Archive for Trainer Tip Tuesday

TTT: UNround those Shoulders!

TrainerTipTuesday2

Trainer Tip Tuesday: Tips for Un-Rounding Those Shoulders

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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.

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

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.’

 

 

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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

 

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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!

 

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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

 

{TTT} Batteries low, but no time for a nap? Try this trick!

Trainer Tip Tuesday!

 

Today’s Tip:  Don’t have time for a full-blown nap but need a little calling time-out?

 

Try the ‘legs up the wall’ pose 🙂

 

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How to do it:  Scootch your buns right up against the wall so that your body forms a 90-degree angle and your legs are totally straightened, and directly over your hips.

 

 

Put a pillow under your head, as needed, to be comfortable and keep your neck/spine in a more neutral position.

 

 

Put your arms out to the sides, palms facing up OR place one hand on your ribs and the other on your belly to focus on deep belly breathing. (You want the hand on your belly to elevate before the hand on your ribs–sometimes this takes practice!)

 

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Set a timer, close your eyes and…just breathe.

 

 

Doing this for as little as one minute has benefits, and I usually opt for 5 -10 minute sessions if a power nap is out of the question but I need to recharge the batteries a bit!

 

 

Hope you find this one helpful, too!

 

#legsupthewall

#personalgrace

 

{TTT} Save yourself some meal-time stress: cook in double batches!

skewers

It’s Trainer Tip Tuesday!

Today’s Tip: Cook in double batches.

 

 

 

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This is one of my favorite time-saving, headache-avoiding, eat-better, and eat-more-simply strategies.

 

 

Especially when we use the grill or the oven, cooking a double batch of something takes just about the same time as a single batch.

 

 

 

This can make a huge difference in the amount of time, labor and decision-making you have to put into creating your meals or snacks all week long!

 

 

 

Now that it’s grill season, anytime we use the grill I double whatever we’re making: veggies, meats, whatever.

 

 

 

Lately asparagus has been on sale, so I’ve been grabbing 2 bundles and cooking them all at once as a side for dinner, then using the leftovers as either a side for other meals or as a toss-in ingredient for quinoa variations, pastas, and scrambles, too.

 

 

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Same goes for chicken breast, turkey breast streaks, fish, beef, pork, zucchini, aubergines, bell peppers, mushrooms….

 

 

 

When my fridge is stocked with already-cooked whole ingredients, it makes meal creation SO much easier, especially on-the-fly meal creation for hectic evenings.

 

 

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And I don’t spend any extra time doing it, so I’m gaining time and losing stress on the other says with almost no extra effort.

 

 

Eating better and stressing less consistently each week? WINNING!

 

#bigbatchcooking

#nomoredietstress

TTT: Not sure how to build a solid nutrition plan? Start with your DBRs.

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Is your diet random or regular?

 

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What are your Dietary Big Rocks—those things you are committed to doing every single day that are in line with your desired health and fitness outcomes?

 

 

If it’s not a question you can answer easily, then chances are you don’t have them yet…which likely means your daily nutritional choices are a bit random…which means in turn that you’re likely struggling.

 

 

 

So how do we move from struggling, and maybe not being able to see the forest for the trees to eating with intention, purpose and getting better results—without stress or another regimented diet plan?

 

 

 

By identifying the Big Rocks in our diets—the 3 things that have the MOST impact overall on our health, wellness, weight, body fat percentage, or athletic performance.

 

 

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I’m discovered that I’d gotten away from mine throughout the month of May!

 

 

 

Life’s pace picked up, my dad came for a month-long visit (so grateful), the kids both had birthdays and celebrations, I went on 2 short road trips (again, grateful)….Long story short, my diet became more random and haphazard than I’d like or feel comfortable living with.

 

 

 

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One of those indulgent travel meals.

 

 

So I’m taking this opportunity to redefine my own DBRs. But this also means that I need to clearly define just what the desired outcome of my nutrition really is.

 

 

 

I’ve been listening to several podcasts all about fat loss lately, because that seems to be what most people I talk to seek help with.

 

 

 

I found myself trying to change my own eating patterns to comply with those fat loss guidelines over the past few weeks as well, because the advice given was sounds and seemed effective…Except I was starting to get more off-track with my own diet by complying with rules that didn’t fit MY needs.

 

 

 

I didn’t even realize what I was doing (trying to override my body’s signals and needs in order to do ‘the right thing’) until about a week or so ago when it hit me over the head: I’m not eating for fat loss—that’s not MY goal!

 

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I want to be eating for hormone balance (learning as a I go!), maintaining or even creating more lean muscle tissue, and getting stronger/improving my athletic performance. Which, in my personal diet, looks very different than when I’m eating for fat loss!

 

 

 

LOL/SMH….

 

So my updated DBRs with MY current goals in mind, are:

 

*Prioritizing Protein: eating 5-6 servings of roughly 20 grams per day

 

*Getting AT LEAST 5 servings of veggies daily, and more is always better

 

*Including healthy fats (Omega 3s) for their anti-inflammatory properties and because they add taste and fullness to my meals

 

 

 

Then, once I defined my DNC’s then I got to work on putting them into daily actions!

 

 

 

Here’s how I did it:

  • baked a big batch of salmon filets which I ate for lunch with a salad many days
  • added veggies and protein at breakfast via a variety of scrambles
  • made half my plate veggies in the evenings
  • had Quest bars for a snack most days
  • baked a bunch of chicken breasts and boiled eggs for easy to grab protein
  • cooked using olive oil and coconut oil
  • used avocado and cheese as condiments in many of my meals (esp. scrambles, salads and wraps)
  • got bagged salad a couple of times in the week, too, because the convenience is well worth the cost these days
  • had my kids cut veggies in the evenings
  • stocked tuna and beans in my pantry, and whole wheat tortillas in the fridge, so we could have wraps of some kind OR black bean burritos—always a filling and tasty 30-minutes or less meal.
  • **Cooked everything in double batches to save me time making meals later in the week. This is KEY to my success—or lack thereof some weeks!**

 

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A double-batch of grilled asparagus–worth the time and the gas!

 

Once I’ve got the basic structure for my diet, and the ingredients for the next couple of days ready to go, it’s ‘plug and chug’ time.

 

 

Like I’ve said before, I don’t count macros or calories, I count PORTIONS. If it seems like I’m not getting in my DNC’s, then I ‘double-down’ in the afternoon and evening (like having a #BAS—big-ass salad, for example).

 

 

I find it WAY more effective and WAY less stress to focus on what I’m putting IN to my daily diet, rather than what I’m taking (or leaving) out.

 

 

I continue to plan in my indulgences, too, because deprivation and restriction are NOT part of my sustainable eating plan.

 

 

 

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The Spanish Verdejo I’m currently infatuated with.

 

 

 

After I have my DBRs worked in, then I also add in carbs as sides when I wanted them (sweet potatoes, a slice of toast, some noodles—whatever was available/sounded good), and I make sure the foods I eat taste good while I meet my DBRs.

 

 

 

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One of last week’s big batch/DBR-based dinners.

 

 

Every meal was satisfying, had a little variety most days, felt SO much better and so much less bloated after 4 days of consistency. Phew!

 

 

So what changes or goals are you working on in your daily diet right now?

 

 

Whether our goals are to lose weight, lean out a bit or decrease body fat, create more shapely muscles, develop increased muscular strength, speed and endurance or simply to maintain a stable level of health and wellness, our DBRs matter.

 

 

Our success or continued frustration hinge on the daily nutritional choices we make.

 

 

And this is why defining our DBRs matters—they help us:

  1. focus on the DO’s in our diets
  2. focus on Including foods in our diets, not Excluding them,
  3. keep focused on taking positive and proactive steps towards eating and feeling better instead of having us all hung up on avoiding foods or resisting urges or cravings.

 

So I’ll ask you again:

–> Is your diet random or regular?

 

–> What are your Dietary Big Rocks—those things you are committed to doing every single day that are in line with your desired health and fitness outcomes?

 

 

If you’re still not sure, then it’s time to start by defining your goal(s).

 

After you have your goal(s) defined, then it’s time to consider:

 

  1. a) what your biggest challenges are—the things that might be interfering with your goals, and

 

  1. b) what things might be the MOST helpful in getting your eating more aligned with your desired outcome(s)!

 

Wherever you are in the process, look for the lessons you can learn from your mindset about food and your daily behaviors, make sure to celebrate your small wins, and look for the places where you can make the most impact in your diet without making yourself crazy.

 

 

And on that topic, I’m beginning a 10-week email series called ’10 Steps to a Livable Diet,’ which is a condensed version of the coaching I’ve done in my Get REAL Fit lifestyle coaching group AND my ‘Nourished Mind’ program.

 

The Livable Diet email cover

 

 

If you’re ready to stop chasing your tail and beating your head against yet another diet wall, then maybe you’re ready to try creating a ‘Liveable Diet’ of your own.

 

 

Over the next 10 weeks, I’ll be sharing my 10 steps for ditching the diet mentality for good and creating your own flexible, adaptable and permanently effective ‘Livable Diet.’

 

Sign up here to get my ’10 Steps to a Livable Diet’ email series delivered to you:

http://bit.ly/LivableDiet10Steps

 

 

Each Thursday, I’ll be sending out a single step in the process, with actionable tips and even a cheat sheet to help you start on the path to diet freedom and creating your own adaptable, sustainable, effective Livable Diet.

 

 

FYI: there is ZERO obligation to do anything or purchase anything—it’s purely for educational purposes and I just wanted to make sure you had to opportunity to take part and start tuning up your diet and eating habits RIGHT NOW.

 

#TheLivableDiet

#TheNourishedMind

 

Trainer Tip Tuesday: Not sure where to start? Try at the beginning

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Today’s Tip: When you need to make changes, but don’t know where to start, start at the beginning–of your day, that is!

 

 

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Many of the challenges and pitfalls we encounter later in the day with willpower, nutrition, positive thinking/frustration, or exercise can be alleviated–and sometimes totally avoided–by tweaking one behavior, action or procedure you have in the mornings.

 

 

Recently, I was talking with one of my clients about how we can start to tune up her diet by making one impactful change at a time, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and implementing a totally new eating plan (aka: making her follow an arbitrary diet).

 

 

We talked about when in the day she feels her willpower and judgment fade the most, and it was in the evenings after working all day and going to the gym right afterwards.

 

 

By the time she got home, it was game on/insert food here QUICK!!

 

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Which made total sense after we took a look at her food journals from the week before! See, they come in pretty handy 🙂 

 

 

 

It turned out, she was eating very little for breakfast, surviving on coffee until 1 pm, then having whatever she could easily grab for lunch, then white-knuckling through the rest of the afternoon, her class and the drive home.

 

 

So we started at the beginning! Instead of trying to address late-day willpower and cravings issues, we decided to implement one change–to eat a nourishing breakfast.

 

 

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After she did this for a week, the afternoon issues basically solved themselves AND she felt so much better all morning long and started investing in a more nutritious, but easy to grab, lunch, too.

 

 

One simple change at the beginning of the day impacted the next 10-12 hours.

 

 

So if you need to make changes, but don’t know where to start, look at the beginning of your day for possible solutions.

 

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Look at your morning patterns, and think about what’s helpful or unhelpful about your actions.

 

 

Keep your changes simple, test drive them for 7-14 days, and see how making those adjustments works for you!

 

 

Start small, stay consistent, stay tenacious.

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Never underestimate the power of consistent, incremental change.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

 

#TheNourishedMind
#smallwinsaddup

{Trainer Tip Tuesday} Full Disclosure: My Very Own, Time-Tested Personal Eating Strategies

strawberryoats

It’s Trainer Tip Tuesday!

 

 

Today’s Tip is more like a few tips rolled into an approach to eating.

 

 

I got this question from a reader recently:

 

“I am writing because I was wondering if you could tell me an example of what you eat in a day and timing of eating. I am like all of the examples you write…My body is not budging from being 5-10 lbs more than I want to be. I am trying the less is more (b/c I overeat with too much cardio) with strength and interval training, but I think it’s my food that is the issue. So…wondering what u eat when wanting to lose weight just to get a idea.”

 

 

 

It made me think about the fact that I talk about eating habits alot, and different approaches to eating, but I guess I haven’t said exactly how I eat most days–so I’m sharing the guidelines I use on a daily and weekly basis with you today.

 

 

 

AND I’ll be sharing how I tweak my eating when I want to lean out a bit.

 

 

FYI, I pretty much ignore the scale because it doesn’t give me much feedback about my body composition (muscle and fat percentages) and I rely on how my pants fit–especially around the waist as that’s where I see changes happen first, in either direction!

 

 

**Spoiler Alert: I don’t count calories. I don’t count macros. And I’m not perfect eater, by any means. BUT the way I approach eating is definitely sustainable, and I’ll share why 🙂

 

I try to eat a serving of some kind of protein at each meal/most snacks.

What that protein ends up being really depends on the day, what I’m in the mood for, how quickly I need it to digest (I avoid heavy stuff before workouts), and what we have available!

 

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Here are a few ways you can get more protein in your life, too:  http://reallifefitbykate.com/wordpress/?p=601

 

 

I really, really focus on veggies each day.

 

I don’t count many things in my daily diet, but I DO track the servings of veggies each day. I try to add them earlier in the day to get more of them, but if I haven’t had many by dinner, I tend to double down on my servings or eat a #BAS (big ass salad).

 

 

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My drinks are all low- or no-cal.

 

 

I put whole milk in my coffee, drink lots of water or ‘cold brew’ flavored teas, and maybe a glass of (dry) wine in the evening (on Fridays might be more than one, lol….)

 

I tend to save my starchy carbs (bread, pasta, rice, crackers) for around my workouts.

 

 

Currently I tend to work out in the evenings, so that means I have more carbs either for snack in the afternoon or at dinner. BUT I’ll also have oatmeal for breakfast sometimes–I just make sure it’s paired with some protein so it digests more slowly.

 

 

I plan in weekly indulgences.

 

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Knowing I can have a couple (2-3) treats per week keeps me from obsessing or overdoing it.

 

It’s funny how food can lose its power over us when we stop idolizing or demonizing it.

Here’s what I mean and how I do it: http://reallifefitbykate.com/wordpress/?p=499

 

 

I often eat a square or two of dark chocolate in the afternoon.

 

I know that two squares hits the spot, but won’t trigger a binge, so it’s a healthy practice for me. Balance and moderation, right?!?

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I pay attention to portion sizes and use my dishes to help guide my portions (more on that below).

 

I listen to my body carefully.

Sometimes it needs more, sometimes less, of food in general or of certain macronutrients. I stay flexible with my needs because every day is a little bit different!

 

 

AND here’s what I do when I want to lean out (usually after a vacation or holidays):

 

 

**Track my food intake using my favorite hard-copy food journal.

It helps me identify any unhelpful trends that might have crept into my diet, which in turn helps me know which one or two changes (tweaks) I can make to get the most impact.

 

 

You can grab a copy for yourself here:  RLF Daily Food Journal 2016

 

**Use smaller dishes–bowls and plates, in particular. There’s a very natural tendency to fill a dish to its limit, and often this limit is actually more than we really need to be satisfied.

 

 

I LOVE this little trick/tweak–no diet changes needed and it’s a very low-stress way to make a big impact on our intake.

 

 

 

**Pay extra attention to my starchy/processed carb intake–treats, breads, crackers, pasta, chocolate, potatoes, desserts, and even wine.

 

This goes back to tracking, too–sometimes we just don’t realize exactly how much we’ve been eating of these things and a little hard data can help us make small but impactful changes.

 

 

**Pay LOTS of attention to my stress level and my quality of sleep.

 

 

These can be pretty big triggers for wanting to eat more–especially starchy carbs/sweet things. It’s much easier to listen to my body’s true needs and make better food choices when I’m more well-rested.

 

 

And when I’m NOT well-rested, I’m at least aware that being less rested triggers certain cravings and I’m less likely to give in mindlessly. This is when my SNAP method comes in handy (you can read about it here: http://reallifefitbykate.com/wordpress/?p=1300)

 

 

 

The way I approach eating is in a very flexible, sustainable and customized manner that is guided by listening to my body’s (ever-changing) needs, eating things that are satisfying in both flavor and nutrition, and not getting too hung up on numbers, macros, or anyone else’s rules.

 

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No one knows our bodies better than we do, and when we spend the time listening to our bodies and finding out what we REALLY need we often come up with the best, most practical and sustainable eating patterns—ones no other diet’s rules can ever achieve.

 

 

 

And that’s powerful, life-changing stuff!

 

 

 

If you’re curious how you can get started creating your own sustainable diet, shoot me an email and we can chat about it in a complementary coaching call (on the phone, Skype, FaceTime or Google hangouts—whatever’s best for you).

 

 

You can reach me here: kate@reallifefitbykate.com

Looking forward to chatting with you, and don’t be afraid to go against the grain and make your own rules!

{Trainer Tip Tuesday} Make leisure walks a priority in your life.

TrainerTipTuesday2

This week’s tip:  Make leisure walks a priority in your life.

 

Sounds weird, right? Aren’t we supposed to crank up the volume in our workouts, go harder, not do less–especially something so…gentle?!?

 

 

Intensity and hard effort definitely have their place in our weekly fitness regimens, but just not ALL the time. Which I found out kind of by accident!

 

 

Last year, I struggled with hormone issues–although I didn’t realize that’s what was going on until late August/early September–and kept it to myself because I didn’t really understand what was up with my body.

 

 

(If you want more details, you can read about it here: “The truth my ta-ta’s told me“)

 

 

Then I managed to get bronchitis on the way home from my first-ever business trip, and landed on my back for roughly 21 days. Walking was about all I could manage.

 

 

 

Shortly after I recovered, I overdid it in the gym and put a couple of ribs out of alignment, sending a chain-reaction through most of my paraspinal muscles. FYI–super tight, knotted paraspinal, and intercostal (between the ribs) muscles will stop you dead in your tracks.

 

 

Again, healing took a number of weeks, during which time all I could manage was walking and a massive amount of core work.

 

 

 

I worried a little about getting out of shape, but my hunger followed my exercise level (less exercise, less intense urge to eat), and I found that by December I had shed about 6 pounds and felt more my normal level of lean again.

 

 

 

All I had done was walk, core work, and occasional (intense!) air bike sprints each week. No magic diet, no crazy workout regimen.

 

 

 

Just…walking with my best girl, who was on the mend, too.

 

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My best girl, Daisy

 

Leisure walking gives our bodies the opportunity to repair. It also give our parasympathetic system a chance to do its thing–which is to promote relaxation and hormonal balance.

 

 

 

(The sympathetic nervous system is the one responsible for fight-or-flight, and the one that releases cortisol–which is a good thing in the right doses, but not so good to have constantly high amounts of in the body.  You can read more about it here: http://www.metaboliceffect.com/can-your-chosen-surroundings-help-you-burn-more-fat/)

 

 

So as crazy as it sounds, sometimes less really IS more–and leisure walking doesn’t just give us the chance to catch our breaths, it gives us the opportunity to establish better hormonal balance.

 

 

 

More hormonal balance means an easier time ‘staying in the middle’ physically and emotionally, and an easier time losing body fat while we’re at it.

 

 

 

Give a couple of shorter (10 minutes if that’s all you’ve got!) walks each day a try, and see if you start feeling better–inside and out–within a couple of weeks 🙂

 

PS–Here’s a link to an article that gives 10 MORE ways walking is so good for us!  I love #3 and #8, especially 🙂

http://blog.myfitnesspal.com/10-amazing-benefits-walking/

 

Leisure walking for the win!

 

 

Trainer Tip Tuesday: Pause Your Squat

Today’s Tip: Pause your squat.

 

 

 

To make your squats stronger, more comfortable and just all around better, add a pause to your squats during one of your workouts.

 

 

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It’s pretty easy and common to rush through our squats–especially if we’re doing them as part of a timed workout, in a class, or as part of a circuit.

 

 

And when we rush through our squats a couple of things can happen: we get a little sloppy and maybe develop some not-so-helpful habits/techniques, and we miss out on the opportunity to develop even more glute strength.

 

 

More glute strength = being able to squat more weight, build a stronger and tighter booty, and feel more powerful coming out of the bottom of the squat.

 

Plus, when we use more muscle, we build more muscle and that translates to more calorie-burning potential in our biggest muscle groups–even when we’re sleeping. Score!

 

 

 

To put the paused squat into practice, use a moderate weight (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells–doesn’t matter), tighten up your abs/pull the ribs down, and lower slowly with tension in your glutes–just like you always do, right?!?!

 

 

 

Once you hit the bottom of your squat, or end range of motion, hang out there for 1-3 breaths (start with one, work up to two or three).

 

 

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While you’re sitting down there, you’ll quickly recognize any ‘cheats’ you’ve gotten used to using: relying too much on one leg, not keeping you abs tight enough, rolling the shoulders forward, arching the low back too much….

 

 

 

And the pause gives you time to make some of the needed ‘shifts’ to your form to clean it up so you can perform even better in the future!

 

 

 

To finish up your paused squat, try to stand as forcefully/explosively as possible and really squeeze your glutes tight once you’ve returned to full standing/start position.

 

 

 

My Functional Fitness class peeps did 5 rounds of 5 reps of paused front squats today and had really good results, so give it a shot during one of your next squat workouts!

 

 

Better form and tighter glutes await you…. 🙂

 

 

{Trainer Tip Tuesday} Be Like a Dandelion

Dandelion

 

If you’re in the military, you’re probably aware that April is the Month of the Military Child.  

 

 

 

If you’re not in the military or affiliated in some way with the military, you just learned something new!  

 

 

 

Throughout the month of April, different memes dedicated to military children circulate through social media, many of them featuring a dandelion.

 

 

 

 

 

The dandelion is the flower of the military child–and for good reason.  

Dandelions, among other things, are tenacious.  

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My tenacious dandelions.

 

 

 

 

Tenacious might actually be too gentle a word to describe them, actually!  Have you ever tried to rid your lawn or garden of dandelions?  

 

 

 

 

Each spring, it’s a war in my little backyard, and I hate to admit it, but the dandelions are slowly winning…because of their tenacity.

 

 

 

 

 

Dandelions just don’t quit.  

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the war I’m waging against them, I really admire dandelions.

 

 

 

 

 

They grow wherever they’re planted, they reach for the sun tirelessly, they spread what they have to offer prolifically, and they never stop trying to come back.

 

 

 

 

 

So what the heck does this have to do with fitness??  Only everything.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the challenges we often face where our fitness is concerned is not being tenacious enough when things aren’t easy.

 

 

 

 

A kid gets sick.  

 

 

We get sick.  

Our schedule changes.  

Work becomes more demanding.  

There’s a crisis in the family.  

We develop an injury.  

Our workout buddy moves away.  

WE move away.  

 

 

 

 

 

All of these events can happen, or have happened, at some point, and they can really knock us out of our workout habits and practices.

 

 

 

 

 

A short break becomes a longer break, and pretty soon we’re so far ‘off track,’ we don’t know how or feel we have the will to find our way to get back ‘on track.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is where being like a dandelion comes in.  

 

 

  

This is where developing and maintaining tenacity comes in.  

 

 

 

 

 

The main reason I created “Your Plan B Playbook’ (you can grab a copy by signing up here: Plan B Playbook) was to create a tool by which others could also develop and foster their own tenacity.

 

 

 

 

 

Being an Army spouse, now living overseas, has presented me over the years with a slew of challenges.

 

 

 

 

In the early years of being married to the Army, these challenges DID knock me off track–and that made me sad, angry, resentful, hopeless, and generally feeling like a failure.

 

 

 

 

I could not see a way out of my situation or any alternative by which to reach my health/fitness/weight loss goals.

 

 

 

 

Then I took a nasty fall from a friend’s cranky barrel racing horse.  Well, the fall wasn’t so bad–it was kind of a graceful dismount actually–but the landing messed me up.

 

 

 

 

I landed full PLF-style on my right side on some very hard Louisiana clay, causing trauma to my lumbar spine, both SI joints in my pelvis, and two broken ribs.

 

 

 

 

In the weeks and months after that accident, I had to decide whether I was going to live as an injured and inhibited person, or do what it took to get better, get stronger.

 

 

 

 

It took a year of physical therapy and diligent work with a personal trainer, but I did get better–and stronger and more resilient.  

 

 

 

 

 

And tenacious.  

 

 

 

 

 

Tenacity is defined as being ‘persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.’  

 

 

 

 

 

 

But how do we get or develop tenacity when we feel like we’re on the ropes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over time, I’ve found three things that help develop and foster tenacity on the fitness front.

1. Have a backup plan (or multiple backup plans!) ready to go.  

 

 

 

Your Plan B Playbook’ was born out of a need to have a backup workout options ready to go for all those times where one of my kids was suddenly ill, my husband was deployed, or other life circumstances messed with my plan A workout.  

 

 

 

 

Knowing I had a plan b, c, d, e and even f ready to go alleviated a ton of stress and kept me consistent with my workouts.

 

 

 

 

 

Being able to workout despite unpleasant circumstances also helped me cultivate tenacity through self-confidence:  every time I got that workout in during a challenging time it made me more confident I was capable of continuing on and doing it again the next time things got challenging.

 

 

 

 

 

 ” The more I accomplish, the more I know I’m capable of accomplishing.”  ~ Tawny Lara

 

 

2. Be a part of a ‘tribe.’  

 

 

 

Being a part of something bigger than yourself can bolster your will and determination when you’d rather just skip a day or quit. 

 

 

 

 

Social media offers a way to find and connect with like-minded people who can serve as a support network or accountability group.

 

 

 

 

Recruiting friends on Facebook to be a part of an ‘exercise tribe’ with similar goals or lifestyles can be a great help–you’re there to both encourage others when they need it, and they’re there for you when you need a pep talk or a kick in the pants 🙂

 

 

 

 

Having a workout community can be the difference between ‘I give up’ and ‘I can do this.’

 

 

 

 

3.  Dedicate your workouts.

 

 

 

When you don’t feel like working out or going for a run, dedicate that sweat session to someone.

 

 

 

 

I started doing this in 2011, but only privately–as in my own head, not through any official organizations.  I often choose to dedicate that workout to either those who have passed or those who would love to get up and move, but can’t.

 

 

 

 

It changes I ‘have to workout’ into ‘I get to workout.’  

 

 

 

 

There are many different organizations where you can connect with a cause or an individual and dedicate your miles/sweat sessions to them, such as IRun4 .  Or you can create your own dedications and even wear them, such as with grace bands.

 

 

 

 

 

When you struggle to get out the door, or into your workout clothes or to the gym, take a moment and dedicate your workout to someone who can’t. It may change your ‘task’ into an experience of gratitude and appreciation.

 

 

 

 

 

Every year, as they consume more of my grass, I admire dandelions a little bit more.

 

 

 

 

And I strive to emulate them–to be tenacious, to grow where I’m planted, to seek the sunshine and stand tall, and to spread what I have to offer prolifically.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re struggling, or someone near to you is struggling, scrounge up that tenacity.

 

 

 

 

 

Be like a dandelion.  

 

 

 

 

Those things don’t quit.

 

 

Talk to you soon,

 

Kate

#BYBY2016

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