Exercise For Dummies

So I was bouncing around a lot of ideas for a new post (there are many to be had) I draw from so many places for inspiration. I’m often left looking at an over arching question of “what do my readers need?”

As much as I love writing from the trenches of life, I know if you take your time to read you wanna walk off with something that has encouraged you, motivated you, inspired you or educated you in some way.

One of my most popular posts, Healthy Eating For Dummies   https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/09/05/healthy-eating-tips-for-dummies/      was the simple kind of education topic that people seemed to need. This was driven by talking to friends, and seeing posts from others that made me realize there’s so much in the health/fitness world that makes things seem hard and complex when in reality, they don’t need to be.

People often think if they are going to start exercising, it should be an all out, full speed, into what ever they are chosing to do without giving much thought to the fact they are in a body that isn’t used to that kinda work.

What happens then?

Usually, the day or two after, they are so sore they can’t move and the mere idea of going back to it makes the shudder.

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If you haven’t been exercising, an all out approach is simply not smart.

Go Big or Go Home

I was scrolling through Pinterest one day ( follow me there) I may or may not have been looking for delicious chocolate recipes….

My newsfeed is a weird combination of wicked desserts they show me, and fitness plans to make me look like a MMA fighter.

I wanna have both please  😉

Anyway, there was this one that literally was a series of moves that totaled over 500 reps of several exercises.

The subtitle said get ready to wipe the sweat from your face or something like that.

What just stopped me in my tracks was the sheer craziness of it. Even as fit as I think I am, that would’ve been crazy.

I want to walk the next day 😛

Yeah there’s probably one or two people who’d go in and tackle it. Honestly though for  the average person it’s aimed at, makes it dangerous, not smart.

It’s why I’m kinda not impressed with the current trendy “boot camps”

Why?

Because if you’re getting up one morning all fired up to start and “today is the day!” you decide the fitness journey begins, you will honestly hurt yourself attempting such a workout. Those environments although they modify, often are conducive with people working beyond what their current physical abilities really are because they will try and keep up with the guy ( or girl) next to them.

It’s so important to know where you are, what you’re starting point is, what (if any) physical limitations you have, and work from there. Literally that has to be the place you begin to build from.

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Haha this is why you build a fitness base

 

And don’t feel bad about it or worry about it.

We all have our starting points. Consider it your base to your fitness foundation.

Get ready!

First, if you have any health considerations or concerns, talk to your doctor before you begin.

From that point, determine what goals you have or what you want to accomplish. We are all different in what we want to do and where our interests are.

Do you want to train for a 5k? Have dedicated time at the gym several days a week? Be able to walk around the block without getting winded?

Whatever it is, set a goal that can keep you focused.

There are so many activities to choose from but walking is something anyone can start at any time.

All doctors can support the idea of walking and often encourage their patients to do so. All you need is some good shoes and discipline to take yourself out and do it.

Walking is really a good, safe, and easy way to ease into fitness activities. You can adjust your pace as you feel stronger and you can lengthen distance as you get comfortable with your current distance.

Make sure your goals are clear, realistic, and concise.

The biggest key to failure and not keeping at it is starting off to aggressively early on then not sticking with it in the long run.  Your main goal is to build new habits you can stick with and that is done by going slow and steady.  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/02/28/the-tortoise-and-hare-weight-loss-approach/

How much is enough?

It’s recommended you get in 30 minutes of brisk aerobic activity, 5 days a week for over all health.  This includes things like running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, rowing, dancing etc

To help with weight loss, more may be required.

Don’t under estimate that even small amounts in a day are beneficial to your health and wellness.

The more fit you become, the more you will most likely feel challenged to do. Don’t be afraid to extend your goals as you improve.

Aim for balanced fitness.

When I began my health and fitness journey, ( wow this is my anniversary month!) I started walking each day, about 2 miles. Eventually, I started running parts of it. At some point I turned into a runner ha.

But one thing I’m glad I learned early on is doing activities that work, train, and condition all of my body. Certain activities involve more muscle groups than others. Neglected, these can become weak areas in our body due to neglect of not using them as intensely as others.

It was on days I couldn’t run outside that I started doing strength training.

Let’s take a quick look at what these different activities are and how they can help us.

Cardio: It’s the activity people complain about the most because you have to work hard enough to get your heart and lungs really moving and well, that makes people uncomfortable. Mainly ’cause it makes them realize they are internally out of shape.

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Start by doing an aerobic activity, like walking or running, for a sustained 20-30 minutes, four to five times a week. To ensure you’re working at an optimum level, try the “talk test”: Make sure you can carry on a basic level of conversation without being too winded. If you can sing a song, you’re going to easy.

Strength conditioning: I find this to be so important in supporting my other activities. Not only that, I can lift a sofa or heavy cabinet if I’m called upon 😉

Start by doing one set of exercises targeting each of the major muscle groups.  Start by using a weight at which you can comfortably perform the exercise eight to 12 times in a set. When you think you can handle more, gradually increase either the weight, the number of repetitions, or number of sets. To maximize the benefits, do strength training at least twice a week( ladies this is SO important for us! You want to keep your muscle mass as you age and weights are where it’s at. Not only that, muscles look cool 😉 )

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Never work the same body part two days in a row.

Flexibility training: This can be static stretching but I prefer some yoga to help keep me flexible and to help my overall mobility for life and my other activities. You not only want to stay flexible but mobile, meaning a complete full range of motion in your body.

Implementing all of these components will help keep you strong and fit no matter what activity you choose.

In summary…

Find what you love, know your starting fitness level, start slow and gradually build on where you are.

Set small, concise goals to aim for.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Make exercise a habit for life.

Don’t over do in the beginning.

Celebrate all your new victories!

If you have a developed exercise program, what tips or tricks helped you stay with it?

 

 

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Healthy Eating Tips For Dummies

One of the most overarching things I hear ( and read) are from people who want to eat healthier, who desire to do so, but often seem at a loss of where exactly to begin.

I mean, really, it shouldn’t BE hard, right?

Get the good food, eat the good food.

Why on earth are chocolate covered donuts in the basket??!

Seriously though…..

As I write this I’ll toss out the disclaimer that I’m certainly no expert on perfect nutrition. I openly and freely share my vices with you….hello powdered sugar donuts and salt and pepper kettle chips 😛

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I have just learned how to control my behaviors associated with those things. I’ve learned that those foods don’t support my athletic or health goals. I also don’t deprive myself so if I want something, I have some of it and move on.

On the whole of my day though, I make constant choices to choose wisely in what I eat.

It has been a learned process.

Some days are awesome other days are …..meh.

Ok so now that we’ve got THAT outta the way, lets continue.

You aren’t a dummy, really.

When it comes to eating and nutrition you really are largely a product of what you’ve been raised in, what you’ve been taught, and what you’ve been exposed to. Ok and you do have a healthy amount of “free will” as a grown up in your food choices as well.

You can “choose” to buy a candy bar and coke in the gas station… or you can “choose” to buy water and a banana or pretzels.

Huge difference in calories and nutritional content.

So free will goes a long way to helping us become more successful in our efforts to eat better.

I totally understand environmental factors. I didn’t grow up with a focus on healthy, moderate eating.

I grew up with good food, cooked by a mom and grandmother who knew what they were about in the kitchen ( skills they taught me to which I’m grateful) and food was all about not just eating, but comfort, family, and eating, plenty!

Seconds were just expected and a given. Everyone ate till they were in the food coma stage.

Of all things I’ve learned/taught myself these past years is to stay away from that mentality. It is a feeling I don’t like experiencing anymore, nor want to.

So some beginning steps towards getting smart with food is to understand your background environment ( what food was for you in your family, how it was treated, foods that were prepared etc) and accept your food behaviors today.

No one makes you eat anything  you don’t want or more than what you need.

In the beginning….

Ya know, when our Creator landed us here a zillion years ago, eating wasn’t complex. I have no personal experience with this but eating then was probably what it was designed for.

Food was fuel.

You ate to get fueled and you didn’t eat again till your tank was running low and you needed it. Repeat process. Spend time running from wild animals to survive ensured you got your cardio in 😉

Of course our early ancestors didn’t have all the processed, fatty, sugary non-essential foods we have today or I’m pretty sure they woulda been having brownies for dessert too.

One thing is still the same though.

Food is fuel. We need it to survive and to have adequate energy to get through our days.

It’s WHAT we choose to fuel or bodies with, how much, and how often that has become the issue.

It’s eating to eat and not eating because we have genuine hunger and need to fill our tank.

We eat to feed our eyes, mouth, and minds very often, without as much thought to what our stomach is saying.

Are we really hungry?

We’ve been given natural signals to indicate we need to eat yet many people go through their days never being aware of those signals because they never let themselves become hungry.

Back to the basics.

There are a few things you can do that can help you get smarter with your eating. They aren’t complicated or really hard, but they may feel that way as you have to intentionally work to adjust your thinking and behaviors.

Ready?

Eat when you’re hungry. When you’re authentically hungry, feed your body. You get no extra points for ignoring your hunger or pretending it isn’t there, so eat.  If you aren’t experiencing those hunger signals, find something else to do.

Eat just enough.  Now this can be a fine line to walk for all of us as we tend to eat and think we need more but if we give our bodies a little time to process what’s been taken in we would realize that we’ve had enough. One thing I’ve learned and been amazed over is how little food it really takes to satisfy my appetite and end my hunger. The same is true for you but you may have to teach yourself new patterns and behaviors with it.

Be mindful and intentional. This is where your food choices come in with the other points above. Assuming we’re all adults here, each one of us knows and makes choices over the foods and drinks we consume in our days.

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No one *makes* me go through a fast food drive thru or *makes* me buy non-essential, empty calorie foods at the stores.

I am responsible for what I do.

Same goes for you.

I’m at a point in my journey now where if I want something, I am fully aware of the choice I’m making. For those of you who still operate in a zone of feeling “guilty” over food,  ( find my post on food guilt here…  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/07/food-and-guilty-feelings/     ) this becomes very freeing as you know you’ve made a purposeful choice and not just been swept away because you’ve deprived yourself for so long.

Making different, healthy choices won’t be easy in the beginning. Work on listening to your body and eating just enough to feed your hunger, even if your food choices aren’t the best.

As you master the first two habits, you can begin to change things you’re doing.  DON’T make sweeping, broad, extreme changes to your eating all at once. You will be setting yourself up to quit in 24 hours.

Small steps are the best steps.

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DO think about the foods you consume. Make a list if you have to. Which are healthy and offer good nutrition to your body? Which are non-essential empty calorie foods that don’t promote good nutrition ?

What non-essential foods could you swap for something healthier? Don’t forget what you drink too.

What non-essential. empty calorie foods do you consume that you could learn to live without or have on a less frequent basis?

Are you willing to try new things? To change you must be willing to step out where you haven’t experimented before. Add in a new fruit or vegetable to your week. Find a healthy recipe or learn to swap out higher fat ingredients for less fat options.

One of the biggest swaps I’ve made is using my non-fat, plain Greek yogurt in recipes that call for sour cream or mayo. Sometimes with the mayo I only use half to half yogurt. Not only do you cut fat and calories, you get a little extra protein thrown in too.  I also use this when making dip for veggie trays and as well as other sour cream based foods.

Look at how much added sugar or fatty foods you consume and see if you can eat less of it or make healthier swaps for something you like.

Learning to be intentional about what you put in your mouth will be your biggest challenge and your greatest victory to healthy eating.

Once you begin to master that, eating healthier begins to feel like an easy choice.

Why? Because when you build new habits, they tend to take over the old behaviors.

Undoing and changing a lifetime of learned behaviors is a purposeful and intentional choice made day by day, but with time and consistency you will be on your way to healthy smart eating and permanent lifestyle change.

What steps have you taken to becoming a smarter, healthier person?

Progress And Improvements

It seems when it comes to the subject and actuality of weight loss and health improvements there is a common thought that it should be big, bold, and dramatic to be counted as worthy and notable.

What? You only lost one pound this week?

Throw in the towel.

Have you ever seen one pound of fat? You may rethink that idea.

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Yet, we approach our attempts to lose weight and get healthy like that, we dismiss the seemingly not so important looking for something bigger and more grand.

We want that dramatic 5lbs gone in one week like the ad on social media promised. We want to be able to run faster and longer after just a month of starting to run. We think we can lift heavy like the guy at the gym ( only he’s been at it for a lot longer so he can lift more than you)

Stop being dramatic

I really write that in a joking way, but really, stop looking for the big and dramatic as “proof” there’s something going on for all your efforts.

When you or I or anyone decide we are going to take steps to start changing our lives, our bodies, or our mindsets, it will take time.

You don’t want some of those “instant” results. They just don’t last.

Progress IS progress.

Why have we been trained to think if we don’t always have big impressive things going on, it’s not worth our effort?

I was out on a ride a few weeks ago thinking about how I have to work my way back up to a level that I had last year before the duathlon. Sometimes I think it’s “unfair” that if I back off ( as I have to at a point ’cause I can’t stay in peak forever ) that I have to begin to build back up to that level of fitness again.

Like, why can’t it just permanently stick?

Ok in all fairness, even in my not “peak” condition, I still have a higher level of physical fitness than someone who doesn’t work out, but I also have tons of room for progress and improvements in my game.

This was brought to my mind a few days ago in a new way as I took on a fairly huge hill, scaling it quickly and barely being out of breath that I had made progress since I started getting back at it a little over a month ago.

Building up your fitness level takes time, consistency, and uh, some more time.

Trust me, I took a brief moment to celebrate that victory at the top before I was plunged down the backside of that hill at full speed, before I turned around to head back up.

I was making progress.

The self improvement game

Maybe my progress is more than you want to think about or nothing you’d ever do. But you’re still gonna have ways of assessing how you are doing when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

We need to stop dismissing small victories as if they are nothing, when the reality is, they lead to larger victories.

Trust me, it took lots of smaller hills and lots more miles before I got to the point I am today.

If you start to focus and pay attention to those small things you will not only feel more grateful for what you are doing but you will appreciate reaching the bigger goal even more when you get there.

It’s such a journey for me to mentally look back at what I’ve had to do, to get to where I am today. I can see those smaller things so much more clearly as learning opportunities.

As you move forward whether it’s a process of losing weight, training for an event, or just wanting to be able to do something new on your own, be aware of those small steps leading you there.

What does progress look like ?

Each of us could answer that in a hundred different ways.  But overall, progress should involve a forward movement towards our specific goal.

Let’s consider losing weight. Setting aside the scale, or clothes fitting looser, which is everyone’s overall idea of “success” and “progress”.

Maybe there are other areas you haven’t considered….

Have you learned to listen to your body better and eat when you’re hungry and not just bored?

Or learned to eat enough to satisfy you without being self indulgent?

Did you bypass the fast food place on the way home for a “snack”?

What about making better food choices over poor ones you used to have?

Are you learning to speak kindly to yourself if you are used to speaking negative self talk?

Have you learned more to value and appreciate your body even if you don’t like something about it?

Do you celebrate more moments of self awareness and stopping yourself from impulsive choices?

Can you step on the scale and see a pound lost and celebrate that as being a bit closer to losing a 5 lb. goal?

Have you let go of old, tired food “rules” and “guilt” to embrace living and enjoying life, which also has food as a part of it?

Have you learned to see food as, food? And not label it “good” or “bad”?

What about in the ways of physical fitness?

If you couldn’t even get the desire to get off the sofa before but now you are at least going for an evening walk, do you see that as progress?

Do you see overcoming obstacles that challenge you and you push through as progress?

If you could hardly walk a mile when you started but now are doing 3 and considering signing up for your first 5K, well yeah, I seriously hope you see that as… progress 😉

Do you do strength training? Can you lift things now that used to feel like you could barely squeak out 5 reps before you fell apart?

Do you feel stronger?

Can you lift more, go longer, push through things you previously didn’t?

You my friend, are making progress.

Of course we don’t want to dismiss things like…

good lab results at the doctor as evidence of changes going on in you from the choices you’ve been making.

Or the fact you have better mental clarity, feel less anxious, are more focused and perhaps are sleeping better because of choices you’ve made.

Perhaps you’ve gotten your relationship with food in order. Maybe now you have it in the proper place it belongs and you call the shots, not food.

And ok, yeah, it is cool when you’re jeans get looser, let’s be honest.

So many things we do are actual steps to progress and improvement with our health and fitness. We just need to learn to appreciate them and not minimize them as not as important as “just” losing weight.

If we take a careful look at all we do, it can encourage us to continue to press on in our journeys and not become weary and frustrated and make the ( not best) choice to give up and go back to our old, unproductive, unhealthy ways.

Choose to see progress and not instant results. It will make your journey far more enjoyable.

Tell me. Do you look for progress in yourself, or do you want to jump right to the end results quickly?

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Common Myths of Health And Fitness

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Hello world! Yeah I know, no Monday Musings yesterday. I had nothing to muse over. Well not entirely it was more like a busy weekend and it just didn’t happen. But if you wanna read some of the past ones, find some here.

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/09/monday-musings-18/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/06/25/monday-musings-16/

The life of writing involves making myself sit and be still and grind it out when I’d rather be up and moving. If there were only a way to do other stuff AND dictate my posts while doing it, that would be awesome 🙂

Anyway I thought we’d talk today about some common myths in regards to fitness and health. I heard something this past week that got me to thinking and I was gonna give it a nod in my Monday Musings but decided there was enough fodder for it to have an entire post of it’s own.

Let’s face it, in the world of health and fitness there’s a lot of things that aren’t true yet people unknowingly buy into them all the time.

Let’s consider a few in this post….

Feel the burn.

I’ve seen this quite a bit lately in different places. The whole “feel the burn” thing in regards to working out.

Now I’m not sure about you, but if something feels like it’s burning during a workout, I’m fairly sure that’s not a good thing.

Feeling a burn could indicate you have over done something or doing more than your body is physically conditioned for at that point.

This is not the same as just working hard in a session and pushing yourself within your current physical conditioning. Our bodies require time to change and adapt to what we put them through, this doesn’t happen overnight or in a few sessions when you feel like you’ve got your “beast mode” on.

If something feels like it’s burning, you really need to stop and not go to that point anymore lest you pick up and injury that sidelines you for awhile.

A gradual, consistent approach that continues to build will let you work harder and longer with less risk for injuries.

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The longer you workout or the more you do in a day the better

You might mentally think you are doing something great but really unless you’re an elite athlete getting in some extra work you are simply setting yourself up for potential injury and at best being over tired, sore and not feeling great after the fact.

Stick to a structured daily workout plan, give it your best efforts and call it a wrap. Think quality over quantity.  If you need to do other things consider yoga or stretching to help keep those worked muscles relaxed and loose for your next workout session.

You get no extra gold stars for excess workouts. 😉fitness myth

I’ve gained weight but I know it’s muscle.

I’ve heard this when someone has been working out for like…6-8 weeks. Building muscle is work, hard work. If you’re a woman, it gets even harder. We often don’t lift heavy enough, or often enough and eat enough to build muscle in that fast of a manner. It has taken me time to build muscle, years. Although cycling and running have contributed to my muscle building, I do specific weight lifting a couple times a week alongside that.

If you want to build muscle it will take time, determination, consistency and good nutrition. Did I mention time ?

If you’re gaining weight that early on, you might be eating more than you need so adjust your calorie intake.

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I’m skipping breakfast because I want to lose weight.

Do you know that breakfast really is the most important meal of your day? Your body has been fasting for hours ( think your last meal the night before) eating properly helps kick start your metabolism for the day, wards off  hunger and helps prevent binging later on when you are full blown hungry.  It will also give you energy for your morning. Not only that having proper fuel helps you to be focused and alert, without it you can be irritable and grouchy. Skipping breakfast won’t contribute to weight loss, but it will keep you hungry and focused on food.

It doesn’t have to be a huge meal, but one that is healthy and offers adequate protein and carbs to fuel your body and brain.

Eating lots of protein gives you more muscle.

Listen, I’m always one who will preach eating protein to you ’cause it delivers a big bang for keeping you from feeling hungry for long periods of time. Your body needs protein to build muscles and grow cells and hair and nails and all that other cool physical stuff. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues.

However, when it comes to fat loss and a better body, protein is the king of nutrients. Protein can reduce hunger and boost metabolism.

But in the often misguided fitness world, the more is better approach is often heralded as the way to do things.

Yes, you need adequate protein. Yes, if you are athletic you need more than the average sedentary person, but consuming high amounts won’t necessarily put Popeye muscles on you.

Why? Our bodies know what they need and the amounts needed and can only ingest 12-15 grams per meal.  At a point, the excess protein is excreted or stored as fat if it’s surplus calories.

Building muscle is a combination (again) of consistent hard work, daily discipline, lifting heavy and good nutrition.

Not massive quantities of protein.

Try and consume your protein from natural food sources and limit manmade protein drinks, shakes, powders, bars, supplements etc etc.

The 1200 calorie diet.

Ah yes. The standard caloric intake often given to women. Men do get a bit more but it’s just as limiting.

It still amazes me that these standard diets are often assigned to people without any given consideration to their personal needs.

Eating to low amount of calories is just as counterproductive as to many.

If you are seeking to lose weight you need to have a good understanding of yourself, your lifestyle, and your physical level of activity.

All of us have a basic level of calories our bodies need to just be alive. That means to support a beating heart, brain activity, cell growth, breathing… you know.. just the normal things. Our basic BMR ( basal metabolic rate) will be different for all of us again based on our age, sex, fitness level, jobs etc.

Try this calculator for your estimate…. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm

It’s important you know what you’re baseline is and not eat calories under that.

From there, you would determine what kind of work do you do? Is it physically demanding or is it a desk job? What kind of purposeful exercise do you do? None? Light ( 1-2 days a week) moderate (3-5) or more intense (6-7)?

All of these things come into play determining your daily caloric needs. And this can be a shifting scale most days.

For instance, I know on my long training days, I’ll be burning off a lot of calories and making my body work hard. I know I’ll have higher caloric needs based on my day in general, as well as my purposeful exercise. I know I can consume more calories on those days over days where I might just run a 5K that morning to where I don’t really alter my normal eating.

I am aware that on any given day I may need more or less calories depending on my activity level.

When you have a better idea of your personal needs, you can determine the calories you need to lose weight, or maintain your weight.

Eating a big meal makes you gain weight.

OK this is one that for sure comes up around Thanksgiving.  For some crazy reason people go hop on a scale the day after.

Like… why?  Do you just wanna feel crappy for enjoying your day?

Listen up, if you show a gain, it’s not fat ok? You aren’t gonna toss on 2-4 pounds of fat overnight.

Yes, the scale *could* show a gain but I’m gonna just say it’s most likely water weight from all those carbs you took in the day before from potatoes, rolls, dressing, pies etc.

Carbs, if you don’t know this, are like little sponges that hold onto water. Why do you think body builders restrict carbs when they are close to competition? To deplete water out of their muscles.

I would suggest if you go back to your normal eating, getting normal exercise and check again in a couple days, you’ll have weight *loss*.

To stay in shape you only need one or two days a week.

Sorry. That might clear your head or give you a quick burst of energy but it won’t get you in shape or help with any weight loss goals.

Ideally, you should really strive to workout most days of the week for optimal health benefits.

Start with a couple days but aim to get in at least 5-6.

You can crunch your way to good abs.

Sorry… but no.  I cringe when I hear people talking about doing crunches and dutifully going through the motions. The reality is it’s an ineffective way to get those abs. Instead you should be doing things in a combination of interval training, utilizing carbs wisely, getting adequate sleep and keeping stress levels low. Of course the right training moves help too. Moves like squats, deadlifts, and chin ups can contribute to that shaped mid section.

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Want a great looking mid section? Incorporate exercises that work all of these “ab” muscles.

I’m eating healthy, I will lose weight.

Truth is…. you will lose weight if you take in less calories than you need in a day and create a deficit.  Yes, eating healthy foods is definitely what you should strive to have in your day, but if you eat to much of anything your body will take what it needs and store the rest for fat.

Eat healthy, focus on eating just enough to satisfy your hunger, and then move on with your day.  Don’t get caught in the thinking you are going to lose weight if you have no idea of your calorie consumption in the day.

Be mindful of another “trap” by drinking “healthy” liquid calories in the trendy shakes and smoothies. The calories are often astronomical in it and you’d do better eating regular food.

My son used to get a smoothie from a local place. He asked me to stop and get him one and bring it to work. Me being me, I’m standing there picking apart menu and code words that still mean sugar no matter how you try and gloss it over ( good publicity makes you feel like you’re doing yourself a healthy favor) I found the one I was buying for him and almost fainted when I saw it had nearly 1,200 calories in it.  True, it was a large one, but still, that is an obscene amount of calories for something that is being promoted as “healthy” it is close to exceeding daily caloric intake.

When I told him he was shocked and stopped buying them.

Working out will turn fat into muscle.

No. You have fat and you have muscle. You can’t make one be the other. You can lose fat and you will be able to see your muscles better but you won’t turn your excess fat into muscle nor will muscle turn into fat.

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Oh and another myth I’ll put in here that ties in, my favorite, muscle weighs more than fat. ( a way to justify weight gain)

No.

5lbs is still 5lbs. muscle however, is sleek, compact and lean and fat is thick, bulky and fluffy. Having more muscle under your skin gives that “toned” look people always go on about. Toned is a weird way of saying you have some muscle holding your skin out.

And that’s about all I have to say on that topic 😉

I guess I could keep on with other points but I need to bring it to and end.  If you are unsure of something in regards to health and fitness, find credible sources to gain information. Don’t go by what the bulky dude at the gym does or the girl in the yoga pants tells you to eat. Educate yourself on things so you can make the best choices for you.

Tell me, are there some myths you’ve heard that people believe in?

No Exercise Required

It was early morning and I was still bleary eyed, sipping on my first wonderful cup of hot coffee slowly coming to life.

For the record I’m not “anti” morning. I mean most weeks I’m out on the road running or cycling while people are still crawling outta bed. On the other hand, I may just prefer to cuddle and be alone with my coffee for a bit till the fog clears my head 😉

I am more of strong night owl if I had to label myself … anyway…

I’m waking up, laptop in front of me as I do a final read through and edit on my post before launching it into the world and blog land.  I do my level best to make sure you, my faithful readers, don’t stumble through to much of my ramblings haha

And can I take a moment to say thank you?

However, you follow me, whether through e-mail, Facebook, IG, Pinterest or on WordPress, thank you for taking your time to read what I write.  I know our time is valuable and I appreciate you taking yours to read my offerings.

I will always attempt to make it worth your while, to keep it sassy, and hopefully to educate, inspire, or challenge you.

Now, where was I?

Waking up, drinking coffee and proofing my post… yes that’s where I was. So while I’m doing that, the morning news is on and the morning commercials.

Sweet heavens.

It must be the cheapest time of day to advertise ’cause obnoxious car sale ads are on along with ads for medical clinics, lawyers and all kinds of other services I can do without hearing about that early in morning.

All of them are so… loud. So very, very loud.

Anyway, this weight loss commercial comes on advertising how you can lose weight with some miracle something or another and “no exercise required!!”

I guess that’s where my still sleepy, yet slowly coming alive brain kicked in.

I thought, how is that a good selling point ? But then I realized, to a lot of people, that IS a good selling point.

Lose weight and you don’t have to exercise? Heck yeah.

I get it. Exercise is work. If you do it right, it’s hard work.

Of course, if you’re out of shape it really feels like hard work. Your heart and lungs are screaming at you and you get all red and you are breathing way to hard so of course a weight loss offer of no exercise might seem like a good deal.

oxygen

 

It’s just not.

Let’s just forget losing weight here as we discuss this. Really, exercise shouldn’t be what you do to lose weight, it’s really what you put in your mouth and how much of it that matters more.  Exercise can just support those efforts.

Exercise offers so much more to us than being a weight loss tool. Think about how you feel when you leave your house on a nice evening to go for a short walk. Chances are it gives you time to think, clear your head from the day, brain storm ideas, and just unwind a bit. When you come back in you probably feel rejuvenated and refreshed, even if you may be sweaty 😉

In time, you most likely will want to walk a bit further as you start to really enjoy it and look forward to it.

Maybe going to a yoga class let’s you feel more connected to yourself, makes you more aware of your body.  For me, yoga definitely slows me down, but it also let’s me have some time that is a bit more quiet and reflective.

Whatever activity you may enjoy, if you get started in it, you will most likely enjoy many benefits that have nothing to do with losing weight.

heart cardio
Remember, your heart is a muscle that needs work too 😉

 

 

So…get this…..

Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.  Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.

Jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer for 30 minutes can blow off tension by increasing levels of “soothing” brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. What’s fascinating, though, is that exercise may actually work on a cellular level to reverse stress’s toll on our aging process. according to a 2010 study from the University of California—San Francisco. The researchers found that stressed-out women who exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three-day period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to women who were stressed and inactive. Working out also helps keep us from ruminating “by altering blood flow to those areas in the brain involved in triggering us to relive these stressful thoughts again and again.

I wrote a post on exercise and aging… find it here….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/05/24/exercise-and-aging/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/07/24/aging-and-the-fountain-of-youth/

It can help with depression. Research suggests that burning off 350 calories three times a week through sustained, sweat-inducing activity can reduce symptoms of depression about as effectively as antidepressants. That may be because exercise appears to stimulate the growth of neurons in certain brain regions damaged by depression.

Exercise can improve our learning. Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals called growth factors, which help make new brain cells and establish new connections between brain cells to help us learn. Interestingly, complicated activities, like playing tennis or taking a dance class, provide the biggest brain boost. You’re challenging your brain even more when you have to think about coordination. Like muscles, you have to stress your brain cells to get them to grow.

It improves self-esteem and body image. You don’t need to radically change your body shape to get a confidence surge from exercise. Studies suggest that simply seeing fitness improvements, like running a faster mile or lifting more weight than before, can improve your self-esteem and body image.

It may keep Alzheimers from setting in. The Alzheimer’s Research Center touts exercise as one of the best weapons against the disease. Exercise appears to protect the hippocampus, which governs memory and spatial navigation, and is one of the first brain regions to succumb to Alzheimer’s-related damage.

Is that enough evidence for exercise?

Those are some pretty convicting reasons to exercise, right? Yet not a single one of them have to do with losing weight. The point being, exercise benefits all of our body, soul and spirit.

Exercise is a good tool to help with weight loss but as you’ve seen it offers so many more benefits to keep us healthy and whole.

It shouldn’t be viewed as something you don’t “need”. Our bodies are made for and are designed for, movement.  So many of our modern day illnesses and health issues could be helped and improved with regular consistent exercise.

What exercise has taught me

ok admittedly, a few years ago when I was an out of shape middle aged woman, I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of vigorous daily exercise. As I mentioned earlier in this post, it’s hard, and it’s really hard when you’ve been doing nothing and  then start doing “something”.

I purposefully made myself go walk each day. I dutifully walked 2 miles. I did it no matter what was going on, some days I had to fit it in at different times, but I did it.

I did it enough it turned into a new habit.  One day I got brave and actually went farther. One mile turned into another, before I knew it I was running some, and then, well the rest is history…

Exercise was certainly a good discipline tool. Those scheduled daily times on the road disciplined me to getting up and making a commitment to something.

That discipline eventually carried over into other areas of my life.

When I trained for my first marathon I learned a lot more about discipline, sacrifice, and some serious hard work. Honestly, once you run a marathon ( I actually went on to do more and eventually in 2014, a 50k) you develop the feeling and attitude you can take on the world.

I learned more about concrete goal setting, short and long term.

Exercise has built my confidence in what I can do and what I’m capable of doing.  This translates far beyond what I do on  the road.

The more I’ve grown athletically, the more I’ve seen that transfer into my daily life.

Becoming mentally strong dealing with physically activity has given me a tough mind in dealing with life.

I shared in a recent post about my yearly check up with my doctor.  My HDL ( good cholesterol ) was 75 on the lab report. It should be mentioned the highest number they had as “good” was 39. My doctor just gave me a level look and said… “it’s from all that exercise you do”.   So exercise is good for stuff like that 😉

I’ve also learned I can do some of my most creative thinking out on the road. It’s a time to process, discard, think and get clarity.

It’s taught me to get out of my head, get out of my way, so I can see what I’m made of.  I’ve learned I have strength I didn’t know I possessed, mentally and physically

Oh yeah. and somehow along the way of learning that, I lost weight and got decently fit.

So yeah, you do need to exercise

So if you’re one of the “anti-exercisers” 😉 I hope I’ve given you something different to think on.  Find something you enjoy and want to do, then commit to getting good at it. DO it often enough and frequently enough and it will turn into a habit, a good one at that.

And then, before you know it, you too will have lost some weight and be getting decently fit too.

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I love and anticipate my workouts now, physically and mentally.

 

Your turn… tell me… do you wish you didn’t “have” to exercise? Do you wish you could lose weight and get all the benefits without doing it, or are you at a place where you love it and would miss it? Have you ever considered exercise as beneficial to you in ways besides helping with weight loss?

Food And Dysfunctional Thinking

You don’t have to read to far, turn on the tv, or surf the web to see statements like this screaming at you…..

“Grains are bad for you!”, “Bread is bad for you”, “Dairy is bad for you”, ” Sugar is the devil and will kill you”, ” Starches are bad for you”, “Carbs are bad for you”, “Detox your body from poisons (bad foods)”, “Do a “cleanse” to help your body”, “You have to be hungry to lose weight”, “You can’t lose weight unless you cut out “these” foods” “You must only eat organic foods”, “You must eat only pricey beef or other foods” ( for the best health) “Skipping meals will help you lose weight”, “You need to do this “diet” to lose weight and be successful” “I ate to much yesterday so I need to workout really hard today to take away those calories” (as if)  “Gluten free!”  “Fat free!” …..

food good or bad
Truth.

 

 

Oh, I could go on but I won’t ’cause I want you to stay with me.

You get it. You’ve heard it.

So many times when I hear these things, I roll my eyes. I can’t help it, when I hear nonsense, it kinda just happens.

My mom used to yell at me when I did if for something she said… haha

What on earth has happened to us that we buy into and believe such dysfunctional  thinking with food and our bodies? Why are we made to feel bad or guilty for eating food and satisfying a natural hunger?  Why are we taught food is bad? Why do we believe foods are “bad”?  How do some learn to obsess over everything they eat and feel bad for it?  How do we develop this dysfunctional thinking ?

Worse yet, why do we follow along with an ideology or a certain camp of thinking, especially if it’s the current trendy thing to do, or our friends are doing it?

Sometimes, maybe we are a bit like sheep, eh?

First things first.

I want to address the fact that for some people, on a completely legit level, may have particular food allergies that necessitate removing particular foods. There are a small percentage of people who truly have celiac disease and have to live a gluten free life. Some may have experimented and realized maybe they feel better without certain foods than having them.

Real food issues that involve real health issues are important and need care and attention.

This is not what I’m addressing here.

Now that issue is settled….

Food isn’t bad for you.

Seriously. Food isn’t bad. Saying something is “bad” for you is  more disordered thinking of the world we live in and the lies we’ve bought into.

We’ve bought into feeling guilty over food. We’ve bought into thinking we should feel bad about what we eat. We’ve been taught we have to obsess over calories and most of all, there has to be a level of suffering involved with losing weight and how much food we get. We’ve been told if we eat, we’ll get fat so we learn to deprive ourselves and be miserable.

diet cycle
How dysfunctional thinking begins

 

 

Where has such wrong thinking come from?

Yes, many foods do not provide the best nutritional quality for your body. Having a soda over a glass of ice water is hardly a good nutritional choice. But if you only have one when you eat pizza and you have pizza maybe once a month, then it’s really not a big deal.

Daily sodas can pack on serious pounds fast, in that situation you need to assess, is that good for you ? Are sodas impacting your health.

Soda in and of itself isn’t “bad” used in moderation.  Not the best choice perhaps but not some evil thing.

Oh those carbs

I guess one of the comments I hate hearing is that “carbs” are bad for you.

I guess if we’re gonna split it out, let’s define those carbs.

Simple carbs that are found in those “not as nutritional food choices” would be carbs found in cakes, cookies, pastries, muffins, chips, fast foods, sodas, candy, sugared drinks, etc.

You should only consume those products minimally for optimal health.

Complex carbs, now those are a different creature. Fruits and veggies are loaded with complex carbs that are good energy sources for our bodies providing tons of vitamins and minerals which also helps protect against diseases, build cells, protect our vision. help our digestive system and major organs, fill us up for minimal calories, and so many offer anti-aging benefits as well.

Whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans etc also offer up a dense and nutritionally packed power punch for energy.

Sadly, these carbs are often viewed as the bad and shunned. Worse yet some “diet” plans entirely remove these food groups.

Real, natural, whole food labeled as “bad”.

Oh that sugar….

if there’s one thing that’s been heavily demonized is sugar. Again, as I mentioned, there are things we need to be mindful of in our daily diets. You shouldn’t be consuming a lot of sugar. That too, will pack on pounds if you’re eating those cookies and muffins on the daily. Don’t forget your sugary drinks you might enjoy as well.

Sugar in a modest amount isn’t “bad”.  If you have a weakness for it, then it might be that you make the choice to purposefully limit or stay away from it if it cause you to stumble in your health goals or to binge.

And fat free….

speaking of sugar, it leads me to the “fat free” thought. Get rid of fat it’s “bad” for you. Don’t eat fat.

Again like the carb lies, there are good fats and “bad” fats. Ironically, the fats that are not in your best health interest are also in many of the simple carbs I listed as well.

Years ago when the fat free rage was at it’s highest point and I was beginning to navigate the waters of health I learned a sobering truth while reading a label on some “fat free” cookies.

The calorie content was ridiculous! But why?? These were fat-free.

Listen, when you remove necessary fat from baked goods, you get essentially something that tastes like a cardboard shoebox.

To sell their product it had to have some taste so they majorly upped the sugar in their “fat free” cookies.

And the people eagerly bought into it. Because  fat free certainly must mean calorie free.

I realized if I wanted two “normal” cookies, I could do so with less calories involved. But then hey, the trend was normal cookies were “bad”.

Those other things I listed….

Cleanses and detoxes are awful for your body. Those are bad. Don’t do them. They just feed our disordered thinking on food and nutrition.

Skipping meals will not help you lose weight. You WILL be hungry and think about food all the time… so it’s a bit dysfunctional to ignore your bodies physical needs.

You cannot hit the gym the next day to “work off” food and drink from the day before. You can’t “negate what you ate”.  What you can do is get back on track with your eating and do sensible exercise. Again, more disordered thinking that we could actually lose calories we sucked recklessly in the day before.

There is no diet that is some magic wand to help you lose weight. At the end of each day, you have a calorie deficit. THAT is how you lose weight. Run away if some product or diet is making wild promises. It just isn’t true.

You don’t have to eat organic or buy meats that cost you a weeks worth of pay. For many people, it is way out of their budget to do so.  I might suggest if you started eating more fruits and veggies you’d be on the road to a healthier lifestyle and wellness. Again, we’ve been conditioned to “believe” these things by a select group.

Foods that don’t fall in those categories (organic etc)  aren’t “bad” or “robbed” of nutrients.

Could I make a radical suggestion here?

If food in general isn’t “bad”, perhaps it’s our behaviors with certain foods that are “bad”.

Perhaps we lack a level of control with certain foods. Maybe the mere taste of something pushes us to eat more. There might be foods that trigger our eating.  Maybe our emotions are what cause us to indulge in things we don’t need or eat excessively. Perhaps our mouth just wants to eat even if our stomach isn’t physically hungry.

These are behavior issues we have. The food, is what’s used to support those behaviors.

Withholding food from ourselves or over indulging in food is dysfunctional thinking. We can’t medicate with or without food.

We have to get real with ourselves and know where our weak areas are.

It has been easier in the world to make food be “bad” then it is to examine issues that cause bad behaviors with food.

The bottom line

We have to change our thinking with food and how we interact with it. We have to stop thinking of it in negative ways and look at our own behaviors with it.

If you realize you may have some struggles with how you view food or the choices you make you might consider writing those things down and then setting small goals for yourself in ways to changes those behaviors or thoughts. Perhaps you might need an accountability partner, someone who you can confide in and you could walk with you and help you with those changes.

Listen, I believe eating well the majority of the time is important to living a healthy life, having energy and looking good.

I also like cake and occasionally some French fries.  I’ve grown in my understanding and relationship with food to not have any guilt connected to it. Life is to be enjoyed and sometimes it means having fries or cake or whatever may float your boat.

There are things like alcohol, processed foods, excess sugar, and high fats ( not the good kind) that not only aren’t good for your health, but contribute to your aging process as well. Again, those should all be used cautiously.

Keeping a  healthy balance in your daily nutrition not only will keep you from dysfunctional thinking about food, but will let you have your cake and eat it too.

In moderation, of course 😉

cake

Smart Nutrition

Good nutrition. Smart nutrition. It’s a topic that comes up a lot and it’s a topic I’ve fielded not only for myself, but talking with others who desire to live a healthier lifestyle in regards to foods.

 

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Colorful foods are always healthy choices

 

Add to that, for most of us, we have busy lives and schedules and food sometimes is well, an afterthought.

There could be a tendency to grab just whatever is convenient or at hand because we’re tired or worse yet, our hunger is on full blown overdrive.

I am notorious some days for being hungry, yet feeling to lazy to make myself something. This is especially dangerous when it’s been a day I’ve trained hard and my body is wanting some good quality nutrition for all it’s work that morning.

Someone, please admit, there are days you feel like that too. Hungry yet the idea of making food or even putting something together seems like to much trouble so you just skate by.

Not ideal, I know.  There are some days I admittedly feel that way.

I’m smart enough to know my body needs proper fuel not just post workout, but also for a busy day of activities.

Yours does too.

Smart nutrition where does it start?

I’ve had friends jokingly ask if I’d follow them around and slap wrong foods out of their hands or  tell them they’ve had enough at the dinner table.

It always makes me laugh. Maybe, we all want someone like that. This tough love accountability person who snatches a donut from us or reminds us we don’t really need that big Mexican platter for lunch.  This person would simply follow us around like some muscular side kick directing our food choices.

I hate to break the news but smart nutrition, well, that starts with you.

It has to start with you because really, ultimately you are the only one making the choices.

Maybe you want to blame the co-worker for stocking piling donuts in the break room or use the reason you’re to tired to not make healthy foods so you stop at the fast food drive thru.

For example….

I’ve been helping my son at his shop this week. I ran out to do some errands for him and drove through a local fast food place for lunch to take back with me.

No. Not burgers and fries.

Although, I will admit, fries are at the top of my most favorite non- necessary food items.

However, they happen to make some amazing salads and that’s what I was after.  I love salads, not as a “diet” food but as a “healthy, nutritious good for my body” food.

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Now tell me how tasty this looks…..protein, fruit, and leafy greens

 

Eating it leaves me feeling satisifed, yet also energetic and not sluggish like I’d feel from a meal heavy in more simple carbs.  I’ve eaten like this long enough that it’s a no brainer for me to go for healthier choices.

Although… why… why can’t salads smell as good on the wind as the smell of greasy foods??? hahaha

We encounter choices each day in how we eat. There can be an endless list to reasons why we don’t make smarter, healthier choices in our nutrition each day.

But when it comes down to what we put in our mouths, no one is standing there shoveling it in but us.

We are responsible for our own nutrition, good or bad.

Well where do I start?

No one understands better than I do that you just don’t magically develop good nutritional habits over night.

You just don’t.

You don’t undo or change a life time or years of eating certain ways without some determination and discipline to see it through. If you’re reading this I may assume you are wanting to eat nutritionally smarter.

Getting started requires a bit of a mental shift in your thinking. The foods or snacks you reach for. Your beverage choices. How much you eat. When you eat. It all takes some time and planning.

Oh yeah… planning helps. Some tips and tricks…

we live busy lives.  Planning somewhat is crucial to success in developing smart nutrition habits.

Sitting down and thinking about meals and snacks and ingredients needed when you aren’t hungry is the best place to start. Once you’ve developed a plan and utilized it for awhile you won’t have to think so much about what you’re doing.

Consider your lifestyle. Do you work? Do you need healthy easy meals that won’t take much time to prepare or could be prepped in advance? Crock pots and one pan dinners are at the top of my healthy recipe ideas. If you need creative ideas, Pinterest is loaded with them.

You would need to consider your work meals. Maybe you don’t take a lunch but really, it’s the best way to ensure you are eating foods that you’ve chosen and aren’t going to be subject to grabbing whatever is easy in the work cafeteria.

Food prep. Ok I’m not really into that. I know what I like and what works for me so I don’t make containers of food to keep in ‘fridge.  I’m also at home so it’s easy enough for me to make my meals based on what I want.

However, making and prepping things like fruits and veggies in advance will make it easier to grab it for lunch or to make up a easy salad if you don’t have to chop a lot of stuff, I sometimes will buy already cut and prepped veggies because I appreciate the convenience of it ( like broccoli )

Hard boiled eggs, cheese cubes, or sliced lean meats will make lunch prep quick and easy.

Try to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. ( fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc) the more colorful, the better.

Cheetos don’t count by the way 😉

Learning to swap out high calorie or less nutritious foods is another way to being smart in making a healthy change. For example, swapping chips for crunchy veggies with ranch dip made with Greek yogurt is a way to not only cut calories, you get a little protein in with the yogurt. Greek yogurt is very high in protein and all I eat now days. I buy the non-fat plain and add my own fruit, nuts etc. or use it as a base for dips and cooking that requires sour cream.

Don’t forget your drinks. Sugary drinks contribute to your daily calories and are not a part of a smart nutrition plan.

In conclusion….

becoming smarter in nutritional choices takes time. Don’t get discouraged if you make choices you think you’ve “failed” in.

Really, an awareness shows you that you are trying and are aware of choices so that’s a good thing!

Take each day at a time, try to make wise choices in that day, celebrate your victories and learn from your mistakes.

Each day makes you smarter in your nutrition habits and leads to a healthier body and lifestyle.

Tell me… what tips or ideas work for you in regards to smart nutrition ?