Training for the status quo | fitness after 40

A couple of weeks ago a fellow gym-goer asked me what I was training for.

She’d noticed that I lift heavy, 3-4 days each week and that I’d been consistently upping my weights, in particular on my rows (not stalker-ish; she’s quite interested in developing her back, so she pays attention to these things).

Was I training for a weight lifting competition? Nope (this made me giggle)

To build bigger muscles? Not particularly (although that Tricep score my Skulpt Aim gave me is bugging me just a bit 😉 )

SkulptAim_May5_2015

I could have sworn my triceps were stronger than this…

To lose weight or lean out? Nah, I’m pretty happy with my body the way it is (i.e., I’m not interested in doing what it takes to drop 3 or 4% more body fat…)

To improve my performance in another sport? Perhaps, if you consider life to be a sport (have you seen my new tag line?)

My lack of appropriate response clearly confused her, so I tried to explain that my primary reason for exercising consistently and progressively is to continue being able to perform all the activities I love, pain-free and for a long time to come.

That is, I train to stay pretty much the way I am. And when I look around at the mostly healthy-looking people in my gym, I don’t think that I’m alone.

I guess you could call it training for the status quo.

Note that this isn’t a case of simply running to stay in place (a la the Red Queen)…

Alice and the Red Queen

“It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”, said the Red Queen to Alice

It’s running to NOT end up in a worse place :-)

Training for the status quo has myriad benefits (especially for those of us who aren’t 20 anymore…)

Why I train for the status quo

  • maintain or increase metabolism; As we get older, muscle mass is both harder to create and harder to maintain due in part to a reduction in the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. With declining muscle mass comes a reduction in basal metabolic rate. Hence the increased challenge of keeping midlife pounds at bay. Progressive resistance strength training encourages muscle growth and allows me to continue eating (most of) the foods I enjoyed in my 20’s and 30’s without gaining (very much) weight.
  • health is more than how you look; It’s not just what you see that’s important; how things are working ‘under the hood’ is a strong predictor of future health and longevity. Training for the status quo can help improve many of the health markers your doctor is watching; cholesterol, blood pressure, lung capacity, heart rate and stroke volume, to name a few.

Like ‘eating for maintenance’, training for the status quo isn’t sexy.

But it’s a heck of a lot better than the alternative…

Does the phrase ‘training for the status quo’ make you think of a hamster wheel? Or do you see the benefits of exercising simply for the benefits of exercising?

 

training for the status quo

 

6 tips to build your confidence in the gym

Many of the women I teach and train confess to being more than a tad uncomfortable in the gym. Particularly when working out by themselves.

Some common responses to my query as to what, in particular, makes them feel uncomfortable?

  • I don’t know how the equipment works
  • I’m not sure which exercises I should do
  • The free weights section is in the middle of the room; everybody will be watching me
  • I’ll do something wrong and look stupid
  • I’m self-conscious about my body
  • I just don’t feel like I belong in there with all those fit, young people

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Recruiting a friend to be your ‘exercise buddy’ is a great solution (check out these tips for creating the perfect fitness partnership).

However, there will be days when your training partner isn’t available and you’ll be faced with the decision to either ‘go it alone’ or cancel your workout entirely. Choose the latter too often and you’ll be hard-pressed to see the results of your sporadic efforts…

Looking to feel more at home in the weight room? Try the following suggestions to build your confidence in the gym
  • Make a plan. Know exactly what you’ll be doing before you get to the gym. You can find free workouts in books, magazines and websites (here’s a whole page of free workouts I’ve created just for readers like you). Choose one, print it out and pack it in your gym bag to reference at the gym.
  • Choose a quiet time to train. Call or visit the gym in advance to find the least busy time of day to train. At most gyms, early mornings, late afternoons and evenings are when equipment is most in demand. If your schedule allows it, plan for a late morning or early afternoon workout. You’re likely to have the place to yourself (or at the very least, not be surrounded by 20-year old males flexing and grunting and taking selfies 😉 ).
  • Adopt a ‘gradual entry’ approach. Start by tagging 10 minutes in the gym onto your regular group fitness class. Ask your instructor (or the weight room attendant in the gym) for three gym exercises you can do either right before class or immediately after. Once you get comfortable with those exercises (and with the gym itself), add another three exercises to your routine.
  • Carve out a corner. Keep your eye out for less-congested areas of the gym. Collect all the equipment you’ll need for your workout and claim your space. Corners are a great place for people who are concerned about others watching them. Plus, having all of your equipment in one place means a quicker workout.
  • Practice new moves at home. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are with strength training, the first few times you perform a new exercise you’ll always feel awkward and conspicuous (Turkish getups anyone?). Before you debut them at the gym, practice new moves at home and ideally, in front of a mirror. Not only will you improve your form, you’ll also realize that you don’t look nearly as silly as you thought you might.
  • Find a back-up fitness buddy. If you tend to always go to the gym at the same time of day, you’ve likely noticed others that share your preferred workout time. You may even have started to smile or say ‘hello’ to them in greeting. Chances are that at least one of them is feeling exactly the same as you and would appreciate having an occasional workout partner for accountability and motivation.

You’ll never know if you don’t ask. At the very least, you can exercise next to them and pretend that you’re working out together 😉

Have you ever suffered from a crisis of confidence in the weight room?

How did you build your confidence in the gym?

Overcoming obstacles to exercise and healthy eating

One of the favorite topics of discussion in my online women’s fitness training group is obstacles to exercise and healthy eating. It seems like one of us is always struggling with making healthy choices in the face of circumstances, seemingly out of our control.

obstacles to exercise and healthy eating

This is my kind of obstacle course!

Common roadblocks to consistently following an exercise routine and sensible meal plan include (but aren’t limit to…);

  • special events (I can’t say no to cake and wine at my best friend’s birthday party)
  • poor sleep or low energy (the dog was sick and kept me up half the night, I can’t possibly get to the gym today)

The underlying theme being that, anything other than our normal, well-controlled environment tends to result in going off-plan.

The thing is, only rarely are we ever in that ‘normal, well-controlled’ environment.

I don’t know about you, but my life is one big variety show/circus.

Each week is different from the last, presenting it’s own unique set of challenges to stay true to my fitness routines and goals.

It seems to me that rather than creating structure around exercise and nutrition, we really need to learn the dual arts of adaptability and resiliency.

Adaptability is the art of making due with what you have. No access to the gym? Head to the playground. Cable and pulley machine taken? Sub out a similar exercise that only requires dumbbells. Only burgers and fries on the menu? Go ‘bun’-less and ask for extra carrot sticks.

Resiliency is the ability to rebound quickly after a set-back. Beer and chips and s’mores at the weekend’s Cub camp? Eggs and veggies for breakfast on Monday. Back from an ‘exercise-free’ holiday? Schedule your workouts for the next two weeks as soon as you’re back.

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Rebounder fitness is so fun!

There will always be obstacles to navigate. The trick is to remember the end game.

And to remind ourselves that no one can force us to do something we don’t want to do.

In the words of a very wise friend (and member of my online training community);

In the end, the only one who controls my destiny is me

This week, I challenge you to recall these words whenever you find yourself facing an obstacle to exercise or healthy eating. 

Motivating fitness mentors for over-40 females

Last weekend I did a ‘cleanse’.

Not the type of cleanse you’re probably thinking (if you know me at all, you’ll know that ‘detoxes’ and food ‘cleanses’ are not exactly my thing 😉 ).

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A social media cleanse.

As a fitness professional, blogger and freelance writer who’s fairly active on social media, I subscribe to a lot of fitness and nutrition websites. I also  ‘follow’ a ton of Facebook pages and Twitter and Instagram accounts. Mostly to stay on top of the latest research and trends in my field but also because I too, seek motivation and inspiration from other fitness mentors. (Trainers need trainers too, right?).

The thing is, despite the daily deluge of emails and the speed with which my Facebook news stream updates with ‘fresh’ material, only a small proportion of the content delivered to me actually serves its purpose; to educate, motivate and inspire.

Instead, I found myself confused by contradictory and misleading information. Should I run or lift weights if I’m trying to lose weight? fasted cardio; yes or no? 

Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of exercise and nutrition advice. Everybody’s an expert (with or without credentials) and no two experts ever seem to agree…

Shamed and angered by the “what’s your excuse?” memes. If my priorities differ from yours does that make them ‘excuses’?

And weary of seeing photos of chiseled and buff 25-year old abs-in-training for a fitness competition. After three pregnancies, this almost 48 year-old will never see abs like those again and doesn’t believe they have anything to do with her level of fitness or self-worth. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with fitness competitions or bikini shots, if that’s your thing 😉

I realized that much of the content I was seeing was not written with me in mind. An intelligent, educated 47-year old mother of three who works both in and out of the home, enjoys exercise as much as she enjoys chocolate and craft beer and aims to fit fitness into her life, rather than life around the gym…

fitness mentors for over-40 females

Why yes, I did sample them all!

It didn’t address my goals. To remain strong, healthy, vital and energetic and be able to enjoy the physical activities I love for a long time to come. 

It didn’t jive with my fitness philosophy. Find a form of exercise you enjoy and do it consistently and progressively, with just enough intensity to move you toward your goals.

It didn’t support the body image mindset I’ve worked hard to cultivate. Exercise and eat well because you love how it makes you feel, not because you hate the way your body looks.

So I purged. And cleansed. And deleted. And un-followed.

Until I was seeing just the things that lifted me up, made me laugh and generally, reinforced my worldview.

My own personal list of fitness mentors for over-40 females.

Below you’ll find seven of the women that made the cut (there were many more; I’m not that ruthless.. 😉 ). I hope that you find a little motivation and inspiration in this list AND will share your favourite health and fitness mentors in the comments section at the end of the post.

  • Fun and Fit twins Alexandra Williams and Kymberly Williams-Evans – Using wit and wisdom, Alexandra and Kymberly share their life-long love of movement and exercise, uniquely tailored to mid-lifers and baby boomers (AND they teach group step; what’s not to love?).
  • Meg Root of Wellness Feels Good – Meg’s whole-person approach to fitness and wellness and her focus on making small choices to help move you towards your goals resonates with this busy mom (who sometimes is challenged with prioritizing herself…).
  • Go Kaleo’s Amber Rogers – Her tagline says it all, “Sanity in health and fitness”. Strong and outspoken against ‘fitspiration’ photos (#takebackfitspo ), Amber is a woman I’d LOVE to work out with!
  • Josie Maurer of Yum Yucky – Any woman who has four kids, loves to cook, bake and eat and still finds time to create and share fun workouts with her followers is a woman after my own heart. Her Facebook posts almost always brighten my day; thanks Josie!
  • Carla Birnberg and Roni Noone both individually and more recently, as co-authors of the soon-to-be-released book “What You Can When You Can – Healthy Living on Your Terms” – #wycwyc is more than a hashtag, it’s a movement, a mindset, and a lifestyle aimed at harnessing the power of small steps (small but CONSISTENT steps, right 😉 ). And the trailer for the book? Too fabulous not to share…

 

If YOUR list of fitness mentors for over-40 women includes Fitknitchick you’ll want to add your name to my email list. It’s the only way to ensure you never miss a post and stay ‘in the loop’ about my upcoming program offerings!

3 weeks to new fitness and nutrition habits | The 21-Day ‘Re’-Bootcamp

new fitness and nutrition habits - fitknitchick.comWe all start new exercise programs with the highest of hopes. Hopes that this time we’ll actually enjoy working out. Hopes that nothing will ‘come up’ and get in the way of our workouts. Hopes that that old college injury won’t flare up again. Hopes that finally, this time around, exercise will ‘stick’.

Sticking with an exercise and nutrition plan requires that you create new habits and develop new mindsets. Healthy new habits to replace the old habits that are no longer serving you. Positive new mindsets that acknowledge the non-scale related benefits of exercise and clean eating.

Most people who start a new exercise program fail to make it to the third week. Often times, they start off with a bang. Ambitious exercise schedules are created and complete diet overhauls planned. After missing a workout or three and succumbing to an evening of beer and chips they give up, convincing themselves that this wasn’t the right time to start a new program and that next month will be different.

In order to succeed, people needed assistance with consistency, motivation and forming new habits around exercise and nutrition.

That’s why I’ve created the 21-Day ‘Re’-Bootcamp. A downloadable, self-paced exercise and nutrition program to help you build new fitness and nutrition habits.

 

new fitness and nutrition habits - fitknitchick.com

 

The program’s mission? To help both newcomers to exercise and those returning to it after injury, illness or plain old ‘time off’, develop new fitness and nutrition habits. Habits that will in turn, help them in their desire to become long-term, independent exercisers.

The program is 3 weeks in length and includes:
  • weekly workouts; 2 strength, 2 cardio and one flexibility (each with two different levels of difficulty/intensity; one for beginners and one for intermediate exercisers), illustrated descriptions of all exercises and a blank, downloadable template to record workout details on
  • daily emails; for accountability, motivation and inspiration (it’ll be just like I’m perched on your shoulder encouraging you to re-commit daily)
  • nutritional information; information about healthier food choices, macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats), portion sizes and meal planning (note that this program does not include a personalized meal plan)
  • recipes; some of my favourites as well as links to Pinterest boards I’ve created to support the nutritional needs of regular exercisers
  • a support group; participants can meet and share their experiences with the program in an ‘invite-only’ Facebook group (as this is a ‘stand-alone’ program, I do not offer individualized coaching to participants, but do check into the Facebook group every few days to see what’s happening)

Note that this program is self-paced. No need to wait for an official start day. You start the program when you want, with the first email arriving in your inbox within a day of registration.

RegisterNow

For more information about the program, what past and current participants of my online programs have to say about me and a link to the registration form click through to the following pages;

Questions? Feel free to email me directly (tgrand@telus.net) with any questions or concerns you have about the program.

But please don’t ask ‘will this program work for me’; my standard answer to this question is ANY program will work for just about ANY body, as long as they’re willing to commit to the process…

 

RegisterNow

Calories burned during exercise | should you include them when you track food?

Whenever I start working with a new client whose primary goal is weight loss, I assign her the task of food tracking. Before I can suggest changes to her diet, I need to know what she’s currently eating.

calories burned during exercise

An exemplary client ;-)

 

Most of my clients use online food tracking software, with MyFitnessPal being the most popular choice, by far. Because MFP also allows users to ‘earn’ extra calories via exercise, the question ‘Should I track the calories burned during exercise?’ inevitably arises.

The question is a good one because weight loss depends on creating a net caloric deficit; to lose weight, one must consume fewer calories than are expended during the day. (Typically, a 500 calorie a day calorie deficit will result in a one pound weekly weight loss).

In a perfect world, where accurate measures of caloric intake and expenditure are available to all, my answer would be;

Yes! Track your workouts with as much care as you track your food and adjust your daily net calorie intake in a way that’s sustainable, well above your basal metabolic rate and on track for a 1-2 pound per week weight loss.

Because we live in a world full of imprecise estimates and frequently invalid assumptions, however,  I typically recommend that newcomers to food tracking focus solely on the ‘calories consumed’ part of the equation (at least until we’ve obtained enough information to create a weight loss plan).

[If food tracking makes you crazy or you aren’t sure how to get started, click through to read last week’s post “Food Tracking Tips: Lose Weight Without Losing Your Sanity”]

Why? People have a tendency to underestimate the number of calories they consume (think that was really just a tablespoon of peanut butter? did you measure it? if not, I bet it was more…) and over-estimate the number of calories burned during exercise (especially if they use the estimates displayed on most cardio machines or reported in standard ‘calories burned during exercise’ tables).

Once food tracking is well-established (and perhaps only used periodically to ‘check-in’) and exercise has become a regular part of a client’s day, the question of whether to measure and incorporate calories burned during exercise into the daily energy plan becomes relevant for two reasons;

  • to ensure that she’s not eating fewer calories than required by her body for daily maintenance (known as ‘basal metabolic rate’ or BMR) and
  • to determine how many calories can actually be consumed while still losing weight.

The first is important because long-term under-eating tends to undermine weight loss via it’s lowering of the body’s rate of calorie burn. Eating below BMR teaches the body to conserve energy and be all-too-eager to store excess calories as fat (when one inevitably returns to a more ‘normal’ pattern of eating).

The second is important because cutting calories is challenging enough without feeling ‘hangry’. If exercise allows you to consume an extra 200 calories a day and still lose weight in a safe and sustained manner, why deprive yourself?

calories burned through exercise

Tell me that I’m not the only one who’s felt this way…

 

The challenge now? To actually figure out how many extra calories you can eat in a day, as a consequence of exercise.

Many users of online trackers simply use the options provided to them by the tool itself. For example, MyFitnessPal allows you to choose from a list of exercise activities (both strength and cardiovascular), indicate how long you performed the activity and provide details about reps, sets and loads (for strength workouts) before giving you an estimate of calories burned during exercise.

tracking calories burned during exercise

Just a few of the options MyFitnessPal provides for tracking your workouts

 

There are several difficulties with this approach:

  • estimates are just estimates and may not apply to you. Online calorie trackers typically  consider only your weight and the duration of an activity to generate an estimate of caloric expenditure. This estimate is based on the average number of calories burned by thousands of other similar-weight people performing the same activity for the same duration. Without knowing the error of the estimate (a statistical term that should be provided for all averages…), you can’t know how wildly your actual calorie expenditure might differ from the published value.
  • Exercise intensity is rarely considered  and when it is, it’s measured subjectively. Most of the activities included have generic, intensity-free labels; ‘Running’, ‘Yoga’, ‘Spinning’ (and my personal favourite, ‘Wii Bowling’). When intensity-modifiers are included, it’s up to the user to decide whether their activity was ‘moderate’ or ‘vigorous’. As a Bootcamp instructor, I know that one person’s ‘vigorous’ is another person’s ‘light’ (especially when it comes to Burpees and Box jumps…). And I bet that my definition of ‘light housekeeping’ is substantially ‘lighter’ than yours 😉
  • calories burned during strength training depend on more than just sets, reps and load. Depending on the amount of rest time between sets, the tempo of the lifts and whether the workout has triggered an ‘afterburn’ effect (that is, whether they’ll continue to burn calories at a rate higher than usual for the remainder of the day), strength training can be more or less energetically costly than indicated by published tables and online calculators.

Rather than have my clients (inaccurately) estimate the number of calories they burn during each and every workout (and potentially undermine their weight loss goals), I prefer to individually tailor their daily recommended calorie intake to their weekly workout frequency and intensity.

I do this by;

1. calculating BMR (you can calculate your own here >> MyFitnessPal’s BMR calculator; MFP uses the Mifflin-St. Jeor equations to estimate BMR which is believed to be more accurate than the more commonly used Harris-Benedict equation)

2. calculating daily caloric needs based on weekly workout frequency and intensity (you can calculate your own here >> ACE’s Daily Caloric Requirement calculator. I typically generate two values for this number; one using the client’s reported weekly workout frequency and intensity and the second using the multiplier for a slightly less intense workout week, just in case 😉  ).

3. comparing both numbers and choosing a value somewhere between the client’s BMR and Daily Caloric requirement that’s in line with their weight loss goals. I have my client enter this number in MFP (or whatever tracker they’re using), over-riding the program’s calculated daily calorie goal (not sure how to do this? see the imbedded video at the bottom of the post for a quick tutorial). We then work towards this target for a few weeks, paying attention to energy levels, feelings of hunger and satiety, quality of sleep and measurable weight loss. If need be, we alter it by 100 calories or so and repeat.

While this approach isn’t error-free, it fits nicely with my general approach to fitness and nutrition;

Figure out the smallest possible change you can make and still see results.

Not to mention all the time it’ll free up by saving you from having to enter your daily workouts in your food tracking software!

Do you account for calories burned during exercise in your food tracker?

Do you find that knowing how many calories you burned during exercise tempts you to ‘eat back your calories plus more’?

Not sure how to change your daily goals in MyFitnessPal? Watch the short clip below (and note that I’ve also indicated a way to change macronutrients too), then ‘Subscribe’ to my YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on my video offerings!

Using the stages of change model to adopt new fitness and nutrition habits

Change is hard.

Whether it’s getting started with exercise, cleaning up your diet or giving your website a facelift (hint, hint…), changes worth making don’t happen overnight.

stages of change

And the best way to start implementing change depends on how ready you are to make it.

Despite all the motivational social media memes telling you to ‘just do it’ and ‘stop making excuses’.

And the best intentions of friends telling you that ‘the only workout you’ll ever regret is the one you didn’t do’ and that you should just ‘pull up your big girl panties’ and get on with it.

If you’re not truly ready to make change, you can’t and you won’t. It has nothing to do with willpower or excuses or fortitude and everything to do with mindset and mental preparedness.

The transtheoretical model of behaviour change (also know as the ’ stages of change’ model) is used by counsellors, psychologists and fitness professionals alike (including yours truly…) to assess an individual’s readiness to act on new behaviours. By knowing which stage of change (Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance) a person is currently in, we can identify strategies that are relevant, appropriate and most likely to be successful at guiding them towards action.

If you’re struggling with starting a new exercise program or making changes to your nutrition plan, take a minute and read the descriptions of the five stages of change below. Check out the suggestions I have for actions you can take at each stage to help you move forward and beyond the stage you’re currently stuck at. You can use these same suggestions to help a friend who’s been trying to improve their fitness and health as well!

Stages of Change

Stage 1: Precontemplation (Not Ready)

‘Precontemplators’ have no intention of altering their behaviour in the near future. In fact, many are unaware that change would benefit them at all! I don’t tend to see very many people in this stage of change; they aren’t typically the ones looking to hire a personal trainer :-)

If you suspect that you’re stuck in Precontemplation (it’s actually tough to self-assess this one…), focus on educating yourself about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating. Work on becoming more mindful of the choices you’re making right now and focus on the consequences of your actions. Begin to notice patterns between behavioural choices and how they make you feel.

Currently in stage 1? You might find these posts helpful >>>

 Stage 2: Contemplation (Getting Ready)

‘Contemplators’, while more aware of the benefits of making a change than ‘Precontemplators’, are still relatively ambivalent about taking action in the very near future. While they’re usually aware of the benefits of change, they still see as many ‘cons’ as ‘pros’. Moving forward requires encouragement to reduce the ‘cons’ of changing their behaviour.

If you’ve been ‘Contemplating’ starting a new exercise or nutrition program for six months or longer, your best chance of success is to surround yourself with people who have already made the change you desire for yourself. Spend time with friends who are physically active and interested in healthy eating. Ask for (and be receptive to) their encouragement. Identify the hurdles (both physical and mental) that are keeping you from getting started and actively work to eliminate them.

Stage 3: Preparation (Ready)

People at this stage are ready to start taking action, typically within the next month or so. They’re willing to take small steps that they believe can help them make the healthy behavior a part of their lives.

For example, they may tell their friends and family that they want to change their behaviour. They may join a gym or start a Pinterest board of healthy recipes. They might start reading nutrition labels and going for a daily walk. Most of my new clients are in the ‘Preparation’ stage. Reaching out to a fitness professional is often one of the first action steps they take.

If you find yourself in ‘Preparation’ mode, let other people know. Sharing your plans with trusted friends increases your chances of success. Identify one or two small changes you know you can be successful with. Think about possible roadblocks to success and map out a plan for dealing with setbacks.

The number one concern at this stage is fear of failure. Have a plan in place for those inevitable days when you miss a workout or ‘mess up’ your nutrition plan. The more prepared you are, the greater your chances of success.

Does stage three sound familiar? One-on-one health coaching is perfect for you >> Online Fitness Coaching with Fitknitchick

Stage 4: Action

If you’ve already started implementing small changes and are ready to keep moving ahead, you’re well into the ‘Action’ stage. The biggest challenge you face is fighting the urge to slip back into old behaviour patterns. Strengthening commitments to exercise and healthy eating are super important, as is understanding your ‘why’ (the real reason you want to make changes to your behaviour).

People in this stage progress by being taught techniques for keeping up their commitments such as substituting activities related to the unhealthy behaviour with positive ones, rewarding themselves for taking steps toward changing, and avoiding people and situations that tempt them to behave in unhealthy ways.

Action takers; surround yourself with like-minded women. Join my online monthly group training program for 40+ females >> #40plusfitness Group Training

Stage 5: Maintenance

Once you’ve mastered ‘Action’ and regular exercise and healthy eating have been part of your daily routine for at least six months, you’ve entered the ‘Maintenance’ stage. At this point, it’s important to be aware of the types of situations that may tempt you to slip back into old behaviour patterns. For example, stressful times at work, fights with loved ones, social events with certain friends or family vacations.

Again, anticipating challenges, being able to identify them when they occur and planning an appropriate response in advance can keep you from slipping back into old habits and previous stages of change.

Which ‘stage of change’ are you currently in, with respect to fitness and nutrition?

What’s keeping you from moving forward? Share your ‘obstacles’ and ‘roadblocks’ below.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the changes I’ve recently made to my website (including stepping out from behind the caricatures in my old header and presenting my bold, energetic self to the world 😉 ), check out this Vimeo reel documenting the photo shoot I participated in at phoTobin Photography.

A PDA: Tamara’s website redesign from phoTobin photography on Vimeo.

How to stay on track while your trainer’s on vacation

*** Note that the tips in this post apply equally well to the absence of your favourite group fitness instructor and/or your regular workout buddy.

It never fails. You’ve just gotten into a groove with exercise. You’re hitting the gym several times a week and starting to see and feel the results of your efforts.

Then, out of nowhere, your personal trainer (or favourite group fitness instructor or regular workout buddy) goes on holidays.

While you might be inclined to take the week off yourself, there are plenty of ways to stay on track while your trainer’s on vacation.

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  • Pretend she’s there and keep your usual appointment. You know your way around the gym. And while you might miss her coaching (and charming personality 😉 ), there’s no reason why you can’t perform your usual routine on your own. Remember, one of her goals is to someday, turn you into an independent exerciser!
  • Ask her to create a special program for you to do in her absence. Have her include all of your favourite exercises (avoiding movements that require significant cueing) in an easy-to-follow circuit. If you feel confident about your ability to execute the program, you’re much more likely to do it.
  • Find somebody else to train with. This might be another trainer at your gym (a colleague and I regularly step in for each other when the other’s away from the gym and a client isn’t quite ready to train on their own), a friend or just a friendly face from the gym. Reach out to the woman who trains at the same time as you do and see if she might appreciate some exercise company. Read these suggestions for making partner training a success.
  • Try a group fitness class instead. If you’d really rather not set foot in the gym on your own, findan appealing sounding group fitness class and give it a try. Bootcamp, Circuit Training and Body Sculpt classes are all great alternatives to your usual gym workout. (If it’s your group fitness instructor who’s away, go to her class always; I bet she’s arranged a fantastic sub for you 😉 ).
  • Relax. Worse case scenario? You substitute daily walks for your strength workouts and skip the gym entirely while she’s gone. If you’ve been consistent with your workouts for any length of time, a week away isn’t likely to result in much loss of progress. And she’ll be relieved to know that she’s not the only one who’s hurting a bit the first day back…

Share your best strategies for dealing with a vacation-induced training hiatus…

Three Simple Feel-Good Steps to Conquering Consistency {guest post}

Today I have a special treat for you.

A guest post written by my friend and fellow fitness professional and wellness advocate, Meg Root. Meg and I ‘met’ (virtually of course, isn’t that how we’re all meeting these days?) on Facebook by way of our mutual friends Kymberly and Alexandra of Fun and Fit.

We are kindred spirits in fitness philosophy and the route we’ve taken to get there. Her approach to fitness is Accessible, Actionable and Achievable (in keeping with the Alliterative theme of her post…) and ‘Fitknitchick-approved’!

Just like you, I’m a big Fitknitchick fan! {aw shucks, thanks Meg…}

I loved Tamara’s recent post, “Everything You Need to Know About Being a Fitness Success.” Even a seasoned wellness pro like myself benefits from a friendly reminder that there’s no magic bullet for achieving our goals, and that most reasonable approaches work if we stick with them long enough.

Consistency. That was at the heart of Tamara’s message.

That scary “C” word that dangles out in front of us like the proverbial carrot on a stick. The closer we get to it with all our goal setting, program planning, and positive can-do attitude, the further away it slips, pushed by sick kids, overstuffed schedules, and mid-life menopausal mayhem. You even said it yourselves in the comments:

“The consistency part is the tough one.” SR

“Yes, so true! Consistency is key.” Bonnie

“Consistency and realistic expectations above all else.” CF

It’s one of those good news bad news scenarios: Do what you love and the fitness will follow! “Yay, I’ve always hated squats, I can do lunges instead.” But, you need to do it consistently. “Oh yeah, I forgot about that part. I’m too busy this week.”

We all know that until we learn how to nestle consistency inside of crazy—which is life, most of the time—fitness success will always seem out of reach.

That’s why I came up with a few “C’s” of my own to help you stay committed to your fitness journey even in the midst of life’s little (and not so little) interruptions.

This simple system, I call the Three C’s of Wellness, switches up the energy around the healthy choices you need to make, day in and day out, to reach your fitness goals. Instead of viewing them as a chore, or even an item to check off your to-do list before the real fun begins, you tap into the “feel good” potential of your choices, and use that energy to fuel your commitment.

Believe me, solving the crisis of consistency is as easy as 1, 2, 3 . . . Connect. Choose. Celebrate!

Connect

wellness feels goodSet aside your vision of fitness success for just a moment (trust me on this one), and think of a few words that describe how you want to “feel” on a daily basis. Happy? Healthy? Vibrant? Strong? These are some of the “feel-good” words on my list. What’s on yours?

Now, think of something—anything—that makes you feel like those words. Maybe it’s a long, heart pumping run outdoors, or one of Fitknitchick’s challenging Fatblaster workouts. Maybe your workouts don’t take you to that feel good place just yet, and “happy” means a walk on the beach with your family. We can all think of something that makes us feel good. Connecting with the way that energy feels, and bringing it to the choices you make, is the first step to conquering the challenge of consistency. Wellness feels good!

Choose

You make hundreds of choices everyday. Imagine what would happen if you prefaced each one with the question, “What could I do right now to feel happy, healthy, vibrant, strong?” and then made a choice based on that?

wellness feels goodFor example, choosing a breakfast of oatmeal, chia seeds, and blueberries propels me into my day feeling energized and fueled for wellness. Grabbing a muffin and a designer double latte . . . not so much. Sure it’s hard to get to the gym after a long tiring day at work. But you have to admit, getting your body moving has a better chance of reversing feelings of anxiety and fatigue, than plopping down in front of your Facebook feed with a glass of wine. Really, it does!

Begin to NOTICE how each one of your choices either takes you closer to your wellness zone or further away. With practice, you’ll discover that you have more control over the way your life looks and feels than you think.

Celebrate!

When you make a choice that leads to one of those “wellness feels good” moments, Celebrate! Say “Yes!” out loud and pump your fist the way athletes do after making a great play. Don’t laugh—this is based on real science. And it works.

All good habits are validated and strengthened when there is a reward at the end—an acknowledgement that you did well and you’re moving in the right direction. Tapping into the positive energy of wellness makes consistency a no brainer. Feeling good FEELS SO GOOD, you become willing to do anything to hold on to your wellness.

So, Back to Consistency

Connect, choose, celebrate . . . repeat. Filling your life up with “wellness feels good” moments is that simple. And it’s the connection to how good your choices make you feel that keeps you committed in the midst of your crazy busy life.

I agree that striving for fitness success is a healthy, even noble goal. But don’t stop there. Why not shoot for living your best life? That’s what the energy of wellness feels like. It feels good! And when we feel good, we do good—consistently.

wellness feels goodI’d love to hear what your favorite wellness words are, and how you conquer consistency when the pressure is on.

Meg Root loves to write and speak about all things wellness. Her positive, feel-good approach to wellness is a product of years spent living and working at some of North America’s premiere destination spas, where every day feels like a spa day! You can follow her wellness updates on her website, MegRoot.com, Facebook, and Twitter.