Why I’m a Fitbit hater

I have a more than a couple of clients that are fitbit junkies, and even as someone whose passion is to motivate people to be healthy and move, this annoys me.
Fitbits and the like are extremely helpful in motivating people to get off their duff, to get the regular movement we need every day. Even I get motivated by that! What fitness-minded gal DOESN’T want bragging rights for 10 or 20,000 steps a day, right?

Here’s where I’m a hater: when clients tell me that they don’t come to their workout because they don’t get in as many steps during a strength workout as when they walk or jog around the block.

So, I’m setting the record straight. Here is the truth behind the controversy of strength vs. steps:
Study after study after study shows that, although there is value in cardiovascular exercise, strength training is better for your muscles, your brain, and weight management. So why, please tell me WHY would you waste an hour walking (not even walking in nature–I can totally see the value in that), instead of strength training for 30-45 minutes?

Holiday dessert that will impress

A couple of weeks ago, we had our occasional vegan gourmet club I lovingly call Veggie Fest.  You should try this.  Gourmet clubs have a reputation for being food orgies that usually involve a lot of decadent, unusual food with a theme, alcohol, and indigestion, so a VEGAN gourmet club might seem like an oxymoron.

Its actually one of the most fabulous and looked-forward-to event events at my house.  My HUSBAND even asks, “when’s the next veggiefest??” with anticipation!

None of us are actually vegan.  It all started when I flirted with veganism, or what I like to refer to as plant-based eating, after watching a few too many food documentaries.  I decided to try it for  as long as I could.  I made it 6 months.  Not too shabby.

We always impress ourselves about how good we have gotten at finding amazingly delicious recipes that use only plants, and we joke and laugh about how the first few dinners caused some “intestinal discomfort.”  Despite that, we hung in there and now share great recipes that we mostly get from other awesome vegan bloggers.

This past dinner I made a delicious Raw Orange and Blueberry Cheesecake (yes, vegan), from OneGreenPlanet .  YUM!  It’s not only impressive looking, but it really is delicious.  AND, you can make it for Passover or Easter (or for a summer birthday cake, or a baby shower, etc).  I made a few modifications, but otherwise I used the recipe on the OneGreenPlanet.

For the crust, I used 2 cups of hazelnuts and 1 heaping tbsp of raw cacao powder, about 10 dates and a pinch of salt.  This was combined in a  food processor until very fine and sticky.  I put it in a lined (with plastic wrap) springform pan.

For the main “cheesecake” layer, I followed the recipe here and added 5 drops of doTerra Wild Orange essential oil to give it a little more orange flavor (it needed it even with using the juice of 3 oranges and their zest). Only use doTerra brand.  Other brands are not edible.  Wild Orange also has awesome antioxidant properties (double bonus!). If you would like to order a bottle, just contact me.  (read  about essential oils here).

There were a lot of OOOH’s and AAAH’s.  The nutella-like crust was an amazing little extra.  There was none left over.  And all the ingredients are kosher for passover! YAY for healthy delicious Passover treats!!

Please let me know how YOURS turns out and if you made any modifications by leaving a comment below!  Happy Spring Holidays!!  Elyse

 

 

5 tips for swimmer wannabes–30 minutes to letting go of your fears

Fear.  Its probably the most powerful emotion we feel.  It can stop us cold, or it can push us to go far beyond we ever imagined.  And, its the number one thing that holds people back from doing any kind of sport involving swimming.  Understandably so, because drowning is a real danger for anyone at any age.  As a triathlon coach and an adult swimming coach I can understand why people would be reluctant to get in the water with 50 to 100 other people all flailing and vying to get to the first buoy and beyond without being kicked or swum over (or drowning).  It is intimidating, and even after 10+ years of triathlons I’ve still been overcome with panic attacks at the beginning, cramps in the middle, and exhaustion at the end of a long swim leg.

If you train right, have an ounce of courage, and follow these steps, I know you can do it AND you will probably come to maybe even LIKE swimming.  That was me about 12 years ago.

I didn’t know how to do a flip turn.  I got out of breath after 1 lap.  I thought 1 lap was from one end of the pool to the other.  I didn’t understand all the meter jargon.  When I read articles about swimming and looked for workouts it was like it was in some other language–a number equation that somehow I was supposed to learn in an algebra class.    I didn’t understand how people could like this!  It seemed so hard and exhausting!  I never thought I’d be able to swim 750 meters (about 15 laps) in a pool let alone in a lake with other people around, no lines, cloudy water.  None of that really matters now, 12+ years later.  I have had more personal revelations  in the water during a race than any other time in my life.

If you are willing to overcome some basic fears, you can learn to swim with ease.  Its not like its gonna happen overnight, but it will happen and its a lot easier than you think.

1.  Overcome your fear of being in a bathing suit.  Get a one-piece sport suit.  Because they fit tighter, you might actually look better than you think you would.  Even if you are horrified at the thought of getting in a bathing suit, remember that no one else really cares what you look like.  You are your own worst enemy on this front and overcoming this fear can make a real, positive difference in your perspective of yourself.  Its totally worth it.

2.  Fear of totally drowning.  Everyone has a fear of drowning.  Breathing air is kind of important to our survival, so going under water where we can’t breathe is unnerving, especially during exercise where you breathe even more.  Once you learn the secret to nor feeling like you will drown, you will have overcome one of the most basic fears of mankind and can accomplish pretty much anything.  This fear is so powerful–its grip on us is strong and innate, but breaking free from it is one of the most uplifting, gratifying things you’ll ever do.

3.  Fear of failing or looking weak (or like you have no freaking business being in the pool).  This is the second most-common fear, next to drowning.  The fear of not being able to swim an entire length of a pool, feeling ashamed that you’re so out of breath, or that you can’t swim without hanging on to the side after each lap, or flapping around the water looking ridiculous.  The truth is that we ALL start here.  The other truth is once you get down the 5 basics I share with you below, you’ll feel confident and like you could swim forever.

Sport and life is 99% attitude, and as you can see these first three criteria are all about getting in your head.  Actually getting in a bathing suit and walking on the deck of your gym’s pool is a huge accomplishment.  It takes guts, especially your first time.

So, assuming you got that far, and you are sitting on the deck of the pool, dipping your toes in to see if its warm, now you are probably wondering–what the hell do I do now??? Here it is.  I’m gonna lay this out for you in 5 steps:

1.  Do this:  Swim one length of the pool–from one end to the other–and see how you feel.  Are you out of breath? did you hold your breath when under water?  This is the most common thing people do.  After all, isn’t that what our swim teachers said when we were little?  “Hold your breath under water” for fear that we would breathe in or wouldn’t instinctually know what to do.

Almost every adult and kid I have ever met who struggles with swimming do not breathe OUT when their face is in the water, or they keep their face out of the water and crane their neck so much it hurts and have to hold their breath.

2.  Do this:  stand in the water, bend over the surface of the water.  breathe in.   Put your face in the water and push that water out through your nose and mouth.  Simply put, make lots of bubbles (that’s what we tell kids).  turn your head to the side and breathe in again.  turn your face back to the water and breathe out completely.

This is a little secret of physics that helped me to really understand this and have faith in my lungs and my body’s ability to do this:  when you breathe out completely–pushing all the air in your lungs–you create a negative pressure in your body so air forcefully enters your body when you open your mouth.  So, when you push all the air out of your body underwater, you automatically breathe when you open your mouth as you turn your head and your mouth comes out of the water.

NOTE:  You are probably saying: what if I get water in my mouth??? just spit it out on the exhale into the water.

   3.  Now, do this:  swim half the pool preferably with a freestyle stroke (or a breast stroke), focusing solely on breathing out when you’re face is in the water, and breathing in when your face comes out of the water.  Consciously force the air out of your body when your face is in the water.  This will create that negative pressure so when you turn your head to breathe in, the air will automatically fill your lungs.  After you do this for half the length, swim from one end to the other.  Its okay if you forget or poop out.  Simply focus on getting your breathing pattern down.  You can even say to yourself in your mind, breathe in, breathe out, etc.  It might sound stupid but its very effective (and its not stupid).

The next most important thing when doing any stroke is pretending the water is your pillow when your face is out of the water.  when you sleep (hopefully) you don’t crane your neck to look at the ceiling all night as you lie on your stomach.  You are either face down into your pillow, or your ear is on the pillow and your face is looking to the wall.  this is how you swim too.  When we lift our heads too far out of the water, our lower half falls and then we are just dragging half our body through the water.  But, when the water’s edge hits the crown of your head (kind of like where your sunglasses would be if they are propped on your head), the bottom half evens out.

4.  Do this: lay in the water face down, and look straight down at the bottom of the pool, like you are looking for a lost earring or diamond (I call this “looking for diamonds”–you never know what you’ll find at the bottom of a pool!).  When you go to breathe in, simply turn your head to the side and look at the wall of the pool (like where the numbers are in the tile).  Do one length of the pool breathing out and looking for diamonds at the bottom of the pool, and breathing in, turning to the side to look at the tile.

Once you have gotten your breathing and head position down, a lot of your form falls into place and you don’t feel like your flailing.  You might even feel like you’re gliding a little.  No matter what, the head position and the breathing are key, so keep practicing that.  Of course, to feel like we are actually accomplishing something, its nice to be able to swim longer than one length.

Inevitably there will be a time where you feel like you can’t catch your breath or you’re in the deep end and you get a cramp.  Having a safety stroke to fall back on is key to overcoming your fear of drowning.  Mine is the side stroke.  My criteria for a safety stroke is: it has to be easy for you, your mouth is easily out of the water, and its somewhat relaxing.  Side stroke is great, because your head and neck are relaxed (vs. breast stroke), you can see where you are going (vs. backstroke), and you can still keep moving in a more relaxed state.

5.  Do this:  swim 2 laps of freestyle as you learned above, with breathing and head position.  Then switch to your safety stroke.  Having this in your “back pocket” will give you so much confidence.  You will enter the water knowing that you will not drown.  It might take you longer to finish than you’d like, but over time you can work on that.  Having a safety stroke you know that now matter what, your biggest fear won’t happen.

Try this, share it, and let me know how it goes in the comments below!!! I want to hear how it felt to overcome your fears.  I know others will read it and be inspired.  Please share your accomplishments!!

Happy Swimming…Elyse

cholesterol not the cause for high cholesterol–stop taking statins

I was researching high cholesterol today, not because its “Heart Health Month” but because one of my family members (who shall remain nameless–and no, its not me) has high cholesterol.  I was surprised that their doctor said they should go on a low cholesterol diet, because anyone in the health community with half a brain should know that dietary cholesterol does not cause high cholesterol.

Back when I was an undergrad, I worked in a lab where we studied cholesterol and atherosclerosis, so I know a thing or two about this.  Back then, in the 80s (yes, 30 some-odd years ago) we knew that the primary cause of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is inflammation of the arterial wall.  Despite that finding, the pharmaceutical industry created statins to control endogenous cholesterol (cholesterol made by our own bodies in the liver).

Because I’m not a doctor a lot of people don’t take me very seriously when I tell them this, and how to fix it.  So,  when I came across this great article by a heart surgeon I wanted to share it right away.   Dr. Lundell does an amazing job summing up why taking statins isn’t really helping “cure” heart disease, how a major component of our American diet is killing us, and clears up major myths about the #1 killer of women in the U.S.

Click here to read the article 

Please read the article, pass along to your loved ones, share on Facebook and share a comment with ME below.

Here’s to our amazing, healthy, miraculous bodies!  Elyse

Snow day? here’s something to chew on…

winterscene

Its another snow day here in Cincinnati.  I really love snow days because its a great excuse to cocoon (interpret as sit in front of fire, read, watch movies, work on the computer), and do anything except exercise.  Ever since I got pneumonia several years ago, I can’t run outside.  One more excuse to skip my workout.

But, this year is different because I am committed to training (yes, actually following a training program like I teach) for a May triathlon.  Let me back up a little bit.

So, for the past two years or so, I haven’t been racing, so I haven’t been training.  I’ve been so busy training others that it was really hard for me to get my own training in.  And my friend and training partner got sick 2 years ago, then was working ungodly hours at work.  So that’s my excuse.  I was unmotivated and kind of was in victim/blame mode.  This year something is different.  I actually heard myself.

You know what I mean.  Its like we have this conversation in our heads:

me: I should run today

my head: oh yeah, lets call Mary and see when she can go

me: she can’t go, boo ho0.  I should go anyway.

my head: yeah, but it won’t be as fun, and maybe when you get there it might hurt and then I’ll be sore or hurt myself, and besides its cold out.

me: yeah, better play it safe.

Okay, so then one day in January I was able to step back and really hear myself.  I was like–Oh my gosh!! I sound just like the clients who never come to the gym!  I am so lame!! I am letting everything get in the way of me working out!  If I want to change then I have to take charge and do it.  Pull up my big girl panties.  and Just Do IT.

So, for the past two weeks I have been spinning and running, doing brick workouts, lifting, swimming.  This morning I ALMOST fell back into complacent mode, but I went to the gym (thanks to some motivation from my daughter) and had an awesome workout!!!  Feels so good!  Victorious over my sloth-like tendencies.  🙂 Here is what I did on the treadmill while I watched part of the Pink Panther (I did weights yesterday and missed spinning so I did this today):

Ran at 5.5 (rather slow) for 3 minutes. Then did tabatas at 7.5  (thats 20 seconds run hard/10 rest 8 times).  I rested at 4.0 then sped up to 6.0 until I got to 10 minutes.  Then I did another tabata set same as the first.  Rested until 16 minutes and ended with another tabata set.  That brought me to a little over 2 miles and 20 minutes.  Felt great!!!  Don’t get me wrong.  It was hard, but I have to share this key insight:

As I was doing my second set of tabatas (at about the 4th round), I started to feel more relaxed.  I definitely was keeping track of my form, very conscious of using my core and hamstrings/glutes, but I started to feel like I could breathe slower.

Physiologically this isn’t really earth shattering, but I want to share it with you because of this:

We tend to feel that something is hard and then stop because it hurts, or we feel weak.  This happens when I swim.  My first 100 m my arms are burning, but then it goes away.  Push ups are the same way.  Once warmed up, the muscles, given the proper rest, can keep going and the burn goes away.

So, two lessons here…

#1:  Listen to yourself.  are you playing the victim card?  do you blame other people, your situation, your family for not doing what you really want/need?  work that out.  being a victim is all in your head, so you can change it.  Read a book for inspiration about an athlete who beat all odds and conquered the worst to rise above.  this is a great story.  Listen to some inspiring music like Eye of the Tiger or Firework.  Might sound kind of corny but it works.

#2: Keep going.  Don’t stop when your muscles start to burn (there is a difference between burn and hurt–listen to your body).  Push past the burn and see if it goes away.

Happy snow day!  Share your favorite snow day workout in the comments below!

Elyse

Kosher for Passover treat that is healthy too! BUCKEYES!!

Every 3-4 months we invite some friends over for a gourmet club.  This is no ordinary gourmet club, though.  When you think of gourmet club, usually very decadent dishes come to mind, but this dinner club is focused on healthy food.  So, most people would think aaah, no thanks!  But, the food is DELICIOUS!  And, that is really the whole point: to show (especially the hubbies) how eating healthy can be scrumptious. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that its a VEGAN gourmet club, even though no one in the group is actually a practicing vegan.  I will tell you about the conception of our group another time (and hopefully it will inspire you to start your own!!), because I really want to share this surprisingly delicious recipe for Buckeyes.  Not only are the vegan (gotta use vegan dark chocolate to be official–but that is readily available these days), they are A LOT healthier than the traditional version which uses about a pound of confectioners sugar. 

 

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The sweetness in this recipe comes from medjool dates, which are high in fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.  They are so easy and take so little time, I’m just gonna share so you can get to it! 

Oh, and I forgot, it being the weekend before Passover, this is a great dessert!!!  As long as you eat peanut butter or you can also use almond butter. 

This is not my recipe.  Someone in the group made them (Diana Klein)–Thank you Diana!

Rolos/Buckeyes (I think I’ll call them Buckos :-))

7 oz or 1 cup of pitted soft Medjool dates. If they are not really soft, soak them in water for 30 minutes then drain
2 TBL peanut butter
pinch of sea salt

mix the above in a food processor and pulse until a sticky paste forms.
scoop into a bowl and freeze uncovered for 10 minutes
line a plate with parchment paper and roll into balls and place on the parchment paper. it helps if your hands are wet.
freeze for 10 minutes to firm up.

Chocolate Coating
1/2 to 1 cup of dark chocolate chips.
1/2 tsp coconut oil
melt chocolate in either the microwave or in a saucepan.

stick a toothpick in the date mixture and dip each ball in the chocolate to coat.
place back on the parchment paper.
freeze when done. Keep frozen until you are ready to eat.. Enjoy

 

YUMMNESS!!!! Happy Holiday!!

 

3 ways to maintain sanity during the weekend

Many times I hear from clients that its easy to stay on track during the week, but the weekend throws them off course.  Here are 3 ways to stay focused on eating healthy, getting some activity, and relaxing with family.

1.  Wake up a little earlier than everyone else, even if its only 30 minutes.  I know this may be your only day to sleep in, but if you wake up on YOUR terms and not someone elses, you will be a much happier person.  The quiet of the house is relaxing.  Read something inspirational, pray, or read the paper.  Go to the gym.  Eat a homemade protein-rich breakfast for yourself.  Savor your tea or coffee in the morning, instead of gulping it down. 

2.  If you are inundated with “weekend activities” for your kids, consider exercising while they are exercising.  You can take a walk around the school, run around the field (great way to stay warm), do the stairs.  This burst of activity will help you stay focused on your kids and not resenting the time on your butt.  If you are inundated with NON-kid activities, consider how often you say “no.”  This was a huge one for me.  As women, many times we feel we need to do everything (because no one else will do it, or do it right, or we need people to need us).  You do not need to do everything.  You DO need to take care of yourself and do some restorative things.  You DO need to relax.  Running running running all the time can cause major health issues, especially in women.  Don’t take relaxing lightly.  It is vital to a healthy, sustainable, purposeful life. 

3.  Designate a day or even just an hour, to doing something as a family.  It can be preparing a healthy meal together, or playing a game, or doing an activity together.  Two things that I love doing with family and friends is going to the trampoline gym and bowling.  Think outside the box. 

BONUS TIP!!  To stay focused the rest of the week, plan some time on Sunday to prep some meals for the week.  This can be a family event or some time for you to chill in the kitchen with your favorite tunes playing.  Invite some friends and make it social!  Here are a few great recipes to start with:

bean and cheese burritos (add chicken, fish, or beef if you like).  these look awesome!! Make ’em and freeze ’em.  Then take them out and warm them up or put them in your lunchbox to thaw.  

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OR try this:  Slow Cooker White Bean, Chicken, and Quinoa Soup–freeze portions in ziplock bowls.

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You can eat this anytime!  Also freezable!  Roasted Zucchini and onion fritatta wrap

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