Uncategorized

Resolution Reboot

It’s officially mid-January – how’s that New Year’s Resolution (NYR) working out for ya? If you are still sticking with your resolutions…great job! Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t last more than 10 days and most give up by February 1.

But let’s say (hypothetically, of course) that you are oneof the 80% who are veering off the path and struggling to stick to your goals.Or, worse yet, you’ve found you hate the goal you set or have no clue how  you are going to accomplish it. This is verycommon with health and fitness NYRs. Everyone has great intentions, but they setthe bar high without having the tools to achieve those big dreams.

If that’s you or someone you know…don’t worry. There aresome simple steps that can help you refocus to start achieving those healthyresolutions before too much time passes and you (or your friend) give up.

  • Reassess your goal. It’s ok to say, “this isn’t the right goal” and move on. Sometimes we high-achievers don’t like to admit when we don’t make the right choices and heaven forbid we admit failure (gasp!). To keep doing something you hate or aren’t capable of sustaining with the hope that it will somehow work out, is the definition of insanity. So…swallow that pride and get real with yourself. Maybe running a marathon seemed like a good idea but you’ve come to realize you hate running. Time for a gut check and recalibration.
  • Reset your goal. If you’ve determined that you had an unrealistic goal or one you just don’t like, it’s easy to rework it into one that motivates you. You just have to be S.M.A.R.T about it. S.M.A.R.T goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound. It doesn’t mean you have to give up that big goal…it may mean just breaking it down into smaller, more achievable ones. I always recommend shorter goals because there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and something to complete. Let’s say your ultimate goal is to lose 40 lbs. this year. Your SMART goal may look something like this. “In 90-days I will lose 10-15 lbs. by exercising 30-45 minutes per day, 5 days a week and eating no more than 1500 calories per day of a balanced, whole-foods diet.” Then, at the end of that 90-days, you re-evaluate and set another goal for the next 10-15 lbs. until the end of the year when we have hit the 40 lb. weight loss mark. The original goal of losing 40 lbs. is still the end game but setting smaller goals makes it less overwhelming and very action-oriented.
  • Get some accountability. Some people are amazing at holding themselves accountable (we hate them, right??). For most of us, given the opportunity to slack on something that is difficult or not something we enjoy, we are likely to choose the easy way out (i.e. sleep in instead of going to the gym at 5:30 a.m.). Accountability is the glue that holds your goals together. Find a friend or family member willing to be honest with you and push you to stick to your goals. If you can’t find someone who’s good with dishing out the tough love, hire a coach. A personal trainer or health coach is someone you pay to keep you on track. You’re automatically more accountable when you have some money in the game, and they have no problem calling you out to help you achieve your goals (we love it, actually!).
  • Finally – celebrate your wins. Every day, every week, every month – find something to feel good about in this journey. We are often quick to think about all the things we didn’t do on a daily basis and miss the opportunity to boost our confidence and commitment by celebrating what we DID accomplish. Women, in particular, are great at playing the “not good enough” game. When we get in a habit of reminding ourselves of what we failed to do, we create a mindset that nothing is every enough. Ok, I know it sounds silly but I challenge you to say out loud something you’re proud of before you go to bed each night. Or, write it down if you don’t feel like making proclamations of self-love before going to sleep. Then, look back at it at the end of a week or month and see all the great shit you’ve accomplished.

The post-NYR slump is real. It’s common. It’s normal. It happens to just about everyone. What you choose to do when faced with this reality is what makes the difference. Use these tips to get back on the right track.

And, if you are about to dump the resolutions for a pizza and a Netflix binge, let’s chat. You can still enjoy life (and pizza and Netflix) but you can also get healthy and achieve those goals.

Have a kick-ass week!

Uncategorized

Think Small This Year – How to Really Get Healthy in 2019

Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

Every January 1 you are inundated with ads, emails, social media posts about how to completely change your life by setting some crazy resolution.  The whole “New Year, New You” mantra is insulting. It says you’re not good enough as the current you. It tells you that you have to completely remake yourself to live up to some kind of unrealistic standard. And, it’s total bullshit.

I despise the New Year’s resolution hype because when I work with people who want to make true improvements in their health, the thought of a complete overhaul of their lives is overwhelming. And, when people are overwhelmed, they often give up.

Among all the memes and inspirational posts you’ll see today, this week and this month will be lots of encouragement to think big. Dream big. Set big goals. And, while there’s nothing wrong with that, I am going to challenge that thinking to help you be more successful.

Today, January 1, 2019, I want you to think small. Make small changes. Set short-term goals. Take daily action – even if it’s not perfect.

Setting goals always seems daunting because we all think in big picture terms. Consider setting a process goal vs. an outcome goal that has a shorter time frame. For example, you may want to lose 20 lbs. this year but what if you stepped away from the number and focused on the behaviors and processes that will help you lose weight – one day/week/month at a time? For example, can you eliminate one take out meal a week? Or, commit to exercise three times a week? When you break down the bigger goal into bite sized pieces, you re-establish healthy habits that will get you to that 20 lb. weight loss.

So, how do you start today?

Here are my 3 Tips to A Healthy New Year:

  1. Take Action. Do something today. It doesn’t have to be an hour workout or throwing out all the food you love from the fridge. Take a walk. Make a healthy dinner. Take deliberate action to be healthier. Do just one thing each day.
  2. Find Accountability. Tell someone. Make a point to have a weekly check in with a friend, spouse, coworker who knows you are trying to improve and can help you stay on track. If you invest in a personal trainer or health coach, they should be setting up check in points with you at least weekly. I use texting and online tools to support my clients with accountability.
  3. Always reassess. Check in with yourself once a month to see how you are doing with your short-term goals and new lifestyle changes. If you’ve been consistent with a goal, add a new goal or amp up the current one. For example, if you’ve hit the gym three times a week for the whole month, add a day and shoot for four days in the new month. If you never change-up your goals or challenge yourself in new ways, you’ll get stuck, bored and worse yet, revert back to old habits.

 

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Creating a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be a complete “do over” every January. It should be a process of continual improvement. Ditch the stress of New Year, New You and think in terms of New Year, Healthier You.

In the category of taking action…There’s still time to join my January lifestyle program – The Little Black Dress Project. 6 Weeks of total wellness coaching (all online!). Fitness, nutrition, mindset, financial, career, beauty and more! You will learn how to make small, sustainable lifestyle changes to be your healthiest, happiest and most confident self. We start January 7. Take $100 until January 4 with code LBD100.


Personal wellness, Uncategorized

The Summer Shift – Falling into New Routines

a man and a woman assisting a girl while jumping
Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna on Pexels.com

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
Photo by Igor Starkov on Pexels.com

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.

 

 

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

Uncategorized

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.

 

 

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.

 

food, Uncategorized

Ditch the Diet.

do-you-know-what-youre-eating

In the world of food, nutrition and “dieting” there seems to be a trend a minute that people flock to in hopes of a quick fix for years of poor eating patterns. They hear that some way of eating has helped their neighbor, friend, relative lose 20 lbs. in two weeks and they are on board! Sometimes it’s a cleanse or a detox drink. Or an elimination diet or juice fast. Regardless of the tactic, the promise seems to always be a quick solution to a long-standing problem.

Not all these diets are bad or unhealthy (but some are). And, when done properly and with the right mindset and expectations, they can be a great way to jumpstart your metabolism or help you reset after a holiday season filled with heavy foods. However, most are not permanent lifestyles nor are they the solution for the yo-yo dieter who will try just about anything to lose the weight. They usually offer short term results and often lead to disappointment and greater weight gain after stopping.

When a client comes to me frustrated after years of dieting only to lose weight and then gain it back (plus more), I don’t start with another diet suggestion. As a health coach, my job is to assess your food journal and help you understand where your nutrition might be out of line with what your body needs. My job is to help you understand how your body uses food as fuel and guide you in choosing the right foods to feel your best and lose weight.

In looking at months of food entries for my clients, I can confidently say that our biggest problem when it comes to eating isn’t just how many calories we’re eating 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. You need fiber and high quality protein, you need FAT (yes, fat) and sodium and all the nutrients.

And – truth bomb here – just because you work out consistently doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want if it stays within your calorie count. Your body is a finely engineered machine and requires fuel that is high quality.

Clean up that dirty diet

So, what do I recommend to my clients who have been trying diet after diet, and still not losing weight? Ditch the diet and clean up your plate! Yep. Take a good long look at WHAT you are eating and the contents of that food and clean it up. You will feel better, lose weight and have more energy. I recommend clean eating as a way of life, not a diet. And, guess what, it works.

You’ve likely heard of clean eating as it has been part of some dieting hype in recent years. It’s not an elimination diet or a cleanse. You can have every food group if you choose. You can eat meat or be a vegan. Paleo, Keto, Weight Watchers and all the other diets can be dirty or they can be clean. Junk food has a points value and highly processed meat can be “ok” on some diets.

I’m going to take the hype out and give you the straight scoop on why this way of eating – regardless of your age, size, fitness level, demographic, etc. – is one of best ways to structure your diet.

Fitness Magazine has one of the simplest explanations of clean eating “clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.”

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. Are you following me?

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 difficult or complicated or time consuming. It just takes planning.

My tips for cleaning up your pantry, fridge and plate

  • First and foremost – track your diet for 3 days. You cannot improve upon what you are unaware of. Everyone has access to MyFitnessPal. Identify where you are eating more convenience, packaged or processed foods that can be swapped for their whole counterparts. Good indicators of a “dirty” diet are high sodium and saturated fat levels, and low fiber intake. If those are out of whack, chances are your diet is too.

 

  • Raid your pantry and 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.

 

  • Sound it out. If you cannot pronounce the first 2-3 ingredients (which are listed in order of their quantity) then you should toss it. A whole grain roll should list a grain as one of the first two ingredients. Avoid fillers and sneaky sugars (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.

 

  • Beware of marketing claims. Natural, organic and whole are some of the most common ones. Understand what they truly mean and the requirements for obtaining those labels. It’s not always a rigorous process. Also, be wary of endorsements by organizations like the American Heart Association (they put their seal of approval on Subway sandwiches). Research what it takes to get that claim put on a package. Sometimes it’s just a donation to an organization.

 

  • Don’t fall into the organic trap. You don’t have to buy EVERYTHING organic. Some things are more at risk for pesticide contamination, especially fruits and veggies. Google these two phrases… “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” food lists. It will tell you the fruits and veggies have the most risk for pesticide residue and should be bought organic.

 

  • All stores have good food. You don’t have to shop at a specialty store to get high quality food. Think local with farm markets and local grocers who get their meat and dairy locally. The closer the food is to you, the fresher it is and less processed it’s likely to be.

 

  • Make small changes. A complete overhaul of your diet can be overwhelming. Aim for one change a week. Start with leaner proteins with no added flavors or colors, or fresh veggies and fruit vs. saltier canned or sugar-added frozen varieties.

 

  • Be kind to yourself. All packaged food isn’t the enemy. We have lives to lead and families to raise.  Sometimes convenience wins. Aim for the 80/20 rule and indulge occasionally. Life is too short to never eat few Oreos or potato chips.

Dieting is no fun and I don’t recommend it

I believe that no food group should be off limits and that whatever you want to eat can be eaten in a cleaner, fresher way. Carbs aren’t the enemy, and neither is fat or dairy or sugar. 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.

Don’t overthink it. Start small. And, keep track of how you feel as you make changes. That’s the best reward.

And, guess what…you don’t have to do it alone. Working with a health coach to help you raid that pantry, provide recommendations and keep you accountable gives you the support you need to make these positive changes.

Jump back on that Resolution Wagon

If you’ve fallen off the New Year’s resolution wagon, let’s get back on track. My 6-week reset starts Feb. 12 (we prep this week) and you can be looking and feeling great by St. Patrick’s Day!

Message me for details. 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.

Like this blog post? Sharing is caring. And, it helps educate people about eating healthier!