Snow and frigid temps have put a damper on many well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions already. But these conditions shouldn’t hinder you! They can actually help you achieve your goals more quickly if you embrace them rather than hide indoors.Read More
“I’ve been really off the rails this month.”
“After the new year, I’ve got to get back on track!”
I’ve heard some variation of this statement about a zillion times over the years—especially around the holiday season—and I have an important reminder if you’ve uttered these words yourself:
You are not a train.
You are not confined to a set of rails in order to move forward.
In my practice, I’ve observed what I call On/Off Thinking as a disastrous way to approach diet (and by “diet,” I mean way of thinking). Individuals practicing On/Off Thinking when it comes to their eating patterns operate in one of two ways:
When they're "On," they’re typically on a restrictive plan, including plans like Whole 30 or other low carb diets; they’re on a “sugar detox;” they’re on a low calorie regiment—far too low to support their needs; they’re consuming a constant flow of protein shakes, “cleansing” juice, etc.
When they're "Off," they’re eating whatever the hell they want whenever they want it with zero boundaries.
When On/Off Thinkers are "On," the sole focus is what he or she is "allowed" and "not allowed" to eat. Friends, family and coworkers all know when and On/Off Thinker is On because these folks are constantly announcing what they can and cannot have. In the beginning of going On, folks are often optimistic, even euphoric. And let me be clear, On/Off Thinkers in the On position often sees movement on the scale in the right direction--at first. But being On is an all-consuming effort, requiring obsessing and restriction that inevitably lead to frustration and resentment. The On protocol often produces diminishing results, and our On Thinker becomes doubly frustrated
This is typically when the On/Off Thinker decides they “deserve" a treat and begins obsessing even more about those foods that are Off plan.
At some point our On/Off Thinker breaks, and that's when they go Off. WAY Off.
When first going Off, our On/Off Thinker feels lethargic and ditches the On Thinking exercise routine because they have no energy…but also because they are embarrassed. Being Off becomes the norm, and our On/Off Thinkers eventually begin feeling guilty about the way they have “let themselves go.”
It will only be a matter of time before our On/Off Thinking goes On again, and the cycle repeats.
On/Off Thinking is highly destructive, not just for our bodies, but also emotionally. The roller coaster of success/failure is demotivating, and the framing of the way we eat as either good or bad is exhausting.
What's the alternative? How about removing the idea of on the rails/off the rails from your thinking, and ditching restrictive, punitive eating?
I coach my clients to phase out On/Off Thinking--no easy task, especially since so many of us have practiced it for decades--and instead to shift the focus on common sense food choices most of the time, leaving room for indulgent treats on occasion.
The process can begin by simply changing our vocabulary, removing words like good, bad, cheat and allow.
It takes time and commitment to change your thinking, which is why working with a health coach like myself can be extremely helpful. But if you make that commitment, and do the work to build new healthful habits that support a new way of thinking, positive physical results will be achieved, but even better, the emotional results are lasting.
Need support in dropping On/Off Thinking? Let's talk.
I often receive the question, “Do you allow yourself a cheat day?” and my answer is No, and No.
This question has two of my very least favorite words in it: Allow and Cheat.
To say I “allow” myself to eat something is to imply I must be under restriction and require permission to eat certain foods, which is not how I choose to live, and certainly not how I want my health coaching clients to live.
And to “cheat?” Shudder, shudder. There’s a moral implication around the word cheat that just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t believe that there’s a morality attached to my food choices—I’m “good” if I eat vegetables, and “bad” or “cheating” if I eat cookies. The concept of cheat meals and cheat days again implies that most of the time I’m white knuckling it, living in deprivation…and likely counting down the seconds till my cheat.
I understand that this kind of thinking works for some folks and even allows them to manage their weight in some cases. I also regularly see how this kind of thinking can be miserable and oppressive, and easily spirals out of control.
Instead, I choose to eat to support my health: Eating real, fresh food feels good! And sometimes eating a giant cookie made with love by and with loaded with huge melty chocolate chunks is good for my health, too. I don’t eat it with guilt or shame or regret. I savor every special bite because well-made indulgent food truly is a treat—not a cheat.
Credit to the baker: Little Fig Bakeshop, available at Stall 11 at R. House in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore.
By the number of runners I'm seeing on the roads and trails, and on high school tracks after hours, training for fall races is in high gear! If you’re training for a half or full marathon, you’re in great company as your ramp up the miles in preparation for your big race. But this is also the time to finalize a strong game plan for fueling, because all that training won’t serve you if there’s no gas in your tank.
Your training runs serve as your testing lab for nutrition, so now is the time to test (and test and test!) your options and to answer these questions in the final weeks of your training…
WHAT WILL YOU EAT FOR BREAKFAST ON RACE MORNING?
Classic runners’ breakfasts include toast or a bagel with a smear of peanut butter and a banana, or oatmeal and fruit, but what breakfast feels best to you in terms of fueling AND digestion? On race day, you’re looking for a breakfast with easy to digest carbs and not too much in the way of protein, fiber or fat, and you’ll aim to eat that breakfast close to three hours before the start to allow for digestion. A big factor to consider is where you’ll be on race morning—you may make a very different choice if you’re sleeping in your own bed vs staying in a hotel. More on this topic HERE.
WHAT WILL YOU EAT ON THE COURSE?
Carbohydrates are our most efficient source of fuel, but fully carb-loaded, we can only store enough to power 60-90 minutes of hard effort. It’s easy to see how runners can become depleted and hit the proverbial wall! Thankfully, there’s an huge variety of highly portable, easily digestible carb supplements in the form of drinks, gels, gummies and chews.
If you’re running a half marathon, you may be able to complete the 13.1 miles without eating carbohydrates on the course, but if you’re trying to achieve a personal best, or aiming to prevent feeling totally wrung out at the finish, carb supplements can be a great tool.
Eating or drinking carbs is non-negotiable for the full marathon unless you plan on doing a good bit of walking. Depending on a marathoner’s size (a larger runner needs more fuel) and how hard you’re pushing on the course (walk/run needs less fuel, running at hard effort requires more), full marathoners need to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Consider this math problem of carbs needed per hour, and put together a plan for hitting your number.
More on the variety of sports nutrition and average carb content HERE.
WHAT'S FOR DINNER RACE EVE?
The dinner you eat on the eve of your race should leave you feeling well-fueled and light the next morning, not bloated or heavy. While you’re looking for a good source of carbs, race eve is not the time to pile your plate to the ceiling. You’re looking for a reasonably portioned meal with a decent source of carbs and some protein, but not too much in the way of fat and fiber that could cause GI distress. Again, it's important to consider where you'll be (at home vs away) and what's available.
As you complete the remaining weeks of your training, ask and answer these questions, too:
· Are you eating carbs right after your long runs to speed your recovery and prevent cravings? More on this topic HERE.
· Is your diet full of nourishing foods to rebuild your muscles, including vegetables, fruit, nuts & seeds, plenty of lean protein (preferably from whole foods, not powders, shakes or bars) and whole grains?
· Are you getting enough sleep?
If your training plan and diet are absolutely perfect, but you’re regularly getting less than 7 hours of sleep, you may be missing out on the training effect. Much of the adaptation from all your work happens in your sleep, so plan your rest the same way you plan your runs—and be consistent!
Here’s to a great training season leading to a fun and successful race day! if you need support in fine tuning your diet to support your goals, talk to a professional like myself to ensure you’re performing at your best.
Thanks to my running pal who...ahem, cough, cough...gifted me this “fat water.” If you’re buying this 💩 thinking this it will make you leaner, please know the only thing getting leaner is your wallet. Funny thing is with all the additives in here, there are 3g of carbs (12 calories) to 1g of fat (9 calories), so maybe they should call it Carb-y Fat Snake Oil?
PSA: Don’t enrich companies preying on you with expensive, unscientifically-based weight loss and fitness products. Drink real water, the filtered kind from a tap with no added gunk.
Back in the spring, I excitedly signed up for a summer running camp for grown-ass women. During the course of marathon training this summer, I developed a femoral stress fracture, and when I emailed the organizers to request a refund, I got a hard NOPE. What should have been an empowering weekend for strong women to come together over running...actually was.Read More
Being a member of a CSA is a FANTASTIC way to support local agriculture, receive a weekly share of freshly picked produce, and to understand and appreciate farming in your region. It also demands a tremendous amount of creativity to eat an immense amount of leafy greens between June and November. Luckily, this simple preparation for greens never gets old…Read More
Joe and Ashley had each run quite a few 5Ks, 10Ks and a couple half marathons with increasingly fast times when they decided to train for a full marathon. The pair embarked on a training plan over weeks and months to ramp up in a smart way: They practiced increasingly difficult speed workouts, and strategically extended their long runs to prepare for 26.2 miles. Neither Joe nor Ashley could have run a marathon on the first day of training, but over those months they built tremendous strength and endurance to complete the distance.
But disaster struck on race day: Joe ate a packet of carbohydrate gel early on in the race and swigged a cup of sports drink from an aid station around the 10-mile mark, but it wasn’t enough. Just before the 20-mile mark, Joe hit what runners refer to as “the wall.” His legs felt like they were made of lead. His run slowed to a jog, then a walk, then he plopped down on a curb for 10 minutes sipping sports drink as dizziness, exhaustion and despondent feelings washed over him. He walked in the last 10K.
Ashley, on the other hand, wore a fuel belt loaded with carbohydrate gels someone recommended to her at the expo where she picked up her bib. She began fueling early and often—something she’d never tried before—and around mile 16, she felt bloated and nauseated, with water swishing heavily in her gut with every step. She miserably slogged along for the last 10 miles unable to take another bite or sip, walking for long sections of her race and visiting the porta-potties every chance she had.
Joe and Ashley neglected a vital part of marathon training: They didn’t have a race day fueling plan.
To avoid a splat on the proverbial wall in a marathon, a typical runner needs somewhere between 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour, depending on his or her size and speed (larger runners pushing faster speed potentially require closer to 90 grams per hour).
Digestion on the run can be a tricky affair, which is why there’s an entire sports nutrition industry made up of products designed to be easy on the gut while providing immediate fuel:
· Carbohydrate gels (like Gu, Hammer, Stinger, Huma, etc) contain between 20-25 grams of carbohydrate per packet
· A 1-ounce package of jelly beans (like Sports Beans) has about 25 grams of carbohydrate per bag
· 8 ounces of sports drink (like Gatorade or Tailwind reconstituted at full strength) has about 10-15 grams of carbohydrate.
If you’re considering eating whole food instead of specially formulated sports nutrition, consider this:
· One large date contains 10-13 grams of carbohydrate
· A medium-sized banana has about 25 grams of carbs
· An ounce worth of pretzels (just about a 100-calorie pack) has around 20 grams of carbs.
In order to meet your needs solely with bananas, you’d need to carry a produce section with you. But the bigger issue is the longer you run, the less blood your body sends to your digestive system as oxygenated blood is diverted to your hardworking legs. This is good for your legs, but tough for digesting solid food. You may end up under-fueled and in serious GI distress in the final third of your race.
A smart fueling training plan looks like this:
· Early in the season, visit the running nutrition section at your local running store and look for products that sound tasty. Check out the carb content, too, considering how many carbs you’ll need to consume per hour on race day
· Caffeine can be performance enhancer, but if it doesn’t agree with you in your daily life, it probably won’t agree with you on the run. If you choose to consume caffeine on race day, practice with it in training, and alternate between caffeinated and non-caffeinated products
· Always consume a gel or chewable carb supplement with plain water
· Test out products one at a time on the run to see how you like them in terms of taste, fueling and how they impact your gut. If you try two different gels, or a gel and a drink and have GI distress, you won’t know whether the gel, the drink, or the combo caused the issue
· Once you’ve confirmed you like a product, then you may choose to test mixing it with other products to meet your race day needs. For example, to reach 50 grams per hour, you may try one gel + 12 ounces of sports drink over an hour; or one gel + a snacking on bag of jelly beans over an hour
· There’s no need to consume as much carbohydrate on your training runs as you will on race day, and in fact, by going out with less fuel during training, you will adapt to becoming a better fat burner, which is a good thing. However, choose one or two of your longer runs as a fueling dress rehearsal: Eat a simple carb-rich breakfast 2-3 hours before your run, take your first bite of fuel early in the run, and test your race day fueling strategy.
And this is important: If you have a bad experience with one product, don’t completely dismiss the entire sports nutrition section. There are a variety of sweeteners and textures in each gel, bite, bean and drink, so keep experimenting to find what works best for you.
Need support in developing a fueling plan for your race? Let's talk!
If this display on a stationary bike is my view on a beeeeautiful summer day, you know something went wrong.
Any long distance runner will tell you, we frequently have aches and pains, and it's an art and a science for the runner to answer the question:
Is this pain run-through-able, or is this something serious?
I clearly have not mastered this skill, as I demonstrated after completing a race last spring that left me with a personal best on the course...and a torn tendon. And I further demonstrated it this month as my training season has been cut short by a very painful injury which turned out to be a stress fracture near the top of my femur.
I made a comeback from that aforementioned torn tendon in spring of 2017 and ran the best marathon of my life just eight months later, qualifying for the Boston Marathon for the first time. After that victory, I took the winter months to savor running with no target race, no pressure--just enjoying running, barre classes and group workouts.
I set my sights on a late summer marathon, Lehigh Valley, and began training for that race in May.
I ramped up using a smart plan, careful not to add too much mileage too soon. I tracked my mileage and the wear on my running shoes in a spreadsheet, being careful to swap out shoes before I completely ran them into the ground. I ate healthfully, with lots of greens, whole grains and lean protein making up a big chunk of my diet (with my nightly dark chocolate, of course). I continued to cross train, though maybe not quite as consistently as the miles began to add up. My speed was picking back up after a laid back winter. My endurance was strengthening. I pushed through unbearably humid summery runs and was acclimating to the Baltimore heat.
And then there was a week where I REALLY stepped up my mileage, hills and speed and felt a good bit of pain when I set out on a 16-mile long run with a group. That pain never abated. I ended up with 10 great miles, 1 slow-ish paced mile, and 4 miles of walk/hobbling back to my car, finishing the morning--and my training season--with a limp and a whimper.
I had my pity party: I did everything right, damn it! In hindsight, I can poke some holes in my plan. I'm now an over-40 runner, and maybe I should have taken the issue of slower recovery more seriously. Maybe I should have cross trained more, or rested more when I was feeling sore. Or maybe I did everything right, but this is just one of those times when $h!t goes wrong.
My doctor gave me the go-ahead to bike, workout in the pool and do gentle yoga--three things I do not do, but will most definitely be doing this summer and into the fall. So I may not see you on the roads or trails for a few weeks, but you can bet your butt I'll be back at it!
See you at the gym--I'll be the one at the back of the yoga class grimacing as my tight hamstrings get a much-needed stretch, awkwardly gripping the handles of a stationary bike, or doing a goofy water workout.
Wondering what all the hype is around this new keto diet? It ain't new. The ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920s as a successful alternative treatment for children with epilepsy whose disease did not respond to drugs, and further studies are underway regarding treatment for neurological diseases.
But you're not hearing about it for that reason: You're hearing about it as a weight loss diet. A ketogenic diet is one that all but eliminates carbohydrates in favor of foods high in protein and fat. Butter in your coffee, a bun-less cheeseburger, and bacon-wrapped cheese are all welcome on this diet. Slather cream cheese on that slice of bologna and enjoy!
How does it work? Without its preferred source of energy available—glucose from CARBS!—your body goes into starvation mode called ketosis, and your liver turns fat into ketones for fuel. Further, hunger is reduced and as dieters consume fewer calories than you burn, weight is lost. The initial adaptation to this diet can be brutal, even gaining its own nickname, “keto flu.”
But celebrities, Instagram influencers and people you may actually know in real life--people who've struggled with weight loss for years--are touting success on this regiment. If maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best indicators of long-term health outcomes, does that make this diet a good choice?
Here are my thoughts on the keto diet for weight loss...
The diet restricts some foods we can all agree are unhealthful, including refined grains and added sugars.
This diet also frequently results in weight loss (though much of this initial loss is water weight lost as the body burns through its carbohydrate stores, which also store water).
Some dieters claim a range of other benefits, including less hunger and great mental clarity.
The diet eliminates health-promoting fruit, starchy vegetables, whole grains and beans, which can lead to deficiencies in important vitamins and minerals (is it a matter of time till we see the resurgence of scurvy?!).
With only protein- and fat-rich foods allowed, many adherents consume significant amounts of red meat and processed meat (sausage, deli meats, etc), both of which are classified as carcinogens. Read more about the World Health Organization's classification of these foods HERE.
Carbs fuel active bodies, so this diet may make high intensity training (aka anaerobic activity) or endurance training very uncomfortable. Ask any marathoner who's ever "bonked" in a race! Consumption of carbohydrates allows for storage of water in our bodies, so the state of ketosis easily leads to dehydration as well as electrolyte loss, a special concern for active folks.
The diet can negatively impact blood cholesterol and triglycerides, though it does not do so for everyone.
But here are two of the biggest cons:
In order to stay in ketosis, dieters must practice obsessive adherence, meaning they are ruled by...well...diet rules. This diet only works if rules are compulsively followed--it's why anyone you know on this diet constantly talks about the diet. It becomes a cornerstone of their existence.
For most dieters, once they discontinue the plan, they gain weight back in part or in full. Yo-yo dieting is downright dangerous to physical health, and it's emotionally draining.
This post should not be construed as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you're interested in developing habits and skills for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight without being ruled by a diet, please be in touch!
Happy first day of summer and NATIONAL SMOOTHIE DAY (yep, that’s a thing)!
Yes, it's a silly day, but in my book, nothing beats a smoothie after a hot summery run, but I have a few caveats:
1. Skip the protein powder. It's tough to come up short on protein in a healthful diet, so it's not necessary--my protein needs are easily met otherwise! Not to mention, after a tough workout, my body is looking for carbohydrates to replenish lost stores in any case, and the amount of protein in most powders is overkill.
2. I only put in my blender or bowl the amount of fruit I would actually eat whole--here I've used frozen banana and wild blueberries. It's easy to overdo it, adding five or more servings to fill the blender, resulting in an over-filled bowl with hundred and hundreds of calories of fruit. Yes, you can definitely have too much of a good thing.
3. It's ALL about the toppings! I love a good dollop of nut butter--cashew butter in this case--or whole nuts & seeds, and something crunchy--a quarter cup of nutty whole grain Michele's Granola in this bowl. It's also easy to keep piling on the goods, but unless I'm re-fueling after hours of running, this bowl will easily meet my post-workout hunger.
Here’s to meaningful food holidays!
Did you know this is Hemp History Week, proving that everything in the world now has a day or week? Seriously though, hemp hearts are tasty little guys, and they’re one of the few plant-based foods that are complete proteins, making them a great addition to oatmeal, salads and to smoothies in place of highly processed protein powder.
But there's more! Hemp is also an environmentally friendly crop that benefits farm land instead of stripping it. And it's super versatile—useful for textiles, plastic-like material and more in addition to food.
Chances are, though, if you've read this far, you still have a question: Can you get high on hemp? Hemp comes from the cannabis plant like marijuana, but you can NOT get high on hemp (sorry!), and consumption won’t make you pop on a drug test. Hemp contains less than .3% THC, where marijuana has 5-35% THC.
A runner doesn't gain speed by running a once or twice in a week.
A person won't increase muscle or lose fat by working with a personal trainer once every couple weeks in an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.
An overweight person will not lose weight by adding in a couple salads a week to a diet that still includes a plenty of dinners out and lots of refined starchy and fatty foods.
The not-so-magical magic for achieving results is consistency.
It's consistency over a period of weeks and months that leads into years where real results are achieved and maintained. Success in achieving a goal is the sum of all the small efforts in support of your goals, repeated day after day after day.
The more often you practice the skills that support a healthy diet--planning your meals, shopping to stock a health-promoting pantry + fridge, and preparing simple + nutrient-packed meals--the easier it gets and the more consistent you become.
This is where a health coach like myself can be a tremendous asset, providing practical resources, but perhaps even more importantly accountability.
Got a goal? Be consistent in your efforts toward achieving it! And be in touch if you need support (which may or may not include a kick in the ass when your efforts don't support your goals).
I eat a rotation of similar meals, I buy the same clothes over and over again, I do specific workouts on specific days, I order the same meal from the same small group of restaurants I frequent, I run the same roads and trails, and while I like to challenge myself and try a new thing here and there, I am very much a fan of staying in the comfort zone.
When some friends were talking about forming a team of eight to run the Ragnar Trail race outside of Richmond, VA, it didn't even cross my mind to join them. It's a relay race where each runner completes about 15 miles of trail running broken into three segments, coming to a total of 120 miles over 24 loops and 24-ish hours, while camping out to complete the feat. The running trails part sounded great, but the camping part? Not so much. I have never slept outdoors in my 40 years, and I saw no reason to start. Plus the group is a tight clique of friends with their own vocabulary of inside jokes, and I'm somewhat on the outside
So yeah, outside my comfort zone.
At one point months ago, I offered to be an alternate if anyone dropped, figuring no one would drop.
And then someone dropped, and to my own surprise, I didn't hesitate to say YES when I was asked to fill in.
The race was this past weekend. Holy smoke was I outside my comfort zone, and damned if I didn't have a great time. While the group was generally laid back, we had good leadership and we planned well in the weeks leading up. We had a few camping pros in the group who made sure we'd have the right equipment. We made new inside jokes. We ate ALL THE CARBS and endured a damp, cold, mostly sleepless night together. The trails themselves were fun--well-marked and very runnable, but with big muddy patches providing their own source of challenge. We were each other's best cheerleaders in completing each loop, and we celebrated wildly as our final runner came through.
The comfort zone is a great place to be, but the occasional trek outside the zone--under the right circumstances--is an awesome place, too. (Just to be clear, though, I am NOT lining up my next camping trip!)
You've got fitness and health goals. You're exercising. You're eating lots of vegetables and making way fewer trips to the drive through. You've made all these positive changes--so why do you feel so lousy and why hasn't the scale budged?
How's your sleep?
Poor sleep has such a tremendous impact on our health, and is a key part of the weight loss puzzle. A body deprived of sleep experiences changes in the levels of hormones that determine hunger and satiety. That means lousy sleep—less than 7 hours per night consistently—can make you hungrier, and you're more likely crave crappy food. It can also impact the way we store and lose fat, so you’re getting hit in every direction.
And don’t forget: Your body adapts to all those tough workouts as you sleep. No sleep, no gainz, friends.
Hours before you pull back the covers, you can create a relaxing environment to ease into a great night of sleep:
Make it a routine. Going to bed at the same time(-ish) nightly makes it easier for your body and brain. If your bedtimes vary wildly, your body may not respond when you hit the pillow earlier.
Screens off an hour before bed. The powerful artificial light coming from our TVs, laptops, phones and tablets interferes with our natural sleep/wake cycle, likely because it suppresses the production melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Give yourself at least one screen-free hour before heading to bed, and keep those screens out of the bedroom—including your smart phone. Use the alarm on your phone if need be to set a one-hour warning before bedtime.
In addition to the light your phone emits (not to mention the dinging and buzzing), just having the phone within reach creates a tension that can interfere with sleep as you it tempts you to check email or game scores just one more time.
Dim those lights. While we’re talking about disruptive light, scan your bedroom with the lights out and look for other electronics that emit a light, including overly bright digital clocks, and power switches to fans, dehumidifiers and other gadgets. Either remove those items from the bedroom or cover those lights (a small piece of electrical tape works wonders).
Listen up and slow down. Make a habit of listening to quiet music or comforting recorded sound (like rain storms, beach sounds or other white noise) in the hour before bed. As you listen nightly, your brain will make a Pavlovian connection, learning this sound is the cue you’re settling in for the night and preparing for sleep.
Strike a pose. Several studies—including this one by Harvard—demonstrate regular yoga practice leads to better sleep. Don’t have time? One pose that’s especially gentle and effective for relaxing before bed is Viparita Karani, aka legs up the wall. Begin moving into the pose by sitting sideways against the wall with your legs out straight in front of you, then as you lie down with your back perpendicular to the wall, gently place your legs up against the wall. If you feel any tightness in the back of your legs, simply move your backside farther away from the wall. This inversion releases tension in your lower back and recirculates the blood, and with your phone already put away for the evening, you can take a few moments to just breathe and relax. Start with a minute or two in this pose and work your way up to several minutes. Those with high blood pressure or serious neck and back issues will want to talk to a doctor before trying this or any inversion.
Your bedroom should be…your bedroom. When your bedroom also serves as a TV room, an office or a makeshift dining room, it’s no longer a restful sanctuary with all the important cues that invite sleep. Your bedroom is for rest, sex and that’s it. Leave work, bright light and distractions out of the bedroom so your body and brain make the connection this is a place of relaxation.
Breathe easy. As you settle into bed, take a few deep, slow breaths, or practice a simple breathing exercise like the 4-7-8 breath: Breathe in through the nose for a count of 4, hold that breath in for a count of 7, then push out the breath forcefully for a count of 8. Repeat the exercise four times. Your focus on counting and breathing means you’re not focused on your to-do list, and you’ll drift off to sleep.
Need support in adapting healthful habits to achieve your health and fitness goals? Get in touch for a consult!
Some clients get it right away. I provide them with knowledge and practical skills to make healthful eating a priority and they run with it.
Others need more time. They understand the basics of a healthful lifestyle, but their environment, habits, emotions, old patterns and irrational rationalizations stand in the way of progress. But those clients who continue to chip away at it, taking ownership of those obstacles and consistently inching forward, achieve real and lasting change.
In either case, when it "clicks," and a client makes and experiences real change in his or her life is a beautiful thing to see, and it's why I love this challenging work.
Thanks to this client for sharing this wonderful update, and for allowing me to share it (with all identifying information removed).
If you're wondering whether health coaching is right for you, get in touch to schedule a consult and let's find out! Consults are F-R-E-E- if you sign up for a package of services, so there's nothing to lose.
Wow--the response to the lectures I've presented this spring on being a vegan athlete has been amazing! Clearly the topic of fine tuning our diets for sports performance is of interest, likely in part due to hubbub around films like James Cameron's The Game Changers, and the forthcoming book by vegan ultrarunning record-breaking Scott Jurek.
It's been a pleasure talking about the potential and pitfalls of choosing this lifestyle, and I've fielded some fantastic questions.
Those in attendance have ranged from long-time vegans, to new vegetarians, to those just curious about this diet and lifestyle. I met new runners, a couple ladies pursuing a half-marathon in every state (they even have plans for the boring states!), and runners of all ages looking to raise their game.
By popular demand, I'm hosting this talk ONE MORE TIME: Join me at TriSport Junction in Sykesville on Wednesday, April 18th, and let’s talk about the plant-based athlete! RSVP HERE.
Questions I'll be sure to answer include:
- Will going vegan make me faster?
- Do vegans recover more quickly?
- Will I have to supplement?
...and the big one:
- Where do vegan athletes get their protein?
Hope to see you on the 18th!
Got too many questions for a group talk? Let's meet one-on-one! Contact me here to make an appointment.
Blame social media, blame extreme sports, blame human nature and our need to constantly one-up each other, but over the last few years, a dangerous perception has become normalized: On the day after leg day, if you can get off the toilet without gripping the wall and grimacing in pain, you didn't work hard enough.
There is a commonly accepted idea that only drastic, painful workouts will advance you toward your fitness goals--including weight loss goals. If your workout is not excessively complicated, and if you're not in pain during--and especially after--your workout, it won't have any impact on your fitness.
This couldn't be further from the truth. Unless your fitness goals include being a model or competing athletically at a professional level, every workout doesn't have to decimate you.
And this on National Walking Day, I want to remind you that regular walking--especially outdoors--can be a fantastic way to gain fitness, manage and prevent lifestyle diseases, lift your mood, and yes, even lose weight. Multiply the benefits by drafting in a friend or family member (two- or four-legged), finding a tree-lined trail to explore, and--this is important--walking consistently.
I am SO EXCITED to share news about a wonderful product I am thrilled to endorse--but first a bit of background. As we strive to understand why some segments of the population seem to manage a healthy weight despite risk factors, an amazing finding was discovered.
A study of 750 taxi drivers as well as Uber and Lyft drivers in the United States was recently completed, studying the dietary, exercise and sleep habits of a sample size comprised of 64% males and 36% females of a range of ethnicities and age groups:
- Across the board, the group was significantly sleep deprived, averaging between 5.25-5.75 hours of nightly sleep
- Diets were rated nutritionally devoid, with a tremendous intake of saturated fats, cholesterol, refined flours, added sugar, and a significant portion of meals from fast food and take out establishments
- The occupation itself is sedentary, and only a small segment of the study participants reported exercising more than once per month.
But here's the amazing finding: 87.85% of the participants maintained a healthy body weight.
Tremendous follow-up was performed to identify common factors that could contribute to this unexpected finding.
Any guesses what that common factor was?
The little Christmas tree deodorizer! A team of scientists identified the compound in these rearview mirror miracles, and improved on it, adding raspberry ketones, a dip in a garcinia cambogia solution and a spritz of Hydroxycut, and we now have a fantastic product available to YOU:
I am proud to endorse SNIFF A-WEIGH, the first scientifically-enhanced weight loss tool that allows you to shed the pounds while driving--or even just sitting in your driveway or the parking lot of your gym that you never have to walk into again!
Order yours now for a monthly recurring payment of just $29.99, cancelable with 90 days notice: Click HERE to order.
In the mid-eighties, PowerBar, the first "energy bar" was introduced to the market by a marathon runner who saw the need for a highly portable product with a big rush of carbohydrates and calories. It was of a molar-extracting consistency, hard and gooey at the same time, tasting of sweetness and sadness, designed to provide a wallop of energy to endurance exercisers.
30 years later and bars have become a ubiquitous part of the busy American's diet. In the bar section of your local grocery store, pharmacy or "sports nutrition" store (notice my "quotes"), the bar section looks an awful lot like the candy section, with brightly colored bars enticingly arranged.
You'll find bars that are nutritionally similar to a candy bar, some with glut of protein from dubious sources, many with more fiber than should be able to fit into such a small bar, plenty of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, expensive bars with funky infusions of "adaptogenics," and others made from natural ingredients stuck together with goo. They range from $.99 to upwards of $3-4 each.
A question I get quite frequently is, "Which bar is best for breakfast?"
To which my typical response is, why the heck would you want to eat a bar for breakfast?
The bar is not the problem, though. The problem is a much bigger issue making us sick and fat:
We are trying to cram in food as quickly as possible instead of listening to what our bodies what to eat, and using our senses to savor and enjoy our food.
We are devaluing our food and by extension, our bodies.
There's nothing wrong with having a bar every once in a while when you can't get to a proper meal. But it belongs as the exception, not the go-to.
Even the best of bars, identifiable by the fact they are made with actual real food clearly discernible on the nutrition panel, pack a relatively significant chunk of calories into a small package. Part of satiety--that is, staying full--is volume. Eat a small bar for breakfast--even one packed with 300 calories--and you're likely to be hungry again long before lunch.
Instead, why not take 10 minutes and enjoy a breakfast like a bowl of overnight oats with fruit, avocado spread on sprouted whole grain bread, oatmeal with nuts and seeds, or umpteen other quick and delicious options you can make and eat in less than 10 minutes.
Honor your body with real food the majority of the time, and your body will thank you.
Need support in breaking up with bars and eating healthful, filling food that's fast? Let's talk.