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The Gift Of: Fitness

I finally blended my blogs together into one – this one, that you’re reading right now.

Welcome, oh ye few.

Most people who follow me here actually know me from “real life” but I still have quite a few fellow bloggers that never met me in person that might be wondering just what in the heck is going on with me. I mean, to change my website from From Fit To Figure to The Joyful Celibate with absolutely no warning is a little strange. Well, good news is, I answer most of this question in the “About” page right up there at the top of the screen.

Before I go on with my post today, just so everyone is aware, despite the name change, my fitness posts are all still available here and searchable. So if you’re looking for something regarding meal planning or workouts I’ve done or diet tips I’ve written about, simply search!

My website for online coaching will also remain linked here and above. And I’m still available by email at fromfittofigure@gmail.com.

As for today’s post, I thought I’d debut my new site with what I believe to be one of my gifts: Getting people in shape for life.

First of all, I did not start my own personal training business thinking I’d be “set for life” financially. On the contrary, I knew this would be a huge pay cut from working in a health club or gym. In fact, shortly before starting my biz, I was trying to find ways to detach from material objects, and money was the first to go! And the service I wanted to provide never changed – I wanted to help people. But I wanted to do it on my own terms, such as:

  • I could be picky about who I would train: I wouldn’t have to sit in front of people and try to “sell” them on something they had no interest in, as this was common at the gyms where I worked. The members usually wanted a tour of the place and be on their way. They were not about to pay extra for training, especially if they were already investing over $100 a month on a membership they could barely afford. I really wanted to train people that actually meshed well with my personality and training style.
  • I could charge a rate based on the client’s budget without de-valuing my services and without the pressure of hitting a monthly goal: Finally, no more pressure from my boss as to how much money I was bringing in this month. No more dialing for dollars in a last ditch attempt to hit a goal. Yes, goals are necessary, especially in sales. But that was it: I didn’t want to be in sales! I wanted to be content with the amount that I had in the bank. (Hint: I am.)
  • I could be honest and direct with clients without worrying about toeing the company line: The biggest need for fitness professionals, I have found, has been addressing the behavior and mental aspect of dieting. But many gyms, celebrity trainers and coaches come out with fancy heart rate monitors or apps or quick fixes just to make money and promote themselves, ignoring the underlying issues of their clients. If we are to be taken seriously, trainers should be willing to say, “Not all diets work for all people. The best diet is the one that you can adhere to without feeling restricted and still see results. So let’s figure out what that looks like for you.”
  • I could make my own schedule, allowing plenty of time to focus on the most important people in my life: It should go without saying by now, that God, my family and my faith are my priority. And when you have a flexible schedule and do what you love, and you detach from material things (this was key for me, personally) you start to see life differently. I started to look for more chances to be a gift to others. Sidenote: Being single really turned this from an opportunity, into a priority for me.

While the blog served its purpose for a long time, I am finding the passion to write about health and fitness growing a little stale. I still need to promote myself, but I would like to do it mainly through referrals and word of mouth. So this meant for me (because this might not be the best idea for others) no more progress pictures on display, no more Facebook or Instagram and no more YouTube videos. These were becoming distractions and a hindrance to more than anything else.

So there you have it. That’s what I aim to do with this blog: To show how I can be a gift to others. And not just with fitness. That was just the teaser for you. There will be more posts about how I plan to do this. Because we all have gifts.

And when readers find themselves here, I also hope to show them how THEY can be a gift to serve others as well.

I plan to provide the gift of fitness and health to my clients as long as I am able.

Think on it: Who do you know that needs the gift of health? You don’t have to be a fitness guru or dietitian to provide this gift to someone. Keep it simple. How about the gift of mental health (relaxing day at a spa; renting a movie at home and staying in); spiritual health (giving someone a book that helped you grow in your spirituality; taking someone to daily mass that normally can’t make it); physical health (a fitness DVD to do at home; making someone a healthy meal who can’t afford it), etc. Endless possibilities!

 

Voices of Reason

A super short post tonight to kick off 2016. Hope you all like it!

While having lunch with a friend of mine, she remarked, “Michelle, I hear your voice in my head every time I think about my diet. You said something that has stuck with me over the years: It’s not all about cardio and exercising all the time. Your diet matters more.”

I was telling her this while I was training for my bodybuilding competition. It’s something I have told clients repeatedly and most of them listen to me. But some still don’t believe me.

While exercise and working out is important for overall general health, it’s not the end all be all. What is most important is what we are feeding our bodies. What do we consider our fuel?

What do we shop for at the grocery store and put in our cart as the “best” we can do for ourselves and our families?

What do we consider a “once a year indulgence” and is it really worth it?

It’s interesting that my friend hears my voice in her head. Because I hear voices in my head (it’s healthy, I swear) from people in my past that have said similar things that have stuck with me.  A few that I think are worth sharing:

  • “Don’t focus on the number, (your weight, the weight on the bar, number of days, number of weeks you’ve been trying this) focus on the task at hand and conquer THAT.”
  • “If there’s a food or snack that you know isn’t all that healthy, why do you keep buying it?” (and if you say it’s for your kids, why isn’t their health as important as yours?)
  • “Not every occasion/get together/event is a reason to EAT something.”
  • “Start working out before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it.”
  • “If you’re tempted to eat that garbage food, think about how you felt the last time you ate it.” (Garbage in…garbage out)
  • “You’re not supposed to feel guilty if you screw up. Guilt is for criminals. You just made a poor choice. Choose wisely next time.”

And the most important voice…

“Sleep trumps all. So get plenty!”

 

 

 

Put Down Your Phone and Pick Up A Book

A popular saying among fitness people and gym rats is, “Do you even lift?”  This is usually directed towards the male  population in a mocking tone to those boys who don’t take strength training too seriously.

But lately, I think the bigger question is, Do you even READ? Do you even do research? I’m not quite sure anyone does when it comes to working out. Why would they? Why would anyone when we have social media to instruct us on how to work out and eat and diet…and live. Right?

No..not so much. Books are still relevant, in my opinion. It’s still the best medium to get a message out there, and it’s especially useful for longevity. People need to refer, quickly, back to a resource. And what’s quicker than just flipping through a book? Yeah yeah, you could download a book to your electronic device but doesn’t anyone else just LOVE to hold a real book in their hands anymore? Plus, I LOVE to highlight in my books. And you can’t really do that on a Kindle. At least not the old fashioned way.

In an effort to get everyone back to reading the old fashioned way, and as way to keep myself from repeating myself a bazillion times on social media, I wanted to put together an easy way for my readers to see what I’m reading and what I recommend, especially when it comes to diet and fitness. Theres a ton of misleading information out there and I feel it’s important to share the relevant and well-researched information. Not just copying a workout you saw on YouTube. Let’s get back to really researching what works best and calling out those quick fix, hokey, quackery looking, scamming authors who just put out books to sell garbage and make a buck.

So without further ado, I present to you my Amazon.com Store! (I included an extra page at the top of my site as well as a link on the sidebar. And I’m including it here so you have no excuse not to give it a visit. What am I recommending?

Four categories:

Fitness Books

Diet and Healthy Living Books

Fitness Gear: All my favorite products that I own/use on myself and my clients

Miscellaneous Faith-Based Books: since my faith is huge part of who I am, I thought why not show you what I’ve been reading and what has changed my life

That’s it! Simple.

Also, if you missed my post about Periscope from last week, be sure to follow me if you are on Twitter (@fromfittofigure) and download the app. You will become quickly addicted, I promise! 🙂

 

-Michelle

 

Repeat After Me

I don’t eat the junk food because I don’t buy the junk food.

I don’t buy junk food because I can walk past the junk food at the store.

I see the junk food but I don’t want the junk food.

I don’t want the junk food because I’ve had the junk food before…and it aint that good.

I don’t eat the fast food because I didn’t cook the fast food and I’m not entirely sure what’s in the fast food.

I didn’t cook the fast food so instead I eat the food I did cook.

I eat the food I cooked because it’s usually 100% better than the fast food anyway.

I drive past the drive thru because I spend enough $ on the real food.

I don’t get hung up about my weight because I don’t weigh myself everyday.

I don’t weight myself everyday because I don’t care about the weight that much.

I don’t care about the weight that much because I know I’m not a reflection of a number.

I don’t complain about my physical flaws because they can’t talk back to me anyways.

I appreciate the flaws I have because it’s a reminder I am not perfect and I’m human just like everyone else.

I drink water instead of pop because water tastes awesome to me.

I don’t buy the pop because I hate the taste of sugar coating my teeth.

I drink water because I listen to my body and it desires good things that give me energy.

I don’t  have the bad food or drink the sugary stuff too often (but I do sometimes and that’s okay!) because my body feels like garbage after I eat and drink that stuff.

And the more I eat and drink the junk stuff, the more my brain tricks me into thinking I want more of them…and then it’s back to….

…I don’t eat the junk food because I don’t buy the junk food…

An Apple Versus A Doughnut: How Science Helps Me Avoid Junk Food

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Back when I started studying to become certified as a Personal Trainer, I came across an article that sparked something in me.

Ever have that feeling? Have you ever read something or saw something or heard something that struck a chord in you or resonated with you in such a way that you never looked at anything the same way again?

Yeah, for me, with regards to junk food, it was this article.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you I hate science. I’ve never had a knack for understanding science, math, chemistry, pretty much anything with numbers and letters. 😉 But food? I understand food.

So when I read this article, I remember thinking it was a tad too “science-y” and so I had to read it about 3 or 4 times to truly get it. For those of you who aren’t into this whole biology thing, I have summarized the main takeaways. My point with today’s post is that perhaps those of you who are addicted to things like donuts and all around crappy foods and can’t seem to stop, maybe if you READ or UNDERSTAND how these foods differ, you’ll be more likely to make the healthier choice.

  1. An apple contains good nutrients like Vitamin C but also has calcium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin A and a healthy dose of potassium. An apple skin contains a compound called quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that reduces cardiovascular risk.  The flavonoids and phytochemicals that it contains seem to help fight against cancer. AND the skin contains lots of fiber, which helps to improve bowel function and reduced cholesterol absorption. Woohoo! Lots of good stuff right??
  2. A doughnut contains none of these nutrients.
  3. The doughnut is loaded with saturated fats, trans fats and refined sugar and is largely devoid of any nutritional value, other than energy, which it has in abundance.
  4. The digestion process of the doughnut is quite lengthier than the apple. Healthier fats generally are absorbed via the liver, whereas saturated and trans fats pass through the villi and are converted into triglycerides, the main form of fat storage in the body. They are also coated in cholesterol (from the liver) and hence the fats in a doughnut will raise the bad (LDL) cholesterol and reduce the good (HDL) component.
  5. Trans fats do even more damage. They have been shown to wreak havoc with the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol and massively increase your risk of heart disease. They also get into the outer lining of our cells, causing them to harden.
  6. We shouldn’t be too harsh on the doughnut, some of their trans-fat containing friends are deep fried foods, such as French fries, cakes, cookies, biscuits, some breads (especially croissants and pastries), processed foods (especially pies, sausage rolls etc), snack foods (potato chips, some muesli bars) and margarine.

I would be lying if I said I haven’t had a doughnut since reading this post back in 2008. But I can honestly say I know I have had 3 in the past 7 years. Why? When I was presented with the option of having one, I ALWAYS remember this article. Like I said in the beginning, it was one that resonated with me. Maybe it will make an impact with you or someone you know that you think MIGHT take Doughnut Sunday at church just a little too far. 😉

As for the progress that’s been made since this article came out, the USA has taken steps to ban trans fats in most foods so it’s not as popular as before. But you can bet not ALL those popular doughnut chains are trans-fat free. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows companies to round down to 0 g in its nutrition facts label even if the food contains as much as 0.5 of a gram per serving. Some popular donut companies use the words “Trans Fat Free!” in their advertising legally even though they DO in fact, contain trans fats.

That’s just an FYI for you. I’m not the food police but trans fats are not something anyone should be eating on the regular. If you care about your body and your health, take the time to research what you’re eating.

In good health,

Michelle

P.S. I recently did a consult with a woman who found me through my other blog that has little to do with fitness. In case you wanted to read what truly matters to me, you can read my ramblings there too.

Your Kid Eats WHAT?!?

I’ve been wanting to write a post about kids and their eating habits for a long time. I STILL have so much more to share but today’s post is a start.

First, let me throw some facts your way real quick:

Childhood Obesity – according to the CDC

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.1, 2
  • The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.1, 2
  • In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
  • Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.

Marketing Food to Kids

  • Companies spend $1.79 billion annually to market food to children with only $280 million for healthy foods
  • 70% of food ads on the most popular children’s television channel are for junk foods
  • Two-thirds of children’s websites display food ads; of these food ads, 84% are for junk foods
  • Research indicates that children don’t understand the persuasive nature of advertisements until age 8

And now that you’re depressed after reading those, take a look at this typical school lunch in America.

This is a photo of a school lunch in America.

But this is what kids eat in other countries (see the caption under the pic for specific countries.)

What children in other countries eat (clockwise from top left): Ukraine’s version of sausage and mash; Brazil’s plantains, rice and black beans; beetroot salad and pea soup in Finland and steak with beans and carrots in France

Kinda makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?

For more information on the comparison between America and other countries, see the original post by The Daily Mail UK here.

A quick word about school lunches. It seemed once Obama was elected, Michelle Obama had good intentions – Start a program that would require nutritional guidelines for school lunch programs. Unfortunately, it seems it hasn’t done much except waste a lot of food. According to this article posted on The Blaze, looks like most kids just didn’t like the food being served, so they threw it all in the trash, completely uneaten and wasted. School administrators are also having a hard time implementing these guidelines.

The meals served have been so bad, according to numerous students, that pictures of the school lunch trays went viral with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.  Yikes!

So that’s one problem that is probably deserving a separate post.  But isn’t it interesting that we still have a childhood obesity problem even though it looks like a total lack of food is being served in schools? And most of the kids are just throwing it away anyways? Just makes you think.

So, what about the rest of the kids? The ones who aren’t obese or overweight? What are they eating? Could they be malnourished but APPEAR to be healthy?

We eat what is put in front of us. And who puts that food in front of us? Who pays for it? Our parents of course. Our caretakers. So it starts with them.

I’m sometimes curious if the parents have bad habits, are picky eaters, etc, will they pass that down to their kids? Do the parents know how to eat a balanced meal?

I always tell my clients to look for balance in their meals but quite a few don’t know what that really means. I tell them:

1/2 your plate should be full of veggies or a salad, then add your protein which should take up a 1/4 of the plate and leave the rest of the plate open for carbs. Leave a little room for a fat of some sort (it’s usually the salad dressing or nuts added or even butter (gasp!) or perhaps the entrée was cooked in extra virgin olive oil.

The same could be said for kids too. In fact, back in 2011, Michelle Obama DID make some changes that, I think, are helpful for a lot of people. Together with the head of the USDA, the Food Pyramid went away and they unveiled MyPlate.

So visually, you can see what to eat. I think the site is quite helpful. Many people out there have no clue what to eat and how much. At least this gives those people an idea.

Who knows if parents are following this guideline (are they even following it for themselves because it applies to everyone!) but in the end, as long as everyone’s eating good food, it shouldn’t matter, right? But I think we can all learn a little bit from each other. After all, kids don’t come with a manual. I’m sure lots of first time parents are like, “Uhhhh..so what does this thing eat?”  🙂  Okay so maybe I’d be the only person to ask that since I’m kinda clueless on the kid front.

I posed this question to friends and followers:

What are they feeding their kids for breakfast lunch and dinner? What does a typical meal look like for them?

  • Strawberries, yogurt, a toasted bagel, banana rollup (mini tortilla with peanut butter and a banana) or cereal.
  • Rice cereal and sweet potatoes
  • Organic nugget and sweet potato fries with roasted corn salad. Green chilli chicken enchiladas and quinoa beef and broccoli
  • Whole wheat bread with organic almond butter and avocado pieces
  • Greek yogurt and these breakfast biscuits. Last night they had scrambled eggs with spinach, mushroom and tomatoes
  • Fruit loops for bf, pb&j and bananas for lunch. For dinner they are getting a clean/paleo-ish dinner of peanut chicken over brown rice.
  • Steamed veggies for the baby using this (parents of babies should check that out!)

Other quotes from the parents worth sharing:

  • I don’t short order cook. I serve dinner and they can choose to eat it or not, but I don’t make anything else, they don’t get dessert or snack after that.
  • We really run the gamut of healthy food and foods that lean towards unhealthy. I want them to grow up learning about moderation and not “bad” v “good”. They also see mommy workout every day and when we pray over our food we always say, “May our food make us healthy and strong”.
  • My kid is a toddler so his tastes are fickle and unpredictable. I look for higher calorie foods for him, as long as he pees and poops, then I don’t worry. I don’t believe any one food group should be demonized.
  • Sometimes my kids refuse eggs and other times they suck them down. That’s why I always offer foods over and over. You can’t serve it once and then quit. Kids come around.
  • We like to eat different things and experience different cultural foods. Keeps it from getting stale
  • My wife is out of town so I gave my daughter chicken nuggets for breakfast yesterday. She wanted them. I obliged.
  • I will say that we buy organic when given the choice, ESPECIALLY for milk.
  • Our family dinners are all over the board but we do splurge on pizza from time to time.

It looks like the parents I heard back from are doing a fine job of feeding their kids a variety of healthy food.

The takeaways:

1. Whole foods, sometimes organic

2. No short order cooking – you eat what is made or else you don’t eat at all

3. Picky eaters will be picky but try to get them to at least “take a bite” one time and try again in a couple weeks. Their taste buds (and attitude) can change.

4. Fast food is fine on occasion when the only other option is skipping a meal.

5. Experiment with a variety of dishes so they don’t get too bored with the same thing

Sidetone: I was relieved I didn’t hear any parents say that THIS was a problem with any of their kids. (How does that happen, really?)

I was really happy to get all this feedback so thank you all who responded!

If you’re looking for some good recipes for kids, I came across this article on Eating Well. I chose two that seemed like something I would eat when I was a kid (I was super picky).

Hamburger Buddy and Old Fashioned Spaghetti & Meatballs 

I hope some of you found some new recipes to try with your kids! If you have any you’d like to share, share away! I can always write another post with just recipes. 🙂

 

 

 

The Great Bread Debate

Let’s discuss every dieters favorite topic: BREAD.  Yummy carb-filled delcious bread.

Okay yeah I can’t fake it. I’m not a big fan of bread. And this is coming from someone who grew up eating Peanut Butter and Jelly on white bread for like, 15 years.

I used to eat a ton of it when I trained for my half marathons and races years ago. But then I slowly just got sick of it. Pasta too. I know, I know, I’m Italian, I should LOVE pasta right? Maybe I just got sick and tired of all the carbs. Most of my carb sources these days are in the form of oats, rice cakes and low carb wraps.

So I got to wondering, “Are there others like me? Are there other non-bread lovers out there?” So I asked all my clients as well as anyone else who has kids (thinking maybe they eat bread because their kids probably do for sandwiches) if they eat bread. I also asked if they wanted to mention anything else about carbs and cutting back on the bread when dieting.

Here are the results of my informal survey:

  • Currently I buy Schwebel’s Sweet Harvest Wheat. It’s probably not any better than white, but I love soft wheat bread when I have my PB&J so that’s what I get. My daughters don’t care that it’s brown (like I did growing up).
    I buy it b/c it’s reasonably priced for how much bread we do eat.
  • I have 5 kinds of Ezekial Bread in the house, my kids love them!
  • My kids have sandwiches everyday and they eat regular white bread. I think people have to be smart when dieting. Most don’t know where to start or whatever. Oh…. I like bread too much. I like wine too much. I like food too much. Yeah, we know that, that’s why this country is obese. Nobody knows how much to eat. Once they learn the amount, then I would assume you start talkin about quality. Over time, I’ve learned to make different choices. Some do, some don’t.
  • My kids grew up eating Ezekiel bread or a similar style homemade bread their grandmother made. They thought regular grocery store bread was “weird” when they had it at their friends houses. I’m sure their friends thought our bread was weird. LOL I eat an Ezekiel English muffin almost every day.
  • I am a mom and I do eat breads, all kinds. When I first started eating better I kept my good “aka expensive foods” limited to just me. Then I realized why am I denying my son the right to have the good foods too. He eats pretty much whatever he’s told, however he would choose the good choices first in most cases anyhow.
  • I limit bread because it can be a trigger for me. For planned meals I’ll sub 2 corn tortillas on occasion to make tacos. I’ll sometimes have a toasted English Muffin for a Post Workout meal or when having a craving as I love the crunch/texture. My family eats wheat/sourdough bread on occasion but basic flour or whole wheat tortillas are the norm for making wraps.
  • I only buy Ezekiel bread. I myself rarely eat it but my daughter and husband eat it 5 out of 7 days/week.
  • I eat sunflower seed bread because I have worked it into my plan. I also have butter on it as one of my fats – again worked into my plan.
  • I buy Potato bread or a loaf of sourdough because they like it. I eat it too. Not everyday, but if I want a sandwich sure I’ll grab their bread. My kids wouldn’t go for wraps (especially lettuce wraps) unless they were at PF Changs, LOL!
  • I have three kids and we do have breads in moderation. Organic and whole grain usually.  I eat Ezekiel muffins, they do not like them much. I really try to have them make good choices… ex: a bagel is fine, but not a whole one…instead have a half with eggs and cheese … and fruit. For sandwiches at lunch I do lower carb whole grain for kiddos, or omit bread all together and do cut up cheese, fruit, veggies and meat… (and then maybe whole grains, like crackers…)
  • There are plenty of things I choose not to eat that my kids eat. Halloween candy for example. Obviously 80/20 on that.
    Bread is such a tricky one though. When you make healthier choices you look for volume- especially when dieting. Heck, even non-dieting I don’t really choose bread as a go to simply because there’s not much to it. I think the thought of no bread for newbies would sound restrictive and maybe even daunting. But I know plenty of folks who do cut things out especially when they are just starting.
  • I try not have anything that’s really off limits b/c I have so many food issues. I offer a large variety and they eat what they eat. I think because of that my girls love everything from Fruit Loops to broccoli. I will serve something over and over b/c they will eat something one time and then turn their nose up again at it 5 times before they scarf it down again. I also don’t short order cook. I serve dinner and they can choose to eat it or not, but I don’t make anything else, they don’t get dessert or snack after that.
  • I think people also don’t realize how much “bread” they do eat and that is when it gets dangerous. It’s not just sandwich bread, it’s bagels, pizza dough, cookies, cake, brownies. That’s ALL bread. Just b/c it doesn’t come in a loaf doesn’t mean it’s not bread and too much of it is not good.

 

I think the lesson here is if you haven’t tried Ezekial bread, give it a shot. 🙂  I myself have had the cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread and it tastes so good, and remember, I’m a very picky eater to this day. The last woman I surveyed I think had one of the best points: People don’t realize how carb-y foods can be and if you’re trying to at least “watch” what you’re eating, take note of all those doughs and cookies and cakes and bagels – Those carbs add up!

 

A separate blog post about what kinds of meals you can make for your kids is coming up later on this week too. 🙂

Happy Monday!

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