Inner Strength!

Inner strength. Getting what you want from your workout, you job, and your life takes mental strength. Here is how to find yours!

Imagine yourself in a cycle class your exhausted but your instructor tells you to add gear because we are going up a hill! You could pretend to add gear, after all you are tired and last night was a late night. Or you could channel your strength and energy and show that hill who’s boss!!

If you choose to charge over the hill, chances are you’ve got grit – the tenacity and stamina to work hard in pursuit of a goal, despite obstacles or setbacks. While talent and skills are important for getting ahead, grit is actually the biggest predictor of how successful you’ll ultimately be, research shows.

“When it comes to achieving the goals that matter most, grit trumps talent, smarts, privileges, and luck,” says the leading researcher Paul G. Stolz, Ph.D. the author of Grit: The New Sciences of What It Takes to Persevere, Flourish, Succeed. “Anything worth accomplishing in life is tough. Without grit, you’ll never get there.”

Having grit means that you’re going after things you want, and not letting obstacles hold you back! So learning that fit people are generally have more grit, according to research. “People who work out regularly usually have more energy and discipline and more experience with pain and sacrifice, and they put more effort into their goals,” explains Stoltz.

The cool thing is the grit is something you can develop! While are genetic makeup does play a role, but also so does the way you were raised. So how can you develop your grit? Here are some things you can do.

  1. Find a goal that you’re truly passionate about.
  2. Be clear about what you want.
  3. Surround yourself with gritty people
  4. Give yourself permission to fail.
  5. See setbacks as opportunities.
  6. Define yourself as someone who doesn’t give up.

Wherever you start, you can increase your grit. “When properly exercised and trained, grit can be strengthened just like a muscle,” Stolz says.

Sometimes you need grit NOW! When you have a set of Tabatas to do or a plank on the Reformer or Bodhi, you might need some instant grit! The number one thing you can do is picture yourself succeeding. “Whether it’s envisioning yourself crossing the finishing line, hearing people cheering for you, or taking a bite of your favorite post workout meal when the race is over, imagery can help shift your emotions into a positive place, which will help you get through that difficult moment,” says sport psychologist Gloria Petruxxrlli, Ph.D. Another great tool is repeating a powerful mantra like “I’ve got this!” These types of messages boost your confidence and remind yourself of what you are capable of!

Believe and achieve!

HIIT The Summer with Enthusiasm

In the summer the days get longer but your “me” time gets shorter! Busy summer days filled with traveling, vacations, kids out of school, beach days, pool time, work, etc. And typically the first thing that gets cut from your routine is your workout time. But if you have 15 minutes you can still get a killer workout!!

These workouts are know as High-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. For example, a good starter workout is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes. Repeat that 3-minute interval five times for a 15-minute, fat-blasting workout. It sounds too simple to be effective, but this type of workout is backed with science.

Super-efficient HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule—whether you want to squeeze in a workout during your busy summer days, lunch break, or if you want to get in shape for a fast-approaching event. Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than jogging on the treadmill for an hour. And according to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.

And it gets even better, using the Tabata training method, you can complete an effective HIIT workout in just 4 minutes! Yes, 4 minutes. Tabata workouts consists of 20 seconds of high intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest for a set of 8. For example, try this method doing as many squats as you can for 20 seconds then repeat for a set of 8 trying to do the same amount of repetitions and resting for 10 seconds in between.
Other benefits of HIIT:
-you’ll burn more fat
-you’ll build a healthier heart
-no equipment necessary
-you will lose weight not muscle
-increase your metabolism
-you can do it anywhere
-it is a challenge

This is not a workout you can do while talking, reading, or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers someone experienced with exercising a new challenge and if you are new to exercising you will see quick results. You won’t be easy, you may be fighting for your breath, BUT you won’t be bored and you will love the end result!

How is Your Summer Stomach?

Everyone wants a stronger, leaner and toner stomach for the Summer. So, what is the best way to get there? And what are the best exercises?

Before discussing some helpful exercises it is helpful to understand the anatomy of the stomach and what the abdominal muscles are and their function. There are four abdominal muscles:

  1. Transversus Abdominis – this muscle is the deepest ab muscle layer and its main role is to stabilize the torso, or trunk, and it acts like a corset holding everything in.
  2. External Obliques – these are on each side of the rectus abdomens and allow the trunk to twist.
  3. Internal Obliques – these muscles are below the external obliques and are located along the side of our bodies. They operate in the opposite way to the external obliques.
  4. Rectus Abdominis – this muscle is located between the ribs and the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis, commonly called ‘the six pack’.

The following three Pilates exercises will work all of your stomach muscles and give you that “sexy” summer stomach we are all looking for:

  1. Plank – main focus in the transverse abdominis. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position for as long as you can while holding your muscles in and tight. Repeat three times.BBC Plank
  2. Criss Cross/Bicycle – main focus is the external and internal obliques. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Your elbows should be pointing out to the sides. Bend one knee to your chest and the other leg hover right over the ground. Curl up and across towards the bent leg then switch sides, alternating legs and sides throughout the exercise. Start with three sets of ten.BBC2
  3. Single Leg Stretch- main focus is the rectus abdominis. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your shins parallel to the floor, this is tabletop position. Pull your abs in, taking your bellybutton down toward your spine, as you curl your head and shoulders up to the tips of the shoulder blades. As you curl up, your left leg extends at a 45-degree angle.The right leg remains in tabletop position with both hands on your shin. Then switch, holding for a few seconds on each side. Maintain your upper-body curve throughout the exercise. Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed and your abdominals deeply scooped. Start with three sets of ten.BBC3

 

With all exercise programs, make sure you are healthy enough for exercise and scale or modify exercises as necessary.

Why Exercise?

I know not every person loves to exercise. But exercise doesn’t have to be a chore! With the right fitness program and the right motivation, exercise can become a habit that you actually look forward to doing. There are so many great reasons to workout, and many have been scientifically proven. For example, on the days you workout you are more creative, smarter, kinder, and you’ll sleep better that night.  Exercise can help you live longer, it makes you healthier, it can prevent many types of diseases, it makes you happy, and the list goes on and on.

Why don’t some people like exercise?

People who don’t like exercise are usually doing it for the wrong reasons. If your reason to workout is to lose weight, then you will get disappointed and most likely quit.  Humans love instant gratification, but losing weight is more of a long-term benefit. Some people approach exercise as a punishment for overeating or drinking too much. While other people may associate exercise with a negative experience from their childhood like getting chosen last for dodge ball or being pushed into a sport like tennis when they wanted to play ice hockey.

The first step in learning to like exercise is to do it for the right reasons. If your reason to exercise is to feel better, be smarter and more focused, be happier, sleep better, increase your energy, put a spark back into your sex life, and to have fun then you will be successful because exercise does provide these benefits.   And, guess what?  You’ll feel them right away!  There’s your instant gratification.

How can I make exercise a habit?

The best way to start making exercise a habit is to exercise at the same time every day. I love to exercise.  I can do it morning, afternoon, or evening but it is already a habit for me. Choose a time that is realistic.  Whether that is first thing in the morning before kids wake up or directly after work, it is important to find a time when you can’t be interrupted. I know things come up, but you and your health should be a priority. One of the many reasons why I like group classes or personal training session is that you are not holding your phone in your hand while working out which minimizes distractions and you get a better workout. The environment where you workout should be a place that is convenient and a place that you find enjoyable.  Likewise, you should enjoy the people that you see while exercising.

Another great way to make it a habit is to set triggers to remind you to exercise. You can set your workout clothes out the night before so that when you see them, it is a reminder that you planned on going to the club today. Another idea is to set an alarm on your phone for the time to go to the club or meet your trainer. These things will create triggers in your brain to workout and thus creating the habit.

How do I know what type of exercise to do?

Think back to when you were a kid. What types of movement did you do? Was it a sport, riding your bike, playing on the jungle gym, dance, running? I loved riding my bike as a kid; I would ride it over to my friends house, and we ride our bikes around the neighborhood for hours! Hello, exercise! But as a kid, we didn’t think of it like that. I believe that is one of the many reasons I like indoor cycling. Maybe there was a sport you loved to play as a kid; find the adult version. If you loved to dance, then try Zumba.

The key is to try various types of exercises and mix it up, so you don’t get bored. Find a workout that when you are done, you think to yourself, wow I did that! Feel empowered! Find something that you can do. Keep trying different workouts till you find the one or better yet two you like.

I teach Pilates and fitness to people of all levels and abilities. We find out what they like and set a goal. Together, we customize a program that works, challenges them, and encourages them!

Improving your physical well-being will improve your mental well-being, your relationships, and makes you feel good about yourself. Creating an exercise habit is the perfect way to achieve these benefits.

Don’t Sabotage Your Workout!

 

Common Workout Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

 

Mistake #1 – Too much cardio.

Many people think they need only a cardiovascular exercise program. Strengthen training is also important especially when you consider we start losing muscle at around age 30. Strength training builds muscles, which in turn increases your metabolism and burns more calories.

I am not saying cardio workouts are not important, they are and I love them! But there is a more efficient way to do them. You need to shock your body! Look for something more than just the treadmill or the elliptical and mix things up. Try something fun and new (kickboxing, circuit training, sprints, or play a new sport) and continue to switch things up to keep your body guessing. By lowering the amount of traditional steady state cardio, and replacing it with higher intensity and shorter duration exercise, you will actually improve your hormonal state and your body’s ability to burn fat and build lean muscle.

Mistake #2 – Doing the same thing everyday.

Variety is the spice of life! Different workouts keeps life interesting and keeps your body guessing, plus no one wants to get stuck in a rut. So what’s wrong with doing the same exercise routine, day in and day out anyways? You’re working the same muscles, going at the same speed, and once you get in shape you no longer breathe heavily, the muscles become very efficient. They expend less energy, and you burn fewer calories. You cease to make progress. This does not mean you can’t do the exercises you like frequently, just not everyday. Try to mix it up by changing how much weight, pace, or even type of exercise.

Mistake #3 – Not stretching.

Unfortunately, we spend way too much time sitting throughout the day. This leads to specific structural changes throughout the body, such as tight hip flexors, tight pecs and tight cervical extensors (the muscles in the back of your neck). At a minimum, everyone should stretch these particular muscles out to maintain and restore proper range of motion. Neglecting these problem areas will almost inevitably lead to pain in your back, shoulders and neck. In addition, after working out your muscles and joint become tight, stretching these out help alleviate lactic acid in your muscles and expedites the recovery process.

Mistake #4 – Learning by copying others.

Proper form is essential for most exercises. Done incorrectly, virtually any exercise can lead to injury. And at best, you’ll end up with inferior results. So, make sure you get some guidance on how to perform each exercise correctly. The better your form, the more effective your workout will be, and the faster you’ll see results. One of the key ingredients of proper form is to engage the correct muscle to their full potential. This requires some mental focus, and not just half-heartedly going through the motions. Everyone should work with a trainer at one point, to learn proper exercise technique and program-design strategies. This investment will ensure that you’re working in a way to maximize your strength and gains, while minimizing your risk of injuries.

Mistake #5 – Over-thinking if I should workout.

That moment when are you lying in bed thinking should you or shouldn’t you workout today? Don’t think, just do! Get up and start moving. You don’t have to go 100% all out every day, in fact you shouldn’t. Just move your body! Focus on how you will feel after you complete a workout. Think about the positive affects it has on your health. When you workout it releases endorphins that make you feel good. Who doesn’t want to feel good?! Everybody has days that they don’t feel like working out, but honestly those are the days you need it the most!

Healthy Turkey Chili

Ok, honestly I am not the biggest cook. So, I tend to find recipes that include “simple” or “easy” and always “healthy” in the title.

Chili is a dish I love. It feels you up with protein and fiber and keeps well in your fridge. I have tried several different turkey chili recipes and found this one and it is my favorite! I can make a pot on Sunday and have several lunches or dinners for the week. In one cup serving it contains 39 grams of protein!  Try this recipe, you will not be disappointed!

Turkey Chili

 Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs 99% fat-free ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes, no-salt added
  • 1 (15 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, no-salt added
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I used Texas Pete)
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, no-salt added, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 packet Stevia
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Drizzle olive oil in a large pot and saute onion and garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook until crumbled and brown, draining excess liquid as necessary.
  2. Add all the rest of the ingredients and cook on medium/low heat for about an hour. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Serving Size: 1 cup • Calories: 264 • Fat: 2.5 g • Carbs: 19.2 g • Fiber: 5.8 g • Protein: 39.7 g

New Year. New You!

Steps to successfully completing your health and fitness goals this year!

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Happy New Year!  This is the time of year that everyone wants to set their resolutions or goals for the upcoming year. The majority of the time when people set resolutions, they don’t accomplish them.  Mostly because they set themselves up for failure. They don’t have the correct structure or process. So how can you set a health and fitness goal that you can accomplish?  What is the process that leads to success? Here are my key steps to being successful in your goal setting this year!

Step 1. Be specific. To set a health and fitness goal you need to be specific.  Don’t just say I want to lose weight, instead use, “I want to lose 20 pounds.”  Don’t say, “I want to run more,” instead use “I want to run a 10K,” or “I want to run a half marathon.”  Maybe you just want to get in better shape or stay healthy, then make a goal to workout 3 days a week for 45 minutes.  Then make another goal half way through the year to workout 5 days a week for 45 minutes. Our brains don’t process things that are vague, so clearly identify your goals with what, when, and how.

Step 2. Write it down.  Something awesome happens when you write down your goals. Not typing it in your phone or iPad, but physically write it down on paper. It takes it from your brain and starts the process of making it a reality.  Write your goals down and place  them somewhere you can see it every day so they are consistently present in your mind. Personally, I like to set my goals by the side of my bed so when I wake up in the morning, there it is – my goals!  It starts my day with motivation, focus, and excitement.

Step 3. Accountability. You need accountability to be successful. Unfortunately, we can easily let ourselves off the hook, saying things like: I can miss class today or I will walk tomorrow instead of today. But if you are meeting a friend at a workout class or for a walk you wouldn’t let them down, because they’re your friend and they’re counting on you, this is accountability. Someone that can keep you accountable could be an online group where you have to check in, a friend who will keep you accountable, a coach, or a teacher. Let this person know your goals and your plan then ask them to help you stay accountable. And even better if you can find a friend who is also setting health and fitness goals.

Step 4. Diet plan.  It is important if you are setting a health and fitness goal that there is a diet plan portion.  They say that fitness is 80% what you eat. Personally I don’t “diet”.  I eat healthy because I love it, it makes me feel good.  I haven’t always had a healthy diet, but step by step I changed my diet and my taste buds.  Now I crave healthy options instead of unhealthy ones.  Start by finding a diet structure that works for you. One of my favorites is not eating any carbs after 4pm.  Not a huge diet change but something that will make a big difference.  There is so many options and resources to finding a diet plan that works for you and doesn’t make you hate it. Because it you hate it, you won’t do it. You can always take it step by step.

Step 5. Set real and tangible goals. Don’t set a goal to lose 100 pounds in one month.  First of all, it isn’t safe and it isn’t tangible.  Set a goal to lose 5 pounds in a month, then set another goal to lose another 5 pounds the next month.  Don’t set a goal that you are setting yourself up for failure, set one that you know if you work at it you can do it.

Step 6. Come outside your comfort zone. Yes your goal should be tangible but they should also be outside your comfort zone and scares you in a good way.  In a way that you say to yourself this is so cool and it would be amazing if I could do this. And yes you can!

Step 7. Have a reasonable time frame. Goals should be fast approaching, 1 to 3 months.  A goal much farther than that seems to out of reach and chances of you procrastinating are high.  Set a goal in January for February or March.  Then in April set another goal for 2-3 months out and so on. Also, it is super important to put an exact date.  You must know what it takes first before you set your time frame.  For example, one pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories, so if burn 500 calories a day you can lose 1 pound of fat in 7 days. Or if you want to run a marathon and currently you aren’t running more than 5 miles at a time, then allow time to build up to the 26.2 miles.

Now you are ready! Set your goals and make 2016 amazing!