Finding a Workout Partner Through FaceBook

As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor working out is an essential part of my life. But I realize that isn’t true for everyone.
Which is why I have asked some of my friends to share their stories about how working out has impacted their lives.

This story is near and dear to my heart. Jason is a great friend of mine and to see the positive changes that have resulted from him exercising is undoubtedly inspirational and proof that finding a workout partner or group can be the motivation you need.

Here’s Jason’s story…

Let me start at the beginning…my Mom died. That’s what woke me up. December 21, 2013 she left this place for another. She was 70. My mom struggled with her weight my entire life. She had high blood pressure and suffered her first stroke when she was 45. The day she passed I was 44, and 281 pounds. I knew I didn’t want the same path my mom walked so I had to change.

I challenged myself to lose weight. Shortly after, my dear friend Jenn, challenged me to join her team in a mud run. Challenge accepted, now to get busy. I stopped eating all of the things that I enjoyed. I worked out like a crazy person and stopped drinking altogether. In five months I lost a little over 20 pounds and I finished the run. I didn’t feel a lot different and I wasn’t losing weight at what I thought was an acceptable rate. I was flabby and unhappy, period.

I found my group on a Facebook post. A friend of a friend mentioned something about a new workout group he was in at a local gym and blah,blah,blah. Next day, I’m passing the gym and decide to check it out. Game changer.

The owner invited me to a free session and I loved it. Ever been in the gym and you think maybe you want to do a little chest workout, or just some cardio….man why am I even here? Me too. That doesn’t happen when you have group work.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, will push you to new levels like thinking you need to stop and looking to your right and seeing someone just like you busting their butt to make it happen. Same exercise, same time. Groups equal motivation and accountability.

If I am going to miss a session I have to write my name on the board and the date I am scheduled to miss. Otherwise, everyone in my group is calling or texting me as soon as the session ends….to make sure I’m o.k., and talk a lot of smack. This works.

When I started in January I set my goal weight at 240. I thought I would be happy there. Today, I’m a very handsome 227. Thank you very much.

I know my weight because we take measurements every two weeks. I don’t check the scale anymore, I don’t care what it says. I feel great. My last physical my Doctor chest bumped me! That’s what matters.

My group is like family. We help each other, we cheer for each other. We make others welcome. Everyone is awkward at first, but we have all been there. I know, without any doubt, I would never have gotten here without them.

Jason’s story is proof that having a partner or a group helps you to keep going when it gets hard.

Do you have a workout story of your own? I’d love to hear it! OR are you in need of finding your workout ‘home’? I’d love to help you do that. Drop me an email and let’s talk about your story or how we can begin your changed life story.

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Tough Days Are Good Reminders

The holidays are a great time to enjoy rich foods, tasty cocktails and late nights with family and friends. I did all of those things and enjoyed every moment of it…until the alarm went off this morning.

Could it be time already to get back to reality? Was I really ready to start my day with a green smoothie?

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually stayed on track with my workouts – I ran in a Turkey Trot and still attended my Boot Camp classes. And I didn’t overindulge ALL day long; I at least tried to keep myself in check for the majority of the day to hold on to the most calories possible for the festivities. 

But today was a great reality check for me.

Lack of Preparation

Even though I knew today was the day to start clean eating I hadn’t taken the time to go to the store to buy the things I needed. So after Boot Camp I was hungry and ready for a green smoothie but only had about half of what I needed so off to the store I went. By the time I got home I had no patience do deal with the washing and the measuring so I opted for turkey on a slice of Ezekiel bread. Was it still a good choice, sure, but not how I wanted to start the day.

Lack of Sleep

During the week I do my best to stick to a pretty normal sleep schedule. I’m definitely not a morning person so anything I can do to get going in the morning is a huge help. Over the past week I had stayed up late, gotten up early some days, slept in late on others and completely ruined my established schedule. The result: this morning was complete struggle. Between trying to encourage 3 kiddos to get their things together for school and trying to motivate myself for the shock of the cold weather and Boot Camp, the 8 hours of sleep I got the night before didn’t seem like nearly enough.

Lack of ‘Good Food’

As I said, I didn’t completely blow my diet but I did indulge in things I don’t normally eat. I can tell while I didn’t lack in the quantity of calories, I definitely lacked in the quality of calories. It’s a little difficult to accurately describe but in short, my mind doesn’t seem as sharp, and my energy level (and motivation) is clearly lacking. 

So was today rough? Yes. Could it have been avoided? Yes. Would I have changed my past week? Yes, well some things.

I think we all need a break from a strict routine but we need to be mindful of how all of those decisions will work against us when we are ready to get back on track.

I’m thankful for the lessons of my tough day and in the future I’ll:

  • Take a little bit of extra time to get my shopping done the day before
  • Enjoy a night or two of staying up a little late but stick to my sleep schedule as much as possible
  • Carefully consider what is worth indulging in rather than having a little bit of everything 

So I would encourage you to not be discouraged by choices of the past holiday but learn from them. I know I have.

As a side note: check out the veggie turkey I made.

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Training For a Higher Cause

Is one of your goals this year to lace up a pair of running shoes and finish a race? If so, I first want to congratulate you on making a goal for yourself.

If you are new to running, or don’t especially care for it, you are going to need to find a way to remain motivated.

Last year I set out to run my first marathon. I knew that there was no way I would complete 26.2 miles unless I had a higher cause to run for. Even though my training season wasn’t ideal, I was still determined to start AND finish my marathon because I had committed to running for Solemates, an organization that benefits the non-profit group Girls on the Run.

There are several programs available to help you reach your goals and raise money for a good cause. I’m going to highlight two, however, do some research in your area and you may find a local cause that inspires you to get running.

Soulmates

This is of course a cause that is near and dear to my heart. Girls on the Run is an experiential afterschool program that prepares girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. Through the 12-week program girls participate in interactive activities such as running, playing games and discussing important issues empowering them to develop a greater sense of self-awareness, a foundation in team building and a sense of achievement.

To be a Solemate you are required to raise $262.

For more information on the program or to become a Solemate check out their website.

Team in Training

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program is designed to help you train for a half or full marathon while raising money for cancer research. The great part about this program is that you are paired with an actual team to train for weekly runs so helps to keep motivation high. You can also choose a destination run.

The amount of money you are required to raise is dependent on the venue you choose to run.

For more information on Team in Training or to sign up check out their website.

As part of my motivation for my half marathon this coming June I am once again running as a Solemate for Girls on the Run. If you are interested in making a donation I encourage you to check out my page.

Now get those shoes on and get running!

Overcoming Setbacks

We are already half-way through February and I suspect that if you set some New Years Resolutions about health and fitness you may have experienced a setback or two.

Setbacks are very common and happen to everyone at some point. What sets those who ultimately succeed apart from those who continue to struggle is what you do with your setback experience.

Do you allow your setbacks to define you or do you look at it as just a bump in the path to better health?

Life happens. Somewhere in your journey you will have unexpected situations that throw your workout routine off and disrupt your plans for healthy eating.

The first thing you need to examine is your schedule. Are you giving yourself enough time to exercise? If not, add an appointment with yourself on your calendar to create time for your workout. With all the demands that others have on you it’s important you take time to take care of yourself.

The next thing you need to do is look in the refrigerator. Do you have plenty of healthy choices that are easy to pull together for meals and snacks? We often find ourselves eating junk because it’s convenient. Take a little bit of time to make the healthy foods easy choices by cleaning your fruits and vegetables before you put them in the refrigerator. Prepare extra lean meats when you have time to cook so you can quickly grab them as a leftover when you’re running low on time.

The most important thing is to identify what is distracting you from your goals and plans. You have an opportunity to take those setbacks and turn them into growth opportunities.

If it’s a problem with…

  • scheduling: change your workout schedule
  • meal prep: cook on the weekends so all you have to do is warm your meals
  • eating out: get online and find the healthiest option before you get there so you’re not as tempted by the bad choices or confused by what to order
  • motivation: find a new activity or something to work towards

The better you are at identifying the reason for your setback, the more equipped you are to avoid that pitfall in the future.

Let’s be honest, victories certainly aren’t as sweet if we haven’t experienced the bitterness of defeat somewhere along the way. Put those setbacks behind you and make a commitment to get back on track TODAY!

 

Get Your ZZZs!

How many hours a night do you sleep? Do you really know?

I have to say prior to a couple weeks I wasn’t fully aware of how little sleep I was actually getting. I started using an app on my iphone that tracks my sleep patterns and it gives me stats on my bed and wake time, how restless my sleep was and my average sleep time over the period of using the app.

I’m happy to say after just over two weeks of use I am finally up to an average of 7 hours of sleep per night, which isn’t quite to the average recommended 7.5 hours/night.

We all know the obvious impact of not getting enough sleep: grogginess, moodiness, depleted immune system. But did you know that lack of sleep may also affect your ability to lose weight?

Let’s take a look at a couple ways that being deprived of sleep can negatively impact your intentions for a healthy lifestyle:

Eating habits: If you are staying up late working or just watching TV you are far more likely to choose an unnecessary late night snack. On the flip side, when you wake up in the morning and you’re exhausted, anything that can provide quick energy seems like a good choice. Unfortunately that might include a fattening gourmet coffee and sugary danish – not the best way to start your day. Bottom line is sleepiness works against our willpower and will often result in reaching for comfort food instead of nutrient rich healthy foods.

Metabolism: Believe it or not, your body’s metabolism actually is more efficient when you get sufficient amounts of sleep. The science behind it has to do with two hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells you when to eat, and with sleep deprivation you have increased levels of it. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop and you have lower levels when sleep deprived. So the equation is simple:

More Ghrelin + Slow Metabolism  + Sleep Deprivation = No Weight Loss or Weight Gain

Motivation: Being tired is a great accelerator for finding reasons to skip a workout. Think about it, your body is already tired, are you really up for putting your everything into a workout that is likely to result in body soreness to top it off? In reality, exercise actually releases chemicals that increase your mood, and energy levels, but I’ll save that for another blog post.

So how do you get more sleep?

  • Set your bedtime and stick to it. Whatever you didn’t get done today will certainly be there tomorrow.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day.
  • Avoid eating near bedtime, especially high-fat heavy foods.
  • Turn off the television and computer at least 30 minutes before bedtime, the bright lights and stimulation can make it difficult to shut down.
  • Avoid exercise too close to bed if it makes it difficult to fall asleep (for some exercise prior to bed does not affect sleep).
  • Try and keep a consistent waking time.
  • Keep your room at a comfortable temperature with adequate bedding. Being too hot or too cold can ruin a good night’s sleep.

I encourage you to create a sleep schedule for yourself and stick to it for a couple weeks. I think you will notice a difference in how you feel and maybe even a change in the numbers on the scale.

Healthy Rewards

Every great accomplishment deserves a reward. I think this is especially true with fitness and weight loss goals.

Let’s be honest, if you’re used to rewarding yourself with pizza and a beer or a hot fudge sundae with extra whip cream you probably need to create a new reward structure.

I like to live in a world where it’s okay to every once in a while have a slice of pizza and a beer or a small ice cream sundae but it shouldn’t be your reward.

Fitness and weight loss rewards need to be fun and support your healthy approach to life. Here are a few ideas on rewards but get creative and find something that matches your motivation so you are fired up to accomplish your goal:

–       New clothes: make a commitment that you aren’t going to by any new clothing until you reach your goal. We all enjoy shopping more when the clothes fit better.

–       New music: grabs some new tunes to push you harder in your workouts or some music that will help you relax after a long day.

–       New kitchen gadgets: with exercise and healthier eating you could certainly use some new things for your kitchen to create tasty drinks and dishes. Treat yourself to a smoothie maker or a vegetable steamer.

–       A spa day: after all your hard work why not reward yourself with the ultimate relaxation at a spa?

–       Money jar: for each day your workout or each pound you lose drop a buck or two in a jar. When you’ve reached your goal grab that cash and go buy something for yourself or treat yourself to an adventure.

Just like your goals, your reward needs to match your motivation. If you don’t care about new clothes or don’t need new music, don’t structure your reward around those things.

Pick something that you really want and work hard to achieve your goal so you can enjoy the reward. I’ve my my sights set on purchasing a bosu trainer…what is your reward going to be?

 

SMART Goals

Once you have identified your “motivation” for health and fitness you can begin to create goals that match that driving force. I want to encourage you to write your goals down rather than to have them in your mind. Writing them down serves as a contract to yourself of what you are committed to accomplishing.

Your goals need to be tied to your motivation. For instance, if your motivation is to fit into a certain size of pants, creating a goal to lose a certain number of pounds doesn’t necessarily match that motivation. How can you really know how many pounds you have to shed to fit into a certain size?

In the same respect, if you desire to get down to a certain body fat percentage your goals should specifically address body fat, not pounds loss or a pair of jeans size 8.

I’ll give you some examples of goals using the S.M.A.R.T. structure for goal writing.

Specific

Measureable

Attainable

Realistic

Time-sensitive

Examples of poorly written goals:

Lose weight

  • Specific – there is no indication how much weight
  • Measurable – yes, you can measure the loss, but there is not a designated goal weight
  • Attainable – sure, you can lose weight, but again no specific goal
  • Realistic – maybe, depending on the amount of weight and time frame
  • Time-sensitive – no time-frame is assigned to this goal

Run a mini-marathon

  • Specific – while there is a specific distance there is no time frame for running the race
  • Measurable – yes, either you run it or you don’t
  • Attainable – possibly depending on when; if you’re not currently a runner to think you can run a mini-marathon in two months probably isn’t attainable
  • Realistic – maybe, depending on the amount of time you plan to train
  • Time-sensitive – there is no time frame for when you will run it or how long you will train

Example of well-written goals:

Lose 15 pounds in 4 months

  • Specific – YES, a quantified amount in a specified amount of time
  • Measureable – YES, your scale and calendar will keep you on track
  • Attainable – YES, a goal of losing 1 pound a week is attainable
  • Realistic – YES, it is realistic to create a 3,500 calorie deficit within a week
  • Time-sensitive – YES, a specific time period is attached to this goal

Ride my recumbent bicycle 25 miles a week for one month

  • Specific – YES, a quantified number of miles for a given time period
  • Measureable – YES, your bicycle and calendar will help you keep track
  • Attainable – YES, if you have been riding your bicycle on a regular basis 100 miles in a month is an attainable goal
  • Realistic – YES, if you have been riding your bicycle it is realistic to be able to ride 5 miles 5 days a week
  • Time-sensitive – YES, a specific time period is attached to this goal

It’s a good idea to have benchmark goals for those goals that are a bit more long-term. Sometimes it can be difficult to think about a big number like 15 pounds so you might want to initially break that into weekly or monthly goals.

Creating short-term goals allows you the chance to celebrate victories more often!

I encourage you today to create at least one long-term and two short-term goals. WRITE THEM DOWN! Then, post them somewhere that you are reminded of them often. If you don’t take the time to write them down or remind yourself of them you will be much more likely to put them off, or worse, forget about them completely.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you some ideas on rewards you can give yourself for accomplishing your goals.