Month: October 2016

And how do you implement it?

People have some one or some thing that drives them to do something, whether it’s reaching a goal or taking the first step towards something. For me, the things that motivate me are varied:

  1. time sensitivity (I want to be in shape by insert date here)
  2. vacation is coming and I want to be able to eat all the foods
  3. a party is coming up and I want to look fabulous in what I wear
  4. I feel blah and need something to pick me up; I need more energy
  5. Joe/Jane just lost bunch of weight and looks great – I need to do the same

The common theme I’m trying to illustrate here is motivation is fleeting; it comes to you and knocks on your door. Each of the things I listed has a time expiration date and a now what? at the end. Often times, motivation gets you started but doesn’t always carry you to the end. What does? Discipline.

A large part of what I stand for is habit building behavior. Once you have incorporated willpower and self-control and created habits that become automatic, you have cultivated discipline. By doing this, you re-wire your brain to help you achieve something sustainable and constructive.

To create habits and cultivate discipline, start with small changes. Know what you want to change and write it down. Know the reasons why you want to change and write it down. Having that reference is a great way to remind you of your purpose and reinforce your willpower. I recently had a homework assignment of asking 5 people what they struggled with most when it came to health and fitness. One of the answers I received was eating late at night. This gentleman said that his wife gets home from work later than he does.  He often has dinner with her around 8p or 9p, then heads off to bed around 10p. He really wanted to know how he could stop eating so late and shortly before going to sleep.

I suggested a few things he could try to see what worked best for him. He was already one step ahead by 1) knowing a heavy meal before going to sleep wasn’t a great idea and 2) being receptive to trying ways to eliminate the behavior. All he needed to do was make a small change in what he was doing to realize he was capable of self-control and feel more confident. He needed to make one habit automatic to realize he could build another one, and another one from there, and another one after that.

It isn’t easy to make changes; it takes time, self-awareness, kindness towards yourself, and patience. That’s why it is important to know what you want to change and why you want to change it. Don’t forget to reward your successes and feel gratitude over your discipline. You should wonder what you’re capable of and pursue those curiosities; take action because it’s better than doing nothing and action always leads to more action

Discipline isn’t easy, but in my book it definitely beats a lack of discipline.

I first have to say the photo credit goes to Michelle Tam – I wrote and asked her permission to use it as my featured image.

I’m a huge fan of Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo. I discovered her when I 1) was looking for Paleo-ish recipes and 2) looking for recipes using an Instant Pot. It was because of Michelle (look at me, calling her by her first name like I know her) that I even became interested in using an Instant Pot. She has so many recipes on her site here and she tweeted one day that Amazon was selling the IP as one of their daily deals. She declared it as a huge bargain, so I, along with lots of other people, snapped one up immediately. At first I was intimidated to use it; now I truly wonder why I didn’t buy one sooner.

I didn’t change anything about the recipe other than I used Goya brand coconut milk (I normally don’t buy that brand because I don’t care for it’s consistency, but I sent The Husband out to get it and it’s my fault for not specifying a brand). I didn’t have any cilantro on hand, but did have green onions so I added some on top when I served myself a bowl.

The recipe was a hit. We both enjoyed it very much and I can’t wait to make this again. Next time I’ll try adding a little heat to it, since I think it would taste even better with a little added spice.

Give this recipe a try and see if you like it!

Over the next few Wednesdays, I will be covering topics specific to physical fitness tests administered in certain careers such as law enforcement or the military. I’ll talk about the 1.5 mile run, push ups, pull ups, and the sit and reach test. If you or someone you know will be entering a career in law enforcement or the military and must participate in a pre-employment physical fitness test, I’m certified in administering the five phases of the Physical Efficiency Battery: the sit and reach test; body composition test; the bench press; the agility run and the 1.5 mile run. If you need help in any of the areas that won’t be covered in my Workout Wednesday topics, don’t hesitate to reach out – I’d love to help.

One of the ways I have increased my run time has been to incorporate interval training into my
workouts approximately 1-2 times per week. There are a variety of ways this can be done: on a track; on
a running path; or on a treadmill. The first time I tried sprints, I thought I was going to die. My strength coach prescribed them into my workouts when I made the decision to give triathlon a try. She said hill sprints were perfect for a beginner like me because I would avoid overstriding; she was afraid I would do so at first if I sprinted on a flat surface.

If sprinting is new to you, give hill sprints a try. After you complete a warm up, sprint up a hill at an intensity that is hard for you, but not out of reach. Once you reach the top, turn around and lightly jog down or walk back to your starting point (bottom of the hill). After these become easier (you can sprint at an effort of 7 or 8 out of 10), take your sprints to a track, running path or treadmill.

On a track:

After completing a warm up (about 10 minutes or 1 mile), sprint at about 70-90% effort on the straight parts of the track (100 meters). Walk to recover when you reach the curved part of the track (also 100 meters). When you reach the straight segment, sprint again. Recover. Repeat 6-8 times.

On a running path:

Complete a 5 to 10 minute warm up. Jog at an easy pace, then sprint at a hard effort for approximately
45 seconds. Walk to recover for 15 seconds (or longer if you need it), then sprint again. Repeat this 6-8 times.

On a treadmill:

Try either one of these.

Workout #1

Warm up for 5-10 minutes. After your warm up is completed, set the belt speed to 4 mph for 3 minutes. Maintain that speed for the duration of the workout and adjust the incline as you see below. You will notice the workout gets progressively harder, so pace yourself and push as hard as your body will allow.

If the workout is too challenging at the moment, lower the grade on each 2-minute segment to 0%. Keep
the 1-minute intervals as they are prescribed.

Time & Grade:

  • 1 minute 2%
  • 2 minutes 0%
  • 1 minute 4%
  • 2 minutes 2%
  • 1 minute 6%
  • 2 minutes 4%
  • 1 minute 8%
  • 2 minutes 6%

Workout #2

Warm up by running 1 mile at an easy pace. By the end of this warm up, your speed should be at 6.0 and 1% incline. After you complete your warm up, here is the workout:

  • .25 mile at 7.0 – 7.8
  • .25 mile at 5.0 to 6.0 (recover)
  • Repeat 4 times.

Again, these are designed to push yourself, but not to the point of failure. When you complete each workout, record: the speed you ran at; the level of your intensity (5/10, 7/10, 10/10 etc); how you felt; and whether or not you felt you could have done one more interval. This will help you see your progress.

On your non-interval days, you could actively recover by rowing, swimming, biking, or going for a light
run (the intensity should be moderate). You should also incorporate strength training sessions as well as mobility work to keep soreness or stiffness at bay. An example of your schedule can look like this:

Day 1 – mobility work (stretching and foam rolling) + interval run + lower body strength training

Day 2 – upper body strength training

Day 3 – moderate intensity active recovery (rowing machine, swimming, light run or biking)

Day 4 – mobility work (stretching and foam rolling) + interval run + lower body strength training

Day 5 – upper body strength training

Day 6 – moderate intensity active recovery (rowing machine, swimming, light run or biking)

Day 7 – rest

Strength training sessions, as well as active recovery sessions, don’t have to exceed 30 minutes. The focus is improving running, with strength as a compliment to it.

If you would like additional workouts for increasing your run time, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’d love to help in any way I can.

Every year around this time, I’m reminded of how quickly the year has gone by and that the holidays are just around the corner. It’s a time of overload on so many levels: gift shopping; grocery shopping; increased traffic due to all the shoppers; increased workloads from colleagues being out on vacation; families/friends coming to visit; and in some cases, impacts on your daily routines due to weather. And then there is the food. The Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner(s), Christmas dinner(s), holiday parties and New Year’s Eve celebrations. So. Much. Food.


In the past, this was a particularly hard time of year for me when it came to ignoring the temptations of extra treats, food and wine. Despite the goals I set of not over-indulging and instead, practicing mindfulness, I would fail because, well, food. Food (especially at this time of the year) is so delicious and comforting and it’s so easy to say, “That’s what January 1 is for!”


I can’t tell you how many times during the holiday season I had a huge meal and enjoyed it in the moment but regretted it soon thereafter. I would ask myself, “Why did I eat so much?” or tell myself, “I shouldn’t have had that second helping.” The majority of these meals took place in gatherings of family and/or friends and I never fully tuned in to my satiety signal because I was putting my attention towards the conversations I was having. In other words, I did not arm myself with the right mindset to pay attention to my body by chewing slowly, pacing my consumption, and paying attention to my satiety signal or a feeling of fullness.


How do I incorporate mindset? It is harder than it sounds, but when I commit to it, it becomes easy pretty quickly.


This year, I haven’t snacked on any Halloween candy, despite it being around me at the office. I am not perfect, though. My little treat comes on the evenings I am home…exactly 10 peanut M&Ms. Why 10? It is just the right amount to satisfy the craving of something sweet without over indulging. This doesn’t happen every night I’m home – it’s my from time-to-time treat. I eat one at a time and I space them out so 1) I don’t gobble them down all at once and 2) they last longer. At holiday dinners, I try to have a healthy snack or small meal prior to the celebratory meal so I will be somewhat full and not consume too much extra food. If I wasn’t able to pre-fill my stomach on a light, healthy meal, I eat what I want, but in smaller portions. I try to use the smallest plate available and load up on the protein first, then the cleanest vegetables possible (green leaf salad vs. green bean casserole, for example), and then a small amount of carbohydrates and a small portion of healthy fats. These strategies have worked for me and are habits I have incorporated with success.


How can you develop healthy eating habits during the holidays that can be taken with you into the new year? It’s not as hard as you think. Write down a list of the things you struggle with. If you have more than three things on your list, pick three things you think you can change. Of those three, pick one thing you know you can change. An example may look like this:

  1. Eating ALL the foods.
  2. Leaving nothing on my plate.
  3. Taking seconds.
  4. Trying all of the desserts.
  5. Having 3 glasses of wine.
  6. Eating more than 1 large meal in the same day.
  7. Eating unhealthy all day (breakfast, lunch and dinner).


That used to be my list. Three things I thought I could change were items 5, 7 and 3 (in that order). The one thing I was confident I could change was #5. Once I was able to have 1 glass (or none) of wine instead of 3, I was ready for change #2: eating unhealthy all day. I have had better success when incorporating one habit at a time, but under certain circumstances, I have been able to incorporate multiple habits at once, in a short time frame. This happened when I was going to a fitness instructor course and needed to lose 4% body fat in order to avoid being sent home. Talk about having some motivation – I locked down both mindset and discipline in the 4 weeks I had until my class date.


The takeaway here is moderation is key. Be mindful of what you put into your body, as well as how much you put into it. Chew slowly, take a moment between bites, and be attentive to the signals your body sends you as it starts to feel full.


What do you struggle with as we start to come into the hectic last few months of the year? What are your strategies for eating during the holidays? What is a habit or habits you can form now and take in to 2017?

I’m part of a coaching group that addresses topics such as strength training, nutrition and mindset. Each week we are given an assignment related to mindset and on Fridays, we discuss our feelings or reactions to the topic assigned.

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