Friday Faves

This week was wonderfully productive and fun – a great way to come back from a long weekend. This weekend, I have very little on the agenda which I’m so excited about! Decorating for Hanukkah, hanging out with friends, and what will hopefully be a healthy and delicious brunch that (if all goes well) I’ll share next week!

My workouts this week were varied and super fun. I always try to take a day or two off each week from my heavy workouts, but on those days, I try my best to hit a high step count (which for me is anything over 14,000)

Monday – Zumba at the Ailey Extension

Tuesday – off, 14,685 steps

Wednesday – Barre at FlyBarre

Thursday – off, 16,886 steps

Friday – Spinning at FlyWheel

Saturday – Broadway Dance at Broadway Bodies

Sunday – Yoga at Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness 

Here are some of my faves from the week.

Christmas lights

New York City Christmas lights

Photo Nov 27, 7 06 29 PM

Adorable puppies in adorable sweaters (This is Abbey Road, my parents pup)

Photo Dec 04, 1 33 59 PM

Fishing in the Hudson River. A rare site.

My favorite part of the week - a live recording of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me at the NJ Performing Arts Center. The picture's not great, but I can check this off my bucket list!

My favorite part of the week – a live recording of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me at the NJ Performing Arts Center. The picture’s not great, but I can check this off my bucket list!

 

Have a great weekend!!!

 

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**None of the links in this post are affiliates nor is this post sponsored by any of the mentioned studios.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

Nobody’s Perfect

whatyoudoeveryday

Do you have a guru? Perhaps not in the traditional sense of the word, but maybe someone you consider as a master or teacher? For a long time, I’ve admired and respected the teachings and insights of author, Gretchen Rubin. Rubin has written a number of books on a variety of subjects and it’s her two books on happiness, The Happiness Project and Happiness at Home that led me to jokingly (and not so jokingly) refer to her as my guru.

As a lover of quotes, lists, and mantras, it’s no surprise that Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood resonate with me. One of my absolute favorites is, “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

No one is perfect and it’s silly to try to be. Sometimes we have an extra drink when we know we shouldn’t. Sometimes we accidentally leave someone on an email that we meant to take off. Sometimes we miss a workout because watching the latest episode of Modern Family just can’t wait any longer. What’s important is to remember that if those mistakes truly only happen once in a while, it’s ok.

I keep this hanging on the wall as a reminder to acknowledge my mistakes and learn from them – but to also let them go and not beat myself up. We all deserve a pass once in a while.

 

**This post has not been sponsored by Gretchen Rubin in any way; I’m simply a fan. If you’d like to read more, check out www.gretchenrubin.com.

3 Tips to Win the Willpower War at your Thanksgiving Table

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Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to avoid snacking in the morning than after dinner? Or if you’re really sad about something you care less about getting to the gym? Well, there’s a reason for it and it’s not that you’re lazy.  It’s called the Principal of Limited Self Control or Ego Depletion – the idea that self-control and willpower are limited resources that can actually be used up and need to be replenished by rest. That’s why when you’re tired after a long day of work; it seems harder to resist that cookie. Or when you’re stressed out by family issues it’s harder to get to the gym. When you’re using all of your willpower just to get through the day, you have little left over for things like exercise and healthy food.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and for many, that means potentially stressful travel, potentially stressful family time, and a lot of tempting food – things that can easily deplete your self-control. Here are a few tips to help you win the willpower war this Thanksgiving with just a little advanced planning:

  1. Plan Ahead. Planning for obstacles in advance means you’ll need less willpower when the situation comes up because you won’t have to think about it. Find out what will be on the menu ahead of time and create a game plan. Decide in advance what you’ll fill up on (like roasted veggies and lean turkey) and what you’ll indulge in. You won’t feel like you’re missing out and you won’t go crazy when you see all of the delicious food out in front of you.
  1. Develop an ‘If-Then’ Strategy. For example, “If Aunt Martha asks me to try one of her cookies that she made just for me; I will take one, eat half of it, and put the other half back on the table.” Or, “If everyone has a drink in their hand before dinner, I will have a glass of club soda and put a lemon in it.” Like the first tip, if you’ve already developed a plan, you won’t have to think about it when the time comes.
  1. Offer to make something. What’s your weakness at the Thanksgiving table? Whatever it is, you can make a healthy version to bring with you so that you can indulge without the guilt. I have a sweet tooth, so this year, I offered to make dessert. I know exactly how much is in a serving size and I can enjoy without having to worry.

Another tip that’s been shown to help with willpower is exercising in the morning, before the meal.  Studies have shown that when you work out before eating, you tend to eat less because you’re more aware of the work you just did.  Another tip is to not starve yourself before you sit down for dinner.  You’ll be wasting that valuable resource of self-control and won’t have as much left for the actual meal.

And remember, that no matter what happens this Thursday, it’s only one day. So even if you’re not the picture of perfect nutrition, give yourself a break, enjoy the holiday, and jump back on that horse on Friday.

 

10 Thoughts That Are Holding You Back

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As I continue with my studies to become a certified health coach (!!) one of my favorite topics is behavioral psychology. At its core, behavioral psychology is all about habits – how we acquire (and eliminate) certain behaviors through conditioning. Every time I read a new theory it’s like getting an insider tip and I wanted to share one that anyone can use when trying to adopt a new habit.  It’s called the 10 Cognitive Irrational Distortions**. These are 10 things that people do that get in the way of their progress.

The trick is, once you’re able to identify them, you can start tuning them out.

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking – Looking at things in absolutes without acknowledging the grey area. (I’m either a healthy person or I’m not. And I’m not.)

2. Overgeneralization – Viewing a negative event as a never ending pattern of defeat (I ate too much junk food today, just like I do every single day.  I’ll never be able to stop.)

3. Mental Filter – Dwelling on the negatives and ignoring the positives (It doesn’t really matter that I ate well today because I didn’t get to the gym.)

4. Discounting the Positive – Insisting that accomplishments or positive qualities ‘don’t count’ (Of course I ate healthy today, I wasn’t near any junk food. I still don’t have any self-control when it counts.)

5. Jumping to Conclusions – Assuming that people are reacting negatively when there is no evidence or arbitrarily predicting that things will turn out badly (I’m overweight and I’ll never be able to get in shape.)

6. Magnification and/or Minimization – Blowing things way out of proportion or vice versa (I didn’t eat a healthy breakfast so it’s going to ruin my entire day.)

7. Emotional Reasoning – Believing that your feelings are true even when there is no evidence (I feel like an idiot, so I must be one.)

8. ‘Should’ or catastrophe statements – criticizing oneself or other people with ‘shoulds’ or ‘shouldn’ts’ (I should’ve gone to the gym today.)

9. Labeling – Identifying with one’s shortcomings (I’m a failure and have no self-control. Instead of saying ‘I made a mistake.’)

10. Personalization and Blame – Blaming oneself for something that the person was not entirely responsible for (All of our plans fell apart today and it’s all my fault.)

Do you catch yourself using any of these? What do you do to combat these kinds of negative thoughts?

 

**Adapted from the ACE Health Coach Manual. For more information, go to ACEFitness.com

Photo: Markus Spiske / http://www.temporausch.com / CC-BY

Spinning Before Sunrise

flybeforesunrise

6:15am at Flywheel Lincoln Square

I’m a routine and structure driven person. I love to plan ahead and doing the same activity on a regular basis isn’t boring to me – it’s comforting. I like to re-watch the same TV shows, eat the same breakfast, and exercise at the same time each day.  Being a creature of habit has its pros and cons.  On one hand, it’s easy for me to start a new routine by just committing to it on a regular basis.  On the other hand, when something interrupts my routine, I have a very hard time sticking to my plan.

I like to exercise right after work at least 3 days a week (plus 1 weekend workout).  I prefer to leave directly from the office and head to class so that once it’s done, it’s done.  I can go out with friends or cook a nice meal at home and know that my workout is complete. When I’m on this schedule, I know exactly when I need to eat my meals and my snacks to have enough energy; it works like clockwork.  But when my evening schedule conflicts with this plan, it’s a struggle for me to fit everything in.

This week, my future in-laws are in town.  While I love having them here and enjoy spending time with them, we have plans every night this week and as I planned out my gym schedule I realized there was no way to fit in all of my workouts this week. I knew I’d have to improvise by working out in the morning – before the sun came up.

I won’t lie – this morning was a challenge. A 6am alarm was tough, but planning ahead was the key.  I put that workout on my schedule and signed up for the class on Sunday.  By the time my alarm went off today, I had no excuse.

For me, planning ahead is the best way to stick to a commitment when life gets in the way. What about you? Are you a creature of habit or do you like to vary your routine? What tricks or techniques do you use?

5 Tips to Get Moving!

In her 2013 Ted Talk, Nilofer Merchant tells us that on average, people sit an astonishing 9.3 hours a day. And while I don’t necessarily agree with the severity of Merchant’s claim that sitting has become the smoking of our generation, her argument that we spend more than half our day sedentary is an important one.

Starting an exercise routine can be daunting, especially when your daily routine consists of sitting in a car, sitting in an office, and sitting at home. The idea of going from 0 to 60 is enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed and intimidated. But the key to any journey is taking that first step. Merchant suggests walking meetings. Here are NonFad Yogurt’s 5 Tips to Get Moving.

  1. Buy a pedometer. I tell all of my clients that the first step to a healthy lifestyle is understanding just how much you move in a day. Most people tend to overestimate how much we move and underestimate how much we eat. Quantifying activity by monitoring steps is a great motivation and you’ll be surprised at how soon you’re parking further away and taking the stairs just so you can meet your goal. My tip is to start out small. Monitor yourself for a week and then try adding 1,000 steps to that. It’s recommended that you walk 10,000 steps a day but start off at a number that works for you.
  1. TV Pushups – One of the key steps of habit building is creating and recognizing triggers. If you continuously react the same way to a given trigger, eventually it will become a habit. Try doing 5 pushups every time to turn on and off the TV. If that seems too easy, try 10! It doesn’t matter if the pushups are perfect or if you do them on your knees – just do it consistently and before you know it, you’ll do those pushups when the TV goes on without even thinking about it!
  1. Morning Jumping Jacks – Similar to number 2, try creating a morning habit and do 10 jumping jacks as soon as you get out of bed. Before you brush your teeth, take the dog for a walk, or even start that pot of coffee. Little bursts of activity in the morning have been shown to increase energy and your mood, so you’ve got no reason not to try it!
  1. Conference Call Squats – This one might be a little embarrassing if you don’t work in a private space, but it’s an example of a small change that can make a big difference. Every time you’re on the phone and don’t need to access important documents, do squats. Squats are great for the phone because you won’t be out of breath, they don’t make a lot of noise, and the movements are small and controlled (so you won’t be running around your office). And the best part is that multiple sets of 10 squats over the course of a 30 minute phone call can make a HUGE different in how your legs look and feel.
  1. Sign Up for Just 1 Class – This tip is for people who are already moving but looking to create a consistent workout routine. Think about what you enjoyed as a little kid – did you take dance class? Join a Zumba class. Did you love riding your bike around the neighborhood? Try spinning. There are so many options out there and instead of being intimidated you’ll quickly find that pretty much everyone in the class is just like you – a normal person just trying to be as healthy as possible. The accountability of signing up (and paying for) a class ahead of time will help guarantee that you make it.  And don’t be surprised if you find yourself signing up for more and more classes each week!

What are your tips for sneaking activity into your day? What’s worked for you??