The Importance of Weight Training

When a lot of people think of weight training, they think of meatheads in the gym growing their muscles into hulk-sized proportions. And while it is important to grow your muscles for a strong body, you don’t have to take it to that level just because you pick up a weight. Even if you don’t train hard enough to get six-pack abs, bulging biceps and buns of steel, you can still make huge #gainz to your health and overall appearance. Here are the benefits of weight training:

  1. Resistance training – what you do when you lift weights – increases bone density, which reduces the risk of fractures and broken bones especially in older adults. It also helps fight osteoporosis, which is extremely important for women.
  2. It increases your mental well-being by reducing symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Nothing feels better than getting out aggression and negative emotions by pushing and pulling heavy weights around.
  3. To piggy-back on the above, it boosts your confidence because when you focus on your strength improving, you take less focus off of what the scale is doing. So instead of thinking about what you don’t like about your body, you’re focusing on all of the amazing things it can do.
  4. It improves your posture. Muscular imbalances (aka which muscles are overactive and tight and which need to be strengthened) cause a lot of pain in our bodies by giving us improper posture. If you figure out what your muscular imbalances are by being assessed by a fitness professional – oftentimes you can be assessed for free – you can learn which muscles you need to strengthen to improve your posture and reduce daily pain and discomfort.
  5. It boosts your metabolism. The more lean muscle you have on your body, the more calories your body burns every day. That means you’ll still be burning lots of calories on those lazy Sundays spent on the couch.
  6. Stronger muscles means stronger cardio performance. Whether it’s running, biking, or swimming – having stronger muscles on those working limbs will help you go faster.
  7. It improves your heart health by lowering your blood pressure and improving cardiovascular strength.
  8. You’ll get a better night of sleep after being active, which will help you have more energy every day.
  9. It ups your brain power by improving your cognitive functioning, especially in older adults.
  10. You get to sculpt your body to look how you want it to look. Instead of being all skin and bones destined to be shaped according to your skeleton and natural fat deposits, you can use weight training to build muscle that will shape your body exactly how you want it. And weight training is a lot less expensive than plastic surgery!

If you’re unsure of how to start weight training, try out a free class at your gym or start working with a personal trainer! It’s always best to learn proper form from a professional when starting out because you don’t want to injure yourself and cause more harm than good. But the good news is, once you know the basics you’ll be able to fly free and be a lean, mean weightlifting machine all on your own 🙂 Go get ’em, tiger! A healthier you is waiting.

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy You,

Ashley


How To Avoid The Dreaded Holiday Weight Gain

It’s that time of year again! A season full of social occasion after social occasion that feels like an obstacle course of trouble for anyone worrying about their waistline. I myself have fallen victim to the dreaded holiday weight gain- sometimes putting on 15 pounds in just a couple of months! And we all know it takes way longer than a couple of months to get that weight back off.

So how do you maintain your weight, or even lose weight, this time of year without missing out on all of the occasions and holiday traditions it has to offer? It’s all about strategy, self-control, priorities and keeping your eye on the bigger picture.

While the other tools for success mentioned above are very important, the #1 factor to staying in control of your eating over the holidays is strategy. That means looking at your week to figure out when temptation is going to strike (i.e. a work party, a gathering with friends, or a family celebration) and knowing how to plan around that event. A good rule of thumb is to stick to one indulgence per week. That doesn’t mean one full day of indulgence, but one meal or time frame for indulgence. I like to call this your “treat meal” rather than a “cheat meal” because you’re not cheating on your diet/healthy lifestyle if it is a part of your weekly plan… but that’s another article for another day. This means that if you have two events during the week where you know temptation will strike, it’s best to stick to healthy eating/drinking at one and eat off-plan at the other. For instance, if you have dinner at a restaurant with friends on Wednesday and a big family celebration on Saturday, you could stick to healthy choices in-line with your normal diet at the restaurant and indulge in more carbs/fats/sweets/alcohol at the family event – or vice versa! However, if you feel that you are someone who has a lot of self-control and are not an “all or nothing” type of eater, you could also choose to indulge at both events during the week without going crazy at either. Think of it as having two half treat meals rather than one full one.

Another strategy is to be selective about the events you attend. Yes, there’s a desire and almost obligation to socialize like crazy during the holidays as the events seem to be never-ending, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to everything. Look at your calendar and decide which events you don’t think you’d regret missing and knock them off the list. And if there’s something that can be rescheduled until after the new year when there’s not so much going on – such as that dinner with friends – then move it to a week where it will be your only off-track day. Repeat after me: “It’s okay to not go to every event and to not schedule everything within the same few weeks even if that’s what others want.”

Now that we’ve accepted that socializing – however frequent – will be a part of our holiday season, let’s talk self-control. Just because there’s 3 different pastas, potatoes, bread, multiple fatty meats, dairy-doused vegetables, endless trays of desserts, and copious amounts of alcohol does NOT mean that you need to eat and drink all of it even if it is your treat meal. Oftentimes when we’re on a diet or simply sticking to a healthy way of eating, we have feelings of deprivation and lots of thoughts of “I can’t eat this. I can’t drink this. I can’t have this.” So many “I can’ts” make us go crazy on food when we finally say “I can”. So when you do socialize and decide to let loose, remind yourself that you can have those foods whenever you want. It is your CHOICE not to have them on a regular basis but you are always ALLOWED to have them. Taking away that restrictive mindset will help you to have more self-control when you are around foods that you don’t normally eat.

Finally, let’s talk priorities and keeping the bigger picture in mind. If strategizing and self-control seem to be failing you, ask yourself what is more important to you: what you are about to eat/drink or your health. Sometimes we are just so darn hangry that the answer is going to be the food in front of us and we won’t care about those last 10 pounds on the scale in that moment. But oftentimes by asking yourself that question you’ll be able to keep your bigger picture in mind and know that those few cookies that will be eaten within a matter of moments really aren’t worth it. Sure, you’ll enjoy eating them, but how will you feel 5 minutes later? An hour later? The next day? Probably not very good. Now, I’m not saying don’t have any cookies or pasta or alcohol. I’m saying that if it wasn’t what you *planned* to have as part of your strategy for the week and self-control seems to be fleeting, focus on the bigger picture to help you stay strong and committed to your health goals.

And if you do gain weight, don’t beat yourself up. The holiday season is a field of temptation landmines that gets the best of us. But as long as you stay focused on your bigger goals and committed to your health, any setback on the scale will be minor and easily fixed. So go out there and have a happy and healthy holiday season – with a few extra indulgences 😉 You got this!

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy You,

Ashley


What is “Integrative Nutrition”?

We all know what nutrition is. It’s concerning the food and beverages we put into our bodies and how it all nourishes us. So what is “integrative nutrition”?

Integrative Nutrition is the concept that food isn’t the only important factor to nourishing our bodies. You can probably guess that fitness is also an important factor to your health, but did you know that your relationships (whether they’re romantic, friendships or family), career, spirituality, and so many other facets of your life play a huge role in your overall health?

My favorite question that really gets to the core of integrative nutrition is: “Why do you do what you do when you know what you know?” In other words: If you know how to be healthy and the steps you should be taking daily to feel your best, why do you continue to make unhealthy choices that keep you from being the healthiest version of yourself?

For instance, you know you’re supposed to eat nourishing unprocessed foods at every meal and your plan is to go to the gym every night. Yet, multiple nights a week you find yourself leaving work to go home to eat pizza or ice cream along with a bottle of wine and you skip your workout. Or you go out for drinks and unhealthy restaurant food with co-workers or friends instead of going home to your healthy groceries and taking the spin class you planned on taking. Or, if you’re a parent, you eat the chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese you made for your kids instead of the healthy meal you planned on making for yourself. Why do so many of us make these choices when we know what the right ones are? Are we stressed about our jobs and need to let loose? Are we in an unhappy relationship – or unhappy because we’re not in a relationship – so we eat and drink our feelings? Are we tired and overwhelmed from all of our daily responsibilities that we feel like we can’t put the effort into one more thing? Or are we simply giving into social pressure from friends, romantic partners, and/or family only to regret it later and beat ourselves up for it?

There are countless reasons we make unhealthy decisions when we know the right ones to make and it is my job to figure out why those decisions are being made. Once you know the emotional triggers behind your unhealthy choices, you can start working on healing those issues and before you know it making healthy choices for yourself will come easy. It’s all about learning the right healthy choices for you, figuring out the “why’s” behind your unhealthy choices, coming up with coping strategies that don’t involve food, and becoming the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy You,

Ashley