ZUMBA® and the Zumba Fitness logos are trademarks of Zumba Fitness, LLC, used under license. www.zumba.com

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.