Category Archives: Get Smart

A Life Lesson from Sports That’s Holding you Back Now

“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” -Vince Lombardi

It’s a known fact in sports – if you want to get to the winner’s podium, then never quit.  Ever.

Why?  Because…

“Pain is temporary.  Quitting lasts forever.” -Lance Armstrong

Question for you though — Does this “don’t ever quit” mentality actually make sense?

Well…. if an athlete quit every time something got hard she’d NEVER improve, but her competition would be getting fitter and more skilled every day.  Quitting every time a challenge comes up means she’d never develop character (i.e. her work ethic would be shit) and she def wouldn’t stand a chance of winning come game time.

There’s a lot to be said for the “NEVER QUIT” mindset in sports.

but…

BUT…

BUT…

I have another question for you – Just because something worked for us in sports, is it right to assume that it will work for us in the “real world” too??

Ummm… Hell no.

I know, I know.  Everyone talks about how sports can teach you all these important life lessons.  But what if a few of these lessons don’t translate as well to life after sports as people expect??

UnLearnAndQuit
Have you ever thought about how the lessons you learned
in sports affect your life now?  Are there any you need to UNlearn?

Think on this with me for a minute…

If you’ve been in the “real world” for any significant length of time, you’ve probably figured out that you can’t eat the way you did while playing full time.  3,000 – 4,000 cals a day?  Not a chance, right?

So even though sports taught you lessons like high carb intake was good (pre-game carb up, anyone??) you’ve learned that eating that much doesn’t work when your training volume decreases and you get a “real job”.

A high calories diet was a learned mentality that you dropped when you entered the “real world”.

{{BTW if you struggled with trying to figure out how many carbs you should be eating, CARB REHAB will be opening up again for registration this fall.  Click this link now and provide  your name and email address to get on the wait list.  You’ll be the first to get info about it!}}

Sports taught us GREAT life lessons.  However like the high calorie diets, “NEVER QUIT” is a lesson we could afford to unlearn.

We need to learn that there are times when walking away is ok.  There are times when NOT finishing is the smarter option.

Here’s a quick example – I was mid-workout a couple weeks ago when the jello legs set in.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  I hadn’t lifted that heavy in quite a while, and midway through the workout my legs were shaking and on FIYAH.  Worst of all, my form was starting to go during the bulgarian split squats and those things done improperly can really mess you up.

I started to give myself a pep talk, “OK Hight, just two more sets each leg and then you’ll be done.  You can do this.  You’ve survived way worse so put on your big girl panties and FINISH IT!”

But as I pushed into that 3rd set, I knew in my gut it wasn’t a good idea.  I was going to hurt myself and I already knew I wasn’t going to be able to walk for days.

But I didn’t. want. to. quit.   I mean, I’m still an athlete at heart, so quitting sucks!!  It’s not an option!

Or is it??

When I quieted the inner pep talks, I heard that there was that little voice of reason telling me to respect my body…  Telling me to respect where I’m at right now.

Basically, it was saying BACK THE EFF OFF, HIGHT. :)

Standing there in my living room I finally realized that I’d spent my whole life in the “NEVER QUIT” mentality, and I wondered — What would happen if I decided that not finishing the workout  was perfectly ok?

Could I handle quitting? I wondered.

I stood there pondering.  Debating.  Contemplating.  Then I jumped.  Metaphorically of course.  :D

As it turns out, yes!  I could totally handle quitting.  That doesn’t mean it was easy though.  It was freaking hard to quit!!

And why wouldn’t it be?

Like most athletes I was coached to never quit, and lifelong habits are hard to, well, quit.

At first there was some guilt.  Strike that.  Massive guilt.  I mean I *could* have pushed harder.  Normally I would, wouldn’t you??  Honestly, at first I didn’t even want to use this as an example for this post because I felt a little ashamed.

ShameofQuitting
We’ve always believed quitting is unacceptable, so if you
choose to quit something, shame may be right on your heels.
If that happens, reach out!!  Shame only thrives in our silence.

But seriously, what would it have gotten me to finish those sets?  I was already going to be super sore from the workout, so there wasn’t any point in making myself miserable for the next week.   Not to mention the fact that pushing further could’ve gotten me injured again.  No thanks.  Four knee surgeries is more than enough!

Needless to say, I was GLAD I quit.

Oh and here’s another little bonus – because I backed off, I was able to stick to my training schedule and work my legs again 2 days later.  Had I tried to finish that first workout, there was no way DOMS would’ve subsided enough to train again that week.

Do you get what I’m saying?

Now make no mistake – this isn’t a suggestion to quit every time the going gets tough.  You won’t get anywhere in life that way because it is often in challenges where we experience the most growth.  It IS a suggestion though to respect where you’re at in the present moment.

Have you pushed yourself far enough in this workout?  Then quit.

Are you nursing an injury?  Then cut yourself some slack and rest.  Heal that body.

Have you been running on overdrive trying to make everything happen?  Pick one thing to take off your plate.  Pay someone to do it or get a family member or friend to help you out.

Respect yourself by respecting where you’re at.

No offense to Vince or Lance, but sometimes the best way to respect yourself is to quit.

 

What do you think about quitting?  Is there ever guilt or shame around it for you?

<3 Lauren

Why Cafeteria Food was the Best

Has anyone else got a case of the Monday’s today?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m feeling like the biggest struggle-face in the world right now.  And it’s on days like today that I miss the good old college days of eating in the cafeteria <– never thought I’d say that.  Ha!

While cafeteria food was never all that delicious, it was hot and (usually) fresh, with the added bonus of requiring little to no brain power or physical energy to procure my evening meal.

The Beauty of the Caf

Even with my knees wrapped up in ice bags, after practice I could easily stumble the 100 yards from the training room, say hello to every Bruin’s favorite cashier on campus (Miss Tanya) as I swipe my meal card, grab a tray, and pray to God that they have chicken fingers tonight.

Ah yes….  That was the life….

Now though, life looks a little different.  Scratch that.  Life looks A LOT different.

A Wake Up Call

Once you leave college, that’s it.  No more cafeteria.  No more coddling.  You’re dropped into the real world where you have to do EVERYTHING for yourself now, and it can be a brutal fall from what you thought was reality.

One of those reality checks is doing all your own cooking, and if you’re like me, you’re the only one you’re cooking for – what I’m discovering to be both a blessing and a curse.

– A blessing because I don’t have to worry about other mouthes to feed.  Just mine.  And the cat’s.  But she doesn’t really count.

– A curse because when I’m tired and cranky and just want the day to END ALREADY (kinda like today), then fast food suddenly becomes the best idea ever!

But not really.  I know it isn’t a good idea, but my glucose deprived brain and general shitty mood try to convince the health-conscious part of me otherwise.

So how does a girl get herself home without stopping at the drive thru?  Well I have two methods that have worked pretty well for me recently.

Let Someone Else Do the Work 

One option – get your butt to the Whole Foods salad bar.  It’s like your college dorm’s cafeteria but way better (pretty sure WF people would be insulted if they read that but whatevs – you get the picture).

You have the option to create a delicious salad from the massive salad bar, or you can choose from their pre-prepared hot foods.  It’s a win no matter what you go with!

Make a “Semi-Homemade” Meal

My other option is to whip up something real quick at home with only a few ingredients.

[By the way, if you're cooking for a family, then this is probably the better option since the Whole Foods salad bar can get a bit pricey for more than 2 people.]

This chicken stuffed sweet potato is tweaked based on a few different recipes, so you may not find this exact version on the internet anywhere.  However, you’ll find similar stuff from Dr. Oz and PaleOMG.

It’s also perfect for a day where you’ve got a case of the Monday’s cause most of the main ingredients are ready to use (rotisserie chicken, pre-washed spinach, and you can even buy pre-chopped peppers!).

Simple.  Delicious.  Almost as easy as cafeteria food.  :)

<3 Lauren

Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, roughly the same size
  • 2 c shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 bags pre-washed spinach (can use 1 bunch instead)
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, to taste
  • 1 bell pepper, any color & cut into thin strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave following these awesome directions.  Allow to cool, and cut each potato in half.

While potatoes are cooking, heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the peppers and saute for a few minutes until they soften.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.

Season the shredded chicken with TJ’s 21 Seasoning Salute and combine with the spinach and peppers mix.

Slightly mash the insides of each potato half and top with the chicken and veggie mixture.  Serve up immediately and enjoy!

Say NO to the Chocolate Bunny

Today, chocolate bunnies across the world will be deeply discounted and will be looking at you with pleading, brown eyes saying “Take me home with you!”

This year, just say NO to the bunnies.

The bunnies promise so much but all they ever deliver are cravings later in the day, maybe a stomachache, and most definitely a sugar crash 30 minutes later.

Reeses-Eggs Some people have issues with bunnies – my weakness is a Reese’s Egg.
I was just telling people at Easter dinner yesterday how I open an 8 pack 
of these eggs and the eggs all magically disappear…into my belly…

I really hate sugar crashes.  Carb comas, too.  They’re SUPER annoying, and people deal with them all the time (think about the dreaded 3pm slump).

You don’t even have to eat candy like those dang chocolate bunnies to experience a sugar crash, either.  Any starchy carbs that are low in protein and fiber but high in sugar can lead to the same type of crash.

Some “experts” out there might tell you that in order to avoid a crash like this, you have to give up things like sweets and starchy carbs all together.  They’re forever removed from your list of “foods I’m allowed to eat.”

However, I think there’s another way around it.

You see, carbs in general have gotten a bad reputation in our culture.  Certain “diets” out there made carbs out to be villains, but more recently, we’re hearing about concepts like “everything in moderation.”   But then it makes me wonder – what the heck is moderation??  Is moderation for me the same thing as it is for someone else?

There are SO many conflicting ideas out there about carbs, so there’s no wonder that most women are entirely lost when it comes to carbs.

I completely get it and I spent many years in the “clueless about carbs” zone.  This is why I developed a program that’s designed to help you figure out the right amount and types of carbs that you should eat each day.

The process in my new program “Carb Therapy” is one that I’ve used on myself and with clients to figure out how to make carbs work for them.  It’s not about being super restrictive (I don’t do super restrictive very well at all and I don’t think other people do either), but instead it’s about systematic trial and error to figure out what carbs work for YOU.

I am super excited abut this program because I think so soooo many people are confused about carbs (I know I certainly was), and this program is all about eliminating confusion around carbohydrates.

If you’re interested in learning more about Carb Rehab, click here to get all the deets or click “Carb Rehab” in the menu bar above!

My relationship obsession with Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs is not a healthy one, and my Carb Rehab showed me it’s better to abstain from Reese’s Eggs all together instead of eating one and opening the floodgates for a whole bag of them.

So if you know how to play nice with the carbs in your life – and you know you can stick to one, and only one, bunny – then have at it and enjoy!  (and maybe have some protein and green veggies at the same time to limit your sugar crash :) )

<3 Lauren

 

How to cut calories and calm your “hangry” self

Ah, January.  The month of fresh resolutions.  The month of extra-crowded gyms.  The month of lots of hangry people running around town.

What is hanger you ask?

It’s the agitation and anger that results from being ridiculously and/or perpetually hungry.  Hence, the term “hangry.”

The last time I got hangry

tried to travel in a fasted state back in November.  Instead of trying to make good choices at the airport restaurants, I thought I’d just forgo food for the 10 hours.

BIG mistake.

I was severely agitated by every little thing.  The gate agent wasn’t annunciating enough?  The child across the gate area from me that wouldn’t stop sneezing?  The dude next to me who was humming?  The fact that I couldn’t buy a bottle of water with a flip-top lid cause they were all screw-on caps?

All those things triggered a white hot fury in me.  Then I realized what was going on – Lauren was hangry.

Hanger of this magnitude is also a common side effect when one decides to diet by cutting calories and eating less.

You go from eating up a storm to enjoying a half cup of cereal at breakfast, a tiny salad at lunch, and some sort of pared down version of your normal dinner.  Possibly accompanied by nasty steamed veggies.

After a few days of eating like this, who wouldn’t be hangry?!?

Guess what?   It doesn’t have to be this way!

You can cut calories without getting hangry!

This is possible if you start thinking about dieting in a different way.

Instead of eating the same garbage as usual, just less of it, pick foods that you can eat more of – foods that are low calorie so that you can eat A LOT of them.

Hint:  these types of foods tend to be high in protein, fiber and water.

Lean meats (high in protein and water) and fibrous vegetables (high in fiber and water) are excellent choices for filling you up and do a better job of keeping you full between meals.

And let’s be honest, as former athletes we’re used to eating mass quantities of food.  Remember carbing up the night before a game?  Or loading up your dinner plate at the cafeteria after practice?

This is one reason I love to eat meals stuffed full of protein and veggies.

I get to eat till I am plenty full without worrying about how this will affect my calories for the day.    And I have a BIG APPETITE so it takes a lot of food to fill this girl up!

An example: How I keep “Hangry Lauren” at bay

I make a BAS (big ass salad, as Jill Coleman likes to call it).

photo
This BAS is a head of romaine, half a
cucumber, 1 grated carrot, several mushrooms,
a little onion, an avocado, turkey, and a
sprinkle of bacon.  Look how manageable that is!

Get the biggest mixing bowl you have, roughly chop a bunch of veggies and lean protein, add in some sort of healthy fat, toss it all in the bowl.  Then using a pizza cutter, chop the shit outta everything in the bowl till it’s in tiny pieces (or whatever size you desire).

This is a stupidly easy way to eat more vegetables and protein (and not spend 2 hours chomping on a giant pile of leaves or develop TMJ from all said chewing).

The chopping reduces the volume of mass quantities of veggies to a more manageable portion (see, you’re now eating a TON of low calorie items

Plus, I think most salads taste better when they’re all chippity-chopped up like this.

If you’re not willing to put your mixing bowl and pizza cutter through this, then you need an OXO Salad Chopper.  It’s essentially the same thing, but the bowl is plastic, continuously round in the basin, and the “pizza cutter” is double-bladed.

Oh and if you’re not into making your own salads, go to Subway and get one of their salads.  Then ask THEM to chop it to kingdom come!

Now go forth and end your hanger today. 

Choose to eat foods full of protein, fiber and water.  Choose to chop your salads with a pizza cutter.  Or choose to pay Subway to do your dirty work.  Either way, eliminate the hanger in your life and still cut your calories.

Your family, friends and coworkers (and that poor person that looked at you the wrong way in Starbucks this morning) will thank you.

 

Oh and if you’ve ever experienced hanger before, please leave your story below in the comments.  I have a feeling it might prove to be a rather hilarious and enjoyable read. :)

<3 Lauren

 

 

How the NYC Sanitation Department can help you with your New Year’s resolutions

It was so exciting to spend New Year’s Eve in NYC this year!  While I did NOT stand with roughly 1 million people in Times Square in the 25 degree weather to watch the ball drop, I did get to see the whole area in its before and after states.

The before state wasn’t all that bad.  There were tons of barricades everywhere and NYPD’s finest were out en masse at every corner.  The streets were in their typical “clean” state, so there was some trash but not all that much.

 Times Square before
This is what Times Square normally looks like. On NYE,
they also had barricades and a stage (photo courtesy of bustler.net).

However as I walked home at about 2am on January 1st, the picture was pretty different.  The barricades were being picked up, and there were still plenty of cops out.  The trash situation though was VERY different.  There was confetti EVERYWHERE and garbage all over the place.

The garbage was piling up in the stairs for the subway’s entrance, all over the sidewalks and blowing down the street.  It was food bags and cups, beer cans and bottles, and plastic bags and food containers from any restaurant you can think of.

 Times Square after
This is just some of the leftover mess after the NYE party
in Times Square (photo courtesy of mikeip.com).

It was pretty astonishing the amount of trash that people left on the street.

Even more astonishing though was what I saw when I went to the corner market about 6 hours later….

The city looked normal again!!  The barricades were gone, the number of cops out was back to normal, and all the trash was gone!

I learned later on the news that crews had spent the early hours of 2014 cleaning up 50 MILLION POUNDS of TRASH!  That’s a whole lotta garbage picked up super super fast.

Seeing all the garbage and how quickly it was cleaned up got me thinking about how we tend to perceive the holidays and New Year’s resolutions, in general.

We guilt about how we indulged in treats and drinks and skipping workouts during the holidays.

Because of this guilt, we feel bad and want to get “back on track” as quickly as possible and clean up the trash in our lives.

So what do we do?  We overhaul everything in our life at all once via New Year’s resolutions - what we eat, how we’re working out, how we budget/spend our money, etc etc etc – we change it all.

I call this the “pre-season perspective”. 

In order to completely overhaul so many aspects of your life, you’d have to have a pre-season perspective where you do nothing but think about the things you’re trying to change.

The problem is that we’re not on a team anymore where we have the luxury of quitting everything else in our life while we get our eating on track or while we re-ignite our gym routine.

We can’t put all our energy to these new habits anymore cause we also have families, jobs, friends, and a myriad of other demands on our willpower.

I’m not suggesting that you don’t have more than 1 goal for the year.

I am suggesting that you take a strategic approach to accomplishing those goals for the year.

If you’ve signed up for my email newsletter (did you know you get a free gift when you sign up that includes a workout, a meal plan, and stress reducing tips??), you know that I’m all about focusing on making one change in your life at a time.

Why is this?  The research shows that when you focus on making a single change in your life (i.e. incorportating 1 new habit), the chance that you’ll successfully implement the change is around 80%!   Those are some damn good odds!!

Interesting thing is, when you try to incorporate two changes at once that are both new to you (like 2 New Year’s resolutions), the chances that you’ll actually create a habit for either one drops to 30%.

If that doesn’t blow your mind, just stop reading.  [No no, don't do that.  The point is, that should reeeeeally make you think about how you go about making big changes in your life.]

Here are some examples of how to successfully implement common New Year’s resolutions.

Resolution:  I want to eat better.

Steps to success

-Start with observing/recording everything you eat and drink for one week.  Don’t make any changes, just observe.

-Pick 1 meal to change.  Maybe swap your sandwich at lunch for a salad, fast for 12 hours overnight (don’t eat from 8pm-8am), instead of cereal make a protein shake for breakfast, eat mainly lean protein and veggies at dinner, etc.

-Do that single action/swap till you’re doing it without really thinking about it, until it’s effortless.  This could take a few weeks, so be patient with yourself.

-Add the next change (different meal, more water, extra veggies at a meal, snacking on veggies and nuts instead of chips or crackers, etc.).  Keep making changes in this way until you’re eating the way you want to be eating and that works for YOU.

 

Resolution:  I’m gonna workout more.

Steps to success

-Start with observing – how often are you working out now each week?

-Schedule an additional 1-2 days working out at most, and pick an activity you like to do.  If you don’t know what you like to do, you could sign up for classes to try something out for a few weeks.  You could also try the workouts in my GET SMART workout program.  It’s 4 weeks worth of workouts that need minimal equipment (read: no gym membership).  Check it out here!

-Workout these extra days for a few weeks until it’s easy and it doesn’t feel like a chore anymore.

-At this point, add another day or a different type of workout until that becomes effortless, too.  Continue making changes this way until you’ve got the workout schedule you like and will do!

 

So before you decide to adopt the pre-season perspective and go all-out to clean up the figurative 50 million pounds of trash overnight, step back and take a moment to pick the most important thing to you.   Work on that change first.

Leave a comment below with what you decide to focus on changing first!

<3 Lauren

 

The “Confetti” Effect – What It Is, Why You Should Care & What To Do About It

Ah confetti.  It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

It’s colorful, sparkly, and typically a lot of fun to launch up into the air.

Seriously – who doesn’t love those confetti poppers?!?

It’s especially fun as gravity overcomes the high-flying brillance and it starts to make its way back to the ground and every. other. flat. surface.

Once it’s hit the ground though I no longer consider it to be beautiful, fun or brilliant.  This is the moment that I wish some magic confetti clean-up fairy had flown through the air and collected it all before it landed.  Then I could avoid the clean-up stage because I despise cleaning.

Why am I talking about confetti?

What happens when confetti is launched then  falls to the floor is the same thing that happens when fat is released from storage by a workout but never used by the body.

  • The confetti popper is the workout.
  • The confetti is body fat.
  • The same way confetti floats through the air is similar to how fat floats through your bloodstream after a workout.
  • The magical confetti fairy that I wish existed?   It’s the missing piece of your workout – low intensity exercise that burns the fat.

See it’s not enough to only release fat from storage and into the bloodstream.  It’s an important step, but not the only part.

Once it’s in the bloodstream, the fat needs to be metabolized and used as energy.  Otherwise it will go back into storage in the fat cells... just like confetti falls back to the ground.  Hence, the confetti effect.

confettieffect1

How can you avoid the confetti effect?

You gotta get yourself a magic confetti clean-up fairy.

What is a magic confetti clean-up fairy, you ask?  It’s any sort of very low intensity exercise that you do AFTER your 20 minutes of intense exercise.  Things like…

  • walking
  • housework
  • tai chi
  • restorative yoga
  • shopping
  • very slow biking/ellipticizing

This type of exercise for 30-60 minutes AFTER an intense, short workout will effectively burn that fat you just released from storage.

Aren’t you glad I’ve given you this analogy??  Now whenever you see confetti you’ll be like, “I know how to avoid the confetti effect!!  I’m super prepared for my New Year’s resolution of getting in better shape!  I know that if I  keep moving for 30-60 minutes after my workout, I’ll burn that fat I released during my workout instead of it going right back into storage.   I rock because of Lauren!”

Well, you may not think exactly that, but the analogy will linger…  :D

<3 Lauren

The Stupidest Trend in a LONG Time

Alright all, I know that I promised you a blog this week on reducing the amount of time you workout.

You WILL get that post on our regularly scheduled post day – Tuesday.  Tantalizing Tuesday.  Yep, I just renamed the 3rd day of the week cause that’s how I roll.

There is a good reason for this change, and I think it’s ok to change my mind every once in a while…

So I am. :D

——————————————————–

I felt it necessary that we briefly discuss a hot topic, especially in light of last week’s post – Two Big Thighs and a Drunk that seemed to really hit home with a lot of you.

I want you to READ MY POST, then I’m gonna send you to another blog – the author is amazing!  I want you to READ HER POST on it because it’s she explains it really well.

Anyway, this hot topic is the THIGH GAP.

The thigh gap is the space between your legs/thighs when you’re standing with your feet together.  The look that some women are now aspiring to is completely empty space between your legs – from your ankles all the way up to your lady parts.

Um WHAT?!?!?

For athletes that have QUADS or CALVES, there’s a damn good chance that our legs will touch each other somewhere, so the thigh gap is unachievable for most athletes.

In fact, this is a ridiculous goal for most women!!

It requires a particular body structure to make it even somewhat feasible.  We’re not even talking about the amount of muscle/fat on a woman’s body either – just her bone/tendon structure!

So unless you can alter your genetic code and magically get your bone structure to change (which I would imagine is quite painful), you’re shit outta luck on this one.  Basically….

 

You can change your body composition, but you can’t change your body structure.

Getting in shape changes our body composition, but our body structure is what it is.  Just make sure that whatever sort of health/fitness goal you set for yourself makes sense or is actually possible.

Now I want you to do these things….

1.  Like this blog by clicking the “Like” button below.

2.  Go to Jen Sinkler’s post about the thigh gap, read it, then send her your pic of #closethethighgap

Stupidest Trend Ever


<3 Lauren

 

17 Things You Need to Stop Doing Now

I’m sitting on my boyfriend’s couch a few weeks ago, and we’re all cozied up together.  There’s a fire in the fireplace, the flowers he surprised me with at the airport in a vase on the coffee table, and our bellies are full from a delicious meal we’d just cooked together.

To make our time together that night a little more special, we decide to turn on a movie.  But what to watch?

Something funny?  No.

A chick flick?  Haha in MY dreams.

Horror?  Yeah right! In HIS dreams!

No – we decided to go instead with White House Down.  You know, a real relaxing movie…

Anyway, so we’re about 20 minutes into the movie.  My face is glued to the screen; I’m hardly blinking my eyes and pretty sure holding my breath for 50% of the time.  Needless to say, I’m a little tense.

Then out of nowhere he slaps at my hand!

“What’d you do that for?!” I yell.

“You’re picking at your fingers again.  Stop it.”

Oh yeah, that.  So when I get tense or anxious, I tend to pick at my cuticles.  It’s a habit that leaves me with not-so-pretty nails, and the biggest issue is HALF THE TIME I DON’T REALIZE I’M DOING IT!!

As annoyed as I was that he smacked at my hand, I was thankful he did.  I’d rather know when I’m doing something that may not be the greatest thing for me.

Things to stop doing nowHe only tells me these things cause he loves me, as
evidenced by the card he sent me after I moved to NYC.

Hopefully you feel the same way cause today’s post is me virtually slapping your hand when you’re picking at your cuticles.  Today I’m sharing ## things you should stop doing now that are hindering you from getting back into shape.

There’s no shame or judgement here either.  I catch myself doing some of these all the time, but if you don’t know you’re doing it, you can’t stop doing it.  Awareness is the first step always!

Stop Doing These Things Now

1.  Assuming all calories are created equal.

Consider this – you can probably easily eat 2 Original Krispy Kreme doughnuts (~200 calories each) and end up hungry and with an energy crash an hour later.  But if you eat 2 skin-on chicken breasts (also ~200 calories each), you’ll be VERY full after eating them and probably won’t be hungry again for another 3-4 hours.

This is because these two foods cause very different things to happen in our body.  This is why it’s good to know what the macronutrient breakdown of your food is – carbs vs protein vs fat vs fiber.  High protein, high fiber/low sugar foods will help fill you up, keep you fuller longer, and limit the energy crash from high sugar/low fiber foods.

2.  Thinking you can out-exercise a bad diet.

Just because you burn 400 calories at the gym does NOT mean you just negated the effects of 400 calories worth of doughnuts.  Why?  Because calories aren’t created equal.  Focus your efforts FIRST on eating lean proteins, fibrous veggies and healthy fats.  Then your workouts will support your food choices instead of punishing your body for them.

3.  Drinking less than 2L of water a day.

Our body is made of mostly water, so it makes sense that we continue to give it what it likes.  Water is critical to healthy brain, digestive, and muscle function – and those are just a few of its benefits.  Buy yourself a Kleen Kanteen, fill it up and drink it 2x throughout the course of your day.

Hint – front load your day with your water intake so that you’re not waking up at night every few hours to pee.

4.  Only eating 1-2 servings of veggies a day.

Fibrous veggies are full of vitamins, minerals, and all sorts of phytonutrients that your body craves.  Even things like calcium are found in many leafy greens (i.e. kale)!  Check out this post to get some easy tips on upping your veggie intake.

5.  Taking care of everyone but yourself.

I know you’ve got all sorts of things to take care of – your family, friendships, SO’s, and your job.  But you’re not going to be able to take care of anyone if you wind up ridiculously frazzled or incapacitated from some illness.

Need ideas on caring for yourself?  Make time to plan and/or prepare your breakfasts and lunches for the week.  Set aside time for the gym a few days a week, and go for a 20 min walk everyday.  Walks are a great for your heart and for lowering stress.

6.  Eating meals that are carb centered.

Carb centric meals result in all sorts of issues.  Examples: cereal for breakfast, sandwich and chips for lunch and spaghetti for dinner.  A primary issue is they generate huge swings in your blood sugar.  This leads to an energy crash about an hour after you eat them – hence, carb coma or lunch coma.

Instead of carb centered meals choose to make a lean protein and veggies the star of your meal.

7.  Working harder to get better results.

We had it burned into our brains as athletes that to get better we had to work harder.  Problem is, this doesn’t translate to real life AND no one told us it wouldn’t!  So for example – your first instinct is to do more at the gym because you’re not losing weight the way you want.

I’m suggesting that instead, you do different types of workouts that are more efficient than what you’re doing now.  This training program is full of great options to help you do just that.

8.  Weighing yourself every day.

This is something you seriously need to stop!  I stopped doing this about a year ago and it’s been incredibly liberating.  See the scale only measures weight.  It doesn’t tell you if you’re just retaining water today or if you actually gained 8lbs overnight.

I’ve found that seeing the number dance around so much is just frustrating, so much so that I put my scale away.  It only comes out once a month when I take progress pics and do measurements.  See this post FMI on how I measure progress.

9.  Drinking diet sodas.

There’s a good chance that if you’re on Facebook you’ve seen all the memes floating around about how bad diet sodas are for you.  While I haven’t cut them out completely, I’ve drastically reduced my intake.  My biggest issue is with the fake sugars in there.  They train your body to do bad things, so I figure it’s better to limit them to about once a week or so.

10.  Eating whole grains as your source of fiber.

Overall, whole grains DO have more fiber than fruits or vegetables.  BUT (and this is probably the biggest “but” on the page) it’s the ratio of sugar to fiber in a food source that is important.  Remember, high sugar food =  blood sugar swings = hunger and energy drops.  So we want sources of fiber with as little sugar as possible.

Whole grains are approximately 2 to 1 Sugar to Fiber.
Fruits (like berries) are about 4 to 3 Sugar to Fiber.
Vegetables (like greens) average 2 to 5 Sugar to FIber.

11. Focusing on cardio only at the gym.

Moderate intensity, long duration cardio (40 min and up) is some of the least efficient exercise you can choose if you’re trying to lose weight.  Even worse? too much of it eats up your muscle.  Since muscle is critical to losing our pooch, we want to pick workouts that hold onto muscle.  Lifting heavy things helps you do that. :)

For those of you that can’t give up your cardio sessions, stick to high intensity interval training (HIIT).  Keep the workout to about 35 min or less, and cycle through periods of very low intensity and very high intensity.  I usually start by structuring it as a 3 parts rest and 1 part work.  So after a warm-up on the elliptical, I’ll crank up the resistance and go as hard and fast as I can for 30 sec.  Then I’ll ease up and back off the resistance for the next 1.5 minutes.  Then I’ll ramp it up again.  Get it?

12.  Eating non-stop (snacking) between dinner and bed.

Many people refer to this as “continuous meal.”  You know you’ve done it.  I’ve done it, too.  But you can stop it.  One option – make a drink from unsweetened cocoa, stevia, and hot water – the cocoa curbs cravings fast and gives you something to sip on.  Also, get your butt in bed!  You can always waste time online tomorrow or record that new episode of Say Yes to the Dress to watch later.  Staying up late means you’re gonna wanna eat, so just go to bed.

13.  Counting calories.

This drives me up the wall – and I’m even a numbers gal!!  Seriously, it’s not worth your effort.  Instead of tracking every single calorie, write down instead the kinds of foods you’re eating and approximate amounts.  Instead of choosing a low cal option (that make still be loaded with carbs and fake sugars), pick high protein, high fiber (so lots o veggies) foods.  Load up on those, then have a few bites of your favorite carb.

14.  Wasting time online and watching TV.

These are not stress lowering activities.  You’d think they might be since you’re not doing anything but research shows otherwise.  Shut off the screens and go get in a hot bath.  Or read a book.  Or TALK to the other people in the house.  Use your evenings for something other than electronics.

15.  Eating starchy carbs and fat together.

I weep as I write this because it’s my favorite combo ever.  This is the stuff I crave.  This is also the combo that’s like an atomic bomb to all your attempts at weight loss.  The stuff that happens in the body when you eat high carb/high fat foods together is no bueno.  In your meal choose one or the other, not both.

Culprits would be donuts, potato chips (damn it!!!), anything fried really, pizza, greasy hamburgers.

16.  Believing that lifting weights will make you bulk up like a man.

Enough already, ladies.  Sure your muscles will grow a little when you start lifting but that’s a good thing!  You need muscles to give you a round, firm bum and sexy shoulders.  Plus muscle is critical to your basal metabolic rate.  The more muscle you have the more calories your body burns at rest.

More info on why to save your muscle is here.

17.  Comparing yourself to fitness models in motivational memes.

This one has got me all riled up.  I used to do it non-stop, until I realized it was making me miserable.   Comparing myself to all those women in those “strong is the new skinny” pics only discouraged me.  They were motivational for about 2 nanoseconds, then I’d start feeling like the chunkiest athlete ever.

Stop the comparing – to photos, models, and other women in general.  YOU are beautiful.  YOU are strong.  YOU are sexy.  And numbers on the scale or on your clothes have nothing to do with it.

 

If I think of any others, I’ll be sure to let you know.  You’ve got fair warning though – if I see you doing any of these, you can expect a slap on the hand!

<3, Lauren

P.S.  I want to hear from you!  What not-so-good habits do you have that are keeping you from getting back in shape?

 

 

 

Scales are from the pit of hell & other ways to track your progress

So word has it around the fitness industry that September is becoming more like January – people are paying more attention again to what they eat and wanting to workout more.  Basically, people are renewing their resolutions to get healthier.

My guess is that it’s due to school starting up again, vacations ending, and most of the summer holidays being over.  So it’s time for a fresh start with the new school year (kinda like a fresh start with a new year!  seeing the January connection?? :D ).  Totally makes sense to me!

I think I’m kinda doing that too, actually.  I’m planning on enrolling in THIS AWESOME PROGRAM from Metabolic Effect cause honestly, my nutrition could use a little more structure right now.

Between vacation and being a permanent tourist in NYC (hello unlimited bars and restaurants to try!!!), I’ve allowed myself more “treats” than I have in probably the last year.  I’m not going for a drastic overhaul – my breakfast and lunch tend to be fat loss friendly choices… but snacks and dinner have moved to foods that won’t get me to my fat loss goals.

Anyway, so the program will give me a little more structure and accountability, which I think is a critical component to any fat loss program.  I’ve done this program before back in January, and it truly was a jumpstart to my fat loss efforts.

One thing that I struggled with during the program though was keeping track of my progress.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have ways to keep track of my progress, but the way I was tracking wasn’t helping me attain my goals and creating mental tornadoes.

 Tracking your progress

No doubt, it’s important to be able to measure your progress.  As a chemist, I’m a data girl through and through.  [I can analyze the $h*t out of anything! Lol!]  I KNOW the importance of having data to analyze so that you can make adjustments if what you’re doing isn’t working.  Plus, doing the same thing over and over and over again, expecting different results, is the definition of insanity!  So you need a way to track progress.

My issue is that when I or anyone else wants to measure their progress on a new diet/exercise plan, the first thing they turn to is the bathroom scale.

Why do I have a problem with the scale?

Because it lies.

It is a number that too often gets tied to our self-worth or whether or not we’ll feel beautiful for the rest of the day or how confident we’ll feel in our afternoon meeting.

Not only is it feeding into all this negative self-talk, when used alone, it’s not an accurate way to measure fat loss or muscle gain.

All the thing does is measure your relationship with GRAVITY.  A basic scale will not make the distinction between whether you have lost fat, muscle, water or a combination there of.  All it says is that you’re exerting more/less force on the ground.  That’s it.

Too often, it’s easy to get hung up on the number on the scale.  Say for 2 weeks, I’ve been eating fat loss friendly foods, done my workouts, slept enough, and are doing cortisol lowering activities.  I feel great, I’ve had an increase in energy and I just *feel* tighter/smaller.  My attitude towards how this meal plan is working for me is SUPER positive, so I can’t wait to jump on the scale for “proof” of how well it’s working.

So I hop on and look down… and then BAM!  To my horror, the scale only reads 1 pound lighter… or worse yet, it hasn’t budged.

That’s when the mental tornado starts.  ”But I’ve been working so hard!!  I HAD to have lost more than that!  This is ridiculous!  I’ll just have to eat less/workout more…  But I have so far to go; at this rate it’ll take forever.  I’ll never get there.  Oh who the hell cares, I’ll go eat a family size bag of potato chips since eating strict isn’t getting me anywhere – besides potato chips taste WAY better.”

Ummm, has anyone else ever done this??  If you have, you know it’s a miserable feeling.  You go from super jazzed about what you’re doing to rock bottom.  Your motivation is gone and your confidence is likely shot.  One moment you felt like you could do what you were doing forever, now you’re ready to dive into a bucket of ice cream and never leave the couch.

All this because some flat, square electronic device showed a higher number than you weren’t expecting???  I say screw it.  It’s time to stop giving the scale all the power in your relationship (because yes, you are giving the scale the power to squash you and your confidence).  

There are MANY other ways to measure your progress to your health/fitness goals, so if the scale can crush you just by stepping onto it, then it’s time to choose other methods.

While I’ve never been addicted to the scale (e.g. daily weigh-ins), I found I was still addicted to what it had to say.  The thing had too much power over me, so I stopped.

Yep, you read that right.  I stopped weighing myself.  I no longer use it as a way to track because I don’t have a healthy relationship with the scale.  And why set myself up for mental tornadoes when I can use other ways of tracking?

So since September is becoming like January and there may be some of you out there deciding to eat better/workout more efficiently, you’ll likely want to track your progress, and I’m going to give you my top 3 ways of tracking that DON’T include the scale.  One thing to remember is consistency – for the things that require measuring, try to do it at the same time.  So if you measure weekly, try to do it at the same time on the same day each week (makes it more reliable).

1.  Photos of yourself in the same outfit.
I LOVE this method of tracking!  I usually pick a swimsuit or spandex shorts and sports bra, set up the self timer on my camera, and snap away!  Used to be that I took photos weekly, but I found that I got too critical too easily if I “couldn’t see progress” from last week.  So I started doing it 1x a month.  It’s really amazing to see how much your body can change over the course of a few weeks!  Definitely my top choice for tracking progress.

2.  How do my clothes fit?
Another favorite tracking method of mine!  And you can do it a couple of ways.  One is to just pay attention to how your clothes are fitting.
Good questions to ask yourself
– Is there more room in the waist than the last time I wore these pants?  Are the sleeves looser in this shirt?  How does the back of this jacket pull when I cross my arms in front of my body?  Eh-hem… Am I no longer filling out my bra?? (ALWAYS a way for me to tell I’m making progress – sorry guys!!)  –
So that’s one way to do it – just pay attention to what you’re wearing every day.  Another way is to have a single piece of clothing that you try on once every few weeks and gauge how it fits (use a scale of 1-10, 1 being crappy fit and 10 being awesome).  For me, it’s this pair of gray work pants.  Since I can get too easily hung up on the numbers, I actually put the pants on and take pics of how they fit/look.  It’s a very objective way for me to track progress.  Do they feel looser/tighter?  How do they fit through the thighs? Etc…

3.  Circumference measurements.
This was something I had to give up after a while because I started *expecting* to see certain inches lost based on how I felt that week, but for most people this is a great way to track progress objectively!  All you need is a flexible tape measure and something to write with/on, and you literally measure the circumference at different spots on your body.  The ones I say that are best for gals are the fullest part of your bust, your natural waist, the fullest part of your butt, and the fullest part of one thigh (use the same thigh each time).  I find that I tend to see changes also in my arms, so I’ll measure my right bicep at a certain freckle (helps with consistency).  Also, I measure right under my bust (where the band of my bra would sit).  For me, those tend to be good spots for tracking.  Measuring once every 1-2 weeks can be very helpful and much less mentally taxing than the scale.

There you have them!  My top 3 ways to measure your progress WITHOUT the scale.  Let me think here… Pretty sure the last time I weighed myself was mid-June.  Before then, sometime back in February or March.  It was more for curiosity’s sake, not a “I HAVE to know what I weigh”.  There were no expectations or wishes or hopes for a certain number when I got on.   The whole idea is that the scale is just a number.  I mean, you could get even more creative and not focus on something related to your size/shape at all!  Maybe you just start focusing on how much weight you’re able to throw around in the gym now.  You did your metabolic circuits a month ago with 12 lb dumbbells and now you gotta use 15′s to get your B’s and H’s?  AWESOME!  That is HUGE progress there!  The point is - No matter what method you choose to monitor progress, remember that the key is focus on your wins and be grateful for them.

Now here’s a challenge for you – toss the scale for 3 months.  Put it away in some corner of your apartment, buried in your winter clothes and stash that box under tons of other boxes so that you’re not tempted to use it.  Choose another of the 3 methods above (or all of them at once, that’s fine too!) and track your progress that way.  Then I want to hear from you how much more free you’re feeling mentally/emotionally since you’re no longer chained to a number.

If you’re with me, in the comments below say “I’m gonna #tossthescale” and then we’ll start this awesome journey to freedom from the scale together!

Super excited!!  <3, Lauren

Inspiring Interview of the Month

What’s up everybody??  Today I bring you the newest thing at OnceAnAthlete, AlwaysAnAthlete and that is…drumroll please….  an inspiring interview!!  Yes, that’s right!  I’m out there finding other awesome people who are just as excited about fitness and health (physical, emotional, mental) as I am.  Once every month or so, I’ll interview one of these awesome people and post their answers for you awesome peeps to read.  This week is a dear friend of my, Michelle Engberg.  Read her bio then the interview THEN go check out her blog!

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Bio: Michelle has been a physical therapist for almost 2 years.  She discovered a love for writing during an internship in Niger, Africa when the team decided to keep a blog of their experiences in the desert providing physical therapy alongside missionaries in the capital city of Niamey. She has since started a blog called Everyday Blessings: Seeing God in the Big and Smalls Things so she will never forget the many blessings God provides when her heart and eyes are open to see them. Feel free to check it out at:

http://everydayblessingsbigandsmalll.blogspot.com/

1a. What sport did you play? How long did you play for and what was the highest level you played at?

I played soccer from the time I was 4 years old until a few months ago. I was blessed to play at the division 1 collegiate level, earning a partial scholarship for my education.

1b. Without betraying your age if you don’t want to - how many years ago did you play your last “career” game?

Almost 5 years ago.

2. Where are you employed now and what is it that you do there?

I work at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, MN as a pediatric physical therapist.

3. What was the most poignant lesson you learned from playing sports?

Playing sports provides ample opportunity for character development and lessons that can’t be taught in a classroom. One of the most poignant lessons I learned was the importance of putting the needs of your team above the needs of yourself. I was blessed with soccer talent, but earned a scholarship more because of my work ethic than because of my natural ability.

Most of my teammates were more talented than me, and even with my hard work, come game time, they were the better choice to compete in the game. It was frustrating at times to put in a lot of work with inconsistent return for my investment, but looking back it was an important part of my athletic experience. Even if my hard work didn’t earn the playing I hoped it would, I learned about discipline and leading by example.

In life, you are often more effective and productive in whatever you are doing, when you can encourage those around you to reach their potential and realize their talents.  Sometimes this happens through verbal affirmation and a positive attitude, but it also occurs when you work hard for the people around you, for the good of the team and not for your own personal gain.

4. What does your workout routine look like now? Is this different from how you trained as a college athlete?

At this time in my life, the routine part of workout is non-existent. In college, we had workouts scheduled for us, teammates to push us and workout with us outside of practice, and a goal to work towards to motivate us.

There was more time and flexibility with my schedule.

I currently work 4 “10” hour shifts (meaning I am usually at work for 10.5-12 hours depending on the day) with a 45-60 minute commute each way (or 2 hours if there is snow).  I have an active job where I am lifting patients, imitating exercises, and constantly searching for entertaining ways to motivate the kids I work with, leaving me pretty tired at the end of the workday. I try to get in workouts on my days off but due to 5 knee surgeries over the course of my soccer career, those exercises look different than they did in college.

I do a lot of yoga, riding a bike, elliptical, or going for long walks. I recently started the 100 consecutive push-up challenge, a 7 week training program. I find I am most motivated to work-out when I have something I’m working toward.

5.  Is it even possible to sustain an “in-season training mentality” now that you’re out of the college bubble and into the real world?  It can’t be done, can it?

I find it very difficult to maintain an “in-season training mentality” in the real world. When I was in college, soccer was an all-consuming part of my life. I trained like it was my job because essentially it was. Now with a full time job plus other responsibilities, the 2-hour training sessions just aren’t realistic.

6. What did your transition from your career as a student athlete to the “real world” look like?  What challenges did you face?  How did you work through them?

Initially after graduation, I went into training for a half marathon. I thought it would be a great way to stay in shape and motivated to workout. Unfortunately, a knee surgery interrupted that plan. I worked hard to rehab my knee and fell into a routine to make sure I gained back my strength.

Once that I happened, I joined rec soccer leagues to feed my competitive drive and tried to stay active. A marathon or half marathon was no longer an option if I wanted to preserve the cartilage left in my knee, so I started walking and doing yoga and was able to fall into a workout routine. Once grad school started, there was a gym on campus so I found time after class and before taking the train home to get in a workout.

It wasn’t until I started my “real job” that the workout routine became less routine. I’ve worked through it by not beating myself up about not working out, but celebrating when I do workout (and not with a big bowl of ice cream J)

Beside the change in my workout routine, one thing that struck me about my transition from student athlete to “real world” citizen was how much my life had revolved around soccer. Much of my identity was wrapped up who I was as a soccer player and when that ended, there was a bit of shift to figure out who I really was. I started to surrender that part of my identity to God, allowed him to remind me who I actually am, and watch God show up in amazing ways.

It’s been an absolutely incredible experience. I learned that my worth goes beyond what I can contribute to my team or the pleasure I took in playing a game I love. I am a dearly loved child of God, bought at a price, and capable of so much more than what can be accomplished in a 100×60 yard space. I had a small sense of this as player but was often so focused on the task at hand to embrace it. I will always be an athlete, but that is only part of my identity. I’m enjoying the life God has given me as I continually discover new parts of my identity and take on new challenges off the field.

7. What is one thing you wished someone had told you about transitioning to life after college sports?

It would have been great to get counseling on nutrition. I think education on nutrition while competing would have been great, but more so once we were done training. Most of us ate “whatever we wanted” because we’d likely burn it off at practice. That mindset became tricky when there was no longer a practice to burn off those extra calories. Sure I could go run for 30 minutes and burn off some calories, but it didn’t compare with my in-season training regiment. Plus, this girl has a sweet tooth and I would have loved to find healthier ways to satisfy those cravings than chocolate chip cookies after every meal.

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Hope you enjoyed hearing from Michelle!  Tell me in the comments below, what did you struggle with as you transitioned out of your high school or college sport?

<3 Lauren