“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” -unknown

Here we are again- another New Year. Another time to fight for parking spots at the gym, another time to wait for machines and watch people chit chat and text their way through “workouts”. For those of you committed to staying fit, I commend you on the beginning of a new chapter. No resolutions, just a new chapter and a better YOU.

This year, go out and try something new. Push yourself to new limits. Do you think the first person to run a marathon figured out that they could run that far by sitting on the couch? Nope. They got up and they ran. They pushed until they couldn’t push any more, and even then they still kept going. Greatness isn’t achieved by an occasional gym visit and an occasional healthy meal. Its achieved by pushing, measuring, counting and not stopping when the going gets tough. Its not always easy, and there are days you may wake up and not want to move, but its worth it. YOU are worth it.

To date, I’ve successfully completed 12 races. 6 Obstacle mud runs, 5 basic road races, and one 5k that involved paint. Now, you’re probably assuming that I’m one of those crazy obsessed runners who tries to do as many races as she can throughout the course of a year, and now that does describe me perfectly. However, those 12 races were all completed throughout the course of 2012, and they are the only ones I’ve ever done.

I was never a runner. It was hard for me, I never felt good at it, so I never tried. A friend of mine was running a five mile race to promote health and fitness and wanted me to run with her. I signed up and started my training only a month before the race. The day came, I beat my anticipated time, had a blister the size of Texas…and I loved every second of it. I continued running as a part of my daily routine and decided to sign up for my first Obstacle Course Race (OCR). I talked a friend of mine into signing up as well and on that day in May after running from zombies, jumping over walls and sliding down a slip-and-slide the size of a football field, he looked at me and said “Dude, we have to do tons more of these.” Throw in some gladiators, huge bruises, paint, barbed wire, rope climbs and fire jumps, and you have my year in review.

If I continued to believe the idea that “I couldn’t run” or “I’m not a runner”, I would have never had the experiences I did in doing those races. I also wouldn’t have the desire, belief or motivation that I can do even more. Pushing past that feeling of doubt leads to the success of making dreams come true. Whether your dream is to run a marathon, lose ten pounds or work out three times per week, it can come true. Don’t doubt yourself. Change your “I can’t” to “I can!

To learn more about these races, visit my good friends, The New England Spahtens. They post race information, reviews and are a great source of support and encouragement for people who love to race and for those looking to start!

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So many programs, so little time!

From commercials, to infomercials, to ads in magazines, we are constantly bombarded with one new fitness program after another. The question is: which one is right for YOU? They all look new and exciting, and by the look of the before and after photos, seem to work. You can’t possibly do them all though- you’d break the bank.

There are some very key things to think about when choosing a new work out program.

1. What is my current fitness level?

Its important to answer this question very seriously, especially when you aren’t working directly with a one-on-one trainer. There are many flashy fitness programs on the market right now that require a significant amount of plyometrics (you may also hear this referred to as “jump training”) and minimal rest time. Most are marketed for anyone to use, but caution must be taken if you’re going to jump right from the couch to doing minute sets of Burpees and jump lunges. You may be better off finding a lower intensity plan to work yourself to a level where you can complete a full high intensity workout.

2. Muscle Confusion is Key

You know that feeling of driving somewhere and not recalling the actual drive? Many refer to that sensation as being on “auto pilot”. Most mornings I drive to work that way…I drive the same route for the same 45 minute period of time everyday, it doesn’t phase me one bit. But, throw in an unexpected detour and suddenly the auto pilot turns off and I have to adjust. Your body works the same way. If you do the same workout every time you exercise, your body turns on the auto pilot and doesn’t progress as much as when the work out was new. You and your muscles become bored. There are several programs that inlude multiple work outs. This enables you to change things up when you hit that plateau. And, new things are exciting, it will keep you from getting bored and quitting your plan.

3. Don’t ignore the nutrition portion!

Many of the programs on the market include a diet and nutrition guide. Do not leave it in the box and pretend its not there. The way you eat is just as important as the way you exercise. I frequently tell clients and members of my gym that they can bust their butt everyday in the gym, but if they’re stopping for a fast food double cheeseburger on the way home, they’re not going to see results. Watch what you eat. Being healthy is a lifestyle, not just an hour at the gym.

The path to finding the perfect work out regime and program for you may not be simple. You may try something and hate it, or find that it doesn’t leave you feeling accomplished after. Check online reviews before investing, and talk to friends who use particular programs. Both may be able to give you insight into the work out before you make the jump.

Happy sweating, all!

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Stick To It!

How do you go about making a goal? You probably have an “aha!” moment that then leads to a few days of hardcore, groundshaking changes to help you reach that goal. You’re on fire. You’re unstoppable. And then…

You stop.

Self-motivation is awesome, but most of the time it only takes you so far. Eventually you become too skeptical and unable to see progress and then slowly, maybe even subconsciously, you begin to give up.

Remember those resolutioners I talked about? An average gym-related resolution lasts 86 days. That means it is very likely that person running on the treadmill next to you won’t be there come March. You may already notice a few missing faces. They probably missed one day. Then another. And another, and eventually they gave up.

“I’ll try again tomorrow”
Sound familiar?

Sometimes making promises to yourself isn’t enough. You can make up excuses to yourself easier than you can to other people. So in order to stick to a goal: TELL SOMEONE ELSE.

Gym buddies are awesome. Really. I wouldn’t make it to the gym as much as I do if it wasn’t for my gym buddy. Having someone hold you accountable for the goals you set helps you stick to them.

The more people that hold you accountable, the better.

My goal: total body transformation. For the next twelve weeks I’m going to train harder than ever.

I told you my goal, I told my buddy my goal, and now I want you to go and tell people yours. You’ll reach it!

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Resolve to Keep a Resolution

5…4…3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Its that time again. Another year down, another one underway. At the beginning of every new year, its common for people to make goals that they hope to achieve over the course of the year: “I will lose 100lbs” “I will go to the gym 5 times a week” “I will stop smoking” and so on.

Statistics show that an average of 12 to 20% of Americans will keep a resolution. This means that more than three quarters of those who make resolutions will give up and not achieve the goals that they set out for themselves. DO NOT FALL INTO THAT PERCENTAGE.

A gym franchise consisting of 7 gyms made $300,000 on a membership special they ran just prior to January 1st. On average, this made out to 500 new members per gym.  A handful of these people will become gym junkies, the rest may never step into the gym after the initial sign up.

How do you become the gym junkie instead of the person that never comes back?

RESOLVE TO KEEP YOUR RESOLUTION.

Make a goal that is obtainable.

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He’s makin’ a list, checkin‘ it twice…

Here’s my short , rather random list of the Health, Fitness and Beauty things I wish I had known earlier in life:

-          Overexposure to sun is one of the major reasons why our skin loses its firmness and smooth appearance as we age. Avoiding those deep dark tans and lobster-red burns is a great way to look much younger later in life. Slather on the SPF, folks…

-          Crazy, unruly hair can be controlled using a dime-size portion of your favorite moisturizing lotion as a leave-in conditioner. Who knew??

-          Many times, the store-brand beauty products are just as good as the brand-name products. Especially since 2007. It’s possible to save yourself a whole lot of cash. However…

-          …It’s worth paying the extra money for quality fragrances. They are far more interesting and engaging to smell.

-          No matter what dental products you use, and how well you brush and floss, going to the dentist regularly really IS important. Save yourself some major hassles later in life, and get those chompers cleaned on a regular basis.

-          I should have listened to Mom as a teenager, and chosen milk over Mountain Dew…at least once a day. The high quality protein and vitamins in milk are the perfect food for growing bones and muscles.

-          If you want to build quality muscle mass, you have to eat LOTS of quality protein, much more than you would ever expect. Egg whites, chicken/turkey breast, lean beef, dairy products, fish. You can have great workouts, but if you want to build muscle mass, you need to eat right.

-          “Dress for success” is true: If you want to move up in a company, it sure helps to look the part. Pay attention to what you wear. Even better, pay attention to what your boss wears. And what his/her boss wears. It really does matter…

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No Time?

Jason works full time at a position that keeps him occupied all day, everyday. He doesn’t always have time for hardcore gym sessions. He still wants to be able to work on key areas of his body. Can he do this from work?

ABSOLUTELY.

The world is full of people who have jam-packed schedules. So many people use their busy lives as an excuse not to work out. However, its an empty excuse. Jason is different from most people. Instead of using his busy schedule as an excuse not to exercise, he looked for other options.

There are exercises that can be done throughout the day, no gym required.

ABS:

  • Torso Rotation: keep lower body still and twist torso side to side.
  • Side Body Rocker: bend at the waist side to side

LEGS:

  •  “Football” Run: quickly tap feet in a running motion while seated.
  • Leg Extension: slowly lift and lower legs while seated.
  • Toe Raises: either sitting or standing, point and flex feet.

ARMS:

  • Shadow Box: punch the air a few times (also a good stress reliever, just try not to “accidentally” punch anyone else.)
  • Arm Pump: not just a Jersey Shore dance move. Pump one arm at a time in the air. (Closely mimicks a speedbag)
  • Bicep Curls: use a water bottle for extra weight
  • Tricep dip: when in the office, do these off of your chair (be careful if you have a chair on wheels)

 CARDIO:

  • Take the stairs.
  • Walk the long way to get from point A to point B.
  • Park away from the building.

As the holiday season quickly approaches, the open times in schedules seem to be few and far between, but not having enough time to go to the gym is not an excuse to pack on holiday pounds. If you have enough time to pick up a cookie, you have enough time to utilize these gym-less exercises.

This holiday season, be a Jason.

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Fact or Fiction: Runner’s High

“Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make people happy. Happy people just don’t shoot people.” -Legally Blonde

Ever notice that there are a few people in the gym that are there every single time you are? Doesn’t matter what time, day, weather, etc., they are always working out. At times, they may refer to themselves as “gym rats” and may look like they don’t need to be at the gym. They simply want to be.

The dictionary definition of an endorphin is “any group of peptide hormones that bind to opiate receptors and are found mainly in the brain. Endorphins reduce the sensation of pain and affect emotions.”

To most people, the physiological depth of that definition may be a bit too much, so in plain terms, when an endorphin is released, it causes the pain that one would experience during a workout to subside, and the person is then overcome with feelings of accomplishment and excitement over anything else (therefore, the coined phrase “high”).

This high goes beyond just running. Look at a natural bodybuilder, for instance (natural, as in, without steroids). The gains that they are able to make in the gym come with intense endorphin rush. This allows the particular person to push past weight that they are comfortable with and max out with reps and weight.

As for those gym rats? They like the feeling the gym gives them. Believe it or not, their endorphin rush might be better than any cup of coffee.

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Magical Pixie Dust

So, exactly what is it about my new shampoo that makes my hair so incredibly bouncy and manageable? Surely it must be the white tea, aloe barbadensis, and bamboo extracts, you might be thinking. If so, I’m afraid you have been bamboozled…

As cosmetic chemists, we have a multitude of ingredients to work with. There are the important ingredients, the things that will make the product actually do its job. In the case of a shampoo, these are ingredients called “surfactants”, which are basically mild detergents. We’ll talk about them more later.
But then there are the ingredients that are relatively unimportant as far as performance is concerned, but which are VERY important for the label. I like to refer to these minor ingredients as magical “pixie dust.” Some examples:

Aloe
Vitamins
Bamboo
Miscellaneous herbal extracts
Pearl extract
Silk Amino Acids
…and thousands of other choices.

Most of the time, the amount of these ingredients in the formula is incredibly tiny, like o.oo1%, a little “pinch” in a 500 gallon batch (we are entering that “needle in a haystack” level). You’ll see them near the bottom of the ingredient statement, yet they will be featured prominently on the product label, as if they have great importance. Do they do anything?? Sure, they might have a minor effect on how the product works. But to the marketing department, they DO have great importance. Really, it does feel so much better knowing that we are washing our hair with exotic herbal extracts, and feeding it with all kinds of vitamins. Many of our purchasing choices are driven by the promise of the pixie dust.

This Halloween, as you pick up your Trick-or –treats and notice that new bottle of shampoo, or some other beauty product…try not to be swayed by the “magical” ingredients inside.

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The Right Foundation

Beautiful skin starts with the right foundation…and this time I’m not just talking about makeup. It’s about eating right, exercising regularly, and getting the rest we need. Too many of us burn the midnight oil, and then get up early to go to work, where we drink waaaay too much coffee just trying to stay on top of things! It leaves us wiped out and exhausted by the end of the work week. It takes a toll on our overall appearance – we slouch, we drag our feet when we walk. Our skin starts to look pale, and loses its tone. Those dark circles under our eyes become more exaggerated. And we get stressed far too easily, which leads to oily skin and breakouts.

So, what to do about it? We can choose the right makeup items to cover up the damage, or we can get to the root of the problem first, by changing our eating, sleeping and exercise patterns. The healthy glow you get will be real, and will only be enhanced by the beauty products that you use.

That’s what Beauty and the Beast is all about. We’re going to help you change to a more healthy lifestyle, by getting your exercise and diet habits on track. And we’re going to talk about what makes all of your favorite beauty products tick, so you can understand how they work, and what the different ingredients do. We’ll help you make wise, affordable choices about the beauty products that are right for you!

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Get Fit Quick?

Every magazine stand, television commercial, and Internet ad claims to show you the product that will be the fix-all for every insecurity you may have with your body.

“Take this pill before eating and burn that meal off”

“Take the whole bottle and watch the fat melt”

“Hold laser to body and rid of excess fat forever”

OK, maybe some of these examples are stretching it a little, but companies everywhere are making weight loss, bodybuilding, and all around fitness claims just because people need a quick and easy fix. Yes, it would be ideal to sit on the couch, not move at all and still lose weight. Chances of that actually happening: slim to none.

Let’s say for a second that these claims hold some validity. Maybe one of these magic pills helps you lose weight. That claim in and of itself is jam-packed. What weight loss companies don’t want to tell you: “weight loss” can come in multiple forms. I could throw on a sauna suit right now and run for half an hour, weigh myself and notice that I “lost weight.” Instant results, right? Wrong. Temporary results? That’s more like it. My sauna suit assisted in the loss of water weight. Many of the magical supplements include large amounts of caffeine and a combination of different herbs that work as diuretics (aka, they rid your body of excess water weight, like my sauna suit). In other words, if you want a false sense of accomplishment, a severely jittery feeling and too many bathroom trips, these may work for you.

Ever stop to think about how that pill you’re about to pop is working to meet its claims? Claims like “blocking fat receptors:, “incinerating fat molecules” and “suppressing appetite”. Popular fat burners claim to keep the body in a state of Thermogenesis. Constantly heating and speeding up your body has to carry a down side, right? In the pharmaceutical world, it is possible to create supplement ingredients that mimic others. Years ago, the diet world was taken by storm by Ephedrine, a product that worked to help people reach their weight loss goals, but also resulted in many deaths. Someone somewhere saw that product work and changed the formula slightly to deliver the same results under a different name. Enter vast majority of new supplements here.

You don’t want to hear it, but you’re better off getting up and working out. Trainers and famous Hollywood faces have put together compilations of their fat blasting, super toning workouts and all you need to do is pop it in your DVD player and you’ll be on your way.

There’s a catch though: you actually have to get up and do it.

If simply watching a DVD gave people bodybuilder status, I know a lot of guys who would be seriously upset that they wasted so much time in the gym. The DVDs contain a variety of workouts, that in due time, will produce results. However, you have to follow them AND make overall lifestyle changes. Lasting results don’t come overnight. Its a process. Here are some key things to keep in mind during this process:

  • Exercise is good. Eating right and exercising is better. At least once a week someone complains to me about their lack of success after all the working out they’ve been doing. Then I ask what they’ve been eating. Plain and simple: 30 minutes of fat blasting cardio is awesome. BUT, eating a triple cheeseburger with bacon and fries after that workout undoes that work. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
  • Fad diets are called a fad for a reason. Sure, in one month I can lose weight by cutting out almost everything. But, what happens after that 30 day diet is done? I plateau, or worse, I gain that weight back. The definition of a fad (according to thefreedictionary.com) is “a temporary fashion taken up with enthusiasm for a brief period of time.” Lifestyle change, people. Try that fad if you absolutely insist, but be prepared to still change the way you eat in order to keep the weight off.
  • Just because its in your house does not mean it will benefit you more. Statistically speaking, over 90% of people who own a treadmill will not actually use it regularly. It becomes a great drying rack, or a place to put extra Christmas decorations. Sure, its a great investment IF you’re going to use it. Its an awesome dust collector if you don’t. Signing up for a class at a gym or finding a gym buddy may end up being cheaper AND more beneficial.

Long story short: As much as we want them to, results don’t happen overnight. Lasting results come from a progressive process. If you want something long term, you need to commit and extend effort.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” -Emerson

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