During this time most of us are stuck in our houses and not having a normal routine of meetings and picking up kids from school. Also, a lot of folks are eating way too much. The number one piece of feedback I am getting from most of my clients during this quarantine is that working from home has been detrimental to their waistline. Some have commented how the fridge calls to them each time they walk by. Or, that there is so much more junk food in the house with their kids home that it's hard to resist.
Without a regular schedule it can be easy to overeat. Below are some strategies to start implementing today to help keep you on track and not to over eat!
Plan out your food.
Recently I have gotten in the habit of planning out my food for the following day. Jason has been recording his food daily in MyFitnessPal and it has motivated me to do the same. After my surgery in the beginning of May I realized that all I wanted was sugar. A lot of sugar. Since I can’t really workout for several weeks after the surgery I knew I had to really dial in what I was eating.
After dinner every night I log into MyFitnessPal and set up what I plan to eat the following day.
Then I see what food I need to prep for the following day. We like to make extra servings of dinner so that we can eat them for lunch the next day. So lunches tend not to be a problem for me.
The trouble I find myself getting into is the snacks. To make sure I don’t dive into the sugar, I have my snacks prepped ahead of time. This week I made hummus and cut up carrots and celery for my morning snack and washed blueberries and had string cheese on hand from my afternoon snack. This makes it mindless and less likely for me to eat out of control.
Where are you struggling during the day and how can you plan to make it healthier?
Build a schedule.
After I have my food planned out I plan out my schedule of when to eat the following day. I try to plan around when I see clients and when I have enough time to eat. This way I don’t just mindlessly eat through the day. What tasks or projects could you build a schedule around? Yardwork? Garage organization?
Also, having this plan does not make me want to eat anything as I walk by the fridge or the pantry. I know when I can eat, I know the food is ready and that I don’t need to dive into the sugar.
Experiment with new foods.
My favorite escape from the news right now is to watch cooking shows. I love it because there is nothing sad or political in the entire half hour! Word of caution. Pick shows that feature healthy cooking options.
When watching these shows, which usually feature foods in season, I learn how to prepare foods differently. Or to pair things that I normally wouldn't put together.
The key to weight loss is to learn to cook. It does not need to be complicated but to have a couple of things that you can make easily and well are really helpful if you are trying to trim a couple of pounds.
With the extra time we all have right now this is a perfect time to put a couple of new recipes into your line up.
Is there a new food you have wanted to try? A recipe you have been meaning to make?
Put down the sugar, wine or other food you are self medicating with and find another way to relax.
I know I have probably mentioned this one a couple of times lately but I think it bears repeating. We are all stressed right now. Our normal routines and lives have completely changed. However, take this time to find healthy ways to unwind and destress.
Instead of reaching for the wine glass pick up a good book and sit out on your deck.
Instead of grabbing an extra cookie try a yoga class online.
Find something that boosts your immune system rather than depressing it the way simple sugars do.
This is different for everyone. Experiment and see what works for you.
Give yourself grace. Not everyday is going to be perfect.
This is the most important thing to remember even if you are not stuck at home and battling the urge to overeat. Be kind to yourself. Do not expect perfection but instead make small goals that you can achieve each day.
For Jason it has been to log his food everyday. Is he eating perfectly every day?
No but it gives him feedback on how he is doing. It gives him a sense of a goal he is working toward to help with his health.
So whatever you decide to focus on with your food each day make it a manageable goal that you can track easily. Pick one thing to do today that will help in the weeks to come. If it's planning out your food. Great! Or making a plan every day. Even better.
Pick something that feels manageable, doable and start today.
One of my favorite memories growing up was picking wild fresh asparagus when visiting my aunt and uncle in Nebraska. Picking this strange vegetable fresh and then cooking it up solidified my love of asparagus.
It was because of this fond childhood memory that a couple of years ago I tried growing it to no success. For the past two years I have nurtured and watered and tried to keep my little asparagus plants alive. Unfortunately this spring the plant was just dead.
So, I headed to Trader Joes to pick my asparagus instead of enjoying it fresh from the garden. Since I am constantly trying to get more vegetables into my daily diet as well as preaching to all my clients to eat more veggies I thought I would be a good time to help all of you construct your own Spring Salad.
The base of this salad is a roasted combination of asparagus, shallots, and garlic. This alone can be eaten as a side with protein. However if you really want to elevate your vegetables for a meal you can make an entire salad. Here’s how:
1. Roast the asparagus, garlic, & shallots
First, prepare the asparagus. Asparagus has a woody end to it which needs to be removed before eating. When I prepare the spears I usually grab the end and middle of one and see where it naturally breaks. From there I use that spear as a guide on where to cut the rest of the spears. Then I cut those in half.
After the asparagus is cut and ready, then prepare the garlic cloves and shallots. For the recipes I usually smash and chop the garlic. With the shallots I make thin slices.
Place the asparagus, garlic, and shallots on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil about 1 -2 tablespoons and add salt and pepper. Toss and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes. The cooking time really depends on how thick the asparagus is. For thicker cook longer.
While the asparagus is cooking make the rest of the salad.
2. Clean the lettuce and toss with some olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
I start with a base of whatever lettuce I have in the fridge. Today I had butter lettuce so I used that as a base but really any fresh lettuce will do. With this salad I add a very simple dressing. It consists of tossing the lettuce only with about ½ teaspoon of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Then I add a little salt and pepper and toss the lettuce leaves.
If you want to add your own light vinaigrette then go ahead, but I find the roasted veggies and the light dressing add enough flavor.
3. Cut up the rest of the veggies. I looked to see what other veggies I already had on hand to add in and today it was carrots and cucumbers. Other great veggies to add in right now are peas, radishes, avocado, or tomatoes.
4. Make it a meal.
Salad is great just like this but I wanted to make it a complete meal so I
added some sirloin tips (this is the recipe I used) and about a tablespoon of feta. You can add any protein (chicken, garbanzo beans, etc) or nuts. I like to add pine nuts or pecans but really any will do.
Sprinkling cheese over top just helps to add a little more flavor. I used feta but parmesan is also a good one.
Use these instructions for making a single serving, for multiple salads you would need to adjust olive oil and vinegar to dress your greens.
I like to make all the ingredients, store separately and then mix the salad together to make the meal.
So, now its time to construct your own Spring salad! Click the link below for the full recipe.
Before all this corona virus stuff, I had been getting into training up for Bloomsday. I started increasing my mileage and also knew that I wanted to drop a few pounds to make running even easier. I decided I would try a little experiment with respect to effectiveness over a period of 4 weeks. For the first two, I would simply try to eat less while tracking the increase in my workouts and mileage. Then, for the last two, I would track my food intake in addition to tracking my exercise. Here is what I found.
Week 1: Exercise this week was pretty good. I had three run sessions of about 11.8 miles total and two strength workouts as well. Most recommendations for exercise say you should try to make 150 minutes per week. This is good for health outcomes in general, however, for weight loss or muscle building this usually needs to be higher. For this week I hit 223 minutes of intense movement. That's a good number and just means that I dedicated some quality time to exercise. One nice metric that my Garmin will tell me, is how many calories I burned in a day, specific exercise + general activity (walking around the grocery store etc.). You can also see an average for a given week, in this case it calculated that my avg daily activity calories burned was 612.
Food was harder than I anticipated in that avoiding needless snacking was tough. I decided to drink more water instead. WT LOST: negligible, less than 1 pound.
Week 2: Good workouts this week, similar mileage of 11.8 miles for my runs and did another home workout now that the gym is closed, and also threw in some driveway basketball. Intensity minutes for this week was up to 350 minutes, more than double the recommended. Average daily activity was similar at 608 calories/day of activity.
Food was got a little easier, I decided that I would avoid in between meal snacks all together and eat until I was full at meals. WT LOST: again, negligible .5 lb difference over both weeks.
Week 3: Upped my mileage and totaled 16.8 miles for runs. I did some more garage workouts and also a little hoops. Intensity minutes increased for the third straight week to 424 vs the recommended 150. However, I must have sat more in between as my avg daily burn was again similar at 602cal/day.
Started the food tracking via MyFitnessPal app on my phone. Seeing the numbers go in I found that two things happened. First, at meals I stopped eating to fullness and instead at satiety. This generally meant no second helpings. Secondly, I found I was 'saving' calories for later or would try to 'earn' calories for a treat or snack. Tracking is rough at first, navigating for your serving or brand, but gets easier. I did not measure anything except oatmeal, and rice. Everything else was 'eyeballed' in terms of amount. WT LOST: 1.4 lbs hmmm, interesting.
Week 4: Workouts down a little with the weird weather. Only 7.1 miles but 3 strength workouts and another basketball session. Total minutes was 261 this week. Also down was the avg calories burned at only 433 per day.
Tracking became easier, especially with respect to foods or drinks like coffee or eggs that I have regularly. Also, leftover dinners are quick to enter as well, making the tracking simpler. Still not measuring things specifically, just doing the eyeball method. The 'banking' of calories is motivating me for sure. I don't really miss the in between snacks, but my preferred late night munching is kind of a treat that I work towards. It's satisfying to have earned a bowl of chips or whatever knowing I'm still in the negative for the day. WT LOST: Despite being down on total minutes worked vs previous weeks my food logging was on target. -1.2 lbs
Looking back on my numbers, while there was some variance in day to day expenditure, the two, 2 week blocks had similar average daily burns and also mileages and workout numbers. At least as much so that I'm not convinced that I was working out SO much harder in the 2nd block as in the first. No, it's pretty clear to me that what made real difference was in the conscious identifying of what I was eating. Not the content per se, I had bread, cheese, sugar in my coffee, a hot dog, even waffles and syrup one day. But the intake as a whole. Awareness of how much I was eating led me to want to up my activity on a slow day.
Understanding, and even trying to eat less just wasn't productive or sustainable. My progress was minimal and that could be a confidence killer for a lot of people. It wasn't until I knew what I was eating that real change began to occur. So, get out a pen and a notebook, download a new app(even if you later decide on a different one), use your phone to take a picture of what you ate if you have trouble remembering, but track that food.
As most of you know my favorite piece of equipment in our gym is a Swiss Ball. It is so versatile and can add many levels of intensity to a workout.
If you just have a ball at home can still get a great workout. Below is a video on just a couple of ideas on how you can incorporate the ball into your home workout.
Details on the exercises below the video. Enjoy!
Today's blog is a video to help with this time of self isolation. I give you five tips that anyone one of us can do in the comfort of our own home. So check out the video below to see what 5 things you can do for your mental and physical health during these strange times.
Here is an overview of what I cover:
1. Hydration & Healthy Nutrition
2. Get Outside
4. Make a Schedule
Watch below for more detail and leave us a comment on what you all are doing for your health during this time of isolation!
In this installment of the 'Hunker Games' I'm showing a full workout with only 1 weight. In this video I'm using a Kettlebell, but you don't have to. It's only to show that you don't need a whole suite of equipment to kick your own butt. Enjoy!
As always, keep coming back as we all try to get through this craziness together, but apart. Thanks for watching!
music: "Elevate" Bendsounds.com
Hopefully you all got to try out yesterday's workout. If not check it out! In today's workout you'll need some weights and a Swiss ball. Please let us know what you think of the workouts and feel free to share with your friends!
Warm-up - Take a shoulder width stance and perform 10 air squats followed by 10 arm circles in both directions. Repeat for a total time of at least 2 to 4 minutes. This will get your core temp up and loosen up all your major joints.
Single arm Dumbbell Squat to Press - using a light to mod weight (in this demo I have 10lb) take that same shoulder width stance and place the dumbbell such your fingers face inward. Drop into your squat maintaining good core activation, neutral spine, and knee/toe tracking. As you stand up be sure to lock out at the top and then perform the press over head turning your palm facing outward. Retract to start. 3 sets of 10 presses on each arm(lotsasquats)
Reverse Dumbbell Alternating Lunges - Take a healthy step backward maintaining an upright posture, drop down into lunge stance maintaining good alignment in the lower forward leg. Push down hard with the forward leg and return to standing. Repeat with the other side.
3 sets of 8-10 per leg
Swiss Ball Hand Walkouts - Start kneeling with the ball at your chest. Slowly, rock forward until both your hands and feet touch the floor. Begin pulling yourself forward over the ball with your hands. Keep strong activation in your core, don’t droop in the middle, and walk backward until your toes touch. No launching! 3 sets of 10
Dumbbell Chest Flys on Swiss Ball - From a seated position with the dumbbells in hand. Slowly walk your feet outward until your head and shoulders are on the ball. Your hips should be off and your glutes squeezing so that you are in a ‘tabletop’ like position. Press the weights over your chest, palms facing. Slowly lower the weights with a slight elbow bend until your arms reach all the way outward. Can also be performed one arm at a time for extra glute/core work. 3 sets of 10
Reverse Dumbbell Fly on Swiss Ball - Place the weights on the floor in front of the ball. Anchor your feet flat on a wall behind you and push your body up over the ball. From this elevated position grab hold of the weights and raise your arms out, squeezing your shoulder blades together. 3 sets of 10
Upper Body Russian Twist - Holding onto on dumbbell walk your feet out as you did for the chest flys. Hold on to the ends of the weight and press over your chest. Keep a strong contraction in your glutes and rotate your upper body to the left and right sides alternating.
3 sets of 10 each direction.
Hello All! As you no doubt are aware we are unfortunately closed for the time being. As such, we wanted to make sure that you all have a resource to turn to for maintaining your exercise plans.
Moving forward during this period we will be posting regular updates to this site with actionable material for you to take advantage of. Be sure to check back daily over the next several weeks for these updates and new programs.
Box Squats - A chair or bench is ok, as is just air squatting. Don't overthink it, just sit down and try not to lean back and rock forward as you stand back up.
Pushups - Shown are some modifications to make it easier to get larger numbers. If you can do multiple sets of 10 full ones, do that.
Lateral Lunges - Take a healthy step out and stick your butt back as you sit down through your heels. Keep your lower leg aligned with your feet/toes and push off hard to return to center.
Floor Bridges - Two footed with a pause helps get a strong contraction. But if you're pushing 20 and it's getting easy, switch to a single leg version.
Side Planks - Start out by holding for 10-15 seconds for a few reps. Build up those hold times to 45 seconds or a minute. Try to shoot for a total hold time of 3 minutes.
Keep moving out there! We'll be back tomorrow with another routine. Feel free to reach out (virtually of course) with questions or leave a comment below!
I get asked about HIIT training A LOT. ( Also known as High Intensity Interval Training.)
There seems to be a new study that shows up every month or so talking about how it can save you time plus keep you fit. Over the past two decades this type of training modality has become all the rage. It has been the subject of many studies ranging from reducing obesity to helping to stabilize blood sugars.
HIIT training is basically physical activity that has brief intermittent burst of very intense activity, followed by a period of rest or lower intensity exercise. HIIT can be performed using weights or as a cardiovascular workout.
An example of a strength training workout using HIIT Training may look like this:
Repeat all above for 1 minute at max effort and then rest for 1 minute.
Cardiovascular HIIT programs are what most of the health studies have focused on. They are short and intense. The goal is to get your heart rate into a 80-90% of max heart rate (MHR) during a given time. For example:
Ride a bike at 80-90% of MHR for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times
OR a little less scientific…
Run up a hill at max effort, walk back down the hill. Repeat 10 times
There is nothing fancy or exactly inventive about HIIT training. It can literally be done anywhere. Your living room to your local park. The draw to it is the time saving factor. Since many of us are always running from one meeting to the next or rushing to pick up kids from school. This type of training can absolutely help to keep you in shape with as little as 10 minutes three times a week!
The draw of HIIT training and what many proponents of its say is that you can get the same health benefits as walking for 30 minutes keeping your heart at a lower steady state. For just a little amount of intense exercise and I mean very intense you can reach the same health benefits of a longer slower steady state type of exercise.
Many studies over the past 20 years have focused on the benefits of HIIT training.
One study in particular focused on HIIT training versus moderate intensity continuous training (MICT) altering body composition in post menopausal women (1). In this study each participant was divided into three groups. They had to perform their given activity 3 times a week for 12 weeks.
All of the women in this study lost weight plus fat mass over the 12 week time period. Not surprisingly the group that included resistance training increase their muscle mass.
The surprising part to me was the HIIT and HIIT + resistance training lost “signficant” abdominal/visceral fat. Not the MICT group. Similar findings were found in another study with young women. With three times a week of HIIT training they lost significant total body fat in addition to reduction in leg and abdominal fat. This study also found a decrease in insulin resistance. (2)
While these studies focused on women there are still plenty out there for both sexes.
Overall studies have shown HIIT can help with body fat reduction, insulin sensivity, Type 2 diabetes, and blood pressure.(3) In addition the conclusions on most studies support the fact that HIIT is just as beneficial as moderate intensity longer cardio sessions.
So yes HIIT training is worth all the hype. However as with all exercise and nutrition recommendations there a couple of asterisks.
The studies that have been performed so far are typically done in a very supervised setting and focus on the effects with obese individuals.
In a separate, Australian study they looked at HIIT in the real world. They wanted to see how individuals performed HIIT without being supervised. So they took 250 overweight people and let them choose between HIIT training and moderate intensity training. They were given a one time tutorial then told to do their chosen exercise three times a week for 12 months.
The results? No difference in health outcomes when comparing HIIT versus moderate training. No surprise there, however, “regular participation in unsupervised HIIT declined rapidly, those apparently adherent to regular HIIT demonstrated beneficial weight loss and visceral fat.” (4.)
The take away? Without someone keeping you accountable to doing your HIIT workout you probably won’t do it. In fact 60% of the HIIT group dropped out by the end of the year.
Besides HIIT being difficult there are other reasons it might not be good for a given person.
First, if you have an injury, high intensity movements may be contra-indicated. If you have a bulging disc or arthritic knees, for example, doing an all out effort may cause more damage than help. This may lead to you dropping out of exercise all together.
Second, your current stress level and sleep patterns. If you are highly stressed adding a stressful type workout on top of your current stress may lead you into getting sick or injured.
I also would not recommend it for those you who have problems sleeping. A lot of repair of the bodies systems occur during sleep and if you are only getting a couple of hours of sleep a night than you are not repairing and will do further damage.
So, my take away on HIIT? It's great for those that can commit consistently to it 3 times a week that are not currently injuried or incredibly stressed. If you are in this category, I would recommend going outside for a steady walk for 20 to 30 minutes instead.
In terms of cardiovascular training and, really exercise in general, ask yourself, "What type of physical activity do I enjoy doing? AND What will I do consistently?"
People who can answer these two questions are more likely to find paths to staying healthy and strong for the long term.
Find an activity that you love to do. Is it long hikes on the weekends with your spouse or biking to work? Or maybe it’s tennis or pickle ball (a new favorite for some of my clients.) Or maybe it’s HIIT training on your bike. Not knowing is ok too, just go try some things and see which ones you like, even those that you scratch off the list counted as exercise in the moment.
The point, is studies can show a particular exercise is beneficial but only IF you do it consistently. So, yes HIIT is a great way to get fit and healthy but make sure it is the best way for YOU to become fit and healthy!
Accountability. Something most of us need when trying to reach a new goal or create a new habit. Since we are a couple of weeks into the New Year its a good time to see if what you are doing so far to reach your goals for 2020 is working.
One thing that can be extremely helpful is creating accountablity. There are several ways to do this.
First, an Accountability Buddy. This could be a spouse, friend, child or parent. Anyone that will support and encourage you to keep going.
For example, one of my clients made a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day for 60 days. She set it up so that if she didn’t did reach her goal every day her daughter would get $100. Her daughter could check to see if her mom was reaching her steps for her day and give her encouragement when she was lagging behind.
Another client of mine gets up at 5 am and walks 3 miles a day with her neighbor every day. They are each other’s accountability partner!
I have several clients that meet their friends at Weight Watchers every week. They do this to encourage each other and help each other to stay on track.
Having someone that you are accountable to can be hugely helpful in keeping the goal in sight and remind you to keep going even in the tough spots.
For me, an accountability buddy does not work. I love to make lists, and use stickers and checkmarks. So, I use a bullet journal or an accountability chart. For me, this makes accountability fun.
Each Sunday I sit down and right out my yearly goals. Then my weekly break down of those goals. This can change weekly depending on what progress or regression I’ve made. These little mini weekly goals help me to realize what is working and what I need to change.
After setting those intentions for the week I then create a chart. It looks like this.
I know super fancy! Since my week varies I then sit down and look over the coming week. In my calendar I outline at what time I’ll do a specific workout.
Now this is key and a suggestion I often make to my clients - These are appointments in my mind. They are not changeable. They are not negotiable. If someone calls me to meet up for tea at my workout time the answer is no. If, in that slot, my husband wants to talk about the Zags game from the night before he has to do it while I’m lifting some weights.
Make it an absoulute priority for that time and day.
I find the bullet journal to be helpful in several ways. One, I can look at the week and see how I did. Two, if I get sidetracked or sick then I have a reference to get me back on track. Three, it helps me to refine the weekly goals. Sometimes a type of workout is just not working or the reality is I don’t have time for 5 days of cardio. This chart helps me to take a step back and look at what is working and what is not.
It's important to realize adjusting your goals does not mean failure. It just means a different path might be needed.
While this simple little chart works for me it may not be what works for you. There are so many ways to track your workout goals for 2020.
It could just be a gold star on your calendar when you did your walk for the day or a big fancy chart that you color in. There are a lot of options.
If you want to look at some other examples go to Pinterest and search either accountability chart or habit tracker. Both will give you a ton of options. It might take a while to find what really works for you.
If you have something that works for you feel free to share below! Would love to hear how you stay accountable.
Look for our blog next month when we exploring the WHY of goal setting.