Five Cholesterol Myths and What to Eat Instead

You knew there was a bit of an over-emphasis (borderlining obsession) about cholesterol, right?

Before we jump into some myths let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what exactly cholesterol is.

Myth #1: “Cholesterol” is cholesterol

While cholesterol is an actual molecule what it is bound to while it’s floating through your blood is what’s more important than just how much of it there is overall. In fact depending on what it’s combined with can have opposite effects on your arteries and heart. Yes, opposite!

So cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood. These compounds contain cholesterol as well as fats and special proteins called “lipoproteins”.

They’re grouped into two main categories:

  • HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (AKA “good” cholesterol) that “cleans up” some of those infamous “arterial plaques” and transports cholesterol back to the liver.

  • LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (AKA “bad” cholesterol) that transports cholesterol from the liver (and is the kind found to accumulate in arteries and become easily oxidized hence their “badness”).

And yes, it’s even more complicated than this. Each of these categories is further broken down into subcategories which can also be measured in a blood test.

So “cholesterol” isn’t simply cholesterol because it has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it’s bound to in your blood and what it is actually doing there.

Myth #2: Cholesterol is bad

Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for your body to produce critical things like vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, your sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats. Not to mention that it’s incorporated into the membranes of your cells.

Talk about an important molecule!

The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA “total cholesterol”) isn’t nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.

While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.

Myth #3: Eating cholesterol increases your bad cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver. It’s actually not from the cholesterol you eat. Why do you think cholesterol medications block an enzyme in your liver (HMG Co-A reductase, to be exact)? ‘Cause that’s where it’s made!

What you eat still can affect how much cholesterol your liver produces. After a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn’t need to make as much.

Myth #4: Your cholesterol should be as low as possible

As with almost everything in health and wellness there’s a balance that needs to be maintained. There are very few extremes that are going to serve you well.

People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of death from other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, as well as suicide.

Myth #5: Drugs are the only way to get a good cholesterol balance

Don’t start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor.

And while drugs can certainly lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol they don’t seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that well.

Guess what does?

Nutrition and exercise, baby!

One of the most impactful ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat lots of fruits and veggies. I mean lots, say up to 10 servings a day. Every day.

Don’t worry the recipe below should help you add at least another salad to your day.

You can (should?) also exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, and eat better quality fats. That means fatty fish, avocados and olive oil. Ditch those over-processed hydrogenated “trans” fats.

Summary:

The science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated and we’re learning more every day. You may not need to be as afraid of it as you are. And there is a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level.

Recipe (Dressing to go with your salad): Orange Hemp Seed Dressing

Makes about ¾ cup

½ cup hemp seeds

½ cup orange juice

1 clove of garlic, peeled

dash salt and/or pepper

Blend all ingredients together until creamy.

Serve on top of your favourite salad and Enjoy!

Tip: Store extra in airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for about a week.

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Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You Weigh

Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You Weigh

You totally want to ditch your scale, don’t you?

You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight”.

I mean, it doesn’t define you (obviously).

What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.

Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).

Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):

Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.

THAT is what we’re talking about here.

Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).

Yup – that apple!

And it’s not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is. It’s this “unpinchable” fat.

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.

So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.

Am I an apple or a pear?

It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. You can do it right now.

Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.

For men the number is 40”.

Of course this isn’t a diagnostic tool. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.

If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.

Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:

  • Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fiber foods are brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.

  • Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.

  • Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).

  • Move more. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.

  • Stress less. Seriously! Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.

  • Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).

Recipe (High fiber side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Serves 4

1 lb brussel sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)

2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

dash salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Toss.

Bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K. You may want to eat them more often.

Should you diet or exercise; or both?

 

When it comes to losing weight, we feel overwhelmed and under-informed.

We believe when our best friend, Jan, tells us that the Keto diet is the only way to lose weight.

We get caught up in the latest hype, thinking this must be a new research finding that finally works wonders.

But the only truth is that it’s simpler than we actually want to believe. We want to believe it’s more complicated because at least that would give us some clarity on why we haven’t achieved our goals – and kept them – after so much practice. Does that say something about us?

Yes and no. We want to believe the hype because it’s, well, hype.  We love hearing the latest gossip, watch the latest episode of our favorite reality tv show and are obsessed with scrolling through our favorite social media newsfeeds.

How can weight loss and fat loss be so boring? It’s basically the same old thing you’ve heard a million years ago:

Move more + Eat less 

Ya, I know, BORING!

But so true and when you get down to it and finally accept this truth, it can actually help free you from ever believing another hyped up claim of fat and weight loss. You can simply smile and nod when your besties tell you they finally found the “golden bestest weight loss plan ever!” Because you now know better.

But it isn’t easy to give up our old habits this easily. We may feel like a fraud. We might secretly believe that there really is going to be another magical potion or balance of macronutrients that will burn off fat faster and give us the freedom we’ve always dreamed of.

But no. Not going to happen. Ever. So let’s stop putting off the inevitable and just start already! You can start today if you truly are ready. Just start tracking your foods. You don’t even have to count the calories yet. Just write down what you eat, make sure to take note of the amount and portions and tally it all at the end of the day. Easy peasy. Or is it?

At first, this is going to feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done! But just trust me and stick with it. It will get easier. You might have to cut back on some of the foods after a day or two of tracking. If you aren’t sure how many calories you need to lose weight, I have a video tutorial on how to find your personal magical weight loss calorie deficit range.

Now that you know how to find your calorie range,  you have no reason not to succeed, right? Or do you? I find the biggest component of weight loss and successful results come from accountability and support. We all need to feel like we are not alone in any of our efforts and it’s important to work with someone who can answer our questions and help us when we get stuck or hit a plateau. If that’s something you are interested in, you need to join my support system. Just shoot me an email to: spazzykay@gmail.com and tell me what your goals are for this month.

Here’s a fun and FREE workout you can try out with your favorite playlist to motivate you through! (message me and let me know if you give this a go!)

 

FREE Playlist Workout Challenge (from Fitness Bootcamp Pros Newsletter):

Choose 4 of your favorite pump-up songs – they should be between 3:30 and 4:30 minutes long.  Each circuit is done for the duration of the song.

Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio, then some moving stretches (leg swings, arm circles, etc)

Song 1:

– 10 Jumping Jacks

– 10 Reverse Lunges (10/side)

– 10 Mountain climbers (10/side)

– 10 second rest (if needed)

Song 2:

– 10 Push-ups

– 10 BodyWeight Squats

– 10 Bent-Over Rows (10/side)

– 10 second rest (if needed)

 

Song 3:

– 10 Burpees

– 10 High Knees (10/side)

– 10 Walking Lunges w/ twist (5/side)

– 10 second rest (if needed)

Song 4:

– 10 Glute Bridges (hold 3 sec at top)

– 10 sec Side Plank (10 left / 10 right)

– 10 Mountain Climbers

– 10 second rest (if needed)

Dealing with food cravings

 

You know the feeling, you’re humming along on your new diet and exercise program and the BLAM!… you’re hit with the strongest cravings for every food item that isn’t listed on your meal plan.

What do you do?

For most of us, when we are at our most vulnerable (like when we are hungry and buzzing from less than stellar nutrients and calories) – we give in to the cravings and eat anything …and pretty much everything in our vicinity.

Why does this happen? Why do we sabotage ourselves when working on being healthier and and losing weight?

Here are some simple take aways you can implement right now to diminish these cravings when they come. Because, first of all, we can never stop them entirely. Why? For one thing, our bodies are used to a certain amount of food and energy we feed it and when it realizes that the “norms” have changed, it reacts by telling us to EAT MORE FAT! This is actually a good thing if we were really starving but in reality…we are not, but our body doesn’t know this. It also reacts erratically when it comes to hormone fluctuations that occur with stress in our lives, foods that we eat and a plethora of real life happenings that occur.

Simply put; we will have cravings at one point or another. We just need to understand how to minimize the power and impact over us and work on balance so we don’t feel deprived.  Here are some ways you can lessen and overcome these cravings as they come:

  1. Make sure you are eating enough calories to sustain your body’s basic needs. This means calculating (or doing some of your own research on foods eaten and satiety) your body’s calorie needs on a daily basis and then adding in additional calories for your workouts and activity levels. You’ll then subtract no more than 300-500 calories per day to be in a “calorie deficit” and be able to lose weight. The problem with this formula is that many of us underestimate our body’s needs and think that cutting back on calories more drastically, will help us to lose weight faster. This is a bad idea. Another common practice is to eat mostly “diet” food items that give us close to nothing in terms of nutrition and our body is now in hyper-active “starvation” alarm mode. How to change this? Once you know your calorie needs to lose weight (again, don’t cut more than 500 calories a day to minimize your body’s starvation cues), choose whole foods and eliminate all diet and processed foods. This will help to “feed” your body the nutrition it requires, even when you are cutting back on calories so that your body doesn’t work against you to eat more. Choose a large assortment of vegetables (the more colorful, the more nutrients), lean protein choices, whole grain carbohydrates (these are NOT bad for you) and don’t forget to get in enough healthy fats like nuts, nut butters, avocados, and olive oil. In order to create a “happy balance” in your mind and your body, plan to eat a food that’s completely off limits at least once or twice per week. This can be a decadent dessert you would crave or a serving of your favorite fat-laden foods. The key is to eat these fun treats with dignity and a fork or spoon in front of other people, rather than shoving un-portioned amounts into your mouth with your hands. Trust me, this will be one of the most important steps you can take in helping to curb those nasty cravings.
  2. Now that you’re on track with your food choices and getting in enough calories to sustain your body’s daily needs, let’s talk about what to do when you get a craving and aren’t planning your treat yet. Imagine this; you come home from a busy and stressful day at work and you eat dinner with your family and sit down to relax on the couch while watching the latest episode of “The Walking Dead”…when all of a sudden…BLAM! You need something STAT! On a commercial break, you head into the kitchen and open the refrigerator door to stare into the abyss…what do I want? What do I want? ..you ask yourself. You close the door and open the pantry door, only to repeat the process again. You may go back to the refrigerator and stare again…hoping to find what you’re looking for. But guess what? If you ever find yourself doing this, standing in front of the open refrigerator or pantry wanting something …but not quite sure what that something is…close the door and go someplace quiet. Sit down and feel that emotion. Because, that feeling of “wanting something” and not knowing what you want in food…means you are hungry for something emotional. It could mean you need to cry. You might need a hug and a close friend or loved one to listen to something that’s bothering you. You might need to grab a pillow and beat the crap out of it. Whatever it is, it is not about food. This is huge. We use foods for so many things and we wear foods when we overdo it on the emotional things. Start a journal and write down what happened that day and what you felt and start to process your emotional ties to food. Food used in this way is no different than overdoing it on a drug or alcohol. It gives us a rush of a good feeling and takes away that emotional need – but only for a brief moment. Then it passes and we need more…or we stop and find out how to deal with that emotion. I know, this one is deep but it’s important to get ahold of.
  3. Hormones and habits. I really don’t have much more to say except they can wreak havoc on our healthy plans. We may be humming along just fine and then BLAM!…we want to eat everything covered in chocolate. Or we may prefer crunchy foods when stressed out and hormones get out of control. Another issue is the habits we’ve created in eating certain foods when we feel these hormone surges. This takes some time to break. Again, it isn’t easy to do but trust me, it’s EVERYTHING as you move forward in your weight loss and fitness goals. Journaling will help you find patterns that bring about specific cravings and you can then learn how to better deal with them before they show up. One important thing to realize too, is when you give in to your craving and binge…you need to accept what happened and move on. Don’t beat yourself up or throw in the towel. Find out what happened and why you had your break down…and deal with it better the next time around. Because there will be a next time if you don’t…and there might be a next time even if you do.

 

There you have it on simple solutions for your emotional eating. I struggled with this for many years and the only other thing I didn’t mention above is getting therapy when dealing with deeper emotional needs. I hope this helps you today and shoot me a message if you would like to share your story or questions with me! 🙂

Common Struggles S.O.S.

It’s a new year.

We are naturally excited to start fresh. This is the time of the year to reassess our goals in life and most of the goals revolve around health, weight loss, fitness, and diets. Trust me, I’ve done it more times than I can count too but I finally got frustrated with the “on again” “off again” pattern and decided to get real with myself on what I was going to stick to and what I was going to let go.

 

I took a few polls on what most of us may be struggling in, both now and in the past, and will share my best tips here on these subjects. I hope they can give you an extra push to get yourself on track…and stay on track! 😉

  • How to get started. Getting started is always one of the hardest things to do. We wonder where should we begin and when should we begin? We may be plagued with unhappy memories of plans that went awry and worry this will happen once again. Our confidence levels may be at an all time low. Here’s my tips on getting started, and staying on track, for good this time:
    1. Get 100% clear on WHY you are doing this now. What are your goals? If it’s to lose 10 lbs, then ask yourself WHY do you want to lose 10 lbs? Losing 10 lbs is not a strong enough reason when the going gets tough (as it will!) so really dive deep into your “why” and pinpoint the importance of your goals this time. It could come down to some scary health issues you may be worrying about, it might be a reunion you want to look good for, it might be a wedding (your own or a family/friend). Whatever it is, get clear on your deep reason so you are willing to fight for the results instead of half-assing it, yet again.
    2. Once you have your WHY worked out and written down (I suggest to post it somewhere you will see daily), you must pick a start date asap. It’s better to start sooner, even “IF” that doesn’t sound like it will fit into your current schedule. (*hint: if you are not willing to start within the next 1-2 days, then you aren’t that serious about your goals yet!) Choose to start today or tomorrow at the very latest. Trust me!
    3. Finally, you will start with something simple. Your first step should be so simple that it almost sounds silly, compared to what you’ve done in the past. Let’s be honest, when we usually start something, it’s an “all or nothing” approach, am I right? We have a pre-written diet plan (which I despise), a grueling exercise program and a goal that almost seems impossible to reach. This never works. We have lives to live, we have other obligations and people that we need to work around. Diving into a program that is extreme will only leave us burnt out and dropping the plan within 1-2 weeks. #guaranteed Start simple. Choose one thing and get really good at it this week. For example, start with the goal of drinking 8 oz of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. Then, set your phone alarm to remind you to drink another 8 oz every hour or two for the rest of the day. Yes, you’ll be using the bathroom more but you’ll also notice that you may not be as hungry in between meals, you may have some extra energy throughout your day and you will feel accomplished from this one simple step! Repeat the new habit for 7 days in a row before adding another simple step. You’ll find within a few months time, you’re able to maintain more consistency in these new habits and it won’t feel like you’re overhauling your entire life.
  • Making the time. When we are over-scheduled and overly busy with our lives, how the heck can we expect to make time to eat right and work out again? I’ll remind you to check out the first habit above on getting started and finding your reason “why”. If this reason is truly important to you, you will want to make it a priority. Once it’s a priority, you can then review your daily tasks and find something that isn’t as important to you and swap with your new priority. For example, are you needing to find time to exercise each day? I always suggest morning because there are less excuses that can get in our way and it’s amazing how that extra energy starts to add up in other areas of our day. Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier and just wake up without hitting your snooze button (you must be intentional about NOT hitting snooze!). Don’t worry about what you do for your workout, just workout! It could be a video from YouTube, a walk or jog on your treadmill or around your neighborhood, it could be following a written plan of exercises from Pinterest or taking a class at your local gym. 20-30 minutes of exercise is enough and you’ll feel more accomplished the entire day! Making time to eat right is simple enough to do…but also simple enough NOT to do so decide if this is important to you first. 🙂 Each evening, write out your foods for the next day and if you need to prep some of your meals ahead of time, do it then. Don’t let anything you want to get done wait until the last minute, especially when you are making these new changes. If it’s ready to go, you have less excuses to not get it done right. Have breakfast every morning. It could be as simple as a protein shake or a yogurt with a piece of fruit. Don’t get overly picky about your choices yet, just start with the habit of eating good foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Write these out the night before and take the foods with you as needed. Eat snacks in between if you are waiting longer than 3 hours between meals. Also, don’t forget to add in time for rest and recovery, or you will risk overtraining and injuries. Sleep at least 7 hours each night. Turn off your tv, computer and put down your cell phones at night so that your brain can relax and you can sleep soundly and wake up more alert when the alarm rings in the morning.
  • Staying Motivated. Now that you have started your program (and figured out your why), and have made the time and commitment to workout and eat healthy foods…what happens when motivation wanes? (because it does) Once again, reassess your reasons “WHY’ to see if they are still important enough to you when motivation is low. If it is, you must find an accountability system. This is HUGE when it comes to improving your consistency and sticking to your plan. There will be times when your energy is low, when your motivation isn’t there and your willpower seems non-existent. You might now WHAT to do but for some reason, you just can’t get yourself to do it. That’s where accountability kicks in. Accountability is the acknowledgment of your responsibility for your actions with the obligation to report, explain and be responsible for the resulting consequences. In other words, having accountability keeps you consistent because you’re required to report back to someone what you’re doing – or not doing – with your diet and your exercise plan. This someone can be a friend, family member, a coach or a Facebook group. What makes accountability so powerful is that it doesn’t matter how little motivation you may have to do something. If you know there is someone – or multiple someones – expecting you to report back to them…you will get it done. Or go MIA…which will then mean your WHY didn’t mean as much after all. Need a support group on Facebook? I have one that you can join and just get accountability today: Join the Facebook Online Fitness Community HERE

That’s it for today’s tips. I will be sharing all week with you and hope that you take what you need and make it work for you this month. Shoot me any questions or comments and I’ll get right back to you as needed. Here’s to your best year yet!

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

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!