Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Getting out of your normal routine

Have you ever done something and it's just out of your normal routine? It catches you by surprise. It makes you think. Sometimes it messes you up. Sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes, you think "Why haven't I done that before?".

We, as Americans, are creatures of habits. We typically wake up at the same times, eat the same meals, hang out with the same people, do the same things, go to bed in the same bed. Comfort, familiarity. Nothing wrong with that, right?

But what if you got out of your normal routine? 

Would that be bad? 

I had that happen several times in the past week. Some little things. Some bigger things. I was at the sink one day taking grapes off the vine to rinse. Habit, just taking them off gently one at a time and putting them in the colander, thinking while I do it. In a bowl next to the grapes bag was cherry tomatoes from a sweet friend's garden. [in case you are wondering, home-grown tomatoes are the best gift you can give me] Well, I was thinking about those ripe cherry tomatoes and popped one in my mouth. I did this without thinking and while my hands were on the grapes. My mind expected a grape, but as it popped in my mouth, it was a juicy tomato. I loved it. I had another. And then I stood there thinking - I was expecting to taste a grape and was pleasantly surprised when it was a tomato. Just a little out of the normal.

When it comes to my training, I am pretty strict. I have a weekly schedule and I have workouts written down according to my work schedule. I rarely miss a workout. But this week, I did. I am putting in some mileage on my swim workouts in addition to adding two bike rides a week. By mid-week, I was tired and facing another hard swim workout. My body was just exhausted. I was already to go for my lunch-time swim, when my teenage son came to me. He was bored. And I was leaving for another workout. Something in his eyes and I put my workout bag down and went out swimming with him. I spent the next hour playing frisbee - and it's competitive frisbee with a 13-year old boy - and then having lap races with him. I was scheduled for 48 laps that day - 3/4 mile - but I spent the time moving the whole time and we raced about 20 laps that day. But when it was over, I wasn't exhausted anymore. I was refreshed. And my son was happy so it was worth missing my scheduled workout. Just a little out of the normal.

My friend Irene, or as I call her, "bully" starts bugging me, I mean texting me, on Thursday about Saturday's weekly bike ride. She is a maniac. In a good way. We talked about how hot it was, how we wish we could get started earlier on the group ride. It typically starts at 8:30 am, but it is run by guys, so we usually leave at 8:45 am [sorry, guys, but if girls ran it, we'd start at 8:30 am sharp]. By the time we finish 2 hours later, it is hot and humid. So, as bully can only do, she devised a different plan. We'd meet earlier and her husband, "animal" [I love pet names] would scout out a ride for us. Maybe a little more than the normal 30+ that we do. No problem I said. Until it was 40+. That 40+ number threw me a little. Now bully has already talked me into several rides that I didn't think I could do, but I did them, so I put my trust in her. I got up early on Saturday and did the ride. It was more than 40, 49 to be exact. But it was an awesome ride, took me farther than I thought I could go, beautiful scenery, different experiences. Just a little out of the normal.

What could do this week to get just a little out of the normal? 

Would it be worth it?

YES! Yes, it would be. Don't be afraid of change. Eat some cherry tomatoes, play with your son, take a bike ride you don't think you can. Do something different. It's good to get out of your normal routine. It truly is.

So will you?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Coffee, Tea or Me?

When you are trying to lose weight or improve your health, sometimes you have to make decisions about the things that you are putting into your body. This is a question I get quite often and is something that I discuss with my clients when helping them with a nutrition plan. So which is better?

  • Coffee? 
  • Tea? 
  • Or me? [fitness trainer]

Ooohh, pick me, pick me. Just kidding. I'll save that for later.


Coffee has been around a long time, since the thirteenth century. Coffee beans were first roasted and brewed in Arabia and have a long history as being a strong beverage. Strong usually meaning has caffeine.

I love the smell of coffee, I always have. But I have to admit, I have NEVER had a cup of coffee. I know, crazy! But seriously, I've never had a cup of the stuff. I grew up with it in the house, my dad had it every day. I love the smell of brewing coffee, I just can't drink it. It's too strong for me. But I've been around coffee drinkers, two of my sisters swear by it and have had it for years.

Coffee, when made from beans, and WITHOUT anything added, this being a key point, is a healthy drink. It does have caffeine, which does have a different affect on each person. When I come across coffee on a food log of a client, there are a couple of things I look for - is there anything added to it and how often is it consumed? Very important because the biggest downfall is what is ADDED to coffee to make it unhealthy - sugar, sugar substitutes, cream, etc. As well as quantity consumed. If you need more than 2 cups a day, it could be a problem. If you need a cup to get you going in the morning, it could be a problem. A small mocha frappe is 450 calories and contains 56 grams of sugar. [32 grams recommended per day]


Tea has been around even longer than coffee. Fresh tea made from leaves is healthy for you. In fact, almost all teas contain high levels of antioxidants which are good for your body. Tea is sometimes an alternative to coffee or an alternative to water, which some people get tired of drinking. There are so many varieties of tea as well - green, black, white, etc. I have learned a lot more about tea from my friend Jessica, who owns Aristeacrats in Lawrenceville, and am happy to say I can now brew my own tea at home.

Do I drink tea? Yes. Almost every day. I prefer the "softer" taste than coffee. I prefer not having the caffeine. But again, like coffee, when I see it on a client's food log, again, I have to ask - is there anything added to it and how often is it consumed. We have this thing in the South called "Sweet Tea". Yeah, sweet tea. You've had that once or twice, right? A typical glass of sweet tea is 230 calories and contains 59 grams of sugar. That's right, 59 grams. [32 grams recommended per day].

So, at this point, which is healthier for you? Coffee or tea? But wait, what about me, your fitness trainer? Where do I fit into the equation? See, I told you, pick me...

                                   Coffee                   Tea                     Fitness 

Contains caffeine            Yes                     Maybe                  No
Increases metabolism      Yes*                    Yes*                    Yes*
Burns fat                        Yes*                    Yes*                    Yes*

* No sugar or sweetener added

Coffee and tea can be healthy beverages for you - AS LONG as you limit consumption - AND you don't add unnecessary sweeteners. Sugar and sugar alternatives are harmful to your body in excess and can hugely affect your body's ability to increase your metabolism and burn fat. As your fitness trainer, I'll work to find the right combination of strength training, cardio and nutrition plan to increase your metabolism and burn fat. And it will probably cost you less than your current beverage costs.

So, what's it gonna be today? Coffee, tea or me?

Monday, July 12, 2010

You can't microwave your fitness!

In any home now, a microwave is standard. It's part of the necessary appliances. If you send your child to college, you give him/her a microwave for their room, if there's not one in there already. In some cases, it replaces the stove or oven. It's quick. It's easy. It's modern technology, let's make it simple and fast, it's a miracle!

I realize this as my 13-year old son is talking to me while using the microwave, not aware of what he is doing because it is second-nature, fixing his food snack while talking to me. He doesn't even notice the steps he is taking to prepare it, he just does it because he's done it so many times before. It's quick. It's easy. It's a modern technology miracle!

The first microwave was developed in 1946 and cost between $2,000-$3,000. In 1952, the first home model was introduced at a cost of $1,295.00. By 1975, sales of microwave ovens exceeded that of gas ranges, even though there were myths and fears about the safety of them. From 1952 to 1975, marketing and advertising focused on the "convenience" and "necessity" of the microwave oven, making it - yes - a convenience and a necessity. 

And that's the way many of us think about our fitness life. We want it to be quick. We want it to be easy. We want to use the newest modern technology tools to make it simple and fast. We want a miracle!

  • We don't want to wait for results! 
  • We want it to be convenient. 
  • We know it's a necessity.

Why should we wait? 

But there's other things to consider - including:

  • Is the microwave the healthiest way to cook something? 
  • Is the microwave the best way to cook something? 
  • Is the microwave the ONLY way to cook something? 

When you see an advertisement that shouts "Lose 10 lbs. in 2 days. Guaranteed" - do you buy the product? Maybe you do. Maybe you don't. But when you see that advertisement and many others like it over and over and over, you begin to believe that hey, maybe it is true. Maybe it will work. You start listening to marketing and advertising. You start thinking that maybe a pill or shake isn't such a bad option. After all, it's:

  • Quick
  • Easy
  • Modern technology

Except one thing, it may not be.

Now, I'm not saying you should go home and trash your microwave. Don't get me wrong. But in looking at your fitness life or what you want your fitness life to be, sometimes we hold onto set ideas in our head. We are used to getting things fast and easy, like our microwave. But in the world of being healthy and fit, it doesn't happen like that.

There is no modern miracle, no pill that's going to make a difference.

It's going to be YOU. You working to make a difference. You working out your body. You eating good, healthy foods. You saying "no" when you need to. You getting your head into it. You are more than a machine.

And it may not happen quick. 
It may not be easy.

But it will work. I promise you. So will you try it?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Using dates and time frames to lose weight

I am a date person. I realize this as I carry around my 2010 At-A-Glance calendar with me everywhere I go. All my appointments and upcoming dates are written down. I know, I should put it in my fancy phone or I-phone and all that techno stuff. I don't. I carry my book. Dates are very important to me. It keeps me organized. It keeps me balanced. I know each day and week what is coming up. It motivates me. And if I write something down in my book, it's a given. I don't cancel appointments or dates unless I truly have an emergency. So if it's written, I do it, even if I don't feel like it at the time.

Dates keep me focused, esp. when used with goals. I love to use dates and time frames to make those goals. So, can you use them to lose weight? 


When I am writing a plan for a client, I use dates and time frames to help them make their goals - by realistically planning and by putting it in writing. This is usually only helpful if that person is a date person as well, meaning if they write something down, they will follow through on it. On occasion, I'll have a non-date person who cancels appointments routinely and is not motivated by the calendar or time frames. There are other ways to motivate these people, including:
  • Money
  • Contest
  • Fitting into a certain clothing or size
  • Health issues

Fortunately, it is my job to find what will motivate each person.

So, if you are a date person, how can you use dates and time frames to lose weight?

When writing down goals and planning using dates, it's important to look at the big picture first. Is there an important event in the near future - a birthday, an anniversary, a wedding or reunion? Something that will motivate you to want to be in shape for this event. Then, break it down further and look at time frames. For example, if your birthday is in three months and you have a 20-year school reunion in six months - instead of saying you want to lose 50 lbs. by the reunion, break it down and set a goal for your birthday. Then at that time, re-evaluate, take a short break and then set new goals for the reunion. That way, it is not so overwhelming and it seems easier to break it down into smaller time periods so you don't feel like you are just doing a "healthy lifestyle" for a certain event, then you'll go back to being unhealthy.

I like to use 10-12 weeks at a time for a good weight loss program. A good weight loss program meaning - a good strength training program, an effective cardio program and proper nutrition. 10-12 weeks is 2-1/2 or 3 months. Can you do a program for that long? Yes. You can focus and make your goals, as long as they are reasonable, during that time. Then, if you are not at your final goal, you can make another goal.

When you have a certain date in mind, or written down, it helps motivate you. It keeps you on-track. It's temporary. Especially if getting into a good weight loss program is hard for you to stay on. There's an end in sight. The hope is that once you start seeing results and making changes, it will be easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Having a date for weight loss can keep you committed, can keep you organized and balanced. So, what's your date?