Put down the guilt and pick up happiness

This is a great time of year to focus on YOU.  Many people want to change their lifestyle, but don’t know where to begin.  The only place to truly begin is noticing yourself and your habits.  A great way to keep track is to write down when you want to indulge and when you feel good.  Notice the time of day and any events during the day that triggered different emotions.

Tune into your body and notice how it feels when you are moving or sitting.  Are you hunching your shoulders towards your ears?  Do you sit up tall or slouch?  Try sitting up tall with your tummy engaged and your shoulders relaxed and see how you feel.  Check in a few times a day and notice how you are sitting and how you feel.

How do you feel after different meals?  Do you feel sluggish or energized?  Begin with drinking 4-8 glasses of water a day.  Perhaps, you will feel more energized and less sluggish.  Mix in some fruit and whole grains.  Notice if you feel different from days when you don’t.  Write down how you felt before and after different food decisions.

Try exercising and notice how it feels when you are done.  This can be anything from a walk, to a class or even a few exercises throughout the day.  Does it help energize you?  Do you feel a sense of accomplishment?  Write it down.

When you want to indulge or skip a workout – look back and read how each decision made you feel.  The more honest you are the better.  This is purely for you – no one is reading it so be honest with yourself.

Continue to transition from activities that lead to a guilty or blah feeling and do more activities that make you feel good.  Enjoy the victories along the way.  The goal is to feel good as often as possible.  This is a journey and it is nice to look back along the way and see how far you have come.


Small steps to a big leap

Motivation quote

Motivation quote (Photo credit: photosteve101)

This is a time of year when we are all a bit tired, the days are short and we spent a lot of energy over the holidays.   We have left our budgets and diets behind and feel a little guilty about it.  The beauty of a New Year is an opportunity to get back on track and embrace the longer days.

It is a time for new goals and hope.  We often begin the New Year with some vague ideas of where we want to be in the next year.  Instead of lusting after an idea, decide what exactly your goal is.  Is it to lift more weights or walk farther without being out of breath?  Perhaps it is keeping up with the kids or pets.

It is easier to achieve a goal when we have a specific marker.  Find something that you can measure.  Perhaps it is how long you can hold plank (this can be modified) or how many reps you can do at a certain weight.  Maybe it is the incline or speed on the treadmill.  Exercise provides many levels for us to reach and then move to the next one.

Take the time and determine where you are today.  Try plank or a long walk and write down your max.  Continue to practice each day (a minimum of three times a week) and write down your max at the end of the month.  Continue to check in monthly for the whole year and see how far you have come!

While we are focusing on one point, the rest will come.  As we become stronger, we may branch out to other classes and exercises.

It all begins with a small step and finding the time to keep it up all year.  Enjoy the journey and keep track of the small successes!


The right fit for YOU

Are you thinking about joining a gym in the New Year?  Not all gyms are the same.  Here are a few things to look at when you are selecting the right place for you.

Are you comfortable?  This is the most important aspect of any fitness facility.  Go to look at the space during the times that you would be using the facility.  This will give you an idea of how crowded the classes or equipment is.  It will also show the general group of people going at the same time you will be going.

What do you want to do?  Are you looking for great Zumba classes or to run on the treadmill?  If you are looking for classes be sure to try the ones you are interested in.  All classes and instructors are not the same and you want to be sure that it’s a good fit.  If you are looking for cardio equipment and weights – be sure to try them at the time of day you will be using them.  Each gym has different brands and styles of equipment.  Be sure that you like the ones they have and that it won’t be too crowded.

How is the staff?  Are they nice and supportive?  Take the time to talk with the people at the desk and on the floor.  These people will be your cheerleaders on this adventure and you want to have a nice fit.

Do you like the other people?  You may want a hard-hitting gym or a more mellow atmosphere – you can find either you just have to look for it.

Are there other services you are looking for?  Many places offer personal training, small group training, massage and nutritionists.  Be sure to ask about these offerings and what fees are associated with each service.

Liking the space and the people will set you up for success.  Take the time in the beginning and enjoy the results all year long!  YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

Take the numbers out of it!!

iphone 101We are followed around by numbers: the proper weight, caloric intake and the ideal jean size.  We don’t just work out but we track how many calories are burned with each different style of exercise.  Some people are numbers oriented and this works for them; but for many of us it is a bit overwhelming.

Personally, I don’t own a scale and I don’t count calories.  I buy pants that fit regardless of the number in the back.  Being a woman, the number attached to my size changes within the same brand and can be drastically different between brands.  The disparity between brands and styles renders the actual number meaningless, in my opinion.

Just as we know what is right and wrong, we know what we need to do to see changes.  Don’t think about the numbers.  Change is hard enough!  Find a class or form of exercise that you like.  That’s right – that you LIKE.  It might be the other people in class; it might be the instructor or the style.  Once you are on your way it is important to do the work.  You need to find the proverbial “burn” – this means don’t back off when you begin to sweat or when your muscles begin to shake.  This is where the change is found.

You know which foods aren’t good for you.  When looking at labels, the calories can be deceiving.  Rather than looking at the calories, begin to familiarize yourself with the nutritional value.  Begin to notice the amount of saturated fat and sodium – they also list the good aspects too; such as iron, potassium, vitamins A and C, etc.  It’s about changing your awareness from calories to nutrition.

Finally weight – you don’t need a rectangle on the floor to tell you if you have gained or lost weight.  Let’s face it, EVERYONE’S weight fluctuates depending on what you ate or drank the day before.  There is no need for the constant reminder.  You know if you over ate and you know if you are losing weight.  Often there is a period of time where fat is becoming muscle and the scale can be discouraging but your clothes are feeling loose.  Trust yourself – not a piece of machinery!

The key is to be accountable to yourself and not a series of numbers.  It is hard in the beginning – change is hard; but you are worth it!!


Today is the day….

Plank has always been a challenge for me!

to try a new exercise!  Perhaps you have pinned exercises on pinterest, or found them online and in magazines.  We often look at them and decide they are too difficult to try at this time.  The only way to know is to TRY IT and with each day you will get closer to the desired effect.  Starting today take a few minutes and go for it!!!

If you haven’t seen anything that inspires you, here are a few links to fitness/yoga magazines and my workout board on pinterest 🙂

Shape magazine’s websiteFacebook and Pinterest

Women’s Health’s website Facebook  and Pinterest

Fitness Magazine’s websiteFacebook and Pinterest

Yoga Journal’s websiteFacebook and Pinterest

Pilates Style website and Facebook

My Pinterest WorkOut board and Facebook

Belly of emotion

In today’s society, we are bombarded with ways to trim our waist or get 6-pack abs in weeks; yet few of us have those flat stomachs that we see on magazine covers in the check-out line.  What is holding us back?  Is it metabolism, lack of motivation or is there more to the story?

I teach many classes helping people on their journeys to stronger cores and abdominals.  Along the way, I have discovered a common road block – the reason for your belly in the first place.  In many ways, our tummies’ are our safety blankets.  The weight was gained at some point for a valid reason.

Many people gain weight in college and that extra cushioning is a reminder of the great times you had and the friends that you made.  For other’s it is an extra layer from having children.  This is a great experience and holding onto the weight reminds you of the miracle that was giving birth.  Others have gained weight as a result of quitting smoking and the belly is a reminder of a great accomplishment.  Of course, we all know weight gain can come from sad times as well.  The weight in these scenarios can be considered a badge for making it through the tough times and surviving.

Here is my question – will losing the tummy take away these memories and accomplishments?  Absolutely not.  You will still have your friends from college, your belly button will remind you of the time your children didn’t talk back and were growing inside of you, you will still be better off for not smoking and you are still surviving.

It’s not an easy task discovering what our emotional attachment is to our tummy or our weight, but it is crucial for change.  Without doing the work, we will continue on the rollercoaster.  I often talk to my students about doing the work in an exercise and not going for the glory.  When you do the work you get the desired result.  If you cheat for the glory, you will stay in that place and not grow.

When beginning any journey it is important to look at where you have come from, where you are and where you want to be.  It isn’t always easy or neat, but you are worth it!


Moving forward

Entering the fall, I was not sure what direction to go in.  I made the decision to focus on my family and my students.  This decision has brought me happiness in ways I cannot describe.

I have made the commitment to go back to dance classes purely for the joy it brings me.  There is no wish to be on Broadway or even to get in better shape.  It is truly fun.  Taking this view has allowed me to meet new people and reconnect with others.

Bringing a new focus to teaching and a desire to constantly find new information has been great.  I have created new classes and I am lucky enough to help people on their fitness journey.  Some are at the beginning and others are further along the path.

I often hear about the fears people have when it comes to fitness.  One of the most common is a fear of standing out in class or not being strong enough to take the class.  It was hearing these concerns that brought me back to my original teaching goal.  Finding ways to make simple changes and fitness available to everyone.

It was with this passion, that I have been focusing on my Facebook page, Simply Modern.  Each day, I am posting a seated core exercise at 11:30 and a standing core exercise at 4:15; with the goal of giving people easy ideas to try while they are at work or making dinner.

At this time, I am going to focus on my Facebook adventure.  I will be sure to share my experiences moving forward on this blog – but not regularly.  Thank you for the support and I hope you enjoy the new tips 🙂