Tag: Health Coaching

The Sweet Spot

When I was younger…in my 20’s (I swear that was just yesterday), I was so obsessive about my fitness that I would be a bear if I didn’t get my minimum number of workouts in per week and it had to be for a minimum amount of time as well. It’s as though I thought my body would puff up in one day if I missed a workout. I struggled hard with body image and weight in childhood & adolescence. It’s amazing how wide that pendulum swing can be. It took several years to settle. Thank you, God, that it did.The journey has been interesting and eye opening, however.

A few years ago I went to see a holistic doctor after struggling with my energy level and being confused by it. After all, health and fitness is my thing…I thought I was doing everything right. My diet was spot on, my exercise was spot on…what the heck? To my surprise, the doctor sat down in the office and started asking me about my life starting back in childhood. I was very impressed by this, given that I was in the midst of earning my masters degree in Health Psychology and really learning how tangled the web is that connects our physical, mental/emotional and spiritual selves. What a concept that a doctor would ask me about my mental/emotional health from childhood on. I had never had a doctor spend time fully listening to me about surface level issues let alone asking me all this stuff. This is when I first learned about Adrenal Fatigue.

Truly the man scared me. He talked about what chronic stress can do to a body and there I was thinking I was not part of that population. I have never smoked, drinking has amounted to one or two glasses of wine a few times a week (hello antioxidants). I never eat fast food. I exercise 5+ days a week. I have awesome friends and a solid network and my faith is integral to me. What’s the problem? What stress? If there’s any there I know how to deal with it…or did I? I was a single mom, working and earning my masters degree at the same time. Sleep was something I did not do much of.

So really, what does all of this mean? Since that appointment I have done a lot of research on Adrenal Fatigue and it has made a lot of sense looking back. I realize this has been something I’ve struggled with for years. Now, I know when I am dipping back into it. In fact, this past year has been the worst ever (you’d think a girl would learn, right?). I had so much transition in my life, a lot of it actually good, but change nonetheless, that my body just decided it had had enough. My energy levels plummeted, my immune system took a nose dive, my sleep suffered horribly…

What do you do when you hit bottom?

You breathe. You pray. You rest. You take care of your body by not overworking it.

This stuff is NOT easy for me! Thankfully I found PiYo a few years back and started teaching. It has been such a Godsend for my body. The strength and balance I get without the hard impact has been amazing. However, I stopped teaching classes at night for now. That was a huge step for me toward simplifying my life. I didn’t like leaving a dinner time and coming back when it was pretty much bedtime 3 times a week. Plus it made it hard for my body to settle down at night. I gave up running for several months to let my body heal as well. Running is such a love of mine, but it can also be so hard on the body. I’m back at it and thankfully it feels good again!

I have been practicing the art of saying “no” as well. Seriously not easy for me! And I say “practicing” because I have a ways to go yet. But, it’s amazing how freeing it feels to protect your little world by saying that. When I say no to something that doesn’t fit my own schedule or goals or that of my family, I am saying yes to the direction I am really trying to go in and I am saying yes to my family. That part feels amazing.

So now, I am enjoying exercise on my own terms rather than having it dictate me and how I feel about myself. I am being more purposeful in decisions I make and making sure they line up with what I want life to look like for my family and myself. I am embracing “no” as something that can can be such a gift. It’s always an adventure, life is. I love that I am operating less on caffeine and autopilot and more from intention. It’s kind of nice.

If you are caught up in the constant going, always busy, saying yes to everything cycle….I encourage you to sit back and breathe. Then pick something today to say no too and say yes to something better.

An ingredient by any other name…

Ok. Trying to be funny and poetic. Maybe I shouldn’t try that on a Monday. So I know that people think of clean eating as totally made from scratch, organic, nothing packaged, etc. Well…that’s not me. That’s why I call it cleanER eating. I like convenience…in it’s healthier forms, of course. No fast food here. But, I do like to make good choices easier on myself.

That’s where snack bars come into play. Love ’em! So easy to just grab an go. I always have one with me. If you look in my purse and you don’t find one…it’s probably because I just ate it! 🙂 There is a lot of confusion with all of this though. Walk down this particular aisle in the store and wow…talk about overwhelming! Unfortunately it’s so easy to get sucked into the buzz words too! “natural” “organic” “gluten-free” “healthy”…you name it. (Ya’all know those words don’t necessarily mean that’s what you’re getting…right? *please say yes*)

To hopefully make this a little easier for you, here are some things I pay attention to when I shop for bars…

Ingredients list
This is the main overarching thing to pay attention to! Please don’t just look at the nutrition info that tells you how much protein, fat, carbs, etc. Although these things are important, it’s MORE IMPORTANT to know where those nutrients come from! What kind of protein is it? Are there a bunch of fillers in it? Is it full of artificial ingredients? Pay attention to the ingredients list!

Sugar likes to disguise itself in many different forms. Especially these days with all the buzz words, it can be easy to be fooled. Don’t fall prey! Even if it’s slightly on the “healthier” side, your body still processes it much like regular white sugar. Here’s a list of SOME ingredients that are just sugar with a different twist (there are plenty more out there!):

  • Agave Nectar
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Beet Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cane Crystals (or, even better, “cane juice crystals”)
  • Cane Sugar
  • Coconut Sugar, or Coconut Palm Sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Palm Sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylos

I am not going to go into a lot of detail here with soy. A lot of it is really still being researched and figured out. Personally, I allow myself soy here and there (I do love it in my coffee if I go out for coffee…so creamy, I will say!)…but that’s only on occasion, as a treat. Otherwise I make sure ingredients in things I buy don’t contain soy & I don’t use soy milk at home. Soy is heavily used as a filler in processed foods and it’s getting easier and easier to find packaged foods that don’t contain it (that’s the good news!). There’s too much grey area and evidence that is surfacing as to how soy could negatively impact hormones. Lord knows we don’t need more of that going on! *yikes*

Essentially you want to watch out for long, complicated words that are super difficult to pronounce. If you buy something that is a natural product, you will likely find some superfoods and such listed that are hard to pronounce, but it’s far different than the “chemically” sounding words you will find preservatives listed as. How do you know?? See my next point!

Google it!
If I see something listed I am unfamiliar with and unsure about…I look it up. Easy peasy. The cool thing is, you start getting to know which has what in it and it’s no longer confusing.

There are some good bars out there and I am seeing more and more of them as consumers dictate that kind of demand. Larabars are an awesome example of this! You look on the ingredients list and all you see are nuts and fruits listed for most of the bars. That’s. All. Simple. Look for simple.

Speaking of simple, I’m going to end here! We can get super detailed about this…but that’s for another show 🙂 For now stick to getting familiar with ingredients.

Here’s some homework for you (yay!!): open your cupboard and fridge/freezer and take 5 boxes/packages out. Go through each one and familiarize yourself with at least 5 of the ingredients you find that you are not familiar with. I would LOVE to hear what you run across! What surprised you? Are there any things in your cupboard you will no longer buy? How about things that are healthier than you thought?

Where Do I Start???

Is this you?? Have you been wanting to lose weight, get in shape, have more energy, be a good example to your kids, just FEEL BETTER, but you don’t know where to start? OR you start and can’t seem to keep going? OR you just feel OVERWHELMED?

Here are 5 simple tips to help get you going!

    One of the biggest issues I notice with people is that they want to wait until circumstances are perfect in order to start getting healthier. “I’ll wait until after the holidays” “I need to get through this busy time” “I need to wait until I have extra money to buy healthy food” “Maybe when…”START NOW! You are either procrastinating and really not willing to change things yet OR you’re over complicating it! Life is never going to present the perfect scenario for this stuff.You just have to want it bad enough.
    If you jump into this trying to start exercising 5 days a week (when you haven’t been like….at all), totally overturning your diet, cutting out all sugar, saying no to alcohol (bye-bye nightly glass of wine), waking up early, drinking only water, blah blah blah…..is your head spinning yet? This is what I see people do ALL. THE. TIME. And it makes me a little crazy. Maybe a lot crazy.Don’t do it! Pick one or two things and go from there. AND don’t pick monumental things!! Think LESS.
    Think BALANCE.
    Think BABY STEPS.
    Think LIFESTYLE CHANGE (not “diet”…notice that’s a four letter word?? Just sayin’”
    I think most of us get this one, but, we still don’t always build it into our plan very well. Accountability could mean you check in with someone every day, or it could mean you’re actually doing it with someone! The best kind of accountability is when it is a “doing it together” kinda thing. It makes it FUN! You can relate to each other and have a mutual “YOU CAN DO IT!” thing goin’ on.Have you ever noticed that when you are pulling someone else up who is struggling, you get inspired and motivated yourself? Same with teaching. When you teach someone something you have to be a step ahead to be able to show them what you know. So that makes you dig in a little deeper.
    Seriously people. Change is hard. BE PROUD! Make a chart of short and long-term goals AND rewards for those goals! Don’t skip this part! You need to recognize the small and big steps toward progress that you make. And remember, BIG CHANGE OCCURS FROM LOTS OF LITTLE CHANGE.
    lost 5 pounds, buy a new book, get a mini-massge
    exercised all 5 days you said you would, buy a new nail polish
    drank water instead of soda all week, spend the $ you would’ve spent on soda on a fitness
    magazine or clean eating magazine that inspires you
    reached your goal weight, go on a little mini-trip, get a new exercise outfit, new running shoes…Get the idea?? IMPORTANT: Please, please, please do NOT reward yourself with FOOD!! Talk about a slippery slope! Be kind to yourself, take care of yourself. Reward yourself in ways that keep you on your healthy path <3
    This is another biggie! (Maybe they all are…hmmm….) If I take something out of my life, I need to purposefully replace it with something, otherwise I will subconsciously replace it with something that is NOT beneficial.Extreme example, but I had a guy in my office recently who used to be a drug addict and now he binges on soda and crap food. No big surprise there. Junk food and sugar really hit that happy spot in our brains. Like REALLY. No wonder America is the way it is in terms of health. Ok…let me stop before I really get going on that one. ;-)Here’s the GOOD NEWS: exercise also hits that happy spot in our brains! Like REALLY 🙂 I know it sucks a little at first…but you keep your head up, hold onto your accountability peeps, keep inspiration around you all the time and FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!! One day, you will stop and realize: “I FEEL AMAZING”! Then you’ll be hooked. Trust me. It’s worth it, my friend.

If you are on a journey and trying to change habits in your life I would LOVE to hear from you!!! I want to know if you have tips to share, what’s worked, what hasn’t?

I CONSTANTLY have groups going on and YOU would be welcome to join anytime! Just send me a message and I’ll let you know what’s currently going on and you can team up with us 🙂 Better together is a true thing.

I hope you are all having an amazing weekend and get to take a minute to refuel and recharge <3

Well…it’s 2016! What are you making room for this year?

I’m not a resolution girl. I find that I am continually creating new goals throughout the year. However, I think reflecting is something we all do at the New Year, even if we don’t do so purposely. It just happens. It’s natural, as we close one chapter, to sort of evaluate as we enter into a fresh year. That’s how it feels to me, anyway!

Do you ever step back, though, and realize you’ve been stuck on the same goal, perhaps not just this past year, but year after year after year?

Something that kind of smacked me in the face the other day (in a good way) was the idea that I have fallen in love with certain habits in my life and they aren’t hard anymore. I love them so much they have become second nature. I love identifying myself as a fit healthy person and I LOVE how I feel when I pursue things in my life that are in line with those ideals.

I know this stuff doesn’t happen overnight…trust me! What we can do right now though, is shift our perspectives. Rather than dreading letting go of something or dreading the work we know it will take…let’s focus on what we are gaining, what we are making room for in our lives.

Letting go of crappy food in my life makes room for the energizing, health promoting food that will make me feel GOOD. Letting go of laziness and putting forth even 30 minutes of my time every day to move my body will make room for feeling strong and vibrant. Letting go of time wasters in my life will make room for more purposeful things that will bring me closer to my goals, my dreams… letting go of a relationship that is going in the wrong direction or steering me away from what I value in my life might be hard…but as I pry my little fingers off things like this, I will actually have room for something good, that is in line with where I really want my life to go.

See where I’m going with this? It applies to everything; work, worrying, sleep, comfort zones, etc…

I challenge you, as we start #1 of 365 days in 2016, to get in touch with the feeling you are chasing when you make a goal. Hold onto that feeling and run towards it! Don’t think about the cozy things you leave behind (that aren’t helping you move forward anyway….be real about that), or the pain of any effort you might have to put forth…think about how dang AMAZING you will feel as you get closer to embracing that goal and of all the little amazing things that will happen along the way because you are moving in the right direction!

Happy New Year, my friends! I pray God’s abundant love around you every single second of every single day as you step out in faith this year and go for your dreams!

5 Questions to Ask When You’re Looking for a Diet/Weight Loss Plan

I don’t know if working in the health and fitness field makes all the information zooming around about health and fitness less confusing, or more confusing than ever! There’s always a new “plan” of some sort, new “super foods”, new theories, new trends, etc. And then there are new findings about “old news”; eggs used to be off limits, now they’re good; butter was bad, now it’s good; low fat used to be the way to go, now full fat is the answer; soy used to be an ultra healthy choice, now it’s a “no no!”… Anyone else feel like they’re getting whip lash dealing with all the back and forth?!

When I look back over my own “diet history” I get a little dizzy. I started with the Scarsdale Diet in the 7th grade, then joined the low fat bandwagon (jumped on that one with both feet!), went vegetarian for several years (living in Alaska changed that for me!), I tried Atkins…for like a day, Nutrisystem… you get the idea.

I think somewhere along the lines my frustration with all this information, plus my growing relationship with research while working on my masters degree, made me start to look and things much deeper than how it was presented and I started deciding how it may or may not be a fit for me.

Here are 5 questions I’ve learned to ask when I encounter a new health and fitness program:

1. What does research say?

Regardless of whether it’s a new trend in food, exercise, stress management, supplements, etc…I check on what research has found about it and any individual elements involved in the program. What if it is so new there really isn’t any good evidence on either side? Then I hold back or use whatever it might be with caution. For me Stevia is a good current example of this. I’m not convinced that it’s perfectly safe quite yet. When something is new on the market, even if it is a food that is found naturally, I wonder about how it is modified and what that means. Or, if it really shouldn’t be used the way we humans have decided it should be used!

Need help figuring out what research is good and reliable when you do find it? Chris Kresser is one of my favorite functional and integrative medicine practitioners. Click here for an article he recently wrote on just this subject. This guy is a science nerd and I LOVE it! It is so easy to go with something based on face value, but it is CRITICAL to look behind the scenes when making a decision about something that could dramatically affect your health!

2. Does it involve real food?

If a program comes with it’s own prepackaged foods, I would most definitely think twice about it (or don’t think about it at all and move on!). First of all, you will more likely than not have to sell off all of your belongings in order to afford to pay for all the food. Even more importantly, these foods typically are chalked full of artificial junk: preservatives, fillers, fake sweeteners, etc. Not only are you then putting potentially harmful ingredients into your body, but these “ingredients” are taking the place of other nutrients that are necessary for your body to function the way it is designed to. Ever heard the term garbage in, garbage out? If you fill your body with garbage, it will look and feel like garbage. Pretty simple.

3. Is it working for other people?

Ok, this one comes with a caveat. When I set out to try something new or buy something, whether it’s new running shoes, a class I want to take, a campground, new gadget, you name it…I read reviews. I like hearing inside perspectives of what I’m looking into. HOWEVER, just because someone has a certain opinion, doesn’t mean I will go in the same direction they chose. The reasons for their decision as compared to what I value is important and should be considered during the deciding process. If I don’t jive with their way of looking at something, their opinion will hold less weight. Regardless, I like to hear what others have personally experienced!

4. Is it sustainable?

This is huge. Why buy into a program that will get you to your goal and leave you stranded and back at square one shortly after it’s over? A good weight loss plan will teach you new habits, without adding a ginormous amount of stress to your life. It will be something you will want to continue in your life indefinitely. The hard truth is that often times this way of doing things takes longer. However, if you want it to last and forego the endless merry-go-round with new diets, this really is the way to go!

5. What is my style?

This fits well with question #4. I am a busy working mom and know that something that takes a ton of prep and cooking from scratch is something that, although I would like to do, will not be realistic for me at this stage in my life. I am also a creature of habit. If I have a menu to follow that changes every single day, it will overwhelm me. I need streamlined, easy, as convenient as possible while still being very healthy. Others really prefer to have a lot of creative freedom with their nutrition. What works for me, may not work for you and vice versa. You have to find something that helps you make changes without feeling like you are torturing yourself!

In the end, habits will have to change, effort is required and not all of it will be breeze. A good program, however, will be something that makes you feel great and that is why you will stick with it! The hard stuff will feel so worth it!

Imagine that!

Here it is, into the 2nd full week of the new year. Resolutions abound! I definitely see it at the gym and hear the chatter on social media and among friends. Even if you abandoned the idea of New Years resolutions a long time ago, there is still something infections about starting fresh along with a brand spankin’ new year! The problem, well…there are several…but the stick-to-it-ness is lacking. Along with accountability and planning/goal setting, a huge tool for success, in my opinion and personal experience, is visualization.
What? Is that some weird new age, magic, must use fairy dust and chant kind of thing? Um…no. In fact, it is a scientifically researched tactic that a lot of athletes use. In fact, Aymeric Guillot, Ph.D., a professor at the Center of Research and Innovation in Sport at University Claude Bernard Lyon, in France finds that we actually activate some of the same neural networks (paths of interconnected nerve cells that link what your body does to the brain impulses that control it) during visualization that we do in the activity itself. Does that mean I can visualize running 5 miles instead of doing it? Well, it doesn’t activate your muscles and fat cells so…nice try! But, it gets your head in the game, helps prepare you, builds confidence in your own ability as you “practice” in your head and, as those neural networks are activated, lets you experience some of the adrenaline that might come with what you are envisioning.

“Ok, well I’m not ‘training’ for anything. What does this have to do with me and wanting to lose 20 pounds?”

Visualization can be used in a very powerful way to create new habits. I really believe that when you are changing something in your lifestyle, it is crucial to create sort of a new culture for yourself. Losing a significant amount of weight or starting a fitness program, these things have far more to do with your day to day life than just going to the gym 5 days a week and eating less. It has to do with how we relate with people, how we deal with stress, happiness and emotion in general. It has to do with how we relax and how we celebrate. It has to do with routine and what brings us comfort. I could go on and on…

If I want to become a fit, healthy person, envisioning myself as a fit, healthy person in very specific ways is huge. It makes it real in my mind, I can actually see how it would look in my life. Very important is what it reveals to me that WON’T fit in my life anymore. If I am picturing myself as being strong, energetic and fit but find myself binge drinking with my buddies on the weekend, or on the couch at night numbing out with a pint of ice cream or bag of chips, or I go out with my family and order a meal that puts me into a food coma for the rest of the evening and therefor cannot complete my workout …those things are going to start sticking out as NOT what gels with my image for myself.

Another way this tactic is helpful is in creating that new culture for oneself by bringing new input into your life in a lot of different ways. What I mean is surrounding yourself with things and people that inspire this new way of life in you. It might be friends who are living a healthy lifestyle, a magazine that motivates you, pod casts, books, websites, going to workshops or taking classes. A homework assignment I often give clients is to make a vision board. There are no specifics with the vision board other than making it something that inspires you in terms of a specific goal you are trying to reach. A vision board, if you have never done one, is essentially a collage.

Here’s an example of one (not mine):

Some people like to put quotes up in their house, in their car, etc. I love that idea too. A vision board takes the process a little deeper and the experience of just creating the vision board has a lot of meaning and helps us focus and hone in on where we are going with our goal and how we need to mold certain things in our lives in order to get there.

I would love to see any vision boards that are created! Or hear other tips that you use that you find helpful and inspiring!

Either send me a message through the contact form or you can find me on FB: healthwithjess

Happy 2015!

Love and blessings,

My “WHY” & believing in more

Today I heard something on a podcast I was listening to that went something along the lines of “it’s not just about fitting into your jeans, it’s about being happy”. So simple and so true. It made me think of my why, which is very simple, and yet very multidimensional and super personal at the same time.

This “before” picture is me probably middle school aged right before I went on my “first” diet. I was miserable growing up. I always felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere whether that was with my family or peers. My family was a mess. Never did I feel anyone believed in me. They didn’t even believe in themselves. I was painfully shy and would just melt into the wall hoping to go unnoticed. I really had no confidence whatsoever and could not relate to the girls my age. I was too shy to act out and rebel against my dramatic and unstable surroundings and yet I didn’t know how to deal with it in a positive way. And so I ate.

Food was my comfort. I was always the quiet girl either tagged as “nice” or “snobby” depending upon how my shyness and lack of confidence was interpreted. One night, my mom sat me down on my bed and told me I was getting fat. Well, she didn’t say it, she just said, “you’re getting…” and she puffed up her cheeks and held her arms out to paint the picture of a fat person. Hmmm. What a moment. Burned into my heart. Although there are far more loving and tactful ways of addressing such a topic, I took it seriously. I lost 20 pounds on my first diet. I was in the 7th grade.

I will say that I ended up gaining confidence through taking control of my weight. I followed a diet that allowed me dry toast and plain peppermint tea for breakfast, cottage cheese, pineapple and walnuts for lunch…I think chicken and veggies for dinner… I remember getting candy from friends at Christmastime and just saving it all up in my room, proud that I didn’t touch even one piece. And so the cycle began.

My weight went up and down over the years and so did my family. I had already been in therapy and continued, participating in group and individual therapy. (I HIGHLY recommend this and will talk more about it in a later post). Fast forward on this crazy journey. I realized that food was my drug of choice. I ended up struggling hard with an eating disorder for many years. Food offers you that substance that is not only legal, but necessary. I was able to hide my abuse of it by keeping my actions secret and using exercise and not strict dieting to cover up the damage I was doing. I could go days hardly eating a thing because of the binging I would do. Exercise became my saving grace. It was another addiction, though. If I didn’t get in my certain amount of minutes/days each week I felt out of control. I irrationally thought everything would unravel and I would turn back into that girl sitting on my bed when my mom told me I was fat. That was my nightmare.

In the midst of this, though, began my relationship with God. I knew that I was made for more. I knew that, I was more than the dysfunction I was born into. I knew I was more than my struggle with food. I knew I was more than my struggle with self-esteem. I knew that somehow, my life had purpose. What that was…I had know idea. But, I was determined to find it.

So, on life went, very touch and go with my disorder, always working on myself in therapy, a strong relationship with exercise, dysfunctional choices in men…and on and on. However, my faith has always been my true saving grace. God has truly been my rock, even when I felt that I was just flat on my face. There has always been an underlying, undying belief that there is meaning even in my pain, despite so many mistakes…

So, here I am. I have a nine year old son who I consider a miracle, simply because children are just that. I have been a single mom since he was 2. During these single mom years I have earned a masters degree in Health Psychology, gotten certified as a Health Coach and as a Fitness Instructor. Life is often far too busy for my own taste, but I am so very thankful. I finally can say that I believe in myself.

My “why” when it comes to health and fitness is about fighting. I refuse to be the person I believed I was growing up. It is never too late to become who you know you can be. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the journey is a beautiful thing. This is why I love doing what I do. Sure, it’s thrilling to see people lose weight and fit into their jeans. But, what I live for is those moments you see tears in someones eyes because they have found hope again. I have watched people get back in touch with this belief in themselves and I am SO honored to be a part of it. It takes great courage to “go there” and be that real with yourself and others. It is incredibly worth it, my friends!

So much love to you this Chirstmas!

Getting the most out of your exercise! Are you working hard enough to make a difference??

Had this little conversation the other night at the gym with a couple…he LOVES exercise and she…tolerates it. Ha! A lot of people really want the benefits of exercise, but are not interested in things like…sweat. :-O In our little chat sesh, this couple and I were talking about being sore the day after (or two days after) a good workout. Her argument was that people will not want to continue with an exercise program if it makes them sore.

This made me stop and ponder the whole idea.

The truth is that “sore” is just part of the whole deal. I happen to love being sore because it’s a good indication that I worked my booty off (perhaps somewhat literally?!)! For those new to exercise programs, I would suggest easing into it so that the next day reminders as you try to lift yourself out of your chair, aren’t too much of a deterrent. HOWEVER…be careful not to stay in this “safe zone”! If you want real progress…work has got to be done! And, truth be told, you WILL feel it.

This leads me to the graphic about target heart rate above. While I think it’s excellent that people just move more in general, too many people do far too little and get nowhere with results. Knowing your target heart rate and then making sure you hit it and STAY there for at least 30 minutes is a great way to know you are getting your body in a zone that will burn fat and help you lose weight. This used to be a big deal in the exercise world…I remember stopping mid-class and the instructor would have us check our heart rates. I don’t even notice these charts anymore at gyms…do you??

You could do the formula…220 – your age…OR look at the bottom of the graphic, find your age range and then move up to the heart rate range you want to be at. I recommend staying between “moderate” and “hard” to really turn up your furnace and burn fat. For example: since I’m close to 40 *gasp*, my target heart rate should be between 126-144. So…how do we do this?

First of all, you need to allow your heart rate to reach its target before you check it. I always exercise for about 5 minutes to warm up and really get my heart pumping before I ever check my heart rate. When it’s time, I just use my pointer and middle finger to find the pulse on my neck or the inside of my wrist and count for six seconds then just add a zero to get your current heart rate. You will want to keep it there for 30 minutes minimum. This little video will walk you through assessing whether or not you are at your target:


***IMPORTANT*** Everyone’s target heart rate will look different in terms of how hard they have to work to hit it! One person might JUST be starting out and have a lower fitness level, so walking alone without much speed will really spike their heart rate. Someone who is a regular runner will likely not be able to reach their target heart rate even with speed walking. Each person is different and this is one reason why its important to check your heart rate. I should look out at my class while I’m teaching and see people working at all different levels because each person is coming from a different fitness level.

I’ll wrap it up with this:
I heard someone say today that “WORK WORKS”. Yes, it does! When I workout and I’m sore…I know I worked. When I take my heart rate and make sure I am in my target heart rate range…I know I’m working. If you want to see results, do the work. These are just ways to measure your output to ensure you are putting forth the appropriate amount of effort!

Hope you all are having a fabulous week!!

Love and blessings!

The faith conundrum

Well. How to start a post like this… My faith is huge to me…HUGE. It drives my health and fitness. Running or hiking are two of my favorite ways to connect with God. By myself, sometimes with music, sometimes not. Out in the elements, whether that’s heat, snow, rain, wind…I LOVE those times. I crave those times. That’s when my head and heart get clear.

There’s more, though.

One of the biggest messages I “get” from the Christian perspective is that people think focusing on themselves is selfish. I say “get” because it’s something I observe more than something people say out loud. I think focusing on your fitness and nutrition is categorized as vanity. Selfisness.

What’s the truth here? Sure, I agree 110% that one can easily go to an extreme and become shallow and motivated by purely appearance and attention, etc. What I see more often, however, is faith being used as an excuse NOT to seek a healthy lifestyle. We don’t want to be perceived as being focused on worldly things. We fear what people will say about us. Really, what I think we really fear is work! Honestly…this excuse to not be caught up in ourselves is something to hide behind.

Now, take a minute to think of what we are doing when we are ignoring our health. Food can be a very intense drug for some. It can be worse than drugs or alcohol in terms of the grip it can have on our hearts and spirits. We worship it. We love it so much we dream about it, obsess about it, can’t say no to it. It is the centerpiece to most of our gatherings and times of fellowship. We are “fellowshipping” ourselves into an early grave.

Food tends to help us numb out. It becomes a buffer between us and people and us and God. If you don’t see this, try getting together with people and NOT eating. Try fasting and spending some time praying. Give up your evening ice cream and spend some quiet time instead. Woah. That’s boring. What’s the point? The point is…food is a huge distraction.

What I suggest is balance. Balance can be pretty hard to figure out when you’re used to….well…not having balance. Having normal portions and exercising regularly…you would be surprised how much serenity that brings to your life. Having just enough and allowing your soul to breathe…it’s kind of nice. NOT hiding behind desserts, but really connecting with people. Amazing. Feeling strong and healthy and better able to be there for others. Wow. Why would any of this not be a good thing?

I really challenge you to think deeply about your excuses for not taking the steps to create strong and good habits in your health and fitness. Be real about who you want to be, who you think God wants you to be and what that means in terms of your health and fitness. I would LOVE to hear from you and know what it is you came up with….even if you disagree with me!

Remember…YOU are entirely up to YOU!

Love and blessings…

The skinny on Omega 6

It seems that when we Americans hear anything related to “omega fatty acids” we think it is sort of all encompassing. If it has “omega” before it, it has to be good, right? Well….there’s there more to the story.

So, to begin with, it is important to understand that there is an optimal balance between Omega 3s and Omega 6s in the human body in order to maintain health and wellness in a number of ways. The ratio should be somewhere between 15-16: 1 (Omega 3: Omega 6). However, the Western diet is heavy in omega-6 and lacking in omega-3. In fact us Westerners are so off balance, the ratio is backwards and up to almost 1:25 for some of us!!

“What’s the big deal,” you ask? The big deal is that while Omega 3s do all sorts of cool things for our bodies, an excess of Omega 6 does not. Too much Omega 6 causes a crisis of inflammation within the body which leads to serious problems such as asthma, coronary heart disease, many forms of cancer, autoimmunity and neurodegenerative diseases…all of which are believed to stem from inflammation in the body. If you look at current trends in chronic disease it all kind of makes sense, does it not? Another thought in the medical world is that this imbalance might also be related to issues such as obesity, depression, dyslexia, hyperactivity and even a tendency toward violence.

Well then how do I know when I’m consuming Omega 6??

Omega 6 is all over the place. The problem is that our Western diet WAY over processed. Not only does that mean the obvious, that we’re eating a lot of fake stuff, but it is also very, VERY heavy on the Omega 6. Omega 6 comes from veggies, seeds and nuts, and their oils. Refined vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, are found in all sorts of processed foods such as cookies, crackers, baked goods and fast foods. Soybean oil is one of the biggest culprits as it is found in so many fast foods and processed foods that it is estimated to make up 20 percent of the calories in the American diet!

Here is a list of some of the sources with the highest Omega 6 content:

  • Safflower oil
  • Grape seed oil
  • Poppy seed oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Hemp oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Sesame oil

That’s the short, sweet story. There are plenty of details we could go into, but not in this post. You get the basic idea. Let’s let that sink in and dream of the salmon we’ll be having for dinner (go Omega 3!!).