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September Reset and Prioritizing what Matters – YOU

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Labor Day – A Time to Reflect

Labor Day is a time to reflect on the state of the American worker and the picture is pretty dismal. Most Americans are overworked, stressed out and don’t take any time off to recharge.

For me, this Labor Day is a different experience as I am now among the millions of self-employed and entrepreneurs in the U.S. And while being your own boss provides some freedoms and better control of your schedule, it also brings new stresses and worries which makes self-care and wellness even more important.   I get it…easier said than done, Niki. I know that the struggle is real to find all the time needed to incorporate exercise, meal prep, meditation, relaxation, etc. in addition to work, running a household, being a parent and/or partner, finding time to volunteer or doing other things that bring you joy.

While carving out time for yourself seems selfish, and sometimes impossible, when there are so many other people and priorities in your life, it is absolutely necessary to give your full self to those other priorities.

woman wearing black fitness outfit performs yoga near body of water
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5 Self-Care Strategies

Not sure where to start or how to find that time in your super-hectic schedule? Read on, my over-scheduled friend.

  1. Unfriend Social Media. How many times a day do you find yourself aimlessly scrolling Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? The average person spends about 2 hours a day on popular platforms. That’s plenty of time for a workout, shower and healthy lunch. Keep your phone in another room at night and get up and get moving before you become distracted by tweets, posts and pics.
  2. Set Hours of Operation. Once you start putting the phone out of sight, send the laptop there too! Set “hours of operation” like any retail business would. Even if you bring home some work, pick a time that you will work, ex: 7-8 or 9-10 p.m. and stick to it. Otherwise, a few minutes here and a half hour there will completely take over your whole evening.
  3. Work your Mind & Body Simultaneously. You don’t have to choose between exercising your mind or body. Like to read? Want to catch up on a podcast? Do it while you’re on the treadmill, bike or elliptical. Instead of sweating to 90s Hip Hop every morning (which is awesome, BTW), pick a few workouts each week where you’ll fuel your brain and work your bod at the same time and you’ll be better for it in the long run.
  4. Get a Friend’s Status IRL. If you pause the social scroll, reach out to a friend in real life and schedule a wellness date to catch up.  Take a yoga class together and then grab coffee. Or, do meal planning/prep at one of your houses with a bottle of wine and your favorite recipes. Make double batches of your healthy dishes to share with each other.
  5. Plan with your Partner (and family). When your life is over-scheduled and non-stop, make it a point to have a planning session each week or at the start of each month to map out all the commitments. Then, find pockets for self-care and block the time for whatever recharges your battery. Be sure to post the calendar somewhere (or share online) where everyone can access it.
adult blond board brunette
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New Season; Renewed Focus

There will never be time for wellness, eating healthy or exercise if you don’t make the effort to find the time. Look at this new season as a new start, like a new year and resolve to refocus, reset and re-energize your efforts.

Bottom line, you can let the season take over your life with work, sports and school or you can take control of the season to ensure you have time for the things that make you healthier, happier and more productive for all parts of your life.

Want more info on how to get back on track, set goals, and re-prioritize your health? Let’s chat! Schedule a time by sending an email to info@niki-campbell.com or schedule it online.

 

Personal wellness, Uncategorized

The Summer Shift – Falling into New Routines

a man and a woman assisting a girl while jumping
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Back to school is here and that means cooler temperatures, less daylight and the routine of homework, after-school activities and sports. Even if you don’t have children, Fall signals a change in pace and focus. Work picks up again. The push to meet those year-end goals is now a high priority!

If doing the happy dance at the bus stop this morning or running to catch the train was the first exercise you’ve done all summer, and your diet has consisted of the 3 B’s: BBQ, burgers and beers…you’re not alone. Most people relax their health and fitness goals during the fun of summer.

But if too much of summer relaxing has caught up to you and those Fall jeans and sweaters are a little snug, don’t panic! Before you make a run to the local mall to size up your wardrobe or resign yourself to wearing sweats all winter – there’s plenty of time to shape up before the real craziness of the holiday season kicks in! And, it doesn’t mean you have to commit to two hours of daily sweat or surviving on a diet of celery sticks and water. In fact, you can reset habits in just a few weeks to kickstart your weight-loss and start feeling better.

Try these tips to restore some order to your health and fitness routine:

  1. Don’t look back. No regrets if you took the summer or even most of 2018 off from your health and wellness goals. You made memories and had fun. You can’t change it so don’t focus on it. Today is a perfect day to start. Onward and upward!
  2. Set a 30-day SMART goal. SMART goals are – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. Creating a 30-day goal will give you something to work toward without it becoming overwhelming. For example, a SMART goal might be, “To lose 5 lbs. by walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week and keeping my calories to 1400 a day.”
  3. Put a plan in place. Nothing is truer than the quote “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” No weight-loss or health goal is attained without a plan. It’s not fun to plan. Just one hour every Sunday to set up a calendar of workouts and meals can eliminate spur of the moment decisions later in the week that lead to skipping workouts and ordering pizza.
  4. Get a support network in place. When family, friends and co-workers know what you’re trying to accomplish, they are more likely to help you stick to your plan. It’s especially important to get your immediate family on board with meal planning and protecting your time to exercise. A spouse or older kids can help with preparing meals and taking care of younger children while you work out or pair up with a neighbor to help each other stay accountable.
  5. Celebrate the little accomplishments. Don’t wait until you reach your ultimate goal to celebrate. Recognize the small wins along the way. That keeps you motivated to push forward. That might mean treating your family to healthy take out after two weeks of preparing and eating meals at home. Or, allowing yourself to have a piece of good dark chocolate after a stressful week where you avoided office donuts, happy hours and other diet disasters!
women s in white scoop neck mini dress in front of boy s in gray top and blue shorts
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Getting back on track and then maintaining healthy habits is a process and lifestyle.

You didn’t get off track or gain weight overnight – so changing those habits won’t be a quick fix. While Fall is the perfect time to refocus on you, be patient with yourself on this journey. There will be obstacles along the way but if you get started now, you will be healthy for the holidays and ready to take on all the stress and fun that come with them.

If the idea of having your meals planned for you and getting the daily coaching and accountability you know you need to succeed sounds awesome…join one of my Fall group programs!

KetoFast – a 28-day Keto and Intermittent Fasting Program that accelerates weight loss or Back to Basics – a 28-Day balanced, clean eating plan to reset habits and kick start weight loss.

 

 

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I’m here to light a fire…

I sensed you needed a little nudge today. A little push. A little fire lit under your ass. To get moving toward making some healthy changes in your life.
While I know you want to wait until vacation is over or when the kids go back to school but there will always be something that stands in your way and makes getting healthy a giant pain in the rear end (didn’t want to use ass twice…oops did it anyway).
So I’m here to get that fire going and stoke the flames a bit to help you make the change you’ve been putting off.

Maybe you’ve tried this a hundred times and each time you’ve failed and you feel crappy and revert back to what’s comfortable and safe. Boo hoo. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and try again. That’s right. A little tough love too. I’ve failed at many things related to my health and fitness journey and I just keep getting back out there and trying.

If you are feeling completely frustrated because it seems that nothing is working or you are at a plateau, I want you to do this exercise (no sweat will be shed).
1. Take 5 minutes and write down everything you WISH you were or WISH you had as it relates to your health. There are no bad or wrong answers. And, no one has to see this list so be as ambitious as you want. Maybe you wish for a smaller butt or better abs, or maybe just for a good night’s sleep. It’s not selfish to wish for these things.

2. Then, write down what’s standing in your way. Brainstorm all the “valid” reasons/excuses you can think of that keep you from achieving these things. If you are super organized, you can create a table and for every wish you can write down a corresponding barrier across from it. Or just freestyle it.

3. Then, cross off the wishes that cannot be achieved because of something that is out of your control. You wish you could play competitive tennis but have a back injury that would prevent that – at least for right now. You wish you could attend a noon spin class but your work schedule isn’t flexible. Then, look at what is left and pick 1-3 things you can focus on – eating healthier, losing weight, reducing stress.

4. Spend an HOUR making a plan for one of them. Table the others for future goals. Let’s say you wish you could plan and prepare healthier dinners. Spend ONE HOUR researching healthy and easy dinner recipes and pick 3 to try. Don’t spend a full day on this. Limit the time, pick 3 and buy the ingredients. Done. Often, we find ourselves spending hours and hours trying to find the perfect workout, recipe, etc. and then give up because we’re frustrated. Don’t get caught in that trap. Set a timer and stick to it. Progress not perfection.

Do this once a month or once a week if you need to refocus. Need help? Ask someone you trust who has done what you are hoping to achieve. You are not required to do this alone.

And, if you need more support, join an online group that helps you get info and support. Like mine! Or, jump into one of my group coaching experiences – Back to Basics or KetoFast. Both start August 6. More info is below but you can get started by filling out my group program application here: https://goo.gl/forms/Ogp6kRh4KO6MzSkA3

Whatever you decide to do, stop thinking about it and start doing it. Every day that goes by and you avoid taking care of yourself, you’re missing out on life, energy, happiness.

That’s no way to live – so let’s change it! Let’s start crossing off some of those wishes on your list!

xoxo

niki

GROUP COACHING EXPERIENCES – STARTING AUG. 6


Back to Basics

This meal plan is a balanced nutrition approach. All food groups. Real food. Whole food. Clean food. Lower in carbs but not restrictive. This is for you if you’ve not focused on your nutrition in a while and need to get back on track but you aren’t ready for a more aggressive or specialized weight loss program. You can expect to lose up to 10 lbs. in a month with this program, if done right with the right coaching! It includes a 28-Day complete meal plan developed and approved by a registered dietitian. It comes with all the recipes, grocery lists, food swaps, etc. you need to implement the program. Plus…a success guide to ensure your success, a private Facebook group with other like-minded women who have similar goals. AND – most importantly – it comes with me! A certified health coach and personal trainer who will guide you day by day, week by week through this program and provide specific coaching and support.

Reserve your spot here: Back to Basics

KetoFast Round #4!

This is my most popular program because the results can be incredible. KetoFast combines clean Keto nutrition (low carb, high fat and moderate protein) and Intermittent Fasting (eating within a restricted window of time – typically 8 hours). The two approaches together force your body to burn more fat because there are fewer carbohydrates for fuel and you have put your body in a fasted state. It includes a 21-Day complete meal plan developed and approved by a registered dietitian plus a transition week where I teach you how to do Keto on your own! It comes with all the recipes, grocery lists, food swaps, etc. you need to implement the program. Plus…a success guide, a private Facebook group. AND – most importantly – it comes with me! A certified health coach and personal trainer who will guide you. 

Reserve your spot here: KetoFast

questions? Email me at nikicamp@gmail.com

 

Personal wellness, Uncategorized

182.5 and Counting…

1894381-Kara-Goucher-Quote-Progress-is-rarely-a-straight-line-There-areGuess what today is? Day #182.5 (at noon ET for me). The official midpoint of 2018. 

So…how are you doing on the health and wellness goals and resolutions you set for 2018? Are you halfway to achieving them? Statistically speaking you’re probably among the 80% who gave up on their resolutions by February. Ouch. Sorry.

I’m not trying to call you out and make you feel badly. Instead, I’m giving you a big old pass on all of it. I despise New Year’s resolutions and avoid making them at all costs. And you should too. Because your best intentions don’t always account for life. How on earth are you supposed to know what might happen in March, August or December of the coming year to be able to plan a year-long health or fitness goal?  You’d have to be a fortune teller to be able to predict that.

In the last 6 months I changed jobs, started my own business and decided to become a group fitness instructor. Some of that was planned, but not all of it. And, none of the stress or schedule disruption was accurately predicted. As such, my fitness and nutrition commitments shifted based on my life and schedule. That’s ok!

Sooooo…if you are one of the 80%, take a deep breath and read on for my 5 tips to Get Fit by the end of 2018.

Notice…no use of the word “resolution”. I promise you this. If you do these 5 things consistently until the end of the year, you will feel better, lose weight (if you need to) and have more energy. I’ll bet you a free personal training session if it doesn’t work.

  1. Cut the Carbs. Even the so-called whole grain “good ones”. I’m reading The Obesity Code, which basically reveals that all conventional dieting wisdom is a bunch of CRAP and that weight loss and weight gain is all about insulin and insulin resistance. And, what raises insulin? Refined, highly-processed carbs. Even the whole grain carbs we’ve been told are better for us. I am challenging you to track what you eat for one week and then cut the carbs you consume in half. Yep. In. Half. Do that for a week and see how you feel?
  2. Stop the Snacking. Again, the advice you’ve been given for years that “grazing” is the best way to control blood sugar is kinda bogus. So, yes, maintaining blood glucose levels is important so you don’t have big spikes and valleys. However, you can do that by simply eating 2-3 meals a day without lots of snacks. Plus, your body needs time between meals to rest and digest. If you keep feeding it, you keep it working to burn what you’ve just eaten – and you don’t get to burning what is stored as fat. Let your body burn through your meal first. Don’t snack but instead let your body use stored glucose and fat to sustain you until the next meal.
  3. Bail on Breakfast. I hate to be the breakfast buzzkill but the lobbying industry and cereal companies came up with “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Not science or researchers. Breakfast literally means to break a fast. Doesn’t say it has to be first thing in the morning. Most of us aren’t even hungry yet and our body releases the needed hormones and energy to get us through the morning. My challenge to you, try putting off your first meal until later –11 a.m. or noon. It’s called intermittent fasting and it’s a game changer when it comes to your health and wellness. I’ve been doing it for a while now and it has helped with not only weight loss but inflammation, energy, sleep, etc. Download my IF 101 for a primer on how to get started. But the bottom line is this…if you aren’t hungry at 7 a.m., don’t force yourself to eat. By delaying the release of insulin, you’ll burn more stored fat for energy.
  4. Leave the Calorie Counting Cult. Ok…my clients are probably like, WTH?? You make us track all our calories. And, I do. As a way to be aware. Not obsessed. Again, The Obesity Code has taught me that quantity of calories is LESS important than the quality and the timing. So, while it’s good to be aware of what, when and why you’re eating, I don’t think it’s a good idea to freak out if you go over what you believe to be your maximum calories. I also encourage the idea of eating mindfully and stopping when you feel full and starting when you feel hungry.
  5. Wash it Down with Water. For once and for all…stop the soda, diet soda, Crystal Light drinks, stevia, Splenda, etc. Drink water. Put some fresh fruit in it to infuse some flavor but choose water as your go-to beverage at meal time and throughout the day. You should be drinking ½ your body weight in ounces PLUS 8 oz. for every cup of caffeine you drink (coffee, tea, etc.) because as magical as caffeine is…it’s dehydrating.

This is my advice to those who find themselves at the midpoint of 2018 and no further along with their health and wellness goals.

None of these are cutting edge or questionable. They are legit in terms of science and can help you start to feel good, look good and be confident.

Have more questions about these or another health and wellness topics? Let’s talk! Fill out my FREE Wellness Assessment and get a 30-minute Well Chat where you can pick my brain for 30 minutes on anything wellness related.

Until next time…be happy, be healthy and have some fun!

Xoxo

Niki

food, Personal wellness, Uncategorized

Carbs ARE the Enemy – If We Let Them Win

Well…it’s official. I’ve gone from a grammar geek to a nutrition nerd. Actually, I’m still a grammar geek but now I’ll walk around equipped with a red pen AND a BMI calculator.
What has me all worked up? Macronutrients. I know – super controversial. But it is! In the last two days I’ve read two articles citing studies that point to the real and present danger refined carbs present. What are refined carbs, you ask? They aren’t classy carbs that are well educated. Refined carbs are white rice and pasta, cakes, cookies, commercially prepared breads and baked goods. All the stuff we’ve grown to love.

In these articles, two things stood out to me as a middle aged woman (only one of these applies to you, fellas):

1. “A growing body of evidence seems to indicate that the modern Western diet – high in processed and refined foods – can lead to cognitive decline and dementia.” 

2. ” Each portion of carbs, such as pasta and rice, consumed per day correlated with experiencing menopause 1.5 years earlier. “

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m in no hurry to experience dementia or menopause so why wouldn’t I look at my diet and try to improve it? We’re not talking about taking more pills or doing something otherwise dangerous. This is about breaking up with nutrient-deficient carbs in exchange for with nutrient-rich foods like lean proteins, legumes, eggs, vegetables, etc.

I’m all about feeding myself properly to avoid taking a pill…call me crazy! As good old Hippocrates said, “Let food by thy medicine.” Right on, man.

What I’m here to tell you is that I know…and science supports…the fact that refined carbohydrates are not healthy. Period. So, instead of trying to convince you of that (I’m happy to send loads of research your way), I’m focusing on how I can help you break that addiction (it’s an addiction for real).

I love finding ways to eat what I crave but in a healthier way. So, as you consider your carb intake, keep these 3 tips in mind.

 

1. Fiber first. If you are going to have carbs eat those with lots of fiber. Fiber isn’t sexy but it’s a hardworking micro-nutrient that keeps you fuller, helps your digestive tract function properly, and it grabs cholesterol on its way out.  Read labels to see how much fiber is contained in a food.  Just because something says “whole grain” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You should be aiming for at least 25 grams of fiber a day and the easiest way to do that is to eat foods that have natural fiber in them – vegetables, fruit and whole grains that are minimally processed.

2. Sneaky sugar. Sugar is a carb. And it has many names. Worse yet, it’s in almost everything! Condiments. Pasta sauce. Dairy products. Naturally occurring sugar in fruit (fructose) isn’t the culprit here. Fruit also has fiber which is a benefit to your system (see tip #1). I’m talking about artificial sugars (even the calorie free versions) and sugars by other names – dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, carob syrup, maltodextrin, and the list goes on. There are some 60 different names for sugar. Don’t be fooled by the verbiage and check everything — sugar (and therefore carbs) can show up where you least expect it.

3. Fear not the Fat. Fat has a bad reputation. For decades, we were told to eat low or non fat foods. YUCK! The problem with eating no fat is that you aren’t satisfied after you eat. Furthermore, to take fat out and still make a food taste good, you have to add a bunch of artificial crap (did you ever read the label of nonfat sour cream? It’s a science experiment). Let me give a real example. It’s taco Tuesday and you make lean ground turkey taco meat and top it with non-fat sour cream and low fat cheddar cheese. There’s very little fat in that meal. You think it’s healthy and it may be low calorie but you eat one taco and it’s meh. Then you think, well, this is low fat so I can one (or 3) more. All the while, you aren’t really enjoying it because fake sour cream and cheese taste like plastic goo. You end up eating more, feeling less satiated and in a few hours you’re craving something else. Fat makes you happy. If you had made those tacos with grass-fed ground beef, real sour cream, real cheese and some yummy avocado slices on top, you would feel full and satisfied with 1 or 2 tacos. Why? Because, unlike carbs and protein, which have 4 calories per gram – fat packs a bigger calorie punch with 9 calories per gram. That helps keep you feeling full longer. When you cut fat out, you risk eating too many carbs and often, not the good ones. When you do, you play the blood sugar game of highs and lows all day – chasing more energy with coffee and a snack from the vending machine.

Word of warning: If you jump on the “fat is good” bandwagon but still eat a lot of carbs, your body will naturally use the carbs first and store the fat. Oops. Not what you wanted. So you need to balance it and chose wisely…from sources like nuts, avocados, coconut oil, salmon, shellfish and grass-fed or organically-raised meats. Spoiler alert…Trans fat is still nasty and bad. Don’t go there!
I hope these tips help you sort through the never-ending debate over carbs and fat. Protein somehow always looks good in these discussions…but that’s another topic for another blog post!

The bottom line is this…you need carbs. For your body and your brain.

The reality is…you probably don’t need as many as you’re consuming and if you want to lose weight, it could be what’s standing in your way.

With this new found knowledge you might be thinking, “hey I want to change my diet a bit and eat more of that yummy, healthy fat Niki was talking about.”

Yay! Wait, though…I haven’t even told you the best part of higher fat and lower carb… eating healthy fats can help you lose fat. True story.
So if wanting a little more fat in your diet while losing the fat on your butt seems like a win-win to you, consider joining me and other like-minded peeps in my KetoFast program – a combo of a Ketogenic meal plan with an Intermittent Fasting eating schedule.

A Ketogenic diet and lifestyle is higher in fat, low in carbs and moderate in protein. Done right, it helps your body adapt to using fat as a preferred energy source vs. carbohydrates. And, when combined with Intermittent Fasting (another educational blog post coming your way soon!) it makes your body a better fat burning machine.

My KetoFast program isn’t the typical Keto diet.

You can’t eat endless quantities of cheap, greasy burgers without the buns, and pounds of deli meat and convenience store beef jerky. It’s clean. Low in preservatives and sodium. It’s moderate in carb consumption (about 50 grams per day). These differences make it a lifestyle instead of a DIET (ugh, hate that word). Most people who start a DIET don’t succeed because it’s not sustainable. Strict Keto diets limit you to 20 grams of carbs a day. That’s very difficult to maintain especially when you consider that things like vegetables, nuts and some proteins contain carbohydrates. And, I’m not about advocating for a no carb approach.  It teaches you how to eat healthier all around for sustained weight loss and greater wellness.

If you’re interested, I’m going to be doing a webinar to explain the program and share some results my test group is experiencing. I’ll also be talking about how Intermittent Fasting plays a role and amplifies your results.

Hit me up if you’d like to receive an invitation to the webinar. If you’re already familiar with Keto and want info on the program. We start soon and I’d love for you to be part of it! Email me at nikicamp@gmail.com

I want us all to be better informed about the nutrients that fuel us so we can eat better, live longer and have active lives.

Have a happy and healthy day!

Niki

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Start Where You Are

arthur ashe

Whether you have 5 of 55 pounds to lose, knowing where to start and how to build momentum can be daunting. Especially if you haven’t focused on your nutrition or fitness for some time. Figuring out how to change your diet, exercise more, plan healthy meals, drink more water and get more sleep can be overwhelming. That overwhelm can lead to procrastination and eventually giving up. I know. I’ve been there and I work with many women who have experienced this over and over again. They are frustrated as I’m sure you are too.

So, when I have a client come to me out of ideas and tired of starting and stopping, my advice is simple.

 

Just START.

 

Yep, That’s it.

 

START. With whatever you have. Whenever you can. As much as you can.

I’ve always been of the mindset that something is better than nothing. A 15 minute walk is better than sitting on the couch. The choice of vinaigrette is better than a creamy ranch dressing. Prepping 2 dinners this week is better than none.

The problem is, women in particular get caught up perfection paralysis. If I don’t have time to do it perfectly, why bother? Instead of thinking, “I have 20 minutes to exercise today instead of an hour – how can I maximize that time?”

Let’s face it…there’s never a perfect time to get healthier. And many of us get “stuck” believing that we have to all the things to improve our health. Things like a gym membership, the best gear, a fancy fitness tracker and tons of time. Or, a meal planning service, all organic food and complicated recipes for perfectly balanced meals.

Here’s a big fat truth bomb for you…you don’t need any of that. In fact, if you have a pair of shoes suitable for walking and a kitchen where you can prepare a meal, you are ready to make a change and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

So, in the face of imperfect lives and time crunched schedules how do you get going and stay on the right track? Where do you start? Here are three SIMPLE ways to make a change in the coming week. PICK ONE.

1. WALK. Pick one day and walk. Walk anywhere. Or nowhere (on a treadmill). On an indoor track or outside in your neighborhood.  Just walk for 20-30 minutes at a pace that challenges you. Then, end with a 5 minute stretch. Walking clears your head and gets your heart pumping. Better yet, it motivates you to make other healthy choices (very few people follow up a walk with a giant hot fudge sundae).

2. COOK. Cook one dinner at home. Dinner cooked at home is usually proven to be healthier than one that is ordered or eaten out at a restaurant (unless you buy a frozen pizza and pop it in the oven). Make enough to take the leftovers for lunch the next day. Don’t get hung up on making it perfectly healthy. Just make it at home.

3. PROTECT. Your time. Everyone wants your attention. Say no to one thing you really don’t need to do, or perhaps don’t want to do. The world will continue to spin, I promise. And, you’ll get back a few minutes for what really matters to you (family time, meal prep or exercise).

So that’s it. No complicated plans or programs. Simple strategies for taking small steps forward with your health and wellness. Did you notice that each idea suggests that you do something ONCE. One walk. One dinner. One “no”. This isn’t about completely overhauling your life and doing something EVERY DAY. It’s about one thing at a time; one day at a time. It’s about JUST STARTING.

If you’ve started to make healthy changes but would like some additional coaching and support, get scheduled for a FREE 30-minute Well Chat. Simply fill out this form and I’ll be in touch.

Looking for a tribe that will encourage, support and kick your butt a little? Join my Fit, Fab & Fierce Tribe on Facebook. Lots of great info and supportive ladies in there.

Other questions? Hit reply and let’s talk. And, remember, this is all about JUST STARTING with one thing to get closer to the healthier lifestyle you desire. Don’t overthink it!

Much love,

Niki

Personal wellness, Uncategorized, Workplace Wellness

Don’t Let that Extra Daylight Fool You

ecard

Spring ahead into a busier schedule

Daylight Saving Time is here and with it comes more daylight and more “stuff” to cram into our already hectic 24 hours. Somehow, we rationalize that more sunlight gives us more time (it doesn’t, obvi) yet little of that “new found” time is spent on ourselves. Wait. What? We get all this energy around more daylight and then fill it with other people’s priorities. Hmm. Ok. How’s that working for ya?

Look – more daylight or not, we have 24 hours to spend every day. Think of it as $24 that shows up in your wallet every time the clock strikes midnight. Let’s pretend that each dollar represents an hour of your day. How do you spend it? What do you prioritize?

Here’s how mine used to be spent on a weekday:

  • $10 on work (in the office, commuting or traveling)
  • $5 on sleep
  • $2 on running kids around
  • $1 on making dinner
  • $1 on answering work emails at home
  • $2 attending a board meeting for a community organization or volunteering at school
  • $2 helping with homework, class projects, costume creation, school play line rehearsal.
  • $1 on shopping, errands, etc.

Did I catch up on some things over the weekend? Sure, but then sub in the kids’ sports, social events, cleaning the house and other chores/errands and I filled up those 10 hours spent working on a weekday. My point? You get the same hours in a day as everyone else. You must find time for your health, your well-being (your waistline). That may mean that something else needs to go! The consequences of ignoring your physical well-being ain’t pretty. And, you’ll be no good to any of those people if you have to drop everything to focus on a health crisis.

It happens to the best of us

I totally get this. That was my time budget above. And, I have a great partner who helps around the house and as well as a support system – but I got caught up in the cycle of self-care denial that quickly spirals out of control. For me, it resulted in being 30 lbs. overweight, exhausted and, well, cranky!

I reached the point where I couldn’t stand what I saw in the mirror and knew I had to take action. May have been imperfect action at first, but action nonetheless. It took me well over a year to lose the weight but I’m proud to say I’ve kept it off for nearly 7 years.

While I adopted new, healthier habits, all my focus wasn’t just on sweating more and eating less. A lot of it was about unloading stress, needless “to-dos” and mental baggage that was weighing on me and keeping me from doing things that would make me healthy. It was around re-prioritizing myself and my health. Making time for workouts and to cook meals at home. It was getting the whole family on board with new lifestyle choices.

Since that time, I’ve become a personal trainer and health coach and know all the right things to do from a food and fitness standpoint. However, as a recovering do-it-all woman, I also have the personal experience to share the lifestyle changes I made that work together with nutrition and exercise to get you closer to your goals and further away from the destructive cycle of self-neglect.

Start spending time on you FIRST

From my experience, these things help start you down a path to putting yourself first and improving your health:

  1. Get real about where/what you spend time on. Track everything you do for one week. Write it in your calendar as if everything is a meeting you attended. Then, review it and see where you are wasting time. If you find that you spend an hour a day talking to your mother, sister, best friend, or others, block time once a week to catch up with people on your commute to or from work instead of when you get home and want to work out. Or do you scramble every night with what to make for dinner because you didn’t really plan for the week? Set aside 2 hours on Sunday to meal prep instead of zoning out in front of the tv. Find the time wasters and eliminate them or consolidate them into blocks with a designated start and stop time.
  2. Get good at saying NO! Get comfortable with politely turning down requests, invitations and opportunities to volunteer. I always remember that when I say YES to something that means I’ll eventually have to say NO to something else. Choose wisely. There are millions of ways to do it but I’ve found that keeping it short and simple is better than trying to justify or create elaborate reasons. Most times, I simply say, “Thank you but I’m unable to volunteer/attend.” If you feel like giving a reason why, great, but it’s not required. Your time is yours and what you choose to spend it on, is entirely up to you. Don’t let friends, colleagues or others guilt you into saying yes.
  3. Get a budget for your time. Map out how much time you are willing to spend on volunteering, working at home after hours, etc. and then plan for it. The key will be to add in 5-7 hours a week for self-care. That’s a small investment for the ROI you’ll receive. And then treat your time budget like a real one – don’t go over and if you’re under, spend the surplus wisely. Bonus: When you only budget so much for activities that are for the benefit of others, you have a great out for things you don’t want to do but hate saying no to (see tip #2 for how to enjoy the art of NO). “Oh, I’m so sorry Linda, I’d love to help with bake sale but I’ve already booked my volunteering time for this month. Maybe next month!”
  4. Get over doing it all on your own. You are a professional woman, entrepreneur or maybe a small business owner – start acting like it! You have help when it comes to running your department or company. You don’t do everything on your own just because you can. You have accountants and administrative assistants and other professionals to help you. So why do you insist on doing it all when it comes to your personal life? Invest in services and people who can do the things you don’t have the time or energy for or that are not a good use of your time (like cleaning the whole house on Saturdays). Same goes for your health and wellness. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, hire a professional to help you. A personal trainer, health coach or nutritionist can quickly assess your needs and get you a path to better health with the right food, fitness and lifestyle behaviors.

As a recovering do-it-all kind of gal, I know now that being all things to all people just means having nothing left for myself. And, when we continue to overspend our time budget and take on even more responsibilities, we eventually become overdrawn and even bankrupt in our health and wellness.

Assess, take action and ask for help

Take the time to ASSESS what you’re spending time on, take ACTION to prioritize what is truly important, impactful and enjoyable, and finally, ASK for help with the rest. When you do, your schedule opens, your time bank is full and you can be that strong, healthy and happy overachiever that everyone loves.

Try it..

Xoxo

Niki

PS – if you’re ready to finally ditch the crazy diets and the over-the-top exercise programs and still lose weight, let’s chat about my 8-Week Fit, Fab & Fierce Bootcamp. Lose up to 15 lbs., jumpstart your metabolism and transform bad habits into healthy lifestyle behaviors. Schedule a chat here:  https://goo.gl/forms/J5eqpgY98H2nnBBk1 or text me at 412-310-6882.

 

 

Uncategorized

Putting the Power Back into Willpower

Willpower is a Limited but Renewable Resource

 

Someone in my Facebook group asked a great question the other day…how do I gain more willpower to make the right food choices?

There were some great answers from other members about the importance of accountability, taking small steps to improve versus trying to “fix” everything you’ve done wrong in the past, and giving yourself a break sometimes because, none of us is perfect.

But it got me thinking even more about the question. What is willpower? And can we really create more of it? So my writer instincts said…go research it. First, I went back to my health coaching textbook and looked up how my field describes willpower.

“Willpower is the ability to ignore temporary pleasure or discomfort to pursue a bigger goal.”

Busting the Willpower Myths

More digging into the subject busted some long-standing myths that I had about willpower. Such as:

  • You just need more information. Knowledge is not power when it comes to willpower. Apparently, even if we know a sleeve of Girl Scout Cookies are high in calories and generally not a good choice for breakfast (oh no!), that does not increase our willpower to resist them.
  • Using the willpower “muscle” makes it/you stronger. Ugh. You know how people say practice makes perfect. Not always with willpower. The cognitive function that controls your ability to have willpower can become fatigued, like an overworked bicep.
  • Willpower is a long-term strategy. Willpower is an “in the moment” response to the cookies, a second glass of wine, or whatever you’re trying to consume less of. To truly change your behavior long-term, willpower is only one part of the equation.

So, knowing all these fun facts, what can we do to not only increase our ability to make snap decisions that are healthy but also increase our overall ability to reach our long-term goals.

Let’s Get GRITty

According to the experts it comes down to GRIT. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania coined the acronym and it is defined as “the ability to “work strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity and plateaus in progress.”

Wow. That’s motivating.

Dr. Angela Duckworth distinguishes self-control (willpower) as a shorter-term behavior—not eating the cookie right in front of you. While GRIT is about pushing toward goals over a longer period.

Here’s an overview of GRIT and how I use these techniques to help my clients gain better long-term control over their lifestyle habits and behaviors.

  • Goals Get You There. If you’ve read my blog for the last year or two or if you’ve worked with me, I am a big proponent of setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound). When you lay out your goals in a way that has all those elements it helps to focus your efforts on ONE thing and strengthen that willpower muscle for endurance, not just spurts of heavy lifting.
  • Relax and Reward. Again, something I teach my clients. First – I help them find ways to reduce stress and increase energy. Yoga, long walks, silent meditation for 15 minutes a day – whatever it takes to quiet your brain and refocus on your goals. When you’re tired or stressed out you don’t make good choices. Your guard is down, and you reach for comfort, and convenience. Also – I’m a big fan of rewarding yourself and celebrating the little accomplishments. If you never allow yourself to eat that cookie or order the second glass of wine, you’ll eventually overindulge and end up on a path back to old behaviors.
  • Intention and Implementation.  Ahhhh…it all comes down to planning and preparing. When you plan what you’ll eat and drink at a cocktail party or map out when you’ll workout on a business trip, you are in CONTROL and when you’re in control you are ready for the temptations and roadblocks. One way researchers suggest to prepare for something that will be tempting is using the “if-then” strategy. Let’s say you’re going to a client dinner where there will be lots of alcohol flowing. “IF someone tries to pour me a drink, THEN I’ll thank them and carry a glass of club soda with a few olives in it.”
  • Thinking Truthfully.  Kelly McGonigal the author of The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It says there are three different aspects of willpower:

-“I won’t” power—the ability to resist temptations
-“I will” power—the ability to do what needs to be done
-“I want” power—the awareness of one’s long-term goals and desires

Using these mantras to deal when temptation pops up will give you the ability to respond to whatever the world puts in front of you (cookies, wine, the couch and remote).

Let Your Willpower Renew

Finally, even with all the good intentions and planning and goals, it’s important to remember that we are human. We are flawed. We will give in to temptation sometimes. The most important thing I teach my clients is self-forgiveness and self-compassion.

Remember what I said about willpower ‘muscle fatigue’? Some days that muscle will have had all it can lift and will give out. When it does, acknowledge the slip, remind yourself of the long-term goal, and refocus on you and what you need to do next time to avoid the pitfall. Give the muscle a break; let it renew a bit. It’s when we never use the muscle that poor “in the moment” choices then become habits and then deeply-ingrained behaviors. That’s when we need to bulk up that willpower muscle and use a little GRIT to overcome the challenges and make the positive changes needed to be healthy.

Want more help finding your GRIT and strengthening your plans to be healthy? Let’s chat. Fill out my FREE Wellness Assessment and you’ll get a 30-minute call with me. We’ll discuss your goals and what I’d recommend to strengthen your willpower and GRIT.

Have a happy and healthy day and watch out for those willpower-busting, yet adorable, Girl Scouts and their addictive cookies!

Xoxo

Niki

Uncategorized

Thinking Yourself Fit

The Energy Mind Game

I’m pretty stubborn and I don’t compromise on much that’s related to my career, personal beliefs or health. However, that doesn’t mean I love all things healthy or that I don’t have days where I just don’t feel like exercising. But I’ve learned that in life, you sometimes have play some mind games with yourself to power through the things you don’t love to get to the things you enjoy. For many people, exercise and healthy living are at the top of the list of things they don’t feel like doing. So, can you talk yourself into being more fit? Having more energy?

My favorite celebrity trainer, Chalene Johnson, a high-energy, motivating dynamo from Southern California has a quote that I absolutely love. “Energy is a state of mind. Tell yourself you’re tired and you will be. Tell yourself you have energy and you will.”

Is it Really All in Your Head?

Chalene’s quote has always resonated with and motivated me, but I wondered if there was any truth to it? Is energy something we can just tell our brains and bodies we have? Turns out you can fake it ‘til you make it to get your body up and moving. I did the research to explain it and have boiled it down to these points.

  • Self-talk is powerful. If you grew up in a family with an “I can’t” or “it’s hard” mentality, you may be wired to quit when something gets tough. Worse yet, you may not even try because you’re convinced you’ll fail. These behaviors become powerful habits that keep us stuck.
  • Energy attracts like energy. For many people, they carry that negative energy into adulthood and surround themselves with like-minded people. Thus, continuing the self-doubt, destined-to-fail attitude in all aspects of their lives – career, relationships and wellness.
  • Negative self-talk is a habit you can change. Here’s the good news. You may have a propensity for negative energy but it’s not a life sentence. By reframing the inner-talk, you can change your energy and move yourself and your goals forward.

How to Master that Inner Dialogue

In reflecting on how I power through when I don’t feel like it, and my inner voice is saying, “stay here in this warm bed,” here are my tips for fooling your mind into getting up and moving.

  • Use the 5 Second Rule (check it out here). A big influence in my life is Mel Robbins. She is an author and motivational speaker who used the power of 5 seconds to propel herself out of bed and into a successful life and career. Check out the link above but the quick explanation is this…when you have an impulse to do something like working out, but you aren’t self-motivated to do so, count back from 5 to 0 and physically MOVE. When you do, you prevent your brain from talking you out of it. It can be used for anything and everything in your life, especially wellness. I use it to walk away from that second cookie or the impulse to have another glass of wine at happy hour.
  • Give it 5 Minutes. This is a Chalene Johnson hack that I’ve used for years. I make a deal with myself that I’ll give exercise 5 minutes. If I still feel tired/unmotivated/cranky, I’ll stop. I can count on one hand the number of times I stopped working out in over 10 years.
  • Get it Over With. When you put off exercise or anything until “later” you spend the whole day making excuses about why you can’t. You will put everything and everyone ahead of that 1 hour of gym time. Don’t do it later…get up, lace up and go.
  • Everything Counts. Many times, we talk ourselves out of exercise because we believe we must ‘go hard or go home’. Ditch that belief and know that a 30-minute walk or a gentle yoga session is often all you need to gain the benefits of movement when you just don’t want to feel exhausted.
  • Plan your Days On/Off. If I already know what days I’m working out and when I’m not, I don’t feel the pressure of having to decide and have that inner debate every day. Schedule your workouts and your rest days. Put them on your calendar and treat them like any other meeting or appointment. It frees you from making that decision daily.

Flip the Script in Your Mind

So much of what we do physically is controlled by our thoughts and attitudes. How we speak to ourselves and what we say in those moments of decision-making are critical to living a healthy life. Impulses to eat better and to exercise more are fleeting, we must recognize them and act before we talk ourselves out of it.

Want more healthy-living tips? Join me in my Facebook group, Fit, Fab and Fierce Women or message me for a free wellness assessment.

Personal wellness, Uncategorized

Dare to Compare?

working on my own grass

Dare to Compare?

The Dangers of Trying to Be Someone Else

Have you heard this one…Comparison is the thief of joy? Sounds cliché but there is some truth to it. Constant comparison and “trying to keep up,” will not only steal your joy but also your motivation, confidence and focus.

Quick story about the danger of comparison…I once attended a business meeting and there was a woman wearing the same dress. She was tall, blonde, all legs and in my mind, 100 lbs. less than me. I had a jacket on, so it wasn’t as noticeable that we were wearing the same dress, but I spent the entire meeting comparing everything from the thickness of my hair (hers was beautifully thick and wavy) to the circumference of my ankles to the length of my eyelashes in comparison to her. By the end of the meeting I concluded that I was basically Shrek and needed to lose 50 lbs., get false eyelashes and find a way to grow thick blonde hair. Okay…so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but I did spend considerable time comparing myself to someone I could NEVER look like, instead of focusing on the meeting, contributing to the conversation and providing value. Ridiculous, right?

When I used to think of comparison, I thought of it more like competition and I’m a fiercely competitive, Type A gal. I thought that by paying attention to and striving to be like those I considered “high achievers”, it would keep me on my toes and motivated. Until I realized that, most times, it didn’t matter what I did or how hard I worked, I was never going to be the person whose life I held in such high esteem. Not because I didn’t have the drive or ambition – got plenty of both. Rather, because their achievements didn’t fit my lifestyle, career choices, body composition, etc.

You see, comparisonitis (yes, it’s like a disease) or the act of relentlessly measuring our lives/bodies/careers by someone else’s standards, is a dangerous and exhausting endeavor. When healthy admiration and motivation turns to non-stop self-judgement and berating, we have no joy in our lives and we miss out on celebrating the amazing things we DO achieve, every damn day!  Ultimately, the act of measuring our worth, accomplishments and progress against someone else stifles our efforts, damages our self-esteem and leaves us miserable.

Why we do it?

I’d love to say this is a new thing with the dawn of social media and all the filters that make us look better and seem awesome. However, keeping up with the Joneses has been around a long time. It’s just that now the reminders of our shortcomings is like a 24/7 cable news broadcast.

Like I said, I think relentless comparison starts as innocent motivation. Let’s take fitness as an example. We decide to get fit and start to follow a fitness celebrity or trainer because they are successful in weight loss and creating a healthy and fit lifestyle.  Yay! That’s what we are supposed to do – surround ourselves with positive people who set a good example. They don’t have to be famous – it could be your neighbor who teaches a spin class and has 12-pack abs. That motivation in and of itself isn’t unhealthy. People we admire help us see what’s possible, and they encourage us to act. All good things. The danger lies in when we go from inspiration to deflation because you haven’t achieved exactly what they have, and you tell yourself you’re a failure who will never measure up.

What’s the harm?

So, what’s the big deal? A little motivation and healthy competition is good, right? Sure. In small, reasonable doses. When that motivation turns to self-judgement and defeat or worse yet, a time-consuming obsession, you risk setting yourself back and even quitting all together because you feel like a complete failure. Here are some signs you’re heading down a dangerous path.

  • You become distracted. All you can see is what you HAVEN’T accomplished. So, you start doing anything and everything to achieve that “ideal body.” And, when you’re doing everything you’re likely not accomplishing much. By veering off the plan you set to achieve your goals, you become distracted and risk losing ground on what you’re after – the healthiest version of YOU!
  • You become defeated. You know that feeling when you’ve been working hard to do something and you’re not making progress? The feeling of exhaustion, frustration and failure. When you have that feeling all the time you end up defeated and discouraged and may decide to throw in the towel. I mean, if I can’t look like Beyoncé, then why bother, right?
  • You develop a skewed sense of reality. When you start to believe that everything you see online is real, it’s time to pull back and re-evaluate. Most of what you see on social media is NOT REAL life. It’s filtered and Photoshopped. It’s the “highlight reel” not the boring, messy crap that we all deal with. The neighbor who seems to have it all together, has laundry piling up, deadlines she missed and cranky kids. You just don’t get the behind-the-scenes tour of her life, so it seems all good. When that’s all you see, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to live up to the same standards.

How can you avoid it?

We all fall into the cycle of comparison and competition but how do pull yourself out? The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t see that you’re in the comparison vortex and you continue to spin and spin and become more frustrated.

  • Acknowledge it, feel it, move past it. We all go through this. Recognize it and then ask yourself what’s really going on. It may be guilt over not getting to the gym or ordering takeout too much lately. Your friend’s gourmet meal pic or her gym check-ins are triggering a little guilt. Instead of feeling terrible about it, stop scrolling on Instagram or Facebook and refocus on your goals. Plan to change the pattern. But don’t let it get a grip on you and kill your efforts to get healthy.
  • Take a break from social media. For real…remove one social media channel from your phone. You can still check it on your iPad or laptop but make it a little more difficult to mindlessly scroll. If you’re not ready to delete it, turn off notifications so you aren’t getting a pop up or little red dot every few minutes reminding you of all the awesome things you’re not doing. You can unfollow, pause, hide certain people, posts, etc. Take advantage of these tools to give yourself a break from the constant comparison.
  • Find gratitude for what you have accomplished. Look around. You have lots to be proud of and even more to be grateful for in your life. Acknowledge that. Grab a journal and every night before you go to sleep, write down two things you’re grateful for and two things you’ve accomplished or that you’re proud of (you packed a healthy lunch, your son got an A on a difficult test, etc.). When we remind ourselves of all the good in our life, it’s tougher to feel like a failure.

Comparison is inevitable. We are humans who need to feel good and successful. So, it’s ok to see someone and think, “I could be more fit like her.” Just recognize when healthy motivation and competition turns to relentless comparison and self-judgment. Your goals are unique and specific to you. Don’t jump off the path to follow someone else’s journey because you’ll end up going nowhere.

If you’ve had enough of the cycle of comparing, chasing and failing, take a minute and fill out my free wellness assessment here. Then, let’s chat. I’m ready to get you back on track and hold you accountable to your goals. I’ll help you become the best version of you so that your neighbor will be asking what you’ve been doing.