taking them still, and if you aren’t, go on and add them back into your daily routine!  Here’s why –

Even when eating clean and making sure that you’re taking in the proper nutrients, multivitamins help fill in any nutritional gaps.  Think of vitamins as additional nutrient insurance, regardless of age, stage of life, and dietary preferences. There are as many reasons to take a good multivitamin as there are formulations for them:

  • They boost immune function
  • They boost longevity
  • They boost brain health (help prevent the onset of dementia-related diseases)
  • They boost healthy hair, nails, and skin
  • They boost bone and muscle function
  • They boost heart health
  • They boost overall eye health

Need a boost?  Maybe taking that multivitamin is a good idea after all!!

So you’ve decided to add vitamins back into your daily routine, but there are SO many choices!  Which brand and which formulation is best for you?  Here are a few tips, per UT Southwestern Medical Center:

  • Look for the USP (U.S. Pharmocopeial Convention) verification logo or seal.  You can check your vitamin online through http://Consumerlab.com or NSF.org.
  • Choose a vitamin with 100% of the daily value of most of its ingredients.  
  • Look for the right blend for your gender and age, as nutrient needs can vary depending on these factors.  If you are in any phase of menopause or perimenopause, you will need higher concentrations of calcium, Vitamins B6, Iron, etc.  If you have questions, ask your doctor, nutritionist, or pharmacist for suggestions.
  • Be sure to look for essential micronutrients such as:
    • vitamin c, 
    • calcium, 
    • magnesium, 
    • iron, 
    • potassium, 
    • Thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin
    • Selenium,
    • Zinc,
    • Vitamins B6, B12, and folate
    • Vitamins A, E, and K
    • Vitamins D2 or D3

One other tip is that, while gummy vitamins are certainly easier for those who have trouble swallowing large pills, the quality and quantity of nutrients will be less than the standard form due to how they are made.

While finding the right brand and formulation can be daunting, rest assured that simply adding a multivitamin to your daily nutrition will be a huge boost!   I personally recommend taking vitamins in the morning WITH your first meal.  I never take them on an empty stomach.

If you aren’t already using a multivitamin, I highly recommend that you do.  Filling in nutritional gaps will surely help you reach your goals and maintain your health and immunity!

Stay Thirsty, My Friends!

If you know me, you already know how I feel about drinking water.  Water is SO, so important for our bodies, for our health.  Of course, water is the lowest calorie drink we can take in; it’s also the purest with no added chemicals, preservatives, sugars or artificial sweeteners.  There are countless benefits. . . and ZERO adverse side effects.  

Here are just a few reasons you should be drinking water daily, as provided by Harvard Health, Healthline, and Medical News Today – just to name a few:  

  • carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells
  • flushing bacteria from your bladder
  • aiding digestion
  • preventing constipation
  • normalizing blood pressure
  • stabilizing the heartbeat
  • cushioning joints
  • protecting organs and tissues
  • regulating body temperature
  • maintaining electrolyte (sodium) balance.

Keep in mind, while you should drink at least 64 to 80 ounces each day, you need more water when you are:

  • Outdoors in hot climates
  • More physically active
  • Running a fever
  • Experiencing nasal congestion and/or drainage
  • Experiencing digestional upset (vomiting or diarrhea)

I know some of my clients just don’t like water – because it doesn’t really have any flavor, or they are really hooked on drinking sodas, flavored sports drinks, and sweet tea.  Here are a few things to keep in mind about these drinks:

  • In addition to having too many chemicals and sugars, sodas are also dehydrating.  There’s simply NO good reason, nutritionally speaking, to drink these.
  • Flavored sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, typically contain more sugars than electrolytes.  Look for a healthier alternative that is lower in sugar.
  • All alcoholic beverages contain hidden sugars and can be dehydrating.
  • Any drink you have that is dehydrating will require you to drink additional water to insure you’re properly hydrated!

If you weren’t already sold on the benefits of water, are you ready to do better with your water intake?  Here are a few tips to help!  

  • In keeping with better, cleaner nutrition, add protein powders into your meal prep.  Instead of using milk or almond milk, use water.  Boom!  You can add eight (8) to 12 ounces of water with a healthy snack.
  • Invest in a really pretty or fun bottle for yourself.  Even though it seems like a silly mental trick – it works!!  It’s like a little reward for doing something good for yourself.  You can refill it as needed throughout the day.
  • Order water when eating out.  It goes with ANY dish, and will also save you money.
  • My favorite soda alternative is Spark (made by AdvoCare).  Not only does it have caffeine, it also contains Vitamin B6, B12, Taurine, among other amino acids.  I always mix it with at least 12 ounces of water!  
  • Add a wedge of lemon or lime.
  • Use a straw.
  • Create a competition with a friend or group of friends.
  • Track how much you drink each day.

Our bodies NEED water!  Every single one of us will feel better if our bodies are hydrated.  What have you got to lose?  You’ll feel better, be healthier, AND save money!  Cut back on sodas and sugary drinks.  Just give it a try for a few weeks – prove me wrong!! 

Nature’s Super Food ~ Flaxseed

You will never hear me tell you about a “magic” pill or potion, because that simply doesn’t exist.  Improving your fitness level, your health, and losing or maintaining your body weight will best be achieved through maintaining a healthier lifestyle.  In order to be successful, you will have to put in some consistent effort, and you will need to be disciplined.  The GOOD news is that it is NOT impossible, and it honestly isn’t as hard as some people believe.  There are some “super foods” that can help us achieve and maintain a healthier lifestyle!  

Let’s look at a true super food that nature gives us – NO chemicals or preservatives required!!  It’s flaxseed!  You can find it in many forms – ground, whole seed, and oil.  The whole seed is the only form not recommended, simply because the hull stays intact, and digestion does not take the nutrients.  Either ground flaxseed or flax oil can easily be added into your favorite recipes.  It’s SO easy!  I mix it into my protein coffee in the mornings.  

Flaxseed has multiple benefits.  I researched several resources – WebMD, Cleveland Clinic, HealthLine, BetterMe, and Women’s Health to find that they all agree on the top benefits.  These are:

  • Omega 3 essential fatty acids:  These are the “good” fats that have been proven to improve heart health.
  • Prevent cancer:  Many recent studies show that flaxseed may have protective effects against certain cancer cells.  The plant omega 3 fatty acid found in flaxseed inhibited tumor growth in some studies.
  • Lignans:  These have both antioxidant and estrogen properties.
  • Helps prevent Cardiovascular disease:  The plant omega 3 fatty acids are at work again!  Flaxseed also has anti-inflammatory properties that aid in normalizing the heart beat.  Newer research shows that flaxseed also can aid in lowering blood pressure AND cholesterol.  There have also been studies showing that diets which include flaxseed omega 3’s aid in preventing the hardening of arteries!
  • Helps decrease inflammation:  Two components in flaxseed, ALA and lignans, may help reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses. 
  • Helps decrease hot flashes:  Many studies have proven that the addition of flaxseed decreases not only the occurrence of hot flashes, but also the severity.  I can attest to this personally.  I am post menopausal, but recently I felt “under siege” with hot flashes.  My personal research and discussions with dieticians and nutritional experts convinced me to add flaxseed into my daily diet.  It may take up to two weeks to feel the full result, but it definitely works!  Initially I added 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed into my protein coffee.  I’m now using flaxseed oil.  I have seen a definite decline in how often the hot flashes occur, as well as in how severe and how long they last.  I definitely recommend the use of flaxseed – if for no other reason than help with these!
  • Boosts immunity:  Flaxseeds are a great source of magnesium, which is a mineral essential for the proper function of our nervous system.  It also helps regulate our blood sugar levels, and can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and even migraine headaches.  If you’re experiencing any of the following, you may have a magnesium deficiency – diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, insomnia, and migraines.  Try adding in some flaxeed!
  • Promotes weight loss:  Due to the high fiber content of flaxseed, it can help improve your gut health and help you feel fuller when you eat.  This also helps prevent constipation and keep your digestive system working properly.

So, flaxseed sounds amazing, doesn’t it?!  Are you ready to add a little into your daily routine, but wondering how?  There are so, so many fabulous options!  Try adding either the ground flaxseed or flax oil in any or all of these options:

  • Protein shakes or smoothies
  • Sprinkled into yogurt
  • Sprinkled over a salad or into salad dressing
  • Baked into muffins or breads
  • Add it into soups or stews
  • Add into casseroles
  • Add into oatmeal
  • Mix into water and drink
  • Mix into coffee

Give flaxseed a try!  Just remember to use either the ground flaxseed or the oil rather than the whole seed.  No, flaxseed alone won’t change your life.  However, it will certainly aid in improving many areas of your health and in maximizing your efforts in cleaning up your nutrition!  Make sure you keep consistent workouts in the mix, and you are well on your way to your best self!

If you find that you want or need any additional help or support with your exercise or nutrition, I would love to help you!  Your health is definitely a wise investment – for your family as well as for yourself!