All posts by Stacey

Mama, reader, baker.

Setting realistic goals and rewards.

2013_04_14 image_goalsandrewards1To me, working out is a reward in itself. You have more energy, your overall health improves, and if you eat well, your body looks awesome! Exercising releases endorphins that make you feel happy. But when you’re just beginning, it can feel like a task that you have to push yourself to complete, and the “happy” effect is not as evident. A good way of keeping yourself motivated during the beginning stage is to encourage yourself with tangible goals and rewards.

2013_04_14 image_goalsandrewards1. WRITE THEM DOWN.

It will make an amazing amount of difference if you visually write out your goals and rewards. You can use words, phrases, and images to represent them. This also helps you remember and track your goals.

At the end of each day/week, sit down and review your goals from the past day/week and whether you met them. Then, map out your goals for the coming week. You can write goals to do each day of the week as well as things you’d like to have done by the end of the next week. These goals may be under a larger (monthly/yearly) goal such as Training for the Hot Chocolate 5k.

2. DAILY, WEEKLY, MONTHLY, YEARLY.

Creating short and long term goals for yourself is extremely important. It helps a lot if your short term goals will inevitably help you meet your long term goals. For example if your long term goal is to get into great shape and feel confident in a bikini, your short term goals could be things like Lose 5% body fat, Run first 5k marathon, or Stop dining out every day.

2013_04_14 image_goalsandrewards2
Categorize your goals!
Green – Workouts. Pink – Personal. Purple – Pets.

I like to create daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals for myself. My daily goals are basically my schedule for the day (yoga, dog training, zumba) plus tasks I need done at anytime by the end of that day (shopping, run, create a new blog entry, respond to e-mails). I do program my daily tasks into my phone so I can view it on the go, but I always write down goals that are not planned for an exact time, plus my daily tasks, on a notepad that I keep in plain view on my desk. If you have an iPhone, the iCalendar and Notes apps are amazing tools for tracking your goals and rewards. Also see my time management entry for advice on planning out your day.

Rewards can be assigned to each individual goal, or you can reward yourself at the end of a “phase” of goals, such as at the end of the week if you completed all of your daily goals every single day that week.

3. BE REALISTIC.

Your goals, especially short term ones, need to be specific. A goal of “start exercising!” or “get fit!” is not as strong as a specific goal. When are you going to do that? What are you going to do? Are you going to do it more than once? For example my goals today are to lift heavy weights at 6:00pm, drink my protein shake, then go swimming, and go to sleep by 11:00 PM.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever heard about making goals for yourself was “Don’t set yourself up for failure.” Set attainable goals. Don’t set goals that you aren’t going to reach.

4. PLAN SMART REWARDS.2013_04_14 image_goalsandrewards4

The best rewards will be the ones that will help you reach future goals. If you are training for a 5k (monthly goal), your reward after running it might be a spa day (monthly reward) to refresh your body. For not missing any runs (weekly goal) you might reward yourself with new running shoes (weekly reward). If your goal is to run 3 miles (daily goal) a good reward would be go to to bed early.

5. FOR THE STRUGGLERS.

As I mentioned, for those of us who are just starting to work out, working out can really feel like work. If you are overweight it can take a lot of energy and motivation to get you into the gym and on the treadmill to warm up, weight lifting for 30 minutes, and staying late for that 30 minutes of cardio you had planned. IF you have trouble following through with your goals, another effective rewards system is to remember not to “reward” yourself with indulgences when you haven’t yet met a goal to earn it. Finish that hour workout and reward yourself later. Remember how amazing it feels to finish a workout and then still have a prize to look forward to.

2013_04_14 image_goalsandrewards56. NEVER GIVE UP.

A lot of people give up just before the magic is about to happen, because that is when it is the hardest: you have been putting days of time and energy into working out, and you are eating twice as much, and you just don’t see any difference in your body yet. But it will help motivate you to keep going if you remember: It takes 4 weeks for you to notice the difference in your body. It takes your friends and family 8 weeks to notice. And it takes the world 12 weeks to notice.

The way your body looks is only one reason to exercise. Once your body is accustomed to working out, you will have tons of energy and feel happier. It is a scientific fact that exercise is a healthier and more effective treatment for anxiety or depression than any prescription medicine.

Until working out becomes as fun for you as it is for me, use these simple tricks to get yourself up and going. Remember, you need to stick with it even when it is hard or boring, or you will have to start from scratch again later. But if you don’t give up, pretty soon you will look forward to your workouts.

Thanks for reading! Now I want to know, what are your goals? How do you reward yourself? Do you consider your daily workout a reward? Comment below with your comments and questions!

Muscles are made in the kitchen

If you are a little confused about what a healthy diet is, I will start by telling you it does not have to be a very specific list of foods and restrictions. A clean diet can include a wide variety of things you enjoy as long as they have the right nutrients and are eating them at the right time of day. You can even slip in some dessert. You might be able to eat whatever you want and exercise enough to not gain weight, but if your diet is unhealthy you won’t lose fat and you won’t build lean muscle.

Muscles are made in the kitchen, not the gym!
Muscles are made in the kitchen, not the gym!

Contrary to popular belief, muscles are not built in the gym. While you are working out, your muscles are actually being torn down. Heavier weight or resistance to our body means more damage to our muscles. The appearance of swelling or growth after lifting weights is actually “hypertrophy” which is only temporary. It is within 30 minutes of working out that our muscles begin to use available protein to rebuild tissue.

1. Eat often!
Finding time for six small to moderately sized meals per day may be a difficult feat for some people who work long hours or attend school all day long, but aiming for at least four meals per day should be doable for everybody, and is crucial for people on a workout plan. If you can manage at least 4-6 meals per day, you will fuel your body properly as you burn fat and build muscle. I highly recommend having a large breakfast (within an hour of waking up) around 6 AM, light snack at 9 AM, moderate to large lunch at 12 PM, light snack at 4 PM, and moderate dinner at 7 PM. Adjust these times according to your sleep schedule and workout schedule.

Make sure you fuel your body properly after a workout.
Make sure you fuel your body properly after a workout.


2. Feed your muscles!

As I described above, it is important to eat protein within 30 minutes of working out. You also want to have protein for every moderate meal of the day, especially breakfast. The amount of protein your body needs depends on things such as your weight and how much you are exercising. Plenty of protein and other nutrient intake calculators can be found online.
Carbohydrates are important for energy as well. Your brain needs a certain amount of carbs each day to function, so do not deprive your body of carbs! Men digest carbs faster than women, so it is more common for women to be on a low-carb diet. Sodium should not be ingested immediately before a workout because it will cause you to dehydrate, but it is important to have during and after a long workout. Your body also requires fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.

3. Drink water all day!
Water is the most vital nutrient for our bodies. It is required for every single body system and function. If you are thirsty at any point in the day, it means you are not drinking enough water. Thirst is the first symptom of dehydration. Try to intake at least 64 ounces, or 8 glasses, per day. Your urine should be almost clear on a regular basis, and you should never feel parched. Also be sure to stay hydrated during exercise!

4. Eat fat!
Some people think that if they stop eating all fats, they will lose all of their fat through exercise. This is an extremely unhealthy diet for your body. Actually, your diet should be composed of up to 20% fat. If your body becomes deprived of fats, it will switch to “starvation mode” and begin to store all the fat it can. That’s because your body NEEDS fat. Fat provides 9 calories of energy per gram, compared to protein and carbs, which provide only 4 cal/g. We need fat to store and use vitamins. Fat is involved in the production of hormones and enzymes which control everything from our digestive system to our reproductive system. Fat provides heat insulation for our bodies, as well as protection for our organs by cushioning them.
The best kinds of fats come from things like nuts, olive oil, and even avocado. Less healthy fats come from animals: dairy, red meat, and fats/cooking oils that are solid at room temperature.

Add Shakeology to maximize a healthy diet!
Add Shakeology to maximize a healthy diet!


5. Add a shake!

Protein shakes are a great way to jam-pack nutrients into your diet without overloading on calories. If you find a high quality shake you enjoy (such as Shakeology) it can be perfect for replacing any meal. They can provide essential nutrients such as a full serving of protein, which helps build lean muscle, improves skin and hair, supports mental clarity, and reduces cravings, antioxidants, phytonutrients, adaptogens, and probiotics and digestive enzymes which increase nutrient absorption and improve digestion.

Follow these nutrition guidelines and you will burn fat and build lean muscle more efficiently. Having more lean muscle also in turn helps you burn even more fat! I would love to answer any questions you have about a healthy diet. Feel free to add your own comments and tips about eating right.

Surprisingly tasty AND healthy recipes!
Surprisingly tasty AND healthy recipes!

For plenty of amazingly healthy AND delicious recipes, follow my friend Lauren’s clean eating blog! She also has some awesome recipe ideas for using with your Shakeology! http://www.kitchenqueeneatsclean.blogspot.com | @kitchenqueeneats

Value your time

Time is money, right? …Time is a lot more than money. Time is commitment. Time is motivation. Time is energy, work, play, health, relaxation, slumber. Time is everything.
If time is everything, planning is everything too. When it comes to fitness, how likely are you to commit to a workout if you don’t find time for it? Stuff happens. You might lounge around all day, and then be donning your sports bra when your friend calls and invites you out. It’s really easy to think “Yeah, I’d rather go out than work out tonight!” You might be overwhelmed with work, cleaning or homework, and consider that a legitimate excuse to skip your workout. But that can be avoided if you plan your time wisely.
Time management is an important skill that can affect your job, your relationships, your school performance, your fitness, your diet, and your sleep. Here are some of my best tips for honing your skills of managing time.

How to schedule your time:

1. Go day by day, and start big. Don’t schedule your classes around what TV show you like to watch. Start with the stuff you consider most important: work, school, business, sleep, meals, working out, doctor appointments, etc. Then fill in the spaces with other things you need to get done that day but are more flexible: shopping, relaxation, homework, cleaning, chores, time with friends, family, or pets, etc. Also make sure you schedule time to work on your schedule, if you need it. However, it’s important to keep ALL of your plans in mind as you schedule. For example, I can’t schedule working out without thinking about sleep.
2. Leave time for travel and prep. If your work day ends at 5:00 and you live 20 minutes away, don’t plan your workout for 5:00! You want time to get to where you need to be, set your stuff down, and get dressed for your next plan. Leave a little room for error (traffic, etc.) too.
3. Plan “me” time. If you feel too busy and overwhelmed you are likely to drop things off your schedule. Instead of doing that to yourself, plan time to relax or leave open time to do whatever you might feel like at that moment.
4. If it isn’t working, fix it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind. Don’t stress if your schedule just doesn’t work or if something changes. If you just couldn’t drag yourself out of bed at 5:00 AM for your morning workout, make it an evening workout. Schedule it for after work, or an hour before bed. Do what works for you so that you will commit to it. This could take weeks or even months of editing. Life is dynamic; planning is always a work in progress. But the effort will be worth it when you have time for everything you need to do, time for everything you want to do, and some time left over!
5. Commit. Once you find a routine that works, stick with it. Everyone needs a rest day every now and then, but you can plan those too. Don’t let a lack of time management alter your success in life. You are capable of doing what you want to do- all it takes is commitment.

My actual schedule this week!
My actual schedule this week!

If you still don’t know where to begin, here is an example. This is legitimately how I schedule my time.

I start with my day job, which has primarily static hours.
some Mondays, and Tuesday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

Next I schedule my evening job, which is 100% flexible, but requires 20 hours per week. I leave time for my 15 minute commute as well as room for error so that I will be on time for my clients. I also keep in mind that I like to do Zumba class on T&Th. I can run straight into there and it’s OK if I’m late, so I don’t leave any prep time. I like to get off early on Fridays so I can have a social life, and Saturdays are very flexible for me.
Monday and Wednesday, 4:30 PM – 9:30 PM.
Tuesday and Thursday, 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM.
Friday, 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM.
Saturday, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

My third big thing is my workout/meal schedule. I plan it for before work most days so that I can skip a shower or driving to the gym, and so that I can walk my dog. During the week I make sure it is early enough so that I can eat breakfast directly afterwards, then shower and drive 20 minutes to work. I also try to include my favorite fitness classes. I schedule my heavy lifting for Saturday because I have enough time to do it at the gym (I can’t lift heavy at home) and then go home for a run and a big meal. Meal planning is directly related to workout planning. Scheduling workouts is actually a very fine art, if you are not already following a schedule. I will talk more about workout scheduling and meal planning in another post, so stay tuned :)
Monday, cardio (TurboFire and walk my dog), 5:30 AM.
-Breakfast,
6:30 AM. Shower, 6:45 AM.
Tuesday, warm-up (walk my dog), light strength, cardio (TurboFire), 5:30 AM.
-Breakfast,
6:30 AM. Shower, 6:45 AM.
Wednesday, cardio (TurboFire and run my dog), 5:30 AM.
-Breakfast,
6:30 AM. Shower, 6:45 AM.
Thursday, warm-up (walk my dog), medium strength, cardio (TurboFire), 5:30 AM.
-Breakfast,
6:30 AM. Shower, 6:45 AM.
Friday, cardio (TurboFire and walk my dog), 5:30 AM.
-Breakfast,
6:30 AM. Shower, 6:45 AM.
Saturday, cardio (TurboFire), 7:30 AM.
-Breakfast,
8:30 AM. Shower, 8:45 AM.
-Heavy strength,
2:00 PM. Snack, 3:00 PM. Run my dog, 3:30 PM. Lunch, 4:00 PM.
Sunday, REST DAY.

Lastly I add the other things I need to do- work from home every night before bed and during my off time at my evening job, shopping at lunchtime or on Sundays, and training my dog (without a run or walk) on Sundays.

Hope you learned something! If you still have questions or could use some help with planning your schedule, please feel free to reach out to me. Stay tuned for more motivation and advice!

Marathon prep: the day before the race

Prepping for my race tomorrow!
Prepping for my race tomorrow!

the day before the race
You’ve been training for weeks; maybe months, and now game day is finally here! So how can you ensure that all of your training doesn’t go to waste, and that you’ll be performing at your best level tomorrow? Whether you’re going for a marathon, half marathon, 15k, 10k, or 5k, the 24 hours leading up to your race are some of the most important. Here are six easy rules you have to remember to follow the day before a race!

1.Keep your feet up.

It’s extremely important for your body to be fully rested today. Hopefully you’ve been running or cross-training at least every other day in the weeks or months leading up to tomorrow. If you exercised yesterday or the day before, your muscles are actually still growing and repairing as you read this!

This is where the phrase “muscles are built in the kitchen, not in the gym” comes from. In the gym, muscles are worked out and torn down, and there may be temporary “hypertrophy” (“excessive growth”), but it is the protein you consume later that will actually be used to grow muscle in the 48-72 hours after you work out.

You want to be sure your muscles are back in shape by the morning of your race, so eat plenty of carbs and protein after each time you exercise, and then give them a rest– especially the 48 hours before you race. So, if your race is on Sunday, the last time you worked out should have been Friday.  It’s important to avoid tiring yourself out in general- you won’t lose any fitness by taking the day off. If your packet pick-up is the day before your race, don’t spend a lot of time walking around. Too much time at the expo could even give you pre-race anxiety. If you do need to walk around, however, wear comfortable shoes, like the ones you plan to run in, and if you do start feeling anxious, you can consider taking a very slow, easy, 20-minute run today, if you think it will help you relax. Just be careful that you don’t work out enough to be sore the next day!

Another important rule: trim your toenails! It may sound silly but if your nails are too long it can actually really hurt your feet during the race.

2. Eat lots of carbs.

In the days leading up to your race, your diet should be composed of 60-70% carbohydrates. Stored carbs are the first source of energy our body utilizes during exercise, because it is most accessible. If your body runs out of carbs, it will begin to burn protein instead, you will feel more fatigued, and your ability to build muscle will be very weak. Keep in mind your body will likely run out of carbs after about an hour of intense exercise. That is why it is so important to refuel during a long race.

Gels are an awesome way to refuel during a long race.
Gels are an awesome way to refuel during a long race.

Remember that in order to efficiently use carbs for energy we also need an adequate supply of other nutrients like protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water!

Your diet should also be fairly regulated by now; do not try any exotic foods in the days before the run. If you are fighting the urge to the bathroom during the race, it is not only distracting but also greatly depletes your energy!

Make sure you are eating a normal amount. Do not overload your body as it can take over a day for your body to process large amounts of food, and you could end up digesting during the race (it’s best to digest while you are at rest). On the day of the race, eat a good breakfast with plenty of carbs, protein, and amino acids. If your race is very early, like mine is tomorrow, eat a lighter breakfast, at least 1-2 hours before the start time.

3. Stay hydrated.

Did you know that thirst is the first symptom of dehydration? That means if you feel thirsty for a drink of water, you aren’t drinking enough. Water is critical for our performance on the course for many reasons. Water digests food and dissolves nutrients so that we can absorb them, provides a medium in which metabolism (the production of energy) takes place, carries waste out of our bodies, and regulates our body temperature! Make sure you are drinking 64oz of water per day leading up to the race- that’s about 8 glasses! It sounds like a lot, but remember: you shouldn’t feel thirsty… And your urine should be almost clear! Remembering this rule during the few days before your race will also help to ensure you aren’t thirsty in the hours before your race; you don’t want to be drinking too much water right before you run, or you will need to use the bathroom, and deplete your energy as I mentioned.

Finally, don’t drink Gatorade or similar sports drinks until you have already been running the race for about an hour. The electrolytes in these drinks are great to refuel, and the sodium is important too- but only during and after your race. If you intake too much sodium pre-marathon, you will feel bloated and dehydrated. Dehydration can cause a 12-15% dip in performance. It also means less oxygen, and is the source of cramping during a run.

4. Stretch your entire body.

Unlike what we used to believe, we now know that you shouldn’t over-stretch immediately before a long run. So, to stay limber, stretch it out the day before. This should be a whole-body stretch. Stretch your calves, thighs, shins, abs, back, arms, and groin. Just be careful not to overdo it! Attending a yoga class might be fun, but it could push you too hard and leave you tired and sore the next morning, so choose wisely.

Set out your gear early to avoid stress and get yourself pumped!
Set out your gear early to avoid stress and get yourself pumped!

5. Prep your gear and head to bed early.

You don’t want to be rushed tomorrow morning- it could cause anxiety, and you could forget something important. Instead, save yourself the trouble and get ready tonight. Stay relaxed, and get out your gear for tomorrow: lay your running clothes out along with your bib and safety pins, whatever race fuel you’ve been practicing with, and any other necessary gear (sunscreen, heart rate monitor, chafing prevention, etc.). Plan what your breakfast will be in the morning and ensure that you have all of the ingredients. Take a good look at the map of the course you’ll be running. Then set your alarm and go to sleep at a decent hour.

6. Think positive.

Whatever you do, don’t start to doubt yourself now! You’ve been preparing for this day and now all that work is about to pay off. Remain relaxed. Don’t talk yourself down; talk yourself up. Repeat phrases like “I am so ready for this,” and “I have never been stronger.” Visualize yourself achieving your goal: running across the finish line with everyone around you cheering you on. Believe in yourself and you will accomplish what you’ve been fighting for!

Thanks for reading! Please don’t hesitate to add your questions or comments. Remember, these rules are also great to follow with year-round exercise. Even when your performance may not be as critical, the way you treat your body always will be!