Happy New Year from Empower Personalized Fitness!
It’s that time of year where we start to get flooded with questions from people with concerns about their fitness plans. “My (lack of) fitness plan just isn’t working anymore!” Or, “What’s the best workout for me?”
In our nearly thirty years in the fitness industry, the have learned a few things with total certainty: You are a unique person. Your fitness, and likewise your nutrition, are personal to you as an individual.
As we begin this new decade we want to share three common problems we hear from our clients. The first is “My friend/neighbor started this new program over here and their results are great! I’m doing the same thing but nothing is happening for me.”
Maybe you are familiar with this. It could be your husband, spouse or partner does a few pushups and all of a sudden are super buff and trim. Maybe they start a new diet and the pounds just fall off. Personalization is the key. We all have different bodies. We all have different sets of genetics. The goal is to find a plan that helps you feel fit, strong, and healthy.
The second issue is they have tried to do it on their own. They got a gym membership, or did a running program, or downloaded an app. They’ve been trying to keep at it daily, but eventually, start to lose motivation. They get bored with their workouts. They had found a few they liked, and then did them over and over. Not only do their minds get bored, their bodies do as well. The SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands) is the physiological explanation for this. Read more about it HERE.
Essentially, your body is going get used to anything you do on a really regular basis. It’s great to have variety in your workouts. Not only so your mind stays challenged and interested in what you are doing but your body does as well.
The third challenge is simply being overwhelmed by the number of messages out there. Particularly this time of year, “New Year, new you!” messages are everywhere. Advertising bombards us with the idea that this specific program, or that specific diet will get us what we want. Marketers will try whatever they can to get you to ‘bite’, but to really the have staying power to make long term positive body changes requires a plan that is personalized to you.
Watch THIS VIDEO to hear us discuss how unique to you fitness can make your goal attainable.
- Personalization – A specific, customized fitness plan for you as an individual. What is your current fitness level? What’s your health story? Have you had fitness challenges in the past? What do you enjoy? What are your fitness and health goals? Consideration of all of these questions and others help shape a unique program.
- Work with a Fitness Professional – Find yourself an expert personal trainer who can really help you create that plan, then keep you motivated as you progress and continue to improve. Take a look at THIS VIDEO to hear us speak more on this.
- Commitment – This part is sometimes the hardest because physiological change takes time. It’s not going to happen in two weeks. You need to allow your ming and body to adjust to the change in routine for all of 2020, not just the first month.
Time. There are 168 hours in a week but we still can’t ever find enough of it. Between work and sleep, we lose a significant chunk of it right away. Add in family, food, and life in general, and its easy to see why working out ends up in the Way Too Busy to Do column of your daily responsibilities list. What most people don’t realize though, is there is an easy solution to this.
Hire yourself a personal trainer.
Don’t roll your eyes. I know we just went over how life was too crowded to fit in things like fitness, but a trainer will turn your “busy problem” into a fitter, happier you.
Let’s say you are able to set aside a 30-minute slice of your day. That’s a one-half hour of 168. It can be before work, after, during your lunch break, or while the kids are at soccer practice. Working with a personal trainer is the most efficient use of your time. For 30 minutes you will be with someone whose sole focus is helping you reach your fitness goal.
You don’t have to think about what to do
Being an adult is filled with stressors. Why add to them by trying to figure out how to stay fit on your own? A personal trainer will do all the thinking for you. You will never have to do so much as to count a repetition or waste any of your precious minutes standing around wondering which machine to get on next.
Safe and Effective
Form is important. A personal trainer will monitor your exercises making sure you do them correctly to avoid injury. Trainers also have a broad understanding of physiological and metabolic systems and will apply that understanding to your routine. You will see the results.
Unique to you
A good personal trainer will program workouts designed specifically to meet your needs and help you reach your goals. Getting in shape (and staying there) isn’t a “one size fits all” process. Your workouts shouldn’t be either.
When you feel like slacking off, there is someone who won’t let you.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends most adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise per week. That’s 2.5 hours every 7 days. One-half hour a day. That’s all you need, and it doesn’t even have to be every day. Less than three hours a week with a personal trainer and sensible nutritional habits will get you well on your way toward the you that you want to be. Its something to think about the next time you want to say “I don’t have the time”
Does your exercise routine sound like this? 30 min elliptical one day – maybe throw some weights around or do some machines another day – walk the dog. This routine gets booooringgggg and many of my clients come to me feeling flat, tired and totally uninspired.
If you aren’t getting enough physical activity in throughout the week or don’t know what to do for workouts, trust me I get it- you’re busy! The last thing you want to do is add “design a personalized FUN workout” on your to do list. Don’t let coming up with exercises be a chore and something that is so essential to life feel like a punishment.
Just like in my personal training with clients, I love calling Fridays FUN Fridays because people who have come to the gym all week (or multiple days) need something different to look forward to. That’s why I started making Fridays about games in the workout.
Do you have one day a week you can really look forward to the workout? Something that gets you excited and makes it FUN?
Well you can have these FUN Friday workouts too!
With my program THRIVE ON: 6 Weeks of Making Fitness FUN you will get more physical activity throughout your week. The more we get our body moving the better we feel. I can attest to this, on the days I don’t feel like working out I always feel better after I do. My mood is better too.
One of the best things about my weekly workouts is I do the heavy lifting (pun intended) for you. There’s no more need to struggle with what to do. Each week you will get a plan that keeps you motivated to move more and not dread ever going to the gym again. You can still walk the dog, and do your 30 mins of elliptical but try adding in a little more FUN a couple days a week and see how you like it! It’s time to feel GREAT again 🙂
As someone with something of a perfunctory relationship with food, there are a few things about it which I know with an absolute certainty.
Cheetos taste good. Cookies taste good. Chips taste good. Add a little beer to wash these down and its a party, because beer tastes great too.
Alas, like everything else all good things must come in moderation, which can be challenging.
In the United States, snacks are kind of a big deal. Snacks, including calorie loaded beverages (i.e. lovely, lovely beer) make up more than 25% of our daily caloric intake on average. A full 70% of the snacks we eat as a nation are classified as ‘unhealthy’ (highly processed, nutrient poor/calorie rich).
If those numbers seem high never fear, you are correct. Because its usually done on the go, or minus the ritual/formality of a traditional meal snacking normally occurs with very little forethought. Consider: how often do you consciously think of what you eat when you’re snacking?
Do you reflect, and take a measured assessment of your hunger levels? How much time has passed since you last ate? When is your next meal? Does said snack fit in with your nutritional plan for the rest of the day?
Does, “I’m bored/stressed/tired/et cetera. – what can I eat?” sound more realistic?
Increased screen time (binge watching, video gaming, laptops. etc. ) along with decreased physical activity elevate the frequency of snacking even more. In general, sitting and watching something is more fun when you doing it with a bag of something salty/crunchy at your side, right?
As noted above, snacking is kind of a big deal. In some ways, its essential to our on-the-go, every-minute-counts 21st century lifestyle. If we are going to do it, we may as well make sure it will control our hunger, and provide enough energy to get through the hardest parts of the day, and not contribute to weight gain.
With that in mind, here are 4 Tips to Better Snacking:
1. Mindful Eating
– Something as simple as paying attention while you’re eating reduces overall food intake. Chew carefully. Savor the flavor. Think about how many handfuls of (your bite sized snack of choice here) you’ve already eaten. Try making a game of your munchible. “Can I make these 4 cookies last an entire episode of The Umbrella Academy?“
– Studies show that bigger package sizes encourage over eating regardless of people’s appetite or the taste of the snack. Limited serving sizes can curb overeating. Likewise, having a large variety of snacks available can encourage overindulgence. Chose your three favorites to have around and ditch the rest. In the end you’ll eat a little less.
3. Go healthy. Stay healthy.
– Shift those chips and cheetos into fruit and nuts. Seeds, whole grains and veggies can also blunt hunger’s edge and keep you fueled up between meals. This will help you avoid the crash from many common high sugar goodies.
4. Water can be a snack too
– The benefits of drinking water are well documented. On its own, or coupled with your between meal treat of choice, water can help you to feel full decreasing your overall intake. Try to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day ( e.g. 180 lbs = 90oz ).
This year I trained for my first national competition called CG Games (Camp Gladiator). Not only did I have to be strong, and agile but have endurance, and speed as well. There are 5 events: strength, agility, endurance, interval and peak (which was an obstacle course). It took months of training leading up to nationals to really see a difference in my strength and speed and that’s what I want to teach you- that consistent action over time is what gets results.
You cannot expect to workout one day and wake up the next morning with your body looking different. You cannot choose to eat right one day and expect to lose weight. It takes consistent action over time. They key is consistent! You have to be patient and one day you will see a difference.
Also, in order to reach your goals you have to know your WHY, your motivation for change. I learned a big lesson in this but once I got mine I remembered it in the hard times. I remembered it when I woke up at 5 in the morning and drove 45 mins to go to a workout with my team (I *hate* mornings by the way). I remembered it when I would feel like I was dying in my workouts, pushing myself past my limits and comfort zones. I remembered it when I didn’t feel like working out and wanted to just watch football on a Sunday. I had my north star and I was going to get there.
When I first started training my pride kicked in and my motivation was to be #1 in the country and win the cash prize. One thing I teach my clients about motivation is to go 7 layers deep, to really peel off the layer of their why. After reflecting, I found motivation was based on things that are temporary and will shortly fade. I decided my happiness was not going to be based off of whether I won or not. I decided my why would be to be an example to those around me of how you should stick with the hard things even when it’s not easy.
Small things every day add up. Think about where you could be 1 year or 6 months from now if you start by just drinking more water every day, or getting one extra workout in a week, or not eating that snack before bedtime.
Here’s your challenge: pick one small thing that you want to improve on or get better at. Find your motivation.
Remember Your Why
In this blog I want to share some examples of how I’ve used play in different aspects of my life:
Play in my relationship
I was struggling with being snappy, and short with my boyfriend. In addition to praying for patience and to be slow to anger, I decided to make this a game. Everytime I acted this way he could say “Angelica”. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 90s with me, she is a cartoon character who appears in Nickelodeon’s show Rugrats. She is the spoiled brat and serves as the main antagonist of the series. This way he could point out to me in a funny way how I was acting. It could lighten the mood and we could joke about it.
Play at work
My coworkers and I constantly make funny comments and pick on each other in a loving way. Not a day goes by that we don’t laugh at each other for something. It puts us all in a better mood. Laughing is good for the soul. It’s contagious. Can you joke with your coworkers? Try lightening the mood and don’t be so serious all the time.
Play in exercise
I could go on and on about this one. If you do the same things over and over again you will get bored. I love variety and mixing things up. The best way I do this with exercise is by creating a game or changing the repetitions or time intervals of exercises to make it a new exciting challenge. Check out my favorite workout card game (https://becomepowerful.com/2017/10/20/fun-games-get-fit-play/ ).
Play with my community
I do this in tons of different ways. One is game nights with my friends. We rotate different games and try new ones (again variety!). We’ve done a couple escape rooms. Check it out in your area. They have different themes and difficulties. Three, the more artsy side we’ve done things like handcrafted night out and wine & design.
These are just a few examples for you to see how play is a part of everything in your life, and if it’s not, it should be.
Later we will talk about how play is important in overcoming sorrow/times of grief, anxiety/depression, motivation to achieve goals and improve mood.
Until then, find little ways you can play at work, in your relationships, being active and with others in your community.
If you struggle to find happiness in life you aren’t alone. We all go through periods where we may struggle to be happy. Happiness is in us all the time but we lose track of it. We are distracted by constantly trying to do stuff and climb the corporate ladder.
The definition of happy is “feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.”
Here’s what I’ve found to be my happy recipe:
- Remember your core values and beliefs– Are you living in accordance with those? Have you ever thought deeply about those mean to you? Write them down. If you are doing things that don’t line up then make adjustments.
- Do you have a chemical imbalance?- Our bodies are complex and designed to get a well balanced amount of nutrients in order to operate at its best ability. Having low vitamin B, D, magnesium and other vitamins are shown to be linked with depression. Talk to your doctor and have blood work done to see if you have any nutrient deficiencies and try eating a diet with healthy whole foods.
- Stop comparing your life to social media– Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat have gotten way out of hand these days. You only see filtered pictures about how great everyone looks and how amazing their life is. You are left to think your life is boring. I can’t tell you how many times I have commented on my friends Snapchat story and thought they had the best weekend ever just to find out it really wasn’t all that great. You see one happy family photo on the beach and that 60 seconds it took to take that photo was the only time they weren’t fighting all weekend. You never know the real story on the other side of that photo. You don’t know the struggles that person has. We don’t post about those. Can you imagine what would happen to social media if we did?
- Free yourself– Free your heart of hatred. Learn to let things go. Choose not to let little things bother you. Free yourself to give and serve your community. Having an impact on others is shown to bring personal satisfaction. Free your mind of worries.
- Expect less– Live life as you experience it, not as you think it ought to be. If we stop living with expectations of how our life should be and just start being thankful for what we have we can learn to appreciate the small things. The more simply we live the happier we are. Are you working to afford a living or survive life? The more money you have does not bring happiness, it brings more debt. Do you want a higher salary just so you can buy that new car or fancy house? *Check back in with your values to remind yourself what really matters.
- Try journaling– This can be as simple as writing down 3 things you are thankful for every day.
- Make time in your schedule for FUN activities?- Make this as much of a priority as eating and drinking. Once you do, you will see how much better everything else seems to go. We are more productive at work and have better relationships when we allow ourselves this freedom.
Remember, happiness is everywhere but it starts within us. You have to find it. Choose to be happy!
A great resource for instant peptalks to boost positivity is a book by Karen Salmansohn called Think Happy.
Four years ago, I caught word that my colleague and friend Nestor Paonessa would be heading to Mt. Mitchell for a solo expedition while his wife was out of town. I had been thinking of getting back outside and out of my comfort zone and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I quickly invited myself along. Nestor, trying to salvage his peaceful vacation insisted it would be a very difficult trip but I didn’t back down. I had few supplies or gear to speak of and my understanding of camping was limited. I scrambled to borrow gear from friends and bought what I couldn’t gather – including a pair of hiking shoes. I threw everything into a pack, including an entire jar of Peanut butter, and thought I was ready to go. I figured I might be uncomfortable, but I would survive.
I was right, I was uncomfortable, my tent leaked, my shoes gave me blisters because they hadn’t been broken in, my water was disgusting due to the iodine purification tablets, and it rained the entire trip. It was also one of the best experiences of my life. I rediscovered my love of immersing myself in nature and the power that comes with getting outside my comfort zone.
Nestor and I continue to plan new trips for ourselves, but we wanted to find a way we could share our experiences with others less familiar to the outdoors. This is why we have created our first expedition to help others get out of their comfort zone and experience the healing powers of nature. I’m eternally grateful for inviting myself on Nestor’s vacation and to him for not telling me no. Now I invite you to come along and create a new experience for yourself or rediscover an old one.
Your body grows and repairs during the rest phase of your workouts. Most specifically, this happens at night when you are sleeping. Let’s take a deeper dive into the benefits of getting your ZZZZZZ’s at night.
Growth hormone helps restore and rebuild body tissues and muscles. Seventy-five percent of growth hormone is released during sleep, more specifically, the deep sleep stage. We typically cycle through all of the sleep stages four to five times each night and the deep sleep cycle is present in the first 2 to 3 of those cycles. There are several things you can do to contribute to a good night’s sleep and increase the number of sleep cycles you have.
The biggest determining factor to good sleep is your routine leading up to bedtime. Sixty to ninety minutes before bedtime, you should avoid electronics like your tablet or cell phone because the blue light emitted tends to stimulate the brain making it harder to fall asleep. Activities like journaling, mild stretching, and meditation help you relax and fall asleep faster. Finally, being in a room with the lights dimmed also help the brain and body settle down and relax.
Once you head off to bed, you want to make sure the room is dark. Remember, light tends to stimulate the brain and will keep you staring at the ceiling for a while. Optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Body temperature falls as it starts into sleep mode and a cooler room promotes the body cooling allowing you to fall asleep faster. Ultimately, you want to give yourself the opportunity to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
It’s time to snuggle up with a good book and then off to meet the sand man.