Make Everyday N.E.A.T.

We’ve been told umpteen times how sitting is killing us(and in case you forgot, here’s a refresher on that!) Most upsetting for regular exercisers is that your 45 minute gym session does not offset the 7 hours following when you are sitting at your desk/car/TV. We live in a sedentary-prone world and many of us don’t get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, and are at a loss, thinking dedicated traditional exercise is the only way to burn calories and “be active”.

Now that I’ve sufficiently depressed you, listen up! As ACEfitness.org points out, “Both weight loss and weight maintenance can be made easier with a clear understanding of non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or N.E.A.T.” But just what is N.E.A.T?

You know those days when you walk the dog in the morning, do 4 loads of laundry, make 3 trips to and from the car carrying groceries and finally get your computer room functionally clean? THAT, my friends, is a high does of N.E.A.T. More specifically; any activity outside of exercising, eating and sleeping. Think of those people who pace while they walk, who make multiple trips instead of attempting to carry way more than possible, those who can’t sit for an entire season of Orange is the New Black (Yeah, I don’t know any of that last one, either), but you get the picture.

These little practices make a difference in your daily calorie expenditure, which will have an effect on your waistline. I’m not saying you don’t need exercise, but don’t overlook the benefit of being fidgety! Fitbit or even a simple pedometer can help greatly with this, especially for those who are numbers oriented.

NEAT GraphInfographic Cred

The more you move the better, and perhaps not looking for ways to “exercise”, but ways to “be active” will make it easier to incorporate movement in your daily life. Plus, you’ll end up with a cleaner house.

Here are some ways to up your N.E.A.T factor:

  • Walk or bike whenever you can for transportation
  • Clean more frequently, but for less time (one aspect/room a day vs. everything once a month…or, let’s face it, a year)
  • Take the stairs
  • Make multiple trips (groceries, laundry, cleaning)
  • Pace or stand when on the phone
  • Walk to the farthest bathroom in the house/office
  • Standup at the top of each commercial break
  • Play with your kids (video games don’t count!)
  • Walk at lunch, better yet start a walking group at your office (it’s as simple as asking someone else if they want to join you!)
  • Take the dog for a walk instead of letting it out in the yard
  • Dance! (alone, with your kids, with friends, etc)
  • Walk after work or dinner to catch up with your spouse

Cauliflower Puttanesca over Roasted Potatoes

Reducing the amount of meat in your diet has positive effects on your personal health, as well as the health of our environment. Movements like Meatless Monday have inspired many people to go meat-free at least one day a week, and innovative vegetarian recipes can be found with a few key strokes. Here is one I adapted from a great blog, Cookin’ Canuck, to try for your next meatless meal!

Cauliflower Puttanesca over Roasted Potatoes

Rules Schmules

The health and fitness world is full of rules, from things you should “never”eat to exercises you “must” do everyday, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and fall into the all too familiar all-or-nothing cycle of eating clean and nailing every workout, to mindlessly snacking on junk food and giving 50% at the gym. It’s hard to find the right balance but it’s possible, and it starts with your frame of mind.

Healthy Lifestyle

When we put our eating and exercise choices on a pedestal of rules, we end up creating ideals to fall from. We learn from a young age that rules are hard and fast and if you break them you are in trouble. A healthy and balanced lifestyle is just the opposite. You’ll have days where you cook all your meals and get in an extra 10 minutes of circuits because you are on fire! Then you’ll have a day where your breakfast is coffee and the thought of stepping foot on a treadmill is too exhausting. They key is having the same attitude about yourself and your abilities to lead a healthful life no matter what kind of day you’re experiencing.

When we put our eating and exercise choices on a pedestal of rules, we end up creating ideals to fall from Click To Tweet

Say you have a rule of not eating french fries, but you give in to temptation while out with friends and have one from a shared basket. Despite that you’ve eaten smart all week and ordered healthfully that night, you’ve broken a rule! Your head tells you you’ve done something wrong. You feel bad about yourself. You doubt your ability to make good choices so you say, “F it” and stuff more fries down without enjoying them because you’re doing something you shouldn’t.

Another scenario goes like this: you have a rule to workout at least one weekend day, but two weekends in a row you have a work trip and an out of town wedding and don’t end up getting one in. You’ve gotten 45 minutes of exercise in the last 5 weekends in a row, but you broke your golden rule and feel like you failed. You skip the gym Monday because you already broke your rule, what’s another day?

This is why I don’t like rules! They can make you feel trapped, like a failure, and put you in that all-or-nothing mentality. I understand why people make these rules to follow, we need guidance especially when creating new habits and breaking old ones, but why not create a more welcoming head space to do so?

Instead of listing rules, come up with guidelines. Write out the qualities you strive for in your idea of a healthy lifestyle; energetic, active, relaxed, and balanced eater are a few examples. Now, instead of creating rules to follow to get there, draft some guidelines of what you prefer you do, that put you in action; I like to exercise 5 days a week, I prefer not to drink alcohol on weeknights, I avoid ordering red meat when dining out, etc.

By viewing these actions as guidelines you allow yourself the occasional divergence without feeling you’ve jumped off a cliff. Maybe you typically don’t order a burger when eating out, but the restaurant you go to is famous for their burger and you’ve craved one all week. This isn’t usually what you do, it’s not under your guidelines, but you eat one for dinner and go back to your healthy habits at your next meal. No harm no foul. You didn’t break a rule and don’t need to punish yourself.

Healthy choices

Seeing your healthy habits as a lifestyle and not a set of rules will allow for the ebb and flow of life. One of my favorite quotes to tell clients is, “one workout won’t make you fit and one burger won’t make you fat.” It’s your small, everyday choices that make the biggest impact and by letting your guidelines guide them instead of hard rules, you may find it easier to make these choices since you’re free to do what you want.

 

If you’d like outside guidance in creating your healthy lifestyle guidelines and making them habits, email me at samantha@sjkfitness.com. I’d love to work with you!

30 Minute Treadmill Torcher

 

To get fast you need to run fast. Test your leg speed with this quickie workout! By incorporating 1 speed session a week you will soon see improvement in your speed and running efficiency. Keep injuries away by doing 80% of your weekly mileage at an easy, conversational pace. Happy trails!30-Minute Treadmill Torcher

Double Trouble Calorie Torcher

 

No weights, no bands, no excuses!
Clear some space and get ready to work all your major muscle groups while getting your heart pumping!
Go from exercise to exercise with little to no rest between. Rest 1 minute and go again for 4 times total.
Double Trouble

For more at-home workouts check out my e-book Strongher in :30, it’s full of bodyweight strength training and cardio workouts you can do in your home in under 30 minutes! Click here for the deets!

10-1 Body Blaster

Count your way down to a sweat with this at-home bodyweight workout! For an added challenge; time yourself and try to beat that time later this week! Allow at least 1 day of rest between attempting a timed personal record. Good luck!

10-1 Body Blaster

Women’s Dream Conference Takeaways

Women's Dream ConferenceFriday I was lucky to be able to attend the Women’s Dream Conference hosted by Andrea Metcalf at the Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue. What exactly IS the Women’s Dream Conference, you ask? Andrea herself describes it best,

“My vision was to create a women’s conference for business professionals, bloggers, aspiring career seekers, and those who needed a rejuvenating change to help them create their dream life. We can all use a little insight these days in getting ahead in business, understanding the impact and success of social media as well as developing our personal brands and health.”

Sam and Tori at conferenceMy friend Tori and I

While the conference had a focus on women entrepreneurs, the variety of panel discussions were filled with heartfelt advice any woman could apply to her life. I took notes throughout, jotting down phrases and tips that stood out to me and am happy to share them with you! I just hope I can read my handwriting…

From the Owning It panelists –

– Best advice on running your business (or career)

  • Never turn down a call or meeting, you never know where it will go.
  • Your job is:
    • Attention to detail
    • Follow-up
    • Enthusiasm
  • Don’t be afraid to be the outlier.
  • No one will sell your business like you will.
    • Be the main point of contact
    • Interact with consumers, callers, everyone
  • Keep your team small and tight.

– What to know before launching

  • Don’t try to do everything yourself all the time; delegate.
  • Don’t be afraid!! Have courage and be patient.
  • Look for networking opportunities and available resources for small business owners.
  • Pay attention to bad vibes and part ways immediately with those partners/contacts.
  • Any business can go global so be ready for anything.

From the Balancing Act panelists –

– Key advice for all women balancing work/family/social life

  • Keep your home happy by taking care of yourself first; have “me time” as a routine whether through yoga, exercise, morning coffee, etc.
  • Focus on having true moments. Engage with your family, not your phone.
  • Utilize your resources to maximize your time on your business and family
    • Laundry service
    • Slow cooker
    • Meal/grocery delivery
    • House cleaner

– Managing Stress

  • Exercise! Do something everyday.
  • Do something creative. Find what’s lacking that’s making you grouchy, what drives you, and do it everyday.
  • Gratitude. Write down 3-5 small (or big) things that you are grateful for EACH day for 2 weeks.
  • Don’t judge yourself on others’ criteria. (this was my favorite!)
  • Have social time; a workout class, coffee with friends, etc.
  • Approach life with bent knees 🙂
    • Think of riding the train or surfing; if your legs are locked you’ll fall, but with bent knees you can absorb the shifts.

From the To Your Health panelists – 

– Worst advice, better advice

  • It’s all numbers; input vs. output (calories in/calories out)
    • Instead: Strength train and eat quality foods
  • Spot reduction is possible
    • Instead: Clean your diet up and tone muscles with weights
  • Must workout for at least 30-60 minutes to count
    • Instead: Carve out whatever time you can and be OK with that!
  • Science-based nutrition, strict clean diet
    • Instead: Be in touch with how your food “vibes” with you! Are you truly enjoying it? Sit and enjoy your food!

– Live healthy strategies

  • Good posture will help everything.
  • Try this challenge:
    • For 7 days eat every meal from a plate, at a table
  • Wake up earlier than you have to and have time to savor the morning or try things you won’t have time for later.
  • Stop comparing yourself!!
  • Research what certain foods and exercises do to YOUR body. Because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you.
  • Honor both your “health nut” side and your “wild child” side”with each meal, it will help keep your whole self satisfied.

From the Confidence Inside and Out panelists – 

-One piece of beauty/style advice

  • Retinol and sunscreen everyday.
  • Use a good bronzer, no tanning!
  • Remove makeup EVERY night.
  • At least one good and fitted suit.
  • Perfect shawl  for both casual and black tie occasions.
  • Simple red dress, forget black!

There you have it! This advice can be applied to whatever your current situation, to help craft your best “dream” life. Everything won’t happen at once and not everything won’t be possible everyday, but by focusing on a few at a time you can begin to make a shift. Are there any tips that impact your life that are missing from this list?

Hello Glutes!

We sit too much and our glutes suffer! Don’t let those muscles forget how to fire by adding this glute-centric workout into your routine at least twice a week.

Hello Glutes

Planning to Fail

Look in any health magazine or Google “Workout Plan” and get ready to be bombarded with thousands of training plans for any goal you can dream up. Planning your ideal routine is easy enough to do, however sticking to it is where the true work begins.

You’re human, and life will happen despite your perfect plan of 4 cardio sessions and 2 strength training sessions a week. Your kid will need to stay home from school, a new deadline will pop-up, and although you try your best, you will have a sick day. Since this is inevitable, plan for it. Giving thought and having a game plan for when you have, “the worst week ever!!!”, can be the difference between giving up and reaching your goals.

Earlier we discussed Realities of Your Goals, with the focus of thinking of barriers that get in the way of healthy eating and activity and coming up with a plan to overcome them. Planning to fail takes this a step beyond. You will have that week where you get in 2 of your planned 5 workouts and it’s not going to feel good. Now what? It’s incredibly easy to convince yourself it’s too hard, that you knew you couldn’t do it anyway and throw in the towel.

THIS is when you need a good plan. Come up with a few scenarios that are likely to throw you off course; Travel, sickness, and work/schedule overload are a few big ones. Next write down a comeback day and 2 actions for each scenario. Here’s a few examples:

Scenario 1 – I get sick
Comeback day – The first day I go back to work
Action – 30 minutes low-intensity neighborhood walk OR 30 minutes of yoga

Scenario 2 – I go on vacation
Comeback day – My second day back (arrive home Monday night, I workout Wednesday)
Action – Right where I left off OR At home workout

Scenario 3 – Work overload, I ate out all week
Comeback day – First day I’m home on time
Action – Stock up at grocery or order from Instacart OR Make my favorite simple meal

Scenario 4 – My child is home sick, I can’t get to the gym
Comeback day – Today
Action – Get her/him situated and do a 30 minute at home workout from fitness site OR At home workout DVD/On Demand

It’s important to recognize beforehand that these days/weeks will happen. Expecting to stick perfectly to your plan is unattainable and will not only cause stress but will lead to negative thoughts about your abilities when things don’t go as intended. Here are a few thoughts to ingrain in your mindset that can help in the long run.

-One workout won’t make you fit, missing one won’t make you soft.

-Every healthy choice counts.

-Don’t let one meal dictate the next. Your healthy breakfast does not excuse an unhealthy lunch and an unhealthy lunch does not mean you skip dinner.

-It’s not the workout you missed that matters, it’s what you do next.

-What you do occasionally doesn’t define you.

Happy planning!