Just Live Mindfully


Category: Fitness

What Do I Do?

There are so many options out there for getting healthy – weight loss programs, intermittent fasting, coaching that includes food, coaching that doesn’t include food, going vegan, going gluten-free, going dairy free…

Do you feel like you want to scream yet?

I certainly did when I first started my journey.  Everyone was telling me to do this or do that or that I had to stop this and start that.  I tried being a vegan for awhile but that didn’t stick.  I backed down a bit and tried to live like a pescatarian.  That was good, but I still craved a burger every now and then.  Then I tried cutting out all bread, pasta, pastries, basically anything with wheat.  That worked, but for lunches a sandwich was my go-to.   It was all so freakin’ confusing!

Those people that were telling me what to do were not doctors and not experts.  At least they were not experts in ME.  The people telling me what to do did not ask me any questions about me, my situation, my allergies or my emotions regarding food, fitness and body image.  What I finally did was stop.  I stopped listening to everyone else and started listening to what my intuition was telling me.  And I started listening to my body.  I started paying attention to how my body reacted when I ate something and started experimenting with my diet.  I was determined to find out what was right for me.

Looking back, I wish someone had told me to do that much,  much earlier because it would have helped me decide what was right for me sooner.  What fires me up so much about this topic is that we live in a society that makes us feel as though we are not making the right choices or not good enough if we go against the grain.  It’s not fun to have peer pressure and it may not healthy to always follow the crowd.

As a health coach, I’m not here to tell you what to do.  I’m here to help you decide what is right for you.  During my client sessions, I make suggestions and recommendations but will never give you a “one way or the highway” way of thinking regarding food and fitness.  However, what I will do is recommend that you try different things, keep a food journal, listen to your body and make the decisions that work for YOU.  I will also offer you science-based information and my own experience to help you make an educated decision.  And I most certainly will tell you to make baby steps and live by an 80/20 rule.

So what do you do? Don’t be scared, don’t feel confused and don’t feel like you’re hitting a wall.  If you’re stuck on what to do with your diet, reach out, listen to what’s calling you, experiment again and again and THEN decide for yourself.  Ultimately, only you can make the choices because only you can choose the best options for yourself.

I Was Healthier When…

Have you ever said this statement to yourself before?  “I was healthier when…”  I have and after a lot of thought, I’m able to finish the sentence.  My sentence goes like this…

I was healthier when I worked closer to home.

It doesn’t sound like the most profound statement, but for me it’s true.  I’ve noticed over the past few years that the distance I have to travel to work takes a toll on me.  It takes a toll on a lot of things in my life, but especially my weight.  When I worked closer to home, I had more time in the day to prep meals, fit in a good workout and still have time to spend with my family.  All three of these factors can help your weight stay where you want it to be.  For me, I know they all helped.

So what did I do about it?  It took me a few years, but I finally decided to make a change.  I’ve decided to move things around and find opportunities closer to home.  This change might sound big, but for me, it was necessary.  I needed to make this change for my family, for my sanity and for my health.  And I’m happier for it.  Now, I get to fit my fitness in every morning, I get to prep my meals on Sundays and I get to spend time with my family more.  The change has been so worth it.

Here’s my challenge to you. Finish this statement:

I was healthier when _________________________.

Spend some time thinking about this statement and journal what comes to mind.  For you, it might not be your work that’s affecting your health.  Instead it might be your lack of creativity, it might be that your accountability partner moved away or it might be the fact that you’ve given up.  Regardless of what it is, once you figure out what it is, make a plan to correct it and get YOU back.  If you need help, reach out.  We all have our struggles, including me, and sometimes another ear is what you need…

5 Myths About Exercise

Ever heard the phrase “Feel the Burn”?  Yup, I remember hearing that [A LOT!] when I first started working out.  I thought it meant that I had to feel the burn in order to see results.  Well, guess what…I was wrong.

Prevention Magazine recently did an article all about exercise myths and I just had to read.  I learned about these myths a long ago, but the reminder is always nice.  Sometimes we get caught up in things we hear in the media and just believe them to be true.  Like the saying “If I read it on the internet, it must be true.”  I’m not so sure about that whole internet saying.  I mean, not everything is true, right?  Hello, fake news!

To help you get a better feel for what’s true and what’s not, let’s go through the myths in the Prevention Magazine article one at a time.

Myth #1 – No pain, no gain.

If you’re experiencing pain either during or after a workout, it’s not a good thing.  True pain is different than muscle soreness.  Pain is our body telling us that we need to take a break.  Muscle soreness is a normal part of a good workout and is how our body grows stronger muscles.  If you’re hearing this phrase from a trainer, get a new one.  One that knows the body.  And if you’re experiencing true pain, you may want to see your physician.

Myth #2 – You can slim your belly with crunches.

Ummm, nope.  I’ve tried.  Doing crunches will strengthen your ab muscles, but it won’t necessarily help you burn the fat just in your abdomen.  That’s because you can’t target weight loss to one particular area of the body.  The real key to losing belly fat is through nutrition.  I’ve learned that weight loss is 20% exercise and 80% diet.  If you really want to lose your belly, take a hard look at your nutrition.  If you need help deciding what’s right for you, contact me and we can work together to make a plan.

Myth #3 – To see results, your workout has to be an hour long.

Another myth that I always thought was true.  I’ve done both long workouts and short workouts and both give me great results.  However, there’s just one problem.  Long workouts can be really long!  If you’re like me, you’ve got a ton of things going on and a shorter workout is better for you.  If you’re looking to get some time back, but still fit in nutrition, try a shorter, more vigorous exercise like high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Myth #4 – Doing static stretches before exercise can help prevent injuries.

The truth is, static stretches, or long, slow stretches, can actually do more harm than good.  Static stretches don’t necessarily help warm up the body and warming the muscles is really want you need for a good workout.  Instead, try dynamic stretches.  These involve movement while doing the stretch.  Think of a lunge with small pulses.  According to the article, the dynamic stretches are spot on if they mimic your actual workout, just at a lower intensity.

Myth #5 – Strength training is better than cardio if you’re trying to lose weight.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love strength training but I wouldn’t necessarily use the word better when comparing it to cardio.  The article indicates that cardiovascular exercise burns more calories per minute than strength training and while this is true, I don’t think you should do solely one or the other.  I recommend incorporating interval training of some sort because it will increase your heart rate, keep the body confused and you’ll get in both cardio and strength training.  My favorite workout that does just this is P90X3 – it has cardio, strength training and is short.  For me, it’s the best of all worlds.

Now that we’ve gone through the myths, is there anything that surprises you? Or is there another myth that wasn’t mentioned in the article?  Share your thoughts below.  And remember, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.


Looking for health and wellness vendors?

Yesterday I was able to participate in an event north of Boston and let me tell you, it was amazing!  The event was the Health and Wellness Fall 2017 Show and there was all types of organizations there.  From meditation and relaxation, to nutrition and healthy eating to physical fitness.  Each organization had something different to offer and although I was there representing Just Live Mindfully, I got a chance to interact with a few. There were that stood out for me and I wanted to showcase them today.

The first was my neighbor – Wicked Healthy Vending.  They are exactly what the name says, healthier options offered in a vending machine.  So cool, right?  I think their concept is great because when you’re on the go, you want something quick and is easy to access but sometimes, healthier options aren’t always available.  That’s where Wicked Healthy Vending comes in.  They offer both beverages and snacks and at yesterday’s event had some of my favorites!  Think Simply Lemonade, Polar Seltzer, Clif Bars, Kind Bars and Food Should Taste Good products.  Tina, the founder and CEO was so kind and you could tell genuinely loved being able to offer healthier options to people on the go.  They’re already in a number of corporations and growing.  If you’re in the market for this kind of service, I would highly recommend Tina and her team.

Next, I connected with a couple of lovely ladies from Curves in Topsfield, MA.  Karen and Meg were terrific!  Full of energy and you could tell they loved what they did!  If you don’t know about Curves, let me tell you about it.  Curves is a a place to get in a quick 30-minute workout that involves cardio and strength training.  I used to go to a Curves with my mom and honestly loved it!  Keep in mind, that was years ago!  But today they’re so much more than just the 30-minute workout.  Curves has classes from Jillian Michaels to boxing to balance and even more.  And I love the fact that Curves is specifically designed for women of any age and any body size.  You can feel comfortable at Curves because of the support system that you can sense the minute you walk in the door.  I can attest to that…especially after meeting Karen and Meg.  If you’re looking for a gym that can give you a complete solution, and live in the Topsfield area, definitely check Curves out.

The third company I had a chance to interact with was LizzyJays.  They offer a variety of cold pressed juices and cleanses.

If you haven’t had a cold pressed juice, you really don’t know what you’re missing.  It’s a great way to get in your veggies without having to eat a ton of food.  I personally love to get my veggies in this way and I find when I have a cold pressed juice, almost immediately I find a surge in energy.  It’s amazing!  I was able to meet Steve, the VP of Sales, and was able to taste the Crisp Greens.  It was delicious and Steve was great in explaining the story behind the company.  Having found there weren’t many options available to eat and drink raw, live-energy foods, the founder Casey Sabol, began juicing.  While juicing is becoming more and more mainstream, the quality of ingredients is what’s important.  My favorite part is that LizzyJays even ships direct to you!  For me, that’s a win-win!  Definitely check them out and see what juicing can do for you!

These three weren’t the only vendors at the Health and Wellness Fall 2017 Show yesterday, but they were the three that I connected with.  And that connection is what’s important at these types of events.  Each person’s health and wellness journey is different and unique and as such, you have to seek out the companies that will work for you.

If you were at the Show yesterday, I’d love to hear about your experience!  What companies did you stop by?  What was your biggest takeaway?  And what actions do you plan to put into play for your health and wellness journey?

An Asthmatic’s Accomplishment

This weekend we’re traveling…again.  But we always try to make it fun.  So we decided to go to Bushkills Falls in Pennsylvania.

We both love hiking and thought it would be a perfect thing to do before we check into our hotel room.  We had never been there before but my husband’s boss said “Go right, there’s less stairs.”  Well, as we’re always up for a challenge, we went left.

Here’s the map of the trails.  Number 3 is the Top of the Main Falls and is pretty much your starting point.  We took the red route.  let me tell you, lots of stairs going down.  But what I didn’t realize until later is that would mean a lot of stairs going up.  As we got to Number 7 – the View of the Lower Gorge – we decided to keep going along this route.  There was a sign that basically said to turn around if you weren’t an experienced hiker.  We consider ourselves fairly experienced so kept going.  This is when I realized I left my Pro Air at home.

Now, this might be an asthmatic’s worst nightmare.  And I’m not going to lie, I was little nervous.  But mind over matter, right?  And I wasn’t going to tell my husband.  I kept going.  There was a part on the Bridal Falls Trail that made me huff and puff a bit, but I went slow and paid attention to my breathing.  “In through the nose and out through the mouth.”  I even had to stop a few times and catch my breath, but I knew I could keep going.  I kept telling myself I could do it.  And if I didn’t keep going, I would have missed out on views like this:

Gorgeous, right?

So what’s the moral to my story?  Being out in nature can make you have a different mindset and having a different mindset can push you to a point that you think you may not have been able to get to.  Another piece of the puzzle is believing in yourself because this is half the battle when it comes to facing something tough.  Despite not having my inhaler with me, I knew there would be a way to counteract my fears and have a great day.

I don’t know how many stairs we climbed, but I know it was a lot.  And at the end of the day, I felt so proud of myself.  For a lot of reasons…

One – I was able to have a successful hike without having an asthma attack.  The focus on my breathing helped tremendously!

Two – I found I didn’t even need my Pro Air.  If you asked me to do a hike without my inhaler 10 year ago, I would have said “No way, Jose”.

Three – I’ve found a way of life where I don’t have to be dependent on medications.  By changing my diet and increasing my physical activity, I’ve been able to find a life where I can live independently.

Sounds easy, right?  Not so much.  It has taken a lot of learning (about myself and how food affects the body), time and patience and encouragement from the members of my tribe.  I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs too.  But I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.  Ready and willing to take on life, head on!  So asthma-free living, I’m coming for ya, whether you’re ready for me or not.

Is Vacation Mode Good or Bad?

While I’ve been on vacation, I’ve noticed something about the way I feel.  Yes, I’m calm and relaxed and I’m having fun, but my body is not in love with Island Time.  Let’s just say, my stomach has been in knots for two days now.  I’ve been trying to figure out if I hate something that didn’t agree with me or if I drank something I wasn’t in love with, and I think I figured it out.  But even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to make myself well again instantaneously.   And this whole thought got me thinking…

 Is Vacation Mode really the best thing for our bodies?

For me, it’s not.  I tried to stick to my routine by bringing my workout gear and going for a run.  That helped, but the food I’ve been eating and the beverages I’ve been having are not what I’m used to.  Good food, don’t get me wrong, but not what I eat on a daily basis.  So let’s talk about Vacation Mode and I’ll share my experience, which may be yours too.

Vacation Mode is what happens when we go on vacation, put ourself on autopilot, relax and become a lot more carefree.  When someone is in vacation mode, they tend to be a little more lax on what they eat and drink and go outside of their normal routine.  Some even forgo their workouts while they are in Vacation Mode because they feel they deserve a break.  All of these statements above include myself, to a certain extent.  In the past, I would never care about what I did on vacation because I was in Vacation Mode.  I would eat and drink whatever I wanted, I would not workout because I was on vacation and didn’t think I had to and would just forget all about my sleep.  Doing this over and over again led me to have the hardest time getting out of Vacation Mode when I got back to reality.

Now, after having my stomach in knots for two days now, I’ve realized that Vacation Mode has it’s good points and it’s bad ones too.  The good points include:

  • Knowing you might be able to relax
  • No work for X number of days
  • Less stress, if any at all
  • Great tasting food and drinks
  • Trying out a new place, or one you love

But Vacation Mode for has bad points too:

  • Eating too much or food that is too rich
  • Drinking too much
  • Getting less sleep than you normally do
  • You’re not in your own bed
  • Working out may not even be in the agenda

Now, I’m sure you can name other pros and cons for Vacation Mode.  I’d love to see your pros and cons in the comments below.  But let’s really answer the question asked earlier.  Is Vacation Mode good or bad?  I think it can go both ways.  I love vacation mode, but I think in order to keep myself somewhat normal, I need to workout regularly, I need to eat the same or similar foods that I would at home and I need to make sure I’m drinking enough water and going to bed at a decent time.  But for now, I’m still going to enjoy when I’m in Vacation Mode and slowly but surely work toward a life I don’t have to take a vacation from.  Even better, right?

If you need help getting out of Vacation Mode, follow these three tips I have that just might help you unwind and get back to your normal routine quicker than usual.

5Ks May Lead to Marathons

Back in 2013, I ran my first 5K.  While I’ve never been a runner, I decided to run a 5K that involved obstacles because that was more my speed.  Here’s a pic from that race:

Yup, totally looks like I’m conquering all, doesn’t it?!  This race was called Tuff Scrambler and it was done down on a farm, hence the hay bails.  The race was designed to bring out the competitive side in the runners.  If you know me at all, you know I’m a competitive person.  The course was definitely challenging but not over the top, which was good for my first race.  The race has obstacles that are all man-made, has trails through the woods and has more mud than you’ll see at the finest spa in NYC.

How you’re probably thinking, “Why the heck would you want your first 5K to be an obstacle course?”  You’re smart in thinking that because I honestly should have asked myself that too.  BUT…this was a step out of my comfort zone and it was just what I needed.  After signing up, I became excited and nervous at the same time.  I was in decent shape and just kept telling myself I could do it.  Race day came and guess what, I did it.  I was covered in mud, was soaking wet and had a huge smile on my face because I accomplished something I thought I would never be able to do.

Which leads me to my next venture…a true 5K.  A bunch of coworkers are doing a 5K road race in a few months and I know I’m not a runner.  But again came the call of a challenge.  I signed up to be a runner…yes, a runner.  And then immediately downloaded the C25K app.  For any of you that don’t know what that is, Google it.  If you’re inspired to run or at least begin, check it out.  This is a training app that gives coaching queues and helps you learn how to run a 5K.  It helps you pace yourself and learn how to control your breathing.  And as an asthmatic, this is just what I need.

I’m only done with Week 1 of the program, but in just a few months, I’ll be able to (or should be able to) run 3.5 miles without stopping.  Seeing that goal seems big to me, but I just keep telling myself I can do it.  it’s a goal and I will do what I can to reach that goal. Remember, baby steps lead to big changes in life.

Do you have a goal to run too?  Are you a runner now?  Comment below if you’re just starting out or what tips you can share for a newbie runner.   I’d love to hear about your experiences – both the good and the ugly.  Because who knows, your tips might lead to my next challenge…maybe a marathon…

Early morning workouts – Are they for you?

I’ve always done my workouts in the early evening and at the same time, I’ve always wanted to do them in the morning.  I have tried in the past and it was hard…very hard.  I’ve done some research on the best time to do a workout and I’ve found some interesting information:

  • Better metabolism – an early morning workout can help you burn more calories
  • More energy for the day – an early morning workout can help you keep energized for the whole day
  • Increased brain power – an early morning workout can help you use your brain in a more efficient manner
  • Increased consistency – an early morning workout is better for keeping a schedule and staying on track
  • Better healthy mindset – an early morning workout can help regulate your appetite and help you make better food choices throughout the day

After seeing these reasons, I want to do early morning workouts even more.  There are some additional reasons (for me) that make a morning workout even more intriguing:

  • I’d get more time after work to do the things I need and want to do.  For example, blog more, catch up with clients, read, make healthy dinners…
  • I’d get my workout done and over with!  I think this reason alone is enough to make me try.

Tell me…when do you workout?  I’d love to hear what time you workout and how it benefits you.

**Product Review** – 21 Day Fix

Have you ever wanted that magic pill that could help you lose weight and get healthy once and for all?  Well, I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t exist.  Yes, sad but true.  What I can tell you is that there is a fitness program that has short workouts, a fool-proof nutrition plan, is fun and gets you results quickly.  Want to know more?  It’s called 21 Day Fix, brought to you by Autumn Calabrese.  Simple fitness, simple eating and fast results.

The workouts are only 30 minutes per day.   Quick and painless.  Well, maybe not painless, but definitely quick.  The pain is worth it, though, and it comes from sore muscles that are helping define your body.  The workouts range from full-body to upper and lower body.  They involve cardio, weight training and stretching.  Autumn walks you through each move, shows you how to do them right and what you may be doing wrong and helps motivate you to get you through the whole workout.  There is a modifier too!

The nutrition plan is SUPER simple!  The program comes with color-coded containers for each food group.

21 Day Fix Containers

Not sure how many containers, you might need per day?  That’s ok!  The program comes with a book and helps you figure all that out.  There’s a little bit of math involved, but if I can do it, you can do it.  Once you figure out the formula, you plan your day around how many containers of each color you can have per day.  An example of my typical day would be:

  • Breakfast:  two eggs (red), half a bagel (yellow) and a teaspoon of peanut butter
  • Lunch:  salad with veggies (green(s)) and chicken (red)
  • Snacks:  pear (purple) or avocado (blue)

You get the idea, right?  It’s easy!  And you can do this with homemade meals or the cafeteria at work.  The full program lasts 21 days and can be repeated for the desired results.

The first time I did this program, I had a hard time, but it was only because I thought I could do it on my own.  I needed a tribe to help me.  You might be in that same position.  I can be your coach and help you through it.  I can help you come up with meal ideas and help encourage you to do your workout when you don’t want to.  To get your hands on your own copy of the program, you can click here:  21 Day Fix.  This will connect you to my store, get you connected with me and we can get you on your path to getting the results you’ve been wanting.  Are you ready?

**Product Review** – ChaLEAN Extreme

ChaLEAN Extreme was the first program I ever did and boy, was it the right one for me!  It challenged me, just enough, to the point where I had to work hard, but didn’t struggle.  From the product description, ChaLEAN Extreme is described as a fat-burning workout that will boost metabolism and help you get lean.  The description states the more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn and claims that you can lose up to 60% of your body fat in 90 days.  The program comes with a guidebook, a calendar that schedules workouts, a thigh toner, a body fat tester and 4 free gifts:  a food guide, a motivation audio CD, a DVD showing you healthy food and how to makeover your kitchen and a pro-grade resistance band.  I was sold!

The trainer, Chalene Johnson, structured the program into 3 phases – Burn Phase, Push Phase and Lean Phase. During these phases, there is a mix of cardio exercises and resistance training.  Before you even start, I recommend watching Burn Basics and Band Basics, especially if you are new to working out.  Chalene teaches you proper form and technique for the resistance moves you’ll be doing throughout the program.

During the Burn Phase, you start resistance training and go at your own pace.  The workouts involve both upper and lower body muscle training, in addition to some intense cardio.  During the Push Phase, you are going to leave your comfort zone…trust me!  This is when you really start to feel your muscles changing.  You should start to increase the amount of weight or the resistance band you are using because you want to challenge yourself.  The last phase is the Lean Phase and this is when you really start to see the fat and inches coming off.  This phase involves more dynamic moves and you will be doing more reps so you should decrease the amount of weight or the resistance band you are using or remain the same.  The choice is yours.

One thing Chalene repeats throughout the program is “Track your progress!”  You will want to do this so you can see your improvements from week to week and modify the weight or resistance band you are using to get the greatest benefit.  This program was very easy to follow, definitely challenging, but most importantly, fun!  I loved Chalene because she keeps you motivated and always reminds you to watch your form.

Although I only lost approximately 5lbs, this program helped me decrease my body fat by approximately 50%!  What it showed me is that the number on the scale doesn’t really matter much.  What really matters is how you feel!  I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to get lean, have a great workout everyday and start feeling better about themselves.  To order this program, click here.

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