Memorial Day: Reflections on Warriors

memorial day

Each year, on the last Monday of May, we celebrate Memorial Day. Originally instituted as a day of honoring those who died during the Civil War, it eventually became a day to remember any soldier who died fighting in the United States Armed Forces.

Memorial Day is the perfect time to pause and consider how much we owe to those men and women who have given up their lives in the pursuit and defense of freedom. We are so accustomed to living with this freedom in our country, that it is easy to take it for granted. It is hard to appreciate it when we do not know anything different. Just like a fish who doesn’t realize it is wet (because it has never been anything else but wet), we tend to not realize the magnitude of privilege that is ours.

It takes warriors to build a country where freedom is the rule, rather than the exception. And Memorial Day is a time to honor those wounded warriors who have made our lives of freedom possible.

But we can honor those wounded warriors even more by seeking to emulate them in their courage to fight against destructive forces.

Warriors Fight

What happens when the enemy is not confronted and defeated? He wins and the noble cause suffers.

What about you? Are you a warrior? Do you know what your enemy is?

Your enemy is the typical, unhealthy lifestyle that nearly everyone around you is living. And it is deadly for two reasons:

1. It is hard to recognize. Just like the water surrounding the fish, the status quo is so normal, so common, that we just live it with very little contemplation. Of course you eat dessert after dinner. Of course you grab a doughnut on the way to work. Of course you do not exercise the recommended six days each week. Of course you are overweight. Isn’t everyone living this way? Yes, nearly everyone is.

2. It leads to illness, early disability and death. If you follow the status quo of diet and lifestyle, you will be increasingly tired, weak, sick and in pain. It will not get better; it will get worse with each passing year, finally ending in dependence on others.

What are you waiting for? Get up and fight!

Memorial Day is a perfect day to reflect on your willingness to fight. Resisting the tide of ‘normal’ unhealthy eating and sedentary-ness is no walk in the park. You’ve got to press in and fight like a warrior. It isn’t easy and it isn’t always fun. But the resulting energy, vitality, strength and mental clarity that will be your new ‘normal’ way of life will be worth every bit of effort and sweat you put into it.

We’re behind you. We create warriors here. Join us to learn how to set your life on a new course. Forget the past—leave it in the past. It doesn’t matter what your track record is with fitness and health. We focus on the future here. And with us, your future looks great!

Commit to be Fit

Do Something

Fitness starts in your mind. Ask any athlete or fit person what the number one secret is to his success at fitness, and he will tell you it is commitment.

Commitment means that you are in it for the long haul. Commitment rises above bad days, hectic schedules and volatile emotions. Commitment hangs in there when you don’t want to do it, when you don’t feel like doing it and when you don’t have time to do it.

True commitment doesn’t depend on how you feel. It depends on your integrity and on living for the purpose you have set for yourself.

Are you committed to get fit?

No Weekend Warriors

Committing to be fit eliminates the weekend warrior syndrome. You may know a weekend warrior. He is the person who does little physical exercise during the week, but when the weekend arrives, he blasts out of the gate like a stallion on Derby Day. In a desperate attempt to make up for his sedentary behavior all week, he goes to the gym or hits the pavement, pushing himself to the limit.

The result, however, is not what he expects.

He will likely end up with an injury, because his muscles, tendons and joints are not conditioned for the intensity of his exercise.

But he is also not getting in shape, because he is not committed. Physical fitness depends on consistency. And consistency requires commitment. It takes consistent, near-daily exercise to cause your body to make the changes that bring about fitness. For example, your joints and tendons will strengthen, your aerobic base will improve as your body becomes more efficient at utilizing oxygen and ridding itself of carbon dioxide, and your endurance will increase.

In fact, that you do something consistently is as important, or maybe even more important, than what you actually do. Even if you are just doing low intensity walking, doing it every day is infinitely better than doing something more strenuous only occasionally.

But the real rewards come when you not only commit to intense workouts, but you also commit to being consistent with those workouts.

Commit

In order to get fit, you do not need expensive clothes, fancy home-gym equipment or a complicated workout plan.

What you need is commitment. If you are committed, the rest of the pieces will fall into place.

You can start today. Don’t overthink this. Just start, and commit to doing something every single day.

Get Unstuck for Mother’s Day

Mother's Day Blog This is for you, Moms. In fact, whether you are a mom or not, this is for all the women out there who feel trapped in a cycle of, “One day, I am going to eat healthy, lose weight and really take care of myself.” It’s time to get un-stuck, and we are here to help. We know that it is hard to find time to focus on you. And when you finally do take some time for yourself, you probably have a vague sense of guilt that there are other things more worthy of whatever effort or sacrifice you are making to work on you. That’s part of being a mom. You put others first. But consider this. Neglecting yourself is not good for you or those people who depend on you. The only way you can keep attending to your many responsibilities and joys is if your health is optimum. Once your health starts declining, you will have no choice but to focus on yourself. Wouldn’t you rather do it now and know what it feels like to be fit and full of energy and still be there for those people who depend on you?

It’s hard to start

Yes, starting is hard. In fact, it is probably the hardest part. It may be hard because you’ve ‘started’ before and failed. That doesn’t matter anymore. You are not doing it alone this time. We are here to walk with you every step of the way. We’re looking forward, not backward. It may be hard because you have no idea where you will find the time to exercise. We’ll help you with that too. That’s what we do. It may be hard because changing life-long patterns of eating seems completely undesirable right now. We’ve been there. And believe me; if some of us can do it, you can too. The amazing thing is that once you get a taste of the energy and vitality that eating well brings, you won’t look back.

Waiting is dangerous

Listen. The longer you wait to take your health seriously, the more damage you are doing to your body. There is only one way to slow down, stop and reverse many of the effects of aging (whether you are 20 or 70 years old): sensible eating and consistent exercise. (Well, that’s two, but they have to happen together) · Do you want to avoid the ravages of heart disease (the number one killer of women)? · Would you like to never experience the pain of a fractured, osteoporotic bone? · Do lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your knees and reducing aches and pains sound attractive to you? · Would you like to run a marathon (even if you’re 60!)?

It’s Yours

You’ve dreamed about it long enough. Make this Mother’s Day the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Thousands of women just like you are doing it. And we want to help you do it. Be strong, vibrant, fit and full of energy. It’s time to start. We’ll get you un-stuck and feeling better than you ever have.

What Motivates You?

Mike Fohner, cross country running coach, tells this story about one of his students:

Last year, one of my young cross-country runners was fully content walking up the hills and avoiding physical exertion to the maximum extent possible. I tried all sorts of tactics and motivation techniques…to wits end. Even my “walkers club” (post practice sprints for those that walk during practice) had no effect. One meet, this runner unexpectedly knocked 3 minutes off her best time to which I gave a look of amazement to her parents. They smiled and said, “Well…she didn’t walk…so I guess we owe her ten bucks!!” So it appears that money is an effective motivator for all ages!

The statistics

Brace yourself. According to Rod K. Dishman, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Fitness Laboratory at the University of Georgia, nearly 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out within the first 6 months. The question is, “Why?” What is it about sticking with a fitness routine that causes so many people abandon it?

The answer? Motivation. They don’t want health and fitness badly enough. It is a simple fact of human psychology that if we want something badly enough, we’ll do everything we can to get it.

Your challenge is to find out what motivates you to get serious about fitness and stick with it.

Unlocking your motivation

Mike Fohner’s student found that money was the motivation she needed to push her out of her comfort zone and into a commitment that she previously hadn’t been interested in.

Bryan Reece found a different motivation. Told by his doctors that he was minutes away from a heart attack, Bryan decided to fight back. Even though he had not been in a gym in 30 years, he turned his life around and eventually became a finisher in the Arizona Ironman competition. You can read his story in the book, You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon by Jacques Steinberg.

You do not have to be part of that 50 percent who quit. You can stay committed and finish strong. It is all about finding what motivates you personally.

Here are some possible motivators for you.

1. Do it for your health. Consistent exercise and healthy eating are the two very best things you can do for your health. You will develop a strong, healthy heart, reduce your chances of many cancers, prevent diabetes, keep a sharp mind and resist dementia and avoid many of the common ailments that come with aging. It is possible to age without decay, and the key to this is exercise and eating well.

2. Do it to look better. Appearance isn’t everything, but most of us care how we look. A strong and healthy person just looks good. And it isn’t all physical. Your demeanor will change as you develop the confidence that comes from the discipline of fitness. You will appear more energetic and confident because you will be more energetic and confident!

3. Do it to relieve stress. Really! It isn’t a cliché. Exercising really does cause physical changes in your brain and nervous system that results in feelings of calmness and well-being. In fact, you may get so hooked on the mental benefits of exercise that you will crave it!

4. Do it to be strong. If you have never done focused weight training, then you literally have no idea of the total transformation that you will feel after just a few weeks. There is nothing like bending over to pick something up that normally results in discomfort, strain and even pain, only to find out that it is a piece of cake! And by getting strong now, you reduce your risk of age-related falls and fractures because you have the core strength and balance to keep yourself stable.

It is worth taking the time to discover the powerful motivators in your life. Don’t worry about ‘bribing’ yourself: do what it takes to get yourself moving. Find out what makes sweating worth it. Find out what you want more than that brownie. Your health is at stake; in fact, your very life is at stake. It’s time to transform yourself.

Stealth Weight Loss: Making the Mindless Margin Work for You

Chances are you’ve been pulling out some of your spring and summer clothing—those favorite pieces from last year. But if you are like many people, they don’t feel quite as comfortable as they did at the end of summer. The zipper is a little harder to zip, and the fit is a bit too snug to be attractive.

What happened?

The mindless margin happened.

The mindless margin

In his book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, Dr. Brian Wansink defines the mindless margin as that margin or zone in which we can slightly overeat or slightly under eat without even realizing it.

It is very easy to slightly overeat, isn’t it? How many times have you passed through the kitchen and spied a half cookie lying on the baking pan? It’s only a half cookie, so you grab it and eat it as you keep walking.

Or what about refilling your soda cup on your way out of the restaurant after lunch? Just a little for the road…

Have you ever cleaned your plate simply because there was food left on it? You weren’t really hungry, but it was there, so you ate it.

This is the mindless margin. In each of these instances, you were not consuming the extra calories because you needed them: you weren’t even hungry! And if you had resisted them, you would never have missed them. In each case you ‘slightly overate,’ but the price you pay for this is high.

Dr. Wansink points out that eating just 10 extra calories per day results in a one pound weight gain over a year’s time. 10 calories! Here is a sample list of foods that you might mindlessly eat that are 10 calories each:

· 2 Skittles

· 4 Nestlé Toll House semisweet chocolate chips

· 1 gummy bear

· 2 1/2 Jelly Belly jelly beans

· 1 peanut M&M

· 3 plain M&M’s

· 1 shoestring french fry

· 3 green or red grapes

· 3 cherry tomatoes

Imagine how much weight you would gain if you ate 100 or 200 extra calories each day. You would gain several pounds each year. And this is what is happening to most Americans: the slow creep.

Make the mindless margin work hard for you

The good news is that the mindless margin works in reverse. While mindlessly overeating adds up to weight gain, mindlessly under eating leads to weight loss.

There is a zone in which you do not notice if you eat more calories or fewer calories.

Consider this: if you eat 1,000 calories each day, you will feel weak, lightheaded and cranky. You would notice this! And if you eat 3,000 calories each day, you would notice this too—you would feel tired, slower and sleepy.1

However, your body will never notice if you eat 1,900 calories instead of 2,000 calories, nor will it notice if you eat 2,100 calories instead of 2,000 calories. That is why it is called the mindless margin—it is completely undetectable. You don’t feel better if you eat it, and you don’t feel deprived if you don’t.

You can trim 100-200 calories from your diet and never miss them! And you can lose weight in the process.

Here are a few ideas to help you start thinking about initiating this stealth fitness strategy in your diet.

You will come up with other ways that are specific to your particular lifestyle. The objective is to trim a few calories every place you can without really noticing it.

· Fill your glass only two-thirds full of calorie-laden beverage, rather than all the way full.

· Toss out one-third of your french fries on the way to the restaurant table.

· Dish out twenty percent less food onto your plate.

· Reduce your heaping spoon of sugar to a level one for your coffee.

· Ask the waiter to bring you one roll instead of a whole basket.

· Never eat a whole dessert by yourself: split it with someone.

· Remove most junk food from your office and replace it with your favorite raw fruits, veggies and nuts.

· Replace one glass of calorie-rich beverage each day with water.

· Never eat directly out of the bag or box. Decide how much you want to eat, then put twenty percent of that back in and put the bag or box away. Do not go back for seconds.

Keep in mind that the key to taking advantage of the mindless margin is to keep it under the radar. If you feel deprived, it is no longer mindless. It’s a great way to lose a few pounds and not even know it. As Dr. Wansink puts it, “The best diet is the one you don’t know you are on!”

Source:

1 Brian Wansink. Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. 2010. Bantam Books.

Is This Energy-Drainer Keeping You Stuck?

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke about Spring cleaning and getting your fitness plans back on track or up another level. Well, this week I want to give you one of the main reasons why you need this “Spring Cleaning” in your life.

It’s all around you, but you probably don’t even notice. It is a stealth energy-drainer, and it may be sabotaging your fitness goals.

It’s called clutter and each of us has it in our lives. This can be physical clutter or mental clutter.

The insidious nature of clutter is this: it establishes itself so gradually and entrenches itself so deeply, that we don’t even consciously know it is there. But it is there, sapping our creativity, our energy, and our productivity, and ultimately our health.

Physical clutter is clutter in your physical environment. This can be in your car, your office, your kitchen, your bathroom, your closet, your garage etc. It can be unorganized, unkempt, or it can be organized and arranged: but it is stuff–and too much of it.

You have to move it, step over it, dust it or feel guilty for not dusting it. You have to look at it. It is there. It takes up space that could be used for other things or space that could simply be emptied and left serene and open.

A clear, focused mind needs a clear, focused environment. When you are living surrounded by clutter (whether you even notice the clutter consciously or not), it pulls on you and chokes your forward movement and your creativity. It always demands to be dealt with, and that is draining on you. So you have less energy for fitness and for health.

And you have less energy to live and to love.

Mental clutter is clutter in your patterns of thinking and reacting to yourself and others and everyday circumstances. Again, it operates under the radar most of the time, which makes it especially menacing.

Mental clutter can be self-defeating ways of thinking about yourself, entrenched patterns of behavior with certain people, habitual ways of reacting to certain situations or just a general approach to life that blindly runs on auto-pilot.

The trouble with living blindly is that you don’t really live: you can’t see options or alternatives. With creativity choked off, you stagnate. And your energy slowly drains away.

So how do you clear out clutter that you can’t see? Whether it is physical clutter on your bookcase or the mental clutter of responding the same way to that person who always manages to raise your blood pressure, you can get to work on it immediately.

Try these solutions:

Physical clutter:

  • Assess the different environments that you live and work in. Take one small space at a time and physically touch each object (otherwise you won’t see many of them, because you are so used to it being there).
  • Ask yourself—What is this? Why do I have it? What is its function? Does it enrich my life? Does it bless me? Would someone else be blessed by it? Is it trash? After I’ve gone, will someone else have to come in and get rid of it? Try to eliminate as much as you can.
  • Have a friend come in when you are finished and go through it again with her. You’ll have a fresh perspective, and she’ll have an objective one.
  • Think really hard before acquiring more stuff. And try to remove something from your environment each time you bring something additional in. Out with the old and in with the new.

Mental clutter:

  • Slow down. In order to identify your mental clutter, you must slow down and really pay attention.
  • Ask yourself this key question several times a day: “Do I have other options?” Whether it is when that ‘someone’ is beginning to push your buttons or whether you are rushing to get to work again, just stop for a moment and try to come up with one or two other scenarios.
  • Set a reminder several times a day to remind yourself to stop and take note of what you are doing when the reminder sounds. Are you eating? Checking
  • Twitter for the 12th time? Having the same dead-end conversation with someone?

  • Take a look at your routines: bedtime, morning, lunch, late afternoon, etc. What are your habits? Are they productive? Destructive? Time wasters? How can you make them better?
  • What are you procrastinating? Leaving a dreaded task undone is a sure road to low energy and low productivity. Make a list of those tasks which you have been putting off and just do them. You’ll be amazed at your energy level afterwards!

Being fit and healthy requires being intentional about your environment, your schedule and your relationships. Take it one day at a time and start moving toward deliberate living.

Don’t Stop Resistance Training IF You Want to Lose Weight!

Now that the weather is getting nice, you may be tempted to forgo your resistance training and head outdoors for some aerobic exercise in the fresh air. But beware: if you give up your resistance training, you will be giving up more than you bargained for.

Why resistance train?

Resistance training is critical for true fitness. Without it, your muscles will atrophy. If you aren’t building muscle, you are likely losing it.

And if you are 20 or older, you are definitely losing muscle, unless you are working hard to build it. Beginning at age 20, we begin naturally losing muscle mass every decade.

The old liché holds true for muscle mass: if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Have you ever broken your arm or leg and had to wear a cast for a few weeks? Remember what greeted you when the cast was removed? Your arm or leg was a lot smaller and felt weak. That is because just a few weeks of disuse caused the muscles to begin atrophying.

Here are some of the benefits of resistance training:

· Stops muscle loss and helps begin the rebuilding process.

· Makes daily acttivites easier, from carrying groceries to rearraging your furniture.

· Gives you a sculpted look.

· Increases bone density, giving you a strong, stable skeleton.

· Improves balance and coordination.

· Prevents decay of the pads between your bones, so that you do not hurt when you move.

· Causes the tendons to grow deeper into your bones, reducing the chance of tearing.

· Builds muscles which will burn more calories, even while you are resting.

· Reduces blood pressure by making your heart stronger.

· Increases your metabolism.

· Decreases blood sugar, which helps prevent insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes).

· Improves your aerobic capacity: the stronger your muscles, the better your endurance.

· Gives you a general feeling of wellness and strength. If you are strong, you feel strong.

· Makes you a better athlete: there is no substitue for strength!

· Prevents the weak, frail “skinny-fat” look.

· Raises your energy level. The more muscle you have, the less effort you have to exert and the more energy you have available.

· Secures future protection against falls and fractures. If you age with dense bones, strong muscles and good balance, your risk of injury plummets.

· Creates 22% more afterburn than aerobic exercise does. (Afterburn refers to the fat and calories that your body burns in the hours after you have finished your workout.)

Still tempted to give up resistance training?

Why aerobic exercise is not enough

But,” the question goes, “Can’t I just go for a run and build muscle? I’m using muscles when I run!

The answer is NO! Running or other aerobic exercise is not a replacement for resistance training. They are different exercises and provide different benefits. Aerobic exercise does not deliver the needed stress to your bones, muscles and tendons.

In order to build strength, you have to pull hard on tendons, do microscopic damage to your muscles and literally bend your bones. Going out for a run or putting in an hour on the treadmill will not do this sufficiently.

This is not to say that aerobic exercise is not important: it is! But it is not resistance training. You need both. And if you omit one, you do your body a great disservice.

Avoid the “skinny fat” syndrome

Another danger of focusing on cardio or aerobic exercise to the exclusion of resistance training is becoming what is known as “skinny fat.” Skinny fat is a condition in which a person appears thin on the outside, but inside they are unhealthy and at risk for illness.

If you are losing weight through diet and exercise but not simultaneously doing resistance training, you are not only losing fat: you are losing muscle as well. Your body will burn through your muscles tissue as surely as it will burn through your fat. As you lose muscle, you lose a major source of energy, and you lose tone and definition.

Further, as you lose muscle, your bones become weak, because they do not have to do as much work. Weak bones are a precursor to osteoporosis.

Hidden fat is also a risk for the “skinny fat” person. When 800 slim people underwent an MRI scan to check for visceral or hidden fat, 45% were found to have excessive amounts of internal fat, undetectable from the outside1. Visceral fat is the most dangerous fat to have, because it accumulates around organs such as the pancreas, heart and liver and then begins releasing hormones and other secretions that lead to disease.

Resistance training can reduce visceral fat and help prevent the additional formation around the organs.

Don’t give up your resistance training just because spring is here and you are eager to get outside. There is no substitute for lifting heavy weights 2 to 3 times each week. Your health is on the line. GET AFTER IT!

Source:

1http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/food_coach&id=6912002

Spring Cleaning: Time to Throw Out the Excuses

Other than New Year’s, there is probably no other time during the year that motivates us to make a fresh start like springtime does. When the warm breezes start blowing, we want to throw open the windows and let the rebirth all around us revitalize our homes and our spirits.

Because it seems natural to clean out the old during this time of year, it’s a great time to come face to face with our excuses for not getting fit and healthy. Excuses pile up just like the clutter that we accumulate in our houses, but it’s time to come clean.

What is your excuse for not choosing health?

I don’t have the time to exercise: This is likely one of the most common excuses. You are busy. You have to work all day (or all night), you have to get the kids to school, you have to cook dinner, go to the grocery store, mow the lawn, change the oil in the car, care for your aging parents—there is simply no time for exercise.

Really?

Consider this. If you do not exercise, you will almost certainly begin experiencing the illness and disease that comes from an inactive lifestyle. When you begin experiencing symptoms, you will have to make an appointment with the doctor, drive to your appointment, wait to be seen, schedule additional tests at the hospital, and wait for your prescriptions to be filled at the pharmacy. And with chronic illness, this scenario will be played out month after month after month. And it takes a lot of time.

Will you find the time in your busy life to see to your medical issues?

Yes, of course you will. You will make sure that you adjust your schedule and your life to accommodate your illness. So why not adjust your schedule now to accommodate the prevention of illness through exercise? You do have the time; you just have to decide to use it.

The truth is that if you do not make the time for exercise, you will have to make time for illness. And exercise takes a lot less time out of your life than disease.

I don’t like to exercise: Again, a pretty common excuse. But it won’t let you off the hook. Lots of people do not like to exercise, but they make themselves do it anyway. Do you like feeling tired? Do you like being overweight? Do you like having to undergo medical tests? Without exercise, you will feel tired, be overweight and become sick, so it comes down to choosing your ‘dislike.’

I don’t have the energy to exercise: If you are unfit, you likely have low energy. And when you don’t have much energy, the last thing you can imagine is exercising. But until you become more active, you will not have the energy you so long for. As you begin exercising, you will start having more energy. You won’t start feeling better until you start moving.

It’s just not the right time for me to start working out. “I’ll start working out when…

· I get some decent exercise clothes

· Summer vacation starts

· The kids go back to school

· I get my house organized

· Work lets up

· I have more time

· Life calms down

· The kids get older

· The weather warms up a little

· The weather cools down a little

· Someday…just not today

It will never be the perfect time to start a fitness routine.

You just have to start.

Surrender your excuses

Decide to stop hiding behind your excuses. Make a clean sweep and toss those excuses out. Everybody has excuses for not exercising. The fit and healthy people around you choose to give up the excuses and just do it. That doesn’t mean it is easy for them. It just means that they love feeling energetic, strong, healthy, and empowered enough to push in and get it done.

You can be that way too.

How Daylight Savings Time Can Help You Lose Weight and Get Fit

Sunday, March 12, marked the date we changed our clocks in observance of Daylight Saving Time. On this day, most U.S. residents will move their clocks forward one hour, resulting in more daylight at the end of each day.

Many people dread this “spring forward” tradition, because it means getting one less hour of sleep. But you can take advantage of this time change to help you improve your overall fitness and health routine.

The effect of daylight

The sunlight has a profound impact on our bodies, particularly two hormones that control mood and energy: serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin tends to boost mood and energy, while melatonin tends to make you feel sleepy. Too much of it can even lead to depressed feelings in some people. Winter depression is a common disorder that many people suffer with during the long, dark winter months, and it is often directly tied to the effect of less daylight, less serotonin and too much melatonin.

When sunlight is plentiful (such as during the late spring and summer months), you will produce more serotonin and less melatonin. When sunlight is less available (during fall and winter), you will produce less serotonin and more melatonin. The result can be a dramatic shift in your overall feelings of well-being and energy; you will likely find that you have more energy and motivation when the days begin to lengthen.

Put the longer days to work for you

Have you struggled to work out this winter? Has your motivation been weak? Less daylight may be the reason. If you didn’t head into fall and winter last year with a solidly entrenched fitness habit, you may have lost motivation and spent the winter merely wishing that you were working out.

Long-term fitness is the result of having a fitness routine and sticking with it. Once a habit becomes part of your life, it is easy to keep it up, even if your motivation and energy drop from time to time, as they surely will. Particularly in fall and winter.

This is the perfect time to begin building healthy exercise habits.

Take advantage of the longer days and increased sunlight. As we get closer to spring and summer, the days will get longer and longer, which will give you more time and opportunity to work out. The increased serotonin in your body will boost your mood and energy, giving you the motivation to create an exercise routine. Get serious about this routine, so that by the time fall rolls around in a few months, you will be firmly entrenched in your healthy lifestyle.

A solid fitness habit will carry you through the dark days of winter when energy and motivation lag, and you will finish the winter strong. Get started now!

How to Overcome Winter Weight Gain

Today, we’re taking a hard look at winter weight gain. It’s a common problem—people tend to pack on a few pounds during the winter months.

But we want to fight back, and we hope you will join us. Let’s get after this now, while winter is still in full force. We’ll have less to deal with when the warm breezes start blowing!

The good, the bad…and the solution

Although winter weight gain varies from person to person, research shows the average gain to be five to seven pounds! Some people gain this extra weight because they have Seasonal Affective Disorder—a type of winter depression. But most of us can’t blame winter depression for our tendency to pick up extra weight during the winter months.

So, why does winter weight gain happen? According to Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, it happens because we eat more and move less during the winter months1.

This is bad news and good news. It is bad news because it would be kind of nice if we could blame our cold-weather corpulence on something exotic like the jet stream cycle and waddle off for another espresso.

But it is good news because we can do something about it. We don’t have to greet spring with softer middles and tighter clothes. So let’s celebrate leap year by tackling winter weight gain with our weapon of choice here at Fitness Revolution: discipline.

Hour of decision

According to Merriam-Webster, discipline is a “rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity2.” This is perfect. In order to fight winter weight gain, we have to discipline ourselves to follow some rules.

Here we go…

1. Banned language: For the next several weeks, do not allow yourself to say, “Just this once.” If you pay close attention, a ‘just this once’ situation comes up practically every day. You go to a retirement party. You take spouse out for a birthday dinner. Someone brings a meal by your house because you’ve been sick. Your co-worker brings in the leftover pizza from last night’s party. Your child has leftover Valentine’s Day candy. You have to say no every single time. Otherwise, you will never get ahead.

Just grit your teeth, resist what others are having and make good food choices. I’m not saying it is easy. I am saying it is necessary.

2. Plan your occasional splurge, and do not deviate from the plan. Unending deprivation is never a good idea, but you have to be intentional about the time, place and food that you let yourself splurge on.

Love the hot wings at your favorite restaurant? Then let’s make a deal. Eat clean for ten days. No cheating. And then at the end of those ten days, go have the wings. Guilt free. Just enjoy them. Then set the next goal. But you are not allowed to deviate from your plan in the meantime.

If you do, you lose the wings.

Don’t waste your fun calories on something that doesn’t compare to those wings!

3. Keep moving. Exercise is not an optional activity. Now more than ever you have to get your body in motion. Exercise is very effective at preventing weight gain—and that is what we’re after right now. Don’t even worry so much about losing pounds; just work to keep the winter scale-creep from happening to you. Try to get some cardio in at least six days a week.

Remember: spring is coming. Let’s be ready for it, and leave winter weight gain behind.

Sources

1http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/5-tips-to-avoid-winter-weight-gain

2http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discipline