Category Archives: fitness goals

3 Easy Steps to Get Fit in 2014

1381532_648223808555104_266900310_nIf you have been anywhere around a TV set, a radio, or a computer, you have noticed the great abundance of “get fit now”. It is that time of the year again. The time when supplement companies and larger than though trainers are pushing their miracle cure all product on the unsuspecting consumers with low self-esteem. Do these products work? Some of them. Do they work safely and for a prolonged period of time? No.

We live in a society that is largely driven by instant gratification and impulse. No one wants to work to be fit, but everyone wants to have a fit body of a fitness model. After all, it is much easier to pop a pill and eat a pizza while watching football, than working out and eating clean. Does anyone think about the consequences of taking these drugs? Does anyone stop to ask why they work so quickly and so effectively? No. Why? Because blissful ignorance with a skinny fat body is significantly safer than a challenging and at times difficult reality in which one has to find information, process it, and work to get the results that they want. In short, half-baked approaches breed half-baked results and a lot of disappointed, misinformed consumers. So, what can you do to get lasting weight loss results? Read on.

What I have to say right now may not be what you want to hear, but I am not in the business of cuddling and propagating fitness myths. I am here to give you the hard truth and save you the time you’ll spend doing research on your own. Here’s the deal. Most “magic” weight loss pills, shakes, and powders are unsafe. If you have to order your food premade, you’ll gain all of your weight back after you stop eating “out of the box”. There is no such thing as getting “toned and fit” without changing your daily lives.

The only way to get true and lasting results is by keeping a clean and sustainable diet, maintaining a healthy attitude, and exercising daily.

Keeping a Clean and Sustainable Diet:

1238363_644675618909923_1184660794_nLet’s face it, if you drastically cut calories, completely cut out certain food groups or expect perfect rigid compliance to a dietary plan, you will eventually slip. In fact, when you slip you will binge, feel guilty, get down on yourself, and try to maintain the same diet with even more restrictions than before to make up for your pitfall. Does that sound like a healthy relationship with food? No. To me, that sounds more like an eating disorder and we all know that eating disorders are very unhealthy.

A sustainable diet should revolve around a lifestyle. When you decide to get in shape, you have to realize that you are on a journey and just like any journey, this one will have peaks and valleys. The secret to sustainable, healthy weight loss is realizing that a valley isn’t going to undo everything you worked for. So, if you make it a priority to eat healthy 90% of the time, that one piece of cake on your birthday, a plate full of delicious food on Thanksgiving, and a bowl of macaroni and cheese every other month aren’t going to send you on an express train to fat town.

A clean sustainable diet should involve all of the major food groups (unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from eating certain things) in moderation. Eating for weight loss is an art form that will take time to master fully, there is no diet that perfectly fits all, and there are no shortcuts. A clean, healthy diet with proper caloric intake (you can’t starve yourself!!!) takes time to develop and perfect.

I encourage you to do your research, look at various food plans, study strategic eating, and custom design your own eating plan. It will take time, but in the end you will be rewarded with energy, better health, and a lean, strong body.

Healthy Attitude:

quoteWe briefly touched on this subject in the previous section when we discussed a healthy relationship with food. You can’t punish yourself for slip-ups and deviations of off the plan, but you also have to hold yourself accountable for what you do in daily basis. Having a support group helps, but at the end of the day it is between you and your refrigerator, or between you and your bed.

You have to make a plan and stick to it regardless of what the world around you wants. If you know that what you are doing is right for you, then no one else has the right to keep you away from your goals and your dreams. Not even you. You have to push yourself every day. I wish I could tell you that it gets to a point where going to the gym or out on a run is automatic. No. I still have days when I question why I am up at 5 am on a cold winter morning. There are days when the last thing that I want to do is drive to the gym and lift a bunch of weights when the laundry is piled up, dinner needs to be cooked, and I still have a mound of paperwork to get through. However, I don’t make excuses. I put on my big girl pants, lace up my shoes, and I tell myself that it is better that way. I can say with full confidence,  I am yet to regret a workout that I did.

However, healthy attitude goes far beyond building a healthy relationship with food and regular, hard workouts. A healthy attitude also encompasses how you view the world. It is easy to be mad and sad about your circumstances, but when you make a decision to take control and change, you become empowered. Feeling strong and in control is what gets people in the gym initially, but most quickly get discouraged because the results didn’t come fast enough. Here’s the hard part: you have to remain positive and have faith in the fact that the results will come if you actually follow a program that you set for yourself. You have to force yourself to become an optimist on those days when you just want to quit because the pudgy feeling isn’t going away fast enough.

Again, I wish I could tell you that feeling discouraged goes away with time – it doesn’t. But if you keep at it long enough, you will learn that the voice inside your head that tells you “it’s not working”, “you don’t have the body for this”, “you are too old” etc. is a total liar. With time, you learn to ignore your own little critic and you learn that when the voice rears its ugly head, you are closer than you ever were before to achieving that one goal that you set for yourself.

Exercising Daily:

Khloe-Kardashian-Fitness-MotivationA good diet and a great attitude aren’t going to get you far without exercise. Consistent, challenging, daily exercise paired with a great diet is a sure recipe for a fabulous body. Now, let me clarify, I am not telling you to go out and do Zumba (although it is a fun way to initially lose some extra weight). The exercise that I am talking about involves 3-4 heavy weight training sessions and 3 cardio sessions a week. You can’t be a cardio queen and expect a toned body of a fitness model. You have to lift HEAVY weights. Let me say this right now: there is no way that you are going to end up looking like a she Hulk unless you are SPECIFICALLY working to attain that aesthetic. So, no, don’t tell me that lifting heavy turns women into men. It is a total myths that is propagated by men who are scared of strong women, women who are scared of hard work, and skinny fat models who would be out of a job if the rest of us woke up and realized that having the ability to pick up more than 5 lbs at a time makes you more attractive and gives you the lean, toned look you actually want. Yes, I’m talking to you ladies.

Gentlemen, I have to caution you against trying to show off. Heavy training means lifting the weight you can ACTUALLY lift with PROPER form. Allow me to elaborate: that means that you shouldn’t be squirming under a barbell during your bench press like a deranged worm because you loaded the bar too heavy. You are not a hero if you get hurt, so why set yourself up for failure? Take it easy, maintain proper tension throughout your exercises and watch your body bulge with awesome rippliness faster than the guy who has been trying to “out lift” you all alone and has been doing it wrong.

trustI don’t know about you, but for me, a fit strong body is a status symbol. You can’t buy it, you can pay someone to surgically make it. You have to invest the time, the sweat, the tears and the doubts to achieve it. There are challenges to achieving your perfect physique at any age and in any circumstance, so don’t discount the efforts of the younger crowd just because of their age or the older crowd just because of their experience. We all face different struggles, have different body types, and respond to different things better than others. Building a body you want takes time, it takes trial and error and you have to be willing to invest in your journey fully in order to rip the perfect results.

Lean and Strong is The New Skinny and Fragile!

streetart_amsterdam_break_the_stereotypeEarlier this week I was at the store and picked up Women’s Health Magazine. I was astonished by what was in it. First and foremost what blew my mind were advertisements of soft, none developed, skinny women. Second, headlines such as “Flat abs in 15 minutes!” and “healthy cocktails” all but had me up in arms. I bought the magazine just because I could get at least 6 blog posts out of it just on the subjects of  fitness and nutrition myths!

Ok, ok, I am better now, but let’s face it, how can we battle the obesity epidemic when women are being fed conflicting and, at times, damaging information? You will be surprised how many women out there go to Cosmo for advice on fitness and nutrition. I did have higher hopes for Women’s Health Magazine, though. After all, the word “health” is in the title. It was extremely disappointing to see hundreds of glossy pictures filled images of women that were so retouched, they looked disproportionate.  I am sure that I am not the only one that finds “skinny fat” absolutely unattractive.

When did we lose touch with a healthy look? Why are we still holding on to an almost Victorian notion of a weak, helpless, anemic woman? Why can’t a girl have muscles? Why are we, women, allowing the society to continually define us as weak? Ladies, remember, you have the capacity to bare children! That alone propels you to a category of strength and resilience. Yu don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, but wouldn’t it be nice if they were developed enough to hold it in case you did? Ladies, go to the gym and lift. Lean and strong is the new skinny and fragile!

Keep True to Your Goals While Traveling

Pensacola, FL

This weekend Lenny and I went to Pensacola, FL for his brothers wedding. I had every opportunity to make a bunch of excuses and toss my healthy eating and exercise to the wind.  I could have said: “It is just a few days, a vacation, I’ll get back on track when I get home!” But I didn’t, because this journey isn’t a quick fix for me, it is a life style and a commitment. That is not to say that I didn’t have a little cake (hey, my cheat day was planned into this vacation).

Eating clean and staying on track while traveling doesn’t have to be exhausting. There are a few things that you can do to minimize temptation and maintain all that effort you put into getting your body to where you want it to be.

Planning:

Planning is the most important part of staying on track. We plan our workouts, meals, vacations, work days, etc., why shouldn’t we set a travel eating plan? It makes sense, but I know a lot of people neglect it and end up running to a fast food place to grab “just a little bit” of something to hold them over before they get to their destination. There is a better way.

If you are traveling by car, pack a cooler with some veggies, nut butter, fruit, and nuts. You can also bring along some hard boiled eggs, just make sure that they don’t over heat or you’ll have a big problem on your hands.

If you are traveling by plane things can get a little tougher as you can’t bring food and drinks through the TSA. My suggestion is to do research before hand. Find out what your meal options are in the terminal and stick to the healthy varieties. You can always find some nuts, granola, or healthy food options around. Just make sure you read the nutrition labels.

Before you get to your destination, look for grocery stores around your hotel. Most hotels have a small fridge in their rooms so you can store some of the basic foods like protein shakes (the pre-made kind) and  some fruit to curb those late night cravings.

Make sure that you have a few workouts already planned. Some hotels will have a gym or at least a set of dumbbells for guest use. If you are staying somewhere with no gym access, plan a body weight workout. I recently found a knock of version of a TRX system at Wal-Mart for 40$ and it is a life saver! It packs up neatly, takes up only a tiny amount of space, and can go over any door. Seriously, if you are training hard and traveling a lot, this is a must have!


When you get there:

 Now that you have planned out your vacation it is time to enjoy it. You will likely go out to eat while you are vacationing. Here is a link to a helpful article that will help you eat clean when you go out. Make sure you drink plenty of water and most importantly use you vacation time to sleep and regenerate you body.

I hope you all have a great time vacationing this summer. Stay strong, keep on track, review your goals daily,  and believe in yourself. If you believe you can do it, there is no telling what you can achieve!

The Day I Said "No" To Fear

Today was my video interview at Revolution Fitness, the gym that I have been a member of for about 3 and a half years. I wish I wasn’t so camera shy and didn’t stutter as much as I did. I think I relayed all the information that I wanted to relay in a concise and laconic manner, but I do wish that I talked about my current trainer more. Since I don’t think that I gave her enough credit, I’d like to write a short bit about how she changed my life.

…and then those people become your friends 🙂

Since I met Nicki last July,  I have changed dramatically not only physically, but also spiritually. In part my change came from my inner desire to change and part of it was her contagiously positive attitude. Through my training with her I have learned the power of positive self talk, benefits of various exercises, and the necessity to truly believe in the goals that I set for myself. I have to say here, that I knew all of these things before, I heard these things before, I just needed to be ready to accept them.Whether it is through a specific method of delivery or just because I view her as a true inspiration, my eyes were opened and I saw myself for who I truly am– an ATHLETE.

I have to tell you a story about this woman’s dedication and passion for what she does. This is also a story of a defining moment in my training, the movement that I truly committed and became fearless.

At the beginning of September 2012 I was in a very dark and lonely place. I was lost in doubt, in self hatred, and a sea of overall negativity. That sunny, September day I had a rough workout, I was not feeling well, I had zero energy, and the only thing that I wanted to do was to stop feeling like I lost control of everything.

As I was walking up to the towel rack, feeling discouraged, clear as day I heard Anna’s voice in my head (Anna is my previous trainer and owner of Revolution Fitness who first introduced me to quality training) “Kseniya, I don’t understand what you are doing! Are you running a race or are you not running a race?” these words were said to months before in part out of concern and in part out frustration over my own frustration with the lack of my progress. Anna was right, I wasn’t committed, I was just talking about being committed. In that moment, it was clear to me, I have to stop talking and start doing. I had all the resources available to me: a wonderful trainer, a great gym, an awesome support system, there was nothing in my way!

When I got home that night, I signed up for my very first 5K race. I was very nervous hitting “submit” on the registration form, but I knew that if I didn’t hit that button, I’d be full of it again.  During my next training session, to cement my commitment, I told Nicki that I signed up for my very first 5K race. She looked at me and asked with a smile: “Really? Which one are you running, I’ll run with you!”I was in disbelief. Really? She is actually going to go and run a race with me? Me, a slow poke, who will probably throw up 5 minutes in? Wow! Why would anyone do that? (didn’t I tell you that I was really down on myself?)

Up to the time that I saw her at the number pick up table, that early Saturday morning, I don’t think I fully believed that there is a person willing to help me battle, what seemed like, a perpetual uphill struggle. The horn went of and immediately Nicki began pacing me, talking to me, walking me through this new race thing. She ran by my side the whole way, helped me stay out of my own head by calming me down when I freaked out about a side stitch, helped me fight the hills, and got me to the finish line with a better time then I expected. When I crossed the finish, I wanted to throw up. I think I even teared up a little from pure exhaustion. Nicki stayed by my side, made sure that I was ok, and talked to me the entire time. She was trying to take my mind of off feeling the discomfort of a hard race.  After that, we got bananas and walked back to our cars. I drove home in stunned disbelief because I just finished my first 5k in under 40 minutes and Nicki went for a long run with her friends (yes, 5K was just her warmup).

 I heard from other runners that you will never forget your first race. My race was made that much more memorable by my resolution to never again allow myself to go backwards or give up on myself. There was a person out there that believed in me more, at that time, than I believed in myself, which means that there is never a reason for me to doubt what I can do. You are your biggest fan and cheerleader, after all!

I don’t think that there will ever be enough words to describe the multitude of ways in which fitness and running impacted my life. I honestly don’t think that I would be here if I never crossed the threshold of Revolution Fitness and consequently I would have never met a person that I consider  a great friend and an amazing trainer.

Monthly Goals

I believe that the most important thing that we can do in order to contribute to the growth of our character is to set measurable, realistic goals for ourselves and hold ourselves accountable. Measurable goals allow us to avoid getting caught up in the insignificant and allow for a much clearer view of our paths, development, and growth.
At the beginning of every month I sit down with my note book and outline my goals for the upcoming 4 weeks. I divide my list in three categories: Personal Goals, Fitness Goals, and Business Goals.  
Personal Goals:

My “Personal Goals” category usually contains goals connected to “character” and “soul”. For instance, a few months ago when I was having a hard time keeping my head above water, my personal goals included the following:
Think of one great thing that distinguishes you from the rest of the world every morning.
Think of three things that happened today that you are grateful for at night.  
Simple things like that allowed me to more effectively deal with the challenges that I was facing and made me concentrate on the positive things that were going on in my life instead of the storm of difficulties that I was dealing with.
Fitness Goals:
I did not use to separate my Fitness Goals from my Personal Goals until I realized that I allowed my Fitness Goals to overtake my Personal Goals. So, I gave my Fitness Goals their own place to live and found that it kept me even more on track. During the last few months, my Fitness Goals included:
Eat less cheese (a little back story here, my goals for the year included eliminating all processed food from my diet. I pick a processed food every month, and try to break the habit of eating it)
Decrease my 5K time by 2 minutes
Increase my maximum squat weight by 10lbs
Setting Fitness Goals allows me to figure out what I am going to concentrate on during the next month and helps me plan my workouts. It also allows for a more measurable result at the end of the month when I do my self evaluation.
Business Goals:

 Just like Personal and Fitness this is a very important category for me that I know I need work in. Setting measurable monthly goals in this category can make a difference between toiling away to get a paycheck and living. These monthly, in-depth evaluations allow me to better prioritize during the upcoming month, keep me on top of my deadlines, and to make sure that I have a good foundation that will allow growth and development.
Of course just simply setting measurable monthly goals is not going to help you, unless you review them frequently. It is important to keep yourself on track and tuned in to your daily progress as well as the overall monthly, quarterly, and yearly progress. You should be realistic about setting your goals to prevent discouragement. If your goals are not evolving month to month, every quarter, or every year, then you are not setting measurable and realistic goals. Get to planning, people. It is going to be the best thing you ever do for yourself next to drinking plenty of water.