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Finding Your Gym Motivation

One of the biggest questions I receive almost daily is how I stay motivated to go to the gym. The answer is fairly simple although not always the one that people hope to hear, sometimes I need to force myself. I like every single person in the world lacks motivation to stay healthy every once and awhile. I have a big weekend or exhausted from work and the last thing I may want to do is go to the gym, but no matter what I make sure to work out my body 6 days a week in some way or another. I promise you some days that is a very limited amount but even then I feel so much better after. Here are a few of my tricks to getting to the gym even when you really don’t want to.

  • Set yourself a goal. As a personal trainer I ask all of my clients what their next goal is. Of course some are exterior like getting ready for summer or a wedding, but many are much more individualized. I have one woman who wanted to pick up her bag of 40 lb bird feed, after she accomplished this it was turning on her lawn mower. No matter how big or small I really recommend coming up with some kind of goal for yourself to work towards. Setting specific milestones helps you work towards something as well as realizing your progress over time which is often difficult to see.
  • Find your own motivation. I think this one is really important. Similar to setting a goal you need to find your motivation for going to the gym every week. This should be made for yourself. If you feel forced into working out by a friend or boyfriend, ask yourself truly why do I want to do this. Maybe it is to live a long healthy life or look better in a bikini. For me it is so many things but over anything else it is keeping me happy and keeping my anxiety at bay. When I work out I am happier, more confident and less stressed than I could ever be without it.
  • Figure out the best time for you. Everyone is different in terms of when they like to get moving and finding your best time frame is essential to the process. I am 100% a morning person if I wait until even the afternoon I know my motivation goes down substantially. Even when I work at 6 A.M. I would rather wake up early than go after work to the gym. Because I know this about myself I do not set unrealistic goals. If I work out later in the day that’s great but I know my strongest, most intense work outs are first thing in the morning so that is when I schedule almost all of the sessions.
  • Buddy up. Find someone who is on a similar path to yourself and hold each other accountable. If you know every week at 1 P.M. on Tuesday the two of you work out together you will be a lot less likely to skip the gym that day. Accountability is key! Also a slight bit of competitiveness can be beneficial too. If your workout partner is seeing progress you will be motivated to see some too and it can be really inspiring to your overall health to have someone to talk to about new exercises, recipes you’re trying out and that new meditation practice you have picked up.
  • Make it a habit. I have talked about this point before, but it is so important to mention again. Working out is something that needs to become part of your schedule. If you plan to work out 3 days a week, put them into your calendar just as you would a work meeting. Once you get into the habit of it you will crave the feeling and want to keep it up. When I don’t work out for a few days I miss the endorphin rush and the calm that it gives my mind. It may take a little bit of time to get the point of actually craving the soreness, but trust me it will happen. Once you give your body movement it will constantly crave it. Schedule your sessions, create workouts beforehand and pack your clothes the night before, allow yourself no excuses to get your butt to the gym!
  • Lastly go easy on yourself. You are not always going to be head over heals excited to get your butt kicked at the gym and that is OK! Motivation ebbs and flows and I always try to listen to my body and what it is telling me. Things happen, life gets busy and some weeks are just hard, take it easy on yourself and truly listen. Why is my body so tired and what is it trying to tell me? When the energy levels are particularly low I still make myself go to the gym even when it is hard. If I get there and begin stretching and feel like this is all I need for the day I will stay there for 20 minutes only foam rolling and doing small yoga flows. Other days the motivation starts low but once I get moving my energy levels instantly perk up. Some of my hardest workouts have come from days where I had absolutely no motivation to start. My advice is do something, even stretching, to spend time moving your body. Especially if you have a desk job where you sit for 8 hours a day, your body is craving movement even if your mind is tired. Go and do what you can, a walk on the treadmill while watching your favorite show or a 15 minute circuit will have you feeling better in no time. But over anything know when to take a break. If you get there and your body truly is just exhausted take a break for a few days. Listen and love your body for all that it does for you.

Working out does not have to be something you dread every week. Make it fun for yourself, try new classes and find what speaks to you. Getting stuck in the same routine every day can lead to failure to commit. Experiment with different times of day and different styles of exercise. I love to change up my routine every day and switch off between high intensity work, strength training, yoga and running. I feel it gives my body the best work out and I am always excited for something new. I would love to continue to expand on personal training and help you find what works best for you! For workout plans, motivation and health and wellness tips and tricks contact me, I cannot wait to help you experience the happiest, healthiest you!

My Week in Workouts

As a personal trainer I get a lot of questions about what an average week of workouts looks like for me. To be honest I don’t stick to a specific plan every week, but instead listen to my body. I strive to get an array of different workouts in every week rather than sticking to just cardio or weight lifting. I have always been a runner but I used to rely solely on running to fulfil all of my fitness needs. While it is still probably my favorite exercise for relieving stress and boosting my mood, I quickly realized that in order to achieve overall health I needed more than just running. I incorporated weights into my routine in my early 20’s, but I like so many other women would lift very light in order to not “bulk up”. And although there was definitely not much bulking happening there was also very little muscle growth either. As I have gotten older all of that has changed. Now I cannot wait to go up in weight and lifting heavy at low reps a few times a week has gotten me into my best shape. So what does a typical week look like for me? I try to workout 5-6 every week. I know this is totally unrealistic for many people and that is okay! I work out so much because like I said it helps with my mood, anxiety and stress levels. I truly crave exercise after a day off, but I know I am a bit of a freak. Honestly though you definitely don’t need to go to the gym every day but I truly recommend moving your body every single day. This is your temple after all. If you work at an office job 8 hours every day your body needs movement. Taking a quick walk or bike ride will not only help your body but also boost your energy levels for those long days. It is usually the days I don’t want to work out that I need it the most.

Monday: Monday’s usually are my day off. If you are crazy busy over the weekends I recommend not taking off Monday. For most it is a perfect way to jump start your week and get you in the right head space for the week ahead. For me I tend to train really hard on the weekends so by Monday I am ready for a day off.

Tuesday: By Tuesday I am ready to jump back in. I work at 6 am on Tuesday so when I get off I am pretty exhausted. I always bring my clothes with me to head right to the gym when I get off. When I am tired it is easier to motivate myself to lift than to do cardio, so Tuesday’s I tend to do 5×5 workouts. This would be 5 sets of a movement for only 5 reps each. For these I go heavier in weight so by the end of the 5 reps I am ready to be done. I always do functional movements so many parts of my body are working at once. These workouts should really burn out the muscle group you are working by the end of the 5 sets.

Wednesday: I work in the afternoon Wednesday so I head to the gym first thing in the morning which is my favorite time to work out. On Wednesday I have a bit more time and energy so I will do a bit more difficult of a workout. Usually these are comprised of a quick interval run or rowing machine intervals to start out. These get my heart rate up quickly while also helping my cardiovascular system. I love doing intervals because these short bursts of energy absolutely smash calorie burn and show a big difference in my body. After my cardio I will do more functional movements. This could be something like thrusters, cleans or lateral lunges with weight. I tend to do 2-3 movements of each my arms, legs and core for usually about 4 sets of 10 repetitions. Kicks my butt every time.

Thursday: It depends how I am feeling at this point, but on Thursday I love to do a mix of cardio and strength training. I usually choose a workout I am teaching for the week and set it up for myself. This will often be something like 10 moves for a certain time frame. Sometimes it will be 3 sets of 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest and others it will be tabata style of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest. All of these movements combine both cardio and strength training. Moves could be TRX pull ups or push ups, squat jumps, airdyne, or slider pike ups with a push up. You can easily create your own movements and pattern for this with a similar set up. By setting the timer I hold myself accountable to continue to work even when I’m tired. After these I am quite literally dripping with sweat.

Friday: Friday’s tend to be a bit of a chiller day. By this time I am usually pretty spent so I choose a long run to break down acid build up and get my body moving. While they usually start off fairly slow and painful by the end I feel great and so much less sore. I try to do 4 miles and up on these days, I take it a bit slower especially at the beginning and try to just cruise and have some me time. This is probably my favorite day of the week. And then of course like all days, stretching afterwards.

Saturday: I work every other Saturday in the morning so after I am finished personal training I usually have a lot of motivation to push myself a bit. I stay after at the gym for an hour or so and very much do an instinctual workout. This could be moves we have worked on that day or a certain part of my body I feel I haven’t worked as much that week. I love adding jumps, battle ropes, burpees and kettlebell swings to the end of my workout to get my heart rate pumping. When I do these workouts I usually end up working out a lot harder than I expect to. I pick two movements and will do them back to back for 3 or 4 sets and then switch to a new body part. It is very much on the fly, but because I have a lot of movements in my memory I can easily do an hour long workout getting to every single part of my body.

Sunday: Sunday’s can be a little bit of everything. When it is nice outside my favorite thing to do would be to go for a long hike. This can be something challenging or easier. As the weather warms up I also look forward to swimming or kayaking these days. If it is not nice out and I am feeling a bit lazier I will put on a kickboxing video or something from Youtube. To be honest that is my go to any day I feel too lazy to go all the way to the gym. There are so many amazing videos on Youtube and I don’t have to leave my house to get a sweat in. Now that it is summertime though I will definitely be spending my Sunday’s outside!

As you can see my workouts change immensely through the week. This is not on accident. Changing up your routine not only helps to keep you in your best shape, it also helps to not get bored. I do my workouts based on the way I feel that day. No matter what I will usually work out 5-6 times a week but sometimes that means just a gentle yoga flow. I encourage not giving yourself too many days off and sticking to a plan especially when starting out until it becomes a habit. Working out is incredible for so many reasons and I believe every person should make it a priority. Put it into your schedule just as you would a work meeting, because I promise you it’s just as important.

You will see that I also don’t talk about a particular day dedicated to arms, back or legs. This is my personal preference and is different for everyone. I love to work compound movements that work many parts of the body at once, by doing this I think I get my best workout and feel my strongest. Experiment with different styles when you are starting out! See what works best for you and stick with it. Also you may notice I didn’t talk too much about stretching, while you may not see it mentioned, I still do it Every. Single. Day. I foam roll before and after every sessions as well as doing yoga and gentle flows throughout the week. This is SO important. I cannot stress this enough, take time to stretch, your body will thank you!

As with all of my posts I would love to talk more about this with you! If you are looking for a specific plan to work with or having difficulties sticking to a routine contact me and let’s set up an appointment to work together in finding your happiest, healthiest you! All of the love my friends!

Treating the Silent Killer

“All disease begins in the gut”

-Hippocrates

Gut issues impact so many of us. It is not pretty or glamorous so many people don’t talk about it and thus not facing the huge problem we have in front of us. For so many million people living in pain and discomfort out there, you are not alone. Not only can gut issues cause problems with digestion, bloating and discomfort, there is also a slew of other disorders that stem from bad gut health. It is crazy to think something as small as our gut flora is effecting our entire body both inside and out, but it couldn’t be more true.

First of all a bit about what exactly our gut flora is. Our gut microbiota is made up of tens of trillions microorganisms of over 100 different species. This gut microbiome has a wide range of uses but on the most basic level the gut flora found in our digestive tract helps us to digest the food we eat. Unfortunately though not all of our gut flora is good, every person also contains many bad gut microbiota within them as well. More and more research is being introduced showing the true possibilities of an unhealthy gut on our overall health and the results are something we should all be paying attention to.

It is easy to see whether or not your stomach is bloated or uncomfortable, but your body also has so many other ways it is possibly telling you that your gut is unhealthy if we know how to listen to it. Before anything else it is important to know a little bit about leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut is a broad term used to describe a permeability of the small intestine. This means that there is a “leaking” within the small intestine walls which allows food particles, toxins and bacteria to permeate through. Obviously this can cause a lot of issues within your gut and throughout your entire body. Fortunately though our bodies give us so many signs of this distress if we simply listen to it. Below are a few of the most common.

  • Sugar cravings can often be a sign of bad bacteria in the gut. Bad bacteria eat sugar, so the more you consume it the more you are feeding this beast already inside of you. Unfortunately this also means carbs, as your body treats carbs as a sugar source. While loving carbs does not mean you necessarily have leaky gut, it can mean that if you have many of the issues below you could be feeding the bad bacteria already inside you. Carbohydrates are an integral part of our diet and I believe that people should include them into their diet especially when exercising, but keep in mind how much you are eating and greatly reducing the amount of sugar you consume could help your gut immensely.
  • Mental health issues. I know this isn’t a disorder that you would necessarily connect to your gut, but in truth your gut has everything to do with what is happening in your brain! If you have depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, OCD and even things such as alzheimers and autism there is a good chance that your gut bacteria has a lot to do with it! I will talk more about this in blogs to come because this specific topic is so near and dear to my heart but I urge you to really focus on gut health and rejuvenation if you suffer from any of theses. Scientists have found that about 90% of your serotonin is created in your gut along with many other neurotransmitters! It is no wonder that disturbances to the gut health will cause mental health issues!
  • Most commonly people will notice an imbalanced gut flora due to digestive issues alone. This is a great starting point and if you are having digestive distress then listen! This is often not the first sign our body sends us, but it is often a powerful one! Listen to it and begin treating naturally immediately!
  • If you have taken a lot of antibiotics throughout your life there is a good chance a lot of damage can be seen on the gut flora. I understand the need for antibiotics but it can greatly harm your digestive tract. If this is the case for you, email me and I would love to talk about some healing options for you going forward.
  • Acne, eczema and rosacea are all signs that your body is out of whack as well. Your skin is the largest organ on your body, and if there are signs that it is hurting or unhealthy it is often a big clue that your insides are feeling the same. Study after study has shown that skin issues are directly correlated with leaky gut syndrome. Inflammation and stress within the digestive tract quickly shows its signs on the surface of your skin, so again please listen!
  • Food allergies or intolerances are quite commonplace for people with gut issues. For me this was the sign I most held onto. My entire life I have had food that upset my stomach. I also had headaches as a kid that were so severe I had to have brain scans and CAT scans because they were convinced I had a brain tumour. It was a really difficult time in life. That is until I went to see a natural medicine practitioner who after many tests realized I had an inflamed small intestine. She took me off gluten and dairy (which I had already been off since birth because of allergies) and quickly my headaches reduced ten fold. This was before the age of gluten free life and before most people knew what the word gluten even was. It changed my life dramatically, not only in feeling better but also realizing how integral this type of medicine was. It is the reason I believe so whole heartedly in natural medicine today. I have had a few of these experiences in my life where a natural medicine practitioner was able to find problems. Allergies can come in all shapes and sizes, but most of the time it is our bodies telling us important messages about what is happening inside.

The incredible part is that this list could go on and on! There are so many other signs that our body sends us to inform us of this distress, but most importantly we need to be listening. If you are tired of this discomfort, whether it be in the form of acne, gas, depression, losing hair or even springtime allergies I urge you to contact me! I can help to get you on the right track, finally feeling like the happiest, healthiest you. This is not something you simply have to live with, because with the right meal plan and changes to your environment all of this could change! I have gone through so many of these symptoms myself and I know what it feels like to be sick and tired of it. That is why I am so dedicated to helping people through gut issues and on your way to living your best life. If you or someone you know struggle with any of these symptoms, please contact me right away!

Alleviating Pain From the Inside Out

“Look well to the spine for the cause of disease”

-Hippocrates

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to see the healing powers of holistic medicine first hand, both on myself and people close to me. When I was in high school I had bad lower back and knee pain when running and saw a physical therapist who helped me feel leaps and bounds better than better, I worked in a chiropractic/acupuncture/homeopathic clinic, I became a health coach and now I work as a personal trainer. The results I have seen from people in every aspect of their lives is absolutely incredible and truly the factor that has pushed me into continually coming back to holistic health. Later I want to discuss more the benefits of diet on your overall health, but today it’s all about the physical body and helping you finally get rid of your pain.

Over 80% of the adult population will suffer from lower back pain at some time in their life. This phenomenon not only has caused grave discomfort for so many individuals, it also has skyrocketed our spending. It is estimated that the United States spends around $100 billion on lower back pain alone. Yikes is right. So what are the possible solutions to this problem? For many people this pain can be disabling so much so that they are unable to work, walk properly and spend time with loved ones. Going to the doctor for this problem is obviously one solution. With so many other people going through similar discomfort it is a common sight these doctors see. Unfortunately many of the solutions are fairly limited in the doctor’s office. Pain and muscle relaxers will be written up, steroids are often given and even an epidural if the pain is bad enough. For me this route is a last ditch resource, but fortunately for you there are so many other beautiful possibilities to help alleviate some of that pain before the fact.

My first tip to you would be to go see a physical therapist. They have gone to school for 7 years to work in this field and they can do wonders in helping the human body. Lower back pain, knee pain, shoulders, fingers and joints they have seen it all. I believe they are the best resource to try if you are experiencing pain in the body. They will be able to fully examine the body, understanding all of the movements that work with one another and why that knee injury 10 years ago may be causing your neck and back pain today. Working with a physical therapist you will be worked both inside and outside the clinic. Often you will be shown small controlled movements that will strengthen and isolate the issue you are dealing with. Learning how to stretch and properly walk and move your body will all be in the cards during your visit.

Another amazing option I have seen is chiropractic care. I must admit when I was young I honestly did not believe in the healing powers of chiropractic work. I was like so, so many others out there that was slightly terrified of this experience. And my one tip to you is the same I give with all health practices is to find the right person. Just as you would research the restaurant you are going to, research your doctor, physical therapist and chiropractic practitioner. While working at chiro clinic I witnessed people go through life altering changes. I cannot tell you how many people I would talk to on their first visit in so much pain they could hardly walk or run or sleep to their 8th visit moving their body around freely, sleeping well and playing with their kids again. Working at this clinic truly changed my life, it made me want to make a difference in people’s lives because the experiences I saw there brought me to tears nearly every day. I saw clients with such a wide range of ailments keeping their pain at bay, everything from pregnancy pain, migraines, TMJ, lower back pain, baby’s with colic, hip mobility and the list could go on and on. I cannot urge you enough to try chiropractic if you haven’t yet, even as a way of managing feeling good. It aligns your spine, makes you feel longer, prevents injury and literally makes you feel like a million bucks. Find the right person to do the work, but when you do your life will be changed forever.

After my time working at this clinic I have now found myself as a personal trainer and what an eye opening and beautiful experience that is. I am able to help people through pain, inflexibility and the task of getting stronger. I work with an incredibly vast group of clients. Many are young wanting to gain strength, lose weight and feel their best, while so many others are older or injured individuals who are looking to regain their mobility, prevent injuries in the future and rebuild their stability. It has been so powerful to witness people overcoming their hurdles. The right personal trainer will be able to assist you in rebuilding your confidence and strength. While I would choose to go to a physical therapist if you are in pain, they can also help you to build strength throughout the body to help alleviate some of the issues you may have in the lower back or knees. A lot of the problems come simply from our body’s alignment. I urge you to try these services especially if you are in pain working out or having troubles getting motivated. Finding the perfect personal trainer will promote self love, self care and feeling strong and healthy af!

There are so many other options to try if you are tired of taking endless pills to numb the pain in your body. I personally have seen amazing results from acupuncture and massage therapy, there are countless possibilities out there for you to try and I urge you to do your own research and find what works best for you. A huge obstacle I have heard from many people comes down to money. Often insurance will not pay for holistic medicine practices, and while this alone breaks my heart I really ask you to still give it a try if you can. Your body is worth the money and if you don’t spend it now on yourself it is likely you will spend it later. Masking the pain is doing little to help the root of the problem. What is happening internally is so important as we get older. If you can, pay a little extra for yourself. You deserve the absolute best and to treat yourself to a lifetime of the happiest, healthiest you.

Listening & Understanding Your Symptoms

“The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease”

-Voltaire-

This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart and in the upcoming weeks I am going to dive much deeper into this discussion but for now just a brief overview. As a society we have been somewhat told to overlook our symptoms. When we get hurt, feel ill or have things such as depression, we are often given things to mask these feelings. Your back hurts: here’s some pain medicine, your depressed and anxious: here’s an antidepressant, your digestion is off: there is definitely a pill for that. And while I do believe there is a time and place for conventional medicine, especially in mood disorders, I believe they are VASTLY overused.

According to the CDC, 48.9% of people have used at least one prescription drug in the last 30 days, and on average most Americans take about four prescription drugs per day. While many of these drugs are helping people live, many more of them are not. The possible adverse side effects are extensive for these types of drugs. Per year over 1 million people go to the hospital due to the adverse side effects of prescription drugs. Not only are they possibly dangerous, but also extremely expensive. New reports show that the U.S. prescription drug spending is looking to reach as high as $610 BILLION DOLLARS by 2021. If that doesn’t shock you, I don’t know what will. Those numbers are not just high they are catastrophic. Everything about this really alarms me and that is why I am urging you to really try to minimize the amount that you take, by doing something very simple: listening.

The most important thing I can say in this discussion is to begin focusing and listening to your symptoms and your body. I will go into more detail on this in the upcoming weeks, but listening to your body is crucial to optimal health and reducing the amount of medicine you take every day. We sit down for a minute with a doctor and are sent away with a sheet of multiple drugs we are supposed to take. By having only a minute discussion about what ails you we are no longer looking at the body as one complete entity anymore. Our bodies are not simply a collection of parts but rather one beautiful masterpiece all working together to help you live! Without one of your organs you would not function properly, and if one part of your body is out of whack, say your gut or knee, the rest of your body is not going to function to its optimal level. This is all part of the idea of functional medicine, which is something I live and die by. To me there is no other way to consider the way that our bodies run and thrive. If one piece of the puzzle is missing the rest of the body has to work extremely hard to adjust leaving pain or ailments because of our misalignments. Listening to our symptoms will truly help us to understand these connections. I work with people all of the time that will tell me things such as having chronic lower back pain and after adjusting their alignment in their lunge they tell me they cannot fully do one because of a skiing accident 20 years ago. Think these two things are connected? Without a doubt. I will continue going deeper into these topics, but in the mean time if you have something bothering you right now I strongly urge you to sit with your body and listen. Stomach pain? What did you eat? Headache? How much water have you drank? Again, what did you eat? Simply listening, accepting and understanding these feelings can help to greatly decrease your time spent in the doctor and taking more pills than necessary.

All of these ailments being discussed are vastly different I understand, but they all come down to one thing: your body is trying to tell you something. Whether or not it can be treated without prescription is varied based on the situation, but I think one thing is for sure, we should at least aid ourselves with proper nutrition and exercise as a compliment to these prescriptions. Listen to and trust your body and all of the messages it is trying to tell you. We must learn not to mask our problems with pills but instead listen and try to mend our bodies from the inside out. There are so many small changes we can do to promote overall health and wellbeing that will minimize or eliminate so many of these problems without even trying. As you can tell this is a topic I am extremely passionate about and I cannot wait to tell you more in the upcoming months! Stay tuned my friends!!

Magical Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a miracle drug. The possibilities for its uses are endless and literally I can’t stop singing from the hilltops about it. Yet some people are still not on the bandwagon and I am going to convince you on why you should run out to buy yourself a jar right now!

One of my favorite uses for this deliciousness is simply cooking with it. If you aren’t already I urge you to stop using olive oil when cooking. Every cooking fat has a different smoking point. Which basically means that it is the temperature where the oil will actually begin to smoke at if left unattended. Not only does this smoking point cause a bad smell and taste, it also releases carcinogens when it has reached this point. Olive oil has a low smoking point and thus why it is intended for use as a finishing touch or on salads. Other oils often seen for cooking can have even worse effects. Canola oil is an oil that I cannot tell you enough to STOP USING. 90% of the time canola oil is genetically modified. It has high levels of erucic acid which has been proven to cause heart diseases and high blood pressure. The list could go on and on, but here I am talking instead of why you should switch that oil out for a much healthier, safer coconut oil. Coconut oil on the other hand has a smoking point of 450 degrees. Also its levels of medium chain triglycerides helps to lessen the risk of disease within the liver, kidney and gall bladder. Switch out your other cooking oil pronto! Using coconut oil will help keep you healthy and veer away from disease.

Coconut oil is great for so many other things outside of the kitchen though, and once you discover them it will be hard to put it down. Some of my favorite uses are definitely skin, hair and body care.

I use it in place of lotion all over my body. It leaves my skin moisturized and nourished without the unnatural ingredients of lotion and without the oily feel. On my face is probably where I use it most though. I use it every night as a brightener and moisturizer, but I also do frequent face masks with it as well. Some of my favorite combinations are with baking soda, sugar or coffee as a exfoliant that makes my skin feel incredibly smooth and reduces redness and blemishes. Or I often add lemon to my nightly moisturizer as I find it helps to brighten and clean my skin. If I need a little more on a particular day I will often do a combination of these ingredients, and honestly it feels better than nearly any face mask I’ve ever done.

Not only is coconut oil a miracle worker on your skin, it also helps my hair look the best is ever has. Since I was a kid I have always had issues throughout the winter of dandruff and an incredibly dry scalp. A few years ago I minimized my hair washing to every 3-4 days and the results were astonishing. My hair got greasy way less often, it had volume, less dandruff and saving money from less waste. Although my dry scalp got better it in no way healed completely. Finally I was fed up with it and tried doing oil training. This is when you leave coconut oil or another oil in your hair preferably for 12+ hours the night before washing it.

To do: simply warm coconut oil in your hands until it reaches liquid form and rub into your scalp/hair. If you have greasy or thin hair you may want to focus only on the ends, but if you have a dry scalp like me really get into your driest areas. Put your hair in a bun and forget about it. After it has been in for a few hours or more wash your hair with a fair amount of shampoo. I try to do this once a week. Not only does my dandruff go away my hair feels silky and smooth for the week to come.

One of the last things I urge you to try with the coconut oil sitting on your shelf is oil pulling. Oil pulling (done with sesame, coconut or olive oil) is an Ayurvedic practice that has HUGE benefits. It detoxifies your entire body starting in your mouth. In Ayurvedic Medicine it is thought that each section of your tongue is connected to different organs. When you detoxify and clean mouth you are actually cleaning your entire body and ridding yourself of toxins. Not only does it help to detoxify your organs it also helps internally within your mouth. It kills bad breath, whitens teeth, prevents cavities, promotes gum health, boosts the immune system. This works because our mouths begin to form plaque around our teeth which cause a whole host of health problems in your mouth and even into our heart health. As you swish the oil around in your mouth, the bacteria and plaque gets stuck to and dissolves in the liquid. The more you do it the more plaque and bacteria you will remove.

It is simple, give this a try: First thing in the morning, before eating put a tablespoon of oil, I prefer coconut, into your mouth and let it dissolve. If this makes you cringe a bit, warm it first to get it into liquid form. Then swish it around your mouth for 15-20 minutes. At the beginning I started small, even 5-10 minutes will help substantially and then build up to go longer. Do it in the shower or while reading to help you not focus on the time. After the time is up spit it into the trash. Not the drain! Coconut oil hardens when cold so this will harden in your pipes which is not pretty. Also make sure to spit it out and not swallow this. It has all of your bacteria and toxins within it and this stuff belongs in the trash. Super simple and unbelievably effective. I am quite obsessed with oil pulling and have seen amazing results in this practice.

As you can tell I am quite obsessed with coconut oil. If you are not already, please buy a jar! Try to find unrefined and organic for best most natural results. Let me know how your experience using it goes and if you have any questions. I’m sure you’ll quickly find you are just as in love as I am

Eat More to Lose Weight

“People who love to eat are always the best people”

-Julia Child

 

Many people out there are not eating enough to lose weight. Yes you read that correctly. Sometimes in order to lose weight you need to eat MORE. What a beautiful sentence that is. For women in particular restrictive eating is incredibly common. If you are doing it I promise you are not alone. I definitely used to limit my caloric intake and spend hours in the gym in order to achieve my dream look. Did it ever happen? No. I am more fit and thinner now than I ever was when I was counting calories and making myself crazy. Does this mean that if you are eating junk food and lots of it and still not losing weight the only solution is more junk food? Absolutely not. But eating more healthy, nutrient rich calories per day can help significantly in weight loss if you are currently under nourishing your body.

Eating helps to boost your metabolism, making weight loss possible. When you eat too little your body automatically goes into starvation mode, putting all of your food into fat supplies similar to a bear in hibernation. When in this starvation mode your brain begins slowing down your metabolism. Because your brain is worried where the next meal is coming from, it is going to slow everything down and store rather than allowing food to move through your body. Our bodies are freakin magical and SO much more intelligent than we give them credit for. If we starve them they become confused and try to help us survive. Stop hurting your body and allow it to do it’s job! A very important aspect of your metabolism is making sure it gets jump started first thing in the morning. Once your metabolism turns on it powers high for the rest of the day. If you are not a breakfast person I recommend fruit or toast. Even something small will help this process immensely.

One other huge issue I have touched on before is weight loss with exercise. Eating enough when exercise is CRUCIAL. Providing protein and carbs for your body when working out allows your body to grow muscle. If you do not provide enough food for yourself, rather than taking your energy from fat stores while working out it starts to attack your muscles and cause a decrease in lean muscle mass. Seemingly all of your hard work goes completely unseen. I know this is true because I have seen it for myself. I would eat very little post workout and see little if no results and still have stomach fat I wanted to get rid of. As soon as I started to boost my nutrient dense calories, voila! I lost weight and fat almost instantly.

So you’re saying that all I have to do is eat more and I will lose weight? Well yes and no. If you are in a caloric deficiency, yes eating more is going to help rev up your metabolism and if exercising gain muscle mass. Also as I have mentioned before, the more muscle mass you have the higher your caloric burn per day without doing a single thing. So once you get that muscle mass up, you can happily eat more calories and burn them off without doing a thing. If you are not in a caloric deficiency it depends where your calories are coming from. If you are eating crap, more crap is not going to help you lose weight. I strongly encourage you to start replacing and implementing more nutrient dense foods into your diet. This can be in the form of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, whole grains and protein. They will fill you up and keep you full like a bag of chips has never done before. Don’t worry you are still allowed to have chips or a cookie, just try to make them a side or treat after you’ve filled up on the good stuff. So yes, more food can definitely mean losing weight. I urge you to give it a try and tell me how it goes. I think you’ll be very surprised at the results. Happy eating my friends!

Why You Should Be Strength Training

You’ve hit a fitness plateau. You’re working out every day but still seeing slim results. This has happened to so many of us and let’s just say it can be BEYOND frustrating. You’re putting in the hours, where is the fat loss? This phenomenon is so much more common than you can imagine and often the cure is simple: switch up your routine. There are so many different ways to workout and often we find a routine that is comfortable and stick with it to a T and still expect to see something happen. The problem is your muscles get used to this movement and no longer have to work as hard to get to the finish line. For many women this can often happen in the way of sticking solely to cardio. And while cardio, i.e. running, biking, eliptical, does have benefits in weight loss, it doesn’t do much for our muscle mass which is how we are going to boost your metabolic burn for days to follow. I was a cardio dominant exerciser for years and although I never got fat I also didn’t see the results I wanted in toning up and decreasing belly fat. While cardiovascular work is incredibly important for oxygen and blood flow, helping fend off cardiovascular disease, add years to life and combat stress, there is huge support in incorporating strength training into your regime as well.

Here are just a few reasons you should add at least 2 strength training workouts to your routines:

  • Muscle definition is beautiful! I know many women in particular can be worried that strength training will bulk them up, but trust me it takes a lot of hard work for people to get to that point! If you are consistently adding strength training you will see definition and toning, and little bulking unless you are working hard for those results. While cardio will help you lose weight, lifting will help you get toned and tight all over!
  • Your metabolic basal rate is the calories that your body burns by simply existing. Since muscle takes more energy to maintain, the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn throughout your day by doing nothing. For every 3 pounds of muscles you have you burn an extra 120 calories per day by just sitting around! Sign me up!
  • Strength training burns calories long after the workout is finished. After your workout is done your metabolism is spiked 12 hours to a few days after your workout. The more intense the workout the longer the burn will last!
  • Functional training will help prevent injury. Many of the movements in strength training are ones that we use in our every day lives. They will help you to lift, squat and rotate without future injuries. It also helps to lengthen and strengthen tendons and ligaments, decreasing the impact of wear and tear we put on our bodies every day.
  • You still get the endorphin boost! Working out of any kind leads to less stress, anxiety, better sleep and lower risk of depression.
  • Workout anywhere. If I don’t have time to hit the gym, I make my own circuit at home and all I need is my weights. Using moves that work many body parts at once will get you even more bang for your buck! Try resistance moves, deadlifts and burpees to rev up your workout.
  • Protect your bone density. Any weight lifting or strengthening type workout will increase or maintain bone density, lessening the risk or fractures or breaks. This a huge benefit as we grow older!

The list could go on and on, but I think you get the point. I really can’t emphasize enough the benefits of adding a few sessions per week. Personally I love running. It is what got me into health and wellness in the first place and it is my sense of calm during a busy week. I will never give up running, but I have noticed a huge shift since beginning to regularly implement strength training into my routine. I am more fit, more energized, sleep like a champion, eat more and have more confidence. Get started today, I promise you won’t regret it.

Learning to Love the Winter

Growing up in the Midwest the coming of winter signaled a time when most activities came to a screeching stop. The excitement of playing in the snow ended quickly and for the most part we spent our days staring out the window waiting for spring to come. As an adult I have spent the past few years away from the Midwest, in winters that were rarely below freezing and I would still be outside in a sweatshirt (because as my mom has said 5 million times I never dress for the weather). This year we are back in the cold and I have to say it has been an adjustment. Madison has been COLD this year, but despite the single digit temps people are constantly outside keeping active. Even on the coldest of days it seems like everyone is walking to the store, biking, ice skating and fishing on the lake and running. I have to admit it truly has inspired me. Not only to get out and move my body but also to enjoy and embrace the winter months. Here are a few ways you can too, through a few simple hygge tips!

Hygge: The Danish concept for the cozy contentment and well-being of the simple things in life.

1.) Join a Book Club

To get into prime hygge mode, read books you have been meaning to get to this winter! Joining a book club will not only motivate you to knock some great reads off your list, it will also help you to socialize and meet new people.

2.) Have a Spa Day

Our skin and hair can often suffer in the winter months so it is the perfect opportunity to have an all out spa day. I love trying out homemade face and hair masks while watching some of my favorite TV shows. Having spa days always feel like a treat and a lot of the best DIY masks are products you already have at home.

3.) Move your Body

For me this has to be one of the most important ways to get myself happily through the winter. Our bodies crave movement especially when a lot of our time is spent inside. I love getting out to run if it is not too cold (put a scarf over your mouth to protect your lungs) and even doing small workouts inside has immensely helped me. If it is really cold out I recommend going to a hot yoga class, not only do you get to stretch out your cold, tight muscles you also get some sauna time! If you’re craving the outdoors, bundle up and go on a hike! Winter is one of my favorite times to hike. There are a lot less people out and you get to see the world in a different way, often frozen and snow covered.

4.) Eat Seasonal Produce

Winter is no excuse to stop eating vegetables, in fact some of the most warming produce come right in time for the winter. Some of my favorites are brussels sprouts, all your greens like cabbage and kale, persimmon, sweet potato, pomegranate, turnips, mandarin oranges. Eating just a few servings of produce a day will keep you balanced and ready for the day. Try fresh fruit salads and warming soups and roasts.

5.) Help Others in Need

If you are able-bodied, fed and sheltered during the winter you have it better than many people in your community. A small act of kindness in the winter can go a very long way. Volunteer at your local food shelter or donate canned items. This can be one of the most difficult times for homeless people during the year, and any small act of kindness can help tremendously. Shovel sidewalks and run errands for older neighbors. Simply going to the grocery store for someone can make the biggest difference for their week.

6.) Enjoy the Contentment!

Winter is a great time to get things done around the house, do crafts or simply have some alone time. Appreciate the extra time spent at home. This can be in the form of doing everything on your to do list or picking a great movie to watch with a loved one. Simply enjoy these quiet moments.

7.) Take Vitamin D

During the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere we are unable to take in the recommended dose of Vitamin D from the sun alone. Vitamin D is so crucial to our bodies! It helps our bodies absorb calcium and without it bone density drops and muscles weaken, it can also make people feel tired and foggy. Since our skin can’t take in the vitamins from the sun it is essential to get it elsewhere. It can be found in many foods such as wild caught salmon, mushrooms, milk, cheese and eggs. Aside from adding these into my diet I also take a high-quality Vitamin D supplement throughout the winter, which has helped a great deal with brain clarity and fatigue.

8.) Still Get Sun!

Even though you aren’t taking in the Vitamin D from the sun through the winter I still recommend getting some sunshine through your day! A small walk with a loved one or with music on is a simple activity that will boost your well-being and happiness. I find that fresh air helps my productivity and my overall mood.

9.) Spend Time with Loved Ones

Create new traditions whether that be a dinner with friends every week, a board game competition or a movie night. No matter what make sure to spend time with friends and family over the winter. I know it is often difficult to get out and socialize during the winter, but it is SO important for you. Just a cup of coffee with a friend will make you feel better for days to come.

10.) Treat your Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression affects about 20% of people and women are four times more likely to experience SAD than men are, so if you are experiencing signs of it, don’t feel alone! If you feel yourself getting in a rut over the winter months make time to spend on the tips above. Not getting enough Vitamin D can cause signs of SAD so I would first look at boosting these levels. It is so important to spend time with loved ones, EAT HEALTHY, and take time for self love during this time.

Winter can be a tough time for so many people. The motivation is low, the excuses are high but doing a few small things a day can dramatically increase your happiness and health! Learn to love the winter and of course, hygge.

Intention Setting

We are officially over a week into 2018 and I am not sure about anyone else but for me this year has had this incredible energy about it. Of course all new years do, but something about 2018 just feels so powerful. I feel more determined, more focused and more motivated to get shit done than I have in recent years. If you’re not feeling it yet, don’t worry! It comes and goes for all people and not feeling it doesn’t mean this year is going to be a disaster! I think one of the most important things I have discovered to help myself achieve and prosper is setting intentions. I used to always be scared to make goals. I would rarely make goals because there was something about the act of making goals that felt so final. It was that my mind was made up and if I didn’t reach the goal I would feel like a complete failure. It didn’t help that many of my goals were way too lofty so falling short was fairly certain.

In the past few months I have shifted my entire thinking when it comes to goal setting. As my perfectionism towards myself has greatly decreased over the years, so has the thought that every goal must be met with complete grace and poise. Finally I have realized this is completely unrealistic. Instead I have changed my way of thinking to have broader ideas and intentions for myself. It helps that I no longer get upset when I don’t meet these intentions either, rather I ask myself why? Is it because my desires have changed? Am I too busy or overwhelmed at this point? Or am I simply not allowing enough time for self and the things that I want? Whatever the reason I have learned to understand the motives behind not meeting the intention and go forward by either shifting my intention to meet my new needs or take a second to re-center and spend more time meeting these needs. Intention setting is SO powerful. It helps me to stay focused and in tune with my bodies’ needs. While I realize how useful and energizing intention setting is please, please, please try not to beat yourself up for not meeting these or not eating perfectly all the time Life is busy and you could do a lot worse than eating fast food in a moment of weakness. Forgive yourself always and start up again tomorrow. Setting intentions allows you to have a guideline and a point of reference for most days. Strive to do the best you can and add some self love like a massage or baths onto that list! Intentions should be fun, manageable and promote ALL of your bodies’ needs.