Thursday, March 21, 2013

Workout Challenge

Happy Thursday to you!

It is almost Friday, and I think everyone can shout a happy "Yay!" for the weekend!
To inspire you this weekend I am giving you a fun Saturday workout challenge. It can be done at the gym or at home, if you have some weights handy.


First, the most important part of the workout is to warmup for 5-7 min. This can include walking/jogging on the treadmill, doing a minute or two of jump rope, jumping jacks. Then include some dynamic stretching. This could be a series butt-kicks, high knees, walking plank, bear crawl, walking toe-touches, arm circles, etc. Make sure you have moved every part of your body to prepare for the workout.

Please use proper form. If you are unsure of what an exercise looks like, check out Youtube or  Try this with a partner for added accountability and fun!

100 Jump ropes (or double unders if you are able)
90 Situps
80 High Knees
70 Squats (get that butt down!)
60 seconds Plank hold
50 Pushups
40 Walking Lunges
30 KB Swings (can use a dumbbell for swinging)
20 Pullups or Bent Over Row
10 Burpees - chest all the way to the floor if you can

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What Drives You to Be Healthy?

What drives you to be healthy?  And, I don't mean in a "I want to look good in a bathing suit" way.
I mean what kind of health challenges do you have going on with your body that drive you to make eating, sleeping, and exercising a priority in your life? Or DO they? If you have diabetes, cancer, thyroid disorders, intestinal issues, etc, then you should ABSOLUTELY be making necessary diet changes to keep those disorders in check.

Let me give you a glimpse into my battle for the last few months...

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis in 2002. Hashimoto's is a type of autoimmune thyroid disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. It joins the ranks with other autoimmune disorders including: type 1 diabetes mellitus, lupus, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. So, more or less, it is much more of a serious condition than you may realize. You are automatically at a higher risk to end up with another autoimmune disease, especially if you do not treat your body properly after getting diagnosed.
(If you are reading this and have Hashimoto's, please leave me a note, I would love to discuss this further with you!)

This means my body will also reject certain foods. I have had trouble with gluten for a few years, but still ate it more often than I should have. I felt tired, bloated, generally bad all over after I ate it. Until two months ago, I actually forgot I had a thyroid disorder and that my body was different than others. I had a rude awakening in the form of several severe food intolerance reactions (different than a food allergy). I couldn't identify the trigger(s), so every week would try to eat less of what I thought could be the problem, and every week I still had a reaction. Finally, three weeks ago I cut out all dairy, gluten, grains, corn and chocolate and have been doing fairly well. I didn't say great, because there is definitely something wrong with my gut, but I think I am much closer to figuring it out and healing it than I was three weeks ago. 

I wanted to tell my story because I realized how few people use good nutrition as their medicine. Do you have a health problem that could be greatly helped by eating well? It is not always that I WANT to eat well, but more because my body tells me that I HAVE to eat well. 

Do you listen to your body? Or do you ignore the symptoms and warnings and just give into the processed garbage because it tastes good and it is easier? (Been there, done that). And how long can you keep that up before something worse happens? Did you know that you can heal many disorders just with a healthy diet? 

PLEASE take time to listen to your body. Keep a record of how you feel after you eat and then try to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into your diet, instead of white, processed carbs and grains. If you eat the way the Food Plate (Pyramid) tells you to, then you will keep a steady diet of inflammation and make all your problems worse, though that is conversation for a different day. Research your specific problem and see what else is out there. 

In order to keep your body running properly, you will have to give up eating certain foods. It doesn't sound fun, believe me, but I am more driven now than ever to keeping myself on the Paleo Diet of meat, veggies, fruit, nuts, healthy fats, and bacon (but who cares, it's bacon :) because that is what makes my body run the best and doesn't cause food intolerance reactions.

Will you take your health more seriously and give more thought to what drives you to be healthy? Please feel free to share with me what health struggles you have and how you have noticed food making a difference in your life. I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading and 'til next time...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Home Workout for You: Pyramid Style

Happy August to you all!

Wow, the summer has escaped me, as I am sure most of you feel the same way!
Have you been keeping up your workouts and eating properly this summer? Well, I have a fun workout to give to share with you! It is something I wrote for my boot camp participants this summer and thought I would give all of you a chance to try it. You can do it in your house or even take it to the gym to do with a buddy in the corner.

The Pyramid Workout
A pyramid or ladder type workout can be done with a specific number of reps or weight as a countdown, but for this one we are using time.

Warm-up: Make sure you warm-up properly first. I like to do something such as:
  • jump rope
  • butt kicks
  • high-knees
  • toe-touches
  • 10 pushups
  • 10 squats
  • arm circles
For this workout you will not need any equipment - just a timer and a mat.

Instructions: Each exercise lasts 30 sec. You will start with the first exercise and then add the 2nd exercise, repeat both and add the 3rd, repeat all three and add the 4th, and continue down the line until you reach the last round where you will have 12 exercises in a row. It should take about 35-40 minutes.  Your GOAL is to have no rest between any of the sets or rounds. Just keep going, watch your timer, and go for it! 
*Note that I saved burpees for the last round, which means you will only need to do them once (you can thank me later.)
  1. Squats
  2. Jumping Jacks
  3. Boxing (while holding a squat position)
  4. Alternating forward lunges
  5. Situps
  6. Pushups
  7. Speed skaters (or side to side hops)
  8. Tricep dips
  9. Plank hold
  10. Alternating backward lunges
  11. Mountain climbers
  12. Burpees
I have had very positive feedback from this workout, so if you give it a try, please post a comment below and let me know what you think!

Oh, I updated my services page, so please check that out and find out how you can train with me!

Good luck and I will try to post another workout next week!!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Sleep: Do You Get Enough?

I can hear the collective answer - NO!
I'm going to get a little mean here, ready??

And may I ask why? Kids? Work? Computer/TV? Exercise? What? What is so important that you have to hijack your health to stay up until the wee hours of the morning and/or get up in the wee hours?

First, my one qualifier for this post: I understand that parents have a difficult time getting a good nights rest with kids getting up in the middle of the night and babies that need to be fed.
For the rest of you, I am pretty sure there aren't many excuses that will get you out of training yourself to sleep again! Isn't that what we have to do? This isn't just for infants anymore, us adults need sleep training! Sounds kind of pitiful doesn't it?

Are you one of those people who say, "Oh, I'll just sleep when I'm dead!" Well, let me tell ya, you will in fact be dead a lot sooner if you keep this lifestyle up! Sleep has so much more to do with how your body functions than you might think. Let me explain.

Why Sleep Is Important
Who has heard of the "stress" hormone, Cortisol? Cortisol is actually critical to life. Several functions include:
1) Regulating the immune system
2) Regulating connective tissue strength
3) Controlling how much sodium we have in our blood
4)* It releases glucose and fatty acids from the liver and lessens insulin sensitivity.

In a normal cortisol profile, cortisol is high in the AM and low in the PM. It works with insulin and glucagon to give us energy when needed and that is why it is low at night to help you go to sleep. When you are subjected to chronic stress (and less sleep), your body releases more cortisol than it should, therefore it is high all day. Abnormally elevated cortisol begins to disturb sleep, which makes us more prone to daily stress, which raises cortisol. Nasty cycle.

The consequences of chronically high cortisol include: suppressed immune system, elevated blood sugar, decreased insulin sensitivity, decreased sex drive, and the dreaded INCREASED Belly Fat!

If you are insulin resistant and have elevated blood glucose from cortisol, it causes you to store fat around your waist and to also not use fat for energy. So, while gaining more weight, you are also becoming so fatigued that your body can't operate properly to get you through the next day. You use coffee, alcohol, medicine to do so.

How is something artificial going to fix what is really wrong?

So, what can you do to sleep better and ultimately, live longer??
Well, I know we have all heard the tips on how to sleep better - like turn off all the lights in your room, stop using the computer an hour before bed, establish a nightly routine, don't eat after a certain time, etc. Do they work? Yes, they do, if you actually put them into practice! But it will take more than one or two nights of doing the same thing to make this routine. Your body will soon come to expect it and you will be tired at the same time every night. This is the time to take action and go to bed.

Eating a more "whole food" diet and exercising will also help balance your hormones to help you sleep.

I know it's a challenge to stop what you are doing and make yourself go to bed. If you are looking to improve your health and the way you feel, you HAVE to add more sleep to the equation.

Give me a shout out with your sleep tips!

Here is a good article about Insomnia treatment

Leptin and Ghrelin - the other two hormones that I didn't talk about, which are affected by lack of sleep

Source: The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

JUST DO IT: A Good Motto to Live By?

Wow, I didn't realize how long it has been since my last blog post. I apologize for my absence. There has been so much going on lately that I feel like I haven't even had time to be inspired to write a blog post! Anyway, hopefully this one will make up for my absence, just a little :)

JUST DO IT! Yes, this is the Nike motto, but it's also the motto I have come to live by in most areas of my life. In just three little words, this motto holds the courage for you to throw every excuse or fear out the window. What do I mean? Well, when you are making up excuses as to why you can't make it to the gym, or eat the healthy option, or do a certain exercise move, or even make a career change...I say, JUST DO IT, don't think about it, otherwise you will talk yourself out of it. I can't even count how many times I have done that. This will just keep us on the same stale path, wishing we could do better, instead of actually DOING better.

You might have just read those excuses and gotten to the last one, 'make a career change', and thought, huh? Doesn't she know that is a really big decision and something that can't be answered so easily?? Yes, I do. But, let me start by sharing with you a little more of my story.

If you have read my very first post then you know where I have come from, but not how I changed my career. I was a Technology Education major in college and never wanted to teach. I found out the hard way that there is not much you can do with that degree unless you teach. Thankfully I got a job at Butner-Stem Middle School (BSMS) teaching Exploring Technology to 6th-8th graders. I taught for 5 years until last June. It wasn't something I loved, but it was good for me and right for me at the time. I started getting in shape right around the time I started teaching, and as the years went by, I knew I wasn't long for the teaching world. I knew I loved fitness, but I wasn't sure how to make that my primary job. During my last year at BSMS I went through what I like to call a "very torturous" time of figuring out how to leave my stable job, stable pay, insurance, summers off, holidays, etc. to pursue fitness. It was a HUGE leap of faith for me to quit. And to the surprise of my Principal, I did. I found NPTI online and started in July.

What if I hadn't quit? What if I just stayed in a job that wasn't right for me anymore, one that made me anxious every time I got up in the morning and every time I went to bed at night? It was time for me to move on, and through a lot of thought and soul-searching, realized I am built for the fitness community. Now, I am not speaking ill of my job at BSMS. It was really hard for me to leave and I love my bosses and co-workers, but I knew it was best for me to get out and change for the better.

Like I said above, do you get stuck in a pattern of talking yourself out of things? I do. I find that I have to shut off that voice and literally make myself just do whatever it is. And afterwards, I am always glad I did. It might be hard to make decisions, but ultimately they will all work out - regardless of the actual outcome. You might realize a few months down the road that things didn't turn out how you wanted. What can you change? Were you fearful the whole time? If you were, could that have hurt your confidence in trying your new change/decision? Being able to rationalize the situation from all angles will really help you. Even if you have to write out the pros, cons, likes, dislikes, fears, anxieties first to help you really "see" it, then go ahead.

I realize that if you have a family, these kinds of decisions carry a lot more weight. But, I think the same principle still exists. And if you aren't happy, then your family isn't happy, right? :)

How much more will you enjoy life, if you love what you are doing? Take those chances, because otherwise, how will you actually know that you weren't supposed to go down that road?

In other words, JUST DO IT!

If you have any input, I would love to hear!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Dirty Dozen

No, this is not a post about the movie, but a post about fruits and veggies! Let's all give a shout out to our favorites - mine are broccoli and strawberries. Yours?

Now, imagine eating these and before you do, spraying chemicals all over them. Appetizing, eh?
I am going to introduce you to something called the "Dirty Dozen." It is a list of fruits and veggies to avoid buying if you can't buy organic. Why? Because they are heavily sprayed with pesticides to keep the bugs from eating them, and recently companies have even starting cloning these foods (more about this later). I am going to share with you the "Dirty Dozen" list of foods and some reasons why to buy organic whenever possible.

The 12 Most Contaminated - these are the fruits and veggies sprayed the most heavily with pesticides, so buy organic when possible
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

The 12 Least Contaminated - these foods are not sprayed much or do not absorb the pesticide because of their thick skin, which means they do not need to be organic

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

Ok, so now that we have those foods straight, why should you bother to buy organic produce? Note: Today I am just talking about buying fruits and veggies organic, so I won't go into why buying organic dairy and meat is important (it might even be more important!). I will save that for another post.

Thirty percent of our crops in the U.S. today are GMO crops (Genetically Modified Organisms), which means they were produced in a laboratory. Do you want to eat "fake" food? That's what I like to call it. It's almost the same thing as eating Dolly, the cloned sheep. Here is a good Q&A article if you want to know more about GMO's.

Another reason why I like to buy organic when I can - all the chemicals that I do not want to put in my body. Who knows what is sprayed all over our crops and then absorbed into the fruit. Studies have shown that pesticides can adversely affect the nervous system, increase the risk of cancer, and decrease fertility.

There are multiple other reasons to buy organic, but those are the two big reasons that resonate with me. If you are able to buy some organic produce, remember the "Dirty Dozen" list. I know many people who talk about how expensive buying organic is, and all I can ask is for you to think about this question: How much of a priority is your health to you?

If this resonates with you, do your research and make it a priority!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Educate Yourself! My Health and Wellness Book Recommendations...

Today I thought I would share with you what I have been reading/listening to about weight loss, fat, hormones, etc. This is where most of my information comes for my blog posts and how I view my body and health. Some of the books can be quite controversial, so I hope you will have your mind open to these challenging topics.

Jillian Michaels

I couldn't start off a book post without recommending three of Jillian's books. She knows her stuff! Every single one of these is a must-read if you want to understand weight loss, how to lose the last 20 lbs, and how your hormones play into weight loss.

Winning By Losing is a great one if you are just starting out with your weight loss journey and need basic information.
Making The Cut explains the difference between losing a large amount of weight and the last ~20 lbs. Jillian gives you a workout plan and meal plan to follow if you so choose.
Master Your Metabolism is a culmination of what Jillian has learned through the years on how your hormones can make or break your weight loss and how your body functions. She talks about her own experience with fad diets and how they ruined her metabolism, and also gives a thorough overview of each hormone.

Another resource that Jillian uses to share information is on her podcast on itunes. It is called The Jillian Michaels Show. I find this to be my favorite thing to listen to during the week. She is full of information, news, and hilarious moments between her and her producer, Janice. Please take a listen and see if you aren't addicted, especially if you are one of those people who don't like to read :)

Gary Taubes

Gary's book, Why We Get Fat, is one of the controversial books I was talking about above.
I think we have all grown up saying that, "eat less, move more" is the motto to live by when it comes to losing weight. Sure, I have seen it work for some people. Again, I stick my tongue out at them, BUT for the majority of Americans who have multiple health problems, hypothyroidism, diabetes, etc, it just doesn't work.
I have been reading this eye-opening book and find myself going back and forth between "eat less, move more" and his point of view. Just like my previous post, I still fall into saying that everyone's body is different.

Here is the book summary from Amazon: "He reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century—none more damaging or misguided than the “calories-in, calories-out” model of why we get fat—and the good science that has been ignored. He also answers the most persistent questions: Why are some people thin and others fat? What roles do exercise and genetics play in our weight? What foods should we eat, and what foods should we avoid? Persuasive, straightforward, and practical, Why We Get Fat is an essential guide to nutrition and weight management."

Sean Croxton

I just discovered Sean's e-book, The Dark Side of Fat Loss. It is similar to Why We Get Fat, in "debunking the calories-in, calories-out method of weight loss." If you are able to buy e-books and are up for a funny and mind-boggling, but educational book on fat and hormones, please buy this one!

He also has a great podcast as well, and if you have any kind of thyroid problem, I highly recommend listening to his podcasts. I heard one on thyroid disorders recently that blew me away because of the information was so helpful.

Find all the info on Sean and his radio show here:

If you have the time, please check these books out. They are well worth your time.
Let me know what you think!