Are You Feeling Challenged (Especially now During Covid-19)?

Sometimes we just feel stuck.  Stuck in our discomfort zone feeling sluggish, putting on extra pounds or feeling unmotivated to exercise.  The coronavirus pandemic may have contributed to locking you in this zone – or maybe sticking to a healthier lifestyle has never been your strong point. Whatever the reasons, we’re going to break out and put a new twist on things 

Start now and start small:

Be in the moment and don’t worry about next week or next month, that will only discourage you.  Results are never overnight, despite what others may say or even what you think you see.  It took a long time for people to successfully lose weight, transform their bodies, develop stronger muscles, etc.    – you’re just seeing the end result of many weeks and months and even years of consistent behavior that worked in their favor.

Starting now, when you see an opportunity, take it and do one small step more. Grab a carrot instead of the cake, drink a glass of water before you eat, add one more push up or squat to your set.

Think long term which will include many detours along the way:

Growth never happens in a linear fashion.  There are always ups and downs and side to sides.  To put it bluntly – you did not gain x amount of weight in one month, there is no way to lose it in 30 days.    That’s just not how things work.  It’s unhealthy and unrealistic.  You will have scores of gratifying workouts and successful meals but there will also be days you are hungrier than others and times you will be too tired to lift heavy weights or sprint uphill.  The point is not to outperform each and every moment, but to stay in the game.  Having a clearly defined long term goal can help you get back on track, in the right direction without much delay. 

Get Familiar with the Rules:

It’s all experimental – there is no ONE secret diet plan or workout routine for success.  Getting to know your body and what you need is a process and you are a scientist uncovering the formula to unlock your greatness.  Embrace it.  Yes, there are science backed  researched rules and I highly recommend you follow them, but beyond that it’s your body, emotional health, and lifestyle circumstances that create lasting and healthy changes.  Take the time to discover them.

For example, Rule #1 for losing weight: eat less than you burn.  If you want to lose weight this is the golden rule.  ( I’m only focusing on that right now because if you also want to gain muscle and have a toned body capable of lifting small children in the air while juggling a load of laundry, there are a few more rules – but we can get to that another time).  Knowing this rule, you can apply whatever diet plan works best for you in your experiment of weight loss.

Keeping to a consistent calorie deficit will result in losing weight. Therefore knowing how many calories your body needs at rest, how many calories you burn during your daily activities and the calories burned with exercise is how you determine the amount of calories you need to eat per day and week to either sustain your weight, gain or lose weight.  Seems complicated?  It’s really not – but I bet knowing this concept well will save you from spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars and getting caught in some unhealthy eating patterns.  (Get in touch and I can help you figure this out!)  

Here are the big takeaways:

  1. Stay in the moment and look for opportunities to take small steps towards your goal.
  2. Your body and your health are your own.  Put away your yardstick and stop comparing yourself with others.  It’s usually not an accurate picture anyway.
  3. Use scientific research to back your plan – otherwise, you are liable to get lost on a ride of fad diets and false claims.

I’ll be happy to help you navigate your fitness and nutrition journey towards a more healthful future. 

Sign up for a free discovery call and we’ll schedule a time to chat.

How to keep moving when you‘re not going anywhere!

The ultimate test of endurance is trying to stay fit and healthy while confined to lockdown restrictions.  

Here in Israel, the Passover holiday just ended and after eating matza, meat and chocolate all week, my usual battle cry to shed those extra pounds is to add a brisk walk around the neighborhood each day to my normal strength training workouts.  As we know too well, that’s just not happening.

So what’s my plan?  

Here are a handful of ideas to stay moving during a lockdown.

  1. Gardening.  Oh, how I love manicured gardens bursting with vibrant colors and swaying with life.  What I have is a very large neglected pit with weeds poking out of dirt pebbles in need of time and care.  Perfect! I’ve got the time and I definitely care! To the delight of the children we are planning our garden dreams and each day we’ll work in the garden and move into spring.  
  1. Walking or standing desk.  Ever heard that ‘sitting is the new smoking’?  Many years ago, we graciously accepted a third hand treadmill to turn into a walking desk.  Although it was used a handful of times, never have I been more grateful to have this monstrous piece of metal taking up precious space in our little home.  So instead of running to the shops and walking around town, I hop on the treadmill to put in my steps for the day while writing, working or keeping up with the news.  My desk consists of a wooden shelf, two metal shelf brackets and two yoga blocks that rest against the arms of the treadmill. No treadmill? No worries. Pile up a stack of coffee table books and set them on your kitchen counter or desk and transform it into a standing desk.  Alternatively, you can find an array of such desks online from cardboard standing desks to fully adjustable treadmill desks. Whichever way you choose, make sure they are ergonomically safe. Many websites online can guide you on how to set up your own desk.
  1. Add a movement habit to your routine.   Add 10 ‘jumping jacks’ after you brush your teeth.  Add 10 ‘squats’ before your cup of coffee. Add 10 ‘burpees’ before bed. The idea is to add in a new movement either right before or directly after an existing routine. This is called habit stacking and when you ‘stack’ activities together, you will be more likely to add that in to your daily routine. Any movement will do, just add it in and let it become your new habit.
  1. Floor time with the kids.  Grab the kids and play some active games that keep everyone moving.  Such as a game of tag, imitating animal moves (bear crawls, snake slithering etc.), Simon says or timed treasure hunts that include a lot of bustling around.  Hours of playtime fun for everyone!
  1. Short walks with (or without) the family.  If you’re lucky enough to step outside for fresh air but limited to a certain distance, walk up and down the block.  Schedule turns with members of your family for private time together. 

If you want some more ideas or need some added guidance on how to keep moving, be in touch and schedule a COMPLIMENTARY training session with me!

How to Build a Workout Routine – 4 Simple Steps to Get it Right.

It’s hit us hard. The new reality of waking up each day to much of the same -isolated in the home, with or without a houseful of kiddies, with or without the Passover holiday looming near, we are all in this together yet doing it all alone.  

One way to cope is throw everything we know about fitness and health out the window. A friend sent me a funny meme, I’m giving up eating chocolate for the month.  Wrong punctuation: I’m giving up. Eating chocolate for the month.

Chocolate solves most everything- especially when it is mint chocolate crisp however feasting on chocolate all day makes me irritable and listless, so that seems like it should be off the list of viable options as a mood booster. 

Here’s something else you can try, let’s talk about our workouts.

What workouts you may ask? 

I’m here to convince you that no matter what or who is fighting for your attention, there is always time to workout and for good reason, and I’m going to give you the best advice you’re going to get:

Keep it simple.

That’s right.  Getting in a full workout may be far fetched for many of us – so let’s go easy on ourselves, OK?

We can get a workout, in record time – and super effective, and all it takes is to work four elements.

Think:

Legs

Core

Push

Pull

Work those four elements and you’ve got yourself a well rounded full body strength training routine.  

Here’s how it’s done:

Pick one or two exercises from each list that hit your legs, core, pushing muscles and pulling muscles.  The list ranges from beginner level to intermediate. Pick an exercise you can do for a duration of one minute without rest and move on to the next group.  You can go through the list once, twice or three times for a powerful workout. 

List A

Legs:

Chair sit to stand, bodyweight Squats, 1.5 squats, one legged ‘pistol’ box squats

Core:

Belly breaths, bird dog, dead bug

Push:

Wall/counter push up, ledge or knee push ups, regular push ups

Pull:

Angel against wall, dumbbell row, bodyweight row

To build a more comprehensive program, pick from these additional exercises on this list here and add them into the original list or switch out for more variation.  

List B

Legs:

Standing lunges, alternate leg lunges, toe touch back lunge, side lunges

Core:

Belly breaths with marching, side plank on knees with side knee raise, side plank with leg raise

Push:

Decline push-ups (legs on a stair or couch), push aways, down dog to plank

Pull:

Downward dog scapula presses, reverse snow angels, alternating arm plank row

Aim to strength train 3x times a week.  Here is what your workouts can look like:

Each exercise performed for 60 seconds

Legs:

Bodyweight squat

alternating back lunge

Core:

Belly breaths 

Side plank on knees with side knee raise

Push:

Ledge push ups

Decline push ups

Pull:

Dumbbell row

Reverse snow angel

Optional repeat 

Simple? Yes!  Easy? No, not easy, but just think LEGS, CORE, PUSH, PULL – 4 exercises and you got this one!

In need of some personal attention to your workout routine? Contact me and we’ll tackle it together!

Need to make a change?

We all do, you’re not alone.

Something small, something big, no matter what it is, sometimes we feel like we can’t move an inch.  

So why do we do what we do?  Especially when we don’t want to do those things we do.

Much of the time, our behavior is driven by habits. In fact about 45% of what we do every day feels like a decision, but it’s actually a habit.

Habits make it possible for us to do things without spending an enormous amount of  mental effort. This is not a bad thing – habits make our lives more manageable and efficient. 

However, we also have behaviors we wish we could stop or habits we wish we could start that can contribute to our well being. 

So when we want to make changes in our behaviors,  often we can direct our efforts to changing our habits by creating new ‘good’ habits and eliminating the old ‘bad’ habits.  

There are numerous methods and layers of habit change and  I’ve incorporated many of the ideas from amazing books on behavior and habit change.  Many thanks to authors James Clear of Atomic Habits, Charles Duhigg The Power of Habit and BJ Fogg Tiny Habits for making my habit changing journey such an enjoyable ride!

Although there are a handful of ideas I’d like to share – I’ll start with a simple formula that I keep in mind when I’m looking to make a change:

Be Realistic

Keep it Visible

Reinforce Pleasure

So where do we begin?

First, identify what you would like to change. 

For example, I know that drinking water is really good for me.  Yet by the end of each day, I feel dehydrated and discouraged because although I know staying hydrated has so many health benefits, I don’t drink nearly enough and I feel like a failure because all I needed to do was simply drink more water!

Instead of flexing my motivational muscles or exerting an over extended willpower,  I can set myself up for technical success and incorporate this habit in my daily routine.

Step # 1 – Be Realistic

Start small and make steps easy to accomplish.  If I usually drink a cup of water a day, I’ll gradually increase this amount each day until I’ve reached my goal.  Manageable and realistic goals are doable, over extending your goals can be discouraging.  

Step # 2 – Keep it Visible

Placing a water pitcher prominently on my kitchen counter keeps me focused and accountable.  Just like positioning healthier food items to the front of the refrigerator where they provide a visual cue and therefore more inviting.

Step # 3 Reinforce Pleasure

Anytime I feel good about my choices, I can congratulate myself – Yay!  I did great – I drank the entire pitcher of water today! Further, the following morning I wake up refreshed, my skin feels smooth, my eyes are not puffy and I’m so grateful I don’t see any new wrinkles on my face.  Seeing results is real pleasure!!  

What about getting rid of those bad habits?  Here’s how it works:

For example, I want to stop eating chips and salsa…a food that adds empty calories to my day.

Step #1 – Unrealistic or Impractical

I have to make a special trip to a store several blocks away to get the brand of chips and salsa I like.  It’s not practical for me to get to that store.

Step #2 – Invisible

If it’s not in my house – it’s certainly not visible!  However, even if I do have a supply in the kitchen, I can ask someone to hide it from me or put the chips and salsa high up on a back shelf somewhere so it’s not food I would grab right away.

Step #3 – Reinforce Pleasure

Everytime I pass up on my favorite snack food  – I take pleasure in my accomplishments and say ‘Great job! you ate so well today!”

Try these tips  – and if you want more ideas or to work with me on how to create better habits or change your behavior, get in touch for your complimentary session with me and we’ll tackle it together!

How to Build Stronger, Healthier Bones To Last A Lifetime

Healthy bones get built when we’re young. That means that as children and teens and even into our 20s, what we do matters!  

Impact exercises, like playing soccer, gymnastics, or tennis build up our bones and can significantly help us live healthier lives free from injury while we age.

Did you plan for that?  No? Neither did I. Although this seems like a bleak reality because we can’t turn back time, we can still do so much for our bones – and the time to start is right now!

Bones provide structure, protects organs, anchors muscles and stores calcium; they provide the body with a frame that allows for mobility and for protection against injury. 

Porous bones and bones that are brittle, can break easily from a fall,  a twist or even a sneeze.

Our bones are continuously changing — new bone is made and old bone is broken down.  Although bones stop growing in length when we are about 20 years old, they change shape and thickness and continue accruing mass when stressed (think impact!!).  Bones continue getting denser until they reach what experts call peak bone mass, the point when you have the greatest amount of bone you will ever have and that usually happens between the ages of 18 and 25. The more you have acquired in your ‘bone bank’ at the peak of your bone development, the better chance you have of preventing osteoporosis.

So, is it too late to think about bone health over 40?  What about people in their 50s or 60s? Even if you are getting a late start in the game, all is not lost, in fact, far from it.  At any stage of life, there is always much to do.   

For starters, encourage your children to run, jump and play hard.  Getting the recommended vitamins and minerals in a well balanced diet is important for good bone health too.

Most importantly, there are principles we can incorporate in our fitness and lifestyle routines that serve an important role in safeguarding our health at any age!  

Keep these principles in mind every day and with every workout: **

Strength – strength train three times a week – perform muscle resistance exercises such as lifting weights or bodyweight exercises that get progressively more difficult. 

Impact – everyday strive to perform weight bearing impactful exercises like jumping rope, hoping, skipping or stamping your feet.

Balance – Increase balance with single leg exercises or exercises in tandem positions such as back lunges.

Posture – Always use safe lifting and moving techniques as well as strengthening back and core musculature to achieve proper alignment.

Questions on how to incorporate safe bone building and balance exercises into your daily workout routine?  I would be thrilled to help! Contact me for a complimentary workout session and we’ll tackle it together.

**If you have osteoporosis, current fractures or past fragility fractures, please consult your doctor, physical therapist or a knowledgeable personal trainer before attempting any exercise program.  A doctor should always be consulted to get the go ahead before any exercise program.

How to Calm the Craziness

Crazy times calls for calming ways.

Calming ways we can take care of ourselves in this battle of uncertainty and fear. 

We’re in complete lockdown now and the last time I went on a stress releasing walk was almost two weeks ago. 

I’m missing my walks. 

Walks are my go to exercise after an intense jump rope session, when I don’t feel like working too hard but don’t want to skip a workout, or just need alone time to re-energize. 

For me, spending time outdoors provides a tranquil backdrop that transforms my busy and hectic life into manageable pieces.  So you can imagine that as times get crazier, more hectic and out of control, my need for calming activities revs up.  

Luckily, I have been rediscovering some of my favorite activities that have been doing wonders to calm my nerves.

Here are a few ideas and I hope they will help you too!
Dancing: Ever dance in the middle of your living room with the music blasting? No? Try it.  If you’re a little inhibited by the notion of letting go, get up early in the morning before the kids, draw the blinds, move around some furniture and just go for it.  Think your kids might enjoy a little dance party? Include them and bring on the joy and laughter. 

Rebounding/Jumping: Jumping on a mini trampoline – or as I was fortunate to do yesterday – jump on your mega sized trampoline in your backyard!  A great workout (even better than running- see link below) and a total release of tension! If you don’t have access to a mini trampoline – try jumping rope or doing 100 jumping jacks (you can break it up in smaller sets of 10 or 20). This can definitely do the trick of releasing that stress.

Fascia Stretching – Fascia is our connective tissue – defined as a system that interpenetrates and surrounds all organs, muscles, bones and nerve fibers, endowing the body with a functional structure, and providing an environment that enables all body systems to operate in an integrated manner. Basically, Fascia is responsible for just about everything!  Lift both arms in the air and stretch your fingers apart in a big and strong ‘jazz hand’.  Hold on to one wrist and pull up and slightly over. Hold that stretch for 5-6 ‘belly breaths’ – it only takes a few minutes for some immediate tension release.  Check out my video https://youtu.be/2QDLmj08F18

If you’re new to working out, your current program is not working for you, or the new reality of working out from home seems daunting – schedule your COMPLIMENTARY first workout session with me! 

Tabata – 4 Minutes to Fit

Tabata training is an amazing way to get a total body workout in very little time.

Tabata is a unique form of HIIT, or high-intensity interval training.  If you don’t know about HIIT, it’s a training technique where you perform short bursts of intense exercise at your all out maximum, followed by short periods of active rest. For example, sprinting up hill for 30 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of walking. While interval training has been around for decades and there are no set times for the intervals, Tabata training has set interval times;  20 seconds of intense work, followed by 10 seconds of complete rest for a total of 8 rounds. That’s 4 minutes and that’s it!  

Be warned, it sounds easy, but if you do it right, and push yourself to the limit, it is a very intense, effective and exhausting workout!  So go easy at first and progress into more intensity as your body gets used to the Tabata format and working at its max capacity.  

So here’s how it works:

Traditional Tabata contains only one exercise, such as push ups, and repeating that same exercise throughout the entire set.  However I like to spice up the protocol and use 2-4 different exercises and alternating. It’s less taxing on one muscle group so you don’t get fatigued as quickly therefore your intensity can stay high. In just 4 minutes you can workout your entire body, besides, it’s much more fun when you add variety to the mix.

For a longer workout, just add more sets and a 4 minute workout can be 8 or even 16 minutes long but be very careful not to overdo it and overtrain. Before working out, especially with intense interval training, always check in with your doctor to see if this type of exercise program can be beneficial and safe for you.

Here are my 4 favorite 4 minute Tabata Workouts:

High Energy Warm Up or Cardio Finisher 

20 sec – jumping jacks 

10 sec – rest

20 sec – mountain climbers

10 sec – rest

20 sec – burpees

10 sec – rest

20 sec – high knees 

10 sec – rest

Repeat 

Lower Body

20 sec – squats

10 sec – rest

20 sec – total body extensions or for a more intense level try squat jumps

10 sec – rest

Repeat 4 times

Upper Body

20 sec – ladder push ups 

10 sec – rest

20 sec – renegade rows

10 sec – rest

Repeat 4 times

Full Body Workout

20 sec – push ups

10 sec – rest

20 sec – squats

10 sec – rest

20 sec- plank to push up

10 sec – rest

20 sec – burpees

10 sec – rest

Repeat

There are numerous benefits to a HIIT workout, whether it is to burn fat, increase your anaerobic and aerobic capacities or just because it is a total body workout routine in record time, there are many reasons for you to give it a try.

Not sure about how to implement Tabata in your workouts? Be in touch for a complementary workout session with me!

Note: If you are thinking about attempting Tabata training, I recommend you visit a GP to see if they think it’s right for you.

Why Strength Train? It’s the Best Thing Going!

When you think about exercising…The goal of being strong and lifting weights might not come to mind immediately.  

Instead we’ve been programmed to  think yoga, jogging or swimming laps. 

Lifting two heavy dumbbells over your head seems daunting, scary and unachievable.    

We tend to stick with the familiar, the comfortable and easy, however it might not be the best use of your time. 

Strength training is the key ingredient for your vitality, well being and will give you a list of benefits unparalleled to just cardio exercises alone.

Forget your preconceived notions of bodybuilders lifting weights for hours at a sweaty gym…it does not have to be like that at all.  Resistance training can take as little as 20 minutes and you don’t need any equipment, just your own bodyweight!

So why is strength training superior to steady state cardio exercises (think spinning classes,  treadmills and zumba)?  

  • Build lean muscle mass while losing body fat
  • Decrease your risk of osteoporosis
  • Boosts immune system
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce risk of injury, back pain and arthritis
  • Reduce risk of heart disease
  • Reduce risk of diabetes
  • Releases endorphins which may decrease depression

With all that good stuff, how can we resist?  

Let’s strive to get the biggest bang out of our workout sessions and reap the rewards!

Contact me for a complementary workout session!