Top ten answers on the board. Survey says...
1. I don't have time
2. It's too expensive
3. It's too hard with small children
4. I don't know where to start
5. I'm so out of shape and I'm embarrassed for people to look at me while I work out
6. I'm waiting for a better time to get started -when my kids start full day school, after vacation/Christmas/pumpkin spice season :)
7. It's too hot/cold/dark/rainy
8. I'm tired and just want to relax
9. I'm too old
10. It's boring
Have you heard these excuses? Have you used these excuses? Now please know that I get that some of these are valid reasons that exercising is challenging. No doubt about it. But challenging doesn't have to equal impossible. The old saying "If it's important to you you'll find a way, if not you'll find an excuse," is repeated so often because it's true. It's T.R.U.E., true! The choice is ours to make. Will we encounter one of these reasons not to exercise and find a way around, over, under or through it OR will we stop short and let the challenging nature of the situation excuse us from facing it? If you want to look better and feel better there's really only one choice.
Conquering these excuses is mostly a mental endeavor. Here are three strategies that can help:
1. Discover and remember your "Why." Why do you want to get fit? Be very specific. Is it because your health is compromised because of your excess fat? If so, how? High blood pressure? Diabetes? Do you want to get fit so you can keep up with your kids at the park? Do you want to be able to go clothes shopping and find things that look good on your body? Whatever your reason or reasons are write them down and put that paper where you'll see it often. When you find yourself making an excuse not to exercise, read your "Why" list.
2. Brainstorm solutions. Think of the top 2-3 excuses you typically make for not exercising on any given day. Write those down. Underneath write every idea you can think of to overcome that challenge. Pick the combination of solutions you think has the best shot of working, make a plan and then do it. If it doesn't work, head back to your brainstorming list and try again.
3. Do something today. Sometimes what we need is just a little momentum. We need a small victory to kind of get the ball rolling. So today; that's right-today(!) I challenge you to to pick any form of exercise and just do it for 20 minutes. Who doesn't have 20 minutes? Go for a walk, a bike ride, or a swim. If you have a gym membership and just haven't been going- go today. It doesn't even matter what you do once you're there. Just do something! I'm a big believer in the power of planning as far as fat-loss success is concerned. Meal planning and calendaring workouts are great tools, but while you're getting that planning going, just get moving. Whatever workout you do today is a million times more effective than the best laid plans for a workout another day!
Be stronger than your excuses ladies! If you've found this article useful, please pass it on to another woman in your life who could also benefit from it. And, as always, I'd love to know how these strategies work for you or how I can be of help to you in your fitness journey. You can comment here so others can learn from your experience or message me privately. In the next few weeks I'll be blogging and vlogging about some more specific solutions to the challenging obstacles that keep us from making the nutrition and exercise related changes we know we need to make. Now, get out there and move your body!
Ahhhh.... First Grade. The kiddos are so young and excited about life. It is a time of newness and huge leaps in learning. Unfortunately for one of my sweet children it was also the year of discovering that being called fat stings. After school one day this child looked up from the kitchen counter where homework and after school snack were happening and asked with great concern "Mom, am I fat?"
"Why would you think you're fat?" I questioned.
"Because Ava poked me in the belly in class today and said that I'm fat."
I have to admit that at that moment I wanted to poke this Ava girl right back. As a woman who couldn't remember a time as a mature adult when I wasn't concerned about losing weight, I was furious. I have definite memories of wanting to lose weight as a teenager, but as a first grader? I have no memory of body self-consciousness and whether my body was fat, skinny or in between at that young age. I couldn't believe we were having this conversation.
I actually can't remember the exact words I said at the counter that afternoon, but over the years since then, my children and I have continued the conversation about bodies; both theirs and mine. I've tried to help them be more comfortable in their skin than I was for a majority of my adult life. I'm not sure I'm getting it 100% right, but that's kind of the nature of this parenting gig, isn't it?
1. I have tried to make it clear that there are a lot worse things a person can be then fat. It sure doesn't seem that way in our society sometimes, but it's true. Mean, rude, dishonest, untrustworthy, lazy... The list goes on and on. Why is fat a go-to slur?
2. I have taught my sons and daughter that no one has the right to an opinion about their bodies other than themselves and their doctor (and for the period of their childhood, their parents). Period. End of story.
3. When I have spoken about my own weight loss I have spoken about it in terms of getting healthier and feeling better. It was obvious I was making huge changes in what I ate and how I exercised and I wanted to frame those changes in the positive way I was experiencing them. I try not to say "I CAN'T eat that," or "I HAVE to work out." I want the kids to know that I am making choices and there are some things I choose not to eat ever and some I choose to eat sparingly, but that in the end they are my choices, not something that is being done to me that I'm enduring.
4. I try to focus more on what my body can do then what it looks like. As I was losing the weight I didn't make a big deal in front of the kids about dropping a clothing size. I did, however, make a big deal about my gains in the gym. First pull-up? Who wants to come watch me do one? Squatted almost twice my body weight for the first time? That was definitely discussed when the kids asked me how my day was. So much emphasis is placed on making our bodies look a certain way, but I think it's much more empowering to shine a light on what we can do with those bodies, rather than how we can make them look. I think it's particularly good for my kids to see me work and work to be able to accomplish something physically that I couldn't do before. I share my victories and struggles with them as they happen day by day. And I encourage them to focus on what their bodies can do and what they can accomplish them.
5. We talk a lot about healthy food choices. I serve healthy meals sprinkled with occasional indulgences. We talk about food as fuel, eating when we're hungry- not just when we're bored, and how our food impacts how we feel. I want them to have an awareness of what they put into their bodies, how it impacts their health, and how it makes them feel without thinking about it in terms of food "making them fat."
My hope for my children is that they won't spend nearly the amount of time thinking about the number on the scale as I have in my life. There are so many more important and interesting things to think about after all. I hope that they will experience the excitement of stretching the boundaries of what their bodies can do. And I hope that the next time someone else tries to share an opinion about the shape and size of their bodies that they feel confident in ignoring that opinion.
How have you approached discussions of weight/ body image/ your weight loss journey with your children? I'd love to hear about conversations that went well and also times where you weren't sure what would be useful to say.
If you're looking to change your body composition, i.e. lose fat and gain muscle (otherwise known as getting "toned") then protein is your new best friend! Eat some at every meal and most snacks as well. Why? Protein helps us feel satiated and it's also the building block of muscle. There are lots of great lean protein possibilities: chicken breast, tukey, ground turkey, fish, eggs, lean cuts of grass-fed beef such as sirloin and flank steak, and lean ground grass-fed beef. The key is to prepare the protein in a way that keeps it on target for your body composition goals and is delicious at the same time. So adding any kind of sauce that is cream based or filled with sugar wouldnt be ideal. Staying away from any prepackaged sauce is the best way to go in my opinion. They are usually filled with sugar, chemicals and calories. Using herbs and spices, or making easy homemade sauces (again not cream or sugar based) is my prefered way of preparing protein. To make things super easy on myself, every week I grill, bake, or crockpot a big batch of one protein for a dinner and then use the rest for my lunches for the week, My very favorite chicken recipe is Hawaiian Chicken. I adapted this recipe from 2x Figure Olympia Champion Erin Stern's Hawaiian Chicken recipe. I usually make it on the grill, but I've also just thrown all of the ingredients in a crockpot and it was delicious that way too! One 4oz piece has 188 calories, 32g protein, 6g carbs, 3g fat and 1.4g sugar.
1/4 cup pinapple juice
2 Tablespoons reduced sugar ketchup
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger
2 teaspoons garlic paste or 2 minced garlic cloves
6 (4 oz) chicken breasts
Combine all ingredients except for chicken in a Ziploc bag. Mix well. Add chicken. Marinate in refrigerator 4-6 hours. Grill 6 minutes per side or until juices run clear. If you like your chicken with sauce on it, reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade before you place the chicken in the baggie and pour it on top of the grilled chicken breast.
Totally delicious and nourishing as well. Hope you love it! And if you do please pass it along to others in your life who may like it as well!
A few months ago a friend texted me upset about her weigh in that morning. I answered her nutrition and training questions, however, the advice I thought might actually help her the most had nothing to do with diet or exercise. It had to do with the way she was talking to herself. It was like one of the mean girls from that movie with Lindsay Lohan had taken up residence in her head.
Do you find yourself beating yourself up when you eat something you're "not supposed" to eat, when you eat too much, when you sleep in instead of work out, or when the scale won't budge? There's a saying that I see a lot on social media these days "You'll never get the body you want hating the one you have." Now, I bet it's actually possible to get a smoking hot body while talking trash about yourself. The problem with that plan though? I mean besides the obvious fact that that's just an awfully unpleasant way to live! Your mean-girl, trash talking voice will keep you from seeing what's really there even after you've smashed your goals. You'll still be in there finding flaws and jumping all over yourself for any perceived infraction. You will crave the next compliment on your figure, desperately wanting that positive affirmation from anyone willing to give it, that you're looking good.
So what can we do to silence our inner mean girl? This is the advice I shared with my friend: The next time you catch yourself in the middle of hurling a verbal molotov cocktail at yourself pretend you're talking to one of your children. What would that sound like? Imagine your child was working towards a goal and struggling to make progress, what would you say? How would you help? Can you imagine "helping out" by berating her or him? Of course not! What are some things you might actually say?
Keep on working at it.
You'll get there.
Be proud of how far you've come.
You've got this.
Don't give up now.
Don't worry about it.
Everyone messes up sometimes.
Just get back on track.
You know what to do.
I know you can do it.
Its just a small setback.
What if we said one of those things to ourselves the next time we overindulge, notice the scale not moving or discover that our pants are tighter than usual? It's interesting to me that self compassion often doesn't come as naturally as compassion for others. It takes practice to begin talking to ourselves this way. Imagine though reaching our physique goals and having our inside be just as beautiful as our outside, and best of all being able to see and acknowledge that beauty.
Be good to yourselves ladies! If you feel so inclined to share I'd love to know -what is your biggest nutrition or fitness struggle? FitGirl Total Transformations is all about finding sustainable solutions to women's fitness and nutrition struggles.
Since I'm on vacation I was able to enjoy one of life's little pleasures- browsing slowly through a bookstore. I ended up with an armful of books by the time I checked out, and have spent the last 5 days highlighting and writing notes in the margins of one of them. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, a New York Times bestseller, details how habits are formed and even more importantly how habits can be changed.
I am convinced that the key to successful, lasting body recomposition (fat loss+ muscle gain) lies in systematically changing our habits. So a book highlighting the relevant scientific research on the subject was a great find! If you've ever tried to stop biting your nails, start running every morning or give up drinking your daily sodas you well know that it is a lot easier said than done to change our habits. While The Power of Habit doesn't offer a step by step checklist to habit change it does list the key ingredients and ideas on where to start. I highly recommend reading the book in it's entirety, but in the meantime let me share just one important take-away.
Mr. Duhigg discusses a Harvard study of "people who radically changed their lives." One frequent occurrence noted during the study was that people "changed because they were embedded in social groups that made change easier." Think about that for a moment. What about being a part of a social group could make change easier? My guess was accountability. And perhaps that is a piece of it, but it's not what the Harvard study found.
So, what did they find? Belief. That's right! When a person joins a group and sees others changing it helps that individual believe change is actually possible. And that belief is key to permanent habit change. Todd Heatherton, one of the Harvard psychologists who conducted the study, puts it like this "[Change] seems real when we can see it in other people's eyes."
I can totally relate to this. Last summer I joined Oxygen Magazine's Oxygen Challenge. During this challenge participants had the chance to be lead by two amazing fitness professionals (I chose 2x Figure Olympia champ Erin Stern). Our coaches provided us with meal plans and training plans for three months. The opportunity to learn from Erin, combined with fabulous prize offerings is why I joined the challenge. An additional bonus, that I was unaware of when I joined, turned out to be the key to many participants' success. That unexpected bonus was a private Facebook page where we could interact with all of the other women on our team (and our fabulous coach as well!) We posted progress pictures, asked questions, shared successes, celebrated victories, consoled each other when we fell short, offered advice and a listening ear, and just walked our separate journeys together.
During this first Oxygen Challenge and the second one currently happening it has been a pretty common occurrence to see posts like this: I'm 40 years old, please someone tell me that it's still possible to lose the weight. I had a c-section, please someone tell me they've successfully gotten rid of the c-section pooch. I have a bad knee, has anyone been able to successfully do this program with a bad knee? In response to these posts would come dozens of responses, many with accompanying pictures showing that yes, all of these things were possible! I love reading the excited responses of the original poster and others like her who were wondering the same thing. Inevitably they express their thanks for others showing them that the change they desired was possible. They now believe it is possible because they see others like them doing it!
So the take home message, ladies? Don't go it alone. Find a community (even a community of one other person will do according to The Power of Habit.) Share your journey. Maybe you'll even end up being the one to help another believe that change is possible. And that is one of life's greatest pleasures.
I'm a NASM certified personal trainer who is passionate about helping women transform their bodies through strength training and sustainable nutritional habit changes.