10 things that I do everyday that help me maintain a healthy weight that doesn’t involve stepping foot in a gym.

Over the years I have compiled a list from nutritionist, fitness professionals, and celebrity figures that help to motivate and maintain a healthy weight.

People always ask me all the time what I eat to stay fit. I always reply with the same response, you got to meal plan. I am not a nutritionist or dietician and the only person who really knows what your body needs for fuel based on your lifestyle is you. If you are struggling to lose weight and or maintain your current a great place to start would be by consulting with a professional, registered dietician or nutrition specialist, particularly if you have  medical conditions. But if you are ready to be proactive there are a ton of free resources out there to help you get started.


My approach to food

I prefer to take one day at a time approach.  Implementing small habits everyday and gradually building on them makes it more attainable and sustainable in the long run. I follow a flexible dieting approach (tracking macros) as well as utilizing guidelines provided by USDA choose my plate checklist. It gives you daily recommended lists for meal planning guidelines.

Over the last couple of years I compiled a list of tips from articles, bloggers, fitness professionals, and public figures, as well as my own tips that help to motivate me and maintain my weight.

Here are my 10 Tips:

1.So important to Stay Hydrated. Drink 2 glasses of water first thing in the morning, and before each meal.

2. Eat more whole foods fruits and veggies.

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3. Consume more whole grains and less white refined flours.Choose my plate recommends aiming to consume at least half of your grains in whole grains.

4. Plan your meals ahead of time I love meal prepping. It is a time commitment a few hours out of your weekend, but it saves you so much time during your week when your tired at the end of the day and have no energy to cook. If you need some inspiration for healthy meal prepping recipes, I highly recommend Kevin Curry’s FitMenCook.

 

 

you will never get bored of his recipes they are very inventive and always so tasty. He has a very inspirational Instagram account with easy to follow videos. Another avenue you can go if you want to cut out the grocery store trip is subscribed to a meal plan service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh where they send you a kit of ingredients and you just have to cook. Or final option if  you hate cooking and rather order dinners from a reputable meal prep company their are endless  local and nationwide services who will deliver right to your door, and all you have to do is defrost and heat up. Two that I have used that are national are Icon meals, and Prepped Delivery.  If you just take a few minutes to google you can definitely find ones that would be good for you.

5. When dining out at chain restaurants and diner digs, which are known to have larger portions I never finish what is on my plate (unless I am really hungry).

6. When I do consume Refined grains with my meal I tend to eat most of my protein and veggies first, it fills me up quicker so I eat less of the unhealthy.

 

7. Eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day it helps to maintain blood sugar and if your consuming quality foods ward off bad cravings. Healthy snacking is key I fruit, nuts, yogurt, and protein shakes. Just be mindful of the ingredients you add in as the calories can multiply quickly. Sometimes I like to turn it into a dessert!

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8. Sharing meals on social media is a huge influencer. If I make it a goal I have to post 1 or 2 meals a day it motivates me to cook a healthy meal! There are so many bloggers that inspire me everyday will share some of my favorites in a featured post soon!
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9. I never deprive myself of something when I really have a craving. Life is meant to be enjoyed and at least once sometimes twice a week I indulge in something delicious and consume with no guilt.

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Gluten Free White Clam Pizza

10. H20 is the only way to go. I rarely consume sugary beverages, diet soda, or seltzer. Aside for my 1 a day Dunkin Donuts coffee (sugar yes please) when I get bored I  infuse my water with fruit, cucumber, or spices.

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Hope you found some of these tips helpful. Would love to here from you!

What motivates you to make healthier food choices and maintain a healthy weight for you?  Have you tried any detox cleanses and  if so did you find they helped to lose weight and keep it off?

Would love to hear from you!

Christina XOXO

 

 

 

 

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life.

There are no limits.

There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

—Bruce Lee

There’s something in the air in Hollywood…

Every time I visit the West Coast it is a breath of fresh air for my mind, body, and soul especially while staying in Santa Monica.

I have been in a total funk lately. Definitely not as motivated as my usual self and I have fallen back (putting it nicely) on my fitness goals. So my recent last-minute trip to California could not have come at a better time. Vacations are so important, they give us some time away from the pressures of everyday routines and allow us to appreciate and enjoy all that is good in our life without distractions of work.

Every time I visit the West Coast it is a breath of fresh air for my mind, body, and soul especially while staying in Santa Monica. Blue skies and temp of 75 degrees everyday, fresh produce, healthy food, and you don’t have to step foot in a gym for fitness inspiration, it’s all around you. It doesn’t get much more perfect than that. In a few days I had the chance to take in as much beauty and energy as I could of the LA area. In case you are interested in planning a trip, short and sweet here are a few places we visited and foods we ate.


Where we stayed

Loews Santa Monica couldn’t ask for a more perfect location and view to relax after a day of sightseeing. The hotel, staff, and accommodations were exceptional. We stayed in a Pool Side Cabana room that came with its own private patio and fire pit perfect to stay warm outside once the sun went down.


Where we ate.

Firehouse Restaurant Venice Beach
Firehouse Restaurant Venice Beach

We had breakfast at the hotel most days but one day we ventured out to The Firehouse, a landmark in Venice Beach located near the popular The Mecca Golds Gym Venice frequented by many bodybuilders and fit pros.  Really though this place was so cute and it had a rocking healthy menu everything a diner has and more. I went with the Huevos Rancheros so delicious and spicy, beware California loves their hot sauce.

We had lunch one day at Blue Plate Taco Santa Monica at the Shore Hotel. I love Mexican food, but being from the east coast it’s hard to find fresh healthy Mexican food like this. Everything on the menu was so unique and amazing, it was hard to pick just one entrée. My favorite dish was the Farmers Market Nachos.

 

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Another lunch favorite was takeout by the pool from my absolute favorite restaurant I discovered a few years ago, True Food Kitchen. I wish they would open one in NJ. What makes this restaurant so unique is that it was started by a physician. Dr Andrew Weil established True Food Kitchen chain on a set of simple and researched principles known as the Anti-Inflammatory diet which encourages simple changes in eating habits to avoid and counteract chronic inflammation which can lead to many health ailments. If you are into eating healthy and trying new foods this is yet another menu you will have a hard time deciding what to order, because everything sounds so amazing! I highly recommend the Seasonal Salad, Inside Out Quinoa Burger and Ancient Grain Bowl.  And if this food sounds good to you and you don’t have a True Food Kitchen near you  you can get some of there amazing recipes in their best seller cookbook; True Food, Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure. The second I got home I made the Inside Out Quinoa burgers, perfection!

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We had 2 wonderful dinners during our stay. One night we ventured to Beverly Hills and ate at WolfGang Puck’s Spago. While we did not have any celebrity sightings,we did love dining in the picturesque courtyard. Definitely need to order a homemade pasta and they cater to gluten free. Another night we ate at Mastros Steakhouse in Malibu, hands down the best meal, and service I have had at a restaurant in a long time. They really go above and  beyond in food preparation and making sure your dining experience is wonderful. And well that view of Malibu beach?

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View at Mastros

For a starter I ordered Alaskan King Crab legs and the most delicious cocktail habanera infused vodka and mango. Of course steak for my entree and sides of garlic mashed and snap peas perfectly prepared and in season. I wish I had meal pics but I was to busy taking it all in and living in the moment, so important to do while on vacation.


What We Saw

We visited Universal Studios Hollywood for a half day. If you plan on going definitely splurge for the front of the line pass if you can. You only get to use it once per ride but for us that was all we needed.  It will save you so much time as ride wait times are anywhere from 30min till 90 min wait times without it. If you plan on going highly recommend starting at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter first as that is one of the most popular and most crowded attractions. Also not to be missed is the WaterWorld stunt show, so fun! After lunch we did the studio tour, they added some great new additions Fast and Furious Supercharged so cool! I am not a big ride person but if I had to pick my 2 favorites it would be Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Jurassic Park.

The day after Universal we spent the morning mostly just driving around Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Stopped by some landmarks Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Highland Center to view the Hollywood Sign. To end the afternoon we drove thru the hollywood hills full of glamour and charm.

And of course being walking distance we spent a few hours at Santa Monica Pier and walking the 3rd Street Promenade. Its worth taking a ride on the ferris wheel for that birds eye view.

My sightseeing would not be complete without a little shopping on the 3rd street promenade, picked up some cute Kylie and Kendall tops at Pac Sun and stopped for some ice cream at Creams & Dreams.  They make custom made to order Liquid Nitrogen ice cream (very cool) which is very trendy right now. I sampled the avocado very good, but was craving something fruity that day.

I am so grateful for this trip. Now that I’m home weeks later I am still feeling the positive healthy energy. With my new lease on life I am reestablishing healthy habits through fitness and nutrition and taking time everyday to appreciate all the blessings in my life.

What are your favorite places to go on vacation to detox, decompress and get back on track? What helps you relax and reset when you are at home ? Would love to hear from you!

If you haven’t tried this workout yet, what are you waiting for?

Let’s face it, the gym can be an intimidating place particularly if you are a newbie. Anytime we are trying out something new it can be uncomfortable. That’s exactly how I felt when I tried out my first Zumba® class 2 months ago. I was nervous, as I am probably one of the world’s worst dancers. What motivated me to try it was I was starting to get bored of my treadmill, stair master, and elliptical cardio sessions. Zumba® classes are so packed I figured I would give it a go. I am so glad I did and If you have not experienced Zumba® before I hope after reading you will be inspired to try!

My Experience

All Zumba® instructors have different styles and music, but the one consistent thing  (as I tried several) is at the beginning of every class each instructor said the same thing, “No Judging in Zumba®, Just Have Fun and Keep Moving.” I have taken a variety of group fitness classes and this is the first I found to be so welcoming not only by instructors but the people attending the class. It truly feels like a community. Many classes that I’ve taken have their cliques of friends who congregate together and save spots next to each other, and some people with ego but not Zumba®. Even at the biggest of gyms, from the moment I walked into the class it delivered the feel and comfort of what you would receive if you were working out at a boutique studio.

The Workout

The instructor will have choreographed dances to a series of songs that will also incorporate traditional fitness moves. The class is structured similarly to interval training in that one song and dance is high intensity then the next song will allow for active recovery. Anyone of any age or fitness level can participate and it is so much fun you don’t even feel like its a workout. The average person in a Zumba® class can burn up to 500 calories or more depending on the intensity of the class.

As a beginner the hardest part for me is coordinating the hip and arm movements together. After a few classes I have developed more coordination—although I still wouldn’t want to see a video of myself dancing! If you have any doubt on whether this is an effective workout, trust me you are engaging so many muscles in your body some you might not have engaged in awhile. Zumba® is also great for building core strength and increasing flexibility.  As someone who did quite a bit of lifting heavy weight, I was surprised at how sore I was the next day after taking a class—it felt like the day after “leg day” and my hips and core were equally sore. At the end of each class I am dripping in sweat and it leaves me feeling uplifted and energized for the rest of the day.

11116827_600076946794679_1555693851_aIf you live in New Jersey and are looking for a class, check out Mary Massey she is a Zumba instructor at Lifetime Fitness and also offers drop in Zumba classes at multiple locations in NJ. For a list of  her class schedule and other training services you can visit her website www.marymassey.com

Whether you’re a beginner or an athlete working out, even the fittest of gym junkies can find themselves in a workout rut from time to time. It is important to always keep your body and mind stimulated and mixing up your workouts. It’s a new year and so many individuals set the resolution to lose weight but often can’t make it stick. The best way to assure that one stays motivated is by finding activities that they enjoy. Zumba could be the thing for you.

Questions? Comments?

References:

http://www.marymassey.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/12-healthy-benefits-of-zumba_n_1011261.html

http://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/2813/

http://www.gettyimages.com

https://www.zumba.com/en-US

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Finding your weakest link

Why everyone should take advantage of your complimentary training session at your gym.

Why everyone should take advantage of your complimentary training session at your gym.

Happy New Year! Its January again and the gyms are packed with people who are motivated to get in shape, right?  You want to get off to a good start with your fitness goals and laying a strong foundation is key to getting and maximizing your results! I figure now is the perfect time for my first Blog post.

There is a reason every gym you join offers a free training session to new members. Yes of course they inevitably hope to sell you on training sessions to make money, but as an individual who continues to live with chronic pain due to an injury and recently diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

I can honestly tell you there are so many reasons why you should not hesitate to say yes.

My Story

Growing up I never played sports. I was the one everyone hated because I could eat anything and not gain a pound. Even after having 2 children I bounced back quickly to my pre pregnancy weight without much effort. Then around the time my daughter was about 1 1/2 I felt my energy levels plummet and my metabolism slowing. While I was still thin around 114lbs at 5”5 for the first time in my entire life I no longer had that pre pregnancy flat belly. Lack of exercise, and poor diet was starting to catch up with me. It was at this time I decided things needed to change I signed up for a boot camp in my neighborhood and within weeks my energy improved and I felt amazing. Fall came and I started taking classes at the gym regularly and I also adapted healthier eating habits.    FullSizeRender

For the first 6 months I mostly did cardio and strength classes with light weights. I also decided to take up a new sport, tennis. In my first lesson I injured myself. When I went to the doctor and he told me I strained my rotator cuff I had no clue what that meant. For those who are not familiar the rotator cuff, is a group of muscles and tendons that attach to bones of the shoulder joint allowing the shoulder to move and keep it stable. The shoulder is a very delicate joint and its one you do not want to piss off!

The recommendation from my doctor was to rest, ice it, and take anti-inflammatories basically saying once I learn the proper form for serving, and swinging this will not happen again. After about 3 weeks the pain subsided and I resumed classes and tennis. Shortly thereafter I discovered another sport I loved— bodybuilding! I was always afraid to lift weights but when I actually did I couldn’t believe how it transformed my body in a short period of time. I was addicted! I had no clue what I was I doing and I definitely over did it. My ego got the best of me. I became obsessed. I started weight training about 4 days a week (mostly isolated exercises by body part). I pushed myself to lift heavier and heavier each week and trained for hypertrophy (induce fast muscle growth) each and every time. Did I get amazing results? Yes, but was it functional and sustainable? Not at all. During my first year of working out I suffered multiple shoulder injuries and by my 4th things were so bad it forced me to stop upper body training for nearly a year. I learned a hard lesson. You can’t go from zero to 60 over night and you can’t just solely train for aesthetics alone without addressing muscular imbalances that might exist. Our bodies function as a whole and when beginning any exercise program one must introduce stress gradually in order for our soft tissue, skeletal and nervous system to function and adapt. I am still experiencing pain to this day. Of course there were definitely signs along the way that things were not right that I just shook off (burning and tightness in the right side of my chest, and extreme difficultly with over head activities due to my overactive traps). I convinced myself that it was just normal and things will ease up and feel better as I got stronger. Not the case. Rule #1 Always listen to your body.

Thoracic outlet syndrome is no joke. I don’t want to get into much detail here but TOS in simple terms is a disorder that occurs when there is compression, injury, irritation of the nerves and or blood vessels (arteries and veins) in the lower neck and upper chest area. It causes me to have pain in my neck, shoulder and all the way down my arm into my wrist and tightness in my chest. It has caused major dysfunction to my entire upper body and it is incredibly painful. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go thru what I am going thru as such I feel compelled to share my story in hopes of educating others.

Where did things go Wrong?

imagesWhile there were many factors at play that attributed to my injuries (repetitive motions, poor muscular development, anatomy) the biggest culprit for me was years of bad posture which was putting excessive strain on my traps and rotator cuff. Just observe in a public place you will no doubt notice people hunched over, and rounded shoulders (kyphosis). Because of our lifestyles we are constantly forced in a flexed posture (being on a computer for 8 hours a day, commuting in the car, staring at your phone, breast feeding and carrying children, even the way you sleep etc.) Poor posture and disuse causes your muscles to tighten and shorten and over a prolonged period of time. When a muscle is shorter than its normal length it affects opposing muscles, this can affect how your entire musculoskeletal system operates particularly if we have had prior injuries. When we are dysfunctional our muscles overcompensate to perform tasks and overtime, if we do not make adjustments than we can experience pain or re-injury.

I would advise anyone who is new to working out to do an assessment with a certified and well knowledgeable trainer.

What to expect during an assessment?

Observe Posture & Movement Patterns

When you have an assessment with a trainer they will observe your functional movement patterns and point out any deviations (Hips, shoulders, posture etc) and muscular imbalances.

Why is this so important?

Where there are imbalances above and below a joint this can cause dysfunction (some of our muscles can be overdeveloped or undeveloped) leading to injuries and pain over time. All our bodies and systems are genetically and bio-mechanically different. Based on your fitness level and lifestyle a trainer will devise a custom balanced program to correct the imbalances allowing you to move more efficiently and improve how you look and feel.

Observe your Form and Breathing

They will make sure that you are executing exercises correctly using proper form and developing strength to perform the exercise thru its full range of motion. During your session you will also receive feedback and cues to make sure you are recruiting the correct muscles. Fact, you can be performing an exercise and think you are doing it correctly but recruiting all the wrong muscles. In my case my traps would be doing more of the work causing them to become over developed. Proper form is key to preventing injury and if you already have an injury can help to not aggravate it. Another very important part of the assessment is breathing. Many of us are breathing all wrong, using our shoulders and chest instead of breathing in thru our nose and deeply out thru our diaphragm. Proper breathing releases tension from traps, neck, and shoulders and also affects our nervous system/sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) if you are not in a good breathing pattern you won’t be able to stack rib above hip to get in proper placement to do many exercises which is important.

The majority of injuries happen outside of the gym. How you are training in the gym can directly have impact on improving your endurance and performance and reducing your chances of injury and this is particularly more important as we age. I attended a very informative seminar on Functional Flexibility and Fascia Fitness at the Idea Fit Conference last year led by Leslee Bender she but it best “In order to develop a combo of integrity of all joints in the body you need to have a well developed program. You can be too tight, too flexible, too weak, too strong”. Just because you might not have any pain and think you don’t have any postural deviations you still could have them (most people do) If you precede to jump into a workout regime even if you are just taking group classes you could make things worse. If only I had taken things slower, listened to my body along the way and worked with a trainer myself so much could have been avoided.
Not all exercises are a one size fits all, which is why we have personal trainers to assess individual’s strengths, weaknesses, lifestyle and improve their movement patterns, and enable them to function more efficiently in a dysfunctional world.

Hope you found this post to be helpful. Anything to Add? Questions? Comments?

References:
Breaking Muscle
http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/why-does-the-front-of-my-shoulder-hurt
Red Flags
http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/avoid-shoulder-injury-by-strengthening-the-rotator-cuff
Idea Fit Conference 2015 Functional Flexibility and Fascia Fitness workshop Leslee Bender
NY Strength Dr. Jack Barnathan Assessment Workshop http://www.nystrength.com Continue reading “Finding your weakest link”