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Saturday, December 31, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: YOU DID IT!

I hope you are feeling as good about all these good habits as I am! When New Year's Day arrives I hope you'll feel like you are on top of your goals and will look forward to whatever else you want to accomplish with confidence! You have really exercised your decision-making skills over these past weeks. You've been thoughtful about how you structure your life so that it is easier to make the right choices. Don't drop these good habits. They are good for life!

Now take what you've learned about goals and apply it to whatever else you want to do. Make the steps small and attainable. Keep the focus on your behavior and not results. Decide HOW you will make the goal happen and set up the scene so you know the plan in advance.

And if you enjoyed the process of picking one new goal each week, go through each goal again, but this time focus on the "EVEN BETTER" portion at the bottom to take it to the next level of good healthy habits.

Here is an article that may help you even more. I think you'll recognize some of the strategies I used in the 12 Weeks to New Year Program we just completed.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK TWELVE!

Here we are on the last goal! You've done so well! This week I think you'll find the goal very simple. You can totally do this one!

WEEK TWELVE: Only eat sitting down at the table. Don't eat in front of the TV or in the car. No eating out of bags. Load a plate with the food you choose (remember what you learned about portion sizes), put the rest away, and sit down.

WHY: Eating anywhere besides the table can easily lead to overeating or eating for reasons other than hunger (boredom, social situation, habit, empty craving, emotional impulses). Eating in the car means you are probably in a hurry and it's likely you will grab something less than healthy to fill your stomach.

HOW: No food in the living room or TV room. Tell the kids. If they see you eating in front of the TV they'll be sure to report it and you'll be accountable to them! Arrange the pillows on your couch to be in the way of your seat. If your hands are holding food when you go to sit down, you'll try to move the pillow and remember you aren't supposed to have food in your hands at the couch. If you typically eat in the car, you'll need to plan your schedule a little in advance so you can have time to eat before you leave.

EVEN BETTER: Keep snacks between meals to healthy choices only. Save treats for after dinner when you are already full and likely won't binge. Make a list of things that can keep your mouth busy without doing a lot of damage.

Next Week is New Year's Eve! Woo Hoo! You are ON IT!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK ELEVEN

How are you feeling? STRONG and HAPPY! Keep it all up! You are sailing through the holidays with great habits!

WEEK ELEVEN: Don't drink your calories, which means no juice or soda. Smoothies that use the entire fruit are still okay. I still add milk to my cereal, but I don't drink it by the glass. If you still want milk with your meal, make it part of your meal, not just drinking through the day. And honestly, the major problem with drinking your calories is typically not milk, it's juice and soda.

WHY: Continuously feeding sweetness (even artificial sweetners) to your palate trains you to crave more sweets.

HOW: Hopefully having a drink of water first thing in the morning has gotten you used to drinking plain water more frequently by now. Make your daily choices simple by make one strong choice when you are at the grocery store. Just don't buy juice!

This goal can be a hard one if you rely on caffeinated drinks to give you energy. Many people find that it's the fizz of the soda they really want more than the sugar. Try switching to plain club soda. You can add a little flavor with a splash of lemon or lime juice. See an earlier post I shared about club soda.

EVEN BETTER: Eat the whole fruit instead of just the juice. It brings fiber that is useful to your body. Also, no diet soda or energy drinks. The syrups and chemicals are taxing your liver.

WEEK TWELVE will be posted December 23. Look back on the previous weeks. Look what you've done! I promise that keeping these habits will pay off big in the long run. Even if you don't need to lose weight or change your health, these habits will protect your health longterm!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK TEN

WEEK TEN: Correct your posture 10 times per day AND smile.

WHY: Standing up tall makes you feel more in control, more confident and is good for your spinal health. You can instantly feel more energetic. And when YOU feel more confident and in control, you'll make better choices and even LOOK stronger to others.

HOW: This goal has two built-in reminders. It's week TEN and you have TEN fingers. Every time you correct your posture and decide to smile mentally count on your fingers. Or put a ring or loose hairband on your thumb at the beginning of the day. Move it to the next finger each time you correct your posture. You could also paint one of your nails an interesting color to remind you.

Here's the secret to improving your posture: Shhhhhh!

Pull in your bumhole (a.k.a. your anus). I know you think I should have said "pelvic floor" but I'm telling you it's not the same thing. A lot of times it's pushed downward because it's under a lot of pressure from everything inside our body. And after some crazy pressure we put on it (for instance: pregnancies!) it is in a bad habit.

Now try this: pull that bumhole in. Not tighten it, but up and inside your body. That will place your pelvic bone in a more neutral position (instead of swayed backward like most people). Your lower abdominal area will naturally tighten. This pelvic position should cause your gluteal muscles to tighten a bit and your lower back to loosen. This movement will likely engage your central abdominal muscles and engage muscles in your upper back. Push your shoulders back as you lift your chest. It's all connected and it starts at the bottom!

Don't stand like an army sergeant. If you feel this is uncomfortably tense, drop your shoulders. Look at yourself in the mirror. See what I mean?! You look great!

You can use these same cues when you are seated. Don't slump in your chair and constantly lean against the back. Sit tall in your chair. This will also make you look more in control and professional. If you work in an office, ask if your Human Resources office provides an evaluation of your workspace. Your chair, chair height, desk height, and desk tools can make a big difference in your spinal health.

If you are faced with a difficult food choice during the day (or any choice) take a moment to correct your posture.

Here is an interesting TED Talk about how our posture can impact our life. Check it out!

EVEN BETTER: Do plank exercises along with your 12 squats or pushups each morning. AND think of one good thing you did in the last 24 hours.

WEEK ELEVEN will post December 16.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK NINE

WOW! We've already conquered a lot of good habits!

Here is one you may think is odd but give it a try.

WEEK NINE: Leave half of your lunch on the counter or in your bag or maybe even in the fridge. Basically just put it somewhere else besides where you are sitting to eat. After you've eaten the first half, ask yourself if you're still hungry. Don't hesitate to finish the rest if you're still hungry. Do the same when you go out to eat. Put half of your food in a take home container before you take your first bite.

WHY: So often we eat mindlessly while reading or talking. We eat more than we need and wonder where it all went when we see the plate empty. The purpose of this goal is to train you to stop and check your body signals before you automatically eat everything. And finding you still have the other half to eat (guilt-free) is so fun! Restaurant portions are typically 2-3 times what a good meal size should really be. Put away half and you'll get 2 meals for the price of one!

HOW: This one is pretty easy if you just remember. If you pack a lunch, package half separately to remind you to leave it in the bag. If you eat at home you can leave a note on the cabinet (like the one I give you in class). Or if you want, hang a whistle where you'll see it. That means "half-time!"

EVEN BETTER: Pay attention to your body whenever you make food choices. What is it that you really need? Are you hungry or just bored? Is this food going to make you feel satisfied or frustrated? And always drink a glass of water first.

WEEK TEN will be posted December 9.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK EIGHT

This is a big week. All we have to do is hear the word, "Thanksgiving," we think of LOTS AND LOTS OF FOOD. Well, you keep at all those other things we've been doing in the previous weeks. Remember what you've learned about portion sizes and keep it real. But enjoy the day with your family. But here is your goal.

WEEK EIGHT: Learn one new recipe for dinner that is a little healthier. Any dinner, not just Thanksgiving.

WHY: Sometimes we don't know that the recipes in our cookbooks are really recipes for disaster! Or maybe you don't cook much at all. Going out to eat can really pack on the calories. Restaurants aren't concerned with your health, they just make sure your mouth is happy!  Learn to cook yourself. Just start with one recipe. New recipes take longer the first time you do it. So just take this one step. Maybe you'll find a new family favorite.

HOW: It doesn't have to be Thanksgiving food, but if you'd like a lighter version of some of the traditional foods for Thanksgiving, check my Pinterest board. I also have a lot of recipes on my recipe tab at the top of this page. I especially like my guilt-free version of chicken enchiladas. I also LOVE Cranberry-Turkey Enchiladas. Find something a little lighter. (Hint: avoid your neighbor's favorite casserole or pretty much anything that calls for a container of sour cream and a can of cream of chicken soup!)

EVEN BETTER: Find one of your favorite recipes and make it healthier. Maybe you can reduce the butter or sour cream. Google the name of your recipe and "makeover" to see if someone else out there has already figured out how to make it healthier. Find out where most of the calories in your recipe are coming from and see if you can cut that ingredient in half. Check my pinterest board for ideas.

WEEK NINE will post December 2.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK SEVEN

The past few goals have been small changes in habits that will pay off big. Keep going. This week should be easy, easy. But you'll notice a big difference with all the treats that will be flooding your house over the next several weeks. TRUST ME!

WEEK SEVEN: Keep all treat foods out of sight (or out of house).

WHY: Don't make it so easy to grab those snacks quick. Out of sight is out of mind. You won't be tempted by them every time you walk by. On the flip side: Keep healthy, low calorie snacks in clear containers.

HOW: You've got lots of options here. Cover the pan with foil (not plastic wrap). Don't leave the knife in the pan so you can easily cut another piece. Put the leftovers in opaque containers and put the container in the cupboard. When I make a batch of brownies or cookies, I quickly put them all in individual portions bags. That alone stops me from constant nibbling, but you can also freeze these portions. Your kids can grab one serving for lunch in the morning. It will be defrosted by lunchtime. If you want a single portion sometime for a dessert, you can easily defrost in the microwave, or let it sit out while you have dinner.

Cut up carrots in advance so they are easy to grab. Pop air-popped popcorn and keep it in a bag so you can grab it instead of chips or cookies. I like to nibble on cold-steamed broccoli. Weird? I don't know, but if it's ready to go in the fridge I'll opt for it instead of something less nutritious.

If your neighbors bring you goodies, put them away or freeze in portions and you can enjoy them over a long period of time instead of indulging too much too often.

CUE: When you see it sitting out and you want a bite--CUE THE FOIL! When you open the fridge and can't see something you like, you gotta get some healthy snacks ready to go.

EVEN BETTER: Don't have treats in your house. If your neighbors bring you a treat, save/freeze it for guests, give it away, or just throw it away! Say thank you, but eating something you don't want or need will just set you back on your goals and give you more work. If you have a craving for a treat, go buy one single serving from a store. Leave them with the cookie dough and the rest of the batch.

WEEK EIGHT will be posted November 25.

Inside scoop on choreography

I thought I'd tell you what it's like trying to choreography new songs.

First thing you should know is that for a 3 minute song, it's not uncommon to spend 3-6 hours coming up with choreography that works. The movements need to be fun, easy to follow, and really fit the style and mood of the song. They also need to be safe and give a good workout. And I try to make the movements not exactly like all the other songs, so I try to give each one something unique about it. Some instructors can do this in less time, but not me! Some songs go well beyond 6 hours. And this doesn't include the time spent trying to FIND a good song to start with.

Several weeks ago I was trying to make my life easier by using someone else's choreography.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fabulous Fall Cookies, Sugar-free!

Anytime I have ripe bananas I make these cookies! I alter the ingredients a little every time based on what I'm in the mood for. This batch turned out so delicious I had to share them with you. I have tweaked the basic three ingredient cookie recipe using ripe bananas to make it even better, but no less easy and no less healthy. I keep extras in the freezer so I can have some when I need an afternoon snack or would like a little dessert in the evening. My little boy likes them too. They are great for taking on errands so he doesn't get hangry while I'm doing all that boring stuff.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK SIX

Week One started the day with water to get your day moving right. Keep focused on water, portion size, exercise, and making good food choices (Week FOUR and FIVE). Now we'll add just a little physical effort to also get you going in the right direction.

WEEK SIX: Do 12 squats or push-ups before breakfast.

WHY: Just to get you thinking about it. Waking up those major muscles will remind you about your body all day and you'll take better care of yourself all day.

HOW: For squats, keep your weight in your heels, push your tailbone back, and make sure you keep your knees over your feet. Do not let them extend past your toes. For pushups, get into proper plank position with your hands wider than your shoulders. Pull your belly button toward your spine, tuck your tailbone under and squeeze your glute muscles together. Make certain your hips don't sag. Keep your face pointed in the same direction as your hands. If you need, you can perform push-ups on your knees, against a wall, or on a bench or stair step.

Even better: Do three sets

WEEK SEVEN will post here on November 18!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: Week FIVE

The changes you've already made with weeks 1-4 are some of the most important things you can do! Congratulations! We're going to keep fine-tuning by giving you something we all need and want: an afternoon snack! YUM!

WEEK FIVE: Know what your afternoon snack will be. You need one. Make it ahead. Plan it ahead.

WHY: If you are tired and grumpy at 4pm you will not care about your stupid goals and just eat whatever you can find.

HOW: Make a list of all the things you can have for an afternoon snack. Pick something IN THE MORNING and prepare it so you'll be able to grab it quick when the munchies hit. Here is a great shake that really is yummy and you won't believe what it's made with! You can try it will all kinds of flavors and berries. Or go with a good old-fashioned green smoothie. It's easy to make: layer 1 cup water, a banana, frozen berries, and 2-3 cups of spinach. The spinach on top will prevent the bottom ingredients from splashing all over. Blend it up! Don't make the mistake of trying to snack on 25 calories of carrots. That won't sustain you during a low-energy slump when you tend to get a little grumpy. You've still got a lot of things to do today! Give yourself a good protein rich snack with some day-brightening nutrients. Have a cheese stick and a small smoothie. Or some cottage cheese and fruit. Maybe you only have time for some whole grain chips and salsa.

EVEN BETTER: No sugary treats (candy, cookies, etc) between lunch and dinner. Sugary snacks create a craving for even more of them, especially at this vulnerable time of day when you are tired and need some energy for everything you still need to do.

WEEK SIX will be posted November 11.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: Week FOUR

Only three weeks and you've already made small but significant changes that will help you to a lifetime of healthy habits! Way to go! (See Week Three here). Here's your next goal:

WEEK 4: Eat only whole grains for breakfast (oats, whole grain toast, whole grain pancakes or waffles). You can still have other foods (fruit, eggs, etc.), just make sure whatever grains you have are whole grains, no refined flours.

WHY: Fiber makes you feel fuller. Did you know your body doesn't process fiber? It acts as a cleansing agent for your intestines. It's basically FREE CALORIES! Hallelujah! Refined flours will leave you unsatifsfied and hungry sooner. Refined flours typically have less flavor, come with more sugar, and can cause significant digestive issues.

HOW: Buy whole grain bread and have toast or whole grain cereal. Look at the ingredient list. "Wheat Flour" is NOT Whole Grain. It has to say "WHOLE grain flour." Also click HERE for some of my favorite recipes for breakfast. And also HERE for a scrumptious pumpkin granola that is delicious and very satisfying warmed in the microwave with a little milk. I also love Pumpkin Overnight Oats.

EVEN BETTER: Eat at least 75% whole grains all day

WEEK FIVE will post November 4.

Friday, October 21, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: Week THREE

I hope you were able to find some smaller plates and bowls for your WEEK 2 goal. You probably don't feel deprived at all getting to eat on those cute things! Continue with goals 1-2, and now take this easy step next:

WEEK THREE: Set out your exercise clothes 12 hours in advance.

WHY: 12 hours before exercise you might be thinking, "Why didn't I just do it last time? I really NEED to do this!" You are thinking more clearly and can commit with a lucid mind. When the alarm goes off or you get a last minute change to your schedule, you may be tempted to skip it. So get everything in place beforehand so you can just go on "autopilot."

HOW: Decide what your exercise schedule will be and set reminders on your phone 12 hours ahead. Do you like your exercise clothes? Having something snazzy and fun can help you be more interested in your workout. If you want, ask me about how to make your own "High Five" shirt that we made together in the park in September. See pictures on my Facebook Page.

EVEN BETTER: Find a friend to exercise with. You'll both help each other stick with it.

WEEK FOUR will post October 28.

Friday, October 14, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year! Week TWO

How did you do at Week ONE? Pretty simple, right? I hope you're noticing more energy and alertness in your morning. Keep that habit and we'll add another now:

WEEK TWO: Eat on smaller plates and bowls. At every meal.

WHY: A full plate looks more satisfying. Portion sizes are smaller than we think. Small dishes help you keep things in moderation. You can always refill if you're still hungry.

HOW: You can TOTALLY do this. Easy, easy. Use teacup size plates and small bowls for breakfast foods. I like to eat my cereal or granola in cute ice cream dishes. Lunch plates for dinner. Find some dishes in a fun color or cute style and you'll even think it's a treat!

EVEN BETTER: Take time to check serving sizes on your favorite foods. This week is all about gaining perspective on your food and using perspective to your advantage.

UPDATE: I found a website all about the need for smaller plates. Check it out! www.smallplatemovement.org

WEEK THREE will post October 21.

Friday, October 7, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK ONE

I'm super excited about this. Fitness instructors generally love New Year's anyway because loads of new people start coming to class and it's so full of energy! LOVE IT! But October to December is generally not a good time for healthy habits and exercise. Following these simple EASY steps will help you navigate the holiday season like a champ AND give you a headstart for whatever you want to accomplish for 2017! No need to gain a ton of weight or let your exercise program be forgotten.

WEEK 1: Drink 2 cups (16 ounces) of water first thing in the morning. Drink it before you have breakfast.

WHY: Water fills your stomach and gets things moving for the day. Often dehydration causes food cravings, grumpiness, and headache. Those three things together make it tough to make good food choices.

HOW: Won't this be EASY? In five minutes you can check this goal off for the day! Just set some sort of cue so you remember like setting the glass right next to the sink, or leave a note next to the pantry so you don't forget to drink before having food.

EVEN BETTER: Drink 2 cups before every meal.

WEEK 2 Goal will be posted October 14.

Why I will never post a "before/after" picture of myself

I hate seeing people post before and after pictures of their body.

Why? A picture shows an image.

If you're into exercise for the image then get out of my feed. I'm not going to click "like" or say "you look hot!" just to validate your self-adulation.

If it's about how awesome your body looks then your bragging doesn't help anyone out there who is struggling.

If it's about how great you FEEL about yourself for meeting your goals, you can do that fully clothed. Show me your face and that satisfied smile!

AND there is no "AFTER." Health improvements are a continuous life-style. Show me who you are!