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!!

~Leslie



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!
~Leslie


RESOURCES:
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!

~Leslie
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!

~Leslie

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: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/undergroundwellness


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

~Leslie

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

EveryBODY's Different

I am sure most of you have heard the shocking news about Paula Deen. She has diabetes! Oh no ... not shocked? Well, me neither. I was reading an interview with her and it seems like she did the best thing for herself by waiting to make the news public. Anyway, this article brought up a great topic to discuss - how everyone's body responds to food in a different way.

If you read the article, one comment stands out in particular, "Type 2 diabetes is like "Russian roulette" when it comes to whom it's going to strike, Deen says. "It's about heredity. It's about age, lifestyle, race. I'm the only one in my family who has it. My grandmother cooked and ate like I ate, and she didn't have it."

If you read that and thought maybe she is right, she is. EveryBODY's different. How our body responds to food and exercise depends on genetics, hormones, our immune system, etc. This is just so wild to me. I have only begun to understand this principle. Paula talks about her grandmother being able to eat what she wanted, and while she lived in a time when they didn't have processed everything, pesticides, and other chemicals, her body was able to process and use food in a much different way than Paula's body.

I want you to think for a minute on how your body responds when you eat white flour, such as white pasta, breads, cookies, etc. Are you bloated? Do you feel tired? If you don't, you are lucky my friend! I can tell you that when I eat these things, I feel bloated and tired and many other things. I have stopped eating breads altogether because of my thyroid problem. My body is extra sensitive to certain foods and ingredients, and I would rather feel energetic and good during the day, than gain extra weight all the time because I can't process it. Anyone agree?

So, what kinds of foods do that to you? Have you ever taken time to notice? If you haven't, that's the first thing I want you to do.

Secondly, what "diets" have you tried? What works for me, may not work for you. Start researching all the different ways of eating. Atkins, DASH, Paleo, and Vegan, just to name a few. Let me be clear: If you want to change the way you feel, lose weight and CONTINUE to maintain those changes, this kind of eating MUST be a lifestyle change. I know that is hard for some people to accept. But, it is the truth.

I am not trying to say that how Paula Deen was eating didn't get her to this point. Sure, her body was overloaded and couldn't process the sugar and fat she was eating. BUT, there are so many other factors involved, and hormones are the biggest and most complicated piece of the puzzle. If your hormones are not in sync with each other, your body will not function properly. Some people are blessed with genetics that just let their body's zoom right along, they don't gain weight, don't have to worry about what they eat. I know MANY people like this. I like to stick my tongue out at them (:-P)

If you have a body like mine, don't let that get you down. I hope you realize you need to make changes. Do your research online, read books, ask friends, ask me!
Remember, EveryBODY's different!

Good luck!

~Leslie

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Personal Training Services

It's official! I am a Certified Personal Trainer!

I am currently taking clients! If you click on my SERVICES page, you will find a list of what I offer.

Please send me an email if you are interested and want to know more about my training.
It is a new year, let's get 2012 off getting healthy together!

I am excited to hear from you!

~Leslie

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tools to Track Your Health

How many of you go to the gym and wonder if you are really burning any calories, or think you are and maybe really didn't burn as many as you thought? What about when you eat? How many of you actually keep track of everything you put in your mouth? Well, if you don't, then it is most likely hindering your weight loss efforts - if that is your goal.

I have been using a two specific tools that I am going to share with you, which have helped me immensely while trying to lose weight and keep track of everything I am eating and burning.

Heart Rate Monitors
The first one is a Heart Rate Monitor. If you don't have one, they are definitely worth your money. They range in cost from $70-$200 based on their different functions. I highly recommend the Polar brand. I have the Polar FT4 which does what every heart rate monitor does (or should do), without being too fancy. It comes with a chest strap (the only way to really be accurate) and you wear it right below your chest line, or right at the bottom bra line, for the ladies. I just have to plug in my info, like height, weight, sex, etc. and it calculates your heart rate zones for you AND counts your calories, as well. It will keep about 10 days worth of your information after you finish your workout. That means it keeps how long your workout was, what time you started, the calories you burned, and greatest and average heart rate.
I would highly recommend this brand. I have tried another brand in the past (I won't name names), and had to return it twice because it just stopped working.
*Any of these can be bought at most places that have health/fitness equipment

Food Tracking Tools
There are plenty of websites out in cyberspace for you to use to track your food. I am sure some of you already use and like them. I have never enjoyed using these kinds of sites because they either seemed too time consuming, very general, or not very user-friendly. But, good news, folks! I have found my favorite and, what I like to say, is the best one out there :)

MyFitnessPal
has solved every problem I have had with other food sites. It is really easy to use. It stores ALL of your food items you enter in so all you have to do is check a box to select it next time. It also has an app for your phone. This app makes it even easier to add foods by using your camera to read the scanner label on the package of food, and then it inputs all the nutrition for you! That is awesome! I love it even more because it stores specific brands - even Whole Foods and Trader Joe's stuff in their database!! Ahhh, I could just scream I love this site so much .... well, ok, that's getting a little overboard. One more thing it also takes into account is your exercise for the day, which you can add. I have included a screenshot of one of the days on my account, so you can see what it will look like with the totals at the bottom. Just disregard all the crazy food I eat :) I hope this helps!















Good luck in picking out the right tools for you. I hope this gave you a little insight into what kind of fitness tools are out there!

~Leslie

Friday, January 6, 2012

Rules On Conquering the Gym

Good morning everyone!
This is just meant to be a fun post. I saw this website about "27 Rules of Conquering the Gym." It's pretty funny if you ask me, so I would like to share with all of you. Take a look at the link below and enjoy! I hope you find the humor in it! I particularly like #15 and #21 :)

27 Rules of Conquering the Gym

P.S. I have some great news to post in the next few days! Be on the look out!

~Leslie

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Decisions

Happy New Year to you!

I was thinking today of what new decisions I will be making this year, starting tomorrow, in fact. This was mainly spurred on because of my apathetic workouts this month, my horrible eating this weekend - and practically every weekend in December. Even though I am almost a personal trainer and find eating healthy very important, I still struggle with my food and workout decisions every day. I am here to tell you that it is NOT easy. It isn't just something "I do" because I like it. Now, I actually do enjoy working out and seeing my body change, but that doesn't make it any easier to make good decisions regarding these things.

What kind of food/fitness decisions do you make on a daily basis? Or do they even cross your mind? Good for you if they are, because that means they are at least on your radar. And if they aren't, I hope you will at least be thinking about it.

Now, my New Year question to you:
What kind of change do you want to make this year, involving health and wellness? What kind of decisions will you have to make regarding your time management, family schedules, grocery shopping, budgeting, etc. to live healthier? Do you have any health issues that would improve because of a change in eating/exercise? Why is this important to you?

Most of you read my first post about my journey and know that I made the decision to change because I was so tired of living with myself. Making that decision is the first step in all of this. Everyday I decide what to eat, write it down, what kind of workout to do, and work on my fitness goals.

Another reason I choose to eat well and push myself during my workouts is because of my thyroid condition. I have hypothyroidism (which has become extremely prevalent these days) and that means my thyroid doesn't produce enough hormone, so I have to take a pill everyday to give me those hormones. It also means I gain weight quicker, I lose weight slower, and can feel tired and sluggish. It's been under control for a few years now and I have a good amount of energy. But the way I feel is directly related to what I eat and my exercise. If I eat crap, I feel like crap. My body is much more sensitive to certain foods, and no matter how many times I tell myself this, sometimes it just doesn't matter.

I am human and give into temptations, but the point I am trying to make is that you don't have to beat yourself up for giving into those temptations. Let yourself eat what you want at a party. But that is ONE time, not everyday. I let myself eat what I wanted the last two days and I'll be honest, I'm not that thrilled with myself, but I am okay with it because that is what I decided to do. It convinced me to get back into the swing of things tomorrow.
I still have goals to reach and I can't reach them by falling back into my "old ways."

What goals would you like to reach if you could turn your "old ways" into new ones??
I would love to hear them if you would like to share! :)

Good luck,
~Leslie