Archives for November 2014

Why I don’t want to survive the holidays

The holiday season is upon us.

surviving the holidays

For me, this is what the holidays are truly about.

Every time I turn on the computer I see articles and posts and Tweets about ‘surviving’ it.

Surviving the stress. Surviving the food. Surviving the ‘busy’. Surviving with our waistlines and pocketbooks and sanity intact.

While most of these writers mean well (and are full of tips to help you stay on track with your regular fitness and nutrition plan), I can’t help but feeling sad each time I see the word SURVIVE.

To me, ‘surviving’ means barely keeping my head above water. Doing the have-to’s not the want-to’s. Looking to the future in the hopes that it’ll soon be over. A mindset of endurance rather than abundance.

I don’t want to just survive the holidays. I want to embrace them and enjoy the time spent with family and friends. I want to slow down and be more present.

I want to sample the food and drink that only makes an appearance this time of the year. I want to celebrate and sing and dance without worry and guilt and shame.

And without the need to make New Years Resolutions around fitness and food.

I don’t want to survive the holidays. I want to THRIVE through the holidays.

For me, thriving means:

  • sticking to my regular exercise schedule; exercise helps control appetite and stress and often results in better food choices for the remainder of the day. When I exercise, my body releases a flood of endorphins that make me feel happy and at peace with the world.
  • allowing myself to sample seasonal food and drink without guilt and recrimination; reminding myself that wine and sweet treats are available year-round reduces the need to over-indulge during the holiday season. Remember that it’s not the choices you make between Thanksgiving and New Years that make you gain weight, but the habits your adopt between New Years and Thanksgiving… The key word here is ‘sample’!
  • making sleep a priority; with late night parties and social events increasing in frequency it’s easy to let sleep slide. Yet maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is instrumental in keeping mid-life pounds at bay via its effect on your body’s production of stress hormone. Leaving the party early allows me to always enjoy the morning after.
  • not accepting every invitation I receive; there’s nothing worse than attending a social gathering out of a sense of obligation. Going because you feel like you have to not because you want to. For me, limiting my “yes’s” during the holidays ensures that when I do go out my friends and family get to spend time with ‘happy and engaged’ me. And when I’m happy and engaged, I tend to spend a lot less time near the food and drinks table 😉
I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for ‘thriving’ during the holiday season!

 

 

 

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Tips for getting the most out of your online fitness training program

Online fitness training programs are increasing in popularity. (I know, I happen to run one myself 😉 ).

With more people looking to get fit and many not willing to join a gym, they’re a great solution for both beginners to exercise and long-term exercisers alike.

© Alexmax | Dreamstime.com - Laptop 2 Photo

What’s great about online fitness training programs:
  • affordable (often cheaper than in-person training, especially if it’s a group program)
  • possible to choose the perfect trainer for you (you can get a feel for their personality, approach, area of specialization and training philosophy by simply examining their website)
  • workouts can be loosely customized to your fitness level and goals
  • most offer close to 24/7 support via text, email or social media
  • group programs often have the added bonus of a private forum or chat group, for additional motivation and support
The downside to online fitness training programs:
  • there’s nobody waiting for you at the gym to make sure you get your workout done (that means you need to be a fairly independent exerciser if you want to see results)
  • it’s more challenging to get feedback on proper exercise form (although many programs provide video demo’s to help you figure out how to perform the exercises correctly and some trainers offer Skype sessions to correct form in real time)
  • unless you’re paying for one-on-one programming, you’re unlikely to get a completely personalized program
  • many online training programs offer an individualized meal plan service, even though the trainer isn’t nutrition-certified (and may be working outside of their insured scope of practice)
  • you’ll likely underestimate your abilities and progress yourself more slowly than an in-person trainer would (my female clients always underestimate how much weight they can lift by at least 25% and many would happily stick with the same weight for months and months)

In my experience as both a past participant AND provider of online group training services, I’d like to suggest the following tips for making sure you’re getting the full value of your online training experience.

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Tips for getting the most out of your online fitness training program
  • Do your research. Take the time to seek out a program that meets your needs. If the program requires that you have access to a full-service gym but you prefer to work out at home, you’ve already set yourself up for failure. You’re unlikely to become a gym-lover and it’s pretty hard to modify some exercises for the minimal equipment of many home gyms. Likewise, if it’s a weight loss program for beginners, don’t join up expecting hard-core muscle-building workouts.
  • Get to know the trainer. People who offer online fitness training programs typically do so through their websites. Spend some time checking out the information they share, read their About Me page and peruse samples of the workouts they create.  Follow them on social media and don’t be afraid to reach out and interact with them. Most will be happy to answer your questions and provide more information about the services they provide. It may sound obvious, but make sure they’re a certified fitness professional rather than just a fitness enthusiast… (you want a program based on sound training principles, not just a routine that’s happened to work for somebody else)
  • Try out ‘free’ programs before you spend your money. Many online fitness professionals share free workouts, challenges and ‘mini’-courses with their followers. Use these to ‘check out’ prospective trainers and to more clearly determine your needs in an online fitness training program. (See the bottom of this post for an announcement about an upcoming free program I’ll be offering during the month of December).
  • Commit fully. Once you’ve decided on a trainer and a program, clear your calendar and make that program your top priority. Doing the research and spending the money isn’t going to get you any closer to your health and fitness goals unless you embrace the process. Ever heard the quote “you get out of life what you put into it”? Same principle applies.
  • Participate enthusiastically. One of the biggest draws of online group training is the ready-made support group. Many programs include private forums or Facebook groups for participants to ask questions, motivate and inspire one another and share their successes and frustrations. When you ‘lurk’, reading other comments but never joining in the conversation, you miss one of the most powerful tools for effecting change. Public accountability. Chances are if you’re the type of person who’s drawn to an online training group, at some level you recognize that ‘going it alone’ isn’t working for you. In my experience, there’s a direct and positive correlation between the frequency of posting in the group and an individual’s ultimate success with the program.
  • Give feedback and share the program with your friends. Online fitness program developers crave feedback. We need to know what’s working well in our programs and where we could be doing better. Have a suggestion for your trainer? Don’t be afraid to offer it up (but in a positive way; trainers have feelings too 😉 ). Love the program? Send your trainer a testimonial for them to use on their website and in promotional materials. And don’t forget to share it with your friends. Many online solo-preneurs rely heavily on personal recommendations.

 

 

Have you ever participated in an online fitness training program?

If so, what was your biggest challenge with the program?

 

 

 

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5 reasons quick fixes don’t work

I get it. When we make healthy changes to our diet and start a new exercise program, we want to see results. Sooner rather than later. Next week not next month. And certainly before we go on that beach vacation 😉

As a society, we’re all looking for the ‘quick fix’.

An integral part of my job as a personal trainer is to educate my clients as to why these quick fixes don’t ultimately work.

Notice the word ‘ultimately’.

By ‘ultimately’,  I mean ‘over the long haul’. As in for the rest of your life.

Sure, drastically cutting calories for a week or three might jumpstart your weight loss.

Likewise, joining an online exercise challenge that has you progressing from zero to 100 pushups, pull-ups, squats and crunches in 30 days might be just the incentive you need to head back to the gym.

But what happens at the end of the diet-cleanse-detox-challenge?

Do you maintain the weight loss? Do you stick to your new exercise schedule? Have you suddenly become the type of person who loves to plan and create healthy meals and brags about their PR’s in the gym?

Probably not. (But if you are, CONGRATS! You don’t need to read any further.)

Most of us go back to the exact same pattern of eating and exercising (or not exercising…) as before (and often times before we’ve even finished the challenge…). And sometimes we fool ourselves into doing it all over again because ‘it worked’

Note: if you’re trying the same quick fix over and over again, it’s clearly NOT working for you; it is, however, working for the company or person that you purchased the quick fix from…

That’s because quick fixes may be quick, but they certainly don’t ‘fix’ the underlying problem; our often distorted and unhealthy mindsets around food and exercise.

The best ‘quick fix’?

Starting tomorrow, make one small change in your diet or exercise routine. See if you can sustain it for a week. If so, make another small change in your diet or exercise routine. See if you can sustain both for a week. Repeat over and over and over again until the changes become habits.

It’s not sexy, I know.

But it works. Time and time again.

5 reasons quick fixes don’t work
  • Quick fixes require extreme action. It takes a daily deficit of 750 calories to lose just 1 1/2 pounds a week. Products or programs that promise much more than this require severe caloric restriction. Similarly, going from 0 to 100 pushups/pull ups/squats/crunches requires you to perform pushups/pull ups/squats/crunches daily. More and more pushups/pull ups/squats/crunches as the challenge continues. If you can’t find the time or motivation to make small changes, how can you expect yourself to commit to the extreme action typically required by a ‘quick fix’? Not to mention the metabolic slowdown associated with a low calorie diet or the potential for injury that comes with such a poorly progressed program.
  • Quick fixes prey on insecurities. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about fitness and nutrition. Put three specialists in a room and they’ll all tell you something different. It’s not surprising that many of us feel insecure about our ability to feed and move our bodies in a healthful manner. Quick fixes recognize that we’re unsure of ourselves and love to use emotionally charged ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos to convince us that they know our bodies better than we do.
  • Quick fixes aren’t personalized. We are all unique. A fitness and nutrition plan that works for one person won’t always work for another. That’s why people pay the big bucks (wink, wink) to hire personal trainers and nutritionists to help them achieve their own, unique solutions. Quick fixes are often about making money for the company or individual selling them. Customization takes time and isn’t easily scaled up.
  • Quick fixes don’t educate. I’m a huge believer in education. Want to really change people’s behaviour? Make them understand how current choices are affecting their health and keeping them from reaching their goals. Arm them with information. Explain the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’. Sometimes these lessons need to be repeated several times before the message sinks in. I’ve yet to see a quick fix come with a manual or citation list.
  • Quick fixes aren’t sustainable. While a quick fix might just jumpstart your new fitness and nutrition routine, by virtue of it’s extreme nature, it’s unlikely to be something that you’ll follow for years (or even months) at a time. Taking the time to ‘be your own detective’ and truly figuring out what works best for you is the best way to move towards a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain for the rest of your life.

Have you ever tried a quick fix diet or exercise program? Did it work? Did it help you move forward towards your health and fitness goals? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments section below.

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