Ideas, inspiration and motivation for a FIT LIFE!

Do you talk to yourself?  Does your self talk back?  We usually have a running dialogue with our “inner self”, and sometimes, that “inner”, isn’t very nice.  In fact, he or she can be down right mean!  Self talk can be a great motivator when you are trying to change or achieve something in your life.  ”You can do it”, “You’ll be great”!  If only we talked like that to ourselves all the time, I bet most of us would find success a bit easier to come by.

But it’s the “boy, are you stupid”, or the “you loser” that can derail us.  Especially when it comes from inside.  Our moms told us to “Be nice” when we were kids….good advice to our inner voice.  So here’s some things NOT to say to yourself as you live your own fit life.

  1. I’m so stupid.  No, YOU are not.  What you DID may have been stupid—locking your keys in the car for the third time in one day. (WHO would do that, I wonder…hmmmmm,)  But YOU are not.  You are better than your actions.
  2. I’m too Whatever—fat, thin, old, etc.  Those are words that basically say you don’t think you fit into a “norm”.  Too old to go back to college, BAH!  Too young to start your own business—think Facebook.  You have to believe that you can do or be anything without putting a label on yourself.
  3. It’s too hard.  I let my clients whine when they don’t particularly like an exercise, then I smile, and say “Ok, let’s go!”, and we do it anyway.  So go ahead and whine, but things with great rewards are supposed to be hard.  It’s called reality.
  4. I can’t do it.  I truly can’t swim as fast as Michael Phelps.  Nor can I sing like Mariah Carey.  Those are unrealistic expectations, and setting a goal to do those would be pretty unrealistic as well.  So your goals need to be realistic.  If you don’t feel as though you workout to a level you’d like, hire a trainer.  Find someone to push you.  Make your goals SMART:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
  5. I’ll probably fail.  That’s just your inner voice calling you a coward.  There is risk in everything we do in life, from walking across the street to falling in love.  Failure is a learning tool.  Sure, it’s frightening, and can sometimes hurt a lot.  The hard part is getting back up from failure, but when you do, you are a little bit stronger and smarter.
  6. I have bad luck.  I’m not superstitious.  I believe we create our own GOOD luck by surrounding ourselves with positive people, keeping an open mind, and being willing to take risks.  There’s no “karmic force” conspiring to make our lives more difficult.  Bad luck could just be a small failure—see number 5!
  7. I don’t deserve it (the goal).  If you are working hard towards a goal, making sacrifices, learning, growing and trying…OF COURSE you deserve it!  You deserve a paycheck for working 40 hours a week, don’t you?  Then why wouldn’t you deserve to live fitter, be stronger, make more money, be happier?  You deserve a reward for your hard work.  Choose your reward.  Now get to work!

How to make a Home Gym

I love gym “toys”….BOSU trainers, TRX straps, Smith machines, dumbbells, bands….the more the merrier!  I have a pretty sweet home gym, with one of my favorite pieces being my cable crossover machine.

I’ve been collecting equipment for years, and I have a pretty good space to put it all.  But if you’re thinking of creating your own place to work out at home, you don’t have to get too complicated.  On the flip side, if you have deep pockets, you can create a space you’ll never want to leave!

Cathy's favorite piece of equipment

Dummies.com has a great article on how to .  I highly recommend the read, and make sure you look at thethey recommend for beginners!

Make just ONE change

I always get a kick out of people saying, “I love to eat”.  Well yeah, don’t we all?  It’s one of America’s favorite past times!  But usually I hear that same comment followed by, “…which is why I can’t lose weight”.

Who says you can’t  ”love to eat” healthy foods?  I really enjoy chocolate chip cookie dough…but I also enjoy grilled zucchini, eggplant and onion with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese.  It’s a no-brainer as to which is the better choice.

So let’s talk choices.  Instead of  trying (and probably failing) to eat clean all the time, focus on making just ONE change.

For example:

  • Switch from to fat-free or low-fat milk.  If you don’t like the flavor, try mixing  your regular milk with the lower fat version until you get used to it
  • Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, mayonnaise or cream cheese.  You can use it cold for dips, mix it through salads and pasta  and add it to hot meals.
  • Try a GOOD butter substitute.  My three favorites taste like the real thing, and aren’t filled with partially hydrogenated soybean oil ( a transfat).  Try “Earth Balance Margarine Natural Buttery Spread Lactose Free”, “Olivio Spreadable Butter with Canola & Olive Oil”, or “Smart Balance Omega Plus Buttery Spread”.
  • Try the diet version of your favorite soda.  I know, it’s still artificially sweetened, but if you are hooked on the regular, you’re getting way too many calories!  (We’ll work on eliminating all soda later.)
  • Switch to sugar free jams.
  • Buy low-sodium versions of your favorite deli meats.  Remember, a high-sodium diet can raise your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Making just one change can really be a springboard to success.  Once you’ve been accustomed to your new food choices, you’ll start realizing that you still “love to eat”…and your healthier body will thank you for it!  Do YOU have changes you’ve made lately?  I’d love to hear about it!

Teaching Motivation

I have a soon-to-be-sixteen year old boy that LOVES extreme sports.  Which means I am a soon-to-be-gray-haired mom who worries every time he heads out of the house with his helmet/skateboard/longboard/bike/lacrosse stick…. You get the picture, right?

When this child is excited and motivated about something, there’s pretty much nothing I can do to stop him.  Case in point.  He broke his collarbone a week ago while he was out longboarding with friends.  I’ve included the clip of the accident if you care to watch.  But after the crash, you may want to stop it.  He drops a “bad” word…I wish I knew where he learned it!

He’s going to be ok, but unfortunately for him, he’s sidelined from the lacrosse season, and as a captain, he’s heartbroken.  So my next challenge—how to motivate this teenager to stay motivated…focused…and inspired to still be a part of the team even though he can’t play.

Can you TEACH motivation?  Why is it that some of us are motivated to do the very best in all we do—work, school, the gym—and others can’t motivate themselves to get off the couch?  Children and adults alike have to find that inner “something” that motivates them to try harder, study longer, get up earlier, stay later—to be the best.

There are actually two kinds of motivation.  INTRINSIC motivation comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, such as money or grades.  EXTRINSIC  motivation comes from outside oneself and usually involves rewards which provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide.

Which one will help YOU meet your fitness goals?  I’ll bet a little of both.  You may  motivated to simply feel better in your clothes, and losing 15 pounds is important to YOU and only YOU.  Or that 15-pounds has to go before your best friend’s wedding, so you and your husband wager a “friendly” hundred dollars you can lose the weight.  (Yeah, and is that ever really friendly?)

So while intrinsic motivation is probably the best for “lighting a fire” within yourself, I have a few ideas how to give yourself the nudge you might need to reach your goals.

  • Start slow.  You can’t train for a marathon in one day, so break your training, or your goal into little pieces.  If you think about losing 50-pounds you’ll get discouraged, but I’ll bet a pound-and-a-half a week isn’t too bad!
  • Eat your Frog.  Remember?  It’ll be the worst thing you do all day—so get it done early.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail.  It’s a learning opportunity.  So you overate your “calorie budget” today–isn’t tomorrow the chance to try again?  This time, however, you know you have to track what you are eating.
  • Remember and celebrate your successes.  If you dwell on what IS working, and how you’ve succeeded, you’ll be more motivated to repeat it.
  • Develop a mantra.  I tend to tell my female clients “you are a warrior!” which sounds odd in day-to-day conversations, but when you are lifting weights, it seems to help them work harder.  Make your mantra positive, of course—and repeat it often throughout the day!!
  • Find a friend.  We know they hold us accountable, and they push us.  Plus, they get mad if we don’t do what we say we’re going to do.

As a personal trainer, I work hard to give my clients extrinsic motivation.  I’ll do the same for my son as he heals.  No one said it was going to be easy.

I spent a day at the in Columbus, Ohio, and was excited to see all the new fitness tools and gadgets.  I love having new “tools for my toolbox”, and was intrigued by the LibertyBell offered by .

It looks like a bowl with a clapper inside, and according to Blue Chip, is designed to allow the user to do all traditional  kettlebell and dumbbell exercises, as well as many dynamic exercises, like running and jumping.  All with a greater degree of effort, safety, and control.

I asked Wayne Hickman, the owner of Blue Chip Fitness to demonstrate:

The great thing about working out is that there’s an infinite amount of ways to move our bodies.  Adding another device to meet your fitness goals is in my opinion, a great way to keep your workouts fresh and exciting.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the LibertyBell!

I often feel overwhelmed by all the dieting advice we are bombarded with every day.  Google “diet”–and you get 587,000,000 results.  Google “eating healthy”, and you get 32,500,000 results.  Do we really need that much information about how and what to eat?  Isn’t this something humans have been doing since they were tracking down mastodons?  It’s amazing how complicated we’ve made healthy eating.

Obviously we have more choices, and more complicated lives than our caveman ancestors.  But what to eat has not changed that much.  If it grazes, or grows from the ground, it’s good for you.  If it comes in a box, probably not.  Oh, and if your food rhymes or has a cute name…it’s not a food.  Think “ho ho”, and “ring ding”, “pop tart” and “twinkie”.

I don’t push or endorse any one kind of diet to my clients.  I do see many of them have great success with Weight Watchers, in part because the program truly seems to teach HOW to eat, not just WHAT to eat.  I applaud that.  But in my opinion, the best diet is simply one that makes sense…it’s one that we learn in elementary school when we learn the food pyramid.

Eat lean proteins like fish, chicken and (grass-fed) beef.  Eat your fruits, vegetables and dairy.  Add nuts to your diet.  Look for 100-percent whole grain products.

It sounds simple, but I understand that it’s not.  In our busy lives, it’s difficult to work, raise children and then put together a healthy meal for families on the go.  But too often we replace common sense with convenience.  We grab a box of crackers and a soda for a snack.  We throw together macaroni and cheese and call it a meal.

So as you think about your meals, let me give you some food for thought.  Are you filling your plate with food that had few processing steps to get to your plate?  Broccoli does.  A granola bar and pretzels do not.  If it comes in a box it has some been through some type of processing.  Our bodies don’t need the preservatives, the fat, sodium or calories.  Think farm to fork.  It’s not possible every day.  But small changes can become big healthy habits.

And back to food that rhymes.  I loved Ring Dings as a child.  But at over 330 calories a serving with 34 grams of sugar, I think they’re more fun to say than eat.

My father always says, “There’s two kinds of people in the world….the Irish…and those who wish they were Irish”.  Which means my Dad’s a big fan of corned beef and cabbage, and a nice Irish Whiskey.  If the restaurant I was in on St. Patrick’s Day Saturday was any indication…there’s a LOT of people wanting to be Irish—the Guiness couldn’t be poured fast enough!  St. Pat’s may not be an “official” holiday, but for many, it was a day to overeat and drink.  We all occasionally overindulge on weekends, but it’s really not the reward you need after watching what you eat all week long.  Having a cheat meal now and then is actually a great way to stave off cravings and binge eating, but overindulging every weekend can lead to problematic, compulsive eating behaviors.

If you step on the scale Monday after two days of overeating, you may be shocked to see a three, four or even five pound gain!  But did you REALLY gain that much in just two days?  Probably not.  Remember, one pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories.  To gain five pounds, you would have had to eaten over 17-thousand calories, and even Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps would find that challenging!  Also, keep in mind that your scale weighs everything…. water, undigested food (even if it will all later be burned off), and waste your body hasn’t eliminated yet, as well as bone, fat and muscle.  You likely ingested much more sodium than usual, which retains water.  It’s probably why you feel “fat” and bloated.

It can be really hard to “start over” on Monday with healthy eating.  Mondays are difficult enough, right?  But if you begin with baby steps, you can quickly get back on track.

  • Start by forgiving yourself.   Don’t call yourself names, don’t beat yourself up.  Today is a “do-over”, and your self talk will be “I can do this!”
  • Drink more water.  You need to flush out all that excess sodium.
  • Get back to sensible eating.  You may still feel full, and want to skip breakfast, but don’t.  You’ll just end up hungry later–and likely to overeat again.  Instead, try having just a small bowl of low-fat yogurt and berries.  Eat several small meals throughout the day with plenty of protein and vegetables.
  • Get your food journal out again.  Whether you use my favorite smart phone app  or just a notebook, logging what you eat is the easiest way to be accountable.
  • MOVE.  You may feel sluggish, or lazy after eating so much.  You may have to do an easier workout, but that’s ok.  Go for a walk, try a new class.  But find a way to move your body.

Don’t get discouraged by a weekend setback.  It may have been a step backward, but it’s NOT an excuse to give up.

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