Posts Tagged ‘new year’s resolution’

Don’t Start the New Year Fat

December 15, 2014

Girl in party hat, blowing up balloon

It’s holiday season, which often means  lots of celebrations. Celebrations mean food and alcohol, late nights, and skipped workouts.

Today, I overheard a conversation between some women on the mat while stretching after spin class. It went like this: Person 1;” I can’t wait until January, so I can stop eating too much and get back to normal.”

Person 2: “I know, right? I got on the scale and couldn’t believe my eyes. I will get on track after the first of the year.”

Male person 3: Why not just reel it in now?

{crickets}

Sorry ladies, but the guy is right. It’s easy to over indulge at a party, and it’s also perfectly ok to do so once in a while. But every meal is not a party, and there is ample opportunity to practice good judgement to offset the less healthy treats you will be partaking in later.

It’s a slippery slope. We get off track, and then adopt a WTF attitude for the rest of the week, or the entire holiday season.  I’ve been there. I get it. But this year, I am committed that I am not going to enter a new year feeling bad about myself. I want to start the year off on the right foot.

There is no time like the present, and I have been more diligent than ever to amp up my workouts, and eat healthfully and mindfully when I am home, knowing full well that when I go out I am going to enjoy myself. This doesn’t mean starving myself between treats. That never ends well. It does mean viewing my meals as fuel and nourishment, and not just stuffing cookies in my face. With the recent launch of indigo jones eats, I have been elbow deep in cookie dough and chocolate for days on end. It hasn’t been easy not to sample every batch, but I know I feel better by not doing so.

Here are a few of my personal strategies to manage holiday indulgences:

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1. Know when the parties are, and that is when you are going to throw caution to the wind and imbibe in whatever you want. All other times, eat healthfully.

2. In between, set strict eating guidelines, and stick to them. I have been eating a very high protein, low fat, low carb diet. I make sure that I have the right foods on hand so that I don’t grab the wrong thing when I’m hungry, by default. When I have a craving, I remind myself that I can have whatever I want at the upcoming party. So far, that tactic is working.

3. I consider what the upcoming event might be. Should I eat something first, so I am not at a cocktail party or an open house, eating fattening nibbles instead of a healthy meal? Is it a sit down event with a menu. Can I make a healthy choice for the main course, and then share a dessert?

4. For every cookie, candy, or cheesy, carb-y whatever, ask yourself if it’s worth the calories. Why waste them on a mediocre, stale pastry, when you can walk away and feel good about your self control, and the way your pants fit? If the answer is yes, by the way, go for it!

5.If it’s special, if it’s decadent, if it’s out of this world delicious…eat it, savor it, enjoy it and don’t look back. After all, you only live once.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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New Year’s Revolution

January 1, 2014

They’re coming and it won’t be pleasant. Like the zombie apocalypse, they will invade our gyms and fitness classes and unwittingly wreck havoc in our lives. Sit tight people, it won’t last long. By the end of the month, the masses will recede, and things will get back to normal. Who I am writing about, you may ask? The New  Year’s Resolutionaries!

Each year, swarms of people join gyms January 1st, and resolve that THIS is the year they will get in shape. They start out with all good intentions, and then somehow burn out and fade away. Health Clubs typically see a big boost in membership this time of year, and lock people into contracts so that they get paid whether or not their members succeed in becoming the gym rats they aspire to be.

If you are one of the millions of people starting the year off with the promise of fitness, here are a few tips for making the commitment stick, while avoiding pissing off those who were there first:

scales, weight, health, fitness

Start slowly

If you over do it, you will be sore, exhausted and discouraged. Instead of vowing to workout everyday, commit to hitting the gym 2 or 3 times a week to start.

Set realistic expectations

Going from sedentary to running 5 miles straight isn’t realistic. Neither is lifting super heavy weights, or doing multiple fitness classes in a row. Start with a run/walk combination and increase the running time each week until you can get through a mile without stopping. If you aren’t experienced with strength training, invest in a few sessions with personal trainer who can teach you proper form and help design a program for you. Bad form + too heavy weights=injury.

Make a gym date with yourself and keep it

Put your workout into your agenda, and take it as seriously as you would if it were a doctor’s appointment, a business meeting or a date with someone you really want to see. If you really can’t make it, reschedule it right away.

If you reserve a spot in a popular class, show up, and don’t leave in the middle.

Some popular classes ( read: indoor cycling ) are difficult to get into. Us regulars become enraged when they are turned away from a full class, only to see you walk out 15 minutes later because it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. Do what you can, but stick with it! Take a short breather, pull back on the intensity but try to tough it out if you can. Conversely, don’t sign up for the toughest class in the gym right away. Find something more in line with your fitness level, and build up from there.

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Let the instructor know you’re a newbie:

They will help you get set up, watch your form and cut you some slack on your intensity. Set yourself up for success by letting them know you’re a beginner.

Be conscious of your food intake:

For the most part, weight is based on calories in, and calories out. Just because you took a 30 minute stroll on the treadmill, it doesn’t mean you can pig out afterwards. It takes 3500 calories to make a pound. If you do the math, burning 150 calories at the gym does not mean you can indulge in a 350 calorie congratulatory treat and lose weight. You also need food to fuel your workout. Starving yourself will not result in having the energy to complete a serious workout. Ask my friend who took 3 fitness classes in a row without eating, and passed out in the shower. Facing the paramedics and health club staff buck naked was not fun.

Keeping a food and activity journal will help you determine your calorie intake and expenditure. I recommend an free app called Lose It! to keep you honest, and on track to meet your goals.

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Find something you love to do, and stick with it.

If you hate running, you most likely will not do it enough to make a difference. If you love to dance, try a hip-hop or Zumba class. If you like a high intensity workout, and are motivated by a group setting, try indoor cycling or a boot camp style class. If you like being outside, go walking, hiking or skiing. If you find something you enjoy, staying with it will be much easier.

Don’t create gridlock.

Most people go to the gym to work hard. If you are going to just stand around and chat, please step to the side and get out of the way. This concept applies to walking down the street in New York City as well, but that is a whole other post! Don’t camp out on a bench or piece of equipment while you text, fix your ponytail or sip colorful water. Allow others to “work in” and keep moving.

Clean up after yourself:

Wipe your sweat off the equipment, put your weights away, and please don’t leave your towels, dirty tissues or makeup smeared Q-tips laying around. It’s disrespectful, unsanitary and downright gross. Shout out to those who leave their used disposable razors in the shower. Even in the poshest gyms, with ample cleaning staff, it’s just downright unacceptable.

It’s not magic.

Fitness and healthy eating isn’t a fad, or a quick fix. It takes hard work, diligence and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. You probably didn’t gain weight, or lose muscle tone in a week, and you won’t lose weight and gain significant strength in that period of time either.You need to do the work to get the results. Give it time.

If you fall off the wagon, get back on fast.

Nobody is perfect, and if you indulge when you know you shouldn’t, enjoy it, and get back to healthy eating right away. If you miss a few workouts, recommit and get moving again. Don’t take a defeatist attitude and decide since you already blew it, it’s over. You are only one meal, and one workout away from being back on track.

See you tomorrow at the gym?

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Respect Yourself

December 27, 2012

Young woman having body treatment on legsIt’s been a tough few months. In late October, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, leaving us powerless for almost a week. Days later, we experienced the chaos of voting, followed by another storm.

Just as we were getting back to normal in early November, I fractured my knee.
Hobbling around was difficult at best, and for the first month, I barely moved, yet somehow managed 60-70 hour workweeks.

I just started walking a few days ago, albeit slowly and gingerly.

It is amazing how weak I have become. I am experiencing soreness, akin to the morning after a crazy hard workout, just from walking around.

As an avid exerciser, and someone who walked everywhere, this sedentary life has been difficult. More importantly, it has been eye opening.
I think I have been not only rehabbing an injury, but also rehabbing my lifestyle.

Prior to my accident, I had an extremely healthy diet. I lived in fear of skipping a workout, and felt guilty over indulgences. I tracked every movement and every calorie with an iPhone app. The mere thought of not working out for a few days, let alone months, terrified me.
The first few weeks were the most difficult. Not only could I not make it to the grocery store, I couldn’t stand long enough to prepare the food. Add in a beyond crazy work schedule, thanks to Sandy tearing through in the middle of a big deadline. Eating well was not a priority. I ate whatever, whenever, and worried that I would end this 10 pounds heavier.

Guess, what? My weight has remained about the same. Yeah, I am surprised too.

A few realities:

My increased activity levels left me always hungry.
Deprivation left me always wanting something else.

Muscle weighs more than fat.

It takes a long time to build muscle. Fat takes over pretty quickly.

My appetite is reduced; therefore my calorie intake is reduced. Although I am not limiting myself to being fat free, gluten free, or sugar free, I am simply eating less. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie. I don’t seem to want 6 of them.

Muscle does weigh more than fat. While my weight is about the same, my pants are actually getting to be too big.  Where there was muscle tone, there is now just flesh. I am looking skinny rather than healthy. My formerly hard body has been replaced by a very soft one. I now know that the number on the scale is not an indicator of how I look, or how much body fat I have.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating a poor diet, or a non-active lifestyle.

I am not living on fast food and processed junk.
I will be back in the gym the minute the doctor tells me I am strong enough to do so.

What I am advocating, is giving ourselves a break. Would working out 4 days a week instead of 6 be so bad? Would eating healthfully but not obsessively, work better than constant restriction and occasional binges? For those who don’t have a good diet and exercise routine, the thought of all or nothing often feels too daunting and stops them from even trying. For those of who do, obsession can easily take hold.

I want to be strong and healthy, and of equal importance, happy.

I love how I feel after a hard run or a challenging cycling class. I have more energy and stamina when I eat well. But, moderation, for those of us capable of practicing it, is a good thing. And it works both ways. Too much of a good thing, is still too much. My body was trying to tell me to back off, with cranky aches and pains and constant exhaustion. It finally, just cracked. Right across the kneecap.

While many of you are crafting your New Year’s resolutions to start diets, lose weight, or join a gym, why not join me in vowing to respect our bodies and all it does for us?

Instead of thinking about a diet, why not think about nourishing your body for optimum performance? Care for your body as you might care for something else that is important to you.  Listen to what your body is telling you and respond to it.

We only get one body; take good care of it.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Calculated Success

January 3, 2011

The end of the year often signals the start of a diet and fitness plan. I absolutely dread going to the gym tomorrow, which will be swarming with the New Year’s resolution people, anxious to get in shape. They don’t know how to use the equipment, clog up classes and locker rooms, and generally lack the basics in gym etiquette. Thankfully, most are gone by the end of the month, having failed to achieve success.

One problem is that they lack realistic goals, leading to frustration when the weight doesn’t just fall off. Knowing how much you really need to eat and exercise is key to getting off on the right foot.

An easy way to calculate just how much food you need is to take your ideal weight and multiply it by 10. That means if you want to weigh 140 pounds, you should eat 1400 calories per day. If you are working out, add back ½ of what you burn. Therefore, if you burn off 300 calories at the gym, add back 150 of them, making your daily intake 1550 calories.
It is important to note that it is considered unsafe to drop below 1200 calories per day, regardless of your current weight.

Next, be aware that it takes 3500 calories to make or break a pound. If you eliminate 500 calories per day through dietary changes and /or exercise, you will lose 1 pound per week.  Yes, I know they lose 15 pounds per week on The Biggest Loser, but that is a reality show, not reality.

Good luck embarking on your new healthy regimen. And by the way, if you see me at Equinox, please wipe off the equipment after you use it, throw your towel in the bin and let me work in if you are resting between sets. Thanks.

photo: glasshouse images


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