What does being healthy mean (to you)?

healthy (adjective) : in good health

Being healthy has many interpretations and can be overwhelming, especially when just getting started on a health and fitness journey.

There is physical health in terms of blood pressure, cardio levels, strength, body composition, etc. These pieces can be an interpretation of our day-to-day habits. What we put in our mouth, if we prioritize our sleep, how often we move our body. What you choose to do (or not do) impacts your physical health bit by bit each day.
While there is also a genetic aspect to our health, there is much left to us and how we decide to treat our bodies. We possess the ability to rewrite our genetic makeup, to a certain extent. My grandmother had diabetes, my mother has diabetes; however, through being mindful of eating habits and being consistently active I hope to halt this cycle. Although, I understand this is only one piece of the puzzle.

Emotional health is huge. How we feel can dictate our day no matter what you might have on your calendar. Many of us deal with anxiety and depression each day. I have experienced rough patches, down times, and feelings of helplessness, like many others. Learning how to manage these feelings, either through breathing practices and meditation, speaking with a professional, or habits that enable us to feel our best, can allow us to navigate through these feelings as they come or perhaps prevent them from coming on. Know that you are not alone, and these feelings are temporary. Stay confident that things will get better, if you let them.

Being healthy, to me, is being able to wake up with energy, feel good, and have the ability to tackle the day with a smile. While every moment may not be rainbows and unicorns, I keep the mindset of gratitude. Gratitude for my home, a job that I love, great people I get to surround myself with, being able to live and pay my bills…simple things. With these things in mind I can make the conscious decisions to make sure I have healthy things to eat, move my body each day to stay strong, and get myself into bed early. Being healthy doesn’t need to be a big chore, but instead something we get to strive and work for each day.

As we dive into the last quarter of this year and get ready for the new decade…I encourage you to think about how you feel when you feel healthy and well. What does that look like to you? What do you do to help you feel that way?
Find those things and hold onto them.

Sleep made simple

Quality sleep is so crucial. Something so primal and simple is so powerful.

Imagine a night where you stayed up too late stressing over something. Tossing & turning, closing your eyes and having thoughts run wild through your head, unable to get any peace. You finally manage to doze off, then in a blink your alarm is going off.
How does it feel getting out of bed? What does your day look like after a night like that? What kind of work are you going to produce?
Generally, the day following would feel pretty crappy.

Now imagine being fresh & clean, sliding into a freshly made bed. Your work bag is packed, your outfit for tomorrow is laid out and ready. You read part of your favorite book and/or journal for a few minutes, then turn off the lights. Glancing over at the clock you smile realizing you get 8 hours of bed time. (sigh of relief)…goodnight.
How wonderful do you feel after a great night’s rest? How is your mood and attitude positively affected? When was the last time you got 8 hours of solid sleep?

Okay, we know we’re supposed to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night but HOW do we achieve it?
Don’t stress over sleep, just keep it simple…see what I did there?

  • Have a bedtime—Our bodies are amazingly adaptable, if you’re going to bed late or at varying times, it will make it challenging for your body to be on track to fall asleep when you want. Help yourself out by choosing a regular time to unwind and get into bed, allowing for adequate sleep time.
  • Create the environment-–tell your mind and body it’s time for bed by using lower lights and soft, chill music. I like dabbing on lavender essential oil to enhance the relaxing.
  • Avoid technology and screens—no need to wind yourself up with that intense show or things that you find scrolling through the internet. I promise you won’t die if you put your phone away or decide not to have the TV on as you fall asleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night, our devices are NOT helpful in getting us back to sleep…don’t do it.
  • Clear your mind—bedtime is not the time to think about that phone call you were supposed to make, or revisit that dumb thing you said earlier in the day, and especially not the time to worry about what’s going to happen at work tomorrow. I’d recommend getting lost in a book or journaling some of the day’s thoughts/events to leave things on paper and not in your head.
  • Set yourself up for less stress—I find it helpful to pack my work/workout bag, put together any food and pick my outfit for the next day the night before. It makes for a much smoother morning.
  • Don’t forget to breathe and think happy thoughts—As you close your eyes and make the transition to dream land, take slow, relaxing breaths. Soften your face and think about the things you are grateful for. Your bed, your health, the good people in your life, the opportunity for sleep!…the list goes on.
  • I hope these rituals help you catch some quality z’s tonight, you deserve it.
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T

    How do you show respect? By paying attention to someone, listening to them, honoring plans, not wasting their time, speaking kindly to them…do you show enough respect to yourself?

    Merriam-Webster defines self-love as the regard for one’s own happiness and advantage.
    We are our own priorities. If you’re not #1 in your own book, you’ll have a hard time becoming #1 in someone else’s. There is a certain presence you create when you are living whole-heartedly and confident that will attract the right people into your life and keep them there.

    There are different ways to practice self-love to show respect to ourselves and build up our confidence, depending on where you feel needs attention.

    Through fitness, moving our bodies often shows that we care about how we look and feel. By holding a consistent and balanced exercise routine, there are infinite benefits to our health and happiness. You’ll feel stronger, have more energy, fit better into your clothes, and increase your life span.

    Eating fresh and nutrient-dense foods keeps your body healthy by warding off diseases & unwanted weight. It also provides fuel that allows you to do whatever you want to do. And by eating right, you stay satisfied and happy throughout the day.

    Most importantly your mindset and self-talk are huge components of respecting yourself. The chatter that goes on in our head can be the biggest hit to our confidence. Be kind to yourself, speak words of affirmation instead of beating yourself up. There is so much power in saying good things to yourself and allowing yourself to talk through challenging situations.
    Tell yourself that you love yourself. Don’t allow yourself to nitpick at little slip-ups, they happen, find a positive aspect and run with it. Instead of letting your mind take control with all the things you need to get done, take a breath and take one thing at a time.

    When you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t serve you in a positive way, reflect on how you got there. We all have choices that bring us to these places, take charge and decide you don’t want to end up there again. Whether it’s overeating and not feeling comfortable in that bathing suit or not speaking up because you talked yourself out of it…you’re in charge of yourself and your decisions. Respect yourself enough to not allow it to happen again, because you’ve been there and it doesn’t feel good.

    I love you and I respect you.

    You have choices

    It’s true! We all have the power to make decisions for ourselves…right?! You choose whether or not you make time to workout. Whether you’re going to eat something that is nourishing to your body or something that won’t do you well. You can sit in a funk about not being happy where you’re at or decide to take action!

    Realize that you have the power to make the decisions that ultimately define the situations you find yourself in. Hold yourself accountable and powerfully.

    What goals have you set that you haven’t achieved yet? What do you need to do to get them done?

    Getting fit and healthy looks different for everyone, but at some level we all strive to look and feel our best. Genetics plays a role in body types but in every food choice we make, opportunity to move-we either take or leave, and our ability to listen to our body’s needs we decide what kind of shape we are in.
    If you choose to eat only 1 meal a day that consists of low nutrient dense foods and snack on packaged and processed foods with low water intake, you might find yourself not looking or feeling the way you want.
    If you decide to go for a hike with a friend instead of opting for sitting at home on your phone, I know that your body and mind would thank you.
    Healthy, active lifestyles come from those small, everyday choices that we make everyday.

    Your happiness and well-being depend on your quality of life. What kind of people are you spending your time with? How do you feel about the job that you’re spending 30-40 hours at? How is your overall mindset and perspective throughout the day?
    Choose to spend less time with the people that leave you drained and feeling down. If you are unhappy with the job you have, find a career that makes you fulfilled and productive. Shift your thoughts to focus on the wins and constructive aspects of losses.

    Sound simple?…it is! Doesn’t mean that all of these decisions come easy, but you know yourself best and it’s imperative that we stand firm for our truths and what will set us up on a path for success.
    Make decisions based on your own present and future.

    What are you listening to?

    I love Podcasts!! They’re great for motivation, inspiration, dance tunes, keeping me informed and so much more. I want to share a few of my favorite podcasts so you guys can listen and grow with me!

    Why Not Now? with Amy Jo Martin– seriously great and real stories of how people get through big life decisions by asking themselves “why not now?” I really credit this show to giving myself permission to take action into things I might not feel like I’m ready for but know I want to do. I love Amy Jo’s light & fun personality allowing others to open up and share their stories.

    TED Radio Hour– based off TED Talks of all different topics. Guy Raz walks us through interviews with such an eclectic group of people sharing their experiences and expertise. Some of my favorite episodes are Simply Happy, Just a Little Nicer, and Press Play. If you’re into TED Talks, you’ll want to check these out.

    Success Insider– although there aren’t any new episodes being recorded, I love going through the archives and listening to Shelby and Josh share digestible information and action steps on how to make your professional life run smoother. I love their episodes on Why Being Socially Awkward is Awesome, How to Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable, and Would You Simply Be Quiet, among so many others.

    Style Your Mind– Cara Alwill Leyba is such a female powerhouse! I love her attitude and outlook on life, just living your truth and going for what you want. Her shows are a combination of interviews with influential women and solo pieces on “styling your life”- whether you’re thinking about starting a new business endeavor, having a tough conversation, or how to make yourself shine at your best, Cara shares her insight on it through her lens.

    Art of Charm– this podcast was originally created for men as a way to help them get more comfortable and confident around women, however it has evolved into a show that provides value to both men & women. AJ and Johnny cover topics like “The Art of…the First Impression, Body Language“, “Leading with Value” and they share interviews with experts about how to provide more value to ourselves and building our own confidence. This one has become one of my favorites because of the diversity and practicality of the lessons.

    Mixmash Radio– for my EDM lovers, my favorite DJ, Laidback Luke, has a monthly podcast sharing his favorite dance floor hits and bangers from his record labels. I highly recommend for road trips, workouts, and anytime you need some good tunes.

    Podcasts are how I start my mornings during the week and they take me on long car rides to pass the time more productively. These are some of my go-to’s…what podcasts do you guys love?

    Mid-summer check in

    How is it mid-July already? It seems like winter and spring ran away from me and now I blinked and we’re more than halfway through July. I had always heard that time goes fast as you get older, but I didn’t imagine LIGHT SPEED. Alas…here we are. And how are you?
    What things have you done for yourself lately? In what ways are you moving your body, making it stronger and healthier? What kinds of new, nourishing foods have you tried? Who have you been surrounding yourself with? And most importantly, how do you feel?

    I had a revelation earlier this season about how the things we experience, the lives we are creating, second-by-second, are only moments in time. Yes, I know this is obvious and has been said over and over again, however by taking some time to sit and just watch time and people pass the same spot made me realize it more than ever. That spot I watched on the Santa Monica Pier has hundreds of people pass through it everyday- silly conversations, embarrassing moments, laughs shared, food spilled, so many different languages all at that same spot in ever-changing instances. After that group of people left, another came, and so on…time comes and goes.
    So many are obsessed with creating meticulous lives to present to others and appear a certain way. Say and do all the right things. Always look polished and put together.
    I say…relaaaax. There is no fun in going through the motions and worrying in our minds about what we should’ve done differently, what those people think about us, or anything like that. IT DOESN’T MATTER. Time is flying by us, let’s take control of the things that we have control over.

    Circling back to this mid-summer check in…
    This year has been incredible. I’ve made wonderful memories with my friends and family, got to explore new places, take on new challenges, meet new people, and I’ve been building my business slowly but successfully. It feels damn good! Recently though I have been feeling down on myself about not looking or feeling the way I want. Over the last few months, my body composition has changed in an unfavorable way. As a personal trainer, I take that as a loss. However, it’s exhilarating to know that I’m still in control. If I’m not digging the way the way I feel, I have the power to change it- and I will! I’m learning to embrace and own these changes that my body is going through, and remembering this is just a moment in time.

    I have lived a food-focused life for the 27 years I’ve been on this planet. It’s a constant focus on what meal is next, what snacks should I bring, what kind of food will be there, etc.
    How about living a internally-focused life? Keeping thoughts of:
    how does this actually make me feel?
    -how are my energy levels?
    -will I be happy with this decision at the end of the day?

    Seems simple enough, but we often fail to take a moment to internalize our options, decisions and their outcomes.

    This is just part of my own journey…what things are you guys celebrating or struggling with? I encourage you to reflect and realize how you’re feeling, welcome these emotions and know that you have control of the options that will keep them constant or change them. You are not stuck and you are great.

    Don’t wait for the perfect moment, create it.

    How many of us have that thing we want to get started on but we’re waiting for that perfect time to make our first move?
    We want it to feel easy and comfortable. We want to have all the tools and feel fully prepared before we go all in.
    New flash: that “perfect time” may never come.

    My philosophy for things like this is: “If they can do it, so can I.”
    We are all capable human beings, no one is better than anyone. We have the same opportunities to learn and grow like anyone else. Those people that we see in the positions that we want to be in, doing out-of-this-world stuff had to get started somewhere. Be bold and take that first step. Then the next one and the next one.

    If you’re unsure of how to do it …they say the best way to learn to is to get thrown right in. You might feel like a chicken with its head cut off at first. It’s okay not to know everything. Try things, see what works, what doesn’t, and learn along the way.
    Through these experiences, by making yourself vulnerable and taking that leap into the unknown, you become more resilient and knowledgeable.
    As long as you have passion and truly care about what you are doing, the only way you’ll fail is if you stop.

    Whatever it is that you are working for- getting yourself healthy for your family, fitting into that bikini, building a business, finding a partner, furthering your education, showcasing a hidden hobby…now is the time.
    How many more times will you say “tomorrow”?

    Don’t wait for the perfect moment, create it.

    I encourage you to make mistakes. Ask for help when you need it. Be adaptable, because plans change. And have faith that what you want is totally achievable.

    Healthy knees, strong legs

    Time to talk about knee-dominant exercises aka squats, lunges and all of the many variations. These exercises are part of the fundamentals of movement. Whether you’re after those gainz in the squat rack, sweating it out in a group fitness class, or just taking the stairs. We often don’t realize how often we are doing squats and lunges throughout our day, so having proper alignment and awareness as we perform these movements will make life smoother and keep us moving longer.

    Let’s talk about those glutes…they are the powerhouse to these movements. While the quads and other surrounding muscles are working in these exercises, glute activation is crucial. I’d recommend waking up those glutes before performing these knee-dominant exercises.
    Mini band walks and hip bridges are my go-to’s for this purpose. Feel free to explore variations of these or any other way you like to get your glutes fired up and ready to work!

    Tight hips don’t lie! If your hips are tight, painful, and/or immobile, you might find that squats and lunges don’t feel that great. Try foam rolling your quads and hips before starting a workout. A few light stretches like leg swings, or the couch stretch will help your hips/legs move the way they really want to!
    If you have unhappy knees, seek out help from a professional to check out your movement pattern and help you correct any dysfunction that could be leading to the pain.

    Now that we’ve talked about prerequisites a little bit…squats and lunges!! What are we looking for in these exercises?
    -upper body posture is tall & relaxed
    -core is braced and on
    -weight is shifted towards your heels
    -knees are bent at about a 90 degree angle at the bottom position
    -feeling the work in glutes and quads

    During your workouts, it’s great to incorporate a combination of squats and lunges to keep the balance between bilateral and unilateral for improved balance, coordination and strength.

    A “leg day” workout might look something like this:
    Foam roll
    Core & glute activation
    20 alternating steps ups (with or without load)
    3 x 12 goblet squats
    3 x 1:00 hand plank
    3 x 20 alternating reverse lunges (with or without load)
    3 x :30 side planks
    3 x 12 squat thrusters
    3 x 12 lateral lunges
    3 x :45 slow mountain climbers
    15-30 minutes cardio
    5-10 minutes stretch
    BOOM. Super simple, but effective workout. Pick weights that push you to burn and feel challenged after each set.

    If you’re unsure of any of these exercises or need assistance, I recommend finding a fitness professional to ask for help- not YouTube. A human eye is better than someone that doesn’t know you or how you move.

    #funtfact: The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation.

    Traveling? Good…keep moving

    Summer is upon us and it feels so good, doesn’t it? I know I’ve been taking advantage of the warmer weather and longer days. You may be getting ready to go on vacation or take some business trips this summer, don’t use it as an excuse to let go of your movements and workouts- they’re still important!
    I don’t want you to feel stressed about getting your workouts in while you’re supposed to be relaxing, but you know you feel so much better when you do things that make you feel strong, mobile and proud.

    Here are a few ways to stay active and feeling good while you’re away and traveling:

    HYDRATE. Drink extra water while flying and after you’ve arrived at your destination. Dehydration is an easy way to feel fatigued and asking for a headache.
    Especially if your vacation involves alcohol, aim for a 1:1 ratio of alcoholic beverage and water…your body thanks you now.

    STRETCH. While you’re at the airport get some calf stretches in, stretch those quads, bring your arms overhead and get some side bends going on. Afraid of looking weird? I bet those people are wishing they were moving and feeling good like you do!
    Hotel rooms are a great place for yoga. If you don’t have a mat, grab a bath towel and lay it out. Find a video on YouTube to follow or guide yourself through whatever your body is calling for.

    WORK THOSE MUSCLES. You’ve been working out leading up to this trip, don’t quit now. If you don’t have access to a gym, pushups, bodyweight squats/lunges, and planks are a great way to get a sweat. AND they can be done anytime, anywhere…don’t be shy, you might inspire someone else to get moving.

    GET ALL THE STEPS. Walking is highly underrated as a form of movement and cardio. Carry your phone around with you or wear your fitness tracker to track your activity, aim to get the same amount that you would in a normal day. If you’re not sure, 10,000 steps is always a good benchmark for a day of movement.

    EAT FRESH. No, not Subway. Eat fresh and colorful foods. I’m sure you won’t be eating as clean or on routine like you normally would, but eating crappy will make you feel crappy. Try to avoid extra salty foods and eating late at night, those things will definitely not make you feel great.

    Overall, keep it simple. Stick with things that make you look and feel your best. This is your vacation/time away, we wouldn’t want to spend time worrying about what you look like or feeling crappy because of an alcohol or food hangover. Keep moving, feed yourself well and be kind to yourself…you deserve it.

    #funfact: July is national blueberry month!

    Shifting your perspective

    A simple shift of your perspective can completely change your outlook and attitude about an event, your job and your personal life. When you dread going to the gym or heading to your job, I’d imagine that your workout or day at work might not be that pleasant…what if I told you that you have control over that whole experience?

    Your mind is a powerful place. Fostering negative feelings can feel heavy and affect how you interact with your loved ones, coworkers and even strangers. As you go throughout your day, pay attention to your thoughts. Are you cursing at the drivers on the road?…at least you have that car to get you from place to place. Rolling your eyes at having to attend to a customer at work?…be happy that you have your job and do the best you can!

    Your day is what you make it.

    In our everyday lives we run into obstacles and struggles- everyone does. How you react to it makes all the difference. You can gripe or complain about how things aren’t going your way, but what is that doing for you? Take that energy and turn it to positivity and productivity. You have the opportunity to learn and become successful like anyone else. You, too, can overcome tough and trying times. Realize that you’re not the only one that has dealt with this situation and you’ll be okay too.

    When someone is rude to you, or seems to ignore you when you say hi, realize that everyone has their own lives going on. Don’t take it personally. Maybe they’re going through a tough time or has a stressful project at work that they’re thinking about, they’re not out to just be mean to you. Don’t get me wrong, there are some rotten people out there, but they are the way they are for a reason. Let that be their problem, don’t let someone’s rudeness dim your light.

    Working in the fitness industry, I encounter mostly positive people that understand the importance of practicing gratitude. However there are still some people that moan & groan about having to come in and workout, I reply with “no, you GET to workout”. Having access to a gym and having your health to be able to move is an incredible opportunity that many wish they had. Even if you are injured, there are always ways to still move your body. Just have to think outside the box!

    The bottom line is that life is so good. Find that silver lining in situations that leave you feeling defeated. It might take some soul searching, but I promise that there is always something to be grateful for. Shift your perspective and realize that you’re in control of your thoughts and path.

    #funfact: 2018 is the first year Russia has hosted the World Cup.