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You’ve been eating healthy, hitting the weights and even doing cardio. Why aren’t you seeing results from your workout? If you’ve been working out for a while now or are new to exercise but you aren’t seeing the results you want, read on.

Let’s look at a hypothetical exerciser, “Karen.”

Karen goes to the gym to lift weights and run on the treadmill 4-5 times per week. She met with a personal trainer about a year ago who gave her a workout plan and general dietary guidelines. In the beginning, she saw great results. She lost about 8 pounds and felt great. But over the last few months, 5 of those pounds have crept back and she’s not looking as tight and muscular as she once did.

Karen knows she’s supposed to do 3 sets of 10 leg presses at 115 lbs, 3 sets of 10 biceps curls at 12 pounds, etc. She hits all the major muscle groups in her weight workout (which she’s done 3x/week for one year) and is done in about 40 minutes. Then she moves to the treadmill and watches TV while she runs two miles in about 20 minutes.

It sounds like a great workout. The problems? Karen’s mind and body are bored and she hasn’t pushed herself in over eleven months. She has no goal and doesn’t know which other exercises to do.

But most importantly- Karen never writes anything down!

That’s right. The key to a beautiful physique, weight loss and a stronger body is WRITING IT ALL DOWN!

In order to experience hypertrophy, or muscle growth, the average exerciser should be lifting weights they can lift about 8-12 times in one set. If Karen lifts 12 lbs for a biceps curl easily 12 times for two or three exercise sessions in a row, it’s time to increase the amount of weight she lifts. Karen’s biceps are no longer being challenged by her workout.

Here’s an example of what part of Karen’s workout sheet should look like when she fills it out.

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What is sodium: Sodium is a mineral that is used by your kidneys to regulate your body’s fluid balance.

Benefits of sodium: Sodium is key to nerve impulse generation and muscle contraction. Endurance athletes who sweat an excessive amount should be aware that sodium is lost through perspiration and they may need to increase their sodium consumption in order to prevent hyponatremia (too little salt in the body).

Detriments of excessive sodium: Increased sodium in the body triggers the kidneys pull more water into the blood vessels in an attempt to dilute the body’s sodium content. This retention of water not only causes bloat, it also increases the total amount of blood volume within the blood vessels. Increased blood volume can be thought of as too much water in a small hose- it creates a pressure against the walls of the vessels, resulting in an increase in pressure. Chronically high blood pressure and increased blood volume puts a strain on the heart walls and kidneys, resulting in an increased chance of heart attack or kidney stones later on.

Other problems with increased sodium content:

  • Skeletal system: studies have shown that diets high in sodium put a person at higher risk for osteoporosis. High levels of sodium in the kidneys compete with bone-building calcium, and the result is calcium being secreted from the body in the urine.
  • Stomach: Studies have shown that patients with high sodium diets are more susceptible to stomach cancers.

How much sodium is recommended per day?

  • People over 55 years of age should eat less than 1,500 mg of sodium each day.
  • People under 55 years of age should eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium each day.

How much sodium is in salt?

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

What are common food sources of salt?

According to the American Heart Association:

“About 77% of the sodium we consume comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods. The rest of the sodium in our diets occurs naturally in food (about 12 percent) or is added by us when we’re cooking food or sitting down to eat.”

Other common sources are breads and rolls, pizza, soup, cold cuts and cured meats, poultry, and sandwiches.

How can I reduce my salt intake?

  • Reduce your visits to restaurants and instead opt for home-cooked meals.
  • Stay away from the salt shaker.
  • Read food labels: try and eat foods that contain less than 200 mg of sodium in a serving.
  • Track your overall sodium intake each day with a food log (Lose It, My Fitness Pal, other online food trackers or good old pencil and paper).

Sources:

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So you want to run faster. Great! Now the question is...how?

The short answer: To run faster, you have to run faster.

"Hmmm..." you say. "If I could do that, I would. Care to elaborate?"

Sure, Read on for details:

For the sake of having a coherent example throughout this post, I'm going to use the example of decreasing your time on a 5K or 3.1 mile foot race.

Let's assume you have perfect running form and a fairly decent aerobic base (you can jog about 30 minutes at a time without stopping) but you can't obtain the speed you desire due to muscular and cardiovascular inhibitions (your muscles and your lungs give out on you anytime you speed up).

The best way to start increasing your speed is to do high intensity interval training or (HIIT) workouts. This includes Tabata training.

What the heck is Tabata Training?

Definitions:

  • Aerobic energy system: the energy system you use to complete tasks greater in length than a few minutes (oxidative on the chart). Oxygen is converted into energy your body can use to complete the task.
  • Anaerobic energy systems: when performing a task that requires a lot of power or speed, and can only be performed for a few seconds to about 60 seconds, you use your anaerobic energy systems (phosphagen and glycolytic on the graph) . This energy does not require oxygen and therefore is finite but can be improved with training.
  • VO2max: the amount of oxygen your body can bring into the lungs and convert to useful energy via the aerobic process. The fitter you are, the higher your VO2max will be.
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What is the "posture of motherhood?"

If you're a mom, you probably already know you perform a lot of forward motions throughout your day that can cause your upper back to round and your shoulders to roll forward:

  • Hunching to feed a baby (whether via breast or bottle)
  • Carrying little ones in front of you
  • Stooping to help people who are shorter than you
  • Pushing a stroller

How does the posture of motherhood compare to "good" posture?

Good posture can be quantified as the following:

  • If you're looking at your spine from the front or back, it should be composed of 33 bones stacked one on top of the other
  • From the side, you should have 4 curves to your spine:

1. A lordotic curve at your neck.

2. A kyphotic curve at your shoulders.

3. A lordotic curve in the small of your back (lumbar spine).

4. A kyphotic curve at your sacrum or tailbone.

  • If you were to draw a line from the top of your head to the floor, the line should run through the following points: through your ear, to a point just in front of your shoulder, a point just behind your hip, a point just in front of your knee and end at a point just behind your lateral malleolus or (ankle bone).
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If you're a new mom, chances are you are struggling to fit fitness into your busy lifestyle. Maybe you've tried to attain a health and wellness goal but you just can't reach it. Below are four reasons why your fitness plan may be failing.

1. You put your children (and everyone else) before yourself.

When you come second (or third or fourth) in your own life, there is always a reason why you can't begin your fitness journey or pursue your goals. Carve out some mom"ME" time each day to focus on your personal health and wellness. Put it in your calendar and keep that appointment everyday.

The six week Get Fit Challenge, starting Saturday, April 16th, requires you to set your schedule at the beginning of each week and reflect at the end of every day on whether or not you kept your appointment with yourself.

2. You haven't defined your fitness goals.

Goals need to be SMART to be attainable: Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented,Realistic and Timely. Oftentimes people set goals of "losing weight." The problem? These people never know when they've attained their goals! A better goal would assess a person's current weight and set a goal weight by a specified date with actionable steps. For instance, "My goal is to lose 20 pounds by June 2nd. I will do this by meal planning every week (and creating a calorie deficit), preparing my food in advance and exercising at least 30 minutes a day."

The six week Get Fit Challenge requires participants to set SMART goals at the beginning of the program, review them everyday and institute actionable steps.

3. Your action plan lacks expertise or you need guidance.

Maybe your goal is to develop enviable arms you can show off in a tank-top or sleeveless dress but you don't know your deltoids from your biceps, let alone the best way to build muscle and diminish fat (so you can see your muscle tone). The solution: employ the help of a certified personal trainer who can help you attain those fabulous arms in the quickest way possible.

Members of the Get Fit Challenge have daily access to a multiply-certificated fitness professional who holds two degrees in Kinesiology and can answer your exercise and nutrition questions.

4. You lack support, motivation and accountability.

It's great to have a goal but if you don't make it public, it's easy to fall by the wayside. Once you set a goal, make it public! Pronounce your goal to the world. Post it on social media or call a friend and tell her about it. When you have accountability, you're much more likely to achieve your goal.

You'll also have more success if you are trying to achieve your goal with other people (or are in a public competition). Success loves company and having a buddy (or buddies) with similar goals will not only keep you accountable, your friends will offer you the support and motivation you need to get all the way to the end of your fitness journey.

The Get Fit Challenge encourages moms in a supportive environment to achieve their fitness and wellness goals in a six week period.

What is the GET FIT CHALLENGE?

The Get Fit Challenge is a six weeks of motivation and accountability to help you cement healthy habits. The Get Fit Challenge includes:

  • Baseline fitness testing including “before” pictures, a timed run, circumference measurements, sit-ups, push-ups, squats and biceps curls.
  • Assistance in making “SMART” goals based on your initial fitness testing results.
  • End of challenge “post” fitness testing to compare your results and see your improvements.
  • Weekly encouragement and guidance e-mails.
  • Inclusion in a secret Facebook group where you will receive motivation from certified personal trainers and other challenge members.

The GET FIT CHALLENGE begins Saturday, April 16th. Click here to learn more.

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Ah! A New Year! So much promise to throw away old, unhealthy habits and institute newer healthy ones.

I oscillate between making resolutions and not making any. One year, I'm all about it, the next, I vow never to do it again.

I've spent most of December 2015 reflecting on who I've become in the past two decades. I've definitely changed, and not always for the better.

I thought about who I was in my 20s. I was definitely a lot thinner. I started to think about WHY I was so much thinner in my 20s. I worked in two gyms. At one I taught spinning and at the other I worked 8 hours (2 of which I spent working out). After working out all day, I would take CrossFit classes. Yes, I'm serious. It was not uncommon for me to workout 3 times a day. I also ate better. I had to bring my lunch to work as I didn't have the time to go out to eat. My co-worker and I had an unspoken ongoing competition for the healthiest lunch. Flax, brewer's yeast and berries on plain yogurt, anyone? Mmmm. I wasn't in a great relationship and my excessive working out was probably an escape from that unpleasant reality. Fortunately, by my late 20s I had escaped the bad relationship and found a new, healthier one that suited me much better.

In my early 30s excessive workouts were replaced with excessive work. It was not uncommon for me to spend 11-14 hours a day at a job I really didn't like and rewarded me with lots of money and a workload that would crush 4 people. I used food to escape my daily stresses, gained 18 pounds and formulated a secret plan to leave once I had a baby (even though I wasn't even pregnant yet).

My mid 30s brought an escape from the crazy workload, my child-bearing years, and a whole new "mothering" and "business owner" identity. This was also the time I purchased a smart phone and decided to succumb to that whole "Facebook" thing. Fast forward to the present: I now spend hours and hours lost in the labyrinth of social media. As a positive, I can definitely say that my life has been very well documented these past four and a half years! I also see the benefits of social media for making my business grow. But is my life now its most fulfilled?

I think in the chaos of mothering, posting to social media and running a business, it's easy to get lost in the urgency of the post that needs to go up now (before it becomes old news), the e-mail that needs answering, the next business strategy and who needs to be separated before someone gets hurt (well, that's always the same two little people in my house).

Looking back, my favorite times in my life were when I was creating something, spending time with friends and family, connecting with other people and making memories. My favorite picture is one I don't have saved to a Cloud or on my smart phone. It's of my husband and me (before we were married) having an afternoon beer, barefoot and on a beach in Florida. His smile is one of pure joy and I remember my feelings were the same. We had just started dating and life was so full of promise and feelings of being PRESENT. The world was our oyster. We were completely devoted to living fully in each moment.

So to start 2016, I resolve to return to the world of LIVING and only occasionally visit the worlds of "posting" and "surfing." I resolve to put down the phone and make my husband, my family, and myself smile.

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One morning after class, I was standing and talking with another mom whose son was competing with mine for most-hyper-and-destructive on the playground. After jetting to the other side of the jungle gym to save her kid from an untimely death leap off of the side, she locked eyes with me and exclaimed:

"I am a tired mama."

I couldn't help but laugh, because I knew the depths of what she meant when she said that so very well myself. But at the same time, my heart ached for her, knowing what a lonely burden the exhaustion of motherhood can be to carry.

We all joke around about how caffeine and wine get us through the day, but underneath the laughter there is a silent cry of helplessness. Sometimes when I'm asked how I find the strength to mother I want to reply, "I don't" because it's the truth. I have days where I sit on my kitchen floor in a puddle of salty tears and chocolate chips. There are evenings where I countdown the minutes to bedtime like a kid waiting for that end-of-the-day ring of the school bell. I'll never pretend like I have it all together because two years into parenting I still have no idea what I'm doing half of the time.

But that's okay.

It's okay to be a tired mama and it's also okay to talk about it. The beauty of this tribe of motherhood is that we don't ever have to be alone. We don't have to hide our swollen, tired eyes underneath sunglasses or our hard days under forced smiles. Because here, among fellow mamas, we are safe.

YOU are safe.

Safe to talk about your anxiety, your stress, your shortcomings. Safe to talk about the moments where you feel emotionally and physically drained by parenting. Safe to strip down the thick layer of armor and be unapologetically real about mommyhood.

Are you a tired mama?

The truth of the matter is, we all are at one point or another. So let's embrace the exhaustion and together we can find the strength and energy to mother even on the toughest days. They say it takes a village because it really, truly does. Let this village help take care of you so that you can take better care of your little ones.

Alone we may be overwhelmed, but together we are overwhelmingly powerful.

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You've heard it a million times before and that is because it's true; If you want results you have to put the work in. It can be easy to think that just because we show up to class we should be seeing a change, but unfortunately that is not the case. Showing up is definitely the first step, but in order to really see improvements in your body and overall health, you need to be challenging yourself on a daily basis. Plateaus happen to all of us and it can be so easy to get into routine, even when the actual exercises themselves are being switched up daily. That is why I have come up with a list of five things you can do to get over that slump and start getting the most out of your workouts.

1. Fuel Your Body: This is hands down, the most important thing you can do for yourself to maximize your workout. You could burn 1,000 calories but if you are not eating properly you are not going to see any positive changes in your body. If you're new to the world of healthy eating I highly recommend taking our FIT4MOM Get Fit Challenge. You will be educated on the right kinds of foods to eat and will also have the added bonus of support from the other moms also taking the challenge with you.

2. Switch Out Your Band: I know you started out using your lighter resistance band because you wanted to ease yourself into the workouts, and that's great. But if you have been coming to class for more than a few months you have no excuse not to at least try using your heavier band from time to time. The beauty in having two different weighted bands is that if you find it gets too difficult with the heavier one you can always switch back to the lighter. So if you have been using your lighter band out of habit it's time to break that and start pushing yourself. Try it out next class for at least one exercise, I dare you! You may just surprise yourself.

3. Be In The Front: People who float in the back or fan off to the sides tend to get a less effective workout than those who are in front. When you know that other people are watching you, you are more likely to push yourself. This one is a biggie for me, personally. At 30 weeks pregnant it can be so easy to use my growing belly as an excuse to hang back, but instead I've been letting the leaders of the class motivate me to keep pushing forward. When people see you going for it, it starts a chain reaction and motivates them to do the same. So stop hiding on the sidelines and get in there! I promise that nobody will laugh at your form and you'll be motivated to pick up the pace throughout the entire workout.

4. Try It On Your Toes: Let's talk push-ups and planking for a moment. Especially halfway through the class and on, your body is nice and warm, giving you more range of motion to get off of your knees and try to do them on your toes. Believe it or not, you will get a better body workout from 5 push-ups on your toes than 10 on your knees. Not to mention you will be strengthening literally every part of your body while you do them, giving you an all over workout that will help to sculpt nice lean muscles.

5. Do One More Than Yesterday: If you don't already, start counting your reps. When you don't pay attention or keep track it can be easy to start actually doing less than before. Jot down how many squats, bicep curls, etc. you did and then try to do one more each day. You will have days where you can barely finish what you did the day before and days where you are easily pulling in 5 extra moves and that is totally normal. The point is just to push yourself and not allow yourself to get into routine. Putting it down on paper or in your phone will help keep you on track and you will find that you are crushing your original numbers in no time!

And there you have it, ladies. I hope these tips help get you out of a workout funk and feeling good!

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I’ll never forget looking at myself in a full-length mirror for the first time after having my son. I was barely three days postpartum and already poking and prodding at my soft belly, wondering why I wasn’t able to leave the hospital wearing my pre-pregnancy pants like Megan Fox. I wish I could say that I quickly came to my senses and realized that my body had, you know, just produced a human being, but instead I spent the next few months obsessing over my new figure and desperately trying to get back to how I looked before I decided to have a baby.

I talk with a lot of moms these days and I’ve noticed that this body obsession I faced is an all too common trend. Beautiful, perfect mothers are going to extreme lengths to try and obtain a Hollywood postpartum recovery that is not only unrealistic for almost all of us, but also extremely unhealthy. Magazines Photoshop people like Kourtney Kardashian and make us believe that if we don’t look like she does by 6 weeks out then we are clearly doing something wrong. So we cut our calories even more, start back-to-back juice cleanses, and double up on workouts to try and achieve this impractical image of a “new mom body”.

But as mothers, we have a unique responsibility to our children. Generally speaking, we are the first person they see in the morning and the last before they lay down to sleep each night. They feel the most comfort in our arms and they look to us as living examples of who, what, and how they should be. It’s easy to forget that our children hear everything we say, especially when we can’t seem to get them to actually respond half of the time. (Anybody else going through the “If I pretend not to hear you, you didn’t say it” phase?) But the truth is that they hear every passing phrase, every whisper – and if we are unkind to ourselves they are not going to understand what self-love is and before we know it they will be the ones standing in the mirror poking and prodding at their own little bodies.

I’ve been thinking a lot about one of our frequently used hashtags: #likeamom and have been meditating on what that means. Sure, we show up to class and sweat, but “like a mom” is so much more than that.

It’s staying up all night with a fussy baby and still showing up to workout the next morning.

It’s choosing to go home and cook after a long day instead of grabbing fast food, even though it’s the easier option.

It’s speaking to yourself with respect and kindness so that your children know what self-worth looks like.

It’s showing your little ones that women can be just as strong and tough as men.

It’s leading by example.

It’s showing our babes what it looks like to live a healthy, active lifestyle in an age where they are encouraged to sit inside all day long and stare at a screen.

It’s day in and day out, working towards a better you.

So when you find yourself getting down about the number on the scale or those jeans that still don’t fit quite right, be kind to yourself and look at the bigger picture. You are doing something so much greater than simply getting fit, you are showing your little ones what it means to live like a mom.