Monday, January 31, 2011

Don't Dread the Tread

There's one thing absolutely guaranteed about fitness: options.  One of my all-time favorite things about exercise is the almost limitless variety of healthy stuff to do in my city; if I am bored it is my own darn fault.  We have running clubs, boot camp, cross fit, spinning studios, full-service gyms, personal training studios, a rock climbing gym, our own triathlon and marathon, and miles of beautiful hiking and biking trails.  You have to really try hard to claim ignorance to convince anyone around here that you can't get any exercise.  I'm lucky!

So with all of the options around, sometimes I wonder why I keep ending up on a treadmill.  The answer is simple: I like it.  I work out on a treadmill at least twice a week and its more versatile than you think.  Here's a few things I do to get a great workout on a treadmill; if you hate them I'll give you your calories back.

1. Add Intervals!
I'll admit it - running for an hour on a treadmill is boring. I spice it up by doing intervals, and use a great podcast by Skip Orem, who runs the site  I like episode #138, the Reserve Request HIIT Running Workout for the Treadmill, but there are others as well including podcasts for walkers.  Skip tells you when to run, when to walk, and takes you from leisurely walk to omygodiamgonnapuke in literally 60 seconds. But don't worry, if you do puke, you can hit pause. Skip will wait.

2. Change Direction!
Every few minutes, add 30-60 seconds of  side shuffles or backwards walking to your treadmill workout. The most important thing to keep in mind here is safety - hang on to the side rails until you get your balance so you don't fall and get injured. Then you won't get to workout at all, which is pretty much the opposite of what we're trying to accomplish.  Check out this video for an example of the side-shuffle.  It's a great way to work different parts of your legs, increase your coordination, and work on overall balance. 

3. Mess with the Controls!
Running and walking uphill automatically makes your body work harder and burn more calories.  Plus its great for your butt, and shorts season is coming up so you might want to consider adding some hills to your workout!  Every minute or so, go all "diabolical robot takes over the command center" and mess with the controls on your treadmill.  Increase the incline, speed up the belt, and just wreak havoc on your central nervous system.  Not only will the time fly by, your body will get a great workout just trying to stay one step ahead of you. 

It gets a bad rap for being boring, but your treadmill doesn't have to be a dreadmill!  Stop being so mean to your treadmill and give it another chance!

Good day!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fitness: It Just Has to Be

Any given day you can find stories of amazing people doing incredible things in the name of fitness.  My Twitter feed each day is filled with people posting euphoric updates about their grueling workouts and cheering each other on to achieve more. It can be inspirational as all get-out and I love it!

It can also be intimidating.  I mean, sometimes exercise isn't amazing. Sometimes the workout is just a means to an end: calories burned, body mobilized. We all live for those days when we feel like an Olympian, but sometimes fitness just IS. I think that's okay.

We have so much pressure in our lives to do more, be more, and achieve more.  We don't just run, we train for a marathon!  We don't just lose weight, we reclaim the body of our youth!  And sometimes, on the quest to achieve these amazing things, we forget that fitness doesn't have to be amazing. It just has to be.

You don't have to run a marathon.  Just run.
You don't have to have the body of a supermodel. Just slim down and maintain it.
You don't have to be amazing. You just have to be healthy.

It's not a cop-out, and I am not giving you an excuse to slack off.  It's just a reminder - fitness doesn't have to be a mind-blowingly awesome endorphinpalooza of achievement every single day. So chillax. But!

You do have to get exercise every day.
You do have to eat clean and healthy every day.
You do have to take accountability for your health every single day.

Some of those days will have you feeling like a superhero - those are great beyond words!  Some days will just be what you do because you're a healthy person.

And if you can do those things in this hyperactive world, that's pretty amazing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lessons from the Real Deal

Jack LaLanne, fitness guru and one of my personal heroes, died this week, leaving a legacy that should serve as an inspiration for anyone who wants to live a healthy life.  He lived a life of headlines, achieving feats of strength that make P90X look like Jazzercize. But he also left behind some lessons for the rest of us chumps. I've narrowed them down to four keys that anyone can apply for a healthier life.

1. Even the greats start somewhere. Until the age of 15, Jack LaLanne described himself as a sugarholic, addicted to junk food and headed down a path to obesity.  A lecture on nutrition and exercise served as a turning point in his life; he decided to focus on his diet and exercise habits, studied bodybuilding and weightlifting, and changed that path. It's a reminder to me that everyone starts somewhere and builds up.  You can start today.

2. Expect the impossible to happen. At the age of 61, Jack LaLanne swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge 20 feet underwater handcuffed, shackled, and towing a 2,000 pound boat. He swam, handcuffed, from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, CA. Towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida filled with 77 people for over a mile in less than 1 hour.  Seriously people, that's crazy!  But he did them, and he did it because he believed he could and he trained himself to be able to.  You can do crazy stuff too.

3. Keep your wits about you. I love catchy little sayings, and Jack LaLanne was full of them.  Some of the quips we say and hear every day are attributed to him, and show the positive, no-nonsense approach he took to being healthy. Some of my favorites:

  • Anything in life is possible and you can make it happen.
  • Your waistline is your lifeline.
  • Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.
  • People don’t die of old age, they die of inactivity.
  • First we inspire them, then we perspire them.
  • If man makes it, don’t eat it.
  • It’s not what you do some of the time that counts, it’s what you do all of the time that counts.
  • Eat right and you can’t go wrong.
4. Eat clean. Just eat clean!  I like to say that you can't out-train a bad diet, and I think that Jack would totally high-five me on that one. I can't say it enough: stop eating junk. Please, seriously, it is by far the most important thing you can do TODAY for your health.

Take a lesson from the original - pick your favorite and apply it to your life today. Like, now. :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Power of Positive

I realized yesterday that I spent the first 18 years of my life playing by everyone else's rules and accomplished pretty mediocre things. The next 16 years I played by my own rules and did some really awesome things. I think I am going to stick with my rules.

Last week two awesome things happened thanks to my rules:

1. I was featured on as their Profile of the Month, which tickled me to no end because not only was I flattered, I actually use the site to read up on fitness trends, nutrition, workout ideas, and other fitnessy stuff.  So I was super stoked to be interviewed and I hope you'll check it out.

2. I also finally, after years of procrastinating and making excuses and chickening out, I took and passed my ACE Certified Personal Trainer exam. Hundreds of people get certified as personal trainers every week, so it might not seem like that big of a deal to some. But its something I've been working on - albeit verrrry slowwwwly - for a long time.  I am official!  I can't tell you how happy I am to have that behind me!

As I thought yesterday about everyone else's rules versus mine, and I reflected on last week's relative awesomeness, it became pretty clear pretty quick what the difference was between the two:

positive thinking

My number one rule in fitness, health, goal setting, whatever is to visualize positive outcomes.   Visualize yourself acting consistently, recording your data, being accountable, and acting with intention and you will increase the chances of success exponentially. I've used visualization for everything from test taking to just completing a long run and I truly believe that if I can see it, I can do it. 

And if I can't see it, if my vision is cloudy, I tweak the circumstances until I can and go from there.  That's the great thing about fitness goals - you own them and you can change them!

Last week was a good week, and I could not have experienced it without a lot of consistency, data, accountability, and intention...and without the positive people and visualization in my life each day. Thanks for being part of that!

Tomorrow - lessons learned from one of my favorite positive thinkers, the late great Jack LaLanne.

Good day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

RIP Jack LaLanne

I still remember the first time I saw Jack LaLanne on TV. This compact, pompadour-wearing muscle man dressed all in black, teaching housewives of America how to exercise at home had me staring at the screen in dumbfounded awe.  I didn't know whether to laugh or take notes. His earnest, optimistic, positive, and can-do attitude mesmerized me and endeared me to him for years after. Over the years I have grown to respect Jack LaLanne as a champion of health, pioneer of clean eating, mastermind of brute strength, and example of just clean healthy wellness without pity.

To say that he was an inspiration to me is an understatement. Jack LaLanne performed feats of strength and endurance that boggled my mind. He swam underwater for the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, loaded with 140 pounds of equipment, for pete's sake! He completing over a thousand pushups in a little over 20 minutes, and towed 65 boats filled with thousands of pounds of wood through the water.  He even had a workout for your face!

He also made juicers.

Jack LaLanne died yesterday at the ripe old age of 96. He often said that dying would ruin his image, but I think he showed us all how to live - clean, healthy, and embracing the benefits of health and fitness until the very end.

I hope you'll read up on Jack today and watch some of his old videos.  He was an inspiration then and still is today.  Run an extra lap for Jack!  Or, exercise your face!

Get inspired. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Crazy is the New Normal

Sometimes it seems like there are so many obstacles in our way to fitness.  Here we are three weeks into the new year and some of us are still trying to hit our stride and create the routine that will make exercise just another part of our day.  It can be really easy to throw our hands up and say, "I just need things to be normal again!"  Any number of things come up during the day or the work week that throw a hurdle in our way and make us think that we just can't work with this.
But here's the thing - there is a very good chance that things will never go back to "normal."

Work will always be crazy.
People will always have something for you to do.
Your kids will always have some last-minute thing come up.

Crazy is the new normal. You have to be able to work with that.  Luckily, it's easier than you think.

Think about it - the things you need to do to get and stay healthy - exercise and eat well -  are completely within your control (assuming that the thing that comes up isn't something that severs your limbs. In that case, yeah, you're screwed for a while).  I will pretty much guarantee you that no one is going to come up to you during the day, pry open your mouth, and shove food into it.  Even when your day is crazy, you control what you eat.

The other thing you need to do to get and be healthy is exercise.  Unless your limbs have been severed off or you are otherwise immobile, this is also in your control.  Yeah, I know you're busy, that's why the gym opens at 5:00 am and some are open 24/7.  Go there. Get up early and go!  Or stay up late and go!  Or go at lunch!  Just go!  I'm busy too, and that's why I go workout when the rest of my family is sleeping and no one needs me. 

Life is crazy and will likely never go back to normal.  Crazy is the new normal - work with it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Half-Marathon Primping

Having a picture taken mid-run is
so glamorous. LOL Credit for this goes
to Herb Wills of Trouble Afoot.
So it seems ironic that in this week of body-image and positive self-talk, I have caught myself thinking about a little piece of prep-work in advance of a half marathon I am running in a few weeks: primping for the photos.
Now, not many people look hip and stylish at the end of a race, and I am definitely not one of them. I look exactly as I should - hot, sweaty, worn out, thirsty, and manically hungry.  Not a good look for most people but I give it my all.

And when I see photos of myself in mid-run, I cringe. Not because of negative self-talk or poor body image - because of what I choose to wear!  I don't usually get myself all gussied up for a workout, but I think I may need to start trying a little harder for actual races that take place in daylight and have spectators. Maybe something that doesn't have holes.  You know that old running mantra, "don't race in new gear?"  I need to start doing that.

So I've been doing my half-marathon primping. I consider it a way to build up the anticipation of a race and get psyched.  I got some spiffy new running tights for Christmas, my favorite and not-quite-shabby-yet wicking shirt, and maybe this time I'll wear a hat that doesn't already have permanent sweat stains (and smells) on it.  That would probably be appreciated by my fellow runners.

I don't have a witty ending to this post. I've been wracking my brain for something cute to say here, but I've got nothing.  :)  Today my blog just is what it isn't.

Kinda like my exercise fashion sense.

Good day!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fitness: What you see is not what you get

One of my resolutions for 2011 is to be nicer to myself.  Like many American women, I forget sometimes that the vast majority of the images portrayed by the media are designed to instill powerful emotions of urgency to change something about ourselves. Whether its a new car, a new investment broker, or a new body, the media powers that be are dead-set on convincing us that whatever we currently have is not nearly as good as it could be.

And as a continuous improvement kind of gal, I think there is some truth to that - almost anything can be improved upon. Fitness is the kind of hobby where you can always make advancements, and that makes it fun for me.

But sometimes its easy for those messages to cut a little deeper and make us feel bad about what we have when what we have is actually pretty awesomeYesterday I talked about how sometimes I feel like my flesh-and-blood image doesn't always reflect the amount of effort I put into my fitness, and how focusing on the other benefits of health helps me remember that looking fit is not necessarily the same as being fit.

Today I want to put some muscle to that thought with some ways to do that:

1. Track it. My favorite - log the numbers!  When I spend too much time looking in the mirror, I get out my notebook and start paying attention to something I can manage: the numbers.  I can't control what my body looks like from day to day, but seeing "ran 5 miles" on my calendar this morning felt really good.  Whether I am putting my smiley face stickers on my calendar, jotting down what I did for exercise every day, or posting my workouts on Twitter, seeing it written down is a visual reminder that I am doing something every single day to be healthy. 

2. Internalize it.  So many people kvetch about how they've been working out for two whole weeks and nothing has happened.  Baloney!  Nothing has happened in the mirror, but amazing things have happened inside your body. Your heart is healthier, your brain is working better, your joints are stronger, and your muscles are stronger, not to mention the fact that you're probably less stressed and overall happier.  So quitcherbellyachin and keep moving!

3. Trust it. My Daily Dose today (did you know I can send you a pesky email every morning with some healthy vibes?) was about how fitness happens: if you put in the work, fitness will happen.  Maybe not on your time schedule, but it will happen. Trust that if you eat well and exercise, fitness WILL happen.  It's science.

4. Get over it.  I know someone who will not go to the gym until she loses some weight because she is embarrased about how she looks.  I get that, but you know what?  Its been years and she's never done it.  Get over it.  No one else cares what you look like and besides, they're all too preoccupied with how they look to worry about you.  I promise.

I believe that when it comes to fitness, what you see is not what you get.  The mirror lies, and so does the scale a lot of the time.  Your body, however, is a finely-tuned machine designed to respond positively to good nutrition, exercise, and adequate rest.  Do those things, and fitness will come.

It just might not look how you thought it would. :)

Off you go!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Radio Announcer Syndrome

Have you ever met someone in person and been really surprised by how they look?  I call it the Radio Announcer Syndrome. You always have a mental image of how a radio announcer looks...and then you see them and they never look how you thought they would.

Well, an exchange with an old high school friend made me think about that and how it relates to people in fitness.

I'll just get down to brass tacks - I don't look like I work as hard as I do.  Sometimes I just yell and scream at God for giving me the hand of cards that I have been dealt: a soft, pear-shaped, child-bearing, famine-resistant body that is just as stubborn as I am.  To really get visible muscle tone, I have to exert some serious discipline and be so strict with my nutrition and exercise that it really starts to take the fun out of being healthy. 

It's not fair.

That's why I finally chose doing endurance and physical sporting events over the figure/bodybuilding contests that an old trainer tried to talk me into: I just do not have the genetic makeup for that stuff.  Some girls look like they live in the gym even though they eat crap and lie around all day....others work out hard and do amazing things and are *healthy* as a result...but you wouldn't pick them out of a lineup for having completed a marathon. 

It is totally completely 100% NOT FAIR and I have wasted a lot of energy being angry about it. 

Sometimes I am even embarrased to see people from long ago because I know they expect someone who is uber-ripped, and I wonder if they'll think I am making it all up.  But, over time I have gotten to where I can honestly say I am going to work with what I've got - I can do everything I want to do, I sincerely love love love healthy eating, and endorphins can't see what I look like anyway - they make me feel amazing no matter what

Somedays I think I look pretty darn good and other days I know that like most women, my mirror is lying to me.  Either way, I run almost every morning an an healthy person would not have been able to do that. :) 

Let's get one thing straight - I want to be totally uber-ripped.  It has been a dream of mine since I was a kid.  I love muscles and I love muscles and I love me some muscles.  I can't let go of that dream, even though sometimes I feel like trying to achieve it is an exercise in futility. 

Hey, a girl's gotta dream.

I'm taking my steps towards achieving it, fool-hardy or not.  I can't help it...I just love the chase. :)

Chase something today.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Feeling the change!

Don't wait until the next
exit to start change!
It's been two days since my big back-to-the-weights workout, and I am still sore. I love it!  My arms are sore, my pecs are sore, and I am just sore all over. It's great!

Being sore connects me to a really important reminder of a significant part of my fitness: change. We all know that permanent fitness requires permanent lifestyle changes, but sometimes implementing those changes is hard. Okay, a lot of the time. Remember that "baby sitting your brain" idea of Intention? Well, my brain has been working for the weekend lately and baby sitting it has been a full time job!  

I've got some really fun stuff happening this year and I cannot wait to get to them, but enjoying everything I have in store will require some hard work on my part. It's going to take change - working harder, training smarter, and focusing on some very specific goals.  So the soreness of my muscles this week is a nice reminder that I'm getting closer to those great things.  

What about you?  The new year is two weeks old - what have you done to ignite change in your fitness? What have you done to act on the resolutions or goals you set? Are you sore?

Real change requires real change, plain and simple. There are a lot of commercials on the air right now telling you that you can change your health and fitness without changing anything about your life. That's bull.  But don't worry, changing your life is a good thing!  Check out this super-handy guide to 29 ways to establish change in your life. I've done them and still do. They work.

It's January 14. Are you feeling the burn of change?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back to work (emphasis on back!)

So I was able to use my  consistency, data, accountability, and intention to not get totally derailed from my fitness over the holidays, and even lose a few pounds (which I am still trying to figure out considering the number of mimosas I drank). But now the holidays are but a memory, my work travel is done, and I am faced with a sobering realization: my muscles have turned to mush.

I ran all through the holidays to maintain my calorie deficit, but I didn't do much in strength training beyond maintenance.  I miss my sculpted deltoids, tear-drop quadriceps, firm hamstrings, and all of the other nice trade-offs of spending quality time in the weight room.  So, it's time to get my rear in gear.

Literally, my rear.  I've spent too much time sitting on it lately and, um, you can tell.

So today was my first real day back hitting the weights, and I told my trainer I was ready to work! He did not disappoint. I haven't sweat (sweated?) and grimaced that much in a long time, and it was so nice.

Here's what I did:
Chest flys on the machine (ugh) and alternating arms while lying on the big exercise ball 
Lat pulls and reverse push-ups
Bicep curls with the resistance band and negatives with a weighted bar
Skull-crushers and tricep dips

I am not nearly as strong as I used to be. But at the end, my friend Jenny told me my biceps are looking good!  Yay!  So I guess everything is back to normal now, right?

Ahhhh, it feels good to be back!  And to not be just going through the motions. 

Bring it on, tank top season! I'm not scared.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Have fitness, will travel: being healthy on the road

For the past five days, I have been doing some hard-core hotel living. One of the easiest ways to derail your fitness is to disrupt the routine, and going out of town can easily do it. Unless!  Unless!  Unless you think ahead and make a plan for staying true to your goals despite being in a less-than-optimum locale!  Believe it or not, you can be healthy on the road.  Here's how: bring your food.

Hold on, hear me out.

One of the obvious things I do is to pack my food in an ice chest and bring it with me. And it's not as much of a hassle as you think! And really, which is the bigger pain - packing your cooler or having to decipher restaurant menus and do damage control later?  Automation is a key to success, and having your regular food on hand keeps your fitness automatic. PS- this is also called  consistency.

In this case, though, I was flying so couldn't bring my ice chest. So, I called the hotel and arranged for a fridge in my room.  It was free, and usually is because hotels have guests who need to store medications. And really, food is the ultimate medication, right? Then I packed what I could in my insulated lunch bag, hit up a grocery store when I got to town, and stocked my fridge.  My co-workers tease me when I do this, but by the end of the trip they feel run-down and sluggish after eating catered food for days, and I feel great. Plus, my expense account is a lot less than theirs!

This is living!
Here's what I packed:
5 ziplocks with 1/2 cup dry oatmeal, raisins, cinnamon, and whole cranberries
Lara bars and Clif bars
5 ziplocks with 100-calorie portions of raw almonds
a small bowl and a spoon

And here's what I bought:
Spinach, oranges, and 2 bags of chopped raw veggies
Toufayan low-carb wraps
Boar's Head Ovengold turkey breast
Sabra hummus (4 pack)
Paper towels and Lysol wipes (hotels are nasty, yo)

I cooked my oatmeal each morning by making hot water in the hotel room coffee pot and stirring it into my pre-packaged oatmeal packs.  I had fruit, almonds, and bars on hand for quick snacks, and I had spinach-turkey wrap fixings and veggie/hummus combos for lunch or dinner. I figured I would end up eating one meal out each day, and when I was there I followed my number one restaurant rule: Keep It Simple!  I ordered things with the shortest list of ingredients, which usually amounts to a nice big bowl of delicious fresh vegetables with some grilled fish or  chicken.  If I have dressing with it, I keep it on the side and dip my fork into it instead of pouring it on the food.

If you're on a short trip, a supply of lara bars, almonds, and fruit in your purse can be a lifesaver. But if you're gone more than two days, it really pays off to get the hassle part done early and plan out your food so you can enjoy your time away and not have to face the big reality check when you land back at home.  It's definitely worth it!

I'm back now, which means I have a reality check of my own...finally having time to focus on strength training!  I will not miss hotel living one single bit!

Good day!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Laissez les bon temps à être en bonne santé

Let the good times be healthy!

Mardi Gras is here! I love the atmosphere of this holiday.  The calories, not so muchSo I rolled up my sleeves and healthified some of my favorite hometown recipes so you can celebrate this fun time without sacrificing your health and nutrition.  You're welcome.

I'm from Louisiana, and when I go home, hoo boy it's hard to be healthy. It's like an obstacle course of high-calorie traps, and I have to make sure my consistency, data, accountability, and intention are in full force.  I usually do really well for about two days and then it all goes to hell.  If I can get a run in each day I am there, that really helps me stay focused...and burns the calories off for when I am not so focused. :)

One of my biggest Mardi Gras pitfalls is king cake.  This sugary-sweet cake is like a pandora's box of sugar cravings.  One teeny tiny slice is so gooey and sweet that I feel sluggish and gross when I eat it. But I still want to eat it, and so does everyone else.  So I adapted a recipe that reminded me of king cake into something a lot healthier that won't induce sugar cravings or blow your calorie budget.

I thought about calling this Grown Up King Cake because of the frosting - its a yogurt-based glaze with a lot less sugar than store-bought icing - but when I brought this to a party for some test sampling, adults and kids alike scarfed it down. It felt so good to tell them that the cake they were eating was only 140 calories a slice and made with whole wheat and low sugar.  But no, that doesn't mean you should have two.  Food is still fuel!  It's just not realistic to think that I will go to Mardi Gras and not eat king cake.  So this fuel isn't exactly high-octane, but it isn't going to put sugar in my tank when I am out at the parades. 

The rest of my Mardi Gras Menu includes my Actually Healthy Jambalaya and Red Beans and Brown Rice.  You can find all three recipes on the "Healthy Mardi Gras?" page at the top of your screen! 

I hope you have a great Carnival season and are able to enjoy it without losing ground on your fitness and wellness goals.  And here's some lagniappe - if you need a reminder (or a way to burn off the calories) check out the Mardi Gras Rock and Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans on February 13.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Champion of Change: Intention

We've come to the final champ of the Champions of Change!  I think this one is the opposite of the no-brainer: it's your brain. You have to decide to make change in your brain. You have to have intention.

So many people say they want to change their lives for the healthier, but what they really want is what every diet commercial tells them they can have: the benefits of change without really having to change.  Has that ever really happened?  Real change requires real change, plain and simple. If you don't do anything different, nothing different will happen.

What is it they say about the definition of insanity?

A good friend of mine commented the other day about intention, in a conversation we were having about - what else? - personal wellness and what it takes to maintain it in an instant gratification society.  There are so many opportunities in our daily lives to stray away from the changes we want to make and go back to unhealthy habits.  But, she said, you really have to decide to change.  That's where we came up with the image of "babysitting your brain."  Sometimes you have to sit on your own shoulder and babysit your brain to keep it from doing stupid stuff.

See, our brains are smart, but they're stubborn and pampered.  They're used to getting their own way.  Kind of like toddlers!  Toddlers are smart, but they're stubborn, pampered, and used to getting their way. And what happens when a toddler doesn't get their way?  Oh yeah. They throw a fit.  They throw themselves on the floor, kick and pound their fists, cry and scream, and carry on until we give in and give up.

Does this sound like a brain you know?

Brain: I want to sleep more.
You: No, we're getting up to exercise.
Brain: But this bed is so cozy! I don't wanna!
You: Yes, that's what we're doing today. Lying in bed made us flabby and sluggish. We're going to feel good today.

And so on.  If you are persuing your goals without intention to change, this is where you may give in: "okay, fine, but we're working out tomorrow and this time I really mean it."  Brain is happy. You not so much. Brain learns that it doesn't really have to change if it throws a big enough fit.

But if you have intention - that is the decision to make changes no matter what - then this is where you pull the brakes on your brain's temper tantrum and put it in the time-out chair until your workout is done.  You intended to make change, and you made it. And because your brain is so smart, it begins to catch on that things are going to change around here and it better start being nicer.  Before you know it, your brain becomes your partner.

Does that make sense?  You went into the situation as the grown-up, intending to be in control and sticking to your guns despite the roadblocks your brain threw in front of you. 

Intention means deciding to change. 

Try it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Champion of Change: Accountability

Do you have a fitness or health goal for 2011?  Then go public! We're on the third Champion of Change and that champ is accountability.

Accountability is the hardest tool, I think. Consistency takes discipline, data takes time, but accountability takes a lot more. To truly be accountable, you have to be willing to quit putting lipstick on a pig and be brutally honest about what you're doing.  That takes humility and guts. But it's a powerful tool so its worth it.

An easy way to incorporate accountability into your wellness is to go public. Why do you think so many people start fitness blogs, Twitter handles, join online forums, or exercise in groups?  They know that simply having an audience will encourage (or shame) them into following through on their goal.  And more times than not, that audience will celebrate your victories, help you get up when you fall, and motivate you when you're not sure you can do it.  I started this blog back in 2008 for accountability, and I've done more than I ever imagined I could.

But there are some pitfalls - when you're looking for an exercise buddy or cheering squad, make sure you're not just getting an enabler.  For accountability to work, you should have mutual interests, a positive attitude towards each other's goals, a real desire to change, and dependability. If the person you pinky-swore on New Year's Eve to exercise with every day this year hasn't shown up for a workout yet, and as a result you haven't shown up for a workout yet....well you see what I mean.  That kind of buddy can do more harm than good.  

Accountability can be a tough pill to swallow, but if you're serious about your wellness you'll look into it. Don't be afraid to go public with your goals.  It can add an entirely new and unexpectedly wonderful aspect to your wellness that can be a springboard to amazing things.

Your audience is waiting for you!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Champion of Change: Data

Data. Info. Also known as reality. The champion of change for today is good old fashioned knowing stuff.

Specifically knowing stuff about you: what's going in and what's coming out. And just so we're clear, I'm talking about diet and exercise.  This is a family blog! Actually it's not necessarily but anyway that's beside the point.

The point is, you can have all the consistency in your healthy behaviors that you want but if you're not paying attention to the cold hard facts of your wellness, it's like going for a run with your shoelaces untied - you're going to get tripped up.  You need to pay a certain amount of attention to the numbers, and the amount of effort you're willing to put in here will determine the rate of your success.  Of course, you can also go overboard like I do and be so laden down with data that you go insane.  But that's just me.

Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there for collecting, analyzing, and using your wellness data.  I'm going to focus on the most important and simplest ones today: what you eat and what you burn.

First, the food.  It's always the food, isn't it?  The most important thing you can do for your wellness is to eat clean. But healthy food has calories, too, so it also helps to measure your portions and log it so you can look for trends, stay accountable, and plan for obstacles like travel and parties.  I do this with a digital kitchen scale and the online food journal for my GoWearFit.  I also used for years, and there are dozens more.  Find one that works for you, enter your portions accurately, and use it!  I could talk for days on the value of a good food journal and maybe someday I will.  You've been warned.

Second, the body. You already know the formula for calculating your daily caloric burn, and your food journal will tell you whether you are staying within your chosen range.  But you can also get data about your body that can help you choose an exercise program, proper equipment, and prevent injury. Last week I underwent a movement screen at Boot Camps to Go, which taught me a lot about my body's range of motion, flexibility, potential for injury, and opened my eyes to some preventative maintenance I can do through stretching and strength training to make my workouts a lot more enjoyable.  Laurel Blackburn offers movement screens at her warehouse, and you can schedule one for yourself.  Now that I have some fun data about the bag of bones I've got to work with, I'm working on my weak points, building a better body, and looking forward to following up with her to see what kind of progress I made.  Check it out - it's really cool.

I can't end a post on data without foaming at the mouth over my GoWearFit.  This thing is like the data holy grail.  I can see my calorie burn, log my food, and even see my sleep quality. It's nuts. Six months after buying it, I'm still in love and use it every day.  In fact, it helped me lose five pounds over the holidays just because I had ready access to undeniable data.  If you're serious about weight loss or maintenance, get one.

Reality bites, man. Sometimes the data we collect isn't what we want to see. But I promise you 100% over and over, when you start using it and functioning in the reality of your wellness, you won't hate data for long. It will become your wing man. 

Yeah...let data become your wing man!  Now get going! :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Champion of Change: Consistency

It is so nice to not need to detox this week. Since I was more or less on my plan over the holidays I only had about two days when I really felt like I just wanted to drink water and detox my system from sugar overload. And today, on the first Monday in January, I feel great. I lost weight (I know, crazy!) over the holidays, stayed active, and don't feel like I need to eat raw spinach and soup for a week to undo any nutritional damage. Nice!  Very nice!

And how did I do it? I was consistent. I ran almost every day, I logged each single bite of holiday goodies that I ate, and I drank gallons of water. I stuck to my plan! And trust me, I feel very indulged. I never thought I would say it, but I am actually tired of chocolate. LOL

Consistency is how goals sneak up on you. When you make being healthy an actual lifestyle, you end up on the first Monday in January feeling pretty darn good and realizing it wasn't that hard.

Consistency doesn't mean the same thing every day, it just means doing something towards your goal every day. 

Consistency doesn't mean being perfect every day, but it does mean making a mindful effort towards accomplishing your health goals. Every day.

I've been very consistent with using the word consistency in this blog because I want you to remember it today. :)  It's one of the first of my four Champions of Change.  Getting it is easy: just make goals that you can do on a consistent basis.  You want to know the best diet for you? The one you will follow forever. The best workout to blast fat? The one that you'll do every day.  When you execute on your plan every day, consistently, you'll see success.

There are a lot of ads and gimmicks out there right now promising that you can change your body without changing your life.  You can't. You have to make permanent lifestyle changes if you want a permanently changed life.  

Luckily, you can totally do that. Permanent isn't permanent if you can't do it every day. What can you consistently change?  Change it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome to the best year ever

Happy New Year!
We made it! 

It's 2011, the best year of our lives!  I can't wait to dig right in and see what's waiting for me.

I'm so completely excited about 2011 
I can hardly stand myself.

I started my New Year's Day with a nice run, and will end it with some of the stretches I learned in the functional movement screen that I did this week with Laurel Blackburn at Boot Camps to Go. I'll tell you more about that on Monday when we dive into talking about some of the fundamentals of starting healthy habits that will stick all year.  

Today, get out there and breathe some good, fresh air into your lungs!  Have a great day, a great workout, and a wonderful New Year's Day.

Ready or not, here we gooooooooo!