Category Archives: Fit Talk

Deck of Cards Workout

I have learned a great many things since you and I last got together here. The highlights off that list:

  1. When in Vegas, I’m no longer part of the “Let’s party like it’s 1999” population (R.I.P. Prince). Rather, I’m officially in the population lovingly known as “I’m here for work so don’t call after 9:30 or you’ll interfere with Pajamas-in-Bed-While-Drinking-Wine-in-a-Hotel-Cup-and-Watching-The-Wahlburgers time.”
  2. Don’t ever say out loud that you can’t imagine life moving any faster or your schedule getting any busier. I mean, unless you hate yourself and love jinxed karma. We’re all a bunch of masochists!
  3. This trainer has lost five step challenges in a row. Partly because I am not super-human and partly because I apparently need to start running the aisles in places like Whole Foods as I’m working behind a tasting table. Or maybe I’ve learned to stop accepting step challenges from people who run all day.
  4. Jalapeno Wine Lemonade is basically out-performing even my own expectations, as it makes the world’s best shandy (aka: beer + lemonade). “Why would you know this, Crystal? You don’t drink beer.” Turns out anything is possible! Especially if it’s a dangerous combination of jalapenos, wine, lemonade and the bright grapefruit in this IPA. Good things are in the works between us and Boise Brewing this summer, friends.
  5. Fact: You can bake the best, most wholesome dinner on the homestead and your children will still tell you it tastes like “the poop from a Ninja Turtle.”
  6. A more promising fact: You can still make time to exercise while learning above-mentioned valuable lessons and it doesn’t have to completely stink! Want proof? As you wish…

This workout is by far the most-requested by my clients at the studio. The fun part is it can be changed up every time and modified if needed. Have bad knees? Swap out the lunges and squats with more upper body and core moves. If you are getting painfully bored with your current routine I guarantee you’ll secretly enjoy the element of surprise in this workout. Sometimes not knowing what’s happening next is the best way to trick your body into doing hard things.

The premise: Grab 52 cards, preferably not a pinochle deck unless you’re into that sorta thing (LOTS of cardio, if you follow my key below). Place them all in one pile face-down on the ground. Draw one card, perform that exercise before drawing the next card.

For example, according to my handy graphic here – if I draw a 4 of diamonds, I’m gonna do four pushups and then immediately draw another card. Maybe it’s a Jack of Spades. Looks like I’ve got 11 tricep dips! And so on.

Aces are cardio – I like to think of them as Deliverers of 1-Minute Evil (Catholic reference, and a really bad one).

Do this workout until all cards are drawn or until you run out of time. This is the perfect travel workout since all you need is a deck of cards and your hotel room neighbors to stop screaming at each other in Portuguese. Added travel logistics bonus: Airport security people look at you like you’re less crazy than they do when you walk through with a resistance band with handles. Specifically at the Denver airport. Not like that’s ever happened to me…

deckofcardsworkout.jpg

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to find some steps. Perhaps at the bottom of a glass of Jalapeno Wine Lemonade shandy…

Get Fit in Four Months: Month Four

“Hello. It’s me. I’ve been MIA because my head is still in Hawaii.”

That’s essentially the only good reason I have for you. I realize that Month Three of this segment turned into Month Three-and-a-Half. Roll with it. You had to know I’d come back for you. A great trainer knows how to make people hold on a little longer than they’re comfortable. How’s that for justification of my absence?

Judging by how many hits I’ve had lately on the Get Fit in Four post series, you guys are ready. You’re ready for the nitty gritty, detail-intensive, game-changing last month. And what better time to amp yourself up for it than during the holidays, when you know you’re going to be thrown into food and drink remorse. I speak of this judgement-free since I managed to gain more than a few pounds on vacation (I blame only myself…and the market fresh coconut filled with rum…and the margaritas at Fred’s Mexican Café). The fact that I’d lost more than a few pounds beforehand during my own Get Fit in Four journey, however, kind of makes me feel no remorse. See how that worked out for me? It’s a win/win. Your turn!

If you’ve been doing your homework from Month 1, Month 2 and Month 3 then you’ve been logging your food, watching your portions, lifting heavier, interval training and choosing cleansing, less bread-like foods. You’ve also been increasing your protein intake. Well done, team. If this was a basketball game I’d slap you on the butt and fist-pump you. Since this is simply the game of life I feel doing both those things in tandem would be highly inappropriate. So you get a proverbial high five and a get-back-to-work nod of approval. We’re headed into overtime.

Get Fit in 4.jpg

Get Fit in 4: Month Four

*Disclaimer: Please remember I’m giving you my plan for myself, which means you may have to tweak a few things if you’re already doing them/they don’t apply/you have an alternate effective method. I’ll give suggestions for options where I think they are applicable but otherwise try to focus on keeping true to yourself and finding areas you can improve on that are similar to what I’m tackling in this guide. Also, this is meant to escalate in baby steps, meaning each month will become more focused, particularly the last month where I’ll be in small-detail mode. Oof!*

  1.  Limit sugars and alcohol.

You were dreading this moment, I know. If you remember back in Month One I promised I would bring you a doable approach to getting fit that allowed you to still drink your wine. Because Yours Truly here does not give up wine unless I’m having a major surgery. Even then it’s extremely temporary. If you are up for cutting out alcohol altogether for a month, do it. You’ll see even better and quicker results than I did and I will applaud you and cheers you with my Walla Walla Red Blend. Otherwise, you can simply limit yourself to one glass a *fill in the blank.* Maybe it’s one glass a night all week long (back in Month One I only committed to 1 glass/night Sunday through Thursday). Maybe it’s one glass every other night. Maybe it’s one glass a week. Commit to it this month.

Also, really cut back on your sugars now. Sure, I’m talking about all that Halloween candy you’re still sneaking or the pies people haven’t stopped gifting you for the holidays. But I’m also talking about sugar in the form of less-obvious things like beverages, cereals, condiments, baked goods, breads, etc. If you won’t be starting Month Four until after the holidays and the New Year begins, you’ll likely be in sugar coma overload.

2.  H.I.I.T. train more, more, more.

Last month I told you to integrate interval training into your workouts. We’re going to build on that this last month and up the playing level with H.I.I.T. training (High Intensity Interval Training). These are generally shorter workouts done at a higher/as challenging as possible intensity. For a beginner bodyweight H.I.I.T. workout check out this post. If the treadmill is more your go-to torture device, there’s a H.I.I.T. workout here for you, too.

Essentially, the idea behind H.I.I.T. training is that by doing shorter bouts of high intensity work alternated with a fixed period of less-intense activity or even complete rest, the body will be pushed to burn fat more efficiently. You can thank your body’s repair cycle for this, seeing as you’ll actually continue to burn calories for 24 hours after a H.I.I.T. workout. Since the whole point behind Month Four is to shed as much fat as possible, H.I.I.T. training is the ringer you call in to seal the championship trophy at the end of the game.

My favorite way to do H.I.I.T. is actually equipment-free. I typically do 20 minutes of H.I.I.T once or twice a week. You can Pinterest the hell out of the H.I.I.T. workout world and find yourself a good one, or check out the two links (above) to my own posts to get you started.

3.  Drink LOTS of H2O.

I mean, you should be peeing pretty much every time you blink. Or maybe just really often. Water is super important this time around and if it wasn’t already a BFD to you, congratulations – you just had a baby – we’ll call her Dasani – and we don’t leave the house without the baby, do we?

If you’ve ever said the words “water weight” you probably know you can lose or gain 1-3 pounds of the stuff over the course of a day. Traveling home from Hawaii on the red eye a couple weeks ago, I was overjoyed to discover my cankles later that day. On opposite day. Truth is, water weight is a jerk of a thing. One way to fight back is by moving lots, reducing your sodium intake and drinking more water than a hungover elephant. I know, my husband thinks I’m insanely eloquent, too.

4.  Incorporate pyramid training when weight lifting.

Here’s where it gets technical and also fun. You’ve already been lifting heavier since Month Two, right? Yesssss. You’re used to doing straight sets by now whether you know it or not – they are when you do a fixed number of reps of an exercise no matter how many sets are in your workout. Straight sets are pretty common and while they are a great thing, it’s time to change it up. It’s time to introduce pyramid training.

There are two kinds of pyramid training: Regular pyramid sets and reverse pyramid sets. Let’s start with the good ‘ol fashioned way first.

Pyramid sets are when you increase the weight each set while decreasing the reps. That simple. Here’s a borrowed example:

Photo Credit: cyclingfitness.hubpages.com
Photo Credit: cyclingfitness.hubpages.com

With pyramid sets, you’ll usually do 4 (or more) sets. Four sets is my minimum when I’m doing this type of workout.

The only issue I have with regular pyramid training and what many people in the fitness industry confirm is that doing it this way means your muscles are already fatigued by the time you begin lifting the heaviest weight. Hmm…if only there were something called reverse pyramid training…

Magically, reverse pyramid training, uh, reverses everything. So instead, you’ll start out lifting the heaviest weight you can manage for a lesser number of reps, then each set you’ll lower the weight and increase the reps. Like this:

Photo Credit: anabolicminds.com
Photo Credit: anabolicminds.com

While I do both kinds of pyramid training to mix it up, I’m partial to doing it this way. For the most part I really enjoy that the weights get lighter every set. I like being rewarded for my valiant effort.

To get to work on either of these methods, simply pick out which exercises you’re going to do and pick a weight and number of reps to begin with. You can do each set back-to-back or you can do the entire routine with all exercises once, then move on to the next set. Your first time will be mostly trial and error as you figure out what you’re capable of lifting. Push yourself as much as you can and rest a little longer than usual between sets (unless your usual is long enough to drive across town for a skinny latte).

Also, it’s crucial that you warm up properly before doing either type of pyramid training. Now is not the appropriate time to shave 5 minutes off your schedule.

5.  Listen to your body!

After all that talk about going into overtime and sealing the championship trophy, here is where I tell you to chill the !@#& out. Quite honestly, I gave myself some breaks here and there during this whole process. Crap happens. My life and your life are not perfect. Pretty sure I could’ve been even more fit when I hit the beach. Pretty sure I didn’t care because…I was on the beach. Be kind to yourself and your body and your perception of it. There are enough crazy-obsessive people out there – you’re not one of them (I mean, please tell me you’re not one of them, right?).

P.S. One suggestion: Do not get a spray tan two days before you jump in the beautiful, warm, salty ocean to body surf. Total. Waste. Unless you enjoy looking like a black and tan brownie. 

Get Fit in Four Months: Month Three

“Hey self, how about we wrap up Month Three with a weekend in wine country?”

–“Yeah, that sounds more like it. Wait, will we still see results doing that?”

“Nope! But it’ll make us even more focused in Month Four.”

–“Good plan.”

And that is how Yours Truly transitioned between Month Three and Month Four. If you remember from Month One, I am actually a month ahead of you on the plan, in order to be sure it’s going to work give you my honest approach. And honestly, the weekend in wine country was worth it. I’m not going to downplay it: The host at our bed and breakfast cooked up the scones of all scones, making carbs cease to exist in my serotonin-induced coma. I really was not ashamed – the food in Walla Walla was fresh, of practical proportions and everywhere we went menus boasted adorable words like “Our menu changes with the seasons and availability.” – Whitehouse Crawford. Go there. Tonight.

But on that following Monday morning there existed a more familiar reality and I was pinched awake from my red wine cloud by the reminder on my phone chiming: “Begin Get Fit for Maui: Month Four.” Gonna need some coffee.

But dang, those scones and that wine…

Let’s back up a bit though, because before all that there was Month Three in which I began running again after my little forced hiatus. Month Three is possibly the most crucial of the four because it is in Month Three that our loyalty to our body gets tested most. Sure, we can handle two months of lifestyle changes but can we handle three months of giving our bodies consistent, well-rounded exercise, nourishment and fuel that won’t make us sink to the deep end of the “I tried” pool? More importantly, can we then end Month Three with enough gusto to face Month Four? Yeah, we can. Because between goals is that swim meet called life we must participate in. So this month we take any set-backs we might have had in Month One and Two and let Month Three kick them out of the lap pool. For we are past the doggie paddling stage.

First and foremost: Keep up with the last two months’ tips – most importantly keep logging your food, watch your portion sizes, stop eating two hours before bed, continue to do more core work and keep lifting heavier. We’re going to get a bit more technical with these specific things in the next two months.

Get Fit in 4.jpg

Get Fit in 4: Month Three

*Disclaimer: Please remember I’m giving you my plan for myself, which means you may have to tweak a few things if you’re already doing them/they don’t apply/you have an alternate method. I’ll give suggestions for options where I think they might be necessary but otherwise try to focus on keeping true to yourself and finding areas you can improve on that are similar to what I’m tackling in this guide. Also, this is meant to escalate in baby steps, meaning each month will become more focused, particularly the last month where I’ll be in small-detail mode. Oof!*

  1. Chill out on the breads.

For me, this little rule isn’t so much about gluten-free or even the calories. It’s about the fact that my body feels heavy when I eat more bread than I’m used to eating or even just when I eat certain types of bread in any quantity. There are all kinds of theories about this out there and very valid ones at that (simply Google “bread and inflammation” and you’ll see what I mean). Without getting deep into the science of it right now I’m going to simply recommend that if you find your stomach instantly balloons after eating bread then…don’t. Or simply chill out on your consumption of it. I love carbs (see above scone rant) and as my last meal I would request the best breads and cheeses and vino be brought before me for my immediate consumption. But I don’t love the tired, weighed-down, inflamed feeling I sometimes get afterwards. Again, it varies depending on the bread and maybe it is a gluten thing, but I digress. I don’t believe in cutting out certain foods completely unless a person has an actual allergy or intolerance, mostly because personally I don’t do well with being told I cannot have something (Youngest Child Syndrome). So I limit myself instead and I’m encouraging you to do the same this month. This also applies to crackers and chips of all kinds. Unless they are homemade apple chips. In which case don’t mind me raiding your pantry…

  1. Eat more cleansing foods.

This is not me telling you to put yourself on a cleanse. You likely won’t see that suggestion on this blog. I find the fastest and most efficient way to nourish myself while ensuring my system doesn’t feel bogged down is by consuming cleansing foods regularly. Luckily we’re in the perfect season for naturally cleansing produce right now: Tomatoes, all kinds of squash, apples, beets, carrots, cranberries, and Swiss chard. Others available all year round (at least in grocery stores) are avocados, lemons, berries and garlic. Now, whether you get your cleansing foods in by juicing/blending them or throwing them together in a hearty soup or other recipe, it’s all beneficial. Thanks to the chilly evenings that are only getting chillier, the soup’s on at my house. Most recently we devoured the below cleansing soup, but here’s a link to some more delicious, cleansing soups we put in regular rotation all year round. Also, eating these items raw or a few of them together in a salad is a great idea.

Photo Credit: Insockmonkeyslippers.com
Photo Credit: Insockmonkeyslippers.com

Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

3 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (about 8 cups)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 apples, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
4 cups low sodium, organic chicken broth
½ tsp. curry powder (I actually used 1/4 tsp. paprika and 1/4 tsp. cayenne in lieu of curry powder, it gave the soup a kick of heat!)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425.

Divide squash, onions and apples in two rimmed baking sheets.

Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over each tray of fruit and veggies and seasons with salt and pepper. Gently toss all the ingredients together until they all have a light coating of olive oil and seasonings.

Roast for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Once the ingredients cool to room temperature, put them in the blender (one tray at a time) and add two cups of chicken broth and ¼ tsp. curry powder or other seasonings. Blend for 30-60 seconds or until the soup is rich and creamy.

Pour into a large pot and repeat with the second tray. Listen to your kids scold you for being too loud. Warm the soup over a medium-high heat until heated through.

Adjust the seasonings and enjoy!

Makes 6 cups (4-6 servings)

  1. Introduce interval training into your workout regimen.

If you’ve stuck to your guns and have been getting in more cardio these past couple months, now’s the time to shake it up again. I want you to introduce interval training into your sweat sessions. Interval training can be adapted for all kinds of exercise but generally speaking:

If you are walking/jogging/running/biking/rowing/using the elliptical – Begin pushing yourself faster for a set amount of time, say 2 minutes. Slow it back down to normal pace for 60 seconds. Repeat that combo until you’ve reached the end of your workout session. Each week, increase your faster intervals by time (try 3 minutes instead of 2). You can play with both the faster and slower interval lengths as much as you’d like but be sure to make it challenging every time. If speed isn’t your thing, you can also use the incline option for your harder interval bouts.

Another alternative: You can break your session up into segments – 5 minutes of walking followed by 5 minutes of jogging followed by 60 seconds of sprinting followed by 5 minutes of walking again, for example.

It’s your workout, your choice. I enjoy interval training because it’s a boredom buster, especially on the treadmill. Check out this beginner runner treadmill workout for an example.

  1. Increase your protein intake.

Remember how back in Month One you began logging your food? If you’re using an app such as My Fitness Pal or any food entry program that allows you to track your macronutrients (carbs/fat/protein), start paying attention to your protein intake. More specifically, make protein 30% of your diet. To put this another way, 30% of your daily calories should come from protein. This will be different for everyone depending on gender and goals, but for the intent of this post series I’m guiding you to hit that 30% mark. This means more chicken, turkey, fish, lean red meat if you’re a fan, eggs, Greek yogurt, etc. I currently aim to get 150 grams of protein every day. I don’t always hit that mark, but that’s not so much my concern as it is watching to be sure I’m getting enough protein to help recover, restore and rebuild muscle as well as to feel full longer. As far as the rest of my calories go, I aim for 40% to come from carbohydrates and 30% to come from fat. My Fitness Pal is super helpful to keep me on track…as long as I’m diligent about logging everything!

Screenshot of my own macro percentages in My Fitness Pal
Screenshot of my own macro percentages in My Fitness Pal

Believe me, I’m no angel when it comes to regularly logging my food but I consider it one of the top five most important things you can do to see progress. Remember the last time you conveniently didn’t count the half cookie you ate because your kid didn’t want it anymore? Been there.

***

That’s it for Month Three, but as you can see I think it’s enough to keep you on your toes. Comment below with how you’re doing, what helps you the most, or what you think is the most challenging about sticking with this whole situation!

Get Fit in 4 Months: Month Two

Did you hear that? I’m talking about that shrill screeching-halt sound that was life a few weeks back. No? Just me? That’s encouraging, actually. Hopefully if you didn’t hear that sound it means you’re still spinning the wheels of Month One, waiting for me to get my arse back in gear and post Month Two because it’s been sliiiightly longer than I promised it would be. And that’s why we don’t make promises around here, folks!

In a nutshell, I had a teeny-tiny set-back this past month. Let’s just say even smart phones can’t do what this thing does for humans and let’s just say it’s implanted in my rib cage (In other news: Side boob is the new black). I’ll blog about it another day but let’s also just say I’m doing A-OK and there is no emergency. There was no emergency in the first place. This is all a bunch of fanfare in order to make sure my heart doesn’t pull a big fat Montell Jordan disappearing act. In fact I’m back on track, working out again and enjoying a mostly adequate degree of normalness in my life (Translation: Usual chaos; See also: WTF?).

At any rate, I’m a bit behind on my prep for Maui but in all honesty I’m not entirely concerned. Part of what I enjoy about what I do is being able to make health and fitness work for myself and others long-term and being realistic about goals. So yes, while my goal is still to look great in a bikini I also feel like right now my goal is just to rock some scars on the sands. And to drink pineapple wine.

With all that said, here’s how Month Two is gonna work: You’ll still do everything you’ve been doing in Month One to the best of your ability, then you’ll add in the below things to mix it up even more. At the speed we’re working you’ll be more fit just in time for the holidays. Please realize this means that you will have to hunt a bit harder for a more hideous outfit for the ugly Christmas sweater party you may inevitably attend. Don’t show up looking fantastic and expect people not to roll their eyes at you and invite you next year.

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Get Fit in 4: Month Two

*Disclaimer: Please remember I’m giving you MY plan for MYSELF, which means you may have to tweak a few things if you’re already doing them/they don’t apply/you have an alternate method. I’ll give suggestions for options where I think they might be necessary but otherwise try to focus on keeping true to yourself and finding areas you can improve on that are similar to what I’m tackling in this guide. Also, this is meant to escalate in baby steps, meaning each month will become more focused, particularly the last month where I’ll be in small-detail mode. Oof!*

  1. Lift heavier.

Now I could give you the scientific way of doing this, based on percentages of the amount of weight you currently lift. Or I could do what people who live in the real world do and tell you to pick up a weight that is 3-5 pounds heavier than what you’re currently lifting. So for example, in Month One I was doing bicep curls with 12lb dumbbells. In Month Two I picked up 15lbs instead. Whatever the exercise, you should feel like the last 2-3 reps are challenging enough that you can’t do any more. Just doing basic squats without weights? Then now’s the time to do weighted squats. Want to make jumping jacks more challenging? Add some 5lb dumbbells and do overhead presses while you jack your feet in and out. See where I’m going with this? Go there.

2.  Add in some yoga.

You might skip over this paragraph because you think yoga is too simple and it’s not going to make a difference to your body. Listen, stubborn face! Yoga can give your body the balance it needs between sweaty workout sessions. It can help your muscles recover faster, train your body in different ways and all those downward dogs and planks do some nice shoulder sculpting. I admittedly don’t do yoga on a regular basis but I like to add it in when I’m really trying to shock my muscles. Try doing yoga once a week in Month Two. And avid runners: This is pretty much a must for you.

A great resource to try: Yoga with Adriene

3.  More core. I repeat: More core.

Are you feeling a bit lighter and stronger after Month One? Now’s the time to start waking up the abs. Reducing belly fat is the first step in uncovering abs, which is mostly done through diet. But after adding more cardio and watching your diet more carefully the first month you should be noticing some smaller belly benefits right about now. Try to do some ab work at every workout (some forms of yoga are good for this as well). If you’re going out for a run, finish it up with 5-10 minutes of core moves. Make your stomach and back work harder during your strength and HIIT sessions. Some oldie but goodie moves to incorporate are supermans, bicycle crunches, reverse crunches, leg lifts, crunches on a stability ball, and planks.

Sick of planking? I guarantee you haven’t done them all. Just check out 25 Plank Variations You Absolutely Have to Try.

That’s it! There are only three things to add in this month but compounded with last month I think you’ll find this makes sense. Month Three will be a bit more challenging as we reel things in even more and I give you even more specific goals to hit.

If you are following along and would like to “weigh in” on how you’re doing, I’d love to hear about it!

Get Fit in 4 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide

As I write this post I’m sitting here drinking the World’s Most Gargantuous Cup of Unsweetened Iced Tea. What I really want is coffee. As it is, it’s already mid-afternoon and I know a coffee would seriously screw with my sleep cycle even more than the 24-hour non-drowsy allergy pills I’m taking already do. Turns out, while incredibly efficient at putting a stop to my hacking fits, marathon snot-blowing pity parties and blood-shot peeps (I cannot count on all my appendages how many times the hubs has asked me “Are you high?”), allergy meds can make normal nightmares feel like a meditation retreat. I mean, has anyone else dreamt about witnessing a car run over a polka-dot dress-wearing ghost in a cemetery conveniently located next to the haunted mansion where “babysitters” are watching your two precious offspring who each suddenly know how to break into things with crowbars? Now I know how M. Night Shyamalan gets his material.

Nevertheless, I’m on a mission. In fact I’m on Week 3 of a mission. In approximately three months I’ll be on the sands of Maui with my whole family, dancing to the tune of whatever-the-heck-I-want-to. In a swim suit. The kind of outfit I haven’t worn since I was pregnant in the biggest of ways and taking my then-toddler to mommy-and-me swim lessons. So there’s that. And of course it involves a two-piece which I purchased during my pre-allergy medication status when I was questionably delirious. So let’s just say some things need to happen if that whole bikini-on-the-beach situation is going to play out well.

Now let me be clear, I’m the type of person who will wear that swim suit regardless of whether I put myself on a 4-month fitness program. I’m happy either way. But hey, just for fun – because it’s part of what I love to do for money – let’s see what I can accomplish in four months, shall we? And maybe you follow along because you’re interested too. Because you won’t say it out loud but you’ve gained a few pounds this summer and you feel like maybe you’d rather be in a better place fitness-wise (and all of your people want you to stop talking about how icky you feel). And the holidays are around the corner (yep, I said it) and you’d like to lose some lb’s before that. Or maybe you’re where I’m at and you feel healthy overall but you want to take it to the next level – just for kicks.

But hold the phone: You’d also like to keep some wine in there somewhere because life is hard and diets suck. I’m with you. In fact I’m so with you that I’m three weeks ahead of you just to be sure it’s going to work. You see, I put myself on my own Get Fit in 4 Plan at the end of July and I’m happy to say I’m down three pounds AND still drinking wine (although not as much – I gave myself an intervention *sigh*). But I’m not just looking to lose a few pounds. I’m looking to see what I can accomplish in 120 days. Why? Because everybody needs a goal or we get complacent.

If you’re feeling like it’s that time for you but don’t know which actions to take in order to begin, follow along. I’ll be posting this as a series, so in a few weeks I’ll give you the Get Fit in 4: Month Two plan I’ve designed for myself. No diets, no shakes, just some accountability to and for yourself. That’s going to be the HARDEST PART in this, folks. Losing accountability is ridiculously easy, that’s one of the primary reasons I’m employed. So you’re going to have to dig deep and stay committed – because all the flakes are still waiting for the “right time” to start.

Get Fit in 4: Month One

*Please remember I’m giving you MY plan for MYSELF, which means you may have to tweak a few things if you’re already doing them/they don’t apply/you have an alternate method. I’ll give suggestions for options where I think they might be necessary, but otherwise try to focus on keeping true to yourself and finding areas you can improve on that are similar to what I’m talking about in this guide. Also, this is meant to escalate in baby steps, meaning each month will become more focused, particularly the last month where I’ll be in small-detail mode. Oof!*

1.  Limit yourself to one glass wine/night, Sunday through Thursday.

Okay let’s chat for a moment. I’m admittedly not perfect and obviously the wife of a winemaker, so I enjoy my wine. Typically I try to limit myself to one glass of wine a night on the week days (for lots of reasons encompassing my health, my ability to appreciate early mornings a tad more, the quality of my workouts, etc.). However, sometimes summer happens. Suddenly I’m drinking two glasses a night and the calories begin adding up. I’m no longer a cheap date and Mint.com tells me we have exceeded our wine budget. Boo! I’m back on track and, funny how this happens, it appears that even on the weekends where I’ve allowed myself more than one glass of wine I’ve been stopping around two or three simply because that’s all I want. Tolerance is a silly beast that way. If you find you’ve been throwing back a bit more alcohol than usual this summer, now’s your time to start taking it down a notch (but still enjoy a lovely glass of Petite Syrah/beer/etc.). I’ll be dialing it waaayyyy back in about three months, so let’s save the drastic measures for then, shall we?

2.  Log your food as often as possible.

Remember what I said before about accountability being critical in this step-by-step process? This is one of those things. I don’t typically log my food every day or count calories because, frankly, it’s time-consuming. But it’s also incredibly effective if you want to really see where your calories are going and be honest with yourself about how much you’re eating. Usually my M.O. is to log my calories for a few days whenever I feel like I’ve gotten off-track. It always opens my eyes to where I’ve been sneaking in the excess. Right now though, I’m going on three weeks of logging my food MOST days of the week and in addition to adhering to step #1 up there, I believe this is what’s caused a 3-pound weight loss already.

The easiest way I’ve found to log my food is to use the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. It’s free, and once you know how many calories you should be aiming for each day (check out the handy calculators at Freedieting.com), it’ll help you track what you’re putting in and what you’re putting out (through workouts and daily activities like walking). It’ll also give you a great idea of macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats) so you can see if you’re overdoing it on the breads and cheeses and under-doing it on the lean proteins (a key issue most of us face). Lastly, it has an impressive database of foods and you can always scan a barcode if you’re eating something store-bought. Here’s a screenshot of what the Diary section looks like:

My FitnessPal Screenshot

3.  Run or simply workout more.

If you like to run and you’re not doing it already, start. This is one of those things that as soon as I start doing it again I instantly lose weight thanks to the calorie burn it provides. If you’re already running a lot, change this to weight-lifting or high intensity interval training (HIIT) or even fast walking or hiking if running is too hard on your joints. Basically, whatever you’re not doing enough of, do more of this month to get a bigger calorie output. I’ve been really great about my strength-training and HIIT sessions but as the temps reached triple digits this summer I let running drop off. I keep my runs to about 3 miles now because I find I’m a much better and faster runner when I do shorter distances. Keep in mind you only need about 30 minutes of high-quality cardio to see some benefits, so squeeze it in where you can. Or, perhaps you’re not working out at all. Here’s your kick in the @$$. Aim for at least 3 days a week. Don’t tell me how hard it is – I’m aware.

4Watch portion sizes.

A no-brainer, right? Not so much. Turns out “watching portion sizes” is too vague for most of us Americans. “I’m watching this portion size become unmeasurable” seems to be our general attitude. I’m not saying we have to weigh everything and become obnoxious to our family and friends. I’m saying maybe we don’t have to eat EVERYTHING on our plates. Or mayyybe we don’t need seconds. Even too much of a healthy thing is no longer a healthy thing. If a portion of peanut butter is one tablespoon – how often do you just eat one tablespoon? I already know that answer because I have lived that answer (Ahem: Post-pregnancy #1 and my affair with nutella/peanut butter/bananas).

5. Take a new fitness class.

Oddly enough, this one is proving to be the hardest for me to do this month. It’s a time thing, as I’m sure most everyone understands. I did manage to sneak away from my chaotic schedule one day for a noon Pure Barre class and was immediately thankful I had. Trying new fitness classes breaks up the ho-hum of a fitness routine and also helps shock our bodies into Go-Mode. I’m hoping to visit “the barre” again in the next couple weeks (for those of you interested in the Barre movement, check out Purebarre.com).

6.  No food two hours before bed.

This one really works for me. If I can give my digestion that two-hour head start before I lie down for the night it helps me feel lighter and ready for breakfast the next morning. This applies to beverages as well. Soooo, basically just some good ‘ol fashion H2O, friends. I know this one is difficult sometimes when we’re rushing around with the kids or getting home late from work or going out to dinner with friends, so just employ it on the nights you can. Extra credit: Follow my steadfast rule and ALWAYS drink warm lemon water upon waking. (Check out this post for further explanation).

So there’s the first installment of Get Fit in 4! Are you in?

How to Stay Fit…and Still Drink Wine

Look at me! I’m blogging! Hard to believe my last post occurred almost a month ago, who let that happen? If you could freeze this sentence in time you’d see that as I write this, I sit in the middle of a newly-laminated living room among freshly painted walls and a bright white ceiling and lovely natural light beaming through our temporarily-bare windows and…$#*% everywhere.

There’s a bit of a situation at home base. We decided to remodel our tiny space before we eventually leave it for good. Do you know the best way to clean your house? Answer: Tear it DOWWN. Really. Just start pulling boards from your walls and don’t feel surprised when you see the photo your spouse sends you of the massive mound of dirt (See also: Newly discovered planet where it appears living organisms could safely dwell.) he swept up after he ripped out the carpet.

Until this past weekend there was no way I was pulling our oven away from the wall to Dawn dish soap the crap out of it. But look at me twice: Did it! The upside and downside: We’re going on day 4 of no oven because we still need to install the flooring underneath it. This means lots of salads and grilling and picnics (both indoors and out). This also means I’ve had to get creative at cooking my eggs. FYI: Cooking eggs over-easy in the microwave is a ridiculous concept to tackle, especially before 7 AM.

In related news: Wine. There’s been that over here too. I know, you didn’t see that coming. I’ve got that post – so cleverly titled “A Wino’s Wine List: Part 2” – coming at you next week (see Part 1 here). But in the meantime, I was luckily contacted by Fix several weeks ago regarding an article they wrote for their fun site, called “Skinny Wine: Keeping Fit While Still Enjoying a Glass…or Two.” They thought that post might be a good fit for this blog and, truth be told, it took me weeks to read over it and get back to them. Typically these kinds of things end with me saying “thanks but no thanks” because the content rarely fits what I rant about here. But this one makes all kinds of sense! I think you’ll agree, unless you’re only here for the housecleaning tips and flawless child-rearing lessons. In which case, you really need to look into using a different search engine.

So without further disjointedness, I bring you the real portion of this blog post, written by food and wine writer Maggie Unzueta, who you can also find over at In Mama Maggie’s Kitchen (I’ll bet her kitchen doesn’t look like a cross between Home Depot and an episode of Hoarders.)

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Skinny Wine: Keeping Fit While Still Enjoying a Glass… or Two

Any good dieter knows to stay away from wine when trying to shed the pounds, but we all know that’s not always a realistic option. With so many amazing wines out there, it’s hard not to have a glass of wine or two after a long day of work from time to time. Instead, let’s look at how you can modify your wine-drinking habits to avoid gaining weight.

What’s the Whine About?

In case you don’t know why you should limit your wine when you’re trying to lose weight, it’s simply because our bodies digest alcohol differently than food. Excess alcohol (or ethanol) is sent through a complex metabolic process. This involves the liver, which potentially can be harmed if too much wine is consumed. The body will burn the alcohol first as energy and store other nutrients as fat.1

Know Your Limits

For safety reasons, drinking too much alcohol is not recommended. We often hear the phrase: “Everything in moderation.” The same applies to wine. With wine calories varying from 110 to 300+ for just four ounces, you should determine your calorie budget before hitting the wine bar.

Photo Credit: Fix.com
Photo Credit: Fix.com

Some restaurants serve six- to eight-ounce glasses of wine. So when you think you’re just having one, you could possibly be having two glasses of wine. Try using this general rule: For every ounce, calculate 25 calories. Next time you are eating out, try to gauge how much you have been poured by ounces, and from there you can estimate the calories in your glass. If you’re not sure how to measure ounces, ask the waiter or bartender how many ounces they are serving. They usually know.2

Calories, Calories, and More Calories

Knowing the caloric content in wines is the key. The highest-calorie wines tend to have the highest alcohol content. Most red and white wines range anywhere from 110 to 175 calories per four-ounce glass, but there are some sweet wines that go up to 300 calories per glass. If you are at home, you can easily search online for the exact calories. If you are hanging out with friends, it might be a little more difficult to figure out the calorie count. Since most of us tend to prefer one wine varietal to another, here is a breakdown of calories by wines to help you:

Wine from Least to Most Calories
Source: Fix.com

To compare, here are the caloric contents of other adult drinks:12 oz wine spritzer: 100-120 calories

  • 12 oz wine cooler: 215 calories
  • 12 oz can of beer: 146 calories
  • 2.5 oz shot of rum, vodka, etc: Approximately 100-120 calories

Sweet wines like Port, Tawny Port and Banyuls not only have very high alcohol levels, but they also hit you with high sugar carb calories. That’s probably why these wines are normally served in relatively small amounts.3

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

When you go to a wine bar, it‘s standard to order a cheese plate with a variety of cheeses, nuts, and dried fruit. Translation: fat, calories, and sugar. With 650 calories per serving in a normal cheese plate, this is not necessarily the healthiest option on the menu. Yes, there is the matter of pairing delicious cheeses with wines. You can’t argue against that, but you can pair wine with healthier alternatives.4

Healthy Snack Options with Wine
Source: Fix.com

If you are going out for a happy-hour hangout, one very good tip is to eat something before you go out. It will prevent you from overindulging and from having more than you should.5

Burn, Baby, Burn

We all know that exercising is a great way to lose weight. It’s also the best way not to gain weight while drinking. Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a gym rat to have a glass of wine. Here are some examples of typical 30-minute exercises for a 125-pound woman, and how many glasses of wine she can have as a result.

Half Hour Till Wine
Source: Fix.com

In short, the more you exercise you do, the more wine you can have. Also, know that alcohol causes dehydration and stunts muscle growth. Drink plenty of water to keep your muscles hydrated and your organs functioning normally. Although we do burn calories doing activities like gardening and walking to and from the car, we don’t burn enough to consume even one glass of wine guilt-free.

Other Tips and Wine Bits

  • One of the easiest and best ways to cut down on calories is to make a wine spritzer. Take half a glass of wine and pour it over ice. Top it off with club soda. Club soda has zero calories. A typical wine spritzer is roughly 100-120 calories.6
  • Be a wine snob. Most studies show that people buy wine according to price. If you pay for an expensive glass of wine, you are more likely to have only two unless you are related to Donald Trump.7
  • Drink water in between drinks. Water has zero calories and will make you feel full. Not only that, but it will also help lessen the next day’s after-drinking effects.

There are plenty of ways to keep from adding the pounds while still enjoying the wines you love. It does not have to be a dieter’s downfall. Additionally, wine is good for blood circulation and has stress-relieving benefits. Just for those reasons alone, you should not let the fear of adding weight stop you from drinking a glass of wine. Cheers!

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You can view the article at its original source here.

The Best Fitness Journals

I debated between posting a holiday-inspired recipe or a fitness-inspired gift idea this week. So you’re gonna get both! Today I bring you the best fitness journals according to moi. Later this week, watch for my favorite way to get my sugar on this time of year (yes, it pairs nicely with wine – pfft! – what doesn’t?).

Now I realize many people may prefer tracking their workouts and eating habits online or on an app, which I indeed do myself from time to time. But some of us ol’ fashioned geezers still enjoy writing things down in order to revel in their completeness (or mope at their undoneness). And if you have any health enthusiasts in your life, giving them the gift of a fitness journal will make them feel you understand them. You support them. You GET IT. Never mind the fact that you may be thinking, “you are a control freak and I don’t understand you or get you but here’s your silly journal.”

So whether you are thinking of yourself or someone else while reading this post, these trackers are the perfect tools if you’re…

  • A Journal Lover: Let no move or munchy go unrecorded with the Fitbook. Track your measurements and daily diet, write down your goals and plot out strength, cardio and yoga sessions. Jot down your relections on how you did each day (“This day must @#$! die!”). They have books for every phase you’re in – the mama to-be, the teenager, even the fast-track-to-weight-loss motivated. This is the book I get my clients most often.
fitbook2
$22.95, getfitbook.com.

 

  • Busy Minded But Health-Conscious: Record daily and weekly fitness goals as well as track hydration, diet and even vitamin and mineral intake with the Bodyminder Workout and Exercise Journal.  This one works best for me because it’s simple and takes less than 5 minutes to fill out, yet it keeps all my stats and progress in check. I have about a dozen of these filled out and stacked together and sometimes I look back and marvel at how much of a badass I really was when I didn’t think I was.
$13.95 at amazon.com; Photo courtesy of workoutnirvana.com
$13.95, amazon.com; Photo courtesy of workoutnirvana.com

 

  • A Task Master: Write your weekly fitness goal on top of the Fit Me notepad page and fill in your planned daily exercise. Later, jot down details about what you did and ate throughout the day so you can see if you strayed. Super simple and super convenient. This is perfect for the no-nonsense get ‘er done individual.
$9.95, lobotome.com
$9.95, lobotome.com

 

A Free Spirit: If you’d rather approach fitness like you approach a blind wine tasting, check out the blank notebooks with various fun fitness covers at cafepress.com. You’re guaranteed to find one that matches your personality and your style. Plus if you go wine tasting instead of working out, you can make up your own check-off box later as though you really intended for it to happen that way.

$9.99, cafepress.com
$9.99, cafepress.com

 

 

30 Days of Fitness – Day 7

If you’re wondering where days 3-6 went, you’ll find them on my Facebook page here. As always, if you can’t find challenge content on the blog, Facebook is my back-up method. This is the only social media outlet I feel I have somewhat of a handle on, which probably means I really don’t know what I’m doing. Nevertheless we’re on track with 30 Days of Fitness and tomorrow (Friday) is Day 7! Of course, if you’re jumping on for the first time, here’s what you need to know before you scroll down to see what tomorrow’s challenge is.

***

Starting Saturday, November 1st I’m going to be either blogging or Facebook’ing (is that officially a verb yet?) once a day to highlight ONE thing you can do each day in the name of your health. What for? My goal is to keep you – you who are interested and open to it – as healthy and sane as possible before December hits. Maybe it’s a fitness tip, a workout, or a way to be more mindful of what you’re consuming. Maybe it’s just a reminder to take 5 minutes to appreciate your body for what it does for you. I’ve got lots of stuff in this noggin’ and it’ll be good. I think it’s appropriate to start on November 1st for these reasons:

  1. It’s the day after Halloween. I don’t know about you but my kids have already acquired bags of candy and Halloween isn’t for two more days. I’d love to tell you I have super-human willpower and am not interested in sweets but if they’re in my house someone’s going to eat them and it won’t just be my kids. I’ll be getting rid of most of it on November 1st. And before you might “mean mom” me, please know I do allow my children plenty of sweets. It’s not my fault my 3-year-old loves dark chocolate. Okay, maybe it is a little bit.
  2. November has 30 days in it, what a crazy coincidence!
  3. November brings with it my absolute most-favorite holiday of the year. People eat on that day – a lot. We’re going to do some damage control all month.
  4. I’ve found it nearly pointless to do any kind of fitness challenge in the month of December. People are way too busy. My goal with doing this in November is to hopefully instill some basic good habits in all of us that will stick throughout the holidays, chaos and all.

Here’s how it’s going down:

  1. Look for either a blog post or Facebook post the night before. So this Saturday’s post will be up on Friday night. This way you won’t be waiting on me all day for something you could have done already. If you don’t already ‘Like’ my Facebook page, you can do so here so you get each day’s updates or find the Like button in the left-hand sidebar.
  2. Share with others, please! This keeps you accountable and reminds others who might be interested in their health to do the same. Sharing is caring and around here we care a LOT about not feeling like crap.
  3. Be open. This isn’t some crazy workout challenge. I do those too, but 30 Days of Fitness is meant to encourage you and keep you mindful. So some days it may be little things, other days I may ask more of you. Do what you can and always keep your health in the forefront of your brain every day, because no one else will.
  4. Comment whenever you have questions, concerns, disagree with my approach or love something. If you want more info on a topic, I am happy to dive in for you. I’m kind of a nerd like that.
  5. Subscribe and win. <— See that little sign-up box to the left? That’s a neat tool that, if you enter your email address, will automatically deliver my new blog posts to your inbox for you. All those who subscribe for email updates between OCTOBER 30th  and NOVEMBER 30th will be entered in a drawing to win this REALLY terrific cookbook from Lisa Leake over at the 100 Days of Real Food blog: “100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love.” Um, what’s not to love about winning that book at the most appropriate time of year? Check it out here!

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Day 7 – Pay attention to sugar intake

You might be thinking of all the obvious places sugar lurks – drinks, desserts, candy. But have you ever considered just how much sugar is in your yogurt, bread, crackers, condiments or even salad dressings? I’m not asking you to get sugar-retentive here, I’d just like you to become aware of how much sugar you might be taking in. Humor me for a day and check out the labels on everything you put in your mouth (if it has one). See what you come up with. Are you surprised?

And if you’re thinking sugar substitutes and “diet” anything is the way to go, I urge you to read this great post: “Sugar Free Does Not Equal Healthy (And More Startling Facts About Artificial Sugars.”

This time of year, you’re bound to be bombarded by sugar, so let’s start by paying attention to where some of the lesser-known sources are coming from.

See you on Day 8!

Things That Inspire Me

You might guess that I’m inspired by wine, fit-like stuff and my children. You’d be right, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Recently when I was telling one of my clients how she might think about making a list of everything and everyone in her life that inspired her (in order to stay on-track with her health goals), she flipped the switch on me and asked what I find inspiring. While it was easy to superficially answer that question, I started making a list a week later and realized I was quite possibly going to run out of paper.

I think the point of making a list of what inspires us is to fully realize all we have going right for ourselves, even if we feel like we’ve stumbled off the beaten path, with a wine hangover and no H2O Fairy in sight. Not that I’ve been in that situation or anything…

So I’m just going to put this out there – my sources of inspiration – to practice what I preach and hopefully motivate others to do the same.

Things That Inspire Me

  • My kids – When they learn anything new about the world or themselves.
  • My family’s health history – Like many of you can relate, it’s a bit complicated. There’s Alzheimer’s and heart problems on the table and I’m just hoping I don’t take a whopping serving of either. Maybe having a healthy lifestyle matters in the long run, maybe it doesn’t, but in the end I want to say I did what I could.
  • The stairs – There are 3 flights of stairs at the studio and every morning I climb them with 30 pounds of crap attached to me because I am the Bag Lady. I did this throughout both pregnancies when I maxed out at 195 pounds just in bodyweight. I’m too stubborn to let these punks get to me.

Climbing Stairs

  • Writers – The ones I’ve read, the ones I’ve met, the ones I haven’t yet read or met. They’re an amazing breed.
  • Lone Survivor – Yes, the movie and yes, it has Mark Wahlberg in it. But that’s not actually why it inspires me, although it does help. This movie was just eye-opening for me in regard to what it means to persevere and fight for what you believe in.
  • A really good run – Like the kind of run where your mind just stays the **** out of it.
  • Good natured people – Yes, they do exist and when you find them you know instantly. I try to surround myself with them and let the others choke each other out.
  • The outdoors – Sometimes a good walk outside with my kids is what saves the day.
  • My mom – She’s always supportive, even when I tell her things she probably doesn’t want to hear.
  • My dad – The man’s work ethic is astounding. Plus, when you realize you have the same idiosyncrasies as one of your parents, you finally understand them better.
  • My brother – If I were telling him this to his face, the compliment would sound more like, “You’re kinda cool and I’ll admit for a second that I’m associated with you.” Truth be told, he’s awesome.
  • My husband – He’s a worker-bee and devoted father and partner. What’s more inspiring than that in a husband?
  • Really !@#$ hard workouts – The kind that make me realize I can suck wind AND survive it.
  • People who admit when they’re wrong – Please and thank you.
  • Elderly/Widows/Widowers – Those who are out there doing their thing anyway.
  • Open minded people – Except those who are so open minded I think their brain escaped.
  • Good friends – Like, REALLY good friends. You know who you are.
  • Moms who know how to style their kids’ hair – Which class did you take in school that I missed? I’m guessing it was offered the same time I was failing Math 025.
  • Anything super, super funny – Make me pee my pants and I will worship you.
  • Creative chefs – Those who spend so much time perfecting dishes all so we can figure out how to work them off later.
  • People who know their stuff – Even if they’re just a checker at the grocery store, I love it when they know it inside and out.
  • Drinking a glass of wine near a fire – Something about wine and the heat from a fire make me impressively thoughtful and incoherently exhausted.
  • The coast – I’m mostly talking about the West Coast simply because it’s where I’ve spent the most time and it’s remarkable. Every time.

Washington Coast

  • Trying new recipes – I screw them up just as much as I succeed at them. Either way it’s like crack for my soul.
  • Getting a list of things done – We list people can be so annoying. That is, unless we get our list of things accomplished. Then we are really fun to be around.
  • Other parents, who parent – Carry on, stay strong, and thank you for breeding.
  • Emergency service personnel – EMS, fire fighters, police officers, all of them. I’ve so much respect for what you see in a day and still come out the other side wanting to do it again tomorrow.
  • People who like my kids – I mean, I like them but I sorta have to like them. You liking them just makes me think I’m not crazy.
  • My clients – From 29 to 82 years old, they are all inspiring.
  • A warm cup of tea on a cold day – I feel like I should be doing something insanely profound. That may take a lot of tea.
  • Entrepreneurs – This stuff is tough! I don’t care if you own a food truck or Google, you’re taking risks and fueled by passion, faith, and adrenaline.
Shark Tank
“I think your idea is crap.” “Thank you, shark, I’ll show you.”

 

  • Memories of loved ones – They say we shouldn’t live in the past, but I have had in my life some incredible people who are the stokers of the fire that fuels me.
  • Being told no – It gets me every time. Maybe it’s a youngest child thing or maybe it’s just that I’m inherently a rebel, tell me no and I will do it again, but better.
  • Homemade anything – The crafts, the bread, the DIY garden boxes, the recycled wine bottle plant hangers, the tomato sauce…I love it all.
  • Winemakers – Captain Obvious over here. As a wife of a vintner, I’m inspired by the science behind it all and the glory of the end result. Amen.
  • A good book – The ones you just can’t shake. The ones you can’t put down. The ones you need a night off from reading because you’re still churning over last night’s pages and trying to catch up emotionally. The ones that make you think, “I will never write this good. Ever.”
  • People who don’t give up – Even if I don’t agree with you, I’m inspired by your tenacity. Unless the thing you won’t give up on is being annoying.

 

 

 

30 Days of Fitness – Day 2

How did you do with Day 1? I understand a lot of people take issue with throwing out their junk food. It’s crazy the emotions (and opinions) junk food brings out in us! But if you’re going to make a difference in your health and be better off in time for the holidays (where there will be junk food aplenty!), I really do hope you can say after this weekend that most of the junk food no longer has a place in your house and you won’t be buying any more.  So now what? Today I bring you Day 2 of 30 Days of Fitness! But first, if you’re just jumping on this train here’s the deal:

***

Starting Saturday, November 1st I’m going to be either blogging or Facebook’ing (is that officially a verb yet?) once a day to highlight ONE thing you can do each day in the name of your health. What for? My goal is to keep you – you who are interested and open to it – as healthy and sane as possible before December hits. Maybe it’s a fitness tip, a workout, or a way to be more mindful of what you’re consuming. Maybe it’s just a reminder to take 5 minutes to appreciate your body for what it does for you. I’ve got lots of stuff in this noggin’ and it’ll be good.

I think it’s appropriate to start on November 1st for these reasons:

  1. It’s the day after Halloween. I don’t know about you but my kids have already acquired bags of candy and Halloween isn’t for two more days. I’d love to tell you I have super-human willpower and am not interested in sweets but if they’re in my house someone’s going to eat them and it won’t just be my kids. I’ll be getting rid of most of it on November 1st. And before you might “mean mom” me, please know I do allow my children plenty of sweets. It’s not my fault my 3-year-old loves dark chocolate. Okay, maybe it is a little bit.
  2. November has 30 days in it, what a crazy coincidence!
  3. November brings with it my absolute most-favorite holiday of the year. People eat on that day – a lot. We’re going to do some damage control all month.
  4. I’ve found it nearly pointless to do any kind of fitness challenge in the month of December. People are way too busy. My goal with doing this in November is to hopefully instill some basic good habits in all of us that will stick throughout the holidays, chaos and all.

Here’s how it’s going down:

  1. Look for either a blog post or Facebook post the night before. So this Saturday’s post will be up on Friday night. This way you won’t be waiting on me all day for something you could have done already. If you don’t already ‘Like’ my Facebook page, you can do so here so you get each day’s updates or find the Like button in the left-hand sidebar.
  2. Share with others, please! This keeps you accountable and reminds others who might be interested in their health to do the same. Sharing is caring and around here we care a LOT about not feeling like crap.
  3. Be open. This isn’t some crazy workout challenge. I do those too, but 30 Days of Fitness is meant to encourage you and keep you mindful. So some days it may be little things, other days I may ask more of you. Do what you can and always keep your health in the forefront of your brain every day, because no one else will.
  4. Comment whenever you have questions, concerns, disagree with my approach or love something. If you want more info on a topic, I am happy to dive in for you. I’m kind of a nerd like that.
  5. Subscribe and win. <— See that little sign-up box to the left? That’s a neat tool that, if you enter your email address, will automatically deliver my new blog posts to your inbox for you. All those who subscribe for email updates between OCTOBER 30th  and NOVEMBER 30th will be entered in a drawing to win this REALLY terrific cookbook from Lisa Leake over at the 100 Days of Real Food blog: “100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love.” Um, what’s not to love about winning that book at the most appropriate time of year? Check it out here!

***

Day 2 – Meal Plan To Your Ability

Plan Ahead
Photo Credit: Motiveweight.blogspot.com

If you don’t already meal plan I don’t expect you to spend a large chunk of your day doing it for the first time. Once you get meal planning down, it really doesn’t take much time at all and becomes quite intuitive. But if you’re new to meal planning, all I’m asking for on Day 2 is that you assess which foods you already have in your kitchen and build some meals around those for the week. If you can make it to the grocery store to pick up extras, that’s even better. If you’ve done meal planning before but got off the wagon, Day 2 is the time to start it up again. Dig through some of those recipes you clipped that you’ve been wanting to try. Hit up the grocery store or farmer’s market and stock up for the week. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when just starting out meal planning:

  • Go slow. Even if all you mentally have the energy to do is plan for the next two nights, that’s a great start. The point is to get you thinking ahead so that you aren’t grabbing last-minute options come dinner time when everyone is starving and out of time.
  • Be sure to consider your schedule. This may sound like a no-brainer but I think we all try to do too much. After two kids I’ve finally stopped trying to plan elaborate meals. If I know it’s going to be a busy day, followed by a crazy evening mixed with getting the kids in the bath and into bed on time, I’ll opt for the simplest recipe I can find (casseroles, slow cooker dinners, etc.). I save the meals that require more attention for the weekend or when hell freezes over.
  • Look to the experts. We tend to have very basic dinners at my house – a protein, a vegetable and either a grain or healthy alternative to it (quinoa, wild rice, etc.). However, sometimes I get bored and want to try something new without it getting too complicated. These are some of my favorite sources for those recipes:
  • Find a system that works for you. The biggest challenge I see with my clients is when they are cooking for just themselves or only two people. I get it, that’s a lot of meal prep and work. Think about making meals ahead of time and eating on them all week long. You could make 3 things and divide them up into containers for lunches and dinners, then simply pull them out of the refrigerator or freezer when needed. Make muffins or oatmeal in the slow cooker for two week’s worth of breakfasts, buy pre-cut veggies (or cut them yourself) for snacks. Think simple and experiment with what fits in your lifestyle and your kitchen.

Remember, this 30 Days of Fitness challenge is all about small changes, so don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with this one. Start with two days of planned meals and go from there.

See you tomorrow!