Thursday, July 30, 2015

The book that changed my life...literally

Sitting on the back porch I’m basking in the thrill of freedom and success. No more papers, no more homework, a 3.7 GPA and a master’s degree in Exercise Science & Health Promotion. It’s the calm after the storm. The beauty in the sunrise. The silver lining. [Insert all weather-related metaphors here].

In the 2 weeks since submitting my final final, I’ve signed on for another year of full-time consulting work, been invited to be a guest speaker at a women’s networking luncheon and spent a lot of time reflecting. 12 months seemed like a lifetime of sacrifice when I started – now I think of those same 12 months as my launching pad. The contract is a reward for a risk well taken.

We’re taught to play it safe and not take risks, 
and to caution everyone around us to follow suit.
~ Jen Sincero

I knew it was time to make a change. My passion has always been helping people improve their lives. But my purpose is to inspire change and healthy lifestyle habits. To do that I knew had to DO IT. But HOW? Was 35 too late to even try? Then I realized that once something moves from our brains to our bones, that’s when we can use it to change our lives.

During this battle of comfort zones (stay in it vs. take a chance), I stumbled across an amazing book: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. I devoured it – literally - reading it on my lunch break every day. With a highlighter and post-its.

Jen doesn’t sugarcoat the blunt realities “this shit is not for sissies” and “you have to keep the faith, always, even when your ass is on the line”.  She also points out quite eloquently that “There’s nothing as unstoppable as a freight train full of f*#k-yeah”.

It’s a laugh-out-loud, insightful book for anyone with a sense of humor and a fire for finding success – in health, in faith, in family, in career. She discusses the past worth forgetting, the excuses to throw out and the experiences to embrace. 

On family dynamics: “It’s not your fault you’re f*#ked up. It’s your fault if you stay f*#ked up.”

On friendships: “Get out there and find people who make you feel like you can leap tall building in a single bound. Be clear on whom you want t o meet and make a concerted effort to go meet them. Your life is a party. You get to choose how you invite people and experiences and things into it.”

On forgiveness: “You have screwed up in the past. You will screw up again. You aren’t a better person for feeling guilty or bad about yourself, just a sadder one.”

On faith: “Faith smothers your fear of the unknown. Faith allows you to take risks. Faith is the stuff of 'leap and the net will appear'. This is about your faith being bigger than your fear.”

On fear: “It’s so simple; fear will always be there, poised and ready to wreak havoc, but we can choose whether we’re going to engage with it or turn on the lights , drown it out and crawl past it.”  

On self-love: “Incessant self-deprecating humor is for losers. Receive compliments gracefully instead of countering with a disclaimer such as, ‘Oh, this ratty old thing?’”\

On what others think: “The trick is to not only deny the criticism any power over you, but even more challenging, to not get caught up in the praise. There’s nothing wrong with blushingly accepting a compliment, but if you find yourself always seeking outside approval that you’re good enough or cool enough or talented enough or worthy enough, you’re screwed."

On YOU: “You are kind of a big deal.” And you ARE!

You can find You Are a Badass on Amazon. It’s in airport gift shops (I know, because I saw it Monday), there’s a Kindle version, an Audible and an MP3 CD…no excuses with all those choices.

If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way.
If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.
~J. Sincero

PS: I should probably add a disclaimer that I am in no way receiving any benefit from this review or post. In fact, Ms. Sincero & her publishing company have no idea that I am sharing this – and I hope that it’s ok with them!

Friday, July 17, 2015

My Favorite Fitness Apps

Starting a new fitness program can be challenging and overwhelming.  Take a breath, find your center and relax.  To be successful, there only 4 things you need. 6 if you count patience and persistence.
  1. A S.M.A.R.T. goal to work towards,
  2. a plan or road map,
  3. a diary or journal,
  4. and a Heart Rate monitor (I use a simple Polar FT1).
You don't need a gym membership or fancy weights - you can walk, run, and do pushups, sit ups and squats right in your living room!

64% of adults in the US have a smartphone.  If you are one of them, here are 3 apps (click on them to link to the Apple store on your device) that I recommend. These are great for anyone starting their journey or looking for ways to streamline their current one.

1.  MyFitnessPal - for food tracking, exercise tracking and journaling. It's all in one handy-dandy application, right on your phone. 

To accurately track the calorie burn from your exercise, though, it is important to know and understand intensity level. This is something this app does not take into account, so you will need to adjust your caloric burn to track more accurately. 

2 great examples: 28 minutes of strength training in MyFitnessPal shows 98 calorie deficit, but last week I bumped up the intensity of my routine—burning an astounding 228 calories.

A 45-minute Spin® in MyFitnessPal gives me a calorie burn of 370. I kept it moderate intensity and only burned 315.

How do I know all this?...I used my heart rate monitor and my 2nd app recommendation.....

2.  Calories Burned by Heart Rate.  There's a formula for determining accurate calorie burn that takes into consideration age, weight, exercise time and heart rate. 

I talk about it more here and it looks like this:
Male: ((-55.0969 + (0.6309 x HR) + (0.1988 x W) + (0.2017 x A))/4.184) x 60 x T
Female: ((-20.4022 + (0.4472 x HR) - (0.1263 x W) + (0.074 x A))/4.184) x 60 x T

What the what now?

With the Cals Burned app you enter all of the above. It generates a number - and that is what you should enter into MyFitnessPal for an accurate reading. 

If you aren't using MyFitnessPal it's still a great tool to understand how much you are actually burning vs. what you think you are burning.  (Warning: It will probably be less)

3.  Nike+ Pro Training* On the run and in need of a 10, 15 or 45 minute workout that will torch some serious calories? Are you looking for a 4 week personalized roadmap to help you reach your S.M.A.R.T goal(s)? 

This app does all that, for all levels. 

Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced.  Whether looking to get lean, get toned or get can find it all here.  And for FREE no less. 

*As with all exercise programs, please consult with your doctor before following one of these programs and be sure to watch your form.  Maintain the intensity level appropriate for your level of fitness.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Have a more productive & stress-free day!

  • Start your day with hot water and lemon. You can add a light tea if you would like(pictured above). Lemon water first thing in the morning (before breakfast) is calming and prepares your body for the day by balancing pH levels, nourishing brain and nerve cells and aiding in digestion for the rest of the day. If you don’t have any fresh lemons handy try a few drops of lemon essential oils or some Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Set the alarm for 30 minutes earlier. More time in the morning means more time to devote to your new routine. If you have kids or a significant other to get ready in the morning, wake before they do.

  • Skip the electronics for at least one hour. Resist the urge to check your email, log online for the latest news story and to check your social media accounts. They will all be there an hour from now.  

  • Engage your mind. Listen to or read a book or devotional. Meditate. Enjoy a (paper) crossword or Sudoku puzzle. Practice yoga. The key is to engage mind and body while staying disconnected from the outside world.

  • Eat a nutritious breakfast. Whether it’s whole-grain cereal, Greek yogurt and fruit, eggs or a smoothie —take time to eat breakfast. It’s jumpstarts metabolism and balances your blood sugar—keeping you from crashing later.

  • Take time to polish your looks. Maybe that means showering & shaving the night before or minimalizing your make-up routine. When you look put together, you feel put together and your mood improves.

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