OK, well, I like to think I’m your favorite, even when I go a little MIA.
I was going to write a big post about what I’m thankful for, but you know what? I can sum that up in a few words: family, friends, doing what I love, lessons learned this year, and big things happening in my future. I really am grateful for a lot, but those things sum it up pretty nicely.
Now that that’s taken care of, let’s talk food! With Thanksgiving looming (tomorrow!), I thought I’d give everyone, including myself, a little reminder about what our plates SHOULD look like when we pull up to the table tomorrow. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston provided me with this great illustration of how big servings are, even when we’re sitting down for the biggest feast of the year. I know we’ve seen serving size guides over and over again, but I actually really like this one, and I think the message is always good to remember! And let’s be honest, a refresher never hurt.
What do you think? Are you watching your portions on Thanksgiving? Did they cover all of the basics in the picture above? And the most important question of all, what are your Thanksgiving favorites (healthy or not!)?
Oh, yeah! And what are you thankful for?
Things have been… a little out of control lately.
Nothing crazy, but I haven’t been as on track as I would like to be. I’ve been using my commute as more of my cardio than I would like to admit. In truth, I’m on my bike at least an hour every day, but still. My body is pretty used to it by now, so I really shouldn’t be counting it as a workout. I also haven’t been lifting nearly as much as I’d like — and I can tell in how I feel AND look.
Food has also been slipping. I make food at the beginning of the week — lots of chicken, veggies, egg whites, etc. But when meal time comes? I just.don’t.wanna. So I spend money and calories somewhere I shouldn’t. That one has got to stop too, because you know what? I feel amazing when I’m eating right!
And lastly, water and sleep. Not enough of either, and I don’t know how this happened! Time to just buckle down and recommit.
So on Monday, I’ll be starting Operation: Remotivation and Rehydration. Let me know if you’re interested in joining me on this….Details to come!
Since it’s the last day of August, and fall is fast approaching, I’ve been reevaluating a lot of my goals. What better time to start fresh than what’s the beginning of the school year for many? And I guess I like starting fresh a lot. Anyway, along with new goals usually comes a little introspection, so here’s what I was thinking about this week. Be back soon with some new goals for fall and healthy autumn things I’m excited about!
It’s funny, I’ve never been a dramatic person. Growing up, I had plenty of friends, but I always kind of just naturally stayed out of trouble and just… out of the way. Arguments with friends (rather small ones, by the way) were resolved quickly and anticlimactically, breakups were painless enough and always seemed to be on friendly terms, and my parents had it relatively easy seeing how I never went through that whole ‘teen angst’ phase. I was never the friend with the story, and besides when I was on stage singing, I wasn’t the center of attention, and I was just fine with that. It wasn’t that I never had any excitement, but it was just usually the good kind, and the letdowns were small or kept to myself. The decisions I made — good or bad (but mostly good, because I was, as I like to say, annoyingly well-behaved) — didn’t impact too many people, left me with no sworn enemies, and never made me wonder if my friends would have my back. I even lived in a sorority house with 71 other women, escaping with minimal drama. The biggest issue I had was one sister sending out a house email about the loofah left in the shower (really?) that just happened to be mine, which I don’t think she expected because when I fessed up immediately (uh, it was an accident?) she stopped her tirade on the spot. No, really. A house full of Greek estrogen, and the worst problem I had was that someone made fun of my sponge. Clearly, I wasn’t vying for the drama queen title.
But recently, in the last year or so, I’ve gotten a little more…dramatic. And I don’t mean that I’m just emoting more (ask my sister — I’ve been doing that my entire life). I mean that I feel I’ve been stirring things up and making decisions that I knew would lead to drama because I was craving something. Excitement? Attention? To break free from the nice girl stigma once and for all? I’m not sure whether I was trying to make up for lost time by choosing the paths that would potentially harm me or those around me (don’t worry, I didn’t do anything that bad), but it definitely affected how I was thinking and acting. Romances coming to a close seemed to cut a little deeper, I started noticing more problems in my friendships, and my parents, unfortunately, suffered some of the backlash of me trying to navigate life as an unwilling participant in adulthood. (Sorry, Mom and Dad! Thought you got lucky on that one, huh?)
I didn’t know what was going on. Until… suddenly, as drama-averse as I’ve been my whole life, I got it. I understood why some folks thrive on being in the thick of it and always having someone or something you feel you’re up against. It’s almost as if it’s a high you’re chasing, always looking for the next story or the next little spark to get you through to the next day. It’s a fear of being bored, or maybe, of being boring. Is that was I was rebelling against or running from?
But the thing is, I didn’t have, nor do I want to have, the resources to keep going after it, to keep hunting down that high. I realized that staying up there for so long only leads to a near-fatal crash, so recently, I chose to face the drama, let myself down right then and there, and just hope for a softer landing that might break an arm, but still leave me standing. (So… maybe I need to work on my metaphors.) Anyway, it sucked. For a few days there, the prospect of letting things go and letting myself just be, well, myself — boring Saturday nights on the couch and all — while working on me, was kind of daunting. The thought of facing myself and my goals and the work I need to do to become the person I want to be is more than slightly overwhelming. But I keep reminding myself that I don’t really just want to be the girl with the story — or at least not the kind of stories I was telling. I want to be interesting because of me, plain and simple. I’m over being Jersey Shore, and I’m ready to be OK with being a PBS documentary. At least then I’d be educational, and not in a cautionary tale sort of way.
Because like I said, I’ve never had a penchant for drama.
I have, however, always have a thing for sugar. Which, funny enough, is not entirely unrelated to drama. (You know this is a health blog, did you not expect me to tie it in somehow?) If you think about it, the two have a lot in common. Both are addictive but definitely not necessary. Both boost you up, get you buzzing — at least temporarily — and crash you down. HARD. Both make you lose yourself a bit in the moment, and after, you’re left wondering what just happened, and why you went that far. Both affect your moods and can even make you act a bit irrationally. Both trigger intense cravings for more of the same. Both, until you quit, always make you feel like you need more to keep you going. And after both, you never really like yourself as much when all is said and done.
So what am I doing now? What am I getting at by comparing sugar and drama? What am I changing now that I’ve opined at length about how both have had a negative impact on my life? Besides the fact that both can have detrimental effects on your physical and mental wellbeing, both are hard to just give up. I would love to say I’m planning to make a clean break and cut myself off completely from both, and I challenge you all to join me.
But… I also know that I’m human and that, if you ask, I can give you countless examples of how I respond when I make too many drastic changes at once. I think since I’ve had a whole lot less drama in my life, that one will be easier to cut. I don’t really have too many positive associations tied to it, and I’m pretty sure I was over it before it even began. But the sugar? It’s much more of an addiction, with many more positive feelings attached to it, and that one will be a fight. One worth the battle, absolutely, but a fight nonetheless. Ultimately, though? I can see myself doing without both, and I plan on working hard at getting rid of both temptations. And maybe I’ll do a little ‘life detox’ of sorts. I don’t know yet, but I’ll keep you posted. Fresh start for fall, anyone?
OK, slight exaggeration, but I’ve had a really hard time getting all of my water in lately. This makes zero sense because it’s been a million degrees here, and that should make me want to drink more water, right?
Apparently not. I’ve been drinking about 2 or 3 liters of water per day, which seems pretty good for the average person. But when you’ve been drinking 4.5 to 6 liters everyday for a very long time, your body kind of doesn’t know what to do with itself. I’ve been tired, slightly unmotivated, thirsty, and I just haven’t felt as good. This should be enough to push me to chug a few bottles, but I just haven’t done it! Whether it’s a sudden boredom with h20, the fact that I now get most of my cardio while biking around the city (no bottle rack yet), or being in an air-conditioned studio a lot of the day, I’ve got to figure out the reason. I’ve started off every single day of the last two weeks saying, ‘OK, you’ve got to get at least 4 in today. Just 4.’ or ‘No coffee until you’ve had at LEAST a liter.’ I start off strong, and right around 4pm, I just don’t want to drink any more water! The thing is, I’ve never had this problem, and I’ve never been one of those ‘Ugh-I hate-water’ people, so I don’t know what’s going on.
But…that’s gotta stop. Even when everything else falls apart, I’m always good about water. Once the water things slides, I know I’m in trouble. So to keep all of my other healthy habits going, I’m going to get back to my mega-hydrating ways — even if that means I have to schedule out when I should be drinking water in the same way I plan out my meals. This is just a really odd struggle for me!
Have you ever had one of your usual healthy habits slip? Did you figure out what caused it? How did you fix it? Help a sister out and spill!
I know so many of us in the blogosphere have talked about women’s health and fitness magazines and all of the ridiculous information they sometimes spew, but I do think there’s a difference between some of the mags out there. I had been meaning to write this post for a while, but at a staff meeting this weekend, another trainer I know reminded me of how completely silly these publications can be. After she told me I looked like I was leaning out a little bit, I said thanks and then promptly whined that I kept hearing that but wasn’t seeing it on the scale. She shook her head at me and asked if I was a trainer or a client. Fair enough. I know that as a trainer, I should be focusing on body composition and changes other than those on just the scale, but there is a always a little client in me — namely a female client who has been conditioned to equate a downward change on the scale with success.
She then picked up the issue of Self we have sitting in the lobby, and said, “Help me, Kim Kardashian, how can I lose those last 10 pounds? How can I make it easy? What do I doooo?” OK, OK, I got it. I shouldn’t be so focused on the number on the scale, even when it’s what these women’s mags have drilled into my head. So in that spirit, I started thinking of which ones have actually given me good information, and which ones have just regurgitated what I already know (and have already read a million times) from their last 20 issues. Starting at the bottom, here’s my hierarchy of women’s health magazines:
Health: To me, this one is all the way at the bottom because it is seriously the most generic of them all. They tell you the same thing every single month, and it’s always about shrinking some part of your body, but doing it the easiest way possible. ’Sub in skim milk for whole, and you’ll save hundreds of calories!’ Well, thanks, Health — since I couldn’t have figured this one out from reading the nutrition facts. If you’re an absolute newbie to health and fitness, then this might be good for you, but after a while, even novices will catch on that they’ve already read the newest issue… last month. Consider this the tricycle of health mags. A decent start, but it won’t be long until you’re onto a big girl bike with training wheels. Oh, and they have super random celebs that aren’t doing much other than commercials (Brooke Shields) or trying to sell their new book or reality show (Bethenny Frankel). I do love Lauren Graham, though.
Fitness, Self: These two are on the same level for me. They might give you a new tidbit of information every month, but it’s usually something that would have been common sense if you really thought hard enough about it. They both tell you that you can have your dream body if you tack on an extra 10-minute walk on your lunch break, which, well, isn’t true. At all. Those women with your dream body? They put in the WORK. Or have amazing genes. Either way, the tiny tweaks they suggest aren’t going to do it. Both of these mags also have otherwise very intelligent women fearing fat, protein, and heavy weights. Yeah, that 10-lb dumbbell is tooootally going to bulk you up, better grab a three! And the amount they talk about happiness and how it will help you melt away weight and other health issues is ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I think mental health is so important to overall wellbeing, but at some point after you’ve worked on your head, you will have to work on your body to see real results. Even the celebs they have on their covers repeat the same happiness speeches over and over again. I was reading Self last month, and Minka Kelly (who I normally adore) was talking about how she finally came to terms with her body… and then got in amazing shape! I had to flip the cover over to make sure I hadn’t already read this issue, because there was some serious fitness mag deja vu going on.
Shape: I like Shape, I do. It’s better than the others previously mentioned, but frankly, I still don’t buy it off of the newsstands. One, because my gym has it, so I can just read it when I’m there. And two, I probably can still get all of the info I need from one of their back issues. They give you a little more science-based information with the diagrams of the muscle groups in their moves of the month, and they do tell you to strength train. However, they still equate skinny with sexy and healthy a little too much for my liking. They also talk a little too much about style and beauty for a health mag — if I wanted to know how to get beachy waves while wearing my shape-flattering bikini, why wouldn’t I just read Glamour? Or Elle? Or another style magazine? And I roll my eyes every single time I see an ad for Skinny Cow ice cream or 100-cal packs juxtaposed with an article about eating real, whole foods.
Women’s Health: As far as mainstream women’s health publications go, WH is my absolute favorite. I would totally get a subscription to this one…if, again, my gym didn’t already have it. I do feel that they provide new information (at least a little) in each issue, and they don’t coddle their readers quite so much. They get a little more scientific and explain muscle groups and chemical processes in the body in depth and don’t seem to be afraid of scaring readers off by getting technical. They also aren’t constantly ramming ‘think positive thoughts!’ and ‘go easy on yourself!’ messages down their readers’ throats. It’s clear that the editors at WH think you have to work harder if you want to look or perform better. The other topics they talk about like sexual and mental health aren’t covered up by cutesy euphemisms either, which I appreciate, since I think any of us reading the mag are big girls. And while they do have some skinny fitness models featured, they also have some women with kickass abs, quads, and biceps that you know didn’t come about by just taking walks or curling 5-pounders.
Oxygen: This one isn’t quite as mainstream, but as far as women’s health magazines go, I think it’s the best one out there. I actually buy this one every month, and think I’m just going to go ahead and get a subscription. They cut out most of the beauty and style stuff that we can find in, uh, beauty and style magazines, and pack each issue full of new workouts, clean eating recipes (no 100-cal packs to be found!), and new research. The cover models are always ripped, and are usually someone whose fame has come about because she’s an athlete (Dara Torres, Jamie Eason) rather than a movie/pop/reality star. I know being jacked isn’t everyone’s ideal, but I think this publication does a much better job of educating its readers so that they can make informed decisions on their training and diet based on how they want to look and feel. I’ve found a lot of exercises that, as a trainer, I love to incorporate into my own workouts as well as my clients’. I also appreciate that they don’t always tell readers to find the lowest calorie item, but the cleanest calorie item– meaning whole foods! And they make it clear that looking a certain way takes work, and lots of it. The only other thing that might turn people off is the excessive number of ads for protein powder and fat burners. But if you can get past that, you’ll learn a lot more reading this magazine than Health or Self.
What do you think? Which mag is your favorite and which ones can you do without? Did I miss one? Spill!
Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about this figure competition. Like… A LOT. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about it, and I’ve had a lot of people who keep asking me about it, but I think I could tone it down and not be all about it for a bit, you know? I’m going to keep some of it to myself for a little while — or at least try not to go overboard and make it the focus of my entire life, even if it does require a higher level of commitment. (As far as the blog goes, I’m going to work on a separate page so that anyone interested can check that out instead of having to read it all the time here! I may still brag about my squats, though.)
So what got me thinking about this a little more? I had a conversation with one of my bosses about chatting with our members about body image and changing the way we talk about it. She knows about my blog, so I brought up a post I wrote about a year ago asking if eating disorders were contagious. At the time, I was working with a bunch of guys who all had athletic goals, but whose training and diet plans bordered on crazy. And if they would have been females, they would have had big scarlet ‘ED’s on their foreheads. Because they were male, however, they were ‘dedicated.’
Anyway, with all my talk about body love, self esteem, and the like, I didn’t want to give anyone the wrong impression that I’m changing my tune and telling everyone that they need to look or train a certain way just because I am. We all have different standards and goals, and I hope we can all learn to love what we’ve got (and keep getting healthier!), no matter what. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to do this show is because I needed something competitive in my life. I was raised an athlete, and I truly miss it — the training for this seems to fill a void and drive me forward. But another reason I chose to compete (October! Finally picked an exact date!), is because I know that I can’t slip back into old bad habits if I want to succeed in this. Are figure competitors pretty rigid in how they eat and train? Yep, but at the same time, I know that I can’t eat too little or go too cardio crazy because I’ll actually hurt my progress and lose muscle. I’ve got to plan and count, but in a sense, I’m making sure I’m not causing myself any harm.
So with conversations I’ve had lately, my own training, and an ED certification I just finished up, I’ve started thinking again about whether EDs are ‘contagious,’ or at least whether or not we health nuts are going to be a little more predisposed since we live and breathe this stuff. I want to open this topic back up to people who may not have read the post last year…what do you think? Are EDs and disordered eating catching? Have your health habits ever been influenced by those around you? Go check out the post, and whether it’s here or there…Spill! I know you’ll have some interesting things to say about this one!
You know how sometimes after you’ve been working really hard at a fitness goal like losing weight or toning up, you look in the mirror and you see…nothing? Like zero changes, no difference, the exact same thing you saw a month ago even though you’ve been busting your ass. But then, lo and behold, you step on the scale and you’re down a few lbs, or you whip out that measuring tape and you’ve gained an inch on your formerly puny biceps. You don’t catch it because you see yourself every single day. But in truth, according to the numbers, you certainly have changed.
As many times as I’ve told my clients that it’s all about feeling a difference, sometimes, just sometimes, numbers really are the best indicator of progress. The trick to this one is focusing on one reliable set of numbers instead of trying to juggle a bunch of them. So if you’re measuring your waist every few weeks, go by that, not the number on the scale, especially if you’re strength training (but for the record, after working out for a week your weight will not go up yet from muscle gain — takes a little longer than that, folks). If you’re looking to lower body fat percentage, use the same handheld BIA device every time you test yourself and throw the BMI chart out the window.
For me, a huge measure of progress has been how I’m doing in the gym. Despite being told by multiple people that I look like my training is paying off, the number on my scale is decreasing at an extremely disappointing rate. So to stay upbeat about everything I’m doing, I’ve got to base my progress on another set of numbers — how much I can lift and how many reps I can eke out. And as with other measures of progress, I keep it consistent and keep my routine the same every week. Like most people have the same weigh-in day every week, I do the exact same workouts on the same days of the week. But in this case, I want to see an increase in those numbers. When I look back to where I first started, I see how far I’ve come. I don’t just feel stronger the way you might simply feel better in your clothes — I can actually say that I am stronger.
In my case, one set of numbers is clearly working for me, and the other isn’t cooperating quite as well. But what about you? Do you base your progress on a set of numbers? Which set(s)? Why did you choose that one? Is it more about a feeling for you? Spill!
Just a little something I thought I’d share.
‘You have forgotten that you are unique. In the history of the world, there will never be another you. So why are you trying to look like someone else?’
Happy Friday! Have a happy, healthy weekend!
So last night as I was sweating away, doing my cardio (yeah, my Friday nights are super exciting), I was thinking about which music pumps me up to push another mile or another 5 minutes and why. And I must have been inspired by Angela and Bess because I wanted to share some of my workout tunes with you. Here are some of the songs that kept me moving yesterday when I almost skipped the gym:
This Keri Hilson song goes along with that whole vanity thing. But hey, I like being cute, which is one of the reasons I work out. The song’s a little cocky, but I love that about it. I also love that she doesn’t necessarily relate being ‘pretty’ with being a certain size (so many female artists do this, and it drives me nuts), and she tells all the ladies to do the ‘Pretty Girl Rock’ because we all should know we’re beautiful. Amen, girl. This song totally makes me do a little hip pop every now and then on the treadmill or elliptical. Good thing I go to the gym at off hours.
This song is NOT new, but it came on last night, and I was jamming at the gym. Again, such a good thing I go to the gym at weird times. I love JLo, her dancing, her gigantic fly girl hoops, her ridiculousness, and her confidence (mostly about her ridiculousness). And I can’t help but rock out to her stuff because she’s a fellow lady with a behind. I can’t help it! I totally have a girl crush on her — along with Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj, and Jessica Biel. I’m sensing a theme!
Just good for sprints or if you’re angry. Nothing else to say about it. This song never fails me.
Yes, I know she’s like 9. Yes, I’m completely serious. This one warrants a hip swivel (as long as I’m not running –disaster!) instead of a pop. You know what I mean.
This one makes me feel like a BA chick in a completely different way. Also good for sprints. Or imagining yourself wearing black eye liner, sneering, and strutting around with hair that belongs in a White Snake video.
For some reason, this song was my go-to running jam for a while (while I was still running a lot). I would turn it on for timed half miles, knowing that if I wasn’t almost done with 800m before Jeezy was done rapping, I had better pick up the pace. “No pain is forever. Yup, you know this” always pushed me on when I was thinking of how much I didn’t want to run that day. And this song still wakes me up every morning! (That’s more out of laziness though, since I just haven’t changed the CD in my alarm clock in a year. The ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ at the beginning apparently isn’t quite annoying enough yet.)
This one seriously makes me want to dance during cardio. And I am slowly revealing myself as that crazy person at the gym right now.
Speaking of the Gaga, this one is amazing for intervals. Stay steady on the verses and go all out on the choruses. I usually pick up the pace even more on the bridge.
Equal parts anger, defiance, and optimism. I like it. I feel a little invincible (maybe even… bulletproof?) when working out to this song. Get ‘em, girl.
You know what this sampling of my cardio tunes has shown me? a) That I totally know why people pick the treadmills farthest from me, b) that I’m all about the girl power (OK, like that’s a revelation), and c) that I need some new music since nothing on this list is even remotely new. (Still working on uploading some of the awesome suggestions I got a few weeks back!)
What tunes do you rock out to for cardio? Do you share any of my favorites? Do you think I desperately need to update my iPod? Spill!
Hi all! I’ve gotten a number of emails asking when this challenge was starting, and unfortunately we’re going to push it back a week or two. Life has just been unexpectedly crazy the past few weeks, and I didn’t want the challenge to fall apart because I was all over the place. Plus, I need a certain number of participants and I’m still one or two shy because some folks were still deciding and hadn’t gotten back to me. SO, if you are still interested in the fitness challenge, then shoot me an email (hguith at gmail dot com) with your ‘YES, Heather, I need a kick in the pants because I still haven’t used my gym membership I bought on December 31st, and I think my gym is laughing its way to the bank at all of the resolution saps, and I don’t want to be one of them’ response. Or you know, just, ‘Yeah, I want a chance to win money for working out.’ If you didn’t get the details the first time around, shoot me an email too! I can send you the rules in a separate email and we can go from there. The main idea is that you need to move 30 minutes per day for 30 days. And just a reminder that the grand prize is worth at least $250! And I’ll have some other prizes as well, in different categories, so don’t fret if you don’t win the overall prize! I want everyone of every fitness level to be able to participate, so email me for details or to confirm your participation.
In other news, how are everyone’s goals (if you set any) coming along? So far so good on mine! I haven’t missed any workouts, I’m in the process of clearing the junk from my room, and I’ve been pretty social if I do say so myself! So tell me how you’re doing and how you plan to go get ‘em this month! Spill!