Uncategorized

Spring Clean Your Diet

Spring is Coming…I think!

There are technically 16 days until Spring is officially here on our calendars. However, March is a fickle month and depending on where you are, it may not look like spring will ever arrive. That said, the idea of warmer weather, open windows and fresh air brings with it the urge to do some spring cleaning for many people. Add to it the recent popularity of Marie Kondo and her approach to decluttering and reorganizing your life by only keeping what brings you joy, and everyone is on the cleaning up caravan. For me, spring cleaning also means cleaning up your diet. Coming out of a comfort-food coma in the winter months, it is the PERFECT time for a Spring checkup of your diet. Plus, March is National Nutrition Month so there are plenty of resources out there on healthy eating!

What we eat (and how much of it) is the biggest hurdle in losing weight and feeling healthy. Cleaning up our plate, pantry and fridge is the first step in leveling out the yo-yo effect of dieting and providing sustained results.

Getting Started with Clean Eating

Clean eating sounds good, right? But what is it and how does someone get started? To put it simply – clean eating is having an apple vs. apple sauce, eating steamed broccoli vs. frozen broccoli with cheese sauce added. Whole grains vs. white/refined grains. Organic, grass fed beef vs. pre-packaged, seasoned ground beef for tacos. It’s sometimes a little bit more work over convenience. Most importantly, it’s about reading labels, being informed and making better choices. Clean eating doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. It just takes planning.

Some critics will say that “clean eating” implies that some foods are dirty and that we shouldn’t be categorizing food that way. My response is…well, there are dirty foods – meaning foods that don’t provide a lot of nutritional value. And, that’s ok. They can still be a part of a balanced diet, but they can’t take center stage.  I’m suggesting that 80-90% of your diet be clean and leave a little wiggle room for occasional indulgences. Where the challenge lies, is in helping people understand that some of what they think is clean or healthy isn’t.

In looking at months and months of food diaries for my clients, I can confidently say the biggest problem when it comes to eating isn’t the quantity of calories but rather the quality of those calories. A calorie isn’t just a calorie despite what you’ve been told in the past. Some calories are better than others and will help you lose weight, have more energy and build lean muscle. And some calories will spike your blood sugar, make you sluggish and inhibit your fitness goals.

The human body is a sophisticated machine and requires fuel that is high quality.

Spring Cleaning Your Diet – 4 Tips for Success

So, this week, I’m challenging you to take a good look at what you’re eating and clean it up where needed. Try these few tips to clean up your plate, pantry and fridge:

  • Track your Food. You cannot improve upon what you are unaware of. Everyone has access to MyFitnessPal. Track everything for three days and look for patterns of non-clean eating like getting take out, eating pre-packaged convenience foods, etc. Identify where you can swap for healthier choices.  
  • Read Labels. My favorite app for food shopping is Fooducate. Scan a barcode; get a grade for that food. And, an explanation of that grade, definition of ingredients and healthy alternatives. If you cannot pronounce or you don’t recognize the first 2-3 ingredients (which are listed in order of their quantity) then you might want to toss it out.  Look for sneaky sugars (dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup). Note: not all preservatives are bad – some are needed to keep your food safe. Things like steric acid, sorbic acid and ascorbic acid are preservatives that can occur naturally in some foods and help prevent mold, and spoilage. Scan the label and Fooducate will tell you why those ingredients are in your food.
  • Don’t Believe (all) The Hype. Natural, organic and Heart Healthy are some of the most common “healthy marketing” terms used. Understand what these designations truly mean and the requirements for obtaining those labels. Research what it takes to get that claim put on a package and who’s behind it. Sometimes it is a food company donating to a non-profit in exchange for the label.
  • Stop Obsessing Over Organic. You don’t have to buy EVERYTHING organic. Some things are worth the investment while others are not. Check out “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” food lists for the top foods to buy organic. For me, it’s more important to buy local and fresh when possible (and they are usually organic as well). The closer the food is to you, the fresher it is and less processed it’s likely to be.

My last piece of advice is to make small changes. A complete overhaul can be overwhelming. All packaged food isn’t the enemy. We have lives to lead and families to raise – sometimes ordering take out is what we need to get it all done! Remember the 80/20 rule and indulge occasionally. Everything can be incorporated into your diet in the right way to allow you to enjoy eating while doing what’s best for your body. Besides – life is too short to give up Oreos.

Working with a health coach to provide recommendations and keep you accountable gives you the support you need to make positive changes. Message me to chat, and if you haven’t picked up my free Meal Planning & Prep Guide, get it here! It will get you started on the clean eating path and help you plan your meals each week.

Happy Nutrition Month and let’s get to cleaning up our plates, pantries and fridges!

nutrition, Personal wellness, Uncategorized

The Space Between

Have you seen this graphic/meme/tweet circulating social channels? As funny as it may be, it’s scary true – especially for those of us who are taking time off.

week between christmas and new years.jpg

Wednesday feels like a Monday. It’s “normal” to be eating cookies for breakfast and going to the movies midweek. College football is on every day and weekend news anchors are filling in on a Thursday. Nothing is familiar or routine, and our bodies and minds are confused.

If you are feeling bloated, tired, cranky and suffering from brain fog, you’re not imagining these things. They are real. The “week between” is a real thing and can seriously mess with your wellness.

AdobeStock_126394975 (1).jpegWhat Went Wrong…

First of all, you have likely spent the last 30 days burning the candle at both ends trying to get it all done before the holidays. You may have put workouts on hold and relied on take out or fast food as a dinner solution. Add in the extra holiday lunches, happy hours and cookie exchanges and your body has been processing a lot more food — mostly sugar — than it’s used to handling. It happens. To all of us. Pardon the seasonal pun but it’s like a snowball. The more you allow a habit to roll (eating out, not exercising), the bigger the issue it’s going to be come. And, when you finally realize it’s out of control, the snowball has run you over. The week in between can be a time to squash the snowball or a time to ignore it until it hits you in the face with an icy sting.

What Can You Do About it…AdobeStock_183508816.jpeg

Don’t ride it out. You may not believe it but these five or six days can be a reset of your mindset and your habits. You won’t undo several months (or years) of unhealthy behaviors overnight but you can start feeling better, more energetic and healthier in as little as a week. And, it’s not going to require you to spend hours at the gym or starve yourself.

Check out my best tips for maximizing the week in between and getting BACK ON TRACK.

  1. Clean and Restock the Fridge. From a food safety standpoint, toss any properly stored leftovers from dinner after 48-72 hours. You’re sick of ham anyway. You can keep some things like veggies and make a healthy stir-fry. But get rid of anything from dinner that’s been in the fridge for more than two days. Out of sight, out of your diet! Restock with healthy foods – check out and print this clean eating grocery list.
  2. Hydrate Like it’s Your Job. Start with 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water. More if you workout or if you just want to flush out the bad stuff. Water isn’t just about quenching your thirst. It improves digestion (get it moving!), helps curb cravings and overeating, keeps your energy up and helps your skin look clearer and brighter. Use one of your holiday gift cards to get a fancy water bottle that keeps the stuff super cold and carry it with you everywhere!
  3. If You Eat It, Track it! Use a notebook or app but track your food. If you eat it, track it to stay aware of what and how much you are eating. That’s the first step in getting control of your nutrition. Without knowing what you’re eating, how can you change a habit? Go one step further and calculate the calories you need to maintain or lose weight and stick to that number for a week. You may be surprised how quickly you drop a few pounds when you are aware of what you’re eating.
  4. Bring the Exercise Back. If you have time off, this is the perfect time to start exercising again. If you are back to work, it’s a great time to play around with different times that a workout can work with your schedule. Unlike other trainers, I’m not recommending 60 minutes of hardcore exercise. If you’ve been off for a few months, ease into it. 20 minutes a day, 3-4 times per week. Walking is an amazing way to get back into an exercise habit. All you need are sneakers. You can calculate your optimal heart rate for calorie burning but here’s an easy way to tell if you’re working hard enough – can you easily carry on a conversation while you walk/run/exercise? If you can, you can amp up your output a bit. You should feel a little breathless to be gaining the fat-burning benefits.
  5. Accountability Counts. Don’t do this alone. Enlist a friend or neighbor who can help you get back on track and then hold each other accountable. Or, if you’re really ready to make a change and need more concentrated support, consider a trainer or coach to create the systems to hold you to your goals and help you through your challenges.

You Got This…

The week between can be filled with more busy-ness or it can be a quick reset of your habits and routine. It can set you up for a great New Year or it can make it even more difficult to change habits after the holidays have passed.

If all of this resonates with you but you still don’t know where to start or you’ve been off track for a long time, I invite you to check out my upcoming New Year’s program, the Little Black Dress Project.

LBD Promo graphic (1)

The LBD Project is focused on whole-person wellness that helps you lose weight, reset unhealthy behaviors and rebuild confidence to take on 2019 and kick ass!

For a limited time, you can take $100 off with coupon code LBD100. Have questions or want to discuss? Let’s chat. Fill out this form and I’ll be in touch for call.

Enjoy the time off if you’re taking it and let’s get ready for an amazing 2019!

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.

 

 

 

Personal wellness, Uncategorized

Bust through Barriers like a Badass

brick wall

Excuses, Excuses…

Kids are great at finding the funniest reasons why they can’t or won’t do something. Usually involves a scary monster under the bed at bedtime or a suddenly sick tummy right before the bus arrives. But don’t discount your own adult ability to come up with some super creative reasons why you can’t workout, make a healthy dinner or block off some time to decompress and de-stress.

We are pretty good at creating reasons, excuses and barriers to the very goals WE decided to work toward in January. I’m not saying that all barriers are made up – there are legit reasons why getting to the gym can seem impossible. And, plenty of solid rationale as to why take-out is the best option on a busy night of homework, sports and email catch up.

When Excuses Become Habits that Become Behaviors…

The trouble starts though when our excuses and perceived barriers become habits and ingrained thoughts in our heads. Those habits lead to behaviors that take us anywhere but toward the goals we hoped to achieve this year.

So, if you’ve found yourself 6 weeks into the year and you haven’t seen the inside of a gym or your kitchen since Groundhog Day, there are a few tried and true ways to refocus on what’s in the way (spoiler alert – it’s mostly YOU) and map out a plan to get this badass train back on the rails and heading in the right direction.

  • First – you cannot do this alone. Even the baddest of the badasses can’t do everything on their own. It doesn’t matter if you are the only one who wants to lose weight, get in better physical shape or start another healthy habit. Your entire family needs to be in agreement and supportive. Family meeting time. Regroup over a sit-down dinner at home and lay the ground rules again. Get everyone to agree that you’re going to stick to the plan and then assign everyone a role in that plan. Kids love to “help” when they think there’s an important task. Ask them to make a workout chart (like their chore chart) and check off each day that you/they work out. Or, get your significant other to agree to meal prep with you on Sundays. When everyone has a role, the plan is easier to execute.

 

  • Second – take a good hard look at your calendar. Badasses don’t spend time on stuff that doesn’t make them (or the world) better. What are you filling your time with – quality activities or busy-ness? I recently excused myself from two committees because the time spent didn’t provide the return on investment that I was putting in. Worthy endeavors for sure, but they were taking up time without providing me with some value (tangible or intangible). Freeing up 2 hours a week allows you to fit in two 30-minute workouts and an hour of meal prep on the weekend.

 

  • Finally – make a list of every possible barrier. Be an honest badass. Write down ALL the reasons you’ve told yourself that you cannot work toward your goal – from the obvious to the absurd. Then, next to each one, write the solution to that challenge. Finally, give each one a confidence score from 1-10 (1 being not confident at all that you can bust through it and 10 being super confident you will kick this barrier’s ass). Then start with the easy ones. For example, if one of the barriers is lack of childcare for an evening spin class and the solution is asking your mother in law to babysit (which she LOVES to do), your confidence in busting that barrier should be a 10. So, call her up and get it scheduled.

Get out of your head…

The BS we tell ourselves is typically creative and dramatic but when we really look at what stands in our way, the reasons are often much simpler and less dramatic than we think.

Sometimes the simple act of writing down all the things and seeing them on paper gives you the push you need to solve the problem. When we keep everything in our heads it gets lost in the clutter of every day decisions and tasks.

Don’t get stuck in a cycle of overwhelm and put your health last. Recognize that you’re off track, identify the reasons and create a plan of action.

If you’d like a free Barrier Buster worksheet to help you with the process, download it here. Or, I invite you to set up a time to chat with me on how I can help you bust through those barriers and get to the healthiest, badass version of yourself.

 

Uncategorized

Your Waistline Affects Your Bottom Line

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You’re Missing Opportunities

I’m going to ruffle some feathers with this blog post but I feel like it’s time to get real and call it like I see it. Because you’re leaving money on the table. Like it or not…Your waistline affects your bottom line. Your income suffers when you are overweight, unhealthy and don’t like how you look. Yep. I just said that. Why? Because your health and wealth (however you define it) are intertwined.

I could point to studies that prove this . Like this one done in the U.K. in 2016. Or this one done by a professor at Wharton. But I don’t need to. I’ve seen firsthand in my work with executives.  When you are overweight, unhealthy and uncomfortable in your own skin you are less confident. And, when you lose confidence, your credibility suffers. And when you aren’t credible or convincing, you lose — money, job opportunities, clients, sales.

To build your empire; to shatter that glass ceiling; to make a big fucking impact in this world, you need to be at the top of your game both mentally AND physically. And that means dropping the weight that’s holding you back. You need to stand tall and feel proud of how you look when you are doing that white-hot, bad ass presentation, sales pitch, interview, etc.

Confidence Sells

Extra weight – even 10 lbs. – drags you down. Literally and figuratively. When you are carrying around extra weight and aren’t confident, it’s what people see FIRST and sometimes it’s ALL they see. It’s often what they base their decisions on. When you don’t like how you look, neither do your clients or customers because they sense your discomfort and lack of confidence.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to carry around extra weight and feel the way you do. You can change it. You can lose weight, feel better and gain your confidence back. IF…yes, there’s an IF. If you stop making bullshit excuses and start taking action. Yep. Another #truthbomb.

The only thing stopping you from losing weight or getting healthy is YOU! Not your job. Not your boss. Not your demanding clients. Not your kids or spouse. Not an injury. Not your busy schedule. Those are excuses. Every one of us has the same 24 hours in a day. We all have the power to re-prioritize and put ourselves first.

Now…having said all that, I am acutely aware that while we all have the power to change, we don’t all have the knowledge and resources to make it happen. There is a new diet, workout trend or weight loss promise out there every day. There’s a gym on every corner and lots of videos online. Knowing what to eat, how to workout to maximize your results and trying to fit it all in…is overwhelming to say the least.

How to Jumpstart Your Slim-down Strategy.

Look, I’m pretty forthcoming with my thoughts on fat. I take the emotion out of it. It’s something you HAVE. Not something you ARE. It’s disposable too. But, I also recognize that people get overwhelmed with where to begin when it comes to ditching the fat and being the healthy, energetic person they are meant to be. Where do you start? How can you fit it in when you’re busy AF!? Here are 3 tips that any busy professional can do to kick your body into action and start looking and feeling better – in as little as 7 Days.

  1. Drink up! Not booze. Water. At least half your body weight in ounces. I’d guess most of you are dehydrated. When you’re dehydrated you think you’re hungry so you eat more. You have less energy so you don’t workout as much. Water is life. Literally. Stop whining about how boring it is and drink up! Don’t add any crap to it. Lemon, lime, strawberries, etc. are fine but no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners.
  2. Get you Ass Moving. Stop making excuses. You have 30 minutes a day to sweat. You do. You make time for what you prioritize in your life. My guess is, you haven’t been prioritizing your health. So…stop that. Sit down, look at your calendar and pick 5 times over the next 7 days that you can get on a treadmill, go for a run outside, attend a spin class…whatever. 30 minutes is all I’m asking for.
  3. Eat Less; Eat Better. Ditch the take out and drive thru for one week. Cook at home and that doesn’t mean popping a french bread pizza in the oven. Reduce your overall calories by 250 each day. Track your food. Watch sodium and amp up that fiber (at least 25 grams per day). Bottom line…be aware of what you’re putting in your body. Mindless eating is the enemy.

Successful People Seek Out the Experts

Have you ever seen a successful team without a coach? Or, a successful businesswoman without a team of experts around her? Successful people seek out those who know more than them. And, that’s where I come in. My coaching is laser focused on YOU and your individual health and wellness needs. I have the knowledge and do the work to ensure you have the most efficient and effective program to get you back in shape and feeling great.

So, if you are done with the “reasons” why you can’t get healthy, and you’re ready to raise your hand, take action and get the help and support you need…let’s talk.

Your career, business and financial future depend on you looking and feeling your best. Invest now in your health, lose the weight and feel confident so it doesn’t cost you in the long run.

Ready for a Bigger Badass Jumpstart?

I’m getting ready to open up my 8-Week Badass Bootcamp for those ready to ditch the fat and get healthy. I’m not going to sugarcoat it (and you’ll probably eat less sugar) – it’s a lifestyle overhaul. A reboot of your bad habits to transform them into healthy behaviors. It’s 8 weeks of nutrition and fitness coaching, daily accountability, weekly coaching calls, workouts, recipes, meal ideas, etc., etc. You will lose weight, have more energy and get back that swagger that you had 15 pounds ago.

There are limited spaces because of the attention and time required to implement this program. To apply for a spot, you’ll need to fill out my Wellness Assessment and have a quick call with me to ensure you are ready for this and we’re a good fit! You can’t be on the fence for this program. This isn’t going to be 8 weeks of me dragging you along and convincing you that you’re worth it. So, if this has you even thinking HELL YES, fill out the form and let’s chat.

This program will change your life. You just have to commit to getting help. Hope to hear from you soon!