Tag Archive | Fitness

Kicking off 2015…Better late than never!

Haha well so much for writing a post to kick off the new year!  I have to say, I take my hat off to those who work full-time, juggle a social life/family/relationship, AND blog regularly.  I know that part of it is really just making a mental commitment to posting, just like I make a mental commitment to get to the gym 4-5 days a week.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

Okay, so let me try to get back on track by re-capping a few things since my last post (nearly 3 months ago…Ahhh!). Pardon me while I spew random thoughts:

  • Work is going great. I may have mentioned before, but I handle admissions/business operations for a

    Caribbean-based medical school. I absolutely LOVE working with the students, especially when we get to have random chats via email on occasion. I had previously considered (and was accepted to) medical school, so I have a big interest in the ins-and-outs of it. Not to mention, I’m currently dating a 3rd year resident, so I have learned lots about how things work AFTER med school. Which brings me to my next thought…

  • I’ve been dating someone for going on four months now, and since I’ve been single most of my adult life, it’s been interesting to find my own personal balance being in a

    relationship. When you’re single, you’re the only person you have to factor on a daily basis. You don’t have to think about someone else’s feelings or schedule…BUT you also don’t get to experience the awesomeness that can come with sharing your life with someone who truly cares for you. Let me tell you, it is SO DIFFERENT when you are with someone who treats you like a real partner in life. This guy is really nothing short of amazing…and his dedication and passion for his career are so inspiring. It takes effort to make things work, of course…learning how to communicate, balancing busy schedules, figuring out what someone needs when they are stressed, figuring out how to talk about what you need, etc…but that’s kind of the fun part, in my opinion.

  • Speaking of busy schedules, I’ve also stared a Six Sigma management certification course. Basically, it focuses on process improvements, and reducing cost and waste in business. Really good stu
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    Source: My Instagram hahah

    ff for business management whether it’s running your own business or being part of running someone else’s. Since the bf is studying intensely for his board certification exam, it’s perfect timing for me to be busy with this 🙂

  • In terms of diet/exercise, thankfully that hasn’t fallen off with the new relationship. I’m still getting to the gym at least 4 days most weeks and have been maintaining my strength. I have to say the most improvement lately has come from some small tweaks in my diet. Mainly, drinking more herbal tea, increasing veggie intake, and doing more vegetarian options. The herbal tea has helped keep my water intake up during the cold months, since I don’t always feel like chugging cold water when it’s 20 below with the wind chill, haha. And I’ve been adding lots of chickpeas and beans to my diet instead of always going for chicken. I’ll have to share some cool winter salad combos I’ve been coming up with!

Soooo, yeah! Those are a few things that have been going on in my life. Better late than never, right?!  (Actually, my motto is usually better never than late, hahaha I’m BIG on punctuality!).

But, it’s been a reminder that we are all human and can’t be perfect in all areas of our life at all times. I’ll leave off with a quote I remember from “Eat, Pray, Love:”

To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life. -Elizabeth Gilbert

Ciao for now!

-E

Temperature Update!

Well, today will be partly cloudy in NY with a high of 41 degrees F…

Just kidding!! Actually, sadly, I’m not…spring has not sprung here apparently, but this post is not about the weather. I owe you guys an update about my coconut oil experiment!

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I’ll be honest, I dragged my feet on this one because I was hoping to report glorious rising temperatures in the 98 degree range…unfortunately, I haven’t broken my 97.9 degree record and have been averaging about 97.3. I’ve still been going grain/gluten free, and the only other change that I can say I had since I started the coconut experiment is that I cut back on weight training (and the gym in general) after a head cold and daylight savings kicked my butt. So of course, less activity could have affected the body temperature, but I’m still a little bummed that I don’t have more exciting news on the temperature front.

HOWEVER, I will say that I’ve noticed lots of other positives:

  • Clearer and more radiant complexion (a few people told me I was glowing!)
  • Better digestion and, ahem, regularity
  • Less cravings, particularly for sugary snacks
  • More energy during workouts
  • Faster recovery from strenuous weight lifting…particularly leg daycoconut_spr03_310

So, it’s safe to say that I’ve noticed enough benefits to keep making coconut oil a part of my daily diet…especially now that I’m hooked on Liquid Armor Coffee (my own version of the Bulletproof® Coffee that’s been getting so much hype). I named mine Liquid Armor because evidently the company demands that you use a ® symbol when speaking about “Bulletproof® Coffee” because it’s a specific recipe using specific (and overpriced/over-hyped IMO) beans. Anyyyyywayyyy, this is just a lil teaser of a future recipe for my own Liquid Armor Coffee that will be delightful to both your tummies and wallets 🙂 Stay tuned!

Ciao for now!

-E

Do You Even S T R E T C H ?

Alright, confession time…how often do you hard gainers, iron pumpers, and cross fitters actually stretch? I mean, consistently and thoroughly stretch?

If you’re like me, your answer will be “meh, not much.” And in my own head, I’ve kind of rationalized this by coming up with a myriad of excuses. For example: I don’t have time; I don’t feel like taking time; It’s boring; I forget; How much difference will it really make with my workouts?; etc…

What if stretching could actually help you gain more muscle?? That’s right! I recently read an article, How Stretching Can Explode Your Muscle Growth by Nick Nilsson, VP, BetterU, Inc, which mentions the critical role of stretching in building muscle.

Now, I learned in my massage therapy training that every muscle in your body is enclosed by tough connective tissue known as fascia. And it’s pretty common knowledge that fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper place in your body. BUT, Nilsson proposes, your fascia may also be holding back your muscle growth.

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“Because fascia is so tough, it doesn’t allow the muscle room to expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won’t change regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is constricting the muscles within. The best example of this is the calf muscle. The lower leg is riddled with fascia because of its tremendous weight-bearing duties in the body. It is because of this fascia that many trainers have great difficulty developing their calves.

Using the pillowcase example above, imagine you can expand the size of the pillowcase by stretching it. Suddenly, the pillow within has more room and will expand to fill that new space.”

Anyone else having the same lightbulb moment that I had?

Nilsson goes on to mention that there are actually ideal conditions in which to stretch your muscles so that you can maximize fascial stretch and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

“The key to effective fascial stretching is the pump. The best time to stretch to expand the bags that are holding in your muscles is when your muscles are pumped up full of blood. When your muscles are fully pumped up, they are pressing against the fascia. By stretching hard at that time, you increase that pressure on the fascia greatly, which can lead to expansion of the fascia.”

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You’ll know you are engaging the fascia when you feel a powerful pulling sensation and pressure as the muscle works against the fascia to expand it. Just be careful not to stretch so hard that you hurt yourself…you should not feel any sharp pain, just a steady pull.

You can find instructions for stretching at: http://www.fitstep.com/Library/Info/Stretching1.htm

“Hold each stretch for at least 20 to 30 seconds as you must give your fascia time to be affected by the stretch. Stretch hard like this only when you have a fully pumped muscle as you must give your fascia a reason to expand. If your muscles aren’t pumped, just stretch normally.”

Ciao for now,

-E

Honey, Aww Sugar Sugar

Due to the craziness that is the holiday season, I’ve been slacking a bit on blogging. Last week I did a bit of a cop-out and re-blogged a post, but I cut myself some slack since it was such a well-written piece. If you missed it, check it out here.

Anyway, I thought that since we are in the thick of the season of sugary indulgences (and you thought it was just about presents! Ha!), we should talk about our friend (and I use that term VERY loosely): SUGAR.

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Looks delicious, right! Everything in moderation 🙂

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The holidays tend to be the sweetest time of the year –candy, cookies, cocktails, and pie…oh my!), and all of those sweet little treats we consume during the holidays might taste great – but the damage they do when consumed in excess is becoming a serious issue. Sugar-related problems range from depression to mood swings to hyperactivity and chronic fatigue. Even worse are such disorders as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

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Now, I’m not saying that you should switch over to artificial sweeteners because, as I mentioned in one of my first posts, those are even worse for you! And I’m also not saying to pass up Aunt Mary’s signature holiday brownies or Mom’s homemade apple pie if you truly enjoy eating them.

What I am saying is:

  • Don’t forget to eat a balance of nutritious, whole foods along with a few holiday sweets.
  • Stay on track with your fitness routine as much as possible. Not only will it keep you fit, it can keep you sane!
  • Get plenty of sleep! Lack of it = increased cortisol, less sensitivity to insulin, & more cravings for sweets.
  • Stay hydrated. No elaborate explanation here. Just do it. Water is good for you.
  • Don’t under-eat in anticipation of a holiday party/get-together. When you try to ‘save’ your calories for a party, you are more likely to overeat and go for high carb/high sugar options.
  • Eat mindfully. Savor the taste and texture of each bite, and you won’t need a bunch to feel satisfied.
  • Don’t have an “all or nothing” mentality. Allow yourself to eat and ENJOY some holiday treats, and you’ll be less likely to throw in the towel and eat a whole pan of brownies just because you indulged in one or two. Remember, it takes 3500 extra calories to gain one pound, so a few treats at the holidays really won’t affect you in the grand scheme of things

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Most importantly, while our holiday gatherings do tend to be centered around food and drinks, I like to focus on the joy of the season. I love getting together with family and friends and celebrating that we get to be together. Plus, the more you’re talking with family and friends, the less you’ll be shoveling food into your mouth mindlessly…unless you talk with your mouth full, which of course, you don’t ;-P

If you guys have any tips on how you stay healthy during the holidays, I’d love to hear them!

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Kwanza, etc…Wishing you all the happiest of holidays ❤

Ciao for now!

-E

You’re An Animal!

Despite having several kick a** gym sessions this week, I’ve been feeling a bit “meh” about my progress. I know I’ve been consistent with training, and have been eating fairly clean (but I don’t count calories or limit myself to treats like wine or chocolate…because well, they make me happy! haha) So it’s really for no particular reason that I don’t feel as ripped as I normally feel after a gym session.

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The reason I’m sharing this is because I know there are readers out there who will totally relate to this nonsensical feeling of “meh.” And I’m sure there are ways to be scientific about figuring out why…food diaries, cutting out treats, etc…but honestly, I don’t want to be that rigid because I don’t think it’s good for my mental health.

That being said, I got up at 5:30 this morning, as I usually do, and headed to the gym. Today was mainly shoulders and I focused on how many more reps I am able to do now, and with more weights than when I started weight training. I finished up with some ab work and bumped into a friend I knew at the gym and he was like “Wow, I was watching some of your moves you were doing earlier…You’re an animal! Keep up the great work!”

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It felt great to hear the positive reinforcement, and it just goes to show you that sometimes we can be our own worst critic. We see ourselves every day, and it can be difficult to notice the changes that others are seeing that are the result of our hard work. Never mind the fact that the most important changes are likely happening on the inside!

Having an off-day? An off-week? Push through. Don’t quit. Hard work always pays off, even if there are days where you can’t see it in the mirror. Be kind to yourself…after all, you’re an animal! 😉

Ciao for now!

 -E

Awaken Your Inner Tiger

When we all have to balance work, family, errands, laundry, and trying to have some sort of social life, it can be challenging to get yourself to the gym. And it can be especially difficult to stay motivated if you’ve been logging in the hours but not seeing progress as quickly as you had hoped.

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On days like this you’ve got to dig deep and awaken your inner tiger, so to speak.

Motivational quotes always do it for me (those who know me know I always recite them, haha). So I’m going to share a few of my favorites to help keep you going through the mid-week hurdle…And if you haven’t gotten going yet this week, hopefully these light a fire under your tushy!

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I love this one (I touched on this topic in last week’s post).  On days where I’m just not feeling up to working out, I think about people who have loftier fitness goals…who maybe are just getting started and haven’t yet hit a stride…who are recovering from an injury…or who are struggling with depression or anxiety, making it hard for them to get out of bed.  Some days, when I do my workout, it’s for those people who may need an extra boost to get going.

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Another fantastic one.  So many times we sabotage ourselves by saying things like, “well, since I can’t do an 60 or 90 minute workout, it’s just not worth it.”  Or “I have so far to go…what’s the point?”  The point is, every little bit you do adds up. Success is a journey, not a destination (see, another quote…I just can’t help myself! haha). A friend of mine who was recently struggling with getting back on track finally had an Ahah! moment and she said to me just yesterday, “Taking it one day at a time.. My goal is to merely feel good; I am not focusing on the distance.” I was beaming because I know this is the mindset that will turn things around for her 🙂

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I am reminded of this quote almost every time I step in the gym.  Yes, there are people there who are real powerhouses…strong as an ox.  It’s impressive of course, but just as much as they inspire me, so do the people who I see consistently…week after week.  It doesn’t matter where they are on their journey or how far they have to go…what matters is their will and commitment to getting there, and THAT is inspiring.

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YES, YES, YESSSSS!  This is the difference between looking in the mirror and seeing a kitten…or a tiger!  If you think negatively or lack belief in yourself, it will hold you back…in life, and with your fitness goals.  But if you believe that deep inside you is a strong, fit, capable person, then that my friend is what you will become!

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Is your goal to lose 50 pounds? 20 pounds? 5 pounds?  Do you want to gain 20 pounds of muscle? 10 pounds?  Training for a marathon?  No matter where you’re going, or how long it will take you to get there, it starts with lacing up those sneakers and taking the first step. If you’re just starting out or just getting back into it, you may have to start slow.  Do what you can, and remind yourself that this is just a jumping off point, and you’ll get better and better every day.

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And finally, once you get started, don’t quit.  Remember why you started in the first place. It’s about feeling good, being healthier, and living better. Motivation is what gets you started, but habit is what keeps you going. (Yep just packed in a few more quotes for you!)

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I hope this gets you going or keeps you going this week! xox

Ciao for now!

-E

Paying It Forward

Recently, a dear friend of mine (who I didn’t even realize was reading my blogs) reached out to me and candidly and bravely confessed that she had been feeling at rock bottom. Down and out, stressed, not taking care of her health (physical and mental), and just not feeling her usually cheerful and awesome self. It broke my heart but also really inspired me because so many of us can be prideful when we are feeling down…we think no one will understand, we don’t want to burden others with our problems…What we often forget is that almost everyone feels this way at one point or another. And I think that it’s our duty as human beings to lift others up when we are feeling strong and positive, because we never know when WE might need some lifting up.

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Take yesterday for example. I took Sunday off from the gym (which I rarely do…I prefer taking rest days during the week) and woke up Monday on the wrong side of the bed. I didn’t go for my usual morning workout, just felt “off” all day, and kind of in a funk.  My friends who follow astrology were posing on Facebook about Mercury being in retrograde, and apparently that can lead to this type of stuff…who knows, haha, but it sounds good.

Anyway, amidst my funky mood, I received the most awesome message from that same friend of mine I mentioned above…She was proudly reporting that she’s been hitting the gym, found a workout buddy, and has been practicing some really great self-care. I mean, wow, if that’s not inspiring I don’t know what is. It takes guts to 1. ask for help/encouragement and 2. actually take the steps to pull yourself out of a rut.

What this friend of mine didn’t know is that SHE was my source of inspiration yesterday. After a long day of work and feeling really blah, I didn’t really feel like working out. I was kind of in the mood to do some self-loathing (lame, but it happens to the best of us, haha), but then I thought of my friend, and how proud of her I was that she dug deep for the motivation to get herself back on track…and I dragged my grouchy butt to the gym!

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While I marched on the StairMaster and slung some weights around, I thought of her and how she feels on days where she doesn’t feel up to working out, but she does it anyway. And when I got up this morning and resumed my morning workout, I looked around at all of the other people who got themselves out of bed to do something positive for their health, and I was so inspired.

On days where we’re feeling upbeat, strong, and capable, we have the opportunity to lift someone else up who might be feeling down that day. And in turn, we may inspire them to do the same when they get back on track.

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ― John Holmes

Ciao for now!

-E