Mom? Mom? Mom? Tips for Working Out with Kids

If you’re a mom, you understand the title of this post without me having to say another word. (Usually when you do finally answer “What?” they forget what they wanted to ask anyway…ironic?)

Either way, the point of this post is to talk about kids. They are amazing, incredible, wonderful, hilarious, adorable, fun, funny, the best part of your day every single day – but of course you want to be the best parent you can be, and that means spending a hell of a lot of time caring for those kids instead of spending that time on yourself. This can make it really difficult when you’re trying to stay in shape. Yes, it definitely makes it harder. But it doesn’t make it impossible.

So often I hear people say that since they had kids they haven’t had time for their workouts, or they find themselves overweight because they are eating the same things as their kids instead of taking time to make their own meals. I’m no perfect parent and far from it, but I do go after what I want and don’t make excuses for things, and this is definitely one example where this rings true more than ever.

Kids should not be a reason for you to not do something good and positive in your life. Instead, they should be one of the biggest reasons for you to do it. Yes, being a mom is an around-the-clock job, but if there is something you really want, you find a way to make it work instead of making an excuse for why you can’t.

With proper planning, you can find time to fit in your workouts through the week just as easily as you find time to catch up on the latest episodes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta or The Walking Dead. And there’s absolutely no reason you should be dealing with weight issues as a result of “snacking on the kids’ meals” – if you’re feeding them junk that would make you overweight, do you really think you should be feeding it to your kids?

Now is the best time to teach your kids lifestyle habits they will keep with them forever. Prepare them healthy, nutritious meals, and you can enjoy cooking and eating healthy together. Remember, things you teach your children now will last them a lifetime, so make your life lessons count. Teaching a child to eat fast food and junk food and they will likely carry these habits with them into adulthood.

As I’ve said many times before in many different posts, Sunday is usually my day of choice for taking a bit of time to myself to plan for the week ahead. From birthday parties to school meetings, keeping up with blog posts and designing for my activewear line and the million and one other things I have to get done through the week – I use this planning time to make my week count, and it makes me feel enthusiastic and eager for the week ahead instead of overwhelmed and exhausted.

If you’re struggling just to find 20 minutes to rest when you’re busy with kids and life (we all feel like this sometimes) I’m telling you – planning and preparation will make all the difference in the world. At least then you can schedule in that 20 minute nap, even if you do get woken up by that baby cry over the monitor as soon as you close your eyes. Look, like I said, it’s not going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it.

Many times, my workout soundtrack has consisted of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” but you know what? I dealt with it. Sure, it’s not as great as listening to Meshuggah or Mastadon cranked full blast (of course I’m getting the kids to love them too) but if it helps me keep up with my workouts and keep the kids happy at the same time, it’s a done deal.

Of course it depends on the ages of your kids, what you do for a living, and all those other personal factors that come into play, but the moral of the story here is that even with little ones running around the house, there’s no reason you can’t fit in time to take care of yourself. In fact, after having kids it’s even more important to eat right and stay active, because you’ve gained weight during pregnancy which can be difficult to get off, along with the hectic life of being a new mom and barely having time to get showered and dressed in the morning. You want to put your children first and you definitely should, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget about yourself. Being overweight and unhealthy is only going to make you feel sick and bad about yourself, and this will affect your mood and attitude with your kids, even if you don’t want to admit it.

As a mom, there’s no one that compares in terms of how proud you should feel. I mean, come on, you created a human being inside your body and brought it into this world. Even rocket scientists can’t complete with that. You’re amazing! The same goes for the guy parents out there. You’re doing an amazing thing and you should feel damn impressed with yourself. Just don’t use kids as an excuse for why you let yourself go. Staying fit and healthy is not only beneficial for yourself, but also means you’re setting a great example for your little ones. One of the most important things you will ever teach your children besides being confident, kind to others, and respecting the world we live in, is to take care of their body.

So just remember, even as a busy mom, there is always time for working out and being healthy. The most important things to remember are to plan and prepare, whether you decide to take one evening a week to do it, or just a couple minutes a day, whatever works for you.

Never forget how important exercise and a healthy diet are, not only to you but to your children as well. You’re their number one influence and role model, so make it count and set a good example for the most important people in your life.

Stick with it, even when you’re having a bad day or if you’re not losing weight as quickly as you would have hoped after having your little one. You just created a human being so give yourself a break, just remember how good being fit and healthy makes you feel and it will be a huge motivator for you to get back in shape.

Get help, whether that means seeking advice from a personal trainer or nutritionist (you usually don’t need to hire someone full-time to guide you through this process, but if you’re not sure what you’re doing, it can definitely help to have someone there to offer their personalized expertise and help you get started) to getting together with friends through the week to try new healthy recipes or go to the gym. Support is everything and will definitely help you stay focused on achieving your fitness goals.

No matter who you are and whether you have just one little one at home or almost enough to start a baseball team, showering your kids with love and compassion is always number one, but there is always time to take care of yourself too. It’s just a matter of finding the will and the time to stay fit and healthy. Figure out what works for you, but just make it work.

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Learn the Truth At Last! How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off

loseweightActually the answer has been here all along. It’s a cocktail of two simple ingredients: diet and exercise.

This may not be what a lot of people want to hear, but I’ll take honesty over fabrication any day of the week, thank you very much.

The world has become so different over time; these days we all want that quick-fix, an instant way of getting the results we’re after. We want to be able to eat whatever we want, but still stay in great shape. Sorry, that just aint gonna happen. There is no technologically advanced or scientifically proven method of getting in shape in a safe and healthy way other than by following a healthy lifestyle – eating nutritious food and staying active. Sure, there are lots of different procedures that can alter the way you look, many different “magic” pills you can try that may appear to help temporarily, but if you really want to be fit and healthy, there’s no other option than to make diet and exercise a priority in your life.

How to Lose Weight

The first thing many people do when they want to lose weight is stop eating. Sure, you’d think this would work. After all, food makes you fat, so if you stop eating, you’re bound to lose weight, right? Not exactly. Your body actually needs food in order to survive it. Without enough food, you have no energy, and not only will you feel fatigued and lethargic, but your body actually stops functioning properly and this can lead to a number of serious health issues.

Not only that, but when you’re not getting enough food, your body goes into starvation mode in order to conserve energy, and in most cases this means it’s basically forced to start using up the muscle in your body as a result. So you may be getting smaller in size when you’re eating one meal a day, but you’re actually keeping most of that stubborn fat you want to get rid of, losing all the muscle you want, and wreaking havoc on your body on top of all that.

No, skipping meals is NOT the way to lose weight. Instead it’s a matter of a simple mathematical calculation and once you have that figured out, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to reach your fitness goals.

You may be trying to bulk up, or you’re happy at your current weight, but if you’re part of the majority of people out there, you’re trying to lose weight. Whether you want to lose five or fifty pounds, the same answer is true – you need a caloric deficit.

What the Heck is a Caloric Deficit?

A caloric deficit means you’re consuming fewer calories each day than you’re burning. If you’re taking in 2000 calories a day, but only burning 1500 a day, you’re going to put on weight. With these numbers you’d be gaining about a pound a week. And that really adds up. Fast.

To lose weight safely, you should aim to only lose about 1 pound a week. You can take a more aggressive approach and aim for 2 or more a week, but not only is this usually a more difficult plan to stick to, it also means you’re at greater risk of losing more muscle in the process, and that’s definitely not something you want.

About 3,500 calories equals 1 pound, so let’s do the math. If you want to lose 1 pound of fat in a week, you need a caloric deficit of around 500 calories a day. Subtract 500 from your daily calorie limit and you’ll know exactly how many calories you need to eat. Don’t go over and don’t go under, and by the end of the week you will lose around 1 pound. Don’t forget to keep your protein intake high through the week, to help prevent as much muscle loss as possible.

Also, try to avoid drastic weight loss by dropping more than 3,500 calories from each week, not only because you’re risking losing major muscle mass, but also because you’ll be putting yourself at risk of nutrient deficiencies and other serious health problems.

How to Track Your Calories

Obviously, in order to keep track and make sure you’re not taking in more calories than you’re supposed to each day, you need to track calories. Keep track of how many calories you’re burning each day (your BMR along with any exercise you do each day) as well as how many calories you’re consuming, and you can ensure you’re maintaining a caloric deficit. Continue with the deficit until you have reached your weight loss goals, and then in order to maintain your weight, you need to lose the deficit and start meeting your full daily calorie needs.

 
Possibly the worst thing about this is that many people still think of “diet and exercise” as bad things. That’s not the case at all. Eating right and staying physically active both offer instant gratification, literally mood boosters that help increase energy and alertness, not to mention the long-term benefits of a fit body, improved confidence and self-esteem, and prevention of a myriad of health conditions, from arthritis and diabetes to high blood pressure and cancer.

There is no magic pill you can pop that will make you wake up the next day with lower blood pressure and a six-pack, so if you want the easy way out, you don’t have that option when it comes to your health. You can live the life you want, feel healthy and happy and more, but you have to be willing to devote some time and effort to the cause. You’re willing to spend 3 hours a day using your cellphone or checking Facebook messages on the computer, so why not put the same amount of time towards something that really matters?

Calories: What They Are and Everything You Need to Know About Them

numbersThe amount of calories you eat in a day, along with the amount of calories you burn, directly relates to the shape you’re in.

The word “calories” is one you need to know more about if you want to get in and stay in shape. A calorie is a unit of energy. Calories are consumed by eating, and are used or burned through physical activity. The more you eat, the more calories you take in. The more active you are, the more calories you use up. Pretty simple, right? Well, there are some other important things about calories you need to know.

Why Do I Need Calories?

Many people mistakenly give calories a bad rap as being “bad for you”, because calories are what make you put on weight – but that’s only when you’re taking in excess calories. In fact, your body needs calories in order to survive. Calories give your body energy and without them, you wouldn’t be able to live. So, learn to appreciate calories.

So How Many Calories Am I Supposed to Eat?

Once you understand that the number of calories (along with those burned) account significantly for your weight, your first question is probably “Well, how many calories am I supposed to eat then?” The answer to this is not a simple one, because it can be different for everyone. Each person is different, your fitness goal may be different from someone else’s, and you may be more or less physically active than someone else. These factors mean the number of calories you should be taking in through the day is greatly varied from your brother’s or friend’s. When you don’t track your calories is when you will end up losing or gaining weight, so you can either skip it and keep getting frustrated, or you can track your calories and meet your fitness goals.

The first step to determining your number is figuring out your BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. In the simplest terms, this is the rate of energy expenditure of your body at rest. In other words, it’s how fast your body burns fat when you’re not working out. Many factors affect this calculation, including your sex, age, height, and weight.

Once you know your BMR, you can determine your calorie maintenance level (how many calories a day you need to consume in order to stay at your current weight) by multiplying your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, which is dependent on how active you are through the week:

    Sedentary (little to no exercise through week) – 1.2

    Lightly Active (1-3 days of exercise through week) – 1.375

    Moderately Active (3-5 days of exercise through week) – 1.55

    Very Active (6-7 days of exercise through week) – 1.725

    Extra Active (2x training 6-7 days of exercise through week) – 1.9

You can also use a TDEE calculator to help you easily determine your calorie maintenance level.

If you want to lose weight (you should aim to lose about 1 pound a week in order to lose weight safely) you need to consume 3500 fewer calories than you burn through the week. So if your daily calorie limit is 2000 calories (just for example), you need to consume no more than 1500 calories each day in order to lose 1 pound per week (500 fewer calories per day x 7 days in the week = 3500). Of course this is only a calculation, but it’s the ONLY surefire way of losing weight.

On the other hand, if you want to gain weight, you need a caloric surplus instead, so you’re taking in more calories than you’re burning each day. The aim of a caloric surplus is to maximize muscle gains and minimize fat gains. You want to take in enough extra calories to build muscle effectively, but not take in so many calories that you’re putting on extra fat as well. Although again, the exact calculation can vary based on your own personal factors, the ideal caloric surplus for men is around 250 calories per day, and for women only 125 per day. With a daily calorie limit of 2000 calories (remember, just for example) you would need to consume 2250 calories per day if you’re a man, and 2125 calories per day if you’re a woman. And if you’re happy with the weight you’re at, you simply consume your daily calorie limit without going under or over. The easiest math you’ve ever done, right?

Just remember that no matter which calculator you use, the only truly accurate way of determining your calorie maintenance level is by figuring it out for yourself. Use this information and a TDEE calculator to give yourself the best guess of what your number is, and then track your weight for the next couple of weeks, following with your fitness goals in mind. So if according to the calculators and your personal information you think your calorie maintenance level (how many calories you need in a day to maintain your current weight) is 2200 (just as an example) and you know you are eating 2200 calories a day, but you monitor your weight and see that you are losing weight each week, you know that your calorie maintenance level is actually higher than 2200. So all you need to do is add 100 calories each day, so you’re now taking in 2300 calories a day, and keep at it for a couple of weeks. If you’re still losing weight, you know to add another 100, and if you’re staying at the same weight, you know you’ve found your true calorie maintenance level. This works the other way around too, if you’re gaining weight, just knock 100 calories off your daily total, and continue until you’re staying at the same weight.

Keep in mind that as you lose or gain weight, your calorie maintenance level may change as well. It may sound a bit tricky, but this is probably the most valuable information you need to know, regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your current weight.

The Importance of Counting Calories

It’s important to realize just how easy calories add up. When I first started eating healthy, I figured as long as I was eating healthy foods, I could pretty much eat whatever I want. WRONG. Even just two of my favourite whole wheat protein pancakes (even though there are only fabulous, nutritious ingredients in them) have a whopping 440 calories, which is way more than I expected. That’s when I started counting calories and realized how important it was. Calories add up so fast, even when you’re sticking with healthy, wholesome foods like you should be, and especially if you’re trying to lose weight, you’re not going to have much luck if you’re taking in too many calories through the day.

If you don’t want to keep track yourself, I recommend My Fitness Pal. It only takes a couple of seconds to sign up – they just need your basic information including your email, height, weight, etc. – and you’re ready to go. It makes it so simple to keep track of the calories you’re burning each day, as well as your calorie intake, so you can make progress and get the results you want. With one of the largest food databases in the world, it’s easy to find pretty much any food and find out the amount of calories per serving. Instead of trying to do the measurements yourself, My Fitness Pal helps take the work out of counting calories for you, so you always get the most accurate measurements and can spend that extra time you have on planning your meals and keeping up with your workouts. I also like it because it keeps everything really organized for you, and it’s proof of everything you’re doing through the day. Be honest, use it properly, and it will help you get the results you want.Plus, if there are things you eat every day, like me and my trusty protein powder, it’s easy to copy it from one day to the next, saving you even more time and hassle.

Keep track of everything you eat and drink. (Water has no calories, but you can still keep track of it if you want to ensure you’re staying hydrated by drinking enough water each day). That includes any dips, toppings, and sides you eat through the day. Even the smallest, most seemingly harmless foods can pack a real punch in terms of calorie in take, so do it right and track everything if you want results. Don’t cheat, because you’ll only be cheating yourself. It’s amazing how quickly calories add up, and if you want to stay on track and make progress, you need to be aware of how much you’re eating through the day (and not just recording what you feel like recording – just so you know, even if you don’t write it down, if you ate it, you ate it, which means adding on to calorie intake for the day, so no matter how hard you may not want it to be, that’s a fact.

Not only is tracking your macros the best way of ensuring you make the fitness progress you want, but it also helps make you more educated and informed. You learn more about the different types of foods, the macros in them, what they give your body, and how to plan out your days so you’re getting enough of everything you need. You really start to appreciate food more than ever, and understand how amazing and incredible the human body really is. You will likely be amazed at just how much food you can eat when you take time to plan and track everything. It’s not a pain, it’s actually a blessing. Don’t ever think even when you’re on a caloric deficit that you’re going to be stuck eating crumbs through the day because it won’t be like that at all. Also remember the more active you are, the more exercise you get in each day, the higher your calorie maintenance level ends up being, and therefore the more calories you need each day (or in other words, the more you get to eat).

The idea of “counting calories” is one that is certainly nothing new. You don’t have to do this, everyone has their own methods and ideas, but in my opinion it’s one of the most important things to do if you want to get in shape.

The Paleo Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Weight Watchers Diet – there are so many different “diets” out there you could try. The thing is – if you’re taking in too many calories through the day, you WON’T lose weight. It’s as simple as that. Once you realize that, it’s easy to see how pointless following any of these diets really is. Save yourself the money, time and hassle, (not to mention the disappointment you feel when it doesn’t work) and do it the simple way. The right way. Keep track of the calories you’re consuming and using through the day, and adjust your daily calorie intake as needed.

Welcome to 2015: Don’t Be Fooled by Lame Marketing Scams

shoppingOK, so this started happening LONG before 2015, but it’s worse now than ever before. And no, I’m not talking about a spammer writing you pretending to be from PayPal asking you to confirm your account information.

What I’m referring to is the awful, annoying, horrible marketing and advertising tactics certain (many) companies use to get you to buy their products. There is seriously NO decency when it comes to these businesses and what they are willing to do to trick you, the consumer, and make their money. All they’re concerned with is making as much money as possible and it doesn’t matter if it’s you, your parents, your children – they don’t care.

There are a few examples in particular I can use to showcase more clearly what I’m talking about here. Low-fat items, for one. These “low-fat” items actually aren’t lower in fat at all in most cases, and even when they are, they’re usually so full of additives and preservatives that you’d be better off buying the original product and getting more nutrition from that than you’re getting from this “low-fat” version. The main reason these foods are so bad for you is because once the fat has been removed, there usually isn’t much flavour left, so companies know you’re not going to want to eat it. What they do to make up for the lack of flavour is shove a bunch of added sugar and unnatural chemicals into the mix, so they can claim the fat is gone, and now there’s lots of flavour there, but what you don’t realize is that “flavour” is worse for you than the fat that was there to begin with.

Another example is with whole grains. Yes, whole grains do offer nutrition, but unfortunately in the world we live in today, it’s very hard to find grains that are in fact “whole”. Instead, most food products listed as “whole grain” are pretty much just as bad for you as refined grain products.

If you try to be smart and buy food products that are low in sugar, you have to be extremely careful these days. Anything at all with a label on it for that matter is probably full of sugar. Even if you read on the front of the package “low in sugar” or “sugar fee”, that’s right, it may not be the case. Companies are pretty much free to write whatever they want on their packaging – but you can get the truth by actually examining the nutrition label for yourself. Keep in mind that if you see sugar listed as one of the first few ingredients, you know there is a ton of sugar in there, because the ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance by weight.

So remember, even if you think you’re being smart and making all the right choices, trying to be the best person you can be and keep yourself and your family healthy and happy, you need to be more cautious than ever before. Always read over any labelled food products, and even more, take time to do your research. Find out as much as you can about a company before buying its products. Fresh, whole foods are always best – you know, the ones that don’t need a label, and whenever you can take fresh ingredients and make your own food at home, you’re making one of the best decisions you can for your health and your body.

Keep Going: Don’t Turn a Falter Into a Failure

moveforwardOne of the most difficult parts of getting and staying healthy is keeping up the motivation. Sure it’s easy for the first month of January after making it your New Year’s resolution, or for the couple of months before summer when you decide you want to shape up before hitting the beach to stick to your exercise plan and eat healthy, but what happens after that? Well, what happens after that is up to you and you alone.

It can definitely be hard to stay focused and stay on track, but when it comes to getting rewarded for your efforts, there is nothing in life you will ever reap more benefits for than being healthy. You feel better, look better, feel less stressed and more focused; the list just goes on and on.

One of the most common issues people have when it comes to getting healthy, especially if they are a long way from their goal to start, is giving up after making a mistake. “Well, I missed my Tuesday workout, I may as well just skip the rest of the week and start getting serious on Monday…” or “I went on holiday and didn’t eat healthy for a couple of days, I’ll just start next month and then I’ll really stick to it…” I mean, there are a million and one excuses we can use to validate our behaviour and put off what we should be getting done today. You know I love my quotes, and one of my favourites fits in so perfectly here:

If it is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.

Perfect, right? It’s so true. We are all busy, we all have our own issues, our own things going on in life, things that could prevent us from fitting in time for things we want, but it’s up to us whether we choose to find a way or an excuse.

Just because you give in to that chocolate craving or have a bowl of chips, does that mean you should feel bad and just give it all up? Should you just go back to eating whatever you want without thinking of the consequences of your health, forget about exercise and get back into the worst shape of your life? NO.

Just because you falter, and we all do at times, that does NOT mean you should just give up. If we all gave up when we made a mistake, no one would ever be successful. You think Edison just invented the lightbulb on a whim? Pretty sure that didn’t happen. The most talented people in the world who have come up with some of the most incredible ideas, have all had to try and try again. The question is – will you give up and let this become part of your failures in life, or will you stay motivated, stay determined, keep at it, and let this become part of your successes in life?

Just because you slip up here or there, it’s important to remember that it’s “two steps forward, one step back”, so don’t give up or it’s like taking “two steps forward, one hundred steps back” and that is not the place you want to be.

TIPTIME: Snacks are Your Friend, Not Your Enemy

When most people think of snacking, they think it’s something you should avoid at all costs if you want to get fit and healthy. The reality is, snacking is your friend, not your enemy. The key here is what exactly it is you’re snacking on.

Obviously if you’re using fried or sugary foods like donuts or chocolate bars to keep yourself satiated through the day, you’re doing it wrong.

It’s important to snack through the day, to keep your energy levels high and also prevent yourself from gorging on oversized meals later on, out of hunger. Portion control is so important for proper health and for getting in shape, so you don’t ever want to have that “I’m starving” feeling, because then you’ll just end up gorging at your next meal, which leads to an excess of calories, not to mention bloating and over time, makes your body accustomed to eating more than necessary which is going to cause nothing but trouble. Snacking between meals means you will eat less at meal time, helps ensure you get optimum daily nutrition each day, and it also helps keep your metabolism burning at a consistent level. This is really important, because messing up your metabolic rate is definitely not a good thing, especially when you’re trying to lose weight and get in shape.

Just choose healthy snacks. That’s all there is to it. It’s really that simple. A handful of raw almonds, a couple of rice cakes (I like mine with a bit of Frank’s hot sauce drizzled on top; I really do put it on everything), or even a small scoop of some natural peanut butter. Here are just a few other ideas for healthy, well-proportioned snacks you can nosh on through the day:

    1 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup blueberries
    1/2 Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup berries
    1 peach
    2 cups plain popcorn
    1 cup chocolate milk with 5 strawberries
    2 stalks celery, chopped, with peanut butter and raisins
    1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
    10 tofu sticks
    20 sweet potato fries
    1 protein bar (some can be just as high in sugar and fat as a regular candy bar, so ALWAYS read over the label and find a quality, high-protein bar that is good for you)

Especially when it comes to snacks, meal planning is a great idea. This helps you plan ahead so you don’t waste valuable time searching through your cupboards for something to eat every day, and also helps you stay on track with your nutrition and fitness goals. It’s also great if you’re someone who counts their macros, because you can plan everything ahead of time and not always feel so stressed out with so much on your plate. You have 15 or 20 minutes to spare on a Sunday afternoon? Or maybe you got off work early one Tuesday? Take a bit of time to do some meal planning and trust me, you’ll be so glad you did.

Once you realize how important snacking is, you can take that next step and start ensuring you are giving your body the fuel it needs, not just 3 times a day for the typical breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, but in between those meals as well.

Play the Lottery Another Day: Why Living Healthy is a 100% Guaranteed Win

You may have fun playing the lotto once in a while, but one thing’s for sure – you’re never guaranteed to win. Although that would be nice. The great thing about living a healthy life is that you ARE guaranteed to ALWAYS get results. This isn’t a risk, you know you’re guaranteed to see improvements when you start eating right and getting exercise. No matter who you are or what you do in life, if you take the right steps, you’re going to start seeing changes. Big changes. Here are just a few examples.

 
Fat Loss and Muscle Gain

Of course your body is where you will notice the most difference when you start eating clean and being active. Especially with the right workout plan – a combination of intense cardio like High-Intensity Interval Training workouts, along with strength training sessions – even within just a couple of days you will notice a decrease in body fat and increase in muscle mass. That means you’re slimming down and toning up, sculpting your body and getting fit. If you’re eating right and getting exercise, there is absolutely NO way you won’t get results. Maintain a caloric deficit and you will lose weight, with a caloric surplus you will gain weight, and by maintaining your daily calorie intake you will stay at your current weight. It’s really that simple. It’s literally as easy as eating clean, whole foods, maintaining the necessary daily calorie intake, and getting at least an hour of physical activity in through the day. Of course the more seriously you take it, the even better results you will end up with.

Energy Boost

Another almost instantaneous reward you’ll notice is the increased energy you suddenly have. This isn’t just your imagination running wild, either. It’s literally been scientifically proven that within seconds, yes SECONDS, of starting exercise, blood starts pumping through your body at a faster rate and your energy level is boosted not only during the workout, but after as well. This is why I don’t mind getting up at 5am every morning for my kickass cardio workout, because it actually gives me more energy to take on the day, and when I don’t workout is when I feel sluggish and fatigued.

Healthy Hair

Unless you’re rocking the Miley Cyrus-Vin Diesel level of shortness, (in which case it’s probably too short to notice, in case you didn’t get my reference), your hair will look noticeably improved in just a matter of weeks after changing your diet and getting more exercise. Just like your skin, the condition of your hair is majorly dependent on the condition of your inside health. The better you treat your body the more it will show, most certainly in your hair, skin and nails. Your hair will grow faster and look shinier and healthier, even without any of those expensive leave-in treatments you love (but pay a pretty penny for).

More Confidence

Eating healthy and being active is a great way to boost your confidence. You feel better from the inside out. You’re glowing, you feel stronger, more empowered, you have more energy and you’re less fatigued and depressed. You can cope with stress better and you feel happier with life overall. I noticed all of these changes when I started being healthy, and these amazing benefits are what kept me going. And boy, was it worth it. Trust me, if you stick to it, it only gets better as time goes on. There are always going to be stresses in life, things we have to deal with and days when we don’t feel so fantabulous, but being healthy is certainly the best way to boost your confidence and feel better about life.

Improved Health

Last in this list but certainly not of least importance is the improved state of health you attain when you start living a healthy life. By feeding your body with the right foods – whole, fresh foods that fuel your body – and staying active, you gain short- and long-term health benefits. From stress relief and better sleep to helping prevent serious diseases like diabetes and cancer, a healthy life pays off for your body as well as your mind. Heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure; healthy habits can help combat all these diseases. It can also help you manage any existing health problems you may have, such as metabolic syndrome or arthritis.

 
You want to try your luck, get a scratch ticket. You want guaranteed results, start living a healthier life today.

Shoes for Weight Training: Choosing the Right Footwear for Your Strength Training Workout

When it comes to fitness apparel, there are three especially important factors: support, comfort and style. You need proper support dependant om the type of workout you’re doing. Of course, you need to be comfortable in what you’re wearing, and your outfit should be suited to the type of workout you’re doing. Obviously parachute pants and a knit sweater isn’t the ideal ensemble for a HIIT session…just sayin’. Also, of course, you should rock your own style and feel good in what you’re wearing. Whatever your personal taste may be, it definitely helps to kick ass during a workout when you feel good about how you look.

Over the years I’ve collected quite a few pieces of fitness apparel, everything from tanks and tees to fitted track pants and shorts. Shoes are definitely one of the most important things you’ll be wearing during your workout. The right shoes will absorb impact during exercise, decreasing the risk of injury, and supporting your feet so you can move freely and make the most of your workout. When it comes to weight lifting, there are definitely different things to consider when shopping for fitness gear, in comparison to what you’d need for a run on the treadmill or sweating out some burpees. In particular, there are three major factors to keep in mind when you’re shopping for shoes:

Proper Fit

This one may seem pretty obvious, but you’d probably be pretty surprised at just how many people are wearing the wrong size shoes. If you’re not sure of your shoe size, get yourself fitted. It’s a 5-minute process and you can even do it yourself, and it’s well worth it. This makes it a ton easier to go shoe shopping and ensures you won’t end up with shoes that are pinching your toes or falling off your feet every time you move.

Good Traction

If there’s one thing you can’t live without during a weight lifting workout, it’s traction. You definitely don’t want to slip while you’re reppin’ your record 310 lbs above your head, so make sure you find a pair of shoes that keep your feet grounded during lifts. No slipping and sliding here, please.

Super Sole

You want the sole of your shoe to be flat and hard. Kind of like how you want your body, am I right? The closer your feet are to the floor (but don’t try lifting barefoot, please) the more stability and control you have during lifts.

Fortunately, there are soooooo many amazing shoes to choose from, so no matter what your budget, style, or size, you can find the perfect shoes for your workout. Once you have the right gear, your workout will be that much more effective, and considering your feet take most of the grunt during any workout, it’s obviously really important to find the right ones. Here are just a few of my top picks.
Adidas Powerlift 2.0
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These shoes are one of the best I’ve seen for strength training. Literally built for this purpose, these shoes are ultra-comfortable and definitely super stylish. They feel as close to bare feet as you can get while still offering your feet the protection and support they need for an intense weights session.

Chuck Taylors
chuckspic
I’m not even going to specify a particular model of Chucks, because honestly, I love them all. One of my favourites is the lo-top in black and white, obviously a classic and for good reason. These shoes are a favourite for many people, because they offer all of the key components you’re looking for in a good strength training shoe: a comfortable and supportive fit, good traction, and a thin, flat sole. Not to mention they always look killer.

Nike Free Trainer 3.0
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I’m a big fan of the Nike Free line as well. They have some awesome minimalist shoes, perfect for weight training. One of the best things about these shoes is that even with the very low heel, they still offer your feet a ton of cushioning. This stable shoe is comfortable and super flexible, making it perfect not only for lifting weights but also for other forms of exercise like cardio and conditioning.

What are some of your favourite things to rock for your workouts? (I’m always willing to add to my collection if I have to) 😉

Newbie Talk: Tips for Getting Started at the Gym

gym picThe good news? Everyone was a newbie at some point. Whenever you’re getting started with something, that’s just the thing – you’re getting started. Everyone has to start somewhere, so there’s no need to feel nervous, worried, or anxious, no matter what it is you’re getting started with (although of course we all experience those feelings sometimes).

If you’ve decided to make health and fitness a priority in your life (good for you!) you want to get in shape and maybe your plan is to do so at the local gym. There are certainly many advantages to working out at a gym, especially for a beginner. That includes saving you money for one thing; the gym is fully equipped with everything you need to improve your fitness level. You don’t have to go out and spend a ton of money on free weights, a barbell and plates, a squat rack – these things are already at the gym just waiting for you to use to get into killer shape.

The gym is also a very motivating place – it’s pretty awesome to see a bunch of people around you with the same interest as you, working hard to get fit and healthy. It’s also nice quite frankly just to have a place to go. Most people are at home so often dealing with kids, planning out bills, cooking some delicious smoothies and salads, and it’s nice to get out and get away for a while, even if it’s only for an hour to push out that kickass workout.

Whether you’ve signed up for a gym membership or you’re just testing out the waters, you’re probably going to love it. Just make sure you keep a few things in mind before stepping through the gym door, to make the experience as awesome as possible for you and everyone else there.

Put Your Toys Away

Just like you remind your kids every night before bed, it’s nice to put your things away when you’re done with them. There’s no worse way to welcome yourself to the gym than by being a slob. Respect others in the gym and make sure all the weights go back to their proper racks when you’re done. This seems pretty obvious, but it’s something that may slip your mind after you’ve just finished your last rep of squats and your ass is on fire.

Don’t Give Unwanted Advice

Even if you feel like you’re already pretty experienced at this whole fitness thing, it’s really not proper etiquette to approach someone at the gym and offer your critique. Even if you have the credentials to back you up to do so, just don’t. Don’t be that guy. It’s one thing to share tips and ideas with others online, or when you’re hired by someone to do so, but taking it upon yourself to comment to that girl in the gym letting her know her squat form isn’t perfection – that’s just not OK.

Don’t be a Nuisance

You should always feel free to do your own thing, to be the rock star you know you are, but when you’re in the gym and others are trying to focus on making those gains, the last thing you want to do is make yourself a distraction and mess up their workout. Avoid leaving your cellphone turned on, so everyone else in the room doesn’t have to listen to the Flashdance song you switched your ringtone to when you were out having drinks with your friends the other night. Don’t talk on your phone either, please. Most people there want to focus on their workout, not listen to you and your best friend chit-chat for a half hour. Don’t use this time to take a selfie every 3 seconds or check the latest posts on Facebook or Twitter. Get in, do your thing, and get out. That way there’s more space and more equipment available for others, plus this way you know you’re focusing on your workout and you can take care of everything else after. Wear headphones if you want to listen to music while you workout. Don’t practice your Thriller dance moves in the mirror (unless you get requests, of course, then go ahead and rock it). In general, just try to be polite and let others do their thing.

You shouldn’t feel like you’re walking into an army boot camp when you head into the gym, but it is good to know at least basic gym etiquette so you and everyone else there can avoid hassle and drama and keep your concentration on what really matters – kicking ass and making some fat cry.

Take the Leap: Why It’s Never Too Late to Make a Change

possibleYou have one life. Live it.

Take chances, be free, do what you need to do in order to be happy. Don’t say “I can’t do that because I just turned 50”, or “I can’t change jobs now because I just went through four years of school for this”. No matter what, you can always make a change in your life for the better.

We’re all so used to living out perfectly planned lives – waking up at the crack of dawn, getting ready, kissing the kids goodbye and heading off to work. The sad thing is, in most cases this means you dreading waking up, dragging yourself to work, and hating the job you’re at all day. The good news? There’s no reason you can’t change this RIGHT NOW.

It’s so important to be happy. It affects everything you are, everything you do, and everyone around you. There would be so much less negativity and stress in the world if we all just took a minute to figure out what would make us happier, what would make us a better person, what we can do to change the situation we’re in if we need to, and just do it.

This relates to anything in life, from being in a bad relationship, to working at a job you hate, to not accomplishing any of the goals you have in mind and feeling as though your life is just wasting away. It’s important to realize that it is NEVER too late to make a change. You want to climb Mount Everest? Do it. You want to leave your job on Wall Street at the age of 45 to start your own restaurant in your hometown? Go for it. You’ve decided you want to leave law school halfway in and become a teacher instead? Who’s stopping you?

The same goes for being healthy. It doesn’t sound like much compared to a four-year career or climbing the tallest mountain in the world, but in actuality, it really is. Your health is SO important. Without it, you can’t do any of those other things. It doesn’t have to take a health issue or other major problem in your life to make you realize the importance of being healthy. If you do decide to make this important change in your life, don’t be hard on yourself. If you eat a piece of chocolate at night after eating healthy for two weeks, for God’s sake don’t get depressed and feel like you have to start all over. If you miss a workout because you’ve swamped at work and you wanted to take a night off to watch four straight seasons of Friends on Netflix, don’t feel bad about yourself. None of us are “perfect” and “perfect” doesn’t mean never making a mistake.

The point is, regardless of what it’s relating to, your job, your car, your weight – is that you’re trying. That you care enough to make an effort. And guess what? When you put in that effort? You WILL succeed. It may sound cliche, but you can do anything you put your mind to, you really can. You just have to commit to it and tell yourself that you can do it and you’re already halfway there. And the best thing you can put your mind to is something that is going to help you and others be healthy and happy in this life. Of course the further away you are from your goal right now, the more intimidating it feels, the more impossible it seems. But you can’t get where you want to be if you aren’t willing to take that first step. And just think about it – as soon as you take that step, you’re that one step closer to where you want to be. One of my favourite sayings which fits perfectly here (who comes up with these things, they’re genius): “A year from now you’ll wish you had started today”. It’s absolutely true. Time goes by so quickly, and when the year is up, the time has passed anyway but you won’t be any closer to achieving your dreams and goals unless you’re willing to take that first step. It’s really that simple.

If you feel there are things missing in your life, or you’re just not where you want to be, don’t wait to make a change. Do it now. The best way to get started? Take a minute to yourself, sit down, figure out what it is that you want to get out of life. Write it down. Set goals for yourself. Get started on them and make it happen. Figure out what is going to fulfill you, what will make you whole, what it is that’s going to make you get up each morning happy and looking forward to the day. I always appreciated life and had wonderful people in my life, but when I realized how important health and fitness was to me, how much living healthy meant to me and how I could help show others the same, it made all the difference in the world. I knew that all the jobs I had in the past that felt unsatisfying just weren’t for me. This was. Suddenly I felt as though I had a purpose, I had found something I enjoyed so much, something that would never get old and that I would never get sick of, and it was something that was actually helping others, which is what I really want out of life.

Don’t look at others who are “farther ahead” with what you want to do than you are right now and let that get you down, that’s silly. Remember, they had to start somewhere too. You should never be jealous of someone else – if you want something, do it. Who cares if there are a million other people doing it too? If it’s something you’re passionate about and which you know will be fulfilling to you, you can’t use that as a reason to not do it. Look at the health and fitness community – it’s HUGE! But I don’t look at others as competition, I look at them as inspiration. If anything, you should respect those people even more, because they have the same interests as you; you have the same goals and passion and it’s a really cool thing. The key thing – there may be a lot of people doing the same thing, but none of those people are you. There will always be something unique about what you bring to the table compared to others, and that’s what makes the difference. Always follow your dreams, and focus on doing what makes you happy, not what is going to make you the most “successful”.

Life is too short for the “What Ifs”. You want to make a change in your life, do it. Don’t stress, don’t think negatively, don’t hesitate. Just do it. You CAN do it.