Spring Clean Your Workout Routine!

It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here! Even though my winter in Chicago was insanely mild this year, I still am just as excited about spring’s arrival as I was when we experienced the Polar Vortex. Even if you didn’t get dumped on with snow this winter, it’s not exactly enticing to do anything outdoors in 40 degree rain or overcast skies.

At this point in the year, you’re likely getting that cabin fever feeling of a gym rut routine. Here are some tips to mix up your stale winter workouts and breathe some fresh spring air into your routine!

Go Longer, Instead of Harder

If you’re stuck inside on the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike, I always recommend HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to mix up the monotony. Plus, you can get a tough workout in much less time, ideal for seemingly shorter days and when there’s a line for the cardio equipment.

However, when it doesn’t hurt your face to step outside, spending more time exercising can actually be enticing! Of course, this calls for a reduction of effort so you’re able to get through an hour or more.

Long power walks are a favorite of mine once the temps are well into the 50s and the extra time in the sun boosts my mood as much as any endorphins I get from the exercise itself.

If you run, ditch a day normally dedicated to short intervals in favor of a steady state scenic route and let your mind wander as much as your feet. Another option is trading a spin class in for a long bike ride.

Get Outside

Back to that sunshine. The decrease of sun rays effect your melatonin and serotonin levels, both of which directly impact your mood. So imagine how you’ll feel boosting your endorphins while enhancing these natural mood boosting chemicals. We already covered the basics, long runs, walks, and bike rides around town, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there!

Many gyms, athletic stores, and community centers sponsor free outdoor workouts in the spring and summer months. Run groups, yoga in the park, and outdoor bootcamps are often free or a packaged deal so take advantage of what’s in your community! Try them out with friends, or make new ones by attending regular meet-ups.

Commute This Way

Knocking out your commute and exercise at the same time is a big win-win, and much easier to do with more daylight hours and less ice and slush. If you can run, walk, or bike to work, consider yourself super lucky and take advantage! You may not be able to do it every day, but you at least have a clear option 5 days a week making it easy to create a habit.

If you have a 15+ mile or highway dominated trek, it’s not hopeless. Consider all of the common errands you run in a typical week. Can you run to the grocery and take an Uber home? How about going to the amazing local coffee shop a mile away instead of the so-so chain at the end of your street? Bike with your spouse to your favorite brunch spot instead of hopping in the car, or pick a spot equidistant from your bestie so you can both walk to meet up.

How do you exercise differently in the milder months? What are you most sick of about winter workouts?

My Experience With Acupuncture

Although acupuncture has become more mainstream in the past decade, and even though I am fully immersed in the wellness industry, placing high importance on natural ways to heal and enhance your body, it wasn’t until this year that I tried it for myself.

I’ve heard and read how acupuncture can help a host of health conditions, and looked into it for my mom who gets frequent migraines, but didn’t have a big reason to try it myself. Until now. As I wrote about in a post featured on Mind Body Green, I’ve been going through issues with infertility. This is when I took to Google and Yelp to read up on acupuncture and fertility and find an acupuncturist near me.

After reading some encouraging articles from sites like Webmd.com, and reading great reviews and seeing a price that I could manage in my budget, I booked my first appointment with Samara at Division Chiropractic and Acupuncture. I read what to expect and what to wear, and was excited walking to my first appointment.

We spent a few minutes talking about what brought me there, what I wanted to focus on, and she looked at the top then bottom of my tongue and felt the pulse in my wrists. I told her my main focus was getting my body ready and able to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy, and second to that, if she could do anything to help my Raynaud’s which causes my fingers and sometimes toes to go numb even when it’s not frigid outside (oh, it’s reeeeeeaaaaal fun).

Actual photo, actual fingers, actually inside.

The room was quiet and set up much like a massage room with pleasant scents and relaxing ambient music. Samara had me take my socks and shoes off, lay on my back and pull my shirt up a bit so that my abdomen was showing. We chatted while she placed maybe 10 acupuncture needles in various spots; between my eyebrows, inside of both wrists, below my belly button and hip bones, and a few around my ankles.

I don’t have much issue with needles (luckily, because with this whole infertility doctor business I am getting a LOT of blood drawn!), but this isn’t like a shot at the doctor’s office, they are actually about a quarter of the size of a sewing needle. It’s more like a little poke and then you don’t really feel it. You’re also not completely covered in needles.

She then placed a heat lamp above my belly, and I asked her to marry me. Not really, but oh-my-god I need one for my house, it was amaaaaaazing! I said yes to a weighted eye mask and was drifting off about 2 minutes after she left the room. About 20 minutes later (I think) she came in and quietly adjusted a few needles and left again.

I didn’t feel much of anything, but then, I had the oddest sensation in my hands. It was like this energy swirling in my palms and through my fingers! It felt kind of cool, but definitely nothing I had felt before. Then, just as quickly as she left, Samara came back and welcomed me back to the world. I felt so relaxed, kind of like when you leave after a message. I made an appointment for the following week and it’s been a regular part of my week since November.

You’re probably wondering, “does it work?” That’s a tough one. For me, it is fulfilling it’s purpose. I have noticed less Reynaud’s attacks, it’s certainly a stress reliever, and just today Aunt Flow (sorry for that, but it’s the nicest way to put it) made an appearance without Estrace or Provera helping it along!

The biggest selling point for me was that there is no downside. Whether it’s what helps me achieve a healthy pregnancy, or not, there are no obscure side effects like many options out there. So, yes, I am a fan. I plan to continue going throughout my fertility treatments and the first trimester as is recommended by many practitioners, and will enjoy every second under that heat lamp!

Have you tried acupuncture? What for? What do you think?

 

 

The Kamagon Ball

Writing a health focused blog has it’s perks, and one of those is reviewing hot new products! From energy boosting drinks, to protein bars, to workout clothes, I’ve had my share of items sent to me to test out. This year I was selected to work with Hedstrom Fitness and one of the newest additions to their fitness equipment line: the Kamagon Ball.

You’re probably familiar with Hedstrom’s Bosu, the blue dome that takes stability exercises to a whole new level, but perhaps haven’t gotten to workout with the Kamagon Ball yet. I hadn’t until this year, but after receiving one of my own, I took videos of myself doing a few exercises they have on their site.

What makes the Kamagon Ball unique? In one word: Hydro-Inertia. Here is more about what that is, and why you need it, straight from Hedstrom:

Hydro-Inertia™ is: The utilization of water to create an unstable resistance that increases core strength and stability during exercise.

By utilizing Hydro-Inertia™ technology, you take away the limitations that are found in products that are limited to postural instability. With the Kamagon Ball you are able to work instability throughout a full range of motion in routines that engage your entire body.

Think of your daily activities; carrying a toddler, groceries, moving boxes or files at work, packing the car, etc. Dumbbells and machines do a great job of strengthening your muscles to be able to do these things, but they don’t necessarily mimic the unstable movements and objects you regularly perform day in and day out.

Here are a few exercises I tried with my new Kamagon Ball!
(Click image for short video demo)

Alternating Front Lunges with Twist

Squat Jump and Press

Squat and Single Press

Squat Hold and Chest Press


Alternating Front Lunge Pass Through

 The Kamagon Ball is super versatile, and since you add water to it yourself, you can adjust the amount meaning it adapts to your skill level. For more exercise ideas head to the Kamagon blog here, and to get your very own Kamagon Ball, check out all their new colors, here!

Top 5 Healthy Halfway to Homemade Dinners

Getting dinner on the table – much less, a homemade, healthy dinner – is a huge struggle for a lot of us. No matter how much you enjoy cooking, starting a complicated and ingredient stacked recipe at 7pm is no one’s idea of an easy evening! I know, because that’s me at least 3 nights a week.

Those are the nights I rely on what I call “halfway to homemade” dinners. There’s some cooking, or at least assembling, involved so I get to create dinner for myself and my husband – something I truly enjoy – but many of the few ingredients used are already cooked or prepped, making it a breeze to be home and eating within 30 minutes.

Here’s my top 5 healthy halfway to homemade dinners you can make the next time you’re in a crunch!

I tend to keep a lot of these items on hand for nights something suddenly comes up and I don’t have time for a more extensive recipe. Here is a list of my favorites to make a quick meal with! Click image for a PDF to print.

 

Need more ideas for quick weeknight meals and tips for getting a healthy dinner on the table in less time? Click here and get my How to Cook When You Have No Time guide!

Goal Sabotaging Loophole #10 The One-Coin Loophole

Here we are at the last loophole of this 10 part series, Loophole #10, The One-Coin Loophole. In case you missed the last one, check out the False Actualization (aka YOLO) Loophole here!

One of my favorite healthy living quotes sums up the idea of this One-Coin Loophole:

A struggle for many of my clients is the notion the the little choices make the big changes. It makes sense on the surface, but when you’re in your day-to-day routine, it can be hard to truly see what effect just one drink, just one missed class, just one doughnut, has on your results.

The truth is, it’s all those little choices that make for change. It’s what you do the majority of the time that defines your lifestyle, and when all of those Just One’s pile up together, a lifestyle is made.

The truth is, it's all those little choices that make for change. Click To Tweet

Once again, I want to point out that having one doughnut is perfectly healthy and normal, but brushing it off as nothing since it’s such a small choice, is a slipper slope. This is when having some type of accountability system like a food journal or exercise log can come in handy in keeping tabs on all of those Just One’s and keep you on track!

I hope you enjoyed and got some valuable takeaways from this 10 post series on goal sabotaging loopholes! For the full list, click here!

Working with a professional health coach will help you set meaningful and realistic goals, and help you get there by holding you accountable. I would love to talk with you about where you’re struggling and come up with an action plan to finally get the results you want! Click here to see how you can work with me, and here to start the conversation.

Goal Sabotaging Loophole #9 Fake Actualization aka YOLO

Yesterday we went over the Concern For Others Loophole, which brings us to Loophole #9, the Fake Actualization Loophole, or more aptly named YOLO Loophole.

The concept of this loophole is based around living and loving life by sacrificing healthy habits, even when deep down we know indulging in alcohol, or cake, or marathon TV, doesn’t actually make us feel happy in the long run. It’s the short term happiness that we act like we’ll never get the chance to partake in again.

“I can’t waste this lovely day meal planning, I’m going to meet my friends at a bar with a patio.”

“Life isn’t meant to be spent working out.”

“I’m ordering dessert, life’s too short to live without it.”

This is a tempting vision, and one that I previously posted about here in YOLO! Vs. Healthy Balance. Let’s get this straight, I’m not saying you should never be spontaneous, never indulge in a dessert you hadn’t planned on, never trade in a workout for a patio date with a friend. What I am saying is that this can’t be your default response to every opportunity.

As I’ve stated before, “Tossing around, ‘You only live once!!’ every opportunity you have is like saying “I love you” to everyone. It totally loses it’s meaning and power.

Stating YOLO at every opportunity is like saying 'I love you' to everyone. It loses it’s meaning. Click To Tweet

By all means, enjoy those times the exception to the rule outweighs sticking to your healthy habits; drinking champagne on your anniversary when you normally don’t drink during the week, going out for breakfast and dinner when your parents are visiting, skipping your gym class to take your dog to the dog park on the first nice day. However when you employ this YOLO attitude routinely, it is no longer the exception, but the norm.

When are you most likely to use the YOLO Loophole?

Working with a professional health coach will help you set meaningful and realistic goals, and help you get there by holding you accountable. I would love to talk with you about where you’re struggling and come up with an action plan to finally get the results you want! Click here to see how you can work with me, and here to start the conversation.

Goal Sabotaging Loophole #8 Concern For Others

Nearing the end of this 10 part series, here we are at loophole #8, the Concern For Others Loophole. This one is self-serving in disguise as selflessness. How often do you tell yourself you’re doing something for others, that unnecessarily puts your healthy habits on the back burner? If you think you’re innocent, see if any of these statements sound familiar:

“Allison would be offended if I don’t eat the doughnuts she brought for the office.”
“My aunt is only in town for a few days, I should spend time with her instead of going to the gym.”
“I’m not buying chips for me, my kids like them so I need to stock up.”
“My husbands had a busy day, I can’t ask him to make dinner while I go to run group.”
“I won’t be thought of for that promotion if I don’t go to every happy hour.”

Even for women who aren’t as affected by what others think of them, when it comes to life at home, it tends to be the rest of the family before them. It’s understandable that no one wishes to hurt friends’ feelings, alienate ourselves at work, or have our kids binge on sugar at friends’ houses because they are deprived at home. However, that doesn’t mean your healthy habits can’t stay in tact!

The truth is; no one cares nearly as much as you think! It may sound harsh, but it’s actually refreshing news if you truly wish to stay on track. In a previous post (Navigating the Work Event Minefield) we looked at the office treat pusher and happy hour organizer. But it turns out, you can have your cake and [not] eat it, too. Networking doesn’t have to include 3 glasses of wine, you don’t have to eat doughnuts for breakfast or cake for everyone’s birthday, and you certainly don’t have to order the burger, fries, and soda at team lunch. Try a club soda with lime to ease the awkwardness of making small talk sans alcohol, thank the doughnut bringer even though you didn’t eat one, and make healthy choices when out for lunch (for tips on dining out without filling out, check out this post!).

It’s very common for women to sacrifice their workouts to spend time with others, thinking they can’t have both quality time with a visiting friend, spouse, or kids and get a workout in. This notion goes back to the first loophole we covered; the False Choice Loophole. Look at the above reasoning I mentioned – not working out because your aunt is only in town a few days – now, stop and think about that. Are you really with her 24/7? Can you do something active together? Would she truly feel put out if you told her you can meet her at 6:30 instead of 5:30 because you have a weightlifting class you enjoy and don’t want to skip?

Odds are, when you state that your workout (or avoiding junk food, or getting to bed by 10pm, etc.) is a priority to you, your friends and family will support you. I like to talk to clients about recruiting their support team, and how imperative it can be for them to reach their goals. Telling your spouse how much running the half-marathon means to you and why it’s so important, getting them on board with your goal and your plan, makes it much easier to ask them to pitch in so you can get your run in. Thanking your coworker for bringing in cookies and telling her you’re, “really working hard on cutting out sugar, but they look great!” can ease the guilt you may have felt by not indulging.

The next time you feel you can’t stick to your habits because of the way it effects someone else, stop and think how much – if at all – they are actually put upon. More often than not, it’s not even on their radar.

Working with a professional health coach will help you set meaningful and realistic goals, and help you get there by holding you accountable. I would love to talk with you about where you’re struggling and come up with an action plan to finally get the results you want! Click here to see how you can work with me, and here to start the conversation.

Goal Sabotaging Loophole #7 Questionable Assumption

In the previous post of this 10 part series we looked at the This Doesn’t Count Loophole, and today we’re looking at loophole #7, the Questionable Assumption Loophole.

We often make assumptions that dictate our actions- whether we’re aware of it or not – and often end up derailing good habits. Like the majority of the loopholes, they seem reasonable at a glance, yet when we really stop and think about them, don’t hold much truth. Here are a few examples:

“I’m at a concert so I have to have a beer.”
“On Saturday morning we have to have an indulgent breakfast.”
“I have a call in 2 hours, I can’t start a new project until after that.”
“I only have time for a 20 minute run, it’s not really worth it unless it’s at least 45 minutes.”
“This is a famous bakery, I have to get more than coffee.”
“These cookies are Gluten Free, so I can have more since they’re probably healthy.”
“I should wait until Spring Cleaning season to really deep clean.”

Any of these sound familiar? Some of these notions you likely created years ago, and don’t realize they aren’t a fact of life until you break them down. Maybe you have created such a solid healthy habit, you think you can ease off. You have been getting 8 hours of sleep for months and going to bed at a decent hour became routine and easy, so you stop setting your bedtime alarm and inch closer and closer to midnight, still seeing yourself as someone who goes to bed on time.

We quickly regress from our healthy habits after becoming complacent, and making these questionable assumptions chips away at the habits we’ve built.

What questionable assumption have you held onto for years?

Working with a professional health coach will help you set meaningful and realistic goals, and help you get there by holding you accountable. I would love to talk with you about where you’re struggling and come up with an action plan to finally get the results you want! Click here to see how you can work with me, and here to start the conversation.

Goal Sabotaging Loophole #6 This Doesn’t Count Loophole

After the Planning to Fail Loophole, we’re halfway into the Goal Sabotaging Loophole series, and onto the 6th Loophole; the The Doesn’t Count Loophole.

A funny quote I saw summed up this idea; Calories shouldn’t count when the food doesn’t taste as good as you expected. It’s common to brush things off as not counting, and that’s just the problem; we can nearly always find a reason that our unhealthy habits simply “don’t count”.

It’s my birthday.
I’m traveling.
I’m pregnant.
I only had a few bites.
I’m so tired.
I did a really hard workout.
I’m so stressed I just don’t have time.

The list goes on and on. The truth is; everything counts. Despite what I truly wish were true, the nutritional content of a piece of cake is the same on your birthday as it is any other day of the year. Broken cookies are still cookies, and whether you’re tired or not, in the end you didn’t go to Zumba.

The truth is; everything counts. Click To Tweet

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy an indulgent meal on vacation, or skip your birthday cake, but recognize it as a treat and factor that into your daily choices as you normally would.

What do you say “doesn’t count” and how does that effect your choices?

More fun question: What do you wish didn’t count?