Unless you live off the grid, you are well aware that sugar is one of the biggest culprits to blame for America's obesity crisis. But those little crystals we use to sweeten our coffee and baked goods is only part of the problem. What we really need to focus on is ALL carbohydrates and how they impact a little hormone called INSULIN.
What is Insulin
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It is secreted whenever your blood sugar rises. Blood sugar rises when glucose (sugar) enters the blood stream after eating foods that include carbohydrates.
When blood sugar spikes, insulin comes to the rescue, either directing it to be used as energy (YAY!!) or stored as fat (BOO!!)
Not all carbohydrates are treated equally. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables all contain carbohydrates but also provide a dose of healthy vitamins, minerals and fiber. This helps keep the blood sugar spike low. These can be especially helpful when engaging in moderate to vigorous activities such as exercise to provide lasting energy throughout a workout.
Refined sugar, like the sugar added to your coffee or tea and added to baked goods and soda, is not so kind. Sugar may grow from the ground in the form of sugar can but it is highly refined and contains no nutrition value...only calories. AND... when it enters the blood stream, it causes a massive sugar spike resulting in the production of insulin and glucose being pushed into fat cells for storage. Bottom line is consuming refined sugar results in a blood sugar spike causing insulin to be secreted to collect and push this glucose into fat cells causing weight gain.
In addition to the sugary beverages and baked goods, some so called "healthy" foods can also cause a spike in insulin. Foods that have been refined or processed such as white bread and pasta, starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn and high glycemic fruits like bananas and pineapple can have the same effect. Does this mean you have to take the banana out of your green smoothie? No! You will just want to be aware of WHEN you consume it. Just before a vigorous workout or long walk or hike is best as you will end up using the glucose to fuel your workout and support a strong finish!
As your pancreas continues to pump out insulin, it gets tired. It goes into a kind of autopilot, secreting and pumping out insulin to the point the body becomes resistant to it. This is called Insulin Resistance and is partly responsible for the rise in obesity among Americans.
So what can you do to control your insulin?
It all comes down to the recommendations you have heard time and time again. Eat healthy (low carb, whole foods), exercise regularly and get plenty of restful sleep. You will also want to be aware of what healthy fruits, vegetables and grains are likely to spike your blood sugar (High Glycemic) and which keep it under control (Low Glycemic). There is a great app you can download that will help you quickly identify these foods called Glycemic Index Load Net Carbs. Stick to foods that rank low on the Glycemic Index.
Healthy Food is YOUR responsibility
According to The American Heart Association, Americans consume an average of 77 grams of added sugar, almost three times the recommended amount for women. Big Food Companies make it harder and harder to spot healthy foods. Labels like "All Natural", "Gluten Free", "Great Source of Whole Grains" and "Heart Healthy" make it difficult to pass up that box of cereal with the picture of the farm at sunrise on the front.
By law, these companies need to provide ALL the facts, not just the ones that help them sell. However, these facts are on the nutrition facts label that is usually hidden from view through strategic display placement in the supermarket.
The info is there, it is YOUR responsibility is to gather the facts and make an INFORMED decision...but you need to know where to find it and how to decipher all that info! No worries, I broke it down into a few simple steps.
If a food does not meet most or all of these requirements, it is time to break up with it and find a healthier alternative:
I challenge you to go through your pantry and fridge right now. Do a little detox and get rid of foods that break multiple rules. If you are having trouble deciphering, I recommend the app Fooducate. This app allows you to scan the barcode of a food, provide a letter grade with reasons and recommend healthier options for the foods that may not make the grade. Give it a try!
And do NOT feel guilty about throwing away food that doesn't meet the grade. I sympathize with the thought of neighbors not having enough food, but no one should be eating unhealthy Frankenfood. Throw it out, ease your guilt with a food pantry donation of HEALTHY non-perishables and move forward knowing you are doing your part for your health AND your community!
Look at you....ROCKSTAR!!
I'm feeling disappointed and vulnerable
It is time to put it all out there. I have hidden behind a facade too long and my "comfortable" is becoming very uncomfortable...and not in a good way.
The pandemic has taken away a part of me that I worked so hard for. Where I once woke early to get in an awakening, mood boosting workout now includes hitting the snooze alarm with false promises of a workout later. There is envy watching my son effortlessly run a 5K knowing I would be lucky to make it a half mile before slowing my pace to a walk or complaining of aches and pains. The endless trying on clothes in my closet to find nothing fits or the fit is extremely unflattering.
This is disappointment at is finest.
There once was a time when I got excited about signing up for charity 5Ks and the training for a purpose that came with it. I am blessed with a body that can do things others cannot and I can use it to pay back all I have to be grateful and thankful for when it comes to my health and well-being. Crossing the finish line was an accomplishment that I could be proud of, pushing myself and testing my limits. At my healthiest, I felt alive and happy and wanted to pay it forward.
A Pandemic is NOT an excuse
One day in March of 2020, I was preparing for two weeks of remote teaching as the world was preparing to "flatten the curve" of the Coronavirus infections. I would be sitting at a computer most of my days, not walking a classroom, hallways and playground accumulating 15,000 steps a day.
Two weeks turned into 18 months. My step count decreased to about 2,000 steps by the end of the school day. My gym closed and my intense, personal trainer led workouts were diverted to a virtual session where I could easily hide out of camera view and get away with less than par abdominal crunches (if I did them at all).
But this was not my fault...I had an excuse, right?
Maybe my mind thought this, but the scale, my clothes, my energy and my strength would disagree.
I am so disappointed in how far I let this go!
Snap back to reality!
I was thinking at this point I would share a :"today" picture to show how far down I have gone. There is no picture. I looked for one but then realized I am a master at avoiding the camera. If I don't see it, it is not a problem, right?
My snap back to reality came while listening to David Goggins talk about his book "Can't Hurt Me" as I listened on Audible. It was during a break in the narration when Goggins was talking with the narrator and made a comment about life coaches. Being a Health Coach, it hit a nerve when he spoke of how some coaches preach pushing the limits and practicing healthy habits and then go home and binge watch TV while eating Ding Dongs.
I have been caught. My impostor syndrome a reality.
While I did not quite sink to the level of ding dongs, Twinkies and Hostess cupcakes, there was some honesty and responsibility I had to face in his statement. I was preaching meal prep, food diaries and red zone exercising...but I was not practicing it myself. I do not want to be the "Do as I say, not as I do" coach, nor do I want to make it OK to say being overweight and not fitting into my jeans is "OK and I need to accept it" when inside I am feeling depressed and disappointed.
Roger That, David Goggins.
Today is my Day 1!
This vulnerable blog is my way of putting it out there, acknowledging my setback, taking ownership of how I feel and what I need to do to improve, because no one is going to do it for me. This is hard, but necessary.
I will begin my Sunday morning practice of planning meals, writing a grocery list, scheduling my workouts and planning my week to include work, family and social activities.
This is not going to be easy and I will need support. My family will be on this journey with me. The junk food will not come into the house. Lunches will be prepped and packed and meals will be at the table on most nights.
No one is going to give me my health.
No one will carry me through the next 5K.
This body, this health is MY responsibility.
If I want it, I have to go out and get it.
This is my journey...and it starts NOW!
You are Invited!
As I mentioned, being a health coach, I aspire to inspire others to create their own journey. Acknowledging their starting point, visualizing their destination of health and wellness, creating their path and overcoming the obstacles.
I am on a journey and would like to invite you to join me. Having the support of others will increase both our chances of success.
I am running an 8 week Challenge which includes all the steps I will take to begin getting my old self back. Along with a supportive group, we can take this journey together, creating an individual path with actions that will keep you on track to your goals. A path that will include obstacles you will overcome with the help of like minded peers on a similar journey.
If you would like to join me and begin taking steps to your own optimal health and wellness, learn more here. This journey is a challenge but not one you need to go alone.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story, to empathize with my disappointment and vulnerability. I hope you are feeling inspired and motivated by it. If so, please leave a comment below.
Have you heard of the Vision Board?
A Vision Board is a collage of pictures and words that depict ones goals and vision. Their purpose is to inspire and motivate the creator to go oit and reach their goals.
Perhaps you have seen beautiful collages with pictures and images of far off places, empowering words and elegantly hand lettered titles that depict one's life goals and dreams. Perhaps you are a little intimidated or worried you don't have the time or imagination to create such a work of art. Don't worry if you lack hand lettering skills or would rather read a good magazine than thumb through it for the perfect picture of that dream vacation. I am going to share a few simple steps you can take to create your own collage that will inspire you to reach new heights!
Where to Start
There are many ways to Vision Board. It can be as simple as doodles on a piece of paper, a poster board collage or a digital compilation. I, personally, like using Canva to create digital boards. I can use their photos, play with fun and pretty fonts and print multiple copies for myself when I am finished.
Here is my 2021 Vision Board:
The images and words only have to have meaning to the person creating it. When I look at my vision board, I am reminded that my family is important and to be sure to carve out time to foster and build healthy relationships. Fueling my body through healthy food and exercise is a priority. I am reminded to push outside my comfort zone if I want to be successful and as I grow my business, I use the word Fearless when I am feeling hesitant or scared to promote a new product.
Whether you are creating a board as a New Years Resolution or you are starting a new journey, it is time to get started. Follow these simple steps to create your own Vision Board.
The MOST important part of this project is to post your board where you will see it often. If you created a digital board, make it your phone or computer background. Hang a copy in your office if this is where you spend most of your day. Stick it to the fridge or hang it next to the bathroom mirror.
Displaying it and seeing it often is an empowering action that will remind you to make every day matter. Every decision you make, every action you take should be something that gets you closer to at least one thing on your board.
Don't worry if you do not achieve everything on your board within the time frame you chose. The goal is to get closer and accomplish as much as you can. At the end of your goal timeline, reflect on what you have accomplished, reward yourself, take a short break and then prepare to create your next vision board.
Have you made a Vision Board?
Have you created Vision Boards? What do you find most valuable when creating Vision Boards?
There is something about the feeling just after cleaning a room. That sense of accomplishment for all the hard work you put into scrubbing. The openness when everything is put away. The smell of clean.
Over the years I have set a goal for myself to wean off of harsh chemical cleaners that are bad for the environment or worse, bad for the health of my family. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping you live your healthiest life, states that chemical cleaners may induce asthma, contain cancer causing ingredients and cause allergic reactions and serious physical burns to the skin.
This does not bode well with me!
In an effort to reduce my and my family's exposure, I have researched a few simple ways to replace these harsh chemicals with gentler more natural ones that keep us safe and also protect the environment. Disclaimer: I am not perfect. I do still have a stash of chemicals such as bleach and bathroom cleaner but use them only in case of emergency (aka the dog decided to take a mud bath and now I have to do a deep disinfecting of the tub and all her towels).
Here I will share the recipes I use to make my own as well as a few resources to purchase "done for you" cleaners
Most commercial carpet and fabric fresheners such as this Febreze receive low scores from EWG because they can cause allergic reactions or induce asthma. In addition, carpet fresheners only cover the odors, not necessarily "clean". On my quest to find a healthier alternative, I found myself in the baking in the baking aisle at the supermarket. I combined 1 1/2 cups of baking soda with 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil, whisked it together and let it sit for about an hour to allow the lavender to infuse. Sprinkled on my carpet, let sit for half an hour and vacuumed it up. It may be my imagination, but I do believe even Daisy Dog acts a little more calm after a refreshing carpet cleaning.
Keeping those Circadian Rhythms in balance is a must for good sleep. Throwing up the blinds to let the sun shine in is much more pleasant with clean and streak free windows. Unfortunately, those bottles of blue liquid score poorly on the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning. My plastic bottles have been replaced with a more decorative glass spray bottle (I love this one from Grove Co.) filled with a blend of vinegar, rubbing alcohol, water and essential oils. Skip the paper towels and opt for microfiber cloths or black and white newspaper (trust me...it works!!)
All Purpose Cleaning and Disinfecting Spray
After researching different all purpose cleaners and disinfectants, I have learned that many of them get poor grades with an emphasis on the dangers to one's health as well as the environment. Now more than ever, I want to make sure I am keeping the germs to a minimum but not at the expense of my family's safety. These toxic cleaners were some of the first to go on my quest. I now disinfect with a spray bottle filled with a blend of 190 proof alcohol, vinegar, water and a boost of antimicrobial lemon myrtle and pine essential oils. The smell is wonderfully refreshing and it leaves my counters and bathroom clean and sparkling.
Done for You Cleaners
Maybe you are not ready to make the investment into DIY cleaners. As I mentioned, this has been a journey where I have found a balance between making my own, slowly adding to my essential oil collection, and store bought cleaners. My biggest pet peeve about store bought is the one time use plastic containers that even the greenest cleaners are packaged in. Many companies are popping up with more environmentally friendly products that are minimally packaged, good for the environment, cost efficient and\, well, kinda fun (in a "I need to find some joy in cleaning).
When choosing done for you products, these are my go-to brands, most of which are available in stores
Cleaning is a chore, but one that can be made a little more enjoyable with the right products and perhaps a great playlist. You will be able to reap the benefits of the essential oils long after you have put the dusting cloths away.
Will you join me in my quest to use healthier and safer cleaning alternatives and reduce your use of plastics?
Share you ideas in the comments.
Maybe it was the the global pandemic., the overwhelm of my son's recent surgery, coping with the loss of my nephew, the physical pain I have in my knee and shoulder or the feelings of "not good enough" that have me way off course when it comes to my health. Whatever the cause, the consequences and results are too strong to ignore any longer. I sense it every time I put on my clothes and struggle to button the once loose fitting shorts. I feel it each time my sleep deprivation causes a bitter reaction to a simple request by my husband. It is felt in the struggle of wanting to eat healthy but not having the energy or motivation to write a shopping list let alone shop and prep for a week that in which every waking moment is scheduled with appointments, practice, meetings or chauffeuring.
But I have to do something. The scale is up, last years clothes do not fit and there are more elastic waist bands in my closet than I care to admit.
The First Step
I have said it time and again, the first step to change is acknowledging the problem...and it can be the hardest step to take! I am currently at the crossroads of throwing my hands in the air and saying "I Quit" and giving myself a good kick in the ass to "get moving!" Sure it would be easy to point the finger at the current pandemic or sit and feel sorry for myself (pity party for one, please) but these behaviors will certainly not get me to my destination, or even back on track towards my health goals.
So...Consider this my official acknowledgement that I have veered off course and it is time to find my way back.
The starting point
Health is multi-dimensional, and when one dimension is off, the rest become stressed, trying to pick up the slack. It is important to routinely check in with the 8 Dimensions of Health to find where the imbalance is. You can learn more about the 8 Dimensions of Health here as well as download my free worksheet that helps you discover which area may be holding you back from feeling your best.
One quiet morning, after the dog has been walked and the coffee has brewed, I sat with this worksheet and plotted my location in each area. It was no surprise to see that all areas are affected, but my weakest area lately is physical health. My eating habits have been a free for all, meal planning and prep is but a memory and admittedly, my exercise can be narrowed down to taking the dog for a walk and shifting my dumbbells to vacuum around them.
So here I am, knowing my problem and ready to make a change.
It is so frustrating to have to start again as a beginner. However, this is my reality and I am ready to face it head on.
Dinners out with late night dessert and cocktails will have to be reigned in and crowded out with whole foods and water. Exercise will be scheduled each day and making time for spiritual practice and journaling will become a priority. Most importantly, a focus on healthy sleep habits will ultimately result in all of this coming together to make me feel healthy in my own skin and body.
If you have read my previous blogs, worked with me in the past or just know me, you will already know a healthy lifestyle involves planning and preparation. About 1 week prior to the start date, I take the following steps:
In addition to these important steps, support and accountability ups your chances of success. I have always had the best results when working with a partner or group.
If you are ready for a healthy change, looking for accountability or want to take this journey to a healthier lifestyle with others on a similar path, join me in my Fall Health and Wellness Challenge beginning September 26th.
Today's blog comes with permission to share and send to your significant other and children.
Mother's Day is approaching and it is the one day we take to recognize all the work you put into this 24/7/365 job.
There is a saying I try to embrace each day, especially when I am feeling the tank is running low.
Easier said than done, am I right?
Mom's are known to put their children and families ahead of their own health and well-being. You sacrifice your workout to bring the kids to practice, cook what you know the kids will eat instead of the healthy meal you deserve, skimp on sleep to finish housework or a project that was put on the back burner until you had a little peace and quiet. There is not enough caffeine in the world that will replace the essential benefits of taking care of your needs FIRST!
You are an Essential Worker
While recognizing first responders, the medical community and grocery store staff during this pandemic, let's add Mom to the list of essential workers. THANK YOU!
You have taken on many roles throughout this pandemic. If you are not taking care of your essential needs, you will burn out...and then you CANNOT take care of others. It is time to take on the role of SELF!
So, how do you keep your cup filled?
Self Care for Mom
Mother's day is here. You have worked hard. While the pasta necklace and hand print in clay is loved and appreciated, maybe a few subliminal hints to some well deserved gifts of appreciation that help fill your cup is necessary. I have created a list of 10 items I recommend that provide a mom with stress free, relaxing time, gadgets to make life easier and a few "Me Time" ideas. Feel free to print it out and leave in a conspicuous place for gift givers to see.
Post may include affiliate links. I may receive compensation if a purchase is made through these links. This helps support me and my efforts to educate and inspire women to be their healthiest. I only recommend products and services I actually use or would purchase. Thank you for your support of my wellness business.
Self Care is NOT Selfish
One thought you MUST let go of is that self care is selfish...it is NOT!! In fact, it is necessary. If you have no gas in the tank, have depleted your back up energy and are running on fumes and caffeine, you are unable to give to your loved ones the care and love you want to give and they need. Even worse, you run the risk of burnout, adrenal fatigue and metal illness.
Put yourself first, mom.
Give yourself permission to love and care for yourself.
Mother's Day should be EVERY day!
You are doing a great job.
You are awesome.
In case you need reinforcement, give this a watch and then ask your kids what they think about you using these questions from iMom. I would love if you shared some of their responses in the comments below!
Happy Mother's Day
From one mom to anther, I want to wish you the happiest, self loving, most relaxing and memorable mother's day.
Be kind. Hug a lot and tell your kids you love them.
Health and Happiness
Sometime in the 90's, a miracle happened. My overweight, junk food loving self could suddenly get fat free cookies and cakes and wash it down with zero calorie soda. To a girl who could drink a 2 liter bottle a day, this was music to my ears. No longer did I have to feel guilty if I ate a whole box of cookies, as long as they came in a green box labeled "Snack Wells". Who needs to drink water when Diet Coke tasted better and had the same amount of calories? I could even douse my broccoli with butter that I could not believe was NOT butter!! The food industry had revolutionized diet foods and convinced America this was the new "Healthy". Surely "fat free" would keep Americans svelte and decrease the risk of heart disease and other obesity related chronic illness.
Hindsight is 20/20
Today, the rate of obesity is at a record high. Heart disease is the leading cause of death, adult onset diabetes has been renamed to Type II Diabetes since more and more children were getting diagnosed and the rate of childhood obesity went from 12% in 1990 to 23% by 2005.
Oops....maybe my fat free miracle wasn't such a miracle after all.
But how could this be? There was scientific proof that too much fat made people, well, fat. Doctors were telling patients to lower their fat intake. Nutritionists touted the food pyramid and recommended lots of grains in the form of bread and pasta (low fat) and limit meat, eggs and dairy as they were higher in fats.
We followed the recommendations...and we got fat!
Remove the fat...Replace with sugar
Turns out, when you remove fat from foods, they taste gross. In order to account for this, food manufacturers turned to one ingredient that would solve this problem...SUGAR. And guess what. Sugar is FAT FREE!!!
The makers of high fat treats found a way to make them fat free and taste good. So good in fact, the consumer would want..no need...more and more! Once "forbidden" snacks suddenly flew off shelves and filled kitchen pantry's and lunch boxes alike.
America would be thin again!
Do you know what happens to sugar when it enters the body?
When consumed, sugar, the simplest of all carbohydrates, is quickly converted to glucose. Glucose raises blood sugar and triggers the pancreas to secrete insulin, a hormone that help regulate blood sugar levels. This insulin informs the body to turn off fat burning in order to turn on glucose burning for energy. Any excess glucose not used up is stored as fat.
To summarize, the sugar used to create that fat free treat, once consumed, turns into FAT!
But that is not all...
The increase stress sugar places on the pancreas and body has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes...oh...and obesity of course! So much for my miracle!
Sugar also affects the brain in much the same way drugs do. Sweet foods result in a release of dopamine, a reward chemical that signals pleasure. The brain will seek out more of this "pleasure inducing" substance, resulting in the consumer not being able to "eat just one" cookie. Add to that the ability to build a tolerance, a sugar addict, like a drug addict, will seek more and more to reach the same level of pleasure as the first "hit".
Yes...sugar is ADDICTIVE!
Even with this knowledge, our society places such an emphasis on being thin, food manufacturers continue to perfect their craft of making "fatty" foods "healthier". Americans continue to fear the f-word (fat) and take drastic and often contradicting measures to avoid it at all costs.
Sugar in Disguise
The American Heart Association recommends adults limit their added sugar intake to 25 grams per day. Today, the average American consumes about 77 grams per day or approximately 60 pounds of sugar a year. More frightening, the average amount of sugar consumed by kids is higher at approximately 81 grams per day according to the American Heart Association! I wish it was as easy to recommend avoiding sugar on food labels, but there are now over 50 types of sugar that food companies have no problem using in order to deceive or confuse the consumer. Check out 52 different sugars here.
Some say sugar is the new tobacco, and I am inclined to agree. It was not long ago similar tactics were used to prey on the consumers ignorance using deceptive marketing and claims then placing the responsibility on the consumer if they get sick (heart disease) from their product. The company never made me buy and eat those cookies that eventually caused my obesity, but they did not make it easy to say no to them either.
What can you do?
What I once thought was a fat free blessing from above became an addiction I continue to struggle with today. There is one thing I agree on with these big food companies, it IS MY RESPONSIBILITY to keep myself healthy. They clearly are not making any plans to change. It is up to you to educate yourself and change your habits. Take responsibility!
Here are six steps you can start today to begin tackling a sugar addiction:
1. AVOID High Fructose Corn Syrup
This cheaper and sweeter version of sugar made from corn gets absorbed by the body quicker and leads to inflammation. Studies have shown this chemically produced sugar may speed up the aging process, damage the liver, increase risk of Alzheimer's, lead to depression and damage the immune system in addition to increasing risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, HFCS has been shown to be highly addictive.
If this ingredient is lingering in your pantry, throw it out!
2. Nature's Candy
Fruits and some vegetables are naturally sweet because they contain a natural sugar that is more easily broken down during digestion. Fruits and veggies also come with a powerful punch of vitamins and minerals that support health as well as fiber that keeps you feeling full longer. When in need of a sugar fix, reach for berries or other fruits that do not spike blood sugar. Try and limit or avoid dried fruits, fruit juices or canned fruits as these are often made with added sugar. Roasting vegetables such as sweet potato, beets and onions brings out a natural sweetness as well.
3. Nix the Artificial Stuff
Those cute pink, blue and yellow packets may look sweet (and taste about 3x sweeter than real sugar) but they play a mean trick on your brain,. When your brain expects a sugar "hit" and you send in an impostor, the brain will get angry and start sending signals to get it what it wants. In other words, you will begin to crave more sugar and likely overeat, totally defeating the purpose of that fat free latte with sugar free syrup and three Sweet n' Low.
If you are going to sweeten a beverage or food, go with the real thing. Reach for raw sugar or, better yet, raw unprocessed honey or maple syrup. These sweeteners have trace amounts of minerals in them and have not been highly processed.
4. Peppermint to the Rescue
Studies have shown that the smell of peppermint can curb sugar cravings. Think about it...when was the last time you were craving anything right after brushing your teeth? Nothing tastes good after a swish of minty mouthwash. Try brushing your teeth or chewing peppermint gum during the hours you usually find yourself dreaming of a sugary treat. You can also use peppermint essential oil. Place a drop in some unscented hand lotion or carrier oil and rub into hands. Cup your hands over your nose and mouth and breathe deep. You could also use a personal diffuser or cotton ball.
5. Be a Detective
As I mentioned above, there are many secret identities to sugar. Start with the foods you have at home. Compare the list to the ingredients on prepackaged foods. You might be surprised to find hidden sugars lingering more than candy and cookies. Products such as salad dressing, ketchup, yogurt, soup and "healthy" granola bars.
6. Manage Stress and Get Your Zzzzz's
Stress and lack of sleep can cause a hormonal imbalance that results in an overload of hunger hormones. When these hormones are triggered, it causes you to go hunting for food, most often the sugary ones that will help give you that dopamine "high". Aim for 8 hours of sleep and include stress reducing activities into your daily routine.
40 years ago, tobacco companies thought they had a brilliant new invention that would help people relax and unwind when they came up with the cigarette. History shows us sometimes we have to learn from mistakes. I do not blame tobacco companies for my grandmothers lung cancer or my grandfathers emphysema. There was no way of knowing the dangers of their decision to start smoking. Time would tell, and even today tobacco companies invent newer "healthier" alternatives that lure the uneducated consumer to buy their product.
Today, food companies are using the same unethical tactics to keep their pockets lined, only now the addictive substance is sugar, something that anyone, anywhere at any age can get their hands on. Like me, you may find it a struggle to reduce or even eliminate processed sugar. Addiction is real, whether to nicotine, alcohol, cocaine or sugar. To stop is hard.
Take a deep breath and start from where you are. Do not dwell on past decisions or try and place blame. With the right support, it is possible to break the sugar addiction! The first step is to recognize and acknowledge it.
Do you have a sugar addiction?
Don't Ask for a Light Load. Ask for a Strong Back"
You walk 3 miles a day, park in the furthest spot, take the stairs and achieve 10,000 steps a day on your tracker...but the scale is not budging! SERIOUSLY???
You could add more miles or increase your step goal, but a better strategy would be to pick things up and put them down...in other words, add some weight and resistance training to your routine.
Now ladies, before you get all "but I don't want to look all big and beefy", just know that you do not possess the hormones that would get you to this point. However, you do possess the ability to get chiseled arms. sexy shoulders and sleek calves.
Sound good? Keep reading!
Three Parts of a Workout Routine
To make the most of your time, and work as efficiently as possible, I recommend including cardio, strength and flexibility exercises to each workout.
My favorite type of strength training is Circuit Training. This type of workout keeps you from getting bored and can be done in 30 minutes (but feel free to add a few extra rounds if you need more!)
A circuit is made up of 5-10 exercises that target both upper and lower body worked back to back. Each exercise is done for one minute with no rest in between each exercise. You can aim to complete a fixed number of rounds or do as many rounds in a set amount of time.
Include a day of circuit training 3 days a week in your rotation with alternating days of steady state cardio such as walking or bike riding as well as a day of restorative recovery such as yoga or meditation.
Give your muscles a day of rest in between strength training days (hence the steady state every other day) to allow for your body to repair and build and reduce your risk of adrenal fatigue and overuse injury.
Check out my sample week here.
By including resistance and weight training into your weekly exercise regimen, you will begin to reap some pretty amazing benefits. Muscle has a much leaner appearance pound for pound than fat and it burns more calories while the body is at rest (boosts metabolism). Strengthening muscles also helps with functional, every day living including walking up and down stairs, bending and lifting and reaching overhead. With your muscles strong and flexible (because you ALWAYS stretch after your workouts) you will have less discomfort and pain when completing every day tasks and decrease your chance of injury as well.
No fancy equipment or pricey gym membership is necessary to get a killer strength workout. A couple of sets of dumbbells or resistance bands and a yoga mat are really all you need. I recommend three sets of dumbbells, a light set (3-5 pounds) medium set (8-10 pounds) and heavy set (12-15 pounds) to accommodate larger and smaller muscle groups. Resistance bands in varying thickness can also offer the same variety for less cost.
Check Your Form
Before embarking on any fitness or strength training journey, check with your doctor for any underlying conditions and injuries you may need to modify for. I highly recommend working with a personal trainer or fitness professional who can check and correct your form.
Whatever your health and fitness goals are, including strength and resistance training will make a huge impact on your success. Make your circuit training a priority and I promise you will see and feel a difference.
Got a great circuit you love?
Share it with my readers so they can love it too!!
My family welcomed a new member this week. Daisy is a rescue mini lab (we think) who is the absolute sweetest love. Yes, I confess! This momma who was the only one who did NOT want a dog is smitten.
However, she is an interruption to my comfortable morning routine:
That has all changed
Those puppy dog eyes (literally) have completely thrown a wrench into my whole morning. It is day 2 and I have already missed workouts, chased her sneaker stealing butt all over and picked up multiple accidents left behind. How does something so small poop so much! Not to mention these little "gifts" have destroyed the aroma of that first cup of coffee.
But that face....
Lessons from a Fur Baby
Day 2 of mothering a fur baby and she has already taught me a valuable lesson.
During our morning walk, she managed to get under my feet, dropping me like a ton of bricks to the ground, directly on my knee. Ouch is an understatement.
I'm frustrated and angry, but digging deeper I realize it is not with her. The emotions I am feeling come from deep within. While there is no doubt I have physically fallen, it is not the physical pain that hurts.
Taking the time to reflect on what is really going on, I realize the current pandemic has allowed an extra 15 pounds to creep back onto my body. Bringing this added weight down as it did from my trip, I also realize I hate this. I hate how I feel. I hate how I look. This tumble is a reminder that I have fallen in more ways than one.
I want to use this as an excuse.
"I can't because I fell..."
"I can't because I am injured..."
"I can't because it hurts..."
It would be so east to just stay down. Put my knee up with a bag of ice and wallow. Stay angry and blame someone or something external.
Or I could get up.
I cannot blame my weight gain on COVID or a new puppy or getting tripped.
As I reflect on the current situation, the new changes that have redirected my morning, the number on the scale, the range of emotions I feel, I begin to realize this fall may be exactly what I needed.
I am the one in control of how I feel, how I look and what direction I need to go to make things better. This is no ones responsibility but my own and no one is going to make it better for me. That reality stings, but sometimes it takes a little bit of pain and discomfort to push us out of our comfort zone and a stagnant, mundane lifestyle. This pain knocks us down and leaves us with a choice...
Stay down or get back up?
There is a Japanese Proverb that I have always loved. "Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight".. Never before have I understood the true meaning until today. I fell down physically and emotionally. Gaining weight that I have worked so hard to lose and maintain is truly discouraging. It brings me down and tries to hold me down.
But I also know it is within me to get back up.
It will be hard.
Temptation and excuses will forever try and pull me back.
But I am the ONLY ONE who can get myself back up.
Maybe you can relate. Have you tried every diet? Have you lost the weight only to regain it back? Feel like you were dying in an exercise class that you once crushed no problem?
You have fallen. Who or what tripped you? What hurts (physically and emotionally)? What is it that weighs you down, or pulls you to stay down? Acknowledge it! Name it!
You have fallen...and now you have a choice.
Will you stay down?
Or will you get back up?
I wish I could say I was one of those 20 somethings who could eat anything and not gain weight. Being overweight was an issue I dealt with my whole life, never benefiting from the fast metabolism that allowed me to binge and still wear skinny jeans. Now in my 40's it seems even harder to take it off and keep it off. WHY????
Here are 5 reasons why losing weight after 40 becomes more challenging (and ways to defeat Father Time)
I'm sure you saw that one coming from a mile away! It is no secret that a change in hormones is one of the top culprits in the 40+ weight loss struggle. Hormones are powerful little chemical messengers in your body that play a role in everything from puberty and reproduction to mood and metabolism. When unbalanced, one may begin to feel fatigued or depressed, experience mood swings, irregular menstrual cycles, infertility and, you guessed it...weight gain!
I wish I could go back to my stressed out 20 something me and tell myself to chill...it's only going to get harder! Not to downplay the stressors of those wonder years, I just realize now most of what stressed me out was temporary or fixable and not the end of the world. Now as a mom, stress compounds not only from the safety and well being of myself, but also little humans that depend on me. This "adulting" lifestyle has introduced the stress of work, home, family, bills, hobbies and all around life balance. Adrenal glands are working overtime, hormones like cortisol are toying with my hunger and satiety cues, all resulting in weight gain with am emphasis on relocating stored body fat to the belly. It's true..adulting IS hard!
3. Poor Sleep
1 (hormones) + 2 (stress) = 3 Poor Sleep. Whether it is a hot flash in the middle of the night or a racing mind as you lay your head down on the pillow, sleep quality decreases as age increases. Add to the mix our dependence on all things technology and our brains do not know the difference between night and day. Less sleep or less restful sleep disrupts the hormonal balance, confuses our hunger vs. satiety cues, gets us craving carbs, confuses the natural circadian sleep/wake rhythm and leads the needle on the scale in the wrong direction.
4. Less Physically Active
So now you are tired, and stressed.... perfect recipe for a Binge Watching session. Who wants to lace up for a walk or put on yoga pants to actually do yoga, right? In my 20's I was walking to and from classes, meeting up with friends to go out to clubs at night and having boundless energy to go, go go! I wish I could go back and bottle some of that up. These days life looks more like 8 hours at a computer that zaps any enthusiasm I might have had to lace up for a walk after work. All work and no play...you know the story.
5. Decrease Lean Muscle
Less movement and no motivation to go to the gym means less resistance training. As we age, our lean muscle mass naturally declines (design flaw of the human body). Lean muscle burns more calories (aka metabolism) when the body is at rest. That roaring 20 something metabolism fire is a thing of the past. As lean muscle decreases, so does metabolism, fewer calories are burned throughout a day than once upon a time. Do the math. If you are burning fewer calories a day, but still eating the same amount of calories you did when in your 20's or 30's, where do the extra ones go? You guessed it...it is being stored right there in that lower belly bulge. Thanks again, hormones!!
Defend Yourself in your 40's
It's not like we can stop the clock on aging. What's a 40 something to do? Purchase shares in elastic waist bands? Hide under a cozy blanket with the top Netflix subscription? Cry???
Deep breath...there is a solution! (and it is not one of the above) There are many ways we can win the battle of the belly bulge. It will take change, commitment and consistency but it is possible. Here are some simple and realistic steps you can begin incorporating to battle the bulge:
The Bottom Line
Weight gain is sneaky and silent. A pound this year, two next year. By the time you have reached the next decade, you could be carrying an extra 10-20 pounds. The key is maintenance and prevention. Changing bodies requires changes in habits. Slowly incorporating these simple steps I have shared will have you moving in the right direction.
Need more support? Let's set up a time we can chat about your struggle. Together we can create a plan of action that will keep Father Time quiet!
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I'm Liz. Mom, wife, teacher, Health Coach. My passion lies in everything health and wellness. When new research and trends pop up, you can bet I am finding the best resources to information, weeding out the not so good and making the great easy to digest. From meal planning and recipes to exercise and mindfulness, wellness touches upon so many dimensions. Your path to optimal health is out there and I can help you find it.