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Good morning readers!

I was watching a video this morning that scrolled across my Facebook wall that inspired today’s post.

Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight interviewed James Quincey, the President of The Coca-Cola Company’s Europe Group about the amount of sugar in Coca-Cola products, particularly in the sodas you buy at the cinema (they contain a staggering amount of sugar—the equivalent of 23 to 44 packets of sugar!!!) Watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4tSdTUbxMs.

It is an undisputable fact that refined sugar is not only counterproductive to your health, it is linked to quite a few life-threatening diseases, including diabetes, obesity, cancer, hypertension, and liver damage. And added sugar is a standard ingredient in most processed foods in the form of high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, and molasses, just to name a few. (1)

Dr. Mercola, one of my favorite go-to sources for diet and health information, has written many articles about sugar and sugar substitutes. Here’s a link that lists the articles available through his website: http://search.mercola.com/results.aspx?q=sugar. He also provides great information about the difference between eating fresh fruit versus drinking fruit juice.

My personal take on it is that fresh whole fruit contains fiber that slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.  On the other hand, fruit juice by itself does not have anything to slow down the energy release. And, many store brands of fruit juice have added sugars, making them even worse!  Certain sugars, like liquid fructose, are easy and cheap to manufacture, and are readily used in the manufacture of processed foods. This type of sugar is particularly bad for you.

Honestly, if food has been “manufactured,” it most likely contains unwanted sources of sugar and other less-than-savory, and possibly hazardous or toxic, ingredients.

As always, I recommend eating a nutrient-dense diet featuring unlimited amounts of fresh vegetables across the color spectrum, some quality protein and healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado oil, almond oil, etc), fermented foods, and small to moderate amounts of fresh fruits. My personal experience has been that eating this way keeps me feeling satiated, boosts my energy level, promotes weight loss, and even improves mental health.

If you want to know exactly what a diet like this looks like, join our Healthy Lifestyle Initiative (HLI) and gain access to our healthy lifestyle eating plan and other tools and resources designed to help you maximize your health and fitness levels. Sign up here.

 I hope you found today’s article helpful. Let me know what topics you want to learn about!

Yours in health and well-being,

Allison

References

1. CNCA Health. The Dangers of Sugar: Is It Really That Bad? Available at: http://www.cncahealth.com/explore/learn/nutrition-food/the-dangers-of-sugar-is-it-really-that-bad#.VMZknMZwNKo.

 
 
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I am frequently asked, “Which exercises will produce the most weight loss in the shortest period of time?”  Well, that is a loaded question, and the answer isn’t as simple as listing a few exercises.

First of all, the fastest and easiest way to achieve your ideal weight is to eat a healthy diet. (Join our 2015 FIYB Healthy Lifestyle Initiative and get a free copy of our newly revised eating plan). Combined with an exercise regimen that is appropriate for you, you will have no trouble managing your weight or your waistline.

How do you develop an exercise routine that is appropriate for you? Exercise prescription can get a little tricky. So, when I work with people I take a LOT of things into consideration: their current overall health, exercise history, health history (chronic illnesses, prior injuries or surgeries, etc), health and fitness goals, resource availability (cardio machines, tubing, weights, or other equipment), what activities they enjoy, what activities they deeply dislike, their lifestyle (active, sedentary, high achievers), profession, availability, attitude, and even their hobbies.

Basically, when you start an exercise program, you start wherever you are and set achievable short-term goals that lead to long-term goal achievement. If you are 30 years old and want to go from a sedentary lifestyle to a competitive marathon runner, your exercise program will be quite different from someone who is 50, relatively active, and who simply wants to maintain a good quality of life in the years ahead.

There are different types of exercises to consider as well. There are exercises that challenge the cardiovascular system (heart/lung capacity and efficiency), exercises that strengthen muscles and bones, whole-body exercises, exercises that improve core strength, balance, power, and overall condition. And, there are unlimited methods for designing exercise routines (e.g., timed exercise, sets reps and rest framework, tabatas, muscle confusion, cross-training, and so on). Not to mention, you can participate in a bootcamp, CrossFit, kettlebells, mind/body/spirit exercises (e.g., yoga), pilates, infomercial programs like P90X and Insanity workouts, or class/group training like kick-boxing or karate.

Because it is so complicated and so specific, you might consider hiring someone to help you design a routine that will get you started, keep you safe from injury, and teach you how to change things up over time for maximum results. Or, if you are already familiar with exercise routines and are just looking to shake things up or increase your personal library of exercises, there are plenty of great videos and references online that are free of charge, and there are lots of great reference videos and books available as well.

Just know that each type of exercise and exercise methodology has its own set of benefits, each exercise works very specific muscles or groups of muscles, and all of them contribute to weight management.

I hope today’s post was helpful for you. If you want access to additional resources to help you set and achieve your goals, eat healthy, manage and track your exercise routine, please join the 2015 FIYB Healthy Lifestyle Initiative. There’s no cost other than registering and investing time in your own health.

Or, if you need help designing a fitness program, give me a call (804) 301-0401 or email me at allisonandrews@fitinyourbody.com. (I also do in-home training for your convenience!)

Yours in health and well-being,

Allison

 
 
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In the last article, we talked about how associations affiliated with pain and pleasure dictate personal behavior and how these associations manifest as positive and negative (irrational and/or harmful) behaviors.

That being the case, how do you overcome the negative thoughts and behaviors? You have to change your associations and manage your thoughts. That’s right; you have to manage your thoughts.

There is no magic bullet for this; it takes determination, self love and forgiveness, and lots of practice. It requires you to constantly monitor your thoughts and actions in order to bring them into your awareness. If your thoughts or actions are negative or harmful to yourself or others, stop right there and ask yourself what is going on. What is the underlying benefit that you are receiving by thinking those thoughts or engaging in that harmful activity? 

Better yet, write it down! Make a list of all positive and negative consequences of that line of thought or activity. If you look closely, you will see that it’s the short-term benefits that generally create the impulse to engage in negative thought or harmful action.  For instance, gossiping is a negative and harmful activity, but many people love to gossip! Why? It gives the ego a boost to declare how awful someone else’s behavior has been or how they don’t do things the way you would have done them. If you truly examine the pluses and minuses of gossiping, however, you will find that the negative aspects of gossiping far outweigh the benefits, especially in the long term.

So, when you make your positive/negative associations list, make sure you include long-term advantages/disadvantages on your list. Compare the list with your personal goals and principles and add any alignment or misalignment to the associations list. Be dramatic when making your list!

Using the junk food example above, here’s a possible list of positive/negative associations: Positive—it tastes good, it’s familiar, it distracts me from thinking about an uncomfortable situation.   Negative—it’s making me fat, I feel guilty, I feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable in public because of how it affects my body, it is deteriorating my health, long term it will make me chronically ill possibly even kill me.   Compared to my goals of being healthy and being a good parent: this behavior is 100% anti-healthy and it is setting a horrible example for my kids, not to mention if it kills me, then I can’t even be a parent much less a good one. If I don’t love myself enough to take care of myself, my kids will follow suit. Eating junk food is 100% anti-good-parent behavior!

Armed with these more powerful declarations about eating junk food, you will be empowered to change your behavior. Combined with a plan of action for how to handle it when the impulse arises (plan ahead to eat a banana or yogurt and fruit), you will soon find yourself reaching for that healthy snack instead, and you may even spend time productively addressing the situation you were trying to avoid (e.g., deciding to forgive your mother for something she said that sent you in an emotional tailspin, or forgiving yourself for having the impulse to eat junk!)

 So, the bottom line is, monitor your thoughts and actions, determine what is driving them, change your associations around them, and have a plan of action in place so you know what to do instead or giving in to the impulse. And, write it all down, not only will it be more powerful that way, you will start identifying trends that you can change in order to create the life you so deeply desire!!

I hope you found this post helpful. If you want some tools to help you through this process, be sure to sign up for the FIYB Healthy Lifestyle Initiative! 

Yours in health and well-being,

Alison

 
 
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Greetings readers!

We are now in the first full week of January and it is time for the rubber to hit the road.

If you have ever tried to change any long-term habits you know that changing behaviors can be downright difficult. There are many reasons for this, but here a few of the most common:

·      A habit is a habit is a habit. You’ve been going on auto-pilot for so long you don’t even think about your actions; 
       you just do them.
·      You set unreasonable goals or expect too much change at one time. It’s overwhelming.
·      Emotional blocks or emotionally driven behaviors (do you ever eat ice cream or chocolate when you are upset?).
·      Dread of missing out on something you will enjoy.
·      Dread of engaging in an activity that will make you uncomfortable.
·      Peer pressure (i.e., your dinner host insists you try their chocolate mousse or the boss buys everyone pizza for 
       lunch, and you don’t want to be contrary so you eat it even though it throws a wrench in your plan).

If you think about it, each of the examples above have to do with associations you affiliate with that activity (the pleasure/pain principle). As humans, we are motivated by two forces, pleasure and pain. If you associate more pleasure than pain with an activity, you will engage in that behavior. Likewise, if you associate more pain than pleasure with an activity, you will avoid it. This is the case even if engaging in or avoiding the activity does not make logical sense or if it ultimately causes you harm. As a result, logic and reasoning are thrown to the wind when it comes to our daily habits. That being said, how can you create positive change for yourself when you are inherently, biologically, and illogically change-resistant?

Here are several steps you can take to significantly increase your chances of success:

·      Set a reasonable goal with a timeline (e.g., lose 50 pounds in 12 months).
·      Create an action plan centered on the behavioral changes (e.g., exercise 3 times/week for 30 minutes and 
       eliminate sugar from my diet).
·      Educate yourself! (e.g., if you want to eat a healthy diet, you need to know exactly what that means so you can 
       make informed decisions).
·      Monitor your progress and adjust your action plan accordingly.
·      Identify the scenarios in which derailment is most likely to occur and have a plan in place for each scenario 
       (e.g., snacking on junk while watching the nightly news—instead, have some raw veggies and nuts prepared 
       knowing in advance that is what you will grab when you sit down to watch the news).
·      Figure out the pleasure and pain beliefs you associate with changing or not changing (e.g., if I lose 50 pounds, I 
       will look great, feel better, and find the perfect mate, but if I don’t lose weight, I will get sick, die an early 
       death, feel uncomfortable all the time, feel self-conscious everywhere I go, and feel lonely for the rest of my 
       life). And, don’t be afraid to be dramatic!
·      Change your associations (if eating a tub of ice cream daily brings you visions of delight, review your negative 
       associations before digging in).1 **I highly recommend watching the video listed in the References below. **
·      Know in advance that you may relapse into your old behavior. When you do, forgive yourself and get right back 
       to your action plan. (Don’t dwell on it!)
·      Reward yourself for your accomplishments.
·      Monitor your thoughts at all times—no negative self-talk is permitted, ever!

If you joined our 2015 Healthy Lifestyle Initiative (FIYB HLI), you can access our tools and resources that are designed to assist you through the process of personal change and the HLI blog where we help each other work through the challenges and celebrate our successes as a community.

If you would like to participate in the 2015 FIYB HLI and have access to these tools and resources, all you have to do is register (click here). It’s FREE!!

Here’s to your personal success in 2015.

Yours in health and well-being,

Allison

References:

1. Tony Robbins Pain and Pleasure. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfSj4_n_C_s.

 
 
Greetings and Welcome!!!

First of all, Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!!  2015 promises to be a great year, and I am very excited to be kicking off this initiative with you.  But, before we get started, I would like to give you a little background on how this initiative came about.  (This is going to be a little long so please bear with me – I promise to keep future communications shorter – but this is important stuff!)
**if you don’t care to read the background, just read the last 2-3 paragraphs and the post script of this letter**
 
I have worked in the healthcare and/or fitness industry for 25 years, and I have been an active health enthusiast since a very young age. I began my professional career in the industry as a Senior Healthcare Management Consultant with Ernst & Young in 1990, then I became a Health Data Analyst and Client Reporting Manager for a subsidiary of Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield. Between these two jobs, I learned the ins and outs of the healthcare industry from the provider’s perspective (doctors and hospitals), from the insurer’s perspective, and from the employer’s perspective.
 
While I loved the work I was doing, the corporate environment was not an ideal fit for me. I decided at 32 years of age to change my career so I left my job and went back to school. To subsidize my income, I became a certified personal trainer in 1996. I have been training people ever since, and I started FitInYourBody® Personal Fitness Services in 2006.
 
As a health enthusiast, one thing I found curious over the years was the trend toward obesity and chronic disease and the seemingly impossible challenge of losing weight. It stumped me for many years because it was so easy in the 80’s. Clean up your eating habits, move your body, and voila, you easily reeled in those extra pounds. Really, it was that simple.
 
At first, I attributed the ease of weight loss and vitality to youth. But over the years, the challenge of staying healthy and trim, or obtaining that goal, has grown exponentially more difficult. Employing the same weight loss techniques not only didn’t work, but they seemed to have the opposite effect.
 
So here we are at January 2015. There is an alarming rate of obesity and chronic disease in adults, and childhood obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases are on the rise, autism is on the rise, and the average age of puberty in children is going down (in 1860 average age of onset of puberty in girls was 16.6 years, today it is 8-12 years), and there is a direct link between Body Mass Index (BMI) and puberty1.
 
Being an analyst, I am a trend watcher and I fully understand that there are underlying causes for all trends. These trends deeply disturbed me so I became obsessed with figuring out what the hell is going on. And intuitively, I knew that being healthy should be a natural occurrence, not some unachievable desire moving ever further out of reach.
 
What I found in my research scared the daylights out of me. It was very difficult for me to accept the truth at first, but the evidence is so clear I could no longer deny it. And having accepted it, I was able to shift the focus of my research from what went wrong to what can I do about it.
 
So, what did go wrong, why are we in this mess to begin with?  I will spare you the gory details but in a nutshell, for-profit industries place profits first. Healthcare and big agriculture are for-profit industries. Unfortunately, that means that our health and the quality and integrity of our food takes a back seat to money. And, if you dig deep enough you will find industry executives in these and related industries (chemical and oil particularly) embedded in the executive positions of the agencies that oversee and regulate these industries, supposedly in the name of consumer protection.
 
I am not on a conspiracy rampage here, I am just telling you the truth. If you are interested in specific details, I will be happy to provide them. But all you really need to know is that the system is broken. Mass produced food is now engineered like cigarettes to be addictive, it’s laden with substances that are toxic, and official recommendations, policies, and legislation that arise from the overseeing agencies and government officials are not necessarily in your best interest, and frequently they are counter to your health and well-being. These are simply “business decisions” playing out on a grand scale. And the effects over time are cumulative, and frankly they are dangerous; hence you see the trends in obesity, chronic disease, and puberty.
 
How do we get out of this mess? Take your health and well-being into your own hands, period. Vote with your dollars. If you refuse to buy food with no nutritional value, produce that are laden with pesticides or that have been genetically modified, or animal products that have hormones and antibiotics in them, the industries will change their model accordingly, and/or a new healthier, consumer-friendly model will become the norm.
 
Will you have to pay more for food? Yes. Will you have to give up some consumption habits that you enjoy? Probably. Will you look and feel better? YES!  And, I promise you from my own experience, if you make the right changes, weight management will no longer be a struggle, your health will improve, you will look and feel better and have more energy, you will not miss the junk in your current diet, and you will realize that the money and time you spend is a proactive investment in your health and well-being. Think of it as a health savings account that accrues with interest.
 
The purpose of the FIYB HLI is to get the word out on how to take control of your health and well-being. I want to empower you to make the changes that will maximize you health, well-being, and happiness. I will be sharing a lot of information, tools, and techniques that I have found to be helpful in my personal self-improvement journey.
 
Early next week I will send you instructions on how to get started, provide you with some initial tools and helpful links. In the meantime, be sure to read this week’s blog post: http://eepurl.com/baqtl5. And, please start gearing up mentally for the challenges ahead. Everyone is on their own journey. Some challenges will be mutually shared and others will be specific to each person. Some challenges will be easy to tackle, others seemingly insurmountable. Just know it is doable! And, we will have each other for support – there will be a blog forum for sharing, questioning, ranting, or whatever you feel the need to express as you track along the journey.
 
Thank you for coming along for the ride, I look forward to working with each of you over the upcoming months. And PLEASE SHARE this with anyone you think might benefit from the contents. All I ask is that you not give them the tools and resources you receive, rather I ask you to have them register so that they are part of the community.   The registration page is http://www.fitinyourbody.com/new-year.html.  You may, however, forward them today’s newsletter.
 
Here’s to 2015 being the best year ever!
 
To you, your health, happiness, and well-being,