Maureen's Blog

Can You Do It Forever?

If it's not sustainable, it's questionable. Period. You can cut through most of the programs out there by simply asking yourself this question. Can I do it forever? And it's the key to finding longevity.

This is how I really should answer 90% of the diet and nutrition questions I get on a regular basis. It doesn't matter what I think... and it really doesn't even matter if it works... what matters is can you actually do it for the long-haul?

I get that sometimes tight deadlines like a wedding or a vacation come up and extreme results call for extreme measures- no doubt about that. I'll also concede that sometimes it's really great to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and try something new or super intense, even if you're not planning on doing it forever.

But the only thing we really know for sure about diet and exercise is that long-term compliance is the most important factor when it comes to getting results and most importantly maintaining them.

Muscle isn’t built in one rep, endurance isn’t gained in one run, power isn’t obtained in one jump.  It takes thoughtful persistence, meaningful dedication, calculated consistency and a positive attitude.  Rep after rep, step after step, jump after jump, bite after bite, that’s what leads to achieving your goals. Small continuous steps = lasting results. The finish line for movement and eating is at the end of your life.

So...Can you do it forever?


Getting lasting results in anything is a lifetime commitment. If a program is not sustainable over the long-term (your whole life) then what are you getting from it? The YoYo effect.  EVERYTHING works while you’re committed to doing it, and EVERYTHING stops working when you stop.

If you’re going to lose weight very fast and then gain it back because you can’t sustain your quick weight loss, you’re destined to continuously spend money looking for the next best magic solution and buying various sizes of pants.

If you’re spending time counting calories and macros, setting a reminder to eat or waiting to eat, restricting yourself from enjoying real food because you’re eating from a packet or drinking a processed solution, then you’re taking the humanity and enjoyment out of food and taking away the true joy in the sustenance of life.

Food should be, at all times, a joy. When you bite into an apple, you should taste the apple and want to turn to the person next to you and tell them how good it is. When you slice open a lemon, you should close your eyes and smell the fragrance. When your neighbor is grilling, you should try to guess what it is and you should want to invite yourself over to share it or grill at that very second too. Food is life-giving and social. Everything real that’s grown from the ground is a miracle and you GET to eat it.

You are not a chart on a paper. You are so much more than numbers on a scale. Please don’t define your day by numbers on a food plan, or counting calories or macros.

Live your life by enjoying your food....Preparing your food....Sharing your food with others. It should nourish you. It should taste good. It should be simple. It should be REAL. It should be enough.

Buy ingredients, not a program. You didn’t gain the weight in a month, you shouldn’t and can’t sustain losing it in a month. Eat real food.

For sure, you can do a reset. You can completely avoid alcohol, sugar, soda, French fries, cigarettes. But you can’t give up food. So if food is your addiction, then try your best to eat the real deal, even if it’s too much, at least it grew from a seed or cell and wasn’t created from a chemical in a factory.

Teach your children that food is nourishment too.  Did you know that we are one of the only countries in the world that offers children a different menu (a happy kid's meal) than the one adults get to choose from?  Their food is always brown and always supposed to be "fun".  Fried chicken shapes, pasta, pizza, hot dog, corn dog, burger.  Is that what you would order for yourself? (Ok if the answer is yes, you have got to change that. There is a BIG world out there.) Help your child order from the adult menu and share it with them.  It's too much for you, too.

Food is to be enjoyed. Enjoy means not in a glutinous way where you have to go lay down because it was so good you just stuffed yourself and now you feel sick. The taste of food is to be enjoyed.

If you’re trying to complicate the issue by always looking for “the secret”, then you want instant gratification, not a lifetime commitment.

Live your life making your own food, feeding yourself, and sharing food with others. Teach yourself and your family to cook.  I asked a question to one of our students the other day...I said, "Would you give up eating with your parents every Friday in order to be skinny?' It took her 1 second to say no.  So I ask you, would you give up having dinner with family or lunch with an old friend or a date with your significant other in order to be skinny?  I didn't think so.  So in order to achieve your goals you have to decide WHAT to eat. EAT REAL FOOD.

I love that Kate moved home for her job.  I LOVE Thursday morning when we get to have breakfast together before she leaves.  It's not just food.  It is eating together. And it is also a day I can spoil her with something healthy that she doesn't have to fix herself. Food is love. I used to think food was love when I toasted them a Toaster Strudel when they were little.  To know better is to do better.  Now it is an egg, oatmeal, chia pudding, coconut chocolate pudding, Ezekiel French toast, a green smoothie or protein pancakes. Thursdays rock.

I will go to the end of my days knowing you will not become obese eating too many bananas, too many apples, too many avocados. Stop over-analyzing fruit, or the fat in coconut. Avoid food that was tampered with to make it low fat, or food created completely inside of a building.

My favorite quote finds balance...“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” ~ Michael Pollan 

I'd love to change that to say, "Eat REAL food. Not too much. Mostly plants. For enjoyment."

Consistency is Everything

There are lots of emotive schemes in fitness that make it difficult to discern the truth from fantasy. They feed on your desire to see results fast.  You know the ones I’m referring to…the secret-formula weight loss pills, the 5-minute gut-buster workouts that give you a six-pack or the delicious and nutritious chocolate shakes that practically melt fat away, etc., etc.

And then there are all of the rules.... It feels like a slippery slope beneath your feet. Should I time my feedings and weigh every ounce of food? Should I do slow and low cardio or WOD’s? Do I eat carbs or fat or neither or BOTH? Do I only lift weights and never touch a bike again? Do I only do HIIT sprints for 20 minutes? What if I don’t want to drink a green smoothie every day? And what if I can’t sleep? Do I supplement? Do I do more yoga, but not at night or only at night? The daily attempts to be our best healthy selves can be full of overwhelm, frustration and intermittent results. 

This dissatisfaction with our efforts to better ourselves is universal with most American adults. "All this and the scale hasn't budged!"  It gets so frustrating to try to "be perfect" and not feel perfect. 

Instead I want you to step back a second and instead of trying to be perfect, I want you to be honest.  How CONSISTENT are you?  It's not about the 7 day detox or the 21 day fix of the Whole 30.  It is about living your life in the most steady state.  Can you MAINTAIN what you're doing?  (Balance is hard.  Holidays are fun, but hard.) Are you able to give yourself a pass and get back on track and stay consistently there? 

When I ask if you can maintain what you're doing that also goes for unhealthy behavior like staying up too late, drinking too much, exercising too heavily, being online too much.  Can you MAINTAIN what you're doing or will you eventually run out of steam? A 7 day detox isn't built for maintenance so don't pretend that you will be able to do this forever and it will make you perfect. And 21 days is just that. 21 days.  Did you gain weight for only 21 days? Those programs are kick starts or challenges. You won't find perfect in 21 days. You actually won't ever find perfect.  But you can find health though in 1 step forward EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Don't give yourself a finish line of when this is going to be over.  Plan to live your healthiest life FOREVER starting today. Just keep stepping forward.

My years of leading exercise has provided many moments of authentic joy and happiness with how well we can move and small victories in accomplishments after consistently showing up. Stepping into the gym more than once a week, more than twice a week.  Consistency sneaks up on you.  All of a sudden you're doing a pull up, or a handstand, or a bridge.  When I see you move now, I am astounded at how strong you are. That didn't happen overnight  Many people that pop into the 7:30 class for a makeup or because that's the only time available that day, say "That's NOT LITE!"  You're damn right, it's not.  I can't hold them back because they show up every day.  They're strong now! The LITE time slot moves equally as well as other classes.  Does that mean that a person can't still regress an exercise to make that class LITE? There is always a lighter weight or a smaller movement. And in other classes, some days you just need to move for the sake of movement.  It's a victory to get there, walk through the door and show up, but the key is that you keep showing up. Consistency, not a quick fix, is everything.

December 2017

When a new student comes to The Fitness Bar, as they fill out their waiver, I ask them to tell me a little about their fitness history.  Some say I was a college athlete, or I was a dancer, or I was a runner, or I was a former _____, or "I used to be skinny".  And then most of the time, they tell me that they have taken a decades long break, or they had an injury, or they had 3 babies, just lost 80 lbs or just recently recovered from a surgery.  We all have a history of when we felt young and agile and at the top of our game and we also have a time when we just weren't able to commit to ourselves. It is the ebb and flow of life.

Sometimes you have more time to be outside in the summer and want to go to class in the winter or could be just the opposite.  Sometimes there's a new romantic interest to keep you from exercise and sometimes there is a fresh break that leads you to find out who you were before. Sometimes you have a baby or have kids who are in everything, and sometimes you have an empty nest. We all have times when we need to recommit and times we have to put others in front of ourselves.

An article from the New York Times reminded me that we ALL have a history, as do our parents. We couldn't have known them when they were at their youthful prime. But maybe you were lucky enough to know them when they had fitness and movement later in life. Avid walkers or yogis or even have become cyclists!  If you are lucky enough to be able to run or workout with your parent, Yay! Amazing! and Congratulations! If you are lucky enough to be able to workout with your child or spouse or sibling, Yay! Go you! Maybe you play golf or tennis with a family member, or maybe you dance like crazy on the Wii together and maybe, just maybe you come to The Fitness Bar together.  I have had the pleasure of meeting sooooooo many of your family members when you are so proud to show them where you workout or how capable and badass you are. Keep inviting!  I love to know your families. I feel lucky to get to have Kate and John in class and when I visit Patrick, take a class. 

This holiday season, give the gift of health and togetherness.  Take a walk together, take a class together, come to Happy Hour Yoga, play a pick up basketball game, or run a 5K with your family. Invite them. You never know where it might lead. The old self might come back.  Maybe you will see the twinkle return to your parent's eye or maybe your kids will see yours. 

November 2017

The month we specifically focus on gratitude.  I like finding something in every day to be grateful for and not just save it all up for November.

We are also entering the season of food. Comfort food, holiday food, baked goods from neighbors and coworkers, and lots of parties add up to a LOT of guilt and self punishment.  How many minutes of vigorous exercise do you think you’d have to perform to burn off the calories from three cookies? Who cares. That’s a silly question. Three homemade cookies have 539.71 calories. You’d had to do a gazillion burpees and sprint for 29 minutes to burn it off.

You’ve probably seen charts corresponding to the most recent holiday-time treats that show the amount of calories for certain foods and how many minutes of certain exercises you’d have to perform to burn it off. “You ate it, now here is what you have to do to burn it off.  In this sense, exercise is punishment for eating. You have to earn or work off your treats and meals. No. Just no. You are not a dog dancing to deserve a treat.

Exercise is Not Punishment

Moving your body should never be done as punishment and you do not have to earn your food. 

Your pre-Thanksgiving workout is not done for the sake of burning calories. It should be done because you have the day off of work and it is like recess! You GET to play with people you really like!

Come to a class with your friend!  We have 3 on Thanksgiving morning.  Find a Turkey Trot.  Go on a walk with a family member because you know it’s good to move your body and you might get a few minutes of alone time in the fresh air and sunshine. Take your dog out because they need it, too!

You should always move your body because it is like taking a vitamin.  You know it is good for you and you need it.  Not because it is a punishment for food. 

Holidays should be business as usual following an eating style that works for you with a delicious homemade treat and then also move your body in a way that you enjoy. 

And how about instead of panicking over how many calories we’ll consume on Thanksgiving and causing ourselves unnecessary stress we, instead, are grateful we have an abundance of food to enjoy and people to share it with. Let’s get absorbed in the moment when everyone is around the table talking, laughing, and doing the goofy things that makes your family unique (we all have them!). Stop obsessing over how many carbs you’re eating and eat how you generally eat.  Rainbow? Protein? Water? Some red wine? A homemade treat your mom made? And then immerse yourself in the moment and bask in the glow of each other on this holiday. 

We would be best served to not obsess over a single meal and instead focus on what we do the other 364 days of the year because what we do on those days are what have the greatest impact; not Thanksgiving, no matter how large and calorie laden it may be. A few meals isn’t worth obsessing over. It’s the things we do over and over and over for the long-term that matter most.

October 2017

Whenever you start a new month, you feel like it is a chance to start fresh.  Each month, each week, each day gives you a new beginning. You can reset your mind, your diet, your exercise plan and your stress level.  It's all about finding balance. This newsletter comes a day late because I was in California visiting my kids. That is my rest and recharge.  When we "get the band back together" that is my happy balance.

 

Find your balance this month.  Hopefully you enjoyed Corn Festival and are ready to jump back on the wagon of healthy living. It is getting dark earlier so you can get to bed! It makes every day easier if you aren't tired.  See you tomorrow!

MindsetNutritionMovementRecovery 

These four life components are simple, yet universal. They are essential at a minimum for survival. They are also the keys to living your best life. With these four "buckets", we can categorize everything we do.

MINDSET

Mindset is the outlook we have and our awareness of thoughts that impact our actions. Believe you can and you're half way there. When we encourage ourselves, using positive talk, our bodies will be more prepared to do what it takes, even if that means learning new things. If you say, I WANT to learn to golf, and you're excited about it, you will find success!  If you say, I SHOULD learn how to golf, but don't really have your heart and mind in it, then you will hate it. I want to learn to play the piano, swim, or sew. How bad do you want to? Or do you feel like you are supposed to?

Same with:

I want to eat better.  I should eat better.

I want to go to bed early.  I should go to bed early.

I want to stay home tomorrow.  I should stay home tomorrow.  

If you "want" to, you will have more success than if you "should".

Almost all of our daily actions are driven by habits. In order to change those habits, we must be aware of our mind and body to know what triggers our good and bad habits.

Our state of mind is also important in high stress situations.  Road rage, walking behind someone slow in the grocery, slow children, or patience in listening to a story.

Once we have the right mindset, we greatly increase our ability to change behavior in the three other categories. 

NUTRITION

Nutritious foods are what fuel our mind and bodies. If we think about which food, drink, and supplements optimize our bodies and encourage long-term health, it becomes clear what we need to eat. In fact, recent studies suggest that the mind-body-gut connection is more important than we realize. It is a leading factor in both mental and physical well being. What we eat can directly correlate with our waistline, chronic inflammation and our emotional state. This doesn't just affect what people can see.  It's not about vanity, it is about your organ health, inflammation in the brain, and detoxing through digestion. It is THE most important thing in your body living it's most optimal life.  We know this because the way food affects your skin, sinuses, and stomach lining with food you are allergic to. SO if you know your body reacts instantaneously to allergans, what about chemicals in processed food or fried food and no produce? 

MOVEMENT

We move to survive and we move to thrive. Rather than limiting our thoughts about exercise to be more attractive, we should ask ourselves several questions that pertain to life in general: How prepared are we to move pain-free? What are the general movements we need to live? How can I be ready to say yes to anything I want to do?  By answering these questions, we have a better understanding why we need to move and be stronger. This also leads to a healthier and less painful way of living. Movement IS life!

RECOVERY

The mind and body must have time to recover in order to adapt to the demands we endure in life and in training. Imagine we have a bucket for all our stressors. Every day we add stressors like work, commuting, managing money, relationships, exercise and the list goes on. Some stressors, like exercise, are good for us because they encourage our bodies to adapt and become stronger. If, however, we don't give ourselves time to recover, our bodies will not repair and improve. In essence, recovery activities act as a valve that releases stress from our bucket. If you on;y fill your bucket with stress and never empty the bucket, it become heavier than we can handle. The more we hone in on the quality of our recovery, the more effective we become at releasing stress. That's why recovery activities, like sleep, quiet meditation, deep tissue work like massage, enjoying time with loved ones, and being thankful are essential to improving our life and our bucket. I take Restorative Sunday pretty seriously. I haven't always been able to with kids, but I always felt the weight because I needed it! If you can't take a day, make sure to find an hour or two that you can restore your mind and body.  Massage, acupuncture or even a pedicure can make you feel restored.

CONCLUSION

All levels of human existence require these four elements. They are essential to survival as well as our happiness. By categorizing our activities into mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery we can develop awareness for what matters most. Once you identify your priorities you can focus on attacking the things that matter most, one at a time. 

September 2017

Eeyore or Tigger?

Optimism is part genetic, part learned. So if you were born into a family of Eeyores, you can still find your inner Tigger. Optimism doesn’t mean ignoring the reality of a dire situation. After a job loss, for instance, many people may feel defeated and think, “I’ll never recover from this.” An optimist would acknowledge the challenge in a more hopeful way, saying, “This is going to be difficult, but it’s a chance to rethink my life goals and find work that truly makes me happy.”

While it sounds trivial, thinking positive thoughts and surrounding yourself with positive people really does help. Dr. Steven Southwick, a psychiatry professor at Yale Medical School and Dr. Charney’s co-author, notes that optimism, like pessimism, can be infectious. His advice: “Hang out with optimistic people.” excerpt from the New York Times

Did he say hang out with optimistic people??? Have you ever noticed how differently your day goes if you hang out with someone that is eternally optimistic of if you hang out with someone that complains and is negative all the time? Most of us have at least one friend who brightens up the room with an infectious smile and upbeat outlook. When you think of him or her, can you cannot help but smile yourself. The reason for this is that emotions can be physically contagious. You can catch their vibe while with them.  So that means you can also become a complainer with them...

Try for one day, one week, one month to stop complaining. We gave up sugar for a month. We ate vegetables for a month.  Can we give up complaining for a month?

Find the best in the weather, your family, your coworkers, and your workout.  Appreciate your food, the song on the radio, or the sheets on your bed.  Instead of complaining about how overwhelmed you are, tell yourself how lucky you are to have so many choices in your life. 

Instead of complaining about your workout instructor, the temperature, excessive planks, or the music, instead thank the universe for the opportunity to move;be thankful for your ears to be able to hear the music, and grateful for air conditioning and heat. (Sorry, planks are non negotiable.)  Instead of worrying about the opinion of the person across the room, or comparing yourself to them, use them as motivation. Instead of complaining about your sore knee, remember that the other knee is better than it was last year.

Find your inner Tigger.  He has more fun and probably burns waaaaaaaaaaay more calories in the process.

August 2017

When Life Closes a Door, Open it Again.  

That's How Doors Work.

Reflect back in your childhood memories of starting a new school year. Walking into that new classroom door might have made you feel a little older, a little apprehensive, a little excited, and hopefully optimistic.  Did your new clothes feel new?  Did your new notebook and sharpened pencils make you feel smart? Did you tell yourself that this year was going to be different, that you would try harder, stay on top of it, and commit to your best abilities?

August might still make you feel that way as an adult.  You may have had too much fun over the summer.  You may have let your workout commitment wane. You may have lost your "why".

Recommit to your "why".  Why do you want to feel more confident? More mobile?  Why do you want to hang around with healthy people that have similar similar goals? Why do you want to feel stronger? Why do you want a good habit and routine? Why do you want to just feel better?

So pack your lunch, go to bed early and walk through that door to find a healthier you. Don't let a week off turn into a month off, turn into a year off, turn into 6 years off. Everyone can use a break sometimes. But if you are afraid to restart and you are afraid to walk through the door because you've been gone too long, don't be. ALL of us will welcome you with open arms and a few burpees.  Let this August be a "new school year"  for you and make it feel like a New Year/New You again.  

 

July 2017

Treat the soil, not the plant.

I read this sentence recently in an article from the Cleveland Clinic. And it really resonates with me.  So many times we try to fix what is broken instead of figuring what broke it in the first place.  If we keep fixing a window, but don't trim the tree limb that keeps blowing into it in the wind, then we will FOREVER be repairing the window. If we leave the window open and complain about the flys and mosquitos in the house, we better close the window.

Find the cause and tend your "soil" instead of complaining that you don't know why your "plant" looks so bad. Instead of being forever on a diet, tend to the underlying factors.  What does your pantry look like? How much are you sleeping?  What are you drinking? How much packaged and fast food are you eating? How much produce are you eating? Are you sabatoging yourself by buying junk for your family? And how much and how well are you moving?

Fertilize your soil with proper sleep, plenty of water, sunlight (Vit. D), exercise, and nourishing plant food, then watch how much energy you have! Instead of feeling sluggish and wilted, you will feel younger and stronger.

 

Here is the excerpt that got me thinking.  

Studies show diet, exercise, thoughts, feelings, and environmental toxins all influence the "soil" called the body.

If a nutrient-poor diet full of sugar, lack of exercise, chronic stress, persistent pollutants, and heavy metals can cause cancer, could it be that a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet, physical activity, changing thoughts and reactions to stress, and detoxification might treat and replenish and repair the garden in which cancer grows?

In other words, treat the soil, not the plant. It is a foundational principle of sustainable agriculture, and of sustainable health.

We can enhance immune function and surveillance through dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as nutrient and phytonutrient therapies. We can facilitate our body’s own detoxification system to promote the elimination of carcinogenic compounds. We can improve hormone metabolism and reduce the carcinogenic effects of too much insulin (more on that in a minute) from our high sugar and refined carbohydrate diet.

We can also alter how our genes are expressed by changing the inputs that control that expression: Diet, nutrients, phytonutrients, toxins, stress, and other sources of inflammation. And we can focus on less divisive and more generative thoughts that, in turn, create more uplifting emotions — all good fertilizer for the soil in the garden of our body.

June 2017

I have a quote from JK Rowling on my mirror at home. It's been taped there for a decade. It catches my eye when I am getting ready in the morning.  I am not just reading it to remind myself that my daughter is enough, but also that I am.

"I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny—a thousand things, before 'thin.' 

Of course it feels good to go down a size in clothing or to have your clothing fit looser as opposed to not fitting at all.  But please lose weight for your health first.  Workout for your health first.  Don't do it because you are supposed to be thin or you're supposed to belong to a gym.  Do it because your quality of life depends on it. Do it because your vital organs matter. You don't want to live on medication to fix your health issues.  Your ability to move easily and get off the floor easily is more important.  To be able to say yes easily and yes to everything, matters more than your clothing size. 

May 2017

May feels new.  New temperatures, new flowers, new mulch, new grass, new circumstances, new life.  But have you ever felt like you are stuck in your old circumstances? As Billy Joel sings... "I never said I was a victim of circumstance." Don't let yourself be a victim of your circumstances.  You can change.

No one can force you to make decisions and take actions that run contrary to your own values and aspirations.  The life you are living today is your own. You create it.  Likewise, your future is up to you too!  If you are feeling stuck, start to take a few small risks.  Not big scary risks, but try something new, anything new! It is always better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than at the top of a ladder where you feel stranded and have nowhere to go.  Take a chance on starting over, learning something new or beginning a life that you have always wanted to live. Make sure exercise and eating right are in that life!

I had a friend tell me that they have given up drinking for the last 3 months.  They told me that they weren't an alcoholic or anything, they just always went out every weekend.  He said, I cannot believe how good I feel on weekend mornings now.  I get up and go lift and I am not hung over.  It makes me want to do everything better, eat better, and even clean my house.  

New starts aren't always smooth or easy though.  I won't sugar coat that.  Maybe you've given up smoking and actually gained weight.  Or maybe you've given up sugar and are not feeling the difference in your clothes yet.  Give it time.  Your lungs and liver and gut will thank you. You shower regularly because you want to appear clean to friends and family, but what if they could see you from the inside out.  Would you be proud of what you're doing to your insides?  Think of the long term health of your whole body, not just the vanity of looking different, better or thin on the outside.  You are what you eat...and drink...and smoke...and do. But remember to be honest with yourself.  "I don't eat that bad!" (except for when I am going out for dinner every night and have lots of celebrations or exceptions, and kind of party a lot) Or "I work out every day and haven't seen a single change!"   (except I don't like anyone to push me out of my comfort zone or to really sweat when I am there)  

Everyone would love a magical easy solution to make things new and clean.  I would love to have all of the extra clutter we have accumulated for 25 years out of my house.  But if I REALLY wanted it gone, I would do it. If you want to learn to play the piano, you better have a piano. If you want to move better, come to class.  If you want to change your eating, throw away the junk.  It doesn't matter if you paid good money to buy the junk.  Throw it away or give it away like you mean it.

New feels so good.

April 2017

"Life is not about being perfect. I think in a way, we find confidence by realizing that we belong to other people, and we’re all in it together." Jamie Tworkowski

Having others in your life is critical. The biggest foe of happiness may simply be loneliness. Loneliness leads to depression, a debilitating condition that affects an incredible number of people, globally.  Depression leads to filling the void another way, like alcohol, food, drugs, or other destructive behaviors. If you are lonely, I guarantee that if you start coming to class with us, you will no longer feel lonely.  You have to put yourself out there. The only thing we ask is to smile and be open to being a partner, or being in a station with someone else, and we will take it from there.  

One of my favorite things that happens in class is when someone comes in in one state-of-mind and leaves in a better one. One day Kelly Dodge came in and said, "I am in such a bad mood! I am so crabby! I hate it!" So I said to the class...We are on a mission to change Kelly's mood today, people.  Like it's your job. Let's do it!

Togetherness is why group fitness works.  By being a part of a group setting, you are not just getting a workout. You are filling your essential human desire of being with others.  You may live or work in a stressful environment.  You may not technically BE alone, if you are at work all day as a teacher or boss or parent, you may just FEEL alone and you may find great solice in being in a low stress environment and having someone else make a few decisions for you.  

By showing up to a class and having someone else decide something for you, also reduces stress.  The feeling of being guided to a happier place with people through a common goal is true happiness. TEAM Mentality.  It is healthier for mind, body and spirit. Maybe it's the music, maybe it is the friendships, maybe it is the instructor's motivation, maybe someone simply noticed you, but whatever it is, ultimately it is because we all have the feeling of being together and being a part of something greater.    

March 2017

If you're lucky enough to move your body, you are lucky enough!

So many of you say to me "I feel so lucky to have found The Fitness Bar."  Or another text I love is when college kids go back to school or someone moves away and they write back to say, "Everyone is so lucky to have FitBar back home.  It's not the same here!"

Sometimes it is easy to start to take your situation for granted.  We get spoiled or bored in life without ever really taking a second to say, "Wow! My life is so good! I have interesting classes, and people I like to work out with, and instructors that know my name and really care about me."  It is easy to fall into a negative mindset sometimes and think, the scale won't move, or the music wasn't perfect, or it wasn't hard enough, easy enough, or exciting enough. We are always responsible for what we bring to the table or the mat.  If you walk in with one thought in your head each time you show up for a class... "Wow am I lucky!"  Your whole experience will be better.  

Not everyone has the means you have, or the body you have, or the bravery you have. Some people are paralyzed at the thought of trying a new class or wearing work out clothes in public. Some people physically cannot move or have an injury or chronic pain.  Some people are working so many jobs and have people at home counting on them and they cannot possibly give an hour to themselves. And some people just make bad choices.  They choose sitting or drinking or any other addiction over healthy movement.

You are lucky.

So from now on, walk into any room, not just the gym, and say to yourself...

"Wow, am I lucky"  and mean it.  It will change your life.

February 2017

February focuses on the commercial side of Valentine's Day. Cards at school, flowers, gifts and candy from a significant other, treats at work...but what about you and your relationship with yourself?

Do you like you? Have you checked in lately to see how the real you is doing? 

Here are a couple of things to do to take care of yourself and frankly, just make you feel better...

  1. Spend some time alone this month. Turn off your computer, shut down the social media and go to a movie alone, or your favorite restaurant, or a museum that no one else appreciates as much as you do. Plan a vacation or weekend away ALONE! Take a class and learn something completely new. (Cooking, auto repair, ballroom dancing, golf, world religions...) Go for a walk without your dog, just your thoughts to keep you company. Give yourself a second to think. Grab a pencil and start to write.
  2. Put a note on your mirror in the morning that pays you a compliment.  If you can't come up with one, ask your closest friend, sister or mom to give you one. Read it every time you look in the mirror.
  3. Find a poem or quote you like that represents you and frame it as a gift to yourself. I had a favorite poem framed when I was in 8th grade and I read it everyday for years while doing my Farrah Fawcett hair.  I still remember it.  If you remember always, there's no goal you can't acheive, If you try your very hardest and above all else believe, Believe you're a person who has something good to give, Believe that you can make this world a better place to live, If you believe you're needed and that others like you too, then you're sure to find there is nothing in this world you cannot do.
  4. Shift your focus. Try for one month to never use the word HATE.  "You know what I hate...?" or "Oh God, I hate that."  Instead say, "You know what I LOVE...?
  5. Write a love letter to someone.  It doesn't have to be romantic, that's too obvious. When I was teaching Kindergarten, I had all of the parents write a love letter to their child. I took each child aside and read it to them and they were beaming while listening to their parents words.  Some even wiped tears away.  It was VERY emotional for the parents too. They said "WOW that was one of the easiest and hardest things I have ever had to do."  They saved them and I am suspecting that they still have them. You will rock someone's world if you send them a letter telling them how much you love them, appreciate them, and feel about them. My daughter Kate did this in return in college to both John and me.
  6. Clean out what you are exposed to.  Yes, you can clean a closet, but try cleaning out your newsfeed or your Instagram or trashy magazines or movies or TV shows that are just junk that you are exposed to everyday.  Clean up your language. Get rid of the ugly. Why expose yourself to that?
  7. Try to keep a clean physical space.  If you respect your home and car and office, you feel better, more organized, and centered. Clean it. Then donate what someone else can use.
  8. Eat like you love yourself.
  9. Move like you love yourself.
  10. Sleep like you love yourself.

January 2017

As I reflect on this past year, I could share many MANY stories from all of you who stay after for a moment to share a story or tell me how you feel better or amazing or sometimes, feel discouraged.  I feel for your sadness and I jump for your joys.  We are not just ships passing in the night; we are connected through trying to feel healthier and be better human beings for our families and for our friends and ourselves.  

Here are a few examples of your shares:

  • One of you said that your son told you he's happy to see you go to class and exercise because you are a happier person when you come home.  
  • One said you are happier because your sister has adopted a healthier eating pattern because of what you have learned in class and taught her.
  • One of you said you come to class because it makes your daughter happier that she has someone to work out with.  
  • One of you said that you used to exclusively run, but since strengthening your whole body, you have felt younger and stronger and more capable and even recovered faster post marathon.
  • One of you said that you lost almost 50 lbs and it was such a gradual lifestyle change and that people don't even remember what you looked like before. 
  • One of you said you quit smoking!
  • One of you said your child has an autoimmune disease which also takes a toll on you and you are grateful for the supportive friendships and the movement of the class you're in.
  • Some of you have made new friends and hate missing a workout because you  will miss them!
  • Some of you are 5 sizes smaller and some have to buy new smaller pants.
  • Some of you are having babies, or waiting to adopt a baby, or are watching your grown children go to college.
  • Some of you are caring for loved ones and need the strength andrelease of movement and the ability to be around other healthy people.
  • Some of you just need an hour away from the house, and kids andparenthood.
  • Some of you are hurting.  Your knees, hips, shoulders, wrists, toes... We know that is no fun and we know you don't want to have to stop working out to have it taken care of.  You're afraid of starting over or losing your healthy habits.
  • One of you said your mom recently fell and is struggling and after caring for her, you never want to stop moving again and that you will workout for as long as you are able.
  • One of you said before working out you weren't able to get down and up from the floor and now you can.

We hear you.  We hear all of you.

We are not just "working out".  We are spiritual bodies having a human experience andthat human experience is more fun with others.  We are pushing ourselves to be better and we all have a different WHY. If you have lost your WHY, I encourage you to find your why again with us.

Why should you move better?  Why should you feel better?  Why should you look better?

Find your better.  Find your why.

Helpful Grocery List

People always ask me what they should be eating.  Here is a preliminary list of what I USUALLY buy.  Of course it all depends on what is in stock but here is a good base list. 

 

Grocery List

Basic fresh veggies and fruits

·         Apples            Oranges        

·         Lemons          Limes

·         Berries           Melon

·         Dates              Bananas

·         Cabbage         Brussels Sprouts                 

·         Carrots           Squash

·         Celery             Beets

·         Broccoli         Cucumbers

·         Kale                Spinach

·         Peppers          Sweet potatoes

·         Onions

·         Garlic

Grains and nuts

·         Steel-cut oats, or if you can’t find steel-cut, old-fashioned rolled oats

·         Quinoa. This grain is now easy to find in most grocery stores. It’s a wonderful complete grain that’s easy to cook.

·         Polenta

·         Brown rice

·         Ezekiel Sprouted-grain bread

·         Brown-rice pasta or quinoa pasta

·         Nut Butters

·         Raw nuts. Can’t find raw almonds or cashews? Try walnuts, which are almost always sold as raw in the first place.

·         Raw sunflower seeds

Freezer section

·         Frozen vegetables and berries. Cheaper and always ripe tasting since they are frozen at peak.

·         Frozen shrimp and/or salmon. Frozen fish is just fine if you don’t have access to fresh fish.

·         Ezekiel Breads 

Protein

·         Turkey or chicken breasts. Buy organic and antibiotic free if possible.

·         Lean ground beef or turkey. Buy organic, antibiotic and hormone-free whenever possible.

·         Turkey, beef, elk or bison jerky. Find a sugar-free, nitrate-free, soy-free brand

·         Canned or dried beans. Canned beans are convenient, but most can linings contain BPA. You can also soak and cook dried beans, which is economical.

·         Canned tuna and salmon(in water)

·         Unsweetened Almond milk

Refrigerator

·         Eggs

·         Kefir

·         Low sugar yogurt

·         Cottage Cheese

·         Parmesan Cheese

·         Real Butter

 Condiments and pantry items

·          Chicken, beef or vegetable stock or broth

·         Sea salt. These salts have a complete mineral profile compared to table salt, and one bag lasts forever. 

·         Balsamic vinegar

·         Apple Cider Vinegar

·         Cinnamon

·         Vanilla

·         Italian Seasoning

·         Chia Seeds

·         Flax Meal

·         Honey

·         Tamari Called for in many recipes as a seasoning for meats, tamari is a wheat-free, soy sauce and  it is fermented. Look for it in the Asian section of your store.

·         Olive oil. You can use other oils, but if you only want to buy one, go for extra-virgin olive oil.

·         Grape Seed Oil

·         Coconut Oil

 Nice-to-have extras

·         Coconut milk

·         Stevia

·         Tea

Key Lime Bites

Key Lime Pie Bites

I have attached the link to the original recipe.  I can never leave well enough alone so I used what I had instead.  I didn’t want to buy expensive shelled pistachios so I used roasted almonds.  I only had real limes but key limes are what is called for.  I added flax meal for more health benefits.

Ingredients (18 bites)

·      1 cup roasted almonds, walnuts or pistachios

·      1 cup flax meal

·      1 ½ c pitted dates

·      Juice of 3 limes and zest

·      More zest for cuteness

Instructions

1. Add nuts and dates and flax to a high-speed food processor. Process until all comes together in a ball (about 3 minutes.  I used “dough setting” for the last minute.)

2. With freshly washed hands, roll mixture into 18 balls and then roll in chopped nuts of choice.  I did not roll in nuts as you can see.  This is when I gently pressed onto a ginger cookie.

** Store in refrigerator for up to 1 month or longer in freezer. 

**I think you can buy key lime juice in the juice aisle if your store does not have Key limes.  It is by the lemon juice. Then just zest a regular lime if you want to be fancy. :)

Original:      http://www.thehealthymaven.com/2014/03/raw-key-lime-pistachio-bites.html

The Dose Makes the Poison

"The Dose Makes the Poison". I have this statement running through my head. At a seminar I attended recently on eating, this phrase caught my attention because of how true it is. Too much of ANYTHING can cause a problem. Too much food, too much alcohol, too much sugar, too much running, too much heat, ..."too much" is never ok. Caffeine has a lethal dose, aspirin has a lethal dose, mercury has a lethal dose, drugs have a lethal dose, even water has a lethal dose... it’s called drowning. It is the reason we get so scared of the news. We hear of chemical sweeteners causing cancer. In tests, lab rats are given near lethal doses of whatever they are testing. Yes, some things can cause cancer, some cause a heart to stop, some cause a seizure, etc. The tests are built to force the effect.

If you are overdoing anything it will cause problems in your body. What we are learning now is how sugar is affecting us....because...the dose makes the poison. It's not the one cookie you ate. It's not the one doughnut at breakfast. It's not the shot of coffee creamer. It's not the sweet poppyseed dressing on your salad at lunch. It's not the one granola bar for an afternoon snack. It's not the one soda pick-me-up in the afternoon. It's not the heaping tablespoon of brown sugar on your sweet potato for dinner. It is the compound effect. The cumulative total. Not the small dose each time you eat. The total from the day, week, month, year. The Dose Makes the Poison.

Mood Changer

Big Questions for a Thoughtful Friday:

If you have committed to exercise and are taking care of your body, mind and spirit... I mean you've really made it a priority in your life, have you noticed lately that you are in a better mood? You might not have even noticed without me asking you until now.

Have you had less down days? Have you had more social interactions? Have you felt included and part of a team? No risk of being cut? No risk of not getting invited? Have you put yourself out there more? Do you have more energy? Have you felt better about yourself? Have you said yes to other new things? New food choices? New thoughts even? More acceptance of other people? Did you notice none of this has anything to do with your clothes fitting better?

All of this is not a coincidence. Exercise does that. The Fitness Bar does that. You have done that. Welcome to the team! We're glad you're here!

Metabolism: Can you build it or change it?

Metabolism is such a buzz word and concern in the fitness world. "Can I build up my metabolism?" "I have a slow metabolism." "Can I change my metabolism?"

Resting metabolic rate is proportional to how much metabolically active tissue you carry on your body – and that means muscle. Hitting the heavy weights and increasing the size of your muscles will give your metabolism a boost. Ever wonder why men have a resting metabolic rate 10% higher than a woman? Simple, they have more lean body mass. One thing you can do to boost your resting metabolism is to train with weights or resistance bands to increase the amount of muscle you carry on your frame.

Yes, you burn more calories during steady-state aerobic exercise, but your metabolic rate returns to its resting rate once you stop. If you increase the intensity of your workout with high-intensity interval training, you get an added benefit, a temporary increase in your resting metabolism. High-intensity workouts require your body to work harder, and expend more energy, during the recovery period, what we think of as the after-burn effect. So, high-intensity exercise, both aerobic and resistance, is the key to maximizing your metabolism.