Open your eyes: What do you see from your window?

“If you just open your eyes and your mind you will realize that amazing things, events and people surround us Every. Waking. Moment.”

I work in a downtown highrise. I am lucky to have an office with a window. I get to see the sunlight brighten my work space everyday. It isn’t a corner office. It isn’t a big office either, in fact I share my office with another colleague. Yet all this time, I never thought much of this office space. I always compared it to my past offices that were bigger and with better views of downtown Montreal or so i thought…

Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel

You see, what i neglected to say was that my office window faces the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel and peers directly into the window where John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their bed-in for Peace in 1969. A moment that changed history forever. A time that was marked by change and people who fought for what they believed in. Strong souls that made history and the place where the ever historical and popular song “Give Peace a Chance” was born. A song heard many times over in different parts of the world and cultures, all voicing sounds of optimism for a better world.

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One can say that the view from my office stares at a grey hotel building with a bunch of windows but that’s not the way I see it anymore. My view is one of hope and dreams. One that inspires me to be and give my best everyday as a human being. To live my life to its fullest because people that are no longer among us would trade places with my most dullest day any second.

There are wonders all around us if we choose to see them.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one…

-John Lennon (Imagine)

Now, Imagine that 😉

I would love for you to tell me or post a picture below of your view today!

HOW I WENT TO ITALY AND DIDN’T GAIN 10 POUNDS!

I did it! I thought it was impossible but I did it! And you know what? It wasn’t that hard at all! The day after we came back home from Italy, I stepped on the scale, afraid to look down and, lo and behold, it didn’t budge! No weight gain! Woohoo! All was not lost!

Just to put you in context: Two weeks ago, my husband along with our two (toddler; yikes!) kids, decided to join my parents who had rented a house in Campodipietra; my mother’s small native village in Italy. We figured it would be an amazing experience to be all together in such a beautiful, amazing country.

Of course, one aspect that makes Italy so amazing is THE food! Fresh: YES! Delicious: YES! Loaded with carbs: YES, YES, YES! I mean every single menu had 30 different kinds of pasta plates and pizza flavors and don’t even get me started on the gelato! Of course, pasta was just the primo piatto (first course), then you usually have a secondo piatto (second course), between the antipasto and dessert of course.That’s just the way it is!

Italy food

So how did I manage to defeat this whole food game?

My initial plan was to workout a few times per week and to limit desserts and pasta. I even downloaded several Beachbody workouts on my iPhone and made sure I didn’t need any equipment to do them. I made a mental list of foods I would eat and avoid and how I would only have pasta once a week. Well, all that went out the window the first day as soon as we arrived at my parents’. They graciously greeted us with freshly made pizza (still hot from the local bakery), prosciutto and mortadella, fresh melon and cherries, mozzarella buffalo,… the works! Everything tasted soooo good.

So how did I do it???… I’m getting there…

Here’s the simple truth: I slowed down my pace of life and I enjoyed every moment.

Bakery Italy

I savored each morsel. I experienced the food without stuffing it down my throat. It was all about how we are suppose to eat and live. Too often, we are rushed, grab anything at hand and go. We eat food to stop the hunger or craving or to have something to do while mindlessly watching a movie. But what we forget to do is to take the time to taste the food, to experience it and to listen to our bodies.

In Italy, we rarely watched TV. We walked, we played in the park with the kids. We rested when came time for siesta and all the village closed its shops. And we ate when we were hungry. We were following our bodies instead of being distracted by external hunger cues.

Here are a few tips and tricks that I took with me as a reminder of this experience:

  • Share a decadent dessert instead of having a whole one.
  • Order a bunch of different plates for the family and have a taste of each.
  • Walk, walk, walk and enjoy all the beautiful views and landscapes
  • Follow your appetite not whatever tempts you, listen to your body, don’t eat out of boredom.
  • Enjoy yourself! That’s what makes life so wonderful. Once in a while, it is important to let it go. To go with the flow.
  • Girls and me in Italy

The lesson that I learned is that a couple of weeks of vacation will not destroy all the work you did if you go at it with balance. Have a few drinks, indulge in that dessert and when you get back, learn from your experience and go back to your fitness routine and be mindful that life is about enjoying the little things and finding balance in everything.

How are you planning to enjoy your vacation?

HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT, THE EASY (CONSISTENT) WAY!

Are you working out tirelessly and still not seeing results? You eat healthy, you workout… and nothing! What gives? Then you turn to external excuses such as a slow metabolism or your age or the fact that you had kids for your failure to lose weight and proceed to sabotage your diet.

Mae West

STOP MAKING EXCUSES: weight loss is a numbers game (in its most basic sense): you must burn more calories than you consume in order for weight loss to occur. PERIOD. (ooooh I know there’s some hatin’ going on in your head right now! Please don’t shoot the messenger).

If you still don’t believe me, prove me wrong! Get a journal or download a calorie tracker app such as MyFitness Pal or Lose it. Start by calculating your daily caloric intake based on your current lifestyle some apps have these tools or just click here to calculate .

Overeating

Now jot down EVERYTHING you eat, including that bite you took out of your kid’s plate, that spoonful of tomato sauce you ate just to make sure it was just-right, that sip of wine you had from your husband’s glass. It all counts and it all adds up.

Like I said, it’s a numbers game, here’s how…

In order to gain 1 pound you must eat 3500 calories, sounds like a lot, right? Now look at it this way: If you eat just 115 calories extra a day (above your set caloric intake, without exercising) for one whole month, you will gain about 1 pound; no biggie, right? You do this for a whole year, by the end of the year you will have gained 12 pounds. How did that happen?????? Your clothes are fitting tighter. Your weight gain occurred even though you probably didn’t even realize you were eating that extra 115 calories per day.

What is 115 calories:

  • a medium sized apple,
  • a cup of grapes,
  • a quarter cup of trail mix,
  • 1 oz of cheese,
  • 13 almonds…

..and these are all healthy foods! In terms of junk food: it’s like having less than 2 oreos, half a chocolate bar, a quarter of a muffin, (less than) a serving of small fries at McDonald’s.

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Now, let’s use the same principle as above but looking at weight loss. To lose 1 pound you need to burn approximately 3500 calories. If you don’t want to feel deprived and are not pressed for time, try cutting 115 calories per day from your daily caloric intake. You will lose 1 pound in one month.

Doesn’t seem too exciting but let’s try this: Say you have a muffin or fancy drink every day, that is way more than 100 calories for sure, maybe 300 calories at best. Slash 300 calories from your diet and in a month you have lost 2.5 pounds in one month, which equals 15 pounds after 6 months of simply making a small change.

Now, if you slash 300 calories and add a workout everyday (which burns about 200 calories) for a total of 500 calorie burn, then you will lose 4.3 pounds per month. Keep this up for 6 months and you are looking at a weight loss of 26 pounds! Wowzer!!!!! Not to shabby, right!

Please keep in mind that while rockin’ a bikini after losing weight definitely feels amazing, there are real benefits to slashing unneeded calories from your diet. Did you know that by eating extra quantities of food, whether it is healthy or not, makes your system and organs work double time. The digestion, hormone secretion and elimination process our bodies have to go through to eliminate and process those calories puts tremendous pressure on our bodily functions.

Eating extra quantities of food on a regular basis not only can lead to weight gain but to so many other illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, increased inflammation and even cancer. Let’s take care of our bodies and give ourselves a change to live a long, happy life.

Contact me if you would like to join me in my Fitness Motivation Group and let’s get healthy!

happy-woman-after-run

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED AND CRUSH YOUR GOALS

Motivation is a finicky concept. When starting a new fitness program we are unstoppable! We feel like we can take over any goal. We are bursting with energy, we are trying things we never did before, we are excited to learn new things. This lasts about several weeks, then it starts getting old. We skip a workout one day, then two, then slack on our diet… before we know it, an entire week has gone by and we have reverted to our old habits. So how do we keep motivation alive?

First, know that it is completely normal NOT to be motivated ALL the time! Instead picture motivation like a wave. There are peaks and there are lows and you just have to ride the wave. Here are some tips on helping you get your motivation back on track.

Don’t lose perspective of your WHY

When you feel less motivated, remember why you started the program in the first place. Was it to have more energy to play with your kids or to live a healthy lifestyle so you can be around for a long time. I find visualizing your success extremely helpful. If you are a visual person, try putting a photo or image where you can easily see it on a daily basis as a reminder or create a vision board of your goals. If you are more auditory, write out a mantra or phrase that you can repeat to yourself to keep you going when the going gets tough.

Remember your WHY

Go through the motions: Fake it ‘til you make it

One thing I have learned recently is that when motivation lacks it is not a reason to quit. Although you don’t feel like working out or making another meal plan, just do it anyways! Don’t overthink it. When we overthink something we already lack motivation doing, we tend to find reasons to talk ourselves out of doing it. Fake motivation, this is where discipline steps in. When motivation lacks, let discipline take over. And before you know it, motivation will make its way back, guaranteed.

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Accept that you will not always be motivated…

Some days or weeks might seem harder than others but instead of quitting, show up and you will see that it will come back. When you accept and acknowledge this, you learn to see your level of motivation as a gage and see if there is anything you can do differently. Instead of taking it as a cue to give up, take it as an opportunity to try something new or change it up a bit. Maybe try a new fitness workout (there are so many out there, so many apps and if you have all-access Beachbody on Demand, then you have no excuses not to try something different) or spice things up with your meal prep. Try new foods, new moves, push a little harder, take up a new sport, etc.

Just rest assured that the feeling will eventually pass and before you know it your motivation will come back.

Motivation

Join a Challenge Group for Accountability

People who have an accountability partner or join a challenge group have greater success of sticking to a program and losing weight. In fact, according to a 2011 study published in Psychology of Sport, the dropout rate if you have a fitness buddy or support system is as low as 6.8%, hence 93.2% success rate in sticking to your program for a year! In fact, that’s what was the game changer for me when I joined Beachbody. My coach was amazing and her challenge groups just reinforced the positive energy and the healthy habits I was instilling in my own life. That’s also what pushed me become a coach myself! So much positive energy, you have no excuses not to workout and change those unhealthy habits.

So, if you are feeling a little unmotivated these days or don’t know where to start, join me in my upcoming Challenge Group: Shape up for Summer! And see your motivation soar!

Summer Shape

Tell me, how do you stay motivated?

Celebrating your Non-Scale Victories!

You know the feeling when you set your mind on getting healthy and over the course of several weeks, you’ve been giving your all by working out, skimping on treats and opting for clean eats and, as a results, you feel great, walk in a room with more confidence! Then, one day, you cheerfully step on the scale to quantify your success… and boom! WHAT THE F**K?!? The number is not what you expected to see, it may have even gone up! (I used to change the battery every time this happened! Couldn’t be me, naaaaah!)

Woman-with-Scale

Now you feel like sh*t! You are hopeless, feel like all the work you invested didn’t amount to anything and are ready to throw in the towel. This is what would happen to me over and over again. This is what happens to most people who follow a program and start to commit to a healthy lifestyle. We want results fast! Why haven’t I Iost 2/5/10 pounds, I’ve been eating healthy for 5 days now!?!? Why don’t my abs show, I have been doing my sit-ups for a whole week?!? We all have these thoughts when we are starting out. They are normal thoughts and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for having them. You have worked hard. It takes superpowers sometimes to say NO to that delicious ooey-gooey chocolatey brownie your co-worker has just offered you.

So what gives? Where are the results?

In the first several weeks of starting a program, our bodies are adapting. We may have started weight training, which pumps the muscles with blood as they are getting stronger. We may be upping our water intake, so we may be having more water weight for a while, our hormones are also adapting to the chemical changes occurring when eating healthy clean foods. During this time, your muscles are getting stronger. Your heart is pumping more blood and getting active, your blood pressure is adjusting and circulation is improving.

After a couple of weeks…

  • You start feeling more energized.
  • You are in a better mood.
  • Clothes are fitting differently, better.
  • You are starting to see some definition in your legs/arms/stomach.
  • You sleep better.
  • You are more motivated to do more at work and in your workouts.
  • You can run, jump, squat with more endurance.
  • You workout out regularly and are enjoying it.
  • You have more control over your cravings.
  • You start having a more positive mindset.
  • You up your water intake.
  • You make better food choices at home and in restaurants.
  • You meal plan for the week.
  • You eat within your calorie range.
  • You have more energy to keep up with the kids.
  • Your immune system is stronger.
  • You are more in-tune with your body.
  • You are more focused at work.
  • You feel less stressed.

These are all examples of NON-SCALE VICTORIES (NSV)! We need to celebrate these NSVs and be proud of our accomplishments (regardless of the number on the scale).

I had one challenger that committed to a program and during the 4-week challenge lost only 2 pounds on the scale but lost 11 inches in total when she took her measurements again! In my case, I have remained the same weight since the holidays but my arms and stomach are more defined now. Keep in mind: Muscle does not weigh more than fat. One pound of fat is the same as one pound of muscle but it’s denser! It takes up less space, your body is leaner even if you weigh a couple of pounds more!

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scale (1)

Let’s make a pact and stop fretting about that number on the scale. Instead, let’s show the scale who’s boss and measure success by how we feel, our energy level, our happiness level, our confidence level that we can do anything we put our minds to.

happy-woman-after-run

Share you’re non-scale victory and let’s celebrate together!

You Don’t have to be Mother fuckin’ Theresa to Change the World

(Note: This was written way before I started watching Thirteen Reasons Why, strange coincidence but I’ll flow with it!)

mother-teresa-8

These past few weeks I came to realize something amazing. I realized that sometimes the smallest, tiniest, almost insignificant acts of kindness can have the biggest impacts on people’s lives. We never know what battles the other person is trying to overcome or which demons they are battling but, though they may seem insignificant to us, everyday gestures of kindness can go a long way. These small gestures are just as easy to do as they are not to do them. But when done, a whole world can change for the better and doesn’t it feel good that you had a part in that?!

Here’s a 30-day Kindness Challenge. Do one action each day and make a difference in someone’s life… and you will notice a difference in your own life.

Day 1: Call/text/email an old friend out of the blue to simply ask them how they are doing.

Day 2: Give up your seat for someone (anyone!) in a packed bus/metro/train.

Day 3: Tell someone they are doing a good job (it can be anyone: a child, a spouse, a co-worker, a colleague, a sales clerk,…)

Day 4: When at a coffee shop or food counter, pay for the coffee or drink of the person behind you.

Day 5: Post a positive message or quote on social media.

Day 6: Bring an extra fruit, sandwich, granola bar, etc. in your lunch bag and give it to someone in need.

Day 7: Send a funny picture to a friend.

Day 8: Genuinely listen to someone when they are talking, without interrupting.

Day 9: Write a positive online review of a business you like (or blog ;).

Day 10: Leave a copy of an interesting book on a train / bus.

Day 11: Leave nice comments on blogs (wink! wink!), Twitter, and Facebook

Day 12: Participate in an event – The people who organize events always worry that no one will take part. That ugly sweater contest needs you!

Day 13: Leave a nice server the biggest tip you can afford.

Day 14: Put a sticky note with a positive slogan on the mirror in a restroom.

Day 15: Write your partner/child/parent/sibling a list of things you love about them.

Day 16: Bring your neighbor some cookies. Everybody loves cookies!

Day 17: Donate clothes you are no longer wearing to a charity or a foundation.

Day 18: Help someone with a stroller up/down a flight of stairs.

Day 19: Praise the work of a colleague to their boss.

Day 20: Make someone laugh by telling them a funny joke or story.

Day 21: Buy a lottery ticket for a random stranger.

Day 22: Set a date to spend some time with a long lost friend you would like to re-connect with.

Day 23: Bring some treats to work.

Day 24: Call an elderly family member and ask them how they are doing.

Day 25: Invite a friend or parent or sibling for a casual home cooked supper during the work week

Day 26: Start a conversation with a sales or service rep that you encounter everyday

Day 27: Put a secret not in a loved one’s pocket. Write how much you appreciate them.

Day 28: Take a family member out to lunch out of the blue, for no particular occasion.

Day 29: First thing on a weekday morning, slow down your routine and dance with your partner or your kids.

Day 30: Give a sincere compliment to someone about a piece of clothing, hairstyle, shoes, manners, etc.

Sometimes we think of doing or saying something nice but are too shy to express it. I’m asking you to change that and see what happens. It’s important to let others know that somebody notices and cares, it can brighten someone’s day or even change the whole course of their lives.

Bonus: Day 31: Love yourself and give yourself a big hug! You need some kindness too so be good to yourself.

REPEAT!

Do you have Executive Presence?

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to attend a workshop called In Search of Executive Presence. The workshop was given by the inspiring and motivating Shann McGrail. Shann is the co-founder of DEVREVE, a company that specializes in developing communication strategies to help businesses connect with customers, partners, and employees (amongst other things). In the workshop, Shann explained the principles of Executive Presence: that secret ingredient that can propel you forward in your career, in your life and enable you to crush all your goals!

If you want to stop  being “that girl” that didn’t get the promotion or the job because there was that “little something” missing, read the following tips Shann shared with us:

Stand in Neutral: Want to convey a calm, powerful presence? Stand in Neutral. How you ask? Stand up – plant your feet hip width apart. Put your hands above your head, and then let them drop to your side. Where they land is what your standing natural neutral position. This will likely seem uncomfortable at first. Practice it while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting to get coffee etc. And notice your fan base bow to you (Just kidding! Or am I?)

Businesswoman-Standing-at-Window

Three second rule: A lot of us (meaning ME) tend to start talking and forget to take a breath when presenting or conversing. Give yourself three second to respond before answering in a conversation. When presenting to an audience, practice holding eye contact for three seconds per person (if a large room, per area of the room). This projects confidence and builds connection.

Commit: An audience never wants to watch uncertainty. They want to experience commitment and see that you enjoy what you are doing. Here’s an exercise to try – pick something that you have to do. Let’s say it’s going to the bank to discuss your mortgage. Before you step in the door – commit to a position. Maybe you’re excited that you are getting your first mortgage – go with that and hold on to that emotion for the meeting. See everything that comes up in the meeting with excitement.

“I’m Awesome”. Cut the negative talk – it is a waste of time and energy. Here is a simple exercise – leave your next meeting or work function and repeat to yourself “I’m awesome” (or any other positive phrase that clicks with you) at least 3 times and keep in your mind one great thing you did. Take out the space the negative takes up and replace it with positive.

Positive Thoughts

Be Brief, be quiet and learn to interrupt: cut down the number of words you to use. We are conditioned to often fall into “hostess mode” and make small talk so others feel comfortable. The more words you speak to explain, the more you confuse your message. Get to the point, you don’t need to explain the journey. Try this – select a topic, engage a colleague/friend and have a conversation using only 3 words each time you speak. Play around with this and you will notice you can get to the point in far fewer words than we normally use.

Silence is powerful. If you can keep quiet during a difficult moment, it conveys that you are in control. It is especially powerful when there are tough messages or you say something that needs to land and be processed.

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Breathe – Exercise: put your hand on the top part of abdomen, deep breath in so that you are pushing out the rib cage. Slowly release on a count of 5. Inhale deeply so that the chest and stomach are filled with air. Calms and quiets you down so you can focus. It also forces you to use silence.

I stepped out of the workshop with a tool box that I knew I could put into practice right away, and I have! The workshop has given me an extra boost of confidence to put my ideas across effectively in meetings and presentations (and when I want to get my kids to clean their room :P).

Click here if you are interested in learning more about this workshop or would like to contact Shann McGrail at DEVREVE.

 

 

 

 

Waking up at 5am… on purpose!

I love to sleep. No, I mean, I really love to sleep. I almost make an art out of it. I lay quiet in bed. Feel the covers on me, get all cozy and warm. Drift off into oblivion. Let go of everything. It’s truly blissful.

sleep and baby

However, after weeks of not being able to get my workout in before the end of my busy work day, my coach suggested I get it done first thing in the morning before leaving for work. I seriously thought she was crazyyyyyy! Not just crazy. CRAAAAAAAAAAZYYYYYYYYYY! Who gets up on purpose at 5am, and, get this, to work out of all things! Well… THIS GIRL!

I told myself I would do it for one week and if I didn’t like it I would NEVER do it again. I clearly remember that first morning. It was the second week of July. I snoozed only once. Got my butt out of bed relunctantly. I went down to my basement and pressed PLAY… reluctantly. At the time, I didn’t even bother changing into workout clothes. I stayed in my pjs (changing would require extra work!). In pyjamas and barefoot, I did my 30 minute workout and it felt DAMN good. Ok, well it didn’t feel that good, I was tired and wanted to go back to bed but instead I went to the kitchen to fix myself breakfast. And that’s where the “Miracle Morning” moment happened. It was quiet. No screaming toddlers. I didn’t have to tend to anyone’s needs but my own. I had time to pause. Reflect. Meditate. Write. Read articles I had saved to my phone weeks ago. Email friends. Start a blog ;P

THIS WAS ME TIME AND THIS FELT DAMN GOOD! I FELT ENERGIZED AND FOCUSED.

Morning-Ritual

Since then, I have been waking up at 5am on weekdays and rarely missed one. I would not trade my 5am mornings for anything. And, the fun part now, is that I’m not alone! Many friends, colleagues and Beachbody challengers have jumped on the 5am bandwagon and we have a group called the fabfit 5am-ers!..and we keep eachother accountable just by wishing eachother good morning before we press PLAY.

If you are crazy enough to join us, contact me through my Facebook page. You might actually like it!

How to Get Over a Setback?

Ok, so who totally overdid it this past weekend? My name is Alex and I am a SUGAR ADDICT. I literally go crazy on Easter weekend, and Halloween, and Christmas and Valentine’s day and any day where we are swapping chocolate and stuffing our faces with dessert! I admit it: my kryptonite is CHOCOLATE and CAKE and COOKIES and…anything sweet and yummy and gooey!

Egg-eating

My food intake is usually on track but sometimes life happens and you just gotta give in. It happens to the best of us! We are doing great, we are motivated with our fitness routine, sticking to our meal plan and then it hits… one moment of weakness and we feel that all that hard work went down the drain. We get down on ourselves and the negative committee in our heads chimes in: Why am I so weak? Did I really need that extra piece of [fill in the blank]? I can’t do this. This is too hard. I will never be healthy. I will never lose the weight. I’m just not strong enough to do it.

NOW STOP. BREATHE.

Why not switch off that voice in your head that is telling you that it’s time to quit or not even worth starting? If we listened to that voice in our head every time we started something new, we would not be walking today and we would still be wearing diapers. Let me explain:  when a baby learns to walk, they will inevitably fall down, stumble, trip… but does that baby tell himself or herself: What’s the point? I suck at this! I might as well stop here before I hurt myself even more? NO! They keep going and keep falling and learn how to stand, then learn how to take a few steps, then finally they learn how to walk. That doesn’t mean they will never fall again. Heck, we all have tripped on a stair or carpet even once we’ve mastered the art of walking. But do we give up? NO. We get back up and continue our walk as if nothing happened.

Now, how about we use this same approach to our health goal?

learning to walk

Here are 10 tips to get back on track today:

START NOW – you can’t undo the past but you can definitely do better in the future. Learn from it.

DRINK WATER – This helps flush out all the toxins. Add lemon for extra flavor and a detox boost.

EAT – Don’t make up for overeating by not eating, just make better choices

PLAN – Plan your meals this week, including snacks. It takes the guesswork out especially when you’re in a pinch for food and tempted to grab anything on the go.

VEGGIES – Load up on ‘em

MOVE – Get your sweat on. Trust me you will feel better after. If you don’t at least you will feel less guilty ;P

BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND – What would you tell a friend if they “screwed” up? Would you beat them up about it or would you tell them to not be so hard on themselves and move on? Unless you’re an old Italian grandmother, I think you would chose the positive option!

RE-FOCUS – Put your focus back on WHY you wanted to get healthy in the first place.

REMEMBER: Life happens!

REPEAT this tomorrow, or why wait ‘til tomorrow, REPEAT this at your next meal!

And if you still feel you need an extra boost to get on track, you can always contact me and join my motivation challenge group! It’s never too late to make healthy choices. YOU GOT THIS!

 

What is a Beachbody Challenge Group Anyway? And why you need to join one…

As a motivation/fitness coach, my goal is to, first, get you in the right mindset to set goals and support you along the way so that you crush those goals. Your mind needs to be at the right place. Once it is, I will help your inner beauty and inner strength shine through and reflect outwards (a.k.a, finally lose those damn pounds! And get toned).

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I must confess. I used to be anti-challenge groups! Yes, you read correctly. Heck, I didn’t want to join a bunch of strangers and post details about my private life and how bad I was at sticking to my workouts and following the “clean eating” principles! In fact, the first challenge groups I was invited to by my coach, I barely posted anything in them. I would just quietly observe others and read posts. Mind you, I found the posts interesting but, I don’t know, I was too shy I guess and didn’t quite understand them.

That’s why I decided to write this post! Challenge groups were and still are a game-changer for me, they are what keeps me motivated every morning to workout and challenge myself and better myself.

So what are Beachbody Challenge Groups?

In its most basic form, a Beachbody Challenge Group is an online group led by a coach (and co-host coaches sometimes) either via a Facebook private group or the My Challenge Tracker app. Each member of the group follows one of the many Beachbody programs and shares their experience with the group. Simple enough, right?

In reality, it is so much more! Challenge groups are a place where:

– your personal coach (and co-host coaches) provides useful information by posting tips on nutrition, meal planning, fitness tips, motivation tips, support, simple tasks that will help you and challenge you along the way;

-you meet like-minded people who understand and support you along the way;

– challengers can share their experience with others in terms of their struggles but also their successes;

accountability is set into action by posting your daily rating of how you did with your food intake, workout, and overall mood. Coaches or other challengers are there to offer support and any tips that have helped them through some obstacles (100% NO NEGATIVITY ZONE);

-the dynamic of the group motivates you to push yourself further and show up and crush your health/fitness goals

positivity reigns and you get a dose of “happy” to start your day.

If you have never participated in a Challenge group, it might have been what you’ve been missing after all!

If you are interested in joining a Challenge Group, there is one starting on Monday April 17th, 2017. What better reason to burn off that Easter chocolate (sssssssss)?

Click on the link below or contact me for more details.

https://www.facebook.com/events/446422345699811/ 

Easy, Healthy Meal Planning in Less than 90 Minutes

Do you often grab less than healthy food choices because you are so hungry at certain times during the day?

EATING-CHOCOLATE

Wanna learn how to prepare all your meals and lunch for the week in under 90 minutes? Then this article is a must. Meal prep will not only save you time but it will also save you money in the long-run.

Step 1: Write out your plan

It doesn’t have to be fancy or anything elaborate, just write down your meal plan for the week. You can use a variety of methods such as a planner (my favourite is ME and My Big Ideas Fitness Planner) or an excel/Word document or good ol’ piece of paper and a pencil. At the top (in columns), write the days of the week and then in the rows leave a space for breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and one last space for supper.

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Me & My Big Ideas Fitness Planner – I love this planner!

Step 2: Start with the easiest meals

For me, it’s a no-brainer, breakfast and morning snacks are my easiest to plan given that I like eating the same thing during these times. So for breakfast, I will put my Shakeology drink and for morning snacks I enjoy a small bowl of oatmeal with fruits or raw vegetables or yogourt.

Breakfast
Breakfast for the week: Shakeology packets (chocolate is my favourite) and overnight oatmeal is the best.

Here are more easy, healthy snack ideas:

-apple with 1 tbps almond butter

-1 oz cheddar cheese and 1 c. grapes

-raw veggies and 2 tbps hummus

-plain greek yogourt, honey & berries

-about 10-12 almonds and an orange

-whole wheat toast, 1 tbsp ricotta and strawberry jam

-cucumber slices and guacamole

-one hard boiled egg and 1 c. diced cantaloupe

-whole grain toast and almond & coconut butter

-celery and almond butter

Some easy lunch ideas:

-pre-cut and cooked turkey strips with quinoa and spinach

-re-cut and cooked beef strips with mesclun salad and pine nuts

-smoked salmon, quinoa and raw veggies

-turkey & lettuce whole wheat wrap

-and the easiest of all…leftovers!

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Lunch for the week: Mason jar salads are easy to make and carry!

Step 3: Tackle the more complex meals

In my case, it’s supper meals. I often don’t like eating the same thing and I also have a family to feed and want to accommodate as many mouths as I can with healthy recipes. My solution is that I keep it as simple as possible:

-oven-baked salmon with asparagus and brown rice

-chicken stir-fry with ramen noodles

-fish tacos with loads of vegetables

-whole-wheat spaghetti with turkey meatballs

-veggie omelet

-shrimp stir-fry on brown rice

I also double up the supper recipes so that I either can have some for lunch the next day or freeze a portion for an instant lunch the week after.

Other useful tips if you are short on time:

No-cook meals: Did you ever see how easy kids’ lunches or meals can be. Why not prepare one for yourself. Just make a bunch of hard boil eggs for the week, have some turkey slices on hand, and cut raw veggies and fruits and voilà!

Buy pre-cut vegetables or meats if time is an issue. I also get individual hummus and guacamole cups. It may cost more but if you will eat it instead of forgetting to put the bigger package into smaller ones, then it is all worth it!

Re-use old meal plans so that you don’t have to worry about having a new one every week. Old meal plans are a savior when life gets really busy. I just dig up an old one, and update my grocery list and it takes all the guess work out of that step. Also, if you are a member of Beachbody, you can have access to the meal planner and they create a custom one for you each week.

Lunch ideas
Example of food for 1 day.

Click here to access your free printable Meal Planner Sheet

Weekly Meal Plan

Living with Anxiety

It always makes me smile when people refer to me as Zen. I often hear “you’re always so calm” (and no, you will not hear these words coming from my husband!). But to the outside world, I appear calm and fast forward to today, I am calm, most of the time. But this was not the case 15 years ago.

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From as early as primary school I battled some scary demons. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to please everybody. I didn’t want to upset anybody. Confrontation terrified me. My anxiety got to a point where it was debilitating. The worst moment I recall was when in a bookstore and was having trouble breathing, felt hot and sweaty and lightheaded and couldn’t get out of there fast enough to get some air. When it became unbearable on a regular basis (to the point of losing sleep and not being able to concentrate at work), I chose to get some help because living like that, for me, was not an option, and I knew there had to be a solution. I wanted to change and do something about it. That is the most important realization.

I went through cognitive-behavioral therapy for several months. Basically, the goal of this type of therapy is to change negative thinking patterns or behavior into positive ones or at least ones that don’t generate a negative emotion. I would say that moment in my life opened my eyes to a whole new world. I am now able to see things more clearly. I know that I will never fully get rid of my anxiety, in fact, it is actually normal to have anxiety at some point in our lives, it is a human emotion. But instead of fearing it, and trying to run away from it, I acknowledge it, let it in and let it go (as I channel my inner Elsa). If you are suffering from anxiety, there are some tricks that have come in pretty handy for me:

Caffeine, excess sugar and processed foods are the devil:

Some physical sensations mimic the feeling of a panic attack or feeling anxious such as rapid heartbeat, sweating or feeling hot (hot flashes), clammy hands, feeling lightheaded or dizzy. These sensations are physical and can be controlled to some extent by making changes in your diet. In my case I realize that caffeine and excess sugar was creating the same sensation I would feel when I was having an anxiety attack. Before, I used to associate the situation to the anxiety but then I realized that it was my diet the culprit and not, say my job creating the anxiety! To this day, if I drink a can of Coke in the afternoon, I won’t be able to sleep the night.

Instead a healthy, balanced diet and particularly protein (almonds were my savior) and eating every 3-4 hours are crucial.

Drink more water, stay hydrated!

Dehydration can also induce anxiety-like symptoms. It is important to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. A simple action such as drinking water can help with anxiety-like symptoms. If you are not a fan of plain water, you can have herbal teas or flavored water (mint leaves and strawberries for example).

drink-water

Sleep is the best medicine

Make sure you get between 7 & 9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep disrupts your internal clock like it’s nobody’s business. When we lack sleep our body functions, hormones and regulating systems get out of whack and that’s where we tend to make bad food choices and emotions run high. Sleep, get the rest you need and you will get a handle on your anxiety.

Read more: How to fall asleep fast and easy for a complete night sleep?

sleep and baby

Crank up the endorphins with Exercise

Yoga helped me quiet the mind and maintain focus. It’s a soft, gentle and kind practice that helped me center my thoughts. Up until recently, yoga and walking were the only forms of exercise I practiced. I find that my cardio and weight workouts provide another kind of serenity. Getting your heart rate up ups your endorphins (feel good hormones up!) which works wonders on anxiety. We often just want to roll up in a ball when we are stressed or anxious but pushing ourselves to work out can actually be helpful and bring our focus elsewhere.

Also, it is important to know that you will be ok, accept the discomfort of the feeling and know that it will go away but don’t force it out the door. Be gentle with yourself and realize that it takes practice.

Read more: How to Cope with Anxiety

If you are still struggling, do yourself a favor, get over yourself and seek professional help. This is your Life, make it the best, happiest life you can.

Follow me on facebook @fabmindfitbody or join my email list for more tips on how to control and manage your anxiety.

zen and relax

How to Get and Stay Motivated: Fitness Accountability Tools

So you just started a workout program and you are totally motivated! Week 1 is going great. You feel excited, your body is adjusting, the moves are challenging but you are charged, your nutrition is on point. Easy peasy, right! Then week 2 strikes! Usually this was about when I started to lose my initial mojo. Why did I start this again? I really want a cookie. What no weight loss/abs/guns in a week?!? All of a sudden this workout program ain’t too exciting and I just feel like going back to my comfy couch.

Please avoid this trap! If you can get past these first few weeks, you are not only going to finish your workout program with great results inside and out but your workout will actually become part of your lifestyle.

Here are some tricks that can help you stay motivated…

Join a challenge group

Facebook is flooded with challenge or motivation fitness groups. Basically, the premise of these groups is to follow a predetermined program with a bunch of people following the same program (it’s more fun having a common goal than going at it alone). When I joined my first Beachbody challenge group, I was not one to post much on social media. In fact, when I first started out I was more of an observer in these groups than a participant. Either way, I found it motivating to see my timeline filled with people working out and reading about their struggles and successes. I felt part of a family and it made me feel like I wasn’t working out alone and it motivated me to challenge myself further. Another fun part is sharing the struggles and the successes but also tips and recipes and how to organize your time better and not to mention the bonds you build that last beyond the duration of the challenge group.

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StepBet/DietBet

Another motivating tool is StepBet or DietBet. Basically, you bet on yourself. Each person puts an amount (usually 30$ US) into a pot. The app determines your step or weight goals for a given week. The program usually runs 6 weeks. At the end of the 6 weeks, if you reach your goals, you win the pot and it is divided with all remaining participants. Don’t get too excited, you are not going to win millions doing this, on average you get about 15$ to 20$ on top of the amount you put in. Nevertheless I find these games quite motivating, especially that it would suck to actually lose that money! There is also a community within each game so you can converse and share with other players.

Set a reward goal

At first, I set a goal to have the confidence to wear a bikini. Once I hit that goal, I told myself when I reached my goal weight I would buy myself an Apple iWatch. I had to earn that watch.  After that, I set a goal to become a coach and therefore be an example for others. Goals are meant to be fun and motivate us to challenge ourselves. It was something that kept me going and made me work a little harder each time. In order to stay liable, set a date to achieve your goal and tell someone so that they keep you accountable. My next goal, who knows, maybe a 5K or bikini competition!

Keep a log

In my experience, the best way that I managed to stay on the straight and narrow was by logging my food intake and physical activity. Technology has made the process so much easier. My favorite app is  hands-down My Fitness Pal. If you subscribe to it you can even sync your fitness watch to the app and it will take into account not only your calorie intake for the day but also how many calories you burned via exercise. It also provides useful tips on healthy eating and working out.

If you are more the traditional type, there are amazing fun planners out there for fitness such as fitbook and Me & My Big Ideas fitness planner. That way you can track your workouts and food intake so that you can adjust your workouts and meals accordingly.

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A workout buddy

My last suggestion would be a workout buddy or someone that supports you in your health journey. It’s amazing how much more we can accomplish when we are being motivated and supported and cheered on to attain our goals. I’m always available if you need me to be your buddy, just contact me!

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What accountability tools do you use to stay motivated?

Part I: Rockin’ the Sweaty Selfie (or any Selfie for that Matter!)

I know that we are supposed to accept and love ourselves the way we are yet we live in an age of photo/selfie obsessed weirdos who constantly post obviously filtered/retouched pics of themselves (what? Me?  no way! ;P). Blame it on the Kardashians, but let’s face it, who doesn’t like seeing a good picture of themselves? Who, here, has ever been guilty of posting a group/family picture based on how good THEY looked, nevermind that your nephew was picking his nose, your better half’s eyes are half closed and he/she looks plastered or that your daughter’s head was chopped off the photo, the point was that YOU looked freakin’ amazing on that picture.

Why should only celebrities have all the good photoshopped pictures? Wanna know how to turn every picture to your advantage? Ok, I’ll let you in on my little secret…

When I post my early morning workout photos, people often ask me whether I apply my make up beforehand… The answer is a big ol’ NO. I might be vain but I’m not crazy (or just crazy enough to function). Not that it didn’t cross my mind, but I figured that with all the sweating (euh, I mean glowing) going on, I would have to reapply afterwards and that’s just a waste of time. Actually, it is much easier than that, I just use an app or rather appssssssss! There are actually 3 apps that I particularly like and here they are in order of importance:

Makeup PLusStep 1: MakeupPlus

This was the first app I found that instantly gives you a flawless complexion, rosy cheeks, and the greatest eyelashes. For a basic, lightly retouched selfie, I suggest to smooth out your complexion with the foundation feature (put the cursor less than half the way to the end for a more natural finish) and don’t forget that within the foundation feature there is a “beautify” option that will also smooth out your skin, add a little blush and extend your lashes (my favourite is the Climax style) and, ta-daaaaa, you are Kardashian-ready!

workout
Just subtle changes can make a big difference. I used the foundation, mascara and eyebrows tools.

This feature also lets you change lipstick color (and choose a satin, matte or gloss finish and choose color intensity) same goes for the blush and eye shadow. You can also opt for the contouring option which makes you “glow”, you can retouch your eyebrows, apply eyeliner, have fun with disguises and even change your eye color! Who needs makeup, right?! Here are some examples from my own experimentation:

disguises
You can totally waste so much time having fun with this app! My many disguises.

MakeupStep 2: BeautyPlus

I use the BeautyPlus app as a companion to the MakeupPlus app. The BeautyPlus app is great for hiding blemishes, unwanted dark spots and dark circles for those mornings after pulling all-nighters (mommies, are you listening?)! It also allows you to whiten teeth, make your eyes bigger, narrow your nose, slim you out (face or other body parts) and make your eyes sparkly. Who doesn’t want that? Plus this app also has filters if you want to create a mood with your selfie and have some fun with it. Check out the examples below.

casual
Used the teeth whitener, eye brightener, eye contacts, skin smoother and eyelash enhancer tools.

FT2Step 3: Facetune 2

The Facetune2 app is amazing for tuning up your features. Want bigger eyes, a slimmer nose, a smaller jaw? This app is the way to go. I use this app to finetune if I have some free time to spare. It also has many of the features from the other two apps but I find them less effective and don’t work as well. Facetune2 has an extended array of photo features such as changing the background, adding text to your pictures, using a filter (the selection is enormous), etc. See for yourself…

Steps
You can be subtle or go crazy with the apps. Top left: original pic; Top rignt: subtle retouch & filter, Bottom left: Background added; Bottom right: Added makeup!

Also, a few final tips, for a successful selfie make sure to limit shadows (those are hard to get rid of) and enough lighting or else the app features can look strange.

Now go ahead and post your fabulous selfie here!

(CAUTION FROM THE MALE SPECIES: Ultra retouched pictures should never be used on online dating profiles, as to not freak out potential suitor when you actually meet in person! :D)

No Time: No Worries

Hey you! Yes, you. The one running around juggling ten million things at once, the one trying to find some time to unwind when you have an endless to-do lists … Doing all that you are doing, you must have some time-saving hacks in your back pocket? Anything that helps you cut corners yet get the task done? Here are some of mine…

  • Stop washing your hair as often. I truly dislike washing my hair and styling it. I say this and I also refuse to cut my long hair. If you really wanna save time, cut it! If you’re stubborn like me and loooooove having long hair, then I learned to get it washed and braided professionally once a week. No need to go to a high end salon for this, you would be surprise at the prices. Usually my braids last me 4 to 5 days and I just put hair spray to upkeep and voilà! Dry shampoo is also a fav when I leave my hair loose, you can go on 3 days without washing with dry shampoo. Magic stuff!
Hair collage (1)
I found an amazing hair stylist named Natalia and she works in my office building!
  • Become a weekend chef! On Saturday, I start preparing a grocery list of what I will need for my meals in the coming week. On Sunday, I meal prep. It used to take all day… now I can get it done in 90 minutes (there will be another post on this I swear)! Usually I prepare a large batch of a recipe on Sunday (it lasts for supper that night and another meal during the week), then I make another batch of a second recipe that can be eaten twice). I buy salmon (that’s easily prepared) and no need to worry about cooking time during the week.
  • We used to throw out so much food and leftovers. I realized how many things you can actually freeze. After 2-3 days in the fridge, I will freeze any leftovers. When my bananas (or any type of berries) are starting to ripen, I freeze them and use them for my morning Shake. You can even freeze cheese!

freeze

Read: 7 Tips on healthy habits for women for a better living

  • Don’t pick up after your kids. It is POINTLESS! Limit toys to one area of the house and only pick them up when you know guests are coming over. Just kidding, if they are old enough, get them to help. In my case, when they help, it seems worse. I learned to stop trying to keep pieces of puzzles in the same box or dressing up half naked dolls. Channel your inner Elsa and LET IT GO!

mom mess

  • Get someone to clean your house every 2 weeks. That being said, get someone else to pick up the mess (haha!). I was reluctant to do this at first. I insisted I could do it all. I finally gave in once I was pregnant with my second daughter and I must say that it is a blessing. I hired someone to clean and do all the things I don’t have time for as a full-time working mom. It is a good investment… until my daughters are old enough and get them to help… right now they are in training.

What are your time-saving hacks? I am always looking for more…

What is Beachbody? Getting past the cheesy name…

Infomercials. Pyramid scheme. Oiled-up muscle men and women. Tight-abbed folks. These were the thoughts that crossed my mind before signing up. I learned about Beachbody through an old colleague who was posting her workouts on Facebook and whom I saw shed some serious post-pregnancy pounds. Not only did she look amazing and strong but she looked like someone who had her sh**t together. I had to know her secret, after months of procrastinating (and rolling my eyes at her workout posts), I finally got the nerve to contact her.

At first, I was a little overwhelmed by all their program options suited for all types of workouts and different levels. I was happy that my colleague (now my Beachbody coach) was able to guide me through the choices. I was surprised to find out that all their programs include a meal plan and nutrition guidelines and a workout calendar, it’s an all-inclusive type! (woohoo! It did all the thinking for me!) Plus the part I loved the most was that you get a personal coach assigned to you! I lucked out because my coach gave me the attention, motivation and tools I needed to get started (be careful, I heard not all coaches are that amazing, so you need to look out for that. However, you always have the option to switch coaches at any time if you aren’t happy with yours).

The first program I picked was 21 Day Fix because losing 10 pounds in 21 days seemed like a good challenge. Luckily, my coach was there to check up on me because the first couple of weeks were pathetic. I was trying to figure out when to work out with my busy life and meal planning took over my entire weekend. But through the challenge/motivation groups and talking with my coach, I got tips and cues on how to make my workouts fit in to my lifestyle and how to simplify meal prepping for the week. And within a couple of months, it became part of my life.

Since then I have gone on to complete eight of their programs including 21 day fix extreme, PiYo, 22 Minutes Hard Corps, P90x3, Country Heat, Core de Force, Hammer & Chisel and now T25 Focus. And there are so many more I can’t wait to try: Body Beast, I have my eye on you! I went from couch potato to waking up at 5am six days per week to get my workout in. The changes both physical and psychological cannot be described. My life has changed once I got over the cheesy name and has led me to become a Beachbody coach myself and share what I have learned and give back.

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My transformation results from June ’16 to October ’16

Beware, Beachbody is not a magical solution but the ingredients and YOU are what make it work. Given my lazy background, I also modify a lot of the moves, I don’t jump and I have chocolate every single day! I found that short workouts, easy meal ideas along with the motivation and someone to keep you accountable were the key to a healthier life. It’s definitely worth a try!

If you are interested, contact me and you can join me in my March Challenge Group called “Getting your sh**t together for Summer!”

It’s not the aptitudes, it’s the attitude!

To this day, I still remember those simple words written in black bold letters on a white board stuck on the door of the employee lounge when I worked part-time as a cashier at the Royal Bank of Canada while pursuing my Master’s degree in Psychology: It’s not the aptitudes; it’s the attitude that counts! I wasn’t the quickest cashier or the one which the most knowledge in financial affairs but I did genuinely want to help out my customers. I was actually grateful that this was the employee motto ‘cause my “cashier” aptitudes were… how shall I put it… much to be desired! I once handed over $5000 cash to a customer and forgot to withdraw it from his account (oopsie!) or the time I wrote the wrong branch number and transferred money to another person’s account. In both cases, I was able to correct my mistakes and had an amazing supervisor who guided me through it all and was understanding. But I  learned early on that being kind, having a pleasant demeanor, taking the time to genuinely appreciate your colleagues, customers and superiors paved a brighter path, even if you are not the best in the field.

In the book “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson, the author emphasizes that mindset and attitude are key to getting you where you want to go. People with positive outlooks are more likely to have better outcomes in whatever life throws their way. They are not victims, they do not make excuses, they own their successes and their failures. Besides, there will always be somebody better, younger, more skilled than you at some point. Skills, although very useful, can only get you so far but a positive, happy attitude can get you to your goal and a happier life.

There is something magical about magical thinking

You know the saying “Think it and it will happen!” (or something around those lines)? Well, I truly believe it. Sounds naïve right? But think back to a time when you really, really, really, really wanted something with every fiber of your being. For me, there were many instances that proved this theory right: a job I really wanted, a trip, a pair of shoes (hihi!) but for the sake of this post (and because I almost didn’t think it was possible but still wanted it), a big one for me, was to marry my (spoiler alert) now husband. We had been dating for five years and coming from an Italian background, the need to marry this man was greater than anything I ever wanted. Problem was, he did not view marriage the same way therefore was happy simply living together forever without the “piece of paper”. I, on the other hand, envisioned our life together, united forever with a “piece of paper”, building a family together and going through the chaos of raising children together; and I wanted it badly. The topic was discussed, argued, scoffed at… I tried being nice, angry, there were tears,… and then when I didn’t think there was any hope… he caught me off guard and finally proposed.

Now I’m not saying that everything we want we will get without making any effort. I am talking about those dreams and hopes and wishes we truly believe in right to the core of who we are. The ones that we can envision and somehow know deep inside that it will happen even though we have no clue HOW it will happen. Don’t lose sight of those. Write them down if you need to but never let them get away or rationalize them away, because it is those very dreams and wishes that will guide your actions, and everything you do. Your energy will exude those dreams and whishes and one day they will get you to your goal. In fact, I would twist the saying around and scream “Think it and make it happen!”.

My Favourite Excuses Not to Work out!

Hey there! You may not know this about me but before getting all gung-ho about fitness I was a professional excuse maker especially when it came to exercise and working out. I was so good at it that excuses became my daily mantra. Plus there are soooooo many to choose from, it’s so easy NOT to work out! Here is a list of my Top 10 best excuses NOT to work out:

  1. I don’t have time!

This one was my all time favourite! It’s easy to use and seems pretty credible. We are so busy! We work, we have kids (or not), plans with friends, trips, we have appointments, meetings, we have to eat, sleep, poop, breathe… So many things to do in one day! But have you ever noticed that no matter how busy you are, if you really want to do something you find the time to do it! One of my University design professor once told me if I dedicated as much time into my school assignment as I did shoe shopping, I would be an A+ student! (yes, it was a sexist remark, yet it was true in my case! The next year I switched fields (psychology), was passionate about the topic, spent my Saturday nights studying and ended up being a straight A student). Back to shoe shopping, I love shoe shopping and if someone called me right now to go shoe shopping I would probably drop everything and go. Bottom line, we all have the same 24 hours in our day. We have access to a plethora of workout apps, programs, and tools. There are 7 minute workouts, 10 minute workouts, 30 minute workouts,… It’s up to you to find something that you can stick into your schedule and that you enjoy doing.

  1. I hate changing into workout clothes

This excuse works very well if you have a lunchtime class or a class after work and you don’t have much time to change. Unfortunately, now that fitness fashion is making its way into our day to day closets, this excuse is becoming extinct (who cares about the whales, this one needs saving!). So the hell with the excuse and do what I do, wear your workout clothes as outfits (if your office policy allows it of course). Whenever I have yoga lunch class, my typical outfit consists of black Lululemon leggings (quality has got to be there if you are in an office setting), a long black classy tank and an oversized wrap or long open front sweater. When I first started working out in the morning, I used to do it in my pjs (or undies, shhhhhhh!) because I was too lazy to change. And if you are really desperate, why not sleep in your workout clothes! I knew a fitness instructor who used to do this and she said it would give her no excuse not to workout!

  1. There’s no point, it’s not as if it’s going to make a difference

I usually reserved this excuse for PMS days and was mostly said to myself. I didn’t believe in exercise, well more precisely I expected that if you exercised one day then you would see results by the next day or at least by the day after that. It took 40 years to learn that the benefits of exercise are 1) not typically visible physically the next day 2) positive changes are actually taking place the minute you start exercising, you just don’t see them but you can start feeling them: better sleep, better mood, better circulation, etc. And don’t get me started on the long term benefits!

  1. Let’s go have supper/a drink/insert anything more fun instead of working out

Ahhhh, my friends can attest to this one! I was the worst workout partner. You know when they say to buddy up in order to motivate eachother to work out. Well, whoever would buddy up with me used to end up worst off than when they started. I was the bad influence, the one who knew that even though you said you wanted to try that new yoga studio down the street you would really just rather go out somewhere and indulge in some amazing food and chat the night away; ‘cause that’s what I really wanted to do… mainly because I didn’t feel like changing into my workout clothes! If you have a friend like that, no matter how many times she tells you she wants to go to that class with you, DON’T BELIEVE HER! Unless she totally turns her mindset around fitness around, then you can totally text her ;p

  1. I need something or someone to motivate me

Working out alone is boring and you may do it for a while but sometimes we need to be held accountable and supported in our actions. With all the motivation/challenge groups out there you can get motivation at the drop of a hat! I regularly run challenge groups on Facebook and it’s amazing the motivation you get when you are surrounded by people going through the same struggles and going after the same goals as you.

  1. I hate getting all yucky and sweaty

This is a pathetic excuse given that we live in the 21st century and showers are actually an indoor thing and easily accessible at gyms, homes and even in some offices! Or just carry wipes or just workout from home! And for long hair issues, do what I do and get your hair braided once a week so it is out of the way during your workouts and no styling (or washing) needed for at least 3 days!

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  1. I might injure myself

For someone like me, this was a real cause for concern. I used to avoid doing anything too strenuous, especially before a big presentation or business trip for fear that I may injure myself. This stems from the fact that I actually did injure myself either at the gym or when I would start running. Now that I am older and wiser (most of the time), 1) I avoid high impact sports 2) I pay more attention to technique 3) I modify certain moves and gradually challenge myself a little more each time. Trust me there is always a modified version that will get you the results you are looking for, no need to pretzel yourself silly! So far so good!

  1. I’m sorta healthy so I don’t really need to exercise

Sometimes people start exercising once they receive a warning from their doctors to do so. But for most of us, we don’t seem to have health issues or we haven’t gone to see a doctor in ages so we figure nothing is wrong with us. Hey, if I’m still breathing and walking, then I must be ok. You do NEED to exercise so that you can PREVENT those health issues. Think of exercise as an investment you make in your health. The more you exercise and move the more your body and mind benefits from it in the long run.

  1. I’m too tired

Before having kids, I was always tired. I was tired to the point that I was scared of having kids because of the energy it would require for me to skip nap times or crashing on the couch as soon as I got back home from work. Then I had kids and I was even more tired but realized that I could still do things despite the fact of being tired such as cooking a meal to feed my child, changing a smelly poopy diaper. I couldn’t even bear the thought of adding a workout to the list of things that made me so tired. But you know what the weird part is, the more you move, the more energy you get. That’s why you need to work out, duh! It’s amazing the energy you gain from just 15 minutes of rigorous exercise. Just try 10 minutes and build up slowly within a couple of weeks you will start seeing a difference.

  1. I don’t need to workout, running after my kids IS my workout!

I used this one with my coach, thinking it would get me off the hook from my 30 minute workout. Unfortunately it didn’t. Her response: That’s great Alex, that you ran around the park with your kids now go work out and text me later to let me know how it went! So I did, and you know what: it felt good! It was something I was doing for ME, without having to think about anyone else and it felt good. Yeah I know I said it twice but it’s worth repeating.

What’s the best excuse you’ve used not to work out? (I may need it one day 😉

Getting Started!

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain

Ever had an amazing idea and didn’t know where to start? Or better yet, wanted to apply for a new job, start a new sport, try a new recipe, start a weight loss program, change a bad habit, start a thing with that guy or girl you’ve been eyeing and then once you decide “Today is the day!”, all these anxiety provoking thoughts start fluttering and multiplying in your head. You feel paralyzed and finally decide it ain’t worth the trouble? What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough? What if people think I’m stupid or tacky or cheesy for doing this? What if this leads to the total collapse of the human species? Ok so maybe that last one is far-fetched but I’m Italian so my drama comes out of me once in a while! This was exactly what was going through my mind when I decided to launch my blog. And the irony in all of this was that getting over your fears and taking action was the exact reason I decided to launch my blog in the first place!

First, all the running, swirling thoughts in your brain before undertaking a new action is normal. The more the action is out of our normal routine, the greater anxiety it will generate. We, as humans, are programmed to dislike change. For the most part, we like what is familiar, what we know, what we can predict. Have you ever stayed in a bad relationship/job/apartment longer than you should have simply because doing something about it would require too much energy? Change is uncomfortable, we don’t know where it leads and we fear we will be worse off than when we began. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? But sometimes, there is a spark inside of us to do something and action ignites this spark into something we can learn and grow from.

So, if like me, you’re caught wondering whether to go for it or stay with your current, perfectly content, situation, ask yourself these 3 questions…

“What if” I don’t take action…

What if I didn’t accept the job offer? What if I didn’t go on that trip? More importantly ask yourself: how will it make you feel if you don’t do it? Several years ago, when I went back to work after taking a yearlong maternity leave with my first baby, I knew I wanted a second child right away (clock was tickin’ on this 37-year-old mama!). I was content going back to my old job as a senior marketing research consultant and getting back to my routine. However, less than a month later, I got a call from a head hunter, who offered me a great opportunity and instinctively I was interested. Then the thoughts started: What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t get along with my new colleagues? What will my boss think if I leave after only one month after my return? What will it look like on my CV that I have changed jobs after only a couple of years? But then I asked myself THE crucial question: What if I don’t go for it? How would it make me feel? And my answer was that I would feel like I missed out on an opportunity. Heck, I may not even get the job, but if I don’t at least try, I will never know and I would regret not having tried because another part of me strongly believed this was a good thing and that I was the right person for this job.

Trusting your gut!

Our gut is truly our second brain. It can tell us when certain things make us uncomfortable in a bad way and when things scare us but excite us at the same time. But you have to be in tune with the subtle difference between the two. This is what happened when I got the call telling me I got the job. I was a week late in my period (sorry if TMI but that’s how I roll) and told myself that if I was in fact pregnant I wouldn’t take the job because it would not be fair to start a job and leave after less than a year to go on mat leave. How would it look? What would people say? So I took the pregnancy test and it was…. arkkkkk POSITIVE! My first thought: Shoot! I really want that job! So I listened to my gut and signed the contract anyway and crossed my fingers that I would have an understanding boss. Well, turned out I ended up miscarrying a few weeks later. I was sad but even more crushing would have been that I would’ve made my decision based on another premise I didn’t know the outcome to. Trusting my gut was the best thing I could’ve done for myself.

Envision yourself succeeding

Imagine yourself in the new job position, with the ideal weight, in a relationship with the person you’ve been eyeing. How will it make you feel? Without over thinking it, what will you feel you gained? How can your life be improved? After having my two kids (yes got pregnant, about a year later), I had an extra 15 pounds of post pregnancy weight to lose. It wasn’t a big deal, clothes still fit me but I didn’t feel like myself and it was bugging me the crap out of me. Yet it wasn’t bugging me enough to actually do something. Until one day I got fed up of hearing myself complain that I only had 15 pounds to lose and how cool it would be to actually go back to my pre-preggo weight. I was tired of wearing my spanx one piece bathing suit at the kiddie pool and finally decided to contact an old colleague who was starting a challenge group with a Beachbody program. The first thing she told me was to picture myself with the weight off and ask myself: What was my ultimate goal? What would it feel like when I accomplished my goal? Mine was to obviously to look good in a bikini but also to be a healthy, vibrant, better version of myself. That mental image stuck with me and motivated me to keep pushing play. It fueled my workouts and played into changing my eating habits. Change didn’t happen overnight, there were baby steps but one day that same image I envisioned was staring right back at me in the bathroom mirror. Yay!

Getting Stronger every day!

So remember: Every decision you take is the right one for you at the moment you take it. If you succeed it is the right decision and if you fail it is still the right decision because you learned from it. In the end, if you have your heart set on doing something, don’t ruminate over the negative self-talk, just go for it! I bet you even the slightest action will make you feel proud that you are finally doing something towards your goal and truly living your life.

Now tell me… what have you always wanted to do but were too scared to do?