Archive for Author Kate

Why I talk about eating so damn much.

brownies

girlwith-chocolate

 

Confession:  I am a very reluctant eating habit/nutrition coach.

 

I really don’t naturally love the topic of nutrition—it doesn’t get me fired up, and it took me a really long time to accept the role of nutrition in my personal fitness.

 

Like, a LONG time.

 

 

I was a very stubborn horse that had to be dragged to the water, and had to be dying of thirst before I would drink.

 

But, at a certain point (and I remember that pivotal moment—it’s what I call my ‘tiramisu epiphany,’ and you can read about it here: The Tiramisu Epiphany), I realized that I could not make any weight loss/fat loss progress without making some dietary changes.

 

 

That doesn’t mean it happened overnight!

 

 

My ‘tiramisu epiphany’ was in March of 2006.  Which means that my personal journey to eating better and in a sustainable way (that causes me little life stress, but still gives me the health and results I desire) started over 10 years ago.

 

 

Did it take some time? 

Sure! 

Was the time it took worth it?

ABSOLUTELY.

 

 

There was no major diet overhaul; I simply surrendered the illusion that I could ‘work off what I ate’ and started to pay more attention to what, when, how, and how much I was eating a little bit more. 

 

I made the changes I could tolerate slowly, and began a process of self-education that definitely accelerated once I started working with a personal trainer who provided me with better resources with which to help myself.

 

So I honestly don’t LOVE the subject of nutrition like some people do (which is why they are diet experts with all those credentials behind their names!), but I understand how necessary balanced nutrition is, and the giant role it plays in how we feel, the energy we have, and in weight loss, fat loss, and overall athletic performance.

 

I don’t love nutrition, BUT I do love my clients. 

 

 

And I love to help others have less stress, more fitness success, and more confidence and independence in their own lives, so talking about nutrition, eating habits, and eating strategies has become a ‘necessary evil’ of sorts.

 

 

It’s important for me to share what I’ve learned, through formal education as well as professional experience and personal practice, because it just might help a client, friend or reader like you to shorten the ‘eating habit learning curve. ‘

 

 

Sharing this information might just help you or someone you know to stop depending on the next diet for the solution—from engaging in stressful, restrictive, all-or-nothing approaches, and to make the needed small changes in daily practices that will yield the results we’re looking for.

 

 

And that’s HUGE in my book.

 

 

After I surrendered the illusion that I could ‘outrun my fork,’ so to speak, I also had to learn and come to terms with the fact that my eating habits/patterns were shaped by:  a) the messages I told myself, b) unconscious tendencies, c) compulsive behaviors, d) the urge to self-soothe.

 

 

 

Funny that NONE of those things has anything to do with macros or calories, right?

 

 

The biggest realization I’ve had about the subject of nutrition is this:  Lasting results only come from conscious eating habit change, which can only happen when we first change how we THINK.

 

So really, when we talk about eating habits, we’re really talking about thinking habits—our thought patterns and beliefs, aka: our mindset.

 

I talk so damn much about eating because I loathe people getting all hung up on the idea of the ‘perfect diet’ or that they NEED to go on another kind of diet, or, conversely the belief that they’re helpless in creating lasting change in their own lives, that they’re powerless over how they eat.

 

 

Why do I loathe diets

Because diets breed helplessness and take away from ownership of our behaviors. 

 

 

 

They put the solution outside of ourselves, in someone else’s hands, when the real solution can only be found by doing the ‘inside job’ of changing how we think so we can change how we act.

 

So when I talk about eating, I’m really talking about thinking—about our attitudes about food, helpful or unhelpful beliefs about our selves. 

I’m talking about improving awareness of our self-talk (e.g.:  I always, I never, I just can’t help myself, nothing works for me, I’m just an ‘X’ addict, I’m a stress-eater, I’m an emotional eater—any of these sound familiar to you??), so that we can change our truth, and therefore make it possible to choose differently and make more progress with our nutrition.

 

 

I talk about awareness and attitudes because they create the possibility for ownership—taking full responsibility for all our own food choices, the chance to be ‘the captain of our own ship.’

 

 

Yes, we all come to the table, so to speak, with a certain set of genetics, a certain family food history, and whatever adult eating patterns we’ve developed so far.

 

But these pieces of the puzzle don’t dictate our future—only our consistent choices do that.  Only our consistent CHOICES.  We are in charge of our choices, especially when we take the time and make the effort to become aware of our self-talk, food history and current patterns of behavior.

 

 

IMG_5334

 

 

In the end, I talk about eating so damn much because it has such a huge impact on our lives, and I talk about mindset and mindfulness around eating because this is what dictates our relative success or limitations.

As Mahatma Gandhi said,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.” 

 

 

When we are mindful, we are fully in charge of our choices; we can choose to change our minds about ourselves and food, and that’s when we can REALLY start changing and making those lasting, impactful nutrition choices.

 

 

IMG_4891

 

 

xo,

Kate

TTT: UNround those Shoulders!

TrainerTipTuesday2

Trainer Tip Tuesday: Tips for Un-Rounding Those Shoulders

 IMG_5985

For me, in both my personal and professional experience, posture is a combination of elements: genetics/anatomy, areas of relative muscle tightness, areas of relative muscle weakness, and a whole ‘lotta habitual sitting/standing/moving patterns.

 

 

When these things get added up over the years, the result is often some kind of uncomfortable or unhelpful posture.

 

 

The way I go about addressing posture issues, both personally and professionally, is therefore focused in these three areas:

 

 

  • stretching chronically tight areas that contribute to postural discomfort issues, strengthening weaker areas that contribute to postural improvements,
  • and putting a TON of emphasis on paying attention to and actively improving on existing postural habits.

 

 

 

Stretch.

Strengthen.

Mindful Posture and Movement Work.

 

 

 

First, Let’s Talk Stretching/Mobilizing

Areas that tend to be tight, especially in the women I work with, are: the front of the shoulder/chest area and the upper traps (area just under the neck).

 

 

 

We tend to hold much of our tension in our upper backs and this often causes a ‘turtle-like’ neck shrinking posture where the shoulders creep up towards the ears.

 

 

Add in chronic forward-facing, forward-reaching activities (e.g.: desk jobs, driving, time on computers and other devices, holding kids, nursing babies) and you get a tighter, forward head, shoulder-rounded posture over time.   And if you were a girl who developed breasts early or have had large breasts much of your life, then it’s pretty likely you’ve developed a forward-shoulder posture as a means of downplaying their size/avoiding unwanted attention. That’s tough!

 

 

 

So to first deal with these common tightnesses and postural tendencies, we can do the following stretches and mobility drills to get relief—over time, and with consistent practice, of course!

 

 

 

Stretch:

Doorway Stretch

 

Arms behind the back stretch

 

SFG Neck Mobility Series

 

GS Mobility Series*

 

Chin Tuck

 

Supine Overhead Reaches

 

Wall Slides, Floor Slides

 

Table ‘L’ Stretches

 

Extended Arm Doorway ‘hang’ stretches

 

Dislocates

 

Thoracic Twists

 

Thoracic Bridges

 

Downward Facing Dog (plus plank dynamic movement)

 

 

Next, let’s work on getting stronger in the places that will help the most!

Areas that tend to be weaker and not get the time and TLC they deserve are: the muscles in the backs of our necks, the muscles that control and guide the shoulder blades, the muscles we sit on much of the time, all of the trunk muscles (not just those 6-pack muscles, lol), and the paraspinal muscles.

 

 

 

When we spend so much time in forward-facing work postures, we need to spend extra time working on all of those ‘back half of the body’ muscles (aka: your posterior chain).

 

 

 

To do this effectively, we need to work on strengthening our middle and low traps, scapular stabilizers, all of our trunk (aka: core) muscles, our glutes and our spinal erectors and stabilizers.

 

 

 

Exercises we can do regularly—both at home AND in the gym—to help ourselves out are:

 

Strengthen:

Scapular Packing

 

Side Planks

 

Bird Dogs

 

Rowing: seated band, one arm, TRX, ring rows

 

Band Pull-Aparts

 

‘Cheerleaders’

 

Kettlebell swings

 

Kettlebell Deadlifts

 

Farmer’s Carries

 

Half Kneeling presses, band chops

 

Half-Kneeling Pallof Presses

 

Scapular pull-ups

 

Turkish Get Ups

 

Kettlebell Arm Bars

 

Hollow Holds (ground, bar)

 

 

 

 

And then comes the element that will make the MOST difference for us: Mindful Posture Practice.

 

 

 

The good news? You can do this ALL the time, no matter where you are, how old or young you are, or how fit or out-of-shape you might be.

 

 

 

The bad news? It’ll take lots of mental and physical effort for a while until these postures normalize (aka: become a new habit and feel like your ‘new normal’).

 

 

 

The other good news? You’ll immediately look taller, more confident, and potentially slimmer. You’ll feel better AND you’ll get better (and more pain-free) results in the gym, too.

 

 

 

So the time and effort you put into changing you sitting, standing, and moveing posture will be well worth it because the payoffs are both huge and lasting.

 

 

 

Mindful Posture Practice Tips: Think about…

 

  • Stacking ribs over pelvis “Make the Canister”

 

  • Bracing abs

 

  • Squeezing the glutes

 

  • Keeping the chin back and the next long

 

  • Pulling the shoulders out of the ears

 

  • ‘Packing’ the shoulder blades—pulling them down and in

 

 

 

 

 

Even if you’ve had some posture issues most of your adult life, it doesn’t mean you can’t make improvements that make a big and lasting difference in how you look, move and feel each day.

 

 

 

All that you need to do is make sure that you stretch what needs to be stretched, double-down on strengthening the muscles that will help you most, and stay mindful/pay attention to your head, shoulder and spinal positions until better posture becomes your ‘new normal.’

 

 

 

If I can do it, so can you! Take heart, believe in what’s possible, and get busy doing the work on the regular—the results will come.

What do you do when you F— it all up?

 What do you do when you F- it all up?

 IMG_0491

You had the best of intentions. 

You were off to a great start.

You’d made so much progress.

You’d gotten so much stronger.

The workouts were easier.

The pants fit better.

Things were really starting to fall into place…and then.

And then something knocked you off-course or for a loop.
A vacation.
An illness in the family.
A super stressful event or period of time.
And then…you find yourself struggling again, feeling like a failure, feeling shame you ‘couldn’t hack it,’  that you let yourself down, or family or friends down….
It happens!!
To even the best of us.  From time to time, we all struggle.
Some life event impacts our routine, disrupts our ‘normal,’ causes resistance, or throws us back into old coping mechanisms.
Sometimes this means we stop working out—or working out as much.  Sometimes this means we stray too far and too long from our better, more healthful eating patterns.  Sometimes this means we burn the candle at both ends, leaving ourselves a fried mess unable to cope—or using unhealthy or unhelpful coping mechanisms.
  And we feel bad—because we KNOW better, right?!?
Again—it happens.  What matters more, what matters the MOST, really, is what we do next.
So we F’d it up again.  Well, done is done.  We can either wallow in it, tell ourselves how weak and pathetic and stupid we are, thinking that berating ourselves will lead us to ‘behaving’ again, or….Or.
Or we can do a few of these things:
1.  Acknowledge our F-Up. 
Name it, own it, then leave it behind us.  Done is done, and no good comes from beating the proverbial dead horse; clinging to our ‘failings’ actually prevents us from growing and changing.  Move on!
 IMG_9533
2.  Look for the Lesson.
As much as we might hate it, there’s always a lesson in those hard moments and times, or an opportunity for personal growth.I’ve learned over time, through dealing with and recovering from numerous injuries and health issues over the years, that there’s always something that can be learned out of an illness or injury.
Sometimes that means learning to literally DO things differently—in the gym or at home.It can mean learning how much eating well impacts how we feel or makes or breaks our health.
Sometimes it means reevaluating our lifestyle, and cutting out the things that really aren’t working FOR us, even if those changes are unpopular.
Sometimes it means checking our ego at the door—either the ego that’s prompting us to do things that aren’t good for our bodies because we think we can or should or have something to prove, or the ego that screams at us: “I want what I want and I want it right NOW and I deserve it right NOW,” like an angry toddler would.
Whatever knocked you off-track, hung you up, derailed your efforts, or sidelined you (temporarily), there IS a lesson in there.
Look for it, ask the hard questions:
  • What did I do to get myself here?
  • What do I need to do to get myself OUT of here?
  • And what can I do to avoid doing this again??
3.  Take action—NOW.
It doesn’t have to be huge or perfect, it just needs to be action.
  • Start by eating a veggie at your next meal or snack.
  • Get up and go for a walk.
  • Do a few squats or push ups.
  • Read an article or book that helps you ‘grit it up’ a bit more.
  • Listen to a podcast that inspires you.
  • Call someone who supports you (not an enabler, but someone who loves you and will help you take the next step forward).

mobilecallsmiling

DO NOT TEXT OR EMAIL OR SEND ANY KIND OF ELECTRONIC MESSAGE—CALL THEM.  You know, in real time, just like the good ole days 😉
4.  Use the Lesson(s) to make a new plan. 
  • What did you learn from this experience? 
  • Where did you ‘fall down’ or where did things go sideways on you?
  • What can you do to be derailed LESS by this same kind of situation, should it happen again?
  • What can you do to avoid the same, or a similar, pitfall?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What kind of planning do you need to do?
  • And how are you going to go forward, from right where you’re at, right now?
5.  Just get moving.  Keep moving.  Find a mantra or create a mantra, and put that puppy all over the place.
Mantras can add to our grit, shore up our commitment to a goal or project–even when it’s not going well; mantras can help refocus us when we feel like we’re on the ropes. They can create positive energy, and keep us focused on moving forwards and doing our best.
IMG_0361
And if you don’t have one yet, maybe finding a short, meaningful and memorable saying is just the thing you need to help keep you motivated, focused and positive!
As Mahatma Gandhi said,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
And remember this, above all else:
“Failure is not in the falling down, but the staying down.”
~ Unknown
If you’re not sure where to start, your fitness or nutrition have been lagging, let’s chat!
We can get on the phone, or email or FaceTime or Skype, etc, and start working out a plan to get you heading in a better direction again.  20 minute ‘Recharge’ chats are totally complementary 🙂
You can reach me at kate@reallifefitbykate.com
And if you’ve fallen off the workout ‘horse,’ try climbing back on with this simple ladder workout you can do pretty much anywhere!  https://youtu.be/BZF91zEUBZU
Keep your head up and keep moving forward!
Kate

 

The Tiramisu Epiphany

My Tiramisu Epiphany…and how it changed how I thought about eating.

 

It’s funny the moments that stick with us.

Those little snapshots in time where we can recall so clearly where we where, what we were wearing, who we were with, what we were doing, what we were thinking…especially when we also spend a fair amount of our lives wandering up and down the aisles of the grocery store, trying to remember that one item we were supposed to get.

(It recently took me 5 separate trips to the commissary to remember to get cinnamon. True story.)

 

 

My tiramisu epiphany was one of those moments.

 

 

It was the first of March 2006, and I’d made my husband the birthday dinner and dessert he requested (it’s a tradition in our family), and we’d just finished a peaceful dinner together, as our 9 month-old was already in bed.

 

 

It was time for dessert—a tiramisu recipe I’d found in a University of Washington Husky Alum cookbook. By the way, this recipe is to die for…and sure to elevate your blood alcohol level. Go Huskies, lol!

 

 

About mid-way through dessert, I noticed the meal planner lying on the couch next to me that had come from The Firm’s kit I’d purchased back in November. I’d flipped through it recently, but was really less than thrilled about their diet recommendations—dessert was a granny smith apple, definitely a far sight from tiramisu!

 

 

holdingapple

 

Seeing the meal planner made my mind leapfrog to earlier in the day when I’d weighed myself, a little disappointed to find I’d only lost a pound since New Years, despite the fact that I’d been doing The Firm videos religiously and my stamina had improved dramatically. It also made me realize my pants weren’t fitting any better than they had been—I still felt ‘thick’ around the middle.

 

 

And it hit me like a ton of bricks: I just couldn’t exercise off my eating any longer.

 

 

In my 20’s, it was relatively easy to just exercise more to make up for eating indulgently. I wouldn’t lose weight without changing what I ate, but I could at least keep kind of an even keel (although, hindsight being 20/20, I doubt I was ever on an even keel).

 

 

After I turned 30 and had my first baby, all in the same year, this was no longer possible—it just took me 9 + months to realize it.

 

 

Why am I telling you this story?

 

Two reasons: 1. To illustrate that many of us have those pivotal moments/moments of clarity or epiphanies, and 2. I had ZERO idea what to do next to help myself. ZERO—because the way I cooked and ate tasted good, but I had NO intention of trying The Firm’s diet plan (again—a granny smith apple for dessert?!?).

 

 

It took me another 8 months and the help of a personal trainer and her food journal to even get half a clue about where to start. And it’s taken me another nearly 10 years to get to the reasonable and sustainable way of eating I practice today.

 

 

Man, how awesome would it have been to have a few tips, tricks and shortcuts instead of having to go through years of trial and error and self-education to figure things out!!

 

 

But the gorgeous thing about that story and my process is that I get to share what I’ve learned with you, and maybe cut your learning curve down a bit, getting you on a path of sustainable, reasonable eating habits sooner rather than later.

 

 

Which leads me back to the food journal.

 

 

While exercise will make your fitter—and happier, I’d argue—improved nutrition and healthier eating habits is the only way to truly lose weight, lose body fat and inches, and just plain feel and perform better all around.

 

 

We just can’t out-exercise a poor, or unhelpful diet.

 

 

Knowing where to start, though, is different than knowing you need to start, and that’s where the food journal comes in!

 

(Don’t have a good one?  Get one sent straight to your inbox with this link:  Real Life Fit by Kate Food Journal )

 

girlcoffeeconferencecall

 

Once you’ve completed a few days of full, honest food tracking in your journal, you have data with which to start making choices and changes. Specifically, you have solid information about all of the following, influential diet factors:

 

  • The time(s) of day you tend to eat most often
  • Length of time between ‘feedings’
  • Typical foods you eat/foods you eat the most of
  • Foods you eat the least of
  • Kinds of beverages you drink, and how often
  • How your emotional state affects your food choices
  • How your environment affects your food choices

 

These are all REALLY important pieces in our eating habits puzzle, and all relatively easy to identify and understand when they’re in black and white on the paper in front of us. It’s like we get a little peek into the way our minds and bodies work—super cool.

 

 

But what’s best about all this information is that it puts us back into the driver’s seat—it gives us a place from which to start making the most meaningful and helpful changes.

 

 

So when you look at your food journal, what patterns leap out at you?

  • Are there times of day where you don’t eat at all, or that you tend to eat large amounts of food?
  • Do you go for hours and hours between ‘feedings,’ or are you grazing throughout the day?
  • What foods are you eating the most?
  • Are you drinking lots of sugary or high-calorie drinks?
  • How much water are you drinking?
  • Do you tend to eat more when your emotions are amplified in some way (angry, sad, stressed)?
  • Do you eat at your desk, in front of the TV, while driving, while standing in your kitchen, while wandering around somewhere?
  • Do you eat at home more or out at restaurants? What kind(s) of restaurants?

 

 

All of these simple, but important factors—our scientific ‘data,’ give us some insight into what our current patterns REALLY are, versus the impression we might have had of how, when, what and how much we’re really consuming on an average day.

 

 

That insight, in turn, gives us a starting point for making reasonable, personally meaningful and impactful changes—ONE at a time.

 

 

So if you haven’t been ready to use a food journal until now, maybe this perspective on how it can be a hugely helpful tool for positive change will give you the nudge you needed to get started.

 

And if you’ve already started your food journaling efforts, I hope this gives your food journal evaluation a little more focus!

 

 

If you have any questions at all, or need a little more guidance, shoot me an email! I’d love to chat with you—either through email OR on the phone for a 20-minute coaching session 🙂

 

If you’re wanting/needing more support, we talk nutrition, eating habits, and helpful mindsets all the time in my Real Life Fit, Healthy and Happy Facebook group.  Click here to check it out ==>  Real Life Fit, Healthy and Happy

 

IMG_6850

 

4 Reasons you NEED to work out (that have nothing to do with weight loss)

ellipticals

 

Confession:  I really hate the whole ‘exercising to lose weight’ thing.  It’s, well, kind of boring.  And it’s also not long-term inspiring.

 

 

I get it, though—in the beginning the vast majority of us (who weren’t athletes in our youth) probably started exercising, aka: ‘working out,’ to lose weight.  I know I did!

 

 

 

When I first started working out and lifting weights with a structured plan in a for-real gym, it was between the my junior and senior years in college.  I wanted to look more like the other girls I knew, to be more slim and ‘toned.’  That was it.  That was my big motivation to exercise—just to be, well, skinnier.

 

 

 

 

To my surprise, a magic thing happened in the first 3 months of following this structured plan—I fell in love with the process.  Or, more accurately, I fell in love with lifting weights and more in love with running.  The time spent on cardio machines trying to ‘burn off the fat’ I could have done without (literally, it turns out—but that’s another story).

 

 

 

 

Since then, I’ve been up and down the scale a few times, been on dedicated plans and gone through phases where I’ve been completely off-plan, but for the past 10 years, I’ve been dead consistent.

 

 

IMG_0681

 

Yes, weight loss was often initially a motivating factor, but it’s not what’s brought me back to the gym, or gotten me out on the road, or busting out my loop bands at home week after week.

 

 

 

What’s kept me moving consistently through lifestyle changes, pregnancies, illnesses, surgeries and other adversities are the following 4 reasons.  These reasons are also why I’m wholeheartedly dedicated to getting other people just like you to start exercising, exercise more regularly, and keep exercising for life.

 

 

 

  1.  Exercising just plain makes us feel better.

 

 

 

I’m sure you’ve seen a tank, t-shirt or meme somewhere at one point that said, “You’re just one workout away from a good mood.”  Well, it’s not just some gym addict’s cute little slogan—it’s actually, physically true.

 

 

 

Exercise—physical movement in general—does put us in a better mood.  Our bodies are hard-wired to move, from the most primitive parts of our brains.   It started out as a survival mechanism, because we needed to find or hunt food to survive, so our brains were wired to create biochemical systems by which we could get food more easily.  Meaning, our brains were wired to give our bodies what they need to move, chemically and hormonally, so that the body could get the fuel the brain needed to survive.

 

 

What this means for us now:  our brains have created system by which we feel better and have ‘happy’ chemicals and hormones released when we move and exercise.

 

 

img_2853

 

Just this one benefit alone has kept me working out consistently—even, and especially, on the days I DIDN’T feel like working out AT ALL.  I know I will feel better afterwards, so it’s always worth putting in the 10 to 60 minutes of effort that day.

 

 

 

Like today.  I didn’t really want to workout.   Having a glass of wine and kicking up my feet sounded way better!  BUT I knew I would feel better afterwards…so I worked out.  Then I felt better—not like ‘over-the-moon’ estatic, but in a calmer, happier state of mind.

 

 

 

Those workout efforts don’t need to be intense to work for us:  it can be as simple as taking a walk outdoors for 5-10 minutes, or getting down on the floor and doing some planking, or glute bridging for 5-10 minutes.  Even the shorter workouts give us those ‘feel better’ benefits.

 

 

 

We just have to move a bit to get that ‘feel better’ side effect.

 

 

 

2. Exercise increases brain activity and improves academic performance.

 

 

 

Thank you, evolution!  Because of the way our brains are wired, after we’ve exercised, our thinking abilities become enhanced.  Due to the chemicals released in the brain and the effects on the learning and memory centers of the brain, we are primed to be able to think more clearly, creatively and quickly after exercising.

 

 

 

I know after I’ve worked out—especially after workouts that combined something that elevated my heart rate and required some skill to do (movements where I had to concentrate on balance or direction)—I feel my ‘smartest,’ and solving problems, writing programs, and communicating with others just ‘flows.’

 

 

girlcoffeeconferencecall

 

Other times, when I haven’t moved for much of the day, thinking through a complex idea, or understanding what I’m reading, or even giving my kids good reasons why they should or shouldn’t be doing something just feels HARD.  It’s like having cotton in my brain.

 

But if I move a little—take the dog for a walk, or crank out a few squats or push ups or lunges, the mental fog lifts and I’m able to get things done way more easily.

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t love being able to do more in less time with less mental struggle?

 

 

 

3.  Exercise helps us manage our stress (and minimize distress).

 

 

 

To build muscle, we have to stress it—in a reasonable amount.  This then promotes a repairing response by the body, where the muscle tissue  is rebuilt to be stronger when allowed adequate time to recover without more stress.  Too much stress, and we create sprains and strains.  Too little stress, no muscle growth.

 

 

 

Same with our brains and our neural plasticity!  With regular, but appropriate stress—the kind we apply to our bodies through exercise,  we condition our brain and nervous system to handle stress better and to recover better from episodes of stress.  Over time, we also improve our threshold for stress, too—it takes more stress to provoke a stress reaction, and our bodies learn how to recover more quickly instead of staying in that stressed condition.

 

 

 

“The great thing about exercise is that it fires up the recovery process in our muscles and neurons.  It leaves our bodies and minds stronger and more resilient, better able to handle future challenges, to think on our feet and adapt more easily.”

 

 

John H. Ratey, Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the mind

 

stepper

 

Bottom line:  regular exercise improves our ability to deal with stress and raises our stress threshold (it takes more to stress us out than it used to!).

 

 

4.  Exercising adds to our ‘I can do this’-ness

 

 

 

Let’s face it, life is full of things we can’t change, that we wish were different, and we can often feel blown about by life’s circumstances.  And while we may not have control over what happens at work, or in our family, or amongst our friends, or where the army moves us, we can control one thing:  our choices.

 

 

 

When we choose to exercise, especially consistently, we choose to help ourselves feel better, think better and manage stress better.  We prove to ourselves, one choice at a time, one workout at a time, that we can do this.

 

 

 

Through consistently choosing to move our bodies, to do our PT/rehabilitative exercises, or go for runs, or show up to class, or go lift some weights, or take a walk, or get down on the floor and do some ab and glute work, we choose to take a little control over our own destiny—to influence the outcome a bit in our own favor.

 

 

 

When we keep ‘showing up and doing the work’ day after day, week after week, we prove something to ourselves; we prove that we can do this.  We prove that we have the ability to withstand, to overcome, to get better ‘in spite of’ our circumstances.  The more we choose to get up and move (even when we really don’t feel like it!), the more we prove that we are strong, resilient, capable people who choose to do good things for ourselves and grow in our strengths and abilities instead of shrink in the face of challenge.

 

 

“The more we do, the more we CAN do.”

 

 

 

We just have to get started DOING!

 

outdoor-workout-weds-pic

 

 

If you’re in need of a little extra ‘nudge’ to get moving consistently, want more real-life-doable and effective workout ideas, and are looking for a supportive community to help get you on track and keep you there, check out the Elevate with Kate FB community!

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/elevatewithkate/

 

 

“Get Strong, Be Strong, Stay Strong.”

 

 

Our Mission: To create a supportive community of women who raise each other up as we actively pursue becoming our best selves, both in and out of the gym.

 

 

We are a community of women who strive to better our health, as well as our physical and mental fitness, with the goal of living fulfilling and satisfying lives.

 

Come check it out!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/elevatewithkate/

#beyourbestyou

 

Why adding MORE gets you results.

IMG_2101

So you got off-track.

 

Your best intentions for getting or staying on a regular exercise schedule didn’t pan out.

 

Maybe your ‘I’m going to start eating better’ plan didn’t come to fruition.

 

And you might be feeling a little disappointed, maybe a little lethargic, maybe a lot unmotivated.

 

What do you do now?  

 

Go on some crazy, extreme ‘quick fix’ to get yourself ‘right’ again? Throw out the baby with the bathwater in the process, while you throw yourself headlong into a massive diet-and-exercise overhaul…only to have it all backslide after 3 weeks of ‘being good’ and ‘on-plan’?

 

Or….

 

Or maybe you start over, TODAY, with just ONE small change that’s pointing you in a healthier, happier direction.

 

One small improvement you can make each day: a ‘plus ONE’ approach.

 

Now, making one small change might sound, well, kind of insignificant, or maybe even a little wimpy. It’s not the grand, brag-worthy, intense, restrictive, grueling ‘fix’ that you can tell everyone you’re toughing it out through.

 

Then again, how long would that grueling, Herculean effort actually last? In my personal and professional experience, about 3 weeks. Sometimes 4, but that’s pretty generous. And it inevitably leads back to square one, in a hurry, with the extra mental baggage of having ‘failed’ once again.

 

So instead of trying to ‘right the ship’ all in one fell swoop, maybe using a more reasonable, realistic and just plain long-term effective approach, like the Plus ONE approach, is a better way to go right now!

 

Here’s the deal:
** +1 is always greater than zero
**  +’everything all at once’ can only be a painful sprint effort at best (meaning it can only last a short time)

 

 

But Plus ONE? Plus 1 is do-able. It’s a small win, a consistent measureable sign of doing better that we can handle, that we can stick with, that we can feel proud of.

 

So what does this Plus 1 approach look like in real life?

 

 

It might depend on what your biggest challenges are currently, or what’s the easiest thing for you to tackle right away—because taking action is key to making this kind of approach work. It might be something that you are super confident you can do consistently right now.

 

Possibilities, based on the challenges I regularly hear my clients and readers face, could include:

 

  • drinking one more glass of water each day
  • changing their after-dinner snack
  • adding in just one more serving of veggies each day
  • adding in just 10 minutes of movement to each day
  • adding in one strength training workout per week
  • adding a short walk to the after-dinner ritual
  • adding one serving of protein to breakfast (or lunch, or dinner…)

 

skewers

 

Notice it’s ALL about ADDING 1 thing IN, as opposed to taking things out, excluding or restricting or avoiding.

 

 

It’s about making workable additions and ‘crowding out’ old behaviors with new ones—because our brains aren’t wired to ditch old patterns of behavior (kind of inconvenient, I know), but they ARE wired to learn new patterns of behavior, and when these patterns are repeated many times over time, they become the ‘new normal.’

 

 

That’s why consistency is such a big deal—and engaging in small, easily repeatable behaviors is so much more effective in creating the habits we want to have so that we can lead the kind of life we desire to lead.

 

 

It’s like what Tony Robbins says, “In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”

 

 

Extremes, by nature aren’t sustainable. Plus 1? Those we can do every day.

 

And when the first Plus 1 becomes normal—just a regular part of daily real life, then you get to Plus 1 another thing. By ‘plussing up’ regularly and consistently, you will effect massive change over time—on your mind, your body and your life.

 

Give the Plus 1 approach a shot TODAY!

 

Remember to think about ONE thing that either challenges you the most right now, or is the easiest to act on right now, or one positive change you are super confident you can do and stick with right NOW.

 

Maybe one of the suggestions above can be a great place for you to start! Whatever it is, take action—don’t wait or hesitate. Because it’s what we DO consistently that shapes our lives.

 

What are you waiting for? 🙂

 

 

To help you get even more consistent with healthier, more helpful choices, I’ve created the FREE Back to YOU Boot Camp 7-Day Challenge.

 

Now that the kids are back to school, vacations and summer holidays are behind us, it’s time to get back to focusing on YOU.

 

Back to YOU 2

 

Get back into the swing of things and start building back up those consistent exercise and healthier eating habits with the FREE 7-day “Back to You Boot Camp” challenge!

 

What it is:

 

The FREE Back to You Boot Camp Challenge is a 7-day workout and healthier eating ‘reset’ challenge, designed to help you get back to working out more consistently, eating a little better, and feeling like your best you all over again.

Through 7 days of 30-minute or less workouts, daily nutrition mini-challenges, and motivation-boosters, we’ll create ‘inertia-based motivation’ that will keep you moving long after the 7 days are over—because bodies in motion tend to stay in motion (just ask Einstein).

 

 

Head on over to the official B2YBC page by clicking the link here to get all the details and get signed up! The challenge starts September 6, so you have plenty of time to commit yourself and get ready to rock out 7 days of consistent workouts and fun daily nutrition mini-challenges.

 

It’s FREE, fun, and full of support from both me and a whole community of positive, dynamic women!

IMG_2294

 

But don’t wait too long to sign up!!

 

Registration closes TONIGHT at midnight!!

 

Keep ‘plussing up’ and I’ll talk to you soon 🙂

 

Kate

One tool to feel better in your own skin right NOW.

Love what you’ve got.

 

 

Some women showcase their legs, or cleavage, or glutes; I showcase my back and shoulders!

IMG_1304

Traveling in Europe always gives me perspective on the concepts of what’s beautiful, what’s desireable, what’s ‘normal.’

 

 

When I was 14 years younger, newly married and living in Germany the first time, I would drive myself crazy comparing myself to other women, and always come up short and feeling ‘less than.’

 

 

But at a certain point, I actively chose to see my strengths not just my ‘flaws,’ to appreciate my own human vehicle while also appreciating other people’s.

 

 

It is possible to see other people’s strengths and beauty and appreciate them without it taking away from our own.

 

 

We can say, “she’s gorgeous” without it meaning we’re not, and we can say that we’re gorgeous without it meaning that someone else isn’t or is less so…it just took me 38ish years to internalize that lesson 🙂

 

 

Work what you’ve got, love what you’ve got, don’t worry about what you don’t.

 

 

Ditch the comparison trap and just be YOUR best you every day.

 

 

Life’s way more peaceful this way ❤️

 

#astrongmindinastrongbody
#thisis40something

Your body is not your opponent; it’s your partner for life

Your body is not your enemy nor your opponent. It is your partner for life.

 

If you’ve been struggling with your body–your weight, your musculature, your shape, your size, your speed, your strength, your endurance, your appearance–it’s likely that you’ve adopted a position or attitude of being at war with your body.

 

You might feel like it’s resisting you, or holding you back, or even betraying you.

“If you knew who you truly were, you would be in awe.”
~Dr. Libby Weaver, Ph.D.

 

This quote comes from a TED talk by Dr. Libby Weaver, whose Ph. D. is in Nutritional Biochemistry, was describing how the body looks when it’s mapped out by it’s systems and biochemicals.

 

When we’re trying to lose weight, or get fitter, or lift heavier, or run faster, or just plain feel better and it’s just plain hard, or the results aren’t showing up the way we want them to, it can be discouraging and frustrating.

 

It’s easy to get a little fixated on how our bodies aren’t ‘right’ yet, or doing what they’re ‘supposed’ to be doing–and to forget how amazing our human bodies really are.

 

“When you the human body mapped out, you see the absolute miracle that we are,” she says. “Miraculous.”

 

Last week, I tweaked my back doing something light and simple in the gym.  It scared the bejeebers out of me–mostly because I couldn’t sit, stand or bend over normally for three days.

 

Moments like that remind me how amazing our bodies really are–and how our bodies shouldn’t be taken for granted.

 

The week before, I was complaining that my endurance wasn’t up to par, that I couldn’t lift as much lately, that I couldn’t keep up with the other people in class.  They were getting stronger, and I was ‘stalling out.’

 

Then, when just moving around the house became challenging, I realized I needed to focus more on taking care of the amazing vehicle I travel this life inside of instead of getting upset because it wasn’t ‘behaving the way I thought she* should.’  *(I call my body a she, not an it, because we’re partners in life, and she deserves respect.)

 

I had to be reminded not to take my body for granted, or resent her in any way, but to care for it better, to appreciate the health and mobility I have, and to just give my amazing body more rest so it could feel better and repair better, because she and I are going to be partners for a long time.  And we have alot of cool stuff left to do!

 

Dimel DL 29 July americanswings

 

 

What would happen if, instead of feeling like your body is the opponent to be conquered or subdued, you looked at it as your partner for life?

 

  • How would that change your the way you eat?
  • How would that change the way you move, or exercise?
  • How would that change the way you perceived your body?
  • Would you be more grateful, more gentle with yourself?
  • Would you be more likely to care for, rather than punish or abuse, your body?
  • Would your motivation to take better care of your body improve?

 

 

If you’ve been at war with your body, maybe it’s time to take a different perspective–to see it as an asset, a gift, and the one true partner you will always have, through thick and thin.

 

 

Maybe embracing your body’s gifts, its strengths, its natural tendencies and its needs is the first step to creating the changes we seek, the physique we desire, the strong, satisfying and fulfilled lifestyle we week to lead.

 

 

Today I encourage you to look at your body through an appreciative lens and name 3 things that are amazing about your body. You don’t have to post them here, just recognize and name them (out loud) for yourself.

 

 

Just as it can with our gratitude practices, adopting a daily body appreciation practice will create a more positive mindset and experience of the world.

 

When we are actively recognizing and appreciating all the incredible things our bodies do and are capable of, it becomes a whole lot harder (and less meaningful) to criticize the ways in which it’s ‘flawed.’

 

More gratitude, more happy feelings about our bodies. More happy feelings about our bodies, more happy hormones…which leads to better results…it’s a gorgeous self-reinforcing cycle 🙂

 

IMG_9721

#beyourbestyou
#bodypositive

5 Motivation Fixes that LAST (and how the 2008 Olympics changed my life)

IMG_1718

It was August 2008.

 

I was sitting on my couch, nursing my just turned 2-month-old baby, watching the story about Dara Torres on NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics. I always loved watching the Olympics—I have for as long as I can remember, but I was transfixed by Dara Torres’ story.

 

20080804_400 daratorreskidolympics

 

I remembered Dara from another Olympics much earlier in my life, her face familiar, but she wasn’t someone that I’d paid much attention to in the 1984, 1988, 1992 or even the 2000 Olympic games.

 

That changed in 2008, when sitting in my thoroughly postpartum body, living life as a SAHM and support staff for my husband as he made his way through helicopter flight school at Fort Rucker, I bore witness to Dara daring to compete again in the Olympics at age 42, after taking time off from swimming competitively and having a 15-month old child herself.

 

4 weeks

 

Her story inspired me. I didn’t really understand the rigors of her training, or her need for an extended warm up plus soft tissue massage (by means of two small, trained male masseuses walking on the backs of her legs and working on all her other limbs–completely fascinating!), but I recognized her drive, that she had to want it more and work harder than her younger counterparts. I recognized that she was still—at her ripe old age of 42—capable of incredible accomplishments.

 

Dara inspired me to think that more was possible; it wasn’t ‘over’ because I was 34, or had two small children, or lived in rural Alabama, or was married to the Army and its whims.

 

I started to believe that if I was willing to have heart, to put the work in, I could build a strong body capable of incredible things, too. Maybe not the body or the accomplishments of an Olympian, but that I, too, could reach more of my own human and athletic potential.

 

Dara Torres’ 2008 Olympic story and performance were heady and so motivating, even as I sat, hormonal, tired, my body soft, stretched out of shape and thoroughly postpartum, on my living rom couch.

 

The thing is, motivation is often a fleeting thing.

 

That fire that burns so hot at first when we start a new project, dedicate ourselves to a new run plan, choose a special event or occasion to prepare for, or that new diet, can be dampened pretty quickly by the rigors and demands of just plain old daily living.

 

Sleepless nights, long days filled with sometimes tedious, but necessary to-do’s, caring for the emotional and physical needs of others, navigating the tricky waters of the workplace—these can all knock the best of us off-track. And they have!!

 

Which is why, at 34, after rehabilitating my back for a year before having baby #2, and witnessing Dara Torres’ Olympic experience, I cut a picture of her from the local paper and kept it in my fitness journal, where I recorded my workouts and post-partum strength progress, so I could see it regularly.

 

IMG_2039

 

Over the years, when I felt ‘old,’ or discouraged, or felt like throwing in the towel, or that maybe what I was doing (focusing on fitness) wasn’t that important after all, I’d look at that photo and keep trying.

 

It’s one of the techniques I’ve learned/cultivated to create lasting motivation in the face of struggle, injury, failure, feeling disheartened, or having obstacles thrown in my way—because real life offers plenty of these things!

 

At these times, it would be super easy to just throw our hands in the air and say ‘I give up until after this passes/until life calms down/until summer’s over/ until after the holidays, until January 1….’  BUT fostering a sense of purpose instead of relying on feeling ‘motivated’ can keep us positive and proactive instead of hopeless and overwhelmed.

 

There are five key things I do to create and maintain my ‘motivation’:

 

  1. Identify my deepest PURPOSE(S).

I put them into words, write them down, and reflect on them often.

 

  1. Get real with my schedule every week.

I identify when and where I will be getting in my workouts (I ‘sharpie’ these into my schedule), and then create my Plan B’s for those days in case my best laid plans go awry (thank you Army for teaching me this skill!)

 

  1. Keep motivational, inspirational and purpose-oriented quotes around the house where I can see them in the morning and evening.

 

These are words that have deep meaning for me, that resonate with my current challenges that redirect my thinking to the positive even when I’m feeling frustrated or unsure. They are up on my medicine cabinet, on my fridge and above my computer—kind of hard to avoid them! That’s where my photo of Dara Torres hangs out these days, too.

 

  1. I seek out a community of like-minded people—people who can relate to where I’m at in life, to the goals I’m pursuing, who are experiencing some of the same feelings and challenges as I am.

Community support—in the form of running buddies, fellow trainers, people who attend the same classes, and experts I can learn from all contribute to keeping me on track and moving me in a forward, positive direction.

 

  1. I learn a new skill.

Losing 5 pounds or looking better in a bathing suit lost their allure for me a few years ago—what was initially ‘motivating’ no longer held meaning for me.

 

Over time, I’ve discovered that learning a new skill, a new sport, a new technique or a new training approach keeps it fresh for me.

 

Learning and acquiring new skills is exciting, and mastery of a skill is fulfilling and confidence-boosting.  Plus, it’s easy to see the fruits of your labor and harder to get bored!

 

“In every great act, there is a challenge. In every challenge, there is a reward. In every reward lies the product of our efforts. In every effort lies new beauty to be born.”

 

~ Mohammed Onotu

 

If you’ve been struggling with motivation, then give these 5 tips a try!

 

Identify your deeper/deepest PURPOSE for exercising/working out/eating better.

Search your soul a bit.  Sit quietly with your feelings.  Ruminate while you commute….Then write it all down.  Don’t edit yourself, don’t judge, just write it down.  Solidify that purpose in your mind and deep in your gut.

 

Get real with your schedule.

Map out where your time must be spent throughout the week, then map out where you WILL spend your time acting on your purpose (exercising).  ‘Sharpie’ it in.  Then make your backup plans.  Bend if you must, but don’t break.  Find a way to make something work.

 

Find and post quotes where you can see them easily morning and night, and maybe even in places you’ll see them throughout the day—in your office, in your car, in your wallet….

 

These are those galvanizing reminders of your PURPOSE for exercising.  They should be strong, positive and purpose reinforcing.  A couple of fun apps you can use to make your own

 

Find a workout buddy, walking partner, running buddy or just an accountability buddy.

 

  • Find a fitness class or group you really enjoy where the other participants are right up your alley.  Check out other gyms if yours isn’t cutting it.
  • Start a neighborhood exercise ‘tribe’ if you don’t belong to/have access to a gym.
  • Hire an online coach/trainer for guidance, support and accountability.
  • Take part in an online fitness community with like-minded people.
  • Do whatever works best for YOU but find that support, because social support is a great predictor of long-term adherence, even for the most independent of us 😉

 

Try something NEW.

A new class at the gym, a new piece of equipment (kettlebells, TRX, and sandbags can add some spice into any strength training regimen), set a new goal.

 

Try paddle-boarding or indoor rock climbing, join a community sports team or running group, take kickboxing or karate or tae Kwan do—take on a new challenge which forces you to engage your body and mind in the process of acquiring that new skill, so that the aim isn’t so much to reshape your body as to just get better at something (your body will respond, no worries!).

 

“If  you can learn to motivate yourself, you can always tap into an abundance of energy that will drive you to the success you dream of.”

 

~ Rachael Bermingham

 

 

Now I’m the one who’s 42, and it’s my turn to inspire others to believe, with drive, hard work and a positive focus, that great things are possible for them, too.

DSC_7287BW

Want to be a part of a group that will keep you positive, motivated, and purposeful?  

Check out the Elevate with Kate FB group!  

Here’s who we are, and what our community is all about:
Our Motto:  “Get Strong, Be Strong, Stay Strong.”
Our Mission:  To create a supportive community of women who raise each other up as we actively pursue becoming our best selves, both in and out of the gym.
What you can expect every week:
Daily thematic posts which include inspiration/motivation, training tips, recipe sharing, weekly customized workouts, and more.
What you can get out of participating:
  • Connection with other like-minded women
  • Support from a group of strong, motivated and positive women
  • The chance to ask any nutrition or fitness question you want/need and get a straightforward, no gimmicks answer
  • Recipe and nutrition resources
  • Free, done-for-you workouts
  • And much more!
We are dedicated to fostering positivity, grit, personal grace, personal growth, believing in ourselves, and helping other women believe in themselves, too.
We might be spread all over the globe, but we don’t need to feel alone!

Click here to check out Elevate with Kate FB

 

#getstrongbestrongstaystrong
Always keep your head up, and keep striving for better!
Kate

6 Counterintuitive Strategies for Fast (and Lasting!) Weight Loss

This week’s blog post is a guest post from my talented and knowledgeable friend and fellow fitness pro, Becky Williams, of BKinetic Fitness.  When I need a little more fat-loss guidance, I turn to Becky for her expertise.  Plus, she has outstanding taste in books and friends 😉 Enjoy the read!

 

6 Counterintuitive Strategies for Fast and Lasting Weight Loss

 

When it comes to losing weight, we tend to rely on a few tried-and-true tactics. And whether or not they actually work for us, we keep going back to them and blame our ourselves for our inability to stick with them properly and get the results that we want.

 

This is when it helps to look for another way. To do something that seems at its surface to go against the grain of conventional wisdom. But then again, sometimes conventional wisdom gets it all wrong. Or, at the very least, wrong for us.

 

If you’re ready to try something different, read on.

 

  1. Eat Carbs

The practice of drastically cutting carbs has been all the rage over the past fifteen years or so. It has become the go-to tactic when it comes to losing weight. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as many of us eat too many and the wrong types of carbs for our activity levels and goals. And it’s so very tempting to lose a few lbs. right off the bat (mostly water weight though). But it’s easy to overdo it.

 

Carbs play a very important role in our diet — they give us quick energy, as glucose is the fuel that our brains and bodies need and use most readily.  They also help build muscle.

 

But cutting carbs really low can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects:  fatigue, irritability, insomnia, lowered metabolic rate, increased stress hormones, suppressed immune function, and impaired thyroid function.  Women seem to be more sensitive to the effects of a lack of carbs, particularly with hormone regulation.

 

A good goal is to eat as many carbs as possible while still seeing results.  This will help keep your performance in the gym at a good level, help prevent undue hormonal imbalances due to prolonged dieting, and give you something to play with if you hit a plateau.  If you start a diet at 25-50 grams of carbs a day or less, then you don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room down the road.  You can only drop your carbs down so low before it becomes counterproductive and miserable.

 

Start by tracking your food for a few days and then cut out one serving of a starchy or processed carb source (pasta, rice, cereal, granola bars, bread, etc.). After 2 weeks or so, assess how you feel (appetite, cravings, energy) and any results that you’re seeing before making any changes (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!).

 

 

  1. Skip the Cardio

Gasp! No cardio?!? That’s just crazy talk!

 

Yes, I am completely serious. And I used to be a cardio queen back in the day, running, elliptical-ing, cycling, kickboxing, stair-climbing till the cows came home. I thought that’s what I had to do to lose weight and maintain it — 45 minutes to up to 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, week in and week out. I was able to keep that pace up in my teens and twenties fairly easily, but now that I’m 37, I need far more recovery and smarter training.

 

Traditional cardio, like moderate-intensity steady state jogging or spin classes, should be treated as frosting on top of the cake, not the main dish. It’s a not-entirely-necessary but tasty addition in the right dosage. Sometimes it really enhances it, but other times it’s just too much.

 

The reason for this is three-fold. First, weight training is far more effective and efficient for fat loss (I’ll discuss this more below). Second, cardio tends to jack up cravings and appetite, leading to overeating and canceling out any calorie burn and then some. And third, your body will adapt to the volume of exercise that you do, and thus burn fewer calories for the same amount of work.  So that 3 miles that you run every day will boost your stamina (yay!) but will burn fewer calories (boo!).

 

And there is only so much exercise that you can do before it starts to be counterproductive and interferes with your recovery and lifestyle.

 

So the key is to be conservative with your cardio and only sprinkle it in as necessary to see continued results.  It is simply one tool out of many for fat loss, and certainly not the most important one.  As with anything, program your cardio according to your goals.  If your priority is losing fat, do as little as possible and focus on nutrition and lifting weights first and foremost.  But if your main goal is to do a 10k or a half-marathon, then by all means do as much as your training plan calls for to accomplish that mission.  Just know that your weight loss efforts will be impacted.

 

The one form of cardio that I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone? Leisure walking.

 

It’s fantastic for stress management (we can all do with some of that!), especially if you do it outdoors among nature.  It does burn a few calories, but more importantly, it activates our parasympathetic nervous system, slowing down our heart rate and increasing digestion (also known as the “rest and digest system”). This greatly enhances our recovery from exercise and the stresses of daily life.

 

 

  1. Order Dessert

I can hear all of you fellow choco-holics out there cheering yaaassss!!! Usually dessert and sweets are the first to go when dieting. And with good reason, as they are usually sugar/starch/fat bombs, which makes it more likely to be stored as fat.

 

Buuuuutttt….. Completely depriving ourselves of something we enjoy over a long period of time usually backfires. It’s like telling someone to not think of pink elephants. Our mind will repeatedly go back to pink elephants and how we need to think about something else. Same with our favorite treats. They’ll become all we think about, because it’s something that we can’t have. It steals our willpower, so even if we don’t give in to that temptation, we’ll struggle with everything else, whether that’s drinking more water, eating more veggies, and getting to the gym regularly. Pretty soon, even the most stoic of us will give in somewhere, and we all know how crappy that feels.

girlwith chocolate

So pick a few things that will satisfy your sweet tooth (or whatever else you crave the most) but won’t completely derail your efforts. For me, it’s dark chocolate, sugar-free fro-yo or Halo Top ice cream, and chocolate chip cookie dough Quest protein bars. I keep the portions appropriate (no binging) and, depending on my goals, I enjoy one of them a few times a week or once a day. And every once in a while, go ahead and share a dessert with a friend or loved one. Savor a few bites and then move on.

 

However, if you have a trigger food (something that you know you can’t eat just a small portion of and causes even more cravings), then avoiding that would be wise.

 

The goal here is to create built-in buffers against feelings of deprivation, in addition to cultivating a nutrition strategy that we can use for life, not just for 12 weeks.

 

 

  1. Take a Bath

relaxingbath

 

Throw in some Epsom salts and essential oil (like lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint) and get to relaxing and recovering.

 

Although stress has no calories, it can certainly make us gain stubborn weight.   One of the hormones that surge during times of stress is cortisol.  But cortisol is like anything else in our bodies, it can be a negative or a positive force.  We know it as a fat-storing hormone.  However, it can also be a fat-burning hormone.

 

We just tend to have too much of it in response to the chronic, daily stressors of modern living coupled with a lack of quality exercise, sleep, and diet. Although acute elevations in cortisol help burn fat, such as during high intensity interval-style exercise and strength training, excess prolonged elevations in cortisol can stimulate fat storage. It can also lead to muscle loss in the absence of muscle-building hormones (another great reason to lift weights!).

 

Managing stress is a key, but often overlooked, piece of the fat loss puzzle because of the effect it has not only on the body in general (muscle tension, headaches, etc. leading to lackluster or missed workouts and deviation from diet) but also on many of our hormones. An imbalance of vital hormones, such as cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen, throws fat loss into a tailspin. More calories are stored as fat, less muscle is built, muscle is broken down, and strength and energy levels suffer.

 

Our hunger hormones get out of whack as well, making it seem as though we have suddenly developed a bottomless pit for a stomach. It’s not your imagination that you crave more sweet and fatty foods when you’re stressed.

 

So put your phone away and chillax in the tub with a good book and enjoy some much-needed “me time.”

 

  1. Lift Heavy Stuff

Building strength and muscle is not just for bodybuilders. It is a critical component of fat loss and overall health.

 

Sadly, as we age, we lose precious lean muscle. On average, women lose 5 pounds of muscle mass per decade between age 25 and 65, leading to a 2-4% decline in metabolic rate with each decade as well.

 

Muscle is what really transforms your body, giving you the “tight and toned” look. Sparing muscle during a fat loss phase is especially important. When deprived of adequate calories, our bodies will take fuel from wherever it can – muscles, fat stores, and glycogen stores. And when we lose a significant portion of muscle in addition to fat, we may get smaller, but we’ll most likely have the same shape. Plus, we’ll be burning fewer calories throughout the day, which will make weight regain much more likely.

 

Consistent weight training ensures that less muscle tissue is used for fuel and that even more is built over time. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. The “afterburn effect”, also known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), also contributes to the increase in calories burned after the workout. The body increases oxygen use after exercise to bring various processes back to baseline and to recover. This process takes energy (ie calories).

 

Plus, the mental benefits and amazing sense of empowerment that comes from lifting weights tends to carry over into other areas of our lives, improving our overall quality of life.

 

 

  1. Read a Book

When we seek to make a change in our lives, it helps to get our minds right first. Everything we do is connected to our mindset, for better or worse. Our success is intricately tied to whether or not we can harness of the power of our thoughts and underlying beliefs. Anyone who has ever struggled with emotional eating or self-sabotage can relate. Grabbing a carefully selected book can help us to gain a new perspective, make some critical mindset shifts, and inspire us.

 

A few of my top picks:

 

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. http://amzn.to/29DimnU Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.

 

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. http://amzn.to/29zE2O2

This book discusses not only the science of self-control, but also includes simple actionable tips to increase it.

 

Grit by Angela Duckworth. http://amzn.to/29xrqWK

Psychologist Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” So even if you don’t have an athletic bone in your body, you can still learn to kick butt at fitness.

 

Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. http://amzn.to/29SGKmr

He was just an average guy, unhappy and stuck in a rut, who decides one day to start running. And he doesn’t stop. Not even to refuel with a whole pizza (delivered while running in the middle of the night). It’s fascinating to read about his wacky adventures while running ridiculously long distances. And I love how he just starts. He doesn’t wait for the perfect time. He just took action and figured it all out as he went along. You really feel his love of movement shine through, and it makes you want to throw on your sneakers and get outside.

 

On My Own Two Feet by Amy Purdy. http://amzn.to/29Aszii

On the cusp of her twenties, the author contracts bacterial meningitis, resulting in having both legs amputated at the knee. Years later, she now snowboards competitively, including earning a medal in the 2014 Paralympics. She also competed on Dancing With The Stars. Her journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity we all have to dream bigger, defy expectations, and rewrite our stories.

 

 

The right book can be a total gamechanger. And if you’re a busy multi-tasker, check out Audible.com. Listening to audiobooks during your commute, a workout, or while doing housework is a great way to learn and be inspired if you’re short on time and energy.

It’s understandable if you’re a bit hesitant to take on these tactics. We’ve been all but brainwashed by the mainstream media for so long to throw ourselves headlong into an intense cardio routine (hello, Insanity), slash our carb intake, and deprive ourselves of every bit of delicious food that we love. But isn’t it time to try a new way?

 

Pick one strategy and see how it goes. Experiment and try to have fun with the process. There are no hard and fast rules, just what works for you. Sometimes you have to dare to take a more unusual approach to get the results that you want.

 

_____________________________________________________

 

BeckyWilliams_headshotBecky Williams is a personal trainer for women who struggle with perfectionism and who have lost their fitness mojo.

Through her blog posts, effective workouts, and sane and simple nutrition tips, she’s here to shake up your approach to fitness and fat loss – while making it all feel like a fun game you never want to stop playing.

And when she’s not helping women build a powerful body and life, you can find her cheering on her favorite soccer team, FC Dallas, savoring an Americano and the occasional glass of pinot grigio (although not at the same time), or cuddling her ridiculously adorable orange tabbies, Sheldon and Theodore.

 

Meet Becky and get ready to uncover your inner badass at bkinetic.com.

« Older Entries