When Stress Levels Keep You From Your Goals

We’ve all been there before. We get excited to change our lives in a positive way and follow a weight loss; fitness; transformation program only to get stuck again and fall off track.

I have heard this from multiple clients over the years and I’m sure we’ve all struggled with it at one time or another.

Stress kills results.

You can’t change a behavior consistently until you can not be stressed out consistently.

Here is an example conversation:

Client – “I was doing great with my workouts but then this thing happened and I got stressed out/overwhelmed/too busy and I stopped working out. A month ago.”

Coach – “Remember when we talked about this and you said that working out was really important to you and it was a big change you want to make in your life? You joined a gym, you blocked out time in your schedule, you found a program that worked for you…”

Client – “Right. It’s really important to me. Also I’m not doing it. Because busy. Much overwhelm. So stress.”

So what to do? Let’s explore what’s going on in the brain.

Imagine two decision making pathways in your brain.

The first one is a goal-oriented system that focuses on actions and results. This part of your mind gets the relationship between eating broccoli for dinner instead of french fries. It connects with your long term goal of losing weight and it takes action of choosing the broccoli.

This is the part that considers the goal and then taking action on said goal. It ties it together by the outcome that is produced when the action taken moves you toward a goal.

2+2=4

The second pathway is the habit system that learns stimulus response associations and does NOT connect them with the long term outcomes. This pathway doesn’t start with any knowledge of a goal somewhere in the future; it starts with whatever is happening in the present moment, like, “I’m hungry.” (stimulus) It then leads to the habit response of what we know from the past, “French fries are delicious and make me not hungry!” And that’s where it stops.

Problem, solved? Not so much.

We have to change the old habits into new ways of handling the current situation. You get stressed; you eat foods that make you not stressed. You don’t have time to plan your healthy meals; so you eat whatever you can find that makes you feel good. The interesting part about this is that when you find yourself locked into this habit mode response behavior, you stop connecting the results with the responses.

Your brain, in that specific moment, doesn’t link choosing french fries for dinner and gaining weight. It doesn’t even matter if you are troubled with your weight gains. You’ll keep doing the things that sabotage your long term goals, and you’ll continue to feel powerless to stop it.

AKA: Yo-yo cycles.

Now let’s see what makes our brain shift from the first system (I do this and I lose weight) to the second system (I’m hungry and I eat fries)?

*STRESS*

Research has found that people are biased toward a habit behavior when they’re under stress. It’s a coping mechanism in how we respond to said stress.  They can be shifted back towards goal-focused decision making if they’re given drugs that block the actions of stress hormones in the brain.

Stress literally changes the part of our brains that are involved in decision making. Can you believe that? What does this mean for someone who does well with workouts when everything is going smoothly but then diverts to binges and Netflix as soon as life piles up in a series of rush hour commutes, mortgage payments and sick children?

You’re not likely to break that cycle by thinking about how important working out is to your health, happiness or other long-term goals.

You already know that. The old behavior persists anyway.

When we’re in stress monkey mode, our brain just doesn’t connect those goals to our reflexive behavior.

The part of our brain that manages things like long term goals and impulses gets drowned out of the conversation. In many cases, it’s not about the goal. The monkey wrench in the gears of the system is the chronic stress. It makes the goal irrelevant.

Once you can clear that stress away and get out of your anxiety, you’ll have a clear path forward. You’ll have a brain that’s capable of running decisions through the goal focused pathway instead of the habit response pathway. (if you can do this long enough, the goal part of your brain that shapes the habit behaviors will change what you do even when you’re not thinking about it)

We become what we consistently do.

Until that happens, it’s not about the workouts. Rearranging sets and reps and exercises won’t matter. You won’t be able to do squats consistently until you’re able to not be stressed out consistently.  Deal with the stress first.

*adapted from Precision Nutrition blog 

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/overcome-the-most-common-coaching-challenges

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!

Things to be grateful for and some other stuff….

Today I posted a LIVE video on Facebook regarding foods and dieting. I dislike diets and what they teach us. We are not meant to eat to stringent rules and strange combinations because we are all unique and our bodies and systems run differently to anyone else’s. If you missed the video, you can check it out HERE.

If you need help with your own nutrition and are interested in some help, you can set up a free nutritional strategy session with me HERE.

Today’s post is dedicated to those special people in our lives. I was so honored to spend my elder son’s 20th birthday last night with him, his girlfriend, my daughter and her boyfriend and my youngest son and my husband. We had an enjoyable dinner and celebration and it made me feel so humbled by these simple moments and blessings in our lives.

Another grateful moment is today. I have had a cyst-like bump on my scalp for at least a few years now. (I know, I’m a procrastinator!) My doctor assured me it wasn’t anything to be concerned about as it was more than likely a cyst or fat deposit. hmmmm…here I am fighting fat all my life and the possibility that a FAT ball was attached to my scalp is a little ironic, don’t you think?

So anyway, my husband went with me to the medical center and I really didn’t know what to expect but just wanted the darned thing gone already. (Nobody really knew I’ve had it as I had become a pro at styling my hair to hide the ugly bump) I remember reading information about these issues on google and seeing videos on YouTube that assured me I wasn’t alone in dealing with this thing. I was a bit astounded to see that some people took it upon themselves to “drain” it at home on their own because they didn’t want to deal with the doctor’s office…say what? I can’t imagine doing something so ridiculous on your own without knowledge or experience. Have I reached your “ick” threshold yet? 😀

When the doctor first took a look at the bump, he said, “Wow! That’s big!” (not alarming at all when your doctor says that…lol) He seemed pretty relaxed about it and told me that I’d be stitched up after he removed it and I’d experience pain for a day or two. It was a basic office procedure as I was set up on a reclining dental-patient type chair and given numbing shots all around the bump. (I definitely felt those needle pokes!) The procedure itself took about an hour since it was clear once he cut through the skin that it was a fat deposit and would need to be cut out.

Yay…not really.

If you don’t like procedure details, you might want to skip this paragraph…. (You’ve been warned!) I heard the clipping sound of him cutting around the base of the bump and it sounded oddly like scissors cutting through hair. (none of my hair was harmed in this procedure, thank you very much doc!) I then felt him trying to pry the fat ball out of my scalp. There wasn’t any pain but the pressure and the pulling was a bit uncomfortable! He had to keep cutting around it and under it and it was a bit unnerving. Apparently, a cyst could be drained but these fat deposits are connected to tissue and it takes a bit more time and attention.

Not to mention the discomfort!

After it was all said and done, they cauterized and stitched my scalp up and then he asks me, “Kathy, do you want to see it?” Now, I’m usually not too good with looking at anything that makes me nauseous or lightheaded and this would seem to rank pretty high up in those areas. (I went out cold when I had blood drawn in order to get a marriage license with my then soon-to-be-husband before we married; when Ben told me to “check out your blood! it’s cool!” but it wasn’t cool because I looked at the vial that was pooling with MY BLOOD and then promptly passed out) This case seemed different though; I was interested in seeing what this blob looked like as it has been a part of my scalp for a long time now and I was so excited to have it gone. He held it up and it looked like a jelly ball roll of gross. That’s about as descriptive as I can be. 🙂

They told me I needed to go home and wash my hair and I felt a bit tender on my scalp but pretty good to say the least. I felt pretty good and figured it would be a cinch to recover from. My hubby told me to rest up and he proceeded to wait on me hands and foot and made me lunch and tea. (seriously? Tea? he’s the best!) After lunch, I took a pain pill and laid down and fell asleep.

That’s when the pain started…

I woke up and with my head piercing in pain from the incision site. It was ridiculous at how much pain there was but of course, there was my hubby giving me an ice pack, more pain medicine and running to get anything I needed. He made dinner  (meatloaf, rice and salad) and I’ve been laying in bed ever since trying to keep the pain at a minimum and still act like I’m not feeling sorry for myself. 😉

I know that I’ll be better in a day or two and so thankful to have a family that I can appreciate and a hubby that gives back as much as I need. Today’s post is dedicated to the ones we love and appreciate in our lives and for all of the amazing blessings that surround each of us in our daily lives….

Now, to get these stitches out and get on with this!!!

 

 

Stretching: Is it worth the time?

We’ve all heard how important stretching is. It’s been preached about forever and a day. I remember high school gym teachers would run us through some static stretches and that was a loooong time ago! 😉

All joking aside, stretching truly IS all that it’s cracked up to be and yet not everyone does it.

Why? It seems that many people feel it’s not as important as the all powerful ‘workout’ and it is just a waste of valuable time when there is so much to do in a day. Or maybe, it’s viewed as a practice for people who like to do yoga and or need to relax?

Maybe. While these can definitely seem true, it’s still critical to our goals to stretch but not in the way we’ve learned a million years ago in high school! (disclaimer: if you are in high school today and reading this, you might still be doing static stretching as my son has said and he’s in high school today)

 

Anywho (this word cracks me up because it makes absolutely NO sense and yet so many people use it), let’s talk about adding in some dynamic stretching into your program to see how valuable this is to your training. Maybe you don’t know what this is? Totally okay, because I’m here to help 😉

Dynamic stretching is exactly what the name implies. You are actually moving and involving the muscles for the stretch to take place. Static stretching is where you hold a stretch and breath for a given amount of time. (yes, kind of like yoga but not really). Dynamic stretching is perfect for both athletes and weight lifters alike, because it not only stretches the muscles but also helps incorporate a warm-up at the same time due to the movement that is involved. Two for one! No more thinking it’s a time waster (which it isn’t). 😉

 

So let’s clarify why it’s important to incorporate dynamic stretches and how they can help our performance. This way of stretching and moving tells our body that something is coming in terms of a workload being placed upon our bodies and we are better able to prepare for the challenges. It helps get our blood pumping, raises our core temperature and helps to eliminate and reduce muscle stiffness that we may experience. The muscles get flooded with blood and oxygen to help them perform at a higher level in sports and a workout plan. It helps our muscle fibers and connective tissue to become more flexible and improve our overall range of motion.

Not only these, but dynamic stretching also increases our power. A very important aspect to an athlete who needs to utilize explosive movements in their game, or a powerlifter who needs to exert explosive forces against a weight in order to perform and complete an exercise or lift.

I’ve been incorporating this type of warm-up in my clients’ workouts; both online and in person. It’s important to correlate the stretching movements with the workload that will be done. It would be a waste of our valuable time if we focused on upper body stretches only when our training that day involves running and lower body movements. My son played football last year in high school and told me how they warmed up with dynamic stretches. For these athletes, it’s important to incorporate both upper and lower body in their dynamic stretches. Here are some excellent benefits to adding dynamic stretches into your routine:

  • it increases flexibility
  • it increases our range of motion
  • in increases blood flow and body temperature
  • it increases our power output capabilities
  • it helps increase our endurance
  • it improves neuromuscular activation
  • it helps to improve our balance
  • it improves our coordination
  • it decreases our risk of injury

All winning benefits in my book! 😉

So now that you know what it is and why it’s important, let’s talk about how you can add it into your routine. I’ll give you a 3-step process to follow for best results in your next workout:

  1. Warm-up first for about 5 minutes on a machine or you can go for a walk, jog or even light cycling.
  2. Incorporate some dynamic moves based on the work you are getting ready to perform.
  3. Start your workout.

Easy! Now, what the heck are some dynamic moves anyway, right? (thought you’d never ask!) Here is a great video that shows both upper and lower body dynamic stretches. It also gets you warmed up, as you’ll see!

Let’s get started! Need some help with your training and goals? Let’s see if we can work together on some goal setting and success. Just fill in this application and I’ll be in touch shortly!

Stretching: Is it worth the time?

We’ve all heard how important stretching is. It’s been preached about forever and a day. I remember high school gym teachers would run us through some static stretches and that was a loooong time ago! 😉

All joking aside, stretching truly IS all that it’s cracked up to be and yet not everyone does it.

Why? It seems that many people feel it’s not as important as the all powerful ‘workout’ and it is just a waste of valuable time when there is so much to do in a day. Or maybe, it’s viewed as a practice for people who like to do yoga and or need to relax?

Maybe. While these can definitely seem true, it’s still critical to our goals to stretch but not in the way we’ve learned a million years ago in high school! (disclaimer: if you are in high school today and reading this, you might still be doing static stretching as my son has said and he’s in high school today)

 

Anywho (this word cracks me up because it makes absolutely NO sense and yet so many people use it), let’s talk about adding in some dynamic stretching into your program to see how valuable this is to your training. Maybe you don’t know what this is? Totally okay, because I’m here to help 😉

Dynamic stretching is exactly what the name implies. You are actually moving and involving the muscles for the stretch to take place. Static stretching is where you hold a stretch and breath for a given amount of time. (yes, kind of like yoga but not really). Dynamic stretching is perfect for both athletes and weight lifters alike, because it not only stretches the muscles but also helps incorporate a warm-up at the same time due to the movement that is involved. Two for one! No more thinking it’s a time waster (which it isn’t). 😉

 

So let’s clarify why it’s important to incorporate dynamic stretches and how they can help our performance. This way of stretching and moving tells our body that something is coming in terms of a workload being placed upon our bodies and we are better able to prepare for the challenges. It helps get our blood pumping, raises our core temperature and helps to eliminate and reduce muscle stiffness that we may experience. The muscles get flooded with blood and oxygen to help them perform at a higher level in sports and a workout plan. It helps our muscle fibers and connective tissue to become more flexible and improve our overall range of motion.

Not only these, but dynamic stretching also increases our power. A very important aspect to an athlete who needs to utilize explosive movements in their game, or a powerlifter who needs to exert explosive forces against a weight in order to perform and complete an exercise or lift.

I’ve been incorporating this type of warm-up in my clients’ workouts; both online and in person. It’s important to correlate the stretching movements with the workload that will be done. It would be a waste of our valuable time if we focused on upper body stretches only when our training that day involves running and lower body movements. My son played football last year in high school and told me how they warmed up with dynamic stretches. For these athletes, it’s important to incorporate both upper and lower body in their dynamic stretches. Here are some excellent benefits to adding dynamic stretches into your routine:

  • it increases flexibility
  • it increases our range of motion
  • in increases blood flow and body temperature
  • it increases our power output capabilities
  • it helps increase our endurance
  • it improves neuromuscular activation
  • it helps to improve our balance
  • it improves our coordination
  • it decreases our risk of injury

All winning benefits in my book! 😉

So now that you know what it is and why it’s important, let’s talk about how you can add it into your routine. I’ll give you a 3-step process to follow for best results in your next workout:

  1. Warm-up first for about 5 minutes on a machine or you can go for a walk, jog or even light cycling.
  2. Incorporate some dynamic moves based on the work you are getting ready to perform.
  3. Start your workout.

Easy! Now, what the heck are some dynamic moves anyway, right? (thought you’d never ask!) Here is a great video that shows both upper and lower body dynamic stretches. It also gets you warmed up, as you’ll see!

Let’s get started! Need some help with your training and goals? Let’s see if we can work together on some goal setting and success. Just fill in this application and I’ll be in touch shortly!

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!