The UN-Diet Plan

So here we are on another Monday and facing a new month ahead.

Holiday season looms and many people start to shudder at the thought of finding a new DIET….

“When will it end?”, you might wonder at times.  “Why can’t I just finally stop needing to lose weight and get fit again and again?”

I’ve been asked so many times from clients and friends about the newest, fad diets and what I think about them. Let me simplify and just tell you that I think all diets are crap. They are created to deprive us and make us feel bad about ourselves.

Why? So that we finally stop following that said diet and gain the weight back again (because we didn’t really learn anything of value except that we suck and can’t lose weight) only to have to find another diet plan as soon as we hit rock bottom or need to get into better shape for an event.

Can we just ban them for good? I finally did and I want to empower you, my dear friend, to do the same. (If you already have then high five to you but please pass this along to someone who might still be stuck in diet hell)

It took me years to finally learn what areas were holding me back and un-learn what I needed to change in order to finally succeed and enjoy my life. I didn’t want to eat broccoli and chicken breast for the rest of my days. I didn’t want to cut out carbs. I didn’t want to live on salads. I didn’t want to NOT have fun when I wanted. (I may sound like a 2-year old throwing a tantrum but honestly, don’t you feel like that when you’re told YOU CAN’T HAVE THAT?? we now understand 2 year olds better!)

I’d love to give you a guideline to start today. Since we are taught to be “good” or “bad” in any given moment or following a plan of what we “can” and “cannot” eat (which is ludicrous to think long term but we need to take baby steps first) I am sharing my 7 Day Slim Down plan, Exercise Plan and Grocery List with you. But let me explain what this plan actually is and what it is not.

  1. It is NOT a diet. It is a blueprint of how to start implementing real foods into your life again. Most of us learn to cut out as much foods as possible. So we wake up each morning and skip breakfast (because who’s really hungry in the morning anyway, right?) then we end up scarfing down some unhealthy foods before lunch because we are so hungry. This continues throughout the day as we go through our feelings of guilt from eating what we shouldn’t have eaten and then starving ourselves some more because we ate too much of what’s not good for us.
  2. It IS a blueprint (as mentioned above) and by noticing there are 3 meals every day and 2 snacks in between 2 of those meals is your starting point. You can either choose to follow the foods written out for reference if you don’t like coming up with your own; or you can use the grocery list of foods and swap out items that you actually enjoy and/or have on hand. I’ve never liked following a meal plan written out for the masses either but it’s a helpful tool to learn from and adjust as needed for our own lives and likes.
  3. It will help with drinking more water (which most of us don’t get enough of) because being dehydrated makes us think we are ‘hungry’ and if we just stick to our water intake we won’t have as many hunger pangs throughout the day. Start drinking water early in your day and glug it! I wake up and immediately (no, don’t go do ANYTHING else until this is done!) drink 1/2 to 1 full liter of water on an empty stomach. We wake up dehydrated already and what’s the first thing most of us pour down our throats? Coffee…which just dehydrates us more. Now, I love coffee and would never dream of telling anyone to stop drinking it because I won’t either…but I will first get my water in and then enjoy my coffee! 😉
  4. This forces you to eat foods that are from nature. We are so used to buying convenience foods because we tell ourselves we are “too busy” to eat healthy but I call B.S. on this too. It takes less time than you think and saves you tons of money in the long run to buy whole foods and cook them up yourself. Trust me, I haaaate spending extra time on anything but if I can get a healthy meal cooked and still smile to enjoy it; then anyone can! I am not a natural ‘foodie’ and don’t enjoy taking my time when cooking but there are so many quick and easy recipes online that we are out of excuses.
  5. This plan also comes with a simple ‘at home’ fitness program. You don’t have to follow the workouts but commit to at least taking a daily walk for 15-20 minutes and timing yourself so that you see when you’re able to walk faster and/or add more time to your walkabouts. If you choose to give the workouts a try and are hesitant because you don’t know if you’re able to finish them – just do at least 10 minutes and if you don’t feel like continuing after 10 minutes is up, then stop. Easy peasy. Let’s stop making things so difficult that it stops us before we start.

I know you can do this. It’s only 7 days, after all and you can start any day of the week that you desire. What I challenge you to do is to stick to the full 7 days. No, they don’t have to be perfect and if you make mistakes along the way or fall of track…don’t stop. That’s the old patterns of diets. Instead, try to just stay on track with every day. Finish each day to the best of your ability and write it down in a notebook. Was it hard to eat the foods? Did you get some activity in? How did you feel throughout the day as opposed to the week before? Etc…

I’d love to know if you give it a go. Just drop me an email today: kathyprofitness@gmail.com

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The Do’s & Don’ts of Ab Training for Women

Yesterday, I attending a mini quarterly fitness training for my group exercise education and credentials. I absolutely love taking these trainings because I am able to see new techniques and get new ideas from the master trainers as well as the fellow trainees.

It was an interesting thing though. I took 2, hour long master classes and they were hard core, but I was still able to do more once they were done. This, of course, due to the fact that I’ve been an avid exerciser for umpteen years and my body can just do more than when I began.

But then, I took a HIIT cycle class which is sweetly referred to as “Sprint”. Sounds harmless enough, right?

WRONG!! It was 30 minutes of freaking HELL on stationary wheels!!! 😦

One. Thirty. Minute. Class.

My body wouldn’t stop shaking. I was worn out and had to find my breath and focus throughout the workout. This is HIIT. This is AWESOMENESS!!!!!!

Why am I sharing this when today’s topic is clearly related to ab training? Because, my dear, you ALREADY have amazing abs! You just have some gorgeous fat covering your awesome abs. So what do we do to expose those gorgeous midsections? I’m here to help!

Before we get to some focused ab exercises to follow – and to avoid; let’s share why HIIT Training is the secret to amazing abs. 

  • Don’t have time to spend on working out; either at home or the gym? No problem with HIIT! It’s the ideal workout for busy schedules. You can squeeze in a quick workout just before you jump into the shower in the morning, or during your lunch break or even after you get the kids to bed at night. Seriously, there are NO excuses with time when it comes to HIIT workouts. Research has shown that you can achieve more progress in just 15 minutes of HIIT workouts (done 3X a week) than jogging on the treadmill for an hour. (boring!)  Want more good research info? According to a study presented in 2011 at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6-8 weeks of endurance training. Whaaaat?????
  • You’ll not only have better results during your HIIT workout, you’ll also be burning more calories after your workout for 24-48 hours! This is commonly referred to as “EPOC”; or exercise post oxygen consumption. (you had me at burning more calories at rest, right?)
  • You’ll build a healthier heart! Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic (or “without oxygen”) zone. This is pretty much how you feel when you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest. But when we are consistent and do our very best every sweat session, we receive extreme results. One study done in 2006 found that after 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, the subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace. See? Heart = Happy! ❤
  • It’s also pretty awesome because you don’t even need equipment to get these results! You can choose running, biking, jump roping, and rowing when doing HIIT workouts but the greatest thing is that you don’t need any equipment to get it done! High knees, fast feet, or anything plyometric like jumping lunges work just as well to get your heart rate up. Fast. In fact, some equipment, like dumbbells can make HIIT less effective because of the fact that you aren’t focusing primarily on getting the heart rate up…you tend to split that with the weight training aspect.
  • Weight and fat loss “secret”! Anyone who has been on a diet knows that it’s hard to not lose muscle mass along with fat. While steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores. Win/win!
  • Your metabolism becomes more efficient at rest (what we talked about above). In addition to increased fat burning and more muscle preserved, HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process, making you younger both inside and out!
  • Get sexier leg definition and strength! The largest muscle group in your body is seriously taxed during HIIT training and the effects are to be proud of! Who doesn’t want lean, sexier legs as you’re losing body fat all over and shedding those extra pounds?
  • You can do it anywhere so no more excuses on where to workout anymore either. You can workout at home, the gym, outside, in a lobby, in your hallway…anywhere!!! Since it’s such a simple concept—go at maximum effort for a short period of time followed by a recovery period and repeat—you can adapt it to whatever time and space constraints you have.
  • Beat the boredom workout blues! I don’t know if you’re like me but I HAAATE to be bored!! If I feel bored in my workouts, my mind starts to wander and guess what happens to the intensity of my workout? It suffers because my mind is thinking of things other than what I’m doing at the moment and this seriously messes with our results! Solution? HIIT workouts! This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results. You may be in pain, you may be sucking wind, but you definitely won’t be bored!

Now back to our main topic; AB workout do’s and don’ts! 

If you’re like most women, we tend to wish for abs and want for abs so badly that we hope that our random sit-ups, crunches and plank challenges will do the trick. But let me share how you can get better results and stay away from moves that will actually make you look thicker around the middle! (no good!) Following these tips (as well as adding HIIT training to your routines) will help you get those rock hard abs – or at least tighter abs if you prefer. Bikini and tank top season is always just around the corner!

Ab exercises you should NEVER do! 

I’ll go out on a limb and guess that although you want tighter, leaner abs, you also don’t want a thicker waist.

Am I right? I knew it!! 😀

Then you’ll definitely want to stay away from weighted side bends.

Stay away from these!

 

The problem with this exercise is that it directly targets the oblique muscles with large amounts of resistance. The reason this is a “negative” exercise for lean abs, let’s talk about how the abs and obliques function. The obliques are two different muscle groups that originate from the lateral (aka: side) part of your lower ribs and insert into the front portion of your iliac crest. The obliques wrap around your sides and help you turn and bend your torso which helps your spine stability.

 

Normally, the obliques are visible only when you start getting rid of body fat layers. But when you target these muscles with extra resistance (such as dumbbells and weights) it makes them look bigger. This is because the obliques are positioned along the sides of your torso, and the effect is to actually thicken your waist. I don’t think this was your focus if you’ve done this move before, right?

It’s important to mention that the weighted side bend isn’t a bad exercise; in fact, many people like it because it strengthens your core, and some lifters actually want to increase the size of their waist. But if you’re looking for that hourglass figure, you’re better off skipping this move on ab day.

Exercises to help tighten your midsection

  • Add resistance to your main ab muscles (such as the rectus abdominis or “six pack muscles”) themselves. You can also still target your obliques (in fact, you’ll want to hit all the areas) but eliminate the added weight in this area and stick to higher reps instead. Want to start with some great moves today?  Here are some of the best to get started with:

 

1. Lying Leg Raise                                             

2. Decline sit ups with twist (no weights) 

 

3. Hanging Leg Raise                                       

 

 

4. Stir the Pot                                                       

 

How Often Should You Work Your Abs?

If you regularly do compound movements like lunges, squats, and deadlifts, you’re most of the way there. These exercises involve a lot of core work and stabilization so you’re getting a good ab workout without doing any specific “ab /core” exercises. But if you’re looking for better (and faster results), consider adding a HIIT workout 1-2 times per week and 1-2 of these ab moves above about 2-3 days per week. Perform 3-5 sets of each exercise for at least 10-20 reps per move. Rest 30-60 seconds between sets.

There’s no reason that you need to spend a full day on “core work” this way. If you start now by working these tips into your regular program (and avoiding those side bends), you’ll have a more toned core and your body will be summer ready all year long!

Let me know if you have any questions or comments and I’d love to get you into a transformation challenge if you’re up to it! Shoot me an email and let’s chat! www.kathyprofitness@gmail.com 

The Myths About Low Carb Diets

Whenever I ask someone what they are following for weight loss, a common response is, “I’m doing a low carb diet.”

This idea has floated around since the Atkins diet phase and has seemed to settle into most people’s minds as ‘the way to lose weight’. Most people assume that carbs are “fattening”.  Let’s see if you’ve heard some of these comments before:

  • Carbs spike your blood sugar and insulin, which pours on the body fat.
  • Carbs, especially grains and sugar, cause inflammation.
  • Carbs are not essential to your diet, like proteins and healthy fats are.

These seem pretty logical and simple, right? Well, honestly, no. It seems as simple as “good” versus “bad” but let’s break it down a little more focused.

  • Do carbs increase insulin levels? Yes
  • Does increased insulin after meals cause weight gain? No, insulin is actually a hormone that helps keep you full so the idea that by itself it leads to fat gain doesn’t make much sense.
  • Are carbs inflammatory? That depends. If we are talking about processed corn syrup then probably so; but if we’re talking about whole grains then the answer would be different.
  • Can low carb eating help people lose weight? Of course it can! Because it’s less in carbs? Any type of meal plan that you are eliminating calories (here, it’s a whole nutrient), you will definitely drop weight.
  • Can eating an appropriate amount of carbs help you to look and feel good? Most definitely, YES!

Now, let’s talk a bit about how not eating carbs can work against us.

If you’re using the idea of eliminating or cutting out carbs as a weight loss strategy alone, it will work well for some people. Like I said above, when you are reducing your daily amount of calories due to cutting back in any way, you will definitely lose weight. It just goes back to “less calories in equals a calorie deficit which then leads to weight loss”.

But let’s talk about the downside of cutting out carbs; most of us need some level of carbohydrates to function at our best over the long run. That initial weight gain you may enjoy can later be met with some highly negative consequences later. This applies especially to those who workout. I know if I cut my carb intake too much, I’m met with the crazy feelings of what we’ve coined, ‘hangry’. This reduction also can lead to: decreased thyroid output, increased cortisol output (aka; stress hormone), decreased testosterone, impaired moods and cognitive function, muscle breakdown and problems with our immune functions.

I’m not sure that some temporary weight loss is worth all the long term effects, what do you think?

Let’s summarize this into more simple results:

  • You eat less carbs and your metabolism might slow down but your stress hormones go up. (this is not a good swap!)
  • You eat less carbs and your muscle building hormones go down. (again, not good for long term toned bodies!)
  • You eat less carbs and you feel grouchy, spaced out, sluggish, cranky and maybe even sick. (seriously???)
  • You eat less carbs and don’t even lose that much weight in the long run and may even be met with worse results over time.

Need I say more? If you would like to learn more helpful information to get you better results over time, join the Fit & Toned Academy that’s coming end of September and get a month FREE!

————————————————————————-

Get signed up right HERE 👉🏻👉🏻
https://form.jotform.us/72384230484153

We open the academy this month!!!

🙋 I’m so excited to start our own online fitness community and am inviting to try the first 30 days for FREE!

The Fit & Toned Academy includes….

🏃‍♀️Complete workouts and exercise programs to follow

🎬 LIVE workouts to join

📽 Recorded workouts to follow for all levels and preferences

🍏 Meal plans and recipes

🏋 Workouts for the gym, home or great outdoors

📝 Grocery & Food lists to access

👩‍💻 Learn up-to-date fitness and health information

💪🏻 and more to come!!

What are you waiting for?

Just click the link above and sign up today!!!!


*information gathered and found at Precision Nutrition 

Dealing with Anxiety and Panic

When you deal with anxiety and panic, it seems like you are being taken over by your body and brain. It may feel like you have no control over what is happening and that is a terrible feeling.

I’ve dealt with panic since I was 19 years old. At that time, information on this topic was limited and my doctor threw his hands up and said he didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was send to the hospital to take an EKG and they put me on heart medication.

That didn’t help. It became worse yet.

I felt alone, misunderstood, embarrassed, weak and confused. What was wrong with me? Why was I unable to breathe at times and how did this start? Was I having a heart attack? Was I dying? I ended up in the emergency room many times and left more confused every time. Nobody had answers for me. It was a mystery.

I searched high and low for my own answers. I came upon Lucinda Bassett’s cassette tape program that dealt with the same issues I was experiencing.

Finally! Someone had answers and a way to understand what to do in the midst of an attack. I didn’t want to be a victim anymore and completed her program, feeling more in tune with what was happening and why I was suffering these issues.

But that alone, didn’t help me recover completely. It was at that time I had my third child and family issues were at an all time high. My body was fueled with stress, hormones and depression. I was a mess.

I can’t tell you for sure what helped me start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I had epiphanies and found information that gave me new hope and a new freedom. Funny that at this time, I finally went to a therapist and poured my heart out. I thought he might act like all the doctors that I had seen over the years, but he looked at me with a different expression.

What was it? I hadn’t seen it before. It seemed like compassion. Why had nobody ever treated me like this was a real problem? I realized that over the many years that I suffered, I was met with complete lack of care and understanding. It made me feel more alone than ever and only exacerbated the anxieties and disarray. With this look of care and understanding and compassion….I instantly felt my mind and my body relax.

He then said something to me I will never forget for the rest of my days. I actually get emotional each time I remember that moment because it was a break in my struggles. He said to me,

You are a strong woman to have dealt with what you’ve gone through.” 

That was it. I felt like a wave of healing powers had entered my body. This was amazing!!

Now I’m not saying that it was as easy as his understanding look and words that helped me through the worst of it, but it was definitely the first chapter. And that, after almost 15 years of not knowing and fears of the unknowns, was a miracle to me!

He prescribed me medication and some simple steps to begin the process of healing. This, my friend, is what I am sharing with you today in hopes it gives you a first step and some hope of a way out. Don’t lose hope, please. There is always hope and there is always someone who cares that you are going through this.

I learned that those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression are; above average in intelligence, highly creative, have amazing imaginations and are detail oriented and analytical. The downside of these are that we over analyze, over stress, over intellectualize, imagine the worst case scenarios in every situation concerning our fears, and create thought mazes we cannot get out of.

Knowing this alone, is a major step in clarity and understanding what we are dealing with instead of fear of not knowing and thinking like a victim. The steps below are critical to your daily habits at the start. As you read above, we are over thinkers and over achievers and this only compounds our stresses and anxieties. The first phase is to get laser beam focused on what needs to be done now…and let the rest go. You will have time to get back to those when you are feeling “well” again.

  1. Create a daily list of no more than 5-10 things that must be done that day. Nothing more, less is optimal.
  2. Do things every day in order of importance. Don’t worry about perfection; consistency and moving forward is where your focus should be in this phase.
  3. Do things with focus and a reason, instead of just haphazardly and mindlessly. Put your phones down, stop scrolling the internet and take time to BE.
  4. Think before you take any action.
  5. Move slowly and calm down every time you feel your body and/or mind racing. You are not in a race.
  6. Practice writing down your feelings and thoughts for at least a week or two. Notice the patterns and issues that start to create stress in your body.
  7. Find a way to deal with rising tension in your body as you start to take notice. When we move slower, we are then able to see what is happening before it becomes a full blown attack. Find a safe hideaway and just notice your breath. Don’t try to analyze how to breathe or what you think is happening in your body..just know you are going to be okay (because you truly are!) and watch your breath as you slow it down and allow it to move in and out like the ocean waves on the shore.
  8. Read or listen to audio books on topics that relate to the mindset. Read, “What to say when you talk to yourself”, “Think Better, Live Better”, “The Power of Habit”, Eliminating Stress, Finding Inner Peace”, As a Man Thinketh”, “Life was Never Meant to be a Struggle” and “How to Be Happy”. There are countless books and audiobooks on this topic and I suggest you keep learning and growing with new information every single week, month and year. (I read at least 10 minutes every day and take action on what I read immediately. It truly starts to change the way we think and how we react).
  9. Find a therapist to work through issues that are out of your control. Many of us have deep, dark experiences, painful pasts and areas of stress that are out of our control. Find a professional to help you work through some major huddles and you’ll notice that you gain more confidence in knowledge of your mental and emotional battles.
  10. Become your biggest cheerleader. It may sound cheesy, but you’ll have to create a mantra that helps you out of negative mindsets. I am known to say to myself (and I’ve said this to my clients and my classes all the time), “You’re OKAY!” I say this repeatedly when I am feeling like negativity and anxiety are seeping in. I relax my shoulders, smile to myself and focus on my breath. Reminding ourselves that we can only control what we think in the moment, the rest is truly out of our control and deciding we are going to be “OK” with this fact.

These steps are meant as a starting point. You may find another way altogether that helps you move forward but as I mentioned before, you are not alone and you definitely matter so start with the areas you can manage today and add another as you feel ready to. Don’t wait for panic to take over again before you take action…start now and make sure to let me know how you feel or if you have questions about the information above.

 

Next up: we will learn how to breathe like we were meant to breathe…do you EVEN breathe right??

Cleaning out the Clutter

First of all, it’s been a long time in between posts so I feel like I should re-introduce myself again :p

But that’s just the way life works sometimes, right? We get on a roll and then we get busy in other areas and our priorities align in what we are putting our attention towards most. The past 3 months have been a whirlwind for sure; my hubby was laid off so I picked up a few (or it feels more like a thousand) more shifts and clients to make up the difference, our home had some issues that have now been resolved, we made it through the summer season and now getting set up for Fall. Is it that time already?

I find it so rewarding to clear out all the “stuff” from the past few months when I’m entering a new stage or creating a new schedule again. I don’t know if it comes mostly from my OCD tendencies but I seriously feel like the biggest badass after I clean anything up!

I know I’m not alone since I’ve had this conversation with many friends and some family members who can relate with me on every level.

  • When I clean, I don’t like to ‘cut corners’, I prefer to get every nook and cranny finished to my high standards so that I know it was done ‘right’. If you just rolled your eyes or think I’m crazy then you’re probably going to disagree with most of what comes next. 🙂
  • I don’t just “clean and go”; I complete each task and then stand back t admire my work. This is what I work for! This is my reward! If you’ve ever done this, you are nodding your head like a mad-person right now because you understand how exciting this clean and fresh feeling is that you were responsible for! #strangebuttrue
  • I get a high from shredding old papers, sweeping off the porches and indoor floors, vacuuming the carpets, wiping crud from walls, etc. It feels like I’m purging the old, icky stuff and making room for awesomeness that is CLEAN, organized and tidy as can be!
  • When working on a task, like cooking for example, I cannot leave a ginormous mess to clean “later” all at once. This drives me insane!! I actually do “mini” cleanings in between my steps of work. For instance, if I am chopping veggies and sauteeing them for a recipe, I’ll complete all the chopping and put the veggies into the sautee pan while I’m washing down the dirty knives, chopping boards, sink, etc before moving to the next step. How does one just ‘put the dirty dishes in the sink’ to clean later ‘all at once’??? I cannot even imagine it and even now, it’s giving me a bit of a panic attack. lol

These are a few of my happy practices. I’m definitely not encouraging anyone to follow these steps if you cannot relate with the feelings I shared above. We all work and complete tasks at different levels and with different patterns but what matters most to the task at hand – is completing it!

So in honor of Fall season; back to school season and just getting back to where my heart lies (in writing and entertaining you, my dear friend and reader!); I challenge you this week to take on at least 3 or more of the following tasks to clean out the clutter and make room for something new and lasting this season!

  • Have too many emails? Start by clicking “unsubscribe” from all of the useless marketing lists that provide zero value (their purpose is to distract you from what you should be doing anyway)
  • Need some reconnecting? This week, call someone that you care about but haven’t spoken to in awhile. Tell them hello and how much they mean to you and just catch up.
  • Take 100% responsibility for everything in your life and stop making excuses for not being where you want to be. Decide what needs to go and what you will start to implement in order to move you closer to your goals. If you don’t make changes, those goals are just “ideas” and not as important to you as you think.
  • Focus on making better nutrition choices. Throw away foods that are not from nature and stick to vegetables, fruits, whole grain carbohydrates and lean protein sources. Drink water and get your rest each night for more energy and better long term health.
  • Do something physical each day this week that breaks a sweat. It doesn’t have to be a marathon workout, just get 10 minutes (minimum) of an activity that brings you joy! (remember that feeling?)
  • Write down 3 things you are most grateful for and truly appreciate these today.
  • Clean out your inbox until it’s at “0”. If you have too many old messages, start with 10-20 per day until they are cleaned out completely. Zero messages feels good 😉

What are you waiting for? Choose the 3 areas you will complete this week and get to it now! There is no need to wait for a new month, a new year or a Monday to start again. Time is ticking every second of every minute in every day. You can decide to take control or it will control you.

Are you ready to clean?

Abs to be proud of after age 40

Think you can’t have abs after your 20’s or 30’s? Well I love a good challenge so I was up to it as I turned 40…and in turn, signed up to take on the stage for my very first fitness competition!

Yep.

As a mom of 3 and a 40 year old, I committed to donning a two piece and walking on stage amongst other fit women; who, quite honestly, were in their 20’s and 30’s.

Proud day after 6 months of hard work and eating to prove it!

You could say I was nuts…and probably still am because I don’t regret it. Yes, I got flack for being an “egotist” and embarrassing my family but they were all supportive – especially my dear hubby! He was darn right proud!

Why? Because let me tell you what you are seeing when you look at someone with toned abs and a tight physique. You may be thinking they are naturally leaner, fitter and just more lucky…but you’d be wrong.

It takes hard FREAKING work! Every day.

I haven’t done another fitness competition since and it’s now been 5 years. It’s not that I didn’t want to continue; heck, I placed 2nd in my division and 3rd overall (which included those 20 and 30 year olds, thank you very much!) and qualified for Nationals that same year.

The reason I didn’t compete again is because it’s a full time job.

You need to train like a “mother” (and I don’t mean someone who’s had children) and you have to eat like an athlete. The time and energy it takes to cook, workout, rest, recover and continue is time consuming and I’d rather spend that time with my family while they still need me. 🙂

But I did learn quite a many lessons from those intense 6-months of training and counting every macro and morsel that I ate. In case you think you can’t have abs – most likely because of what you’ve been taught over the years and what other people have said – I’m hear to debunk every one of those crazy negative issues and tell you that it’s most likely because you’re not informed well-enough.

Intrigued? Follow along…

My abs today. 45 is no excuse!

1. Squeeze in “sneaky” cardio. You’ve heard the saying that in order to lose weight, you’ve got to ‘move more and eat less’, right? Well the moving more part can help trim those abs, buns and everything else across your body but if you’re like me, it needs to not feel like cardio. I can easily fit in a 5 minute jump rope session in between a busy day’s schedule or add some sprints or burpees in between my weight lifting routine to up the calorie burn and get it done in increments. If you detest long cardio sessions like I do, then fitting in these sneaky cardio burns can make all the difference in showing off those abs come summer season!

2. Combine core work and cardio. As I said before, I love fitting in small increments of cardio in between my weight lifting sessions. In order to get into the shape I needed to for my competition, I committed to circuit training on most days. This meant that while I’d perform my typical chest, back, leg, etc, days; I’d follow up a set of weight work with 30-60 seconds of jump squats, mountain climbers or jump rope which allowed me to get the most out of my workout sessions. Bonus? While these aren’t technically “ab crunches”, they do indeed involve core activation and help to carve out those abs!

3. Start with planks & not crunches. It’s not that I don’t like doing crunches – because I do – I prefer engaging my core entirely and “feeling the burn” is a great indication that work has been done! Did you know that your booty is actually part of your core? True story. But doing crunches doesn’t activate the glutes like planks do and most people usually resort to momentum while doing crunches and feel it in their neck. Not really the goal, am I right? It’s important to strengthen the entire core – imagine you have a wide girdle that covers the areas below your chest and stops just under your booty (this is your core) – before you progress to moves like crunches so you can master the moves instead of just the stuff on top. 😉 Along with planks, I’d suggest also beginning by lying on your back and raising your feet up and knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your hands on your quads (front part of your thighs) and push them away from your body as you engage your core to keep the knees over your hips. (you’ll feel these if done right)

4. Work your abs every day — but not in the same way daily. Your core muscles recover quite quickly so you can actually work them more often than other parts of your body without over-training. The secret however, is to change it up. For example, if you do planks on Monday, try doing C-curves (a Pilates type exercise) on Tuesday. How? Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. Prop your upper body onto your forearms. Then, without changing the angle your upper and lower body have to the floor, place one hand at a time behind each thigh. Hold as long as you can, just as you would in plank.

5. Eat for awesome abs. Here’s where most of us get lost. We think that by workout out with enough cardio and performing our ab routines daily, we can get away with eating our favorite foods and just “eating better”. What the heck does this mean, anyway? LOL I’m guilty of saying this before too so I’m not calling you out in any way. I found that just by honing in on a few key areas, I was able to lean out sooner and much easier than when I ate “clean” and counted calories. Want to know how? Start with getting in a protein drink no later than 30 minutes after your workout since the quickest way to recover the tears in your muscles after you workout is to get protein into your body quickly. I use either a clean whey protein (no sucralose or unhealthy ingredients added) or Shakeology for my fuller-packed nutritional punch. Follow that up by drinking at least 4 liters to a gallon of water each day and eating whole grain carbs and healthy fats. If you need some help with foods, check out my healthy food list to plan out your meals for the week or month.

BONUS!! I’m super excited to bring my all-new FITNESS MEMBERSHIP SITE to you!! It’s been something I’ve dreamed of launching for almost a year now and I’m set to open this coming June! If you’d like priority information, please shoot me an email and title it “MEMBERS ONLY” and I’ll get you all the info as it rolls out! LIVE workouts, meal plans, personal help and more! Community like no other with support, accountability and TONS of content! 

Working out and Still Not Losing Weight?

Are you watching what you eat, exercising often and still feeling like you’re not losing that stubborn weight? The truth is that watching what you eat and exercising often (or even a LOT) is not specific enough and may be a bit “safe” as we can’t really measure these areas.  If we are honest with ourselves, there’s a very good chance that we are totally capable of trying a little bit harder in both of these areas.

Total-body wellness is a lifestyle. Fat loss happens when you ditch the scale, find an activity you enjoy, and start to see food as fuel instead of something to feed your emotions or occupy your time.

No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, chances are that you are struggling because of one of these 7 reasons….

1. You’re eating the wrong foods

A calorie is just a calorie? While this statement seems logical enough, our bodies respond to the nutrients it needs to burn fat and achieve the goals we are working towards. If you aren’t losing weight, you should begin by looking at your foods. I know many people focus on burning off the calories in their workouts and they don’t take the time to plan out what they are putting into their bodies as fuel. Diet is responsible for 80% of our results. I’m not a fan of manuscripted “diets”, either but a good rule of thumb is to choose natural, clean foods most of the time.

Eat most of your starchy carbs (like potatoes, brown rices and grains) on the days when you do your strength training or more intense workouts. On your rest days or lighter cardio days, try sticking to more protein and veggies and limit your starchy foods. Cut out your excess breads, white sugars and anything that’s processed. Look for the foods that have the fewest ingredients on their labels (aka: less processed). If you can’t pronounce something on the label, it’s probably not something your body needs so put it back on the shelf.

2. You’re eating too much

If you’ve already cleaned up your diet big time and you’re still not losing weight, it may be that you’re simply eating too many calories. You know the saying, “Eat less and move more”?  In order to lose the weight, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit, meaning you need to burn more than you consume. That being said, you shouldn’t have to deprive yourself either. Life is about balance. Don’t become obsessed with counting calories or weighing yourself every day.

Eat when you’re hungry and eat slowly enough so you can stop just before you get full. Healthy snacking during the day will keep you from overeating during meals. I always carry a healthy snack in my purse, because you never know when you’ll need a quick snack and it eliminates any quick and unhealthy food purchases in my day. Also, don’t be afraid to give yourself healthy ‘cheats’ like a few chocolate covered strawberries for example. The moment you start depriving yourself from foods you love to crave is the moment you start to feel like you are missing out on something and want to binge.

3. You’re doing too much cardio

If I had a dollar for everyone who has told me they do tons of cardio and still don’t lose weight….(I’d have a LOT of dollars! lol) Yes, cardio is a necessary part of your workout routine. It keeps your heart healthy, boosts your metabolism, and gives you a good sweat (you should break one daily). The problem is, that only doing cardio (and doing too much of it thinking it’s ‘better’) can actually add to our problem. Longer cardio workout sessions, like staying on the treadmill or elliptical for 90 minutes, or going for regular 10-mile runs can eat away at your lean muscle mass, which is necessary in increasing the metabolism to burn more calories.

It causes the body to become more endurance-focused, storing energy as fat to ensure it has plenty of reserve fuel to keep you going for all those miles. Not to mention it dramatically increases your appetite, making you more susceptible to unnecessary snacking or overeating.

4. You’re not lifting weights

This one goes hand in hand with #3. I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t do cardio. If you love to run or bike for reasons other than losing weight, then by all means don’t stop. But if your primary goal is to lose fat,  there are other forms of exercise that give a much better result for your burn. The best way to lose weight and build a toned and tight body is by doing some form of strength training, in addition to your cardio. When your body has more muscle tone then you’ll be burning more fat.

You might not be ready to give up your cardio just yet, so you can start by adding in some interval training. This means you’ll be doing short bursts of maxed out intensities into your regular sessions. This is a much more effective way of waking up the hormones that are needed to target the stubborn fat stores. Then, add in some resistance training to your routine. If you’re worried about lifting weights, you can always choose body weight exercises instead. Try a round of push-ups, squats and lunges and you’ll get great results without an actual weight just yet. 🙂

5. You’re not working hard enough

There’s no exact equation to working out and eating healthy—it’s a matter of trial and error, finding out what works specifically for your body. Just because you spend more time in the gym, doesn’t mean you’ll become a fitter person. Unless you are an athlete, body builder or marathoner in training, the average Joe shouldn’t be working out more than one hour  a day.

If you are spending more than an hour in your workouts, I bet you aren’t working hard enough. The workouts should be based on the intensity; versus the time. Remember this simple fact; the harder you work, the shorter your workout time may need to be. That’s why is super important to make the most of your time in the gym or fitness classes so you can achieve that “afterburn” effect which keeps your metabolism fired up for 24-48 hours after. Pretty cool, right?

6. You’re not taking time to recover

Let’s say you do achieve that afterburn feeling and you’re feeling your workout the next day, those are the days to focus on different muscles. If you prefer to work the whole body at once, then plan a workout routine that works your entire body on oneday and then take the next day to do light cardio, a yoga class or just rest and focus on nutrition.

Recovery and rest may actually be more important than the workouts themselves. It’s during those periods that your body does most of the actual fat burning. So give yourself that time to fully recover so you’re ready to work hard the following day. Most importantly, listen to your body. Push yourself, but also give it some love, too.

7. Your body is too stressed out

Exercise is actually a stress to our body. When you have a healthy balance of exercise “stress” and proper recovery time, your body will be healthy and able to lose the excess fat. But if you’re not giving your body the right amount of time to recover, it can be a negative thing since you’ll start to produce extra amounts of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Cortisol is normal and important when we are working out, since it’s involved in giving our muscles the energy it needs to move.

The problem, however, is when our body is exposed to cortisol for long periods of time and starts to cause negative effects. One of these effects are the stubborn fat stores in areas you don’t want it. Exercise is no the only thing that stressed our bodies out and creates extra cortisol.  The problem multiplies when we are stressed out about personal or professional areas of our life. Obviously, when you stop exercising then you stop producing cortisol; but it’s not so easy to just turn off mental stress that may be wreaking havoc in your life. Make sure you are taking the time and energy to keep your mental and emotional healthy in check too. You should be working towards a total-body wellness goal…not just a simple “weight loss” goal.

Need extra help this season?

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