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!”

 

 

 

The “No Time To Workout” Workout

Ever since I started my blog, I asked people, “What could I write about that you’d ACTUALLY READ and follow?” The majority of my friends responded with the same answer: A quick workout I can do anytime, especially if I don’t have time to workout.

Well, that’s kind of an oxymoron isn’t it? But fine, you want a quick workout. Preferably one that won’t make you sweat that you can do at home or at your office.

I’m not exactly sure this workout exists. But I’ve been thinking:

If I had literally no time to workout but just enough time to do something, what would I do?

The best answer I’ve come up with is an isolation move – You hold a position for period of time that challenges your whole body. Most people would say – “I bet she’s going to say a Plank.”

You’d be close. But no.

I suggest holding a push up – MID-WAY.

This is the best image I could find. The middle image is what we are shooting for here.

 

This is challenging for anyone, no matter your fitness level.

You can do it in your office clothes. In your office.

You can do it anytime.

You don’t need any equipment except a floor.

You could modify it by using your desk/counter top.

Voila!

So the challenge is to hold it for as long as you can.

OR, a better way, is to hold it for 10 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Hold it again for 10 seconds or longer. Rest for 10 seconds. Then hold it for as long as possible. Done.

You’re engaging the entire body because you have to tuck your hips, squeeze your glutes, your quads, bring your navel to the spine, squeeze your shoulder blades, aim your chest to the floor and bend the arms. That’s total body right there folks!

Now get pushin!

I mean, holdin!

 

Becoming a Fit Family

I originally wrote this post for Rox Star Fitness. Hope you enjoy!

Is there just one person in the family that dedicates a lot of time to working out and dieting? It’s important to emphasize health and fitness all year round with all members of the family, not just one or the one that “needs to the most help.” You want to be a fit family, not just a solo fit member of an unhealthy family. Here are some tips on how to get everyone in shape so you all appreciate being a FIT FAMILY

Make every minute count:

A 15 minute walk around the block while dinner is warming up/getting ready (especially now in the summer time when there’s no homework) is a good way to get some quick work in. It’s something everyone can do and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time so there will be minimal complaining.

– Limit electronic device time and increase “hands-free” time. When it’s time to sit down as a family, the phones get turned off. Spend that time doing something active or at least talking and nix the texting for awhile. It’s amazing what you can get accomplished when there isn’t a computer or a tablet or a phone nearby.

– I know many families who belong to their local rec center. Although you may go there together as a family, many branch off and do their own thing which works really well. Mom goes to the gym, Dad plays basketball, the kids are swimming. This way you all get to do what you want at the same time.

Get them involved:

– Take progress pics – as a family. This could be as simple as your standard family photo done every year but you could take iPhone photo’s every month. This is a good lesson to the young teens (especially young girls) that the scale is not a good indicator of progress. Although they might be so little and young that they won’t see immediate changes, it could be a cool experiment to see how different they change every few months.

– When trying new recipes, have the family give their feedback and mark it down as something you would make again if everyone loved it. If it got more thumbs down than thumbs up, toss that one out or adjust some flavoring and to prepare it so all palates will be pleased.

– I’m a huge fan of bringing your kids with you to the grocery store. Of course, some kids like to just run up and down the aisles asking for everything they see on TV. But if they’re a little older, they might want to help out and tell you what THEY like to eat. Who knows, they might surprise you by saying they like to eat their veggies. If you’re concerned they’ll just beg for you to buy them the junk, adhere to the basic “perimeter only” rule, and you won’t even tempt them by walking down those aisles.

– Read the labels/ingredients together if you do get something that comes in a box so they can learn what you’re looking for and WHY you won’t be buying them certain snacks. “If we can’t pronounce it, we don’t buy it.” Or “See this has food coloring in it, we don’t want to eat that!”

Extra Curricular Activity:

– When one child has a game or somewhere to be, try not to SIT and watch but find some place to stand and watch or walk around if you can. Sometimes this isn’t possible but it helps if you already have a sedentary job, to put a limit on sitting the rest of the day.

– In addition, when you’re sitting, you’re more prone to EAT and snack in between meals, sometimes on things that aren’t so good for you. And if kids see this behavior, they might copy it. So set a good example for them!

Be on the same page:

Many people fail at diets and staying or maintaining their weight that they’ve worked so hard to lose once they feel they can just “go back to normal.” Your spouse or kids might be influencing this behavior as well, indirectly. They might say, “You’re at your goal so just relax and eat (insert favorite snack here).” But that might be a trigger for you. And chances are, no, you can’t just go back to normal because normal may have been sugar loaded, fat laden, carb heavy foods that made you unhealthy to begin with. Make sure everyone is on board with staying healthy because if just one family member isn’t all about it, it can derail you right off the health boat and before you know it, you’re back to square one again.

– Have healthy snacks prepared for the kids (and yes even the spouse) to take with them to school/work. Explain WHY it’s a healthy snack (it has fiber, it has little sugar, it’s a good source of protein, etc) so they know why this snack was chosen as opposed to something else.

– Carve out time to play and have fun, as a family. Pick one time once a day (or even once a week if it’s just too busy) to say “This is a time when we ALL have to do something active.” Call it Family Time, or Fun Time, or something. Make it an appointment you would never miss and put it in the calendar. Choose something you all would like to do – play a game outdoors or indoors, do some yardwork, get in the pool, go to the park, anything. As long as you’re doing it as a family, it’s a great time to bond as well as stay healthy.

These might seem simple and easy tips but believe it or not, families that stay in shape are rare these days. Everyone is busy with their own schedules and plans so sometimes it’s hard to be together often enough to develop this habit. Try it out, stick with it, be consistent and track your progress of your new FIT FAMILY!

Becoming the Best Version Of Yourself

When I started out as Personal Trainer 7 years ago, I recall giving a few pieces of advice that seemed to resonate with people. One of these “declarations” has come full circle for me as it was repeated to me almost verbatim at a retreat recently.

I uttered one little sentence to a woman in the locker room 7 years ago as she confided in me that she was struggling with making healthy food decisions, giving in to temptation everywhere she went. She was ready to throw her hands up in surrender and say, “Forget this, it’s too hard!”

Without much hesitation on my part (which is rare since I never seem to know quite what to say to people right away, I usually need a few minutes), I said to her: “It’s really not as difficult as you think it is. We all THINK it’s hard but you’re MAKING it hard. It’s simply about being aware. Constantly conscious. You have to be constantly aware and conscious of every decision you make, and that includes every time you open your mouth to eat or drink.”

I remember this woman looking at me and saying something like, “Wow, you’re so right. I never thought of it that way. Constantly conscious. Yeah. Wow, I’m totally gonna use that. Thanks!”

Color me surprised, I just gave advice to someone that they’re going to USE?!

This came full circle recently. At a retreat, one of the participants mentioned a talk given by Matthew Kelly, a popular Catholic speaker and author. He’s all about becoming the best version of yourself. He believes that God wants us to be the best version of ourselves, that we are called to be more than mediocre. We are meant to live authentic, purpose driven lives and that means being aware of our daily habits – Are we choosing things that will help us become the best version of ourselves? Or are we just seeking temporary pleasure instead of sustainable happiness?

Matthew Kelly’s favorite analogies is the Gym/Diet analogy.

It goes something like this: Think about a time you’re scheduled to get to the gym. It’s your day to workout.

Now think about the effort that goes into it. You’ll have to get your workout clothes ready, you’ll have to get in your car, drive to the gym, change in the locker room and then you finally get on the floor and you have to navigate your way around the gym while trying to avoid eye contact with peering eyes from strangers, find a machine/weights that are available and a bench, or other equipment, get your workout in, work up a sweat,take a shower and then get some food afterwards and then head home or to work.

For most people this might not seem like a lot of effort. A First World Problem if there ever was one, right? But what if you REALLY want to watch something on TV that night? Or what if you celebrated a birthday last night and you still have leftover cake in the fridge? What if you’re hungover from the night before? What if you have some beer and Doritos nearby? How much do you feel like working out now? Probably not very motivated.

And here’s the question Kelly proposes: Which of these options is going to help you become the best version of yourself?  Hitting the gym or sitting at home eating crappy food?

I think we all know the answer to this question.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we were “constantly conscious” of this every time we went to reach for the Doritos instead of the gym bag?

I have told my clients to put something on their fridge/cupboards or even your screensaver/wallpaper on your phone (since we are one those constantly) which issues the same “challenge:” Is this food going to help me reach my goals or will it deter me and send me back to square one? If I eat this/drink this, will I feel temporary pleasure or will I feel sustained happiness?

It’s essentially asking the same thing as Kelly:

If we are aiming to become the best version of ourselves, what does that look like? What does that person look like? When you look in the mirror, do you want to see someone who has made poor choices with regards to his/her life? I assume no. We want to see someone who will not only be happy in their own skin, but they inspire others to become the best version of THEMselves as well due to their consistent habits of choosing happiness over temporary pleasure.

So this is my challenge to my readers, my clients, anyone who wants to become the best version of themselves: Start to become constantly conscious of your surroundings, of your actions, of your habits. Once you have this constant awareness, you are much less likely to make poor decisions. And this includes more than just food. This includes LIFE decisions.

You only have one body, one life. Take care of it. Treat it like the gift that it is.dynamic

  • In need of someone to help coach you to the best version of yourself? Matthew Kelly sends out Daily Food For Thought via email. You can subscribe to that here.
  • If you’d like more of a hands on approach with regards to your dietary and fitness habits, I can help. Here’s a link to my online coaching services. If you’d like to ask more questions about my services, reach out to me! I’m always easily accessible through email. FromFitoFigure@gmail.com

-Michelle

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

 

When The Fire Dies Out, Find a New Campsite

So it’s 13 weeks until my next figure competition and I am completely unmotivated to do anything about it.

Workout-wise, I’m doing well. No big problems there.

Diet-wise? That’s another story.

I’m not quite sure where the motivation and energy and fire went, but it is long gone and I can’t seem to get it back. I tried logging my food, thinking the accountability of my clients and random friends on My Fitness Pal checking in might help. It has helped a bit, but I’m still not all in.

I’ve tried going to my favorite fitness competitor’s websites and checking out their progress pics. That sorta worked but it didn’t seem to illicit any feelings of “YEAH!!! LET’S DO THIS!”

I’ve tried reading my old blog posts from when I first trained two years ago. Nostalgia, right? Eh…I just ended up critiquing my writing style in some of them. 😉

I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly why I cannot seem to take this goal seriously like I did the first time.  I came to a few conclusions as to why this time around I am not as enthused about it:

  • This isn’t the first time. Now that I know what to expect, I’m not EXCITED as much as I’m DREADING it because I’m thinking of all the negative aspects of competing instead of the positive ones.
  • I’m.busier than before. I have several social events coming up in the next two months including a wedding across the country, a week long retreat in Pennsylvania, and a class reunion in less than a month.  I want to look forward to attending and instead I’m  sitting here thinking “How can I fit a cooler on to a plane?” and “I wonder if I can fit in a workout before the rehearsal dinner?”
  • I’m distracted. I’ve been reading a lot of books on religion and Catholic doctrine and Christianity and although I’ve ALWAYS known that there is more to life than 6pack abs, I can’t seem to find a balance between living the “fit life” and exercising my mind as well. Granted I’m reading other books too but I also want to travel and hang out with my family and friends and sometimes I think training prevents me from doing this.
  • My family won’t be able to attend the show. I will have a large audience of friends in support of me there at the show but as soon as I found out the majority of my immediate family couldn’t make it, I  felt like maybe this wasn’t meant to be. It’s super important to me that they be there and if they aren’t, I won’t take it as seriously as I should.

I’ve talked to my trainer/friend/co-worker Chris about this the other day and we agreed that if I am not into this, let’s not push it. BUT, this doesn’t get me off the hook. He suggested I find something that DOES spark that fire in me that I could shoot for. In other words, as the title of this post suggests, FIND a NEW goal because this competition just ain’t cutting it.

So, with that said, I discussed the possibility of sticking to the plan of training and attempting to diet and just training to look great for summer! The wedding that I’m in takes place in mid-July. I went to try on the dress and order it today. I tried on a size 6 and although it fit, it was a tad snug. So, there’s my motivation!

I’m not about to SQUEEZE into a dress in the sweltering July heat for my friends wedding and look like I barely fit into this dress. Granted, no one looks at the bridesmaids at weddings, all eyes will be on her. 🙂 But, it’s motivating me to take things more seriously.

And, the best part is, if by some chance I happen to look pretty good and feel pretty good at the wedding, there will still be a month left to prep for the competition, if I choose to do it.

If not, I will take my own advice and book a photo shoot, the one that I wanted to do LAST summer but didn’t because I got lazy and didn’t want to diet. Hmm….I’m sensing a pattern with myself.

Either way, I have found new motivation: July 18th is the wedding for my friend. Progress pics will be taken next week.

Let’s Do This!!

Strangers on the Track

Indoor%20Track%201I’ve been going to my local gym for over a year now and I’ve identified several people who are always there that I think are noteworthy. I’ve actually decided to give them names even though I have no idea what their real names are. Just thought it was cute and funny to do so. Here goes:

Harold and Harriet – the Old People

These are the older couple that always holds hands when walking the indoor track.  When it’s my turn or someone else’s turn to pass them on the right side, they stop holding hands and the man walks behind the woman until it’s “clear” to hold hands again and walk together.

I think it’s the coolest and cutest thing. No one else there does it, as far as I can tell. Just them. And they are adorable.

I always have my headphones in so I don’t hear if they talk about me as I speed past them. I have a feeling they might be thinking, “Why is she running so damn fast? Is there a fire?”

Once in a while they don’t hear/see me behind them and they are still holding hands as I’m coming up behind them. I’ve never had to say, “On your right!!” to them yet. I usually just start jogging LOUDER with my feet so they turn around and have this look on their face that says, “Oh Lord! Here comes that girl again!” And then Harriet probably says, “Move over Harold!”

I’m probably one of the youngest people on the track at the time of day that I go (mid afternoon before the teenagers take over) so it’s mostly stay at home Mom’s and old people. And then me.

Britney and Bobby – The “Too Cool for This Place” couple

But there’s also the annoying “Let’s pretend we own this track and disregard anyone else who is on it” people. And there’s a few of them.  I call them Britney and Bobby. They are the WORST. They are in their late teens, early 20’s and they just don’t give a damn.  They walk around like they own the track, walking extremely slowly,

If you have to yell, “On your right!” as you pass them by, they move over about an inch. They don’t hold hands. They just walk next to each other taking up the entire track. And they talk…and talk..and talk some more. In case you haven’t guessed, Britney and Bobby aren’t there to workout. They are there to socialize…with each other. Infuriating for people who are trying to get a little workout in.

Because of their lack of track courtesy and etiquette, they do force me to pay careful attention to whom I may literally run into as I jog past them. This is the only silver lining I can find with them. Most of the time, I secretly rejoice as they make their way to to the exits when they’re done with their leisurely stroll.

OCD Cindy – The Lap Counter/Obsessive Tracker

OCD Cindy is probably not obsessive compulsive, but she keeps track of everything, including the laps around the track. She holds a counter in her left hand clicking off each lap as she walks. (12 laps equals a mile). She also writes down a lot of stuff in a journal while she’s there. I assume it’s either her food or her laps in written form. Fascinating and also causes me to be curious. If OCD Cindy is walking the track as I come up the stairs to start walking, I want to walk just as long as she does.  This complete stranger pushes me to work harder even though she’s just walking.

So what’s the (life) lesson that we can learn from all these track stars?

– Slow down. But not too slow that you cause a problem.

– Be kind to others as they move past you, perhaps even a little faster than you. Let them go by.

– Be mindful of those around you. Smile, strike up a conversation, say hello.

– It’s not how fast you make your laps around. It’s more about how you feel at the end of your journey.

– Keep a count of how far your journey has taken you, adding a little bit more challenging to it each time.

– Don’t fault anyone for making your journey a little bit annoying. If they’re in your way, just move around them. Don’t let them bother you or get in your head.

– Keep running as long as you can, but know that you can always walk when the road gets rough and bumpy.

Look for those who can teach you something, not just about training and working out and being healthy, but about life in general. You can find them in the most unusual places, even at the gym.