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Exercise Tips for Surviving the Holidays

‘Tis the season of hectic schedules, over-committing and overindulgence, otherwise known as The Holidays. While you might not be able to control your schedule or say no to every canapé and cup of Christmas cheer, sticking with a regular exercise program can help you manage stress, maintain weight and hold on to the fitness gains you’ve spent the rest of the year working so hard to get.

I’ve outlined five go-to tips and an extra bonus strategy in this article I wrote for the PBS website NextAvenue. Give it a read in between sets during your next workout. And Happy Holidays from Well Curated Life!

Great Gear For Getting Outdoors

Spring is in the air and that prompts many of us to take our workouts outdoors. Spring weather can be fickle, though, so it helps to have the right gear. Here are a few of my top suggestions, outlined in an article originally published at Active.com.

A Lightweight, Waterproof Shell

Perhaps the most essential piece of running gear for bad weather, a good-quality waterproof shell can make even the most miserable of weather conditions feel almost cozy. On chilly mornings, layer warm, wicking garments beneath it, and laugh at Mother Nature as you blast through whatever she throws your way. A great shell will be brightly colored and/or reflective for enhanced visibility and might include extra zippered pockets to safely stash energy gels, electronics or other small items.

A Pair of Sturdy, All-Purpose Training Shoes

Whether you’re an off-road trail runner or you stick to the side of the highway, the surfaces you run on can be more hazardous in the springtime. There may be a lot of debris; your path might be laden with sticks, branches, acorns and the like from windstorms; and of course, you’re likely to encounter a puddle or two.

This is probably not the best time to don your ultra-lightweight racing shoes or to give the latest minimalist model a try. Instead, opt for a solid training shoe that will protect your feet from sharp objects and give you the stability you need on wet or uneven surfaces. If they happen to be water-resistant, so much the better.

A Comfortable Hydration Belt or Bottle

There are hundreds of different products to choose from, but the only feature that matters is whether or not you find the hydration belt or bottle comfortable and easy to carry or wear. Every body is different, so it might not be adequate to rely on reviews and comments online. Instead, visit your local running store and request a hands-on trial before purchasing a hydration product.

And don’t be satisfied with just wrapping an empty hydration belt around your waist, either. Ask the store clerk if they have demo models you can fill with water and test out with an actual jog around the block or on their treadmill. The same goes for handheld models: A bottle that holds 20 ounces of liquid sounds great until you have to hold it in your hand for 40 minutes of running.

Waterproof Gear For Your Electronics

Many people love to run while listening to a favorite playlist or motivational podcast. Unfortunately, a cheap carrying case or armband could cost you your smartphone. If you’ve already paid hundreds of dollars for your phone or music device, why not invest a little more in a sport case that’s guaranteed to protect your device in any weather?

When comparison-shopping, be sure to read the fine print to ensure the product is really guaranteed.

9 Simple Habits for a Healthy Diet

New Year’s resolutions may still be a few weeks off, but now is the perfect time to think about your diet. As you navigate these weeks filled with excesses and splurges, you can minimize the damage done to your waistline by following a few very simple dietary tips.

As I wrote in an article for NextAvenue titled, “The Best Diet You’ve Never Heard Of,” these tips aren’t part of the latest commercially branded diet – they are recommendations from a team of nutritional scientists at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The list actually isn’t meant to be a diet at all, but rather a set of criteria the research team used to rate the effectiveness of the government’s dietary guidelines. Their findings? The 2005 USDA recommendations did little to reduce chronic health risks, but improvements made to the recommendations in 2010 and 2015 have made great strides forward.

So what does a healthy diet – the kind that can reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension – look like? The answer falls into two simple (and common sense) lists: Foods to maximize in the diet, and foods to minimize. For details on number of servings and good sources, check out my original article at NextAvenue.

Consume More of These

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts and Legumes
  • Essential Fatty Acids (Especially Omega-3)

Consume Less of These

  • Sugary Beverages (Including Fruit Juice)
  • Red Meat
  • Sodium
  • Alcohol

So, for your next holiday soiree, load up on a big salad or a bowl of vegan Moroccan stew before you go and once you’re there, sip that champagne cocktail slowly, hit the crudité platter hard, and pass on the dessert tray.

Better Alternatives to Halloween Candy

It’s that time of year again! Where I live, most of the leaves have turned and fallen from the trees; the crisp fall air is scented with the smell of bonfires; the late afternoon sun casts impossibly long shadows over fields of golden corn stalks; and there are mountains of toxic, empty-calorie junk foods in every home and workplace. Halloween is right around the corner, with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas right behind it. While the holidays have long been times of festive celebration and fellowship with family and friends, in recent decades, they have begun to center more around food than love, laughs and conversation. Many Americans gain one to five pounds each year during the holidays, and few of them lose that extra weight over the coming months. In this post, I’ll focus on the first food-centric holiday of the season: Halloween.

Whatever your thoughts about the origins or current meaning of the holiday, no doubt your Halloween involves having a large bowl full of candy to pass out to costumed kids who come knocking on your door. It’s a tricky business guessing how much candy you’ll need to buy. You don’t want to run out and have to turn away a bunch of sad little goblins at 7 p.m., but you also don’t want to have a bunch of candy lying around the house for the next week. What usually happens, is people buy more than they think they’ll need and then bring the leftover candy into work the next day. So then, not only are you faced with a bowlful of your own candy, but several others from your coworkers as well.

You can stop being part of the problem this year, though, by choosing your Halloween treats more wisely. Here are five alternative ideas to passing out candy this year.

  1. Single-Serving Dried Fruit, Nuts or Trail Mix – Think lunchbox snacks, here. Tiny servings of boxed raisins, dried mango, dried apple – whatever. Choose nuts that kids prefer, like peanuts, cashews or almonds.
  2. Fresh Fruit – Buying tangerines, kiwi or clementines by the bag makes this an affordable option. It might also expose some kids to new fruits they haven’t tried before.
  3.  Small Toys – While lots of kids these days have abandoned “real” toys in favor of electronica, small children may still delight in playing with the real thing. At the website Giggle Time Toys, you can choose from a wide variety of small toys that cost less than a buck apiece.
  4.  Cold, Hard Cash – If you had been handing this out when I was a kid, I would have been sure to hit your house every year. This probably isn’t an option if you normally have 200 kids visit, or if you get a lot of tweens and teens, but if you get a handful of young children, you can give them an amount of money that is meaningful to them. Most “desirable” Halloween candy costs between 10 and 25 cents per piece, so if you routinely hand out two or three pieces, then dropping a quarter or two into each munchkin’s bag won’t break the bank.
  5. A Fun and Spooky Experience – You can give kids a treat without handing them anything by turning your garage into a haunted house, or your back yard into a spooky labyrinth. Admittedly, this takes a lot more time and planning than just buying a bag of candy, but instead of giving kids a sugar high followed by early-onset diabetes, you can create a fun memory and instantly become the coolest house on the block.

Start this holiday season off right by leaving the Halloween candy at the store and giving the kids in your neighborhood something better.

Arm Yourself With Information

As a trainer and health coach, I’m always surprised at the prevalence of certain fitness myths. While some erroneous beliefs are rooted in old science that has simply been improved upon, others have been dead wrong from the start.

Take the belly fat myth, for example – the belief that the best (or only) way to lose belly fat is by doing sit-ups or other abdominal exercises. In fact, there could be nothing further from the truth. Abdominal exercises, like all strength training, can build or tone muscle, but they will do nothing at all to shed the fat necessary to glimpse those toned muscles. For that, you’re much better off focusing on exercises that burn a lot of calories, like running, kettle bell training, or Tabata classes. Even more effective is cutting calories through diet. Saying no to that second glass of wine, or skipping dessert is the calorie equivalent of all the crunches or planks you might do in a whole week.

Still, the belly fat myth and others persist, and they do so to our detriment. Believing certain “false positive” myths can cause you to waste your time doing things that don’t yield results. That leads to frustration and the false belief that exercise is pointless. There are other types of myths – the “false negatives” – that warn you away from activities that are actually beneficial. These myths are just as harmful as the false positives.

Fitness myths are a little bit like stereotypes – they exist because people apply broad assumptions to something based on limited occurrences. You’ve tried losing belly fat by doing hours of ab exercises, which haven’t worked, and so you assume that exercise won’t help. Or, you know a friend who started running in her late 40s and a few months later, she developed serious knee pain. Or, your sister wanted to get in shape, so she joined a local CrossFit gym, and promptly hurt her shoulder. These kinds of experiences help perpetuate our most popular fitness myths, but if we drill down and look at the real causes, we see a common theme: It’s not that exercise is ineffective or dangerous, it’s that we’re doing it wrong. You didn’t realize that you should have been focusing on diet and cardio to lose your belly fat; your neighbor didn’t know that she was running too many miles too soon in her training program; your sister failed to tell her CrossFit coach about that shoulder injury she sustained in college that still gives her trouble from time to time today.

Your best defense against wasted hours in the gym, frustration and injury is good, solid information. And when it comes to exercise, your best source of information is an experienced fitness professional. Read my NextAvenue article for tips on how to find the right trainer for you. Then head to the gym, and check your fitness misconceptions at the door.

10 Weeks to Weight Loss

Reboot Open Book Last month I wrapped up the Reboot Your Body 10-Week Weight Loss Challenge, where I led five volunteers through a 10-week virtual program designed to give them the tools they needed to change their lives, lose weight and keep it off for good.

The participants of the challenge provided me with feedback along the way, which allowed me to tweak and perfect the program with the end goal of creating a product that can truly help anyone reach their weight loss goals.

The result is Reboot Your Body’s 10 Weeks to Weight Loss, a ten-week comprehensive weight loss program based on the program outlined in my book, Reboot Your Body: Unlocking the Genetic Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss. The course includes weekly program emails, videos, journal assignments and unlimited email communication between you and I. Also included is the option to hold four face-to-face video chat sessions via Skype or FaceTime over the duration of the program. All you need is weekly access to an internet-connected computer or mobile device. The cost of the program includes a paperback or eBook copy of Reboot Your Body: Unlocking the Genetic Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss.

Here’s what some of the challenge participants had to say about their experience and what they learned as they worked through the 10-week program:

  •  I caught myself protecting things that I didn’t even know were “things” for me. Like ordering a basket of fries to share with friends. When I heard my inner voice say, “What?!? It’s not like you’re alone at the drive-through—that would be a problem. This is social.” That’s when I knew French fries were going to be a barrier.
  • Much of what had been holding me back was rooted in things that seemed to have little (or nothing) to do with food and exercise. For example, the stress of keeping myself busy (busy, busy), and the lie that if only I had more time, then I would attend to my health.
  • The Reboot Challenge has opened my eyes to a deeper sense of my weight problem.  By completing the exercises in the beginning, I discovered the contributing factors to my past and current struggle with my weight.  I have learned and accepted that my weight problem is more than a physical issue, it has much deeper roots.  I feel the Reboot challenge has helped me tap into this and realize that I will need to frequently reflect on these issues as I continue to move forward.  The importance of looking at the whole picture has been very beneficial as well.
  • My clothes are fitting better: my jeans aren’t so tight; I can comfortably cinch my belt to the 3rd hole (I was getting closer to to the 5th hole when we started) my rings go on/come off easily. I have become increasingly physically active. With only one exception, I have gotten outside for exercise daily over the past two weeks. I’m actually doing some yoga in my home a couple days a week. I am eating more fruits and vegetables, and I’m wasting less food via spoilage. I’m making better choices when we eat out: no desserts, no sugared drinks. I’ve even been refraining from French fries, even when they’re within easy reach on someone else’s plate. When I do have “slips,” I’m not berating myself. Instead I make a mental note that I need to do something differently next time—that I’m going to need to be more honest with myself, and more intentional about problem areas/barriers.

If you’re ready to make similar discoveries about what’s really been holding you back from reaching your goals, sign up for the Reboot Your Body 10 Weeks to Weight Loss Program today. At $300 for 10 weeks of coaching, the program is incredibly affordable, but because this is the first time I’m offering it, you have the opportunity to get an even better deal: Just $150 for 10 weeks of one-on-one coaching.

Don’t mistake this program for the usual, automated email delivery variety. Here you will get intensive, personalized coaching directly from me – a weight loss expert and fitness coach with years of experience and a track record of proven success. Read what one of my clients has to say about her experience working with me:

When I decided to change my body I knew I needed to start with changing my mind. As a CEO and mom of three teenagers, I’d been putting everyone’s needs ahead of my health for a long time. Rashelle Brown has been the perfect trainer, coach, nutrition adviser and accountability partner. Six months into my journey I’ve lost 25 pounds and completely changed my relationship with food. And exercise. My joint pain is gone, and I’m moving like a fit, athletic person for the first time in a decade. 

Rashelle’s book, “Reboot Your Body,” was the roadmap to changing my mind and body. The exercises provide the optimal balance between the past and future. First I discovered the limiting beliefs and patterns that were holding me back — and then we focused on the go-forward plan. Moving through the book was revealing, hard, uplifting and so necessary. To move forward, I had to see what was holding me back. Rashelle was with me, exercise for exercise, to guide, cheer, question and push me when the going got tough.

I’ve tried and failed to make the change to better health so many times. It was the combination of Rashelle Brown and “Reboot Your Body,” that provided the breakthrough I needed to rediscover the joys of a healthy body and healthy mind. At age 52, I am the strongest, healthiest and most energized I’ve been in years – and I know the best is yet to come.

Lisa H.

Are you ready to change your life? Simply fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch to gather more details and start planning your personalized 10-week program today. It’s as easy as that!