The Magic Equation for Success

I often get questions from people on what are the most important things they can do to see change whether that is weight loss, toning up or addressing health issues.  The equation for success is a simple 3 step process:  Set a goal, be realistic about what you can/cannot do and whatever your plan is be consistent.  That’s it!  The magic formula that stands between you and crushing it.

 

Fitness success formula

So why then is it so hard?  Why do people often fail?  Did you know that approximately 70% of people who start an exercise program quit?! Talk about the odds stacked against you. But the question still remains why did your plan fail?  Starting is step #1 and a great accomplishment but without the proper amount of forethought before beginning your plan motivation quickly slides into a slippery downhill slope.

Now the story can go two ways…. there are those of you who are like “yeah that’s totally me, I just can’t stick with a plan no matter how hard I try”.  On the flip side, there are others who say “I did have a plan and a goal but I saw no results so I just quit”.  Do you think Simone Biles got to the olympics by throwing the towel in?  Hell no, she tried it again and again and again until she perfected her craft.

So then what sets these two groups apart?  Why did one plan fall through and the other plan play out like an airplane stuck on a runway? Lets take a look into what happened in both scenarios:

Scenario #1: “I just can’t stick with a plan no matter how hard I try”

For the majority of you, chances are you fall into a version of the above (based on the previous stat at the beginning of the article). It’s ok the great thing is that it is NEVER too late to start again.  In the words of Janis Joplin, “Tryyyy just a little bit harder”.  So how can you try a little harder?  Let’s be frank, you need to set a goal.  That’s usually the biggest missing piece it’s lack of clarity from what you want and are expecting to achieve.  If you don’t know what you want, no one else will either. So my advice to you is come up with a solid plan… think it through.  What do you want?  What are your expectations?  Are they too high?  By all means it is good to challenge yourself but if you set some super high expectation of yourself that’s almost just as bad as not setting one at all.  Start small…. crush it…. set a new goal again and again and again.

So what are some types of goals you can try out if you need some ideas?

  1. Upcoming event  – for some of you maybe you have a vacation or wedding or event coming up in a few weeks, months etc that you want to look your damn best for.  What’s great about this goal is there is a clear date and a clear timeline to follow.  You know exactly how much time you have and are committing to.  The trick though is once you nail your goal don’t stop and say “ok I’m good i’m going to go back to being lazy now”.  NO! Set another goal…..  see below for some more ideas.
  2. Health related – Maybe you went to the doctor recently and uncovered that you are overweight or have high cholesterol, or worse are pre-diabetic or maybe you just want to be able to have enough energy to keep up with your kids. Whatever it is don’t just sit there wishing you could do something different just do it!  Use that goal as your driver to get healthy and benchmark your change.  By 6 months from now I want to be 20 lbs down or by my annual health exam next year I want to lower my cholesterol.
  3. Vanity goal – Maybe honestly you just want to look good.  You want to wear those size 4 or 6 pants you buried in your closet for the last 10 years or you want to see definition in your abs or firm up your butt. That’s ok too.  In this case find and clip pictures of what you aspire to be, how you want to look and use those pictures along the way as motivation toward your goal.  Just keep in mind realistic expectations… unless you are willing to supplement time, nutrition and hardcore years of training/clean eating most people will never look like the airbrushed models in a magazine (sorry!).  But that’s ok, be your best version of you.

The great thing is that once you start a plan that you thought out and succeed, that success will continue to motivate you to smash your goals again and again!  In the words of Sagi Kalev in Beachbody’s program Master Hammer & Chisel, “Are you a hammer or are you a nail?”.  Be the hammer….

Crush it!

Scenario #2: “I did have a plan but saw no results so I quit”

It’s ok, I’m not going to yell and say you didn’t try hard enough, I don’t know your situation.  But I do have a question for you.  What didn’t work?  Did you set a realistic goal?  Did you focus on exercise AND diet?  After all it takes two to tango.  You can kill it day in and out at the gym but if your diet is filled with crap choices your going to be stuck in the same spot like a hamster running on a wheel. To really succeed you need to be realistic too… maybe you were too extreme with exercise and diet and burned out before seeing any changes?  Think back on why you quit and then try again a different way or with a more defined goal in mind.  See how that works.

Look, no matter which scenario resonates with your current situation it is never too late to figure out what works but you have to be willing to try and no one can motivate you more than you can yourself.  Check out some of the other articles on this site to help inspire your new workout plan and diet and apply the 80/20 rule to all that you do.

Lastly, in this super long post, I do want to take a moment to congratulate those of you reading this that have figured out what works for you.  I know there are at least a few of you out there killing it and seeing really great results.  You, my friends are what can help the rest.  Share your success and what works for you.  Remember, we are all in this together…. we only have one life to live so let’s make the most of it.

By Kim Hale, founder of HoneyCrunched Fitness

 

Advertisements

Cardio Day Do’s and Don’ts

stretching before cardio

C-A-R-D-I-O, what’s that spell?  Cardio! (Insert dramatic eye roll here). What’s your definition of cardio?  If you’d ask a group of people I suspect you would find a different answer from all of them.  Maybe you like to run or take long walks, maybe your more of a get in go hard and get out in 15-20 minutes in which case HIIT is for you,  whatever your type cardio plays an essential role in heart and cardiovascular health.  Cardio also releases those endorphins that make us feel good while managing to help elevate our metabolism.  It’s an essential building block of a healthy lifestyle.

Everyone I have spoken to about cardio gives you a wide range of emotions about how they feel waking up knowing it’s cardio day.  There is the one type of person that absolutely loves cardio and focuses most if not all their weekly workouts around spinning, running, rowing , jumping etc.  The second type doesn’t mind getting a little sweaty and out of breath few times a week, and our last type hates it almost as bad as a kid hate getting a shot at the doctor’s office.

I fall somewhere between the last two categories. I used to be a 100% focused cardio-a-holic! I loved it and my lungs and endurance sure did too… but let’s be frank cardio is downright exhausting! I was not doing it because it was my favorite thing to be doing at 5am in the morning I was doing it because I feared that the only way to maintain my weight/not gain weight was doing a large amount of cardio – all the time.  WRONG.  So it wasn’t until I forced myself to try a new Beachbody program, Master Hammer and Chisel that I learned there is a much better way!  I could lift weights and increase my strength and stability in every day things like pushing doors and picking up my daughter while changing how my body looked.  You definitely work up a sweat and increase your heart rate lifting weights and yes I did have 1-2 cardio days a week I just didn’t live or die by cardio like my former self.  Here’s a great article if you are on the fence about cardio benefits versus weights from Precision Nutrition:.

But what works well for me and my body goals may not be the same things you like or the goals you have.  However amongst it all there are a few guiding rules when it comes to cardio and reaping benefits from it versus going overboard:

DO make sure to incorporate cardio weekly. 

What’s your goal? Weight loss?  Incorporate 3-4 cardio sessions a week.  Gain muscle/maintain you can get away with 2 no more than 3 days of cardio a week.

But, DON’T overdo the cardio.

I repeat… do not. Rather if you have tank in the gas ditch your go to cardio routine for some pilates, yoga or strength training substitute.  Overdoing cardio leads to low levels of energy, feeling burned out, and is not going to change your physique the way you want.  Seriously…  think about your goals and answer this question:  Would you rather be a smaller version of your current self or would you rather be more defined “toned” and stronger?  Excess cardio with no weight training focus gives you a “skinny fat” physique versus adding in strength training (with or without weights).

DO mix up the intensity of cardio you do weekly.

Not every cardio session has to be max intensity or too low intensity.  Mix is up add a quick HIIT session,a low intensity walk, or a steadystate run into the week.  Not only will your mind thank you but it will keep your body guessing which promotes change and prevents plateaus.  Need some inspiration?  Check out Popsugar Fitness’ cardio workouts for inspiration.

DON’T starve yourself before doing cardio.  

Yes in some various states when all the stars are aligned if the intensity of your cardio is low enough you may just possible burn more fat doing cardio on an empty stomach…  but personally, I’d rather fuel myself with something small as opposed to nothing and be starving, sweating and running on E through the whole thing.

DO make sure you are mentally prepared for cardio

The worst thing you can do is force yourself to go for a run or through some HIIT routine when you are running on 3 hrs of sleep, or you went out and drank too much the night before, or you are feeling ill.  Not only will you suffer through the whole workout but this also can lead to bad form and potential injuries which would set you back even further from your goals.  Instead on these days DO workout but opt for something more manageable like yoga or pilates or even a nice walk outside.

How often do you like to do cardio a week?  Have any extra tips to share with us on what works for you?  Share in the comments below.

 

Why do Squats?

Squats, we love them we hate them, they love us they hate us…. the vicious circle goes on. But bottom line, squats are amazing for your health and creating a nice backside.  I mean come on, adding squats into your daily routine is proven to reduce the appearance of cellulite, gets all the blood flowing in your legs (hello desk job), while sculpting your butt and thighs at the same time.  And how could I leave out they are massive calorie burners ….  legs are your powerhouse with muscle density incorporating leg movement into your routine increases not only your muscular definition but also boosts your metabolism how awesome is that? If you ask me they are an essential piece to your workout and should not be left out!

squat

However, the types of squats you do, frequency, and if you are actually doing them right can make or break a lot of things…

Squat right.

So a squat seems pretty basic right?  But the question then becomes not if you can/can’t do a squat it’s are you doing them correctly?  Yeaahhh there is a huge difference.  Squats are awesome for your body but doing them wrong could really mess up your knees and alignment. I have seen time and time again at the gym people doing squats wrong. That is soooo bad for you.  You might be wondering, am I doing them right?  I don’t know!  Here’s a few tips to ensure your posture is where it needs to be.

  • Check your knees….  when in a squat can you see your toes if you look down?  If your knees are passing your toes you are not doing it correctly.  Stop now… injury ahead!  Realign yourself so you are sitting back far enough that you can see your toes when you look down.

Wrong

20170630_144638

Right (no squatting in flip flops is not a best practice!)

20170630_150806

  • Butt back – When you squat stick your butt out (no one’s judging 😉 ) You’ll ensure your form is correct and the knee over the toe issue will never become an issue.
  • How low can you go?  Just go low enough that you are still in control.  Going too low can be a problem too…  your knees should not start buckling in.  Stop and try it again this time not so low.

Squat frequently.

There are a myriad of squats and combing them ensure you are hitting all parts of your legs and glutes.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Basic squat
  • Sumo Squat
  • One leg squat (again watch your knees here)

20170630_144803

Aim for 10 of each squat variation above and repeat 3 times.  Try and incorporate 2-3 times a week.  Want to kick up your heart rate a bit?  Try adding a jump to the regular and sumo squat variations.

Incorporate Weights

I have said this time and again, do NOT fear lifting weights.  Fear what happens as you age if you don’t exercise or strength train (hello brittle bones).  That said, add some weight to your squats to fire your body up even more.  I recommend starting with 10lb weights in each hand and progressing from there.  Just to give you an idea (and proof) your legs will not get bulky I currently vary between sets anywhere from 15lb-30lb.

So get out there and squat it like it’s hot!

 

Diet Trends: Vegetarian diet

Vegetarian diet cookbooks

Photo courtesy of mriggen

I wanted to spend some time digging into our next diet trend centralized around no meat.  now this diet is often adopted for health reasons or due to certain religious beliefs, humanitarian beliefs, etc. . So eating strictly Vegetarian isn’t a “diet” per se it’s a way of life and I have no problem with that.  Basing ones diet around wholesome fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains is a great way to ensure your body is naturally flushing out toxins, your able to maintain a healthy weight etc.  It has a lot of positive benefits.

Let’s take a look into some of the proclaimed benefits of a Vegetarian based diet:

  • Supports weight loss
  • Increases longevity
  • Plant foods are rich in nutrients
  • Reduced risk of type-2 diabetes

Not so “pro”:

  • Can be difficult to meet daily protein requirements
  • Iron levels if not supplementing can plummet
  • Too much soy products has shown to increase changes of cancer especially in women
  • You can also gain weight if you choose to swap out meat for grilled cheese and fries on the reg 😉

All those pro’s sound great right?  Well, if you execute this diet correctly with ensuring you are getting enough sources of protein, iron and other essential vitamins and minerals then yes it’s a great healthy lifestyle to embrace.  However if you don’t know what you are doing and just cut out meat from your diet without backfilling your daily requirement things may not go exactly as planned.  Take it from my personal experience.

A couple of years back I decided to give up for Lent meat.  No biggie I thought, this is easy and good for me! So I cut out meat and filled my diet with veggies of all kinds, beans etc. Life was good.  Well a few weeks in I started feeling tired all of the time, my skin grew pale, rings under my eyes started to show and i just felt like crap.  I chalked it up to “I must be getting sick”.

Few weeks after I had to go in for blood work and my results showed something was funky in my bloodstream.  In fact so funky the doctor’s made me go to a Cancer Research center to get a deep look into what was going on in my blood cells.  That was scary!  Luckily all came back clean other than low nothing fishy going on there.  By this time Lent was just about over and my mom (who aside from being a nurse seems to know everything) mentioned that i was looking anemic and insisted that eating a steak would fix me.  And so I did, in fact I re-embraced all meat again.  And you know what?  It was like a freakin miracle, my bags disappeared, my energy levels returned and I just felt so much more, me.

Turns out I had depleted my body of the necessary amount of iron it needed to continue functioning correctly.  I hadn’t even thought about that!  In addition my energy levels returned as I increased the amount of protein and other vital minerals in my diet.

So why am I telling you this?  Well, I just want you to be cautious in your health decisions.  Not everything is right for everyone.  Being a vegetarian can be a wonderful thing, I know many people who do it well, but if you don’t know what you are doing it can hurt you as well.  This is true with any type of diet so if you try something and it doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel right stop and think about it.  Tae time to listen to your body and what it wants, needs, craves.  Bodies are so smart they know what we need and when we need it you just have to learn to listen.

Have you tried a Vegetarian based diet?  How did it work for you? What are some things you learned along the way that may help others looking to embrace this way of life?

 

 

Diet Trends – Fat Free/Low Fat Craze

8718103021_ac826f687b_z

I wanted to take some time to do a series of blog posts on various diets out there.  I know when faced with the goal of losing weight or getting healthy that there is so much information out there it is to our detriment. I also know that there are many “quick fix” diet plans and crazy low carb, no carb, high fat, low fat, high protein variations. With all these choices it is bound to drive a person crazy….  and fact of the matter is what is right for you might not be right for someone else.  So I’ll take you through some of the biggest fads and leave you to decide but ultimately a well rounded diet based on whole foods and exercise will always ensure long term success.

Fear of heart disease, high cholesterol, and an increasing waistline spurred this diet fad to emerge in the late 70’s. Can you guess what it is?  Yup, the reduced fat phase.  At this time in history all we knew was that some preliminary studies showed that egg yolks, red meats and other fats had shown an increase in heart related issues which was enough to declare a war against fat and in turn pro carbs (sigh).

The introduction to this diet spurred the food industry to start making tons of changes to remove whatever fat they could from their products and you started seeing Reduced fat cheese, low-fat cookies, fat-free butter… the list goes on.  However, one problem with this diet is that by stripping out fat from our diets we added in a bunch of sugars and chemicals to mimic that “fat” component.  High carb low-fat was for sure the way to go! Then of course in the 90’s the trend diet took full hold of America and we were avoiding fat at all cost.  Peanut butter, nuts, avocado’s, cheese and full fat yogurt and milk got the boot as did all those cooking oils.

Simply put, this diet is extremely flawed.  Unless you have super high cholesterol or another specific health reason to have to restrict fats from your diet this fad can actually do your body more harm than good.  Bodies need fat, it is essential to body energy, cell growth, your immune system, and reproductive systems.  Fat is not the devil! Without it our immune systems weaken, vitamin deficiencies can occur and because of the added chemicals in fat-free foods you can actually increase your risk of cancer!  Fat helps keep us feeling full throughout the day and squashes sugar cravings.

But all that said, eating the RIGHT type of fat is what is essential.  Yes fat can still be bad if by “fat” your brain automatically goes to pictures of fried food or rich desserts.  Those fats are still bad and yes they will always be bad… But fats occurring in natural, whole foods will not.  Those are the one’s you want to surround yourself around within your diet: avocado’s, cheese, egg yolks, nuts, coconut and olive oil.

Why do you think the Mediterranean diet is such a huge success all through the decades?  It’s based on a high fat diet but with the right fats and on that diet people are maintaining their healthy lifestyle, losing weight, protecting their hearts and are not walking around sugar-crazed and starving all day!

So to help you make the most of your healthy habits including exercise try incorporating a fat of some sort in every meal.  Eating a balanced diet (fat, carb, protein) diet is always essential to success but definitely don’t give fat the cold shoulder.

On a personal note, I have avoided fat for years.  I remember in my teens (90’s) jumping on that fat-free bandwagon and for years I stuck to my butter sprays, fat free rubber cheese, diet breads, and faux spreads/dressings.  But now I’m in my 30’s I have issues with my immune system, I’m always freezing and my reproductive health isn’t in A+ status. So my mission has been to add fats back into my diet in moderation from the right sources.  I have already noticed by adding in fats that I feel more full, i’m started to not feel as cold and I just seem to be in a better state of mind.

Here’s an example daily food log of mine:

Breakfast –  1/2 cup 2-4% cottage cheese with berries, 1 piece of sprouted bread with 1 tbsp chia flax peanut butter (I’m obsessed)

Snack – apple with 1/2 tbsp peanut butter

Lunch – Kale salad with chicken or tuna, red peppers, tomatoes, croutons, parmesan cheese, and 1/4 avocado with Champaign vinaigrette dressing

Snack – popcorn (Skinny Pop) and almond mix

Dinner – Salmon or chicken breast, lentils, and kale sautéed in coconut oil with mushrooms, lemon juice and red pepper

Dessert – Halo top ice cream (1 cup) with a rice cake smeared with 1 tsp peanut butter

Total calories: About 1800

Total Fat: 60 grams

Total Protein: 100-120 grams

What is your take on fat?  Do you incorporate enough fat in your diet or find success another way?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Full Body Workout (40 minute) – Get ready to get sweaty!

treadmill runningGet ready to get sweaty my friends!  Here’s a 40 minute full body workout for days when you just want to take it up a notch.  For best results sub into your weekly routines one time a week (aim for 2-3 additional days of high intensity/total body workouts).

The value that interval and total body training provide is extremely high!  Doing intervals of high/low intensity helps your body increases the afterburn effect on your body for hours after your workout is over!  Why spend time running or walking at a steady pace for an hour where you will only burn what you see on the machine? Why not add 20 minutes back into your busy life and increase caloric burn all day long!

This workout has 2 parts:  Part 1 Cardio & Part 2 Weight Training

Treadmill disclaimer: These are the speeds I am comfortable with, so please adjust accordingly to fit your fitness levels.  Just remember with intervals, aim to be able to talk just fine when jogging and pick up the intensity during  the sprint phases for max results.  Feel free to substitute treadmill for elliptical or bike if you prefer.

WORKOUT PART 1: Cardio

Warm-up (2-5 minutes): Treadmill walk at comfortable pace (3.0-3.5 mph/1% incline)

Workout: (15 minutes): Up incline to 1%-1.5%

  • 1 minute JOG or easy run (6.3 mph)
  • 40 seconds full on RUN (7.2 mph)
  • 20 seconds SPRINT (7.7-8.0 mph)

Repeat 5X above (approx 15 minute mark)

For the last 5 minutes begin a Walk/Run routine giving your glutes, calves and legs some attention:

  • Ease at JOG pace for 1 minute
  • Every 30 seconds reduce speed by .2mph and UP incline by .5% (stop when you get to about 3.5mph-3.8mph)
  • Once you hit 10% incline reverse back down dropping every 30 secs the incline by 1%

Recover (2-5 minutes) : Stay at 0%-1% incline reduce speed to 2.5mph-3.2mph)

WORKOUT PART 2: Weight Training

You may use dumbbells or cables for this routine (I used one of the cable pulley systems at my gym)

Tri Set ( repeat 3x increasing weights each set 8lb-10lb, 10-12lb, 12-15lb)

  • Front Raises – 12-15 reps with 8lb weights
  • Squat/Rows – 15 reps each arm.  Squat while doing single arm rows 10lbs.  Maintain squat while you switch arms.
  • Tricep Overhead Press – 15 reps 10lbs – While bent over/back straight pull cable with both arms over head until arms are straight. (you should feel it in the back of your arms upon each extension).

Ab Rotation: 15 Rotations each side, repeat 2x.  Pull cable or weight across torso with both arms. Should feel entire core twisting.

Cool down: stretch out arms and legs.  I like downward dog, deep lunges, and traditional arm stretches.

Hope you enjoy this workout! Let me know if you find it valuable!

Simplified New Year’s Resolutions

2015 resolutions and change It’s been awhile since our last post, but it sure feels good to be back.  The new year always offers us an opportunity to bring about change, do something different, start over right?

What new year resolutions did you make for 2015? Patience? To lose weight or eat healthier? Or was it something like to go to church more often or give back to the less fortunate? Whatever you chose did you stick with it thus far? if not what struggles have you had?

January brings about a time of change and acknowledgement in that which we like or dislike about ourselves.  It exposes our flaws, regrets, and hangups while allowing us an opportunity to rectify those negatives and start anew.  We make our new year resolutions whole heartedly and swear we are committed to seeing through the change.

My first new years resolution is to try and  relax more, let go of all the unnecessary stress we sometimes let get to us and as my mother likes to say, “just chill”.   My second primary resolution is to focus on the nutrition that is going into my body. Trying specifically to rid of those “unnatural”  additions like high fructose corn syrup, soybean oils, and even a surplus of “excess wheat.”

While those two resolutions may seem totally unrelated, they all combine into one clear theme… simplicity.  I’m bringing back simplicity as we so often over-complicate our lives.  We over think and over analyze everything.

I look forward over the coming weeks to share with you ways and ideas to help you reach your health and fitness goals without over complicating your lives.  Who has time for that right?

I also hope to hear more about your success and struggles. What ways you’ve simplified your life and it’s helped you reach your goals? What were/are your goals? What failures have you had and learned from?