Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stay Fit During the Holidays - Guest Author Jessica Costello

I'm excited to have guest blogger Jessica Costello share some ideas on staying fit during this crazy holiday season. I hope you're all having a wonderful time with family and loved ones.

Stay Fit During the Holidays with 10 Easy Exercises
by Jessica Costello

Question: What's the best form of exercise?
Answer: The one you'll actually do!

As long as your fitness program:
A. Raises your heart rate
B. Has a strength training component
C. And is done at least thirty minutes a day five days a week – you'll experience significant health benefits.

Variety is the spice of life; it keeps you motivated and works better for your body by working different muscle groups. You don't need to go to a gym and use fitness equipment. In fact, here are ten simple, yet effective exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home that can help prevent putting on holiday weight:

1. Take a Hike/Stroll

It's also simple, low-impact and easy on the joints – just put on a comfortable pair of shoes, step outside and walk at a fairly brisk pace around your neighborhood. It's a great way to clear the head and improve your mood – it may be cold, but will give you an opportunity to enjoy all the lights and decorations for the holiday season.

2. Jump!

Act like your kids on Christmas morning! Jump up and down, or do some jumping jacks. They're a great way to get the heart pumping and the limbs loosened up. 15-20 repetitions with a minute or two of rest between sets for thirty minutes should be sufficient. This will increase endurance and work on toning your thighs.

3. "Drop and Give Me 20, Soldier!"

Push-ups confer all the same strength-training benefits of bench presses with barbells – without the risk of handling heavy weights and need for a "spotter." You can adjust the intensity by elevating your feet. Push-ups do more than work your arms, they are a total body workout.

4. Lift That Leg

This provides a strength training workout for the thighs and adductors (muscles that attach the upper leg to the hip). If you can't manage leg lifts with a straight leg, bend the knee.

5. Washboard Abs?

You may not get "ripped" by doing crunches, but you'll definitely work your ab muscles – and this will award real benefits to your back as well, and you will see an improvement in toning your abs.

6. You Can Keep Running In Place...

...and you should. This is an exercise you can do while watching TV, making the "boob tube" actually good for something. You can also do it while stringing popcorn on the string for the tree.

7. The Squatters...

No, we don't mean settling land that isn't yours – it's what you do every time you sit in and get up from a chair. Just do it several times until you "feel the burn...", and

8. Household Weight Equipment

Cans of food, milk and water jugs, sacks of flour – you'd be amazed at how much weight training equipment is just sitting in your pantry or refrigerator. (Who knew your could actually lose weight with using your holiday baking ingredients?)

9. Roll Up The Carpet

The latest craze is dancing off the weight, but not all of us can get to the classes when they are offered and the videos cost more than Christmas. Instead roll up the carpet, and crack up the tunes, whether it's Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas" or whatever is on the radio, dancing will increase your aerobic hear rate, and help with endurance training.
10. Steppin' Up

Finally, you don't have to buy a bench step and sign up for a step class to do step. Chances are you've got a step or two around your home. So while those cookies are in the oven, run the stairs a few times. The timers will make great intervals and keep you fit while baking!

The fact of the matter is, that all of these are not difficult, and do not require patience, or a long drawn out explanation. They are simple and they WORK. So maybe you aren't getting fit on treadmills, or ellipticals, but the end result is the same and you will have a lot of extra cash to go and spend it on holiday gifts, or a treat for yourself!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Getting with it

I'm finally back to the gym four-five days a week. It's been really hard to recover from this cute baby, but he's so worth it!
My focus lately has been exercising as quickly as possible so I can get home to my chubby guy, but I still feel like I'm getting a pretty good workout because I'm doing intervals with my cardio, which burn more calories than steady-paced workouts and I'm following the idea in Prevention to do only two sets of strength training without rest. (Click here for more info.)
Do you feel like you get a good workout when you're rushed or do you just feel rushed?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Exercise = Happy Mom

Exercise just makes me happy. After a good, hard workout I'm on a high for a while and that's good for everybody in the family.

Why is that?

"Exercise releases endorphins, natural hormones that flood the body with a feel-good energy, a natural high! You release stress through physical exertion and regulated breathing, so you can let go of the day’s challenges and go home feeling relaxed and refreshed." (i)

I can promise you that is true. I feel better physically and emotionally after I exercise and when I'm facing a hard problem or need to prepare a speech or presentation or think up a new scene for a book I do my best work out on a walk or run.

Exercise can also help relieve depression: "In the New York Times recent research, studying twins, indicated that, despite studies that seemed to suggest that exercise was almost as effective in relieving depression as anti-depressants, in fact, the “association of exercise with reduced anxious and depressive symptoms could be explained genetically: people disinclined to exercise also tend to be depressed. One does not cause the other.” (ii)

Exercise has so many great benefits. I think too often we exercise to lose weight but that's just a nice side benefit for me.

What do you do to get happy?

(i) Exercise can Make You Happy & Healthy by David Bohl, read the entire article here.
(ii) The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, check out the blog here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Best strength training for weight loss

Prevention Magazine's fitness trainers did a study to see which weight-training techniques were most effective for weight loss in women.
The winner they call drop sets. Basically you do one set with a weight that you can only lift for 10-12 reps, then you follow that with the same exercise with a lighter weight and complete as many reps as possible. If you can do more than 12 you need to use a heavier weight. After you complete the two sets for one muscle group you move immediately to your next muscle group.
I don't know that this is a conclusive study, they only had 23 participants, but it sounds like a fun technique to try. I like that it's a quick workout and you're fatiguing the muscle group which is sometimes a problem for women because we don't like to lift heavy enough weights to fatigue the muscle, which is the only way to really increase muscle density, size, and strength.
I'm going to try it out for a while. If any of you are game, maybe we could do our own little research study. Let me know.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Baby Steps

1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
This scripture reminds me that Heavenly Father has given each of us an amazing gift, our physical bodies. We are each responsible to care for our body or temple spiritually, mentally, and physically. Taking care of ourselves physically can increase our capacity to serve others and serve the Lord. It keeps our minds strong and our spirits free from the debilitating effects of depression and addiction. But how do we go about improving our physical bodies?
Start small with a concept I like to call baby steps.
Begin with one change at a time. Little differences can add up to big results. Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to rule or completely alter your lifestyle. By starting small you won't feel completely overwhelmed and give up. Baby steps are the key to making lifelong changes. Instead of losing weight with a crash diet – which always comes back on – or starting an ambitious exercise program and getting injured or burned out, take it slow and change one thing at a time.
One change a month is a great goal. Twenty-one days will form a habit (good or bad). If you stick with a goal for a month you can be certain of making it into a long-term habit and if you concentrate on one goal a month you won't become frustrated and quit, but will instead make a positive change.
For example:
January - make a goal to eat five servings of fruits/veggies a day. Reward yourself with a treat on Saturday night if you keep your goal.
February - outline a plan to lift weights twice a week. Write on your calendar which days and times you're going to strength train or program it into your cell phone (the reminder feature could be very helpful).
March – decide to use only child-sized plates and bowls, it will force you to eat smaller portions.
April - convince your family to go for an after dinner bike ride or walk every weekday. If this is too overwhelming with busy schedules aim for a couple of nights a week.
May - trade white bread for high fiber bread.
Our main goal should be healthy and fit for life not just a desire to lose weight because we have an exotic vacation or a best friend's wedding coming up. So go write on your calendar what your next month’s goal is going to be. I write my monthly goals on my desk calendar then I’m reminded of them many times a day. My latest goal - walking at least 20,000 steps a day. It's a tough one but I'm amazed how those steps add up when pacing with a baby, dancing with my preschooler, or going on bike rides with my older boys (we put the pedometer on our shoe so it counts rotations, hope that's not cheating!).
The difference between a normal weight person and an overweight person is a hundred calories a day. An extra hundred calories a day adds up to ten pounds of weight gain in one year. Can you believe that? A hundred calories is half a Twix bar.
It's amazing how seemingly insignificant choices (baby steps) can make a big difference in our health. The choices you make today not only affect you but your family now and in the future. Because my son has a blood disorder the doctors have instructed me to eat extra healthy for him. Now that's amazing motivation. If you're struggling think about how your choices will affect your family, it makes it a lot easier to choose wisely.
Change your diet slowly and the healthy food will become tastier to you than the junk. I still haven't given up a few chocolate splurges each week (I don’t believe any woman should!), but I can hardly stand greasy food anymore. It takes time to change your diet and exercise habits. Decide on one area and do it today. I promise you will like the long-term results.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Positive Thoughts

Yesterday, the yoga instructor challenged each of us to write something positive about ourselves every day this week and stick it on our fridge or mirror.
Why is that tougher than it should be?
Here's my thought for yesterday - I'm a very loving mom. I think my boys are wonderful and I enjoy being a Mom more than I thought possible.
Today I'm struggling. I finally decided to go with - I'm a service-oriented person, I usually put other's needs before mine and look for ways to help.

What about you? Care to share something positive about yourself? It can be physical, mental, intellectual, spiritual. I'd love to hear what you love about you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Have you ever been on a diet?
I constantly preach against fad diets, but I'm as guilty of anyone of "going on a diet" when I need to lose a few pounds. The sad thing about diets (besides how miserable they are) is that 95% of people put the weight they lose back on. Not great odds. It's just too hard to maintain a diet and it also messes with your metabolism. Best just to stick with good old healthy eating and effective exercise to stay at a good weight for life.
How about you? What's the craziest diet you've been on? When you've lost weight dieting have you kept it off?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Good posture not only helps you look ten pounds lighter it's also been proven to make you more confident and successful. I've noticed how poor my posture is lately, holding cute baby all day and never standing up straight. A few tips to help:
Strengthen the upper back with seated rows, bent-over rows, and reverse flies
Stretch the chest - I like putting both hands on a door frame and then leaning through the door with the chest
Push your tongue against the spot where the roof of your mouth and the back of your upper teeth meet, it will automatically straighten you up
Tilt your pelvis and tuck in those abs - this will also help train your abs to stay flat, works better than crunches and is much easier (if I can just remember)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Starting Over

Don't you love crisp autumn air? There's a feeling of starting fresh, becoming organized, finishing up those projects it was too hot to do all summer, eating homegrown produce, getting on a schedule, and hopefully fitting an exercise routine into that schedule.

As most of you know I had a baby last month. Being on a schedule is still a bit out of reach for me, but once I hit that six week postpartum mark it's time to at least attempt some semblance of organization, revisit my former life and hopefully someday fit in those old jeans (it is horrid to still be wearing maternity clothes after the baby is born).

But getting back into an exercise routine is not easy. I've been shocked by how painful it is. When you're in shape and exercise vigorously it hurts but it's a productive, feel-good kind of hurt. When you're out of shape and/or recovering from injury or pregnancy this exercise-induced hurt is a miserable, I want to sit down on the side of the road, have a good cry, then call my husband to come get me kind of hurt. I keep promising myself and I want to promise any of you who are just starting out that it will get easier. Someday it will feel good to push myself again. But how to get to that point?

Motivation - First of all we need the motivation. That part seems easy to me. I'm very motivated to lose the pregnancy weight, to fit into my clothes again, to feel good, to be healthy for myself and my children (most especially my baby who gets all his nutrients from Mom right now). There are plenty of reasons or motivators to get into shape and eat healthy, but if you're like me I'm gungho in the morning but by mid-afternoon I'm justifying why I need some ice cream or dark chocolate (dairy in the ice cream and mono-unsaturated fat in the dark chocolate, how can you turn down health food like that?). In my case the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). So how do we keep that motivation strong in our minds and get through the tough times when exercise hurts or we don't have time to fit it in or we really, really need a slice of chocolate pound cake?

Day by day - take it one day at a time. Every morning I tell myself that this is a new start, a new chance to be healthy. Don't start telling yourself that you'll never eat chocolate again, the depression will overwhelm you and if you're like me you'll go on a chocolate binge. Focus on the healthy choices you're going to make today, worry about tomorrow later.

Promises - I make promises to myself. If I workout four days a week I get to sit down on Friday afternoon and read a good book (if I can talk the boys into it). If I hit my water goal every day I can get a specialty lemonade on my Saturday night date. If I eat five fruits and veggies each day I can have a treat (because if I say absolutely no treats the entire family suffers).

Deals - Another thing that really helps me is to make deals with other people. Promise your friend that you'll meet at the gym or go on a walk each morning, if one of you flakes you have to take your friend to lunch or she has to babysit your toddler for a few hours. Husbands work great for deals. When I hit my "normal" weight my husband has money set aside for me to go shopping for new clothes. (Now if I could just figure out where he hid it. )

Help - Turn to the source who cares about you in all aspects of your life. It's not wrong to pray for help and strength to be healthy. The Lord wants us to take care of ourselves and feel good, doing so means we can serve and love others more.

I hope we can all enjoy starting fresh this beautiful time of year and use some positive motivation to improve our health in some way.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Will this pregnancy ever end?

Sorry, friends. I've been neglectful with my blogging. I'm huge, miserable, and ornery. I've got a week and a half until my due date and we're doing everything to get this baby here. The other night I sat on an exercise ball to try and make the baby descend. When I got off my back seized up and I had to crawl to the bathtub!
But the baby's growing great, I love feeling her (or him) move, and we're thrilled to be almost there.
I hope you're all having a wonderful, healthy summer. Someday soon I'll have some brain power return, be able to write fitness articles, and get excited about being fit again.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Exercise Through the Hard Times

I usually enjoy exercise. I love pushing myself through a hard workout. I love getting sweaty and having a reason to shower. I love knowing that my muscles are strong and I can keep up with my wild boys.

At my current state, I consider vacuuming a challenging cardiovascular exercise. How did I regress from running marathons to absolute slothfulness? I decided I needed another angel in my life and am expecting my fourth baby in August.

There are times in all of our lives that fitness has to take a backseat – sickness of a child, taking care of an elderly parent, overload at work, a new baby. I’m sure you all have a list of your own. The ironic thing is at these times we need exercise more than ever. Why?

  • Exercise decreases stress by increasing your health and overall sense of well-being.
  • Exercise is meditation in motion – you can forget some stresses as you exercise and often be able to focus better on the problem later. I also find that solutions come to me as I’m out on a run or bike ride.
  • Exercise increases the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Anything that gets you moving quickly can give you that “runner’s-high.” I often get sluggish and tired in the afternoon, but if I go on a short walk or dance with my kids I feel much better and can usually avoid crashing on the couch. (I said usually, sometimes the nap is a necessity!)
  • Exercise improves your mood – Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety.
  • Exercise helps you to sleep better – people who exercise have lower cases of insomnia and sleep is improved because you experience smoother transitions between sleep cycles and you stay in the stage four (deepest sleep) cycle longer.

But what do you do when life is on overload and you barely have energy to get dressed each day? I suggest you employ the normal tricks to help you fit in fitness:

  • Make a workout date with yourself on your calendar.
  • Lay your exercise clothes out the night before. (I always feel so guilty when I have to put them away clean.)
  • Place the alarm clock across the room so you have to get up.
  • Find an exercise buddy who motivates you.
  • If possible ride a bike or walk instead of driving.
  • Chores count too – yard work, housework, cleaning the car, anything that gets you moving will burn calories and help you feel better (guess I shouldn’t joke about vacuuming being exercise).
  • Park at the end of the parking lot and take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Sign up for an exercise class or a triathlon to get yourself motivated (If I pay for something I’m guaranteed to do it because I hate to waste money).
  • Do little spurts of exercise – dancing with your children, lifting weights while you watch television, walking or doing calf raises while you talk on the phone. Every little bit counts and a few minutes here and there can add up to great results.

Use all of these tricks and any others that work for you, but also realize that you are going through a hard or busy time and give yourself a break. If you don’t get to the gym on a morning you promised yourself to go, remind yourself that you probably needed sleep or some snuggle time with your child. Don’t beat yourself up. Focus on the positive and recommit to getting out of bed tomorrow.

Yes, I can barely waddle around the block, but soon I’ll have a gorgeous baby. The prize is well worth the pain. Every one of us is going to go through trials (many worse than the discomforts of pregnancy). If we focus on the positive, try to take care of our health, and rely on the Lord we can use these hard times to make ourselves a better person, we can come out smiling on the other side.

(i) Exercise: Rev up your routine to reduce stress by Mayo Clinic Staff

(ii) How does exercise improve sleep by Scott White

(iii) How to fit exercise into your busy schedule by Ehow Staff Writer

Thursday, May 27, 2010

7 Things You Should Never Share

Found an article on about 7 Surprising Things You Should Never Share. Good stuff to know. I have no qualms about sharing my keyboard, nail clippers, and hairbrush with my family or anyone else who may need them. Maybe I'd better be more careful!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Feeling Huge

This pregnancy has really done a number on my self-esteem. Even though I'm trying to strength train and do cardio I'm gaining a lot of weight, my muscles have all gone to squish, and I have cellulite on the front of my thighs (we're not even looking at the back anymore). Have you ever seen cellulite on the front of someone's thighs? Disgusting.
I know I'm growing an angelic baby and I am thrilled about that.
How do all of you keep things in perspective when you're expecting, hormonal, aching, and wondering if a second bowl of ice cream isn't a fabulous idea?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sunshine Award

My sweet friend, Vicki, at Reading at the Beach, gave me The Sunshine Award. Cute, huh?

This award is passed on to those bloggers that inspire others and show positivity and creativity, so I picked blogs that I enjoy visiting and inspire me.

The rules for accepting the award are:
This is what I've done and the nominees should do the same if they choose to:
1) Put the logo within my blog or on my post
2) Pass the award onto 12 fellow bloggers
3) Link the nominees within my post
4) Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
5) Share the love and link to the person whom you received this award from.

Here are my nominees (there are definitely more than twelve worthy blogs out there, but I'm running short on preschool-no-guilt time).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sugar = Poison?

The past couple of days I've consumed an entire piece of The Cheescake Factory's Black-out Cake. If you've ever seen one of these slices, you'll understand why I'm disgusted with myself. They're bigger than a dinner plate and richer than Ghirardelli chocolate. Yesterday I seriously could not move out of my chair. I was so weak and sick it terrified me. I started wondering if it was the sugar overdose. I did some research online and found everything from cautions to too much sugar during pregnancy because of gestational diabetes to an article that basically equated the effect of sugar on a fetus to be as awful as alcohol, cigarettes, or caffeine.

Oh, the guilt!

The hard thing is there isn't a lot of solid research out there, but I guess I understand that. None of us would want to be the guinea pig to see what hurt our baby or not.

So I've decided to be careful about excess sugar for the next few weeks and see if I feel better. I'm not giving up jam on my toast but I did hide the rest of the Black-out Cake in the outside freezer!

Any advice? Have any of you noticed an adverse effect from sugar on you or your children? I definitely feel gross if I eat too much and I think my children get whinier, but I've really never equated sugar with poison as some of the articles I read suggested.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lessons Learned from The Biggest Loser

Many of you know that I don’t enjoy television and have a hard time allowing my children to watch the tube. Of course, my husband comes to their rescue, recording Discovery Channel shows like Cake Boss and Dirty Jobs in an attempt to keep his children “normal.” My husband also forces me to watch at least one or two episodes per season of The Biggest Loser.

I have to admit it is an hour well spent (he’s an expert with the remote control and can condense any two-hour segment into an hour - it’s an impressive talent). The Biggest Loser is inspiring. It is amazing to watch those men and women put mind over body, losing weight by pushing themselves harder than most of us can comprehend. It is touching to see them changing their bodies and their lives.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned from my brief exposure to The Biggest Loser:

  1. It is okay to kick your own butt. As an exercise scientist I always worry about pushing a client too hard, making them too sore, inducing an injury. I am always and will continue to be very careful about the types of exercise I do or recommend because some exercises are just begging for an injury. That said, it is wonderful to experience some soreness the day after a great weight lifting session. It is extremely effective to do intense cardio and intervals. Most of us realize that you aren’t going to see results without pushing hard. The Biggest Loser has proven that you can see amazing results by going hard and not quitting when it hurts (in a good way).
  2. When we see the contestants on The Biggest Loser shedding multiple pounds a week, we think we should be able to do that too. Don’t. A pound or two lost a week is a manageable goal and a lot healthier in the long term. The Biggest Loser contestants not only have amazing personal trainers, but a physician monitoring them, personal chefs, and I’m betting on trained rehabilitation specialists to minimize injury and maximize recovery. Many people turn to crazy crash diets, pills, or surgeries to help them lose weight quickly. Good old diet and exercise are always the best plan. In some extreme cases, surgery may be necessary or a physician-recommended medication or an extreme diet while working with a qualified dietitian. But for most of us the basics of eating healthy, whole foods in small servings and strength training to increase metabolism and improve appearance and cardiovascular exercises for heart and lung health and to burn extra calories are really the best way to go. Most of the time extreme weight loss is put back on as quickly as it came off.
  3. It is a far better plan to stay in shape and eat healthy rather than let yourself go and have to fight back to your ideal weight. We all have times in our lives when we pack on some extra poundage, but if we can get back on track as soon as possible it really will prevent many health problems and avoid the horrible yo-yo’s of crash dieting.
  4. Believe in yourself. When contestants from The Biggest Loser return home most of them have been able to keep off the weight because of a good support system, but some of them have not. A supportive group of friends and family will make weight loss much easier, but you have to believe in yourself first. You have to be healthy because you want to be. Not because your spouse or parent is nagging you to be. Take care of yourself because you care for yourself and because you care for your loved ones and want to be healthy and strong for them.
  5. Never give up. Feeling good about yourself and being healthy are worth the struggle. Obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong struggle for most of us. Sometimes it’s a miserable fight, but when you look at the rewards of feeling great and being there for your family – it’s a fight worth fighting. Good luck in the battle!

Cami Checketts is an author, exercise scientist, wife, and mother to three and three-quarters children. Her latest novel, The Sister Pact, is in stores now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sleep Deprived?

Lately I consider sleep a luxury. I'm sure my sleep isn't going to improve when the bambino arrives. Sleep is too important to miss out on. Not enough sleep can effect your mental abilities, your mood, your ability to lose weight, and much more. I found a great article in Prevention Magazine on how to improve your sleep.

  • Soak up the sun - an early morning walk will prevent low energy later in the day.
  • Reenergize with exercise - It will help you sleep better and energize you.
  • Take a nap - right after lunch is best, either less than twenty minutes or 60-90 minutes to avoid waking up from deep sleep.
  • Work on something interesting - Guess I can't fold that pile of laundry, again.
  • Eat for stamina - small meals or snacks with complex carbs, protein, and a small amount of healthy fat.
  • When in dire need, reach for some caffeine. I'm not much of a caffeine fan, but a Diet Coke once in a while is truly a necessity!

I believe that a short yoga or stretching session right before bed really helps me sleep. I try to avoid working on my computer late at night as screen time too close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep. So read a good book instead or soak in a tub with some lavender oil. That sounds nice, maybe I'll soak in the tub and read a good book right now.

"5 Surprising Signs You're Sleep Deprived" by Kaitlin Bell, Prevention Magazine, March 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

No TV and No Treats

We made it through our Multi-Media Fast for a Week. I have to be honest - I struggled the most. By Wednesday I was fighting some serious depression, worried about what e-mails I was missing. Sure every one of my blogger friends was going to drop me because of neglect. But I made it through and it was very good for our family. I cooked a lot more, spent a lot more time with my adorable boys, and read a couple of fabulous novels (I'll post the reviews later this week, Kathi Macias and Rachel Ann Nunes latest).
It was a great break, I would highly recommend trying it for a week (but make sure it's good weather).
You all remember that I pledged to not buy treats during the month of April and instead donate the money to charity? That isn't going quite as well as our No-TV pledge. It was my Stockton boy's b-day so I bought ice cream. The problem was I bought ice cream on Wednesday, by Friday it was gone, so Saturday I had to buy two more gallons for Sunday's b-day party. Sheila said I could just pay double, my contribution to charity is going to be huge!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

No TV for a week?

Next week is No-TV Week for my sons' schools. We decided we're giving up all multi-media. I'm turning off my computer for an entire week. Oh, my. Hope I survive.

I've got a whole list of the fun things we're going to do as a family. Check it out here.

Getting children active is such a huge issue with today's childhood obesity and other health scares related to a sedentary lifestyle. We love and protect our children from so many things, I hope we can protect them from health issues by increasing their activity and offering healthy foods.

I'll let you know how it goes next week!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Health Tips for Moms

Frank Martin shared this great list with me - 100 Health Hacks Every Mother Should Know.
Some great stuff on the list.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Push Past Your Limits

I enjoy interval workouts because I am pushing my body to the limits and burning maximum calories during and after the workout. Do I really enjoy running until I can’t breathe and sometimes feeling as if I’m going to pass out? Not during the moment, but I love that I can conquer over myself, push my physical body when it doesn’t want to go one more step.

Isn’t that a little like life? We’ve come to this earth to prove that we can conquer over the physical body. That we can choose things of the most importance over things that may be easy or even seem more desirable at the time. It’s not always easy, but it sure does feel good to know that we’re stronger than the forces who would drag us away from true happiness now and our eternal destiny in years to come.

So if you want to succeed in being fit and healthy – push yourself harder than is comfortable (within reason, of course, no injuries please).

If you want to succeed in life – push yourself past your comfort level and deny yourself of things that won’t help you meet your goals for this life or for the next.

It may be hard, but it will definitely be worth it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Giving up Treats

I'm giving up the purchasing of treats for the month of April and donating the money I save to charity. Am I nuts? Read about the challenge here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Good Posture

My husband told me at Cross-Fit they had him doing hundreds of pushups. I screamed, "Don't do it! I don't care if you lose the competition."

Why is this so scary?

Pushups works the pectoralis major and minor (chest) and anterior deltoids (front of shoulders). Doing excessive pushups (or any chest exercise) will strengthen those muscles to the point that they will overpower the back muscles - which are usually weak because we spend so much of our day slouching over a computer, leaning over cleaning, or holding a cute little one.

If you want to have good posture you need to strengthen your core with a balanced approach. A little bit of work on the chest is okay, but make sure you offset it with upper back exercises. Also, make sure to stretch your chest whenever you have a chance.

My favorite chest stretch - go to a corner or a door frame, place hands a little more than shoulder-width apart, lean forward until you feel the stretch in your chest, hold for thirty seconds.

Another key of good posture is strong abs and lower back. Make sure you hold your abs in tight throughout the day and whenever you get the chance press your tongue in the spot where the back of your upper teeth and the roof of your mouth meet. If you press hard enough it will straighten you up every time.

So remember - strengthen back, stretch chest, especially if you are a mom or have issues with posture already.

My favorite back exercise you can do anywhere - stand up straight, extend arms out to the side, level with shoulders, fingers pointing towards ceiling, contract upper back muscles, slowly bring arms in front of you while keeping back contracted, as soon as you lose the contraction go back to start position. Repeat three-four times a day.

Good posture will make you look ten pounds lighter and much more confident.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Yoga to lose weight

When I'm pregnant yoga is the only thing that helps me sleep at night. It may be all in my head, but if I don't fit in 10-15 minutes of yoga each night I might as well count on not sleeping.
It's also been proven that yoga can help you eat more mindfully and lose pounds.
Check out Yoga Finder for a class near you or try a fun DVD: Shiva Rea Flow Yoga or Rodney Yee's Yoga.
Please share your favorite yoga moves or a DVD that you love. My favorite yoga pose used to be the Child's Pose, but now I can't breathe in that position, so I'm going with the Warrior Pose.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A break from running

Last Wednesday I ran 3 1/2 miles, at a decent pace for a pregnant lady, then I walked 3 miles. I received three phone calls that day telling me to slow down and two friends at the gym said the same thing. I complained to my husband that night. His response, "These people all care about you. Maybe you should pray about it." I did and the answer humbled me, "This baby is a miracle. How dare you jeopardize that?" I'm done running. I'll keep exercising, but force myself to keep it under control.

Have you ever had a time in your life when you were forced to slow down? How did you deal with it?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Love Your Body - Review and Book Giveaway

It's such an honor for me to review Brooke Parker's book, Love Your Body. Brooke is a registered dietitian, but as I read this book she spoke to me like a food psychiatrist bringing up many issues I have struggled with for years and helping me to find positive solutions to them.

I loved this book. Brooke has a fabulous attitude and it shines through as you read the book and do the exercises. I believe every woman should read this book, it will change your life for the better.

Win your free copy:

We will be giving away 5 copies of Love Your Body: A Diet-Free Approach to Balanced Eating as part of the online book book tour. The contest will close on March 5th at midnight, MST.

Entering the contest is easy--all you have to do is blog, tweet, follow, or comment about the book or blog review then fill out the form here.

1. Become a follower of our reviewers blogs. You can follow one of our reviewers or you can follow all of them. Remember that each blog you follow gives you another chance to win, so why wouldn't you choose to follow them all? But what if you are already following them you ask? Well lucky you because you get an entry for that too.

2. Post a comment on the reviews. (Sorry, you'll have to post it on my book blog, but I wanted to share this great book and giveaway with all my bloggers.)

3. Blog about the contest or one of the reviews. Spread the word. Just remember that the blog post either needs to link to the contest or to one of the reviews.

4. Tweet about the contest or one (or all) of the reviews. Yep, 144 characters or less is all it takes to enter.

5. Follow us on twitter. Maybe you use twitter, maybe you don't. But if you do, you should follow us.

6. Post about the contest on Facebook.

7. Become a fan of Love Your Body on facebook.Brooke is constantly updating her fanpage with articles, recipes, and helpful hints.

8. Anything else you can think of that will spread the word. If you mention it on goodreads, shelfari, google buzz, or any other social media site, or make it your status on gmail chat, MSN or yahoo messenger let us know. We want to reward your creativity with an entry.

Here's that nifty little form again that you need to fill out to be entered,here

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Metabolism – How to Kick It in Gear

Rev up your metabolism to lose weight – the idea is on the cover of most magazines and the talk of the fitness industry. But what is metabolism and is it possible to increase it?

Metabolism is basically how your body burns calories. Those blessed with a fast metabolism burn calories quickly and are able to keep weight off more easily. Metabolism is based on many factors – age, gender, genetics, weight, and muscle mass, to name a few. Of course we can’t do much about our family history, age, or gender, but there are tricks to increase your metabolism that will make you a more efficient calorie burner and help you stay thin and fit without as much effort.

1. Lift weights - Every pound of muscle burns 35 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns just 2 calories per day. Increase the size of your weights to burn more - When lifting identical volumes (such as 10 pounds 10 times or 20 pounds 5 times) those using heavier dumbbells burn about 25 percent more calories. Many women are afraid of lifting heavy weights, but it is impossible to bulk up without testosterone. Use a weight that is challenging to you, but won’t cause injury. You’ll lose weight and increase muscle tone much faster.

2. Drink plenty of water - if you're dehydrated you will burn fewer calories throughout the day. To burn an extra ten calories a day, make sure your water is icy cold. Ten calories may not seem like much, but it adds up to a pound lost a year.

3. Eat more often. It may sound crazy to those trying to lose weight by restricting their daily caloric intake, but the problem with this old school of thought, explains Michigan dietician Julie Beyer, is that it actually slows metabolism. Recent studies show that eating smaller meals every three to four hours aids metabolism and weight loss. "When you put too many hours between meals, your metabolism actually slows down to compensate. If you then eat a huge meal - at the same time your metabolism is functioning as if you're starving - your body wants to hold on to every calorie.” Molly Kimball, RD.

4. Move more all day. You can burn up to 350 extra calories daily - enough to shed more than 35 pounds this year - simply by pacing while you talk on the phone, getting up to talk to someone rather than e-mailing, and walking rather than driving for short errands.” James Levine, MD, PhD.

5. Dieting will drop your metabolism - as you lose weight there is less of you to maintain so your resting metabolic rate drops. The solution: eat consistent small meals and lift weights. Increase your muscle density and your metabolism will keep on kicking so you can keep on losing.

6. At least once a week have a long cardio day. Exercising for sixty minutes could burn five times as many calories post-workout than thirty minutes.

7. Eat breakfast. People who eat breakfast weigh less than those who don’t. Also, add more protein - it's harder for your body to process, you can burn twice as many calories digesting protein as carbs.

8. Avoid stress. “Stress can actually cause weight gain, particularly around the tummy,” says Shari Lieberman author of Dare to Lose. Stress increases cortisol which slows metabolism.

9. Include interval training two to three days a week. High intensity exercise burns more calories during and after exercise. Some studies have shown women who did a twenty-minute interval workout lost five times as much weight as those who did a forty-minute steady-paced workout. Sorry friends. I know the interval workouts are tough, but they are worth the pain.

10. Sleep. Oh, I like this one. “Research shows that people who don’t sleep for seven to eight hours a night are more prone to weight gain. Additionally, we now know that lean muscle is regenerated in the final couple of hours of sleep each night.” Julie Beyer, RD

Cami Checketts is a wife, mother, exercise scientist, and author. Her third book, The Sister Pact, is in stores now.


“The Ultimate Over-40 Fat Fighter!” by Selene Yeager - Prevention Magazine
“Boosting Metabolism: 10 Tips That Work” by Susan Woodward for MSN Health & Fitness

“Make the Most of Your Metabolism” by Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature -

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Setting Achievable Goals

How are those New Year’s Resolutions treating you? Are you irritable without your chocolate? Or sick of getting out of bed early to drag yourself to the gym?

If you’re like me I’m on fire about my lengthy list of goals and then a couple of weeks into the year I realize something – my list is too long and I’m miserable. I’ve finally discovered that it doesn’t work for me to make too many goals at once. I get overwhelmed and frustrated. I now make goals that will be with me for a lifetime, not just a quick fix to get me through the first weeks of January.

One goal a month:
I decide on one goal each month and write it on the top of my calendar. Then if I need to I break it into manageable goals for each day. For example, my goal might be: incorporate more interval training into my workouts. I break it down into: do intervals for my cardio workouts on Monday and Thursday. Then I write on my calendar each Monday and Thursday so I won’t forget. Or my goal may be to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. Again, I use my calendar, but this time I make a little slash mark for each eight ounce glass I drink. Another goal I’ve made is to play (and actually be fun) for at least an hour with my youngest son each day. Again, the goal is already spelled out for me I just make a check mark on the calendar when I accomplish it.

There’s something about writing that goal on the top of my calendar. I look at the calendar often so I can’t forget about or neglect my goal. If you’re not a calendar person, you could place your goal on the mirror or fridge or maybe put it as a reminder each day in your cell phone. Since my cell phone is often lost or dead, this wouldn’t work for me, but you need to find what is most effective for you.

A habit is formed in 21 days. That’s what makes a month-long goal so perfect. If you can make it a month, you will have turned your great goal into a fabulous habit. Then next month you can make a new goal and keep progressing. When I am feeling really ambitious I will set goals in a few different areas. A physical goal: more strength training or at least 5-6 veggies and fruits each day. A spiritual goal: study my scriptures each night or do one act of service each day. A mental goal: add 1000 words to my work in progress each weekday or update my blog three times each week. But this is only when I’m feeling really ambitious and the rest of my life is pretty settled (boys aren’t involved in too many activities, husband’s not ward mission leader, I’m not expecting a baby). Most of the time I am thrilled with one goal a month and that is plenty to work on.

Think about the type of goals you’re setting. As you’ve probably noticed from my examples, my goals are all things that I can accomplish. They are not something vague like: Hit the NYT bestseller list with my next novel or lose twenty pounds for my class reunion this summer. Those might seem like powerful and motivating goals, but they may be out of our control. All I can do is write the best novel I am capable of and work night and day to promote said novel. Even if I eat perfectly and exercise diligently, I may lose fifteen pounds but not twenty. Am I then a failure?

I get annoyed when women come to me wanting me to help them lose weight for an event. Weight is not a great indicator of health and quick weight loss rarely lasts. What I think most of us really want is: to look good, to feel healthy, to be strong and active and enjoy loved ones. Do people really walk up to you and ask how much you weigh? Can you imagine? People do notice how you look. But they really notice how you carry yourself with confidence, the smile on your face, and the spirit you have about you.

Set goals that will make be you your best you. Set goals that you can achieve. Here’s my latest: Smile all day long even when I feel like screaming. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Cami Checketts is an author and exercise scientist. She and her husband are expecting their fourth, he’s praying for another boy. Her latest book, The Sister Pact, is in stores now.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Drink More Water

A new study found that drinking 16 ounces of water before each meal increased weight loss by 44%. Pretty interesting stuff. Read the study here.
I always have a glass of water on my counter and water bottles in my car and stroller.
How do you fit more water into your day?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What do you love about your body?

I need some help, my friends. I'm speaking at a women's conference on Saturday and need to do a quick poll. So please share - What do you love (or at least like) about your body?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tips from my man

In preparation for a large speaking engagement, I asked my husband what his advice would be to women. He said three things that I have really taken to heart.

#1 - There is no perfect woman. Every man out there has a different ideal of what is perfect. Stop trying to be perfect. Just be your best you.

#2 - Have good posture. Throw your shoulders back and even if you aren't confident, pretend you are. A confident woman is beautiful.

#3 - Put a smile on your face. A smile transforms. It's very hard to resist a smile. Try a smile on, you'll be amazed how it will change not only people's reactions to you, but how you feel inside.

So there you go, straight from the man's mouth.

Please share any tips that have helped you.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Can fat hinder your strength?

Does your diet really affect your workout?

"Canadian researchers found that when you regularly eat high-fat foods, the excess fat is stored within the muscles, slowing their fat-burning ability." (i)

"It's like carrying a backpack with 33% of your weight in it, but your muscles can't compensate for the extra work," Thomas Hawke, PhD, associate professor at McMaster University

So basically the more fat you consume the more you hinder your ability to burn that fat, even if you're exercising vigorously. Makes you think before gobbling that next Big Mac.

(i) "Wake Up Your Workout" Prevention, February 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Think Your Way Fit

Can imagining yourself exercising actually produce results?

According to a Cleveland Clinic Study it can. For 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, volunteers imagined exercising certain muscles as vigorously as they could. They strengthened those muscles by 15 percent. (i)

Isn't that amazing? Now I'm not saying you shouldn't do your regular workout, but this could be a good supplement. Next time you're running errands or waiting at the doctor's office, imagine up an intense workout. It could help.

(i) "Think about Exercising" Parenting Magazine, page 22, February 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Love Your Body by Brooke Parker

Brooke Parker has written an amazing book on becoming the best you and feeling good about yourself. Win your free copy of Love Your Body
If you're struggling with body image issues or just want some great tips from an amazing dietitian and motivational speaker, this book will make a difference in your life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sleep (Or the lack thereof)

Lately I'd rather stay in bed than go to the gym. Maybe not the smartest weight loss move, but if you're lacking on sleep you could be hurting yourself in more ways than being irritable.

You should sleep 7 to 9 hours a night. Here are the benefits if you do:

Fewer colds - rest improves immunity, too little impairs it.

Lower number on the scale - People who slept 7-9 hours had an average BMI of 24.8, almost 2 points lower than those who slept less.

Lower risk of heart disease and diabetes - those who slept less than 5 hours per night had a 500 times greater risk of high blood pressure and were 3 times likelier to have diabetes.

So don't skip your workout to sleep, but do go to bed at a decent time (easy to do with small children, haha), dim the lights before bedtime, avoid the TV and computer before bedtime, and try some yoga or meditation to help you sleep more deeply.

Now if I could just figure out how to keep my boys from interrupting my night's sleep, maybe I could make it to the gym!

"Sleep! It's Non-Negotiable," Prevention Magazine, February 2010,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Don't be afraid of hard work

"The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary." Vince Lombardi

If one of your goal's this year is to lose weight or accomplish something else that is difficult and monumental, I have some advice. Work hard. Mediocre people can accomplish amazing things through hard work. Whatever your dreams or goals you can make them happen if you map out your plan and stick to it.

Often when I want to lose weight I tell myself I can do it, that's it going to be easy because I'm so motivated. But then I lose sight of that motivation and I get depressed and think, "Why am I doing this to myself?" But the truth is, it is not easy to lose weight or accomplish any other worthwhile goal.

Here's my tips for effective weight loss tools that are hard work but will make a difference for life.

1 - Push yourself with cardio - intervals (speeding up and slowing down) burn the highest number of calories. They are also one of the hardest things you can do. But honestly if you're just going through the motions on the elliptical day after day and aren't pushing yourself you're not going to see results.

2 - Variety - Your body gets used to the same cardio, weight-lifting routine, etc. very quickly. Change what you're doing and you'll get past that plateau.

3 - Lift heavier weights. It's been proven time and again that lifting light weights and performing numerous repetitions is ineffective. If you want to see results you have to lift a weight that challenges your muscle within 8-12 reps. Don't worry, you won't bulk up.

4 - Lift slower on the eccentric or lowering phase. Slow down as you lower the weight or lower your body into a squat. The eccentric phase is when you build strength without increasing size which also increases your metabolism.

5 - Don't starve yourself, but do be accountable for what you're eating. Write down what you eat. Focus on veggies, lean proteins, high-fiber carbs, low-fat dairy, fruit for a treat, and loads of water.

6 - Set one goal a month. Make a healthy change into a habit before moving onto another healthy fix. I write a goal a month on my calendar, then when I turn to a new month I'm excited to focus on my new goal.

Good luck with all your goals and keep up the hard work,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Weight Gain

I had my first doctor's appointment yesterday and I haven't gained any weight yet. Happy day! I know I shouldn't have gained any weight at ten weeks along, but the only time I feel good is when I eat. So I'm eating far too often! Luckily, I can't eat sugar (makes me more sick) so at least I've eliminated the chocolate and ice cream consumption.

Do any of you have a goal to lose weight this new year? Even though I always tell myself that the scale doesn't matter and the only important thing is how I feel and how I fit in my clothes I still monitor that darn number on the scale. It is good to know if you're getting too far away from your happy number. Luckily for me, the scale is completely unimportant this year (as long as I don't break 200 pounds, which I did with my second son).

My goals this year are:

#1 - Have a healthy baby

#2 - Enjoy my wild boys and sweetheart

#3 - Polish and submit two novels (before the baby comes)

#4 - Serve More

I'm so proud of myself for finally writing some goals down. I'd love to hear your goals.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Be a Leader

In spin class a few weeks ago I noticed if I sprinted with gusto, the other participants in the class would keep up. If I took it easy, they’d slow down as well. The funny thing about this? I’m not the teacher. I try to stay in the back row. There’s nothing wrong with using another person to help you push yourself, but why not be the leader yourself?

It's easy to say, well, I'm doing better than the lady lifting weights next to me, but that just degrades her and you. It's okay for someone else to be stronger than us. It's okay for us to have different goals. My challenge is for you to be the best you. Push yourself, improve yourself, and know that it doesn't matter what your neighbor is doing. It matters how you feel about yourself and what you're doing to reach your goals.

Every single body is different. I will never be a hundred pounds. That used to bother me. Now I love my tall, strong body. Please don't tear yourself down by comparing yourself to others and don't tear someone else down to feel better about yourself.

All you can be is your best you. Let's do that in 2010. Be the leader of your own life. Here's to all of you!