Tag Archives: healthy-living

Hi I’m Leslie. I am a recovering speed addict…

It’s true, I can remember a period of my life (over 5 years ago, when I first started personal training at Goodlife) when I felt as though there weren’t enough hours in the day….my to-do list was never getting smaller and I couldn’t keep up with my day to day tasks not to mention having  a social life and being in a relationship PLUS working out, eating and cooking and sleeping, PHEW!  Thanks to a 200hr yoga teacher training program a signed up for couple of years ago, and establishing a regular yoga practice,  I was made very aware of how my lifestyle and my “need for speed” was wearing me out!  I have been working very hard putting everything that I have learned into practice and this book (“Speed” by Stephanie Brown) was another confirmation of my former speed addiction.

Excerpt from “The Power of Less”

“For many people these days, work is a constant stream of emails, of new and requests, of phone calls and instant messages, of papers and notes and files.  The day starts with an inbox full of emails, and ends with an inbox just as full, and each email represents a request for information or for actions that we don’t have time to fulfill.  We are drinking from a fire hose of information, with no idea how to reduce the flow…”

So true right? This is very stressful and wasteful.  If we stop to think about it, it’s not how we want to spend our lives. How do we overcome these problem of overworking ourselves and feeling as thought there aren’t  enough hours in the day?  We must set limits!!  Focus on the important things instead of EVERYTHING!  Life can become  much simpler, it’s all about choices!  We must learn how to identify the essentials and eliminate the rest…much easier said then done…

 

Now the book that inspired me to write today’s blog post is called  “Speed: Facing our Addiction to Fast and Faster-and Overcoming our Fear of Slowing Down” by Stephanie Brown. Since I was never very good at book reports (yep, I still struggle to summarize the important parts of a book and put in my own words)  in school, here is a summary I found on Barnes and Noble…

“Feeling rushed, out of control, and overwhelmed?
Feeling like you can’t keep up… and can’t stop?
It’s not just you.

From the need to be constantly connected and the changing definition of “work hours,” to unrealistic expectations of instant gratification, our bodies and brains are being harmed by habits that, as with any kind of addiction, promise short-term satisfaction while doing long-term damage.

As a psychologist and addiction expert who practices in Silicon Valley, Stephanie Brown sees firsthand the impact of ever-faster technology and the culture it has spawned. She knows it’s affecting us mentally, physically, and spiritually. In this ground breaking book, she explores how our beliefs and behaviors are being shaped by the seemingly limitless new world we’ve entered in recent years—and why faster doesn’t always equal better. Dr. Brown offers a step-by-step plan for breaking out of the speed trap. With practical guidelines, she shows us how to ease up on the gas pedal and reconnect with ourselves, learning to accept—and value—our limitations as human beings, reduce our stress levels, and free ourselves from our counterproductive obsession with speed.”

Sounds pretty interesting right?? I don’t want to give away too much of the book (you should read it yourself if you want to learn more) but one part that I found really interesting was the questionnaire she included in the beginning of the book.  Take a moment and answer the questions below.  How many do you say YES to??

Twenty Questions: Are you Hooked on Fast?

Your behavior:

1. Do you want to slow down but you cannot? Have you lost control?

2. Do you keep adding activities without taking any away?

3. Do you work longer and longer hours, but don’t ever finish?

4. Do you treat other problems: sleep, anxiety, depression?

5. Do you act first and think later?

6. Do you check your email and reach for your phone first thing and last?

Your feelings:

7. Do you feel internal pressure to live fast and act fast, which becomes a craving to “connect” more rapidly?

8. Do you feel empty if you are not in constant action?

9. Do you feel nervous without your tech gear in hand or pocket?

10. Do you feel the beep of your phone as a comfort that gives you a shot of adrenaline?

11. Do you feel you belong when you are rushing, stressed and in action?

Your beliefs:

12. Do you believe you have no limits and you are entitled to live without limits?

13. Do you believe you should think, feel, react, and behave instantly?

14. Do you believe you will fall behind if you slow down?

15. Do you believe success equals fast and faster, and slowing down is falling?

16. Do you believe you should only feel good, only feel high; other feelings are a sign of failure?

17. Do you believe stress is the price of success and chaos is normal?

18. Do you believe that the “new intimacy” is through technology; less time for off-line relationships is the price of success?

19. Do you believe instant action is a virtue and you can overcome anything with enough willpower?

20. Do you believe all change must be big to count?

Are you addicted to speed like I was? (there are a few on here I still struggle with, but I am working on it now that I have been made aware of them!)

What she also included were tips to help you slow down…read below….

The Twenty Guidelines for Slowing Down: How to Unhook from Speed

Your behavior:

1. You ask for help; you seek a mentor who believes in slowing down for guidance and support

2. You develop a recovery action plan.

3. You begin to make small steps toward change.

4. You learn to pause, to reflect on your behavior, feelings and thinking.

5. You ask yourself, “What am I doing?”

Your feelings:

6. You feel the reality of limits and face the feeling of failure.

7. You become aware of feelings, and learn to face them.

8. You trust that the high of impulsive action is NOT the feeling you seek.

9. You develop a wider range of new feelings.

10. You come to trust that deep, intimate human ‘connection’ exists in a slowed down, quiet state.

Your thinking:

11. You believe in the reality of limits.

12. You learn to recognize and challenge your belief in entitlement.

13. You challenge your belief in willpower.

14. You believe in the value of small steps and a slower sense of time.

15. You believe in a new definition of success; you best effort within a structure of limits.

16. You believe in the value of delay, endurance, and the concept of “enough.”

17. You believe that growth and change are not instant; that ‘quick fixes’ reinforce the thinking of fast and impulsive action.

18. You believe in the value and necessity of reflection as a part of health and success.

19. You challenge your all-or-none thinking.

20. You give new meaning to ‘service.’

It is a process…it takes time and practice.  But the best way to improve your relationship with yourself and others, your health and anything else that is being affected by your fast -paced, non-stop, go-go-go, so many commitments, not enough time, crazy lifestyle is to stop for a moment, turn off your computer, turn off your phone(s) and sit in peace to think really hard about what you really want to accomplish in your life.  Instead of bragging about how busy or stressed out you are, focus on the ESSENTIALS and allow everything else to drop away.  It’ll make you much happier, less stressed, and surprisingly, more productive!

Ever since I started doing more self reflection I know what my limits are.  I have taken the steps (it is a work in progress) to simplify my life I have been able to reach new goals and habits and love sharing my experiences and tips with others.  Focus all your energy and time on one thing at a time (start small and build on one small ‘thing’ at a time) instead of trying to accomplish everything at once.  Practice yoga, meditation or deep breathing….it works!

For more information on how to simplify your life be sure to pick up Leo Babauta’s book “The Power of Less”, you’ll be glad you did…I am almost done reading it and I just picked it up from the library (my new favourite hangout!) an hour ago!

Les 🙂

 

 

 

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How to Build Mental Toughness

Everyone knows how important it is for us to “stay in the game” when it comes to mental strength.  It’s a common theory that you either have it, or you don’t; either you were born with it, or you weren’t.  For some, it certainly may feel that way.  Then there are those who crumble when things get tough.  Why is it that some people are able to get through challenging moments while others break down at the first sign of difficulty? Developing mental toughness is as important as developing physical strength.  First of all, let’s look at the definition of mental toughness.

Wikipedia describes ‘mental toughness’ as: “A term commonly used by coaches, sport commentators, and business leaders-generally describes a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence.”

Sounds like a trait that is pretty desirable, don’t you agree?  So, let me share with you some ways to develop your mental strength…

Manage your self talk

“You can change who you are by changing what you say when you talk to your mind.”

The mindset of a ‘winner’ is produced by positive self talk. Self talk is your mental evaluation of your behaviour and performance. In other words it is the conversation that goes on in your head. Your self-talk is built by your thoughts. Unfortunately for many, most of these conversations are repetitive, full of negative thoughts – focused on the things you should have done, the things that went wrong, telling yourself that you aren’t good enough. Each conversation that you have with yourself supports in your mind who you are and what you are capable of. It will build or pull down your self-esteem and self-worth.

The higher your sense of self-worth and self-esteem the more competent you will be dealing with the challenges and difficulties life will throw at you. When your self talk focuses on self-doubt and is always critical of you, then you are unable to see the best and bring out the best in yourself.

Have you ever made a mistake then played it over and over in your mind? “How could I have been so stupid, why didn’t I keep quiet, why didn’t I say, Why didn’t I do it like that instead, why do I keep messing things up …” The problem is compounded by the fact that we often repeat these conversations over and over again, reliving the mistake, keeping it at the forefront of our mind. We stay focused on all the negatives from our experiences and this then builds a negative belief about how we handle this type of situation.

During your workouts, positive self talk can help you to succeed by motivating you to do your best, lift heavier or finish one more rep. Self talk is the thoughts and beliefs that you have about yourself and your ability. It can help boost your mood or drag you down.

One thing that works for me is repeating to myself over and over again “I CAN DO THIS! LET’S GO LESLIE!”…As I think these things and have these thoughts, I immediately start to feel more confident and strong. I talk to myself calmly and positively about what I need to do to complete my workout. I prepare my mind to achieve feelings of success, determination and ready to take on any challenge.

Next time you want to give up on your set or slack off during your cardio session early, try pumping yourself up with some positive affirmations that you can repeat in your head…here are a few that you can use…

  • I have trained hard.
  • I am strong.
  • I am doing my best.
  • I am getting better everyday.
  • I can lift this weight.
  • I have enough strength for this.
  • I can push through the pain.
  • I can do this!

Visualize where you want to be

When I meet with clients for the first time, a question I always ask people during our consultation “What are your goals?  How badly do you want to reach your goals? Do you believe you can get there???” More often than not, people go into great detail about what their goals are, how much weight, inches or body fat they would ‘like to lose’ and then when it comes to actually BELIEVING they can get there, well that is where most people become unsure and make excuses as to why they haven’t been successful in the past when they have tried to achieve their goals.  As with a meal plan, exercise routine or even a relationship, you need to align your thoughts and goals with your actions.  Once you have a clear vision of what it is you want, develop a well prepared plan and if you need help with this, seek out a personal trainer or friend who will hold you accountable.  The success rate is always higher with preparation than winging it or trying it out and seeing what happens.  Know what you want and really go for it!  Professional athletes didn’t reach their success through improvising.  Their hard training is what gives them the results they’re searching for.

Eat well and sleep well

Sounds easy enough right? I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good sleeping patterns and maintaining and healthy diet.  When your body is weak, your mind has a harder time concentrating (and saying no to unhealthy food!)  When you are sleep deprived, you lose your focus and concentration.  It’s harder for you to stick to your goals when you’re distracted and irritable.  Overeating can create sluggishness along with feelings of guilt once you’ve recognized that you’ve indulged.  Not eating enough can result in fatigue, irritability and poor energy levels.  How can you concentrate on building mental strength when you can’t stay awake or get out of bed in the morning?  The right change to your diet can immediately increase mood and energy levels.  A healthy lifestyle (not a quick fix diet) is a great start to achieving any goal.  Another key point to remember is when you operate ‘outside of your comfort zone’ you will learn to become adaptive and resilient (this is one of the best lessons I have ever learned in my life!)  Falling into a boring routine or rut has an effect on our motivation.  So spice it up! Try a new class, get a personal trainer, change up your workout routine, or try some new recipes.  At times we almost need to feel uncomfortable so we recognize our weak points and discover areas in our life we can improve on…in most cases it is usually the exercises you hate the most that will benefit you the most!

Whatever challenges and obstacles that come your way should be taken as an opportunity to learn more about yourself!

The main thing to remember here is we all talk to ourselves, either out loud or mentally. When your self-talk is positive and helpful it will empower you. When it’s unkind, critical, full of anxiety, it makes you feel bad, destroys your confidence and lowers self esteem.From now on pay attention to it. Each time you recognise that you are self-criticizing or self-defeating,STOP, remind yourself that it’s just that old habit you’ve got into, and that from now on you’re changing this habit, but it takes practice!

Top athletes and leaders think positively, using self-talk to build on their self-belief and confidence. They focus on improvement not on worrying about poor performance or negative consequences of failure. They build on earlier successes and don’t dwell on failure or poor performance which helps them build a positive self-image, confidence, and personal belief in themselves.

So, instead of wasting energy telling yourself “I’ll never get there”, or “it’s too much work” or “I’m too busy” or “I don’t deserve it”, try spending your energy focusing on how far you’ve come, what you want and who you want to be, use your mental toughness skills and you can do anything you put your mind to! 

Les 🙂

 

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My Top 5 Favourite Food Myths You Need to Stop Believing!

There are so many mixed messages in the media related to diet and exercise, what works, what doesn’t work, try this for best results, or eat this, not this, etc.  It can get confusing even for someone who is a professional (like myself) in the field!  I don’t want to overwhelm you with TOO much information today so I thought I would stick with 5 of my most favourite (and most common) food myths….

1. Low-fat foods are good for you. ARGH, this is the one I hear about the most but disagree with the most!  About 20 years ago, low-fat foods took over the grocery stores.  Low fat equalled weight loss.  But no one looked at the fact that weight didn’t rely on fat alone.  Excess calories and sugar could still be present in excess when fat was reduced to make up for the taste.  In desserts that are low fat, there is usually is an increase in sugar, which equals more calories.  The type of fat matters as well.  Healthy fats such as olive, coconut and grape seed oil are mono and unsaturated, which are the healthiest. Low-fat foods often contain saturated or hydrogenated fats found in fried foods, baked goods, cookies, icings, crackers, packaged snack foods, microwave popcorn, and some stick margarines. This makes the food taste better and prolongs shelf life, but making it a part of your diet plan can increase your risk of heart disease and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol.  Read the label and don’t fall for all foods that are “low fat.” Choose instead to ensure you have healthy fats (nuts, avocado, fish oil, coconut/olive oil, nut butters etc) in your diet (at least 20% of your daily intake). Here’s a blog I wrote on the importance of fat in your diet…

2. Granola is healthy. Granola is made from whole rolled oats, which alone is healthy for you.  If you stopped there you’d be fine!  The problem is that those natural oats are now covered in sugar with added nuts, dried fruits and excess oil which increases the calories, fat and sugar.  Maybe a handful for a quick snack is fine, but not as a daily breakfast.  Your best bet is to have 100 per cent oatmeal cooked in water, adding 1/2 cup of blueberries with almond milk or little cinnamon and even pure maple syrup (1 tbsp.) for taste.  This has way less calories, fat and sugar than traditional granola. Or ask some of my clients what their favourite breakfast is…PROTEIN PANCAKES!!

3. Eggs are bad for you. There’s one thing that nutrition professionals have had remarkable success with…and that is making super healthy foods seem incredibly unhealthy.

The worst example of that is eggs, which happen to contain a large amount of cholesterol and were therefore believed to increase the risk of heart disease.

The Worst Lies That Mainstream Nutrition Has Told You But recently it has been proven that the cholesterol in your diet doesn’t really raise the cholesterol in blood. In fact, eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol and are NOT associated with increased risk of heart disease.

What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They’re high in all sorts of nutrients along with unique antioxidants that protect our eyes.

To top it all of, despite being a “high fat” food, eggs are proven to cause significant weight loss, compared to bagels (or my least favourite, CEREAL), as a breakfast food.

Bottom Line: Eggs do not cause heart disease and are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Eggs for breakfast can help you lose weight. Egg whites are even better 🙂

4. Whole grains should be a necessity in everyone’s diet.

The idea that humans should be basing their diets on grains has never made sense.

The agricultural revolution happened fairly recently in human evolutionary history and our genes haven’t changed that much. Grains are fairly low in nutrients compared to other real foods, like vegetables. They are also rich in a substance called phytic acid which binds essential minerals in the intestine and prevents them from being absorbed.

The most common grain in the western diet, by far, is wheat… and wheat can cause a host of health problems, both minor and serious.

Modern wheat contains a large amount of a protein called gluten, but there is evidence that a significant portion of the population may be sensitive to it.

Eating gluten can damage the intestinal lining, cause pain, bloating, stool inconsistency and tiredness. Gluten consumption has also been associated with schizophrenia and cerebellar ataxia, both serious disorders of the brain (I didn’t know this!).

Bottom Line: Grains are relatively low in nutrients compared to other real foods like vegetables. The gluten grains in particular may lead to a variety of health problems. They are also full of sugar which when eaten will spike your insulin levels and causes cravings.  Ever wonder why you want more bread after eating bread? It’s because you digest it so quickly it leaves you hungry and craving more! STOP EATING BREADS AND CEREALS!

5. Eating a lot of protein is bad for your kidneys and bones. This is my most favourite myth! High protein diets are far from bad for you, eating lots of protein is the best (and in my opinion the only way) to lose weight!

A high protein diet has been claimed to cause both osteoporosis and kidney disease. It is true that eating protein increases calcium excretion from the bones in the short term, but the long term studies actually show the opposite effect. In the long term, protein has a strong association with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture. Additionally, studies don’t show any association of high protein with kidney disease in otherwise healthy people.

In fact, two of the main risk factors for kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure. Eating a high protein diet improves both.

If anything, a high protein diet should be protective against osteoporosis and kidney failure!

Bottom Line: Eating a high protein diet is associated with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture. High protein also lowers blood pressure and improves diabetes symptoms, which should lower the risk of kidney failure. And what’s best about eating lots of protein is that it helps to increase your metabolism as it takes so much energy for your body to break it down.  It also prevents you from overeating as eating protein helps keep you feeling fuller longer. Are you hungry all the time?? It’s most likely because you’re not eating enough protein (or fat).

So there you have it…5 of my favourite food myths! There are A LOT more but I will save them for a post in the future….

What are some other food and nutrition myths you have seen/heard or are unsure about?

Les 🙂

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Be SMART! Don’t wait until the New Year to start…

Hello and hope you have all survived the craziness of the holidays-travelling, socializing, drinking and eating, staying up late, etc etc…I most certainly have enjoyed the break but am ready to get back to work!!

Now that Christmas has come and gone I hope you have had time to start thinking about your goals in the upcoming months…

Remember the best goals are S.M.A.R.T. goals…check out my friend Lydia’s blog post called “How to set SMART goals”  I have included below…

new years resolution

For example, let’s say you want to lose weight (a very common goal after all the holiday eating). Instead of making the resolution “lose weight”, let’s make a SMART goal:

S – Lose 10 pounds

M – You can measure this by weighing yourself on a regular basis (once a week is fine)

A – This is where it gets personal and specific to you. If losing 10 pounds is attainable, perfect, if not, adjust to what you can do.

R – This one goes hand-in-hand with attainable. I believe in stretch goals (aka going beyond what you think is possible) but you do want to aim for something that’s realistic.

T – Setting a deadline is one of the most important aspects of a SMART goal. Without a deadline, how will you know if/when you have achieved your goal? For our example, let’s say 6 weeks (for a safe 1-2 weight loss per week).

To sum up, our goal is to lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks. At the end of 6 weeks, we’ll know if we’ve met our goal.

SMART goals set the foundation for action

Having the goal is the start, then you need an action plan. Here’s where I think many resolutions break down. Even if you create a specific, measurable goal, without a plan, how will you get there?

In keeping with our goal to lose 10 pounds, here are some ways we can plan for success:

– Start eating clean. Cut out white sugar, white flour and processed food.
– Drink 2L of water a day. (Notice how this is specific and measurable)
– Go to the gym 3-4 times per week. Book in your calendar!
– Limit alcohol to 2 nights a week (there’s a lot of sugar in alcohol)

Those are just some very specific ways that will help contribute to the goal of weight loss. Whatever your goals are, you need to outline the steps you’ll take to get there.

To help you get started with setting your goals for 2013, I’ve created a free, downloadable goal-setting template for you.

 

SOO what are your goals for 2013?? How do you plan on achieving them??

Les 🙂

 

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“Get Fit with Les” Tips for Staying Fit While on Vacation…

For many of us lucky Canadians (and Americans in the northern states), winter can mean vacation to a warmer climate. Whether it’s flying to an island, visiting snow bird parents (that’s me!), or taking a long weekend road trip with friends, the change in schedule can throw off anyone’s workout routine. Combine that with the warmer weather, easily accessible restaurants/junk food, and everyone excusing you by saying “Hey, you’re on vacation!” and you could be looking at gaining 5-10 pounds by the end of your trip. No matter where you’re headed or what your plans are on your vacation, use these 7 tips (that I  follow) to stay fit, and healthy, and (more importantly) feel great when you get back…

1. Pack your own snacks: Non perishable food items like nuts, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal (just add hot water), protein powder+shaker cup (again add water), cut up veggies, homemade protein bars, fruit, and rice cakes are perfect for travelling.

2. Pack your workout clothes/shoes: Nuff said! Oh and use them!

3. Walk everywhere: The weather will most likely be warm and you’ll probably be visiting a part of the country/world you’ve never seen so why not take in the culture by walking or go for a hike!  It’s a much better way to sight-see than sitting on an overpriced tour bus…

4. Most hotels/resorts have a fitness center: USE IT!

5. Wake up early: Groan, moan, but seriously! Typically at the end of your day you’re not in the mood to exercise (whether you’re on vacation or not). Rise & shine 30 minutes before you normally would and get it over with. It may seem like a chore, but studies have proven that working out gives you more energy and makes you much more conscientious about your food choices throughout the day – why not start the day out right? Morning workouts are the best!

6. Drink water: Especially when flying, Flying dehydrates you because of lack of humidity in the cabin air, so stay away from drinking anything caffeinated or alcoholic when you travel. It will dehydrate you and put you off your plan for the rest of your vacation. Try to drink a glass of water every hour on the plane. If you’re sick of water, ask for lemon or pack travel size Crystal Light packs to add to your water. Your body will thank you for it.

7. Relax! This one I will struggle with for sure.  You can’t be hard on yourself if you miss a workout or don’t eat exactly the way you would at home but as long as you’re making an effort to get workouts in when you can and are making healthy food choices 80% of the time, you should come out of your trip in the same shape you left!  You can be good to your body and still enjoy yourself-everything in moderation of course!

I hope that you take my advice the next time you go on a trip!  What are some things you do to make sure you don’t gain weight/lose your momentum on vacation? What challenges do you face?

Les 🙂

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How to stop falling off the wagon!!!

if you're tired of starting over

Are you one of those people who starts a diet or makes a decision to eat healthier and then less than a week later you’re back to eating unhealthyfoods and finish off an entire carton of ice cream?? Well in today’s post you will not only learn why you do this…but WHAT to do about it and hopefully how to prevent it from happening again!

But first, I want to share an interesting article I found on the internet that sounds very similar to the way I dealt with food in the past (and not gonna lie I am human and have weak moments from time to time even now!!)  This is also very similar to what I’ve noticed over the last several years working with  many different people as a personal trainer and observing how people lose weight…it’s long but worth the read…you will most likely be able to relate…

“It’s that when most people start a diet (which by the way I don’t encourage), they seem to have NO IDEA what will keep their enthusiasm going and keep them from cheating… and eventually failing.

And when they fail on these diets, they feel “out of control” of their lives…like a weak person that has no willpower…or a loser that’s failed — AGAIN!

Have you ever started a diet and really believed that THIS time it is gonna be different because you have found that drive and determination to change yourself… NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES?

Have you told yourself, “I don’t care how hard it’s going to be. I’m ONLY going to eat what my diet says is okay to eat.”

Ok let’s get real here!! Here is an example of what happens to most people (including myself)…

So here you are, on a diet and it’s the weekend and you have plans to go to a party!

You  have been so good all day long and only eaten exactly what the meal plan told you to eat today. You’re feeling really good about yourself and know that you’re going to have a great time at the party tonight.

You show up at the party feeling great and looking good.  You make your way over to the appetizers and there they are…Fresh baked, hot chocolate chip cookies! NO! Not COOKIES!  I LOVE COOKIES!  But there they are… teasing you with their sweet, sugary aroma and hot steam dancing around the slowly-melting chocolate chips (HAHA!)  Your senses take all this in and your mind quickly zooms in on the chocolate chip cookies. Suddenly, you can think of nothing else.  It was as if everyone in the party  has disappeared and there is a spotlight pointed at the tray of cookies (seriously this has happened to me before!)  You tell yourself, “I’ve been so good all day long. One cookie isn’t going to hurt any.” So you grab one and stuff it into your mouth. OMG!! Pure decadence. Mouth-watering ecstasy.  No worries in the world… just you and your cookie… wait! It’s gone! That was over way too quickly… you must eat more. And so you grab a second, and then a third, and then a fourth… and before you know it, you’ve had 6 fattening, sugar-filled chocolate chip cookies. Was that on your diet meal plan for the day?  I guess probably not.  All at once it hits you…What Have I Done?!  You ate 6 chocolate chip cookies in less than 5 minutes. How could I let that happen? I was doing so good.

Well, now that this night is shot… you might-as-well enjoy it while you can and have some fun.  So you go over to the chips and guacamole and start piling it on.  You tell yourself, “I’ll start back on my diet again tomorrow.”

And so the cycle repeats…

Isn’t that a funny phrase, “start back on”?  How can you “start back on” anything?  Can’t you only start something ONCE?  How many times have you “started back on your diet”? If you’re like me then you don’t even remember.  I would start a diet and really believe with all my heart that I would stick with it… that NOTHING was going to break my willpower.  I would tell myself, “This time it feels different.” “It feels special.”So why did I always end up back at the same place with a cookie in one hand and a fried tortilla chip in the other? I was doing everything I could to convince myself that I needed to change my body. I took a ‘fat picture’ of myself and pinned it to my bathroom mirror, I made a list of all the things about my body that I hated and wanted to change, I even laid out my high school jeans so I could look at them every day for motivation. But still I was cheating. Still I couldn’t keep from eating those super-fatted and sugar-filled foods. You would think that the disgust that I felt every time I caught a glimpse of my thighs in a mirror would be inspiration enough to PUT DOWN THAT COOKIE AND GRAB A CELERY STICK…

but it wasn’t.

Every time I started a diet to change the body that I hated, I failed. Finally, it hit me…THE BIG AH-HA THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR ME!.  Maybe the reason that I kept failing at my diets wasn’t because I didn’t have ENOUGH hatred for my body… Maybe that hatred was actually the reason why I was failing. I started to think about this a little deeper. I had been torturing my body and trying to force it to change… but it wasn’t responding.  In fact, it was rebelling and I was getting fatter. The more I thought about this, the more it seemed to make sense. Of course!

Why SHOULD my body change? What motivation am I giving it? Hatred. And what responds positively to hatred? Nothing. Think about what would happen if a friend wanted YOU to change. If she comes to you insulting you… and telling you everything that she hates about you… and all the reasons why you should change… and then DEMANDING that you change…You’re probably not going to react really well to this line of talk… and you are probably NOT going to change. No, you’d just get defensive and grind your heels in deeper. But if she comes to you with caring… and humility… and from a place where she is wanting to help you because she loves you… and then she convinces you there are wonderful reasons to make the change…You might feel inspired.You WANT to change.

I started to treat my own body like a friend that I wanted to inspire. Every day I would tell my body all the beautiful things that I loved about it. And when my body (or mind) made a mistake, I immediately gave forgiveness because I didn’t want my body to become discouraged. This shift in my thinking about my body changed my relationship with my body. It was no longer an enemy that I was fighting against… My body became my strongest ally. And we were fighting together for the same common goal — to be the healthiest person possible. It was suddenly much easier to stop eating junk food or to stop after one. It actually brought me JOY. And that was just the beginning…The more time I spent exploring my body, the deeper into my SELF I travelled. And you know what I found? Hiding underneath all these bones and organs, quietly and patiently waiting to be discovered…Was my spirit. And once I was introduced to my spirit, my fascination with my body faded quickly. And I made some really big discoveries…I am more than my body. This body is where my spirit lives. Every time I eat junk food or crap, I am polluting the house of my spirit. More than that, I WANT to give my spirit a beautiful place to live… and only pure, clean natural foods can build that. And so I started eliminated unhealthy foods from my diet, one-by-one and replacing them with healthy foods. And the healthier I ate, the brighter my spirit shined. I love that feeling. I CRAVE that feeling. I appreciate how great it feels when your spirit shines brightly because I spent the first decades of my life without that feeling. And now, I’ll do anything for it… I’ll even give up chocolate chip cookies. I even enjoy working out.

If this sounds crazy to you, I understand. I never thought I would find a better feeling than eating a plate full of chocolate chip cookies… but I have. When I feed my spirit the pure, clean, natural foods that it needs…My spirit rewards me in so many ways. I have more energy than I know what to do with, I laugh like I did when I was a schoolgirl, and I find happiness EVERYWHERE – even in the most common things. You may be thinking, “You get all this from food?” Believe it or not, Yes. When I finally found a deeper motivation to eat healthy foods, I stopped eating crap. All that crap I used to eat was dead. Dead of life, dead of nutrition, and dead of any good energy. Once I started to eat healthy foods, it was like someone came and breathed life into me. It feels so good to eat healthy! And it begins to actually taste BETTER to you than that junk food does. When your food is dead – YOU ARE DEAD.

I feel like I am alive for the first time in years. I got so many good feelings from eating healthy that I got hooked and didn’t want to eat anything else.

And you know what happened? My body started to change. My eyes got brighter, my skin got clearer, and all that extra fat around my thighs, butt and stomach disappeared. AND I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE! When I started talking to other women who have healthy eating habits, turns out they all have some higher motivation for rejecting crap and embracing healthy, natural foods. Some are healing from an illness…Some are following spiritual beliefs…Some have ethical reasons… Regardless of WHAT the motivation is… it always comes from some higher place other than “I want to look hot in a swimsuit.” The physical desire to change won’t carry you through those really difficult times when you want to cheat because that’s a physical desire as well. The physical pleasure you get from pigging out won’t always win over your physical desire to be “hot”… But your spiritual one will. When your motivation comes from the deepest place within you, it is driven from a much more powerful force. It is NOT driven by fear or hatred – it is driven by love. And that’s what kept me from cheating and failing at my diet. Today, if I do decide to cheat (which I sometimes do) I know that I won’t feel good after I eat it, and it won’t give me the same rush of health that I’ve become hooked on… But I do it anyway and I allow myself the enjoyment while I’m eating it because I know that that’s ALL the enjoyment I’m going to get. I deal with the after effects – the bloating, the indigestion, the sluggishness and lack of energy… And then I get right back to my healthy diet because that is what I prefer. Now, I CHOOSE foods that give me sustained enjoyment that nourish my body, mind and spirit. Look, I’m not some spiritual sage levitating four inches off the ground in lotus position… I’m not some great and powerful person or some holy saint with superhuman powers… I’m just a regular woman from a small town in Texas that turned my attention to what really makes me happy… and I found out that it wasn’t in chocolate chip cookies after all.

I know any woman can turn her attention inward…and discover what REALLY makes her happy…so that she can start to make better choices. And when you PREFER to make better choices, you will STOP failing at your diet. In fact, you won’t have to ever diet again. I know that this is not something that happens right away, and that maybe you might need some more guidance to find your way to where I am. 

PHEW! I am back!  Now  I am going to share with you 5 simple steps you can follow to stop failing at your ‘diet’ and prevent you from constantly starting over again:

1. Don’t be on a diet!!  Instead make wise-food choices.  Eating healthy food allows your body to get the nutrition it needs and it promotes a healthy physique as well.  There are foods that can naturally promote weight loss and a lot of these clean and healthy foods.  This includes a wide variety of vegetables and fruit (most veggies), as well as lean sources of protein, complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice, etc) and a fair amount of healthy fats as well.  Stop failing at your ‘diet’ by wisely choosing the right foods!
2. Do not skip meals! Skipping meals will not do you any good. Do not believe in the common misconception that starving yourself makes you thinner and healthier. This is false! In fact, skipping meals can sabotage your weight loss attempt! Skipping meals causes your metabolism to slow down and as a result, the fat deposits are not thoroughly and easily burned. Skipping meals also makes your body eager to store more fat than the usual because fat stores are necessary to sustain you during the times that you are hungry and skipping your meals. Tip: You should be eating 6 times a day!
3. Proper timing of meals.  Many underestimate the effect or proper timing in food intake. What most do not know is that proper timing can increase or decrease the effectiveness of your weight loss routine. For one, eating on time makes your metabolism regular and on its peak. Correct timing also decreases untimely cravings at night. Tip: Eat small meals (with protein at every meal) every 2-3 hours!
4. Go natural-Eat whole foods! Nature has its way of making our body fit. As much as possible, always go for fresh, organic foods and avoid those which are commercialized and artificial. Commercialized and artificial products are high in bad fats (good fats can be found in natural food sources like avocado, oils, nuts) which are more resistant to fat burning. Moreover, these junk foods often contain a lot of salt and other preservatives which promotes water retention. Excess water makes you feel bloated and heavy.
5. Make your best worst choice– Sure, you might for various reasons make nutritionally or calorically (is that a word?) frightening choices, but so long as you asked yourself these two important questions, “Is it worth it”, and, “How much do I need to be happily satisfied”, there can’t be a wrong choice.  Sometimes your best may be a basket of chicken wings but perhaps a smaller basket than normal and one less beer, or a fancy coffee with whip just ordered less frequently, or a bowl of ice-cream instead of a pint, or a small bag of chips rather than the giant bag, or a full-sized chocolate bar rather than an entire Blizzard. What I’m getting at is that sometimes we make choices that are less than ideal, but that so long as you’ve made your best worst choice, you’re still doing great!

 

Hopefully this has been helpful and you will do your best to stick to your plan of eating healthy!  I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on this topic, I know so many of us struggle with this!!

 

Les 🙂

 

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More slimming pancake recipes :)

Part 2 of Protein Pancake recipes for fitness enthusiasts…Check these simple and tasty recipes.  Now you have enough to try a different pancake every morning!!

4. Simple Pre-Contest Protein Pancakes (ready in 10 minutes, makes 4 pancakes)

1 tbsp psyllium husk

1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

1 whole egg

1/4-1/3 cup water

Blend. Heat pan over medium heat. Pour batter. Flip when bubbles appear.

Nutrition facts per pancake: Cals 90, Fats, 2.5 g, Sodium 55 mg, Carbs 3 g, Fiber 2 g, Sugars 0 g, Protein 15 g

5. Dark Chocolate Protein Pancakes (ready in 10 minutes, makes 2 pancakes)

4 egg whites

1/2 cup rolled quick oats

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

2 tbsp pumpkin puree or sweet potato baby food

1-2 packets Stevia (optional)

Directions: Let batter sit for 5 minutes to allow chia seeds to soak up some of liquid.  Blend, heat pan, pour, flip 🙂

Nutritional info: Cals 230 g, Fats 6 g, Sodium 160 mg, Carbs 22 g, Fiber 6 g, Sugars 2 g, Protein 23 g

6. Pumpkin Pie Protein Pancakes (ready in 10 minutes, makes 2 pancakes)

2 tbsp canned pure pumpkin

1/4 cup rolled quick oats

2 tbsp wheat bran

1 egg

2 tbsp low fat cottage cheese

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

1/2 tsp maple extract

1/4 tsp all spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp baking powder

Blend. Heat pan. Pour batter. Flip pancakes. ENJOY!

Nutritional info: Cals 90, Fats 2.5 g, Sodium 30 mg, Carbs 8 g, Fiber 2 g, Sugars 1 g, Protein 9 g

Happy cooking and let me know which one is your favourite!! Maybe you’ve created your own?? Please share your recipes and comments below!

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As promised here is a link to some excellent lower body stretches for ya Ashley!! Pictures included!  It is best to stretch everyday (after you’ve warmed up of course) but you can increase your flexibility by following a stretching program at least 3 times a week for 20 minutes or more!

Les 🙂

 

 

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Do you Practice Mindful Fitness?

We should learn to   live in the present moment....

I recently received the latest issue of CANFITPRO (Canadian Fitness Professionals: the organization I am certified through) and came across a very interesting article called “Mindful Fitness”.  Here is a section from the article I had to share…

“Many of us are constantly looking for an alternative to the non-stop, stressed out, fast food lives we are living which are driving us to exhaustion, and are responsible for the booming rates of conditions such as obesity, drug addiction and cancer.  As fitness professionals we are responsible for illuminating another path that can help save us as individuals and the planet as a whole.  It involves the simple concept of mindfulness. We cannot ignore this movement towards mindfulness and in fact we need to embrace it for our own benefit and the benefit of every life we touch..

Mindfulness is the act of being conscious of our own thoughts, movements, and speech in the present moment and without judgement.  Mindfulness is letting life unfold as we watch, noticing the thoughts and feelings that arise in our minds without necessarily acting on them.  It brings peace to our hectic lives.  It sounds simple but if you’ve ever tried being consciously aware for any length of time you’ll know that it’s something that takes practice.  Imagine what life would be like if we made only conscious decisions and didn’t pay so much attention to the unconscious thoughts and feelings that are constantly driving us to ease and comfort.  We would be living a life on purpose.  The beauty of mindfulness is that it gives us a conscious control over our decisions and allows us to live a life of our own choosing…”

So true right?? Before I started practicing/studing yoga I would’ve read this article and laughed, actually I never would’ve made it past the first paragraph as I was guilty of living life in the fast lane; constantly thinking and worrying about tomorrow, what I was going to do next, what meal I was going to eat, who I was going to train etc.  Now I am the complete opposite!  I really do my best now to live in the present, and I am much more aware of what I am doing, feeling, thinking at the present moment.  Let me tell you, my stress levels have decreased dramatically!  I am also a much better listener as I actually listen and give other people my full attention instead of having 100 thoughts and scenarios going through my mind!

This also relates to success with my workouts.

Here is a list of 4 things you can do to practice “Mindful Fitness” :

1. Make a Plan Including Goals (and Barriers) to Your Success
One of the first things I share with my clients over and over again is the famous quote:
“those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
Hence, in order to have success in your fitness, you must clearly define your goals and figure out why you are motivated to reach those goals. Are you motivated to lose weight? If yes, ask yourself why. Are you motivated to run a 10k? Why do you want to do this?  Be sure that your reasons are YOUR OWN and that you have not become swept up in another person’s dream or vision.  Once you have defined your goals, write down what may get in the way of your progress (barriers). It could be time, lack of equipment, work commitments, childcare or other obligations.  Just know that the same things that have been getting in the way of your success will continue to hinder you unless you avoid those roadblocks with workable solutions. Once your plan is underway and you have begun putting in the work to improve your fitness, there are additional things you can do to practice “Mindful Fitness”.
2. Pay Attention to Your Body by Learning to Differentiate Pain from Discomfort.
Remember, you are not always going to be comfortable while you are exercising (ask my clients, if it burns it means it’s working!). It is tough work and you must get comfortable being uncomfortable. Pay attention to your body by learning to differentiate between pain and discomfort. It is often quite uncomfortable running up a hill. You might be breathing heavy and if you are not used to that you may not like it. However, your foot should not hurt simultaneously. Be aware of pains and twinges that may lead to an injury down the road. If a specific mode of exercise hurts you, then you may need to find another one that suits your body better. Listen to your body and be conscious of what it can do.


3. Keep a Fitness Journal
Practicing “Mindful Fitness” is also about noting your progress so that you have a clear vision of your past when your perception may become skewed. For example, how would your body be affected if you began walking one mile per day? Well, one mile will burn about 85 calories. Therefore you would burn an additional 595 calories per week or 30,940 calories per year if you regularly practice this. That equates to a loss of 9 pounds per year, not to mention all of the other health benefits that you cannot physically see. Sometimes change seems so slight that you feel you are not making progress. If you keep a fitness journal, you will appreciate being able to look back and see how far you have come. Understand that making small incremental changes will eventually lead to big results.


4. Give Yourself Permission to Reevaluate Goals When Natural Backslides Occur
Finally, accept that there will be times when you are going to backslide and miss your workouts. Even the pros go through this. When it happens, revisit your goal sheet and reevaluate your motivations. Give yourself permission to amend your goals or your motivations and become determined to continue moving forward one small step at a time.

“Mindful Fitness” is about creating a realistic plan, listening to your body and being aware of how it feels. Find your balance, choose activities that agree with your body and be willing to work hard to achieve your desired results. You won’t regret it.

Meditation is the ultimate mindfulness activity.  I still have yet to attend a meditation workshop or class.  If you’re intimidated by meditation (as I am) keep in mind that in order to reap the benefits it doesn’t have to be for a long period of time but it should be done daily for as little as 5-10 minutes.

The simplest way to connect with the present moment (as I’ve learned through yoga) is simply sitting quietly and breathing for a few minutes.  Breathing with purpose and noticing how calming it feels to inhale deeply and exhale deeply is the most important and easiest thing you can do 🙂 I dare you to try it…

Speaking of breathing and yoga, I will be teaching a yoga class this Sunday at LC Fitness Studio (1376 Bank Street, B200) at 1pm.  Come and practice “mindful fitness” with me and you’ll leave feeling refreshed, re-energized, more flexible and very relaxed but most importantly you’ll be happy you dedicated 75 minutes of your day to yourself!

 

Les 🙂

 

 

 

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Have you heard about Aquatober??!

Today’s blog post is written by a new friend of mine Lydia Di Francesco.  We haven’t met in person yet but thanks to the world of social media (Twitter and Facebook) we have connected and I look forward to meeting this fellow fitness enthusiast!  I had to re-post because I think this is an awesome challenge for October.  How many of you are joining us in drinking nothing but water for the month of October, I mean AQUAtober???

There’s something refreshing about the beginning of a month. It’s like we can hit the re-start button on our lives. If you’re like me, I sometimes have grand plans of getting things accomplished… projects around the house, new recipes to try, keeping the house tidy (always a challenge!) … but as the month goes on some things get pushed to the side.

31 day challenge

Today is a day where we can re-focus, attempt to prioritize, and get life back on track. It’s also the start of “Aquatober“! Let me explain.

Aquatober is the brainchild of John, from YoungHouseLove. (Side note, YHL is an amazing blog written by two funny DIY bloggers. It’s my favorite read of the day!) Basically, for the month of October, John only drinks water (and sometimes milk) instead of sugary drinks like juice, pop, caffeine, alcohol, etc.

I think this is a fabulous idea and I will be joining John in this 31 Day Challenge! I invite you to do the same. Who’s with me?

If you’re joining the Challenge, let me know in the comments section. Also, let’s see if we can get others to join in! Share the Challenge on your Facebook page and tweet about it using the hashtag #Aquatober. I’ll be blogging throughout the month with tips on how to drink enough water, ways to add some pizzazz to water without compromising the challenge, and more! (Stay updated by subscribing by RSS or email)

I know Thanksgiving is next weekend and is often a time when alcohol is served. If you really feel the need to indulge, try to keep it to a minimum. As well, like John, I’ll be drinking a bit of unsweetened almond milk with my homemade granola. Feel free to slightly adapt the challenge to fit your particular needs. The main point is to avoid drinks that are high in sugar (juice, pop, alcohol) and caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, pop).

In case you need some convincing, here are 10 reasons why you should drink water.

 10 benefits of drinking water

Thanks Lydia for bringing this challenge to my attention!  I look forward to drinking unlimited amounts of nothing but H2O, anyone else??

Les 🙂

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Another successful 30 day challenge!!

Wow did the month of September fly by or what?! I think it is because of the 30 day yoga challenge I was taking part in, it has been so much fun! What an experience, I seriously don’t want it to end!  I have met some wonderful people through this Be the Change Challenge and am quite proud of how well everyone has done!  What I look forward to most this weekend is a class on Sunday with Megan Campbell then off to chow down with some new friends (other challengers) at The Table in Westboro to celebrate and share stories our successes (and struggles) this past month! Thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way and helped me reach my fundraising goal! There is still time to donate 🙂

I decided to sign up for this challenge organized by Megan Campbell with the intention of getting into the habit of doing yoga every single day.  Yes I know, I’m a new yoga teacher so I should already be practicing yoga everyday, well I have to be honest, while I have been doing yoga at least 3-4 times a week I haven’t been doing it everyday!  I guess all I needed was a little 30 day challenge to get me on the right track!

After all, many spiritual traditions refer to 30 days and the power it has to transform habits, relationships, jobs, patterns. It’s within that time span you gain the power to make or break habitual patterns and ways of living.

I found that during this challenge I was very diligent and made time to get on my mat everyday (except for one day but I did it twice the following day, not sure if that counts but oh well!) At first I was taking advantage of the free yoga classes that we being offered at Pure Yoga Ottawa but as my days started getting busier I found that I was really enjoying doing my own practice at home!  The hardest part (just like anything else) is getting there on your mat (showing up), connecting with your breath, taking the time to relax and giving yourself a few moments to feel grounded and at peace.  Once I get there it is always feels so good  and I always finish feeling better and as though I’ve accomplished something 🙂  What’s even better is I get a great stretch out of it and depending on my mood and energy levels, a great core workout!

So do I think that everyone should try doing yoga every single day? Is it the best way to become happier, healthier and more in tune with your body and your surroundings!? OF COURSE! But don’t take my word for it, you’ll have to try it yourself! Many yoga studios offer first time visitors a first time unlimited intro month special (for example at Pure Yoga they offer an intro special of $40 for unlimited yoga your first month!)  If going to a yoga studio everyday is not feasible for you there are many other options…check out my friend Sarah’s video series called Surviving Yoga for more tips on how to get started in yoga and how to stay committed to a yoga practice.

Now if doing yoga isn’t something that interests you THAT IS OKAY!! Maybe you have other goals you want to achieve or habits that you want work on.  My Mom (for example) has done a few 30 day challenges but her first one she went without wine or beer for 30 days!!  Sounds tough right?? She thought so too, but after only 2 weeks of no drinking she didn’t even feel like she wanted to drink.  She also was happy because she lost weight, trimmed inches and felt so much better!  In fact, since the challenge (8 months ago) she rarely drinks at all anymore!  Imagine that?!

So are you sick of having hang overs or want to get rid your beer belly?  I dare you to challenge yourself to going without any alcohol for 30 days.  Once you get past the first week or turn down an offer to go for drinks with a friend you’ll be able to do it for the rest of the month!  You’ll be amazed how much better you feel and look (less bloated, more energy, less cravings etc).  And yes, you might ‘accidentally’ have a drink during the challenge but don’t beat yourself up about it.  Just acknowledge what you did and move on!  We are human, we make mistakes, bad decisions etc.  It’s not the end of the world.  But don’t ever give up because at some point you’ll get sick of constantly ‘starting over’.   I plan on continuing to practice yoga everyday, I find I really miss it when I don’t do it 😦 Now that’s a good thing!

In case you haven’t gotten the point of my post yet, here it is….SET A GOAL, TELL YOU FRIENDS, PICK A DATE, COME UP WITH A PLAN (do a 30 day challenge), SURROUND YOURSELF WITH A SUPPORTIVE GROUP/FRIENDS, STICK TO YOUR PLAN and the best part–> CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS!!

It’s that simple 🙂

Did you know that the beginning of next month starts on a Monday??  October 1, 2012; the perfect date to start working on your next goal…what’s yours going to be?? I’m going to begin preparing for a figure competition next spring 😉 The 7 month countdown begins!!

Please share your goals/30 day challenge below…

Les

Also, don’t forget I am teaching yoga this Sunday at 10am at LC Fitness studio.  It’s an all levels class and only $10 dollars for a 75 minute class.  Bring your own mat, a water bottle, a towel and a friend.  Stay tuned for updates on new class times starting in a few weeks 🙂 Hope to see you there!!

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