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  • WHY IS EATING UNHEALTHY SO BAD FOR US?

    By now, I’m sure you are aware that eating unhealthy is...well...unhealthy. Weight gain is the first thing people think about when it comes to eating unhealthy but that is just one of many many reasons and outcomes. Have you really thought about ALL the reasons why eating unhealthy is so “bad” for us? I want to help you truly understand why it is so important to adapt healthy eating habits and put weight gain as the “only” reason to the back of your head. My hope is by sharing the short term and long term risks of having unhealthy eating habits, you will be motivated to start making some changes. Even small changes will make MAJOR differences in your health which in turn affects how you feel emotionally and physically.

    Foods we eat are supposed to make us feel good. If you have stomach issues, trouble sleeping, fatigue, not thinking clearly, etc. - change how you eat can help resolve those issues.

    In a world of instant gratification, it is easy to not think about the long term effects of eating unhealthy foods. Heck, it’s easy to not think about the short term effects as well. At the end of the day - the ONLY way you are truly going to change your eating habits is if YOU want to feel better and live the healthiest life you can. Whether you know it and/or feel it or not - eating unhealthy IS NOT allowing you to feel your very best.

    I am not saying never to enjoy a treat here and there but it’s the daily habit of eating unhealthy foods that wreaks havoc on your body and mind.

    Junk food is considered something useless, extra or something that is not needed. What is considered “junk food” depends on who you ask. Whatever “label” you want to put on unhealthy foods, they all either offer little to zero nutritional value, are high in calories and fat and/or are high in sugar and/or sodium (salt). ALL will rear its ugly head at some point. Whether it’s fatigue, headaches, stomach issues, joint pain, inadequate sleep, etc. It will happen at some point. So why not prevent the inevitable? After all, at the end of the day, we all want to feel good, right? When we feel good on the inside, we feel good on the outside!!

    5 SHORT TERM EFFECTS OF EATING UNHEALTHY

    1. HEARTBURN AND INDIGESTION

    Heartburn is infamous for triggering burning sensations and pain in the chest area. Indigestion causes an experience of bloating, abdominal pain and/or vomiting. Both of these digestive problems can often be traced back to foods laced with grease and fat. Yes, that means the beloved french fries, pizza, hamburgers, chocolate, high-fat dairy, etc.

    2. DISRUPTED SLEEP

    Many people fall short of getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep and it is even harder to achieve when heartburn keeps rudely waking you up. Overnight heartburn can frequently be blamed on greasy and/or fatty meals eaten just before bedtime. In turn, this lack of sleep can make maintaining a healthy weight and active lifestyle more difficult.

    3. TOUGHER TIME EXERCISING

    It can quite a challenge to start exercising regularly, especially for those already leading a sedentary lifestyle. Poor eating habits are just another roadblock to getting yourself moving and grooving. When you are not feeling your best because of unhealthy eating habits, you are making it that much harder to adapt an active lifestyle.

    4. DECREASED BRAIN FUNCTION

    Studies have shown that just one week of eating junk food is enough to trigger memory impairment. Recent research suggests that bad fats (trans fats) from junk food tends to replace healthy fats in the brain and interferes with its normal signalling mechanism. Studies have also shown that fats from junk food slow down the ability to learn new skills.

    5. LACK OF ENERGY

    Everyday life can be challenging enough without battling fatigue throughout the day. If you are consuming too much sugar, this type of energy shortage could be a regular problem. Since so much junk food is loaded with sugar and very little if any nutrients, our body is forced to rapidly convert this incoming sugar into energy. Unfortunately, these sugar-fueled boosts are usually temporary, as this energy is quickly exhausted by the body’s metabolism. This brings in feelings of lethargy and sluggishness, the telltale signs of a “sugar crash.” Aside from these problems, a sugar crash can also interfere with concentration. If you eat unhealthy foods for most of your meals, over a period of time, you could be suffer from chronic fatigue. These foods can lower your energy levels to an extent that it may become difficult for you to even perform your daily tasks.

    7 LONG TERM EFFECTS OF EATING UNHEALTHY

    1. DIABETES

    One of major contributing factors for the emerging diabetes epidemic is unhealthy diet full of junk and fast food. When you eat a healthy diet, your body gets a steady supply of glucose, which helps maintain insulin sensitivity. On the other hand, when you eat only junk food, the excessive stress exerted on your metabolism affects the ability of your body to use insulin properly. Its consumption directly results in a spike in sugar levels.

    2. DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS

    Those who are addicted to fatty foods are bound to suffer from digestive problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The oil soaked in junk food gets deposited on the walls of the stomach lining, increases acid production. Spices loaded in them irritate the stomach lining, worsening GERD and digestion. Lack of fiber interrupts digestion, increasing problems like constipation and haemorrhoids.

    3. DEPRESSION

    A healthy diet plays an important role in maintaining hormonal balance. Since most unhealthy foods lack essential nutrients, the likelihood of one to suffer from depression is increased by 58 percent.

    4. HEART DISEASE

    Unhealthy foods are loaded with saturated fats and trans fats that directly increase triglyceride and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood, contributing to plaque formation and heart disease. Further, causing a sudden spike in blood sugar level increases, these foods damage the linings of the blood vessels causing chronic inflammation. This inflammation causes bad cholesterol to stick to the walls of the arteries, blocking blood flow to the heart. When they are blocked enough, heart attack occurs.

    5. KIDNEY DISEASE

    The reason why you can never say no to fries and chips is because they contain high amount of finely processed salt which increases salivation and secretion of enzymes that enhance your cravings for these foods. High amount of bad fats and sodium from salt disrupts the sodium-potassium balance of the body and causes hypertension. Since the kidney have to filter all the toxins from the blood, eating a lot of junk food has a direct effect on the kidney functioning.

    6. LIVER DAMAGE

    Believe it or not but junk food consumption over a period of time can have similar harmful effect on the liver as alcohol consumption does. Research has shown that people who ate junk food and did not exercise showed changes in liver enzymes within four weeks. These changes were similar to those people with alcohol abuse. It’s the high level of trans fats found in a number of junk food which cause liver dysfunction due to deposition in the liver.

    7. INCREASE RISK OF CANCER

    Lack of fiber is the main reason why junk food consumption is linked to an increased risk of cancers of the digestive system. Studies have shown that men who ate fried foods more than twice in a month had increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

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  • THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP

    If you are one of the lucky ones who have no issues getting quality “shut-eye” at night, you may not think too much about the importance of sleep. Or maybe you do and that’s why you get quality sleep. Whether your sleep is wonderful at night or one of the millions who struggle - this blog is for YOU!!

    We know sleep is inevitable and an essential part of each day but why is it so important? The importance goes beyond just helping boost your mood and energy each day. Sleep is just as important as exercising and eating healthy. In fact, the lack of sleep could be the reason you are not achieving your personal fitness/health goals.

    Without even understanding why we need sleep, I’m sure you know (and have felt) that going without sleep can make us feel crummy and a good night's sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world. The sheer fact that sleep plays such a role in how we feel says a lot about its importance. Sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions. You will be more prone to illness, your heart suffers by putting you at more risk of developing coronary heart disease or having a stroke, cancer risk increases, cognitive issues, lowered libido and weight gain to just name a few. Hence the reason you may not be achieving your goals if sleep is not on your side. When our body does not get adequate sleep, two hormones are affected - Leptin and Ghelrin. Leptin is our appetite-suppressing hormone which has been found to be decreased after several nights of sleep restriction. Ghrelin is our appetite-stimulating hormone which increases when we don’t sleep.

    Between family, personal and work life, sleep gets put pretty far down the priority list. Your bedtime habits, sleep schedule and day-to-day lifestyle choices can make an enormous difference to the quality of your nightly rest. I hope this blog helps you put sleep higher up on your priority list. Try one or all of the below tips below and watch yourself go into “dreamland” much quicker and for much longer each night!!

    TIPS TO GETTING A BETTER NIGHT SLEEP

    1. STRESS

    Stress is one of the biggest reasons for sleepless nights, freeing your mind/easing your stress before going to bed is key. Make a point to not check email, “work”, have sensitive talks, make complicated decisions 1-2 hours before going to bed. It takes time to turn off the “noise” of the day. If you find you still have a lot on your mind as you are going to bed, write it down and do your best to let it go for the night. If you can’t stop yourself from worrying, especially about things outside your control, learn to evaluate your worries to see if they’re truly realistic and replace irrational fears with more productive thoughts. Even counting sheep is more productive than worrying at bedtime.

    If the stress of managing work, family, or school is keeping you awake, stress management will be key. By learning how to manage your time effectively, handle stress in a productive way, and maintain a calm, positive outlook, you will be able to sleep better at night. Find something calming to do before bed, like a warm bath, a calming book, meditate or listen to calming music. Even taking 10 minutes to relax before shutting your eyes for the night will make a big difference.

    2. CAFFEINE

    Caffeine seems obvious to avoid at night but stopping your caffeine intake earlier in the day (noonish) will help you avoid it still keeping you awake at night. Believe it or not but caffeine can still its affect up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Chocolate has small amounts of caffeine and can affect your Zzzz's later that night. This means anything with chocolate it it. For example: ice cream, protein bars, granola bars, anything that using chocolate for baking, etc. Read labels for hidden caffeine which can be found in certain pain relievers (Excedrin has 65 mg of caffeine), supplements, weight loss pills (which is reason #95969 not to use those for weight loss), etc.

    3. FOOD

    Eating heavy foods and big meals too late will affect how well you sleep because your stomach is hard at work trying to digest those foods. Also be cautious when it comes to spicy or acidic foods in the evening, as they can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.

    Not only does consuming healthy foods make us feel good but they also play a key role in sleep.

    *POTASSIUM

    Potassium may be helpful for those who have trouble staying asleep. Bananas are known as the best source of potassium but you can also find potassium in leafy greens, potatoes, broccoli, and avocados.

    *CALCIUM

    Calcium deficiency has been linked with disturbances in our REM sleep. Great sources of calcium are kale, collard greens, mustard greens, sardines, and sesame seeds.

    *VITAMIN D

    There is a strong correlation between vitamin D deficiency and excessive daytime sleepiness.

    Foods such as swordfish, salmon, tuna, mackerel, shiitake mushrooms, and oysters are great sources of vitamin D.

    *MELATONIN

    Melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycle and was talked about under #5. Bedroom environment, can also be found in small amounts in some foods, while others could also help raise your body’s production of melatonin. Tart cherries have the highest amount of melatonin. Walnuts, bananas, oranges and pineapples have been found to naturally boost your body’s melatonin levels.

    *SELENIUM

    A deficiency in selenium could play a role in sleep abnormalities. It’s also critical for your immune system function and thyroid function. With selenium, a little bit can go a long way. Great sources are Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, beef, oysters, chicken, and cremini mushrooms.

    4. ALCOHOL

    While a nightcap may help you relax and fall asleep faster, it interferes with your sleep cycle. After its initial effects wear off, it will make you wake up more often overnight. To optimize the quality of your sleep, stay away from alcohol in the hours leading up to your bedtime.

    5. LIGHT EXPOSURE

    Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making you sleepy—and less when it’s light—making you more alert. However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s natural production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm.

    Check out the below tips to keep your hormones and sleep-wake cycle on track.

    During the day:

    -Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. The closer to the time you get up, the better. Have your coffee outside, for example, or eat breakfast by a sunny window. Skip the sunglasses! The light on your face will help you wake up and feel more alert.

    -Spend more time outside during daylight. Try to take your work breaks outside in sunlight, exercise outside, or walk your dog during the day instead of at night.

    -Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day, and try to move your desk closer to the window.

    -If natural light is hard to come by, use a light therapy box. A light therapy box simulates sunshine and can be especially useful during short winter days when there’s limited daylight.

    At night:

    -Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. All nighttime light can interfere with sleep and your body’s rhythms, but the blue light emitted by electronics is especially disruptive. This includes the screen on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV. You can minimize the impact by using devices with smaller screens or turning the brightness down.

    -Say no to late-night television. Many people use the television to wind down at the end of the day, but this can backfire. Not only does the light suppress melatonin, but many programs are stimulating rather than relaxing. Try listening to music or audio books instead. If your favorite TV show is on late at night, record it for viewing earlier in the day.

    -When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. The darker it is, the better you’ll sleep. Use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try a sleep mask to cover your eyes. Also consider covering up or moving any electronics that emit light. Even the red numbers on a digital clock can disrupt sleep.

    6. TIMING YOUR EXERCISE RIGHT

    Exercise speeds up your metabolism, elevates body temperature, and stimulates activating hormones such as cortisol. This isn’t a problem if you’re exercising in the morning or afternoon, but too close to bed and it can interfere with sleep.

    Try to finish moderate to vigorous workouts at least 3 hours before your bedtime. If you are still experiencing sleep difficulties, move your workouts even earlier. For some people, it can take up to 6 hours for the body to fully cool down after exercise to a temperature conducive to sleep.

    Don’t feel glued to the couch, though. Relaxing, low-impact exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

    7. NAPPING

    If you are not sleeping well at night, you may more prone to napping. While napping is a good way to recharge and make up for lost sleep hours, it could a reason you are not sleeping well at night. If you can, try to eliminate naps altogether or at least limit your naps to 15- 20 minutes.

    8. BEDROOM ENVIRONMENT

    It’s not just the comfort of your bed and pillow that make for a good night sleep. It may seem silly but the colors in your room, the temperature in your room, etc. play a role in your sleep. Choosing the colors blue, yellow, and green are associated with calmness and relaxation.

    Keeping your room a cool temperature (between 60-67 degrees) can help aid the process of cooling your body.

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  • YOU EXCUSE = MY SOLUTION

    How many excuses do you think you make in a day? We have been making up excuses since we were young. Excuses for not wanting to do homework. Excuses for not wanting to go "somewhere." Excuses for being late. The list could go on. Excuses have become a part of our inner dialogue for almost anything. If you think about it, excuses really on hurt our own performance and motivation. It serves as a distraction of sorts that prevents us from achieving the task, but it stems from a deeper, unconscious desire to protect ourselves. Excuses are much easier than change.

    When it comes to exercising, I have heard every excuse in the book. Right up there with teachers, I think personal trainers hear the most excuses. Excuses go in one ear out the other with me. I can create a “way” to exercise with every excuse I hear. However, there are two that I find “excusable” - being sick and if a doctor has ordered you to not workout. These two are definitely a reason to not workout BUT guess what you CAN do?? Eat healthy. Sure being sick is not fun and although most times you are not up for eating "junk" but when you just want to feel better, it’s easy to crave "comfort food" which tends to be on the unhealthy side. After all, eating healthy food will only help you heal from whatever is ailing you. If your doctor has ordered you to not exercise, I am almost certain, eating unhealthy was on the list. Not being able to exercise, for whatever reason, usually gives you even more of a reason to eat healthy.

    Now let me provide you with the most common excuses and my solution or “excuse buster” to provide you with a way to stay on track even when you think your “excuse” is valid.

    10 EXCUSES AND THEIR SOLUTIONS

    EXCUSE: "I don't have time."

    SOLUTION: It may seem as if you don't have time to exercise but I PROMISE you do. You just have to make the time and more importantly WANT to achieve your personal fitness/health goals. The reality is, throughout your day there is wasted time that you could carve out for exercise. Everyone can MAKE time. After all, we always make time for A LOT of things we enjoy. Ask yourself these questions: How much time are you on the computer? How much do you watch TV? Could you wake up one hour earlier or even a half hour? For everyone that thinks they are busy, I have someone I can point to that is even busier and they fit it in. Bottom line is you can make time, you just choose not to.

    EXCUSE: "I don't know what to do."

    SOLUTION: Finding guidance with exercise is all around you. Everywhere from the Internet, to magazine to your local fitness studio. There are people (like me) that are happy to point you in the right direction. Join in a fitness class, hire a personal trainer, follow a video online/DVD, etc.

    EXCUSE: "I'm too out of shape to do "that".

    SOLUTION: I hear this a lot. I hear things like “I’m too fat”, “I have bad knees”, “I’m too old”, and the list of excuses goes on. There is an exercise regimen for everyone. You just have to find what is suitable for your needs. We often limit ourselves mentally when our body is still up for the challenge. Sure you may have to modify, but the fact is you can do SOMETHING but trying NOTHING ain’t gonna cut it! As long as you are giving YOUR 100%, that’s all that matters.

    EXCUSE: “I hate to workout.”

    SOLUTION: The truth is, there is a small percentage of people that actually love to exercise. For most people, it’s a necessary evil. They do it because they want to be healthy, continue to fit in their favorite pair of jeans, manage their stress, etc. Maybe you hate to workout because you have not found the right “way” to exercise for YOU. Luckily there are SO many ways to exercise these days. The key is finding what will keep you going back. Do you like to dance? Try Zumba or a cardio kickboxing class. Have a hard time self-motivating? Or don’t really know what to do on your own? Join a fitness class where an instructor will ensure you have proper form, putting in the right amount of effort for your current fitness levels, etc. or higher a personal trainer that will customize your workouts to you, your personal fitness/health goals, etc.

    EXCUSE: "I don't have it in my budget right now."

    SOLUTION: You DO NOT need money to get fit. You can get access to awesome advice and killer workouts online for FREE. Need support? Follow people (like Lacey Lee Fitness) on their facebook & twitter pages – and interact with as many likeminded people as possible. This gives you the edge you need that Personal Training does. Everyone needs accountability and you don’t necessarily have to pay for it.

    EXCUSE: "I'm too old."

    SOLUTION: You’re never too old to start exercising. The research is clear: Exercise will help you live longer, with significantly increased mobility and independence. It has also been shown to improve cognitive function and prevent diabetes – even in old age. Overall, exercise will help to improve your quality of life. Try looking for programs that are specifically for your age group.

    EXCUSE: "I don't have the energy."

    SOLUTION: It may sound counterproductive but believe it or not when you exercise, you GET more energy. How many times have you forced yourself to workout even though you were low energy and walk away from that exercise feeling SO much better. There is a reason for that. The more you exercise, the more energy you will start having throughout your days.

    EXCUSE: “I travel a lot.”

    SOLUTION: I am the first to give you workouts to do while you travel that require ZERO equipment. You can search online for “body weight exercise routines” and find a workout suitable to your needs. It may not be like a boot camp class you are used to or one of your personal training sessions but doing “something” is most certainly better than nothing. Doing just 10-15 minutes of exercise will keep you in the habit of exercising plus you are doing much more for yourself than you may feel. You don’t even have to leave the hotel room. Simply email me for workouts you can do while you travel, at home or just when you can't make it to the gym - lacey@laceyleefitness.com

    EXCUSE: "I've tried everything and nothing works."

    SOLUTION: This can be frustrating but consider you may not have done everything “right”. You may have done a lot of right things, but something was missing. Maybe it was your nutrition that kept you from achieving your goals? Maybe whatever form of exercise was not challenging enough for you? Nutrition has WAY more of an impact of your goals being achieved than exercise. You could workout hours and hours everyday but if you are not eating properly, you will become frustrated and discouraged. Re-evaluate the exercises have been doing and look hard into what you have been eating. Your answers are there. They key to success is not giving up.

    EXCUSE: "I'm not overweight, so I don't need to exercise."

    SOLUTION: This is a big misconception. Exercise is not just a way to lose weight, but also a way to keep yourself healthy, your mood upbeat and your stress levels in check. Just because you are not overweight, does NOT mean you are free of health problems. People of any weight can have underlying health problems like diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease, and osteoporosis that can go undetected. Even if you are healthy - why risk getting to a point of an illness/disease when the solution is clear - cardio and weight training help build a healthy heart, lungs, muscle mass, and strong bones. These are KEY to combat disease as you age and will help you live a long and healthy life.

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  • WHY YOU MAY NOT BE LOSING WEIGHT

    We are over one month into the New Year and I want to make sure you are still working towards your personal fitness/health goals!!! Although I hope everyone is working towards being healthy in every way, I want to specifically talk about weight loss. This is a goal many people have for themselves and the area that people will quickly wave that little white flag when they don’t see results. I want to ensure this does NOT happen!!

    If you feel you have been busting your butt in your workouts and eating healthy yet you are not seeing ANY results in the weight loss department - keep reading. This blog is for you.

    There is nothing more frustrating than not seeing the scale go down despite weeks of hard work. Before you throw in the towel- a couple things to remember: your baseline fitness, genetics, diet, specific training methods, gender and age all play a role in how your body responds. Weight loss results are not just measured by the number on the scale. In fact, the scale can be deceiving and I want to encourage you to focus on how you are feeling, how your clothes are fitting, etc. NOT just what the scale says.

    When you are on a weight loss journey, the initial changes you notice and not necessarily the ones you want right away - but are just as important. After a month (or more) of exercising and eating right, you should be seeing/feeling one or all of the below changes:

    1. More energy throughout the day

    2. Sleeping better at night

    3. More endurance and strength during your workout

    4. Clothes are fitting differently (in a good way)

    If you are noticing one or all of the above - then give yourself a pat on the back. You and your body are responding EXACTLY as it should be at this point. It’s just that dang number on the scale that has you frustrated. We will get to that. Keep reading.

    When you start a new way of eating and exercising, you are burning more calories and fat BUT you are also building muscle, which weighs more than fat. This can prevent the scale from shifting initially. This is NOT a bad thing because building muscle fires up your metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day. The more muscles you have (don’t worry, I am not talking about bulking up), the more calories you burn at rest. Hence the reason, men burn more calories (can consume more) than women.

    Now let’s talk about the number on the scale - which I hope you will not put sole focus on but I understand people want to see that number go down. If the number has not gone down, chances are you have made some extremely common and innocent mistakes in your quest to lose weight. This is NOT the time to give up but to re-evaluate what you have been doing for the past month (or more) and make some of the changes that are mentioned below. Making just one “adjustment” from the reasons below could make all the difference in getting that number to go down on the scale. Take any frustrations you may have and use that energy to prove to yourself that you can push past this and get your goals achieved!!

    5 REASONS YOU MAY NOT BE LOSING WEIGHT

    1. NUTRITION

    Have you ever heard someone say, “You can’t out-train a bad diet?” You can workout hours and hours every day but if you are not eating right, you will become frustrated and discouraged very quickly. The nutrition aspect is the most important part to a weight loss journey. In order to lose weight, you must burn MORE calories than you consume. If you find you are maintaining your weight, you simply are burning the same amount that you are consuming. Most people consume more calories throughout the day than they think. To ensure you are consuming the correct amount of calories YOU specifically need in order to lose weight, you first have to know how many calories you need in order to achieve that. In my blog, “The NO DIET Diet” (January 10th), I provided you the calculations to find this out. Once you know this number, the next step is to track what you eat throughout your day. This not only will get you mindful on what you consume but help you understand why/where/how you may have hit a roadblock in the weight loss department.

    To help you understand the importance of calories when it comes to weight loss, let me explain some numbers. One pound equals 3500 calories. That may seem like a lot of calories but when you break it down throughout the week, that’s just 500 calories a day (for 7 days). If you can create a 500 calorie deficit in the calories you consume (number you calculate from above) versus the calories you burn, you should be able to lose 1 pound a week. All sounds great, right? It certainly can be, but consuming 500 EXTRA calories throughout the day can happen just as easy.

    For example:

    The biggest and most common place when extra calories are consumed is a little thing called THE WEEKEND. A weekend can undo all the hard work you put in throughout the week. Just having a handful of drinks over the course of the weekend can be the sole reason the scale is not going down. That’s not even counting higher calories/fat foods you eat when drinking. One alcoholic drink has at least 100 calories. That’s if we are just talking regular beer, wine, or a shot - not mixed/fruity drinks, speciality beers, etc. which have more calories to them.

    2. STRESS

    Stress is a killer and it will manifest in the craziest ways. One way is it will not allow your body to drop weight. Experiencing stressful situations cause the body to undergo a variety of hormonal changes, including the release of adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol release under chronic stress can make weight loss difficult because of the high levels cortisol attack muscle mass, slowing metabolism due to the fact that muscle burns calories to simply exist. Also, unwanted cortisol results in the storage of fat mostly in the abdominal area for later energy use.

    Lastly, the release of cortisol results in an increase of appetite…..and we all know how easy it is to reach for food when stressed. Even if you are not a “stress eater”, the stress alone will make it challenging to lose weight. Stress is almost unavoidable but finding ways to manage your stress is. This will be crucial not only to your sanity but to your weight loss efforts!

    3. SLEEP

    Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. Insufficient sleep impacts your hunger and fullness hormones, including two called ghrelin and leptin.

    Ghrelin signals your brain that it is time to eat. When you are sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin. Leptin cues your brain to put the fork down. When you are not getting enough sleep, leptin levels plummet, signaling your brain to eat more food.

    Put the two together, and it’s no wonder sleep deprivation leads to overeating and extra pounds.

    When we are overtired, our brain's reward centers goes up, looking for something that feels good. This makes is MUCH harder to make healthy choices. Ask yourself why you are not getting sufficient sleep. Are you staying up too late? Are you stressed? Simply search “How to get a better night sleep?” and see the numerous tips.

    4. DOING THE SAME WORKOUT ROUTINE

    It’s easy to get (and stay) in our comfort zones when it comes to exercise. Just like anything we do in life, the more we do it, the easier it will become. Our workouts are not different. When you do the same routine for too long, your body gets used to the exercises, the speed, the weight you use, etc. which then leads to you not getting results. Since your body is “comfortable”, you begin burning fewer calories than when you first started even though you are doing the same amount of exercise. You simply are not challenging yourself anymore. Our body responds to change. Not only will you get bored doing the same thing over and over again but when you are no longer seeing/feeling results - you are more likely to stop. Constantly changing your routine to “confuse” your body is how our body responds best. By doing this and ensuring you are still challenging yourself, your body will have to work harder as it adjusts to the new activity which means you will burn more calories. You will never know if you can walk/run faster, lift a heavier weight, have a higher resistance on the elliptical, etc. if you don’t try. The beauty of it all is, you can always slow down, lighten the weight, etc. Some examples: Walking a little faster on the treadmill and/or walk on a higher incline. Do a different program and/or a higher resistance on the elliptical. Try a new fitness class. Do some lunges/squats every few minutes on your walk outside.

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  • GETTING THROUGH YOUR "SOMETHING"

    You know those people that always seem to be in a good mood? Always smiling. Always upbeat and positive. It seems as if they just don’t have a bad day. Chances are these “happy” people are probably going through A LOT more than anyone would know. Some people just have better ways of not showing pain whether it's physical or emotional than others.

    Some may say I am one of those people.

    I have always been an open book about my life and all the “somethings” that I have dealt with (and continue) simply because I learned it has helped others get through their “something.” I get that not everyone knows me in that way which is where the motivation came to discuss this topic.

    Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and convince you that you should walk around like you are a ray of sunshine every day but I DO want to help you be the best version of yourself. I personally believe what we have going on internally, is a major reason people feel like they hit one roadblock after another when it comes to achieving their personal fitness/health goals. Our mental and emotional health is just as important than our physical health.

    One of my favorite books written by an amazing woman, Robin Roberts → “Everybody's Got Something” is exactly why I want to share a little bit of why I am the way I am. My hope is it will help you get through your “something” with a smile and little bit more ease. Because at the end of the day - everybody’s got something.

    The smile you always see on my face and my positive attitude are simply a part of my DNA. If you have ever met my Mom - you know what I mean. Being happy, loving, positive, goofy, etc. luckily comes natural...especially the goofy part ;-) I absolutely LOVE helping people and can find the positive and/or humor out of most anything. I’m not going to sugarcoat it - I’m human and have bad moments/days/moods but for the most part I realize life could be much worse. The curveballs life likes to throw my way have taught me so much about myself and about life. Life is not always fair but one thing these curveballs in life will do is make you a better person - that is - if you choose to learn from them. Luckily - I have alway chosen to learn from them. Had I not - I’m fairly certain I would not be able to deal with my current obstacle (Lyme Disease) without going insane.

    I can’t say my tips are the magic potion to a better life but it has worked (and continues) for me and I hope it will work for you. It has helped me stay positive and most importantly remain sane during insane times in my life. This is especially for ANYONE going through an injury, setback, stuck in a rut, challenge in life, etc. Whatever your “something” is - know it doesn’t define you or your ability to heal, change, and transform. We are ALL a work in progress. We are ALL trying our best to navigate through lifes ups and downs. You just have to want to be the best version of yourself bad enough to put the effort in.

    YOU are stronger and more resilient than you believe you are!

    TIPS TO HELP YOU GET THROUGH YOUR “SOMETHING”

    1. ACCEPT WHAT IS

    “If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place” ~ Lao Tzu

    If it's something you cannot change - for example - an injury/illness/disease - accept you have been given a small set back. Stop fighting it as you cannot change things right now. Make sure you are doing all you can to better your situation and allow yourself to acknowledge that. Once you accept the "setback" you will no longer be a prisoner to your situation. You free yourself to deal the best you can with the challenge ahead of you. You will soon find yourself going through your days will a little more ease...and dare I say it....happiness and/or having a positive attitude. Be okay when/if you have an "off" day. It’s not realistic to be a ray of sunshine 24/7. If this is a new way of thinking it will require "practice" as it will not just happen overnight. Put up little notes in places you will see often (bathroom mirror, car) that will remind you to have this frame of mind.

    2. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO

    “Don’t let what you can’t do, stop you from what you can do” ~ John Wooden

    It is easy to think about the things that have been taken away from us or what we cannot do. If you have already accepted "what is" then focusing on what you CAN do will come a bit easier. I promise you - there ARE positives in your life and things you CAN continue doing despite whatever your “something” is. You just have to practice focusing on those aspects of your life. If you have injured yourself and are bummed about not working out - find exercises you CAN do. For example - if you hurt your foot, you can do upper body and core exercises. It's not what you may want out of your workouts but it certainly is better than not working out at all. This is most definitely a mindset that requires practice. I personally never thought that I would be happy doing just 5 minutes of “exercise” each day. I say “exercise” very loosely because I can only do a handful of upper body exercises. For someone that 100% loves everything about exercise, I am grateful to be able to do the little I do. This mindset for me did not happen overnight but if I focused on ALL that I cannot do...well….I’d be locked away in a looney bin.

    3. REFLECT AND LEARN

    “Facing difficulties is inevitable, learning from them is optional” ~ John Maxwell

    At the end of the day, you have to WANT to work on yourself. There is always something we can learn from every experience we go through - the good and the bad. Take the time to reflect back on a situation to see what could have gone differently and what you could do if you ever go through it again. This reflection could even help you avoid the situation in the future or help a friend who is going through something similar. I can think back to many situations in my life that were negative at the time and find something positive that came out of it.

    4. FORGIVE

    “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how your react” ~ Charles R. Swindoll

    This is a tough one for a lot of people. It’s easy to be angry and hold onto resentment. By forgiving the person or situation, you accept what happened but you no longer hold it against them. Forgiving allows you to move forward without holding on to negative feelings. I can tell you from personal experience how powerful this can be. I was put in a very unique situation in 1997 that lasted for another 13 years. To put a long story short - this changed how I lived my life in numerous ways. Of all the years of working to better myself from this experience, forgiving was something I never thought about. I was presented with an opportunity to forgive and without a second thought - I did. It took an enormous weight (that I didn’t even realize I was carrying) off my shoulders and I never looked back again. You have to WANT to “let go” and truly forgive in order for it to work the magic is works.

    5. HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM

    “Sometimes we just need someone to simply be there. Not to fix anything or do anything in particular, but just to let us feel that we are cared for and supported” ~Unknown

    Make sure your friends and family support you and bring positivity to your life. Your friends and family only want the best for you, want to help where they can and if they could - take away what is causing you "pain." Having a support system around you is key. Many cannot go through a "set back" alone. This can simply mean - someone to talk to, meet up for coffee, watch T.V with, etc. If you push down feelings/frustrations/etc. and/or mask these feelings with other things (food, alcohol, shopping, etc.) it will backfire quickly on you. Make sure you are keeping things real and going back to #1 (accepting what is) and #2 (focuses on what you can do) as often as you can, if/when you are feeling defeated and/or having a bad day.

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  • TIPS TO EATING HEALTHY ON THE GO

    Do you often feel as if there are not enough hours in the day? Is your hectic schedule getting in the way of sticking with your workouts and eating healthy? You are not alone. I am here to help make sure that when your schedule gets a little crazy, you don’t forget about the most important person - YOU!

    The other week, I posted a blog “No Excuse Workout” to ensure you have NO EXCUSE when “life” gets in the way of you thinking you cannot workout. NOW, let’s make sure you don’t let a hectic schedule get in the way of healthy eating. Or at least - healthIER eating.

    Here’s the thing: we have to eat. When we are rushing around, feel strapped for time and/or are stressed - it’s easy to go for quick, easy food options. Have you noticed that going the “easy route” typically” a bad/unhealthy choice? Guess what?! It doesn’t have to be!! Remember my tip (blog titled “5 Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain” on November 29th) about placing sticky notes in places you are often with questions that will force you to stop and think before making a decision? If you have not tried this tip yet, try it. It will make a big difference. For example: place a note on a box of cookies saying - “Is this going to get me closer to achieving my goals?” Or something to put in your car for those drive-thru moments - “To burn off an order of large french fries, I would have to do 524 burpees!” (this is true) or “You will be just as satisfied with a grilled chicken sandwich.”

    I am a fan of making meals at home but I also know that is not for everyone. Which I totally understand because I used to be that person. Of course making your meals at home is always going to be the healthiest option but if you eat every meal out, you CAN eat healthy. You just have to know what those options are and then the hardest part - actually making that healthy decision.

    TIPS TO EATING HEALTHY ON THE GO

    Luckily over the years, many fast food, restaurants, etc. have made great efforts towards providing healthier options. So believe it or not - there ARE healthy options when it comes to fast food/convenience food. The key is knowing what those choices are and then MAKING THAT CHOICE.

    #1. KNOW THE FACTS

    Knowledge is power!! I cannot stress enough the importance of educating yourself on the nutrition facts of foods. To get started in your educational journey start by researching the nutrition facts on the foods/drinks to the places you frequent. Although you may not be able to get exact number from certain restaurants you can get an idea which is just as valuable. For example: You like to get the caesar salad for lunch at the restaurant by work. Simply search for “Caesar Salad nutrition facts” - and viola - you have an idea.

    #2. PREPARE AND PLAN

    I cannot stress enough the importance of planning. When you have a meal/eating plan – chances are you will not deviate from that plan. Knowing what and when you will eat are crucial elements to staying on track. Take a moment to think about what the next day entails before going to bed. Then plan accordingly. Know what you will have for breakfast. Even if that means grabbing a banana and almonds on your way out. Do you need to pack your lunch and snacks the night before? If you know you have a lunch/dinner meeting – know where you are going and what you will order. Most restaurants/fast food websites have their menus listed. By knowing what you are going to order, you will (hopefully) not let your stomach make the decision….which we all know will not be as healthy. If you know you are going to do take-out/delivery – choose a place that provides a healthy option and plan on what you will choose. Hunger is a very powerful feeling and it WILL override any “good intention” you had which is why planning what you will order/eat is crucial.

    #3. NEVER GO HUNGRY

    This is also a prepare and plan situation. Keep snacks in your car, purse and/or at your desk. It is so easy to get caught up in our day and before you know it, you have gone a long period of time without eating. You want to get into the habit of eating every 3-4 hours. By doing this, you keep your blood sugars level which keeps you thinking clearly and energized. Think of it like adding wood to a fire. You have to keep adding wood as the fire goes down in order to keep it going. Same thing goes for your body. Plus it will prevent you from letting hunger override your healthy intentions. Place almonds, trail mix, fruit, etc. in portion control bags. Key word is PORTION control bags as this will keep you from eating more than you intend.

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  • LIFE CHANGING FOOD SWAPS

    When it comes to eating healthier and making healthy choices, every little bit helps. Small changes make BIG differences. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. It is VERY easy to overconsume calories without knowing it. Calories add up quickly and the majority of people consume more calories than they think they do. Hopefully you read last week’s blog and have already calculated how many calories YOU specially need to consume each day. If not - take note to do it after reading this. Knowing your range of calories you need AND knowing how many calories you actually do consume (another step in last week’s blog, writing it down) will make all the difference in the world to helping you achieve your goals.

    One of my favorite tips/tricks to eating healthier is the “food swap.” Not only will these “swaps” save you A LOT calories but they are more nutritious AND still just as tasty. Just like calories can quickly add up, you can easily cut calories without sacrificing taste and enjoyment.

    Go in with an open mind with these swaps. You won’t know if you will like something unless you try. After all, it’s worth a try knowing you will save yourself hundreds of calories. Go to our good friend, the Internet to find a recipe will satisfy your taste buds using the “swaps” below.

    LIFE CHANGING FOOD SWAPS

    1. THE STARCHY CARB SWAP

    CAULIFLOWER

    Trust me on this one. You will hardly know the difference. This is a “don’t knock it until you try it” situation. The Internet is filled with delicious recipes for all things “cauliflower.”

    Steamed cauliflower for rice

    All you need is a grater or food processor to create rice-like pieces. You can simply microwave, saute or roast to create a light, fluffy yummy low calories and carb cauliflower “rice.” Playing around with taste through herbs and spices is part of the fun!! The texture is virtually the same, as is the taste.

    Mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes

    Cook the cauliflower for 12-15 minutes or until very tender. Drain and discard all of the water (the drier the cauliflower is, the better) and add the skim milk, lite butter, sour cream (or greek yogurt), salt and pepper and mash with a masher. Top with chives.

    Cauliflower for pizza crust

    It is no secret that pizza is loved by so many people. Now you can enjoy family pizza night with ZERO guilt by switching to the cauliflower crust!! You can also use cauliflower for anything you would typically use pizza dough for such as calzones, pizza pockets, etc.

    KNOW THE FACTS:

    1 cup chopped cauliflower → 27 calories, <0.5g fat, 5.5g carbs

    1 cup mashed potato: 220 calories, 7g fat, 35 carbs

    1 cup rice: 200 calories, 0.4g fat, 45 carbs

    1 slice of crust: 145 calories, 2g fat, 27g carbs

    2. THE PASTA SWAP

    Pasta is staple food for so many people but we know that it is loaded with calories and carbs. Depending on how you are eating your pasta - those numbers can quickly increase. Even if you keep the cheese and other delicious fillings - by switching to zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash - you are saving yourself EASILY two hundred calories. Plus you are getting added nutrition from the zucchini and the spaghetti squash!!

    a. SPAGHETTI SQUASH

    Instead of pasta, spaghetti squash is a great low-carb and lower-calorie substitute. One squash will make between two and three servings.

    b. ZUCCHINI NOODLES

    Use either a grater or a zucchini spiralizer (very inexpensive) to vary the size of noodle and voila - you have noodles!!

    KNOW THE FACTS:

    1 cup of Spaghetti Squash: 42 calories, 0 fat, 10g carbs

    1 cup Zucchini Noodles: 33 calories, 0.5g total fat, 6g carbs

    -OR-

    1 cup of pasta: 200 calories, 0 fat, 40 grams of carbs

    3. THE GREEK YOGURT SWAPS

    This is a swap that has the taste and texture almost identical. Greek yogurt also has probiotics in it, which helps the body with such things as immune system function and gastrointestinal problems.

    Greek yogurt instead of sour cream

    A dallop of greek yogurt on your baked potato, taco, etc. and I challenge you to know the difference.

    Greek yogurt instead of mayo

    Say no to mayo next time you fix your tuna/chicken salad. Add some herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice and be ready for your taste buds to explode with happiness.

    KNOW THE FACTS:

    2 tablespoons of greek yogurt: 10 calories

    -OR-

    2 tablespoons of sour cream: 60 calories, 6 grams of fat

    2 tablespoons of mayonnaise: 206 calories, 24 grams of fat

    4. THE AVOCADO SWAP

    Avocado Instead of butter on your toast

    Avocado isn’t just for guacamole!! Your toast won’t be dry nor loaded with saturated fats from butter. Plus it adds such yummy taste!!

    Avocado Instead of butter in your baked goods

    Hear me out on this. Next time you are about to whip up some brownies, swap the butter out with an avocado. Believe it or not but test a family member/friend - I bet they will not notice a difference. The brownies will not only taste moist and delicious but they will be lower in calories and cholesterol. It's an easy swap, too. Just replace half the butter in a recipe with avocado. While it may be tempting to do an even 1:1 swap, you'll want to refrain unless you like flat, pancake-like baked goods.

    Avocado Instead of mayo on your sandwich

    Mashed avocado is a great substitute for mayo on any sandwich. Both give some moisture, but avocado packs a big dose of vitamin E and GOOD cholesterol-checking fat.

    Avocado Instead of alfredo (cream or cheese) sauces

    Craving fettuccine alfredo but also wanting to stick with your fitness/health goals? Swap out the butter, cream and cheese with AVOCADO!! Simply blend together avocado, olive oil, and your favorite herbs and spices. You won’t be disappointed and neither will your waistline.

    KNOW THE FACTS:

    2 tablespoons of avocado: 50 calories, 4 grams of fat **and that’s GOOD fat too*

    -OR-

    2 tablespoons of alfredo sauce: 122 calories, 12 grams of fat

    2 tablespoons of butter: 204 calories, 24 grams of fat

    2 tablespoons of mayonnaise: 150 calories, 9 grams of fat

    5. BAKING INGREDIENTS SWAPS

    PUREED BEANS INSTEAD OF FLOUR

    Swapping out flour for a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) in brownies is a great way to cut out the gluten and fit in an extra dose of protein. When baking, swap out 1 cup flour for 1 cup black bean puree (about a 15oz can).

    UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE INSTEAD OF SUGAR & BUTTER

    Using applesauce in place of sugar can give the necessary sweetness without the extra calories. You can swap sugar for applesauce in a 1:1 ratio, but for every cup of applesauce you use, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup. The applesauce gives the right consistency and a hint of sweetness without all the fat of oil or butter.

    *If you are on the fence with this swap, try swapping out half the fat (so a recipe using 1 cup of oil would use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce). If you can't tell the difference with that swap, try swapping a bit more of the fat next time around.

    STEVIA INSTEAD OF SUGAR

    The natural sweetener stevia is calorie-free and up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Since it's so much sweeter, the swap will not be equal. I suggest finding a sweetener conversion chart online to ensure your recipe is on point. An example: a recipe calling for 1 cup of sugar should be swapped for 1 teaspoon liquid stevia or about 2 tablespoons stevia powder.

    MASHED BANANAS INSTEAD OF FATS

    The consistency is ideal!! Plus the bananas add potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. One cup of mashed banana works perfectly in place of 1 cup or butter or oil!

    KNOW THE FACTS:

    1 cup of unsweetened applesauce: 100 calories

    1 cup of stevia: ZERO calories

    1 cup of pureed beans: 178 calories

    1 cup of mashed bananas: 200 calories

    OR

    1 cup of flour: 455 calories

    1 cup of sugar: 770 calories!!!

    1 cup of butter: 1628 calories!!

    These are just some of my favorite swaps that save A LOT of calories. I have many other swaps you can do to also save calories so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me should you want to know more!

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  • The NO-Diet Diet

    If you started the New Year off with going on a diet - STOP! Well, maybe saying “stop” is a bit harsh so keep reading….

    Not to be a Debbie Downer but if you have started a “diet”, chances are high that you will go back to your old eating habits sooner than you initially thought. That is, unless you are dieting in the right way. Most people that diet restrict themselves of their favorite foods, key nutrients and calories when they go on said diet. In my opinion, the word diet should go right along with all the other bad 4 letter words.

    If you have done one diet after another without any success or maybe you DID have success but you eventually found yourself back to square one, there's a reason why. You either chose an unrealistic way to eat or the diet you did was not unrealistic for YOU. These days there is every diet imaginable and they ALL will somehow convince you that this diet is THE diet that will work. There are always good intentions behind people going on a diet but the reality is - diets don’t work.

    People want instant results with most things in life these days. When it comes to wanting to lose weight by changing the way we eat, you have to first acknowledge that the weight you have gained did not happen overnight. Therefore, losing the weight will not happen that quickly either. I realize that would be wonderful in a perfect world, but we all know, we don’t live in a perfect world. Losing weight is hard but learning why the weight came on in the first place is harder. Then keeping the weight off will come a lot easier.

    My goal for you is to delete the word “diet” as a form of deprivation or a quick fix. I want you help you adapt a healthy eating “diet” which allows you to enjoy the foods you eat, achieve your weight loss goal, become healthier and do it for a lifetime. I want you to not have to feel you have to “go on a diet” ever again. The way you eat needs to work for YOU. We all have different bodies and goals and just like your workouts, the way you eat needs to be a lifestyle. The way your significant other or your co-worker eats may work for them and their goals, but it may not work for you.

    Here’s the deal. We all have habits. Good habits and bad habits. We go throughout our day doing one habit after another. Some habits we have had for years...or maybe our whole life. The majority of diets are changing habits you have had a very long time. This may work for a week...a month...but you will eventually go back to your old habits. Why? Because you never learned why you had certain habits in the first place. Heck, some people have become so stuck on the conveyor belt of daily living, that they don’t even know certain habits that they have.

    3 STEPS TO SUCCESSFULLY LOSING WEIGHT WITH THE NO-DIET DIET

    (1) SLOWLY GOING “WITHOUT”

    Let's say you eat ice cream after dinner everyday. You have been doing it for years. It's your thing. You have been doing it for so long that it has become habit. You don’t even think about doing it, you just do it. Every night. A “diet” would have you stop eating your ice cream but that’s an unrealistic approach for a couple reasons. 1). You have been doing it every night for too long. 2). You got a chance to learn why it is that you eat ice cream every night after dinner.

    Instead of stopping your ice cream cold turkey (because stopping anything you love WILL have you going back to it….and more of it), You would tell yourself you are not going to eat your ice cream just ONE night. You can then eat your ice cream the other 6 days. The key is telling yourself the actual day (Wednesday for example) because saying "one day" will have you pushing it off to the next day and the next. So, Wednesday rolls around and you don't eat ice cream. You realize you didn't die. You did not have a panic attack. The other days you eat your ice cream. Wednesday rolls around again and you successfully go without. Now it is time to label a second day without ice cream. You continue to do the same scenario and increase the days "without" as slowly as you need. The reason this method is so effective is your brain and body are communicating. If you do not give yourself a chance to feel/realize you can go without something - you will never know you can do it. You have to "feel" that you are okay without eating something that is high calorie/fat, going back for seconds, putting as much on a plate, etc. This is why diets don't work - you don't get a chance to learn "why" you do "what" you do "when" you do.

    (2) BECOME MINDFUL

    Many people overeat, make unhealthy food choices, etc. because they are not wanting to deal with “something.” This something could be things like: boredom, stress, sadness, etc. We also eat mindlessly for happy reasons. When we celebrate, watch t.v. with friends/family, etc. YOU have to figure out “why” you do “what” you do “when” you do. Say what?! The “why”, “what” and “when” are your food habits. Here’s how.

    Write down EVERY single thing you eat and drink throughout the day along with the time. By doing this, it forces you to stop, feel and think about what you are about to eat. This sounds simple but it is actually more challenging that you may think. It is easy for our brain to forget the “bad” choices we make. It’s almost like a defense mechanism we have for ourselves. We eat a lot more calories than we think. Writing everything down will help you visually see foods you eat, how often you eat and how much. It can help you realize how many calories you are consuming from beverages/snacking, patterns of overeating (eating enough throughout the day and then overeating at night) and identify triggers to avoid (overeating when drinking alcohol).

    If you want to understand your emotions related to your food choices, you might also want to include questions such as, "How hungry am I?" or "What were my emotions before, during and after eating?"

    If you TRULY want to adapt a healthier way of eating, achieve your weight loss goals and keep this healthier way of eating for a lifetime - you MUST become aware of these why’s, what’s and when’s.

    (3) KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

    If you don’t know how many calories you specifically need to consume in order to lose weight/maintain/gain weight and you don’t know how many calories you actually consume each day, then it is just a guessing game that may leave you frustrated and discouraged by the lack of results. Writing down everything you eat will help you in determining how many calories you consume. There are numerous websites and apps that will help you know how many calories are in the foods/drinks you consume.

    In order to figure out how many calories you need to consume in order to achieve your goals, you need to configure a easy equation that is below. There are websites and apps that will do this for you but I have found that they give you a much lower caloric intake because it is factoring in how many pounds you want to lose a week. This can be unrealistic depending on how many calories you are accustomed to consuming. Plus you don’t want to focus on how many pounds you are losing a week but how you are feeling, how your clothes are fitting, etc.

    The key in doing the below equation is factoring in first that you are sedentary. This will give you the low end of how many calories you consume. Then factor in how active you truly are and cut that number by a couple hundred. This will give you a realistic range to work with. NOW, pay attention to how you feel throughout the day. If you are able to consume lower than what is your low end range and you are not sluggish, hungry all the time, etc., then that is fine. If you are eating on the higher end of your range and are sluggish, still hungry, etc. then add a couple hundred more calories to your day. It is ALL about how you feel. Pay attention to your energy, how you are sleeping, etc. I am ALWAYS available to answer questions!

    You first need to know your BMR. This is how many calories you burn at rest. Your body burns calories to just keep you alive. If you laid in bed all day and did not move a finger - your body would need calories in order to keep your heart pumping, blood flowing, organs functioning, etc. Then you need to factor in your activity demands. Even if you live a sedentary lifestyle, you burn more calories than your BMR simply by walking from A to B. The more you “move” the more calories you burn.

    Follow these two steps to find your daily caloric needs:

    Step one: BMR FORMULA

    Women:

    655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years ) = BMR

    Men:

    66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in year ) = BMR

    You now need to add to your BMR because you do more than lay in bed all day long (I hope). First factor in that you are sedentary then the activity level of what you actually do. If your goal is to lose weight - drop that “actual” number by a couple hundred. Remember: in order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume.

    Step two - ACTIVITY DEMAND

    Sedentary (little or no exercise) : BMR x 1.2

    Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : BMR x 1.375

    Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : BMR x 1.55

    Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : BMR x 1.725

    **BMR + ACTIVITY DEMAND (sedentary - normal activity) = DAILY CALORIC INTAKE RANGE

    NOTE: leaner bodies need more calories than less leaner ones. Therefore, this equation will be very accurate in all but the very muscular (will under-estimate calorie needs) and the very fat (will over-estimate calorie needs).

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  • 6 WAYS TO DE-STRESS YOUR DAY

    A New Year not only brings resolutions but a reason to press that “reset button” on life. A chance to make changes that you feel need to be made in your life. These “changes” typically are to improve one’s life. Instead of talking about working out and eating healthier (which I hope is already being done), I want to talk about habits everyone can do everyday to live with a little less stress. I’m not talking about the stress that helps you perform better when you have a deadline or motivates you to do your best. I want to talk about the overwhelming stress that can affect your health, mood and quality of life.

    We can’t avoid stress. It’s a part of life. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief and then will manifests in the craziest of ways. It’s easy to recognize an illness or anxiety coming from stress, but have you thought that your nagging headaches or forgetfulness may be coming from stress? Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior such as:

    * Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain

    * Gritting, grinding teeth

    * Stuttering or stammering

    * Tremors, trembling of lips, hands

    * Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms

    * Light headedness, faintness, dizziness

    * Ringing, buzzing or “popping sounds

    * Frequent blushing, sweating

    * Cold or sweaty hands, feet

    * Dry mouth, problems swallowing

    * Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores

    * Rashes, itching, hives, “goose bumps”

    * Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks

    * Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea

    * Excess belching, flatulence

    * Constipation, diarrhea, loss of control

    * Difficulty breathing, frequent sighing

    * Sudden attacks of life threatening panic

    * Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse

    * Frequent urination

    * Diminished sexual desire or performance

    * Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness

    * Increased anger, frustration, hostility

    * Depression, frequent or wild mood swings

    * Increased or decreased appetite

    * Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams

    * Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts

    * Trouble learning new information

    * Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion

    * Difficulty in making decisions

    * Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed

    * Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts

    * Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness

    * Little interest in appearance, punctuality

    * Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping

    * Increased frustration, irritability, edginess

    * Overreaction to petty annoyances

    * Increased number of minor accidents

    * Obsessive or compulsive behavior

    * Reduced work efficiency or productivity

    * Lies or excuses to cover up poor work

    * Rapid or mumbled speech

    * Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness

    * Problems in communication, sharing

    * Social withdrawal and isolation

    * Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue

    * Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs

    * Weight gain or loss without diet

    * Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use

    * Excessive gambling or impulse buying

    What causes stress in one person may be of little concern to another. Some people are better able to handle stress than others. Our bodies are designed to handle small doses of stress. However, we are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without consequences. There are numerous emotional and physical disorders that have been linked to stress including depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke and hypertension.

    The following habits to help improve the quality of your day may seem small but I promise, they will offer BIG reward when put to practice. To ensure you are being realistic and more importantly will actually turn these “tweaks” to habits, choose one or two to work on. Once you have it down to a daily habit, move on to another.

    6 WAYS TO DE-STRESS YOUR DAY

    [1] COMPLIMENT SOMEONE

    I love doing this. It feels great to give someone something without expecting anything in return. In fact, your body responds with “happy chemicals” when you do this. Even saying “hello” to a stranger as you walk by, feels great. You never know what kind of day someone is having and your simple “hello” could brighten it. It’s a win-win situation.

    [2] SLEEP

    Being in my line of work, having energy to give others is VERY important. Not only do I need energy but I need it very early in the morning. There are a million positive things that come from feeling rested but one that you may not realize is, you make better food decisions. Have you ever wondered why you crave carbs or “bad” food when you are tired? There is a reason for this. There are two hormones that are affected when we sleep called ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.

    [3] ORGANIZATION/CLEANLINESS

    Things like keys, Mea’s leash, etc. each have a “home.” By having things I use each day in the same place, means I always know where they are. I rarely am stressing out because I cannot find something. Create “home’s” for things you use/need everyday and cut out stress, running late, etc.

    I’m not saying you need to be a neat-freak but you create a calm environment (therefore cutting down on stress) by having your home, office and car “clean” or at least clear of clutter. Especially when it comes to your office/desk, the messier it is, the more likely you are to lose focus and productivity.

    [4] WRITE THINGS DOWN

    Writing things down help me ensure I don’t forget anything, even if it’s something small/simple. Most people get distracted from the task at hand by wandering ideas and having thoughts about other projects. Not only does crossing off “tasks” on your to-do list give you a sense of accomplishment, once they’re out of your head and down on paper (or a screen), your brain will forget about them so you can get back to work.

    [5] CUT OUT THE NEGATIVITY

    Life is just too short to be surrounded by negative people who do nothing but to bring you down. The quickest way to make a change in your life is to change who you surround yourself with—and it’s totally within your control. Sure you can still be friendly with these people, but limit the time you spend with them, especially if you find they are affecting your life in a negative way. The saying “We are who we surround ourselves with” is very true. Think about the handful of people you spend the most time with. Are they making you a better person? Are they bringing positivity to your life?

    [6] MOVE

    You didn’t think I was going to leave out exercising, did you?! There is no denying that exercise reduces stress but it also stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can have anti-anxiety effects. Ever wonder why you feel so much better after exercising? When we exercises we release this happy little chemical called dopamine. Many studies show that as we age, we are constantly losing our stores of dopamine. Dopamine motivates you to take action toward your goals and gives you a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them.

    So run, lift, jump, play….get happy!

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  • What Is Functional Training?

    We are still in the depths of the holiday season with New Year’s Day less than a week away. So I must ask ---> How are you feeling? Have you kept up your workouts? How about the overindulgence factor? Whatever you have or haven’t done….and may continue through the end of this year...I want to shift gears. For the past month or so, I have focused my blogs on making the holiday season as healthy as you can.

    Today, I want to talk about a personal passion of mine. Functional training.

    Functional training is a big buzz word in the fitness community. It personally is the only way I train myself, my personal training clients and in my boot camp classes. If you have ever come to Lacey Lee Fitness and taken ANY of the classes I offer, trained with myself, Nick or Darrell - you have done functional training.

    By definition - Functional training is a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life.

    Whether we are talking nutrition or fitness – I like to look at the big picture. By “big picture” I mean - creating a lifestyle that is realistic to adapt for a lifetime. In my opinion, many people have it all wrong when it comes to working out. The focus should not be about how much you can bench press or how long you can run - rather the focus should be on building a body that is capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions. Don’t get me wrong - running and/or using strength machines are still good for you but it's also good to condition your body so you can excel in life.

    Here’s a scenario:

    Yesterday, you had a great workout at the gym. On each of the strength machines, you lifted more weight than ever before and ran at a faster pace on the treadmill.

    Today, you lift a 20+ pound suitcase to carry it downstairs -- and throw your back out.

    What likely happened is this: You go to the gym 3 times a week, go through a circuit of strength machines and either head to the elliptical or treadmill. While all that is great, you are not focusing on your functional fitness. You have strengthened certain muscles by using machines but you have not taught your muscles to work together. By laying or sitting against a pad/bench – you do not activate your core or any stabilizing muscles. You might be toned and ready for the beach, but are you ready to lift your toddler out of his/her car seat, carry a suitcase or any other “real” life motions we make daily?

    Working out has evolved beyond just cardiovascular and strength. While these are certainly important components to fitness, workouts are now being done with the Bosu, kettlebells, stability balls,etc. These apparatus not only help with our strength and cardiovascular fitness but our balance, flexibility, agility, speed – all while shaping our bodies to its optimal state.

    At the end of the day – people want results and when incorporating functional tools – you get results.

    Let me share the beauty of my favorite workout tools. You have most likely seen one or more of these where you workout (I KNOW you have #4) but may not know what to do with them. I not only want to help educate you on these fitness tools but help ensure you are getting the very most out of your workouts! After all - we all lead busy lives so why not get the most out of your workouts?

    #1. BOSU

    The BOSU (both sides up) consists of two sides – an inflated, blue dome and a flat, platform. You can perform strength and cardiovascular exercises with the Bosu. By standing or kneeling on the BOSU, your body learns how to compensate for times when optimal body positioning is lost. Traditional strength exercises can be performed when standing or kneeling on the BOSU such squats, push-ups, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, bent over row, shoulder presses, etc. These then become total body exercises because of the instability of the BOSU. To take your workouts to another level you can flip the BOSU so the flat side is facing up. By standing on the flat surface you created even more instability. Performing the same exercises listed above will activate even more muscle groups. Any exercise you do standing up - can be performed on the Bosu.

    Jogging on the BOSU, for example, activates the entire leg from the ankle through the calf, thighs and pelvic floor. The muscles of the core are activated in order for you to maintain balance. The soft domed side of the BOSU provides just enough instability to make squats up and over the dome, toe taps, hill climbers, etc. more challenging. Flipping the BOSU so the flat side is facing up will provide even more of a challenge while activating even more muscle groups. when performing numerous exercises.

    #2. Kettlebell

    The Kettlebell is a cannonball with a suitcase handle welded to the top. It focuses on muscle integration rather than isolation. Nearly every drill recruits multiple muscle groups to work in unison. The body is trained as a whole and particular emphasis is focused on the core and back muscles. When your body is forced to recruit more muscles – you not only incorporate cardiovascular but you will burn more calories.

    #3. Stability Ball

    The Stability Ball is a heavy-duty, inflatable ball. Most people think only ab exercises can be performed on them but in fact you can perform upper and lower body exercises also. Maintaining proper alignment on the ball stimulates the body's natural motor reflexes and encourages the body to react as a whole, integrated unit. You will see a variety of stability ball sizes. If you opt to purchase one – on the back it will guide you to which ball suites you best based on your height. I’m not a fan of going by this guide. I recommend choosing a small one. The smaller the ball – the more your body is forced to balance the harder your body has to work which in turn has you burning more calories.

    #4. Your own body weight

    Our body provides us with one of the best “machines” – and the best part is – it’s free. By doing body weight exercises you are allowing your body to move in its preferred path of motion. You will learn how to move your body in a controlled and efficient manner and provide you with the skills you will need once you graduate to more advanced forms of working out.

    Now, next time you hit the gym, grab one or all of the above and apply it to your workouts. To make things a bit “easier” and to ensure you have proper form, do the same exercises you do on a bench, standing up, etc. but on either a Bosu and/or stability ball.

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