Ready, Set, Sleep

We’ve all heard the saying that abs are made in the kitchen and, to a certain extent, this is true. But let’s not leave out back fat and flabby thighs. All of our body is effected by what we eat and drink. But our food habits are just a piece of the puzzle that leads to success. There are other pieces that need your attention. Do you know what one of the most important is? Sleep.

It’s one of my favorite things to do. It seems to be the first thing people sacrifice when life gets busy and it’s understandable. When you sleep, you don’t get anything done. But that’s not exactly true. Your body and mind need this time to recuperate, renew, and heal. But that’s not all.

Studies indicate that sleep is critical when it comes to losing weight because it affects hormones that influence your weight loss. Leptin and ghrelin are controlled by your fat cells and when they get out of whack, your body is sure to feel it. When things are functioning as they should, your fat cells produce leptin and you don’t feel hungry. When your fat cells produce ghrelin, hunger is stimulated.  This is the natural balance of our hormones and everything works fine when the body has what it needs. These hormones we never think about need to be controlled when attempting to lose weight and guess what helps this happen? Right. Sleep.

So what happens when we don’t get enough sleep? It all begins with insulin. Sleep deprivation cause your fat cells to slack on their job. Lack of sleep triggers your brain to need more food. In short, insulin sensitivity drops and things start getting wacky.  When you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones react. As a result, your body senses the imbalance and it begins to feel a little stress and, boom, there it is. Trouble trying to sneak in through the back door.

When this imbalance starts taking place, cortisol enters the picture. Why? Because lack of sleep releases cortisol. Now you’ve got nice little hormone cocktail that’s going to make a mess of things. Why? Because cortisol activates pleasure centers in the brain, which might make you want some cookies or ice cream. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin, too, which makes you feel hungry. So, it is possible to feel hungry having just eaten because of these hormones. It is a never-ending cycle that can mess you up if you don’t get it under control.

Sleep is underrated. It does a body good and your job is to find out just how much you need. Don’t try to make yourself one of those people who can go on four hours of sleep for days. One day when you don’t have to get up, go to bed at a decent hour and sleep until you wake up. Notice how rested you feel and go to bed early enough to make that happen on a regular basis.

Your body will love your for it and getting that diy tummy tuck won’t be so hard to do.

 

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Sources:

National Institutes of health:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18564298

Mayo Clinic
Journal of Clinical Endocrinoloy and Metabolism

NewsMaxHealth:
http://www.newsmax.com/health/Health-News/sleep-blood-pressure-diabetes/2013/11/06/id/535194/

 

 

 

The Value of Small Victories

It’s nice to have a long-term goal and it’s even better to have short-term goals to make the journey that much more enjoyable. In between those short-term goals are small victories that are worth recognizing because they represent the changes taking place.

For instance, at some point in your exercise regimen, you will realize certain moves are easier. You will find that instead of just trying to make it to the end of your workout, you actually try to do one more push up than you did yesterday. You’ll realize that you can go deeper into a lunge and you actually want to squeeze out one more squat in perfect form.

If you stick with a routine long enough, this does happen and it is the very reason you should stick with a routine. Why? Because it’s magic. This feeling of accomplishment, even if it is improving your form, is proving that the process does work and it’s giving you a reason to workout tomorrow.

Your journey will be filled with non-scale-victories and you should celebrate them just as you celebrate any other success. Use them as motivation.

Do you have a small victory you’ve experienced recently?

Share it with pride! 🙂

Progress

One of the most amazing things about the human body is its ability to adapt. The first few days of any new kind of exercise will leave yo feeling sore and defeated but, if you persist, you’ll find with every day, some progress.

The 30-day Shred is difficult for many reasons. It’s a lot of getting up and down and, if you’re not used to that, it can be really hard. If you have a belly, it might get in the way of getting on the floor and back up again. However, if you continue to pursue, you’ll find that after about the first week, things begin to change.

The first few days of any new regimen is simply surviving. You may feel like you’re getting your butt kicked and the best you can do is go through the motions. It is tough, no doubt. The following days might be filled with dread but you will notice small changes that bring encouragement.

For example, you may notice that you can lift your feet higher on butt-kicks or that you can do 30 seconds of jumping jacks without stopping to breathe. You might also notice that you can get down on the floor a little bit quicker and you can get up without as much effort. You might also notice you aren’t breathing as heavy as you were a week ago.

It’s all part of the process and, if you follow through, change will come – maybe even quicker than you think… the trick do staying committed during the early stages of any exercise routine is noticing how your body adapts in the smallest of ways. Give yourself kudos when you can do one more push up or a few more lunges – these small changes are significant because it’s your body telling you, “I can do this!”

Believe it.

Third Day In

I just completed day three of Jillian’s 30-Day Shred. I’m on Level One and I’m just glad I made it through. Here’s what I’m experiencing: soreness in my quads, glutes, calves and chest.

If you haven’t done any kind of workout for awhile, the most difficult thing is going down to the floor to do one exercise and getting back up to do another. Then going back down and getting back up. From push ups to squats to crunches to jumping jaacks…. the entire routine is like this. These kinds of exercises are fantastic for building a strong core and terrific abs. So, if youre used to being on a bike or doing aerobics without any kind of floor work, this will be a shock. But, as always, a good one.

We’ve got about six weeks until Thanksgiving. Do you want to join me in making some radical transformations by then?

Second-Day Scare

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Yes, the second day is the most difficult to get up and get moving because the soreness has begun to kick in. The best thing for this soreness, however, is to move the muscles a bit and that’s exactly what happens when you do this workout. 🙂

It’s tough and that’s what makes the short 27 minutes tolerable. It goes by fairly quickly and if you just focus on getting through every move with proper form and pride, you can do it.

It’s been years since I’ve done this routine and it’s still one of the best out there. I think the planets were aligned when she threw this thing together; just like they were when Tony Horton created p90x.

The good news is you will love yourself when you get through each and every day and when you complete the workout, you’ll have so much to be proud for. A new appreciation for yourself and a new body.

Don’t fear the trainer.

Inspiration, Motivation and Willpower

Track finish line from above Athletics 2000 Sydney PG

Inspiration, motivation and willpower are funny things. You need all of them to succeed. Many people may focus on just one of these when they are working toward a particular goal, but I think they work better as a team. This is especially true with weight loss and fitness because these goals take time to reach and sometimes you need something to hang on to while we’re waiting for success. Let’s break it down and I’ll show you what I mean.

Inspiration is that spark of arousal; that hint of hope that initiates change or, at least, thinking of change. It can be something as simple as a picture of Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton or even an old photograph of you. Inspiration can also be also be how you feel when you do something positive. For example, I love that soreness after a workout. That soreness can last a day or two so even when I’m not exercising, I am constantly reminded of my progress and potential success. I can’t express just how empowering that feeling is; it’s wonderful. You might be inspired by the numbers of calories burned after an exercise or the feeling you get from turning down a doughnut at the office. Inspiration comes in many forms and it’s okay to accept any and all of them if they help you achieve your healthiest best.

Motivation is that thing that gives you a reason to move. It’s actually very similar to inspiration in that both make you want to do something. However, in terms of diet and achieving a flat tummy, or whatever you want, motivation is closely related to incentive. For example, if I exercise, I will burn fat or if I strength train, I will build muscle. A motive is something that causes you to act; it is a goal that causes motion. In short, it leads to action. You can sit and look at a picture all day long but what makes you want to move? This is where the goal comes in… You need that goal, that motivation, to get up and make the move.

Willpower is the another link in the chain. Some will tell you it’s the most important aspect of any goal because it requires control. For that reason, it is probably the most complete aspect because control can be hard at times. However, it’s not impossible. It’s hard to pass up cheese dip at family functions. It’s hard to turn down pizza in social situations when everyone else tells you to eat up and enjoy. Chocolate goodies at the office are the devil but everyone wants you to eat one. Yeah, it’s hard and that’s why willpower is so important. You cannot live without it and inspiration and motivation make it easier. When you are aware of how strong your mind actually is, willpower might even become a powerful weapon.

When you put the three together, it becomes easier. For example, if you’re in the office and someone wants you to eat a doughnut and your arms are sore from yesterday’s workout, you might be more inclined to pass. If your butt is burning and hurts you every time you get up, those cookies look like the devil because they represent all the reasons why you have to workout in the first place. If you can change the way you look at cookies, pizza and beer, you can see them as motivation and even inspiration. How many minutes will you have to workout to burn off that pizza? Or how about thinking of sacrificing your last workout for a candy bar. Really?

If it takes a lot for you to get up and exercise, you should look at your temptations as an opportunity to say no. Why? Because you know it isn’t worth it. If you’re feeling the burn in your triceps from yesterday’s workout, you’ll easily pass on the cookies because cause you don’t need them. Does the taste of food trump your hard work? No.

It’s all connected and the thing you can never lose sight of is your goal. Inspiration, motivation and willpower are some pretty important tools to help you get there. Don’t ignore the tiny voices in your head urging you to greatness – those burning muscles and tight abs did not happen for nothing and the question you need to ask yourself is if the pizza is worth negating all that work.

The answer is no. Use your inspiration and motivation, whatever they are, as your source of willpower and allow them to motivate you to say no – an act that moves you closer to the finish line.

Photo: Australian Paralympic Committee/Australian Sports Commission

Good Habits Lead to Results

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Ah, the lovely song of the alarm clock gently waking you… Okay, maybe not. Maybe it’s more like, the alarm is going off already? It’s a jolt and most often for me, an unwelcome one. But there it is, every morning. I always set my alarm early enough to work out regardless of when I need to wake up. Crazy? Maybe, maybe not. If it goes off fairly regularly, it turns into a routine and routines can be good things.

I’m a sucker for routine. I have a high tolerance for repetition and I love getting into a grove.

Exercise in the morning sets the tone for the rest of my day. When I get that early workout in, I feel as though I have a reason to make healthy choices for the rest of the day. Before the day gets started, I’ve already done something good for my body and that will help me stay on track (sometimes!). I’m far more likely to make healthy eating choices because I don’t want to blow those calories I burned earlier. The two actions go together. I cannot stress how important this is to me. Like I said, I’ve done it this way for years. It’s a good habit that helps me stay where I want to be.

I should add I’m not one that loves to exercise. That is, I don’t wake up just dying to do it. I make myself do it because I know I won’t regret working out and always regret not working out. I’ve done it long enough and I know myself well enough to know that getting up to work out before anything else works for me.

You may be thinking you’re not a morning person. To be honest, sometimes I don’t feel like a morning person because it takes me a long time to get around and finally get moving. For me, however, exercise far more likely to happen in the morning than it is in the afternoon. That’s my groove.

The key to success is finding your groove. You hear people say this all the time but you really have to make an effort. You may have to exercise before work for a few weeks and begin seeing results before you decide that it can work for you. That’s exactly how it happened for me. Once my body got used to the routine, it wasn’t such a mental battle to get up and get moving. But if the morning is out of the question, find that time of day where you can make that time for yourself and do it long enough to create a good habit. That means stick with it long enough to see results because once you see that trim tummy, you’re going to realize the power is yours. It always has been. That’s an awesome feeling!

What are some of your good habits?

 

 

Alarm Clock photo credit: Derek Jensen

The Surprise of Success

Success looks different to everyone. Our goals, in many ways, define us and they are as unique as we are. Success comes in many shapes and sizes because goals differ and this is an awesome thing. You should celebrate your successes, however small, because they provide inspiration. Short-term goals are magic. Set them, reach them and be inspired to do more. You have to believe in yourself enough to keep going because those around you won’t always get it. Your success is an intensely personal thing (especially if it’s related to changing your body) and it’s up to you to reach for it. No one will be as disappointed as you are if you don’t achieve success, so get with it. You can do it and two keys that make the journey easier are effort and concentration.

Success comes from above-average attempts.

Set a goal and then try to do a little bit more every day toward that goal. I don’t care what your goal is. Let’s face it, average is average. Whether it’s doing 50 sit ups, 60 minutes of cardio or writing 300 words a day, you should push yourself to do a little more than you did the day before. If you managed three sets of 10 sit ups one day, aim for three sets of 11 the next. One day, you’ll realize you’re doing more than average and you’ll be closer to your goal, which puts you that much closer to your trim tummy.

Success comes with focus.

I once read that you don’t get what you want, you get what you focus on. No matter what your goal, you’re going to need to make sacrifices. Period. If your goal is worth sacrifices, make them. Make that goal top priority. Don’t get distracted or you’ll fall into the average and mediocre camp because you’ve lost your focus. Do what it takes to be successful and stay on track. If it means staying away from the Internet for a few hours, do it. If that means waking up an hour earlier than usual to workout, do it. It won’t be difficult all the time and it will get easier the more you do it. However, to reach this point you must commit and follow through and that comes with a never-ending focus.

Your attempts and your focus propel you to the next step.

You’re on a journey. To reach success, you have to stick with it (whatever it is) long enough to see results. Sometimes, this isn’t easy. If you’re on a fat loss journey, sticking with it is one of the most difficult things in the world. However, time gives you the opportunity to improve and, with improvement, you can do more and become more focused. Nothing inspires like success and every attempt is a step in the right direction.

Savor every successful moment, regardless of how small it may seem. Your attempts may seem modest in the beginning, but every effort builds your muscle, strength and endurance. You’ll find with more focus, you’ll become more in tune with your body and mind and each effort will be its own reward. The small victories will fuel your desire to succeed and do more.

My Favorite Ab Exercises

This site is all about giving yourself your own tummy tuck and one might guess that ab exercises fall into the mix somewhere. Ab exercises do work, after you’ve burned the fat off your middle.

I really like plank exercises. I’d never done a plank until I did Jillian’s 30-Day-Shred and it was then that I began to feel solid in my core. I liked that feeling, so planks quickly became one of my favorites. There are dozens of variations of planks and you should try a few to find out which ones you might actually look forward to doing. Up-down planks, planks with alternating arm and leg lifts, walking planks, plank twists and side planks are some of the best exercises to build a stronger core and a solid foundation for killer abs.

As far as basic ab exercises go, I feel my abs get tighter with standard sit ups and bicycle crunches.

Do you have any favorites? Feel free to share them!

My Plan of Action

I’ve been asked before what I did to get the results I did and, in a nutshell, it was mainly a combination of exercising and eating right. That’s right, nothing new here, folks.

I remember reaching a plateau and wanting to try something different. My routine for months had been riding a stationary bicycle for about an hour a day. My exercise was always some form of cardio and I always felt satisfied when I did between 55 and 60 minutes. I used a heart rate monitor and always tried to keep my heart rate around 80 to 85 percent.

To break the plateau, I decided to give Jillian’s 30-Day-Shred a try. I remember not having a lot of confidence in that video simply because the workout was only 27 minutes long. However, after the first day, I knew it was going to be tough. The big change with that workout was the floor work. I was accustomed to exercising on my feet or on my butt. The getting up and down for push ups, crunches and planks was something I wasn’t used to so it was tough.

I also did the workout for more than 30 days. I did not move to level two until I felt like I was good at level one and didn’t move on to level three until I felt like I sort of conquered level two. Overall, I did the workout for about four months.

I kept my daily caloric intake around 1200. This was also over quite a few months and I did allow myself days where I would eat more. Maybe once a month I would eat pizza or drink wine.

It was tough in the beginning but after I began to see results, it became easier. I suddenly wanted to see more and that desire for success was the fuel to keep going.

I think the hardest part of anything kind of journey like this is the waiting for results. It’s tough when you feel like you’re working so hard and aren’t seeing any change. But I can tell you with confidence that if you stick with it, you will see results.

I remember Jillian saying you’ve got to trust the process and it’s true. You do. And when you do, you will see results and that leads to success.

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