Category Archives: Fitness

20 Tips for a Healthy New Year

20 Tips for a Healthy New Year | www.sarahforgrave.com
If you’re like me, the holidays have gone way too fast and you’re fighting extra pounds and fledgling motivation. Good news! The New Year is right around the corner. Which means it’s time to refocus.

Here are 20 tips to get you back on track.

  1. Replace one processed food in your kitchen with a fruit or vegetable each week. Maybe you’ll start by chucking those Chips Ahoy and replace them with clementine oranges. When you crave a cookie, reach for an orange instead. By the end of the week, your taste buds will be trained to crave the fruit’s natural sugar rather than the cookie’s processed sugar (and all its health risks). Build on your progress and replace another processed food the next week. By the end of the year, your kitchen—and your taste buds—will be fully transformed!

  2. Shake up your exercise routine. Whether you’re already active or just getting off the couch, try something new this year. Maybe it means going to a fitness class you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe it means trying yoga at home. (Yoga Studio is an awesome app for this – available on iPhone.) If you don’t like it, try something new next week. There’s an appealing form of exercise for everyone, so don’t get discouraged if you haven’t found it yet. 20 Tips for a Healthy New Year | www.sarahforgrave.com

  3. Aim for zero calories in your cup. This means cutting out soda (even diet, if possible), juice, and other calorie-loaded drinks. Coffee is okay in moderation. Make water your go-to drink. Try fruit infusions in your water if you need some flavor. (Lemon and berries are my favorite!) If going from 4 cups of soda to zero is too daunting, start by eliminating one cup each week.

  4. Try essential oils. Research and testimonials are pointing to oils as an awesome, natural boost to your health. You can start at whatever level you want, starting with DoTerra’s Peppermint Beadlets (I’m personally addicted to these!) or going all the way up to diffusers in your home. Do your research online and find an essential oils guru to educate you. (Young Living is a good place to start.)20 Tips for a Healthy New Year | www.sarahforgrave.com

  5. Rethink how you snack. Avoid empty-calorie snacks that leave you craving more. Focus on fiber and protein combinations for long-lasting fuel. Try apple slices topped with crunchy peanut butter and raisins. Or whole wheat Wasa crisps topped with cheese. Or grape tomatoes and mozzarella cubes drizzled with olive oil and topped with basil. Be creative! Look in your fridge for foods that fit the fiber-protein combo and put them together. You may be surprised what you find.

  6. Take something off your calendar and spend time in quiet meditation. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our bodies is slow down. Research shows strong links between stress and weight gain. Stress is known to raise our cortisol levels, which makes our bodies cling to extra fat and crave extra food. See the problem here? Release yourself from the pressure to do it all. Take time to slow down and B_R_E_A_T_H_E.

  7. Eat a protein-filled breakfast. We all know the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, but how many of us actually do? Focus on getting protein to start your day off right. It not only fuels your body, but it helps you feel full longer. Strapped for time? Keep a jar of almond butter or peanut butter handy and grab a spoonful on your way out the door. Or cook hard-boiled eggs over the weekend and keep them in your fridge for an on-the-go breakfast. Whatever you do, don’t skip the most important meal of the day!20 Tips for a Healthy New Year | www.sarahforgrave.com

  8. Give yourself one cheat meal per week. Weekends can be a challenge, especially if your family likes to eat out. Let yourself enjoy an indulgent meal once in a while. Then get back on track the rest of the week.

  9. Download MyFitnessPal to your phone. MyFitnessPal is an awesome free app that allows you to set weight goals and track your progress. It calculates your daily calories and has a food database that is mind-blowing. You can also enter your exercise, and it will adjust your calorie needs for the day. There’s something highly motivating about entering your Zumba class and seeing you can eat 400 extra calories. Score!

  10. Designate one night per week as a “no-screen zone.” Use the time to go out and do something active with friends or family. In summer, go biking or hiking. In winter, go sledding or bowling or whatever else you can dream up. When you’re having fun with loved ones, it won’t feel like exercise!20 Tips for a Healthy New Year | www.sarahforgrave.com

  11. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier each night. Lack of sleep leads to all kinds of health pitfalls, including increased appetite, which leads to unhealthy food cravings. Instead of watching that extra TV show, do your body a favor and hit the sack a little earlier.

  12. Fill your fridge with the colors of the rainbow. As you shop at the store, challenge yourself to find at least one fruit or vegetable for every color of the rainbow. Red tomatoes, orange carrots, yellow pineapple, green lettuce, blueberries, purple grapes. The combinations are endless! Step outside your comfort zone and make your fridge a work of art.20 Tips for a Healthy New Year | www.sarahforgrave.com

  13. Write down your reasons for wanting better health. This might sound too touchy-feely for you, but there’s value in stating why you want something. It might be measurable like wanting to reach a certain weight for a class reunion, or it might be intangible like wanting more energy to play with your kids or grandkids. Putting your reasons on paper will make your goals more real and can provide inspiration on those days you feel like giving up.

  14. Move every day. Even if it’s 10 minutes going up and down your stairs or walking in place. Something is better than nothing.

  15. Give yourself non-food rewards. Set a specific goal (maybe fitting into a certain pair of jeans or a number of miles you want to walk or run). When you achieve it, treat yourself to a non-food reward – a massage or manicure or that new book you’ve been wanting to read. Once the treat is complete, set a new goal and a new reward.20 Tips for a Healthy New Year | www.sarahforgrave.com

  16. Keep a bowl of ready-to-eat healthy snacks in the middle of the table. Oranges, bananas, and pears are great options. The easier to grab, the more likely you are to eat it.

  17. Enlist the help of friends and family. Accountability does wonders. One of the best things I ever did was teach my 7-year-old about healthy food and what to watch for on food labels. For months afterward, he questioned everything I ate. If you have an elementary-aged child, let them be your food police. I guarantee they’ll take the job VERY seriously!

  18. Focus more on good choices than numbers on the scale. The scale can be a valuable barometer for your progress, but don’t get so caught up in the numbers that you forget the ultimate goal of a healthier life. Numbers can fluctuate for many reasons outside our control. Take responsibility for what you can control and trust the process.20 Tips for a Healthy New Year | www.sarahforgrave.com

  19. Decide right now to be in it for the long haul. Let this be the year you leave the short-term diets aside and make permanent changes you can stick with. When you feel overwhelmed or discouraged, remember you have a lifetime ahead of you. Pick one or two tips from this list to work on each week. Then once those actions become habits, build on them by adding something new. The most sustainable changes are the ones you can live with long-term.

  20. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL – Seek motivation beyond yourself. If you place your trust in God, involve Him in your health goals. Let your health journey be an opportunity to rely on Him more, to let Him give you the strength to do more than you could ask or imagine. If you haven’t read Lysa TerKeurst’s bestselling book, Made to Crave, start there. It will change your life, I promise.

If you ever need help on the journey, reach out to a friend or give me a shout. I’m on the quest just like you. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Translation: We’re better together!

Here’s to a happy, healthy new YOU!

Blessings,
Sarah

20 Tips for a Healthy New Year | www.sarahforgrave.com

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Quick-Hit Motivator Pics: The Biggest Loser

I don’t know how many of you watch The Biggest Loser on TV, but I’ve become hooked. I love seeing people work hard to be a healthier version of themselves.

One of the people I’ve most connected with this season is Kim. She’s a former professional wrestler who let herself go after an injury and having children.

This is exactly where I found myself a couple years ago. No, I wasn’t a professional wrestler. :) But I’ve always been conscientious about exercise and healthy living…until I had children and subsequent health issues. I love seeing Kim’s tenacity and joy as she reaches her goals because I’ve found the same joy in rediscovering my own health.

If you’re struggling to get motivated, no matter what your current weight is, take a look at Kim’s photos. It’s never too early or too late to take charge of your health.

Kim – Before

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Kim – After

You’ll have to go to The Biggest Loser website to see her After photo. It’s definitely worth a click!

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So let’s talk…Are you a fan of The Biggest Loser? Which contestant do you most relate to and why? If you don’t watch the show, what would you say is your current level of health motivation? What would inspire you to take that level up a notch?

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Exercise Options for the Busy Mom

Earlier this week I guest posted at Mumbling Mommy, sharing exercise options for the busy mom. Since it ties into my Friday theme of fitness, I decided to send you over there today.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

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Quick-Hit Motivator Pic: Fat Versus Muscle

Which would you rather have in your body?

And the beauty is the more muscle you build, the more fat your body burns. So get out there and start lifting those weights! :)

What are your workout plans this weekend? Any weight-lifting or toning in those plans?

*photo from curvesforum.com

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You Are a Miracle!

In order to read this post right now, you’ve gotten out of bed today (unless you’re sleep walking), you’ve clicked on your computer or phone and pulled up this page, and your eyes have focused enough to see what’s here.

Things that seem so ordinary…But the intricacy of those movements is nothing short of a miracle.

I’m currently studying to become a certified fitness instructor. (Anybody remember my bucket list post from several months ago? I’m one step closer to crossing one of them off…Woohoo!)

The thing that has struck me in my studies is how intricately we are made. The way God designed our bodies truly is miraculous and it’s something only HE could do. What creativity!

To showcase His handiwork, I thought I’d share a few facts (I figure some of you may have forgotten these since 10th grade biology like I did): :)

– The skeleton consists of 206 bones. Our bones work together with muscles and joints to allow movement. (Think of all the tiny joints and muscles that work together just so you can type a sentence.)
– Our body adapts to different forms of exertion, giving us the exact fuel we need for short bursts of energy or long stretches of exercise.
– The heart is a four-chambered organ that collects blood from the body, sends it to the lungs for oxygenation, then pumps it throughout the body.
– Water accounts for about 60% of our body weight, and it helps regulate our body temperatures and carry nutrients to cells.
– 60% of our muscle make-up is involuntary, meaning it adapts to the needs of the heart and aids in digestion and blood flow without us even thinking about it.

I don’t know about you, but these things remind me to thank my Creator. Whenever I criticize something about the way I’m designed, I’m criticizing HIM. And the miracle of this vessel He’s entrusted to me…I don’t want to let it go to waste.

What about you? Did any of these facts surprise you or interest you? What takeaways come to mind when you think of your intricate design?

You are a Miracle

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How to Tailor Your Workouts to Meet Your Goals

If you visited last Friday, you read my top fitness recommendations for 2012. And hopefully they inspired you to get moving this week. But ultimately the question becomes, “What is your goal?”

If you’re trying to lose weight versus maintain weight, your fitness regimen will need to look a little different. You’ll need to start at a more intense level. So let’s break down the two scenarios.

If you’re trying to lose weight:

In simple terms, you’ll want to exercise more than you are now. But what’s the ideal? The ideal is exercising 5-7 times per week, with a balance of strength training and cardio. Strength training should be at least 48 hours apart (to let your muscles recoup), and the cardio can be any day of the week.

Now I know you’re thinking, “What?! Do you know how busy I am?! That’s not possible!”

I’m living proof that it is. If I can fit in a rigid exercise schedule with two little ones and a full calendar, anyone can. Here’s another living example…

Keli Gwyn shared the perfect regimen in her comment last week. She does circuit training three days a week and walks the other four days a week. If you’re intent on losing weight (or in Keli’s case, battling a medical condition like osteoporosis), you’ll need to commit to something every day. And the more intense the cardio, the better. Not to mention watching your calorie intake, but that’s another post for another day. :)

So what do you do if you can’t commit to seven days a week? I’d challenge you to aim for five and make them really count. A boot camp class can kickstart the calorie burn by combining cardio and strength. Zumba is a high-intensity cardio workout that will burn more calories than walking. Understand your time limitations and make the most of the time you do have.

If you want to maintain your weight:

Aim to exercise 3-5 times per week. It’s still important to get both strength training and cardio, so if you can find a workout that combines both in one (like a boot camp or a cardio sculpt type of class), that’s great. Again, the more you can maximize your time, the better.

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So there you have it…Two strategies to reach two different goals. No matter how you approach your workout regimen, I think Keli’s words from last week sum it up nicely.

At first I balked at the thought of working out, but I’ve discovered that exercise can be habit forming–in a good way. I feel better, and I feel better about myself. Plus I no longer deal with the guilt that came from knowing I should have been working out but wasn’t. I can look my doctor in the eye when she asks about my exercise regimen.

And don’t we all want to feel better, regardless of what the scale says? :)

So do share, where would you say your goals fall right now? How does your current workout regimen help or hurt that goal? Any other things you’ve learned from your own experiences that you can share?

*photo by John Kasawa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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My Top Fitness Recommendations for the New Year

Top Fitness Recommendations

‘Tis the season for New Years resolutions! And how many of us wrote, “Get in shape,” on our list? (If you read my post last week, you were hopefully challenged to rethink why we’re doing what we’re doing.)

I’ve been working hard to get back in shape for the past six months. (Babies have a way of messing with the body, y’know?) And in the process, I’ve discovered I’m addicted to variety in my workouts.

So I decided to share my top recommendations for ways to get in shape this year.

Get your heart pumping with cardio:

1. Zumba (or Latin fusion/ballroom dance) — I love, love, love Zumba! It requires a teeny bit of coordination, but if that intimidates you, the music alone will make you want to move.
2. Cardio kickboxing — This doesn’t require as much coordination as Zumba, and it’s a great stress reliever. (Just think of punching all your worries away!)
3. Walking/running — Good old standbys. All you need is a road or a track and you can move to your heart’s content.

Sculpt your muscles with toning:

1. Pilates — Pilates focuses on breathing control and strengthening your core (abs and back). You’ll discover muscles you never knew you had!
2. Yoga — While many people think of yoga as meditation and stretching, it’s also great for toning muscles as you hold poses. And if you’re not sure about the meditation aspect, you can find all different levels of “ohm”. My church hosts yoga classes that don’t get “ohm-y” at all, so you can look for that type of venue.
3. Kettlebells — For an all-around toning workout, kettlebells offer variety and challenge.
4. Zumba Toning — Yes, Zumba has toning classes! It combines dance movements with muscle strengthening. Gotta love that!

And for a cardio/toning combo, there are all sorts of boot camp and circuit training classes out there. These pack a major fitness punch and target all your muscle groups for maximum calorie burn.

So look for these options near you and get moving this week!

Have you tried any of these workouts? Do any of them intimidate you? What can you do to get moving this week?

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