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

 

The Secret to Gorgeous Abs

 Ever heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”?  Well it’s true, seriously!  Abdominal definition goes beyond doing a billion crunches or even just “eating healthy”.   Don’t get me wrong your abs and body very much do need at LEAST the minimum amount of daily/weekly activity recommended BUT the biggest change you can make when you are not working out is in your diet way of life.
 healthy foods
Photo via Flickr by Aria Ziai
It’s not about the amount of food you eat (within reason of course).  Nor is it about starving yourself with just smoothies or salads to reach your target weight.  Do you have a plan for after you hit that number?  How will you sustain?  This is how the vicious cycle of lose some, gain more is achieved.  To really make a difference you need to create a workable way of life that you will stick with long after bikini season comes to a close.
One of the biggest areas of impact you can have in the kitchen is the quality of food going in your mouth.  Don’t be shy, raise your hands… how many of you look at labels for the items you buy BEFORE you buy them?  That’s what I thought… the fact is most people don’t nor do they know when they do what they are looking for.  Below are just a few basic guidelines to help you avoid those bloating, artificial junk foods that call your name loudly when you are perusing the grocery aisles at your  local Target or Mariano’s etc:
Mantra in life and while grocery shopping: I have standards!
Rule 1. If it has more than 5 ingredients do NOT buy it
Rule 2. if the first 3 ingredients aren’t even related to what the items it’s a big NO (ex tomato sauce should not have #1 ingredient sugar it should be tomato, water, salt that’s about it maybe some seasoning).
Rule 3. NO yellow #5 (aka Kraft mac and cheese… switch to Annie’s brand or another alternative).  Yes may cost your family $.15 more sense but the health benefits outweigh that price.  Simple put, yellow #5 is crap and it’s been known to cause hyperactivity in children.  Yellow #5 is even in goldfish!  So not kid friendly…
Rule 4. Corn syrup, palm oil, high fructose corn syrup -is you see these ingredients ditch it they are just garbage.
Rule 5. enriched white enriched wheat enriched anything NO (this one is least of all but is a reason for belly bloat).  I think this is the hardest one as it’s really in everything.
Look for cane sugar, honey, agave as sweeteners. Corn is good too so cornmeal, corn chips, tortillas if corn not flour all good.  All natural ingredients skip the sugary enriched crap.  Lots of veggies quinoa, brown rice, lots of protein but not modified protein.
Here’s some of my favorite brands you can go to as alternatives to what you are using today:
  • Ezekiel bread products
  • Amy’s Brand
  • Annie’s
  • Rudi’s
  • Skinny Pop or Angie’s
  • Skinny Sticks (great flavors)
  • Trader Joe lentil chips…yum. Actually trader joe is a fantastic inexpensive way to eat healthy on a reasonable budget.
  • Applegate
  • Boar’s Head Natural
  • Most Kashi
  • Honest

 

These are just a few of the brands I like.  Some of your favorite brands can be still enjoyable as a lot of these companies do have less evil alternatives to the foods you love it just takes quick research in the aisle initially.  Once you find your favorites it should be easy weekly just to pick these up and add into the mix.  You and your family’s health is worth it!

 

By Kimberly Hale

 

Chia, the superfood that makes you grow?

The term Superfood has burst into the nutrition scene with a roar over the past two years.  Doctors, health experts, nutrition advisors, personal trainers…. everyone is talking about the holy grail or cornerstone of our nutrition. The extensive list includes everything from salmon and blueberries to the lesser known foods like quinoa (which also burst into the nutrition scene) and chia seeds.  

Since it would take me all day to go in-depth about each one of the superfoods, I will save you the grief and focus on Chia seeds. Maybe my mind is warped but I can’t help but envision those iconical commercials we’ve seen for years with some animal or person or even inanimate object that when slathering seeds on top makes it sprout into a giant bush.  In fact I just saw one the other day for Duck Dynasty… surprise surprise!

So to put aside all doubt in my mind I decided to research this mystical seed.  But no joke, Chia is for real and packed with super value.  No you can’t climb Mount Everest after consuming some but here are some of its awesome benefits.  For one tiny seed, it undoubtably packs a punch:

chia seed benefits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: http://metro.co.uk/2012/08/07/can-chia-seeds-live-up-to-their-billing-as-the-latest-superfood-on-the-block-526881/

Now that you see the value in the seed what the heck can you do with it?  Here’s some ways to “slip” it into your daily routine:

  • Sprinkle in your oatmeal
  • Blend in with your smoothie
  • Add seeds to the top of your salad
  • Mix in a stir fry
  • Munch on as a snack

Now that you know the true value this superfood holds.   It seems inevitably easy to incorporate it somehow into your daily nutrition.

Have you tried Chia seeds?  Any creative recipes you’ve come up with to include these?  Let us know!

Diet advice flipped upside down

diet advice ecard

Over the years doctors, nutritionists, fitness professionals, and health advocates have backed a ton of really contradictory advice for what the golden ticket to weight loss is.  I’m sure two weeks from today there will be some other new finding discrediting something we thought was good to do only to have that re-credited one year later.  Think of the studies on caffeine.  It’s bad for you, it’s good for you, we don’t know what the effects are!  So darn confusing!

So what’s on this ground shattering list that made me want to pull my hair out in frustration?  Here’s a few of the highlights that were privy to make Shape’s Top 10:

Here’s a rundown of 5 out of the 10 diet rules that made the list:

1.  Skip breakfast if you want –  Non-morning people rejoice!  Just because you don’t have time to eat breakfast in the morning, don’t feel like it or simply just didn’t wake up in time you are not missing a thing!  Just make sure you don’t overeat later in the day because of it

2. It’s okay to eat a big dinner – I LOVE this one because that’s my daily routine.  I am conservatively healthy throughout the day and dinner is my bulk of my calories (granted I don’t over-indulge on fries and cheeseburgers) but nonetheless my calorie intake equals about the same as my breakfast and lunch combined.  Healthy objective?  Not necessarily but it fits within my daily calorie allotment and is most of the time nutritionally sound.

3. Snacking does not effect metabolism – This one I have a problem with to be blunt.  From what I’ve always heard and been taught eating throughout the day is way better in turns of turning up the metabolic fat burning dials.  This article however argues that you could eat more this way and it’s just as okay to eat a large breakfast/lunch to hold you over.

4.  Eat carbs to get lean –   Meaning no don’t go for a loaf of sugar filled generic wheat bread, but do feed your body the carbs it needs through better unprocessed foods with carbs.   You have to figure ridding your body of anything it needs to perform at it’s best (especially if active your body needs carbs!) will eventually take its toll.

5. Exercise on an empty stomach – Who wants to stuff a bagel in their mouth or drink a big sloshy protein shake and go to a plyometrics class, raise your hand!  Yea, that’s what I thought no one.  I am a big advocate of exercising in the morning on an empty stomach.  No I don’t pass out, no my bod doesn’t go into starvation mode.  I do feel however that it keeps me feeling lighter and moving faster.  Just my opinion though…

This weight loss advice article  pretty much confirmed as I had expected: the only thing for certain that guarantees losing or maintaining your weight is simple: don’t over eat!  Calories in, calories out –  like mathematics there is only one right answer this way.   Living by this simplistic approach rules out all the outliers and keeps you at least somewhat sane of mind.  Once you know your magic number that’s all you need.  How you figure out that number can be through a variety of factors as extreme as going through bloodwork and metabolic testing to using a daily fitness tracker or a “guesstimate” online tool.

How do these pieces of advice fit into what you already know or have heard about losing weight? Do you agree or does this make you angry?  Do you feel like you’ve been duped?  Let’s hear it!

Source:  Surprising Weight-Loss Tips and Diet Advice You Need to Know – Shape Magazine – http://www.shape.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-strategies/10-unbelievable-diet-rules-backed-science
Written by Kimberly Hale

Oh Coconuts! Coconuts and Your Health

broken coconutYou may have noticed the rising trend in products made with coconuts over the past year and a half.  You probably have seen and continue to see dozens of products like coconut extract, coconut oil, coconut milk.  Just like greek yogurt, once suppliers saw it had a demand in the marketplace, they naturally went nuts creating every type of coconut product out there!  But what are all these people making such a fuss about and is there really a benefit to coconuts?

Well yes and no… this nutritious food is high in vitamins and minerals. It may have been perceived in the past that coconuts had a lot of saturated fat however research has shown that its a fat of a different caliber.  Similar to olive oil the health benefits far outweigh the negatives.  Let’s take a look at some of the less traditional coconut items you see on the shelf today and whether or not they are worth those few extra bucks or are just a phase:

1. Coconut Milk It used to be the only thing you would picture when hearing coconut milk were those little cans in the Thai food aisles at your local grocer. We knew used sparingly they were awesome but they were also loaded with fat, calories, and sugar. @ell since then additional “coconut milk” variations have been created. Brands like “So Delicious” and “Blue Almond” have lines of milks and yogurt from coconut both flavored and unflavored. Best bet? Forgo the extra sugar and get the unsweetened kind.

2. Coconut Oil – Hair, body, cooking what can’t you use this product for? This is one of the most versatile products out there and can be used as a deep conditioner for hair. Slather some as a body butter on your body after a shower. Spoon it into your frying pan next time you cook, coconut oil is great at handling consistently high temps from the stove. This oil is even incorporated in some medical treatments.

3. Coconut Water – This flavored water comes from the center of young green coconuts.  It has a high percent of potassium, sodium, magnesium and is fat-free. However please be aware that although the water is fat-free it is not free of calories. So trading your favorite sports drink for this water might not be your cup of tea.

These are just a few of the recent trending categories for products.  Coconuts have been used forever in creating delectable desserts, garnishes dishes, and creating amazing soups.  I will say if I could make a recommendation, grab a jar of coconut oil.  My favorite store, Trader Joe’s, has a jar of coconut oil for like $5.99.  Test it out and let me know what you think.

Have a coconut use or recipe you swear by?  Let us know, we’d love to hear about it!

Written by Kimberly Hale

 

You Are What You Eat (Featured Guest Post)

girl holding salad and chocolate cakeThe foods you eat are choices you make every day. Choices about what you eat, when you eat it, and how much you eat; however, determine more than just satisfying your schedule and your appetite.  They affect your health, your immune system, your blood glucose levels, your energy levels, your bones, joints and every organ in your body.  If you’re wondering if “you are what you eat”, the answer is a resounding YES.  And practicing good nutrition habits can make a world of difference, not to mention reduce the risk of short-term and long-term illness and disease.

Food Affects Your Glucose and Insulin Levels

If you have diabetes, understanding how various food affects blood glucose is very important.  Having diabetes means that your body has trouble controlling blood glucose levels. When blood glucose stays too high for too long, serious health problems can develop. However, by controlling your blood glucose through medication, exercise and most importantly diet, you can delay or prevent problematic conditions associated with diabetes, such as kidney malfunctions, eye problems, heart disease and other complications.  According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), following a diabetes meal plan can help you keep your blood glucose levels on track.

Insulin does a lot of things for the body, most importantly, it helps glucose move from the blood into your muscle cells, where it can be used for energy. Some oral diabetes medications help you produce more insulin or help your insulin work more efficiently, so your medications and food plan have to work together. If you take insulin shots, you need to be especially careful to match the amount of carbohydrates you eat with your insulin dose. If you eat too many carbs without adjusting your insulin dose, your blood glucose might spike. If you consume too few carbohydrates, your blood glucose might bottom out, or become too low.  Your physician can help you match your food choices to the medication that has been subscribed to you.

Immune-Boosting Foods

A healthy lifestyle is your first line of defense for good health and a strong immune system. Your body simply functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies.  Make sure you’re eating a diet high in fruits, whole grains and vegetables; exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight; cut down on smoking and drinking; get adequate sleep and control your blood pressure. These steps make a significant difference, and can really help as you age.

While some people age healthily, studies compared the elderly with younger people, and found that the elderly are far more likely to contract infectious diseases because of a lower immune system. Respiratory infections, pneumonia and influenza are leading causes of death for those over 65.  Eating healthy foods increases the production of T-cells, which help fight off infection and helps the body’s ability to mount a more vigorous immune response.

Eat Food Every 6 Hours

You can manage your blood glucose better if you eat the same amount of food at the same time every day. That keeps your glucose levels stable and helps your medication work best. Overloading or under-loading yourself with food surprises is not great for the body.  Eating every 5 to 6 hours ensures that your body is consistently getting nutrients, and those nutrients regulate blood glucose.  If you can’t eat a full meal, try snacking.  Healthy snacks are a fantastic way to reduce those “lows” you get throughout the day, due to low glucose levels.

Your body needs food.  Don’t let anyone tell you that eating less often is better.  Sure you want to avoid bad foods low in nutrition and high in calories, but with good foods like fruits and vegetables, you can literally eat a lot more than you thought, and you’ll experience regulated glucose levels and a healthy weight in the process.

Eat Smart

Carbohydrates can make or break you.  They are foods that have the biggest effect on your blood glucose levels. After you eat carbohydrates, your blood glucose rises.  Starches, sweets, dairy  and fruits all contain carbohydrates. Although carbohydrates are important for health, when you eat too many at once, your blood glucose can rise too high.  Other carbs, such as sweet potatoes and vegetables, are better for you and less risky when considering a glucose spike.  Additionally, avoiding processed foods and eating more fiber and nutrients is another good strategy.

If you’re overweight, you can eat the same foods as everyone else, but the devil is in the details. A smart meal plan will tells you when, what and how much to eat.  It’s important not to completely deprive yourself of the foods you like, so your diet can include your favorite foods.  Just make sure your meal plan is also covering the following:

  • Fruits and Vegetables

  • Low-Fat Dairy

  • Whole grains

  • Fish, eggs, peas, poultry, dried beans and lean meats

Micro-Nutrients

To have a strong immune response, you need regular nourishment. There is evidence that suggests that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Various “micronutrient” deficiencies — for example, deficiencies in vitamins A, B6, C, and E, as well as zinc, copper, iron, folic acid and selenium — alter immune responses. If you suspect your diet is not providing you with all your micronutrient needs, taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement brings health benefits of many types, especially a healthy immune system. Taking megadoses of a single vitamin does not. More is not necessarily better.

Additionally, a number of vitamins and herbs can influence the immune system in good ways. These include things like ginseng, aloe vera, echinacea, garlic, licorice root and probiotics. And while science has not proven that these nutrients unequivocally promote good immune function, if you do choose to take these nutrients, it can’t hurt.

Bottom Line

Eating good, healthy and natural foods can constitute the keys to great health and a long life.  By choosing those foods that beneficially support the major functionality of your body, you’ll be on your way to health benefits you only thought were possible with youth and a rigid work out regiment.  Fortunately, your diet, (along with proper sleep and moderate exercise) is perhaps the most important health strategy you should focus on.  A healthy diet, more than any other healthy lifestyle choice, will give you the most rewards.

david novak journalist Written by: David Novak is an international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/.

Calories: Uncoding the label

Shifty serving sizes

Welcome to installment two of our nutrition labels uncoded.  Last segment we learned that the biggest active factor we can have on our health is to heed serving sizes.  Now, not all serving sizes are equal.  Something Americans in particular are poor at doing no thanks to restaurants which almost always give you more than one serving.  However serving size is by far only one of a handful of ingredients to check when determining if a product is worth your time.

I recently took a course through Vanderbilt University online for nutrition.  Throughout the 8 weeks we learned a lot about the state of the world when it comes to health.  We spent a good chunk of time weeding through labels and really getting to learn what a term means, why it’s there, how it’s there and most importantly how it impacts us.  Using the priceless knowledge I gained from that class i hope to provide great information to you to help you make better choices in the food aisles.  After all, they can be quite daunting.

This week is all about calories, a topic I could go on and on about because there’s so many added layers of complexity to it.  Calories fall at the top of the nutrition label and sitting right next to them are “calories from fat”.   Too high daily intake of calories from fat is what can lead to weight gain and up your chances for cancers/heart issues.   But if you are eating the right types of calories chances are the calories from fat will also reflect that.

We all need calories, aka energy, to make our bodies run.  A lot of people think that “calories are bad” or “calories make you fat”.  But that’s not true.  Yes they can definitely make you fat, however if you’re getting your calories from the right types of foods,  we won’t be in that type of situation right?  It’s really large amounts over time of garbage calories that get us in trouble (fries, bacon, cheese, white bread, candy, pizza, butter, fatty meats, etc.)

So how many calories do we need a day?  The basis for the daily values is out of 2,000 calories.  However for less active people that’s just too much and for really active folks too little.  There are many calculators out there that help estimate how many calories you need a day, but the reality is none of them are going to nail it to a tee.  There are way too many factors like height, sex, age, body type, exercise, amount of exercise, type of exercise, condition of body (more muscular will burn more than someone the same age and size that carries more fat).  So you’re going to have to be realistic and estimate.  However DO NOT, I repeat do not put yourself below 1200 calories a day  unless it is doctors orders.  Your body needs calories to keep your metabolism kicking.  If you eat too little calories your body freaks out and thinks it’s starving.  In turn even the right calories can be used against you.  Your body starts to go into “starvation” mode and clings to the calories you are giving it for dear life.  So not only are you storing fat at this point your squashing your metabolism.  Not good.

Here’s a good starting place to help you figure out your needs.  Ask yourself if you are happy with your current weight, looking to lose weight or looking to gain.  From there spend about a week eating as you do but writing down the calories (yes factor in serving sizes!) that you are eating daily.  This will give you a baseline to see how many calories you’ve been at.  Now let’s look at the goal.  Stay the same weight?  Great! you know how much to eat now see if you can tweak how you are allocating those calories and squeeze in a few healthier choices overall.  Trying to lose weight?  Roughly 3500 calories make up a pound, so drop 300-500 calories daily from what you eat (not going below 1,200)  or start adding in additional forms of exercise daily and you should start seeing results.  Looking to gain weight?  Add 200-500 calories to your diet and load up on good stuff like protein, the right fats, etc.

To give you an example, here’s what I’ve found works best for me at this point in my early 30’s.  I’m 5’4″ and eat approximately 1500-1800 calories a day depending on the day/mood/hunger level.   I also live a fairly active lifestyle with hitting around 10,000 steps a day everyday.  One thing I’ve found has helped me reduce my weight post baby and stay at that new weight for a 4 years now was sticking to that routine.  I also literally eat all day long: breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack, dinner and yes I squeeze in dessert!  Also, 90-95% of my day is really healthy foods like oatmeal, greek yogurt, fruit, lots of veggies.   I do cave 1-2 meals out of the week and indulge in pizza or something worth it.   And this works for me.

So I hope I’ve helped educate you on calories in this article and using this information I suggest you try to map out your target daily calories.  let me know if you have any questions, need more information or have any advice for me?  I don’t believe anyone has a 100% fool-proof plan and can always take additional tips and tricks.

Have a great plan in place already?  Great!  Tell us about it so we can learn from you too.