Intermittent fasting is becoming a regular term heard in every health circle these days. So what exactly is it? IF basically can be described as various different approaches that use short term fasting with the ultimate goal of increasing one's health. The key word here being "short" term, time restricted eating.
The benefits listed to this kind of eating are numerous, ranging from promoting cellular maintenance, protecting against aging, improving metabolic markers, helping with weight loss, decreasing risk of chronic disease, improving insulin resistance, detox benefits, all the way to boosting your brain power.
Digestion uses up a lot of energy.
When our body is in a constant state of being fed, all the energy goes towards that... instead of being allowed to use energy for repair and detox, that is so vital. When we give ourselves an extended time without food, the liver is allowed to get to work. Let it do its job! The body also needs time and energy to "clean" itself (a term known as autophagy). During this process, the body gets rid of any old or malfunctioning cells, and also gets rid of bacteria and viruses. Autophagy is not possible when we are busy digesting food, and it's ability peaks after a 16 hour window of fasting.
As mentioned above, there are many different approaches to this kind of eating. One of the most popular trends is eating all your food within an 8 hour window, and fasting for the other 16 hours. This can be on any schedule you prefer. Some tend to skip breakfast and start eating at noon, then making their last meal before 8 pm. Others may choose eating in a window from 7 am until 3 pm. Or maybe you want to consume your food between 10 am - 6 pm. Of course you may also decide to have a 10 hour eating window with a 14 hour fast. The beauty of this, is that you tailor it to your lifestyle and what works for you.
But haven't we always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
Popular wisdom says that skipping breakfast is bad. But why is that? Studies that have been done in the past have shown that breakfast eaters tend to be leaner... but this may not necessarily be because they eat breakfast. Eating breakfast has long been popular health advice. So these people probably tend to exercise more, choose not to smoke, and eat a healthier diet in general.
When we eat food, our body takes the carbohydrates and breaks them down to use for fuel. Whatever does not get used up at that time, ends up getting stored as fat. When our body doesn't have food to break down for fuel, it then goes to those fat stores and uses those instead. Burning those fat stores (mainly triglycerides), is what helps us with weight loss and also can improve one's cardiovascular disease risk profile. On top of that, when we burn fat, ketones are released into the blood stream. Ketones have been shown to preserve brain function and help ward off memory loss. Another great bonus.
However, as good as this all sounds, IF may not be for everyone. Those who suffer from chronic fatigue, hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue, hypoglycemia, extreme chronic stress at home or at work, those who are pregnant, breast feeding, or trying to maximize fertility, or anyone with any kind of eating disorder should not be doing intermittent fasting. It could actually make those conditions worse, so please always consult your physician before trying IF to make sure it is safe for you.
The beauty of this is you can tailor this to your lifestyle. Do what makes the most sense for you, and play around with it. You can make this as formal or as informal as you like. There is no calorie counting, or even restricting calories here. It is simply eating within a certain window of time. And this does not have to be every day. Like I said, do what works for you. Maybe you have an 8 hour eating window 2 days per week. Maybe you do it 5 days per week, and eat regular on the other 2 days. Maybe you do a 24 hour fast once or twice per month. Make it your own plan.
I like to do my intermittent fasting based on how I feel on any given day. If I slept poorly, or maybe I am stressed about something, then I will not choose to do IF that day. Food will probably do me better. But if I feel pretty good, got a good sleep, and I am up for it... then yes. Maybe my first meal will be at 1 pm, and I'm okay with that. It also gives you the benefit and convenience of not always being slave to making food! It's a time saver, and gets something off your to-do list! :-) Who doesn't need that?
Bottom line, this is all about balance. Don't let IF be a downfall to other ares of your life. Say you get invited to a great dinner party, and your contemplating not going because it will mess up your IF planned for that day. Go to the party! Don't let IF isolate you and ruin your social life. A healthy lifestyle is about BALANCE above all else. Don't put all your energy into one area of your health... you need to look at the big picture and put it all into perspective.
It's Mother's Day, and I wish all of you amazing mom's out there a fabulous day!!! So why am I apologizing? Let me explain.
You see, there are SO many ideas that blow through my head on any given day that I would love to accomplish with my website, my book, and my training clients. It's almost endless. I would love to have more time to make these things actually happen... but you see, I am a mom. And THAT job, above all else, comes first. Us moms have many roles, and I know all of you out there can understand this and agree. Many of us are wives, nurses, doctors, dentists, bankers, secretaries, business women, chefs, engineers, sales women, trainers... and the list goes on. I am a wife, a mom, a nurse and a trainer. It's tough to juggle all things and feel like you are doing them all well. We all get that. I fail and make mistakes quite often at all of them! But I am also passionate about each role as well, which is why I don't quit... at any of them.
But the main reason that I am not always able to follow through with all my "great ideas" for my website or training is because my job as a mom comes first. I have learned the hard way that kids need and want my attention, and they notice when they are not getting enough. Sometimes this is beyond my control, but other times, oh yes... I can certainly make some changes and sacrifices if I am willing to open my eyes to the need. Could I be working on all kinds of blog posts, updates to my book (or even writing a second one), paying more "extra attention" to some of my clients or any other task... once my kids are home from school? Sure, I COULD, but I won't. That' s mom time. My kids are only here with me for a short time. They come first, and everything else can wait. I am blessed to have a website to share things, a book to let my ideas be known, and awesome training clients I have the ability to influence and help. I am grateful for all of that, but my kids come first, so any other items above and beyond what I currently am able to accomplish, can be put on hold. That can always happen later, but having my kids at this moment, at these exact ages, will be gone in a flash. So I will not beat myself up for not doing as much as I would like.
Examples of things people have said to me over the years: "Why don't you market your book more?", "Why don't you do an updated revised edition?", "Why don't you do more emailing to promote your site?", "Why don't you go around to all the hospitals to promote your book?", "Why don't you follow up more with past clients?", "Why don't you write blog posts at least once per week?", "Why don't you run more free challenges?".... While these are all great ideas, my response is simply "Sorry, but not sorry". I am a mom, and I don't have the extra time to do all that right now. That doesn't mean ever, but right now, they are my priority. And they take up a LOT of time! :-) I used to think I would have so much time when my kids were a bit more self sufficient, past the toddler years. NOPE! Who out there has teens? Pre-teens? Talk about emotionally needy!!! And that is SO important for me to feel that I am emotionally and physically present for them right now, at least as much as possible. That's number one.
So for anyone out there who wishes I was doing more with my book, or website, or training... I am sorry, but not sorry. And feel free to be "sorry, but not sorry" for whatever is tugging at you in your life when you know you need to be there for your kids first. You will not regret letting that wait, or being super patient with it over time. Your kids are only with you for a short time. Let them enjoy you, as you enjoy them. Happy Mother's Day to you all!!!
It's here!!! 2019 is finally upon us. A clean slate is SUCH a good feeling, and that is one reason I love January 1st every year. Since none of us are perfect, and we will always have at least a few things we wish we did differently in the year past, having a brand new year in front of us without any blemishes (at least yet!) fills us with hope and encouragement that we can do better.
If you are like most people, eating healthier and getting more exercise are probably on your list. Even if it just means getting back on track after slacking off a bit during the holidays. And that's okay, as long as you have a plan!!! Instead of making resolutions, make goals. Attainable, measurable, actual goals to work towards. When people say things like "I'm going to eat healthier" that means nothing. What does eating healthy mean to you? You need to make small, attainable goals that can be checked off as done to keep yourself moving forward. A better thing to say might be "I'm going to bring a salad to work for lunch at least 3 days per week from now on instead of getting takeout". That is measurable and something that can be achieved and checked off as done... hence, moving you closer in the direction to "eating healthier". Or something like "I"m going to avoid sugary treats during the week from now on and only allow desserts on weekends". Again, something that can be followed and checked off as done, moving you closer to "eating healthier". You must have a PLAN.
What does "I'm going to exercise more" mean??? Not much. You need goals. You need a plan, or those words mean nothing. What is your strategy for exercising more? Say something measurable like "I am going to walk 30 minutes 4 times per week", or "I will start strength training at least twice per week", etc. You need to be able to set a goal, see that it was done, and check it off as complete. This moves you toward the bigger picture (that is ultimately too broad) of "I will exercise more".
What if you need accountability or you won't get it done??? Then you contact me. :-) I am launching my new online training this January to help keep people on track, make appropriate goals, have custom workouts that fit your abilities, and guide you towards a healthy eating lifestyle. Please message me or email me at email@example.com if you have questions or want to know more. Let's work together to EAT CLEAN AND GET LEAN IN 2019!!! Happy New Year!
I am famous for doing this. Once in a while when I have zero idea what to make for dinner, I start looking around and decide to make something out of what I have. Sometimes that works well, other times.... hhhmmmm, not so much. Haha. But this was a good one and I am so happy to share with you all!
Ingredients for this recipe:
-2 small spaghetti squash (I would rather cut 2 small ones than fight with a big one!)
-1.5 pounds of organic chicken breast
-3 cups of fresh baby spinach
-2 tablespoons of coconut oil or ghee
-1 tablespoon dried basil
-2 teaspoons dried rosemary
-1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
-sea salt to taste
First, preheat oven to 375. Cut the 2 spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the insides.
Use the 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or ghee and rub on insides and edges of spaghetti squash. Place squash face down on cooking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes or until softened.
In the meantime, lightly boil chicken on stove top until cooked through (about 20 minutes). Once cooled, shred apart. If desired, (I like to do this, but not necessary) briefly stir fry shredded chicken pieces on stove top with a little coconut oil or ghee just to give an added texture.
Once spaghetti squash is cooled, use a fork and scrape out all the squash into a baking dish. Sprinkle with some sea salt to taste.
Wash 2 cups of fresh baby spinach (shred or chop if desired) and add to the spaghetti squash. Mix it around well so the spinach gets some of the oil or ghee on the leaves.
Then add shredded chicken to the mixture. Sprinkle with basil and rosemary, then top with shredded parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 just long enough to melt cheese and wilt the spinach leaves a bit (about 15 minutes).
This is a post for all the parents out there. I get it, believe me. Parenting is tough. Probably the toughest job on the planet, without a doubt. It's exhausting, time consuming, physically and emotionally draining, and can take you on the craziest roller-coaster ride of your life. With young kids, there are days it seems like you don't have time to pee, or eat a full meal for yourself (hey, kinda sounds like being a nurse!). Then as kids get a bit older, you are the taxi service, policeman of their social media and internet access, and much more. You are never done. It's NOT easy!!!
It seems like as parents we would clearly get a pass when we say we didn't have time for a workout. How can we possibly be expected to fit that stuff in when we are in charge of these little humans all day? There is too much to do. People are quick to use there busy kids as the first excuse for why they can't work out. Well I'm here to tell you that being a parent is even MORE reason why you should me making time for regular physical fitness in your life. Today I am sharing 3 very important reasons why that is, and 3 helpful tips to get it done.
Why it's important:
1) They are watching you. Kids learn from what they see. What are you showing them? How do you want them to grow and develop in their own lives? It's not a secret that kids (and even adults at times) learn from example. So not only are you in charge of your own health, you are modeling healthy living to your kids. Why should they care about taking proper care of themselves if we aren't even doing it? It's like having parents that smoke and telling their kids not to smoke. Or drinking in excess and then yelling at their teen for coming home drunk from a party. That whole "do as I say and not as I do" model of parenting is certain to fail. If your kids don't see you make something a priority in your own life, then they certainly won't see the need to do it for theirs. Albert Schweitzer said "Adults teach children in three important ways: The first is by example, the second is by example, and the third is by example". And don't worry if, at first, they act like they don't care or have no interest at all. I promise you, after a while it WILL have an impact on them. You just might be surprised, but you can't give up with the first sour face or attitude you get! Stick with it.
2) You will be a happier parent. Parenting can be maddening at times. Let's face it, kids can make your good mood go right down the drain some days. You can start off with the best of intentions, and then... BAM. No one is listening, the fighting and yelling breaks out, and chaos has ensued. Even with the greatest planning, any given day can make you a bit crazed. When you get exercise, you are releasing those pain-relieving and mood-enhancing endorphins that are such a wonderful treat! Not that exercise will get rid of all your parenting issues, but it certainly does wonders to help us cope a bit better. It won't magically change your child's behavior or ward off all disasters, but it can give you enough of a buffer to make it through tough days without losing it. And I bet your kids just might appreciate a happier parent as well. :-)
3) You will have more energy. Who can't use that? Kids or not, we could all use a bit more energy sometimes. It sounds strange to say you can get energy from expending energy, but it is true. Organized exercise or actual physical play with your kids is much more energizing than chaotic busy stress that does nothing but zap your energy. Especially if you have very active children, don't you want to be able to keep up with them? Of course. That certainly makes life a lot more fun for everyone involved. Parenting is busy and exhausting. Get energized the right way so you can get it done!
How to get it done:
1) During nap times or a short TV show: With very young kids, nap time is precious time that needs to be used VERY wisely! Don't get me wrong... there are some times when napping yourself is exactly what you need to do during that time. But if you can start a habit of getting in some quick exercise for yourself at nap time every day, this will be such a valuable thing in the long run. Or, if your kids are past napping age and are watching their allowed TV time for the day, that is your chance to sneak off somewhere else in the house and get it done. 20 minutes on a treadmill, a quick workout video, or your own routine you prefer. You will be so happy that you did if you can do this.
2) Early in the morning, while they are at school, or after their bedtime: There is always the option of getting up early before the kids get up (if you have kids that sleep late!). This takes dedication, but so does anything worth while. If you have school-age kids and you are home at all during the day, that is your chance with zero distraction. Yes, there are tons of other errands to do as well... I know. But if you don't make this a priority, it will not get done. Period. It needs to be just as important as cleaning, doing dishes and grocery shopping. This is your health. After the kids go to bed is also another possibility if they still go to bed early enough. It's never a great idea to workout too close to your own bedtime because it will make it difficult for you to wind down yourself (unless it's relaxing yoga!).
3) Involve your kids. This can be done in many ways! With very young kids, this can just be throwing a ball and running around the yard with them. Try doing tag sprints across the yard with your kids. Make up a simple but fun obstacle course to do together! Cheer them on, get them excited, and have fun with it! Show them that physical fitness is FUN and that feeling strong is amazing. Once they get a bit older, but all means, involve them in more mature workouts. Don't think they can't do it because their "just kids". You would be amazed what kids can and will do when they are given the challenge! I like to let my own kids make up the workout for the day. We do all kinds of fun stuff in our yard like squat jumps, running with high knees, push-ups against the fence, farmers' carries with some weights or light kettlebells, etc.
It's never too late to start either. I don't care if your kids are in high school or college. They are still being molded by things around them every day. They aren't done making all their lifetime habits at this point. And maybe, just MAYBE, they aren't done listening to mom and dad. :-) To make an impact on their own future health and help yours out in the meantime, this is just too important to push aside.
Not to mention, time spent exercising together is time bonding with your child. You are improving your health and spending quality time with them at the same time. That is priceless.
It's time to stop using your kids as your first excuse for not working out, and start making them the number one reason you do!
We say we want something, and then we do everything in our power to make sure it doesn't happen. Does this sound familiar? It is a reoccurring problem for many people, in many different circumstances in life. Have you ever had someone tell you to just get out of your own way? You are your own worst enemy? Or stop shooting yourself in the foot? Then chances are, you have been a victim of your own self-sabotage at some point in your own life.
But how does this make sense? Why would we purposely derail ourselves from our wanted goals and dreams? It seems to go against everything that we want, so why do we do it? Why do we knowingly destroy progress that could be helpful and beneficial for our own future happiness and well-being?
First off, let's recognize that there are many different ways to self-sabotage. It may be comfort eating while trying to lose weight; procrastinating with things we know need to get done; going on a shopping spree when trying to reel in the budget; going back again and again to unhealthy relationships we know we need to end... and the list goes on.
So why do we do it? There could be many reasons why:
-Feeling unworthy: If we don't feel like we "deserve" the good things we are trying to gain for ourselves, then it's easy to tell yourself that you shouldn't have it. In thinking that way, our mind will affect our actions, and we will ultimately do something to destroy and progress we have made.
-The need to be in control: Sometimes it may feel better to some to be in control our own failure, rather than take a risk to see what happens if we truly try. If we can cause the failure on our own, at least we were the ones in control of making that happen.
-Familiarity: For some, it may provide a strange sense of comfort to be in that familiar rut of self-sabotage. If we are not used to things changing for the better, then it actually can feel somewhat "comforting" to stay exactly where we are.
-Perfectionism: If it isn't perfect, then what's the point?
-Protection: Self-sabotage can be used as a safety mechanism to protect yourself from disappointment.
-Punishment: Some may use self-sabotage as a means of punishing one's self when they feel out of control. Ever have one cookie and then say "See? I'm such an idiot. I can't do anything right. So now I might as well just eat the whole box of cookies because I ruined the entire day".
Self-sabotage is coping mechanism that, unfortunately, does more harm than good. It's the "feel good now, worry about consequences later" method. Basically, short term gain = long term pain. It's not helpful in the long run.
But there is hope! Self-sabotage does not have to be your destiny. You actually CAN change that, and I will give you some tips on how.
First, identify the behavior for what it is. Recognize it and take responsibility for it. Pin point what triggers this behavior for you. Is it certain people? Objects? Specific times? Specific feelings that come up in your mind about yourself? Notice what triggers the behavior, and notice what behavior you are acting out. Be AWARE. That is number one. I am writing this entire post to make people more aware of their own behavior, because so much of it is automatic. We tend to have knee-jerk reactions to our emotions in life rather than stopping to think first and pay attention to what is actually happening.
Second, recreate the pattern with a healthy replacement strategy. Once you realize what is happening and how you are responding, it's time to pick a new response. Recreate a pattern that will promote a healthier result for yourself. When you notice yourself getting burning mad for eating just one cookie, stop. Before eating the entire box to punish yourself, instead try thinking of how much you enjoyed the cookie as a treat for the day. Then move along with an activity that will continue to make you feel good about yourself. Go for a walk! Call a friend! Be OKAY with the fact that you had a cookie and move on! No punishment necessary. And you can still go to bed happy with yourself! Stop the ugly pattern, and create a new one.
For people who procrastinate - sometimes we are overwhelmed by a large task that needs to be done, so we would rather do nothing. Try breaking up that giant task into smaller ones with dead lines for yourself to get each one done. That way it is not so overwhelming to think you need to do it all at once. And if exercise is one of those things you procrastinate with because it seems like too big of a task, again, break it up into small segments. Small workouts count too! And that little start could be the beginning of a whole new you.
And if you are someone who struggles with self-worth, feeling like you are not worthy of having life actually go well for you with positive changes, it is time to change this thought pattern. Where are you finding your worth? What makes you worthy of anything? Facebook likes? No. Followers on Instagram? No. Lies that people have told you over and over again that you believe? No. There is a blood stained cross where Jesus Christ gave His LIFE for you. If that doesn't show your worth, then I don't know what else does. And that's all the worth you need. Stop listening to lies and falling into traps of feeling unworthy from sources that don't matter. The cross says different. Believe it.
Once you have created new patterns for yourself, practice these until new habits are formed. Have patience with the process. When you start seeing small changes, be inspired!
Another way to help yourself out of the rut is to start being more grateful. Realize and appreciate the good things in your life. Start doing more for others instead of being immersed in the "me-me-me" way of thinking. This can help you to stop focusing on your own problems.
What else can you do? Be active! The state of your body has a direct effect the state of your mind. How you perceive things and react to things may change if you are more active than you are now. It gives a mental boost that just might spin you right out of your self-sabotage tail spin.
Now go after what you want, take charge of your plans and dreams, and don't ruin it for yourself!!! Become your own hero rather than your own worst enemy. Realize it is possible, you are worth it, and don't FEAR. Just DO. :-)
This recipe is a great alternative for those who love bread, but don't eat regular bread. If you avoid gluten for any reason but love a soft piece of bread once in a while, this is for you! And if you hate recipes with a million ingredients, this is also for you! And if you are following a keto diet, again, this is for you!
Ingredients for this recipe:
-6 eggs (separated)
-1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill whey protein powder
2 ingredients. That's it! Can't get much easier than that. I love using eggs from my backyard chickens for recipes... healthiest and freshest eggs you can get! And Bob's Red Mill whey protein powder is my favorite for homemade recipes. You can find that here.
Start by separating the egg yolks from egg whites. Set egg yolks aside, and whip egg whites with a mixer for several minutes. Keep mixing until stiff peeks form.
Next, add the egg yolks and gently mix until blended in fully with egg whites. Then add whey protein and gently mix until fully blended.
Add mixture to a greased baking pan (I like to grease pan with ghee for added taste). Bake at 325 for 40 minutes. Batter will puff up very high while baking, and will drop after cooling for a while.
I love lightly toasting this bread and putting almond butter or peanut butter on it with some sliced banana. Soooooo yummy! Fluffy, soft and tastes great. Enjoy!
So I finally broke down and got a Fitbit. Why, exactly? I'm still not absolutely sure. One reason was definitely curiosity since everyone seems to be wearing one these days, but it certainly has not been something I ever felt that I NEEDED or even really wanted. Plus, my last watch broke, so I needed something to tell time... so I went for it.
I have to admit, I do kind of like it. It is actually pretty fun to see your activity on the app, and I especially found it interesting how it tracks my sleep patterns. I have never been one to own a heart rate monitor, so this was another added bonus for me to now pay closer attention to. Yes, I am a personal trainer, and I never have paid a huge amount of attention to my own heart rate with activity. But I have certainly been able to gauge my activity with breathing ability and perceived rate of exertion for any exercise I may be doing (and this is what I have done with clients as well, who do not own such gadgets).
So let's break it down as far as function. I know different models of fitness trackers may have some different capabilities, but the general function is still the same. Let's start with tracking your steps. It seems that the goal for just about everyone is getting those 10,000 steps a day. This adds up to about 5 miles per day, and if 30 minutes of that includes daily exercise, then that satisfies the CDC's recommendation of getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. It seems that you can go just about anywhere these days, and eventually you will here someone commenting on how many steps they have gotten that day or what they have left to accomplish in order to get their 10,000. People will all-out march in place towards the end of the hour to get their required steps so they can get some sort of congratulations or positive feedback from their fitness tracker. You know you've seen that, or maybe you've even done it!
Now this is the nice part of having a fitness tracker if you are one of those people who thrive on a little positive feedback. If this truly motivates you to move more, than you win! But what does that 10,000 steps actually do for you every day? Of course there are health benefits to moving more, that goes without saying. The more active we are every day, the better chance we have at lowering blood pressure, reduce risk of diabetes and improve overall cardiovascular health. Will it make you lose weight? It's possible, but that all depends on what's going in your mouth every day. Take one person who was very sedentary, and without increasing their daily caloric intake, they are now getting 10,000 steps per day which they were never even close to before. This person very well may lose some weight over time. But on the other hand, take someone who habitually over eats and has a poor diet. If they start tracking their 10,000 steps per day yet continue to overeat and make poor choices, then no... they will most likely not lose any weight. These are the people that get frustrated thinking that their Fitbit didn't help them lose weight. Well, the Fitbit isn't a magic genie once it goes on your arm. It will track what you're doing, but it will not automatically make you lose 10 pounds or better your health just by wearing it. Not to mention, the calories burned when walking greatly depend on the intensity and speed of your walk. You will have a greater calorie burn, and therefore a greater chance of weight loss, if you're steps taken are with higher speed and intensity throughout the day.
Of course there is the ability to track your food with most of these fitness trackers, but I find that most people don't bother doing that. It is a nice feature, but can be a bit tough to be extremely accurate with food and calorie intake... nonetheless, always a great idea to keep a food journal, especially if weight loss is your goal.
What I tend to see a lot is people who get these fitness trackers with all good intentions of having this new device make them healthy and slim. Well, it doesn't work that way without effort and determination on your part. Can it help motivate? Absolutely. Will it give you the results you want just by wearing it? No. If you're someone who is grabbing at straws trying to find something that will make you "fit", don't waste your money on a Fitbit if you have trouble putting in the effort yourself. At the end of the day, it starts with YOU. When you decide to make a commitment and put in the work, that's when results happen. And if you're doing this and just so happen to be wearing a Fitbit along the way? Good for you, and enjoy your fun little gadget! :-)
We're busy. We don't have time to be wasting time. Ask anyone how they are, and what do they usually say? Busy! So since we are all short on time, we certainly don't want to be doing unnecessary or useless things at the gym when we are trying to make progress. Every minute counts, when we don't have lots of minutes to give. So here are five tips to make sure you are not wasting those precious moments you're spending at the gym, or wherever it is you work out.
1) Stop doing crunches. First off, the crunch position mimics the hunched position that causes so many people to end up with low back pain. Not helpful. And not only do you need to do a ton of crunches to actually do anything to actually strengthen the rectus abdominis (the "6 pack"), crunches will do nothing to lessen the layer of fat that is covering those muscles and preventing them from being visible.
What to do instead: Try different plank variations, learn proper deadlifts, Turkish-get-ups, and over head carries, to name a few. And the other MAJOR thing to do: clean up your eating! Abs are made in the kitchen. ;-)
2) Stop doing prolonged, excessive cardio. I am not calling all endurance cardiovascular exercise a waste of time by any means. But if maximum results are the goal in less time, then spending daily hours on the treadmill or elliptical at the same intensity is not the best use of your time. If you are constantly going at the same speed for the same amount of time, the more time will be required to actually reap any benefits.
What to do instead: Add in some high intensity intervals. Short bursts with a higher heart rate will kick start your workout and you will get more done in less time. Either adding in some sprints, speed intervals, or short bursts of other high intensity cardio drills will get you much further along in less time. And please... add some resistance training to your routine as well!
3) Stop taking excessive rest periods between sets. I see this a lot. Taking long rest periods between sets of exercises can take up as much time (or more) as your actual minutes spent working out. People start playing on their phone, talking with friends, or just getting distracted during that "rest" time and end up taking much longer than necessary. I'm all for working out with a partner, but you want to be pushing each other, not dragging each other down by distractions and gabbing.
What to do instead: Supersets! Supersets are exercises usually focusing on opposing muscle groups that are performed in succession with little to no rest in between. An example of this would be doing a set of pushups (for chest and shoulders), then going straight into a rowing exercise (for back and biceps), then going back to your pushups, etc. This gives the first group of muscles a rest while you're working on opposing muscle groups. I also like to alternate a lifting exercise with a cardio drill. The lifting set allows your heart rate to recover from the cardio, and the cardio gives the muscles time to refresh from the lifting.
4) Don't waste time on single joint exercises. Not to say that single joint exercises are always a waste of time, but there are better ways to get more out of your workout in less time. Some examples of single joint exercises are things like bicep curls, tricep extensions, leg raises, etc. If your goals include fat loss, muscle gain, or better overall performance, you're going to want to do more than this.
What to do instead: Multi-joint (or "compound") exercises. These are exercises such as squats, deadlifts, pushups, lunges, and pull-ups. These exercises use multiple joints and muscle groups to do each exercise, therefore giving you more of a benefit that just working one joint or muscle at a time. Furthermore, compound exercises tend to require stabilization of the entire body, thus giving the ability to provide a core workout at the same time. Win win!
5) Don't show up without a plan. This tip is basically aimed at those new to the gym or those who are just starting to think about working out. I will be honest, at this point in my life I am able to plan my workouts on the fly by listening to what my body needs for that day. But that comes with lots of time, knowledge and practice! For those who may not be sure what they need, it is extremely helpful to follow some kind of plan, routine, or general guidelines to keep you on track to progress. If not, it can be easy to show up and just do a few random exercises and call it a workout. Granted, moving in any capacity is usually always better than not moving at all, but having a plan and understanding the exercises you are doing will get you the results you want FAR quicker than just making it up as you go and hoping for success.
What to do instead: Hire a trainer, get involved in groups or classes, or follow a specific written out workout plan that is appropriate for your abilities (you may need a trainer to assess this for you). With a little guidance and basic understanding you will be sure that you are not wasting your time, and hopefully will be able to see results much faster than if you were just making it up on your own.
We're all busy, and most of us don't have hours to spend every day at the gym. Be smart and use your time wisely so you get the benefits you want in the time you have. Go get it!
This has been a favorite of mine for years. Crunchy, a little bit sweet, and very satisfying. Makes a great topper for yogurt, cottage cheese, or just as a small snack on it's own!
Ingredients for this recipe:
-3.5 cups of nuts (I use 1.5 cups slivered almonds, 1 cup cashews and 1 cup walnut pieces)
-1 cup coconut flakes
-1/3 cup almond butter
-1/3 cup coconut oil
-1/3 cup raw honey
1/4 cup almond meal or coconut flour (if using coconut flour, use slightly less than 1/4 cup)
Start by breaking up any nuts that are large into small pieces (if using whole nuts, place in a storage bag and break up nuts using a large spoon). Place nuts in a large mixing bowl.
Add one cup of coconut flakes to the nuts. Next, mix together almond butter, coconut oil (melted) and raw honey. Add to nut mixture and stir well.
Place mixture on a cookie sheet lightly greased with a little coconut oil. Place in the oven at 325 for about 30 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like it. Baking it at higher temps for shorter time, I find just burns the edges too quick before the entire sheet is done, but you can play around with that.
You can find many ways to use this, just don't eat it all at once! ENJOY!
Terri Wentzell is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. She is also a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, fitness nutrition coach, and sport yoga instructor.