Informational

Healthy Lifestyle Resolutions: It’s Not Too Late to Start Over

weight-loss-transformation

Did the clock strike twelve, fireworks go off and you resolved that it was going to be a “New Year, New You” kind of year? Well, now that we’re midway into February, this is the perfect time to reflect on your progress to see how those resolutions you made are coming along .

Sticking With New Year’s Weight Loss Goals

Sadly, this time of year is about the same time that gyms and fitness clubs start to empty out — as half of all New Year’s resolutioners start to lose sight of their goals and give up.

The Stats

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute‘s 2017 survey of 1,273 online, 216 phone, and 73 in-person respondents, 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions.

Of those resolutioners, 32% of the resolutions were weight related.

When asked about how many actually kept with their resolutions after a month into the new year, only 58.4% of respondents felt that they kept up with their resolutions after January.

What’s more, only 9% of respondents felt that they were successful in achieving their resolutions at the end of last year. This means that 91% of the people that made New Year’s resolutions felt that they were not successful in achieving their goals — holy moly, that is a huge percentage of people that probably feel ashamed and guilty for not following through with their goals, me thinks.

The How To

So what does it take to achieve those weight loss goals? A quick google search defines New Year’s resolutions as a tradition in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior. But what I’ve learned over the years and after taking on countless new clients around this time of year, is that you need more than just resolve to change an undesired trait or behavior.

Setting Healthy Lifestyle Goals: Where to Start

  1. What is your overall objective?
  2. How much time can you invest in achieving your particular goal? (Think hours per day, per week and number of months.)
  3. How much money or resources do you want to put towards your goal?
  4. How much effort are you willing to put in to reach your goal? (Use a 1-10 scale, anything less than a 7 rating usually means your goal is not as important to you as you think.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I too have failed in keeping many a resolutions in the past — But after many years of learning about human behavior, and of course through trial and error,  I know one thing for sure, it takes a few strategic tactics for health and weight loss goals to stick.

Take for example, my client Nadia (pictured above). She was able to achieve her new year’s resolutions of meeting her weight loss goals. But what did it really take? How was she able to find herself in the coveted 9% of resolutioners that met their goals? After all, she was working full time while starting her own business on the side, as she completed her masters degree and embarked on new life experiences. As tall a feat as it may seem, I promise you, you can also meet your weight loss goals the way she did. Read more to learn how to take the 4 questions above and put them into action.

The Healthy Resolution Plan: The Follow Through

First, you really have to want it. Don’t overbook yourself. You can’t want to lose weight, but also want to work more, read more, give more work presentations and spend more time with friends. In theory all of those things sounds great and doable at the same time, but when it comes to your resolutions, you have to make your goals a top priority.

Continue reading “Healthy Lifestyle Resolutions: It’s Not Too Late to Start Over”

Informational

Freedom From The Norm: How An Online Trainer And Coach Works

Online-Fitness-TrainerSome people just don’t like working with a personal trainer. They may like the idea of having someone to consult with, or the added motivation a trainer provides, but they’re just not into making or keeping tight one hour appointments at the gym or having someone yell— “gimme just 1 more rep!” —into their ear.

I don’t blame them. I’m a certified personal trainer, and even I don’t like forcing my clients into a rigid schedule, where they dread coming to see me.

Like my clients, I much prefer a flexible schedule. This is why all of my packages are offered online. Many of my clients are busy professionals, some with kids, some without. Time is precious to them and they don’t always have the luxury of dropping into workout classes at a set time.

How Online Strength & Nutrition Guideance Works

  • I provide you with a series of online questionnaires
  • You fill out the online forms and send back to me
  • I obtain all the necessary information I need (such as your goals, weight, height, fitness level, stress levels, fitness and nutritional likes, dislikes, allergies, injuries, concerns, etc.)
  • I create a customized personal training program and macronutrient focused meal plan for you

Strength and Conditioning

What most people need is a customized plan that gives detailed information on what exercises to do, on what days. Sometimes exercises will include machines or weight resistance, other times it may be body weight exercises or plyometrics. Everything fits together to target your specific goals and keep your body on your toes.

Don’t know how to use the equipment at your gym properly? No problem, I send you videos, photos and descriptions if that’s an issue. All workout plans keep in mind your fitness level, load, intensity, frequency and the various equipment you may or may not have available to you. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to these plans. Everything is tailored to your needs.

Nutritional Counseling

My clients aren’t into fad diets, instead they want to eat real food, with the correct portion sizes for their activity needs and fitness levels, while losing body fat and gaining muscle in all the right places. I calculate your macros, and give you a workable schedule of suggested meals and recipes that fit those macros (that’s the hardest part for most people) and fit your daily life. Continue reading “Freedom From The Norm: How An Online Trainer And Coach Works”

Health

The Joy of Better Health: Preventing Heartburn With 5 Simple Solutions

JumpForJoyAcidRefluxIf you have ever experienced heartburn, you’ll know that it is no joke. It’s not just annoying, but it’s actually quite a dangerous signal of your overall health.

Many years ago, I had heartburn that persisted over a few weeks and when I told my doctor about it she just waved it off and said that it was probably too much acidic foods and that she would prescribe me some medication for Acid Reflux. The medication worked, but as soon as I came off of it, the heart burn came right back. That was quite some time ago, nowadays I know a lot more about Acid Reflux and indigestion, and the types of foods and diets that bring about heartburn.

Most often, it’s not just one meal or food that does it, instead it is a series of meals and bad habits that create an acidic environment in the body by dropping the body’s natural pH balance to below 7.35. Acid forming foods are definitely a culprit, but most people don’t realize that it is not acidic fruits and foods like lemons, tomatoes and sauerkraut that disturb the alkaline balance of the body, but instead it is “acid-forming foods” such as processed foods and packaged goods that cause acidosis in the body and subsequent harm.

A low pH and acidic environment within the body is the perfect growing conditions for a bacteria called the Helico Pylori Bacteria (a.k.a H. Pylori) which inhabits the stomach and the esophagus. H.Pylori stimulates cells in the stomach to produce excessive amounts of gastric or hydrochloric acid which can make their way back and up into the esophogus causing “Heartburn” or Gastro-Esophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD). Doctors usually prescribe a heavy dose of antibiotics for H.Pylori, but since the antibiotics themselves can often do a lot of harm, eating the right foods can re-balance the gut to create an alkaline environment (not allowing the H.Pylori to thrive). I can honestly say that just by switching to whole foods and cooking at home, I have been able to experience better overall health, prevent heartburn and not take any medications whatsoever, which literally has me jumping for joy!

As for Acid Reflux medication, those just mask symptoms and can often have many side effects as well. My doctor should not have waved off my heartburn as if it were no big deal. It’s great that she recognized food could be a source of the problem, but she should have elaborated on what foods were actually “acid-forming” to the body and also advised me to see a nutritionist.

Preventing heartburn can be a way of preventing bigger problems down the road and since there are already lots of lists out there to help alleviate heartburn once you have it, I have instead created a list that will help balance your gut flora and keep you from experiencing heartburn in the first place.

5 ways to clean up your diet and keep heartburn at bay:

Continue reading “The Joy of Better Health: Preventing Heartburn With 5 Simple Solutions”

Exercises

Snow Free Winter Activities

Winter_Activities_Batting_CageSome people love winter because they can finally take advantage of all the winter sports that cold weather offers. Skiing, skating, snowboarding… all sports that I would LOVE to love, but I’m too busy trying to keep warm. So what’s an active, adult with a probable case of ADHD  to do in the dreaded cold? I’ve decided to create my own “winter” activities.

I’m not just talking about going to the gym or a group fitness class on the daily (those are year-round activities), I’m talking about making the special effort to find an indoor arena to take advantage of a warm spot to play, jump and move around. I’m personally juggling a lot of different things right now, so I don’t have time to join a league or take part in sports that need the time commitment of other people. Instead, I’m always looking for activities that I can drop in on without a lot of planning or too many participants. This is where my need for lists comes into play. I’ve put together a little list of three indoor activities you can find in most major cities that offer a lot of bang for your buck. To make the cut, the activity needs to be fun, keep me fit and burn some calories while I’m at it. So here I present you with my little list of three:

Indoor sports and activities for the non-team player:

  1. Trampolining: Jumping against gravity works the heart muscle. This cardiovascular activity increases heart rate and pulse rate, and can increase bone density as well. Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park, also claims that trampolining tones up your glandular system, especially your thyroid glands, and improves digestion.
    • Approximate Calories Burned: 300-500 calories per hour.
  2. Batting Cages: Swinging the bat means that you get to workout your core (think obliques), butt, back (your lats), chest and forearms.
    • Approximate Calories Burned: 150-300 calories per hour
  3. Driving Range: Like the batting cage, all the twisting, turning and hitting works to sculpt your core muscles, back, chest, arms and shoulders. Basically using all those muscles that you don’t get to workout when slouching in front of the computer at work.
    • Approximate Calories Burned: 100-300 calories per hour

I have a couple other indoor sports in mind that I’ve been dying to try out, but for a bit of suspense and anticipation, I’ll keep you posted on those. Winter is super long in Chicago, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to try out some other indoor sports to report back to you with. Till then, keep warm and try something new, you may just learn to love winter if you don’t already.

To being Positively Strong, all year long,

Sunny

Food

Homemade Cold Remedy: Hot Spiced Lemonade

Best_Cold_RemedyI have an amazing cold remedy for you in the form of a hot drink. In fact it is an amazing remedy for any sort of inflammation in the body, as it is abundant in vitamin C and contains inflammation fighting spices like turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. This drink also contains ginger, honey, garlic (don’t let this little guy scare you off, garlic is the key to keeping away that cold) and fresh juice of the lovely lemon. Everyone that has ever tried this drink, has always commented that they didn’t expect it to taste so good – I promise you, it’s delicious.

Without further adieu, here is my own recipe. You can always adjust a couple of ingredients to your taste, but I recommend you first try it as it is to get a full blast of immunity building nutrients. I always make a large batch so that I can drink it throughout the day.

  • 6 cups of water
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 large, juicy lemon (if your lemon is small or not very juicy, use 2 of them)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (peeled, chopped, and let sit for 5 minutes before adding to water)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh minced ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 pinches of turmeric
  • 2 pinches of cayenne pepper

Bring six cups of water to a boil, reduce heat to medium and mix in honey. Next, add all of your ingredients and simmer back to a boil for about 10-15 minutes. Use a ladle and strain into a mason jar or directly into a cup. This recipe should give you about 4-5 servings.

I have previously written about eating well to build a strong immune system, but you can even drink this after a heavy workout, when your muscles are primed for a dose of vitamins. Follow the tea up with a good source of protein and you will have less muscle ache as your tissues rebuild. And remember, I am not a doctor, so if you are on any medication (i.e. some studies have found that blood thinners and garlic don’t mix too well) or have any allergies, please check with your physician first.

To a Positively Strong Winter,

Sunny

Food

Why You Shouldn’t be Afraid of White Rice

White_Rice_vs._Brown_RiceDon’t you just hate it when just as you are about to take a bite of your food, someone decides to tell you about all the dangers lurking in that bite?

If only I had a dollar for every time someone did this to me, I would be able to buy a lifetime worth of white basmati rice! Mmm… fluffy basmati rice, I could eat that everyday, and you know what? My Persian ancestors did eat it every day, as do many people of countries where rice is a dietary staple.

I’m sad to say that before I made a commitment to learn more about the science of nutrition, I too was easily swayed by all of the food propaganda that is out there in the world. New food studies, talk shows, the news, advertisements, blog articles and new food products, they are all constantly contradicting themselves and each other by pushing new food trends and products. They cite a research study and all of a sudden a whole new “healthy” food product is created to replace what you and your ancestors were eating for eons before.

The problem with a lot of studies come down to their methodologies and they sometimes make generalization and associations between factors that aren’t always correlated. Take for example, a 2012 study that claimed white rice consumption is associated with a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes. Immediately people take this to mean that White Rice = Diabetes which is absolutely not true nor the case. In reality, the study was making an associates between the “risk” of diabetes and rice consumption, where a significant spike they observed was that 20% of diabetes prevalence in their study was in the United Arab Emirates, a country with high white rice consumption. Yes, they eat a lot of rice in the UAE, but because it is one of the richest countries in the world, people also tend to eat a lot of sugar, processed foods and a lot of everything else in excess. If anything, diabetes incidence goes down as rice consumption increases, which is evident in countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, where they have the highest white rice consumption and have very low rates of diabetes.

Here is a map released by the Wall Street Journal from the International Diabetes Federation that shows the 2013 prevalence of Type 2 diabetes around the world. You can see that a lot of countries who have historically eaten a lot of white rice like basmati or jasmine rice actually see much lower diabetes prevalence.

Diabetes_Map

The other problem is that people don’t realize that there are many different rice varieties (about 40,000 different varieties exist in the world) with different compounds to each one. Continue reading “Why You Shouldn’t be Afraid of White Rice”

Uncategorized

Life is a Beach: Balancing Stress

Life-is-a-beachMy life has been pretty hectic lately. It would be so easy to just give up on cooking healthy meals at home, or to push my workouts to the bottom of my list or skip them altogether. But the truth is, eating out every night just to save myself an hour or two of prep does a big disservice to both my body and mind. Skipping that workout might save me another hour, but I will spend triple that amount of time feeling guilty, or lose even more time in the future with pain or injury from lack of strength training. I have a lot of work and studying to do and not being at my optimal best is really not an option for me.

Eating well should not be an afterthought. Making it to the gym for a quick 45 minute workout shouldn’t be a crazy concept and going to bed earlier to ensure you are getting enough sleep is crucial to your daily success. Taking care of your self is not selfish, it is only logical.

Don’t daily work tasks seem like mountains when you are tired? And don’t meetings with colleagues seem so much more stressful when you are hungry? Why set yourself up for failure by not taking the steps do a little prep work? Just remember, don’t create more work for yourself, instead think about working smarter.

5 Easy Ways to “Self-Care” and Prepare for a Stressful Day Ahead

Continue reading “Life is a Beach: Balancing Stress”

Uncategorized

Breaking The Mold: Your Image Does Not Define You

working_out_body_imageHey you.

Do whatever you want. Really. Be anything you want to be… Anything. You. Want.

Don’t conform to the image that others perceive you as having, unless you have worked hard to project that certain image, but even then the chances are high that what they perceive and what you perceive are two completely different things. That’s just how it is, no two people can truly think alike, it’s not human nature, so again, just do whatever you want.

For instance, doesn’t it seem so silly that people assume if you have blonde hair, that you must somehow not value knowledge and learning? Or if you grew up overweight, and had bad grades in gym class, that you are destined to forever hate all types of physical activity. Maybe you had a bad gym teacher, maybe you were being bullied at that time in that class, or that your life experiences hadn’t shown you the importance of being healthy yet. Whatever the reason, now you can be whomever you choose to be.

Often others can’t handle this and they don’t know what to do with themselves when they realize you have broken out of the mold they had you in. That is not your problem. Your only task is to be happy, to pursue happiness and be happy with yourself. Simple right?

Lesson’s from my Hair Dresser

A few months ago, I was sitting in my hair dresser’s chair and he told me that he had been doing some construction on his home. My hair dresser is a very sweet man that works magic on thick, coarse hair like mine. He spends all day long talking cut and color, perms and highlights, while going home to his wife and raising his two sons, tending to his vegetable garden, using power tools to build a new addition to his home and watching soccer with a cold beer in hand. Continue reading “Breaking The Mold: Your Image Does Not Define You”

Uncategorized

The Secret To Looking Good

FeelingGoodSometimes it’s easy to let other people’s insecurities get to you. They start making comments like “I hate my thighs”, or “I can’t eat that, I need to lose like 5 pounds!” or even worse, “don’t you just hate how we can’t be as skinny as her?” and you start thinking that there must be something wrong with you and that maybe you too should be thinking twice about eating that last morsel.

I know that I don’t have the thin body you see in the media, but there is no reason for anyone to body shame me for not wanting to aspire to someone else’s ideals. I could turn the tables and start talking about how sick and skinny those models look (and probably feel), but what would that achieve? That is negativity that starts weighing down on your soul and I just want to fill my life with light and positivity, besides, ain’t nobody got time for that!

I am constantly reminding myself that my legs helped me squat 200lbs, or that my shoulders helped me hold my handstand in a strong, stable position. My body is strong, I love nourishing it with nutritious foods, and I love feeling happy and healthy from all the vitamins in what I eat and the endorphins that exercise gives me. Other people will always have their opinions, but how they feel about your body has nothing to do with how you actually feel.

So pssst…the secret to looking good is to feel good. If you feel good about the decisions you are making (like making an effort to cook at home and making time for exercise), if you fill your belly with healthy nutritious foods that gives you the proper vitamins and nutrients to fuel your body, and if you surround yourself with positive people, you are bound to feel and look good.

I guess that’s not really a big secret is it? It just gets easier to do with practice, so let’s start with small steps and get to a point where other people’s opinions are just that… their opinions and not ours.

To Being Positively Strong,

 

Sunny

 

Uncategorized

A Healthy Body Image: Strong Mind, Strong Body

Strong not SkinnyAll through my university years, I was competing heavily in Karate. I was weight training 3 times a week, karate training 4 times a week, and running every other day to maintain my 117lbs to compete in the lightweight division. During the off season, I would go easy on maintaining my strict diet and I guess what you call “bulk” a little. I was quite lean, and probably a little under weight for my 5’5 frame, since I have never been able to get down to that weight again while trying to maintain a good amount of muscle.

I remember one Halloween party during the off season, a guy I had met at another party once before, came up to me and said “Wow, you’re looking so great! The last time I saw you, you were looking too skinny and too muscle-y!”

The problem with statements like that, is that this guy knew nothing about me and actually had the audacity to make judgement about my body. Some may think there is nothing wrong with statements like that, but for years it made me think twice about getting any stronger because I was worried about gaining more muscle, or being too big, or being too skinny, or trying to be everything to everybody.

Lucky for me, I had a strong support system of family, friends and coaches that always pushed me to be a better version of myself, and I eventually came to understand that other people’s opinions don’t count when you are making decisions to enhance your own life. After all, no one has to live your life but you, and since then I have learned to trust in my own judgement and experiences to make decisions about who I want to be and what I want to look like.

Now, I simply want to be strong, I want to be healthy and I want to be able to do things that I couldn’t do the day before. Also, I love to eat real food, not diet, lift heavy and keep adding to my PR, so if I had to listen to the opinions of everyone else, I would probably have to stop doing most of the things that I love… sorry, but all of the things that make me happy are non-negotiable.

I look forward to the day when we stop judging each other for being too big, too skinny, too muscular or too much of anything and just want happiness for one another. Let’s just workout to be stronger, to be faster, to be healthy and live long happy lives, and acknowledge that healthy comes in many different shapes and sizes.

To Being Positively Strong,

Sunny