Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"I'm fine."

Is your life really fine? I know when I say it, I'm lying to myself. Usually, I'm pretty pissed off if I'm using the phrase, "I'm fine."

At the gym today, I caught myself answering the often benign question, "How are you?" with that horribly polite and boring response. Normally, I would have a more upbeat retort like, "I'm really good!" even though any Tony Robbins follower or ex-marine should always respond with "OUTSTANDING!" But I digress...

I wondered what my problem was and it could be a few things:
1. Los Angeles has been enjoying the HOTTEST temperatures in history this week. (115 degrees. Seriously?)
2. Several clients canceled their personal training sessions for numerous reasons (i.e. "I'm sick" or "I've got a headache" or "Oh, I forgot I had class..."). I try to make client cancellations no reflection upon my value as a trainer but if I'm honest with myself I would have to admit that I take it personally. I worry that I'm not inspiring them enough or they aren't seeing fast enough results because I'm missing something that could help them improve.
3. I just got back from visiting family in Chicago and relishing my 8th grade Reunion (which was awesome and hysterical and you can ask me about it if you like, I've got photos :) And while I'm there, I always make it standard practice to indulge in Chicago food. Not only did I enjoy my favorite pizza (Father & Son on North Avenue. Anyone?) but I also had a couple hot dogs (Vienna Beef, of course), White Castle and my delicious local ice-cream parlor which happens to be a couple blocks from my sister's house. Let's just say I had A LOT of ice cream for just visiting for five days.

Even though I went for a couple long walks and worked out with my sister, I have to say that I know the food affected me. Not so much the increase in calories but the LACK of nutrition in my delicious Chicago fare. And as I stated above, I could have a couple reasons for feeling kinda poopy but I believe that I'm still reeling from sugar withdrawl and all the vital nutrients so blatantly omitted from the severely processed food I associate with my home town. I LOVE that crap. I really do. But I'm also keenly aware that I could not continue to eat like most 8th graders... or I'll suffer the consequences of depressed moods, increased body fat, dulling complexion, decrease in concentration, etc. Could my mood have something to do with the weather or my work? Sure. But I try to empower myself with the stuff I can control... which is my food and activity level.

As I stated in my last blog, I'm going to share some of my strategies for living a healthy life while enjoying love, too. While being apart from my boyfriend on my visit, we talked on the phone every night. I admitted that I was completely enjoying myself like an addict about to go into rehab and that I need his help and support when I returned to LA.

1. I think it's so key to have your sweetheart on board with a diet plan even if THEY aren't going to be eating what you eat... at least they can encourage and support your choices (especially when you start begging for a cheeseburger and a Dove bar). Luckily, my boyfriend is pretty amazing and he's down with the chicken breast, broccoli, brown rice and salad thing.

2. I try to make grocery shopping fun. Now before you scoff, let me ask you something. Are there any fruits or vegetables in the produce section that you have never bought because you don't know what it is and how to eat it? You know what I'm talking about. I try to grab a new piece of mystery fruit and we try it out together. It makes things fun.

3. Perhaps if I had a larger TV I'd spend more time in front of it, but I try to make quality time with my love AWAY from the TV. Have you ever used the excuse that you don't have time to workout? Have you ever used the excuse that you don't have special evenings with your honey? Are you watching TV together all the time? Could you possibly make a little change there and try it out? Just sayin'...

So, I'm back home in LA and getting back on track with my body, my work and my partner. But I really did enjoy my vacation :) I wouldn't have changed a thing.

How about you? Any thoughts?

Health & Happiness,
~Zen

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Quick Fix

You know what's disturbing? It's so easy to take out my frustrations on those people closest to me, like my boyfriend.  If I'm feeling upset about my day and he's around, it's very hard to switch off my emotions without venting first. And I know that he only wants to make my happy again. So what's an easy fix?

"Hey honey, why don't we go get a nice dinner tonight?" or "I'm sorry your day sucked. Would you like to go get a slurpee?" or "Don't worry about it. How about a nice piece of cake from the bakery down the street?"

Food is such a quick fix and that's why it's so easy to say, "Yes! Great idea!" That dose of carbohydrates DOES momentarily take the sting away. But that quick fix is often replaced by self-loathing shortly thereafter. And then the mood crashes and the problems remain and in the meantime, love handles are threatening to make an appearance. Great.

There are many people in the fitness industry that live without sugar. They don't crave it. And I've been there before when I'm "on the job" and I'm eating clean all week long. But part of me NEVER wants to give up the joys of eating my favorite meals and desserts. I love chocolate and I don't want to live without it. I think that's the reason why I really sympathize with new exercisers and dieters. Plus, it's even harder to get on the wagon when you've got one of your favorite people suggesting an endorphin-rushing treat to make you feel better in the moment.

But there ARE healthy solutions! I've seen plenty of happy couples that manage to stay in good shape and enjoy themselves, too. I'm going to post a few ideas in my next blog but I'd love to hear yours.

Health & Happiness,
~Zen

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Marriage Fat

A couple women mentioned that since they met their husbands, they put on a few pounds AFTER the wedding. I totally get it. The wedding photos are a huge incentive to say "No!" to cupcakes... but like Nicole says, "Unfortunately, I can't really get married every other year to keep that threat of not fitting in the dress in mind." And Sarah @ See Sarah Eat admits, "I got up to my highest weight ever the year following my wedding. So, yeah it is true."

Are you doomed to get fat if you get married?

I've never been married and I used to have a bucket full of issues with the idea of marriage.  One of those issues involved associating wedding vows with a bulging belly (and I don't mean the kind with a bouncy baby inside). It was NOT something I wanted especially with a career in fitness. Now, is that REALITY? Of course not. Not everyone who says "I do" also says "seconds, please!" Hell, you don't have to have another helping as you age to see the numbers on the scale creep up. That's just part of the fun of getting older! (I hope you note my sarcasm here.)

No, I unfairly judged the institution of marriage instead of the lifestyle choices that changed a bit when the women I knew got married. And apparently, I also had a selective memory because I do know several women who have gotten in better shape since they've been married. My sister-in-law looks awesome over ten years after the wedding and three kids later. And both her married sisters have gotten in better shape after getting married and having kids, too. (Congrats to YOU, ladies!!!) But I will say this... a slimmer waistline does not happen by accident.

So, what is the secret? From my years as a fitness coach as well as an observant sister-in-law, I see that the key is planning. A perfect workout time slot is not going to magically present itself in your busy day. Healthy snacks won't just appear at your desk or in your car when a hunger craving tries to derail your weight loss efforts. Just because your sweetheart can eat a huge steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, drink a goblet of soda and have a decadent dessert without self-loathing doesn't mean your body will react the same way (and I doubt he will feel very good eating like that for too long, either).

Studies show that those who keep the weight off have the most success with a morning workout ritual. Do you have one? Do you want one? Are you pushing aside some activity so you can have some quality time with your honey? If you need a little incentive (besides avoiding extra body fat), let me just say that MOST men get more frisky after an exercise session. Just sayin'...

Any other planning ideas that have worked... or NOT worked... for you in the past? I'm definitely taking notes here... because like I said, I USED to have issues with marriage, but I've worked through most of them. I'm actually looking forward to that possibility now.

Health & Happiness,
~Zen

Friday, September 3, 2010

Holiday Binging - one day or four?

I don't know about you, but when a holiday is coming up and I'm in a relationship, I rarely stick to the idea that it's just a one-day celebration. Take this weekend, for instance. It's Labor Day this Monday... but we refer to it as "Labor Day Weekend." Most people I know are getting off work a little early today (Friday) and are planning on thoroughly enjoying themselves from Happy Hour tonight to when they collapse from BBQ overload on Monday evening. 

See if this scenario sounds familiar to you...

Wake up Friday morning to get ready for work.... but you may have stayed up a little late last night because you know that it will be an "easy" day because it's a holiday weekend. You may even treat yourself to a little frothy, mocha, latte, frapafataccino with whipped cream, caramel and fudge laced over the top.... because, hey, let's hang with the co-workers since it's bullsh*t that you're still in the office when you should have already gotten on the road to avoid holiday traffic. That coffee drink break is a both a little treat to start the celebration as well as a slightly rebellious symbol of freedom because "you're an adult and you can eat whatever you want, dammit!" And you're excited to get home and finally RELAX and enjoy your quality time with your sweetheart.

It's not even noon yet and a few bad habits are starting:
1. Not enough sleep makes you crave more calories (and caffeine) to compensate for being tired.
2. The celebration begins even though the "holiday" isn't until Monday.
3. You're using food as a reward and compensation instead of fuel... not a very healthy association that can backfire over weeks and months of "treating yourself".
4. You're setting up the context of the entire weekend with the first "meal" of the day... so you will be more inclined to say, "Screw it! I'm on vacation!" for the rest of the weekend.

Let me ask you... do you think you're MORE likely to indulge the rest of the weekend when you are hanging out with your partner? Are you MORE likely to sleep in and skip a morning workout when it's a holiday weekend and good lovin' is just a snuggle away and there's no alarm clock for three whole days? And do you have any EXTRA obligations that come with your partner's world? (Like HIS parents, siblings or friends so you can't just focus on the stuff you'd like to do?)

That's all I'm saying. It's not that love isn't FABULOUS. It's just that it's so much easier to push your healthy commitments aside when you want to celebrate. And I always feel like celebrating MORE when I'm in love... and there always seems to be more people to see and things to do when I'm in a relationship.

When I'm totally single, I can go to my brother's for the BBQ on Monday but the weekend can be spent sleeping in (and really SLEEPING!) and I can get in a leisurely workout or a hike and not be rushed. Plus, if I indulge on Friday morning with some kind of treat, I can get back on track easier when I only have to worry about MY meals and MY entertainment for rest of the weekend.

So, how do you fix it? For me, awareness is key. Notice when you decide to stay at home instead of go dancing. Notice when you skip healthy activities because you want to cuddle instead. Notice when you 'celebrate' on your own as well as WITH your partner. Splitting a dessert is a GREAT strategy when you're in love. Don't skip out on your workouts. Learn to cook a meal together with fresh veggies. And ladies, try a pole-dancing class... trust me.

Would love to hear if you AGREE or if you have found any other strategies that work for you.

Health & Happiness,
~Zen

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Fat

I love happy fat. You know what I'm talking about... the "let's-just-stay-home-and-get-fettucini-alfredo-and-then-lick-chocolate-gelato-off-each-other" kind of happy fat. It's awesome and I have NO JUDGMENT of you if you've enjoyed your lazy, indulgent days full of yummy goodness. For me, great food is a part of celebrating life and I embrace those sybaritic moments of hedonism.

But engage in that lifestyle for too long and you'll have a muffin top before you can say, "Nutella crepes!" (Have you tried those? omg... so awesome... )

Anyway, my point is that I totally get the food thing. I'm not the cleanest eater 100% of the time but I strive for balance. My boyfriend (tee hee... it's a new relationship so please wish me joy and luck and all that stuff) just had his birthday week (Yeah, you get a birthday week! Did you know that?) and we ate cake at least four times (or was it five?). 

So, you know what's on the menu this week? Veggies. Lots and lots of veggies. Right now I'm doing these artichokes in the slow cooker with just lemon, garlic and tons of Italian seasoning. When they're finished cooking, I will dribble a little olive oil on them and sprinkle some Parmesan on top. Seriously delicious with a little bit of healthy oil, tons of fiber and chock full of nutrients. Plus they take a while to eat so you can't scarf down too much before you start feeling full. Have you ever tried one? If you haven't, they're pretty fun and unique to eat. You scrape the soft edge of the leaves over your teeth and discard the rest on a plate... then you chop off the pointy stuff in the middle (the choke) and eat the soft artichoke heart underneath it.

So, that's how I maintain some balance after the happy fat attempts to make another appearance. Heck, even Michelle Obama admitted in a recent online chat that she and her husband gained weight when they first got married. (Yeah, go Barack!) Of course, she attributed it to being two busy working professionals but I've got my own theories. And the First Lady's answer to their weight gain struggle was (drum roll please....) to cook one meal a week at home and drink more water. Anyway... how about you? Any great recipes you'd like to share? How about "new love" stories? I love those :)

Health & Happiness,
~Zen

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Love Makes You Fat

Love makes you fat! I recognize that my declaration upsets people... but I've got PROOF now!

As a fitness professional and serial monogamist, I have noticed some trends over the years not only in MY body but in my clients' bodies as well. I'm here to talk about it and, more importantly, discuss what can be DONE about it.

Your relationship DOES affect your body weight... especially if you 're a woman.

Have you noticed some weight creep since you moved in with your loved one? I bet you have.

This blog is dedicated to the sharing of stories, struggles, strategies and successes of those of us who want to KEEP the love... but lose the love handles.

I'm looking forward to helping you (and myself) find that balance.

Health & Happiness,
~Zen