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January 2012

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Whether you are an all-star athlete or live a sedentary lifestyle, we could all use a little more movement in our lives. In the last several decades, our technology has advanced so much that it has rendered us inactive and lazy. Here are seven ways to help increase your daily activity, burning more calories and helping put an end to the obesity epidemic. Take advantage of these opportunities as often as you can, and it will pay off in the long run!

Take the Stairs

Opt for the staircase instead of an elevator or escalator all week (and longer if you’re really committed to a lifestyle change)! On your way to and from your place of business, take the stairs. At lunch or to get your energy level back up in the mid-afternoon, hit the stairs! Many of us experience that “2:30 feeling”… a way to combat that is to get your heart pumping!

Park in the Furthest Spot From Your Destination*

Every step counts, so quit waiting for the person in the closest spot to pull out. Just park and walk! By just finding a spot and walking, you will probably arrive at your destination at the same time you would have if you had waited for the closer spot!

*Please exercise (no pun intended) caution when in dimly lit areas, at night, or when you’re alone. Use your best judgement and if you don’t feel safe parking far away, please don’t. Your safety is paramount.

Ban the Cab

For those of you in big cities, put a personal ban on taking a cab and walk the distance instead. Ladies, if you’re in heels (which are terrible for your body, by the way), bring a pair of sneakers with you, throw them on and get moving!

Clean the House

You’ll be amazed the amount of calories you can burn by cleaning your own house, andthere’s that whole “saving money” concept again, ditch the housekeeper!

Landscaping/Gardening

Same goes for the outdoors — use a push mower to mow your own lawn, rake the leaves by hand, shovel snow by hand and garden.

Start a New Routine

After dinner, instead of having dessert or plopping yourself down on the couch, go for a walk. Whether it’s by yourself, with your dog or with your family, just get up and move! It will aid in digestion as well! Bonus! You can also go for a stroll during your lunch break!

Ditch the Shopping Cart

Use a hand basket instead of the pushable shopping cart. You’ll get a nice workout from carrying your items through the store and possibly even save some money by only buying what you need, or will fit into your basket. And of course, carry your bags to the car.

Keep in mind that every little thing you do, no matter how small it might seem, will help get you towards your goal of a healthier lifestyle! Instead of thinking about the immediate gratification of the calorie burn (or lack thereof), think more long-term. I recently calculated how many calories I burn when I take the stairs to and from my office on the fifth floor. Going up and down five flights of stairs burns about 12 calories. Do it twice and you’re up around 25 calories, three times and you’re at close to 40-50 (calorie burn increases as heart rate increases). Although you’re only looking at about 50 calories for three flights of stairs, think long-term. In my time at HCK2 Partners, I have burned approximately 20,000 calories taking the stairs everyday… now that’s a lot of calories!

Peace, love and movement!

Melissa

We all know that there are two main components to a successful weight loss program… Eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise. But what happens when you can’t seem to get to the gym? Maybe you don’t have a membership, or maybe you’re full of excuses (pardon my straightforward-ness). Either way, in this post I’ll reveal several easy ways to increase your daily amount of exercise in order to get moving for this week’s Biggest Achiever challenge!

In today’s day and age, we work long hours, most of the time sitting still, we constantly use technology and automation, and are generally not required to move very much. Housekeepers, gardeners, cell phones, computers, remote controls and video games run our households. Our world now produces inactive and nonfunctional people physically molded by furniture, gravity and inactivity, and it’s taking a huge toll on public health. In 1985, the International Obesity Task Force deemed the prevalence of obesity an epidemic. In 2002, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that chronic diseases were responsible for five of the leading six causes of disease. One of them, obesity, leads to other chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and diabetes.

Physical activity has been proved to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and disorders related to lifestyle, such as increased triglycerides and cholesterol levels, obesity, glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and strokes. Regular exercise increases blood volume, which allows more blood to get to the cells. This results in greater flow of oxygen, helping the body remove waste and strengthening the heart. If that’s not enough, regular exercise also helps regulate weight, hormones, mood, sleep/wake cycles and improves your self confidence. So what are you waiting for?

For general health benefits, 30 minutes of exercise per day is recommended, 5-7 times per week. It has been shown that three 10 minute bouts of exercise are just as effective as one 30 minute continuous exercise at a moderate intensity. For improved fitness levels, on the other hand, your intensity would need to increase to 60-90% of your heart rate max (HR max) for 20-60 minutes per day, 3-5 times per week. – NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine)

Click here for some simple ways to include more exercise in your everyday life. Everyone can use these tips, regardless of you don’t currently exercise at all, or if you’re a “workout junkie”, everyone should take advantage of every opportunity to move more often!

Peace, love and movement!

Melissa

Welcome to the second week of our Biggest Achiever Program! Feel free to join in at any time! Each week we announce a new challenge and although I encourage you to participate every week, you can also select which weeks you would like to participate in. Just remember that every tiny change you make for the better, you will eventually realize are huge steps and very pivotal moments in your healthier lifestyle.

Last week, we tracked our calories and nutritional content of the foods and beverages we consumed and learned a lot about where the majority of our calories come from. For many of us, not surprisingly, they come from beverages. Our favorite lattes, sodas, fruit juices and sports drinks contain terrifying amounts of sugar, sodium and dangerous chemicals such as sucralose, phenylalanine, methanol and more. If you look at the ingredients in that seemingly healthy fruit juice your children love so much, you will probably be shocked to see that many of those don’t contain much fruit juice at all! Although we will dive further into fruit juices and unhealthy beverages during our 3 month voyage, this week we will be focusing on soda.

“Twenty-one percent of the sugar in the American diet comes from soft drinks. That’s more than just an unhealthy consumption of empty calories. It is a dangerous overload of caffeine and nutrient-depleting additives.” – Dr. Earl Mindell

 

The side effects of soda (including diet/zero sodas), in short:

  • Cancer, heart disease, kidney damage, depression, asthma, diabetes
  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Osteoporosis in adults, high risk of bone fracture in children
  • Tooth loss, erosion of tooth enamel, periodontal disease, gingivitis, tooth discoloration
  • Stomach and reproductive issues
  • Increased cravings
  • Inability to detect sweetness in fruits/vegetables
  • Diminished nerve impulse transmission
  • Weakened immune system
  • Adverse reactions with medications such as antibiotics and antacids

This list truly goes on and on. One of the single worst products you can put into your  body is a carbonated beverage. This includes soda, beer and even sparking/carbonated water. Just one 8 ounce carbonated beverage paralyzes the immune system for up to 12 hours! The carbonation in the beverage blocks the uptake of calcium, which is needed for every single metabolic function in your body.

It has been proven that increased soda consumption is a major factor in the development of osteoporosis. Sodas lower calcium levels and increase phosphate levels in the blood. When phosphate is high and calcium is low, calcium is pulled out of the bones. This issue is worse for children. Adolescents who consume soft drinks display a risk of bone fractures three to four times higher than those that do not.

Sodas contain phosphorous and phosphoric acid, which corrode the stomach lining, upset the alkaline-acid balance of the kidneys and eat away at your liver. They also contain sodium benzoate, a sodium preservative which reduces the availability of potassium in the body. Some reported reactions to sodium benzoate include rashes, eczema and asthma. Think about it, if you get a rash, you likely run to the dermatologist and they give you some sort of cream for it. Wouldn’t you know it that all along, it’s because you’re drinking soda!

Not only are the carbonation, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, sugar, phosphorus and other ingredients in soda extremely harmful, but the sugar and acid will dissolve tooth enamel too! It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking a “full calorie” Coke, a Diet Coke, or Coke Zero, you are harming your body in more ways than you realize.

“The relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers calculate that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times.” – Marion Nestle

Many people turn to diet or “zero” sodas in order to avoid the high sugar content and carbohydrates in “regular” sodas. This is quite possibly worse for you than drinking a “regular” soda. Many diet and “zero” sodas contain aspartame, sucralose and other harmful chemicals. Studies have tied diet soda consumption to an increased risk of obesity. A 2005 University of Texas Health Science Center Study found a 57.1% risk of obesity for those drinking more than two servings of diet soda a day. In case gaining weight wasn’t enough, aspartame and sucralose, the artificial sweeteners used in sodas, are tied to cancer and other deadly diseases! Why are you drinking this stuff?! Because it “tastes good”?! Of course it tastes good, people spend countless hours developing products that “taste good” and… wait for it… that you will become addicted to! They are obviously very good at their jobs!

The most commonly  used artificial sweeteners in soda include aspartame and sucralose. These are dangerous ingredients that have the following side effects: depression, birth defects, headaches, weight gain, stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, rashes, irritability, heart palpitations, dizziness, insomnia, fatigue and seizures. That’s right, I said weight gain. DIET SODA CAN MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT. Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar, and sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar! Sucralose is actually considered a zero-calorie sweetener because the human digestive tract cannot metabolize it.

For more information on aspartame and sucralose, I encourage you to read The Hidden Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners.

As a general note, it is helpful to remember that anything that is fat-free, sugar-free, “anything”-free… they have had to add artificial flavors and other chemicals in order to make that food taste good, without it being made from actual ingredients. Many dieters are unfortunate victims of marketing and product packaging. Just because something is fat-free, sugar-free, low in carbohydrates, etc., does NOT mean it is healthy! An apple is healthier than a sugar-free cookie! That and a sugar-free cookie will NEVER satisfy your appetite, but an apple will. People often gain weight when they consume fat-free and sugar-free foods because they end up consuming more calories. Consuming these foods which are void of nutrients will always leave you hungry and will possibly intensify your cravings. Your brain will not shut off its hunger signals until it gets the nutrients it needs. Therefore, if you’re hungry, and you eat a box of cookies or a loaf of white bread (common “appetizer” before meals at restaurants), you will still be hungry even though your stomach will feel full.

In short, if there is one thing you change in this 3 month program, I urge it to be giving up soda. Your immune system, your heart, your pancreas, your entire body will thank you for it! I can pretty much guarantee you that if you give up sodas entirely, you will lose weight. It’s not rocket science, it’s not magic, it’s just common sense. Sodas are one of the worst things you can put in your body, so give them up, and you will see benefits from it! Although this week’s challenge is to give us soda, I encourage you to give up aspartame, sucralose and other products that contain artificial sweeteners. You will find yourself feeling much better in the end!

With so many beverage choices available to us today, it’s hard to know what to drink and what to stay away from. For the most part, we’ve been taught that there are a lot of sugar and calories in “regular” sodas. Instead, many people have turned to diet and “zero” sodas in order to be able to still consume their favorite beverages, but without all the terrible sugar and calories. However what they don’t know, is that this choice may actually kill them.

What the soda companies don’t tell you (in their fancy commercials with all the beautiful, skinny people consuming their beverages) is that in order to make their sugary beverages taste “delicious” without actually adding sugar, they’ve had to add many dangerous chemicals. Many diet and “zero” sodas contain aspartame, sucralose and other harmful ingredients.

The most commonly  used artificial sweeteners in soda include aspartame and sucralose. These are dangerous ingredients that have the following side effects: depression, birth defects, headaches, weight gain, stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, rashes, irritability, heart palpitations, dizziness, insomnia, fatigue and seizures. That’s right, I said weight gain. DIET SODA CAN MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT. Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar, and sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar! Sucralose is actually considered a zero-calorie sweetener because the human digestive tract cannot metabolize it.

Are you ready for the worst part? Studies have tied diet soda consumption to an increased risk of obesity. I know, you’re drinking that low-calorie beverage because you’re trying to lose weight, but, it’s going to have the opposite effect! A 2005 University of Texas Health Science Center Study found a 57.1% risk of obesity for those drinking more than two servings of diet soda a day. In case gaining weight wasn’t enough, aspartame and sucralose are tied to cancer and other deadly diseases! Why are you drinking this stuff?! Because it “tastes good”?! Of course it tastes good, people spend countless hours developing products that “taste good” and… wait for it… that you will become addicted to! They are obviously very good at their jobs!

Aspartame

One of the most commonly used low calorie sweeteners, aspartame, is a very dangerous ingredient added to make beverages without sugar taste sweet. At 180 times sweeter than sugar, aspartame is added to “sugar-free” juices like Kool-Aid and other diet drinks like Diet Snapple, as well as desserts, yogurts, jams/jellies and other sweeteners. It is made of phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol, none of which sound like “healthy” ingredients to me! Aspartame, which is sold under the names NutraSweet and Equal, has been proven to be associated with the development of cancer and other illnesses and side effects including depression, birth defects, headaches, weight gain, 

rashes, irritability, heart palpitations, dizziness, insomnia and seizures. That’s right, a DIET SODA CAN MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT.

When aspartame was put in front of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval, (be cautious with this group, for future reference), it was denied eight times. Despite recognizing 92 different symptoms that resulted from ingesting aspartame, the FDA approved it for use without restriction in 1996.

The FDA claims that an intake of 50 mg of aspartame per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day is “acceptable.” I’m not sure that any amount of something that causes cancer is acceptable, but unfortunately, I don’t work for the FDA. By the FDA’s math, If you weigh 150 lbs, you can consume approximately 68 mg of aspartame per day. The amount of aspartame in one 12 oz. can of diet soda is approximately 225 mg. Ruh row!

 

Aspartame has also been deemed an “excitotoxin”. Excitotoxins can cause damage to the appetite center of the brain, also leading to death of neural cells. Think I’m being overdramatic? These are chemicals, people. Not whole, healthy foods! What do you think they do to you? I could go on and on about aspartame. There are a myriad of resources out there proving how dangerous this ingredient truly is. There are even support groups out there for people who have been affected by aspartame! And for those people with a condition called phenylketonuria, or PKU, who cannot metabolize phenylalanine properly, aspartame can lead to mental retardation!

Sucralose

Think you’re safe with Splenda? Join the club! I too, was under the impression that the scientists of the world had finally come up with a safe way to make food sweeter without consuming the calories from table sugar. I have no idea what I was thinking. I have since learned that no food that comes from a scientist is safe! Sucralose was discovered in 1976 when British researchers were creating a new pesticide. Yum!

Your beloved Splenda, sucralose, is 600 times sweeter than sugar, and its actually a zero-calorie sweetener because the human digestive tract cannot metabolize it. There are studies that exist that show that sucralose is safe for human consumption. I will let you make that decision for yourself. I should mention that excess use of artificial products of any kind will alter your taste buds. When you consume artificial sweeteners, it may leave you unable to appreciate or even distinguish the natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables.

Side effects of sucralose include: headaches, weight gain, stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea (remember, your body cannot digest sucralose) and fatigue. Sounds great, huh?

As a general note, it is helpful to remember that anything that is fat-free, sugar-free, “anything”-free… they have had to add artificial flavors and other chemicals in order to make that food taste good, without it being made from actual ingredients. Many dieters are unfortunate victims of marketing and product packaging. Just because something is fat-free, sugar-free, low in carbohydrates, etc., does NOT mean it is healthy! An apple is healthier than a sugar-free cookie! That and a sugar-free cookie will NEVER satisfy your appetite, but an apple will. People often gain weight when they consume fat-free and sugar-free foods because they end up consuming more calories. Consuming these foods which are void of nutrients will always leave you hungry and will possibly intensify your cravings. Your brain will not shut off its hunger signals until it gets the nutrients it needs. Therefore, if you’re hungry, and you eat a box of cookies or a loaf of white bread (common “appetizer” before meals at restaurants), you will still be hungry even though your stomach will feel full. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! All that same great taste, but none of the calories!? Come on guys… think for a second. 🙂

Peace, love and soda-free lives,

Melissa

For more information on soda and it’s effect on our bodies, please read here!

Of the people that struggle with weight loss, the majority don’t understand why they can’t lose weight. That same majority is also unaware of the amount of calories they consume in one day. When you break it down, weight loss is pretty simple. Unless of course, you don’t know how many calories you are consuming to begin with, then you don’t have a starting point.

If you know how many calories you consume in a day, you can take that number, subtract the amount of calories you burn in a day, and you’re left with your net calories. 3500 calories is equivalent to 1 lb. of weight. So if you are trying to lose 1 lb. per week, you would need to cut 500 calories per day from your diet, or burn 500 additional calories.

So as we kick off the Biggest Achiever Program, my challenge to you this week is to figure out how many calories you consume. How many calories are in your favorite foods? How many calories do you consume in one day? By tracking the nutritional information in your food, you will also be able to see how much fat, sugar, protein, salt, etc. you are consuming. It’s possible that you need to limit your intake of sodium or fats, but how would you know, if you don’t know what you’re consuming in the first place?

Regardless if you have goals to lose weight on this three month program or not, I think it’s essential that you know what you’re eating. We’ll get further into ingredients, chemicals, additives and preservatives later, right now we’ll focus on the nutritional content, or lack there of, of the foods we currently consume.

Your challenge this week is to keep a food journal, logging the nutritional information of everything you eat, drink and chew. At a minimum, you should write down everything you put in your body, from glasses of water per day, to gum, to soda, to snacks and meals for one full weekday and one full weekend day. Since what you eat might vary based on where you are, I think it’s important to complete a food journal for one day at the office and one day at home. Tracking this information for 2 days out of 7 is the minimum you should do. This information will be key as you progress throughout this program, so be sure to be accurate. It will do you more harm than good to lie in this journal. Be true to yourself, it is the only way you can truly make progress. If you intentionally leave items consumed off the list… I don’t think you can expect yourself to be successful. Also, the more you track, the better. So if you can, track all of your food every single day this week. Is it time consuming? Maybe a little. But it’s one week of your life, it’s not that much time in the grand scheme of things and it will be eye-opening, regardless of your health/fitness level.

Although this is a week long challenge, I encourage you to track your food throughout the entire program. For those of you that exercise, I encourage you to track this as well! For the past several years, I have been using an online program (there’s also an app for your phone) called myfitnesspal.com. It’s free, easy to follow, has a ton of great tools and when you track your calories, many popular foods are already loaded into the system, reducing the amount of time you’ll spend looking up that information! Bonus! You can set weight loss goals, health goals and much more. They’ll even develop graphs for you to visually chart your progress, which aids in motivation. If you’d like to follow me, my username is megalitz. I too, have health and fitness goals I plan on achieving in the next three months! I encourage you to join, and keep me accountable as well! The more support we have, the better we will do!

I look forward to hearing about what you learned from your food journal. What did you find most shocking? Did you formulate any new goals from what you learned by analyzing what you put in your body? Was it the calorie count or sugar content in one specific item? Or maybe you realized you consume more snacks than you initially thought. MyFitnessPal.com allows you to create six different food categories for easy logging. Mine are breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, beverages and treats. I find these categories helpful, and you might too. It’s interesting to see how many of your daily calories can come from things you drink and not actual meals! Time to cut sodas (hint, hint)!

I look forward to meeting with you all on Friday, and for those of you who are following along online, feel free to leave your thoughts, findings and comments below!

Peace, love and knowledge,

Melissa

For  more on the Biggest Achiever Program, click here!

I bet you want to know what it is, huh?! Well, it’s not new. I just put that in the title to trick everyone who think sthere’s always something new and cool on the market that’s going to make them look like a supermodel or give them special powers. Sorry, this is not a new medicine. But it is the best medicine. So what is it? The best medicine is exercise.

Today was a very tough day. I decided to take my older cat to the vet this morning because she was acting funny and breathing heavily. It didn’t feel right. So I took her in, and things went from bad to worse extremely fast. I am ushered into an exam room and the next thing I know, they’re calling for immediate triage, putting her in an “oxygen box”, telling me they have to do a risky chest tap to pull fluid out of her lungs, that it’s such a stressful procedure that many don’t make it through the procedure, they might nick a lung, and they’re asking me if I want to pet her before they take her back?! What?! I just asked you for my wi-fi password so I could log on to check my work email?! What do you mean she “might not make it?” Enter stage 1: Denial.

I’ll keep this short. They drain the fluid which filled 1/3 of her chest cavity, find out it’s lymphatic cancer, there’s nothing a surgery would do to help since the fluid, tumors and cells would remain, and we could be in the same situation tomorrow. I’m told there’s not much choice. I call my husband to meet me at the vet to say goodbye. I call my Dad, he breaks down too. This is bad. Wait, is this really happening? No, surely it is not. My cat is 11, not 18, I should have at least 7 more years with her! And she was fine the other day! What are you talking about?!

Long story longer, I put my cat down this morning. My baby, my very first pet as an “adult”… who has been with me through many moves, many of the worst and best times of my life. I have seen this cat change and grow so much, just as I have, and she is a part of me. I cried all day. I mean, ALL day. I cried myself into a nap at one point. When I woke up, my brain didn’t have time to even realize I was awake yet, and my eyes were already filled with tears. I felt my husband’s hand on my head, and was so thankful, but so miserable. I realized I kept putting my hand to my chest… because my heart hurt so much. I’m not sure what I was trying to do… comfort my heart? It didn’t work. I barely ate, tears just streamed down my face all day. Time was barely ticking by, and I just wanted this horrible day to be over and erase it from my timeline.

The evening hits and I realize I’m so tired of my thoughts that I want to get out of my mind. I can’t box because I accidentally slit my thumb with a knife. I can’t go to yoga because I’ll be a hysterical crying mess. So I decide to try a new class at Equinox that I heard was super tough, MetCon3. Sounds perfect. I plan on kicking my own ass.

I checked my emotions at the door, and told myself that for the duration of that class, I would focus solely on what the instructor was saying, and give it everything I had. And I did. I worked so hard, and it felt so good. A dark cloud was lifted, life didn’t seem so bad, and afterwards, I could talk about it without breaking down… I felt better. Like, a LOT better.  I’m driving home thinking about my day and how horrible it was, but I’m thinking about it in a different light. I feel so much better after my workout, my head is so much clearer, I can’t even begin to explain what kind of a miracle exercise can be.

As I thought about how much better I felt (and still feel, by the way, even though the adrenaline has worn off), I realized that no amount of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, wine or food could EVER have made me feel better so quickly, the way this workout just did. It was amazing, just as I knew it would be. I tell people all the time that the hardest part of a workout sometimes is just getting through those doors, but once you’re there, it’s not so bad, and I absolutely practice what I preach. So you’d better believe that if I write a blog post about the top 7 excuses people use not to exercise, you will not seeing me use one! So I’m telling you this story to reassure you that everything I tell you, I whole-heartedly believe.

Depression is a very tricky thing. It is evil no doubt, and can be your worst enemy. But if you play it right, it can also be your best friend. Sounds ridiculous, I know. Tonight my depression was my sole motivator in getting my depressed butt up off of the couch and clearing my teary eyes and cloudy head. Use that sinking feeling you have and turn it around into something positive. Only you have the ability to do it though. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my cat. I miss her terribly. But I won’t let depression get me this time. I’m through stage 1 of this grieving process (denial) and have most definitely entered stage 2, anger. I’m pissed that my cat isn’t here anymore. And I intend to work those emotions out again tomorrow. I feel blessed that I have found a healthy outlet like exercise to release my stress and emotions. It can happen for you too.

I miss you Myla. I know you are in kitty heaven, you can breathe easily, there’s no fluid in your lungs and you are happy. And I will meet you in heaven one day. I hope… if I’m a good girl. 🙂 Rest in peace my love.

 

Peace, love and healthy outlets,

Melissa

There are plenty of excuses (some may call them reasons, but I call them excuses) why you can’t get to the gym, can’t make healthier choices, etc. The truth is, they’re all a bunch of crap. If you really, truly want to make a change, you will. All the words you use to explain why you’re justified in not living a healthy lifestyle is just noise to the people that make it happen, day in and day out. So forgive me if the following post seems a bit harsh, but sometimes that’s the only way people will realize that they’re not special, they’re not the exception to the rule and they need put in the work like the rest of us.

1. I’m Far Too Busy

Really? So… you’re just the busiest person on the planet then? Throwing pity parties for yourself about how much you have to do won’t get you anywhere. You may need to take a look at how you’re utilizing your time. Make a journal, and document how much time you spend on different activities during the day. For instance, how many times do you use social media a day? It’s quite possible that if you refrained from updating your facebook status, you could get your work done more quickly, allowing you to leave work sooner and get to the gym before you head home for the day. Maybe it’s not social media that is your time suck. It could be the TV, long lunches, rush hour traffic, the list goes on and on. The point is, take a look at where you could save some time, and figure out a new solution. If you have work commitments, remember that scheduling time to keep yourself healthy is important. If someone thinks it’s selfish, they clearly don’t “get it” and we feel sorry for them. If after assessing your schedule you really, truly do not have time to hit the gym, do the stairs and/or go for a walk during lunch, but do something! Anything is better than nothing.

2. My blank* Hurts

*Insert body part of your choice here. First off, I’m not surprised. You are an adult (or at least you’re old enough to read this blog), so chances are good that at some point in your life thus far, you have sustained some sort of injury. We all have. Rub some dirt on it, and get your butt up off the couch. You’re not the only one. As a GroupX Instructor, many times people assume that I have it easy. I am somehow invincible, I have no injuries and endless amounts of energy. I’m flattered that some view me as a superhero, but sadly, I am not. I am human, just like the rest of the world. I am bruised, broken and I get burnt out. In fact, some would be surprised to know that I actually have 2 herniated discs, an inverted coccyx (tailbone) from a bad fall, I’ve had knee surgery and two ankle surgeries, including a complete reconstruction of my right ankle. They sawed off my heel bone, moved it over 10mm, and put a large screw in it to put it back together. Point being, I’ve had my share of serious injuries, but I managed to recover, and you can too. You just have to want it. No one can do it for you, it’s all you. Also, if you have been sedentary for awhile, chances are good that you are in a lot of pain, not necessarily caused by an isolated incident. The truth is, disuse of your body can actually cause pain. Yikes. Coach potatoes, you’re screwed!

3. I Hate the Gym/I Can’t Afford a Gym Membership

Millions of people hate the gym. They are divided into three categories. Category 1: They go anyways. ‘Nuff said. Category 2: They find somewhere else to work out (outdoors, yoga studio, basement, etc.). Category 3: They do nothing. If you fall into category 3, I want you to remember something — you’re not alone! No one will force you to go to the gym if you don’t want to. Nothing good will come out of that. What you need to do, however, is find another means for staying active, something that you enjoy. There are hundreds of options for exercise. You can do just about everything outdoors: Walk, run, play catch, play frisbee, play with your dog, play with your kids/grandkids, yoga, swimming, the list goes on and on. Try as many things as is takes until you find something that interests you. Try yoga. There are a ton of different kinds of yoga, try them all. There are classes that are mommy and child friendly, where you can bring your child and your stroller and walk with a group of people. Guys… flag football interest you? There are leagues everywhere! Heck google “things to do outside” if you’re out of ideas. Google solves everything!* Keep in mind too, that even if you do hate the gym, giving it a try for a month will be worth your while. You’ll either come out realizing there’s actually quite a few benefits to going to the gym (first day/week jitters will go away, don’t worry) or you’ll come out knowing that you do truly hate the gym, and you will have to resort to option 2, finding a new place to exercise.

*Note: This is not actually true. I’m just being funny.

4. I’m Too Tired

Well, I could take this in quite a few different directions, but I’ll keep it short. What are you eating? Sugar? Caffeine? That will contribute to you being tired. Are you sleeping enough? Maybe not. Many of you reading this have newborns, and are cursing me right now because you’re not sleeping at all. Okay, that might be a legitimate excuse. Still, you will feel better if you get a chance to release some endorphins and relieve some stress. So pump that breast milk ahead of time, arrange for your kids to go with your husband, mother, or a sitter, and go get your sweat on. Even 20 minutes is better than nothing! (Although ideally you should shoot for 60). However, if it’s 20 minutes or zero minutes, I’ll take 20 minutes every time! Those of you without kids… try to get to bed earlier so that you will be better rested for the day ahead of you. It will make a world of difference, I assure you. Try to find out if you’re a morning workout person or an evening workout person. Keep in mind, it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so give it a full three weeks before you decide which one you are! Try evenings for 3 weeks, then mornings for 3 weeks, and see which you prefer. Also, have a healthy snack before you hit the gym, it will fuel your body properly and you will feel better before, during and after your workout.

5. I’ll Go Tomorrow

“Yesterday you said “tomorrow”” — Nike

6. I Feel Fat

Ummmm… really? Well you’re just going to continue to feel exponentially fatter unless you do something about it, so quit whining and go for a walk! And just a quick fun fact, take a look around at all the “in shape” or “skinny” people around you, and know that a good amount of those people have likely been overweight or struggled with their weight at some point in their lives. Another common misconception, being a GroupX Instructor, is that I couldn’t gain weight if my life depended on it. Wrong-O! I gain weight like the rest of the world, I just know better than to let myself go! I’ve learned from my mistakes and I will never, ever go back! Once you get healthy too, you’ll say the same thing. I guarantee it. You will feel so good, that you will wonder who that person was… that other person… that person you are now… say goodbye to them! And if you’re self-conscious because you know people at the gym, just remember, sitting around thinking about going to the gym burns between zero and zero calories. You have to start somewhere.

7. I Don’t Feel Well

Assuming you don’t have a bacterial infection and/or something contagious or life-threatening, you will feel better after a workout. 99% of the time, after I hit the gym, regardless of my complaint (headache, stomachache, cramps, etc.), I feel like a new person after my workout. Working out, elevating your heart rate and sweating releases endorphins which pretty much make you feel amazing. Your brain actually blocks pain while you workout, so if you have a terrible headache and are looking for some relief, a workout will do you better than any pain medication.

*Note: Please consult your physician before starting a workout program. I am not a Doctor and do not claim to be one.

What I’d like everyone to take away from this post is that regardless of your excuse, you’re not the only one. There is someone out there that is busier, sicker or poorer than you that is able to get to the gym, make healthy choices, etc., so stop the excuses, they are just noise. The moment you stop thinking that you’re the busiest person on the planet, you will have made a step in the right direction. Remember that anything is better than nothing. So make yourself go to the gym, and promise yourself you will give it 5 minutes on the bike/elliptical/treadmill/etc. Chances are good that after 5 minutes, you’ll stay a little bit longer. And if you don’t… remember that 5 minutes is better than zero minutes.

If you do currently go to the gym, but you’re getting tired of your workout routine, I urge you to try something new. Try a Group Exercise (GroupX) class, and try several of them. Each one will vary on the format and the instructor, so find one that you like. Even the same format will be different when taught be a different instructor. If you prefer to workout on your own, try a new routine like Tabata! Regardless, make sure you switch up your workouts every so often as to keep your mind fresh and to keep your body from hitting a plateau. Our bodies are amazing, they will adapt to whatever we do to them. That means we have to constantly push ourselves out of our comfort zones to continue to achieve results.

In closing, remember, if it was easy, everyone would be fit, everyone would be healthy. So it might take a little work and a little commitment, but it will be well worth it.

Peace, love and mental toughness,

Melissa

I’m thrilled to finally announce that beginning this Monday, January 16, 2012, I will be leading a Biggest Achiever Program at my office (the full-time gig), HCK2 Partners. Our Biggest Achiever Program (BAP) will be similar to the Biggest Loser Program, except ours is a bit broader. Instead of focusing solely on weight loss, this program will focus on whatever goals you want to achieve.

Not everyone needs to lose weight necessarily, but there’s something each and every one of us, self included, can do to become happier and healthier. Sure, maybe you want a six-pack, who doesn’t? But maybe you’d also like to increase your energy levels, get better sleep at night or sharpen your focus. These are all goals that we will address with our Biggest Achiever Program! We spend so much time taking care of our clients, our friends, our families, but we often lose sight of caring for ourselves. This program will help us become better versions of ourselves, in turn helping our clients, friends and families even more!

The BAP has been issued agency-wide at HCK2 Partners, but I would like to also open it up to any one of Live Whole Be Free’s followers! No, there is no cost. With this program you will easily be able to follow along, as all of the content issued to the agency will also be posted right here, on this blog. Health and fitness tips, motivation, recipes, and pertinent information in the health, nutrition and fitness realm that is applicable to everyone. If you’re interested in making even just one small change this year, this program is for you.

Each week I will post a challenge, whether it be no soda for a week, no elevators/escalators for a week, get 8 hours of sleep each night, etc. This is a great way for you to make small changes in your lifestyle. The program is three months long and the ultimate goal is that everyone is successful. So take a moment to figure out what goals you have. Maybe you’ve already made a new year’s resolution. Are you going strong, or have you fallen off a bit? Now’s the time to get back on track, or if you’re doing well, here’s some added motivation to keep you on track. If you haven’t made a resolution, that’s okay, take this time to think about what changes you would like to make in your life and let’s start now. It’s never too late!

I will be releasing the first weekly challenge information tomorrow, so be sure to check back! Even if you decide to follow along on only specific weeks, that is better than nothing! (For instance, the week that we do “no soda”… if you don’t drink soda, that’s terrific, take this week to focus on yourself and your other goals). If you are interested in this program, I urge you to track your starting weight somehow, whether you write it down on a piece of paper at home, or use an online program, it’s important to track your progress. I have used myfitnesspal.com for years. It’s free, easy to follow, has a ton of great tools, and when you track your calories, many popular foods are already loaded in the system, so you don’t have to do much legwork trying to figure out the nutrition information for what you just ate. At some point in the program (without divulging too much information), we will be tracking what we eat, so I urge you to sign up for an account if you don’t already have one. If you’d like to follow me, my username is megalitz. I too have goals that I’d like to reach, so I will be participating in the program as well!

I’m excited about what’s to come for this program. Although this first phase of the Biggest Achiever Program will be more health/nutrition focused, my hope is that come spring, I will be able to integrate more of the fitness aspect as well. Remember, fitness is important. But what is also important, is setting reasonable goals for yourself. If you currently live a sedentary lifestyle, without any exercise, start by just moving. Anything counts! Take a walk around the building at lunch, take the stairs, park further from your destination, etc. The point is to get you up and moving! Baby steps should not be underestimated. All steps, regardless of their size are important and influential in helping you reach your goals!

I’m here for you while we embark on this journey together. If you have any questions or comments, please be sure to leave them below, or email me at info[at]livewholebefree.com.

Peace, love and healthy goals,

Melissa

Click here for the Week 1 Challenge!

This recipe is: Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and vegetarian.

Thank you to The Urban Poser for this delicious recipe! Check out their blog for a homemade marshmallow recipe as well!

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: Four 8 oz. servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk (try BPA free)
  • 2 cups water or coconut milk beverage
  • 6 tbsp. organic cocoa
  • ~1/3 cup honey to taste OR 3 tbsp. agave nectar or 1 tsp. stevia (Depending on how sweet you like your cocoa! Remember, you add in small quantities at a time, you can always add but can never take away!)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg (optional)

Preparation

  1. Over medium heat, combine all the the ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan. While heating, whisk the  mixture till well combined. Continue to stir until the mixture just barely  breaks into a boil.
  2. If you’d like to create a nice foam on top, pour the mixture between to sauce pans/pitchers a five or six times times. You can also use a french press or milk frother, if you have one. Pump the press a few times to create some foam.
  3. Pour the hot cocoa into mugs, add a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg if you’d like and enjoy!