Monthly Archives: February 2015

I like big hearts and I cannot lie <3

I like big hearts and I cannot lie <3

valentines-day-holding-a-big-heart

(source)

Some of you will be starting Series 4 this week, and I am so excited for you!  For those of you who are on an earlier series, here is a little taste of what’s coming soon.

Of course, you know SwanFit will prove to be challenging and energizing, but what I’m most excited about this round is the Series 4 Yoga and here is why:

You’ve heard me talk about how important it is to love and appreciate your body, wherever you are in your journey.  I don’t believe in tearing people down or body shaming.  I want you to be the healthiest version of yourself, but mostly, I want you to love your life and live filled with joy.  Message continued…

Shocking News:

I am admittedly a little obsessed with fitness.  I know…you’ve all just passed out from the shock of that declaration.  But seriously, I cannot stress enough the importance of balance.  I have been on the extreme end of things.  I have had low self esteem.  I have felt “too fat” or “too ugly” or “not special” in my life.  I have taken dieting too far.  I don’t want to turn this post into a therapy session, but I want you to know that eating disorders and body image disorders are widespread and they don’t just effect teenage girls.  Adult men and women, teenagers and even young children are affected by these conditions.

At a very young age, we begin to fill our minds with insecurities.  If we let those false perceptions linger in our minds, they will get the better of us.  Obsessing over our body image can lead to over-eating, starvation, self-mutilation and/or depression.  An extreme fixation on becoming thinner can be dangerous, rob you of joy and distort your self worth.  You are more than your body weight.

As a teen, I went through a time in my life when I deprived myself of food.  I knew I wasn’t fat, but I just felt so imperfect or unexceptional, that I wanted to prove to myself that I could control my destiny.  As a teenager, there are few things you have complete control over.  Our bodies happen to be one of those things.  I gradually reduced my calories over time until this one time, at band camp (Hehe, sorry, couldn’t resist), I ate one Nutrigrain bar and a few lettuce leaves for the entire week.  I was exercising for several hours per day at this time and definitely needed more calories than what I was taking in.  Even though I was wise enough to understand this basic concept (calories=energy), I didn’t care.  In fact, I was embarrassed about what I was doing, so I’d try to pretend I was eating by pushing food around on my plate.  Greater than my embarrassment though, was the power I felt in my ability to refrain from eating (something I actually do enjoy doing).  That is what makes this disorder so difficult to recover from.  The feeling of control can become addicting.  While eating disorders may seem to be about an obsession with weight, they are often used as a coping mechanism for a long list of mental disorders.  I am very fortunate to have the parents that I have.  Around the same time that I was struggling with these issues, I stumbled upon a paper my dad had written in college about Anorexia Nervosa.  I’m not sure if I found it by accident or if it was placed where I’d see it on purpose, but nevertheless, I read it.  My dad is quite the writer, making even the driest material more interesting.  I’ve always been a sponge for non-fiction anyway, so I read the entire thing and became horrified at what I was actually doing to by body, brain, hair, skin, nails, etc.  I’m not saying that I did a 180° overnight and developed a perfectly healthy relationship with food, but at that moment, I decided to eat again.  I also decided that if I was going to have to eat, I wanted to know as much as I could about food and how it affected our minds and bodies.  I’ve spent many years reading, learning and practicing the physiological and psychological affects of food.  Here is what I know for sure:  1) Eating disorders aren’t about food.  2) We need food to live.  3) Eating processed junk leads to disease (mental and physical).

Why am I sharing?

For starters, I bet many of you have struggled with body image related issues at some point in your life.  While we often think of puberty as a time that these issues unfold, adulthood doesn’t free us.  Aging can cause us to feel insecure.  Relationships, career and family related challenges can leave us searching for coping mechanisms outside of ourselves (or within ourselves).

While all of us can benefit from a good certified counselor (seeking help from a professional is always recommended and often necessary), I want to share some valuable coping mechanisms with you.

1) Make sure your nutritional needs are met through a balanced meal plan.  Being depleted of any one of the 3 macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein)  can prevent the brain and body from functioning properly.  Too little fat causes brain fog, dry eyes (leading to macular degeneration), adrenal fatigue (bye, bye metabolism) and malabsorption of nutrients.  Carbohydrate depletion can lead to dehydration, sluggish digestion, stress on the liver, and a weakened immune system.  Not enough protein can result in muscle loss, and a decrease in immune boosting antibodies.  It can also lead to hormone imbalances (as can a depletion in any of the macronutrients).  So, if depleting yourself of just one of these macronutrients can wreak havoc on your body, imagine what depletion of all three can do.  FYI, filling your body with processed, packaged foods is not nutritious and can lead to macronutrient depletion as well as micronutrient deficiencies.

eat positive

2) Surround yourself with people who lift you up.  No need to be a verbal (or physical) punching bag for someone else.  You’re worthy of being loved.  Being a good friend will also lift you up.  We never regret words of kindness.  Say ’em and mean ’em as often as you can.  In fact, say them to yourself as well. Be your own friend and lift yourself up. If you cannot imagine telling a friend, “you are fat” or “you’re so stupid,” don’t say them to yourself.

ce9dbb0bb087ac82a6cfdaac48e68a2e

(source)

3) Journal.  Write as often as you can about anything you want.  Gratitude, reflection, observation, intention, etc.  You can gain much perspective by putting something in writing.  You don’t have to share it with anyone else.  Just release it.  If it’s something you need to let go of, burn it or shred it.  If it’s something you need to remember, save it and reread it.

cd15251d9106c25ae42cf713ca54d5ef

 

(Source:This link will take you to a blog with some guidance on a simple journaling technique)

(This link will take you to a post about journal writing in general)

 

4) Get a hobby.  You probably already have one, but if you don’t, start researching things you may enjoy.  I’ve read that people who struggle with eating or emotional disorders often have “obsessive personalities”.  I like to say “passionate”, but whatever :).  Direct that passion to something that sings to your heart and fills you up.  Photography, painting, dancing, swimming, crafting, sailing, volunteering, etc.  Don’t feel like you have to be a pro at it either.  Take lessons or practice for the love of it.  If it’s something that you can’t access all the time, you can still read about it, study it, make Pinterest boards about t it.  You don’t have to be the best at it.  You just have to enjoy it.

5) Exercise.  It’s therapeutic.  It’s good for your mind and body.  This month SwanYoga is all about opening your heart and embracing where you are.  As you lengthen your muscles, release the tension and stress that comes from unbearable expectation.  Let go of negative thoughts that are robbing you of joy.  Contemplate the things you love about yourself.  If you’re having a hard time thinking of things that are lovable about you, ask me (or a friend, parent, child, etc!  I bet I can come up with lots of things.  It’s your time to reflect, heal and renew.

yoga workout

I want you to be the healthiest version of yourself mentally, physically, and beyond.  I am not a doctor of any kind, nor am I a trained counselor.  I am a real person who has experienced life, much like all of you.  I’m on this journey with you!

more important scale

(source)

With all that in mind, it’s totally OK to want to look great in a  bikini, have smoother skin and and a healthy glow.  Self improvement is not the enemy.  But, you are not what you eat.  You are not what you weigh.  You are defined by the way you feel about yourself and the way you make others feel.

I’ll see you on the mat for some heart openers…then I’ll push you to your limit in SwanFIt 🙂

 

If you or a loved one needs help coping with an eating disorder you can use this link to find support or counseling near you.

Before & After & After & After…

Off to see the wizard?

Miracle skin creams,  magic “get skinny” drinks and fat sucking procedures have tempted us all.  These products sell so well because we all want them to work.  If there were a cream or a magic pill that actually lived up to it’s claims, we’d all be slathered in it.  One thing I promise not to do to you is set false expectations.  The progress photos I share with you are a real clients, who’ve gotten real results.  The reason they’ve gotten such great results is because they did the work.  They followed the plan and they kept doing the work and following the plan.  I do my best to make the workouts fun so that you’ll keep doing them.  I taste test and hunger test the meal plan because I want it to be enjoyable enough for you to keep doing it.  The secret ingredient/magic pill here is consistency and longevity.  Let’s applaud these ladies.  They keep going!  It’s hard work, but it’s so much fun!! My goal is to provide you will fresh, fun workouts and delicious meal ideas that support lean, toned tissue and get rid of the dead weight (fat).

Check out these beautiful gals that have gotten real results!

chrissy before and after

JULIEB&FMelissa b and amacy before and after

 

These gals all have different goals.  Individually, they’ve lost anywhere from 10-75 lbs!  They’ve worked hard, had fun and made positive changes in their lives.  They are gorgeous inside and out!  I’d love to share your progress too!  If you haven’t already, take a picture of where you’re at right now.  Document this moment in your life.  You can share it with me or you can keep it private.  Commit or recommit to the program.  Follow it a little more closely, or get started if you’ve been on the fence.  In six weeks from now, take another picture and see how much progress you can make in just 6 short weeks.  Once you see that wonderful progress, you’ll want to keep going!  I love getting your pictures!  Don’t worry!  I’ll never post a picture you send me without getting your permission first.  Who doesn’t love a good before and after, right?

Challenge Accepted!

Now that you’re ready to go, full throttle: Let’s toss in a challenge move.  Throughout the course of the next 4 weeks or so, I’ve got a move for you to work on.  This exercise will torch calories as it tones your largest muscle groups.  You’ll be shaping your glutes and quads.  You’ll also be trimming your abs, leaning out your low back, smoothing out your hamstrings and sculpting your inner and outer thighs.  Drumroll please……..

challenge move

 

To execute this move, you’ll go from a deep curtsey lunge to an attitude leg raise to the rear.  Return back to the deep curtsey and continue to repeat for 16 reps.  Once completed on one side, switch legs.

While you’re practicing your challenge move, can you do me a favor?  Help me name it 🙂  Once you get the blood flowing, you’ll be inspired, I’m sure.  Name this move and share your ideas with me at the bottom of the post or on any social media site 🙂   You know where to find me!

An Inch Taller and an Inch Smaller

Hey SCSL’s!

Be my Valentine, please!  As my Valentine I want to share two things with you.  A delicious treat and a workout that will lengthen and tone your legs, arms and torso!  You’ll be looking long and lean for your weekend plans, whatever they are <3

The Long & Lean Routine

Up first is your quick and effective dose of barre.  This sequence is designed to strengthen and lengthen.  It tightens up through the core and extends all the way to the fingers and toes.  It’s simple enough to follow, so I want your main focus to be on posture and carriage.  Keep your abs contracted with the ribcage pressed slightly forward to keep the spine long and vertebrae stacked.  Grow through the crown of the head and keep your shoulders down away from your ears.  You’ll do 16 reps of each exercise unless otherwise noted.  Most of these are self explanatory, but let me clarify a few things:

long and lean routine

For the Plank with arm & leg extension, you’ll get into a high plank position (still keeping good posture).  You’ll reach your right arm in front of you, stretching it as long as you can.  At the same time, lift your left foot off of the ground, pointing the toe, keeping the leg straight and long.  You’ll repeat that 16 times on each side (alternating sides).

With the Slow motion wide pushups, keep the hands on either side of the chest with them very far apart (wider than a standard pushup).  Using slow and controlled motion, lower down until the elbows are parallel to the chest then press slowly back to the start position.  Your pace should be about 4 counts down and 4 counts up.  Do 8 reps of this exercise to complete 1 set. You can modify by lowering the knees to the ground for extra support.

The En qua leg raises are similar to the ones we do in our barre warm up.  Implement all posture advice 🙂 Then extending the leg in front of you, kick to the front and return to first position.  Do the same thing to the side and back, then to the side again.  Repeat 16 times in each position.  Make sure you turn around and do the same thing on the other side.

Go through all 5 of the following exercises, then go back to the beginning and repeat them all.  Do this routine 2-4 rounds total (depending on how much time you have and your current level of fitness.  Focusing on improve the posture will help you gain an inch or more in height (depending on your current posture) and will make you look like you lost inches everywhere else.  It’s an instant affect, so you must practice!

Time for the Treat!

Here is a fabulous recipe that I tested last weekend.  It is insane how easy, delicious and nutritious it is!  I got this recipe from KrisCarr.com.  I made the filling as it’s listed in her recipe.  For the chocolate, I didn’t have all of the ingredients, so I just melted one of these:

Endangered-Species-Chocolate-Dark-Chocolate-with-88-Cocoa-Gluten-Free-037014242478

This is my “go to” chocolate bar when I need a fix.  I usually keep a few in the freezer…ya know…in case of an emergency.  I tend to have frequent emergencies.  Click here for the recipe.  

a3221783961ff15107d2d1e059e954a6

(source)

That’s your finished product!  It’s the perfect treat for your Valentine (or yourself!)  Make sure you share.

Your turn!  Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?  Share your creative ideas with me!

 

Get Lean by Indulging

Get a Better Wagon

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “fallen off the wagon”, right?  We’ve probably all confessed falling of this metaphorical wagon at some point in our lives.  But think about it.  Do we actually “fall” off the wagon?  Or do we jump off?  Or perhaps our wagon gets hijacked or wedged under a Krispy Kreme truck.  It’s not our fault, right?  The hot donut light is distracting.  Our peers tell us “one piece won’t hurt” or “you don’t need to workout today”.  Or maybe you’re way too busy to get it in.  You don’t have time to prep meals.  “Stuff” comes up.   It can get lonely on the wagon if no one is riding with you.  Whatever the reason, I’ve heard it or maybe even proclaimed it myself.   If you’ve recently “fallen off the wagon” never fear.  Now is the perfect time to hop back on. But as SCSL’s (Strong Calm Sexy Ladies) let’s not hop back on a wagon.  Let’s step into an Aston Martin (or insert your dream car here).  And here is why:

708579d80a94c820715616dc2c0bc026

 

Oh, look!  It comes with a driver.  Yes, Please! (photo: theultralinx.com)

I don’t believe deprivation is effective.  It’s boring.  It’s exhausting.  It’s unrealistic.  I also don’t believe that putting garbage in your body is decadent or rewarding.  Making smart, healthy choices regularly is not depriving.  It’s respecting yourself.  But never say never to anything 🙂

I also don’t believe that we need to workout so intensely and so frequently that we miss out on enjoyable opportunities or live life in constant and chronic pain from overtraining.  I do believe that we can find time almost every day to challenge our bodies.  I think working up a sweat is good for our skin, our hearts, our minds and our butts.  I believe improving our balance and flexibility as well as building toned muscles is important to our quality of life and our ability to enjoy it (as well as look better while living it).

You’re this beautiful, exquisite creature.  We’ve already established that.  You’re faced with constant temptation:  The couch is calling your name.  The fridge is calling your name.  You’re friends (are likely, literally) calling your name, wanting you to share a plate of fries or have one more drink with them.  So how do you “stay in the Aston Martin” and enjoy the ride without isolating yourself from the rest of the world.

1)  Reward Yourself With FOOD!  Say whaaaaat?  You’re not supposed to do that!  Guess what, you’re going to.  No one is admitting it, but we’re all thinking it: “I’ve eaten so clean for weeks, I’ve totally earned this hot fudge pizza”.  Choose your food-ward wisely.  If your thing is ice cream, think about what your most favorite ice cream in the world is.  Have that.  Also, don’t have it at home (or if you do, have it with company).  Get dressed for it.  I’m talking full hair and make-up.  This is not a dessert rehearsal.  Make it a production.  Don’t blow your whole day.  Just focus on that one treat.  Treats should be decadent.  Skip the daily Skinny Cow 100 calorie bar.  Instead, go for your absolute-most-favorite indulgence and just go for it every couple of weeks.  ***Chronic dieting can lead to an imbalance of Ghrelin and Leptin (the hormones that tell you when you are hungry and satisfied).  It can also cause your thyroid to slow or stop production of hormones T3 and T4 (which regulate metabolism).  Having a proper treat will actually improve thyroid hormone production and prevent adrenal fatigue.  You don’t want to eat toxic waste (which I consider many processed foods), but  having he occasional indulgence will keep things working as they should*** “I’ll have a little clean treat (LCT) more frequently than that, but I reserve the big ones for these 2 worthy decadences:

I know you’ve heard me rave about Jeni’s Ice Cream.  If you haven’t, then you’ve missed at least 10 blog posts and/or you don’t know me at all!

c108d8d2c534252ec67e60c510b5d72f

 

 

(photo source:creaturesomfortsblog.com)

The other is my favorite local bakery.  Pattycake Bakery is in Clintonville.  Everything they bake is delicious and fresh.

57ae84441d2054a88c16519a730d2b03

(photo source: vegannewstoday.com)

Tell me! Where do you like to go or what do you like to make when you’re intentionally treating?

2)  Hang Out in Bars.  I’m not going for shock factor here.  Going dancing with your friends is fabulous exercise and great for reducing stress.  However, you can blow that whole theory out the window if you drink too much, so stick to 1-2 drinks (or none if you’re the DD) and keep them simple.  Clear liquor.  Wine.  Beer.  Something WITHOUT a lot of juices and syrups added to it.  If you don’t already drink, certainly don’t start.  But if you do, a little bit goes a long way.  If you’re having 2 drinks, sip a glass of sparkling water with lime in between beverages.  You’ll feel festive and still have something to sip on without the calories or added alcohol.  Plus, many brands of sparkling water contain minerals, which will help replenish some that have been depleted.  Eat something from your meal plan first so that you’ve had the proper balance of macronutrients before you go out.  This will also help keep blood sugar stable.  Of course, drink responsibly or not at all.  Have a designated driver.  You’ll have more fun, more energy and feel better the next day with that simple plan.

131119e5cbc80ed965dd9b823e9ab716

(Click here for source and PopSugar’s recos on low cal cocktails)

If you love dancing, but don’t love bars/clubs, never fear!  There are so many awesome ways to work the dance floor, no alcohol needed!  From ballroom dancing, to hip hop to line dancing, studios are popping up everywhere that offer classes for all ages.  Have a game system?  You can always pop-in one of my all time favorites:

91+ySEPjmrL._SY500_

If you don’t break a sweat, you’re not hitting it hard enough!  This is so much fun and an easy way to get moving.

3)  Treat Yourself Like a Queen.  Self care is worth it’s weight in gold.  Taking care of yourself goes beyond eating right and exercising.  Taking time to exfoliate, moisturize, get (or give yourself) manicures/pedicures, use a hair mask, whiten your teeth or get a massage isn’t just about looking good.  Treating yourself with treatments and daily pampering rituals increasing your self confidence and reminds you to value your personal well being.  It increases your own personal happiness allowing you to go out and spread that good mood to the world.  Don’t wait around for a limo to stop you on the street for ambush spa day (wouldn’t that be spectacular?) Just hop in your Aston Martin and try one of these DIY at home spa treatments:

c10f5fb9034223da50ffe4e7196ed683


(Link to Source and Recipe) 

d716cedcb73956e36914c5262fd57700

(Link to source and recipe)