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Why I’m over calorie counting

Aaron and I have found ourselves in somewhat of a Sunday ritual. He watches River Monsters on Animal Planet while I make my grocery list. I interrupt him with comments purposely meant to annoy him and he rolls his eyes and ignores me for the most part. Last weekend my obnoxious probing was somewhat of a repeat. I found myself imitating a hyperbolic version of a dude at the gym (think Amy Shumer’s body building boyfriend in Trainwreck), asking things like Hey bro, how much can you bench? or Hey bruh, you get all your macros in today?

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If you're just starting your fitness journey, protein supplements are something worth looking into. This post covers everything you need to know about protein supplements. When to take them, how often and much more! Click through or save this pin for later!

Protein supplements: The beginner’s guide

This post was inspired by my former fear of protein supplements. I specifically remember asking Aaron one day if I had to start drinking one of those ‘gross drinks’ he was always toting around. However, once I got my first tub of FitMiss Delight in Vanilla Chai, I was pretty much hooked. It turned into a sweet post-workout reward that I actually found myself looking forward to.

The questions below are very similar to the ones I asked Aaron when I started quizzing him about protein supplements, and I hope they help you too!

Most people feel that protein supplements are only for guys.This is terribly false. Women should also take protein supplements regularly.

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Your meals can make or break your workout. Follow these guidelines when deciding what to eat before your workout. Click this pin or save it for later!

What to eat before your workout

I often get questions regarding what to eat before your workout. Because food and energy needs vary from person to person, from workout to workout and by time of day, I typically recommend keeping a food journal. However, there are a few guidelines that you can start out with. Pay attention to how your workout feels after eating different types of foods. Also, pay attention to how you feel for the rest of the week. Your best food journal will not only include what you eat, but also what your workouts look like and how you feel both during and after your fitness routine.

Yogurt is healthy, can I eat that before my workout?

My first recommendation is avoid dairy within 60 minutes before your workout. I can’t be all sciencey about this or give you big names to explain why it’s a bad idea, but I can say from personal and client experience it is a bad idea. I have eaten things such as yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, and some even regular cheese. Most times if these are eaten within the 60 minutes it causes intestinal distress or gas. Just don’t do it!

My protein shake is made from dairy, what about that?

I have been asked about protein shakes before workouts. Yes, whey and casein proteins are both derivatives of dairy products, but I do think these are ok depending on the type of workout you are about to do and how you feel after drinking these regularly. If you need something light before a morning working, a protein shake could be the way to go.

I never know what to eat before a morning workout.

I consider early morning anything before breakfast. Now this is a tricky one and it will take some experimenting, but here are a couple ideas that might work depending on what kind of workout you are doing. If you’re doing cardio, avoid liquids (so a shake may not be the best idea for this one). Eat something like fruit. The quick digesting sugars and quick digesting carbs are perfect for energy early in the morning and they won’t make your stomach upset. Another option is to grab a handful of almonds or a small granola bar pre-workout.

I like to work out on my lunch break. What and when should I eat?

At this time of day you will have already had something to eat and your blood will already be flowing from being up and moving. (Make sure you eat your breakfast!) A snack or late breakfast should be enough to get you through. You can have some sort of snack up to 30 minutes before your workout. Almonds, fruit, an amino acid drink or even coffee would be perfect for this.

What about after my workout?

Within 30 minutes of ending your workout, whether it’s cardio or weightlifting, you need to eat some protein. This is prime absorption time for your muscles and it will help you recover and build quality muscle after you are done. I recommend drinking a protein shake afterwards, but if you don’t like to drink those, then something as simple as an apple and some almonds is perfect. After that in another 30 to 60 min you will want to have a big meal whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Do you have a fitness or health related question? Let us know in the comments below!

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Mini habits will help you start working out

My workout schedule was formed by one accidental habit.

I don’t know one person who hasn’t struggled with a workout plan that feels like a seesaw. Up and down, with its peaks in January and April; and lows from November to December. Even those who have been able to overcome the seesaw likely remember a time when they too had to navigate that playground of distraction.

A couple of years ago I was on the seesaw. Really, I’d been on the seesaw since I’d been old enough to understand that eating too much and exercising too little was supposedly recipe for disaster. Now looking back on photos from ages 14-22 makes me want to go back in time to tell my younger self to eat those carbs, yes, all of them… Enjoy them while you can… with a milkshake!” Now, at age 26 it really WAS time to cut back on life’s edible gifts. Unfortunately I was also going through a breakup and there was a lot of alcohol to be consumed and fried foods to be had.

I’d been on the seesaw since I’d been old enough to understand that eating too much and exercising too little was recipe for disaster.

I had just started working out with a personal trainer who I had an embarrassingly obvious crush on. Because my new single status also meant I didn’t really have much of a life in the evenings, I found myself… I wouldn’t say stalking…. I would refer to it as innocently visiting the gym on a more regular basis to do really easy workouts. Sometimes I would start my workout, realize he wasn’t there and then force myself to finish because certainly everyone would know I was there to see him if I didn’t.

After awhile I found myself trying a little harder every time I went to the gym. I’d already done the hard part. I was inside the gym, I might as well get in a good workout. I also found myself visiting the gym even when I knew cute trainer boy wouldn’t be there. I didn’t realize it at the time, but finally, all of the inputs I needed to form a habit were present.

After awhile I found myself trying a little harder every time I went to the gym.

While I can’t give all of you a hot personal trainer to encourage you to form a healthy gym habit, I can help you re-create this scenario in your own way.

I’ve been reading a lot about how to start habits lately. One of my favorite takeaways is from BJ Fogg who actually put together an equation for creating habits which is this:

B=mat

B= behavior

M=motivation

A=ability

T=trigger

Motivation, ability and a trigger are all needed to create a new behavior. In my case, my behavior was changed because I was motivated by the cute trainer, I always had the ability to workout on a regular basis (and so do you!), and the trigger was his work schedule (he worked A LOT, so I was all set).

The last important piece of creating goals is the reward. My reward at the beginning was seeing the cute boy… and toward the end it was the feeling of accomplishment and endorphin rush I got after a good workout

As I mentioned above, I can’t recreate this, but I find that whenever I want to start a new healthy habit, motivation is what I can’t keep around on a consistent basis. So, my new process for habit creation is all about the mini habit. I learned about this after reading Mini Habits by Stephen Guise. Also, BJ Fogg has a great Ted Talk about his Tiny Habits. The gist is this: Commit yourself to a habit that is too easy to fail. Here are some examples:

  • Do one pushup a day
  • Drink one glass of water a day
  • Walk around the block once a day
  • Meditate for 5 minutes

By creating a mini habit you have both the ability and the motivation to move toward your larger goals. Soon, you’ll find yourself adding on to your mini goals and creating new ones. So far I’ve added 2 new mini habits to my daily routine. At 2pm every day I add $5 to my savings account and right before bed I stretch. These habits are so simple… but that’s the idea! Now I have no excuses to skip them.

Checkout BJ Fogg’s Ted Talk or read Mini Habits and let us know which habits you’ve started!

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Note: If you click through one of our links and then make a purchase, we will receive a small commission. Yay! Please note that this commission does not affect your purchase price. Also note that we think you’re really cool for clicking on our links.

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Don't give up on your workout goals. Use these guidelines to develop goals that stick. These three tips will help you start your fitness journey. Read them now or save them for later!

3 guidelines for sticky goals

I want to start off this post by saying no matter what your fitness goal is, there is no one right way to go about achieving that goal. But, there are certain universal rules like you can’t eat 2 pizzas and drink a case a beer a day and not have a beer gut.

I just moved to Columbus a few weeks ago and during that weekend the Arnold Sports Festival was in town. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this festival, it’s a 4-day event that draws in fitness fanatics from around the world, specifically those interested in body building and fitness competitions.

Now, normally this is my cup of tea since I am a personal trainer and sport performance coach. But I found myself seeing all that is wrong with what this festival promotes. Don’t get me wrong, I do think seeing the models and competitors striving to look fit and ‘perfect’ is not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t believe it’s a sustainable lifestyle for a normal person.

If that is not your lifestyle, here are some general guidelines to start a plan and then stick to it. Just remember to start small and then build on these goals. Expecting yourself to run before you walk will lead to small let-downs that can discourage you right off the bat.

be consistent

Whatever your goal: weight loss, muscle building, or even just a start at a healthy lifestyle, you have to start being consistent. This could start as small as eating a low calorie dinner 3 times a week and nothing after, to going for a 1 mile walk before work in the morning. They can be extreme like not eating over 1400 calories for all 7 days. The more often you do something, the easier it will be to continue. If your goal is to work out 4 times a week, try making it a goal to just be physically in a gym 6 days a week. Getting there is the first step and the more often you do it, the more likely you will feel like something is missing if you don’t do it.

Related: 6 common workout beginner mistakes

Set fitness goals you don’t hate

I love having goals and aspirations. I think they apply to every facet of life and fitness and health is no different. But your fitnesss goals must be most firstly: attainable and secondly: fun to do. An example of a bad goal is: I want to lose 20 lbs. in two weeks and do nothing but starve myself and do cardio.

This is bad for a couple of reasons. One: that’s no fun at all. (I’ll be the first to tell you I hate cardio). And two: if you are somehow successfully, when you go back to a regular diet and lifestyle you’ll gain everything back and more. An example of a good goal is: I want to lose 5 lbs. in two weeks. It’s getting to be spring outside so I’ll obtain this by going for an extra walk or jog or walk outside and I’ll swap my usual high calorie lunch out for a lower calorie salad. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll enjoy seeing the results and you will be more motivated to build from there.

Do things together

Having someone else to serve as a support system can be a very powerful weapon. Finding someone who will motivate you and not convince you that it’s OK to miss your mark is key. If you and your other person are on the same page then the goals are much easier to achieve, and not to mention much more fun. Walk the halls on your lunch break at work or commit to going for that dreaded 6am run before work. An accountability partner will make you feel like you’re committed to somebody other than yourself.

I hope this helps and remember, no matter how you approach your first goals, be consistent, make it fun and do it together.

-Aaron

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It’s so easy to ignore healthy habits while your brain is saying ‘mmm, piña colada!’ We think it’s actually MORE important to stay active and healthy during vacation so that you don’t spend the week feeling off balance. These 5 tips will help you enjoy vacay even more. Read now or save this for later!

5 ways to stay healthy on vacation

Vacation is hard work.

We know we deserve it and we know it’s necessary to take a break, relax and indulge a little (or a lot). Unfortunately, the easiest way to put a damper on a beach vacay is the sluggishness that hits you at 2pm. That’s when you realized you’re hot, sweaty and 3 margaritas in and all you want to do is take a siesta–air conditioning on full-blast.

It’s so easy to forget that while your brain is saying ‘mmm, piña colada!’ today, usually at this time you’re about to hop on a treadmill. We think it’s actually MORE important to stay active and healthy during vacation so that you don’t spend the week feeling off balance or worse… just asleep. Think about it, exercise gives you energy and endorphins. Take those away and add some drinks, a little dehydration and the hot sun and you’re definitely not set up for a superb holiday.

Aaron and I took a quick trip to Cancun last week. We booked it 2 weeks in advance and found an awesome deal. Apparently, so did about 2,000 college spring breakers. Let me be honest. We saw a lot of boobs. Luckily, we’re both only slightly out of our college years and not yet NOT down with the times, I guess. We were able to park ourselves on a sun bed by the beach were the college kids were prohibited and enjoyed observing the chaos.

My favorite time of day was waking up long before the hungover college partiers for a quick workout and a walk on the beach. It was gorgeous. The early wake-up call (we’re talking 8am, nothing crazy) set us up for an awesome vacation day. While there’s no way I’m going to lie to you and say we didn’t eat like a million calories and forget to count our margaritas, we were able to make the most of our 5 days with a few tricks. By the end of this post you’ll be ready for your own holiday in the sun.

Use the beach (or the trails, cliffs or parks)

Double up and forget you’re exercising by exploring your surroundings. Even just walking on a sandy beach not only works your leg muscles harder than you would on a flat surface, but you also use your core to stabilize yourself. You worked your abs pre-vacay, don’t stop now!

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Don’t underestimate the hotel gym

At first glance, our hotel gym was terrible. It was tiny and about 20 degrees hotter than it was outside (sweat more, burn more calories!). Luckily though, we went early. Tiny gyms are great for quick circuits that get you in and out quickly. There were a couple of stationary bikes so we did this circuit: 1 minute bike, 10 squats, 10 jump lunges for 15 minutes. We followed that with 10 shoulder presses followed by 10 crunches for an additional 10 minutes.

Related: Our three best 30 minute workouts!

Join in

Vacation is the best time to dip your toes into things like Water Aerobics and Zumba. Why? Because if you look like a fool no one knows you and everyone’s drunk anyway. Check with the front desk or the concierge to ask if there’s a class schedule. Some hotels also have partnerships with gyms in the area to provide discounts to guests

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Jump (and walk) the Waves

Don’t knock it until you know how many calories you’ll burn. Water walking burns 563 calories per hour. Add some wave jumping to that and you’re doing even better. Yes. You’ll look silly. Yes. People will laugh at you. Just hang on to your shorts.

Go for a Swim

There aren’t many exercises that work almost all of the muscles in your body at the same time. I’ve always been a fan of swimming (I’m an Aquarius). Get up before there are children in the pool and get your workout in.

Add just one or two of these tricks to your vacation routine. We promise we won’t ask you to do anything else during your time off! And leave a comment with your own tips for the best vacation day ever!

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This off-day recovery workout will help keep you active on your rest days. Use this workout to work up a little bit of a sweat, but don't push yourself too hard. Save this pin for your next rest day and click through for a FREE workout planner.

Off day recovery workout

Hello again. As I sit here today with all of my muscles sore and achy, I also have this drive and excitement of starting a new fitness routine that I have never done before. It has given me a challenge and that is something I have not had since college when I was in competitive athletics.

I want to go back into the gym but there is no way another workout of that intensity would be anything except detrimental to my body. So now what to do? I have two options one: do something in my living room or two: stop by the clubhouse of my apartment complex and do something low impact that still gives me a challenge.

Because I live on the second floor I think I will respect the neighbors and get on an elliptical. Here is a workout for an off day or an active rest day. This is also great if you’re looking for a low-impact cardio workout. Best of all you can watch your favorite 30 minute show and have it finished by the end.

Make sure speed is moderate for you. Shouldn’t be killer but should work up a little sweat.

– Aaron

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What’s your marathon?

Hey there, this is Aaron. As a lifelong sports nut, I’ve never really gotten into writing and nerdy stuff but I am going to give it my best shot.

As a personal trainer, I see many different types of people with many different goals and aspirations. None of them are better or worse than another, just different. What needs to happen no matter your point in the journey and wherever the end point, your goal must be specific and attainable. It sounds so simple but it is crazy how many times I have been in a first-time session and had to help steer a client in the right direction. When you commit to a goal, be specific, decide when you’ll get it done, and break the goal up into smaller parts.

When you commit to a goal, be specific, decide when you’ll get it done, and break the goal up into smaller parts.

I know everyone knows the saying ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint,’ and in the fitness world it couldn’t be truer. During a marathon the end goal is the finish line at mile 26.2. But what happens along the way?

You have your start. You’re all fired up you get to try out your new clothes and show everyone around you that you made this decision to race and you’re super excited about it. When you take that first step, miles 1 through 3 are awesome and fun and full of encouragement and high fives.

Then you get into miles 3 through 10. Here the initial excitement is wearing off, and now you start the grind. This is where you get 10 miles in, the first 10 lbs come off, it’s where you’re seeing results; and the work and the consistency are so important. This is where you find out what keeps you going and what small goals you can set to eventually reach your ultimate goal. Get through mile 5, do 5 more push ups, or go for 5 more minutes.

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Mile 13.1 is special. Now you are halfway through and need to look at what has worked and what you need to do to finish this thing. Maybe more weights. Maybe more rest days. Maybe join a class you have never tried just for the heck of it. From half way to the finish line it’s all about you. People on the course know you now and excitement and novelty have worn off. Now you put your head down and finish this thing.

And here is the finish line!!!! Finally all the work and time and energy has paid off. You reach that goal, throw your hands up and cheer. But here is the part no one thinks about. What’s next? Do I run this same race again? Do I look for a different town or change of scenery? Or do I change races altogether? That is up to you to decide. Once you finish one it’s so much easier to do it again because now you have the tools and drive to make it happen. Whether it’s a big transformation or mastering a certain exercise, all goals deserve the same focus and attention.

Share with us! What’s your marathon?

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Health hack: Get smarter while you workout

Sometimes getting through a workout calls for a health hack. Read on for my top three health tips and tricks for ignoring the fact that you’re exercising.

Sometimes getting through a workout calls for a health hack. Read on for three health tips and tricks for ignoring the fact that you're exercising. Or, save this pin for later!

Can we talk about my inability to properly use a playlist? Even after I finally subscribed to Spotify Premium (how did I ever live pre-Spotify?) and was able to curate the most thoughtful and organized playlists, I still found myself butchering my own hard work.

skip, skip, skip…. oh I like this song….ok, now I’m bored with this song…. skip…

I have a hard time driving passengers in my car. First, because no one is nearly as excited as I expect them to be about my new favorite song.

Second, because they always want to talk during my new favorite song. And third, because they don’t appreciate that I’m clearly looking out for them by switching to a new tune once all the good parts are over.

I will admit that while I’m working out and simultaneously trying to forget that I’m working out, my habitual song flipping gets in the way. I finally realized that there are some situations when the music is just not making things better.

Related: Mini habits will help you start working out

While I try to keep my workouts exciting, there are some times when I just need to distract myself. That’s why I decided to multi-task by nerding out during my time at the gym.

Health Hack #1: Podcasts

These are a current necessity during my workouts. There are so many I want to listen to and there just aren’t enough workout hours in they day. Podcasts are so great because you can find the ones that interest you the most.

Unlike a radio show, you can find podcasts that meet very specific interests. And best of all, they’re usually not much longer than an hour, so you won’t have to remember where you left off! I just started listening to The Bold Life Movement with Kimberly Rich and I’m a longtime fan of Nerdette Podcast and Reply All.

Health Hack #2: Listen to a book

I try my best to make reading  a priority, whether it’s fiction for fun or non-fiction for personal growth. I downloaded Audible and can get through 5 hours of a book in some weeks just from my workouts.

Most of the books I read range between 12 and 18 hours so I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. My recent favorite book (and one I pretty much recommend to strangers I meet on the street) is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. You will not regret listening to this one.

Health Hack #3: Catch up on the news

If you’re like me and no longer own a radio outside of your car, you’re in luck because you don’t need one. If podcasts and books aren’t your thing and the idea of actually keeping up with the news is something you’ve been struggling with, you can download Tune In Radio or a similar radio app on your smartphone.

Looking for more healthy hacks? We have a whole category for ’em!

Note: If you click through one of my links and then make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. Yay! Please note that this commission does not affect your purchase price. Also note that I think you’re really cool for clicking on my links.

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How to do a squat

It’s easy to get lost in the simplicity of a squat during a workout. Step 1: sit in imaginary chair. Step 2: stand up from imaginary chair. Keeping the following notes in mind will allow you to squat with the best of ‘em!

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  1. Back should be straight and chest should be elevated
  2. Knees should not drive forward, but should remain directly above your ankles
  3. Keep your feet flat, your weight should drive through your heels. In fact, you should be able to wiggle your toes at any time
  4. Knees should stay in a straight line, don’t bend them in or out

Next try a plank and a lunge!

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