Category: Motivation

Clean Out the Junk

Clean Out the Junk

When it comes to discipline and willpower, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. For many of us, trouble starts at parties, or when one of our well-meaning co-workers brings in donuts or homemade cookies. This article is not about how to have more willpower during these trouble times. That is for another day. This article is about taking charge of something you have complete control over.

YOUR HOME

There is only one rule to follow. Just one.

RULE #1: You’ve Got To Clean The Junk Out Of The House:
This is easier said than done, and I usually get an earful from my clients: “I have kids in the house” Or, “I can just learn to have a small portion and still enjoy myself.” Or, “my husband has to have his bag/box of ________fill in the blank.”

You have a choice. You can keep that junk food around, or you can make some changes and get a different result. The truth is you can have a house free of junk food even with kids in the house. You are in control of your home. Kids will eat what is there, and if you have healthy stuff… they eat healthy stuff. Why would you want your kids eating crap anyway?

Ever since I got rid of all the junk, we have one night a week when we go get a special treat. The kids value that treat way more than the Popsicle they used to eat every day after school. When there is junk in the house, overeating becomes VERY EASY. Almost effortless. You need to make it a little harder on yourself.

Discipline is key, and like I said before, we all have it and we all exhibit a great deal of it, but life is already hard at times and requires courage and discipline every day. Why make it even harder on yourself by having junk food around, all the time, at your fingertips? So that is the WHY, but more importantly is the HOW.

Eating actually makes a very deep groove in your brain. Sometimes it can be almost like a “math equation,” and your brain goes on automatic drive to make 1+2=3. If you always have a cup of coffee with a cinnamon roll,  just the scent of coffee will most likely make you pick up a cinnamon roll.

You need to make different equations in your brain. This is the new you, the one who takes different actions to get a new result. This doesn’t mean that I’m asking you to get tasteless celery and suffer through. Not even close. That is NOT sustainable, and it is not realistic to choke down stuff you don’t like.

This means finding healthy alternatives for your home that you DO LIKE. Maybe it’s raspberries or bananas. Maybe it’s tomato sprinkled with fresh basil and a little olive oil and lemon. A few things I love:
1. 0%fat Greek yogurt with frozen fruit, cinnamon, and Kashi
2. Costco mango salsa with carrots (instead of chips)
3. Quinoa in my pot roast instead of potatoes
4. Low fat Swiss cheese
5. Broccoli steamed and sprinkled with a little fresh parmesan and fresh lemon.

I know there are things out there that you like, and new things that you will try and end up enjoying. Don’t just start eliminating the junk without making new purchases and substitutions. You need to make new associations, too. If you’re trying to quit coffee, then “quit” something else you use to eat with it. Make new connections in your brain, a new “1+2=3.”

Last thing: Get rid of the junk food NOW. Don’t eat it away, throw it away… today.

Big Props for the Park -6 Exercises Using a Park Bench

Big Props for the Park -6 Exercises Using a Park Bench

In honor of the start of fall, I want to give props to the park bench.
Here are a few ideas to get a great workout without having to go any farther than your neighborhood park:
1. Bench jumps
  • Start by squaring up your shoulders to the bench and slightly bending your knees.
  • With both legs, jump up onto the bench and try to land in the same position from which you started.
  • Jump back down to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  • Try to do three sets of 10 jumps to get started.

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2. Incline push-ups

  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the bench, and put your feet back into a plank position.
  • As you do a push-up, make sure to keep your back and neck in line with each other to prevent any strain on your neck.
  • Reverse your position for a more challenging option.

 

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3. Bulgarian split squats

  • Start by facing away from the bench.
  • Move your left foot back and lift it up onto the bench with your right foot still underneath you.
  • Slowly bend your right leg into a 90-degree angle. “Avoid bringing your knee over your toe and turning your hips,” said Kensie Noble, senior in kinesiology and president of Alliance for Health and Fitness Professionals Club.
  • Come back up to your starting position. That’s one rep. Try to finish two sets of 10 on each leg.

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4. Step-ups

  • Face the bench with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Put your right foot onto the bench.
  • As you come to the top, drive your left knee into your chest before stepping back down.
  • Do 10 reps on each leg for three rounds.

 

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5. Side Step-ups

  • Stand parallel to the bench
  • Using your inside leg, step up onto the bench and drive the opposite knee upward.
  • Do 10 step-ups on each leg for three rounds.

6. Tricep Dips

  • Sit on the bench and position your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the seat.
  • With your legs extended out in front of you, scoot your butt off the seat so that your hands are the only thing touching the bench.
  • While keeping your back straight and close to the bench, use your arms to slowly lower yourself until your elbows are around a 90-degree angle.
  • Press down into the bench to raise yourself back to the starting position.
  • That’s one rep. Try to complete two sets of 15.

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With all of these exercises, make sure that you are using good form to prevent injuries. Put some headphones in or grab a friend, and go enjoy the great outdoors.

Family Friendly Fit Tricks for Healthy Weight Management

Family Friendly Fit Tricks for Healthy Weight Management

fridge_pic-full[1]I love Google. I use it for almost everything, including health care, how to do whatever, recipes, shopping, and more. But Googling weight loss is like opening Pandora’s Box. There are way too many sites and supplements that are questionable at best, aimed at your pocket book rather than your waist line. Here are five family friendly fit tricks for healthy weight management.

1. Build a healthy home environment. It can be as simple as having a fruit bowl on the table, rather than a bin full of fruit tucked away at the bottom of the fridge. Keeping healthy food visible encourages kids (and adults) to grab and go when they are hungry and in a hurry. Keep cut up veggies, yogurt, or fruit salad front and center in the fridge. When a kid (or adults) opens the refrigerator to mindlessly search for snacks, the healthy option will catch their eye.

2. Purchase small portions and limited amounts of convenience food that is high in sugar and fat. Pre-portion any junky snacks in little ramekin cups, baggies, or mini cupcake liners, so there is no mindless eating from the bag of chips or cookie box. Store these items in the images[9]pantry on a higher shelf so they are less visible.

3. Make physical activity a routine, and make it fun. Take a walk or walk the dog after dinner to unwind. Get up during commercials while watching your favorite show and play catch with a Nerf ball, or strike up a game of balloon volleyball with your kids.

4. Eat meals around the table, at home as often as possible. Family meals offer kids a chance to see parents eating healthy. Show how to load the plate with a variety of vegetables and smaller portions of meat and carbs. Meat packs between 55-110 calories per ounce, so it’s easy to pack on the pounds when the portion shifts even a couple of ounces on a regular basis (especially as you age).

5. Praise yourself and your kids when you practice the skills and behaviors linked with healthy eating. Give high fives after those active commercial breaks. Notice when you and your kids have put in the effort to taste an unfamiliar food and choose healthy options over the junk.

 

Just a Little Bit of Something

Just a Little Bit of Something

 

When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing especially on those busy days. If you intended to get up early and exercise, but it didn’t happen, just be sure to do something before you go to bed that night. It will energize you mentally knowing that you did something even though your day was crazy. And of course it will energize you physically.

 

So exercise when you can throughout the day.  If you missed your morning workout and you know you won’t have time in the evening, fit in some type of exercise or movement every chance get. A few of my faves…

 

  1. Park as far away from the door as possible whether it be the mall, your office, the grocery store, or wherever you might be.
  2. Use your lunch break to go for a walk, climb up and down the stairs, or even do some calf raises or wall push-ups in the bathroom stall.  Get creative!
  3. If you set your mind around exercising when you can, you’ll find yourself doing butt squeezes in the grocery store and leg lifts when making dinner.

 

Exercising before bed is also a great time to fit in a mini-workout because bedtime tends to be routine. Don’t worry a little exercise before bed will NOT make it difficult to fall asleep. These exercises can be whatever you want them to be. 50 crunches while watching TV, 30 squats when brushing your teeth, 10 push-ups while swishing mouthwash. Don’t let a day go by without doing something. Even if it is just a little bit of something. 

 

 

Some type of exercise is ALWAYS better than nothing at all. 

 

10 Steps to a Better Mind Set

10 Steps to a Better Mind Set

I have a thing for top X lists. They are easy to read, and no matter what is on the list, there is always one thing that causes that light bulb moment. So I came across a list for how to be more confident, and it started me thinking about our state of mind.  Here is my list to encourage a positive state of mind every day.

1. Learn from the past (10 minutes ago, yesterday, last year, or even high school drama, etc.) regardless of the outcome; don’t beat yourself up about the things that didn’t turn out your way. It’s gone; it’s never coming back. Instead learn from it for next time. There are no failures, only feedback.

2. Be prepared. Prepared for what you might ask. Well every day is different, so be prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of the day. My husband is the poster child for preparedness, and he has taught me well, along with making me a little crazy along the way.  For example, when we are going to any get together—family, friends, business, whatever, he will run through the names of all the people that he knows will be there. Not just the new people, but everyone including the ones he has known for most of his life.  That may seem extreme, but being prepared doesn’t just mean you are ready to give a presentation at work or being prepared for a job interview, but for all the little things throughout the day.

3. Develop and play to your strengths. Know what you are good at and expose yourself to these opportunities at every opportunity – because you’re good at it, you’ll enjoy it and have more confidence.  If you’re not sure of your strength’s ask a friend or family member. They will usually be able to rattle off all sorts of things you are good at.

4. Develop your areas for improvement. Know and appreciate that you can’t be perfect at everything.   Put a plan in place to improve them over time. Especially as parents, there are always things we can improve on when it comes to our kids.  For me, I am working on being more patient, less of a control freak, more confident and social, and more organized.

5. Be in charge of your thoughts at all times. What is a thought? It’s just a question or idea that you’ve asked yourself. Some days it may be the only thing you have control of. If you’re thinking negative thoughts, you’re probably asking a negative question. Be aware of your thoughts…after all, you are the one thinking them.

6. Become a Rhinoceros.  Develop thick skin and don’t let the words of others affect you? Remember that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. It’s not what they say to you that’s the problem; it’s what you say to yourself after they have stopped talking that’s the problem. I read an article that said if someone calls you a clock; it probably wouldn’t affect you, because you know you are not a clock. The same holds true when people may try to label you as something you know that you are not.

7. At the end of each day list your achievements and successes throughout that day.  All too often we don’t give ourselves credit for what we’ve done.  I usually make a mental list of all the things I have done wrong… yelling at the kids, not being patient enough, not accomplishing everything I should have. While that may help me to recognize short comings and try harder tomorrow, it doesn’t allow for any appreciation of the things that I did well and did accomplish.

8. Improve your body language. The way that you move your body has a big impact on your mind set. Move your body assertively and walk with your head up, shoulders back as though you’ve got somewhere very important to go. Along with thoughts, some days, body language may be the only thing you feel like you can control.  But it really does work by almost tricking your mind to feel more powerful and in control.

9. Emotion is created by motion. Like point 17, make sure you move around consistently. This creates energy and gets the blood pumping around your body – it makes you feel better and more confident.

10. And finally – ask yourself in 10 years’ time will what I am worrying about really matter? This one can be easier said than done, because it may not matter in 10 years, but it matters right now. But often times by asking yourself the 10 year question, it can bring to light that what you are worrying about is more trivial than you first thought.

Why Do My Muscles Shake When I Exercise?

Why Do My Muscles Shake When I Exercise?

Muscles may make the body move, but it’s the connective tissue (the layer of fluid filled tissue between the skin and the muscles) that receives the signal from the brain to cause the movement. So does the brain really want the muscle to shake, or is part of the message lost in translation?

The shaking that occurs toward the end of an exercise or workout can be a signal from the brain that the muscle is exhausted. It has been worked hard enough, and it may be time to stop. The shaking can happen more often when the muscle is worked harder than normal or doing a new exercise .

It is also possible that the message from the brain gets a little garbled on its way through the connective tissue, due to other factors like level of hydration and electrolyte balance, and the timing of the muscle movement can get a little out of whack.

When the fibers in the muscle get the initial call to action, they contract to cause the correct movement (also called muscle firing).   But not all fibers are created equal—there are fast twitch and slow twitch muscles .  Like the names suggest, slow twitch muscles have a slow reaction time to contract, and are generally used for activities such as walking, maintaining posture, and most daily activities, and therefore they don’t tire out too quickly.  Whereas fast twitch muscles have a quick contraction time, and are used for short bursts of activity like sprinting, jumping, and lifting weights. They can tire out much faster.

Muscle fibers don’t all fire, or contract at the same time. Some fibers are resting while others work to make the muscle move, and then they trade off. As the muscle is challenged more and more, this changeover can get a little ragged, and there is not enough contracting going on to keep the muscle steady and moving smoothly. It begins to shake.  When the shaking begins, the muscle may be close to exhaustion so stopping is inevitable.  But recognize that the muscle has been pushed to its limits, and it might be time to back off.

No matter how hard the workout, be sure to hydrate. If the connective tissue, which is like bubble wrap and fiber optics all rolled into one, gets dehydrated, the message for the muscle to fire doesn’t get delivered, and the firing sequence can get confused, causing the muscle to shake.  To help counteract shaking due to dehydration, be sure and restore fluids while working out.

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