The FASTer Way to Fat Loss and Why I Joined

As a personal trainer, I am extremely skeptical when it comes to online programs. In today's market there are so many "coaches" selling quick fixes, full of empty promises. These miracle wraps, shakes, pills and restrictive diets are nothing more than an invitation to step onto the yo-yo dieting roller coaster.

Which is why I've always preached that results come from smart, effective workouts + intentional nutrition + lots of hard work and great habits. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. 

Over the last few months....

I've run into a bit of a bandwidth issue lately, and have had to make some changes. I LOVE helping busy women get fit without losing their minds. I LOVE fitness. I LOVE helping people lose weight the right way. I LOVE seeing people reach their goals 

BUT...I also love my sanity, my family and sleep...all of which have become more and more elusive for this busy mama. 

Why you ask?

Well... a few months ago I started doing some writing for Amanda Tress and her clients. Amanda is a digital marketing specialist, business coach and personal trainer. She works with female entrepreneurs...mainly in the health and wellness space...to help them grow their businesses, the right way. 

As I took on more and more writing jobs I realized a few things...

  • Content creation is an area that makes many entrepreneurs want to rip their hair out. 
  • I am totally obsessed with helping women who have real solutions bring their programs and services to the world.
  • Working with a team of amazing go-getters like Amanda's, is totally my jam.
  • I ain't too shabby at this whole writing thing.  

So I had to reassess.

I don't have unlimited time each day.

I am still teaching full-time at a high school I love.

I still have two daughters who need me on the regular and a hubby who likes to talk every now and then.

Something had to go. Online fitness seemed like the obvious answer.

When it comes to fitness, if I'm being honest, I really love working with people in person. I love teaching classes, chatting afterwards and getting to know people in those settings. Plus, I was struggling to find a real niche in the online fitness world. There are SOOOOOOO many options out there, I was having a hard time figuring out exactly where I fit.

But...writing was clear to me. 

So, I've decided to take a break from hosting online fitness programs. I may throw my hat back in the ring at some point, but for now, I am focusing on writing jobs, teaching others how to rock their own copywriting, teaching in-person fitness classes, and of course my day job and family. 

I'll share more on all of this in another post sometime next week!

HOWEVER...

I am still committed to helping women get fit without losing their minds. So, about three weeks ago, I signed up for Amanda's FASTer Way to Fat Loss program. I had written so much about it that I honestly felt like a total dumb dumb for not giving it a go.

Ya'll...I am truly blown away and feel as though I'd be negligent to NOT share about this program!

I hesitated to sign up for a while because of my past with disordered eating. I was worried the tracking and intermittent fasting would send me back into craziness. However, I can honestly say I feel incredible freedom on this program. I truly do feel more in control of my food choices, and do not in any way feel consumed or stressed out by the food cycle. 

I also LOVE the workouts. I am a big fan of workouts that don't waste time. Amanda's workouts are effective, efficient and challenging. This is saying a lot from a trainer-workout-snob like me!

The daily accountability helps me keep focused and on track. I love having a community of women going through the program with me, and am legit amazed by my results already. 

After just two and a half weeks I can see a huge difference in how my clothes fit. I don't know how much weight I've lost...because I hate the scale and haven't weighed myself in YEARS...but I do know that I am already seeing some great definition in my abs, arms, legs and booty. I also feel strong, energized and have had far less stomach discomfort than in the past.

Curious about this whole FASTer Way thing? Cool....let me explain!

Here are a few things you should know about the FASTer Way:

  • I would NEVER recommend a program I haven't tried or fully believe in.
  • I would NEVER send clients to someone I didn't trust or respect.
  • The FASTer Way is unique in that it combines several different components that make it uber effective, including:
    • Carb Cycling (a variation in daily carb intake)
    • Intermittent Fasting (periods of fasting and feeding each day)
    • Counting Macros instead of calories
    • Strength and Speed Burst Training
  • Workouts that can be done at home or at a gym and take about 40 minutes per day.
  • It is recommended you go dairy and gluten free. I have not completely done this, but have cut back on both. 
  • You WILL see fat loss results, feel stronger, and more energized.
  • You will be a part of an amazing community of women.
  • You will get to eat!! This program is not about extreme calorie restriction, but about fuelling your body with what it needs to function optimally!

Things that have been challenging on the program so far...

  • Low carb days. This girl right here loves her some carbs. So, two low carb days in a row were tough at first. However...now that I've gotten some good protein/healthy fat based meals I enjoy, low carb days are A LOT easier.
  • Getting my sprints in. We've had some crazy weather over the last few weeks, so I haven't always been able to get my sprint/speed burst workouts in. 

What I am loving...

Leg day workouts and treats! I love a great leg day workout and the extra wiggle room it allows me in my macros. 

Intermittent fasting. I thought it would be harder than its been. I've done intermittent fasting before, but not for this long. I am finding it pretty easy at this point.

Juicing. I've used some fresh pressed juices on low cal days, and to extend my fast on other days. I can officially say I am obsessed. This is optional, but I have loved incorporating juicing into the FASTer Way!

Eating. I don't feel hungry, or overwhelmed by my food choices. I eat a lot!!

Community. I love me a group of rockstar ladies...which is totes what the FASTer Way ladies are. 

If you are looking for a way to get fit, burn fat and feel energized..this program is for you. It is effective and sustainable...two things the trainer in me LOVES!

The next round of the FASTer Way starts Monday April 24th and spots are almost gone. I promise you ladies, this program is truly the bomb.com....so, do NOT waste your money anywhere else! 

Stress and Fat Loss

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Obviously eating well and exercising are the foundation of fat loss. But, there are several other factors that can affect your body's ability to burn fat effectively. Stress is one of those things that can completely derail your fat loss efforts. 

What is stress?

Stress is not something outside of your body...but the way your body responds to certain external stimuli. When your body perceives some kind of threat or internal imbalance, it has two responses...fight or flight, and it releases cortisol (the stress hormone). While cortisol gets a bad wrap, it isn't completely evil!

Your body has a natural cortisol cycle that helps with energy and focus throughout the day. However when the cycle is thrown off, and your cortisol levels remain consistently high, your body does what it can to preserve itself...which isn't a good thing for fat loss. 

Where does stress come from?

There are plenty of things that cause stress in our lives: family, friends, work, finances, deadlines and major life changes are just a few things that can cause our bodies to have a fight or flight response. Two common things that people don't think about often as being stressors are over training (working out too much) and under eating (restricting your calories too much). These two things while they seem like a good idea for someone trying to lose weight, can actually cause your body to store fat. 

Is all stress bad?

No! Stress for a short period of time can bring a surge of energy and focus. That's why people are able to lift cars after an accident or meet a deadline after procrastinating for a week. However, when your body's not given space to de-stress and your cortisol levels remain high, everything gets out of whack. Constant stress increases your hunger hormones, decreases your satiation hormones, tells your body to store fat, and messes with your sleep cycle. That means you crave more junk, eat more junk, and feel more like junk. 

How do you avoid stress?

Stress is going to happen, ain't nothing we can do about that. What we can do is learn how to cope, so our body doesn't remain in a state of constant stress. Here are a few things that might help:

  • Exercise and Recover: Exercising 3-5 times per week, for 30-60 minutes will give your body the hormonal lift it needs, while allowing it to recover and your cortisol levels to come down. Exercising strenuously every day will counteract your natural cortisol cycle. Doing things like yoga, pilates or walking on your off days will help you to stay active while not messing with your stress load.
  • Eat enough, Eat Well: When people are trying to lose weight, they often cut their calories to levels that cause their body to go into starvation mode. When you exercise too much, and eat too little, your body begins to store fat, and your cortisol levels will remain elevated. It is absolutely critical that you do your best to fuel your body with whole foods that provide enough nutrients to get give your body the energy it needs. 
  • Pray: As a believer, one of the most important things I do to relieve stress is pray. Recognizing that God is completely in control of all things, and spending time in communication with Him, resets my mind and allows me to relax a bit!
  • Gratitude: Daily writing out things you are grateful for helps to focus your mind on the positive. Those that look at the world with positivity, hope and joy are better able to handle the stress that's thrown at them each day. 
  • Establish routines: As much as possible, create routine in your life. Doing this will lighten the load of decision making, which can lower your stress levels over time. 
  • Drink Ionix: This has been a complete game-changer for me. The adaptogens (natural substances that help the body deal with stress) help your handle daily stressors. It's literally like a natural chill pill!
  • Unplug: Constant time in front of a screen is overstimulating to your brain, and can cause your body to release more cortisol. Limiting screen time before bed, and throughout the day will help you to respond to stress more effectively. 

While short amounts of stress are beneficial to productivity, prolonged amounts of stress can significantly impact your overall health and totally throw off your weight loss efforts. If you have been struggling to lose weight, make sure your stress levels are in check! If you are looking for a simple to follow workout program, shoot me a message, I'd love to find something that works for you!

Sources:

  • http://www.precisionnutrition.com/good-stress-bad-stress
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201308/why-we-gain-weight-when-we-re-stressed-and-how-not
  • http://www.builtlean.com/2012/10/22/stress-weight-loss/

 

Simple Sources of Protein and Why Women Need It

In order to effectively build lean muscle and burn fat, you've got to do more than just cut calories. Ensuring that you eat the right macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats), is critical to changing your overall body composition, and doing more than just becoming a smaller version of yourself. 

Protein is critical to:

  • Increasing satiety
  • Helping your muscles repair themselves after a difficult workout
  • Increasing your metabolism
  • Decreasing the number of stored calories from food
  • Reducing cravings
  • Preventing muscle loss which can slow your metabolism down

When a high protein diet is paired with a solid weight training program, you will begin to see incredible changes to the shape of your body. You will see lean muscle gains, and fat loss...giving your body the toned, lean look most of us are going for!

But...how much protein should you eat?

Well, that depends on a lot! When figuring out how much protein you should eat each day, you need to consider your height, weight, activity level and goals. If you want to add muscle, you are going to eat a larger amount of protein than if you want to lose weight. If you are a 6'5 man, you are going to eat more protein than a 5'5 woman. If you are lifting heavy, multiple times per week, you are going to need more protein than if you are barely active at all.

According to Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition, "The basic recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram (or 0.36g per pound) of body mass in untrained, generally healthy adults. For instance, a 150lb person would consume around 54 grams per day" (Andrews). This amount of protein is only to avoid being deficient. If you are training at a higher intensity level, the same person's protein intake would increase to around 95-135 grams of protein per day.

What are some good sources of protein?

It can be really hard to hit your protein goals for the day, especially if you are like most Americans and live on a steady diet of carbs and fats. However, there are some really great ways to squeeze some protein into your diet.

Lean Meat: Chicken and turkey are great ways to get lean protein in at each meal. You can also eat lean beef and pork as well. It is a good idea to get a palm sized serving of protein in each meal. Just to give you an idea of how much protein is packed into white meat, "1 roasted chicken breast without the skin contains 53 grams of protein, with only 284 calories" (Gunnars).

Fish: Fish is a great way to squeeze in some protein. Be sure to choose leaner types of fish, or eat the fattier kind (it's okay, its the good fat), in smaller portions. "Salmon is 46% protein, with 19 grams per 3 ounce serving, with 175 calories" (Gunnars). 

Milk, Cheese, Yogurt: When looking to dairy for protein, be sure to go with the whole versions. One glass of whole milk is 8 grams of protein and 149 calories. 

Eggs: Eggs are a fantastic source of both protein and healthy fats. On egg contains 6 grams of protein with 78 calories. 

Protein Shakes: I am kind of a protein shake junkie! I have found some that I truly love, and usually have at least one a day for breakfast. Using a whey based protein powder will help you not only squeeze in some protein, but depending on the brand you use, you could also be getting in a ton of other vital nutrients and minerals. I use this meal replacement shake that has 20 grams of protein (it lasts about 3 weeks for us), and this whey protein powder for my veggie/fruit smoothies. 

For a more extensive list of proteins, check out this blog post from Authority Nutrition. 

Ladies, if you want to get lean, strong and toned, upping your protein intake, and adding in some intentional weight training is the very best way to get there. You won't get big and bulky, but you will teach your body to effectively burn fat while building lean, calorie burning muscle. 


If you are looking for some support, I will be leading an online bootcamp beginning February 16th. This bootcamp will use an Isagenix system (Nutritional cleanse with protein based diet), and I will be providing free workouts, daily accountability and various trainings throughout the program.

If you are interested, just fill out the contact form below and I will get you started. We will look at a system that is in line with your goals, your lifestyle and your budget. So...if you're ready to shed some unwanted fat, get lean, and feel more energized than ever before...just in time for spring break, message me below and let's do this!!! 

Name *
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Sources:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-protein

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-delicious-high-protein-foods/

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-protein-can-help-you-lose-weight/

 

3 Tips to Set New Year's Goals that Stick

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It's that time again. You know, the one where you set a bunch of resolutions because of the fresh start right in front of you, only to lose sight of those resolutions by February 1st. 

Why do we do this? Year after year, the same story...is it even close to possible to stick with New Year's Resolutions?

In all honesty, I am not a resolution girl. However, I am a goals girl. I spend a good amount of time praying about, writing down, and checking off my goals each month. And yes, January 1st does present a new opportunity to do just that. 

So how do we go from resolution flunky to goal getters? Here are a few thoughts. 

Spend time thinking through your long term goals.

Where do you want to be 10 years from now? How about 20, 30, 50, 70? What types of things do you want to be remembered for when you die? What do you want your grandkids to say about you long after you are gone? Then, connect those long term goals back to the here and now. What do you have to do this year, this month, this week and today to get a little closer to that long term goal. You will likely find some short term goals on the way. It's okay to tie some short term celebrations to those short term goals, as long as you keep the big picture in mind. Choose goals that truly have meaning and that will leave a legacy. 

For me, I know that I want to be someone who was remembered for her faith and obedience to God. I also want to be someone who poured into the people around her, loving them with grace and truth. I want to be a wife who supported and encouraged her husband and a mother who was present and available for her kids. I want to be excellent at what I do, whether that's in a 9th grade classroom, working with clients in a gym or through online fitness programs and writing. I want to be someone who is remembered for pursuing God's glory in all areas of my life. For me...this is a good starting point. It helps me to consider the long-term, so that I can start thinking about the short term. Try it for yourself friend!

Write measurable goals that are a challenge but achievable. 

What do we really mean when we say, I want to get healthy this year? How about, "I want to be better with money" or "spend more time with my kids". Those are okay places to start, but we need to get a whole lot more specific if our goals are going to happen. What will it take for you to get healthy. Do you need to lose weight, gain weight, change your diet, get stronger, lower your blood sugar? What needs to happen for you to be "better with your money"? Do you need to pay off debt? Start setting aside money for retirement? Give more? When are you going to spend more time with your kids? After school? In the mornings? Before bed? On the weekends? Will you be unplugged during that time? These are all smaller more attainable things, especially when  you start to attach some quantifiers to them...how many pounds do you want to lose, how much debt do you want to pay off, how much longer do you want to spend with your kids each day? Specific goals get accomplished, even if not exactly. Do you really lose anything for setting a goal to pay off $3000 of your $5000 debt and only paying off $2500? ummm....no! You paid of $2500, that's a fantastic step in the right direction!

Get Accountability

I love Lara Casey's Powersheets, because they let me write goals that are meaningful, and then help me track them. I also share my goals with my husband and have shared specific goals with coaches, friends, mentors, and even on my blog! Starting something new requires a lot of effort, which means you are going to need some friends to cheer you on and give you a kick in the butt when you need one! Each goal can have a different form of accountability, but they all need something!

Goals help us to focus and spend our time and resources intentionally. I truly believe that God leads us to live our lives in a way that honors him in every area. Resolutions rarely pan out, but goals that have been prayed about, thought through and well planned often lead to significant change. 

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Looking to finally get in shape this year, but need a plan and some accountability? I would love to help you make a change that lasts. Simple, effective workouts and a fantastic nutrition plan will help you to finally see some results! Sign up before December 31st to get $50 off!

The Benefits of Barre

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Now, you know I LOVE me some strength training and HIIT! But, I haven't shared much about my other fitness love: barre.

Barre is actually how I got into the fitness industry. I had taken a few classes at a chain in South Carolina and didn't really like it at first. Then, I tried a class at a Pilates studio in Bangkok and fell in love! I signed up for their teacher training on a whim and ended up teaching at that studio for about a year and a half, until we moved! I eventually became a CPT, but have taught barre ever since! 

While there are tons of reasons I love barre, here are just a few of the many benefits barre has to offer!

It's low impact.

If you have had any joint issues, or any old injuries, you can rest assured that barre will be easy on those ankles and knees!  While there is a cardio section to most barre classes, your joints won't be taking the brunt of incessant pounding. 

It's cardio + strength.

We all know that cardio burns calories, but long form cardio can actually negatively effect muscle composition. Not to mention that long form cardio can be boring for lots of people. Barre cardio is not always obvious, although you will quickly find yourself out of breath in most classes. In addition, barre uses bodyweight resistance training, and engages your muscles for a full body workout, every class! 

Anyone can do it, no matter what their fitness level is.

Barre is great because you can vary your workout based on your current fitness level. There is always a  way to make things more challenging, and there is always a way to make things a little simpler. Barre classes definitely have levels of intensity and difficulty, but anyone can give a barre class a try!

Barre forces you to make a mind-body connection

This is probably the most important benefit barre has to offer. Barre classes that are well designed, require you to focus your mind on the specific area of your body that is working. This not only benefits you while doing barre, but helps you to focus during all types of movement. Barre has made me significantly more intentional as I lift weights and do interval training. The type of mind-body connection you form during barre class will help you move and use your body in more effective ways throughout your day!

It's fun!

Seriously, it is really fun! A kick-butt playlist (umm...hello 90's rap with killer base) and some fun moves will make your hour fly by! Even if you feel a little silly, or like you aren't that great at it, you will undoubtedly leave with some shaky legs and a smile on your face!

If you haven't tried a barre class, I seriously recommend you hop on over to a studio and give it a shot. You will burn plenty of calories, get a little stronger and have lots of fun along the way! Or, give my Barre and Strength Bootcamp a try!

Holiday Gift Guide for a Healthy Lifestyle

I have a love hate relationship with Christmas shopping. On one hand, I love buying gifts for people. On the other hand it can be a bit overwhelming at times. So, since I am a fitness lover, I thought I would help you out! Here are some gift ideas for the fitness lovers in your life.

Infuser Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is absolutely critical and highly underrated! This Infuser Water Bottle keeps you hydrated in style, while allowing you to infuse your water with some tasty, healthy treats.

PowerSheets

I am a huge fan of Lara Casey's PowerSheets. They are truly a helpful tool for anyone wanting to set goals based on what they value. I think every woman should grab a set of these.

Resistance Bands

There are so many exercises you can do with a set of resistance bands. These bands also make working out on the road a whole lot easier, since they are so easy to pack! And, they are super cute!

Trigger Point Foam Roller

After a hard workout, there is nothing more welcomed than a foam roller. These guys can relieve tension in a big way, and Trigger Point rollers are my favorite!

Cross Training Couture Tank

Who doesn't love a cute tank to workout in? I love the heart behind Cross Training Couture and all of their designs are cute and functional!

Monogrammed Yoga Mat

I learned pretty quickly from some southern friends how important a good monogram is. Why not give your fit friends their own yoga mat, personalized with a sassy, chic monogram?

Fabletics subscription

I have loved everything I've ever gotten from Fabletics, and think these products are so well made. A subscription to Fabletics for a few months would be a fantastic gift for any gym rat!

Day Designer Planner

I love a planner. I've gone back and forth over the years, but can say that the Day Designer has never let me down. You can get the flagship version, or get a Target version. Either one will help keep its owner focused, on track and fully intentional in the coming year!

If you've got a fitness lover on your list, check out some of these gifts this Black Friday!


*This post contains affiliate links. To read my full disclosure click on over here.

Staying on Track During the Holidays

If you've been working hard towards your fitness goals over the past few months, then you're probably looking at the upcoming month with some concern. Holiday party season is about to rev up, and with it comes countless sweet treats and busy schedules. While you might be tempted to just say, "eh, I'll just enjoy myself until January 1st", let me encourage you; you don't have to dive head-first into a month long food coma. You can rock this holiday season and enjoy it, all at the same time. Here are some tips and tricks!

Stay on track during the holidays

Exercise Hacks for the Holidays

While this season might be a busy one for you, don't slack in the exercise department. You may not be able to get in as many full workouts as you normally do, but every Sunday, plan your workouts for the week. Maybe you need to shorten a few, or move a few around, but you can make workouts happen. Get some accountability (I've got a group starting November 28th or grab a friend), and be intentional. Maybe challenge yourself to do 25 workouts between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sweeten that deal with a fun little reward if you do (hello new Lulu's). If you can squeeze in three effective workouts per week during the holiday season, you're doing great. Four workouts and you are a total rockstar!

Nutrition Hacks for the Holidays

This is where things get a little tricky. Depending on your schedule, family situation and current nutrition plan, you are going to have to get a little creative here.

Eat clean MOST of the time.

Eat clean (according to your macros or calories) for as many days as you possibly can. This means that you do not need to chow down on every sweet treat someone brings to the office over the next month. Instead, plan your fun. If you eat clean the entire week before Thanksgiving, then you can enjoy all of the carby goodness Thanksgiving has to offer, with no guilt. Are those store bought cookies really worth it? No. Save your extra calories for the amazing catered party your office has. 

Add in some good stuff. 

If you aren't doing this already, now would be a great time to: up your water intake, add in some green smoothies and add veggies to all your meals. Simple hacks like these will keep you feeling full while giving your body some of the vital nutrients it needs. 

Track your food this month.

I am not a huge fan of logging everything you eat, all of the time. However, I do believe there is a time and place for tracking calories and macros. There is a significant amount of research that shows people who track their food, even if no one looks at their food log, lose up to twice the amount of weight as people who don't track their food. If you know that this month is going to be a challenge, then start keeping a food log from Thanksgiving to New Years. I love My Fitness Pal, because it has such a wide range of foods in its database. You can also use a fitbook if paper is more your thing.

Watch what you drink.

'Tis the season for lots of fancy cocktails and sugar-laden drinks. These are things that can put on the extra pounds with a quickness. You don't need to get an eggnog latte every time you hit up Starbucks. You don't need a cocktail at every holiday party you attend. Choose your liquid calories carefully this season and save them for truly special occasions!

Relax and be grateful. 

Take some time to really, truly rest this season. Stress leads to weight gain and a whole host of other health issues. Grab a massage, sleep in on the weekend, diffuse some oils, take a long bath, or plan a fun girls day out.  Doing your best to relax will keep your immune system strong and your cortisol levels low (which is good for weight loss). Enjoy time with the people you love, and live with sincere gratitude for the blessings you have. Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude are significantly more likely to lose weight and keep it off. Make this holiday season one where you daily count your blessings.

The holiday's don't have to derail your efforts to stay healthy and fit. In fact, they are the perfect time to really dial in your nutrition and commit to a workout plan. If you need help getting through the next 5ish weeks, I would love to have you join my upcoming bootcamp. For 12 weeks you get workouts, nutrition guidelines and regular accountability. We will work on building sustainable habits that keep you focused and free, so you don't feel like your losing your mind! This program is super affordable and designed with busy women in mind. Join me friends!

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15943172

http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20080708/keeping-food-diary-helps-lose-weight

Give Your Gut the Bacteria it Needs!

Girl, you need to get some bacteria up in that gut! For reals…

The research around probiotics has been steadily growing over the past couple of years. Because of that, they've become popular in the fitness and nutrition community because of the benefits they seem to have to your overall health. I personally started using them faithfully about 6 months ago and have seen a huge change in the bloating I used to feel throughout the day. If you are curious about whether or not you should add these in to your diet, here's some info to help you make the decision.

Typically, we think of bacteria as a bad thing, and most of the time, it is. However, there are certain types of good bacteria that can help our bodies run more efficiently. The bacteria found in probiotics are some of the good guys. 

Our guts are microbiomes filled with all kinds of bacterial organisms. In fact, we have 10 times as much bacteria than we do cells. That's a lot of bacteria ya'll! 

The good bacteria:

  • Helps us synthesize and process certain vitamins
  • Keep a lid on the growth of bad bacteria
  • Help our gastrointestinal function (good-bye pain and bloating)
  • Produce short chain fatty acids (I'll talk more about this later)
  • Can improve the symptoms of IBS and antibiotic related diarrhea
  • Boost your immunity, leaving you less vulnerable to seasonal sickness 

If you're looking to see a change in your overall body composition, probiotics can help there too. A digestive system full of good bacteria is able to better process the micronutrients in food and can increase your body’s overall metabolism. If you’ve reached a bit of a weight loss plateau, adding in some probiotics, might bring your gut into check, giving your metabolism a little kick, helping you to shed those last few pounds. Why? Probiotics have been shown to produce SCFA’s (Short Chain Fatty Acids), which aid your body in burning fat and tell your body to store less of it. When you pair probiotics with a prebiotic fiber (which creates a favorable environment for the good bacteria) your body increases the amount of SCFA's it produces. An increase in SCFA's can result in weight loss and a change in your overall body composition (aka, more lean muscle, less fat).

The health benefits don’t stop there though, according to Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition, “Adequate consumption of probiotics can help to eliminate abdominal pain, gas, bloating, reflux, allergies, nausea, food poisoning and vomiting. Probiotics may even alleviate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and dermatitis. You guessed it – this means they are anti-inflammatory” (Andrews).

So…how do you get this awesome bacteria into your gut? You could eat lots of yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi; or, you could use my favorite brand of probiotic supplements. I take one Silver Fern Probiotic pill every morning, then drink 2 Wai Drink mixes throughout the day. I’ve recently added in their Tino Fiber as well. All of this is part of their free Elevated Plan. I highly recommend you grab this simple guide to learn more about how you can incorporate probiotics into your current way of eating.  Whether you are looking to lose weight, strengthen your immune system or relieve stomach discomfort, probiotics could be a helpful tool in your toolbox. 

Ya’ll, these have made a huge difference in how I feel throughout the day, which is why I tell everyone about them. They have helped with some serious bloating, which has been a huge game changer for me. Grab your free Elevated guide and check consider adding some probiotics into your daily routine!

Sources:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-probiotics

http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/more-proof-probiotics-boost-immunity

http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics

Getting Fit Shouldn't Consume You

Whether its online, in magazines or on t.v., we're constantly bombarded with images of the perfect body. And while those images are forever changing, most women can't help but define their own beauty by the standards promoted by those images. 

In pursuit of that beauty, we often find ourselves doing extreme things: going into debt for the perfect clothes, plastic surgery for the ideal curves, and constant dieting plus excessive exercise to shed a few pounds. Soon, thoughts of calories and macros and how many hours you've spent in the gym, take over way too much real estate in your mind. Your life is all of a sudden consumed with clean eating, and never missing a workout, and your heart is left longing for the "more" that God's created you for.

I know this, because I lived this for years. I spent so much time calculating and counting, weighing my food against my exercise to see if I would gain or lose, that the only thing I lost was a little piece of my sanity. I thought about every bite that went into my mouth and felt guilty for every "bad" thing I consumed. On the outside, I looked like everyone else, but my mind was working overtime, and I was tired.

Which is why health and fitness has become such a passion of mine. I truly believe that it doesn't have to be that way. I believe that we can eat, and workout and get strong and feel confident, so that we can live, love and serve without sacrificing our sanity along the way. 

Eating well and working out are good things. In fact, this article by David Mathias hits the nail on the head in terms of believers and exercise. But, these things can quickly become idols if we let them. 

Women today can and should get stronger, because these bodies we've been given are gifts and can be used to do truly amazing things. I also believe that we should do our best to fuel these bodies well, so they can be full of energy to do what we've been called to do. I even think it's okay to want to look fit and healthy, and that there are certainly occasions where weight loss is a good thing. But, I don't think we should ever spend so much time at the gym that we don't have time for the ones we love. I don't think we should be so concerned with what we eat, that we can't enjoy a dinner out with our spouse. I don't think we should be so obsessed with the "perfect" body, that we pursue it over everything else. 

Working out doesn't have to take hours, because we can get strong and lean with short, effective, well-planned workouts. Eating healthy doesn't have to mean cutting out entire food groups because you can make small changes to your diet and see big results. 

Getting healthy doesn't have to make you lose your mind. In fact, it can truly help you live with more energy, focus and intentionality. Great workouts aren't the point of life, they are only a piece of life. Food isn't about calories and macros, it's about love, community and togetherness. Health isn't about our bodies looking amazing, it's about the amazing handiwork of our awesome God.

There are lots of trainers out there that are selling a quick fix. There are plenty of companies that want you to buy their cleanses, drink their teas, or use their wraps to scare the fat away.

But, I will always push you to want more.

I will always push you to find a why that is more significant than finding your six pack.

While we burn fat and get lean, I will always remind you that our real goal is strength and energy to do what God's called us to.

When we talk about calories and macros and cutting back on things, there will always be grace and room to eat what you love.

Because being healthy, losing weight, getting strong, and improving your fitness level should never make you lose your mind. Nutrition and exercise should never consume you. Looking a certain way should never enslave you. And feeling strong and confident should never detract from the life God's called you to live.

Burn Fat with HIIT Workouts

Ladies, I hope you've hit the weights a bit since my last post!

While I truly believe strength training should be the foundation of your weekly workout routine, research shows that adding in some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can really increase the results you see from your strength training workouts. The reason I LOVE HIIT is because it is so time efficient. You get a ton of benefit in small amounts of time. As a busy, working mom, time is a hot commodity. So quick and effective is absolutely my love language in terms of a great workout. 

What is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is alternating intervals of all-out-high-intensity-work and low intensity or no intensity rest periods. For example, my favorite type of HIIT is a simple sprint workout. I typically sprint as fast as I can for about 10-15seconds, and then walk for about 40-60 seconds, then repeat that 8 times. You can do this with a bike, swimming, on a treadmill or at home with moves like burpees, mountain climbers and squat jumps. This type of workout is great for when you are short on time, or when you are on the road with no equipment. It's also the perfect finisher to a great strength training workout (I would do fewer repetitions at the end of a hard workout though).

Here's why HIIT is so amazing...

Burn Calories for Hours

HIIT obviously burns calories while you are working out. In fact, it burns more calories than when you do a steady-state type of cardio workout (steady paced running, biking, etc). But the really cool thing about HIIT workouts is that they keep burning calories AFTER your workout is over. The simple explanation for this is that you are requiring more of your body during high intensity intervals in terms of the way your body gets and uses its oxygen. After your workout is done, your body continues using that same pathway as it is repairing your muscles. If you want to get all geeky over the science, check this out.

Research has also shown that HIIT workouts increase your body's resting metabolic rate for 24 hours after your workout is complete. Simply put, your metabolism speeds up for 24 hours after your HIIT workout. Who doesn't want to speed up their metabolism?

Burn Belly Fat

Studies have shown that doing 4-30second sprints, 3 times per week will burn more fat after 6 weeks than 60 minutes of steady state-cardio (walking on an inclined treadmill). Other studies have shown that 20 minutes of HIIT, 3 times a week will significantly lower belly fat. HIIT gets you burning fat, which means you look leaner...especially around the mid-section.

Improve Cardiovascular Strength

HITT gets your heart muscle working, but also gives it time to rest and recover. Overall this means improved cardiac functioning and better cholesterol profiles. In addition it can help lower blood pressure and improve your overall aerobic performance (aka...you're able to do more cardiovascularly with less effort).

Improve Glucose Control

HIIT training helps your body use glucose more effectively which means that you are less likely to become diabetic, and if you are diabetic, it means you will be better able to control your glucose levels. In addition, better glucose control means a more efficient metabolism. That means your body will burn fat more effectively. Now that doesn't sound too bad does it?

Time Efficiency

The real reason I love HIIT is that you burn tons of calories, reach into your fat stores and improve your cardiovascular health...IN LESS TIME! If you're a busy, go-getter like me, then you don't have hours to spend in the gym. Which is why I love adding HIIT into my weekly workout routine. It is a TON of bang for your buck in terms of time spent vs. positive effects. You are more likely to stick with a workout that won't take forever, which means sustainable change that your body will thank you for!

As you build muscle through strength training, your body's metabolism will become more efficient, and you will see your overall body composition change. Add in some HIIT sessions and you will really see the fat melt away. In addition, you'll be strengthening your heart and improving your overall health, which means more energy to live the life God has given you. 

A Few things to keep in mind about HIIT:

  • During your work intervals, you want to go all out! If you are able to carry on a conversation, you're not working hard enough. You need to be working at a level where it is hard to breath. You are going to get a rest period, so make those intervals count!
  • You can't do HIIT for extended periods of time if you are doing it correctly. 8-10 intervals is probably the max for most people. Don't be a hero, your body wasn't designed to work that hard for longer periods of time. 
  • Don't do more than 4 HIIT sessions per week, and be sure to make sure you are incorporating strength training. For most of my programs I include 1-2 minutes of interval training at the end of each strength training workout, and one longer interval day with 8 intervals with a longer recovery period between intervals. 
  • Intervals can be done anywhere. You can do them on a bike, in a pool, in your home with no equipment, on the treadmill or outside.

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The Benefits of Strength Training for Women

If you were to ask me the single most effective way to change your body composition, lose weight and "tone up", I would undoubtedly say weight training. However, whenever I say that to a woman, I'm usually met with the same response..."but I don't want to get bulky".

Over the years, women have bought into the lie that heavy weights are for men. We are bombarded with workouts that promise to tone an isolated part of our body, with tiny little weights. However, if you're really looking to burn fat, you're going to have to hit the weights and you're going to have to hit them hard. Your body composition begins to change when you progressively overload your muscles, requiring them to work harder. As they repair themselves from that work, they burn a significant amount of calories, most of which come from your body's fat stores. 

So, next time you think about doing a 45 minute, medium paced run on the treadmill, consider these facts about strength training, and grab some weights instead!

Increased Metabolism

Weight training causes your muscles to grow (don't worry, they won't balloon up, I promise). According to Wayne Wescott, weight training expert and researcher, Phd., "As you add muscle from strength training, your resting metabolism will increase, so you'll burn more calories all day long. For each pound of muscle you gain, you'll burn 35-50 more calories daily." This means that if you gain 4 pounds of muscle, your body will burn 140-200 more calories per day, which adds up to 10 pounds per year. Ummm....Yes please, to sustainable weight loss!

Increased Fat Burning

Women are often concerned about bulking up when you mention weight training. But, because women don't have the testosterone levels men do, they aren't able to grow muscle in the same way. And, while weight training might add muscle weight to your body, it burns fat at a higher rate than it adds muscle. In one study, women who added 1.75 pounds of muscle, lost 3.5 pounds of fat. So, while women can gain muscle from heavy weight training, they are going to see the fat melt off, changing their overall body composition: creating a lean, strong, toned look.

Better Bone Density

Weight training not only builds muscle, it builds your bones as well. Increased bone density can fight against osteoporosis, and keep you from injury. As you increase the demands on your muscles, you are increasing demands on your bones, which helps build your bone's strength.  Professor Earl Mindell and Virginia Hopkins explain findings from their research in Prescription Alternatives"In a recent study on bone density and exercise, older women who did high-intensity weight training two days per week for a year were able to increase their bone density by one percent, while a control group of women who did not exercise had a bone density decrease of 1.8 to 2.5 percent. The women who exercised also had improved muscle strength and better balance, while both decreased in the non-exercising group." In addition, according to Kathy Keeton, "a research study by Ontario's McMaster University found that a year-long strength training program increased the spinal bone mass of postmenopausal women by nine percent. Furthermore, women who do not participate in strength training actually experience a decrease in bone density." 

Improved Mental Health

Strength training's effects stretch far beyond the physical. Studies suggest that resistance training is linked to a decrease in depression (a Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced depression more than counseling did), an increase in executive functioning, a reduction in anxiety levels, an increase in self esteem, and healthy sleep patterns. During a strength training workout, your body releases endorphins which improves overall mood, boosts your immunity and increases your focus. 

Time to Start Lifting Ladies....

There are plenty of other benefits to strength training for women, but I think these are some pretty compelling reasons to hit the weights. If you want to dive into a strength training program, I recommend hiring a personal trainer (online or off) to make a solid plan for you. You can also find online plans through an app like Spitfire, or I recommend the plans in Strong and Thinner, Leaner Stronger. Aim for 3 strength training workouts per week, one short HIIT workout per week, and be sure to include some extensive stretching before and after each workout. Remember the goal is to increase your weights over time, so make sure that you find a plan that will progressively up your weight levels, requiring more from your muscles; that's where the real change takes place.


If you'd like an affordable personalized plan to get you started, I am offering a 50% discount off my One-on One VIP program. You get 4 weeks of personalized strength training workouts, nutritional guidance, and regular check-ins to keep you accountable, for only $75. My workouts will take no longer than 30 minutes and will get you leaner and stronger, while increasing your energy. As always, my programs come with a money back guarantee, so you've got nothing to lose! 

Should You Workout in the Morning?

You've been there. I've been there. That warm, cozy bed. The dark, cool morning air beckoning that you stay just a few minutes longer. You know that you can push that snooze button...twice. So, when that alarm sounds its annoyingly loud blare, you reach over to hit your old friend Mr. Snooze. So what, you'll miss your workout? Who cares about that when you get a few more minutes of sleep, glorious sleep? Well...before you hit that snooze button, twice, maybe you should consider the benefits of an early morning workout.

Before I get started on all the reasons I think a morning workout is ideal, let me say that I have not always worked out in the morning. And, I think that getting a workout in, whenever you can, is truly an amazing feat! So, please hear me when I say that it is more important THAT you do a workout, than WHEN you do your workout. However, if you're able, here are some compelling reasons to move your daily sweat sesh to the a.m.!

Should You Workout in the Morning

Improved Metabolism

Exercise in general speeds up your metabolism while rest slows your metabolism. Morning workouts gets that metabolism fired up early in your day.  When your workout contains a mix HIIT and Strength Training you will not only get your metabolism started, but you will burn calories well after your workout is complete, throughout the day (EPOC). Getting an early start helps to kickstart your metabolism and doing a an efficient/effective workout will keep that metabolism working well into the day.

Better Sleep

Exercise helps to reduce anxiety levels, which generally helps you sleep better. However, exercise does release hormones that keep you alert and energized, which is great during the day. A morning workout allows those hormone levels sufficient time to return to an optimal state for sleep. People who workout in the morning not only fall asleep faster, but they sleep longer and deeper than those who don't. If you can't get your workout in in the morning, be sure to exercise at least 4 hours before bed, or you might find yourself struggling to fall asleep.

Training Fasted

Recently there's been a good amount of research done regarding fasted training. Training early in the morning, means you can get a workout in before eating for the day. This means that your workouts will require your body to dig into its fat stores for energy, as opposed to burning off the glucose found in the body after a meal. No one wants to fast until 3pm, so getting your workout in can increase the weight loss benefits of your workout.

Energy, Focus and an Improved Mood for the Day

Like Elle Woods says, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't kill their husbands. They just don't". Elle knew a thing or two about the energy and mood boosting effects of a good workout. Endorphins are the by-product of a great workout, and will increase your energy levels well into the afternoon hours. In addition, endorphins lift your mood, and a great workout will make it easier for you to focus throughout the day. More focus = more productivity. Who doesn't want to be more productive?

Your Will Power is Strongest in The Morning

Willpower is not limitless, and the more we use it throughout the day, the more we deplete it. You are much more likely to blow off a workout after work, especially if you've made several willpower decisions throughout the day. Getting your workout in every morning will take one decision off your plate, and ensure that you get your sweat on!

Are these reasons not compelling enough to get your booty out of bed a bit earlier? Why not do a little experiment?

I dare you to give morning workouts a try for one week. You don't have to workout for an hour, just get in a 20 minute workout (at home is just fine) with some weights and some intervals. After one week, you might just find yourself craving more early morning sweat sessions. 

 

The Importance of a Workout Plan

If you're like me, then you've walked into a gym, looked around at all of the equipment, felt overwhelmed and wanted to crawl into a corner.

Or maybe you're that girl whose gotten ready for her at-home workout, cute gear and all, only to get lost in the thousands of YouTube videos that target everything but your eyebrows. 

In both of these scenarios, you've probably ended up doing something quick, random, ineffective, or maybe nothing at all, because you just weren't sure where to start.

If this is you, and trust me, its been me, its time for you to get a plan.

Having a workout plan will not only make your time spent working out more effective, it will make it easier for you to workout on a consistent basis. 

Whether we like it or not, we are creatures of habit. While new habits CAN be formed and old habits can be broken, the sooner we can make the good things a habit, the better. Without a workout plan, you will spend a good amount of your precious time trying to figure out what to do.

Having a workout plan takes the in-the-moment decision making out of your sweat sesh. Which means, you are more likely to get your workout on, and less likely to bail.  In addition, it will help you strategically use your time to get the most out of your workouts. And that brings results. Results keep you motivated. Motivation keeps you working out. And if you keep coming back, you'll build a habit. A workout habit will up your energy levels, and make you stronger and healthier, so you can take life on with intentionality and focus.

Where to Get a Workout Plan

Online Programs

There are countless online programs (including one I have starting on Oct. 17th). Check out Tone it Up, Blogilates and BodyBuilding.Com for other workout plans that will take the guess work out of your gym time.

Apps

There are a few apps out there that offer training plans that are effective and well thought out. Spitfire Athlete, Sworkit, and FitStar Personal Trainer all have plans you can follow. So if you are short on time, but want something structured and effective, try one of these out and stick with it for the duration of the program.

Hire a Trainer

If you are more of a gym kind of gal, I highly recommend hiring a personal trainer. The cost for a trainer will range from $25-$120/hr depending on your area, the trainer's skill level and where you decide to train. While there is a clearly a cost here, the benefit of having someone design a plan specifically for you will undoubtedly bring you rockstar results. 

Join a Class

Maybe one on one, or at home seems overwhelming to you. If that's the case, find a class nearby that you can go to at least 3 times a week. Most classes are designed to be total body, and to effectively build throughout the hour. If you are really dig a group atmosphere, let someone else make your plan, and join in with a group of peers who will keep you motivated and moving!

Simple Nutrition Hacks

Maybe you aren't ready for a Whole 30 or a Vegan diet just yet. Maybe you have so much to do that you can't even consider a complete dietary change right now. I get that. You've got work, a home and a family to take care of. No wonder you can't even go there, when you hear one more mention of a new diet that will transform your life, after prepping for it takes over that life completely. And, let's not even talk about how much you love your coffee creamer. Ain't nobody got time to give that up.

Relax.

You can start down the road to healthy eating, slowly. Yep. You don't need to give up everything "good" all at once. In fact, you are more likely to be successful, and sustain a healthy lifestyle, if you take things one step at a time.

Want a few simple nutrition hacks to get you started down the healthy eating path?

Drink MORE Water

I know, I know, you think I am a superstar rocket scientist right now. While that's clearly true, it isn't the point. 

Most women don't drink near enough water each day. Which means, they  spend most of their days in a state of dehydration. Dehydration makes you irritable, tired, and leads to headaches, nausea and a whole host of other problems. So, first thing in the morning, I want you to gulp down a glass of water. Then, I want you to swap out at LEAST one sugary drink per day, for a bottle of water. And, before you reach for some sweet, processed snack, or that greasy bag of chips, I want you to drink some water; we often mistake hunger for thirst. Lastly, I want you to drink at least 4-20oz. bottles of water each day. That's one with each meal, and one throughout the rest of the day. You can do that. For reals. You can do that!

Drink 1 Green Smoothie Per Day

If you think green smoothies are gross, I want you to check out some of the delicious recipes over at Simple Green Smoothies. You don't need to try all of them, but I promise, you will find something you like! You can switch up your smoothie, or drink the same ole' green-glass-of-health each day! But, do this for a month, and I promise, you will start feeling a whole lot healthier. 

Make One Swap Each Day

Maybe you're a candy bar girl. Welp, swap that candy bar for a piece of fruit. I'm a Coke girl. So, I started with swapping out one Coke with water each day. Now, I only have Coke a few times per week. I used to have 3 a day! If you love chips, swap them out for some carrots. Just one swap per day can really make a huge difference. Each day, when a processed food calls your name (hello Cheetos), tell that bag of nutritional nothings that you ain't having none of that today. At least not right now. Grab yourself some unsweetened Greek yogurt instead, and show your body some love. You don't have to change everything all at once. Just commit to ONE swap a day. 

Just Say No To Diet Foods

If it says low fat, or no sugar, but it's loaded with preservatives, sodium and artificial sweeteners, just keep on moving. Seriously. Don't buy into the diet food lies. Stick with the things you KNOW are good for you. Veggies and fruit make perfect snacks and provide your body with tons of good nutrients. So, next time you go grocery shopping, skip the diet foods and grab some fresh produce.

Eat Your Dressing on The Side

Most dressings are full of sugar and preservatives. Yet, we smother all of those healthy veggies with mountains of Ranch. Next time you're out, and order something with dressing or sauce, ask for it on the side. You'll end up consuming far less if you have to dip each bite. And, if you are feeling really nuts, go ahead and opt for oil and vinegar as your dressing. I know, I know. That's crazy talk. 

See, now that wasn't so bad. I didn't say you had to cut out all sugar, forever. And, who doesn't love a good Snickers bar every know and then? But, if you start making these simple swaps, and add in some good-for-ya, nutritionally dense foods, you might just find yourself wanting to take the next step into healthy eating. And, by that point, the next step won't seem so scary since you've already proven you can make sustainable changes to your diet.

I double-dog-dare you to try these hacks for the next month. I have a feeling you won't regret it!


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Best Equipment to Buy for a Kick Butt Home Workout

You want to workout, but don't want to waste your precious time trekking to the gym every day. So, you've decided to get some equipment at home and are going to get your workout on there. While I fully support equipment-free workouts, I also know that the benefits of strength training are incomparable when it comes to truly changing your body's composition. Effective strength training requires extra load (weight) over time, so eventually, investing in some equipment for your home gym is probably a good idea. But, hear me out, you don't need all of this at once, and you can absolutely start with nothing. Some of the most effective workouts are bodyweight only, so start where your current fitness level and budget will allow. But, if you want to start investing in some equipment, here are my recommendations.


Dumbbells

Dumbbells are super versatile, require you to engage your core for balance and are relatively low cost compared to other workout equipment. You can start out with just a few sets, and add on as you get stronger. For most women I recommend starting with a set of 8lb dumbbells, and moving up from there. You can go as low as 5's if you'd like, and as high as your strength takes you. I've got 10's, 15's, and 20's right now, and plan on adding 25's soon. The great thing about dumbbells is it really doesn't matter what type you buy, and you can get busy with just one set. Just be sure to keep working your way up towards higher weights as you find yourself getting stronger. You can usually buy a set for about $25-$30. I like the hexagon shaped dumbbells over the round ones because they can be used for more exercises!


Kettlebells

Kettlebells are also versatile and low cost. One or two Kettlebells can give you hundreds of exercise options. You can find these at Target, Dicks, or any other sporting goods store. For a Kettlebell, I recommend going a bit heavier than your dumbbells. I like to use these for a lot of double arm/double leg moves, so can typically hold a bit more than I can when using dumbbells. Right now I've got a 25, and I plan on adding a 30 and 35 soon!

 


Resistance Bands

I love these bands because they can make anything just a bit more challenging. Seriously, hip thrusters, squats and just plain ole' walking are killer with these bad boys. These usually come in sets, and are not too expensive. These will take simple bodyweight moves up a notch, without adding in super heavy weights. You can grab a set for $10 here!


A Chin-up Bar

An old trainer, at one of my favorite gyms, used to always say, "the best ab exercises are sprints and chin-ups and pull-ups". Back then I didn't totally get it, but now I've got to say, I couldn't agree more. Chin-ups and pull-ups are intimidating, but addictive. Chin-up bars are usually in the $20-50 range and will not only help you sculpt your upper body, but will help you strengthen your core. This is one piece of equipment I recommend everyone buy and start working with. You can start from a chair or stool, or use resistance bands to help you build up strength until you're ready to pump out those chin-ups on your own. Grab one here.


Balance Ball

I love a balance ball shoulder press, or inverted push-up. There is nothing that will train your core quite like a balance ball workout. You can use these guys the same way you would use a bench. The benefit here is that with a bench, your core is allowed to rest, while you are focusing on your arms, legs, glutes or back. On a ball, you are engaging your core, while targeting those other areas. You are improving your balance and teaching your core to stabilize the rest of your body, which is ultimately its most important job. Plus, a balance ball is super cheap. You can usually find one for less than $20!


A Box

There is nothing like ending a killer strength training workout with a set of box jumps or step ups. For most, a stair will do for a while, so don't rush to the store to buy one of these just yet. However, if you are ready to get a bit more explosive, do some more intense interval training or just want to up your metabolic conditioning game, invest in (or build) yourself a series of boxes. Amazon has a great set of 3 here for $120. You can buy one for about $50!

 


Jump Rope

I'll be honest in saying that I don't love jump ropes. In fact, I am terrible with them. I get tripped up easily and would much rather just go outside and run some sprints. However, for many of you, a jumprope interval at the end of a strength training workout is the perfect way to polish things off. If you loved jumping rope as a kid, then you are in luck! Jumping rope is a fantastic way to build cardiovascular strength and get a great calf/booty/arm workout, while "playing" like you used to as a kid. Plus, I love a jumprope for your home gym, because they are cheap and you can take them anywhere; hello travel workout! Here's a great one for only $10!


Here are a few other fun items for your home gym if you've got room in the budget:

Medicine Balls (weighted ball for tosses)

Smaller Resistance Ball (use for squats, and core work on the floor)

Foam Roller (for getting those knots out after a workout)

You don't have to break the bank to build a great home gym. Start small, buy one or two items at a time, and make good use of those before you go all in. As you get stronger, and more committed to your workouts, pick up pieces here and there. I always recommend sticking to the basics, and buying items that can be used in a variety of ways. This stuff doesn't have to take over your time, and buying workout equipment shouldn't take over your budget or lead you into debt. But, if you want to get a great workout without leaving the comfort of home, I recommend slowly building up your home gym, so that it has all that you need to get strong, fit and full of energy!


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5 Tips To Help You Build an Exercise Habit

It's almost the end of the year, which means you have long forgotten your resolutions, and have decided to wait until next year rolls around to recommit to your health and fitness goals. 

Here's the thing, that sounds all well and good, but what is going to make 2017 any different than 2016...and 2015...and 2014? 

Why not start moving towards your health and fitness goals now? What is so magical about January 1st? NOTHING!

Building any type of habit takes time, intentionality and focus, but it doesn't take a Monday, or the a beginning of the month, or a January 1st. So, I want to help you get your fitness booty into gear. 

Before we get into the hows of working out, we need to get you ready to build a workout habit into your lifestyle. While that may seem daunting, I promise you, it ain't no big thing! 

Here are a few tips to keep you moving in the right direction.

 

Decide on a meaningful “why”.

Lots of people want to lose x number of pounds. They arbitrarily chose a number that has no real significance. They're aiming for a shallow “why” that won’t hold up very well when that warm bed is begging them to stay just a few minutes longer. So dig deep and really think about why you want to exercise. Maybe it’s so you can be in better shape to keep up with your children or grandchildren. Maybe you want to spend your retirement years traveling. Maybe you want to be stronger, tougher and more energetic, so that you can do your work more heartily. Whatever the reason, come up with a why that is a little more meaningful than a fleeting number on the scale.

Schedule exercise into your day.

Write it on your calendar. For reals ya'll. If you don't schedule exercise in, you won't do it. Tell your spouse or a friend when you are planning to work out. Have your gym bag ready, and some cute workout clothes laying out in a prominent place. I promise you this, If you don’t intentionally plan on exercising, it isn't going to happen by accident! So, put a workout on your calendar at least three times a week. Now. I mean it.

Do something fun.

I have tried CrossFit. Twice. I should love it. I love a hard workout. I love people, and team and community. But I hated CrossFit. Both times. Two different places. It just wasn’t my thing, even though I know so many people love it. But I love bootcamps, weight training, metabolic conditioning, and barre classes. When I can’t afford to go to them, I grab a friend and I make-up a workout for us to do together. We get to hang out AND break a sweat: so it’s like killing two birds with one stone. Running makes me miserable, functional training and barre make me happy. So, I don’t run. I train functionally and take barre classes.  If you find workouts you like (it is okay to look around for a while) you are much more likely to stick with them.  Do something that's enjoyable and you'll have no trouble finding the time to build that into your week.

Get some accountability.

Find a friend who wants to work out with you. Hire a personal trainer who will tailor workouts to meet your needs. Commit to attend a specific class, and get to know the instructor so that they wonder where you are when you don’t show up. Get a FitBit or Jawbone and start walking like a crazy person. Having someone give you a little kick in the pants when you want to give up, or stay in bed, will do wonders for your workouts. I highly recommend joining an online program if you are pressed for time and money. I recommend this one of course!

Just do it.

At the end of the day, you just have to show up. Once you find something you love, and get some accountability, that will be a lot easier. But you will still need to get to work. No one will do that for you. It’s okay to miss a day or two. Don’t beat yourself up for stuff like that. Just get back in the game and keep moving forward. Building a habit takes time and effort. You can do it if you are willing to invest both of those things.

If you exercise regularly, what keeps you going? If not, what are you wanting to try?