Well, here we are just two days shy of the second month of 2020. How’s your January winding down as far as turning those healthy goals into a reality? If you’re still trying to find your groove, hang in there. Remember, it can take up to six whole weeks for habits to take root in our daily behavior. So, don’t give up now! This is a good time to take stock what’s working and what’s not. For example, if you’re more likely to workout in the morning rather than at night, stop stressing out when you don’t get to the gym after work. Instead, embrace that early-bird energy and keep setting your alarm appropriately to make time for that morning endorphin rush.
Keep On Keepin’ On…..
It happened again. I blinked and here we are on the last Motivation Monday of January! Four weeks into 2017, I offer big kudos to everyone sticking with those plans to make this your healthiest year yet.
If you feel like your motivation is starting to wane, here’s a boost to keep you going. In only a couple of weeks, some of the new things you started will feel like part of your daily routine. If you’re discouraged about the number on the scale, forget the numbers and think about how many of these non-scale-related wins you’ve experienced so far this year:
- Do you have more energy?
- Do your clothes fit better?
- Do you see a new glow in your skin?
Remember, healthy living isn’t a sprint. It’s a lifelong marathon and there will be days when even the most disciplined among us stray off course. It’s part of being human. To help you stay on track, I offer three tips to keep in mind for the days, weeks and months ahead:
- Start your day with the right fuel. I believe in the power of a healthy breakfast, but I’m also highly aware of how little time many of us have to even think about scrambling some eggs or waiting around for Ezekiel bread to toast. That’s why I love starting my days with a chocolate Isagenix shake. It takes the guess-work out of determining what will give me the nutrients I need, and I can either make it in the blender or use my portable shaker. Not a shake person? Grab a hard-boiled egg or non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Bonus Tip: adding fresh fruit to your yogurt is a lower-sugar option to the flavored varieties. All of these protein-packed options will keep you full longer than starchy, sugary items like frozen waffles or pancakes.
- Never leave home without healthy snacks. There’s nothing worse than going grocery shopping with a rumbling stomach or being greeted at the shopping mall with the scent of cinnamon tempting your nostrils from the food court. What will you find in my bag? Either a bag of almonds or KIND bar. I love these snacks because they’re yummy and because they contain no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols and provide a balanced combination of healthy fats, protein and complex carbs.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Sure, I’m all about moderation. But I also have a hard time not going overboard when certain temptations are lurking in my kitchen cabinets. That’s why I don’t keep things like cookies or candy in the house. I freely admit I’m incapable of eating just one cookie or one piece of chocolate. (I envy those who can!) If you’re like me, then seriously, just don’t buy it. For the parents out there, it’s never too early to get your kids started on healthy snacking. Push the apple slices and peanut butter snacks on a normal basis and save the treats for special occasions.
Here’s to wrapping up the first month of 2017 on a positive note and to welcoming February and all the new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Work That Core!
Believe it or not, this Motivation Monday brings us three weeks into 2017. Know what that means? We’ve also reached the halfway point for those New Year’s healthy resolutions to start feeling like second nature. So whatever you do, don’t give up now!
The extra good news is there’s still time to tweak your routine to make this your strongest year yet. I couldn’t let this building phase of January pass without an important reminder about one area of training all of us need to incorporate into our routines regardless of where we are in our fitness journey. Whether your passion is power walking; running; cycling; dancing; swimming; weight training or boot camping, there is one area of the body no one should ignore: the core. My repeat readers already know I’m probably one of core training’s biggest cheerleaders. Why? It’s simple: without a strong core, the rest of your body can suffer. Seriously.
The core is much more than just those “six-pack abs.” It’s actually the part of the body made up of the:
- Thoracic spine and
- Cervical spine.
The core is where all movement begins and where we find our center of gravity. The muscles in the core are broken into two categories: the stabilization system and the movement system. If the stabilization system doesn’t work properly, then your body will make compensations to move, and those compensations can ultimately lead to injury. For example: you could have strong “abs” (rectus abdominus), external obliques and erector spinae, but weak stabilizing muscles in your lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. Without proper stabilization, extra stress is placed on your vertebrae when you move, and this can lead to low back pain and possible injury.
So, today I implore everyone to add my all-time favorite core exercise to your routine: the plank. The following photos taken by Lauren Bachner at New York City’s Hype Gym show the start and finish positions for a plank. (I also added a leg lift option for an advanced option.) Aim for two sets of 12-20 reps. Training tips: In either version, be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze your glutes before you raise your body off the floor to form a straight line from head to toe. Hold for two to three seconds before dropping to the ground to re-start.
Another bonus when it comes to planks: they are a great exercise for Tabata training. Click here for a refresher on how Tabatas can take add some spice to your fitness routine.
So now I want to know what is YOUR favorite core move? As we continue to make our way through 2017, I look forward to learning what my readers of all ages and skill levels are doing to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Make 2016 Your Most FITASTIC Year Yet!
We made it to the very first Motivation Monday of 2016! It’s a first of many kinds for me as I’ve never sent Happy New Year wishes from the Caribbean before today. Knowing how eager people are to kick their health and fitness resolutions into high gear, I didn’t want to let another day go by without sharing some tips to help your goals take shape.
When I get home, I’ll have to reserve my barre space at Physique57 a little earlier than usual and wait longer for an elliptical or to start a weight set at New York Sports Club. I love seeing so many new faces at the gym at this time of year, but I hate the fact that usually by March, many of those enthusiastic newbies are long gone. So, I kick off 2016 with a these ideas to make those fitness resolutions stick long after Old Man Winter has made room for Spring.
- Leave the past where it belongs: I know we all want to erase the “sins” of the holidays that came in the form of chocolate, cheese and cocktails. Don’t waste your energy regretting the times you overdid it last year. I have my own memories of indulging in that second piece of lasagna and too many chocolates to count. Today is a new day.
- Adjust your attitude: Thinking of exercise as a “chore” is a surefire way to put the brakes on your new routine. Instead, think of exercise as “Me Time.” No matter what’s going on in my life, the time I spend working out is the one time my brain goes into neutral and the only thing filling it is some good music. Use exercise as a break from the ordinary, and before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to sweating out whatever ails you.
- Reality check: Saying you’re going to exercise seven days a week is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for failure. The first day you miss, you’ll be discouraged, and could find yourself saying, “Well, there goes the week!” A more realistic approach would be to aim for a minimum of three days each week for the first month. As you start experiencing the endorphin rush and other benefits from exercising, you’ll want to spend more than three days working out. Discouragement aside, everyone should take a minimum of one day off each week to let the body rest.
- Do what works for YOU: You woke up Christmas morning to find Santa left the latest exercise program under your tree. Meanwhile, all your exercise DVDs have been hanging out with the dust bunnies under your bed since VHS went out of style. Why not return the program and put the money toward a new pair of sneakers and moisture-wicking workout wear? Grab a friend and start those power walks or sign up for that Zumba class at your local community center. Have no idea what to try? Splurge and hire a personal trainer to get you started on the right track.
- Avoid severe diet restrictions: If you deny yourself something you truly enjoy for too long, it’s only a matter of time before you break down and go overboard. So, the chocolate bar you could have had last week turns into five chocolate bars, washed down with a chocolate shake and a side of cupcakes two months later.
I leave you with this reality: there will be “off” days. Even as a lifelong fitness enthusiast, there are times I simply don’t want to workout and all I want to eat is cheese and chocolate. As you read this post, there’s a good chance I’m having my first high-calorie frozen cocktail of the day. Stuff happens. Just don’t let one bad day throw you off course. Just wipe away the crumbs, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!