We’ve Got This!

We may have never met, but I am here for you! Life can be crazy sometimes. Finding the strength to continue on your with fitness and healthy lifestyle goals can be difficult. Let’s all help lift each other up. When you see someone struggling, offer to help them. That little bit of encouragement that cost you nothing, could prove to be a monumental positive influence in someone’s life.

Transform Your Routine

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One of the hardest things about getting in shape or creating a healthy lifestyle is changing your routine and exchanging bad habits for good habits. Humans are very much creatures of habits. We fall into routines that we are comfortable with rarely veer off course. We wake up at the same time most days. We go to the same coffee or lunch spots. We go to the same stores, websites, and entertainment areas. Now, there is nothing wrong with having routines. The problem occurs when those routines are detrimental to our health and fitness. We fall into these bad habits because they are easy (fast food) or convenient. These bad habits start to form and it make it harder and harder to get out of the routine and into good habits. Another issue with routines is that we find our comfort zone. We are attracted to things that seem easy because life can be hard and having  something easy in our daily life provides us a nice break from our hectic lifestyles. Unfortunately, in order to see change and improvement we need to get out of our comfort zones.

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One of my favorite pieces of advice is “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It is a piece of advice I received when I was learning about stand up comedy and how we can apply the techniques to our everyday lives. Another piece of advice you’ll see a lot of is “Success begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Both of these quotes are spot on. The first step in changing up your routine is acknowledging there is an issue and you need to change something. The next step is to address these issues by finding ways to change them. This is where stepping outside of your comfort zone comes into play. You need to be willing to see beyond your boundaries and believe that you are capable reaching your goals through these changes.

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Once you have taken these steps, you are on your way a better version of yourself. The next step is to acknowledge that it will take time to change your routines and results will not occur over night. My recommendation is to set a goal of 3-4 weeks of consistent, throughout planning. Pick a habit you want to change and then plan on enforcing that change everyday for the next 3-4 weeks. One example would be a healthy eating goal and you decide to cut out all fried food for that time. Really focus and make sure you stick to these goal. There are a lot of studies out there that say 21 days, 28 days, 66 days, 124 days, and so one are needed to set new routines. Honestly, it comes down to each unique individual. The reason I recommend 3-4 weeks is because it a short-term goal that is manageable. Once you successfully hit the goal, you will look back on the last month and realize that you do not need that old routine or habit anymore. Then the next time you get a craving or urge to fall back into the back habit (like the example of eating fried food) you will have the mindset and mentality to know that you do not need or want that bad habit in your life.

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Now setting these new routines will not be easy. Getting out of the comfort zone and making changes takes a lot of courage. My recommendation and advice to helping you stick with these routine changes is to Remember Your Why. Remember why you started. Remember that idea that was in your head about how your life will improve if you stick with the changes. It can be extremely tough to stay motivated and remember these reasons, so a useful tip would to them down on some post-it notes and stick them to your bathroom mirror and the wall next to your front door. This way you are reminded everyday of why you started this journey when you get ready to leave the house or get ready for bed.

28 Day Clean Eating Challenge:

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Below is simple clean eating challenge that help you set a new healthy routine. It focuses on cutting out unnecessary calories and processed foods, while replacing them with natural and beneficial foods. If you do not feel that you can follow everything in each category, then pick and choose 1-2 items from each to follow. Starting off with a subtle change will help show you that you can achieve your goals. After you complete this challenge, you can then focus on cutting out more items that are unhealthy. Doing these small over time will lead to growth in your confidence that will allow you to continue to push your comfort zones.

Goal Achieved! Now What?

This is a bit of a #HumbleBrag post. Last year I decided that my New Year Resolution was to be more consistent with my running routine and to help raise more money for charity. I successfully ran more miles than any year prior and did it on a consistent basis. One of the main reasons I was able to achieve this goal was because I joined the Hogwarts Running Club. You can see my previous post about how virtual running clubs can help you achieve your goals, here.

Last year I tracked 635 miles on the charity miles app. That equates to $158.75 donated to Stand Up To Cancer simply because I used the app to track my miles as I ran. All of these miles I put in throughout the year also counted to the Hogwarts Running Club house cup. That was a little motivation to continue to get in miles week in and week out. I knew that running, even just a few miles, was helping out the team.

Throughout the year I also joined in on all the Hogwarts running club events and achieved #PerfectPrefect status. There were 6 virtual race, varying in distances, and a challenge event. All of these cost $25, with $20 of those entry fees going to charities. The charities that the club worked with last year were US Quidditch,  Limbs For Life, To Write Love On Her Arms, The Harry Potter Alliance, Mission K9 Rescue, Back On My Feet, and Antarctica South. All the names listed below were part of the Hufflepuff house team that I was on and were also perfect prefects. Between all of us we helped raised a combined $506,546.60 for these charities! On top of all these races, I also donated some race fees to the Luna Fund. That is a fund that allows runners, who cannot afford the registration fee, to sign up and partake in the festivities.

Perfect Prefect 2017

So I hit my goal last year, now what?! Keep going! This year I am continuing my moment and looking to hit a new goal. I’ve preregistered for all of these Virtual Races and will be a perfect prefect again in 2018. My new goal for this year is to hit 1000 Charity Miles. I’ve signed up for the 1000 Mile Challenge through I Love To Run and I’m already on a good pace to achieve the goal. It seems like a lot of miles, but when broken down, it comes out to roughly 2.7 miles per day. This should not be a problem for me as the shortest distance I run is 3 miles. The tricky part will be making sure to stay consistent throughout the entire year. I’m using a wall calendar and a running journey to help track my progress and keep me on pace. The key to hitting goals is to keep them attainable and to make sure you have a solid plan.

5 Best Meal Prep Apps to help you reach your health goals

The biggest struggle and hurdle when it comes to getting fit and being healthy is staying on top of your nutrition. You will notice that the easy parts of getting fit and being healthy are the workouts and routines you get into. You can plan out and stick to your daily workouts and map all your workout routines, but still not see the results you want. This is because nutrition plays a massive part in fitness and health. If you are not fueling your body properly, your workouts could be pointless. The hardest part about nutrition and sticking to a plan is the easy of access of junk food. No matter where you go or where you work, it will almost always be easy to find junk food. The office break room will oftentimes be the downfall of your new year resolution. This is where meal prepping comes in handy.

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I’m sure you have heard about meal prepping now that you are focusing on being healthy and fit. Every blog, book, article you read will hint at how eating healthy is probably the most important part of losing weight and being healthy. Meal prepping is when you cook a large portion of your meals for the week at one time. This is so that you have healthy food options you can take wherever you go and are ready to eat in just minutes. This is key because life can get extremely crazy and nobody has the time to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday. Let’s be honest, you are lucky if you have enough time to cook just one meal in a day.

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Below are some of the best Smart Phone Apps out on the market that will help you reach your health and fitness goals (not ads, just user recommendations). All of these apps have great collections of healthy recipes to choose from and most of them allow for recipe customization.

  1. Mealine: This app is my personal favorite to use because of how seamlessly it integrates a grocery list, recipes, and recommendations for alterations of recipes. The whole goal of using these apps is to make life easier, and this app hits all the needs that I am looking for with my meal prep.
  2. Cozi: This app is great because it integrates a calendar aspect. You can plan your meals using the grocery list and which days you would like to eat each of the recipes.
  3. Pepperplate: This is a great app for those who are in a fitness or health challenge. One of the new trends is using social media to create groups of support and challenge each other to get healthy. This app allows for you to plan out your meal, make grocery lists, and scale the recipes for the correct amount of people. But the best aspect is the ability to share your recipes and plans on social media with your friends and family.
  4. MealPlan: This app was my favorite for customization. The user-interface allows for full customization of the calendar and really makes planning out the week’s meal easy. It even has an AppleWatch app for those of you have one. Great addition to add in that extra reminder to stay on your plan.
  5. MealBoard: This one is for those people who want meal planning to be simple.The app is extremely user-friendly and not overly complicated. It also does a good job of allowing you to make grocery lists and track your pantry items.

If you are interested in seeing more options, check out this post to see 9 more options. Do you use an App to help you meal prep that wasn’t listed above? Comment on this post and I’d love to check it out.

Workout Wednesday: Motivation

Here is a little motivational quote to get you through your workout today. It’s the middle of the week and you may be starting to feel your motivation slip and feeling tired from work or school. Attack the day and get that workout in! Remember, the only person you are competing against is the person you were yesterday. Your goal everyday is to improve and be better than you used to be.

 

Treat Yo Self: Fitness Style

Treat. Yo. Self. —- Take some advice from Donna and Tom from Parks And Rec. Spoil yourself. You deserve it.

Working out, sticking to your fitness plan, and getting after your goals can be extremely exhausting. You will have your ups and your downs. You’ll see results come when you do not expect them and there will be times when you expect results but have hit a plateau. Even when you expect this to happen, it can become frustration and you may find that you lack motivation to continue. This is where treating yourself comes in handy. Buy yourself something awesome when you hit that plateau, start to lack motivation, or hit a substantial goal. Some of the best motivation you can find to keep going in your fitness journey is buying yourself some new workout clothes or accessories.

Losing Motivation?

Anytime I feel down on my progress or feel my motivation slipping, I buy something small that I can use in my workouts. Typically, I’ll buy a new shirt, shorts, headband, gloves, socks or just something else that I can wear on most of my workouts. The concept here is that when you get something new, you will want to wear them. This is a little added motivation to get out and hit that next workout. It’s a great way to jump start a new workout streak, try some new workouts, or fit through that tired feeling you have.

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Hit a small fitness goal?

Reward yourself for small fitness goals that you hit. Just like how dogs earn treats when they do something good or learn new tricks, you should get a reward for your hard work too. These rewards can be something a little more expensive or something that you’ve been wanting to buy for awhile but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Some of my favorite things to purchase are new race entries. If you are a runner, you know races can become expensive. One reason I love this idea as a treat is because it gives you something to look forward to completely and will help you stay on track with your fitness goals. The other item I like to get is a new pair of running or cross training shoes. You will need to replace your shoes as some point anyways, so might as well pick up a new pair with a new colorway and hold onto them until your current shoes where through. Having those shoes waiting for you will keep you excited to keep training and earn the right to where them down the road.

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Achieved that big fitness goal you’ve been trying to reach for years? TREAT. YO. SELF.

I recently hit my goal of moving my VO2 Max Score from “Very Good” to “Excellent” on my Fitbit App. I had been working on this by increasing the frequency/consistency of my workouts. Mixing up aerobic and anaerobic exercise and it’s slowing increased. I like this measure better than weight because your weight can spike or plunge at anytime and doesn’t have much impact on your overall fitness. So what did I do to treat myself? I bought two new pairs of running shoes and running pants. Things that I need and will use for a long time, but are not cheap. I can’t wait to break them out and keep pushing myself.

Some other items that are great to get when you achieve these massive fitness goals are Bluetooth headphones, new fitness watch/smart wearable, or gym equipment. These are big ticket items that are not cheap, that you’ve been wanting to buy for some time, and can finally have a reason to get them. If you don’t need or want anything new for working out, then treat yourself to something else. Go on a vacation. Go to the spa and get a massage. Go get a Mani-Pedi. Buy yourself something new for your kitchen or house. TREAT YO SELF to something you wouldn’t normally get. You’ve earned it and you deserve it!

Motivation Monday: MLK Jr Edition

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, here are some of my favorite quotes of his that will get you motivated and inspired to take on the day and create greatness in your life.

“Faith is taking the first step when you cannot see the whole staircase.”

Continue reading “Motivation Monday: MLK Jr Edition”

Fixing Your Posture: Tips and Exercises

Neck pain? Back pain? Rounded shoulders? Head tilted down? Any of these sound familiar? In today’s technological society, we are almost always staring down on our devices. We work 8-5 jobs where we sit in front of a computer for most of the day. We are addicted to our smartphones and are always tilting our heads down to look at the phone. These are things that will not change and will only be getting worse as technology advances. Unfortunately, it leads to terrible posture and can potentially lead to help problems. According to surgeons and spine experts, the head weights about 10-12 pounds. When you constantly lean your head forward and down to look at your phone it equates to a 60 lb weight pulling on the spine. This is why we are starting see so many more back, spine, neck, and head injuries and soreness from something as simple using a smart phone and getting angry at twitter. So what should you do to fix or counteract these issues? Here are some helpful tips that I’ve used to fix my posture and improve my fitness levels.

  1. Good news! You are already here looking at ways to fix your posture. That is the first step. In order to fix your posture, you need to be aware of the problem in the first place. Constant thought and consideration for how you are standing or sitting is needed in order to fix your posture. Simply remember to keep your shoulders back and head up straight is the best way to initiate the change to improve your posture
  2. Alignment: Think about your body on X-Y Axis. Your shoulders, ears, elbows, and hips should all be aligned as if it was a Y-Axis. Your shoulders should also be horizontally even on the X-Axis. By using this visualization, you will start to see how much you need to change and improve on the posture. Keep this in mind when you are practicing improvement of the posture
  3. Pull your shoulders back, roll your hips forward and look straight ahead: Everyone’s posture is different but oftentimes, these simple tricks will get you closer to a true, natural posture. Whenever you start to notice your posture is slipping, take a minute to really focus on these three areas and concentrate on keeping everything aligned.
  4. Strengthen your Core! Core (front and back) strength is essential to proper posture. Here are a few core exercises that you can do in less than 10 minutes on a daily basis that will prove wonders for you core strength and, in turn, your posture.
    • Planks: Both high and low planks are amazing for full core and back strength. Take a few minutes each day to hold a high plank. Don’t worry about how long you hold it for, just make sure your form is perfect and hold it until you can no longer howl perfect form. Best thing about planks is you can do them pretty much anywhere. You can even do them at work. Find and isolated area and hold. It’s a great way to get the blood flowing when the day feels like it is dragging along.
    • Superman: This is a great one for your lower back, which is a key area to strengthen for better posture. Lay flat on your stomach with your hands extended out in front of you. Lift your legs and chest off of the ground and hold for 5-10 seconds. Then return back to the ground and rest for 5-10 seconds. Repeat until failure.  As your back gets stronger, you can add in a medicine ball to lift with your arms. This will add more weight forward and help strengthen your upper back as well as your lower back.
    • Leg Lifts: This exercise is great to strengthen your lower core muscles. This area is key to help keep your hips forward (an area that is typically not thought of having an impact on posture). Lay flat on your back with your hands by your side. Lift your legs about 6-inches to a 1-foot off the ground and hold until failure. Drop your legs and rest for 15-20 seconds. Then repeat until failure.
  5. Office Equipment: If you work an office job like me, then you spend most of your day sitting in front of the computer and killing your posture. One easy way to help fix the posture while sitting at the desk is to sit all the way forward in your chair. Also, align the computer monitor’s height to the same level as your eye-level when looking straight ahead. Other options to fix your posture at your desk it to get two things. Get a standing desk that can be raised and lower. This will allow you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Your muscles will get sore if you stay in either position too long. Alternating between standing and sitting will allow your muscles to stay fresh and not get tired and lose posture throughout the day. The other item you should get is an Exercise Ball/Yoga Ball for a chair. This will help your posture because it will force you to sit up straight and not slouch.
  6. Posture Brace: A great tool to help you improve you posture! A posture brace will help keep your shoulders back and chest forward. I have one that I will typically wear for a few hours a day when I am at home doing chores or if I am running errands. A brace is great during these monotonous activities where we aren’t focusing on making sure our posture is aligned. During these activities, we are just going through the activities and trying to get them over as quickly as possible.

Hope you find these tips and exercises useful. If you have any other tips or tricks that you find work well for you, please feel free to comment below!

*\ Hogwarts Running Club /*

It’s that time of year again! New year starts and your fitness resolutions are going strong. You are hitting the gym, trails, or paths and getting in your workouts. Unfortunately, sooner or later you will most likely run low on motivation and most likely quit your new years resolution. Statistically speaking, only 8% of people will successfully follow through on their New Year Resolutions. So the question here is how do you make sure that you are part of that 8% of people who succeed? One way I’ve found success sticking to my fitness and running goals is by joining virtual running clubs. Our lives are always busy and it’s very easy to find excuses to skip workouts or meet ups. Virtual running clubs are a great way to be part of a motivational community while being able to do your workouts on your own time, when it fits your schedule. A few recommendations would be: Virtual Running Club, I Love To Run, Geek’d Out Running Club, Whovian Running Club, and Chilton Running club. All of these are great options, but my favorite one and the one I’m going to focus on is the Hogwarts Running Club!

Last year I joined the Hogwarts Running Club with the goal to run more consistently and it absolutely worked! I feel in love with running a few years back when I was in college and I found it increasingly difficult to consistently find time to run now that I had a fulltime job. I kept coming up with excuses like I’m too busy, too tired, the weather isn’t great, etc. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. The Hogwarts Running club is amazing because it’s not something you are doing on your own. You have house teams for support and motivation while also competing against houses and earning money for charities. Here is how it works:

The Virtual Races:

The Hogwarts Running club has 6 virtual races throughout the year. They are all Harry Potter Themed, so you can get your nerd on while running! These are very simple. They open up registration throughout the year for each race. You simply sign up for a small registration fee and they will mail you the race medal. All you need to do is run/walk the miles for the race. They can be completed all at once or spread out over a few days if the distance is to far. The medals are all amazing and definitely worth adding to the collection, but the best part of this running club is the registration fees are donated to a different charity for each race. Some Charities that the Hogwarts Running Club worked with last year were To Write Love On Her Arms and Back On My Feet.

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Mad-Eye Moody Constant Vigilance 5K – 2017

The House Cup:

In addition to these virtual runs that go on throughout the year, the House Cup is really a great way to keep all the members motivated to run throughout the year and not just during the virtual races. How the house cup works is you download the App Charity Miles and join the house team (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin) that you will be competing with throughout the year. I’m a little biased but I’d say team HRC18HUFFLEPUFF is the best! We might not win every week, but we definitely have the most fun. The house cup is a weekly competition that compares the 4 Harry Potter House Teams on Charity Miles and points are awarded based on how many miles each team put in that week. This is a really cool feature that, if you follow along regularly, can help you stay competitive and motivated.

Hogwarts Express – Platform 9 3/4K – 2017

Facebook Community Rooms:

The other great feature of this virtual running club community is that each house has a dedicated closed Facebook group. These groups are meant to be community for those with like minds to help motivate each other, ask questions without being judged, share funny memes and photos, and basically anything that is related to Harry Potter and Running. One thing that is great is that you will most likely identify with a specific house group and when you join that group, you will have thousands of like-minded people to help motivate you. I’m a Hufflepuff and absolutely love the community page. It’s full of fun people who are all trying to help each other stay motived, share their struggles, and post recipes of their favorite cookies! Each House group is different and I would recommend checking out Pottermore to get sorted into your house.

The main reason I like this virtual running club so much (besides the fact I’m a huge Harry Potter fan) is that you can do one part of the running club are all of it. It’s up to you and what you feel is the best for you. If Harry Potter is not your thing…….that is totally fine. I would recommend searching for other virtual running clubs out there that fit more of your interests and can help you reach your New Year Resolutions.

If you have any virtual running clubs that you are a part of that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear more about them! Feel free to leave a comment and tell me more!

Embracing Change and Fear

The New Year is here and you, me, and everyone else out there is busy setting New Year Resolutions and getting after it! Whether your resolution is about getting healthier, working out, reading, cooking, or socializing more, you are planning on doing something that will require a change in your life. The end of the year is a great time to reflect on where your life has been going and what you want to improve on in the future. Reflection and change are necessary for a happy and successful life, but they can be the hardest things to do.

Those New Years Resolutions that you’ve set are there because you’ve identified areas in your life that you want to make improvements on. These improvements may be areas that you are happy with but want to get more involved with, or they can be negative aspects you want to change. Either way, you need to make change and with change comes uncertainty and the need to leave your comfort zone.

Change and uncertainty can be scaring for a lot of different reasons, but stepping outside your comfort zone is necessary when making changes in your life. So here are a two helpful tips and ideas to help you face those fears, embrace change and make 2018 your best year yet!

  1. Breaking Habits and Setting Routines Takes 21 days

This is typically a rule you’ll see when you are looking up information about quitting smoking, better eating habits, or working out more. By the end of the three weeks you will see that your cravings for old habits are all but gone. You will still have some urge to go back to the previous habits, but you have the recent memory (Recency Bias) of the good habits and that will help carry you through the resolution for the following months and years. Key tip here: Dive head first and all in to that resolution!

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FEAR Has Two Meanings

2. FEAR Can Have Two Meanings

The biggest obstacles that people run into when trying to make change is being afraid. There are many reasons for someone to fear change, but all the reasons have one thing in common. They are based in our minds and halt us in our place. I am someone who battles anxiety everyday, so I am very familiar with this experience. One of the thoughts that really help me embrace my fears and not be controlled by my anxiety is the following: FEAR has two meanings. Forgot Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. Our fears are often based on uncertainty and our mind trying to make excuses for us. Getting outside your comfort zone is key to change and success. Face those fears and embrace the change!